Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/419

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Old- World Survivals in Ross-shire. yj']

crawl along clinging to brushwood, &c., ere the coffin could be deposited in the boat that was to convey it to the place of burial. In a place where undertakers are non- existent, and people are dependent on local aid for burying their dead, those who are above beliefs of this kind have to acquiesce and give in to local custom.

Apropos of this belief, let me relate the following story, which was told me by the principal actor in it. This man is a shoemaker, and, like most of his craft, of a reflective turn of mind. He told me that after his day's work is over, he always takes an evening stroll up the road a " bittock," just to stretch his legs, see how the crops are getting on, and what the " wurruld " generally is doing. Well, one evening, some years ago, he took his daunder as usual in the gloaming, reaching the bridge where a lately erected church is now situated. He seated himself on the stone parapet of the bridge (where indeed I have often had a crack with him and where the story was told to me) and to his surprise he saw sitting on the site of the church, at that time non-existent, the figures of three women muffled up in black shawls or cloaks. They were seated, and wailed and sobbed, wringing their hands, and rocking themselves in an abandonment of woe. He felt what he called a " dwam " coming over him, and, very much upset (for he was con- vinced that what he had seen was a manifestation of the supernatural), he went home and told the wife what he had seen ; but she, prosaic and sensible, and well knowing his tendency to indulging in such " trances," rated him for believing that he had seen any such vision. Years passed and his children were growing up. One of the boys, the " lad o' pairts " of the village, and who was one day to be a minister of the Kirk of Scotland, went away to college, sickened and died of typhoid fever. His remains were brought home (for no Highlander will be buried away from the graves of his ancestors), and on being landed at the village quay, the question arose as to where they were to