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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


This encounter was after Davies left his men, before meeting the patrol, it being his intention to cross the hill and try for a shot at a stag.

The sergeant never rejoined his men or met the patrol! He vanished as if the fairies had taken him. His captain searched the hill with a band of men four days after the disappearance, but to no avail. Various rumours ran about the country, among others a clatter that Davies had been killed by Duncan Clerk and Alexander Bain Macdonald. But the body was undiscovered.

In June, one Alexander Macpherson came to Donald Farquharson, son of the man with whom Davies had been used to lodge. Macpherson (who was living in a sheiling or summer hut of shepherds on the hills) said that he "was greatly troubled by the ghost of Sergeant Davies, who insisted that he should bury his bones, and that, he having declined to bury them, the ghost insisted that he should apply to Donald Farquharson". Farquharson "could not believe this," till Macpherson invited him to come and see the bones. Then Farquharson went with the other, "as he thought it might possibly be true, and if it was, he did not know but the apparition might trouble himself".

The bones were found in a peat moss, about half a mile from the road taken by the patrols. There, too, lay the poor sergeant's mouse- coloured hair, with rags of his blue cloth and his brogues, without the silver buckles, and there did Farquharson and Macpherson bury them all.

Alexander Macpherson, in his evidence at the trial, declared that, late in May, 1750, "when he was in bed, a vision appeared to him as of a man clothed in blue, who said, '_I am Sergeant Davies_!'". At first Macpherson thought the figure was "a real living man," a brother of Donald Farquharson's. He therefore rose and followed his visitor to the door, where the ghost indicated the position of his bones, and said that Donald Farquharson would help to inter them. Macpherson next day found the bones, and spoke to Growar, the man of the tartan coat (as Growar admitted at the trial). Growar said if Macpherson did not hold his tongue, he himself would inform Shaw of Daldownie. Macpherson therefore went straight to Daldownie, who advised him to bury the bones privily, not to give the country a bad name for a rebel district. While Macpherson was in doubt, and had not yet spoken to Farquharson, the ghost revisited him at night and repeated his command. He also denounced his murderers, Clerk and Macdonald, which he had declined to do on his first appearance. He spoke in Gaelic, which, it seems, was a language not known by the sergeant.

Isobel MacHardie, in whose service Macpherson was, deponed that one night in summer, June, 1750, while she lay at one end of the sheiling (a hill hut for shepherds or neatherds) and Macpherson lay at the other, "she saw something naked come in at the door, which frighted her so much that she drew the clothes over her head. That when it appeared it came in in a bowing posture, and that next morning she asked Macpherson what it was that had troubled them in the night before. To which he answered that she might be easy, for it would not trouble them any more."

All this was in 1750, but Clerk and Macdonald were not arrested till September, 1753. They were then detained in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh on various charges, as of wearing the kilt, till June, 1754, when they were tried, Grant of Prestongrange prosecuting, aided by Haldane, Home and Dundas, while Lockhart and Mackintosh defended. It was proved that Clerk's wife wore Davies's ring, that Clerk, after the murder, had suddenly become relatively rich and taken a farm, and that the two men, armed, were on the hill near the scene of the murder on 28th September, 1749. Moreover, Angus Cameron swore that he saw the murder committed. His account of his position was curious. He and another Cameron, since dead, were skulking near sunset in a little hollow on the hill of Galcharn. There he had skulked all day, "waiting for Donald Cameron, _who was afterwards hanged_, together with some of the said Donald's companions from Lochaber". No doubt they were all honest men who had been "out," and they may well have been on Cluny's business of conveying gold from the Loch Arkaig hoard to Major Kennedy for the prince.