THE MYSTERIOUS BRIDE
A great number of people nowadays are beginning broadly to insinuate
that there are no such things as ghosts, or spiritual beings visible
to mortal sight. Even Sir Walter Scott is turned renegade, and, with
his stories made up of half-and-half, like Nathaniel Gow's toddy,
is trying to throw cold water on the most certain, though most
impalpable, phenomena of human nature. The bodies are daft. Heaven
mend their wits! Before they had ventured to assert such things, I
wish they had been where I have often been; or, in particular, where
the Laird of Birkendelly was on St. Lawrence's Eve, in the year 1777,
and sundry times subsequent to that.
Be it known, then, to every reader of this relation of facts that
happened in my own remembrance that the road from Birkendelly to the
great muckle village of Balmawhapple (commonly called the muckle town,
in opposition to the little town that stood on the other side of the
burn)—that road, I say, lay between two thorn-hedges, so well kept
by the Laird's hedger, so close, and so high, that a rabbit could not
have escaped from the highway into any of the adjoining fields. Along
this road was the Laird riding on the Eve of St. Lawrence, in a
careless, indifferent manner, with his hat to one side, and his cane
dancing a hornpipe before him. He was, moreover, chanting a song to
himself, and I have heard people tell what song it was too. There was
once a certain, or rather uncertain, bard, ycleped Robert Burns, who
made a number of good songs; but this that the Laird sang was an
amorous song of great antiquity, which, like all the said bard's best
songs, was sung one hundred and fifty years before he was born. It
"I am the Laird of Windy-wa's,
I cam nae here without a cause,
An' I hae gotten forty fa's
In coming o'er the knowe, joe.
The night it is baith wind and weet;
The morn it will be snaw and sleet;
My shoon are frozen to my feet;
O, rise an' let me in, joe!
Let me in this ae night," etc.
This song was the Laird singing, while, at the same time, he was
smudging and laughing at the catastrophe, when, ere ever aware, he
beheld, a short way before him, an uncommonly elegant and beautiful
girl walking in the same direction with him. "Aye," said the Laird to
himself, "here is something very attractive indeed! Where the deuce
can she have sprung from? She must have risen out of the earth, for I
never saw her till this breath. Well, I declare I have not seen such a
female figure—I wish I had such an assignation with her as the Laird
of Windy-wa's had with his sweetheart."
As the Laird was half-thinking, half-speaking this to himself, the
enchanting creature looked back at him with a motion of intelligence
that she knew what he was half-saying, half-thinking, and then
vanished over the summit of the rising ground before him, called the
Birky Brow. "Aye, go your ways!" said the Laird; "I see by you, you'll
not be very hard to overtake. You cannot get off the road, and I'll
have a chat with you before you make the Deer's Den."
The Laird jogged on. He did not sing the Laird of Windy-wa's any
more, for he felt a stifling about his heart; but he often repeated to
himself, "She's a very fine woman!—a very fine woman indeed!—and to
be walking here by herself! I cannot comprehend it."
When he reached the summit of the Birky Brow he did not see her,
although he had a longer view of the road than before. He thought this
very singular, and began to suspect that she wanted to escape him,
although apparently rather lingering on him before. "I shall have
another look at her, however," thought the Laird, and off he set at a
flying trot. No. He came first to one turn, then another. There was
nothing of the young lady to be seen. "Unless she take wings and fly
away, I shall be up with her," quoth the Laird, and off he set at the
In the middle of his career he met with Mr. McMurdie, of Aulton, who
hailed him with, "Hilloa, Birkendelly! Where the deuce are you flying
at that rate?"
"I was riding after a woman," said the Laird, with great simplicity,
reining in his steed.
"Then I am sure no woman on earth can long escape you, unless she be
in an air balloon."
"I don't know that. Is she far gone?"
"In which way do you mean?"
"Aha-ha-ha! Hee-hee-hee!" nichered McMurdie, misconstruing the Laird's
"What do you laugh at, my dear sir? Do you know her, then?"
