Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 10

Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 10
One of Iceland's many Ghost stories THE MAD GIRL AT MIKLIBAER Somewhere about the beginning of the nineteenth century the Rev. Oddur Gislason was the rector of the little parish of Mikla- baer. At the time of this story he was a wid- ower, and a young girl called Solveig looked after him, and managed his household. But soon the priest found to his great embarrassment that the girl Solveig was violently in love with him. In fact, she went so far as to declare her passion for him in no uncertain manner, whereupon he was forced to assure her that he did not intend to marry again, and that if she could not restrain herself, she must look for anot- her situation. At this, Solveig’s mind, never very strong gave way completely, and she threatened to commit suicide. That it was not an idle threat seems to be indicated by the fact that a close watch had to be kept on her lest she carri- ed it out. At night one of the women, Gu5- laug Bjornsdottir, slept in the same room, to ensure that she did not do herself some harm, and during the day all the members of the household united to keep an eye on “Mad Sol- veig”, as they called her. However, their efforts were in vain, because one evening, just as it was getting dusk, Sol- veig managed to get out of the house, and run to an old ruined building in the home- field. A farm hand named borsteinn, “a loose fellow but a good worker”, as the old ac- count has it, noticed her leave the house, but so quickly did she act that by the time he had caught up with her she had cut her throat, and was lying in a pool of blood. According to story, when bor- steinn saw her he stared at her in an awes- truck way, “The devil’s got her at last!” There was still enough life left for her to be able to whisper a few words, and with her last breath the poor distracted girl told bor- steinn to ask the priest to bury her in con- secrated ground. This message borsteinn took to the rector, but when the rector applied to 8 his superiors for permission to carry out the dead girl’s last wish, he was told that this could not be done, as she had taken her own life. So “Mad Solveig” was buried in uncon- secrated ground, and without the old hymns that she had so dearly wanted to have sung over her grave. That night “Mad Solveig” appeared for the first time. She came to the rector in a dream, look- ing, as he reported, “mighty angry” and said to him: “As you will not let me rest in con- secrated ground, I promise that you will not either”. Then she vanished. But not for long. The rector soon found that he could hardly stir a foot out of the house at night without “Mad Solveig” mak- ing her presence felt, and matters soon reach- ed such a pass that the parish saw that if the rector was to be saved from a they org- anised a system of escorts, ensuring that whenever the rector’s duties called him out at nights, there would always be somebody to accompany him. One day, however, the rector had to make a longish journey at night on hoseback, to an outlying part of the parish. He had his escort, as usual, so his household were not uneasy. Eventually, late at night, those who were sitting up for him heard a knocking at the door. It should have been the rector; in fact, it must have been the rector; but none of the people inside the house moved, execpt for the stirring of the hair at the base of their spines, as they heard that queer sound, half knock, half frantic scrabbling, “like as if a dog were trying to push the door open”, as one of the women put it afterwards. At any rate, the door must have opened somehow, for then they heard the rector running up the stairs to his bedroom. But he never reached the door. They heard a ter- rible cry, “Let go!” and then the sound of someone falling headlong down the stairs. That broke the spell, and with one accord they all rushed out, expecting to see their CHRISTMAS IN ICELAND


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