An Utah Ghost Story
Little Simeon came running into the surgery. He bent over, winded, and gasped desperately several times before he could speak.
"Doc. Doc! My paw got strychnine poison in his thumb. We amputated it right away, but the poison is still moving up his arm. You gotta come quick!"
The doctor grabbed his medical bag and hustled out the door immediately. It took but a moment to saddle the mare, and he swung the boy up in front of him and galloped out of the yard and down the road towards the Houd place, which was two miles away.
Simeon the elder was lying on his bed being attended by his wives and a large number of his children.
"Doctor, you must help me," Simeon gasped, waving the stump of his thumb at the doctor. "The strychnine is up to my shoulder. If it gets in my vitals, I will die."
His wives started wailing, and all the children echoed them so there was a tremendous noise in the room. The doctor held up his hands and shouted: "Be assured my sisters and brothers, that God has sent me in good time to cure Brother Simeon. With my Thomsonian medicines to aid his recovery, Brother Simeon will soon be well."
His words calmed the family. After repeated reassurances, Simeon’s wives bustled out of the room followed by the children, leaving the doctor room to work. As the doctor treated Simeon with the first dose of medicine, he could smell dinner being prepared and hear the voices of Simeon’s children doing their homework around the kitchen table.
When the doctor descended the stairs, Simeon’s wives came out of the kitchen, and asked him to stay to dinner. He declined regretfully, having other patients to see that evening. But before he left he gave them careful instructions on the care of Simeon, and told them he would be by tomorrow to give Simeon another dose of the special tonics.
The doctor visited Simeon every morning and night for four days, giving him a thorough case of Thomsonian medicines each visit. By the fourth day, Simeon was so much better that the doctor determined that the poison had been checked. Deciding that no more treatment was necessary, he declared Simeon well and went home, well satisfied with the successful recovery of his patient.
Two nights later, the doctor was awakened from a deep sleep by a bright light shining right in his eyes. He sat up quickly, shading his eyes. At first he thought that he had overslept. But the light was not coming from the window. As his eyes adjusted to the brilliance, he saw a woman dressed in white standing at the foot of the bed. She was surrounded by a heavenly light, and she glowed within as well. The doctor gasped in fear and huddled underneath his bedclothes.
"Do not be afraid," the spirit said in a kind voice. The doctor took heart at her words. He withdrew his head from the covers and looked right at the glowing woman.
"I have been sent to you from the other world," the woman said.
"Who are you?" The doctor asked.
"In life, I was called Sally Ann. I was a cousin to Sisters Thompson and Smith."
"Why have you been sent here?" asked the doctor.
"I have been sent to tell you that Brother Simeon will die of strychnine poisoning if you do not double your diligence."
The doctor swallowed guiltily, remembering his pride in having cured Brother Simeon. One of the earliest lessons he had learned was how pride goeth before destruction. Yet here he was falling into the same trap.
He thanked the ghost for her warning and promised to go to Brother Simeon at daybreak. Satisfied, the ghost vanished and the room was in darkness once more.
The next morning the doctor went to Brother Simeon’s house and recommenced his treatment. Simeon confessed to the doctor that he had begun having trouble with his arm again, but was unsure whether or not it was serious enough to call him out. The doctor continued dosing his patient with the Thomsonian medicine until Simeon was completely well.
Brother Simeon lived for another twenty-five years in good health, for which he credited the doctor and his Thomsonian medicine. As for Sisters Thomson and Smith, they recognized the doctor’s description of the ghost at once. It was their cousin Sally Ann Chamberlain from Nauvoo, who had died fourteen years before.
You can read more spooky Utah folktale in Spooky Southwest by S.E. Schlosser.