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  The Black Wife o' Scar

Scar House: Illustration by Sigurd TowrieOne night, a long time ago, at the grand mansion of Scar in Sanday, the milking lass wandered into the byre to milk the cows.

As she had done every day for a good few years, she carried her stool with her, along with a milking pail and a koli lamp to light the darkness.

Setting her stool down on the flagstone floor, the lass sat by the first cow.

Muttering soothing words to the uninterested beast, she slipped the pail beneath its full udders. Her lamp was set carefully on a post to her left side, the flickering light causing shadows to dance around like demented devils.

But she had no sooner started milking when the light of her koli lamp was extinguished.

Although not afraid of the dark - Orkney winters are notoriously long and dark - the young girl's heart skipped a beat.

Fumbling in the pitch black, she went to relight her lamp but had no sooner risen to her feet than the little lamp sprang to life again. With a sigh of relief, the girl slumped back down on her stool, looking nervously from stall to stall.

Nothing stirred.

"My mercy," she mumbled to herself, "but on a still night like the night it surely cinno' be the wark o' the wind?"

Then, as she watched her little lamp carefully, a ghostly black hand appeared in the air and extinguished the flame once again.

With a scream, the girl kicked over the stool and fled the darkened byre, spilling the contents of her milk pail in the process.

The folk of Sanday were sure that the spirit within the byre must surely be that of an Indian woman that the evil Laird of Scar had "married" during a sojourn in the east.

It was said that when he returned to Orkney, his new "wife" had insisted on travelling with him, but on the fateful journey, the Laird began to have some doubts about the reception he would receive on his return.

So, in a fit of panic he pushed his unfortunate wife overboard. And from that day forth he was a cursed man.

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