[From Mannin #9,1917]
(Continued from page 397)
THE sun was setting as Thorid returned from her visit to a sick wife at the head of Lough Cranstal. She came by the path over the ridge and now stood to gaze across the cold, white land- scape. Behind her the low lands of the Ayre reached out into a sea of indigo, curtained by a thick grey cloud.
Below, the black waters of the narrow, winding lake reflected a few warm, fleecy clouds, drifting slowly south. wards through a clear sky; the low hills of Bride hid the plain spreading to the foot of the mountains; above them, in the distance, the white top of Barrule, clean-cut against the sky, caught the last rays of the sun with tints of rosy-pink and violet shadows. Notwithstanding the snow there was in the still air a feeling of spring- indeed it was already a fortnight since the sun had entered the sign of the Ram. But it was not the spring nor the landscape that filled the mind of Thorid ; her thoughts were of Juan, who on that day was to go to tend his father's sheep. The place where he was working was below her line of vision, but she was thinking of him, and she was feeling how the words of the Preacher would have been in the mind of Donal McAloe- ' Chastise thy son and hold him to labour'; at the same time she doubted if he would be long content to be herd- ing those few sheep on the mountain.
At that very hour Juan, with Heremon his brother, was at the bothie above the glen; they were looking towards Cranstal and the Point of Ayre. Heremon had pointed out the position of the mouth of the Lhen, where first the Vikings had landed in Mann. At Gob Gurrom, a little to the north of it, was the earthwork fort which they had set up to defend their landing-the Cashtal Ree Gorree. ' I cannot see the fort,' quoth Juan, 'is it still in use ?'
'It is meant not to be seen. Close by it, is a mound where some hero has been laid to earth. but neither from the sea nor from the land near by could you say which was which; both look like natural hillocks. Watch and ward are kept there, however. You remember Krale, who comes in to our races ? He is captain there now.'
' I remember Krale-a stout man with a red beard like Thor.'
'Had Thor a red beard?'
'He had so,' answered Juan, 'and when he blows through his beard men say it is lightning. Thorid told me so. When I was staying at Cranstal she took me to see a wonderful stone at the Kirk, which is carved all over with figures of Thor with his beard. It shows, too, the chief of the Giants whose head Thor smashed with his hammer, and the mighty Serpent coiled round the earth beneath the sea, Thor's hammer was its bane, but the poisoned breath of the dying monster choked Thor that he too died.'
' So then, Thor was slain ? '
'All the old gods were slain. But Father Gill-Woirrey says that Thor is now the Devil ! '
So they talked together. The ewes had been penned and supplied with food and shelter for the night, the little murley cow had been milked and bedded down in her stall; and now Niel came out from the dairy, and they followed him into the dwelling to prepare their evening meal.
By the middle of April the continuous snow gave place to mist with showers of sleet; then, when at lastthe sun burst through, the green patches grew larger, and soon spread over the face of the land ; finally, came the north wind to dry the sodden surface. Soon after the lambs began to come, two active dairy-maids were sent up from Clenaig, and took up their quarters at the further end of the long, low building, Niel and the two boys having the end towards the east. Then came a busy time and an anxious one for Niel ; luckily, all the lambs seemed strong and healthy, but one of the ewes gave birth to two, and this he thought was an evil portent. 'Not so,' quoth Juan. 'it is a sign of plenty, and will bring us luck.' .
'I wish it may,' quoth Niel, 'but I wot well there is ones in would like to have our lambs and our sheep too, if they could come by them.' One of the twins was brought in to the house and carefully nursed by the boys, but Niel would take no notice of it. The ewes were now able to pasture outside the pen, and when driven out, would make a rush for the 'oayl,' or feeding ground in the winding banks of the little stream, which they knew to have the sweetest herbage, and where, with their lambs playing around, they would find shelter ; but at night the lambs were folded. In the morning the ewes would be brought in to an adjoining pen and milked; then the stone was removed from the hole in the wall which divided the pens, so that the lambs could get to them one by one. The milk was made into little cheeses which rapidly grew in number.
