Harriett Jay.

The dark colleen: a love story online

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3^arfaarli College Hibrarg



(Class of 1888)

Keeper of the Museum of Comparative
ZoSlogy, 1899-1904.

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<* Fresh woods and pastures new.*'— milton.

"Adieu Lore, adieu Lore, untrue Love,
Untrue Love,^ untrue Love, adieu Love,
Your mind is light, soon lost for new lore.*'




764 Broadway.


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v*auA«i i»t«"CH«iwooowonTH

FEI. 1». IMS'

Routes l>OINT. N. V.

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. .. . •


Chap. Pack.

I. Wslshed Ashore 7

II. Morna Dunr6on 11

Iir. Moi-na Intercedes 15

IV. Emile Bisson 22

V. •* Doctor " Tuam 26

Vr. Doctor ind Patient 33

VII. Quiet Days 41

VIII. The Creag na Luing 45

IX. Father Moy * . . . «

X. The Vagrants 63

XI. A Summer Morning 74

XII. Truagh O^More 83

XIII. Captain Bisson extracts a Promise . . . . S9

XIV. Traugh keeps Watch 93

XV. The Feast "NaRigh" 97

XVI. Father Moy asserts his Authority .... 105
XVII. " Heigh ho, how I do Love Thee I " . . .115
3CVIII. In the Pastures 124

XIX. On the Hillside 130

XX. Full Moon 134

XXI. The Flower is Planted . ... . . .140

XXII. In the Twilight 144

XXIII. Captain Bisson makes a discovery . . . .151

XXIV. And a Resolution 156

XXV. Retrospection 163

XXVI. Farewell 168

XXVII. Two Roses . 171

XXVIII. Euphrasie Monier I77

XXIX. The Cafe of the Fleur-de-Lys 187

XXX. The "Hortense" 192

XXXI. Nicole Louandre t 196

XXXII. Out at Sea 199

XXXIII. A Glimpse of Home 204


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Chap. Pagb.'

XXXIV. Mother and Child 210

XXXV. The Midnight Mass 216

XXXVI. A Shadow on the Snow 221

XXXVII. " How like a Winter hath thine absence been " 226

XX}^VIII. Euphrasie makes her Calculations . . . .231

XXXIX. And secures her Prize 236

XL. Nicole Louandre makes a Proposal .... 242
XLI. Bisson decides an Important Question . . . 250

XLII. The Ship sails 257

XLI 1 1. Bisson on the Rack 203

XLIV. A Last Appeal 271

XLV. " Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows " . . 277
XLVI. " Adieu Love 1 adieu Love ! untrue Love I " . .289

XLVII. Ballyferry 293

XL VIII. Birds of Prey 300

XLIX. Moonlight Visions 307

L. Louandre again 311

LI. Friends in need .* 316

LII. A Good Christian Interferes . ; . . . 322
LIII. Homeward . .' . . . . . .328

LIV. Sea-wash 334

LV. Troubled Waters 337

LVl. Father Moy thatches his Bed 341

LVIl. Storm . . . 346

LVIIl. " Blow, blow, thou Winter wind I " . . . .351

LIX. Intercession 301

LX. Drift-weed^ . 367

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DAWN is breaking on Eagle Island. The mighty Atlan-
tic stretches around in one monotonous half-circle
rimmed with a faint pink line, but far away to the east,
rising cloud-like on the horizon, is the glimmer of the Irish

Overhead the sky is flecked with morning-mist. Masses
of dark slate colored cloud, shot with rainy gold, float up
one by one from the east, disclosing behind them a sky
of burning crimson, faintly shaded with a vaporous veil.
The sun, rising slowly over Ireland, shines. across the sea
to Eagle Island.

The slate-colored clouds have passed across the sky, the
mist is scattered like smoke and blown seaward, and the
bright rays beat down upon the basaltic crags of the
island, burnishing them to a mass of sullen crimson and

Stand upon the highest crag and gaze around.

The waters of the ocean .heave up in huge dark swells,
here and there troubled, broken, and crested with boiling
surf; hissing and foaming as the waves roll shoreward,
until breaking with a roar upori the outjutting crags and
rocks, they send their clouds of vapor up to heaven.

There was storm last night. A roar as of distant thun-
der still iills the ears, while the waters rise and fail with a
troubled pulsation.

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A land of sea and sky. Nothing above or around to
relieve the vision, save that dim shadow of the mainland.
All is solitary and sad.

As the sun rises higher and higher, white mists gradu-
ally arise from the surface of the sea, and slowly ascending,
blend with the fleecy clouds which hover on the peaks and
float away into thQ burning blue.

Calm is on the ocean, and calm is on the land.

