French folklore

MYTHOLOGY MEME || Demi-Gods (¼) Melusine

In European folklore, Melusine is a female spirit or fairy of rivers and lakes. Her legend seems to have originated in what are now Normandie and Bretagne in France and spread to Poitou and the Netherlands. In many stories about her, she said to have been cursed to take the form of a mermaid or a half-snake woman during certain situations.

She generally marries a human nobleman (known variously as Raimond or Siegfried) and has children with him, but often refuses to allow him to watch her bathing or refuses to attend church. In the former situation, her husband breaks her rule once and sees that Melusine has the tail of a fish or a snake. She is furious and turns into a dragon and flies away. In the latter version of the story, she is forced to attend church, but as soon as she sets foot inside, she turns into a snake, fish, or dragon and flies away. The latter version of the tale is probably the origin of the variant of her story that casts her as a daughter of the Devil.

Many European noble families during the Middle Ages claimed descent from her. They included the House of Lusignan, the House of Plantagenet, and the House of Luxembourg.

2
FRENCH FOLKLORE

DAME BLANCHE (woman in white)

The dames blanches (women in white) are popularly seen as spirits haunting roads and interacting with car drivers. Older variations of this figure exist in some regions of France, where they are malevolent spirits typically haunting moors. Dames blanches are usually beautiful young women dressed in white roaming the moors at night. They are sometimes described as being abnormally tall or as being able to shapeshift. They lead astray travellers and lure them to ponds where they try to drown their victims.

Melusine (or Melusina) is a figure of European legends and folklore, a feminine spirit of fresh waters in sacred springs and rivers.

“The fairy Melusina, also, who married Guy de Lusignan, Count of Poitou, under condition that he should never attempt to intrude upon her privacy, was of this latter class. She bore the count many children, and erected for him a magnificent castle by her magical art. Their harmony was uninterrupted until the prying husband broke the conditions of their union, by concealing himself to behold his wife make use of her enchanted bath. Hardly had Melusina discovered the indiscreet intruder, than, transforming herself into a dragon, she departed with a loud yell of lamentation, and was never again visible to mortal eyes ; although, even in the days of Brantome, she was supposed to be the protectress of her descendants, and was heard wailing as she sailed upon the blast round the turrets of the castle of Lusignan the night before it was demolished.”

- Walter Scott

BRETON FOLKLORE

LAVANDIÈRES DE NUIT

The lavandières de nuit (litt. “night washerwomen”) are spirits of dead women washing clothes at night. They are found near riverbanks and ponds. The lavandières de nuit are usually women who broke a religious taboo (such as washing clothes on Sunday) or did bad things during their life and are condemned to wash clothes at night forever. They usually ask help from travellers, but if their victim does not twist the laundry in the right way, the lavandières drown them. The existence of such legends predate the arrival of Christianism in Brittany. Indeed, similar figures are found in Celtic legends.

THE DARK SIDE OF MYTH & FOLKLORE: FREDEGUND

Fredegund was the third wife of Chilperic I, the Merovingian king of Neustria. Gregory of Tours depicts her as ruthless and cruel and described her husband as the Nero and Herod of his time - though it has to be said that Gregory was not an impartial observer: he harbored a grudge against Chilperic for occupying Tours and seizing ecclesiastical property.

Originally a servant of Chilperic’s first wife, Audovera, Fredegund became Chilperic’s mistress and eventually convinced him to divorce Audovera and send her to a convent. Fredegund probably hoped that she would be queen now, but instead Chilperic married Galswintha, the daughter of Athanagild, the Visigothic king of Hispania. Chilperic’s motive for doing so was undoubtedly because his half- brother and hated rival, Sigebert of Austrasia, had married Brunhilda, also a daughter of Athanagild, and Chilperic felt he also needed a bride of equal prestige. Fredegund was undaunted, however, and Galswintha lasted less than a year as Chilperic’s queen before she was strangled - probably on Fredegund’s orders.

