Knocking at the Tomb (North American Folk Tale)

Folk Tales, North American Folk Tales8009

Knock, knock, knock! The bell has just gone twelve, and there is the clang again upon the iron door of the tomb. The few people of Lanesboro who are paying the penance of misdeeds or late suppers, by lying awake at that dread hour, gather their blankets around their shoulders and mutter a word of prayer for deliverance against unwholesome visitors of the night. Why is the old Berkshire town so troubled? Who is it that lies buried in that tomb, with its ornament of Masonic symbols? Why was the heavy iron knocker placed on the door? The question is asked, but no one will answer it, nor will any say who the woman is that so often visits the cemetery at the stroke of midnight and sounds the call into the chamber of the dead. Starlight, moonlight, or storm–it makes no difference to the woman.

There she goes, in her black cloak, seen dim in the night, except where there are snow and moon together, and there she waits, her hand on the knocker, for the bell to strike to set up her clangor. Some say that she is crazy, and it is her freak to do this thing. Is she calling on the corpses to rise and have a dance among the graves? or has she been asked to call the occupant of that house at a given hour? Perhaps, weary of life, she is asking for admittance to the rest and silence of the tomb. She has long been beneath the sod, this troubler of dreams. Who knows her secret?

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