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EEL Harbour once cleared, all sail was set on to the vessel, and as the evening closed in she was well away from the land of Mona, making a fair way towards the Irish coast--Brodar Merune pacing the deck, and chuckling to himself as he contemplated his cleverness in overreaching the commercial Manxman and called to mind his poor drunken messenger. The moon in due time began to rise, and so did the wind and the sea and just as the last rays of the setting sun dipped below the western horizon with a lurid flush that should have been a warning to warmers to prepare for a dirty night, a little buggane, who had got on board at Peel and had been asleep all day, now woke up and cautiously crept on deck. When the little elf discovered that he was no longer lying quietly in Peel Harbour, but that all sail was set and the vessel

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bounding merrily over the fast-rising waves, he essayed to give a look about him, and discovered it was no Manx fishing-boat he was on board of, but an over-sea bound barque, and he was being fast carried away from his own beloved Ellan Vannin.

He had no notion of being taken to he knew not where, and leaving all his own haunts and companions behind, so he straightway ran to the end of the vessel's bowsprit, and set to work vigorously to blow her back towards the point she had just left. His labours resulted in changing the direction of the wind and increasing its violence and, much to his annoyance, Brodar Merune found his ship taken flat aback, and a stiff gale of wind blowing in just the contrary direction to which he desired to go.

The Irish baron was no chicken-hearted fellow, to give in to what he called a mere squall; so, calling all hands on deck, he ordered the sails to be trimmed, the yards braced sharp up, and proceeded to beat against the wind, tack and tack, persisting on his course westward, and endeavouring to make the best of his way to his native land.

The buggane, enraged at the perseverance of the baron and his crew, redoubled his own efforts, blowing all the harder. More reefs were taken in, everything made secure, and two of the most experienced men in the ship placed at the helm, with orders to keep her head as close up to the wind as possible; and the vessel beat up on her homeward course.

The buggane was only the more determined to have his own way when he saw the redoubled efforts of the Irishmen; so as the ship was tacking and coming round, the imp of mischief caused one of the masts to snap close off by the deck just at the critical moment of going about. The wreck of the mast fell over the side and beat heavily against the labouring vessel, and before the crew could cut away the wreck a butt was started, and the water commenced to pour into the hold. The pumps were rigged, and part of the crew told off to work them; but with only one mast and a leaky ship the baron and his crew were forced to give in, and abandoning all idea of reaching the Irish coast, thought only of running into a safe haven in the Isle of Man and so saving their lives.

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[paragraph continues] The order to "'Bout ship!" was given, and making the most of their remaining mast and sail, the vessel's head was laid on a course direct for the island, and she scudded before the gale.

The weather, far from moderating, got worse and worse. The leak increased upon the pumps, which were of the very rudest description, and they neared the rugged, rocky coast of the Isle of Man their dangers creased, and the chance of safety became less and less.

The mischievous little buggane, not satisfied with having compelled Brodar Merune to abandon his voyage and return to the port he sailed from, now directed his efforts to the total destruction of the ship and crew, and for this purpose guided her course straight towards the bluff, rocky coast of Contrary Head, some little distance south of Peel Harbour, between there and Port Erin.

Success turned the little elfin's head. He capered about in high glee as he contemplated the results of his diabolical efforts, and when he saw that the poor storm-tossed barque was being hurriedly driven against the surf-lashed rocks, towering five hundred feet above their heads, he danced and crowed and chuckled with fiendish delight, and skipped about all over the ship, gleefully clapping his little hands together in the most ecstatic manner.

Suddenly the idea occurred to him that, to make his work quite surer he had better unship the rudder, and thus render the vessel utterly helpless; and he was just about to carry it into execution, when suddenly he felt a curious and rather disagreeable sensation. He became aware the presence of a superior and controlling influence, a something antagonistic to himself. The little creature felt all his power and his courage oozing gradually away.

The ship's head slowly but steadily diverged from the course he had been directing it on to the rocks, and the crew taking advantage of a slant of wind off shore, she was now fast escaping the destruction to which he had doomed her and the hapless crew.

What could it all mean! He looked cautiously round to ascertain what

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could possibly have brought all his exertions to nought. Lo! there beside the companion leading into the cabin was Brodar Merune on his knees on the deck, his head uncovered, and holding before him a small leaden image of Saint Trinion, which seemed to glow with a pale light of glory. To this sainted bishop of the ancient Picts was Brodar Merune praying most fervently to save him and his crew.

The buggane's limbs trembled and shook as he looked on, awe-struck and aghast, at the kneeling baron pouring forth his prayers.

"Oh, blessed Saint Trinion! sure it's a moighty fine job, it is, that I had ye in my pouch; it's lost entirely we should be, every mother's son of us. Oh, blessed bishop! only just see if ye can't save us this once, and I'll return the Manxman all his dirty money, ivery groat of it; and I'll build a most illigant church for your own blessed holiness yourself--faith I will."

Here the wind apparently increased in violence, and the ship seemed to leap nearer still to the frowning rocks. These signs Brodar took as an evidence that the holy man doubted the sincerity of his promise.

