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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang

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and she soon became her usual self.

In the afternoon, when the devils went out of the ladies, the fowls
flew into a state of wild excitement, while the swine rushed furiously
about and tried to climb a wall.

The family have become Christians, the fires have ceased; Mr. Chang is
an earnest inquirer, but opposed, for obvious reasons, to any public
profession of our religion. {233b}

In Mr. Niu's case "strange noises and rappings were frequently heard
about the house. The buildings were also set on fire in different
places in some mysterious way." The Christians tried to convert Mr.
Niu, but as the devil now possessed his female slave, whose success in
fortune-telling was extremely lucrative, Mr. Niu said that he
preferred to leave well alone, and remained wedded to his idols. {234}

We next offer a recent colonial case, in which the symptoms, as Mr.
Pecksniff said, were "chronic".


On 13th February, 1888, Mr. Walter Hubbell, an actor by profession,
"being duly sworn" before a Notary Public in New York, testified to
the following story:--

In 1879 he was acting with a strolling company, and came to Amherst,
in Nova Scotia. Here he heard of a haunted house, known to the local
newspapers as "The Great Amherst Mystery". Having previously
succeeded in exposing the frauds of spiritualism Mr. Hubbell
determined to investigate the affair of Amherst. The haunted house
was inhabited by Daniel Teed, the respected foreman in a large shoe
factory. Under his roof were Mrs. Teed, "as good a woman as ever
lived"; little Willie, a baby boy; and Mrs. Teed's two sisters,
Jennie, a very pretty girl, and Esther, remarkable for large grey
eyes, pretty little hands and feet, and candour of expression. A
brother of Teed's and a brother of Mrs. Cox made up the family. They
were well off, and lived comfortably in a detached cottage of two
storys. It began when Jennie and Esther were in bed one night.
Esther jumped up, saying that there was a mouse in the bed. Next
night, a green band-box began to make a rustling noise, and then rose
a foot in the air, several times. On the following night Esther felt
unwell, and "was a swelling wisibly before the werry eyes" of her
alarmed family. Reports like thunder peeled through her chamber,
under a serene sky. Next day Esther could only eat "a small piece of
bread and butter, and a large green pickle". She recovered slightly,
in spite of the pickle, but, four nights later, all her and her
sister's bed-clothes flew off, and settled down in a remote corner.
At Jennie's screams, the family rushed in, and found Esther "fearfully
swollen". Mrs. Teed replaced the bed-clothes, which flew off again,
the pillow striking John Teed in the face. Mr. Teed then left the
room, observing, in a somewhat unscientific spirit, that "he had had
enough of it". The others, with a kindness which did them credit, sat
on the edges of the bed, and repressed the desire of the sheets and
blankets to fly away. The bed, however, sent forth peels like
thunder, when Esther suddenly fell into a peaceful sleep.

Next evening Dr. Carritte arrived, and the bolster flew at his head,
_and then went back again under Esther's_. While paralysed by this
phenomenon, unprecedented in his practice, the doctor heard a metal
point scribbling on the wall. Examining the place whence the sound
proceeded, he discovered this inscription:--

Esther Cox! You are mine
to kill.

Mr. Hubbell has verified the inscription, and often, later, recognised
the hand, in writings which "came out of the air and fell at our
feet". Bits of plaster now gyrated in the room, accompanied by peels
of local thunder. The doctor admitted that his diagnosis was at
fault. Next day he visited his patient when potatoes flew at him. He
exhibited a powerful sedative, but pounding noises began on the roofs
and were audible at a distance of 200 yards, as the doctor himself
told Mr. Hubbell.

The clergy now investigated the circumstances, which they attributed
to electricity. "Even the most exclusive class" frequented Mr. Teed's
house, till December, when Esther had an attack of diphtheria. On
recovering she went on to visit friends in Sackville, New Brunswick,
where nothing unusual occurred. On her return the phenomena broke
forth afresh, and Esther heard a voice proclaim that the house would
be set on fire. Lighted matches then fell from the ceiling, but the
family extinguished them. The ghost then set a dress on fire,
apparently as by spontaneous combustion, and this kind of thing
continued. The heads of the local fire-brigade suspected Esther of
these attempts at arson, and Dr. Nathan Tupper suggested that she
should be flogged. So Mr. Teed removed Esther to the house of a Mr.

In about a month "all," as Mrs. Nickleby's lover said, "was gas and
gaiters". The furniture either flew about, or broke into flames.
Worse, certain pieces of iron placed as an experiment on Esther's lap
"became too hot to be handled with comfort," and then flew away.

Mr. Hubbell himself now came on the scene, and, not detecting
imposture, thought that "there was money in it". He determined to
"run" Esther as a powerful attraction, he lecturing, and Esther
sitting on the platform.

It did not pay. The audience hurled things at Mr. Hubbell, and these
were the only volatile objects. Mr. Hubbell therefore brought Esther
back to her family at Amherst, where, in Esther's absence, his
umbrella and a large carving knife flew at him with every appearance
of malevolence. A great arm-chair next charged at him like a bull,
and to say that Mr. Hubbell was awed "would indeed seem an inadequate
expression of my feelings". The ghosts then thrice undressed little
Willie in public, in derision of his tears and outcries. Fire-raising
followed, and that would be a hard heart which could read the tale
unmoved. Here it is, in the simple eloquence of Mr. Hubbell:--

"This was my first experience with Bob, the demon, as a fire-fiend;
and I say, candidly, that until I had had that experience I never
fully realised what an awful calamity it was to have an invisible
monster, somewhere within the atmosphere, going from place to place
about the house, gathering up old newspapers into a bundle and hiding
it in the basket of soiled linen or in a closet, then go and steal
matches out of the match-box in the kitchen or somebody's pocket, as
he did out of mine, and after kindling a fire in the bundle, tell
Esther that he had started a fire, but would not tell where; or
perhaps not tell her at all, in which case the first intimation we
would have was the smell of the smoke pouring through the house, and
then the most intense excitement, everybody running with buckets of
water. I say it was the most truly awful calamity that could possible
befall any family, infidel or Christian, that could be conceived in
the mind of man or ghost.

"And how much more terrible did it seem in this little cottage, where
all were strict members of church, prayed, sang hymns and read the
Bible. Poor Mrs. Teed!"

On Mr. Hubbell's remarking that the cat was not tormented, "she was
instantly lifted from the floor to a height of five feet, and then
dropped on Esther's back. . . . I never saw any cat more frightened;
she ran out into the front yard, where she remained for the balance
(rest) of the day." On 27th June "a trumpet was heard in the house
all day".

The Rev. R. A. Temple now prayed with Esther, and tried a little
amateur exorcism, including the use of slips of paper, inscribed with
Habakkuk ii. 3. The ghosts cared no more than Voltaire for ce coquin

Things came to such a pass, matches simply raining all round, that Mr.
Teed's landlord, a Mr. Bliss, evicted Esther. She went to a Mr. Van
Amburgh's, and Mr. Teed's cottage was in peace.

Some weeks later Esther was arrested for incendiarism in a barn, was
sentenced to four months' imprisonment, but was soon released in
deference to public opinion. She married, had a family; and ceased to
be a mystery.

This story is narrated with an amiable simplicity, and is backed, more
or less, by extracts from Amherst and other local newspapers. On
making inquiries, I found that opinion was divided. Some held that
Esther was a mere impostor and fire-raiser; from other sources I
obtained curious tales of the eccentric flight of objects in her
neighbourhood. It is only certain that Esther's case is identical
with Madame Shchapoff's, and experts in hysteria may tell us whether
that malady ever takes the form of setting fire to the patient's
wardrobe, and to things in general. {239a}

After these modern cases of disturbances, we may look at a few old, or
even ancient examples. It will be observed that the symptoms are
always of the same type, whatever the date or country. The first is
Gaelic, of last century.


It is fully a hundred years ago since there died in Lochaber a man
named Donald Ban, sometimes called "the son of Angus," but more
frequently known as Donald Ban of the Bocan. This surname was derived
from the troubles caused to him by a bocan--a goblin--many of whose
doings are preserved in tradition.

Donald drew his origin from the honourable house of Keppoch, and was
the last of the hunters of Macvic-Ronald. His home was at Mounessee,
and later at Inverlaire in Glenspean, and his wife belonged to the
MacGregors of Rannoch. He went out with the Prince, and was present
at the battle of Culloden. He fled from the field, and took refuge in
a mountain shieling, having two guns with him, but only one of them
was loaded. A company of soldiers came upon him there, and although
Donald escaped by a back window, taking the empty gun with him by
mistake, he was wounded in the leg by a shot from his pursuers. The
soldiers took him then, and conveyed him to Inverness, where he was
thrown into prison to await his trial. While he was in prison he had
a dream; he saw himself sitting and drinking with Alastair MacCholla,
and Donald MacRonald Vor. The latter was the man of whom it was said
that he had two hearts; he was taken prisoner at Falkirk and executed
at Carlisle. Donald was more fortunate than his friend, and was
finally set free.

It was after this that the bocan began to trouble him; and although
Donald never revealed to any man the secret of who the bocan was (if
indeed he knew it himself), yet there were some who professed to know
that it was a "gillie" of Donald's who was killed at Culloden. Their
reason for believing this was that on one occasion the man in question
had given away more to a poor neighbour than Donald was pleased to
spare. Donald found fault with him, and in the quarrel that followed
the man said, "I will be avenged for this, alive or dead".

It was on the hill that Donald first met with the bocan, but he soon
came to closer quarters, and haunted the house in a most annoying
fashion. He injured the members of the household, and destroyed all
the food, being especially given to dirtying the butter (a thing quite
superfluous, according to Captain Burt's description of Highland
butter). On one occasion a certain Ronald of Aberardair was a guest
in Donald's house, and Donald's wife said, "Though I put butter on the
table for you tonight, it will just be dirtied". "I will go with you
to the butter-keg," said Ronald, "with my dirk in my hand, and hold my
bonnet over the keg, and he will not dirty it this night." So the two
went together to fetch the butter, but it was dirtied just as usual.

Things were worse during the night and they could get no sleep for the
stones and clods that came flying about the house. "The bocan was
throwing things out of the walls, and they would hear them rattling at
the head of Donald's bed." The minister came (Mr. John Mor MacDougall
was his name) and slept a night or two in the house, but the bocan
kept away so long as he was there. Another visitor, Angus MacAlister
Ban, whose grandson told the tale, had more experience of the bocan's
reality. "Something seized his two big toes, and he could not get
free any more than if he had been caught by the smith's tongs. It was
the bocan, but he did nothing more to him." Some of the clergy, too,
as well as laymen of every rank, were witnesses to the pranks which
the spirit carried on, but not even Donald himself ever saw him in any
shape whatever. So famous did the affair become that Donald was
nearly ruined by entertaining all the curious strangers who came to
see the facts for themselves.

