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An Introduction to Mythology

Page: 103

Gordon returned as usual, but on the very same day he gave a week's notice of his intention to leave his situation. At the end of that time it was rumoured that he had bought up nearly the entire buildings on one side of the Broad Wynd, and it was this gigantic investment which gave rise to the story that he must have sold himself to the Devil. He was now known and addressed as 'Laird' Gordon, visited his tenants in turn, and when they announced their intention of giving up their houses "because they disliked becoming tenants of the Deil," he[Pg 231] passed no comment upon their resolution. But there was not much house-room in Leith in those days, and one by one the objectors returned; but they never succeeded in getting an interview with Gordon, for when they called upon him he was either deeply engaged or had just left the house. As term-time drew nigh frantic endeavours were made to see him, but he could never be found alone: a tall dark man of authoritative mien always accompanied him. This personage was silent unless directly appealed to, but he seemed to control the Warlock Laird's every movement. On one occasion Gordon summoned all the tenants together, and, entering alone the room where they were met, he desired such of them as were in earnest in their applications to stand on their heads and strike their feet against the wall. This they very naturally refused to do, whereupon his sombre-looking companion appeared, and at once every man found himself standing on his head and kicking his heels in the air. Those who wished to retain their houses were allowed to do so, but were subjected to many annoyances by Gordon and his familiar, who paid them visits at all manner of unreasonable hours. On one occasion they were brought together into one house and compelled to dance until they fell down through sheer exhaustion. Those who had occupied new dwellings were so persecuted and tormented that they were glad to return to the Broad Wynd in order to free themselves of annoyance. But one day these cantrips ceased, and for many weeks nothing was seen of the Warlock Laird. When the day came round to call upon him and disburse rents, the tenants went in a body to the Yard-heads. A strange-looking man opened the door of Gordon's house at their summons and they were ushered into an apartment where they did not remain long before they heard piercing shrieks of agony mingled with prayers for mercy proceeding from the room directly overhead. They were about to leave the house, when the door of the room they were in was dashed open and Gordon rushed into their midst, closely pursued by his fiendish companion. He earnestly besought their protection, but they were so paralysed with fear as to be incapable of assisting him in any way. The dark and sinister-looking being who had[Pg 232] companioned him so long threw himself on the trembling wretch and dragged him forcibly into the passage outside. A great slamming of doors and clanking of chains followed: then a terrible explosion shook the house from cellar to garret. Terrified beyond expression, Gordon's tenants made what haste they could to escape from so dangerous a locality, and on reaching the doorway they discovered that the tower connected with the house had been hurled to earth and that a strong sulphurous odour hung about its ruins. Some of them even asserted that as they crossed the threshold the ground in front of the house opened and they saw Gordon descending through it, accompanied by his mysterious companion. Nevermore was Anthony Gordon seen in the streets of the port, and his house remained a shunned and dreaded spot until time laid the cottage in ruins beside the prostrate tower.


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