"Ho-ho-ho! Hee-hee-hee! How should I, or how can I, know her,
Birkendelly, unless you inform me who she is?"
"Why, that is the very thing I want to know of you. I mean the young
lady whom you met just now."
"You are raving, Birkendelly. I met no young lady, nor is there a
single person on the road I have come by, while you know that for a
mile and a half forward your way she could not get out of it."
"I know that," said the Laird, biting his lip and looking greatly
puzzled; "but confound me if I understand this; for I was within
speech of her just now on the top of the Birky Brow there, and, when I
think of it, she could not have been even thus far as yet. She had on
a pure white gauze frock, a small green bonnet and feathers, and a
green veil, which, flung back over her left shoulder, hung below her
waist, and was altogether such an engaging figure that no man could
have passed her on the road without taking some note of her. Are you
not making game of me? Did you not really meet with her?"
"On my word of truth and honor, I did not. Come, ride back with me,
and we shall meet her still, depend on it. She has given you the go-by
on the road. Let us go; I am only to call at the mill about some
barley for the distillery, and will return with you to the big town."
Birkendelly returned with his friend. The sun was not yet set, yet
M'Murdie could not help observing that the Laird looked thoughtful
and confused, and not a word could he speak about anything save this
lovely apparition with the white frock and the green veil; and lo!
when they reached the top of Birky Brow there was the maiden again
before them, and exactly at the same spot where the Laird first saw
her before, only walking in the contrary direction.
"Well, this is the most extraordinary thing that I ever knew!"
exclaimed the Laird.
"What is it, sir?" said M'Murdie.
"How that young lady could have eluded me," returned the Laird. "See,
here she is still!"
"I beg your pardon, sir, I don't see her. Where is she?"
"There, on the other side of the angle; but you are shortsighted. See,
there she is ascending the other eminence in her white frock and green
veil, as I told you. What a lovely creature!"
"Well, well, we have her fairly before us now, and shall see what she
is like at all events," said McMurdie.
Between the Birky Brow and this other slight eminence there is an
obtuse angle of the road at the part where it is lowest, and, in
passing this, the two friends necessarily lost sight of the object
of their curiosity. They pushed on at a quick pace, cleared the low
angle—the maiden was not there! They rode full speed to the top of
the eminence from whence a long extent of road was visible before
them—there was no human creature in view. McMurdie laughed aloud, but
the Laird turned pale as death and bit his lip. His friend asked him
good-humoredly why he was so much affected. He said, because he could
not comprehend the meaning of this singular apparition or illusion,
and it troubled him the more as he now remembered a dream of the same
nature which he had, and which terminated in a dreadful manner.
"Why, man, you are dreaming still," said McMurdie. "But never mind;
it is quite common for men of your complexion to dream of beautiful
maidens with white frocks, and green veils, bonnets, feathers, and
slender waists. It is a lovely image, the creation of your own
sanguine imagination, and you may worship it without any blame. Were
her shoes black or green? And her stockings—did you note them? The
symmetry of the limbs, I am sure you did! Good-bye; I see you are not
disposed to leave the spot. Perhaps she will appear to you again."
So saying, McMurdie rode on toward the mill, and Birkendelly, after
musing for some time, turned his beast's head slowly round, and began
to move toward the great muckle village.
The Laird's feelings were now in terrible commotion. He was taken
beyond measure with the beauty and elegance of the figure he had seen,
but he remembered, with a mixture of admiration and horror, that a
dream of the same enchanting object had haunted his slumbers all
the days of his life; yet, how singular that he should never have
recollected the circumstance till now! But farther, with the dream
there were connected some painful circumstances which, though terrible
in their issue, he could not recollect so as to form them into any
degree of arrangement.
As he was considering deeply of these things and riding slowly down
the declivity, neither dancing his cane nor singing the Laird of
Windy-wa's, he lifted up his eyes, and there was the girl on the same
spot where he saw her first, walking deliberately up the Birky Brow.
