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December 01 , 2009

Border Ghost Stories


IN THE BLACKFRIARS WYND ''Twill be a black day for auld Scotland when she ceases to believe in the muckle Deil,' commented 'the Meenister' of the Tron Kirk, when I had explained to him my troubles and sought his 'ghostly counsel and advice,' as the English service has it, 'to the quieting of my conscience, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness.' My father had been English, but my mOther was Scotch, and she had sent me to my uncle, Deacon Abercrombie, to be entered as apprentice to his craft of the goldsmiths. He was a widower, lived alone, and was reputed to be eccentric, but as far as worldly gear was concerned the Deacon was a highly responsible citizen; as burgess, guild brother, and deacon of his craft he could hold his head as high on the causeway as any Other, be he who he might, in the city. Not even the 'stairhead critics,' who, as Auld Reekie's poet writes, 'wi' glowering eyeTheir neighbours' sma'est faults descry,' could point at any speck in his general repute. The Reverend Andrew Geddes was somewhat stricken in years; his beard was white as snow, his thrapple loose below his chin, and the flesh had ebbed from his bones, but his mind was as alert as ever, and his goodness stood manifest in his face. We were sitting in his lodging, situate in a high 'timberland' in the Canongate, just without the Nether Bow, on the same side as the Tron Kirk, and from his little tourelle we could survey as from an eyrie the coming and going of the citizens upon the street
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