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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


More Ghosts with a Purpose. Ticonderoga. The Beresford Ghost. Sources of Evidence. The Family Version. A New Old-Fashioned Ghost. Half-past One o'clock. Put out the Light!

The ghost in the following famous tale had a purpose. He was a Highland ghost, a Campbell, and desired vengeance on a Macniven, who murdered him. The ghost, practically, "cried Cruachan," and tried to rouse the clan. Failing in this, owing to Inverawe's loyalty to his oath, the ghost uttered a prophecy.

The tale is given in the words of Miss Elspeth Campbell, who collected it at Inverawe from a Highland narrator. She adds a curious supplementary tradition in the Argyle family.


It was one evening in the summer of the year 1755 that Campbell of Inverawe {157} was on Cruachan hill side. He was startled by seeing a man coming towards him at full speed; a man ragged, bleeding, and evidently suffering agonies of terror. "The avengers of blood are on my track, Oh, save me!" the poor wretch managed to gasp out. Inverawe, filled with pity for the miserable man, swore "By the word of an Inverawe which never failed friend or foe yet" to save him.

Inverawe then led the stranger to the secret cave on Cruachan hill side.

None knew of this cave but the laird of Inverawe himself, as the secret was most carefully kept and had been handed down from father to son for many generations. The entrance was small, and no one passing would for an instant suspect it to be other than a tod's hole, {158a} but within were fair-sized rooms, one containing a well of the purest spring water. It is said that Wallace and Bruce had made use of this cave in earlier days.

Here Inverawe left his guest. The man was so overcome by terror that he clung on to Inverawe's plaid, {158b} imploring him not to leave him alone. Inverawe was filled with disgust at this cowardly conduct, and already almost repented having plighted his word to save such a worthless creature.

On Inverawe's return home he found a man in a state of great excitement waiting to see him. This man informed him of the murder of his (Inverawe's) foster-brother by one Macniven. "We have," said he, "tracked the murderer to within a short distance of this place, and I am here to warn you in case he should seek your protection." Inverawe turned pale and remained silent, not knowing what answer to give. The man, knowing the love that subsisted between the foster-brothers, thought this silence arose from grief alone, and left the house to pursue the search for Macniven further.

The compassion Inverawe felt for the trembling man he had left in the cave turned to hate when he thought of his beloved foster-brother murdered; but as he had plighted his word to save him, save him he must and would. As soon, therefore, as night fell he went to the cave with food, and promised to return with more the next day.

Thoroughly worn out, as soon as he reached home he retired to rest, but sleep he could not. So taking up a book he began to read. A shadow fell across the page. He looked up and saw his foster-brother standing by the bedside. But, oh, how changed! His fair hair clotted with blood; his face pale and drawn, and his garments all gory. He uttered the following words: "Inverawe, shield not the murderer; blood must flow for blood," and then faded away out of sight.