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Reminiscences and Reflections of an Octogenarian Highlander Chapter I. - Early Days


I WAS born at Kerrumore in Glenlyon, where my father was a farmer, on the morning of the ninth of February, 1828, when a snowstorm was raging so fiercely that Dr Macarthur and my uncle Archibald, who had been sent for him, had, with their horses, some difficulty in crossing Larig-an-Lochain from Killin. My memory of local occurrences and of self-mental impressions becomes continuous and tenacious at five years of age, when I could read the Gospel narrative fluently in English, which to us Glen children was much like a foreign language, and more haltingly in the Gaelic vernacular because of its system of spelling and the many dead letters thereby entailed. At six I could pass, after sunset and in the darkness of night, St Bran's old church-yard near our house, without, as I often did before, using the Lord's Prayer or bits of psalms and hymns as a protection against ghosts. I had also long before this ceased to speculate on the possibility of reaching a hand to the stars when they seemed to crowd down on the sharp ridge of the opposite hill and to hide themselves behind it. Having been once taken up the side-glen to the shealings and allowed to remain there for some time, I widened my knowledge and got rid of much infantile awe of the wonders of my expanding world, by wandering away to a mountain top from which I had a wide view, and where I found the sky was as far above my head as it was down on the banks of the Lyon. Out of the dim mists of childish recollection an event which took place when I was about three years of age flashes out in vivid light. At Moar farm house some miles further up the glen, died, at an advanced age, my grandmother's aunt. The farm house was on one side of the river and the highroad on the other. It was intended to take the coffin across the river to the highroad, and so to get to the Bridge of Balgie, which was then the only bridge on the thirty miles course of the Lyon, and was quite near to the church-yard. But this could not be done as the river was in flood and a great storm was still raging. So the funeral had to come by a rough and scarcely perceptible footpath, through one of the best marked self-sown remnants of the primitive Caledonian forest that still remain. My grand-mother and I were on a bench at the end of the house waiting for it we were generally a league of two against the world and when the funeral came in sight a flash of lightning seemed to dance on the wet mort-cloth and to envelope the whole procession. The thunder peal which followed caused the echoes of the many rocks and hills to reverberate like the firing-off of a succession of big gun batteries. No doubt it was the lightning and thunder which permanently stamped the memory of this funeral on my mind.

As late as about 1780, a Glenlyon woman, Elgin Menzies, wife of Duncan Macnaughton, Cashlie, who died with her infant in childbed, Avas supposed to have been taken away by the fairies, and the story ran that she had been seen in dreams and heard to moan in hope of rescue from the three fairy mounds Tom-a-churain, Tom-a-chorain, and Tom-na-glaice-moire, among which she was shifted about and kept imprisoned. But before my birth, religious teaching had banished the poor fairies from their mounds, although many stories concerning them and mountain hags, kelpies and brownies, were still told round firesides and smearing tubs. Witchcraft was not much spoken of, nor much thought of, although it had not been so outrightly denounced from the pulpit as the fairies. Belief in ghosts was very general, and deemed, from the religious point of view, as orthodox as belief in good and evil spirits, and their intervention in human affairs. Nature with manifold mystic influences keeps her hold on the rural population everywhere, but this hold is particularly strong in mountain lands, lonely isles, and countries which have wide deserts. Nature and God himself can be disregarded by urban masses of people; but it is otherwise in rural districts. Even on the plains of East Anglia and the flats of Holland, people are influenced by forces and sensations which cannot be accounted for by visible and material causes. Whatever be the reason, Highlanders are deeply laid under this spell of nature influences and scenery environment. This fact is apparent enough in their poetry and traditional stories. It takes a pathetic form in their undying love for the place where they were born, or where in former days their ancestors lived, which is cherished by emigrants in the colonies and foreign lands, and by their children and children's children for "Caledonia stern and wild." But it is just in the stern and wild countries in which man, through contact and combat with nature in her various moods, lets his imagination fly on wings of poetry and romance, and is inspired by a patriotism that does not take a worldly account of the material advantages enjoyed by the inhabitants of more fertile if more prosaic lands.

