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'the Foul Fords' Or The Longformacus Farrier






"About 1820 there lived a Farrier of the name of Keane in the village
of Longformacus in Lammermoor. He was a rough, passionate man, much
addicted to swearing. For many years he was farrier to the Eagle or
Spottiswood troop of Yeomanry. One day he went to Greenlaw to attend
the funeral of his sister, intending to be home early in the
afternoon. His wife and family were surprised when he did not appear
as they expected and they sat up watching for him. About two o'clock
in the morning a heavy weight was heard to fall against the door of
the house, and on opening it to see what was the matter, old Keane was
discovered lying in a fainting fit on the threshold. He was put to
bed and means used for his recovery, but when he came out of the fit
he was raving mad and talked of such frightful things that his family
were quite terrified. He continued till next day in the same state,
but at length his senses returned and he desired to see the minister
alone.

"After a long conversation with him he called all his family round his
bed, and required from each of his children and his wife a solemn
promise that they would none of them ever pass over a particular spot
in the moor between Longformacus and Greenlaw, known by the name of
'The Foul Fords' (it is the ford over a little water-course just east
of Castle Shields). He assigned no reason to them for this demand,
but the promise was given and he spoke no more, and died that evening.

"About ten years after his death, his eldest son Henry Keane had to go
to Greenlaw on business, and in the afternoon he prepared to return
home. The last person who saw him as he was leaving the town was the
blacksmith of Spottiswood, John Michie. He tried to persuade Michie
to accompany him home, which he refused to do as it would take him
several miles out of his way. Keane begged him most earnestly to go
with him as he said he _must_ pass the Foul Fords that night, and he
would rather go through hell-fire than do so. Michie asked him why he
said he _must_ pass the Foul Fords, as by going a few yards on either
side of them he might avoid them entirely. He persisted that he
_must_ pass them and Michie at last left him, a good deal surprised
that he should talk of going over the Foul Fords when every one knew
that he and his whole family were bound, by a promise to their dead
father, never to go by the place.

"Next morning a labouring man from Castle Shields, by name Adam
Redpath, was going to his work (digging sheep-drains on the moor),
when on the Foul Fords he met Henry Keane lying stone dead and with no
mark of violence on his body. His hat, coat, waistcoat, shoes and
stockings were lying at about 100 yards distance from him on the
Greenlaw side of the Fords, and while his flannel drawers were off and
lying with the rest of his clothes, his trousers were on. Mr. Ord,
the minister of Longformacus, told one or two persons what John Keane
(the father) had said to him on his deathbed, and by degrees the story
got abroad. It was this. Keane said that he was returning home
slowly after his sister's funeral, looking on the ground, when he was
suddenly roused by hearing the tramping of horses, and on looking up
he saw a large troop of riders coming towards him two and two. What
was his horror when he saw that one of the two foremost was the sister
whom he had that day seen buried at Greenlaw! On looking further he
saw many relations and friends long before dead; but when the two last
horses came up to him he saw that one was mounted by a dark man whose
face he had never seen before. He led the other horse, which, though
saddled and bridled, was riderless, and on this horse the whole
company wanted to compel Keane to get. He struggled violently, he
said, for some time, and at last got off by promising that one of his
family should go instead of him.

"There still lives at Longformacus his remaining son Robert; he has
the same horror of the Foul Fords that his brother had, and will not
speak, nor allow any one to speak to him on the subject.

"Three or four years ago a herd of the name of Burton was found dead
within a short distance of the spot, without any apparent cause for
his death." {272}





Next: The Marvels At Froda {273}

Previous: The Story Of Glam



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