The Project Gutenberg eBook of Viking Boys

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Title: Viking Boys

Author: Jessie Margaret Edmondston Saxby

Release date: December 3, 2007 [eBook #23725]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by Al Haines


E-text prepared by Al Haines



"Then there came a sudden flare of light, which showed that Yaspard was trying to illuminate the scene."--_Page_ 216

"Then there came a sudden flare of light, which showed that Yaspard was trying to illuminate the scene."—Page 216











"How I wish I had lived hundreds of years ago, when the Vikings lived; it must have been prime!"

He was a Shetland boy of fifteen who so spoke, and he was addressing his young sister of eleven. They were sitting on a low crag by the shore, dangling their feet over the water, which flowed clear and bright within a short distance of their toes. They were looking out upon a grand stretch of ocean studded with islands of fantastic shape, among which numerous boats were threading their way. It was a fair summer afternoon, and the fishing boats were returning from the far haaf[1] laden with spoil. It had not required a great stretch of imagination to carry Yaspard Adiesen's thoughts from the scene before him to the olden days, when his native Isles were the haunts of Vikinger, whose ships were for ever winging their way over those waters bearing the spoils of many a stormy fight.

"Yes," the boy went on; "what glorious fun it must have been in those days; such fighting and sailing and discovering new places; such heaps of adventures of all sorts. Oh, how grand it must have been!"

"I suppose it was," answered Signy; "but then these people long ago did not have all the nice things we have—books, you know, and—and everything!"

"Oh, tuts! They had Scalds to sing their history—much nicer than your musty books."

"Perhaps!" said the girl. She loved books with a mighty love, but she adored her brother, and what he said she accepted, whether it commended itself to her judgment or not.

"There is no 'perhaps' about it, Signy," he retorted a little sharply. "It is fact—so there! It must have been far more jolly in Shetland then than it is now. Everything so tame and commonplace: mail-day once a week, sermon every Sunday, custom-house officers about, chimney-pot hats and tea! Bah!" Yaspard caught up a pebble and flung it to skim over the water as a relief to his feelings, which received a little additional comfort from Signy's next words.

"Hats are certainly very ugly, especially when they are tied on with strings, as Uncle Brüs wears his; and when a sermon lasts an hour it is tiresome. Yes, and the custom-house people and the revenue cutter are horrid—though the cutter is very pretty, and the officers look rather nice in uniform. But it is very nice to get letters, Yaspard; and tea is nice. Why, what on earth would Mam Kirsty and Aunt Osla do without tea?" and Signy laughed as she looked up in her brother's face.

He was not unreasonable, and admitted the comfort of the cup which cheers and a weekly mail-bag. He even allowed that the sloop which looked after her Majesty's dues was a tidy little craft, and that a kirk and Sunday service were advantages of no ordinary kind. "But," having admitted so much, he said, "why couldn't we have all that, and still be Vikings? why not live like heroes? why not roam the seas, and fight and discover and bring home spoil, and wear picturesque garments, as well as go to church and drink tea?"

"Well, people do," answered Signy. "There is always somebody going exploring and getting into the most terrible scrapes. And don't you often say that the British people are true sons of the Norsemen, and prove it by the way they are always sending out more and more ships, and bringing home more and more riches. As for the fighting—oh dear! There was Waterloo not so very very long ago; and the papers say, you know, that we are going to fight the Russians very soon. There's always plenty of fighting—if that's what makes a Viking."

"Oh, bother! girls don't understand," Yaspard muttered; and then there was a long silence, which was broken at last by the lad clapping his hands together and shouting, "Hurrah! I've got an idea! a splendid idea! The very thing!" He sprang to his feet and tossed back his golden-brown curls, and stood like a young Apollo all aglow with life and ardour.

"You always look so beautiful, Yaspard, when you have an idea!" said the worshipping little sister, gazing her admiration of the handsome lad, who was the hero of all her dreams.

He laughed. He was accustomed to her homage—if the truth be told, he took it as his right.

"Never mind about my beauty at present, but come along, for I must set my idea to work at once. I wonder I never thought of it before."

"Ah, do wait a very little longer, brodhor," the girl begged. When coaxing or caressing him, she always used the old form of the word, which signified the dearest relationship she knew. They were orphans, and "brother" was Signy's nearest as well as dearest friend alive. He never could resist the soft tone and word, so answered—

"Why do you want to stay here?"

"I have been watching Loki fish, and it is so funny; I want to see when he will be satisfied. He has been at it for hours."

Loki was a pet cormorant, and Yaspard had taught him to seek food for himself in the voe. The affectionate bird, though allowed such licence, never failed to return to Boden when hunger was satisfied; and at all times he would come at once to his master's call.

Yaspard stood for a minute looking at the bird as it swam about, every now and then taking a sudden leap and "header" after some unwary sillack. There were shoals of small cod-fish in the voe, and Loki had no difficulty in filling his most capacious maw. His mode of fishing was certainly comical, but Yaspard was not so interested in the matter as Signy, therefore his eyes were soon roving again to the islets and boats.

Presently his attention became riveted on a smart skiff rounding the headlands in a manner which proved that she was managed by skilful hands. As the boat drew nearer, rising lightly on the waves, Yaspard said, "Yes, it's the Laulie. What splendid sea-boys those lads of Lunda are! They are always off somewhere; always having some grand fun on the water. They are making for Havnholme now, and I expect they mean to stay there all night. Oh, bother feuds and family fights! I wish I were with them."

"They must be nice boys," said Signy. "It does seem very sad that you can't have them for chums. I can't see why our grandfathers' quarrels and Uncle Brüs's grumpiness should hinder you from being friends with the only boys of our rank within reach of Boden."

"It is a horrible nuisance. But never mind! I'll make the family feud work into my idea, sure as can be! There, Signy; there goes Loki with five dozen sillacks in his maw, so let's go too."

The cormorant had had enough. He began to flap along the surface of the sea until it was possible for him to rise in steady flight. Then he floated high overhead and took a straight course for the Ha' of Boden.

Yaspard caught up Signy in his arms; and as he swung along towards home he chanted—

"As with his wings aslant
Sails the fierce cormorant
Seeking some rocky haunt,
With his prey laden;
So toward the open main,
Beating to sea again,
Through the wild hurricane
Bore I the maiden."

When he finished the verse he put his sister down. "There," he exclaimed; "there is a small hint at a part of my new idea."

"What is your idea, Yaspard?"

But Yaspard laughed and shook his head. "I can't tell you yet. It isn't shaped at all yet, but by-and-by you shall hear all about it, and help with it too, Mootie;[2] only, mind, it's a secret. You must not tell a soul."

"I never tell any of your secrets," Signy answered, with gentle reproach in her tone; and her brother answered promptly, "No, you never tell on me, that is true—though you sometimes let things out by mistake. But you are a trump all the same, Signy; you are; and as good as a boy. I sometimes wish you were a boy. But if you were you'd plague me. Small boys always do plague their big brothers—but you never plague me. Never!"

She squeezed his hand tight and was perfectly happy while they walked on, and Yaspard whistled "the Hardy Norseman."

After executing a few bars he said, "I am going across the voe, and you must not mind if I do not take you with me. I want to have a long talk with the Harrison boys. But if you come down to the noost[3] when I return, I'll take you for a little sail."

"I'll be there, brodhor," said Signy. She was always "there" when Yaspard required or requested.

They walked along the shore until they reached a quay of very modest pretensions, where a small boat was lying ready for use. Their home was not many yards from the beach, and was situated on a green sloping point of land almost surrounded by the waters of Boden voe.

Yaspard jumped into the boat, hauled up the sail, shoved off, and was soon speeding across the mile of water, which was the broadest bit of that winding picturesque fiord.

Signy stood a minute to watch him. She would have stood longer, but out of the house bounced a big dog, barking and evidently greatly excited over something.

"Well, Pirate, what is the matter with you?" the girl asked, as the dog rushed up to her. For answer Pirate caught her skirt gently in his mouth, and indicated as plainly as if he had expressed himself in choicest English that he desired her presence indoors.

So indoors Signy went without more ado.

[1] "Haaf," deep-sea fishing.

[2] "Mootie," little one.

[3] "Noost," boat-shelter.



When Yaspard reached the other shore he was met by two boys, one his own age, the other about thirteen. These were Laurence and Gilbert Harrison, sons of Mr. Adiesen's factotum, and they were usually styled Lowrie and Gibbie.

Boden was a small island, and there were only three houses on it, namely, the Ha', the factor's house, and Trullyabister, a very ancient dwelling nearly in ruins. Every house in Shetland has a name of its own, so has every knoll and field and crag and islet, therefore the Ha' was called Moolapund, and the Harrisons' house Noostigard. To attend church the inhabitants were obliged to cross to a neighbouring island, and this the majority of them did very regularly. Stores were brought twice a year from the town of Lerwick; and it seldom happened that these ran short, for Miss Adiesen was a shrewd housewife and James Harrison a notable manager; also the Laird was somewhat eccentric, and objecting strongly to all society outside of Boden, did not like that "provisions short" should be made an excuse for frequent expeditions to the larger islands.

The isolated life of Boden had certain charms of its own for a scientist like Mr. Adiesen, and a quiet domestic creature like his sister, whose happiness had been wrecked in early life, and who desired nothing better than to hide herself at Moolapund and devote her life to the wants of her lost twin-brother's children.

Boden was a pleasant home to the Harrisons', for they were a large family, simple crofters, content in each other's society, and cherishing no earthly ambition. It was a satisfactory retreat from the world for Gaun Neeven, who lived alone with a half-witted attendant in the old house of Trullyabister. It was a paradise to little Signy, whose imaginative, romantic nature found infinite delight in the beauty of the Isle, in its myriads of sea-fowl, in its grand-encircling ocean, in the freedom and poetry of life with such environs. But to a strong lad like Yaspard, full of vitality, longing for action and the company of his fellows, there was less to content him, and much to stir in him that spirit of mischief which attends on every energetic boy not blessed with wise guardians, and with plenty of time on his hands.

"Come into the boat, boys," said Yaspard, as he ran his skiff to the noost; and the brothers, nothing loth, scrambled aboard.

"I ran across," said our hero, plunging at once into his subject, "to tell you about a magnificent scheme I have in my head. I am going to be a Viking!"

If he had announced his intention of becoming Czar of all the Russias these boys would have taken it as a matter of course. They merely opened their eyes and said "Weel?" Yaspard had rather expected to surprise them, and was a little disconcerted by the way his startling intention was received.

"I've told you heaps about Vikinger," he said; "you know just what I mean, eh?"

"Weren't they pirates?" Gibbie asked.

"No—at least they would be called that now, but it was different when they lived. There was no way of discovering new lands and getting lots of riches, being great men and doing all sorts of grand things, except by becoming Vikings. It was the only way."

"But they killed people, and robbed, and made slaves. Everybody was frightened when a Viking ship hove in sight," said Lowrie, who was rather reflective for his age and station.

"So they did; but it could not be helped. Besides, every one tried to do the same. And for the matter of that, don't people do the same now? Don't they fight still, and in a worse way? for the Vikinger only laid on man for man, but now any nation who invents the most murderous machine for shooting can mow down armies of men miles off. As for the stealing—what is half the trade of the world but a kind of civil picking of somebody's pocket—a 'doing' of some one. And slavery; bah! slaves enough in Britain while the pressgang can carry off any man it likes. But there—what's the good of such talk? I'm not going to be a Viking in a bad way, so you need not be afraid. It will all be for adventure, and glory and daring, and jolly good fun, I tell you."

"All right; we're game for whatever you please," answered the Harrisons.

After that Yaspard entered into some details of his scheme, and explained portions in which he specially required their co-operation. They were soon as enamoured of the project as he, and eager to begin a career which promised such scope for wild adventure. Some time slipped past while the confabulation lasted, and the dusk of a Shetland summer evening—the poetic "dim"—had fallen upon Boden before the lads separated.

"I'll be over again to-morrow early," said Yaspard, as he pulled out from the shore; "mind you have some armour ready by the time I come."

The light breeze which had wafted him to Noostigard had fallen to a calm, therefore the sail was of no use; but a pair of oars in his muscular hands soon carried the little Osprey to her quay, and there Signy was waiting.

"I've been longer than I meant to be, Mootie," he called out; "I am afraid it is too late to take you off."

"Never mind," she answered; "I don't want to go now. There has been such a disturbance in the house—such a terrific upset. It has made me laugh and cry—I hardly know which I ought to do now about it."

"An upset!" Yaspard exclaimed. "Praise the powers, as Mam Kirsty says. I'm glad the humdrum has had a break. What was it, Signy?"

"It was a letter."

"A letter! Was that all?"

"All!" exclaimed the girl; "you won't say a letter is a little 'all' when you hear what it did. The mailbag came across this afternoon when we were sitting at the Teng, never thinking!—and uncle got a letter from the young Laird of Lunda which made him furious. You know what happens when Uncle Brüs is angry."

