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The great and worthy Mr. Boston was the person who is said to have laid this ghost; and the people of Ettrick are much disappointed at finding no mention made of it in his memoirs; but some, yet alive, have heard John Corry, who was his servant, tell the following story-One Saturday afternoon, Mr. Boston came to him, and says, "John, you must rise early on Monday, and get a kilnful of oats dried before day."— "You know very well, master," said John, "that I dare not for my breath go to the mill before day." John," said he, "I tell you to go, and I will answer for it, that nothing shall molest you." John, who revered his master, went away, determined to obey; but that very night, said John, he went to the mill, prayed with the family, and stayed very late, but charged them not to mention it. On Monday morning John arose at two o'clock, took a horse, and went to the mill, which is scarcely a mile below the kirk; and, about a bowshot west of the mill, Mr. Boston came running by him, buttoned in his great coat, but was so wrapt in thought, that he neither perceived his servant nor his horse. When he came home at even, Mr. Boston says to him, "Well, John, have you seen the pedler?"-"No, no, sir," said John, "there was nothing troubled me; but I saw that you were yonder before me this morning." "I did not know that you saw me," said he, "John, nor did I wish to be seen; therefore, say nothing of it." This was in March, and in May following the mill was repaired, when the remains of the pedler and his pack were actually found, and the hearts of the poor people set at ease; for it is a received opinion, that, if the body, or bones, or any part of a murdered person is found, the ghost is then at rest, and that it leaves mankind to find out the rest.
He prayed' an' he read, and sent them to bed;
P. 20, v. 6.
A similar story to this of Mr. Boston and the pedlar is told of a cotemporary of his, the Reverend Henry Davieson, of Gallashiels.
An' certain it is, from that day to this,
The millers of Thirlestane ne'er ha'e done weel. P. 22, v. 2.
Though a pretext can scarcely be found in the annals of superstition sufficient to authorize the ascribing of this to the murder of the pedlar, so many ages before, yet the misfortunes attending the millers of Thirlestane are so obvious as to have become proverbial and when any of the neighbours occasionally mention this, along with it the murder of the pedlar is always hinted at.
An' afterwards they in full council agreed,
This alludes to an old and very commom proverb "that such a one will get Jeddart justice :" which is, first to hang a man, and then judge whether he was guilty or not.
FOUNDED UPON AN ANCIENT FAMILY TRADITION.
"WHAIR ha'e ye laid the goud, Peggye, Ye gat on New-Yeir's day?
I lookit ilka day to see
Ye drest in fine array;
"Bout nouther kirtle, cap, nor gowne,
'My goud it was my ain, father;
And when I neid my goud agene,
"O ha'e ye sent it to a friend?
Or gi'en it to some fause leman,
"I ha'e na' sent it to a friend,
And never man, without your ken,
"I ga'e it to a poor auld man,
"What was the beggar's tale, Peggye. I fain wald hear it o'er;
I fain wald hear that wylie tale
"His hair was like the thistle doune, His cheeks were furred wi' tyme His heard was like a bush of lyng, When silvered o'er wi' ryme;
"He lifted up his languid eye,
"He took me by the hands, and saide,
"And may ye never feel the waes
"In Gilmanscleuch, beneath the heuch,
My fathers lang did dwell;
"Ilk petty robber, through the lands,
"But when the bush was in the flush,
"I had ane brither, stout and trew
"Hir hair was like the threads of goud, Hir cheeks of rosy hew,
Hir eyne war like the huntin' hawk's
"Of fairest fashion was hir form,