The Deemster (Chapters XXI to XXX)

Chapters XXI to XXX

CHAPTER XXI
THE VOICE IN THE NIGHT

HOWEVER bleak the night, however dark the mood of the world might be, there was a room in Ballamona that was bright with one beautiful human flower in bloom. Mona was there- Mona of the quiet eyes- and the silent ways and the little elfish head. It was Christmas Eve with her as with other people, and she was dressing the house in hibbin and hollin from a great mountain of both, that Hommy-beg had piled up in the hall. She was looking very smart and happy that night in her short body of homespun turned in from neck to waist, showing a white habit-shirt and a white handkerchief crossed upon it; a quilted over- skirt and linen apron that did not fall so low as to hide the open-work stockings and the sandal-shoes. Her room, too, was bright and sweet, with its glowing fire of peat and logs on the wide hearth, its lamp on the square oak table, and the oak settle drawn up between them. In one corner of the settle, bubbling and babbling and sputtering and cooing amid a very crater of red baize cushions, was Mona’s foster-child, Ewan’s motherless daughter, lying on her back and fighting the air with clenched fists.
While Mona picked out the hibbin from the hollin, dissected both, made arches and crosses and crowns and rosettes, and then sprinkled flour to resemble snow on the red berries and the green leaves, she sang an old Manx ballad in snatches, or prattled to the little one in that half-articulate tongue that comes with the instinct of motherhood to every good woman that God ever makes:-

rede ye beware of the Carrasdoo men As ye come up the wold;
rede ye beware of the haunted glen,

But a fretful whimper would interrupt the singer.
“Hush, hush, Ailee darling, hush.”
The whimper would be hushed, and again there would be a snatch of the ballad “In Jorby Curragh they dwell alone
By dark peat bogs, where the willows moan, Down in a gloomy and lonely glen-”
Once again the whimper would stop the song.
“Hush, darling; papa is coming to Ailee, yes; and Ailee will see papa, yes, and papa will see Ailee, yes, and Ailee-”
Then a long, low gurgle, a lovely head leaning over the back of the settle and dropping to the middle of the pillow like a lark to its nest in the grass, a long liquid kiss on the soft round baby legs, and then a perfect fit of baby laughter.
It was as pretty a picture as the world bad in it on that bleak Christmas Eve. Whatever tumult might reign without, there within was a nest of peace.
Mona was expecting Ewan at Ballamona that night, and now she was waiting for his coming. It was true that when he was there three hours ago it was in something like anger that they had parted, but Mona reeked nothing of that. She knew Ewan’s impetuous temper no better than his conciliatory spirit. He would come to-night as he had promised yesterday, and if there had been anger be. tween them it would then be gone.
Twenty times she glanced at the little clock with the lion face and the pendulum like a dog’s head that swung above the ingle. Many a time, with head aslant, with parted lips, and eyes alight, she cried “Hark!” to the little one when a footstep would sound in the hall. But Ewan did not come, and mean- time the child grew more and more fretful as her bed-time approached. At length Mona undressed her and carried her off to her crib in the room adjoining, and sang softly to her while she struggled hard with sleep under the oak hood with the ugly beasts carved on it, until sleep had conquered and all was silence and peace. Then, leaving a tallow dip burning on the table between the crib and the bed, lest perchance the little one should awake and cry from fear of the darkness, Mona went back to her sitting-room to finish off the last bunch of the hibbin and bollin.
The last bunch was a bit of prickly green, with a cluster of the reddest berries, and Mona hung it over a portrait of her brother, which was painted by a great artist from England when Ewan was a child. The Deemster had turned the portrait out of the dining- room after the painful interview at Bishop’s Court about the loan and surety, and Mona had found it, face to the wall,` in a lumberroom. She looked at it now with a new interest. When she hung the hollin over it she recognised for the first time a resemblance to the little Aileen whom she had just put to bed. How strange it seemed that Ewan had once been a child like Ailee!
Then she began to feel that Ewan was late in coming, and to make conjectures as to the cause of his delay. Her father’s house was fast becoming a cheerless place to her. More than ever the Deemster was lost to her. Jarvis Kerruish, her stranger brother, was her father’s companion; and this seemed to draw her closer to Ewan for solace and cheer.
Then she sat on the settle to thread some loose berries that had fallen, and to think of Dan-the high-spirited, reckless, rollicking, headstrong, tender-hearted, thoughtless, brave, stubborn, daring, dear, dear Dan-Dan, who was very, very much to her in her great loneliness. Let other people rail at Dan if they would; he was wrapped up with too many of her fondest memories to allow of disloyalty like that. Dan would yet justify her belief in him. Oh yes, he would yet be a great man, all the world would say it was so, and she would be very proud that he was her cousin -yes, her cousin, or perhaps, -perhaps. And then, without quite daring to follow up that delicious train of thought, even in her secret heart, though none might look there and say if it was unmaidenly, Mona came back to the old Manx ballad, and sang to herself another verse of it “Who has not heard of Adair, the youth?
Who does not know that his soul was truth? Woe is me! how smoothly they speak,
And Adair was brave, and a man, but weak.”
All at once her hand went up to her forehead, and the words of the old song seemed to have a new significance. Hardly had her voice stopped and her last soft note ceased to ring in the quiet room, when she thought she heard her own name called twice-” Mona! Mona l”
The voice was Ewan’s voice, and it seemed to come from her bedroom. She rose from the settle, and went into her room. There was no one there save the child. The little one was disturbed in her sleep at the moment,, and was twisting restlessly, making a faint cry. It was very strange. The voice had been Ewan’s voice, and it had been deep and tremulous as the voice of one in trouble.
Presently the child settled itself to sleep, all was silent as before, and Mona went back to the sitting-room. Scarcely was she seated afresh when she heard the voice again, and it again called her twice by name, °`Mona! Mona! ” in the same tremulous tone, but very clear and distinct.
Then tremblingly Mona rose once more and went into her room, for thence the -voice seemed to come. No one was there. The candle burned fitfully, and suddenly the child cried in its sleep-that strange night cry that freezes the blood of one who is awake to hear it. It was very, very strange.
Feeling faint, hardly able to keep on her feet, Mona went back to the sitting-room and opened the door that led into the hall. No one seemed to be stirring. The door of her father’s study opposite was closed, and there was talking-the animated talking of two persons-within.
Mona turned back, closed her door quietly, and then, summoning all her courage, she `walked to the window and drew the heavy curtains aside. The hoops from which they hung rattled noisily over the pole. Putting her face close to the glass, and shading her eyes from the light of the lamp behind her, she looked out. She saw that the snow had fallen since the lamp had been lit at dusk. There was snow on the ground, and thin snow on the leafless boughs of the trees. She could see nothing else. She even pushed up the sash and called: “Who is there?”
But there came no answer. The wind moaned about the house and the sea rumbled in the distance. She pulled the sash down again.
Then, leaving the curtain drawn back, she turned again into the room, and, partly to divert her mind from the mysterious apprehensions that had seized it, she sat down at the little harpsichord that stood on the farther side of the ingle against the wall that ran at right angles from the window.
At first her fingers ran nervously over the keys, but they gained force as she went on, and the volume of sound seemed to dissipate her fears.
“It is nothing,” she thought. “I have been troubled about what Ewan said to-day, and I’m nervous-that is all.”
And as she played her eyes looked not at the finger-board, but across her shoulder towards the bare window. Then suddenly there came to her a sensation that made her flesh creep. It was as if from the darkness outside there were eyes which she could not see looking steadily in upon her where she sat.
Her blood rushed to her head, she felt dizzy, the playing ceased, and she clung by one hand to the candle-rest of the harpsichord. Then once more she distinctly heard the same deep, tremulous voice call her by her name “Mona! Mona!”
Faint and all but reeling she rose again, and again made her way to the bedroom. As before, the child was restless in her sleep.
It seemed as if all the air were charged. Mona had almost fallen from fright, when all at once she heard a sound that she could not mistake, and instantly she recovered some self possession.
It was the sound of the window of her sitting-room being thrown open from without.! She ran back, and saw Dan Mylrea climbing, ‘Into the room.
“Dan!” she cried. “Mona.”
“Did you call?”
“When?”
“Now-a little while ago?”
“No.”
A great trembling shook Dan’s whole frame. Mona perceived it, and a sensation of disaster not vet attained to the clearness of an idea took hold of her.
“Where is Ewan?” she said.
He tried to avoid her gaze. “Why do you ask for him? ” said Dan in a faltering voice.
“Where is he?” she asked again.
He grew dizzy, and laid hold of the settle for support. The question she asked was that which he had come to answer, but his tongue clave to his mouth.
Very pale and almost rigid from the heaviness of a great fear which she felt but could not understand, she watched him when he reeled like a drunken man.
“He has called me three times. Where is he? He was to be here to-night,” she said.
“Ewan will not come to-night,” he answered, scarcely audibly; “not to-night, Mona, or tomorrow-or ever-no, he will never come again.”
The horrible apprehension that had taken hold of her leapt to the significance of his words, and, almost before he had spoken, a cry burst from her.
“Ewan is dead-he is dead; Mona, our Ewan, he is dead,” he faltered.
She dropped to the settle, and cried, in the excess of her first despair, “Ewan, Ewan, to think that I shall see him no more! ” and then she wept. All the time Dan stood over her, leaning heavily to bear himself up, trembling visibly, and with a look of great agony fixed upon her, as if he had not the strength to turn his eyes away.
“Yes, yes, our Ewan is dead,” he repeated in a murmur that came up from his heart. “The truest friend, the fondest brother, the whitest soul, the dearest, bravest, purest, noblest – O God! O God! dead, dead I Worse, a hundredfold worse-Mona, he is murdered.”
At that she raised herself up, and a bewildered look was in her eyes.
“Murdered? No, that is not possible. He was beloved by all. There is no one who would kill him-there is no one alive with a heart so black.”
“Yes, Mona, but there is,” he said; “there is one man with a heart so black.”
“Who is he?”
“Who? He is the foulest creature on God’s earth. Oh, God in heaven! why was he born? ”
“Who is he?”
He bowed his head where he stood before her, and beads of sweat started from his brow.
“Cursed be the hour when that man was born!” he said in an awful whisper.
Then Mona’s despair came upon her like a torrent, and she wept long. In the bitterness of her heart she cried
“Cursed indeed, cursed for ever! Dan, Dan, you must kill him-you must kill that man.”
But at the sound of that word from her own lips the spirit of revenge left her on the instant, and she cried, “No, no, not that.” Then she went down on her knees and made a short and piteous prayer for forgiveness for her thought. ” O Father,” she prayed, “forgive me. I did not know what I said. But Ewan is dead! O Father, our dear Ewan is murdered. Some black-hearted man has killed him. Vengeance is Thine. Yes, I know that. O Father, forgive me. But to think that Ewan is gone for ever, and that base soul lives on. Vengeance is Thine; but, O Father, let Thy vengeance fall upon him. If it is Thy will, let Thy hand be on him. Follow him, Father; follow him with Thy vengeance=”
She had flung herself on her knees by the settle, her upturned eyes wide open, and her two trembling hands held above her head. Dan stood beside her, and as she prayed a deep groan came up from his heart, his breast swelled, and his throat seemed to choke. At last he clutched her by the shoulders and interrupted her prayer, and cried, “Mona, Mona, what are you saying-what are you saying? Stop, stop!”
She rose to her feet. “I have done wrong,” she said more quietly. “He is in God’s hands. Yes, it is for God to punish him.”
Then Dan said in a heartrending voice “Mona, he did not mean to kill Ewan-they fought-it was all in the heat of blood.”
Once more he tried to avoid her gaze, and once more, pale and immovable, she watched his face.
“Who is he?” she asked with an awful calmness.
“Mona, turn your face away from me, and I will tell you,” he said.
Then everything swam about her, and her pale lips grew ashy.
“Don’t you know?” he asked in a whisper. She did not turn her face, and he was compelled to look at her now. His glaring eyes were fixed upon her.
“Don’t you know?” he whispered again; and then in a scarcely audible voice he said, It was I, Mona.”
At that she grew cold with horror. Her features became changed beyond recognition. She recoiled from him, stretched her trembling hands before her as if to keep him off.
“Oh, horror! Do not touch me!” she cried faintly through the breath that came so hard.
“Do not spare me, Mona,” he said in a great sob. “Do not spare me. You do right not to spare me. I have stained my hands with your blood.”
Then she sank to the settle and held her head, while he stood by her and told her all – all the bitter blundering truth – and bit by bit she grasped the tangled tale, and realised the blind passion and pain that had brought them to such a pass, and saw her own unwitting share in it.
And he on his part saw the product of his headstrong wrath, and the pitiful grounds for it, so small and so absurd as such grounds oftenest are. And together these shipwrecked voyagers on the waters of life sat and wept, and wondered what evil could be in hell itself if man in his blindness could find the world so full of it.
And Dan cursed himself and said: “Oh, the madness of thinking that if either were gone the other could ever again know one hour’s happiness with you, Mona. Ay, though the crime lay hidden, yet would it wither and blast every hour. And now, behold, at the first moment, I am bringing my burden of sin, too heavy for myself, to you. I am a coward-yes, I am a coward. You will turn your back upon me, Mona, and then I shall be alone.”
She looked at him with infinite compassion, and her heart surged within her as she listened to his voice of great agony.
“Ah me! and I asked God to curse you,” she said. “Oh, how wicked that prayer was! Will God hear it? Merciful Father, do not hear it. I did not know what I said. I am a blind, ignorant creature, but Thou seest and knowest best. Pity him, and forgive him. Oh no, God will not hear my wicked prayer.”
Thus in fitful outbursts she talked and prayed. It was as if a tempest had torn up every tie of her soul. Dan listened, and he looked at her with swimming eyes.
“And do you pray for me, Mona,” he said.
“Who will pray for you if I do not? In all the world there will not be one left to speak kindly of you if I speak ill. Oh, Dan, it will become known, and every one will be against you.”
“And can you think well of him who killed your brother?”
“But you are in such sorrow; you are so miserable.”
Then Dan’s great frame shook woefully, and he cried in his pain-“Mercy, mercy, have mercy! What have I lost? What love have I lost?”
At that Mona’s weeping ceased; she looked at Dan through her lashes, still wet, and said in another tone
“Dan, do not think me unmaidenly. If you had done well, if you had realised my hopes of you, if you had grown to be the good and great man I longed to see you, then, though I might have yearned for you, I would rather have died with my secret than speak of it. But now, now that all this is not so, now that it is a lost faith, now that by God’s will you are to be abased before the whole world-oh, do not think me unmaidenly now I tell you, Dan, that I love you, and have always loved you.”
“Mona!” he cried in a low, passionate tone, and took one step towards her and held out his hands. There was an unspeakable language in her face.
“Yes; and, that where you go I must go also, though it were to disgrace and shame-”
She had turned towards him lovingly, yearningly, with heaving breast. With a great cry he flung his arms about her, and the world of pain and sorrow was for that instant blotted out.
But all the bitter flood came rushing back upon them. He put her from him with a strong shudder.
“We are clasping hands over a tomb, Mona. Our love is known too late. We are mariners cast on a rock within a cable’s length of harbour, but cut off from it by a cruel sea that may never be passed. We are hopeless within sight of hope. Our love is known in vain. It is a vision of what might have been in the days that are lost for ever. We can never clasp hands, for, O God! a cold hand is between us and lies in the hand of both.”
Then again she fell to weeping, but suddenly she arose as if struck by a sudden idea.
“You will be taken,” she said; “how can I have forgotten it so long? You must fly from the island. You must get away to-night. To-morrow all will be discovered.”
“I will not leave the island,” said Dan firmly. “Can you drive me from you?” he said with a suppliant look. “Yes, you do well to drive me away.”
“My love, I do not drive you from me. I would have you here for ever. But you will be taken. Quick, the world is wide.”
“There is no world for me save here, Mona. To go from you now is to go for ever, and I would rather die by my own band than face such banishment.”
“No, no, not that; never, never that. That would imperil your soul, and then we should be divided for ever.”
“It is so already, Mona,” said Dan with solemnity. “We are divided for ever-as the blessed are divided from the damned.”
“Don’t say that – don’t say that!”
“Yes, Mona,” he said, with a fearful calmness,” we have thought of my crime as against Ewan, as against you, myself, the world, and its law. But it is a crime against God also, and surely it is the unpardonable sin.”
“Don’t say that, Dan. There is one great anchor of hope.”
“What is that, Mona?”
“Ewan is with God. At this moment, while we stand here together, Ewan sees God.”
“Ah!”
Dan dropped to his knees with awe at that thought, and drew off the cap which he had worn until then, and bent his head.
“Yes, he died in anger and in strife,” said Mona; “but God is merciful. He knows the feebleness of His creatures, and has pity. Yes, our dear Ewan is with God; now he knows what you suffer, my poor Dan; and he is taking blame to himself and pleading for you.”
“No, no; I did it all, Mona. He would not have fought. He would have made peace at the last, but I drove him on. ‘I cannot fight Dan,’ he said. I can see him saying it, and the sun was setting. No, it was not fight, it was murder. And God will punish me, my poor girl. Death is my just punishment – everlasting death.”
“Wait. I know what is to be done.”
“What, Mona?”
“You must make atonement.”
“How?”
“You- must give yourself up to justice and take the punishment of the law. And so you will be redeemed, and God will forgive you.”
He listened, and then said
“And such is to be the end of our love, Mona, born in the hour of its death. You, even you, give me up to justice.”
“Don’t say that. You will be redeemed by atonement. When Ewan was killed it was woe enough, but that you are under God’s wrath is worse than if we were all, all slain.”
“Then we must bid farewell. The penalty of my crime is death.”
“No, no; not that.”
“I must die, Mona. This, then,, is to be our last parting.”
“And even if so; it is best. You must make your peace with God.”
“And you, my last refuge, even you send me to my death. Well, it is right, it is just, it is well. Farewell, my poor girl; this is ‘a sad parting.”
“Farewell.”
“You will remember me, Mona?
“Remember you? When the tears I shed for Ewan are dry I shall still weep for you.” There was a faint cry at that moment.
“Hush!” said Mona, and she lifted one hand.
“It is the child,” she added. “Come, look at it.”
She turned, and walked towards the bedroom. Dan followed her with drooping’ head. The little one had again been restless in her sleep, but now, with a long breath, she settled herself in sweet repose.
At sight of the child the great trembling shook Dan’s frame again. ” “Mona, Mona;’ why did you bring me here? ” he said.
The sense of his crime came with a yet keener agony when he looked down at’ the child’s unconscious face. The thought flashed upon him that he had made this innocent babe fatherless, and that all the unprotected years were before her wherein she must realise her loss.
He fell to his knees beside the cot, and his tears rained down upon it.
Mona had lifted the candle from the table; and she held it above the kneeling man and the sleeping child.
It was the blind woman’s vision realised. When Dan rose to his feet he was a stronger man.
“Mona,” he said resolutely, you are right. This sin must be wiped out”
She had put down the candle, and was now trying to take his hand.
“Don’t touch me,” he said, “don’t touch me.”
He returned to the other room, and threw open the window. His face was turned towards the distant sea, whose low moan came up through the dark night.
“Dan,” she murmured, “do you think we shall meet again?”
“Perhaps we are speaking for the last time, Mona “he answered’
“Oh, my ‘heart will break!” she said. “Dan,”‘ she murmured again, and tried to grasp his hand.
“Don’t touch me. Not until later-not until -until then.”
Their eyes met. The longing,, yearning look in hers answered to the wild light in his. She felt as if this were the last she was ever to see of Dan in’ this weary world. He loved her with all his great, broken, bleeding heart. ‘He’ had’ sinned for her sake. She caught both his hands with a passionate grasp. Her lips `quivered, and the’ brave, fearless, stainless girl put her quivering lips to his.
To Dan that touch was as fire. With a passionate cry he flung his arms about her. For an instant her head lay on his breast.
“Now go,” she whispered, and broke from his embrace. Dan tore himself away, with heart and brain aflame. Were they ever to meet again’? Yes. At one great moment they were yet to stand face to face.
The night was, dark, but Dan felt the darkness not at all, for the night was heavier within him. He went down towards the creek. Tomorrow he would give himself up to the Deemster: but to-night was for himself-himself and it.
He went by the church. -A noisy company were just then trooping out of the porch into the churchyard. There they gathered in little knots, lit lanterns, laughed, and drank healths from bottles that were brought out of their Pockets.
It was the breaking up of the Oiel Verree.

