Not to be Taken at Bed-Time by Rosa Mulholland
This is the legend of a house called the Devil's Inn, standing in
the heather on the top of the Connemara mountains, in a shallow valley
hollowed between five peaks. Tourists sometimes come in sight of it on
September evenings; a crazy and weather-stained apparition, with the
sun glaring at it angrily between the hills, and striking its shattered
window-panes. Guides are known to shun it, however.
The house was built by a stranger, who came no one knew whence, and
whom the people nicknamed Coll Dhu (Black Coll), because of his sullen
bearing and solitary habits. His dwelling they called the Devil's Inn,
because no tired traveller had ever been asked to rest under its roof,
nor friend known to cross its threshold. No one bore him company in his
retreat but a wizen-faced old man, who shunned the good-morrow of the
trudging peasant when he made occasional excursions to the nearest
village for provisions for himself and master, and who was as secret as
a stone concerning all the antecedents of both.
For the first year of their residence in the country, there had been
much speculation as to who they were, and what they did with themselves
up there among the clouds and eagles. Some said that Coll Dhu was a
scion of the old family from whose hands the surrounding lands had
passed; and that, embittered by poverty and pride, he had come to bury
himself in solitude, and brood over his misfortunes. Others hinted of
crime, and flight from another country; others again whispered of those
who were cursed from birth, and could never smile, nor yet make friends
with a fellow-creature till the day of their death. But when two years
had passed, the wonder had somewhat died out, and Coll Dhu was little
thought of, except when a herd looking for sheep crossed the track of a
big dark man walking the mountains gun in hand, to whom he did not dare
say "Lord save you!" when a housewife rocking her cradle of a winter's
night, crossed herself as gust of storm thundered over her cabin-roof,
with the exclamation, "Oh, it's Coll Dhu that has enough o' the fresh
air about his head up there us night, the crature!"
Coll Dhu had lived thus in his solitude for some years, when it
became down that Colonel Blake, the new lord of the soil, was coming to
visit the country. By climbing one of the peaks encircling his eyrie,
Coll could look sheer down a mountain-side, and see in miniature
beneath him, a grey old dwelling with ivied chimneys and weather-slated
walls, standing amongst straggling trees and grim warlike rocks, that
gave it the look of a fortress, gazing out to the Atlantic for ever
with the eager eyes of all its windows, as if demanding perpetually,
"What tidings from the New World?"
He could see now masons and carpenters crawling about below, like
ants in the sun, over-running the old house from base to chimney,
daubing here and knocking there, tumbling down walls that looked to
Coll, up among the clouds, like a handful of jack-stones, and building
up others that looked like the toy fences in a child's Farm. Throughout
several months he must have watched the busy ants at their task of
breaking and mending again, disfiguring and beautifying; but when all
was done he had not the curiosity to stride down and admire the
handsome panelling of the new billiard-room, nor yet the fine view
which the enlarged bay-window in the drawing-room commanded of the
watery highway to Newfoundland.
Deep summer was melting into autumn, and the amber streaks of decay
were beginning to creep out and trail over the ripe purple of moor and
mountain, when Colonel Blake, his only daughter, and a party of
friends, arrived in the country. The grey house below was alive with
gaiety, but Coll Dhu no longer found an interest in observing it from
his eyrie. When he watched the sun rise or set, he chose to ascend some
crag that looked on no human habitation. When he sallied forth on his
excursion, gun in hand, he set his face towards the most isolated
wastes, dipping into the loneliest valleys, and scaling the nakedest
ridges. When he came by chance within call of other excursionists, gun
in hand he plunged into the shade of some hollow, and avoided an
encounter. Yet it was fated, for all that, that he and Colonel Blake
Toward the evening of one bright September day, the wind changed,
and in half an hour the mountains were wrapped in a thick blinding
mist. Coll Dhu was far from his den, but so well had he searched these
mountains, and inured himself to their climate, that neither storm,
rain, nor fog, had power to disturb him. But while he stalked on his
way, a faint and agonised cry from a human voice reached him through
the smothering mist. He quickly tracked the sound, and gained the side
of a man who was stumbling along in danger of death at every step.
"Follow me!" said Coll Dhu to this man, and, in an hour's time,
brought him safely to the lowlands, and up to the walls of the
"I am Colonel Blake," said the frank soldier, when, having left the
fog behind him, they stood in the starlight under the lighted windows.
"Pray tell me quickly to whom I owe my life."
