Phantom Lovers of Dismal Swamp
A Virginia Ghost Story
S. E. Schlosser
He couldn't believe it when she fell ill just a few short weeks before their marriage. His betrothed was beautiful, strong, and healthy, but she just faded away before his eyes. He held her in his arms as she gasped out her last breathe, and was inconsolable long after her body lay buried beside the Dismal Swamp.
Day after day, night after night, he grieved for his lost love. He scorned food and sleep, depriving himself until his mind gave way under the strain and he became obsessed with the idea that his beloved was still alive somewhere just out of reach. Her family had sent her away into the swamp, he reasoned, and she was waiting for him to come and rescue her.
"I will find her," he told his worried family, passionate in his conviction. "I will find her and hide her away from Death, so that he will never find her when he comes."
In vain, his family tried to convince him that his beloved laid dead beside the swamp. He would listen to none of their pleas, breaking away from them violently and plunging into the swamp. He wandered for days, living on roots and berries and sleeping at night among the dank marshland.
One evening at dusk, he stumbled upon Drummond's Pond, which was a five-mile expanse of water in the middle of the Dismal Swamp. Upon the surface of the water, he saw the soft blinking of a firefly dancing hither and thither across the black surface.
"It is her!" he exclaimed in join. "I see her light!"
He rushed around, frantically constructing a raft of cypress branches so that he could reach his love before she disappeared. Lashing the branches together with vines, he leapt on top and floated out to join the girl he had lost.
As he drew near the center of the pond, a wind sprang up and the raft was tossed and tumbled in the sudden waves it cause. With a cry of alarm, he fell from the raft, sank down into the murky waters, and was drowned.
If you visit Drummond's Pond after the last light fades and the fireflies come out, you may sometimes see the phantoms of the man and his love, reunited at last. Side by side, they float across the pond on a raft made of cypress branches, carrying a firefly lantern to light their way.
You can read more Virginia ghost stories in Spooky South by S.E. Schlosser.