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Title: The Deemster
Author: Caine, Hall, Sir, 1853-1931
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Deemster" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



The Shadow of a Crime

THE DEEMSTER

by

HALL CAINE

Hall Caine's Best Books
In Three Volumes

Volume I



P. F. Collier & Son
New York



CONTENTS

   CHAPTER I.       THE DEATH OF OLD EWAN
   CHAPTER II.      A MAN CHILD IS BORN
   CHAPTER III.     THE CHRISTENING OF YOUNG EWAN
   CHAPTER IV.      THE DEEMSTER OF MAN
   CHAPTER V.       THE MANXMAN'S BISHOP
   CHAPTER VI.      THE COZY NEST AT BISHOP'S COURT
   CHAPTER VII.     DANNY THE MADCAP
   CHAPTER VIII.    PASSING THE LOVE OF WOMEN
   CHAPTER IX.      THE SERVICE ON THE SHORE
   CHAPTER X.       THE FIRST NIGHT WITH THE HERRINGS
   CHAPTER XI.      THE HERRING BREAKFAST
   CHAPTER XII.     DAN'S PENANCE
   CHAPTER XIII.    HOW EWAN MOURNED FOR HIS WIFE
   CHAPTER XIV.     WRESTLING WITH FATE
   CHAPTER XV.      THE LIE THAT EWAN TOLD
   CHAPTER XVI.     THE PLOWING MATCH
   CHAPTER XVII.    THE WRONG WAY WITH DAN
   CHAPTER XVIII.   THE BLIND WOMAN'S SECOND SIGHT
   CHAPTER XIX.     HOW EWAN FOUND DAN
   CHAPTER XX.      BLIND PASSION AND PAIN
   CHAPTER XXI.     THE VOICE IN THE NIGHT
   CHAPTER XXII.    ALONE, ALONE--ALL, ALL ALONE!
   CHAPTER XXIII.   ALONE ON A WIDE, WIDE SEA
   CHAPTER XXIV.    "THERE'S GOLD ON THE CUSHAGS YET."
   CHAPTER XXV.     A RESURRECTION INDEED
   CHAPTER XXVI.    HOW EWAN CAME TO CHURCH
   CHAPTER XXVII.   HOW THE NEWS CAME TO THE BISHOP
   CHAPTER XXVIII.  THE CHILD GHOST IN THE HOUSE
   CHAPTER XXIX.    BY BISHOP'S LAW OR DEEMSTER'S
   CHAPTER XXX.     THE DEEMSTER'S INQUEST
   CHAPTER XXXI.    FATHER AND SON
   CHAPTER XXXII.   DIVINATION
   CHAPTER XXXIII.  KIDNAPPED
   CHAPTER XXXIV.   A RUDE TRIBUNAL
   CHAPTER XXXV.    THE COURT OF GENERAL JAIL DELIVERY
   CHAPTER XXXVI.   CUT OFF FROM THE PEOPLE

   THE BRIEF RELATION OF DANIEL MYLREA

   CHAPTER XXXVII.  OF HIS OUTCAST STATE
   CHAPTER XXXVIII. OF HIS WAY OF LIFE
   CHAPTER XXXIX.   OF THE GHOSTLY HAND UPON HIM
   CHAPTER XL.      OF HIS GREAT LONELINESS
   CHAPTER XLI.     OF HOW HE KEPT HIS MANHOOD
   CHAPTER XLII.    OF THE BREAKING OF THE CURSE
   CHAPTER XLIII.   OF HIS GREAT RESOLVE
   CHAPTER XLIV.    THE SWEATING SICKNESS
   CHAPTER XLV.     "OUR FATHER, WHICH ART IN HEAVEN"



THE DEEMSTER



CHAPTER I

THE DEATH OF OLD EWAN


Thorkell Mylrea had waited long for a dead man's shoes, but he was
wearing them at length. He was forty years of age; his black hair was
thin on the crown and streaked with gray about the temples; the
crow's-feet were thick under his small eyes, and the backs of his lean
hands were coated with a reddish down. But he had life in every vein,
and restless energy in every limb.

His father, Ewan Mylrea, had lived long, and mourned much, and died in
sorrow. The good man had been a patriarch among his people, and never a
serener saint had trod the ways of men. He was already an old man when
his wife died. Over her open grave he tried to say, "The Lord gave, and
the Lord hath taken away; blessed--" But his voice faltered and broke.
Though he lived ten years longer, he held up his head no more. Little by
little he relinquished all active interest in material affairs. The
world had lost its light for him, and he was traveling in the dusk.

On his sons, Thorkell, the elder, Gilcrist, the younger, with nearly
five years between them, the conduct of his estate devolved. Never were
brothers more unlike. Gilcrist, resembling his father, was of a simple
and tranquil soul; Thorkell's nature was fiery, impetuous, and crafty.
The end was the inevitable one; the heel of Thorkell was too soon on the
neck of Gilcrist.

Gilcrist's placid spirit overcame its first vexation, and he seemed
content to let his interests slip from his hands. Before he was out
Thorkell Mylrea was in effect the master of Ballamona; his younger
brother was nightly immersed in astronomy and the Fathers, and the old
man was sitting daily, in his slippers, in the high-backed armchair by
the ingle, over which these words were cut in the black oak: "God's
Providence is mine inheritance."

They were strange effects that followed. People said they had never
understood the extraordinary fortunes of Ballamona. Again and again the
rents were raised throughout the estate, until the farmers cried in the
grip of their poverty that they would neither go nor starve. Then the
wagons of Thorkell Mylrea, followed close at their tail-boards by the
carts of the clergy, drove into the cornfields when the corn was cut,
and picked up the stooks and bore them away amid the deep curses of the
bare-armed reapers, who looked on in their impotent rage.

Nevertheless, Thorkell Mylrea said, far and wide, without any show of
reserve, and with every accent of sincerity, that never before had his
father's affairs worn so grave a look. He told Ewan as much time after
time, and then the troubled old face looked puzzled. The end of many
earnest consultations between father and son, as the one sat by the open
hearth and the other leaned against the lettered ingle, was a speedy
recourse to certain moneys that lay at an English bank, as well as the
old man's signature to documents of high moment.

Old Ewan's spirits sank yet lower year by year, but he lived on
peacefully enough. As time went by, he talked less, and his humid eyes
seemed to look within in degree as they grew dim to things without. But
the day came at length when the old man died in his chair, before the
slumberous peat fire on the hearth, quietly, silently, without a
movement, his graspless fingers fumbling a worm-eaten hour-glass, his
long waves of thin white hair falling over his drooping shoulders, and
his upturned eyes fixed in a strong stare on the text carved on the
rannel-tree shelf, "God's Providence is mine inheritance."

That night Thorkell sat alone at the same ingle, in the same chair,
glancing at many parchments, and dropping them one by one into the fire.
Long afterward, when idle tongues were set to wag, it was said that the
elder son of Ewan Mylrea had found a means whereby to sap away his
father's personalty. Then it was remembered that through all his strange
misfortunes Thorkell had borne an equal countenance.

They buried the old man under the elder-tree by the wall of the
churchyard that stands over against the sea. It seemed as if half of the
inhabitants of the island came to his funeral, and six sets of bearers
claimed their turn to carry him to the grave. The day was a gloomy day
of winter; there was not a bird or a breath in the heavy air; the sky
was low and empty; the long dead sea was very gray and cold; and over
the unplowed land the withered stalks of the last crop lay dank on the
mold. When the company returned to Ballamona they sat down to eat and
drink and make merry, for "excessive sorrow is exceeding dry." No one
asked for the will; there was no will because there was no personalty,
and the lands were by law the inheritance of the eldest son. Thorkell
was at the head of his table, and he smiled a little, and sometimes
reached over the board to touch with his glass the glass that was held
out toward him. Gilcrist had stood with these mourners under the empty
sky, and his heart was as bare and desolate, but he could endure their
company no longer. In an agony of grief and remorse, and rage as well,
he got up from his untouched food and walked away to his own room. It
was a little, quiet nest of a room that looked out by one small window
over the marshy Curraghs that lay between the house and the sea. There
Gilcrist sat alone that day in a sort of dull stupor.

The daylight had gone, and the revolving lamps on the headland of Ayre
were twinkling red after black over the blank waters, when the door
opened and Thorkell entered. Gilcrist stirred the fire, and it broke
into a bright blaze. Thorkell's face wore a curious expression.

"I have been thinking a good deal about you, Gilcrist; especially during
the last few days. In fact, I have been troubled about you, to say the
truth," said Thorkell, and then he paused. "Affairs are in a bad way at
Ballamona--very."

Gilcrist made no response whatever, but clasped his hands about his knee
and looked steadily into the fire.

"We are neither of us young men now, but if you should think
of--of--anything, I should consider it wrong to stand--to put myself in
your way--to keep you here, that is--to your disadvantage, you know."

Thorkell was standing with his back to the fire, and his fingers
interlaced behind him.

Gilcrist rose to his feet. "Very well," he said, with a strained
quietness, and then turned toward the window and looked out at the dark
sea. Only the sea's voice from the shore beyond the churchyard broke the
silence in that little room.

Thorkell stood a moment, leaning on the mantel-shelf, and the flickering
lights of the fire seemed to make sinister smiles on his face. Then he
went out without a word.

Next morning, at daybreak, Gilcrist Mylrea was riding toward Derby Haven
with a pack in green cloth across his saddle-bow. He took passage by the
"King Orry," an old sea-tub plying once a week to Liverpool. From
Liverpool he went on to Cambridge to offer himself as a sizar at the
University.

It had never occurred to any one that Thorkell Mylrea would marry. But
his father was scarcely cold in his grave, the old sea-tub that took his
brother across the Channel had hardly grounded at Liverpool, when
Thorkell Mylrea offered his heart and wrinkled hand, and the five
hundred acres of Ballamona, to a lady twenty years of age, who lived at
a distance of some six miles from his estate. It would be more precise
to say that the liberal tender was made to the lady's father, for her
own will was little more than a cypher in the bargaining. She was a girl
of sweet spirit, very tender and submissive, and much under the spell of
religious feeling. Her mother had died during her infancy, and she had
been brought up in a household that was without other children, in a
gaunt rectory that never echoed with children's voices. Her father was
Archdeacon of the island, Archdeacon Teare; her own name was Joance.

If half the inhabitants of the island turned out at old Ewan's funeral,
the entire population of four parishes made a holiday of his son's
wedding. The one followed hard upon the other, and thrift was not absent
from either. Thorkell was married in the early spring at the
Archdeacon's church, at Andreas.

It would be rash to say that the presence of the great company at the
wedding was intended as a tribute to the many virtues of Thorkell
Mylrea. Indeed, it was as well that the elderly bridegroom could not
overhear the conversation with which some of the homely folk beguiled
the way.

"Aw, the murther of it," said one buirdly Manxman, "five-and-forty if
he's a day, and a wizened old polecat anyway."

"You'd really think the gel's got no feelin's. Aw, shockin', shockin',
extraordinary!"

"And a rael good gel too, they're sayin'. Amazin'! Amazin'!"

The marriage of Thorkell was a curious ceremony. First there walked
abreast the fiddler and the piper, playing vigorously the "Black and
Gray"; then came the bridegroom's men carrying osiers, as emblems of
their superiority over the bridesmaids, who followed them. Three times
the company passed round the church before entering it, and then they
trooped up toward the communion-rail.

Thorkell went through the ceremony with the air of a whipped terrier. On
the outside he was gay in frills and cuffs, and his thin hair was
brushed crosswise over the bald patch on his crown. He wore buckled
shoes and blue laces to his breeches. But his brave exterior lent him
small support as he took the ungloved hand of his girlish bride. He gave
his responses in a voice that first faltered, and then sent out a quick,
harsh, loud pipe. No such gaunt and grim shadow of a joyful bridegroom
ever before knelt beside a beautiful bride, and while the Archdeacon
married the spectre of a happy man to his own submissive daughter, the
whispered comments of the throng that filled nave and aisles and gallery
sometimes reached his own ears.

"You wouldn't think it, now, that the craythur's sold his own gel, and
him preaching there about the covenant and Isaac and Rebecca, and all
that!"

"Hush, man, it's Laban and Jacob he's meaning."

When the ceremony had come to an end, and the bridegroom's eyes were no
longer fixed in a stony stare on the words of the Commandments printed
in black and white under the chancel window, the scene underwent a swift
change. In one minute Thorkell was like another man. All his abject
bearing fell away. When the party was clear of the churchyard four of
the groom's men started for the Rectory at a race, and the first to
reach it won a flask of brandy, with which he returned at high speed to
the wedding company. Then Thorkell, as the custom was, bade his friends
to form a circle where they stood in the road, while he drank of the
brandy and handed the flask to his wife.

"Custom must be indulged with custom," said he, "or custom will weep."

After that the company moved on until they reached the door of the
Archdeacon's house, where the bride cake was broken over the bride's
hand, and then thrown to be scrambled for by the noisy throng that blew
neat's horns and fired guns and sang ditties by the way.

Thorkell, with the chivalrous bearing of an old courtier, delivered up
his wife to the flock of ladies who were ready to pounce upon her at the
door of the Rectory. Then he mingled freely with the people, and
chattered and bantered, and made quips and quibbles. Finally, he invited
all and sundry to partake freely of the oaten cake and ale that he had
himself brought from Ballamona in his car for the refreshment of his own
tenants there present. The fare was Lenten fare for a wedding day, and
some of the straggle-headed troop grumbled, and some sniffled, and some
scratched their heads, and some laughed outright. The beer and bread
were left almost untouched.

Thorkell was blind to the discontent of his guests, but the Archdeacon
perceived it, and forthwith called such of the tumultuous assemblage as
came from a distance into his barns. There the creels were turned bottom
up, and four close-jointed gates lifted off their hinges were laid on
the top for tables. Then from pans and boilers that simmered in the
kitchen a great feast was spread. First came the broth, well loaded with
barley and cabbage, and not destitute of the flavor of numerous sheep's
heads. This was served in wooden piggins, shells being used as spoons.
Then suet pudding, as round as a well-fed salmon, and as long as a 30
lb. cod. Last of all a fat hog, roasted whole, and cut with a cleaver,
but further dissected only by teeth and fingers, for the unfastidious
Manxman cared nothing for knife and fork.

After that there were liquor and lusty song. And all the time there
could be heard, over the boisterous harmony of the feasters within the
barn, the yet noisier racket of the people without.

By this time, whatever sentiment of doubtful charity had been harbored
in the icy breast of the Manxman had been thawed away under the
charitable effects of good cheer, and Thorkell Mylrea and Archdeacon
Teare began to appear in truly Christian character.

"It's none so ould he is yet, at all at all."

"Ould? He hasn't the hayseed out of his hair, boy."

"And a shocking powerful head-piece at him for all."

There were rough jokes and dubious toasts, and Thorkell enjoyed them
all. There was dancing, too, and fiddling, and the pipes at intervals,
and all went merry until midnight, when the unharmonious harmonies of
fiddle and pipes and unsteady song went off over the Curraghs in various
directions.

Next morning Thorkell took his wife home to Ballamona. They drove in the
open springless car in which he had brought down the oaten cake and ale.
Thorkell had seen that the remains of these good viands were thriftily
gathered up. He took them back home with him, carefully packed under the
board on which his young wife sat.



CHAPTER II

A MAN CHILD IS BORN


Three years passed and Thorkell's fortunes grew apace. He toiled early
and late. Time had no odd days or holiday in his calendar. Every day was
working day except Sunday, and then Thorkell, like a devout Christian,
went to church. Thorkell believed that he was a devoutly religious man,
but rumor whispered that he was better able to make his words fly up
than to prevent his thoughts from remaining below.

His wife did not seem to be a happy woman. During the three years of her
married life she had not borne her husband children. It began to dawn
upon her that Thorkell's sole desire in marriage had been a child, a
son, to whom he could leave what no man can carry away.

One Sunday morning, as Thorkell and his wife were on their way to
church, a young woman of about twenty passed them, and as she went by
she curtsied low to the lady. The girl had a comely, nut-brown face,
with dark wavy clusters of hair tumbling over her forehead from beneath
a white sun-bonnet, of which the poke had been dexterously rolled back.
It was summer, and her light blue bodice was open and showed a white
under-bodice and a full neck. Her sleeves were rolled up over the
elbows, and her dimpled arms were bare and brown. There was a look of
coquetry in her hazel eyes as they shot up their dark lustre under her
long lashes, and then dropped as quickly to her feet. She wore buckle
shoes with the open clock tops.

Thorkell's quick eyes glanced over her, and when the girl curtsied to
his wife he fell back the few paces that he was in front of her.

"Who is she?" he asked.

Thorkell's wife replied that the girl was a net-maker from near
Peeltown.

"What's her name?"

Thorkell's wife answered that the girl's name was Mally Kerruish.

"Who are her people? Has she any?"

Thorkell's wife explained that the girl had a mother only, who was poor
and worked in the fields, and had come to Ballamona for help during the
last hard winter.

"Humph! Doesn't look as if the daughter wanted for much. How does the
girl come by her fine feathers if her mother lives on charity?"

Thorkell's wizened face was twisted into grotesque lines. His wife's
face saddened, and her voice dropped as she hinted in faltering accents
that "scandal did say--say--"

"Well, woman, what does scandal say?" asked Thorkell; and his voice had
a curious lilt, and his mouth wore a strange smile.

"It says--I'm afraid, Thorkell, the poor girl is no better than she
ought to be."

Thorkell snorted, and then laughed in his throat like a frisky gelding.

"I thought she looked like a lively young puffin," he said, and then
trotted on in front, his head rolling between his shoulders, and his
eyes down. After going a few yards further he slackened speed again.

"Lives near Peeltown, you say--a net-maker--Mally--is it Mally
Kerruish?"

Thorkell's wife answered with a nod of the head, and then her husband
faced about, and troubled her with no further conversation until he drew
up at the church door, and said, "Quick, woman, quick, and mind you shut
the pew door after you."

But "God remembered Rachel and hearkened to her," and then, for the
first time, the wife of Thorkell Mylrea began to show a cheerful
countenance. Thorkell's own elevation of spirits was yet more
noticeable. He had heretofore showed no discontent with the old
homestead that had housed his people for six generations, but he now
began to build another and much larger house on the rising ground at the
foot of Slieu Dhoo. His habits underwent some swift and various changes.
He gave away no gray blankets that winter, the itinerant poor who were
"on the houses" often went empty from his door, and--most appalling
change of all--he promptly stopped his tithe. When the parson's cart
drove up to Ballamona, Thorkell turned the horse's head, and gave the
flank a sharp cut with his whip. The parson came in white with wrath.

"Let every pig dig for herself," said Thorkell. "I'll daub grease on the
rump of your fat pig no more."

Thorkell's new homestead rose rapidly, and when the walls were ready for
the roof the masons and carpenters went up to Ballamona for the
customary feast of cowree and jough and binjean.

"What! Is it true, then, as the saying is," Thorkell exclaimed at the
sight of them, "that when the sport is the merriest it is time to give
up?"

They ate no cowree at Ballamona that night and they drank no jough.

"We've been going to the goat's house for wool," grunted one of them as
they trudged home.

"Aw, well, man, and what can you get of the cat but his skin?" growled
another.

Next day they put on the first timbers of the roof, and the following
night a great storm swept over the island, and the roof-timbers were
torn away, not a spar or purlin being left in its place. Thorkell fumed
at the storm and swore at the men, and when the wind subsided he had the
work done afresh. The old homestead of Ballamona was thatched, but the
new one must be slated, and slates were quarried at and carted to Slieu
Dhoo, and run on to the new roof. A dead calm had prevailed during these
operations, but it was the calm that lies in the heart of the storm, and
the night after they were completed the other edge of the cyclone passed
over the island, tearing up the trees by their roots, and shaking the
old Ballamona to its foundations. Thorkell Mylrea slept not a wink, but
tramped up and down his bedroom the long night through; and next
morning, at daybreak, he drew the blind of his window, and peered
through the haze of the dawn to where his new house stood on the breast
of Slieu Dhoo. He could just descry its blue walls--it was roofless.

The people began to mutter beneath their breath.

"Aw, man, it's a judgment," said one.

"He has been middlin' hard on the widda and fatherless, and it's like
enough that there's Them aloft as knows it."

"What's that they're saying?" said one old crone, "what comes with the
wind goes with the water."

"Och, I knew his father--him and me were same as brothers--and a good
ould man for all."

"Well, and many a good cow has a bad calf," said the old woman.

Thorkell went about like a cloud of thunder, and when he heard that the
accidents to his new homestead were ascribed to supernatural agencies he
flashed like forked lightning.

"Where there are geese there's dirt," he said, "and where there are
women there's talking. Am I to be frightened if an old woman sneezes?"

But before Thorkell set to work again he paid his tithe. He paid it with
a rick of discolored oats that had been cut in the wet and threshed
before it was dry. Thorkell had often wondered whether his cows would
eat it. The next Sunday morning the parson paused before his sermon to
complain that certain of his parishioners, whom he would not name at
present, appeared to think that what was too bad for the pigs was good
enough for the priests. Let the Church of God have no more of their
pig-swill. Thorkell in his pew chuckled audibly, and muttered something
about paying for a dead horse.

It was spring when the second roof was blown down, and the new house
stood roofless until early summer. Then Thorkell sent four lean pigs
across to the Rectory, and got his carpenters together and set them to
work. The roofing proceeded without interruption.

The primrose was not yet gone, the swallow had not yet come, and the
young grass under the feet of the oxen was still small and sweet, when
Thorkell's wife took to her bed. Then all Ballamona was astir.
Hommy-beg, the deaf gardener of Ballamona, was sent in the hot haste of
his best two miles an hour to the village, commonly known as the Street,
to summon the midwife. This good woman was called Kerry Quayle; she was
a spinster of forty, and she was all but blind.

"I'm thinking the woman-body is after going on the straw," said
Hommy-beg, when he reached the Street, and this was the sum of the
message that he delivered.

"Then we'd better be off, as the saying is," remarked Kerry, who never
accepted responsibility for any syllable she ever uttered.

When they got to Ballamona, Thorkell Mylrea bustled Hommy-beg into the
square springless car, and told him to drive to Andreas, and fetch the
Archdeacon without an hour's delay. Hommy-beg set off at fine paces that
carried him to the Archdeaconry a matter of four miles an hour.

Thorkell followed Kerry Quayle to the room above. When they stepped into
the bedroom Thorkell drew the midwife aside to a table on which a large
candle stood in a tall brass candlestick, with gruesome gargoyles carved
on the base and upper flange. From this table he picked up a small
Testament bound in shiny leather, with silver clasps.

"I'm as great a man as any in the island," said Thorkell, in his shrill
whisper, "for laughing at the simpletons that talk about witches and
boaganes and the like of that."

"So you are, as the saying is," said Kerry.

"I'd have the law on the lot of them, if I had my way," said Thorkell,
still holding the book.

"Aw, and shockin' powerful luck it would be, as the old body said, if
all the witches and boaganes in the island could be run into the sea,"
said Kerry.

"Pshaw! I'm talking of the simpletons that believe in them," said
Thorkell, snappishly. "I'd clap them all in Castle Rushen."

"Aw, yes, and clean law and clean justice, too, as the Irishman said."

"So don't think I want the midwife to take her oath in my house," said
Thorkell.

"Och, no, of course not. You wouldn't bemean yourself, as they say."

"But, then, you know what the saying is, Kerry. 'Custom must be indulged
with custom, or custom will weep;'" and, saying this, Thorkell's voice
took a most insinuating tone.

"Aw, now, and I'm as good as here and there one at standing up for
custom, as the saying is," said the midwife.

The end of it all was that Kerry Quayle took there and then a solemn
oath not to use sorcery or incantation of any kind in the time of
travail, not to change the infant at the hour of its birth, not to leave
it in the room for a week afterward without spreading the tongs over its
crib, and much else of the like solemn purport.

The dusk deepened, and the Archdeacon had not yet arrived. Night came on
and the room was dark, but Thorkell would not allow a lamp to be brought
in, or a fire to be lighted. Some time later, say six hours after
Hommy-beg had set out on his six-mile journey, a lumbrous, jolting sound
of heavy wheels came from the road below the Curragh, and soon afterward
the Archdeacon entered the room.

"So dark," he said, on stumbling across the threshold.

"Ah, Archdeacon," said Thorkell, with the unaccustomed greeting of an
outstretched hand, "the Church shall bring light to the chamber here,"
and Thorkell handed the tinder-box to the Archdeacon and led him to the
side of the table on which the candle stood.

In an instant the Archdeacon, laughing a little, or protesting meekly
against his clerical honors, was striking the flint, when Thorkell laid
a hand on his arm.

"Wait one moment; of course you know how I despise superstition?"

"Ah! of course, of course," said the Archdeacon.

"But, then, you know the old saying, Archdeacon, 'Custom must be
indulged with custom,' you know it?" And Thorkell's face shut up like a
nut-cracker.

"So I must bless the candle. Eh, is that it?" said the Archdeacon,
with a low gurgle; and the next moment he was gabbling in a quick
undertone through certain words that seemed to be all one word:
"OLord-Jesus-Christ-bless-Thou-this-creature-of-a-waxen-taper-that-on-
what-place-soever-it-be-lighted-or-set-the-devil-may-flee-from-that-
habitation-and-no-more-disquiet-them-that-serve--Thee!"

After the penultimate word there was a short pause, and at the last word
there was the sharp crack of the flint, and in an instant the candle was
lighted.

Then the Archdeacon turned toward the bed and exchanged some words with
his daughter. The bed was a mahogany four-post one, with legs like
rocks, a hood like a pulpit sounding-board, and tapestry curtains like a
muddy avalanche. The Archdeacon--he was a small man, with a face like a
russet apple--leaned against one of the bed-posts, and said, in a tone
of banter:

"Why, Thorkell, and if you're for indulging custom, how comes it that
you have not hung up your hat?"

"My hat--my hat!" said Thorkell, in perplexity.

"Aw, now," said the midwife, "the master's as great a man as any in the
island at laughing at the men craythurs that hang up their hats over the
straw to fright the boaganes, as the old woman said."

Thorkell's laughter instantly burst forth to justify the midwife's
statement.

"Ha, ha! Hang up my hat! Well now, well now! Drives away the black
spirits from the birth-bed--isn't that what the dunces say? It's twenty
years since I saw the like of it done, and I'd forgotten the old custom.
Must look funny, very, the good man's hat perched up on the bed-post?
What d'ye say, Archdeacon, shall we have it up? Just for the laugh, you
know, ha, ha!"

In another moment Thorkell was gone from the room, and his titter could
be heard from the stairs; it ebbed away and presently flowed back again,
and Thorkell was once more by the bedside, laughing immoderately, and
perching his angular soft hat on the topmost knob of one of the posts at
the foot of the bed.

Then Thorkell and the Archdeacon went down to the little room that had
once been Gilcrist's room, looking over the Curragh to the sea.

Before daybreak next morning a man child was born to Thorkell Mylrea,
and an heir to the five hundred acres of Ballamona.



CHAPTER III

THE CHRISTENING OF YOUNG EWAN


In the dead waste of that night the old wall of Ballamona echoed to the
noise of hurrying feet. Thorkell himself ran like a squirrel, hither and
thither, breaking out now and again into shrill peals of hysterical
laughter; while the women took the kettle to the room above, and
employed themselves there in sundry mysterious ordinances on which no
male busybody might intrude. Thorkell dived down into the kitchen, and
rooted about in the meal casks for the oaten cake, and into the larder
for the cheese, and into the cupboard for the bread-basket known as the
"peck."

Hommy-beg, who had not been permitted to go home that night, had coiled
himself in the settle drawn up before the kitchen fire, and was now
snoring lustily. Thorkell roused him, and set him to break the oatcake
and cheese into small pieces into the peck, and, when this was done, to
scatter it broadcast on the staircase and landing, and on the
garden-path immediately in front of the house; while he himself carried
a similar peck, piled up like a pyramid with similar pieces of oatcake
and cheese, to the room whence there issued at intervals a thin, small
voice, that was the sweetest music that had ever yet fallen on
Thorkell's ear.

What high commotion did the next day witness! For the first time since
that lurid day when old Ewan Mylrea was laid under the elder-tree in the
churchyard by the sea, Ballamona kept open house. The itinerant poor,
who made the circuit of the houses, came again, and lifted the latch
without knocking, and sat at the fire without being asked, and ate of
the oatcake and the cheese. And upstairs, where a meek white face looked
out with an unfamiliar smile from behind sheets that were hardly more
white, the robustious statespeople from twenty miles around sat down in
their odorous atmosphere of rude health and high spirits, and noise and
laughter, to drink their glass of new brewed jough, and to spread on
their oaten bread a thick crust of the rum-butter that stood in the
great blue china bowl on the little table near the bed-head. And
Thorkell--how nimbly he hopped about, and encouraged his visitors to
drink, and rallied them if they ceased to eat!

"Come, man, come," he said a score of times, "shameful leaving is worse
than shameful eating--eat, drink!"

And they ate, and they drank, and they laughed, and they sang, till the
bedroom reeked with the fumes of a pot-house, and the confusion of
tongues therein was worse than at the foot of Babel.

Throughout three long jovial weeks the visitors came and went, and every
day the "blithe bread" was piled in the peck for the poor of the earth,
and scattered on the paths for the good spirits of the air. And when
people jested upon this, and said that not since the old days of their
grandfathers had the boaganes and the fairies been so civilly treated,
Thorkell laughed noisily, and said what great fun it was that they
should think he was superstitious, and that custom must be indulged with
custom, or custom would weep!

Then came the christening, and to this ceremony the whole country round
was invited. Thorkell was now a man of consequence, and the neighbors
high and low trooped in with presents for the young Christian.

Kerry, the midwife, who was nurse as well, carried the child to church,
and the tiny red burden lay cooing softly at her breast in a very
hillock of white swaddlings. Thorkell walked behind, his little eyes
twinkling under his bushy eyebrows; and on his arm his wife leaned
heavily after every feeble step, her white waxwork face bright with the
smile of first motherhood.

The Archdeacon met the company at the west porch and they gathered for
the baptism about the font in the aisle: half-blind Kerry with the
infant, Thorkell and his young wife, the two godfathers, the Vicar
General and the High Bailiff of Peeltown, and the godmother, the High
Bailiff's wife, and behind this circle a mixed throng of many sorts.
After the gospel and the prayers, the Archdeacon, in his white surplice,
took the infant into his hands and called on the godparents to name the
child, and they answered Ewan. Then, as the drops fell over the wee
blinking eyes, and all voices were hushed in silence and awe, there came
to the open porch and looked into the dusky church a little fleecy lamb,
all soft and white and beautiful. It lifted its innocent and dazed face
where it stood in the morning sunshine, on the grass of the graves, and
bleated, and bleated, as if it had strayed from its mother and was lost.

The Archdeacon paused with his drooping finger half raised over the
other innocent face at his breast, Thorkell's features twitched, and the
tears ran down the white cheeks of his wife.

In an instant the baby-lamb had hobbled away, and before the Archdeacon
had restored the child to the arms of blind Kerry or mumbled the last of
the prayers, there came the hum of many voices from the distance. The
noise came rapidly nearer, and as it approached it broke into a great
tumult of men's deep shouts and women's shrill cries.

The iron hasp of the lych-gate to the churchyard was heard to chink, and
at the same moment there was the sound of hurrying footsteps on the
paved way. The company that had gathered about the font broke up
abruptly, and made for the porch with looks of inquiry and amazement.
There, at the head of a mixed throng of the riff-raff of the parish,
bareheaded men, women with bold faces, and children with naked feet, a
man held a young woman by the arm and pulled her toward the church. He
was a stalwart fellow, stern of feature, iron gray, and he gripped the
girl's bare brown arm like a vise.

"Make way there! Come, mistress, and no struggling," he shouted, and he
tugged the girl after him, and then pushed her before him.

She was young; twenty at most. Her comely face was drawn hard with lines
of pain; her hazel eyes flashed with wrath; and where her white
sun-bonnet had fallen back from her head on to her shoulders, the knots
of her dark hair, draggled and tangled in the scuffle, tumbled in masses
over her neck and cheeks.

It was Mally Kerruish, and the man who held her and forced her along was
the parish sumner, the church constable.

"Make way, I tell you!" shouted the sumner to the throng that crowded
upon him, and into the porch, and through the company that had come for
the christening. When the Archdeacon stepped down from the side of the
font, the sumner with his prisoner drew up on the instant and the noisy
crew stood and was silent.

"I have brought her for her oath, your reverence," said the sumner,
dropping his voice and his head together.

"Who accuses her?" the Archdeacon asked.

"Her old mother," said the sumner; "here she is."

From the middle of the throng behind him the sumner drew out an elderly
woman with a hard and wizened face. Her head was bare, her eyes were
quick and restless, her lips firm and long, her chin was broad and
heavy. The woman elbowed her way forward; but when she was brought face
to face with the Archdeacon, and he asked her if she charged her
daughter, she looked around before answering, and seeing her girl Mally
standing there with her white face, under the fire of fifty pairs of
eyes, all her resolution seemed to leave her.

"It isn't natheral, I know," she said, "a mother speaking up agen her
child," and with that her hard mouth softened, her quick eyes reddened
and filled, and her hands went up to her face. "But nature goes down
with a flood when you're looking to have another belly to fill, and not
a shilling at you this fortnight."

The girl stood without a word, and not one streak of color came to her
white cheeks as her mother spoke.

"She denied it, and denied it, and said no, and no; but leave it to a
mother to know what way her girl's going."

There was a low murmur among the people at the back and some whispering.
The girl's keen ear caught it, and she turned her head over her shoulder
with a defiant glance.

"Who is the man?" said the Archdeacon, recalling her with a touch of his
finger on her arm.

She did not answer at first, and he repeated the question.

"Who is the guilty man?" he said, in a voice more stern.

"It's not true. Let me go," said the girl, in a quick undertone.

"Who is the partner of your sin?"

"It's not true, I say. Let me go, will you?" and the girl struggled
feebly in the sumner's grip.

"Bring her to the altar," said the Archdeacon. He faced about and walked
toward the chancel, and entered it. The company followed him and drew up
outside the communion rail. He took a Testament from the reading-desk
and stepped toward the girl. There was a dead hush.

"The Church provides a remedy for slander," he said, in a cold, clear
tone. "If you are not guilty, swear that you are innocent, that he who
tampers with your good name may beware." With that the Archdeacon held
the Testament toward the girl. She made no show of taking it. He thrust
it into her hand. At the touch of the book she gave a faint cry and
stepped a pace backward, the Testament falling open on to the
penitent-form beneath.

Then the murmur of the bystanders rose again. The girl heard it once
more, and dropped on her knees and covered her face, and cried, in a
tremulous voice that echoed over the church, "Let me go, let me go."

The company that came for the christening had walked up the aisle.
Blinking Kerry stood apart, hushing the infant in her arms; it made a
fretful whimper. Thorkell stood behind, pawing the paved path with a
restless foot. His wife had made her way to the girl's side, her eyes
overflowing with compassion.

"Take her to prison at the Peel," said the Archdeacon, "and keep her
there until she confesses the name of her paramour." At that, Thorkell's
wife dropped to her knees beside the kneeling girl, and putting one arm
about her neck, raised the other against the sumner, and cried, "No, no,
no; she will confess."

There was a pause and a long hush. Mally let her hands fall from her
face, and turned her eyes full on the eyes of the young mother at her
side. In dead silence the two rose to their feet together.

"Confess his name; whoever he is, he does not deserve that you should
suffer for him as well," said the wife of Thorkell Mylrea, and as she
spoke she touched the girl's white forehead with her pale lips.

"Do _you_ ask that?" said Mally, with a strange quietness.

For one swift instant the eyes of these women seemed to see into each
other's heart. The face of Thorkell's wife became very pale; she grew
faint, and clutched the communion rail as she staggered back.

At the next instant Mally Kerruish was being hurried by the sumner down
the aisle; the noisy concourse that had come with them went away with
them, and in a moment more the old church was empty, save for the
company that had gathered about the font.

There was a great feast at Ballamona that day. The new house was
finished, and the young Christian, Ewan Mylrea, of Ballamona, was the
first to enter it; for was it not to be his house, and his children's
and his children's children's?

Thorkell's wife did not join the revels, but in her new home she went
back to her bed. The fatigue and excitement of the day had been too much
for her. Thorkell himself sat in his place, and laughed noisily and
drank much. Toward sunset the sumner came to say that the girl who had
been taken to prison at the Peel had confessed, and was now at large.
The Archdeacon got up and went out of the room. Thorkell called lustily
on his guests to drink again, and one stupefied old crony clambered to
his feet and demanded silence for a toast.

"To the father of the girl's by-blow," he shouted, when the glasses were
charged; and then the company laughed till the roof rang, and above all
was the shrill laugh of Thorkell Mylrea. Presently the door opened
again, and the Archdeacon, with a long, grave face, stood on the
threshold and beckoned to Thorkell at the head of his table. Thorkell
went out with him, and when they returned together a little later, and
the master of Ballamona resumed his seat, he laughed yet more noisily
than before, and drank yet more liquor.

On the outside of Ballamona that night an old woman, hooded and caped,
knocked at the door. The loud laughter and the ranting songs from within
came out to her where she stood in the darkness, under the silent stars.
When the door was opened by Hommy-beg the woman asked for Mylrea
Ballamona. Hommy-beg repulsed her, and would have shut the door in her
face. She called again, and again, and yet again, and at last, by reason
of her importunity, Hommy-beg went in and told Thorkell, who got up and
followed him out. The Archdeacon heard the message, and left the room at
the same moment.

Outside, on the gravel path, the old woman stood with the light of the
lamp that burned in the hall on her wizened face. It was Mrs. Kerruish,
the mother of Mally.

"It's fine times you're having of it, Master Mylrea," she said, "and
you, too, your reverence; but what about me and my poor girl?"

"It was yourself that did it, woman," said Thorkell; and he tried to
laugh, but under the stars his laugh fell short.

"Me, you say? Me, was it for all? May the good God judge between us,
Master Mylrea. D'ye know what it is that happened? My poor girl's gone."

"Gone!"

"Eh, gone--gone off--gone to hide her shameful face; God help her."

"Better luck," said Thorkell, and a short gurgle rattled in his dry
throat.

"Luck, you call it? Luck! Take care, Ballamona."

The Archdeacon interposed. "Come, no threats, my good woman," he said,
and waved his hand in protestation. "The Church has done you justice in
this matter."

"Threats, your reverence? Justice? Is it justice to punish the woman and
let the man go free? What! the woman to stand penance six Sabbaths by
the church-door of six parishes, and the man to pay his dirty money, six
pounds to you and three to me, and then no mortal to name his name!"

The old woman rummaged in the pocket at her side and pulled out a few
coins. "Here, take them back; I'm no Judas to buy my own girl. Here, I
say, take them!"

Thorkell had thrust his hands in his pockets, and was making a great
show of laughing boisterously.

The old woman stood silent for a moment, and her pale face turned livid.
Then by a sudden impulse she lifted her eyes and her two trembling arms.
"God in Heaven," she said, in a hoarse whisper, "let Thy wrath rest on
this man's head; make this house that he has built for himself and for
his children a curse to him and them and theirs; bring it to pass that
no birth come to it but death come with it, and so on and on until Thou
hast done justice between him and me."

Thorkell's laughter stopped suddenly. As the woman spoke his face
quivered, and his knees shook perceptibly under him. Then he took her by
the arms and clutched her convulsively. "Woman, woman, what are you
saying?" he cried, in his shrill treble. She disengaged herself and went
away into the night.

For a moment Thorkell tramped the hall with nervous footsteps. The
Archdeacon stood speechless. Then the sound of laughter and of song came
from the room they had left, and Thorkell flung in on the merry-makers.

"Go home, go home, every man of you! Away with you!" he shouted,
hysterically, and then dropped like a log into a chair.

One by one, with many wise shakes of many sapient heads, the tipsy
revelers broke up and went off, leaving the master of Ballamona alone in
that chamber, dense with dead smoke, and noisome with the fumes of
liquor.



CHAPTER IV

THE DEEMSTER OF MAN


Twenty times that night Thorkell devised expedients to break the web of
fate. At first his thoughts were of revengeful defiance. By fair means
or foul the woman Kerruish should suffer. She should be turned out of
house and home. She should tramp the roads as a mendicant. He would put
his foot on her neck. Then they would see what her uncanny threats had
come to.

He tried this unction for his affrighted spirit, and put it aside as
useless. No, no; he would conciliate the woman. He would settle an
annuity of five pounds a year upon her; he would give her the snug gate
cottage of old Ballamona to live in; his wife should send her warm
blankets in winter, and sometimes a pound of tea, such as old folks
love. Then must her imprecation fall impotent, and his own fate be
undisturbed.

Thorkell's bedroom in his new house on Slieu Dhoo looked over the
Curraghs to the sea. As the day dawned he opened the window, and thrust
out his head to drink of the cool morning air. The sun was rising over
the land behind, a strong breeze was sweeping over the marshes from the
shore, and the white curves of the breakers to the west reflected here
and there the glow of the eastern sky. With the salt breath of the sea
in his nostrils, it seemed to Thorkell a pitiful thing that a man should
be a slave to a mere idea; a thing for shame and humiliation that the
sneezing of an old woman should disturb the peace of a strong man.
Superstition was the bugbear of the Manxman, but it would die of shame
at its sheer absurdity, only that it was pampered by the law. Toleration
for superstition! Every man who betrayed faith in omens or portents, or
charms or spells, or the power of the evil eye, should be instantly
clapped in the Castle. It was but right that a rabid dog should be
muzzled.

Thorkell shut the window, closed the shutters, threw off his clothes,
and went back to bed. In the silence and the darkness, his thoughts took
yet another turn. What madness it was, what pertness and unbelief, to
reject that faith in which the best and wisest of all ages had lived and
died! Had not omens and portents, and charms and spells, and the evil
eye been believed in in all ages? What midget of modern days should now
arise with a superior smile and say, "Behold, this is folly: Saul of
Israel and Saul of Tarsus, and Samuel and Solomon, rose up and lay down
in folly."

Thorkell leaped out of bed, sweating from every pore. The old woman
Kerruish should be pensioned; she should live in the cozy cottage at the
gates of Ballamona; she should have blankets and tea and many a snug
comfort; her daughter should be brought back and married--yes,
married--to some honest fellow.

The lark was loud in the sky, the rooks were stirring in the lofty ash,
the swallows pecking at the lattice, when sleep came at length to
Thorkell's bloodshot eyes, and he stretched himself in a short and
fitful slumber. He awoke with a start. The lusty rap of Hommy-beg was at
the door of his room. There was no itinerant postman, and it was one of
Hommy-beg's daily duties to go to the post-office. He had been there
this morning, and was now returned with a letter for his master.

Thorkell took the letter with nervous fingers. He had recognized the
seal--it was the seal of the insular Government. The letter came from
Castle Rushen. He broke the seal and read:

     "CASTLE RUSHEN, June 3d.

     "SIR--I am instructed by his Excellency to beg you to come to
     Castletown without delay, and to report your arrival at the
     Castle to Madam Churchill, who will see you on behalf of the
     Duchess.

     "I have the honor to be, etc."

The letter was signed by the Secretary to the Governor.

What did it mean? Thorkell could make nothing of it but that in some way
it boded ill. In a bewildered state of semi-consciousness he ordered
that a horse should be got ready and brought round to the front. Half an
hour later he had risen from an untouched breakfast and was seated in
the saddle.

He rode past Tynwald Hill and through Foxdale to the south. Twenty times
he drew up and half-reined his horse in another direction. But he went
on again. He could turn about at any time. He never turned about. At two
o'clock that day he stood before the low gate of the Castle and pulled
at the great clanging bell.

He seemed to be expected, and was immediately led to a chamber on the
north of the courtyard. The room was small and low; it was dimly lighted
by two lancet windows set deep into walls that seemed to be three yards
thick. The floor was covered with a rush matting; a harp stood near the
fireplace. A lady rose as Thorkell entered. She was elderly, but her
dress was youthful. Her waist was short; her embroidered skirt was very
long; she wore spangled shoes, and her hair was done into a knot on the
top of her head.

Thorkell stood before her with the mien of a culprit. She smiled and
motioned him to a seat, and sat herself.

"You have heard of the death of one of our two Deemsters?" she asked.

Thorkell's face whitened, and he bowed his head.

"A successor must soon be appointed, and the Deemster is always a
Manxman; he must know the language of the common people."

Thorkell's face wore a bewildered expression. The lady's manner was very
suave.

"The appointment is the gift of the Lord of the island, and the Duchess
is asked to suggest a name."

Thorkell's face lightened. He had regained all his composure.

"The Duchess has heard a good account of you, Mr. Mylrea. She is told
that by your great industry and--wisdom--you have raised yourself in
life--become rich, in fact."

The lady's voice dropped to a tone of most insinuating suavity. Thorkell
stammered some commonplace.

"Hush, Mr. Mylrea, you shall not depreciate yourself. The Duchess has
heard that you are a man of enterprise--one who does not begrudge the
penny that makes the pound."

Thorkell saw it all. He was to be made Deemster, but he was to buy his
appointment. The Duchess had lost money of late, and the swashbuckler
court she kept had lately seen some abridgment of its gaieties.

"To be brief, Mr. Mylrea, the Duchess has half an intention of
suggesting your name for the post, but before doing so she wished me to
see in what way your feelings lie with regard to it."

Thorkell's little eyes twinkled, and his lips took an upward curve. He
placed one hand over his breast and bent his head.

"My feelings, madam, lie in one way only--the way of gratitude," he
said, meekly.

The lady's face broadened, and there was a pause.

"It is a great distinction, Mr. Mylrea," said the lady, and she drew her
breath inward.

"The greater my gratitude," said Thorkell.

"And how far would you go to show this gratitude to the Duchess?"

"Any length, madam," said Thorkell, and he rose and bowed.

"The Duchess is at present at Bath--"

"I would go so far, and--further, madam, further," said Thorkell, and as
he spoke he thrust his right hand deep into his pocket, and there--by
what accident may not be said--it touched some coins that chinked.

There was another pause, and then the lady rose and held out her hand,
and said, in a significant tone:

"I think, sir, I may already venture to hail you as Deemster of Man."

Thorkell cantered home in great elevation of soul. The milestones fell
behind him one after one, and he did not feel the burden of the way. His
head was in his breast; his body was bent over his saddle-bow; again and
again a trill of light laughter came from his lips. Where were his
dreams now, his omens, his spells, and the power of the evil eye? He was
judge of his island. He was master of his fate.

Passing through St. John's, he covered the bleak top of the hill, and
turned down toward the shady copse of Kirk Michael. Where the trees were
thickest in the valley he drew rein by a low, long house that stood back
to the road. It was the residence of the Bishop of the island, but it
was now empty. The bishopric had been vacant these five years, and under
the heavy rains from the hills and the strong winds from the sea, the
old house had fallen into decay.

Thorkell sat in the saddle under the tall elms in the dim light, and his
mind was busy with many thoughts. His memory went back with something
akin to tenderness to the last days of old Ewan, his father; to his
brother, Gilcrist, and then, by a sudden transition, to the incidents of
that morning at Castle Rushen. How far in the past that morning seemed
to be!

The last rook had cawed out its low guttural note, and the last gleam of
daylight died off between the thick boughs of the dark trees that
pattered lightly overhead, as Thorkell set off afresh.

When he arrived at Ballamona the night was dark. The Archdeacon was
sitting with his daughter, who had not left her room that day. Thorkell,
still booted and spurred, ran like a squirrel up the stairs and into the
bedroom. In twenty hot words that were fired off like a cloud of small
shot from a blunderbuss, Thorkell told what had occurred. His wife's
white face showed no pleasure and betrayed no surprise. Her silence
acted on Thorkell as a rebuke, and when her eyes rested on his face he
turned his own eyes aside. The Archdeacon was almost speechless, but his
look of astonishment was eloquent, and when Thorkell left the room he
followed him out.

At supper the Archdeacon's manner was that of deep amity.

"They are prompt to appoint a Deemster," he said. "Has it not struck you
as strange that the bishopric has been vacant so long?"

Thorkell laughed a little over his plate, and answered that it was
strange.

"Maybe it only needs that a name should be suggested," continued the
Archdeacon. "That is to say, suggested by a man of influence--a man of
position--by the Deemster, for instance."

"Just that," said Thorkell, with a titter.

Then there was an interchange of further amity. When the two men rose
from the table the Archdeacon said, with a conscious smile, "Of course,
if you should occur--if you should ever think--if, that is, the Deemster
should ever suggest a name for the bishopric--of course, he will
remember that--that blood, in short, is thicker than water--_ta fuill my
s'chee na ushtey_, as the Manxman says."

"I will remember it," said Thorkell, in a significant tone, and with a
faint chuckle.

Satisfied with that day's work, with himself, and with the world,
Thorkell then went off to bed, and lay down in peace and content, and
slept the sleep of the just.

In due course Thorkell Mylrea became Deemster Ballamona.

He entered upon his duties after the briefest study of the Statute Laws.
A Manx judge dispensed justice chiefly by the Breast Laws, the unwritten
code locked in his own breast, and supposed to be handed down from
Deemster to Deemster. The popular superstition served Thorkell in good
stead: there was none to challenge his knowledge of jurisprudence.

As soon as he was settled in his office he began to make inquiries about
his brother Gilcrist. He learned that after leaving Cambridge, Gilcrist
had taken deacon's orders, and had become tutor to the son of an English
nobleman, and afterward chaplain to the nobleman's household. Thorkell
addressed him a letter, and received a reply, and this was the first
intercourse of the brothers since the death of old Ewan. Gilcrist had
lately married; he held a small living on one of the remote moors of
Yorkshire; he loved his people and was beloved by them. Thorkell wrote
again and again, and yet again, and his letters ran through every tone
of remonstrance and entreaty. The end of it was that the Deemster paid
yet another visit to the lady deputy at Castle Rushen, and the rumor
passed over the island that the same potent influence that had made
Thorkell a Deemster was about to make his brother the Bishop of Man.

Then the Archdeacon came down in white wrath to Ballamona, and reminded
his son-in-law of his many obligations, touched on benefits forgot,
hinted at dark sayings and darker deeds, mentioned, with a significant
accent, the girl Mally Kerruish, protested that from causes not to be
named he had lost the esteem of his clergy and the reverence of his
flock, and wound up with the touching assurance that on that very
morning, as he rode from Andreas, he had overheard a burly Manxman say
to the tawny-headed fellow who walked with him--both of them the
scabbiest sheep on the hills--"There goes the pazon that sold his
daughter and bought her husband."

Thorkell listened to the torrent of reproaches, and then said, quietly,
as he turned on his heel, "Near is my shirt, but nearer is my skin."

The Deemster's wife held up her head no more. After the christening she
rarely left her room. Her cheeks grew thinner, paler they could not
grow, and her meek eyes lost their faint lustre. She spoke little, and
her interest in life seemed to be all but gone. There was the same
abject submission to her husband, but she saw less of him day by day.
Only the sight of her babe, when Kerry brought it to be nursed, restored
to her face the light of a fleeting joy. If it stayed too long at her
breast, if it cried, if its winsome ways made her to laugh outright, the
swift recoil of other feelings saddened her to melancholy, and she would
put the child from her with a sigh. This went on for several months, and
meantime the Deemster was too deeply immersed in secular affairs to make
serious note of the shadow that hung over his house. "_Goll sheese ny
lhiargagh_--she's going down the steep places," said Kerry.

It was winter when Gilcrist Mylrea was appointed to reach the island,
but he wrote that his wife's health was failing her, that it was not
unlikely that she was to bear a child, and that he preferred to postpone
his journey until the spring. Before the gorse bushes on the mountains
had caught their new spears of green, and before the fishermen of
Peeltown had gone down to the sea for their first mackerel, Thorkell's
wife was lying in her last illness. She sent for her husband and bade
him farewell. The Deemster saw no danger, and he laughed at her meek
adieu. She was soon to be the mother of another of his children--that
was all. But she shook her head when he rallied her, and when he lifted
the little creeping, cooing, babbling Ewan from the floor to his
mother's bed, and laughed and held up his long, lean, hairy finger
before the baby face and asked the little one with a puff how he would
like a little sister, the white face on the pillow twitched and fell,
and the meek eyes filled, and the shadow was over all.

"Good-by, Thorkell, and for baby's sake--"

But a shrill peal of Thorkell's laughter rang through the chamber, and
at the next instant he was gone from the room.

That day the wife of the Deemster passed beyond the sorrows of the life
that had no joys. The angels of life and death had come with linked
hands to the new homestead of Ballamona, and the young mother had died
in giving birth to a girl.

When the Deemster heard what had happened, his loud scream rang through
every room of the house. His soul was in ferment; he seemed to be
appalled, and to be stricken, not with sorrow, but with fright and
horror.

"She's dead; why, she's dead, she's dead," he cried, hysterically; "why
did not somebody tell me that she would die?"

The Deemster buried his wife by the side of old Ewan, under the
elder-tree that grew by the wall of the churchyard that stands over by
the sea. He summoned no mourners, and few stood with him by the open
grave. During the short funeral, his horse was tied to the cross-timbers
of the lych-gate, and while the earth was still falling in hollow thuds
from the sexton's spade, Thorkell got into the saddle and rode away.

Before sunset he waited by the wooden landing jetty at Derby Haven. The
old sea-tub, the "King Orry," made the port that day, and disembarked
her passengers. Among them was the new Bishop of Man, Gilcrist Mylrea.
He looked much older for the six years he had been away. His tall figure
stooped heavily; his thick hair fell in wavelets on his shoulders, and
was already sprinkled with gray; his long cheeks were deeply lined. As
he stepped from the boat on to the jetty he carried something very
tenderly in his arms. He seemed to be alone.

The brothers met with looks of constraint and bewilderment.

"Where is your wife?" asked Thorkell.

"She is gone," said Gilcrist. "I have nothing left of her but this," and
he looked down at the burden at his breast.

It was a baby boy. Thorkell's face whitened, and terror was in his eyes.



CHAPTER V

THE MANXMAN'S BISHOP


Gilcrist Mylrea had been confirmed Bishop, and consecrated in England;
but he had to be installed in his cathedral church at Peeltown with all
the honors of the insular decrees. The ceremony was not an imposing one.
Few of the native population witnessed it. The Manxman did not love the
Church with a love too fervent. "Pazon, pazon," he would say, "what can
you expect from the like o' that? Never no duck wasn't hatched by a
drake."

It was no merit in the eyes of the people that the new Bishop was
himself a Manxman. "Aw, man," they would say, "I knew his father," and
knowledge of the father implied a limitation of the respect due to the
son. "What's his family?" would be asked again and again across the
hearth that scarcely knew its own family more intimately. "Maybe some of
the first that's going," would be the answer, and then there would be a
laugh.

The Bishop was enthroned by Archdeacon Teare, who filled his function
with what grace his chagrin would allow. Thorkell watched his
father-in-law keenly during the ceremony, and more than once his little
eyes twinkled, and his lips were sucked inward as if he rolled a
delectable morsel on his tongue. Archdeacon Teare was conscious of the
close fire of his son-in-law's gaze, and after the installation was
done, and the clergy that constituted priests and congregation were
breaking up, he approached the Deemster with a benevolent smile, and
said, "Well, Thorkell, we've had some disagreements, but we'll all meet
for peace and harmony in heaven."

The Deemster tittered audibly, and said, "I'm not so sure of that,
though."

"No?" said the Archdeacon, with elevated eyebrows. "Why--why?"

"Because we read in the Good Book that there will be no more _tears_,
Archdeacon," said Thorkell, with a laugh like the whinny of a colt.

The Bishop and his brother, the Deemster, got on their horses, and
turned their heads toward the episcopal palace. It was late when they
drove under the tall elms of Bishop's Court. The old house was lighted
up for their reception. Half-blind Kerry Quayle had come over from
Ballamona to nurse the Bishop's child, and to put him to bed in his new
home. "Och, as sweet a baby boy as any on the island, I'll go bail, as
the old body said," said Kerry, and the Bishop patted her arm with a
gentle familiarity. He went up to the little room where the child lay
asleep, and stooped over the cot and touched with his lips the soft lips
that breathed gently. The dignity of the Bishop as he stood four hours
before under the roof of St. German's had sat less well on this silent
man than the tenderness of the father by the side of his motherless
child.

Thorkell was in great spirits that night. Twenty times he drank to the
health of the new Bishop; twenty times he reminded him of his own
gracious offices toward securing the bishopric to one of his own family.
Gilcrist smiled, and responded in few words. He did not deceive himself;
his eyes were open. He knew that Thorkell had not been so anxious to
make him a Bishop as to prevent a place of honor and emolument from
going to any one less near to himself than his own brother. "Near is my
shirt," as Thorkell had told the Archdeacon, "but nearer is my skin."

Next day the Bishop lost no time in settling to his work. His people
watched him closely. He found his palace in a forlorn and dilapidated
state, and the episcopal demesne, which was about a square mile of
glebe, as fallow as the rough top of the mountains. The money value of
this bishopric was rather less than £500 a year, but out of this income
he set to work to fence and drain his lands, plant trees, and restore
his house to comfort, if not to stateliness. "I find my Patmos in
ruins," he said, "and that will oblige me to interrupt my charity to the
poor in some measure."

He assumed none of the social dignity of a Bishop. He had no carriage,
and no horse for riding. When he made his pastoral visitations he went
afoot. The journey to Douglas he called crossing the Pyrenees; and he
likened the toilsome tramp across the heavy Curraghs from Bishop's Court
to Kirk Andreas to the passing of pilgrims across a desert. "To speak
truth," he would say, "I have a title too large for my scant fortune to
maintain."

His first acts of episcopal authority did not conciliate either the
populace or their superiors in station. He set his face against the
contraband trade, and refused communion to those who followed it. "Och,
terrible, wonderful hard on the poor man he is, with his laws agen
honest trading, and his by-laws and his customs and his canons and the
like o' that messing."

It was soon made clear that the Bishop did not court popularity. He
started a school in each of the parishes by the help of a lady, who
settled a bounty, payable at the Bishop's pleasure, for the support of
the teachers. The teachers were appointed by his vicars-general. One day
a number of the men of his own parish, with Jabez Gawne, the sleek
little tailor, and Matthias Jubman, the buirdly maltster, at their head,
came up to Bishop's Court to complain of the schoolmaster appointed to
Kirk Michael. According to the malcontents, the schoolmaster was unable
to divide his syllables, and his home, which was the schoolhouse also,
was too remote for the convenience of the children. "So we beseech your
Lordships," said little Jabez, who was spokesman, "to allow us a fit
person to discharge the office, _and with submission we will recommend
one_." The Bishop took in the situation at a glance; Jabez's last words
had let the cat out of the bag, and it could not be said to be a Manx
cat, for it had a most prodigious tail. Next day the Bishop went to the
school, examined master and scholars, then called the petitioners
together, and said, "I find that James Quirk is qualified to teach an
English school, and I can not remove him; but I am of your opinion that
his house is in a remote part of the parish, and I shall expect the
parishioners to build a new schoolhouse in a convenient place, near the
church, within a reasonable time, otherwise the bounty can not be
continued to them." The answer staggered the petitioners; but they were
men with the saving grace of humor, and through the mouth of little
Jabez, which twisted into curious lines, they forthwith signified to his
Lordship their earnest desire to meet his wish by building their
schoolhouse within the churchyard.

Though a zealous upholder of Church authority, the Bishop was known to
temper justice with mercy. He had not been a month in the diocese when
his sumner told him a painful story of hard penance. A young girl from
near Peeltown had been presented for incontinence, and with the partner
of her crime she had been ordered to stand six Sundays at the door of
six churches. The man, who was rich, had compounded with the Archdeacon,
paying six pounds for exemption, and being thenceforward no more
mentioned; but the woman, being penniless and appalled at the disgrace
before her, had fled from the island. The Archdeacon had learned her
whereabouts in England, and had written to the minister of the place to
acquaint him that she was under the Church's censure. The minister, on
his part, had laid before her the terror of her position if she died out
of communion with God's people. She resisted all appeals until her time
came, and then, in her travail, the force of the idea had worked upon
her, and she could resist it no more. When she rose from bed she
returned voluntarily to the island, with the sign of her shame at her
breast, to undergo the penance of her crime. She had stood three Sundays
at the doors of three churches, but her health was feeble, and she could
scarcely carry her child, so weak was she, and so long the distances
from her lodging in Peeltown. "Let her be pardoned the rest of her
penance," said the Bishop. "The Church's censure was not passed on her
to afflict her with overmuch shame or sorrow."

It was not until years afterward that the Bishop learned the full facts
of the woman's case, and comprehended the terrible significance of her
punishment. She was Mally Kerruish.

The island was in the province of York, and bound by the English canons,
but the Bishop made his own canons, and none were heard to demur. Some
of his judgments were strange, but all leaned toward the weaker side. A
man named Quayle the Gyke, a blusterous fellow, a thorn in the side of
every official within a radius of miles, died after a long illness,
leaving nothing to a legitimate son who had nursed him affectionately.
This seemed to the Bishop to be contrary to natural piety, and in the
exercise of his authority he appointed the son an executor with the
others. Quayle the younger lived, as we shall see, to return evil for
the Bishop's good. A rich man of bad repute, Thormod Mylechreest, died
intestate, leaving an illegitimate son. The Bishop ordered the ordinary
to put aside a sum of money out of the estate for the maintenance and
education of the child. But Thorkell came down in the name of the civil
power, reversed the spiritual judgment, ordered that the whole
belongings of the deceased should be confiscated to the Lord of the
Isle, and left the base-begotten to charity. We shall also see that the
bastard returned good for Thorkell's evil.

The canons and customs of Bishop Mylrea not only leaned--sometimes with
too great indulgence--to the weaker side, but they supposed faith in the
people by allowing a voluntary oath as evidence, and this made false
swearing a terror. Except in the degree of superstition, he encouraged
belief in all its forms. He trusted an oath implicitly, but no man ever
heard him gainsay his yea or nay.

A hoary old dog known as Billy the Gawk, who had never worked within
living memory, who lived, as they said, "on the houses," and frequented
the pot-house with more than the regularity of religious observance, was
not long in finding out that Bishop's Court had awakened from its
protracted sleep. The Bishop had been abroad for his morning's ramble,
and sitting on the sunny side of a high turf hedge looking vacantly out
to sea, he heard footsteps on the road behind him, and then a dialogue,
of which this is a brief summary:

"Going up to the Coort, eh? Ah, well, it's plenty that's there to take
the edge off your stomach; plenty, plenty, and a rael welcome too."

"Ah, it's not the stomach that's bothering me. It's the narves, boy--the
narves--and a drop of the rael stuff is worth a Jew's eye for studdying
a man after a night of it, as the saying is."

"Aw, Billy, Billy--aw well, well, well."

The conversation died off on the Bishop's ear in a loud roystering laugh
and a low gurgle as undertone.

Half an hour later Billy the Gawk stood before the Bishop inside the
gates of Bishop's Court. The old dog's head hung low, his battered hat
was over his eyes, and both his trembling hands leaned heavily on his
thick blackthorn stick.

"And how do you live, my man?" asked the Bishop.

"I'm getting a bite here, and a sup there, and I've had terrible little
but a bit o' barley bread since yesterday morning," said the Gawk.

"Poor man, that's hard fare," said the Bishop; "but mind you call here
every day for the future."

Billy got a measure of corn worth sixpence, and went straightway to the
village, where he sold it at the pot-house for as much liquor as could
have been bought for three-halfpence. And as Billy the Gawk drank his
drop of the real stuff he laughed very loud and boasted that he could
outwit the Bishop. But the liquor got into his head, and from laughing
he went on to swearing, and thence to fighting, until the innkeeper
turned him out into the road, where, under the weight of his measure of
corn taken in solution, Billy sank into a dead slumber. The Bishop
chanced to take an evening walk that day, and he found his poor
penisioner, who fared hard, lodged on a harder bed, and he had him
picked up and carried into the house. Next morning, when Billy awoke and
found where he was, and remembered what had occurred, an unaccustomed
sensation took possession of him, and he stole away unobserved. The
hoary old dog was never seen again at Bishop's Court.

But if Billy never came again his kith and kin came frequently. It
became a jest that the Bishop kept the beggars from every house but his
own, and that no one else could get a beggar.

He had a book, which he called his "Matricula Pauperum," in which he
entered the names of his pensioners with notes of their circumstances.
He knew all the bits of family history--when Jemmy Corkell's wife was
down with lumbago, and when Robbie Quirk was to kill his little pig.

Billy the Gawk was not alone in thinking that he could outwit the
Bishop. When the Bishop wanted a new pair of boots or a new coat, the
tailor or shoemaker came to Bishop's Court, and was kept there until his
job of work was finished. The first winter after his arrival in his
Patmos, he wanted a cloak, and sent for Jabez Gawne, the sleek little
fox who had been spokesman for the conspirators against James Quirk, the
schoolmaster. Jabez had cut out the cloak, and was preparing it for a
truly gorgeous adornment, when the Bishop ordered him to put merely a
button and a loop on it to keep it together. Jabez thereupon dropped his
cloth and held up his hands where he sat cross-legged on the kitchen
dresser, and exclaimed, with every accent of aggrieved surprise:

"My Lord, what would become of the poor buttonmakers and their families
if every one ordered his tailor in that way?"

"How so, Jabez?"

"Why, they would be starved outright."

"Do you say so, Jabez?"

"Yes, my Lord, I do."

"Then button it all over, Jabez," said the Bishop.

The Deemster was present at that interview, and went away from it
tittering audibly.

"Give to the raven and he'll come again," he muttered.

"I forgot that poor Jabez would have his buttons in his
breeches-pocket," said the Bishop.

The Manxman had not yet made up his mind concerning the composite
character of Bishop Mylrea, his dignity and his humility, his reserve
and his simplicity, when a great event settled for the Manxman's heart
the problem that had been too much for his head. This was no less a
catastrophe than a general famine. It came upon the island in the second
year of the Bishop's residence, and was the cause of many changes. One
of the changes was that the Bishop came to be regarded by his people
with the reverence of Israel for Samuel, and by his brother, the
Deemster, with the distrust, envy, and, at length, mingled fear and
hatred of Saul for Israel's prophet.

The land of the island had been held under a tenure of straw, known as
the three-lives' tenure; the third life was everywhere running out, and
the farms were reverting to the Lord of the Isle. This disheartened the
farmers, who lost all interest in agriculture, let their lands lie
fallow, and turned to the only other industry in which they had an
interest, the herring fishing. The herrings failed this season, and
without fish, with empty barns, and a scant potato crop, caused by a
long summer of drought, the people were reduced to poverty.

Then the Bishop opened wider the gates of Bishop's Court, which since
his coming had never been closed. Heaven seemed to have given him a
special blessing. The drought had parched up the grass even of the damp
Curragh, and left bleached on the whitening mold the poor, thin, dwarfed
corn, that could never be reaped. But the glebe of Bishop's Court gave
fair crops, and when the people cried in the grip of their necessity the
Bishop sent round a pastoral letter to his clergy, saying that he had
eight hundred bushels of wheat, barley, and oats more than his household
required. Then there came from the north and the south, the east and the
west, long, straggling troops of buyers with little or no money to buy,
and Bishop's Court was turned into a public market. The Bishop sold to
those who had money at the price that corn fetched before the famine,
and in his barn behind the house he kept a chest for those who came in
at the back with nothing but a sack in their hands. Once a day he
inspected the chest, and when it was low, which was frequently, he
replenished it, and when it was high, which was rarely, he smiled, and
said that God was turning away his displeasure from his people.

The eight hundred bushels were at an end in a month, and still the
famine continued. Then the Bishop bought eight hundred other bushels:
wheat at ten shillings, barley at six shillings, and oats at four
shillings, and sold them at half these prices. He gave orders that the
bushel of the poor man was not to be stroked, but left in heaped-up
measure.

A second month went by; the second eight hundred bushels were consumed,
and the famine showed no abatement. The Bishop waited for vessels from
Liverpool, but no vessels came. He was a poor priest, with a great
title, and he had little money; but he wrote to England asking for a
thousand bushels of grain and five hundred kischen of potatoes, and
promised to pay at six days after the next annual revenue. A week of
weary waiting ensued, and every day the Bishop cheered the haggard folk
that came to Bishop's Court with accounts of the provisions that were
coming; and every day they went up on to the head of the hill, and
strained their bleared eyes seaward for the sails of an English ship.
When patience was worn to despair, the old "King Orry" brought the
Bishop a letter saying that the drought had been general, that the
famine was felt throughout the kingdom, and that an embargo had been put
on all food to forbid traders to send it from English shores. Then the
voice of the hungry multitudes went up in one deep cry of pain. "The
hunger is on us," they moaned. "Poor once, poor forever," they muttered;
and the voice of the Bishop was silent.

Just at that moment a further disaster threatened the people. Their
cattle, which they could not sell, they had grazed on the mountains, and
the milk of the cows had been the chief food of the children, and the
wool of the sheep the only clothing of their old men. With parched
meadows and Curraghs, where the turf was so dry that it would take fire
from the sun, the broad tops of the furze-covered hills were the sole
resource of the poor. At daybreak the shepherd with his six ewe lambs
and one goat, and the day laborer with his cow, would troop up to where
the grass looked greenest, and at dusk they would come down to shelter,
with weary limbs and heavy hearts. "What's it sayin'," they would
mutter, "a green hill when far from me; bare, bare, when it is near."

At this crisis it began to be whispered that the Deemster had made an
offer to the Lord to rent the whole stretch of mountain land from Ramsey
to Peeltown. The rumor created consternation, and was not at first
believed. But one day the Deemster, with the Governor of the Grand
Enquest, drove to the glen at Sulby and went up the hillside. Not long
after, a light cart was seen to follow the highroad to the glen beyond
Ballaugh, and then turn up toward the mountains by the cart track. The
people who were grazing their cattle on the hills came down and gathered
with the people of the valleys at the foot, and there were dark faces
and firm-set lips among them, and hot words and deep oaths were heard.
"Let's off to the Bishop," said one, and then went to Bishop's Court.
Half an hour later the Bishop came from Bishop's Court at the head of a
draggled company of men, and his face was white and hard. They overtook
the cart half-way up the side of the mountain, and the Bishop called on
the driver to stop, and asked what he carried, and where he was going.
The man answered that he had provisions for the Governor, the Deemster,
and the Grand Enquest, who were surveying the tops of the mountains.

The Bishop looked round, and his lip was set, and his nostrils quivered.
"Can any man lend me a knife?" he asked, with a strained quietness.

A huge knife was handed to him, such as shepherds carry in the long legs
of their boots. He stepped to the cart and ripped up the harness, which
was rope harness, the shafts fell and the horse was free. Then the
Bishop turned to the driver and said very quietly:

"Where do you live, my man?"

"At Sulby, my Lord," said the man, trembling with fear.

"You shall have leather harness to-morrow."

Then the Bishop went on, his soiled and draggled company following him,
the cart lying helpless in the cart track behind them.

When they got to the top of the mountain they could see the Governor and
the Deemster and their associates stretching the chain in the purple
distance. The Bishop made in their direction, and when he came up with
them, he said:

"Gentlemen, no food will reach you on the mountains to-day; the harness
of your cart has been cut, and cart and provisions are lying on the
hillside."

At this Thorkell turned white with wrath, and clenched his fists and
stamped his foot on the turf, and looked piercingly into the faces of
the Bishop's followers.

"As sure as I'm Deemster," he said, with an oath, "the man who has done
this shall suffer. Don't let him deceive himself--no one, not even the
Bishop himself, shall step in between that man and the punishment of the
law."

The Bishop listened with calmness, and then said, "Thorkell, the Bishop
will not intercede for him. Punish him if you can."

"And so, by God, I will," cried the Deemster, and his eye traversed the
men behind his brother.

The Bishop then took a step forward. "_I_ am that man," he said, and
then there was a great silence.

Thorkell's face flinched, his head fell between his shoulders, his
manner grew dogged, he said not a word, his braggadocio was gone.

The Bishop approached the Governor. "You have no more right to rent
these mountains than to rent yonder sea," he said, and he stretched his
arm toward the broad blue line to the west. "They belong to God and to
the poor. Let me warn you, sir, that as sure as you set up one stone to
enclose these true God's acres, I shall be the first to pull that stone
down."

The Grand Enquest broke up in confusion, and the mountains were saved to
the people.

It blew hard on the hilltop that day, and the next morning the news
spread through the island that a ship laden with barley had put in from
bad weather at Douglas Harbor. "And a terrible wonderful sight of corn,
plenty for all, plenty, plenty," was the word that went round. In three
hours' time hundreds of men and women trooped down to the quay with
money to buy. To all comers the master shook his head, and refused to
sell.

"Sell, man--sell, sell," they cried.

"I can't sell. The cargo is not mine. I'm a poor man myself," said the
master.

"Well, and what's that it's sayin', 'When one poor man helps another
poor man God laughs.'"

The Bishop came to the ship's side, and tried to treat for the cargo.

"I've given bond to land it all at Whitehaven," said the master.

Then the people's faces grew black, and deep oaths rose to their lips,
and they turned and looked into each other's eyes in their impotent
rage. "The hunger is on us--we can't starve--let every herring hang by
its own gill--let's board her," they muttered among themselves.

And the Bishop heard their threats. "My people," he said, "what will
become of this poor island unless God averts his awful judgments, only
God himself can know; but this good man has given his bond, and let us
not bring on our heads God's further displeasure."

There was a murmur of discontent, and then one long sigh of patient
endurance, and then the Bishop lifted his hands, and down on their knees
on the quay the people with famished faces fell around the tall,
drooping figure of the man of God, and from parched throats, and hearts
wellnigh as dry, sent up a great cry to heaven to grant them succor lest
they should die.

About a week afterward another ship put in by contrary winds at
Castletown. It had a cargo of Welsh oats bound to Dumfries, on the order
of the Provost. The contrary winds continued, and the corn began to heat
and spoil. The hungry populace, enraged by famine, called on the master
to sell. He was powerless. Then the Bishop walked over his "Pyrenees,"
and saw that the food for which his people hungered was perishing before
their eyes. When the master said "No" to him, as to others, he
remembered how in old time David, being an hungered, did that which was
not lawful in eating of the showbread, and straightway he went up to
Castle Rushen, got a company of musketeers, returned with them to the
ship's side, boarded the ship, put the master and crew in irons, and
took possession of the corn.

What wild joy among the people! What shouts were heard; what tears
rolled down the stony cheeks of stern men!

"Patience!" cried the Bishop. "Bring the market weights and scales."

The scales and weights were brought down to the quay and every bushel of
the cargo was exactly weighed, and paid for at the prime price according
to the master's report. Then the master and crew were liberated, and the
Bishop paid the ship's freight out of his own purse. When he passed
through the market-place on his way back to the Bishop's Court the
people followed with eyes that were almost too dim to see, and they
blessed in cheers that were sobs.

And then God remembered his people, and their troubles passed away. With
the opening spring the mackerel nets came back to the boats in shining
silver masses, and peace and plenty came again to the hearth of the
poorest.

The Manxman knew his Bishop now; he knew him for the strongest soul in
the dark hour, the serenest saint in the hour of light and peace. That
hoary old dog, Billy the Gawk, took his knife and scratched "B.M.," and
the year of the Lord on the inside of his cupboard door to record the
advent of Bishop Mylrea.

A mason from Ireland, a Catholic named Patrick Looney, was that day at
work building the square tower of the church of the market-place, and
when he saw the Bishop pass under him he went down on his knees on the
scaffold and dropped his head for the good man's blessing.

A little girl of seven, with sunny eyes and yellow hair, stood by at
that moment, and for love of the child's happy face the Bishop touched
her head and said, "God bless you, my sweet child."

The little one lifted her innocent eyes to his eyes, and answered with a
courtesy, "And God bless you, too, sir."

"Thank you, child, thank you," said the Bishop. "I do not doubt that
your blessing will be as good as mine."

Such was Gilcrist Mylrea, Bishop of Man. He needed all his strength and
all his tenderness for the trials that were to come.



CHAPTER VI

THE COZY NEST AT BISHOP'S COURT


The children of the Deemster and Bishop spent the first five years as
one little brood in the cozy nest at Bishop's Court. The arrangement was
agreeable to both brothers while it lasted. It left Ballamona a silent
place, but the master recked little of that. The Deemster kept no
company, or next to none. He dismissed all his domestics except one, and
Hommy-beg, who had been gardener hitherto, became groom as well. The new
Ballamona began to gather a musty odor, and the old Ballamona took the
moss on its wall and the lichen on its roof. The Deemster rose early and
went late to bed. Much of the day was spent in the saddle passing from
town to town of his northern circuit, for he held a court twice weekly
at Ramsey and Peeltown. Toward nightfall he was usually back at his
house, sitting alone by the fireplace, whether, as in the long nights of
winter, a peat fire burned there, or, as in the summer evenings, the
hearth was empty. Hardly a sound broke the dead quiet of the solitary
place, save when some litigious farmer who had caught his neighbor in
the act of trespass brought him, there and then, for judgment, to the
Deemster's house by that most summary kind of summons, the force of
superior muscles. On such occasions the plaintiff and defendant, with
their noisy witnesses, would troop into the hall with the yaps and snaps
of a pack of dogs, and Thorkell would twist in his chair and fine one of
them, or perhaps both, and pocket their money, and then drive them all
away dissatisfied, to settle their dispute by other means in the
darkness of the road outside.

Meantime, Bishop's Court was musical with children's voices, and with
the patter of tiny feet that ferreted out every nook and cranny of the
old place. There was Ewan, the Deemster's son, a slight, sensitive boy,
who listened to you with his head aslant, and with absent looks. There
was wee Mona, Ewan's meek sister, with the big eyes and the quiet ways,
who liked to be fondled, and would cry sometimes when no one knew why.
And then there was Daniel--Danny--Dan, the Bishop's boy, a braw little
rogue, with a slice of the man in him, as broad as he was long, with
tousled fair head and face usually smudged, laughing a good deal and not
crying overmuch, loving a good tug or a delightful bit of a fight, and
always feeling high disdain at being kissed. And the Bishop, God bless
him! was father and mother both to the motherless brood, though Kerry
Quayle was kept as nurse. He would tell a story, or perhaps sing one,
while Mona sat on his knee with her pretty head resting on his breast,
and Ewan held on to his chair with his shy head hanging on his own
shoulder, and his eyes looking out at the window, listening intently in
his queer little absent way. And when Dan, in lordly contempt of such
doings, would break in on song or story, and tear his way up the back of
the chair to the back of the Bishop, Mona would be set on her feet, and
the biggest baby of the four there present would slide down on to his
hands and knees and creep along the floor with the great little man
astride him, and whinny like a horse, or perhaps bark like a dog, and
pretend to leap the four-bar gate of the baby's chair tumbled down on
its side. And when Dan would slide from his saddle, and the restless
horseman would turn coachman and tug the mane of his steed, and all the
Bishop's long hair would tumble over his face, what shrieks of laughter,
what rolling on the ground and tossing up of bare legs! And then when
supper-time came, and the porridge would be brought in, and little Mona
would begin to whimper because she had to eat it, and Ewan to fret
because it was barley porridge and not oaten cake, and Dan to devour his
share with silent industry, and then bellow for more than was good for
him, what schemes the good Bishop resorted to, what promises he made,
what crafty tricks he learned, what an artful old pate his simple head
suddenly became! And then, when Kerry came with the tub and the towels,
and three little naked bodies had to be bathed, and the Bishop stole
away to his unfinished sermon, and little Mona's wet hands clung to
Kerry's dress, and Ewan, standing bolt-upright in the three inches of
water, blubbered while he rubbed the sponge over an inch and a half of
one cheek, and Dan sat on his haunches in the bottom of the tub
splashing the water on every side, and shrieking at every splash; then
the fearful commotion would bring the Bishop back from the dusky room
upstairs, where the shaded lamp burned on a table that was littered with
papers. And at last, when the day's big battle was done, and night's
bigger battle began, and three night-dresses were popped over three wary
heads that dodged them when they could, the Bishop would carry three
sleepless, squealing piggies to bed--Mona at his breast because she was
little, Ewan on his back because he was big, and Dan across his
shoulders because he could not get to any loftier perch. Presently there
would be three little pairs of knees by the crib-side, and then three
little flaxen polls on the pillow, tumbling and tossing, and with the
great dark head of the Bishop shaking gravely at them from over the
counterpane, and then a hush broken by a question lisped drowsily, or a
baby-rime that ran a line or two and stopped, and at length the long
deep quiet and the silence of sleep, and the Bishop going off on tiptoe
to the dusky room with the shaded lamp, and to-morrow's sermon lying
half written beneath it.

And so five tearing, romping years went by, and though they were the
years of the famine and the pestilence, and of many another dark cloud
that hung blackest over Bishop's Court, a world of happiness was crowded
into them. Then when Ewan was six years old, and Danny and Mona were
five, and the boys were buttoning their own corduroys, the Deemster came
over from Ballamona and broke up the little nest of humming-birds.

"Gilcrist," said Thorkell, "you are ruining the children, and I must
take my own away from you."

The Bishop's grave face grew suddenly white, and when, after a pause, he
said, "No, no, Thorkell, you don't mean that," there was a tremor in his
deep voice.

"I do mean it," said the Deemster. "Let a father treat his children as
the world will treat them when they have nothing but the world for their
father--that's my maxim, and I'll act up to it with my own."

"That's hard treatment, Thorkell," said the Bishop, and his eyes began
to fill.

"Spare the rod, spoil the child," said Thorkell.

"Maybe you're right," said the Bishop in a quivering voice, and he could
say no more.

But the Deemster was as good as his word. Ewan and Mona were removed to
Ballamona. There they had no nurse, and shifted a good deal for
themselves. They ate oaten cake and barley porridge three times a day,
and that was to build up their bone and brain; they were bathed in cold
water summer and winter, and that was to make them hardy; they wore
frocks with low necks, and that was to strengthen their lungs; they went
to bed without a light and fell asleep while trembling in each other's
arms, and that was to make them brave and prevent them from becoming
superstitious.

If the spirit and health of the little ones did not sink under their
Spartan training it was because Nature was stronger than custom, and
because God is very good to the bruised hearts of children. They did not
laugh too loud when the Deemster was near, and they were never seen to
pull his vest, or to tug him by his hair, or to ride across his back,
which was never known to stoop low for their little legs to mount. The
house was not much noisier, or dirtier, or less orderly for their
presence; they did not fill it with their voices, or tumble it out of
its propriety with their busy fingers, as with Cousin Danny's powerful
assistance they had filled and tumbled Bishop's Court, until every room
in the comfortable old place seemed to say to you with a wink and a nod,
"A child lives here; this is his own home, and he is master of the whole
house." But when they stole away to their own little room at the back,
where no fire burned lest they should grow "nesh," not all the masks
that were ever made to make life look like a sorry tragedy could have
hidden the joy that was always wanting to break out on their little
faces. There they would romp and laugh and crow and sing, and Ewan would
play at preaching, with the back of a chair for a pulpit, and his
pinafore for surplice, and Mona of the big eyes sitting on the floor
below for choir and congregation. And if in the middle of their play it
happened that all at once they remembered Danny, then Ewan's head would
fall aside, and his look in an instant be far away, and Mona's lower lip
would hang suddenly, and the sunshine would straightway die out of her
laughing face.

When the Bishop lost the Deemster's children he found a great void in
his heart; but little Danny troubled his big head not at all about the
change that had taken place. He laughed just as loud, and never cried at
all, and when he awoke in the morning and his cousins were not there,
their place forthwith knew them no more. In a vague way he missed his
playmates, but that only meant that the Bishop had to be his playmate
even more than before, and the Bishop was nothing loth. Away they ran
through the copse together, these boon companions, and if the Bishop hid
behind a tree, of course Danny found him, and if it was Danny that hid,
of course the Bishop searched high and low, and never once heard the
merry titter that came from behind the gorse bush that was arm's-length
away, until, with a burst of laughter, Danny leaped out on him like an
avalanche. They talked one jargon, too, for Danny's industrious tongue
could not say its _w_, and it made an _s_ of its _f_. "How many 'heels
has your cart got, carter?" "Sour." "Very srosty to-day, master." "Well,
then, come in to the sire."

In a strange and unconscious way the Bishop developed a sort of physical
affinity with this sworn ally. When no sound seemed to break the silence
he could hear the little man's cry through three stout stone walls and
up two flights of stairs. If the child fell and hurt himself half a mile
from the house, the Bishop at home felt as if he had himself dropped on
a sharp stone and cut his knee. If he clambered to the top of a high
wall that was out of sight, the Bishop in his study felt dizzy.

But extraordinary as was this affinity of the Bishop and his boy, the
intercourse that subsisted between Danny and his nurse was yet more
marvelous. The Bishop had merely a prescience of disaster threatening
his darling; but Kerry seemed, by an exercise of some nameless faculty,
to know the child's whereabouts at any moment of day or night. Half
blind at the time of the birth of little Ewan, Kerry Quayle had grown
stone-blind since, and this extraordinary power was in truth her second
sight. It was confined to Danny, her nursling, but over his movements it
was an absolute gift.