In the end Donald resolved to change his abode, to see whether he
could in that way escape from the visitations. He took all his
possessions with him except a harrow, which was left beside the wall
of the house, but before the party had gone far on the road the harrow
was seen coming after them. "Stop, stop," said Donald; "if the harrow
is coming after us, we may just as well go back again." The mystery
of the harrow is not explained, but Donald did return to his home, and
made no further attempt to escape from his troubles in this way.

If the bocan had a spite at Donald, he was still worse disposed
towards his wife, the MacGregor woman. On the night on which he last
made his presence felt, he went on the roof of the house and cried,
"Are you asleep, Donald Ban?" "Not just now," said Donald. "Put out
that long grey tether, the MacGregor wife," said he. "I don't think
I'll do that tonight," said Donald. "Come out yourself, then," said
the bocan, "and leave your bonnet." The good-wife, thinking that the
bocan was outside and would not hear her, whispered in Donald's ear as
he was rising, "Won't you ask him when the Prince will come?" The
words, however, were hardly out of her mouth when the bocan answered
her with, "Didn't you get enough of him before, you grey tether?"

Another account says that at this last visit of the bocan, he was
saying that various other spirits were along with him. Donald's wife
said to her husband: "I should think that if they were along with him
they would speak to us"; but the bocan answered, "They are no more
able to speak than the sole of your foot". He then summoned Donald
outside as above. "I will come," said Donald, "and thanks be to the
Good Being that you have asked me." Donald was taking his dirk with
him as he went out, but the bocan said, "leave your dirk inside,
Donald, and your knife as well".

Donald then went outside, and the bocan led him on through rivers and
a birch-wood for about three miles, till they came to the river Fert.
There the bocan pointed out to Donald a hole in which he had hidden
some plough-irons while he was alive. Donald proceeded to take them
out, and while doing so the two eyes of the bocan were causing him
greater fear than anything else he ever heard or saw. When he had got
the irons out of the hole, they went back to Mounessie together, and
parted that night at the house of Donald Ban.

Donald, whether naturally or by reason of his ghostly visitant, was a
religious man, and commemorated his troubles in some verses which bear
the name of "The Hymn of Donald Ban of the Bocan". In these he speaks
of the common belief that he had done something to deserve all this
annoyance, and makes mention of the "stones and clods" which flew
about his house in the night time. Otherwise the hymn is mainly
composed of religious sentiments, but its connection with the story
makes it interesting, and the following is a literal translation of


O God that created me so helpless,
Strengthen my belief and make it firm.
Command an angel to come from Paradise,
And take up his abode in my dwelling,
To protect me from every trouble
That wicked folks are putting in my way;
Jesus, that did'st suffer Thy crucifixion,
Restrain their doings, and be with me Thyself.

Little wonder though I am thoughtful--
_Always at the time when I go to bed
The stones and the clods will arise--
How could a saint get sleep there_?
I am without peace or rest,
Without repose or sleep till the morning;
O Thou that art in the throne of grace,
Behold my treatment and be a guard to me.

Little wonder though I am troubled,
So many stories about me in every place.
Some that are unjust will be saying,
"It is all owing to himself, that affair".
Judge not except as you know,
Though the Son of God were awaking you;
No one knows if I have deserved more
Than a rich man that is without care.

Although I am in trouble at this time,
Verily, I shall be doubly repaid;
When the call comes to me from my Saviour,
I shall receive mercy and new grace;
I fear no more vexation,
When I ascend to be with Thy saints;
O Thou that sittest on the throne,
Assist my speaking and accept my prayer.

O God, make me mindful
Night and day to be praying,
Seeking pardon richly
For what I have done, on my knees.
Stir with the spirit of Truth
True repentance in my bosom,
That when Thou sendest death to seek me,
Christ may take care of me.

The bocan was not the only inhabitant of the spirit-world that Donald
Ban encountered during his lifetime. A cousin of his mother was said
to have been carried off by the fairies, and one night Donald saw him
among them, dancing away with all his might. Donald was also out
hunting in the year of the great snow, and at nightfall he saw a man
mounted on the back of a deer ascending a great rock. He heard the
man saying, "Home, Donald Ban," and fortunately he took the advice,
for that night there fell eleven feet of snow in the very spot where
he had intended to stay.

We now take two modern Icelandic cases, for the purpose of leading up
to the famous Icelandic legend of Grettir and Glam the Vampire, from
the Grettis Saga. It is plain that such incidents as those in the two
modern Icelandic cases (however the effects were produced) might
easily be swollen into the prodigious tale of Glam in the course of
two or three centuries, between Grettir's time and the complete
formation of his Saga.


The sheriff writes: "The Devil at Hjalta-stad was outspoken enough
this past winter, although no one saw him. I, along with others, had
the dishonour to hear him talking for nearly two days, during which he
addressed myself and the minister, Sir Grim, with words the like of
which 'eye hath not seen nor ear heard'. As soon as we reached the
front of the house there was heard in the door an iron voice saying:
'So Hans from Eyrar is come now, and wishes to talk with me, the ---
idiot'. Compared with other names that he gave me this might be
considered as flattering. When I inquired who it was that addressed
me with such words, he answered in a fierce voice, 'I was called
Lucifer at first, but now I am called Devil and Enemy'. He threw at
us both stones and pieces of wood, as well as other things, and broke
two windows in the minister's room. He spoke so close to us that he
seemed to be just at our side. There was an old woman there of the
name of Opia, whom he called his wife, and a 'heavenly blessed soul,'
and asked Sir Grim to marry them, with various other remarks of this
kind, which I will not recount.

"I have little liking to write about his ongoings, which were all
disgraceful and shameful, in accordance with the nature of the actor.
He repeated the 'Pater Noster' three times, answered questions from
the Catechism and the Bible, said that the devils held service in
hell, and told what texts and psalms they had for various occasions.
He asked us to give him some of the food we had, and a drink of tea,
etc. I asked the fellow whether God was good. He said, 'Yes'.
Whether he was truthful. He answered, 'Not one of his words can be
doubted'. Sir Grim asked him whether the devil was good-looking. He
answered: 'He is far better-looking than you, you --- ugly snout!' I
asked him whether the devils agreed well with each other. He answered
in a kind of sobbing voice: 'It is painful to know that they never
have peace'. I bade him say something to me in German, and said to
him Lass uns Teusc redre (sic), but he answered as if he had
misunderstood me.

"When we went to bed in the evening he shouted fiercely in the middle
of the floor, 'On this night I shall snatch you off to hell, and you
shall not rise up out of bed as you lay down'. During the evening he
wished the minister's wife good-night. The minister and I continued
to talk with him during the night; among other things we asked him
what kind of weather it was outside. He answered: 'It is cold, with
a north wind'. We asked if he was cold. He answered: 'I think I am
both hot and cold'. I asked him how loud he could shout. He said,
'So loud that the roof would go off the house, and you would all fall
into a dead faint'. I told him to try it. He answered: 'Do you
think I am come to amuse you, you --- idiot?' I asked him to show us
a little specimen. He said he would do so, and gave three shouts, the
last of which was so fearful that I have never heard anything worse,
and doubt whether I ever shall. Towards daybreak, after he had parted
from us with the usual compliments, we fell asleep.

"Next morning he came in again, and began to waken up people; he named
each one by name, not forgetting to add some nickname, and asking
whether so-and-so was awake. When he saw they were all awake, he said
he was going to play with the door now, and with that he threw the
door off its hinges with a sudden jerk, and sent it far in upon the
floor. The strangest thing was that when he threw anything it went
down at once, and then went back to its place again, so it was evident
that he either went inside it or moved about with it.

"The previous evening he challenged me twice to come out into the
darkness to him, and this in an angry voice, saying that he would tear
me limb from limb. I went out and told him to come on, but nothing
happened. When I went back to my place and asked him why he had not
fulfilled his promise, he said, 'I had no orders for it from my
master'. He asked us whether we had ever heard the like before, and
when we said 'Yes,' he answered, 'That is not true: the like has
never been heard at any time'. He had sung 'The memory of Jesus'
after I arrived there, and talked frequently while the word of God was
being read. He said that he did not mind this, but that he did not
like the 'Cross-school Psalms,' and said it must have been a great
idiot who composed them. This enemy came like a devil, departed as
such, and behaved himself as such while he was present, nor would it
befit any one but the devil to declare all that he said. At the same
time it must be added that I am not quite convinced that it was a
spirit, but my opinions on this I cannot give here for lack of time."

In another work {249} where the sheriff's letter is given with some
variations and additions, an attempt is made to explain the story.
The phenomena were said to have been caused by a young man who had
learned ventriloquism abroad. Even if this art could have been
practised so successfully as to puzzle the sheriff and others, it
could hardly have taken the door off its hinges and thrown it into the
room. It is curious that while Jon Espolin in his Annals entirely
discredits the sheriff's letter, he yet gives a very similar account
of the spirit's proceedings.

A later story of the same kind, also printed by Jon Arnason (i., 311),
is that of the ghost at Garpsdal as related by the minister there, Sir
Saemund, and written down by another minister on 7th June, 1808. The
narrative is as follows:--


In Autumn, 1807, there was a disturbance by night in the outer room at
Garpsdal, the door being smashed. There slept in this room the
minister's men-servants, Thorsteinn Gudmundsson, Magnus Jonsson, and a
child named Thorstein. Later, on 16th November, a boat which the
minister had lying at the sea-side was broken in broad daylight, and
although the blows were heard at the homestead yet no human form was
visible that could have done this. All the folks at Garpsdal were at
home, and the young fellow Magnus Jonsson was engaged either at the
sheep-houses or about the homestead; the spirit often appeared to him
in the likeness of a woman. On the 18th of the same month four doors
of the sheep-houses were broken in broad daylight, while the minister
was marrying a couple in the church; most of his people were present
in the church, Magnus being among them. That same day in the evening
this woman was noticed in the sheep-houses; she said that she wished
to get a ewe to roast, but as soon as an old woman who lived at
Garpsdal and was both skilled and wise (Gudrun Jons-dottir by name)
had handled the ewe, its struggles ceased and it recovered again.
While Gudrun was handling the ewe, Magnus was standing in the door of
the house; with that one of the rafters was broken, and the pieces
were thrown in his face. He said that the woman went away just then.
The minister's horses were close by, and at that moment became so
scared that they ran straight over smooth ice as though it had been
earth, and suffered no harm.

On the evening of the 20th there were great disturbances, panelling
and doors being broken down in various rooms. The minister was
standing in the house door along with Magnus and two or three girls
when Magnus said to him that the spirit had gone into the sitting-
room. The minister went and stood at the door of the room, and after
he had been there a little while, talking to the others, a pane of
glass in one of the room windows was broken. Magnus was standing
beside the minister talking to him, and when the pane broke he said
that the spirit had gone out by that. The minister went to the
window, and saw that the pane was all broken into little pieces. The
following evening, the 21st, the spirit also made its presence known
by bangings, thumpings, and loud noises.

