Gather round for a ghost story about love, loss, and the specter bridegroom...
A long time ago, two sweethearts fell in love beneath an autumn moon. The young man was a prince named Frank, and the lady who held his heart was Nancy. Nobody doubted the pair's love, but their union was forbidden. For you see, Nancy was the daughter of a poor farmer, and a prince could never marry a pauper.
So, Frank and Nancy did as one would expect – they rendezvoused in secret. Each night, they snuck out of their respective homes to kiss beneath the moon. On one such occasion, with the crickets as their witnesses, they declared themselves husband and wife. This secret romance lasted for many months until Nancy's belly swelled, and the pair could no longer hide the child that was soon to come.
Once more, the prince declared his love for Nancy and their intent to marry. But, despite Frank's desire to be a father, the king and queen were horrified. Under the cover of night, they stripped their son of his crown and sent him far across the sea. Forced to work hard labor for three years, his parents hoped that Frank would forget all about Nancy by the end of his punishment.
But the threads of love are resilient and rarely broken by distance.
After his disappearance, Nancy didn't know what had happened to Frank. She wondered if he'd had a change of heart and abandoned her, but when their child was born beneath the same moon that witnessed their love, Nancy knew Frank would return.
A year went by, and then two, but by the third, she could wait no longer. On Samhain Eve, Nancy gathered a handful of hemp seeds and visited the graveyard. She tossed the seeds behind her, stepping forward as she spoke the magical words:
Hemp seed I sow thee,
Hemp seed grow thee;
And he who will my true love be,
Come after me
And shaw thee.
With the spell cast, Nancy looked behind her left shoulder and saw Frank, alive and well. But instead of happiness or humor, his face was lined with sorrow. Nancy looked over her right shoulder, and from the mist, the outline of a white coffin appeared. Distraught, Nancy willed away the images, the spell broke, and the veil fell back over her eyes. Although she was shaken from her visions, Nancy still believed that Frank would return. Unbeknownst to her, he died at sea just days later.
Despite three long years without her love, Nancy never forgot Frank's sweet voice. So, one stormy night, when a mysterious horseman arrived at her home and called out to the young mother, Nancy knew it was Frank. Just as promised, he'd come back for her!
Nancy jumped out of bed and raced into the street, but an icy shiver shot through her heart the moment she took the horseman's hand. She could no longer move, nor could she protest as Frank flew through the town. Nancy looked to the trees for help, but they were silent. She looked to the river and saw a woman washing bloodied rags – rags that were reminiscent of the clothes she wore.
Nancy knew she was dying and that Frank was a ghost. He'd returned to carry her to the Underworld. Heartbroken, Nancy looked to the moon, full and familiar. Summoning what little energy she had left, Nancy screamed for help.
The scream emerged as a whisper, but a nearby blacksmith heeded her call. Careful not to touch the woman, the blacksmith pulled her from the horse with an iron hook. Frank fought against the stranger but only managed to snatch the tattered hem of Nancy's dress. And since one cannot interfere with death's tight schedule, Frank, the ghost, the spectral horseman, continued his journey.
Nancy lived for many days after Frank disappeared for the second time, but the ice never left her heart. She died the same morning Frank's lifeless body was pulled from the sea. Per her request, Nancy was buried in a white coffin next to the former prince, lines of sorrow etched into his face. Curiously, when the prince's body was discovered in the surf, he clutched a soiled rag to his heart. Nobody said anything, but they knew the fabric's pattern matched that of Nancy's dress.
It's unfortunate, some might say tragic, that Nancy and Frank's romance was cut short. But remember, the threads of love are resilient and rarely broken by distance, nor are they weakened by death. And so, as the story goes, Nancy still holds Frank's heart. Each night, when the moon rises in the cemetery, the spectral groom returns to his ghostly bride, their Underworld romance weaving new, haunted ghost tales across the web of eternity.
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