Welcome friends, welcome. Come, gather round. Still plenty of room by the fire. There, that’s it. Sit, sit. Good. You’ve come for a story have you? Well then, a story you shall have. And I know just the one for a night like this; one so close to Halloween. Yes, it’s the story of a woman known only as, Catherine; her last name lost among the ages.
Catherine was young and pretty, like you little one, only her skin was fair, no freckles. She was a maiden of only eighteen years. The envy of every eligible man in two counties but her heart belonged only to William. She and William had been childhood friends. I guess things like that happen; good friends become great lovers they say. When William got work at a mill several towns away. Catherine became so forlorn that she refused to eat for day upon hearing the news. William, seeing the town’s men begin to take notice of Catherine, spent the rest of his travel money and bought the most expensive wedding band he could afford. So it was that Catherine married William in their home village the day before William was to report to the mill. Their wedding night would have to wait. That notion did not sit well with either of them so, as the sun lowered itself under a cool earthen blanket, Catherine and William loaded up their old wagon, hitched their horses and set out to the mill town so they could consummate their love in their own home.
Catherine giggled when she felt her husband’s hands cup the soft, round flesh of her rump as she pulled herself into the wagon seat. She scooted as William lofted himself up onto the seat and allowed himself to collapse playfully onto the newly sewn cushion, releasing a small cloud of tiny white feathers. He leaned in to kiss her then laid his head on her bosom. Catherine stroked his hair and watched a small downy feather float on the breeze.
“A man can get used to these sorts of creature comforts,” said William.
“Do you refer to the new carriage cushions or my breast?”
William sat up and pulled a face of mock shock. “My dear Mrs. Jones, I blush at your salty talk.”
“You blush now? Oh, my dear Mr. Jones, it appears you are in for one embarrassing evening.”
Without saying a word but with a big smile on his face, William picked up the reigns and snapped the team into motion causing Catherine to giggle once more as she was lurched backward on the bench. The happy couple sat side by side keeping each other warm as they made a quick pace to the next town. It would be a long night, almost twenty miles, but the thought of their love finally coalescing in a night of wanton lust was too much for the young couple, so they pressed on through the early evening and into the night. It was a full moon that night which allowed William to make a good pace. By his calculations they would arrive at their new home by midnight. He looked over at Catherine, her skin aglow in the pale moonlight, and kissed her cheek. She turned and kissed him proper on the mouth. William closed his eyes in ecstasy while the carriage continued up a steep hill. They both snapped out of their rapture as the carriage pitched forward. The well trained team had continued on the trail and was now cresting the hill. William reluctantly broke away from his bride and took control of the team.
“Whoa, boys, easy now. We don’t want to be racing down any steep hills in the middle of the night.”
Well, my lovelies, no sooner had he said that when out of nowhere, a great big black bear exploded out of the trees and into the path of Catherine and William. Trained or not, the team of horses bolted. Catherine screamed as the carriage, heavy with all their possessions, picked up momentum. William stood up and leaned all his weight back into the reigns, but it was no use. No amount of coaxing from him was going to stop the spooked horses. The carriage hit a large bump and lurched high into the air. William was thrown clear as the carriage twisted upside down. He hit the ground and rolled, springing to his feet. The moon light, which once radiated beauty off his young bride, now shone just enough for William to see her dragged away under the wrecked carriage. Her perfect bosom, where mere hours ago he had placed his head, raked over the sharp rocks of the well worn trail. Her head bounced in obscene angles before rolling to a stop in the ditch as the team pulled the rest of her away.
A farmer and his family found William the next morning still cradling the head of his beloved Catherine. The carriage and the horses were never found. Folks think they ran straight into the lake at the bottom of the hill and drowned. They never found Catherine’s body either. Poor William was forced to bury her head.
And that my friends is the story of Catherine and her hill. On clear nights, when the moon is full, she’s out there still—Searching. She’s unsettled you see, what with no proper burial, only her head under ground. She needs a head so she can rest and any head will do. If you travel on Catherine’s hill you may see her one night. A young woman, dressed all in white. I’d keep on going if I was you. Pay her no mind or you may end up like poor Eliza Stone. See, Eliza was traveling home one night, and came up on Catherine’s hill. What she saw… Well, that’s a story for another night my friends. Another night when the pale moon light casts its honey-colored glow upon us. A night maybe not so close to Halloween.
Author’s Note: This story is based on the real legend of Catherine’s Hill in the Black Woods of Downeast Maine. I still won’t drive that hill alone at night. Happy Halloween.