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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online

Scottish Ghost Stories


In this unnerved and pitiable condition I felt that the period was bound to come, sooner or later, when I should have to abandon life and reason together in the most desperate of struggles with--fear.

At length, something moved. An icy chill ran through my frame, and the horror of my anticipations immediately reached its culminating point. The Presence was about to reveal itself.

The gentle rubbing of a soft body on the floor, the crack of a bony joint, breathing, another crack, and then--was it my own excited imagination--or the disturbing influence of the atmosphere--or the uncertain twilight of the chamber that produced before me, in the stygian darkness of the recess, the vacillating and indistinct outline of something luminous, and horrid? I would gladly have risked futurity to have looked elsewhere--I could not. My eyes were fixed--I was compelled to gaze steadily in front of me.

Slowly, very slowly, the thing, whatever it was, took shape. Legs--crooked, misshapen, human legs. A body--tawny and hunched. Arms--long and spidery, with crooked, knotted fingers. A head--large and bestial, and covered with a tangled mass of grey hair that hung around its protruding forehead and pointed ears in ghastly mockery of curls. A face--and herein was the realisation of all my direst expectations--a face--white and staring, piglike in formation, malevolent in expression; a hellish combination of all things foul and animal, and yet withal not without a touch of pathos.

As I stared at it aghast, it reared itself on its haunches after the manner of an ape, and leered piteously at me. Then, shuffling forward, it rolled over, and lay sprawled out like some ungainly turtle--and wallowed, as for warmth, in the cold grey beams of early dawn.

At this juncture the handle of the chamber door turned, some one entered, there was a loud cry--and I awoke--awoke to find the whole tower, walls and rafters, ringing with the most appalling screams I have ever heard,--screams of some thing or of some one--for there was in them a strong element of what was human as well as animal--in the greatest distress.

Wondering what it meant, and more than ever terrified, I sat up in bed and listened,--listened whilst a conviction--the result of intuition, suggestion, or what you will, but a conviction all the same--forced me to associate the sounds with the thing in my dream. And I associate them still.

* * * * *

It was, I think, in the same year--in the year that the foregoing account was narrated to me--that I heard another story of the hauntings at Glamis, a story in connection with a lady whom I will call Miss Macginney. I append her experience as nearly as possible as she is stated to have told it.

* * * * *

I seldom talk about my adventure, Miss Maginney announced, because so many people ridicule the superphysical, and laugh at the mere mention of ghosts. I own I did the same myself till I stayed at Glamis; but a week there quite cured me of scepticism, and I came away a confirmed believer.

The incident occurred nearly twenty years ago--shortly after my return from India, where my father was then stationed.

It was years since I had been to Scotland, indeed I had only once crossed the border and that when I was a babe; consequently I was delighted to receive an invitation to spend a few weeks in the land of my birth. I went to Edinburgh first--I was born in Drumsheugh Gardens--and thence to Glamis.