Brunhilda was furious at her sister’s murder and persuaded her husband to declare war on Chilperic and Fredegund - not that Sigebert needed much persuading: he’d warred with Chilperic before and by all accounts, Chilperic’s other half-brothers (Charibert, king of Paris and Guntram, king of Burgundy) didn’t like him much, either. The wars between Sigebert and Chilperic lasted a little over four decades, though there were truces in between. In 575, Sigebert was assassinated on Fredegund’s orders and Brunhilda was taken prisoner. That should have been the end of it all, but instead there was a plot twist straight out of a soap opera: Merovech, a son of Chilperic by Audovera, not only freed Brunhilda, but married her as well and their marriage was performed by no less a personage than Prætextatus, the bishop of Rouen. In the end, Brunhilda went back to Austrasia and fought her nobles tooth and nail to be recognized as the regent of her five-year-old son, Childebert. Merovech and Prætextatus were both sent into exile. Merovech attempted to raise another rebellion about a year later, but it failed so he ordered one of his servants to kill him.

In 580, an outbreak of dysentery broke out in Neustria and Fredegund decided that it was the perfect time to eliminate the rest of Chilperic’s children by Audovera to advance her own children in the line of succession. Audovera and her son, Clovis, were both assassinated and Basina, Chilperic’ daughter, was raped by soldiers and dispatched to a convent. Fredegund often treated her own kin no better. She and her daughter, Rigunth, were extremely unfound of each other. Rigunth loved to remind her mother of her humble origins, which drove Fredegund to rage. There is a story, of questionable veracity, that Fredegund attempted to kill Rigunth on one occasion by crushing the lid of a chest on her head. Some scholars have suggested that Fredegund and Rigunth’s relationship could have been a possible influence on Cinderella.

In 584, Chilperic was murdered after a hunting trip. His attacker is unknown, though it was widely believed at the time that he was killed on Brunhilda’s orders. His death promptly threw Neustria into chaos: Chilperic’s heir apparent, Chlothar II, was no more than an infant. Bad luck followed: Ringuth’s betrothal to Reccared I of Hispania went down in flames when Rigunth was robbed and abandoned by her own retainers en route to Hispania. Fredegund managed to secure her son’s throne by offering to make Guntram of Burgundy regent. He accepted, but reinstalled Prætextatus as the bishop of Rouen and sent Fredegund into exile under Prætextatus’ supervision. The peace lasted for about two years: Guntram left to wage war against Septimania and Fredegund escaped from Rouen. Soon after, Prætextatus was stabbed during Mass, probably on Fredegund’s orders, but didn’t die right away. Fredegund went to his bedside to win him over, but Prætextatus was not swayed and cursed her before dying of his wounds.

Fredegund tried to reach some sort of agreement with Guntram, but he had enough of her, so he left Neustria, and reinstated relations with Austrasia. Some years later, however, Chlothar succeeded in permanently removing Fredegund’s influence and she mostly disappears from the historical record. Fredegund died in 597 of unknown causes. Her hated rival, Brunhilda, outlived her, but in 613, Chlothar III accused Brunhilda of killing ten kings and sentenced her to death.So it could be said that Fredegund triumphed over Brunhilda from the grave.

Hans Trapp or Père Fouettard (Father Whipper) is the French equivalent of Krampus who accompanies St Nicholas in his round during St Nicholas’ Day (6 December) dispensing lumps of coal and floggings to the naughty children. He is known mainly in the far north and eastern regions of France. This “Whipping Father” was said to bring a whip with him to spank naughty children who misbehaved.

The most common depiction of Le Père Fouettard would be of a man with a sinister face dressed in dark robes with scraggly unkempt hair and a long beard. He is armed with either a whip, a large stick, or with bundles of switches. Some incarnations of the character have him wearing a wicker back pack in which children can be placed and carried away. Sometimes he merely carries a large bundle of sticks on his back. Often, his face is darkened to varying degrees. Some say it is because of his being born of a burned effigy, others say that it is from the soot in the chimneys that he goes down with St. Nicholas.

