[From Manx Tales, Egbert Rydings 1895]
I AM passionately fond of the " gentle craft," as old Izaak Walton calls it. I am also naturally endued with considerable patience, as every true angler must be-not that I should go quite as far as an old friend, who told me that before anyone could call himself an angler he should be able to sit at a rain-tub for six hours and fish in it, and know there was nothing in it.
During the first week of last August I was spending my summer holiday in Douglas, in the Isle of Man. For months, as I sat at my desk in a Manchester warehouse, my imagination was constantly occupied with the lovely scenes in the Island. I almost fancied I could sometimes smell the sea and the "wrack " on Douglas Beach, and that exquisite aroma of turf-smoke from the farmhouses on the mountains. And when it got to the last week in July, I began to feel (what with the heat of the weather, the smell of calicoes and fustians, and the pent-up excitement) like one who had had all the stamina pumped out of him; and was quite sure if my "going off" by any chance did not come off, I should be laid up ill in bed. But, when the last Saturday in that longgoing month came, and I had got my quarter's salary in my pocket, and my feet on the Piccadilly flags, oh ! how my spirits revived as I hurried on to the Station with my Gladstone bag and fishing tickle to catch the four o'clock boat !
You need not fear, gentle reader, that I am going to inflict on you a long account of my passage across on the boat. All that I shall say is, that I came across upon the splendid paddle steamer "Mona's Isle " in less than the four hours and what with the kindness of the officers on board, and the magnificent accommodation for passenger comforts, the time passed away as quickly and as comfortably as if I had been sitting at home reading in my own parlour. Nor shall I attempt to describe the fearful yells of "I Kelly !" " I Kelly !" (always with the aspirate left out) uttered by the Lancashire lads as the boat landed at the pier. Or, how I was attacked, highwayman-like, with-no, not a pistol!-but a card and "nice lodgings, sir?" on my way up Victoria Street to Circular Road. I knew my good boarding-house keeper (I wish the Manx had enough gumption in them to coin a new word for this all important surnmer-provider), or her charming daughter, would give me a kindly welcome at the door when I arrived. This was my tenth visit to the dear old Island, and I had always stayed at the same house, and with the same kind people. I knew my own snug little bedroom over-looking the Nunnery trees would be reserved for me, and one-half of my holiday's enjoyment would have been lost if I could not have secured my dear old " diggins." Ah! there she is at the door, and from the smile on her kindly face I can see I am expected, and all prepared for, for another time at all events. After enquiries about me and mine, I hear of the bright prospects of their two sons in London, then of the younger children, all of whom I know quite well by their Christian names. I am then ushered into the diningroom, and find that my own easy chair, in the old familiar corner, is waiting to receive me. I make myself comfortable, and am soon enjoying, with my tea, delicious fresh herrings.
The day following-Sunday-was a thorough wet day, and it was altogether out of the question to go even to Kirk Braddan Church, my usual Sunday evening's walk. But, as I stood at the window, and saw the rain coming pelting down for hours, I had a true angler's consolation, that the mountain streams in the morning would be simply splendid for worm fishing. I had made sure of my license days before, and intended to start very early in the morning if the weather were anything like fair overhead. So early to bed I went, and, in my excitement, dreamed half the night through of landing half-pound trout and broken lines. My kind Mrs. - -no, I won't give her name, you might think I was " touting " for her-had made sure that one of the servants would be up and my breakfast ready by five o'clock. I was up some half-hour before this, taking weather observations, and, as it was then fine, and a gentle south-west wind blowing, I concluded it would make up a splendid fishing daynot too bright, for the clouds were high, and plenty of them to screen the sun's rays. After a sumptuous breakfast and a substantial sandwich for the pocket, I was off up Buck's Road, even before the street-sweepers and the milk-ears had made their appearance, and away for the Baldwin streams, where I knew there would be good sport.
Oh ! the exquisite sensation of breathing this pure mountain sea-air! To me it has always the same delicious sensation as drinking champagne, with this difference, that the more you get the more you want, and no unpleasant "after-claps."'
As I got on the high-lands overlooking Tromode Valley, I stopped to take a look round and a rest, leaning on a stone fence. Douglas, to the left, with a few chimneys sending up puffs of white curling smoke ; and Carlyle's description of some such scene in " Sartor " came into my mind. "For it was the smoke of cookery, as kind house-wives at morning were boiling their husband's kettles ; and, as every blue pillar rose up into the air, saying as plainly as smoke could say, such and such a meal was getting ready."
To the right were the rough, rocky hills of Greba and South Barrule, and the hills above Foxdale; and, in the centre of this hill-surrounded land, lay a charming cup-like valley, dotted here and there with farmsteads, standing amongst clumps of trees. But, I will not attempt to describe this glorious panorama of hill and vale that lay before me, for it would require the pen of a Ruskin to do full justice to it. This, I believe, is about the spot where Martin, the great landscape painter, is said to have stood when he took his sketch for his " Plains of Heaven;" so that, if any one has seen that great picture, or the print from it - which, I remember, was in Agnew's shop window in Manchester - he will have a far better idea of the scene that lay before me than any poor words of mine can convey. Well, after this short rest, I must hurry on to my fishing ground, before the sun gets too high and bright on the waters.
At the meeting of the two Baldwin rivers I got my tackle in trim, and began operations on the east tributary. A gentle up-stream breeze was blowing, and the water was everything that an angler could desire ; a fair flood, as I expected after yesterday's heavy downpour, and the colour a creamy chocolate, from the waters running through turf bog at the foot of Bienn-Y-Phott.
Now, let us try ,a worm just behind this stone. Come, that throw is not bad for a hand out of practice for twelve months! No, this length of line won't do, the current is swifter than I expected, and more water coming down too. Reel off another fathom of line, and try again in that eddy where the water is dashing over that big rock; and, if there is a trout in the river wanting its breakfast, it will be there. Ah! there now, I knew it!
Easy, easy - no, you won't get back to your rocky home again !
There, you are safely landed on that wet moss, and a beauty you are too !
Talk about Turner-landscapes for colour ! They are not to be compared to a fresh trout from a clean stream ! And, my word, if it's an ounce, it's -; no, I won't tell you 'what's its weight. "Ab'-o'-th'-Tate" says that "trout-ticklers and amateur gardeners are the biggest liars undurt sun; " so, thanks to " Ab," I'll keep my mouth shut, and put the trout lovingly in my basket on a bed of this wet moss, and try for its mate to keep it company. There now, that's a fifteen yards' throw, and not a span either side where the other was caught-talk about old mail coachmen flecking a fly from- -go it, my hearty!
Here you are, another beauty! Men talk about the delights of a champagne supper!-"it's now't but smo' drink," as " Ab " would say, to this !
A little higher up the stream I came across a rather singtilar thing in natural history, and true disciples of old Izaak have always their eyes on the alert for things of nature, and much can be seen on the banks of our mountain streams very interestin- in this respect. On a large rock, that stood in mid-stream about two feet above the water, I saw something move of a brownish colour, which I took at first for a thrush, but, as it did not take wing on my near approach, I knew it could not be that timid bird. When I got as near to it as I could-for the high flood was whirling past on both sides some six or seven feet-I could see the brown thing had laid itself down quite flat in a hollow of the stone, and so near was its colour to the short lichen that, had I not seen it move .it first, I should have passed it by unseen. With the tip of my rod I just touched it, and in an instant a brown-grey water-rat dashed off the rock into the stream, and was carried at a furious rate down the river, and over the waterfall from which I had just landed the trout. This poor rat had evidently been washed from its home-moorings by the high flood on to this desolate island, and was evidently waiting with patience for it to subside, not daring to venture until the point of my rod forced it to do so. I saw it helplessly dashed over the waterfall, and ran back to see what became of it, for I had noticed those jagged rocks beneath, and doubted if even a rat's life could stand against them. When I looked over into the boiling cauldron, I could see something dark swirling round, and at last it was thrown out on to the current, and was being carried down feet uppermost. It had been, as I expected, killed in the falls.
Poor thing ! I felt sorry I had disturbed it.
Well, on I went up the stream, sometimes nearly up to my knees in the turf bogs on the bank, but having on an Al pair of indiarubber fishing boots, I did not care so long as I could lift my feet and the boots tt the same tinie. It was rather difficult sometimes, as those who have tried it will know. When a pair of boots are once sunk up to the knees in a pretty stiff turf bog, it requires a tremendous wrench to get them out with " swish," " swish," like the sound of a suction pump as you drag theni up.
About half-way -up the stream I came upon a quaint little mill, driven by a water-wheel, and surrounded by tall trees. It would make a sweet water-colour picture I thought, with the splash of the water from the wheel for a foreground and I am astonished that the Manx Turner (Nicholson) his not spotted it before now.
Behind the mill, on a level stretch of rnetdow, were two men, early as it was (7-15), pulling with all their might at what I thought at first was a long stretch of brown sail,cloth. Having hooked the loose end, they were pulling to a couple of horizontal bars. The elder of them, whom I took to be the father, saw me, and shouted-" Good morning to you, sir! what luck?" I went tcross the greensward towards them, and showed them, with a true angler's pride, my morning's work ; they both said they were " beauty troutses," and the young fellow said he didn't think the lek was in, and seven of them tuk so 'arly.
I asked them what sort of cloth it was they were pulling and stretching on the hooks, and the one I took for the fztther said it was homespun Manx-cloth, made of the natural coloured wool, or " loaghtyn," as the Manx had it.
I asked him if it was his own manufacture. He said. No, not exactly, it was spun on the little wheel by a farmer's wife and her two dauqhters in the next parish, and brought to him to weave into cloth and finish for them. It was made of their own " Kier " wool-a sort of red-brown, to which the Manx gave the name of " loaghtyn. " It was always believed by the old Manx people that this particular breed of sheep had been cast ashore on the south of the Island, when some of the ships of the Spanish Armada were wrecked there, and that these sheep of to-day are the descendants of these shipwreeked Spaniards.
