ABOUT fifty years ago, an
unfortunate female wanderer took up her residence in a dark vault, among
the ruins of Dryburgh Abbey, which, during the day, she never quitted.
When night fell, she issued from this miserable habitation, and went to
the house of Mr. Haliburton, of Newmains, or to that of Mr. Erskine, of
Shielfield, two gentlemen of the neighbourhood. From their charity she
obtained such necessaries as she could be prevailed upon to accept. At
twelve, each night, she lighted her candle, and returned to her vault;
assuring her friendly neighbours that, during her absence, her habitation
was arranged by a spirit, to whom she gave the uncouth name of Fatlips,
describing him as a little man, wearing heavy iron shoes, with which
he trampled the clay floor of the vault, to dispel the damps. This
circumstance caused her to be regarded, by the well informed, with
compassion, as deranged in her understanding; and by the vulgar, with some
degree of terror. The cause of her adopting this extraordinary mode of
life she would never explain. It was, however, believed to have been
occasioned by a vow that, during the absence of a man to whom she was
attached, she would never look upon the sun. Her lover never returned. He
fell during the civil war of 1745-46, and she never more would
behold the light of day.
The vault, or rather dungeon, in
which this unfortunate woman lived and died, passes still by the name of
the supernatural being with which its gloom was tenanted by her disturbed
imagination, and few of the neighbouring peasants dare enter it by night.