"I know. I'm glad it does not happen often, poor old man! Well, what next?"

"He rampaged, and set Aunt Osla off crying. Then he began experiments with that new chemical machine, and nearly blew up the house. The windows of his Den are smashed, and you never saw anything like the mess there is in it—broken glass, books, methylated spirits, specimens, everything."

"Hurrah!" shouted Yaspard, cutting short Signy's story; "don't tell me more. Let's go and see."

He fastened up his boat, took his sister's hand, and ran quickly up the brae to his home.

There indeed was a scene of devastation, as far as the scientist's study was concerned. It looked as though a volcano had irrupted there: bookshelves were overturned, chairs and tables were sprawling legs in air, liquids were oozing in rainbow hues over manuscripts, odours of the most objectionable kind filled the air. A tame raven was hopping among the debris, with an eye to choice "remains" dropping from broken jars; a strange-looking fish was gasping its last breath on the sofa, among broken fragments of its crystal tank. A huge grey cat was standing, with her back arched, on the mantelpiece—the only place she deemed secure—surveying the scene, and ready for instant flight, or fight, if another explosion seemed imminent.

Pirate was lying at the open door, watching the movements of Thor (the raven), whose depredatory proclivities were well known to the dog. Thor, perfectly aware that a detective's eye was upon him, did not venture to abstract any of the wreckage, but assumed an air of careless curiosity as he hopped about among Mr. Adiesen's demoralised treasures.

Mr. Adiesen himself had disappeared. He had been stunned for a few moments by the explosion; but on recovering he only waited to realise the ruin he had wrought, and then, seizing a favourite geological hammer, he raced away to the rocks to practise what stood him in place of strong language.

No one had dared to attempt restoring order in the Den; the maids would not have set foot within its door for their lives. Miss Adiesen was soothing her nerves with tea, which Mam Kirsty was administering with loud and voluble speech.

"My! what a sight!" Yaspard exclaimed, as he looked into the study. "And what a smell! It's enough to frighten the French," and he turned into the parlour, where his aunt was comforting her nerves after her favourite manner, as I said.

"You've been having a high old time, auntie," he cried, laughing. "I never saw such a rare turn-out in Moolapund before."

"You may say so," sobbed Aunt Osla. "It is a 'turn-out' and a 'high old' business. We were near going high enough, let alone your uncle, whose escape is nothing short of a miracle. I always said there would be mischief done with those mixtures and glass tubes, and machines for heating dangerous coloured stuff. A rare turn-out! Yes; there is not much left in his room to turn out—it's all turned. But it isn't the specimens and all that I mind so very much, after all, though that is bad enough, considering all the time and money he has spent on them. It is the—the cause of all this that—that breaks my heart. Oh dear!" and she broke out a-weeping again.



"What had young Garson said to make Uncle Brüs so angry?" asked Yaspard.

"He did not say much that was unpleasant—even from our point of view. It is the letter of a gentleman anyway; and I know very well that his mother's son could not say or do or think anything that was not like a gentleman. I knew her, poor dear, when we were both young. See, here is the letter. You may read it. It was flung to me. Your uncle did not care who saw it, or who knows about his 'feud'—oh, I'm sick of the word."

Yaspard smoothed out the letter, which his uncle had crushed up in his rage, and read—

"DEAR MR. ADIESEN,—I very much regret being obliged to remind you once more that Havnholme is part of the Lunda property, and that it was my dear father's wish that the sea-birds on the island should not be molested.

"I shall always be very pleased to give you, or any other naturalist, every facility for studying the birds in their haunts, but I cannot (knowing as I do so well the mind of my late father in this matter) permit innocent creatures to be disturbed and distressed as they have been of late. You know the circumstances to which I allude.

"I do wish (as my father so long wished) that you would meet me and have a friendly talk, when I have no doubt we could smooth this matter—I mean your grievance regarding Havnholme. It seems so unneighbourly, not to say unchristian, to keep up a quarrel from generation to generation.

"Pardon me if it seems presumptuous of a young fellow like me to write thus to you; but I feel as it I were only the medium through which my good noble father were making his wishes known. If you will allow me, I will call upon you at some early time.—Yours sincerely, FRED GARSON."

"It's a very decent letter," said Yaspard, "and everybody who knows the young Laird says he is a brick; but I know how Uncle Brüs would flare up over this. One has only to utter 'holme' or 'Lunda' in uncle's hearing if one wants to bring the whole feud about one's ears."

Here Signy put in her soft little voice. "But it really was a shame about the birds, Yaspard. You said so, you know; and oh, I have dreamt about them ever so often, poor things!"

"That's true. Still, uncle persists that the holme is his property; and the Lairds of Lunda have always got the name of land-grabbers."

Miss Osla looked up at the boy with a kind of terror in her eyes. "O Yaspard," she cried, "don't you begin that way too. Don't you believe all that's told you. Don't you take up that miserable, wicked—yes, wicked—quarrel."

"Easy, easy, Aunt Osla! I haven't dug up the hatchet yet. But can you tell me what was the true origin of that affair?"

"I don't believe anybody ever knew what it began about, or why. The Garsons and Adiesens were born quarrelling with one another, I think."

"But surely you know about the particular part of the family feud which had to do with Havnholme?"

"Even that began before I was born, and it was about some land that was exchanged. Your great-grandfather wanted all this island to himself, and he offered the Laird of Lunda some small outlying islands instead of the piece of Boden which belonged to him. Mr. Garson agreed, so they 'turned turf'[1] and settled the bargain; and a body would have thought that was enough. But no! By-and-by they got debating that the bargain had not been a fair one, then that Havnholme was not included with the other skerries, and so it went as long as they lived. After that their sons took it up, and disputed, and fought, and never got nearer the truth, for there were no papers to be found to prove who was right; and the tenants who had witnessed the 'turning of turf' would only speak as pleased their master. They wrangled all their lives about it. One would put his sheep on the holme, and the other would promptly go and shove the poor beasts into the sea. One would build a skeö,[2] and the other would pull it down. These were lawless days, and men might do as they pleased."

"Just like Vikinger," said Yaspard, who quite enjoyed the story. "Well?"

"They never would speak to each other, even if they met at the church door, or at a neighbour's funeral. It was very sinful; and they would not let their children become acquainted. My father made me drop acquaintance with my school friend when she married Mr. Garson, for no reason but because she married the son of his enemy. It has been the same since your uncle came to be Laird. If your father had lived it would have been different, for he bore ill-feeling to no one; but he was so much away with his ship, he never got a chance to put things right; which I know he could have done, for the Laird of Lunda—who died two years ago—was one of the best of men. A land-grabber! My friend's husband. He was as good a man as Shetland ere saw. He tried again and again to be friends with Brüs, but it was no use, and it will be of no use his boy trying. I know."

"Something shall be of use," muttered Yaspard; then aloud he asked, "Will uncle answer this letter?"

"My dear, he's done it. There is his answer on the table. He read it to me, and I felt as if I were listening to a clap of thunder."

"What did he say?"

"He said that Havnholme was his, and that he meant to do with his own as he pleased. And he said, 'If you set foot in Boden you will receive the thrashing which such a coxcomb deserves.' He told me to send the Harrison boys across the sound in your little boat early to-morrow, and they were to leave the letter at the post-office. They were not to go to the Ha' for their lives. Brüs never told me to do a harder thing than to send such a letter to the son of my friend—to the poor lad who is trying to live like his true-hearted father, and to be at peace with all men! It is a cruel thing." And here Miss Osla began to weep again.

Yaspard went to the table and picked up the letter, read the address, and put it in his pocket. "Leave this affair to me, auntie," he said; "I'll see that Fred Garson gets the letter, and gets it right properly."

Poor Miss Adiesen was too much troubled to notice anything peculiar in Yaspard's words or expression, but Signy did, and as he left the room she followed and asked in a whisper—

"Is it going to fit into your idea, brodhor?"

"Fits like the skin to a sealkie," said he.

Yaspard went up the stairs four steps at every stride until he reached the attics. One of these was used for lumber, and into it he went. There was a marvellous collection of things in that room, but Yaspard knew what he had come for, and where to find it. He pulled some broken chairs from off an old chest which had no lid, and was piled full of curious swords, cutlasses, horse-pistols, battle-axes, some foils and masks, and a battered old shield. Not one of all these implements had been in use for a century—some were of far more ancient date. They had neither edge, nor point, nor power of any sort beyond what might lie in their weight if it were brought into play. Yaspard gathered up as many of these weapons as he could carry, and bore them off to his own room, where he proceeded to scrub the rust from them with some sandpaper and a pair of woollen socks. He whistled at his task, and was infinitely pleased with his own thoughts, which ran something like this:—

"Oh yes! I'll make it work. I'll turn this old feud into a rare old lark, I will. How nicely it all fits in for to-morrow—the Harrison boys to go with the letter in my boat, and the Manse boys spending the night on Havnholme! What times those boys have, to be sure. They go everywhere, and stay just as long as they please. I could not count how many times this summer they have camped out for the night on Havnholme, and the Grün holme, and the Ootskerries. Guess they'll be surprised at the waking up they'll get tomorrow!"

When he had cleaned up the armour to his satisfaction, he sat down to his desk and wrote a letter, which pleased him so much that he read it twice aloud, and ended by saying—

"Prime! I didn't know that I could express myself so well on paper. It's as good as Garson's own. I wonder what he will say!"

Then Yaspard went down to supper, and while demolishing his porridge he said, "Will you make me up a bit of ferdimet,[3] auntie? I am going off early to-morrow to fish. (It's true," he added to himself, "for I'll take a rod and fish a fish to make it true.")

"I suppose the Harrisons go with you?" said Aunt Osla. "Don't forget about your uncle's message to Lunda."

"No, I won't forget."

"You could run across to the post-office before going to fish, and get it over," she added.

Yaspard often went on such expeditions, therefore there was nothing unusual in his proceedings on the present occasion, but Signy detected a new fire in his eyes, and a twitching of the mouth that suggested ideas! Moreover, she had been on the stair when he came out of the lumber-room with his arms full of weapons, and Signy's soul was troubled about its hero.

[1] The old Shetland way of taking possession of land.

[2] "Skeö," a shed for drying fish in.

[3] "Ferdimet," food for a journey.



When the sun was well up next morning, which meant about three o'clock, Yaspard came downstairs, carrying his armour, and treading softly, as he did not wish to disturb anybody. Pirate was dozing in the porch, but when the lad appeared he got up and followed him to the quay. Signy's eyes too followed—for she had heard her brother leave his room—and again her heart was troubled when she saw the weapons of warfare. All unconscious of her gaze, he proceeded to stow these into his boat, where Pirate had stepped gravely, and Signy's soul was comforted as she returned to her bed murmuring, "Any way, he has Pirate with him, and Pirate is more than a match for anything!"

Yaspard was soon across the voe, and he soon had the Harrisons out of their beds. When they reached the beach Lowrie pulled out of a fish-chest two neatly made wooden swords, two slings, two bows, and a sheaf of arrows. As he handed some to his brother he said to Yaspard, "We made the swords last night, and most of the arrows. I think they are a great improvement on the last."

"Yes, certain!" was the ready answer; but Yaspard's eyes gleamed as he pointed to his ancestral old iron, and said, "What think you of mine?"

"Oh, grand! splendid!" they cried.

"You are going to have a share—a loan of them, I mean." And then he rapidly explained what he purposed doing, and what he wished them to do. As the boat slipped rapidly along, the lads rigged themselves for action. Playing at "Robinson Crusoe" and "Hawk eye" had been favourite games, therefore they were provided with all sorts of belts and pouches for holding every conceivable kind of weapon; and queer figures they looked when their war toilet was complete, and they sat down to talk over their scheme and project a great many more.

Once outside of Boden voe, it did not take long to reach Havnholme. The Laulie was lying along the crags safely moored there, and her crew were asleep in the old shed, where they had spent many a night before. They had had a long day of exciting sport, and were wrapped in sleep more profound than usual.

But when the Osprey came within hailing distance, Yaspard ran up a black flag and raised a shout of "A Viking! a Viking!" His companions took up the cry, and Pirate, setting his fore-paws on the bow, barked and howled like mad. Such a hullaballoo was enough to waken anybody, and the Lunda boys—half-awake—rushed out of the shed, and stood staring in dumb-foundered amazement at the foe!

The Harrisons burst out laughing at the ludicrous spectacle of four lads rubbing their eyes, scratching their heads, shaking themselves straight in their clothes, and looking as if there never had been half an idea in one of their minds. But Yaspard shouted in grandiloquent style—

"You, lads of Lunda there, listen! We are Vikinger in search of glory and spoil, and all the rest of it. But we do not take our enemy unawares. We would not assail slumberers. We are nineteenth century enough to fight fair. So now, look to yourselves!"

