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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online

Scottish Ghost Stories


The following experience of a haunting is that of Mr. Scarfe, who told it me some few summers ago, expressing at the same time great eagerness to accompany me on some of my investigations.

I append it as nearly as possible in his own words:--

I was spending Easter, he began, with some friends of mine in Aberdeen, and, learning from them that there was a haunted house in the immediate vicinity of the Great Western Road, I begged them to try and get me permission to spend a night in it. As good luck would have it, the landlord happened to be a connection of theirs, and although at first rather reluctant to give me leave, lest by doing so he should create a precedent, and, consequently, be pestered to death by people whom he knew to be as anxious as I was to see the ghost, he eventually yielded; and, the following evening at 8 p.m., accompanied only by my dog, Scott, I entered the premises.

I cannot say I felt very comfortable when the door slammed behind me, and I found myself standing alone in a cold, dark passage out of which rose a gloomy staircase, suggestive of all sorts of uncanny possibilities. However, overcoming these nervous apprehensions as best I could, I began a thorough search of the premises, to make sure that no one was hiding there.

Descending first of all into the basement, I explored the kitchen, scullery, larder, and other domestic offices. The place fairly reeked with damp, but this was not to be wondered at, taking in consideration the fact, that the soil was clay, the floor of the very poorest quality of cement, cracked and broken in a dozen and one places, and that there had been no fires in any of the rooms for many months. Here and there in the darkest corners were clusters of ugly cockroaches, whilst more than one monstrous rat scampered away on my approach. My dog, or rather the dog that was lent me, and which went by the name of Scott, kept close at my heel, showing no very great enthusiasm in his mission, and giving even the rodents as wide a berth as possible.

I invariably trust to my psychic faculty (as you know, Mr. O'Donnell, some people are born with the faculty) to enable me to detect the presence of the superphysical. I generally feel the latter incorporated in some inexplicable manner in the ether, or see it inextricably interwoven with the shadows.

Here in the basement it was everywhere--the air was simply saturated with it, and, as the fading sunlight called shadow after shadow into existence, it confronted me enigmatically whichever way I turned.

I went upstairs, and the presence followed me. In one or two of the top bedrooms--more particularly in a tiny garret overlooking the back-yard--the Presence seemed inclined to hover. For some seconds I waited there, in order to see if there would be any further development; there being none--I obeyed the mandates of a sudden impulse and made my way once more to the basement. On arriving at the top of the kitchen stairs, Scott showed a decided disinclination to descend farther. Crouching down, he whined piteously, and when I attempted to grasp him by the collar, snarled in a most savage manner. Consequently, thinking it better to have no companion at all than one so unwilling, I descended without him.

The stairs terminated in a very dark and narrow passage, into which the doors of the kitchen, larder, store room, etc., opened respectively, and at the farther extremity of which was a doorway leading to the back-yard. The superphysical Presence seeming to be more pronounced in this passage than anywhere else, I decided to spend the night in it, and, selecting a spot opposite the entrance to the scullery, I constructed a seat out of two of the drawers of the kitchen dresser, by placing them, one on the other, bottom uppermost on the floor.