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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


"'Your courage has indeed been shaken out of you,' said Thorgaut, 'but I am not going to fall dead for such talk.'

"The winter went on till Christmas came again, and on Christmas eve the shepherd went out to his sheep. 'I trust,' said the good-wife, 'that things will not go after the old fashion.'

"'Have no fear of that, good-wife,' said Thorgaut; 'there will be something worth talking about if I don't come back.'

"The weather was very cold, and a heavy drift blowing. Thorgaut was in the habit of coming home when it was half-dark, but on this occasion he did not return at his usual time. People came to church, and they now began to think that things were not unlikely to fall out as they had done before. Thorhall wished to make search for the shepherd, but the church-goers refused, saying that they would not risk themselves in the hands of evil demons by night, and so no search was made.

"After their morning meal on Christmas day they went out to look for the shepherd. They first made their way to Glam's cairn, guessing that he was the cause of the man's disappearance. On coming near to this they saw great tidings, for there they found the shepherd with his neck broken and every bone in his body smashed in pieces. They carried him to the church, and he did no harm to any man thereafter. But Glam began to gather strength anew, and now went so far in his mischief that every one fled from Thorhall-stead, except the yeoman and his wife.

"The same cattleman, however, had been there for a long time, and Thorhall would not let him leave, because he was so faithful and so careful. He was very old, and did not want to go away either, for he saw that everything his master had would go to wreck and ruin, if there was no one to look after it.

"One morning after the middle of winter the good-wife went out to the byre to milk the cows. It was broad daylight by this time, for no one ventured to be outside earlier than that, except the cattleman, who always went out when it began to grow clear. She heard a great noise and fearful bellowing in the byre, and ran into the house again, crying out and saying that some awful thing was going on there. Thorhall went out to the cattle and found them goring each other with their horns. To get out of their way, he went through into the barn, and in doing this he saw the cattleman lying on his back with his head in one stall and his feet in another. He went up to him and felt him and soon found that he was dead, with his back broken over the upright stone between two of the stalls.

"The yeoman thought it high time to leave the place now, and fled from his farm with all that he could remove. All the live-stock that he left behind was killed by Glam, who then went through the whole glen and laid waste all the farms up from Tongue.

"Thorhall spent the rest of the winter with various friends. No one could go up into the glen with horse or dog, for these were killed at once; but when spring came again and the days began to lengthen, Glam's walkings grew less frequent, and Thorhall determined to return to his homestead. He had difficulty in getting servants, but managed to set up his home again at Thorhall-stead. Things went just as before. When autumn came, the hauntings began again, and now it was the yeoman's daughter who was most assailed, till in the end she died of fright. Many plans were tried, but all to no effect, and it seemed as if all Water-dale would be laid waste unless some remedy could be found.