Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Phantom Soldier

“Even legends often originate with the belief by the storyteller that they are actually true.”
                                        --R.A. Musick

This is a classic West Virginia ghost tale.

Ruth Ann Musick originally wrote it down. It was one of hundreds of ghost tales her students shared with her at Fairmont State College over the years.

During WWl a young soldier was called to serve sooner than expected. He was newly engaged to a sweet, beautiful girl he had known since childhood. She was the only child of the town’s wealthy merchant.

He bid a fond farewell to his family and fiancé and left for Europe where he was sent to Germany.

The older brother of this soldier jealous of his brother’s good fortune set out to win his fiancé for himself. After a year had passed he convinced her his younger brother didn’t really love her.

He then married her.

On Christmas Eve, the soldier returned unexpectedly. Amidst the cold dark mountain pines he knocked on his older brother’s door. His brother let him in but he was not pleased to see him. His wife was upstairs.

The two brothers talked for a short time and the older brother admitted he had married his wife for her money and position and that if he interfered--he would not hesitate to kill him.

The soldier left but a short while later he returned with a revolver and shot his older brother. He then left the house as quietly as he had come.

The young wife rushed downstairs as she heard the shot ring out. She found her husband bleeding on the floor. Before he died he told what had happened.

She informed the police what he had told her and they searched for several days but the soldier had vanished without a trace.

One Christmas day a telegram arrived addressed to her husband. It announced that his younger brother had been killed in action on December 21st.

The Telltale Lilac Brush and Other West Virginia Ghost Tales, West Virginia University Library, 1960 Ruth Ann Musick

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