THE WOUNDED SEAL
THERE once dwelt on the northern coast, not far from Taign Jan Crot Callow (John o' Groat's House), a man who gained his living by fishing. He was particularly devoted to the killing of the seals, in which he had great success. One evening just as he had returned home from his usual occupation, he was called upon by a man on horseback who was an utter stranger to him, but who said that he was come on the part of a person who wished to make a large purchase of seal-skins from him, and wanted to see him for that purpose that very evening. He therefore desired him to get up behind him and come away without any delay. Urged by the hope of profit he consented, and away they went with such speed that the wind which was in their backs seemed to be in their faces. At length they reached the verge of a stupendous precipice overhanging the sea, where his guide bade him alight, as they were now at the end of their journey. "But where," says he, "is the person you spoke of?" "You 'll see him presently," said the guide, and, catching hold of him, he plunged with him into the sea. They went down and down, till at last they came to a door which led into a range of apartments inhabited by seals, and the man to his amazement now saw that he himself was become one of these animals. They seemed all in low spirits, but they spoke kindly to him, and assured him of his safety. His guide now produced a huge gully or joctaleg, at sight of which, thinking his life was to be taken away, he began to cry for mercy. "Did you ever see this knife before?" said the guide. He looked at it and saw it was his own, which he had that very day stuck into a seal who had made his escape with it sticking in him. He did not, therefore, attempt to deny that it had been his property. "Well," said. the guide, "that seal was my father. He now lies dangerously ill, and as it is only you that can cure him, I have brought you hither." He then led him into an inner room, where the old seal lay suffering grievously from a cut in his hind quarters. He was then desired to lay his hand on the wound, at which it instantly healed, and the patient arose hale and sound. All now was joy and festivity in the abode of the seals, and the guide, turning to the seal-hunter, said, "I will now take you back to your family, but you must first take a solemn oath never again to kill a seal as long as you live." Hard as the condition was, he cheerfully accepted it. His guide then laid hold on him, and they rose up, up, till they reached the surface of the sea, and landed at the cliff. He breathed on him and they resumed the human form. They then mounted the horse and sped away like lightning till they reached the fisherman's house. At parting his companion left with him such a present as made him think light of giving over his seal-hunting.