For this latest post, we stray ever so slightly over the western border of Angus into Perthshire. But hopefully this little gem of a story is sufficiently worthwhile for the transgression to be forgivable.
The anecdote comes from 'The Courier' on 17th November 1873 and is headed 'A Lochee Ghost Story'. According to the report, a young man from Lochee (in the west of Dundee) had been attending a ball in the village of Liff, several miles away. When it was over, he was accompanying his sweetheart home and she decided to visit her parents, who stayed nearby, despite the fact that it was very late at night. The parents' house was near the kirkyard and the couple unwisely crossed this place on their journey. Soon they encountered a ghostly spectacle, a looming figure described as resembling one of the 'sheeted dead'. It blocked their way on the road, holding a lighted candle in one hand and a long pole in the other hand.
The girl screamed and clung onto her boyfriend. The young lad was at first lost for words, but at last managed to summon up the strength to address the apparition, and he spoke to it (in primeVictorian fashion):
'This is a fine night, sir.'
But the bogle was immune to such a mannerly comment. (I suspect that the boyfriend's words might have been a bit more fruity if the incident had happened in the present day.) The only noise the un-dead creature made was a mere squeak. As the couple were rooted to the spot in fear, the ghost grew larger and then levitated to the menacing height of twelve feet. Then it crashed down to the ground with a terrific force and disappeared in a twinkling light. The young maiden promptly fainted into the arms of her swain, who carried her to her mother's house nearby.
And, that being the end of the report, we will never know who the ghost was or what it hoped to achieve by scaring the wits out of the poor young courting couple.
But the antics of the unreal being bears some passing similarity to a ghost which appeared not many miles away at Invergowrie, according to a correspondent who contacted 'The Courier'. The paper printed the tale on 31st January 1891:
A ghost has made its appearance at Invergowrie, and is causing
much perturbation by the antics it is carrying on. This is not a
sham but a real ghost. It can salaam to its victim, almost
touching the ground, and then raise itself up ten or twelve feet.
It has a bare skull, and burns a blue light in its mouth, emitting
a sulphurous smell, and rattles its bones in such a way as to strike
terror to the heart of its victim. But retribution is at hand.
Fathers and mothers are vowing vengeance. Traps are being laid,
and the ghost's heid is to be split. Disappear, Mr Ghost, while
there is yet time!
Ghost stories, like everything else, has their cycles of different fashions in different ages.