As he spoke, he glanced up at his benefactor, a large man with a
somber sun-burned face.
"Colonel Blake," said Coll Dhu, after a strange pause, "your father
suggested to my father to stake his estates at the gaming table. They
were staked, and the tempter won. Both are dead; but you and I live,
and I have sworn to injure you."
The colonel laughed good humouredly at the uneasy face above
"And you began to keep your oath to-night by saving my life?" said
he. "Come! I am a soldier, and know how to meet an enemy; but I had far
rather meet a friend. I shall not be happy till you have eaten my salt.
We have merrymaking to-night in honour of my daughter's birthday. Come
in and join us?"
Coll Dhu looked at the earth doggedly.
"I have told you," he said, "who and what I am, and I will not cross
But at this moment (so runs my story) a French window opened among
the flower-beds by which they were standing, and a vision appeared
which stayed the words on Coll's tongue. A stately girl, clad in white
satin, stood framed in the ivied window, with the warm light from
within streaming around her richly-moulded figure into the night. Her
face was as pale as her gown, her eyes were swimming in tears, but a
firm smile sat on her lips as she held out both hands to her father.
The light behind her, touched the glistening folds of her dress---the
lustrous pearls round her throat--the coronet of blood-red roses which
encircled the knotted braids at the back of her head. Satin, pearls,
and roses--had Coll Dhu, of the Devil's Inn, never set eyes upon such
Evleen Blake was no nervous tearful miss. A few quick words--"Thank
God! you're safe; the rest have been home an hour"--and a tight
pressure of her father's fingers between her own jewelled hands, were
all that betrayed the uneasiness she had suffered.
"Faith, my love, I owe my life to this brave gentleman!" said the
blithe colonel. "Press him to come in and be our guest, Evleen. He
wants to retreat to his mountains, and lose himself again in the fog
where I found him; or, rather where he found me! Come, sir" (to Coll),
"you must surrender to this fair besieger."
An introduction followed. "Coll Dhu!" murmured Evleen Blake, for she
had heard the common tales of him; but with a frank welcome she invited
her father's preserver to taste the hospitality of that father's
"I beg you to come in, sir," she said; "but for you our gaiety must
have been turned into mourning. A shadow will be upon our mirth if our
benefactor disdains to join in it."
With a sweet grace, mingled with a certain hauteur from which she
was never free, she extended her white hand to the tall looming figure
outside the window; to have it grasped and wrung in a way that made the
proud girl's eyes flash their amazement, and the same little hand
clench itself in displeasure, when it had hid itself like an outraged
thing among the shining folds of her gown. Was this Coll Dhu mad, or
The guest no longer refused to enter, but followed the white figure
into a little study where a lamp burned; and the gloomy stranger, the
bluff colonel, and the young mistress of the house, were fully
discovered to each other's eyes. Evleen glanced at the newcomer's dark
face, and shuddered with a feeling of indescribable dread and dislike;
then, to her father, accounted for the shudder after a popular fashion,
saying lightly: "There is someone walking over my grave."
So Coll Dhu was present at Evleen Blake's birthday ball. Here he
was, under a roof which ought to have been his own, a stranger, known
only by a nickname, shunned and solitary. Here he was, who had lived
among the eagles and foxes, lying in wait with a fell purpose, to be
revenged on the son of his father's foe for poverty and disgrace, for
the broken heart of a dead mother, for the loss of a self-slaughtered
father, for the dreary scattering of brothers and sisters.
Here he stood, a Samson shorn of his strength; and all because a
haughty girl had melting eyes, a winning mouth, and looked radiant in
satin and roses.
Peerless where many were lovely, she moved among her friends, trying
to be unconscious of the gloomy fire of those strange eyes which
followed her unweariedly wherever she went. And when her father begged
her to be gracious to the unsocial guest whom he would fain conciliate,
she courteously conducted him to see the new picture-gallery adjoining
the drawing-rooms; explained under what odd circumstances the colonel
had picked up this little painting or that; using every delicate art
her pride would allow to achieve her father's purpose, whilst
maintaining at the same time her own personal reserve; trying to divert
the guest's oppressive attention from herself to the objects for which
she claimed her notice. Coll Dhu followed his conductress and listened
to her voice, but what she said mattered nothing; nor did she wring
many words of comment or reply from his lips, until they paused in a
retired corner where the light was dim, before a window from which the
curtain was withdrawn. The sashes were open, and nothing was visible
but water; the night Atlantic, with the full moon riding high above a
bank of clouds, making silvery tracks outward towards the distance of
infinite mystery dividing two worlds. Here the following little scene
is said to have been enacted.
