Of Ghosts and Monsters

on Sunday, November 02, 2008

Here is another "tall tale" or rural folklore which when you think about it was the rural, agricultural community's version of the modern urban legend. Perhaps, it is actually more correct to say that urban legends are the modern equivalent of these rural folklore. This one is said to originate in the rough farm country of Nova Scotia in the nineteenth Century. If it has changed in substance, it is only because I cannot fully remember the original version but in the ways of oral tradition, have embellished the story when needed. There are probably many versions of this core story around today.

A poor widow had to move into an old abandoned farm house which the locals all shy away from because they said it was haunted. Recently widowed and almost penniless, she also had to take care of her mother and her two young children. So, haunted or not, she was just glad to get a roof over her family's heads. The whole family were of frontier stock; tough as nails and strong in spirit. She had two sons. The older lad, James, was a strapping, tall youth of 15 years and her second was but a toddler of five years of age. The toddler's name was Tom, named after his late father and like his father was of stocky build and short temper. Indeed, if all their problems were not enough, many pitied the poor widow because she had to cope with young Tom's wild and loud tantrums.

The family coped the best they could at the old haunted farm house. They did sense an eerie presence in the house but soon learnt that it could be accommodated as long as they did not venture into the basement larder at night. Whatever that presence was, it was strongest there. During the day, they ran down the stairs and as quickly as they could, take whatever food supplies they needed and then ran back upstairs. But they, never ever went down after sundown.

One cold and dark winter night, Tom was throwing a terrible tantrum in the kitchen and wanted applesauce on his boiled oats. He refused to eat and threw cutlery and plates about and yelled as loud as he could,"I want my applesauce!" His poor mother tried everything to placate the child but he was adamant that he wanted his applesauce and carried on and on. Finally, the Grandma said that she could not take the noise anymore and said that she would go down to the basement larder to get the applesauce. The widow reminded Grandma about the spirit down there but Grandma said she would risk it and go down.

At this point, young James, who felt the burden of being the man of the house said that it would only be appropriate that he go down and get his brother the applesauce. And so, with his heart pounding, he took a lighted candle and went down the dark stairs. When he got to the bottom, he opened the larder door and went in. Almost immediately a chill wind blew out his candle. He fumbled with his matches to re-light the candle but when he did, he saw a hideous ghostly face in front of him. The terrifying apparition said, "I am the Ghost with the One Black Eye. I am the Ghost with the One Black Eye. Be afraid, be very afraid."

James ran up the stairs screaming in fear and told his mother and Grandma about the ghost in the larder. Now as I have said, they were of frontier stock and tough people. Grandma knew that it took a lot to scare a brave lad like James but she also figured that she had faced up to many scary things in her long life and that she could stand up to this ghost. So Grandma, grabbed a lantern and went down the stairs. At the bottom, the hideous face appeared and went right up to Grandma's face and bellowed in an angry voice, "I am the Ghost with the One Black Eye. I am the Ghost with the One Black Eye. Be afraid, be very afraid."

Grandma was so scared that she ran up the stairs, jumping two steps at a time despite her arthritis. Little Tom asked for his applesauce and when he saw that Grandma had not got it, he started yelling again.

Now a desperate mother will do amazing things for her children. Despite what James and Grandma saw, she could not stand not doing anything to placate her youngest child. So, girding up all her courage, she told herself to just close her eyes, run down and get the applesauce and run back up. And so, she tried but once in the larder, she had to open her eyes to look for the applesauce and there right in front of her was the hideous face and the ghost boomed out loudly, "I am the Ghost with the One Black Eye. I am the Ghost with the One Black Eye. Be afraid, be very afraid."

Up ran the poor mother without the applesauce and joined James and Grandma cowering at the far end of the kitchen.

When Tom saw that his mother also came back empty handed, he jumped from his chair and before anyone could stop him, he went down the stairs. They were all so afraid for Tom but none dared to go down after him.

After what seemed like an eternity, Tom came back up the stairs holding a bottle of applesauce and licking it from his hands. His mother scooped him up in her arms in relief but asked, "Tom, didn't you see the Ghost with the One Black Eye down there?"

Still enjoying his applesauce, he lifted up his fist and replied, "Sure I did but now he has two black eyes!"



Janice Thomson said...

Yikes! - what a picture. There may be many versions of this story around but yours is as good as they come LOL.

Jo said...

Yay, Tom! There is a boy who is going to go places in this life. Ghost be d*amned, Tom wanted his applesauce!

Joyce's Ramblings said...

What a story-a real goodie. Tom really wanted his way and he got it. That seems to be the way it is in the world.

Dr.John said...

A great story, well told.

On a limb with Claudia said...

Ok, that story scares the crap out of me....

Just when I thought it was safe to visit Squirrelly again....

Eastcoastdweller said...

I'm guessing Tom grew up to be a trial lawyer.

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