Chilling ghost story from Alabama of two young girls who discover the tragic secrets behind a Civil War-era haunted house.
I would like to share a story with you that my two best friends related to me. Kathy, who had just had her fourteenth birthday, and Nan, her sister, went with their parents to their grandparents’ farm right outside Montgomery, Alabama. It had been a long, hot, boring ride from Atlanta, and having arrived at their grandparents’ farm, they were restless to do something besides watch Mom and Dad busy working to settle the estate.
As they wandered off into the cooler woods gathering wildflowers, they came to a clearing. There, in the middle of the clearing, was a small cottage, run down so badly even the shutters hung at an angle – never again to cover the windows that had lost most of their window panes – and a porch with tall grass, growing where there were no boards.
With a sudden burst of recklessness, the girls raced to the cottage. As they reached the half open front door, Kathy called out, “Is there anybody home?” And then they laughed, for of course, there was no one there.
As they came into the front room that at one time may have been pretty, they found it was full of dust and cobwebs, and stuffing falling out of the sofa cushions. Hurrying along to the next room, they found a kitchen with a table set for a meal, looking as if someone had hurriedly left the room, the chair being pushed half way aside at the table.
A growing sense of being watched overwhelmed the girls. They bolted from the room and down the hall.
As they reached the stairs, curiosity overcame their fear, and they climbed the stairs to the second floor. Kathy opened the door to the left of the hallway. “Whew!” she said as she viewed the pretty brass bed with a dirty old quilt that had become home for many different wild animals.
Closing the door, Kathy crossed the hall and gasped as she opened the door. Nan looked over her shoulder and saw a room as neat as a pin, no dust anywhere – a shining floor with an old worn rug, tattered curtains hanging listlessly at the open windows. And there in the middle of the room was a rocking horse, rocking back and forth very fast as if a child had just jumped off.
They watched with fascination as the horse slowed and stopped. As they looked around the room, they saw a child’s bed with a rocking chair beside it, and against the wall on the other side of the room was an old trunk. Quickly the girls moved to the trunk, knelt beside it and opened the lid. Kathy reached in and found a letter that gave her a hint of the occupants of the little cottage. The letter was from a soldier husband fighting in Virginia. He wrote, “I miss you and our little son so very much. It frightens me to think I might not be able to come back home to be with you.”
Putting the letter back, Kathy picked up another and started reading it out loud. Suddenly she grew silent, and Nan saw tears running down her checks. Taking the letter, Nan saw it was from the mother, and it read, “My dearest love, our precious son had pneumonia, and because the doctor was away with the troops, there was no one to save him.”
Nan put the letter back in the trunk, and as she did, her hand touched a piece of parchment. Drawing it out of the trunk, careful not to let the pieces fall away, she read a telegram that had been sent to the soldier in Virginia: “We regret to inform you your wife has taken her life.”
As the girls sat looking at each other through tears, there suddenly seemed to be a presence in the room, and the soft sound of a lullaby could be heard above the hum of the bees. Quickly and carefully, they put the paper back in the trunk, closed the lid, and hurriedly crossed the room. As Nan passed the closet, she felt something brush against her arm. Whirling around, she saw to her horror the rocking chair begin to slowly rock back and forth, and the sound of a lullaby became louder.
The girls frantically dashed down the stairs, out into the yard, and into the safety of the woods. Turning back to look at the little old cottege once again, they saw in the upstairs window a little blond boy watching them. Panicked, they ran through the woods, falling over broken limbs and being scratched by the briars.
When they arrived at the farm, they rushed to tell their father what they had seen. Father listened and then said, “Girls, the story is told that in anguish and grief, the soldier, upon returning home, burned the cottage to the ground. The woods have long ago grown over the clearing where the little cottage once stood. There is no house.”
– THE END –
Little Cottage in the Woods – Story Credits
Written and Told by Anne Gilstrap
Taken from the CD “A Tour of Southern Ghosts”
Copyright 2000 Art Station
Used by permission
Sound Design by Henry Howard