On the 28th the ongoings of the spirit surpassed themselves. In the
evening a great blow was given on the roof of the sitting-room. The
minister was inside at the time, but Magnus with two girls was out in
the barn. At the same moment the partition between the weaving-shop
and the sitting-room was broken down, and then three windows of the
room itself--one above the minister's bed, another above his writing-
table, and the third in front of the closet door. A piece of a table
was thrown in at one of these, and a spade at another. At this the
household ran out of that room into the loft, but the minister sprang
downstairs and out; the old woman Gudrun who was named before went
with him, and there also came Magnus and some of the others. Just
then a vessel of wash, which had been standing in the kitchen, was
thrown at Gudrun's head. The minister then ran in, along with Magnus
and the girls, and now everything that was loose was flying about,
both doors and splinters of wood. The minister opened a room near the
outer door intending to go in there, but just then a sledge hammer
which lay at the door was thrown at him, but it only touched him on
the side and hip, and did him no harm. From there the minister and
the others went back to the sitting-room, where everything was dancing
about, and where they were met with a perfect volley of splinters of
deal from the partitions. The minister then fled, and took his wife
and child to Muli, the next farm, and left them there, as she was
frightened to death with all this. He himself returned next day.

On the 8th of December, the woman again made her appearance in broad
daylight. On this occasion she broke the shelves and panelling in the
pantry, in presence of the minister, Magnus, and others. According to
Magnus, the spirit then went out through the wall at the minister's
words, and made its way to the byre-lane. Magnus and Gudrun went
after it, but were received with throwings of mud and dirt. A stone
was also hurled at Magnus, as large as any man could lift, while
Gudrun received a blow on the arm that confined her to her bed for
three weeks.

On the 26th of the month the shepherd, Einar Jonsson, a hardy and
resolute fellow, commanded the spirit to show itself to him.
Thereupon there came over him such a madness and frenzy, that he had
to be closely guarded to prevent him from doing harm to himself. He
was taken to the house, and kept in his bed, a watch being held over
him. When he recovered his wits, he said that this girl had come
above his head and assailed him. When he had completely got over
this, he went away from Garpsdal altogether.

Later than this the minister's horse was found dead in the stable at
Muli, and the folks there said that it was all black and swollen.

These are the most remarkable doings of the ghost at Garpsdal,
according to the evidence of Sir Saemund, Magnus, Gudrun, and all the
household at Garpsdal, all of whom will confirm their witness with an
oath, and aver that no human being could have been so invisible there
by day and night, but rather that it was some kind of spirit that did
the mischief. From the story itself it may be seen that neither
Magnus nor any other person could have accomplished the like, and all
the folk will confirm this, and clear all persons in the matter, so
far as they know. In this form the story was told to me, the
subscriber, to Samuel Egilsson and Bjarni Oddsson, by the minister
himself and his household, at Garpsdal, 28th May, 1808. That this is
correctly set down, after what the minister Sir Saemund related to me,
I witness here at Stad on Reykjanes, 7th June, 1808.


* * * * *

Notwithstanding this declaration, the troubles at Garpsdal were
attributed by others to Magnus, and the name of the "Garpsdale Ghost"
stuck to him throughout his life. He was alive in 1862, when Jon
Arnason's volume was published.

These modern instances lead up to "the best story in the world," the
old Icelandic tale of Glam.

The Story of Glam. The Foul Fords.


There was a man named Thorhall, who lived at Thorhall-stead in
Forsaela-dala, which lies in the north of Iceland. He was a fairly
wealthy man, especially in cattle, so that no one round about had so
much live-stock as he had. He was not a chief, however, but an honest
and worthy yeoman.

"Now this man's place was greatly haunted, so that he could scarcely
get a shepherd to stay with him, and although he asked the opinion of
many as to what he ought to do, he could find none to give him advice
of any worth.

"One summer at the Althing, or yearly assembly of the people, Thorhall
went to the booth of Skafti, the law man, who was the wisest of men
and gave good counsel when his opinion was asked. He received
Thorhall in a friendly way, because he knew he was a man of means, and
asked him what news he had.

"'I would have some good advice from you,' said Thorhall.

'"I am little able to give that,' said Skafti; 'but what is the

"'This is the way of it,' said Thorhall, 'I have had very bad luck
with my shepherds of late. Some of them get injured, and others will
not serve out their time; and now no one that knows how the case
stands will take the place at all.'

"'Then there must be some evil spirit there,' said Skafti, 'when men
are less willing to herd your sheep, than those of others. Now since
you have asked my advice, I will get a shepherd for you. Glam is his
name, he belongs to Sweden, and came out here last summer. He is big
and strong, but not very well liked by most people.'

"Thorhall said that he did not mind that, if he looked well after the
sheep. Skafti answered that there was no hope of other men doing it,
if Glam could not, seeing he was so strong and stout-hearted. Their
talk ended there, and Thorhall left the booth.

"This took place just at the breaking up of the assembly. Thorhall
missed two of his horses, and went to look for them in person, from
which it may be seen that he was no proud man. He went up to the
mountain ridge, and south along the fell that is called Armann's fell.
There he saw a man coming down from the wood, leading a horse laden
with bundles of brushwood. They soon met each other and Thorhall
asked his name. He said he was called Glam. He was tall of body, and
of strange appearance; his eyes were blue and staring, and his hair
wolf-grey in colour. Thorhall was a little startled when he saw him,
and was certain that this was the man he had been told about.

"'What work are you best fitted for?' he asked. Glam said that he was
good at keeping sheep in winter.

"'Will you look after _my_ sheep?' said Thorhall. 'Skafti has put you
into my hands.'

"'On this condition only will I take service with you,' said Glam,
'that I have my own free will, for I am ill-tempered if anything does
not please me.'

"'That will not harm me,' said Thorhall, 'and I should like you to
come to me.'

"'I will do so,' said Glam; 'but is there any trouble at your place?'

"'It is believed to be haunted,' said Thorhall.

"'I am not afraid of such bug-bears,' said Glam, 'and think that it
will be all the livelier for that.'

"'You will need all your boldness,' said Thorhall, 'It is best not to
be too frightened for one's self there.'

"After this they made a bargain between them, and Glam was to come
when the winter nights began. Then they parted, and Thorhall found
his horses where he had just newly looked for them, and rode home,
after thanking Skafti for his kindness.

"The summer passed, and Thorhall heard nothing of the shepherd, nor
did any one know the least about him, but at the time appointed he
came to Thorhall-stead. The yeoman received him well, but the others
did not like him, and the good-wife least of all. He began his work
among the sheep which gave him little trouble, for he had a loud,
hoarse voice, and the flock all ran together whenever he shouted.
There was a church at Thorhall-stead, but Glam would never go to it
nor join in the service. He was unbelieving, surly, and difficult to
deal with, and ever one felt a dislike towards him.

"So time went on till it came to Christmas eve. On that morning Glam
rose early and called for his food. The good-wife answered: 'It is
not the custom of Christian people to eat on this day, for to-morrow
is the first day of Christmas, and we ought to fast to-day'. Glam
replied: 'You have many foolish fashions that I see no good in. I
cannot see that men are any better off now than they were when they
never troubled themselves about such things. I think it was a far
better life when men were heathens; and now I want my food, and no
nonsense.' The good-wife answered: 'I am sure you will come to
sorrow to-day if you act thus perversely'.

"Glam bade her bring his food at once, or it would be the worse for
her. She was afraid to refuse, and after he had eaten he went out in
a great rage.

"The weather was very bad. It was dark and gloomy all round;
snowflakes fluttered about; loud noises were heard in the air, and it
grew worse and worse as the day wore on. They heard the shepherd's
voice during the forenoon, but less of him as the day passed. Then
the snow began to drift, and by evening there was a violent storm.
People came to the service in church, and the day wore on to evening,
but still Glam did not come home. There was some talk among them of
going to look for him, but no search was made on account of the storm
and the darkness.

"All Christmas eve Glam did not return, and in the morning men went to
look for him. They found the sheep scattered in the fens, beaten down
by the storm, or up on the hills. Thereafter they came to a place in
the valley where the snow was all trampled, as if there had been a
terrible struggle there, for stones and frozen earth were torn up all
round about. They looked carefully round the place, and found Glam
lying a short distance off, quite dead. He was black in colour, and
swollen up as big as an ox. They were horrified at the sight, and
shuddered in their hearts. However, they tried to carry him to the
church, but could get him no further than to the edge of a cleft, a
little lower down; so they left him there and went home and told their
master what had happened.

"Thorhall asked them what had been the cause of Glam's death. They
said that they had traced footprints as large as though the bottom of
a cask had been set down in the snow leading from where the trampled
place was up to the cliffs at the head of the valley, and all along
the track there were huge blood-stains. From this they guessed that
the evil spirit which lived there must have killed Glam, but had
received so much hurt that it had died, for nothing was ever seen of
it after.

"The second day of Christmas they tried again to bring Glam to the
church. They yoked horses to him, but after they had come down the
slope and reached level ground they could drag him no further, and he
had to be left there.

"On the third day a priest went with them, but Glam was not be found,
although they searched for him all day. The priest refused to go a
second time, and the shepherd was found at once when the priest was
not present. So they gave over their attempts to take him to the
church, and buried him on the spot.

"Soon after this they became aware that Glam was not lying quiet, and
great damage was done by him, for many that saw him fell into a swoon,
or lost their reason. Immediately after Yule men believed that they
saw him about the farm itself, and grew terribly frightened, so that
many of them ran away. After this Glam began to ride on the house-top
by night, {259} and nearly shook it to pieces, and then he walked
about almost night and day. Men hardly dared to go up into the
valley, even although they had urgent business there, and every one in
the district thought great harm of the matter.

"In spring, Thorhall got new men, and started the farm again, while
Glam's walkings began to grow less frequent as the days grew longer.
So time went on, until it was mid-summer. That summer a ship from
Norway came into Huna-water (a firth to the north of Thorhall-stead),
and had on board a man called Thorgaut. He was foreign by birth, big
of body, and as strong as any two men. He was unhired and unmarried,
and was looking for some employment, as he was penniless. Thorhall
rode to the ship, and found Thorgaut there. He asked him whether he
would enter his service. Thorgaut answered that he might well do so,
and that he did not care much what work he did.

"'You must know, however,' said Thorhall, 'that it is not good for any
faint-hearted man to live at my place, on account of the hauntings
that have been of late, and I do not wish to deceive you in any way.'

"'I do not think myself utterly lost although I see some wretched
ghosts,' said Thorgaut. 'It will be no light matter for others if _I_
am scared, and I will not throw up the place on that account.'

"Their bargain was quickly made, and Thorgaut was to have charge of
the sheep during the winter. The summer went past, and Thorgaut began
his duties with the winter nights, and was well liked by every one.
Glam began to come again, and rode on the house-top, which Thorgaut
thought great sport, and said that the thrall would have to come to
close quarters before he would be afraid of him. Thorhall bade him
not say too much about it. 'It will be better for you,' said he, 'if
you have no trial of each other.'