(source)

THE DARK SIDE OF MYTH & FOLKLORE: PIERRE BOURGOT and MICHEL VERDUNG

Pierre Bourgot and Michel Verdung were 16th century peasants from Poligny who were burned at the stake for witchcraft and being werewolves. Bourgot claimed that he first recieved this power in 1502. One stormy day he was out searching for lost sheep, when he had been approached by three men mounted on black horses. They swore that if he sold his soul to their master, he would find his lost sheep right away. Bourgot did so and claimed to have served the Devil for two years. He eventually strayed and was brought back into Satan’s service by Michel Verdung. It was Verdung who gave Bourgot the power to turn into a wolf, by way of smearing him with a special black salve. Verdung, for his part, could turn into a wolf without the use of the salve. Both Bourgot and Verdung further confessed to have killed and eaten countless people as wolves, with their favorite targets being women and children.

Whether Bourgot and Verdung’s confession were the products of simply being tortured or the rare mental illness, clinical lycanthropy is unknown.

The Wolf-Leader is a major figure of the French folklore. He is described as a wizard who can speak to wolves. He is a former werewolf. By giving his soul to the Devil, he doesn’t metamorphose into a werewolf. He charms the wolves with music or spells. He hides them during the beats and can command them to attack the flocks.

~ Le Loup Garou ~
~ ~ ~
Le Loup Garou is a French Canadian werewolf that is said to be able to shift into 5 different forms. Though, due to many different stories le Loup Garou could not be a werewolf but more of a shifter with 5 forms, or at least a wolf like creature. It originated from French Canadian folklore but it’s widely known throughout Europe. This breed is said to shift randomly, and can either be bipedal, or quadrupedal depending on what form it’s in. The names we have for the different forms are most likely incorrect but for this I’ll add the names.
~ ~ ~
1. Homid
2. Galbro
3. Crinos
4. Hispo
5. Lupus

THE DARK SIDE OF MYTH & FOLKLORE: CONOMOR

Conomor the Accursed was a 6th century king of Brittany. Conomor was a count of Carhaix who supposedly became king by murdering his predecessor, Jonas. He married Jonas’ widow, but she later fled from him to seek asylum in the Frankish court with her son, Judael. He then married Tréphine, the daughter of Waroch, count of Vannes and had a son with her, Trémeur. He treated his new wife no better than the first and eventually killed her and their son, though the historical record is unclear about the circumstances.

On the advice of Saint Samson, local bishops excommunicated Conomor and Childebert I stopped supporting Conomor as protector of the English channel. Judael gathered an army supported by Childebert’s brother Chlothar I and killed Conomor in a battle in the Monts d'Arrée near Le Relecq, Plounéour-Ménez, which is named from the relics of the victims.

In Breton folklore, Conomor was said to have murdered three of his wives (generally out of a fear that one might bear a son that would overthrow him) and that Tréphine discovered this in a secret room while he was away. Such folklore has been suggested as the origin of the French fairy tale, “Bluebeard.”

Dames Blanches

Dame Blanches are female paranormal entities found in French folklore. 

History

J. A. MacCulloch believes that the Dames Blanches were originally French pagan goddesses, and suggested their name Dame may have derived from the ancient guardian goddesses known as Matres. By looking at old inscriptions to guardian goddesses, specifically inscriptions to the Dominæ, who watched over the home, perhaps became the Dames of Medieval folklore. 

Description 

Thomas Keightley (1870) describes the Dames Blanches as a type of Fée (faerie) known in Normandy “who are of a less benevolent character.” They lurk in narrow places such as ravines, fords, and on bridges, and try to attract passersby’s attention. 

They require the passerby to join her in a dance or assist her, in order to pass. If assisted she “makes him many courtesies, and then vanishes.” One such Dame was known as La Dame d'Apringy who appeared in a ravine at the Rue Quentin at Bayeux, Normandy where one must dance with her a few rounds to pass. Those who refused were thrown into the thistles and briar, while those who danced were not harmed. 

Another Dame was known on a narrow bridge in the district of Falaise, named the Pont d'Angot. She only allowed people to pass if they went on their knees to her. Anyone who refused was tormented by the lutins (a type of goblin in French folklore), cats, owls, and other creatures that help her. 

