Friday, July 10, 2015

Rings on Her Fingers

This traditional ghost tale is about a grave robber who digs up a female corpse in order to steal her jewelry.

This modern version, which is often shared with children, is based upon an old English/Irish folktale entitled, The Thievish Sexton.

I share another ghost story in this subset entitled The Golden Arm, here.

A classic popular American version is, The First Snowfall Ghost, which I share here and another English version is The Cripplegate Ghost, which I share here.

All of these versions have the basis premise that a body is dug up in order to rob it of its jewelry. These stories never end well for the “robber” normally pays in some way at the end.

Most versions have the robber having to cut off fingers to steal the jewelry at which point the corpse wakes up—having been mistaken for dead and then buried alive.

In Rings on Her Fingers these traditional elements are included. Alvin Schwartz shares this story in his book, Scary Stories to tell in the Dark. A recording of this story is below.

Here is a shortened version of the story:

Florence Wynsham took ill and fell into a coma. The doctors could do nothing for her and to the grief of her husband she died. He had her buried in a small cemetery at the edge of town—making sure she wore her golden promise and wedding rings

In the middle of the following night a gravedigger entered this cemetery with the express purpose to steal her jewelry.  He carried a lantern and shovel with him.

The dirt around her grave was fresh and soft so it did not take him long to hit the top of her wooden coffin with his shovel. He quickly pried the lid off.

In the moonlight he spotted the sparkling golden rings. He tried to remove them but they were stuck. He decided the only way to retrieve the rings was to cut fingers off the corpse.

He took out his pocketknife and sliced the first finger with it. To his horror the finger started to bleed. He heard a rustling sound and the corpse began to stir.

Suddenly, she sat straight up in the coffin. Terrified, the grave robber dropped his lantern. Now only darkness surrounded him. He felt ten cold fingers encircle his neck.

He screamed and scrambled out of the grave. He blindly ran not caring about the direction as long as it took him away from the coffin.

As he quickened his steps he dared not look back. In the pitch darkness he did not realize he was headed for a steep cliff. He stumbled and fell over this cliff.

He hit the rocks below. The knife he still held pierced his heart as he hit the bottom and he died.

The following is the recording of Alvin Schwartz’ version.

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