Downy Blows

More about that Sprightly Master of Mischief

By Granville Wardyworth

Several sightings and attacks by a high-bounding menace in the areas of Hammersmith and Brook Green have been reported in the last few weeks that have people fearing that sprightly master of mischief Spring Heeled Jack has returned to wreak havoc upon London Town again. “It was him for sure,” stated an eyewitness, who spotted the nimble devil across the street from her Brook Green flat. The witness claims she saw a tall, thin figure in a long, dark cloak striding along the street. As he passed, the interloper drew the attention of a stray mongrel that began to bark angrily at him. The creature bent over the shaggy, furious animal and pulled back his hood to reveal long, pointed features. According to the witness, the creature “breathed blue fire into the dog’s face.” Yelping in fright, the dog fled, and the creature turned his face towards the witness, who had shrieked in terror at the sight. The creature did not attack. “It was dark, but I could tell he was leering at me,” the witness said. “Such a ghastly countenance I never saw. He turned and raced away, leaping several feet into the air as he ran and cackling like the devil himself.” This is not the only incident thought to be perpetrated by Spring Heeled Jack. Elisabeth Barber, a young housekeeper at the Blooming Daisy Inn in Hammersmith claims she was walking the few blocks to her flat from her appointment at the inn when a dark-clothed figure leapt at her from the top of a tenement building. The figure attempted to prise Baker’s small valise from her shoulder, ripping her sleeve with long claws that “glinted like rusty silver in the moonlight.” When Baker screamed, several passersby stopped to observe the scene. Apparently deterred by the sudden appearance of so many witnesses, the attacker released Baker and her valise and fled. Baker did not see the man’s face as she says, “My attention was focussed on my satchel, wasn’t it? I just got paid that day.” However, Baker claims that as she watched the attacker flee he stopped and turned to her with a “glare from beyond the gates of Hell.” This attack is similar to one that occurred only a mile and a few days apart. A young man and woman were returning home from a party around half nine when a dark figure leapt over a boundary wall and slapped the surprised young man, scratching his face with long, sharp claws. The assailant then tore the young woman’s new dress and attempted to lay hands upon her person. Recovering quickly from the unexpected slap, the young man hit the assailant about the head with his walking cane. Though the blows seemed to have no affect on the hooded attacker, he was diverted from his assault on the young lady. The young man claims the assailant man stepped away from the young lady and as he did so, his hood fell away from his face. The young man describes the creature as having “a long, pointed chin and a malevolent, fiery red gaze.” The devil-man then bared a mouthful of sharp, jagged teeth at the young couple and jumped right back over the wall. In another reported incident, a gentleman was strolling through St Paul’s Green after a pleasurable night of drink and companionship when an unusually tall, dark stranger crossed his path. The stranger was strolling towards the gentleman, who claims the stranger was muttering to himself in a garbled, high-pitched voice. The gentleman states he was instantly wary of the stranger, who was unnaturally large and seemed wholly unaware of his surroundings. Not wanting to seem loutish, the gentleman nodded at the man as they passed each other in the night. The man looked at him through “evil, shadowed eyes” and “He grinned a horrible, razor-sharp grin. He had the face of a daemon. I was frightened nearly out of my wits.” The stranger passed without incident, and the gentleman was “deeply relieved.” Then he heard a strange, piercing giggle, and the creature suddenly “leapt right over my head to stand before me again and soundly slapped me across my cheek.” The creature then bounded away, cackling madly, and disappeared around a corner. The perpetrator of these dastardly deeds has yet to be officially identified, but the similarities in the descriptions of these attackers cannot be denied. Though police and the “mass media” are sceptical, victims and eyewitnesses are agreed on one thing: this can only be the wicked work of none other than Spring Heeled Jack. Dear readers, as you know I have spent my career reporting on the elusive terror of Spring Heeled Jack. Indeed, as you all well know, these reports, amongst outrageous accusations of scandal-mongering and outright lies, were cited as reasons for my sacking at The Times three years ago. However, my conscience cannot bear for attacks and sighting of this nature can go unreported. If you have any information regarding Spring Heeled Jack or are interested in being connected to one of the various neighbourhood patrols in search of the despicable cad, please contact me, Granville Wardyworth, at The Downy Blower.

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