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
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.