creepy swamp picture

GHOST STORY DU JOUR

Dismal Swamp

~Unknown~

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Jared couldn't believe it when his fiancee Bethany fell ill just a few short weeks before their marriage. She was a strong, healthy girl-the daughter of a neighbor-but she just faded away before his eyes. He tried everything he could to save her, contacting the local physician and even riding his horse many weary miles to get a specialist from the city. But nothing could be done. The pain radiated out from her middle so intensly that the local doctor decided to keep her on morphine at all times.

There came a day when Jared refused to leave Bethany's side, knowing that at any monment she could go. He slept in a chair during the night and sat on the side of her bed during the day. She was so heavily drugged that she didn't recognize him until her final moments. The morning before they were to have wed, she called his name, and her eyes cleared for the first time since she fell ill. Jared took her into his arms and they spoke quietly of the life they would have together "someday." He held her long after she gasped our her last breath.

Jared was inconsolable. Long after Bethany's body lay buried beside the Dismal Swamp, he sat alone in his room, grieving for his lost love. He scorned food an sleep, depriving himself until his mind gave way under the strain. One morning, he came out into the kitchen as happy as he had been before Bethany's tragic illness. His mother was delighted at first, until something in his conversation revealed that he had lost touch with reality and thought that his betrothed was still alive. Jared now believed that Bethany had gone away for awhile because of a tiff with her parents, but he was sure that he could mend the rift between them. "I will find her and apologize for them. Then she'll come home with me and we'll be married," he told his mother earnestly. "I will find her, Mama."

Something in his mother's expression worried him. He stepped forward and took her hand. "She is ill, Mama, and tired. I think she is afraid she is going to die."

His mother brightened a little with hope. This was the first time Jared had acknowledged that something more than an argument might have sent his Bethany from him.
"Don't worry," Jared continued. "I will hide her away from Death, so that he will never find her when he comes."

His eyes blazed with an insane fire that repelled his family. His mother tore her hands from his and turned away from the madness she could no longer deny. She covered her face with her hands, her body tense with pain.

Jared's father tried once again to convince him that his beloved lay dead beside the swamp, but Jared would not listen. He broke away from his father violently and ran off to the Dismal Swamp. Jared wandered about for days, living on roots and berries and sleeping at night in the dank marshland. Endlessly, he called out to his beloved to come to him, but ther was no answer.

One evening at dusk, Jared stumbled upon Drummond's Pond, a 5-mile expanse of water in the middle of the Dismal Swamp. On the black surface of the water, he saw the soft blinking of fireflies dancing hither and thither across the black surface.

To his dazed eyes, the soft lights framed a beloved figure that beckoned to him wistfully and called out his name. "Bethanym my love!" he exclaimed, overjoyed. "I see her life-light!"

To his maddened mind, it seemed Bethany hovered over the waters-her spirit caught between this world and the next. A gesture either way would determine whether she lived or died. He saw her life-candle flickering behind her, growing more erractic and burning down toward nothing. If he didn't reach her in time, the candle would burn out, and she would be lost to him forever.

Jared, who could not swim, rushed around, frantically constructing a raft of cypress branches so that he could reach his love before she disappeared. Lashing the branches together with vines, he lept on top of the flimsy craft and floated out to join the girl he had lost. As he drew near the center of the pond, a wind sprang up, and the raft was tossed and tumbled in the sudden waves. With a cry of alarm, Jared fell from the raft and sank down into the murky waters. He thrashed about desperately, his eyes on the fireflies dancing above the water, just out of reach.

"Bethany!" he screamed, the name choking off a water filled his mouth. "Beth. . ." the last bit was lost as his head went under for the final time.

The next day, Jared's drowned body was found by his father, who had come searching for his insane child. The family buried him next to Bethany.

Occasionally, visitors to Drummond's Pond still hear Jared's voice echoing dismally across the still waters as he searches for his beloved. And some brave souls who remain in the vicinity after dark claim that the phantoms of Jared and Bethany, reunited in death, sometimes float across the pond on a raft made of cypress branches, carrying a firefly lantern to light their way.