Soon they began to talk of Boaldyn, and their spare time was spent in gathering bons and branches, which they dragged to the highest point at the south-west cor ner of the Park Moar. Niel told them of an oak tree fallen across the stream down the glen, and with great labour they trimmed from it some stout poles which, with brush- wood and branches, they made their ponies drag up to the spot. The remains of the last charred post were taken out and a new one set in its place; then they gathered a quantity of dead leaves and fern and gorse and small sticks, round which they built a pile of dry wood. Oie Voaldyn or May Eve broke with east wind and Barrule was hidden all day with mist, but towards even the wind went down. the sun appeared, and the face of the land grew clear. The Beltane was a solemn ceremony. The lambs having been folded, Niel and the boys went indoors for their evening meal, and afterwards walked round the premises, hung up the cuirn crosses, and secured the doors, then they strewed the threshold and sills with marshmallow which the boys had brought up from the meadows; they then made for the pile. Juan thought they would have kindled it with live peats from their fire, but Niel would not hear of that. Their fires must be put out, and he would kindle the pile by calling down natural fire according to old-time custom. He made use of two dried pieces of oak. The neat-herd was there and the dairy-maids and several others, watching and wondering and talking. It seemed very slow work, but curiosity held the boys patient, and at last they could see a faint smoke, and then the tinder caught. Just as the sun was setting Niel was able to fire the dried leaves and gorse, and very soon there was a blaze and much smoke, which grew to a great fire and a mighty furnace of heat. By now the evening breeze from the land had freshened and all rejoiced to see the smoke carried across the park. The boys then followed the neat-herd and Niel's son, making for the entrance in the north wall of the park; but Niel stayed at his own fire, moving round it with gestures and incantations, designed to keep off witches and warlocks and all evil powers from the sheep and the lambs which were in his charge.
But, at the entrance they had two fires, one at each side of the gate. When these were well alight and they had grown tired of watching, the boys moved on to the high lhergy above Keeill Woirrey, carrying burning brands and setting fire to the patches of gorse as they passed. Here the men of Ballure had built a big fire, which was seen from the bay, from Rafnsey, and from the plain round about. But the biggest fire was that on Slieau Dhoo,-the name given to the northern face of Slieu Aig-across the glen, and later on they all went over to visit it. This, and the one on Scacatell, were the great beacons of Rafnsey, connecting with the beacons as far as Jurby head on the one hand and Maughold head on the other. Long previously, a large platform had been formed, and besides its use as a warning beacon, the four great festival fires of the year were built and kindled upon it by the men of Slieau Aig. A crowd of people were assembled, for from it all the fires of Ayre and many of those of Garff were to be seen, so that the whole land seemed to be ablaze. Here our boys stayed till midnight, when, as they said 'the fire was at the height of its majesty,' but Conall persuaded them to go home with him. He gave them some hot milk, and set them on their way to the bothie. The moon was in her last quarter, the light of the stars fell faintly through the haze, and patches of burning gorse cast dark shadows in the way, but their young eyes were accustomed to dark- ness, and they had no difficulty in picking their steps. Tired and excited, they made for home, and were glad to tumble into their bed of straw. Niel had not come in, and they missed their pet lamb. At sunrise they were awakened by the return of Niel, who kindled the fire ; they went with him when he went to milk the cow, and met the dairy-maids returning from bathing their faces in the dew of Laa Voaldyn. The boys thought they should do the same; they told of the lost lamb, and how Niel had said it would have been taken by the witches. 'Indeed then,' quoth Hilda, 'if it was taken by the witches it was because Niel, the old beishteig, gave it to them. What was he doing by himself, going mumbling round and round that fire all night?'
Finding that Tom Beg, the neat-herd, was now about to drive the cattle from their winter's shelter in the park, they caught their ponies, rounded them up, and drove them with wands of rowan between the two fires, the ashes of which were still smouldering. So would they safely pass, free from ill-luck and evil influences, to pasture on the luxuriant herbage of the tops. Then they went to seek plovers' eggs, for they were hungry. But Niel drove all the ewes round the embers of his own special fire before bringing them into the pen. He said it would save them from foot-rot. When they met him coming to attend to the calf they charged him with taking their lamb. 'Well,' quoth Niel, 'if you want to know, Sheb mee eh son oural dy hauail adsyn to Ermayen jeh nyn shioltane + ; and if I had been gadding about like you in the night, and had not been looking after them, there would have been neither ewes nor lambs left for us. The boys said it was a shame, but their conscience smote them, for they had quite forgotten their charges. They went off rather shamefacedly to help the maids milk the ewes and to attend to the lambs.