CHAPTER XXII
ALONE, ALONE!-ALL, ALL ALONE!

WHEN Dan got down to the creek the little shed was full of the fisher-fellows. There were Quilleash, Teare, Crennell, and the lad Davy. The men wore their oilskins, as if they had just stepped out of the dingey on the beach, and on the floor were three baskets of cod and ray, as if they had just set them down. The fire of gorse was crackling on the hearth, and Davy sat beside it, looking pale and ill. He had watched Dan away from the shed, and then, trembling with fear, but girding up his young heart to conquer it, he had crept back and kept guard by the body.
“I couldn’t give myself liberty to lave it,” he said, half fearfully, lifting his eyes to Dan’s as Dan entered. Then the men, who in the first moment of horror had asked Davy fifty questions, and got never an answer to any of them, seemed to understand everything at once. They made way for Dan, and he strode through them, and looked down at the body, for it was still lying where he had left it. He said not a word,
When the men had time to comprehend in its awful fulness what had occurred, they stood together and whispered, cast, side looks at Dan, and then long searching looks at the body. The certainty that Ewan was dead did not at first take hold of them. There was no mark of violence on the body except the wound above the wrist, and suddenly, while the men stood and looked down, the wound bled afresh. Then old Quilleash, who was reputed to possess a charm to stop blood, knelt beside Ewan, and, while all looked on and none spoke, he whispered his spell in the deaf ear.
“A few good words can do no harm,” said Crennell, the cook, who was a Quaker.
Old Quilleash whispered again in the dead ear, and then he made a wild command to the blood to cease flowing in the name of the three godly men who came to Rome-Christ, Peter, and Paul.
There was a minute of silence, and the blood seemed to stop. The men trembled; Davy, the lad, grew more pale than before, and Dan stood as if in stupor, looking down and seeing all, yet seeing nothing.
Then the old man lifted his tawny face. “Cha marroo as dagh,” he said in another hoarse whisper. “He is dead as a stone.”
There was a deep groan from the throats of the men; they dropped aside, and awe fell upon them. None of them spoke to Dan, and none questioned the lad again; but’ all seemed to understand everything in some vague way. Billy Quilleash (sat on a block of a tree trunk that stood at one side, and there was silence for a space. Then the old man turned his face to his mates and said, ‘° I’m for a man stickin’ up for a frien’, I am.”
At that there was an uneasy movement among the others.
“Aw yes, though, a man should stick to his; frien’, he should, alow or aloft, up or. down,” continued Billy; and after some twisting and muttering among the other fisher-fellows he went on, “You have to summer and winter a man before you know him, and lave it to us to know Mastha Dan. We’ve shared meat, shared work with him, and, d- me sowl! nothing will hould me, but I’ll stand up for him now, sink or swim.”
Then one of the fellows said, “Ay,” and another said, “Ay,” and a third-it was Crennell said, “A friend in need was more preciouser nor goold; ” and then old Billy half twisted his head towards Dan, but never once lifted his eyes to Dan’s face, and speaking at him but not to him, said they were rough chaps maybe, and couldn’t put out no talk at all, never being used of it, but if there was somethin’ wrong, as was plain to see, and keepin’ ‘a quiet tongue in your head was the way it was goin’, and buckin’ up for them as was afther buckin’ up, for his chums, why, a frien’ was a frien’, and they meant to stand by it.
At that, these rough sea-dogs with the big hearts in their broad breasts took hold of each other’s hard hands in a circle about the body of Ewan, whose white face looked up at them in its stony stare, and there in the little lonely shed by the sea they made their mutual pledge.
All that time Dan had stood and looked on in silence, and Davy, sitting by the spluttering fire, sobbed audibly while Uncle Billy spoke.
“We must put it away,” said old Billy in a low tone, with his eyes on the body.
“Ay,” said Ned There. “What’s o’clock?”
“A piece, past twelve.”
“Half-flood. It will be near the turn of the ebb at three,” said Quilleash.
Not another word of explanation was needed, all understanding that they must take the body of Ewan out to sea, and bury it there after three o’clock next morning, so that, if it stirred after it was sent down to its long home, it must be swept away over the Channel.
“Heise,” said one, and he put his band down to lift the body.
“Shoo!”
Dan himself stepped aside to let them pass out. He had watched their movements with wide eyes. They went by him without a word. When they were gone he followed them mechanically, scarcely knowing what he did. Davy went after him.
The fishermen stepped out into the night. In silence they carried the body of Ewan to the dingey that lay on the beach. All, got into the boat and pushed off. It was very dark now, but soon they came athwart the hawse of the Ben-my-Chree, which was lying at anchor below low-water. They pulled up, lifted the body over the gunwale, and followed it into the fishing-boat.
“There’s a good taste of a breeze,” said old Quilleash.
In five minutes more they were standing out to sea, with their dread freight of horror and crime. They had put the body to lie by the hatchways, and again and again they turned their heads towards it in the darkness. It was as though it might even yet stand up in their midst, and any man at any moment might find it face to face with him, eye to eye.
The wind was fresh outside. It was on their larboard quarter as they made in long tacks for the north. When they were well away the men gathered about the cockpit and began to mourn over Ewan, and to recount their memories concerning him.
“Well, the young pazon’s cruise is up, and a rael good man anyway.”
“Aw yes; there’s odds of pazons, but the like of him isn’t in.”
“Poor Pazon Ewan,” said Quilleash, “I remember him since he was a wee skute in his mother’s arms-and a fine lady too. And him that quiet, but thinkin’ a dale maybe, with his head a piece to starboard and his eyes fixed like a figurehead, but more natheral, and tender uncommon. And game too. Aw, dear, you should ‘a seen him buck up to young Dan at whiles.”
“Game! A hot temper at him for all, and I wouldn’t trust but it’s been the death of him.”
“Well, man, lave it at that; lave it, man. Which of us doesn’t lie over in a bit of a breeze aither to port or starboard? God won’t be hard on him for the temper. No, no, God’ll never be hard on a warm heart because it keeps company with a hot head.”
“Aw, but the tender he was!” said Crennell, the Quaker. “And the voice like an urgan when it’s like a flute, soft and low, and all a-tremblin’! D’ye mind the day ould Betty Kelly lost her little gel by the faver, the one with the slander little stalk of a body, and the head like a flower, and the eyes like a pair of bumbees playing in it? You mind her, the millish? Well, young Pazon Ewan up and went to Balligbeg immadiently, and ould Betty scraming and crying morthal, and she’d die! so she would, and what for should you live? but och, boy, the way the pazon put out the talk at him, and the bit of a spell at the prayin’-aw, man alive, he caulked the seams of the ould body wonderful.”
“The man was free, as free as free,” said old Quilleash. “When he grew up it was, ‘How are you, Billy Quilleash?’ And when he came straight from the college at Bishop’s Court, and all the larning at him, and the fine English tongue, and all to that, it was, ‘And how are you to-day, Billy?’ ‘ I’m middlin’ today, Mastha Ewan.’ Aw yes, yes, though, a tender heart at him anyway, and no pride at all at all.”
The old man’s memories were not thrilling to relate, but they brought the tears to his eyes, and he wiped them away with his sleeve.
“Still a quick temper for all, and when his blood was up it was batten down your hatches, my boys-a storm’s coming,” said Ned Teare.
All at once they turned their faces in the darkness to where Dan sat on the battened hatches, his elbows on his knees, his head on his [hands, and a sort of shame took hold of them at all this praise of Ewan. It was as if every word must enter into Dan’s soul like iron. Then, hardly knowing what they did, they began to beat about to undo the mischief.
They talked of the Deemster in his relation to his son.
“Deed on Ewan-there was not much truck atween them – the Deemster and him. It wasn’t natheral. It was like as if a sarpent crawled in his ould Bowl, the craythur, and spat out at the young pazon.”
Then they talked of Jarvis Kerruish.
“Och, schemin’ and plannin’ reg’lar, and stirrin’ and stirrin’ and stirrin’ at the divil’s own gruel.”
“Aw, the Deemster’s made many a man toe the mark, but I’m thinkin’ he’ll have to stand to it when the big day comes. I’ll go bail the ould polecat’s got summat to answer for in this consarn.”
Dan said nothing. Alone, and giving no sign, he still sat on the hatches near where the body lay, and, a little to aft of him, Davy Fayle was stretched out on the deck. The ]ad’s head rested on one hand, and his eyes were fixed with a dog’s yearning look on the dark outlines of Dan’s figure.
They were doubling the Point of Ayr when suddenly the wind fell to a dead calm. The darkness seemed to grow almost palpable.
“More snow comin’ let the boat driff,” said old Billy Quilleash; and the men turned into the cabin, only Dan and the body, with Davy, the lad, remaining on deck.
Then, through the silence and the blank darkness, there was the sound of large drops of rain falling on the (leek. Presently there came a torrent which lasted about ten minutes. When the rain ceased the darkness lifted away, and the stars came out. This was towards two o’clock, and soon afterwards the moon rose, but before long it was concealed again by a dense black turret cloud that reared itself upwards from the horizon.
When Dan stepped aboard, a dull, dense aching at his heart was all the consciousness he had. The world was dead to him. He had then no clear purpose of concealing his crime, and none of carrying out the atonement that Mona had urged him to attempt. He was stunned. His spirit seemed to be dead. It was as though it could awake to life again only in another world. He had watched old Billy when he whispered into Ewan’s deaf ear the words of the mystic charm. Without will or intention he had followed the men when they came to the boat. Later on a fluttering within him preceded the return of the agonising sense. Had he not damned his own soul for ever? That he had taken a warm human life; that Ewan, who had been alive, lay dead a few feet away from him-this was nothing to the horrible thought that he himself was going, hot and unprepared, to an everlasting hell. “Oh, can this thing have happened?” his bewildered mind asked itself a thousand times as it awoke as often from the half-dream of a paralysed consciousness. Yes, it was true that such a thing had occurred. No, it was not a nightmare. He would never awake in the morning sunlight, and smile to know that it was not true. No, no; true, true, true it was, even until the Day of Judgment, and he and Ewan stood once more face to face, and the awful voice would cry, aloud, “Go, get thee hence.”
Then Dan thought of Mona, and his heart was nigh to breaking. With a dumb longing in his eyes turned through the darkness towards the land, and while the boat was sailing before the wind it seemed to be carrying him away from Mona for ever. The water that lay between them was as the river that for all eternity would divide the blessed and the damned.
And while behind him the men talked, and their voices fell on his ear like a dull buzz, the last ray of his hope was flying away. When Mona had prompted him to the idea of atonement, it had come to him like a gleam of sunlight that, though he might never, never clasp her hands on earth, in heaven she would yet be his, to love for ever and ever. But no, no, no; between them now the great gulf was fixed.
Much of this time Dan lay on the deck with only the dead and the lad Davy for company, and the fishing-boat lay motionless with only the lap of the waters about her. The stars died off, the darkness came again, and then, deep in the night, the first grey streaks stretching along the east foretold the dawn. Over the confines of another night the soft daylight was about to break, but more utterly lonely, more void to Dan, was the great waste of waters now that the striding light was chasing the curling mists than when the darkness lay dead upon it. On one side no object was visible on the waters until sky and ocean met in that great half-circle far away. On the other side yeas the land that was once called home.
When the grey light came, and the darkness ebbed away, Dan still sat on the hatches, haggard and pale. Davy lay on the deck a pace or two aside. A gentle breeze was rising in the south-west. The boat had drifted many miles, and was now almost due west off Peel town, and some five miles out to sea. The men came up from below. The cold white face by the hatchway looked up at them, and at heaven.
“We must put it away now,” said Billy Quilleash.
“Ay, it’s past the turn of the ebb,” said Crennell.
Not another word was spoken. A man went below and brought up an old sail; and two heavy iron weights, used for holding down the nets, were also fetched from the hold. There was no singing out, no talking. Silently they took up what lay there cold and stiff, and wrapped it in the canvas, putting one of the weights at the head and another at the feet. Then one of the men-it was old Billy himself, because he had been a rigger in his young days-sat down with a sailmaker’s needle and string, and began to stitch up the body in the sail.
“Will the string hold?” asked one.
“It will last him this voyage out-it’s a short one,” said old Billy.
Awe and silence sat on the crew. When all was made ready, the men brought from below a bank-board used for shooting the nets. They lifted the body on to it, and then with the scudding-pole they raised one end of the board on to the gunwale. It was a solemn and awful sight. Overhead the heavy clouds of night were still rolling before the dawn.
Dan sat on the hatches with his head in his hands and his haggard face towards the deck. None spoke to him. A kind of awe had fallen on the men in their dealings with him. They left him alone. Davy Fayle had got up, and was leaning against the mitch-board. All hands else gathered round the bank-board and lifted their caps. Then old Quilleash went down on one knee and laid his right hand on the body, while two men raised the other end of the board. “Dg bishee jeeah shin-God prosper you,” murmured the old fisherman.
“God prosper you,” echoed the others, and the body of Ewan slid down into the wide waste of waters.
And then there occurred one of those awful incidents which mariners say have been known only thrice in all the strange history of the sea. Scarcely had the water covered up the body when there was a low rumble under the wave circles in which it had disappeared. It was the noise of the iron weights slipping from their places at the foot and at the head. The stitching was giving way, and the weights were tearing open the canvas in which the body was wrapped. In another minute these weights had rolled out of the canvas and sunk into the sea. Then a terrible thing happened. The body, free of the weights that were to sink it, rose to the surface. The torn canvas, not yet thoroughly saturated, opened out, and spread like a sail in the breeze that had risen again. The tide was not yet strong, for the ebb bad only just begun, and the body, floating on the top of the water like a boat, began to drive athwart the hawse of the fishing-boat straight for the land. Nor was the marvel ended yet. Almost instantly a great luminous line arose and stretched from the boat’s quarter towards the island, white as a moon’s water-ray, but with no moon to make it. Flashing along the sea’s surface for several seconds, it seemed to be the finger of God marking the body’s path on the waters. Old mariners, who can interpret aright the signs of sea and sky, will understand this phenomenon if they have marked closely, what has been said of the varying weather of this fearful night.
To the crew of the Ben-my-Chree all that had happened bore but one awful explanation. The men stood and stared into each other’s faces in speechless dismay. They strained their eyes to watch the body until-the strange light being gone-it became a speck in the twilight of the dawn and could be seen no more. It was as though an avenging angel had torn the murdered man from their grasp. But the worst thought was behind, and it was this: the body of Ewan Mylrea would wash ashore, the murder would become known, and they themselves, who had thought only to hide the crime of Dan Mylrea would now in the eyes of the law become participators in that crime or accessories to it.
Dan saw it all, and in a moment he was another man. He read that incident by another light. ‘ It was God’s sign to the guilty man, saying, “Blood will have blood.” The body would not be buried; the crime would not be hidden. The penalty must be paid. Then in an instant Dan thrust behind him all his vague fears and all his paralysing terrors, Atonement! atonement! atonement! God Himself demanded it. Dan leapt to his feet and cried, “Come, my lads, we must go back; heave hearty and away.”
It was the first time Dan had spoken that night, and his voice was awful in the men’s ears.

