There once dwelt in Stillington a shy, lonely girl by the name of Lucy. She had no mother and lived with her father and two brothers who were very protective of her.
One day while out on an errand Lucy met a stranger in the village who had to come in search of work. He didn’t see a shy, motherless girl as everyone else did but a pretty young woman. She was coy and charming. Quickly he asked her to go walking with him and when she refused he thought she was just teasing him.
After a little persuasion Lucy agreed to go walking, but on the condition that they met beside a pond on a lane or balk outside the village where no-one, most especially her father and brothers, would see them.
This went on for some time until one day one of Lucy’s brothers saw them together and told his father. There was a terrible argument and Lucy was forbidden to meet the man again. Distraught she went to see him saying that she loved him and that she wanted to run away with him. He agreed and suggested to Lucy that they meet the next morning beside their usual meeting place – the pond – and that she should get her belongings together. He would take her away with him.
Before sunrise the next day Lucy was standing beside the pond in her best Sunday dress clutching all she owned in the world. She waited and waited. The sun rose and still he didn’t come. Lucy looked and watched, pacing back and forth. Workers came to the fields and still there was no sign of him. Finally Lucy realised he wasn’t coming and went home.
There her father was waiting for her with the news that her man had gone sometime in the night. Soon the whole village knew what had happened. People laughed behind her back. Lucy rarely left the house, she was so ashamed.
One day Lucy disappeared. When her father and brothers got home from work the house was empty, the fire out. They went to the neighbours, but no one had seen her. They went to the church. It was empty. They asked passers-by if they had seen her and one had – a farm worker coming home had seen her on the balk.
It was getting dark as the man and his sons rushed down the narrow, closed in lane. In the gloom they spotted something light coloured high up in a tree. It was Lucy wearing her pretty Sunday frock, dangling over the pond. She had hung herself in a fit of despair.
Without a lamp to light his way one of the brothers scrambled up the tree and attempted to cut his poor sister down. He hacked through the rope with his knife, thinking he could hold Lucy's body long enough to swing it out to be caught by his father and brother. But he was mistaken. His hand slipped and Lucy’s body plunged into the depths of the pond. There was a flash of her pale dress, and then she was gone.
By this time friends and neighbours had come to help with lamps but no-one dared plunge into the pond to retrieve the body and by the next day Lucy’s corpse had sunk into the mud and disappeared. There was a reluctance to try too hard to get her out. She was a suicide and couldn’t be buried in the churchyard anyway.
Lucy was first seen a few days after that – at twilight pacing up and down at the pond – her frock all sodden with water, her face as white as her dress. Sometimes she was seen hanging, staring with bulging eyes.
Before long no-one would walk that way at dusk for fear of seeing her ghost, or hear her it wailing in despair and loneliness. Some say she became malevolent and would try to catch the unwary, travelling alone – her bony hand reaching out of the pond to snatch at their ankles, to grab them and drag them to their doom - to keep Lucy company in her watery grave.
So beware Lucy’s ghost if you walk down her balk in the twilight…