The last week in May they rode over to meet the men from Clenaig and dig turf at Snaefell. When they got tired of this they made their ponies carry them to the top of the mountain, but coming down without saddles or bridles was not so easy; their small, sure-footed, un- shod ponies however were getting used to their ways and brought them back to the peat bogs without mishap.
Summer came, and now they made ready for the sheep-shearing; a small pool was formed by damming the stream with sods, and here they were roughly washed, then driven into the pen and, relieved of their heavy fleeces. It was warm work and tiring, and the boys were glad when it was done. Now, too, they were pre- paring for the midsummer fires, and determined to have one on the very top of Barrule. Other herd-grooms from Ballure, Cardle and from Corna came to help, and they thought their Balder's balefire would be as fine as any they could see around. They spent the night in the ling, looking up at the Seven Stars and noting- others which they knew, chattering like young birds in their nest till sleep fell on them and there was silence.
At sunrise they returned to the bothie; then they drove out the ewes and the lambs and led them across the bogs, where the tracks were grown sufficiently dry, to graze for the rest of the summer on the face of the mountain. Heremon had now to leave as he was wanted to help in the hay; Juan, left to himself, found amuse- ment with his pipes and exercise with his sling, while he and Niel kept guard over the sheep, making their beds in the heather.
One morning, late in September, he climbed, as often, to the top of Barrule to have a look around. He saw three ships sailing in from the west and thought they looked like long-ships. Godred, he knew, had gone to Ireland to marry his daughter Affrica to John de Courcy, Lord of Ulster; could he be coming home or would this be a message from him? But why, he wondered, did they not make direct for Purt-ny-Hinsey at S. Patrick's Isle, or else for Rafnsey. They came straight for the coast as though to land at the Lhen. As they neared the land he saw a thin column of blue smoke rising from Knock-y-doonee. They must be enemy ships, and this a signal which would be taken up at the Cronk Mooar, Jurby, and so carried to S. Patrick's Isle. Would Fogolt, the vice-roy, be there, or would he be cruising off the south of the Island? As he wondered he noticed another pillar of smoke from Scacafell. So the signal had been answered, and now the men of Ratnsey would know that there was danger. Juan remembered that a ship was a-building there, but would she be ready to put to sea? He came to tell Niel, who went up the hill with him to watch what would happen. The ships were now under the land and they could see no more. Returning to their flock, they kept an eye on Rafnsey; with the afternoon tide a boat put out, and, Juan climbing the mountain again, saw two more coming from S. Patrick's Isle. Then there was some movement off the Lhen, and one of the hostile ships was putting out to sea. She would escape,-but no; the wind was against her, and now the Rafnsey vessel had rounded the Point of Ayre and was bearing away to the west, then turning and having the breeze behind her came with sails and oars at great speed on her prey. It looked to Juan as though she would ram her, but she ran up alongside, and for a long time the two lay locked together, drifting before the wind. Meantime, the larger of the King's ships came up and must have been within bow-shot, when, with relief, they saw the other two part and turn in to land, till all were out of sight. Juan said he must go down and learn what had happened; he would send a boy up for the night and himself return on the morrow.
'It is well for the sheep,' quoth Niel, that I am here. Are you not a-feared lest one will say to you-"I know thy pride and the naughtiness of thy heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle ? "'
Juan laughed and said ' You ought to have been a preacher, Niel.'
At Clenaig Juan told what he had seen. News had already arrived of the landing, and that Arni had manned their new ship and put out to sea, so they were relieved to learn that she had captured one of the enemy and that the others bad not escaped. After the evening meal at home he went on to Rafnsey, and stayed the night with Robert the Bowyer. Runners came in with the news, and their ship came home with the tide. They heard that it was one Reginald, a man of royal race from Ulster, who, knowing of Godred's absence, and believing that there was a strong party against him in the Island, thought to try his luck, and hoped at least to lift some booty and carry off prisoners to be sold into slavery. He had made good his landing in the face of a small body of coast-warders, then turned to seize the fort or bribe them to a surrender. His smallest ship entered the Lhen with flowing tide and landed men about a mile inland, the boat going back; another lot pushed on to S. Patrick's Church, then, forming a junction with the first towards Sandygate, swept the land of such cattle and sheep as had not been driven beyond their reach, and drove them to a strand-slaughtering at the mouth of the Lhen ; they had secured a dozen captives, most of them badly wounded. But Mylvartin of Knock-y-Dhoonee, with men from Leodest, Ballawhane and Ballacolum had hacked a way through and relieved the fort, chasing the gallow- glasses to the mouth of the river; here they made a stand on a rise at a bend of the stream, and were re- inforced by the bands returning from inland. But these were closely followed by the men of Bretney, and of Berrag. Reginald himself with a score of men waded the stream and escaped to their largest vessel, putting off when they heard that ships were coming up from S. Patrick's Isle. The rest fought on till every man had fallen. Krale's house at Ballalhen had been fired and about a score of Manxmen were slain. Later, the Manx were buried at the Kirk and at the little Keeill by the side of the Lhen ; the enemy dead were collected and buried at Cronk Bing, where they had made their stand and fallen like heroes.