CHAPTER XXIII
ALONE ON A WIDE, WIDE SEA

THE wind strengthened, and the men hoisted sail and began to beat in to the island. The breeze filled the canvas, and for half-an-hour the jib lay over the side, while the fishingboat scudded along like a startled bird. The sun rose over the land, a thin gauze obscuring it. The red light flashed and died away and fanned the air as if the wind itself were the sunshine. The men’s haggard faces caught at moments a lurid glow from it. In the west a mass of bluish cloud rested a little while on the horizon, and then passed into a nimbus of grey rain-c, loud that floated above it. Such was the dawn and sunrise of a fateful day.
Dan stood at the helm. When the speck that had glided along the waters like a spectre boat could be no more seen, he gazed in silence towards the eastern light and the green shores of morning. Then he had a sweet half-hour’s blessed respite from terrible thoughts. He saw calmly what he, had done, and in what a temper of blind passion he had done it. “Surely, God is merciful,” he thought, and his mind turned to Mona. It relieved him to think of her. She intertwined herself with his yearning hope of pardon and peace. She became part of his scheme of penitence. His love for her was to redeem him in the Father’s eye.
The crew had now recovered from their first consternation, and were no longer obeying Dan’s orders mechanically. They had come aboard with no clear purpose before them, except that of saving their friend; but nature is nature, and a pitiful thing at the best, and now every man began to be mainly concerned about saving himself. One after one they slunk away forward and sat on the thwart, and there they took counsel together. The wind was full on their starboard beam, the mainsail and yawl were bellied out, and the boat was driving straight for home. But through the men’s half-bewildered heads there ran like a cold blast of wind the thought that home could be home no longer. The voices of girls, the prattle of children, the welcome of wife, the glowing hearth-these could be theirs no more. Davy Fayle stayed aft with Dan, but the men fetched him forward and began to question him.
“‘Tarprit all this mysterious trouble to us,” they said. ,
Davy held down his head and made no answer.
“You were with him-what’s it he’s afther doin’?”
Still no answer from the lad.
“Out with it, you cursed young imp,” said old Billy. “Damn his fool’s face, why doesn’t he spake?”
“It’s the mastha’s saycret, and I wunnit tell it,” said Davy.
“You wunnit, you idiot waistrel? ” “No, I wunnit,” said Davy stoutly.
“Look here, ye beachcomber, snappin’ yer fingers at your old uncle that’s afther bringin’ you up, you pauper-what was it goin’ doin’ in the shed yander?”
“It’s his saycret,” repeated Davy.
Old Billy took Davy by the neck as if he had been ‘a sack with an open mouth, and brought down his other hand with a heavy slap on the lad’s shoulder.
“Gerr out, you young devil,” he said.
Davy took the blow quietly, but he stirred not an inch, and he turned on his uncle with great wide eyes.
“Gerr out, scollop eyes;” and old Billy lifted his hand again.
“Aisy, aisy,” said Crennell, interposing; and then, while Davy went back aft, the men compared notes again.
“It’s plain to see,” said Ned Teare, “it’s been a quarrel, and maybe a fight, and he’s had a piece more than the better, as is only natheral, and him a big strapping chap as strong as a black ox and as straight as the backbone of a herring, and he’s been in hidlins, and now he’s afther;;akin’ a second thought, and goin’ back and chance it.”
This reading of the mystery commended itself to all.
“It’s aisy for him to lay high like that,” said Ned again. ‘° If I was the old Bishop’s son I’d hould my luff too, and no hidlins neither. But we’ve got ourselves in for it, so we have, and we’re the common sort, so we are, and there’s never no sailin’ close to the wind for the like of us.”
And to this view of the situation there were many gruff assents. They had come out to sea innocently enough and by a kindly impulse, but they had thereby cast in their lot with the guilty man; and the guilty man bad favour in high places, but they had none. Then their tousled heads went togather, again.
What for shouldn’t we lay high, too?,” whispered one; which, with other whisper, was as much as to say, why should they not take the high band and mutiny, and put Dan into irons, and turn the boat’s head and stand out to sea? Then it would be anywhere, anywhere, away from the crime of one and the guilt of all.
“Hould hard,” said old Billy Quilleash, “I’ll spake to himself.”
Dan, at the tiller, had seen when the men went forward, and he had also seen when some of them cast sidelong looks over their shoulders in his direction. He knew-he’ thought he knew-the thought wherewith their brave hearts were busy. They were thinking-so thought Dan-that if he meant to throw himself away they must prevent him. But they should see that he could make atonement. Atonement? Empty solace, pitiful unction for a soul in its abasement, but all that remained to him-all, all.
Old Quilleash went aft, sidled up to the helm, and began to speak in a stammering way, splicing a bit of rope while he spoke, and never lifting his eyes to Dan’s face.
“What for shouldn’t we gerr away to Shetlands?” he said.
“Why to Shetlands?” asked Dan.
“Aw, it’s safe and well we’ll be when we’re there. Aw, yes, I’ve been there afore to-day. They’re all poor men there, but right kind; and what’s it sayin’, `When one poor man helps another poor man, God laughs.”‘
Dan, thought he saw into the heart of the old fellow. His throat grew hard and his eyes dim, and he twisted his face away, keeping one hand on the tiller. They should yet be justified of their loyalty, these stout sea-dogs -yes, God helping him.
“No, no, Billy,” he said, “there’s to be no running away. We’re going back to see it out.”
At that old Quilleash threw off some of his reserve.
“Mastha Dan,” he said, “we came out to sea just to help you out of this jeel, and because we’ve shared work, shared meat with you, and a frien’ should stand to a frien'; but now we’re in for it too, so we are, and what you’ll have to stand to we’ll have to stand to, and it’ll be unknownst to the law as we are innocent as kittens; and so it’s every man for himself and God for us all.”
Then Dan understood them-how bad he been blind so long to their position?
“You want me to put about; is that it?” he asked.
Old Quilleash nodded his head, still keeping his eyes down.
“You think you’ll be taken with me?”
Old Quilleash made an abashed mutter of assent. “Aw, yes, as ‘cessories before the faces,” he added.
At that Dan’s great purpose began to waver.
“Don’t fear, Billy,” he said; “I’ll speak up for you.”
“And what’ll that go for? Nothin’. Haven’t we been tryin’ to put it away?”
“That’s true.”
It was a fearful situation. The cold sweat rose in big, beads on Dan’s forehead. What had he done? He had allowed these brave fellows to cast in their lot with him. They were with him now for good or ill. He might say they were innocent, but what would his word avail? And be had no proof. They had tried to cover up his crime; they could not cover it; God bad willed that the crime
should not be hidden. And now, if he wished to lose his life to save his soul, what right had he to take the lives of these men also? The brave fellows had wives that waited for them, and children that claimed their knees. Atonement? Empty heroics, to be bought at the price of the blood of five loyal fellows whose only crime was that they had followed him. He had dressed himself in a proud armour of self-sacrifice, but a righteous God, that sees into the heart of man and hates pride and brings it to the dust, had stripped him naked.
Dan’s soul was in a turmoil. What should be do? On the one hand were love, honour, Mona, even everlasting life, and on the other were five innocent men. The agony of that moment was terrible. Atonement? God must have set His face against it.
Dan’s band rested on the tiller, but there was no strength in his arm, because there was now no resolve in his heart. The fishingboat was about three miles west of Jurby Point, going well before the wind. In half. an-hour more it would run into the creek. It was now to act or never. What was he to do? What? What?
It was then, in that moment of awful doubt, when the will of a strong man might have shrivelled up, that nature herself seemed to give the answer.
All at once the wind fell again to a dead calm. Then Dan knew, or seemed to know, that God was with the men, and against him. There was to be no atonement. No, there was to be no proud self-sacrifice.
Dan’s listless hand dropped from the tiller, and he flung himself down in his old seat by the hatches. The men looked into each other’s faces and smiled a grisly smile. The sails flapped idly; the men furled them, and the boat drifted south.
The set of the tide was still to ebb, and every boat’s length, south took the boat a fathom farther out to sea. This was what the men, wanted, and they gathered in the cockpit, and gave way to more cheerful spirits.
Dan lay by the hatches, helpless and hopeless, and more haggard and pale than before. An unearthly light now fired his eyes, and that was the first word of a fearful tale. A witch’s Sabbath, a devil’s revelry, had begun in his distracted brain. It was as though he were already a being of another world. In a state of wild hallucination he saw his own spectre, and he was dead. He lay on the deck; he was cold; his face was white, and it stared straight up at the sky. The crew were busy about him; they were bringing up the canvas and the weights. He knew what they were going to do; they were going to bury him in the sea..
Then a film overspread his sight, and when he awoke he knew that he had slept. He had seen his father and Mona in a dream. His father was very old; the white head was bent, and the calm, saintly gaze was fixed upon him. There was a happy thought in Mona’s face. Everything around her spoke of peace. The dream was fresh, and sweet, and peaceful to Dan when he woke where he lay on the deck. It was like the sunshine, and the carolling of birds, and the smell of new-cut grass. Was there no dew in heaven for parched lips, no balm for the soul of a man accursed?
Hours went by. The day wore on. A passing breath sometimes stirred the waters, and again all was dumb, dead, pulseless peace. Hearing only the faint flap of the rippling tide, they drifted, drifted, drifted.
Curious and very touching were the changes that came over the feelings of the men. They had rejoiced when they were first becalmed, but now another sense was uppermost. The day was cold to starvation. Death was before them-slow, sure, relentless death. There could be no jugglery. Then let it be death at home rather than death on this desert sea! Anything, anything but this blind end, this dumb end, this dying bit by bit on still waters. To see the darkness come again, and the sun rise afresh, and once more the sun sink and the darkness deepen, and still to lie there with nothing around but the changeless sea, and nothing above but the empty sky, and only the eye of God upon them, while the winds and the waters lay in His avenging hands-let it rather be death, swift death, just or unjust.
Thus despair took hold of them, and drove away all fear, and where there is no fear there is no grace.
“Share yn olk shione dooin na yn olk nagh nhione dooin” said old Billy, and that was the old Manx proverb that says that better is the evil we know than the evil we do not know.
And with such shifts they deceived themselves, and changed their poor purposes, and comforted their torn hearts.
The cold, thick, winter day was worn far towards sunset, and still not a breath of wind was stirring. Gilded by the sun’s hazy rays, the waters to the west made a floor of bleared red. The fishing-boat had drifted nearly ten miles to the south. If she should drift two miles more she must float into the southeastern current that flows under Contrary Head. At the thought of that, and the bare chance of drifting into Peeltown Harbour, a little of the vague sense of the hopelessness seemed to lift away. The men glanced across at Dan, and one murmured, “Let every herring hang by its own gill;” and another muttered, “Every man to the mill with his own sack.”
Davy Fayle lay on the deck a few paces from Dan. The simple lad tried to recall the good words that he had heard in the course of his poor, neglected, battered life. One after one they came back to him, most of them from some far-away dreamland, strangely bright with the vision of a face that looked fondly upon him, and even kissed him tenderly. “Gentle Jesus,” and, “Now I lay me down to sleep”-he could remember them both pretty well, and their simple words went up with the supplicatory ardour of his great. grown heart to the sky on which his eyes were bent.
The men lounged about and were half frozen. No one cared to go below. None thought of a fire. Silence and death were in their midst. Once again their hearts turned to home, and now with other feelings. They could see the island through the haze, and a sprinkling of snow dotted its purple hills. This brought to mind the bright days of summer, and out of their hopelessness they talked of the woods, and the birds, and the flowers. “D’ye mind my ould mother’s bit of a place up the glen,” said Crennell, ” an’ the wee croft afore it swaying and a-flowing same as the sea in the softest taste of a south breeze, and the red ling like a rod of goold running up the hedge, and the fuchsia stretchin’ up the wall of the loft, and dropping its red wrack like blood, and the green trainmen atop of the porch-d’ye mind it?” And the men said “Ay,” and brushed their eyes with their sleeves. Each hard man, with despair seated on his rugged face, longed, like a sick child, to lay his head in the lap of home.
It was Christmas Day. Old Quilleash remembered this, and they talked of Christmas Days gone by, and what happy times they had been. Billy began to tell a humorous story of the two deaf men, Hominy-beg, the gardener, and Jemmy Quirk, the schoolmaster, singing against each other at Oiel Verree; and the old fellow’s discoloured teeth, with their many gaps between, grinned horribly like an ape’s between his frozen jaws when he laughed so hard. But this was too tender a chord, and soon the men were silent once more. Then, while the waters lay cold and clear and still, and the sun was sinking in the west, there came floating to them from the land, through the breathless air, the sound of the church bells ringing at home.
It was the last drop in their cup. The poor fellows could bear up no longer. More than one dropped his head to his knees and sobbed aloud. Then old Quilleash, in a husky voice, and coarsely, almost swearing as be spoke, just to hide his shame in a way, said, spitting from his quid, ” Some chap pray a spell.” “Ay, ay,” said another. “Aw, yes,” said a third. But no one prayed. “You, Billy,” said Ned Teare. Billy shook his head. The old man had never known a prayer. “It was Pazon Ewan that was powerful at prayer,” said Crennell. “You, Crennell.” Crennell could not pray.
All lay quiet as death around them, and only the faint sound of the bells was borne to them as a mellow whisper. Then, from near where Dan sat by the hatches, Davy Fayle rose silently to his feet. None had thought of him. With his sad longing in his big, simple eyes, he began to sing. This was what he sang:
Lo! He comes with clouds descending, Once for favoured sinners slain.
The lad’s voice, laden with tears, floated away over the great waters. The men hung their heads, and were mute. The dried-up well of Dan’s eyes moistened at last, and down his hard face ran the glistening tears in gracious drops like dew.

CHAPTER XXIV
“THERE’S GOLD ON THE CUSHAGS YET”

THEN there came a breath of wind. At first it was soft as an angel’s whisper. It grew stronger and ruffled the sea. Every man lifted his eyes and looked at his mates. Each was struggling with a painful idea that perhaps he was the victim of a delusion of the sense. But the chill breath of the wind was indeed among them.
“Isn’t it beginning to puff up from the sou’-west? ” asked Crennell in an uncertain whisper. At that old Quilleash jumped to his feet. The idea of the supernatural had gone from him. “Now for the sheets and to make sail,” he cried, and spat the quid.
One after one the men got up and bustled about. Their limbs were well-nigh frozen stiff. All was stir and animation in an instant. Pulling at the ropes, the men had begun to laugh, yes, with their husky, grating, feardrowned voices, even to laugh through their grisly beards. A gruesome sense of the ludicrous had taken hold of them. It was the swift reaction from solemn thoughts. When the boat felt her canvas she shook herself like a sea-bird trying her wings, then shot off at full flight.
“Bear a hand there. Lay on, man alive. Why, you’re going about like a brewing-pan, old fellow. Pull, boy, pull. What are your arms for, eh?” Old Quilleash’s eyes, which had been dim with tears a moment ago, glistened with grisly mischief. “Who hasn’t heard that a Manxman’s arms are three legs?” he said, with a hungry grin. How the men laughed! What humour there was now in the haggard old saw!
“Where are you for, Billy?” cried Corkell. “Peel, boy, Peel, d- it, Peel,” shouted Quilleash.
“Hurroo! Bould fellow! Ha, ha, he, he!”
“Hurroo! There’s gold on the cushags yet.”
How they worked! In two minutes the mast was stepped, the mainsail and mizzen were up, and they filled away and stood out. From the shores of death they had sailed somehow into the waters of life, and hope was theirs once more.
They began to talk of what had caused the wind. “It was the blessed St. Patrick,” said Corkell. St. Patrick was the patron saint of that sea, and Corkell was more than half a Catholic, his mother being a fishwife from Kinsale.
“St. Patrick be -,” cried Ned Teare, with a scornful laugh; and they got to words, and at length almost to blows.
Old Quilleash was at the tiller. ” Drop it,” he shouted; ” we’re in the down stream for Contrary, and we’ll be in harbour in ten minutes.”
” God A’mighty! it’s running a ten-knots tide,” said Teare.
In less than ten minutes they were sailing under the castle islet up to the wooden pier, having been eighteen hours on the water.
Not a man of the four had given a thought to Dan, whether he wished to go back to the island, or to make a foreign port where his name and his crime would be unknown. Only the lad Davy bad hung about him where he sat by the hatches. Dan’s pale face was firm and resolute, and the dream of a smile was on his hard-drawn lips. But his despair had grown into courage, and he knew no fear at all.
The sun was down, the darkness was gathering, and through the day mist the dew fog was rising as the fishing-boat put to under the lee of a lantern newly lighted, that was stuck out from the end of the pier on a pole. The quay was almost deserted. Only the old harbour-master was there, singing out, as by duty bound, his lusty oaths at their lumberings. Never before did the old grumbler’s strident voice sound so musical as now, and even his manifest ill-temper was sweet to-night, for it seemed to tell the men that thus far they were not suspected.
The men went their way together, and Dan went off alone. He took the straightest course home. Seven long miles over a desolate road he tramped in the darkness, and never a star came out, and the moon, which was in its last quarter, struggling behind a rack of cloud, lightened the sky sometimes, but did not appear. As he passed through Michael he noticed, though his mind was preoccupied and his perception obscure, that the street was more than usually silent, and that few lights burned behind the window blinds.
Even the low porch of the “Three Legs” when Dan came to it was deserted, and hardly the sound of voice came from within the little pot-house. Only in a vague way did these impressions communicate themselves to Dan’s stunned intelligence as he plodded along, but hardly had he passed out of the street when he realised the cause of the desolation. A great glow came from a spot in front of him, as of many lanterns and torches burning together, and though in his bewilderment he had not noticed it before, the lights lit all the air about them. In the midst of these lights there came and went out of the darkness the figures of a great company of people, sometimes bright with the glare on their faces, sometimes black with the deep shadow of the torchlight.
Obscure as his ideas were, Dan comprehended everything in an instant, and, chilled as he was to the heart’s core by the terrors of the last night and day, his very bones seemed now to grow cold within him.
It was a funeral by torchlight, and these maimed rites were, by an ancient usage, long disused, but here revived, the only burial of one whose death had been doubtful, or whose body had washed ashore on the same day.
The people were gathered on the side of the churchyard near to the highroad, between the road and the church. Dan crept up to the opposite side, leapt the low cobble wall, and placed himself under the shadow of the vestry by the chancel. He was then standing beneath the window he had leapt out of in his effort to escape the Bishop on that Christmas Eve long ago of his boyish freak at the Oiel Verree.
About an open vault three or four mourners were standing, and, a little apart from them, a smoking and flickering torch cast its light on their faces. There was the Bishop, with his snowy head bare and deeply bowed, and there by his elbow was Jarvis Kerruish in his cloak and beaver, with arms folded under his chin. And walking to and fro, from side to side, with a quick, nervous step, breaking out into alternate shrill cries and harsh commands to four men who had descended into the vault, was the little restless figure of the Deemster. Behind these and about them was the close company of the people, with the light coming and going on their faces, a deep low murmur, as of many whispers together, rising out of their midst.
Dan shook from head to foot. His heart seemed to stand still. He knew on what business the mourners were met; they were there to bury Ewan. He felt an impulse to scream, and then another impulse to turn and fly. But he could not utter the least cry, and, -quivering in every limb, he could not stir. Standing there in silence, he clung to the stone wall with trembling fingers.
The body had been lowered to its last home, and the short obsequies began. The service for the dead was not read, but the Bishop d stretched out his hands above the open vault and prayed. Dan heard the words, but it was as if he heard the voice only. They beat on his dazed, closed mind as a sea-gull, blown by the wind, beats against a window on a stormy night. While the Bishop prayed in broken accents, the deep thick boom of the sea came up from the distant shore between the low-breathed murmurs of the people.
Dan dropped to his knees, breathless and trembling. He tried to pray, too, but no prayer would come. His mind was beaten, and his soul was barren. His father’s faltering voice ceased, and then a half-stifled moan burst from his own lips. In the silence the moan seemed to fall on every ear, and the quick ear of the Deemster was instantly arrested. “Who’s that?” he cried, and twisted about.
But all was still once more, and then the people began to sing. It was a strange sight and a strange sound: the torches, the hard furrowed faces in the flickering light, the white-headed Bishop, the restless Deemster, and the voices ringing out in the night over the open grave. And from where he knelt Dan lifted his eyes, and by the light of the torches he saw the clock in the church tower; the hands still stood at five.
He rose to his feet and turned away. His step fell softly on the grass of the churchyard. At one instant he thought that there were footsteps behind him. He stopped, and stretched his arms half-fearfully towards the sound. There was nothing. After he had leapt the cobble wall he was conscious that he had stopped again, and was listening as though to learn if he had been observed.

