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Friday, January 27, 2023

The First Winter - Ada and Eleanor Skinner/ William Walker Canfield - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Personal update upfront: Those experimental Covid pills worked!  I'm testing negative and will N95mask for 5 days just in case.  The "mild cold" disappeared with the pills although there's a trace of dizziness lurking in my inner ears.  

Here in metro Detroit we finally got our first real snowstorm and this Iroquois legend has much to teach us.  I went first to the wonderful seasonal books by the Skinner sisters, each labeled for a gem and they truly are gems!  Their story comes from The Pearl Story Book: Stories and Legends of Winter, Christmas & New Year's DayBut my search went further using their acknowledgements to find W.W. Canfield's The Legends of the Iroquois; Told by "The Cornplanter".  Because there are differences I'm giving both to show how the story changed.  I will start with the Skinner adapted version.  

THE FIRST WINTER

(Iroquois Legend)

There was a time when the days were always of the same length, and it was always summer. The red men lived continually in the smile of the Great Spirit and were happy. But there arose a chief who was so powerful that he at last declared himself mightier than the Great Spirit, and taught his brothers to go forth to the plain and mock him. They would call upon the Great Spirit to come and fight with them or would challenge him to take away the crop of growing corn or drive the game from the woods. They would say he was an unkind father to keep himself and their dead brothers in the Happy Hunting Grounds, where the red men could hunt forever without weariness.

They laughed at their old men who had feared for so many moons to reproach the Great Spirit for his unfair treatment of the Indians who were compelled to hunt and fish for game for their wives and children, while their own women had to plant the corn and harvest it.

“In the Happy Hunting Grounds,” they said, “the Great Spirit feeds our brothers and their wives and does not let any foes or dangers come upon them, but here he lets us go hungry many times. If he is as great as you have said, why does he not take care of his children here?”

Then the Great Spirit told them he would turn his smiling face away from them, so that they should have no more light and warmth and they must build fires in the forest if they would see.

But the red men laughed and taunted him, telling him that he had followed one trail so long that he could not get out of it, but would have to come every day and give them light and heat as usual. Then they would dance and make faces at him and taunt him with his helplessness.

In a few days the quick eyes of some of the red men saw in the morning the face of the Great Spirit appear where it was not wont to appear, but they were silent, fearing the jibes of their brothers. Finally, duller eyes noticed the change, and alarm and consternation spread among the people. Each day brought less and less of the Great Spirit’s smile and his countenance was often hidden by dark clouds, while terrible storms beat upon the frightened faces turned in appeal toward the heavens. The strong braves and warriors became as women; the old men covered their heads with skins and starved in the forests; while the women in their lodges crooned the low, mournful wail of the death song. Frosts and snows came upon an unsheltered and stricken race, and many of them perished.

Then the Great Spirit, who had almost removed his face from the sight of men, had pity and told them he would come back. Day after day the few that remained alive watched with joy the return of the sun. They sang in praise of the approaching summer and once more hailed with thankfulness the first blades of growing corn as it burst from the ground. The Great Spirit told his children that every year, as a punishment for the insults they had given their Father, they should feel for a season the might of the power they had mocked; and they murmured not, but bowed their heads in meekness.

***

The Skinner sisters, Ada Maria and Eleanor Louise in their acknowledgements section of The Pearl Story Book: Stories & Legends of Winter, Christmas & New Year's Day credit W.W. Canfield and I was able to track down his The Legends of the Iroquois; Told by "The Cornplanter".  I want to show this version told by the Seneca chief known as The Cornplanter.  It is slightly different, but worth looking at the original traditional version.

THE FIRST WINTER

T

HERE was a time when the days were always of the same length, and it was always summer. The red men lived continually in the smile of the Great Spirit, and they were happy. But there arose a chief who was so powerful that he at last declared himself mightier than the Great Spirit, and taught his brothers to go forth to the plains and mock the Great Spirit. They would call upon the Great Spirit to come and fight with them, or would challenge him to take away the crop of growing corn, or drive the game from the woods; they would say he was an unkind father to keep to himself and their dead brothers the Happy Hunting-Grounds, where the red men could hunt forever without weariness. They laughed at their old men, who had feared for so many moons to reproach the Great Spirit for his unfair treatment of the Indians, who were compelled to hunt and fish for game for their wives and children, while their women had to plant the corn and harvest it. "In the Happy Hunting-Grounds," they said, "the Great Spirit feeds our brothers and their wives and does not let any foes or dangers come upon them, but here he lets us go hungry many times. If he is as great as you have said, why does he not take care of his children here?"

Then the Great Spirit told them he would turn his smiling face away from them, so that they should have no more light and warmth, and must build fires in the forests if they would see.

But the red men laughed and taunted him, telling him that he had followed one trail so long that he could not get out of it, but would have to come every day and give them light and heat. Then they would dance and make faces at him and taunt him with his helplessness.

In a few days the quick eyes of some of the red men saw in the morning the face of the Great Spirit appear where it was not wont to appear, but they were silent, fearing the jibes of their brothers. Finally duller eyes noticed the change, and alarm and consternation spread among the people. Each day brought less and less of the Great Spirit's smile and his countenance was often hidden by dark clouds, while terrible storms beat upon the frightened faces turned in appeal toward the heavens. The strong braves and warriors became as women; the old men covered their heads with skins and starved in the forests; while the women in their lodges crooned the low, mournful wail of the death-song, and the papooses crawled among the caves in the rocks and mountains and died unheeded. Frosts and snows came upon an unsheltered and stricken race, and many of them perished.

