Volume III, Dark Star, by Fiona Macleod




This story is founded upon a superstition familiar throughout the Hebrides. The legend exists also on the western coasts of Ireland; for Mr. Yeats has told me that one summer he met an old Connaught fisherman who claimed to be of the Sliochd-nan-Rōn, an ancestry, indeed, indicated in the man's name: Rooney.

As to my use of the forename "Gloom," in "Under the Dark Star" series of stories, I should explain that the designation is not a baptismal name. At the same time, I have actual warrant for its use; for I knew a Uist man who in the bitterness of his sorrow, after his wife's death in childbirth, named his son Meelad (i.e. the gloom of sorrow: grief).



When Anne Gillespie, that was my friend in Eilanmore, left the island after the death of her uncle, the old man Robert Achanna, it was to go far west.
Among the men of the Outer Isles who for three summers past had been at the fishing off Eilanmore there was one named Mānus MacCodrum. He was a fine lad to see, but though most of the fisher-folk of the Lews and North Uist are fair, either with reddish hair and grey eyes, or blue-eyed and yellow-haired, he was of a brown skin with dark hair and dusky brown eyes. He was, however, as unlike to the dark Celts of Arran and the Inner Hebrides as to the northmen. He came of his people, sure enough. All the MacCodrums of North Uist had been brown-skinned and brownhaired and brown-eyed: and herein may have lain the reason why, in by-gone days, this small clan of Uist was known throughout the Western Isles as the Sliochd nan Rōn, the offspring of the Seals.
Not so tall as most of the men of North Uist and the Lews, Mānus MacCodrum was of a fair height, and supple and strong. No man was a better fisherman than he, and he was well liked of his fellows, for all the morose gloom that was upon him at times. He had a voice as sweet as a woman's when he sang, and he sang often, and knew all the old runes of the islands, from the Obb of Harris to the Head of Mingulay. Often, too, he chanted the beautiful orain spioradail of the Catholic priests and Christian Brothers of South Uist and Barra, though where he lived in North Uist he was the sole man who adhered to the ancient faith.
It may have been because Anne was a Catholic too, though, sure, the Achannas were so also, notwithstanding that their forebears and kindred in Galloway were Protestant (and this because of old Robert Achanna's love for his wife, who was of the old Faith, so it is said)---it may have been for this reason, though I think her lover's admiring eyes and soft speech and sweet singing had more to do with it, that she pledged her troth to Mānus. It was a south wind for him as the saying is; for with her rippling brown hair and soft, grey eyes and cream-white skin, there was no comelier lass in the isles.
So when Achanna was laid to his long rest, and there was none left upon Eilanmore save only his three youngest sons, Mānus MacCodrum sailed north-eastward across the Minch to take home his bride. Of the four eldest sons, Alasdair had left Eilanmore some months before his father died, and sailed Westward, though no one knew whither or for what end or for how long, and no word had been brought from him nor was he ever seen again in the island which had come to be called Eilan-nan-Allmharachain, the Isle of the Strangers; Allan and William had been drowned in a wild gale in the Minch; and Robert had died of the white fever that deadly wasting disease which is the scourge of the isles. Marcus was now "Eilanmore," and lived there with Gloom and Seumas, all three unmarried, though it was rumoured among the neighbouring islanders that each loved Marsail nic Ailpean,š in Eilean-Roha of the Summer Isles hard by the coast of Sutherland.

šMarsail nic Ailpean is the Gaelic of which an English translation would be Marjory MacAlpine.   Nic is a contraction for nighean mhic, "daughter of the line of."

