The Lady of the Strawberries
Once upon a time, the forest of Hasenberg, near Hagenbach, was haunted by a strange and mysterious ghost, named the Lady of the Strawberries, since she would wander the woods during the time of the strawberry harvest. No one ever knew who she was, where she came from, nor what she wanted. Yet, she was thought to be taking care of those little red and scented berries that grow and ripen at ground level, within the grasp of children’s little hands.
In the beginning of the summer, the Lady of the Strawberries was usually evoked to threaten the children that might be tempted to go into the woods to satisfy their greed. However, some dared to venture into the forest, but they ran away as soon as they saw the apparition. Though, she had yet to ever cause anyone harm. Thus, as she approached the children, they would still take the time to stare at her a little, and they described her as dressed in a pleated and richly decorated gown, with long blond hair. When she walked, she was so light that it seemed she would float just above the ground.
One day, she caught three young girls who were busy filling up their little baskets with strawberries. When they saw her, two of them were frightened and fled, while the third girl, who was very daring, stood there and stared, very likely transfixed by the Lady’s beauty. Thus, the girl was not scared by the marvellous apparition when she moved to fondle her head, asking her in a melodious voice to recite five Pater Noster (Our Father’s?). The little one complied obediently, and, once the prayers were completed, the fairy vanished like a ribbon of haze dispersed by a gentle breeze. Then the child heard the Lady’s tender voice, all throughout the forest, saying: ‘I am relieved of a heavy burden, for which I will soon reward you.’ The child dreamily walked back to her parents’ house. And a few days later, she was taken of a peculiar illness and passed away peacefully, like a lamp which runs out of oil: the Lady of the Strawberries, faithful to her promise, had just welcomed her to the Home of the Hereafter.