THE LEGEND OF MATILDA DIXON

The town of Darkness Falls was established in the early 1800's and has a proud history as a busy fishing village. But there is also a blemish on the town's past. Time and selective memory have helped to bury it, but never for very long, because the legend of Matilda Dixon has developed a life of its own.

More than 150 years ago, an old woman named Matilda Dixon lived alone in a small house at the edge of the woods, close to Darkness Falls' historic lighthouse. Matilda and her late husband were among the towns first settlers, coming over with other fisherman who made their living from the whaling industry. Before her husband died in a tragic fishing accident, Matilda had been an outgoing, amiable member of the community, taking care of the neighborhood children and baking sweet treats for them. Even after she became a recluse, many of the kids still stopped by for cakes and biscuits, which was a great comfort to her. As payment, the children gave her their baby teeth. (She said the teeth reminded her of the scrimshaw carvings her husband had made during his whaling days). And thats how she earned the nickname, "the Tooth Fairy."

But poor Matilda seemed to be cursed. One night, while she was sleeping, a fire in her stove raged out of control. By the time the townspeople came to her rescue, the fire was out. But Matilda refused to come to the door or accept their assistance. From then on she ceased all contact with the outside world. Still, from time to time, she would leave gifts at the doorsteps of childrens houses, usually small change, since she had stopped baking. Matilda would wander the streets only under the cover of night, her face hidden behind a white porcelain mask, and look for houses where children had left their baby teeth in a handkerchief tacked to the front door. The citizens of Darkness Falls were touched by her acts of kindness and moved to pity by the tragedies that had befallen her.

One horrible night, that all changed. And the name of Matilda Dixon became synonymous with acts too unspeakable to mention.

One afternoon in 1841, two young children told their parents that they were off to visit "the Tooth Fairy." When they failed to return home, suspicion immediately fell on Matilda. The official search party quickly turned into an angry mob, thirsty for revenge. Armed with torches and a rope, they raced up the twisting road toward Matildas house.

Matilda bolted her door as the mob began hurling rocks at the house and screaming for her to come out. In an anguished, confused voice, she proclaimed her innocence, but it was no use. Half a dozen men broke down the door and dragged Matilda out, knocking over a huge jar and spilling hundreds of baby teeth across the floor.

Matilda covered her face with the porcelain mask and cried out for mercy. Though she begged them not to peek, two men pried the mask away from her face and smashed it on the ground. The men gasped, and some became ill, when they saw what was behind the mask a once kind face now burned beyond recognition and contorted by pain and anguish. No one who was there ever forgot what he saw, though they never spoke about it, except to cry out in the middle of a nightmare.

Matilda was hanged and suffered terribly before she died, kicking and flailing. When there was finally no breath left in her body, they torched it and, to ease their consciences, agreed that what they had done was an act of justice.

As they looked up at the strangled, charred body, there were shouts in the distance. The rest of the towns inhabitants were running up the winding road toward them, stopping dead in their tracks at the sight of the poor old womans dangling corpse. The crowd parted and there were the two lost children, who had simply lost their way, wandered too deep into the woods, and fallen asleep.

The citizens of Darkness Falls were stunned into silence. So great was their shame, that no one in town ever mentioned the incident again. Yet, somehow, the story got out and was passed down from generation to generation, until the events of that fateful night in 1841, became as distorted and tortured as the pitiful body of Matilda Dixon, swinging from the branch of that old oak tree, her burnt nightgown flapping in the wind.

(This was found at the following web site: http://movieweb.com/movie/darknessfalls/prod.html )






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