One of my strange little tales – entitled The Raggedy Man
Josiah Pitkin was employed as his Bailiff, by the Lord of the Manor. He was tasked with the rents and the eviction of tenants who were poor payers or consistently in arrears. Josiah was not a mean man, but to keep the security of his own employment he often had to do things that he wasn’t particularly fond of.
Today he was tasked with the eviction of an elderly widow, he had made many excuses in her favour to try to prolong this event, but his Master had told him she must go, so go she must. She was all packed and ready to leave, Josiah was surprised he thought she might be troublesome. Some people had branded her a witch.
Josiah believed none of that, but was very wary in his dealings with her. She made no protests but just as she was leaving she called back, ‘ Josiah Pitkin, beware the Raggedy Man!’ Josiah stood bemused, he had no inkling as to her meaning.
That night, after a satisfying dinner Josiah decided to walk up the hill to the local Inn. Just for a drink or two, nothing more. But Josiah already quite a hefty man did enjoy a drink, he had fallen in with congenial company, so he remained and had several more.
As he said his goodbyes and left the Inn, it started to pour with rain and the wind started to howl, ‘ Thank God, It’s all downhill!’ thought Josiah, who by now was beginning to feel the drink he had consumed. As he walked purposefully in to the storm, out of the corner of his eye he saw a shadow on the wall opposite, illuminated by the gaslights arc. He knew at once, it was the Raggedy Man.
He quickened his pace, stole a quick glance at the opposite wall. the shadow was still dogging his heels. He could not hear footfalls behind him but then he didn’t expect too, he was convinced that the Raggedy Man was some supernatural being that had been summoned to harm him. He tried to run, but staggered and fell, he cursed himself aloud for having drunk so much. He staggered to his feet, and ran as fast as he could down the hill, his heart was pumping, his chest was heaving, his breath was almost gone.
But the Raggedy Man still pursued him, Josiah reached his front door and slid down it wheezing and holding his chest. The wind dropped suddenly and the Raggedy man was laid to rest beside Josiah. It was just a bundle of rags packed with paper and straw to resemble a man by the children who had been begging for Bonfire Night outside the Inn, but had abandoned it when the storm began. This revelation came too late for poor Josiah, he was already dead, his heart had given up on him.
(c) Damian Grange 2017
For anyone who is unaware it is a British Tradition on the 5th of November to have a Bonfire and burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes, one of the thirteen conspirators who planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament with 36 Barrels of Gunpowder,