An old woman of Sexhow called Nanny, appeared after her death in a dream to a local farmer. She informed the farmer that, beneath a certain tree in his apple orchard, he would find a hoard of gold and silver which she had buried there. He was to take a spade and dig it up, she told him that he could keep the silver for his trouble but was to give the gold to a niece of hers who was then living in great poverty.
At daybreak, after his dream, the farmer went to the spot that the old woman had described where dug and found the treasure. Now, despite his share being more than enough to look after him for the rest of his days, he decided to keep the whole hoard for himself. This was an act of greed that he would live to regret, as from that day forward he never knew rest or happiness again.
Every night, whether at home or abroad, old Nanny’s ghost visited him, reproaching him for his greed and his failure to help Nanny’s niece.Though previously a sober man, the farmer took to drinking, but all in vain as his conscience and Nanny’s ghost would give him no rest.
At last, late one Saturday evening, the farmers neighbours heard him returning home from Stokesley Market; his horse was galloping furiously, and as he left the high road to go into the lane which led to his farm he never stopped to open the gate but cleared it with a single bound. As he passed a neighbour’s house, they heard him screaming out, ” I will I will I will ! ” and when they looked out they saw a little old woman in black, with a large straw hat on her head, whom they recognised as old Nannie, she was seated behind the terrified man on the runaway horse, clinging to him closely. The farmer’s hat was off, his hair stood on end, as he fled past them, uttering his fearful cry, ” I will I will I will ! ” But when the horse reached the farm all was still, and the rider… a corpse!
Image Albert Edward Sterner [Public domain]