The Spectre In Fjelkinge

: The Swedish Fairy Book

During the first half of the eighteenth century, several large estates

in Schonen were the property of the family of Barnekow, or rather, of

its most distinguished representative at that time, Margaret Barnekow,

daughter of the famous captain and governor-general Count Rutger of

Aschenberg, and the wife of Colonel Kjell Kristofer Barnekow. A widow

at twenty-nine, she herself took over the management of her large

ies, and gave therein evidence of invincible courage, an

inexhaustible capacity for work, and a tireless solicitude for all her

many dependents and servitors.

While traveling about her estates, Madame Margaret one evening came to

the tavern in Fjelkinge, and was quartered for the night in a room

that had the name of being haunted. Some years before a traveler had

lain in the same room and presumably had been murdered: at any rate

the man himself and all his belongings had disappeared without leaving

a trace, and the mystery had never been explained. Since that time the

room had been haunted, and those who knew about it preferred to

travel a post-station further in the dark, rather than pass the night

in the room in question. But Margaret Barnekow did not do so. She had

already shown greater courage in greater contingencies, and chose this

particular room to sleep in without any fear.

She let the lamp burn and fell asleep, after she had said her evening

prayer. On the stroke of twelve she awoke, just as some planks were

raised in the floor; and up rose a bleeding phantom whose head, split

wide open, hung down on his shoulder.

"Noble lady," whispered the specter, "prepare a grave in consecrated

earth for a murdered man, and deliver his murderer to the judgment

which is his due!"

God-fearing and unafraid, Madame Margaret beckoned the phantom nearer,

and he told her he had already addressed the same prayer to various

other people; but that none had had the courage to grant it. Then

Madame Margaret drew a gold ring from her finger, laid it on the

gaping wound, and tied up the head of the murdered man with her

kerchief. With a glance of unspeakable gratitude he told her the

murderer's name, and disappeared beneath the floor without a sound.

The following morning Madame Margaret sent for the sheriff of the

district to come to the tavern with some of his people, informed him

of what had happened to her during the night, and ordered those

present to tear up the floor. And there they found, buried in the

earth, the remains of a body and, in a wound in its head, the

Countess's ring, and tied about its head, her kerchief. One of the

bystanders grew pale at the sight, and fell senseless to the ground.

When he came to his senses, he confessed that he had murdered the

traveler and robbed him of his belongings. He was condemned to death

for his crime, and the body of the murdered man was buried in the

village church-yard.

The ring, of peculiar shape, and its setting bearing a large gray

stone, is still preserved in the Barnekow family, and magic virtues in

cases of sickness, fire and other misfortunes are ascribed to it. And

when one of the Barnekows dies, it is said that a red spot, like a

drop of blood, appears on the stone.


"The Spectre in Fjelkinge" (Hofberg, p. 21) is founded on the

ancient belief that innocent blood which has been shed calls

for atonement, and the one who has been unjustly murdered

cannot rest until the deed has been brought to light.