Fisher’S Ghost

The following incident comes from Australia, and is well-known in that part of the world. It is usually known as “Fisher’s Ghost,”. A number of years ago, a free settler, named John Fisher, who had long successfully cultivated a grant of land in a remote district, and who was known to be possessed of a considerable sum of money, had been missing for some time after having visited the nearest market town, whither he had been in the habit of repairing with cattle and produce for sale.

An inquiry was instituted by his acquaintances; but his head servant, or rather his assistant on the farm–an ex-convict, who had lived many years with him in that situation–declared that his master had left the colony for some time on business, and that he expected him to return in a few months. As this man was generally known as Fisher’s confidential servant, his assertion was believed–though some expressed surprise at the settler’s abrupt and clandestine departure; for his character was good in every way. The ‘month’s wonder’ soon subsided, however, and Fisher was forgotten. His assistant, meanwhile, managed the farm, bought and sold, and spent money freely. If questioned, which was but rarely, he would express his surprise at his master’s delay, and pretend to expect him daily.

A few months after he had been first missed, a neighbouring settler, who was returning late on Saturday night from the market town, had occasion to pass within half a mile of Fisher’s house. As he was riding by the fence which separated the farm from the high road, he distinctly saw the figure of a man seated on the railing, and at once recognized the form and features of his lost neighbor. He instantly stopped and called to him by name; but the figure descended from the railing, and pointing appealingly toward the house, walked slowly across the field in that direction. The settler, having lost sight of him in the gloom, proceeded on his journey, and informed his family and neighbors that he had seen Fisher and spoken to him. On inquiry, however, Fisher’s assistant said that he had not arrived, and affected to laugh at the settler’s story–insinuating that he had probably drunk too freely at the market. The neighbors were, however, not satisfied.

The strange appearance of Fisher, sitting on the rail and pointing, with so much meaning, toward his own house aroused their suspicions, and they insisted upon a strict and immediate investigation by the police. The party of investigators took with them an old and clever native. They had not proceeded far in the underbrush when they discovered a log, on which was a dark brown stain. This the native examined, and at once declared it to be ‘_white man’s blood_.’ He then, without hesitation, set off at a full run, toward a pond not far from the house. He ran backwards and forwards about the pond, like a dog on the scent; and finally, borrowing a ram-rod from one of the settlers, ran it into the earth.

He did this in one or two places; and finally said: ‘_White man here._’ The spot was immediately dug up, and a corpse, identified as that of Fisher, was discovered, its skull fractured, and evidently many weeks buried. The guilty assistant was immediately arrested, and tried at Sydney, on circumstantial evidence alone–strong enough, however, to convict him, in spite of his self-possession, and protestations of innocence. He was sentenced to death; and, previous to his execution, made an ample confession of his guilt.”

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