Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark!

When I was a child, I had a three-book set of scary stories based on folklore.  The books were compiled and written by a man named Alvin Schwartz.  I haven’t met anyone else who had these books but I remember being completely chilled by their contents.  Here is one story:

Cold As Clay

A farmer had a daughter for whom he cared more than anything on earth. She fell in love with a farmhand named Jim, but the farmer did not think Jim was good enough for his daughter.  To keep them apart, he sent her to live with her uncle on the other side of the country.

Soon after she left, Jim got sick, and he wasted away and died.  Everyone said he died of a broken heart.  The farmer felt so guilty about Jim’s death, he could not tell his daughter had happened.  She continued to think of Jim and the life they may have had together.

One night many weeks later there was a knock on her uncle’s door.  When the girl opened it, Jim was standing there.

“Your father asked me to get you,” he said.  “I came on his best horse.”

“Is there anything wrong?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he said.

She packed a few things, and they left.  She rode behind him, clinging to his waist.  Soon he complained of a headache.  “It aches something terrible,” he told her.

She put her hand on his forehead.  “Why, you are as cold as clay,” she said.  “I hope you are not ill,” and she wrapped her handkerchief around his head.

They traveled so swiftly that in a few hours they reached the farm.  The girl quickly dismounted and knocked on the door.  Her father was startled to see her.

“Didn’t you send for me?” she asked.

“No, I didn’t,” he said.

She turned to Jim, but he was gone and so was the horse.  They went to the stable to look for them.  The horse was there.  It was covered with sweat and trembling with fear.  But there was no sign of Jim.

Terrified, the father told her the truth about Jim’s death.  Then quickly he went to see Jim’s parents.  They decided to open his grave.  The corpse was in its coffin.  But around its head was the girl’s handkerchief.

Oooooo!  Scary!

The highlight of this collection was definitely the illustrations by Stephen Gammell, though.  See a few choice examples below:

 

Nice puppy.

 

When I downloaded this last one its eyes started moving and I screamed aloud in my room, prompting two of my roommates and my roommate’s boyfriend to think I’m crazier than they already knew I was!

UPDATE: AHHHH IT’S STILL DOING IT!  I’M NOT NEARLY TECHNOLOGICALLY SAVVY ENOUGH TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN ON MY OWN SO I’M ASSUMING IT’S THIS WEIRD OVERGROWN BABY WITH STRINGY HAIR COME TO LIFE IN THIS FUCKING CREEPY ASS IMAGE!

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