Saturday, October 4, 2014

Newfoundland: A Wedding Pact

One classic Newfoundland ghost story is often told in Casey’s Lane in downtown St. Johns. It is about an unusual Wedding Pact.

St. Johns 1800s
Matt Trilligan like many young boys from St. John’s went to sea as a sailor in order to see the world. One winter, home on leave he was smitten with a local beauty named Kathleen. Kathleen returned his affection and the two became engaged.

At the couple’s wedding, as was the custom Matt drank rum with the men in one room as Kathleen stayed in another with the women. They too were drinking but not as heavily as the men.

As the liquor flowed so did the talk. The matrons in the room felt it was their duty to warn Kathleen-- for a life married to a sailor was not easy. They told her she would have to become used to being alone and always worried whether her husband would return.

Matt who had entered the room to check on his bride overheard this conversation. Either the rum or the Devil’s mischief got into him for he crossed the room and took a crucifix off the wall.

He then stated this oath to his new wife.

“If death should come to me--you my loving wife will be the first to know. Whether I am in heaven or hell I will come for you Kathleen and take you with me. This I swear.”

The ladies in the room listened in shock--for one should never mock the crucifix.

Kathleen noticing their sanctimonious reaction joined her husband in his mischief. She also placed her hands on the cross and announced to all:

“I will go freely with you my dearest whether it be to heaven or hell.”

Word spread quickly throughout the lane about this disrespectful wedding pact. Many felt terrible things would befall the newlyweds.

As for Matt and Kathleen who were very much in love they just ignored this local gossip.

The following spring Matt went to sea once more as Kathleen fondly watched his ship as it left the Narrows of St. Johns.

Narrows, St. Johns
Kathleen adjusted to being alone but worry set in when all the ships that had left in the spring returned--all except the ship Matt was on.

She spent many days down at the docks waiting for her husband’s return. Word came that his ship had delivered its goods to Portugal but had not been seen since.

Autumn passed and there was still no word of Matt’s ship. One dark foggy night in early winter several of Kathleen’s neighbors spotted Matt walking down the lane.

As he drew closer they noticed something odd about him. His eyes were lifeless and he stared forward unwaveringly. Several people tried to greet him but he passed without acknowledging them.

These neighbors gathered at Kathleen’s door as they watched Matt enter the home. They then heard a deathly cry--it sounded like Kathleen. Moments later Matt exited the house carrying Kathleen in his arms.

The neighbors saw she had the same “lifeless look” as Matt but she laughed as he carried her out of sight.

Several of the group entered the home and went upstairs to Kathleen’s bedroom. Stunned they found her lying in her bed--dead. She smelled of the sea and her hair was wet.

It almost looked as if she had joined Matt at the bottom of the sea.

Afterwards, many in the lane prayed for the couple. Their hope was that these two were in heaven.

The storyteller in the following video shares a shorter version of this story. The storyteller does a good job--but the camera angles are a distraction.

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