This tale was shared in West Virginia for over a century. I like the version Ruth Ann Musick * collected because it is a good example of how people used story-telling to entertain each other before today’s modern distractions took over.
A young couple moved from Italy to West Virginia to begin a new life. The wife was expecting their first child. Following an old custom from Italy they sought out a gypsy fortune-teller to ask what their child would be--a girl or a boy. They also quizzed her about the future of their child.
After they “crossed her palm with silver” this gypsy told them they would have a son. They were overjoyed at the news but the gypsy’s next statement quickly took their dampened their joy.
She told them that their son would be born with a knife in his hand and that in the future he would slay them both. Terrified by what she said they hurried away.
As the months passed the couple managed to forget the gypsy’s warning. They eagerly awaited the birth of their child. But when their son was born he clasped a strange pointed object in his fist.
They now remembered what the gypsy had told them. Heartbroken they decided it would be best if he did not live with them. They gave him into the care of the wife’s first cousin who lived in another state.
Believing the gypsy’s prophecy they decided to never see him again.
The son grew up and moved to West Virginia with his new bride. Curious, he discovered who his real parents were.
His wife wanting to surprise him sent them a letter asking they come and visit. When she didn’t hear back she sent them another--pleading with them to come.
The old couple lived just forty miles away and walked to the small mining community where their son lived.
Their daughter-in-law seeing they were exhausted encouraged them to lie down on the bed so they could rest. She then went to tell her husband who was at work.
She did not know the foreman had let the men off early from work that day. So the son reached his home just a few minutes after his wife had left.
Entering his small dark bedroom he saw two figures in the bed. Thinking his wife had taken a lover he silently backed out of the room.
He returned from the kitchen with a butcher knife in his hand.
Later his wife found him sitting on the edge of the bed holding a bloody knife. He was looking down at the faces of his parents that he never knew with bewilderment and grief.
Thus the fortune-teller’s prophecy was fulfilled.
* More information about Ruth Ann Musick and another story she collected is located here.