The Ghosts Of Craig-aulnaic





Two celebrated ghosts existed, once on a time, in the wilds of

Craig-Aulnaic, a romantic place in the district of Strathdown,

Banffshire. The one was a male and the other a female. The male was

called Fhuna Mhoir Ben Baynac, after one of the mountains of Glenavon,

where at one time he resided; and the female was called Clashnichd

Aulnaic, from her having had her abode in Craig-Aulnaic. But although

the great ghost of Ben Baynac was bound by the common ties of nature and

of honour to protect and cherish his weaker companion, Clashnichd

Aulnaic, yet he often treated her in the most cruel and unfeeling manner.

In the dead of night, when the surrounding hamlets were buried in deep

repose, and when nothing else disturbed the solemn stillness of the

midnight scene, oft would the shrill shrieks of poor Clashnichd burst

upon the slumberer's ears, and awake him to anything but pleasant

reflections.



But of all those who were incommoded by the noisy and unseemly quarrels

of these two ghosts, James Owre or Gray, the tenant of the farm of Balbig

of Delnabo, was the greatest sufferer. From the proximity of his abode

to their haunts, it was the misfortune of himself and family to be the

nightly audience of Clashnichd's cries and lamentations, which they

considered anything but agreeable entertainment.



One day as James Gray was on his rounds looking after his sheep, he

happened to fall in with Clashnichd, the ghost of Aulnaic, with whom he

entered into a long conversation. In the course of it he took occasion

to remonstrate with her on the very disagreeable disturbance she caused

himself and family by her wild and unearthly cries--cries which, he said,

few mortals could relish in the dreary hours of midnight. Poor

Clashnichd, by way of apology for her conduct, gave James Gray a sad

account of her usage, detailing at full length the series of cruelties

committed upon her by Ben Baynac. From this account, it appeared that

her living with the latter was by no means a matter of choice with

Clashnichd; on the contrary, it seemed that she had, for a long time,

lived apart with much comfort, residing in a snug dwelling, as already

mentioned, in the wilds of Craig-Aulnaic; but Ben Baynac having

unfortunately taken into his head to pay her a visit, took a fancy, not

to herself, but her dwelling, of which, in his own name and authority, he

took immediate possession, and soon after he expelled poor Clashnichd,

with many stripes, from her natural inheritance. Not satisfied with

invading and depriving her of her just rights, he was in the habit of

following her into her private haunts, not with the view of offering her

any endearments, but for the purpose of inflicting on her person every

torment which his brain could invent.



Such a moving relation could not fail to affect the generous heart of

James Gray, who determined from that moment to risk life and limb in

order to vindicate the rights and avenge the wrongs of poor Clashnichd,

the ghost of Craig-Aulnaic. He, therefore, took good care to interrogate

his new protegee touching the nature of her oppressor's constitution,

whether he was of that killable species of ghost that could be shot

with a silver sixpence, or if there was any other weapon that could

possibly accomplish his annihilation. Clashnichd informed him that she

had occasion to know that Ben Baynac was wholly invulnerable to all the

weapons of man, with the exception of a large mole on his left breast,

which was no doubt penetrable by silver or steel; but that, from the

specimens she had of his personal prowess and strength, it were vain for

mere man to attempt to combat him. Confiding, however, in his expertness

as an archer--for he was allowed to be the best marksman of the age--James

Gray told Clashnichd he did not fear him with all his might,--that he

was a man; and desired her, moreover, next time the ghost chose to repeat

his incivilities to her, to apply to him, James Gray, for redress.



It was not long ere he had an opportunity of fulfilling his promises. Ben

Baynac having one night, in the want of better amusement, entertained

himself by inflicting an inhuman castigation on Clashnichd, she lost no

time in waiting on James Gray, with a full and particular account of it.

She found him smoking his cutty, for it was night when she came to him;

but, notwithstanding the inconvenience of the hour, James needed no great

persuasion to induce him to proceed directly along with Clashnichd to

hold a communing with their friend, Ben Baynac, the great ghost.

