Young Lord Lyne had gone hunting on the
muir of dark Macharnoch in goodly company.
With the rising of the sun he had summoned his
friends and his followers to the chase, and high in
spirits, and with their sense
of pleasurable anticipation whetted, they had cantered off
down the glen and out into the open country.
Lady Lyne, the mother of the
young nobleman, watched them as they trooped away.
A pleasant spectacle, indeed!
The merry horns awoke the echoes
as the light-hearted huntsmen waved their adieux.
Beside them trotted the gaunt,
lithe, wiry-haired staghounds, quick to understand whither
they were going.
The country was well wooded, and
in the recesses of the forest browsed the red deer and the
The monarchs of the chase,
high-antlered, would soon hear the cheering halloo and the
baying of the dogs; and as the prospect filled the minds of
the riders, they inhaled the fresh air of the morning with
that sense of enjoyment which makes the blood course the
faster in the veins of the careless and the free.
The pageant passed from the sight of
The morning was pure, the air
crisp and bracing, the glen hung in sun-begotten diamonds of
dew, the green foliage rustled in the air, the little wild
flowers raised their petals gently from the grass, and the
dancing, shining waters of the stream gave back to the
onlooker their heaven-begotten beauty.
Tumbling over the linn the Caaf
foamed down into its pools, and the rising spray rose like a
summer’s cloud to give added freshness to the scene.
Lady Lyne took her way down the
dell, sauntering on in placid admiration of the morning
Well she knew the spot, each
winding turn, each babbling leap of the rivulet.
The trees nodded friendly to her
as she passed beneath them.
The little birds hardly for a
moment forbore their trill as they carolled amid the leaves.
She sat down to enjoy the glen.
Her mind reverted occasionally
to her son and his companions now on their way to the muir
He was her hope, her pride, a
dutiful son and an obedient, with the future before him, his
life yet young and full of happy promise.
While Lady Lyne thus
sat in the glen she suddenly realized that she was not alone
There was Something there
She saw nothing for a while, she
heard nothing, but that oppressive sense of communion with
the unknown, and yet not the unknown, possessed her.
The unseen world was about her,
and out from its impalpable shades came upon the lady that
oppressiveness which indicated to one so much akin with
nature and so susceptible to the comings from the
shadow-land, that she was about to be the solitary witness
of a revelation.
She gazed around her, and from
far down the glen there broke upon her vision a company of
In front of the train rode her
The dogs were in full chase, but
not in full cry.
Not a sound escaped them as they
ran. As the hunt drew nearer, the lady noted that even the
rattling hoofs of the horses were inaudible, and there was
neither cheery cry nor blast of horn from the huntsmen.
It was a grim chase, and a
On they came, the young lord in
There was no stop nor stay.
Natural obstacles were overcome
as lightly as if there were none.
It mattered not to the leader of
the chase whether his horse careened along the winding banks
of the stream or forged its way ahead up the bed of the
Rocks and boulders
were as nothing.
On swept the chase, the driven
deer in front, and nearer and nearer approached the spot
where the lady sat enchained with the strange spectacle.
Right against her rose a cliff,
craggy and impossible to mortal to scale, and straight
towards this came the bounding stag, fleeing for his life.
The dogs were in hot pursuit,
and impetuous on their heels came Lord Lyne and his
then, as they drew near the cliffs, there was a wondrous
All noiseless ran
the deer and the dogs, all soundless followed the huntsmen,
yet all as eager on the chase as if the stag was the king of
the Macharnoch Muir and the riders veritable horsemen
begotten of women.
But they were shadowy and
unsubstantial, a troop of ghosts sent thither by the
guardian spirit of the Lynes to warn the lady of a coming
She knew it, she felt it, and
yet she could not but watch the ghosts as they sped.
Right up to the cliffs came the
stag, and with mighty bound he scaled the beetling summit
and went on his way.
Right up to the cliffs came the
gaunt dogs, thirsting for their prey, and, without pausing
for a moment, they undeviating took the aerial path and
resumed the chase.
Right up to the cliffs came the
horsemen, Lord Lyne in front, and like arrows sped from bow
they drove on in hard pursuit of the dogs.
And all were gone. All had vanished like a dream.
The lady listened, but no sound
was there save the voices of Nature.
The hunt had swept by, and there
was not a trace left of their presence.
She knew what the vision portended,
and that dark fate was about to spread its wings over her
Her heart went out to her son,
and hurrying homewards she called her page.