CHAPTER XXV
A RESURRECTION INDEED

AND now a strange accident befell him strange enough in itself, mysterious in its significance, and marvellous as one of God’s own miracles in its results. He was going to give himself up to the Deemster at Ballamona, but he did not any longer take the highroad through the village, for he shrank from every human face. Almost without consciousness he followed the fenceless cart track that went by the old lead-mine known as the Cross Vein. The disused shaft had never been filled up, and never even enclosed by a rail. It had been for years a cause of anxiety, which nothing but its remoteness on the lone waste of the headland bad served to modify. And now Dan, who knew every foot of the waste, and was the last man to whom danger from such an occasion might have been feared, plodding along with absent mind in the darkness, fell down the open shaft.
The shaft was forty-five fathoms deep, yet Dan was not so much as hurt. At the bottom were nearly twenty-five fathoms of water, the constant drainage of the old workings; which rose almost to the surface, or dropped to a great depth, according to weather. This had broken his fall. On coming to the surface, one stroke in the first instant of dazed consciousness had landed him on a narrow ledge of rock that raked downward from the seam. But what was his position when he realised it? It seemed to be worse than death itself; it was a living death: it was burial in an open grave.
Hardly had he recovered his senses when he heard something stirring overhead. Were they footsteps, those thuds on the ear, like the first rumble of a distant thunder-cloud? In the agony of fear he tried to call, but his tongue clave to his mouth. Then there was some talking near the mouth of the shaft. It came down to him like words shouted through a black, hollow, upright pillar.
“No use, men,” said one speaker, “not a foot farther after the ‘ best man alive. It’s every man for himself, now, and I’ll go bail it’s after ourselves they’ll be going next.”
And then another voice, laden with the note of pain, cried, ‘But they’ll take him, Uncle Billy, they’ll take him, and him known’ no thin’.”
“Drove it, drove it! Come along, man alive. Lave the lad to this d-d blather-you’d better. Let’s make a slant for it. The fat’s ‘ is agen us.”
Dan shuddered at the sound of human voices. Buried, as he was, twenty fathoms beneath the surface, the voices came to him like the voice that the wind might make on a tempestuous night if, as it reaches your ear, it whispered words and fled away.
The men had gone. Who were they? What bad happened? Dan asked himself if he had not remembered one of the voices, or both. His mind was stunned and he could not think. He could hardly be sure that in very truth he was conscious of what occurred.
Time passed-he knew not how long or short -and again he heard voices overhead,’ but they were not the voices that he had heard before.
“I apprehend that they have escaped us. But they were our men nevertheless. I have bad advices from Peel that the boat put into the harbour two hours ago.”
“Mind the old lead shaft, sir.”
Dan was conscious that a footstep approached the mouth of the shaft.
“What a gulf! Lucky we didn’t tumble down.”
There was a short laugh-as of one who was panting after a sharp run-at the mouth of Dan’s open grave.
“This was the way they took, sir; over the head towards the Curraghs. They were nothalf wise, or they would have taken the mountains for it.”
“They do not know that we are in pursuit of them. Depend upon it they are following him up to warn him. After all, it may have been his voice that the Deemster heard in the churchyard. He is somewhere within arm’s reach. Let us push on.”
The voices ceased, the footsteps died off. Forty feet of dull, dead rock and earth bad carried the sounds away in an instant. “Stop!” cried Dan, in the hurry of fear. Despair made him brave; fear made him fearless. There was no response. He was alone once more, but death was with him. Then in the first moment of recovered consciousness he knew whose voice it was that he had heard last, and he thanked God that his call had not been answered. It was the voice of Jarvis Kerruish. In agony of despair Dan perceived that the first company of men had been Quilleash and! the fisher-fellows. What fatality had prevented him from crying aloud to the only persons on earth who could have rescued and saved him? Dan realised that his crime was known, and that he was now a hunted man.
It was then that he knew how hopeless was his plight. He must not cry for help; he must stand still as death in his deep tomb. To be lifted out of this pit by the men who were in search of him would be, as it would seem, to be dragged from his hiding-place, ‘ and captured in a feeble effort to escape. What then of his brave atonement? Who would believe that he meant to make it? It would! be a mockery at which the veriest poltroon might laugh.
Dan saw now that death encircled him on every side. To remain in the pit was death; to be lifted out of it was death no less surely; to escape was hopeless. But not so soon is hope conquered when it is hope of life. Cry for help he must; be dragged out of this grave he should, let the issue be what it could or would. To lie there and die was not human. To live was the first duty, the first necessity, be the price of life no less than future death.
Dan looked up at the sky; it was a small square patch of leaden grey against the impenetrable blackness of his prison walls. Standing on the ledge of the rock, and steadying himself with one hand, he lifted the other cautiously upward’ to feel the sides of the shaft. They were of rock, and were quite precipitous, but had rugged projecting pieces on which it was possible to lay hold. As he grasped one of these, a sickening pang of hope shot through him, and wounded him worse than despair. But it was gone in an instant. The piece of rock gave way in his hand, and tumbled into the water below him with a hollow splash. The sides of the shaft were of crumbling stone
It was then, in that blind labouring of despair, that he asked himself why he should struggle with this last of the misfortunes that had befallen him. Was life so dear to him? Not so, or, being dear, he was willing to lay it down. Was he not about to deliver himself to the death that must be the first punishment of his crime? And what, after all, was there to choose between two forms of death? Nay, if he must die, who was n longer worthy of life, better to die there, none knowing his way of death, than to die on the gallows.
At that thought his hair rose from its roots He had never rightly put it to himself until now that if he had to die for the death of Ewan, he must die the death of hanging. That horror of hanging which all men have was stronger in Dan than in most. With the grim vision before him of a shameful and damning death it came to him to tell himself that better, a thousand times better, was death in that living tomb than the death that awaited him outside it. Then he thought of his father, and of the abasement of that good man if so great a shame overtook his son, and thereupon, at the same breath with a prayer to God that he might die where he was, a horrible blasphemy bolted from his lips. He was in higher hands than his own. God had saved him from himself. At least he was not to die on the gallows. He had but one prayer now, and it cried in its barrenness of hope, “Let me never leave this place!” His soul was crushed as the moth that will never lift wing again.
But at that his agony took another turn. He reflected that, if God’s hand was keeping him from the just punishment of his crime, God was holding him back from the atonement that was to wash his crime away. At this thought he was struck with a great trembling. He wrestled with it, but it would not be overcome. Had he not parted with Mona with the firm purpose of giving himself up to the law? Yet at every hour since that parting some impediment had arisen. First, there were the men in the shed at the creek, their resolve to bury the body, and his own weak acquiescence; then came the dead calm out at sea when he stood at the tiller, and the long weary drifting on the wide waters; and now there was this last strange accident. It was as if a higher will had willed it that he should die before his atonement could be made. His spirit sank yet lower, and he was for giving up all as lost. In the anguish of despair he thought that in very deed it must be that he had committed the unpardonable sin. This terrible idea clung to him like a leech at a vein. And then it came to him to think what a mockery his dream of atonement had been. What atonement could a bad man make for spilling the blood of a good one? He could but send his own wasted life after a life well spent. Would a righteous God take that for a just balance? Mockery of mockeries! No, no; let him die where be now was, and let his memory be blotted out, and his sill be remembered no more.
He tried to compose himself, and pressed one hand hard at his breast to quiet the labouring of his heart. He began to reckon the moments. In this he had no object, or none save only that mysterious longing of a dying man to know how the hour drags on. s With the one band that was free he took out his watch, intending to listen for the beat of its seconds; but his watch had stopped; no doubt it was full of water. His heart beat loud enough. Then he went on to count one, two, three. But his mind was in a whirl, and he lost his reckoning. He found that he had stopped counting, and forgotten the number. Whether five minutes or fifty had passed he could not be sure.
But time was passing. The wind began to rise. At first Dan felt nothing of it as he stood in his deep tomb. He could bear its thin hiss over the mouth of the shaft, and that was all. But presently the hiss deepened to a sough. Dan had often heard of the wind’s sob. It was a reality, and no metaphor, as he listened to the wind now. The wind began to descend. With a great swoop it came down the shaft, licked the walls, gathered voice from the echoing water at the bottom, struggled for escape, roared like a caged lion, and was once more sucked up to the surface, with a noise like the breaking of a huge wave over a reef. The tumult of the wind in the shaft was hard to bear, but when it was gone it was the silence that seemed to be deafening. Then the rain began to fall. Dan knew this by the quick monotonous patter overhead. But no rain touched him. It was driven aslant by the wind, and fell only against the uppermost part of the walls of the shaft. Sometimes a soft thin shower fell over him. It was like a spray from a cataract, except that the volume of water from which it came was above and not beneath him.
It was then, in the deadly sickness of fear, that there came to Dan the dread of miscarrying for ever if he should die now. He seemed to see what it was to die the unredeemed. Not to be forgiven, but to be for ever accursed, to be cut off from the living that live in God’s peace-the dead darkness of that doom stood up before him. Life had looked very dear to him before, but what now of everlasting death? He was as one who was dead before his death came. Live he could not, die he dared not. His past life rose up in front of him, and he drank of memory’s very dregs. It was all so fearsome and strange that, as he recalled its lost hours one by one, it was as if he were a stranger to himself. He saw himself like Esau, who for a morsel of meat bad sold his birthright, and could thereafter find no acceptance, though he sought it with tears. The Scripture leapt to his mind which says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
And then from the past to the future his mind went on in a rapid and ceaseless whirl. He saw himself fleeing as from the face of a dreadful judge, Tossed with the terror of a dreadful doom, he saw his place in the world, cold, empty, forsaken. He saw his old father too, the saintly Bishop, living under the burden of a thousand sorrows, while he who was the life of the good man’s life, but his no longer, was a restless, wandering soul, coming as a cold blast of wind between him and his heaven. That thought was the worst terror of all, and Dan heard a cry burst from his throat that roused echoes of horror in the dark pit.
Then, as if his instinct acted without help from his mind, Dan began to contemplate measures for escape. That unexpected softness of the rock which had at first appalled him began now to give him some painful glimmerings of hope. If the sides of the shaft had been of the slate rock of the island, the ledge he had laid hold of would not have crumbled in his hand. That it was soft showed that there must be a vein of sandstone running across the shaft. Dan’s bewildered mind recalled the fact that Orris Head was a rift of red sand and soft sandstone. If this vein were but deep enough his safety was assured. He could cut niches into it with a knife, and so, perhaps, after infinite pain and labour, reach the surface.
Steadying himself with one hand, Dan felt in his pockets for his knife. It was not there! Now indeed his death seemed certain. He was icy cold and feverishly hot at intervals. His clothes were wet; the water still dripped from them, and fell into the hidden tarn beneath in hollow drops. But not to hope now would have been not to fear. Dan remembered that he had a pair of small scissors which he had used three days ago in scratching his name on the silver buckle of his militia belt. When searching for his knife he had felt it in his pocket, and spurned it for resembling the knife to the touch of his nervous fingers. Now it was to be his sole instrument. He found it again, and with this paltry help he set himself to his work of escape from the dark, deep tunnel that stood upright.
The night was wearing on; hour after hour went by. The wind dropped; the rain ceased to patter overhead. Dan toiled on step over step. Resting sometimes on the largest and firmest of the projecting ledges, he looked up at the sky. The leaden grey had changed to a dark blue, studded with stars. The moon arose very late, being in its last quarter, and much beset by rain-clouds. It shone a little way down the shaft, lighting all the rest. Dan knew it must be early morning. One star, a large, fall globe of light, twinkled directly above him. He sat long and watched it, and turned again and again in his toilsome journey to look at it. At one moment it crept into his heart that the star was a symbol of hope to him. Then he twisted back to his work, and when he looked again the star was gone-it had moved beyond his ken, it had passed out of the range of his narrow spot of heaven. Somehow it had been a mute companion.
Dan’s spirit sank in his cheerless solitude, but he toiled on. His strength was far spent. The moon died off, and the stars went out one after one. Then a deep cloud of darkness overspread the little sky above. Dan knew it must be the darkness that precedes the dawn. He had reached a ledge of rock that was wider than any of the ledges that were beneath it. Clearly enough a wooden rafter had lain along it. Dan rested and looked up. At that moment he heard the light patter of little feet overhead. It was a stray sheep, a lamb of last year’s flock, wandering and lost. Though he could not see it, he knew it was there, and it bleated down the shaft. The melancholy cry of the lost creature in that dismal place touched a seared place on Dan’s heart, and made the tears which he had not shed until now to start from his eyes. What old memory did it awaken? He could not recall it at first, but then he remembered the beautiful story which he had heard many times of the lost lamb that came to the church porch at the christening of Ewan. Was it strange that there and then his thoughts turned to Ewan’s child, the babe that was innocent of its great sorrows to come? He began to wish himself a little child again, walking by his father’s hand, with all the years rolled back, and all the transgressions of the years blotted out as a cloud, and with a new spirit sweet and fresh, where now was a spirit seared and old, and one great aching wound. In a moment the outcast lamb went off, sending up, as it went, its pitiful cry into the night. Dan was alone once more, but that visitation had sweetly refreshed his spirit.
Then it came back to him to think that of a surety it was not all one whether he died where he was, never coming alive from his open tomb, or died for his crime before the faces of all men. He must live, he must live, though not for life’s sake, but to rob death of its worst terrors. And as for the impediments that had arisen to prevent the atonement on which his mind was set, they were not from God to lay his soul outside the reach of mercy, but from the devil to beset him and keep him back from the washing away of his sin. This thought revived him, and he turned to his task with a new resolve.
His fingers were chilled to the bone, and his clothes clung like damp cerements to his body. The meagre blades of the scissors were worn short; they could not last long. He rose to his feet on the ledge of rock, and plunged the scissors into the blank wall above him, and at that a fresh disaster seemed to overwhelm him. His hand went into soft earth; the vein of rock had finished, and above it must be loose, uncertain mould
He gasped at the discovery. A minute since life had looked very dear. Must he abandon his hopes after all? He might have been longer vexed with this new fear, but that be recalled at that moment the words spoken by Jarvis Kerruish as he went by on the road that ran near the mouth of the shaft. Was it not clear that Quilleash and the fisher-fellows were being pursued as his associate? Without his evidence to clear them, would they not surely suffer, innocent though they might be, and even though he himself lay dead in this place? Now, indeed, he saw that he must of a certainty escape from this death in life, no difficulties conquering him.
Dan paused and reflected. As nearly as he’ could remember, he had made thirty niches in the rock. Hence he must be fully thirty feet from the water and ten from the surface. Only ten feet, and then freedom. Yet these ten seemed to represent an impossibility. To ascend by holes dug deep in the soft earth was a perilous enterprise. A great clot of soil might at any moment give way, above or beneath him, and then he would be plunged once more into the pit. If he fell from the side of the shaft he would be more likely than at first, when he fell from the top, to strike on one of the projecting ledges and be killed before reaching the water.
There was nothing left but to wait for the dawn. Perhaps the daylight would reveal some less hazardous method of escape. Slowly the dull, dead, impenetrable blackness was lifted off. It was as though a spirit had breathed on the night, and it fled away. When the woolly hue of morning dappled his larger sky, Dan could hear the slow beat of the waves on the shore. The coast rose up before his vision then, silent, solemn, alone with the dawn. The light crept into his prison-house, and he looked down at the deep black tarn beneath him.
And now hope rose in his heart again. Overhead he saw timbers running around and across the shaft. These had been used to bank up the earth, and to make two grooves in which the ascending and descending cages had once worked. Dan lifted up his soul in thankfulness. The world was once more full of grace even for him. He could climb from stay to stay, and so reach the surface. Catching one of the stays in his uplifted hands, he swung his knee on to another. One stage he accomplished, and then how stiff were his joints, and how sinewless his fingers! Another and another stage he reached, and then four feet and no more were between him and the gorse that waved in the light of the risen sun across the mouth of his night-long tomb.
But the rain of years had eaten into these timbers. In some places they crumbled, and were rotten. God! how the one on which he rested creaked under him at that instant I Another minute, and then his toilsome journey would be over. Another minute, and his dead self would be left behind him, buried for ever in this grave. Then there would be a resurrection in very truth. Yes, truly, God helping him.
Half-an-hour later, Dan Mylrea, with swimming eyes and a big heart, was walking towards the Deemster at Ballamona. The flush of the sun newly risen, and the brighter glory of a great hope newly born, was on his worn and pallid cheek. What terrors had life for him now? It had none. And very soon death also would lose its sting. Atonement! atonement! It was even as he had thought; a wasted life for a life well spent, the life of a bad man for the life of a good one, but all he had to give-all, all!
And when he came to lay his offering at the merciful Father’s feet it would not be spurned.