During these few minutes the Osprey had reached the crags, and was alongside of the Laulie. As he finished speaking the young marauder, leaning over to the other boat, undid her painter, and hitching it to his own boat, shouted to his companions to row off again. They pulled out from the shore, and the Laulie was captured before her crew had waked up enough to comprehend what was going on.

"It's Yaspard Adiesen masquerading like an ass," said Harry Mitchell at last.

"It will only be a bit of fun," Gloy Winwick ventured to say, for by that time he had recognised Lowrie and Gibbie. They were his cousins, and he had often met them, and heard of the curious games which young Adiesen invented for their amusement and his own. "There will be nae harm in it. It's just his way. He's queer."

The last half of his remarks was given in an aside to Tom Holtum, but Tom only growled, "Bother the fellow! What does he mean by such preposterous impudence?"

Tom's temper was easily roused; and, followed by the others, he ran to the crag and shouted, "Give us none of your humbug! Bring back the boat, or it will be the worse for you!"

A mocking laugh was all the answer he got; and this so exasperated Tom that he was about to fling a volley of abuse to the enemy, but Harry checked him. Harry was always the first to look at a thing from more points than one, and now he said in an undertone, "I expect it is only some nonsensical make-believe. Yaspard is a baby in some ways, I am told; and he never exchanges a word with gentlemen's sons—lives horribly alone, you know. Let's humour him a bit, and see what it will come to."

Tom grunted, but Bill and Gloy seconded Harry, so Harry called out, "I say, you might as well come on shore first and tell us what's up, and then let us start fair all round."

"I'd like to," burst from Yaspard in his natural and impulsive manner, "but I mustn't. Uncle Brüs has forbidden me to be friends with any of you Lunda fellows, because of the family feud, you know. But I'm tired of having no chums, and living as I do, so I'm resolved to be a Viking; and as you are all my enemies, I shall, of course, try to harass you in every way I can, to fight you, and carry off your property, and conquer you, and—and—have some good fun!"

Tom and Harry instantly got the right kind of inspiration about the matter, and replied, "All right, we're your men! strongest fend off!" but Gloy exclaimed, "I think he must be going off his head," and Bill called out furiously, "Conquer us! come and try, if you dare."

"I'll dare another day, youngster," answered the Viking loftily; "but listen now" (addressing the others): "I've got your boat, and you must agree to what I ask before I will let you have her again."

"Impudence!" shouted Tom.

"Tuts, man, let him haver," said Harry; then to Yaspard, "Well, go on."

"Are you captain of that crew?" Yaspard asked.

"In the absence of my elders and betters, yes!"

"Well, I want you to take a letter (it is really two letters, one inside the other) to the young Laird of Lunda. He is captain, chief, yarl, and all the rest of it, over you and your island."

"If it's a proper letter I'll take it," Harry answered promptly.

"One of the letters is quite proper; but, proper or no proper, uncle's note must also reach Mr. Garson, and you must promise to give it faithfully before I give you the Laulie. She's a splendid little craft. She would make a glorious Viking's bark! I am tempted to keep my spoil."

While they were talking Bill said to Gloy very loudly, "Never mind the jabber, boy. Come for a swim before breakfast! I'm off." They stripped and went in, and as they did so they whispered together and winked knowingly, then began to race and splash in the water as if they had no thought in their heads but the enjoyment of the moment, while the rival captains continued the engrossing debate.

Harry was not unwilling to carry the letter, but he did not like to be threatened into doing it.

"Suppose I refuse?" he said.

"Then I go off with your boat, and you remain prisoned on Havnholme."

"You could be severely punished if you did so."

"If you are mean enough to tell, and bring grown people and lawyers into the business," retorted Yaspard.

"I see no harm in taking the letter to Fred," said Tom then.

Tom strongly objected to telling tales. He also scented some rare shindies in the game Yaspard was playing, and Harry, seeing that the situation was an awkward one, agreed.

"Is that all?" he asked. But before the enemy could reply there came a shout from Tom, a howl from Yaspard, a screech from the Harrisons, and loud laughter from Gloy in the water.

Gloy and Bill had taken advantage of the attention of the others being chiefly directed to those on shore, and had, as if by accident, swam nearer to the boats. Then Gloy had held the Harrisons in talk while Bill quietly contrived to swim to that side of the Laulie which was farthest from the other boat. No one was aware of his movements until he had swiftly crawled into the Laulie. Leaning over the side, he slipped the painter from the thole-pin round which it hung, and then shoving with all his might, he sent the skiffs a good way apart at once.

"After him, boys!" Yaspard cried; but the boys were not ready. Gloy had come alongside and had caught hold of Gibbie, Lowrie was laughing like to split his sides at the sight of Bill, nude and dripping, gaping like a fresh caught cod, rowing for his life. The Laulie was safe back at her favourite crag in a minute more, and Yaspard could only comfort himself for being so outwitted by making a captive of Gloy.

"He isn't worth much without his clothes," Harry told all who cared to hear.

"We'll paint him," retorted Yaspard, and Gloy began to think that his position was awkward, to say the least of it; but Tom, whose good-humour had been completely restored by Bill's clever manoeuvre, said—

"You might just as well come along and have some breakfast with us, and then we can arrange the campaign, and settle about ransom for the captive."

There was no resisting such a suggestion, especially as it did not hint at compromise of the "position."

The Osprey came to land, and Gloy was permitted to go and resume his garments, after giving his word of honour to respect the parole.

A white handkerchief was tied to a fishing-rod, which was planted in the skeö wall, and under that flag of truce the rival parties made merry in lighting a fire, boiling water, and feasting heartily on the good things which the Manse boys never failed to find in their ferdimet basket.



As they ate they talked, you may be sure. The Lunda boys were decidedly in favour of Yaspard's scheme—was there ever a boy who would have objected to any such prank? They saw no harm in it whatever, only Harry said—

"We must consult Fred Garson; we never go in for any big thing without consulting Fred."

"Of course," Yaspard answered cheerfully. "He will let you read my letter, and you will see by it that I expect he will have a finger in the pie—not to take part in the war, but just to look on and kind of see fair-play, you know, and umpire us when we fall out. He is a nice fellow, people say."

"There is no one like him," said Harry, with that hearty enthusiasm which all the lads of Lunda displayed when their chief was mentioned.

"What a pity it is," Bill chimed in, "that Eric and Svein are away, and—too old now for this kind of thing."

"I am glad they are too old," replied Yaspard, "for that leaves our number about equal."

"Four to three! you are in a minority," said Tom.

"There is Pirate," Yaspard answered, with a smile, and Pirate wagged his tail, as much as to say, "I'm ready for any or all of you."

"Oh, if dogs are to be in it," laughed Tom, "there's Watchie, that Svein rescued off a skerry; and there's old toothless Tory at the Manse. But now, what about the hapless captive? What do you price him at, Mr. Viking?"

"Twenty pebbles wet with the waves of Westervoe," was the instant reply, at which the lads roared.

"We don't carry our beach about in our pockets," one of them said, as soon as the laugh subsided.

"Then I must keep my captive till you bring his price." And Yaspard stuck to that, and urged his arguments so well that finally it was agreed that he should hold Gloy till his friends produced the stipulated ransom.

The prisoner did not seem very distressed. He had never been to Boden, and he anticipated having a good time during his captivity. He took for granted that his prison would be Noostigard, the home of his cousins—so little did he understand the mind and method of a Viking boy!

It is no part of my intention to tell you just now what those boys arranged. They hugely enjoyed laying plans, and we shall hear presently how these were carried out.

Before parting they engaged in a preliminary combat—we might be nearer the right term for it if we called it a knightly joust.

Gloy and Pirate were not in the tournament, for Yaspard had said the magic words "On guard" to his dog, and pointed out Gloy, who did not from that moment dare to move from the spot. The wooden swords were given to Bill and Gibbie; Tom and Lowrie had two huge broadswords which had been rendered harmless by chopping sticks. The rival captains chose two rapiers rusted to their sheaths.

It was a famous joust. The old iron clashed and sounded very terrible. The young heroes fought valiantly. Presently Bill's wooden sword broke in two, and he ought to have owned himself beaten, but he didn't. He caught Gibbie in a true wrestler's grip, and soon they were rolling together on the sandy seashore.

Tom very soon settled Lowrie by striking his mighty heavy weapon from his hand; but this victory was of no account in the general action when Harry's rapier went spinning over his head, and he went down on his back before the vigorous fencing of Yaspard. He was on his feet, however, in time to witness the final roll over of Bill and Gibbie. They had reached the water's edge, and the incoming tide washed over them, putting a most effectual stop to their wrestling-match. Choking with sand, and wet with spray, they let go of each other and jumped to their feet, panting, but happy, and declaring that "it wasn't a bad round, that."

All agreed that the joust had ended in a draw between the two parties, so—highly pleased with themselves and their new acquaintances—both crews got into the boats, and were soon sailing in opposite directions away from Havnholme.

When the Osprey reached Boden, Yaspard ran her into a small geo (creek) near the mouth of the voe. The cliffs which formed the geo were lofty, and overhung a strip of dry white sand. The place looked almost like a cave. There was no way out of the geo by land, and Yaspard said, as the boat grounded, "This will be a splendid place for a prison."

"Gracious! you're never going to leave me here?" exclaimed Gloy in a kind of comical dismay.

"Yes, here! what could be better? It is a very nice place. I've spent many a happy hour in this geo reading and fishing. Now, don't be frightened. I won't leave you long;—only till I see if the coast is clear, so that we can carry you to a real prison. We'll call this the Viking's Had,[1] and in his Had he means to keep you for a little while."

"Oh, come, this is too much," Lowrie remonstrated.

"Not at all. You know very well that Uncle Brüs will not let anybody from Lunda set foot on the island. If he chanced to see Gloy he would make us take him straight away again; and he would ask so many questions that I should be obliged to tell the whole affair. Now, if we keep him here till the evening, we can then bring him without fear of discovery to a safe place. I know of a splendid place for his prison—so comfortable, and under a roof too! And see, here is a lot of ferdimet left; and" (pulling a small book from his coat pocket) "here is 'Marmion' to amuse you, Gloy. I'll leave you my fishing-rod—lots of sillacks about the geo. Oh, you won't think the time long till we come again."

Gibbie and Gloy exchanged rueful glances, and Lowrie, scratching his head, said, "I'm no' just sure that my faither will like our having a hand in ony such prank, sir."

The Harrisons were very much in earnest when they addressed Yaspard as "Sir," and he did not like it, for it usually meant that they were going to oppose some darling project of his. He did not suggest concealment; he knew that these boys always recounted all their adventures to their parents; but he rather counted on James Harrison seeing no harm in what he proposed, and therefore "winking" at it.

"Your father will not mind one bit if you tell him that I am going to use up that ridiculous old feud in this business. Believe me, he won't see any harm in it."

"But our own cousin, and his first visit to Boden?" said Lowrie, only half satisfied.

Here Gibbie struck in: "It's only a little bit of fun, Lowrie; don't let us make a fuss, for that may spoil all."

Gloy glanced around the geo, evidently calculating how far his powers of climbing were fit to cope with the walls of his prison; and Yaspard, guessing his thought, said, "I shall leave Pirate on guard with you."

Gloy resigned himself to fate, and patting the dog, he assured Yaspard that he didn't mind staying in the geo a few hours—even days—if that would help to demolish the quarrels which had kept poor young Adiesen so isolated from his kind.

"You're a brick," the others declared. Then Pirate got his instructions, and the Osprey went on her homeward way.

When she had disappeared in a curve of the fiord, a tiny punt came out from behind some crags which formed part of the geo. The punt was propelled by no unskilful hand, although its solitary occupant used a geological hammer more often than an oar. We may judge what Gloy Winwick felt like when he recognised the new-comer to be the dreaded Laird of Boden!

In blissful ignorance of the fact that his uncle had been so near, and had heard every word of their conference, Yaspard landed the Harrisons at their own noost; and promising to return for them at dusk, he took himself to Moolapund. There Signy was looking out eagerly for him, and great was her joy at his safe return. The little girl's lively imagination had been conjuring up all sorts of terrible adventures through which her hero might be passing, and she looked anxiously at him and his boat for signs of a fray. None were visible, not even the armour, for it had been stowed under the foot-boards.

"What have you done with Pirate?" Signy asked.

Now Yaspard was a very truthful boy, and could not tell a "whopper" to save his life. "Pirate is all right," he answered; "and if you will come up to my room, Mootie, I'll tell you my great secret, for it has begun to work. Only think!"

There were few things he loved more than his bright little sister's sympathy. He was never so happy as when pouring into her ears the story of his exploits. He thoroughly enjoyed telling her all about his expedition to Havnholme, and his pleasure was not even damped by the tears rising in her blue eyes when he described Gloy a prisoner in the geo with Pirate for jailer.

"Wasn't it a good lark, Signy? Don't I make a ripping Viking, &c.?"

