The Unqiet Grave

‘Behold I shall show you a mystery! We shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed. In a moment…in the twinkling of an eye, at the last Trump… The Trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, incorruptible…and we shall be changed.’

‘Pon this promise o’ everlasting life were the countless souls whose bones do rest beneath the earth on which you stand interred… these graven markers raised that them that live might know to let them lie in peace. Yet there are those that would presume tae wake the dead…tae steal their slumber frae them.

Aye, an’ them from it, an’ a’.Unquiet Grave, Jamie Quinn, Graverobbing

Sure, e’en a grave itself might swift be stol’n away.

Such was the fate o’ poor Jamie Quinn - a frail bairn who’d scarce spent five summers on this earth when sickness took him frae his widowed mother’s warm embrace an’ put him in the cold, cold ground. She scrimped an’ saved - securing him a tiny corner-plot – unmarked, save for a wooden cross…but a testament, still, to his brief life an’ her great love.

Each day she would visit the lair, tae weep, an’ laugh, an’ tell him all her cares…’till Winter came.

Long hours of toil and darkness occupied her, then. She’d have tae still the woe she felt ‘til she could visit again in the Spring.

Weeks passed. One night, as she lay a-bed, the Widow woke frae a tense an’ troubled sleep - a distant ringing in her ears. She sat up, startled by the movement o’ a shape by the window, and gasped aloud. There, by her bedside - a shadow, framed in the light of the silver moon beyond - stood her bonnie boy. “Oh Mother”, said a small, thin voice “Put me back tae my ain bed!” Sure she slept, still, the poor woman closed her eyes, turned away and passed, in time, into a tearful slumber.

The same faint ringing roused her frae her rest the next night…an’ the next. Each time she gazed wae tearful eyes upon her lad’s frail form. Each time she turned away…and wept that she should be tormented by such woeful dreams.

Once again the ringing came. An’ once again she woke tae the boy by her bedside an’ his now familiar message: “Mother, put me back tae my ain bed!”. Each whispered syllable seemed tae chafe an’ chime within her head, until she could bear no more. Close she looked ‘pon her laddie’s form. What was this? His shroud was ragged..a thing o’ threads an’ tatters… his cheek black wae muck an’ mire. She reached out tae touch the vision…an’ grasped at nought but air.

The shade had vanished but the ringing in her ears remained: “Mother!” it said to her, time and time again, “Mother, put me back tae my ain bed!”

Out intae the streets of night she ran, weeping…wailing wild through wynd an’ vennel – her hands clutched ower her ears, unable tae escape the dreadful pleading whispers. Puzzled neighbours noted her frightful passage an’ followed close ‘pon her heels…’til they came, at last, upon the kirkyard, an’ the spot where Jamie Quinn was laid…but his poor wooden marker was now gone…the pit a gapin' maw…his tiny casket gone….

The Sexton was summoned. Looking but once ‘pon the weeping frail, the gravedigger fell to his knees an’ confessed a shameful crime.

An old biddie was to be buried that very morn, an’ cutting through the cold, hard Winter earth posed too tiring a task for the feckless rogue. The earth of Jamie’s plot was more newly turned, and none had come tae look upon the infant’s lair in many weeks – so what real harm was there in lessening his labour – in turning-out the tiny coffin and placing it in the paupers’ pit? In doin’ so the reckless sot had shattered Jamie’s cask…spilled his tiny form into the muck…

Where was the harm?

Perhaps the rogue had time tae think on that when the Bailie turfed him out o’ town. An’ Jamie…? His bones were gathered up, and quick return’d unto their place of rest. He lies there now, sleepin' still…nevermore tae disturb his lovin’ mother’s dreams.

Taken from Stirling GhostWalk 2009

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