CHAPTER XXVI
HOW EWAN CAME TO CHURCH

IT is essential to the progress of this history that we should leave Dan where he now is, in the peace of a great soul newly awakened, and go back to the beginning of this Christmas Day on shore.
The parish of Michael began that day with all its old observances. While the dawn of Christmas morning was struggling but feebly with the night of Christmas Eve, a gang of the baser sort went out with lanterns and long sticks into the lanes, there to whoop and beat the bushes. It was their annual hunting of the wren. Before the parish had sat down to its Christmas breakfast two of these lusty enemies of the tiny bird were standing in the street of the village, with a long pole from shoulder to shoulder, and a wee wren suspended from the middle of it. Their brave companions gathered round, and plucked a feather from the wren’s breast now and again. At one side of the company, surrounded by a throng of children, was Hominy-beg, singing a carol, and playing his own accompaniment on his fiddle. The carol told a tragic story of an evil spirit in the shape’ of a woman who pestered the island in the old days, of how the people rose up against her to drive her into the sea, and of how she turned herself into a wren, and all on the holy day of the blessed St. Stephen. A boy, whose black eyes danced with a mischievous twinkle, held a crumpled paper upside down before the gardener, and from this inverted text and score the unlettered coxcomb pretended to play and sing. The women came to their doors to listen, and the men with their two hands in their breeches pockets leaned against the ends of their houses and smoked and looked on sleepily.
When the noisy crowd had passed, the street sank back to its customary repose, broken only by the voice of a child-a little auburn-haired lassie, in a white apron tucked up in fishwife fashion-crying, “Shrimps, fine shrimps, fresh shrimps!” and then by a lustier voice that drowned the little lassie’s tones, and cried, “Conger-conger eel-fine, ladies -fresh, ladies-and bellies as big as bishops! Conger eel-con-ger!”
It was not a brilliant morning, but the sun was shining drowsily through a white haze like a dew fog that hid the mountains. The snow of the night before was not quite washed away by the sharp rain of the morning; it still lay at the eaves of the thatched houses, and among the cobbles of the paved pathway. The blue smoke was coiling up through the thick air from every chimney when the bells at Bishop’s Court began to ring for Christmas service. An old woman here and there came out of her cabin in her long blue cape and her mutch, and hobbled along on a stick to church. Two or three men in sea-boots, with shrimping nets over their shoulders and pipes in their mouths, sauntered down the lane that led by the shambles to the shore.
Half-an-hour later, while the bells were still ringing, and the people were trooping into the chapel, the Bishop came out of his house and walked down the path towards the vestry. He had a worn and jaded look that morning, as if the night had gone heavily with him, but he smiled when the women curtsied as they passed, and waved his hand when the men fumbled their caps.
“Good morning, and a merry Christmas to you,” he said as he went by the open porch to Will-as-Thorn, the parish clerk, who was tugging at the bell-rope there, bareheaded, stripped to his sheepskin waistcoat with its grey flannel sleeves, and sweating.
He hailed Billy the Gawk, too, the hoary old dog turned penitent in his latter days.
“A merry Christmas, Billy, and may you live to see many of them yet, please God!”
Billy was leaning against the porch buttress and taking alms if any offered them.
“Then it’s not living it will be, my lord; it’s lingering,” said this old Bartimeus.
And Jabez Gawne, the sleek little tailor, had the Bishop’s salutation as he passed on in the ancient cloak with many buttons.
“A merry Christmas to you, Jabez, and a good New Year.”
“Aw, ‘deed, my lord,” said Jabez, with a face as long as a fiddle, “if the New Year’s no better than the ould one, what with quiet times and high rents and the children’s schooling, it’s going on the houses I’ll be, middlin’ safe.”
“Nay, nay, remember our old saying, Jabez the greater the calm the nearer the south wind.”
As the Bishop was turning in at the vestry door, blind Kerry and her husband Hommy passed him, and he hailed them as he had hailed the others.
“I’m taking joy to see you so hearty, my lord,” said the blind woman.
“Yes, I’m well, on the whole, thank God I ” said the Bishop; “and how are you, Kerry?”
“I’m in, my lord, I’m in; but distracted mortal with the sights. Och, sir, it’s allis the sights, and the sights, and the sights; and it’s Mastha Dan that’s in them still.
This morning, bless ye, when I woke, what should it be, behould ye, but a company of great ones from the big house itself, going down to the churchyard with lanterns. Aw, ‘deed it was, sir, my lord, begging your pardon, though it’s like enough you’ll think it’s wake and a kind of silly, as the sayin’ is.”
The Bishop listened to the blind woman’$ garrulous tongue with a downcast head and a look of pain, and said in a subdued voice as he put his hand on the wooden latch of the vestry door
“It is not for me to laugh at you, Kerry, woman. All night long I have myself been tortured by an uneasy feeling, which would not be explained or yet be put away. But let us say no more of such mysteries. There are dark places that we may never hope to penetrate. Let it content us if, in God’s mercy and His wisdom, we can see the step that is at our feet.”
So saying, the Bishop turned about and passed in at the door. Kerry and her husband went into the chapel at the west porch.
“It’s just an ould angel he is,” whispered Kerry, reaching up to Hommy’s ear, as they went by Will-as-Thorn.
“Aw, yes, yes,” said Hommy-beg, “a rael ould archangel, so he is.”
And still the bells rang for the service of Christmas morning.
Inside the chapel the congregation was larger than common. There was so much hand-shaking and “taking of joy” to be gone through in the aisles and the pews that Christmas morning that it was not at first observed -except by malcontents like Billy the Gawk and Jabez Gawne, to whom the wine of life was mostly vinegar-when the hour for beginning the service had come and gone. The choir in the west gallery had taken their places on either side of Will-as-Thorn’s empty seat over the clock, with the pitch-pipe resting on the rail above it, and, opening their books, they faced about for gossip. Then the bell stopped, having rung some minutes longer than was its wont; – the whispering was hushed from pew to choir, and only the sound of the turning of the leaves of many books disturbed the silence a moment afterwards.
The Bishop entered the chancel, and, while he knelt to pray, down like corn before a south wind went a hundred heads on to the book-rail before the wind of custom. When the Bishop rose there was the sound of shuffling and settling in the pews, followed by some craning of necks in his direction and some subdued whispering.
“Where is Pazon Ewan?”
“What’s come of the young pazon?”
The Bishop sat alone in the chancel, and gave no sign of any intention to commence the service. In the gallery, the choir, books in hand, waited for Will-as-Thorn to take his seat over the clock; but his place remained empty. Then, to the universal surprise, the bell began to ring again. Steadily at first and timidly, and after that with lusty voice, the bell rang out over the heads of the astonished people. Forthwith the people laid those same heads together and whispered.
What was agate of Pazon Ewan? Had he forgotten that he had to preach that morning? Blind Kerry wanted to know if some of the men craythurs shouldn’t just take slieu round to ould Ballamona and wake him up, as the saying is; but Mr. Quirk, in more “gintale” phraseology, as became his scholastic calling, gave it out as probable that the young pazon had only been making a “little deetower” after breakfast, and gone a little too far.
Still the bell rang, and the uneasy shuffling in the pews grew more noticeable. Presently, in the middle of an abridged movement of the iron tongue in the loft, the head and shoulders of Will-as-Thorn appeared in the opening of the green curtain that divided the porch from the body of the chapel, and the parish clerk beckoned to Hommy-beg. Shambling to his feet and down the aisle, Hommy obeyed the summons, and then, amid yet more vigorous bobbing together of many heads in the pews, the schoolmaster, not to be eclipsed at a moment of public excitement, got up also and followed the gardener into the porch. The whispering had risen to a sibilant hiss that deadened even the bell’s loud clangour when little Jabez Gawne himself felt a call to rise and go out after the others.
All this time the Bishop sat motionless in the chancel, his head down, his face rather paler than usual, his whole figure somewhat weak and languid, as if continued suffering in silence and in secret had at length taken the power of life out of him. Presently the bell stopped suddenly, and almost instantly little Jabez, with a face as sharp as a pen, came back to his pew, and Mr. Quirk also returned to his place, shaking his head meantime with portentous gravity. A moment later Will-as-Thorn appeared inside the communion-rail, having put on his coat and whipped the lash comb through his hair, which now hung like a dozen of wet dip candles down his forehead straight for his eyes.
The dull buzz of gossip ceased, all was dead silence in the chapel, and many necks were craned forward as Will-as-Thorn was seen to go up to the Bishop and speak to him. Listening without much apparent concern, the Bishop nodded his head once or twice, then rose immediately and walked to the reading-desk. Almost at the same moment Will-as-Thorn took his seat over the clock in the little west gallery, and straightway the service began.
The choir sang the psalm which they bad practised at the parish church the evening before-” It is good for me that I have been in trouble, that I may learn Thy statutes.” Instead of the lesson appointed in the Calendar, the Bishop read the story of Eli and of Samuel, and of the taking by the Philistines of the ark of the covenant of God. His voice was deep and measured, and when he e came to read of the death of Eli’s sons, and of how the bad news was brought to Eli, his voice softened and all but broke.
“And there ran a man of Benjamin out of e the army, and came to Shiloh the same day a with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.
“And when he came, lo, Eli eat upon a seat by the wayside watching; for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out.
“And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, ‘What meaneth the noise of this tumult?’ And the man came in hastily and told Eli.
“Now Eli was ninety and eight years old, and his eyes were dim that he could not see.
“And the man said unto Eli, ‘I am be that came out of the army, and I fled to-day out of the army.’ And he said, ‘What is there done, my son? ‘”
The Bishop preached but rarely now, and partly for the reverence they always owed the good man, and partly for the reason that they did not often hear him, the people composed themselves to a mood of sympathy as be ascended the pulpit that Christmas morning. It was a beautiful sermon that he gave them, and it was spoken without premeditation, and was loose enough in its structure. But it was full of thought that seemed to be too simple to be deep, and of emotion that was too deep to be anything but simple. It touched on the life of Christ, from His birth in Bethlehem to His coming as a boy to the Temple where the doctors sat, and so on to the agony in the garden. And then it glanced aside, as touchingly as irrelevantly, at the story of Eli and his sons, and the judgment of God on Israel’s prophet. In that beautiful digression the Bishop warned all parents that it was their duty before God to bring up their children in God’s fear, or theirs would be the sorrow, and their children’s the suffering and the shame everlasting. And then in a voice that could barely support itself he made an allusion that none could mistake.
“Strange it is, and very pitiful,” he said, “that what we think in our weakness to be the holiest of our human affections may be a snare and a stumbling-block. Strange enough, surely, and very sad, that even as the hardest of soul among us all may be free from blame where his children stand for judgment, so the tenderest of heart may, like Eli of old, be swept from the face of the living God for the iniquity of his children, which he has not restrained. But the best of our earthly passions, or what seem to be the best, the love of the mother for the babe at her breast, the pride of the father in the son that is flesh of his flesh, must be indulged with sin if it is not accepted with grace. True, too true, that there are those of us who may cast no stone, who should offer no counsel. Like Eli we know that the word of God has gone out against us, and we can but bend our foreheads and say, ‘It is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth Him good.”‘
When the sermon ended there was much needless industry in searching for books under the book-rail, much furtive wiping of the eyes, much demonstrative blowing of the nose, and in the midst of the benediction a good deal of subdued whispering.
“Aw, ‘deed, the ould Bishop bates the young pazon himself at putting out the talk-studdier like, and not so fiery maybe; but, man alive, the tender he is!”
“And d’ye mind that taste about Eli and them two idiot waistrels Hoffnee and Fineass? ”
“And did ye observe the ould man thrembling mortal?”
“Och, yes, and I’ll go bail it wasn’t them two blackyards he was thinking of, at all at all.”
When the service came to an end, and the congregation was breaking up, and Billy the Gawk was hobbling down the aisle on a pair of sticks, that hoary old sinner, turned saint because fallen sick, was muttering something about “a rael good ould father,” and “dirts like that Dan,” and “a thund’rin’ rascal with all.”
A strange scene came next. The last of the congregation had not yet reached the porch, when all at once there was an uneasy move among them like the ground swell among the shoalings before the storm comes to shore. Those who were in front fell back or turned about and nodded as if they wished to say something; and those who were behind seemed to think and wonder. Then, sudden as the sharp crack of the first breaker on a reef, the faces of the people fell to a great heaviness of horror, and the air was full of mournful exclamations, surprise and terror.
“Lord ha’ massy!”
“Dead, you say?”
“Aw, dead enough.”
“Washed ashore by the Mooragh?”
“So they’re sayin’, so they’re sayin’.”
“Hiain Jean myghin orrin-Lord have mercy upon us!”
Half a minute later the whole congregation were gathered outside the west porch. There, in the recess between the chapel and the house, two men, fisher-fellows of Michael, stood surrounded by a throng of people. Something lay at their feet, and the crowd made a circle about it, looked down at it and drew long breaths. And when one after another came up, reached over the heads of others, and saw what lay within, he turned away with uplifted hands and a face that was white with fear.
“Lord ha’ massy! Lord ha’ massy!” cried the people on every side, and their senses were confused and overpowered.
What the dread thing was that lay at the
feet of the two fishermen does not need to be said.
“At the Mooragh, d’ye say?–came ashore at the Mooragh?”
“Ay, at the top of the flood.”
“God bless me!”
“I saw it an hour before it drifted in,” said one of the two grave fellows. “I was down longshore shrimping, and it was a good piece out to sea, and a heavy tide running. ‘Lord ha’ massy, what’s that?’ I says. ‘It’s a gig with a sail,’ I was thinking, but no, it was looking too small. `It’s a diver, or maybe a solan goose with its wings stretched out;’ but no, it was looking too big.”
“Bless me! Lord bless me!”
“And when it came a piece nearer it was into the sea I was going, breast high and more, and I came anigh it, and saw what it was-and frightened mortal, you go bail-and away to the street for Jemmy here, and back middlin’ sharp, and it driffin’ and driffin’ on the beach by that time, and the water flopping on it, and the two of us up with it on to our shoulders, and straight away for the Coort.” a
And sure enough the fisherman’s clothes were drenched above his middle, and the shoulders of both men were wet.
“Bless me! bless me! Lord ha’ massy!” echoed one and then another, and once again they craned their necks forward and looked down.
The loose canvas that had been ripped open by the weights was lying where the seams were stretched, and none uncovered the face, for the sense of human death was strong on all. But word had gone about whose body it was, and blind Kerry, wringing her hands and muttering something about the sights, pushed her way to the side of the two men, and asked why they had brought their burden to Bishop’s Court instead of taking it to Ballamona.
“Aw, well;” they answered, “we were thinking the Bishop was his true father, and Bishop’s Coort his true home for all.”
“And that’s true, too,” said Kerry, “for his own father has been worse than a haythen naygro to him, and lave it to me to know, for didn’t I bring the millish into the world?”
Then there came a rush of people down the road from the village. A rumour that something horrible had washed ashore had passed quickly from mouth to mouth, after the fisherman had run up to the village for help. And now in low, eager tones, questions and answers came and went among the crowd. “Who is it?” “Is it the captain?” “What, Mastha Dan?” “That’s what they’re sayin’ up the street anyway.” “Wrapped in a hammock -good Lord preserve us I ” “Came up in the tide-way at the Mooragh-gracious me l and I saw him myself only yesterday.”
The Bishop was seen to come out of the vestry door, and at the sight of him the crowd seemed to awake out of its first stupor.
“God help the Bishop!” “Here he’s coming.” “Bless me, he’ll have to pass it by, going into the house.” “The shock will kill the ould man.” “Poor thing! poor thing!” “Some one must up and break the bad newses to him.” “Aw, yes, for sure.”
And then came the question of who was to tell the Bishop. First, the people asked one Corlett Ballafayle. Corlett farmed a hundred acres, and was a churchwarden, and a member of the Keys. But the big man said no, and edged away. Then they asked one of the Taubmans, but the brewer shook his head. He could not look into the Bishop’s face and tell him a tale like that. At length they thought of blind Kerry. She at least would not see the face of the stricken man when she took him the fearful news.
“Aw, yes, Kerry, woman, it’s yourself for it, and a rael stout heart at you, and blind for all, thank the Lord.”
“I’ll try, please God,” said Kerry, and with that she moved slowly towards the vestry door,’ where the Bishop had stopped to stroke the yellow curls of a little shy boy, and to ask him his age neat birthday, and to wish him a merry Christmas and eighty more of them, and all merry ones. It was observed that the good man’s face was brighter now than it had been when he went into the chapel.
The people watched Kerry as she moved up to the Bishop. Could she be telling him? He was smiling! Was it not his laugh that they heard? Kerry was standing before him in an irresolute way, and now with a wave of the hand he was leaving her. He was coming forward. No, he had stopped again to speak to old Auntie Nan from the Curragh, and Kerry had passed him in returning to the crowd.
I couldn’t do it; he spoke me so cheerful, poor thing,” said Kerry; “and when I was goin’ to speak he looked the spitten picture of my ould father.”
The Bishop parted from the old woman of the Curragh, and then on raising his eyes he became conscious of the throng by the porch.
“Lave it to me,” said a rough voice, and Billy the Gawk stepped out. The crowd fell aside, and the fishermen placed themselves in front of the dread thing on the ground. Smiling and bowing on the right and left the Bishop was passing on towards the door that led to the house when the old beggar of the highways hobbled in front of him.
“We’re right sorry, sir, my lord, to bring ye bad newses,” the old man stammered, lifting the torn cap from his head.
The Bishop’s face fell to a sudden gravity: What is it? ” he said, and his voice sank. “We’re rael sorry, but we know your heart was gripe to him with grapplins.” “Ay, ay,” said some in the crowd.
“What is it, man? Speak,” said the Bishop, and all around was silence and awe.
The old man stood irresolute for a moment. Then, just as he was lifting his head to speak, and every eye was on the two who stood in the midst, the Bishop and the old beggar, there came a loud noise from near at hand, and voices that sounded hoarse and jarring were in the air.
“Where is it? When did they bring it up? Why is it not taken into the house? ”
It was the Deemster, and he came on with great flashing eyes, and behind him was Jarvis Kerruish. In an’ instant the crowd had fallen aside for him, and he had pushed through and come to a stand in front of the Bishop.
“We know what has happened. We have heard it in the village,” he said. “I knew what it must come to sooner or later. I told you a hundred times, and you have only yourself to thank for it.”
The Bishop said not a word. He saw what lay behind the feet of the fishermen, and stepped up to it.
“It’s of your own doing,” shouted the Deemster in a voice of no ruth or pity. “You would not heed my warning. It was easy to see that the devil’s own dues were in him. He hadn’t an ounce of grace in his carcass. He put his foot on your neck, and threatened to do as much for me some day. And see where he is now! Look at him! This is how your son comes home to you!”
As he spoke, the Deemster pointed contemptuously with the handle of his walking-cane to the thing that lay between them.
Then the hard tension of the people’s silence was broken; they began to mutter among themselves and to propose and demur to something. They saw the Deemster’s awful error, and that he thought the dead man was Dan.
The Bishop still stood immovable, with not the sign of a tear on his white face, but over it the skin was drawn hard.
“And let me tell you one thing more,” said the Deemster. “Whoever he may be that brought matters to this pass, he shall not suffer. I will not lift a finger against him. The man who brings about his own death shall have the burden of it on his own head. The law will uphold me.”
Then a hoarse murmur ran from lip to lip among the people who stood around, and one man, a burly fellow, nerved by the Deemster’s error, pushed forward and said
“Deemster, be merciful, as you hope for mercy; you don’t know what you’re saying.”
At that the Deemster turned about hotly and brought down his walking-cane with a heavy blow on the man’s breast.
The stalwart fellow took the blow without lifting a hand.
“God help you, Deemster!” he said in a thick voice, “God help you! you don’t know what you’re doing. Go and look at it, Deem ster. Go and look, if you’ve the heart for it. Look at it, man, and may the Lord have mercy on you, and on us all in our day of trouble, and may God forgive you the cruel words you’ve spoken to your own brother this day!”
There was then a great silence for a moment. The Deemster gazed in a sort of stupor into the man’s face, and his stick dropped out of his hand. With a look of majesty ‘and of suffering the Bishop stood at one side of the body, quiet, silent, giving no sign, seeing nothing but the thing at his ‘feet, and hardly bearing the reproaches that were being hurled at him in the face of his people. The beating of his heart fell low.
There was a moment of suspense, and then, breathing rapid audible breath, the Deemster stooped beside the body, stretched out a halfpalsied hand and drew aside the loose canvas, and saw the face of his own son Ewan.
One long exclamation of surprise and consternation broke from the Deemster, and after that there came another fearful pause, wherein the Bishop went down on his knees beside the body.
In an instant the Deemster fell back to his savage mood. He rose to his full height; his face became suddenly and awfully discoloured and stern, and, tottering almost to falling, he lifted his clenched fist to the sky in silent imprecation of Heaven.
The people dropped aside in horror, and their flesh crawled over them. “Lord ha’ massy!” they cried again, and Kerry, who was blind and could not see the Deemster, covered her ears that she might not hear him.
And from where he knelt the Bishop, who had not spoken until now, said, with an awful emphasis, “Brother, the Lord of heaven looks down on us.”
But the Deemster, recovering himself, laughed in scorn of his own weakness, no less than of the Bishop’s reproof. He picked up the walking-cane that he had dropped, slapped his leg with it, ordered the two fishermen to shoulder their burden again and take it to Ballamona, and sent straightway for the coroner and the joiner: “For,” said he, “my son having come out of the sea, must be buried this same day.”