She smiled in spite of her compassion, but she said, "Oh, brodhor, you know he is only a poor boy. If it had been one of the others it would not have mattered so much; but Gloy Winwick is a poor widow's son, and an only son, and it seems just a little—horrid."

"I never thought of it that way," Yaspard said, looking very crestfallen; "but it can't be helped now, any way. However, I'll make it up to him afterwards. He shan't lose by this, I tell you."

Signy twined her arms round his neck, and whispered softly, "Brodhor, is it quite—quite right, do you think, to do what Uncle Brüs would be very angry about?"

"I don't think it's wrong any way," the lad replied. "I haven't disobeyed uncle, and I haven't told any stories. I've only—— There, Signy; if it seems a mean or deceitful thing I've done, I'll set that right in a jiffy. I'll just go and tell Uncle Brüs about it myself."

"How brave you are, brodhor! How straight you go at things, to be sure!"

"And how round the corner and round my neck you go with things, Mootie-ting!" laughed he; then more gravely asked, "Where is uncle, do you know?"

"He is out, as usual, after specimens: he has been out a long time."

"Oh, well, I'll tell him when he comes."

[1] "Had," the den of a wild animal.



Some hours later Mr. Adiesen appeared at his own door laden with blocks of serpentine, fragments of lichen, moss, seaweed, and shells. Yaspard followed him into a little room which was doing duty as a study until the Den was restored to order, and as the scientist put down his treasures the lad said—in a trembling voice, be it confessed—"I want to tell you about something, uncle; something I've been doing."

"Well, go on," said Mr. Adiesen, not looking up, and in a very grim tone.

"I—I—there used to be—I've heard you say—that our ancestors were Vikings; and I—I thought I'd be—a Viking."

Yaspard got so far, and stuck. It was hard to go on telling of his romantic fancy and wild escapade with that grave face before him.

"You thought you'd be a Viking," Mr. Adiesen repeated calmly, then paused, and asked in ice-cold tones, "Well, what else do you wish to say?"

"I think it right to tell you—I feel I ought—even about what—I mean—in fun;—but, uncle," and again poor Yaspard came to a deadlock, and might never have made a satisfactory confession if help had not come to him in the form of Signy.

She had been hovering about the door in much trepidation, and, fearing that her brother's courage might fail him, she stole to his side, put her hand in his, looked fearlessly at Uncle Brüs, and said—

"He has not done anything to be ashamed of, uncle; only we thought you ought to know, because it came out of the feud partly."

The Laird's brows came together in a frown, but he was very fond of Signy. She was his one "weakness," Aunt Osla said, and said truly.

"Let Yaspard speak for himself, my dear," her uncle answered gently, while his grim feature relaxed as he looked at her; and the boy, braced by the touch of the little hand in his, blurted out—

"I wanted to know the lads of Lunda, and have some fun, as they have and most boys have; and I couldn't be friends with them because you had forbidden that, so I took up the feud in a sort of way on my own account, and determined to make raids upon them, and have fights (sham-fights) and do as the Vikings did—in a kind of play, of course. They are the enemy; and we could make-believe to slaughter and capture each other, and——"

Mortal man could stand no more than that. Mr. Adiesen, drawing his brows together savagely to hide his strong inclination to burst into laughter, called his nephew by some not complimentary names, and dismissed him abruptly, saying, "Go along with you, and take your fun any way you please. Only remember—no friendships with Lunda folk. Play with them under the black flag, if that gives you amusement; and see that your Viking-craze keeps within the bounds of civilised laws."

Yaspard escaped, rejoicing; but Signy lingered to ask, "Would you object to taking prisoners, uncle?"

"Child, let him prison every man and boy in Lunda if he likes—if he can catch them."

Signy flew to tell her brother of this further concession, and Mr. Adiesen shut the door upon himself. If the young folks had listened outside that door they would have heard a curious noise; but whether it meant that the old man was growling to himself or suppressing laughter, we, who do not know Mr. Adiesen's moods very well, cannot tell.

Yaspard was only too glad to get off so easily, and paused for nothing, but, racing off to his boat with Signy, was soon sailing up the voe—not across, as before, for his destination was not Noostigard.

Boden voe is very beautiful It curves between steep shores, and at one place narrows so much that you could almost touch either shore with a sillack-rod from a boat passing through. When it is ebb-tide you can walk dry-shod across this passage (called the Hoobes). Here the voe terminates in a lovely little basin, almost land-locked, and placid as a mountain tarn.

Where the voe ends there is only a mere neck of land. It rises abruptly from both sides, and is crowned by a peak known as the Heogne.

Under shelter of the Heogne, and commanding a magnificent view of islands and ocean-wastes, stands the old dwelling of Trullyabister. Mr. Neeven was the cousin of Mr. Adiesen: he left Shetland in his early youth, and no one heard whether he was alive or dead for thirty years. Then he returned to his native land, a gloomy, disappointed man, hard to be recognised as the light-hearted lad who had gone away to make a fortune in California, and be happy ever afterwards. It seemed that he had made the fortune, but the happiness had eluded him. He would give no account of his life, and seldom cared to converse with any one except Brüs Adiesen, from whom he asked and readily obtained the half-ruined home of their fathers. Two or three rooms were made habitable; the half-witted brother of James Harrison was hired as attendant; cart-loads of books were brought from the South (by which vague term the Shetlanders mean Great Britain); and Gaun Neeven settled himself in that wild, lone spot, purposing to end his days there. He was there when Yaspard was very small, therefore the boy always associated his hermit-relative with the "haunted" house of Boden; and as he grew older, and the romantic side of his character developed rapidly, he was greatly attracted to Trullyabister and its queer occupants—fule-Tammy being, in his way, as mysterious a recluse as his master.

Yaspard found a great many excuses for going to Trullyabister, although he very rarely was permitted to enter Mr. Neeven's rooms, and was never allowed near the "haunted" portion of the dwelling. But Tammy was usually pleased enough to see him, and would entertain the boy with many strange legends of the old house; for Tammy was shrewd and imaginative; his "want" exhibited itself in no outrageous manner, but rather in a kind of low cunning and feebleness of will. It was Tammy's talent for story-telling, and his skill as a player of the violin, which drew Yaspard to him. Also the lad felt a kind of pity for the creature, and tried, in his plain boy-fashion, to instruct him, and make him "a little more like other folk."

Signy did not like fule-Tammy: she did not like his sidelong, leering expression; and she always avoided him, notwithstanding her brother's oft-repeated declaration that the man "wasn't so bad as he looked." Therefore, when Yaspard moored the Osprey at the head of the voe, and announced his intention of running up the hill to have a word with Tammy, Signy said—

"I'll stay on the beach, brodhor. There are lovely shells about, and I can gather a heap while you are away."

"All right," said he, and up the hill he bounded, while Signy set herself to picking up shells. She was soon so interested in her occupation that she forgot how time slips past, and was not aware that Yaspard had been absent a whole hour when he returned looking very much annoyed.

"Bother that fellow!" he said, as he helped Signy into the boat and took his place at the oars.

"You mean fule-Tammy?" she asked.

"Of course. The impudence of him, to say I mayn't have any tumble-down bit of Trullyabister for a play-place! I had it all so nicely planned—to hide Gloy there, and bring our armour and our spoil there. It was just the very place. It is an old Viking's place—at least one bit of it is said to be. But I'll circumvent fule-Tammy yet."

"Why not ask permission from Mr. Neeven?" Signy ventured to suggest; but Yaspard shook his head.

"He would not hear of such a thing. Besides, that would take all the secrecy and dark plotting and fun out of it all. But, never mind, I'll have my prisoner in Trullyabister in spite of everything."

No cloud rested for many minutes on Yaspard's smooth brow, and very soon he was laughing merrily as he pulled his boat along.

As they neared Moolapund, Loki came slowly sailing homewards, and, feeling heavy and lazy after a long day's fishing, gravely dropped into the boat, and looked at Yaspard as much as to say, "Your oars are better able than my wings at present."

"Just look at the Parson! What a cool customer he is!" laughed Yaspard. He had given Loki the nickname of "Parson" because of his white choker and dignified visage.

Just then another pair of dark-hued wings hove near, and Thor, the majestic raven which was Mr. Adiesen's particular pet, alighted on the bow with a croak so hoarse and solemn that Signy cried out, "Oh dear, how very eerie this is! How terribly grave Thor and Loki are! They make me feel creepy."

"I shall take them with me on some of my Viking raids," Yaspard exclaimed. "Just as the Vikinger did, you know. They always carried a raven with them; and as for Loki—he can be an imp, or a Valkyrur. It sounds quite fine, doesn't it?"

Chatting gaily they reached the shore, and as soon as the boat touched, Thor and Loki flew off in stately flight to the house. Signy followed on foot, wishing she had wings; and Yaspard, shoving off again, went across to Noostigard.

He had a hearty tea with the Harrisons. He was a great favourite in the factor's house, and was always allowed to be there as much as he pleased, for Mrs. Harrison was a religious as well as judicious woman, and exercised a very wholesome influence over the somewhat spoilt and wayward boy.

Her sons had told her all about the expedition to Havnholme, and she was delighted when Yaspard informed them that Uncle Brüs had not disapproved.

"Ye mun bring puir Gloy here before ye pit him in prison," she laughingly called out, when twilight came and the three boys set off for the geo.

When they were out of hearing the factor remarked with a thoughtful smile, "It's a strange way the young anes hae o' turning trouble intae fun, and makin' guid come oot o' ill."



Our Viking-boys were not long rowing out the voe that evening. The twilight had come sufficiently for their purpose. It had not brought darkness, but it indicated that a late hour had come, when the inhabitants of Boden were probably at rest indoors. They were so busily engaged laying plans that they did not comment upon the perfect silence which reigned in the geo as they approached. The splash of their oars and the tones of their voices were loud enough to have warned Gloy of their approach, and cause him to make some response. But he didn't.

A joyous bark from Pirate was the first thing to draw the attention, and then the lads noticed that the dog was alone.

"Guess Gloy is taking a nap, stupid fellow!" Yaspard remarked, and then he hallooed as they ran the light skiff high and dry upon the sand.

No answer came to the halloo, and a brief glance sufficed to show that their prisoner was not in the geo. The place was small and without any corner for concealment. It was light enough to see all round the geo. Of a certainty Gloy was not slumbering, and Gloy was not there!

The lads were too amazed to utter a word, but Pirate made up for their silence by barking and howling his delight at being in company once more. Dogs are very social, and solitude had not been pleasing to Pirate. The first person to speak was Lowrie, and a certain amount of satisfaction was displayed in his countenance: he rather believed in his own cuteness, and thought he had found the solution of the puzzle.

"It was stupid of us," he said, "to forget that Gloy can take the water like a sealkie. He would swim round the rocks till he reached an easy landing-place. There are plenty quite near."

"Pirate was on guard," said Yaspard, "and would not have allowed him to quit the geo unless I had given a word of command. Besides, Gloy let us understand that he would not try to escape, and knew that I trusted him, therefore took no further precautions."

"Perhaps a boat came by and picked him up," Lowrie answered, scratching his head for some new ideas.

"Has any boat been near Boden voe to-day?"

"We have not seen any. I think faither wad have kent if any boat had been this way, for he has gleg een in respect o' boats."

"There is only one boat he would have gone with, and that is the Laulie," said Yaspard musingly. "Perhaps the Manse boys came after us in real Viking fashion, and in that case——"

"Hi!" Gibbie exclaimed then, catching sight of Yaspard's fishing-rod, stuck upright in the sand at the farther side of the geo. A bit of white paper fluttering on top of the rod had drawn Gibbie's attention, and he was not long in seizing upon this. It had been carefully tied to the line and fastened on the rod, and when the paper was released the three eagerly put their heads together to read what was written inside.

In Gloy's cramped, unformed caligraphy was traced a few words, mysterious, but, on the whole, reassuring.

"I'm all right. I haven't broken faith with you, and no more has Pirate; but you need not be scared about me.—I am still THE PRISONER."

"Well, this beats everything!" Yaspard exclaimed then grasping Pirate by his shaggy coat, he cried, "Oh, my dog, if you could speak English! I believe you could if you tried. Tell us, Pirate, where has our lawful captive gone?"

Pirate yelped and jumped around, then ran to the boat and looked wistfully at his master as much as to say, "Why do you remain in such a horrid hole? This is no place for you or me."

Interpreting his actions aright, the Viking said, "I suppose you are about right, doggie; you've been here too long already, and there is nothing to keep us here any longer."

Considerably crestfallen and perplexed, they left the geo, and sailed slowly up the voe once more, asking one another what was to be done next.

"I suppose we must believe that Gloy is all right," said Lowrie, "so we needn't concern ourselves about his life at the present time."

"He says he is still the prisoner," said Yaspard musingly; then after a long pause he added, "Look here, boys, we might as well go on with this night's performance as far as we can without our captive. We can possess ourselves of his intended 'cell' (in spite of this horrid 'sell'), and we can make it ready for him as we intended, in the hope that he will render himself into the hands of his conquerors as a true knight should."

