Tale #103: Lavenham Ghost Story

My neighbour, Joyce Campbell, told me this story.

Her grandmother, a woman who went by the name Amanda Buckley, had reason to spend the night in Lavenham, a market town to the north of here.

She took a room in an inn, and from her window she could see the town square – which today is a car park but then was a bustling market during the day, and a meeting place in the evening.

As night fell, a mist began to settle, and soon there was a fog so thick Amanda couldn’t even see the lamps burning around the perimeter of the square. This cloud soon filled her room, mixing with the smoke from her hearth, and eventually the whole room fell into darkness.

Although she knew she was alone in her room, she soon felt as if she was accompanied by another, and soon enough her fears were confirmed when a hand placed itself upon her shoulder, and as she looked down she saw the fingers were as grey as candles. Then a voice, as grating as the sound of a shovel in dirt, whispered quietly in her ear.

Amanda Buckley, so Joyce Campbell said, would never repeat the words this voice spoke to her. But ever after she let it be known that although nearby Dedham – located half one side of the river and half the other, with one foot in Suffolk and the other in Essex – was the town which was supposed to straddle the line that separates the realms of the living and the dead, it was only in Lavenham that she had ever heard the dreams and the desires of the dead.

And, she said, she knew them as intimately if they were her own.

Nine months later she gave birth to a girl, her skin as soft as fog, her hair like wisps of smoke. Who the father was, Amanda would not say. But to claim it was a ghost was as good an excuse as any, I suppose.

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Notes:

1. Written in July 2019

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Tale #102: You Don’t Have To Read This, But I Hope You Do

Dear Sir,

I thought it best to contact you by mail, considering the events of this past week. You don’t have to read this, of course – I’m sure you are very busy, after all – but I hope that you do. Perhaps it will do you good to hear an explanation of events from another point of view.

After the events of Friday night – I’m sure I don’t have to explain that in detail – it seems a vital misunderstanding of the importance of our… tryst (shall we say)… has begun to blossom in your mind. Yes, I enjoyed myself very much – as I hope did you – but I thought a man in your position would have understood, as seemed clear to me, that this was simply an enjoyable dalliance rather than the precursor of something, indeed of anything, deeper, or more personally committing.

Now, it is possible this misunderstanding arose from the manner of my departure, which I admit was in haste, and taken without the necessary politenesses which such occasions surely warrant. So please forgive me for my sudden disappearance – although I should say that the hour was exceedingly late by then, and indeed not just you but most of your guests seemed slightly worse for wear by then. Indeed, even in my haste, I did still call out a ‘goodbye’ across the room to you, but it seems that my words did not rouse you suitably from your slumber for you to recognise it as my farewell.

It seems however, that my words did, indirectly, contribute to our misunderstandings this week, as apparently you were awakened enough by them to have subsequently watched my departure through the windows of your room, catching a glimpse of me fleeing through the front gates as if pursued, and I assume this is where your belief that I had been kidnapped, or was somehow being held in servitude, was formed.

In point of fact, I was simply hurrying to catch the final carriage of the evening, for it was a cold, wet, and very long walk home for me if I endeavoured to miss it, and I was very determined not to, not least because of the clothes I was wearing – I had not even brought a coat, nor boots, and the thought of my gown being ruined by a mile or more of walking through puddles and mud made me shiver in an anxiety probably unknown to those such as yourself, who have others to worry about such mundane matters as the washing of clothes.

Now, having laid out the facts of the evening in question, and having made clear that I accept some fault for the misunderstanding that has, evidently, occurred, I would like to turn to your behaviour in the week since.

It is of course very flattering to discover that you enjoyed the evident delights of my company so much that you’ve since been searching the city to find me – or ‘save me’, as you have reportedly been putting it – but that does not give you the right to barge uninvited into my home, insult my mother, accost my sisters, and accuse all and sundry of god knows what crimes and misdemeanours against me (‘an innocent’, as you kindly put it, although innocent of what I do not know).

My mother has been in tears ever since, and is simply inconsolable. To have someone of your power and standing insult her so brazenly, and with so little foundation, was deeply upsetting for a woman of her years (and long-avowed patriotism), and was, I believe, genuinely shocking to her on a spiritual level. If even half the things she alleges you said to her are true, then, well, I too am truly lost for words.

At least, if I am to search for small mercies, with my mother you were merely verbally abusive. Yet in your overzealous attempts to save me from my own family, you inflicted, beyond the spiteful insults towards their appearances, such grievous injuries on my two sisters that I fear it will be months before they can walk again. I have never seen injuries of such severity inflicted outside of a war, and even with months of rest I am not sure they will ever fully heal.