"'Your courage has indeed been shaken out of you,' said Thorgaut, 'but
I am not going to fall dead for such talk.'

"The winter went on till Christmas came again, and on Christmas eve
the shepherd went out to his sheep. 'I trust,' said the good-wife,
'that things will not go after the old fashion.'

"'Have no fear of that, good-wife,' said Thorgaut; 'there will be
something worth talking about if I don't come back.'

"The weather was very cold, and a heavy drift blowing. Thorgaut was
in the habit of coming home when it was half-dark, but on this
occasion he did not return at his usual time. People came to church,
and they now began to think that things were not unlikely to fall out
as they had done before. Thorhall wished to make search for the
shepherd, but the church-goers refused, saying that they would not
risk themselves in the hands of evil demons by night, and so no search
was made.

"After their morning meal on Christmas day they went out to look for
the shepherd. They first made their way to Glam's cairn, guessing
that he was the cause of the man's disappearance. On coming near to
this they saw great tidings, for there they found the shepherd with
his neck broken and every bone in his body smashed in pieces. They
carried him to the church, and he did no harm to any man thereafter.
But Glam began to gather strength anew, and now went so far in his
mischief that every one fled from Thorhall-stead, except the yeoman
and his wife.

"The same cattleman, however, had been there for a long time, and
Thorhall would not let him leave, because he was so faithful and so
careful. He was very old, and did not want to go away either, for he
saw that everything his master had would go to wreck and ruin, if
there was no one to look after it.

"One morning after the middle of winter the good-wife went out to the
byre to milk the cows. It was broad daylight by this time, for no one
ventured to be outside earlier than that, except the cattleman, who
always went out when it began to grow clear. She heard a great noise
and fearful bellowing in the byre, and ran into the house again,
crying out and saying that some awful thing was going on there.
Thorhall went out to the cattle and found them goring each other with
their horns. To get out of their way, he went through into the barn,
and in doing this he saw the cattleman lying on his back with his head
in one stall and his feet in another. He went up to him and felt him
and soon found that he was dead, with his back broken over the upright
stone between two of the stalls.

"The yeoman thought it high time to leave the place now, and fled from
his farm with all that he could remove. All the live-stock that he
left behind was killed by Glam, who then went through the whole glen
and laid waste all the farms up from Tongue.

"Thorhall spent the rest of the winter with various friends. No one
could go up into the glen with horse or dog, for these were killed at
once; but when spring came again and the days began to lengthen,
Glam's walkings grew less frequent, and Thorhall determined to return
to his homestead. He had difficulty in getting servants, but managed
to set up his home again at Thorhall-stead. Things went just as
before. When autumn came, the hauntings began again, and now it was
the yeoman's daughter who was most assailed, till in the end she died
of fright. Many plans were tried, but all to no effect, and it seemed
as if all Water-dale would be laid waste unless some remedy could be

"All this befell in the days of Grettir, the son of Asmund, who was
the strongest man of his day in Iceland. He had been abroad at this
time, outlawed for three years, and was only eighteen years of age
when he returned. He had been at home all through the autumn, but
when the winter nights were well advanced, he rode north to Water-
dale, and came to Tongue, where lived his uncle Jokull. His uncle
received him heartily, and he stayed there for three nights. At this
time there was so much talk about Glam's walkings, that nothing was so
largely spoken of as these. Grettir inquired closely about all that
had happened, and Jokull said that the stories told no more than had
indeed taken place; 'but are you intending to go there, kinsman?' said
he. Grettir answered that he was. Jokull bade him not do so, 'for it
is a dangerous undertaking, and a great risk for your friends to lose
you, for in our opinion there is not another like you among the young
men, and "ill will come of ill" where Glam is. Far better it is to
deal with mortal men than with such evil spirits.'

"Grettir, however, said that he had a mind to fare to Thorhall-stead,
and see how things had been going on there. Jokull replied: 'I see
now that it is of no use to hold you back, but the saying is true that
"good luck and good heart are not the same'". Grettir answered:
'"Woe stands at one man's door when it has entered another's house".
Think how it may go with yourself before the end.'

"'It may be,' said Jokull, 'that both of us see some way into the
future, and yet neither of us can do anything to prevent it.'

"After this they parted, and neither liked the other's forebodings.

"Grettir rode to Thorhall-stead, and the yeoman received him heartily.
He asked Grettir where he was going, who said that he wished to stay
there all night if he would allow him. Thorhall said that he would be
very glad if he would stay, 'but few men count it a gain to be guests
here for long. You must have heard how matters stand, and I shall be
very unwilling for you to come to any harm on my account. And even
although you yourself escape safe and sound, I know for certain that
you will lose your horse, for no man that comes here can keep that

"Grettir answered that there were horses enough to be got, whatever
might happen to this one. Thorhall was delighted that he was willing
to stay, and gave him the heartiest reception. The horse was strongly
secured in an out-house; then they went to sleep, and that night
passed without Glam appearing.

"'Your coming here,' said Thorhall, 'has made a happy change, for Glam
is in the habit of riding the house every night, or breaking up the
doors, as you may see for yourself.'

"'Then one of two things will happen,' said Grettir; 'either he will
not restrain himself for long, or the hauntings will cease for more
than one night. I shall stay for another night, and see how things

"After this they went to look at Grettir's horse, and found that he
had not been meddled with, so the yeoman thought that everything was
going on well, Grettir stayed another night, and still the thrall did
not come about them. Thorhall thought that things were looking
brighter, but when he went to look to Grettir's horse he found the
out-house broken up, the horse dragged outside, and every bone in it
broken. He told Grettir what had happened, and advised him to secure
his own safety, 'for your death is certain if you wait for Glam'.

"Grettir answered: 'The least I can get for my horse is to see the
thrall'. Thorhall replied that it would do him no good to see him,
'for he is unlike anything in human shape; but I am fain of every hour
that you are willing to stay here'.

"The day wore on, and when it was bed-time Grettir would not take off
his clothes, but lay down on the floor over against Thorhall's bed-
closet. He put a thick cloak above himself, buttoning one end beneath
his feet, and doubling the other under his head, while he looked out
at the hole for the neck. There was a strong plank in front of the
floored space, and against this he pressed his feet. The door-
fittings were all broken off from the outer door, but there was a
hurdle set up instead, and roughly secured. The wainscot that had
once stretched across the hall was all broken down, both above and
below the cross-beam. The beds were all pulled out of their places,
and everything was in confusion.

"A light was left burning in the hall, and when the third part of the
night was past Grettir heard loud noises outside. Then something went
up on top of the house, and rode above the hall, beating the roof with
its heels till every beam cracked. This went on for a long time; then
it came down off the house and went to the door. When this was opened
Grettir saw the thrall thrust in his head; ghastly big he seemed, and
wonderfully huge of feature. Glam came in slowly, and raised himself
up when he was inside the doorway, till he loomed up against the roof.
Then he turned his face down the hall, laid his arms on the cross-
beam, and glared all over the place. Thorhall gave no sign during all
this, for he thought it bad enough to hear what was going on outside.

"Grettir lay still and never moved. Glam saw that there was a bundle
lying on the floor, and moved further up the hall and grasped the
cloak firmly. Grettir placed his feet against the plank, and yielded
not the least. Glam tugged a second time, much harder than before,
but still the cloak did not move. A third time he pulled with both
his hands, so hard that he raised Grettir up from the floor, and now
they wrenched the cloak asunder between them. Glam stood staring at
the piece which he held in his hands, and wondering greatly who could
have pulled so hard against him. At that moment Grettir sprang in
under the monster's hands, and threw his arms around his waist,
intending to make him fall backwards. Glam, however, bore down upon
him so strongly that Grettir was forced to give way before him. He
then tried to stay himself against the seat-boards, but these gave way
with him, and everything that came in their path was broken.

"Glam wanted to get him outside, and although Grettir set his feet
against everything that he could, yet Glam succeeded in dragging him
out into the porch. There they had a fierce struggle, for the thrall
meant to have him out of doors, while Grettir saw that bad as it was
to deal with Glam inside the house it would be worse outside, and
therefore strove with all his might against being carried out. When
they came into the porch Glam put forth all his strength, and pulled
Grettir close to him. When Grettir saw that he could not stay himself
he suddenly changed his plan, and threw himself as hard as he could
against the monster's breast, setting both his feet against an earth-
fast stone that lay in the doorway. Glam was not prepared for this,
being then in the act of pulling Grettir towards him, so he fell
backwards and went crashing out through the door, his shoulders
catching the lintel as he fell. The roof of the porch was wrenched in
two, both rafters and frozen thatch, and backwards out of the house
went Glam, with Grettir above him.

"Outside there was bright moonshine and broken clouds, which sometimes
drifted over the moon and sometimes left it clear. At the moment when
Glam fell the cloud passed off the moon, and he cast up his eyes
sharply towards it; and Grettir himself said that this was the only
sight he ever saw that terrified him. Then Grettir grew so helpless,
both by reason of his weariness and at seeing Glam roll his eyes so
horribly, that he was unable to draw his dagger, and lay well-nigh
between life and death.

"But in this was Glam's might more fiendish than that of most other
ghosts, that he spoke in this fashion: 'Great eagerness have you
shown to meet me, Grettir, and little wonder will it be though you get
no great good fortune from me; but this I may tell you, that you have
now received only half of the strength and vigour that was destined
for you if you had not met with me. I cannot now take from you the
strength you have already gained, but this I can see to, that you will
never be stronger than you are now, and yet you are strong enough, as
many a man shall feel. Hitherto you have been famous for your deeds,
but henceforth you shall be a manslayer and an outlaw, and most of
your deeds will turn to your own hurt and misfortune. Outlawed you
shall be, and ever have a solitary life for your lot; and this, too, I
lay upon you, ever to see these eyes of mine before your own, and then
you will think it hard to be alone, and that will bring you to your

"When Glam had said this the faintness passed off Grettir, and he then
drew his dagger, cut off Glam's head, and laid it beside his thigh.
Thorhall then came out, having put on his clothes while Glam was
talking, but never venturing to come near until he had fallen. He
praised God, and thanked Grettir for overcoming the unclean spirit.
Then they set to work, and burned Glam to ashes, which they placed in
a sack, and buried where cattle were least likely to pasture or men to
tread. When this was done they went home again, and it was now near

"Thorhall sent to the next farm for the men there, and told them what
had taken place. All thought highly of the exploit that heard of it,
and it was the common talk that in all Iceland there was no man like
Grettir Asnundarson for strength and courage and all kinds of bodily
feats. Thorhall gave him a good horse when he went away, as well as a
fine suit of clothes, for the ones he had been wearing were all torn
to pieces. The two then parted with the utmost friendship.

