Pausing in her song, she turned her head, the better to listen for the old man's footsteps as he came up the glen, when she suddenly saw, standing beside her, what she took to be a little child. Her first impression was that it was one of neighbour Mylrea's children, who had wandered up the glen from the valley below, having come up the course of the stream, as the little ones frequently did, in search of trout, which they had a dexterous and somewhat unorthodox method of catching, by means
of routing about under the stones with a stick, and frightening the fish to a rudely-constructed hand-net.
A second glance at once showed her she was mistaken. It was not little Tommy Mylrea. What stood before her was no mortal child, but little fairy mannikin of most gallant and graceful bearing. Kitty had never before seen anything so charming or imagined aught so lovely.
"Sweet maid," said he, taking her hand in his and raising it to his
"Who and what are you?" she exclaimed, withdrawing her hand from his impassioned grasp, and feeling, in spite of an inner conviction, that he was hardly a "canny" visitor, most agreeably impressed by the wee creature's face and manner.
"Lovely Kitty--Ben-my-chree--I am your most devoted admirer, your slave. In me you see no mortal, but a fairy mannikin, whose heart has for long past been truant to his race, and devoted, oh, I cannot tell how truly and intensely fixed on thee. Nay, sweet maiden," continued the little man, again seizing her hand, and overcoming the coy resistance she at first displayed, I would not harm thee for all the elfin world. Often and often have I watched thee here, and witnessed how thou hast heard, unheeded, the rhapsodies poured into thine ear by the mortal admirers of thy wondrous and unequalled beauty, as they have offered thee their love. I was here when Evan Christian urged his suit, and was sent away with a bitter and bad feeling in his heart, and the knowledge that only on your father's death can he have any hopes of gaining your affection. I looked on from under yonder hart's-tongue fern when Bob Faragher vowed he would work his fingers to the bone for you, and prayed
you to become the mistress of Ballasaig. I saw his dejected look and heard his heavy sigh, as before turning down the glen by the peat-stack, he cast a parting and a longing look as you carried your spinning-wheel into the cottage. I have heard all their avowals, and seen how each one has been refused. Oh, how I chuckled as I saw them depart, baffled and disappointed; but my heart, sweet Kitty, my love, is beyond them all. Nothing that any mortal, any mere man, ever felt or can feel at all approaches the intense adoration, the worship I now offer to you, dear Kitty--Mooar-Ben-my-chree--and that love I now lay at your feet."
The poor girl was utterly powerless to resist so passionate and so earnest an appeal as the handsome little mannikin poured forth with a volubility that admitted of no interruption. His presence completely fascinated and overpowered her. It seemed as if her heart, which had so long and so stoutly withstood the assaults of all her mortal swains, was suddenly captured by the coup de main of her elfin lover. She was spell-bound, and had at once to give way before his impetuous attack, and surrender at discretion. Her whole inner being was changed. She felt that now, but never before, she knew what love--fiery, intense, passionate, consuming love--really was. It took possession of her whole soul. The dart of Cupid had pierced her lovely bosom to the very haft. The tender but all-potent passion had absorbed her life and taken entire possession of her very existence. She felt a perfect agony of pleasure, as with wrapt attention to his every word and all oblivious to everything around but him, she listened while he continued to address her.
"Hear me, dearest maid, and let me plead my cause. I hold a high position at my elfin sovereign's court, and the fairest of our fairy maids in vain display their beauteous charms to me. Thou, sweet Kitty, and thou alone, possess the love, the heart of Uddereek."
Springing lightly up on to her spinning-wheel, the little lover threw his arms around her neck and passionately covered her sweet, rosy, pouting lips with his fervent kisses.
Kitty was enthralled, and unresistingly submitted to the gallant Uddereek's
love, ardent as it was, and it was with feelings akin to deep regret that after a while, when the sound of her father's footsteps were heard coming up the glen, she saw him making preparations to depart.
"Hark! What sounds are those? I must now away. Kitty, Ben-my-chree, I hear thy father drawing near. No one must be a witness to our love. Should it e’er be known at the elfin court that I have dared to love, or even, Fact-y-tooil-graigh, cast a longing eye on mortal maid, I know not what dreadful fate might befall me. But, Kitty-ma-cushla (my darling Kitty), for thee and thy love I would risk all, if it were a thousandfold as much, and brave the direst vengeance of the fairy power. But the better to keep the secret, both from mortal and fairy ken, of our meetings and our love, I will await thee, my own, each evening at the twilight hour under the blue rowan tree in the Magher-Glass, Glen Aldyn (in the green field of Glen Aldyn), down there in the valley, beside where the limpid stream springs frisking o’er the rocks and dashes down into the lower Gully-Mooar."
Once again clasping her in his tiny arms and impressing a passionate kiss upon her lips, and murmuring a soft, tender farewell, he vanished from before her as suddenly as he came.
Kitty, who thought she had fallen asleep, and that all had been a glorious and delicious dream, sat entranced and musing after he had gone, gazing intently on the spot where Uddereek had disappeared. She felt half pleased half frightened at the new, strange sensation her heart now for the first time experienced. On the morning of that day she had risen a simple girl; now she was a perfect woman, with all woman's feelings. She felt, come weal, come woe, her whole future existence was bound up in that of her elfin lover. She sat on gazing vacantly before her, and when old Billy Nell drew near the cottage and gave the accustomed signal of his return home, he was surprised at its not being answered, and at hearing nought of Kitty's voice. He turned into the garden, but instead of her hurrying forward to meet him as was her wont, she was sitting silent and still, looking vacantly into space. No blithesome song, no busy truddle of
the spinning-wheel as usual welcomed the old man's return. The distaff was on the ground at her feet, the wheel was overturned and lay against the house wall, where the fairy man had cast it when he sprang away in his flight; the yarn was broken and entangled, and Kitty sat utterly heedless of his approach.
She noticed him not, but her lips moved. He approached her and listened, as she gently murmured--
"Ogh-cha-nee, Woe's me. Ta-graigh-ayn, I love him."
The old man listened with astonishment to her mutterings. He called her by name, and instantly she jumped up, and, passing her hands before her eyes, as if awakening out of a trance or sleep, she welcomed him home in her old fond loving way, and after relieving him of his staff and kelpie, hastened to prepare their frugal evening meal of griddle cakes made of placket meal and salt herrings, washed down with fresh butter-milk and followed by a dish of Pinjean (Anglice, curds-and-whey), for the making of which in perfection Kitty was famous.