The sun was down, but it was the month of August and a fine evening,
and the Laird, seized with an unconquerable desire to see and speak
with that incomparable creature, could restrain himself no longer, but
shouted out to her to stop till he came up. She beckoned acquiescence,
and slackened her pace into a slow movement. The Laird turned the
corner quickly, but when he had rounded it the maiden was still there,
though on the summit of the brow. She turned round, and, with an
ineffable smile and curtsy, saluted him, and again moved slowly on.
She vanished gradually beyond the summit, and while the green feathers
were still nodding in view, and so nigh that the Laird could have
touched them with a fishing-rod, he reached the top of the brow
himself. There was no living soul there, nor onward, as far as his
view reached. He now trembled in every limb, and, without knowing what
he did, rode straight on to the big town, not daring well to return
and see what he had seen for three several times; and certain he would
see it again when the shades of evening were deepening, he deemed
it proper and prudent to decline the pursuit of such a phantom any
He alighted at the Queen's Head, called for some brandy and water,
quite forgot what was his errand to the great muckle town that
afternoon, there being nothing visible to his mental sight but lovely
images, with white gauze frocks and green veils. His friend M'Murdie
joined him; they drank deep, bantered, reasoned, got angry, reasoned
themselves calm again, and still all would not do. The Laird was
conscious that he had seen the beautiful apparition, and, moreover,
that she was the very maiden, or the resemblance of her, who, in the
irrevocable decrees of Providence, was destined to be his. It was in
vain that M'Murdie reasoned of impressions on the imagination, and
"Of fancy moulding in the mind,
Light visions on the passing wind."
Vain also was a story that he told him of a relation of his own, who
was greatly harassed by the apparition of an officer in a red uniform
that haunted him day and night, and had very nigh put him quite
distracted several times, till at length his physician found out the
nature of this illusion so well that he knew, from the state of his
pulse, to an hour when the ghost of the officer would appear, and by
bleeding, low diet, and emollients contrived to keep the apparition
The Laird admitted the singularity of this incident, but not that it
was one in point; for the one, he said, was imaginary, the other
real, and that no conclusions could convince him in opposition to the
authority of his own senses. He accepted of an invitation to spend
a few days with M'Murdie and his family, but they all acknowledged
afterward that the Laird was very much like one bewitched.
As soon as he reached home he went straight to the Birky Brow, certain
of seeing once more the angelic phantom, but she was not there. He
took each of his former positions again and again, but the desired
vision would in no wise make its appearance. He tried every day
and every hour of the day, all with the same effect, till he grew
absolutely desperate, and had the audacity to kneel on the spot and
entreat of Heaven to see her. Yes, he called on Heaven to see her once
more, whatever she was, whether a being of earth, heaven, or hell.
He was now in such a state of excitement that he could not exist; he
grew listless, impatient, and sickly, took to his bed, and sent for
M'Murdie and the doctor; and the issue of the consultation was that
Birkendelly consented to leave the country for a season, on a visit to
his only sister in Ireland, whither we must accompany him for a short
His sister was married to Captain Bryan, younger, of Scoresby, and
they two lived in a cottage on the estate, and the Captain's parents
and sisters at Scoresby Hall. Great was the stir and preparation when
the gallant young Laird of Birkendelly arrived at the cottage,
it never being doubted that he came to forward a second bond of
connection with the family, which still contained seven dashing
sisters, all unmarried, and all alike willing to change that solitary
and helpless state for the envied one of matrimony—a state highly
popular among the young women of Ireland. Some of the Misses Bryan
had now reached the years of womanhood, several of them scarcely, but
these small disqualifications made no difference in the estimation of
the young ladies themselves; each and all of them brushed up for the
competition with high hopes and unflinching resolutions. True,
the elder ones tried to check the younger in their good-natured,
forthright Irish way; but they retorted, and persisted in their
superior pretensions. Then there was such shopping in the county town!
It was so boundless that the credit of the Hall was finally exhausted,
and the old Squire was driven to remark that "Och, and to be sure it
was a dreadful and tirrabell concussion, to be put upon the equipment
of seven daughters all at the same moment, as if the young gentleman
could marry them all! Och, then, poor dear shoul, he would be after
finding that one was sufficient, if not one too many. And therefore
there was no occasion, none at all, at all, and that there was not,
for any of them to rig out more than one."