"Och," she cried, leaping up from the spinning-wheel, "the wee
craythur's into the chapel, as the sayin' is."

"Impossible!" the Bishop answered; "I've only this moment locked the
door."

But Kerry and the Bishop went to the chapel to search for him, and found
the fugitive, who had clambered in through an open window, lighting the
candle at the reading-desk, after washing his black hands in the font.

"Aw, now," said Kerry, lifting up her hands and her blind face in
horror, "what's that it's saying, 'The little hemlock is sister to the
big hemlock';" which was as much as to say that the small sin was akin
to the great sin, and that little Danny, who had been caught in an act
of sacrilege, would one day be guilty of worse.

"Nonsense, woman--nonsense; a child is but a child," said the Bishop,
leading the delinquent away.

That day--it was Thursday of Whitsun week--Convocation was to be held at
Bishop's Court, and the clergy had already begun to gather in the
library that looked west toward the sea. To keep Danny out of further
mischief the Bishop led him to his own room, and there he poured water
into a bowl and proceeded to bathe his eyes, which had latterly shown
signs of weakness. To do this he had need to remove his spectacles, and
he set them down on the table by his hand. Danny watched these
proceedings with a roguish look, and when the Bishop's face was in the
bowl he whipped up the spectacles and pushed them down his neck between
his frock and his breast. With a whirr and a puff the Bishop shook the
water from his face and dried it, and when the lash comb had tossed back
his long hair he stretched his hand out for his spectacles. He could not
feel them, and when he looked he could not see them, and then he called
on Danny to search for them, and straightway the rogue was on hands and
knees hunting in every possible and impossible place. But Danny could
not find them--not he. Convocation was waiting for its chief, but the
spectacles could not be found, and the Bishop, for all bookish services,
was blinder than a bat without them. High and low, up and down, on every
table, under every paper, into every pocket, and still no spectacles. At
length the Bishop paused and looked steadily into the eyes of the little
man sitting on his haunches and tittering audibly.

"Where are the glasses?"

Danny laughed very loud.

"Where are my glasses, Danny veg?"

Danny veg laughed still louder.

There was nothing to be made of an answer like that, so down on his
knees went the Bishop again to see if the rogue had hidden the
spectacles beneath the hearth-rug, or under the seat of the settle, or
inside the shaving pot on the hearth. And all the time Danny, with his
hands clasped under his haunches, hopped about the room like a frog with
great starry eyes, and crowed and laughed till his face grew scarlet and
the tears trickled down his cheeks.

Blind Kerry came to say that the gentlemen wanted to know when the
Bishop would be with them, as the saying was; and two minutes afterward
the Bishop strode into the library through a line of his clergy, who
rose as he entered, and bowed to him in silence when his tall figure
bent slightly to each of them in turn.

"Your pardon, gentlemen, for this delay," he said, gravely, and then he
settled himself at the head of the table.

Hardly had the clergy taken their seats when the door of the room was
dashed open with a lordly bang, and into the muggy room, made darker
still by twenty long black coats, there shot a gleam of laughing
sunshine--Danny himself, at a hop, skip, and a jump, with a pair of
spectacles perched insecurely on the sliding bridge of his diminutive
nose.

The Archdeacon was there that day, and when the intruder had been
evicted by blind Kerry, who came in hot pursuit of him, he shook his
head and looked as solemn and as wise as his little russet face would
admit, and said:

"Ah, my Lord, you'll kill that child with kindness. May you never heap
up for yourself a bad harvest!"

The Bishop made no answer, but breathed on the restored spectacles, and
rubbed them with his red silk handkerchief.

"I hold with the maxim of my son-in-law the Deemster," the Archdeacon
continued: "let a child be dealt with in his father's house as the world
hereafter will deal with him."

"Nay, nay, but more gently," said the Bishop. "If he is a good man, ten
to one the world will whip him--let him remember his father's house as a
place of love."

"Ah, my Lord," said the Archdeacon, "but what of the injunction against
the neglect of the rod?"

The Bishop bent his head and did not answer.

Once in a way during these early years the Bishop took Danny across to
Ballamona, and then the two little exiles in their father's house,
banished from the place of love, would rush into the Bishop's arms, Mona
at his chin, Ewan with hands clasped about his leg and flaxen head
against the great seals that hung from his fob-pocket. But as for Danny
and his cousins, and the cousins and Danny, they usually stood a while
and inspected one another with that solemnity and aloofness which is one
of the phenomena of child manners, and then, when the reserve of the
three hard little faces had been softened by a smile, they would
forthwith rush at one another with mighty clinched fists and pitch into
one another for five minutes together, amid a chorus of squeals. In this
form of salutation Danny was never known to fail, and as he was too much
of a man to limit his greeting to Ewan, he always pitched into Mona with
the same masculine impartiality.

But the time came again when the salutation was unnecessary, for they
were sent to school together, and they saw one another daily. There was
only one school to which they could be sent, and that was the parish
school, the same that was taught by James Quirk, who "could not divide
his syllables," according to the account of Jabez Gawne, the tailor.

The parishioners had built their new schoolhouse near the church, and it
lay about midway between Bishop's Court and Ballamona. It was also about
half-way down the road that led to the sea, and that was a proximity of
never-ending delight. After school, in the long summer evenings, the
scholars would troop down to the shore in one tumultuous company, the
son of the Bishop with the son of the cobbler, the Deemster's little
girl with the big girl of Jabez, who sent his child on charity. Ragged
and well-clad, clean and dirty, and the biggest lad "rigging" the
smallest, and not caring a ha'porth if his name was the name of the
Deemster or the name of Billy the Gawk. Hand-in-hand, Danny and Ewan,
with Mona between, would skip and caper along the sands down to where
the gray rocks of the Head jutted out into the sea and bounded the
universe; Mona prattling and singing, shaking out her wavy hair to the
wind, dragging Danny aside to look at a seaweed, and pulling Ewan to
look at a shell, tripping down to the water's edge, until the big
bearded waves touched her boots, and then back once more with a
half-frightened, half-affected, laughter-loaded scream. Then the boys
would strip and bathe, and Mona, being only a woman, would mind the
men's clothes, or they would shout all together at the gulls, and Danny
would mock Mother Cary's chicken and catch the doleful cry of the
cormorant, and pelt with pebbles the long-necked bird as it sat on the
rocks; or he would clamber up over the slippery seaweed, across the
sharp slate ribs to where the sea-pinks grew in the corries and the
sea-duck laid her eggs, and sing out from some dizzy height to where
Ewan held his breath below and Mona stood crying and trembling on the
sands.

What times for Danny! How the lad seemed to swell and grow every day of
life! Before he was ten he had outgrown Ewan by half an inch, and gone
through a stand-up fight with every ruffian under twelve. Then, down
among the fishermen on the beach, what sport! Knocking about among the
boats, pulling at the oars like mad, or tugging at the sheets, baling
out and pushing off, and riding away over the white breakers, and
shouting for pure devilment above the plash of the water.

"Aw, man, it's all for the happy the lad feels inside," said Billy
Quilleash.

Danny and Billy Quilleash were sworn chums, and the little sand-boy
learned all the old salt's racy sayings, and went home to Bishop's Court
and fired them off at his father.

"There's a storm coming," the Bishop said one day, looking up at the
scudding clouds. "Ay, ay," said Danny, with his small eye askew, "the
long cat's tail was going off at a slant a while ago, and now the round
thick skate yonder is hanging mortal low." "The wind is rising," the
Bishop said on another occasion. "Ay, Davy's putting on the coppers for
the parson," said the young heretic.

School, too, was only another playground to Danny, a little less
tumultuous but no less delightful than the shore. The schoolmaster had
grown very deaf since the days when the Bishop pronounced him qualified
to teach an English school. This deafness he did his best to conceal,
for he had a lively recollection of the dissatisfaction of the
parishioners, and he had a natural unwillingness to lose his bread and
butter. But his scholars were not easily hoodwinked, and Danny, the
daring young dog, would play on the master's infirmity. "Spell me the
word arithmetic," the schoolmaster might ask when the boys were ranged
about his desk in class. And Danny would answer with a face of tragic
solemnity, "Twice one are two, twice two are four." "Very good," the
schoolmaster would reply. "And now, sir, repeat me your multiplication
table--twice times." And then, while the master held his head aside, as
if in the act of intent listening, and the other boys twisted their
faces to hide their grins or sniggered openly, Danny, still with the
face of a judge, would repeat a paraphrase of the familiar little hymn,
"Jemmy was a Welshman, Jemmy was a thief, Jemmy--" "Don't speak so fast,
sir--say your figures more plainly," the schoolmaster would interrupt.
And Danny would begin again with a more explicit enunciation, "Jemmy
Quirk was a Welshman, Jemmy--" Then the sniggers and the snorts would
rise to a tumult. And down would come the master's cane on the desk.
"Silence, boys, and let the boy say his table. Some of you big lads
might take example by him, and be none the worse. Go on, Daniel--you are
quite right so far--twice five are ten, twice six--"

There was one lad in the school who could not see the humor of the
situation, a slim, quiet boy, only a little older than Danny, but a long
way ahead of him in learning, and one evening this solemn youngster hung
behind when school was breaking up, and blurted out the mischief to the
schoolmaster. He did not get the reception he expected, for, in dire
wrath at the imputation that he was deaf, Mr. Quirk birched the
informant soundly. Nor did the reward of his treachery end with
birching. It did not take half an hour for the report of both birching
and treachery to travel by that swiftest of telephones, the schoolboy
tongue, through that widest of kingdoms, the world of school; and the
same evening, while Mona, on her way home, was gathering the bluebells
that grew on the lea of the yellow-tipped gorse, and Ewan was chasing
the humming bee through the hot air that was thick with midges, Danny,
with a face as white as a haddock, was striding alone by a long circuit
across the moor, to where a cottage stood by the path across the Head.
There he bounded in at the porch, caught a boy by the coat, dragged him
into the road, pummeled him with silent vigor, while the lad bellowed
and struggled to escape.

In another instant, an old woman hobbled out of the cottage on a stick,
and with that weapon she made for Danny, and gave him sundry hard raps
on the back and head.

"Och, the craythur," she cried, "get off with ye--the
damon--extraordinary--would the Lord think it now--it's in the breed of
ye--get off, or I'll break every bone in your skin."

Danny paid as little heed to the old woman's blows as to her threats,
and was up with his fist for the twentieth time to come down on the
craven traitor who bellowed in his grip, when all at once a horse's feet
were tramping about their limbs where they struggled in the road, and a
stern voice from over their heads shouted, "Stop, stop, or must I bring
the whip across your flanks?"

It was the Deemster. Danny fell aside on the right of the horse, and the
old woman and the boy on the left.

"What does this mean?" asked the Deemster, turning to his nephew; but
Danny stood there panting, his eyes like fire, his fists clinched, his
knuckles standing out like ribs of steel, and he made no answer.

"Who is this blubbering coward?" asked the Deemster, pointing with a
contemptuous gesture to the boy half hidden by the old woman's dress.

"Coward, is it?" said the woman. "Coward, you say?"

"Who is the brat, Mrs. Kerruish?" said the Deemster, sharply.

At that Mrs. Kerruish, for it was she, pulled the boy from behind her,
plucked off his hat, ran her wrinkled hand over his forehead to his
hair, and held up his face, and said:

"Look at him, Deemster--look at him. You don't come this way often, but
look at him while you're here. Did you ever see his picture before?
Never? Never see a face like that? No? Not when you look in the glass,
Deemster?"

"Get into the house, woman," said the Deemster, in a low, thick tone,
and so saying, he put the spurs to his horse.

"As for this young demon here," said the old woman, pushing the boy back
and pointing with her stick at Danny, "he'll have his heel on your neck
yet, Deemster--and remember the word I'm saying."



CHAPTER VII

DANNY THE MADCAP


Now, Danny was a great favorite with the Deemster, and nothing that he
could do was amiss. The spice of mischief in the lad made him the
darling of the Deemster's heart. His own son disappointed the Deemster.
He seemed to have no joy in him. Ewan was quiet, and his father thought
him a milksop. There was more than one sense in which the Deemster was
an indifferent judge of his species, but he found no difficulty in
comprehending the idiosyncrasy of his brother's son. Over the pathetic
story of Danny's maddest prank, or the last mournful account of his
daring devilry, the Deemster would chuckle and shake, and roll his head
between his shoulders, then give the boy a slap on his hindmost part,
accompanied by a lusty name, and finally rummage for something in his
pocket, and smuggle that something into the young rascal's palm.

Danny would be about fifteen years of age--a lump of a lad, and
therefore out of the leading-strings of his nurse, Kerry Quayle--when he
concocted a most audacious scheme, whereof Kerry was the chief subject
and victim. This had nothing less for its aim and object than to get
Kerry married to Hommy-beg--the blind woman to the deaf man. Now, Hommy
was a gaunt, raw-boned man, dressed in a rough blue jacket and a short
gray petticoat. His full and proper name was now quite lost. He was
known as Hommy-beg, sometimes as Hommy-beg-Bill, a name which at once
embodied a playful allusion to his great physique, and a certain
genealogical record in showing that he was little Tom, the son of Bill.
Though scarcely short of stone-deaf, he was musical. He played two
instruments, the fiddle and the voice. The former squeaked like a rasp,
and the latter thundered like a fog-horn. Away to Ballamona Master Danny
went, and found Hommy-beg thinning a bed of peonies.

"Aw, man, the terrible fond she is of the like o' that swate flower,"
said the young rogue, who spoke the homespun to the life. "Aw, dear, the
way she smells at them when you bring them up for the Bishop!"

"What, ould Kerry? Smelling, is it? And never a whiff of a smell at the
breed o' them!"

"Och, no, it's not the flowers, it's the man--the man, Hommy."

"That'll do, that'll do. And blind, too! Well, well."

"But the swate temper that's at her, Hommy! And the coaxing and coaxing
of her! And, man alive, the fond she is of you! _A fine sort of a man
anyways_, and _A rael good voice at him_. Aw, extraordinary,
extraordinary."

"D'ye raely mane it?"

"Mane it? Aw, well, well, and who but you doesn't know it, Hommy?"

"Astonishing, astonishing!"

"Come up to the Coort and take a cup o' tay with her."

Hommy-beg scratched his head. "Is it rarely true, Danny veg?"

"I'll lave it with you, Hommy," said Danny, and straightway the young
rascal went back to Bishop's Court, lighted upon blind Kerry, and
entered upon a glowing description of the personal charms of Hommy-beg.

"Aw, the good-looking he is, astonishing! My gough! You should see him
in his Sunday hat, or maybe with a frill on his shirt, and smiling, and
all to that! Terrible dacent sort is Hommy-beg!"

"What, the loblolly-boy in the petticoat?"

"Aw, but the tender-hearted he is for all, and, bless me, Kerry woman,
the swate he is on you!"

"What, the ould red-head that comes singing, as the saying is?"

"Aw, no, woman, but as black as the raven, and the way he looks
sorrowful-like when he comes beside of you. You wouldn't believe it!
And, bless me, the rael bad he is to come up to the Coort and take a cup
of tay with you, and the like o' that."

"Do you raely mane it, Danny, my chree?"

The very next day Hommy-beg arrived at the kitchen door of Bishop's
Court in his Sunday hat, in the shirt with the frill to it, and with a
peony as big as a March cabbage in his fist. The end of it all was that
Kerry and Hommy-beg were forthwith asked in church. Wild as the freak
was that made the deaf man and the blind woman man and wife, their
marriage was none the less happy for their infirmities.

The Deemster heard of the plot on his way to church on Sunday morning,
and he laughed in his throat all through the service, and when the first
of the askings was solemnly proclaimed from the reading-desk, he
tittered audibly in his pew. "Danny was tired of the woman's second
sight--found it inconvenient, very--wanted to be rid of her--good!" he
chuckled. But not long afterward he enjoyed a jest that was yet more to
his taste, for his own prime butt of ridicule, the Church itself, was
then the victim.

It was an old Manx custom that on Christmas Eve the church should be
given up to the people for the singing of their native carols or
carvals. The curious service was known as Oiel Verree (the Eve of Mary),
and at every such service for the last twenty years Hommy-beg, the
gardener, and Mr. James Quirk, the schoolmaster, had officiated as
singers in the strange Manx ritual. Great had hitherto been the rivalry
between these musical celebrities, but word had gone round the town that
at length their efforts were to be combined in a carol which they were
to sing together. Dan had effected this extraordinary combination of
talent by a plot which was expected to add largely to the amusement of
the listeners.

Hommy-beg could not read a syllable, yet he never would sing his carol
without having the printed copy of it in his hand. Of course, Mr. Quirk,
the schoolmaster, could read, but, as we have seen, he resembled
Hommy-beg in being almost stone-deaf. Each could hear himself sing, but
neither could hear another.

And now for the plot. Master Dan called on the gardener at his cottage
on the Brew on the morning of the day before Christmas Day, and "Hommy,"
said he, "it's morthal strange the way a man of your common-sense can't
see that you'd wallop that squeaking ould Jemmy Quirk in a jiffy if
you'd only consent to sing a ballad along of him. Bless me, man alive,
it's then they'd be seeing what a weak, ould cracked pot of a voice is
at him."

Hommy-beg's face began to wear a smile of benevolent condescension.
Observing his advantage, the young rascal continued, "Do it at the Oiel
Verree to-night, Hommy. He'll sing his treble, and you'll sing seconds
to him."

It was an unlucky remark. The gardener frowned austerely. "Me sing
seconds to the craythur? No, never!"

Dan explained to Hommy-beg, with a world of abject apologies, that there
was a sense in which seconds meant firsts, and at length the gardener
was mollified, and consented to the proposal; but one idea was firmly
rooted in his mind--namely, that if he was to sing a carol with the
schoolmaster, he must take the best of care to sing his loudest, in
order to drown at once the voice of his rival, and the bare notion that
it was he who was singing seconds to such a poor creature as that.

Then Master Danny trotted off to the schoolhouse, where he was now no
longer a scholar, and consequently enjoyed an old boy's privilege of
approaching the master on equal terms, and "Jemmy," he said, "it's
morthal strange the way a man of your common-sense can't see that you'd
wallop that squeaking old Hommy-beg in a jiffy if you'd only consent to
sing a ballad along of him. Do it at the Oiel Verree to-night, Jemmy,
and, bless me! that's the when they'll be seeing what a weak, ould
crack-pot of a voice is at the craythur."

The schoolmaster fell even an easier prey to the plot than the gardener
had been. A carol was selected; it was to be the ancient Manx carol on
the bad women mentioned in the Bible as having (from Eve downward)
brought evil on mankind.

Now, Hommy-beg kept his carols pinned against the walls of his cottage.
The "Bad Women" was the carol which was pinned above the mantelpiece,
just under the pendulum of the clock with the facetious face. It
resembled the other prints in being worn, crumpled, and dirty; but
Hommy-beg knew it by its position, and he could distinguish every other
carol by its place on the walls.

Danny had somehow got a "skute" into this literary mystery, and after
arranging with the schoolmaster the carol that was to be sung, he
watched Hommy-beg out of his cottage, and then went into it under
pretense of a friendly call upon blind Kerry. Before he left the cottage
he had taken down the carol that had been pinned above the mantelpiece,
and fixed up another in place of it from the opposite side of the room.
The substituted carol happened, oddly enough, to be a second copy of the
carol on "Bad Women," with this radical difference: the copy taken from
under the clock was the version of the carol in English, and the copy
put up was the version in Manx. Toward ten o'clock that night the church
bells began to ring, and Hommy-beg looked at the clock, took the carol
from under the pendulum, put on his best petticoat, and went off to
church.

Now, there were to be seasonable rejoicings at the Court on the morrow,
and Kerry had gone over to help at the Christmas preparations. Ewan and
Mona had always spent their Christmas at Bishop's Court since the day
when they left it as children. That night they had arrived as usual, and
after they had spent some hours with Danny in dressing the house in a
green-and-red garment of hibbin and hollin, the Bishop had turned them
off to bed. Danny's bedroom was the little crib over the library, and
Ewan's was the room over that. All three bade the Bishop good-night and
went into their rooms. But Danny did not go to bed; he listened until he
heard the Bishop in the library twisting his chair and stirring the
peats, and then he whipped off his boots and crept upstairs to Ewan's
room. There in bated breath he told of the great sport that was to come
off at the Oiel Verree, announced his intention of going, and urged Ewan
to go with him. They could just jump through the little window of his
room, and light on the soft grass by the library wall, and get in again
by the same easy means. No one would know that they had been out, and
what high jinks they must have! But no, Ewan was not to be persuaded,
and Danny set off alone.

Hommy-beg did not reach the church until the parson's sermon was almost
over. Prayers had been said in a thin congregation, but no sooner were
they done than crowds of young men and maidens tripped down the aisles.
The young women went up into the gallery, and from that elevation they
shot down at their bachelor friends large handfuls of peas. To what
ancient spirit of usage, beyond the ancient spirit of mischief, the
strange practise was due, we must be content to leave, as a solemn
problem, to the learned and curious antiquaries. Nearly everyboy carried
a candle, and the candles of the young women were adorned with a red
ribbon or rosette.

In passing out of the church the parson came face to face with
Hommy-beg, who was pushing his way up the aisle. The expression on his
face was not at the moment one of peculiar grace, and he stopped the
gardener and said sharply in his ear, "Mind you see that all is done in
decency and order, and that you close my church before midnight."

"Aw, but the church is the people's, I'm thinkin'," said Hommy-beg with
a shake of his tousled head.

"The people are as ignorant as goats," said the parson, angrily.

"Aw, well, and you're their shepherd, so just make sheeps of them," said
Hommy-beg, and he pushed on.

Danny was there by this time, and, with a face of mighty solemnity, he
sat on the right of Hommy-beg, and held a candle in his left hand. When
everything was understood to be ready, and Will-as-Thorn, the clerk, had
taken his station inside the communion rail, the business of the Oiel
Verree began. First one man got up and sung a carol in English; then
another sung a Manx carol. But the great event of the night was to be
the carol sung by the sworn enemies and rivals, Hommy-beg and Mr. James
Quirk.

At last the time came for these worthies. They rose from opposite sides
of the church, eyed each other with severe looks, stepped out of their
pews, and walked down the aisle to the door of the porch. Then they
turned about in silence, and, standing side by side, faced the
communion.

The tittering in the gallery and whispering in the body were audible to
all except the persons who were the cause of both. "Hush, hush, man
alive, that's him, that's him." "Bless me, look at Hommy-beg and the
petticut, and the handkercher pinnin' round his throat." "Aw, dear, it's
what he's used of." "A regular Punch and Judy."

Danny was exerting himself at that moment to keep order and silence.
"Hush, man, let them make a start for all."

The carol the rivals were about to sing contained some thirty verses. It
was an ancient usage that after each verse the carol singers should take
a long stride toward the communion. By the time the carol of "Bad Women"
came to an end the carol singers must, therefore, be at the opposite end
of the church.

There was now a sublime scorn printed on the features of Mr. Quirk. As
for Hommy-beg, he looked, at this last instant, like a man who was
rather sorry than otherwise for his rash adversary.

"The rermantic they're looking," whispered a girl in the gallery to the
giggling companion beside her.

Expectation was at its highest when Hommy-beg thrust his hand into his
pocket and brought out the printed copy of the carol. Hommy unfolded it,
glanced at it with the air of a conductor taking a final look at his
score, nodded his head at it as if in approval, and then, with a
magnanimous gesture, held it between himself and Mr. Quirk. The
schoolmaster in turn glanced at it, glanced again, glanced a third time
at the paper, and up into the face of Hommy-beg.

Anxiety was now on tiptoe. "Hush, d'ye hear, hush," whispered Danny from
his pew; "hush, man, or it's spoiling it all you'll be, for sure."

At the moment when Mr. Quirk glanced into the face of Hommy-beg there
was a smile on that countenance. Mr. Quirk mistook that smile. He
imagined he saw a trick. The schoolmaster could read, and he perceived
that the carol which the gardener held out to him was not the carol for
which he had been told by Master Danny to prepare. They were, by
arrangement, to have sung the English version of "Bad Women." This was
the Manx version, and though the metre was the same, it was always sung
to a different tune. Ah! Mr. Quirk understood it all! The monster wanted
to show that he, James Quirk, schoolmaster, could only sing one carol;
but, as sure as his name was Jemmy, he would be equal with him! He could
sing this Manx version, and he would. It was now Mr. Quirk's turn to
smile.

"Aw, look at them--the two of them--grinnin' together like a pair of old
gurgoils on the steeple!"

At a motion of the gardener's hand, intended to beat the time, the
singers began. Hommy-beg sang the carol agreed upon--the English version
of "Bad Women." Mr. Quirk sang the carol they held in their hands--the
Manx version of "Bad Women." Neither heard the other, and to dispel the
bare notion that either was singing seconds, each bawled at the utmost
reach of his lung-power. To one tune Hommy-beg sang:

    "Thus from the days of Adam
    Her mischief you may trace."

And to another Mr. Quirk sang:

    "She ish va'n voir ain ooilley
    Son v'ee da Adam ben."

Such laughter! How the young women in the gallery lay back in their
seats with hysterical shrieks! How the young fellows in the body made
the sacred edifice ring with guffaws! But the singers, with eyes
steadfastly fixed on the paper, heard nothing but each his own voice.

Three verses had been sung, and three strides made toward the communion,
when suddenly the laughter and shouting of the people ceased. All eyes
had turned toward the porch. There the Bishop stood, with blank
amazement printed on his face, his head bare, and one hand on the
half-opened door.

If a spectre had appeared the consternation had scarcely been greater.
Danny had been rolling in his pew with unconstrained laughter, but at
sight of the Bishop his candle fell from his hand and sputtered on the
book-rail. The Bishop turned about, and before the people had recovered
from their surprise he was gone. At the next moment everybody got up
without a word and left the church. In two minutes more not a soul
remained except Hommy-beg and Mr. Jemmy Quirk, who, with eyes riveted on
the printed carol in their hands, still sang lustily, oblivious of the
fact that they had no audience.

When Danny left the church that night it was through the lancet-window
of the vestry. Dropping on the turf at the northeast of the church, he
leaped the wall that divided the churchyard from a meadow on the north,
and struck upon a path that went round to Bishop's Court by way of the
cliff-head. The path was a long one, but it was lonesome, and its
lonesomeness was no small merit in Danny's view that night. The Bishop
must return to the Court by the highway through the village, and the
Bishop must be in front of him.

The night was dark and dumb, and, laden with salt scent, the dank vapor
floated up from the sea. Danny walked quickly. The deep boom of the
waters rolling on the sand below came up to him through the dense air.
Late as was the hour, he could hear the little sandpiper screaming at
Orris Head. The sea-swallow shot over him too, with its low, mournful
cry. Save for these sounds, and the quick beat of his own feet, all was
still around him.

Beneath his stubborn bit of skepticism Danny was superstitious. He was
full to the throat of fairy-lore and stories of witchcraft. He had
learned both from old Billy Quilleash and his mates as they sat barking
their nets on the shore. And that night the ghostly memories would
arise, do what he might to keep them down. To banish them Danny began to
whistle, and, failing to enliven himself much by that exercise, he began
to sing. His selection of a song was not the happiest under the
circumstances. It was the doleful ballad of "Myle Charaine." Danny sang
it in Manx, but here is a stave of it in English:

    "Oh, Myle Charaine, where got you your gold?
      Lone, lone, you have left me here;
    Oh, not in the Curragh, deep under the mold--
      Lone, lone, and void of cheer."

He had come up to Bishop's Court on the sea-front, and there the
Bishop's library stood out from the body of the old house, between the
chapel porch and the kitchen offices. A light was in the library, and
passing over the soft grass with the soft flight of a lapwing, Danny
peered in at the curtainless window. The familiar room was empty. On the
hearth a turf fire burned without flame, and bathed the book-encased
walls in a rosy red. The Bishop's easy-chair, in its white covering,
stood at one side of the ingle, his slippers in front of it; and beside
it, on the little three-legged mahogany table, were the inkhorn and the
long quill, and the Bishop's four-cornered library cap. The door stood
ajar, and the two candles in the two brass brackets at each side of the
fireplace were tipped by their extinguishers.

The Bishop had not returned; but the faint smile of triumph which at
that thought rested like a ray of pale sunshine on Danny's face suddenly
vanished. In a lad's vague way Danny now realized that it had not been
merely because the night was dark and the road lonely that he had
whistled and sung. He hung his head where he stood in the night, and as
if by an involuntary movement, he lifted his cap and fumbled it.

At the next instant Danny was clambering up the angle of the wall to the
lead flat that covered the projecting part of the library. From this
lead flat there opened the window of his own bedroom, and in a moment he
was striding through it. All was darkness within, but he needed no light
to see his way in that room. He knew every crib and corner; the place
where he kept his fishing lines, the nail from which his moth-net hung,
the bottle on the drawers in which he had his minnows, and the can with
the lid well down that contained the newts that were the terror of all
the women in the house. If Danny had been as blind as old Kerry he could
have found everything his room had in it, except, perhaps, his breeches,
or his shirt, or his other coat, or that cap that was always getting
itself lost, and of course no sight and no light would help a lad to
find things like these.

Hardly had Danny taken a step into his room before he realized that some
one had been there since he left it. Derry, his white-eyed collie, who
had been lying on the bed, dropped on the floor, and frisked about him.
"Down, Derry, down!" he whispered, and for a moment he thought it might
have been Derry that had pushed open the door. But the dog's snout could
not have turned down the counterpane of the bed, or opened the top
drawer that held the fishing flies, or rummaged among the long rods in
the corner. The counterpane lay double, the drawer stood open, the rods
were scattered--some one had been there to look for him, and, not
finding him, had tried to find a reason for his absence, and that some
one had either come into the room in the dark, or--been blind.

"Aw, it's always Kerry that's in it," Danny told himself, and with an
unpleasant remembrance of Kerry's strange faculty, whereof he was the
peculiar victim, he reflected that his race home had been vain. Then on
the instant Danny found himself concocting a trick to defeat
appearances. He had a foot on the stairs to carry out his design, when
he heard the door at the front of the house open and close, and a
familiar step pass through the hall. The Bishop had returned. Danny
waited and listened. Now there was talking in the library. Danny's quick
ear could scarcely distinguish the words, but the voices he could not
mistake--they were the voices of the Bishop and blind Kerry. With a
stealthy stride Danny went up to Ewan's room. Ewan was sleeping. Feeling
hot and cold together, Danny undressed and turned into bed. Before he
had time to bury his head under the clothes he heard the Bishop on the
stairs. The footsteps passed into the room below, and then after an
interval they were again on the stairs. In another moment Danny knew,
though of course his eyes were fast shut, and he was sleeping most
profoundly, that the Bishop with a lighted candle in his hand was
leaning over him.

It would wrong the truth to say that Master Danny's slumber was
disturbed that night; but next morning when the boys awoke together, and
Ewan rose on his elbow with a puzzled gaze at his unexpected bed-fellow,
Danny sidled out of the bed on to the floor, and, without looking too
much into Ewan's face, he began his toilet, as was his wont, by putting
on his cap. He had got this length, and was standing in cap and shirt,
when he blurted out the mischief of last night's adventure, the singing,
the sudden appearance of the Bishop, the race home along the cliff, and
the coming up to bed. "But you won't let on, Ewan, will you?" he said.
Ewan looked at that moment as if the fate of the universe hung on his
answer, but he gave the promise that was required of him. Then the boys
went downstairs and found Mona, and imparted the dread secret to her.
Presently the Bishop came in to breakfast with a face that was paler
than usual, and more than ordinarily solemn.

"Danny," he said, "why did you not sleep in your own bed last night, my
boy?"

"I slept with Ewan, father," Danny answered, promptly.

The Bishop said no more then, and they all sat down at the table.

"And so you two boys went to bed together--_together_?" he said, and,
with a dig of emphasis on his last word, repeated, he looked at Ewan.

Ewan's face crimsoned, and his tongue faltered, "Yes, uncle."

The Bishop's eyes fell. "Boys," he said, in another tone, "would you
think it? I have done you a great wrong."

The boys were just then most intent on the tablecloth.

"You must know," the Bishop went on, "that there was a most unseemly
riot at the Oiel Verree, and all night long I have been sore troubled by
the bad thought that Danny was in the midst of it."

The boys held their heads very low over their plates, and Mona's big
eyes filled visibly. Danny's impulse was to blurt out the whole mischief
there and then, but he reflected that to do so would be to charge Ewan
with falsehood. Ewan, on his part, would have confessed to the
deception, but he knew that this would mean that Danny must be punished.
The boy's wise head could see no way out of a tangle like that. The
breakfast was the quietest ever eaten on a Christmas morning at Bishop's
Court, and, little as the talking was, the Bishop, strangely enough, did
it all. But when they rose from the table, and the boys slunk out of the
room with most portentous gravity, Mona went up to the Bishop with a
face full of liquid grief, and, turning the whole depths of her great
troubled eyes upon him, the little maiden said: "Ewan didn't mean to
tell you what wasn't true--and cousin Danny didn't intend to
deceive--but he was--that is, Danny--I mean--dear uncle, you won't--"

"You mean that Danny was at the Oiel Verree last night--I know it,
child, I know it," said the Bishop, and he patted her head and smiled.

But the Bishop knew also that Danny had that day made one more step down
the steep of life, and left a little ghost of his child-self behind him,
and in his secret heart the Bishop saw that shadowy form, and wept over
it.



CHAPTER VIII

PASSING THE LOVE OF WOMEN


Now the facts of this history must stride on some six years, and in that
time the Deemster had lost nearly all the little interest he ever felt
in his children. Mona had budded into womanhood, tender, gracious,
quiet--a tall fair-haired maiden of twenty, with a drooping head like a
flower, with a voice soft and low, and the full blue eyes with their
depths of love and sympathy shaded by long fluttering lashes as the
trembling sedge shades the deep mountain pool. It was as ripe and
beautiful a womanhood as the heart of a father might dream of, but the
Deemster could take little pleasure in it. If Mona had been his son, her
quiet ways and tractable nature might have counted for something; but a
woman was only a woman in the Deemster's eyes, and the Deemster, like
the Bedouin chief, would have numbered his children without counting his
daughter. As for Ewan, he had falsified every hope of the Deemster. His
Spartan training had gone for nothing. He was physically a weakling; a
tall spare youth of two-and-twenty, fair-haired, like his sister, with a
face as spiritual and beautiful, and hardly less feminine. He was of a
self-torturing spirit, constantly troubled with vague questionings, and
though in this regard he was very much his father's son, the Deemster
held his temperament in contempt.

The end of all was that Ewan showed a strong desire to enter the Church.
The Deemster had intended that his son should study the law and follow
him in his place when his time came. But Ewan's womanly temperament
coexisted with a manly temper. Into the law he would not go, and the
Church he was resolved to follow. The Bishop had then newly opened at
Bishop's Court a training college for his clergy, and Ewan sought and
obtained admission. The Deemster fumed, but his son was not to be moved
even by his wrath. This was when Ewan was nineteen years of age, and
after two more years the spirituality of his character overcame the
obstacle of his youth, and the Bishop ordained him at twenty-one. Then
Ewan was made chaplain to the household at Bishop's Court.

Hardly had this been done when Ewan took another step in life. With the
knowledge of the Bishop, but without consulting the Deemster, he
married, being now of age, a pretty child of sixteen, the daughter of
his father's old foe, the vicar of the parish. When knowledge of this
act of unwisdom reached the Deemster his last remaining spark of
interest in his son expired, and he sent Mona across to Bishop's Court
with a curt message saying that Ewan and his wife were at liberty, if
they liked, to take possession of the old Ballamona. Thus he turned his
back upon his son, and did his best to wipe him out of his mind.

Ewan took his young wife to the homestead that had been the place of his
people for six generations, the place where he himself had been born,
the place where that other Ewan, his good grandfather, had lived and
died.

More than ever for these events the Deemster became a solitary man. He
kept no company; he took no pleasures. Alone he sat night after night in
his study at Ballamona, and Ballamona was asleep before he slept, and
before it awoke he was stirring. His daughter's presence in the house
was no society for the Deemster. She grew beside him like her mother's
youth, a yet fairer vision of the old days coming back to him hour by
hour, but he saw nothing of all that. Disappointed in his sole hope, his
son, whom truly he had never loved for love's sake, but only for his own
sorry ambitions, he sat down under his disappointment a doubly soured
and thrice-hardened man. He had grown noticeably older, but his restless
energy suffered no abatement. Biweekly he kept his court, but few sought
the law whom the law did not first find, for word went round that the
Deemster was a hard judge, and deemed the laws in rigor. If men differed
about money, they would say, "Och, why go to the Deemster? It's throwing
a bone into the bad dog's mouth," and then they would divide their
difference.

The one remaining joy of the Deemster's lonely life was centred in his
brother's son, Dan. That lusty youth had not disappointed his
expectations. At twenty he was a braw, brown-haired, brown-eyed lad of
six feet two inches in stature, straight and upright, and with the thews
and sinews of an ox. He was the athlete of the island, and where there
was a tough job of wrestling to be had, or a delightful bit of fighting
to be done, there was Dan in the heart of it. "Aw, and middling few
could come anigh him," the people used to say. But more than in Dan's
great stature and great strength, the little Deemster took a bitter
pleasure in his daring irreverence for things held sacred. In this
regard Dan had not improved with improving years. Scores of tricks his
sad pugnacity devised to help the farmers to cheat the parson of his
tithe, and it added not a little to the Deemster's keen relish of freaks
like these that it was none other than the son of the Bishop who
perpetrated them. As for the Bishop himself, he tried to shut his eyes
to such follies. He meant his son to go into the Church, and, in spite
of all outbursts of spirit, notwithstanding wrestling matches and
fights, and even some tipsy broils of which rumor was in the air, he
entered Dan as a student at the college he kept at Bishop's Court.

In due course the time of Dan's examination came, and then all further
clinging to a forlorn hope was at an end. The Archdeacon acted as the
Bishop's examining chaplain, and more than once the little man had
declared in advance his conscientious intention of dealing with the
Bishop's son as he would deal with any other. The examination took place
in the library of Bishop's Court, and besides the students and the
examiner there were some six or seven of the clergy present, and Ewan
Mylrea, then newly ordained, was among them. It was a purely oral
examination, and when Dan's turn came the Archdeacon assumed his
loftiest look, and first tackled the candidate where he was known to be
weakest.

"I suppose, sir, you think you can read your Greek Testament?"

Dan answered that he had never thought anything about it.

"I dare say for all your modesty that you have an idea that you know it
well enough to teach it," said the Archdeacon.

Dan hadn't an idea on the subject.

"Take down the Greek Testament, and imagine that I'm your pupil, and
proceed to expound it," said the Archdeacon.

Dan took the book from the bookcase and fumbled it in his fingers.

"Well, sir, open at the parable of the tares."

Dan scratched his big head leisurely, and he did his best to find the
place. "So I'm to be tutor--is that it?" he said, with a puzzled look.

"That is so."

"And you are to be the pupil?"

"Precisely--suppose yourself my tutor--and now begin."

At this Ewan stepped out with a look of anxiety. "Is not that a rather
difficult supposition, Archdeacon?" he said, timidly.

The Archdeacon glanced over his grandson loftily and made no reply.

"Begin, sir, begin," he said, with a sweep of his hand toward Dan, and
at that he sat down in the high-backed oak chair at the head of the
table.

Then on the instant there came into Dan's quick eyes a most mischievous
twinkle. He was standing before the table with the Greek Testament open
at the parable of the tares, and he knew too well he could not read the
parable.

"When do we change places, Archdeacon?" he asked.

"We have changed places--you are now the tutor--I am your pupil--begin,
sir."

"Oh! we have changed places, have we?" said Dan, and at that he lifted
up the Archdeacon's silver-tipped walking-cane which lay on the table
and brought it down again with a bang. "Then just you get up off your
chair, sir," he said, with a tone of command.

The Archdeacon's russet face showed several tints of blue at that
moment, but he rose to his feet. Thereupon Dan handed him the open book.

"Now, sir," he said, "first read me the parable of the tares."

The clergy began to shuffle about and look into each other's faces. The
Archdeacon's expression was not amiable, but he took the book and read
the parable.

"Very fair, very fair indeed," said Dan, in a tone of mild
condescension--"a few false quantities, but very fair on the whole."

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, this is going too far," said one of the clergy.

"Silence, sir," said Dan, with a look of outraged authority.

Then there was dire confusion. Some of the clergy laughed outright, and
some giggled under their breath, and some protested in white wrath, and
the end of it all was that the examination came to a sudden termination,
and, rightly or wrongly, wisely or foolishly, Dan was adjudged to be
unfit for the ministry of the Church.

When the Bishop heard the verdict his pale face whitened visibly, and he
seemed to see the beginning of the end. At that moment he thought of the
Deemster with bitterness. This blow to his hopes did not cement the
severed lives of the brothers. The forces that had been dividing them
year by year since the days of their father appeared to be drawing them
yet wider apart in the lives and fortunes of their children. Each felt
that the other was frustrating his dearest expectations in his son, and
that was an offense that neither could forgive. To the Deemster it
seemed that the Bishop was bearing down every ambition of his life,
tearing him up as a naked trunk, leaving him a childless man. To the
Bishop it seemed that the Deemster was wrecking the one life that was
more to him than his own soul, and standing between him and the heart
that with all its follies was dearer than the world beside. From the
time of Ewan's marriage and Dan's disgrace the Bishop and the Deemster
rarely met, and when they passed on the road they exchanged only the
coldest salutation.

But if the fates were now more than ever fostering an unnatural enmity
between the sons of old Ewan they were cherishing at the same time the
loves of their children. Never were cousins more unlike or more fondly
attached. Between Dan, the reckless scapegrace, and Mona, with the big
soft eyes and the quiet ways, the affection was such as neither
understood. They had grown up side by side, they had seen each other
daily, they had scampered along the shore with clasped hands, they had
screamed at the sea-gulls with one voice, and still they were boy and
girl together. But once they were stooking the barley in the glebe, and,
the day being hot, Mona tipped back her white sun-bonnet, and it fell on
to her shoulders. Seeing this, Dan came stealthily behind and thought
very craftily to whisk it away unobserved; but the strings by which it
was tied caught in her hair and tugged at its knot, and the beautiful
wavy shower fell rip-rip-rippling down her back. The wind caught the
loosened hair and tossed it about her, and she stood up erect among the
corn with the first blush on her cheeks that Dan had ever brought there,
and turned full upon him all the glorious light of her deep blue eyes.
Then, then, oh then, Dan seemed to see her for the first time a girl no
longer, but a woman, a woman, a woman! And the mountains behind her were
in one instant blotted out of Dan's eyes, and everything seemed to spin
about him.

When next he knew where he was, and what he was doing, behold, there
were Mona's rosy lips under his, and she was panting and gasping for
breath.

But if the love of Dan and Mona was more than cousinly, though they knew
it not as yet, the love of Ewan for Dan was wonderful and passing the
love of women. That pure soul, with its vague spiritual yearnings,
seemed to have nothing in common with the jovial roysterer, always
fighting, always laughing, taking disgrace as a duck takes water, and
losing the trace of it as easily. Twenty times he stood between the
scapegrace and the Bishop, twenty times he hid from the good father the
follies of the son. He thought for that thoughtless head that never had
an ache or a care under its abundant curls; he hoped for that light
heart that hoped for nothing; he trembled for the soul that felt no
fear. Never was such loyalty between man and man since David wept for
Jonathan. And Ewan's marriage disturbed this affection not at all, for
the love he bore to Dan was a brotherly passion for which language has
yet no name.

Let us tell one story that shall show this friendship in its double
bearings--Ewan's love and temper and Dan's heedless harshness and the
great nature beneath it, and then we will pass on with fuller knowledge
to weightier matters.

Derry, the white-eyed collie that had nestled on the top of his master's
bed the night Dan sneaked home in disgrace from Oiel Verree, was a
crafty little fox, with cunning and duplicity bred in his very bones. If
you were a tramp of the profession of Billy the Gawk, he would look up
at you with his big innocent eyes, and lick your hand, and thrust his
nose into your palm, and the next moment he would seize you by the
hindmost parts and hold on like a leech. His unamiable qualities grew as
he grew in years, and one day Dan went on a long journey, leaving Derry
behind, and when he returned he had another dog with him, a great shaggy
Scotch collie, with bright eyes, a happy phiz, and a huge bush of a
tail. Derry was at the gate when his master came home, and he eyed the
new-comer with looks askance. From that day Derry turned his back on his
master, he would never answer his call, and he did not know his whistle
from the croak of a corn-crake. In fact, Derry took his own courses, and
forthwith fell into all manner of dissolute habits. He went out at night
alone, incognito, and kept most unchristian hours. The farmers around
complained that their sheep were found dead in the field, torn and
worried by a dog's teeth. Derry was known to be a dog that did not live
a reputable life, and suspicion fell on him. Dan took the old fox in
hand, and thenceforward Derry looked out on the world through a rope
muzzle.

One day there was to be a sheep-dog match, and Dan entered his Scotch
collie, Laddie. The race was to be in the meadow at the foot of Slieu
Dhoo, and great crowds of people came to witness it. Hurdles were set up
to make all crooks and cranks of difficulty, and then a drift of sheep
were turned loose in the field. The prize was to the dog that would, at
the word of its master, gather the sheep together and take them out at
the gate in the shortest time. Ewan, then newly married, was there, and
beside him was his child-wife. Time was called, and Dan's turn came to
try the mettle of his Laddie. The dog started well, and in two or three
minutes he had driven the whole flock save two into an alcove of hurdles
close to where Ewan and his wife stood together. Then at the word of his
master Laddie set off over the field for the stragglers, and Dan shouted
to Ewan not to stir a hand or foot, or the sheep would be scattered
again. Now, just at that instant who should pop over the hedge but Derry
in his muzzle, and quick as thought he shot down his head, put up his
paws, threw off his muzzle, dashed at the sheep, snapped at their legs,
and away they went in twenty directions.

Before Ewan had time to cry out Derry was gone, with his muzzle between
his teeth. When Dan, who was a perch or two up the meadow, turned round
and saw what had happened, and that his dog's chances were gone, his
anger overcame him, and he turned on Ewan with a torrent of reproaches.

"There--you've done it with your lumbering--curse it."

With complete self-possession Ewan explained how Derry had done the
mischief.

Then Dan's face was darker with wrath than it had ever been before.

"A pretty tale," he said, and his lip curled in a sneer. He turned to
the people around. "Anybody see the dog slip his muzzle?"

None had seen what Ewan had affirmed. The eyes of every one had been on
the two stragglers in the distance pursued by Dan and Laddie.

Now, when Ewan saw that Dan distrusted him, and appealed to strangers as
witness to his word, his face flushed deep, and his delicate nostrils
quivered.

"A pretty tale," Dan repeated, and he was twisting on his heel, when up
came Derry again, his muzzle on his snout, whisking his tail, and
frisking about Dan's feet with an expression of quite lamb-like
simplicity.

At that sight Ewan's livid face turned to a great pallor, and Dan broke
into a hard laugh.

"We've heard of a dog slipping his muzzle," he said, "but who ever heard
of a dog putting a muzzle on again?"

Then Ewan stepped from beside his girl-wife, who stood there with
heaving breast. His eyes were aflame, but for an instant he conquered
his emotions and said, with a constrained quietness, but with a deep
pathos in his tone, "Dan, do you think I've told you the truth?"

Dan wheeled about. "I think you've told me a lie," he said, and his
voice came thick from his throat.

All heard the word, and all held their breath. Ewan stood a moment as if
rooted to the spot, and his pallid face whitened every instant. Then he
fell back, and took the girl-wife by the hand and turned away with her,
his head down, his very heart surging itself out of his choking breast.
And, as he passed through the throng, to carry away from that scene the
madness that was working in his brain, he overheard the mocking comments
of the people. "Aw, well, well, did ye hear that now?--called him a
liar, and not a word to say agen it." "A liar! Och, a liar? and him a
parzon, too!" "Middling chicken-hearted, anyways--a liar! Aw, well,
well, well!"

At that Ewan flung away the hand of his wife, and, quivering from head
to foot, he strode toward Dan.

"You've called me a liar," he said, in a shrill voice that was like a
cry. "Now, you shall prove your word--you shall fight me--you shall, by
God."

He was completely carried away by passion.

"The parzon, the parzon!" "Man alive, the young parzon!" the people
muttered, and they closed around.

Dan stood a moment. He looked down from his great height at Ewan's
quivering form and distorted face. Then he turned about and glanced into
the faces of the people. In another instant his eyes were swimming in
tears; he took a step toward Ewan, flung his arms about him, and buried
his head in his neck, and the great stalwart lad wept like a little
child. In another moment Ewan's passion was melted away, and he kissed
Dan on the cheek.

"Blubbering cowards!" "Aw, blatherskites!" "Och, man alive, a pair of
turtle-doves!"

Dan lifted his head and looked around, raised himself to his full
height, clinched his fists, and said:

"Now, my lads, you did your best to make a fight, and you couldn't
manage it. I won't fight my cousin, and he shan't fight me; but if
there's a man among you would like to know for himself how much of a
coward I am, let him step out--I'm ready."

Not a man budged an inch.



CHAPTER IX

THE SERVICE ON THE SHORE


It was the spring of the year when the examining chaplain gave the
verdict which for good or ill put Dan out of the odor of sanctity. Then
in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, he haunted the shore where old
Billy and his mates were spreading their nets and barking them in
preparation for the herring season that was soon to begin. There it was,
while stretched on the warm shingle, with old Billy Quilleash sitting
near, smoking his black cutty and mending the meshes broken by the
dogfish of last year, that Dan hit on the idea of a new course in life.
This was nothing better or worse than that of turning fisherman. He
would buy a smack and make old Billy his skipper; he would follow the
herrings himself, and take up his own share and the share of the boat.
It would be delightful, and, of course, it would be vastly profitable.
Everything looked plain and straight and simple, and though old Billy
more than half shook his gray head at the project, and let fall by
several inches his tawny face, and took his pipe out of his mouth and
cleared his throat noisily, and looked vacantly out to sea, and gave
other ominous symptoms of grave internal dubitation, Dan leaped to his
feet at the sudden access of new purpose, and bowled off in hot haste to
tell the Bishop.

The Bishop listened in silence at first, and with a sidelong look out at
the window up to the heights of Slieu Dhoo, and when Dan, in a hang-dog
manner, hinted at certain new-born intentions of reform, there was a
perceptible trembling of the Bishop's eyelids; and when he gathered
voice and pictured the vast scheme of profit without loss, the Bishop
turned his grave eyes slowly upon him, and then Dan's own eyes suddenly
fell, and the big world began to shrivel up to the pitiful dimensions of
an orange with the juice squeezed out of it. But the end of it all was
that the Bishop undertook to become responsible for the first costs of
the boat, and, having made this promise with the air of a man who knows
too well that he is pampering the whim of a spoiled boy, he turned away
rather suddenly, with his chin a thought deeper than ever in his breast.

What hurry and bustle ensued. What driving away to north, south, east,
and west, to every fishing port in the island where boats were built or
sold! At length a boat was bought on the chocks at Port le Mary, a
thirty-ton boat of lugger build, and old Billy Quilleash was sent south
to bring it up through the Calf Sound to the harbor at Peeltown.

Then there was the getting together of a crew. Of course old Billy was
made skipper. He had sailed twenty years in a boat of Kinvig's with
three nets to his share, and half that time he had been admiral of the
Peeltown fleet of herring boats, with five pounds a year for his post of
honor. In Dan's boat he was to have four nets by his own right, and one
for his nephew, Davy Fayle. Davy was an orphan, brought up by Billy
Quilleash. He was a lad of eighteen, and was to sail as boy. There were
four other hands--Crennel, the cook; Teare, the mate; Corkell, and
Corlett.

Early and late Dan was down at the harbor, stripped to the woolen shirt,
and tackling any odd job of painting or carpentry, for the opening of
the herring season was hard upon them. But he found time to run up to
the new Ballamona to tell Mona that she was to christen his new boat,
for it had not been named when it left the chocks; and then to the old
Ballamona, to persuade Ewan to go with him on his first trip to the
herrings.

The day appointed by custom for the first takings of the herring came
quickly round. It was a brilliant day in early June. Ewan had been
across to Slieu Dhoo to visit his father, for the first time since his
marriage, more than half a year ago, in order to say that he meant to go
out for the night's fishing in Dan's new boat, and to beg that his young
wife, who was just then in delicate health, might be invited to spend
the night of his absence with Mona at the new Ballamona. The Deemster
complied with a grim face; Ewan's young wife went across in the early
morning, and in the afternoon all four, the Deemster and Mona, Ewan and
his wife, set off in a lumbering, springless coach--the first that the
island had yet seen--to witness the departure of the herring fleet from
Peeltown, and to engage in that day's ceremony.

The salt breath of the sea was in the air, and the light ripples of the
bay glistened through a drowsy haze of warm sunshine. It was to be high
water at six o'clock. When the Deemster's company reached Peeltown, the
sun was still high over Contrary Head, and the fishing boats in the
harbor, to the number of two hundred, were rolling gently, with their
brown sails half set, to the motion of the rising tide.

There was Dan in his guernsey on the deck of his boat, and, as the coach
drew up near the bottom of the wooden pier, he lifted his red cap from
his curly head, and then went on to tie a bottle by a long blue ribbon
to the tiller. There was old Billy Quilleash in his sea-boots, and there
was Davy Fayle, a shambling sort of lad, long rather than tall, with
fair hair tangled over his forehead, and a face which had a simple,
vacant look that came of a lagging lower lip. Men on every boat in the
harbor were washing the decks, or bailing out the dingey, or laying down
the nets below. The harbor-master was on the quay, shouting to this boat
to pull up or to that one to lie back. And down on the broad sands of
the shore were men, women, and children in many hundreds, sitting and
lying and lounging about an empty boat with a hole in the bottom that
lay high and dry on the beach. The old fishing town itself had lost its
chill and cheerless aspect, and no longer looked hungrily out over miles
of bleak sea. Its blind alleys and dark lanes, its narrow, crabbed,
crooked streets were bright with little flags hung out of the little
stuffed-up windows, and yet brighter with bright faces that hurried to
and fro.

About five o'clock, as the sun was dipping seaward across the back of
Contrary, leaving the brown sails in the harbor in shade, and glistening
red on the sides of the cathedral church on the island-rock that stood
twenty yards out from the mainland, there was a movement of the people
on the shore toward the town behind them, and of fisher-fellows from
their boats toward the beach. Some of the neighboring clergy had come
down to Peeltown, and the little Deemster sat in his coach, thrown open,
blinking in the sun under his shaggy gray eyebrows. But some one was
still looked for, and expectation was plainly evident in every face
until a cheer came over the tops of the houses from the market-place.
Then there was a general rush toward the mouth of the quay, and
presently there came, laboring over the rough cobbles of the tortuous
Castle Street, flanked by a tumultuous company of boys and men,
bareheaded women, and children, who halloed and waved their arms and
tossed up their caps, a rough-coated Manx pony, on which the tall figure
of the Bishop sat.

The people moved on with the Bishop at their head until they came to the
beach, and there, at the disused boat lying dry on the sand, the Bishop
alighted. In two minutes more every fisherman in the harbor had left his
boat and gathered with his fellows on the shore. Then there began a
ceremony of infinite pathos and grandeur.

In the open boat the pale-faced Bishop stood, his long hair, sprinkled
with gray, lifted gently over his drooping shoulders by the gentle
breeze that came with its odor of brine from the sea. Around him, on
their knees on the sand, were the tawny-faced, weather-beaten fishermen
in their sea-boots and guernseys, bareheaded, and fumbling their soft
caps in their hands. There, on the outside, stood the multitude of men,
women, and young children, and on the skirts of the crowd stood the
coach of the Deemster, and it was half encircled by the pawing horses of
some of the black-coated clergy.

The Bishop began the service. It asked for the blessing of God on the
fishing expedition which was about to set out. First came the lesson,
"And God said, let the waters bring forth abundantly"; and then the
story of Jesus in the ship, when there arose a great tempest while He
slept, and His disciples awoke Him, and He arose and rebuked the waves;
and then that other story of how the disciples toiled all night and took
nothing, but let down their nets again at Christ's word, and there came
a great multitude of fishes, and their nets brake. "Restore and continue
to us the harvest of the sea," prayed the Bishop, with his face
uplifted; and the men on their knees on the sand, with uncovered heads
and faces in their caps, murmured their responses in their own tongue,
"Yn Meailley."

And while they prayed, the soft boom of the unruffled waters on the
shore, and the sea's deep murmur from away beyond the headland, and the
wild jabbering cries of a flight of sea-gulls disporting on a rock in
the bay, were the only sounds that mingled with the Bishop's deep tones
and the men's hoarse voices.

Last of all, the Bishop gave out a hymn. It was a simple old hymn, such
as every man had known since his mother had crooned it over his cot. The
men rose to their feet, and their lusty voices took up the strain; the
crowd behind, and the clergy on their horses, joined it; and from the
Deemster's coach two women's voices took it up, and higher, higher,
higher, like a lark, it floated up, until the soft boom and deep murmur
of the sea and the wild cry of the sea-birds were drowned in the broad
swell of the simple old sacred song.

The sun was sinking fast through a red haze toward the sea's verge, and
the tide was near the flood, when the service on the shore ended, and
the fishermen returned to their boats.

Billy Quilleash leaped aboard the new lugger, and his four men followed
him. "See all clear," he shouted to Davy Fayle; and Davy stood on the
quay with the duty of clearing the ropes from the blocks, and then
following in the dingey that lay moored to the wooden steps.

Dan had gone up to the Deemster's coach and helped Mona and the young
wife of Ewan to alight. He led them to the quay steps, and when the
company had gathered about, and all was made ready, he shouted to old
Billy to throw him the bottle that lay tied by the blue ribbon to the
tiller. Then he handed the bottle to Mona, who stood on the step, a few
feet above the water's edge.

Mona was looking very fresh and beautiful that day, with a delicious joy
and pride in her deep eyes. Dan was talking to her with an awkward sort
of consciousness, looking askance at his big brown hands when they came
in contact with her dainty white fingers, then glancing down at his
great clattering boots, and up into her soft, smooth face.

"What am I to christen her?" said Mona, with the bottle held up in her
hand.

"Mona," answered Dan, with a shamefaced look and one hand in his brown
hair.

"No, no," said she, "not that."

"Then what you like," said Dan.

"Well, the 'Ben-my-Chree,'" said Mona, and with that the bottle broke on
the boat's side.

In another instant Ewan was kissing his meek little wife, and bidding
her good-by, and Dan, in a fumbling way, was, for the first time in his
life, demurely shaking Mona's hand, and trying hard to look her in the
face.

"Tail on there," shouted Quilleash from the lugger. Then the two men
jumped aboard, Davy Fayle ran the ropes from the blocks, the admiral's
boat cleared away from the quay, and the admiral's flag was shot up to
the masthead. The other boats in the harbor followed one by one, and
soon the bay was full of the fleet.

As the "Ben-my-Chree" stood out to sea beyond the island-rock, Dan and
Ewan stood aft, Dan in his brown guernsey, Ewan in his black coat; Ewan
waving his handkerchief, and Dan his cap; old Billy was at the tiller,
Crennel, the cook, had his head just above the hatchways, and Davy was
clambering hand-over-hand up the rope by which the dingey was hauled to
the stern.

Then the herring fleet sailed away under the glow of the setting sun.



CHAPTER X

THE FIRST NIGHT WITH THE HERRINGS


The sun went down, and a smart breeze rose off the land as the
"Ben-my-Chree," with the fleet behind her, rounded Contrary Head, and
crossed the two streams that flow there. For an hour afterward there was
still light enough to see the coast-line curved into covelets and
promontories, and to look for miles over the hills with their moles of
gorse, and tussocks of lush grass. The twilight deepened as the fleet
rounded Niarbyl Point, and left the islet on their lee, with
Cronk-ny-Irey-Lhaa towering into the gloomy sky. When they sailed across
Fleshwick Bay the night gradually darkened, and nothing was seen of
Ennyn Mooar. But after an hour of darkness the heavens lightened again,
and glistened with stars, and when old Billy Quilleash brought his boat
head to the wind in six fathoms of water outside Port Erin, the moon had
risen behind Bradda, and the rugged headland showed clear against the
sky. One after another the boats and the fleet brought to about the
"Ben-my-Chree."

Dan asked old Billy if he had found the herrings on this ground at the
same time in former seasons.

"Not for seven years," said the old man.

"Then why try now?"

Billy stretched out his hand to where a flight of sea-gulls were dipping
and sailing in the moonlight. "See the gull there?" he said. "She's
skipper to-night; she's showing us the fish."

Davy Fayle had been leaning over the bow, rapping with a stick at the
timbers near the water's edge.

"Any signs?" shouted Billy Quilleash.

"Ay," said Davy, "the mar-fire's risin'."

The wind had dropped, and luminous patches of phosphorescent light in
the water were showing that the herrings were stirring.

"Let's make a shot; up with the gear," said Quilleash, and preparations
were made for shooting the nets over the quarter.

"Ned Teare, you see to the line. Crennel, look after the corks.
Davy--where's that lad?--look to the seizings, d'ye hear?"

Then the nets were hauled from below, and passed over a bank-board
placed between the hatchway and the top of the bulwark. Teare and
Crennel shot the gear, and as the seizings came up, Davy ran aft with
them, and made them fast to the warp near the taffrail.

When the nets were all paid out, every net in the drift being tied to
the next, and a solid wall of meshes nine feet deep had been swept away
along the sea for half a mile behind them, Quilleash shouted, "Down with
the sheets."

The ropes were hauled, the sails were taken in, the mainmast--which was
so made as to lower backward--was dropped, and only the drift-mizzen was
left, and that was to keep the boat head on to the wind.

"Up with the light there," said Quilleash.

At this word Davy Fayle popped his head out of the hatchways.

"Aw, to be sure, that lad's never ready. Get out of that, quick."

Davy jumped on deck, took a lantern, and fixed it to the top of the
mitch board. Then vessel and nets drifted together, and Dan and Ewan,
who had kept the deck until now, went below together.

It was now a calm, clear night, with just light enough to show two or
three of the buoys on the back of the net nearest to the boat, as they
floated under water. Old Billy had not mistaken his ground. Large white
patches came moving out of the surrounding pavement of deep black,
lightened only by the image of a star where the vanishing ripples left
the dark sea smooth. Once or twice countless faint popping sounds were
to be heard, and minute points of shooting silver were to be seen on the
water around. The herrings were at play, and shoals on shoals soon broke
the black sea into a glistening foam.

But no "strike" was made, and after an hour's time Dan popped his head
over the hatchways and asked the skipper to try the "look-on" net. The
warp was hauled in until the first net was reached. It came up as black
as coal, save for a single dogfish or two that had broken a mesh here
and there.

"Too much moon to-night," said Quilleash; "they see the nets, and 'cute
they are extraordinary."

But half an hour later the moon went out behind a thick ridge of cloud
that floated over the land; the sky became gray and leaden, and a rising
breeze ruffled the sea. Then hour after hour wore on, and not a fish
came to the look-on net. Toward one o'clock in the morning, the moon
broke out again. "There'll be a heavy strike now," said Quilleash, and
in another instant a luminous patch floated across the line of the nets,
sank, disappeared, and finally pulled three of the buoys down with them.

"Pull up now," shouted Quilleash, in another tone.

Then the nets were hauled. Davy, the boy, led the warp through a
snatch-block fixed to the mast-hole on to the capstan. Ned Teare
disconnected the nets from the warps, and Crennel and Corlett pulled the
nets over the gunwale. They came up silver-white in the moonlight, a
solid block of fish. Billy Quilleash and Dan passed them over the
scudding-pole and shook the herrings into the hold.

"Five maze at least," said Quilleash, with a chuckle of satisfaction.
"Try again." And once more the nets were shot. The other boats of the
fleet were signaled, by a blue light run up the drift-mizzen, that the
"Ben-my-Chree" had struck a scale of fish. In a few minutes more the
blue light was answered by other blue lights on every side, and these
reported that the fishery was everywhere faring well.

One, two, three o'clock came and went. The night was wearing on; the
moon went out once more, and in the darkness which preceded the dawn the
lanterns burning on the fleet of drifting boats gave out an eerie glow
across the waters that lay black and flat around. The gray light came at
length in the east, and the sun rose over the land. Then the nets were
hauled in for the last time and that night's fishing was done.

The mast was lifted, but before the boat was brought about the skipper
shouted, "Men, let us do as we're used of," and instantly the admiral's
flag was run up to the masthead, and at this sign the men dropped on one
knee, with their faces in their caps, and old Billy offered up a short
and simple prayer of thanks for the blessings of the sea.

When this was done every man leaped to his feet, and all was work,
bustle, shouting, singing out, and some lusty curses.

"Tumble up the sheets--bear a hand there--d---- the lad," bawled
Quilleash; "get out of the way, or I'll make you walk handsome over the
bricks."

In five minutes more the "Ben-my-Chree," with the herring fleet behind
her, was running home before a stiff breeze.

"Nine maze--not bad for the first night," said Dan to Ewan.

"Souse them well," said Quilleash, and Ned Teare sprinkled salt on the
herrings as they lay in the hold.

Crennel, the cook, better known as the "slushy," came up the hatchways
with a huge saucepan, which he filled with the fish. As he did so there
was a faint "cheep, cheep" from below--the herrings were still alive.

All hands went down for a smoke except Corlett, who stood at the tiller,
Davy, who counted for nobody and stretched himself out at the bow, and
Ewan. The young parson, who had been taking note of the lad during the
night, now seated himself on a coil of rope near where Davy lay. The
"cheep, cheep" was the only sound in the air except the plash of the
waters at the boat's bow, and with an inclination of the head in the
direction of the fish in the hold, Ewan said, "It seems cruel, Davy,
doesn't it?"

"Cruel? Well, pozzible, pozzible. Och, 'deed now, they've got their
feelings same as anybody else."

The parson had taken the lad's measure at a glance.

"You should see the shoals of them lying round the nets, watching the
others--their mothers and sisters, as you might say--who've got their
gills 'tangled. And when you haul the net up, away they go at a slant in
millions and millions, just the same as lightning going through the
water. Och, yes, yes, leave them alone for having their feelings."

"It does seem cruel, Davy, eh?"

Davy looked puzzled; he was reasoning out a grave problem.

"Well, sir, that's the mortal strange part of it. It does look cruel to
catch them, sarten sure; but then the herrings themselves catch the
sand-eels, and the cod catch the herring, and the porpoises and
grampuses catch the cod."

Ewan did his best to look astonished.

"Aw, that's the truth, sir. It's terrible, wonderful strange, but I
suppose it's all nathur. You see, sir, we do the same ourselves."

"How do you mean, Davy? We don't eat each other, I hope," said the young
parson.

"Och, don't we, though? Lave us alone for that."

Ewan tried to look appalled.

"Well, of coorse, not to say _ate_, not 'xactly _ate;_ but the biggest
chap allis rigs the rest; and the next biggest chap allis rigs a littler
one, you know, and the littlest chap, he gets rigged by everybody all
round, doesn't he, sir?"

Davy had got a grip of the knotty problem, but the lad's poor, simple
face looked sadly burdened, and he came back to his old word.

"Seems to me it must be all nathur, sir."

Ewan began to feel some touch of shame at playing with this simple,
earnest, big little heart. "So you think it all nature, Davy?" he said,
with a lump gathering in his throat.

"Well, well, I do, you know, sir; it does make a fellow fit to cry a
bit, somehow; but it must be nathur, sir."

And Davy took off his blue worsted cap and fumbled it and gave his
troubled young head a grave shake.

Then there was some general talk about Davy's early history. Davy's
father had been pressed into the army before Davy was born, and had
afterward been no more heard of; then his mother had died, and Billy
Quilleash, being his mother's elder brother, had brought him up. Davy
had always sailed as boy with Uncle Billy, he was sailing as boy then,
and that was to the end that Uncle Billy might draw his share, but the
young master (Mastha Dan) had spoken up for him, so he had, and he knew
middlin' well what that would come to. "'He's a tidy lump of a lad now,'
says Mastha Dan, 'and he's well used of the boats, too,' says he, 'and
if he does well this time,' he says, 'he must sail man for himself next
season.' Aw, yes, sir, that was what Mastha Dan said."

It was clear that Dan was the boy's hero. When Dan was mentioned that
lagging lip gave a yearning look to Davy's simple face. Dan's doubtful
exploits and his dubious triumphs all looked glorious in Davy's eyes.
Davy had watched Dan, and listened to him, and though Dan might know
nothing of his silent worship, every word that Dan had spoken to him had
been hoarded up in the lad's heart like treasure. Davy had the dog's
soul, and Dan was his master.

"Uncle Billy and him's same as brothers," said Davy; "and Uncle Billy's
uncommon proud of the young master, and middlin' jealous, too. Aw, well!
who's wondering at it?"

Just then Crennel, the cook, came up to say that breakfast was ready,
and Ewan and Davy went below, the young parson's hand resting on the
boy's shoulder. In the cabin Dan was sitting by the stove, laughing
immoderately. Ewan saw at a glance that Dan had been drinking, and he
forthwith elbowed his way to Dan's side and lifted a brandy bottle from
the stove-top into the locker, under pretense of finding a place for his
hat. Then all hands sat down to the table. There was a huge dish of
potatoes boiled in their jackets, and a similar dish of herrings. Every
man dipped into the dishes with his hands, lifted his herring on to his
plate, ran his fingers from tail to head, swept all the flesh off the
fresh fish, and threw the bare backbone into the crock that stood
behind.

"Keep a corner for the Meailley at the 'Three Legs,'" said Dan.

There was to be a herring breakfast that morning at the "Three Legs of
Man," to celebrate the opening of the fishing season.

"You'll come, Ewan, eh?"

The young parson shook his head.

Dan was in great spirits, to which the spirits he had imbibed
contributed a more than common share. Ewan saw the too familiar light of
dangerous mischief dancing in Dan's eyes, and made twenty attempts to
keep the conversation within ordinary bounds of seriousness. But Dan was
not to be restrained, and breaking away into the homespun--a sure
indication that the old Adam was having the upper hand--he forthwith
plunged into some chaff that was started by the mate, Ned Teare, at Davy
Fayle's expense.

"Aw, ye wouldn't think it's true, would ye, now?" said Ned, with a wink
at Dan and a "glime" at Davy.

"And what's that?" said Dan, with another "glime" at the lad.

"Why, that the like o' yander is tackin' round the gels."

"D'ye raely mane it?" said Dan, dropping his herring and lifting his
eyes.

Ewan coughed with some volume, and said, "There, there, Dan--there,
there."

"Yes, though, and sniffin' and snuffin' abaft of them astonishin'," Ned
Teare put it again.

"Aw, well, well, well," said Dan, turning up afresh the whites of his
eyes.

There was not a sign from Davy; he broke his potato more carefully, and
took both hands and both eyes to strip away its jacket.

"Yes, yes, the craythur's doing somethin' in the spooney line," said
Billy Quilleash; "him as hasn't the hayseed out of his hair yet."

"Aw, well," said Dan, pretending to come to Davy's relief, "it isn't
raisonable but the lad should be coortin' some gel now."

"What's that?" shouted Quilleash, dropping the banter rather suddenly.
"What, and not a farthing at him? And owin' me fortune for the bringin'
up."

"No matter, Billy," said Dan, "and don't ride a man down like a
main-tack. One of these fine mornings Davy will be payin' his debt to
you with the foretopsail."

Davy's eyes were held very low, but it was not hard to see that they
were beginning to fill.

"That will do, Dan, that will do," said Ewan. The young parson's face
had grown suddenly pale, but Dan saw nothing of that.

"And look at him there," said Dan, reaching round Ewan to prod Davy in
the ribs--"look at him there, pretendin' he never knows nothin'."

The big tears were near to toppling out of Davy's eyes. He could have
borne the chaff from any one but Dan.

"Dan," said Ewan, with a constrained quietness, "stop it; I can't stand
it much longer."

At that Davy got up from the table, leaving his unfinished breakfast,
and began to climb the hatchways.

"Aw, now, look at that," said Dan, with affected solemnity, and so
saying, and not heeding the change in Ewan's manner, Dan got up too and
followed Davy out, put an arm round the lad's waist, and tried to draw
him back. "Don't mind the loblolly-boys, Davy veg," he said, coaxingly.
Davy pushed him away with an angry word.

"What's that he's after saying?" asked Quilleash.

"Nothin'; he only cussed a bit," said Dan.

"Cussed, did he? He'd better show a leg if he don't want the rat's
tail."

Then Ewan rose from the table, and his eyes flashed and his pale face
quivered.

"I'll tell you what it is," he said in a tense, tremulous voice,
"there's not a man among you. You're a lot of skulking cowards."

At that he was making for the deck; but Dan, whose face, full of the
fire of the liquor he had taken, grew in one moment old and ugly, leaped
to his feet in a tempest of wrath, overturned his stool, and rushed at
Ewan with eyes aflame and uplifted hand, and suddenly, instantly, like a
flash, his fist fell, and Ewan rolled on the floor.

Then the men jumped up and crowded round in confusion. "The parzon! the
parzon! God preserve me, the parzon!"

There stood Dan, with a ghastly countenance, white and convulsed, and
there at his feet lay Ewan.

"God A'mighty! Mastha Dan, Mastha Dan," cried Davy. Before the men had
found time to breathe, Davy had leaped back from the deck to the
cockpit, and had lifted Ewan's head on to his knee.

Ewan drew a long breath and opened his eyes. He was bleeding from a gash
above the temple, having fallen among some refuse of iron chain. Davy,
still moaning piteously, "Oh, Mastha Dan, God A'mighty, Mastha Dan,"
took a white handkerchief from Ewan's breast, and bound it about his
head over the wound. The blood oozed through and stained the
handkerchief.

Ewan rose to his feet pale and trembling, and without looking at any
one, steadied himself by Davy's shoulder, and clambered weakly to the
deck. There he stumbled forward, sat down on the coil of rope that had
been his seat before, and buried his uncovered head in his breast.

The sun had now risen above Contrary, and the fair young morning light
danced over the rippling waters far and near. A fresh breeze blew from
the land, and the boats of the fleet around and about scudded on before
the wind like a flight of happy birds, with outspread wings.

The "Ben-my-Chree" was then rounding the head, and the smoke was
beginning to coil up in many a slender shaft above the chimneys of the
little town of Peel. But Ewan saw nothing of this; with head on his
breast, and his heart cold within him, he sat at the bow.

Down below, Dan was then doing his best to make himself believe that he
was unconcerned. He whistled a little, and sang a little, and laughed a
good deal; but the whistle lost its tune, and the song stopped short,
and the laugh was loud and empty. When he first saw Ewan lie where he
fell, all the fire of his evil passion seemed to die away, and for the
instant his heart seemed to choke him, and he was prompted to drop down
and lift Ewan to his feet; but at that moment his stubborn knees would
not bend, and at the next moment the angel of God troubled the waters of
his heart no more. Then the fisher-fellows overcame their amazement, and
began to crow, and to side with him, and to talk of his pluck, and what
not.

"The parzons--och, the parzons--they think they may ride a man down for
half a word inside his gills."

"'Cowards'--och, 'skulking cowards,' if you plaize--right sarved, say
I!"

Dan tramped about the cabin restlessly, and sometimes chuckled aloud and
asked himself what did he care, and then laughed noisily, and sat down
to smoke, and presently jumped up, threw the pipe into the open stove,
and took the brandy bottle out of the locker. Where was Ewan? What was
he doing? What was he looking like? Dan would rather have died than
humbled himself to ask; but would none of these grinning boobies tell
him? When Teare, the mate, came down from the deck and said that sarten
sure the young parzon was afther sayin' his prayers up forrard Dan's
eyes flashed again, and he had almost lifted his hand to fell the
sniggering waistrel. He drank half a tumbler of brandy, and protested
afresh, though none had yet disputed it, that he cared nothing, not he,
let them say what they liked to the contrary.

In fifteen minutes from the time of the quarrel the fleet was running
into harbor. Dan had leaped on deck just as the "Ben-my-Chree" touched
the two streams outside Contrary. He first looked forward, and saw Ewan
sitting on the cable in the bow with his eyes shut and his pallid face
sunk deep in his breast. Then a strange, wild light shot into Dan's
eyes, and he reeled aft and plucked the tiller from the hand of Corlett,
and set it hard aport, and drove the boat head on for the narrow neck of
water that flowed between the mainland and the island-rock on which the
old castle stood.

"Hould hard," shouted old Billy Quilleash, "there's not water enough for
the like o' that--you'll run her on the rocks."

Then Dan laughed wildly, and his voice rang among the coves and caves of
the coast.

"Here's for the harbor or--hell," he screamed, and then another wild
peal of his mad laughter rang in the air and echoed from the land.

"What's agate of the young mastha?" the men muttered one to another; and
with eyes of fear they stood stock-still on the deck and saw themselves
driven on toward the shoals of the little sound.

In two minutes more they breathed freely. The "Ben-my-Chree" had shot
like an arrow through the belt of water and was putting about in the
harbor.

Dan dropped the tiller, reeled along the deck, scarcely able to bear
himself erect, and stumbled under the hatchways. Old Billy brought up
the boat to its moorings.

"Come, lay down, d'ye hear? Where's that lad?"

Davy was standing by the young parson.

"You idiot waistrel, why d'ye stand prating there? I'll pay you, you
beachcomber."

The skipper was making for Davy, when Ewan got up, stepped toward him,
looked him hard in the face, seemed about to speak, checked himself, and
turned away.

Old Billy broke into a bitter little laugh, and said, "I'm right up and
down like a yard o' pump-water, that's what I am."

The boat was now at the quay-side, and Ewan leaped ashore. Without a
word or a look more, he walked away, the white handkerchief, clotted
with blood, still about his forehead, and his hat carried in his hand.

On the quay there were numbers of women with baskets waiting to buy the
fish. Teare, the mate, and Crennel, the cook, counted the herrings and
sold them. The rest of the crew stepped ashore.

Dan went away with the rest. His face was livid in the soft morning
sunlight. He was still keeping up his brave outside, while the madness
was growing every moment fiercer within. As he stumbled along the paved
way with an unsteady step his hollow laugh grated on the quiet air.



CHAPTER XI

THE HERRING BREAKFAST


It was between four o'clock and five when the fleet ran into Peeltown
harbor after the first night of the herring season, and toward eight the
fisher-fellows, to the number of fifty at least, had gathered for their
customary first breakfast in the kitchen of the "Three Legs of Man."
What sport! What noisy laughter! What singing and rollicking cheers! The
men stood neither on the order of their coming nor their going, their
sitting nor their standing. In they trooped in their woolen caps or
their broad sou'westers, their oilskins or their long sea-boots swung
across their arms. They wore their caps or not as pleased them, they
sang or talked as suited them, they laughed or sneezed, they sulked or
snarled, they were noisy or silent, precisely as the whim of the
individual prescribed the individual rule of manners. Rather later than
the rest Dan Mylrea came swinging in, with a loud laugh and a shout, and
something like an oath, too, and the broad homespun on his lips.

"Billy Quilleash--I say, Billy, there--why don't you put up the young
mastha for the chair?"

"Aw, lave me alone," answered Billy Quilleash, with a contemptuous toss
of the head.

"Uncle Billy's proud uncommon of the mastha," whispered Davy Fayle, who
sat meekly on a form near the door, to the man who sat cross-legged on
the form beside him.

"It's a bit free them chaps is making," said old Billy, in a
confidential undertone to Dan, who was stretching himself out on the
settle. Then rising to his feet with gravity, "Gen'l'men," said
Quilleash, "what d'ye say now to Mistha Dan'l Mylrea for the elber-cheer
yander?"

At that there was the response of loud raps on the table with the heels
of the long boots swung over various arms, and with several clay pipes
that lost their heads in the encounter. Old Billy resumed his seat with
a lofty glance of patronage at the men about him, which said as plainly
as words themselves, "I tould ye to lave it all to me."

"Proud, d'ye say? Look at him," muttered the fisherman sitting by Davy
Fayle.

Dan staggered up and shouldered his way to the elbow-chair at the head
of the table. He had no sooner taken his seat than he shouted for the
breakfast, and without more ado the breakfast was lifted direct on to
the table from the pans and boilers that simmered on the hearth.

First came the broth, well loaded with barley and cabbage; then suet
puddings; and last of all the frying-pan was taken down from the wall,
and four or five dozen of fresh herrings were made to grizzle and
crackle and sputter over the fire.

Dan ate ravenously, and laughed noisily, and talked incessantly as he
ate. The men at first caught the contagion of his boisterous manners,
but after a time they shook their tousled heads and laid them together
in gravity, and began to repeat in whispers, "What's agate of the young
mastha, at all, at all?"

Away went the dishes, away went the cloth, an oil-lamp with its open
mouth--a relic of some monkish sanctuary of the Middle Ages--was lifted
from the mantel-shelf and put on the table for the receipt of custom; a
brass censer, choked with spills, was placed beside it; pipes emerged
from waistcoat-pockets, and pots of liquor with glasses and bottles came
in from the outer bar.

"Is it heavy on the liquor you're going to be, Billy?" said Ned, the
mate; and old Billy replied with a superior smile and the lifting up of
a whisky bottle, from which he had just drawn the cork.

Then came the toasts. The chairman arose amid hip, hip, hooraa! and gave
"Life to man and death to fish!" and Quilleash gave "Death to the head
that never wore hair!"

Then came more noise and more liquor, and a good deal of both in the
vicinity of the chair. Dan struck up a song. He sang "Drink to Me Only,"
and the noisy company were at first hushed to silence and then melted to
audible sobs.

"Aw, man, the voice he has, anyway!"

"And the loud it is, and the tender, too, and the way he slidders up and
down, and no squeaks and jumps."

"No, no; nothin' like squeezin' a tune out of an ould sow by pulling the
tail at her."

Old Billy listened to this dialogue among the fisher-fellows about him,
and smiled loftily. "It's nothin'," he said, condescendingly--"that's
nothin'. You should hear him out in the boat, when we're lying at
anchor, and me and him together, and the stars just makin' a peep, and
the moon, and the mar-fire, and all to that, and me and him lying aft
and smookin', and having a glass maybe, but nothin' to do no
harm--that's the when you should hear him. Aw, man alive, him and me's
same as brothers."

"More liquor there," shouted Dan, climbing with difficulty to his feet.

"Ay, look here. D'ye hear, down yander? Give us a swipe o' them
speerits. Right. More liquor for the chair!" said Billy Quilleash. "And
for some one besides?--is that what they're saying, the loblolly-boys?
Well, look here, bad cess to it, of coorse, some for me, too. It's
terrible good for the narves, and they're telling me it's morthal good
for steddyin' the vi'ce. Going to sing? Coorse, coorse. What's that from
the elber-cheer? Enemy, eh? Confound it, and that's true, though. What's
that it's sayin'? 'Who's fool enough to put the enemy into his mouth to
stale away his brains?' Aw, now, it's the good ould Book that's fine at
summin' it all up."

Then there was more liquor and yet more, till the mouth of the monastic
lamp ran over with chinking coin. Old Billy struck up his song. It was a
doleful ditty on the loss of the herring fleet on one St. Matthew's Day
not long before.

        An hour before day,
        Tom Grimshaw, they say,
    To run for the port had resolved;
        Himself and John More
        Were lost in that hour,
    And also unfortunate Kinved.

The last three lines of each verse were repeated by the whole company in
chorus. Doleful as the ditty might be, the men gave it voice with a
heartiness that suggested no special sense of sorrow, and loud as were
the voices of the fisher-fellows, Dan's voice was yet louder.

"Aw, Dan, man, Dan, man alive, Dan," the men whispered among themselves.
"What's agate of Mastha Dan? it's more than's good, man, aw, yes, yes,
yes."

Still more liquor and yet more noise, and then, through the dense fumes
of tobacco-smoke, old Billy Quilleash could be seen struggling to his
feet. "Silence!" he shouted; "aisy there!" and he lifted up his glass.
"Here's to Mistha Dan'l Mylrea, and if he's not going among the parzons,
bad cess to them, he's going among the Kays, and when he gets to the big
house at Castletown, I'm calkerlatin' it'll be all up with the lot o'
them parzons, with their tithes and their censures, and their customs
and their canons, and their regalashuns agen the countin' of the
herrin', and all the rest of their messin'. What d'ye say, men?
'Skulking cowards?' Coorse, and right sarved, too, as I say. And what's
that you're grinning and winkin' at, Ned Teare? It's middlin' free
you're gettin' with the mastha anyhow, and if it wasn't for me he
wouldn't bemane himself by comin' among the like of you, singin' and
makin' aisy. Chaps, fill up your glasses every man of you, d'ye hear?
Here's to the best gen'l'man in the island, bar none--Mistha Dan'l
Mylrea, hip, hip, hooraa!"

The toast was responded to with alacrity, and loud shouts of "Dan'l
Mylrea--best gen'l'man--bar none."

