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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 had come.

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 rope.

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 among them.

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 ?




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