"All serene," was Lowrie's reply; and Gibbie added, "Just so."

So in the grey, quiet "dim" the Osprey swept silently through the Hoobes and brought up at the "dyke-end," where she had stopped in the afternoon when Signy was the Viking's sole companion.

Yaspard alone jumped on shore. "Keep her off," he whispered, as if an army of enemies were in ambush close by; "don't fasten her until I give the signal that the coast is clear."

Having so given his orders, he set off up the hill, dodging behind turf walls and creeping along knolls, so that no watchful eyes at Trullyabister could detect his approach.

There is no real night in those regions when summer is in its prime, therefore Yaspard's precautions were necessary if he required to steal unawares upon the scene.

When within a short distance of the old house a backdoor suddenly opened and fule-Tammy came out carrying a peat-keschie. He was going to the stack for fuel, and the particular stack he meant to visit happened to be the very object behind which Yaspard crouched.

"If," thought the boy, "he comes round this end of the stack I'm done for."

But Tammy didn't. He always attacked a peat-stack from the point nearest the house, so he placed his keschie[1] at a convenient height on the broken side of the stack, and lazily proceeded to fill it with peats. Tammy had a habit, common in half-wits, of talking loudly to himself, and as he filled his keschie he declaimed in Yaspard's hearing—

"Na, na! I ken wha wad get the raiding-strake[2] if I was to gie them the run o' the raubit-house; and where wad a' my night-sports be? and what wad come o' the Trows if I let the boys rumble ower a'?"

As he piled the peats he went on talking in a disconnected, and to Yaspard, very incomprehensible, manner about midnight revels and strange beings who doubtless had a certain kind of existence in Tammy's imagination. Only one thing he said attracted the boy's serious attention, and remained in his recollection to throw light on future events.

As Tammy raised the keschie to his shoulder he exclaimed in a kind of exultation, "They think me a puir 'natural,' that can do nae gude to man or beast, but for a' that it's myself that's pit mair light upon wir isle as ever men and money will pit, though the Laird—puir body—speaks aboot it evermair, and evermair will speak. Yea, yea! puir Tammy and his pate-keschie does mair for ill-luckit, wandering sea-folk than does the muckle kirk and the peerie[3] queen pit together. And, though I say it that shouldna, puir Tammy kens when tae wake and when tae sleep better than them that has their heads fu' o' brains and books forby."

So maundering, Tammy returned to the house, and closed the back-door behind him, and then Yaspard stole round to the uninhabited and ruined portion of the house to reconnoitre.

When satisfied that the "coast was clear," he whistled softly in such perfect imitation of a golden plover, that the Harrisons, waiting for that same signal, were not quite sure that it was Yaspard, and no bird. But when the wild musical notes had been repeated three distinct times, they knew that it was their captain's call.

Fastening the boat to the dyke-end, they hastened to raise the foot-boards and open lockers fore and aft. From these hiding-places they took a curious assortment of articles—a blanket and towel, armour in plenty, a knife, fork, plate, and mug; two candles, a box of matches, and a basket of nondescript victuals. Stowing these into two keschies brought for the purpose, they slung the baskets on to their backs, and marched confidently up the hill, assured that Yaspard would give the alarm if danger was to be apprehended.

They reached his side without any adventure, and then all three clambered over the broken wall into what had been a goodly apartment—now roofless and in ruin. At the farther end of this room there was a low doorway, leading to a dark passage; and as Yaspard walked boldly towards it Gibbie said in a frightened whisper, "No' that way! surely no' that way? Yon passage ends in the haunted room."

"The haunted room, you goose, is just the place that is to be our captive's cell," replied the Viking.

"I thought ye meant this room, or some other bit that's fallen tae ruin," Gibbie muttered, and hesitating to follow the others, who went boldly along the passage, intending to enter the haunted room by a broken doorway of which Yaspard had been aware. His chagrin was great to find that aperture closed by a number of stout boards nailed firmly across it.

"What a bother! Now, I wonder why on earth this has been done?" Yaspard exclaimed aloud, disappointment overcoming caution; but he was recalled to the "position" on hearing some strange sounds on the other side of the boarding, evidently provoked by his own unguarded tones. The sounds were like a child's cry, blended with the sharp short barking noise which is supposed to be the manner in which trows give expression to their mirth; and these vocal utterances were supplemented by a sound of scratching and thumping applied to the boards.

The boys retreated into the outer room, where Gilbert had remained. He was leaning over the ruin, looking up at a window in the angle of the wall, and when the others reached him he said in tones of fear, "Look! there is a light in the haunted room!"

[1] A basket.

[2] "Raiding-strake," the final blow which clears up everything.

[3] "Peerie," little.



I ought to explain that the passage leading to that "haunted" chamber sloped upwards steeply enough to require a step here and there along it. It might even be called a stairway; therefore the little room—which had been the goal of Yaspard's present raid—was situated on a much higher level than the larger and more dilapidated apartment.

It was not possible to walk round and peep into the room, from which a flickering light was streaming through a tiny slit in the thick wall that did duty for a window. But we must not suppose that the courage of a Viking-boy was going to be daunted by trow-laughter or ghost-lights. No; nor by stone walls and high windows! The walls of Trullyabister were rugged, and, on that side at any rate, perforated by holes convenient for supporting the toe of a boot, and for otherwise assisting an athletic youth, thirsting for information, to solve the mysteries of the interior.

"I'll know what it means, or——" Yaspard did not finish his sentence in words; he shut his mouth up tight, and, scrambling over the ruins like a monkey, he was soon climbing up to the window.

The Harrisons watched him with intense interest, and when his hands were on the window-sill their excitement reached a climax.

It was with some difficulty that the bold adventurer raised himself high enough to see into the room, and it was only for one instant that he occupied such a position. Just as his face appeared at the window another face—a horrid face, from which a pair of large melancholy eyes glowed with a wild fierce light—presented itself opposite Yaspard, and stared out at him in a manner to startle the stoutest man alive.

Our hero did not wait for a second glance at that dreadful apparition, but descended from his equivocal position much more rapidly than he had reached it.

"What was it? Tell us quick," whispered Lowrie, and both he and his brother were trembling with fear. They had caught a glimpse of the face that had met Yaspard's, and its unearthly appearance had been greatly exaggerated by the shadows and the distance. Although they were too intelligent to credit any story of trows, they had lively imaginations, and had been bred in a land where the mysteries of creation take fantastic shapes in the minds of a wonder-loving and superstitious peasantry. They had shrunk from penetrating the secrets of that haunted room, and were not altogether surprised, though entirely frightened, that "something" had "appeared" to rebuke and check their leader's audacity.

While Yaspard gasped for breath after his hasty descent the Harrisons again begged, "Tell us quick about it," but Yaspard was in no hurry to tell. He retreated again into the ruin, whither his companions followed, and, sitting down by the loaded keschies, he cast his eyes on the ground and would not speak.

There was something awesome in the silence, in the surroundings, in the whole adventure, therefore it is not to be wondered that Lowrie felt creepy, and Gibbie's teeth chattered in his head.

At last the elder brother took courage to say, "Let's go back to our boat. There's nae gude tae be got o' sitting here like gaping fish left dry and high upon a skerry."

"Put the keschies in the passage, anyway," said Yaspard, agreeing to the proposal; but the Harrisons were not willing to enter that passage again, so they suggested another hiding-place, namely, the chimney, which was stopped up and grown over above, but had capacious ledges inside which suited admirably for the purpose they required. Their things were deposited there, and then the three adventurers stole silently away from Trullyabister, two feeling crestfallen and very uncomfortable, the third plunged in thought, and looking the beau ideal of a pirate chief meditating over some dark and deadly project.

It was not until the Osprey had passed the Hoobes, and was being swiftly rowed to Noostigard, that Yaspard broke the eerie silence which he had maintained in a most unusual manner. "It all works in!—works in beautiful!" he remarked. Now, that was not at all the kind of speech the others had expected, and their amazement was so great that they paused in their rowing and gazed at him in speechless astonishment.

He laughed then, his own hearty laugh, which somehow had the effect of dissipating all the fears with which they had been beset, but did not diminish their surprise and curiosity.

"Ye might tell us now!" they begged, in coaxing tones; and Yaspard answered, "I just believe Mr. Neeven is a wizard, and Tammy a sort of trow. Anyway, they are as bad as Vikings, for they have captured a poor lady and shut her up in the haunted room, with her baby too—all just the way people did ages ago! And now, don't you see, we've got to rescue them; we are the noble warriors who defend the weak and rescue them from thraldom!"

"Has he gone stark mad?" Gibbie asked of Lowrie.

"Not he," retorted Yaspard. "He is telling you the exact truth—believe it or not, as you please. I saw the mother, and I saw the baby; and I saw the back—I am glad he wasn't looking my way—of their tyrant and jailer, Mr. Neeven. So there!"

"A mother and baby in the haunted room! But how did they get there, can anybody imagine?"

"They are there, and that is enough for us."

"It's the strangest thing I ever heard tell o'," ejaculated Lowrie; "and yet," he added, "we must allow we did hear something uncommonly like a bairn greetin'."

"Of course we did," retorted Yaspard.

"But what kind of a critter was it came to the window?" Gibbie asked. "That was surely no human critter."

"The prettiest lady in creation would cast an ugly shadow from that hole," was the ready reply, which satisfied the brothers, who believed that their imaginations, and the dread they were in, as well as the uncertain light, had caused them to fancy they saw something peculiar. They were then quite ready to denounce Mr. Neeven for his inhuman conduct, and eager to devise some plan by which the poor prisoners might be rescued.

Yaspard had no difficulty in winning their approval of his next plan; and indeed, so ardently did they desire to set about it, that they were almost sorry when he said, "Easy, easy, boys! One thing at a time! Don't let us forget, in our haste to be after this business, that we have other important matters on hand. We have to find Gloy, and we have to meet the lads of Lunda at Havnholme this afternoon. We haven't much time on our hands, if Gloy has to be found before we go to receive his ransom."

"Strikes me," muttered Gibbie, "that we are in a mess about Gloy."

"It's puzzling, but it will all come right," was the chief's reply, spoken in his usual cheery style, which cleared the cloud from Gibbie's brow, and sent him home believing as implicitly as before that Yaspard would find a way of making things come straight. "He always does," the brothers agreed, as they softly stole up to their room, leaving the Viking to paddle himself across the voe.

At breakfast next morning Mrs. Harrison asked in some surprise what they had done with Gloy, for she had expected her nephew would certainly be brought to her house. She was not a little disturbed on hearing of his disappearance, but the factor said, "There's nae harm come to the lad. Ye need not be frightened. It's plain enough some boat has come by, and the men have insisted on his going wi' them. For, mind ye, yon geo is a dangerous place if a high tide happened tae set in."

He would not listen to his boys' arguments against such an explanation. Neither Gloy's declaring himself still "The Prisoner," nor Pirate's honesty as policeman, could shake Harrison's belief in his own theory of the matter. "You'll see I'm right," he ended with; "but I wad like tae ken what way young master is going tae redd it up wi' the lads o' Lunda. My word! he will hae a bourne keschie o' crabs to sort wi' them, if he canno' tell what's come o' their maute." [1]

While Gibbie had been answering questions and their parents had been talking, Lowrie was fidgeting in his chair, trying to gather courage to tell the yet more startling incident which occurred during the midnight trespass on Trullyabister.

At last he managed to say, "Faither, I never could hae thought that Mr. Neeven was a—was a bairn-stealer and a wumman-stealer."

James Harrison stared at his son, as well he might, and one of the older girls cried out, "What in a' the world have ye got in your crazy head, Lowrie?"

Then Lowrie told all he knew about the mother and baby prisoned in the haunted room, and his father listened to the story with a preternatural solemnity of countenance.

Mrs. Harrison, the girls, and small children stared and were dumb, as Lowrie enlarged upon the baby wails which had stirred his soul, and the great glowing eyes that had appeared for one brief moment at the small window. It was all the most remarkable tale that had ever been told at Noostigard, and it was not spoilt by any verbal interruption.

When the story was ended Harrison asked, in a curious low voice that seemed shaken by some strange emotion, "And so ye'll be for letting out Mr. Neeven's prisoners instead o' shutting up your ain? Weel, my boys, tak care that ye dinna find yoursel's in a trap, as mony a wild fellow o' a sea-rover has found himsel' in times past. Mind ye, yon Vikings, that ye hae sae muckle sang about, did not aye come aff wi' the best o' it. Sometimes they had tae tak their turn in the prisons too."

"Yaspard will tak care we don't come off second best," said the boys confidently; but their father shook his head.

"I'm thinking," he said, "ye'll find ye've got a rale Viking tae deal wi' if ye tackle Mr. Neeven, or meddle wi' ony o' his affairs. I wadna be in Yaspard Adiesen's shoes if he gets intil Mr. Neeven's birse." [2]

"But, faither, it's a crying shame of him to keep such puir critters prisoned in such a place; and surely Yaspard is right to wish to set them free."