But what was going on at the head of the table? Dan had risen from the
elbow-chair; it was the moment for him to respond, but he stared wildly
around, and stood there in silence, and his tongue seemed to cleave to
his mouth. Every eye was now fixed on his face, and that face quivered
and turned white. The glass he had held in his hand fell from his
nerveless fingers and broke on the table. Laughter died on every lip,
and the voices were hushed. At last Dan spoke; his words came slowly,
and fell heavily on the ear.

"Men," he said, "you have been drinking my health. You call me a good
fellow. That's wrong. I'm the worst man among you. Old Billy says I'm
going to the House of Keys. That's wrong, too. Shall I tell you where I
am going? Shall I tell you? I'm going to the devil," and then, amid
breathless silence, he dropped back in his seat and buried his head in
his hands.

No one spoke. The fair head lay on the table among broken pipes and the
refuse of spilled liquor. There could be no more drinking that morning.
Every man rose to his feet, and picking up his waterproofs or his long
sea-boots, one after one went shambling out. The room was dense with
smoke; but outside the air was light and free, and the morning sun shone
brightly.

"Strange now, wasn't it?" muttered one of the fellows.

"Strange uncommon!"

"He's been middlin' heavy on the liquor lately."

"And he'd never no right to strike the young parzon, and him his cousin,
too, and terrible fond of him, as they're saying."

"Well, well, it's middlin' wicked anyway."

And so the croakers went their way. In two minutes more the room was
empty, except for the stricken man, who lay there with hidden face, and
Davy Fayle, who, with big tears glistening in his eyes, was stroking the
tangled curls.



CHAPTER XII

DAN'S PENANCE


Dan rose to his feet a sobered man, and went out of the smoky pot-house
without a word to any one, and without lifting his bleared and bloodshot
eyes unto any face. He took the lane to the shore, and behind him, with
downcast eyes, like a dog at the heels of his master, Davy Fayle
slouched along. When they reached the shore Dan turned toward Orris
Head, walking within a yard or two of the water's edge. Striding over
the sands, the past of his childhood came back to him with a sense of
pain. He saw himself flying along the beach with Ewan and Mona, shouting
at the gull, mocking the cormorant, clambering up the rocks to where the
long-necked bird laid her spotted eggs, and the sea-pink grew under the
fresh grass of the corries. Under the head Dan sat on a rock and lifted
away his hat from his burning forehead; but not a breath of wind stirred
his soft hair.

Dan rose again with a new resolve. He knew now what course he must take.
He would go to the Deemster, confess to the outrage of which he had been
guilty, and submit to the just punishment of the law. With quick steps
he strode back over the beach, and Davy followed him until he turned up
to the gates of the new Ballamona, and then the lad rambled away under
the foot of Slieu Dhoo. Dan found the Deemster's house in a tumult.
Hommy-beg was rushing here and there, and Dan called to him, but he
waved his arm and shouted something in reply, whereof the purport was
lost, and then disappeared. Blind Kerry was there, and when Dan spoke to
her as she went up the stairs, he could gather nothing from her hurried
answer except that some one was morthal bad, as the saying was, and in
another moment she, too, had gone. Dan stood in the hall with a sense of
impending disaster. What had happened? A dread idea struck him at that
moment like a blow on the brain. The sweat started from his forehead. He
could bear the uncertainty no longer, and had set foot on the stairs to
follow the blind woman, when there was the sound of a light step
descending. In another moment he stood face to face with Mona. She
colored deeply, and his head fell before her.

"Is it Ewan?" he said, and his voice came like a hoarse whisper.

"No, his wife," said Mona.

It turned out that not long after daybreak that morning the young wife
of Ewan, who had slept with Mona, had awakened with a start, and the
sensation of having received a heavy blow on the forehead. She had
roused Mona, and told her what seemed to have occurred. They had looked
about and seen nothing that could have fallen. They had risen from bed
and examined the room, and had found everything as it had been when they
lay down. The door was shut and there was no hood above the bed. But
Mona had drawn up the window blind, and then she had seen, clearly
marked on the white forehead of Ewan's young wife, a little above the
temple, on the spot where she had seemed to feel the blow, a streak of
pale color such as might have been made by the scratch of a thorn that
had not torn the skin. It had been a perplexing difficulty, and the
girls had gone back to bed, and talked of it in whispers until they had
fallen asleep in each other's arms. When they had awakened again, the
Deemster was rapping at their door to say that he had taken an early
breakfast, that he was going off to hold his court at Ramsey, and
expected to be back at midday. Then half-timidly, Mona had told her
father of their strange experience, but he had bantered them on their
folly, and they had still heard his laughter when he had leaped to the
saddle in front of the house, and was cantering away over the gravel.
Reassured by the Deemster's unbelief, the girls had thrown off their
vague misgivings, and given way to good spirits. Ewan's young wife had
said that all morning she had dreamed of her husband, and that her
dreams had been bright and happy. They had gone down to breakfast, but
scarcely had they been seated at the table before they had heard the
click of the gate from the road.

Then they had risen together, and Ewan had come up the path with a white
bandage about his head, and with a streak of blood above the temple.
With a sharp cry, Ewan's young wife had fallen to the ground insensible,
and when Ewan himself had come into the house they had carried her back
to bed. There she was at that moment, and from a peculiar delicacy of
her health at the time, there was but too much reason to fear that the
shock might have serious results.

All this Mona told to Dan from where she stood, three steps up the
stairs, and he listened with his head held low, one hand gripping the
stair-rail, and his foot pawing the mat at the bottom. When she
finished, there was a pause, and then there came from overhead a long,
deep moan of pain.

Dan lifted his face; its sudden pallor was startling. "Mona," he said,
in a voice that was husky in his throat, "do you know who struck Ewan
that blow?"

There was silence for a moment and then, half in a whisper, half with a
sob, Mona answered that she knew. It had not been from Ewan himself, but
by one of the many tongues of scandal, that the news had come to
Ballamona.

Dan railed at himself in bitter words, and called God to witness that he
had been a curse to himself and every one about him. Mona let the
torrent of his self-reproach spend itself, and then she said:

"Dan, you must be reconciled to Ewan."

"Not yet," he answered.

"Yes, yes, I'm sure he would forgive you," said Mona, and she turned
about as if in the act of going back to seek for Ewan.

Dan grasped her hand firmly. "No," he said, "don't heap coals of fire on
my head, Mona; don't, don't." And after a moment, with a calmer manner,
"I must see the Deemster first."

Hardly had this been spoken when they heard a horse's hoofs on the
gravel path, and the Deemster's voice calling to Hommy-beg as he threw
the reins over the post near the door and entered the house. The
Deemster was in unusual spirits, and slapped Dan on the back and laughed
as he went into his room. Dan followed him, and Mona crept nervously to
the open door. With head held down, Dan told what had occurred. The
Deemster listened and laughed, asked further particulars and laughed
again, threw off his riding boots and leggings, looked knowingly from
under his shaggy brows, and then laughed once more.

"And what d'ye say you want me to do for you, Danny veg?" he asked, with
one side of his wrinkled face twisted awry.

"To punish me, sir," said Dan.

At that the Deemster, who was buckling his slippers, threw himself back
in his chair, and sent a shrill peal of mocking laughter through the
house.

Dan was unmoved. His countenance did not bend as he said slowly, and in
a low tone, "If you don't do it, sir, I shall never look into Ewan's
face again."

The Deemster fixed his buckles, rose to his feet, slapped Dan on the
back, and said: "Go home, man veen, go home," and then hurried away to
the kitchen, where in another moment his testy voice could be heard
directing Hommy-beg to put up the saddle on the "lath."

Mona looked into Dan's face. "Will you be reconciled to Ewan now?" she
said, and took both his hands and held them.

"No," he answered firmly, "I will see the Bishop." His eyes were
dilated; his face, that had hitherto been very mournful to see, was
alive with a strange fire. Mona held his hands with a passionate grasp.

"Dan," she said, with a great tenderness, "this is very, very noble of
you; this is like our Dan, this--"

She stopped; she trembled and glowed; her eyes were close to his.

"Don't look at me like that," he said.

She dropped his hands, and at the next instant he was gone from the
house.

Dan found the Bishop at Bishop's Court, and told him all. The Bishop had
heard the story already, but he said nothing of that. He knew when Dan
hid his provocation and painted his offense at its blackest. With a
grave face he listened while Dan accused himself, and his heart heaved
within him.

"It is a serious offense," he said; "to strike a minister is a grievous
offense, and the Church provides a censure."

Dan held his face very low, and clasped his hands in front of him.

"The censure is that on the next Sabbath morning following, in the
presence of the congregation, you shall walk up the aisle of the parish
church from the porch to the communion behind the minister, who shall
read the 51st Psalm meantime."

The Bishop's deep tones and quiet manner concealed his strong emotion,
and Dan went out without another word.

This was Friday, and on the evening of the same day Ewan heard what had
passed between Dan and the Deemster and between Dan and the Bishop, and
with a great lump in his throat he went across to Bishop's Court to pray
that the censure might be taken off.

"The provocation was mine, and he is penitent," said Ewan; and with
heaving breast the Bishop heard him out, and then shook his head.

"The censures of the Church were never meant to pass by the house of the
Bishop," he said.

"But he is too deeply abased already," said Ewan.

"The offense was committed in public, and before the eyes of all men the
expiation must be made."

"But I, too, am ashamed--think of it, and remove the censure," said
Ewan, and his voice trembled and broke.

The Bishop gazed out at the window with blurred eyes that saw nothing.
"Ewan," he said, "it is God's hand on the lad. Let it be; let it be."

Next day the Bishop sent his sumner round the parish, asking that every
house might send one at least to the parish church next morning.

On Sunday Ewan's young wife kept her bed; but when Ewan left her for the
church the shock of her nerves seemed in a measure to have passed away.
There was still, however, one great disaster to fear, and Mona remained
at the bedside.

The meaning of the sumner's summons had eked out, and long before the
hour of service the parish church was crowded. The riff-raff that never
came to church from year's end to year's end, except to celebrate the
Oiel Verree, were there with eager eyes. While Willas-Thorn tolled the
bell from the rope suspended in the porch, there was a low buzz of
gossip, but when the bell ceased its hoarse clangor, and Will-as-Thorn
appeared with his pitch-pipe in the front of the gallery, there could be
heard, in the silence that followed over the crowded church, the loud
tick of the wooden clock in front of him.

Presently from the porch there came a low, tremulous voice reading the
Psalm that begins, "Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness:
according to the multitude of Thy mercies do away mine offenses."

Then the people who sat in front turned about, and those who sat at the
side strained across, and those who sat above craned forward.

Ewan was walking slowly up the aisle in his surplice, with his pale face
and scarred forehead bent low over the book in his hand, and close
behind him, towering above him in his great stature, with head held
down, but with a steadfast gaze, his hat in his hands, his step firm and
resolute, Dan Mylrea strode along.

There was a dead hush over the congregation.

"Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness, and cleanse me from my sin. For
I acknowledge my faults; and my sin is ever before me."

The tremulous voice rose and fell, and nothing else broke the silence
except the uncertain step of the reader, and the strong tread of the
penitent behind him.

"Against Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight--"

At this the tremulous voice deepened, and stopped, and went on and
stopped again, and when the words came once more they came in a deep,
low sob, and the reader's head fell into his breast.

Not until the Psalm came to an end, and Ewan and Dan had reached the
communion, and the vicar had begun the morning prayer, and Will-as-Thorn
had sent out a blast from his pitch-pipe, was the hard tension of that
moment broken.

When the morning service ended, the Deemster rose from his pew and
hurried down the aisle. As usual, he was the first to leave the church.
The ghostly smile with which he had witnessed the penance that had
brought tears to the eyes of others was still on the Deemster's lip, and
a chuckle was in his throat when at the gate of the churchyard he met
Hommy-beg, whose face was livid from a long run, and who stood for an
instant panting for breath.

"Well, well, well?" said the Deemster, sending the words like small shot
into Hommy-beg's deaf ear.

"Terrible, terrible, terrible," said Hommy-beg, and he lifted his hands.

"What is it? What? What?"

"The young woman-body is dead in child-bed."

Then the ghostly smile fled from the Deemster's face.



CHAPTER XIII

HOW EWAN MOURNED FOR HIS WIFE


What passed at the new Ballamona on that morning of Dan's penance was
very pitiful. There, in the death-chamber already darkened, lay Ewan's
young wife, her eyes lightly closed, her girlish features composed, and
a faint tinge of color in her cheeks. Her breast was half open, and her
beautiful head lay in a pillow of her soft brown hair. One round arm was
stretched over the counterpane, and the delicate fingers were curved
inward until the thumb-nail, like an acorn, rested on the inner rim of a
ring. Quiet, peaceful, very sweet and tender, she lay there like one who
slept. After a short, sharp pang she had died gently, without a
struggle, almost without a sigh, merely closing her eyes as one who was
weary, and drawing a long, deep breath. In dying she had given premature
birth to a child, a girl, and the infant was alive, and was taken from
the mother at the moment of death.

When the Deemster entered the room, with a face of great pallor and eyes
of fear, Mona was standing by the bed-head gazing down, but seeing
nothing. The Deemster felt the pulse of the arm over the counterpane
with fingers that trembled visibly. Then he shot away from the room, and
was no more seen that day. The vicar, the child-wife's father, came with
panting breath and stood by the bedside for a moment, and then turned
aside in silence. Ewan came, too, and behind him Dan walked to the door
and there stopped, and let Ewan enter the chamber of his great sorrow
alone. Not a word was said until Ewan went down on his knees by the side
of his wife, and put his arms about her, and kissed her lips, still
warm, with his own far colder lips, and called to her softly by her
name, as though she slept gently, and must not be awakened too harshly,
and drew her to his breast, and called again, in a tenderer tone that
brushed the upturned face like a caress:

"Aileen! Aileen! Aileen!"

Mona covered her eyes in her hands, and Dan, where he stood at the door,
turned his head away.

"Aileen! Ailee! Ailee! My Ailee!"

The voice went like a whisper and a kiss into the deaf ear, and only one
other sound was heard, and that was the faint cry of an infant from the
room below.

Ewan raised his head and seemed to listen; he paused and looked at the
faint color in the quiet cheeks; he put his hand lightly on the heart,
and looked long at the breast that did not heave. Then he drew his arms
very slowly away, and rose to his feet.

For a moment he stood as one dazed, like a man whose brain is benumbed,
and, with the vacant light still in his eyes, he touched Mona on the arm
and drew her hand from her eyes, and he said, as one who tells you
something that you could not think, "She is dead!"

Mona looked up into his face, and at sight of it the tears rained down
her own. Dan had stepped into the room noiselessly, and came behind
Ewan, and when Ewan felt his presence, he turned to Dan with the same
vacant look, and repeated in the same empty tone, "She is dead!"

And never a tear came into Ewan's eyes to soften their look of dull
torpor; never again did he stretch out his arms to the silent form
beneath him; only with dazed, dry eyes, he looked down, and said once
more, "She is dead!"

Dan could bear up no longer; his heart was choking, and he went out
without a word.

It was the dread silence of feeling that was frozen, but the thaw came
in its time. They laid out the body of the young wife in the darkened
room, and Ewan went away and rambled over the house all day long, and
when night fell in, and the lighted candles were set in the
death-chamber, and all in Ballamona were going off to bed, Ewan was
still rambling aimlessly from room to room. He was very quiet, and he
spoke little and did not weep at all. In the middle of that night the
Deemster opened his bedroom door and listened, and Ewan's step was still
passing from room to room, and Mona heard the same restless footfall in
every break of her fitful sleep. But later on, in the dark hour that
comes before day, the Deemster opened his door and listened again, and
then all was quiet in the house. "He has gone to bed at last," thought
the Deemster; but in the early morning, as he passed by Ewan's room, he
found the door open, and saw that the bed had not been slept in.

The second day went by like the first, and the next night like the
former one, and again in the dead of night the Deemster opened his door
and heard Ewan's step. Once more, in the dark hour that goes before the
day, he opened his door and listened again, and all was quiet as before.
"Surely he is in bed now," thought the Deemster. He was turning back
into his own room, when he felt a sudden impulse to go to Ewan's room
first and see if it was as he supposed. He went, and the door was open
and Ewan was not there, and again the bed had not been slept in.

The Deemster crept back on tiptoe, and a gruesome feeling took hold of
him. He could not lie, and no sleep had come near his wakeful eyes, so
he waited and listened for that unquiet beat of restless feet, but the
sound did not come. Then, as the day was breaking over the top of Slieu
Dhoo, and all the Curraghs around lay veiled in mist, and far away to
the west a deep line stretched across where the dark sea lay with the
lightening sky above it, the Deemster opened his door yet again, and
went along the corridor steadily until he came to the door of the room
where the body was. "Perhaps he is sitting with her," he thought, with
awe, and he turned the handle. But when the door swung open the Deemster
paused; a faint sound broke the silence; it was a soft and measured
breathing from within. Quivering with dread, the Deemster stepped into
the death-chamber, and his head turned rigidly toward the bed. There, in
the gloom of the dawn that came over the light of the last candle that
flickered in its socket, Ewan lay outstretched by the side of the white,
upturned face of his dead wife, and his hand lay on her hand, and he was
in a deep sleep.

To the Deemster it was as if a spirit had passed before his face, and
the hair of his flesh stood up.

They buried Ewan's young wife side by side with his mother, under the
elder-tree (now thick with clusters of the green berry) by the wall of
the churchyard that stood over by the sea. The morning was fine, but the
sun shone dimly through a crust of hot air that gathered and slumbered
and caked above. Ewan passed through all without a word, or a sigh, or a
tear. But when the company returned to the Deemster's house, and Mona
spoke to Ewan and he answered her without any show of feeling, and Dan
told him of his own remorse and accused himself of every disaster, and
still Ewan gave no sign, but went in and out among them all with the
vacant light in his eyes, then the Bishop whispered to Mona, and she
went out and presently came again, and in her arms was the infant in its
white linen clothes.

The sun was now hidden by the heavy cloud overhead, and against the
window-panes at that moment there was a light pattering of rain-drops.
Ewan had watched with his vacant gaze when Mona went out, but when she
came again a new light seemed to come into his eyes, and he stepped up
to her and looked down at the little face that was sleeping softly
against her breast. Then he put out his arms to take the child, and Mona
passed it to him, and he held it, and sat down with it, and all at once
the tears came into his dry eyes and he wept aloud.



CHAPTER XIV

WRESTLING WITH FATE


So far as concerned the Deemster, the death of Ewan's wife was the
beginning of the end. Had she not died under the roof of the new
Ballamona? Was it not by the strangest of accidents that she had died
there, and not in her own home? Had she not died in child-bed? Did not
everything attending her death suggest the force of an irresistible
fate? More than twenty years ago the woman Kerruish, the mother of Mally
Kerruish, had cursed this house, and said that no life would come to it
but death would come with it.

And for more than twenty years the Deemster had done his best to laugh
at the prediction and to forget it. Who was he that he should be the
victim of fear at the sneezing of an old woman? What was he that he
should not be master of his fate? But what had occurred? For more than
twenty years one disturbing and distinct idea had engrossed him. In all
his waking hours it exasperated him, and even in his hours of sleep it
lay heavy at the back of his brain as a dull feeling of dread. On the
bench, in the saddle, at table, alone by the winter's fire, alone in
summer walks, the obstinate idea was always there. And nothing but death
seemed likely to shake it off.

Often he laughed at it in his long, lingering, nervous laugh; but it was
a chain that was slowly tightening about him. Everything was being
fulfilled. First came the death of his wife at the birth of Mona, and
now, after an interval of twenty years, the death of his son's wife at
the birth of her child. In that stretch of time he had become in his own
view a childless man; his hopes had been thwarted in the son on whom
alone his hopes had been built; the house he had founded was but an
echoing vault; the fortune he had reared an empty bubble. He was
accursed; God had heard the woman's voice; he looked too steadily at the
facts to mistake them, and let the incredulous fools laugh if they
liked.

When, twenty years before, the Deemster realized that he was the slave
of one tyrannical idea, he tried to break the fate that hung over him.
He bought up the cottage on the Brew, and turned the woman Kerruish into
the roads. Then he put his foot on every sign of superstitious belief
that came in his way as judge.

But not with such brave shows of unbelief could he conquer his one
disturbing idea. His nature had never been kindly, but now there grew
upon him an obstinate hatred of everybody. This was in the days when his
children, Ewan and Mona, lived in the cozy nest at Bishop's Court. If in
these days any man mentioned the Kerruishes in the Deemster's presence,
he showed irritation, but he kept his ears open for every syllable said
about them. He knew all their history; he knew when the girl Mally fled
away from the island on the day of Ewan's christening; he knew by what
boat she sailed; he knew where she settled herself in England; he knew
when her child was born, and when, in terror at the unfulfilled censure
of the Church that hung over her (separating her from all communion with
God's people in life or hope of redemption in death), she came back to
the island, drawn by an irresistible idea, her child at her breast, to
work out her penance on the scene of her shame.

Thereafter he watched her daily, and knew her life. She had been taken
back to work at the net-looms of Kinvig, the Peeltown net-maker, and she
lived with her mother at the cottage over the Head, and there in poverty
she brought up her child, her boy, Jarvis Kerruish, as she had called
him. If any pointed at her and laughed with cruelty; if any pretended to
sympathize with her and said, with a snigger, "The first error is always
forgiven, Mally woman"; if any mentioned the Deemster himself, and said,
with a wink, "I'm thinking it terrible strange, Mally, that you don't
take a slue round and put a sight on him"; if any said to her when she
bought a new garment out of her scant earnings, a gown, or even a scarf
or bit of bright ribbon such as she loved in the old days, "Dearee dear!
I thought you wouldn't take rest, but be up and put a sight on the ould
crooky"--the Deemster knew it all. He saw the ruddy, audacious girl of
twenty sink into the pallid slattern of thirty, without hope, without
joy in life, and with only a single tie.

And the Deemster found that there grew upon him daily his old malicious
feeling; but so far as concerned his outer bearing, matters took a turn
on the day he came upon the boys, Dan Mylrea and Jarvis Kerruish,
fighting in the road. It was the first time he had seen the boy Jarvis.
"Who is he?" he had asked, and the old woman Kerruish had made answer,
"Don't you know him, Deemster? Do you never see a face like that? Not
when you look in the glass?"

There was no need to look twice into a mirror like the face of that lad
to know whose son he was.

The Deemster went home to Ballamona, and thought over the fierce
encounter. He could tolerate no longer the living reproach of this boy's
presence within a few miles of his own house, and, by an impulse no
better than humbled pride, he went back to the cottage of the Kerruishes
at night, alone, and afoot. The cottage was a lone place on the top of a
bare heath, with the bleak sea in front, and the purple hills behind,
and with a fenceless cart-track leading up to it. A lead mine, known as
the Cross Vein, had been worked there forty years before. The shaft was
still open, and now full of dark, foul water almost to the surface. One
roofless wall showed where the gear had stood, and under the shelter of
this wall there crouched a low thatched tool-shed, having a door and a
small window. This was the cottage; and until old Mrs. Kerruish had
brought there her few rickety sticks when, by the Deemster's orders,
they had been thrown into the road, none had ever occupied the tool-shed
as a house.

The door was open, and the Deemster stepped in. One of the women, old
Mrs. Kerruish, was sitting on a stool by the fire--it was a fire of
sputtering hazel sticks--shredding some scraps of green vegetables into
a pot of broth that swung from the iron hook of the chimney. The other
woman, Mally, was doing something in the dark crib of a sleeping-room,
shut off from the living-room by a wooden partition like the
stanchion-board of a stable. The boy was asleep; his soft breathing came
from the dark crib.

"Mrs. Kerruish," said the Deemster, "I am willing to take the lad, and
rear him, and when the time comes, to set him to business, and give him
a start in life."

Mrs. Kerruish had risen stiffly from her stool, and her face was set
hard.

"Think of it, woman, think of it, and don't answer in haste," said the
Deemster.

"We'd have to be despard hard put to for a bite and a sup before we'd
take anything from you, Deemster," said the old woman.

The Deemster's quick eyes, under the shaggy gray brows, glanced about
the room. It was a place of poverty, descending to squalor. The floor
was of the bare earth trodden hard, the roof was of the bare thatch,
with here and there a lath pushed between the uphewn spars to keep it
up, and here and there a broken patch dropping hayseed.

"You are desperate hard put to, woman," said the Deemster, and at that
Mally herself came out of the sleeping-crib. Her face was thin and pale,
and her bleared eyes had lost their sharp light; it was a countenance
without one ray of hope.

"Stop, mother," she said; "let us hear what the Deemster has to offer."

"Offer? Offer?" the old woman rapped out; "you've had enough of the
Deemster's offers, I'm thinking."

"Be quiet, mother," said Mally, and then she turned to the Deemster and
said, "Well, sir, and what is it?"

"Aw, very nate and amazing civil to dirks like that--go on, girl, go
on," said the old woman, tossing her head and hand in anger toward
Mally.

"Mother, this is my concern, I'm thinking--what is it, sir?"

But the old woman's wrath at her daughter's patience was not to be kept
down. "Behold ye!" she said, "it's my own girl that's after telling me
before strangers that I've not a farthing at me, and me good for nothing
at working, and only fit to hobble about on a stick, and fix the house
tidy maybe, and to have no say in nothing--go on, och, go on, girl."

The Deemster explained his proposal. It was that the boy Jarvis should
be given entirely into his control, and be no more known by his mother
and his mother's mother, and perhaps no more seen or claimed or
acknowledged by them, and that the Deemster should provide for him and
see him started in life.

Mrs. Kerruish's impatience knew no bounds. "My gough!" she cried--"my
gough, my gough!" But Mally listened and reflected. Her spirit was
broken, and she was thinking of her poverty. Her mother was now laid
aside by rheumatism, and could earn nothing, and she herself worked
piecework at the net-making--so much for a piece of net, a hundred yards
long by two hundred meshes deep, toiling without heart from eight to
eight, and earning four, five, and six shillings a week. And if there
was a want, her boy felt it. She did not answer at once, and after a
moment the Deemster turned to the door. "Think of it," he said; "think
of it."

"Hurroo! hurroo!" cried the old woman, derisively, from her stool, her
untamable soul aflame with indignation.

"Be quiet, mother," said Mally, and the hopelessness that had spoken
from her eyes seemed then to find a way into her voice.

The end of it was that Jarvis Kerruish was sent to a school at
Liverpool, and remained there three years, and then became a clerk in
the counting-house of Benas Brothers, of the Goree Piazza, ostensibly
African merchants, really English money-lenders. Jarvis did not fret at
the loss of his mother, and of course he never wrote to her; but he
addressed a careful letter to the Deemster twice a year, beginning
"Honored Sir," and ending "Yours, with much respect, most obediently."

Mally had miscalculated her self-command. If she had thought of her
poverty, it had been because she had thought of her boy as well. He
would be lifted above it all if she could but bring herself to part with
him. She wrought up her feelings to the sacrifice, and gave away her
son, and sat down as a broken-spirited and childless woman. Then she
realized the price she had to pay. The boy had been the cause of her
shame; but he had been the centre of her pride as well. If she had been
a hopeless woman before, she was now a heartless one. Little by little
she fell into habits of idleness and intemperance. Before young Jarvis
sat in his frilled shirt on the stool in the Goree Piazza, and before
the down had begun to show on his lean cheeks, his mother was a lost and
abandoned woman.

But not yet had the Deemster broken his fate. When Ewan disappointed his
hopes and went into the Church, and married without his sanction or
knowledge, it seemed to him that the chain was gradually tightening
about him. Then the Deemster went over once more to the cottage at the
Cross Vein, alone, and in the night.

"Mrs. Kerruish," he said, "I am willing to allow you six pounds a year
pension, and I will pay it in three pound notes on Lady Day and
Martinmas," and putting his first payment on the table he turned about
and was gone before the rheumatic old body could twist in her chair.

The Deemster had just made his third visit to the cottage at the Cross
Vein, and left his second payment, when the death of Ewan's young wife
came as a thunderbolt and startled him to the soul. For days and nights
thereafter he went about like a beaten horse, trembling to the very
bone. He had resisted the truth for twenty years; he had laughed at it
in his long lingering laugh at going to bed at night and at rising in
the morning; he had ridiculed superstition in others, and punished it
when he could; he was the judge of the island, and she through whose
mouth his fate fell upon him was a miserable ruin cast aside on life's
highway; but the truth would be resisted no longer: the house over his
head was accursed--accursed to him, and to his children, and to his
children's children.

The Deemster's engrossing idea became a dominating terror. Was there no
way left to him to break the fate that hung over him? None? The Deemster
revolved the problem night and day, and meantime lived the life of the
damned. At length he hit on a plan, and then peace seemed to come to
him, a poor paltering show of peace, and he went about no longer like a
beaten and broken horse. His project was a strange one; it was the last
that prudence would have suggested, but the first that the evil spirit
of his destiny could have hoped for--it was to send to Liverpool for
Jarvis Kerruish, and establish him in Ballamona as his son.

In that project the hand of his fate was strongly upon him; he could not
resist it; he seemed to yield himself to its power; he made himself its
willing victim; he was even as Saul when the Spirit of the Lord had gone
from him and an evil spirit troubled him, sending for the anointed son
of Jesse to play on the harp to him and to supplant him on the throne.



CHAPTER XV

THE LIE THAT EWAN TOLD


It was not for long that Dan bore the signs of contrition. As soon as
Ewan's pale face had lost the weight of its gloom, Dan's curly poll knew
no more trouble. He followed the herrings all through that season, grew
brown with the sun and the briny air, and caught the sea's laughter in
his rollicking voice. He drifted into some bad habits from which he had
hitherto held himself in check. Every morning when the boats ran into
harbor, and Teare, the mate, and Crennel, the cook, stayed behind to
sell the fish, Dan and old Billy Quilleash trooped up to the "Three Legs
of Man" together. There Dan was made much of, and the lad's spirit was
not proof against the poor flattery. It was Mastha Dan here, and Mastha
Dan there, and Where is Mastha Dan? and What does Mastha Dan say? and
great shoutings, and tearings, and sprees; and all the time the old cat
with the whiskers who kept the pot-house was scoring up against Dan at
the back of the cupboard door.

Did the Bishop know? Know? Did ever a young fellow go to the dogs but
some old woman of either sex found her way to the very ear that ought
not to be tormented with Job's comfort, and whisper, "Aw, dear! aw,
dear!" and "Lawk-a-day!" and "I'm the last to bring bad newses, as the
saying is," and "Och, and it's a pity, and him a fine, brave young
fellow too!" and "I wouldn't have told it on no account to another
living soul!"

The Bishop said little, and tried not to hear; but when Dan would have
hoodwinked him, he saw through the device as the sun sees through glass.
Dan never left his father's presence without a sense of shame that was
harder to bear than any reproach would have been. Something patient and
trustful, and strong in hope, and stronger in love, seemed to go out
from the Bishop's silence to Dan's reticence. Dan would slink off with
the bearing of a whipped hound, or perhaps, with a muttered curse under
his teeth, and always with a stern resolve to pitch himself or his
cronies straightway into the sea. The tragical purpose usually lasted
him over the short mile and a half that divided Bishop's Court from the
"Three Legs of Man," and then it went down with some other troubles and
a long pint of Manx jough.

Of all men, the most prompt to keep the Bishop informed of Dan's sad
pranks was no other than the Deemster. Since the death of Ewan's wife
the Deemster's feelings toward Dan had undergone a complete change. From
that time forward he looked on Dan with eyes of distrust, amounting in
its intensity to hatred. He forbade him his house, though Dan laughed at
the prohibition and ignored it. He also went across to Bishop's Court
for the first time for ten years, and poured into the Bishop's ears the
story of every bad bit of business in which Dan got involved. Dan kept
him fully employed in this regard, and Bishop's Court saw the Deemster
at frequent intervals.

If it was degrading to the Bishop's place as father of the Church that
his son should consort with all the "ragabash" of the island, the scum
of the land, and the dirtiest froth of the sea, the Bishop was made to
know the full bitterness of that degradation. He would listen with head
held down, and when the Deemster, passing from remonstrance to reproach,
would call upon him to set his own house in order before he ever
ascended the pulpit again, the Bishop would lift his great heavy eyes
with an agonizing look of appeal, and answer in a voice like a sob,
"Have patience, Thorkell--have patience with the lad; he is my son, my
only son."

It chanced that toward the end of the herring season an old man of
eighty, one William Callow, died, and he was the captain of the parish
of Michael. The captaincy was a semi-civil, semi-military office, and it
included the functions of parish head-constable. Callow had been a a man
of extreme probity, and his walk in life had been without a slip.

"The ould man's left no living craythur to fill his shoes," the people
said when they buried him, but when the name of the old man's successor
came down from Castletown, who should be the new captain but Daniel
Mylrea? The people were amazed, the Deemster laughed in his throat, and
Dan himself looked appalled.

Hardly a month after this event, the relations of Dan and the Deemster,
and Dan and the Bishop, reached a climax.

For months past the Bishop had been hatching a scheme for the
sub-division of his episcopal glebe, the large extent of which had long
been a burden on the dwindling energies of his advancing age; and he had
determined that, since his son was not to be a minister of the Church,
he should be its tenant, and farm its lands. So he cut off from the
demesne a farm of eighty acres of fine Curragh land, well drained and
tilled. This would be a stay and a solid source of livelihood to Dan
when the herring fishing had ceased to be a pastime. There was no
farmhouse on the eighty acres, but barns and stables were to be erected,
and Dan was to share with Ewan the old Ballamona as a home.

Dan witnessed these preparations, but entered into them with only a
moderate enthusiasm. The reason of his lukewarmness was that he found
himself deeply involved in debts whereof his father knew nothing. When
the fishing season finished and the calculations were made, it was found
that the boat had earned no more than £240. Of this, old Billy Quilleash
took four shares, every man took two shares, there was a share set aside
for Davy, the boy, and the owner was entitled to eight shares for
himself, his nets, and his boat. So far, all was reasonably
satisfactory. The difficulty and dissatisfaction arose when Dan began to
count the treasury. Then it was discovered that there was not enough in
hand to pay old Billy and his men and the boy, leaving Dan's eight
shares out of the count Dan scratched his head and pondered. He was not
brilliant at figures, but he totted up his numbers again with the same
result. Then he computed the provisioning--tea, at four shillings a
pound, besides fresh meat four times a week, and fine flour biscuits. It
was heavy, but not ruinous, and the season had been poor, but not bad,
and whatever the net results, there ought not to have been a deficit
where the principle of cooperation between master and man was that of
share and share.

Dan began to see his way through the mystery--it was most painfully
transparent in the light of the score that had been chalked up from time
to time on the inside of the cupboard of the "Three Legs of Man." But it
was easier to see where the money had gone than to make it up, and old
Billy and his chums began to mutter and to grumble.

"It's raely wuss till ever," said one.

"The tack we've been on hasn't been worth workin'," said another.

Dan heard their murmurs, and went up to Bishop's Court. After all, the
deficit was only forty pounds, and his father would lend him that much.
But hardly had Dan sat down to breakfast than the Bishop, who was
clearly in lower spirits than usual, began to lament that his charities
to the poor had been interrupted by the cost of building the barns and
stables on the farm intended for his son.

"I hope your fishing will turn out well, Dan," he said, "for I've scarce
a pound in hand to start you."

So Dan said nothing about the debt, and went back to the fisher-fellows
with a face as long as a haddock's. "I'll tell you, men, the storm is
coming," he said.

Old Billy looked as black as thunder, and answered with an impatient
gesture, "Then keep your weather eye liftin', that's all."

Dan measured the old salt from head to foot, and hitched his hand into
his guernsey. "You wouldn't talk to me like that, Billy Quilleash, if I
hadn't been a fool with you. It's a true saying, that when you tell your
servant your secret you make him your master."

Old Billy sniggered, and his men snorted. Billy wanted to know why he
had left Kinvig's boat, where he had a sure thirty pounds for his
season; and Ned Teare wished to be told what his missus would say when
he took her five pound ten; and Crennel, the slushy, asked what sort of
a season the mastha was aftha callin' it, at all, at all.

Not a man of them remembered his share of the long scores chalked up on
the inside of the cupboard door.

"Poor old dad," thought Dan, "he must find the money after all--no way
but that," and once again he turned toward Bishop's Court.

Billy Quilleash saw him going off, and followed him. "I've somethin'
terrible fine up here," said Billy, tapping his forehead mysteriously.

"What is it?" Dan asked.

"Och, a shockin' powerful schame. It'll get you out of the shoal water
anyways," said Billy.

It turned out that the "shockin' powerful schame" was the ancient device
of borrowing the money from a money-lender. Old Billy knew the very man
to serve the turn. His name was Kisseck, and he kept the "Jolly
Herrings" in Peeltown, near the bottom of the crabbed little
thoroughfare that wound and twisted and descended to that part of the
quay which overlooked the castle rock.

"No, no; that'll not do," said Dan.

"Aw, and why not at all?"

"Why not? Why not? Because it's blank robbery to borrow what you can't
pay back."

"Robbery? Now, what's the use of sayin' the like o' that? Aw, the
shockin' notions! Well, well, and do you raely think a person's got no
feelin's? Robbery? Aw, well now, well now."

And old Billy tramped along with the air of an injured man.

But the end of it was that Dan said nothing to the Bishop that day, and
the same night found him at the "Jolly Herrings." The landlord had
nothing to lend, not he, but he knew people who would not mind parting
with money on good security, or on anybody's bail, as the sayin' was.
Couldn't Mastha Dan get a good man's name to a bit o' paper, like?
Coorse he could, and nothing easier, for a gen'l'man same as him. Who
was the people? They belonged to Liverpool, the Goree Peaizy--Benas they
were callin' them.

Three days afterward the forty pounds, made up to fifty for round
numbers, came to Kisseck, the landlord, and the bit o' paper came with
it. Dan took the paper and went off with it to the old Ballamona. Ewan
would go bail for him, and so the Bishop need know nothing of the
muddle. But when Dan reached his new home Ewan was away--a poor old
Quaker named Christian, who had brought himself to beggary by neglecting
Solomon's injunction against suretyship, was dying, and had sent for the
parson.

Dan was in a hurry; the fisher-fellows were grumbling, and their wives
were hanging close about their coat-tails; the money must be got without
delay, and of course Ewan would sign for it straight-away if he were
there. An idea struck Dan, and made the sweat to start from his
forehead. He had put the paper on the table and taken up a pen, when he
heard Ewan's voice outside, and then he threw the pen down and his heart
leaped with a sense of relief.

Ewan came in, and rattled on about old Christian, the Quaker. He hadn't
a week to live, poor old soul, and he hadn't a shilling left in the
world. Once he farmed his hundred acres, but he had stood surety for
this man and surety for that man, and paid up the defalcations of both,
and now, while they were eating the bread of luxury, he was dying as a
homeless pauper.

"Well, he has been practising a bad virtue," said Ewan. "I wouldn't
stand surety for my own brother--not for my own brother if I had one. It
would be helping him to eat to-day the bread he earns to-morrow."

Dan went out without saying anything of the bit of paper from Liverpool.
The fisher-fellows met him, and when they heard what he had to say their
grumblings broke out again.

"Well, I'm off for the Bishop--and no disrespec'," said old Billy.

He did not go; the bit o' paper was signed, but not by Ewan; the money
was paid; the grateful sea-dogs were sent home with their wages in their
pockets and a smart cuff on either ear.

A month or two went by, and Dan grew quiet and thoughtful, and sometimes
gloomy, and people began to say, "It's none so wild the young mastha is
at all, at all," or perhaps, "Wonderful studdy he's growing," or even,
"I wouldn't trust but he'll turn out a parson after all." One day in
November Dan went over to new Ballamona and asked for Mona, and sat with
her in earnest talk. He told her of some impending disaster, and she
listened with a whitening face.

From that day forward Mona was a changed woman. She seemed to share some
great burden of fear with Dan, and it lay heavy upon her, and made the
way of life very long and cheerless to the sweet and silent girl.

Toward the beginning of December, sundry letters came out of their
season from the young clerk of Benas Brothers, Jarvis Kerruish. Then the
Deemster went over more than once to Bishop's Court, and had grave
interviews with the Bishop.

"If you can prove this that you say, Thorkell, I shall turn my back on
him forever--yes, forever," said the Bishop, and his voice was husky and
his sad face was seamed with lines of pain.

A few days passed and a stranger appeared at Ballamona, and when the
stranger had gone the Deemster said to Mona, "Be ready to go to Bishop's
Court with me in the morning."

Mona's breath seemed to be suddenly arrested. "Will Ewan be there?" she
asked.

"Yes--isn't it the day of his week-day service at the
chapel--Wednesday--isn't it?"

"And Dan?" she said.

"Dan? Why Dan? Well, woman, perhaps Dan too--who knows?"

The Bishop had sent across to the old Ballamona to say that he wished to
see his son in the library after service on the following morning.

At twelve next day, Dan, who had been plowing, turned in at Bishop's
Court in his long boots and rough red shirt, and there in the library he
found Mona and the Deemster seated. Mona did not speak when Dan spoke to
her. Her voice seemed to fail; but the Deemster answered in a jaunty
word or two; and then the Bishop, looking very thoughtful, came in with
Ewan, whose eyes were brighter than they had been for many a day, and
behind them walked the stranger whom Mona had seen at Ballamona the day
before.

"Why, and how's this?" said Ewan, on perceiving that so many of them
were gathered there.

The Bishop closed the door, and then answered, with averted face, "We
have a painful interview before us, Ewan--be seated."

It was a dark day; the clouds hung low, and the dull rumble of the sea
came through the dead air. A fire of logs and peat burned on the hearth,
and the Deemster rose and stood with his back to it, his hands
interlaced behind him. The Bishop sat on his brass-clamped chair at the
table, and rested his pale cheek on his hand. There was a pause, and
then without lifting his eyes the Bishop said, "Ewan, do you know that
it is contrary to the customs of the Church for a minister to stand
security for a debtor?"

Ewan was standing by the table, fumbling the covers of a book that he
had lifted. "I know it," he said, quietly.

"Do you know that the minister who disregards that custom stands liable
to suspension at the hands of his Bishop?"

Ewan looked about with a stare of bewilderment, but he answered again,
and as quietly, "I know it."

There was silence for a moment, and then the Deemster, clearing his
throat noisily, turned to where Dan was pawing up a rug that lay under a
column and bust of Bunyan.

"And do you know, sir," said the Deemster, in his shrill tones, "what
the punishment of forgery may be?"

Dan's face had undergone some changes during the last few minutes, but
when he lifted it to the Deemster's, it was as firm as a rock.

"Hanging, perhaps," he answered, sullenly; "transportation, perhaps.
What of it? Out with it--be quick."

Dan's eyes flashed; the Deemster tittered audibly; the Bishop looked up
at his son from under the rims of his spectacles and drew a long breath.
Mona had covered her face in her hands where she sat in silence by the
ingle, and Ewan, still fumbling the book in his nervous fingers, was
glancing from Dan to the Deemster, and from the Bishop to Dan, with a
look of blank amazement.

The Deemster motioned to the stranger, who thereupon advanced from where
he had stood by the door, and stepped up to Ewan.

"May I ask if this document was drawn by your authority?" and saying
this the stranger held out a paper, and Ewan took it in his listless
fingers.

There was a moment's silence. Ewan glanced down at the document. It
showed that fifty pounds had been lent to Daniel Mylrea, by Benas
Brothers, of the Goree Piazza, Liverpool, and it was signed by Ewan's
own name as that of surety.

"Is that your signature?" asked the stranger.

Ewan glanced at Dan, and Dan's head was on his breast and his lips
quivered. The Bishop was trembling visibly, and sat with head bent low
by the sorrow of a wrecked and shattered hope.

The stranger looked from Ewan to Dan, and from Dan to the Bishop. The
Deemster gazed steadily before him, and his face wore a ghostly smile.

"Is it your signature?" repeated the stranger, and his words fell on the
silence like the clank of a chain.

Ewan saw it all now. He glanced again at the document, but his eyes were
dim, and he could read nothing. Then he lifted his face, and its lines
of agony told of a terrible struggle.

"Yes," he answered, "the signature _is_ mine--what of it?"

At that the Bishop and Mona raised their eyes together. The stranger
looked incredulous.

"It is quite right if you say so," the stranger replied, with a cold
smile.

Ewan trembled in every limb. "I do say so," he said.

His fingers crumpled the document as he spoke, but his head was erect,
and the truth seemed to sit on his lips. Dan dropped heavily into a
chair and buried his face in his hands.

The stranger smiled again the same cold smile. "The lenders wish to
withdraw the loan," he said.

"They may do so--in a month," said Ewan.

"That will suffice."

The Deemster's face twitched; Mona's cheeks were wet with tears; the
Bishop had risen and gone to the window, and was gazing out through
blurred eyes into the blinding rain that was now pelting against the
glass.

"It would be cruel to prolong a painful interview," said the stranger;
and then, with a glance toward Dan where he sat convulsed with distress
that he made no effort to conceal, he added, in a hard tone:

"Only the lenders came to have reasons to fear that perhaps the document
had been drawn without your knowledge."

Ewan handed the paper back with a nerveless hand. He looked at the
stranger through swimming eyes and said gently, but with an awful inward
effort, "You have my answer, sir--I knew of it."

The stranger bowed and went out. Dan leaped to his feet and threw his
arms about Ewan's neck, but dared not to look into his troubled face.
Mona covered her eyes and sobbed.

The Deemster picked up his hat to go, and in passing out he paused in
front of Ewan and said, in a bitter whisper:

"Fool! fool! You have taken this man's part to your own confusion."

When the door closed behind the Deemster the Bishop turned from the
window. "Ewan," he said, in a voice like a cry, "the Recording Angel has
set down the lie you have told to-day in the Book of Life to your credit
in heaven."

Then the Bishop paused, and Dan lifted his head from Ewan's neck.

"As for you, sir," the Bishop added, turning to his son, "I am done with
you forever--go from me--let me see your face no more."

Dan went out of the room with bended head.



CHAPTER XVI

THE PLOWING MATCH


When Ewan got back home there was Dan sitting before the fire in the old
hall, his legs stretched out before him, his hands thrust deep in his
pockets, his head low in his breast, and his whole mien indicative of a
crushed and broken spirit. He glanced up furtively as Ewan entered, and
then back with a stony stare to the fire. If Ewan had then given him one
word of cheer, God knows what tragic consequences would have been spared
to them both. But Ewan had saved Dan from the penalty of his crime at
the cost of truth and his self-esteem.

"Dan," he said, "you and I must part--we can be friends no longer."

He spoke with a strong effort, and the words seemed to choke him. Dan
shambled to his feet; he appeared to collect his thoughts for a moment,
like one who had fainted and returns to consciousness.

"Mind--I don't turn you out of the house," said Ewan, "only if we are to
share this place together we must be strangers."

A hard smile broke out on Dan's face. He seemed to be trying to speak,
but not a word would come. He twisted slowly on his heel, and lifted the
latch of the door that led to the inner part of the house.

"One thing more," said Ewan, speaking quickly, and in a tremulous voice,
"I will ask you to look upon yourself as a stranger to my sister also."

Dan stopped and turned about. Over the forced smile his hard face told
of a great struggle for self-command. He said nothing, and after a
moment he went out, drawing his breath audibly.

Then straightway Ewan flung himself into the chair from which Dan had
risen, and his slight frame shook with suppressed sobs. After some
minutes the sense of his own degradation diminished, and left room for a
just idea of Dan's abject humiliation. "I have gone too far," he
thought; "I will make amends." He had risen to follow Dan, when another
thought trod heavily on the heels of the first. "Leave him alone, it
will be best for himself--leave him alone, for his own sake." And so,
with the madness of wrath fermenting in his own brain, he left it to
ferment in Dan's brain as well.

Now, when Dan found himself left alone he tried to carry off his
humiliation by a brave show of unconcern. He stayed on at the old
Ballamona, but he never bothered himself--not he, forsooth--to talk to
folks who passed him on the stairs without a word of greeting, or met in
the hall without a glance of recognition.

It chanced just then that, in view of a threatened invasion, the
authorities were getting up a corps of volunteers, known as the Manx
Fencibles, and that they called on the captains of the parishes to
establish companies. Dan threw himself into this enterprise with
uncommon vigor, took drills himself, acquired a competent knowledge of
the rudiments in a twinkling, and forthwith set himself to band together
the young fellows of his parish. It was just the sort of activity that
Dan wanted at the moment, and in following it up the "Three Legs" saw
him something oftener than before, and there the fellows of the baser
sort drank and laughed with him, addressing him sometimes as captain,
but oftener as Dan, never troubling themselves a ha'p'orth to put a
handle to his name.

This was a turn of events which Ewan could not understand. "I have been
mistaken in the man," he thought; "there's no heart left in him."

Toward the middle of December Jarvis Kerruish arrived at Ballamona, and
forthwith established himself there in a position that would have been
proper to the Deemster's heir. He was a young man of medium height and
size, closely resembling the Deemster in face and figure. His dress was
English: he wore a close-fitting undercoat with tails, and over it a
loose cloak mounted with a brass buckle at the throat; he had a beaver
hat of the shape of a sugar-loaf; and boots that fitted to his legs like
gloves. His manner was expansive, and he betrayed a complete
unconsciousness of the sinister bar of his birth, and of the false
position he had taken up in the Deemster's house. He showed no desire to
visit the cottage at the Cross Vein; and he spoke of the poor with
condescension. When he met with Ewan he displayed no uneasiness, and
Ewan on his part gave no sign of resentment. Mona, on the other hand,
betrayed an instinctive repulsion, and in less than a week from his
coming their relations had reached an extraordinary crisis, which
involved Ewan and Dan and herself in terrible consequences. This is what
occurred:

On the day before Christmas Day there was to be a plowing match in a
meadow over the Head, and Ewan stood pledged by an old promise to act as
judge. The day came, and it was a heavy day, with snow-clouds hanging
overhead, and misty vapors floating down from the hills and up from the
Curraghs, and hiding them. At ten in the morning Mona muffled herself in
a great cloak, and went over to the meadow with Ewan. There a crowd had
already gathered, strong men in blue pilots, old men in sheepskin coats,
women with their short blue camblet gowns tucked over their linen caps,
boys and girls on every side, all coming and going like shadows in the
mist. At one end of the meadow several pairs of horses stood yoked to
plows, and a few lads were in charge of them. On Ewan's arrival there
was a general movement among a group of men standing together, and a
respectful salutation to the parson. The names were called over of the
plowmen who had entered for the prize--a pound note and a cup--and last
of all, there was a show of hands for the election of six men to form a
jury.

Then the stretch was staked out. The prize was to the plowman who would
make the stretch up and down the meadow in the shortest time, cutting
the furrows straightest, cleanest, and of the most regular depth.

When all was ready, Ewan took up his station where the first furrow
would be cut into the field, with Mona at his side, and the six jurors
about him. The first plowman to bring up his plow was a brawny young
fellow with a tanned face. The plowman had brought up his horses in
front of the stake, and had laid hands on his plow-handles, and was
measuring the stretch with his eye for a landmark to sight by, when
Jarvis Kerruish came into the meadow, and walked through the crowd, and
took up a place by Mona's side. There were audible comments, and some
racy exclamations as he pushed through the crowd, not lifting an eye to
any face; but he showed complete indifference, and began to talk to Mona
in a loud, measured tone.

"Ah! this is very gratifying," he was saying, "to see the peasantry
engaged in manly sports--useful sports--is, I confess, very gratifying
to me."

"My gough!" said a voice from one side.

"Hurroo!" said a voice from the other side.

"Lawk-a-day!" came from behind, in a shrill female treble. "Did ye ever
see a grub turn butterfly?"

Jarvis seemed not to hear. "Now there _are_ sports--" he began; but the
plowman was shouting to his horses, "Steady, steady," the plow was
dipping into the succulent grass, the first swish of the upturned soil
was in the air, and Jarvis's wise words were lost.

All eyes were on the bent back of the plowman plodding on in the mist.
"He cuts like a razor," said one of the spectators. "He bears his hand
too much on," said another. "Do better yourself next spell," said a
third.

When the horses reached the far end of the stretch the plowman whipped
them round like the turn of a wheel, and in another moment he was
toiling back, steadily, firmly, his hand rigid, and his face set hard.
When he got back to where Ewan, with his watch in his hand, stood
surrounded by the jurors, he was covered with sweat. "Good, very
good--six minutes ten seconds," said Ewan, and there were some plaudits
from the people looking on, and some banter of the competitors who came
up to follow.

Jarvis Kerruish, at Mona's elbow, was beginning again, "I confess that
it has always been my personal opinion--" but in the bustle of another
pair of horses whipped up to the stake no one seemed to be aware that he
was speaking.

Five plowmen came in succession, but all were behind the first in time
and cut a less regular furrow. So Ewan and the jurors announced that the
prize was to the stranger. Then as Ewan twisted about, his adjudication
finished, to where Mona stood with Jarvis by her side, there was a
general rush of competitors and spectators to a corner of the meadow,
where, from a little square cart, the buirdly stranger who was victor
proceeded to serve out glasses of ale from a small barrel.

While this was going on, and there was some laughter and shouting and
singing, there came a loud "Hello," as of many voices from a little
distance, and then the beat of many irregular feet, and one of the lads
in the crowd, who had jumped to the top of the broad turf hedge,
shouted, "It's the capt'n--it's Mastha Dan."

In another half-minute, Dan and some fifty or sixty of the scum of the
parish came tumbling into the meadow on all sides--over the hedge, over
the gate, and tearing through the gaps in the gorse. They were the corps
that Dan had banded together toward the Manx Fencibles, but the only
regimentals they yet wore were a leather belt, and the only implement of
war they yet carried was the small dagger that was fitted into the belt.
That morning they had been drilling, and after drill they had set off to
see the plowing match, and on the way they had passed the "Three Legs,"
and being exceeding dry, they had drawn up in front thereof, and every
man had been served with a glass, which had been duly scored off to the
captain's account.

Dan saw Mona with Ewan as he vaulted the gate, but he gave no sign of
recognition, and in a moment he was in the thick of the throng at the
side of the cart, hearing all about the match, and making loud comments
upon it in his broadest homespun.

"What!" he said, "and you've let yourselves be bate by a craythur like
that. Hurroo!"

He strode up to the stranger's furrow, cocked his eye along it, and then
glanced at the stranger's horses.

"Och, I'll go bail I'll bate it with a yoke of oxen."

At that there was a movement of the crowd around him, and some cheering,
just to egg on the rupture that was imminent.

The big stranger heard all, and strode through the people with a face
like a thunder-cloud.

"Who says he'll bate it with a yoke of oxen?" he asked.

"That's just what I'm afther saying, my fine fellow. Have you anything
agen it?"

In half a minute a wager had been laid of a pound a side that Dan, with
a pair of oxen, would beat the stranger with a pair of horses in two
stretches out of three.

"Davy! Davy!" shouted Dan, and in a twinkling there was Davy Fayle,
looking queer enough in his guernsey, and his long boots, and his
sea-cap, and withal his belt and his dagger. Davy was sent for a pair of
oxen to where they were leading manure, not far away. He went off like a
shot, and in ten minutes he was back in the meadow, driving the oxen
before him.

Now, these oxen had been a gift of the Bishop to Dan. They were old, and
had grown wise with their years. For fifteen years they had worked on
the glebe at Bishop's Court, and they knew the dinner hour as well as if
they could have taken the altitude of the sun. When the dinner bell rang
at the Court at twelve o'clock, the oxen would stop short, no matter
where they were or what they were doing, and not another budge would
they make until they had been unyoked and led off for their midday mash.

It was now only a few minutes short of twelve, but no one took note of
that circumstance, and the oxen were yoked to a plow.

"Same judge and jury," said the stranger, but Ewan excused himself.

"Aw, what matter about a judge," said Dan, from his plow-handles; "let
the jury be judge as well."

Ewan and Mona looked on in silence for some moments. Ewan could scarce
contain himself. There was Dan, stripped to his red flannel shirt, his
face tanned and glowing, his whole body radiant with fresh life and
health, and he was shouting and laughing as if there had never been a
shadow to darken his days.

"Look at him," whispered Ewan, with emotion, in Mona's ear. "Look! this
good-nature that seems so good to others is almost enough to make me
hate him."

Mona was startled, and turned to glance into Ewan's face.

"Come, let us go," said Ewan, with head aside.

"Not yet," said Mona.

Then Jarvis Kerruish, who had stepped aside for a moment, returned and
said:

"Will you take a wager with me, Mona--a pair of gloves?"

"Very well," she answered.

"Who do you bet on?"

"Oh, on the stranger," said Mona, coloring slightly, and laughing a
little.

"How lucky," said Jarvis, "I bet on the captain."

"I can stand it no longer," whispered Ewan, "will you come?" But Mona's
eyes were riveted on the group about the oxen. She did not hear, and
Ewan turned away, and walked out of the meadow.

Then there was a shout, and the oxen started with Dan behind them. On
they went through the hard, tough ground, tranquilly, steadily, with
measured pace, tearing through roots of trees that lay in their way as
if nothing could stop them in their great strength.

When the oxen got back after the first stretch the time was called--five
minutes thirty seconds--and there was a great cheer, and Mona's pale
face was triumphant.

The stranger brought up his horses, and set off again, straining every
muscle. He did his stretch in six minutes four seconds, and another
cheer--but it was a cheer for Dan--went up after the figures were
called.

Then Dan whipped round his oxen once more, and brought them up to the
stake. The excitement among the people was now very great. Mona clutched
her cloak convulsively, and held her breath. Jarvis was watching her
closely, and she knew that his cold eyes were on her face.

"One would almost imagine that you were anxious to lose your bet," he
said. She made no answer. When the oxen started again her lips closed
tightly, as if she was in pain.

On the oxen went, and made the first half of the stretch without a
hitch, and, with the blade of the plow lifted, they were wheeling over
the furrow end, when a bell rang across the Curragh--it was the bell for
the midday meal at Bishop's Court--and instantly they came to a dead
stand. Dan called to them, but they did not budge; then his whip fell
heavily across their snouts, and they snorted, but stirred not an inch.
The people were in a tumult, and shouted with fifty voices at once.
Dan's passion mastered him. He brought his whip down over the flanks and
across the eyes and noses of the oxen; they winced under the blows that
rained down on them, and then shot away across the meadow, tearing up
the furrows they had made.

Then there was a cry of vexation and anger from the people, and Dan, who
had let go his reins, strode back to the stake. "I've lost," said Dan,
with a muttered oath at the oxen.

All this time Jarvis Kerruish had kept his eye steadily fixed on Mona's
twitching face. "You've won, Mona," he said, in a cold voice and with an
icy smile.

"I must go. Where is Ewan?" she said, tremulously, and before Jarvis was
aware she had gone over the grass.

Dan had heard when Ewan declined to act as judge, he had seen when Ewan
left the meadow, and, though he did not look, he knew when Mona was no
longer there. His face was set hard, and it glowed red under his
sunburned skin.

"Davy, bring them up," he said; and Davy Fayle led back the oxen to the
front of the stake.

Then Dan unyoked them, took out the long swinging tree that divided
them--a heavy wooden bar clamped with iron--and they stood free and
began to nibble the grass under their feet.

"Look out!" he shouted, and he swung the bar over his shoulder.

The crowd receded and left an open space in which Dan stood alone with
the oxen, his great limbs holding the ground like their own hoofs, his
muscles standing out like bulbs on his bare arms.

"What is he going to do--kill them?" said one.

"Look out!" Dan shouted again, and in another moment there was the swish
of the bar through the air. Then down the bar came on the forehead of
one of the oxen, and it reeled, and its legs gave way, and it fell dead.

The bar was raised again, and again it fell, and the second of the oxen
reeled like the first and fell dead beside its old yoke-fellow.

A cry of horror ran through the crowd, but heeding it not at all, Dan
threw on his coat and buckled his belt about him, and strode through the
people and out at the gate.



CHAPTER XVII

THE WRONG WAY WITH DAN


What happened next was one of those tragedies of bewildering motive, so
common and so fatal, in which it is impossible to decide whether evil
passion or evil circumstances plays the chief malicious part.

Dan walked straight to the new Ballamona, and pushed through the house
without ceremony, as it had been his habit to do in other days, to the
room where Mona was to be found. She was there, and she looked startled
at his coming.

"Is it you, Dan?" she said, in a tremulous whisper.

He answered sullenly:

"It is I. I have come to speak with you. I have something to say--but no
matter--"

He stopped and threw himself into a chair. His head ached, his eyes were
hot, and his mind seemed to him to be in darkness and confusion.

"Mona, I think I must be going mad," he stammered after a moment.

"Why talk like that?" she said. Her bosom heaved and her face was
troubled.

He did not answer, but after a pause turned toward her, and said in a
quick, harsh tone, "You did not expect to see me here, and you have been
forbidden to receive me. Is it not so?"

She colored deeply, and did not answer at once, and then she began, with
hesitation:

"My father--it is true, my father--"

"It _is_ so," he said sharply. He got on to his feet and tramped about
the room. After a moment he sat down again, and leaned his elbows on his
knees and his head in his hands.

"But what of Ewan?" he asked.

"Ewan loves you, Dan, and you have been at fault," said Mona, in broken
accents.

"At fault?"

There was a sudden change in his manner. He spoke bruskly, even
mockingly, and laughed a short, grating laugh.

"They are taking the wrong way with me, Mona--that's the fact," he said,
and now his breast heaved and the words came with difficulty.

Mona was gazing absently out at the window, her head aslant, her fingers
interlaced before her. "Oh, Dan, Dan," she murmured in a low tone,
"there is your dear, dear father, and Ewan, and--and myself--"

Dan had leapt to his feet again. "Don't turn my eyes into my head,
Mona," he said.

He tramped to and fro in the room for a moment and then broke out
nervously, "All last night I dreamt such an ugly dream. I dreamt it
three times, and, O God! what an ugly dream it was! It was a bad night,
and I was walking in the dark, and stumbling first into bogs and then in
cart ruts, when all of a sudden a man's hand seized me unawares. I could
not see the man, and we struggled long in the darkness, and it seemed as
if he would master me. He gripped me by the waist, and I held him by the
shoulders. We reeled and fell together, and when I would have risen his
knee was on my chest. But a great flood of strength seemed to come to me
and I threw him off, and rose to my feet and closed with him again, and
at last I was over him, covering him, with his back across my thigh and
my hand set hard in his throat. And all this time I heard his loud
breathing in the darkness, but never once the sound of his voice. Then
instantly, as if by a flash of lightning, I saw the face that was close
to mine, and--God Almighty! it was my own face--my own--and it was black
already from the pressure of my stiff fingers at the throat."

He trembled as he spoke, and sat again and shivered, and a cold chill
ran down his back.

"Mona," he said, half in a sob, "do you believe in omens?"

She did not reply. Her breast heaved visibly, and she could not speak.

"Tush!" he said, in another voice, "omens!" and he laughed bitterly, and
rose again and picked up his hat, and then said, in a quieter way,
"Only, as I say, they're taking the wrong way with me, Mona."

He had opened the door, and she had turned her swimming eyes toward him.

"It was bad enough to make himself a stranger to me, but why did he want
to make you a stranger, too? Stranger, stranger!" He echoed the word in
a mocking accent, and threw back his head.

"Dan," said Mona, in a low, passionate tone, and the blinding tears
rained down her cheeks, "nothing and nobody can make us strangers, you
and me--not my father, or your dear father, or Ewan, or"--she dropped
her voice to a deep whisper--"or any misfortune or any disgrace."

"Mona!" he cried, and took a step toward her, and stretched out one arm
with a yearning gesture.

But at the next moment he had swung about, and was going out at the
door. At sight of all that tenderness and loyalty in Mona's face his
conscience smote him as it had never smitten him before.

"Ewan was right, Mona. He is the noblest man on God's earth, and I am
the foulest beast on it."

He was pulling the door behind him when he encountered Jarvis Kerruish
in the hall. That gentleman had just come into the house, and was
passing through the hall in hat and cloak. He looked appalled at seeing
Dan there, and stepped aside to let him go by; but Dan did not so much
as recognize his presence by lifting his head as he strode out at the
porch.

With head still bent, Dan had reached the gate to the road and pushed
through it, and sent it back with a swing and a click, when the Deemster
walked up to it, and half halted, and would have stopped. But Dan went
moodily on, and the frown on the Deemster's wizened face was lost on
him. He did not take the lane toward the old Ballamona, but followed the
turnpike that led past Bishop's Court, and as he went by the large house
behind the trees Ewan came through the smaller gate, and turned toward
the new Ballamona. They did not speak, or even glance at each other's
faces.

Dan went on until he came to the parish church. There was singing
within, and he stopped. He remembered that this was Christmas Eve. The
choir was practising the psalms for the morrow's services.

"Before I was troubled, I went wrong; but now have I kept Thy word."

Dan went up to the church porch, and stood there and listened.

"It is good for me that I have been in trouble, that I may learn Thy
statutes."

The wooden door, clamped and barred and worm-eaten and cut by knives,
was ajar, and from where he stood Dan could see into the church. There
were the empty pews, the gaunt, square, green-clad boxes on which he had
sat on many a Christmas Eve at Oiel Verree. He could picture the old
place as it used to be in those days of his boyhood, the sea of faces,
some solemn and some bubbling over with mischief, the candles with their
ribbons, the old clerk, Will-as-Thorn, standing up behind the communion
rail with his pitch-pipe in his hand, and Hommy-beg in his
linsey-woolsey petticoat, singing lustily from a paper held upside down.
The singing stopped. Behind were the hills Slieu Dhoo and Slieu Volley,
hidden now under a thick veil of mist, and from across the flat Curragh
there came in the silence the low moan of the sea. "Once more," said a
voice within the church, and then the psalm was sung again. Dan began to
breathe easier, he scarce knew why, and a great weight seemed to be
lifted off his breast.

As he turned away from the porch a heavy web of cloud was sweeping on
and sweeping on from over the sea. He looked up and saw that a
snow-storm was coming, and that the snow-cloud would break when it
reached the mountains.

The clock in the gray tower was striking--one--two--three--so it was now
three o'clock. Dan went down toward the creek known as the Lockjaw,
under Orris Head. There he expected to see old Billy Quilleash and his
mates, who had liberty to use the "Ben-my-Chree" during the winter
months for fishing with the lines. When he got to the creek it was an
hour after high water, and the lugger, with Quilleash and Teare, had
gone out for cod. Davy Fayle, who, like Dan himself, was still wearing
his militia belt and dagger, had been doing something among scraps of
net and bits of old rope, which lay in a shed that the men had thrown
together for the storing of their odds-and-ends.

Davy was looking out to sea. Down there a stiff breeze was blowing, and
the white curves of the breakers outside could just be seen through the
thick atmosphere.

"The storm is coming, Mastha Dan," said Davy. "See the diver on the top
of the white wave out there! D'ye hear her wild note?"

Davy shaded his eyes from the wind, which was blowing from the sea, and
looked up at the stormy petrel that was careering over the head of the
cliff above them and uttering its dismal cry: "Ay, and d'ye see Mother
Carey's chickens up yonder?" said Davy again. "The storm's coming, and
wonderful quick too."

Truly, a storm was coming, and it was a storm more terrible than wind
and snow.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE BLIND WOMAN'S SECOND SIGHT


Now, when Jarvis Kerruish encountered Dan in the act of coming out of
Mona's room, his surprise was due to something more than the knowledge
that Dan had been forbidden the house. On leaving the meadow after the
plowing match, and the slaughter of the oxen that followed it, Jarvis
had made a long circuit of the Curragh, and returned to Ballamona by the
road. He had been pondering on Mona's deportment during the exciting
part of the contest between Dan and the stranger, and had just arrived
at obvious conclusions of his own by way of explaining the emotion that
she could not conceal, when he recognized that he was approaching the
cottage occupied by Hommy-beg and his wife Kerry. A droning voice came
from within, accompanied by some of the most doleful wails that ever
arrested mortal ears.

Jarvis was prompted to stop and enter. He did so, and found both the
deaf husband and the blind wife at home. Hommy was squatting on a low
three-legged stool, with his fiddle at his shoulder, playing vigorously
and singing as he played. It was Christmas Eve to Hommy-beg also, and he
was practising the carol that he meant to sing at the Oiel Verree that
night. Blind Kerry was sitting by the fire knitting with gray yarn. The
deaf man's eyes and the blind woman's ears simultaneously announced the
visit of Jarvis, and as Hommy-beg dropped his fiddle from his shoulder,
Kerry let fall the needles on her lap, and held up her hand with an
expression of concern.

"Och, and didn't I say that something was happening at Ballamona?" said
Kerry.

"And so she did," said Hommy-Beg.

"I knew it," said Kerry. "I knew it, as the sayin' is."

All this in return for Jarvis's casual visit and mere salutation
surprised him.

"The sight! The sight! It's as true as the ould Book itself. Aw, yes,
aw, yes," continued Kerry, and she began to wring her hands.

Jarvis felt uneasy. "Do you know, my good people," he said, largely,
"I'm at a loss to understand what you mean. What is it that has happened
at Ballamona?"

At that the face of the blind wife looked puzzled.

"Have ye not come from Ballamona straight?" she asked.

"No--it's four hours since I left there," said Jarvis.

"Aw, dear, aw dearee dear!" said Kerry. "The sight! the sight!"

Jarvis's uneasiness developed into curiosity, and in answer to many
questions he learned that blind Kerry had that day been visited by
another of those visions of Dan which never came to her except when her
nursling was in some disgrace or danger, and never failed to come to her
then. On this occasion the vision had been one of great sorrow, and
Kerry trembled as she recounted it.

"I saw him as plain as plain, and he was standing in Misthress Mona's
room, atween the bed and the wee craythur's cot, and he went down on his
knees aside of it, and cried, and cried, and cried morthal, and
Misthress Mona herself was there sobbing her heart out, as the sayin'
is, and the wee craythur was sleeping soft and quiet, and it was dark
night outside, and the candle was in the misthress's hand. Aw, yes, I
saw it, sir, I saw it, and I tould my man here, and, behould ye, he
said, 'Drop it, woman, drop it,' says he, 'it's only drames, it's only
drames.'"

Jarvis did not find the story a tragic one, but he listened with an
interest that was all his own.

"You saw Mr. Dan in Miss Mona's room--do you mean her chamber?"

"Sure, and he climbed in at the window, and white as a haddock, and all
amuck with sweat."

"Climbed in at the window--the window of her chamber--her
bedroom--you're sure it was her bedroom?"

"Sarten sure. Don't I know it same as my own bit of a place? The bed,
with the curtains all white and dimity, as they're sayin', and the wee
thing's cot carved over with the lions, and the tigers, and the
beasties, and the goat's rug, and the sheepskin--aw, yes, aw, yes."

The reality of the vision had taken such a hold of Kerry that she had
looked upon it as a certain presage of disaster, and when Jarvis had
opened the door she had leapt to the conclusion that he came to announce
the catastrophe that she foresaw, and to summon her to Ballamona.

Jarvis smiled grimly. He had heard in the old days of Kerry's second
sight, and now he laughed at it. But the blind woman's stupid dreams had
given him an idea, and he rose suddenly and hurried away.

Jarvis knew the Deemster's weakness, for he knew why he found himself
where he was. Stern man as the Deemster might be, keen of wit and strong
of soul, Jarvis knew that there was one side of his mind on which he was
feebler than a child. On that side of the Deemster Jarvis now meant to
play to his own end and profit.

He was full to the throat of the story which he had to pour into
credulous ears, that never listened to a superstitious tale without
laughing at it, and mocking at it, and believing it, when he stepped
into the hall at Ballamona, and came suddenly face to face with Dan, and
saw the door of Mona's sitting-room open before and close behind him.

Jarvis was bewildered. Could it be possible that there was something in
the blind woman's second sight? He had scarcely recovered from his
surprise when the Deemster walked into the porch, looking as black as a
thunder-cloud.

"That man has been here again," he said. "Why didn't you turn him out of
the house?"

"I have something to tell you," said Jarvis.

They went into the Deemster's study. It was a little place to the left
of the hall, half under the stairs, and with the fireplace built across
one corner. Over the mantel-shelf a number of curious things were hung
from hooks and nails--a huge silver watch with a small face and great
seals, a mask, a blunderbuss, a monastic lamp and a crucifix, a piece of
silvered glass, and a pistol.

"What now?" asked the Deemster.

Jarvis told the blind woman's story with variations, and the Deemster
listened intently, and with a look of deadly rage.

"And you saw him come out of her room--you yourself saw him?" said the
Deemster.

"With my own eyes, dear sir," said Jarvis.

The Deemster's lip quivered. "My God! it must be true," he said.

At that moment they heard a foot in the hall, and going to the door in
his restless tramping to and fro, the Deemster saw that Ewan had come
into the house. He called to him, and Ewan went into the study, and on
Ewan going in Jarvis went out.

There was a look of such affright on the Deemster's face that before a
word was spoken Ewan had caught the contagion of his father's terror.
Then, grasping his son by the wrist in the intensity of his passion, the
Deemster poured his tale into Ewan's ear. But it was not the tale that
blind Kerry had told to Jarvis, it was not the tale that Jarvis had told
to him; it was a tale compounded of superstition and of hate. Blind
Kerry had said of her certain knowledge that Dan was accustomed to visit
Mona in her chamber at night alone, entering in at the window. Jarvis
Kerruish himself had seen him there--and that very day, not at night,
but in the broad daylight, Jarvis had seen Dan come from Mona's room.
What? Had Ewan no bowels that he could submit to the dishonor of his own
sister?

Ewan listened to the hot words that came from his father in a rapid and
ceaseless whirl. The story was all so fatally circumstantial as the
Deemster told it; no visions; no sights; no sneezings of an old woman;
all was clear, hard, deadly, damning circumstance, or seemed to be so to
Ewan's heated brain and poisoned heart.

"Father," he said, very quietly, but with visible emotion, "you are my
father, but there are only two persons alive from whose lips I would
take a story like this, and you are not one of them."

At that word the Deemster's passion overcame him. "My God," he cried,
"what have I done that I should not be believed by my own son? Would I
slander my own daughter?"

But Ewan did not hear him. He had turned away, and was going toward the
door of Mona's room. He moved slowly; there was an awful silence. Full
half a minute his hand rested on the door handle, and only then did his
nervous fingers turn it.

He stepped into the room. The room was empty. It was Mona's
sitting-room, her work-room, her parlor, her nursery. Out of it there
opened another room by a door at the further end of the hall on the
left.

The door of that other room was ajar, and Ewan could hear, from where he
now stood quivering in every limb, the soft cooing of the child--his
child, his dead wife's child--and the inarticulate nothings that Mona,
the foster-mother, babbled over it.

"Boo-loo-la-la-pa-pa," "Dearee-dearee-dear," and then the tender cooing
died off into a murmur, and an almost noiseless, long kiss on the full
round baby-neck.

Ewan stood irresolute for a moment, and the sweat started from his
forehead. He felt like one who has been kneeling at a shrine when a foul
hand besmudges it. He had half swung about to go back, when his ear
caught the sound of the Deemster's restless foot outside. He could not
go back: the poison had gone to his heart.

He stepped into the bedroom that led out of the sitting-room. Mona
raised her eyes as her brother entered. She was leaning over the cot,
her beautiful face alive with the light of a tender love--a very vision
of pure and delicious womanhood. Almost she had lifted the child from
the cot to Ewan's arms when at a second glance she recognized the solemn
expression of his face, and then she let the little one slide back to
its pillow.

"What has happened?"

"Is it true," he began very slowly, "that Dan has been here?"

Then Mona blushed deeply, and there was a pause.

"Is it true?" he said again, and now with a hurried and startled look;
"is it true that Dan has been here--here?"

Mona misunderstood his emphasis. Ewan was standing in her chamber, and
when he asked if Dan had been there, he was inquiring if Dan had been
with her in that very room. She did not comprehend the evil thought that
had been put in his heart. But she remembered the prohibition placed
upon her both by Ewan and her father, never to receive Dan again, and
her confusion at the moment of Ewan's question came of the knowledge
that, contrary to that prohibition, she had received him.

"Is it true?" he asked yet again, and he trembled with the passion he
suppressed.

After a pause he answered himself, with an awful composure, "It _is_
true."

The child lifted itself and babbled at Mona with its innocent face all
smiles, and Mona turned to hide her confusion by leaning over the cot.

"Boo--loo--la-la."

Then a great wave of passion seemed to come to Ewan, and he stepped to
his sister, and took her by both hands. He was like a strong man in a
dream, who feels sure that he can only be dreaming--struggling in vain
to awake from a terrible nightmare, and knowing that a nightmare it must
be that sits on him and crushes him.

"No, no, there must be a mistake; there must, there must," he said, and
his hot breathing beat on her face. "He has never been here
--here--never."

Mona raised herself. She loosed her hands from his grasp. Her woman's
pride had been stung. It seemed to her that her brother was taking more
than a brother's part.

"There is no mistake," she said, with some anger; "Dan has been here."

"You confess it?"

She looked him straight in the eyes and answered, "Yes, if you call it
so--I confess it. It is of no use to deceive you."

Then there was an ominous silence. Ewan's features became death-like in
their rigidity. A sickening sense came over him. He was struggling to
ask a question that his tongue would not utter.

"Mona--do you mean--do you mean that Dan has--has--outrage--Great God!
what am I to say? How am I to say it?"

Mona drew herself up.

"I mean that I can hide my feelings no longer," she said. "Do with me as
you may; I am not a child, and no brother shall govern me. Dan has been
here--outrage or none--call it what you will--yes, and--" she dropped
her head over the cot, "I love him."

Ewan was not himself: his heart was poisoned, or then and there he would
have unraveled the devilish tangle of circumstance. He tried again with
another and yet another question. But every question he asked, and every
answer Mona gave, made the tangle thicker. His strained jaw seemed to
start from his skin.

"I passed him on the road," he said to himself, in a hushed whisper.
"Oh, that I had but known!"

Then with a look of reproach at Mona he turned aside and went out of the
room.

He stepped back to the study, and there the Deemster was still tramping
to and fro.

"Simpleton, simpleton, to expect a woman to acknowledge her own
dishonor," the Deemster cried.

Ewan did not answer at once; but in silence he reached up to where the
pistol hung over the mantel-shelf and took it down.

"What are you doing?" cried the Deemster.

"She _has_ acknowledged it," said Ewan, still in a suppressed whisper.

For a moment the Deemster was made speechless and powerless by that
answer. Then he laid hold of his son's hand and wrenched the pistol
away.

"No violence," he cried.

He was now terrified at the wrath that his own evil passions had
aroused; he locked the pistol in a cabinet.

"It is better so," said Ewan, and in another moment he was going out at
the porch.

The Deemster followed him, and laid a hand on his arm.

"Remember--no violence," he said; "for the love of God, see there is no
violence."

But Ewan, without a word more, without relaxing a muscle of his hard,
white face, without a glance or a sign, but with bloodshot eyes and
quivering nostrils, with teeth compressed and the great veins on his
forehead large and dark over the scar that Dan had left there, drew
himself away, and went out of the house.



CHAPTER XIX

HOW EWAN FOUND DAN


Ewan went along like a man whose reason is clogged. All his faculties
were deadened. He could not see properly. He could not hear. He could
not think. Try as he might to keep his faculties from wandering, his
mind would not be kept steady.

Time after time he went back to the passage of Scripture which he had
fixed on that morning for his next lesson and sermon. It was the story
how Esau, when robbed of his birthright blessing, said in his heart, "I
will slay my brother Jacob"; how Jacob fled from his brother's anger to
the home of Laban; how after many years Esau married the daughter of
Ishmael, and Jacob came to the country of Edom; how, in exceeding fear
of Esau's wrath, Jacob sent before him a present for Esau out of the
plenty with which God had blessed him; and how Jacob lifted up his eyes
and beheld Esau, and ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his
neck and kissed him, and they wept.

Ewan would see the goats and the ewes, and the rams, and the milch
camels toiling along through the hot lush grass by the waters of the
Jordan; then all at once these would vanish and he would find himself
standing alone in the drear winter day, with the rumble of the bleak sea
far in front, and close overhead the dark snow-clouds sweeping on and
on.

His strong emotion paralyzed all his faculties. He could neither fix his
mind on the mission on which he had set out, nor banish the thought of
it. Mission! What was it? At one moment he thought he knew, and then his
eyes seemed to jump from their sockets. "Am I going mad?" he asked
himself, and his head turned giddy.

He went on; a blind force impelled him. At length he reached the old
Ballamona. His own especial room in the house was the little
book-encased closet, looking over the Curraghs toward the sea--the same
that had been the study of Gilcrist Mylrea, before he went away and came
back as bishop.

But Ewan turned mechanically toward another part of the house and
entered a room hung about with muskets and the horns of deer, fishing
rods and baskets, a watchman's truncheon lettered in red, loose pieces
of net, and even some horse harness. A dog, a brown collie, lay asleep
before the fire, and over the rannel-tree shelf a huge watch was
ticking.

But Dan was not in his room. Then Ewan remembered in a dazed way--how
had the memory escaped him so long?--that when Dan passed him on the
road he was not going homeward, but toward the village. No doubt the man
was on his way to the low pot-house he frequented.

Ewan left Ballamona and went on toward the "Three Legs of Man." He
crossed the fields which the Bishop had cut off from the episcopal
demesne for his son's occupation as a farm. As he walked, his wandering,
aimless thoughts were arrested by the neglected state of the land and
the stock upon it. In one croft the withered stalks of the last crop of
cabbage lay rotten on the ground; in a meadow a sheep was lying dead of
the rot, and six or seven of the rest of the flock were dragging their
falling wool along the thin grass.

Ewan came out of the fields to the turnpike by the footpath that goes by
Bishop's Court, and as he passed through the stile he heard the Bishop
in conversation with some one on the road within.

"What is the balance that I owe you, Mr. Looney, for building those
barns on my son's farm?" the Bishop was saying.

"Seven pounds five shillings, my lord," the man answered, "and rael bad
I'm wanting the money, too, my lord, and three months I'm afther waiting
for it."

"So you are, Mr. Looney. You would have been paid before this if I'd had
wherewith to pay you."

Then there was silence between the two, and Ewan was going on, when the
Bishop added:

"Here--here--take this;" there was a sound as of the rattle of keys, and
seals, and a watch chain--"it was my old father's last gift to me, all
he had to give to me--God bless his memory!--and I little thought to
part with it--but there, take it and sell it, and pay yourself, Mr.
Looney."

The man seemed to draw back.

"Your watch!" he said. "Aw, no, no, no! Och, if I'm never paid, never,
it's not Patrick Looney that is the man to take the watch out of your
pocket."

"Take it--take it! Why, my good man"--the Bishop's voice was all but
breaking--"you should not refuse to take the time of day from your
Bishop." Then there was a jaunty laugh, with a great sob at the back of
it. "Besides, I've found the old thing a sore tax on my failing memory
this many day, to wind it and wear it. Come, it will wipe out my debt to
you."

Ewan went on; his teeth were set hard. Why had he overheard that
conversation? Was it to whet his purpose? It seemed as if there might be
some supernatural influence over him. But this was not the only
conversation he overheard that day. When he got to the "Three Legs of
Man" a carrier's cart stood outside. Ewan stepped into the lobby of the
house. The old cat was counting up the chalk marks, vertical and
horizontal, at the back of the cupboard door, and the carrier was
sitting on a round table, recounting certain mad doings at Castletown.

"'Let's down with the watch and take their lanterns,' says the captain,
says he, laughing morthal and a bit sprung, maybe; and down they went,
one a top o' the other, Jemmy the Red, and Johnny-by-Nite, and all the
rest of them, bellowing strong, and the capt'n and his pals whipping up
their lanterns and their truncheons, and away at a slant Aw, it was
right fine."

The carrier laughed loud at his story.

"Was that when Mastha Dan was down at Castletown, fixing the business
for the Fencibles?"

"Aw, yes, woman, and middlin' stiff it cost him. Next morning Jemmy the
Red and Johnny-by-Nite were off for the Castle, but the captain met
them, and 'I'm not for denying it,' says he, and 'a bit of a spree,' he
says, and Take this, Jemmy,' says he, 'and say no more.'"

"And what did he give the watch to sweeten them?"

"Three pound, they're saying. Aw, yes, woman, woman--liberal, very. None
o' yer close-fisted about the captain."

The blood rushed to Ewan's heart. In a moment he found himself asking
for Dan and hearing from the old woman with the whiskers, who spoke with
a curtsey after every syllable, that Master Dan had been seen to go down
toward the creek, the Lockjaw, under Orris Head.

Ewan went out of the pot-house and turned the lane toward the creek.
What was the mysterious influence on his destiny, that he of all men
must needs overhear two such conversations, and hear them now of all
times? The neglected lands, the impoverished old Bishop, the reckless
spendthrift, all rose before Ewan's mind in a bewildering haze.