When Mānus asked Anne to go with him she agreed. The three brothers were illpleased at this, for apart from their not wishing their cousin to go so far away, they did not want to lose her, as she not only cooked for them and did all that a woman does, including spinning and weaving, but was most sweet and fair to see, and in the long winter nights sang by the hour together, while Gloom played strange wild airs upon his feadan, a kind of oaten pipe or flute.
She loved him, I know; but there was this reason also for her going, that she was afraid of Gloom. Often upon the moor or on the hill she turned and hastened home, because she heard the lilt and fall of that feadan. It was an eerie thing to her, to be going through the twilight when she thought the three men were in the house, smoking after their supper, and suddenly to hear beyond and coming toward her the shrill song of that oaten flute, playing "The Dance of the Dead," or "The Flow and Ebb," or "The Shadow-Reel."
That, sometimes at least, he knew she was there was clear to her, because, as she stole rapidly through the tangled fern and gale, she would hear a mocking laugh follow her like a leaping thing.
Mānus was not there on the night when she told Marcus and his brothers that she was going. He was in the haven on board the Luath, with his two mates, he singing in the moonshine as all three sat mending their fishing gear.
After the supper was done, the three brothers sat smoking and talking over an offer that had been made about some Shetland sheep. For a time, Anne watched them in silence. They were not like brothers, she thought. Marcus, tall, broad-shouldered, with yellow hair and strangely dark blue-black eyes and black eyebrows; stern, with a weary look on his sun-brown face. The light from the peats glinted upon the tawny curve of thick hair that trailed from his upper lip for he had the caisean-feusag of the Northmen. Gloom, slighter of build, dark of hue and hair, but with hairless face; with thin, white, long-fingered hands that had ever a nervous motion, as though they were tide-wrack. There was always a frown on the centre of his forehead, even when he smiled with his thin lips and dusky, unbetraying eyes. He looked what he was, the brain of the Achannas. Not only did he have the English as though native to that tongue, but could and did read strange unnecessary books. Moreover, he was the only son of Robert Achanna to whom the old man had imparted his store of learning for Achanna had been a schoolmaster in his youth, in Galloway, and he had intended Gloom for the priesthood. His voice, too, was low and clear, but cold as pale-green water running under ice. As for Seumas, he was more like Marcus than Gloom, though not so fair. He had the same brown hair and shadowy hazel eyes, the same pale and smooth face, with something of the same intent look which characterised the long-time missing, and probably dead, eldest brother, Alasdair. He, too, was tall and gaunt. On Seumas's face there was that indescribable, as to some of course imperceptible, look which is indicated by the phrase "the dusk of the shadow," though few there are who know what they mean by that, or, knowing, are fain to say.
Suddenly, and without any word or reason for it, Gloom turned and spoke to her. " Well, Anne, and what is it?"
"I did not speak, Gloom."
"True for you mo cailinn. But it's about to speak you were."
"Well, and that is true. Marcus, and you Gloom, and you Seumas, I have that to tell which you will not be altogether glad for the hearing. 'Tis about---about---me and---and Mānus."
There was no reply at first. The three brothers sat looking at her like the kye at a stranger on the moorland. There was a deepening of the frown on Gloom's brow, but when Anne looked at him his eyes fell and dwelt in the shadow at his f eet. Then Marcus spoke in a low voice: "Is it Mānus MacCodrum you will be meaning?"
"Ay, sure."
Again silence. Gloom did not lift his eyes, and Seumas was now staring at the peats.
Marcus shifted uneasily.
"And what will Mānus MacCodrum be wanting?"
"Sure, Marcus, you know well what I mean. Why do you make this thing hard for me. There is but one thing he would come here wanting. And he has asked me if I will go with him; and I have said yes; and if you are not willing that he come again with the minister, or that we go across to the kirk in Berneray of Uist in the Sound of Harris, then I will not stay under this roof another night, but will go away from Eilamore at sunrise in the Luath, that is now in the haven. And that is for the hearing and knowing, Marcus and Gloom and Seumas!"