I was very much pleased with the make and colour of the cloth, and deeply interested in its historical associations, and expressed a wish to have a suit made of the cloth if it was for sale. The man told me the whole web belonged to the farmer he had named, but he had no doubt they would sell a suit length.
I noticed that the stream I had just left had been diverted from its natural course for a considerable distance up to supply the mill, and as they informed me it was much overgrown with brush-wood all the way up to its source, I decided to leave it and make my way over the hill to the west river. And as the two men were just going up the garden to the house for their breakfast, I went with them to get to the road. We passed the gable of their cottage, and before they went in the father kindly invited me to go in with them to breakfast and "have share." There would be groats porrage, and a cup of tay after, and he wouldn' trus' but there'd be watered herrins goin' too.
But, having done breakfast, I told him, only a couple of hours before, I thanked him, and they then came with me on to the road which passed the gable of their house, and directed nme the shortest cut to the other river. I thanked them again after giving them my address that they might write to me about the cloth. As the two of them stood on the road watching me as I went along, I could not but admire the splendid physique of both, as straight as my fishing-rod, and as pliable almost; six feet high, if an inch, with broad shoulders set like T squares, and I thought these Manx mountain fellows would have done no dishonour to the Queen's Life Guards. I got to the West Baldwin stream and again baited my hook with a clean lively worm, and soon found that my luck had not yet left me or the river, breakfast-time was not yet over, for I landed two more "beauty troutses," as the young fellow called them, within the fifteen minutes.
1 had now fished up to the Injebreek Pleasure Grounds, and found this stream quite as satisfactory as the other in the way of good sport. Here at the entrance to the grounds I left the stream; not a soul was to be seen, and, as the hill was begining to be very steep, and the water tumbling down in torrents more like a half-mile waterfall than a brooklet, I knew it was no use to attempt to throw a line in this, as no fish could by any possible means keep its hold in such a cataract. So I made my way over the brow of the hill, intending to drop down on the other side at the source of the main tributary of the Sulby river. I knew, from former experience, there was a splendid reach from its rise to where it is joined by the West Snaefell river.
When I got at the bottom of the water-shed where the river was just forming itself, I fonnd the water much clearer thaii the other streams I had left, and the flow was not so rapid So I changed the worm for one of my brightest flies, and, as I was now fishing down stream, with the south wind with me, I had not the least difficulty in throwing a long line and keeping well out of sight. There was also this advantage in throwing a long fly-line, the banks of the stream were pretty free from trees and brush-wood.
Gracious ! that's a nip-easy I easy!-ah! lost! and the gut gone all to the knot! That was a salmon; I saw its gleaming white sides, and was not prepared for a gentleman of that kidney. Let's try again with a :fly the very marrow of the one that is now a pig's-ring in the nose of my four to-six pound friend, that did not care to smell this lovely ling and gorse, which are so attractive to the bees that are diving their heads into the flowers, and coming out powdered with crimsom and gold; well, every one to his taste, I suppose. But like the old saying :-"'Tis better to have loved and lost, &c." So with me. I would rather lose half a dozen hooks and gut than have missed that electric thrill which ran down the rod, and through my arm, from the tug of that silver-bar.
Good luck, however, still went with me, and four or five beauties came to the heather in going down the stream. About a mile down I came to a nice little tributary that came from the left, which evidently had its rise somewhere in the hills overlookiing Kirk Michael, and I left the main stream and followed this till I was up on the table land, and a short distance from a large farm house. Having my ordnance map with me-which I always carry, and have cut up in sections, so that I need only take that part in which is laid down the route I am likely to take during my day's ramble-I took it out of my pocket, and spread it out on the top of a stone wall, for I always like to know the names of the farms I am passing through. This farm I am now on is certainly Druidale ; that over the valley on the other side is Crammag; that to the left down Sulby Glen is Ballaskelly, and Tholt-y-Will lies below out of sight. And this across the valley to the left is "Sherragh Vane." "Sherragh Vane !"-why, this is the very spot made classical by the Rev. T. E. Brown in his charming story of " Kitty of the Sherragh Vane."
I'll light my pipe, and have a "sit " on this stone fence while I smoke it. Yonder, I see plainly, is the farm house of
Nicholas Tear-that's Nicky-Nick-Nick,
And his wife a Gick of the Ballagick ; "
and yonder is the gully where Kitty kept in "hidlins " the Chartist outlaw, Ned Blake. and where Tom Baynes and Saul dragged him out, and washed him under the pump; and those the very fields-now standing in yellow cornwhere old Nicky-Nick kept Tom at it, tying for him, while he swung the scythe with a swish as an accompaniment to his quaint talk. Here behind me on the breast of the hill, I see the long stretch of turf-pits, where the turf has been cut in past years, but now overgrown with moss and heather, and white cotton-grass, whose flufly heads stand out very Conspicuously against the black turf back,,round, as they nod in the gentle breeze. Here, no doubt, the turf-cutting scene took place, so graphically described-
" Joan and John,
And coortin' and carryin' on,
And pies and priddhas and cakes and broth
The best on the No'th."
Indeed, this ought to be classic ground for Manxmen, at least, and I have no doubt that it will become so in a few more years, when their quaint and forcible dialect will have been lost as spoken, and only preserved in these charming tales.
I should not at all be surprised in another twenty years if Manx car-drivers-as they drive their "fares " round that long stretch of road half circling Snaefell, and in sight of "Sherragh Vane " a full half hour-will tell the story to the "strangers" they are driving, and point to "Sherragh Vane" with as much pride as the Ambleside drivers point out to their " fares " " Fox Howe " and " Rydal Mount." And on their way down Sulby Glen I can quite fancy some such tale as this: " Yes, sir, I knew ould Caesar Cregeen, the miller, quite well-drurik many a quart of 'jough' in his house. Knew Kate, did you say? 'Deed, though, I did, as well as I knew mee own grandmother. She was sackon cousin of mine, and this is her photo which I always carry in mee pocket, as mee 'fares' are always axin me about her when I drives them this way-'Deed no, Hall Caine did not make her prettier til she was; there was a tas'e more yallar in her hair til he says, I'm sartin of that. That's the tree over the rivar where she sat wis her feet in the water."
Well, as my pipe is just out, and my dream of the future, too, I must be hurrying on after this short and pleasant rest, but I cannot tear myself away from this glorious range of mountains that rise up all round me. Snaefell in front, supported on the right by Beinn-y-Phott, and North Barrule just peeping over the giant's shoulder, with Carraghan and Slieau Curn on the same chain behind me; and in all this range of vision not a living soul could be seen. One or two farm houses were sending up puffs of white-blue smoke, and the distinct puffs, as they rose, told me that the servant girls were blowing with bellows the turf fires under the pot to hurry on the dinners. And, oh! that delicious smell of turf smoke that came wafted on the breeze !-Talk about your Eau-de-Cologne " and " Mona Bouquet, " they are no more to be compared to the aroma of this condensed essence of ancient heather and Mona's mountain flora than the smells from the Ship Canal are to the pure scent of the violet !
Instead of going back by the stream I came up, I crossed over part of Druidale to catch on again at the main river. I had just climbed over one of the high soil fences that divide the fields, when, to my no small atonishment, there came scampering out of a burrow in the hedge I had just scrambled over six young wild rabbits, and clapped down within three feet of where I stood. I paused and stood still for some seconds, when I espied, coming out of the hole the rabbits had just left, a large sized weazel, which was evidently in chase of them, but, when it espied myself and the butt end of my fishing-rod, it stopped quite suddenly, stretched out its long neck, gave one glance with its dazzling eyes, and made its retreat back to its burrow. No sooner did the little creatnres see their four-footed enemy retreat and out of sight, than they started up from the crouching position they had taken round about my feet, and scampered away across the meadow as only wild rabbits can. I was much astonished and pleased at this singular circumstance, and as I crossed over the fields to the river I could not but ask myself this question: Is the instinct with which these timid creatures are endowed of such a nature that they can discern a lesser from a greater enemy, and fly for protection to the former? in deep reflection on the nature of instinct, passed down the gorse-grown valley side and joined again my favourite stream. When I got to the river at the bottom, I passed over a plank bridge that crossed the stream, and came upon another tributary that ran along the south side of Snaefell and the bottom of Bienn-y-Phott ; its rise, I knew, was somewhere among the hills overlooking Laxey, and as I wanted to go to that village, I would go up the stream and fish as long as there was water.
The stream, I found, was ranning, rapidly, and was of a dark coffee colour, no doubt from the turf-bogs where it collected its waters at its head, so I changed my bait again for a worm, and began operations with a shorter cast, as the stream was overhung with trees, bramble-bushes, and such black-berries for size, and in such plenty, I never saw in all my life! There were a few ripe, which I gathered, and found of excellent flavour. I quite believe that in a few weeks' time, when they become fully ripe, a cart-load might be gathered in this glen; they hung in great bunches like grapes.
The stream, I found, was running rapidly, and was of a dark coffee colour, no doubt from the turf-bogs where it collected its waters at its head, so I chanoed my bait a-ain for a worm, and began operations with a shorter cast, as the stream was overhung with trees, bramble-bushes, and such black-berries for size, and in such plenty, I never saw in all my life ! There were a few ripe, which I gathered, tnd found of excellent flavour. I quite believe that in a few weeks' time, when they become fully ripe, a cart-load might be gathered in this glen; they hung in great bunches like grapes.
