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MARTIN was a young fellow who was very fond of amusing himself with the girls, and often sat up talking and joking with them till very late in the evening. One Sunday, when he had slept very little the night before, he went to church, and there he fell asleep and did not awake till dark night. He rubbed his eyes, and could not imagine where he was, for the church was full of people, and they were all fine gentlemen. Martin looked about, and recognised among them his former master, who had been buried three months before. He also knew p. 189 him, and asked, “Well, Martin, when did you die?” “Three months after you were buried,” answered Martin. “Oh, indeed,” said the gentleman; “but what do you think? Shouldn’t we go home now for a short visit? Won’t you accompany me?” “I’m ready,” said Martin, and he rose and followed his master. On the way he found a frozen glove, which he put in his pocket. They came to the mansion, and the master went first to the stable, for he intended to torment the horses, and thought Martin would help him. When the gentleman entered, the horses made no sound, but when Martin came in, they neighed. The master turned round and said, “Listen, Martin! you can’t be really dead. Give me your hand to feel.” Martin thrust his hand into the frozen glove which he had found on the road, and extended it to his master, who said, “Yes, you are really dead; your hand is shockingly cold.” Then he tormented the horses till they were covered with white foam. Martin was sorry, but could do nothing but stand and look on. At last the master ceased his spiteful work, and said, “Let us go into the house. Go you into the kitchen and frighten the maids, and I will torment the lady. When it is time to depart, I will come for you.” p. 190 The lady screamed and sobbed with terror as if she was mad, and the maids screamed too, but with fun and frolic.
After a long time, the master came to the kitchen, and said, “Come, Martin, let us make haste, for the cocks will soon crow.” He would have liked to have run away, but he was too much afraid, so he went with his master. On the way his master talked a great deal to him about how his wife had searched everywhere for the treasure which he had hidden before his death, and what she had done to banish the nightly hauntings, but everything was useless. “Yes,” said Martin, “it must be a great sorcerer who can lay spectres and discover treasures in the ground. Perhaps she will never meet with one.”
“Ha! ha!” laughed the gentleman, “no great cleverness is needed. If a living person was to stamp three times on my grave with his left heel, and say each time, ‘Here shall you lie,’ I couldn’t get out again. But the money which I hid in my lifetime is under the floor of my bedroom, near the stove.”
Martin was delighted to hear this, and would have shouted for joy, but he thought it too dangerous. p. 191 They now came to the churchyard, and the gentleman asked Martin to show him his grave. But Martin said, “We shall have another opportunity, I’m afraid the cocks are just about to crow.” The gentleman slipped quickly into his grave, when Martin stamped three times with his left heel on the mound, and said three times, “Here shall you lie.”
“Oh, you liar and scoundrel!” cried the dead man from the grave; “if I had known that you were still alive, I should have crushed and mangled you. Now I can do nothing more to you.”
Then Martin returned home full of joy, and told the lady all that he had seen and heard and done. The lady did not know how to thank him enough. She took him as her husband, and they lived together happily and honourably; and if they could have got on as well with Death as with the nocturnal spectre, they might be living still.
Free-shooters, so well known in Germany, are not unknown in Esthonia. In the story of the “Hunter’s Lost Luck” (Kreutzwald), we find a hunter whose usual skill had deserted him selling himself to the Devil with three drops of blood for a magic p. 192 bullet which should kill the author of his bad luck. His good luck depended on his not shooting at the leader of a flock or herd; but one evening, having drunk too much, he fired at the leader of a troop of foxes, and fell down dead. The villagers took his body home; but when he was put into the coffin, a great black cat, which was supposed to be the Old Boy himself, carried him away.
The story of “The Coiners of Leal” relates to the ruins of an old castle, which was said to be haunted by a hell-hound.1 One night a young nobleman set out to explore it, and was warned off by a tall man in black clothes, but, on advancing, sank into the vaults, where he found a number of men coining gold and silver. They bound him by an oath of secrecy as to their proceedings, warning him that if he broke it, their master, the dog, would fetch him, and make him coin gold and silver for ever with them; and he received a sackful of treasure to remind him of his oath. Some years after, he drank too much at a feast, told his story, and immediately disappeared, and was never seen again.
1 The Manx story will occur to the reader. Compare also the story of the “Courageous Barn-keeper” in the following section of our work.