The coffin lid


4 min

Ghost story from Russia.

A farmer was returning to his village with a load of clay vessels on his cart. It was a warm summer night and he still had a long way to go. When he passed a cemetery, he decided to spend the night there, because he was afraid of neither devil nor ghosts. He laid down on one of the graves, but before he could fall asleep he felt the earth begin to move beneath him. He ran and hid behind a tree to see what would happen. The grave opened and the dead man who was in it rose up with the coffin lid on his head. The dead man went to the church gate, put the lid there, and then went off to the village to haunt.

The farmer went and got the lid, put it on his wagon and sat down to see what would happen next. When the deceased returned after a few hours, he could not find the coffin lid and was visibly upset. Then he caught sight of the farmer and rushed over to him. "Is it you, you bastard, who took my lid?" wondered the dead man. "Give it back or I'll tear you to pieces!" But the farmer pulled out a large wooden ax and said: "Gapa just enough, dying! Maybe I'll chop both you and the lid to pieces if you don't talk about what you were up to in the village last night!” Then the dead man became a lever and told that he had killed two boys while they were sleeping in their beds. "Then you get to talk about how to bring them back to life," said the farmer, swinging the axe. The dead man gritted his teeth with reluctance, but finally said: "You shall cut off a piece of the left flap of my sweep, burn it in one of your pots in the same room as where the boys lie, and they will immediately begin to come to life again."

The farmer then cut a piece of the shroud and gave the lid back to the dead man, who hurried back into the grave, for dawn was approaching.

When the farmer came to the village, it was soon clear which house the dead boys lived in, because there was a crying and wailing like no other. But the farmer stepped up to the parents and explained that he could probably do something about it. So he was shown into the rooms where the dead boys lay. He set fire to the corpse-sweeping piece and placed it in one of his pots.

Soon a foul-smelling smoke seeped out of the pot and swirled around the room and behold – suddenly the boys woke up again! The farmer had probably expected thanks from the family and a good reward, but instead they arrested him and called the village bailiff. "You must be a wizard," they told the farmer. "It was probably you who also killed the boys last night with your sneaky tricks!" Then the farmer explained how it was and who was to blame for the boys' deaths. Accompanied by the village bailiff, the family and most of the village, the farmer returned to the cemetery and showed the grave he had laid in the night before. The grave was dug up and the dead man was found as stiff as a stick in the coffin. But the corpse's feet were dirty with earth from his long nightly walk. An aspen sturgeon was retrieved and driven through the corpse's chest until the sturgeon went right through the bottom of the coffin. Now the dead man was nailed in his own coffin and could never leave his grave again. After that the farmer received a reward for his courage and honesty, and was respected and honored for the rest of his days.

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