CHAPTER XXVII
HOW THE NEWS CAME TO THE BISHOP

THE Deemster swung aside and went off, followed by Jarvis Kerruish. Then the two fishermen took up their dread burden and set their faces towards Ballamona. In a blind agony of uncertainty the Bishop went into his house. His mind was confused; he ,sat and did his best to compose himself. The thing that had happened perplexed him cruelly. He tried to think it out, but found it impossible to analyse his unlinked ideas,
His faculties were benumbed, and not even pain, the pain of Ewan’s loss, could yet penetrate the dead blank that lay between him and a full’ consciousness of the awful event. He shed no tears, and not a sigh broke from him.” Silent he sat, with an expression of ‘suffering that might have been frozen in his stony eyes and on his whitening lips, so rigid was it, and as if the power of life had ebbed away like the last ebb of an exhausted tide:
Then the people from without began to crowd in upon him where he sat in his library. They were in a state of great excitement, and all reserve’ and ceremony were broken down, Each had his tale to tell, each his conjecture to offer. One told what the longshore shrimper had said of finding the body near the fishing-ground known as the Mooragh. Another had his opinion as to how the body bad sailed ashore instead of sinking. A third fumbled his cap and said, “I take sorrow to see you in such trouble, my lord, and wouldn’t bring bad newses if I could give myself lave to bring good newses instead, but I’ll go basil there’s been bad work goin’, and foul play; as they’re sayin’, and I wouldn’t trust but , Mastha Dan-I’m sayin’ I wouldn’t trust but Mastha Dan could tell us something-”
The Bishop cut short the man’s garrulity with a slight gesture, and one by one the people went out. He had listened to them in silence and with a face of saintly suffering, scarcely hearing what they had said. “I will await events,” he thought, “and trust in God.” But a great fear was laying hold of him, and he had to gird up his heart to conquer it. “I will trust in God,” he told himself a score of times, and in his faith in the goodness of his God he tried to be calm and brave. But one after another’ his people came back and back and back with new and still newer facts. At every fresh blow from damning circumstances his thin lips trembled, his nervous fingers ran through his flowing white hair, and his deep eyes filled without moving.
And after the first tempest of his own sorrow for the loss of Ewan, he thought of Dan, and of Dan’s sure grief. He remembered the love of Ewan for Dan, and the love of Dan for Ewan. He recalled many instances of that beautiful affection, and in the quickening flow of the light of that love half the follies of his wayward son sank out of sight. Dan must be told what had occurred, and if none had told him already, it was best that it should be broken to him from lips that loved him.
Thus it was that this brave and long. harassed man, trying to think ill of his own harshness, that looked so impotent and so childish now, remembering no longer his vow never to set eyes on the face of his son or hold speech with him again, sent a messenger, to old Ballamona to ask for Dan, and to bring him to Bishop’s Court without delay.
Half-an-hour later, at the sound of a knock at his door, the Bishop, thinking it was Dan himself, stood up to his stately height, and tried to hide his agitation, and answered in an unsteady voice, that not all the resolution of his brave heart could subdue to calmness But it was the messenger, and not Dan, and he had returned to say that Mastha Dan had not been home since yesterday, and that when Mastha Ewan was last seen at home he had asked for Mastha Dan, and, not finding him, had gone down to the Lockjaw Creek to seek him.
“When was that?” the Bishop asked.
“The ould body at the house said it might be a piece after three o’clock yesterday eveninn,” said the man.
Beneath the cold quietness of the regard with which the Bishop dismissed his messenger, a keener eye than his might have noted a fearful tumult. The Bishop’s hand grew cold and trembled. At the next instant he had become conscious of his agitation, and begun to reproach himself for his want of faith. ” I will trust in God and await events,” he told himself again. “No, I will not speak;
I will maintain silence. Yes, I will await the turn of events, and trust in the good Father of all.”
Then there came another knock at his door. “Surely it is Dan at length; his old housekeeper has sent him on,” he thought. “Come in,” he called in a voice that shook.
It was Hommy-beg. The Deemster had sent him across with a message.
“And what is it?” the Bishop asked, speaking at the deaf man’s ear.
Hommy-beg scratched his tousled head and made no answer at first, and the Bishop repeated the question.
“We’re all taking sorrow for you, my lord,” said Hammy, and then he stopped.
“What is it?” the Bishop repeated.
“And right sorry I am to bring his message.”
The Bishop’s pale face took an ashy grey, but his manner was still calm.
“What did the Deemster send you to say, Hommy?”
“The Dempster-had sess to him, and no disrespec’-he sent me to tell you that they’re after stripping the canvas off, and, behould ye, it’s an ould sail, and they’re knowing it by its number, and what fishing-boat it came out of, and all to that.”
“Where did the sailcloth come from?” asked the Bishop, and his deep eyes were fixed on Hommy.
“It’s an ould-well, the fact is-to tell you not a word of a lie-aw, my lord, what matter -what if it is-”
“Where?” said the Bishop calmly, though his lips whitened and quivered.
“It’s an old drift yawlsail of the Ben-my-Chree. Aw, yes, yes, sarten sure, and sorry I am to bring bad newses.”
Hommy-beg went out, and the Bishop stood for some minutes in the thraldom of fear.
He had been smitten hard by other facts, but this latest fact seemed for the moment d to overthrow his great calm faith in God’s power to bring out all things for the best. n He wrestled with it long and hard. He tried to persuade himself that it meant nothing. That Ewan was dead was certain. That he came by his death through foul play seemed no less sure and terrible. But d that his body had been wrapped in sailcloth once belonging to Dan’s fishing-boat was no sufficient ground for the terrible accusation that was taking shape in other minds. Could he accept the idea? Ah! no, no, no. To do so would be to fly in the face of all sound reason, all fatherly love, and all trust in the good Father above. Though the sailcloth came from the Ben-my-Chree, the fact said nothing of where the body came from. And even though it were certain that the body must have been dropped into the sea from the fishing-boat that belonged to Dan, it would still require proof that Dan himself was aboard of her.
With such poor shifts the Bishop bore down the cruel facts as one after one they beat upon his brain. He tried to feel shame of his own shame, and to think hard of his own hard thoughts. ‘° Yes, I will trust in God,” he told himself afresh; “I will await events, and trust in the good Father of all mercies.” But where was Dan? The Bishop had made up his mind to send messengers to skirt the island round in search of his son, when suddenly there came a great noise as of many persons talking eagerly, and drawing hurriedly near and nearer.
A minute afterwards his library door was opened again without reserve or ceremony, and there came trooping into the room a mixed throng of the village folk. Little Jabez Gawne was at their head with a coat and a hat held in his hands before him.
Cold as the day was, the people looked hot and full of puzzled eagerness, and their smoking breath came in long jets into the quiet room.
“My lord, look what we’ve found on the top of Orrisdel,” said Jabez, and he stretched out the coat, while one of the men behind him relieved him of the beaver.
The coat was a long black-cloth coat, with lappets and tails and wristbands turned over. The Bishop saw at a glance that it was the coat of a clergyman.
“Leave it to me to know this coat, my lord, for it was myself that made it,” said Jabez. The Bishop’s brain turned giddy, and the perspiration started from his temples, but his dignity and his largeness did not desert him.
“Is it my poor Ewan’s coat?” he asked, as be held out his hand to take it, but his tone was one of almost hopeless misery and not of inquiry.
“That’s true, my lord,” said Jabez, and thereupon the little tailor started an elaborate series of identifications, based chiefly on points of superior cut and workmanship. But the Bishop cut the tailor short with a wave of the hand.
“You found it on Orrisdale Head? ” asked the Bishop.
And one of the men behind pushed his head between the shoulders of those who were before him and said: “Aw, yes, my lord, not twenty yards from the cliff, and I found something else beside of it.”
Just then there was a further noise in the passage outside the library, and a voice saying: “Gerr out of the way, you old loblolly-boys, bringing bad newses still, and glad of them, too.”
It was Hommy-beg returned to Bishop’s Court with yet another message, but it was a message of his own, and not of the Deemster’s. He pushed his way through the throng until he came face to face with the Bishop, and then he said
“The Dempster is afther having the doctor down from Ramsey, and the big man is sayin’ the neck was broken, and it was a fall that killed the young pazon, and nothing worse, at all at all.”
The large sad eyes of the Bishop seemed to shine without moving as Hommy spoke, but in an instant the man who had spoken before thrust his word in again, and then the Bishop’s face grew darker than ever with settled gloom.
“It was myself that found the coat and hat, my lord; and a piece nearer the cliff I found this, and this; and then, down the brew itself-maybe a matter of ten feet down -I saw this other one sticking in a green corry of grass and ling, and over I went, hand-underhand, and brought it up.”
While he spoke the man struggled to the front, and held out in one hand a belt, or what seemed to be two belts buckled together and cut across as with a knife, and in the other band two daggers.
A great awe fell upon every one at sight of the weapons. The Bishop’s face still showed a quiet grandeur, but his breathing was laboured and harassed.
“Give them to me,” he said, with an impressive calmness, and the man put the belts and daggers into the Bishop’s hands. He looked at them attentively, and saw that one of the buckles was of silver, while the other was of steel.
“Has any one recognised them?” he asked. A dozen voices answered at once that they were the belts of the newly-banded militia.
At the same instant the Bishop’s eye was arrested by some scratches on the back of the silver buckle. He fixed his spectacles to examine the marks more closely. When he had done so he breathed with gasps of agony, and all the cheer of life seemed in one instant to die out of his face. His nerveless fingers dropped the belts and daggers on to the table, and the silver and the steel e clinked as they fell.
There had been a dead silence in the room for some moments, and then with a laboured tranquillity the Bishop said, ‘I That will do; ” and stood mute and motionless while the people shambled out, leaving their dread treasures behind them.
To his heart’s core the Bishop was struck with an icy chill. He tried to link together the terrible ideas that had smitten his brain, but his mind wandered and slipped away. Ewan was last seen going towards the creek; he was dead; he had been killed by a fall his body had come ashore in an old sail of the Ben-my-Chree; his coat and hat had been picked up on the top of Orrisdale Head, and beside them lay two weapons and two belts, whereof one had belonged to Dan, whose name was scratched upon it.
In the cruel coil of circumstance that was every moment tightening about him the Bishop’s great calm faith in the goodness of his Maker seemed to be benumbed.
“Oh, my son, my son!” he cried when he was left alone. “Would to God I had died before I saw this day! Oh, my son, my son!”
But after a time he regained his selfcontrol, and said to himself again, “I will trust in God; He will make the dark places plain.”
Then he broke into short, fitful prayers, as if to drive away by the warmth of the spirit the chill that was waiting in readiness to freeze his faith-“Make haste unto me, O God! Hide not Thy face from Thy servant, for I am in trouble.”
The short winter’s day had dragged on heavily, but the arms of darkness were now closing round it. The Bishop put on his cloak and hat and set off for Ballamona. In length of days he was but little past his prime, but the dark sorrow of many years had drained his best strength, and he tottered on the way. Only his strong faith that God would remember His servant in the hour of trouble gave power to his trembling limbs.
And as he walked he began to reproach himself for the mistrust whereby he had been so sorely shaken. This comforted him somewhat, and he stepped out more boldly. He was telling himself that, perplexing though the facts might be, they were yet so inconclusive as to prove nothing except that Ewan was dead, when all at once he became conscious that in the road ahead of him, grouped about the gate of Ballamona, were a company of women and children, all agitated and some weeping, with the coroner in their midst, questioning them.
The coroner was Quayle the Gyke, the same who would have been left penniless by his father but for the Bishop’s intervention.
“And when did your husband go out to sea?” the coroner asked.
“At floodtide, yesterday,” answered one of the ‘women; “and my man, he’ said to me ‘ Liza,’ he said, ‘get me a bite of priddhas and’ salt herrin’s for supper,’ he said; ‘ we’l be back for twelve,’ he said; but never sight of him yet, and me up all night till daylight,”
“But they’ve been in and gone out to sea again,” said another of the women.
“How, do you know that, Mother Quilleash?’ asked the coroner.
“Because I’ve been taking a slieu round to the creek, and there’s a basket of skate an cod in the shed,” the woman answered.
At that the Bishop drew up at the gate, and the coroner explained to him the trouble of the women and children.
“Is it you, Mrs. Corkell?” the Bishop asked of a woman near him.
“Aw, yes, my lord.”
“And you, too, Mrs. Teare?”
The woman curtsied; the Bishop named them one by one, and stroked the bare head of the little girl who was clinging to her mother’s cloak and weeping.
“Then it’s the Ben-my-Chree that has been missing since yesterday at high-water?” the Bishop said, in a sort of hushed whisper.
“Yes, sore, my lord.”
At that the Bishop turned suddenly aside, without a word more, opened the gate, and walked up the path.
“Oh, my son, my son,” he cried in’ his bleeding heart, “how have you shortened my days! How have you clothed me with shame! Oh, my son, my son!”
Before Ballamona an open cart was standing, with the tailboard down, and the horse was pawing the gravel which had once-on a far different occasion-been strewn with the “blithe-bread.” The door of the house stood ajar, and a jet of light from within fell on the restless horse without, The Bishop entered the house, and found all in readiness for the hurried night burial. On chairs that were ranged back to back a rough oak coffin, like an oblong box, was resting, and from the rafter of the ceiling immediately over it a small oil lamp was suspended. On either side of the hall were three or four men holding brands and leathern lanterns, ready for lighting. The Deemster was coming and going from his own room beyond, attended in bustling eagerness by Jarvis Kerruish. Near the coffin stood the vicar of the parish, father of the dead man’s dead wife, and in the opening of a door that went out from the hall Mona’ stood weeping with the dead man’s child in her arms.
And even as it is only in the night that the brightest stars may truly be seen, so in the night of all this calamity the star of the Bishop’s- faith shone out clearly again, and his vague misgivings fell away. He stepped up to Mona, whose dim eyes were now fixed on his face in sadness of sympathy, and with his dry lips he touched her forehead.
Then, in the depth of his own sorrow and the breadth of shadow that lay upon him, he looked down at the little one in Mona’s arms, where it leapt and cooed and beat its a arms on the air in a strange wild joy at this gay spectacle of its father’s funeral, and his eyes filled for what the course of its life would be.
Almost as soon as the Deemster was conscious of the Bishop’s presence in the house he called on the mourners to make ready, and then six men stepped to the side of the coffin.
“Thorkell,” said the Bishop calmly, and the bearers paused while he spoke, “this haste to put away the body of our dear Ewan is unseemly, because it is unnecessary.”
The Deemster made no other answer than a spluttered expression of contempt, and the Bishop spoke again.
“You are aware that there is no canon of the Church requiring it, and no law of State demanding it. That a body from the sea shall be buried within the day it has washed ashore is no more than a custom.”
“Then custom shall be indulged with custom,” said Thorkell decisively.
“Not for fifty years has it been observed,” continued the Bishop; “and here it is an outrage on reason and on the respect we owe to our dead.”
At this the Deemster said: “The body is mine, and I will do as I please with it.”
Even the six carriers, with their hands on the coffin, caught their breath at these words; but the Bishop answered without anger:
“And the graveyard is mine, in charge for the Church and God’s people, and if I do not forbid the burial, it is because I would have no wrangling over the grave of my dear boy.”
The Deemster spat on the floor and called on the carriers to take up their burden. Then the six men lifted the coffin from the chairs and put it into the cart at the door. The other mourners went out on to the gravel, and such of them as carried torches and lanterns lighted them there. The Old Hundredth was then sung, and when its last notes had died on the night air the springless cart went jolting down the path. Behind it the mourners ranged themselves two abreast, with the Deemster walking alone after the cart, and the Bishop last of all.
Mona stood a moment at the open door in the hall that was now empty and desolate and silent, save for the babblings of the child in her arms. She saw the procession pass through the gate into the road. After that she went into the house, drew aside the curtain of her window, and watched the moving lights until they stopped, and then she knew that they were gathered about an open grave, and that half of all that had been very dear to her in this weary world was gone from it forever.

CHAPTER XXVIII
THE CHILD GHOST IN THE HOUSE

AFTER the coroner, Quayle the Gyke, had gone through one part of his dual functions at Ballamona, and thereby discovered that the body of Ewan had been wrapped in a sail-cloth of the Ben-my-Chree, he set out on the other part of his duty, to find the berth of the fishing-boat, and, if need be, to arrest the crew. He was in the act of leaving Ballamona when, at the gate of the high-road, he came upon the women and children of the families of the crew he was in search of, and there, at the moment when the Bishop arrived for the funeral, he heard that the men had been at sea since the middle of the previous day. Confirmed in his suspicions, but concealing them, he returned to the village with the terrified women, and on the way he made his own sinister efforts to comfort them when they mourned as if their husbands had been lost. “Aw, no, no, no, never fear; we’ll see them again soon enough, I’ll go bail,” he said, and in their guileless blindness the women were nothing loath to take cheer from the fellow’s dubious smile.
His confidence was not misplaced, for hardly had he got back to the village, and stepped into the houses one after one, making his own covert investigations while he sandwiched his shrewd questions with solace, when the fishermen themselves, old Quilleash, Crennell, Teare, and Corkell, and the lad Davy Fayle, came tramping up the street. Then there was wild joy among the children, who clung to the men’s legs, and some sharp nagging among the women, who were by wifely duty bound to conceal their satisfaction under a proper appearance of wrath. “And what for had they been away all night?” and “Didn’t they take shame at treating a woman like dirt?” and “Just like a man, just, not caring a ha’p’orth, and a woman up all night, and taking notions about drowning, and more fool for it.”
And when at length there came a cessation of such questions, and the fishermen sat down with an awkward silence, or grunted something in an evasive way about ” Women preaching mortal,” and “Never no reason in them,” then the coroner began his more searching inquiries. When did they run in with the cod and ling that was found lying in the tent? Was there a real good “strike” on that they went out again at half-flood last night? Doing much outside? No? He wouldn’t trust but they were lying off the Mooragh, eh? Yes, you say? Coorse, coorse. And good ground, too. And where was the capt’n? Out with them? He thought so.
Everything the coroner asked save the one thing on which his mind was set, but at mention of the Mooragh the women forgot their own trouble in the greater trouble that was over the parish, and blurted out with many an expletive the story of the coming to shore of the body of Ewan. And hadn’t they heard the jeel? Aw, shocking, shocking! And the young pazon had sailed in their boat, so. he had! Aw, ter’ble, ter’ble!
The coroner kept his eyes fixed on the men’s faces, and marked their confusion with con. tent. They on their part tried all their powers of dissembling. First came a fine show of ferocity. Where were their priddhas and herrings? Bad sess to the women, the idle craythurs, did they think a man didn’t want never a taste of nothin’ comin’ in off the say, afther workin’ for them day and night same as haythen naygroes, and no thanks for it?
It would not do, and the men themselves were the first to be conscious that they could not strike fire. One after another slunk out of his house until they were all five on the street in a group, holding their heads together and muttering. And when at length the coroner came out of old Quilleash’s house, and leaned against the trammon at the porch, and looked towards them in the darkness, but said not a word, their self-possession left them on the instant, and straightway they took to their heels.
“Let’s away at a slant over the Head and give warning to Mastha Dan,” they whispered-; and this was the excuse they made to themselves for their flight, just to preserve a little ray of self-respect.
But the coroner understood them, and he set his face back towards the churchyard, knowing that the Deemster would be there by that time.
The Bishop had gone through the ceremony at the graveside with composure, though his voice when he spoke was full of tears, and the hair of his uncovered head seemed to have passed from iron-grey to white. His grand calm face was steadfast, and his .prayer was of faith and hope. Only beneath this white quiet as of a glacier the red riot of a great sorrow was rife within him.
It was then for the first time in its fulness that-undisturbed in that solemn hour by coarser fears-he realised the depth of his grief for the loss of Ewan. That saintly soul came back to his memory, in its beauty and tenderness alone, and its heat and uncontrollable unreason were forgotten. When he touched on the mystery of Ewan’s death, his large wan face quivered slightly and he; paused; but when he spoke of the hope of an everlasting reunion, and how all that was dark would be made plain and the Judge of all the earth would do right, his voice grew, bold as with a surety of a brave resignation.
The Deemster listened to the short night, service with alternate restlessness-tramping to and fro by the side of the. grave-and cold self-possession, and with a constant hardness and bitterness of mind, breaking out sometimes into a light trill of laughter, or again into a hoarse gurgle, as if in scorn of the Bishop’s misplaced confidence. But the crowds that were gathered around held their breath in awe of the mystery, and when they sang it was with such an expression of emotion and fear that no man knew the sound of his own voice.
More than once the Deemster stopped in his uneasy perambulations, and cried “What’s that?” as if arrested by sounds that did not break on the ears of others. But nothing occurred to disturb the ceremony until it had reached the point of its close, and while the Bishop was pronouncing a benediction the company was suddenly thrown into a great tumult.
It was then that the coroner arrived, panting after a long run. He pushed his way through the crowd, and burst in at the graveside between the Bishop and the Deemster.
“They’ve come ashore,” he said eagerly; “the boat’s in harbour and the men are here.”
Twenty voices at once cried “Who?” but the Deemster asked no explanation. “Take them,” he said, “arrest them;” and his voice was a bitter laugh, and his face in the light of the torches was full of malice and uncharity.
Jarvis Kerruish stepped out. “Where are they?” he asked.
“They’ve run across the Head in the line of the Cross Vein,” the coroner answered; but six of us will follow them.”
And without more ado he twisted about and impressed the five men nearest to him into service as constables.
“How many of them are there? ” said Jarvis Kerruish.
“Five, sir,” said the coroner, “Quilleash, Teare, Corkell, Crennell, and the lad Davy.” “Then is he not with them?” cried the Deemster, in a tone that went to the Bishop’s heart like iron.
The coroner glanced uneasily at the Bishop, and said, “He was with them, and he is still somewhere about.”
“Then away with you; arrest them, quick,” the Deemster cried in another tone.
“But what of the warrant, sir?” said the coroner.
“Simpleton! are you waiting for that?” the Deemster shouted with a contemptuous sweep of the hand. “Where have you been, that you don’t know that your own warrant is enough? Arrest the scoundrels, and you shall have warrant enough when you come back.”
But as the six men were pushing their way through the people, and leaping the cobble wall of the churchyard, the Deemster picked from the ground a piece of slate-stone that had come up from the vault, and scraped his initials upon it with a pebble.
“Take this token, and go after them,” he said to Jarvis Kerruish, and-instantly Jarvis was following the coroner and his constables with the Deemster’s legal warranty for their proceedings.
It was the work of a moment, and the crowd that had stood with drooping heads about the Bishop had now broken up in confusion. The Bishop himself had not spoken; a shade of bodily pain had passed over his pale face, and a cold damp had started from his forehead. But hardly had the coroner gone, or the people recovered from their bewilderment, when the Bishop lifted one hand to bespeak silence, and then said, in a tone impossible to describe: “Can any man say of his own knowledge that my son was on the Ben-my-Chree last night?”
The Deemster snorted contemptuously, but none made answer to the Bishop’s question. At that moment there came the sound of a horse’s hoofs on the road, and immediately the old archdeacon drew up. He had been preaching the Christmas sermons at Peeltown that day, and there he had heard of the death of his grandson, and of the suspicions that were in the air concerning it. The dour spirit of the disappointed man had never gone out with too much warmth to the Bishop, but had always been ready enough to cast con. tempt on the “moonstruck ways” of the man who had “usurped” his own place of pre. ferment; and now, without contrition or pity, he was ready to strike his blow at the stricken man.
“I hear that the Ben-my-Chree has put into Peel harbour,” he said, and as he spoke he leaned across his saddle-bow, with his russet face towards where the Bishop stood.
“Well, well, well?” cried the Deemster, rapping out at the same time his oaths of impatience as fast as a hen might have pecked.
“And that the crew are not likely to show their faces soon,” the archdeacon continued.
“Then you’re wrong,” said the Deemster imperiously, “for they’ve done as much already. But what about their owner? Was he with them? Have you seen him? Quick, let us hear what you have to say.”
The archdeacon did not shift his gaze from the Bishop’s face, but he answered the Deemster nevertheless.
“Their owner was with them,” he said, “and woe be to him. I had as lief that a millstone were hung about my neck as that I stood before God as the father of that man.”
And with such charity of comfort the old archdeacon alighted and walked away with the Deemster at the horse’s head. The good man had preached with unwonted fervour that day from the Scripture which says, “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
In another instant the Bishop was no longer the same man. Conviction of Dan’s guilt had taken hold of him. Thus far he had borne up against all evil shows, by the strength of his great faith in his Maker to bring out all things well. But at length that faith was shattered. When the Deemster and the archdeacon went away together, leaving him in the midst of the people, he stood there, while all eyes were upon him, with the stupid bewildered look of one who has been dealt an unexpected and dreadful blow. The world itself was crumbling under him. At that first instant there was something like a ghastly smile playing over his pale face. Then the truth came rolling over him. The sight was terrible to look upon. He tottered backwards with a low moan. When his faith went down his manhood went down with it.
“Oh, my on, my son!” he cried again, “how have you shortened my days! How have you clothed me with shame! Oh, my son, my son!”
But love-was uppermost even in that bitter hour, and the good God sent the stricken man the gift of tears.
“He is dead, he is dead I ” he cried; “now is my heart smitten and withered like grass. Ewan is dead. My son is dead. Can it be true? Yes, dead and worse than dead. Lord, Lord, now let me eat ashes for bread and mingle my drink with weeping.”
And so he poured out his broken spirit in a torrent of wild laments. The disgrace that had bent his head heretofore was but a dream to this deadly reality.
“Oh, my son, my son! Would God I had died before I saw this day!”
The people stood by while the unassuageable grief shook the Bishop to the soul. Then one of them-it was Thormod Mylechreest, the bastard son of the rich man who had left his offspring to public charity-took the old man by the hand, and the crowd parted for them. Together they passed out of the churchyard, and out of the hard glare of the torchlight, and set off for Bishop’s Court. It was a pitiful thing to see. How the old father, stricken into age by sorrow rather than years, tottered feebly on the way. How tow his white head was bent, as if the darkness itself bad eyes to peer into his darkened soul.
And yet more pitiful was it to see how the old man’s broken spirit, reft of its great bulwark, which lay beneath it like an idol that was broken, did yet struggle with a vain effort to glean comfort from its fallen faith. But every stray text that rose to his heart seemed to wound it afresh.
“As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth. . . They shall not be ashamed. . . Oh, Absalom, my son, my son! . . For thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. . . I am poor and needy; make haste unto me, O God. . . Hide not Thy face from Thy servant, for I am in trouble. . . . O God, Thou knowest my foolishness. . . . And Eli said, It is the Lord, let Him do as seemeth Him good. . . The waters have overwhelmed me, the streams have gone over my sold; the proud waters have gone over my soul.”
Thus tottering feebly at the side of Mylechreest and leaning on his arm, the Bishop went his way, and thus the poor dead soul of the man, whose faith was gone, poured forth its barren grief. The way was long, but they reached Bishop’s Court at last, and at sight of it a sudden change seemed to come over the Bishop. He stopped and turned to Mylechreest, and said with a strange resignation
“I will be quiet. Ewan is dead, and Dan is dead. Surely I shall quiet myself as a child that is weaned of its mother. Yes, my soul is even as a weaned child.”
And, with the simple calmness of a little child, he held out his hand to Mylechreest to bid him farewell, and when Mylechreest, with swimming eyes and a throat too full for speech, bent over the old man’s hand and put his lips to it, the Bishop placed the other hand on his head, as if he had asked for a blessing, and blessed him.
“Good-night, my son,” he said simply, but Mylechreest could answer nothing.
The Bishop was turning into his house when the memory that had gone from him for one instant of blessed respite returned, and his sorrow bled afresh, and he cried piteously. The inanimate old place was in a moment full of spectres. For that night Bishop’s Court had gone back ten full years, and if it was not now musical with children’s voices, the spirit of one happy boy still lived in it.
Passing his people in the hall and on the stairs, where, tortured by suspense, bewildered, distracted, they put their doubts and rumours together, the Bishop went up to the little room above the library that had once been little Danny’s room. The door was locked, but the key was where it had been for many a day though Dan in his headstrong waywardness had known nothing of that-it was in the Bishop’s pocket. Inside the room the muggy odour was of a chamber long shut up. The little bed was still in the corner, and its quilted counterpane lay thick in dust. Dust covered the walls, and the floor also, and the table under the window was heavy with it. Shutting himself in this dusty crib, the Bishop drew from under the bed a glass-covered case, and opened it, and lifted out one by one the things it contained. They were a child’s playthings -a whip, a glass marble, a whistle, an old Manx penny, a tomtit’s mossy nest with three speckled blue eggs in it, some pearly shells, and a bit of shrivelled seaweed. And each poor relic as it came up awoke a new memory and a new grief, and the fingers trembled that held them. The sense of a boy’s sport and a boy’s high spirits, long dumb and dead, touched the old man to the quick within these heavy walls.
The Bishop replaced the glass-covered case, locked the room, and went down to his library. But the child ghost that lived in that gaunt old house did not keep to the crib upstairs. Into this book-clad room it followed the Bishop, with blue eyes and laughter on the red lips; with a hop, skip, and a jump, and a pair of spectacles perched insecurely on the diminutive nose.
Ten years had rolled back for the broken. hearted father that night, and Dan, who was lost to him in life, lived in his remembrance only as a beautiful, bright, happy, spirited, innocent child, that could never grow older, but must be a child for ever.
The Bishop could endure the old house no longer. It was too full of spectres. He would go out and tramp the roads the long night through. Up and down, up and down, through snow or rain, under the moonlight or the stars, until the day dawned, and the pitiless sun should rise again over the heedless sleeping world.

