This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: g in the arms of a ghostly maid, who had nearly murdered him, but departed on the arrival of his friend. It is not easy to make out what these ghoulish women are--not fairies exactly, nor witches, nor vampires. For example, three shepherds at a lonely sheiling were discoursing of their loves, and it was, "Oh, how happy I should be if Katie were here, or Maggie, or Bessie!" as the case might be. So they would say and so they would wish, and lo! one evening, the three girls came to the door of the hut. So they made them welcome; but one of the shepherds was playing the Jew's-harp, and he did not like the turn matters were taking. The two others stole off into corners of the darkling hut with their lovers, but this prudent lad never took his lips off the Jew's-harp. "Harping is good if no ill follows it," said the semblance of his sweetheart; but he never answered. He played and thrummed, and out of one dark corner trickled red blood into the fire-light, and out of another corner came a current of blood to meet it. Then he slowly rose, still harping, and backed his way to the door, and fled into the hills from these cruel airy shapes of false desire. "And do the people actually believe all that?" "Ay, do they!" That is the boatman's version of Scott's theme in "Glenfinlas." Witches played a great part in his narratives. In the boatman's country there is a plain, and on the plain is a knoll, about twice the height of a one-storeyed cottage, and pointed "like a sugarloaf." The old people remember, or have heard, that this mound was not there when they were young. It swelled up suddenly out of the grave of a
28 ANGLING SKETCHES witch who was buried there. The witch was a great enemy of a shepherd. Every morning she would put on the shape of a hare, and run before his dogs, and lead them away from the sheep. He knew it was right to shoot at her with a crooked sixpence, and he hit her on the hind leg, and the dogs were after her, and chased the hare into the old...
View Full Document