Then the Great Spirit, who had almost removed his face from the sight of the red men, had pity, and told them he would come back. Day after day the few that remained alive watched with joy the return of the sun. They sang in praise of the approaching summer, and once more hailed with thankfulness the first blades of growing corn as it burst from the ground. The Great Spirit told his children that every year, as a punishment for the insults they had given their Father, they should feel for a season the might of the power they had mocked; and they murmured not, but bowed their heads in meekness.

From the bodies of those who had perished of cold and hunger sprang all manner of poisonous plants, which spread themselves over the earth to vex and endanger the lives of the Indians of all generations; and in after years when any of the Indians from any reason "ate of the fatal root," it was said of them that they had "eaten of the bodies of their brothers who had defied the Great Spirit."

***

Be careful of how you interpret the weather.  If there's one thing it's guaranteed to do . . . it's change!  Until our days get much longer, let's remember this wisdom of when that respect was missing.

****************

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  


At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-

  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm

  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"

The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:        

         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html

         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html

         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales

         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.

       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 

 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.

     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!

    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.

You can see why I recommend these to you. 

Have fun discovering even more stories

Friday, January 20, 2023

"All Together Now" Summer Reading Theme

Getting sick has a benefit of time to think.  Covid hit this week.

I was in a rehearsal and lay down until I was due onstage.  When I got up I was so dizzy I looked drunk!  Actually up until the dizziness, I thought I just had a mild cold.  The dizziness was almost dismissed as a middle ear infection & I nearly didn't decide to go to the doctor.  (Guess I flunked my own medical certification.)  It was the last day I could be prescribed an experimental drug.  (My husband was told his beast of a cold started earlier & so he can't get medication for it, just treat the symptoms.)

Started taking it the night of the 18th & should finish the morning of the 25th.  At that point it is expected I can stop quarantining & wear a mask for the next 5 days as I may yet have some Covid germs I might spread. I'm told that with this latest highly contagious variant, the shots can't stop it, but can at least make it mild.  At the theatre at least 2 other people have gotten what appeared to be a mild cold, but turned out to be Covid.

This is the result of my Covid-affected thoughts.  I'd appreciate a reaction to it!

I've been mulling over the current multi-state collaborative Children's Summer Reading theme of "All Together Now" with it's inclusive message.  As one librarian I know said, when pondering program planning, "There's Friendship Bracelets, but we've already done that!"  Another saw a focus on Kindness.  

As I said, I've been mulling over it and realized if you offer folk tales from all over the world, the message comes through in a variety of ways.  This was the visual I put together for a postcard, with my contact information on the back.

Front

Now the further mulling. . .  Does it say enough?  I plan a big stew pot with strips of paper for each of the many stories I might tell on the theme.  The child drawing from the stew pot the next story has the option of reading the title and the place where it originated or giving it to me to announce.  The stories often include participation for the entire group, several of my songs let a child choose a way for the audience to participate in an action of the child's choice, and, of course, I'll have a separate sauce pot to choose the next child helping me.  Depending on the audience size, that might let everyone have a turn since those song actions increase the number involved.

Of course some of the stories are Public Domain and might be posted here in my frequent Keeping the Public in Public Domain offerings

I'm curious to get reactions, both to my postcard and program plans before I commit to it.  Suggestions?  Reactions?

Right now I'm still in a MULLigan Stew.


Friday, January 13, 2023

Curtin - The Thirteenth Son of the King of Erin - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Found on https://www.lovethispic.com/

I'm trying to get my computer to react properly.  It refuses!  Today as I write this it is Friday the 13th and I'm not normally a Triskaidekaphobe, but my computer is crashing the browser repeatedly and my Open Office isn't responding either!  As for Blogger, it, too, is acting weirdly.

Grrrrrrrr! 

Decided it is time to find a story where the number 13 is important.   The folktales collected by Jeremiah Curtin show it can indeed be lucky, depending on who you are. 

There are several folk elements in the story, even a bit of Cinderella, and it reminds me of a favorite Scottish tale I tell called "Assipattle and the Mester Stoorworm."  Two Irish words appear in the story: Diachbha means "divinity" or "fate." and Urfeist, "great serpent."  Don't ask me how to pronounce them.  I always need research on Celtic pronunciation.  There also are two things in the original that will seem strange: our hero, Sean Ruad, tends the king's cows and is called a "cowboy", but I suggest calling him a "cowherd",  also they talk about him wearing a "blue dress", but I'd suggest another word like "outfit" for he clearly isn't cross-dressing!

THE THIRTEENTH SON OF THE KING OF ERIN.

THERE was a king in Erin long ago who had thirteen sons, and as they grew up he taught them good learning and every exercise and art befitting their rank.

One day the king went hunting, and saw a swan swimming in a lake with thirteen little ones. She kept driving away the thirteenth, and would not let it come near the others.

The king wondered greatly at this, and when he came home he summoned his Sean dall Glic (old blind sage), and said: "I saw a great wonder to-day while out hunting,—a swan with thirteen cygnets, and she driving away the thirteenth continually, and keeping the twelve with her. Tell me the cause and reason of this. Why should a mother hate her thirteenth little one, and guard the other twelve?"