In my way up I caught four very good trout, but when I came to put them in the basket by the side of the others, they looked almost black and quite another species. I suppose this difference in colour maybe accounted for by the fact that this stream coming from the turf-bogs at its rise, and all along its course, its water is always the colour of coffee, as I saw it, and therefore the fish-by an evolutionary process, as Darwin would say-have been changed from a bright silver-grey to a dark red-brown hue, as these were. I have noticed, as no doubt all anglers will have done, that there is always a slight difference in the colour of the same fish from different streams, but I never saw such a marked difference as this. Here on a tributary on the same river, and not more than half a mile in distance, there is ,in the difference I have just mentioned.
About half-way up the stream there is a charming spot, and I suppose mine are the first " cottonie " eyes (the Manx call all Lancashire visitors " cottonies ") that have seen it. I don't know if it be wise on my part to bring it into notice, but there is one thing alone which will protect its sanctity; I am not afriid it will be made a " show place," it is too far from any public road, and I question if, at any time, a "cottonie " less equipped than myself-with an over-knee pair of india-rubber fishing boots-will ever get near it. I have seen the " Fairy Glen " at Bettws.y-Coed, and "Stock Ghyll'; at Ambleside, but these places, in my opinion, are not to be compared with this Manx "Fairy Glen."' But let me try and give same faint idea of the place as I saw it. The whole body of water in the river becomes compressed to a couple of feet between two high rocks, and falls down some twenty.feet into a dark pool beneath, sending up a rainbow spray, which descends upon the rank vegetation around in a perpetual mist, keeping the trees which overhang the pool in continual moisture. And oh! what a little paradise of ferns !-from the delicate maiden-hair species, growing out of the crevices of the dripping rocks, to the stately Royal Fern (Osmitmda Regalis) growing on its banks, in a tangled mass ,of woodbine, bracken, and foxgloves, and rearing its stately flower-.fronds some five feet above its lowly fellows.
As I turned away from this enchanted spot, I thought if there happen to be left one or two of the old Manx Fairies (not steam boats) this is the spot where they would like to dwell, and if
"In a cowslip's bell they lie,"
I hope they would use their magic spell to keep it from the " pleasure resort demon," and vandal " fern grabbers," that haunt Douglas Market Place during the "season."
Well, as the stream above the waterfall was beginning to get narrow, and I knew no fish, not even a salmon, could leap that fall, I decided to wind up my tackle ,and make for the refreshment hut on Snaefell Road, and as I felt somewhat "peckish" after my seven hours' fast, a glass of ale and my sandwich would be very acceptable. It is wonderful in the excitement of sport, when your heart is in it, how everything else is forgotten, even the cravings of hunger. Had I been sitting at my desk at Manchester, my stomach would have thought the world was coming to an end, if I had left it uncared for for half this time.
It was a long hard pull up to the hut, through the turf bogs all the way, but I got to it at last, and my glass of ale and sandwich, too. I took a seat on the bench and " fell to " like a hungry ploughman, and that simple fare, after my ten miles hard tramp, with the mountain breezes as appetisers, was to me as good as a Lord Mayor's banquet, you may be sure.
The cars with the "cottonies " going the " long road," were beginning to come. In most of them the men sat close to. one another with a rug spread on their knees to make a sort of table,, and were playing cards when they passed me, and kept looking at their knees while they were in my sight, and no one seemed to be aware that they were passing some of the grandest mountain scenery in the kingdom, and "Sherragh Vane! " They certainly did not look at it!
Having to go to Laxey to execute a trifling commission for my good Mrs. -- in Douglas to her mother who lives there, I decided to follow the stream that rises on Snaefell, and fish down. But when I got on the brow of the hill, I saw at the bottom the puff of steam from an engine, and knew at once from the heaps of shale at the side that it was "lead mine, and no fish to be had in that river. I would, however, follow the course of the stream, as it was certain to bring me as quickly as any other road into Laxey. So I started, following the stream, but oh ! what a difference in the water from those I had just left; a liquid slime, and vegetation itself not able to live on the bank where the water touches.
I left the bank of the river when I came to the first batch of thatched cottages on my left, as I was given to understand by my kind provider in Douglas, that in one of these cottages her mother lived. When I got up on the brow, I conld see the top of the famous Laxey Wheel ,a short distance from me, and in a garden attached to a white-washed thatched cottage I could see an old woman, with a spotted sun bonnet on her head, digging potatoes. I made my way to her, and found she was the very person I wanted to see. I knew her at once, for I had seen her once or twice at her daughter's house, and had become fairly acquainted with her.
As soon as she saw me she lifted up her two hands, and exclaimed in surprise: "Lough save us! and dear heart alive! If this isn' the young falla from Manchester, that allis stays wis our Nessy. Come round to the gate pas' that thrammon tree."
I went along the garden hedge of high fuchsia trees, and came to a little wicketgate, overhung by an elder tree - which, I suppose, is what she meant by " thrammon," and down ,a garden path, to the front door, as my friend came round the gable of the cottage, carrying in one hand a bucket full of potatoes and a midden-fork in the other.
When she had put the things down, and turned back the flaps of her sun-bonnet from her face, she said-looking straight in my face with a smile-"'Deed, tho', you're lookin' smart an' stout, la', an' the las' pesson in this blessed world I should expee' seein' at Agneash." After leading the way into the cottage, and taking my coat and tackle from me, she said, as she took the basket of fish : "'Deed, tho', there's weight here, bogh, an' I wouldn' trus' you've made a good fishin wis the troutses "-and in the same breath-" And how is Nessy and her man, and the childher?-You'll be stayin' wis her as former-'Deed, her an' the gel will do theer very bes' to make you comfibil; are they full ?-but I needn'be axin' in Augtis' ! Chut! What am I tinkin' on, goin' clanderin' on lek this when I knows in mee heart you're jus' dead, an'.fairly waste* for want of mate ? Take that arram cheer now, and make yourself comfibil. I wouldn' trus' now your stockin's will be soppin' wet, laak all fisher falla's are. Take your big boots off. I'll gerra peer of sleppars off the lat" to put on. [*Wasted-Fatigued.]
"Wait now, wait (as I was trying to get my boots off) puk up your fut an' let mee lay hould of the heel, or you'll navar get them off-theer now, the other-now you'll be comfibil, an' take your cheer into the " chiollagh,"+ an' put your feet to the turfs, an' I'll have a cup of tay in no time, as the man said. [+A wide fireplace, with turf burning on the hearth.]
"Would you like a herrin'? There's salt wans sence Satada'; the Manx boats don't navar go out on Sunda', so theer's navar no fresh herrin's on Monda'-Chut! what,,am I tinkin' on ; you'll be havin' a couple of your own troutses, and I'll gut them and clane them for you."
I told her she must take four or five of the biggest,,and as I saw there were cups and saucers laid for two, she must join me, which she said she would, and they were soon frizzling away in the frying-pan over the hot turf fire.
While the tea ind fish were getting ready, she asked me if I would like a wash, which I told her I would with pleasure ; so, she brought out a bowl of water and soap and a clean towel on to the " bink," as she called the flag outside, and I had the luxury of a wash in the "open," with delightfiil scenery all around-Laxey village lying before me deep down in the Glen, sheltered, to all appearance, from every wind that blows, with the afternoon's sun shining upon the white-washed houses on one side the valley-on the other side they were in perfect shade, and the sea beyond glittering in the sun like a molten mirror.
There were about a dozen " visitors," on the top of the big wheel," but the distance was too far for me to see if there were any I knew. And as I stood in the garden scrubbing myself with the towel, I heard a voice from within calling out-
"Faith an' you English ones are mortal slow and 'tic'lar about your washin'; a Manxman would have done his slick arrim before now. Come, hurry up, the fish is done to a tas'e."
I hurried in, and was soon sitting at a small round table with a clean white cloth on, and everything nice and natty, when she said-
" Now, fall to your mate," as the man said, " and don't be shy ; here's nice soda cakes fresh off the griddle this mornin', and here's some oatcake if your teese is good. You'll be tak'n sugar and milk wis your tay? That's right, some of you English people is tarrable faddy, I know, about your mate, not wantin' this, an' can't navar do wis that, instead of aetin what's set afore them, ,and bein' thankful."
I saw the plate, with the five trout nicely browned, was set before me, and I wanted her to have two of them.
Deed no, bogh !" she said, " I couldn' touch one for the world; the Manx dont navar ate troutses, theer's no scales ,arram, and is'n good for mate; this jam is more to my tas'e ; these troutses are nice ones tho', and done to a turn in fresh butthar-drippin', and no doubt will be splandid for them that laaks them.
Now, don't want coaxin', but fall to your mate, jus' as if you was at home."
I certainly should not want "coaxin" to help myself to this plate of delicious trout ; whatever the Manx women are in other departments, they certainly can cook fish to perfection. I had just finished half of my second fish, and had taken the backbone out to get at the under half, when she said-
" Lough, save us alive ! the way you ate a fish is somethin' scan'lous, any one would know wis out tellin' you're a cottonie,' by the way you ' brock'* your fish." [*Mangle]
"Why," I said, laughing, "is not that the proper way to eat a fish, to take the backbone out of it?"
" Chut! no, the Manx, who oughter know, navar ates fish the lek of that. When the mate is puk off arram at one side, they turns it over on the other, to gerrat the mate ; but, of course, the Manx would ate it wis theer fingars, and not brock it lek that any way. Here," pushing the butter plate towards me, "take some more buttthar, its nice and fresh, and don't spare it now, but ate your mate hearty. Its ages sence your brekas', and it's laak as not you won't gerra nothar tas'e in your mouse till you gerrat Dhoolish*, and that won't be till far on of the everin'. [*Douglas]
" Come, let me coax you for another cup. No! Well, then, as the Manx proverbs has it, I Ta dy liooar chammahi as bannish.' You don't understand that? The English of it is 'Enough is as good as a feast.' So I'll be clearin' these 'Kiartagh'* awly while you'll be takin' a draw of your pipe, which I see in your coat pocket." [*Kiartagh-odds and ends-various things.]