Juan was approaching his fourteenth summer when he heard from Aloe Mac Aloe that a special Thing of all the people was to be held at the Cronk Keeill Eoin on May day. The old man said he might not be able to attend another, and that Juan had better come and see it while he was still there to offer the hospitality of his booth. It was on the eve of Beltane that Callybrid with her girls was returning from Ballure, where they had been to see Mac Aloe off to the Thing. They were coming back with Fritha, who was to stay the night at Clenaig, and Father Daniel, when, nearing the Howe, they saw upon it the figure of an archer with his long-bow in his hand. ' Why,' quoth Fritha, 'it is Juan.' He said that he had come to join their party to S. John's, and they walked along together till they reached Clenaig, where, about the hour of Tierce, they sat them down to their day-meal. But when Donal heard what Juan wanted, he said it might not be. Juan said nothing, but after the meal he laid aside his bow and exchanged his gay archer's attire for the grey- wadmal of every day use.
And now, the travellers having made their confessions and been shriven by Father Daniel, they mounted, and forming their little procession, started for the hills; Donal on his old grey mare, Callybrid on Juan's pony and Etain on Heremon's, with old Thorkel bringing up the rear and leading a well-laden pack-horse. The young folks kept up with the horses along the winding track to the tops, and so almost to the walls of the Park Mooar; for it was needful to get well up the hill in order to round the head of the Braaid foss and the Lag Keeill Vael. His mother kept Juan by her side, talking of many things; but he was very quiet. At the park he left them and went back to his sheep and to help Niel with the May fires. The others dropped out and returned to the farm, where the Bowyer was to stay the night and take charge of them. They had music and dancing and stories of olden times, and when a beggar-man came to claim a night's hospitality, there were more stories and more merry laughter. At sunset they all went out to see the fires.
Juan, having started the fires with Niel, went back early to the bothie ; there he kindled the house fire and baked himself a bonag, then went to sleep. He was up again before sunrise and, blowing up the peats and throwing some sticks on the fire, soon had a light by which he made an early meal of milk and cheese and oaten bread; then taking his bonag, went out to look for a spare pony. He jumped on its back, without saddle, without bit or bridle, and set forth from the park, pas- sing in the mist the hissing embers of the fires at the entrance, and followed the track to Snaefell. Rounding Clagh Ouyre, he had to keep well up to the rocks so as to secure a firm footing; the mist was still thick as he passed the turf diggings on the coll and the huge bulk of Snaefell was completely hidden from view. On turning the head of Lhergyrhenny stream he overtook Mac Aloe of Cardle and a lusty beggar-man who had come up from Corna. They had reached the cross-ways and were turning sharply to the right to pass over the northern slope of Pen-y-Pot, when the beggar exclaimed that early as it was they were not the first on the road. He pointed to a large, low mound at the corner of the ways where they could see the sprawling figure of a man. 'Who are you,' cried Cardle, 'looking so wan and so white, like a leek lying bleached in the sun ?' The man rose slowly and followed them. '"This will not be a lucky day,' quoth he, 'and you might be doing as well at home.'
'I think you have been "sitting out"' quoth Cardle, 'and I do not know but what you should have been burnt last night with the other witches.'
