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The Source:

Jean Karlowicz
"L'Obole du Mort"
in: "Melusine - Receuil de Mythologie, Litterature Populaire, Traditions & Usages", no.10, 1901

The Case:

Now this is what Mr. Karlowicz has to say:

"Au village de Biala, près de Janow, quelquechose gâtait chaque nuit la porte de fer du cimetière. Un vieux gardien de l'église qui s'y connaissait arrangea la chose de la manière suivante: il prit une aiguille dont on avait cousu quelque chose pour le mort; il y enfila le bout du fil d'un peloton et ficha l'aiguille dans le mort, sans laisser le peloton; après avoir abîmé la porte, le revenant revint à sa tombe et le vieux savait par son fil quelle était cette tombe. Le lendemain il revint avec le prêtre; on trouva la tombe intacte ; il n'y avait qu'un tout petit trou, semblable à celui des souris. On déterra le cadavre, on lui mit une monnaie de trois grosze (liards) dans la bouche et on retourna, le corps à l'envers; depuis ce moment la paix régna au cimetière."

This more or less translates into the following:

"In the village of Biala, near Janow, every night something damaged the iron door of the cemetery. An old man who looked after the church and who knew about this, made the following arrangement. He took a needle on which they had sewn something for the dead man; he attached a spool of thread and stuck the needle into the dead man, holding on to the spool. After he had damaged the door, the revenant went back to his grave and the old man knew by his thread which tomb it was. Next morning he came back with the priest. They found the grave intact. There only was a small hole similar to the ones made by mice. They dug up the corpse and put a 3 Grosze coin in its mouth, and they put back the corpse upside down. From that moment on peace reigned in the cemetery."

The Date:

No date is given so all we can say is that the event is supposed to have happened before 1901.

The Place:

According to our source, the village of Biala must be close to a place called Janow. Now there are several villages called Biala located all over Poland, and the same goes for places called Janow. Sadly I haven't been able to find a satisfactory pair of them so far. But that may be just a matter of time.

Possible Follow-Up:

Find yourself the relevant copy of the magazine called "Melusine" and take it from there.

© 2012 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed February 2012

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