I at once lit my pipe as requested, and went outside in the garden to smoke it.
In looking over the valley, at the bottom across the river I had come down, was a ruined cottage standing amongst a clump of tall trees; it had evidently not been inhabited fora good many years, as all around it was overgrown with tall bracken, bramble, and woodbine. I was looking at it with considerable interest, when the old woman came to the door to hang a dishcloth on a nail in the gable, and I asked her why it had been left in that dilapidated condition, and how long it had been untenanted.
She put her hand over her eyes to shade the sun, which was setting over the hill in front of us, and I saw her bosom heave, and she gave a long sigh, and half-turned herself from me, as if some painful remembrance had been brought to her mind by my enquiries, and the sight of the ruined cottage. After a few seconds, she turned herself round and looked at me, and I could see that her eyelids were moist ; but, by the power of a strong will, the tears had been forced back. Then she spoke with a softened and subdued voice, as if what she was going to tell was of too sacred a nature to follow the jerky fashion in which she had hitherto conversed.
Young man," she said, " you are a stranger to the I'lan. I have met you once before at our Nessy's; its laak as not I'll navar be meetin' you again. I'll be 69 years come next Hollantide, and can't expec' to live many more years any way. I have navar in ,in my life towl a single sowl-not even our Nessy-all that I know about the sad story connected wis that ould ruined 'tholthan'* across the ravvar. But come," she said, as she moved up the garden path, " let us go into the house while I tell you the story ; take that cheer, an' fill your pipe again while I go an' bring me rolls." [*riuned cottage]
Then she went into the other room, and brought an armful of long wool cardings, and, after taking out of a corner a dark mahogany carved little hand-spinning wheel, which she placed before the window overlooking the ruined cottage, and taking a chair and seating herself at the wheel with her foot on a little treddle, she whirled the rim round with her hand, then the foot-treddle caught the down motion, and sent it whirling round.
Taking a handful of the rolls from the back of another chair, she laid them lengthwise on her lap, and selecting one of them-the wheel whirling so fast that the carved spokes in the centre of the rim appeared like a circle of light in a black frame-she twisted deftly the end of the carding to a loose piece of thread hanging at the mouth of the spoolspindle. She then lifted her left hand above her shoulder, and the twist from the revolving spindle was delivered by the right hand into the length of thread held aloft. At the same time she drew out the carding to its proper fineness, the spindle, by some curious process I could not see, winding the twisted thread on to the spool. After she had drawn out the second length-taking in all about the tenth-part of the time I have taken in describing the process-she began :-
" It will take most part of an hour to tell you what I'm goin' to, its laak as not. The thoughts of ould times comes back to me bes' thro' the hum of the wheel and the touch of' the thread, that's the for I have puk up the wheel. Light yer pipe-you'll find twistes over your head on the mantel-give me that egg-cup wis the father at the same time, and I'll purra tas'e of oil on the spindle, so it won't make no more noise til a bum-bee-there now, that will do--thank you! and I can proceed."
The hum of the wheel stopped for a second or two, as she looked out of the window in a sort of dreamy ftshion ; then the rim was moved slowly until the foot-lever was at the top. When the drowsy hum was heard again, she said:-
" I was jus tinkin' in me own min', to be exac', how many years sence that cottage was lived in. Our Nessy will be 40 years comin' nex' Medsummer Feer ; she was a lump of a gel of five when Dad and Uncle Juan died, and I was lef' a lone woman, wis on'y our lil Nessy, the chree."* [*Heart-darling]
Then the wheel stopped again, and taking from her lap under the rolls a pocket handkerchief, she wiped the little bent gorse twig that carried the thread over the spool flyers, and before putting it back, I noticed that somehow it minaged to find its way to her eyes, and she finished by wiping her "specs ;" then the hum again sounded, but low, just as when a bee is in a fox-glove bell ; and she continued her narrative.
I was sayin', I tink, that our Nessy was jus' turnt five, and five from forty will bring it to tirty-five exac' come nex' Chrissimus sence what I am goin' to tell you tuk place.
My only brother Juan-he was allis, bose in this parish and Kil Maul*, call't Juan the weaver-and his daughter-Nora, on'y them two (the mother dyin' when the lil ting was at the bres'), las' lived in yandhtr cottage. Juan, .is his name tells, was a waevar, workin' the loom at home. All the people in this parish and nex' used to spin theer own wool into thread on the lil wheel 1aak- this exac'. Then they bring it to our Juan to weave it for them into 'kialtar,' flannen, linsey, and cheeks for frocks aiid perricut stuff for the women and gels. The Keir+ and 'loaghtyn'++ wool would be made into stockin' yarn, and fine thread to be wove into russad cloth for the men and boys, and a lump of it sometimes would be sent to ould Sudhard te be dyed Manx-blue for Sunda' besses. That lav'l piece of ground you see in front of the 'tholthan' theer was the place he had to stretch his sized webs, before purrin them in the loom. And the strings of people that would be comin' from all parts of this parish and nex' was somethin' tremenjous urro' massy. [* Kirk Mauhold, + grey ++ Brown]
Well, as I was sayin', the gel, Nora, would be about nineteen-fourteen years more till our Nessy, that she nuss'd scores of hours-making 'cats' cradles' and 'dolls' cheers' for her out of the rushes that growed on the ravvar side.
"And, dear heart, the chree ! Such a gel as Nora was then you wouldn' clap your eyes on now, not if you walked from Point of Ayre to the Calf this blessed day, and in the height of the sayson.
"Tall and slim she wts, and as straight as tlbat fishin'-rod yandhar; and as swivel on fut as a hare-springy on her shoes somethin' tarrable. She wasil' lek the 'sthugghas'§
of gels that's in now wis theer htir crimpt over theer eve~ brows, and theer figg,,irs made up of padded btisses and p,,tnyars by the dressmaker. [§ Thick-set.]
" 'Deed no ! she wanted none of them tings to help her figgar-a back as straight as a foot-rule, and shouldhers thrown back when she walked. She wasn't, what hapes of men admire, a 'stout gel' neither, wis cheeks hangin' at her laak big red apples lek ; but a nice dallicake face arrar, and the pink and white in her cheeks, mixed through others, as the sayin' is, 1aak the inside of a red rose jus' open. But it was the hair and eyes that played the very mischief wis the boys-but theer! I won't thry to tell you what they were laak. You will hear from the 'jeeill '* they done further on in the story. [*damage]
" Well, at this time I am talkin' about, Nora was a sarvant at the Cap'n's (Captain of the Parish ?)-Chut ! Kneale's ? -no, but Cap'n of the mines, big house at the washin' bridge yandhar. And the mistress and the gels thought di'monds of her; and such a vice for singin' arrar you wouldn' navar belave, could go trim'lin up to the high notes, laak a lark, and come sliddherin' down again to alto, that would make a thrill go down your back, laak teemin' cowl water through a. spout lek.
"The Cap'n's gels an' the Pazon, knowin'the fine vice that, was arrar, tuk hapes of throuble to larn her the notes, an' nothin' would sarve but she mus' be among the singers at the lil church on the Cap'n's lawn; and the go on them at the praxises, two or three everins in the week, was sometin' scan'lis urro' massy. And the young fallas in the tanors and basses almos' grippin'one another who'd be carryin' her music book when the praxis was done arram; and others, that .couldn' sing, waitin' hours at the church door to gerra glint of a lil smile from her, and would go home quite happy if .she on'y bid them 'good night.'
Well, this went on its laak for near on twelve munses, smilin' gennal lek, an' makin' her jokses to all the same, not faverin' one more til another. When the cowl' wather set in tho', the ones at the church door began to drop off, till there was on'y one lef, and no matthar how the win' would be blowin',and freezin' lek the mischief, stan' it out he would. And when the organ and the singin' was goin' at it full belt, he would clap his han's and stamp his feet in the porch, to take hate in them. And when the music stopped-I' ve hard him say-he would open the door quite sof'lek, an' have a lil peep, when he would hear the Pazon sayin-'Jus' try over that duet wis Corkish, Miss Nora, and then we'll be .done;' then his heart would give' a big tump against his ribs. Aye, and I've hard him tell-when theer vices come cooin up the aisle of the church, swellin' and blendin' lek crame in butther-milk, and one after another, laak gels playin' it 'But-thorrin' ; then they would go to the sof', and the player wis her han's on the top keys of'the organ, and the vices swellin' out to loud, then dyin' off sof', jus' laak a dhrame lek.
"That Thobm-Juan-beg-Corkish, tho' lil hisself, had a tremenjous heavy bass vice arrim, and as mallar as a bus drum. Then the praxis would be done; but when he saw the .Juan-beg comin' up the aisle smilin' at Nora, and so close that his arrim touched her frock, and carryin' her musicbook quite imperent lek, he couldn' stan' it no longer, but tuk to his heels lek the very mischief, and off up to the Balgean as fas' as he could lathar, an' almos, cussin' hisself. I've hard him say that he couldn' sing a strook.
