Wednesday, December 12, 2018

C062. Ghosts and Witches

28. Spirits, Seen and Unseen. Text Source: Nights with Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris. Online at Project Gutenberg. This is not so much a story but a discussion, and I have highlighted the relevant portions below with standardized spelling; click here for the original spelling plus relevant notes.

Aunt Tempy saw a child talking with ghosts:

You know that little gal of Riah's? Well, I was sitting up there in my house 'while ago, when, bless gracious! first news I know, I hear that chile talking in the other room. I allow to myself, she ain't talking to Riah, 'cause Riah ain't come yet, and then I crept up, and there was the chile setting right flat in the middle of the floor, laughing and talking and making motions like she see somebody in the corner. Ijust stood there and watch her, and I ain't a living human if she don't do like there was somebody or another in there with her. She ask 'em for to stay on their own side, and then, when it seem like they come towards her, then she say she gonna get a switch and drive 'em back. It make me feel so cold and curious that I just took and come 'way from there, and if there's something another there, it's be them and Riah for it.

Daddy Jack has seen ghosts:

I is been see plenty ghost; I no afraid them; I is been punch them 'way with me cane. I is been shoo them upon their own side the road. Them is been walk when the moon stand low; then I is been seen. You no walk with me then. He very bad. You call, they no answer. When they call, hold your mouth shut. He very bad for make answer, when the haunt holler. Them call you 'way from this land. I hear them call; I shut me eye, I shake me head.

When I is been young man, me do go for get water, and when I do dip piggin [pail] 'neath the creek, I hear voice for call me—"Jack! O Jack!" I stand, I listen, I hear the voice—"Jack! Jack! O Jack!" I think he been Sissy Ann; I ask 'em, "Why you been call me, Sissy Ann?" Sissy Ann stretch he eye big, "I no been call. Dead ghost is been call. Them haunt do call you."

Then I rise me eye, and I is been seen going by sundown; he is been going backward. I tell Sissy Ann for look at we uncle, going backward by sundown. Sissy Ann put he two hand upon me eyes, and he do blind me. He say I been see one dead ghost.

Ki! Enough then. 'Cause by and by, so long time, folks come fetch we uncle stretch out. He is been take with the hiccup; he throw he head this way; he throw he head that way. He is been take the hiccup; the hiccup is been take 'em—the cramp is been fetch 'em. I is been see more dead ghost, but me no spot 'em like this.

Remus asks Jack if he turns his coat inside-out to scare off ghosts, and Jack explains about Jack-o-Lanterns:

Turn coat no for scare dead ghost. He scare them Jack-me-Lantern. One time I is been make me way through thick swamp. I do come hot, I do come cold. I feel me back quake; me breath come fast. I look; me ain't see nothing; I listen; me ain't hear nothing. I look, there the Jack-me-Lantern making he way through the bush; he coming straight by me. He light been flick-flicker; he get close and close. I ain't can stand this; one foot get heavy, the hair upon me head lift up. The Jack-me-Lantern, he get high, he get low, he come close. Then I think I been hear old folks talk turn your coat-sleave when the Jack-me-Lantern is been run you. I pull, I twist, I jerk at them jacket; he ain't come. He is been grow on me back. Jack-me-Lantern fly close. I say me pray upon the jacket; he is been jerk loose; the sleave he do turn. Jack-me-Lantern, he see this, he lift up, he say 'Phew!' he done gone! You no walk in the swamp 'cept you is carry your coat 'cross the arm.

Aunt Tempy on Jack-o-Lanterns:

I hear tell, that this here Jacky-ma-Lantern is a sure enough spirit. Spirits ain't going to walk and walk 'less they got something on their mind, and I hear tell that this here Jacky-ma-Lantern is occasioned by a man what got killed. Folks killed him and took his money, and now his haunt done gone and got a light for to hunt up where his money is. Mighty curious if folks can hone after money when they done gone. I don't know what he want to be rambling 'round with a light when he done dead. If anybody got any hard feelings against me, I want 'em to take it out while they're in the flesh; when they come a-haunting me, then I'm done—I'm just done.

Jack is proud to be a witch, and he explains how to tell if you are a witch:

When the moon is shine low, wet your hand with the pot-liquor grease; rub young heifer upon he nose; get upon he back. Must hold 'em by he ear; must go gallop, gallop down the lane, till he do come 'cross one big gully. Must holler, "Double, double, double up! Double, double, double up!" Heifer jump, you witch; heifer no jump, you no witch.

Jack tells about a witch's skin:

I is been hear them talk about old witch. He do leave he skin where he is start from. Man been come pass by; he is find them skin. He say: Uch ti! He one green skin; I fix for dry 'em."

Man hang 'em by the fire. Skin, he do shrink, it do shrivel. By and by he do smell bad; man, he hold he nose. He do wait. Skin shrink, skin stink, skin shrivel. He do get so bad, man pitch 'em in the yard. He wait; he is wait, he is listen. By and by, he hear the witch come. Witch, he do sharp he claw on the fence; he is snap he jaw—flick! flick! flick! He come hunt for him skin. He find un. He try 'em on this way; he no fit. He try 'em on that way; he no fit. He try 'em on the other way; he no fit. He put 'em upon he head; skin he no fit. He put 'em upon he foot; skin he no fit. He cuss, he swear; skin he no fit. He cut he caper; skin he no fit. By and by he holler, '''Tis me, Skin! Why you no know me? Skin, 'tis me! Why you no know me?"

Skin, he no talk nothing at all. Witch he do jump, he do holler; make no difference. Skin he talk nothing at all. Man, he take torch, he look in yard. He see big black Wolf lay by the skin. He tooth show; he eye shine. Man drive 'em 'way; he is come back. Man burn the skin; he is been come back no more.

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