Friday Night Folktales: The Money Ghost

Once upon a time, long ago, there was a rich farmer. He was believed to have great riches in coins as well as property, but when he died and the estate was divided between the heirs, no money could be found. After he had been buried the people of the farm where the church was located noticed that there was something haunting the cemetery.

One of the farm-workers was a fearless man. He decided to spend a night in the cemetery and see if he could find out more about the haunting. He wanted to blend in if there really were ghosts there, so he wrapped himself in a white linen shroud and rolled himself in consecrated soil and took up a position near the cemetery gate.

The sun set and it was getting dark when he saw the earth above the farmer’s grave begin to stir as if it were being shovelled from the grave. Soon the farmer came out of the grave, dressed in his shroud. He noticed the farm-worker and walked up to him, saying, “Are you one of us?”

“Yes, I am” answered our man.

“Then come with me,” said the ghost. “We shall have some fun together tonight.”

They set off together and the ghost moved much faster than the living man, who couldn’t keep up. Then the ghost said: “Your are strangely slow for one of our kind.”

The other answered: “That is because I had bad feet while I was alive.”

“I had better carry you then,” said the ghost and took the man on his back. They were now able to move very fast and were soon before the doors to the storehouse belonging to the farm were the farmer had lived. People had noticed that it was haunted and much had been broken in there, but nothing had been taken.

The ghost kicked up the door to get in and entered and started rooting around, throwing and breaking things. Then he slid under a large chest and started digging in the dirt until he finally pulled out a cask full of coins. While he was doing this his companion had closed the door and covered all the windows so no light could be seen, but when he looked at the money it was as if it shone in the dark.

The ghost emptied the cask on the floor and spread the money around and then started picking it up again, but the man delayed him as much as possible. Three times the ghost filled the cask. The man knew that the sun was rising and said: “Soon the night will be over.”

“The night is not over yet,” answered the ghost, “while it is but half-finished. I usually empty and fill the cask four times each night, with time to spare for getting home and back into my grave.”

Again he emptied the cask, but didn’t realise how much the man had delayed him. The man now opened the door and daylight flooded in. The ghost was startled and ran out, but the man got out first and ran ahead of him, since the ghost was now weakened by the daylight.

Finally he reached the grave, but the man had got there before him and and had tied a string around his mittens and was dangling them into the grave, effectively stopping the ghost from entering it. He said to the ghost: “I will never let you back in unless you promise never to stir from it again.”

“You have betrayed me,” said the ghost, “but I must promise you this so I can return to my resting place.”

The man then removed his mittens and the ghost went into the grave, which closed up after him. The man immediately went back to the farm, which was not far off, and had arrived before the people were up. He told his story and was rewarded by being allowed to keep the money. The people considered it well-earned, and besides they thought the ghost would come back for it, but the ghost kept his word and never stirred abroad again.

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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