"Poor falla! If he'd ha' waited and seen how clavar Nora tricked the Juan-beg, he would hav' tuk heart. Nora-.for all his clavar singin' and fine bass vice-didn' keer, no not one haporth for Juan, and didn' want to give the las'e tas'e of encouragement. Civil she would be, an' nothin' more. So when they gorr outside and was walkin' through the Cap'n's garden. and Juan was jus' purrin' his arrim roun' her wais' (this she tould me herself), she grabs the music-book urrov his hand, and says, quite sudden lek, 'Dear me ! I've lef' me gloves in the sate,' and was hafe way back across the lawn to the church, before Juan knew where he was, The sly of the gel ! She knew the young Misses would be still in the church, and she would come home wis them, and Juan wouldn' dar' to come near them. You mus' know in them times the Cap'n's ones was laak kings and queenses, and no one in Laxa-special miners-dar' say 'boo to a goose,' as the sayin' is. Well, Juan was that mad you wouldn' belave, and when he saw the gel comin' wis the Cap'n's ones, he fell :a-cussin' shockin', scan'lous-to himself, tho'-and hurried off home to the Big Wheel, laak a dog wis its tail between its legs.
"This Thobm-Juan-beg-Corkish, calt for short Juan-beg, you mus' unnerstan', was a miner, an' tho' lil, uncommon clavar wis the mell and jumpa'. I've hard tell he navar cracked a knuckle wis his streckin, and wiry as pin-wire, as the sayin' is, but a tamper arrim, when riled, that was fet to set fire to a green goss bush.
"The bes' pitches in the mine allis come to his han', and the praxises, as I have said, bein' two or three in the week, a lil note would be sent by the Cap'n's Miss, the organ player, 'to-night praxis,' and a labourer laak a shot to take his place, and the pay at the munse end always one of the bigges' goin'. Chut ! yandher times the Cap'n had ,a free han' enough, and no one to say him nay, as the man said. 'Deed, tho', the times are different now ; a bass vice, if its as loud as a tramhurn*, won't navar change a shif' even, lerr alone gerrin' a man in his place, and bein' paid all the same. [*Trombone.]
"Well, 'deed, tho', the Juan-beg was tarrable mad for Nora, an' wouldn' giv' up the. ques' till he was complate bet, you may be sure of that.
"Well, tho', for all the other falla was every mossel as despar, but more quieter lek, jus' as you might say, and when he come near to Nora, or saw her ever so far off-he tould me-he felt as if he mus' take off his hat, lek goin' into church, or passin' a buryin' lek. It's qiiare, isn't it?" she said, stopping the wheel, and looking through the window with her hand on the rim, and absorbed in thought, and although she had stopped at the question, I could see it was not to me it had been addressed; but her whole talk, for that matter, had been a sort of crooning to herself, with the hum of the wheel for a low accompaniment, and I believe she had quite forgotten that I was in the room. After this long pause the wheel moved very slowly--in fact, I noticed this peculiarity in her spinning; when her talk became somewhat excited, her foot and treadle would become excited too, and the hum would increase to a whizz and a burr-burr that fairly shook the spindle; but as her voice dropped and took a sad tone, the gentle ham would return and almost die away in silence, as it did when she asked the question and stopped.
"'Deed, aye! " she said, as she let the spun length on to, the spool, "this love in men plays the very mischief. In some fallas, laak Juan lek, it goes rippin' and tearin' laak when they sets fire to the ling and gorse on the mountains, wis a puff of eas' win' blowin'; while wis some it is laak the scutch grass and priddha blossoms, after harrain' haped in a ruck, and the fire laid on, it goes smoulderin' and smookin' for avar lek, even nex' day you'll see it, and mayve the day follerin'. This was laak that other falla, smother'd up and kep' under, but hot, tarrable, and studdy as a gun.
" But lough save us ! " said she, turning and seeing me, I believe for the first time since she commenced her story. "I've clane forgot. I don't think in mee heart I tould you who the other falla was. He lived at that big farm house over theer," pointing with her finger through the window across the valley over to the ruined cottage.
"Yes, I see," said I, standing up and looking over her shoulder as she pointed, " the one on the brow next to us."
"Chut! no," she said, "that's not it; that's North Baldrine; the one overside among the trees wis the big outhouses, that's Balgean, wis more lan' til any in the parish, and five quarter lan's to it. A Scotchrnan he was, livin' wis his father; his name Donald Stephenson, but the Manx always calt them 'Levisons,' I suppose for the short. -He was a fine han'some swivel falla, and theer was'n the laak in the parish; he could hav' puk up Juan-beg under his arrim and trow'd him over the hedge as aisy as lif'n a turmit; but he was quiet shockin' and wouldn' hurt a fly. At the plough and the scythe he was tuk at the farmers to be the bes' in the parish, and the furras, I've hard the Ballacragga say himself, was as straight as a rule, an' laval on the top as a table-clos, an couldn' be bet anyway. And as for the scythe in the harves'-field, he would keep six tyers arrit from 'arly mornin' till late everin', and be as 'fresh as paint,' as the Irishman said, when the day was done arrim.
" Five pa'r of horses arram in the stables, and the ' perk' (which I woldn' trus' you came across from Snavel hut, and now overgrow'd wis ling and goss, fet for sheeps and young cattle) was standin' wis corn then, and tremenjous crops arram, and thrashin' uncommon well, I've hard, for the high lan's.
" Chut ! these Scotchies always was, and is till now, tarmble pushin' fallas, quite difer' til the Manx, wis theer 'Furree ! Furree ! '* and ' Traa dy liooar ! '+ I've hard ould Dan Kermode, the joiner, say, purra Scotchman on Laxa deads++ and giv' him a boddle of whiskey and a pinch of paten' manure, and he'll rep a crop urrov it batthar till a Manxman will urro' Ballagawn.[*Easy. +Time enough. ++Debris of Mine]
" Chut! Dan would hav' his jokses, but no one minded his 'boughtnets ;' but that's neither here now there, as the man said.
"Well, tho', this Donal' was clavar at the books, arrim in his pockads, and when the hosses tuk a res' on the headlan's and the plough tilt up, urrov the pockads laak a shot, and poethry mus' be read, an' I've hard Nora say times he could reel off wisout book the whole jus' of that Scotch falla Burnses poethry, and at the concerts in Laxa, the gran' he could do the recitin', wis his han' ups lek a Pazon, an' his eyes on the ceiln' lek, an' his vice a-trimblin' and shakin' as if he was goin' to cry.
"Yes, 'deed, tho', he could do it wis a tas'e, and no mistake which I've hard myself times and times. He was uncommon friendly at the parsonage, and the Pazon thought hapes of him, bein' Super at the Sunda'School when the Pazon hisself wasn' theer.
"The very nex' Sunda'-I min' Nora tellin' me-after the praxis I tould you about, he was sittin' in his own sate at the low end of the church nex' to the Captn's pew, and the Pazon come up to him and axes him if he would be so kind as to sit wis the boys on the furrim nex' the singers, as in the mornin' they were nearly purrin' him thro-others wis theer antax* and twis'en on the sates.[*Antics.]
"Well, he went up and sat,,it the side of the boys to keep them qui't. It was here-as Nora tould me-that the 'jeeil' was done 'betwix' and between them'-as Jonny Ka-lay said of the mortar. It was jus' as suddent as this :-When the collec', 'Lighten our darkness,' was finish', and the bose of them were a-lift'n theer heads and theer eyes met, quite sudd'n lek, jus' a sackon, and not one mossel more til that, his eyes-Nora tould me-bamed, and his eye-leds gav' a surt of a lil flutthar lek-eheeks jus' one tas'e of red come in, and went-and that was all.
" But she knew in her heart, for the first time, that that big han'some Scotch Donal' was deep in love wis her. Then the Pazon read the words of the anthem, and they stood up; but Nora was that tak'n aback, that when she tried to get her music togathar the pages wouldn' fit, and when they come to the duet wis Juan (she got fairly through others), laak a tangled skein, she mess'd and muck'd it, Juan said, mos' boosely 'urromassy.'
When they sit down, all the singers looked at Nora, and wonderin' in theer 'hearts what had come over the gel, to do such jeeill as that, when she sung it so gran' at the praxis. But she hung down her head and looked on'y at the music stand all through the sarmon, and all the time theer eyes navar met, for Donal' was hushin' and hishin the boys to keep them quiet, and tinkin' deep down in his heart he had navar hard such gran' music in his life-not even Burnses 'Highlan' Mary,' sung to a bagpipe, could come near it, I hard him tell.
" Well, when they gorr outside the church, Juan comes up to her, a tearin' and ragin' laak a falla stampin' mad, and as imperent as sin.
" And I what in the world posses' you to make such a confound' mess of the quhole ting, half a note flat through it all, and bars wrong in the time, and the deshcords was sometin' shock'n'?'
" She stood for, a sackon wis her head hung down, but navar a word urrov her mouse; but turns round and walks away quite slowly up the Cap'n's lawn, and went and shut herself up in her own room, and navar come down the whole everin; and the misthress didn' disturb her, for she thought Nora was vexed at herself for spoilin' the singin'.
"But Nora, the chree ! navar thought one haporth about the singin', in fac', she tould me herself, she didn' hear one single note, but the look of them swimmin' eyes was on the music, and she didn' see nothin' but them!
"Well, ihe Wensda' in the follerin' week happen'. to be the Sunda' School and Church Tay Party, and the Cap'n's ones was allis gerrin' the bes' tray, and the sarvents-three of them besides Nora, who was parlour-maid and head sarvent mus' be all theer, and a tarrable go was on them fixin' keddles, and tay cups, and flowers for the tables, and pissaves and custards, and boil'd and roast hose in fowlses and mate, and the table haped up and loaded laak a club dinner jus'.
"So when the Wensda' everin' come round, the gels all in theer Sunda' bes' frocks was theer on the minutes. Nora, wis a red rose from the Cap'n's green-house pinned on her bres', jus' peepin' out of the white tulle she wore roun' her neck and in her hair, which was done up to a tas'e, I can tell you, wis lil hangin' snow-drop flowers, white all over, and out of the green-house, but they warn' snow-drops, but laak lek. And the pretty she was you wouldn' belave !