To revert to this Highland belief in ghosts in the days of my youth, it is to be noted that although it was orthodox and very general, it was by no means universal. The sceptics were very numerous. I was one of them myself when I came to anything like years of discretion. The childish fear which made me resort for protection against danger when passing the churchyard alone after sunset, or in the night, was largely due to two things which deeply impressed me. The scare caused by the Burke and Hare case sent such an after-fear into the Highlands that, among others, our churchyard was watched for weeks after every funeral because of the body-snatchers. The key of the churchyard was always kept in our house, and the watcher, with loaded gun, used to come for it. So I heard many resurrectionist stories which frightened me much worse than the usual run of ghost stories. The other frightening thing was the burial outside the church-yard of a poor woman of very good character, who, in middle-age melancholic madness, had hanged herself to a beam behind the barred door of her cottage. The Glen people followed Niven, or Macniven, their priest, who joined the Knoxian Reformation at its early stage, and took to himself a wife. Since 1688 they had been, with few exceptions, staunch Presbyterians, and when this poor woman committed suicide, they had ultra- Protestant religious views. Yet when startled by this most unusual event of a suicide, they agreed, in council hastily assembled, to fall back upon the traditional Roman Catholic practice of burial of suicides by night outside consecrated ground. This was the chief but not the only thing in which they unconsciously retained remnants of the superseded faith. In speaking of dead people they generally added, "Math gu 'n robh aige." "Sith gu 'n d' fhuair anam," that is to say, they prayed that all should be well with the dead man, and that his soul should have peace.

When twelve or thirteen years of age, I passed, one wintry night, through an experience which much increased my want of belief in the general rank and file of ghost stories. On that night when I went to bed, my grandmother seemed to be in her usual state of health, which was a good one for a person of her advanced years. I was roused out of sleep some hours later by my father, who came to my bedside with a lighted candle in hand, to tell me that my grandmother had been seized with a bleeding of the nose, which the means commonly used in such cases failed to stop. He bade me rise at once to go for her married daughters, who lived a mile away. I had to pass the churchyard, and was full of death-apprehension. The moon was shining dimly through a hoar-frost haze. In passing the churchyard gate I had no thought of ghosts, but I shuddered at the idea that it was only too likely my grandmother would have to be buried in kindred dust in that dreadfully cold weather. The cold added to my horror, although it could not be anything to the dead. I had not gone out of sight of the churchyard before I thought I was haunted by the ghostly head of an old woman which was not attached to any appearance of body. The horrid thing kept quite close to the right side of my face, always holding the same position whether I ran, turned, or stopped. The cold sweat of fear broke out on me from head to foot. In sheer desperation I put up my hand, and lo! I caught my ghost. The ribbon of my Glengarry bonnet had happened to get pinched forward behind my ear, and the indented end of it, covered by my breath, had frozen white, and seen close at hand from the tail of one eye, had assumed the appearance of this ghostly head of an old woman with a weird gap between a big nose and a prominent chin.

Many years after I had caught this ghost of mine, I gathered a large batch of stories of the supernatural then current in the Highlands of Perthshire, and found, when they were classified, that most of them were stories of wraiths and second sight, and the few which purported to concern returned spirits of the dead were not nearly so well vouched for as the others. There was one Balquidder story which did not seem to belong to either class. It made much local stir in its day, and the unexplainable manifestations were, I was told, witnessed in open daylight by many astonished observers, who gathered from various parts of the district to see articles of furniture thrown about without any visible agency, potatoes thrown out of a creel at the burnside without hands, rhyme, or reason, thatch from the roof tossed off' without a breath of wind, and other singular performances which could only be ascribed to a tricksy Puck, full of mischievous fun spiced with a generous dose of malice. "Riochdan," or wraiths, which meant visible semblances of living persons where their bodies were not, had some similarity to Marconi's wireless telegraphy, but went a long step beyond it. The theory was that when a person strongly wished to be in another place he could throw a visible semblance of himself there. Concentration of a strong will under the impulse of an overmastering desire was required to effect the miracle of projection. Such a wonder-working concentration of will was held to be uncanny, and unholy even when the impulse under which it took place was blameless or even genuinely good. So double-gangers were held in some suspicion. But the second-sight people saw the wraiths of people who had no wish what- ever to be elsewhere than where they were, and who had not the faintest sub-conscious idea that their semblances were stravaging.

