[from Hall Caine The Deemster]




I, DANIEL MYLREA, the son (God forgive me l) of Gilcrist Mylrea, Bishop of Man grace and peace be with that saintly soull -do set me down in the year (as well as my reckoning serves me) 17-, the month September, the day somewhere between the twentieth and the thirtieth, to begin a brief relation of certain exceeding strange accidents of this life that have befallen me since, at the heavy judgment of God, I first turned' my face from the company of men. Not, as the good Bunyan was, am I now compelled to such a narration-bear with me though I name myself with that holy man-by hope or thought that the goodness and bounty of God may thereby be the more advanced before the sons of men, though it is for me also to magnify the Heavenly Majesty, insomuch as that by this door of my outcast state He has brought me to partake of grace and life. Alone I sit to write what perchance no eye may read, but it is with hope, perhaps only vain, that she who is dear to me beyond words of appraisement may yet learn of the marvels which did oft occur, that I try in these my last days to put my memory under wardship. For it has fastened on me with conviction that God has chosen me for a vessel of mercy, and that very soon He will relieve me from the body of the death I live in. If I finish this writing before I go hence, and if when I am gone she reads it, methinks it will come to her as a deep solace that her prayer of long since was answered, and that, though so sorely separated, we twain have yet been one even in this world, and lived together by day and hour in the cheer of the spirit. But if the gracious end should come before I bring my task to a period, and she should know only of my forlorn condition and learn nothing of the grace wherein much of its desolation was lost, and never come to an understanding of such of those strange accidents as to her knowledge have befallen, then that were also well, for she must therein be spared many tears.

It was on May 17-, seven years and four months, as I reckon it, back from this present time, that in punishment of my great crime the heavy sentence fell on me that cut me off for ever from the number of the people. What happened on that day, and on the days soon following it, I do partly remember with the vividness of horror, and partly recall with difficulty and mistrust from certain dark places of memory that seem to be clouded over and numb. When I came to myself as I was plodding over the side of Slieu Whallin, the thunder was loud in my ears, the lightning was flashing before my eyes, and the rain was swirling around.me. I minded them not, but went on, hardly seeing what was about or above me, on and on, over mountain road and path, until the long day was almost done and the dusk began to deepen. Then the strength of the tempest was spent, and only the hinder part of it beat out from the west a thin, misty rain, and I found myself in Rushen, on the south brow of the glen below Car-ny-Gree. There I threw myself down on the turf with a great numbness and a great stupor upon me, both in body and in mind. How long I lay there I know not, whether a few minutes only, or, as I then surmised, near four-and-twenty hours; but the light of day was not wholly gone from the sky when I lifted my head from where it had rested on my hands, and saw that about me, in a deep half-circle, stood a drift of sheep, all still, save for their heavy breathing, and all gazing in their questioning silence down on me. I think in my heart, remembering my desolation, I drew solace from this strange fellowship on the lone mountain-side, but I lifted my hand and drove the sheep away, and I thought as they went they bleated, but I could hear nothing of their cry, and so surmised that under the sufferings of that day I had become deaf.

I fell back to the same stupor as before, and when I came to myself again the moon was up, and a white light was around the place where I sat. With the smell of the sheep in my nostrils I thought they might be standing about me again, but I could see nothing clearly, and so stretched out my hands either way. Then, from their confusion in scurring away, I knew that the sheep had indeed been there, and that under the sufferings of that day I had also failed in my sight.

The tempest was over by this time, the mountain turf had run dry, and I lay me down at length and fell into a deep sleep without dreams ; and so ended the first day of my solitary state.

When I awoke the sun was high, and the wheatear was singing on a stone very close above me, whereunder her pale blue egg she had newly laid. I know not what wayward humour then possessed me, but it is true, that I reached my hand to the little egg and looked at it, and crushed it between my finger and thumb, and cast its refuse away. My surmise of the night before I now found to be verified, that hearing and sight were both partly gone from me. No man ever mourned less at first knowledge of such infirmities, but in truth I was almost beyond the touch of pain, and a sorer calamity would have wanted strength to torture me. I rose and set my face southwards, for it was in the Calf Sound, as I remembered, that I was to find my boat, and if any hope lived in my heart, so numb of torpor, it was that perchance I might set sail and get myself away.

I walked between Barrule and Dalby, and came down on the eastward of Cronk-na-IreyLhaa. Then I, who had never before known my strength to fail, grew suddenly weary, and would fain have cast me down to rest. So to succumb I could not brook, but I balted in my walking and looked back, and across the plain to the east, and down to the Bay of Fleswick to the west. Many times since have I stood there and looked on sea and sky, and mountain and dale, and asked myself was ever so fair a spot, and if the plains of heaven were fairer? But that day my dim eyes scoured the sea for a sail and the mountains for a man, and nothing did they see of either, and all else was then as nothing.