"Thence Grettir rode to the Ridge in Water-dale, where his kinsman
Thorvald received him heartily, and asked closely concerning his
encounter with Glam. Grettir told him how he had fared, and said that
his strength was never put to harder proof, so long did the struggle
between them last. Thorvald bade him be quiet and gentle in his
conduct, and things would go well with him, otherwise his troubles
would be many. Grettir answered that his temper was not improved; he
was more easily roused than ever, and less able to bear opposition.
In this, too, he felt a great change, that he had become so much
afraid of the dark that he dared not go anywhere alone after night
began to fall, for then he saw phantoms and monsters of every kind.
So it has become a saying ever since then, when folk see things very
different from what they are, that Glam lends them his eyes, or gives
them glam-sight.

"This fear of solitude brought Grettir, at last, to his end."

Ghosts being seldom dangerous to human life, we follow up the
homicidal Glam with a Scottish traditional story of malevolent and
murderous sprites.


"About 1820 there lived a Farrier of the name of Keane in the village
of Longformacus in Lammermoor. He was a rough, passionate man, much
addicted to swearing. For many years he was farrier to the Eagle or
Spottiswood troop of Yeomanry. One day he went to Greenlaw to attend
the funeral of his sister, intending to be home early in the
afternoon. His wife and family were surprised when he did not appear
as they expected and they sat up watching for him. About two o'clock
in the morning a heavy weight was heard to fall against the door of
the house, and on opening it to see what was the matter, old Keane was
discovered lying in a fainting fit on the threshold. He was put to
bed and means used for his recovery, but when he came out of the fit
he was raving mad and talked of such frightful things that his family
were quite terrified. He continued till next day in the same state,
but at length his senses returned and he desired to see the minister

"After a long conversation with him he called all his family round his
bed, and required from each of his children and his wife a solemn
promise that they would none of them ever pass over a particular spot
in the moor between Longformacus and Greenlaw, known by the name of
'The Foul Fords' (it is the ford over a little water-course just east
of Castle Shields). He assigned no reason to them for this demand,
but the promise was given and he spoke no more, and died that evening.

"About ten years after his death, his eldest son Henry Keane had to go
to Greenlaw on business, and in the afternoon he prepared to return
home. The last person who saw him as he was leaving the town was the
blacksmith of Spottiswood, John Michie. He tried to persuade Michie
to accompany him home, which he refused to do as it would take him
several miles out of his way. Keane begged him most earnestly to go
with him as he said he _must_ pass the Foul Fords that night, and he
would rather go through hell-fire than do so. Michie asked him why he
said he _must_ pass the Foul Fords, as by going a few yards on either
side of them he might avoid them entirely. He persisted that he
_must_ pass them and Michie at last left him, a good deal surprised
that he should talk of going over the Foul Fords when every one knew
that he and his whole family were bound, by a promise to their dead
father, never to go by the place.

"Next morning a labouring man from Castle Shields, by name Adam
Redpath, was going to his work (digging sheep-drains on the moor),
when on the Foul Fords he met Henry Keane lying stone dead and with no
mark of violence on his body. His hat, coat, waistcoat, shoes and
stockings were lying at about 100 yards distance from him on the
Greenlaw side of the Fords, and while his flannel drawers were off and
lying with the rest of his clothes, his trousers were on. Mr. Ord,
the minister of Longformacus, told one or two persons what John Keane
(the father) had said to him on his deathbed, and by degrees the story
got abroad. It was this. Keane said that he was returning home
slowly after his sister's funeral, looking on the ground, when he was
suddenly roused by hearing the tramping of horses, and on looking up
he saw a large troop of riders coming towards him two and two. What
was his horror when he saw that one of the two foremost was the sister
whom he had that day seen buried at Greenlaw! On looking further he
saw many relations and friends long before dead; but when the two last
horses came up to him he saw that one was mounted by a dark man whose
face he had never seen before. He led the other horse, which, though
saddled and bridled, was riderless, and on this horse the whole
company wanted to compel Keane to get. He struggled violently, he
said, for some time, and at last got off by promising that one of his
family should go instead of him.

"There still lives at Longformacus his remaining son Robert; he has
the same horror of the Foul Fords that his brother had, and will not
speak, nor allow any one to speak to him on the subject.

"Three or four years ago a herd of the name of Burton was found dead
within a short distance of the spot, without any apparent cause for
his death." {272}

The Marvels at Froda

The following tale has all the direct simplicity and truth to human
nature which mark the ancient literature of Iceland. Defoe might have
envied the profusion of detail; "The large chest with a lock, and the
small box," and so on. Some of the minor portents, such as the
disturbances among inanimate objects, and the appearance of a glow of
mysterious light, "the Fate Moon," recur in modern tales of haunted
houses. The combination of Christian exorcism, then a novelty in
Iceland, with legal proceedings against the ghosts, is especially


During that summer in which Christianity was adopted by law in Iceland
(1000 A.D.), it happened that a ship came to land at Snowfell Ness.
It was a Dublin vessel, manned by Irish and Hebrideans, with few
Norsemen on board. They lay there for a long time during the summer,
waiting for a favourable wind to sail into the firth, and many people
from the Ness went down to trade with them. There was on board a
Hebridean woman named Thorgunna, of whom her shipmates said that she
owned some costly things, the like of which would be difficult to find
in Iceland. When Thurid, the housewife at Froda, heard of this she
was very curious to see the articles, for she was a woman that was
fond of show and finery. She went to the ship and asked Thorgunna
whether she had any woman's apparel that was finer than the common.
Thorgunna said that she had nothing of the kind to sell, but had some
good things of her own, that she might not be affronted at feasts or
other gatherings. Thurid begged a sight of these, and Thorgunna
showed her treasures. Thurid was much pleased with them, and thought
them very becoming, though not of high value. She offered to buy
them, but Thorgunna would not sell. Thurid then invited her to come
and stay with her, because she knew that Thorgunna was well provided,
and thought that she would get the things from her in course of time.

Thorgunna answered, "I am well pleased to go to stay with you, but you
must know that I have little mind to pay for myself, because I am well
able to work, and have no dislike to it, though I will not do any
dirty work. I must be allowed to settle what I shall pay for myself
out of such property as I have."

Although Thorgunna spoke in this fashion, yet Thurid would have her to
go with her, and her things were taken out of the ship; these were in
a large chest with a lock and a small box, and both were taken home to
Froda. When Thorgunna arrived there she asked for her bed to be shown
her, and was given one in the inner part of the hall. Then she opened
up the chest, and took bed-clothes out of it: they were all very
beautiful, and over the bed she spread English coverlets and a silken
quilt. Out of the chest she also brought a bed-curtain and all the
hangings that belonged to it, and the whole outfit was so fine that
folk thought they had never seen the like of it.

Then said Thurid the housewife: "Name the price of all your bed-
clothes and hangings".

Thorgunna answered, "I will not lie among straw for you, although you
are so stately, and bear yourself so proudly".

Thurid was ill pleased at this, and offered no more to buy the things.

Thorgunna worked at cloth-making every day when there was no hay-
making, but when the weather was dry she worked among the dry hay in
the home field, and had a rake made for herself which she alone was to
use. Thorgunna was a big woman, both broad and tall, and very stout;
she had dark eyebrows, and her eyes were close set; her hair brown and
in great abundance. She was well-mannered in her daily life, and went
to church every day before beginning her work, but she was not of a
light disposition nor of many words. Most people thought that
Thorgunna must be in the sixties, yet she was a very active woman.

At this time one Thorir "wooden-leg" and his wife Thorgrima "charm-
cheek" were being maintained at Froda, and there was little love
between them and Thorgunna. The person that she had most ado with was
Kjartan, the son of the house; him she loved much, but he was rather
cold towards her, and this often vexed her. Kjartan was then fifteen
years old, and was both big of body and manly in appearance.

The summer that year was very wet, but in the autumn there came dry
days. By this time the hay-work at Froda was so far advanced that all
the home field was mown, and nearly the half of it was quite dry.
There came then a fine dry day, clear and bright, with not a cloud to
be seen in all the sky. Thorodd, the yeoman, rose early in the
morning and arranged the work of each one; some began to cart off the
hay, and some to put it into stalks, while the women were set to toss
and dry it. Thorgunna also had her share assigned to her, and the
work went on well during the day. When it drew near to three in the
afternoon, a mass of dark clouds was seen rising in the north which
came rapidly across the sky and took its course right above the farm.
They thought it certain that there was rain in the cloud and Thorodd
bade his people rake the hay together; but Thorgunna continued to
scatter hers, in spite of the orders that were given. The clouds came
on quickly, and when they were above the homestead at Froda there came
such darkness with them that the people could see nothing beyond the
home field; indeed, they could scarcely distinguish their own hands.
Out of the cloud came so much rain that all the hay which was lying
flat was quite soaked. When the cloud had passed over and the sky
cleared again, it was seen that blood had fallen amid the rain. In
the evening there was a good draught, and the blood soon dried off all
the hay except that which Thorgunna had been working at; it did not
dry, nor did the rake that she had been using.

Thurid asked Thorgunna what she supposed this marvel might portend.
She said that she did not know, "but it seems to me most likely that
it is an evil omen for some person who is present here". In the
evening Thorgunna went home and took off her clothes, which had been
stained with the blood; then she lay down in her bed and breathed
heavily, and it was found that she was taken with sickness. The
shower had not fallen anywhere else than at Froda.

All that evening Thorgunna would taste no food. In the morning
Thorodd came to her and asked about her sickness, and what end she
thought it would have. She answered that she did not expect to have
any more illnesses. Then she said: "I consider you the wisest person
in the homestead here, and so I shall tell you what arrangements I
wish to make about the property that I leave behind me, and about
myself, for things will go as I tell you, though you think there is
nothing very remarkable about me. It will do you little good to
depart from my instructions, for this affair has so begun that it will
not pass smoothly off, unless strong measures are taken in dealing
with it."

Thorodd answered: "There seems to me great likelihood that your
forebodings will come true; and therefore," said he, "I shall promise
to you not to depart from your instructions".

"These are my arrangements," said Thorgunna, "that I will have myself
taken to Skalholt if I die of this sickness, for my mind forbodes me
that that place will some time or other be the most glorious spot in
this land. I know also that by now there are priests there to sing
the funeral service over me. So I ask you to have me carried thither,
and for that you shall take so much of my property that you suffer no
loss in the matter. Of my other effects, Thurid shall have the
scarlet cloak that I own, and I give it her so that she may readily
consent to my disposing of all the rest as I please. I have a gold
ring, and it shall go to the church with me; but as for my bed and
bed-hangings, I will have them burned with fire, because they will be
of service to no one. I do not say this because I grudge that any one
should possess these treasures, if I knew that they would be of use to
them; rather am I so earnest in the matter, because I should be sorry
for folk to fall into such trouble for me, as I know will be the case
if my words are not heeded."

Thorodd promised to do as she asked him, and after this Thorgunna's
sickness increased, so that she lay but few days before she died. The
body was first taken to the church, and Thorodd had a coffin made for
it. On the following day Thorodd had all the bed-clothes carried out
into the open air, and made a pile of wood beside them. Then Thurid
the housewife came up, and asked what he was going to do with the bed-
clothes. He answered that he was to burn them with fire, as Thorgunna
had directed him. "I will not have such treasures burned," said
Thurid. Thorodd answered: "She declared strongly that it would not
do to depart from what she said". "That was mere jealousy," said
Thurid; "she grudged any other person the use of them, and that was
why she gave these orders; but nothing terrible will happen though her
words are set aside." "I doubt," said he, "whether it will be well to
do otherwise than as she charged me."