The lane to the Lockjaw led past the shambles, that stood a little out
of the village. Ewan had often noticed the butcher's low wagon on the
road, with sheep penned in by a rope across the sternboard, or with a
calf in a net. All at once he now realized that he was walking behind
this wagon, and that a dead ox lay in it, and that the driver at the
horse's head was talking to a man who plodded along beside him. Ewan's
faculties were now more clouded than before, but he could hear, with
gaps in which his sense of hearing seemed to leave him, the conversation
between the two men.

"Well, well, just to think--killing the poor beast for stopping when the
dinner bell rang at the Coort! And them used of it for fifteen years!
Aw, well, well."

"He's no Christian, anyway, and no disrespec'."

"Christian? Christian, is it? Brute beast, as I'm sayin'. The ould
Bishop's son? Well, well."

Bit by bit, scarcely listening, losing the words sometimes, as one loses
at intervals the tick of a clock when lying awake at night with a brain
distraught, Ewan gathered up the story of the bad business at the
plowing match after he had left the meadow.

"Christian? Och, Christian?" one of the men repeated with a bitter laugh
of mockery. "I'm thinking it would be a middlin' little crime to treat a
Christian like that same as he treated the poor dumb craythurs."

Ewan's temples beat furiously, and a fearful tumult was rife in his
brain. One wild thought expelled all other thoughts. Why had he
overheard three such conversations? There could be but one answer--he
was designed by supernatural powers to be the instrument of a fixed
purpose. It was irrevocably decided--he was impelled to the terrible
business that was in his mind by an irresistible force to which he was
blind and powerless. It was so, it was so.

Ewan pushed on past the wagon, and heard the men's voices die off to an
indistinct mumble behind him. How hideous were the meditations of the
next few minutes! The beating of his temple drew the skin hard about the
scar above it. He thought of his young wife in her grave, and of the
shock that sent her there. He felt afresh the abject degradation of that
bitter moment in the library at Bishop's Court, when, to save the honor
of a forger, he had lied before God and man. Then he thought of the gray
head of that august old man, serenest of saints, fondest of fathers, the
Bishop, bowed down to the dust with shame and a ruined hope. And after
his mind had oscillated among these agonizing thoughts, there came to
him over all else and more hideous than all else, the memory of what his
own father, the Deemster, had told him an hour ago.

Ewan began to run, and as he ran all his blood seemed to rush to his
head, and a thousand confused and vague forms danced before his eyes.
All at once he recognized that he was at the mouth of the creek, going
down the steep gate to the sea that ended in the Lockjaw. Before he was
aware, he was talking with Davy Fayle, and asking for Dan. He noticed
that his voice would scarcely obey him.

"He's in the crib on the shore, sir," said Davy, and the lad turned back
to his work. He was hammering an old bent nail out of a pitch-pine plank
that had washed ashore with the last tide. After a moment Davy stopped
and looked after the young parson, and shook his head and muttered
something to himself. Then he threw down his hammer, and followed
slowly.

Ewan went on. His impatience was now feverish. He was picturing Dan as
he would find him--drinking, smoking, laughing, one leg thrown over the
end of a table, his cap awry, his face red, his eyes bleared, and his
lips hot.

It was growing dark, the snow-cloud was very low overhead, the sea-birds
were screaming down at the water's edge, and the sea's deep rumble came
up from the shingle below and the rocks beyond.

Ewan saw the tent and made for it. As he came near to it he slipped and
fell. Regaining his feet, he perceived that in the dusk he had tripped
over some chips that lay about a block. Davy had been chopping firewood
of the driftwood that the sea had sent up. Ewan saw the hatchet lying
among the loose chips. In an instant he had caught it up. Recognizing in
every event of that awful hour the mysterious influence of supernatural
powers, he read this incident as he had read all the others. Until then
he had thought of nothing but the deed he was to do; never for one
instant of how he was to do it. But now the hatchet was thrust into his
hand. Thus was everything irrevocably decided.

And now Ewan was in front of the tent, panting audibly, the hatchet in
his hand, his eyes starting from their sockets, the great veins on his
forehead hard and black. Now, O God! for a moment's strength, one little
moment's strength, now, now!

The smoke was rising from the gorse-covered roof; the little black door
was shut. Inside was Dan, Dan, Dan; and while Ewan's young wife lay in
her grave, and Ewan's sister was worse than in her grave, and the good
Bishop was brought low, Dan was there, there, and he was drinking and
laughing, and his heart was cold and dead.

Ewan lifted the latch and pushed the door open, and stepped into the
tent.

Lord of grace and mercy, what was there? On the floor of earth, in one
corner of the small place, a fire of gorse, turf, and logs burned
slowly; and near the fire Dan lay outstretched on a bed of straw, his
head pillowed on a coil of old rope, one hand twisted under his head,
the other resting lightly on his breast, and he slept peacefully like a
child.

Ewan stood for a moment shuddering and dismayed. The sight of Dan,
helpless and at his mercy, unnerved his arm and drove the fever from his
blood. There was an awful power in that sleeping man, and sleep had
wrapped him in its own divinity.

The hatchet dropped from Ewan's graspless fingers, and he covered his
face. As a drowning man is said to see all his life pass before him at
the moment of death, so Ewan saw all the past, the happy past--the past
of love and of innocence, whereof Dan was a part--rise up before him.

"It is true, I am going mad," he thought, and he fell back on to a bench
that stood by the wall. Then there came an instant of unconsciousness,
and in that instant he was again by the waters of the Jordan, and the
ewes and the rams and the milch camels were toiling through the long
grass, and Esau was falling on the neck of Jacob, and they were weeping
together.



CHAPTER XX

BLIND PASSION AND PAIN


Dan moved uneasily, and presently awoke, opened his eyes, and saw Ewan,
and betrayed no surprise at his presence there.

"Ah! Is it you, Ewan?" he said, speaking quietly, partly in a shamefaced
way, and with some confusion. "Do you know, I've been dreaming of
you--you and Mona?"

Ewan gave no answer. Because sleep is a holy thing, and the brother of
death, whose shadow also it is, therefore Ewan's hideous purpose had
left him while Dan lay asleep at his feet; but now that Dan was awake,
the evil passion came again.

"I was dreaming of that Mother Carey's chicken--you remember it? when we
were lumps of lads, you know--why, you can't have forgotten it--the old
thing I caught in its nest just under the Head?"

Still Ewan gave no sign, but looked down at Dan resting on his elbows.
Dan's eyes fell upon Ewan's face, but he went on in a confused way:

"Mona couldn't bear to see it caged, and would have me put it back.
Don't you remember I clambered up to the nest, and put the bird in
again? You were down on the shore, thinking sure I would tumble over the
Head, and Mona--Mona--"

Dan glanced afresh into Ewan's face, and its look of terror seemed to
stupefy him; still he made shift to go on with his dream in an abashed
sort of way:

"My gough! If I didn't dream it all as fresh, as fresh, and the fight in
the air, and the screams when I put the old bird in the nest--the young
ones had forgotten it clean, and they tumbled it out, and set on it
terrible, and drove it away--and then the poor old thing on the rocks
sitting by itself as lonesome as lonesome--and little Mona crying and
crying down below, and her long hair rip-rip-rippling in the wind,
and--and--"

Dan had got to his feet, and then seated himself on a stool as he
rambled on with the story of his dream. But once again his shifty eyes
came back to Ewan's face, and he stopped short.

"My God, what is it?" he cried.

Now Ewan, standing there with a thousand vague forms floating in his
brain, had heard little of what Dan had said, but he had noted his
confused manner, and had taken this story of the dream as a feeble
device to hide the momentary discomfiture.

"What does it mean?" he said. "It means that this island is not large
enough to hold both you and me."

"What?"

"It means that you must go away."

"Away!"

"Yes--and at once."

In the pause that followed after his first cry of amazement, Dan thought
only of the bad business of the killing of the oxen at the plowing match
that morning, and so, in a tone of utter abasement, with his face to the
ground, he went on, in a blundering, humble way, to allow that Ewan had
reason for his anger.

"I'm a blind headstrong fool, I know that--and my temper is--well, it's
damnable, that's the fact--but no one suffers from it more than I do,
and if I could have felled myself after I had felled the oxen, why
down ... Ewan, for the sake of the dear old times when we were good
chums, you and I and little Mona, with her quiet eyes, God bless her--!"

"Go away, and never come back to either of us," cried Ewan, stamping his
foot.

Dan paused, and there was a painful silence.

"Why should I go away?" he said, with an effort at quietness.

"Because you are a scoundrel--the basest scoundrel on God's earth--the
foulest traitor--the blackest-hearted monster--"

Dan's sunburnt face whitened under his tawny skin.

"Easy, easy, man veen, easy," he said, struggling visibly for
self-command, while he interrupted Ewan's torrent of reproaches.

"You are a disgrace and a by-word. Only the riff-raff of the island are
your friends and associates."

"That's true enough, Ewan," said Dan, and his head fell between his
hands, his elbows resting on his knees.

"What are you doing? Drinking, gambling, roistering, cheating--yes--"

Dan got on his feet uneasily and took a step to and fro about the little
place; then sat again, and buried his head in his hands as before.

"I've been a reckless, self-willed, mad fool, Ewan, but no worse than
that. And if you could see me as God sees me, and know how I suffer
for my follies and curse them, for all I seem to make so light of
them, and how I am driven to them one on the head of another,
perhaps--perhaps--perhaps--you would have pity--ay, pity."

"Pity? Pity for you? You who have brought your father to shame? He is
the ruin of the man he was. You have impoverished him; you have spent
his substance and wasted it. Ay, and you have made his gray head a mark
for reproach. 'Set your own house in order'--that's what the world says
to the man of God whose son is a child of the--"

"Stop!" cried Dan.

He had leapt to his feet, his fist clenched, his knuckles showing like
nuts of steel.

But Ewan went on, standing there with a face that was ashy white above
his black coat. "Your heart is as dead as your honor. And that is not
all, but you must outrage the honor of another."

Now, when Ewan said this, Dan thought of his forged signature, and of
the censure and suspension to which Ewan was thereby made liable.

"Go away," Ewan cried again, motioning Dan off with his trembling hand.

Dan lifted his eyes. "And what if I refuse?" he said in a resolute way.

"Then take the consequences."

"You mean the consequences of that--that--that forgery?"

At this Ewan realized the thought in Dan's mind, and perceived that Dan
conceived him capable of playing upon his fears by holding over his head
the penalty of an offense which he had already taken upon himself. "God
in heaven!" he thought, "and this is the pitiful creature whom I have
all these years taken to my heart."

"Is that what your loyalty comes to?" said Dan, and his lip curled.

"Loyalty!" cried Ewan, in white wrath. "Loyalty, and you talk to me of
loyalty--you who have outraged the honor of my sister--"

"Mona!"

"I have said it at last, though the word blisters my tongue. Go away
from the island forever, and let me never see your face again."

Dan rose to his feet with rigid limbs. He looked about him for a moment
in a dazed silence, and put his hand to his forehead as if he had lost
himself.

"Do you believe _that_?" he said, in a slow whisper.

"Don't deny it--don't let me know you for a liar as well," Ewan said,
eagerly; and then added in another tone, "I have had her own
confession."

"Her confession?"

"Yes, and the witness of another."

"The witness of another!"

Dan echoed Ewan's words in a vague, half-conscious way.

Then, in a torrent of hot words that seemed to blister and sting the man
who spoke them no less than the man who heard them, Ewan told all, and
Dan listened like one in a stupor.

There was silence, and then Ewan spoke again in a tone of agony. "Dan,
there was a time when in spite of yourself I loved you--yes, though I'm
ashamed to say it, for it was against God's own leading; still I loved
you, Dan. But let us part forever now, and each go his own way, and
perhaps, though we can never forget the wrong that you have done us, we
may yet think more kindly of you, and time may help us to forgive--"

But Dan had awakened from his stupor, and he flung aside.

"Damn your forgiveness!" he said, hotly, and then, with teeth set and
lips drawn hard and eyes aflame, he turned upon Ewan and strode up to
him, and they stood together face to face.

"You said just now that there was not room enough in the island for you
and me," he said, in a hushed whisper. "You were right, but I shall mend
your words: if you believe what you have said--by Heaven, I'll not deny
it for you!--there is not room enough for both of us in the world."

"It was my own thought," said Ewan, and then for an instant each looked
into the other's eyes and read the other's purpose.

The horror of that moment of silence was broken by the lifting of the
latch. Davy Fayle came shambling into the tent on some pretended errand.
He took off his militia belt with the dagger in the sheath attached to
it, and hung it on a long rusty nail driven into an upright timber at
one corner. Then he picked up from among some ling on the floor a
waterproof coat and put it on. He was going out, with furtive glances at
Dan and Ewan, who said not a word in his presence, and were bearing
themselves toward each other with a painful constraint, when his glance
fell on the hatchet which lay a few feet from the door. Davy picked it
up and carried it out, muttering to himself, "Strange, strange,
uncommon!"

Hardly had the boy dropped the latch of the door from without than Ewan
took the militia belt from the nail and buckled it about his waist. Dan
understood his thought; he was still wearing his own militia belt and
dagger. There was now not an instant's paltering between them--not a
word of explanation.

"We must get rid of the lad," said Dan.

Ewan bowed his head. It had come to him to reflect that when all was
over Mona might hear of what had been done. What they had to do was to
be done for her honor, or for what seemed to be her honor in that blind
tangle of passion and circumstance. But none the less, though she loved
both of them now, would she loathe that one who returned to her with the
blood of the other upon him.

"She must never know," he said. "Send the boy away. Then we must go to
where this work can be done between you and me alone."

Dan had followed his thought in silence, and was stepping toward the
door to call to Davy, when the lad came back, carrying a log of
driftwood for the fire. There were some small flakes of snow on his
waterproof coat.

"Go up to the shambles, Davy," said Dan, speaking with an effort at
composure, "and tell Jemmy Curghey to keep me the ox-horns."

Davy looked up in a vacant way, and his lip lagged low. "Aw, and didn't
you tell Jemmy yourself, and terrible partic'lar, too?"

"Do you say so, Davy?"

"Sarten sure."

"Then just slip away and fetch them."

Davy fixed the log on the fire, tapped it into the flame, glanced
anxiously at Dan and Ewan, and then in a lingering way went out. His
simple face looked sad under its vacant expression.

The men listened while the lad's footsteps could be heard on the
shingle, above the deep murmur of the sea. Then Dan stepped to the door
and threw it open.

"Now," he said.

It was rapidly growing dark. The wind blew strongly into the shed. Dan
stepped out, and Ewan followed him.

They walked in silence through the gully that led from the creek to the
cliff head. The snow that had begun to fall was swirled about in the
wind that came from over the sea, and spinning in the air, it sometimes
beat against their faces.

Ewan went along like a man condemned to death. He had begun to doubt,
though he did not know it, and would have shut his mind to the idea if
it had occurred to him. But once, when Dan seemed to stop as if only
half resolved, and partly turn his face toward him, Ewan mistook his
intention. "He is going to tell me that there is some hideous error," he
thought. He was burning for that word. But no, Dan went plodding on
again, and never after shifted his steadfast gaze, never spoke, and gave
no sign. At length he stopped, and Ewan stopped with him. They were
standing on the summit of Orris Head.

It was a sad, a lonesome, and a desolate place, in sight of a wide waste
of common land, without a house, and with never a tree rising above the
purple gorse and tussocks of long grass. The sky hung very low over it;
the steep red cliffs, with their patches of green in ledges, swept down
from it to the shingle and the sharp shelves of slate covered with
seaweed. The ground swell came up from below with a very mournful noise,
but the air seemed to be empty, and every beat of the foot on the soft
turf sounded near and large. Above their heads the sea-fowl kept up a
wild clamor, and far out, where sea and sky seemed to meet in the
gathering darkness, the sea's steady blow on the bare rocks of the naze
sent up a deep, hoarse boom.

Dan unbuckled his belt, and threw off his coat and vest. Ewan did the
same, and they stood there face to face in the thin flakes of snow, Dan
in his red shirt, Ewan in his white shirt open at the neck, these two
men whose souls had been knit together as the soul of Jonathan was knit
to the soul of David, and each ready to lift his hand against his
heart's best brother. Then all at once a startled cry came from near at
hand.

It was Davy Fayle's voice. The lad had not gone to the shambles.
Realizing in some vague way that the errand was a subterfuge and that
mischief was about, he had hidden himself at a little distance, and had
seen when Dan and Ewan came out of the tent together. Creeping through
the ling, and partly hidden by the dusk, he had followed the men until
they had stopped on the Head. Then Davy had dropped to his knees. His
ideas were obscure, he scarcely knew what was going on before his eyes,
but he held his breath and watched and listened. At length, when the men
threw off their clothes, the truth dawned on Davy; and though he tried
to smother an exclamation, a cry of terror burst from his husky throat.

Dan and Ewan exchanged glances, and each seemed in one moment to read
the other's thoughts. In another instant, at three quick strides, Dan
had taken Davy by the shoulders.

"Promise," he said, "that you will never tell what you have seen."

Davy struggled to free himself, but his frantic efforts were useless. In
Dan's grip he was held as in a vice.

"Let me go, Mastha Dan," the lad cried.

"Promise to hold your tongue," said Dan; "promise it, promise it."

"Let me go, will you? let me go," the lad shouted sullenly.

"Be quiet," said Dan.

"I won't be quiet," was the stubborn answer. "Help! help! help!" and the
lad screamed lustily.

"Hold your tongue, or by G--"

Dan held Davy by one of his great hands hitched into the lad's guernsey,
and he lifted the other hand threateningly.

"Help! help! help!" Davy screamed still louder, and struggled yet more
fiercely, until his strength was spent, and his breath was gone, and
then there was a moment's silence.

The desolate place was still as desolate as before. Not a sign of life
around; not an answering cry.

"There's nobody to help you," said Dan. "You have got to promise never
to tell what you have seen to man, woman, or child."

"I won't promise, and I won't hould my tongue," said the lad, stoutly.
"You are goin' to fight, you and Mastha Ewan, and--"

Dan stopped him. "Hearken here. If you are to live another hour, you
will promise--"

But Davy had regained both strength and voice.

"I don't care--help! help! help!" he shouted.

Dan put his hand over the lad's mouth, and dragged him to the cliff
head. Below was the brant steep, dark and jagged, and quivering in the
deepening gloom, and the sea-birds were darting through the mid-air like
bats in the dark.

"Look," said Dan, "you've got to swear never to tell what you have seen
to-night, so help you God!"

The lad, held tightly by the breast and throat, and gripping the arms
that held him with fingers that clung like claws, took one horrified
glance down into the darkness. He struggled no longer. His face was very
pitiful to see.

"I can not promise," he said, in a voice like a cry.

At that answer Dan drew Davy back from the cliff edge, and loosed his
hold of him. He was abashed and ashamed. He felt himself a little man by
the side of this half-daft fisher-lad.

All this time Ewan had stood aside looking on while Dan demanded the
promise, and saying nothing. Now he went up to Davy, and said, in a
quiet voice:

"Davy, if you should ever tell any one what you have seen, Dan will be a
lost man all his life hereafter."

"Then let him pitch me over the cliff," said Davy, in a smothered cry.

"Listen to me, Davy," Ewan went on; "you're a brave lad, and I know
what's in your head, but--"

"Then what for do you want to fight him?" Davy broke out. The lad's
throat was dry and husky, and his eyes were growing dim.

Ewan paused. Half his passion was spent. Davy's poor dense head had
found him a question that he could not answer.

"Davy, if you don't promise, you will ruin Dan--yes, it will be you who
will ruin him, you, remember that. He will be a lost man, and my sister,
my good sister Mona, she will be a broken-hearted woman."

Then Davy broke down utterly, and big tears filled his eyes, and ran
down his cheeks.

"I promise," he sobbed.

"Good lad--now go."

Davy turned about and went away, at first running, and then dragging
slowly, then running again, and then again lingering.

What followed was a very pitiful conflict of emotion. Nature, who looks
down pitilessly on man and his big, little passions, that clamor so loud
but never touch her at all--even Nature played her part in this tragedy.

When Davy Fayle was gone, Dan and Ewan stood face to face as before, Dan
with his back to the cliff, Ewan with his face to the sea. Then, without
a word, each turned aside and picked up his militia belt.

The snowflakes had thickened during the last few moments, but now they
seemed to cease and the sky to lighten. Suddenly in the west the sky was
cloven as though by the sweep of a sword, and under a black bar of cloud
and above a silvered water-line the sun came through very red and hazy
in its setting, and with its ragged streamers around it.

Ewan was buckling the belt about his waist when the setting sun rose
upon them, and all at once there came to him the Scripture that says,
"Let not the sun go down on your wrath." If God's hand had appeared in
the heavens, the effect on Ewan could not have been greater. Already his
passion was more than half gone, and now it melted entirely away.

"Dan," he cried, and his voice was a sob, "Dan, I can not fight--right
or wrong I can not," and he flung himself down, and the tears filled his
eyes.

Then Dan, whose face was afire, laughed loud and bitterly. "Coward," he
said, "coward and poltroon!"

At that word all the evil passion came back to Ewan and he leapt to his
feet.

"That is enough," he said; "the belts--buckle them together."

Dan understood Ewan's purpose. At the next breath the belt about Dan's
waist was buckled to the belt about the waist of Ewan, and the two men
stood strapped together. Then they drew the daggers, and an awful
struggle followed.

With breast to breast until their flesh all but touched, and with thighs
entwined, they reeled and swayed, the right hand of each held up for
thrust, the left for guard and parry. What Dan gained in strength Ewan
made up in rage, and the fight was fierce and terrible, Dan still with
his back to the cliff, Ewan still with his face to the sea.

At one instant Dan, by his great stature, had reached over Ewan's
shoulder to thrust from behind, and at the next instant Ewan had
wrenched his lithe body backward and had taken the blow in his lifted
arm, which forthwith spouted blood above the wrist. In that encounter
they reeled about, changing places, and Ewan's back was henceforward
toward the cliff, and Dan fought with his face toward the sea.

It was a hideous and savage fight. The sun had gone down, the cleft in
the heavens had closed again, once more the thin flakes of snow were
falling, and the world had dropped back to its dark mood. A stormy
petrel came up from the cliff and swirled above the men as they fought,
and made its direful scream over them.

Up and down, to and fro, embracing closely, clutching, guarding, and
meantime panting hoarsely, and drawing hard breath, the two men fought
in their deadly hate. At last they had backed and swayed to within three
yards of the cliff, and then Ewan, with the gasp of a drowning man,
flung his weapon into the air, and Dan ripped his dagger's edge across
the belts that bound them together, and at the next breath the belts
were cut, and the two were divided, and Ewan, separated from Dan, and
leaning heavily backward, was reeling, by force of his own weight,
toward the cliff.

Then Dan stood as one transfixed with uplifted hand, and a deep groan
came from his throat. Passion and pain were gone from him in that awful
moment, and the world itself seemed to be blotted out. When he came to
himself, he was standing on the cliff head alone.

The clock in the old church was striking. How the bell echoed on that
lonely height! One--two--three--four--five. Five o'clock! Everything
else was silent as death. The day was gone. The snow began to fall in
thick, large flakes. It fell heavily on Dan's hot cheeks and bare neck.
His heart seemed to stand still, and the very silence itself was awful.
His terror stupefied him. "What have I done?" he asked himself. He could
not think. He covered his eyes with his hands, and strode up and down
the cliff head, up and down, up and down. Then in a bewildered state of
semi-consciousness he looked out to sea, and there far off, a league
away, he saw a black thing looming large against the darkening sky. He
recognized that it was a sail, and then perceived that it was a lugger,
and quite mechanically he tried to divide the mainmast and mizzen, the
mainsail and yawlsail, and to note if the boat were fetching to leeward
or beating down the Channel.

All at once sea and sky were blotted out, and he could not stand on his
legs, but dropped to his knees, and great beads of perspiration rolled
down his face and neck. He tried to call "Ewan! Ewan!" but he could not
utter the least cry. His throat was parched; his tongue swelled and
filled his mouth. His lips moved, but no words came from him. Then he
rose to his feet, and the world flowed back upon him; the sea-fowl
crying over his head, the shrillness of the wind in the snow-capped
gorse, and the sea's hoarse voice swelling upward through the air, while
its heavy, monotonous blow on the beach shook the earth beneath him. If
anything else had appeared to Dan at that moment, he must have screamed
with terror.

Quaking in every limb, he picked up his clothes and turned back toward
the shore. He was so feeble that he could scarcely walk through the snow
that now lay thick on the short grass. When he reached the mouth of the
gully he did not turn into the shed, but went on over the pebbles of the
creek. His bloodshot eyes, which almost started from their sockets,
glanced eagerly from side to side. At last he saw the thing he sought,
and now that it was under him, within reach of his hand, he dare hardly
look upon it.

At the foot of a jagged crag that hung heavily over from the cliff the
body of Ewan Mylrea lay dead and cold. There was no mark of violence
upon it save a gash on the wrist of the left hand, and over the wound
there was a clot of blood. The white face lay deep in the breast, as if
the neck had been dislocated. There were no other outward marks of
injury from the fall. The body was outstretched on its back, with one
arm--the left arm--lying half over the forehead, and the other, the
right arm, with the hand open and the listless fingers apart, thrown
loosely aside.

Dan knelt beside the body, and his heart was benumbed like ice. He tried
to pray, but no prayer would come, and he could not weep.

"Ewan! Ewan!" he cried at length, and his voice of agony rolled round
the corpse like the soughing of the wind.

"Ewan! Ewan!" he cried again; but only the sea's voice broke the silence
that followed. Then his head fell on the cold breast, and his arms
covered the lifeless body, and he cried upon God to have mercy on him,
and to lift up His hand against him and cut him off.

Presently he got on his feet, and scarcely knowing what he was doing, he
lifted the body in his arms, with the head lying backward on his
shoulder, and the white face looking up in its stony stare to the
darkening heavens. As he did so his eyes were raised to the cliff, and
there, clearly outlined over the black crags and against the somewhat
lighter sky, he saw the figure of a man.

He toiled along toward the shed. He was so weak that he could scarce
keep on his legs, and when he reached the little place at the mouth of
the creek he was more dead than alive. He put the body to lie on the bed
of straw on which he had himself slept and dreamed an hour before. Then
all at once he felt a low sort of cunning coming over him, and he went
back to the door and shut it, and drew the long wooden bolt into its
iron hoop on the jamb.

He had hardly done so when he heard an impatient footstep on the shingle
outside. In another instant the latch was lifted and the door pushed
heavily. Then there was a knock. Dan made no answer, but stood very
still and held his breath. There was another knock, and another. Then,
in a low tremulous murmur there came the words:

"Where is he? God A'mighty! where is he?" It was Davy Fayle. Another
knock, louder, and still no reply.

"Mastha Dan, Mastha Dan, they're coming; Mastha Dan, God A'mighty!--"

Davy was now tramping restlessly to and fro. Dan was trying to consider
what it was best to do, whether to open to Davy and hear what he had to
say, or to carry it off as if he were not within, when another foot
sounded on the shingle and cut short his meditations.

"Have you seen Mr. Ewan--Parson Ewan?"

Dan recognized the voice. It was the voice of Jarvis Kerruish.

Davy did not answer immediately.

"Have you seen him, eh?"

"No, sir," Davy faltered.

"Then why didn't you say so at once? It is very strange. The people said
he was walking toward the creek. There's no way out in this direction,
is there?"

"Way out--this direction? Yes, sir," Davy stammered.

"How? show me the way."

"By the sea, sir."

"The sea! Simpleton, what are you doing here?"

"Waiting for the boat, sir."

"What shed is this?"

Dan could hear that at this question Davy was in a fever of excitement.

"Only a place for bits of net and cable, and all to that," said Davy,
eagerly.

Dan could feel that Jarvis had stepped up to the shed, and that he was
trying to look in through the little window.

"Do you keep a fire to warm your nets and cables?" he asked in a
suspicious tone.

At the next moment he was trying to force the door. Dan stood behind.
The bolt creaked in the hasp. If the hasp should give way, he and Jarvis
would stand face to face.

"Strange--there's something strange about all this," said the man
outside. "I heard a scream as I came over the Head. Did you hear
anything?"

"I tell you I heard nothing," said Davy, sullenly.

Dan grew dizzy, and groping for something to cling to, his hand scraped
across the door.

"Wait! I could have sworn I heard something move inside. Who keeps the
key of this shed?"

"Kay? There's never a kay at the like of it."

"Then how is it fastened? From within? Wait--let me see."

There was a sound like the brushing of a hand over the outside face of
the door.

"Has the snow stopped up the keyhole, or is there no such thing? Or is
the door fastened by a padlock?"

Dan had regained his self-possession by this time. He felt an impulse to
throw the door open. He groped at his waist for the dagger, but belt and
dagger were both gone.

"All this is very strange," said Jarvis, and then he seemed to turn from
the door and move away.

"Stop. Where is the man Dan--the captain?" he asked, from a little
distance.

"I dunno," said Davy, stoutly.

"That's a lie, my lad."

Then the man's footsteps went off in dull beats on the snow-clotted
pebbles.

After a moment's silence there was a soft knocking; Davy had crept up to
the door.

"Mastha Dan," he whispered, amid panting breath.

Dan did not stir. The latch was lifted in vain.

"Mastha Dan, Mastha Dan." The soft knocking continued.

Dan found his voice at last.

"Go away, Davy--go away," he said, hoarsely.

There was a short pause, and then there came from without an answer like
a sob.

"I'm going, Mastha Dan."

After that all was silent as death. Half an hour later, Dan Mylrea was
walking through the darkness toward Ballamona. In his blind misery he
was going to Mona. The snow was not falling now, and in the lift of the
storm the sky was lighter than it had been. As Dan passed the old
church, he could just descry the clock. The snow lay thick on the face,
and clogged the hands. The clock had stopped. It stood at five exactly.

The blind leading that is here of passion by accident is everywhere that
great tragedies are done. It is not the evil in man's heart more than
the deep perfidy of circumstance that brings him to crime.



CHAPTER XXI

THE VOICE IN THE NIGHT


However bleak the night, however dark the mood of the world might be,
there was a room in Ballamona that was bright with one beautiful human
flower in bloom. Mona was there--Mona of the quiet eyes and the silent
ways and the little elfish head. It was Christmas Eve with her as with
other people, and she was dressing the house in hibbin and hollin from a
great mountain of both that Hommy-beg had piled up in the hall. She was
looking very smart and happy that night in her short body of homespun
turned in from neck to waist, showing a white habit-shirt and a white
handkercheif crossed upon it; a quilted overskirt and linen apron that
did not fall so low as to hide the open-work stockings and the
sandal-shoes. Her room, too, was bright and sweet, with its glowing fire
of peat and logs on the wide hearth, its lamp on the square oak table,
and the oak settle drawn up between them.

In one corner of the settle, bubbling and babbling and spluttering and
cooing amid a very crater of red baize cushions, was Mona's
foster-child, Ewan's motherless daughter, lying on her back and fighting
the air with clinched fists.

While Mona picked out the hibbin from the hollin, dissected both, made
arches and crosses and crowns and rosettes, and then sprinkled flour to
resemble snow on the red berries and the green leaves, she sung an old
Manx ballad in snatches, or prattled to the little one in that
half-articulate tongue that comes with the instinct of motherhood to
every good woman that God ever makes.

    I rede ye beware of the Carrasdoo men
    As ye come up the wold;
    I rede ye beware of the haunted glen--

But a fretful whimper would interrupt the singer.

"Hush, hush, Ailee darling--hush."

The whimper would be hushed, and again there would be a snatch of the
ballad:

    In Jorby curragh they dwell alone
    By dark peat bogs, where the willows moan,
    Down in a gloomy and lonely glen--

Once again the whimper would stop the song.

"Hush, darling; papa is coming to Ailee, yes; and Ailee will see papa,
yes, and papa will see Ailee, yes, and Ailee--"

Then a long, low gurgle, a lovely head leaning over the back of the
settle and dropping to the middle of the pillow like a lark to its nest
in the grass, a long liquid kiss on the soft round baby legs, and then a
perfect fit of baby laughter.

It was as pretty a picture as the world had in it on that bleak
Christmas Eve. Whatever tumult might reign without, there within was a
nest of peace.

Mona was expecting Ewan at Ballamona that night, and now she was waiting
for his coming. It was true that when he was there three hours ago it
was in something like anger that they had parted, but Mona recked
nothing of that. She knew Ewan's impetuous temper no better than his
conciliatory spirit. He would come to-night, as he had promised
yesterday, and if there had been anger between them it would then be
gone.

Twenty times she glanced at the little clock with the lion face and the
pendulum like a dog's head that swung above the ingle. Many a time, with
head aslant, with parted lips, and eyes alight, she cried "Hark!" to the
little one when a footstep would sound in the hall But Ewan did not
come, and meantime the child grew more and more fretful as her bedtime
approached. At length Mona undressed her and carried her off to her crib
in the room adjoining, and sang softly to her while she struggled hard
with sleep under the oak hood with the ugly beasts carved on it, until
sleep had conquered and all was silence and peace. Then, leaving a
tallow dip burning on the table between the crib and the bed, lest
perchance the little one should awake and cry from fear of the darkness,
Mona went back to her sitting-room to finish off the last bunch of the
hibbin and hollin.

The last bunch was a bit of prickly green, with a cluster of the reddest
berries, and Mona hung it over a portrait of her brother, which was
painted by a great artist from England when Ewan was a child. The
Deemster had turned the portrait out of the dining-room after the
painful interview at Bishop's Court about the loan and surety, and Mona
had found it, face to the wall, in a lumber-room. She looked at it now
with a new interest. When she hung the hollin over it she recognized for
the first time a resemblance to the little Aileen whom she had just put
to bed. How strange it seemed that Ewan had once been a child like
Aileen!

Then she began to feel that Ewan was late in coming, and to make
conjectures as to the cause of his delay. Her father's house was fast
becoming a cheerless place to her. More than ever the Deemster was lost
to her. Jarvis Kerruish, her stranger-brother, was her father's
companion; and this seemed to draw her closer to Ewan for solace and
cheer.

Then she sat on the settle to thread some loose berries that had fallen,
and to think of Dan--the high-spirited, reckless, rollicking,
headstrong, tender-hearted, thoughtless, brave, stubborn, daring, dear,
dear Dan--Dan, who was very, very much to her in her great loneliness.
Let other people rail at Dan if they would; he was wrapped up with too
many of her fondest memories to allow of disloyalty like that. Dan would
yet justify her belief in him. Oh, yes, he would yet be a great man, all
the world would say it was so, and she would be very proud that he was
her cousin--yes, her cousin, or perhaps, perhaps--. And then, without
quite daring to follow up that delicious train of thought, even in her
secret heart, though none might look there and say if it was unmaidenly,
Mona came back to the old Manx ballad, and sang to herself another verse
of it:

    "Who has not heard of Adair, the youth?
    Who does not know that his soul was truth?
    Woe is me! how smoothly they speak,
    And Adair was brave, and a man, but weak."

All at once her hand went up to her forehead, and the words of the old
song seemed to have a new significance. Hardly had her voice stopped and
her last soft note ceased to ring in the quiet room, when she thought
she heard her own name called twice--"Mona! Mona!"

The voice was Ewan's voice, and it seemed to come from her bedroom. She
rose from the settle, and went into her room. There was no one there
save the child. The little one was disturbed in her sleep at the moment,
and was twisting restlessly, making a faint cry. It was very strange.
The voice had been Ewan's voice, and it had been deep and tremulous, as
the voice of one in trouble.

Presently the child settled itself to sleep, all was silent as before,
and Mona went back to the sitting-room. Scarcely was she seated afresh
when she heard the voice again, and it again called her twice by name,
"Mona! Mona!" in the same tremulous tone, but very clear and distinct.

Then tremblingly Mona rose once more and went into her room, for thence
the voice seemed to come. No one was there. The candle burned fitfully,
and suddenly the child cried in its sleep--that strange night-cry that
freezes the blood of one who is awake to hear it. It was very, very
strange.

Feeling faint, hardly able to keep on her feet, Mona went back to the
sitting-room and opened the door that led into the hall. No one seemed
to be stirring. The door of her father's study opposite was closed, and
there was talking--the animated talking of two persons--within.

Mona turned back, closed her door quietly, and then, summoning all her
courage, she walked to the window and drew the heavy curtains aside. The
hoops from which they hung rattled noisily over the pole. Putting her
face close to the glass, and shading her eyes from the light of the lamp
behind her, she looked out. She saw that the snow had fallen since the
lamp had been lit at dusk. There was snow on the ground, and thin snow
on the leafless boughs of the trees. She could see nothing else. She
even pushed up the sash, and called:

"Who is there?"

But there came no answer. The wind moaned about the house, and the sea
rumbled in the distance. She pulled the sash down again.

Then, leaving the curtain back, she turned again into the room, and
partly to divert her mind from the mysterious apprehensions that had
seized it, she sat down at the little harpsichord that stood on the
farther side of the ingle against the wall that ran at right angles from
the window.

At first her fingers ran nervously over the keys, but they gained force
as she went on, and the volume of sound seemed to dissipate her fears.

"It is nothing," she thought. "I have been troubled about what Ewan said
to-day, and I'm nervous--that is all."

And as she played her eyes looked not at the finger-board, but across
her shoulder toward the bare window. Then suddenly there came to her a
sensation that made her flesh creep. It was as if from the darkness
outside there were eyes which she could not see looking steadily in upon
her where she sat.

Her blood rushed to her head, she felt dizzy, the playing ceased, and
she clung by one hand to the candle-rest of the harpsichord. Then once
more she distinctly heard the same deep, tremulous voice call her by her
name--"Mona! Mona!"

Faint and all but reeling, she rose again, and again made her way to the
bedroom. As before, the child was restless in her sleep. It seemed as if
all the air were charged. Mona had almost fallen from fright, when all
at once she heard a sound that she could not mistake, and instantly she
recovered some self-possession.

It was the sound of the window of her sitting-room being thrown open
from without. She ran back, and saw Dan Mylrea climbing into the room.

"Dan!" she cried.

"Mona."

"Did you call?"

"When?"

"Now--a little while ago?"

"No."

A great trembling shook Dan's whole frame. Mona perceived it, and a
sensation of disaster not yet attained to the clearness of an idea took
hold of her.

"Where is Ewan?" she said.

He tried to avoid her gaze. "Why do you ask for him?" said Dan, in a
faltering voice.

"Where is he?" she asked again.

He grew dizzy, and laid hold of the settle for support. The question she
asked was that which he had come to answer, but his tongue clave to his
mouth.

Very pale and almost rigid from the heaviness of a great fear which she
felt but could not understand, she watched him when he reeled like a
drunken man.

"He has called me three times. Where is he? He was to be here to-night,"
she said.

"Ewan will not come to-night," he answered, scarcely audibly; "not
to-night, Mona, or to-morrow--or ever--no, he will never come again."

The horrible apprehension that had taken hold of her leaped to the
significance of his words, and, almost before he had spoken, a cry burst
from her.

"Ewan is dead--he is dead; Mona, our Ewan, he is dead," he faltered.

She dropped to the settle, and cried, in the excess of her first
despair, "Ewan, Ewan! to think that I shall see him no more!" and then
she wept. All the time Dan stood over her, leaning heavily to bear
himself up, trembling visibly, and with a look of great agony fixed upon
her, as if he had not the strength to turn his eyes away.

"Yes, yes, our Ewan is dead," he repeated in a murmur that came up from
his heart. "The truest friend, the fondest brother, the whitest soul,
the dearest, bravest, purest, noblest--O God! O God! dead, dead! Worse,
a hundredfold worse--Mona, he is murdered."

At that she raised herself up, and a bewildered look was in her eyes.

"Murdered? No, that is not possible. He was beloved by all. There is no
one who would kill him--there is no one alive with a heart so black."

"Yes, Mona, but there is," he said; "there is one man with a heart so
black."

"Who is he?"

"Who! He is the foulest creature on God's earth. Oh, God in heaven! why
was he born?"

"Who is he?"

He bowed his head where he stood before her and beads of sweat started
from his brow.

"Cursed be the hour when that man was born!" he said in an awful
whisper.

Then Mona's despair came upon her like a torrent, and she wept long. In
the bitterness of her heart she cried:

"Cursed indeed, cursed forever! Dan, Dan, you must kill him--you must
kill that man!"

But at the sound of that word from her own lips the spirit of revenge
left her on the instant, and she cried, "No, no, not that." Then she
went down on her knees and made a short and piteous prayer for
forgiveness for her thought. "O Father," she prayed, "forgive me. I did
not know what I said. But Ewan is dead! O Father, our dear Ewan is
murdered. Some black-hearted man has killed him. Vengeance is Thine.
Yes, I know that. O Father, forgive me. But to think that Ewan is gone
forever, and that base soul lives on. Vengeance is Thine; but, O Father,
let thy vengeance fall upon him. If it is Thy will, let Thy hand be on
him. Follow him, Father; follow him with Thy vengeance--"

She had flung herself on her knees by the settle, her upturned eyes wide
open, and her two trembling hands held above her head. Dan stood beside
her, and as she prayed a deep groan came up from his heart, his breast
swelled, and his throat seemed to choke. At last he clutched her by the
shoulders and interrupted her prayer, and cried, "Mona, Mona, what are
you saying--what are you saying? Stop, stop!"

She rose to her feet. "I have done wrong," she said, more quietly. "He
is in God's hands. Yes, it is for God to punish him."

Then Dan said, in a heart-rending voice:

"Mona, he did not mean to kill Ewan--they fought--it was all in the heat
of blood."

Once more he tried to avoid her gaze, and once more, pale and immovable,
she watched his face.

"Who is he?" she asked, with an awful calmness.

"Mona, turn your face away from me, and I will tell you," he said.

Then everything swam about her, and her pale lips grew ashy.

"Don't you know?" he asked in a whisper.

She did not turn her face, and he was compelled to look at her now. His
glaring eyes were fixed upon her.

"Don't you know?" he whispered again, and then, in a scarcely audible
voice, he said, "It was I, Mona."

At that she grew cold with horror. Her features became changed beyond
recognition. She recoiled from him, stretched her trembling hands before
her as if to keep him off.

"Oh, horror! Do not touch me!" she cried, faintly, through the breath
that came so hard.

"Do not spare me, Mona," he said in a great sob. "Do not spare me. You
do right not to spare me. I have stained my hands with your blood."

Then she sank to the settle, and held her head, while he stood by her
and told her all--all the bitter, blundering truth--and bit by bit she
grasped the tangled tale, and realized the blind passion and pain that
had brought them to such a pass, and saw her own unwitting share in it.

And he on his part saw the product of his headstrong wrath, and the
pitiful grounds for it, so small and so absurd as such grounds oftenest
are. And together these shipwrecked voyagers on the waters of life sat
and wept, and wondered what evil could be in hell itself if man in his
blindness could find the world so full of it.

And Dan cursed himself and said:

"Oh, the madness of thinking that if either were gone the other could
ever again know one hour's happiness with you, Mona. Ay, though the
crime lay hidden, yet would it wither and blast every hour. And now,
behold, at the first moment, I am bringing my burden of sin, too heavy
for myself, to you. I am a coward--yes, I am a coward. You will turn
your back upon me, Mona, and then I shall be alone."

She looked at him with infinite compassion, and her heart surged within
her as she listened to his voice of great agony.

"Ah me! and I asked God to curse you," she said. "Oh, how wicked that
prayer was! Will God hear it? Merciful Father, do not hear it. I did not
know what I said. I am a blind, ignorant creature, but Thou seest and
knowest best. Pity him, and forgive him. Oh, no, God will not hear my
wicked prayer."

Thus in fitful outbursts she talked and prayed. It was as if a tempest
had torn up every tie of her soul. Dan listened, and he looked at her
with swimming eyes.

"And do you pray for me, Mona?" he said.

"Who will pray for you if I do not? In all the world there will not be
one left to speak kindly of you if I speak ill. Oh, Dan, it will become
known, and every one will be against you."

"And can you think well of him who killed your brother?"

"But you are in such sorrow; you are so miserable."

Then Dan's great frame shook wofully, and he cried in his pain--"Mercy,
mercy, have mercy! What have I lost? What love have I lost?"

At that Mona's weeping ceased; she looked at Dan through her lashes,
still wet, and said in another tone:

"Dan, do not think me unmaidenly. If you had done well, if you had
realized my hopes of you, if you had grown to be the good and great man
I longed to see you, then, though I might have yearned for you, I would
rather have died with my secret than speak of it. But now, now that all
this is not so, now that it is a lost faith, now that by God's will you
are to be abased before the whole world--oh, do not think me unmaidenly,
now I tell you, Dan, that I love you, and have always loved you."

"Mona!" he cried, in a low, passionate tone, and took one step toward
her and held out his hands. There was an unspeakable language in her
face.

"Yes; and that where you go I must go also, though it were to disgrace
and shame--"

She had turned toward him lovingly, yearningly, with heaving breast.
With a great cry he flung his arms about her, and the world of pain and
sorrow was for that instant blotted out.

But all the bitter flood came rushing back upon them. He put her from
him with a strong shudder.

"We are clasping hands over a tomb, Mona. Our love is known too late. We
are mariners cast on a rock within a cable's length of harbor, but cut
off from it by a cruel sea that may never be passed. We are hopeless
within sight of hope. Our love is known in vain. It is a vision of what
might have been in the days that are lost forever. We can never clasp
hands, for, O God! a cold hand is between us, and lies in the hand of
both."

Then again she fell to weeping, but suddenly she arose as if struck by a
sudden idea.

"You will be taken," she said; "how can I have forgotten it so long? You
must fly from the island. You must get away to-night. To-morrow all will
be discovered."

"I will not leave the island," said Dan, firmly. "Can you drive me from
you?" he said, with a suppliant look. "Yes, you do well to drive me
away."

"My love, I do not drive you from me. I would have you here forever. But
you will be taken. Quick, the world is wide."

"There is no world for me save here, Mona. To go from you now is to go
forever, and I would rather die by my own hand than face such
banishment."

"No, no, not that; never, never that. That would imperil your soul, and
then we should be divided forever."

"It is so already, Mona," said Dan, with solemnity. "We are divided
forever--as the blessed are divided from the damned."

"Don't say that, don't say that."

"Yes, Mona," he said, with a fearful calmness, "we have thought of my
crime as against Ewan, as against you, myself, the world, and its law.
But it is a crime against God also, and surely it is the unpardonable
sin."

"Don't say that, Dan. There is one great anchor of hope."

"What is that, Mona?"

"Ewan is with God. At this moment, while we stand here together, Ewan
sees God."

"Ah!"

Dan dropped to his knees with awe at that thought, and drew off the cap
which he had worn until then, and bent his head.

"Yes, he died in anger and in strife," said Mona; "but God is merciful.
He knows the feebleness of His creatures, and has pity. Yes, our dear
Ewan is with God; now he knows what you suffer, my poor Dan; and he is
taking blame to himself and pleading for you."

"No, no; I did it all, Mona. He would not have fought. He would have
made peace at the last, but I drove him on. 'I can not fight, Dan,' he
said. I can see him saying it, and the sun was setting. No, it was not
fight, it was murder. And God will punish me, my poor girl. Death is my
just punishment--everlasting death."

"Wait. I know what is to be done."

"What, Mona?"

"You must make atonement."

"How?"

"You must give yourself up to justice and take the punishment of the
law. And so you will be redeemed, and God will forgive you."

He listened, and then said:

"And such is to be the end of our love, Mona, born in the hour of its
death. You, even you, give me up to justice."

"Don't say that. You will be redeemed by atonement. When Ewan was killed
it was woe enough, but that you are under God's wrath is worse than if
we were all, all slain."

"Then we must bid farewell. The penalty of my crime is death."

"No, no; not that."

"I must die, Mona. This, then, is to be our last parting."

"And even if so, it is best. You must make your peace with God."

"And you, my last refuge, even you send me to my death. Well, it is
right, it is just, it is well. Farewell, my poor girl; this is a sad
parting."

"Farewell."

"You will remember me, Mona?"

"Remember you? When the tears I shed for Ewan are dry, I shall still
weep for you."

There was a faint cry at that moment.

"Hush!" said Mona, and she lifted one hand.

"It is the child," she added. "Come, look at it."

She turned, and walked toward the bedroom. Dan followed her with
drooping head. The little one had again been restless in her sleep, but
now, with a long breath, she settled herself in sweet repose.

At sight of the child the great trembling shook Dan's frame again.
"Mona, Mona, why did you bring me here?" he said.

The sense of his crime came with a yet keener agony when he looked down
at the child's unconscious face. The thought flashed upon him that he
had made this innocent babe fatherless, and that all the unprotected
years were before her wherein she must realize her loss.

He fell to his knees beside the cot, and his tears rained down upon it.

Mona had lifted the candle from the table, and she held it above the
kneeling man and the sleeping child.

It was the blind woman's vision realized.

When Dan rose to his feet he was a stronger man.

"Mona," he said, resolutely, "you are right. This sin must be wiped
out."

She had put down the candle and was now trying to take his hand.

"Don't touch me," he said, "don't touch me."

He returned to the other room, and threw open the window. His face was
turned toward the distant sea, whose low moan came up through the dark
night.

"Dan," she murmured, "do you think we shall meet again?"

"Perhaps we are speaking for the last time, Mona," he answered.

"Oh, my heart will break!" she said. "Dan," she murmured again, and
tried to grasp his hand.

"Don't touch me. Not until later--not until--until _then_."

Their eyes met. The longing, yearning look in hers answered to the wild
light in his. She felt as if this were the last she was ever to see of
Dan in this weary world. He loved her with all his great, broken,
bleeding heart. He had sinned for her sake. She caught both his hands
with a passionate grasp. Her lips quivered, and the brave, fearless,
stainless girl put her quivering lips to his.

To Dan that touch was as fire. With a passionate cry he flung his arms
about her. For an instant her head lay on his breast.

"Now go," she whispered, and broke from his embrace. Dan tore himself
away, with heart and brain aflame. Were they ever to meet again? Yes. At
one great moment they were yet to stand face to face.

The night was dark, but Dan felt the darkness not at all, for the night
was heavier within him. He went down toward the creek. To-morrow he
would give himself up to the Deemster; but to-night was for
himself--himself and _it_.

He went by the church. A noisy company were just then trooping out of
the porch into the churchyard. There they gathered in little knots, lit
lanterns, laughed, and drank healths from bottles that were brought out
of their pockets.

It was the breaking up of the Oiel Verree.



CHAPTER XXII

ALONE, ALONE--ALL, ALL ALONE!


When Dan got down to the creek the little shed was full of the
fisher-fellows. There were Quilleash, Teare, Crennell, and the lad Davy.
The men wore their oilskins, as if they had just stepped out of the
dingey on the beach, and on the floor were three baskets of cod and ray,
as if they had just set them down. The fire of gorse was crackling on
the hearth, and Davy sat beside it, looking pale and ill. He had watched
Dan away from the shed, and then, trembling with fear, but girding up
his young heart to conquer it, he had crept back and kept guard by the
body.

"I couldn't give myself liberty to lave it," he said, half fearfully,
lifting his eyes to Dan's as Dan entered. Then the men, who in the first
moment of horror had asked Davy fifty questions, and got never an answer
to any of them, seemed to understand everything at once. They made way
for Dan, and he strode through them, and looked down at the body, for it
was still lying where he had left it. He said not a word.

When the men had time to comprehend in its awful fulness what had
occurred, they stood together and whispered, cast side looks at Dan, and
then long, searching looks at the body. The certainty that Ewan was dead
did not at first take hold of them. There was no mark of violence on the
body except the wound above the wrist, and suddenly, while the men stood
and looked down, the wound bled afresh. Then old Quilleash, who was
reputed to possess a charm to stop blood, knelt beside Ewan, and while
all looked on and none spoke, he whispered his spell in the deaf ear.

"A few good words can do no harm," said Crennell, the cook, who was a
Quaker.

Old Quilleash whispered again in the dead ear, and then he made a wild
command to the blood to cease flowing, in the name of the three godly
men who came to Rome--Christ, Peter, and Paul.

There was a minute of silence, and the blood seemed to stop. The men
trembled; Davy, the lad, grew more pale than before, and Dan stood as if
in a stupor, looking down and seeing all, yet seeing nothing.

Then the old man lifted his tawny face. "Cha marroo as clagh," he said,
in another hoarse whisper. "He is dead as a stone."

There was a deep groan from the throats of the men; they dropped aside,
and awe fell upon them. None of them spoke to Dan, and none questioned
the lad again; but all seemed to understand everything in some vague
way. Billy Quilleash sat on a block of a tree-trunk that stood at one
side, and there was silence for a space. Then the old man turned his
face to his mates and said, "I'm for a man sticking up for a frien', I
am."

At that there was an uneasy movement among the others.

"Aw, yes, though, a man should stick to his frien', he should, alow or
aloft, up or down," continued Billy; and after some twisting and
muttering among the other fisher-fellows he went on: "You have to summer
and winter a man before you know him, and lave it to us to know Mastha
Dan. We've shared meat, shared work with him, and d---- me sowl! nothing
will hould me, but I'll stand up for him now, sink or swim."

Then one of the fellows said "Ay," and another said "Ay," and a
third--it was Crennell--said, "A friend in need was more preciouser nor
goold;" and then old Billy half twisted his head toward Dan, but never
once lifted his eyes to Dan's face, and speaking at him but not to him,
said they were rough chaps maybe, and couldn't put out no talk at all,
never being used of it, but if there was somethin' wrong, as was plain
to see, and keepin' a quiet tongue in your head was the way it was
goin', and buckin' up for them as was afther buckin' up for his chums,
why, a frien' was a frien', and they meant to stand by it.

At that, these rough sea-dogs, with the big hearts in their broad
breasts, took hold of each other's hard hands in a circle about the body
of Ewan, whose white face looked up at them in its stony stare, and
there in the little lonely shed by the sea they made their mutual
pledge.

All that time Dan had stood and looked on in silence, and Davy, sitting
by the spluttering fire, sobbed audibly while Uncle Billy spoke.

"We must put it away," said old Billy, in a low tone, with his eyes on
the body.

"Ay," said Ned Teare.

"What's o'clock?"

"A piece past twelve."

"Half-flood. It will be near the turn of the ebb at three," said
Quilleash.

Not another word of explanation was needed, all understanding that they
must take the body of Ewan out to sea, and bury it there after three
o'clock next morning, so that, if it stirred after it was sent down to
its long home, it must be swept away over the Channel.

"Heise," said one, as he put his hand down to lift the body.

"Shoo!"

Dan himself stepped aside to let them pass out. He had watched their
movements with wide eyes. They went by him without a word. When they
were gone, he followed them mechanically, scarcely knowing what he did.
Davy went after him.

The fishermen stepped out into the night. In silence they carried the
body of Ewan to the dingey that lay on the beach. All got into the boat
and pushed off. It was very dark now, but soon they came athwart the
hawse of the "Ben-my-Chree," which was lying at anchor below low-water.
They pulled up, lifted the body over the gunwale, and followed it into
the fishing-boat.

"There's a good taste of a breeze," said old Quilleash.

In five minutes more they were standing out to sea, with their dread
freight of horror and crime. They had put the body to lie by the
hatchways, and again and again they turned their heads toward it in the
darkness. It was as though it might even yet stand up in their midst,
and any man at any moment might find it face to face with him, eye to
eye.

The wind was fresh outside. It was on their larboard quarter as they
made in long tacks for the north. When they were well away the men
gathered about the cockpit and began to mourn over Ewan, and to recount
their memories concerning him.

"Well, the young pazon's cruise is up, and a rael good man anyway."

"Aw, yes, there's odds of pazons, but the like of him isn't in."

"Poor Pazon Ewan," said Quilleash, "I remember him since he was a wee
skute in his mother's arms--and a fine lady too. And him that quiet, but
thinking a dale maybe, with his head a piece to starboard and his eyes
fixed like a figure-head, but more natheral, and tender uncommon. And
game too. Aw, dear, you should 'a seen him buck up to young Dan at
whiles."

"Game? A hot temper at him for all, and I wouldn't trust but it's been
the death of him."

"Well, man, lave it at that; lave it, man. Which of us doesn't lie ever
in a bit of a breeze aither to port or starboard? God won't be hard on
him for the temper. No, no, God'll never be hard on a warm heart because
it keeps company with a hot head."

"Aw, but the tender he was!" said Crennell, the Quaker. "And the voice
like an urgan when it's like a flute, soft and low, and all a-tremblin'!
D'ye mind the day ould Betty Kelly lost her little gel by the faver, the
one with the slander little stalk of a body, and the head like a flower,
and the eyes like a pair of bumbees playing in it? You mind her, the
millish? Well, young Pazon Ewan up and went to Ballig-beg immadietly,
and ould Betty scraming and crying morthal, and 'she'd die!' so she
would, and 'what for should you live?' but och, boy, the way the pazon
put out the talk at him, and the bit of a spell at the prayin'--aw, man
alive, he calked the seams of the ould body wonderful."

"The man was free, as free as free," said old Quilleash. "When he grew
up it was, 'How are you, Billy Quilleash?' And when he came straight
from the college at Bishop's Court, and all the larning at him, and the
fine English tongue, and all to that, it was 'And how are you to-day,
Billy?' 'I'm middlin' to-day, Mastha Ewan.' Aw, yes, yes, though, a
tender heart at him anyway, and no pride at all, at all."

The old man's memories were not thrilling to relate, but they brought
the tears to his eyes, and he wiped them away with his sleeve.

"Still a quick temper for all, and when his blood was up it was batten
down your hatches, my boys--a storm's coming," said Ned Teare.

All at once they turned their faces in the darkness to where Dan sat on
the battened hatches, his elbows on his knees, his head on his hands,
and a sort of shame took hold of them at all this praise of Ewan. It was
as if every word must enter into Dan's soul like iron. Then, hardly
knowing what they did, they began to beat about to undo the mischief.
They talked of the Deemster in his relation to his son.

"Deed on Ewan--there was not much truck atween them--the Deemster and
him. It wasn't natheral. It's like as if a sarpent crawled in his ould
sowl, the craythur, and spat out at the young pazon."

Then they talked of Jarvis Kerruish.

"Och, schemin' and plannin' reg'lar, and stirrin' and stirrin' and
stirrin' at the devil's own gruel."

"Aw, the Deemster's made many a man toe the mark, but I'm thinking he'll
have to stand to it when the big day comes. I'll go bail the ould
polecat's got summat to answer for in this consarn."

Dan said nothing. Alone, and giving no sign, he still sat on the hatches
near where the body lay, and, a little to aft of him, Davy Fayle was
stretched out on the deck. The lad's head rested on one hand, and his
eyes were fixed with a dog's yearning look on the dark outlines of Dan's
figure.

They were doubling the Point of Ayre, when suddenly the wind fell to a
dead calm. The darkness seemed to grow almost palpable.

"More snow comin'--let the boat driff," said old Billy Quilleash, and
the men turned into the cabin, only Dan and the body, with Davy, the
lad, remaining on deck.

Then, through the silence and the blank darkness, there was the sound of
large drops of rain falling on the deck. Presently there came a torrent
which lasted about ten minutes. When the rain ceased the darkness lifted
away, and the stars came out. This was toward two o'clock, and soon
afterward the moon rose, but before long it was concealed again by a
dense black turret-cloud that reared itself upward from the horizon.

When Dan stepped aboard a dull, dense aching at his heart was all the
consciousness he had. The world was dead to him. He had then no clear
purpose of concealing his crime, and none of carrying out the atonement
that Mona had urged him to attempt. He was stunned. His spirit seemed to
be dead. It was as though it could awake to life again only in another
world. He had watched old Billy when he whispered into Ewan's deaf ear
the words of the mystic charm. Without will or intention he had followed
the men when they came to the boat. Later on a fluttering within him
preceded the return of the agonizing sense. Had he not damned his own
soul forever? That he had taken a warm human life; that Ewan, who had
been alive, lay dead a few feet away from him--this was nothing to the
horrible thought that he himself was going, hot and unprepared, to an
everlasting hell. "Oh, can this thing have happened?" his bewildered
mind asked itself a thousand times as it awoke as often from the
half-dream of a paralyzed consciousness. Yes, it was true that such a
thing had occurred. No, it was not a nightmare. He would never awake in
the morning sunlight and smile to know that it was not true. No, no,
true, true, true it was, even until the Day of Judgment, and he and Ewan
stood once more face to face, and the awful voice would cry aloud, "Go,
get thee hence."

Then Dan thought of Mona, and his heart was nigh to breaking. With a
dumb longing his eyes turned through the darkness toward the land, and
while the boat was sailing before the wind it seemed to be carrying him
away from Mona forever. The water that lay between them was as the river
that for all eternity would divide the blessed and the damned.

And while behind him the men talked, and their voices fell on his ear
like a dull buzz, the last ray of his hope was flying away. When Mona
had prompted him to the idea of atonement, it had come to him like a
gleam of sunlight that, though he might never, never clasp her hands on
earth, in heaven she would yet be his, to love for ever and ever. But
no, no, no; between them now the great gulf was fixed.

Much of this time Dan lay on the deck with only the dead and the lad
Davy for company, and the fishing-boat lay motionless with only the lap
of the waters about her. The stars died off, the darkness came again,
and then, deep in the night, the first gray streaks stretching along the
east foretold the dawn. Over the confines of another night the soft
daylight was about to break, but more utterly lonely, more void, to Dan,
was the great waste of waters now that the striding light was chasing
the curling mists than when the darkness lay dead upon it. On one side
no object was visible on the waters until sky and ocean met in that
great half-circle far away. On the other side was the land that was once
called home.

When the gray light came, and the darkness ebbed away, Dan still sat on
the hatches, haggard and pale. Davy lay on the deck a pace or two aside.
A gentle breeze was rising in the southwest. The boat had drifted many
miles, and was now almost due west off Peeltown, and some five miles out
to sea. The men came up from below. The cold white face by the hatchway
looked up at them, and at heaven.

"We must put it away now," said Billy Quilleash.

"Ay, it's past the turn of the ebb," said Crennell.

Not another word was spoken. A man went below and brought up an old
sail, and two heavy iron weights, used for holding down the nets, were
also fetched from the hold. There was no singing out, no talking.
Silently they took up what lay there cold and stiff, and wrapped it in
canvas, putting one of the weights at the head and another at the feet.
Then one of the men--it was old Billy himself, because he had been a
rigger in his young days--sat down with a sail-maker's needle and
string, and began to stitch up the body in the sail.

"Will the string hold?" asked one.

"It will last him this voyage out--it's a short one," said old Billy.

Awe and silence sat on the crew. When all was made ready, the men
brought from below a bank-board used for shooting the nets. They lifted
the body on to it, and then with the scudding-pole they raised one end
of the board on to the gunwale. It was a solemn and awful sight.
Overhead the heavy clouds of night were still rolling before the dawn.

Dan sat on the hatches with his head in his hands and his haggard face
toward the deck. None spoke to him. A kind of awe had fallen on the men
in their dealings with him. They left him alone. Davy Fayle had got up
and was leaning against the mitch-board. All hands else gathered round
the bank-board and lifted their caps. Then old Quilleash went down on
one knee and laid his right hand on the body, while two men raised the
other end of the board. "_Dy bishee jeeah shin_--God prosper you,"
murmured the old fisherman.

"God prosper you," echoed the others, and the body of Ewan slid down
into the wide waste of waters.

And then there occurred one of those awful incidents which mariners say
have been known only thrice in all the strange history of the sea.
Scarcely had the water covered up the body, when there was a low rumble
under the wave-circles in which it had disappeared. It was the noise of
the iron weights slipping from their places at the foot and at the head.
The stitching was giving away, and the weights were tearing open the
canvas in which the body was wrapped. In another minute these weights
had rolled out of the canvas and sunk into the sea. Then a terrible
thing happened. The body, free of the weights that were to sink it, rose
to the surface. The torn canvas, not yet thoroughly saturated, opened
out, and spread like a sail in the breeze that had risen again. The tide
was not yet strong, for the ebb had only just begun, and the body,
floating on the top of the water like a boat began to drive athwart the
hawse of the fishing-boat straight for the land. Nor was the marvel
ended yet. Almost instantly a great luminous line arose and stretched
from the boat's quarter toward the island, white as a moon's waterway,
but with no moon to make it. Flashing along the sea's surface for
several seconds, it seemed to be the finger of God marking the body's
path on the waters. Old mariners, who can interpret aright the signs of
sea and sky, will understand this phenomenon if they have marked closely
what has been said of the varying weather of this fearful night.

To the crew of the "Ben-my-Chree" all that had happened bore but one
awful explanation. The men stood and stared into each other's faces in
speechless dismay. They strained their eyes to watch the body until--the
strange light being gone--it became a speck in the twilight of the dawn
and could be seen no more. It was as though an avenging angel had torn
the murdered man from their grasp. But the worst thought was behind, and
it was this: the body of Ewan Mylrea would wash ashore, the murder would
become known, and they themselves, who had thought only to hide the
crime of Dan Mylrea, would now, in the eyes of the law, become
participators in that crime or accessories to it.

Dan saw it all, and in a moment he was another man. He read that
incident by another light. It was God's sign to the guilty man, saying,
"Blood will have blood." The body would not be buried; the crime would
not be hidden. The penalty must be paid. Then in an instant Dan thrust
behind him all his vague fears, and all his paralyzing terrors.
Atonement! atonement! atonement! God himself demanded it. Dan leaped to
his feet and cried: "Come, my lads, we must go back--heave hearty and
away."

It was the first time Dan had spoken that night, and his voice was awful
in the men's ears.



CHAPTER XXIII

ALONE ON A WIDE, WIDE SEA


The wind strengthened, and the men hoisted sail and began to beat into
the island. The breeze filled the canvas, and for half an hour the jib
lay over the side, while the fishing-boat scudded along like a startled
bird. The sun rose over the land, a thin gauze obscuring it. The red
light flashed and died away, and fanned the air as if the wind itself
were the sunshine. The men's haggard faces caught at moments a lurid
glow from it. In the west a mass of bluish cloud rested a little while
on the horizon, and then passed into a nimbus of gray rain-cloud that
floated above it. Such was the dawn and sunrise of a fateful day.

Dan stood at the helm. When the speck that had glided along the waters
like a spectre boat could be no more seen, he gazed in silence toward
the eastern light and the green shores of morning. Then he had a sweet
half-hour's blessed respite from terrible thoughts. He saw calmly what
he had done, and in what a temper of blind passion he had done it.
"Surely God is merciful," he thought, and his mind turned to Mona. It
relieved him to think of her. She intertwined herself with his yearning
hope of pardon and peace. She became part of his scheme of penitence.
His love for her was to redeem him in the Father's eye. He was to take
it to the foot of God's white throne, and when his guilt came up for
judgment, he was to lay it meekly there, and look up into the good
Father's face.

The crew had now recovered from their first consternation, and were no
longer obeying Dan's orders mechanically. They had come aboard with no
clear purpose before them, except that of saving their friend; but
nature is nature, and a pitiful thing at the best, and now every man
began to be mainly concerned about saving himself. One after one they
slunk away forward and sat on the thwart, and there they took counsel
together. The wind was full on their starboard beam, the mainsail and
yawl were bellied out, and the boat was driving straight for home. But
through the men's half-bewildered heads there ran like a cold blast of
wind the thought that home could be home no longer. The voices of girls,
the prattle of children, the welcome of wife, the glowing hearth--these
could be theirs no more. Davy Fayle stayed aft with Dan, but the men
fetched him forward and began to question him.

"'Tarprit all this mysterious trouble to us," they said.

Davy held down his head and made no answer.

"You were with him--what's it he's afther doin'?"

Still no answer from the lad.

"Out with it, you cursed young imp," said old Billy.

"Damn his fool's face, why doesn't he spake?"

"It's the mastha's saycret, and I wunnit tell it," said Davy.

"You wunnit, you idiot waistrel?"

"No, I wunnit," said Davy, stoutly.

"Look here, ye beachcomber, snappin' yer fingers at yer old uncle that's
after bringin' you up, you pauper--what was it goin' doin' in the shed
yander?"

"It's his saycret," repeated Davy.

Old Billy took Davy by the neck as if he had been a sack with an open
mouth, and brought down his other hand with a heavy slap on the lad's
shoulder.

"Gerr out, you young devil," he said.

Davy took the blow quietly, but he stirred not an inch, and he turned on
his uncle with great wide eyes.

"Gerr out, scollop eyes;" and old Billy lifted his hand again.

"Aisy, aisy," said Crennell, interposing; and then, while Davy went back
aft, the men compared notes again.

"It's plain to see," said Ned Teare, "it's been a quarrel and maybe a
fight, and he's had a piece more than the better, as is only natheral,
and him a big strapping chap as strong as a black ox and as straight as
the backbone of a herring, and he's been in hidlins, and now he's afther
takin' a second thought, and goin' back and chance it."

This reading of the mystery commended itself to all.

"It's aisy for him to lay high like that," said Ned again. "If I was the
old Bishop's son I'd hould my luff too, and no hidlins neither. But
we've got ourselves in for it, so we have, and we're the common sort, so
we are, and there's never no sailin' close to the wind for the like of
us."

And to this view of the situation there were many gruff assents. They
had come out to sea innocently enough and by a kindly impulse, but they
had thereby cast in their lot with the guilty man; and the guilty man
had favor in high places, but they had none. Then their tousled heads
went together again.

"What for shouldn't we lay high, too?" whispered one, which, with other
whispers, was as much as to say, why should they not take the high hand
and mutiny, and put Dan into irons, and turn the boat's head and stand
out to sea? Then it would be anywhere, anywhere, away from the crime of
one, and the guilt of all.

"Hould hard," said old Billy Quilleash, "I'll spake to himself."

Dan, at the tiller, had seen when the men went forward, and he had also
seen when some of them cast sidelong looks over their shoulders in his
direction. He knew--he thought he knew--the thought wherewith their
brave hearts were busy. They were thinking--so thought Dan--that if he
meant to throw himself away they must prevent him. But they should see
that he could make atonement. Atonement? Empty solace, pitiful unction
for a soul in its abasement, but all that remained to him--all, all.

Old Quilleash went aft, sidled up to the helm, and began to speak in a
stammering way, splicing a bit of rope while he spoke, and never lifting
his eyes to Dan's face.

"What for shouldn't we gerr away to Shetlands?" he said.

"Why to Shetlands?" asked Dan.

"Aw, it's safe and well we'll be when we're there. Aw, yes, I've been
there afore to-day. They're all poor men there, but right kind; and
what's it sayin', 'When one poor man helps another poor man, God
laughs.'"

Dan thought he saw into the heart of the old fellow. His throat grew
hard and his eyes dim, and he twisted his face away, keeping one hand on
the tiller. They should yet be justified of their loyalty, these stout
sea-dogs--yes, God helping him.

"No, no, Billy," he said, "there's to be no running away. We're going
back to see it out."

At that old Quilleash threw off some of his reserve.

"Mastha Dan," he said, "we came out to sea just to help you out of this
jeel, and because we've shared work, shared meat with you, and a frien'
should stand to a frien'; but now we're in for it too, so we are, and
what you'll have to stand to we'll have to stand to, and it'll be
unknownst to the law as we are innocent as kittens; and so it's every
man for himself and God for us all."

Then Dan understood them--how had he been blind so long to their
position?

"You want me to put about; is that it?" he asked.

Old Quilleash nodded his head, still keeping his eyes down.

"You think you'll be taken with me?"

Old Quilleash made an abashed mutter of assent. "Aw, yes, as 'cessories
before the fac's," he added.

At that Dan's great purpose began to waver.

"Don't fear, Billy," he said, "I'll speak up for you."

"And what'll that go for? Nothin'. Haven't we been tryin' to put 'it'
away?"

"That's true."

It was a fearful situation. The cold sweat rose in big beads on Dan's
forehead. What had he done? He had allowed these brave fellows to cast
in their lot with him. They were with him now for good or ill. He might
say they were innocent, but what would his word avail? And he had no
proof. They had tried to cover up his crime; they could not cover it;
God had willed that the crime should not be hidden. And now, if he
wished to lose his life to save his soul, what right had he to take the
lives of these men also? The brave fellows had wives that waited for
them, and children that claimed their knees. Atonement? Empty heroics to
be bought at the price of the blood of five loyal fellows whose only
crime was that they had followed him. He had dressed himself in a proud
armor of self-sacrifice, but a righteous God, that sees into the heart
of man and hates pride and brings it to the dust, had stripped him
naked.

Dan's soul was in a turmoil. What should he do? On the one hand were
love, honor, Mona, even everlasting life; and on the other were five
innocent men. The agony of that moment was terrible. Atonement? God must
have set his face against it.

Dan's hand rested on the tiller, but there was no strength in his arm,
because there was now no resolve in his heart. The fishing-boat was
about three miles west of Jurby Point, going well before the wind. In
half an hour more it would run into the creek. It was now to act or
never. What was he to do? What? What?

It was, then, in that moment of awful doubt, when the will of a strong
man might have shriveled up, that nature herself seemed to give the
answer.

All at once the wind fell again to a dead calm. Then Dan knew, or seemed
to know, that God was with the men, and against him. There was to be no
atonement. No, there was to be no proud self-sacrifice.

Dan's listless hand dropped from the tiller, and he flung himself down
in his old seat by the hatches. The men looked into each other's faces
and smiled a grisly smile. The sails flapped idly; the men furled them,
and the boat drifted south.

The set of the tide was still to ebb, and every boat's length south took
the boat a fathom farther out to sea. This was what the men wanted, and
they gathered in the cockpit, and gave way to more cheerful spirits.

Dan lay by the hatches, helpless and hopeless, and more haggard and pale
than before. An unearthly light now fired his eyes, and that was the
first word of a fearful tale. A witch's Sabbath, a devil's revelry, had
begun in his distracted brain. It was as though he were already a being
of another world. In a state of wild hallucination he saw his own
spectre, and he was dead. He lay on the deck; he was cold; his face was
white, and it stared straight up at the sky. The crew were busy about
him; they were bringing up the canvas and the weights. He knew what they
were going to do; they were going to bury him in the sea.

Then a film overspread his sight, and when he awoke he knew that he had
slept. He had seen his father and Mona in a dream. His father was very
old, the white head was bent, and the calm, saintly gaze was fixed upon
him. There was a happy thought in Mona's face. Everything around her
spoke of peace. The dream was fresh and sweet and peaceful to Dan when
he woke where he lay on the deck. It was like the sunshine and the
caroling of birds and the smell of new-cut grass. Was there no dew in
Heaven for parched lips, no balm for the soul of a man accursed?

Hours went by. The day wore on. A passing breath sometimes stirred the
waters, and again all was dumb, dead, pulseless peace. Hearing only the
faint flap of the rippling tide, they drifted, drifted, drifted.

Curious and very touching were the changes that came over the feelings
of the men. They had rejoiced when they were first becalmed, but now
another sense was uppermost. The day was cold to starvation. Death was
before them--slow, sure, relentless death. There could be no jugglery.
Then let it be death at home rather than death on this desert sea!
Anything, anything but this blind end, this dumb end, this dying bit by
bit on still waters. To see the darkness come again, and the sun rise
afresh, and once more the sun sink and the darkness deepen, and still to
lie there with nothing around but the changeless sea, and nothing above
but the empty sky, and only the eye of God upon them, while the winds
and the waters lay in His avenging hands--let it rather be death, swift
death, just or unjust.

Thus despair took hold of them, and drove away all fear, and where there
is no fear there is no grace.

"_Share yn olk shione dooin na yn olk nagh nhione dooin_," said old
Billy, and that was the old Manx proverb that says that better is the
evil we know than the evil we do not know.

And with such shifts they deceived themselves, and changed their poor
purposes, and comforted their torn hearts.

The cold, thick, winter day was worn far toward sunset, and still not a
breath of wind was stirring. Gilded by the sun's hazy rays, the waters
to the west made a floor of bleared red. The fishing-boat had drifted
nearly ten miles to the south. If she should drift two miles more she
must float into the south-eastern current that flows under Contrary
Head. At the thought of that, and the bare chance of drifting into
Peeltown Harbor, a little of the vague sense of hopelessness seemed to
lift away. The men glanced across at Dan, and one murmured: "Let every
herring hang by its own gill;" and another muttered: "Every man to the
mill with his own sack."

Davy Fayle lay on the deck a few paces from Dan. The simple lad tried to
recall the good words that he had heard in the course of his poor,
neglected, battered life. One after one they came back to him, most of
them from some far-away dreamland, strangely bright with the vision of a
face that looked fondly upon him, and even kissed him tenderly. "Gentle
Jesus," and "Now I lay me down to sleep"--he could remember them both
pretty well, and their simple words went up with the supplicatory ardor
of his great-grown heart to the sky on which his eyes were bent.

The men lounged about, and were half frozen. No one cared to go below.
None thought of a fire. Silence and death were in their midst. Once
again their hearts turned to home, and now with other feelings. They
could see the island through the haze, and a sprinkling of snow dotted
its purple hills. This brought to mind the bright days of summer, and
out of their hopelessness they talked of the woods, and the birds, and
the flowers. "D'ye mind my ould mother's bit of a place up the glen,"
said Crennell, "an' the wee croft afore it swaying and a-flowing same as
the sea in the softest taste of a south breeze, and the red ling like a
rod of goold running up the hedge, and the fuchsia stretchin' up the
wall of the loft, and drooping its red wrack like blood, and the green
trammon atop of the porch--d'ye mind it?" And the men said "Ay," and
brushed their eyes with their sleeves. Each hard man, with despair
seated on his rugged face, longed, like a sick child, to lay his head in
the lap of home.

It was Christmas Day. Old Quilleash remembered this, and they talked of
Christmas Days gone by, and what happy times they had been. Billy began
to tell a humorous story of the two deaf men, Hommy-beg, the gardener,
and Jemmy Quirk, the schoolmaster, singing against each other at Oiel
Verree; and the old fellow's discolored teeth, with their many gaps
between, grinned horribly like an ape's between his frozen jaws when he
laughed so hard. But this was too tender a chord, and soon the men were
silent once more. Then, while the waters lay cold and clear and still,
and the sun was sinking in the west, there came floating to them from
the land, through the breathless air, the sound of the church bells
ringing at home.

It was the last drop in their cup. The poor fellows could bear up no
longer. More than one dropped his head to his knees and sobbed aloud.
Then old Quilleash, in a husky voice, and coarsely, almost swearing as
he spoke, just to hide his shame in a way, said, spitting from his quid,
"Some chap pray a spell." "Ay, ay," said another. "Aw, yes," said a
third. But no one prayed. "You, Billy," said Ned Teare. Billy shook his
head. The old man had never known a prayer. "It was Pazon Ewan that was
powerful at prayer," said Crennell. "You, Crennell." Crennell could not
pray.

All lay quiet as death around them, and only the faint sound of the
bells was borne to them as a mellow whisper. Then, from near where Dan
sat by the hatches, Davy Fayle rose silently to his feet. None had
thought of him. With the sad longing in his big, simple eyes, he began
to sing. This was what he sang:

    "Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
    Once for favored sinners slain."

The lad's voice, laden with tears, floated away over the great waters.
The men hung their heads, and were mute. The dried-up well of Dan's eyes
moistened at last, and down his hard face ran the glistening tears in
gracious drops like dew.



CHAPTER XXIV

"THERE'S GOLD ON THE CUSHAGS YET."


Then there came a breath of wind. At first it was soft as an angel's
whisper. It grew stronger, and ruffled the sea. Every man lifted his
eyes and looked at his mates. Each was struggling with a painful idea
that perhaps he was the victim of a delusion of the sense. But the chill
breath of the wind was indeed among them.

"Isn't it beginning to puff up from the sou'west?" asked Crennell, in an
uncertain whisper. At that old Quilleash jumped to his feet. The idea of
the supernatural had gone from him. "Now for the sheets and to make
sail," he cried, and spat the quid.

One after one the men got up and bustled about. Their limbs were
wellnigh frozen stiff. All was stir and animation in an instant. Pulling
at the ropes, the men had begun to laugh, yes, with their husky,
grating, tear-drowned voices, even to laugh through their grisly beards.
A gruesome sense of the ludicrous had taken hold of them. It was the
swift reaction from solemn thoughts. When the boat felt her canvas she
shook herself like a sea-bird trying her wings, then shot off at full
flight.

"Bear a hand there. Lay on, man alive. Why, you're going about like a
brewing-pan, old fellow. Pull, boy, pull. What are your arms for, eh?"
Old Quilleash's eyes, which had been dim with tears a moment ago,
glistened with grisly mischief. "Who hasn't heard that a Manxman's arms
are three legs?" he said with a hungry grin. How the men laughed! What
humor there was now in the haggard old saw!

"Where are you for, Billy?" cried Corkell.

"Peel, boy, Peel, d---- it, Peel," shouted Quilleash.

"Hurroo! Bould fellow! Ha, ha, he, he."

"Hurroo! There's gold on the cushags yet."

How they worked! In two minutes the mast was stepped, the mainsail and
mizzen were up, and they filled away and stood out. From the shores of
death they had sailed somehow into the waters of life, and hope was
theirs once more.

They began to talk of what had caused the wind. "It was the blessed St.
Patrick," said Corkell. St. Patrick was the patron saint of that sea,
and Corkell was more than half a Catholic, his mother being a fish-wife
from Kinsale.

"Saint Patrick be ----," cried Ned Teare, with a scornful laugh, and
they got to words and at length almost to blows.

Old Quilleash was at the tiller. "Drop it," he shouted, "we're in the
down stream for Contrary, and we'll be in harbor in ten minutes."

"God A'mighty! it's running a ten-knots tide," said Teare.

In less than ten minutes they were sailing under the castle islet up to
the wooden pier, having been eighteen hours on the water.

Not a man of the four had given a thought to Dan, whether he wished to
go back to the island, or to make a foreign port where his name and his
crime would be unknown. Only the lad Davy had hung about him where he
sat by the hatches. Dan's pale face was firm and resolute, and the dream
of a smile was on his hard-drawn lips. But his despair had grown into
courage, and he knew no fear at all.

The sun was down, the darkness was gathering, and through the day-mist
the dew fog was rising as the fishing-boat put to under the lee of a
lantern newly lighted, that was stuck out from the end of the pier on a
pole. The quay was almost deserted. Only the old harbor-master was
there, singing out, as by duty bound, his lusty oaths at their
lumberings. Never before did the old grumbler's strident voice sound so
musical as now, and even his manifest ill-temper was sweet to-night, for
it seemed to tell the men that thus far they were not suspected.

The men went their way together, and Dan went off alone. He took the
straightest course home. Seven long miles over a desolate road he
tramped in the darkness and never a star came out, and the moon, which
was in its last quarter, struggling behind a rack of cloud, lightened
the sky sometimes, but did not appear. As he passed through Michael he
noticed, though his mind was preoccupied and his perception obscure,
that the street was more that usually silent, and that few lights burned
behind the window-blinds. Even the low porch of the "Three Legs," when
Dan came to it, was deserted, and hardly the sound of a voice came from
within the little pot-house. Only in a vague way did these impressions
communicate themselves to Dan's stunned intelligence as he plodded
along, but hardly had he passed out of the street when he realized the
cause of the desolation. A great glow came from a spot in front of him,
as of many lanterns and torches burning together, and though in his
bewilderment he had not noticed it before, the lights lit all the air
about them. In the midst of these lights there came and went out of the
darkness the figures of a great company of people, sometimes bright with
the glare on their faces, sometimes black with the deep shadow of the
torchlight.

Obscure as his ideas were, Dan comprehended everything in an instant,
and, chilled as he was to the heart's core by the terrors of the last
night and day, his very bones seemed now to grow cold within him.

It was a funeral by torchlight, and these maimed rites were, by an
ancient usage, long disused, but here revived, the only burial of one
whose death had been doubtful, or whose body had washed ashore on the
same day.

The people were gathered on the side of the churchyard near to the high
road, between the road and the church. Dan crept up to the opposite
side, leaped the low cobble wall, and placed himself under the shadow of
the vestry by the chancel. He was then standing beneath the window he
had leaped out of in his effort to escape the Bishop on that Christmas
Eve long ago of his boyish freak at Oiel Verree.

About an open vault three of four mourners were standing, and, a little
apart from them a smoking and flickering torch cast its light on their
faces. There was the Bishop, with his snowy head bare and deeply bowed,
and there by his elbow was Jarvis Kerruish in his cloak and beaver, with
arms folded under his chin. And walking to and fro, from side to side,
with a quick nervous step, breaking out into alternate shrill cries and
harsh commands to four men who had descended into the vault, was the
little, restless figure of the Deemster. Behind these, and about them
was the close company of the people, with the light coming and going on
their faces, a deep low murmur, as of many whispers together, rising out
of their midst.

Dan shook from head to foot. His heart seemed to stand still. He knew on
what business the mourners were met; they were there to bury Ewan. He
felt an impulse to scream, and then another impulse to turn and fly. But
he could not utter the least cry, and quivering in every limb he could
not stir. Standing there in silence he clung to the stone wall with
trembling fingers.

