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Unformatted text preview: , "a mysterious anxiety hung about him." A fire had also been seen blazing on an opposite height, and when some of the gillies went to the spot, "there was no fire to be seen." On the day when the expedition had started, the Captain was warned of the ill weather, but he said "he MUST go." He was an unpopular man, and was accused of getting money by procuring recruits from the Highlands, often by cruel means. "Our informer told us nothing more; he neither told us his own opinion, nor that of the country, but left it to our own notions of the manner in which good and evil is rewarded in this life to suggest the author of the miserable event. He seemed impressed with superstitious awe on the subject, and said, 'There was na the like seen in a' Scotland.' The man is far advanced in years and is a schoolmaster in the neighbourhood of Rannoch." Sir Walter says that "the feeling of superstitious awe annexed to the catastrophe could not have been improved by any circumstances of additional horror which a poet could have invented. But is there not something more moving still in the boatman's version: "they were never seen again . . . they were not found indeed till this day"?
26 ANGLING SKETCHES The folklorist, of course, is eager to know whether the boatman's much more complete and connected narrative is a popular mythical development in the years between 1820 and 1890, or whether the schoolmaster of Rannoch did not tell all he knew. It is unlikely, I think, that the siege of Seringapatam would have been remembered so long in connection with the Black Officer if it had not formed part of his original legend. Meanwhile the earliest printed notice of the event with which I am acquainted, a notice only ten years later than the date of the Major's death in 1799, is given by Hogg in "The Spy," 1810-11, pp. 101-3. I offer an abridgment of the narrative. "About the end of last century Major Macpherson and a party of friends w...
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