Rose Cottage Part 2

From Moriston Matters, Issue 26, October 1981.

The Night The Bogles Came To Invermoriston. Old Rose Cottage Pt. 2.

This is something of a sequel to the article on the old "Rose Cottage" in the last issue. But this article, which is based on a true story concentrates more on the character and personality of Katie Archie than it does Allyvick, although he figures in it.

Back in the immediate post-war years "Rose Cottage" used to have an annual summer visit, from a cousin of the Archies, a character named Duncan MacDonald, but better known, for some reason, as Duncan the Carrier. Born in Glenmoriston, he had emigrated to the Kingdom of Fife, where he had become a ferryman on the ferries, "Robert the Bruce" and "William Wallace", which plied between the Queensferries in the days before the Forth Road Bridge. He was accompanied on these visits by his wife Emily.

Duncan the Carrier was indeed something of a character. He was down-to-earth in his turn of phrase and in his activities. He had a liking for the occasional strong refreshment, which he liked even more when he could have it among the then worthies of Invermoriston. Of whom, more soon.

And Duncan would have been even more of a character had it not been for Emily’s gently restraining influence. She was very prim and proper; she had, you might say, a firm grasp of decorum.

It might he recounted, by the way, that on one of those visits to "Rose Cottage" Duncan showed an unexpected interest in fishing. Equipped with rod, line, etc., he would set off up the road towards Levishie to try his luck in one of the pools of the Moriston. But for reasons best known to himself his footsteps would stray towards lower Achnaconeran. Perhaps be was thinking of trying the hill lochs and perhaps the weather became unsuitable.

Whatever happened, Duncan would skirt the fields until he hit the road to Invermoriston and for some unknown reason he would return to ’’Rose Cottage” not in quite the same state of mind as he had set out. He may not have had any luck at the fishing, but he was more cheerful. Mind you, he did bring a fish back at times, but it may be whispered that it hadn’t been landed by him.... (But that is perhaps another story - let’s get, as Burns put in in "Tam 0’ Shanter", " to our tale").

One Saturday evening, about 1950, Allyvick and Duncan the Carrier set off to spend an hour or so in one of Invermoriston’s meeting places. You will have heard of the man in the New Testament who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among a band of thieves. Well, that, night Allyvick and Duncan went down from "Rose Cottage" to Invermoriston and fell among a band of Invermoriston worthies. There was Danny the Pier, there were Willie Archie and old Scott from Primrose Bay; Jimmy MacEwan and Angie Stoddart from Port Clair, there was Willie Fraser from the Street; and there were Angie Campbell and - of course - the gentleman in the wayward plus fours from Achnaconeran.

That night, it seems, "drave on" with mair "sangs and clatter" than usual. The place they were in closed (it was nine o'clock then), but it was the custom then for the men of the place to carry on with their conversations outside at the door. No doubt some sustenance was produced from capacious and secure "poacher’s pockets" to refresh them in their discussion.

But the time came at last when they "maun ride" to their various homes. Danny set off for the Pier in his shooting brake; Willie Archie and old Scott for Primrose Bay on their push bikes, Jimmy MacEwan and Angie Stoddart for Port Clair, also on push bikes; Willie Fraser for the Street, pushing his push bike; and Angie Campbell and the gentleman in plus fours for Achnaconeran on Angie’s motorbike. And Allyvick and Duncan the Carrier set off for "Rose Cottage". They had no conveyance. The road was not as straight then as it is now. Nor as broad. There were no street lights, no pavement, no safety barrier. It was a dark, moonless night. And whisper it; there must have been a warlock out and about on that stretch of road that night. Or perhaps a bogle or two....

For that is the only explanation for what followed. The first thing that, happened was that Duncan must have got such a fright that he failed to take the corner just before you come to the steps leading up to the Church and Manse. He couped over the wooden paling on the bottom side of the road and fell down the Bank among the ferns, brackens, grasses reeds and mosses above the river. Where he lay in a kind of trance.

Allyvick, however, knew the road better than Duncan, and no doubt knew about the warlocks and bogles. For he made a dash for it, and did in fact get more than half way across the nearest running water, and to safety at the Post Office Bridge Burn. But his efforts must have so exhausted him that he rested for a while on the wall of the bridge. Being across the burn he was no longer in any physical danger from the bogles of course, but their influence must still have been strong, for he too fell into a kind of trance…..

But let's switch the scene from those mysterious happenings In "Rose Cottage". There, when Duncan wasn’t returning, his wife had begun to "nurse her wrath to keep it warm". She was becoming more and more vociferous and agitated by the hour, and Kate finally realised there would be no rest until she herself went to try and track down the errant s. So she put her coat and scarf on, picked up the torch and set off, flashing the torch from side to side (to scare off any bogles that happened to be out). She came across Allyvick on the wall of the Post Office bridge, still in a trance. She decided she had better supervise his homecoming first. This took some time.

But when Emily saw that Allyvick was home and no Duncan, and that Duncan wasn’t to be seen, all pandemonium broke out. And Kate had to set off again. Along the dark and narrow road, past the Post Office bridge, past the Post Office, now in darkness. She came to the corner below the church and was trudging on when she heard weird and eerie noises coming from below the road. No doubt she thought of the bogles, but she stopped and shone her torch. And there was Duncan, wet and mud bespattered, attempting to scrabble up the bank to regain the road. He too was still in a bit of a trance and he too had to have his homecoming supervised by Kate.

We will leave what Emily said to Duncan to your imaginations and close on this note about Kate. What infuriated Kate was not her having to rescue those two gentlemen from their bewitchment by the bogles. She had been trauchled before and would be again. No, what annoyed her was that Emily blamed her husband’s condition on Allyvick, on “Rose Cottage”, on Invermoriston. Kate did not like people putting on airs and graces and when they went on and on she used language which, in the Gaelic, was expressive and to the point.

D. MacD (Duncan Archie)