Narrative
Tales /märchen

The Golden Arm

The Tale:

“Once upon a time there was a little lady who lived in a cottage…all on her own, uh, in the woods. One day, when she was out in her house, outside her house, um, working in her garden and gathering, uh, vegetables and taking care of her flowers, she um, she decided to go on over to the little graveyard…that was not too far away from her house, and she thought she would go and lay some flowers on the various graves. Well when she came upon one grave, she found this very interesting…uh…gold…thing that caught her eye, and when she looked at it more carefully, it looked like it was in the shape of an arm, and she thought that was very odd, but yet it was still so pretty and shiny. She decided she would pick it up and take it home. So she took it home with her, and she went on back home, and she made dinner and everything, and uh, lit a fire, and sat by the fireplace for a little while, and then she got tired and decided to go to bed. So she went to bed that night, and after she had fallen asleep for a little while, she, she thought she heard something and she wasn’t sure, so she sat up so she could hear a little bit better, and she heard something, um from a, sounded like from a distance going: ‘Briiiing back my golden arm. Briiiing back my golden arm.’ And it kept getting louder, and louder, and louder. And she was very nervous, she didn’t know what was happening. And it got louder, and closer. ‘Briiiing back my golden arm. (louder) Briiiing back my golden arm. BRIIIING BACK MY GOLDEN ARM.’ So the little lady…scrambled up, she got the golden arm, and she looked out but she didn’t see anyone, so she quickly ran back out to the graveyard and put it back where she found it, and ran back to her house and locked the house, and she never heard, or saw the golden arm again.”

The informant is my mom. She is from Tennessee working as a middle school Spanish teacher. She heard this tale from her mother when she was a little girl, and she then told it to my sister and I at home. The tale had a haunting impression on her as a child. My grandmother was an intimidating woman; she was very strict and got upset with my mom if she didn’t obey exactly what she wanted her to do. I believe my grandmother told this story to my mom in order to scare her and instruct her to follow the rules or avoid messing with things about which she doesn’t know enough information. It doesn’t seem to have that exciting of an ending, but I imagine my grandmother’s intention was just to scare my mom, so it didn’t matter. It also kind of disturbed my sister and me.

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