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31 - The Ghost in the Parcel



from The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories published, by Maple Leaf Mills Limited, in 1961

Many years ago in the early 1930's I was looking after the work in the last post office in a small outport. We had the services of a coastal steamer which used to bring mail and freight.

One day in later November, this steamer arrived and the mail was duly brought to the office. At the same time the person who brought the mail handed me a large parcel. I would estimate that it was about two feet square and my attention was called to the fact that it was addressed in care of myself. This seemed strange as I could not see any reason for it. In these small places everyone is known to everyone else.

It happened that the party to whom it was addressed had a member of the family ill. I was in the habit of taking my turn with other neighbours sitting with the patient at night, so I put the parcel aside thinking I would take it with me when I went that evening.

About 10 p.m. I took the parcel and set out. I had about a mile to walk and the parcel was kind of heavy, but in these days we were much more accustomed to walking and carrying our parcels than people are today and so I did not mind.

The road was mostly wooded on either side, with quite a few vacant homes along the way, so there was nothing cheerful about it. But I was used to being out after dark (in those days offices were open until 8 p.m. and after that messages had to be delivered in person) so it was only routine duty for me. However, I had not gone far when I began to relax that there was a shifting of weight in the parcel at times - as if someone would lift the weight off it and then drop the full weight again. I was by no means a nervous or frightened person, so I put it down to imagination. Nonetheless, I hurried along, inwardly calling myself all sorts of names for being so silly as to imagine anything different about the parcel.

After covering about three-quarters of the distance, I was again treated to a surprise, one I knew I did not imagine. The parcel did lift in my hand so much I nearly lost my hold on it and this time I was so scared I just wanted to throw it down and run. But I could not do that: I had to see it delivered, as I was responsible for it.

Mustering what courage I could, I hurried along the road which had never seemed so long before. To reach my destination I had to leave the main road and walk in a lane or by-road, but since I could see the lights in the house I was feeling better and was ready to forget my fright and say nothing to anyone concerning it.

The home was surrounded by a wooden fence and one had to enter the yard by a large gate about twenty-feet away from the door of the house.

While I was trying to open this gate with one hand and holding the parcel with the other, it suddenly jerked completely out of my hand and fell to the ground where it turned over twice (the ground was absolutely level). This time the only reason I did not run was because I did not have the strength to do so. All I could do was hold on to the gate. I was trembling from head to foot.

I guess the fact that I was only twenty-odd feet away from the door of the home helped me to get control of myself once more. Taking a deep breath, I picked the parcel up, and this time I reached the house without anything else happening.

When I entered, some neighbours were there, among them an old gentleman, a lady and her teen-age daughter. The lady of the house was resting upstairs.

With some relief, I set the parcel on the table, and as I turned away the old gentleman asked me if I was ill. "No", I replied. "Why?" "You look as white as if you had seen a ghost", he answered.

After a while the girl who was sitting by the end of the table got up and moved to another seat. her mother said to me, "I wonder what's in that parcel?" and before I could reply her daughter said, "I don't know what 's in it, but it's got me scared. I swear it's alive". "Well", said her mother, "I'll soon know". She went upstairs and came back almost at once, saying "I am going to open it because they don't know what it contains".

Her daughter begged her to go home and not open the parcel, but she proceeded to unwrap the outer paper and was trying to open up the cardboard box when she screamed that something bit her hand as she was making a hole in the box. I went to help her, feeling more brave there than when outside alone with it.

When we did get it opened we found that our "Haunted" parcel contained a real, live, full grown Plymouth Rock rooster. The poor bird must have been terrified, but that was not our first thought. You no doubt at some time heard the saying "I would twist his neck". Well, I assure you that at that moment I felt like doing just that, because I don't mind admitting that the poor old bird in the box had given me the scare of my life.



Back to: The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories Menu

This page transcribed by James Butler, 2000
REVISED: August 2002 (Terry Piercey)

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