"Well, off they went, the whole batch of them, to the school-house yandhar, which you see standn' on the top of the hill over-lookn' Laxa, and had theer own table fixed wis beauty when the Misthress and the young Misses come in, and the Misthress, and the Pazon and his wife complimentin' her tas'e, and tellin' her to her face (which made the other gels a lil bit jallis) that they I navar seen a table laid out so love-aly before,' which sent the pink and white roses into her cheeks the las'e tinge mallarer. When Donald was seen comin' thro' the door a deeper collour still went up in her forehead, and what wis the hot tay that was a-drawin' under the cosies, and the warrim room wis the keddles a-boilin', she had to take her han'kercher out of her pockad to wipe her face, and gev a lil glint from behint it to see if he was comin' to her table.
"All the gels that was a-sittin' at the two rows of long tables down the room were heis'in on one side, and lavin' room for Donal' to sit, and callin' out, 'Here's room, Mr. Stephenson, waitin' for you.' The gels, yon mus' know, had pass' theer seven standar's, and, of coorse, mus' give him his propa' name, not lek the ould Manx people that navar used the standar's, and that's the for I tould you at the beginnin' they callt them 'Levisons.'
" Well, as I was a-sayin', all the gels was wantin' him to, sit by them, as he was in great favour wis them all, but he went straight as a arrar up the room pass' every one of the gels-jus' givin' a lil nod and a smile to all-and ups to the Cap'n's table, where Nora was jus' fillin' a cup of tay for the Juan-beg that sat nex' her, and takin' a sate jus' afore Nora, and she saw him, and wis a lil smile she axes him 'Are you laakin' much shuggar, Mr. Stephenson?' but before he had time to answer-for he had jus' bent his head to puk his hat under the table-that limb of Satan, Juan (God forgive me for sayin' so), wis his imperence and mookin' vice, bittendin to talk Scotch, says, "Deed, tho', he's noa a Scoachmawn if he doan' laak bose shuggarr and whuska'.' But Donal'didn' bittend he hard, and whatavar he may have felt at the momen', he didn' let anyone see. So be smiled sof'ly and said, 'Thanks to you,' when Nora gave him a. cup wis her sweetest smile, and then hung down her head, bittendin' to smell at the rose in her bres'.
" Me and our Nessy was sittin' on the same furrim nex', when the Pazon come, and I heis'ed a lil to one side to make room, and he tuk his seat nex' to Donal', and they bose ups at once and begun to talk about books, and poethry, and the way Donal' could talk, even to the Pazon, was somethin' 'strawnary, wis his sof' vice, and the las'e lil tas'e of a gurr arrim on his r's, and his vice that low and mallar, and winnin' lek, you wouldn' belave. And the varses he could say wisout book, quite pat lek, and the Pazon lis'enin' and smilin' gennal mortal, and liftin' his glasses-which navar lef' him-and givin' a lil heissin' wis his shouldars, lek he did in the pulfit, and Nora, the chree, that plased and sweet sinilin', lis'enin', and forgettin' the tay.
" And that Juan, who was sittin nex her, grabs her pockad hankecher, and winkiri at the fallar nex him, rams it undhar his oxthar spectiii the gal would rag for it, lek mos gels would. But I saw the face arrar gerrin such a look that shamed him, I can tell you, and she navar tuk the lase notice about the haukecher, but gorra lil cambric ting that was in the baskag wis the spoons, aiid wiped her forehead wis it, as if iiothin had happn. And tixe fool Juan had made of hisself set the boys and girls a-laughin arrim, and he jumps up from the furrim wis his cup half done arrim, and flings Noras hankecher on the floor behint her, and walks out of the room as mad as a wasp.
" When the tay was done, and the scholarsill oneshad gone home, the big ones and the teachers had games, but, of coorse, I didii stay till they had done, as it was gerrin our Nessys bed-time ; but Nora tould me of it times afterwards, which makes me remember. It seems they were playin at tersey, and a big ring of them, and Nora had the hankercher and drapt it behint a gel that stood flex to Juan, but Juan grabs it, and made chase after Nora, and in his mad way catches hould of her hair and piiiis it down ; but he didn tip her fair, and she found herself quite onexpected in front of Donal. In liftin her hands over her head to rowl up her back hair, she touched his hands, and she felt his hands give hers a sof lil sweeze lek, and (she tould me this offen and offeri) theer went through her arrims, and down to her very toes, a lii trill lek; lek when you jus grips sof the ting the Capn had for his rhemnatiz. No one saw it, and no one knew but them two the jeeill that hair had done.
" Well, Nora wouldn' play not one more strook after that, but went and got the silvar tay-pot and spoons and put them in the baskag, and coax and coax as the other gels and boys did for her to stay she wouldn', and at the door Donal waitin wis his hat on ready too.
"When they gorrin the porch Donal said he would carry the tray he cailt it Nora saidif she would kindly allow him. Of coorse, lek all young gels, she bittended this and that, and it wasn heavy, and she couldn think of throublin Mr. Stephenson, and a lot of rubbage of that surt, when the sly ting was wantin him to carry it all the time. Well, he gorrit, and as they was goin up the slip from the door, him a few yards in front, behould ye ! who should be comin runniii through the door lek mad but the Juan-Beg, and he shouts : Hould on, Nora. Ill carry the tings for you. But when he saw Nora empty-handed, and the baskag at Donal some distance off, he grips her wis a shook, and hisses in her ear, Ah ! thats it, is it, mee gel ? Ill stop that lil game, and givin her one shove that nearly felld her, he tore off, cussiri tarrable, down the hill the other way. It come so sudden lek, that the gel was fair chek when she gorr on the road, but she soon foun that Donal had seen nothin that had pass, so she didn keer.
" When they gorrat the Washin Bridge, Nora wanted to take the tray as he callt itfrom him, but he said he would carry it to the door ; but she said his way was up the hill, and she was goin to purra sight on her father before goin in. When he hard this, he says, quite cheeful lek, that was his nearest way, and he would go wis her ; so they come 011 to tlìe cottage theer. And the nice he was, and the gentlenone of the grippin and raggiri lek other boys
but the sof spuk, and gentle, and consadherat, youd navar belave, which fairly won her over, and before they got back to the Capns, so much had been said between them, and ten times as much unsaid, but felt, and couldn find words if theyd tried, that before they were half-way back her hand was houlin his arrim, and walkin as proud as if she had known him for years instead of munses only.
" Well, Ive jus done the two spools, and Ill ball them now."
And she left the wheel and went to the hearth and took up a cinder in her fingers, and came and sat down on the chair again ; and as she began to wrap the thread which she had spun on a ball round the cinder, she said "The rest of the story, which is only short now, I will tell you as I am ballin' this."
Then she looked through the window at the ruined cottage, and said, in the dreamy voice, as if crooning to herself, as I had noticed before : " Its mortal strange this longin that comes over young people the laaks of Nora ; I have hard her tellin times and times that it wasn his hansome face, nor his figgar in no way that she tuk to him so despard, but his vice, that was it that fairly wutched her lek, and made her forget everythin when she was listenin to him and when he wasn theer she could hear his vice, and the tings he had said was allis in her earseven when she was goin about the houseand she cared for no company now, as his vice was the bes company, which she could have all to herself when alone,
" Deed, tho, I wouldn trus but she was right theer ; its not the whole body of a pesson at all that one leks ; maybe its a lil dimple in the cheek, or the way the hair falls on the forehead, or a lil toose that will peep and show itself in spite of the red lips, or more liker, two big blue eyes the lek of Noras herself, wis a swimmy, far-off look, lek when you look down into deep water from a yawl on a still day ; into it you can look, but the depse of blue you cant fadom."
Then she stopped herself quite suddenly, and rolling the thread on the ball with a quicker movement, and once more noticing my presence, she exclaimed : " Chut ! what boughnet is this T am ramblin into ? I
clane forget myself. Where was I ? Aw you needn, Ive gorrit. Well, the weddin was to be any after harvis, and Nora was up wis Donal times at the Balgean, and the tather and mother tuk oncommon wis Nora, and proud urro massy wis her too, and couldn make enough of her. And hapes of tings they was gerrin for the w.eddin I needn be tellin you.
" And the Capns wifeher misthressdelighted, but sorry mortal to part wis her, and wheeravar should they get such a good gel as Nora had been, knew all theer ways, and was more laak a sesthar to the young misses til a sarvant. This was what the misthress was sayin, but a new silk weddin dress MTaS given by her, the very bes in Wilson the drapers shop in Dhoolish, and that thick it would stan on end wisout any one touchin it. And the Pazons wife sendin to London for a weddin veil and wreath, nothin arram good enough in all the Dhoolish shops, which she tried every one of them. And presents from hapes of Donals people from Scotland was somethin strawnary, and the go that was arram for weeks was somethin shockin tarrable.
" But lo ! and behould ye ! when the las week in harvis had come, and all prepard, Noras father was tuk tarrable bad, and sick oncommon, and Docthar Craine, from Ramsa, sent for lek a shot wis the Capns carriage ; and he come and he said, his narves was slink, but he wouldn trus wis quitness and good nussin he uonld be goin about again in about a mumse or so.
" Deed, our Juan, even at bes, was navar nothin batthar till a crus* and could navar stan the lase tase of citemeiit. And the thoughts of Nora lavin him had purrim thro-others tremenjous ; riot but what he was as plaised and proud at the match as any of us, but bein nothin but a crus, as I have said, the joy of it would do the jeeil on him.
" Well, the weddin inns be purr off for a munse, and Nora wouldn lissen to one word to the contrary, but come she mus and nuss daa, and I navar seen the laak, the love of them two, they were more lek sweethearts til father and daughter.
" When harvis was jus about done arram, and the days to shorten lek, our Juan began to gerr about again, and on fine days you would see the two of them walkin on that laval patch wis his arrim roun Noras neck and hers roun his wais, lek you seen gels goin to school.
