01 July 2011

Friday Night Folk-tale: The Jug of Milk

The theme of pouring a bottle of scotch (or vodka or brandy or gin or sake or whatever) over a drinking man’s grave is well known, but some ghosts don’t crave alcohol but something softer:

Once upon a time a passing traveller stopped by a farm where there lived a prosperous farmer and his wife, a hospitable and generous woman. The visitor exchanged pleasantries with her and she offered him some refreshment, but he refused and said he was in too much of a hurry to accept. Nevertheless she went and got some milk in a jug and offered it to him, but he said he didn’t want any, but would have some on his return journey. He then took leave of her and continued on his way. 

The traveller's destination is not known, only that he needed to cross a treacherous river on the way there but was drowned in the attempt. His body was recovered and buried in the graveyard of the church next to the aforesaid farm. 

The night after the funeral he came to the farmer’s wife in a dream and asked for the milk he had been promised, but she paid him no heed, thinking it was just a dream. The next night she again dreamt he came to her, but this time he looked very threatening and ugly and demanded to be given the milk.

The good woman wondered what she could do to stop this haunting and finally she had an idea. She filled the jug with good, fresh milk and carried it out to the graveyard and poured it over the man’s grave. After that she had no more dreams of him.

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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