Haunted by the Ghost
of a Murdered Child

migratory legends of type 4025
edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 1999-2009


Contents

  1. Mother Mine, in the Fold, Fold (Iceland).

  2. The Child Phantom (Sweden).

  3. The Crying Child (Poland).


Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Mother Mine, in the Fold, Fold

Iceland

A young woman who lived on a farm became pregnant. After giving birth to the child she set it out to die of exposure, not an uncommon act in this country before it became punishable by severe penalties. Now one day it happened that the young woman was invited to a dancing party. However, she had no good clothes, so she stayed at home in a sour mood. That evening, while milking the ewes in the fold, she complained aloud that for the want of a proper dress she could not go to the party. She had scarcely spoken when she heard the following song:

Mother mine, in the fold, fold
You need not be so sad, sad.
You can wear my castoff rags,
So you can dance,
And dance.
The young woman who had let her child die of exposure thought that she recognized its voice. She took such a fright that she lost her mind and remained insane the rest of her life.




The Child Phantom

Sweden

Many years ago there died on the estate of Sundshult, in the parish of Nafverstad, a child of illegitimate birth, which, because of this, was not christened and could not be accorded Christian burial, or a place in heaven, and whose spirit, therefore, was left to wander the earth, disturbing the rest and making night uncomfortable for the people of the neighborhood.

One time, just before Christmas, the parish shoemaker, on his rounds, was detained at the house of a patron, and, having much work before him, he was still sewing late into the night, when he was unexpectedly startled from his employment by a little child appearing before him, which said, "Why do you sit there? Move aside."

"For what?" asked the shoemaker.

"Because I wish to dance," said the specter.

"Dance away, then!" said the shoemaker.

When the child had danced some time, it disappeared, but returned soon and said, "I will dance again, and I'll dance your light out for you."

"No," said the shoemaker, "let the light alone. But who are you that you are here in this manner?"

"I live under the lower stone of the steps to the porch."

"Who put you there?" asked the shoemaker.

"Watch when it dawns, and you will see my mother coming, wearing a red cap. But help me out of this, and I'll never dance again."

This the shoemaker promised to do, and the specter vanished.

The next day a servant girl from the neighboring estate came, who wore upon her head a red handkerchief. Digging was begun under the designated step, and in time the skeleton of a child was found, encased in a wooden tub. The body was that day taken to the churchyard, and the mother, who had destroyed her child, turned over to the authorities. Since then the child specter has danced no more.




The Crying Child

Poland

In Krosnowo a servant girl had a child. In order to hide her shame she suffocated it immediately following its birth, then buried it in a turf shed. That same evening a man walked by the turf shed and heard pitiable crying. Others who passed this place experienced the same thing. People say that the poor child will have to continue crying until it is dug up and buried in a consecrated graveyard.




Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised May 4, 2009.