This leads me to speak of Mairi Mhor, who had been for nearly all her life a fixture in our house, and who was the last of the Glenlyon second-sighters. A very sorrowful lad of eleven or twelve I was on the stormy wintry day on which Mairi's head was laid in the grave. The custom was that clansmen should have the first and last "togail," or lifting of the dead, and that the coffin should be brought "sunwise" up to the grave. At Mairi's funeral my father held the coffin's head-string as chief mourner and I held the foot one, while four of our clansmen had the first and last liftings. When the strings were thrown in on the coffin and the first spadefuls of mould fell on it, making a hollow sound, I should have liked to have a good cry. But as I thought crying unmanly, I restrained, with an effort, the choking sensation in my throat. Hundreds of times had I made Mairi sing the milking song of "Crodh Chailein," "Macgregor from Roro," and other favourite pieces of Gaelic poetry, some of which survive in printed books, and some of which have undeservedly perished because not collected in due time. The musical gift, which Mairi most liberally possessed, was not bestowed upon me, but for all that I was ardently fond of Gaelic poetry and tales of ancient days. It was my great-grandfather who brought Mairi into our family. A niece of his who was married to a distant kinsman died, leaving four or five young children. The bereaved father of these children was then in much worse circumstances than he was later on when he went down to Callander and married, for his second wife, a Stewart lass from Glenbuckie. In a way common in the Highlands the kinsfolk came to the poor widower's aid and relieved him of some of his children. My great-grandfather took Mairi, then seven years old, to our house, and there she remained until she died more than fifty years afterwards. She had her first vision in the hill near a reputed fairy mound, and she always thought it was a vision of the fairies, although the shapes she saw were of grey-clothed men and not of green-robed beautiful little ladies. She was willing enough to be persuaded that she had on that occasion slept and dreamed, for she looked on second-sight as a frightful affliction which she was afraid of having inherited from her grand-father, Iain Dubh, the Laird of Culdare's caretaker of woods and castle-lands. My great-grandfather, who was this Dark John's elder brother, besides being a farmer, was the "Maor," or land-steward. So was his father, Finlay, before him, and so was my grandfather in succession to him, until long after the division of the barony. I do not know how long the maorship had passed from father to son, but I believe the passing was continuous for at least two centuries, although ownership had in that period twice changed. The Finlay above mentioned and his cousin, Finlay Macnaughton, were soldiers for a period of years during the reign of Queen Anne, and when in garrison at Fort-William, they became acquainted with twin sisters, Anne and Janet, daughters of Dark John Maciver, in the Braes of Lochaber, whom they afterwards married. Dark John Campbell was named after his Lochaber grand-father, and perhaps it was from that quarter his seership came to him. He was the only one of his father's family who had that troublesome gift. Dark John knew all the secrets of his cunning laird, James Menzies of Culdares, and guarded them with grim fidelity. Culdares was out in 1715, and he arid his Glenlyon followers were captured at Preston. His men were sent as seven years' bondsmen to Maryland, but by virtue of powerful influence and looks which were much more youthful than his years, he himself got off with a short exile on the Continent, whence he returned to the Highlands with larch plants in his valise the first ever seen or planted in this country. As an estate improver, planter of trees, and promoter of good farming, high credit is due to James Menzies, who, after his son and heir grew up, came to be commonly called Old Culdares. He and his hench- man, Dark John, remained at home during the rebellion of 1745. But he sent a gift horse to Prince Charlie by John Macnaughton, who was afterwards tried and executed at Carlisle for killing Colonel Gardiner, when he was lying wounded at Prestonpans. The report of the trial does not support the popular surmise that John Macnaughton could have saved his life by informing against the sender of the gift-horse. But no doubt Old Culdares had a bad time of it while the case was pending. He was too artful to commit any act of overt rebellion after his narrow escape thirty years before. But he was quite content that Cluny and his men should force out the men on his estate, as they had forced out Sir Robert Menzies' men down the water. The Glenlyon men refused to rise unless their laird put himself at their head. The laird declined to lead them, but he used underhand methods to get them to follow a youth of eighteen, Archibald, youngest son of John Campbell, styled of Glenlyon, who did not, at this time, possess a foot of land in Glenlyon, although he owned Fortingall. With this youth was joined an older man, Duncan Campbell, son of Duneaves, who then had the farm of Milton-Eonan on Culdares' estate. But it was to the youth and the old rebel, his father, that the men of the Glen looked as their "duchas," or natural hereditary leaders. Those among the men of the Glen who did not sympathise with the rebellion joined Lord Glenorchy's regiment on the other side.

