(These stories are genuine tales of the supernatural as related by islanders who had personal contact with them. For obvious reasons the names of the narrators are not given. There is no disposition to vouch for the supernatural elements of the tales: the facts are as given and the explanation may be left to the reader.)

2. The Headless Apparition

(Told by a Vineyarder)

“I once heard my mother tell of a man who was driving a yoke of oxen home through the woods behind Ram’s Hill. He had been at work all day and was in a great hurry to reach home.

“The hungry oxen were probably quite as anxious to be disposed of for the night, and they were eagerly making headway toward feed and rest.

“But suddenly the beasts stopped. They brought up with a start. One of them roared and then the other. They bellowed and kicked, making a dreadful furor in the dark woods.

“The teamster was beside himself. He tried to calm the oxen, and as he looked ahead he saw a man cross the road. The woods were high and thick, and the shadows of dusk had fallen, but the teamster saw unmistakably that the figure before him was headless.

“Frightened as he was, he spoke. As the headless spectre vanished into the woods, he called after him repeatedly but the ghost vanished or was lost in the gloom.

“The teamster doubted his sense, but his oxen stood trembling and shivering and they were as hot and as covered with sweat as if they had driven miles at a mad pace.

“ ‘And that,’ my mother said, ‘I guess was a ghost.’ ”

“The curious fact of this tale is that no association of that wood road would give any basis for the occurrence. There was no tradition of foul play, nothing whatever to stimulate the imagination along ghostly lines.

“It is also interesting that the first to notice the supernatural being were the oxen. This is one of the outstanding ghost records of the Vineyard, for it offers little possibility of explanation and will probably remain a mystery.

“I have often walked the old road and often after dark, but never with any experience of the super-natural.”