CHAPTER XXIX
BY BISHOP’S LAW OR DEEMSTER’S

THE Bishop had gone into the hall for his cloak and hat when he came face to face with the Deemster, who was entering the house. At sight of his brother his bewildered mind made some feeble efforts to brace itself up.
“Ah! is it you, Thorkell? Then you have come at last! I had given you up. But I am going out to-night. Will you not come into the library with me? But perhaps you are going somewhere?”
It was a painful spectacle, the strong brain of the strong man tottering visibly. The Deemster set down his hat and cane, and looked up with a cold mute stare in answer to his brother’s inconsequent questions. Then, without speaking, he went into the library, and the Bishop followed him with a feeble, irregular step, humming a lively tune-it was ” Sally in our Alley”-and smiling a melancholy, jaunty; bankrupt’ smile.
“Gilcrist;” said the Deemster imperiously, and he closed the door behind them as he spoke, “let us put away all pretence, and talk like men. We have serious work before us, I promise you.”
By a perceptible spasm of will the Bishop seemed to regain command of his faculties, and his countenance, that had been mellowed down to most pitiful weakness, grew on the instant firm and pale.
“What is it, Thorkell?” he said in a more resolute tone.
Then the Deemster asked deliberately, “What do you intend to do with the murderer of my son?”
“What do I mean to do? I? Do you ask me what I intend to do?” said the Bishop in a husky whisper.
“I ask you what you intend to do,” said the Deemster firmly. “Gilcrist, let us make no faces. You do not need that I should tell you what powers of jurisdiction over felonies are held by the Bishop of this island as its spiritual baron. More than once you have reminded me, and none too courteously, of those same powers when they have served your turn. They are to-day what they were yesterday, and so I ask you again, what do you intend to do with the murderer of my son? ”
The Bishop’s breath seemed suspended for a moment, and then, in broken accents he said softly
“You ask me what I intend to do with the murderer of our Ewan-his murderer, you say?”
In a cold and resolute tone the Deemster said again, “His murderer,” and bowed stiffly.
The Bishop’s confusion seemed to overwhelm him. “Is it not assuming too much, Thorkell? ” he said, and while his fingers trembled as he unlaced them before him, the same sad smile as before passed across big face.
“Listen, and say whether it is so or not,” said the Deemster, with a manner of rigid impassibility. “At three o’clock yesterday my son left me at my own house with the declared purpose of going in search of your son. With what object? Wait. At half-past three he asked for your son at the house they
shared together. He was then told that your son would be found at the village. Before four o’clock he inquired for him at the village pot-house, your son’s daily and nightly haunt. There he was told that the man he wanted had been seen going down towards the creek, the frequent anchorage of the fishing-smack, the Ben-my-Chree, with which he has frittered away his time and your money. As the parish clock was striking four he was seen in the lane leading to the creek, walking briskly down to it. He was never seen again.”
“My brother, my brother, what proof is there in that?” said the Bishop, with a gesture of protestation.
“Listen. That creek under the Head of Orrisdale is known to the fisher-folk as the Lockjaw. Do you need to be told why? Because there is only one road out of it. My son went into the creek, but he never left it alive.”
“How is this known, Thorkell?”
“How? In this way. Almost immediately my son had gone from my house, Jarvis Kerruish went after him, to overtake him and bring him back. Not knowing the course, Jarvis had to feel his way and inquire, but he came upon his trace at last, and followed Ewan on the road he had taken, and reached the creek soon after the parish’ clock struck five. Now, if my son had returned as he went, Jarvis Kerruish must have met him.”
“Patience, Thorkell, have patience,” said the
Bishop. “If Ewan found Dan at the Lockjaw Creek, why did not the young man Jarvis find both of them there?”
“Why?” the Deemster echoed, “because the one was dead, and the other in hiding.”
The Bishop was standing at that moment by the table, and one hand was touching something that lay upon it. A cry that was half a sigh and half a suppressed scream of terror burst from him. The Deemster understood it not, but set it down to the searching power of his own words. Shuddering from head to foot, the Bishop looked down at the thing his hand had touched. It was the militia belt. He had left it where it had fallen from his fingers when the men brought it to him. Beside it, half hidden by many books and papers, the two small daggers lay.
Then a little low cunning crept over the heart of that saintly man, and he glanced up into his brother’s face with a dissembled look, not of inquiry, but of supplication. The Deemster’s face was imperious, and his eyes betrayed no discovery. He had seen nothing.
“You make me shudder, Thorkell,” the Bishop murmured, and while he spoke he lifted the belt and daggers furtively amid a chaos of loose papers, and whipped them into the door of a cabinet that stood open.
His duplicity had succeeded; not even the hollow ring of his voice had awakened suspicion, but’ he sat down with a crushed and abject mien. His manhood had gone, shame overwhelmed him, and he ceased to contend.
“I said there was only one way out of the creek,” said the Deemster, “but there are two.”
“Ah!”
“The other way is by the sea. My son took that way, but he took it as a dead man, and when he came ashore he was wrapped for sea-burial-by ignorant bunglers who had never buried a body at sea before-in a sailcloth of the Ben-my-Chree.”
The Bishop groaned and wiped his forehead.
“Do you ask for further evidence?” said the Deemster in a relentless voice. “If so, it is at hand. Where was the Ben-my-Chree last night? It was on the sea. Last night was Christmas Eve, a night of twenty old Manx customs. Where were the boat’s crew and owner? They were away from their homes. To-‘day was Christmas Day. Where were the men? Their wives and children were waiting for some of them to eat with them their Christmas dinner and drink their Christmas ale. But they were not in their houses, and no one knew where they were. Can circumstances be more damning? Speak, and say. Don’t wring your hands; be a man and look me in the face.”
“Have mercy, Thorkell,” the Bishop murmured, utterly prostrate. But the Deemster went on to lash him as a brutal master whips a broken-winded horse.
“When the Ben-my-Chree came into harbour to-night, what was the behaviour of crew and owner? Did they go about their business as they are wont to do when wind and tide has kept them too long at sea? Did they show their faces before suspicion as men should who have no fear? No. They skulked away. They fled from question. At this moment they are being pursued.”
The Bishop covered his face with his hands.
“And so I ask you again,” resumed the Deemster, “what do you intend to do with the murderer of my son?”
“Oh, Dan, Dan, my boy, my boy!” the Bishop sobbed, and for a moment his grief mastered all other emotions.
“Ah! see how it is! You name your son, and you know that he is guilty.”
The Bishop lifted up his head, and his eyes flashed.
“I do not know that my son is guilty,” he said in a tone that made the Deemster pause. But, speedily recovering his self-command, the Deemster continued in a tone of confidence, “Your conscience tells you that it is so.”
The Bishop’s spirit was broken in a moment. “What would you have me do, Thorkell?”
“To present your son for murder in the court of your barony.”
“Man, man, do you wish to abase me?” said the Bishop. “Do you come to drive me to despair? Is it not enough that I am bent to the very earth with grief but that you of all men should crush me to the dust itself with shame? Think of it my son is my only tie to earth, I have none left but him; and, because I am a judge in the island as well as its poor priest, I am to take him and put him to death.”
Then his voice, which had been faint, grew formidable.
“What is it you mean by this cruel torture? If my son is guilty, must his crime go unpunished though his father’s hand is not lifted against him? For what business are you yourself on this little plot of earth? You are here to punish the evildoer. It is for you to punish him if he is guilty. But no, for you to do that would be for you to be merciful. Mercy you will not show to him or me. And, to make a crime that is terrible at the best, thrice shameful as well, you would put a father as judge over his son. Man, man, have you no pity? – no bowels of compassion? Think of it! My son is myself, life of my life. Can I lop away my right hand and still keep all my members? Only think of it. Thorkell, Thorkell, my brother, think of it. I am a father, and so are you. Could you condemn to death your own son? ”
The sonorous voice had broken again to a sob of supplication.
“Yes, you are a father,” said the Deemster, unmoved, “but you are also, a priest and a judge. Your son is guilty of a crime-”
“Who says he is guilty?”
“Yourself said as much a moment since.”
“Have I said so? What did I say? They had no cause of quarrel -Dan and Ewan. They loved each other. But I cannot think. My head aches. I fear my mind is weakened by these terrible events.”
The Bishop pressed his forehead hard like a man in bodily pain, but the Deemster showed no ruth.
“It is now for you to put the father aside and let the priest-judge come forward. It is your duty to God and your Church. Cast your selfish interests behind you and quit yourself like one to whom all eyes look up. The Bishop has a sacred mission. Fulfil it. You have punished offenders against God’s law and the Church’s rule beforetime. Don’t let it be said that the laws of God and Church are to pass by the house of their Bishop.”
“Pity! pity I have pity,” the Bishop murmured.
“Set your own house in order, or with what courage will you ever again dare to intrude upon the houses of your people? Now is your time to show that you can practise the hard doctrine that you have preached. Send him to the scaffold, yes, to the scaffold=”
The Bishop held up his two hands and cried, “Listen, listen! What would it avail you though my son’s life were given in forfeit for the life of your son? You never loved Ewan. Ah I it is true, as Heaven is my witness, yon never loved him. While I shall have lost two sons at a blow. Are you a Christian, to thirst like this for blood? It is not justice you want; it is vengeance. But vengeance belongs to God.”
“Is he not guilty?” the Deemster answered. “And is it not your duty and mine to punish the guilty?”
But the Bishop went on impetuously, panting as he spoke, and in a faint, broken tone, “Then if you should be mistaken-if all this that you tell me should be a fatal coincidence that my son cannot explain away? What if I took him and presented him, and sent him to the gallows, as you say, and some day, when all that is now dark became light, and the truth stood revealed, what if then I had to say to myself before God, ` I have taken the life of my son?’ Brother, is your heart brazed out that you can think of it without pity? ”
The Bishop had dropped to his knees.
“I see that you are a coward,” said the Deemster contemptuously. “And so this is what your religion comes to! I tell you that the eyes of the people of this island are on you. If you take the right course now, their reverence is yours; if the wrong one, it will be the worst evil that has ever befallen you from your youth upwards.”
The Bishop cried, “Mercy, mercy I for Christ’s sake, mercy I” and he looked about the room with terrified eyes, as if he would fly from it if he could.
But the Deemster’s lash had one still heavier blow.
“More, more,” he said; your Church is on its trial also, and if you fail of your duty now, the people will rise and sweep it away.”
Then a great spasm of strength came to the Bishop, and he rose to his feet.
“Silence, sir!” he said, and the Deemster quailed visibly before the heat and flame of his voice and manner.
But the spasm was gone in an instant, for his faith was dead as his soul was dead, and only the galvanic impulse of the outraged thing remained. And truly his faith had taken his manhood with it, for he sat down and sobbed. In a few moments more the Deemster left him without another word. Theirs had been a terrible interview, and its mark remained to the end like a brand of iron on the hearts of both the brothers.
The night was dark but not cold, and the roads were soft and draggy. Over the long mile that divided Bishop’s Court from Ballamona the old Deemster walked home with a mind more at ease than he had known for a score of years. “It was true enough, as he said, that I never loved Ewan,” the Deemster thought. “But then whose was the fault but Ewan’s own? At every step he was against me, and if he took the side of the Bishop and his waistrel son, he did it to his own confusion. And he had his good parts, too. Patient and long-suffering like his mother, poor woman, dead and gone. A little like my old father also, the simple soul. With fire, too, and rather headstrong at times. I wonder how it all happened.”
Then, as he trudged along through the dark roads, his mind turned full on Dan.
“He must die,” he thought with content and a secret satisfaction. “By Bishop’s law or Deemster’s he cannot fail but be punished with death. And so this is the end! He was to have his foot on my neck some day. So much for the brave vaunt and prophecy. And when he is dead my fate is broken. Tut! who talks of fate in these days? Idle chatter and balderdash!”
When the Deemster got to Ballamona, he found the coroner, Quayle the Gyke, in the hall awaiting him. Jarvis Kerruish was on the settle pushing off his slush-covered boots with a boot-jack.
“Why, what? How’s this? ” said the Deemster.
“They’ve escaped us so far,” said the coroner meekly.
“Escaped you? What? In this little rathole of an island, and they’ve escaped you?” “We gave them chase for six miles, sir. They’ve taken the mountains for it. Up past the Sherragh Vane at Sulby, and under Snaefell and Beinn-y-Phott-that’s their way, sir. And it was black dark up yonder, and we had to leave it till the morrow. We’ll take them, sir, make yourself easy.”
“Had any one seen them? Is he with them?”
“Old Moore, the miller at Sulby, saw them as they went by the mill, running mortal hard. But he told us no, the captain wasn’t among them.”
“What! then you’ve been wasting your wind over the fishermen while he has been clearing away?”
Jarvis Kerruish raised his head from where he was pulling on his slippers.
“Set your mind at rest, sir,” he said calmly. “We will find him, though he lies like a toad under a stone.”
“Mettle, mettle,” the Deemster chuckled into his breast, and proceeded to throw off his cloak. Then be turned to the coroner again.
“Have you summoned the jury of inquiry?”
“I have, sir – six men of the parish-courthouse at Ramsey – eight in the morning.”
“We must indict the whole six of them. You have their names? Jarvis will write them down for you. We cannot have five of them giving evidence for the sixth.”
The Deemster left the hall with his quick and restless step, and turned into the diningroom, where Mona was helping to lay the supper. Her face was very pale, her eyes were red with long weeping, she moved to and fro with a slow step, and misery itself seemed to sit on her. But the Deemster saw nothing of this.
“Mona,” he said, “you must be stirring before daybreak to-morrow.”
She lifted her face with a look of inquiry.
“We breakfast at half-past six, and leave in the coach at seven.”
With a puzzled expression she asked in a low tone where they were to go.
“To Ramsey, for the court of inquiry,” he answered with complacency.
Mona’s left hand went up to her breast, and her breath came quick.
“But why am I to go?” she asked timidly. “Because in cases of this kind, when the main evidence is circumstantial, it is necessary to prove a motive before it is possible to frame an indictment.”
“Well, father?” Mona’s red eyes opened wide with a startled look, and their long lashes trembled.
“Well, girl, you shall prove the motive.” The Deemster opened the snuff-horn on the mantel-shelf.
“I am to do so?”
The Deemster glanced up sharply under his spectacles. “Yes, you, child, you,” he said, with quiet emphasis, and lifted his pinch of snuff to his nose.
Mona’s breast began to heave, and all her slight frame to quiver.
“Father,” she said faintly, “do you mean that I am to be the chief witness against the man who took my brother’s life?”
“Well, perhaps, but we shall see. And now for supper, and then to bed, for we must be stirring before the lark,”
Mona was going out of the room with a heavy step when the Deemster, who had seated himself at the table, raised his eyes. “Wait,” he said; “when were you last out of the house?”
“Yesterday morning, sir. I was at the ploughing match.”
“Have you had any visitors since five last night?”
“Visitors-five-I do not understand-” That will do, child.”
Jarvis Kerruish came into the room at this moment. He was the Deemster’s sole companion at supper that night. And so ended that terrible Christmas Day.