" I was often goin down the brew to purra sight on them, and I member I tould Nora that it was allis considhart onlucky by the ould Manx people to purr off a weddin, but I trusted to the mussy hers wouldu be. This I member more exac by what tuk place after, as you will now hear.
" But wait a sackon," she said, as she rose from her chair,
" Ill give a poke to the fire, and purr the keddle on the slowrie ; youll be taking a cup of tay wis me before you lave." [*Crust-frail person.]
When she had hung the kettle on the hook over the fire, and taken her seat again at the wheel, and begun to wind from a second spool she had put in its place, she began
" Noras father was gerrin batthar strong, and by the middle of October was arris loom again, and the weddin was fix for the las week in Novambar ; Nora was up here times in the week showin me her weddin presents as they come in.
" The week before the weddin she was up here any on the day wis a whole hape of passils, and smiliri and singin lek mad. I member one song in special which Donal had gay her, calit Jock o Hazeldean, and as she had brought her weddin tings all complate, to the veil and wreath, and was goin to thry them on, and as she was dressin before the glass, she sung lek a lark, and I well member the words and the way she spuk them exac lek Donal
A chain of gowd ye shall not lack,
Nor braid to bind your hair.
And when she come to the las vess, I member them far more distinc til any of the others, because I hard them wis a sad heart and swimmin eyes a short time afthar
The kirk was deckd at morning-tide,
The tapers glimmerd fair;
The priest and bridegroom wait the bride,
But neer a bride was there.
Well I member she was purriri her veil onher weddin frock she had onand as she stepped across the room, sweepin her dress behirit her, more lek a queen lek, she sang again wis a trill that fair wet mee eyes, houlin up in her han, I mind, a locket and chain that Donal had gev her
A chain of gowd ye shall not lack,
Nor braid to bind your hair.
And then, stoppin quite sudden lek, she turns wis a lil smile, and said, wis her head on one side, laak a robin-red-. breas when it looks at you, Auntie dear, am I nice, and will I do to ride in the carriage wis the pair of white hosses, wis white tassels to their ears ? But before I could answer, she had rattled off wis a more joyous vice still
" Shes oer the border and awa
Wi Jock o Hazeldean.
" The day afthar Nora was herebein Frida of all other daysthe snow had begun to fall arly on the day, and towards everin the groun was gerrin quite thick wis it, and more to come, as the cap was lyin heavy on Snavel, and big clouds of black snow laak soottill it fell whitewere comin sweepin down the valley.
" I mind me, too, at the close of the everin, the Juan-Beg come inhis mother hem own cousin to rneeselfhe come up here times to put a sightas he was speetin, no doubt on Nora. He was still despard on Nora, and I member quite well his standin for a long time lookin through the window over the valley.
" He hadn spuk many words since he come in, and a tarrable srnul* was on his face, and the storm I knew was comin, but I didn say one word. But he ups at once, and the blaguardin, and the mockin, and the cussin he did on Nora was somethin scanlous awful
" I jumps up on mee feet at once, and tould him to shut up, and norr another word urrov his mouse, and I gev him the door, which he tuk, and down the garden flyin jus, and a prayer of cussin arrim as long till I could see him, teerrin down that brew towards the cottage. [*Scowl.]
" If ever in this worl the divil was in mortal man, he was in that Juan, as he went plungin and teerrin thro goss and briars, and snow, and spectin every sackon his neck would he bruk in two. I stood outside and watched him, tinkin he would be goin to the cottagewhich I hoped in the massy he wouldn wis such a tampa on himI seen him over the ravvar ; the snow had stopped fallin, but the night was comin on fas, and instead of goin towards the cottage, he tuk a turn to the right, and in a sackon or two I could see him again the white snow, creepn up a sheep trac by the side of that big overhangin black rock you see theer ( pointing with her finger as she spoke). When he gorrat the top I could jus see him lek a black spec lifen somethin wis his hans, but a heavy mist come and rowld up from the sae, and coverd him up and the whole valley laak a sheet lek.
"Well, as I have said, this was Frida, and every Frida everin Nora was always let off at the Misthress, so she could come up to the cottage yandhar and put a slick of eleanin on the house for her father lek, so that it would carry over Sunda.
"On these Frida nights it was always the praxis, and had been from the fus, for Donal to come and purra sight on Nora, and when the fingars of the clock would be standin at eight exac, she would be spectin, navar missin, and Nora would be havin everythin nice and tidy, and clane as a new made pin, and herself all nice and fixed up to the nines. [*Back]
"She would be standin at the gable yandhar on fine days and in the light, watchin him come down that lil sheep trac, pas the high rock theerwhich is allis callt by the Laxa ones the Black Rock. And as there was no proper road thro the Dreem* (the lan on the top is callt) Donal had puk up hapes of white spar stories, and had made a lii cross wis them wheer he always come down, and some he had set on end in the moul down the track, so that even on the darkest nights he could go and come, feelin the stones and giviri lil japs wis the point of his stick, wis navar the lase tase or one mossil of fear. This Nora tould me niunses before, when we bose stood in the garden theer watchin him come down as nimble as a goat.
"Well, that night it come on tarrable about eight, and the snow had begun to fall again, and I mind it so exac because I know when I went to get some bons* at the far end of the garden to put in the oven for the mornings fire, for the life of me I couldn find the stack, and didn, and a job I had to get back to the house, it was that mortal dark.
"Me and Nessy had gone to bed at about ten-our usual timeand I wrouldn trus we had been in bed about an hour
-Nessy was asleep as soun as a bell, hut I was awake when a tunderin knock conic to the door, and a cry and a groan that near made me heart jump in mee mouse wis the freck it give me.
" J jumps tip at once, and runs downstairs, for I could hear it was our Juans vice. I tuk the lock off, and as he come thro the door into the kitchen, I hadn time to straak a light, but by the light of the fire I could see him bar& head, and wisout no jackad, the bres out of his body jus, and couldn get a word out for panthin. His face as white as talla, and his hair ruxt up, and his hans all scratchd an bleedin. As soon as avar his bres come hack to him, he gasps out, more lek a sob than spuk Noras dead, Auntie! Noras dead !' [*Sticks]
"I ran upstairs, struk a light, put mee clos on, tuckd up our Nessythat was still fas asleepand when I got down-stairs his bres had come back again, and all he could say, in a daze way, was Nora is dead, and Donal under the Black Rock!
"I didn stop one sackon, but grips his arrim and pulls him out of the house, and down that ugly brew, the two of us wis the snow up to our two knees jus, thro goss and thorns and briars. And how the Lord we two managd that night to get to the cottage, and as dark as tar, thro knee-deep of snow, and such a road, I navar could tell, and cant to this day ; but, howavar, we did get thcer, me fus, for we got parted somewheer.
"When I got to the house, the door was standin wide open, but no one in the kitchen. Upstairs I ran, and into Noras room, and " Lough save us ! the sight on the bed was somethin pirriful
"Nora, wis her long hair all tangled about her face, her dos on, even to her boots, and the meltin snow drippin in her hair, and on her dos, and her face as white as the sheets
"I felt her hans and facethey were laak death.
"I repd open her dress at the ches (she was lyin On the buttons), and pur mee hand on her heart, and felt a lil bate lek, and I knew that life was still arrar, if I could ony gerrher warm.
"Oh ! the chree ! the chree ! the lamb millish* ! if I had any help![* Honeysweet.]
" The Lord save us ! And wis these words on mee lips, I tore the wet dos off her body laak one mad, and had her between the blankets, and the hot ovan-shelf to her feet when I hard Juans fut on the stair.
"He come in on the laf, lookn more dead til alive. Wheer he had been senee I lef him the Lord ony knows. Wis his dos all wet and tore to rags, he throwd hisseif on the bed to Nora, wis a loud cry of " Oh ! the bogh mellish ! mee darlin Nora ! ! " Then he went off into a dead faint, and lay laak a stone lek.
"I grips hould of him, that was lyn laak a clod, and sthrips his wet tings off to his shirt, and laid him on the bed beside Nora, as aisy as liffin a baby.
"I was tarrable sthrong yandhar times, I can tell you.
"Then I went and fatched his blankads off his own bed, and the tickn wis the fathars and laid them haped on the two of them ; for I knew in mee heart, the chrees ! nothin but hate would put the life in them.
"When this was done at me, I lef them, and runs on, as quick as the darkness would let me, to the millarsthat house theer undar the big wheeland shook them up, and tould them to run to the Capns and tell them that Nora was a dyin, and Donal was lyin dead under the Black Rock which I tould them as short as I couldand to bring men from the night-shif ones, and a stretcherwhich they allus keep for accidents in the mineto carry poor Donal on.
"I hurries back as fas as fas, and found the two as I had lef them, but jus wis the lase tase of hate comin on Noras face, which I touched wis mee hand.
"Well, after waitin for ageswhich it seemedand me gerrin hot water, which I knew the docthor would want when he come, and hot flannens which I kep purrin on the two of them, I hard the mens feet go pas at las, and I could see, from the light of the open door, the body of poor Donal, the bogh ! bein carried shoulder high.
"I bruk down complate, and cry I mus, or I felt nice heart would bus.
"The docthor come at las, and two sarvants at the Capns, and stayed wis us, tellin us what to do till the day bruk, and when he went away he tould me I had saved the two of them for the present, and said I had done all that one mortal par of hands could do umcler the most trying circum stan.
"He said, poor Juan, bein ony a crus at the bes, he hardly spacted would gerr over it ; the gel, he thought would, wis care, if brain favar dicin? serrin ; and so he left us, and said he would come again in the everin.
"Well, laevin the two gels in charge, I come up here to see about our Nessy, as I had lef her all by herself the night thro.
