'What is it? Are the horses mad?' Mr. Stuart put his head out of the window. There was
nothing to account for the animals' behavior-no highwayman in the road, no flapping scarecrow.
Suddenly his eye took in an unfamiliar object; something white and red on top of the gateway,
that he had never seen there before. He stared, and stared again, and his face grew as pale as the
rich lace skirts that moved softly in the breeze, as Jeanne stretched out her arms to him in
welcome, and bent her terrible head, from which the blood streamed on to her white shoulders
and her white bodice.
It is not recorded how Mr. Stuart made his way home that night, but the celebrations for
his return were not held; nor was he ever again the same confident young man who had driven up
to the gateway of Allenbank.
Nor was Allenbank the same. It had been a placid house, where nothing more eventful
than domestic births and deaths had ever taken place. Now it became a place to be feared at
night. Unaccountable things happened. Doors opened and shut with a great noise, at midnight-a
hideous scream was sometimes heard, enough to chill the blood-and the rustling of silks and
pattering of high heels were heard in rooms and passages. For some time nothing was seen; then
one night a maid, on her way to bed, met face to face an apparition which frightened her into
shrieking hysterics. For hours she could say nothing but 'The pearlin dress! The pearlin dress!'
At last she managed to explain that the figure had been clad in a dress made of pearlin, or threadlace.
The worst of the hauntings occurred when the master of Allenbank was at home. During
his absences in Edinburgh or London the noises abated and the form of 'Pearlin Jean,' as she was
now known, was seldom seen. But as soon as he returned the footsteps and rustlings began again,
doors slammed, furniture moved-nobody could be sure of a good night's rest. The whole
household suffered, and servants were hard to replace. But Robert Stuart suffered worst of all; he
lived in constant fear of a glimpse of his dead love's lacy skirts, or the whole dreadful figure
appearing to him, as it sometimes did.
It was with a certain relief that he took to himself a wife. She was a young lady of
excellent background, highly suited to be Lady Stuart-for in 1687 Robert Stuart had been created
a baronet. Her temperament, fortunately, was calm, even phlegmatic. She had been told of the
ghostly disturbances at Allenbank-indeed, it would have been hard to keep the information from
her-but regarded them as something in the nature of a household nuisance, like jackdaws in the
chimney. 'Pearlin Jean' seemed furious at Lady Stuart's arrival, and redoubled her efforts to
annoy; but the young lady of Allenbank refused to be put out even by a full-scale appearance of
Sir Robert was pleased with his wife. He had her portrait, in satin and pearls, painted by a
London artist, and hung with his own in the Long Gallery. On the day it went on the wall, all hell
broke loose at Allenbank-objects were hurled about, tables and chairs moved of themselves,
china ornaments fell and smashed-and the insistent angry footsteps paced rapidly from room to
room, through halls and corridors, running down stairs and up stairs, only pausing to stamp or
kick whatever lay in their way.
Sir Robert became desperate. Finally he decided to resort to exorcism. Seven ministers of
the Church of Scotland agreed to come to Allenbank and attempt, with solemn ceremonies, to
send the spirit of Jeanne back to its Paris grave or to a better world. But all in vain: 'they did no
mickle guid,' as Jenny the maid told Thomas Blackadder long after. The hauntings continued as
though the reverend gentlemen had never been.
In desperation, Sir Robert sought about for another solution. The last words Jeanne had
ever spoken came back to him: 'If you marry any woman but me I shall come between you to the
end of your days.' Could she, perhaps, be pacified by appearing to 'come between' himself and
his wife-if only in paint? It was a strange, macabre idea, but worth trying. He nervously
explained it to his wife, who with her usual calm good temper agreed that he must be prepared to
try anything that would stop the nuisance. Accordingly, Sir Robert consulted a portrait-painter
who was only too glad of a commission. No portrait of Jeanne was in Sir Robert's possession-
not surprisingly-but he gave the painter a full description of her as she had been, and in rough
masculine fashion sketched out the style of her dress. (He had seen it often enough, Heaven
knew!) Working on this, the artist produced a full-length painting, not the most accurate likeness
of Jeanne, but sufficiently like, Sir Robert hoped, to please her. This he had hung in the Long
Gallery between the portraits of himself and his wife.
The effect was immediate. The ghost became comparatively quiet. She made no
appearances, and for the first time the Stuarts were able to go to bed with a reasonable expectation
of sleeping through the night. This happy state of things continued so long that Sir Robert's
confidence began to return. Now that Jeanne was pacified, he thought, might not the portrait be
removed? After all, awkward questions were often asked about it, and now that his young family
was growing up it was a little embarrassing for them to have the picture of a strange woman hung
prominently between those of their mother and father. The picture was accordingly removed, and
banished to an attic.
In the hour in which it was taken down, the hauntings returned. For some reason long
forgotten, the picture was not restored to its place, and Allenbank continued to be a pestered
house. If Jeanne did not actually succeed in coming between her false lover and his lady, she
made their life extremely uncomfortable, and may have even hastened his death. Even after he
was gone, Jeanne continued her perambulations. They extended to the grounds and gardens, as
witness the teasing of young Thomas Blackadder-though, to do her justice, she did not appear to
him in her full horror.
Long after Thomas and his Jenny were man and wife-somewhere about the year 1790-
two ladies paid a visit to Allenbank, which had now passed out of the Stuart family. No word of
the ghost had been mentioned to them, but the night they spent there was made hideous by the
constant pacing of someone unseen up and down their bedroom. In the nineteenth century the
ghost was both seen and heard, but by now her power was failing and she was regarded almost
affectionately. Time creeps like ivy over the memory of all wrongs-even the cruel one that had
been done to poor 'Pearlin Jean.'