It was hinted that the Laird had some reason for complaint at this
time, but as the lady sided with her daughters, he had no chance. One
of the items of his account was thirty-seven buckling-combs, then
greatly in vogue. There were black combs, pale combs, yellow combs,
and gilt ones, all to suit or set off various complexions; and if
other articles bore any proportion at all to these, it had been better
for the Laird and all his family that Birkendelly had never set foot
The plan was all concocted. There was to be a grand dinner at the
Hall, at which the damsels were to appear in all their finery. A ball
to follow, and note be taken which of the young ladies was their
guest's choice, and measures taken accordingly. The dinner and
the ball took place; and what a pity I may not describe that
entertainment, the dresses, and the dancers, for they were all
exquisite in their way, and outré beyond measure. But such details
only serve to derange a winter evening's tale such as this.
Birkendelly having at this time but one model for his choice among
womankind, all that ever he did while in the presence of ladies was to
look out for some resemblance to her, the angel of his fancy; and it
so happened that in one of old Bryan's daughters named Luna, or,
more familiarly, Loony, he perceived, or thought he perceived, some
imaginary similarity in form and air to the lovely apparition. This
was the sole reason why he was incapable of taking his eyes off from
her the whole of that night; and this incident settled the point, not
only with the old people, but even the young ladies were forced, after
every exertion on their own parts, to "yild the p'int to their sister
Loony, who certainly was not the mist genteelest nor mist handsomest
of that guid-lucking fimily."
The next day Lady Luna was dispatched off to the cottage in grand
style, there to live hand in glove with her supposed lover. There was
no standing all this. There were the two parrocked together, like a
ewe and a lamb, early and late; and though the Laird really appeared
to have, and probably had, some delight in her company, it was only in
contemplating that certain indefinable air of resemblance which she
bore to the sole image impressed on his heart. He bought her a white
gauze frock, a green bonnet and feather, with a veil, which she was
obliged to wear thrown over her left shoulder, and every day after,
six times a day, was she obliged to walk over a certain eminence at a
certain distance before her lover. She was delighted to oblige him;
but still, when he came up, he looked disappointed, and never said,
"Luna, I love you; when are we to be married?" No, he never said any
such thing, for all her looks and expressions of fondest love; for,
alas! in all this dalliance he was only feeding a mysterious flame
that preyed upon his vitals, and proved too severe for the powers
either of reason or religion to extinguish. Still, time flew lighter
and lighter by, his health was restored, the bloom of his cheek
returned, and the frank and simple confidence of Luna had a certain
charm with it that reconciled him to his sister's Irish economy. But a
strange incident now happened to him which deranged all his immediate
He was returning from angling one evening, a little before sunset,
when he saw Lady Luna awaiting him on his way home. But instead of
brushing up to meet him as usual, she turned, and walked up the rising
ground before him. "Poor sweet girl! how condescending she is," said
he to himself, "and how like she is in reality to the angelic being
whose form and features are so deeply impressed on my heart! I now see
it is no fond or fancied resemblance. It is real! real! real! How I
long to clasp her in my arms, and tell her how I love her; for, after
all, that is the girl that is to be mine, and the former a vision to
impress this the more on my heart."
He posted up the ascent to overtake her. When at the top she turned,
smiled, and curtsied. Good heavens! it was the identical lady of his
fondest adoration herself, but lovelier, far lovelier, than ever. He
expected every moment that she would vanish, as was her wont; but she
did not—she awaited him, and received his embraces with open arms.
She was a being of real flesh and blood, courteous, elegant, and
affectionate. He kissed her hand, he kissed her glowing cheek, and
blessed all the powers of love who had thus restored her to him again,
after undergoing pangs of love such as man never suffered.