I am truly sorry I was not here when you called, as perhaps all this upset could have been avoided, although, in my darkest hours, I fear that in fact it would have been much worse. As it was, I happened to be working when you arrived – which is what you no doubt consider my servitude, but to the rest of us is known simply as employment. Now, not only do I have to continue to support myself and my mother on my meagre earnings, but my two crippled sisters, too.

So it seems, even if after all this I somehow decided to consent to attend another one of your parties, there is much less chance of me being able to find the time to attend. I suppose I should consider that at least an amusing irony of the whole affair, and one which presumably would have made me laugh if not for the horror and harm inflicted upon those I love in service of it.

Thank you for the return of my shoe. Please do not call at my house again.

Kind Regards

Cindi

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Notes:

1. Written on October 13th, 2019
2. I wrote another Cinderella tale before
3. Almost a hundred tales ago now

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The Thirteenth New Tale

I want to tell you something.

There was a man whose wife had died, and a woman whose husband had died; and the man had a daughter and the woman also had a daughter. There was a woman who had three daughters. A father had two sons. A widow had two daughters, one who was beautiful and industrious, the other ugly and lazy. A poor man had twelve children and had to work day and night just to feed them. A merchant had two children, a boy and a girl, who were still infants and could not walk. A poor woodcutter lived with his wife and his two children on the edge of a large forest. A tailor had a son who turned out to be small, not much bigger than a thumb. A farmer had a son no bigger than a thumb.

A mother had a little boy of seven who was so fair and lovely that no one could look at him without treating him kindly. A sparrow had four young ones in a swallow’s nest. A sorceress had three sons, and they loved each other dearly. A poor but pious girl lived alone with her mother. A man and his wife were sitting by the entrance to their house.

A discharged soldier had nothing to live on and no longer knew what to do with his life. A poor widow lived all alone in a small cottage, and in front of the cottage was a garden with two rosebushes. A man and his wife lived in a village, and the wife was so lazy that she never wanted to do any work. A poor woodcutter lived with his wife and three daughters on the edge of a lonely forest. A miller had three sons, a mill, a donkey, and a cat. A dog had loyally served a lion for many years. A rich farmer stood in his yard and looked over his field and gardens.

A poor pious peasant died and arrived at the gate to heaven. A tailor and a goldsmith were travelling together, and one evening, after the sun had set behind the mountains, they heard the sound of distant music, which became more and more distinct. A poor man who was a day labourer, so to speak, had such sharp ears that he could hear the grass grow.

A merchant had done good business at the fair. An honest and diligent soldier had earned and saved some money because he had been industrious and had not squandered his earnings in the taverns as other soldiers had. As a peasant went to work in the fields, he said to his wife, ‘Put the meat in some cabbage, and when it’s finished, bring it to me in the field.’

A merchant wanted to take a journey, and he asked his three daughters what he should bring back for them. A king had three daughters, and he wanted to know which one loved him most. A carpenter and a turner wanted to see who could make the best piece of work. A king announced that whoever could tell the best lie would receive his daughter as a bride. Three lazy companions decided to make a bet with one another to decide who was the laziest among them. Twelve servants, who had done nothing all day long, did not want to exert themselves even by evening.

A farmer had a faithful horse that had grown old and could no longer do his work. A donkey was grazing on a hill where the bees were swarming around him. A blood sausage and a liver sausage had been friends for some time, and the blood sausage invited the liver sausage for a meal at her home. A lion had invited most of the animals to a meal, and when they began eating, some animal noticed that the pepper was missing. Little Kurt Bingeling drank from his mother’s breast for seven years.

A carter’s cart became stuck because it was carrying so much wine. A poor boy had to go outside and gather wood on a sled. A poor goose boy went walking along the bank of a large, turbulent river while looking after a flock of white geese. Three women were transformed into flowers that stood in a field.

A young princess was called Snowflower because she was white like snow and was born during the winter. A maiden was all alone in a large forest when a swan came up to her and gave her a ball of yarn. Two maidens were sitting on the edge of a well spinning.

A queen was sitting at a window made of ebony and began sewing. A king, who had three daughters, was sick and asked for some water from the well in his courtyard. A queen put her child out to sea in a golden cradle and let it float away.

All this took place a long time ago, most likely some two thousand years ago.

