I’ve decided to start my Halloween horseapalooza posts a little early.
This story is one of my Google Groups finds; originally posted on alt.folklore.ghost-stories, October 2001.
by Ed Price
Three-year-old Billy Vernon loved the house where he lived with his parents. It was large and roomy and there was plenty of room for a young boy to play. He had thoroughly explored every corner, every room, and even the attic. There was nowhere on earth that Billy would rather be than the house on Paca Street in Baltimore, Maryland.
Christmas in 1911. One of Billy’s presents was a little wooden horse. The toy was on wheels. A string was attached so Billy could pull the horse all through the house. Wherever he went, his “Horsey” was sure to go. Unfortunately little Billy fell victim to scarlet fever that spring. A week later he closed his eyes for the final time, his beloved Horsey cradled in his arms.
His grief stricken parents mourned the death of their only child for months. All around them were reminders of Billy — his clothes, his bed, his toys and, most of all, Horsey. Finally the preacher came to visit. He had been terribly worried about the couple’s well-being. They had hardly attended church since the funeral. He suggested that there were too many sad mementos of their son around the house. “I would suggest you dispose of most of them,” the preacher said. “The toys, for instance. There is many a poor child who would love to have Billy’s old toys. And I think that Billy would have wanted it that way.”
The parents thought about this for awhile. At first they were reluctant. After all, these things were the only tangible reminders of their lost son. But the logic of the preacher’s argument finally convinced the couple. Most of Billy’s belongings could be disposed of. Only a few small things, like his christening gown, would be kept and put away. Slowly and sadly the parents gathered up the rest of Billy’s possessions, including Horsey. The Vernons turned over Billy possessions to the preacher who gave them away to needy families.
One week later, Mrs. Vernon was busily cleaning the house. She had finished the dining room and had just walked into the parlor when she suddenly jumped in surprise. In the middle of the floor was Horsey, staring back at her. Impossible. She was sure she had given the toy to the preacher. Just to be certain, she called the parsonage on the new telephone the Vernons had just installed.
Yes, she was correct. She HAD given the Horsey to the preacher. In fact, he told her that the child had “lost” the toy and was very upset about it. Could he come by the house immediately and get Horsey to return to its new owner? An hour later, the preacher was at the front door and Horsey was turned over to him.
That night the Vernons were just getting into bed. The lights were already out. A light rain was falling outside. A feeble light from gaslights on the street posts filtered through the window. The couple had just snuggled down under the covers when Mrs. Vernon suddenly got the feeling that something was watching her. She told her husband. He said it was nonsense and advised her to go to sleep. Still, she couldn’t shake off the eerie feeling that someone else was in the room.
Mrs. Vernon raised up and looked toward the foot of the bed. Resting on the thick foot board, was Horsey. Mrs. Vernon screamed. Mr. Vernon jumped out of bed and switched on the lights. “I thought you said that you gave that wooden horse to the preacher,” he said.
“I did,” Mrs. Vernon protested, backing up against the headboard, pulling the covers around her throat. “And now it’s back again!”
“You mean this has happened before?”
His wife nodded. Then both were horrified to see Horsie rise slowly into thin air and descend to the floor. The string was pulled taut by unseen hands and the toy horse slowly rolled out of the room. Mr. Vernon sunk to the bed in disbelief while his wife burst into tears.
Both understood that their house was now haunted. It was the house that Billy loved, and the only place where Horsey rally belonged — in the company of the ghost of their little boy.
NOTE: Antique toys are a big collector’s item these days, but it is seldom one comes with its own ghost attached. A ghost that haunts a small object is called a manabee. And one of the main prerequisites for a manabee haunting is that there must have been a strong emotional attachment connected to the object by its owner. A small child and a favorite toy would have that kind of attachment.