Old Culdares anticipated the Disarming Act, on hearing of the Culloden defeat, by at once causing all the fire-arms of his men to be gathered and secretly buried in a place near Meggernie Castle, so that they might be available in case of another rising, for which, probably, he never ceased to hope till the day of his death in 1775. There is now plenty of evidence to prove that he was engaged in Jacobite plottings after the death of the Old Pretender. Pending a Stuart Restoration he did not, however, fail to avail himself of interim chances. He managed to get his heir, Archibald, appointed Commissioner of Customs in Edinburgh, and to obtain for his younger son John a commission in the army of King George. While a perfect double-dealer in his relations with the established Government, he was, to his honour, as true as steel to the disinherited dynasty and all members of the Jacobite party. In the summer of 1746 it was pretty well known in Glenlyon by persons who were used as scouts to guard against surprise, that an important fugitive from Culloden was lurking about the dens and gullies of Gallin Burn, which has cut a deep ravine down the face of Gallin Hill, but it was only known to Dark John and his master who that important fugitive was, and they took precious care to keep their secret to themselves. Great care was needed, for King George's soldiers had stations at Weem, Fortingall, and the head of Loch Lyon, whence they were constantly patrolling up and down, and often visiting Meggernie Castle, where Old Culdares, as a matter of policy, received them with a show of loyal welcome and Highland hospitality. It was noted that he had arranged a system of signals by showing lights from turret windows, which would tell Dark John when it was safe for the fugitive to come down to sleep in his cottage, and when he should tell him to keep away. One night in haymaking time, matters must have been thought very critical, for Dark John went down to Innerwick, and without further explanation than the vain allegation of his being afraid of ghosts, forced an ex-rebel to walk up with him to Gallin. But when they got near Dark John's cottage what sounded like the cry of an unknown bird was heard, and the rebel, Iain Dubh Chuilfhodair, who lived to be nearly a hundred, and happened to be my mother's grandfather, was kept from entering the cottage, and curtly told to go home. The seer traded on his uncanny repute at this time to put his cottage under taboo, and used his caretaker's authority to the utmost for keeping prying eyes away from the hill lurking-place of the fugitive. But who could this important fugitive have been? I can only hint at a probable answer by asking another question, Where did Lord George Murray conceal himself in the long interval between the disbanding of the Jacobite forces assembled at Ruthven and the visit to his wife at Tullibardine?

Although Dark John could use the awe with which his uncanny gift inspired other people for protecting a fugitive from Culloden, and perhaps other purposes, he always lamented his possession of that gift. No wonder, when his unbidden visions were usually forecasts of the deaths of persons whose deaths were then to be least expected. Old Culdares, to whom John had been grimly faithful for upwards of forty years, died in 1775. To his son and successor, the Commissioner, John had been devotedly attached from that fine fellow's cradle days. When the Commissioner and his recently married wife came to Meggernie to take possession, John was jubilant, although somewhat weak and shaken by a late illness. When at his departing for Edinburgh, the Commissioner shook hands with him and said he hoped to find him in better health when he came back again, John shook from head to foot, and wailed out the words, "We will never meet again." The Commissioner drove off, believing that John expected no recovery for himself. But no sooner was the carriage out of sight than John, amid sobs and tears, blurted out the explanation, "I may live for years, but his days are numbered. When he shook hands with me I saw the shroud drawn up to his very throat." He immediately repented of having spoken out, and as he could not recall his words, implored those who heard them to keep silent about what he had said till the bad news came, which in a short time was sure to come from Edinburgh. The silence was kept but badly, for all the people of the Glen were aware of what John had said before the news came of the death of the Commissioner, who shortly after his return to Edinburgh was seized by a malignant fever, to which he quickly succumbed in the summer of his years and the fulness of his strength. Dark John survived his beloved master for some years, but was never his old self again. The prophecy of the Commissioner's death, of which the Commissioner himself had no knowledge or suspicion, was much talked about at gatherings of gentry in Edinburgh, as well as by people in Glenlyon and the neighbouring districts of the Highlands. The gift or affliction of second-sight did not descend to any of his three children. His son, the schoolmaster of Ardeonaig, lived, worked, and died as, in his sphere, a man of light, reading, and piety, on the south side of Loch Tay. His two daughters, who married in Glenlyon, were quite as normal as their neighbours, and so were their children, with the solitary exception of Mairi Mhor.

