When she saw it, she should have turned her head and go along her merry way, but Mabel was not that kind of person. She lived by the philosophy of “whatever dog get on ground is dog own,” so without thinking twice she picked it up and slipped it into her pocket.
When Mabel found it, the word ‘de Laurence’ was beginning to get popular in Dominica and there were whispers that a certain obeah man on the east coast had in his possession the feared and revered “Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses” and was using it to further his skills. It was said he had gotten the book from de Laurence.
But this was far from Mabel’s mind when she got home to examine her prize. It was a ring; unlike what she had ever seen before. The top of the ring was flat and was engraved with two circles. Between the circles strange writings and symbols protruded from the ring. In the middle was something that looked like the head of a dog or wolf, she was not sure. The ring was heavy and felt cold to the touch and she was not sure whether it was gold or not.
Mabel placed the ring in the old suitcase she kept valuables, pushed the suitcase under the bed and went to do her house chores. But then she began to feel the strange sensation that there was someone in the house watching her. It felt so real that whenever she turned around, she expected to see someone there. She looked through the whole house but as usual it was all empty for Mabel lived alone.
Seeing no one she thought maybe old age was catching on her, so she called one of the neighbor’s children and sent him to the shop for a gill of cask rum. The effect of the rum warmed her stomach and she no longer felt as if someone was in the house.
That evening after sending the neighbor’s child to the shop for two more rum runs, Mabel sat down to listen to the radio until she fell asleep. She woke up later on and headed to her bed. Although she had just installed electricity in her house, she still preferred the warm glow of her kerosene lamp and this she lit before falling hitting the pillows.
She was just about to drift into slumber when she heard the sound. It was strange unfamiliar sound; like the slow dripping of water in a deep well. Mabel sat up in the bed, trying to locate the source of the sound but it she could not because sometimes it seemed as if it was coming from under the bed and sometimes from somewhere outside.
Cursing under her breath Mabel went outside to examine the old drum she used for catching rainwater, but it was empty. Puzzled she reentered the house and the sound was gone but then she again got the overwhelming sensation that someone was in the house.
“But what is that,” Mabel said to herself. “Somebody I know die man and I doh know yet. But who I know that sick to die nuh? I doh know nobody.”
Convinced that a relative had died and the spirit had come to alert her, she made a sign of the cross and muttered, “May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace, amen.”
She fell asleep and she dreamt that she was hosting a dance in her yard and there were mazook, quadrille and bélé dancers. The whole area rang with the sound of tambou bélé, boom-boom and accordion. Since she was good at Heel and Toe Polka, Mabel dreamt she danced and danced until she was completely exhausted.
Next day Mabel woke up tired and sweaty. As she got out of bed she caught the glimpse of someone’s fleeting shadow going in the direction of the kitchen. She stumbled after the shadow, convinced that she was going to catch a thief but when she got to the kitchen, there was no one there.
As she stood in the kitchen Mabel felt suddenly cold and she could feel someone standing near her. She shuddered violently and she stumbled out of the kitchen only to run into Ma John, her friend, who was standing in the yard.
“What happened nuh?” Ma John said. “You looking like somebody that just see a jumbie.”
Mabel smiled and said she was fine.
“So when you having your dance you not thinking of me eh,” Ma John said.
“What you talking about nuh,” Mabel asked.
And Ma John proceeded to tell Mabel of how she stayed from her yard and saw Mabel’s dance with the bélé, quadrille and mazook dancers and how the dance went on till the wee hours of the morning.
Then many strange things began happening at Mabel’s home. One day she could not find her bible although it never left her room. She found it couple of days later under the breadfruit tree in the yard with many pages torn from it.
One of the neighbor’s children told her that he saw a white man sunbathing on her roof but Mabel did not believe the story until an adult told her he saw the same white man.
She heard rattling in the kitchen and although she placed rat poison all over the place she never saw a single dead rat.
And of course there was the sound of the dripping water she heard every night.
But what pushed Mabel to take action was the day she actually saw the white man her neighbors spoke to her about. She was in the yard weeding when she looked up and there in the window was the man. For what seemed like an eternity they stared at each other until with a burst of energy she fled her home, straight to Ma John’s yard.
The very next day, following Ma John’s recommendations, Mabel decided to visit the obeah man. Ma John had told her somebody was “trying a thing” on her so she better go “and look out for yourself.”
And so she went and she told the obeah man everything that had been happening at her home from the time she found the strange ring. When she showed the ring to the obeah man, he almost jumped out of his chair.
“Let me tell you something eh,” he said. “That ring there is something you should not have eh. You should never have take that ring from where it was. The owner at your home right now. Is a de Laurence ring I telling you. I going take the ring but you have to make the owner leave your house. Now listen to me carefully.”
That night it was very dark and Mabel walked swiftly down the road. She glanced nervously over her shoulders since she heard footsteps behind her. She wanted to make sure she arrived at the crossroads at the stroke of midnight just as she was instructed by the obeah man. She broke into a run as she heard the footsteps grow louder and louder behind her.
She arrived at the crossroad and she quickly grabbed three handful of dirt. This she poured over head, spun around three times and headed back home. On her way home she noticed the footsteps had stopped and it was oddly quiet. The obeah man had told her that when she poured three handfuls of dirt from the crossroad into her head at exactly midnight and spin around three times, she would be actually ‘underground’ and would be invisible to everything, including spirits and it appeared it was true.
Mabel went home and slept peacefully for the first time in a long time and this was the first step in getting rid of spirit that came with the de Laurence ring.
Her next task was to cleanse her house. Following the obeah man’s instructions she went to the seaside, counted seven waves and after the seventh wave she filled a hand basin with sea water. This she took home and placed under the bed.
Then Mabel went to the Catholic church and got a bottle of holy water. She took this home and mixed it with the sea water that was under her bed. The mixture was left for three days under the bed away from the rays of the sun. On the third day Mabel threw in snake oil, red lavender, and a variety of foul smelling oils given to her by the obeah man into the mix.
Then she wrote her name on a piece of parchment paper given to her by the obeah man, folded the paper into seven folds and dipped it three time in the mixture. She placed the paper on the sill of the window that was facing west.
She settled down and anxiously waited for nightfall for tonight she was going to drive away the spirit from her house once and for all.
Night fell quickly and when it was close to midnight Mabel sprang into action. The obeah man told her she had to be quick, to catch the spirit off guard. She quickly turned off her kerosene lamp and lit the black candle she had bought in Roseau. Then she grabbed the hand basin and was about to start sprinkling the strange mixture on her bed when she heard a loud crash coming from the direction of the kitchen. The obeah man told her she should not be deterred by anything, so she went ahead and sprinkled her bed, then all the parts of her room.
She was about to enter the living room when she heard the sound of someone jumping on the galvanize roof. The sound was deafening and Mable feared her neighbors would hear the racket, come over to investigate and throw her plans off tracks.
She quickly continued sprinkling the mixture all over the house and she did the same outside. Then she threw what was left of the mixture to the four corners of the earth and went back to her room.
The black candle burnt steadily, the noise on the roof stopped and then suddenly there was a loud sound outside; like that of a breadfruit falling on hard ground. And silence.
Mabel fell asleep and she slept like she never did before.
From that time onwards, she never picked up anything she knew did not belong to her.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Persons are asked to submit stories about real-life ghost experiences, folklore, and anything related to [email protected] Submissions are strictly confidential, so do not worry. The column appears every Tuesday.