"But, dearest heart, here we are standing in the middle of the
highway," said he; "suffer me to conduct you to my sister's house,
where you shall have an apartment with a child of nature having some
slight resemblance to yourself." She smiled, and said, "No, I will not
sleep with Lady Luna to-night. Will you please to look round you, and
see where you are." He did so, and behold they were standing on the
Birky Brow, on the only spot where he had ever seen her. She smiled at
his embarrassed look, and asked if he did not remember aught of his
coming over from Ireland. He said he thought he did remember something
of it, but love with him had long absorbed every other sense. He then
asked her to his own house, which she declined, saying she could only
meet him on that spot till after their marriage, which could not be
before St. Lawrence's Eve come three years. "And now," said she, "we
must part. My name is Jane Ogilvie, and you were betrothed to me
before you were born. But I am come to release you this evening, if
you have the slightest objection."
He declared he had none; and kneeling, swore the most solemn oath to
be hers forever, and to meet her there on St. Lawrence's Eve next,
and every St. Lawrence's Eve until that blessed day on which she had
consented to make him happy by becoming his own forever. She then
asked him affectionately to change rings with her, in pledge of their
faith and troth, in which he joyfully acquiesced; for she could not
have then asked any conditions which, in the fulness of his heart's
love, he would not have granted; and after one fond and affectionate
kiss, and repeating all their engagements over again, they parted.
Birkendelly's heart was now melted within him, and all his senses
overpowered by one overwhelming passion. On leaving his fair and kind
one, he got bewildered, and could not find the road to his own house,
believing sometimes that he was going there, and sometimes to his
sister's, till at length he came, as he thought, upon the Liffey, at
its junction with Loch Allan; and there, in attempting to call for a
boat, he awoke from a profound sleep, and found himself lying in his
bed within his sister's house, and the day sky just breaking.
If he was puzzled to account for some things in the course of his
dream, he was much more puzzled to account for them now that he was
wide awake. He was sensible that he had met his love, had embraced,
kissed, and exchanged vows and rings with her, and, in token of the
truth and reality of all these, her emerald ring was on his finger,
and his own away; so there was no doubt that they had met—by what
means it was beyond the power of man to calculate.
There was then living with Mrs. Bryan an old Scotswoman, commonly
styled Lucky Black. She had nursed Birkendelly's mother, and been
dry-nurse to himself and sister; and having more than a mother's
attachment for the latter, when she was married, old Lucky left her
country to spend the last of her days in the house of her beloved
young lady. When the Laird entered the breakfast-parlor that morning
she was sitting in her black velvet hood, as usual, reading The
Fourfold State of Man, and, being paralytic and somewhat deaf, she
seldom regarded those who went or came. But chancing to hear him say
something about the 9th of August, she quitted reading, turned round
her head to listen, and then asked, in a hoarse, tremulous voice:
"What's that he's saying? What's the unlucky callant saying about the
9th of August? Aih? To be sure it is St. Lawrence's Eve, although the
10th be his day. It's ower true, ower true, ower true for him an' a'
his kin, poor man! Aih? What was he saying then?"
The men smiled at her incoherent earnestness, but the lady, with true
feminine condescension, informed her, in a loud voice, that Allan had
an engagement in Scotland on St. Lawrence's Eve. She then started up,
extended her shrivelled hands, that shook like the aspen, and panted
out: "Aih, aih? Lord preserve us! Whaten an engagement has he on St.
Lawrence's Eve? Bind him! bind him! Shackle him wi' bands of steel,
and of brass, and of iron! O may He whose blessed will was pleased
to leave him an orphan sae soon, preserve him from the fate which I
tremble to think on!"
She then tottered round the table, as with supernatural energy, and
seizing the Laird's right hand, she drew it close to her unstable
eyes, and then perceiving the emerald ring chased in blood, she threw
up her arms with a jerk, opened her skinny jaws with a fearful gape,
and uttering a shriek that made all the house yell, and every one
within it to tremble, she fell back lifeless and rigid on the floor.
