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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online
CASE I - THE DEATH BOGLE OF THE CROSS ROADS, AND THE INEXTINGUISHABLE CANDLE OF THE OLD WHITE HOUSE, PITLOCHRY
And while these minute particulars were being driven into my soul, the cause of it all--the indefinable, esoteric column--stood silent and motionless over-against the hedge, a baleful glow emanating from it.
The horse suddenly broke the spell. Dashing its head forward, it broke off at a gallop, and, tearing frantically past the phantasm, went helter-skelter down the road to my left. I then saw Tammas turning a somersault, miraculously saved from falling head first on to the road, by rebounding from the pitchfork which had been wedged upright in the hay, whilst the figure, which followed in their wake with prodigious bounds, was apparently trying to get at him with its spidery arms. But whether it succeeded or not I cannot say, for I was so uncontrollably fearful lest it should return to me, that I mounted my bicycle and rode as I had never ridden before and have never ridden since.
I described the incident to Miss Macdonald on my return. She looked very serious.
"It was stupid of me not to have warned you," she said. "That that particular spot in the road has always--at least ever since I can remember--borne the reputation of being haunted. None of the peasants round here will venture within a mile of it after twilight, so the carters you saw must have been strangers. No one has ever seen the ghost except in the misty form in which it appeared to you. It does not frequent the place every night; it only appears periodically; and its method never varies. It leaps over a wall or hedge, remains stationary till some one approaches, and then pursues them with monstrous springs. The person it touches invariably dies within a year. I well recollect when I was in my teens, on just such a night as this, driving home with my father from Lady Colin Ferner's croquet party at Blair Atholl. When we got to the spot you name, the horse shied, and before I could realise what had happened, we were racing home at a terrific pace. My father and I sat in front, and the groom, a Highland boy from the valley of Ben-y-gloe, behind. Never having seen my father frightened, his agitation now alarmed me horribly, and the more so as my instinct told me it was caused by something other than the mere bolting of the horse. I was soon enlightened. A gigantic figure, with leaps and bounds, suddenly overtook us, and, thrusting out its long, thin arms, touched my father lightly on the hand, and then with a harsh cry, more like that of some strange animal than that of a human being, disappeared. Neither of us spoke till we reached home,--I did not live here then, but in a house on the other side of Pitlochry,--when my father, who was still as white as a sheet, took me aside and whispered, 'Whatever you do, Flora, don't breathe a word of what has happened to your mother, and never let her go along that road at night. It was the death bogle. I shall die within twelve months.' And he did."
Miss Macdonald paused. A brief silence ensued, and she then went on with all her customary briskness: "I cannot describe the thing any more than you can, except that it gave me the impression it had no eyes. But what it was, whether the ghost of a man, woman, or some peculiar beast, I could not, for the life of me, tell. Now, Mr. O'Donnell, have you had enough horrors for one evening, or would you like to hear just one more?"