The following story is from an article by Ruth Ann Musick, “West Virginia Ghost Stories,” published in the Midwest Folklore Journal, Vol. 8 No. 1 (Spring 1958). “Since I came to West Virginia in 1952,” she says, “I have collected over a hundred ghost stories. The ‘hitch-hiking girl’ seems to be especially popular. John Jacob Niles has a particularly dramatic version of this, and I have three versions from West Virginia contributors. This version was contributed by Doris Summers, a former student of mine at Fairmont State University.”
The three boys huddled closer together in the car to keep warm. It was a cold night and the snow sifting in under the doors didn’t make the boys feel any better. It was late, but the boy at the wheel didn’t dare drive any faster because the roads were bad. It was snowing heavily, and the road ahead was barely visible.
One of the boys made a joke and all three started laughing. Suddenly they became silent. On the road ahead was a figure crawling on hands and knees. They stopped the car and jumped out. The figure was that of a girl, and she had evidently been in an accident. Fearfully the boys lifted her into the car. Her hands and feet were nearly frozen and her teeth chattered from the cold. There was a wound on her forehead that had dried blood on it.
Greatly concerned for her, they tried to get her to tell them where she lived, but at first she wouldn’t speak. Finally she managed a weak whisper.
“I was in an accident,” she gasped. “Mason’s Lawn. Get me to Mason’s Lawn before…”
Her voice trailed off and she did not speak again. One of the boys wrapped his scarf around her. They all knew where Mason’s Lawn was. It was a big estate on Morgantown Avenue. They had driven by it many times. The fact that the injured girl might live there surprised them, for they hadn’t know old Mrs. Mason had a daughter. It was supposed the old lady lived alone.
The car moved steadily and soon reached Mason’s Lawn. As they approached it the wounded girl regained consciousness and became alert. The car came to a halt in front of the huge house. Before the boys could get out the girl muttered a hasty ‘thank you’ and hurried out of the car. They watched her in surprise as she ran up the walk and went into the house.
“Hey,” said one boy, “she’s got my scarf.”
Puzzled, but tired, the boys went home, determined to return the next day.
Upon arriving in the afternoon they knocked on the door. It was answered by Mrs. Mason, who invited them to come in.
“Is your daughter in?” one of the boys asked.
They noticed a decided change in the old lady’s countenance.
“I don’t understand,” she said. “I have no daughter.’
Quite a great deal puzzled, the boys began a complete explanation of the happenings of the night before. It made them uneasy to watch the old woman grow pale and nervous. When they had finished, she caught her breath. When she spoke her voice was tight and strained.
“My daughter is dead. She was killed in an automobile accident several years ago. This is the fifth time someone has tried to bring her back to me.”