"This window of my father's own planning, is it not creditable to
his taste?" said the young hostess, as she stood, herself glittering
like a dream of beauty, looking on the moonlight.
Coll Dhu made no answer; but suddenly, it is said, asked her for a
rose from a cluster of flowers that nestled in the lace on her
For the second time that night Evleen Blake's eyes flashed with no
gentle light. But this man was the saviour of her father. She broke off
a blossom, and with such good grace, and also with such queen-like
dignity as she might assume, presented it to him. Whereupon, not only
was the rose seized, but also the hand that gave it, which was hastily
covered with kisses.
Then her anger burst upon him.
"Sir," she cried, "if you are a gentleman you must be mad! If you
are not mad, then you are not a gentleman!"
"Be merciful" said Coll Dhu; "I love you. My God, I never loved a
woman before! Ah!" he cried, as a look of disgust crept over her face,
"You hate me. You shuddered the first time your eyes met mine. I love
you, and you hate me!"
"I do," cried Evleen, vehemently, forgetting everything but her
indignation. "Your presence is like something evil to me. Love
me?--your looks poison me. Pray, sir, talk no more to me in this
"I will trouble you no longer," said Coll Dhu. And, stalking to the
window, he placed one powerful hand upon the sash, and vaulted from it
out of her sight.
Bare-headed as he was, Coll Dhu strode off to the mountains, but not
towards his own home.
All the remaining dark hours of that night he is believed to have
walked the labyrinths of the hills, until dawn began to scatter the
clouds with a high wind. Fasting, and on foot from sunrise the morning
before, he was then glad enough to see a cabin right in his way.
Walking in, he asked for water to drink, and a corner where he might
throw himself to rest.
There was a wake in the house, and the kitchen was full of people,
all wearied out with the night's watch; old men were dozing over their
pipes in the chimney-corner, and here and there a woman was fast asleep
with her head on a neighbour's knee. All who were awake crossed
themselves when Coll Dhu's figure darkened the door, because of his
evil name; but an old man of the house invited him in, and offering him
milk, and promising him a roasted potato by-and-by, conducted him to a
small room off the kitchen, one end of which was strewed with heather,
and where there were only two women sitting gossiping over a fire.
"A traveller," said the old man, nodding his head at the women, who
nodded back, as if to say "he has the traveller's right." And Coll Dhu
flung himself on the heather, in the furthest corner of the narrow
The women suspended their talk for a while; but presently, guessing
the intruder to be asleep, resumed it in voices above a whisper. There
was but a patch of window with the grey dawn behind it, but Coll could
see the figures by the firelight over which they bent: an old woman
sitting forward with her withered hands extended to the embers, and a
girl reclining against the hearth wall, with her healthy face, bright
eyes, and crimson draperies, glowing by turns in the flickering
"I do' know," said the girl, "but it's the quarest marriage iver I
h'ard of. Sure it's not three weeks since he tould right an' left that
he hated her like poison!"
"Whist, asthoreen!" said the colliagh, bending forward
confidentially: "throth an' we all known that o' him. But what could he
do, the crature! When she put the burragh-bos on him!"
"The what?" asked the girl.
"Then the burragh-bos machree-o? That's the spanchel o' death,
avourneen; an' well she has him tethered to her now, bad luck to
The old woman rocked herself and stilled the Irish cry breaking from
her wrinkled lips by burying her face in her cloak.
"But what is it?" asked the girl, eagerly. "What's the burragh-bos,
anyways, an where did she get it?"
"Och, och! it's not fit for comm' over to young ears, but cuggir
(whisper), acushla! It's a sthrip o' the skin o' a corpse, peeled from
the crown o' the head to the heel, without crack or split, or the
charm's broke; an' that, rowled up, an' put on a sthring roun' the neck
o' the wan that's cowld by the wan that wants to be loved. An' sure
enough it puts the fire in their hearts, hot an' sthrong, afore
twinty-four hours is gone."
The girl had started from her lazy attitude, and gazed at her
companion with eyes dilated by horror.
"Marciful Saviour!" she cried. "Not a sowl on airth would bring the
curse out o' heaven by sich a black doin'!"
"Aisy, Biddeen alanna! an' there's wan that does it, an' isn't the
divil. Arrah, asthoreen, did ye niver hear tell o' Pexie na Pishrogie,
that lives betune two hills o' Maam Turk?"