"Och! sure indade but I will, honour bright. And I'll build it as far from this blackguard say as I can find a spot dhirectly I get safe and sound on dhry land once again. Oh, indade but I will, and return ould Haco all his purty bright goold again; and, faith, it's sell him my own darlint bright jewels, I will, and spend the whole of the money on the church for ye, that I will, sure enough, oh, most holy Saint Trinion! if ye will only make haste and save us all out of this."

No sooner had this petition and vow been uttered, than the saint hastened to the rescue. The first thing he did was to alter the ship's course, so that she could clear the rocks. He then stopped the leak by causing some seaweed to drift into the open seam, and looking round to see what else required attention, he espied, crouching down by the side of the broken mast, the now no longer triumphant, but shivering and frightened little buggane. Stepping up to where he was, the saint seized him between his holy finger and thumb by the scruff of his neck, and pitched him high

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up on to the top of the cliff that had so lately loomed down upon the battered ship, as if ready to fall upon and crush her and the worn-out crew.

The little sprite quickly recovered his feet, and rubbing his sore bones, turned round savagely to spit his puny spite at the ship and her guardian saint, deeply vowing vengeance as he watched, with manifest chagrin, the vessel, safely guided by Saint Trinion, make her way into Peel harbour. He stamped and danced with rage, and vowed to be even with the bishop. Had he been educated at the Vatican he could not have uttered his anathemas in more approved style, and his language was far from being either parliamentary or polite. He wound up by vowing most solemnly that "SAINT TRINION SHOULD NEVER HAVE A WHOLE CHURCH IN ELLAN VANNIN."

Safely landed, the penitent Baron Brodar Merune, true to his promise--unlike many people who make vows when in distress but forget them--hurried off to Jarl Haco's castle at Grebah, where he found the money-lending noble deeply deploring the loss of his beloved gold, and highly exasperated against his luckless messenger for being so fooled out of his treasure. The poor fellow Quiggar was locked up in the lowest dungeon of the castle, loaded with chains, fetters, and all the other uncomfortable appliances used in those days to add to the horrors of imprisonment. Haco was like many others both before and since his time, who are but too glad to find some one on whom to wreck their vexed and angered feelings. He was just then debating in his own mind how he should put the poor wretch to death, so as to give him the most pain and suffering and himself the greatest amount of satisfaction for the loss of his bright golden pieces.

When first the shock-headed retainer who did duty at Grebah Castle as head footman announced Brodar Merune, and that repentant baron entered, carrying in one hand his family jewels and in the other the heavy bags of gold, the old Jarl thought it must be the ghost of the man who had wronged him, or that he must surely be dreaming. When, however, Brodar Merune laid down the bags on the table one by one, and his ears

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caught the delightful sound of the peculiar chink of the gold coins in the bags, which was delicious music to Jarl Haco, he stared with astonishment.

"Here, friend Haco," said the baron, as he deposited the last bag of coin on the floor, "here is your money back, every piece--every groat of the sum your messenger brought me."

"Can it be possible?" murmured the Jarl.

Brodar Merune soon convinced him it was quite possible, and that not only had he come to restore the lord of Grebah Castle his gold, but had brought his jewels, all of them, to sell outright.

Haco on hearing this felt a change come over himself, and brightened up at once. He was ready for business immediately, and only too eager to hear the proposal Brodar had to make, fully prepared to take every advantage he possibly could of the uncommercial Irishman; for he felt convinced that something more than common must have happened to have caused such a man as he was to restore what he had once possessed himself of, either by fair means or foul. Brodar Merune proceeded to relate all the particulars of his adventures to the attentive Haco, glossing over, in the best way he could, the ugly fact of his making the luckless Quiggar drunk, and then turning him on shore without either money or diamonds.

He fully described all the horrors of the storm, with their forlorn condition, and narrow escape through the timely arrival of the blessed Saint Trinion, who had come in answer to his prayers. He then proceeded to inform Jarl Haco that he had vowed most solemnly to devote the proceeds of his jewels to the building a church in the Isle of Man, as far from the sea as he could find a suitable spot. The church was to be dedicated to the holy Saint Trinion, Bishop of the Picts, who had signally saved him and all his comrades from a watery grave.

The old Jarl listened attentively, and pricked up his ears when told where the church was to be built. He had a keen eye to business, and, ever ready to seize an opportunity for a bargain, at once informed his visitor that he knew of a very eligible spot for the intended church, as

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near as possible in the very centre of the Isle of Man, and not very far from where they were now sitting. It was on some land forming part of a farm that was mortgaged to him by a poor farmer, and as he was in arrears with his payments of interest, he should give orders to foreclose at once, and take possession of the property. The spot selected was as nearly as possible the very centre of the island, and therefore exactly suited to the purpose of building a church, which must he in compliance with the terms of Brodar Merune's vow, "as far from the blackguard sea as possible;" and as they were going to do business, the land for the church could go as part payment for the diamonds. A price was soon fixed and agreed upon for the jewels and also for the land.


Next: Chapter III