Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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Sussex Tragedies and Romances.            201
had had companions. The road by Costell's Wood is lonely —there is no house within a quarter of a mile in any direction, and high trees on each side darken the path. He was doubt­less attacked at disadvantage, robbed and murdered, or partly murdered, and left in the wood, with the instrument of death by his side. And there he lay for four long months, not forty yards from the high road, yet hid from all but the wondering eyes of the poor idiot boy. He, doubtless, had seen the murdered man as he lay fresh in his newly-shed blood—some think, before life had fled ; but, however that may be, there is no doubt that day after day he came and gazed upon the terrible sight, and marked how the birds pecked at its eyes and the jats or dogs fed on its flesh, and how it mouldered away beneath the rains and the dews, until it had become the thing of bones that it was found.
In some respects this undiscovered crime will remind the local reader of a murder—likewise undiscovered—which was committed only a few years ago in the same district, but nearer to Cuckfield. In this case, too, the body of a man unknown was found who had been struck down by a murderous blow, evidently dealt from behind as he was crossing a "gully" in a meadow near Cuckfield Church—the path across this "gully" being a short cut, by which, in going from Hayward's Heath to Brighton, the town of Cuckfield may be avoided. To do this was, no doubt, the object of the murdered man, for it was afterwards ascertained that he had been concerned in some burglarious robberies near London and was flying from the pursuit of the police. The shoes he was wearing were identified as part of the booty of one of these robberies. He was also, it was afterwards discovered, in the neighbour­hood of Cuckfield for another purpose. He had had an accomplice in some of his burglaries, and he had threatened this man, who lived at Croydon, with exposure unless he gave him some " hush money." An appointment had been made for an interview in a lonely part of Sussex, and here, at an inn at Balcombe, the murdered man passed some hours on the
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