2
POITEVIN MYTHOLOGY

RADEGUND & THE GRAND'GOULE

The fight between Saint Radegund (520-587) and the Grand'Goule (great ghoul) is the most famous legend of Poitiers, France. It is said that the dragon used underground tunnels during floods to come devour the nuns of the Abbey of the Holy Cross. One day, Saint Radegund faced the Grand'Goule with blessed bread and a small cross as weapons. She threw the bread in the dragon’s mouth and prayed. The beast convulsed in horrible pains before dying.

Once a year during Radegund’s feast day a wooden sculpture of the Grand'Goule was shown around in the streets of Poitiers and children would throw small traditional sweets in the mouth of the dragon to celebrate the legend. This tradition of Poitiers disappeared in the 19th century, but the figure of the Grand'Goule is still used by the Poitevin Stadium and a nightclub, just in front of the famous abbey, bears the dragon’s name.

Day 26: Old Gram French

In looking through a lot of the folk tales collected by Vance Randolph I keep seeing this name pop up: Gram French. She makes an appearance in several folk tales, all collected from different people, some from Arkansas and others from Missouri. She’s portrayed as a character who is almost half witch and half healer. Sometimes she’s helping people out; sometimes she’s cursing a strawberry patch. Her use of both traditional folk magic and simple cunning make her the perfect model for an Ozark healer, so it’s no wonder she figures into so many folk tales.

While I’m well aware that this post will be quite long, I’d like to take the time to set down here all of the stories I’ve found so far that feature Gram French. She’s an amazing and interesting character and a model of Ozark Mountain women.

“Betsey and the Mole Skin” from “Pissing in the Snow” by Vance Randolph. Told by Bob Wyrick, Eureka Springs, Ark., May, 1951. He heard it near Green Forest, Ark., about 1910.

One time there was a fellow going with a pretty schoolmarm named Betsey, and they was the lovingest couple you ever seen, only he done considerable grumbling. The trouble was that Betsey liked to play with his pecker, but she wouldn’t let him get it in her very often. She says that diddling is sinful, and ain’t much fun anyhow. “Listen, Betsey,” says he, “a man’s tool needs oil every so often, or else it will turn on him like a wild varmint.” But the schoolmarm just laughed, and she says that’s nothing but superstition, which all educated people have give it up long ago.

A girl like that will run a man crazy, so finally he went to see Gram French. The old woman told him what to do, so then they killed a mole and skinned it. The fellow put the mole skin on his pecker, and it fit like a glove, with the sharp teeth sticking out front. That night him and the schoolmarm went a-walking, and soon as Betsey got her hand in his britches she begun to cry. The follow just lit a match and showed her how it was, and he says, “I’m going to the doctor tomorrow and have an operation.” The schoolmarm figured he was ruined forever, and she knowed it was all her fault.

So then the fellow went to town, and stayed two or three days. When he got back his family organ was good as new, because he had took the mole skin off. Betsey was mighty happy about him being cured, and she says we better not take no chances from now on, and I will do whatever you say. So the schoolmarm give him all he wanted after that, and they never had no more trouble.

“Old Black-Oak Knows Best” and Ozark folk tale from “Stiff as a Poker” by Vance Randolph. This folk tale was collected from Mr. Frank Payne of Galena, MO, November, 1932.

Once upon a time there was a pretty girl named Josie, and her folks was well fixed but they had trouble with the law, so the town boys didn’t come around much. There was a young farmer name of Pete wanted to go with her, but Josie wouldn’t do it because she figured them high-collar town boys was better. She give old Gram French two dollars for a charm, but it didn’t do no good. Finally Gram told her to hang the charm on the old black-oak at midnight, and then say a little rhyme.

When Josie come to the old black-oak she done just like Gram told her, and then set down to see what happened. Pretty soon she heard a voice away up in the air a-mumbling. Josie was kind of scared, but she stood still a minute and listened. There was some more mumbling, and then the voice says, “You got to marry Pete.” Josie run for home when she heard that and never told the folks nothing.