The island itself is revealed fresh from the dewy baths
of morning. Crags, mountains, glistening peaks that point
to heaven ; stretches of green pasture and growing corn,
black moors and wastes of heather ; streams and mountain
loughs glimmering before the eye. * The sides of thfe moun-
tains are torn into craggy dells, through which the torrents
creep ; and here and there amidst the openings in the
granite crags are glimpses of emerald where the sheep and
goats creep small as white mice. Far below the land
stretches in an even sweep of grass and heather, broken
up by crags and boulders and loose stones. To the south
of the island fantastically shapen rocks form promontories
projecting far out into the sea : some detached and point-
ing needle-like to the sky, others topped with table-lands
of grass and heather, which are again enclosed by masses
of distorted crags, crested with sea smoke and drifting
clouds. All round the cliffs are terrible, opening here and
there like huge jaws filled with sharp, cruel teeth. Beneath
these the sea washes and surges incessantly in and out of
caverns black as night ; — then it is cast back, and the hiss-
ing foam spreads out upon the water, and the white sea
smoke, rising high in the air, is beaten* into the face of a
young girl who stands upon one of the highest cliffs, look-
ing out over the ocean.

As she stands high in the air, her dress is blown back
by the breeze which comes in. from the sea, and her hair
falls loose from the white scarf which covers her head and
is wound about her neck and shoulders. Her skirt, which
is wrought of homespun cloth, reaches scarcely to her
ankles ; her feet and legs are bare.

With the light of dawn upon her dark face, she pauses,
looking at the sea. Presently she turns, leaps lightly down
the crag, .and, with the unconscious assurance of one who

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is well used to such work, carefully descends the cliff, step-
ping with sure-footed certainty from one perilous ledge to
another, until she reaches the shore below. 'There she
stands dwarfed to Lilliputian stature, for the great cliffs
rise behind her, one above another, until they are lost in
broken clouds and spindrift ; while at her feet along the
edge of the shingle and on the strand is boiling the white
surf. Again she looks at the sea, then she turns and walks
slowly along the shore.

The tide is rising, for the waves creep on and on,
further up the strand, until the water almost reaches her
path j she does not notice this, but carelessly wanders on
until, at a turn in the beach, her path is suddenly blocked.

From the mainland stretches far out into the sea a
promontory of granite rock, midway in which an archway
has been wrought by the incessant washing of the water.
Just above the archway, the grass grows fresh and green,
and the cattle feed ; below, clinging to the roof and to the
craggy sides, grow masses of moss, lichen, and tangled weed.
The roof is still wet with the spray of last night's storm,
and the water falls in great black drops into a pool which
lies below clear as , a crystal brook. The gate of the
Moruig Dubh, as it is named, is supported by two massive
arches of solid granite ; one of which is attached to the
mainland, the other rising solitary from the sea. The tide
has risen here, and the girl sees that further progress is
impossible, for the waves rise up with that troubled throb-
bing motion, which succeeds an ocean storm, wash about
the columns of granite and basaltic crag, and are sucked
up between the rocks, and dashed back, a mass of froth
and spray. She pauses for a moment, watching the tide as
it creeps slowly up the sand, then she half turns, is about
to ascend another narrow path leading up to the cliff, when
she pauses again, starts back, and stares amazed.

Stretched upon the shore, close to the edge of the sea,
and only a few yards from where she stands, is a dark
mass, which, seen from a distance, might have been mis-
taken for seaweed, or, likelier still, for ocean driftwood
which had been cast ashore during last night's storm. On
closer scrutiny, however, it assumes a human form ; that of
a man lashed ^rmly by a rope to a broken ship's spar.

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Dead or living, he does not stir, but lies quite uncon-
scious with closed eyes and face turned up to the sky. A
young face is his and very fair. The skin is burnt olive
brown seemingly with constant exposure to sun, wind and
rain. A light soft mustache shades a short upper lip, but
the chin is bare ; a cluster of bright golden hair falls back
from a broad low brow. His body is only partially clothed,
his boots and cdat being gone ; and his remaining gar-
ments are saturated with the salt water. The girl stands
terrified \ then she runs forward, kneels upon the shingle,
and looks intently into his face.

He does not stir. She lifts his hand. It is a small
hand very prettily formed and very white, but it is grazed
and cut along the back, and cold as ice.

Rising to her feet, she hesitates a moment, then stoop-
ing again, with some difficulty she unbinds the rope which
is lashed about his body, and putting forth all her strength,
draws him to a spot a few feet distant where the sun's
rays beat ; and finally relinquishing her hold, steps back
beneath the shelter of the overhanging crag, and watches
him in silence.

He lies like one in death ; his left hand clenched and
full of sand, but the right one open with the palm pressed
convulsively downwards.

