Friday, May 14, 2004

Aunt Caroline Dye, the "gypsy" in the St. Louis Blues

from an article in Southern Quarterly, 1969, by John Quincy Wolf:

According to another story, Aunt Caroline showed powers of prophecy when she was a child. Born into a family of slaves, she had the knack of making predictions that somehow came true and of making lucky guesses that attracted attention on the plantation. But no one thought much about her until Thanksgiving Day, 1865. The master of the plantation had a brother, Charley, who had been reported killed in the War in '61. On Thanksgiving morning, 1865, when the table was set for the big dinner at which the family would celebrate its reunion, Caroline, then about ten years old, told the women of the house hold that they hadn't set enough plates. They counted and the mistress assured Caroline that the number was correct. But the child remonstrated: "You ain' got a place for Mistah Charley." She was reminded that Uncle Charley had been killed four years ago. Yet she still maintained that "he's coming to dinner today."

The family had just started eating when they heard footsteps in the hall, and a very tired Uncle Charley walked into the room. He said that he had been severely wounded in '61, taken prisoner, and kept in a prison hospital until after Appomattox. He had written letters but they had evidently been destroyed at the prison or lost in transit. The family thought he might have been in the neighborhood for several days before Thanksgiving and that Caroline had learned of his arrival. But he assured them that he came straight from the prison and had spent the preceding night twenty-five miles away.

The John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection, Lyon College


Blogger HP said...

Ah, Mistah Charley. You were the first visitor to my new home. I thought I'd comment on this post, since the "return from the dead" aspect fits in well with the subject of M Valdemar. It has sort of an Ambrose Bierce/Saki vibe, except for being true, and not having any actual ghosts or revenants. Great story, and a nice hook on your blog name.

February 20, 2005 at 7:10 PM  

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