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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online
CASE XVII - GLAMIS CASTLE
The blow was repeated; the cry that rose in the victim's throat was converted into an abortive gurgling groan; and I heard the ponderous battle-axe carve its way through helmet, bone, and brain. A moment later came the sound of slithering armour; and the corpse, slipping sideways, toppled to the ground with a sonorous clang.
A silence too awful for words now ensued. Having finished his hideous handiwork, the murderer was quietly deliberating what to do next; whilst my dread of attracting his attention was so great that I scarcely dare breathe. This intolerable state of things had already lasted for what seemed to me a lifetime, when, glancing involuntarily at the floor, I saw a stream of dark-looking fluid lazily lapping its way to me from the direction of the door. Another moment and it would reach my shoes. In my dismay I shrieked aloud. There was a sudden stir without, a significant clatter of steel, and the next moment--despite the fact that it was locked--the door slowly opened. The limits of my endurance had now happily been reached, the over-taxed valves of my heart could stand no more--I fainted. On my awakening to consciousness it was morning, and the welcome sun rays revealed no evidences of the distressing drama. I own I had a hard tussle before I could make up my mind to spend another night in that room; and my feelings as I shut the door on my retreating maid, and prepared to get into bed, were not the most enviable. But nothing happened, nor did I again experience anything of the sort till the evening before I left. I had lain down all the afternoon--for I was tired after a long morning's tramp on the moors, a thing I dearly love--and I was thinking it was about time to get up, when a dark shadow suddenly fell across my face.
I looked up hastily, and there, standing by my bedside and bending over me, was a gigantic figure in bright armour.
Its visor was up, and what I saw within the casque is stamped for ever on my memory. It was the face of the dead--the long since dead--with the expression--the subtly hellish expression--of the living. As I gazed helplessly at it, it bent lower. I threw up my hands to ward it off. There was a loud rap at the door. And as my maid softly entered to tell me tea was ready--it vanished.
* * * * *
The third account of the Glamis hauntings was told me as long ago as the summer of 1893. I was travelling by rail from Perth to Glasgow, and the only other occupant of my compartment was an elderly gentleman, who, from his general air and appearance, might have been a dominie, or member of some other learned profession. I can see him in my mind's eye now--a tall, thin man with a premature stoop. He had white hair, which was brushed forward on either side of his head in such a manner as suggested a wig; bushy eyebrows; dark, piercing eyes; and a stern, though somewhat sad, mouth. His features were fine and scholarly; he was clean-shaven. There was something about him--something that marked him from the general horde--something that attracted me, and I began chatting with him soon after we left Perth.
In the course of a conversation, that was at all events interesting to me, I adroitly managed to introduce the subject of ghosts--then, as ever, uppermost in my thoughts.