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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online

Scottish Ghost Stories


"The news that, for several years at any rate, George Street, Edinburgh, was haunted," wrote a correspondent of mine some short time ago, "might cause no little surprise to many of its inhabitants." And my friend proceeded to relate his experience of the haunting, which I will reproduce as nearly as possible in his own words. I quote from memory, having foolishly destroyed the letter.

* * * * *

I was walking in a leisurely way along George Street the other day, towards Strunalls, where I get my cigars, and had arrived opposite No. --, when I suddenly noticed, just ahead of me, a tall lady of remarkably graceful figure, clad in a costume which, even to an ignoramus in fashions like myself, seemed extraordinarily out of date. In my untechnical language it consisted of a dark blue coat and skirt, trimmed with black braid. The coat had a very high collar, turned over to show a facing of blue velvet, its sleeves were very full at the shoulders, and a band of blue velvet drew it tightly in at the waist. Moreover, unlike every other lady I saw, she wore a small hat, which I subsequently learned was a toque, with one white and one blue plume placed moderately high at the side. The only other conspicuous items of her dress, the effect of which was, on the whole, quiet, were white glacÚ gloves,--over which dangled gold curb bracelets with innumerable pendants,--shoes, which were of patent leather with silver buckles and rather high Louis heels, and fine, blue silk openwork stockings. So much for her dress. Now for her herself. She was a strikingly fair woman with very pale yellow hair and a startlingly white complexion; and this latter peculiarity so impressed me that I hastened my steps, determining to get a full view of her. Passing her with rapid strides, I looked back, and as I did so a cold chill ran through me,--what I looked at was--the face of the dead. I slowed down and allowed her to take the lead.

I now observed that, startling as she was, no one else seemed to notice her. One or two people obviously, though probably unconsciously, possessing the germs of psychism, shivered when they passed her, but as they neither slackened their pace nor turned to steal a second look, I concluded they had not seen her. Without glancing either to the right or left, she moved steadily on, past Molton's the confectioner's, past Perrin's the hatter's. Once, I thought she was coming to a halt, and that she intended crossing the road, but no--on, on, on, till we came to D---- Street. There we were preparing to cross over, when an elderly gentleman walked deliberately into her. I half expected to hear him apologise, but naturally nothing of the sort happened; she was only too obviously a phantom, and, in accordance with the nature of a phantom, she passed right through him. A few yards farther on, she came to an abrupt pause, and then, with a slight inclination of her head as if meaning me to follow, she glided into a chemist's shop. She was certainly not more than six feet ahead of me when she passed through the door, and I was even nearer than that to her when she suddenly disappeared as she stood before the counter. I asked the chemist if he could tell me anything about the lady who had just entered his shop, but he merely turned away and laughed.