The gentlemen both fled, out of sheer terror; but a woman never
deserts her friends in extremity. The lady called her maids about her,
had her old nurse conveyed to bed, where every means were used to
restore animation. But, alas, life was extinct! The vital spark
had fled forever, which filled all their hearts with grief,
disappointment, and horror, as some dreadful tale of mystery was now
sealed up from their knowledge which, in all likelihood, no other
could reveal. But to say the truth, the Laird did not seem greatly
disposed to probe it to the bottom.
Not all the arguments of Captain Bryan and his lady, nor the simple
entreaties of Lady Luna, could induce Birkendelly to put off his
engagement to meet his love on the Birky Brow on the evening of the
9th of August; but he promised soon to return, pretending that some
business of the utmost importance called him away. Before he went,
however, he asked his sister if ever she had heard of such a lady in
Scotland as Jane Ogilvie. Mrs. Bryan repeated the name many times to
herself, and said that name undoubtedly was once familiar to her,
although she thought not for good, but at that moment she did not
recollect one single individual of the name. He then showed her the
emerald ring that had been the death of Lucky Black; but the moment
the lady looked at it, she made a grasp at it to take it off by force,
which she had very nearly effected. "Oh, burn it! burn it!" cried she;
"it is not a right ring! Burn it!"
"My dear sister, what fault is in the ring?" said he. "It is a very
pretty ring, and one that I set great value by."
"Oh, for Heaven's sake, burn it, and renounce the giver!" cried she.
"If you have any regard for your peace here or your soul's welfare
hereafter, burn that ring! If you saw with your own eyes, you would
easily perceive that that is not a ring befitting a Christian to
This speech confounded Birkendelly a good deal. He retired by himself
and examined the ring, and could see nothing in it unbecoming a
Christian to wear. It was a chased gold ring, with a bright emerald,
which last had a red foil, in some lights giving it a purple gleam,
and inside was engraven "Elegit," much defaced, but that his
sister could not see; therefore he could not comprehend her vehement
injunctions concerning it. But that it might no more give her offence,
or any other, he sewed it within his vest, opposite his heart, judging
that there was something in it which his eyes were withholden from
Thus he left Ireland with his mind in great confusion, groping his
way, as it were, in a hole of mystery, yet with the passion that
preyed on his heart and vitals more intense than ever. He seems to
have had an impression all his life that some mysterious fate awaited
him, which the correspondence of his dreams and day visions tended
to confirm. And though he gave himself wholly up to the sway of one
overpowering passion, it was not without some yearnings of soul,
manifestations of terror, and so much earthly shame, that he never
more mentioned his love, or his engagements, to any human being, not
even to his friend M'Murdie, whose company he forthwith shunned.
It is on this account that I am unable to relate what passed between
the lovers thenceforward. It is certain they met at the Birky Brow
that St. Lawrence's Eve, for they were seen in company together; but
of the engagements, vows, or dalliance that passed between them I can
say nothing; nor of all their future meetings, until the beginning of
August, 1781, when the Laird began decidedly to make preparations for
his approaching marriage; yet not as if he and his betrothed had been
to reside at Birkendelly, all his provisions rather bespeaking a
On the morning of the 9th he wrote to his sister, and then arraying
himself in his new wedding suit, and putting the emerald ring on his
finger, he appeared all impatience, until toward evening, when he
sallied out on horseback to his appointment. It seems that his
mysterious inamorata had met him, for he was seen riding through the
big town before sunset, with a young lady behind him, dressed in white
and green, and the villagers affirmed that they were riding at the
rate of fifty miles an hour! They were seen to pass a cottage called
Mosskilt, ten miles farther on, where there was no highway, at the
same tremendous speed; and I could never hear that they were any more
seen, until the following morning, when Birkendelly's fine bay horse
was found lying dead at his own stable door; and shortly after his
master was likewise discovered lying, a blackened corpse, on the Birky
Brow at the very spot where the mysterious but lovely dame had always
appeared to him. There was neither wound, bruise, nor dislocation in
his whole frame; but his skin was of a livid color, and his features
This woful catastrophe struck the neighborhood with great
consternation, so that nothing else was talked of. Every ancient
tradition and modern incident were raked together, compared, and
combined; and certainly a most rare concatenation of misfortunes was
elicited. It was authenticated that his father had died on the same
spot that day twenty years, and his grandfather that day forty years,
the former, as was supposed, by a fall from his horse when in liquor,
and the latter, nobody knew how; and now this Allan was the last of
his race, for Mrs. Bryan had no children.