The next night she went back to the old black-oak and done just like Gram told her, and then set down to see what happened. Pretty soon she hears some more mumbling up in the air, and then the voice says, “You got to marry Pete.” Josie went home and thought about it a long time.

The third night she went back to the old black-oak and done just like Gram told her, and then she set down to see what happened. Pretty soon she heard something a-mumbling up in the air, and then the voice says, “You got to marry Pete.” Josie went home just like she done before, and never slept a wink all night.

Next day she went and told Gram French what happened. “If you heerd the same thing three nights a-runnin’, you better go ahead an’ marry Pete,” says Gram. “What’s the use to marry a fellow like that?” says Josie. “Why he ain’t got a pot to cook in, or a window to throw it out!” Gram just set and looked at her awaile. “Old black-oak knows best,” she says. “It takes more’n pots an’ windows to make a good husband.” Gram didn’t say no more, and Josie didn’t return no answer.

Josie told the folks she knowed all the time it was Pete a-talking out of the old black-oak, and she says Gram French must have put him up to it. But Pete just grinned, and he never did admit nothing. Him and her got hitched in the dark of the moon, all right. But the neighbors say they done about as good as any other married folks.

“Three Silver Legs” from “The Talking Turtle” by Vance Randolph. Told by Mrs. Mary Burke of Springfield, MO., December, 1935.

One time there was a girl up on Honey Creek got something the matter with her, and she couldn’t walk a step. The girl looked just as healthy as ever, but she had to lay in bed all day long. The folks give her a whole bottle of medicine, but it didn’t do no good. Doc Holton says he can’t find nothing wrong with her legs, only she is paralyzed. He told em she might get well all of a sudden or else maybe she would just stay like that. After Doc went back to town old Gram French come over, and Gram says somebody has planted bad feathers in the path. What she meant was that an Indian woman throwed a spell on the girl’s legs.

The folks didn’t believe much in things like that, but finally they give Gram two dollars. Just before midnight she got to muttering charms, but nobody couldn’t understand what Gram said only the Devil and his helpers. When the clock struck twelve she opened the door, and then she begun to knock on the bed with her left hand. Pretty soon there come a answer away off in the woods and it went tum-tiddy-um-tum like them drums the Indians use at rain dances.

The girl on the bed begun to groan something terrible and the drums away off in the woods kept right on going tum-tiddy-um-tum. And here come something a-marching out from under the bed, and it was a little black soldier about fourteen inches high, with three silver legs. The little black soldier was carrying a thing like a gun but it wasn’t no gun. You wouldn’t believe it, only if you seen the thing with your own eyes.

The drums away off in the woods kept a-going tum-tiddy-um-tum, and the little black soldier kept on a-marching. The folks just set there goggle-eyed. Finally the little black soldier marched right out the door, and a big log in the fireplace broke in two so it fell on the hearth stone. Gram got up and shut the door. Pretty soon she lit the lamp, and the girl in the bed begun to kick with her legs. It wasn’t no time at all till that girl was walking around the house just as lively as anybody.

Doc Holton come out to see her next day and he says, “Well, didn’t I tell you she might get well all of a sudden?” The folks never said nothing to Doc about the drums and the little black soldier, or what the little black soldier was a-carrying neither. Doc didn’t believe in such as that. It’s one of them things you wouldn’t believe yourself only if you seen it with your own eyes.

“Strawberries Are Easy Witched” an Ozark folk tale from “Who Blowed Up the Church House” by Vance Randolph.

One time old Judge Culpepper set out a big patch of strawberries, and they done fine at first. But the Judge’s wife was mean and hard to get along with, always having trouble with the neighbors. Old Gram French come along the road selling sassafras roots, but Mis’ Culpepper didn’t want no sassafras roots, and she says Gram French don’t know enough to dig sassafras anyhow. One word led to another, and pretty soon both of them women was cussing and blackguarding loud as they could. So Gram went out in the road and drawed a little circle in the dust. Then she marked the circle with a cross, and spit on the cross. Everybody knowed Gram French could talk the Devil’s language, and they figured she was throwing a spell on Judge Culpepper’s berry patch.