The body had been lowered to its last home, and the short obsequies
began. The service for the dead was not read, but the Bishop stretched
out his hands above the open vault and prayed. Dan heard the words, but
it was as if he heard the voice only. They beat on his dazed, closed
mind as a sea-gull, blown by the wind, beats against a window on a
stormy night. While the Bishop prayed in broken accents, the deep thick
boom of the sea came up from the distant shore between the low-breathed
murmurs of the people.

Dan dropped to his knees, breathless and trembling. He tried to pray,
too, but no prayer would come. His mind was beaten, and his soul was
barren. His father's faltering voice ceased, and then a half-stifled
moan burst from his own lips. In the silence the moan seemed to fall on
every ear, and the quick ear of the Deemster was instantly arrested.
"Who's that?" he cried, and twisted about.

But all was still once more, and then the people began to sing. It was a
strange sight, and a strange sound: the torches, the hard furrowed faces
in the flickering light, the white-headed Bishop, the restless Deemster,
and the voices ringing out in the night over the open grave. And from
where he knelt Dan lifted his eyes, and by the light of the torches he
saw the clock in the church tower; the hands still stood at five.

He rose to his feet and turned away. His step fell softly on the grass
of the churchyard. At one instant he thought that there were footsteps
behind him. He stopped and stretched his arms half-fearfully toward the
sound. There was nothing. After he had leaped the cobble wall, he was
conscious that he had stopped again, and was listening as though to
learn if he had been observed.



CHAPTER XXV

A RESURRECTION INDEED


And now a strange accident befell him--strange enough in itself,
mysterious in its significance, and marvelous as one of God's own
miracles in its results. He was going to give himself up to the Deemster
at Ballamona, but he did not any longer take the high road through the
village, for he shrank from every human face. Almost without
consciousness he followed the fenceless cart-track that went by the old
lead mine known as the Cross Vein. The disused shaft had never been
filled up and never even enclosed by a rail. It had been for years a
cause of anxiety, which nothing but its remoteness on the lone waste of
the headland had served to modify. And now Dan, who knew every foot of
the waste, and was the last man to whom danger from such an occasion
might have been feared, plodding along with absent mind in the darkness,
fell down the open shaft.

The shaft was forty-five fathoms deep, yet Dan was not so much as hurt.
At the bottom were nearly twenty-five fathoms of water, the constant
drainage of the old workings, which rose almost to the surface, or
dropped to a great depth, according to weather. This had broken his
fall. On coming to the surface, one stroke in the first instance of
dazed consciousness had landed him on a narrow ledge of rock that raked
downward from the seam. But what was his position when he realized it?
It seemed to be worse than death itself; it was a living death; it was
burial in an open grave.

Hardly had he recovered his senses when he heard something stirring
overhead. Were they footsteps, those thuds on the ear, like the first
rumble of a distant thunder-cloud? In the agony of fear he tried to
call, but his tongue clave to his mouth. Then there was some talking
near the mouth of the shaft. It came down to him like words shouted
through a black, hollow, upright pillar.

"No use, men," said one speaker, "not a foot farther after the best man
alive. It's every man for himself now, and I'll go bail it's after
ourselves they'll be going next."

And then another voice, laden with the note of pain, cried, "But they'll
take him, Uncle Billy, they'll take him, and him knowin' nothing'."

"Drove it, drove it! Come along, man alive. Lave the lad to this d--d
blather--you'd better. Let's make a slant for it. The fac's is agen us."

Dan shuddered at the sound of human voices. Buried, as he was,
twenty-five fathoms beneath the surface, the voices came to him like the
voice that the wind might make on a tempestuous night, if, as it reaches
your ear, it whispered words and fled away.

The men had gone. Who were they? What had happened? Dan asked himself if
he had not remembered one of the voices, or both. His mind was stunned
and he could not think. He could hardly be sure that in very truth he
was conscious of what occurred.

Time passed--he knew not how long or short--and again he heard voices
overhead, but they were not the voices that he had heard before.

"I apprehend that they have escaped us. But they were our men
nevertheless. I have had advices from Peel that the boat put into the
harbor two hours ago."

"Mind the old lead shaft, sir."

Dan was conscious that a footstep approached the mouth of the shaft.

"What a gulf! Lucky we didn't tumble down."

There was a short laugh--as of one who was panting after a sharp run--at
the mouth of Dan's open grave.

"This was the way they took, sir; over the head toward the Curraghs.
They were not half wise, or they would have taken the mountains for it."

"They do not know that we are in pursuit of _them_. Depend upon it they
are following _him_ up to warn him. After all, it may have been his
voice that the Deemster heard in the churchyard. He is somewhere within
arm's reach. Let us push on."

The voices ceased, the footsteps died off. Forty feet of dull, dead rock
and earth had carried the sounds away in an instant. "Stop!" cried Dan,
in the hurry of fear. Despair made him brave; fear made him fearless.
There was no response. He was alone once more, but Death was with him.
Then in the first moment of recovered consciousness he knew whose voice
it was that he had heard last, and he thanked God that his call had not
been answered. It was the voice of Jarvis Kerruish. In agony of despair
Dan perceived that the first company of men had been Quilleash and the
fisher-fellows. What fatality had prevented him from crying aloud to the
only persons on earth who could have rescued and saved him? Dan realized
that his crime was known, and that he was now a hunted man.

It was then that he knew how hopeless was his plight. He must not cry
for help; he must stand still as death in his deep tomb. To be lifted
out of this pit by the men who were in search of him would be, as it
would seem, to be dragged from his hiding-place, and captured in a
feeble effort to escape. What then of his brave atonement? Who would
believe that he meant to make it? It would be a mockery at which the
veriest poltroon might laugh.

Dan saw now that death encircled him on every side. To remain in the pit
was death; to be lifted out of it was death no less surely; to escape
was hopeless. But not so soon is hope conquered when it is hope of life.
Cry for help he must; be dragged out of this grave he should, let the
issue be what it could or would. To lie there and die was not human. To
live was the first duty, the first necessity, be the price of life no
less than future death.

Dan looked up at the sky; it was a small square patch of leaden gray
against the impenetrable blackness of his prison-walls. Standing on the
ledge of the rock, and steadying himself with one hand, he lifted the
other cautiously upward to feel the sides of the shaft. They were of
rock, and were quite precipitous, but had rugged projecting pieces on
which it was possible to lay hold. As he grasped one of these, a
sickening pang of hope shot through him, and wounded him worse than
despair. But it was gone in an instant. The piece of rock gave way in
his hand, and tumbled into the water below him with a hollow splash. The
sides of the shaft were of crumbling stone!

It was then, in that blind laboring of despair, that he asked himself
why he should struggle with this last of the misfortunes that had
befallen him. Was life so dear to him? Not so, or, being dear, he was
willing to lay it down. Was he not about to deliver himself to the death
that must be the first punishment of his crime? And what, after all, was
there to choose between two forms of death? Nay, if he must die, who was
no longer worthy of life, better to die there, none knowing his way of
death, than to die on the gallows.

At that thought his hair rose from its roots. He had never rightly put
it to himself until now that if he had to die for the death of Ewan he
must die the death of hanging. That horror of hanging which all men have
was stronger in Dan than in most. With the grim vision before him of a
shameful and damning death it came to him to tell himself that better, a
thousand times better, was death in that living tomb than the death that
awaited him outside it. Then he thought of his father, and of the
abasement of that good man if so great a shame overtook his son, and
thereupon, at the same breath with a prayer to God that he might die
where he was, a horrible blasphemy bolted from his lips. He was in
higher hands than his own. God had saved him from himself. At least he
was not to die on the gallows. He had but one prayer now, and it cried
in its barrenness of hope, "Let me never leave this place!" His soul was
crushed as the moth that will never lift wing again.

But at that his agony took another turn. He reflected that, if God's
hand was keeping him from the just punishment of his crime, God was
holding him back from the atonement that was to wash his crime away. At
this thought he was struck with a great trembling. He wrestled with it,
but it would not be overcome. Had he not parted with Mona with the firm
purpose of giving himself up to the law? Yet at every hour since that
parting some impediment had arisen. First, there were the men in the
shed at the creek, their resolve to bury the body, and his own weak
acquiescence; then came the dead calm out at sea when he stood at the
tiller, and the long weary drifting on the wide waters; and now there
was this last strange accident. It was as if a higher will had willed it
that he should die before his atonement could be made. His spirit sank
yet lower, and he was for giving up all as lost. In the anguish of
despair he thought that in very deed it must be that he had committed
the unpardonable sin. This terrible idea clung to him like a leech at a
vein. And then it came to him to think what a mockery his dream of
atonement had been. What atonement could a bad man make for spilling the
blood of a good one? He could but send his own wasted life after a life
well spent. Would a righteous God take that for a just balance?
Mockeries of mockeries! No, no; let him die where he now was, and let
his memory be blotted out, and his sin be remembered no more.

He tried to compose himself, and pressed one hand hard at his breast to
quiet the laboring of his heart. He began to reckon the moments. In this
he had no object, or none save only that mysterious longing of a dying
man to know how the hour drags on. With the one hand that was free he
took out his watch, intending to listen for the beat of its seconds; but
his watch had stopped; no doubt it was full of water. His heart beat
loud enough. Then he went on to count--one, two, three. But his mind was
in a whirl, and he lost his reckoning. He found that he had stopped
counting, and forgotten the number. Whether five minutes or fifty had
passed, he could not be sure.

But time was passing. The wind began to rise. At first Dan felt nothing
of it as he stood in his deep tomb. He could hear its thin hiss over the
mouth of the shaft, and that was all. But presently the hiss deepened to
a sough. Dan had often heard of the wind's sob. It was a reality, and no
metaphor, as he listened to the wind now. The wind began to descend.
With a great swoop it came down the shaft, licked the walls, gathered
voice from the echoing water at the bottom, struggled for escape, roared
like a caged lion, and was once more sucked up to the surface, with a
noise like the breaking of a huge wave over a reef. The tumult of the
wind in the shaft was hard to bear, but when it was gone it was the
silence that seemed to be deafening. Then the rain began to fall. Dan
knew this by the quick, monotonous patter overhead. But no rain touched
him. It was driven aslant by the wind, and fell only against the
uppermost part of the walls of the shaft. Sometimes a soft thin shower
fell over him. It was like a spray from a cataract, except that the
volume of water from which it came was above and not beneath him.

It was then in the deadly sickness of fear that there came to Dan the
dread of miscarrying forever if he should die now. He seemed to see what
it was to die unredeemed. Not to be forgiven, but to be forever
accursed, to be cut off from the living that live in God's peace?--the
dead darkness of that doom stood up before him. Life had looked very
dear to him before, but what now of everlasting death? He was as one who
was dead before his death came. Live he could not, die he dared not. His
past life rose up in front of him, and he drank of memory's very dregs.
It was all so fearsome and strange that as he recalled its lost hours
one by one it was as if he were a stranger to himself. He saw himself,
like Esau, who for a morsel of meat had sold his birthright, and could
thereafter find no acceptance, though he sought it with tears. The
Scripture leaped to his mind which says, "It is a fearful thing to fall
into the hands of the living God."

And then from the past to the future his mind went on in a rapid and
ceaseless whirl. He saw himself fleeing as from the face of a dreadful
judge. Tossed with the terror of a dreadful doom, he saw his place in
the world, cold, empty, forsaken. He saw his old father, too, the
saintly Bishop, living under the burden of a thousand sorrows, while he
who was the life of the good man's life, but his no longer, was a
restless, wandering soul, coming as a cold blast of wind between him and
his heaven. That thought was the worst terror of all, and Dan heard a
cry burst from his throat that roused echoes of horror in the dark pit.

Then, as if his instinct acted without help from his mind, Dan began to
contemplate measures for escape. That unexpected softness of the rock
which had at first appalled him began now to give him some painful
glimmerings of hope. If the sides of the shaft had been of the slate
rock of the island the ledge he had laid hold of would not have crumbled
in his hand. That it was soft showed that there must be a vein of
sandstone running across the shaft. Dan's bewildered mind recalled the
fact that Orris Head was a rift of red sand and soft sandstone. If this
vein were but deep enough his safety was assured. He could cut niches
into it with a knife, and so, perhaps, after infinite pain and labor,
reach the surface.

Steadying himself with one hand, Dan felt in his pockets for his knife.
It was not there! Now indeed his death seemed certain. He was icy cold
and feverishly hot at intervals. His clothes were wet; the water still
dripped from them, and fell into the hidden tarn beneath in hollow
drops. But not to hope now would have been not to fear. Dan remembered
that he had a pair of small scissors which he had used three days ago in
scratching his name on the silver buckle of his militia belt. When
searching for his knife he had felt it in his pocket, and spurned it for
resembling the knife to the touch of his nervous fingers. Now, it was to
be his sole instrument. He found it again, and with this paltry help he
set himself to his work of escape from the dark, deep tunnel that stood
upright.

The night was wearing on; hour after hour went by. The wind dropped; the
rain ceased to patter overhead. Dan toiled on step over step. Resting
sometimes on the largest and firmest of the projecting ledges, he looked
up at the sky. The leaden gray had changed to a dark blue, studded with
stars. The moon arose very late, being in its last quarter, and much
beset by rain-clouds. It shone a little way down the shaft, lighting all
the rest. Dan knew it must be early morning. One star, a large, full
globe of light, twinkled directly above him. He sat long and watched it,
and turned again and again in his toilsome journey to look at it. At one
moment it crept into his heart that the star was a symbol of hope to
him. Then he twisted back to his work, and when he looked again the star
was gone--it had moved beyond his ken, it had passed out of the range of
his narrow spot of heaven. Somehow, it had been a mute companion.

Dan's spirit sank in his cheerless solitude, but he toiled on. His
strength was far spent. The moon died off, and the stars went out one
after one. Then a deep cloud of darkness overspread the little sky
above. Dan knew it must be the darkness that precedes the dawn. He had
reached a ledge of rock that was wider than any of the ledges that were
beneath it. Clearly enough a wooden rafter had lain along it. Dan rested
and looked up. At that moment he heard the light patter of little feet
overhead. It was a stray sheep, a lamb of last year's flock, wandering
and lost. Though he could not see it, he knew it was there, and it
bleated down the shaft. The melancholy cry of the lost creature in that
dismal place touched a seared place on Dan's heart, and made the tears
which he had not shed until now to start from his eyes. What old memory
did it awaken? He could not recall it at first, but then he remembered
the beautiful story which he had heard many times of the lost lamb that
came to the church porch at the christening of Ewan. Was it strange that
there and then his thoughts turned to Ewan's child, the babe that was
innocent of its great sorrows to come? He began to wish himself a little
child again, walking by his father's hand, with all the years rolled
back, and all the transgressions of the years blotted out as a cloud,
and with a new spirit sweet and fresh, where now was a spirit seared and
old, and one great aching wound. In a moment the outcast lamb went off,
sending up, as it went, its pitiful cry into the night. Dan was alone
once more, but that visitation had sweetly refreshed his spirit.

Then it came back to him to think that of a surety it was not all one
whether he died where he was, never coming alive from his open tomb, or
died for his crime before the faces of all men. He must live, he must
live, though not for life's sake, but to rob death of its worst terrors.
And as for the impediments that had arisen to prevent the atonement on
which his mind was set, they were not from God to lay his soul outside
the reach of mercy, but from the devil to beset him and keep him back
from the washing away of his sin. This thought revived him, and he
turned to his task with a new resolve.

His fingers were chilled to the bone, and his clothes clung like damp
cerements to his body. The meagre blades of the scissors were worn
short; they could not last long. He rose to his feet on the ledge of
rock, and plunged the scissors into the blank wall above him, and at
that a fresh disaster seemed to overwhelm him. His hand went into soft
earth; the vein of rock had finished, and above it must be loose,
uncertain mold!

He gasped at the discovery. A minute since life had looked very dear.
Must he abandon his hopes after all? He might have been longer vexed
with this new fear, but that he recalled at that moment the words spoken
by Jarvis Kerruish as he went by on the road that ran near the mouth of
the shaft. Was it not clear that Quilleash and the fisher-fellows were
being pursued as his associates? Without his evidence to clear them,
would they not surely suffer, innocent though they might be, and even
though he himself lay dead in this place? Now, indeed, he saw that he
must of a certainty escape from this death in life, no difficulties
conquering him.

Dan paused and reflected. As nearly as he could remember, he had made
twenty niches in the rock. Hence, he must be fully thirty-five feet from
the water and ten from the surface. Only ten feet, and then freedom! Yet
these ten seemed to represent an impossibility. To ascend by holes dug
deep in the soft earth was a perilous enterprise. A great clod of soil
might at any moment give away above or beneath him, and then he would be
plunged once more into the pit. If he fell from the side of the shaft he
would be more likely than at first, when he fell from the top, to strike
on one of the projecting ledges and be killed before reaching the water.

There was nothing left but to wait for the dawn. Perhaps the daylight
would reveal some less hazardous method of escape. Slowly the dull,
dead, impenetrable blackness was lifted off. It was as though a spirit
had breathed on the night, and it fled away. When the woolly hue of
morning dappled his larger sky, Dan could hear the slow beat of the
waves on the shore. The coast rose up before his vision then, silent,
solemn, alone with the dawn. The light crept into his prison-house, and
he looked down at the deep black tarn beneath him.

And now hope rose in his hearth again. Overhead he saw timbers running
around and across the shaft. These had been used to bank up the earth,
and to make two grooves in which the ascending and descending cages had
once worked. Dan lifted up his soul in thankfulness. The world was once
more full of grace even for him. He could climb from stay to stay, and
so reach the surface. Catching one of the stays in his uplifted hands,
he swung his knee on to another. One stage he accomplished, and then how
stiff were his joints, and how sinewless his fingers! Another and
another stage he reached, and then four feet and no more were between
him and the gorse that waved in the light of the risen sun across the
mouth of his night-long tomb.

But the rain of years had eaten into these timbers. In some places they
crumbled, and were rotten. God! how the one on which he rested creaked
under him at that instant! Another minute, and then his toilsome journey
would be over. Another minute, and his dead self would be left behind
him, buried forever in this grave. Then there would be a resurrection in
very truth. Yes, truly, God helping him.

Half an hour later Dan Mylrea, with swimming eyes and a big heart, was
walking toward the Deemster at Ballamona. The flush of the sun newly
risen, and the brighter glory of a great hope newly born, was on his
worn and pallid cheek. What terrors had life for him now? It had none.
And very soon death also would lose its sting. Atonement! atonement! It
was even as he had thought: a wasted life for a life well spent, the
life of a bad man for the life of a good one, but all he had to
give--all, all!

And when he came to lay his offering at the merciful Father's feet it
would not be spurned.



CHAPTER XXVI

HOW EWAN CAME TO CHURCH


It is essential to the progress of this history that we should leave Dan
where he now is, in the peace of a great soul newly awakened, and go
back to the beginning of this Christmas Day on shore.

The parish of Michael began that day with all its old observances. While
the dawn of Christmas morning was struggling but feebly with the night
of Christmas-eve a gang of the baser sort went out with lanterns and
long sticks into the lanes, there to whoop and beat the bushes. It was
their annual hunting of the wren. Before the parish had sat down to its
Christmas breakfast two of these lusty enemies of the tiny bird were
standing in the street of the village with a long pole from shoulder to
shoulder and a wee wren suspended from the middle of it. Their brave
companions gathered round and plucked a feather from the wren's breast
now and again. At one side of the company, surrounded by a throng of
children, was Hommy-beg, singing a carol, and playing his own
accompaniment on his fiddle. The carol told a tragic story of an evil
spirit in the shape of a woman who pestered the island in the old days,
of how the people rose up against her to drive her into the sea, and of
how she turned herself into a wren, and all on the holy day of the
blessed Saint Stephen. A boy whose black eyes danced with a mischievous
twinkle held a crumpled paper upside down before the gardener, and from
this inverted text and score the unlettered cox-comb pretended to play
and sing. The women came to their doors to listen, and the men with
their two hands in their breeches-pockets leaned against the ends of
their houses and smoked and looked on sleepily.

When the noisy crowd had passed, the street sank back to its customary
repose, broken only by the voice of a child--a little auburn-haired
lassie, in a white apron tucked up in fish-wife fashion--crying,
"Shrimps, fine shrimps, fresh shrimps!" and then by a lustier voice that
drowned the little lassie's tones, and cried, "Conger--conger eel--fine,
ladies--fresh, ladies--and bellies as big as bishops! Conger
eel--conger!"

It was not a brilliant morning, but the sun was shining drowsily through
a white haze like a dew-fog that hid the mountains. The snow of the
night before was not quite washed away by the sharp rain of the morning;
it still lay at the eaves of the thatched houses, and among the cobbles
of the paved pathway. The blue smoke was coiling up through the thick
air from every chimney when the bells at Bishop's Court began to ring
for Christmas service. An old woman here and there came out of her cabin
in her long blue cape and her mutch, and hobbled along on a stick to
church. Two or three men in sea-boots, with shrimping nets over their
shoulders and pipes in their mouths, sauntered down the lane that led by
the shambles to the shore.

Half an hour later, while the bells were still ringing, and the people
were trooping into the chapel, the Bishop came out of his house and
walked down the path toward the vestry. He had a worn and jaded look
that morning, as if the night had gone heavily with him, but he smiled
when the women courtesied as they passed, and waved his hand when the
men fumbled their caps.

"Good-morning, and a merry Christmas to you," he said, as he went by the
open porch, to Will-as-Thorn, the parish clerk, who was tugging at the
bell-rope there, bareheaded, stripped to his sheepskin waistcoat with
its gray flannel sleeves, and sweating.

He hailed Billy the Gawk, too, the hoary old dog turned penitent in his
latter days. "A merry Christmas, Billy, and may you live to see many of
them yet, please God!"

Billy was leaning against the porch buttress and taking alms if any
offered them.

"Then it's not living it will be, my lord; it's lingering," said this
old Bartimeus.

And Jabez Gawne, the sleek little tailor, had the Bishop's salutation as
he passed on in the ancient cloak with many buttons.

"A merry Christmas to you, Jabez, and a good New Year."

"Aw, 'deed, my lord," said Jabez, with a face as long as a fiddle, "if
the New Year's no better than the ould one, what with quiet times and
high rents and the children's schooling, it's going on the houses I'll
be, middlin' safe."

"Nay, nay, remember our old saying, Jabez: The greater the calm the
nearer the south wind."

As the Bishop was turning in at the vestry door, blind Kerry and her
husband Hommy passed him, and he hailed them as he had hailed the
others.

"I'm taking joy to see you so hearty, my lord," said the blind woman.

"Yes, I'm well, on the whole, thank God!" said the Bishop; "and how are
you, Kerry?"

"I'm in, my lord--I'm in; but distracted mortal with the sights. Och,
sir, it's allis the sights, and the sights, and the sights; and it's
Mastha Dan that's in them still. This morning, bless ye, when I woke,
what should it be, behould ye, but a company of great ones from the big
house itself, going down to the churchyard with lanterns. Aw, 'deed it
was, sir, my lord, begging your pardon, though it's like enough you'll
think it's wake and a kind of silly, as the sayin' is."

The Bishop listened to the blind woman's garrulous tongue with a
downcast head and a look of pain, and said, in a subdued voice, as he
put his hand on the wooden latch of the vestry door:

"It is not for me to laugh at you, Kerry, woman. All night long I have
myself been tortured by an uneasy feeling, which would not be explained
or yet be put away. But let us say no more of such mysteries. There are
dark places that we may never hope to penetrate. Let it content us if,
in God's mercy and His wisdom, we can see the step that is at our feet."

So saying, the Bishop turned about and passed in at the door. Kerry and
her husband went into the chapel at the west porch.

"It's just an ould angel he is," whispered Kerry, reaching up to Hommy's
ear, as they went by Will-as-Thorn.

"Aw, yes, yes," said Hommy-beg, "a rael ould archangel, so he is."

And still the bells rang for service of Christmas morning.

Inside the chapel the congregation was larger than common. There was so
much hand-shaking and "taking of joy" to be gone through in the aisles
and the pews that Christmas morning that it was not at first
observed--except by malcontents like Billy the Gawk and Jabez Gawne, to
whom the wine of life was mostly vinegar--when the hour for beginning
the service had come and gone. The choir in the west gallery had taken
their places on either side of Will-as-Thorn's empty seat over the
clock, with the pitch-pipe resting on the rail above it, and opening
their books, they faced about for gossip. Then the bell stopped, having
rung some minutes longer than was its wont; the whispering was hushed
from pew to choir, and only the sound of the turning of the leaves of
many books disturbed the silence a moment afterward.

The Bishop entered the chancel, and while he knelt to pray, down like
corn before a south wind went a hundred heads on to the book-rail before
the wind of custom. When the Bishop rose there was the sound of
shuffling and settling in the pews, followed by some craning of necks in
his direction and some subdued whispering.

"Where is Pazon Ewan?"

"What's come of the young pazon?"

The Bishop sat alone in the chancel, and gave no sign of any intention
to commence the service. In the gallery, the choir, books in hand,
waited for Will-as-Thorn to take his seat over the clock; but his place
remained empty. Then, to the universal surprise, the bell began to ring
again. Steadily at first and timidly, and after that with lusty voice
the bell rang out over the heads of the astonished people. Forth-with
the people laid those same heads together and whispered.

What was agate of Pazon Ewan? Had he forgotten that he had to preach
that morning? Blind Kerry wanted to know if some of the men craythurs
shouldn't just take a slieu round to the ould Ballamona and wake him up,
as the saying is; but Mr. Quirk, in more "gintale" phraseology, as
became his scholastic calling, gave it out as probable that the young
pazon had only been making a "little deetower" after breakfast, and gone
a little too far.

Still the bell rang, and the uneasy shuffling in the pews grew more
noticeable. Presently, in the middle of an abridged movement of the iron
tongue in the loft, the head and shoulders of Will-as-Thorn appeared in
the opening of the green curtain that divided the porch from the body of
the chapel, and the parish clerk beckoned to Hommy-beg. Shambling to his
feet and down the aisle, Hommy obeyed the summons, and then, amid yet
more vigorous bobbing together of many heads in the pews, the
schoolmaster, not to be eclipsed at a moment of public excitement, got
up also and followed the gardener into the porch. The whispering had
risen to a sibilant hiss that deadened even the bell's loud clangor when
little Jabez Gawne himself felt a call to rise and go out after the
others.

All this time the Bishop sat motionless in the chancel, his head down,
his face rather paler than usual, his whole figure somewhat weak and
languid, as if continued suffering in silence and in secret had at
length taken the power of life out of him. Presently the bell stopped
suddenly, and almost instantly little Jabez, with a face as sharp as a
pen, came back to his pew, and Mr. Quirk also returned to his place,
shaking his head meantime with portentous gravity. A moment later
Will-as-Thorn appeared inside the communion-rail, having put on his coat
and whipped the lash comb through his hair, which now hung like a dozen
of wet dip-candles down his forehead straight for his eyes.

The dull buzz of gossip ceased, all was dead silence in the chapel, and
many necks were craned forward as Will-as-Thorn was seen to go up to the
Bishop and speak to him. Listening without much apparent concern, the
Bishop nodded his head once or twice, then rose immediately and walked
to the reading-desk. Almost at the same moment Will-as-Thorn took his
seat over the clock in the little west gallery, and straightway the
service began.

The choir sang the psalm which they had practised at the parish church
the evening before--"It is good for me that I have been in trouble, that
I may learn thy statutes." For the first of his lessons the Bishop read
the story of Eli and of Samuel, and of the taking by the Philistines of
the ark of the covenant of God. His voice was deep and measured, and
when he came to read of the death of Eli's sons, and of how the bad news
was brought to Eli, his voice softened and all but broke.

"And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the
same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.

"And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for
his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the
city, and told it, all the city cried out.

"And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the
noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli.

"Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he
could not see.

"And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I
fled to-day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?"

The Bishop preached but rarely now, and partly for the reverence they
always owed the good man, and partly for the reason that they did not
often hear him, the people composed themselves to a mood of sympathy as
he ascended the pulpit that Christmas morning. It was a beautiful sermon
that he gave them, and it was spoken without premeditation, and was
loose enough in its structure. But it was full of thought that seemed to
be too simple to be deep, and of emotion that was too deep to be
anything but simple. It touched on the life of Christ, from his birth in
Bethlehem to his coming as a boy to the Temple where the doctors sat,
and so on to the agony in the garden. And then it glanced aside, as
touchingly as irrelevantly, at the story of Eli and his sons, and the
judgment of God on Israel's prophet. In that beautiful digression the
Bishop warned all parents that it was their duty before God to bring up
their children in God's fear, or theirs would be the sorrow, and their
children's the suffering and the shame everlasting. And then in a voice
that could barely support itself he made an allusion that none could
mistake.

"Strange it is, and very pitiful," he said, "that what we think in our
weakness to be the holiest of our human affections may be a snare and a
stumbling-block. Strange enough, surely, and very sad, that even as the
hardest of soul among us all may be free from blame where his children
stand for judgment, so the tenderest of heart may, like Eli of old, be
swept from the face of the living God for the iniquity of his children,
which he has not restrained. But the best of our earthly passions, or
what seem to be the best, the love of the mother for the babe at her
breast, the pride of the father in the son that is flesh of his flesh,
must be indulged with sin if it is not accepted with grace. True, too
true, that there are those of us who may cast no stone, who should offer
no counsel. Like Eli, we know that the word of God has gone out against
us, and we can but bend our foreheads and say, 'It is the Lord, let him
do what seemeth him good.'"

When the sermon ended there was much needless industry in searching for
books under the book-rail, much furtive wiping of the eyes, much
demonstrative blowing of the nose, and in the midst of the benediction a
good deal of subdued whispering.

"Aw, 'deed, the ould Bishop bates the young pazon himself at putting out
the talk--studdier-like, and not so fiery maybe; but, man alive, the
tender he is!"

"And d'ye mind that taste about Eli and them two idiot waistrels Hoffnee
and Fin-e-ass?"

"And did ye observe the ould man thrembling mortal?"

"Och, yes, and I'll go bail it wasn't them two blackyards he was
thinking of, at all, at all."

When the service came to an end, and the congregation was breaking up,
and Billy the Gawk was hobbling down the aisle on a pair of sticks, that
hoary old sinner, turned saint because fallen sick, was muttering
something about "a rael good ould father," and "dirts like than Dan,"
and "a thund'rin rascal with all."

A strange scene came next. The last of the congregation had not yet
reached the porch, when all at once there was an uneasy move among them
like the ground-swell among the shoalings before the storm comes to
shore. Those who were in front fell back or turned about and nodded as
if they wished to say something; and those who were behind seemed to
think and wonder. Then sudden as the sharp crack of the first breaker on
a reef, the faces of the people fell to a great heaviness of horror, and
the air was full of mournful exclamations, surprise, and terror.

"Lord ha' massy!"

"Dead, you say?"

"Aw, dead enough."

"Washed ashore by the Mooragh?"

"So they're sayin', so they're sayin'."

"_Hiain Jean myghin orrin_--Lord have mercy upon us!"

Half a minute later the whole congregation were gathered outside the
west porch. There, in the recess between the chapel and the house, two
men, fisher-fellows of Michael, stood surrounded by a throng of people.
Something lay at their feet, and the crowd made a circle about it,
looked down at it, and drew long breaths. And when one after another
came up, reached over the heads of others, and saw what lay within, he
turned away with uplifted hands and a face that was white with fear.

"Lord ha' massy! Lord ha' massy!" cried the people on every side, and
their senses were confused and overpowered.

What the dread thing was that lay at the feet of the two fishermen does
not need to be said.

"At the Mooragh, d'ye say--came ashore at the Mooragh?"

"Ay, at the top of the flood."

"God bless me!"

"I saw it an hour before it drifted in," said one of the two grave
fellows. "I was down 'longshore shrimping, and it was a good piece out
to sea, and a heavy tide running. 'Lord ha' massy, what's that?' I says.
'It's a gig with a sail,' I was thinking, but no, it was looking too
small. 'It's a diver, or maybe a solan goose with its wings stretched
out'; but no, it was looking too big."

"Bless me! Lord bless me!"

"And when it came a piece nearer it was into the sea I was going,
breast-high and a more, and I came anigh it, and saw what it was--and
frightened mortal, you go bail--and away to the street for Jemmy here,
and back middlin' sharp, and it driffin' and driffin' on the beach by
that time, and the water flopping on it, and the two of us up with it on
to our shoulders, and straight away for the Coort."

And sure enough the fisherman's clothes were drenched above his middle,
and the shoulders of both men were wet.

"Bless me! bless me! Lord ha' massy!" echoed one, and then another, and
once again they craned their necks forward and looked down.

The loose canvas that had been ripped open by the weights was lying
where the seams were stretched, and none uncovered the face, for the
sense of human death was strong on all. But word had gone about whose
body it was, and blind Kerry, wringing her hands and muttering something
about the sights, pushed her way to the side of the two men, and asked
why they had brought their burden to Bishop's Court instead of taking it
to Ballamona.

"Aw, well," they answered, "we were thinking the Bishop was his true
father, and Bishop's Coort his true home for all."

"And that's true, too," said Kerry, "for his own father has been worse
than a haythen naygro to him, and lave it to me to know, for didn't I
bring the millish into the world?"

Then there came a rush of people down the road from the village. A rumor
that something horrible had washed ashore had passed quickly from mouth
to mouth, after the fisherman had run up to the village for help. And
now, in low, eager tones, questions and answers came and went among the
crowd. "Who is it?" "Is it the captain?" "What, Mastha Dan?" "That's
what they're saying up the street anyway." "Wrapped in a hammock--good
Lord preserve us!" "Came up in the tideway at the Mooragh--gracious me!
and I saw him myself on'y yesterday."

The Bishop was seen to come out of the vestry door, and at the sight of
him the crowd seemed to awake out of its first stupor. "God help the
Bishop!" "Here he's coming." "Bless me, he'll have to pass it by, going
into the house." "The shock will kill the ould man." "Poor thing, poor
thing!" "Some one must up and break the bad newses to him." "Aw, yes,
for sure."

And then came the question of who was to tell the Bishop. First the
people asked one Corlett Ballafayle. Corlett farmed a hundred acres, and
was a churchwarden, and a member of the Keys. But the big man said no,
and edged away. Then they asked one of the Tubmans, but the brewer shook
his head. He could not look into the Bishop's face and tell him a tale
like that. At length they thought of blind Kerry. She at least would not
see the face of the stricken man when she took him the fearful news.

"Aw, yes, Kerry, woman, it's yourself for it, and a rael stout heart at
you, and blind for all, thank the Lord."

"I'll try, please God," said Kerry, and with that she moved slowly
toward the vestry door, where the Bishop had stopped to stroke the
yellow curls of a little shy boy, and to ask him his age next birthday,
and to wish him a merry Christmas and eighty more of them, and all merry
ones. It was observed that the good man's face was brighter now than it
had been when he went into the chapel.

The people watched Kerry as she moved up to the Bishop. Could she be
telling him? He was smiling! Was it not his laugh that they heard? Kerry
was standing before him in an irresolute way, and now with a wave of the
hand he was leaving her. He was coming forward. No, he had stopped again
to speak to old Auntie Nan from the Curragh, and Kerry had passed him in
returning to the crowd.

"I couldn't do it; he spoke so cheerful, poor thing," said Kerry; "and
when I was goin' to speak he looked the spitten picture of my ould
father."

The Bishop parted from the old woman of the Curragh, and then on raising
his eyes he became conscious of the throng by the porch.

"Lave it to me," said a rough voice, and Billy the Gawk stepped out. The
crowd fell aside, and the fishermen placed themselves in front of the
dread thing on the ground. Smiling and bowing on the right and left, the
Bishop was passing on toward the door that led to the house, when the
old beggar of the highways hobbled in front of him.

"We're right sorry, sir, my lord, to bring ye bad newses," the old man
stammered, lifting the torn cap from his head.

The Bishop's face fell to a sudden gravity. "What is it?" he said, and
his voice sank.

"We're rael sorry, and we know your heart was gript to him with
grapplin's."

"Ay, ay," said some in the crowd.

"What is it, man? Speak," said the Bishop, and all around was silence
and awe.

The old man stood irresolute for a moment. Then, just as he was lifting
his head to speak, and every eye was on the two who stood in the midst,
the Bishop and the old beggar, there came a loud noise from near at
hand, and voices that sounded hoarse and jarring were in the air.

"Where is it? When did they bring it up? Why is it not taken into the
house?"

It was the Deemster, and he came on with great flashing eyes, and behind
him was Jarvis Kerruish. In an instant the crowd had fallen aside for
him, and he had pushed through and come to a stand in front of the
Bishop.

"We know what has happened. We have heard it in the village," he said.
"I knew what it must come to sooner or later. I told you a hundred
times, and you have only yourself to thank for it."

The Bishop said not a word. He saw what lay behind the feet of the
fishermen, and stepped up to it.

"It's of your own doing," shouted the Deemster in a voice of no ruth or
pity. "You would not heed my warning. It was easy to see that the
devil's own dues were in him. He hadn't an ounce of grace in his
carcass. He put his foot on your neck, and threatened to do as much for
me some day. And see where he is now! Look at him! This is how your son
comes home to you!"

As he spoke, the Deemster pointed contemptuously with the handle of his
walking-cane to the thing that lay between them.

Then the hard tension of the people's silence was broken; they began to
mutter among themselves and to propose and demur to something. They saw
the Deemster's awful error, and that he thought the dead man was Dan.

The Bishop still stood immovable, with not the sign of a tear on his
white face, but over it the skin was drawn hard.

"And let me tell you one thing more," said the Deemster. "Whoever he may
be that brought matters to this pass, he shall not suffer. I will not
lift a finger against him. The man who brings about his own death shall
have the burden of it on his own head. The law will uphold me."

Then a hoarse murmur ran from lip to lip among the people who stood
around, and one man, a burly fellow, nerved by the Deemster's error,
pushed forward and said:

"Deemster, be merciful, as you hope for mercy; you don't know what
you're saying."

At that the Deemster turned about hotly and brought down his
walking-cane with a heavy blow on the man's breast.

The stalwart fellow took the blow without lifting a hand. "God help you!
Deemster," he said, in a thick voice. "God help you! you don't know what
you're doing. Go and look at it, Deemster. Go and look, if you've the
heart for it. Look at it, man, and may the Lord have mercy on you, and
on us all in our day of trouble, and may God forgive you the cruel words
you've spoken to your own brother this day!"

There was then a great silence for a moment. The Deemster gazed in a
sort of stupor into the man's face, and his stick dropped out of his
hand. With a look of majesty and of suffering the Bishop stood at one
side of the body, quiet, silent, giving no sign, seeing nothing but the
thing at his feet, and hardly hearing the reproaches that were being
hurled at him in the face of his people. The beating of his heart fell
low.

There was a moment of suspense, and then, breathing rapid, audible
breath, the Deemster stooped beside the body, stretched out a
half-palsied hand, and drew aside the loose canvas, and saw the face of
his own son Ewan.

One long exclamation of surprise and consternation broke from the
Deemster, and after that there came another fearful pause, wherein the
Bishop went down on his knees beside the body.

In an instant the Deemster fell back to his savage mood. He rose to his
full height; his face became suddenly and awfully discolored and stern,
and, tottering almost to falling, he lifted his clenched fist to the sky
in silent imprecation of heaven.

The people dropped aside in horror, and their flesh crawled over them.
"Lord ha' massy!" they cried again, and Kerry, who was blind and could
not see the Deemster, covered her ears that she might not hear him.

And from where he knelt the Bishop, who had not spoken until now, said,
with an awful emphasis, "Brother, the Lord of heaven looks down on us."

But the Deemster, recovering himself, laughed in scorn of his own
weakness no less than of the Bishop's reproof. He picked up the
walking-cane that he had dropped, slapped his leg with it, ordered the
two fishermen to shoulder their burden again and take it to Ballamona,
and sent straightway for the coroner and the joiner, "For," said he, "my
son having come out of the sea, must be buried this same day."



CHAPTER XXVII

HOW THE NEWS CAME TO THE BISHOP


The Deemster swung aside and went off, followed by Jarvis Kerruish. Then
the two fishermen took up their dread burden and set their faces toward
Ballamona. In a blind agony of uncertainty the Bishop went into his
house. His mind was confused; he sat and did his best to compose
himself. The thing that had happened perplexed him cruelly. He tried to
think it out, but found it impossible to analyze his unlinked ideas. His
faculties were benumbed, and not even pain, the pain of Ewan's loss,
could yet penetrate the dead blank that lay between him and a full
consciousness of the awful event. He shed no tears, and not a sigh broke
from him. Silent he sat, with an expression of suffering that might have
been frozen in his stony eyes and on his whitening lips, so rigid was
it, and as if the power of life had ebbed away like the last ebb of an
exhausted tide.

Then the people from without began to crowd in upon him where he sat in
his library. They were in a state of great excitement, and all reserve
and ceremony were broken down. Each had his tale to tell, each his
conjecture to offer. One told what the longshore shrimper had said of
finding the body near the fishing-ground known as the Mooragh. Another
had his opinion as to how the body had sailed ashore instead of sinking.
A third fumbled his cap, and said, "I take sorrow to see you in such
trouble, my lord, and wouldn't bring bad newses if I could give myself
lave to bring good newses instead, but I'll go bail there's been bad
work goin', and foul play, as they're sayin', and I wouldn't trust but
Mastha Dan--I'm saying I wouldn't trust but Mastha Dan could tell us
something--"

The Bishop cut short the man's garrulity with a slight gesture, and one
by one the people went out. He had listened to them in silence and with
a face of saintly suffering, scarcely hearing what they had said. "I
will await events," he thought, "and trust in God." But a great fear was
laying hold of him, and he had to gird up his heart to conquer it. "I
will trust in God," he told himself a score of times, and in his faith
in the goodness of his God he tried to be calm and brave. But one after
another his people came back and back and back with new and still newer
facts. At every fresh blow from damning circumstances his thin lips
trembled, his nervous fingers ran through his flowing white hair, and
his deep eyes filled without moving.

And after the first tempest of his own sorrow for the loss of Ewan, he
thought of Dan, and of Dan's sure grief. He remembered the love of Ewan
for Dan, and the love of Dan for Ewan. He recalled many instances of
that beautiful affection, and in the quickening flow of the light of
that love half the follies of his wayward son sank out of sight. Dan
must be told what had occurred, and if none had told him already, it was
best that it should be broken to him from lips that loved him.

Thus it was that this brave and long-harassed man, trying to think ill
of his own harshness, that looked so impotent and so childish now,
remembering no longer his vow never to set eyes on the face of his son,
or hold speech with him again, sent a messenger to the old Ballamona to
ask for Dan, and to bring him to Bishop's Court without delay.

Half an hour later, at the sound of a knock at his door, the Bishop,
thinking it was Dan himself, stood up to his stately height, and tried
to hide his agitation, and answered in an unsteady voice, that not all
the resolution of his brave heart could subdue to calmness. But it was
the messenger, and not Dan, and he had returned to say that Mastha Dan
had not been home since yesterday, and that when Mastha Ewan was last
seen at home, he had asked for Mastha Dan, and, not finding him, had
gone down to the Lockjaw Creek to seek him.

"When was that?" the Bishop asked.

"The ould body at the house said it might be a piece after three o'clock
yesterday evening," said the man.

Beneath the cold quietness of the regard with which the Bishop dismissed
his messenger, a keener eye than his might have noted a fearful tumult.
The Bishop's hand grew cold and trembled. At the next instant he had
become conscious of his agitation, and had begun to reproach himself for
his want of faith. "I will trust in God and await events," he told
himself again. "No, I will not speak; I will maintain silence. Yes, I
will await the turn of events, and trust in the good Father of all."

Then there came another knock at his door. "Surely it is Dan at length;
his old housekeeper has sent him on," he thought. "Come in," he called,
in a voice that shook.

It was Hommy-beg. The Deemster had sent him across with a message.

"And what is it?" the Bishop asked, speaking at the deaf man's ear.

Hommy-beg scratched his tousled head and made no answer at first, and
the Bishop repeated the question.

"We're all taking sorrow for you, my lord," said Hommy, and then he
stopped.

"What is it?" the Bishop repeated.

"And right sorry I am to bring his message."

The Bishop's pale face took an ashy gray, but his manner was still calm.

"What did the Deemster send you to say, Hommy?"

"The Dempster--bad cess to him, and no disrespec'--he sent me to tell
you that they're after stripping the canvas off, and, behould ye, it's
an ould sail, and they're knowing it by its number, and what
fishing-boat it came out of, and all to that."

"Where did the sailcloth come from?" asked the Bishop, and his deep eyes
were fixed on Hommy.

"It's an ould--well, the fact is--to tell you not a word of a lie--aw,
my lord, what matter--what if it is--"

"Where?" said the Bishop calmly, though his lips whitened and quivered.

"It's an old drift yawlsail of the 'Ben-my-Chree.' Aw, yes, yes, sarten
sure, and sorry I am to bring bad newses."

Hommy-beg went out, and the Bishop stood for some minutes in the thrall
of fear. He had been smitten hard by other facts, but this latest fact
seemed for the moment to overthrow his great calm faith in God's power
to bring out all things for the best. He wrestled with it long and hard.
He tried to persuade himself that it meant nothing. That Ewan was dead
was certain. That he came by his death through foul play seemed no less
sure and terrible. But that his body had been wrapped in sailcloth once
belonging to Dan's fishing-boat was no sufficient ground for the
terrible accusation that was taking shape in other minds. Could he
accept the idea? Ah, no, no, no. To do so would be to fly in the face of
all sound reason, all fatherly love, and all trust in the good Father
above. Though the sailcloth came from the "Ben-my-Chree," the fact said
nothing of where the body came from. And even though it were certain
that the body must have been dropped into the sea from the fishing-boat
that belonged to Dan, it would still require proof that Dan himself was
aboard of her.

With such poor shifts the Bishop bore down the cruel facts as one after
one they beat upon his brain. He tried to feel shame of his own shame,
and to think hard of his own hard thoughts. "Yes, I will trust in God,"
he told himself afresh, "I will await events, and trust in the good
Father of all mercies." But where was Dan? The Bishop had made up his
mind to send messengers to skirr the island round in search of his son,
when suddenly there came a great noise as of many persons talking
eagerly, and drawing hurriedly near and nearer.

A minute afterward his library door was opened again without reserve or
ceremony, and there came trooping into the room a mixed throng of the
village folk. Little Jabez Gawne was at their head with a coat and a hat
held in his hands before him.

Cold as the day was the people looked hot and full of puzzled eagerness,
and their smoking breath came in long jets into the quiet room.

"My lord, look what we've found on the top of Orrisdel," said Jabez, and
he stretched out the coat, while one of the men behind him relieved him
of the beaver.

The coat was a long black-cloth coat, with lappets and tails and
wristbands turned over.

The Bishop saw at a glance that it was the coat of a clergyman.

"Leave it to me to know this coat, my lord, for it was myself that made
it," said Jabez.

The Bishop's brain turned giddy, and the perspiration started from his
temples, but his dignity and his largeness did not desert him.

"Is it my poor Ewan's coat?" he asked, as he held out his hand to take
it; but his tone was one of almost hopeless misery and not of inquiry.

"That's true, my lord," said Jabez, and thereupon the little tailor
started an elaborate series of identifications, based chiefly on points
of superior cut and workmanship. But the Bishop cut the tailor short
with a wave of the hand.

"You found it on Orrisdale Head?" asked the Bishop.

And one of the men behind pushed his head between the shoulders of those
who were before him, and said:

"Aw, yes, my lord, not twenty yards from the cliff, and I found
something else beside of it."

Just then there was a further noise in the passage outside the library,
and a voice saying:

"Gerr out of the way, you old loblolly-boys, bringing bad newses still,
and glad of them, too."

It was Hommy-beg returned to Bishop's Court with yet another message,
but it was a message of his own and not of the Deemster's. He pushed his
way through the throng until he came face to face with the Bishop, and
then he said:

"The Dempster is afther having the doctor down from Ramsey, and the big
man is sayin' the neck was broken, and it was a fall that killed the
young pazon, and nothing worse, at all at all."

The large sad eyes of the Bishop seemed to shine without moving as Hommy
spoke, but in an instant the man who had spoken before thrust his word
in again, and then the Bishop's face grew darker than ever with settled
gloom.

"It was myself that found the coat and hat, my lord; and a piece nearer
the cliff I found this, and this; and then, down the brew itself--maybe
a matter of ten feet down--I saw this other one sticking in a green
corry of grass and ling, and over I went, hand-under-hand, and brought
it up."

While he spoke the man struggled to the front, and held out in one hand
a belt, or what seemed to be two belts buckled together and cut across
as with a knife, and in the other hand two daggers.

A great awe fell upon every one at sight of the weapons. The Bishop's
face still showed a quiet grandeur, but his breathing was labored and
harassed.

"Give them to me," he said, with an impressive calmness, and the man put
the belts and daggers into the Bishop's hands. He looked at them
attentively, and saw that one of the buckles was of silver, while the
other was of steel.

"Has any one recognized them?" he asked.

A dozen voice answered at once that they were the belts of the
newly-banded militia.

At the same instant the Bishop's eye was arrested by some scratches on
the back of the silver buckle. He fixed his spectacles to examine the
marks more closely. When he had done so he breathed with gasps of agony,
and all the cheer of life seemed in one instant to die out of his face.
His nerveless fingers dropped the belts and daggers on to the table, and
the silver and the steel clinked as they fell.

There had been a dead silence in the room for some moments, and then,
with a labored tranquillity, the Bishop said, "That will do," and stood
mute and motionless while the people shambled out, leaving their dread
treasures behind them.

To his heart's core the Bishop was struck with an icy chill. He tried to
link together the terrible ideas that had smitten his brain, but his
mind wandered and slipped away. Ewan was last seen going toward the
creek; he was dead; he had been killed by a fall; his body had come
ashore in an old sail of the "Ben-my-Chree"; his coat and hat had been
picked up on the top of Orrisdale Head, and beside them lay two weapons
and two belts, whereof one had belonged to Dan, whose name was scratched
upon it.

In the crushing coil of circumstance that was every moment tightening
about him the Bishop's great calm faith in the goodness of his Maker
seemed to be benumbed. "Oh, my son, my son!" he cried, when he was left
alone. "Would to God I had died before I saw this day! Oh, my son, my
son!" But after a time he regained his self-control, and said to himself
again, "I will trust in God; He will make the dark places plain," Then
he broke into short, fitful prayers, as if to drive away, by the warmth
of the spirit, the chill that was waiting in readiness to freeze his
faith--"Make haste unto me, O God! Hide not Thy face from Thy servant,
for I am in trouble."

The short winter's day had dragged on heavily, but the arms of darkness
were now closing round it. The Bishop put on his cloak and hat and set
off for Ballamona. In length of days he was but little past his prime,
but the dark sorrow of many years had drained his best strength, and he
tottered on the way. Only his strong faith that God would remember His
servant in the hour of trouble gave power to his trembling limbs.

And as he walked he began to reproach himself for the mistrust whereby
he had been so sorely shaken. This comforted him somewhat, and he
stepped out more boldly. He was telling himself that, perplexing though
the facts might be, they were yet so inconclusive as to prove nothing
except that Ewan was dead, when all at once he became conscious that in
the road ahead of him, grouped about the gate of Ballamona, were a
company of women and children, all agitated and some weeping, with the
coroner in their midst, questioning them.

The coroner was Quayle the Gyke, the same who would have been left
penniless by his father but for the Bishop's intervention.

"And when did your husband go out to sea?" the coroner asked.

"At floodtide yesterday," answered one of the women; "and my man, he
said to me, 'Liza,' he said, 'get me a bite of priddhas and salt
herrin's for supper,' he said; 'we'll be back for twelve,' he said; but
never a sight of him yet, and me up all night till daylight."

"But they've been in and gone out to sea again," said another of the
women.

"How d'ye know that, Mother Quilleash?" asked the coroner.

"Because I've been taking a slieu round to the creek, and there's a
basket of ray and cod in the shed," the woman answered.

At that the Bishop drew up at the gate, and the coroner explained to him
the trouble of the women and children.

"Is it you, Mrs. Corkell?" the Bishop asked of a woman near him.

"Aw, yes, my lord."

"And you, too, Mrs. Teare?"

The woman courtesied; the Bishop named them one by one, and stroked the
bare head of the little girl who was clinging to her mother's cloak and
weeping.

"Then it's the 'Ben-my-Chree' that has been missing since yesterday at
high-water?" the Bishop said, in a sort of hushed whisper.

"Yes, sure, my lord."

At that the Bishop turned suddenly aside, without a word more, opened
the gate, and walked up the path. "Oh, my son, my son," he cried, in his
bleeding heart, "how have you shortened my days! How have you clothed me
with shame! Oh, my son, my son!"

Before Ballamona an open cart was standing, with the tail-board down,
and the horse was pawing the gravel which had once--on a far different
occasion--been strewn with the "blithe-bread." The door of the house
stood ajar, and a jet of light from within fell on the restless horse
without. The Bishop entered the house, and found all in readiness for
the hurried night burial. On chairs that were ranged back to back a
rough oak coffin, like an oblong box, was resting, and from the rafter
of the ceiling immediately over it a small oil-lamp was suspended. On
either side of the hall were three or four men holding brands and
leathern lanterns, ready for lighting. The Deemster was coming and going
from his own room beyond, attended in bustling eagerness by Jarvis
Kerruish. Near the coffin stood the vicar of the parish, father of the
dead man's dead wife, and in the opening of a door that went out from
the hall Mona stood weeping, with the dead man's child in her arms.

And even as it is only in the night that the brightest stars may truly
be seen, so in the night of all this calamity the star of the Bishop's
faith shone out clearly again, and his vague misgivings fell away. He
stepped up to Mona, whose dim eyes were now fixed on his face in sadness
of sympathy, and with his dry lips he touched her forehead.

Then, in the depth of his own sorrow and the breadth of shadow that lay
upon him, he looked down at the little one in Mona's arms, where it
leaped and cooed and beat its arms on the air in a strange wild joy at
this gay spectacle of its father's funeral, and his eyes filled for what
the course of its life would be.

Almost as soon as the Deemster was conscious of the Bishop's presence in
the house, he called on the mourners to make ready, and then six men
stepped to the side of the coffin.

"Thorkell," said the Bishop, calmly, and the bearers paused while he
spoke, "this haste to put away the body of our dear Ewan is unseemly,
because it is unnecessary."

The Deemster made no other answer than a spluttered expression of
contempt, and the Bishop spoke again:

"You are aware that there is no canon of the Church requiring it, and no
law of State demanding it. That a body from the sea shall be buried
within the day it has washed ashore is no more than a custom."

"Then custom shall be indulged with custom," said Thorkell, decisively.

"Not for fifty years has it been observed," continued the Bishop; "and
here is an outrage on reason and on the respect we owe to our dead."

At this the Deemster said: "The body is mine, and I will do as I please
with it."

Even the six carriers, with their hands on the coffin, caught their
breath at these words; but the Bishop answered without anger: "And the
graveyard is mine, in charge for the Church and God's people, and if I
do not forbid the burial, it is because I would have no wrangling over
the grave of my dear boy."

The Deemster spat on the floor, and called on the carriers to take up
their burden. Then the six men lifted the coffin from the chairs, and
put it into the cart at the door. The other mourners went out on to the
gravel, and such of them as carried torches and lanterns lighted them
there. The Old Hundred was then sung, and when its last notes had died
on the night air the springless cart went jolting down the path. Behind
it the mourners ranged themselves two abreast, with the Deemster walking
alone after the cart, and the Bishop last of all.

Mona stood a moment at the open door, in the hall that was now empty and
desolate and silent, save for the babblings of the child in her arms.
She saw the procession through the gate into the road. After that she
went into the house, drew aside the curtain of her window, and watched
the moving lights until they stopped, and then she knew that they were
gathered about an open grave, and that half of all that had been very
dear to her in this weary world was gone from it forever.



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE CHILD GHOST IN THE HOUSE


After the coroner, Quayle the Gyke, had gone through one part of his
dual functions at Ballamona, and thereby discovered that the body of
Ewan had been wrapped in a sailcloth of the "Ben-my-Chree," he set out
on the other part of his duty, to find the berth of the fishing-boat,
and, if need be, to arrest the crew. He was in the act of leaving
Ballamona when, at the gate of the highroad, he came upon the women and
children of the families of the crew he was in search of, and there, at
the moment when the Bishop arrived for the funeral, he heard that the
men had been at sea since the middle of the previous day. Confirmed in
his suspicions, but concealing them, he returned to the village with the
terrified women, and on the way he made his own sinister efforts to
comfort them when they mourned as if their husbands had been lost. "Aw,
no, no, no, never fear; we'll see them again soon enough, I'll go bail,"
he said, and in their guileless blindness the women were nothing loth to
take cheer from the fellow's dubious smile.

His confidence was not misplaced, for hardly had he got back to the
village, and stepped into the houses one after one, making his own
covert investigations while he sandwiched his shrewd questions with
solace, when the fishermen themselves, old Quilleash, Crennell, Teare,
and Corkell, and the lad Davy Fayle, came tramping up the street. Then
there was wild joy among the children, who clung to the men's legs, and
some sharp nagging among the women, who were by wifely duty bound to
conceal their satisfaction under a proper appearance of wrath. "And what
for had they been away all night?" and "Didn't they take shame at
treating a woman like dirt?" and "Just like a man, just, not caring a
ha'p'orth, and a woman up all night, and taking notions about drowning,
and more fool for it."

And when at length there came a cessation of such questions, and the
fishermen sat down with an awkward silence, or grunted something in an
evasive way about "Women preaching mortal," and "Never no reason in
them," then the coroner began his more searching inquiries. When did
they run in with the cod and ling that was found lying in the tent? Was
there a real good "strike" on, that they went out again at half-flood
last night? Doing much outside? No? He wouldn't trust but they were
lying off the Mooragh, eh? Yes, you say? Coorse, coorse. And good
ground, too. And where was the capt'n? Out with them? He thought so.

Everything the coroner asked save the one thing on which his mind was
set, but at mention of the Mooragh the women forgot their own trouble in
the greater trouble that was over the parish, and blurted out, with many
an expletive, the story of the coming to shore of the body of Ewan. And
hadn't they heard the jeel? Aw, shocking, shocking! And the young pazon
had sailed in their boat, so he had! Aw, ter'ble, ter'ble!

The coroner kept his eyes fixed on the men's faces, and marked their
confusion with content. They on their part tried all their powers of
dissembling. First came a fine show of ferocity. Where were their
priddhas and herrings? Bad cess to the women, the idle shoulderin'
craythurs, did they think a man didn't want never a taste of nothin'
comin' in off the say, afther workin' for them day and night same as
haythen naygroes, and no thanks for it?

It would not do, and the men themselves were the first to be conscious
that they could not strike fire. One after another slunk out of his
house until they were all five on the street in a group, holding their
heads together and muttering. And when at length the coroner came out of
old Quilleash's house, and leaned against the trammon at the porch, and
looked toward them in the darkness, but said not a word, their
self-possession left them on the instant, and straightway they took to
their heels.

"Let's away at a slant over the Head and give warning to Mastha Dan,"
they whispered; and this was the excuse they made to themselves for
their flight, just to preserve a little ray of self-respect.

But the coroner understood them, and he set his face back toward the
churchyard, knowing that the Deemster would be there by that time.

The Bishop had gone through the ceremony at the graveside with
composure, though his voice when he spoke was full of tears, and the
hair of his uncovered head seemed to have passed from iron-gray to
white. His grand, calm face was steadfast, and his prayer was of faith
and hope. Only beneath this white quiet as of a glacier the red riot of
a great sorrow was rife within him.

It was then for the first time in its fulness that--undisturbed in that
solemn hour by coarser fears--he realized the depth of his grief for the
loss of Ewan. That saintly soul came back to his memory in its beauty
and tenderness alone, and its heat and uncontrollable unreason were
forgotten. When he touched on the mystery of Ewan's death his large wan
face quivered slightly and he paused; but when he spoke of the hope of
an everlasting reunion, and how all that was dark would be made plain
and the Judge of all the earth would do right, his voice grew bold as
with a surety of a brave resignation.

The Deemster listened to the short night-service with alternate
restlessness--tramping to and fro by the side of the grave--and cold
self-possession, and with a constant hardness and bitterness of mind,
breaking out sometimes into a light trill of laughter, or again into a
hoarse gurgle, as if in scorn of the Bishop's misplaced confidence. But
the crowds that were gathered around held their breath in awe of the
mystery, and when they sang it was with such an expression of emotion
and fear that no man knew the sound of his own voice.

More than once the Deemster stopped in his uneasy perambulations, and
cried "What's that?" as if arrested by sounds that did not break on the
ears of others. But nothing occurred to disturb the ceremony until it
had reached the point of its close, and while the Bishop was pronouncing
a benediction the company was suddenly thrown into a great tumult.

It was then that the coroner arrived, panting, after a long run. He
pushed his way through the crowd, and burst in at the graveside between
the Bishop and the Deemster.

"They've come ashore," he said, eagerly; "the boat's in harbor and the
men are here."

Twenty voices at once cried "Who?" but the Deemster asked no
explanation. "Take them," he said, "arrest them;" and his voice was a
bitter laugh, and his face in the light of the torches was full of
malice and uncharity.

Jarvis Kerruish stepped out. "Where are they?" he asked.

"They've run across the Head in the line of the Cross Vein," the coroner
answered; "but six of us will follow them."

And without more ado he twisted about and impressed the five men nearest
to him into service as constables.

"How many of them are there?" said Jarvis Kerruish.

"Five, sir," said the coroner, "Quilleash, Teare, Corkell, Crennell, and
the lad Davy."

"Then is he not with them?" cried the Deemster, in a tone that went to
the Bishop's heart like iron.

The coroner glanced uneasily at the Bishop, and said, "He was with them,
and he is still somewhere about."

"Then away with you; arrest them, quick," the Deemster cried in another
tone.

"But what of the warrant, sir?" said the coroner.

"Simpleton, are you waiting for that?" the Deemster shouted, with a
contemptuous sweep of the hand. "Where have you been, that you don't
know that your own warrant is enough? Arrest the scoundrels, and you
shall have warrant enough when you come back."

But as the six men were pushing their way through the people, and
leaping the cobble wall of the churchyard, the Deemster picked from the
ground a piece of slate-stone that had come up from the vault, and
scraped his initials upon it with a pebble.

"Take this token, and go after them," he said to Jarvis Kerruish, and
instantly Jarvis was following the coroner and his constables, with the
Deemster's legal warranty for their proceedings.

It was the work of a moment, and the crowd that had stood with drooping
heads about the Bishop had now broken up in confusion. The Bishop
himself had not spoken; a shade of bodily pain had passed over his pale
face, and a cold damp had started from his forehead. But hardly had the
coroner gone, or the people recovered from their bewilderment, when the
Bishop lifted one hand to bespeak silence, and then said, in a tone
impossible to describe: "Can any man say of his own knowledge that my
son was on the 'Ben-my-Chree' last night?"

The Deemster snorted contemptuously, but none made answer to the
Bishop's question.

At that moment there came the sound of a horse's hoofs on the road, and
immediately the old archdeacon drew up. He had been preaching the
Christmas sermons at Peeltown that day, and there he had heard of the
death of his grandson, and of the suspicions that were in the air
concerning it. The dour spirit of the disappointed man had never gone
out with too much warmth to the Bishop, but had always been ready enough
to cast contempt on the "moonstruck ways" of the man who had "usurped"
his own place of preferment; and now, without contrition or pity, he was
ready to strike his blow at the stricken man.

"I hear that the 'Ben-my-Chree' has put into Peel harbor," he said, and
as he spoke he leaned across his saddle-bow, with his russet face toward
where the Bishop stood.

"Well, well, well?" cried the Deemster, rapping out at the same time his
oath of impatience as fast as a hen might have pecked.

"And that the crew are not likely to show their faces soon," the
archdeacon continued.

"Then you're wrong," said the Deemster imperiously, "for they've done as
much already. But what about their owner? Was he with them? Have you
seen him? Quick, let us hear what you have to say."

The archdeacon did not shift his gaze from the Bishop's face, but he
answered the Deemster nevertheless.

"Their owner was with them," he said, "and woe be to him. I had as lief
that a millstone were hung about my neck as that I stood before God as
the father of that man."

And with such charity of comfort the old archdeacon alighted and walked
away with the Deemster, at the horse's head. The good man had preached
with unwonted fervor that day from the Scripture which says, "With what
measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

In another instant the Bishop was no longer the same man. Conviction of
Dan's guilt had taken hold of him. Thus far he had borne up against all
evil shown by the strength of his great faith in his Maker to bring out
all things well. But at length that faith was shattered. When the
Deemster and the archdeacon went away together, leaving him in the midst
of the people, he stood there, while all eyes were upon him, with the
stupid bewildered look of one who has been dealt an unexpected and
dreadful blow. The world itself was crumbling under him. At that first
instant there was something like a ghastly smile playing over his pale
face. Then the truth came rolling over him. The sight was terrible to
look upon. He tottered backward with a low moan. When his faith went
down his manhood went down with it.

"Oh, my son, my son!" he cried again, "how have you shortened my days!
How have you clothed me with shame! Oh, my son, my son!"

But love was uppermost even in that bitter hour, and the good God sent
the stricken man the gift of tears. "He is dead, he is dead!" he cried;
"now is my heart smitten and withered like grass. Ewan is dead. My son
is dead. Can it be true? Yes, dead, and worse than dead. Lord, Lord, now
let me eat ashes for bread and mingle my drink with weeping."

And so he poured out his broken spirit in a torrent of wild laments. The
disgrace that had bent his head heretofore was but a dream to this
deadly reality. "Oh, my son, my son! Would God I had died before I saw
this day!"

The people stood by while the unassuageable grief shook the Bishop to
the soul. Then one of them--it was Thormod Mylechreest, the bastard son
of the rich man who had left his offspring to public charity--took the
old man by the hand, and the crowd parted for them. Together they passed
out of the churchyard, and out of the hard glare of the torchlight, and
set off for Bishop's Court. It was a pitiful thing to see. How the old
father, stricken into age by sorrow rather than years, tottered feebly
on the way. How low his white head was bent, as if the darkness itself
had eyes to peer into his darkened soul.

And yet more pitiful was it to see how the old man's broken spirit, reft
of its great bulwark, which lay beneath it like an idol that was broken,
did yet struggle with a vain effort to glean comfort from its fallen
faith. But every stray text that rose to his heart seemed to wound it
afresh. "As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the
youth.... They shall not be ashamed.... Oh, Absalom, my son, my son!...
For thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face.... I am
poor and needy; make haste unto me, O God.... Hide not thy face from thy
servant, for I am in trouble.... O God, thou knowest my foolishness....
And Eli said, It is the Lord, let him do as seemeth him good.... The
waters have overwhelmed me, the streams have gone over my soul; the
proud waters have gone over my soul."

Thus tottering feebly at the side of Mylechreest and leaning on his arm,
the Bishop went his way, and thus the poor dead soul of the man, whose
faith was gone, poured forth its barren grief. The way was long, but
they reached Bishop's Court at last, and at sight of it a sudden change
seemed to come over the Bishop. He stopped and turned to Mylechreest,
and said, with a strange resignation:

"I will be quiet. Ewan is dead, and Dan is dead. Surely I shall quiet
myself as a child that is weaned of its mother. Yes, my soul is even as
a weaned child."

And with the simple calmness of a little child he held out his hand to
Mylechreest to bid him farewell, and when Mylechreest, with swimming
eyes and a throat too full for speech, bent over the old man's hand and
put his lips to it, the Bishop placed the other hand on his head, as if
he had asked for a blessing, and blessed him.

"Good-night, my son," he said simply, but Mylechreest could answer
nothing.

The Bishop was turning into his house when the memory that had gone from
him for one instant of blessed respite returned, and his sorrow bled
afresh, and he cried piteously. The inanimate old place was in a moment
full of spectres. For that night Bishop's Court had gone back ten full
years, and if it was not now musical with children's voices, the spirit
of one happy boy still lived in it.

Passing his people in the hall and on the stairs, where, tortured by
suspense, bewildered, distracted, they put their doubts and rumors
together, the Bishop went up to the little room above the library that
had once been little Danny's room. The door was locked, but the key was
where it had been for many a day--though Dan in his headstrong
waywardness had known nothing of that--it was in the Bishop's pocket.
Inside the muggy odor was of a chamber long shut up. The little bed was
still in the corner, and its quilted counterpane lay thick in dust. Dust
covered the walls, and the floor also, and the table under the window
was heavy with it. Shutting himself in this dusty crib, the Bishop drew
from under the bed a glass-covered case, and opened it, and lifted out
one by one the things it contained. They were a child's playthings--a
whip, a glass marble, a whistle, an old Manx penny, a tomtit's mossy
nest with three speckled blue eggs in it, some pearly shells, and a bit
of shriveled seaweed. And each poor relic as it came up awoke a new
memory and a new grief, and the fingers trembled that held them. The
sense of a boy's sport and a boy's high spirits, long dumb and dead,
touched the old man to the quick within these heavy walls.

The Bishop replaced the glass-covered case, locked the room, and went
down to his library. But the child ghost that lived in that gaunt old
house did not keep to the crib upstairs. Into this book-clad room it
followed the Bishop, with blue eyes and laughter on the red lips; with a
hop, skip, and a jump, and a pair of spectacles perched insecurely on
the diminutive nose.

Ten years had rolled back for the broken-hearted father that night, and
Dan, who was lost to him in life, lived in his remembrance only as a
beautiful, bright, happy, spirited, innocent child that could never grow
older, but must be a child forever.

The Bishop could endure the old house no longer. It was too full of
spectres. He would go out and tramp the roads the long night through. Up
and down, up and down, through snow or rain, under the moonlight or the
stars until the day dawned, and the pitiless sun should rise again over
the heedless sleeping world.



CHAPTER XXIX

BY BISHOP'S LAW OR DEEMSTER'S


The Bishop had gone into the hall for his cloak and hat when he came
face to face with the Deemster, who was entering the house. At sight of
his brother his bewildered mind made some feeble efforts to brace itself
up.

"Ah, is it you, Thorkell? Then you have come at last! I had given you
up. But I am going out to-night. Will you not come into the library with
me? But perhaps you are going somewhere?"

It was a painful spectacle, the strong brain of the strong man tottering
visibly. The Deemster set down his hat and cane, and looked up with a
cold, mute stare in answer to his brother's inconsequent questions.
Then, without speaking, he went into the library, and the Bishop
followed him with a feeble, irregular step, humming a lively tune--it
was "Salley in our Alley"--and smiling a melancholy, jaunty, bankrupt
smile.

"Gilcrist," said the Deemster, imperiously, and he closed the door
behind them as he spoke, "let us put away all pretense, and talk like
men. We have serious work before us, I promise you."

By a perceptible spasm of will, the Bishop seemed to regain command of
his faculties, and his countenance that had been mellowed down to most
pitiful weakness, grew on the instant firm and pale.

"What is it, Thorkell?" he said, in a more resolute tone.

Then the Deemster asked deliberately, "What do you intend to do with the
murderer of my son?"

"What do I mean to do! I? Do you ask me what I intend to do?" said the
Bishop, in a husky whisper.

"I ask you what you intend to do," said the Deemster, firmly. "Gilcrist,
let us make no faces. You do not need that I should tell you what powers
of jurisdiction over felonies are held by the Bishop of this island as
its spiritual baron. More than once you have reminded me, and none too
courteously, of those same powers when they have served your turn. They
are to-day what they were yesterday, and so I ask you again, What do you
intend to do with the murderer of my son?"

The Bishop's breath seemed suspended for a moment, and then, in broken
accents he said, softly, "You ask me what I intend to do with the
murderer of our Ewan--his murderer, you say?"

In a cold and resolute tone the Deemster said again, "His murderer," and
bowed stiffly.

The Bishop's confusion seemed to overwhelm him. "Is it not assuming too
much, Thorkell?" he said, and while his fingers trembled as he unlaced
them before him, the same sad smile as before passed across his face.

"Listen, and say whether it is not so or not," said the Deemster, with a
manner of rigid impassibility. "At three o'clock yesterday my son left
me at my own house with the declared purpose of going in search of your
son. With what object? Wait. At half-past three he asked for your son at
the house they shared together. He was then told that your son would be
found at the village. Before four o'clock he inquired for him at the
village pot-house, your son's daily and nightly haunt. There he was told
that the man he wanted had been seen going down toward the creek, the
frequent anchorage of the fishing-smack the "Ben-my-Chree," with which
he has frittered away his time and your money. As the parish clock was
striking four he was seen in the lane leading to the creek, walking
briskly down to it. He was never seen again."

"My brother, my brother, what proof is there in that?" said the Bishop,
with a gesture of protestation.

"Listen. That creek under the Head of Orrisdale is known to the
fisher-folk as the Lockjaw. Do you need to be told why? Because there is
only one road out of it. My son went into the creek, but he never left
it alive."

"How is this known, Thorkell?"

"How? In this way. Almost immediately my son had gone from my house
Jarvis Kerruish went after him, to overtake him and bring him back. Not
knowing the course, Jarvis had to feel his way and inquire, but he came
upon his trace at last, and followed Ewan on the road he had taken, and
reached the creek soon after the parish clock struck five. Now, if my
son had returned as he went, Jarvis Kerruish must have met him."

"Patience, Thorkell, have patience," said the Bishop. "If Ewan found Dan
at the Lockjaw Creek, why did not the young man Jarvis find both of them
there?"

"Why?" the Deemster echoed, "because the one was dead, and the other in
hiding."

The Bishop was standing at that moment by the table, and one hand was
touching something that lay upon it. A cry that was half a sigh and half
a suppressed scream of terror burst from him. The Deemster understood it
not, but set it down to the searching power of his own words. Shuddering
from head to foot the Bishop looked down at the thing his hand had
touched. It was the militia belt. He had left it where it had fallen
from his fingers when the men brought it to him. Beside it, half hidden
by many books and papers, the two small daggers lay.

Then a little low cunning crept over the heart of that saintly man, and
he glanced up into his brother's face with a dissembled look, not of
inquiry, but of supplication. The Deemster's face was imperious, and his
eyes betrayed no discovery. He had seen nothing.

"You make me shudder, Thorkell," the Bishop murmured, and while he spoke
he lifted the belt and dagger furtively amid a chaos of loose papers,
and whipped them into the door of a cabinet that stood open.

His duplicity had succeeded; nor even the hollow ring of his voice had
awakened suspicion, but he sat down with a crushed and abject mien. His
manhood had gone, shame overwhelmed him, and he ceased to contend.

"I said there was only one way out of the creek," said the Deemster,
"but there are two."

"Ah!"

"The other way is by the sea. My son took that way, but he took it as a
dead man, and when he came ashore he was wrapped for sea-burial--by
ignorant bunglers who had never buried a body at sea before--in a
sailcloth of the 'Ben-my-Chree.'"

The Bishop groaned, and wiped his forehead.

"Do you ask for further evidence?" said the Deemster, in a relentless
voice. "If so, it is at hand. Where was the 'Ben-my-Chree' last night?
It was on the sea. Last night was Christmas Eve, a night of twenty old
Manx customs. Where were the boat's crew and owner? They were away from
their homes. To-day was Christmas Day. Where were the men? Their wives
and children were waiting for some of them to eat with them their
Christmas dinner and drink their Christmas ale. But they were not in
their houses, and no one knew where they were. Can circumstances be more
damning? Speak, and say. Don't wring your hands; be a man, and look me
in the face."

"Have mercy, Thorkell," the Bishop murmured, utterly prostrate. But the
Deemster went on to lash him as a brutal master whips a broken-winded
horse.

"When the 'Ben-my-Chree' came into harbor to-night what was the behavior
of crew and owner? Did they go about their business as they are wont to
do when wind and tide has kept them too long at sea? Did they show their
faces before suspicion as men should who have no fear? No. They skulked
away. They fled from question. At this moment they are being pursued."

The Bishop covered his face with his hands.

"And so I ask you again," resumed the Deemster, "what do you intend to
do with the murderer of my son?"

"Oh, Dan, Dan, my boy, my boy!" the Bishop sobbed, and for a moment his
grief mastered all other emotions.

"Ah, see how it is! You name your son, and you know that he is guilty."

The Bishop lifted up his head, and his eyes flashed. "I do not know that
my son is guilty," he said in a tone that made the Deemster pause. But,
speedily recovering his self-command, the Deemster continued, in a tone
of confidence, "Your conscience tells you that it is so."

The Bishop's spirit was broken in a moment.

"What would you have me do, Thorkell?"

"To present your son for murder in the court of your barony."

"Man, man, do you wish to abase me?" said the Bishop. "Do you come to
drive me to despair? Is it not enough that I am bent to the very earth
with grief, but that you of all men should crush me to the dust itself
with shame? Think of it--my son is my only tie to earth, I have none
left but him; and, because I am a judge in the island as well as its
poor priest, I am to take him and put him to death."

Then his voice, which had been faint, grew formidable.

"What is it you mean by this cruel torture? If my son is guilty, must
his crime go unpunished though his father's hand is not lifted against
him? For what business are you yourself on this little plot of earth?
You are here to punish the evil-doer. It is for you to punish him if he
is guilty. But no, for you to do that would be for you to be merciful.
Mercy you will not show to him or me. And, to make a crime that is
terrible at the best thrice shameful as well, you would put a father as
judge over his son. Man, man, have you no pity? No bowels of compassion?
Think of it. My son is myself, life of my life. Can I lop away my right
hand and still keep all my members? Only think of it. Thorkell,
Thorkell, my brother, think of it. I am a father, and so are you. Could
you condemn to death your own son?"

The sonorous voice had broken again to a sob of supplication.

"Yes, you are a father," said the Deemster, unmoved, "but you are also a
priest and a judge. Your son is guilty of a crime--"

"Who says he is guilty?"

"Yourself said as much a moment since."

"Have I said so? What did I say? They had no cause of quarrel--Dan and
Ewan. They loved each other. But I can not think. My head aches. I fear
my mind is weakened by these terrible events."

The Bishop pressed his forehead hard, like a man in bodily pain, but the
Deemster showed no ruth.

"It is now for you to put the father aside and let the priest-judge come
forward. It is your duty to God and your Church. Cast your selfish
interests behind you and quit yourself like one to whom all eyes look
up. The Bishop has a sacred mission. Fulfil it. You have punished
offenders against God's law and the Church's rule beforetime. Don't let
it be said that the laws of God and Church are to pass by the house of
their Bishop."

"Pity, pity! have pity," the Bishop murmured.

"Set your own house in order, or with what courage will you ever again
dare to intrude upon the houses of your people? Now is your time to show
that you can practise the hard doctrine that you have preached. Send him
to the scaffold--yes, to the scaffold--"

The Bishop held up his two hands and cried: "Listen, listen. What would
it avail you though my son's life were given in forfeit for the life of
your son? You never loved Ewan. Ah! it is true, as Heaven is my witness,
you never loved him. While I shall have lost two sons at a blow. Are you
a Christian, to thirst like this for blood? It is not justice you want;
it is vengeance. But vengeance belongs to God."

"Is he not guilty?" the Deemster answered. "And is it not your duty and
mine to punish the guilty?"

But the Bishop went on impetuously, panting as he spoke, and in a faint,
broken tone:

"Then if you should be mistaken--if all this that you tell me should be
a fatal coincidence that my son can not explain away? What if I took him
and presented him, and sent him to the gallows, as you say, and some
day, when all that is now dark became light, and the truth stood
revealed, what if then I had to say to myself before God, 'I have taken
the life of my son?' Brother, is your heart brazed out that you can
think of it without pity?"

The Bishop had dropped to his knees.

"I see that you are a coward," said the Deemster, contemptuously. "And
so this is what your religion comes to! I tell you that the eyes of the
people of this island are on you. If you take the right course now their
reverence is yours; if the wrong one, it will be the worst evil that has
ever befallen you from your youth upward."

The Bishop cried, "Mercy, mercy--for Christ's sake, mercy!" and he
looked about the room with terrified eyes, as if he would fly from it if
he could.

But the Deemster's lash had one still heavier blow.

"More, more," he said--"your Church is on its trial also, and if you
fail of your duty now, the people will rise and sweep it away."

Then a great spasm of strength came to the Bishop, and he rose to his
feet.

"Silence, sir!" he said, and the Deemster quailed visibly before the
heat and flame of his voice and manner.

But the spasm was gone in an instant, for his faith was dead as his soul
was dead, and only the galvanic impulse of the outraged thing remained.
And truly his faith had taken his manhood with it, for he sat down and
sobbed. In a few moments more the Deemster left him without another
word. Theirs had been a terrible interview, and its mark remained to the
end like a brand of iron on the hearts of both the brothers.

The night was dark but not cold, and the roads were soft and draggy.
Over the long mile that divided Bishop's Court from Ballamona the old
Deemster walked home with a mind more at ease than he had known for a
score of years. "It was true enough, as he said, that I never loved
Ewan," the Deemster thought. "But then whose was the fault but Ewan's
own? At every step he was against me, and if he took the side of the
Bishop and his waistrel son he did it to his own confusion. And he had
his good parts, too. Patient and long-suffering like his mother, poor
woman, dead and gone. A little like my old father also, the simple soul.
With fire, too, and rather headstrong at times. I wonder how it all
happened."

Then, as he trudged along through the dark roads, his mind turned full
on Dan. "He must die," he thought, with content and a secret
satisfaction. "By Bishop's law or Deemster's he can not fail but be
punished with death. And so this is the end! He was to have his foot on
my neck some day. So much for the brave vaunt and prophecy. And when he
is dead my fate is broken. Tut, who talks of fate in these days? Idle
chatter and balderdash!"

When the Deemster got to Ballamona he found the coroner, Quayle the
Gyke, in the hall awaiting him. Jarvis Kerruish was on the settle
pushing off his slush-covered boots with a bootjack.

"Why, what? How's this?" said the Deemster.

"They've escaped us so far," said the coroner, meekly.

"Escaped you? What? In this little rat-hole of an island, and they've
escaped you?"

"We gave them chase for six miles, sir. They've taken the mountains for
it. Up past the Sherragh Vane at Sulby, and under Snaefell and
Beinn-y-Phott--that's their way, sir. And it was black dark up yonder,
and we had to leave it till the morrow. We'll take them, sir, make
yourself easy."

"Had any one seen them? Is he with them?"

"Old Moore, the miller at Sulby, saw them as they went by the mill
running mortal hard. But he told us no, the captain wasn't among them."

"What! then you've been wasting your wind over the fishermen while he
has been clearing away?"

Jarvis Kerruish raised his head from where he was pulling on his
slippers.

"Set your mind at rest, sir," he said, calmly. "We will find him, though
he lies like a toad under a stone."

"Mettle, mettle," the Deemster chuckled into his breast, and proceeded
to throw off his cloak. Then he turned to the coroner again.

"Have you summoned the jury of inquiry?"

"I have, sir--six men of the parish--court-house at Ramsey--eight in the
morning."

"We must indict the whole six of them. You have their names? Jarvis will
write them down for you. We can not have five of them giving evidence
for the sixth."

The Deemster left the hall with his quick and restless step, and turned
into the dining-room, where Mona was helping to lay the supper. Her face
was very pale, her eyes were red with long weeping, she moved to and fro
with a slow step, and misery itself seemed to sit on her. But the
Deemster saw nothing of this. "Mona," he said, "you must be stirring
before daybreak to-morrow."

She lifted her face with a look of inquiry.

"We breakfast at half-past six, and leave in the coach at seven."

With a puzzled expression she asked in a low tone where they were to go.

"To Ramsey, for the court of inquiry," he answered with complacency.

Mona's left hand went up to her breast, and her breath came quick.

"But why am I to go?" she asked, timidly.

"Because in cases of this kind, when the main evidence is
circumstantial, it is necessary to prove a motive before it is possible
to frame an indictment."

"Well, father?" Mona's red eyes opened wide with a startled look, and
their long lashes trembled.

"Well, girl, you shall prove the motive."

The Deemster opened the snuff-horn on the mantel-shelf.

"_I_ am to do so?"

The Deemster glanced up sharply under his spectacles. "Yes, you
child--you," he said, with quiet emphasis, and lifted his pinch of snuff
to his nose.

Mona's breast began to heave, and all her slight frame to quiver.

"Father," she said, faintly, "do you mean that I am to be the chief
witness against the man who took my brother's life?"

"Well, perhaps, but we shall see. And now for supper, and then to bed,
for we must be stirring before the lark."

Mona was going out of the room with a heavy step, when the Deemster, who
had seated himself at the table, raised his eyes. "Wait," he said; "when
were you last out of the house?"

"Yesterday morning, sir. I was at the plowing match."

"Have you had any visitors since five last night?"

"Visitors--five--I do not understand--"

"That will do, child."

Jarvis Kerruish came into the room at this moment. He was the Deemster's
sole companion at supper that night. And so ended that terrible
Christmas Day.



CHAPTER XXX

THE DEEMSTER'S INQUEST


It was at the late dawn of the following morning that Dan Mylrea escaped
from his night-long burial in the shaft of the disused lead mine. On his
way to Ballamona he went by the little shed where Mrs. Kerruish lived
with her daughter Mally. The sound of his footstep on the path brought
the old woman to the doorway.