Taking her ring from her finger
she bade him convey it with all the haste he could to Lord
Lyne, and tell him that she was wearily waiting his return.
The page put the ring in his
Light of foot, he sped away to
Macharnoch Muir, but the sun was setting behind Caerwinning
Hill ere he reached the hunt.
It had been a glorious day for
They had roused the red deer
from his lair, and over many a mile they had pursued him,
nor ceased until the dogs had brought him to bay and to
death; and now they were resting preparatory to setting out
again for home.
The page accosted Lord Lyne.
He handed him the circlet of
gold which he knew so well, and gave him his mother’s
Lord Lyne laughed at her
anxiety, but, lest his prolonged absence should give her
fresh cause for uneasiness, he at once set out for home.
On his arrival he sought the
chamber where his mother sat waiting, and, hastening to her
side, asked the cause of her solicitude.
“Well might she be solicitous”,
she replied, and then, without keeping back ought, she told
him of the spectral vision that had passed before her in the
He listened in wonder, yet not
without uneasiness, but when she had finished her recital
with an account of the hunt vanishing from sight right up
the face of a beetling cliff, he laughed airily and rallied
her on her powers of imagination.
But she was not to be coaxed or
rallied out of her gloom.
The wraith had never appeared in
vain to the family of Lyne, and it was not for nothing now
that the warning had passed before her eyes.
“It was your wraith I saw, my son”, she
said, “prepare yourself to die.”
“I am ready to go”,
he replied, “whenever God calls me; but, mother, I am strong
and well, so take heart of grace.
Besides”, he added, “wraiths
sometimes betoken good fortune.”
“Not the wraiths of the house of Lyne”,
was the response.
The young chief kissed his mother
good-night, and, though not without a foreboding in his
heart, betook himself to sociality, and then to rest.
With the golden
flush of daylight Lord Lyne sprang from his couch. Whatever
depressing thoughts had weighed him down the preceding night
he discarded with the incoming of the rosy dawn, and
dressing himself, he wandered forth to breathe the morning
air in the glen.
Nature had charms to him as she
had to his mother.
He loved her in all her haunts
of solitude, and in all her accompaniments, animate and
As he came within view of the
rocks where Lady Lyne had witnessed the wondrous scene of
yestermorn he remembered her warning, but he dismissed it
from his mind and gave himself up to the enjoyment of the
Lady Lyne had spent
an anxious, wakeful night.
Her vision was ever before her.
It hung above her head like the
sword of Damocles, and she waited to see where and when it
Her morning exercises over, she
descended to the breakfast room, and there waited on the
coming of her son.
He was long in coming.
Where had he gone?
She sent her page to see whether
he had yet left his bed.
The lad returned to say that his
bed was untenanted, and that, with the rising of the sun, he
had left the house to enjoy a walk in the glen.
Then he would return ere long;
and Lady Lyne waited.
She looked out of the window,
she busied herself with little household duties, she began
to grow anxious.
She called her page a second
time, and, in response to her orders, he ran down the glen,
only to find no traces of his young master.
He must have gone further
afield; and Lady Lyne waited again, and the longer she
waited the more perturbed she became.
She could stand the anxiety no
The servants in the house were
despatched to make careful search; and search they did.
They called Lord Lyne’s name
aloud, till the rocks gave back the echo.
They wandered by unfrequented
pathways and by sylvan nooks without finding trace.
And then they searched the bed
of the stream and every little pool, because, like their
mistress, they entertained a suspicion that something was
They too felt the influence of
the unknown upon them, and with feverish haste they pursued
the path of the rivulet, looking for their secret in its
And they found it.
In a deep pool, close by the
fall, lay all that remained of the gallant young lord.
Death had sought him.
The plain, matter-of-fact man
would have said that he accidentally stumbled and fell, and
that, landing in a state of insensibility in the water, he
was drowned without having recovered sufficient
consciousness to make one struggle for life; but Lady Lyne
It was Death that had met him.
It was his Fate he had encountered,
the fate which she herself had seen fore-shadowed when the
spectral steed, with her son’s wraith on its back, followed
hard in the track of the ghostly stag and the wild dogs of
© Armour Hamilton
Reproduced by Permission
Was it the tragic death of an heir
that caused the family to leave the barony of Lynn for the estate of
very real but now extinct Lords of Lynn, also known as Lynn of that Ilk, were fittingly described by
Robertson in his introduction to
Wraith as “a beloved aristocracy
that came, lingered a while, and vanished.”