"I'll no say he's wrang. I think it is a shame, but I'm just warning you tae be careful;—I mean that ye tell your chief (as ye ca' him) tae be careful—very careful."

"We'll tell him what you say," they answered.

Harrison would not allow his wife or girls to discuss the matter, and a significant look he gave them served to silence them on the subject for that time.

[1] "Maute," a comrade, chum, or mate.

[2] Bristles.



That afternoon the Osprey, with the three young rovers and Pirate aboard, went out the voe. They were not so jubilant as they had expected to be when sailing to meet the foe, for they were not at all sure how the lads of Lunda would receive their story of Gloy's disappearance.

The place of meeting was Havnholme, and when they neared that island Yaspard's quick eyes detected the Laulie moored by the crags and a group of boys standing near the skeö watching for the Boden boat.

"They've come in force!" our Viking exclaimed. "Five of them, no less! and one's a man!"

"Why, one is Gloy!" cried Gibbie; and—in more subdued tones—Lowrie added "And the man is Mr. Garson, the young Laird o' Lunda!"

"That's jolly!" Yaspard said; "but how Gloy got there beats me to imagine," and he cast a reproachful glance at Pirate, who was looking up into his master's face with such an expression of fidelity in his honest brown eyes that the boy could not resist their appeal. He took the dog's head between his hands and said, "No, Pirate, I will not think you broke faith with me."

"The mystery will soon be cleared up now," remarked Lowrie, as he lowered the sail and directed his brother to row gently, so that they might bring up alongside of the Laulie.

By the time their boat was moored to the crags, the Lunda boys and their chief were standing there, all grinning from ear to ear. As for Gloy, he was all "one huge laugh," Yaspard said, with some exasperation in his tone.

"I suppose I mustn't shake hands with you, Mr. Garson," the Viking said, addressing himself to Fred as he jumped on shore; but Fred laughed and caught both of Yaspard's hands in his as he replied, "Nonsense, man! You ought to know that honourable enemies do not scruple to shake hands even on the eve of battle. I was exceedingly pleased with your letter, and very glad to make your acquaintance under any circumstances."

"Even Uncle Brüs could not hold out against a fellow like you!" Yaspard exclaimed, as he returned that hearty hand-clasp, and looked into the winsome, manly face, so much endowed with the magnetic power that drew all hearts to Fred Garson.

They all laughed at Yaspard's words, but they all knew how potent was Fred's spell, and did not wonder at the boy's enthusiasm.

"I suppose," said Fred then, "that before I answer your letter we should explain about your captive, taken in fair war, and here ready to yield himself back into your hands if you are not satisfied with his explanation and the ransom we bring."

"It's here—just as you stipulated," Bill Mitchell exclaimed, rattling a little tin pail he carried; "pebbles wet with the waves of Westervoe. See!" and he jerked off the lid and showed some stones in a pail full of salt water.

"If I were Gloy," burst forth the blunt and tactless Tom Holtum, "I'd be ashamed of being valued at such a trumpery price. If you had priced him against a bit of lichen torn from the Head of Calloster, which might have cost us our lives to procure, that would have been more like the thing. But beach stones in salt water, bah!"

"Tom, lad!" said Fred gently, "if you were living in a city far from Lunda—as I have been—you would put a higher price on pebbles wet with the sea that girdles the old isle. I picked up a small stone myself, when I left home for the first time, and I carried it always in my pocket. I keep it still for sake of its memories; one values a trifle for reasons known only to himself."

His companions had not reached the age when boys learn to put a little sentiment into their actions, so they only stared in surprised silence; but Yaspard fully appreciated what Fred said, and remarked, "It was a little like that way that I was thinking when I bade them bring those pebbles. I must not go to Westervoe myself, so I thought I'd like to have something from it. I thought I should feel more like one of you boys—not so much by myself, and all that sort of thing—if I could handle something that reminded me of you." Then, tossing back his head rather proudly, as he caught Tom winking to Bill, he added, "You value that flag at your masthead for what it reminds you of—not its mere money value. I might call it a dirty old rag, but you price it highly. I dare say you see what I mean now. I'm not good at explaining myself."

They broke into a cheer, and Tom's voice was the loudest of the lot. "Oh, you're not a bad sort," he tried, "and you must take our chaff in good part. You'll see enough of Westervoe before you're done with us, I'll be bound; and as for adventures—why, man, you're providing us with them! You are the inventor of adventure. Take out a patent, and you'll make a fortune out of us, for we love that sort of thing better than a miser loves his money."

"I'm burning tae hear Gloy's story," said Lowrie, as soon as Tom gave any one a chance to speak. So Gloy was shoved to the front, and bidden to "speak up, and speak quick," which he did right willingly.

"It was Mr. Adiesen in his dingy," he said. "He was ahint the skerry when we were in the geo, and heard a'."

"I might have guessed as much if I had not been an ass," Yaspard exclaimed. "I might have known that Pirate would only obey one of us from Moolapund."

"Was the Laird awfu' angry?" Gibbie asked.

"Yes, he was; but when I tell'd him as weel as I could hoo it a' cam aboot, and hoo lonesome Mr. Yaspard was, and hoo he had heard a' about wis o' Lunda and wir ploys and vaidges, and hoo he wanted tae hae the like too;—weel, the Laird o' Boden mused like upo' what I said; and then he took oot his pocketbook and wrate a peerie letter wi' his pencil. And then he bade me come inta the dingy, and I was tae row ower tae Lunda wi' him. Sae I did as I was bid—after asking his leave tae pit yon message for you upo' the rod. He asked me a heap aboot wis a'—I mean aboot the Manse folk, and Dr. Holtum's bairns, and maist aboot our young Laird and Miss Isobel and the lady. And when we cam' tae Lunda he bade me land and carry the note he had written tae Dr. Holtum, and after that I was tae do as I liked aboot mysel'. Then he rowed awa' again. And so noo my tale is ended;" and, having so delivered himself of the longest speech he ever made in his life, Gloy sprawled on the turf, and lay kicking his heels in the sunshine, feeling himself to be the hero of the hour.

Yaspard drew a long breath. He could scarcely believe it true that his uncle had allowed himself to be so near Lunda, and to be so interested in its young people. "What next, I wonder?" he muttered, and looked at Fred, who answered the inquiry in the Viking's gaze by saying—

"I am not at liberty to tell what Mr. Adiesen wrote to Dr. Holtum; but it wasn't like what he wrote to me, and it wasn't bad at all. So let your mind be at rest on that point. You are as free as ever to carry on your Viking course."

"Father said," Tom interrupted, "that we are now at liberty to bring you as a prisoner to Lunda, if we can catch you as easily as you caught Gloy, so you will have to look out."

"I'll be delighted, quite delighted!" was the answer, which sent the enemy into fits of laughter.

Then Harry asked, trying to look very grave, and extending the tin pail towards Yaspard—

"You accept this ransom, and the captive is free?"

"Place the precious ore in our bark," said the Viking chief, handing the pail to Gibbie.

"And take care," said Harry, "that you don't scrape your bark on an oar as you do it."

"The perpetrator of such atrocious puns ought to be severely punished," retorted Yaspard.

"He is always sorry for them afterwards," said Bill.

"I wish I were not free," muttered Gloy. "I wanted to go to Noostigard," and he exchanged regretful looks with his cousins; but Fred lifted the cloud from their spirits.

"I am going to ask you," he said, addressing Yaspard, "to take me with you to Boden; and perhaps you will allow Gloy to come as my henchman?"

"You! what? Why, didn't Uncle Brüs—you're never going to beard the lion in his den."

"That is just what I intend," Fred answered, smiling.

"But—oh, you know I'd like it—but you will be insulted. It will be horrid. There will be a row, sure as anything. I can't bear to think of what he may say; and, being an old man, you won't like to answer back, and—you have no idea what bitter words Uncle Brüs says when he is angry."

Yaspard's eyes filled with tears, and he hung his head for shame, as he pictured to himself the reception which that gracious, gallant young knight was likely to receive in Boden.

"Don't fear!" said Harry Mitchell, laying a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Our captain has a way of his own of turning thunder-clouds into sunshine."

"He has a temper, and he likes to be monarch of all he surveys," added Tom; "but he is the finest fellow out; and he will tackle old Adiesen—beg pardon, the Laird of Boden—in just the properest way. You needn't be afraid to give Fred a passage in your boat."

"And Gloy, please, sir," added the Harrisons.

"I am at Mr. Garson's service," said Yaspard. Then a brilliant idea came into his head, dispelling in a moment all his doubts and fears. "I'll tell you what," he cried, "you shall meet my little sister first, and she shall take you to Uncle Brüs. He will do anything for her. She is always there when my boat is coming in, and we'll hand you over to Signy. That's the ticket!"

"Sisters are towers of strength, arks of refuge in a storm," said Fred.

"Well, that's settled," remarked Tom, "so the best you can do is to be off as quickly as possible and get it over. We will go and lay our lines at the Ootskerries, and have some sport till you return. When will that be?"

"Don't wait for us," said Fred. "I may be detained, and your mothers might be anxious. When you've hauled your lines just go home, and I'll trust to being safely despatched to Lunda from Boden."

The Mitchells and Tom got into the Laulie, and were soon sailing to their favourite fishing-ground, while the others embarked in the Osprey and made tacks for Boden voe.



When they arrived there it was as Yaspard had said. Signy was on the beach waiting for her brother, and great was her surprise to see Fred in the Osprey.

But when her brother explained, and told her of the part they expected her to play, the little girl's heart began to beat with the wildest hopes and fears that ever stirred in one so young.

The shadow of that terrible family feud had early fallen on her gentle spirit, and the vivid imagination which made her almost realise many merely ideal fancies had exaggerated that inherited enmity into something too dreadful to put into words. Such thoughts had been fostered, of course, by the inconsiderate way in which Mr. Adiesen had spoken and acted, never thinking, as he ought to have done, of the tender years of one who marked his words—never caring that his sentiments were the reverse of Christian. I think he rather "prided himself" upon the feud as a thing pertaining to his family tree, and to be cherished along with the motto on his crest! No one had dared to tell the Laird of Boden plainly that he was acting as no civilised—far less God-fearing—man should act, and he had never taken himself to task upon the subject. Consequently he had put no restraint on his speech, nor cared who heard him, when denouncing the Lairds of Lunda and all pertaining to them!

Signy would, of her own free will, as soon have put her hand into a red-hot fire as have asked Uncle Brüs to receive Fred Garson in a hospitable manner; but she was made of fine metal, and would carry out Yaspard's wishes, although all the thunders of Thor and Odin were ready to burst on her little head.

She put her hand frankly into that of Fred and walked up to the house, soon followed by Yaspard, who had only lingered a moment to give some instructions to the Harrisons before they left, with Gloy, for their home.

When Moolapund was reached Yaspard said to Signy, "Take Mr. Garson to the parlour, and I will go and tell Aunt Osla he is here."

The parlour, you may remember, was being used as a study while the Den was undergoing renovation; and Mr. Adiesen was sitting at a table examining some pieces of rock which greatly delighted him, for he was saying to himself, in tones of extreme satisfaction, "I knew it! I was convinced of it! I always believed it was to be found in those islands! and I am the discoverer!"

"Uncle!" said the soft little voice, and the scientist turned round to face his hereditary foe!

He had never seen Fred, but some striking traits peculiar to his race, made it easy for Mr. Adiesen to recognise a Garson in the bold youth who stood there smiling and holding out the hand of good-fellowship.

The old man was completely taken aback. The instinct of hospitality, which is held like a sacred thing among Shetlanders, bade him receive with a measure of courtesy whoever chanced to come under his "rooftree," but another instinct, as deeply rooted, and more ready to exhibit itself, was also moving within him.

Fortunately no time was given him to choose between two courses. Signy caught his hand between her own, kissed it with quick fervency, and laid it in that of Fred, saying as she did so, "Dear Uncle Brüs, for my sake, for your own little Signy's sake."

They did not give him a single moment to recover himself—not a single demon of hatred, jealousy, or pride got a chance to reassert its power in time to prevent that hand-clasp; and before he could speak either, the ground was half cut from under him!

As if they had been meeting every day, and were old friends, Fred said, as their hands met, "How do you do? I see you have triumphed where even the famous geologist Congreve failed. We have chipped the rocks for years, and Mr. Congreve has searched high and low, in Lunda and Burra Isle, in every skerry and locality where that" (pointing to the beautifully veined bits of mineral) "ought to be found, but without success. Allow me to congratulate you on such a discovery. You are to be envied, Mr. Adiesen. May I take a near view of your specimens?"

How it came about no one could ever tell, but a few minutes later Yaspard and Aunt Osla, coming in much trepidation to the parlour, found Fred and Mr. Adiesen in amicable conversation over the stones, while Signy stood between her uncle's knees, with his arm around her, and his fingers lovingly twined among her bright curls!