On the shoulder of Pen-y-Pot they arrived at their highest point, then rounded the head of the stream which flowed by Crammag. The mist was lifting as they came to the watershed from which, on their right, they looked upon the source of the river that winding through the rocky Glen Mooar and by Solvi's Byre, turned on reach- ing the northern plains, to find its way through gravel and bog and banks of sand and of clay, till it got to the sea at Rafnsey. To their left, the track which they were to take followed another stream, the Neb that, sharply turning at Cronk Fedjag, passed between Bearey moun- tain and the Ballavaaish, then, turning again at Ballig, flowed round to the west of S. John's plateau and, joined by the stream from Foxdale, glided smoothly in broad and shallow bed to the Port at AS. Patrick's Isle. Juan now turned his pony back to find its way home. It was barely half-past Prime, but he offered to share his boanag which, with a piece of cheese and a drink from the peaty stream would serve as a day meal. Cardle and the beggar however were also provided, so they found a sheltered bank and sat them in the ling near Cronk Dhoo. 'But where is the man?' asked Juan. He had dis- appeared without anyone noticing it. But Cardle said ' I felt he was a warlock in my five wits, and we are as well to be quit of him.' Presently they found Mac Pherick setting out for the Thing, and further down the Earey, his ploughman having a day off joined their party, so they made their way together through the lush grass to Lundr. Here they found the Miller from the glen near Michael Kirk, and were joined by two of the King's Foresters, who had spent the night in the Keeill on Cronk Fedjag, about three furlongs to the north. They crossed the stream and went up the hill southwards towards Bearey for another two or three furlongs when they passed by a little disused Keeill which, being set on a hillock and surrounded by a stout earthen fence, had the appearance of a small fort. When they looked back from a higher level they could see the Keeill itself within its small enclosure, glittering in the morning sun, for it was built almost entirely of great boulders of white quartz. Coming to the heavy, rounded shoulder- of Bearey, the rising mist revealed to their gaze the mass of rock that looked like a huge caern, crowning its top. 'See how the Fairies are creeping up,' cried the Ploughman, but Juan could only see the grey wisps of passing mist. They crossed the brook which flowed down to the Rhenas, then turned westwards along the ridge. Presently they spied in front of them the figure of an aged priest making for the Keeill on Earey Glass. Cardle said that 'with so many warlocks about it would be well to be shriven, he would go and hear Mass.' Mac Pheric and the Ploughman said 'yea' thereto, but the Miller said 'That is well enough for women and priests, certes a man may be housled once a year, but if he lead an honest life what need has he to hear Mass so often ?'
' Who ever heard of an honest miller?' quoth the Forester. With that, the wrathful Miller, who was no coward, would belabour him with his staff. They had a stiff bout, the Beggar, the other Forester and Juan keeping the ring. But the Forester caught him a clout on the pate and he lay like a log on the ling. ' Time,' cried the Forester.
'Peter,' quoth the. Beggar, 'he is dead.' With that the Beggar went in to the Keeill, and the two Foresters crept up to the door. Juan wondered if he were really dead and turned him into an easier position, with his head in the shade. When they fared forth from the Kirk, Cardle and Mac Pheric came to look at him. Then the priest, he who had that Keeill, kneeled by his side ' He breathes,' quoth he, ' and his head is bleeding, he will not be so badly hurt,' He let bear him in to the Keeill and they laid him on the earthen floor. The priest said he was going a-fishing in the stream below and would be back before long to see to him. Then he set them on their way through the wooded gill, till they reached the ford at the entrance to the main glen between Lambfell and Bearey and Ballavaaish. They came upon some thorp-dwellers and cot-caries in the glen where they passed below another little Keeill perched on the western elbow of Bearey. They now followed a broad and level track winding between steep and rocky preci- pices of slate and loose shale on their right but more open swelling downs on the left. Though more open however, it was no lighter, and by the time they reached Ballig and turned again westward to the mill it was growing cooler and still more dark and yet the sky was clear. At the mill they left the stream and were crossing the low hill to Keeill Eoin, when they were startled by a cry from the Beggar. He had been gazing up at the sun and called out that half of it had been bitten off ! Then did each one act according to his conscience. Mac Pherick would have turned back, but was yet more fear- ful of being left alone ; he tried to say a prayer, but the words would not come. The stolid Ploughman took it as part of the day's work. The Foresters blustered that no trolls should stop them when on their way to the King; one said, 'Your friend the Miller will now be thinking that he has been blinded by your blow,' and they continued to talk much and loud to keep up their courage. Cardle crossed himself but was unperturbed. The Beggar thought the end of the world was come. Juan felt pricked, but rather for his surly behaviour to his mother than for his disobedience to his father; he put up a little prayer to S. John, after whom he was named, and sud- denly he thought of Thorid showing him the Thor cross at Kirk Bride and telling the story of the hounds that hunted the Sun and the Moon across the skies; remem- bering that this was the old heathen explanation of the Eclipse, he was comforted. 'It is not the end of the world,' quoth he, 'but an eclipse of the Sun '
' I never saw one before,' said Cardle, 'and am glad to do so now.'
