It was on a cold, calm Winter morning in December 1872 when
the barque the Dei Gratia spotted the Mary Celeste, and sparked off what must now be one
of the best known unsolved mysteries of our time. Unsolved that is until now! In the light
of new evidence I have uncovered, I can now reveal the true facts surrounding the mystery
of the Mary Celeste.
The brig Mary Celeste left New York with a cargo of alcohol,
bound for Gibraltar.
Several days out from port, she was hailed by a passing tramp
steamer, and drew alongside the ship. A party was sent aboard, and returned with two items
of cargo - one, an elderly Scotsman who went by the name of "Mad Dougal", and
the other a large square object, draped in tarpaulin.
Mad Dougal, it seems had decided to leave his native home of
Scotland, (or more to the point, had been requested to leave on account of his unique
ability to unerringly seek out, and consume large quantities of uisge beatha, without due
regard to requesting permission from their owners). He had since learned that his precious
stock of the water of life had dwindled into nothing, and began to regret his decision.
There wasn't much he could do however, being as how he was now well out of sight of land,
so he consoled himself with the company of his pets he had decided to bring with him.
Now, those of you who are reading this story will most
probably be wondering what those pets were - and many of you will have already guessed
exactly what they were. Aye, Mad Dougal had in fact committed a cardinal sin, and brought
a pair of haggis out of the country. Of course, no other crew members of the tramp knew
what they were - in fact no other crew members really had much idea what Dougal was (apart
from the fact his fare had been paid, of course), many of them thought he was in fact some
near relative of Rasputin, trying to escape to distant shores. All however did know of how
fondness for the uisge beatha, and were rapidly finding out he had the knack of locating
anything with even a trace of alcohol in it from one side of the ship to the other. The
result of this was the captain now found his crew on the verge of mutiny - all alcohol was
kept under lock, key and armed guard, and still Dougal managed to get at it.
Upon sighting the Mary Celeste, and persuading her to heave
to, he managed by means of large sums of money to persuade the captain to take Dougal and
the haggis back across the Atlantic with him, and soon, they were all safe on board.
Imagine Dougals surprise, nay the ecstasy, with which he greeted the sight of the cargo of
the Mary Celeste - alcohol! Now, it has been said that if a man drinks enough whisky, he
will live for ever, but no man has yet been able to drink enough whisky. Well, it wasn't
whisky , but Dougal was more than willing to give it a try, so off he went.
The Haggis by now were beginning to feel a little neglected,
and it transpired one of then was pregnant. You don't require me to describe what began to
happen (I have already told you in previous articles about the nature and habits of
pregnant haggis), suffice it to say that one morning, the crew awoke to such a wailing and
moaning they had never heard in their lives, and several of them immediately abandoned
ship. Those who were left managed to stuff wax into their ears, and so drown out the
terrible noise the Haggis were making, and of course Dougal was well incapable of hearing
anything by this time.
Now, there are more things in the ocean than you or I know
about, and the noise the Haggis were making finally reached the "ears" (for want
of a better word) of one of the denizens of the deep, (a distant relative of Nessie,
called Shamus, as it happened), who immediately surfaced to investigate. Upon seeing this
monster, the remainder of the crew panicked, and as one, threw themselves overboard,
leaving Dougal and the Haggis to their fate.
Now Dougal, having polished off a few jars of the cargo,
managed, with unerring accuracy to locate a bottle of 25 year old uisge beatha belonging
to the now departed captain of the Mary Celeste, and proceeded to consume that in no
uncertain manner. It is a well known fact that, after a few drinks, every true Scotsman
believes himself to be indestructible, and invincible. Dougal was no exception to this
rule, and upon staggering on to the deck, and being confronted by Shamus, he immediately
uttered that completely unintelligible phrase normally uttered by Scottish drunks just
before they stick the heid in, "Whit're you lookin' at Jimmy?", and gave the
monster a "Glasgow kiss". Shamus was not particularly used to this kind of
greeting, but in order to be sociable, he decided to reciprocate, and returned the nod to
Now, if you can imagine the state Dougal was in after being
heid butted by a twenty ton amphibious monster, you will begin to appreciate the scale of
the situation. Dougal was now "oot the box" - completely. Of course, Shamus
wondered what he'd done wrong - the subject of his greeting was lying prone on the deck of
the ship, so in an attempt to revive him, Shamus picked up Dougal, shook him, and tossed
him in the air. As a result of this, Dougal landed some five miles from the Mary Celeste,
and no longer plays any part in this tale.
Shamus, still hearing the droning and wailing of the haggis,
and recognising the sound, decided he had perhaps rescue them from their fate in the hold
of the ship, and steadying himself by grasping the bow of the brig with one claw, deftly
picked the haggis in their cage from the hold, and set off for the shores of Scotland to
return them to their rightful homeland. In his haste to return the haggis, the Mary
Celeste was forgotten about, and hence, days later, she was sighted by the Dei Gratia.
I know this story to be true, because it was told me by a
gentleman one evening in a pub after drinking a full bottle of uisge beatha, and it is a
well know fact a man who can drink that much, and still be understood, cannot lie.
(I would like to thank Janet Marsten, Edee Deeden and Louise
Norgaar for their help in inspiring the research leading up to this article).
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