"Asking pardon, sir," the old body said, "and which way may you be
going?"

Dan answered that he was going to Ballamona.

"Not to the Deemster's? Yes? Och! no. Why, d'ye say? Well, my daughter
was away at the Street last night--where she allis is o' nights, more's
the pity, leaving me, a lone woman, to fret and fidget--and there in the
house where they tell all newses, the guzzling craythurs, they were
sayin' as maybe it was yourself as shouldn't trouble the Deemster for a
bit of a spell longer."

Dan took no further heed of the old woman's warning than to thank her as
he passed on. When he got to Ballamona the familiar place looked strange
and empty. He knocked, but there was no answer. He called, but there was
no reply. Presently a foot on the gravel woke the vacant stillness. It
was Hommy-beg, and at sight of Dan he lifted both his hands.

Then, amid many solemn exclamations, slowly, disjointedly, explaining,
excusing, Hommy told what had occurred. And no sooner had Dan realized
the business that was afoot, and that the Deemster, with Jarvis Kerruish
and Mona, were gone to Ramsey on a court of inquiry touching Ewan's
death, than he straightway set his face in the same direction.

"The court begins its business at eight, you say? Well, good-by, Hommy,
and God bless you!" he said, and turned sharply away. But he stopped
suddenly, and came back the pace or two. "Wait, let us shake hands, old
friend; we may not have another chance. Good-by."

In a moment Dan was going at a quick pace down the road.

It was a heavy morning. The mists were gliding slowly up the mountains
in grim, hooded shapes, their long white skirts sweeping the meadows as
they passed. Overhead the sky was dim and empty. Underfoot the roads
were wet and thick. But Dan felt nothing of this wintry gloom. It did
not touch his emancipated spirit. His face seemed to open as he walked,
and his very stature to increase. He reflected that the lumbering coach
which carried the Deemster and his daughter and bastard son must now be
far on its way through the ruts of this rough turnpike that lay between
Michael and Ramsey. And he pushed on with new vigor.

He passed few persons on the roads. The houses seemed to be deserted.
Here or there a little brood of children played about a cottage door. He
hailed them cheerily as he went by, and could not help observing that
when the little ones recognized him they dropped their play and huddled
together at the threshold like sheep affrighted.

As he passed into Ballaugh under the foot of Glen Dhoo he came upon
Corlett Ballafayle. The great man opened his eyes wide at sight of Dan
and made no answer to his salutation; but when Dan had gone on some
distance he turned, as if by a sudden impulse, and hailed him with scant
ceremony.

"Ay, why do you take that road?"

Dan twisted his head, but he did not stop, and Corlett Ballafayle
laughed in his throat at a second and more satisfying reflection, and
then, without waiting for an answer to his question, he waved the back
of one hand, and said, "All right. Follow on. It's nothing to me."

Dan had seen the flicker of good-will, followed by the flame of
uncharity, that flashed over the man's face, but he had no taste or time
for parley. Pushing on past the muggy inn by the bridge, past the smithy
that stood there and the brewery that stood opposite, he came into the
village. There the women, standing at their doors, put their heads
together, looked after him and whispered, and, like Corlett Ballafayle,
forgot to answer his greeting. It was then that over his new-found
elevation of soul Dan felt a creeping sense of shame. The horror and
terror that had gone before had left no room for the lower emotion.
Overwhelmed by a crushing idea of his guilt before God, he had not
realized his position in the eyes of his fellow-men. But now he realized
it, and knew that his crime was known. He saw himself as a hunted man, a
homeless, friendless wanderer on the earth, a murderer from whom all
must shrink. His head fell into his breast as he walked, his eyes
dropped to the ground, he lifted his face no more to the faces of the
people whom he passed, and gave none his salutation.

The mists lifted off the mountains as the morning wore on, and the bald
crowns were seen against the empty sky. Dan quickened his pace. When he
came to Sulby it had almost quickened to a run, and as he went by the
mill in the village he noticed that old Moore, the miller, who was a
square-set, middle-aged man with a heavy jowl, stood at the open door
and watched him. He did not lift his eyes, but he was conscious that
Moore turned hurriedly into the mill, and that at the next instant one
of his men came as hurriedly out of it.

In a few minutes more he was at the bridge that crosses the Sulby River,
and there he was suddenly confronted by a gang of men, with Moore at
their head. They had crossed the river by the ford at the mill-side, and
running along the southern bank of it, had come up to the bridge at the
moment that Dan was about to cross it from the road. Armed with heavy
sticks, which they carried threateningly, they called on Dan to
surrender himself. Dan stopped, looked into their hot faces, and said,
"Men, I know what you think, but you are wrong. I am not running away; I
am going to Ramsey court-house."

At that the men laughed derisively, and the miller said with a grin that
if Dan was on his road to Ramsey they would take the pleasure of his
company, just to see him safely landed there.

Dan's manner was quiet. He looked about him with calm but searching
looks. At the opposite bank of the river, close to the foot of the
bridge, there was a smithy. At that moment the smith was hooping a
cart-wheel, and his striker set down his sledge and tied up his leather
apron to look on and listen.

"Men," said Dan again, in a voice that was low but strong and resolute,
"it is the truth that I am on my way to Ramsey court-house, but I mean
to go alone, and don't intend to allow any man to take me there as a
prisoner."

"A likely tale," said the miller, and with that he stepped up to Dan and
laid a hand upon his arm. At the next moment the man of flour had loosed
his grip with a shout, and his white coat was rolling in the thick mud
of the wet road. Then the other men closed around with sticks uplifted,
but before they quite realized what they were to do, Dan had twisted
some steps aside, darted through them, laid hold of the smith's sledge,
swung it on his shoulder, and faced about.

"Now, men," he said, as calmly as before, "none of you shall take me to
Ramsey, and none of you shall follow me there. I must go alone."

The men had fallen quickly back. Dan's strength of muscle was known, and
his stature was a thing to respect. They were silent for a moment and
dropped their sticks. Then they began to mutter among themselves, and
ask what it was to them after all, and what for should they meddle, and
what was a few shillin' anyway?

Dan and his sledge passed through. The encounter had cost him some
minutes of precious time, but the ardor of his purpose had suffered no
abatement from the untoward event, though his heart was the heavier for
it and the dreary day looked the darker.

Near the angle of the road that turns to the left to Ramsey and to the
right to the Sherragh Vane, there was a little thatched cottage of one
story, with its window level with the road. It was the house of a
cobbler named Callister, a lean, hungry, elderly man, who lived there
alone under the ban of an old rumor of evil doings of some sort in his
youth. Dan knew the poor soul. Such human ruins had never been quarry to
him, the big-hearted scapegrace, and now, drawing near, he heard the
beat of the old man's hammer as he worked. The hammering ceased, and
Callister appeared at his door.

"Capt'n," he stammered, "do you know--do you know--?" He tried to frame
his words and could not, and at last he blurted out, "Quayle the Gyke
drove by an hour ago."

Dan knew what was in the heart of the poor battered creature, and it
touched him deeply. He was moving off without speaking, merely waving
his hand for answer and adieu, when the cobbler's dog, as lean and
hungry as its master to look upon, came from the house and looked up at
Dan out of its rheumy eyes and licked his hand.

The cobbler still stood at his door, fumbling in his fingers his
cutting-knife, worn obliquely to the point, and struggling to speak more
plainly.

"The Whitehaven packet leaves Ramsey to-night, capt'n," he said.

Dan waved his hand once more. His heart sank yet lower. Only by the very
dregs of humanity, the very quarry of mankind, and by the dumb creatures
that licked his hand, was his fellowship rewarded. Thus had he wasted
his fidelity, and thrown his loyalty away. In a day he had become a
hunted man. So much for the world's gratitude and even the world's pity.
And yet, shunned or hunted, a mark for the finger of shame or an aim for
the hand of fate, he felt, as he had felt before, bound by strong ties
to his fellow-creatures. He was about to part from them; he was meeting
them for the last time. Not even their coldest glance of fear or
suspicion made a call on his resolution.

At every step his impatience became more lively. Through Lezayre, and
past Milntown, he walked at a quick pace. He dared not run, lest his
eagerness should seem to betray him and he should meet with another such
obstacle as kept him back at Sulby Bridge. At length he was walking
through the streets of Ramsey. He noticed that most of the people who
passed him gave him a hurried and startled look, and went quickly on. He
reached the court-house at last. Groups stood about the Saddle Inn, and
the south side of the enclosure within the rails was crowded. The clock
in the church tower in the market-place beyond was striking nine. It was
while building that square tower, twenty years before, that the mason
Looney had dropped to his knees on the scaffold and asked the blessing
of the Bishop as he passed. To the Bishop's son the clock of the tower
seemed now to be striking the hour of doom.

The people within the rails of the courtyard fell aside as Dan pushed
his way through, and the dull buzz of their gossip fell straightway to a
great silence. But those who stood nearest the porch were straining
their necks toward the inside of the court-house in an effort to see and
hear. Standing behind them for an instant Dan heard what was said in
whispers by those within to those without, and thus he learned what had
been done.

The Deemster's inquest had been going on for an hour. First, the
landlady of the "Three Legs of Man" had sworn that, at about three
o'clock on Christmas Eve, Parson Ewan had inquired at her house for Mr.
Dan Mylrea, and had been directed to the creek known sometimes as the
Lockjaw. Then the butcher from the shambles in the lane had sworn that
Parson Ewan had passed him walking toward the creek; and the longshore
fishermen who brought the body to Bishop's Court gave evidence as to
when (ten o'clock on Christmas morning) and where (the coral ground for
herrings, called the Mooragh) it came ashore. After these, Jarvis
Kerruish had sworn to following Parson Ewan within half an hour of the
deceased leaving Ballamona, to hearing a loud scream as he approached
the lane leading to Orris Head, and to finding at the creek the
fisher-lad, Davy Fayle, whose manner awakened strong suspicion when he
was questioned as to whether he had seen Parson Ewan and his master, Mr.
Daniel Mylrea. The wife of one of the crew of the "Ben-my-Chree" had
next been called to say that the fishing-boat had been at sea from
high-water on Christmas Eve. The woman had given her evidence with
obvious diffidence and some confusion, repeating and contradicting
herself, being sharply reprimanded by the Deemster, and finally breaking
down into a torrent of tears. When she had been removed the housekeeper
at the old Ballamona, an uncomfortable, bewildered old body, stated that
Mr. Dan Mylrea had not been home since the early morning on the day
before Christmas Day. Finally, the harbor-master at Peel had identified
the sailcloth in which the body had been wrapped as a drift yawlsail of
the "Ben-my-Chree," and he had also sworn that the lugger of that name
had come into the harbor at low-water the previous night, with the men
Quilleash, Teare, Corkell, Crennell, and Davy Fayle, as well as the
owner, Mr. Dan Mylrea, aboard of her.

Without waiting to hear more, Dan made one great call on his resolution,
and pushed his way through the porch into the court-house. Then he
realized that there was still some virtue left in humanity. No sooner
had the people in the court become aware of his presence among them than
one stepped before him as if to conceal him from those in front, while
another tapped him on the shoulder, and elbowed a way out, beckoning him
to follow as if some pressing errand called him away.

But Dan's purpose was fixed, and no cover for cowardice availed to shake
it. Steadfast and silent he stood at the back of the court, half hidden
by the throng about him, trying to look on with a cool countenance, and
to fix his attention on the proceedings of his own trial. At first he
was conscious of no more than the obscurity of the dusky place and a
sort of confused murmur that rose from a table at the farther end. For a
while he looked stupidly on, and even trembled slightly. But all at once
he found himself listening and seeing all that was going on before him.

The court-house was densely crowded. On the bench sat the Deemster, his
thin, quick face as sharp as a pen within his heavy wig. Jarvis Kerruish
and Quayle, the coroner, stood at a table beneath. Stretched on the top
of this table was a canvas sail. Six men from Michael sat to the right
as a jury. But Dan's eyes passed over all these as if scarcely conscious
of their presence, and turned by an instinct of which he knew nothing
toward the witness-box. And there Mona herself was now standing. Her
face was very pale and drawn hard about the lips, which were set firm,
though the nostrils quivered visibly. She wore a dark cloak of
half-conventual pattern, with a hood that fell back from the close hat
that sat like a nun's cap about her smooth forehead. Erect she stood,
with the fire of two hundred eager eyes upon her, but her bosom heaved
and the fingers of her ungloved hand gripped nervously the rail in front
of her.

In an instant the thin shrill voice of the Deemster broke on Dan's
consciousness, and he knew that he was listening to his own trial, with
Mona put up to give evidence against him.

"When did you see your brother last?"

"On the afternoon of the day before yesterday."

"At what hour?"

"At about two o'clock."

"What passed between you at that interview?"

There was no answer to this question.

"Tell the jury if there was any unpleasantness between you and your
brother at two o'clock the day before yesterday."

There was a pause, and then the silence was broken by the reply, meekly
spoken:

"It is true that he was angry."

"What was the cause of his anger?"

Another pause and no answer. The Deemster repeated his question, and
still there was no reply.

"Listen; on your answer to this question the burden of the indictment
must rest. Circumstance points but too plainly to a crime. It points to
one man as perpetrator of that crime, and to five other men as
accessories to it. But it is necessary that the jury should gather an
idea of the motive that inspired it. And so I ask again, what was the
difference between you and your brother at your interview on the
afternoon of the day before yesterday?"

There was a deep hush in the court. A gloomy, echoless silence, like
that which goes before a storm, seemed to brood over the place.

All eyes were turned to the witness-box.

"Answer," said the Deemster, with head aslant. "I ask for an answer--I
demand it."

Then the witness lifted up her great, soft, liquid eyes to the
Deemster's face, and spoke: "Is it the judge or the father that demands
an answer?" she said.

"The judge, the judge," the Deemster replied with emphasis, "we know of
no father here."

At that the burden that had rested on Mona's quivering face seemed to
lift away. "Then, if it is the judge that asks the question, I will not
answer it."

The Deemster leaned back in his seat, and there was a low rumble among
the people in the court. Dan found his breath coming audibly from his
throat, his finger-nails digging trenches in his palms, and his teeth
set so hard on his lips that both teeth and lips were bleeding.

After a moment's silence the Deemster spoke again, but more softly than
before, and in a tone of suavity.

"If the judge has no power with you, make answer to the father," and he
repeated his question.

Amid silence that was painful Mona said, in a tremulous voice, "It is
not in a court of justice that a father should expect an answer to a
question like that."

Then the Deemster lost all self-control, and shouted in his shrill
treble that, whether as father or judge, the witness's answer he should
have; that on that answer the guilty man should yet be indicted, and
that even as it would be damning to that man so it should hang him.

The spectators held their breath at the Deemster's words and looked
aghast at the livid face on the bench. They were accustomed to the
Deemster's fits of rage, but such an outbreak of wrath had never before
been witnessed. The gloomy silence was unbroken for a moment, and then
there came the sound of the suppressed weeping of the witness.

"Stop that noise!" said the Deemster. "We know for whom you shed your
tears. But you shall yet do more than cry for the man. If a word of
yours can send him to the gallows, that word shall yet be spoken."

Dan saw and heard all. The dark place, the judge, the jury, the silent
throng, seemed to swim about him. For a moment he struggled with
himself, scarcely able to control the impulse to push through and tear
the Deemster from his seat. At the next instant, with complete
self-possession and strong hold of his passions, he had parted the
people in front of him, and was making his way to the table beneath the
bench. Dense as the crowd was it seemed to open of itself before him,
and only the low rumble of many subdued voices floated faintly in his
ear. He was conscious that all eyes were upon him, but most of all that
Mona was watching him with looks of pain and fear.

He never felt stronger than at that moment. Long enough he had
hesitated, and too often he had been held back, but now his time was
come. He stopped in front of the table, and said in a full clear voice,
"I am here to surrender--I am guilty."

The Deemster looked down in bewilderment; but the coroner, recovering
quickly from his first amazement, bustled up with the air of a constable
making a capture, and put the fetters on Dan's wrists.

What happened next was never afterward rightly known to any of the
astonished spectators. The Deemster asked the jury for their verdict,
and immediately afterward he called on the clerk to prepare the
indictment.

"Is it to be for this man only, or for all six?" the clerk asked.

"All six," the Deemster answered.

Then the prisoner spoke again. "Deemster," he said, "the other men are
innocent."

"Where are they?"

"I do not know."

"If innocent, why are they in hiding?"

"I tell you, sir, they are innocent. Their only fault is that they have
tried to be loyal to me."

"Were they with you when the body was buried?"

Dan made no answer.

"Did _they_ bury it?"

Still no answer. The Deemster turned to the clerk, "The six."

"Deemster," Dan said, with stubborn resolution, "why should I tell you
what is not true? I have come here when, like the men themselves, I
might have kept away."

"You have come here, prisoner, when the hand of the law was upon you,
when its vengeance was encircling you, entrapping you, when it was
useless to hold out longer; you have come here thinking to lessen your
punishment by your surrender. But you have been mistaken. A surrender
extorted when capture is certain, like a confession made when crime can
not be denied, has never yet been allowed to lessen the punishment of
the guilty. Nor shall it lessen it now."

Then as the Deemster rose a cry rang through the court. It was such a
cry out of a great heart as tells a whole story to a multitude. In a
moment the people saw and knew all. They looked at the two who stood
before them, Dan and Mona, the prisoner and the witness, with eyes that
filled, and from their dry throats there rose a deep groan from their
midst.

"I tell you, Deemster, it is false, and the men are innocent," said Dan.

The clerk was seen to hand a document to the Deemster, who took a pen
and signed it.

"The accused stands committed for trial at the Court of General Jail
Delivery."

At the next moment the Deemster was gone.



CHAPTER XXXI

FATHER AND SON


The prison for felons awaiting trial in the civil courts was in Castle
Rushen, at Castletown, but Dan Mylrea was not taken to it. There had
been a general rising in the south of the island on the introduction of
a coinage of copper money, and so many of the rioters had been arrested
and committed for trial, without bail, at the Court of General Jail
Delivery, that the prison at Castle Rushen was full to overflowing.
Twenty men had guarded the place day and night, being relieved every
twenty-four hours by as many more from each parish in rotation, some of
them the kith and kin of the men imprisoned, and all summoned to
Castletown in the morning by the ancient mode of fixing a wooden cross
over their doors at night.

Owing to this circumstance the Deemster made the extraordinary blunder
of ordering his coroner to remove Dan to the prison beneath the ruined
castle at Peeltown. Now, the prison on St. Patrick's islet had for
centuries been under the control of the Spiritual Courts, and was still
available for use in the execution of the ecclesiastical censures. The
jailer was the parish sumner, and the sole governor and director was the
Bishop himself. All this the Deemster knew full well, and partly in
defiance of his brother's authority, partly in contempt of it, but
mainly in bitter disdain of his utter helplessness, where his son's
guilt was manifest and confessed, he arrogated the right, without
sanction from the spiritual powers, of committing Dan to the Church
prison, the civil prison being full.

It was a foul and loathsome dungeon, and never but once had Bishop
Mylrea been known to use it. Dark, small, damp, entered by a score of
narrow steps, down under the vaults on the floor of the chapel, over the
long runnels made in the rock by the sea, it was as vile a hole as the
tyranny of the Church ever turned into a jail for the punishment of
those who resisted its authority.

The sumner in charge was old Paton Gorry, of Kirk Patrick, a feeble soul
with a vast respect for authority, and no powers of nice distinction
between those who were placed above him. When he received the Deemster's
warrant for Dan's committal, he did not doubt its validity; and when
Quayle, the coroner, for his own share ordered that the prisoner should
be kept in the close confinement of the dungeon, he acquiesced without
question.

If Dan's humiliation down to this moment had not been gall and wormwood
to his proud and stubborn spirit the fault did not lie at the door of
Quayle the Gyke. Every indignity that an unwilling prisoner could have
been subjected to Dan underwent. From the moment of leaving the
court-house at Ramsey, Dan was pushed and huddled and imperiously
commanded with such an abundant lack of need and reason that at length
the people who crowded the streets or looked from their windows--the
same people, many of them, who had shrunk from Dan as he entered the
town--shouted at the coroner and groaned at him. But Dan himself, who
had never before accepted a blow from any man without returning it, was
seen to walk tamely by the coroner's side, towering above him in great
stature, but taking his rough handling like a child at his knees.

At the door of the prison where Quayle's function ended that of the
sumner began, and old Gorry was a man of another mold. Twenty times he
had taken charge of persons imprisoned six days for incontinence, and
once he had held the governor's wife twelve hours for slander, and once
again a fighting clergyman seven days for heresies in looking toward
Rome, but never before had he put man, woman, or child into the
pestilential hole under the floor of the old chapel. Dan he remembered
since the Bishop's son was a boy in corduroys, and when the rusty key of
the dungeon turned on him with a growl in its wards, and old Gorry went
shivering to the guard-room above and kindled himself a fire there and
sat and smoked, the good man under his rough surtout got the better of
the bad jailer. Then down he went again, and with a certain
shame-facedness, some half-comic, half-pathetic efforts of professional
reserve, he said he wouldn't object, not he, if Dan had a mind to come
up and warm himself. But Dan declined with words of cold thanks.

"No, Gorry," he said, "I don't know that I feel the cold."

"Oh, all right, all right, sit ye there, sit ye there," said Gorry. He
whipped about with as much of largeness as he could simulate, rattled
his keys as he went back, and even hummed a tune as he climbed the
narrow stairs. But, warming itself at the fire, the poor human nature in
the old man's breast began to tear him pitilessly. He could get no peace
for memories that would arise of the days when Dan plagued him sorely,
the sad little, happy dog. Then up he rose again, and down he went to
the dungeon once more.

"I respects the ould Bishop," he said, just by way of preliminary
apology and to help him to carry off his intention, "and if it be so
that a man _has_ done wrong I don't see--I don't see," he stammered, "it
isn't natheral that he should be starved alive anyway, and a cold
winter's night too."

"It's no more than I deserve," Dan mumbled; and at that word old Gorry
whipped about as before, repeating loftily, "Sit ye there, sit ye
there."

It was not for him to cringe and sue to a prisoner to come out of that
foul hole, och! no; and the Bishop's sumner inflated his choking chest
and went back for another pipe. But half an hour later the night had
closed in, and old Gorry, with a lantern in his hand, was at the door of
Dan's prison again.

"To tell the truth, sir," he muttered, "I can't get lave for a wink of
sleep up yonder, and if you don't come up to the fire I wouldn't trust
but I'll be forced to stay down here in the cold myself."

Before Dan could make answer there came a loud knocking from overhead.
In another moment the key of the door had turned in its lock from
without, and Gorry's uncertain footfall was retreating on the steps.

When Dan had first been left alone in his dark cell he had cast himself
down on the broad slab cut from the rock, which was his only seat and
bed. His suspense was over; the weight of uncertainty was lifted from
his brain; and he tried to tell himself that he had done well. He
thought of Ewan now with other feelings than before--of his uprightness,
his tenderness, his brotherly affection, his frequent intercession, and
no less frequent self-sacrifice. Then he thought of his own headlong
folly, his blank insensitiveness, his cold ingratitude, and, last of
all, of his blundering passion and mad wrath. All else on both sides was
blotted from his memory in that hour of dark searching. Alone with his
crime--tortured no more by blind hopes of escaping its penalty, or dread
misgivings as to the measure of his guilt--his heart went out to the
true friend whose life he had taken with a great dumb yearning and a
bitter remorse. No cruel voice whispered now in palliation of his
offense that it had not been murder, but the accident of self-defense.
He had proposed the fight that ended with Ewan's death, and, when Ewan
would have abandoned it, he, on his part, would hear of no truce. Murder
it was; and, bad as murder is at the best, this murder had been, of all
murders, most base and foul. Yes, he had done well. Here alone could he
know one hour of respite from terrible thoughts. This dark vault was his
only resting-place until he came to lie in the last resting-place of
all. There could be no going back. Life was forever closed against him.
He had spilled the blood of the man who had loved him with more than a
brother's love, and to whom his own soul had been grappled with hooks of
steel. It was enough, and the sick certainty of the doom before him was
easiest to bear.

It was with thoughts like these that Dan had spent his first hours in
prison, and when old Gorry had interrupted them time after time with
poor little troubles about the freezing cold of the pestilential place
he hardly saw through the old man's simulation into the tender bit of
human nature that lay behind it.

A few minutes after Gorry had left the cell, in answer to the loud
knocking that had echoed through the empty chambers overhead, Dan could
hear that he was returning to it, halting slowly down the steps with
many a pause, and mumbling remarks meantime, as if lighting some one who
came after him.

"Yes, my lord, it's dark, very dark. I'll set the lantern here, my lord,
and turn the key."

In another moment old Gorry was at Dan's side, saying, in a fearful
undertone, "Lord 'a' massy! It's the Bishop hisself. I lied to him
mortal, so I did--but no use--I said you were sleeping, but no good at
all, at all. He wouldn't take rest without putting a sight on you. Here
he is--Come in, my lord."

Almost before Dan's mind, distraught by other troubles, had time to
grasp what Gorry said, the old jailer had clapped his lantern on the
floor of the cell, and had gone from it, and Dan was alone with his
father.

"Dan, are you awake?" the Bishop asked, in a low, eager tone. His eyes
were not yet familiar with the half-light of the dark place, and he
could not see his son. But Dan saw his father only too plainly, and one
glance at him in that first instant of recovered consciousness went far
to banish as an empty sophism the soothing assurance he had lately
nursed at his heart that in what he had done he had done well.

The Bishop was a changed and shattered man. His very stature seemed to
have shrunk, and his Jovian white head was dipped into his breast. His
great calm front was gone, and in the feeble light of the lantern on the
floor his eyes were altered and his face seemed to be cut deep with
lines of fear and even of cunning. His irresolute mouth was half-open,
as if it had only just emitted a startled cry. In one of his hands he
held a small parcel bound tightly with a broad strap, and the other hand
wandered nervously in the air before him.

Dan saw everything in an instant. This, then, was the first-fruits of
that day's work. He rose from his seat.

"Father!" he cried, in a faint, tremulous voice.

"My son!" the Bishop answered, and for some swift moments thereafter the
past that had been very bitter to both was remembered no more by either.

But the sweet oblivion was cruelly brief. "Wait," the Bishop whispered,
"are we alone?" And with that the once stately man of God crept on
tiptoe like a cat to the door of the cell, and put his head to it and
listened.

"Art thou there, Paton Gorry?" he asked, feebly simulating his
accustomed tone of quiet authority.

Old Gorry answered from the other side of the door that he was there,
that he was sitting on the steps, that he was not sleeping, but waiting
my lord's return.

The Bishop crept back to Dan's side, with the same cat-like step as
before. "You are safe, my son," he whispered in his low eager tone. "You
shall leave this place. It is my prison, and you shall go free."

Dan had watched his father's movements with a sickening sense.

"Then you do not know that I surrendered?" he said, faintly.

"Yes, yes, oh, yes, I know it. But that was when your arrest was
certain. But now--listen."

Dan felt as if his father had struck him across the face. "That was what
the Deemster said," he began; "but it is wrong."

"Listen--they have nothing against you. I know all. They can not convict
you save on your own confession. And why should you confess?"

"Why?"

"Don't speak--don't explain--I must not hear you--listen!" and the old
man put one arm on his son's shoulder and his mouth to his ear. "There
is only one bit of tangible evidence against you, and it is here; look!"
and he lifted before Dan's face the parcel he carried in his other
trembling hand. Then down he went on one knee, put the parcel on the
floor, and unclasped the strap. The parcel fell open. It contained a
coat, a hat, two militia daggers, and a large heavy stone.

"Look!" the Bishop whispered again, in a note of triumph, and as he
spoke a grin of delight was struck out of his saintly old face.

Dan shuddered at the sight.

"Where did you get them?" he asked.

The Bishop gave a little grating laugh.

"They were brought me by some of my good people," he answered. "Oh, yes,
good people, all of them; and they will not tell. Oh, no, they have
promised me to be silent."

"Promised you?"

"Yes--listen again. Last night--it was dark, I think it must have been
past midnight--I went to all their houses. They were in bed, but I
knocked, and they came down to me. Yes, they gave me their word--on the
Book they gave it. Good people, all--Jabez the tailor, Stean the
cobbler, Juan of Ballacry, and Thormod in the Street. I remember every
man of them."

"Father, do you say you went to these people--these, the very riff-raff
of the island--you went to them--you, and at midnight--and begged
them--"

"Hush, it is nothing. Why not? But this is important." The Bishop, who
was still on his knees, was buckling up the parcel again. "You can sink
it in the sea. Did you mark the stone? That will carry it to the bottom.
And when you are in the boat it will be easy to drop everything
overboard."

"The boat?"

"Ah! have I not told you? Thormod Mylechreest--you remember him? A good
man, Thormod--a tender heart, too, and wronged by his father, poor
misguided man. Well, Mylechreest has promised--I have just left him--to
come down to the harbor at nine to-night, and take the fishing-smack,
the 'Ben-my-Chree,' and bring her round to the west coast of St.
Patrick's Islet, and cast anchor there, and then come ashore in the
boat, and wait for you."

"Wait for me, father?"

"Yes; for this prison is mine, and I shall open its doors to whomsoever
it pleases me to liberate. Look!"

The Bishop rose to his full height, threw back his head, and with a
feeble show of his wonted dignity strode to the door of the cell and
cried, in a poor, stifled echo of his accustomed strong tone, "Paton
Gorry, open thou this door."

Old Gorry answered from without, and presently the door was opened.

"Wider."

The door was thrown wide.

"Now, give me the keys, Paton Gorry," said the Bishop, with the same
assumption of authority.

Old Gorry handed his keys to the Bishop.

"And get thee home, and stay there."

Old Gorry touched his cap and went up the steps.

Then, with a bankrupt smile of sorry triumph, the Bishop turned to his
son. "You see," he said, "you are free. Let me look--what is the hour?"
He fumbled for his watch. "Ah, I had forgotten. I paid my watch away to
poor Patrick Looney. No matter. At nine by the clock Mylechreest will
come for you, and you will go to your boat and set sail for Scotland, or
England, or Ireland, or--or--"

Dan could bear up no longer. His heart was choking. "Father, father, my
father, what are you saying?" he cried.

"I am saying that you are free to leave this place."

"I will not go--I can not go."

The Bishop fetched a long breath and paused for a moment. He put one
trembling hand to his forehead, as if to steady his reeling and heated
brain.

"You can not stay," he said. "Hark! do you hear the wind how it moans?
Or is it the sea that beats on the rock outside? And over our heads are
the dead of ten generations."

But Dan was suffocating with shame; the desolation around, the death
that was lying silent above, and the mother of sorrows that was wailing
beneath had no terrors left for him.

"Father, my father," he cried again, "think what you ask me to do. Only
think of it. You ask me to allow you to buy the silence of the meanest
hinds alive. And at what a price? At the price of the influence, the
esteem, the love, and the reverence that you have won by the labor of
twenty years. And to what end? To the end that I--I--"

"To the end that you may live, my son. Remember what your father's love
has been to you. No, not that--but think what it must have been to him.
Your father would know you were alive. It is true he would never, never
see you. Yes, we should always be apart--you there, and I here--and I
should take your hand and see your face no more. But you would be
alive--"

"Father, do you call it living? Think if I could bear it. Suppose I
escaped--suppose I were safe in some place far away--Australia, America,
anywhere out of the reach of shame and death--suppose I were well, ay,
and prosperous as the world goes--what then?"

"Then I should be content, my son. Yes, content, and thanking God."

"And I should be the most wretched of men. Only think of it, and picture
me there. I should know, though there were none to tell me, I should
remember it as often as the sun rose above me, that at home, thousands
of miles away, my poor father, the righteous Bishop that once was, the
leader of his people and their good father, was the slave of the lowest
offal of them all, powerless to raise his hand for the hands that were
held over him, dumb to reprove for the evil tongues that threatened to
speak ill. And, as often as night came and I tried to sleep, I should
see him there growing old, very old, and, maybe, very feeble, and
wanting an arm to lean on, and good people to honor him and to make him
forget--yes, forget the mad shipwreck of his son's life, but with eyes
that could not lift themselves from the earth for secret shame, tortured
by fears of dishonor, self-tormented and degraded before the face of his
God. No, no, no, I can not take such sacrifice."

The Bishop had drawn nearer to Dan and tried to take his hand. When Dan
was silent he did not speak at once, and when Dan sat on his stone seat
he sat beside him, gentle as a child, and very meek and quiet, and felt
for his hand again, and held it, though Dan would have drawn it away.
Then, as they sat together, nearer the old Bishop crept, nearer and yet
nearer, until one of his trembling arms encircled Dan's neck and the
dear head was drawn down to his swelling, throbbing breast, as if it
were a child's head still, and it was a father's part to comfort it and
to soothe away its sorrows.

"Then we will go together," he said, after a time, in a faint
forlornness of voice, "to the utmost reaches of the earth, leaving all
behind us, and thinking no more of the past. Yes, we will go together,"
he said, very quietly, and he rose to his feet, still holding Dan's
hand.

Dan was suffocating with shame. "Father," he said, "I see all now; you
think me innocent, and so you would leave everything for my sake. But I
am a guilty man."

"Hush! you shall not say that. Don't tell me that. No one shall tell me
that. I will not hear it."

The hot eagerness of the Bishop's refusal to hear with his ears the
story of his son's guilt told Dan but too surely that he had already
heard it with his heart.

"Father, no one would need to tell you. You would find it out for
yourself. And think of that awful undeceiving! You would take your son's
part against the world, believing in him, but you would read his secret
bit by bit, day by day. His crime would steal in between you like a
spectre, it would separate you hour by hour, until at length you would
be forever apart. And that end would be the worst end of all. No, it can
not be. Justice is against it; love is against it. And God, I think God
must be against it, too."

"God!"

Dan did not hear. "Yes, I am guilty," he went on. "I have killed the man
who loved me as his own soul. He would have given his life for my life,
even as he gave his honor for my honor. And I slew him. Ewan! Ewan! my
brother, my brother!" he cried, and where he sat he buried his face in
his hands.

The Bishop stood over his son with the same gentle calm that had come
upon him in the cell, and with not one breath of the restless fever with
which he entered it. Once again he tried to take Dan's hand and to hold
it, and to meet with his own full orbs Dan's swimming eyes.

"Yes, father, it is right that I should die, and it is necessary.
Perhaps God will take my death as an atonement--"

"Atonement!"

"Or, if there is no atonement, there is only hell for my crime, and
before God I am guilty."

"Before God!"

The Bishop echoed Dan's words in a dull, mechanical underbreath, and
stood a long time silent while Dan poured forth his bitter remorse. Then
he said, speaking with something of his own courageous calm of voice,
from something like his own pure face, and with some of the upright
wrinkles of his high forehead smoothed away: "Dan, I will go home and
think. I seem to be awakening from a dreadful nightmare in a world where
no God is, and no light reigns, but all is dark. To tell you the truth,
Dan, I fear my faith is not what it was or should be. I thought I knew
God's ways with his people, and then it seemed as if, after all these
years, I had not known him. But I am only a poor priest, and a very weak
old man. Good-night, my son, I will go home and think. I am like one who
runs to save a child from a great peril and finds a man stronger than
himself and braver--one who looks on death face to face and quails not.
Good-night, Dan, I will go home and pray."

And so he went his way, the man of God in his weakness. He left his son
on the stone seat, with covered face, the lantern, and the parcel on the
floor, and the door of the cell wide open. The keys he carried
half-consciously in his hand. He stumbled along in the darkness down the
winding steps, hewn from the rock, to the boat at the little wooden
jetty, where a boatman sat awaiting him. The night was very dark, and
the sea's loud moan and its dank salt breath were in the air. He did not
see, he did not hear, he did not feel. But there was one in that
lonesome place who saw his dark figure as he passed. "Who is there?"
said an eager voice, as he went through the deep portcullis and out at
the old notched and barred door ajar. But the Bishop neither answered
nor heard.

At the house in Castle Street, near to the quay, he stopped and knocked.
The door was opened by the old sumner.

"I've brought you the keys, Paton Gorry. Go back to your charge."

"Did you lock the doors, my lord?"

"Yes--no, no--I must have forgotten. I fear my mind--but it is of no
moment. Go back, Paton--it will be enough."

"I'll go, my lord," said the sumner.

He went back, but others had been there before him.



CHAPTER XXXII

DIVINATION


Well satisfied with this day's work the Deemster drove from the Ramsey
court-house to midday dinner with his father-in-law, the old archdeacon,
taking Jarvis Kerruish with him. Mona he sent home in the lumbering car
driven by the coroner. It suited well with the girl's troubled mind to
be alone, and when night fell in and the Deemster had not returned, the
grim gloom of the lonely house on Slieu Dhoo brought her no terrors. But
toward nine o'clock the gaunt silence of the place was broken, and from
that time until long after midnight Ballamona was a scene of noise and
confusion.

First came blind Kerry, talking loudly along the passages, wringing her
hands, and crying, "Aw, dear! oh, mam! oh, goodness me!"

Mastha Dan was no longer in prison, he had been kidnapped; four men and
a boy had taken him by main force; bound hand and foot he had been
carried through the mountains to a lonely place; and there at daybreak
to-morrow he was to be shot. All this and more, with many details of
place and circumstance, Kerry had seen as in a flash of light, just as
she was raking the ashes on the fire preparatory to going to bed.

Mona had gone through too much to be within touch of the blind woman's
excitement.

"We must not give way to these fancies, Kerry," she said.

"Fancies, mam? Fancies you're saying? Scoffers may mock, but don't you,
mam--brought up with my own hand, as the saying is."

"I did not mean to mock, Kerry; but we have so many real troubles that
it seems wicked to imagine others--and perhaps a little foolish, too."

At that word the sightless face of Kerry grew to a great gravity.

"Foolish, mam? It is the gift--the gift of the good God. He made me
blind, but he gave me the sights. It would have been hard, and maybe a
taste cruel, to shut me up in the dark, and every living craythur in the
light; but he is a just God and a merciful, as the saying is, and he
gave me the gift for recompense."

"My good Kerry, I am so tired to-night, and must go to bed."

"Aw, yes, and well it has sarved me time upon time--"

"We were up before six this morning, Kerry."

"And now I say to you, send immadient, mam, or the Lord help--"

The blind woman's excitement and Mona's impassibility were broken in
upon by the sound of a man's voice in the hall asking sharply for the
Deemster. At the next moment Quayle, the coroner, was in the room. His
face was flushed, his breath came quick, and his manner betrayed extreme
agitation.

"When the Deemster comes home from Kirk Andreas tell him to go across to
Bishop's Court at once, and say that I will be back before midnight."

So saying, the coroner wheeled about without ceremony, and was leaving
the room.

"What has happened at Bishop's Court?" Mona asked.

"Nothing," he said, impatiently.

"Then why should I tell him to go there?"

The tone of the question awakened the curmudgeon's sense of common
policy.

"Well, if you must know, that man has escaped, and I'm thinking the
Bishop himself has had his foot in the mischief."

Then Kerry, with a confused desire to defend the Bishop, interrupted,
and said, "The Bishop's not at the Coort--let me tell ye that."

Whereupon the coroner smiled with a large dignity, and answered, "I know
it, woman."

"When did this happen?" said Mona.

"Not an hour ago; I am straight from Peeltown this minute."

And without more words the coroner turned his back on her, and was gone
in an instant.

When Quayle had left the room Kerry lifted both hands; her blind face
wore a curious expression of mingled pride and fear. "It is the gift,"
she said, in an awesome whisper.

Mona stood a while in silence and perplexity, and then she said, in
tremulous voice, "Kerry, don't think me among those that scoff, but tell
me over again, my good Kerry, and forgive me."

And Kerry told the story of her vision afresh, and Mona now listened
with eager attention, and interrupted with frequent questions.

"Who where the four men and the boy? Never saw their faces before?
Never? Not in the street? No? Never heard their voices? Ah, surely you
remember their voices? Yes, yes, try to recall them; try, try, my good
Kerry. Ah! the fishermen--they were the voices of the fishermen! How
were you so long in remembering? Quilleash? Yes, old Billy. And
Crennell? Yes, and Teare and Corkell, and the boy Davy Fayle? Poor young
Davy, he was one of them? Yes? Oh, you dear, good Kerry!"

Mona's impassibility was gone, and her questions, like her breath, came
hot and fast.

"And now tell me what place they took him to. The mountains? Yes, but
where? Never saw the place before in all your life? Why, no, of course
not; how could you, Kerry? Ah, don't mind what I say and don't be angry.
But what kind of place? Quick, Kerry, quick."

Kerry's blind face grew solemn, and one hand, with outstretched finger,
she raised before her, as though to trace the scene in the air, as she
described the spot in the mountains where the four men and the boy had
taken Dan.

"It was a great lone place, mam, with the sea a-both sides of you, and a
great large mountain aback of you, and a small low one in front, and a
deep strame running under you through the gorse, and another shallow one
coming into it at a slant, and all whins and tussocks of the lush grass
about, and maybe a willow by the water's side, with the sally-birds
hanging dead from the boughs, and never a stick, nor a sign of a house,
nor a barn, but the ould tumbled cabin where they took him, and only the
sea's roar afar away, and the sheep's bleating, and maybe the mountain
geese cackling, and all to that."

Mona had listened at first with vivid eagerness and a face alive with
animation, but as Kerry went on the girl's countenance saddened. She
fell back a pace or two, and said, in a tone of pain and impatience:

"Oh, Kerry, you have told me nothing. What you say describes nearly
every mountain-top in the island. Was there nothing else? Nothing?
Think. What about the tumble-down house? Had it a roof? Yes? No one
living in it? No buildings about it? A shaft-head and gear? Oh, Kerry,
how slow you are! Quick, dear Kerry! An old mine? A worked-out mine? Oh,
think, and be sure!"

Then the solemnity of the blind woman's face deepened to a look of
inspiration. "Think? No need to think," she said in an altered tone.
"Lord bless me, I see it again. There, there it is--there this very
minute."

She sunk back into a chair, and suddenly became motionless and stiff.
Her sightless eyes were opened, and for the first few moments that
followed thereafter all her senses seemed to be lost to the things about
her. In this dream-state she continued to talk in a slow, broken,
fearsome voice, exclaiming, protesting, and half-sobbing. At first Mona
looked on in an agony of suspense, and then she dropped to her knees at
Kerry's feet, and flung her arms about the blind woman with the cry of a
frightened bird.

"Kerry, Kerry!" she called, as if prompted by an unconscious impulse to
recall her from the trance that was awful to look upon. And in that
moment of contact with the seer she suffered a shock that penetrated
every fibre; she shuddered, the cry of pain died off in her throat, her
parted lips whitened and stiffened, her eyes were frozen in their look
of terror, her breath ceased to come, her heart to beat, and body and
soul together seemed transfixed. In that swift instant of insensibility
the vision passed like a throb of blood to her from the blind woman, and
she saw and knew all.

Half an hour later, Mona, with every nerve vibrating, with eyes of
frenzy and a voice of fear, was at Bishop's Court inquiring for the
Bishop.

"He is this minute home from Peel," said the housekeeper.

Mona was taken to the library, and there the Bishop sat before the fire,
staring stupidly into the flame. His hat and cloak had not yet been
removed, and a riding-whip hung from one of his listless hands.

He rose as Mona entered. She flew to his arms, and while he held her to
his breast his sad face softened, and the pent-up anguish of her heart
overflowed in tears. Then she told him the tangled, inconsequent tale,
the coroner's announcement, Kerry's vision, her own strange dream-state,
and all she had seen in it.

As she spoke, the Bishop looked dazed; he pressed one hand on his
forehead; he repeated her words after her; he echoed the questions she
put to him. Then he lifted his head to betoken silence. "Let me think,"
he said. But the brief silence brought no clearness to his bewildered
brain. He could not think; he could not grasp what had occurred. And the
baffled struggle to comprehend made the veins of his forehead stand out
large and blue. A most pitiful look of weariness came over his mellow
face, and he said in a low tone that was very touching to hear, "To tell
you the truth, my dear child, I do not follow you--my mind seems thick
and clouded--things run together in it--I am only a feeble old man now,
and--But wait" (a flash of light crossed his troubled face)--"you say
you recognize the place in the mountains?"

"Yes, as I saw it in the vision. I have been there before. When I was a
child I was there with Dan and Ewan. It is far up the Sulby River, under
Snaefell, and over Glen Crammag. Don't say it is foolish and womanish,
and only hysteria, dear uncle. I saw it all as plainly as I see you
now."

"Ah, no, my child. If the Patriarch Joseph practised such divination, is
it for me to call it foolishness? But wait, wait--let me think." And
then, in a low murmur, as if communing with himself, he went on: "The
door was left open ... yes, the door ... the door was...."

It was useless. His brain was broken, and would not link its ideas. He
was struggling to piece together the fact that Dan was no longer in
prison with the incidents of his own abandoned preparations for his
son's escape. Mumbling and stammering, he looked vacantly into Mona's
face, until the truth of his impotence forced itself upon her, and she
saw that from him no help for Dan could come.

Then with many tears she left him and hastened back to Ballamona. The
house was in confusion; the Deemster and Jarvis Kerruish had returned,
and the coroner was with them in the study.

"And what of the Peeltown watch?" the Deemster was asking sharply.
"Where was he?"

"Away on some cock-and-bull errand, sir."

"By whose orders?"

"The Bishop's."

"And what of the harbor-master when the 'Ben-my-Chree' was taken away
from her moorings?"

"He also was spirited away."

"By whom?"

"The same messenger--Will-as-Thorn, the parish clerk."

"Old Gorry, the sumner, gave up the prison keys to the Bishop, you say?"

"To the Bishop, sir."

"And left him in the cell, and found the door open and the prisoner gone
upon his return?"

"Just so, sir."

"What have you been doing in the matter?"

"Been to Ramsey, sir, and stationed three men on the quay to see that
nobody leaves the island by the Cumberland packet that sails at
midnight."

"Tut, man, who will need the packet?--the man has the fishing-boat."

Mona's impatience could contain itself no longer. She hurried into the
study and told her tale. The Deemster listened with a keen, quick sense;
he questioned, cross-questioned, and learned all. This done, he laughed
a little, coldly and bitterly, and dismissed the whole story with
contempt.

"Kidnapped? No such matter. Escaped, woman--escaped! And visions,
forsooth! What pedler's French! Get away to bed, girl."

Mona had no choice but to go. Her agitation was painful; her sole
thought was of Dan's peril. She was a woman, and that Dan was a doomed
man, whether in prison or out of it, whether he had escaped or been
kidnapped, was a consideration that had faded from her view. His life
was in imminent danger, and that was everything to her. She had tried to
save him by help of the Bishop, and failing in that direction, she had
attempted the same end by help of the Deemster, his enemy.

The hours passed with feet of lead until three o'clock struck, and then
there was a knock at her door. The Deemster's voice summoned her to
rise, dress quickly and warmly, and come out immediately. She had not
gone to bed, and in two minutes more was standing hooded and cloaked in
the hall. The Deemster, Jarvis, the coroner, and seven men were there.
At the porch a horse, saddled and bridled, was pawing the gravel.

Mona understood everything at a glance. Clearly enough the Deemster
intended to act on the guidance of the vision which he had affected to
despise. Evidently it was meant that she should go with the men to
identify the place she had described.

"An old lead mine under Snaefell and over Glen Crammag, d'you say?"

"Yes, father."

"Daybreak?"

"It was daybreak."

"You would know the place if you saw it again?"

"Yes."

The Deemster turned to the coroner.

"Which course do you take?"

"Across Glen Dhoo, sir, past Ravensdale, and along the mountain-path to
the Sherragh Vane."

"Come, girl, mount; be quick."

Mona was lifted to the saddle, the coroner took the bridle, and they
started away, the seven men walking behind.



CHAPTER XXXIII

KIDNAPPED


What had happened was a strange series of coincidences. Early that day
the crew of the "Ben-my-Chree," in the mountain solitude where they
found freezing and starving safety, had sent one of their number back to
Sulby village to buy a quarter of meal. Teare was the man chosen for the
errand, and having compassed it, he was stealing his way back to the
mountains, when he noticed that great companies of people were coming
from the direction of Ramsey. Lagging behind the larger groups on the
road was a woman whom he recognized as his wife. He attracted her
attention without revealing himself to the people in front. She was
returning from the Deemster's inquest, and told what had occurred there:
that Dan, the Bishop's son, had surrendered, and that the indictment to
the Court of General Jail Delivery had been made out not only in his
name, but in the names of the four men and the boy of the
"Ben-my-Chree."

Teare carried back to the mountains a heavier burden than the quarter of
meal. His mates had watched for him as he plodded up the bank of the
Sulby River with the bag on his back. When he came up his face was
ominous.

"Send the lad away for a spell," he muttered to old Billy Quilleash, and
Davy Fayle was sent to cut gorse for a fire.

Then the men gathered around Teare and heard what had happened. The
disaster had fallen which they foresaw. What was to be done? Crennell,
with a line from a psalm, was for trusting in the Lord; and old
Quilleash, with an oath, was for trusting in his heels. After a pause
Teare propounded his scheme. It centred in Dan. Dan with his confession
was their sole danger. Once rid of Dan they were as free men. Before his
confession of guilt their innocence was beyond his power to prove or
their power to establish. On his way up from the valley Teare had hit on
a daring adventure. They were to break into the castle at Peel, take Dan
by force, bring him up to the mountains, and there give him the choice
of life or death: life if he promised to plead Not Guilty to the
indictment, death if he adhered to the resolution by which he had
surrendered.

The men gathered closer about Teare, and with yet whiter faces. Teare
gave his plan; his scheme was complete; that night they were to carry it
out. Paton Gorry was the jailer at Peel Castle. The lad Davy was the old
sumner's godchild. Davy was to go forth and smuggle Gorry's keys out of
the guard-room. If that were found impossible--well, Paton was an old
man; he might be put quietly out of harm's way--no violence--och! no,
not a ha'p'orth. Then Corkell was son-in-law of the watch at Peeltown,
and hence the watch must take the harbor-master to the "Jolly Herrings,"
in Castle Street, while they themselves, Teare, Quilleash, Crennell, and
Corkell, took the "Ben-my-Chree" from her moorings at the mouth of the
harbor. On the west coast of St. Patrick's Isle they must bear down and
run the dingey ashore. Then Dan must be seized in his cell, bound hand
and foot, and brought aboard. With a fair wind--it was blowing
east-sou'east--they must set sail for Ramsey Bay, put about at Lague,
anchor there, and go ashore.

"That'll lave it," said Teare, "to raisonable inf'rence that Mastha Dan
had whipped off to England by the Whitehaven packet that sails at
midnight from the quay."

This done, they were to find a horse, strap the fettered man to its
back, fetch him into the mountains in the dark hours of the night, and
at daybreak try him solemnly and justly on the issue they had hit upon
of life or death. No violence! Aw, no, all just and straight! If so be
that the man was hanging them, they'd do him justice man to man, as fair
as the backbone lies down the middle of a herring. Deemster's justice
couldn't be cleaner; no, nor as clean. Aw, yes, no violence!

It was an intricate plan, involving many risks, presupposing many
favorable chances. Perhaps it was not a logical computation of
probabilities. But, good or bad, logical or illogical, probable or
improbable, easy of accomplishment or full of risk and peril, it was the
only alternative to trusting in the Lord, as Crennell had suggested, or
in their heels, as Quilleash had preferred. In the end they took it, and
made ready to act on it.

As the men arrived at their conclusion Davy Fayle was returning with an
armful of withered gorse for a fire. The first move in that night's
adventure was to be made by him. "Lave the lad to me," whispered
Quilleash, and straightway he tackled Davy. Veracity was not conspicuous
in the explanation that the old salt made. Poor Mastha Dan had been
nabbed, bad cess to it, and jiggered up in Peel Castle. He would be
hanged sarten sure. Aw, safe for it, if some chaps didn't make an effort
immadient. They meant to do it, too. Ay, that very evenin'! Wouldn't
they let him help? Well, pozzible, pozzible. They wasn't no objection to
that. Thus, Davy fell an eager victim to a plan that was not propounded
to him. If saving Mastha Dan from the dirts that had nabbed him was the
skame that was goin', why, nothin' would hould him but he would be in
it. "Be aisy with the loblolly-boy and you have him," whispered old
Billy behind the back of his hand, as he spat a long jet from his quid.

Relieved of doubt as to their course of action, they built a fire and
warmed themselves, and with water from the river below they made cold
porridge of the meal, and ate and drank, and waited for the night. The
darkness came early--it was closing in at four o'clock. Then the men
smothered their fire with turf and earth and set out for Peeltown. Their
course was over Colden, and between Greeba and Beary, to the breast of
Slieu Whallin, and then down to St. Patrick's Isle by the foot of
Corrin's Hill. It was twelve miles over hill and dale, through the
darkness and the muggy air of the winter's night. They had to avoid the
few houses and to break their pace when footsteps came their way. But
they covered the distance in less than four hours. At eight o'clock they
were standing together on the south of the bridge that crosses the Neb
River at the top of Peel Harbor. There they separated. Corkell went off
to the market-place by a crooked alley from the quay to find the watch
and dispose of him. When the harbor-master had been removed, Corkell was
to go to the "Ben-my-Chree," which was moored in deep water at the end
of the wooden pier, open the scuttle on the south, and put the lamp to
it as a signal of safety to Quilleash, Teare, and Crennell above the
bridge on the headland opposite. They were then to come aboard. Davy
Fayle took the south quay to St. Patrick's Isle. It was now the bottom
of the ebb-tide, and Davy was to wade the narrow neck that divided the
isle from the mainland. Perhaps he might light on a boat; perhaps cross
dry-shod. In half an hour he was to be on the west of the castle, just
under a spot known as the Giant's Grave, and there the four men were to
come ashore to him in the dingey. Meantime he was to see old Paton Gorry
and generally take the soundings. Thus they parted.

Davy found the water low and the ford dry. He crossed it as noiselessly
as he could, and reached the rocks of the isle. It was not so dark but
he could descry the dim outlines of the ruined castle. A flight of steps
ascended from the water's edge to the portcullis. Davy crept up. He had
prepared to knock at the old notched door under the arch, but he found
it standing open. He stood and listened. At one moment he thought he
heard a movement behind him. It was darkest of all under these thick
walls. He went on; he passed the doorway that is terrible with the
tradition of the Moddey Dhoo. As he went by the door he turned his head
to it in the darkness, and once again he thought he heard something
stir. This time the sound came from before him. He gasped, and had
almost screamed. He stretched his arms toward the sound. There was
nothing. All was still once more.

Davy stepped forward into the courtyard. His feet fell softly on the
grass that grew there. At length he reached the guard-room. Once more he
had lifted his hand to knock, and once more he found the door open. He
looked into the room. It was empty; a fire burned on the hearth, a form
was drawn up in front of it; a pipe lay on a bare deal table. "He has
gone down to the cell," Davy told himself, and he made his way to the
steps that led to the dungeon. But he stopped again, and his heart
seemed to stand still. There could now be no doubt but some one was
approaching. There was the faint jingle as of keys. "Paton! Paton!" Davy
called, fearfully. There was no answer, but the footsteps came on. "Who
is there?" he cried again, in a tremulous whisper. At the next instant a
man passed in the darkness, and Davy saw and knew him. It was the
Bishop.

Davy dropped to his knees. A moment afterward the Bishop was gone
through the outer gate and down the steps. His footsteps ceased, and
then there were voices, followed by the plash of an oar, and then all
was silence once more, save for the thick boom of the sea that came up
from the rocks.

Davy rose to his feet and turned toward the steps that led down to the
door of the dungeon. A light came from below. The door was open also,
and, stretching himself full-length on to the ground, Davy could see
into the cell. On the floor there was a lantern, and beside it a bundle
lay. Dan was there; he was lying on the stone couch; he was alone.

Breathless and trembling, Davy rose again and fled out of the old castle
and along the rocky causeway to a gullet under the Giant's Grave. There
the men were waiting for him.

"The place is bewitched," he said, with quick-coming breath; and he told
how every door was open, and not a soul was in the castle except Dan.
The men heard him with evident terror. Corkell had just told them a
similar story. The watch and the harbor-master had both been removed
before he had gone in search of them. Everything seemed to be done to
their hands. Nothing was left to them to do but simply to walk into the
castle and carry out their design. This terrified them. "It's a fate,"
Corkell whispered; and Crennell, in white awe of the unseen hand that
was helping them, was still for trusting in the Lord. Thus they put
their heads together. Quilleash was first to recover from superstitious
fears. "Come, lay down, and no blather," he said, and stalked resolutely
forward, carrying a sack and a coil of rope. The other men followed him
in silence. Davy was ordered to stay behind with the small-boat.

They found everything as the lad had left it: the notched door of the
portcullis was open, the door of the guard-room was open, and when they
came to the steps of the dungeon the door there was also open. A moment
they stood and listened, and heard no sound from below but a light,
regular breathing, as of one man only. Then they went quietly down the
steps and into the cell. Dan was asleep. At sight of him, lying alone
and unconscious, their courage wavered a moment. The unseen hand seemed
to be on them still. "I tell thee it's a fate," Corkell whispered again
over Quilleash's shoulder. In half a minute the sleeping man was bound
hand and foot, and the sack was thrown over his head. At the first touch
he awoke and tried to rise, but four men were over his prostrate body,
and they overpowered him. He cried lustily, but there was none to hear.
In less time than it takes to tell it the men were carrying Dan out of
the cell. The lantern they left on the floor, and in their excitement
they did not heed the parcel that lay by it.

Over the courtyard, through the gate, along the ledge under the
crumbling walls, they stumbled and plunged in the darkness. They reached
the boat and pushed off. Ten minutes afterward they were aboard the
"Ben-my-Chree" and were beating down the bay.

Dan recognized the voices of the men, and realized his situation. He did
not shout again. The sack over his head was of coarse fibre, admitting
the air, and he could breathe through it without difficulty. He had been
put to lie on one of the bunks in the cabin, and he could see the
tossing light of the horn lantern that hung from the deck-planks. When
the boat rolled in the strong sea that was running he could sometimes
see the lights on the land through the open scuttle.

With a fair wind for the Point of Ayr, full sail was stretched. Corkell
stood to the tiller, and, when all went smoothly, the three men turned
in below, and lighted a fire in the stove and smoked. Then Davy Fayle
came down with eyes dull and sick. He had begun to doubt, and to ask
questions that the men could not answer. What for was Mastha Dan tied up
like a haythen? And what for the sack? But the men were in no humor for
cross-examination. No criss-crossing! The imperent young idiot waistrel,
let him keep his breath to cool his porridge. To quiet the lad the men
plied him with liquor, and at the second draft he was reeling drunk.
Then he laughed a wild laugh, and sang a mad song, and finally stood up
to dance. It was a grim sight, but it was soon ended, and Davy was put
to sleep in another of the bunks. Then two hours passed, and there was
some growling and quarreling.

Crennell and Teare went up on deck. Quilleash remained below, sitting
before the stove cleaning with oil and a rag a fowling-piece that Dan
had brought aboard at the beginning of the herring season. Sometimes he
crooned a Manx carval, and sometimes whistled it, as he worked, chewing
his quid meantime, and glancing at intervals at Dan's motionless figure
on the bunk:

          With pain we record
          The year of our Lord
    Sixteen hundred and sixty and sayven,
          When it so come to pass
          A good fishing there wass
    Off Dooglas, and a wonderful sayson.

There was no other sound in the cabin, except Davy's heavy breathing and
the monotonous beat of the water at the boat's bow. Dan lay as quiet as
the dead. Never once had he spoken or been spoken to.

The boat was flying before the wind. The sky had cleared, and the stars
were out, and the lights on the shore could be plainly seen. Orrisdale,
Jurby, and the Rue went by, and when Bishop's Court was passed the light
in the library window burned clear and strong over the sea. Toward ten
o'clock the lighthouse on the Point of Ayr was rounded, and then the
boat had to bear down the Ramsey Bay in tacks. Before eleven they were
passing the town, and could see the lights of the Cumberland packet as
she lay by the quay. It was then three-quarter tide. In half an hour
more the lugger was put about at Port Lague, and there Dan was taken
ashore by Teare and Crennell. Quilleash went with them, carrying the
fowling-peace.

Corkell and Davy Fayle, who had recovered from his stupor, were to take
the "Ben-my-Chree" back into Ramsey Bay, to drop anchor under Ballure,
and then to rejoin their companions at Lague before twelve o'clock. This
was to divert suspicion, and to provoke the inference, when the
fishing-boat would be found next morning, that Dan had escaped to
England by the Whitehaven packet.

The "Ben-my-Chree" sailed off with Corkell and Davy. Teare went in
search of a horse, Quilleash and Crennell remained on the shore at Lague
with Dan. It was a bleak and desolate place, with nothing to the south
but the grim rocks of the Tableland Head, and with never a house to the
north nearer than Folieu, which was half a mile away. The night was now
bitterly cold. The stars were gone, the darkness was heavy, and a
nipping frost was in the dense atmosphere. But the wind had dropped, and
every sound sent a dull echo through the air. The two men waited and
listened. Thus far all had gone well with them, but what remained to do
was perilous enough. If Corkell and the lad happened to be seen when
coming from the boat, if Teare were caught in the act of borrowing a
horse without leave, then all would be over with them. Their suspense
was keen.

Presently there came up to them from the bay, over the dull rumble of
the waves on the shore, a quick creaking sound, followed by a splash and
then a dead roll. They knew it was the anchor being slipped to its
berth. Soon afterward there came from the land to the south the sharp
yap of dogs, followed at a sharp interval by the heavy beat of a horse's
hoofs on the road. Was it Teare with the horse? Was he pursued? The men
listened, but could hear no other noise. Then there came through the
dense air the muffled sound of a bell ringing at the quay. It was the
first of three bells that were rung on the Cumberland packet immediately
before it set sail.

The horse behind drew nearer, the bell in front rang again. Then Teare
came up leading a big draft mare by the bridle. He had been forced to
take it from the stable at Lague, and in getting it away he had aroused
the dogs; but he had not been followed, and all was safe. The bell rang
a third time, and immediately a red light crept out from the quay toward
the sea, which lay black as a raven below. The Cumberland packet had
gone.

At that moment Corkell and Davy Fayle returned, Corkell holding Davy by
the neck of his guernsey. The lad had begun to give signs of a mutinous
spirit, which the man had suppressed by force. Davy's eyes flashed, but
he was otherwise quiet and calm.

"What for is all this, you young devil?" said Quilleash. "What d'ye
mean? Out with it, quick! what tricks now? D---- his fool's face, what
for does he look at me like that?"

"Dowse that, Billy, and bear a hand and be quiet," said Crennell.

"The young pauper's got the imperence of sin," said Quilleash.

Then the man lifted Dan on to the back of the big mare, and strapped him
with his covered face to the sky. Never a word was spoken to him, and
never a word did he speak.

"Let's make a slant for it," said Teare, and he took the bridle. Corkell
and Crennell walked on either side of the horse. Quilleash walked
behind, carrying the fowling-piece over his left shoulder. Davy was at
his right hand.

The journey thereafter was long and heavy. They took the path that is to
the north by Barrule and Clag Ouyre and runs above Glen Auldyn and winds
round to the south of Snaefell. Ten miles they plodded on in the thick
darkness and the cold, with only the rumbling rivers for company, and
with the hidden mountains making unseen ghosts about them. On they went,
with the horse between them, taking its steady stride that never varied
and never failed, even when the rivers crossed the path and their own
feet stumbled into ruts. On and on, hour after hour, until their weary
limbs dragged after them, and their gossip ceased, and even their
growling and quarreling was no more heard. Then on and still on in the
gruesome silence.

Under the breast of Snaefell they came into the snow of two days ago,
which had disappeared in the valleys but still lay on the mountains, and
was now crisp under their feet. It seemed, as they looked down in the
darkness, to pass beneath them like short, smoky vapor that dazed the
eyes and made the head giddy. Still higher, the sound of running waters
suddenly stopped, for the rivers were frozen and their voices silenced.
But the wind blew more strongly as they ascended the chill heights.

Sometimes at the top of a long rise they stopped to breathe the horse,
and then, with no sound above or around except the shrill sough of the
wind in the gorse, their courage began to fail. Ghostly imaginings would
not be kept down.

"Did you ever hear the Lockman!" said Crennell beneath his breath.

"I never come agen him," said Quilleash. "When I see anything at night
on the mountains I allis lave it alone."

The other men shuddered, and forthwith began to whistle right lustily.

Sometimes they passed a mountain sheep-pen, and the sheep being
disturbed, would bleat. Sometimes a dog at a distant house would hear
them and bark; and even that, though it was a signal of danger, was also
a sort of human companionship on the grim mountain-side.

It was a dreary walk, and to Dan, bound hand and foot on the horse, it
was a painful ride--a cold one it could not be, for the awkward motion
brought warmth. The night wore on, and the air grew keener; the men's
beards became crisp with the frost.

At length the silent company rounded Snaefell to the north of
Cronk-y-Vane and Beinn-y-Phott. Then Teare at the horse's head twisted
about. "Do we take the ould mine-shed for it?" he asked.

"Ay," said Quilleash.

Their journey was almost ended. The sky over the sea behind them was
then dabbled with gray, and a smell of dawn was coming down from the
mountains.



CHAPTER XXXIV

A RUDE TRIBUNAL


The course taken by the coroner and his seven men, with Mona on the
horse, came to a triangle of mountain-paths above a farm known as the
Sherragh Vane. One path wound close under the west foot of Snaefell,
another followed the bed of the river that ran through a glen called
Crammag, and the third joined these two by crossing the breast of
Beinn-y-Phott. At the acute angle of the Sherragh Vane the coroner drew
up.

"Can any one see the lead shaft?" he asked. None could see it. The
darkness had lifted away, and the crown of Snaefell was bare against the
sky, like an islet of green floating over a cloud of vapor. But the
mists still lay thick on the moorlands, and even the high glens were
obscure.

"It must be yonder, about a mile and a half up the river," said the
coroner.

The lead mine was in the southeast angle of the triangle of paths, under
the southwest of Snaefell and the north of Beinn-y-Phott. For some
minutes the company was at a stand while the coroner considered their
movements.

Mona's impatience was manifest. "Let us push on," she said.

The coroner merely eyed her largely, and resumed his deliberations.

"Oh! how we waste our time," she said again. "If the lead mine is there,
what have we to do but reach it?"

The coroner with an insolent smile inquired if the lady felt the cold.

"He is in danger for his life, and here we waste the precious minutes in
idle talk," she answered.

"Danger for his life," the coroner echoed, and laughed coldly. Then in a
tone of large meaning he added, "Possible, possible," and smiled at his
own subtle thought.

Mona's anxiety mastered her indignation.

"Look, the mist is lifting. See, there is the shed--there in the gap
between the hills, and it is the very place I saw. Come, make
haste--look, it is daylight."

"Be aisy, be aisy. If they're in yonder shed, they are packed as safe as
herrings in a barrel," said the coroner.

Then he divided his forces. Three men he sent down the path of the Glent
Crammag. Two he left where they then stood to guard that outlet to the
Curraghs of the north and west. Two others were to creep along the path
under Snaefell, and shut out the course to the sea and the lowlands on
the south and east. He himself would walk straight up to the shed, and
his seven men as they saw him approach it were to close quickly in from
the three corners of the triangle.

"Is it smoke that's rising above the shed? A fire? Possible. He thinks
he's safe, I'll go bail. Och! yes, and maybe eating and drinking and
making aisy. Now, men, away with you."

Within the shed itself at that moment there was as grim a scene as the
eye of man has yet looked upon. The place was a large square building of
two rooms, one on the ground-level and the other above it, the loft
being entered by a trap in the floor with a wooden ladder down the wall.
It had once served as gear-shed and office, stable, and store, but now
it was bare and empty. In the wall looking east there was a broad
opening without door, and in the wall looking north a narrow opening
without window. To a hasp in the jamb of the doorway the big mare was
tethered, and in the draught between the two openings the lad Davy with
wandering mind was kindling a fire of gorse over two stones. The smoke
filled the place, and through its dense volumes in the dusk of that
vaporous dawn the faces of the men were bleared and green and haggard.
The four fishermen stood in a group together, with old Quilleash a pace
to the fore, the fowling-piece in his hand, its butt on the ground.
Before him and facing him, two paces in front, stood Dan, his arms still
bound to his sides, his head uncovered, and his legs free. There was a
gaunt earnestness in every face.

"Listen to me," said old Quilleash. "We're going to judge and jury you,
but all fair and square, as God is above us, and doing nothing that we
can't answer for when the big day comes and every man has to toe his
mark. D'ye hear what we're saying, sir?"

Dan hoved his head slightly by way of assent.

"We've trapped you, it's true, and fetched you by force, that's sartin;
but we mean to be just by you, and no violence; and it's spakin' the
truth we're going to do, and never a word of a lie."

The other men muttered "Ay, ay;" and Quilleash went on: "We're chaps
what believes in a friend, and buckin' up for them as bucks up for you,
and being middlin' stanch, and all to that; but we're after doing it
once too often."

"So we are," said Crennell, and the others muttered again, "Ay, ay."

Quilleash spat behind his hand and continued: "The long and short of it
is that you're goin' middlin' straight for hanging us, and it isn't
natheral as we're to stand by and see it done."

Dan lifted his face from the ground. "I meant to do you no harm, my good
fellows," he said, quickly.

"Meaning's meaning, but doing's doing, and we've heard all that's
going," said Quilleash. "You've surrendered and confessed, and the
presentment is agen us all, and what's in for you is in for us."

"But you are innocent men. What need you fear?"

"Innocent we be, but where the Deemster comes there's not a ha'p'orth to
choose between you and us."

Dan's face flushed, and he answered warmly, "Men, don't let your
miserable fears make cowards of you. What have you done? Nothing. You
are innocent. Yet how are you bearing yourselves? Like guilty men. If I
were innocent do you think I would skulk away in the mountains?"

"Aisy, sir, take it aisy. Maybe you'd rather run like a rat into a trap.
Cowards? Well, pozzible, pozzible. There's nothing like having a wife
and a few childers for making a brave chap into a bit of a skunk. But
we'll lave 'cowards' alone if you plaze."

Quilleash made a dignified sweep of the back of his hand, while the
other men said, "Better, better."

"Why have you brought me here?" said Dan.

"There isn't a living sowl knows where you are, and when they find
you're missing at the Castle they'll say you've thought better of it and
escaped."

"Why have you brought me here?" Dan repeated.

"The Whitehaven boat left Ramsey after we dropped anchor in the bay last
night, and they'll say you've gone off to England."

"Tell me why you have brought me to this place."

"We are alone and can do anything we like with you, and nobody a
ha'p'orth the wiser."

"What do you mean to do?"

Then they told him of the alternative of life or death. There was
nothing against him but his own confession. If he but held his tongue
there was not enough evidence to hang a cat. Let him only promise to
plead "Not guilty" when the trial came on, and they were ready to go
back with him and stand beside him. If not--

"What then?" Dan asked.

"Then we'll be forced--" said Quilleash, and he stopped.

"Well?"

"I'm saying we'll be forced--" He stopped again.

"Out with it, man alive," Teare broke in--"forced to shoot him like a
dog."

"Well, that's only spakin' the truth anyway," said Quilleash, quietly.

Davy Fayle leapt up from the fire with a cry of horror. But Dan was calm
and resolute.

"Men, you don't know what you're asking. I can not do it."

"Aisy sir, aisy, and think agen. You see we're in if you're in, and
who's to know who's deepest?"

"God knows it, and he will never allow you to suffer."

"We've childers and wives looking to us, and who can tell how they'd
fend in the world if we were gone?"

"You're brave fellows, and I'm sorry for the name I gave you."

"Shoo! Lave that alone. Maybe we spoke back. Let's come to the fac's."

They stated their case again and with calm deliberation. He asked how it
could mend their case if his life was taken. They answered him that they
would go back and surrender, and stand their trial and be acquitted.

Those four men were as solemn a tribunal as ever a man stood before for
life or death. Not a touch of passion, hardly a touch of warmth,
disturbed their rude sense of justice.

"We're innocent, but we're in it, and if you stand to it we must stand
to it, and what's the use of throwing your life away?"

Dan looked into their haggard faces without wavering. He had gone too
far to go back now. But he was deeply moved.

"Men," he said, "I wish to God I could do what you ask, but I can not,
and, besides, the Almighty will not let any harm come to you."

There was a pause, and then old Quilleash said with quiet gravity, "I'm
for religion myself, and singing hymns at whiles, and maybe a bit of a
spell at the ould Book, but when it comes to trusting for life, d----d
if I don't look for summat substantial."

As little was their stubborn purpose to be disturbed by spiritual faith
as Dan's resolution was to be shaken by bodily terrors. They gave him as
long to decide as it took a man to tell a hundred. The counting was done
by Teare amid dead silence of the others.

Then it was that, thinking rapidly, Dan saw the whole terrible issue.
His mind went back to the visit of the Bishop to the castle, and to the
secret preparations that had been made for his own escape. He remembered
that the sumner had delivered up his keys to the Bishop, and that the
Bishop had left the door of the cell open. In a quick glance at the
facts he saw but too plainly that if he never returned to take his trial
it would be the same to his father as if he had accepted the means of
escape that had been offered him. The Bishop, guilty in purpose, but
innocent in fact, would then be the slave of any scoundrel who could
learn of his design. Though his father had abandoned his purpose, he
would seem to have pursued it, and the people whom he had bribed to help
him would but think that he had used other instruments. There could be
only one explanation of his absence--that he escaped; only one means of
escape--the Bishop; only one way of saving the Bishop from unmerited and
life-long obloquy--returning to his trial; and only one condition of
going back alive--promising to plead "Not guilty" to the charge of
causing the death of Ewan.

It was an awful conflict of good passions with passions that were not
bad. At one moment the sophistry took hold of him that, as his promise
was being extorted by bodily threats, it could not be binding on his
honor; that he might give the men the word they wanted, go back to save
his father, and finally act at the trial as he knew to be best. But at
the next moment in his mind's eye he saw himself in the prisoner's dock
by the side of these five brave fellows, all standing for their lives,
all calmly trusting in his promise, and he heard himself giving the plea
that might send them to their deaths. Better any consequences than such
treachery. Truth it must be at all costs; truth to them and to himself.
And as for the Bishop, when did the Almighty ask for such poor help as
the lie of a blood-stained criminal to save the honor of a man of God?

It was a terrible crisis of emotion, but it was brief. The counting
ended, and Quilleash called for the answer.

"No, I can not do it--God forgive me, I wish I could," said Dan, in a
burst of impatience.

It was said. The men made no reply to it. There was awful quiet among
them. They began to cast lots. Five copper coins of equal size, one of
them marked with a cross scratched with the point of a nail, they put
into the bag. One after one they dipped a hand and drew out a coin, and
every man kept his fist clenched till all had drawn. The lad was not for
joining, but the men threatened him, and he yielded. Then all hands were
opened together.

The lot had fallen to Davy Fayle. When he saw this, his simple face
whitened visibly and his lip lagged very low. Old Quilleash handed him
the gun, and he took it in a listless way, scarcely conscious of what
was intended.

"What's goin' doing?" he asked vacantly.

The men told him that it was for him to do it.

"Do what?" he asked, dazed and stupid.

Shamefully, and with a touch of braggadocio, they told what he had to
do, and then his vacant face became suddenly charged with passion, and
he made a shriek of terror and let the gun fall. Quilleash picked the
gun from the ground and thrust it back into Davy's hand.

"You've got to do it," he said; "the lot's fallen to you, and it's bad
work flying in the face of fate."

At first Davy cried that nothing on God's earth would make him do it;
but suddenly he yielded, took the gun quickly, and was led to his place
three of four paces in front of where Dan stood with his arms bound at
his sides, his face of an ashy whiteness and his eyes fearful to look
upon.

"I can't kill him while he's tied up like that," said Davy. "Loose him,
and then I'll shoot."

The men had been startled by Davy's sudden acquiescence, but now they
understood it. Not by so obvious a ruse were they to be deceived. They
knew full well that Dan as a free man was a match for all four of them
unarmed.

"You're meaning to fire over his head," they said to Davy; and carried
away by his excitement, and without art to conceal his intention, the
lad cried hysterically, "That's the truth, and so I am."

The men put their heads together, and there was some hurried whispering.
At the next minute they had laid hold of Davy, bound him as Dan was
bound, and put him to stand at Dan's side. This they did with the
thought that Davy was now Dan's accomplice.

Then again they cast lots as before. This time the lot fell to
Quilleash. He took his stand where the lad had stood, and put the
trigger of the gun at cock.

"Men," he said, "if we don't take this man's life nothing will hould him
but he'll take ours; and it's our right to protect ourselves, and the
ould Book will uphold us. It isn't murder we're at, but justice, and
Lord A'mighty ha' massy on their sowls!"

"Give him another chance," said Teare, and Quilleash, nothing loath, put
his question again. Dan, with a glance at Davy, answered as before, with
as calm a voice, though his face was blanched, and his eyes stood out
from their sockets, and his lips and nostrils quivered.

Then there was silence, and then down on their knees behind Quilleash
fell the three men, Crennel, Corkell, and Teare. "Lord ha' massy on
their sowls!" they echoed, and Quilleash raised the gun.

Never a word more did Dan say, and never a cry or a sign came from Davy
Fayle. But Quilleash did not fire. He paused and listened, and turning
about he said, in an altered tone, "Where's the horse?"

The men lifted their heads and pointed, without speaking, to where the
horse was tethered by the doorway. Quilleash listened with head aslant.
"Then whose foot is that?" he said.

The men leapt to their feet. Teare was at the doorway in an instant.
"God A'mighty, they're on us!" he said in an affrighted whisper.

Then two of the others looked, and saw that from every side the coroner
and his men were closing in upon them. They could recognize every man,
though the nearest was still half a mile away. For a moment they stared
blankly in to each other's faces, and asked themselves what was to be
done. In that moment every good and bad quality seemed to leap to their
faces. Corkell and Crennell, seeing themselves outnumbered, fell to a
bout of hysterical weeping. Teare, a fellow of sterner stuff, without
pity or ruth, seeing no danger for them if Dan were out of sight, was
for finishing in a twinkling what they had begun--shooting Dan, flinging
him into the loft above, down the shaft outside, or into a manure-hole
at the doorway, that was full of slimy filth and was now half-frozen
over.

Quilleash alone kept his head, and when Teare had spoken the old man
said, "No," and set his lip firm and hard. Then Dan himself, no less
excited than the men themselves, called and asked how many they were
that were coming. Crennell told him nine--seven men and the coroner, and
another--it might be a woman--on a horse.

"Eight men are not enough to take six of us," said Dan. "Here, cut my
rope and Davy's--quick."

When the men heard that, and saw by the light of Dan's eyes that he
meant it, and that he whose blood they had all but spilled was ready to
stand side by side with them and throw in his lot with their lot, they
looked stupidly into each other's eyes, and could say nothing. But in
another breath the evil spirit of doubt had taken hold of them, and
Teare was laughing bitterly in Dan's face.

Crennell looked out at the doorway again. "They're running, we're lost
men," he said; and once more he set up his hysterical weeping.

"Dowse that," said Quilleash; "where's your trustin' now?"

"Here, Billy," said Dan eagerly, "cut the lad's rope and get into the
loft, every man of you."

Without waiting to comprehend the meaning of this advice, realizing
nothing but that the shed was surrounded and escape impossible, two of
them, Crennell and Corkell, clambered up the ladder to the loft. Old
Quilleash, who from the first moment of the scare had not budged an inch
from his place on the floor, stood there still with the gun in his hand.
Then Dan, thinking to free himself by burning one strand of the rope
that bound him, threw himself down on his knees by the fire of gorse and
wood, and held himself over it until one shoulder and arm and part of
his breast were in the flame. For a moment it seemed as if, bound as he
was, he must thrust half his body into the fire, and roll in it, before
the rope that tied him would ignite. But at the next moment he had
leaped to his feet with a mighty effort, and the rope was burning over
his arm.

At that same moment the coroner and the seven men with Mona riding
behind them, came up the doorway of the shed. There they drew up in
consternation. No sight on earth was less like that they had looked to
see than the sight they then beheld.

There, in a dense cloud of smoke, was Davy Fayle, still bound and
helpless, pale and speechless with affright; and there was Dan, also
bound, and burning over one shoulder as if the arm itself were afire,
and straining his great muscles to break the rope that held him.
Quilleash was in the middle of the floor as if rooted to the spot, and
his gun was in his hands. Teare was on the first rung of the
wall-ladder, and the two white faces of Corkell and Crennell were
peering down from the trap-hole above.

"What's all this?" said the coroner.

Then Teare dropped back from the ladder and pointed at Dan and said, "We
caught him and were taking him back to you, sir. Look, that's the way we
strapped him. But he was trying to burn the rope and give us the slip."

Dan's face turned black at that word of treachery, and a hoarse cry came
from his throat.

"Is it true?" said the coroner, and his lip curled as he turned to Dan.
Davy Fayle shouted vehemently that it was a lie, but Dan, shaking
visibly from head to foot, answered quietly and said, "I'll not say no,
coroner."

At that Quilleash stepped out. "But I'll say no," he said, firmly. "He's
a brave man, he is; and maybe I'm on'y an ould rip, but d---- me if I'm
goin' to lie like that for nobody--no, not to save my own sowl."

Then in his gruff tones, sometimes faltering, sometimes breaking into
deep sobs, and then rising to deeper oaths, the old fellow told all. And
that night all six of them--Dan, the four fishermen, and the lad
Davy--were lodged in the prison at Castle Rushen.



CHAPTER XXXV

THE COURT OF GENERAL JAIL DELIVERY


From Christmas-tide onward through the dark months, until a "dream of
spring" came once again on the slumbering face of winter, the six men
lay in Castle Rushen. Rumors from within the gray walls of the jail told
that some of them were restive under their punishment, and that the
spirits of others sank under it, but that Dan bore up with the fortitude
of resignation, and, though prone to much sadness, with even the
cheerfulness of content. It was the duty of each man to take his turn at
cleaning the cell, and it was said that Dan's turn seemed by his own
counting to come frequently. Reproaches he bore with humility, and on
one occasion he took a blow from Crennell, who was small of stature and
had a slight limp in one leg. Constant bickerings were rife among them,
and Dan was often their subject of quarrel, and still oftener their
victim; but they had cheerful hours, too, and sometimes a laugh
together.

Such were some of the reports that made gossip outside, where public
curiosity and excitement grew keener as the half-yearly sitting of the
Court of General Jail Delivery drew nearer. Copper riots and felonies of
all descriptions, disputes as to tithe, and arbitrations as to the modes
of counting the herrings, sank out of sight in prospect of the trial of
Dan and his crew. From Point of Ayr to the Calf of Man it was the
engrossing topic, and none living could remember a time when public
feeling ran so high. The son of the Bishop was to be tried for the
murder of the son of the Deemster, and a bigger issue could no man
conceive. Variable enough was the popular sympathy--sometimes with Dan,
sometimes against him, always influenced by what way the wave of feeling
flowed with regard to the Deemster and the Bishop. And closely were
these two watched at every turn.

The Deemster showed uncommon animation, and even some sprightliness. He
was more abroad than at any time for fifteen years before, and was
usually accompanied by Jarvis Kerruish. His short laugh answered oftener
to his own wise witticisms than at any time since the coming to the
island of his brother, the Bishop; but people whispered that his good
spirits did not keep him constant company within the walls of his own
house. There his daughter, Mona, still soft as the morning dew and all
but as silent, sat much alone. She had grown "wae," as folk said, rarely
being seen outside the gates of Ballamona, never being heard to laugh,
and showing little interest in life beyond the crib of her foster-child,
Ewan's orphaned daughter. And people remembered her mother, how silent
she had been, and how patient, and how like to what Mona was, and they
said now, as they had said long ago, "She's going down the steep
places."

The Bishop had kept close to Bishop's Court. Turning night into day, and
day into night, or knowing no times and seasons, he had been seen to
wander at all hours up and down the glen. If any passed him as he
crossed the road from the glen back to the house he had seemed not to
see. His gray hair had grown snowy white, his tall figure drooped
heavily from his shoulders, and his gait had lost all its spring.
Stricken suddenly into great age, he had wandered about mumbling to
himself, or else quite silent. The chapel on his episcopal demesne he
had closed from the time of the death of Ewan, his chaplain. Thus had he
borne himself shut out from the world, until the primrose had come and
gone, and the cuckoo had begun to call. Then as suddenly he underwent a
change. Opening the chapel at Bishop's Court he conducted service there
every Sunday afternoon. The good souls of the parish declared that never
before had he preached with such strength and fervor, though the face
over the pulpit looked ten long years older than on the Christmas
morning when the 'longshoremen brought up their dreadful burden from the
Mooragh. Convocation was kept on Whit-Tuesday as before, and the Bishop
spoke with calm and grave power. His clergy said he had gathered
strength from solitude, and fortitude from many days spent alone, as in
the wilderness, with his Maker. Here and there a wise one among his
people said it might look better of him to take the beam out of his own
eye than to be so very zealous in pointing out the motes in the eyes of
others. The world did not stand still, though public interest was in
suspense, and now and again some girl was presented for incontinence or
some man for drunkenness. Then it was noticed that the censures of the
Church had begun to fall on the evil-doer with a great tenderness, and
this set the wise ones whispering afresh that some one was busy at
sweeping the path to his own door, and also that the black ox never trod
on his own hoof.