Once more, silence followed her speaking. it was broken in a strange way. Gloom slipped his feadan into his hand and so to his mouth. The clear, cold notes of the flute filled the flame-lit room. It was as though white polar birds were drifting before the coming of snow.
The notes slid in to a wild, remote air: cold moonlight on the dark o' the sea, it was. It was the Dān-nan-Rōn.
Anne flushed, trembled, and then abruptly rose. As she leaned on her clenched right hand upon the table, the light of the peats showed that her eyes were aflame.
"Why do you play that Gloom Achanna?"
The man finished the bar, then blew into the oaten pipe, before, just glancing at the girl, he replied:
"And what harm will there be in that, Anna-ban?"
"You know it is harm. That is the '
"Ay, and what then, Anna-ban?"
"What then? Are you thinking I don't know what you mean by playing the 'Song o' the Seals'?"
With an abrupt gesture Gloom put the feadan aside. As he did so, he rose.
"See here, Anne," he began roughly, when Marcus intervened.
"That will do just now, Gloom. Anne-A-ighraidh, do you mean that you are going to do this thing?"
"Ay, sure."
"Do you know why Gloom played the '
Dān-nan-Rōn'? "
"It was a cruel thing."
"You know what is said in the isles about---about---this or that man, who is under gheasan, who is spell-bound and---and---about the seals---"
"Yes, Marcus, it is knowing it that I am: 'Tha iad a' cantuinn gur h-e daoine fo gheasan a th' anns no roin.'"
"'They say that seals,'"
he repeated slowly, "'They say that seals are men under magic spells.' And have you ever pondered that thing, Anne, my cousin?"
"I am knowing well what you mean."
"Then you will know that the MacCodrums of North Uist are called the Sliochd-nan-Rōn?"
"I have heard."
"And would you be for marrying a man that is of the race of the beasts, and himself knowing what that geas means, and who may any day go back to his people?"
"Ah, now, Marcus, sure it is making a mock of me you are. Neither you nor any here believe that foolish thing. How can a man born of a woman be a seal, even though his sinnsear were the off spring of the sea-people, which is not a saying I am believing either, though it may be; and not that it matters much, whatever, about the far-back forbears."
Marcus frowned darkly, and at first made no response. At last he answered, speaking sullenly:
"You may be believing this or you may be believing that, Anna-nic-Gilleasbuig, but two things are as well known as that the cast wind brings the blight and the west wind the rain. And one is this: that long ago a Seal-man wedded a woman of North Uist, and that he or his son was called Neil MacCodrum; and that the sea-fever of the seal was in the blood of his line ever after. And this is the other: that twice within the memory of living folk, a MacCodrum has taken upon himself the form of a seal, and has so met his death, once Neil MacCodrum of Ru' Tormaid, and once Anndra MacCodrum of Berneray in the Sound. There's talk of others, but these are known of us all. And you will not be forgetting now that Neildonn was the grandfather, and that Anndra was the brother of the father of Mānus MacCodrum?"
"I am not caring what you say, Marcus. It is all foam of the sea."
"There's no foam without wind or tide, Anne, an' it's a dark tide that will be bearing you away to Uist, and a black wind that will be blowing far away behind the East, the wind that will be carrying his death-cry to your ears."
The girl shuddered. The brave spirit in her, however, did not quail.
"Well, so be it. To each his fate. But, seal or no seal, I am going to wed Mānus MacCodrum, who is a man as good as any here, and a true man at that, and the man I love, and that will be my man, God willing, the praise be His!"
Again Gloom took up the feadan, and sent a few cold, white notes floating through the hot room, breaking, suddenly, into the wild, fantastic, opening air of the 'Dān-nan-Rōn.'
With a low cry and passionate gesture Anne sprang forward, snatched the oat-flute from his grasp, and would have thrown it in the fire. Marcus held her in an iron grip however.
"Don't you be minding Gloom, Anne," he said quietly, as he took the feadan from her hand and handed it to his brother: "sure he's only telling you in his way what I am telling you in mine."
She shook herself free, and moved to the other side of the table. On the opposite wall hung the dirk which had belonged to old Achanna. This she unfastened. Holding it in her right hand, she faced the three men.
"On the cross of the dirk I swear I will be the woman of Mānus MacCodrum."
The brothers made no response. They looked at her fixedly.
"And by the cross of the dirk I swear that if any man come between me and Mānus, this dirk will be for his remembering in a certain hour of the day of the days."
As she spoke, she looked meaningly at Gloom, whom she feared more than Marcus or Seumas.