Next morning the Judge got up early to look at his strawberries, and it looked like they was doing alright. The next day he was out early again, but he couldn’t see nothing wrong with the berry patch. Old Mis’ Culpepper says this gabble about witching berries is all foolishness, and Gram French could draw circles in the dust every day if she wants to, and it won’t make no difference. The Judge didn’t say much, but when he went out the third morning he seen that the leaves didn’t look right, and by four o’clock that evening every one of them fine strawberry plants was dead.

Old Mis’ Culpepper had changed her tune by this time, and she say Gram French is a witch sure enough, and the folks ought to run her plumb out of the country, or maybe shoot her with a silver bullet. But the Judge he says you come with me, and they went out to the patch, and he showed her some little white grains in the dirt. “Taste that stuff,” says he. So Mis’ Culpepper put some on her tongue, and she says it tastes like salt. “It is salt,” says the Judge, “and salt is death on strawberries, and the ground won’t grow nothing but sparrowgrass from now on. That’s what comes of cussing Gram French,” he says.

So then Mis’ Culpepper begun to holler how she is going to fix Gram, but the Judge says you have done enough fixing already, and from now on you better keep your big mouth shut. And next time Gram French comes along selling sassafras, you just give her the nickel or dime or whatever it is she wants. Fooling with them people is bad luck, he says. Do you want my new barn to catch fire mysterious and burn plumb to the ground? How would you like to see all our chickens poisoned, and the ducks too? Maybe you would rather have a dead snake in the well every few days, or some buckeye juice throwed in too drive us both crazy, he says.

It was on Wednesday the Judge told Mis’ Culpepper all this, and Saturday morning here come Gram with a little bundle of sassafras roots. They was not red ones neither, but thick white roots that ain’t fit for nothing. But old Mis’ Culpepper she took them just the same, and give Gram ten cents, and says she is mighty glad to get some good sassafras roots. So then Gram just grinned at her and went on down the road. The Judge he grinned too when he heard about it. “I ain’t educated like my wife is, but I know better than to cuss Gram French,” he says, “It’s a lot cheaper to buy the goddam sassafras.” Mis’ Culpepper figured she better do what the Judge told her about things like that, and they all been getting along pretty good ever since.

"It Sure Won’t Do No Harm” from “Stiff as a Poker” by Vance Randolph. Told by Mrs. Marie Wilbur of Pineville, MO., March, 1929.

One time there was some people up on Sugar Creek had a mighty sick young-un. Her throat was stopped up pretty bad, and she looked feverish, so the folks sent after Doc Holton. When Doc got there he seen old Gram French was ahead of him, but he never let on.

Them granny-women can smell sickness ten mile off, and old Gram French always run over and took charge before the doctor come. And then when Doc got there he’d find the patient a-puking up slippery-elm bark, or maybe all gaumed up with a cow-dung poultice. Doc Holton says Gram French has killed more people than the James boys, but what could he do about it? Gram hated Doc worse’n a rattlesnake, but she always acted nice as pie when he was around. She’d just grin at him and say, “Well, Doctor, these home remedies of mine may not do no good, but they sure won’t do no harm.”

Mostly Doc never said much, but this time he’d been up all night, and wasn’t feeling well no how. When he found a dirty stinking rag tied round the sick girl’s neck it made him pretty mad. “What the hell’s this?” says he. Gram just grinned at him, same as always. “Just a old dirty sock, Doctor. The best thing I ever seen for throat sickness. It might not do no good, maybe, but it sure won’t do no harm.”

Doc didn’t return no answer, and he never paid no more attention to Gram till the sick girl was took care of, and he seen she was going to be all right.

Pretty soon Gram spoke up again. “I been havin’ a misery in my stomach lately, an’ catnip tea don’t seem to take hold like it used to. What do you recommend for such as that, Doctor?”