For a long time he continues thus motionless ; and as
the tide creeps higher and higher up the beach, and the
day brightens, and the sun streams its hottest rays upon
the earth, and upon the man's face, the look of horror
deepens in the girl's eyes, for it now seems certain that
the man is dead. She creeps nearer, presses her hand
upon his heart, and sighs a sigh of infinite relief ; for the
heart beats slowly and feebly, the breast is troubled with
suppressed breathing. The man's features gradually be-
come less rigid, a faint color replaces the deathly hue of
his cheeks, the sun beats more fiercely upon him, his eye-
lids quiver, then gradually unclose. There is no life in
the eyes yet, however, for they are expressionless as are
those of a dead man, and fixed with a vacant stare upon
the girl's face. She starts to her feet^ and draws back

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Very gradually, as one might awaken from a mesmeric
sleep, does the man recover his consciousness. He stares
for a time vacantly at the sky,* then he rolls his eyes from
side to side, and after a time, moves his head. He passes
his hand across his eyes, feels his dripping clothes, and
looks at the ocean. His face clouds, his eyes become
more perplexed, till suddenly, a gleam of understanding
illuminates his features, and he murmurs faintly :

" Mon Dieu ! Saint Marie-Jesu ! "

Behind him the girl stands, regarding him with a fixed
look of wonder. At the sound of his voice she shrinks for
a moment into the shadow of the cliff ; then advancing,
she stands close beside him.

He raises his eyes to her face, looks at her half vacantly,
half wonderingly. He shivers through and through and
gasps for breath.

" on en sommes-nous ?" he asks quickly, and then
adds feebly in English, " Where am I ? "

And the girl quietly replies,

" You are on Eagle Island I "

The stranger speaks no more ; he looks at her fixedly,
his eyes grow glazed, his features become rigid, and he
sinks back swooning, or dying, on the sands.



SHE was an Irish peasant girl, and she dwelt amidst
the lonely crags of Eagle Island.

It is little known, this island, lying as it does far out
in the Atlantic, remote from the paths of men ; it is little
known, and seldom visited, save by great flocks of sea
birds, which yearly build their nests and rear their young
undisturbed in the fissures of the cliffs and crags which
tower up yonder to the sky.

Thousands of winters have snowed upon it, and thou-
sands of summers have shone upon it, yet still it remains
alone and undisturbed, rocked by the sea, blown upon by

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the winds, but hard and enduring; losing nothing, per-
haps, in being free from the emasculating breath of modern
culture and modern thought;

Fortunately, it has escaped the gaze of the compiler of
guide-books ; and it lies now as it lay thousands of years
ago, desolate, peopled by strange beings with gloomy faces,
who have never passed beyond the boundary of its shores.

Strange and forbidding are these inhabitants of Eagle
Island, totally removed from common association and com-
mon sympathy: the men, one and all, dark, gloomy-looking
fishers, \i)Xh solemn dead eyes which seldom light up into
joyful laughter ; the women, most of them, black-eyed,
black-haired brunettes, with the Celtic and the Spanish
blood mingling in their veins. A race apart with their own
language, their own manners and customs, and their own

Here they religiously believe in the evil eye, the second
sight, the water spirit, and the wraith, and any one of those
Herculean fishermen, with the heavy brows and soulless
eyes, will sturdily refuse to pass over the hills .after night-
fall, because, forsooth, they are haunted by the elves. We
civilized beings can afford to laugh at such superstitions ;
we have in fact, almost a liking for the little sprightly shad-
ows, whom Shakespeare and Drayton have made delight-
ful to us, and in whom we only poetically believe. But with
the Celt it is another matter. He has his own ideas upon
the subject, and he refuses to be moved. He believes the
" fairies " to be, not the innocent, mischievous creatures
of our imagination, but restless, cruel, sin-stained spirits,
who, being unable to rest peacefully below, have been sent
back to the earth to pass through purgatory and become
a scourge to man. Believing them .to be evil, he avoids
them with overmastering dread.

Quaint in their beliefs as in their way of living, the
Eagle Islanders have little in common with the world.
They obey their own laws, they enforce their own penalties,
and, strangest of all, they serve their own peculiar King.

Regularly every year, there is chosen from amongst them
a man of unusual- strength and courage, able to' take the
lead amongst the people, and to undertake the government
of the land. The limit of his simple rule is one year ; if,

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at the end of that time, it is found that he has fulfilled his
duties satisfactorily, he is re-elected, and his reign may
continue indefinitely ; but should he fail to realize popular
expectation, he is dethroned at the twelfth month.

The power with which this person is invested is by no
means supreme ; on ordinary occasions, indeed, the King
of Eagle Island is no whit superior to any of his subjects.
He is one of themselves, in fact ; he goes with them to the
fishing, works with them at the nets, and tills his own croft
of land as they till theirs. But should any dispute arise
on the island ; should any question of property trouble the
general pea'ce, the matter is referred at once to the King,
and finally settled by him.

