Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 11: "The Girl in the Lavender Dress"

Here's a favorite Ghost story/Urban legend:

The Girl in the Lavender Dress

Two Hamilton College juniors, motoring to a dance at Tuxedo Park after sunset of a warm Indian-summer Saturday on the road that runs through the valley of the little Ramapo River, saw a girl waiting. She was wearing a party dress the color of the mist rising above the dark water of the stream and her hair was the color of ripe wheat. The boys stopped their car and asked the girl if they could take her in the direction she was going. She eagerly seated herself between them and asked if they were going to the square dance at Sterling Furnace. The thin, tanned face with high cheekbones, the yellow hair, the flashing smile, the quicksilver quality of her gestures, enchanted the boys and it was soon a matter of amused debate whether they would go along with her to Sterling Furnace or she would accompany them to the dance at the Tuxedo. The majority won and the boys were soon presenting their new friend to the young couple who were their hosts at the Park. "Call me Lavender," she said to them. "It's my nickname because I always wear that color."

After an evening in which the girl, quiet and smiling, made a most favorable impression by her dancing, drifting dreamily through the waltzes in a sparking cloud of lavender sequins, stepping more adeptly than any of the other dancers thought the complications of revived square dances, the boys took her out to their car for the ride home. She said that she was cold and one of them doffed his tweed topcoat and helped her into it. They were both shocked into clich├ęs of courtesy when, after gaily directing the driver through dusty woodland roads, she finally bade him stop before a shack so dilapidated that it would have seemed deserted had it not been for a ragged lace curtain over the small window in the door. After promising to see them again soon, she waved good night, standing beside the road until they had turned around and rolled away. They were almost in Tuxedo before the chill air made the coatless one realize that he had forgotten to reclaim his property and they decided to return for it on their way back to college the next day.
The afternoon was clear and sunny when, after considerable difficulty in finding the shack, the boys knocked on the door with the ragged lace curtain over its window. A decrepit white-haired woman answered the door and peered at them out of piercing blue eyes when they asked for Lavender.

"Old friends of hers?" she asked, and the boys, fearing to get the girl into the bad graces of her family by telling the truth about their adventures of the day before, said, yes, they were old friends.
"Then ye couldn't a-heerd she'd dead," said the woman. "Been in the graveyard down the road fer near ten years."
Horrified, the boys protested that this was not the girl they meant -- that they were trying to find someone they had seen the previous evening.
"Nobody else o' that name ever lived round here," said the woman. "Twan't her real name anyway. Her paw named here Lily when she was born. Some folks used to call her Lavender on account o' the pretty dress she wore all the time. She was buried in it."

The boys once more turned about and started for the paved highway. A hundred yards down the road, the driver jammed on the brakes.
"There's the graveyard," he said, pointing to a few weathered stones standing in bright sunlight in an open field overgrown with weeds, "and just for the hell of it I'm going over there."
They found the stone -- a little one marked "Lily" -- and on the curving mound in front of it, neatly folded, the tweed topcoat.

From the book 'GREAT AMERICAN FOLKLORE'compiled by Kemp B. Battle (1986)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

AWESOME story! I love it, and so perfect for the times. mona


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