Scary Ghost Stories The Wood Of The Dead

Ghost stories can cause the ends of your nerves to tingle. A scary story like “The Wood of the Dead” will not only tingle your nerve endings but will make you think twice while enjoying that walk through the woods. So gather some courage and enjoy this tale of the dead.

The Wood of the Dead

One summer, I was at luncheon in the room of a wayside inn in the western country, when the door opened and entered an old man, who sat down very quietly in the seat by the bay window. We exchanged nods; I did not actually raise my eyes to his face, so concerned with the important business of satisfying an appetite gained by hiking twelve miles over a difficult country.

The inn-keeper’s daughter entered with a foaming pewter mug, inquired about my welfare, and went out again. Apparently she had not noticed the old man sitting by the bay window, nor had he, for his part, so much as once turned his head in our direction.

The old man suddenly turned his face towards me for the first time and began to speak. “You are a stranger in these parts?” or “Is not this part of the country strange to you?”

I answered that I was wandering on foot through a part of the country, and that I was surprised not to find a place of such loveliness marked upon my map.

I had been oddly drawn into his vein of speech, some inner force compelling me.

“To tell you the truth,” I concluded lamely, “the place fascinates me and I am in two minds about going further”

“Stay, then, a little while longer,” he said in a much lower and deeper voice than before; “stay and I will teach you something of the purpose of my coming.”

“You have a special purpose thenin coming back?” I asked, hardly knowing what I was saying.

“To call away someone,” he went on, “someone who is not quite ready to come, but who is needed elsewhere for a worthier purpose.” There was sadness in his manner that mystified me.

“You mean?” I began trembling.

“I have come for someone who must soon move, even as I have moved.”

The old man dropped his eyes from my face. “Come to-night,” I heard the old man say, “come to me tonight into the Wood of the Dead. Come at midnight”

Suddenly the door opened and the inn-keeper’s daughter came in. For a moment she stood between me and the old man while I counted out the change for my meal; but when she moved aside, I saw that there was no longer anyone in the room but our two selves.

I turned to the girl and asked her if she knew the old man, and what he had meant by the Wood of the Dead.

The maiden, answered simply that she had seen no one. I described him in great detail, and then, as the description grew clearer, she turned a little pale under her pretty sunburn and said very gravely that it must have been the ghost.

“Ghost! What ghost?”

“Oh, the village ghost,” she said quietly, and adding in a lower voice, “He comes before a death, they say!”

The inn, she said, was originally a farmhouse, occupied by a farmer, evidently of a superior, if rather eccentric, character, who had been very poor until he reached old age, when a son died in the Colonies and left him an unexpected amount of money, almost a fortune.

The old man didn’t change his simple manner of living, but devoted his income to the improvement of the village and to the assistance of the villagers; he did this regardless of his personal likes and dislikes, as if one and all were absolutely alike to him. People had always been a little afraid of the man, but this love for humanity changed all that in a very short space of time; and before he died he came to be known as the Father of the Village and was held in great love by all.

A grove of pine trees behind the farm, the girl pointed out to me was the Wood of the Dead, because just before anyone died in the village the farmer saw them walk into that wood, singing. None who went in ever came out again.

On the evening of his ninetieth birthday the old man went up to his wife and kissed her. “Dearest wife,” he said, “I am saying good-bye to you, for I am now going into the Wood of the Dead, and I shall not return. Do not follow me, or send to search, but be ready soon to come upon the same journey yourself.”

The good woman burst into tears and tried to hold him, but he slipped from her hands, and she was afraid to follow him. That same night, she woke to find him lying peacefully by her side in bed, with one arm stretched out towards her, dead.

That night, as the clock in the church tower was striking half-past eleven, I left the inn and crept through the dark orchard and over the hayfield in the direction of the hill whose southern slope was clothed with the Wood of the Dead. Then, suddenly, I saw the first trees of the Wood of the Dead rise in front of me in a high black wall. For a moment I hesitated on the edge of this dark wood, and listened intently.

“It is the dawn coming,” said the voice at my side that I certainly recognized, but which seemed almost like a whispering from the trees, “and we are now in the heart of the Wood of the Dead.”

“Now, come with me,” whispered my companion in the same deep voice.

So complete and vivid was the sense of reality.

In that brief second of time I had recognized the face and voice of the inn-keeper’s daughter off in the distance, but the next minute a dreadful wail broke from the lips of the young man with her, and the sky grew suddenly as dark as night, the wind rose and began to toss the branches about us, and the whole scene was swallowed up in a wave of utter blackness.

Again the chill fingers seemed to seize my hand, and I was guided by the way I had come to the edge of the wood, and crossing the hayfield still slumbering in the starlight, I crept back to the inn and went to bed.

A year later I happened to be in the same part of the country, and the memory of the strange summer vision returned to me. I went to the old village and had tea under the same orchard trees at the same inn.

But the little maid of the inn was not there, and I took occasion to ask her father about her welfare whereabouts.

“Married, no doubt,” I laughed, but with a strange feeling that clutched at my heart.

“No, sir,” replied the inn-keeper sadly, “not married, though she was just going to be, but dead. She got sunstroke in the hayfields, just a few days after you were here, and she was gone from us in less than a week.”