"I will tell you," said the old blind sage: "all creatures on earth, whether beast or human, which have thirteen young, should put the thirteenth away, and let it wander for itself through the world and find its fate, so that the will of Heaven may work upon it, and not come down on the others. Now you have thirteen sons, and you must give the thirteenth to the Diachbha." 

"Then that is the meaning of the swan on the lake,—I must give up my thirteenth son to the Diachbha?"

"It is," said the old blind sage; "you must give up one of your thirteen sons."

"But how can I give one of them away when I am so fond of all; and which one shall it be?"

"I'll tell you what to do. When the thirteen come home to-night, shut the door against the last that comes."

Now one of the sons was slow, not so keen nor so sharp as another; but the eldest, who was called Sean Ruadh, was the best, the hero of them all. And it happened that night that he came home last, and when he came his father shut the door against him. The boy raised his hands and said: "Father, what are you going to do with me; what do you wish?"

"It is my duty," said the father, "to give one of my sons to the Diachbha; and as you are the thirteenth, you must go."

"Well, give me my outfit for the road."

The outfit was brought, Sean Ruadh put it on; then the father gave him a black-haired steed that could overtake the wind before him, and outstrip the wind behind.

Sean Ruadh mounted the steed and hurried away. He went on each day without rest, and slept in the woods at night.

One morning he put on some old clothes which he had in a pack on the saddle, and leaving his horse in the woods, went aside to an opening. He was not long there when a king rode up and stopped before him.

"Who are you, and where are you going?" asked the king. "Oh!" said Sean Ruadh, "I am astray. I do not know where to go, nor what I am to do."

"If that is how you are, I'll tell you what to do,—come with me."

"Why should I go with you?" asked Sean Ruadh.

"Well, I have a great many cows, and I have no one to go with them, no one to mind them. I am in great trouble also. My daughter will die a terrible death very soon."

"How will she die?" asked Sean Ruadh.

"A great serpent of the sea, a monster which must get a king's daughter to devour every seven years. Once in seven years this thing comes up out of the sea for its meat. The turn has now come to my daughter, and we don't know what day will the urfeist appear. The whole castle and all of us are in mourning for my wretched child."

"Perhaps some one will come to save her," said Sean Ruadh.

"Oh! there is a whole army of kings' sons who have come, and they all promise to save her; but I'm in dread none of them will meet the urfeist."

Sean Ruadh agreed with the king to serve for seven years, and went home with him.

Next morning Sean Ruadh drove out the king's cows to pasture.

Now there were three giants not far from the king's place. They lived in three castles in sight of each other, and every night each of these giants shouted just before going to bed. So loud was the shout that each let out of himself that the people heard it in all the country around.

Sean Ruadh drove the cattle up to the giant's land, pushed down the wall, and let them in. The grass was very high,—three times better than any on the king's pastures.

As Sean Ruadh sat watching the cattle, a giant came running towards him and called out: "I don't know whether to put a pinch of you in my nose, or a bite of you in my mouth!"

"Bad luck to me," said Sean Ruadh, "if I came here but to take the life out of you!"

"How would you like to fight,—on the gray stones, or with sharp swords?" asked the giant.

"I'll fight you," said Sean Ruadh, "on the gray stones, where your great legs will be going down, and mine standing high."

They faced one another then, and began to fight. At the first encounter Sean Ruadh put the giant down to his knees among the hard gray stones, at the second he put him to his waist, and at the third to his shoulders.

"Come, take me out of this," cried the giant, "and I'll give you my castle and all I've got. I'll give you my sword of light that never fails to kill at a blow. I'll give you my black horse that can overtake the wind before, and outstrip the wind behind. These are all up there in my castle."

Sean Ruadh killed the giant and went up to the castle, where the housekeeper said to him: "Oh! it is you that are welcome. You have killed the dirty giant that was here. Come with me now till I show you all the riches and treasures."

She opened the door of the giant's store-room and said: "All these are yours. Here are the keys of the castle."

"Keep them till I come again, and wake me in the evening," said Sean Ruadh, lying down on the giant's bed.

He slept till evening; then the housekeeper roused him, and he drove the king's cattle home. The cows never gave so much milk as that night. They gave as much as in a whole week before.

Sean Ruadh met the king, and asked: "What news from your daughter?"

"The great serpent did not come to-day," said the king; "but he may come to-morrow."

"Well, to-morrow he may not come till another day," said Sean Ruadh.

Now the king knew nothing of the strength of Sean Ruadh, who was bare-footed, ragged, and shabby.

The second morning Sean Ruadh put the king's cows in the second giant's land. Out came the second giant with the same questions and threats as the first, and the cowboy spoke as on the day before.

They fell to fighting; and when the giant was to his shoulders in the hard gray rocks, he said: "I'll give you my sword of light and my brown-haired horse if you'll spare my life."

"Where is your sword of light?" asked Sean Ruadh.

"It is hung up over my bed."

Sean Ruadh ran to the giant's castle, and took the sword, which screamed out when he seized it; but he held it fast, hurried back to the giant, and asked, "How shall I try the edge of this sword?"

"Against a stick," was the reply.

