01 October 2010

Friday night folklore: The Spectre’s Cap

Once, at a farm rectory there were, among others, a teenage boy and girl. The boy liked to frighten the girl, but she had got so used to it that noting would scare her any more because if she saw something frightening she simply thought it was the boy up to his old tricks. 

One laundry day a large number of white night-caps got washed and the laundry laid out to dry on the wall around the churchyard. That evening the girl was told to go and get the laundry from the wall, so she went out and started gathering the laundry off the wall.

When she was almost finished she noticed where a white spectre was sitting on a grave in the churchyard and immediately thought that this must be the boy, in one of his attempts to frighten her, so she ran to the spectre, and thinking the boy had taken one of the night-caps she grabbed the cap of it’s head, saying: “You shall not frighten me this time around.”

The she took in the laundry, and when she did she noticed that the boy was inside the house. Now they began to separate the laundry, but there was one more cap than there should have been, and that was stained with earth on the inside. The girl now began to get apprehensive.

The next morning the spectre was still sitting on the grave, and no-one knew what to do about it and no-one dared give it back the cap, so they sent someone to seek advice at the other farms nearby.

An old wise man who lived on another farm said that nothing good would come of it if anyone but the girl were to hand the spectre back its cap. He further advised that she should do this without saying a word and that there should be many witnesses. 

The girl was pressed to do this, and she hesitantly walked up to the spectre, put the cap on its ghostly head and said: “Are you happy now?” But the ghost raised its hand and slapped her hard, saying, as it dived back into its grave, “I’m happy. Are you?”

The girl fell over from the blow and when the people got to her, she was dead. The boy was punished for his frightening pranks, because it was believed that all the trouble had been caused by his attempts to frighten the girl. He never tried to frighten anyone ever again, and thus ends this story.

Copyright notice: The wording used to tell this folk-tale is under copyright. The story itself is not copyrighted. If you want to re-tell it, for a collection of folk-tales, incorporate it into fiction, use it in a school essay or any kind of publication, please tell it in your own words or give the proper attribution if you choose to use the wording unchanged.

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