Then Thurid laid her arms round his neck, and besought him not to burn
the furnishings of the bed, and so much did she press him in this that
his heart gave way to her, and she managed it so that Thorodd burned
the mattresses and pillows, while she took for herself the quilt and
coverlets and all the hangings. Yet neither of them was well pleased.

After this the funeral was made ready; trustworthy men were sent with
the body, and good horses which Thorodd owned. The body was wrapped
in linen, but not sewed up in it, and then laid in the coffin. After
this they held south over the heath as the paths go, and went on until
they came to a farm called Lower Ness, which lies in the Tongues of
Staf-holt. There they asked leave to stay over night, but the farmer
would give them no hospitality. However, as it was close on
nightfall, they did not see how they could go on, for they thought it
would be dangerous to deal with the White River by night. They
therefore unloaded their horses, and carried the body into an out-
house, after which they went into the sitting-room and took off their
outer clothes, intending to stay there over night without food.

The people of the house were going to bed by daylight, and after they
were in bed a great noise was heard in the kitchen. Some went to see
whether thieves had not broken in, and when they reached the kitchen
they saw there a tall woman. She was quite naked, with no clothes
whatever upon her, and was busy preparing food. Those who saw her
were so terrified that they dared not go near her at all. When the
funeral party heard of this they went thither, and saw what the matter
was--Thorgunna had come there, and it seemed advisable to them all not
to meddle with her. When she had done all that she wanted, she
brought the food into the room, set the tables and laid the food upon
them. Then the funeral party said to the farmer: "It may happen in
the end, before we part, that you will think it dearly bought that you
would show us no hospitality". Both the farmer and the housewife
answered: "We will willingly give you food, and do you all other
services that you require".

As soon as the farmer had offered them this, Thorgunna passed out of
the room into the kitchen, and then went outside, nor did she show
herself again. Then a light was kindled in the room, and the wet
clothes of the guests were taken off, and dry ones given them in their
place. After this they sat down at table, and blessed their food,
while the farmer had holy water sprinkled over all the house. The
guests ate their food, and it harmed no man, although Thorgunna had
prepared it. They slept there that night, and were treated with great

In the morning they continued their journey, and things went very
smoothly with them; wherever this affair was heard of, most people
thought it best to do them all the service that they required, and of
their journey no more is to be told. When they came to Skalholt, they
handed over the precious things which Thorgunna had sent thither: the
ring and other articles, all of which the priests gladly received.
Thorgunna was buried there, while the funeral party returned home,
which they all reached in safety.

At Froda there was a large hall with a fireplace in the midde, and a
bed-closet at the inner end of it, as was then the custom. At the
outer end were two store-closets, one on each side; dried fish were
piled in one of these, and there was meal in the other. In this hall
fires were kindled every evening, as was the custom, and folk sat
round these fires for a long while before they went to supper. On
that evening on which the funeral party came home, while the folk at
Froda were sitting round the fires, they saw a half-moon appear on the
panelling of the hall, and it was visible to all those who were
present. It went round the room backwards and against the sun's
course, nor did it disappear so long as they sat by the fires.
Thorodd asked Thorir Wooden-leg what this might portend. "It is the
Moon of Fate," said Thorir, "and deaths will come after it." This
went on all that week that the Fate-Moon came in every evening.

The next tidings that happened at Froda were that the shepherd came in
and was very silent; he spoke little, and that in a frenzied manner.
Folk were most inclined to believe that he had been bewitched, because
he went about by himself, and talked to himself. This went on for
some time, but one evening, when two weeks of winter had passed, the
shepherd came home, went to his bed, and lay down there. When they
went to him in the morning he was dead, and was buried at the church.

Soon after this there began great hauntings. One night Thorir Wooden-
leg went outside and was at some distance from the door. When he was
about to go in again, he saw that the shepherd had come between him
and the door. Thorir tried to get in, but the shepherd would not
allow him. Then Thorir tried to get away from him, but the shepherd
followed him, caught hold of him, and threw him down at the door. He
received great hurt from this, but was able to reach his bed; there he
turned black as coal, took sickness and died. He was also buried at
the church there, and after this both the shepherd and Thorir were
seen in company, at which all the folk became full of fear, as was to
be expected.

This also followed upon the burial of Thorir, that one of Thorodd's
men grew ill, and lay three nights before he died; then one died after
another, until six of them were gone. By this time the Christmas fast
had come, although the fast was not then kept in Iceland. The store-
closet, in which the dried fish were kept, was packed so full that the
door could not be opened; the pile reached nigh up to the rafters, and
a ladder was required to get the fish off the top of it. One evening
while the folk were sitting round the fires, the fish were torn, but
when search was made no living thing could be found there.

During the winter, a little before Christmas, Thorodd went out to Ness
for the fish he had there; there were six men in all in a ten-oared
boat, and they stayed out there all night. The same evening that
Thorodd went from home, it happened at Froda, when folk went to sit by
the fires that had been made, that they saw a seal's head rise up out
of the fireplace. A maid-servant was the first who came forward and
saw this marvel; she took a washing-bat which lay beside the door, and
struck the seal's head with this, but it rose up at the blow and gazed
at Thorgunna's bed-hangings. Then one of the men went up and beat the
seal, but it rose higher at every blow until it had come up above the
fins; then the man fell into a swoon, and all those who were present
were filled with fear. Then the lad Kjartan sprang forward, took up a
large iron sledge-hammer and struck at the seal's head; it was a heavy
blow, but it only shook its head, and looked round. Then Kjartan gave
it stroke after stroke, and the seal went down as though he were
driving in a stake. Kjartan hammered away till the seal went down so
far that he beat the floor close again above its head, and during the
rest of the winter all the portents were most afraid of Kjartan.

Next morning, while Thorodd and the others were coming in from Ness
with the fish, they were all lost out from Enni; the boat and the fish
drove on shore there, but the bodies were never found. When the news
of this reached Froda, Kjartan and Thurid invited their neighbours to
the funeral banquet, and the ale prepared for Christmas was used for
this purpose. The first evening of the feast, however, after the folk
had taken their seats, there came into the hall Thorodd and his
companions, all dripping wet. The folk greeted Thorodd well, thinking
this a good omen, for at that time it was firmly believed that drowned
men, who came to their own funeral feast, were well received by Ran,
the sea-goddess; and the old beliefs had as yet suffered little,
though folk were baptised and called Christians.

Thorodd and his fellows went right along the hall where the folk sat,
and passed into the one where the fires were, answering no man's
greeting. Those of the household who were in the hall ran out, and
Thorodd and his men sat down beside the fires, where they remained
till they had fallen into ashes; then they went away again. This
befel every evening while the banquet lasted, and there was much talk
about it among those who were present. Some thought that it would
stop when the feast was ended. When the banquet was over the guests
went home, leaving the place very dull and dismal.

On the evening after they had gone, the fires were kindled as usual,
and after they had burned up, there came in Thorodd with his company,
all of them wet. They sat down by the fire and began to wring their
clothes; and after they had sat down there came in Thorir Wooden-leg
and his five companions, all covered with earth. They shook their
clothes and scattered the earth on Thorodd and his fellows. The folk
of the household rushed out of the hall, as might be expected, and all
that evening they had no light nor any warmth from the fire.

Next evening the fires were made in the other hall, as the dead men
would be less likely to come there; but this was not so, for
everything happened just as it had done on the previous evening, and
both parties came to sit by the fires.

On the third evening Kjartan advised that a large fire should be made
in the hall, and a little fire in another and smaller room. This was
done, and things then went on in this fashion, that Thorodd and the
others sat beside the big fire, while the household contented
themselves with the little one, and this lasted right through

By this time there was more and more noise in the pile of fish, and
the sound of them being torn was heard both by night and day. Some
time after this it was necessary to take down some of the fish, and
the man who went up on the pile saw this strange thing, that up out of
the pile there came a tail, in appearance like a singed ox-tail. It
was black and covered with hair like a seal. The man laid hold of it
and pulled, and called on the others to come and help him. Others
then got up on the heap, both men and women, and pulled at the tail,
but all to no purpose. It seemed to them that the tail was dead, but
while they tugged at it, it flew out of their hands taking the skin
off the palms of those who had been holding it hardest, and no more
was ever seen of the tail. The fish were then taken up and every one
was found to be torn out of the skin, yet no living thing was to be
found in the pile.

Following upon this, Thorgrima Charm-cheek, the wife of Thorir Wooden-
leg, fell ill, and lay only a little while before she died, and the
same evening that she was buried she was seen in company with her
husband Thorir. The sickness then began a second time after the tail
had been seen, and now the women died more than the men. Another six
persons died in this attack, and some fled away on account of the
ghosts and the hauntings. In the autumn there had been thirty in the
household, of whom eighteen were dead, and five had run away, leaving
only seven behind in the spring.

When these marvels had reached this pitch, it happened one day that
Kjartan went to Helga-fell to see his uncle Snorri, and asked his
advice as to what should be done. There had then come to Helga-fell a
priest whom Gizurr the white had sent to Snorri, and this priest
Snorri sent to Froda along with Kjartan, his son Thord, and six other
men. He also gave them this advice, that they should burn all
Thorgunna's bed-hangings and hold a law court at the door, and there
prosecute all those men who were walking after death. He also bade
the priest hold service there, consecrate water, and confess the
people. They summoned men from the nearest farms to accompany them,
and arrived at Froda on the evening before Candlemas, just at the time
when the fires were being kindled. Thurid the housewife had then
taken the sickness after the same fashion as those who had died.
Kjartan went in at once, and saw that Thorodd and the others were
sitting by the fire as usual. He took down Thorgunna's bed-hangings,
went into the hall, and carried out a live coal from the fire: then
all the bed-gear that Thorgunna had owned was burned.

After this Kjartan summoned Thorir Wooden-leg, and Thord summoned
Thorodd, on the charge of going about the homestead without leave, and
depriving men of both health and life; all those who sat beside the
fire were summoned in the same way. Then a court was held at the
door, in which the charges were declared, and everything done as in a
regular law court; opinions were given, the case summed up, and
judgment passed. After sentence had been pronounced on Thorir Wooden-
leg, he rose up and said: "Now we have sat as long as we can bear".
After this he went out by the other door from that at which the court
was held. Then sentence was passed on the shepherd, and when he heard
it he stood up and said: "Now I shall go, and I think it would have
been better before". When Thorgrima heard sentence pronounced on her,
she rose up and said: "Now we have stayed while it could be borne".
Then one after another was summoned, and each stood up as judgment was
given upon him; all of them said something as they went out, and
showed that they were loath to part. Finally sentence was passed on
Thorodd himself, and when he heard it, he rose and said: "Little
peace I find here, and let us all flee now," and went out after that.
Then Kjartan and the others entered and the priest carried holy water
and sacred relics over all the house. Later on in the day he held
solemn service, and after this all the hauntings and ghost-walkings at
Froda ceased, while Thurid recovered from her sickness and became well


Spiritualistic Floating Hands. Hands in Haunted Houses. Jerome
Cardan's Tale. "The Cold Hand." The Beach-comber's Tale. "The Black
Dogs and the Thumbless Hand." The Pakeha Maori and "The Leprous
Hand". "The Hand of the Ghost that Bit."