"I see no stick better than your own head," said Sean Ruadh; and with that he swept the head off the giant.

The cowboy now went back to the castle and hung up the sword. "Blessing to you," said the housekeeper; "you have killed the giant! Come, now, and I'll show you his riches and treasures, which are yours forever."

Sean Ruadh found more treasure in this castle than in the first one. When he had seen all, he gave the keys to the housekeeper till he should need them. He slept as on the day before, then drove the cows home in the evening.

The king said: "I have the luck since you came to me. My cows give three times as much milk to-day as they did yesterday."

"Well," said Sean Ruadh, "have you any account of the urfeist?"

"He didn't come to-day," said the king; "but he may come to-morrow."

Sean Ruadh went out with the king's cows on the third day, and drove them to the third giant's land, who came out and fought a more desperate battle than either of the other two; but the cowboy pushed him down among the gray rocks to his shoulders and killed him.

At the castle of the third giant he was received with gladness by the housekeeper, who showed him the treasures and gave him the keys; but he left the keys with her till he should need them. That evening the king's cows had more milk than ever before.

On the fourth day Sean Ruadh went out with the cows, but stopped at the first giant's castle. The housekeeper at his command brought out the dress of the giant, which was all black. He put on the giant's apparel, black as night, and girded on his sword of light. Then he mounted the black-haired steed, which overtook the wind before, and outstripped the wind behind; and rushing on between earth and sky, he never stopped till he came to the beach, where he saw hundreds upon hundreds of kings' sons, and champions, who were anxious to save the king's daughter, but were so frightened at the terrible urfeist that they would not go near her.

When he had seen the princess and the trembling champions, Sean Ruadh turned his black steed to the castle. Presently the king saw, riding between earth and sky, a splendid stranger, who stopped before him.

"What is that I see on the shore?" asked the stranger. "Is it a fair, or some great meeting?"

"Haven't you heard," asked the king, "that a monster is coming to destroy my daughter to-day?"

"No, I haven't heard anything," answered the stranger, who turned away and disappeared.

Soon the black horseman was before the princess, who was sitting alone on a rock near the sea. As she looked at the stranger, she thought he was the finest man on earth, and her heart was cheered.

"Have you no one to save you?" he asked.

"No one."

"Will you let me lay my head on your lap till the urfeist comes? Then rouse me."

He put his head on her lap and fell asleep. While he slept, the princess took three hairs from his head and hid them in her bosom. As soon as she had hidden the hairs, she saw the urfeist coming on the sea, great as an island, and throwing up water to the sky as he moved. She roused the stranger, who sprang up to defend her.

The urfeist came upon shore, and was advancing on the princess with mouth open and wide as a bridge, when the stranger stood before him and said: "This woman is mine, not yours!"

Then drawing his sword of light, he swept off the monster's head with a blow; but the head rushed back to its place, and grew on again.

In a twinkle the urfeist turned and went back to the sea; but as he went, he said: "I'll be here again to-morrow, and swallow the whole world before me as I come."

"Well," answered the stranger, "maybe another will come to meet you."

Sean Ruadh mounted his black steed, and was gone before the princess could stop him. Sad was her heart when she saw him rush off between the earth and sky more swiftly than any wind.

Sean Ruadh went to the first giant's castle and put away his horse, clothes, and sword. Then he slept on the giant's bed till evening, when the housekeeper woke him, and he drove home the cows. Meeting the king, he asked: "Well, how has your daughter fared to-day?"

"Oh! the urfeist came out of the sea to carry her away; but a wonderful black champion came riding between earth and sky and saved her."

"Who was he?"

"Oh! there is many a man who says he did it. But my daughter isn't saved yet, for the urfeist said he'd come to-morrow."

"Well, never fear; perhaps another champion will come to-morrow."

Next morning Sean Ruadh drove the king's cows to the land of the second giant, where he left them feeding, and then went to the castle, where the housekeeper met him and said: "You are welcome. I'm here before you, and all is well." "Let the brown horse be brought; let the giant's apparel and sword be ready for me," said Sean Ruadh.

The apparel was brought, the beautiful blue dress of the second giant, and his sword of light. Sean Ruadh put on the apparel, took the sword, mounted the brown steed, and sped away between earth and air three times more swiftly than the day before.

He rode first to the seashore, saw the king's daughter sitting on the rock alone, and the princes and champions far away, trembling in dread of the urfeist. Then he rode to the king, enquired about the crowd on the seashore, and received the same answer as before. "But is there no man to save her?" asked Sean Ruadh.

"Oh! there are men enough," said the king, "who promise to save her, and say they are brave; but there is no man of them who will stand to his word and face the urfeist when he rises from the sea."

Sean Ruadh was away before the king knew it, and rode to the princess in his suit of blue, bearing his sword of light. "Is there no one to save you?" asked he.

"No one."

"Let me lay my head on your lap, and when the urfeist comes, rouse me."

He put his head on her lap, and while he slept she took out the three hairs, compared them with his hair, and said to herself: "You are the man who was here yesterday."

When the urfeist appeared, coming over the sea, the princess roused the stranger, who sprang up and hurried to the beach.

The monster, moving at a greater speed, and raising more water than on the day before, came with open mouth to land. Again Sean Ruadh stood in his way, and with one blow of the giant's sword made two halves of the urfeist. But the two halves rushed together, and were one as before.

