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This Party Tip submitted by BizGirl - Aug 25th, 2008

    • Short Campfire Ghost Stories 2

    • A Ghostly Game of Puckeen An Irish Ghost Story By Kathleen M. Muldoon

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      Once upon a bleak Irish morning, a spindly lad named Jack bade his mother good-bye and set out to seek his destiny. The salty sea mists drenched Jack’s flimsy coat as he strode along. By nightfall, he could go no farther. He stopped at a farmhouse that nestled in the shadow of a dark castle. An old man ushered Jack inside and led him to a bench in front of an ample fire.
      “What is it you’re wanting, lad?” asked the farmer.
      “Please, sir,” said Jack, stifling a yawn. “I will gladly work your fields in the morning for supper and a warm bed tonight.”
      The farmer rubbed his hands together and paced before the mantel.
      “Did you see that castle yonder?”
      Jack nodded, one eye open, the other halfway to dreamland.
      “I will put you in that castle in front of a fire three times the size of mine. There will be a table with every manner of meat and fish, and a bed as soft as moon cheese. I will lock you in, alone. In the morning, if you are still alive, I will give you a farmhouse and my daughter’s hand in marriage, should you fancy her.”
      Jack bolted upright, sleepiness fleeing like a fox from the hunt. “I’ll do it, if you send no one to kill me!”
      “Not I,” the farmer muttered. “‘Twas my father’s castle. Since his death, no man has spent the night and lived to face the morning. Four have tried.”
      “Sir, I have nothing of this world except courage,” Jack replied.
      True to the farmer’s word, Jack soon found himself locked in a large room of the dismal castle. It was lit only by a roaring fire and two candles adorning a heavily laden table.
      After feasting on roasted lamb, bread, and cheese, Jack stretched out on the floor before the hearth, intent on sleeping away the night and claiming his fortune in the morning. Before long, however, such a ruckus arose on the ceiling above his head that Jack jumped up, and an icy shiver pulsed down his back.
      “I’m falling, falling,” Jack heard a voice call. As he looked up, two legs, then a man’s body, shoulder, arms, and head oozed through a hole in the ceiling. These parts reassembled themselves into a white-headed figure in a triangular-shaped hat and waistcoat such as Jack’s grandfather wore. Before Jack could shout or gasp, another spirit of a man appeared and then a third, each apparition more ancient than the one before.
      Then, just as Jack thought he could bear no more, the first spirit took a puckeen from his waistcoat and began a furious game with the others, the second and third spirits against the first.
      “I say,” Jack squeaked, amazed he had a voice at all. “I say, that’s hardly fair, two against one.”
      Without waiting for a reply, Jack joined the first ghost. They played all night, never exchanging a word, never pausing for a rest. As the first sliver of sunrise seeped through the castle windows, Jack slumped onto a chair.
      “Rest,” he croaked. “Rest.”
      The three spirits stopped their frantic kicking and running and surrounded Jack. The first placed his hand on Jack’s shoulder.
      “We haven’t rested for many years,” he said. “Perhaps we can now that we’ve found someone with courage. The others all died of fright before they could help us.
      “I was the farmer’s father,” he continued. He pointed to the other two spirits. “That was my father, and the eldest my grandfather. None of us has peace because in life we cheated many people. We cannot rest until out wrongs are righted.”
      Jack shrugged. “What can I do?”
      “A white mare waits at the post,” said the spirit. “Her saddlebags are filled with gold and a list of families deserving of our restitution. Ride the countryside until the gold is distributed. When you return, look toward the highest turret of the castle to see the results of your deed.”
      As the spirit stopped talking, the castle door opened, and in walked the farmer and his beautiful daughter.
      “You . . . you’re alive!” the farmer gasped.
      Jack whirled around in his chair. The spirits were gone. Before he even touched the hand of the farmer’s daughter, Jack jumped up, ran outside, and leaped onto the mare.
      “I’ll be back!” he shouted.
      Jack rode uphill and down, over creeks and rivers, over fences and walls. He delivered the spirits’ gifts to the shabbiest cottages in the villages. When at last the saddlebags were empty, Jack took the shortest route back to the castle. He tied the mare to the post, then looked up at the tallest turret just in time to see three snow-white doves soar into the heavens.
      The castle door opened, and the farmer’s enchanting daughter took Jack’s hand and pulled him inside.
      “Welcome home,” she said.
      The farmer insisted Jack and his new bride live in the castle beside his farmhouse. There they dwelt happily for the rest of their lives. The spirits had left the puckeen behind, and Jack put the ball on the mantel to remind him of the value of courage and honesty. And sometimes, on a winter’s night, he told his children the story of how he and three spirits once played a ghostly game of puckeen.

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    • Tags: halloween ghost stories scary short campfire
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