From generation to generation, this "limited mon-
archy" has existed on Eagle Island. The outer world has
changed and progressed, but these people have remained
unchanged. The old have died and have been- buried
among the grey stones on the hillside ; the young have
risen up in their places, following the same occupations,
tilling the same sad acres, and creeping finally to the
same graves. As they were hundreds of years ago, so
they remain now.

Among the many curious traditions rife on the Island,
most noteworthy is that concerning the infusion of Span-
ish blood in the veins of its inhabitants.

When the ships of the great Spanish Armada, after
having suffered their terrible defeat by the English fleet,
were flying before the wrath of man and God, scattered
helplessly on the waste of waters, and drifted on from
doom to doom, many a mighty vessel, crammed full
of gloriously apparelled soldiers and mighty steeds, was
crushed into driftwood upon the Irish coast, along which
innumerable savage eyes were watching for their prey.

Of this wholesale wreckage, Eagle Island doubtless
received its share, sown as it is on every side with fatal
reefs and direful rocks. The tradition states that the
islanders, although they slaughtered many of the survivors
out of fear, out of pity spared a certain number, and with
these many Spanish horses which had swum in all their
glittering accoutrements, to shore. The Spaniards re-
mained on the island, took Celtic names, intermarried

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with the inhabitants, arid left behind them a race partly
Celtic, partly Spanish, in whom were interminged all the
virtues, and a few of the vices, of both nations.

So runs the tradition, striking indications of the truth
of which still remain. On Eagle Island is still to be
found a breed of horses which for beauty and strength
almost rival their Spanish progenitors ; while everywhere,
as we have said, the eye may rest on the faces of women
whose dark olive skins and passioniate eyes seem clear
indications of their Spanish descent.

Of such a type was Morna Dunroon.

Her father was a fisherman, a direct descendant of
the Spaniards, inheriting many of their characteristic
traits. The coal black hair and eyes and swarthy skin
indicated his descent, but the fiery temper of the man
seemed a better indication than all. Broghan Dunroon
loved power, and with that, in a rude sort of way, he was

For some twenty years he had held the position of
"King" of Eagle Island, until his right had become so
established that none cared or wished to question it. And
indeed he possessed many virtues which admirably fitted
him for the post. His knowledge of sea craft was great,
his courage and determination extraordinary, and his
honesty and veracity had long won for him the confidence
of the people.

Many of the traits of Broghan Dunroon had descended
to his daughter. She had the same dark passionate eyes,
the same black hair and brown skin ; but the fiery nature
of the Spaniards was tempered in her by an infusion of
gentler blood.

Morna was an only child. Many years had passed
since her mother had been carried away and buried in the
little graveyard on the hill, where the bones of her Celtic
and Spanish ancestors had smouldered for hundreds of
years ; and since that time, the child had been left to the
care of her father, who had reared her in rough and ready
fisher^s fashion. In truth, Morna seemed to need little hu-
man care, being rather like the fish and the seals, which
are born of the elements, reared by them, and given to
them to sport with at their will. She was left alone, and

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the elements grew familiar to her. Of the far off mainland
she knew nothing : it was only to her a great, unrealizable
mystery, and a dream. Eagle Island was her world j this
she knew well and passionately loved.

The sea was her nuf;fe, she grew in its waters, and she
was strengthened by its fostering breath. She roamed its
shores day after day, moving from crag to crag, from cave
to cave, until every spot on the heights and every cranny
in the cliffs, grew as familiar to her as her own features.
But best of all she loved to wander down close by the
green water, to watch the towering crags above her, the
sea birds in the air, the seals swimming around her and
looking at her with large human eyes, while her face would
light up with joy, and her cry ring through the cliffs, until
they laughed and echoed back again. Often on starlight
nights, little fisher children, and even strong fishermen,
passing along the high cliffs to their huts above, would
stand and look down at the sea and listen, whispering to
each other that they could hear the song of the "Midian

. The mermaids were silent down beneath in their silent
caves, above them the water washed with a monotonous
moan, but a song with strange echoes rang through the
cliffs and rose on the silent air. It was only Morna Dun-



AS the Stranger sank again senseless at her feet, Morna
Dunroon bent above him, with troubled, anxious eyes.
For a moment she remained motionless ; then reaching
forth her hands, she swept back the dripping hair, and
eagerly read every line of the fair face ; as she did so
his eyes opened once more, but this time they were quite
vacant and devoid of recognition,

* Midian Mara, Celtic name for the mermaid.

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Suddenly the girl started up and listened^

Online LibraryHarriett JayThe dark colleen: a love story → online text (page 1 of 33)