Running Water

“Wait! I’ll leave you past the stream,” said Old Ned to my friend, Jimmy, who was leaving my house one night.

“Oh, don’t mind Ned,” replied Jimmy, laughing, “the night’s clear and I won’t be afraid.”

“Sure, Jimmy’s not afraid of ghosts, Ned,” I said when my friend had left.

“Och, dear boy, God bless you! Isn’t he thin?” said Ned, “you don’t know him long or you wouldn’t say that.”

“Is that right!” I asked.

“Indeed, I do,” replied Ned emphatically, “that is, unless he has changed greatly of late.”

“And what good would it do him if you escorted him over the stream? I inquired.

“Ah, dear boy, you don’t know much, do you?”

“I can tell you, Ned, that I know nothing about such things, but I am eager to learn.”

“And did you not know that nothing bad can follow you past running water?” asked an astonished Ned.

“No, by God, I didn’t know,” I told him. “Is it true?”

“Of course, it is,” replied Ned. “Sure, I thought everyone knew that.”

“Well, no, Ned. In the part of the country I come from, although the people believe in ghosts, I never heard it.”

“Well, now, that’s odd,” said Ned as he looked down at the floor thoughtfully. “And what would you do,” he asked abruptly, “If you’re walking out at night, and, without hearing or seeing anything around you nowhere, you were to get a sudden blow on the back of your head?”

“By God! I suppose I would turn around and strike back,” I answered, laughing.

“Then, I tell you, that’s were you would be entirely wrong. By Jesus, it is little good it would do you. You wouldn’t be doing much harm with your blows, for you would be just beating the air. But you would get such a beating that, if you ever got over it you would be a lucky man, and have some good people praying for you.”

“What should I do, then?” I inquired with much interested.

“What would you do? Is that what you’re asking me?”

“Yes”.

“Well, then, you should walk on as quickly as you can until you cross a stream of running water, and whatever it would be that would be trying to harm you could not follow you past it.”

“Oh, I see! That’s why you spoke about the stream a few moments ago.”

“Aye, that’s the reason.”

“Then, there must be some charm in running water?”

“Of course, there is! Sure, why wouldn’t there be!” Ned exclaimed earnestly.

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