The day of the trial came in May. It was to be a day of doom, but the
sun shone with its own indifference to the big little affairs of men.
The spring had been a dry one, and over the drought came heat. From
every corner of the island the people trooped off under the broiling sun
to Castletown. The Court of General Jail Delivery was held in Castle
Rushen, in the open square that formed the gateway to the prison chapel,
under the clear sky, without shelter from any weather. There the narrow
space allotted to spectators was thronged with hot faces under beavers,
mutches, and sun-bonnets. The passages from the castle gate on the quay
were also thronged by crowds who could not see, but tried to hear. From
the lancet windows of the castle that overlooked the gateway eager faces
peered out, and on the lead flat above the iron staircase and over the
great clock-tower were companies of people of both sexes, who looked
down and even listened when they could. The windows of the houses around
the castle gate were thrown up for spectators who sat on the sills. In
the rigging of the brigs and luggers that lay in the harbor, close under
the castle walls, sailors had perched themselves to look on, and crack
jokes and smoke. Nearly the whole floor of the market-place was
thronged, but under the cross, where none could see or hear, an old
woman had set up ninepins, tipped with huge balls of toffee, and a score
of tipsy fellows were busy with them amid much laughter and noise. A
line of older men, with their hands in their pockets, were propped
against the castle wall; and a young woman from Ballasalla, reputed to
be a prophetess, was standing on the steps of the cross, and calling on
the careless to take note that, while they cursed and swore and forgot
their Maker, six men not twenty yards away were on the brink of their
graves.

The judges were the Governor of the island (who was robed), the Clerk of
the Rolls, the two Deemsters (who wore wigs and gowns), the Water
Bailiff, the Bishop, the Archdeacon, the Vicars-General, and the
twenty-four Keys. All these sat on a raised platform of planks. The
senior and presiding Deemster (Thorkell Mylrea), who was the mouthpiece
of the court, was elevated on a central dais.

Thorkell was warm, eager, and even agitated. When the Bishop took his
seat, amid a low murmur of the spectators, his manner was calm, and his
quiet eyes seemed not to look into the faces about him.

The prisoners were brought in from the cell that opened to the left of
the gateway. They looked haggard and worn, but were not wanting in
composure. Dan, towering above the rest in his great stature, held his
head low; his cheeks were ashy, but his lips were firm. By his side,
half clinging to his garments, was the lad Davy, and at the other end of
the line was old Quilleash, with resolution on his weather-beaten face.
Crennell and Corkell were less at ease, but Teare's firm-set figure and
hard-drawn mouth showed the dogged determination of a man who meant that
day to sell his life dear. Sixty-eight men were present, summoned from
the seventeen parishes of the island to compose a jury of twelve to be
selected by the prisoners. Over all was the burning sun of a hot day in
May.

When the officer of the court had made the presentment, and was going on
to ask the prisoners to plead, the proceedings were suddenly
interrupted. The steward of the spiritual barony of the Bishop, now sole
baron of the island, rose to a point of law. One of the six prisoners
who were indicted for felony was a tenant of the Bishop's barony, and as
such was entitled to trial not by the civil powers of the island, but by
a jury of his barony, presided over by the proper president of his
barony. The prisoner in question was Daniel Mylrea, and for him the
steward claimed the privilege of a remand until he could be brought up
for trial before the court of the lord of the barony under which he
lived.

This claim created a profound sensation in the court. Dan himself raised
his eyes, and his face had a look of pain. When asked by the Deemster if
the claim was put forward by his wish or sanction he simply shook his
head. The steward paid no attention to this repudiation. "This court,"
he said, "holds no jurisdiction over a tenant of the Bishop's barony;"
and forthwith he put in a document showing that Daniel Mylrea was tenant
of a farm on the episcopal demesne, situate partly in Kirk Ballaugh and
partly in Kirk Michael.

The Deemster knew full well that he was powerless. Nevertheless he made
a rigid examination of the prisoner's lease, and, finding the document
flawless, he put the point of law to the twenty-four Keys with every
hampering difficulty. But the court was satisfied as to the claim, and
allowed it. "The prisoner, Daniel Mylrea, stands remanded for trial at
the court of his barony," said the Deemster, in a tone of vexation; "and
at that trial," he added, with evident relish, "the president of the
barony shall be, as by law appointed, assisted by a Deemster."

Dan was removed, his name was struck out of the indictment, and the
trial of the five fishermen was proceeded with. They pleaded "Not
guilty." The Attorney-General prosecuted, stating the facts so far as
they concerned the remaining prisoners, and reflecting at the evidence
against the prisoner who was remanded. He touched on the evidence of the
sailcloth, and then on the mystery attaching to a certain bundle of
clothes, belts, and daggers that had been found in the prison at Peel
Castle. At this reference the steward of the barony objected, as also
against the depositions that inculpated Dan. The witnesses were fewer
than at the Deemster's inquest, and they had nothing to say that
directly criminated the fishermen. Brief and uninteresting the trial
turned out to be with the chief prisoner withdrawn, and throughout the
proceedings the Deemster's vexation was betrayed by his thin, sharp,
testy voice. Some efforts were made to prove that Dan's disappearance
from Peel Castle had been brought about by the Bishop; but the steward
of the barony guarded so zealously the privileges of the ecclesiastical
courts that nothing less than an open and unseemly rupture between the
powers of Church and State seemed imminent when the Deemster, losing
composure, was for pressing the irrelevant inquiry. Moreover, the Keys,
who sat as arbiters of points of law and to "pass" the verdict of the
jury, were clearly against the Deemster.

The trial did not last an hour. When the jury was ready to return a
verdict, the Deemster asked in Manx, as by ancient usage, "_Vod y
fer-carree soie?_" (May the Man of the Chancel [the Bishop] sit?). And
the foreman answered "_Fod_" (He may); the ecclesiastics remained in
their seats; a verdict of "Not guilty" was returned, and straightway the
five fishermen were acquitted.

Later the same day the Deemster vacated his seat on the dais, and then
the Bishop rose and took it with great solemnity. That the Bishop
himself should sit to try his own son, as he must have tried any other
felon who was a tenant of his barony, made a profound impression among
the spectators. The Archdeacon, who had hoped to preside, looked
appalled. The Deemster sat below, and on either side were the
ecclesiastics, who had claimed their right to sit as judges in the civil
court. Another jury, a jury of the barony, was impaneled. The sergeant
of the barony brought Dan to the bar. The prisoner was still very calm,
and his lips were as firm, though his face was as white and his head
held as low as before. When a presentment was read over to him, charging
him with causing the death of Ewan Mylrea, deacon in holy orders, and he
was asked to plead, he lifted his eyes slowly, and answered in a clear,
quiet, sonorous voice, that echoed from the high walls of the gateway,
and was heard by the people on the clock tower, "Guilty."

As evidence had been taken at the Deemster's inquest, no witnesses were
now heard. The steward of the barony presented. He dwelt on the
prisoner's special and awful criminality, in so far as he was the son of
the Bishop, taught from his youth up to think of human life as a holy
thing, and bound by that honored alliance to a righteous way in life.
Then he touched on the peculiar duty of right living in one who held the
office of captain of his parish, sworn to preserve order and to protect
life.

When the steward had appended to his statement certain common-places of
extenuation based on the plea of Guilty, the Deemster, amid a dead hush
among the spectators, put questions to the prisoner which were intended
to elicit an explanation of his motive in the crime, and of the
circumstances attending it. To these questions Dan made no answer.

"Answer me, sir," the Deemster demanded, but Dan was still silent. Then
the Deemster's wrath mastered him.

"It ill becomes a man in your position to refuse the only amends that
you can make to justice for the pains to which you have put this court
and another."

It was an idle outburst. Dan's firm lip was immovable. He looked
steadily into the Deemster's face, and said not a word.

The steward stepped in. "The prisoner," he said, "has elected to make
the gravest of all amends to justice," and at that there was a deep
murmur among the people. "Nevertheless, I could wish," said the steward,
"that he would also make answer to the Deemster's question."

But the prisoner made no sign.

"There is some reason for thinking that, if all were known, where so
much is now hidden, the crime to which the prisoner pleads guilty would
wear a less grievous aspect."

Still the prisoner gave no answer.

"Come, let us have done," said the Deemster, twisting impatiently in his
seat. "Pronounce the sentence, and let your sergeant carry it into
effect."

The murmur among the people grew to a great commotion, but in the midst
of it the Bishop was seen to rise, and then a deep hush fell on all.

The Bishop's white head was held erect, his seamed face was firm as it
was pale, and his voice, when he spoke, was clear and full. "Daniel
Mylrea," he said, "you have pleaded guilty to the great crime of murder.
The sergeant of your barony will now remove you, and on the morning of
this day next week he will take you in his safe custody to the Tynwald
Hill, in the centre of the island, there in the eye of light, and before
the faces of all men, to receive the dreadful sentence of this court,
and to endure its punishment."



CHAPTER XXXVI

CUT OFF FROM THE PEOPLE


During the week that followed the trial of Daniel Mylrea at the court of
his barony the excitement throughout the island passed all experience of
public feeling. What was to be the sentence of the barony? This was the
one question everywhere--at the inn, the mill, the smithy, the
market-cross, the street, in the court-house; and if two shepherds
hailed each other on the mountains they asked for the last news from
Peel.

With a silent acceptance of the idea that death alone could be the
penalty of the crime that had been committed, there passed through the
people the burden, first of a great awe, and then of a great dread that
any Christian man should die the death of hanging. Not for nearly
twoscore years had the island seen that horror, and old men shuddered at
the memory of it.

Then it came to be understood in a vague way that after all Daniel
Mylrea was not to die. Whispers went from mouth to mouth that old
Quilleash had sailed down to the Calf Sound with the "Ben-my-Chree,"
well stored with provisions. In a few days the old salt returned,
walking overland, preserving an air of vast mystery, and shaking his
head when his gossips questioned him. Then poor human nature, that could
not bear to see Daniel Mylrea die, could not bear to see him saved
either, and men who had sworn in their impotent white terror that never
again should a gallows be built in the island, lusty fellows who had
shown ruth for the first time, began to show gall for the hundreth, to
nudge, to snigger, and to mutter that blood was thicker than water, and
there was much between saying and doing, as the sayin' was.

The compassion that had been growing in secret began to struggle with
the ungentle impulses that came of superstitious fear. It seemed to be
true, as old folk were whispering, that Daniel Mylrea was the Jonah of
the island. What had happened in the first year of his life? A prolonged
drought and a terrible famine. What was happening now? Another drought
that threatened another famine. And people tried to persuade themselves
that the sword of the Lord was over them, and that it would only rest
and be quiet when they had executed God's judgment on the guilty man.

The day of Tynwald came, and the week before it had passed like a year.
There was no sun, but the heat was stifling, the clouds hung low and
dark and hot as the roof of an open oven, the air was sluggish, and the
earth looked blue. Far across the sea to the northwest there was a thin
streak of fiery cloud, and at some moments there was the smell of a
thunder-storm in the heavy atmosphere. From north and south, from east
and west, the people trooped to Tynwald Hill. Never before within the
memory of living man had so vast a concourse been witnessed on that
ancient ground of assembly. Throughout the island the mill-wheel was
stopped, the smithy fire was raked over with ashes, the plow lay in the
furrow, the sheep were turned out on to the mountains, and men and
women, old men, old women, and young children, ten thousand in all, with
tanned faces and white, in sun-bonnets, mutches, and capes, and some
with cloaks in preparation for the storm that was coming, drove in their
little springless carts, or rode on their small Manx ponies, or trudged
on foot through the dusty roads, and over the bleached hillsides and the
parched Curraghs.

At ten o'clock the open green that surrounds the hill of Tynwald was
densely thronged. Carts were tipped up in corners, and their stores of
food and drink were guarded by a boy or a woman, who sat on the
sternboard. Horses were tethered to the wheels, or turned loose to
browse on a common near at hand. Men lounged on the green and talked,
their hands in their pockets, their pipes in their mouths, or stood
round the Tynwald Inn, lifting pannikins to their lips, and
laughing--for there was merriment among them though the work for which
they had come together was not a merry one.

The mount itself was still empty, and twelve constables were stationed
about the low wall that surrounded it, keeping the crowd back. And
though, as the people met and mingled, the men talked of the crops and
of the prospect for the fishing, and women of the wool and yarn, and
boys tossed somersaults, and young girls betook themselves to girlish
games, and girls of older growth in bright ribbons to ogling and
giggling, and though there was some coarse banter and coarser singing,
the excitement of the crowd, beneath all, was deep and strong. At
intervals there was a movement of the people toward a church--St. John's
Church, that stood a little to the east of Tynwald--and sometimes a
general rush toward the gate that looked westward toward Peeltown and
the sea. Earlier in the day some one had climbed a mountain beyond the
chapel and put a light to the dry gorse at the top, and now the fire
smoldered in the dense air, and set up a long sinuous trail of blue
smoke to the empty vault of the sky. The mountain was called Greeba,
which is the native word for grief.

Toward half-past ten old Paton Gorry, the sumner, went down the narrow,
tortuous steps that led to the dungeon of Peel Castle. He carried
fetters for the hands and legs of his prisoner, and fixed them in their
places with nervous and fumbling fingers. His prisoner helped him as far
as might be, and spoke cheerily in answer to his mumbled adieu.

"I'm not going to St. John's, sir. I couldn't give myself lave for it,"
the sumner muttered in a breaking voice. With a choking sensation in his
throat Daniel Mylrea said, "God bless you, Paton," and laid hold of the
old man's hand. Twenty times during the week the sumner had tried in
vain to prevail on the prisoner to explain the circumstances attending
his crime, and so earn the mitigation of punishment which had been
partly promised. The prisoner had only shaken his head in silence.

A few minutes afterward Daniel Mylrea was handed over in the guard-room
to the sergeant of the barony, and Paton Gorry's duties--the hardest
that the world had yet given him to do--were done.

The sergeant and the prisoner went out of the castle and crossed the
narrow harbor in a boat. On the wooden jetty, near the steps by which
they landed, a small open cart was drawn up, and there was a crowd of
gaping faces about it. The two men got into the cart and were driven
down the quay toward the path by the river that led to Tynwald under the
foot of Slieu Whallin. As they passed through the town the prisoner was
dimly conscious that white faces looked out of windows and that small
knots of people were gathered at the corners of the alleys. But all this
was soon blotted out, and when he came to himself he was driving under
the trees, and by the side of the rumbling water.

All the day preceding the prisoner had told himself that when his time
came, his great hour of suffering and expiation, he must bear himself
with fortitude, abating nothing of the whole bitterness of the atonement
he was to make, asking no quarter, enduring all contumely, though men
jeered as he passed or spat in his face. He thought he had counted the
cost of that trial. Seven sleepless nights and seven days of torment had
he given to try his spirit for that furnace, and he thought he could go
through it and not shrink. In his solitary hours he had arranged his
plans. While he drove from Peel to St. John's he was to think of nothing
that would sap his resolution, and his mind was to be a blank. Then, as
he approached the place, he was to lift his eyes without fear, and not
let them drop though their gaze fell on the dread thing that must have
been built there. And so, very calmly, silently, and firmly, he was to
meet the end of all.

But now that he was no longer in the dungeon of the prison, where
despair might breed bravery in a timid soul, but under the open sky,
where hope and memory grow strong together, he knew, though he tried to
shut his heart to it, that his courage was oozing away. He recognized
this house and that gate, he knew every turn of the river--where the
trout lurked and where the eels sported--and when he looked up at the
dun sky he knew how long it might take for the lightning to break
through the luminous dulness of the thunder-cloud that hung over the
head of Slieu Whallin. Do what he would to keep his mind a blank, or to
busy it with trifles of the way, he could not help reflecting that he
was seeing these things for the last time.

Then there came a long interval in which the cart wherein he sat seemed
to go wearily on, on, on, and nothing awakened his slumbering senses.
When he recovered consciousness with a start he knew that his mind had
been busy with many thoughts such as sap a man's resolution and bring
his brave schemes to foolishness. He had been asking himself where his
father was that day, where Mona would be then, and how deep their shame
must be at the thought of the death he was to die. To him his death was
his expiation, and little had he thought of the manner of it; but to
them it was disgrace and horror. And so he shrunk within himself. He
knew now that his great purpose was drifting away like a foolish voice
that is emptied in the air. Groaning audibly, praying in broken snatches
for strength of spirit, looking up and around with fearful eyes, he rode
on and on, until at length, before he was yet near the end of his awful
ride, the deep sound came floating to him through the air of the voices
of the people gathered at the foot of Tynwald. It was like the sound the
sea makes as its white breakers fall on some sharp reef a mile away: a
deep, multitudinous hum of many tongues. When he lifted his head and
heard it, his pallid face became ashy, his whitening lips trembled, his
head dropped back to his breast, his fettered arms fell between his
fettered legs, river and sky were blotted out of his eyes, and he knew
that before the face of his death he was no better than a poor broken
coward.

At eleven o'clock the crowd at Tynwald had grown to a vast concourse
that covered every foot of the green with a dense mass of moving heads.
In an enclosed pathway that connected the chapel with the mount three
carriages were drawn up. The Deemster sat in one of them, and his
wizened face was full of uncharity. By his side was Jarvis Kerruish. On
an outskirt of the crowd two men stood with a small knot of people
around them; they were Quilleash and Teare. The Ballasalla prophetess,
with glittering eyes and hair in ringlets, was preaching by the door of
the inn, and near her were Corkell and Crennell, and they sang when she
sang, and while she prayed they knelt. Suddenly the great clamorous
human billow was moved by a ruffle of silence that spread from side to
side, and in the midst of a deep hush the door of the chapel opened, and
a line of ecclesiastics came out and walked toward the mount. At the end
of the line was the Bishop, bareheaded, much bent, his face white and
seamed, his step heavy and uncertain, his whole figure and carriage
telling of the sword that is too keen for its scabbard. When the
procession reached the mount the Bishop ascended to the topmost round of
it, and on the four green ledges below him his clergy ranged themselves.
Almost at the same moment there was a subdued murmur among the people,
and at one side of the green, the gate to the west, the crowd opened and
parted, and the space widened and the line lengthened until it reached
the foot of the Tynwald. Then the cart that brought the sergeant and his
prisoner from the castle entered it slowly, and drew up, and then, with
head and eyes down, like a beast that is struck to its death, Daniel
Mylrea dropped to his feet on the ground. He was clad in the blue cloth
of a fisherman, with a brown knitted guernsey under his coat, and
sea-boots over his stockings. He stood in his great stature above the
shoulders of the tallest of the men around him; and women who were as
far away as the door of the inn could see the seaman's cap he wore. The
sergeant drew him up to the foot of the mount, but his bowed head was
never raised to where the Bishop stood above him. An all-consuming shame
sat upon him, and around him was the deep breathing of the people.

Presently a full, clear voice was heard over the low murmur of the
crowd, and instantly the mass of moving heads was lifted to the mount,
and the sea of faces flashed white under the heaviness of the sky.

"Daniel Mylrea," said the Bishop, "it is not for us to know if any
hidden circumstance lessens the hideousness of your crime. Against all
questions concerning your motive your lips have been sealed, and we who
are your earthly judges are compelled to take you at the worst. But if,
in the fulness of your remorse, your silence conceals what would soften
your great offense, be sure that your Heavenly Judge, who reads your
heart, sees all. You have taken a precious life; you have spilled the
blood of one who bore himself so meekly and lovingly and with such
charity before the world that the hearts of all men were drawn to him.
And you, who slew him in heat or malice, you he ever loved with a great
tenderness. Your guilt is confessed, your crime is black, and now your
punishment is sure."

The crowd held its breath while the Bishop spoke, but the guilty man
moaned feebly and his bowed head swayed to and fro.

"Daniel Mylrea, there is an everlasting sacredness in human life, and
God who gave it guards it jealously. When man violates it, God calls for
vengeance, and if we who are His law-givers on earth shut our ears to
that cry of the voice of God, His fierce anger goes forth as a whirlwind
and His word as a fire upon all men. Woe unto us if now we sin against
the Lord by falling short of the punishment that He has ordered.
Righteously, and without qualm of human mercy, even as God has
commanded, we, His servants, must execute judgment on the evil-doer,
lest His wrath be poured out upon this island itself, upon man and upon
beast, and upon the fruit of the ground."

At that word the deep murmur broke out afresh over the people, and under
the low sky their upturned faces were turned to a grim paleness. And now
a strange light came into the eyes of the Bishop, and his deep voice
quavered.

"Daniel Mylrea," he continued, "it is not the way of God's worse
chastisement to take an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and to
spill blood for blood that has been spilled. When the sword of the Lord
goes forth it is sometimes to destroy the guilty man, and sometimes to
cut him off from the land of the living, to banish him to the parched
places of the wilderness, to end the days wherein his sleep shall be
sweet to him, to blot out his name from the names of men, and to give
him no burial at the last when the darkness of death shall cover him."

The Bishop paused. There was a dreadful silence, and the distant sea
sent up into the still air, under the low clouds that reverberated like
a vault, a hoarse, threatening murmur:

"Daniel Mylrea, you are not to die for your crime."

At that ill-omened word the prisoner staggered like a drunken man, and
lifted his right hand mechanically above his head, as one who would
avert a blow. And now it was easy to see in the wild light in the eyes
of the Bishop, and to hear in his hollow, tense voice, that the heart of
the father was wrestling with the soul of the priest, and that every
word that condemned the guilty man made its sore wound on the spirit of
him that uttered it.

"You have chosen death rather than life, but on this side of death's
darkness you have yet, by God's awful will, to become a terror to
yourself; you have water of gall to drink; toilfully you have to live in
a waste land alone, where the sweet light of morning shall bring you
pain, and the darkness of night have eyes to peer into your soul; and so
on and on from year to weary year, until your step shall fail and there
shall be never another to help you up; hopeless, accursed, finding death
in life, looking only for life in death, and crying in the bitterness of
your desolation, 'Cursed be the day wherein I was born; let not the day
wherein my mother bare me be blessed! Cursed be the man that brought
tidings to my father, saying, "A man-child is born unto thee," making
his heart glad.'"

One hoarse cry as of physical pain burst from the prisoner before these
awful words were yet fully uttered. The guilty man gripped his head
between his hands, and like a beast that is smitten in the shambles he
stood in a stupor, his body swaying slightly, a film upon his eyes, and
his mind sullen and stunned. There was silence for a moment, and when
the Bishop spoke again his tempest-beaten head, white with the flowers
of the grave, trembled visibly. The terrified people were grasping each
other's hands, and their hard-drawn breath went through the air like the
hiss of the sea at its ebb. As they looked up at the Bishop they
understood that an awful struggle of human love and spiritual duty was
going on before them, and over all their terror they were moved to a
deep compassion.

"Daniel Mylrea," said the Bishop again, and notwithstanding his efforts
to uphold it, his voice softened and all but broke, "vengeance belongs
to God, but we who are men and prone to fall are not to deny mercy. When
your fetters are removed, and you leave this place, you will go to the
Calf Sound that flows at the extreme south of the island. There you will
find your fishing-boat, stored with such as may meet your immediate
wants. With that offering we part from you while life shall last. Use it
well, but henceforward look for no succor whence it has come. Though you
loathe your life, be zealous to preserve it, and hasten not, I warn you,
by one hour the great day of God's final reckoning. Most of all be
mindful of the things of an eternal concernment, that we who part from
you now may not part forever as from a soul given over to everlasting
darkness."

The prisoner gave no further sign. Then the Bishop turned with a wild
gesture to the right and to the left and lifted both his hands. "Men and
women of Man," he said, in a voice that rose to the shrillness of a cry,
"the sentence of the court of the barony of the island is that this man
shall be cut off from his people. Henceforth let him have no name among
us, nor family, nor kin. From now forever let no flesh touch his flesh.
Let no tongue speak to him. Let no eye look on him. If he should be
an-hungered, let none give him meat. When he shall be sick, let none
minister to him. When his death shall come, let no man bury him. Alone
let him live, alone let him die, and among the beasts of the field let
him hide his unburied bones."

A great hoarse groan arose from the people, such as comes from the bosom
of a sullen sea. The pathos of the awful struggle which they had looked
upon was swallowed up in the horror of its tragedy. What they had come
to see was as nothing to the awfulness of the thing they had witnessed.
Death was terrible, but this was beyond death's terror. Somewhere in the
dark chambers of the memory of their old men the like of it lived as a
grim gorgon from old time. They looked up at the mount, and the gaunt
figure standing there above the vast multitude of moving heads seemed to
be something beyond nature. The trembling upraised hands, the eyes of
fire, the white quivering lips, the fever in the face which consumed the
grosser senses, appeared to transcend the natural man. And below was the
prisoner, dazed, stunned, a beast smitten mortally and staggering to its
fall.

The sergeant removed the fetters from the prisoner's hands and feet, and
turned him about with his face toward the south. Not at first did the
man seem to realize that he was no longer a prisoner, but an outcast,
and free to go whither he would, save where other men might be. Then,
recovering some partial consciousness, he moved a pace or two forward,
and instantly the crowd opened for him and a long, wide way was made
through the dense mass, and he walked through it, slow, yet strong of
step, with head bent and eyes that looked into the eyes of no man. Thus
he passed away from the Tynwald toward the foot of Slieu Whallin and the
valley of Foxdale that runs southward. And the people looked after him,
and the Bishop on the mount and the clergy below followed him with their
eyes. A great wave of compassion swept over the crowd as the solitary
figure crossed the river and began to ascend the mountain-path. The man
was accursed, and none might look upon him with pity; but there were
eyes that grew dim at that sight.

The smoke still rose in a long blue column from the side of Greeba, and
the heavy cloud that had hung at poise over the head of Slieu Whallin
had changed its shape to the outlines of a mighty bird, luminous as a
sea-gull, but of a sickly saffron. Over the long line of sea and sky to
the west the streak of red that had burned duskily had also changed to a
dull phosphoric light that sent eastward over the sky's low roof a misty
glow. And while the people watched the lonely man who moved away from
them across the breast of the hill, a pale sheet of lightning, without
noise of thunder, flashed twice or thrice before their faces. So still
was the crowd, and so reverberant the air, that they could hear the
man's footsteps on the stony hillside. When he reached the topmost point
of the path, and was about to descend to the valley, he was seen to
stop, and presently to turn his face, gazing backward for a moment.
Against the dun sky his figure could be seen from head to foot. While he
stood the people held their breath. When he was gone, and the mountain
had hidden him, the crowd breathed audibly.

At the next moment all eyes were turned back to the mount. There the
Bishop, a priest of God no longer, but only a poor human father now, had
fallen to his knees, and lifted his two trembling arms. Then the pent-up
anguish of the wretched heart that had steeled itself to a mighty
sacrifice of duty burst forth in a prayer of great agony.

"O Father in Heaven, it is not for him who draws the sword of the Lord's
vengeance among men to cry for mercy, but rather to smite and spare not,
yea, though his own flesh be smitten; but, O Thou that fillest heaven
and earth, from whom none can hide himself in any secret place that Thou
shalt not see him, look with pity on the secret place of the heart of
Thy servant and hear his cry. O Lord on High, whose anger goes forth as
a whirlwind, and whose word is like as a fire, what am I but a feeble,
broken, desolate old man? Thou knowest my weakness, and how my familiars
watched for my halting, and how for a period my soul failed me, and how
my earthly affections conquered my heavenly office, and how God's rule
among this people was most in danger from the servant of God, who should
be valiant for the Lord on the earth. And if through the trial of this
day Thou hast been strength of my strength, woe is me now, aged and full
of days, feeble of body and weak of faith, that Thou hast brought this
heavy judgment upon me. God of Goodness and Righteous Judge of all the
Earth, have mercy and forgive if we weep for him who goeth away and
shall return no more, nor see his home and kindred. Follow him with Thy
Spirit, touch him with Thy finger of fire, pour upon him the healing of
Thy grace, so that after death's great asundering, when all shall stand
for one judgment, it may not be said of Thy servant, 'Write ye this old
man childless.'"

It was the cry of a great shattered soul, and the terrified people
dropped to their knees while the voice pealed over their heads. When the
Bishop was silent the clergy lifted him to his feet and helped him down
the pathway to the chapel. There was then a dull murmur of distant
thunder from across the sea. The people fell apart in confusion. Before
the last of them had left the green the cloud of pale saffron over the
head of Slieu Whallin had broken into lightning, and the rain was
falling heavily.



THE BRIEF RELATION OF DANIEL MYLREA

WRITTEN BY HIMSELF



CHAPTER XXXVII

OF HIS OUTCAST STATE


I, Daniel Mylrea, the son (God forgive me!) of Gilcrist Mylrea, Bishop
of Man--grace and peace be with that saintly soul!--do set me down in
the year (as well as my reckoning serves me) 1712, the month September,
the day somewhere between the twentieth and the thirtieth, to begin a
brief relation of certain exceeding strange accidents of this life that
have befallen me since, at the heavy judgment of God, I first turned my
face from the company of men. Not, as the good Bunyan was, am I now
impelled to such a narration--bear with me though I name myself with
that holy man--by hope or thought that the goodness and bounty of God
may thereby be the more advanced before the sons of men, though it is
for me also to magnify the Heavenly Majesty, insomuch as that by this
door of my outcast state He has brought me to partake of grace and life.
Alone I sit to write what perchance no eye may read, but it is with
hope, perhaps only vain, that she who is dear to me beyond words of
appraisement may yet learn of the marvels which did oft occur, that I
try in these my last days to put my memory under wardship. For it has
fastened on me with conviction that God has chosen me for a vessel of
mercy, and that very soon he will relieve me from the body of the death
I live in. If I finish this writing before I go hence, and if when I am
gone she reads it, methinks it will come to her as a deep solace that
her prayer of long since was answered, and that, though so sorely
separated, we twain have yet been one even in this world, and lived
together by day and hour in the cheer of the spirit. But if the gracious
end should come before I bring my task to a period, and she should know
only of my forlorn condition and learn nothing of the grace wherein much
of its desolation was lost, and never come to an understanding of such
of those strange accidents as to her knowledge have befallen, then that
were also well, for she must therein be spared many tears.

It was on May 29, 1705--seven years and four months, as I reckon it,
back from this present time--that in punishment of my great crime the
heavy sentence fell on me that cut me off forever from the number of the
people. What happened on that day and on the days soon following it I do
partly remember with the vividness of horror, and partly recall with
difficulty and mistrust from certain dark places of memory that seem to
be clouded over and numb. When I came to myself as I was plodding over
the side of Slieu Whallin, the thunder was loud in my ears, the
lightning was flashing before my eyes, and the rain was swirling around
me. I minded them not, but went on, hardly seeing what was about or
above me, on and on, over mountain road and path, until the long day was
almost done and the dusk began to deepen. Then the strength of the
tempest was spent, and only the hinder part of it beat out from the west
a thin, misty rain, and I found myself in Rushen, on the south brow of
the glen below Carny-Gree. There I threw myself down on the turf with a
great numbness and a great stupor upon me, both in body and in mind. How
long I lay there I know not, whether a few minutes only, or, as I then
surmised, near four-and-twenty hours; but the light of day was not
wholly gone from the sky when I lifted my head from where it had rested
on my hands, and saw that about me in a deep half-circle stood a drift
of sheep, all still, save for their heavy breathing, and all gazing in
their questioning silence down on me. I think in my heart, remembering
my desolation, I drew solace from this strange fellowship on the lone
mountain-side, but I lifted my hand and drove the sheep away, and I
thought as they went they bleated, but I could hear nothing of their
cry, and so surmised that under the sufferings of that day I had become
deaf.

I fell back to the same stupor as before, and when I came to myself
again the moon was up, and a white light was around the place where I
sat. With the smell of the sheep in my nostrils I thought they might be
standing about me again, but I could see nothing clearly, and so
stretched out my hands either way. Then, from their confusion in
scurrying away, I knew that the sheep had indeed been there, and that
under the sufferings of that day I had also failed in my sight.

The tempest was over by this time, the mountain turf had run dry, and I
lay me down at length and fell into a deep sleep without dreams; and so
ended the first day of my solitary state.

When I awoke the sun was high, and the wheat-ear was singing on a stone
very close above me, whereunder her pale-blue egg she had newly laid. I
know not what wayward humor then possessed me, but it is true that I
reached my hand to the little egg and looked at it, and crushed it
between my finger and thumb, and cast its refuse away. My surmise of the
night before I now found to be verified, that hearing and sight were
both partly gone from me. No man ever mourned less at first knowledge of
such infirmities, but in truth I was almost beyond the touch of pain,
and a sorer calamity would have wanted strength to torture me. I rose
and set my face southward, for it was in the Calf Sound, as I
remembered, that I was to find my boat, and if any hope lived in my
heart, so numb of torpor, it was that perchance I might set sail and get
myself away.

I walked between Barrule and Dalby, and came down on the eastward of
Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa. Then I, who had never before known my strength to
fail, grew suddenly weary, and would fain have cast me down to rest. So
to succumb I could not brook, but I halted in my walking and looked
back, and across the plain to the east, and down to the Bay of Fleswick
to the west. Many times since have I stood there and looked on sea and
sky, and mountain and dale, and asked myself was ever so fair a spot,
and if the plains of heaven were fairer? But that day my dim eyes
scoured the sea for a sail and the mountains for a man, and nothing did
they see of either, and all else was then as nothing.

Yet, though I was so eager to keep within sight of my fellow-man, I was
anxious not to come his way, and in choosing my path I walked where he
was least likely to be. Thus, holding well to the west of Fleswick, I
took the cliff-head toward Brada, and then came down between Port Erin
and Port-le-Mary to the moors that stretch to the margin of the sound.
Some few I met, chiefly shepherds and fishermen, but I lifted my eyes to
none, and none gave me salutation. This was well, for my heart was
bitter, and if any had spoken, not knowing me, I doubt not I should have
answered ill. In my great heart-torpor, half-blind, half-deaf, I was
that day like a wounded beast of the field, ranging the moorland with a
wild abandonment and dangerous to its kind.

When I came to Cregneesh and saw it for the first time, a little
disjointed gipsy encampment of mud-built tents pitched on the bare
moor, the sky was reddening across the sea, and from that I knew how
far advanced the day must be, how slow my course had been, and how
low my strength. In half an hour more I had sighted my boat, the
"Ben-my-Chree," where she lay in the Doon Creek of the sound, at the
length of some fifty fathoms inside the rocks of Kitterland. When I came
up to her I found her anchored in some five fathoms of water, with the
small-boat lying dry on the shingly beach. Her cabin contained
provisions enough for present needs, and more than that I was in no mood
to think about. Since the morning of the day before I had not broken
fast, but now I ate hungrily of oaten and barley cake. Later in the
evening, when the stars were out and the moon, which was in its last
quarter, was hanging over the Calf, I mixed myself some porridge of
rye-meal and cold water, and ate it on the deck, and then went below to
my bunk and lay me down alone. Between sleeping and waking I tried to
think of my position and to realize it, but an owl was hooting somewhere
on the land, and somewhere over the waters of the sound a diver was
making his unearthly laugh. I could not think save of the hooting owl
and the screaming diver, and when I thought of them, though their note
was doleful and seemed to tell of suffering, or perhaps of demoniac
delight, I could not thank God that I had been made a man. Thus, feeling
how sore a thing it is to be a creature living under the wrath of God, I
tossed on my bunk until I fell to sleep; and so ended the second day of
my unblessed condition.

To follow closely all that befell on the next day, or the many days
thereafter whereof I kept no reckoning, were to weary my spirit. One
thing I know, that a sudden numbness of the spiritual life within me
left me a worse man than I had been before the day of my cutting off,
and that I did soon lose the little I had of human love and tenderness.
My gun had been put in the boat, and with that I ranged the cliffs and
the moor from the Mull Hills that lie to the west of Cregneesh to the
Chasms that are to the east of it. Many puffins I shot, that much
frequent these shores, but their flesh was rank and salt, and they were
scarcely worth the powder I spent on them. Thus, it sometimes happened
that, being in no straits for food, I cast the birds away, or did not
put myself to the pains of lifting them up after they fell to my gun,
but went on, nevertheless, to destroy them in my wanton humor. Rabbits I
snared by a trick I learned when a boy, and sometimes cooked them in the
stove and ate them like a Christian man, and at other times I sat me
down on the hillside and rived them asunder as a wild creature of the
hills might do. But whether I ate in my boat or on the cliff I took no
religion to my table, and thought only that I liked my food or misliked
it.

Many times in these first days I had to tear myself away from thinking
of my condition, for to do so was like the stab of a knife to my brain,
and I plainly saw that in that way madness itself would lie. If I told
myself that other men had been cast alone ere now in desolate places
where no foot of man was and no sound of a human voice, a great stroke
would come upon my spirit with the thought that only their bodies had
been cast away, but that my soul was so. The marooned seaman on an
uninhabited island, when at length he set eyes on his fellow-man, might
lift up his heart to God, but to me the company of men was not blessed.
Free I was to go where men were, even to the towns wherein they herded
together, but go where I would I must yet be alone.

With this thought, and doubting not that for me the day of grace was
past and gone, since God had turned His face from the atonement I had
erewhile been minded to make, I grew day by day more bitter in my heart,
and found it easiest to shut my mind by living actively from hour to
hour. Then, like a half-starved hound, I went abroad at daybreak and
scoured the hills the day long, and returned to my bed at night. I knew
I was a baser thing than I had been, and it brought some comfort then to
know that I was alone and no eye saw me as I now was. Mine was a rank
hold of life, and it gave me a savage delight unknown before to live by
preying on other creatures. I shot and slew daily and hourly, and if for
a moment I told myself that what I had killed held its life on the same
tenure that I did, my humanity was not touched except to feel a strange
wild thrill that it was not I that lay dead. Looking back over these
seven years, it comes to me as an unnatural thing that this mood can
ever have been mine; but mine it was, and from the like of it may God in
His mercy keep all Christian men.

One day--I think it must have been somewhere toward the end of the first
month of my outcast state--I was ranging the cliff-side above the gray
rocks of the Black Head, when I chanced on a hare and shot it. On coming
up with it I found it was lean and bony, and so turned aside and left it
as it squeaked and bounced from my feet. This was in the morning, and
toward nightfall I returned by the same way and saw the hare lying by a
brookside, ragged and bleeding, but still alive. At sight of me the wee
thing tried to move away, but its weakness and a clot of its blood kept
it down, and, feeling its extremity, it lifted its two slender paws in
the air, while its glistening eyes streamed visibly, and set up a
piteous cry like the cry of a little child. I can not write what then I
did, for it wounds me sore to think of it, but when it was done, and
that piteous cry was no more in mine ears, suddenly I said with myself
this awful word, "I am no longer a man, but a beast of the field; and
the God of mercy and of tenderness has cast me forever out of the hollow
of His hand."



CHAPTER XXXVIII

OF HIS WAY OF LIFE


This meeting with the poor hare, though now it looks so trivial a thing,
did then make a great seizure upon my mind, so that it changed my course
and habit of life. For ceasing not to believe that I was wholly given
over to a reprobate soul, I yet laid my gun aside, and locked my shot
and powder in a drawer beneath my bunk, and set my face toward new ways
of living. First I put myself to counting all that I possessed. Thus I
found that of rye and Indian meal I had a peck each, of barley a peck,
with two quarters of fine barley flour, of oats a peck, with two
quarters of oaten meal, of potatoes two kischen, besides onions and a
little common salt. In the hold under the hatches there were stored
sundry useful implements--a spade, a fork, a hedge-knife, some hempen
rope and twine, and with the rest were the four herring-nets which
belonged to the boat, a mackerel-net, and some deep-sea lines. Other
things there were that I do not name--wanting memory of them at this
time of writing--but enough in all for most uses that a lone man might
have.

And this had ofttimes set me wondering why, if it had been meant that I
should be cast utterly away, I had been provided with means of life, who
could well have found them for myself. But after that meeting with the
hare I perceived the end of God in this, namely, that I should not,
without guilt, descend from the state of a Christian man when hunger had
to be satisfied.

And herein also I found the way of the stern Judge with guilty man,
that, having enough for present necessities, I had little for the
future, beyond the year that then was, and that if I must eat, so I must
work. Thus, upon a day somewhere, as I reckon, about a month after my
cutting off, I rose early, and set myself to delve a piece of fallow
ground--where all was fallow--two roods or more in extent, lying a
little to the north of the Black Head, and to the south of the circle of
stones that stand near by. All day I wrought fasting, and when darkness
fell in the fallows were turned. Next morning I put down my seed--of
potatoes a half-kischen, cut in quarters where the eyes were many and
also of barley and oats half a peck each, keeping back my other
half-peck lest the ground were barren, or the weather against it, or the
year too far worn for such-like crops.

And that day of the delving, the first on which I wrought as a man, was
also the first on which I felt a man's craving for the company of other
men. The sun was strong all the fore part of the day, and its hot rays
scorched the skin of my back--for I had stripped to my waist for my
labor--and that set me thinking what month it was, and wondering what
was doing in the world, and how long I had been where I then was. When I
returned to my boat at nightfall, the air, as I remember it, was quiet
over the sound as it might be in a cloister, and only the gulls were
jabbering on Kitterland and the cormorants at the water's edge. And I
sat on the deck while the sun went down in the sea, and the red sky
darkened and the stars began to show and the moon to look out. Then I
went below and ate my barley bread and thought of what it was to be
alone.

It was that night that I bethought me of my watch, which I had not once
looked for since the day of my immersion in the Cross Vein on Orrisdale,
when I found it stopped from being full of water. In my fob it had lain
with its seals and chain since then, but now I took it out and cleaned
it with oil from the fat of the hare and wound it up. For months
thereafter I set a great store by it, always carrying it in my fob when
I went abroad, and when I came home to the boat always hanging it on a
nail to the larboard of the stovepipe in the cabin. And in the long
silence of the night, when I heard it, sure, I thought, it is the same
to me as good company. Very careful I was to wind it when the sun set,
but if perchance it ran down, and I awoke in my bunk, and, listening,
heard it not, then it was as if the pulse had stopped of the little
world I lived in, and there was nothing but a great emptiness.

But withal my loneliness increased rather than diminished, and though I
had no longer any hankering after my old way of life in ranging the
moorlands with my gun, yet I felt that the activity of that existence
had led me off from thinking too much of my forlorn condition.
Wherefore, when my potatoes had begun to show above the ground, and I
had earthed them up, I began to bethink me touching my boat, that it
must be now the time of the herring-fishing come again, and that I would
go out of nights and see what I could take. So, never doubting that
single-handed I could navigate the lugger, I hoisted the nets out of the
hold athwart the bunk-board, and took them ashore to mend and to bask
them on the beach. I had spread them out on the shingle, and was using
my knife and twine on the holes of the dogfish, when suddenly from
behind me there came the loud bark of a dog. Well I remember how I
trembled at the sound of it, for it was the nearest to a man's voice
that I had heard these many lonesome days, and how fearfully I turned my
head over my shoulder as if some man had touched me and spoken. But what
I saw was a poor mongrel dog, small as a cur, and with ragged ears, a
peaky nose, and a scant tail, which for all its loud challenge it
dangled wofully between its legs. Until then I had never smiled or wept
since my cutting off, and I believed myself to have lost the sense of
laughter and of tears, but I must have laughed at the sight of the dog,
so much did it call to mind certain brave vaunters I had known, who
would come up to a bout of wrestling with a right lusty brag, and
straightway set to trembling before one had well put eyes on them. At
the sound of my voice the dog wagged his tail, and crept up timidly with
his muzzle down, and licked the hand I held out to him. All day he sat
by me and watched me at my work, looking up in my face at whiles with a
wistful gaze, and I gave him a morsel of oaten cake, which he ate
greedily, seeming to be half-starved of hunger. And when at dusk my task
was finished and I rose and got into the dingey, thinking now he would
go his ways and be seen of me no more, he leaped into the boat after me,
and when we reached the lugger he settled himself in the corner under
the locker as if he had now fully considered it that with me he would
make his habitation henceforth.

Having all things in readiness for the fishing, I slipped anchor upon an
evening toward autumn, as I reckoned, for the leaves of the trammon were
then closing like a withered hand and the berries of the hollin were
reddening. When the stars were out, but no moon was yet showing, I put
about head to the wind, and found myself in nowise hampered because
short-handed, for when I had to take in my sails I lashed my tiller, and
being a man of more than common strength of arm, it cost me nothing to
step my mainmast.

That night, and many nights thereafter, I had good takings of fish, and
in the labor of looking after my corks and making fast my seizings the
void in my mind was in somewise filled with other matter than thoughts
of my abject state. But one thing troubled me at first, namely, that I
took more fish by many meshes than I could ever consume. To make an end
of my fishing was a thing I could not bring myself to, for I counted it
certain that so to do would be to sink back to my former way of living.
Wherefore I thought it safest to seek for some mode of disposing of my
fish, such as would keep me at my present employment and do no harm to
my feelings as a man, for with this I had now to reckon watchfully,
being in constant danger, as I thought, of losing the sense of manhood.

So I soused some hundreds of my herrings with rought salt, which I
distilled from the salt water by boiling it in a pan with pebbles. The
remainder I concluded to give to such as would consume them, and how to
do this, being what I was, cost me many bitter thoughts, wherein I
seemed to be the most unblessed of all men. At length I hit on a device,
and straightway brought it to bear. Leaving my fishing-ground while the
night was not yet far spent, I ran into the sound before dawn, for soon
I learned those narrow waters until they grew familiar as the palm of my
hand. Then, before the sun rose above the Stack of Scarlet, and while
the eastern sky was only dabbled with pink, I, with a basket of herrings
on my shoulder, crossed the moor to Cregneesh, where the people are poor
and not proud, and creeping in between the cabins, laid my fish down in
the open place that is before the little chapel, and then went my way
quickly lest a door should suddenly open or a window be lifted, and a
face look forth. Thrice I did this before I marked that there were those
who were curious to know whence the fish came, and then I was put on my
nettle to go into the village and yet to keep myself from being seen,
for well I knew that if any eye beheld me that knew who I was, there
would thenceforward be an end of the eating of my herrings, even among
the poorest, and an end of my fishing also. But many times I went into
Cregneesh without being seen of any man, and now I know not whether to
laugh or to weep when I look back on the days I write of, and see myself
like a human fox stealing in by the gray of dawn among the sleeping
homes of men.



CHAPTER XXXIX

OF THE GHOSTLY HAND UPON HIM


All that autumn I followed the herrings, choosing my ground mainly by
guess, but sometimes seeing the blue lights of the herring fleet rise
close under my quarter, and at other times, when the air was still,
hearing voices of men or the sound of laughter rumored over the quiet
waters. But ever fanciful to me, as a dream of a friend dead when it is
past, was that sound on the sea, and as often as I heard it I took in my
nets and hauled my sails, and stood out for the sound. Putting no light
on my mitch-board, I would ofttimes pass the fleet within a
cable's-length and yet not be known, but once and again I knew by the
hush of voices and the dying away of laughter on the boats about me that
my dark craft was seen scudding like a black bird of evil omen through
the night.

In my cabin I was used to burn a tallow dip made of the fat of the birds
I had shot and rushes from the soft places of the moor, and while my
boat drifted under the mizzen between take and take of herrings I would
go below and sit with my dog. He grew sleek with the fare I found him,
and I in these days recovered in a measure my sense of sight and
hearing, for the sea's breath of brine is good to man. Millish veg-veen
I called him, and, though a man of small cheer, I smiled to think what a
sorry misname that name would seem in our harder English tongue. For my
poor mongrel cur had his little sorry vices, such as did oft set me
wondering what the chances of his life had been, and whether, like his
new messmate, he had not somewhere been driven out. Nevertheless, he had
his good parts, too, and was a creature of infinite spirits. I think we
were company each to the other, and if he had found me a cheerier
mate-fellow, I doubt not we should have had some cheerful hours
together.

But in truth, though my fishing did much to tear me away from the burden
of myself, it yet left me many lonesome hours wherein my anguish was
sore and deep, and, looking to the years that might be before me, put me
to the bitter question whether, being a man outside God's grace, I could
hold out on so toilsome a course. Also, when I fell to sleep in the
daytime, after my work of the night was done, I was much wrought upon by
troublous dreams, which sometimes brought back the very breath-odor of
my boyish days with the dear souls that filled them with joy, and
sometimes plagued me with awful questions which in vain I tried to
answer, knowing that my soul's welfare lay therein. And being much
followed by the thought that the spirit of the beast of the field lay in
wait to fall on the spirit of the man within me, I was also put to great
terror in my watchfulness and the visions that came to me in hours of
idleness and sleep. But suddenly this sentence fell on my mind: Thou art
free to go whithersoever thou wilt, though it be the uttermost reaches
of the earth. Go, then, where men are, and so hold thy soul as a man.

Long did this sentence trouble me, not being able to make a judgment
upon it, but at length it fastened on me that I must follow it, and that
all the dread I had felt hitherto of the face of man was no more than a
think-so. Thereupon I concluded that I would go into Castletown at high
fair on the next market-day, which I should know from other days by the
carts I could descry from the top of the Mull going the way of Rushen
Church and Kentraugh. This resolve I never brought to bear, for the same
day whereon I made it a great stroke fell upon my spirit and robbed me
of the little wherewith I had tried to comfort me.

Going out of the sound that night by the Spanish Head, for the season
was far worn, and the herrings lay to the eastward of the island, I
marked in the dusk that a smack that bore the Peel brand on its canvas
was rounding the Chicken Rocks of the Calf. So I stood out well to sea,
and did not turn my head to the wind, and cast my nets, until I was full
two leagues from shore. Then it was black dark, for the night was heavy,
and a mist lay between sea and sky. But soon thereafter I saw a blue
light to my starboard bow, and guessed that the smack from Peel had
borne down in my wake. How long I lay on that ground I know not, for the
takings were good, and I noted not the passage of time. But at short
whiles I looked toward the blue light, and marked that as my boat
drifted so did the smack drift, and that we were yet within hail. The
moon came out with white streamers from behind a rack of cloud, and
knowing then that the fishing was over for that night--for the herring
does not run his gills into mischief when he has light to see by--I
straightway fell to hauling my nets. And then it was that I found the
smell of smoke in the nostrils, and heard loud voices from the Peeltown
smack. Lifting my eyes, I could at first see nothing, for though the
moon's light was in the sky, the mist was still on the sea, and through
it there seemed to roll slowly, for the wind was low, a tunnel of
smoke-like fog. Well I knew that something was amiss, and soon the mist
lifted like a dark veil into the air, and the smoke veered, and a flash
of red flame rose from the smack of the Peel-men. Then I saw that the
boat was afire, and in two minutes more the silence of the sea was lost
in the fire's loud hiss and the men's yet louder shouts. It was as if a
serpent in the bowels of the boat struggled to make its way out, and
long tongues of fire shot out of the scuttle, the hold, the combings,
and the flue of the stove. Little thought had I then of those things,
though now by the eye of memory I see them, and also the sinuous trail
of red water that seemed to crawl over the dark sea from the boat afire
to the boat I sailed in. I had stepped my mast and hoisted sail before
yet I knew what impulse possessed me, but with my hand on the tiller to
go to the relief of the men in peril. On a sudden I was seized with a
mighty fear, and it was as though a ghostly hand laid on me from behind,
and a voice above the tumult of that moment seemed to cry in my ears:
"Not for you, not for you." Then in great terror I turned my boat's head
away from the burning smack, and as I did so the ghostly hand did relax,
and the voice did cease to peal in mine ears.

"They will drop into their dingey," I said with myself. "Yes," I said,
as the sweat started cold from my forehead, "they will drop into the
dingey and be saved;" and turning my head I saw, by the flame of the
fire, that over the bulwark at the stern two men were tumbling down into
the small-boat that they hauled behind. And I sped away in agony, for
now I knew how deep was the wrath upon me, that it was not for me so
much as to stretch my accursed hand to perishing men to save them.
Scarce had I gone a cable's-length when a great shout, mingled with
oaths, made me turn my head, thinking the crew of the boat were crying
curses down on me, not knowing me, for deserting them in their peril,
but I was then in the tunnel of smoke wherein I might not be seen, and,
lo, I saw that the dingey with the two men was sheering off, and that
other two of their mates were left on the burning boat.

"Haul the wind and run the waistrels down, d---- them," shouted one of
the two men on the smack, and amid the leaping flames the mainsail shot
up and filled, and a man stood to the tiller, and with an oath he
shouted to the two in the small-boat that for their treachery they
should go down to hell straightway.

In the glare of that fierce light and the turmoil of that moment my eyes
grew dim, as they had been on the day of my cutting off, and I squeezed
their lids together to relieve them of water. Then I saw how fearful a
thing was going on within my cable's-length. Two men of a crew of four
in the burning smack had got themselves into the small-boat and cleared
off without thought of their comrades who were struggling to save their
craft, and now the two abandoned men, doomed to near death in fire or
water, were with their last power of life, and in life's last
moments--for aught they could tell--thirsting for deadly vengeance. On
the smack went, with its canvas bellied, and the flames shooting through
and hissing over it, but just as it came by the small-boat the men
therein pulled to the windward and it shot past.

Ere this was done, and while the smack's bow was dead on for the dingey,
I too had sheered round and was beating up after the burning boat, and
when the men thereon saw me come out of the smoke they ceased to curse
their false comrades and made a great cry of thanks to God. At a
distance of six fathoms I laid to, thinking the men would plunge into
the sea and come to me, but, apprehending my thoughts, one shouted me to
come closer, for that he could not swim. Closer to the burning smack I
would not go from fear of firing my own boat, and I dared not to risk
that fate wherein we might all have been swallowed up together. For
despair, that fortifies some men, did make of me a coward, and I stood
in constant terror of the coming of death. So I stripped me of my jacket
and leaped into the water and swam to the boat, and climbed its open
combings as best I could through the flame and heat. On the deck the two
men stood, enveloped in swirling clouds of smoke, but I saw them where
they were, and pulling one into the water after me, the other followed
us, and we reached my boat in safety.

Then, as I rubbed my face, for the fire had burned one cheek, the men
fell to thanking me in a shamefaced way--as in the manner of their kind,
fearing to show feeling--when on a sudden they stopped short, for they
had lifted their eyes, and in the flame of their boat had seen me, and
at the same moment I had looked upon them and known them. They were
Illiam Quilleash and Edward Teare, and they fell back from me and made
for the bow, and stood there in silence together.

Taking the tiller, I bore in by tacks for Port-le-Mary, and there I
landed the men, who looked not my way nor ever spoke word or made sign
to me, but went off with their heads down. And when I stood out again
through the Poolvash to round the Spanish Head and make for my moorings
in the sound, and saw the burning smack swallowed up by the sea with a
groan that came over the still waters, its small-boat passed me going
into harbor, and the men who rowed it were Crennell and Corkell, and
when they saw me they knew me, and made a broad sweep out of my course.
Now all this time the ghostly hand had been on my shoulder, and the
strange voice had pealed in mine ears, and though I wanted not to speak
with any man, nor that any man should speak with me, yet I will not say
but that it went to my heart that I should be like as a leper from whose
uncleanness all men should shrink away.

For many days hereafter this lay with a great trouble upon me, so that I
let go my strong intent of walking into Castletown at high fair, and put
this question with myself, whether it was written that I should carry me
through this world down to death's right ending. Not as before did I now
so deeply abhor myself; but felt for myself a secret compassion. In
truth, I had no bitterness left in my heart for my fellow-men, but
tossed with the fear that if I lived alone much longer I must surely
lose my reason, and hence my manhood, sinking down to the brute, this
consideration fell with weight upon me. What thou hast suffered is from
men who know thy crime, and stand in terror of the curse upon thee,
wherein thou art so blotted out of the book of the living that without
sin none may look thy way. Go therefore where no man knows thee, and the
so heavy burden thou bearest will straightway fall from thee. Now, at
this thought my heart was full of comfort, and I went back to my former
design of leaving this place forever. But before I had well begun what I
was minded to do a strange accident befell me, and the relation thereof
is as followeth.

By half-flood of an evening late in autumn--for though the watch showed
short of six the sun was already down--I left my old moorings inside the
rocks of Kitterland, thinking to slip anchor there no more. The breeze
was fresh in the sound, and outside it was stiff from the nor'east, and
so I ran out with a fair wind for Ireland, for I had considered with
myself that to that country I would go, because the people there are
tender of heart and not favored by God. For a short while I had enough
to think of in managing my cordage, but when I was well away to sou'west
of the Calf suddenly the wind slackened. Then for an hour full I stood
by the tiller with little to do, and looked back over the green waters
to the purple mountains vanishing in the dusk, and around to the western
sky, where over the line of sea the crimson streamers were still
trailing where the sun had been, like as the radiance of a goodly life
remains a while after the man has gone. And with that eye that sees
double--the thing that is without and that which is within--I saw myself
then in my little craft on the lonely sea like an uncompanionable bird
in the wide sky, and my heart began to fail me, and for the first time
since my cutting off I must have wept. For I thought I was leaving
forever the fair island of my home, with all that had made it dear in
dearer days. Though it had turned its back on me since, and knew me no
more, but had blotted out my name from its remembrance, yet it was mine,
and the only spot of earth on all this planet, go whither I would, that
I could call my own. How long this mood lasted I hardly can say, but
over the boat two gulls hovered or circled and cried, and I looked up at
their white transparent wings, for lack of better employment, until the
light was gone and another day had swooned to another night. The wind
came up with the darkness, and more in heart than before, I stood out
for the south of Ireland, and reached my old fishing port of Kinsale by
the dawn of the next day.

Then in the gentle sun of that autumn morning I walked up from the
harbor to the market-place, and there found a strange company assembled
about the inn, and in the midst were six or seven poor ship-broken men,
shoeless, half-naked, and lean of cheek from the long peril and
privation that eats the flesh and makes the eyes hollow. In the middle
of the night they had come ashore on a raft, having lost their ship by
foundering twelve days before. This I learned from the gossip of the
people about them, and also that they had eaten supper at the inn and
slept there. While I stood and looked on there came out in the midst of
the group two other men, and one of them was their captain and the other
the innkeeper. And I noted well that the master of the inn was suave to
his tattered customers, and spoke of breakfast as being made ready.

"But first go to the Mayor," said he, addressing the captain, "and make
your protest, and he will lend whatever moneys you want."

The captain, nothing loth, set out with a cheerful countenance for the
Mayor of the town, a servant of the inn going with him to guide him. The
ship-broken crew stayed behind, and I, who was curious to learn if their
necessities would be relieved, remained standing in the crowd around
them. And while we waited, and the men sat on the bench in front of the
inn, there came down on them from every side the harpies that find
sea-going men with clothes. There was one with coats and one with
guernseys, and one with boots of leather and one of neat's-skin, and
with these things they made every man to fit himself. And if one asked
the price, and protested that he had got no money, the Samaritans
laughed and bade them not to think of price or money until their captain
should return from the treasury of the Mayor. The seamen took all with
good cheer, and every man picked out what he wanted, and put it on,
throwing his rags aside, laughing.

But presently the master of the crew returned, and his face was heavy;
and when his men asked how he had fared, and if the Mayor had advanced
him anything, he told them No, and that the Mayor had said he was no
usurer to lend money. At that there were groans and oaths from the crew,
and looks of bewilderment among those who had fetched the clothes; but
the innkeeper said all would be well, and that they had but to send for
a merchant in the next street who made it his trade to advance money to
ship-broken men. This news brought back the light to the dark face of
the captain, and he sent the servant of the inn to fetch the merchant.

When this man came my mind misgave, for I saw the stamp of uncharity in
his face. But the captain told his story, whereof the sum was this: That
they were the English crew of the brig "Betsy," and were seven days out
from Bristol, bound for Buenos Ayres, when they foundered on a rock, and
had made their way thither on a raft, suffering much from hunger and the
cold of the nights, and that they wanted three pounds' advance on their
owners to carry them to Dublin, whence they could sail for their own
port. But the merchant curled his hard lip and said he had just before
been deceived by strangers, and could not lend money except to men of
whom he knew something; that they were strangers, and, moreover, by
their own words, entitled to no more than six days' pay apiece. And so
he went his way.

Hardly had he gone when the harpies of the coats and boots and guernseys
called on the men to strip off these good garments, which straightway
they rolled in their several bundles, and then elbowed themselves out of
the crowd. The poor seamen, resuming their rags, were now in sad case,
scarce knowing whether most to curse their misfortunes or to laugh at
the grim turn that they were taking, when the captain, in a chafe,
called on the innkeeper to give breakfast to his men, for that he meant
to push on to the next town, where people might be found who had more
humanity. But the innkeeper, losing his by-respects, shook his head, and
asked where was his pay to come from for what he had already done.

Now, when I heard this, and saw the men rise up to go on their toilsome
way with naked, bleeding feet, suddenly I bethought me that, though I
had little money, I had what would bring money, and before I had taken
time to consider I had whipped my watch from my fob to thrust it into
the captain's hands. But when I would have parted the crowd to do so, on
a sudden that same ghostly hand that I have before mentioned seemed to
seize me from behind. Then on the instant I faced about to hasten away,
for now the struggle within me was more than I could bear, and I stopped
and went on, and stopped again and again went on, and all the time the
watch was in my palm, and the ghostly hand on my shoulder. At last,
thinking sure that the memory of the seven sea-going men, hungry and
ill-clad, would follow me, and rise up to torment me on land and sea, I
wheeled around and ran back hot-foot and did as I was minded. Then I
walked rapidly away from the market-place, and passing down to the
harbor, I saw a Peeltown fisherman, and knew that he saw me also.

Now, I should have been exceeding glad if this thing had never befallen,
for though it made my feeling less ungentle toward the two men, my old
shipmates, who had turned from me as from a leper when I took them from
the burning boat, yet it brought me to a sense that was full of terror
to my oppressed spirit, namely, that though I might fly to lands where
men knew nothing of my great crime, yet that the curse thereof was
mostly within mine own afflicted soul, from which I could never flee
away.

All that day I stayed in my boat, and the sun shone and the sky was
blue, but my heart was filled with darkness. And when night fell in I
had found no comfort, for then I knew that from my outcast state there
was no escape. This being so, whether to go back to mine own island was
now my question. Oh, it is a goodly thing to lie down in the peace of a
mind at ease and rise up from the refreshment of the gentle sleep. But
not for me was that blessed condition. The quaking of my spirit was more
than I could well stand under without losing my reason, and in the fear
of that mischance lay half the pain of life to me. Long were the dark
hours, and when the soft daylight came again I did resolve that go back
to my own island I would. For what was it to me though the world was
wide if the little place I lived in was but my own narrow soul?

That night in the boat for lack of the tick of my watch there seemed to
be a void in the air of my cabin. But when the tide was about the bottom
of the ebb I heard the plash of an oar alongside and presently the sound
of something that fell overhead. Next morning I found my watch lying on
the deck, by the side of the hatches.

At the top of the flood I lifted anchor, and dropped down the harbor,
having spoken no word to any man since I sailed into it.



CHAPTER XL

OF HIS GREAT LONELINESS


Back at my old moorings inside the rocks of Kitterland I knew full well
that the Almighty Majesty was on this side of me and on that, and I had
nothing to look for now or hereafter. But I think the extremity of my
condition gave me some false courage, and my good genius seemed to say,
What have you to lament? You have health and food and freedom, and you
live under no taskmaster's eye. Let the morning see you rise in content,
and let the night look on you lying down in thankfulness. And turn not
your face to the future to the unsettling of your spirit, so that when
your time comes you may not die with a pale face. Then did I laugh at my
old yearning for fellowship, and asked wherefore I should be lonely
since I lived in the same planet with other men, and had the same moon
and stars above my sleep as hung over the busy world of men. In such
wise did I comfort my torn heart, and shut it up from troubling me, but
well I knew that I was like to one who cries peace where there is no
peace, and that in all my empty sophistry concerning the moon and the
stars there was no blood of poor human neighborliness.

Nevertheless, I daily went about my businesses, in pursuance whereof I
walked up to the place over the Black Head where I had planted my corn
and potatoes. These in their course I reaped and delved, cutting the
barley and rye with my clasp-knife for sickle, and digging a burrow in
the earth for my potatoes. Little of either I had, but enough for my
frugal needs until more might grow.

When my work was done, and I had no longer any employment to take me
ashore, the autumn had sunk to winter, for in this island of Man the
cold and the mist come at a stride. Then sitting alone in my boat, with
no task save such as I could make for myself, and no companion but
little Veg-veen, the strength of the sophistry wherewith I had appeased
myself broke down pitifully. The nights were long and dark, and the sun
shone but rarely for many days together. Few were the ships that passed
the mouth of the sound, either to east or west of it, and since my
coming to moorage there no boat had crossed its water. Cold and bleak
and sullen it lay around my boat, reflecting no more the forehead of the
Calf, and lying now under the sunless sky like a dead man's face that is
moved neither to smiles nor tears. And an awful weariness of the sea
came to me then, such as the loneliest land never brought to the spirit
of a Christian man, for sitting on the deck of my little swaying craft,
with the beat of the sea on its timbers, and the sea-fowl jabbering on
Kitterland, and perhaps a wild colt racing the wind on the Calf, it came
into my mind to think that as far as eye could see or ear could hear
there was nothing around me but the hand of God. Then all was darkness
within me, and I did oft put the question to myself if it was possible
for man to be with God alone and live.

Now it chanced upon a day that I wanted potatoes out of my burrow over
the Black Head, and that returning therefrom toward nightfall, I made a
circuit of the stone circle above the Chasm, and the northernmost side
of it, midway to Cregneesh, came on a sight that arrested my breath.
This was a hut built against a steepness of rugged land from which
stones had sometimes been quarried. The walls were of turf; the roof was
of gorse and sticks, with a hole in it for chimney. Window there was
none, and the doorway was half closed by a broken gate whereof the bars
were intertwined with old straw.

Mean it was, and desolate it looked on the wild moorland, but, it was a
mark of the hand of man, and I, who had dwelt so long with God's hand
everywhere about me, was touched with a sense of human friendliness.
Hearing no voice within, I crept up and looked into the little place. A
bed of straw was in one corner, and facing it was a lump of freestone
hollowed out for the bed of a fire. A broken pipe lay near this rude
hearth, and the floor was of mountain turf worn bare and hard. Two
sacks, a kettle, a saucepan, and some potato-parings were the only other
things in the hut, and poor as it all was it touched me so that in
looking upon it I think my eyes were wet, because it was a man's
habitation. I remember that as I turned to go away the rain began to
fall, and the pattering drops on the roof seemed to my eye and ear to
make the place more human.

In going back to my boat that day I came nearer to Cregneesh than was my
wont in the daytime, and though the darkness was coming down from the
mountains, I could yet see into the streets from the knoll I passed
over. And there in the unpaved way, before a group of houses I saw a
witless man in coat and breeches, but no vest or shirt, and with a rope
about his waist, dancing and singing to a little noisy crowd gathered
about him.

After that I had come upon the hut my mind ran much on the thought of
it, and in three days or thereabouts I went back to look at it again,
and coming near to it from behind, saw sundry beehives of a rude
fashioning, made of straw and sticks. Veg-veen was with me, for he was
now my constant company, and in a moment he had bounced in at the
doorway and out again at yet more speed, with three of his kind close at
his tail. Before I could turn me about to go away a man followed the
dogs out of the hut, and he was the same witless being that I had seen
at his dancing in the streets of Cregnesh. His lip lagged low and his
eyes were dull as a rabbit's; on his head was a crownless hat through
which his hair was seen, and I saw that his breast, where his shirt
would be, was blackened as with soot. I would have gone about my own
employments, but he spoke, telling me not to fear him, for it was false
that he was possessed, as hard-spoken people said, with the spirit of
delusion. I answered nothing to this, but stood and listened with eyes
turned aside, while the broken brain of the poor creature rambled on.

"They call me Billy the Bees," he said, "because I catch them and rear
them--look," and he pointed to his hives. He talked of his three dogs
and named them, saying that they slept in a sack together, and that in
the same sack he slept with them. Something he said of the cold that had
been coming latterly, and pointed to the soot on his breast, saying that
it kept him warm. He told how he made a circuit of the farmhouses once a
week, dancing and singing at all of them, and how the people gave him
barley-meal and eggs. Much more he said, but because the method of
it--where method there was any--has gone from my memory I pass it. That
the world was night about its end he knew of a surety, because he saw
that if a man had money and great store of gear it mattered not what
else he wanted. These with other such words he spoke ramblingly, and I
stood aside and answered him nothing, neither did I look up into his
face. At last he said, timidly, "I know I have always been weak in my
intellects," and hearing that, I could bear to hear no more, but went
about my business with a great weight of trouble upon me. And "O God," I
cried that night in my agony, "I am an ignorant sot, without the grace
of human tenderness, or the gift of understanding. I am guilty before
Thee, and no man careth for my soul, but from this affliction, O
Almighty Master save me; save me from this degradation, for it threatens
me, and when death comes that stands at the foot of life's awful
account, I will pay its price with thankfulness."

Now, after this meeting with the witless man the weariness that I had
felt of my home on the sea lay the heavier on my spirits, and I
concluded with myself that I should forsake my boat and build me a home
on the land within sight of man's habitation. So I walked the cliffs
from the Mull Hills to the Noggin Head, and at last I lit on the place I
looked for. Near to the land where I had lately broken the fallows and
grown me a crop of corn and potatoes, there were four roofless walls.
Some time a house had stood there, but being built on the brink of the
great clefts in the earth that we call the Chasms, it had shrunken in
some settlement of the ground. This had affrighted the poor souls who
inhabited it, and they had left it to fall into ruins. Such was the tale
I heard long afterward, but none came near it then, and none have come
near to it since. Save the four bare walls, and a wall that crossed it
midway, nothing was left. Where the floor had been the grass was
growing; wormwood was in the settle nook, and whinberries had ripened
and rotted on the hearth. The door lintel was gone, and the sill of the
window was fallen off. There was a round patch of long grass where the
well had been, and near to where the porch once stood the trammon-tree
still grew; and thus, though the good people who had lived and died
there, been born and buried, were gone from it forever, the sign of
their faith, or their superstition, lived after them.

Better for me than this forsaken place it was hard for any place to be.
On a dangerous spot it stood, and therefore none would come anigh it.
Near to Cregneesh it was, and from the rising ground above it I could
look down on the homes of men. Truly it looked out on the sea, and had a
great steepness of shelving rocks going down to an awesome depth, where,
on the narrow beach of shingle, the tide beat with a woful moan; but
though the sea was so near, and the sea-fowl screamed of an evening from
the great rock like a cone that lifted its gaunt finger a cable's length
away, yet to me it was within the very pulse of human life.

So I set to work, and roofed it with driftwood and turf and gorse; and
then, with lime from a cliff at the Tubdale Creek in the Calf, I
whitened it within and without, walls and roof. A door I made in
somewise, and for a window I had a piece of transparent skin, having no
glass. And when all was made ready I moved my goods from the boat to my
house, taking all that seemed necessary--flour, and meat, and salt, and
my implements, as well as my bed and the spare clothes I had, which were
not many.

I had been in no haste with this work, being well content with such
employment, but it came to an end at last, and the day that I finished
my task was a day late in the first year after my cutting off. This I
knew because the nights were long, and I had been trying with my watch
to cast on the shortest day, and thereby recover my lost count of time.
On the night of my first sleeping in my new home there came a fierce
storm of wind and rain from the east. Four hours the gale lasted, and
often the gulls were dashed screaming at the walls wherein I sat by the
first fire I had yet kindled on my hearth. Toward midnight the wind fell
suddenly to a dead calm, and, looking out, I saw that the moon was
coming very bright in its rising from behind a heavy cloud over the sea.
So, wondering what chance had befallen my boat--for though I had left it
I had a tenderness for it and meant perchance to use it again--I set out
for the sound. When I got to the head of the cliff I could plainly see
the rocks of Kitterland, and the whole length of the Doon Creek, but
where my boat had been moored no boat could I see, nor any trace of one
from Fistard Head on the east to Half-Walk Rock on the west. Next
morning, under a bright winter's sun, I continued the search for my
boat, and with the rising tide at noon I saw her thrown up on to the
beach of the Doon, dismasted, without spar or boom, bilged below her
water-line, and altogether a hopeless hulk. I made some scabbling shift
to pull her above high-water mark, and then went my ways.

Now this loss, for so I considered it, did at first much to depress me,
thinking, with a bitter envy of my late past, that my future showed me a
far more unblessed condition, seeing that I was now forever imprisoned
on this island and could never leave it again whatsoever evil might
befall. But when I had thought twice upon it, my mind came to that point
that I was filled with gratitude; first, because the wrecking of my boat
on the very day of my leaving it seemed to give assurance that, in
making my home on the land, I had done that which was written for me to
do; and next, because I must inevitably have been swallowed up in the
storm if I had stayed on the sea a single night longer. And my terror of
death was such that to have escaped the peril of it seemed a greater
blessing than releasement from this island could ever be.

Every day thereafter, and oftenest at daybreak, I walked up to the crest
of the rising ground at the back of my house, and stood awhile looking
down on Cregneesh, and watching for the white smoke that lay like a low
cloud over the hollow place wherein Port Erin lay. After that I had done
this I felt strangely refreshed, as by a sense of companionship, and
went about my work, such as it was, with content. But on a bitter
morning, some time in December, as I thought, I came upon a sight that
wellnigh froze my heart within me; for, outstretched on the bare
moorland, under the bleak sky and in the lee of a thick gorse bush
tipped with yellow, I found the witless man, Billy the Bees, lying cold
and dead. His bare chest was blue, as with starvation, under the soot
wherewith in his simpleness he had blackened it, and his pinched face
told of privation and of pain. And now that he lay stretched out dead, I
saw that he had been a man of my own stature. In his hut, which was
farther away than my own house from the place where he lay, there was
neither bite nor sup, and his dogs seemed to have deserted him in his
poverty, for they were gone. The air had softened perceptibly for some
minutes while I went thither, and as I returned to the poor body
wondering what to do with it, the snow began to fall in big flakes. "It
will cover it," I said with myself. "The snow will bury it," I thought;
and casting a look back over my shoulder, I went home with a great
burden of trouble upon me.

All that day, and other two days, the snow continued to fall, until the
walls of my house were blocked up to the level of my window, and I had
to cut a deep trench to the gable where I piled my wood. And for more
than a week following, shut in from my accustomed walk I sat alone in
the great silence and tried to keep my mind away from the one fearful
thought that now followed it. Remembering those long hours and the sorry
employments I found for them--scrabbling on all-fours in play with
Millish-veg-veen, laughing loud, and barking back at the dog's shrill
bark, I could almost weep while here I write to think of the tragic
business that was at the same time lying heavy on my spirit. Christmas
Day fell while thus I was imprisoned, for near to midnight I heard the
church bells ring for Oiel Verree.

When the snow began to melt I saw that the dog put his muzzle to the
bottom of the door instantly, and as often as I drove him away he
returned to the same place. I will not say what awful thing came to my
mind, knowing a dog's nature, and how near to my door lay the body of
the witless man; only that I shuddered with a fear that was new to me
when I remembered that, by the curse I lived under, the time would come
when my unburied bones would lie on the bare face of the moor.

As soon as the snow had melted down to within a foot's depth of the
earth I went out of my house and turned toward where my poor neighbor
lay; but before I had come close to him I saw that three men were coming
over the hillside by way of Port-le-Mary, and, wishing not to be seen by
them, I crept back and lay by the hinder wall of my house to watch what
they did. Then I saw that they came up to the body of the witless man
and saw it, and stood over it some minutes talking earnestly, and then
passed along on their way. And as they walked they turned aside and came
close up by the front of my house, and looked in at the window, pushing
the skin away. Standing by the wall, holding Veg-veen by the throat lest
he should betray me, I heard some words the men said each to the other
before they went on again.

"Well, man, he's dead at last, poor craythur," said one, "and good-luck
too."

And the other answered, "Aw, dear, to think, to think! No man alive
could stand up agen it. Aw, ter'ble, ter'ble!"

"I was at the Tynwald myself yander day," said the first, "and I'll give
it a year, I was saying, to finish him, and behould ye, he's lying dead
in half the time."

Then both together said, "God bless me!" and passed on.

At that moment my eyes became dim, and a sound as of running water went
through my ears. I staggered into my house, and sat down by the cold
hearth, for in my eagerness to go forth on my errand at first awakening,
no fire had I kindled. I recalled the words that the men had spoken, and
repeated them aloud one by one, and very slowly, that I might be sure I
took their meaning rightly. This done, I said with myself, "This error
will go far, until the wide island will say that he who was cut off, he
who is nameless among men, is dead." Dead? What then? I had heard that
when death came and took away a bad man, its twin-angel, the angel of
mercy, bent over those who were left behind on the earth, and drew out
of their softened hearts all evil reports and all uncharity.

And a great awe slid over me at that thought, and the gracious dew of a
strange peace fell upon me. But close behind it came the other thought,
that this error would reach my father also--God preserve him!--and
Mona--God's holy grace be with her!--and bring them pain. And then it
came to me to think that when men said in their hearing, "He whom you
wot of is newly dead," they would take heart and answer, "No, he died
long ago; it was only his misery and God's wrath that died yesterday."

With this thought I rose up and went out, and put some shovels of earth
over the body of my poor neighbor, that his face might be hidden from
the sky.



CHAPTER XLI

OF HOW HE KEPT HIS MANHOOD


The great snow lay long on the mountains, and died off in its silence
like one who passes away in sleep. And the spring came, the summer and
the winter yet again, and to set down in this writing all that befell
would be a weariness, for I feel as I write that the pulse of my life is
low; and neither am I one who can paint his words with wit. My way of
life has now grown straight and even, and at my simple employments I
wrought early and late, that by much bodily toil I might keep in check
the distempers of my mind.

With my fishing-boat, my gun, which I had left behind me of design, had
been carried to the bottom of the sound, and when the hulk of the lugger
drifted up with the tide the gun was no longer within her. This I took
for a direction to me that I should hunt no more. Nevertheless, for some
while I went on to fish with a line from my small-boat, which, being on
the beach, the storm had spared. But soon it was gotten into my head
that, if to shoot a hare was an ill deed, to take a cod was but a poor
business. Well I knew that there was some touch of insanity in such
fancies, and that for man to kill and eat was the law of life, and the
rather because it was enjoined of God that so he should do. But being a
man like as I was, cut off from the land of the living, never more to
have footing there for the great crime committed of spilling blood, I
think it was not an ungentle madness that made me fear to take life,
whether wantonly or of hunger's need. This dread lay close to me, and
got to extremities whereat one of healthy mind might smile. For, being
awakened some nights in succession by the nibble of a mouse, I arose
from my bed in the dawn, and saw the wee mite, and struck it with an
iron rod and killed it, and then suffered many foolish twitches, not
from pity for the mouse, for of humanity I had none left, but from the
sudden thought that the spirit of its life, which I had driven from its
harmless body, was now about me as an invisible thing. Though I had
fallen into such a weakness, yet I think that where choice was none for
one like me between the weakness of a man and the strength of a beast, I
did least injury to my own nature and disposition by yielding with
childish indulgence toward the gentler side.

And truly, it is a beautiful thing to mark how the creatures of earth
and air will answer with confidence to man's tenderness, whether, as
with my saintly father, it comes of the love of them, or, as with me, of
the love of myself. The sea-fowl flew in at my door and pecked up the
morsels that fell at my feet; the wild duck on the moor would not rise
though I walked within a stride of it; a fat hare nested in a hole under
my house and came out at dusk to nibble the parings of potatoes that I
threw at the door, and, but for Millish-veg-veen and his sly
treacheries, with the rabbits of the Black Head I might have sported as
with a kitten.

I could fill this account with the shifts I was put to by want of many
things that even a lone man may need for his comfort or his cheer. Thus,
I was at pains to devise a substitute for tinder, having lost much of
all I had in the wrecking of my boat; and to find leather for the soles
of my shoes when they were worn to the welt was long a search.

Yet herein my case was but that of many another man who has told of his
privation, and the less painful was my position for that I had much to
begin my battle of life with. In this first year of my unblessed
condition my senses not only recovered their wonted strength, but grew
keener than before my cutting off. Oft did my body seem to act without
help of my intelligence, and, with a mind on other matters, I would find
my way over the trackless moor back to my home in the pitch of darkness,
and never so much as stumble by a stone. When the wind was from the
north, or when the air lay still, I could hear the church bells that
rang in the market square at Castletown, and thereby I knew what the day
of the week was. None came nigh to my dwelling, but if a man passed it
by at the space of two furlongs, I seemed to feel his tread on the turf.

And now, as I hold the pen for these writings, my hand is loth and my
spirit is not fain to tell of the strange humors of these times. So
ridiculous and yet so tragic do they look as they come back to me in the
grave-clothes of memory, that my imagination, being no longer turned
wayward, shrinks from them as sorry things that none shall see to be of
nature save he who has lived in an outcast state. But if the eyes I look
for should ever read these lines, the tender soul behind them will bring
me no laughter for my pains, and I ask no tears. Only for my weakness
let it be remembered that the terror of my life was, that the spirit of
madness and of the beast of the field waited and watched to fall upon me
and to destroy the spirit of the man within me.

It is not to be expressed with what eagerness I strove to live in my
solitude as a man should live in the company of his fellows. Down to the
pettiest detail of personal manners, I tried to do as other men must be
doing. Whatsoever seemed to be the habit of a Christian man that I
practised, and (though all alone and having no man's eye to see me) with
a grim and awesome earnestness. Thus before food, I not only washed but
dressed afresh, taking off the sea-boots or the curranes I worked in,
and putting on my shoes with silver buckles. My seaman's jacket I
removed for a long coat of blue, and I was careful that my shirt was
spotless. In this wise I also never failed to attire myself in the
evening of the day for the short hours of rest between my work and my
bed. That my cheeks should be kept clean of hair, and that the hair of
my head should never outgrow itself, was a constant care, for I stood in
fear of the creeping consciousness which my face in the glass might
bring me, that I was other than other men. But I am loth to set down my
little foolish formalities on sitting to meat and rising from it, and
the silly ceremonies wherewith I indulged myself at going abroad and
coming home. Inexpressibly comic and ridiculous some of them would seem
to me now, but for the tragic meaning that in my terror underlay them.
And remembering how much a defaulter I had been in all such courtesies
of life when most they were called for, I could almost laugh to think
how scrupulous I was in their observance when I was quite alone, with
never an eye to see me, what I did or how I was clad, or in what sorry
fashion I in my solitude acquitted myself like a man.

But though I could be well disposed to laugh at my notions of how to
keep my manhood while compelled to live the life of a beast, alone like
a wolf and useless for any purposes of man or the world, it is not with
laughter that I recall another form of the insanity that in these times
possessed me. This was the conviction that I was visited by Ewan, Mona,
and my father. Madness, I call it, but never did my pulse beat more
temperately or my brain seem clearer than when conscious of these
visitations. If I had spent the long day delving, or gathering limestone
on the beach of the sound, and returned to my house at twilight, I would
perhaps be suddenly aware as I lifted the latch--having thought only of
my work until then--that within my kitchen these three sat together, and
that they turned their eyes to me as I entered. Nothing would be more
convincing to my intelligence than that I actually saw what I say, and
yet I always seemed to know that it was not with my bodily eyes that I
was seeing. These indeed were open, and I was broad awake, with plain
power of common sight on common things--my stool, my table, the settle I
had made myself, and perhaps the fire of turf that burned red on the
hearth. But over this bodily vision there was a spiritual vision more
stable than that of a dream, more soft and variable than that of
material reality, in which I clearly beheld Ewan and Mona and my father,
and saw their eyes turned toward me. Madness it may have been, but I
could say it at the foot of the White Throne that what I speak of I have
seen not once or twice, but many times.

And well I remember how these visitations affected me: first as a
terror, for when on a sudden they came to me as I lifted the latch I
would shrink back and go away again, and return to my house with
trembling; and then as a strange comfort, for they were a sort of silent
company in my desolation. More than once, in these days of great
loneliness, did I verily believe that I had sat me down in the midst of
the three to spend a long hour in thinking of the brave good things that
might have been for all of us but for my headstrong passion, helped out
by the cruel tangle of our fate.

One thing I noted that even yet seems strange in the hours when my
imagination is least given to waywardness. Throughout the period wherein
I lived in the boat, and for some time after I removed me to my house,
the three I have named seemed to visit me together; but after that I had
found my witless neighbor lying dead on the moor, and after that I had
heard the converse of the men who mistook his poor body for my own, the
visitations of Mona and my father ceased altogether, and Ewan alone did
I afterward seem to see. This I pondered long, and at length it fastened
on me with a solemn conviction that what I had looked for had come
about, and that the error that I was a dead man had reached the ears of
my father and of Mona. With Ewan I sat alone when he came to me, and oft
did it appear that we were loving company, for in his eyes were looks of
deep pity, and I on my part had ceased to rail at the blind passion that
had parted us flesh from flesh.

