NUISANCE CAUSED BY RURAL GHOSTS

Agriculture is fertile ground for ghosts. In the 19th century, in England and elsewhere, scareghosts were put up on cultivated fields to scare the ghosts that roamed rural areas at night in search of cucumbers and other creeping plants. In Yorkshire, near the town of Ripon, there was a ghost that used to wallow in the pumpkin fields while humming “On Ilkley Moor without a hat” in Yorkshire dialect. The song tells of a villager who rebukes his beloved Mary Jane for being in Ilkley Moor without a hat, risking a cold. Every time they heard this song being sung at night in the fields, the locals would get very nervous, especially Mary Jane, who would rush to put on her hat. In Norfolk County, peasants used to organize night raids to scare away a ghost who was hell-bent on introducing Chinese gooseberry into the region. Often a farmer would plant collards, chard, or turnips and instead of collards, chard, and turnips, he would harvest cucumbers. People were sick of eating only cucumbers and this led to riots which, because no one really knew who to protest against, often ended in self-inflicted injuries. The people of Norwich, in a desperate attempt to reverse this situation, poisoned the fields, but all they accomplished was take ill with trichinosis.

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