Aunt Osla was nervous and tearful, and would have made a scene, no doubt, but for Fred's admirable tact. He addressed her, as he had done the Laird, just as if they were ordinary acquaintances meeting in the most matter-of-fact, every-day kind of manner. Wrath and sentiment alike collapsed before such commonplace salutations, and both Mr. Adiesen and his sister felt they would only make themselves ridiculous if they met young Garson's simple civility with any expression of deeper feelings.

So the conversation glided smoothly into the well-worn and useful channels of ordinary talk about the weather, and the crops, and the fishing, and "the South," until Miss Adiesen was at her ease enough to say, "I hope your dear mother is well?"

"She is regaining strength and a degree of cheerfulness, thank you," said Fred; and then quite naturally, as if he knew he were talking on a subject interesting to his hearers, he went on to speak of the trial they had passed through in the loss of his father; and when he had said just enough about that he quietly glided into Mr. Adiesen's favourite themes, surprising the old gentleman considerably by his knowledge of natural science and his intelligent appreciation of the scientist himself!

Yaspard sat near, a delighted listener, while Fred, using his utmost powers of fascination, talked Uncle Brüs into good humour, and so paved the way to an amicable adjustment of some of the differences between the rival Lairds.

It was not till tea had been served, and the day was far spent, that Fred asked the loan of a boat, and his young friend Yaspard's crew, to take him back to Lunda. Permission was given, of course; and when our Viking-boy went off to get the Osprey ready Signy went too, and Aunt Osla disappeared to indite a letter to her old friend, Fred's mother. Thus the two men were left alone, which was exactly what Fred desired, and he was not long in taking advantage of an opportunity he had been devoutly desiring would come.

"What a fine lad that is!" he said, speaking of Yaspard. "He is quite the ideal Hialtlander!"

"He is rather too fond of romance and the like," answered the old man; but he smiled, for he was fond of his nephew, and liked to hear him praised.

"Yes, I think with you that there is an excess of romantic sentiment in his character; and that kind of thing is apt to become exaggerated into eccentricity or foolishness. I suppose he can't help it, living so much within himself, as it were."

"Possibly—that is—so!" Mr. Adiesen replied slowly.

"I hope," Fred resumed, and he smiled very pleasantly, "that this Viking fancy he has taken up may be of service to him in bringing him into contact with boys of his own age and rank. The young Mitchells are capital fellows, and you know better than most folk what sort of companions he is likely to find in Dr. Holtum's family."

"The Doctor is a man in a thousand. He did me a service I am not likely to forget on this side the grave. I don't see him as often as—might be under different circumstances. But I respect him. Yes, young man, I respect Dr. Holtum!" And the frown which had gathered on the old man's brow at mention of the Mitchells cleared up more rapidly than Fred had dared to hope for.

"I don't know how we should get along without Dr. Holtum—we young ones, I mean," he remarked. "He enters so much into all our fun, and then he is so very clever too, a first-rate scientist. They have a 'menagerie,' as large and interesting as your own, at Collaster. And the twins—they are a little older than your lovely little niece, but she would find them companionable, for she is older than her years, I think. I suppose it will be with her as it is with Yaspard in some respects?"

"Signy is quite contented without girls' society, and she can never become either eccentric or foolish," Mr. Adiesen said hurriedly; but all the same he suddenly had a vision of his pet growing up to be peculiar, and an old maid perhaps resembling Aunt Osla, or some other of the many spinster ladies whose insular life had doomed them to that fate.

"My sister Isobel and I," said Fred, "always feel that we are more fortunate than the greater number of Lairds' families in having so many companions in our island. It has been desperately good for me, I know, to have such clever chaps as Eric Mitchell and Svein Holtum for my chums."

"And your sister? Dr. Holtum's girls are younger?"

"Yes, and Isobel suffers in consequence. We all make a great fuss over Isobel, and she thinks a little too much of her own consequence. But still she has advantages—from the society of ladies, for instance—which your Signy cannot have."

The entrance of Signy herself put a stop to the conversation, but Fred was satisfied that he had sown good seed which would produce the right kind of fruit by-and-by. When he left Boden his heart was light within him. He took Mr. Adiesen's insolent note from his pocket and tore it to bits, scattering them on the sea, and saying within himself, "A soft answer turneth away wrath;" then to Yaspard he said, "Now, Sir Viking, for your letter. You want the answer, don't you?"



Yaspard and Fred were alone in the boat. There was a pleasant breeze blowing fair, and Yaspard had preferred taking his passenger himself, leaving the Harrisons to entertain Gloy at Noostigard. Thus the conversation between the two could be as confidential as they pleased.

"I wonder," said Fred, "if you know that it was your letter that brought me to Boden?"

The Viking opened his eyes very wide. Evidently he knew nothing of the sort, and Fred laughed as he glanced over the sheet of paper which had come out of his pocket with that other letter.

"I don't believe you have the least idea how good a letter it is. My mother cried over it, and Isobel declared the writer ought to be crowned king of every 'vik' in Shetland."

"Oh, come!" Yaspard exclaimed, blushing hotly at his own praises so sung.

We will take the liberty of looking over Fred Garson's shoulder, and reading that epistle which had done so much good.

"DEAR MR. GARSON,—My uncle has directed that the enclosed letter shall be sent to you, so I must put it with this. It is none of my business to judge him, and I am sure you will not forget that he is an old man, and has been bred up with a lot of old-fangled fads, and lives a very solitary kind of life. I want you to know that I have begun a kind of game which I expect will give me a chance of meeting some of your Lunda fellows. I would take it as a great honour if you would keep an eye upon us in this matter, and umpire us when we get anyhow mixed about the rights of the game. I hope to find the Manse boys at Havnholme, and will tell them, so that they can explain to you. I am going to pretend to be a Viking, and make raids. But I'd like you to know something more about it than the mere play and nonsense.

"I just hate that horrid, miserable quarrel, which uncle speaks about as The Feud; it seems such a stupid, cruel sort of thing. Poor Aunt Osla cries about it, and my little sister and I are sometimes so unhappy over it that we vow we shall make an end of it when we are grown up. It is so awfully hard to think that there are so many boys and girls like us growing up in Lunda, and we can't know them because of the Feud. The truth is, I have not patience to wait till I am grown up. It will be too late then, for I shall have lost my boy-friends while I was a boy. Now, I hope you will understand that my Viking exploits have got a really good kind of idea at the bottom of them; so if you hear of fights, and forays, and the like, you will know that I am trying in that way to 'settle' this hideous old vampire of a fend. It's the only way I could think of while Uncle Brüs feels as he does.

"I know you are a right good fellow, as your father was, and you will help me. I do need a good fellow's help, and you can't think how my heart seems sometimes like to burst with longing to be with other boys and like other boys. People talk of your minister, how good he is; and of Mrs. Mitchell, and that splendid boy Frank who died. And I hear of all you do for the poor people, and about the Lady. Aunt Osla has a heap to tell about her. I think I would not be so selfish and so foolish as I am if I could talk to some of you Lunda folk, and see how you live. But I must obey Uncle Brüs, and I must not annoy him; so it's hard to see how I can clear up matters unless I go on the 'war-path,' and you help me to manage our 'sham' so that it does not harm anybody. Trusting you, I am your honest admirer and hereditary foe,


"P.S.—Please, dear Mr. Garson, forgive Uncle Brüs, and pray, as I do, that somebody may persuade him how silly and really sinful a feud can be."

"Yes, it's a prime letter," remarked Fred; "and nothing but that letter (particularly the postscript) would have made me pass over—— Bah! what is the use of thinking more about it."

But even then his face flushed, and his naturally imperious temper rose, as he recalled the rude, angry words which Mr. Adiesen had written. There was a short silence, which Yaspard was the first to break, "You have made a lot of people happy to-day, Mr. Garson," he said very gratefully.

"I hope this is only the beginning of good times for us all," was the answer. "But now, I wonder what is going to be your next adventure?"

"I expect they'll grow one out of another. By the way, what shall we do about Gloy?"

"He isn't your prisoner now, but your guest, so you must let him return when he pleases. No doubt the Mitchells will have some plan in head for making capital out of Gloy's presence in Boden."

They chatted in the most friendly manner till they reached Lunda, when they parted with mutual regret and many assurances that they should meet again at no very distant time.

The wind was even more favourable for the voyage back, and Yaspard's little boat went swiftly and easily along. He leaned back and let her go, while giving himself up to ecstatic dreams of adventure in which his new acquaintance played the important part. He had adopted Fred Garson for his hero, and was already setting him in the chief place in every airy castle of his imagination; but fancy's flight was interrupted by flight of another kind. As he lay back, gazing more into the air than on the course before him, his attention was drawn to a party of shooies (Arctic skuas) badgering a raven, who was greatly annoyed, and seemed at a sore disadvantage—a position which the lordly bird seldom allows himself to be in.

These shooies live chiefly by preying on other birds. They are winged parasites; they are very audacious, and fear no foe. Although they are not larger than a pigeon, they are not afraid to lay siege to an erne or a glaucus gull, and they will often do so as much for amusement as for gain.

"Mr. Corbie is in a fix," quoth Yaspard to himself, as he watched the swift, graceful evolutions of the shooies as they darted through the air buffeting and tormenting the unfortunate raven, whose harsh, fierce croak and futile efforts to escape were quite pitiful though amusing.

"If he doesn't gain land somehow he's done for, poor wretch: he is tired now, and can't keep on wing much longer; if he touches the water it's all up with him. Poor old corbie! they must have been after him a long time." Thus our Viking soliloquised, as his boat glided on until it was passing below the aerial battlefield.

At that moment Sir Raven, uttering a loud and prolonged scream, shot downward and alighted on the thwart next Yaspard, too exhausted to do more than utter one faint croak, which might have been a parting anathema on the shooies, but which charity impels me to believe was an expression of thankfulness for such an ark of refuge as the boat of a Viking.

Yaspard leaned quickly forward, exclaiming, "Why, can it be? Yes, sure enough—Thor, old fellow, how came you to be in such a plight?"

Still gasping, but self-possessed, Thor hopped from the thwart on to Yaspard's arm, and then, turning up one side of his head, he leered at the shooies in such an expressive and ludicrous manner that the boy went into fits of laughter, even though one of the shooies swooped so near in its baffled anger as to touch his hair.

Thor snuggled up to his master, and began to smooth his ruffled plumes a bit, while Yaspard, tossing his hand about, so frightened the winged banditti that they flew away, and Thor was satisfied.

It was only when this interesting episode was over that our young rover allowed his vision to return to the homeward course; but when his glance fell upon the sea ahead he saw a sight to rejoice the spirit of a Viking. Near the mouth of Boden voe, straight before him, keeping watch for him, lay the Laulie, her blue flag with its golden star flying merrily at the mast-head, her white sail spread, her jolly crew all alert and "on the war-path."

She was cruising about the entrance to the fiord, with the obvious intention of preventing the Osprey from reaching her own lawful domain.

Up Yaspard sprung, and keenly surveyed the enemy's position and his own, calculating his "chances" with as much anxiety as if life and honour were at stake. He did not dream of turning aside, or trying to reach any harbour of refuge save his own voe; but he knew that to pass the Laulie in safety would require considerable manoeuvring and daring seamanship.

With utmost pleasure, and

"The stern joy that warriors feel
In foemen worthy of their steel,"

he drew from the locker his black Viking flag and ran it aloft, smiling as the ugly thing spread itself in the breeze.

Thor watched this performance with profound gravity and attention; and when Yaspard resumed his position Sir Raven solemnly hopped away and took up a position on the bow, with his weather-eye sagaciously fixed upon the black flag high overhead. He had so lately suffered so much from dark-hued things flying above him that he was suspicious of that pennon's intentions, and felt it necessary to observe its movements with the closest heedfulness.

Yaspard, however, put another construction on the bird's behaviour. "You're a genuine old brick!" he said; "a real Viking's raven, and no mistake, Thor. Now I call that very fine of you, to take your proper place on my prow. They'll think I've trained you to it. What prime fun this is, to be sure!"

Thor lifted his shoulders, bent forward his head, and croaked as dismally as ever his congeners croaked over a field of the slain in days gone by; and Yaspard nodded to him, then gave entire attention to the management of his boat.



We may be sure that the Laulie's crew watched our hero's movements with quite as much interest as he noted theirs, and when his battle-flag was seen they shouted for joy.

"He knows what we are up to. He has challenged us," Harry Mitchell exclaimed with great satisfaction. "Now, boys, we've got to nail him before he passes Yelholme."

"His boat goes very fast; she is light too, and he has her well in hand," Tom remarked critically as the Osprey drew nearer, skimming the waves as airily and swiftly as any bird.

Yelholme, to which reference had been made, lay near the course Yaspard was on. If the Laulie could not intercept Yaspard before he reached the little island she would lose ground by being obliged to tack a good deal, while he, having the wind with him, would easily get ahead.