"I h'ard o' her," said the girl, breathlessly.
"Well, sorra bit lie, but it's hersel' that does it. She'll do it
for money any day. Sure they hunted her from the graveyard o' Salruck,
where she had the dead raised; an' glory be to God! they would ha'
murthered her, only they missed her thracks, an' couldn't bring it home
to her afther."
"Whist, a-wauher" (my mother), said the girl; "here's the thraveller
getting' up to set off on his road again! Och, then, it's the short
rest he tuk, the sowl!"
It was enough for Coll, however. He had got up, and now went back to
the kitchen, where the old man had caused a dish of potatoes to be
roasted, and earnestly pressed his visitor to sit down and eat of them.
This Coll did readily; having recruited his strength by a meal, he
betook himself to the mountains again, just as the rising sun was
flashing among the waterfalls, and sending the night mists drifting
down the glens. By sundown the same evening he was striding over the
hills of Maam Turk, asking of herds his way to the cabin of one Pexie
In a hovel on a brown desolate heath, with scared-looking hills
flying off into the distance on every side, he found Pexie: a
yellow-faced hag, dressed in a dark-red blanket, with elf-locks of
coarse black hair protruding from under an orange kerchief swathed
round her wrinkled jaws.
She was bending over a pot upon her fire, where herbs were
simmering, and she looked up with an evil glance when Col Dhu darkened
"The burragh-bos is it her honour wants?" she asked, when he had
made known his errand.
"Ay, ay; but the arighad, the arighad (money) for Pexie. The
burragh-bos is ill to get."
"I will pay," said Coll Dhu, laying a sovereign on the bench before
The witch sprang upon it, and chuckling, bestowed on her visitor a
glance which made even Coll Dhu shudder.
"Her honour is a fine king," she said, "an' her is fit to get the
burragh-bos. Ha! ha! her sall get the burragh-bos from Pexie. But the
arighad is not enough. More, more!"
She stretched out her claw-like hand, and Coll dropped another
sovereign into it. Whereupon she fell into more horrible convulsions of
"Hark ye!" cried Coll. "I have paid you well, but if your infernal
charm does not work, I will have you hunted for a witch!"
"Work!" cried Pexie, rolling up her eyes. "If Pexie's charrm not
work, then her honour come back here an' carry these bits o' mountain
away on her back. Ay, her will work. If the colleen hate her honour
like the old diaoul hersel', still an' withal her love will love her
honour like her own white sowl afore the sun sets or rises. That, (with
a furtive leer,) or the colleen dhas go wild mad afore wan hour."
"Hag!" returned Coll Dhu; "the last part is a hellish invention of
your own. I heard nothing of madness. If you want more money, speak
out, but play none of your hideous tricks on me."
The witch fixed her cunning eyes on him, and took her cue at once
from his passion.
"Her honour guess thrue," she simpered; "it is only the little bit
more arighad poor Pexie want."
Again the skinny hand was extended. Coll Dhu shrank from touching
it, and threw his gold upon the table.
"King, king!" chuckled Pexie. "Her honour is a grand king. Her
honour is fit to get the buragh-bos. The colleen dhas sail love her
like her own white sowl. Ha, ha!"
"When shall I get it?" asked Coll Dhu, impatiently.
"Her honour sall come back to Pexie in so many days, do-deag
(twelve), so many days, fur that the burragh-bos is hard to get. The
lonely graveyard is far away, an' dead man is hard to raise--"
"Silence!" cried Coll Dhu; "not a word more. I will have your
hideous charm, but what it is, or where you get it, I will not
Then, promising to come back in twelve days, he took his departure.
Turning to look back when a little way across the heath, he saw Pexie
gazing after him, standing on her black hill in relief against the
lurid flames of the dawn, seeming to his dark imagination like a fury
with all hell at her back.
At the appointed time Coll Dhu got the promised charm. He sewed it
with perfumes into a cover of cloth of gold, and slung it to a
fine-wrought chain. Lying in a casket which had once held the jewels of
Coll's broken-hearted mother, it looked a glittering bauble enough.
Meantime the people of the mountains were cursing over their cabin
fires, because there had been another unholy raid upon their graveyard,
and were banding themselves to hunt the criminal down.
A fortnight passed. How or where could Coll Dhu find an opportunity
to put the charm round the neck of the colonel's proud daughter? More
gold was dropped into Pexie's greedy claw, and then she promised to
assist him in his dilemma.