Then the urfeist turned to the sea again, and said as he went: "All the champions on earth won't save her from me to-morrow!"

Sean Ruadh sprang to his steed and back to the castle. He went, leaving the princess in despair at his going. She tore her hair and wept for the loss of the blue champion,—the one man who had dared to save her.

Sean Ruadh put on his old clothes, and drove home the cows as usual. The king said: "A strange champion, all dressed in blue, saved my daughter to-day; but she is grieving her life away because he is gone."

"Well, that is a small matter, since her life is safe," said Sean Ruadh.

There was a feast for the whole world that night at the king's castle, and gladness was on every face that the king's daughter was safe again.

Next day Sean Ruadh drove the cows to the third giant's pasture, went to the castle, and told the housekeeper to bring the giant's sword and apparel, and have the red steed led to the door. The third giant's dress had as many colors as there are in the sky, and his boots were of blue glass.

Sean Ruadh, dressed and mounted on his red steed, was the most beautiful man in the world. When ready to start, the housekeeper said to him: "The beast will be so enraged this time that no arms can stop him; he will rise from the sea with three great swords coming out of his mouth, and he could cut to pieces and swallow the whole world if it stood before him in battle. There is only one way to conquer the urfeist, and I will show it to you. Take this brown apple, put it in your bosom, and when he comes rushing from the sea with open mouth, do you throw the apple down his throat, and the great urfeist will melt away and die on the strand."

Sean Ruadh went on the red steed between earth and sky, with thrice the speed of the day before. He saw the maiden sitting on the rock alone, saw the trembling kings' sons in the distance watching to know what would happen, and saw the king hoping for some one to save his daughter; then he went to the princess, and put his head on her lap; when he had fallen asleep, she took the three hairs from her bosom, and looking at them, said: "You are the man who saved me yesterday."

The urfeist was not long in coming. The princess roused Sean Ruadh, who sprang to his feet and went to the sea. The urfeist came up enormous, terrible to look at, with a mouth big enough to swallow the world, and three sharp swords coming out of it. When he saw Sean Ruadh, he sprang at him with a roar; but Sean Ruadh threw the apple into his mouth, and the beast fell helpless on the strand, flattened out and melted away to a dirty jelly on the shore.

Then Sean Ruadh went towards the princess and said: "That urfeist will never trouble man or woman again."

The princess ran and tried to cling to him; but he was on the red steed, rushing away between earth and sky, before she could stop him. She held, however, so firmly to one of the blue glass boots that Sean Ruadh had to leave it in her hands.

When he drove home the cows that night, the king came out, and Sean Ruadh asked: "What news from the urfeist?"

"Oh!" said the king, "I've had the luck since you came to me. A champion wearing all the colors of the sky, and riding a red steed between earth and air, destroyed the urfeist to-day. My daughter is safe forever; but she is ready to kill herself because she hasn't the man that saved her."

That night there was a feast in the king's castle such as no one had ever seen before. The halls were filled with princes and champions, and each one said: "I am the man that saved the princess!"

The king sent for the old blind sage, and asked, what should he do to find the man who saved his daughter. The old blind sage said,—

"Send out word to all the world that the man whose foot the blue glass boot will fit is the champion who killed the urfeist, and you'll give him your daughter in marriage."

The king sent out word to the world to come to try on the boot. It was too large for some, too small for others. When all had failed, the old sage said,—

"All have tried the boot but the cowboy."

"Oh! he is always out with the cows; what use in his trying," said the king.

"No matter," answered the old blind sage; "let twenty men go and bring down the cowboy."

The king sent up twenty men, who found the cowboy sleeping in the shadow of a stone wall. They began to make a hay rope to bind him; but he woke up, and had twenty ropes ready before they had one. Then he jumped at them, tied the twenty in a bundle, and fastened the bundle to the wall. They waited and waited at the castle for the twenty men and the cowboy, till at last the king sent twenty men more, with swords, to know what was the delay.

When they came, this twenty began to make a hay rope to tie the cowboy; but he had twenty ropes made before their one, and no matter how they fought, the cowboy tied the twenty in a bundle, and the bundle to the other twenty men.

When neither party came back, the old blind sage said to the king: "Go up now, and throw yourself down before the cowboy, for he has tied the forty men in two bundles, and the bundles to each other."

The king went and threw himself down before the cowboy, who raised him up and said: "What is this for?"

"Come down now and try on the glass boot," said the king.

"How can I go, when I have work to do here?"

"Oh! never mind; you'll come back soon enough to do the work."

The cowboy untied the forty men and went down with the king. When he stood in front of the castle, he saw the princess sitting in her upper chamber, and the glass boot on the window-sill before her.

That moment the boot sprang from the window through the air to him, and went on his foot of itself. The princess was downstairs in a twinkle, and in the arms of Sean Ruadh.

The whole place was crowded with kings' sons and champions, who claimed that they had saved the princess.

"What are these men here for?" asked Sean Ruadh. "Oh! they have been trying to put on the boot," said the king.

With that Sean Ruadh drew his sword of light, swept the heads off every man of them, and threw heads and bodies on the dirt-heap behind the castle.

Then the king sent ships with messengers to all the kings and queens of the world,—to the kings of Spain, France, Greece, and Lochlin, and to Diarmuid, son of the monarch of light,—to come to the wedding of his daughter and Sean Ruadh.

