Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/858
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
existence, shrink from obtruding themselves on public notice. If, however, churchyards have somewhat abated their terrors, it is as aforesaid owing to no decay of superstition; for certain lonely lanes or portions of roads supposed to be more or less haunted are still only willingly traversed in company or by daylight. And the peculiarity of these places is that they seldom, if ever, are the "walk" of any definite specter. The rustic, if he will talk on the subject at all, will tell you that he "have heard tell there's summat," but what "Summat" is, having no idea on the subject, he will certainly not attempt to express one; meanwhile "Summat" gallantly holds his allotted territory, and causes the belated villager to commit various acts of trespass in order to avoid Tom Tidler's ground.
"Summat" unfortunately does not always choose to live out-of-doors, as a landlord may find to his cost. Old farmhouses not unfrequently have a chamber set apart for the residence of this vaguest of phantoms; and as the growing-up family requires more room, the tenant will ask for partitions or fresh building rather than disturb "Summat" in his dusty though inhabitable apartment. A little way up the glen of Rothes, in Morayshire, is a large hillock, locally known as the "Doonie." A few years ago, and probably to this day, it had the reputation of being no canny after dusk. A Scotch " Summat " graced it with his presence, though in this particular instance he was probably originally inducted by illicit distillers, who sought his protection against disturbance in their business.
The old conventionally haunted family mansion, though fairly holding its own among the tenets of rustic superstition, does not—inasmuch as it is not open to the public—greatly exercise the rustic mind. The White Lady appears only on special occasions, the wheels of the invisible carriage rumble up only to that one door, and in neither case does the phenomenon bode evil to aught but the lawful proprietors of the ghost, though it is a drawback to service which has to be duly considered in the domestics' wages. Yet is there a country house we wot of in the west, where the atmosphere was so full of supernatural electricity, and so light a friction was necessary to secure its discharge, that the place acquired a local celebrity as inconvenient to the owner—who was non-resident, and wanted to find a tenant—as it was interesting to the neighborhood. In this case the disturbing agents were a skull and a couple of thigh-bones, said to have been the property of an ancestor who had been either hanged or murdered, both of which incidents had embellished the chronicles of a lively and aggressive race. Whether these relics had been collected from the gallows, or kept in memoriam of a coroner's inquest and a post-mortem examination, deponent sayeth not, nor is it known why they had been denied the rights of burial; but from some misplaced sentiment they were preserved, irreverently stowed in the cupboard of an attic, and there left to disturb the peace of the inmates, the specialty of these bones being, that if