The beggar of LochGail.

Long ago in the land of Picts that lay behind the wall of Hadrian built even longer back in time a castle was built. This said castle was the luck of Baron James Hepburn who had been at the table of lady luck. Cards falling like leaves came to profits of richness for the young Nobleman that day. Armed with his saddle bags full of Kings silver and gold coinage he purchased 1000 acres of farm fields in the lower hinterland of the tall mountain chain he had built his home. Here in the leafy lanes came many a tradesman from the towns of Gatehouse of fleet some miles away.  The castle of natural rock and skill took 7 years to erect. It is but a ruined pile of stones today and in the daylight not a sign that once there stood a castle proud. Twined in ivy and fern with hazel and birch through the mound no trace can a rider see from the road. On foot it is hard enough but then no local would dare to venture forth, not even for a bet.

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The Castle of the Gail Woods it was know as in its hey day 900 years ago.  One easy win on the cards and a young jack the lad on a Titled rich boy who now moved in with furnishings and a newly married wife.  Servants came from all over the district and so for many weeks the coming and going of staff echoed hard on the walls of Gail. One night in a deluge of winds and rain came a knock on the door that an old woman who had been widowed was pleading for shelter. Baron James had been drinking with friends in the down rooms and in hearing the commotion advanced to sort matters out. One look at the wretch in rags wet and hair matted on her head he banished her without mercy back into the night with no food she caught her death and died in the castle stables. Her body so hidden behind a meal chest went unnoticed for many years.

The Baron lived for many decades unaware of this and when the old womans bones found by stewards came to light and shown to the Baron he told them to throw them to the wolves.

One servant was given the job but he a simple man and  of kinder heart buried the bones in the earth floor near were they had been discovered.  Nothing was ever said of that matter. Not until later ,much later,in the time of Baron James son who became Baron Ralph Hepburn  in time to inherit the castle and its lands .

One afternoon the Baroness sat with her ladies on the vast lawns in front of the old stable block and gave great thought to her plan to expand the library room into that said section. The new wing of carriage housing also had stables and the old ones looked ugly. So it was an easy talk with the Baron over dinner to express her plan to an easy man to please, as in fact this Baron was said to be.

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The building was under way rooms below and upper to join into the main wing.  Men came with carts to clear out all timbers and floors of stone flags and cobblestones found the bones and skull below and of so much age and thinking the Barons of old must have had a hand in it wanted no bad deed spent on them so buried the remains again under the far corner and went about their business as normal hitherto.

Over months of that summer the fine work done and the party to invite all nobles and gentry  from far and wide. It was a costly affair indeed but all was over and the  family settled down for the night leaving the team of staff to make good the new rooms.

Having alone set to in the end room of that new build Edmund the head man was polishing the table when to his nose came a strange musty smell of rotted sack cloth. He lifted his head from his work to see a mist gathering from the floor up slowly into a shape of a human form which the head man can be forgiven for he ran from along the length of that new wing until he reached the main stair case and collapsed exhausted. In the telling of the event to the Baron later in that night the Butler manged to leave nothing out.

Baron Hepburn had no idea of what to do so he too walked with a candle back into that same room but not a smell remained. He did not linger for the candle was low. He went back to his bed and no more was said.

Some nights later a few business men sat around that same polished table to discuss the new venture of cattle with his Lordship the Baron. A meal was afforded to the callers and so after wine and beef from his own farms all was set to lay out the plan. Investors into the newly cross beef breeds In England had marked the way for new investment over the border for landowners such as gathered at that table. Then it happened as before told.

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Started with the strong smell then a fine gray mist in the corner the crackling of straw as slowly a vision appeared of an old wisen woman dressed in sackcloth and old  horse blankets. her arms outstretched her bone hands calling them to her . Open mouthed the ten men at table gasped as the ghost growled and her mouth opened wider than a tunnel and a thin violent wind blew over the room pushing the candles over. The room in disarray then fire broke out leaving the men to turn on heels and run for their lives.

Not a moment to loose to get his family out before the timbers caught and the rooms burst into fire.  The black smoke and raging orange red flames against the cloudless star filled sky as the castle and all is buildings fell crashing to the floor with deafening noise.

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The Baron and his wife and family never went near it again but left it as a burned out shell that in time fell inwards to the ruins that only the fox may know today. Not a place to be lost in at fall of night my dears.

Yours with thanks for your time .Sir Kevin.

 

Copyright Kevin Parr,Bart

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