These my writings are not for men who will look at such words as I have
here set down with a cold indifference, or my hand would have kept me
back from this revelation. But that I saw apparently what I have
described is as sure before God as that I was a man cut off from the
land of the living.

A more material sequel came of the finding of the body on the moor. I
was so closely followed by dread of a time that was coming when I must
die, and stretch out my body on the bare ground with no man to give it
Christian burial in the earth, that I could take no rest until I had
devised a means whereby this terror might not haunt me in my last hours.
In front of my house there were, as I have said, the places we call the
Chasms, wherein the rock of this hungry coast is honeycombed into a
hundred deep gullies by the sea. One of these gullies I descended by
means of a cradle of rope swung overthwart a strong log of driftwood,
and there I found a long shelf of stone, a deep fissure in the earth, a
tomb of shelving rock coated with fungus and mold, whereto no dog could
come, and wherein no bird of prey could lift its wing. To this place I
resolved that I would descend when the power of life was on the point of
ebbing away. Having lowered myself by my cradle of rope, I meant to draw
the cordage after me, and then, being already near my end, to lie down
in this close gully under the earth, that was to serve me for grave and
death-bed.

But I was still a strong man, and, ungracious as my condition was, I
shrank from the thought of death, and did what I could to put by the
fear of it. Never a day did I fail to walk to the crest of the rising
ground behind me and look down to where in the valley lay the
habitations of men. Life, life, life, was now the constant cry of the
voice of my heart, and a right goodly thing it seemed to me to be alive,
though I might be said not to live, but only to exist.

Whether, from the day whereon I heard the converse of the two men who
went by my house, I was ever seen of any man for a twelvemonth or more,
I scarce can tell. Great was my care to keep out of the ways wherein
even the shepherds walked, and never a foot seemed to come within two
furlongs of these abandoned parts from the bleak Black Head to the
margin of the sound. But it happened, upon a day toward winter,
beginning the second year since my cutting off, that I turned toward
Port-le-Mary, and walking on with absent mind, came nearer than I had
purposed to the village over the Kallow Point. There I was suddenly
encountered by four or five men who, much in liquor, were playing at
leap-frog among the gorse. English seamen they seemed to be, and perhaps
from the brig that some time before I had noted where she lay anchored
to the lee of the Carrick Rock, in the Poolvash below. At sight of them
I was for turning quickly aside, but they raised such a cry and shot out
such a volley of levities and blasphemies that, try how I would to go
on, I could not but stop on the instant and turn my face to them.

Then I saw that of me the men took no note whatever, and that all their
eyes were on my dog Millish-veg-veen, who was with me, and was now
creeping between my feet with his stump of a tail under his belly, and
his little cunning face full of terror. "Why, here's the dog that killed
our monkey," said one, and another shouted, "It's my old cur, sure
enough," and a third laughed and said he had kept a rod in pickle for
more than a year, and the first cried again, "I'll teach the beast to
kill no more Jackeys." Then, before I was yet fully conscious of what
was being done, one of the brawny swaggerers made toward us, and kicked
at the dog with the fierce lunge of a heavy seaman's boot. The dog
yelped and would have made off, but another of the blusterers kicked him
back, and then a third kicked him, and whatever way he tried to escape
between them, one of them lifted his foot and kicked again.

While they were doing this I felt myself struggling to cry out to them
to stop, but not a syllable could I utter, and, like a man paralyzed, I
stood stock-still, and did nothing to save my housemate and only
companion in life. At length one of the men, laughing a great roistering
laugh, stooped and seized the dog by the nape of the neck and swung him
round in the air. Then I saw the poor cur's piteous look toward me, and
heard its bitter cry; but at the next instant it was flying ten feet
above our heads, and when it fell to the ground it was killed on the
instant.

At that sight I heard an awful groan burst from my mouth, and I saw a
cloud of fire flash before my eyes. When next I knew what I was doing I
was holding one of the men by a fierce grip about the waist, and was
swinging him high above my shoulders.

Now, if the good God had not given me back my consciousness at that
moment, I know full well that at the next he who was then in my power
would have drawn no more the breath of a living man. But I felt on a
sudden the same ghostly hand upon me that I have written of before, and
heard the same ghostly voice in mine ear. So, dropping the man gently to
his feet, as gently as a mother might slip her babe to its cot, I lifted
up my poor mangled beast by its hinder legs and turned away with it. And
as I went the other men fell apart from me with looks of terror, for
they saw that God had willed it that, with an awful strength, should I,
a man of great passions, go through life in peril.

When I had found coolness to think of this that had happened, I mourned
for the loss of the only companion that had ever shared with me my
desolate state; but more than my grief for the dog was my fear for
myself, remembering with horror that when I would have called on the men
to desist I could not utter one word. Truly, it may have been the swift
access of anger that then tied my tongue, but I could not question that
my sudden speechlessness told me I was losing the faculty of speech.
This conclusion fastened upon me with great pain, and I saw that for a
twelvemonth or more I had been zealously preserving the minor qualities
of humanity, while this its greatest faculty, speech, that distinguishes
man from the brute, had been silently slipping from me. Preserve my
power of speech also I resolved I would, and though an evil spirit
within me seemed to make a mock at me, and to say, "Wherefore this
anxiety to keep your speech, seeing that you will never require it,
being a man cut off forever from all intercourse with other men?" yet I
held to my purpose.

Then I asked myself how I was to preserve my speech, save by much and
frequent speaking, and how I was to speak, having none--not even my dog
now--to speak to. For, to speak constantly with myself was a practise I
shrank from as leading perchance to madness, since I had noted that men
of broken wit were much given to mumbling vain words to themselves. At
last I concluded that there was but one way for me, and that was to
pray. Having lighted on this thought I had still some misgivings, for
the evil spirit within me again made a mock at me, asking why I should
speak to God, being a man outside God's grace, and why I should waste
myself in the misspent desire of prayer, seeing that the Heavenly
Majesty had set His face from me in rejecting the atonement of my life,
which I had offered for my crime. But after great inward strivings I
came back to my old form of selfishness, and was convinced that, though
when I prayed God would not hear me, yet that the yearning and uplooking
of prayer might be a good thing for the spiritual part of my nature as a
man--for when was the beast known to pray?

At this I tried to recall a few good words such as my father used, and
at length, after much beating of the wings of my memory, I remembered
some that were the words of Bishop Jeremy Taylor, and did betake myself
to prayer in this manner: "O most gracious God, I tremble to come into
Thy presence, so polluted and dishonored as I am by my foul stain of sin
which I have contracted; but I must come or I perish. I am useless to
any purposes of God and man, and, like one that is dead, unconcerned in
the changes and necessities of the world, living only to spend my time,
and, like a vermin, eat of the fruits of the earth. O my God, I can not
help it now; miserable man that I am, to reduce myself to so sad a state
that I neither am worthy to come to Thee nor dare I stay from Thee. The
greatness of my crime brings me to my remedy; and now I humbly pray Thee
to be merciful to my sin, for it is great."

And this prayer I spoke aloud twice daily thenceforward, at the rising
and the setting of the sun, going out of my house and kneeling on the
turf on the top of the Black Head. And when I had prayed I sang what I
could remember of the psalm that runs, "It is good for me that I have
been in trouble, that I may learn Thy statutes."

In my mind's eye I see myself, a solitary man in that lone place, with
the sea stretching wide below me, and only the sound of its heavy beat
on the rocks rising over me in the quiet air.



CHAPTER XLII

OF THE BREAKING OF THE CURSE


Thus far have I written these four days past, amid pain and the quick
lessening of the powers of life. In sleepless hours of the night I have
made this writing, sitting oftenest by the light of my feeble candles
until the day has been blue over the sea. And now that I glance back and
see my own heart in the mirror I have made for it, I am like to one who
has been brought through a fearsome sickness, that has left its marks
upon him, to look for the first time at his altered face in the glass.
And can it be that I, who have penned these words, am the man of seven
years ago? Ah, now I see how profound has been the change that my great
punishment has made in me, and perceive the end of God in refusing my
poor atonement of life for life, and cutting me off from among men.

I will not say that what I have already written has not cost me some
pangs, and perhaps some tears. But now I am come to that place where I
must tell of the great turning-point in my sad state, and though the
strength fails me wherewith I hold the pen to write of it, my spirit
rises before it like as the lark awakened by the dawn.

This year--surely the darkest within the memory of our poor people of
Man--began with more than its share of a winter of heavy rains. The
spring that followed was also rainy, and when I looked for the summer to
begin, the rains were still incessant. Heavy and sodden was the ground
even of the moor whereon I lived, so that my feet sank into it as into a
morass, and much of the seed I sowed was washed from it and wasted. When
at length the long rains ceased to fall the year was far worn into June,
and then the sun came quick and hot. My house stood on a brow descending
to the cliffs of the coast, and beneath me were less than two feet of
mold above the rock; but when the great heat came after the great rain,
out of the ground there arose a thick miasmic mist that filled the air,
obscured the light, lay heavy in sweat upon my hair and flesh, and made
the walls and floor, the furniture, and the bed of my home, damp and
dripping with constant dew.

Quickly I set myself to the digging of deep trenches that went
vertically down the brow to the cliff head, and soon the ground about me
across many acres was drained dry. But though I lived in a clear air,
and could now see the sun as well as feel it, yet I perceived that the
mists stood in a wide half-circle around me like walls of rain seen
afar, while the spot whereon you stand is fair and in the sunshine. In
my daily walks to the top of the moor I could no longer see the houses
of Cregneesh for the cloud of vapor that lay over it, and when I walked
to the Kallow Head for the first time since the day I lost my dog, the
basin below, where Port-le-Mary stands, was even as a vast vaporous sea,
without one islet of house or hill.

My health suffered little from this unaccustomed humidity, for my bodily
strength was ever wonderful; but my spirits sank to a deep depression,
and oft did I wonder how the poor souls must fare who lived on the low,
wet Curraghs near to where my own home once lay. From day to day, and
week to week, the mist continued to rise from the dank ground under the
hot sun, and still the earth came up in thick clods to the spade.

The nights alone were clear, and toward midsummer I was witness to
strange sights in the heavens. Thus I saw a comet pass close across the
island from coast to coast, with a visible motion as of quivering flame.
What this visitation could foretell I pondered long and sadly, and much
I hungered for knowledge of what was being done in the world of men. But
therein it seemed to my wayward mind that I was like a man buried in the
churchyard while he is yet alive, who hears the bell in the tower that
peals and tolls, but has no window in his tomb from which to see who
comes to rejoice, and who to mourn.

When the fleet of fishing-boats should have put out from Port Erin for
the ground that lies south of the Calf, scarce a sail could I see, and
not a boat had I noted coming from the Poolvash, where Port-le-Mary
stands above the bay. From the top of the Mull Hills I could faintly
descry the road to Castletown, but never a cart on market-day seemed to
pass over it. Groups of people I vaguely saw standing together, and
once, at midday, from the middle of a field of new-mown hay, there came
to me the sounds of singing and prayer. Oftener than at any period
during my solitary life, I saw men on the mountains or felt their
presence near me, for my senses were grown very keen. Oftener, also,
than ever before, the sound of church bells seemed to come through the
air. And going to the beach where my shattered boat lay, I one day came
upon another boat beating idly down the waters of the sound, her sails
flapping in the wind, and no hand at her tiller. I stood to watch while
the little craft came drifting on with the flow of the tide. She ran
head on to the cliff at Fistard, and then I went down to her, and found
never a living soul aboard of her.

From these and other startling occurrences that came to me vaguely, as
if by the one sense of the buried man, I felt that with the poor people
of this island all was not well. But nothing did I know of a certainty
until a day toward the first week of September--as I have reckoned
it--and then a strange thing befell.

The sun was not shining, and when there was no sun there was little
mist. A strong wind, too, had got up from the northeast, and the
atmosphere over land and sea grew clearer as the day wore on. The wind
strengthened after the turn of the ebb, and at half-flood, which was
toward three in the afternoon, it had risen to the pitch of a gale, with
heavy swirling rain. The rain ceased in a few hours, and in the lift of
the heavy clouds I could see from the rising ground above my house a
brig with shortened sail toiling heavily to the southwest of the Calf.
She was struggling in the strong currents that flow there to get into
the lee of the island, but was beaten back and back, never catching the
shelter of the cliffs for the rush of the wind that swept over them. The
darkness was falling in while I watched her, and when she was swept back
and hidden from me by the forehead of the Calf I turned my face
homeward. Then I noticed that on the top of the Mull Hills a great
company of people had gathered, and I thought I saw that they were
watching the brig that was laboring heavily in the sea.

That night I had close employment at my fireside, for I was finishing a
coat that I had someways fashioned with my undeft fingers from the best
pieces of many garments that of themselves would no longer hold
together. Rough as a monk's long sack it was, and all but as shapeless,
but nevertheless a fit companion for the curranes on my feet, which I
had made some time before from the coat of my hapless Millish-veg-veen.

While I wrought with my great sail-maker's needle and twine, the loud
wind moaned about the walls of my house and whistled through its many
crevices, and made the candle whereby I worked to flicker and gutter.
Yet my mind was more cheerful than had lately been its wont, and I sang
to myself with my face to the glow of the fire.

But when toward ten o'clock the sea below sent up a louder hiss than
before, followed by a deeper undergroan, suddenly there was a clash at
my window, and a poor, panting sea-mew, with open beak, came through it
and fell helpless on the floor. I picked up the storm-beaten creature
and calmed it, and patched with the needle the skin of the window which
it had broken by its entrance.

Then all at once my mind went back to the brig laboring in the sea
behind the Calf. Almost at the same moment, and for the first time these
seven years, a quick knock came to my door. I was startled, and made no
answer, but stood stock-still in the middle of the floor with the
frightened bird in my hand. Before I was yet fully conscious of what was
happening, the wooden latch of the door had been lifted, and a man had
stepped across the threshold. In another moment he had closed the door
behind him, and was speaking to me.

"You will never find heart to deny me shelter on such a night as this?"
he said.

I answered him nothing. Surely with my mind I did not hear him, but only
with mine ears. I was like the one who is awakened suddenly out of a
long dream, and can scarce be sure which is the dream and which the
reality, what is behind and what is before.

The man stumbled a step forward, and said, speaking falteringly, "I am
faint from a blow."

He staggered another pace forward, and would have fallen, but I,
recovering in some measure my self-command, caught him in my arms, and
put him to sit on the settle before the hearth.

Scarce had he gained this rest when his eyelids trembled and closed, and
he became insensible. He was a large, swart, and bony man, bearing in
his face the marks of life's hard storms. His dress was plainly the
dress of a priest, but of an order of priesthood quite unknown to me. A
proud poverty sat upon the man, and before I yet knew wherefor, my heart
went out to him in a strange, uncertain reverence.

Loosening the hard collar that bound his neck, I made bare his throat,
and then moistened his lips with water. Some other offices I did for
him, such as with difficulty removing his great boots, which were full
of water, and stretching his feet toward the fire. I stirred the peats,
too, and the glow was full and grateful. Then I looked for the mark of
the blow he spoke of, and found it where most it was to be feared, on
the hinder part of the head. Though there was no blood flowing, yet was
the skull driven in upon the brain, leaving a hollow spot over a space
that might have been covered by a copper token.

He did not soon return to consciousness, but toiled hard at intervals to
regain it, and then lapsed back to a breathless quiet. And I, not
knowing what else to do, took a basin of water, lukewarm, and bathed the
wound with it, damping the forehead with water that was cold. All this
time the sea-mew, which I had cast from my hand when the priest
stumbled, lay in one corner panting, its head down, its tail up, and its
powerless wings stretched useless on either side.

Then the man, taking a long breath, opened his eyes, and seeing me he
made some tender of gratitude. He told me that in being put ashore out
of the brig "Bridget," from Cork, in Ireland, he had been struck on the
head by the boom as it shifted with the wind, but that heeding not his
injury, and thinking he could make Port-le-Mary to lie there that night,
he had set out over the moor, while his late comrades of the brig put
off from our perilous coast for England, whither they were bound.

So much had he said, speaking painfully, when again he fell in
unconsciousness, and this time a strong delirium took hold of him. I
tried not to hear what then he said, for it seemed to me an awful thing
that in such an hour of reason's vanquishment the eye of man might look
into the heart, which only God's eye should see. But hear him I must, or
leave him alone in his present need. And he talked loudly of some great
outrage wherein helpless women were thrown on the roads without shelter,
and even the dead in their graves were desecrated. When he came to
himself again he knew that his mind had wandered, and he told me that
four years before he had been confessor at the convent of Port Royal in
France. He said that in that place they had been men and women of the
Order of Jansenists, teaching simple goodness and piety. But their
convent had been suppressed by commission of the Jesuits, and being
banished from France, he had fled to his native country of Ireland,
where now he held the place of parish priest. More in this manner he
said, but my mind was sorely perplexed, and I cannot recall his words
faithfully, or rightly tell of the commerce of conversation between us,
save that he put to me some broken questions in his moments of ease from
pain, and muttered many times to himself after I had answered him
briefly, or when I had answered him not at all.

For the sense that I was a man awakening out of a dream, a long dream of
seven lonesome years, grew stronger as he told of what traffic the world
had lately seen, and he himself been witness to. And my old creeping
terror of the judgment upon me that forbade that any man should speak
with me, or that I should speak with any man, struggled hard with the
necessity now before me to make a swift choice whether I should turn
away and leave this man, who had sought the shelter of my house, or
break through the curse that bound me.

Choice of any kind I did not make with a conscious mind, but before I
was yet aware I was talking with the priest, and he with me.

The Priest: He said, I am the Catholic priest that your good Bishop sent
for out of Ireland, as you have heard I doubt not?

Myself: I answered No, that I had not heard.

The Priest: He asked me, did I live alone in this house, and how long I
had been here?

Myself: I said, Yes, and that I had been seven years in this place come
Christmas.

The Priest: He asked, What, and do you never go up to the towns?

Myself: I answered, No.

The Priest: Then, said the priest, thinking long before he spoke, you
have not heard of the great sickness that has broken out among your
people.

Myself: I told him I had heard nothing.

The Priest: He said it was the sweating sickness, and that vast numbers
had fallen to it and many had died. I think he said--I can not be
sure--that after fruitless efforts of his own to combat the disease, the
Bishop of the island had sent to Ireland a message for him, having heard
that the Almighty had blessed his efforts in a like terrible scourge
that broke out two years before over the bogs of Western Ireland.

I listened with fear, and began to comprehend much that had of late been
a puzzle to me. But before the priest had gone far his sickness overcame
him afresh, and he fell in another long unconsciousness. While he lay
thus, very silent or rambling afresh through the ways of the past, I
know not what feelings possessed me, for my heart was in a great
turmoil. But when he opened his eyes again, very peaceful in their quiet
light, but with less than before of the power of life in them, he said
he perceived that his errand had been fruitless, and that he had but
come to my house to die. At that word I started to my feet with a cry,
but he--thinking that my thoughts were of our poor people, who would
lose a deliverer by his death--told me to have patience, for that God
who had smitten him down would surely raise up in his stead a far
mightier savior of my afflicted countrymen.

Then in the lapses of his pain he talked of the sickness that had
befallen his own people; how it was due to long rains that soaked the
soil, and was followed by the hot sun that drew out of the earth its
foul sweat; how the sickness fell chiefly on such as had their houses on
bogs and low-lying ground; and how the cure for it was to keep the body
of the sick person closely wrapped in blankets, and to dry the air about
him with many fires. He told me, too, that all medicines he had yet seen
given for this disease were useless, and being oftenest of a cooling
nature were sometimes deadly. He said that those of his own people who
had lived on the mountains had escaped the malady. Much he also said of
how men had fled from their wives, and women from their children in
terror of the infection, but that, save only in the worst cases,
contagion from the sweating sickness there could be none. More of this
sort he said than I can well set down in this writing. Often he spoke
with sore labor, as though a strong impulse prompted him. And I who
listened eagerly heard what he said with a mighty fear, for well I knew
that if death came to him as he foretold, I had now that knowledge which
it must be sin to hide.

After he had said this the lapses into unconsciousness were more
frequent than before, and the intervals of cool reason and sweet respite
from pain were briefer. But a short while after midnight he came to
himself with a smile on his meagre face and peace in his eyes. He asked
me would I promise to do one thing for him, for that he was a dying man;
and I told him yes, before I had heard what it was that he wished of me.
Then he asked did I know where the Bishop lived, and at first I made no
answer.

Bishop's Court they call his house, he said, and it lies to the
northwest of this island by the land they have named the Curraghs. Do
you know it?

I bent my head by way of assent.

The Priest: I would have you to go to him, he said, and say--The
Catholic priest you sent for out of Ireland, Father Dalby, fulfilled his
pledge to you and came to your island, but died by the visitation of God
on the night of his landing on your shores. Will you deliver me this
message?

I did not make him an answer, and he put the question again. Still my
tongue clave to the roof of my mouth and I could not speak.

The Priest: You need not fear, he said, to go to the Bishop, for he is a
holy man, as I have heard, without pride of worldly place, and the poor
and outcast are his constant guests.

Even yet I answered nothing, but only held down my head while my heart
surged within me.

The Priest: The fame of him as a righteous servant of God had gone far
into other lands, and therefore it was I, who love Protestantism not at
all, and hold no dalliance with it, came to your island at his call.

He took my hand in his hands and asked me again if I would go to the
Bishop to say the words which he had given me, and I, with swimming eyes
that saw nothing of the dying face before me, bowed my head, and
answered, I will go.

Near three hours longer he lived, and much of that time he passed in a
feeble delirium. But just before the end came he awoke, and motioned to
a small bag that hung about his waist. I guessed his meaning, and
drawing out a crucifix I placed it in his hands.

Then he passed silently away, and Death, the black camel that had knelt
at the gate of my lone house these seven years of death-in-life, had
entered it at last to take another man than me.



CHAPTER XLIII

OF HIS GREAT RESOLVE


When he had ceased to breathe, the air of my house became suddenly void
and empty. With a great awe upon me I rose and stretched him out on the
settle, and covered his white face with a cloth. Then in the silence I
sat and tried to think of the strange accident that had that night
befallen. One thing I saw with a fearful certainty, that a great burden
of responsibility had fallen upon me. I thought of the people of this
island perishing in their sickness, and I remembered that I alone of all
men here knew how to succor and save them. I alone, and who was I? The
one man accursed among men; the one man cut off forever from the company
of the living; the man without family or kin or name among the people;
whose flesh no man might touch with his flesh; whose eye no other eye
might look upon.

And thus with the burden of responsibility came a yet more terrible
burden of doubt. Was it for me to break through the dread judgment
pronounced upon me, and go down among the people to heal them? And if I
went would the people receive me, even in this their last extreme?
Before the face of death would all other fears sink out of their sight?
Or, fearing death itself less than the curse, would they rise up and
drive me from them?

Long I sat in the anguish of black misgivings, and then rose and ranged
my room from side to side, if perchance I might find some light in my
darkness. And oft did the strangeness of that night's accidents so far
bewilder me that for an instant it would seem that I must be in a dream.
Once I lifted the face-cloth from the face on the settle that I might be
sure that I was awake.

At length it fixed itself on my mind that whatsoever the judgment upon
me, and whatsoever the people's terror of it, I had no choice but to
bear the burden that was now mine own. Go down among my sick countrymen
I should and must, let the end be what it would! Accursed man though I
was, yet to fulfil the dead priest's mission was a mission wherewith God
Himself seemed to charge me!

And now I scarce can say how it escaped me that my first duty was to
take the body of the priest who had died in my house to one of the
churchyards for Christian burial. There must have been some end of
Providence in my strange forgetfulness, for if this thing had but come
into my wild thoughts, and I had indeed done what it was fitting that I
should do, then must certain wonderful consequences have fallen short of
the blessing with which God has blessed them.

What I did, thinking no evil, was to pick up my spade and go out on the
moor and delve for the dead man a shallow grave. As I turned to the door
I stumbled over something that lay on the floor. Stooping to look at it,
I found it to be the poor sea-mew. It was dead and stiff, and had still
its wings outstretched as if in the act of flight.

I had not noted until now, when with a fearful glance backward I stepped
out into the night, that the storm had gone. A thick dew-cloud lay deep
over the land, and the round moon was shining through it. I chose a spot
a little to the south of the stone circle on the Black Head, and there
by the moon's light I howket a barrow of earth. The better part of an
hour I wrought, and when my work was done I went back to my house, and
then the dead man was cold. I took a piece of old canvas, and put it
about the body, from head to feet, wrapping it over the clothes, and
covering the face. This done, I lifted the dead in my arms and carried
it out.

Very hollow and heavy was the thud of my feet on the turf in that
uncertain light. As I toiled along I recalled the promise that I had
given to the priest to see my father and speak with him. This memory
brought me the sore pain of a wounded tenderness, but it strengthened my
resolve. When I had reached the grave which I had made the night was
near to morning, the dew-cloud had lifted away, and out of the unseen,
murmuring sea that lay far and wide in front of me a gray streak, like
an arrow's barb, was shooting up into the darkness of the sky.

One glance more I took at the dead man's face in that vague foredawn,
and its swart meagreness seemed to have passed off under death's
composing hand.

I covered the body with the earth, and then I said my prayer, for it was
nigh to my accustomed hour. Also I sang my psalm, kneeling with my face
toward the sea. And while I sang in that dank air the sky lightened and
the sun rose out of the deep.

I know not what touched me then, if it was not the finger of God
Himself; but suddenly a great burden seemed to fall from me, and my
heart grew full of a blessed joy. And, O Father, I cried, I am delivered
from the body of the death I lived in! I have lived, I have died, and I
live again!

I saw apparently that the night of my long imprisonment was past, that
the doors of my dungeon were broken open, and that its air was to be the
breath of my nostrils no more.

Then the tears gushed from mine eyes and rained down my bony cheeks, for
well I knew that God had seen that I, even I, had suffered enough.

And when I rose to my feet from beside the dead man's grave I felt of a
certainty that the curse had fallen away.

       *       *       *       *       *


HIS LAST WORDS

Three days have gone since last I put my hand to this writing, and now I
know that though the curse has fallen from me yet must its earthly
penalties be mine to the end. Sorely weary, and more sorely ashamed, I
have, within these three hours past, escaped from the tumult of the
people. How their wild huzzas ring in my ears! "God bless the priest!"
"Heaven save the priest!" Their loud cries of a blind gratitude, how
they follow me! Oh, that I could fly from the memory of them, and wipe
them out of my mind! There were those that appeared to know me among the
many that knew me not. The tear-stained faces, the faces hard and stony,
the faces abashed and confused--how they live before my eyes! And at the
Tynwald, how the children were thrust under my hand for my blessing! My
blessing--mine! and at the Tynwald! Thank God, it is all over! I am away
from it forever. Home I am at last, and for the last time.

Better than three weeks have passed since the priest died in my house
and I buried him on the moor. What strange events have since befallen,
and in what a strange, new world! The Deemster's terrible end, and my
own going with the priest's message to the Bishop, my father. But I
shall not live to set it down. Nor is it needful so to do, for she whom
I write for knows all that should be written henceforward. Everything
she knows save one thing only, and if this writing should yet come to
her hand that also she will then learn.

God's holy grace be with her! I have not seen her. The Deemster I have
seen, the Bishop I have spoken with, and a living vision of our Ewan,
his sweet child-daughter, have I held to my knee. But not once these
many days has she who is dearest of all to me passed before my eyes. It
is better so. I shunned her. Where she was, there I would not go. Yet,
through all these heavy years I have borne her upon my heart. Day and
night she has been with me. Oh, Mona, Mona, my Mona, apart forever are
our paths in this dim world, and my tarnished name is your reproach. My
love, my lost love, as a man I yearned for you to hold you to my breast.
But I was dead to you, and I would not break in with an earthly love
that must be brief and might not be blessed on a memory that death has
purified of its stains. Adieu, adieu, my love, my own Mona; though we
are never to clasp hands again, yet do I know that you will be with me
as an unseen presence when the hour comes--ah! how soon--of death's
asundering.

For the power of life is low in me. I have taken the sickness. It is
from the Deemster that I have taken it. No longer do I fear death. Yet I
hesitate to do with myself what I have long thought that I would do when
the end should come. "To-morrow," and "to-morrow," and "to-morrow," I
say in my heart, and still I am here.



CHAPTER XLIV

THE SWEATING SICKNESS


I

When the sweating sickness first appeared in the island it carried off
the lone body known as Auntie Nan, who had lived on the Curragh. "Death
never came without an excuse--the woman was old," the people said, and
went their way. But presently a bright young girl who had taken herbs
and broths and odd comforts to Auntie Nan while she lay helpless was
stricken down. Then the people began to hold their heads together. Four
days after the girl was laid to rest her mother died suddenly, and two
or three days after the mother's death the father was smitten. Then
three other children died in quick succession, and in less than three
weeks not a soul of that household was left alive. This was on the
southwest of the Curragh, and on the north of it, near to the church of
Andreas, a similar outbreak occurred about the same time. Two old people
named Creer were the first to be taken; and a child at Cregan's farm and
a servant at the rectory of the Archdeacon followed quickly.

The truth had now dawned upon the people, and they went about with white
faces. It was the time of the hay harvest, and during the two hours'
rest for the midday meal the haymakers gathered together in the fields
for prayer. At night, when work was done, they met again in the streets
of the villages to call on God to avert his threatened judgment. On
Sundays they thronged the churches at morning and afternoon services,
and in the evening they congregated on the shore to hear the Quaker
preachers, who went about, under the shadow of the terror, without
hindrance or prosecution. One such preacher, a town-watch at Castletown,
known as Billy-by-Nite, threw up his calling, and traveled the country
in the cart of a carrier, prophesying a visitation of God's wrath,
wherein the houses should be laid waste and the land be left utterly
desolate.

The sickness spread rapidly, and passed from the Curraghs to the country
south and east of them. Not by ones but tens were the dead now counted
day after day, and the terror spread yet faster than the malady. The
herring season had run a month only, and it was brought to a swift
close. Men who came in from the boats after no more than a night's
absence were afraid to go up to their homes lest the sickness had gone
up before them. Then they went out to sea no longer, but rambled for
herbs in the rank places where herbs grew, and, finding them, good and
bad, fit and unfit, they boiled and ate them.

Still the sickness spread, and the dead were now counted in hundreds. Of
doctors there were but two in the island, and these two were closely
engaged sitting by the bedsides of the richer folk, feeling the pulse
with one hand and holding the watch with the other. Better service they
did not do, for rich and poor alike fell before the sickness.

The people turned to the clergy, and got "beautiful texes," but no cure.
They went to the old Bishop, and prayed for the same help that he had
given them in the old days of their great need. He tried to save them
and failed. A preparation of laudanum, which had served him in good
stead for the flux, produced no effect on the sweating sickness. With
other and other medicines he tried and tried again. His old head was
held very low. "My poor people," he said, with a look of shame, "I fear
that by reason of the sins of me and mine the Spirit of the Lord is gone
from me."

Then the people set up a cry as bitter as that which was wrung from them
long before when they were in the grip of their hunger. "The Sweat is on
us," they groaned; and the old Bishop, that he might not hear their
voice of reproach, shut himself up from them like a servant whom the
Lord had forsaken.

Then terror spread like a fire, but terror in some minds begets a kind
of courage, and soon there were those who would no longer join the
prayer-meetings in the hay-fields or listen to the preaching on the
shore. One of these was a woman of middle life, an idle slattern, who
had for six or seven years lived a wandering life. While others prayed
she laughed mockingly and protested that for the Sweat as well as for
every other scare of life there was no better preventive than to think
nothing about it. She carried out her precept by spending her days in
the inns, and her nights on the roads, being supported in her dissolute
existence by secret means, whereof gossip spoke frequently. The
terrified world about her, busy with its loud prayers, took small heed
of her blasphemies until the numbers of the slain had risen from
hundreds to thousands. Then in their frenzy the people were carried away
by superstition, and heard in the woman's laughter the ring of the
devil's own ridicule. Somebody chanced to see her early one morning
drawing water to bathe her hot forehead, and before night of that day
the evil word had passed from mouth to mouth that it was she who had
brought the sweating sickness by poisoning the wells.

Thereupon half a hundred lusty fellows, with fear in their wild eyes,
gathered in the street, and set out to search for the woman. In her
accustomed haunt, the "Three Legs of Man," they found her, and she was
heavy with drink. They hounded her out of the inn into the road, and
there, amid oaths and curses, they tossed her from hand to hand until
her dress was in rags, her face and arms were bleeding, and she was
screaming in the great fright that had sobered her.

It was Tuesday night, and the Deemster, who had been holding court at
Peeltown late that day, was riding home in the darkness, when he heard
this tumult in the road in front of him. Putting spurs to his horse, he
came upon the scene of it. Before he had gathered the meaning of what
was proceeding in the dark road, the woman had broken from her
tormentors and thrown herself before him, crawling on the ground and
gripping his foot in the stirrup.

"Deemster, save me! save me, Deemster!" she cried in her frantic terror.

The men gathered round and told their story. The woman had poisoned the
wells, and the bad water had brought the Sweat. She was a charmer by
common report, and should be driven out of the island.

"What pedler's French is this?" said the Deemster, turning hotly on the
crowd about him. "Men, men, what forgotten age have you stepped out of
that you come to me with such driveling, doddering, blank idiocy?"

But the woman, carried away by her terror, and not grasping the
Deemster's meaning, cried that if he would but save her she would
confess. Yes, she had poisoned the wells. It was true she was a charmer.
She acknowledged to the evil eye. But save her, save her, save her, and
she would tell all.

The Deemster listened with a feverish impatience. "The woman lies," he
said under his breath, and then lifting his voice he asked if any one
had a torch. "Who is the woman?" he asked; "I seem to know her voice."

"D---- her, she's a witch," said one of the men, thrusting his hot face
forward in the darkness over the woman's cowering body. "Ay, and so was
her mother before her," he said again.

"Tell me, woman, what's your name?" said the Deemster, stoutly; but this
question seemed to break down as he asked it.

There was a moment's pause.

"Mally Kerruish," the woman answered him, slobbering at his stirrup in
the dark road before him.

"Let her go," said the Deemster in a thick underbreath. In another
moment he had disengaged his foot from the woman's grasp and was riding
away.

That night Mally Kerruish died miserably of her fright in the little
tool-shed of a cottage by the Cross Vein, where six years before her
mother had dropped to a lingering death alone.

News of her end was taken straightway to Ballamona by one of the many
tongues of evil rumor. With Jarvis Kerruish, who was in lace collar and
silver-buckled shoes, the Deemster had sat down to supper. He rose, left
his meat untouched, and Jarvis supped alone. Late that night he said,
uneasily:

"I intend to send in my resignation to Castletown--burden of my office
as Deemster is too much for my strength."

"Good," said Jarvis; "and if, sir, you should ever think of resigning
the management of your estate also, you know with how much willingness I
would undertake it, solely in order that you might spend your days in
rest and comfort.

"I have often thought of it latterly," said the Deemster. Half an hour
thereafter he spent in an uneasy perambulation of the dining-room while
Jarvis picked his teeth and cleaned his nails.

"I think I must surely be growing old," he said then, and, drawing a
long breath, he took up his bedroom candle.


II

The sickness increased, the deaths were many in the houses about
Ballamona, and in less than a week after the night of Mally Kerruish's
death, Thorkell Mylrea, a Deemster no longer, had made over to Jarvis
Kerruish all absolute interest in his estates. "I shall spend my last
days in the cause of religion," he said. He had paid up his tithe in
pound-notes--five years' tithe in arrears, with interest added at the
rate of six per cent. Blankets he had ordered for the poor of his own
parish, a double blanket for each family, with cloaks for some of the
old women.

This done, he relinquished his worldly possessions, and shut himself
from the sickness in a back room of Ballamona, admitting none, and never
stirring abroad except to go to church.

The Bishop had newly opened the chapel at Bishop's Court for daily
prayers, and of all constant worshipers there Thorkell was now the most
constant. Every morning his little shriveled figure knelt at the form
before the Communion, and from his blanched lips the prayers were
mumbled audibly. Much he sought the Bishop's society, and in every
foolish trifle he tried to imitate his brother. A new canon of the
Church had lately ordered that every Bishop should wear an episcopal
wig, and over his flowing white hair the Bishop of Man had perforce to
put the grotesque head-covering. Seeing this, Thorkell sent to England
for a periwig, and perched the powdered curls on his own bald crown.

The sickness was at its worst, the terror was at its height, and men
were flying from their sick families to caves in the mountains, when one
day the Bishop announced in church that across in Ireland, as he had
heard, there was a good man who had been blessed under God with
miraculous powers of curing this awful malady.

"Send for him! send for him!" the people shouted with one voice, little
heeding the place they sat in.

"But," said the Bishop, with a failing voice, "the good man is a Roman
Catholic--indeed, a Romish priest."

At that word a groan came from the people, for they were Protestants of
Protestants.

"Let us not think that no good can come out of Nazareth," the Bishop
continued. "And who shall say, though we love the Papacy not at all, but
that holy men adhere to it?"

There was a murmur of disapproval.

"My good people," the Bishop went on, falteringly, "we are in God's
hands, and his anger burns among us."

The people broke up abruptly, and talking of what the Bishop had said,
they shook their heads. But their terror continued, and before its awful
power their qualms of faith went down as before a flood. Then they
cried, "Send for the priest!" and the Bishop sent for him.

Seven weary days passed, and at length with a brightening countenance
the Bishop announced that the priest had answered that he would come.
Other three days went by, and the news passed from north to south that
in the brig "Bridget of Cork," bound for Whitehaven, with liberty to
call at Peeltown, the Romish priest, Father Dalby, had sailed for the
Isle of Man.

Then day after day the men went up to the hilltops to catch sight of the
sail of an Irish brig. At last they sighted one from the Mull Hills, and
she was five leagues south of the Calf. But the wind was high, and the
brig labored hard in a heavy sea. Four hours the people watched her, and
saw her bearing down into the most dangerous currents about their coast.
Night closed in, and the wind rose to the strength of a gale. Next
morning at early dawn the people climbed the headlands again, but no
brig could they now see, and none had yet made their ports.

"She must be gone down," they told themselves, and so saying they went
home with heavy hearts.

But two days afterward there went through the island a thrilling cry,
"He is here!--he has come!--the priest!" And at that word a wave of rosy
health swept over a thousand haggard faces.


III

In the dark sleeping-room of a little ivy-covered cottage that stood
end-on to the highroad through Michael a blind woman lay dying of the
sickness. It was old Kerry; and on a three-legged stool before her bed
her husband Hommy sat. Pitiful enough was Hommy's poor ugly face. His
thick lubber lips were drawn heavily downward, and under his besom brows
his little eyes were red and his eyelids swollen. In his hands he held a
shovel, and he was using it as a fan to puff air into Kerry's face.

"It's all as one, man," the sick woman moaned. "Ye're only keeping the
breath in me. I'm bound to lave ye."

And thereupon Hommy groaned lustily and redoubled his efforts with the
shovel. There was a knock at the door, and a lady entered. It was Mona,
pale of face, but very beautiful in her pallor, and with an air of
restful sadness.

"And how are you now, dear Kerry?" she asked, leaning over the bed.

"Middling badly, mam," Kerry answered feebly. "I'll be took, sarten
sure, as the saying is."

"Don't lose heart, Kerry. Have you not heard that the priest is coming?"

"Chut, mam! I'll be gone, plaze God, where none of the like will follow
me."

"Hush, Kerry! He was in Patrick yesterday; he will be in German
to-morrow, and the next day he will be here in Michael. He is a good
man, and is doing wonders with the sick."

Kerry turned face to the wall, and Hommy talked with Mona. What was to
become of him when Kerry was gone? Who would be left to give him a bit
of a tidy funeral? The Dempster? Bad cess to the like of him. What could
be expected from a master who had turned his own daughter out of doors?

"I am better where I am," Mona whispered, and that was her sole answer
to the deaf man's too audible questions. And Hommy, after a pause,
assented to the statement with his familiar comment, "The Bishop's a
rael ould archangel, so he is."

Thereupon Kerry turned her gaze from the wall and said, "Didn't I tell
ye, mam, that he wasn't dead?"

"Who?"

"Why--him--him that we mayn't name--_him_."

"Hush, dear Kerry, he died long ago."

"I tell ye, mam, he's a living man, and coming back--I know it--he's
coming back immadient--I saw him."

"Drop it, woman, it's drames," said Hommy.

"I saw him last night as plain as plain--wearing a long gray sack and
curranes on his feet, and a queer sort of hat."

"It must have been the priest that you saw in your dream, dear Kerry."

The sick woman raised herself on one elbow, and answered eagerly, "I
tell you no, mam, but him--_him_."

"Lie still, Kerry; you will be worse if you uncover yourself to the cool
air."

There was a moment's quiet, and then the blind woman said finally, "I'm
going where I'll have my eyes same as another body."

At that Hommy's rugged face broadened to a look of gruesome sorrow, and
he renewed his exertions with the shovel.


IV

At seven o'clock that day the darkness had closed in. A bright turf fire
burned in a room in Bishop's Court, and the Bishop sat before it with
his slippered feet on a sheepskin rug. His face was mellower than of
old, and showed less of strength and more of sadness. Mona stood at a
tea-table by his side, cutting slices of bread and butter.

A white face, with eyes of fear, looked in at the dark window. It was
Davy Fayle. He was but little older to look upon for the seven years
that had gone heavily over his troubled head. His simple look was as
vacant and his lagging lip hung as low; but his sluggish intellect had
that night become suddenly charged with a ready man's swiftness.

Mona went to the door. "Come in," she said; but Davy would not come. He
must speak with her outside, and she went out to him.

He was trembling visibly.

"What is it?" she said.

"Mistress Mona," said Davy, in a voice of great emotion, "it's as true
as the living God."

"What?" she said.

"He's alive--ould Kerry said true--he's alive, and coming back."

Mona glanced into his face by the dull light that came through the
window. His eyes, usually dull and vacant, were aflame with a strange
fire. She laid one hand on the door-jamb, and said, catching her breath,
"Davy, remember what the men said long ago--that they saw him lying in
the snow."

"He's alive, I'm telling you--I've seen him with my own eyes."

"Where?"

"I went down to Patrick this morning to meet the priest coming up--but
it's no priest at all--it's--it's--it's _him_."

Again Mona drew her breath audibly.

"Think what you are saying, Davy. If it should not be true! Oh, if you
should be mistaken!"

"It's Bible truth, Mistress Mona--I'll go bail on it afore God
A'mighty."

"The priest, you say?"

"Aw, lave it to me to know Mastha--I mean--_him_"

"I must go in, Davy. Good-night to you, and thank you--Good-night,
and--" the plaintive tenderness of her voice broke down to a sob. "Oh,
what can it all mean?" she exclaimed more vehemently.

Davy turned away. The low moan of the sea came up through the dark
night.


V

It happened that after service the next morning the Bishop and Thorkell
walked out of the chapel side by side.

"We are old men now, Gilcrist," said Thorkell, "and should be good
friends together."

"That is so," the Bishop answered.

"We've both lost a son, and can feel for each other."

The Bishop made no reply.

"We're childless men, in fact."

"There's Mona, God bless her!" the Bishop said, very softly.

"True, true," said Thorkell, and there was silence for a moment.

"It was partly her fault when she left me--partly, I say;--don't you
think so, Gilcrist?" said Thorkell, nervously.

"She's a dear, sweet soul," the Bishop said.

"It's true."

They stepped on a few paces, and passed by the spot whereon the two
fishermen laid down their dread burden from the Mooragh seven years
before. Then Thorkell spoke again and in a feverish voice.

"D'ye know, Gilcrist, I sometimes awake in the night crying 'Ewan!
Ewan!'"

The Bishop did not answer, and Thorkell, in another tone, asked when the
Irish priest was to reach Michael.

"He may be here to-morrow," the Bishop said.

Thorkell shuddered.

"It must be that God is revenging himself upon us with this fearful
scourge."

"It dishonors God to say so," the Bishop replied. "He is calling upon us
to repent."

There was another pause, and then Thorkell asked what a man should do to
set things right in this world if perchance he had taken a little more
in usury than was fair and honest.

"Give back whatever was more than justice," said the Bishop promptly.

"But that is often impossible, Gilcrist."

"If he has robbed the widow, and she is dead, let him repay the
fatherless."

"It is impossible--I tell you, Gilcrist, it is impossible--impossible."

As they were entering the house Thorkell asked if there was truth in the
rumor that the wells had been charmed.

"To believe such stories is to be drawn off from a trust in God and a
dependence on his good providence," said the Bishop.

"But I must say, brother, that strange things are known to happen. Now I
myself have witnessed extraordinary fulfilments."

"Superstition is a forsaking of God, whom we have most need to fly to in
trouble and distress," the Bishop answered.

"True--very true--I loathe it; but still it's a sort of religion, isn't
it, Gilcrist?"

"So the wise man says--as the ape is a sort of a man."


VI

Three days later the word went round that he who had been looked for was
come to Michael, and many went out to meet him. He was a stalwart man,
straight and tall, bony and muscular. His dress was poverty's own
livery: a gray shapeless sack-coat, reaching below his knees, curranes
on his feet of untanned skin with open clocks, and a cap of cloth, half
helmet and half hood, drawn closely down over his head. His cheeks were
shaven and deeply bronzed. The expression of his face was of a strange
commingling of strength and tenderness. His gestures were few, slow, and
gentle. His measured step was a rhythmic stride--the stride of a man who
has learned in the long endurance of solitude to walk alone in the ways
of the world. He spoke little, and scarcely answered the questions which
were put to him. "Aw, but I seem to have seen the good man in my
drames," said one; and some said "Ay" to that, and some laughed at it.

Within six hours of his coming he had set the whole parish to work. Half
of the men he sent up into the mountains to cut gorse and drag it down
to the Curraghs in piles of ten feet high, tied about with long sheep
lankets of twisted straw. The other half he set to dig trenches in the
marshy places. He made the women to kindle a turf fire in every room
with a chimney-flue, and when night came he had great fires of gorse,
peat, withered vegetation, and dried sea-wrack built on the open spaces
about the houses in which the sickness had broken out. He seemed neither
to rest nor eat. From sick house to sick house, from trench to trench,
and fire to fire, he moved on with his strong step. And behind him, at
all times, having never a word from him and never a look, but trudging
along at his heels like a dog, was the man-lad, Davy Fayle.

Many of the affrighted people who had taken refuge in the mountains
returned to their homes at his coming, but others, husbands and fathers
chiefly, remained on the hills, leaving their wives and families to fend
for themselves. Seeing this, he went up and found some of them in their
hiding-places, and shaming them out of their cowardice, brought them
back behind him, more docile than sheep behind a shepherd. When the
ex-town-watch, Billy-by-Nite, next appeared on the Curraghs in the round
of his prophetic itineration, the strange man said not a word, but he
cut short the vehement jeremiad by taking the Quaker prophet by legs and
neck, and throwing him headlong into one of the drain-troughs newly dug
in the dampest places.

But the strength of this silent man was no more conspicuous than his
tenderness. When in the frenzy of their fever the sufferers would cast
off their clothes, and try to rise from their beds and rush into the
cooler air from the heat by which he had surrounded them, his big horny
hands would restrain them with a great gentleness.

Before he had been five days in Michael and on the Curraghs the sickness
began to abate. The deaths were fewer, and some of the sick rose from
their beds. Then the people plied him with many questions, and would
have overwhelmed him with their rude gratitude. To their questions he
gave few answers, and when they thanked him he turned and left them.

They said that their Bishop, who was grown feeble, the good ould angel,
thought it strange that he had not yet visited him. To this he answered
briefly that before leaving the parish he would go to Bishop's Court.

They told him that Mistress Mona, daughter of the Deemster that was, bad
cess to him, had been seeking him high and low. At this his lip
trembled, and he bent his head.

"The good man's face plagues me mortal," said old Billy-the-Gawk.
"Whiles I know it, and other whiles I don't."


VII

Only another day did the stranger remain in Michael, but the brief times
was full of strange events. The night closed in before seven o'clock. It
was then very dark across the mountains, and the sea lay black beyond
the cliffs, but the Curraghs were dotted over with the many fires which
had been kindled about the infected houses.

Within one of these houses, the home of Jabez Gawne, the stranger stood
beside the bed of a sick woman, the tailor's wife. Behind him there were
anxious faces. Davy Fayle, always near him, leaned against the door-jamb
by the porch.

And while the stranger wrapped the sweltering sufferer in hot blankets,
other sufferers sent to him to pray of him to come to them. First there
came an old man to tell of his grandchild, who had been smitten down
that day, and she was the last of his kin whom the Sweat had left alive.
Then a woman, to say that her husband, who had started again with the
boats but yesterday, had been brought home to her that night with the
sickness. He listened to all who came, and answered quietly, "I will
go."

At length a young man ran in and said, "The Dempster's down. He's
shouting for you, sir. He sent me hot-foot to fetch you."

The stranger listened as before, and seemed to think rapidly for a
moment, for his under lip trembled, and was drawn painfully inward. Then
he answered as briefly as ever, and with as calm a voice, "I will go."

The man ran back with his answer, but presently returned, saying, with
panting breath, "He's rambling, sir; raving mad, sir; and shouting that
he must be coming after you if you're not for coming to him."

"We will go together," the stranger said, and they went out immediately.
Davy Fayle followed them at a few paces.


VIII

Through the darkness of that night a woman, young and beautiful, in
cloak and hood like a nun's, walked from house to house of the Curraghs,
where the fires showed that the sickness was still raging. It was Mona.
These three days past she had gone hither and thither, partly to tend
the sick people, partly in hope of meeting the strange man who had come
to cure them. Again and again she had missed him, being sometimes only a
few minutes before or after him.

Still she passed on from house to house, looking for him as she went in
at every fresh door, yet half dreading the chance that might bring them
face to face.

She entered the house where he had received her father's message almost
on the instant when he left it. The three men had gone by her in the
darkness.

Jabez, the tailor, who sat whimpering in the ingle, told her that the
priest had that moment gone off to Ballamona, where the Dempster that
was--hadn't she heard the newses?--was new down with the Sweat.

Her delicate face whitened at that, and after a pause she turned to
follow. But going back to the hearth, she asked if the stranger had been
told that the Bishop wanted to see him. Jabez told her yes, and that he
had said he would go up to Bishop's Court before leaving the parish.

Then another question trembled on her tongue, but she could not utter
it. At last she asked what manner of man the stranger was to look upon.

"Aw, big and sthraight and tall," said Jabez.

And Billy-the-Gawk, who sat at the opposite side of the ingle, being kin
to Jabez's sick wife, said, "Ay, and quiet like, and solemn
extraordinary."

"A wonderful man, wonderful, wonderful," said Jabez, still whimpering.
"And wherever he comes the Sweat goes down before him with a flood."

"As I say," said Billy-the-Gawk, "the good man's face plagues me mortal.
I can't bethink me where I've seen the like of it afore."

Mona's lips quivered at that word, and she seemed to be about to speak;
but she said nothing.

"And the strong he is!" said Jabez: "I never knew but one man in the
island with half the strength of arm as him."

Mona's pale face twitched visibly, and she listened as with every
faculty.

"Who d'ye mane?" asked Billy-the-Gawk.

At that question there was a moment's silence between the men. Then each
drew a long breath, dislodged a heavy burden from his throat, glanced
significantly up at Mona, and looked into the other's face.

"_Him_," said Jabez, in a faint underbreath, speaking behind his hand.

"_Him?_"

Billy-the-Gawk straightened his crooked back, opened wide his rheumy
eyes, pursed up his wizened cheeks, and emitted a low, long whistle.

"Lord A'mighty!"

For an instant Jabez looked steadily into the old mendicant's face, and
then drew himself up in his seat--

"Lord a-massy!"

Mona's heart leaped to her mouth. She was almost beside herself with
suspense, and felt an impulse to scream.


IX

Within a week after old Thorkell had conversed with the Bishop about the
rumor that the wells had been charmed, his terror of the sickness had
grown nigh to madness. He went to church no longer, but shut himself up
in his house. Night and day his restless footstep could be heard to pass
from room to room, and floor to floor. He ate little, and such was his
dread of the water from his well that for three days together he drank
nothing. At length, burning from thirst, he went up the Dhoon Glen and
drank at a pool, going down on hands and knees to lap the water like a
dog. Always he seemed to be mumbling prayers, and when the bell of the
church rang, no matter for what occasion, he dropped to his knees and
prayed audibly. He forbade the servants of the house to bring him news
of deaths, but waited and watched and listened at open doors for their
conversation among themselves. At night he went to the front windows to
look at the fires that were kindled about the infected houses on the
Curraghs. He never failed to turn from that sight with bitter words.
Such work was but the devil's play; it was making a mock of God, who had
sent the sickness to revenge Himself on the island's guilty people.
Thorkell told Jarvis Kerruish as much time after time. Jarvis answered
contemptuously, and Thorkell retorted angrily. At length they got to
high words, and Jarvis flung away.

One morning Thorkell called for Hommy-beg. They told him that Hommy had
been nursing his wife. The blind woman was now dead, and Hommy was
burying her. At this Thorkell's terror was appalling to look upon. All
night long he had been telling himself that he despised the belief in
second sight, but that he would see if Kerry pretended to know whether
he himself was to outlive the scourge. No matter, the woman was dead. So
much the better!

Later the same day, Thorkell remembered that somewhere on the mountains
there lived an old farmer who was a seer and bard. He would go to see
the old charlatan. Yes, he would amuse himself with the superstition
that aped religion. Thorkell set out, and found the bard's lonely house
far up above the Sherragh Vane. In a corner of the big fireplace the old
man sat, with a black shawl bound about his head and tied under his
chin. He was past eighty years of age, and his face was as old a face as
Thorkell had ever looked upon. On his knee a young child was sitting,
and two or three small boys were playing about his feet. A brisk
middle-aged woman was stirring the peats and settling the kettle on the
chimney-hook. She was the old man's wife, and the young brood were the
old man's children.

Thorkell began to talk of carvals, and said he had come to hear some of
them. The old bard's eyes brightened. He had written a carol about the
sickness. From the "lath" he took a parchment pan, full of papers that
were worn, thumb-marked, and greasy. From one of these papers he began
to read, and Thorkell tried to listen. The poem was an account of a
dream. The dreamer had dreamt that he had gone into a church. There was
a congregation gathered, and a preacher was in the pulpit. But when the
preacher prayed the dreamer heard nothing of God. At length he
discovered that it was a congregation of the dead in the region of the
damned. They had all died of the Sweat. Every man of them had been
warned by wise men and women in this world. The congregation sang a
joyless psalm, and when their service was done they began to break up.
Then the dreamer recognized some whom he had known in the flesh. Among
them was one who had killed his own son, and he was afflicted with a
burning thirst. To this unhappy man the dreamer offered a basin of
milk-and-water, but the damned soul could not get the basin to his
parched lips, struggle as he might to lift it in his stiff arms.

At first Thorkell listened with the restless mind of a man who had come
on better business, and then with a feverish interest. The sky had
darkened since he entered the house, and while the old bard chanted in
his sing-song voice, and the children made their clatter around his
feet, a storm of heavy rain pelted against the window-pane.

The ballad ended in the grim doggerel of a harrowing appeal to the
sinner to shun his evil courses:

    "O sinner, see your dangerous state,
    And think of hell ere 'tis too late;
    When worldly cares would drown each thought,
    Pray call to mind that hell is hot.
    Still to increase your godly fears
    Let this be sounding in your ears,
    Still bear in mind that hell is hot,
    Remember, and forget it not."

Thus, with a swinging motion of the body, the old bard of the mountains
chanted this rude song on the dangers of damnation. Thorkell leaped up
from the settle and sputtered out an expression of contempt. What
madness was this? If he had his way he would clap all superstitious
people into the Castle.

The next morning, when sitting down to breakfast, Thorkell told Jarvis
Kerruish that he had three nights running dreamt the same dream, and it
was a terrible one. Jarvis laughed in his face, and said he was a
foolish old man. Thorkell answered with heat, and they parted on the
instant, neither touching food. Toward noon Thorkell imagined he felt
feverish, and asked for Jarvis Kerruish; but Jarvis was at his toilet
and would not be disturbed. At five o'clock the same day Thorkell was
sweating from every pore, and crying lustily that he had taken the
sickness. Toward seven he ordered the servant--a young man named Juan
Caine, who had come to fill Hommy's place--to go in search of the Romish
priest, Father Dalby.

When the stranger came, the young man opened the door to him, and
whispered that the old master's wits were gone. "He's not been wise
these two hours," the young man said, and then led the way to Thorkell's
bedroom. He missed the corridor, and the stranger pointed to the proper
door.

Thorkell was sitting up in his bed. His clothes had not been taken off,
but his coat--a blue coat, laced--and also his long yellow vest were
unbuttoned. His wig was perched on the top of a high-backed chair, and
over his bald head hung a torn piece of red flannel. His long hairy
hands, with the prominent blue veins, crawled over the counterpane. His
eyes were open very wide. When he saw the stranger he was for getting
out of bed.

"I am not ill," he said; "it's folly to think that I've taken the
sickness. I sent for you to tell you something that you should know."

Then he called to the young man to bring him water. "Juan, water!" he
cried; "Juan, I say, more water."

He turned to the stranger. "It's true I'm always athirst, but is that
any proof that I have taken the sickness? Juan, be quick--water!"

The young man brought a pewter pot of cold water, and Thorkell clutched
at it, but as he was stretching his neck to drink, his hot lips working
visibly, and his white tongue protruding, he drew suddenly back. "Is it
from the well?" he asked.

The stranger took the pewter out of his hands, unlocking his stiff
fingers with his own great bony ones. "Make the water hot," he said to
the servant.

Thorkell fell back to his pillow, and the rag of red blanket dropped
from his bald crown. Then he lifted himself on one elbow and began again
to talk of the sickness. "You have made a mistake," he said. "It is not
to be cured. It is God's revenge on the people of this sinful island.
Shall I tell you for what offense? For superstition. Superstition is the
ape of religion. It is the reproach of God. Juan! Juan, I say, help me
off with this coat. And these bedclothes also. Why are there so many?
It's true, sir--Father, is it?--it's true, Father, I'm hot, but what of
that? Water! Juan, more water--Glen water, Juan!"

The stranger pushed Thorkell gently back, and covered him closely from
the air.

"As I say, it is superstition, sir," said Thorkell again. "I would have
it put down by law. It is the curse of this island. What are those
twenty-four Keys doing that they don't stamp it out? And the
clergy--what are they wrangling about now, that they don't see to it?
I'll tell you how it is, sir. It is this way. A man does something, and
some old woman sneezes. Straightway he thinks himself accursed, and that
what is predicted must certainly come about. And it does come about.
Why? Because the man himself, with his blundering, doddering fears,
_brings_ it about. He brings it about himself--that's how it is! And
then every old woman in the island sneezes again."

Saying this, Thorkell began to laugh, loudly, frantically, atrociously.
Jarvis Kerruish had entered while he was running on with his tirade. The
stranger did not lift his eyes to Jarvis, but Jarvis looked at him
attentively.

When Thorkell had finished his hideous laugh, he turned to Jarvis and
asked if superstition was not the plague of the island, and if it ought
not to be put down by law. Jarvis curled his lips for answer, but his
form of contempt was lost on old Thorkell's dim eyes.

"Have we not often agreed that it is so?" said Thorkell.

"And that you," said Jarvis, speaking slowly and bitterly, "are the most
superstitious man alive."

"What? what?" Thorkell cried.

The stranger lifted his face, and looked steadily into Jarvis's eyes.
"_You_," he said, calmly, "have some reason to say so."

Jarvis reddened, turned about, stepped to the door, glanced back at the
stranger, and went out of the room.

Thorkell was now moaning on the pillow. "I am all alone," he said; and
he fell to a bout of weeping.

The stranger waited until the hysterical fit was over, and then said,
"Where is your daughter?"

"Ah!" said Thorkell, dropping his red eyes.

"Send for her."

"I will. Juan, go to Bishop's Court. Juan, I say, run fast and fetch
Mistress Mona. Tell her that her father is ill."

As Thorkell gave this order Jarvis Kerruish returned to the room.

"No!" said Jarvis, lifting his hand against the young man.

"No?" cried Thorkell.

"If this is my house, I will be master in it," said Jarvis.

"Master! your house! yours!" Thorkell cried; and then he fell to a
fiercer bout of hysterical curses. "Bastard, I gave you all! But for me
you would be on the roads--ay, the dunghill!"

"This violence will avail you nothing," said Jarvis, with hard
constraint. "Mistress Mona shall not enter this house."

Jarvis placed himself with his back to the door. The stranger stepped up
to him, laid one powerful hand on his arm, and drew him aside. "Go for
Mistress Mona," he said to the young man. "Knock at the door on your
return. I will open it."

The young man obeyed the stranger. Jarvis stood a moment looking blankly
into the stranger's face. Then he went out of the room.

Thorkell was whimpering on the pillow. "It is true," he said, with
laboring breath, "though I hate superstition and loathe it, I was once
its victim--once only. My son Ewan was killed by my brother's son, Dan.
They loved each other like David and Jonathan, but I told Ewan a lie,
and they fought, and Ewan was brought home dead. Yes, I told a lie, but
I believed it then. I made myself believe it. I listened to some old
wife's balderdash, and thought it true. And Dan was cut off--that is to
say, banished, excommunicated; worse, worse. But he's dead now. He was
found dead in the snow." Again Thorkell tried to laugh, a poor
despairing laugh that was half a cry. "Dead! They threatened me that he
would push me from my place. And he is dead before me! So much for
divination! But tell me--you are a priest--tell me if that sin will drag
me down to--to--But then, remember, I believed it was true--yes, I--"

The stranger's face twitched, and his breathing became quick.

"And it was you who led the way to all that followed" he said, in a
subdued voice.

"It was; it was--"

The stranger had suddenly reached over the bed and taken Thorkell by the
shoulders. At the next instant he had relinquished his hard grasp, and
was standing upright as before, and with as calm a face. And Thorkell
went jabbering on:

"These three nights I have dreamt a fearful dream. Shall I tell you what
it was? Shall I? I thought Dan, my brother's son, arose out of his
grave, and came to my bedside, and peered into my face. Then I thought I
shrieked and died; and the first thing I saw in the other world was my
son Ewan, and he peered into my face also, and told me that I was damned
eternally. But, tell me, don't you think it was only a dream? Father!
Father! I say, tell me--"

Thorkell was clambering up by hold of the stranger's coat.

The stranger pushed him gently back.

"Lie still; lie still--you, too, have suffered much," he said. "Lie
quiet--God is merciful."

Just then Jarvis Kerruish entered, in wild excitement. "Now I know who
this man is," he said, pointing to the stranger.

"Father Dalby," said Thorkell.

"Pshaw!--it is DAN MYLREA."

Thorkell lifted himself stiffly on his elbow, and rigidly drew his face
closely up to the stranger's face, and peered into the stranger's eyes.
Then he took a convulsive hold of the stranger's coat, shrieked, and
fell back on to the pillow.

At that moment there was a loud knocking at the door below. The stranger
left the room. In the hall a candle was burning. He put it out. Then he
opened the door. A woman entered. She was alone. She passed him in the
darkness without speaking. He went out of the house and pulled the door
after him.


X

An hour later than this terrible interview, wherein his identity (never
hidden by any sorry masquerade) was suddenly revealed, Daniel Mylrea,
followed closely at his heels by Davy Fayle, walked amid the fires of
the valley to Bishop's Court. He approached the old house by the
sea-front, and went into its grounds by a gate that opened on a footpath
to the library through a clump of elms. Sluggish as was Davy's
intellect, he reflected that this was a path that no stranger could
know.

The sky of the night had lightened, and here and there a star gleamed
through the thinning branches overhead. In a faint breeze the withering
leaves of the dying summer rustled slightly. On the meadow before the
house a silvery haze of night-dew lay in its silence. Sometimes the
croak of a frog came from the glen; and from the sea beyond (though
seemingly from the mountains opposite) there rose into the air the
rumble of the waves on the shore.

Daniel Mylrea passed on with a slow, strong step, but a secret pain
oppressed him. He was walking on the ground that was dear with a
thousand memories of happy childhood. He was going back for some brief
moments that must be painful and joyful, awful and delicious, to the
house which he had looked to see no more. Already he was very near to
those who were very dear to him, and to whom he, too--yes, it must be
so--to whom he, too, in spite of all, must still be dear. "Father,
father," he whispered to himself. "And Mona, my Mona, my love, my love."
Only the idle chatter of the sapless leaves answered to the yearning cry
of his broken spirit.

He had passed out of the shade of the elms into the open green of the
meadow with the stars above it, when another voice came to him. It was
the voice of a child singing. Clear and sweet, and with a burden of
tenderness such as a child's voice rarely carries, it floated through
the quiet air.

Daniel Mylrea passed on until he came by the library window, which was
alight with a rosy glow. There he stood for a moment and looked into the
room. His father, the Bishop, was seated in the oak chair that was
clamped with iron clamps. Older he seemed to be, and with the lines a
thought deeper on his massive brow. On a stool at his feet, with one
elbow resting on the apron in front of him, a little maiden sat, and she
was singing. A fire burned red on the hearth before them. Presently the
Bishop rose from his chair, and went out of the room, walking feebly,
and with drooping head.

Then Daniel Mylrea walked round to the front of the house and knocked.
The door was opened by a servant whose face was strange to him.
Everything that he saw was strange, and yet everything was familiar. The
hall was the same but smaller, and when it echoed to his foot a thrill
passed through him.

He asked for the Bishop, and was led like a stranger through his
father's house to the door of the library. The little maiden was now
alone in the room. She rose from her stool as he entered, and, without
the least reserve, stepped up to him and held out her hand. He took her
tender little palm in his great fingers, and held it for a moment while
he looked into her face. It was a beautiful child-face, soft and fair
and oval, with a faint tinge of olive in the pale cheeks, and with
yellow hair--almost white in the glow of the red fire--falling in thin
tresses over a full, smooth forehead.

He sat and drew her closer to him, still looking steadily into her face.
Then, in a tremulous voice he asked her what her name was, and the
little maiden, who had shown no fear at all, nor any bashfulness,
answered that her name was Aileen.

"But they call me Ailee," she added, promptly; "everybody calls me
Ailee."

"Everybody? Who?"

"Oh, everybody," she answered, with a true child's emphasis.

"Your mother?"

She shook her head.

"Your--your--perhaps--your--"

She shook her head more vigorously.

"I know what you're going to say, but I've got none," she said.

"Got none?" he repeated.

The little maiden's face took suddenly a wondrous solemnity, and she
said, "My father died a long, long, long time ago--when I was only a
little baby."

His lips quivered, and his eyes fell from her face.

"_Such_ a long, long while ago--you wouldn't think. And auntie says I
can't even remember him."

"Auntie?"

"But shall I tell you what Kerry said it was that made him die?--shall
I?--only I must whisper--and you won't tell auntie, will you?--because
auntie doesn't know--shall I tell you?"

His quivering lips whitened, and with trembling hands he drew aside the
little maiden's head that her innocent eyes might not gaze into his
face.

"How old are you, Ailee ven?" he asked, in a brave voice.

"Oh, I'm seven--and auntie, she's seven too; auntie and I are twins."

"And you can sing, can you not? Will you sing for me?"

"What shall I sing?"

"Anything, sweetheart--what you sang a little while since."

"For grandpa?"

"Grandpa?"

"Kerry says no, it's uncle, not grandpa. But that's wrong," with a look
of outraged honor; "and besides, how should Kerry know? It's not _her_
grandpa, is it? Do _you_ know Kerry?" Then the little face saddened all
at once. "Oh, I forgot--_poor_ Kerry."

"Poor Kerry?"

"I used to go and see her. You go up the road, and then on and on and on
until you come to some children, and then on and on and on until you get
to a little boy--and then you're there."

"Won't you sing, sweetheart?"

"I'll sing grandpa's song."

"Grandpa's?"

"Yes, the one he likes."

Then the little maiden's dimpled face smoothened out, and her simple
eyes turned gravely upward as she began to sing:

    "O, Myle Charaine, where got you your gold?
      Lone, lone, you have left me here.
    O, not in the curragh, deep under the mold,
      Lone, lone, and void of cheer."

It was the favorite song of his own boyish days; and while the little
maiden sang it seemed to the crime-stained man who gazed through a dim
haze into her cherub face, that the voice of her dead father had gone
into her voice. He listened while he could, and when the tears welled up
to his eyes, with his horny hands he drew her fair head down to his
heaving breast, and sobbed beneath his breath, "Ailee ven, Ailee ven."

The little maiden stopped in her song to look up in bewilderment at the
bony, wet face that was stooping over her.

At that moment the door of the room opened, and the Bishop entered
noiselessly. A moment he stood on the threshold, with a look of
perplexity. Then he made a few halting steps, and said:

"My eyes are not what they were, sir, and I see there is no light but
the firelight; but I presume you are the good Father Dalby?" Daniel
Mylrea fell to his knees at the Bishop's feet.

"I come from him," he answered.

"Is he not coming himself?"

"He can not come. He charged me with a message to you."

"You are very welcome. My niece will be home presently. Be seated, sir."

Daniel Mylrea did not sit, but continued to stand before his father,
with head held down. After a moment he spoke again.

"Father Dalby," he said, "is dead."

The Bishop sunk to his chair. "When--when--"

"He died the better part of a month ago."

The Bishop rose to his feet.

"He was in this island but yesterday."

"He bade me tell you that he had fulfilled his pledge to you and come to
the island, but died by the visitation of God the same night whereon he
landed here."

The Bishop put one hand to his forehead.

"Sir," he said, "my hearing is also failing me, for, as you see, I am an
old man now, and besides, I have had trouble in my time. Perhaps, sir, I
did not hear you aright?"

Then Daniel Mylrea told in few words the story of the priest's accident
and death, and how the man at whose house he died had made bold to take
the good priest's mission upon himself.

The Bishop listened with visible pain, and for a while said nothing.
Then, speaking in a faltering voice, with breath that came quickly, he
asked who the other man had been. "For the good man has been a blessing
to us," he added, nervously.

To this question there was no reply, and he asked again:

"Who?"

"Myself."

The Bishop lifted with trembling fingers his horn-bridged spectacles to
his eyes.

"Your voice is strangely familiar," he said. "What is your name?"

Again there was no answer.

"Give me your name, sir--that I may pray of God to bless you."

Still there was no answer.

"Let me remember it in my prayers."

Then in a breaking voice Daniel Mylrea replied:

"In your prayers my poor name has never been forgotten."

At that the Bishop tottered a pace backward.

"Light," he said, faintly. "More light."

He touched a bell on the table, and sank quietly into his chair. Daniel
Mylrea fell to his knees at the Bishop's feet.

"Father," he said in a fervent whisper, and put his lips to the Bishop's
hand.

The door was opened, and a servant entered with candles. At the same
moment Daniel Mylrea stepped quickly out of the room.

Then the little maiden leaped from the floor to the Bishop's side.

"Grandpa, grandpa! Oh, what has happened to grandpa?" she cried.

The Bishop's head had dropped into his breast and he had fainted. When
he opened his eyes in consciousness Mona was bathing his forehead and
damping his lips.

"My child," he said, nervously, "one has come back to us from the dead."

And Mona answered him with the thought that was now uppermost in her
mind:

"Dear uncle," she said, "my poor father died half an hour ago."



CHAPTER XLV

"OUR FATHER, WHICH ART IN HEAVEN"


Not many days after the events recorded in the foregoing chapter the
people of Man awoke to the joyful certainty that the sweating sickness
had disappeared. The solid wave of heat had gone; the ground had become
dry and the soil light; and no fetid vapors floated over the Curraghs at
midday. Also the air had grown keener, the nights had sharpened, and in
the morning the fronds of hoar-frost hung on the withering leaves of the
trammon.

Then the poor folk began to arrange their thoughts concerning the
strange things that had happened; to count up their losses by death; to
talk of children that were fatherless, and of old men left alone in the
world, like naked trunks, without bough or branch, flung on the bare
earth by yesterday's storm.

And in that first roll-call after the battle of life and death the
people suddenly became aware that, with the sweating sickness, the man
who had brought the cure for it had also disappeared. He was not on the
Curraghs, he was no longer in Michael, and further east he had not
traveled. None could tell what had become of him. When seen last he was
walking south through German toward Patrick. He was then alone, save for
the half-daft lad, Davy Fayle, who slouched at his heels like a dog. As
he passed up Creg Willey's Hill the people of St. John's followed him in
ones and twos and threes to offer him their simple thanks. But he pushed
along as one who hardly heard them. When he came by the Tynwald he
paused and turned partly toward Greeba, as though half minded to alter
his course. But, hesitating no longer, he followed the straight path
toward the village at the foot of Slieu Whallin. As he crossed the green
the people of St. John's, who followed him up the hill road, had grown
to a great number, being joined there by the people of Tynwald. And when
he passed under the ancient mount, walking with long, rapid steps, his
chin on his breast and his eyes kept steadfastly down, the gray-headed
men uncovered their heads, the young women thrust their young children
under his hands for his blessing, and all by one impulse shouted in one
voice, "God bless the priest!" "Heaven save the priest!"

There were spectators of that scene who were wont to say, when this
sequel had freshened their memories, that amid the wild tumult of the
gratitude of the island's poor people he who was the subject of it made
one quick glance of pain upward to the mount, now standing empty above
the green, and then, parting the crowds that encircled him, pushed
through them without word or glance or sign. Seeing at last that he
shrunk from their thanks, the people followed him no further, but
remained on the green, watching him as he passed on toward Slieu
Whallin, and then up by the mountain track. When he had reached the top
of the path, where it begins its descent to the valley beyond, he paused
again and turned about, glancing back. The people below saw his full
figure clearly outlined against the sky, and once more they sent up
their shout by one great impulse in one great voice that drowned the
distant rumble of the sea: "God bless the priest!" "Heaven save the
priest!" And he heard it, for instantly he faced about and disappeared.

When he was gone it seemed as if a spell had broken. The people looked
into one another's faces in bewilderment, as if vaguely conscious that
somewhere and some time, under conditions the same yet different, all
that they had then seen their eyes had seen before. And bit by bit the
memory came back to them, linked with a name that might not be spoken.
Then many things that had seemed strange became plain.

In a few days the whisper passed over Man, from north to south, from
east to west, from the sod cabins on the Curragh to the Castle at
Castletown, that he who had cured the people of the sickness, he who had
been mistaken for the priest out of Ireland, was none other than the
unblessed man long thought to be dead; and that he had lived to be the
savior of his people.

The great news was brought to Bishop's Court, and it was found to be
there already. Rumor said that from Castletown an inquiry had come
asking if the news were true, but none could tell what answer Bishop's
Court had made. The Bishop had shut himself up from all visits, even
those of his clergy. With Mona and the child, Ewan's little daughter, he
had passed the days since Thorkell's death, and not until the day of
Thorkell's funeral did he break in upon his solitude. Then he went down
to the little churchyard that stands over by the sea.

They buried the ex-Deemster near to his son Ewan, and with scarcely a
foot's space between them. Except Jarvis Kerruish, the Bishop was
Thorkell's sole mourner, and hardly had the service ended, or the second
shovel of earth fallen from old Will-as-Thorn's spade, when Jarvis
whipped about and walked away. Then the Bishop stood alone by his
brother's unhonored grave, trying to forget his malice and uncharity,
and his senseless superstitions that had led to many disasters, thinking
only with the pity that is nigh to love of the great ruin whereunto his
poor beliefs had tottered down. And when the Bishop had returned home
the roll-call of near kindred showed him pitiful gaps. "The island grows
very lonesome, Mona," he said.

That night Davy Fayle came to Bishop's Court with a book in his hand. He
told Mona how he had found the "Ben-my-Chree" a complete wreck on the
shingle of the Dhoon Creek in the Calf Sound, and the book in its
locker. Not a syllable could Davy read, but he knew that the book was
the fishing-log of the lugger, and that since he saw it last it had been
filled with writings.

Mona took the book into the library, and with the Bishop she examined
it. It was a small quarto, bound in sheepskin, with corners and back of
untanned leather. Longways on the back the words "Ben-my-Chree
Fishing-Log" were lettered, as with a soft quill in a bold hand. On the
front page there was this inscription:


               Ben-my-Chree.
    Owner, Daniel Mylrea, Bishop's Court,
               Isle of Man.
          Master, Illiam Quilleash.

Over page was the word "ACCOUNTS," and then followed the various items
of the earnings and expenditure of the boat. The handwriting was strong
and free, but the bookkeeping was not lucid.

Eight pages of faintly-tinted paper, much frayed, and with lines ruled
by hand one way of the sheet only, were filled with the accounts of the
herring season of 1705. At the bottom there was an attempt at picking
out the items of profit and loss, and at reckoning the shares of owner,
master, and man. The balance stood but too sadly on the wrong side.
There was a deficit of forty pounds four shillings and sixpence.

The Bishop glanced at the entries, and passed them over with a sigh. But
turning the leaves, he came upon other matter of more pathetic interest.
This was a long personal narrative from the owner's pen, covering some
two hundred of the pages. The Bishop looked it through, hurriedly,
nervously, and with eager eyes. Then he gave up the book to Mona.

"Read it aloud, child," he said, in a voice unlike his own, and with a
brave show of composure he settled himself to listen.

For two hours thereafter Mona read from the narrative that was written
in the book. What that narrative was does not need to be told.

Often the voice of the reader failed her, sometimes it could not support
itself. And in the lapses of her voice the silence was broken by her low
sobs.

The Bishop listened long with a great outer calmness, for the affections
of the father were struggling with a sense of the duty of the servant of
God. At some points of the narrative these seemed so to conflict as to
tear his old heart wofully. But he bore up very bravely, and tried to
think that in what he had done seven years before he had done well. At
an early stage of Mona's reading he stopped her to say:

"Men have been cast on desert islands beforetime, and too often they
have been adrift on unknown seas."

Again he stopped her to add, with a slow shake of the head:

"Men have been outlawed, and dragged out weary years in exile--men have
been oftentimes under the ban and chain of the law."

And once again he interrupted and said, in a trembling undertone, "It is
true--it has been what I looked for--it has been a death in life."

But as Mona went on to read of how the outcast man, kept back from
speech with every living soul, struggled to preserve the spiritual part
of him, the Bishop interrupted once more, and said, in a faltering
voice:

"This existence has been quite alone in its desolation."

As Mona went on again to read of how the unblessed creature said his
prayer in his solitude, not hoping that God would hear, but thinking
himself a man outside God's grace, though God's hand was upon
him--thinking himself a man doomed to everlasting death, though the
blessing of Heaven had already fallen over him like morning dew--then
all that remained of spiritual pride in the heart of the Bishop was
borne down by the love of the father, and his old head fell into his
breast, and the hot tears rained down his wrinkled cheeks.

Later the same night Mona sent for Davy Fayle. The lad was easily found;
he had been waiting in the darkness outside the house, struggling hard
with a desire to go in and tell Mistress Mona where Daniel Mylrea was to
be found.

"Davy," she said, "do you know where he is?"

"Sure," said Davy.

"And you could lead me to him?"

"I could."

"Then come here very early in the morning, and we will go together."

Next day when Mona, attired for her journey, went down for a hasty
breakfast, she found the Bishop fumbling a letter in his trembling
fingers.

"Read this, child," he said in a thick voice, and he handed the letter
to her.

She turned it over nervously. The superscription ran, "These to the Lord
Bishop of Man, at his Palace of Bishop's Court," and the seal on the
other face was that of the insular Government.

While the Bishop made pretense of wiping with his handkerchief the
horn-bridged spectacles on his nose Mona opened and read the letter.

It was from the Governor at Castletown, and said that the Lord of Man
and the Isles, in recognition of the great services done by Daniel
Mylrea to the people of the island during their recent affliction, would
be anxious to appoint him Deemster of Man, in succession to his late
uncle, Thorkell Mylrea (being satisfied that he was otherwise qualified
for the post), if the Steward of the Ecclesiastical Courts were willing
to remove the censure of the Church under which he now labored.

When she had finished reading, Mona cast one glance of nervous
supplication upward to the Bishop's face, and then with a quick cry of
joy, which was partly pain, she flung her arms about his neck.

The old Bishop was quite broken down.

"Man's judgments on man," he said, "are but as the anger of little
children--here to-day, gone to-morrow, and the Father's face is over
all."

       *       *       *       *       *

What need to tell of one of the incidents of Mona's journey, or of the
brave hopes that buoyed her up on the long and toilsome way? Many a time
during these seven years past she had remembered that it was she who had
persuaded Dan to offer his life as an atonement for his sin. And often
the thought came back to her with the swiftness of remorse that it was
she who, in her blindness, had sent him to a doom that was worse than
death. But Heaven's ways had not been her ways, and all was well. The
atonement had been made, and the sin had been wiped out of the book of
life. Dan, her love, her beloved, had worked out his redemption. He had
proved himself the great man she had always known he must be. He was to
come back loaded with honor and gratitude, and surrounded by multitudes
of friends.

More than once, when the journey was heaviest, she put her hand to her
bosom and touched the paper that nestled so warmly there. Then in her
mind's eye she saw Dan in the seat of the Deemster, the righteous judge
of his own people. Oh, yes, he would be the Deemster, but he would be
Dan still, her Dan, the lively, cheerful, joyous, perhaps even
frolicsome Dan, once more. He would sport with her like Ailee; he would
play with her as he used to play long ago with another little girl that
she herself could remember--tickling her under her armpits, and under
her chin, and in twenty different cozy nests of her pretty body, where
whole broods of birdies sent up a chorus of squealing song-laughter.

The burden of Mona's long years of weary sorrow had been so suddenly
lifted away that she could not restrain her thoughts from childish
sportiveness. But sometimes she remembered Ewan, and then her heart
saddened, and sometimes she thought of herself, and then it flushed full
of quick, hot blood. And, oh, how delicious was the secret thing that
sometimes stole up between her visions of Dan and the high destiny that
was before him. It was a vision of herself, transfigured by his noble
love, resting upon and looking up to him, and thus passing on and on and
on to the end.

Once she remembered, with a chill passing through her, that in the
writing which she had read Dan had said he was ill? But what of that?
She was going to him, and would nurse him back to health.

And Davy Fayle, walking at her side, was full of his own big notions,
too. Mastha Dan would be Dempster, true; but he'd have a boat for his
pleasure, sarten sure. Davy Fayle would sail man in her, perhaps mate,
and maybe skipper some day--who knows? And then--lying aft and drifting
at the herrings, and smokin', and the stars out, and the moon makin' a
peep--aw, well, well, well!

They reached the end of their journey at last. It was in a small
gorse-covered house far over the wild moor, on the edge of the Chasms,
looking straight out on the hungry sea. In its one bare room (which was
without fire, and was cheerless with little light) there was a table, a
settle, a chair, a stool, and a sort of truckle-bed. Dan was there, the
same, yet, oh, how different! He lay on the bed unconscious, near to
death of the sickness--the last that the scourge was to slay.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of this story of great love and great suffering what is left to tell?

There are moments when life seems like the blind swirl of a bat in the
dusk--blundering, irresponsible, not to be counted with, the swift
creature of evil chance. We see a little child's white face at a
hospital window, a strong man toiling hopelessly against wrong, the
innocent suffering with the guilty, good instincts thwarted and base
purposes promoted, and we ask ourselves, with a thrill of the heart,
What, after all, is God doing in this His world? And from such blind
laboring of chance the tired and beaten generations of men seem to find
it reward enough to drop one after one to the hushed realms of rest.

Shall we marvel very much if such a moment came to this pure and noble
woman as she stood in the death-chamber of her beloved, with whom, after
years of longing, she was at last brought face to face?

But again, there are other moments, higher and better, when there is
such a thing in this so bewildering world as the victory of
vanquishment, when the true man crushed by evil chance is yet the true
man undestroyed by it and destroying it, when Job on his dunghill is
more to be envied than Pharaoh on his throne, and death is as good as
life.

And such a higher moment came to Mona in that death-chamber. She sat
many hours by Dan's side, waiting for the breaking of his delirium and
the brief space of consciousness and of peace which would be the
beginning of the end. It came at long, long length, and, ah, how soon it
came!

The night had come and gone while she sat and watched. When the sunrise
shot red through the skin-covered window it fell on Dan and awakened
him. Opening his eyes, he saw Mona, and his soul smiled over his wasted
face. He could not speak, nor could he lift his worn hands. She knew
that the time was near, and holding back her grief, like wild creatures
held by the leash, she dropped to her knees, and clasped her hands
together to pray. And while she prayed the dying man repeated some of
the words after her. "Our Father--"

"Our--Father--"

"Which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name--"

"Hallowed--be--Thy--name--"

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven; give
us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we
forgive them that trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil--"

"But deliver us from evil--"

"Amen."

"Amen."





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