The great house of Allenbank, which for over a hundred years had been the seat of the Stuarts, a
family of Scottish baronets, stood grim and imposing in he bright moonlight of a June night. A
few lighted windows showed that the family had not yet retired; it was the hour of card-playing
for the ladies, and of the enjoyment of a fine old port by the gentlemen. The children slept in the
nurseries, and below stairs the servants chatted, their work over for the day.
Allenbank was blessed with extensive gardens, and beyond them lay a large orchard. On
this beautiful night the moon 'tipped with silver all the fruit-tree tops' and made shining
ornaments of the ripening apples. It was a night for lovers' meetings, and young Thomas
Blackadder, standing beneath a particularly large apple-tree, was hoping for just such an
encounter. On the bark of the tree a ray of moonlight picked out the initials 'J.M.' and 'T.B.'
surrounded by the outline of a heart. Thomas had carved them, and Thomas was waiting or his
sweetheart, Jennie Mackie. Every night at this time, when Jennie's duties as a still-room maid at
Allenbank permitted, they would meet here and stroll beneath the trees. Talking of their coming
wedding-day and of the small cottage which Thomas's master had promised them. Jenny was
well known as being the pettiest girl in the district, and what with this and the cottage Thomas
considered himself a lucky man.
Jenny was late tonight, however. Thomas had no watch and could not have told the time
if he had possessed one. But he was a countryman, and by the place of the moon in the sky and
the gradual silencing of even the latest-singing blackbird, he knew that he was being kept waiting.
A sharp little breeze was rising, and Thomas's coat was thin; he shivered slightly.
Suddenly, through the trees, a white glimmer caught his eye-the glimmer of a dress. At
last Jenny had come! 'Here I am, my lass,' he cried, and ran forward with open arms, eager to
embrace her. She halted and stood waiting for hm to reach her, a few yards away; then, just as he
approached her, she vanished.
Thomas stood as if spellbound. One minute she had been there, the next she was gone.
What was she playing at, and where was she? He began to run about the trees, calling 'Jenny!
Jenny! Come oot, I ken ye're there!' But no Jennie replied, and Thomas began to be angry, and
to think of the sharp things he would say to her when she choose to reappear. Just then he saw
her again-a faint white figure at the far end of the orchard, almost half an acre off. How could
she have run there in the time? He started towards her, calling her name, and all the time she
stood motionless; but once again, when he was within ten or twelve yards of her, she melted into
the darkness. There was nothing to be seen of her in a light that was almost as bright as day-
neither shawled head nor white skirts-and the orchard was silent as death.
Thomas could not have told at what moment he was struck by a chill of horror that made
him quite forget his anger at Jenny. But after a moment of contemplating the empty air where the
white girl had stood, he turned on his heel and ran, never stopping until he reached the farmstead
where he worked, a mile away through the village.
A few minutes after his abrupt flight, a white dress again gleamed out among the treetrunks,
and a hurried step rustled through the grass.
'Thomas! Where are ye? I'm sorry I'm late!'
But neither searching nor calling produced any sign of Thomas, and soon Jenny went
home, puzzled and cross. Tomorrow, she decided, she would demand a full explanation.
But to her surprise she found Thomas reproachful instead of apologetic when they met on
the following evening.
'Why did ye lead me on, lass, and then rin awa'? It was no' like ye to dae sic a thing,' he
'I never did! I never set eyes on ye, Thomas, and well you know it!'
They were anxious to believe the best of each other, and Jenny listened patiently to
Thomas's account of his Vanishing Lady. When he had finished telling her of the final
disappearance, and of his flight, her face changed.
'Guid help us, Thomas! Ye saw Pearlin Jean!'
And so for the first time Thomas heard the story of the ghost of Allenbank. Jenny had
never told him of it before, knowing him to be of a nervous, sensitive disposition, such as avoids
graveyards at night-time. But she consoled herself with the thought that he would in any case
have heard the tale sooner or later, for it was known to all the domestics at Allenbank and to most
of the villagers.
Nearly a hundred years before, in the 1670s, young Mr. Robert Stuart set out from his
home, Allenbank, to finish his education as a gentleman, by making a tour of foreign cities. He
was a gay, handsome young man, with bright dark eyes and a face of almost feminine beauty,
well set off by the long curled wig of the time and the foppish clothes which had adorned men
since the Restoration. There was not much life in Scotland for a rich and frivolous young man,
and Mr. Stuart was glad enough to escape to the continent.
He had explored Italy to his own satisfaction, spending a very little time in its famous
churches and a great deal in its fashionable salons, and had made his way to that Mecca of young