Saturday, 17 October 2009

still here - Saturday catchup and another ghost story

I still have my cold. I apologize, because I was all set to do the post on Giles Blunt earlier this week, but I discovered that I had enough energy to get to work, walk my two miles, come home and that would be it. Make dinner for everyone, and then flake out on the sofa. Last night I did get online again finally, and I was reading up on my new and great obsession, Fringe. (did you see Thursday's episode? with that dream Peter had at the end? )

I can say that I have managed to do some reading this week! I'm almost done Karin Fossum's Don't Look Back, another Scandinavian mystery, a Norwegian writer. It's my first book by her. I am very much enjoying it. She has a scene in the book where the grief-stricken father makes his way to a crematorium, something he has never thought about before. We learn about the cremation process while Eddie tries to decide how to bury the victim. It's tasteful and thoughtful, a normal continuation of grieving, but usually we only see the funeral process, not deciding which to go with, in a mystery novel. I like this author's style, and so far not much has been given away; I still have no clue as to who did it, nor why. I like the main detective, Inspector Sejer, also. He lives alone since his wife died, with a huge dog. A very kind, gentle Inspector who is also intelligent. I'll have more when I'm done the book.

I also bought a little Hallowe'en display so I'm hoping to get pictures up this weekend. I'm starting to feel better! and so very happy it's the weekend, so I can get better (really I mean watch some more Fringe.....)

Bluenose Ghosts Excerpt
Because we are down to two weeks - TWO WEEKS - until Hallowe'en, and I haven't been able to blog much, I promise to finish Bluenose Ghosts with you over the next two weeks. For a treat, here is a longer ghost story about a boat, that ends with a song that is apparently known on the east coast in both the US and Canada:

One of the best known stories of haunted ships is that of the sailing vessel , the Charles Haskell. Its strange story made such an impression at the time that a song was made up about it and to this day it is in many ports all over the maritime provinces and the New England states. Two men from Lockeport, Nova Scotia, and one from Lunenburg, were in her crew; the rest were Gloucester men. This is her story according to an account from the Boston Globe of that time and shown to me in a scrap book at Annapolis Royal where the vessel was well known later on.

The Charles Haskell, a fine new vessel, sailed out of Boston and was one of three hundred anchored on Georges on March 7, 1866. A hurricane and a blinding storm set in. Vessels were huddled together and were torn from their anchorage. During the hurricane all hands were on deck. At one o'clock at night one of the other ships, a schooner, got adrift and out of control. She was like a runaway and was being hurled by the storm directly towards the Haskell. In order to save herself, the Haskell's ropes were cut, but she was then so storm-driven that she was completely at the mercy of the wind. Another craft lay in her path and she ran through it like a cheese, standing the shock herself without losing a rope yarn. Thus the Charles Haskell unwittingly transferred to the Andrew Jackson of Salem what would have been her fate.


In time the Charles Haskell returned to the same fishing grounds. Then a strange thing happened and all the crew testified that it was true, for when they sailed over the place where they had rammed the Andrew Jackson, the crew of that schooner came up over the sides in their oilskins and manned the Haskell. After that the Haskell became known as the Ghost Vessel, and the owners were unable to obtain a crew. She was finally purchased by Captain David Hayden of Port Wade, Nova Scotia, for whom she sailed out of Digby, transporting wood along our coast. As far as I can gather, she never went to Georges again, and therefore had only the one visitation. I have talked to men who had heard the story personally from the crew, and I too heard it confirmed from one who saw it happen, Captain Zinck of Lunenberg. The song however is perhaps the best source of information. This was my introduction to the story, and it is still the way that fishermen prefer to tell it. I first heard it in 1928 from the lips of Mr Gordon Young. He sang sitting on a log on the Devil's Island beach with his friends around him nodding sympathetic approval as the theme unfolded. The evening light was growing dim and men and women moved about quietly in the late twilight, intent upon the words they knew so well. His voice was soft and musical, and his only accompaniment came from the waves lapping gently against the shore and the small fishing boats rocking at their moorings. Here are three of the verses:


Last night as we were sailing, we were off shore a ways,
I never will forget it in all my mortal days,
It was in the grand dog watches I felt a thrilling dread
Come over me as if I heard one calling from the dead.

