Photo Credtit: olle svensson, altered by Cyndy Cox Some rights reserved
There was an old Quaker woman who lived on the outskirts of town. Everyone knew her and everyone who knew her also loved her. She had touched the hearts of all the villagers. For over forty years, she had helped bring babies into this world, worked tirelessly to heal the sick and when nothing else could be done, she would sit beside the dying and try to give them comfort.
One day, a bank robber was hiding out in the woods near her house. The police were searching for him because he had killed a bank guard just the day before. He was desperate because he knew that a posse was on on his trail.
It was too risky to approach the house in the day, so he climbed a tree, where he could hide from the the posse and still keep an eye on the house. When evening came, and he was sure that Granny was alone, he approached the door. When Granny heard the knock, she did not hesitate to answer because it might be a friend or neighbor in need of her help, but when she saw the young man, she knew immediately who he was. He pushed his way in and demanded food and bandages for his injured arm. Even through she was frightened, the old lady did not hesitate. She put some food on the old stove to heat, picked up her doctoring bag and walked straight to the the young man.
After the robber man was fed and his arm was bandaged, he began to worry that someone else might stop by in need of help. Granny would be able to give them details of his injury and she would put him in danger of being caught. He began to think that it might be best to kill her. He could easily strangle her and not even waste a bullet. The more he thought about it, the better it sounded. He had already shot one man, who was most likely dead by now, so one more wouldn't make much difference. All this time, Granny sat quietly at the table. He looked at her face and she showed no fear. As he got up from the table, Granny started to speak quietly, "You have been in my house for several hours. I have bandaged your arm and you have eaten the food that I prepared for me. If you try to choke me, you will breathe in my last breath. My soul will reside in you. You cannot escape that." The man stopped, stunned by both her words and her unseemly calm demeanor. He looked straight at her for more than a minute, then he turned and bolted out the door-not even closing it behind him.
What the young man did not realize was that he had left part of his spirit in Granny as well. A couple of days later, Granny became very ill. She was confined to bed and could not seem to catch her breath. My Momma and I had stopped by to take her some apples and when she did not answer the door, we went in to leave the apples on the table, thinking that Granny must be out caring for one of our neighbors. This is how we found her, lying on the bed, unable to get up or catch her breath. Momma went straight to the kitchen to make some hot tea with honey and a poultice for her chest. When Momma came back, she did what she could and then she told me to stay with Granny while she went for the doctor.
When Momma left, I was scared and did not know what to do. Please don't let Granny die, please don't let Granny die while I am alone with her. As if she could read my thoughts, the old lady turned to me and said, "This will pass shortly." I sat quietly beside her until Momma came back with the doctor and his wife, then Momma and I went on home.
When Momma sent me back to check on Granny, I found that she was much improved. This is when she told me the story about the robber. Granny said that the robber was dead and that she knew he was because he was the reason that she became sick. Because his spirit was in her, she could feel him struggling to breathe and when his struggle subsided, Granny knew that the young man was dead. The next week, there was a story in the paper that the said the robber had drown trying to swim across the river in the next county.
She never told another soul and neither did I. —