" I found in our hurry when we lef the house, we lef the door wide open, and so I found it. But our Nessy was all right, but mortal freekend when she woke and found me not theer.
" It seems (our Juan tould me this), Nora, when eight o clock come, as usual went outside, tho snowin it was, and dark tremenjous, but take res she wouldn, Juan said, and a ombereflar mus be arrar, and walkin outside in the snow and dark.
" Well, an hour passed away, and no Nora and Donal come in, which our Juan thought mortal strange, so he gorra light to the lanthorn, and would look for them.
"When he gorra few steps from the door, behould ye ! he saw the omberellar lyin on the snow open ; and follerin the tracs of Noras footstepswhich the fallen suow had not quite coverdhe traced them under that high rock theer, and "Lough save us ! what a sight ! Lyin stretchd full lense was poor Donal, quite dead, and Nora, the chree ! wis her arrims claspin his face, and her hair and dos coverin his body, and her own white wis the fallin snow, the lamb mulish ! dead too he tuk her.
"Well, somehow, wis the lil strense he had lef after the shook it gevvim, he managd to carry her to the cottage, and lay her on the bed ; then he hurries up, as you know, for me, and bein struk stupit lek, navar thought about the lanthorn, which the ones who puk up Donal foun by his body.
"The day follerin an inques was held, and Nora and Juan, . hose bein onsenceble the way they warr, couldn be quashtint.
"The High Bailiff and the Jury, when they come to see the place where Donal was puk up, come into the cottage to take down my oas, and what I had to tell, and when he come downstairs from seem Nora he was wipin his specs and his eyes swimmin lek, and bein so kind and mild you wouldn belave, and I tould him all that was seen at me wis mee own eyes, and would take down nothin tould by others. It wasu everdence, he said, and the jury was put off for two weeks, after a paper was writ arrim for the Pazon at poor Donals funarl, to see if Nora and Juan would be comin to by then.
"But deary, deary me ! he might jus as well have purrit off then and theer for avar, as spectin them to be on theer
oas. Wisin the fortnight our Juan, the hogli ! was lyiri in Kil Lonan churchyard, and poor Nora, the lamb mulish! was onsensible still, but gerrin a lil strense, wis every apparance of brain favar serrin in, the docthor said.
"Me and the two gels at the Capns watched night and day, and at las the favar set in, and when it was at its height about midnight, and the turn of the tide was on, the tarrable raggin that had been on her for hours was mos pirriful to see. I member the clock fingars were standn at three on the minuteshalf slack of the tide that would bewhen she dropped into a gentle sleep for more til an hour. When she woke up she was quite bright lek, and smilin, and more laak herself til she had been since she was tuk ; and seein' me standin wis tears in mee eyes, she said, quite cheeful lek, Auntie dear, its time I was up and dhrast ; Donal will be heer, and I wont navar be ready, and quite sharp lek she said, Hurry up, woman, do ! and bring me the weddin dhress and veil, and help me on wis them quick, or well be late as sure as sure.
"The two gels and rue was stanidin' at the foot of the bed in amaze for she had navar spuk a senseble word all the time from hem tuk, so to pacify herfor she seemd so anxious and wellthe gels went and fetchd the weddin frock and veil, and purrit on her as she sat in bed, the chree ! She helped them quite strong lek, but a tase cited, and panthin' short lil bresses lek, and when the veil was on arram, her eyes, wis a far-off look in themhint so love-al-ly you navar seenshe sang in a low sweet vice, as sof as sof
The kirk was deckd at morning-tide,
The tapers glimmerd fair;
The priest and bridegroom wait the bride,
But neer a bride was there.
"As the las line was a-dyin out from her lips, her eyes tuk the same far-off look and stare, and she lay back on the propped up pillas on the bed, and navar spoke again. She lay laak that mos on three days, and pass away as aisy as a sleepin' child.
"A week or two after the inques the Juan-Beg went off quite sudden lek to the Colorados, to other Manx fellas minersthat was out there, and no more till twelve munses had pas, when a slipe in the laval he was workin in fell on him and he was tuk up for dead; but he lived jus two weeks, and before he died he sent a latthar to his brother at Laxa, and in it a lil slip of paper for me, which you will fin in what I am goin to give you. I was allus calld and known by the name of Auntie Nan by the Agneash and Laxa ones."
She left off winding the thread and wiped her glasses as she took them off, for I could see a mist-film had covered them. Then she went upstairs, and, bringing a small parcel wrapped in a white paper, she put it in my hand and said, "Read this, and lave it wis our Nessy when it is done at you."
Getting a small table cloth she laid it on the table, saying, at the same time, "Youll be takin a cup of tay wis me now before you lave ? "But I thanked her and said I would rather not, as the afternoon was far gone, and I was expecting I might catch a conveyance down at Laxey and get a ride into Douglas.
I pulled on my fishing-boots, and slung the fishing-rod and basket of fish over my shoulder. I then bid my kind hostess " good-bye," which she returned with a hearty shake of the hand, and told me to give her "love to Nessy," and tell her
"she wouldn trus but she would be givn a sight on them nex Saturda, or the one followin, any-way."
I left her standing at the door, while I made my way past the " Big Wheel," and on to the Commercial Hotel, where I found some young fellows whom I knew, and got a seat with them in their trap.
The old womans sad story had affected me very deeply, and when seeing the little church among the trees as we drove from the hotel door, I could riot help, with a sigh, thinking of the sad fate of poor Nora and Donald.
As I was riding towards Douglas in the trap, full of sad thoughts, my hand touched the paper parcel in my pocket, and I opened it.
It was a long cutting out of a newspaper, almost gone brown with age and turf smoke, and on the top I could read "Monas Her" but the scissors had cut the other part of the word, and there was no trace of any date on any part of the slip.
On the bottom corner a small scrap of writing-paper was pinned, with these words written in a school-boy sort of scrawling hand, but quite plain : " AUNTIE NAN.It was me that moved the stones. I am dying, and could not take rest. Forgive me, as I hope God will. For Jesus sake. Amen."
I quite understood the meaning of this. How easily a jury can be deceived by evidence!
The printed matter of the newspaper slip was headed in large type, "Laxey News. The High Bailiffs charge to the jury on the melancholy death of Donald Stephenson. Full evidence in our last Wednesdays issue." It read as follows:
"His Worship, the high Bailiff, who was at times so over-come by his feelings that we could scarcely catch his words, in his touching charge to the jury, and the summing up of the evidence in this sad affair which took place near Laxey some weeks ago, said as follows
You know, gentlemen of the jury, that this sad affair, upon which I shall soon ask you to give your verdict, was sus pended for a fortnight so that we might have the evidence of two material witnesses laid before you, but God, in His wise providence, has seen fit to call them away from an earthly tribunal. Their evidence might have been material, or, it is quite probable that the young woman, Nora, who was waiting for her sweetheart at their own cottage door, only saw the body of her lover falling over the precipice. The lighted lantern which he carried in his hand would give sufficient indication to her of what had taken place, the distanceas you saw being only a few steps from where she stood, she no doubt heard the heavy body fall to the earth, and I firmly believe as the doctor has surmised in his clear evidence that the young fellow was killed before he reached the ground. You must bear in mind the distance of the fall, as judged by the constables evidence, 150 feet, and nearly perpendicular half the distance, and jagged rocks the other half, upon which he would fall. There is no doubt in my mind, and neither, I am certain, is there in yours, that poor Donald would be killed when his head struck the rocks half way down, and would give neither cry nor moan when he reached the ground where he was found, as given in the evidence by the men from the washing-floor. Well, considering the sad event in this light, and the sudden shock to the poor girl, she would he so overcome by the calamity that she would lose all consciousness, and sink down where she stood. Her father, no doubt, hearing her fall at the door, would hear her say (before losing consciousness altogether) that Donald had fallen off the Black Rock, and was dead. He would carry her upstairs and lay her on the bed, and then rush off up the hill to his sisters, as you have heard in her very clear evidence. One thing I think we may take for granted, and that is that no one was near to the body after it fell from the rock. Then again, coming to the very clear statements of the men from the mine, who said they found the body lying against the rocks ; they examined the ground carefully before they took it up to see if there were any trace of footsteps near, but they could see none. The chest and face of the dead man, before they disturbed him, were quite free from snow, which, in my opinion, clearly points to the fact that no snow had fallen since he lay there. They did notice, when they held up the light they carried, that the snow was stripped from the rock as if a body or some substance had brushed it off. Then take the constables evidence ; he said he had care-fully examined the top of the rocks under which the young man was found lying, and could quite clearly trace footsteps coming from Balgean way ; the last footprint was six inches exactly from the ledge of the rock (which fell as nearly as he he could say 1 50 feet), with the toe of the shoe pointing towards the precipice, and no trace of any footmarks but one. A sheep-track some four yards to the right led down the side of the rocks, and from the uncertain light of a lantern on such a dark night, it was very possible to miss the path and fall over ; and, again, the light might have gone out before the fatal step was taken. Then we have the evidence of the farm servants at Balgean with respect to the lantern. They swear that they have four or five lanterns about the cow-houses, and the one found is no doubt one of them ; but, as all farm lanterns are nearly of one make and pattern, they could not swear positively to this. They none of them saw the deceased leave Balgean that fatal Friday night with a lit lantern, hut they knew it was his habit on certain nights of the week to go to see his sweetheart. This is all the evidence, gentlemen of the jury, that has been laid before you. It is now your duty to give your verdict according to this evidence. After a consultation amongst themselves for about five minutes, the jury returned a unanimous verdict to the effect that the deceased, Donald Stephenson, had met his death accidentally by missing his path in the dark, and falling over the rocks.After signing this verdict the jury were discharged."