Next morning the witch dressed herself in decent garb, smoothed her
elf-locks under a snowy cap, smoothed the evil wrinkles out of her
face, and with a basket on her arm locked the door of the hovel, and
took her way to the lowlands. Pexie seemed to have given up her
disreputable calling for that of a simple mushroom-gatherer. The
housekeeper at the grey house bought poor Muireade's mushrooms of her
every morning. Every morning she left unfailingly a nosegay of wild
flowers for Miss Evleen Blake, "God bless her! She had never seen the
darling young lady with her own two longing eyes, but sure hadn't she
heard tell of her sweet purty face, miles away!" And at last, one
morning, whom should she meet but Miss Evleen herself returning along
from a ramble. Whereupon poor Muireade "made bold" to present her
flowers in person.
"Ah," said Evleen, "it is you who leave me the flowers every
morning? They are very sweet."
Muireade had sought her only for a look at her beautiful face. And
now that she had seen it, as bright as the sun, and as fair as the
lily, she would take up her basket and go away contented.
Yet she lingered a little longer.
"My lady never walk up big mountain?" said Pexie.
"No," said Evleen, laughing; she feared she could not walk up a
"Ah yes; my lady ought to go, with more gran' ladies an' gentlemen,
ridin' on purty little donkeys, up the big mountains. Oh, gran' things
up big mountains for my lady to see!"
Thus she set to work, and kept her listener enchained for an hour,
while she related wonderful stories of those upper regions. And as
Evleen looked up to the burly crowns of the hills, perhaps she thought
there might be sense in this wild old woman's suggestion. It ought to
be a grand world up yonder.
Be that as it may, it was not long after this when Coll Dhu got
notice that a party from the grey house would explore the mountains
next day; that Evleen Blake would be one of the number; and that he,
Coll, must prepare to house and refresh a crowd of weary people, who in
the evening should be brought, hungry and faint, to his door. The
simple mushroom gatherer should be discovered laying in her humble
stock among the green places between the hills, should volunteer to act
as guide to the party, should lead them far out of their way through
the mountains and up and down the most toilsome ascents and across
dangerous places; to escape safely from which, the servants should be
told to throw away the baskets of provision which they carried.
Coll Dhu was not idle. Such a feast was set forth, as had never been
spread so near the clouds before. We are told of wonderful dishes
furnished by unwholesome agency, and from a place believed much hotter
than is necessary for purposes of cookery. We are told also how Coll
Dhu's barren chambers were suddenly hung with curtains of velvet, and
with fringes of gold; how the blank white walls glowed with delicate
colours and gilding; how gems of pictures sprang into sight between the
panels; how the tables blazed with plate and gold, and glittered with
the rarest glass; how such wines flowed, as the guests had never
tasted; how servants in the richest livery, amongst whom the
wizen-faced old man was a mere nonentity, appeared, and stood ready to
carry in the wonderful dishes, at whose extraordinary fragrance the
eagles came pecking to the windows, and the foxes drew near the walls,
snuffing. Sure enough, in all good time, the weary party came within
sight of the Devil's Inn, and Coll Dhu sallied forth to invite them
across his lonely threshold. Colonel Blake (to whom Evleen, in her
delicacy, had said no word of the solitary's strange behaviour to
herself) hailed his appearance with delight, and the whole party sat
down to Coll's banquet in high good humour. Also, it is said, in much
amazement at the magnificence of the mountain recluse.
All went in to Coll's feast, save Evleen Blake, who remained
standing on the threshold of the outer door; weary, but unwilling to
rest there; hungry, but unwilling to eat there. Her white cambric dress
was gathered on her arms, crushed and sullied with the toils of the
day; her bright cheek was a little sunburned; her small dark head with
its braids a little tossed, was bared to the mountain air and the glory
of the sinking sun; her hands were loosely tangled in the strings of
her hat; and her foot sometimes tapped the threshold-stone. So she was
The peasants tell that Coll Dhu and her father came praying her to
enter, and that the magnificent servants brought viands to the
threshold; but no step would she move inward, no morsel would she
"Poison, poison!" she murmured, and threw the food in handfuls to
the foxes, who were snuffing on the heath.
But it was different when Muireade, the kindly old woman, the simple
mushroom gatherer, with all the wicked wrinkles smoothed out of her
face, came to the side of the hungry girl, and coaxingly presented a
savoury mess of her own sweet mushrooms, served on a common earthen
"An' darlin', my lady, poor Muireade her cook them hersel', an' no
thing o' this house touch them or look at poor Muireade's
Then Evleen took the platter and ate a delicious meal. Scarcely was
it finished when a heavy drowsiness fell upon her, and, unable to
sustain herself on her feet, she presently sat down upon the
door-stone. Leaning her head against the framework of the door, she was
soon in a deep sleep, or trance. So she was found.
