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and between whose cloistered vaults and the dark dungeons of Castle Rushen, tradition says there once existed a secret subterranean passage, whose walls, had they tongues as well as the ears attributed to mural constructions, could doubtless tell many a dismal tale of persecution and wrong.
In a cottage in the outskirts of Ballasalla, and removed but a few paces from the Douglas road, dwelt, many years ago, one Tom Kewley with his wife and one child. Tom was an honest fellow, and was industrious as most of his neighbours, cultivating a patch of land, hardly of extent sufficient to be called a farm, and occasionally, especially in the herring season, taking a turn as one of the crew of a Peel or Port-le-Mary fishing lugger.
Kewley might have been a more thriving man than he was but for the falling he shared with so many of his neighbours--a liking for jovial company, and not knowing when he had had enough of strong drink. The consequence was that many a groat and many an hour were wasted with boon companions that might have been employed otherwise, to the great advantage of himself and family.
One evening in the early autumn Tom was trudging towards his home after visiting his fields, whither he had been to see how soon his crops would be ready for the sickle, when, casting his eye over his shoulder to watch some clouds gathering upon the mountain top, which, he feared, portended a storm not very favourable to his little expected harvest, his attention was arrested by seeing a cloud of white mist apparently roll from under a dark, threatening cloud hanging on the mountain side. This mist had an appearance different to anything he had ever noticed before, and while gazing at it he thought he perceived the figure of a man emerge from it, waving his arms in a frantic manner, and running with all speed down the hillside towards the village. He stood and watched attentively what, at first, he thought must be some supernatural being; but as the man drew nearer, hurrying on and scrambling over every obstacle in his way, Tom thought he recognized the figure, and, mounting to the top of a stone wall
to get a better view, he himself became visible to the running man, who altered his course and hastened on towards him with increased speed, shouting at the top of his voice. As the fugitive--for there could be no doubt he was one, and flying for his life--approached nearer, Kewley recognized him as Philip Caine, a pedlar, who travelled the island over, from end to end and from one side to the other, with his pack of useful and tempting articles; and who was always a welcome guest, go where he would, for he ever had a budget full of news as well as wares.
"Phil is that yourself? and what's your haste, man? You couldn't run faster or look more scared if a buggane, or Cuttar McCulloch himself, were at your heels. What on earth's the matter? Speak, man."
The flying pedlar could give no reply. He was far too exhausted with his run down the mountain side to speak, and stood clinging to Tom's arm panting for breath, and looking as Tom had said, "scared," and as if he feared being followed and snatched away by some uncanny arm.
"Where's your pack, Phil?" asked Kewley, seeing he was without his usual burden. "Is it robbed you've been, is it?"
"Robbed and murdered," gasped the pedlar, and sank into a sitting posture on the ground.
"Nonsense, man," rejoined Tom, with a laugh. "Murdered men don't run like you did. Come in the house and rest awhile. Maybe ye’ll be able to tell us all what's befell ye."
Peggy Kewley was not a little surprised on seeing the scared pedlar enter the cottage door with her husband, and it was not until Phil Caine had rested some time and partaken of supper that he could give any collected account of what had befallen him.
He had set out in the early morning from Peel with the intention of working his way to Castletown, calling at the different villages and farms on his way to dispose of his wares. His route lay over South Barrule, and after visiting St. John's, where he had done some good trade, he strapped his pack upon his shoulders, and started to cross the mountain. On and on, ever upward, Philip Caine wended his way,
bending beneath the burden of his pack as he trod the steep ascent. Presently, after leaving the last house on the northern side of the mountain, and nearing the highest part of the tract, that here served the purposes of roadway, he became suddenly enveloped in a dense cloud; but this was no unusual occurrence on such high ground, and Caine thought nothing of it, and knowing by the peculiar fineness of the grass that he must be very near the summit, he continued his journey without fear.
The clouds getting denser, he stopped for a while to rest and take breath for further progress, and then discovered he had wandered from the roadway. The short soft grass being pleasanter to walk upon than the stony road, he had chosen it, and had not noticed the fact of his having strayed from the road till he discovered he had actually lost his way. He waited patiently for some time resting, and thinking that ere long the clouds would disperse; but, to his surprise and dismay, they grew denser and denser, till at last, although he knew it still wanted several hours of sundown, it became as dark as night, and he could not distinguish any object twenty yards away.