CHAPTER XXX.
THE DEEMSTER’S INQUEST

IT was at the late dawn of the following morning that Dan Mylrea escaped from his night-long burial in the shaft of the disused lead mine. On his way to Ballamona he went by the little shed where Mrs. Kerruish lived with her daughter Mally. The sound of his footstep on the path brought the old woman to the doorway.
“Asking pardon, sir,” the old body said, and which way may you be going?”
Dan answered that he was going to Ballamona.
“Not to the Deemster’s? Yes? Och! no. Why, d’ye say? Well, my daughter was away at the Street last night-where she allis is o’ nights, more’s the pity, leaving me, a lone woman, to fret and fidget-and there in the house where they tell all the newses, the guzzling craythurs, they were sayin’ that maybe it was yourself as shouldn’t trouble the Deemster for a bit of a spell longer.”
Dan took no further heed of the old woman’s warning than to thank her as he passed on. When he got to Ballamona the familiar place looked strange and empty. He knocked, but there was no answer. He called, but there was no reply. Presently a foot on the gravel woke the vacant stillness. It was Hommy-beg, and at sight of Dan he lifted both his hands.
Then, amid many solemn exclamations, slowly, disjointedly, explaining, excusing, Hominy told what had occurred. And no sooner bad Dan realised the business that was afoot, and that the Deemster, with Jarvis Kerruish and Mona, were gone to Ramsey on a court of inquiry touching Ewan’s death, than he straightway set his face in the same direction.
“The court begins its business at eight, you say? Well, good-bye, Hommy, and God bless you!” he said, and turned sharply away. But he stopped suddenly, and came back the pace or two. “Wait, let us shake hands, old friend; we may not have another chance Good-bye.”
In a moment Dan was going at a quick pace down the road.
It was a heavy morning. The mists were gliding slowly up the mountains in grim hooded shapes, their long white skirts sweeping the meadows as they passed. Overhead the sky was dim and empty. Underfoot the roads were wet and thick. But Dan felt nothing of this wintry gloom. It did no touch his emancipated spirit. His face seemed to open as he walked, and his very stature to increase. He reflected that the lumbering coach which carried the Deemster and his daughter and bastard son must now be far on its way through the ruts of this rough turnpike that lay between Michael and Ramsey. And he pushed on with new vigour.
He passed few persons on the roads. The houses seemed to be deserted. Here or there a little brood of children played about cottage door. He hailed them cheerily as he went by, and could not help observing that when the little ones recognised him they dropped their play and huddled together at the threshold like sheep affrighted.
As he passed into Ballaugh under the foot of Glen Dhoo he came upon Corlett Ballafayle. The great man opened his eyes wide at sight of Dan, and made no answer to his salutation; but when Dan had gone on some distance he turned, as if by a sudden impulse, and hailed him with scant ceremony.
“Ay, why do you take that road?”
Dan twisted his head, but he did not stop, and Corlett Ballafayle laughed in his throat at a second and more satisfying reflection, and then, without waiting for an answer to his question, he waved the back of one hand, and said, “All right. Follow on. It’s nothing to me.”
Dan had seen the flicker of good-will, followed by the flame of uncharity, that flashed over the man’s face, but he had no taste or time for parley. Pushing on past the muggy inn by the bridge, past the smithy that stood there and the brewery that stood opposite, he came into the village. There the women, standing at their doors, put their heads together, looked after him and whispered, and, like Corlett Ballafayle, forgot to answer his greeting. It was then that over his new-found elevation of soul Dan felt a creeping sense of shame. The horror and terror that had gone before had left no room for the lower emotion. Overwhelmed by a crushing idea of his guilt before God, he had not realised his position in the eyes of his fellowmen. But now he realised it and knew that his crime was known. He saw himself as a hunted man, a homeless, friendless wanderer on the earth, a murderer from whom all must shrink. His head fell into his breast as he walked, his eyes dropped to the ground, he lifted his face no more to the faces of the people whom he passed, and gave none his salutation.
The mists lifted off the mountains as the morning wore on, and the bald crowns were e seen against the empty sky. Dan quickened his pace. When he came to Sulby it had e almost quickened to a run, and as he went by the mill in the village he noticed that g old Moore, the miller, who was a square-set, a middle-aged man with a heavy jowl, stood at the open door and watched him. He did t not lift his eyes, but he was conscious that t Moore turned hurriedly into the mill, and that at the next instant one of his men came as hurriedly out of it.
In a few minutes more he was at the bridge that crosses the Sulby river, and there he n was suddenly confronted by a gang of men, with Moore at their head. They had crossed the river by the ford at the mill-side, and running along the southern bank of it, had come up to the bridge at the moment that Dan was about to cross it from the road.
Armed with heavy sticks, which they carried threateningly, they called on Dan to surrender himself. Dan stopped, looked into their hot faces, and said “Men, I know what you think, but you are wrong. I am not running away; I am going to Ramsey court-house.”
At that the men laughed derisively, and the miller said with a grin that if Dan was on his road to Ramsey they would take the pleasure of his company, just to see him safely landed there.
Dan’s manner was quiet. He looked about him with calm but searching looks. At the opposite bank of the river, close to the foot of the bridge, there was a smithy. At that moment the smith was hooping a cart.. wheel, and his striker set down his sledge and tied up his leather apron to look on and listen.
“Men,” said Dan again in a voice that was low, but strong and resolute, “it is the truth that I am on my way to Ramsey courthouse, but I mean to go alone, and don’t intend to allow any man to take me there as a prisoner.”
“A likely tale,” said the miller, and with that he stepped up to Dan and laid a hand upon his arm. At the next moment the man of flour had loosed his grip with a shout, and his white coat was rolling in the thick mud of the wet road. Then the other men closed around with sticks uplifted, but before they quite realised what they were to do, Dan bad twisted some steps aside, darted through them, laid hold of the smith’s sledge, swung it on his shoulder, and faced about.
“Now, men,” he said as calmly as before, “none of you shall take me’, to Ramsey, and none of you shall follow me there. I must go alone.”
The men had fallen quickly back. Dan’s strength of muscle was known, and his stature was a thing to respect. They were silent for a moment and dropped their sticks. Then they began to mutter among themselves, and ask what it was to them after all, and what for should they meddle, and what was a few shillin’ anyway?
Dan and his sledge passed through. The encounter had cost him some minutes of precious time, but the ardour of his purpose had suffered no abatement from the untoward event, though his heart was the heavier for it and the dreary day looked the darker.
Near the angle of the road that turns to the left to Ramsey and to the right to the Sherragh Vane, there was a little thatched cottage of one storey, with its window level with the road. It was the house of a cobbler named Callister, a lean, hungry, elderly man, who lived there alone under the ban of an old rumour of evil doings of some sort in his youth. Dan knew the poor soul. Such human ruins had never been quarry to him, the bighearted scapegrace, and now, drawing near, he heard the beat of the old man’s hammer as he worked. The hammering ceased, and Callister appeared at his door.
“Capt’n,” he stammered, “do you know — do you know-?” He tried to frame his words and could not, and at last he blurted out, “Quayle the Gyke drove by an hour ago.”
Dan knew what was in the heart of the poor battered creature, and it touched him deeply. He was moving off without speaking, merely waving his hand for answer and adieu, when the cobbler’s dog, as lean and hungry as its master to look upon, came from the house and looked up at Dan out of its rheumy eyes and licked his hand.
The cobbler still stood at his door, fumbling in his fingers his cutting-knife, worn obliquely to the point, and struggling to speak more plainly.
“The Whitehaven packet leaves Ramsey tonight, capt’n,” he said.
Dan waved his hand once more. His heart sank yet lower. Only by the very dregs of humanity, the very quarry of mankind, and by the dumb creatures that licked his hand, was his fellowship rewarded. Thus had he wasted his fidelity and thrown his loyalty away. In a day he had become a hunted man. So much for the world’s gratitude and even the world’s pity. And yet, shunned or hunted, a mark for the finger of shame or an aim for the hand of hate, he felt as be bad felt before, bound by strong ties to his fellow-creatures. He was about to part from them; he was meeting them for the last time. Not even their coldest glance of fear or suspicion made a call on his resolution.
At every step his impatience became more lively. Through Lezayre and past Milntown he walked at a quick pace. He dared not run, lest his eagerness should seem to betray him, and he should meet with another such obstacle as kept him back at Sulby Bridge. At length he was walking through the streets of Ramsey. He noticed that most of the people who passed him gave him a hurried and startled look, and went quickly on. He reached the court-house at last. Groups stood about the Saddle Inn, and the south side of the enclosure within the rails was crowded. The clock in the church tower in the marketplace beyond was striking nine. It was while building that square tower, twenty years before, that the mason Looney had dropped to his knees on the scaffold and asked the blessing of the Bishop as he passed. To the Bishop’s son the clock of the tower seemed now to be striking the hour of doom.
The people within the rails of the courtyard fell aside as Dan pushed his way through, and the dull buzz of their gossip fell straightway to a great silence. But those who stood nearest the porch were straining their necks towards the inside of the court-house in an effort to see and hear. Standing behind them for an instant Dan beard what was said in whispers by those within to those without, and thus he learned what had been done.
The Deemster’s inquest had been going on for an hour. First, the landlady of the “Three Legs of Man” had sworn that, at about three o’clock on Christmas Eve, Parson Ewan had inquired at her house for Mr. Dan Mylrea, and had been directed to the creek known some times as the Lockjaw. Then, the butcher from the shambles in the lane had sworn that Parson Ewan had passed him walking towards the creek; and the longshore fishermen who brought the body to Bishop’s Court gave evidence as to when (ten o’clock on Christmas morning) and where (the coral ground for herrings, called the Mooragh) it came ashore. After these, Jarvis Kerruish had sworn to following Parson Ewan within half-an-hour of the deceased leaving Ballamona, to hearing a loud scream as he approached the lane leading to Orris Head, and to finding at the creek the fisher lad Davy Fayle, whose manner awakened strong suspicion when he was questioned as to whether he had seen Parson Ewan and his master, Mr. Daniel Mylrea. The wife of one of the crew of the Ben-my-Chree had next been called to say that the fishing-boat had been at sea from high-water on Christmas Eve. The woman had given her evidence with obvious diffidence and some confusion, repeating and contradicting herself, being sharply reprimanded by the Deemster, and finally breaking down into a torrent of tears. When she had been removed the housekeeper at old Ballamona, an uncomfortable, bewildered old body, stated that Mr. Dan Mylrea had not been home since the early morning on the day before Christmas Day. Finally, the harbour-master at Peel bad identified the sailcloth in which the body had been wrapt as a drift yawlsail of the Ben-my-Chree, and he had also sworn that the lugger of that name had come into the harbour at low-water the previous night, with the men Quilleash, Teare, Corkell, Crennell, and Davy Foyle, as well as the owner, Mr. Dan Mylrea, aboard of her.
Without waiting to hear more, Dan made one great call on his resolution and pushed his way through the porch into the court-house. Then he realised that there was still some virtue left in humanity. No sooner had the people in the court become aware of his presence among them than one stepped before him as if to conceal him from those in front, while another tapped him on the shoulder, and elbowed a way out, beckoning him to follow as if some pressing errand called him away.
But Dan’s purpose was fixed, and no cover for cowardice availed to shake it. Steadfast and silent he stood at the back of the court, half hidden by the throng about him, trying to look on with a cool countenance, and to fix his attention on the proceedings of his own trial. At first he was conscious of no more than the obscurity of the dusky place and a sort of confused murmur that rose from a table at the farther end. For a while he looked stupidly on, and even trembled slightly. But all at once he found himself listening and seeing all that was going on before him.
The court-house was densely crowded. On the bench sat the Deemster, his thin, quick face as sharp as a pen within his heavy wig. Jarvis Kerruish and Quayle, the coroner, stood at a table beneath. Stretched on the top of this table was a canvas sail. Six men from Michael sat to the right as a jury. But Dan’s eyes passed over all these as if scarcely conscious of their presence, and turned by an instinct of which he knew nothing towards the witness-bog. And there Mona herself was now standing. Her face was very pale and drawn hard about the lips, which were set firm, though the nostrils quivered visibly. She wore a dark cloak of half-conventual pattern, with a hood that fell back from the close hat that sat like a nun’s cap about her smooth forehead. Erect she stood, with the fire of two hundred eager eyes upon her, but her bosom heaved and the fingers of her ungloved hand gripped nervously the rail in front of her.
In an instant the thin shrill voice of the Deemster broke on Dan’s consciousness, and he knew that he was listening to his own trial, with Mona put up to give evidence against him.
“When did you see your brother last?”
“On the afternoon of the day before yesterday.”
“At what hour?”
“At about two o’clock.”
“What passed between you at that interview?”
There was no answer to this question.
“Tell the jury if there was any unpleasantness between you and your brother at two o’clock the day before yesterday.”
There was a pause, and then the silence was broken by the reply, meekly spoken, “It is true that he was angry.”
“What was the cause of his anger?” Another pause and no answer. The Deemster repeated his question, and still there was no reply.
“Listen; on your answer to this question the burden of the indictment must rest. Circumstance points but too plainly to a crime. It points to one man as perpetrator of that crime, and to five other men as accessories to it, But it is necessary that the jury should gather an idea of the motive that inspired it. And so I ask again, what was the difference between you and your brother at your interview on the afternoon of the day before yesterday? ”
There was a deep hush in the court. A gloomy, echoless silence, like that which goes before a storm, seemed to brood over the place. All eyes were turned to the witnessbox.
“Answer,” said the Deemster with head aslant. “I ask for an answer-I demand it.”
Then the witness lifted up her great, soft, liquid eyes to the Deemster’s face and spoke
“Is it the judge or the father that demands an answer? ” she said.
“The judge, the judge,” the Deemster replied with emphasis; “we know of no father here.”
At that the burden that had rested on Mona’s quivering face seemed to lift away.
“Then, if it is the judge that asks the question, I will not answer it.”
The Deemster leaned back in his seat, and there was a low rumble among the people in the court. Dan found his breath coming audibly from his throat, his finger-nails digging trenches in his palms, and his teeth set so hard on his lips that both teeth and lips were bleeding.
After a moment’s silence the Deemster spoke again, but more softly than before, and in a tone of suavity.
“If the judge has no power with you, make answer to the father,” and he repeated his question.
Amid silence that was painful Mona said, in a tremulous voice, “It is not in a court of justice that a father should expect an answer to a question like that.”
Then the Deemster lost all self-control, and shouted in his shrill treble that, whether as father or judge, the witness’s answer he should have; that on that answer the guilty man should yet be indicted, and that even as it would be damning to that man so it should hang him.
The spectators held their breath at the Deemster’s words, and looked aghast at the livid face on the bench. They were accustomed to the Deemster’s fits of rage, but such an outbreak of wrath had never before been witnessed. The gloomy silence was unbroken for a moment, and then there came the sound of the suppressed weeping of the witness.
“Stop that noise!” said the Deemster. “We know for whom you shed your tears. But you shall yet do more than cry for the man. If a word of yours can send him to the gallows, that word shall yet be spoken.”
Dan saw and heard all. The dark place, the judge, the jury, the silent throng, seemed to swim about him. For a moment he struggled with himself, scarcely able to control the impulse to push through and tear the Deemster from his seat. At the next instant, with complete self -possession and strong hold of his passions, he had parted the people in front of him, and was making his way to the table beneath the bench. Dense as the crowd was, it seemed to open of itself before him, and only the low rumble of many subdued voices floated faintly in his ear. He was conscious that all eyes were upon him, but most of all that Mona was watching him with looks of pain and fear.
He never felt stronger than at that moment. Long enough he had hesitated, and too often he had been held back, but now his time was come. He stopped in front of the table, and said in a full clear voice, “I am here to surrender-I am guilty.”
The Deemster looked down in bewilderment; but the coroner, recovering quickly from his first amazement, bustled up with the air of a constable making a capture, and put the fetters on Dan’s wrists.
What happened next was never afterwards rightly known to any of the astonished spectators. The Deemster asked the jury for their verdict, and immediately afterwards he called on the clerk to prepare the indictment.
“Is it to be for this man only, or for all six?” the clerk asked.
“All six,” the Deemster answered.
Then the prisoner spoke again. “Deemster,” he said, “the other men are innocent.”
“Where are they? ”
“I do not know.”
“If innocent, why are they in hiding?”
“I tell you, sir, they are innocent. Their only fault is that they have tried to be loyal to me.”
“Were they with you when the body was buried?”
Dan made no answer. “Did they bury it? ”
Still no answer. The Deemster turned to the clerk, “The six.”
“Deemster,” Dan said, with stubborn resolution, “why should I tell you what is not true? I have come here when, like the men themselves, I might have kept away.”
“You have come here, prisoner, when the hand of the law was upon you, when its vengeance was encircling you, entrapping you, when it was useless to hold out longer; you have come here thinking to lessen your punishment by your surrender. But you have been mistaken. A surrender extorted when capture is certain, like a confession made when crime cannot be denied, has never yet been allowed to lessen the punishment of the guilty. Nor shall it lessen it now.”
Then as the Deemster rose, a cry ran through the court. It was such a cry out of a great heart as tells a whole story to a multitude. In a moment the people saw and knew all. They looked at the two who stood before them, Dan and Mona. the prisoner and the witness, with eyes that filled, and from their dry throats there rose a deep groan from their midst.
“I tell you, Deemster, it is false, and the men are innocent,” said Dan.
The clerk was seen to hand a document to the Deemster, who took a pen and signed it. “The accused stands committed for trial at the Court of General Gaol Delivery.”
At the next moment the Deemster was gone.

“I can see that the year 1887 must always be an epoch in Manx history, the year The Deemster was published.”

T. E. Brown’s estimation of the importance of Hall Caine’s first full-length Manx novel is perhaps not much of an overstatement. However, when Caine first asked him his opinion of an earlier version of the novel, T. E. Brown responded by begging him not to write it:

“just write the words, ‘A Manx Epic’ and behold the totally impossible at once!”

It is a blessing that Caine ignored entirely Brown’s recommendation of setting it elsewhere than on the Isle of Man. What emerged was one of the most thrilling novels of the age set upon a thoroughly Manx scene. The story of one man’s descent into crime and the ensuing punishment and atonement took in a whole range of Manx history, life and folklore, ranging from Bishop Wilson to the Moddey Dhoo. In this Caine made good on depicting the vivid richness of the Island that he saw as one of the key attractions:

“It has the sea, a fine coast on the west, fine moorland above; it has traditions, folk-talk, folk-lore, a ballad literature, and no end of superstition, — and all these are very much its own.”

The story was written in only seven months, recycling much of the material from the earlier, shorter and imperfect novel, She’s All The World To Me. The action of The Deemster ranged down the west coast of the island, from Bishopscourt in the north down through Peel and St. Johns and around to Cregneash and the Chasms in the south. This particularly Manx tale was the novel that shot Caine, and the Isle of Man, into literary fame. The runaway success of the novel soon saw it being referred to as “The Boomster”, and it would eventually run through 50 editions.

Caine was to write many novels and plays after this, but the characters of The Deemster would stay with him and in his readers’ hearts for the rest of his life. Dan Mylrea, the tragic protagonist of the book can be seen today on Caine’s tombstone in Maughold churchyard, so important was he to Caine’s life and work.

“And together these shipwrecked voyagers on the waters of life sat and wept, and wondered what evil could be in hell itself if man in his blindness could find the world so full of it.”

Hall Caine is without a doubt the greatest novelist that the Isle of Man has ever known. He was the best-selling novelist on both sides of the Atlantic at the end of the 19th Century, writing novels such as The Manxman which grew comparisons to Tolstoy and earned him recognition from Royalty and Prime Ministers. It would be hard to overestimate the importance of Hall Caine in the literary history of the Isle of Man.