"And by the cross of the dirk I swear that if evil come to Mānus, this dirk will have another sheath, and that will be my milkless breast; and by that token I now throw the old sheath in the fire."
As she finished, she threw the sheath on to the burning peats. Gloom quietly lifted it, brushed off the sparks of flame as though they were dust, and put it in his pocket.
"And by the same token, Anne," he said, "your oaths will come to nought."
Rising, he made a sign to his brothers to follow. When they were outside he told Seumas to return, and to keep Anne within, by peace if possible, by force if not. Briefly they discussed their plans, and then separated. While Seumas went back, Marcus and Gloom made their way to the haven.
Their black figures were visible in the moonlight, but at first they were not noticed by the men on board the Luath, for Mānus was singing.
When the islesman stopped abruptly, one of his companion, asked him jokingly if his song had brought a seal alongside , and bid him beware lest it was a woman of the sea-people.
His face darkened, but he made no reply. When the others listened they heard the wild strain of the "Dān-nan-Rōn" stealing through the moonshine. Staring against the shore, they could discern the two brothers.
"What will be the meaning of that?" asked one of the men, uneasily.
"When a man comes instead of a woman," answered Mānus, slowly, "the young corbies are astir in the nest."
So, it meant blood. Aulay Macneil and Donull MacDonull put down their gear, rose and stood waiting for what Mānus would do.
"Ho, there! " he cried.
"What will you be wanting, Eilanmore?"
"We are wanting a word of you, Mānus MacCodrum. Will you come ashore?"
"If you want a word of me, you can come to me."
"There is no boat here."
"I'll send the bāta-beag."
When he had spoken, Mānus asked Donull, the younger of his mates, a lad of seventeen, to row to the shore.
"And bring back no more than one man," he added, "whether it be Eilanmore himself or Gloom-mhic-Achanna."
The rope of the small boat was unfastened, and Donull rowed it swiftly through the moonshine. The passing of a cloud dusked the shore, but they saw him throw a rope for the guiding of the boat alongside the ledge of the landing-place; then the sudden darkening obscured the vision. Donull must be talking, they thought, for two or three minutes elapsed without sign, but at last the boat put off again, and with two figures only. Doubtless the lad had had to argue against the coming of both Marcus and Gloom.
This, in truth, was what Donull had done. But while he was speaking Marcus was staring fixedly beyond him.
"Who is it that is there?" he asked, " there, in the stern?"
"There is no one there."
"I thought I saw the shadow of a man."
"Then it was my shadow, Eilanmore."
Achanna turned to his brother.
"I see a man's death there in the boat."
Gloom quailed for a moment, then laughed low.
"I see no death of a man sitting in the boat, Marcus, but if I did I am thinking it wonld dance to the air of the Dān-nan-Rōn
,' which is more than the wraith of you or me would do."
"It is not a wraith I was seeing, but the death of a man."
Gloom whispered, and his brother nodded sullenly. The next moment a heavy muffler was round Donull's mouth; and before he could resist, or even guess what had happened, he was on his face on the shore, bound and gagged. A minute later the oars were taken by Gloom, and the boat moved swiftly out of the inner haven.
As it drew near Mānus stared at it intently.
"That is not Donull that is rowing, Aulay!"
"No: it will be Gloom Achanna, I'm thinking."
MacCodrum started. If so, that other figure at the stern was too big for Donull. The cloud passed just as the boat came alongside.
The rope was made secure, and then Marcus and Gloom sprang on board.
"Where is Donuil MacDonull?" demanded Mānus sharply.
Marcus made no reply, so Gloom answered for him.
"He has gone up to the house with a message to Anne-nic-Gilleasbuig."
"And what will that message be?"
"That Mānus MacCodrum has sailed away from Eilanmore, and will not see her again."
MacCodrum laughed. It was a low, ugly laugh.
"Sure, Gloom Ahanna, you should be taking that feadan of yours and playing the Codhail-nan-Pairtean, for I'm thinkin' the crabs are gathering about the rocks down below us, an' laughing wil their claws."
"Well, and that is a true thing," Gloom replied slowly and quietly. "Yes, for sure I might, as you say, be playing the 'Meeting of the Crabs.' Perhaps," he added, as by a sudden afterthought, "perhaps, though it is a calm night, you will be hearing the comh-thonn. The 'slapping of the waves' is a better thing to be hearing than the the 'Meeting of the Crabs."
