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A short story by Charles M. Skinner

A Ghostly Avenger

Title:     A Ghostly Avenger
Author: Charles M. Skinner [More Titles by Skinner]

In Cuthbert, Georgia, is a gravestone thus inscribed: "Sacred to the memory of Jim Brown." No date, no epitaph--for Jim Brown was hanged. And this is the story: At the close of the Civil War a company of Federal soldiers was stationed in Cuthbert, to enforce order pending the return of its people to peaceful occupations. Charles Murphy was a lieutenant in this company. His brother, an officer quartered in a neighboring town, was sent to Cuthbert one day to receive funds for the payment of some men, and left camp toward evening to return to his troop. That night Charles Murphy was awakened by a violent flapping of his tent. It sounded as though a gale was coming, but when he arose to make sure that the pegs and poles of his canvas house were secure, the noise ceased, and he was surprised to find that the air was clear and still. On returning to bed the flapping began again, and this time he dressed himself and went out to make a more careful examination. In the shadow of a tree a man stood beckoning. It was his brother, who, in a low, grave voice, told him that he was in trouble, and asked him to follow where he should lead him. The lieutenant walked swiftly through fields and woods for some miles with his relative--he had at once applied for and received a leave of absence for a few hours--and they descended together a slope to the edge of a swamp, where he stumbled against something. Looking down at the object on which he had tripped, he saw that it was his brother's corpse--not newly dead, but cold and rigid--the pockets rifled, the clothing soaked with mire and blood.

Dazed and terrified, he returned to camp, roused some of his men, and at daybreak secured the body. An effort to gain a clue to the murderer was at once set on foot. It was not long before evidence was secured that led to the arrest of Jim Brown, and there was a hint that his responsibility for the crime was revealed through the same supernatural agency that had apprised Lieutenant Murphy of his bereavement. Brown was an ignorant farm laborer, who had conceived that it was right to kill Yankees, and whose cupidity had been excited by learning that the officer had money concealed about him. He had offered, for a trifling sum, to take his victim by a short cut to his camp, but led him to the swamp instead, where he had shot him through the heart. On the culprit's arrival in Cuthbert he was lynched by the soldiers, but was cut down by their commander before life was extinct, and was formally and conclusively hanged in the next week, after trial and conviction.

[The end]
Charles M. Skinner's short story: Ghostly Avenger