Nothing was more common, in the seances of Home, the "Medium," than
the appearance of "Spirit hands". If these were made of white kid
gloves, stuffed, the idea, at least, was borrowed from ghost stories,
in which ghostly hands, with no visible bodies, are not unusual. We
see them in the Shchapoff case, at Rerrick, and in other haunted
houses. Here are some tales of Hands, old or new.


[Jerome Cardan, the famous physician, tells the following anecdote in
his De Rerum Varietate, lib. x., 93. Jerome only once heard a rapping
himself, at the time of the death of a friend at a distance. He was
in a terrible fright, and dared not leave his room all day.]

A story which my father used often to tell: "I was brought up," he
said, "in the house of Joannes Resta, and therein taught Latin to his
three sons; when I left them I supported myself on my own means. It
chanced that one of these lads, while I was studying medicine, fell
deadly sick, he being now a young man grown, and I was called in to be
with the youth, partly for my knowledge of medicine, partly for old
friendship's sake. The master of the house happened to be absent; the
patient slept in an upper chamber, one of his brothers and I in a
lower room, the third brother, Isidore, was not at home. Each of the
rooms was next to a turret; turrets being common in that city. When
we went to bed on the first night of my visit, I heard a constant
knocking on the wall of the room.

"'What is that?' I said.

"'Don't be afraid, it is only a familiar spirit,' said my companion.
'They call them follets; it is harmless enough, and seldom so
troublesome as it is now: I don't know what can be the matter with

"The young fellow went to sleep, but I was kept awake for a while,
wondering and observing. After half an hour of stillness I felt a
thumb press on my head, and a sense of cold. I kept watching; the
forefinger, the middle finger, and the rest of the hand were next laid
on, the little finger nearly reaching my forehead. The hand was like
that of a boy of ten, to guess by the size, and so cold that it was
extremely unpleasant. Meantime I was chuckling over my luck in such
an opportunity of witnessing a wonder, and I listened eagerly.

"The hand stole with the ring finger foremost over my face and down my
nose, it was slipping into my mouth, and two finger-tips had entered,
when I threw it off with my right hand, thinking it was uncanny, and
not relishing it inside my body. Silence followed and I lay awake,
distrusting the spectre more or less. In about half an hour it
returned and repeated its former conduct, touching me very lightly,
yet very chilly. When it reached my mouth I again drove it away.
Though my lips were tightly closed, I felt an extreme icy cold in my
teeth. I now got out of bed, thinking this might be a friendly visit
from the ghost of the sick lad upstairs, who must have died.

"As I went to the door, the thing passed before me, rapping on the
walls. When I was got to the door it knocked outside; when I opened
the door, it began to knock on the turret. The moon was shining; I
went on to see what would happen, but it beat on the other sides of
the tower, and, as it always evaded me, I went up to see how my
patient was. He was alive, but very weak.

"As I was speaking to those who stood about his bed, we heard a noise
as if the house was falling. In rushed my bedfellow, the brother of
the sick lad, half dead with terror.

"'When you got up,' he said, 'I felt a cold hand on my back. I
thought it was you who wanted to waken me and take me to see my
brother, so I pretended to be asleep and lay quiet, supposing that you
would go alone when you found me so sound asleep. But when I did not
feel you get up, and the cold hand grew to be more than I could bear,
I hit out to push your hand away, and felt your place empty--but warm.
Then I remembered the follet, and ran upstairs as hard as I could put
my feet to the ground: never was I in such a fright!'

"The sick lad died on the following night."

Here Carden the elder stopped, and Jerome, his son, philosophised on
the subject.

Miss Dendy, on the authority of Mr. Elijah Cope, an itinerant
preacher, gives this anecdote of similar familiarity with a follet in

* * * * *

"Fairies! I went into a farmhouse to stay a night, and in the evening
there came a knocking in the room as if some one had struck the table.
I jumped up. My hostess got up and 'Good-night,' says she, 'I'm off'.
'But what was it?' says I. 'Just a poor old fairy,' says she; 'Old
Nancy. She's a poor old thing; been here ever so long; lost her
husband and her children; it's bad to be left like that, all alone. I
leave a bit o' cake on the table for her, and sometimes she fetches
it, and sometimes she don't."


[Some years ago I published in a volume of tales called The Wrong
Paradise, a paper styled "My Friend the Beach-comber". This contained
genuine adventures of a kinsman, my oldest and most intimate friend,
who has passed much of his life in the Pacific, mainly in a foreign
colony, and in the wild New Hebrides. My friend is a man of
education, an artist, and a student of anthropology and ethnology.
Engaged on a work of scientific research, he has not committed any of
his innumerable adventures, warlike or wandering, to print. The
following "yarn" he sent to me lately, in a letter on some points of
native customs. Of course the description of the Beach-comber, in the
book referred to, is purely fictitious. The yarn of "The Thumbless
Hand" is here cast in a dialogue, but the whole of the strange
experience described is given in the words of the narrator. It should
be added that, though my friend was present at some amateur seances,
in a remote isle of the sea, he is not a spiritualist, never was one,
and has no theory to account for what occurred, and no belief in
"spooks" of any description. His faith is plighted to the theories of
Mr. Darwin, and that is his only superstition. The name of the
principal character in the yarn is, of course, fictitious. The real
name is an old but not a noble one in England.]

"Have the natives the custom of walking through fire?" said my friend
the Beach-comber, in answer to a question of mine. "Not that I know
of. In fact the soles of their feet are so thick-skinned that they
would think nothing of it."

"Then have they any spiritualistic games, like the Burmans and
Maories? I have a lot of yarns about them."

"They are too jolly well frightened of bush spirits to invite them to
tea," said the Beach-comber. "I knew a fellow who got a bit of land
merely by whistling up and down in it at nightfall. {292} They think
spirits whistle. No, I don't fancy they go in for seances. But we
once had some, we white men, in one of the islands. Not the Oui-ouis"
(native name for the French), "real white men. And that led to
Bolter's row with me."

"What about?"

"Oh, about his young woman. I told her the story; it was thoughtless,
and yet I don't know that I was wrong. After all, Bolter could not
have been a comfortable fellow to marry."

In this opinion readers of the Beach-comber's narrative will probably
agree, I fancy.

"Bad moral character?"

"Not that I know of. Queer fish; kept queer company. Even if she was
ever so fond of dogs, I don't think a girl would have cared for
Bolter's kennel. Not in her bedroom anyway."

"But she could surely have got him to keep them outside, however doggy
he was?"

"He was not doggy a bit. I don't know that Bolter ever saw the black
dogs himself. He certainly never told me so. It is that beastly
Thumbless Hand, no woman could have stood it, not to mention the
chance of catching cold when it pulled the blankets off."

"What on earth are you talking about? I can understand a man attended
by black dogs that nobody sees but himself. The Catholics tell it of
John Knox, and of another Reformer, a fellow called Smeaton.
Moreover, it is common in delirium tremens. But you say Bolter didn't
see the dogs?"

"No, not so far as he told me, but I did, and other fellows, when with
Bolter. Bolter was asleep; he didn't see anything. Also the Hand,
which was a good deal worse. I don't know if he ever saw it. But he
was jolly nervous, and he had heard of it."

The habits of the Beach-comber are absolutely temperate, otherwise my
astonishment would have been less, and I should have regarded all
these phenomena as subjective.

"Tell me about it all, old cock," I said.

"I'm sure I told you last time I was at home."

"Never; my memory for yarns is only too good. I hate a chestnut."

"Well, here goes! Mind you I don't profess to explain the thing; only
I don't think I did wrong in telling the young woman, for, however you
account for it, it was not nice."

"A good many years ago there came to the island, as a clerk, un nomme
Bolter, English or Jew."

"His name is not Jewish."

"No, and I really don't know about his breed. The most curious thing
about his appearance was his eyes: they were large, black, and had a
peculiar dull dead lustre."

"Did they shine in the dark? I knew a fellow at Oxford whose eyes
did. Chairs ran after him."

"I never noticed; I don't remember. 'Psychically,' as you
superstitious muffs call it, Bolter was still more queer. At that
time we were all gone on spirit-rapping. Bolter turned out a great
acquisition, 'medium,' or what not. Mind you, I'm not saying Bolter
was straight. In the dark he'd tell you what you had in your hand,
exact time of your watch, and so on. I didn't take stock in this, and
one night brought some photographs with me, and asked for a
description of them. This he gave correctly, winding up by saying,
'The one nearest your body is that of ---'"

Here my friend named a person well known to both of us, whose name I
prefer not to introduce here. This person, I may add, had never been
in or near the island, and was totally unknown to Bolter.

"Of course," my friend went on, "the photographs were all the time
inside my pocket. Now, really, Bolter had some mystic power of seeing
in the dark."

"Hyperaesthesia!" said I.

"Hypercriticism!" said the Beach-comber.

"What happened next _might_ be hyperaesthesia--I suppose you mean
abnormal intensity of the senses--but how could hyperaesthesia see
through a tweed coat and lining?"

"Well, what happened next?"

"Bolter's firm used to get sheep by every mail from ---, and send them
regularly to their station, six miles off. One time they landed late
in the afternoon, and yet were foolishly sent off, Bolter in charge.
I said at the time he would lose half the lot, as it would be dark
long before he could reach the station. He didn't lose them!

"Next day I met one of the niggers who was sent to lend him a hand,
and asked results.

"'Master,' said the nigger, 'Bolter is a devil! He sees at night.
When the sheep ran away to right or left in the dark, he told us where
to follow.'"

"He _heard_ them, I suppose," said I.

"Maybe, but you must be sharp to have sharper senses than these
niggers. Anyhow, that was not Bolter's account of it. When I saw him
and spoke to him he said simply, 'Yes, that when excited or interested
to seek or find anything in obscurity the object became covered with a
dim glow of light, which rendered it visible'. 'But things in a
pocket.' 'That also,' said he. 'Curious isn't it? Probably the
Rontgen rays are implicated therein, eh?'"

"Did you ever read Dr. Gregory's Letters on Animal Magnetism?"

"The cove that invented Gregory's Mixture?"


"Beast he must have been. No, I never read him."

"He says that Major Buckley's hypnotised subjects saw hidden objects
in a blue light--mottoes inside a nut, for example."