"Whimsical, obstinate little girl!" said the colonel, putting his
hand on the beautiful slumbering head. And taking her in his arms, he
carried her into a chamber which had been (say the story-tellers)
nothing but a bare and sorry closet in the morning but which was now
fitted up with Oriental splendour. And here on a luxurious couch she
was laid, with a crimson coverlet wrapping her feet. And here in the
tempered light coming through jewelled glass, where yesterday had been
a coarse rough-hung window, her father looked his last upon her lovely
The colonel returned to his host and friends, and by-and-by the
whole party sallied forth to see the after-glare of a fierce sunset
swathing the hills in flames. It was not until they had gone some
distance that Coll Dhu remembered to go back and fetch his telescope.
He was not long absent. But he was absent long enough to enter that
glowing chamber with a stealthy step, to throw a light chain around the
neck of the sleeping girl, and to slip among the folds of her dress the
hideous glittering burragh-bos.
After he had gone away again, Pexie came stealing to the door, and,
opening it a little, sat down on the mat outside, with her cloak
wrapped round her. An hour passed, and Evleen Blake still slept, her
breathing scarcely stirring the deadly bauble on her breast. After
that, she began to murmur and moan, and Pexie pricked up her ears.
Presently a sound in the room told that the victim was awake and had
risen. Then Pexie put her face to the aperture of the door and looked
in, gave a howl of dismay, and fled from the house, to be seen in that
country no more.
The light was fading among the hills, and the ramblers were
returning towards the Devil's Inn, when a group of ladies who were
considerably in advance of the rest, met Evleen Blake advancing towards
them on the heath, with her hair disordered as by sleep, and no
covering on her head. They noticed something bright, like gold,
shifting and glancing with the motion of her figure. There had been
some jesting among them about Evleen's fancy for falling asleep on the
door-step instead of coming in to dinner, and they advanced laughing,
to rally her on the subject.
But she stared at them in a strange way, as if she did not know
them, and passed on. Her friends were rather offended, and commented on
her fantastic humour; only one looked after her, and got laughed at by
her companions for expressing uneasiness on the wilful young lady's
So they kept their way, and the solitary figure went fluttering on,
the white robe blushing, and the fatal burragh-bos glittering in the
reflexion from the sky. A hare crossed her path, and she laughed out
loudly, and clapping her hands, sprang after it. Then she stopped and
asked questions of the stones, striking them with her open palm because
they would not answer. (An amazed little herd sitting behind a rock,
witnessed these strange proceedings.) By-and-by she began to call after
the birds, in a wild shrill way startling the echoes of the hills as
she went along. A party of gentlemen returning by a dangerous path,
heard the unusual sound and stopped to listen.
"What is that?" asked one.
"A young eagle," said Coll Dhu, whose face had become livid; "they
often give such cries."
"It was uncommonly like a woman's voice!" was the reply; and
immediately another wild note rang towards them from the rocks above: a
bare saw-like ridge, shelving away to some distance ahead, and
projecting one hungry tooth over an abyss. A few more moments and they
saw Evleen Blake's light figure fluttering out towards this dizzy
"My Evleen!" cried the colonel, recognising his daughter, "she is
mad to venture on such a spot!"
"Mad!" repeated Coll Dhu. And then dashed off to the rescue with all
the might and swiftness of his powerful limbs.
When he drew near her, Evleen had almost reached the verge of the
terrible rock. Very cautiously he approached her, his object being to
seize her in his strong arms before she was aware of his presence, and
carry her many yards away from the spot of danger. But in a fatal
moment Evleen turned her head and saw him. One wild ringing cry of hate
and horror, which startled the very eagles and scattered a flight of
curlews above her head, broke from her lips. A step backward brought
her within a foot of death.
One desperate though wary stride, and she was struggling in Coll's
embrace. One glance in her eyes, and he saw that he was striving with a
mad woman. Back, back, she dragged him, and he had nothing to grasp by.
The rock was slippery and his shod feet would not cling to it. Back,
back! A hoarse panting, a dire swinging to and fro; and then the rock
was standing naked against the sky, no one was there, and Coll Dhu and
Evleen Blake lay shattered far below.