Sunday, October 22, 2017



Halloween – when the unseen is all around us... but not the unheard, because we have stories to make the hair rise on the back of our necks!

Raph took us to China for both his tales. The late Mandarin Wang made a ghostly appearance, turning the spout of the tea-pot to point at his murderer! And later in the evening Lo Shin made a good bargain with his purchase of words from the Wise Man in the market. By heeding the advice he was given, he avoided death and disaster in a number of ways, and by repeating two simple phrases to the magistrate investigating the murder of Lo Shin's wife he was able to point the finger at the criminals guilty of it.

Maddie stayed more or less in Europe with two traditional tales: the Soldier and Death from Russia, with the magic sack, which you can read here ; and The Juniper-Tree, which you can read here [though I must point out that reading the texts is only a pale substitute for hearing the stories told.]

Janet told a version of the Lorelei story, the rock above the Rhine haunted by the spirit of the woman who killed herself over her faithless lover and then lures men to their deaths by the beauty of her song.

Mike told the tale of a deserted house, told to him by the grand-daughter of a woman who had worked there. It had belonged to a man who became so possessive of his wife that he shut her away from human contact. What happened next is left deliberately obscure: in any case, she vanishes, and he is inconsolable. In response to his weeping and prayers, she re-appears mysteriously. But for all his protestations he has not changed, so, according to the bargain he had made, as she returned to him, so he must go with her, and both vanish mysteriously. An archaeologist, drinking in the same pub, [where else does Mike get his stories?] relates the finding, by Wayland's Smithy, just up the hill from the deserted house, of two bodies from the 19th century, a man and a woman, the woman's skull damaged by a sharp blow, and yet her skeleton has its arms round the man, tight, very tight.

Mike finished the evening with Mary of Eling, the tale of a zombie in a churchyard to the east of Southampton Water.

Anne of Salisbury and Juliet of Frome listened – but who knows who else was present?

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