Sean Ruadh, after the wedding, went with his wife to live in the kingdom of the giants, and left his father-in-law on his own land.


May the 13th be lucky for you.  After all, it moved me to pass along this story.

*****************

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  


At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-

  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm

  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"

The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:        

         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html

         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html

         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales

         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.

       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 

 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.

     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!

    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.

You can see why I recommend these to you. 

Have fun discovering even more stories

Friday, January 6, 2023

Adams and Atchinson - The Stupid Princess - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Which is better to be beautiful or smart?  A Book of Princess Stories has just entered the Public Domain and proves to be the perfect time to consider that question!  

Public Domain activist that I am, I have more to say about that after today's story.  The trio of books (A Book of Giant Stories, 1926; A Book of Princess Stories, 1927; A Book of Enchantment, 1928) by the storytelling team of  Kathleen Adams and Frances Elizabeth Atchinson presents a perfect example of the importance of Public Domain . . . the sooner, the better!

As storytellers the idea of a curse being changed by the intervention of another is not unusual.  This story is different from Sleeping Beauty, but you will certainly think of that story, too.

The book is not available online yet so this is scanned from my own copy as best I could reproduce it.



 

I called the authors a Storytelling Team for the only clue I've been able to unearth is that their three books came as the result of their telling a cycle of stories on the topic at the Indianapolis Public Library.  Children attending the storytellings clamored for more.  My checking produced no biographical information about them online, including at the Indianapolis Public Library, nor in reference books about children's authors.  My findings about the storytelling came from the Preface to their first book, A Book of Giant Stories, which last year became Public Domain.  Next year their third and last book, A Book of Enchantment finally will become Public Domain.  This trio of books isn't easily found and the fact that the first book just became available a year ago makes it especially hard.  It also is a perfect reason for Public Domain.  I hope the books will now begin to be reprinted and more widely known.  If they become available online I will be especially happy.

Duke University's Center for the Study of the Public Domain did an excellent job of looking at the better known entrants for this year.  Beyond that, however, drop down to the section titled "The Best Things in Life Are Free" (that song appropriately entered Public Domain this year).  Examples like The Great Gatsby and Winnie-the-Pooh are used to show the value of the Public Domain to creativity, cultural access, and unedited history.  A further section called "The Tip of the (Melting) Iceberg" shows:

For the vast majority—probably 99%—of works from 1927, no copyright holder financially benefited from continued copyright. Yet they remained off limits, for no good reason. (A Congressional Research Service report indicated that only around 2% of copyrights between 55 and 75 years old retain commercial value. After 75 years, that percentage is even lower. Most older works are “orphan works,” where the copyright owner cannot be found at all.)

Further down, the section "Oh NO, Canada!"  talks about how their copyright laws have take a step the other way:

On December 30, 2022, Canada is freezing its public domain for the next 20 years with its C-19 copyright law. Yes, that’s right, Canada is doing the same thing the US did in 1998, with all of the negative effects that have now been well documented.

The verdict is in: adding an extra 20 years to the US copyright term was a “big mistake.” This is not a quote from someone who is equivocal about copyright; it is a quote from the former head of our Copyright Office. Indeed, there is a consensus among policymakers, economists, and academics that lengthy copyright extensions impose costs that far outweigh their benefits. Why? The benefits are minuscule—economists (including five Nobel laureates) have shown that term extension does not spur additional creativity. At the same time, it causes enormous harm, locking away millions of older works that are no longer generating any revenue for the copyright holders. Films have disintegrated because preservationists can’t digitize them. The works of historians and journalists are incomplete. Artists find their cultural heritage off limits. (See studies like the Hargreaves Review commissioned by the UK government, empirical comparisons of the availability of copyrighted works and public domain works, and economic studies of the effects of copyright.)

There's more in the article, but the reason this is happening is when countries "comply with trade deals that require harmonization of copyright terms. With harmonization, there is a catch: countries are always made to harmonize with the longer term, never the shorter term, even if the shorter term is a better choice for both economic and policy reasons."

My Public Domain "soapbox" has many people seeing the foolishness of delaying Public Domain, but the part that can be extremely difficult is when the status is based on the life of the creator.  Today's pair of authors have no documented dates of death.  U.S. works created since 1978 have the life-plus-70 term.  The E.U. does this, too, although their specifics can be even a bit more complicated.   

Fortunately, as long as you are not recording a specific work (print, video are the main ways), you are able to tell a story and let it blow into your audience's minds like a dandelion seed on the wind.

Keep on telling!

*****************

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  


At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-

  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm

  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"

The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:        

         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html

         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html

         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales

         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.

       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 

 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.

     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!

    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.

You can see why I recommend these to you. 

Have fun discovering even more stories

Friday, December 30, 2022

O'Donnell - The Inextinguishable Candle of the Old White House - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

 

2022 is nearly over, but will, of course continue to haunt us.  I went looking for stories to celebrate the Scottish celebration of Hogmanay since it will be a long time until this Scottish New Year's Eve celebration returns on my Saturday schedule of posting here.  That link can give you a brief Wikipedia overview of it.  Couldn't find stories specifically about it, but the above banner is from  Spirithalloween.com's blog which gives two quick New Year's Eve ghost stories and links to even more.  

