Tall Tales


A Maryland Tall Tale 

retold by

S. E. Schlosser

There is an old tale which claims that at midnight, on Christmas Eve, the cattle will kneel in the barn and speak with one another. Once an old Maryland man decided to test the tale by hiding in the barn at midnight to listen. So he climbed a rope to the window in the hayloft. He lay down on the rough gray boards, covered himself with hay and waited.

Around midnight, he saw all the cows in the barn kneel. At first he could not make out any words, but then, he heard the cow underneath his hiding place say to its neighbor: "I am afraid our poor old master will not live out the year."

"Oh dear," exclaimed her neighbor. "What a pity."

The old man was so frightened by the cow's words that he hurried over to the window, wanting to get away from the barn as fast as he could. But his sweating fingers slipped on the rope and he fell to the ground, broke his neck, and died.

Since then, the people in Maryland have never eavesdropped on the cattle at midnight on Christmas Eve.

You can read more Maryland folktales and ghost stories in Spooky Maryland by S.E. Schlosser.



If the man died how did the word go around about his death?

There is no way that the word would go around. how did they even know he died cause of the cows talking?

because they saw his body

good question? how did it get around

You just know how to ruin a good Tall tale don't ya BoB! LOL

In one version I heard, the man told his wife he was going to eavesdrop on the cows on Christmas Eve. That's how people knew what caused his accident.

This is weird....

weird thing

I think the cows saw him

it is cool

Are you kidding me? It's a story... To scare little kids so they won't eavesdrop.... Why go and ruin with stupid QUESTIONS!!!

that man should have been careful he listen to what the cows said and knew it could happen so he's pretty stupid to not listen and be carful

wow!! that wasnt even scary..juss sayin!

i would have went through the front door, like the cows would have done anything


Hahahahaha the farmer didn't listen to the stupid cows lol maybe he learned his lesson :p

You never know it might be true but only god knows

Of course people realized beause, it was christmas eve, and he was by the cows. on christmas eve the cows are supposed to talk and your not supposed to listen, so when you find a dead man with the cows after christmas eve what would you think? -__-

I like it, such a shame he died.

its awesome

Like the story and i liked how he dieded in the end because that was part of the story

i will never eavesdrop cattle in my life

It's called a Folktale for a reason.

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Schlosser, author of the Spooky Series

About the Author: S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series by Globe Pequot Press, as well as the Ghost Stories deck by Random House.  She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of "let's pretend" quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children's Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author. Read more

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