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  THP: CELTIC MONTHLY.
  I.') 5
  sheilinfj on the hill, but would be back before
  the ' Waterwitch ' set sail. So he sat conten-
  tedly overhauling the brown net and examining
  the floats. The boat rose and fell gently on
  the swell. Donald Grant was playing the
  " Barren Kocks of Aden " on his pipes out at
  the point. The terns were lazily sunning
  themselves on the Skerries, and a great solan
  goose came flying over the blue sea from the
  far shores of Skye. There was nothing at all
  in Camusbeg that day to disturb the peace of
  Ewan's heart as he sat in the stern of the
  ' Waterwitch ' and sang the song of the
  biorlinn.
  In the evening the boats began to go out
  one by one — slowly slipping away from their
  moorings with the brown sails spread to catch
  the light westerly wind. As the ' Waterwitch '
  passed the point the fisherman at the helm
  lifted his j^eaked cap and waved it to a young
  girl who was standing on the rocks, and shading
  her eyes with her hand, as the long level rays of
  the setting sun fell on her graceful form. She
  returned the salute, and then sat down to watch
  the boat being carefully steered between the
  Skerries. At last it put about and was soon
  out of sight. Then she rose and crossed the
  rocks in the direction of Camusbeg, wondering
  all the while if Ewau would bring back good
  luck with him when he I'eturned from the
  fishing on the third night. As she passed the
  cottage at the head of the stone pier she saw
  the Evening Star beginning to send its kindly
  light across the waters of the quiet bay. And
  the heart of Ailasa was full of rest.
  * ;;: * -^
  The third night came, and with it a gale of
  easterly wind, such as had not been known for
  years in Eilean Eona. It is remembered yet
  as the night of the great wind. The day had
  been sultry and oppressive with a red mist
  hanging above the sea, and a silence like the
  silence of death had settled down upon the
  islands. It was at four o'clock in the day that
  a low muttering sound was heard coming over
  the glassy sea from the mountains of Torridon
  and Applecross. The Coolins took up the
  challenge and answered with a dull rumble.
  An hour latei- the darkness came down like the
  darkness of the winter night, and the first
  drops of rain began to fall with a hissing sound
  into the livid sea. Then the storm burst in all
  its fury over the islands as it came roaring
  across the water from Torridon, and all around
  the shores of Eilean Kona, where in the morning
  the sunlight had been lying warm on the rocks,
  the tempest was lashing the seas into a fury of
  spindrift and foam.
  In the blinding rain Ailasa made her way up
  to the cottage of Widow Mackenzie to sit with
  her for an hour. When she entered she noticed
  with a start that there was no lamp in the
  window.
  " It is a black night this Ailasa Macleod, and
  it was good of you to think of coming to sit
  with a lonely woman when the thunder will be
  over the island."
  " It is a black night indeed," answered the
  girl. •' But have you forgotten to light the
  lamp Misti'ess Mackenzie ? Ewan was saying
  that he would be back on the third night, and
  this will be the third night. Will he come
  back to Camusbeg when the storm is over the
  island ? "
  " There is no man will be coming back to
  Camusbeg in the face of such a gale. The lads
  will run into Portree before the wind, and it is
  in Portree that Ewan is tonight It is a
  wasting of the oil to hght the two lamps. But
  you are all trembling Ailasa? Is it the light-
  ning that you are afraid of? " For just then a
  crash of thunder broke over Eilean Rona, and
  the flash of lightning that followed lit up
  every corner of the little room.
  "Oh no" replied the girl. "But it was
  Ewan himself that promised to come back on
  the third night, and it would be better if the
  light was up when he comes in between the
  Skerries."
  "It is a foolish woman you are Ailasa
  Macleod, for no man would venture out into
  the sound. And it is I that will not put up a
  light when there is no need to waste the good
  oil."
  So the storm raged all the night with a fury
  that was like the fury of the black spirit let
  loose upon the waters, but out of the darkness
  that lay upon Eilean Rona there came no
  guiding rays from the Evening Star.
  It was late when Ailasa set out for home,
  and the wind and rain beat cruelly upon her as
  she crept along the shore in the dark. She
  stopped now and again to recover her breath,
  so strong was the wind against her, and all the
  time that she stood she was thinking of Ewan.
  She could hear the roar of the breakers on the
  devils' Skerries, and as she listened she imagined
  that she heard the cry of a night bird above the
  din of the tempest. Then she suddenly held
  her breath ! What was that '. Again she
  listened. And there seemed to come out of the
  wild night a long piteous cry — "Ailasa, Ailasa.'"
  But when she listened a third time there was
  nothing to be heard but the shrieking of the
  wind and the deafening roar of the sea. It
  was no voice. It was all her imagination.
  Ewan was safe in Portree with the other boats.
  So she continued to grope her way home
  through the darkness of the terrible night, but
  her heart was full of a great fear.

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