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N the latter part of the eleventh and the early part of the twelfth centuries, the Isle of Man was the home of the boldest race of rovers that scoured the seas; and one of the Manx monarchs, Hacon, was reckoned the mightiest sea-king of his day, and was appointed by Edgar, king of England, to the chief command of the allied English and Manx fleets; and with three thousand six hundred vessels sailed round the British Isles and swept the seas, driving all other rovers and pirates from the face of the ocean. Well earned was his title of "Prince of Seamen," and he may be regarded as the first on the list of British admirals--a roll containing, among other proud names, the glorious ones of Drake and Frobisher, Blake and Duncan, Howe, St. Vincent, Nelson, and a host of others, the mention of whose names will ever call forth a flush of pride on a Briton's cheek.

It is of a descendant of Hacon, King Olave the Second, called Olave

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[paragraph continues] Goddardson, the son of Goddard Crovan, by whom the royal sceptre of Man was for a time very worthily swayed; and the possessor of the great sword Macabuin, made by Loan Maclibhuin, the dark smith of Drontheim, our present story has to tell.

The Island of Man had some time previous been subjugated by the Norsemen, and partitioned among their several leaders or jarls, who were vassals to the king, holding their lands and possessions from him under feudal tenure; he in his turn doing homage and paying tribute to his suzerain, the king of Norway.

One of the most powerful of the many earls or jarls of Man was a
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 1 stalwart and marauding baron named Kitter, who, when not roving the seas in quest of booty, in company with other piratical Vikings, resided in an extensive but rude-built castle near the summit of South Barrule, the loftiest mountain in the southern part of the island.

In those days the inhabitants of Man were more addicted to warlike than to peaceful pursuits. Piracy was more to their taste than husbandry, and the land was wild and but poorly cultivated. The forests and moors afforded an almost undisturbed shelter for hordes of wild animals. The bison, elk, and red deer roamed over the country with other noble game,

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to meet with which in these days the sportsman must cross not only the broad Atlantic, but travel far into the western wilds of America, to the slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

The chase has ever been a favourite pursuit with man in all ages, and has furnished relaxation and amusement to the greatest heroes of antiquity. Jarl Kitter, when not engaged in piratical forays on the coasts of England, Scotland, or Ireland, gave himself up to the pleasures of the chase. He was indeed a very Nimrod. Consideration for those who were peaceably inclined and cultivated the soil has never been a characteristic of mighty hunters; and in like manner to the great Norman William, king of England, and his son Rufus, who drove hundreds of poor Saxon peasants from their homes to create the great hunting-ground of the new forest in Hampshire, did this Manx jarl seek to rid the country around his domain of its human inhabitants in order the better to preserve the game.

The natural consequence was that he was both feared and hated far and wide by the peasantry. His dogs worried their cattle and flocks, while his lawless and insolent retainers damaged or destroyed their scanty crops. Many there were who only wanted the opportunity to revenge their wrongs upon the tyrant, some of whom did not hesitate to invoke the aid of witchcraft.

At a short distance from the southern coast of the Isle of Man is a smaller island, known as the Calf of Man, and Jarl Kitter's foresters, having reported to him that there were some very fine deer among the hills there, he determined to organize a great hunting expedition, and to cross over the sound which separates the Calf from the main island, and with his favourite dogs and all his retinue have a good day's sport.

He assembled all his foresters and serving-men, huntsmen and dogs to take part in the chase, leaving only his cook at home to mind the castle and prepare the feast that all would require upon their return, and set out for the Calf of Man.

Eaoch, or Loud Tongue, for so this chef de cuisine was named, was possessed, among other qualifications, of so surprisingly loud a voice that his

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shout could be heard for miles, such was the extraordinary power of his lungs. He perfectly out-Stentored Stentor.

Cooking for so large a family as would assemble round the festive board on the hunting party's return was warm work. Not only warm, but dry, so much so that Eaoch was compelled to pay frequent visits to the cellar to quench his thirst, and so much wine did he take that his culinary exertions and his potations combined, quite overpowered him, and he fell fast asleep in front of his kitchen fire.

Oda, a celebrated witch, who resided in a cavern on the coast near Port Erin, had been specially retained and feed very liberally by the suffering country people to help them in wreaking vengeance upon their common enemy, the Jarl, so soon as an opportunity should present itself. Oda had kept a careful watch; and directly Kitter and his retainers set forth upon their expedition, the witch took up her quarters near at hand ready to avail herself of any chance that offered itself for carrying out her purpose.

Eaoch, the cook, not only slumbered but snored; and he did so almost as loud as he shouted. The first grunt not only reached the watchful Oda's ear, but gave warning to the people in the country round about, that their opportunity had at last arrived.

Before he had snored many minutes Oda was by his side and saw how matters stood; she caused a large cauldron of fat to boil over into the fire. An instant blaze was the result, setting the whole place in flames, and some of the hot grease splashing out of the pot on to the face of Enoch, he awoke in great fright and pain.

Scalded and singed, out he rushed from the burning castle and began to roar so lustily that he gave the alarm to Jarl Kitter and his hunters on the Calf, a distance of ten miles away.

Hearing the well-known voice of his cook, the attention of Kitter was directed towards his castle, and looking in the direction of Barrule, he and his companions beheld the flames pouring forth from every door and window of the castle, and ascending with dense volumes of smoke high into the air.

The chase was instantly abandoned, and he with those of his followers

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who were nearest to hand, hurried down to the shore, and jumping into the first Currach they could reach, started to cross the narrow but rapid channel that separates the Calf from the mainland.

All was hurry and confusion; the currach itself was only a rude boat

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constructed of wicker-work covered with hides, and far too frail to combat with the surging, boisterous waters of the Sound, as the channel is called, which were rushing through the narrow space between the two islands like a mill race.

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Oda, the witch, guessing that Kitter's party could not fail to be alarmed at the sound of Eaoch's shouts and the smoke from the burning castle, would return as soon as possible, hastened down to the south shore, and standing on the top of the high, precipitous rock now known as Spanish Head, 1 watched the embarkation of the Jarl and his hunters in the currach.

Using her powers of witchcraft, she speedily caused a storm to arise. The boat was overcrowded and unsteady. Jarl Kitten swore worse than any Flanders trooper, the helmsman's wonted skill forsook him, and he with his shipmates became panic-struck at the sudden storm.

The rapid current and the wind together drove the fragile and overburdened vessel violently upon a rocky islet lying midway between the two shores. She at once swamped and capsized, leaving every one of its living freight struggling in the raging sea. It was in vain to cling to the rocks and call for help. The waters overwhelmed them all, and washed them one by one into the surging stream. All perished, not a soul was saved.

The rocky islet has ever since that day, in commemoration of this event, borne the name of Kitterland, or Kitter's Island.




64:1 The above illustration is from a photograph taken from an elk's head and horns, dug up in a curragh in the south part of the Isle of Man, and are now in the possession of William Gell, Esq., of Rose Mount, Douglas.

68:1 This headland is so called in consequence of a large ship of the Spanish Armada being wrecked there, after trying to escape from one of Drake's vessels that had chased her right round the north of Scotland.

Next: Chapter II