Many tried to talk to him, but he only shook his head; so, as nobody could make out where he came from or what he wanted, they made sure he was the spirit of some poor wretch who was tossing about the Head, longing for a snug corner in holy ground.
The priest went and tried to get some sense out of him.
“Is it Christian burial you’re wanting?” asked his reverence; but the creature only shook his head.
“Is it word sent to wife and daughters you’ve left orphans and widows, you’d like?” But no, it wasn’t that.
“Is it for sin committed you’re doomed to walk this way? Would masses comfort ye? There’s a heathen,” said his reverence; “Did you ever hear tell of a Christian that shook his head when masses is mentioned?”
“Perhaps he doesn’t understand English, Father,” says one of the officers who was there; “Try him with Latin.”
No sooner said than done. This priest started off with such a string of aves and paters that the stranger fairly took his heels and ran.
“He is an evil spirit,” explained the priest, when he stopped, tired out, and I have exorcized him.”
This is an excerpt from the short story The Last Squire Ennismore by Charlotte Riddell included in the collection Twelve Irish Ghost Stories. I love it! There is actually a reason for the stranger’s reaction, but I love the sense of humour that comes from this little snippet. The story is like many others I’ve read, it sounds like a lot of Irish lore, but the style, the language, the sense of place is so strong and so peculiar that it’s a joy to read.
In addition to be part of the Thursday Quotables meme at Bookshelf Fantasies, which I often take part to, this post is also part of the Reading Ireland Month.
Lulu @ Roadside Reader
What an interesting excerpt! I love that finally someone in a story seemed to have brought up the possibility that not all spectres can speak/understand English!
LOL! That’s true. But then they suggested to use Latin. It made me laugh! 🙂
Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies
Oh, that’s terrific! I love a good ghost story, and I really like the hint of legend in there as well.
I love ghost stories too… of course 😉
And I especially like classic ones. They have a very special flavour.