While conjecturing what he could do, and fearing every instant the bursting of a violent storm, he watched eagerly all round for any indications of a break in the darkness, some ray of light. Presently the cloud gradually began to break and pass away. Slowly did the darkness dissipate and the light return, revealing as it did so to his astonished gaze a mighty castle, with tower above tower, battlemented walls, and all the splendour of a royal residence, in comparison with which Castle Rushen was a mere hovel. Never had he beheld so vast, so magnificent a building, but what it was, and how it came there, he could not at all imagine. He knew full well no such castle had ever been there before, and he had travelled the same road scores of times. On looking to see if he could discover any entrance or signs of life, he saw a large open courtyard, flanked on either side with extensive corridors and piazzas. At the further side was an open door, but no signs of life except a few tame
pigeons that took no notice of him as they flew about, and occasionally alighted on the ground in search of food. The door was wide open, but he dare not enter it. All was quiet and death-like. Not a sound was heard. The very pigeons flew noiselessly, the flutter of their wings being like everything around them, silent. He plucked up courage as the desire to sell his wares predominated over his first fears, and determined to wait outside in the courtyard to take advantage of any one's appearing whom he could induce to become a customer. He feared to enter, lest he should be turned out neck and crop, or perhaps seized and charged with doing so for some unlawful purpose. After waiting some time, and no one appearing, he sat himself down in full view of the door, so as to see any one who might come out. Feeling hungry as well as tired, he opened a small wallet, and taking out some bread, meat, and a little pinch of salt screwed up in paper, he proceeded to make himself comfortable and enjoy his meal. Scarcely had he commenced when he heard the strains of soft music within the castle; and after listening for some moments, the sounds of clattering footsteps were heard approaching down the hall towards the door. Before he could clear up the remnants of his repast and repack his wallet, which he proceeded in all haste to do, a weird and ghastly figure appeared, revealing as it emerged from the door and turned its head towards the horrified Philip Caine, a fleshless skeleton with its empty eye-sockets and dreadful grinning jaws.
The poor pedlar at once discovered he was on enchanted ground. The figure at the door beckoned with its fearful bony hand, and silently invited him to enter. Phil felt that if he did not instantly make his escape he would be lost for ever. He jumped up from his seat in a great hurry, and in doing so upset everything that was upon his lap--bread, meat, and with them the remains of the little pinch of SALT. No sooner did the salt touch the ground than the ghastly figure gave an unearthly yell and fell, with a noise like rattling hail, a heap of bones. The mighty fabric of the castle, after rocking and tottering to and fro, fell to the ground with a
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THE ENCHANTED CASTLE OF BARRULE.
crash that stunned the affrighted pedlar; the air was full of cries and rushing sounds; and a dense cloud of dust rising from the ruins hid everything from his view.
He took to his heels and ran for his bare life with all his might, leaving pack, wallet, and everything behind, and, scampering straight on as fast as his legs could carry him at last emerged from the mist scared out of his wits, more dead than alive, and continued running down the mountain side till he reached the spot where Tom Kewley was standing.
When Caine had concluded his narrative, which had been most attentively listened to, not only by the Kewleys, but by several neighbours who had dropped in to hear his strange adventures, Jemmie Quine, an old man well versed in the traditions of his native land, explained that "'twas the Enchanted Castle of Barrule," and proceeded in a most oracular way to inform them all that had Phil Caine once entered into the open doorway he would never have returned, but would have been detained by the terrible magician, and the bugganes who attended him, as their slave; and further, that it was the mystic power of the salt falling to the ground which had caused the castle to collapse and disappear, and given him the opportunity of escaping.
The pedlar was housed for the night, and every one in Ballasalla took especial care in placing the usual crock of cold water at each of their cottage doors before retiring to rest, for the fairies to drink, for fear any of the wee folk or bugganes belonging to the Enchanted Castle should be passing that way in the night, and, not finding the customary offering provided for them, wreak their vengeance on the unlucky defaulters.
In the morning several of Tom Kewley's friends accompanied him and Philip Caine up the mountain road in search of the missing pack, the loss of which would have entailed ruin upon the poor bewildered pedlar. The pack was found, with its contents all safe, and beside it the wallet and scattered remnants of Philip's meal, together with his kelpie and staff.
On their return walk much talk ensued as to the dangers of the mountain road, and every one feared that for some time to come it would be unsafe to travel alone until the bugganes' anger at Philip Caine had had time to subside.