Fate of the mystery shawl

 Bega Pioneers' Museum has countless files on people and places. This one is about a Mystery at Twofold Bay in 1853. 

Church donation: A Spanish woman wearing a mantilla like the garment found by the author. The shawl was to be handed to a convent upon the author's death.

Church donation: A Spanish woman wearing a mantilla like the garment found by the author. The shawl was to be handed to a convent upon the author's death.

ON A walk along Twofold Bay a  young man has fond a box with a body of a woman inside. He has removed a package from her body and it contained a scarf with a brilliant and colourful pattern. He took it to a store and asked that he be used as decoration for a cabbage tree hat He was told that the material was a very expensive cashmere shawl worth 800 to 100 guineas. He was uncertain was to do with the shawl belonging to the murdered woman.

AT LENGTH a thought struck me. As the vessel was Spanish and the crew Spanish, possibly the murdered lady was Spanish also, most likely a Catholic, and therefore had faith in masses for the repose of the soul.

On this supposition I had a will prepared by my solicitor directing that after my decease a certain packet, with distinguishing marks, now deposited in the strong room of a Sydney bank, be handed to the lady superior of a convent not 100 miles from Sydney.

On a day not many years distant the good lady of that convent will have the packet.

On opening it she will find the shawl, with instructions to dispose of it to the best advantage, one half the proceeds to go to the convent, the other half to be expended in masses for the repose of the soul of an unknown lady murdered at sea off Twofold Bay in the year 1853.

My narrative is finished. Casuists may blame me for the delay. I care not. I prefer doing things in my own way.

All the actors of that day must long since have gone to their account.

Nothing more can ever be known of the shawl’s history. When the sea gives up its dead, perhaps.

I see at intervals the wonderful shawl, its beauty unimpaired, beyond the reach of thieves, as beautiful as ever. I myself must soon pass away, and perhaps in the spirit land I may be thanked by the poor murdered lady. Ah, well!

Note. A fortnight after I discovered the remains, a portion of the trunk of a mutilated female body was washed up on the beach at Mallacoota Inlet, 20 miles south of the Nullagry Creek.

The portion was much decomposed, but it was noticed that the scalp was covered with a profusion of beautiful dark hair over a yard in length.