"Rontgen rays, for a fiver! But Bolter said nothing about seeing
_blue_ light. Well, after three or four seances Bolter used to be
very nervous and unwilling to sleep alone, so I once went with him to
his one-roomed hut. We turned into the same bed. I was awakened
later by a noise and movement in the room. Found the door open; the
full moon streaming in, making light like day, and the place full of
great big black dogs--well, anyhow there were four or five! They were
romping about, seemingly playing. One jumped on the bed, another
rubbed his muzzle on mine! (the bed was low, and I slept outside).
Now I never had anything but love for dogs of any kind, and as--n'est-
ce pas?--love casts out fear, I simply got up, turned them all out,
shut the door, and turned in again myself. Of course my idea was that
they were flesh and blood, and I allude to physical fear.

"I slept, but was anew awakened by a ghastly feeling that the blanket
was being dragged and creeping off the bed. I pulled it up again, but
anew began the slow movement of descent.

"Rather surprised, I pulled it up afresh and held it, and must have
dozed off, as I suppose. Awoke, to feel it being pulled again; it was
slipping, slipping, and then with a sudden, violent jerk it was thrown
on the floor. Il faut dire that during all this I had glanced several
times at Bolter, who seemed profoundly asleep. But now alarmed I
tried to wake him. In vain, he slept like the dead; his face, always
a pasty white, now like marble in the moonlight. After some
hesitation I put the blanket back on the bed and held it fast. The
pulling at once began and increased in strength, and I, by this time
thoroughly alarmed, put all my strength against it, and hung on like
grim death.

"To get a better hold I had taken a turn over my head (or perhaps
simply to hide), when suddenly I felt a pressure outside on my body,
and a movement like fingers--they gradually approached my head. Mad
with fear I chucked off the blanket, grasped a Hand, gazed on it for
one moment in silent horror, and threw it away! No wonder, it was
attached to no arm or body, it was hairy and dark coloured, the
fingers were short, blunt, with long, claw-like nails, and it was
minus a thumb! Too frightened to get up I had to stop in bed, and, I
suppose, fell to sleep again, after fresh vain attempts to awaken
Bolter. Next morning I told him about it. He said several men who
had thus passed the night with him had seen this hand. 'But,' added
he, 'it's lucky you didn't have the big black dogs also.' Tableau!

"I was to have slept again with him next night to look further into
the matter, but a friend of his came from --- that day, so I could not
renew the experiment, as I had fully determined to do. By-the-bye, I
was troubled for months after by the same feeling that the clothes
were being pulled off the bed.

"And that's the yarn of the Black Dogs and the Thumbless Hand."

"I think," said I, "that you did no harm in telling Bolter's young

"I never thought of it when I told her, or of her interest in the
kennel; but, by George, she soon broke off her engagement."

"Did you know Manning, the Pakeha Maori, the fellow who wrote Old New

"No, what about him?"

"He did not put it in his book, but he told the same yarn, without the
dogs, as having happened to himself. He saw the whole arm, and _the
hand was leprous_."

"Ugh!" said the Beach-comber.

"Next morning he was obliged to view the body of an old Maori, who had
been murdered in his garden the night before. That old man's hand was
the hand he saw. I know a room in an old house in England where
plucking off the bed-clothes goes on, every now and then, and has gone
on as long as the present occupants have been there. But I only heard
lately, and _they_ only heard from me, that the same thing used to
occur, in the same room and no other, in the last generation, when
another family lived there."

"Anybody see anything?"

"No, only footsteps are heard creeping up, before the twitches come

"And what do the people do?"

"Nothing! We set a camera once to photograph the spook. He did not

"It's rum!" said the Beach-comber. "But mind you, as to spooks, I
don't believe a word of it." {299}


The idiot Scotch laird in the story would not let the dentist put his
fingers into his mouth, "for I'm feared ye'll bite me". The following
anecdote proves that a ghost may entertain a better founded alarm on
this score. A correspondent of Notes and Queries (3rd Sept., 1864) is
responsible for the narrative, given "almost verbatim from the lips of
the lady herself," a person of tried veracity.

"Emma S---, one of seven children, was sleeping alone, with her face
towards the west, at a large house near C---, in the Staffordshire
moorlands. As she had given orders to her maid to call her at an
early hour, she was not surprised at being awakened between three and
four on a fine August morning in 1840 by a sharp tapping at her door,
when in spite of a "thank you, I hear," to the first and second raps,
with the third came a rush of wind, which caused the curtains to be
drawn up in the centre of the bed. She became annoyed, and sitting up
called out, "Marie, what are you about?"

Instead, however, of her servant, she was astonished to see the face
of an aunt by marriage peering above and between the curtains, and at
the same moment--whether unconsciously she threw forward her arms, or
whether they were drawn forward, as it were, in a vortex of air, she
cannot be sure--one of her thumbs was sensibly pressed between the
teeth of the apparition, though no mark afterwards remained on it.
All this notwithstanding, she remained collected and unalarmed; but
instantly arose, dressed, and went downstairs, where she found not a
creature stirring. Her father, on coming down shortly afterwards,
naturally asked what had made her rise so early; rallied her on the
cause, and soon afterwards went on to his sister-in-law's house, where
he found that she had just unexpectedly died. Coming back again, and
not noticing his daughter's presence in the room, in consequence of
her being behind a screen near the fire, he suddenly announced the
event to his wife, as being of so remarkable a character that he could
in no way account for it. As may be anticipated, Emma, overhearing
this unlooked-for denouement of her dream, at once fell to the ground
in a fainting condition.

_On one of the thumbs of the corpse was found a mark as if it had been
bitten in the death agony_. {300}

We have now followed the "ghostly" from its germs in dreams, and
momentary hallucinations of eye or ear, up to the most prodigious
narratives which popular invention has built on bases probably very
slight. Where facts and experience, whether real or hallucinatory
experience, end, where the mythopoeic fancy comes in, readers may
decide for themselves.


{0a} Principles of Psychology, vol. ii., p. 115. By Professor
William James, Harvard College, Macmillan's, London, 1890. The
physical processes believed to be involved, are described on pp. 123,
124 of the same work.

{0b} Op. cit., ii., 130.

{4} Story received from Miss ---; confirmed on inquiry by Drumquaigh.

{5a} Phantasms of the Living, ii., 382.

{5b} To "send" a dream the old Egyptians wrote it out and made a cat
swallow it!

{8} See "Queen Mary's Jewels" in chapter ii.

{10} Narrated by Mrs. Herbert.

{11a} Story confirmed by Mr. A.

{11b} This child had a more curious experience. Her nurse was very
ill, and of course did not sleep in the nursery. One morning the
little girl said, "Macpherson is better, I saw her come in last night
with a candle in her hand. She just stooped over me and then went to
Tom" (a younger brother) "and kissed him in his sleep." Macpherson
had died in the night, and her attendants, of course, protested
ignorance of her having left her deathbed.

{11c} Story received from Lady X. See another good case in
Proceedings of the Psychical Society, vol. xi., 1895, p. 397. In this
case, however, the finder was not nearer than forty rods to the person
who lost a watch in long grass. He assisted in the search, however,
and may have seen the watch unconsciously, in a moment of absence of
mind. Many other cases in Proceedings of S.P.R.

{13} Story received in a letter from the dreamer.

{16} Augustine. In Library of the Fathers, XVII. Short Treatises,
pp. 530-531.

{18} St. Augustine, De Cura pro Mortuis.

{20} The professor is not sure whether he spoke English or German.

{24} From Some Account of the Conversion of the late William Hone,
supplied by some friend of W. H. to compiler. Name not given.

{28} What is now called "mental telegraphy" or "telepathy" is quite
an old idea. Bacon calls it "sympathy" between two distant minds,
sympathy so strong that one communicates with the other without using
the recognised channels of the senses. Izaak Walton explains in the
same way Dr. Donne's vision, in Paris, of his wife and dead child.
"If two lutes are strung to an exact harmony, and one is struck, the
other sounds," argues Walton. Two minds may be as harmoniously
attuned and communicate each with each. Of course, in the case of the
lutes there are actual vibrations, physical facts. But we know
nothing of vibrations in the brain which can traverse space to another

Many experiments have been made in consciously transferring thoughts
or emotions from one mind to another. These are very liable to be
vitiated by bad observation, collusion and other causes. Meanwhile,
intercommunication between mind and mind without the aid of the
recognised senses--a supposed process of "telepathy"--is a current
explanation of the dreams in which knowledge is obtained that exists
in the mind of another person, and of the delusion by virtue of which
one person sees another who is perhaps dying, or in some other crisis,
at a distance. The idea is popular. A poor Highland woman wrote to
her son in Glasgow: "Don't be thinking too much of us, or I shall be
seeing you some evening in the byre". This is a simple expression of
the hypothesis of "telepathy" or "mental telegraphy".

{31} Perhaps among such papers as the Casket Letters, exhibited to
the Commission at Westminster, and "tabled" before the Scotch Privy

{35a} To Joseph himself she bequeathed the ruby tortoise given to her
by his brother. Probably the diamonds were not Rizzio's gift.

{35b} Boismont was a distinguished physician and "Mad Doctor," or
"Alienist". He was also a Christian, and opposed a tendency, not
uncommon in his time, as in ours, to regard all "hallucinations" as a
proof of mental disease in the "hallucinated".

{39a} S.P.R., v., 324.

{39b} Ibid., 324.

{42} Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. v., pp.
324, 325.

{43} Proceedings, S.P.R., vol. xi., p. 495.

{45a} Signed by Mr. Cooper and the Duchess of Hamilton.

{45b} See Galton, Inquiries into Human Faculty, p. 91.

{48} Proceedings, S.P.R., vol. xi., p. 522.

{50} The case was reported in the Herald (Dubuque) for 12th February,
1891. It was confirmed by Mr. Hoffman, by Mr. George Brown and by
Miss Conley, examined by the Rev. Mr. Crum, of Dubuque.--Proceedings,
S.P.R., viii., 200-205. Pat Conley, too, corroborated, and had no
theory of explanation. That the girl knew beforehand of the dollars
is conceivable, but she did not know of the change of clothes.

{56a} Told by the nobleman in question to the author.

{56b} The author knows some eight cases among his friends of a
solitary meaningless hallucination like this.

{58} As to the fact of such visions, I have so often seen crystal
gazing, and heard the pictures described by persons whose word I could
not doubt, men and women of unblemished character, free from
superstition, that I am obliged to believe in the fact as a real
though hallucinatory experience. Mr. Clodd attributes it to disorder
of the liver. If no more were needed I could "scry" famously!

{60a} Facts attested and signed by Mr. Baillie and Miss Preston.

{60b} Story told to me by both my friends and the secretary.

{62} Memoires, v., 120. Paris, 1829.

{66} Readers curious in crystal-gazing will find an interesting
sketch of the history of the practice, with many modern instances, in
Proceedings, S.P.R., vol. v., p. 486, by "Miss X.". There are also
experiments by Lord Stanhope and Dr. Gregory in Gregory's Letters on
Animal Magnetism, p. 370 (1851). It is said that, as sights may be

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