Chapter 1 - Sentenced to death
It was a cold, bleak morning on the 2nd of March, 1806,
when the grim faced judge sentenced Jack Mackman to death for the murder of a
young policeman. Throughout the trial Jack had claimed he
was innocent and, on hearing the verdict, stared silently at the jury who had found
him guilty of this crime. After several minutes Jack said in a loud voice 'I'm innocent! To prove this, no grass will
grow on my grave for ten years!' Nobody took much
notice and Jack was taken back to the gaol.
He woke the next morning to the sound of hammering,
and looking out his small window, could see some men
getting the gallows ready for his hanging. He lay back on
his bunk and shut his eyes. The scraping of the door made
him jump and, as he saw the gaoler, he realized his time
They walked slowly towards the wooden platform. The
hangman came to put the covering over his head, but Jack
yelled 'I'm innocent - you remember what I said!' He
struggled, but it was no use. The rope was put round his
neck and everything was ready. Suddenly the trap-door
opened. Jack's body jerked, then hung limply from the
The people watching looked uneasily from one to
another. 'What if he wasn't guilty?' some of them whispered. It was quite a while before the hangman and the
gaoler took the body down. They bundled it into a
waiting wagon, drove several miles out of town to the
graveyard, and there they buried him.
Chapter 2 - No Grass Grows
Several months passed before some town people, who
had come to see another grave, happened to notice Jack's
dry dusty resting place. 'Look at this' one said 'all the
other graves have nice green grass covering them while
this one is all dirt.' They stared at the mound of dirt - all
of them thinking back to the last words lack had spoken
before he was hanged. Trying to act casually, one man
suggested they plant some grass seed. They did this -
but as soon as the young grass came through, it withered
and died. More seed was planted, but it too, died. In
desperation the men dug up some slabs of thick, green
grass already growing in the graveyard and put it on Jack's
grave. They watered it and went home, quite sure they
had solved the problem.
Three days later the men stood with amazed faces
looking at what had been a green, grassy grave, the same
as all the others in the cemetery, now a heap of brown dirt.
They looked from one to another, knowing now that all
they could do was to wait the ten years to see if what Jack
had said would come true.
Chapter 3 - Proved Innocent
For the next ten years Jack's grave hung like a black cloud
over the small town. People talked about it in their
homes, in the shops and on the streets. The cemetery
seemed to draw all kinds of people -- all hoping by some
miracle the grass might start to grow.
The years gradually passed. People began to look suspiciously at one another, because if what Jack had said
came true, there could be a person guilty of murder free
At dawn, exactly ten years after the hanging, several of
the town's people rode quietly out the graveyard. To their
amazement, Jack's grave was as green as the others.
To ease their consciences, they had the tombstone
changed to say that he had been wrongly hanged and was
innocent of the murder. All the official files were altered
too, but all this would not bring Jack back to life, and
who knows who the real murderer was ?