"If I hear the comh-thonn it is not in the way you will be meaning, Gloom-mhic-Achanna. 'Tis not the 'up sail and good-bye' they will be saying, but 'Home wi' the Bride.' "
Here Marcus intervened.
"Let us be having no more words, Mānus MacCodrum. The girl Anne is not for you. Gloom is to be her man. So get you hence. If you will be going quiet, it is quiet we will be. If you have your feet on this thing, then you will be having that too which I saw in the boat."
"And what was it you saw in the boat, Achanna?"
" The death of a man."
" So---. And now " (this after a prolonged silence, wherein the four men stood facing each other) " is it a blood-matter if not of peace?"
"Ay. Go, if you are wise. If not, 'tis your own death you will be making."
There was a flash as of summer lightning. A bluish flame seemed to leap through the moonshine. Marcus reeled, with a gasping cry; then, leaning back, till his face blanched in the moonlight, his knees gave way. As he fell, he turned half round. The long knife which Mānus had hurled at him had not penetrated his breast more than an inch at most, but as he fell on the deck it was driven into him up to the hilt.
In the blank silence that followed, the three men could hear a sound like the ebb -tide in sea-weed. It was the gurgling of the bloody froth in the lungs of the dead man.
The first to speak was his brother, and then only when thin reddish-white foam-bubbles began to burst from the blue lips of Marcus.
"It is murder."
He spoke low, but it was like the surf of breakers in the ears of those who heard.
" You have said one part of a true word, Gloom Achanna. It is murder---that you and he came here for!"
" The death of Marcus Achanna is on you, Mānus MacCodrum."
" So be it, as between yourself and me, or between all of your blood and me; though Aulay MacNeil as well as you can witness that though in self-defence I threw the knife at Achanna, it was his own doing that drove it into him."
"You can whisper that to the rope when it is round your neck."
"And what will you be doing now, Gloom-mhic-Achanna? "
For the first time Gloom shifted uneasily.
A swift glance revealed to him the awkward fact that the boat trailed behind the Luath, so that he could not leap into it, while if he turned to haul it close by the rope he was at the mercy of the two men.
"I will go in peace," he said quietly.
"Ay," was the answer, in an equally quiet tone, " in the white peace."
Upon this menace of death the two men stood facing each other.
Achanna broke the silence at last.
"You'll hear the 'Dān-nan-Rōn' the night before you die, Mānus MacCodrum, and lest you doubt it you'll hear it again in your death-hour."
" Ma tha sin an Dan---if that be ordained." Mānus spoke gravely. His very quietude, however, boded ill. There was no hope of clemency; Gloom knew that.
Suddenly he laughed scornfully. Then, pointing with his right hand as if to some one behind his two adversaries, he cried out:
"Put the death-hand on them, Marcus! Give them the Grave!" Both men sprang aside, the heart of each nigh upon bursting death-touch of the newly slain is an awful thing to incur, for it means that the wraith can transfer all its evil to the person touched.
The next moment there was a heavy splash. Mānus realised that it was no more than a ruse, and that Gloom had escaped. With feverish haste he hauled in the small boat, leaped into it, and began at once to row so as to intercept his enemy.
Achanna rose once between him and the Luath. MacCodrum crossed the oars in the thole-pins and seized the boat-hook.
The swimmer kept straight for him.
Suddenly he dived.
In a flash, Mānus knew that Gloom was going to rise under the boat, seize the keel, and upset him, and thus probably be able to grip him from above. There was time and no more to leap; and, indeed, scarce had he plunged into the sea ere the boat swung right over, Achanna clambering over it the next moment.
At first Gloom could not see where his foe was. He crouched on the upturned craft, and peered eagerly into the moonlit water. All at once a black mass shot out of the shadow between him and the smack. This black mass laughed---the same low, ugly laugh that had preceded the death of Marcus.
He who was in turn the swimmer was now close. When a fathom away he leaned back and began to tread water steadily. In his right hand he grasped the boat-hook. The man in the boat knew that to stay where he was meant certain death. He gathered himself together like a crouching cat. Mānus kept treading the water slowly, but with the hook ready so that the sharp iron spike at the end of it should transfix his foe if he came at him with a leap. Now and again he laughed. Then in his low sweet voice, but brokenly at times between his deep breathings, he began to sing:

