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(To celebrate Halloween, this spooky article was written in 1953 by Carl Goerch. It tells of happenings that mystified Wake Forest College Professor Jasper L. Memory, and originally ran in the Columbus County News.)
Mr. J.L. Memory is in a quandary.
Mr. Memory is connected with Wake Forest College. He is a man who has received a college education, who has been in contact with highly learned men for a number of years, and who has a mind which runs to scientific things.
But Mr. Memory is puzzled. He has come across something which conflicts with his scientific thoughts and he doesn’t know what to make of it.
He has a white mare which, at times, is inclined to be rather wild.
Now any person, with any intelligence whatsoever, knows that witches have a preference for white mares. That’s a fact which is well established regardless of what scientists may say about it.
One morning, as Mr. Memory was taking the mare out of the stable, a neighbor happened to be passing by. He glanced at the mare and commented sort of casual like: “Well, Mr. Memory, I see the witches have been working up your mare again.”
Mr. Memory said: “What do you mean by that?”
And the man said: “Don’t you see that she’s all covered with sweat? That means that the witches have been working her all night. They’ll do it every time when the moon is full.”
Mr. Memory scoffed at the very idea. He continued to scoff, despite the fact that every morning, after a full moon, he would find the mare covered with sweat. He mentioned the matter jokingly to some other people and was surprised to discover that the other people didn’t take it as a joke at all. As a matter of fact, they were surprised at his ignorance about the subject.
The mare–like all other mares–has a mane. One day, not long ago, Mr. Memory noticed that a part of the mane was plaited and that there was a knot tied in it. He untangled the hairs, brushed the mane smooth, and thought nothing more of it.
The next morning, he noticed that the mane was plaited and knotted again. The same thing happened on each succeeding morning.
He mentioned it to an old farmer with whom he happened to be in conversation on the streets of Wake Forest one day. The old man looked at him in mild amusement.
“You mean to tell me,” he said, “that you don’t know what causes that?”
Mr. Memory confessed his ignorance.
“The witches have been plaiting the mare’s mane,” said the farmer. “They’ll do it every time. Long as I can remember, it has always been a well-known fact that witches are fond of white mares. Most every white mare is bewitched. Does your mare act kinder wild at times?”
Mr. Memory admitted that she did.
The man nodded his head sagely. “That proves it,” he said. “But you don’t need to worry about it, because practically every white mare is bewitched.”
A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Memory took his mare around to a man who shoes horses. The mare acted awfully contrary-like and Mr. Memory apologized to the man for the way she was cutting up. The man waved the apology aside.
“You don’t have to tell me anything about this mare,” he said. “I know all about her.”
“What do you know about her?”
“She’s bewitched,” said the man calmly. “Doesn’t she sweat every morning after a full moon?”
The man walked to the front of the animal. He regarded the mare carefully and then pointed to the part that was plaited and knotted.
“Can’t get rid of that, can you?”
Mr. Memory admitted that he hadn’t been able to.
“And you won’t either,” said the horse-shoer. “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. You can comb and brush that mane all you want to, and you can padlock your barn so that nobody can get into it. Or you can sit up and watch the barn all night long to make sure that nobody is messing with the animal. And I’ll bet you a hundred dollars that the next morning, when you open the doors of your stable, you’ll find the same plait and this same knot in the mane.”
Mr. Memory refused to take the bet. Just the same, that evening, he brushed the mare’s mane with extra care. There wasn’t a single tangle or knot in it.
The next morning when he went to the stable to feed the animal, he found the same plait and the same knot.
Now you’d think that that would be enough to satisfy any normal man of the presence of witches, but Mr. Memory apparently is one of those individuals who is too stubborn to permit himself to be convinced by conclusive evidence and proof.
Dozens of substantial folks have told him of the close connection between witches and white mares, but he still scoffs at the theory. All of which goes to prove that a college education isn’t much help in promoting common sense and broadmindedness.
Mr. Memory believes in the fourth dimension, in squaring the circle and with various other scientific theories, but when it comes to a simple, every day matter like a white mare and the presence of witches, he acts like a person who’s never been to school at all.
Just the same he admits he is slightly puzzled.