Doc looked at Gram’s tongue and asked her a few questions, and then he says for the girl’s mother to fetch him a good big meat-rind, with plenty of fat on it. “My goodness, Doctor,” says Gram, “I never heard tell of usin’ a meat-rind for stomach trouble in all my sixty years of nursin’ the sick!”

When the woman come back with the meat-rind, Doe passed it over to Gram. “Tie this on your old rump,” says he, “and leave it there till it stinks as bad as this dirty sock. It may not do no good,” he says, “but it sure won’t do you no harm,”

The old granny just set there plumb flabbergasted, and Doc throwed the dirty sock in the fire, a-washing his hands careful with stuff out of a bottle. He looked mighty pleased about something. But they do say that Gram French never spoke another word to Doc Holton as long as she lived.

“She Always Answered No” from Vance Randolph, collected from Marie Wilbur of Pineville, MO in June 1930.

One time there was a pretty girl with red hair, and she kept house for her daddy because her mother had run off with a peddler. And there was a boy named Jack that wanted to go with her, but the old man told her to say ‘No’ every time a boy asked her a question. So when Jack says, “Can I come and see you Sunday night?” the pretty girl answered “No.” And when he says, “Will you go buggy riding with me?” she says, “No.” So then he says, “Well, do you want to get married?” but the pretty girl says “No” again. Jack seen he was not getting nowheres, be he didn’t know what to do about it.

Jack though about this awhile, and then he went to see old Gram French and give her two boxes of snuff. Gram listened while Jack told all about his troubles, and then she says, “Well, you better go marry one of them girls at Gizzard Springs, and let the redhead go.” But Jack says to hell with Gizzard Springs, and if he can’t get the pretty girl with the red hair he don’t want no woman at all. And then he begun to talk like he is going to hang himself in the barn, or else maybe he will run off and join the army. Gram just set there until Jack quietened down, and then she told him to go and ask the redhead three questions. She made him say the questions over till he learned all three of them by heart, to make sure there wouldn’t be no mistake.

When Jack got to the house he seen the old man was not at home, and the pretty girl was out in the barn looking for eggs. So he says, “Do you want to live single all your life?” and the pretty girl with the red hair says “No.” Then Jack spoke up again and he says, “Do you want to marry anybody except me?” The pretty girl looked kind of funny when she heard this one, but finally she says, “No.” When it come to the third question, Jack took a big breath and he whispered in the pretty girl’s ear. She jumped like she was shot and hollered “No!” at the top of her voice. Then she looked at Jack, and they both busted out laughing. So Jack just grabbed the pretty girl with the red hair and throwed her right down in the hay. They was as good as married right then and there.

When the girl’s daddy come home, she told him all about what had happened and how she answered “No” every time, but Jack had got the best of her just the same. The old man grumbled considerable, but after while he says, “Well, if a boy is smart enough to figure out them three questions, he ought to make a fair-to-middling husband anyhow.” And so Jack and the pretty girl with the red hair went to town and got married, and they lived happy ever after.

Finally, Vance Randolph alludes to the death of Gram French in his “Ozark Magic and Folklore”:

“The witch master’s immediate purpose is to check the particular 'bewitchment’ which is injuring his client, but his ultimate intention is to kill or permanently disable the witch. When a witch dies, every jackleg witch doctor in the country claims credit for causing her death. When old Gram French was killed by falling off a bluff, an amateur conjurer in our neighborhood stalked solemnly about with rabbit blood on his forehead for several days. 'But ever'body knows,’ a village loafer said scornfully, 'that the pore half-wit never even seen Gram!’”

We may never know who old Gram French was or whether she was a real person or just another character in old folk tales. I still hope to do some work in the Randolph/Parler archives housed in the special collections department of the University I currently attend and work for, so maybe I’ll be able to find out some more information about her. But what I do know is that she represents the wise woman of the forest, part healer, part counselor, part trickster, who was both loved and feared by the community around her. She’s the perfect example of the Ozark folk healer, a woman trapped between being a witch and a saint, just depending on who you talk to. I may never find out the full story of Gram French, but I’ll always look at her as a kindred spirit.