Neither are specifically Scottish and I really wanted that for Hogmanay.  Their second ghost story, however, is about a ghostly Lady in White.  There are many ghost stories featuring a Lady in White, including a Scottish one in Elliott O'Donnell's Scottish Ghost Stories and he said "Like most European countries, Scotland claims its share of phantasms in the form of 'White Ladies.' " O'Donnell also mentions "Sir Walter Scott's 'White Lady of Avenel,' and there are endless others, both in reality and fiction."  I was tempted to post O'Donnell's fifteenth case -- he calls each story a Case -- "The White Lady of Rownam Avenue, Near Stirling", especially with my own Stirling family roots.  Tempted, yes, but preferred the book's opening story or case, as it occurs around party time.  The story's opening and closing has long unbroken text, setting up and later concluding the story.  O'Donnell's opening case is actually two in one, but for partying let's skip to 

THE INEXTINGUISHABLE CANDLE OF THE OLD WHITE HOUSE

There was once a house, known as "The Old White House," that used to stand by the side of the road, close to where you say the horse first took fright. Some people of the name of Holkitt, relations of dear old Sir Arthur Holkitt, and great friends of ours, used to live there. The house, it was popularly believed, had been built on the site of an ancient burial-ground. Every one used to say it was haunted, and the Holkitts had great trouble in getting servants. The appearance of the haunted house did not belie its reputation, for its grey walls, sombre garden, gloomy hall, dark passages and staircase, and sinister-looking attics could not have been more thoroughly suggestive of all kinds of ghostly phenomena. Moreover, the whole atmosphere of the place, no matter how hot and bright the sun, was cold and dreary, and it was a constant source of wonder to every one how Lady Holkitt could live there. She was, however, always cheerful, and used to tell me that nothing would induce her to leave a spot dear to so many generations of her family, and associated with the happiest recollections in her life. She was very fond of company, and there was scarcely a week in the year in which she had not some one staying with her. I can only remember her as widow, her husband, a major in the Gordon Highlanders, having died in India before I was born. She had two daughters, Margaret and Alice, both considered very handsome, but some years older than I. This difference in age, however, did not prevent our being on very friendly terms, and I was constantly invited to their house—in the summer to croquet and archery, in the winter to balls. Like most elderly ladies of that period, Lady Holkitt was very fond of cards, and she and my mother used frequently to play bezique and cribbage, whilst the girls and I indulged in something rather more frivolous. On those occasions the carriage always came for us at ten, since my mother, for some reason or other—I had a shrewd suspicion it was on account of the alleged haunting—would never return home after that time. When she accepted an invitation to a ball, it was always conditionally that Lady Holkitt would put us both up for the night, and the carriage used, then, to come for us the following day, after one o'clock luncheon. I shall never forget the last time I went to a dance at "The Old White House," though it is now rather more than fifty years ago. My mother had not been very well for some weeks, having, so she thought, taken cold internally. She had not had a doctor, partly because she did not feel ill enough, and partly because the only medical man near us was an apothecary, of whose skill she had a very poor opinion. My mother had quite made up her mind to accompany me to the ball, but at the last moment, the weather being appalling, she yielded to advice, and my aunt Norah, who happened to be staying with us at the time, chaperoned me instead. It was snowing when we set out, and as it snowed all through the night and most of the next day, the roads were completely blocked, and we had to remain at "The Old White House" from Monday evening till the following Thursday. Aunt Norah and I occupied separate bedrooms, and mine was at the end of a long passage away from everybody else's. Prior to this my mother and I had always shared a room—the only really pleasant one, so I thought, in the house—overlooking the front lawn. But on this occasion there being a number of visitors, belated like ourselves, we had to squeeze in wherever we could; and as my aunt and I were to have separate rooms (my aunt liking a room to herself), it was natural that she should be allotted the largest and most comfortable. Consequently, she was domiciled in the wing where all the other visitors slept, whilst I was forced to retreat to a passage on the other side of the house, where, with the exception of my apartment, there were none other but lumber-rooms. All went smoothly and happily, and nothing interrupted the harmony of our visit, till the night before we returned home. We had had supper—our meals were differently arranged in those days—and Margaret and I were ascending the staircase on our way to bed, when Alice, who had run upstairs ahead of us, met us with a scared face.

"Oh, do come to my room!" she cried. "Something has happened to Mary." (Mary was one of the housemaids.)

We both accompanied her, and, on entering her room, found Mary seated on a chair, sobbing hysterically. One only had to glance at the girl to see that she was suffering from some very severe shock. Though normally red-cheeked and placid, in short, a very healthy, stolid creature, and the last person to be easily perturbed, she was now without a vestige of colour, whilst the pupils of her eyes were dilated with terror, and her entire body, from the crown of her head to the soles of her feet, shook as if with ague. I was immeasurably shocked to see her.

"Why, Mary," Margaret exclaimed, "whatever is the matter? What has happened?"

"It's the candle, miss," the girl gasped, "the candle in Miss Trevor's room. I can't put it out."

"You can't put it out, why, what nonsense!" Margaret said. "Are you mad?"

"It is as true as I sit here, miss," Mary panted. "I put the candle on the mantelpiece while I set the room to rights, and when I had finished and came to blow it out, I couldn't. I blew, and blew, and blew, but it hadn't any effect, and then I grew afraid, miss, horribly afraid," and here she buried her face in her hands, and shuddered. "I've never been frightened like this before, miss," she returned slowly, "and I've come away and left the candle burning."