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Notes:

1. Written in March 2020
2. Part of The New Brothers Grimm project
3. Assembled from Tale 159: A Tall Tale From Ditmarsh; Tale 13: The Three Little Gnomes In The Forest; Tale 130: One-Eye, Two-Eyes, And Three-Eyes; Tale 4: A Tale About The Boy Who Went Forth To Learn What Fear Was; Tale 24: Mother Holle; Tale 44: Godfather Death; Tale 92: The King Of The Golden Mountain; Tale 15: Hansel And Gretel; Tale 45: Thumbling’s Travels; Tale 90: The Young Giant; Tale 109: The Little Shroud; Tale 157: The Sparrow And His Four Children; Tale 197: The Crystal Ball; Tale 103: The Sweet Porridge; Tale 145: The Ungrateful Son; Tale 100: The Devil’s Sooty Brother; Tale 161: Snow White And Rose Red; Tale 128: The Lazy Spinner; Tale 169: The House In The Forest; Tale 216: Puss In Boots;Tale 273: Why Dogs And Cats And Mice Are Enemies; Tale 195: The Grave Mound; Tale 167: The Peasant In Heaven; Tale 182: The Gifts Of The Little Folk; Tale 275: Sharp Ears, The Runner, The Blower, And The Strongman; Tale 232: The Crows; Tale 184: The Nail; Tale 247: Fool’s Gold; Tale 248: The Winter Rose; Tale 223: Princess Mouseskin; Tale 226: The Carpenter And The Turner; Tale 267: The Liar; Tale 268: The Lazy Ones; Tale 151a: The Twelve Lazy Servants; Tale 132: The Fox And The Horse; Tale 262: The War Of The Wasps And The Donkey; Tale 218: The Strange Feast; Tale 274: Why Dogs Sniff One Another; Tale 266: Little Kurt Bingeling; Tale 207: The Blessed Virgin’s Little Glass; Tale 200: The Golden Key; Tale 215: Death And The Goose Boy; Tale 160: A Tale With A Riddle; Tale 230a: Fragments (Snowflower); Tale 249: Prince Swan; Tale 245: The Golden Maiden; Tale 251: Snow White, Snow White, or The Unfortunate Child; Tale 243: The Three Daughters And The Frog King; Tale 222: Okerlo; Tale 47: The Juniper Tree
4. And maybe some others if I accidentally missed listing them
5. Also I think this is likely to be the last of these
6. I hope that is okay.

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The Twelfth New Tale

There once was a miller who lived in a mill. Isn’t that a wonderful way to earn a living?

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Notes:

1. Written in March 2020
2. Part of The New Brothers Grimm project
3. Assembled from Tale 106: The Poor Miller’s Apprentice And The Cat; Tale 131:Pretty Katrinelya And Pif Paf Poltree

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The Eleventh New Tale

A king announced that whoever could tell the best lie would receive his daughter as a bride.

Now the princess was furious and blind with rage. When the king’s daughter saw that there was no hope whatsoever of changing her father’s inclinations, she decided to run away.

She went home and got undressed until she was completely naked, so that she was not dressed. A swarm of bees flew out and covered her entire body from head to foot. But they did not sting or hurt her. Instead, they carried honey to her lips and her entire body glowed through and through with beauty.

When she appeared at the castle in this dress, the people were so astounded they did not know what to say. Then she lit her pipe, sat down in her father’s chair, and said, “You’d better get out of here quickly if you value your life!”

Then the king beat himself and wept and sobbed and screamed with all his heart, so that the whole palace trembled and all his servants rushed to his side. He shed bitter tears and said, “I’ve done a great wrong and don’t deserve to be your father.” And he ran away, and to this day nobody knows what has become of him.

After that nobody dared to oppose her, and she made herself queen of the entire country. Music was played, and everyone danced until dawn.

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Notes:

1. Written in March 2020
2. Part of The New Brothers Grimm project
3. Assembled from Tale 267: The Liar; Tale 58:The Dog And The Sparrow; Tale 65: All Fur; Tale 94: The Clever Farmer’s Daughter; Tale 230: Fragments (Snowflower); Tale 21: Cinderella; Tale 104: The Clever People; Tale 218: The Strange Feast; Tale 277: King Ironhead; Tale 52: King Thrushbeard; Tale 266: Little Kurt Bingeling; Tale 36: The Magic Table, The Golden Donkey, And The Club In The Sack; Tale 54: The Knapsack, The Hat, And The Horn; Tale 222:Okerlo

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If you like the things you've read here please consider subscribing to my patreon. Subscribers get not just early access to content and also the occasional gift, but also my eternal gratitude. Which I'm not sure is very useful, but is certainly very real. Thank you.