Mairi and her grandfather would probably have been remarkable mediums had they happened to live in this age. Their visions came upon them like unwelcome surprises, but if they had willed them instead of willing against them, the case might have been different. Mairi Mhor had not, like Dark John, gruesome visions of shrouds on living persons. Her warnings of deaths came by seeing, in open day, wraiths of persons who were not to die. but to come for the churchyard key, or to officiate prominently at other people's funerals. She more than once mistook the appearances for the real persons, and under that idea revealed what she would other- wise try to suppress, because my father disliked as much to hear about her abnormal visitations as she disliked to endure them herself. Mairi was an industrious, humbly pious, thoroughly good woman, who recoiled with horror from her uncanny gift of seeing what was invisible to others. The strangest of all Main's glimpses of the future was her vision of the mill-stone, the announcement of which I heard, and the fulfilment of which I witnessed myself. I remember very distinctly both the announcement and the fulfilment, but being then only seven or eight years old, I rely upon the report of my seniors for the fuller form of this story as accepted by the people of the Glen.

I think it must have been the time of peat-cutting, when, after an early breakfast, masters and servants went off to their work up the hill, taking with them bottles of milk and oatcakes for their midday meal, and coming home before nightfall to a supper of broth, meat, and potatoes. Such a meal was in preparation when the smoke of the kitchen sent Mairi, who was asthmatic, to take refuge on the bench at the end of the house, where she stopped till the peat-cutters were sitting down to their food, by evening daylight. Then Mairi rushed in with blazing eyes, and, under strong excitement, told her wonder tale before my father could suppress her. As Mairi's visions were generally forecasts of funerals, he was always anxious to suppress the revelation of them, not so much from the unbelief in them which he pretended to hold, as because of the effect they would have on his wife, servants, and children. On this occasion her vision was such a wonder to herself that she refused to be suppressed. She said she had seen a great gathering of the men of the neighbourhood, pulling by ropes tied to a pole which was stuck through a hole in its middle, a big round thing which they made to roll along over the burn and on past the hillock near the burn. Then my father took her in hand and accused her of falling asleep and dreaming. It was an argument he often used to silence her, and which she knew had some foundation of fact, since it was undeniable that when busy at work, carding or spinning wool, she occasionally dropped off into dream trances. But this time she was sure she was wide awake when the wonder thing passed, and she ended by saying to my father "I saw you there among the rest." A short time passed, and as nothing happened, the dream theory appeared to be justified. But lo ! one hot day the miller, in a huge hurry, and with his coat over his shoulder, came to tell the farmers who had much grain waiting to be ground for the next four months' provision, that the upper mill-stone had splintered that morning, and that the mill would, of course, have to stand idle until the broken stone was replaced by a new one. When Mairi heard of the accident, and listened to a talk about the methods to be used in bringing a new one to the mill, she said at once, "That is what I saw." But at first it looked as if her vision would prove false to a large degree, for it was up the Glen that a rock was chosen out of which to carve the mill- stone. When some cutting out had been done, a flaw was discovered, and that place was abandoned. Down the Glen, on the Ben Lawers hills, the next cutting out took place, and a good mill-stone was the result, which, with a hole in its middle and roughly dressed, had then to be taken down from its high position and piloted and dragged up to the mill. Through the hole made in the middle of it for suiting its permanent mill work, a young larch tree, stripped and rounded, was driven and used as a rudder, lever, and holdfast for the ropes by which the men pulled it on and kept it back when a drag was required. They thus managed to take it down from a rough and high mountain, and by a convenient ford to get it across the river to the high road which they intended to follow to Balgie Bridge, or a ford opposite Milton if the bridge did not give scope for the free working of their long pole. Had this intention been carried out, the procession would not have passed where Mairi had seen the wraith form. But at a narrow and dangerous turn of the road, within sight of Balgie Bridge, they found they could not get past. So they had to turn back to the ford below the manse, and having crossed there, they had no option but to follow the route of Mairi's vision, since the level fields were barred to them by the rising crops. The vision, therefore, was literally fulfilled without accident or mishap to men or mill-stone.