As they walked along he said, ' I mind me once in Normandy walking through a great forest of trees; the light penetrated everywhere, but it was a dead light with no ray of the sun; methought it was a fairy-land of grey shadows.'
'It is like a midsummer night,' quoth Juan. And then he asked, 'How much further is it to Keeill Eoin ?' 'We shall be there in a pater-noster while,' answered Cardle.
At last they reached the Thing-vollr, or, natural level plateau set in a plain surrounded by hills and about half a mile long from east to west by between one and two furlongs from north to south. Upon this low plateau stood Keeill Eoin and the Cronk ; here the Court was held and the laws were declared. Coming to it at the north-west end, they approached a large mound.
Is that the Law-Hill?' asked Juan.
' It is not the Cronk Keeill Eoin or Law-Berg,' answered Cardle; ' I guess that some old hero is here laid to earth, there have been many battles here. Over yonder is another mound, and there are more round about. But the Law-berg is before us, in a line with
Keeill Eoin and with Gneba hill, which you see against the sky, away in the east.' Juan noted through the gathering gloom that the rounded surface of the Cronk had been cut into four broad steps or platforms. The flickering lights of the candles on the altar could be seen through the open door and the small windows of the Keeill.
'It is High-Mass,' quoth Cardle. They spake in low tones. In the darkness they could distinguish a move- ment as of many people around the little building, while shadows flitted by between them and the crowd. To the south they could make out the outlines of the King's booth, with his flag flying, and those of the Four-and- Twenty; more shadows were in movement between the booths and the Keeill. There were many watchers on the steep breast of Slieau Whallian, about half a mile to the south-west, but these they could not see. ' It is darker than ever and cold,' said Juan with a shiver, 'how black the shadows are.' Then, suddenly,-' Look, look the Stars are coming out!'
' By Saint Mary of heaven 1' said Cardle, looking up. ' I have seen the stars in the day-tide, but that was early in the morn or late at eventide. It is very strange, and now, look, nothing of the Sun is visible.'
They heard the thin tinkle of a bell and all the people kneeled upon the ground. It was the elevation of the Host. After a while of perfect stillness there came a movement and a whispering, and a sigh of relief as word went round,-'A miracle!' Juan looked up ; he saw the other edge of the Sun; the eclipse was passing. It seemed to eager watchers that the light returned more quickly than the darkness had fallen ; no longer could they see the winking of the candles, a beam shone brightly from the Sun, and people rose up and talked and moved about. When the King came forth from the Keeill with his officers of state, and men hastening from the booths, were marshalled by their Law-men for the procession to the Hill, it looked once more like May-day at high noon. Some men were passing by them and Juan, pleased to recognise a well-known friend so far from home, called out to Thorliot the Icelander, who came up and greeted them. They stood upon the howe from which they could see what was going on. The crowds thronged, stretching from the Keeill to the Hill, but a broad path was left, which was strewn with green rushes. Mooars, Toisechs and other officials came first; then such of the Four-and-Twenty as were on the Island; these were the Keise, the 'chosen' men from among the bondirs and the landed men.
' But what a lot of priests,' quoth Juan.
At one side of each of the Keise walked a priest in his cassock, at his other side, another man.
'It looks a lot of priests,' said Thorliot, 'because we are standing on this side of them. You know that each of your Keys, or, as we should say in Iceland, Godes, brings two of the best men from his own Thing to advise him with his local knowledge, and now it seems to have grown into a custom that one of these should be a priest, the other an Arman. If the Thing-man or Key were himself an Arman he would have a Bonder who knows the laws and customs of his Thing.'
'Like Aloe Mac Aloe,' said Cardle. 'See there he is, the fine old man, and who has he with him but your father, Juan.'
' He has forsooth,' said Juan, 'and on this side of him walks Father Gillchreest from Maughold Kirk.' After a pause, he added, ' I wonder where my mother is ?'
' Is your mother here, Juan ? Then must we look for her; we must take her some fairings also.'
'Wait a while,' asked Juan, 'till they are on the Hill; I want to see what they will do. Who are the two men now coming, side by side ?'
'Those,' answered Thorliot, ' are the Law-speakers, your two Deemsters. They guide the judgment of the Keise and declare their dooms; it is theirs also to tell all the laws at least once during their term of office.'