Right over our rail there clambered all silent one by one
A dozen dripping sailors, just wait till I am done,
Their faces were pale and sea wan, shone through the ghostly night,
Each fellow took his station as if he had a right.

They moved about before us til land was most in sight,
Or rather I should say so, the lighthouse shone its light,
And then those ghostly sailors moved to the rail again
And vanished in an instant before the sons of men.

Very cool story! I think the song is appropriately creepy for this time of year. I can also imagine the terror as the men watched as the ghosts clambered over the gunwales, dripping seaweed and water, silent and pale, and how the living men stood aside while the ghost men took their places.

I haven't been in the mood for much other than mysteries, although I'd like to read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Settlefield for my last RIP4 challenge book.

11 comments:

Eva said...

Oh Susan, I hope your cold ends soon. :( We'll be here whenyou get back-don't worry about needing a break!

Hazra said...

I hope you feel better soon. This isn't a very healthy season here either; most of us are down with sniffles or fever or the like.
Take your time with coming back, and enjoy Fringe.

DesLily said...

I hope you feel better susan!..

btw: the 13th tale IS a mystery! I hope you enjoy it! (I did!)

Molly said...

I think your cold has overstayed its welcome! I hope you feel tons better this week.

I absolutely LOVED The Thirteenth Tale. I hope you find it enjoyable.

Bybee said...

cool, creepy song...I got shivers.

Pamper yourself as much as possible and get well! Poor book-twin!

Table Talk said...

Fossum is another new writer to me and you are usually very good at knowing what I'm going to enjoy so onto the list she goes. By the way, I picked up my second Louise Penny book from the library yesterday. I shall be reading straight through those. I shall be interested to see what you think of the Setterfield. Some people loved it others hated it. I won't tell you where I stood until you've finished it.

Debi said...

Dag gone cold--you just leave our Susan alone, you hear me?!!

Feel better soon, sweetie!

Yikes...and I just can't believe Halloween is just two little weeks away.

Emily Barton said...

Hope you're feeling better. Meanwhile, what a terrific ghost story (and song)! I love ghost stories about the sea and sailing vessels. There was one I read years ago, as a child, about some boat discovered with its crew completely frozen that was just busy sailing along on its own -- still spooks me a bit to think about it.

Emily Barton said...

P.S. Forgot to say I LOVED The Thirteenth Tale. Hope you enjoy it!

StephanieD said...

Thank you for the ghost story. I am so in the mood for them!

Hope you feel better soon :)

Susan said...

Eva: thank you! I know, I'm getting used to knowing I can take a break from blogging if I need to....

Hazra: thank you too! I've been watching lots of Fringe. I so enjoy it! I hope you stay healthy. The cold is sweeping through my office.

DesLily: thank you! and thanks, it's on the table, waiting for the weekend - it's hardcover, so I have to read it at home. I'll let you know!

Molly: thank you! I'm finally feeling better (it's Thursday night as I write this), a long time to have one. And 13th Tale has people loving it - or not, I'm curious to see which group I'll be in!

Bybee: thank you! I could have used some of your lovely herbal tea (and ginger cookies). I'm glad the song gave you shivers :-D I love to scare people a little with ghost stories! though I didn't write that one.... I'd love to hear that song played live.

Table Talk: I'm so glad you're enjoying Louise Penny! Wait til I talk about Giles Blunt (next week is my plan now), in some ways I think he writes better mysteries. :-D I'm getting to 13 Tale this weekend, so I'll let you know - I know there's a love it group and hate it group, so I'm curious which one I'll be in.

Debi: thank you, Debi. I think the cold finally heard you, it's gone today, at last! (Thursday) and now Hallowe'en is a little over a week away and I have two children's birthdays coming up then.....

Emily: Wasn't that song so very interesting? I could see the men climbing over the side, and the sailors stepping aside. I like the sound of your ghost story too. I get spooked with ghosts that appear when we're sleeping, or in our houses. Yikes, that gives me the shivers just to write about!

And I'll add you to the love-it camp for 13th Tale :-D

StephanieD: thank you! I am now (Thursday) feeling better. I have a few more ghost stories planned for between now and next Saturday, so I hope you enjoy them! I love ghost stories.