Clashnichd was stout and sturdy, and understood the knack of travelling

much better than our women do. She expressed a wish that, for the sake

of expedition, James Gray would suffer her to bear him along, a motion to

which the latter agreed; and a few minutes brought them close to the

scene of Ben Baynac's residence. As they approached his haunt, he came

forth to meet them, with looks and gestures which did not at all indicate

a cordial welcome. It was a fine moonlight night, and they could easily

observe his actions. Poor Clashnichd was now sorely afraid of the great

ghost. Apprehending instant destruction from his fury, she exclaimed to

James Gray that they would be both dead people, and that immediately,

unless James Gray hit with an arrow the mole which covered Ben Baynac's

heart. This was not so difficult a task as James had hitherto

apprehended it. The mole was as large as a common bonnet, and yet nowise

disproportioned to the natural size of the ghost's body, for he certainly

was a great and a mighty ghost. Ben Baynac cried out to James Gray that

he would soon make eagle's meat of him; and certain it is, such was his

intention, had not the shepherd so effectually stopped him from the

execution of it. Raising his bow to his eye when within a few yards of

Ben Baynac, he took deliberate aim; the arrow flew--it hit--a yell from

Ben Baynac announced the result. A hideous howl re-echoed from the

surrounding mountains, responsive to the groans of a thousand ghosts; and

Ben Baynac, like the smoke of a shot, vanished into air.



Clashnichd, the ghost of Aulnaic, now found herself emancipated from the

most abject state of slavery, and restored to freedom and liberty,

through the invincible courage of James Gray. Overpowered with

gratitude, she fell at his feet, and vowed to devote the whole of her

time and talents towards his service and prosperity. Meanwhile, being

anxious to have her remaining goods and furniture removed to her former

dwelling, whence she had been so iniquitously expelled by Ben Baynac, the

great ghost, she requested of her new master the use of his horses to

remove them. James observing on the adjacent hill a flock of deer, and

wishing to have a trial of his new servant's sagacity or expertness, told

her those were his horses--she was welcome to the use of them; desiring

that when she had done with them, she would inclose them in his stable.

Clashnichd then proceeded to make use of the horses, and James Gray

returned home to enjoy his night's rest.



Scarce had he reached his arm-chair, and reclined his cheek on his hand,

to ruminate over the bold adventure of the night, when Clashnichd

entered, with her "breath in her throat," and venting the bitterest

complaints at the unruliness of his horses, which had broken one-half of

her furniture, and caused her more trouble in the stabling of them than

their services were worth.



"Oh! they are stabled, then?" inquired James Gray. Clashnichd replied in

the affirmative. "Very well," rejoined James, "they shall be tame enough

to-morrow."



From this specimen of Clashnichd, the ghost of Craig-Aulnaic's

expertness, it will be seen what a valuable acquisition her service

proved to James Gray and his young family. They were, however, speedily

deprived of her assistance by a most unfortunate accident. From the

sequel of the story, from which the foregoing is an extract, it appears

that poor Clashnichd was deeply addicted to propensities which at that

time rendered her kin so obnoxious to their human neighbours. She was

constantly in the habit of visiting her friends much oftener than she was

invited, and, in the course of such visits, was never very scrupulous in

making free with any eatables which fell within the circle of her

observation.



One day, while engaged on a foraging expedition of this description, she

happened to enter the Mill of Delnabo, which was inhabited in those days

by the miller's family. She found his wife engaged in roasting a large

gridiron of fine savoury fish, the agreeable smell proceeding from which

perhaps occasioned her visit. With the usual inquiries after the health

of the miller and his family, Clashnichd proceeded with the greatest

familiarity and good-humour to make herself comfortable at their expense.

But the miller's wife, enraged at the loss of her fish, and not relishing

such unwelcome familiarity, punished the unfortunate Clashnichd rather

too severely for her freedom. It happened that there was at the time a

large caldron of boiling water suspended over the fire, and this caldron

the enraged wife overturned in Clashnichd's bosom!



Scalded beyond recovery, she fled up the wilds of Craig-Aulnaic, uttering

the most melancholy lamentations, nor has she been ever heard of since.





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