'They must have good memories,' quoth Juan. Landed-men and men of the King's household fol- lowed. Then asked Juan, 'Who are these two in long robes and strange caps, each having a Staff carried before him ?'
'The big man,' answered Cardle, 'who carries him- self so well though so aged, is Bishop Michael who is a Manxman. The little wizened one by his side is the Abbot of Rushen, a foreigner ; and these three Clerks in their surplices that follow are bearers of the three Sacred Relics.'
'Now,' quoth Juan, ' I know who this is. Only the King could walk and look like that, and a man is carrying a naked sword, point upwards, before him. He is very noble to look upon. Is that boy by his side his son?' 'That is Olaf his son and they are followed by the Captain of the Guard; and those men in green jerkins and breeches with high brown hoots are archers of the King's body-guard.'
On the top of the Hill chairs had been placed for the King, with the Bishop on his right and the Abbot on his left. The Landed-men and the Officers stood around on the same dais, the Keise below with their assessors in front of and behind them, and the people at the foot of the Hill. One of the Deemsters stood forth, a young- looking man of goodly presence. He announced that at the Thing duly summoned and regularly held that day at the hour of Tierce, 'while the Sun was in the sky,' it had been agreed to and doomed that the King should name his successor to the throne whom they would receive as Tanist, 'and now King we would ask thee to declare thy choice.'
There was silence as Godred arose and advanced a pace. A right kingly figure was he, taller than most and well made, with a ruddy countenance and blue eves; his yellow beard was growing grey but he held himself upright and looked a tower of strength. ' I will make known to the chiefs and all my people my intention which I want to have carried out;' so he spake in loud, clear tones that all could hear, 'it is my will that my son Olaf should be King when the time has come for me to fare to God, He has grown up among you and is known to you and you to him. He is young but will, I hope, be older ere he is called upon to take my place. I bid you therefore, to support him in the succession and to swear faith and fealty to him as to myself.' All the people answered, 'It is well said, so will we have it and Olaf will we support.'
The other Deemster stood up, a wise and aged man, slight of build but hale. 'Now have ye taken Olaf, God- red's son, as Tanist and sworn to support him as heir and successor to the throne. Let the King therefore receive the Prince and distinguish him with some mark of his favour.' But Thorketill, one of the Keise from the out-isles, spake so that many could hear him,----'Speak for yourself, Manninagh, but methinks that Reginald, Godred's son, will not lack for backers should he say 'Nay' thereto. Michael the aged Bishop stood up and taking Olaf by the hand, led him to the King,-- 'This thy son Olaf, O King, whom the people have accepted as Tanist and sworn to support as your successor when in the wisdom of God the time is come for Him to call you to Himself, now bends the knee to thank you for your choosing and to become your man.' Olaf kneeled before his father and placing his hands in his swore faith and fealty; a boy of ten years old, he looked a slim, small figure at the knees of the grim warrior. The sun shone on his dark hair and on the golden circle which the King pressed upon his brow. ' Rise up, Olaf my son, may happiness and prosperity shine upon your reign as the Sun shines now'; and he kissed him on the forehead. 'May tjod bless you, my son,' said the good Bishop standing by. Then rose Godred and taking Olaf by the hand, presented him to the people who received him with shouts of gladness. The trumpets rang out, the Deemsters, Keise and Barons descended from the Hill, followed by Godred and Olaf walking side by side.
At the door of the Kt Bill Eoin the procession broke up, the Keise and others making for their booths. The King stooped low and entered the little Kirk. In the darkened building they could see Phinoola * kneeling before the altar; the priest was muttering his last prayer. Godred marched up and kneeled by the side of his beautiful Queen. For the great love he bore her had he done this thing. Taking her little hand in his he raised it tenderly to his lips.
Then Michael, the aged Bishop, hallowed the young Olaf as Tanist
+ I offered it as a sacrifice to save the rest of the flock.
* Fionualla, which in our Chronicle is Latinized into Phingola,
The Author would not have obtruded the above instalment of his story upon the readers of this, the final number of Miss Morrison's Magazine, had it not been one of her last requests. This he felt the more binding on him since Juan Priest in Cornadale would not have been written or even thought of but for her. He now proposes to complete the story and to publish it in some other form when the world has once more peace and the minds of men may turn to other thoughts than those of War.
THOR CROSS, KIRK BRIDE (Reduced from drawing by P.M.C.K.)