An account of mysterious happenings at Gordon Bridge
There was one house at the Gordon Bridge, originally built as a pub but had never been licensed. I was working at the opposite side of the river to this house, while a shepherd was camped about half-a-mile up the river.
The house had once been a changing station for coach horses and the shepherd told me that it was haunted, as every night a light shone in the window of the tap-room. The room had a stone floor and was intended to accommodate travellers. There was a fireplace and they could sit and smoke and have their rum hot if they so wished.
Sure enough, when the evening breeze sprang up about sundown a light showed in the window of the room that was intended for the tap-room and after we had our supper Billy, who was one of the gang, asked me to come with him to investigate. So we went over to the other side of the river and along the road till we came opposite the lighted window. Then we crept up in the shadow till we stood under the light.
The window was too high to look through, so Billy mounted on my shoulders and looked in. He then jumped down laughing like blazes. "Come on," he shouted and made a dive for the door. There was nothing m the room but the end of a log that some tramp had dragged in and the other end was in the fireplace still burning. It was the kind of wood that smoulders and when a breeze catches it, flares up. We had a look through the house and then strolled back to our camp.
In the meantime a man they called Hoppy Gordon came to the camp. His business was carting the mail, that is a few books and some cheap clothing and a drop of rum, when he could dodge the police. When we got into camp he told us he had called at the house but his horses took fright, so he called out to know if there was anyone at home but got no answer; yet he was sure he saw two shadows cross the lighted window and heard someone whispering. He said he wouldn't stay in that house for a king's ransom.
Then Billy laughed at him and told him he had no right to be knocking about the bush on his own and he ought to get someone to look after him. Gordon said he'd bet him a fiver that he himself wasn't game to go and sleép in the house, in fact he would bet him a fiver that he wouldn't go and stay in the house till sunrise.
Billy took up the challenge. "Let me have a bottle of rum to make me sleep", he said, "and let me take Little Missy (a three-chambered revolver).
Well, the wager was made and we took Billy up to the house and left him there. At about 10 o'clock we all turned in, but Hoppy Gordon was missing, no one took äny notice of this, as he was always prowling about half the night. Billy told us the next day that he couldn't sleep at first but after he had drunk half the rum he went off and about the middle of the night was awakened to see a tall figure with a white surplice over him covering him from head to foot.
"Hullo" said Billy after he had cleared the sleep out of his eyes, "what the hell do you want here? You'd better clear out and let a man sleep." At the same time he picked up his revolver which was on a box by the side of his bed. But the ghost never spoke or moved.
"Well," says Billy, "if you won't, clear out or speak, will you have a drink?" taking a stiff nip himself. But still the ghost neither moved nor spoke.
"Well" said Billy, "I'll make a real ghost of you if you're not out of here by the time I count five, one... two ... three ... four ... five BANG!"
The ghost put his hand up with a bullet between his first two fingers.
Billy fired again and the ghost held up the second bullet. Then Billy fired the last shot and the same thing happened . . . the ghost held up the third bullet
"Darn you," said Billy, "I'll bloody well shift you this time" and loaded again.
"Wait a minute," said the ghost, I'll have a drink".
It was old Hoppy Gordon and he had extracted the bullets from the shells while Bily had been asleep. Then he woke Billy and tried to scare him to leave the house. When they had finished the rum he said, "It's no further use you staying here, we might as well go back to your camp for the rest of the night."
As Billy had had his first sleepout he consented and they came and roused the camp just as the magpies were calling out to wake the world. Then Billy said, "Now Hoppy, I'll have that fiver!"
"No you won't," replied Hoppy, "The bet was that you had to stay in the house till sunrise, so I claim the fiver."
So Billy swore till the air was blue, but old Hoppy only grinned. Billy then threatened to give Hoppy away to the police unless he paid up the bet. So much for the haunted house.