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Legends and Traditions
The Ghost that Danced at Jethart


THIS legend carries us back to the time of Alexander IlI. of revered memory—to a time when Scotland was enjoying—what was not often her wont—such an amount of rest from turmoil, that she could participate a little in harmless ostentation and brilliant pageantry. Such brilliant pageantry occurred in i 285 at Jedburgh, which Alexander had fixed upon, from the celebrity of its abbey and the attractiveness of its surrounding scenery, as a fitting place wherein to celebrate his marriage with Yolande, daughter of the Count de Dreux. Jedburgh was thus in high holiday; but at the banquet in the evening—more splendid, we are told, than anything of the kind previously seen in Scotland—held, it is said, in the great hail of the abbey, and at the very moment when the hilarity of the brilliant assemblage was at its highest—when the dance had grown fast and furious, and all went merry as a marriage bell—there took place a remarkable, ghostly incident. One of the exhibitions of the evening consisted of a kind of military dance or procession. While this dance was performing, and while the mirth was unbounded, an unwelcome visitor appeared at the festive board, whose presence put a sudden end to the hilarities of the evening. At the close of the procession of maskers, a spectre glided into the room and mixed in the dance, at sight of which the music ceased in an instant, and the maskers fled in affright. In the midst of the turmoil, the spectre suddenly disappeared. The incident of the skeleton dancer was too remarkable not to becomes associated in the public mind with national disaster. Accordingly an old poet connects with the apparition the fact that—

"The king soon after, falling from his steed,
Unhappily died,—after whose death, ensuing
Woe to the land, sedition, wreck, and ruin."


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