As already said, I met with comparatively few stories about the spirits of the dead returning to trouble the living, in the Perthshire Highlands, and of those few scarcely any was so well vouched for as most of the wraith and second-sight stories. Although in Queen Anne's reign Meggernie Castle won the repute of being haunted, until a bold schoolmaster, with Bible and pistol, undertook to lay the troubled spirit with his mail-armour and clanking chains and did it the Glenlyon dead gave so little trouble to the living that there was no other story about them in my early days. But in those early days of mine, what was called "Spiorad na Comhsheilg," caused commotion in Breadalbane, and was much talked about in our Glen and in other neighbouring districts. The story was told before the Killin Kirk-Session, and the session clerk scrolled in writing the complaint of the Spiorad's family, and the tale in defence told by the man who said he saw the ghost and got from it a message to deliver to its family. I found afterwards that the complaint and the defence were not, although written down, entered in the Kirk-Session minute- book, and was told that the matter had been as far as possible hushed up later on, and that threatened proceedings in the civil court for slandering the dead had been given up because the Spiorad sent through the medium a further message to the family which convinced them, by certain revelation of secrets, that it was wiser to let proceedings drop and do what the Spiorad desired. As far as I can recollect, the following was the story, which I found many years afterwards still in semi-whispered circulation.

Donald Donn, a farmer in good circumstances and of honest reputation, was lying ill when the heir and widow of another farmer, with whom he had cross-transactions in former years, claimed payment for a mare Donald had bought from the dead man, and which they, the dead man's representatives, said in the settling of accounts had not been paid for. Donald, on the other hand, declared that the animal had been paid for, and so did his wife in far more decisive words than he used. It seemed indeed at the last that he relied on his wife's certainty of conviction, and not on his own failing memory. As he was clearly drawing very near his end, the claimants said they would let the question be settled by his oath of verity. So a neighbouring Justice of the Peace was called in, and Donald swore in presence of the claimants that the mare had been paid for. In taking the oath, he was so weak that his wife had to help him to hold up his hand. Within twenty-four hours Donald was dead, and, to use the phrase regarding people of blameless records, "was honourably buried before God and man." Time passed, and the dispute faded away from public memory, till the report spread that Donald's spirit had come back to redress the mistake he had made regarding the matter of the mare. A weaver, who had a house and a small croft in an upland glade of a wood near Donald's farm, when coming home through the wood from the Killin clachan one night was met by a dog, which, on being threatened with an iron-shod staff, changed into a foal, and then into the form of Donald Donn. In its final shape the spirit fought with the weaver, who found that, while he was grasping what seemed to be only an air- blown bladder, he received electric shocks or, as he phrased it, shocks from "cuibhle nan goimheanan," or the electric wheel, which was then in repute for curing rheumatic pains and mitigating creeping paralysis. The weaver, despairing of his life, at last cried out, "Donald, why are you so hard with me?" "Why," said the spirit, letting the man go, "did you not speak to me before?" Then they entered into pacific conversation, and the spirit explained that he was suffering much from the oath he had taken, when memory and mind were failing him, in regard to the claim about the mare, and that he wanted his family to settle this claim. To shew how much he suffered he opened his long cloak, and his bare body looked like a glass case filled with liquid flame. He gave the weaver some tokens to convince his family that the message sent to them was genuinely from himself. The tokens were in- sufficient. The wife and children of the dead man were not convinced, but so highly indignant that they hauled the weaver before the Session and threatened to bring him before the Sheriff or Court of Session. Before the Session the weaver told his story as he had told it to the family, and unflinchingly maintained that it was the truth and nothing but the truth. But for all his assertions he would have been in serious trouble if the spirit, at a second interview, had not furnished him with further credentials which silenced the dead man's family, and made them anxious to hush the matter up. The hushing up was so well done that the general public never learned whether or not the claim about the mare had been satisfied, but the belief of the country was that it had been quietly settled under a promise to say nothing about it. At the second interview the weaver asked the spirit if he could tell when he, the weaver, would die? The spirit answered that he could only tell him that when he was at the funeral of a man who lived down the Lochside his own funeral would be the next one to the clachan church-yard. The man designated was in good health and much younger than the weaver. The latter determined to take good care to keep away from this man's funeral if he chanced unexpectedly to die before him. Neither kinship nor close personal friendship would make his presence obligatory. But, as usually happened in such cases of forewarning, his "dan," or weird, was too strong for him. News in stormy, wintry weather did not then travel fast, and the weaver's croft and cottage were in a lonely nook off the road. Business one day made it necessary for him to go to the clachan. As he came to the junction of his side-glen road with the lochside main road, a funeral overtook him, which, as it was going the same way as himself, he could not help joining. On asking whose funeral it was, he found it was that of the very man whose death was to be the forecast of his own. He took the doom involved very philosophically; went to the clachan, settled his business there, visited a married daughter and other friends there, calmly told them his story, solemnly bade them farewell, walked back home, took to bed and died within the week. So his funeral came next to that of the other man.


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