The Fearless Girl is a scary story for kids about a young girl who takes on a bet to retrieve a skull from the dead house at night. It is based on an old English folktale called “The Dauntless Girl”, “The Girl who was Frightened of Nothing” or “Fearless Mary”. A version of this story appeared in the August House Book of Scary Stories.
There was a girl named Mary who wasn’t afraid of anything. Everyone who knew her called her “Fearless Mary”. Her father was a farmer and she worked for him, doing chores around the house.
One dark and windy night, her father was drinking with a few of his friends, the blacksmith and the village grave digger. Before long, they ran out of alcohol and asked Mary go down to the local pub and buy another bottle.
“You can’t send that little slip of a girl out on a night like this,” said one of the men. “She’ll be too frightened.”
“My daughter isn’t afraid of anything in this world, living or dead,” her father said. “Isn’t that right, Mary?”
“That’s right,” Mary replied as she put on her coat and ventured out into the dark night.
Half an hour later, she came back with the bottle. The men opened it and had another few drinks. After a while, her father took out some money and slapped it down on the table.
“I bet you can’t come up with a task that Mary won’t do,” he said.
“I know something she won’t do,” said the blacksmith. “I bet she won’t go down to the cemetery and go into the dead house and bring us back a skull bone.”
“All right,” said the farmer. “You’re on!”
He called Mary out of the kitchen and told her about the bet and what they wanted her to do. Without a word, Mary put on her coat and went ventured out into the dark night again.
It was cold and dark and the wind was rattling the trees. She walked down the long and winding lane that led to the churchyard. She opened the cemetery gate and made her way to the dead house. She skipped down the stone steps and pushed the heavy wooden door. It opened with a loud creak and Mary stepped inside.
As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she was able to make out her surroundings. The whole room stank of earth and mold and death. It was allso full of bones… Arm bones, leg bones, shin bones, shoulder bones, hip bones, spine bones, finger bones and skull bones. They were strewn across the floor, stacked on shelves and piled high against the walls.
Mary made her way into the middle of the room, carefully stepping over the bones. She strained her ears to listen, but all she could hear was the echo of her own footsteps in the eerie silence. She bent down to pick up one of the grinning skulls.
All of a sudden, she heard a disembodied voice say, “Leave that alone. That’s my mother’s skull bone.”
Mary stopped and looked around, but she couldn’t see anyone. She bent down to pick up a different skull, but she heard the voice say, “Leave that alone. That’s my father’s skull bone.”
Mary put the skull down and picked up yet another one. She heard the voice say, “Leave that alone. That’s my…”
Mary shouted, “Father or mother, sister or brother, I must have a skull bone and that’s all there is to it!”
Then, she grabbed a skull and walked out of the dead house, slamming the door behind her. She turned the key in the lock, but as she was leaving, she heard something or someone banging on the door and screaming and screeching and making an awful racket.
Clutching the skull tightly to her chest, the young girl hurried up the stone steps, back through the cemetery gates, up the long and winding road and back up to her father’s farm.
When she reached home, Mary plonked the skull down on the table in front of her father and the blacksmith and said, “There’s your skull bone!”
The two men all stared at her in amazement. The grave digger was nowhere to be seen.
“Wait a minute!” said her father’s friend, grinning and shivering at the same time. “Didn’t you hear anything in the dead house, Mary?”
“Yes,” she replied. “Some fool of a ghost called out to me and said: ‘Let that be! That’s my mother’s skull bone’ and ‘Let that be! That’s my father’s skull bone.’ But I told him straight; ‘Father or mother. sister or brother. I must have a skull bone, so I took one and there it is.”
She looked at the surprised faces of the two men in the flickering firelight.
“What happened then?” her father asked.
“As I was going away, I locked the door behind me,” she said. “I heard the stupid ghost screaming and screeching and hollering like a mad thing…”
The blacksmith and the miller looked at each other and got to their feet.
“That was the grave digger, Mary,” her father said. “He wanted to win the bet, so he went down to the churchyard and hid in the dead house to give you a scare. He must have been scared out of his wits when you him in all alone with the bones.”
They all raced down to the churchyard and rushed through the cemetery gates. When they came to the dead house, they jumped down the steps, unlocked the door to the dead house and peered inside.
Unfortunately, they were too late. They found the grave digger lying on the ground, surrounded by bones. He was stone dead and there was a look of horror on his face.
“That’s what comes of hying to frighten a poor young girl,” said the farmer, shaking his head sadly.
So Mary’s father had won the bet and the blacksmith handed over the money. When she saw this, Mary snatched the money out of her father’s hand.
“I’m the one who fetched the skull, so that money is mine by rights,” she said.
Her father didn’t dare to argue with her.
Soon, the story about Mary and the dead house spread around the area. Everyone was aware of her bravery and her daring and her fame spread for miles and miles around.