"How absurd of you," Margaret scolded. "We must go and put it out at once. I have a good mind to make you come with us, Mary—but there! Stay where you are, and for goodness' sake stop crying, or every one in the house will hear you."

So saying, Margaret hurried off,—Alice and I accompanying her,—and on arriving outside my room, the door of which was wide open, we perceived the lighted candle standing in the position Mary had described. I looked at the girls, and perceived, in spite of my endeavours not to perceive it, the unmistakable signs of a great fear—fear of something they suspected but dared not name—lurking in the corners of their eyes.

"Who will go first?" Margaret demanded. No one spoke.

"Well then," she continued, "I will," and, suiting the action to the word, she stepped over the threshold. The moment she did so, the door began to close. "This is curious!" she cried. "Push!"

We did; we all three pushed; but, despite our efforts, the door came resolutely to, and we were shut out. Then before we had time to recover from our astonishment, it flew open; but before we could cross the threshold, it came violently to in the same manner as before. Some unseen force held it against us.

"Let us make one more effort," Margaret said, "and if we don't succeed, we will call for help."

Obeying her instructions, we once again pushed. I was nearest the handle, and in some manner,—how, none of us could ever explain,—just as the door opened of its own accord, I slipped and fell inside. The door then closed immediately with a bang, and, to my unmitigated horror, I found myself alone in the room. For some seconds I was spellbound, and could not even collect my thoughts sufficiently to frame a reply to the piteous entreaties of the Holkitts, who kept banging on the door, and imploring me to tell them what was happening. Never in the hideous excitement of nightmare had I experienced such a terror as the terror that room conveyed to my mind. Though nothing was to be seen, nothing but the candle, the light of which was peculiarly white and vibrating, I felt the presence of something inexpressibly menacing and horrible. It was in the light, the atmosphere, the furniture, everywhere. On all sides it surrounded me, on all sides I was threatened—threatened in a manner that was strange and deadly. Something suggesting to me that the source of evil originated in the candle, and that if I could succeed in extinguishing the light I should free myself from the ghostly presence, I advanced towards the mantelpiece, and, drawing in a deep breath, blew—blew with the energy born of desperation. It had no effect. I repeated my efforts; I blew frantically, madly, but all to no purpose; the candle still burned—burned softly and mockingly. Then a fearful terror seized me, and, flying to the opposite side of the room, I buried my face against the wall, and waited for what the sickly beatings of my heart warned me was coming. Constrained to look, I slightly, only very, very slightly, moved round, and there, there, floating stealthily towards me through the air, came the candle, the vibrating, glowing, baleful candle. I hid my face again, and prayed God to let me faint. Nearer and nearer drew the light; wilder and wilder the wrenches at the door. Closer and closer I pressed myself to the wall. And then, then when the final throes of agony were more than human heart and brain could stand, there came the suspicion, the suggestion of a touch—of a touch so horrid that my prayers were at last answered, and I fainted. When I recovered, I was in Margaret's room, and half a dozen well-known forms were gathered round me. It appears that with the collapse of my body on the floor, the door, that had so effectually resisted every effort to turn the handle, immediately flew open, and I was discovered lying on the ground with the candle—still alight—on the ground beside me. My aunt experienced no difficulty in blowing out the refractory candle, and I was carried with the greatest tenderness into the other wing of the house, where I slept that night. Little was said about the incident next day, but all who knew of it expressed in their faces the utmost anxiety—an anxiety which, now that I had recovered, greatly puzzled me. On our return home, another shock awaited me; we found to our dismay that my mother was seriously ill, and that the doctor, who had been sent for from Perth the previous evening, just about the time of my adventure with the candle, had stated that she might not survive the day. His warning was fulfilled—she died at sunset. Her death, of course, may have had nothing at all to do with the candle episode, yet it struck me then as an odd coincidence, and seems all the more strange to me after hearing your account of the bogle that touched your dear father in the road, so near the spot where the Holkitts' house once stood. I could never discover whether Lady Holkitt or her daughters ever saw anything of a superphysical nature in their house; after my experience they were always very reticent on that subject, and naturally I did not like to press it. On Lady Holkitt's death, Margaret and Alice sold the house, which was eventually pulled down, as no one would live in it, and I believe the ground on which it stood is now a turnip field. That, my dear, is all I can tell you.


Let's hear it for electricity!

If you read that Wikipedia link I gave to Elliott O'Donnell, you will find he died at the ripe old age of 93 after a varied career where initially "he travelled in the United States instead, working on a cattle range in Oregon and becoming a policeman during the Chicago Railway Strike of 1894. Returning to England on the SS Elbe, he worked there as a schoolmaster and trained for theatre in London..."  It was his spare time writing occult fantasies that led to his specializing in "what were claimed as true stories of ghosts and hauntings. These were immensely popular, but his flamboyant style and amazing stories suggest that he combined fact with fiction."  While publishing heavily on such matters he became a lecturer and authority on  supernatural affairs and often was asked to solve alleged ghost problems.

If your electrical power goes out, you can always light a candle, but I also hope you can extinguish it.

Happy New Year (and Hogmanay)!