Yet, though I was so eager to keep within sight of my fellow-man, I was anxious not to come his way, and in choosing my path I walked where he was least likely to be. Thus, holding well to the west of Fleswick, I took the cliff head towards Brada, and then came down between Port Erin and Port-le-Mary to the moors that stretch to the margin of the sound. Some few I met, chiefly shepherds and fishermen, but I lifted my eyes to none, and none gave me salutation. This was well, for my heart was bitter, and if any had spoken, not knowing me, I doubt not I should have answered ill. In my great heart-torpor, half-blind, half-deaf, I was that day like a wounded beast of the field, ranging the moorland with a wild abandonment and dangerous to its kind.

When I came to Cregneesh and saw it for the first time, a little disjointed gipsy encampment of mud-built tents pitched on the bare moor, the sky was reddening across the sea, and from that I knew how far advanced the day must be, how slow my course had been, and how low my strength. In half-an-hour more I had sighted my boat, the Ben-my-Chree, where she lay in the Doon Creek of the sound, at the length of some fifty fathoms inside the rocks of Kitterland. When I came up to her, I found her anchored in some five fathoms of water, with the small boat lying dry on the shingly beach. Her cabin contained provisions enough for present needs, and more than that I was in no mood to think about. Since the morning of the day before I had not broken fast, but now I ate hungrily of oaten and barley cake. Later in the evening, when the stars were out and the moon, which was in its last quarter, was hanging over the Calf, I mixed myself some porridge of ryemeal and cold water, and ate it on the deck, and then e went below to my bunk and lay me down alone. Between sleep and waking I tried to think of my position and to realise it, but an owl was hooting somewhere on the land, and some. where over the waters of the sound a diver was making his unearthly laugh. I could not think save of the hooting owl and the screaming diver, and when I thought of them, though their note was doleful and seemed to tell of suffering or perhaps of demoniac delight, I could not thank God that I had been made a man. Thus, feeling how sore a thing it is to be a creature living under the wrath of God, 1 tossed on my bunk until I fell to sleep; and so ended the second day of my unblessed condition.

To follow closely all that befell on the next day, or the many days thereafter, whereof I kept no reckoning, were to weary my spirit. One thing I know, that a sudden numbness of the spiritual life within me left me a worse man than I had been before the day of my cutting off, and that I did soon lose the little I had of human love and tenderness. My gun had been put in the boat, and with that I ranged the cliffs and the moor from the Mull Hills that lie to the west of Cregneesh to the Chasms that are to the east of it. Many puffins I shot, that much frequent these shores, but their flesh was rank and salt, and they were scarcely worth the powder I spent on them. Thus it sometimes happened that, being in no straits for food, I cast the birds away, or did not put myself to the pains of lifting them up after they fell to my gun, but went on, nevertheless, to destroy them in my wanton humour. Rabbits I snared by a trick I learned when a boy, and sometimes cooked them in the stove and ate them like a Christian man, and at other times I sat me down on the hill-side and rived them asunder as a wild creature of the hills might do. But whether I ate in my boat or on the cliff, I took no religion to my table, and thought only that I liked my food or mis. liked it.

Many times in these first days I had to tear myself away from thinking of my condition, for to do so was like the stab of a knife to my brain, and I plainly saw that in that way madness itself would lie. If I told myself that other men had been cast alone ere now in desolate places where no foot of man was and no sound of a human voice, a great stroke would come upon my spirit with the thought that only their bodies had been cast away, but that my soul was too. The marooned seaman on an uninhabited island, when at length he set eyes on his fellow-man, might lift up his heart to God, but to me the company of men was not blessed. Free I was to go where men were, even to the towns wherein they herded together, but go where I would I must yet be alone.

With this thought, and doubting not that for me the day of grace was past and gone, since God had turned His face from the atonement I had erewhile been minded to make, I grew day by day more bitter in my heart, and found it easiest to shut my mind by living actively from hour to hour. Then, like a halfstarved hound, I went abroad at daybreak and scoured the hills the day long, and returned to my bed at night. I knew I was a baser thing than I had been, and it brought some comfort then to know that I was alone, and no eye saw me as I now was. Mine was a rank hold of life, and it gave me a savage delight unknown before to live by preying on other creatures. I shot and slew daily and hourly, and if for a moment I told myself that what I had killed held its life on the same tenure that I did, my humanity was not touched except to feel a strange wild thrill that it was not I that lay dead. Looking back over these seven years, it comes to me as an unnatural thing that this mood can ever have been mine; but mine it was, and from the like of it may God in His mercy keep all Christian men.

One day-I think it must have been somewhere towards the end of the first month of my outcast state-I was ranging the cliff side above the grey rocks of the Black Head when I chanced on a hare and shot it. On coming up with it, I found it was lean and bony, and so turned aside and left it as it squeaked and bounced from my feet. This was in the morning, and towards nightfall I returned by the same way, and saw the hare lying by a brookside, ragged and bleeding, but still alive. At sight of me the wee thing tried to move away, but its weakness and a clot of its blood kept it down, and feeling its extremity, it lifted its two slender paws in the air, while its glistening eyes streamed visibly, and set up a piteous cry like the cry of a little child. I cannot write what then I did, for it wounds me sore to think of it, but when it was done, and that piteous cry was no more in mine ears, suddenly I said with myself this awful word

" I am no longer a man, but a beast of the field; and the God of mercy and of tenderness has cast me for ever out of the hollow of His hand."


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