The tide was dark, an' heavy with the burden that it bore;
I heard it talkin', whisperin', upon the weedy shore;
Each wave that stirred the sea-weed was like a closing door;
'Tis closing doors they hear at last who hear no more, no more,

My Grief,
No more!

The tide was in the salt sea-weed, and like a knife it tore;
The wild sea-wind went moaning, sooing, moaning o'er and o'er;
The deep sea-heart was brooding deep upon its ancient lore--
I heard the sob, the sooing sob, the dying sob at its core,

My Grief,
Its core!

The white sea-Waves were wan and grey its ashy lips before,
The yeast within its ravening mouth was red with streaming gore;
O red sea-weed, O red sea-waves, O hollow baffled roar,
Since one thou hast, O dark dim Sea, why callest thou for more,

My Grief,
For more!

In the quiet moonlight the chant, with its long, slow cadences, sung as no other man in the isles could sing it, sounded sweet and remote beyond words to tell. The glittering shine was upon the water of the haven, and moved in waving lines of fire along the stone ledges. Sometimes a fish rose, and spilt a ripple of pale gold; or a sea-nettle swam to the surface, and turned its blue or greenish globe of living jelly to the moon dazzle.
The man in the water made a sudden stop in his treading and listened intently. Then once more the phosphorescent light gleamed about his slow-moving shoulders. In a louder chanting voice came once again:

Each wave that stirs the sea-weed is like a closing door;
'Tis closing doors they hear at last who hear no more, no more,

My Grief,
No more!

