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Old short story about a witch is an intriguing read April 10, 2011

Posted by Diana McCabe in News, witch.
Tags: , ,

I saw this on Twitter recently and so zipped through this fascinating short story — LUELLA MILLER — written by MARY WILKINS FREEMAN in 1902. It’s about a woman who drains the life out of anyone who helps her. Here’s a snippet, but if you want to read the whole story, CLICK HERE:

Close to the village street stood the one-story house in which Luella Miller, who had an evil name in the village, had dwelt. She had been dead for years, yet there were those in the village who, in spite of the clearer light which comes on a vantage-point from a long-past danger, half believed in the tale which they had heard from their childhood. In their hearts, although they scarcely would have owned it, was a survival of the wild horror and frenzied fear of their ancestors who had dwelt in the same age with Luella Miller. Young people even would stare with a shudder at the old house as they passed, and children never played around it as was their wont around an untenanted building. Not a window in the old Miller house was broken: the panes reflected the morning sunlight in patches of emerald and blue, and the latch of the sagging front door was never lifted, although no bolt secured it. Since Luella Miller had been carried out of it, the house had had no tenant except one friendless old soul who had no choice between that and the far-off shelter of the open sky. This old woman, who had survived her kindred and friends, lived in the house one week, then one morning no smoke came out of the chimney, and a body of neighbours, a score strong, entered and found her dead in her bed . . .

Pretty cool short story. Some folks who have written literary papers about this story say she was a vampire. Others look at the social message about service: Who chooses to serve and why … and what happens when service goes awry. (Maybe social service isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be?)

If you get a chance to read it, let me know what you think — especially about that last scene. (Hey — it’s  a short story so you should be able to read it in a snap!)

Mary Wilkins Freeman/Wikipedia


1. Diana McCabe - April 10, 2011

OK — has anyone else read this? Do you think she was a witch or a vampire?

2. maria rose - April 12, 2011

i had a chance to read the story and the ending really gets you. I don’t think she Luella is a vampire in the blood sucking sense but more of a life-essence drawer which makes me consider her more a witch who spelled to keep herself pretty by drawing life from those who helped her

Diana McCabe - April 12, 2011

Yes — that ending is creepy weird!!!! I think on one of the websites (think I gave the link) there is an artist’s rendering of her. I saw lots of references to her as a vampire on the web — but I think you’re right. It’s not literal.


3. Alfredo - May 28, 2013

With writers of a literary turn like Mary Wilkins Freeman, you probably have some symbolism going on with Luella. She is a symbol that may stand for some kind of social institution or tradition. Freeman was a feminist. I think Luella might represent the old and traditional woman, shy and retiring, totally dependent on others, and already out of place in a pioneering America of the 19th century. Luella is the antithesis of the feminist ideal. She is dependent, thieving, destructive.

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