When I think back to my childhood camping days during the summer, my favorite memories always seem to take me back to those quiet nights eating s’mores and telling stories around the campfire. The scary stories were always my personal favorites, but many storytellers regale their audience with tales of culture, legends, community and folklore.
Stories are a part of almost all hunter-gatherer societies and acted as the original social media. Try out the art of storytelling with this spooky tale on your little campers this summer:
A couple returning home in their carriage from a trip to New England were looking for a place to seek shelter for the night. The husband saw a light through the trees and turned their horse into a small lane leading up the hill to a pleasant little house that stood at the crest.
An old man and his wife met the couple at the door. They were dressed in nightclothes and were obviously ready to turn in for the evening, but they welcomed the travelers and offered them a room. The woman bustled about making tea and offering fresh-baked pastries.
The travelers were then shown to their room. The husband wanted to pay the old couple for their lodgings, but the old lady shook her head and the old man refused any payment and said it was their pleasure to help them out.
The travelers awoke early the next morning and tiptoed out of the house. They left a shiny fifty-cent piece in the center of the kitchen table so the old couple couldn’t miss it. The husband hitched up the horse and they went into town to break their fast at the restaurant there.
The husband mentioned the nice old couple who had helped them the previous night to the restaurant owner and the man grew very pale.
“Where did you say the house was?” he asked. The husband described the location and house in detail.
“You must be mistaken,” said the restaurant owner. “That house was destroyed three years ago by a fire that killed the Smith family.”
“That’s impossible,” the husband said flatly. “Mr. and Mrs. Smith were alive and well last night.”
After debating for a few more minutes, the couple and the restaurant owner drove the carriage back out of town to the Smith place. They turned, once again, into the small lane, which they now noticed was overgrown with weeds, and climbed the hill to the crest. There they found a burned out shell of a house that had obviously not sheltered anyone for a long time.
“I must have gone up the wrong track,” said the husband. Then the wife gave out a blood-curtailing scream and fainted into his arms. As he caught her, he looked into the ruin and saw a burnt table with a shine fifty-cent piece lying in the center.