Yes, his quick ears had caught the inland strain of a voice he knew. Soft and white as the moonshine came Anne's singing as she passed along the corrie leading to the haven. In vain his travelling gaze sought her; she was still in the shadow, and, besides, a slow drifting cloud obscured the moonlight. When he looked back again a stifled exclamation came from his lips. There was not a sign of Gloom Achanna. He had slipped noiselessly from the boat, and was now either behind it, or had dived beneath it, or was swimming under water this way or I that. If only the cloud would sail by, muttered Mānus, as he held himself in readiness for an attack from beneath or behind. As the dusk lightened, he swam slowly toward the boat, and then swiftly round it. There was no one there. He climbed on to the keel, and stood, leaning forward, as a salmon-leisterer by torchlight, with his spear-poiated boat-hook raised. Neither below nor beyond could he discern any shape. A whispered call to Aulay MacNeil showed that he, too, saw nothing. Gloom must have swooned, and sank deep as he slipped through the water. Perhaps the dog-fish were already darting about him.
Going behind the boat Mānus guided it back to the smack. It was not long before, with MacNeil's help, he righted the punt. One oar had drifted out of sight, but as there was a sculling-hole in the stern that did not matter.
"What shall we do with it?" he muttered, as he stood at last by the corpse of Marcus.
"This is a bad night for us, Aulay!"
"Bad it is; but let us be seeing it is not worse. I'm thinking we should have left the boat."
"And for why that?"
"We could say that Marcus Achanna and Gloom Achanna left us again, and that we saw more of them nor of our boat."
MacCodrum pondered a while. The sound of voices, borne faintly across the water, decided him. Probably Anne and the lad Donull were talking. He slipped into the boat, and with a sail-knife soon ripped it here and there. It filled, and then, heavy with the weight of a great ballast-stone which Aulay had first handed to his companion, and surging with a foot-thrust from the latter, it sank.
"We'll hide the---the man there---behind the windlass, below the spare sail, till we're out at sea, Aulay. Quick, give me a hand!"
It did not take the two men long to lift the corpse, and do as Mānus had suggested. They had scarce accomplished this, when Anne's voice came hailing silver-sweet across the water.
With death-white face and shaking limbs, MacCodrum stood holding the mast, while with a loud voice, so firm and strong that Aulay MacNeil smiled below his fear, he askfed if the Achannas were back yet, and if so for Donull to row out at once, and she with him if she would come.
It was nearly half an hour thereafter that Anne rowed out toward the Luath. She had gone at last along the shore to a creek where one of Marcus's boats was moored and returned with it. Having taken Donull on board, she made way with all speed, fearful lest Gloom or Marcus should intercept her.
It did not take long to explain how she had laughed at Seumas's vain efforts to detain her, and had come down to the haven. As she approached, she heard Manus singing, and so had herself broken into a song she knew he loved. Then, by the water-edge she had come upon Donull lying upon his back, bound and gagged. After she had released him they waited to see what would happen, but as in the moonlight they could not see any small boat come in, bound to or from the smack, she had hailed to know if Mānus were there.
On his side he said briefly that the two Achannas had come to persuade him to leave without her. On his refusal they had departed again, uttering threats against her as well as himself. He heard their quarrelling voices as they rowed into the gloom, but could not see them at last because of the obscured moonlight.
"And now, Ann-mochree," he added, " is it coming with me you are, and just as you are? Sure, You'll never repent it, and you'll have all you want that I can give. Dear of my heart, say that you will be coming away this night of the nights! By the Black Stone on Icolmkill I swear it, and by the Sun, and by the Moon, and by Himself!"
"I am trusting you, Mānus dear. Sure it is not for me to be going back to that house after what has been done and said. I go with you, now and always, God save us."
"Well, dear lass o' my heart, it's farewell to Eilanmore it is, for by the Blood on the Cross I'll never land on it again!"
"And that will be no sorrow to me, Mānus my home!"
And this was the way that my friend Anne Gillespie left Eilanmore to go to the isles of the West.
It was a fair sailing, in the white moon-shine, with a whispering breeze astern. Anne leaned against Mānus, dreaming her dream. The lad Donull sat drowsing at the helm. Forward, Aulay MacNeil, with his face set against the moonshine to the west, brooded dark.
Though no longer was land in sight, there was peace among the deeps of the quiet stars and upon the sea, the shadow of fear was upon the face of Mānus MacCodrum.
This might well have been because of the as yet unburied dead that lay beneath the spare sail by the windlass. The dead man, however, did not affright him. What went moaning in his heart, and sighing and calling in his brain, was a faint falling echo he had heard, as the Luath glided slow out of the haven. Whether from the water or from the shore he could not tell, but he heard the wild, fantastic air of the "Dān-nan-Rōn," as he had heard it that very night upon the feadan of Gloom Achanna.
It was his hope that his ears had played him false. When he glanced about him, and saw the sombre flame in the eyes of Aulay MacNeil, staring at him out of the dusk, he knew that which Oisėn the son of Fionn cried in his pain: "his soul swam in mist."