It was, moreover, now remembered by many, and among the rest by the
Rev. Joseph Taylor, that he had frequently observed a young lady, in
white and green, sauntering about the spot on a St. Lawrence's Eve.
When Captain Bryan and his lady arrived to take possession of the
premises, they instituted a strict inquiry into every circumstance;
but nothing further than what was related to them by Mr. M'Murdie
could be learned of this Mysterious Bride, besides what the Laird's
own letter bore. It ran thus:
"DEAREST SISTER,—I shall before this time to-morrow be the most
happy, or most miserable, of mankind, having solemnly engaged myself
this night to wed a young and beautiful lady, named Jane Ogilvie, to
whom it seems I was betrothed before I was born. Our correspondence
has been of a most private and mysterious nature; but my troth is
pledged, and my resolution fixed. We set out on a far journey to the
place of her abode on the nuptial eve, so that it will be long before
I see you again. Yours till death,
"ALLAN GEORGE SANDISON.
"BIRKENDELLY, August 8, 1781."
That very same year, an old woman, named Marion Haw, was returned upon
that, her native parish, from Glasgow. She had led a migratory life
with her son—who was what he called a bell-hanger, but in fact a
tinker of the worst grade—for many years, and was at last returned
to the muckle town in a state of great destitution. She gave the
parishioners a history of the Mysterious Bride, so plausibly correct,
but withal so romantic, that everybody said of it (as is often said of
my narratives, with the same narrow-minded prejudice and injustice)
that it was a made story. There were, however, some strong
testimonies of its veracity.
She said the first Allan Sandison, who married the great heiress of
Birkendelly, was previously engaged to a beautiful young lady named
Jane Ogilvie, to whom he gave anything but fair play; and, as she
believed, either murdered her, or caused her to be murdered, in the
midst of a thicket of birch and broom, at a spot which she mentioned;
and she had good reason for believing so, as she had seen the red
blood and the new grave, when she was a little girl, and ran home and
mentioned it to her grandfather, who charged her as she valued her
life never to mention that again, as it was only the nombles and hide
of a deer which he himself had buried there. But when, twenty years
subsequent to that, the wicked and unhappy Allan Sandison was found
dead on that very spot, and lying across the green mound, then nearly
level with the surface, which she had once seen a new grave, she then
for the first time ever thought of a Divine Providence; and she added,
"For my grandfather, Neddy Haw, he dee'd too; there's naebody kens
how, nor ever shall."
As they were quite incapable of conceiving from Marion's description
anything of the spot, Mr. M'Murdie caused her to be taken out to the
Birky Brow in a cart, accompanied by Mr. Taylor and some hundreds of
the town's folks; but whenever she saw it, she said, "Aha, birkies!
the haill kintra's altered now. There was nae road here then; it gaed
straight ower the tap o' the hill. An' let me see—there's the thorn
where the cushats biggit; an' there's the auld birk that I ance fell
aff an' left my shoe sticking i' the cleft. I can tell ye, birkies,
either the deer's grave or bonny Jane Ogilvie's is no twa yards aff
the place where that horse's hind-feet are standin'; sae ye may howk,
an' see if there be ony remains."
The minister and M'Murdie and all the people stared at one another,
for they had purposely caused the horse to stand still on the very
spot where both the father and son had been found dead. They digged,
and deep, deep below the road they found part of the slender bones
and skull of a young female, which they deposited decently in the
church-yard. The family of the Sandisons is extinct, the Mysterious
Bride appears no more on the Eve of St. Lawrence, and the wicked
people of the great muckle village have got a lesson on divine justice
written to them in lines of blood.