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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online
CASE VII - "PEARLIN' JEAN" OF ALLANBANK
Few ghosts have obtained more notoriety than "Pearlin' Jean," the phantasm which for many years haunted Allanbank, a seat of the Stuarts.
The popular theory as to the identity of the apparition is as follows:--
Mr. Stuart, afterwards created first baronet of Allanbank, when on a tour in France, met a young and beautiful French Sister of Charity of the name of Jean, whom he induced to leave her convent. Tiring of her at length, Mr. Stuart brutally left her, and, returning abruptly to Scotland, became engaged to be married to a lady of his own nationality and position in life. But Jean was determined he should not escape her so easily. For him she had sacrificed everything: her old vocation in life was gone, she had no home, no honour,--nothing, so she resolved to leave no stone unturned to discover his whereabouts. At last her perseverance was rewarded, and, Fortune favouring her, she arrived without mishap at Allanbank.
The truth was then revealed to her: her cruel and faithless lover was about to be wedded to another. But despair gave her energy, and, burning with indignation, she hastened to his house to upbraid him. She reached the spot just as he was driving out with his fiancée. With a cry of anguish, Jean rushed forward and, swinging herself nimbly on to the fore-wheel of the coach, turned her white and passionate face towards its occupants. For a moment, Mr. Stuart was too dumbfounded to do anything; he could scarcely believe his senses. Who on earth was this frantic female? Good Heavens! Jean! Impossible! How on earth had she got there? And the tumultuous beating of his guilty heart turned him sick and faint.
Then he glanced fearfully and covertly at his fiancée. _She_ must not know the truth at any cost. Possibly he lost his head! At all events, that is the kindest construction to put on his subsequent action, for, dastardly as his behaviour had been to Jean in the past, one can hardly imagine him capable of deliberately murdering her, and in so horrible a fashion. There was not a second to lose; an instant more, and the secret, that he had so assiduously hidden from the lady beside him, would be revealed. Jean's mouth was already open to speak. He waved her aside. She adhered to her post. He shouted to the postilion, and the huge, lumbering vehicle was set in motion. At the first turn of the wheels, Jean slipped from her perch, her dress caught in the spokes, and she was crushed to death.
Her fate does not appear to have made any deep impression either on Mr. Stuart or his lady-love, for they continued their drive.
The hauntings began that autumn. Mr. Stuart, as was only fit and proper, being the first to witness the phenomenon. Returning home from a drive one evening, he perceived to his surprise the dark outlines of a human figure perched on the arched gateway of his house, exactly opposite the spot where Jean had perished. Wondering who it could be, he leaned forward to inspect it closer. The figure moved, an icy current of air ran through him, and he saw to his horror the livid countenance of the dead Jean. There she was, staring down at him with lurid, glassy eyes; her cheeks startlingly white, her hair fluttering in the wind, her neck and forehead bathed in blood.
Paralysed with terror, Mr. Stuart could not remove his gaze, and it was not until one of the menials opened the carriage door to assist him down, that the spell was broken and he was able to speak and move. He then flew into the house, and spent the rest of the night in the most abject fear.