"If it becomes a chase we haven't a chance," said Harry, "so we must try and cut him off at the holme."

But Yaspard knew pretty well what their tactics were likely to be, and acted accordingly.

It is not possible to describe with any degree of accuracy the very clever way in which the boats tried to circumvent each other; how the Osprey dodged here and there, striving to outrace the other, and how the Laulie gallantly defeated every attempt so made. At last Yaspard, seeing that nothing but a very bold effort had any chance of success, determined to try a delicate manoeuvre. His boat, being smaller and lighter than the Laulie, could venture much nearer a skerry or holme. He resolved to run straight for Yelholme. He knew that the other boat would do likewise, but approaching from another point, would be obliged to lower sail and trust to the oars. He hoped he could keep "on wing," and round the holme in safety before the Laulie had got on the same course. Accordingly he altered his tactics, and sent his skiff careening toward the holme as if he meant to dash right into it.

"What on earth is he up to now?" Bill exclaimed in wonder; "he will be under our stern in a jiffy if he holds on like that."

"If he passes astern he will reach the holme and be round it before us. We must not allow that; drop the sail, Bill," said Harry.

Down went the Laulie's sail, and in a short time she was rowing swiftly for the same point that the Osprey seemed bent on gaining. Yaspard did not alter his course one bit until he was within talking distance of the enemy, and dangerously near the holme.

"Don't be rash, man," Harry sung out. "You will be flung on the holme by that undertow on the lee side."

Even as he spoke Yaspard saw the danger he had not considered, and promptly dropped his sail. By that time the boats were almost within an oar's length of each other, but the Osprey was ahead. With wondrous speed the Viking-boy had his oars out, and would soon have been round the holme and on his course again, but at that moment Tom Holtum caught up a coil of rope lying handy, and flung it like a lasso over the Osprey. The bight fell over her rudder and horn, and before the hapless Viking could leave his seat or lift a finger to save himself, his boat was hauled alongside of the Laulie, and he was captured.

"Fairly caught!" cried Bill, leaning over to thump him on the back, while Tom clutched the Osprey with both hands, determined that she should not escape.

Then Yaspard struck his colours, and remarked, "You need not be so particular with your grappling-irons, Holtum; I yield myself to the fortune of fair fight."

"Come aboard us," said Harry. "You did awfully well, and needn't mind that Tom's dodge was more successful than yours. It was a low kind of trick on the whole, but we were determined to make you our prisoner."

By that time Yaspard was in the Laulie, and his boat towing ignobly in the rear. Thor, puzzled out of his dignity by such extraordinary proceedings, afraid to trust himself with his master in the enemies' hands, and too tired to seek refuge in flight, then gave vent to his feelings in speech—

"Uncle, uncle. Croak! bad boy! croak! croak! croak! Yap! yap! yap! Pirate; hi, good dog! Dog! Uncle! oh my!"

He had never spoken so much at one time before, but the situation called for a supreme effort.

When he concluded his oration, amid yells of laughter, Thor turned up his eyes till nothing but a streak of white was visible, and shoved his beak among the feathers on one shoulder as if he meant to go to sleep.

"What a fellow, to be sure!" exclaimed Tom. "He licks Crawbie all to nothing."

Harry explained to Yaspard that Crawbie was a hoodie crow belonging to Svein Holtum, and a great talker, but nothing like Thor in that respect.

Harry was soon on his hobby, and would have discoursed on birds for an hour if Bill had not stopped him by asking, "Well, boys, what's the next move?"

"Home, of course," said Harry; "at least, to Collaster first, for the Viking is Tom's prize, and must be taken to the Doctor's house."

"I should like that hugely," said the captive; "but may I beg you to remember my anxious and sorrowing relations, who will strain dim eyes in vain and all the rest of that sort of thing. They'll be horribly frightened at Moolapund if I am not back there tonight, and it's late now."

A long discussion followed as to how the Boden folk were to be informed of the Viking's position. One suggestion was that a Manse boy was to return to Boden in the Osprey, tell the tale, and bring Gloy away; but that plan was rejected, because Yaspard declared that his "followers" would seize the messenger, and hold both him and Gloy as hostages for their captain.

Then a brilliant idea occurred to Harry, who had always been the most reflecting boy of the lot.

"I'll tell you what to do. Send Thor with a message tied to his leg. That was what Svein did once, when he was hurt and in Vega. Crawbie had gone after him; and he carved two words on the cover of his pocket-book, tied it to Crawbie, and Crawbie went to Collaster with it."

"Splendid! Yes, the very thing!" the others cried.

So a hard-boiled egg was taken from the ferdimet, and laid temptingly on Yaspard's hand as a lure for Thor, who was evidently averse to trusting himself in the Laulie. But his weakness was an egg, and he soon flopped across to his master's knee, where he was detained for "further orders."

"Will he go home?" was the next debatable point. Yaspard thought Thor would, if they made it sufficiently plain to his corvidaeous intellect that he must not remain with the boats.

"He has often followed me, poor old chap!" said Yaspard. "I dare say he was coming on my tracks when the shooies fell foul of him; he will return to Moolapund if I drive him off. He won't halt by the way now, for it is near his roosting time, and he is tired to boot."

They did as Svein Holtum had shown them how, and tearing the cover from a pocket-book, tied it securely to Thor's leg. To make assurance doubly sure, a duplicate was fixed around his neck. Yaspard wrote on these boards—

"Captured on the high seas; taken in chains to Collaster.—THE VIKING."

Then he tossed Thor up from his hand, crying, "Shoo! off with you! Home now!" But Thor flitted no farther than the Osprey, and, settling in his favourite place at the bow, began to pull viciously at the book-boards.

Bill hauled the smaller boat alongside and clambered into her, making noise and demonstration enough, as he did so, to scare any ordinary bird; but Thor did not stir from the spot until Bill's hands were almost on him. Then he merely hopped from the one boat to the other, remarking as he did it, "Just so!" which of course sent the boys off yelling as before with wild laughter.

Now, no self-respecting raven will endure to be laughed at, especially when he is merely repeating a boy's pet phrase. Nor will he tamely submit to being chased from stem to stern with shouts of "Shoo! shoo!" Thor felt trebly insulted just then; possibly he believed that "Shoo! shoo!" had something to do with shooies, and the allusion was ill-timed he considered.

After much noise and hustling, and what Thor looked upon as unseemly action, he came to the conclusion that a boat is not always an ark of refuge, nor is one's master always to be depended upon as a sure help in time of need. With these thoughts came a recollection of the comforts of Moolapund and the more fit companionship of Mr. Adiesen. That settled the point in Thor's mind.

"Bad boy! Shoo!" he burst forth wrathfully, and then screeching out, "Uncle, Pirate, uncle, uncle, uncle!" he spread his great wings and took a bee-line for Moolapund.

Loud hurrahs followed him; but Thor never looked back once, never turned to the right or the left, but, swift as possible in his cumbered condition, flew home, and alighting on the parlour window-sill, began to jabber every word he knew, without the least attention to either grammar or construction of words, and in such excited tones that Mr. Adiesen's attention was drawn to him. Thor was admitted at once, and freed from his burden. Then the message was read; and while the Laird read, Miss Osla and Signy waited in fear and trembling, but never a word spoke the old man.

"What has that boy been doing?" the boy's aunt asked at length.

"Taking his turn at being captive, as I warned him might happen."

"Oh, Uncle Brüs, have they taken Yaspard?" Signy cried in great excitement.

"'Captured on the high seas; taken in chains to Collaster.—THE VIKING,'" Mr. Adiesen read with impressive solemnity; and Miss Osla, scarcely understanding what was the state of the case, or whether her brother was joking, or the reverse, exclaimed—

"Dear, dear! whatever has he been about now? He is the very strangest boy. To Collaster! in chains! What a foolish, foolish boy! He must have been interfering with some of those young Mitchells. Of course Mr. Garson has nothing to do with his nonsense!"

Mr. Adiesen had walked out of the room long before she stopped; and her bewilderment was much increased by Signy saying delightedly—

"Captured! and taken to Collaster! Oh, how pleased brodhor must be!"



The lads found that it was so late when they neared Lunda, that it would be best to divide, one boat going to Collaster, and the other proceeding to Westervoe; so Tom and Yaspard (the latter on a kind of parole) were transferred to the Osprey, which immediately made sail for Collaster, while the Manse boat conveyed the Mitchells to their own home.

The Holtums were lingering over their supper when Tom presented himself, bringing his captive with hands fastened together by a lanyard borrowed from Harry Mitchell for the purpose. The captive's glowing face, afire with fun and joyous anticipation, did not accord with the humiliating position in which he was introduced by Tom; and his reception by the Doctor and Mrs. Holtum certainly did not indicate anything like hostile feeling.

The lanyard was laughingly untied by the Doctor, who said, as he released and shook Yaspard's hands, "I am sure you can trust your prisoner with so much liberty, Tom."

"Of course," said Tom; "I didn't see the fun of roping him at all, but he would have it so, and the Mitchells said it looked more ship-shape."

"Besides," added Yaspard, "I wanted Uncle Brüs to know that I didn't come here of my own free will and free-handed."

"I quite understand," replied the Doctor, very much amused at the whole affair. "But now it is quite proper that your manacles be removed. You remember how the Black Prince treated his French prisoners? My Tom must not be less courteous to a Viking! Now, boys, let us hear how all this came about."

Nothing loth, Tom and Yaspard related their adventures, and very entertaining these were; but when they described the sending home of Thor, Dr. Holtum's face grew somewhat grave, and he seemed pondering within himself.

When Tom had conducted his prisoner to his cell—which was one of the best bedrooms—and returned to bid good-night, his father said, "Tom, lad, I am not altogether satisfied that yon corbie was a trustworthy messenger. Suppose he did not carry news of Yaspard to Moolapund?"

"Yaspard never doubted he would."

The Doctor shook his head. "If," he said, "by any chance they have not heard of the boy they will be very anxious about him. I think you must take a note from me to the fishing-station. Some of the boats will be leaving for the haaf even now, and as they run past Boden, I am sure one of them will put in there with my letter."

"Let me go with it, father!" Tom cried eagerly. "I am not a bit tired or sleepy; and it will be such fun. Do let me go!"

Permission was given, a note to Mr. Adiesen written by Dr. Holtum, and Tom despatched as envoy. He soon found a skipper willing to land him on Boden, and in the grey, quiet night, this most prosaic of the Lunda lads was started on a somewhat eerie journey. A great deal of time would have been lost if the haaf-boat had carried him into Boden voe, so Tom good-naturedly requested to be put ashore at the nearest point, determined to walk across the island to Moolapund. Tom had declared that he was neither tired nor sleepy, but he was both; and by the time he had walked over a mile of Boden heath he was fain to stop more than once and take a brief rest. Each time he sat down on the soft, fragrant verdure, he felt less inclined to get up. How it happened at last he never knew, but Tom sat down by an old planticrü,[1] and remained there; and there he was lying in blissful slumber when the sun was well up over the Heogue, and Gaun Neeven had come out for an early stroll. He always took his walks abroad when the rest of the Boden folk were in their beds, therefore it was believed that he seldom went out at all.

If a philosopher like Mr. Neeven, who had passed through many years of most exciting life, could be surprised, he was when, coming around the planticrü, he stumbled upon Tom Holtum, spread out at ease, and unconscious of his position.

The man stood stock still for some minutes, contemplating the prostrate figure, until a grim smile gradually spread over his melancholy countenance; then stooping, he touched Tom's face and said, "Wake up, lad, wake up!"

Tom's eyes were wide open in a moment, and he sat up and stared at the disturber of his repose.

"What are you doing here?" Mr. Neeven asked, in his usual stern tones, which did not help to clarify Tom's understanding of his own position. He stammered some very incoherent words, which were no explanation at all, and did not even attempt to get on his feet.

Mr. Neeven was not a patient man. "Get up," he said, "and come with me. I must know what you mean by skulking about my house in the night-time."

Tom rose slowly, and then discovered that he was in the near vicinity of Trullyabister.

"This is a pretty fix," thought he, as he followed Mr. Neeven. "I believe I'll bolt!"

But a moment's reflection showed him how futile any attempt at escape would be, so he silently proceeded in Mr. Neeven's wake, repenting him sorely for being so foolish as to fall asleep that night.

When they were in the dismal apartment where the recluse spent the greater part of his time poring over books and nursing his gloomy thoughts, he pointed to a chair, and taking one himself, said briefly—

"Now give a proper account of yourself."

Tom could be concise and to the point in speech as well as Mr. Neeven, and having recovered his usual sang-froid, he explained his appearance in Boden in few plain words.

It was the first Gaun Neeven had heard of his young relative turning Viking, and he was surprised to find a strange something within himself leap and stir warmly at the tale of Yaspard's adventures, even though told in Tom's unvarnished matter-of-fact style. Was it not a like "craze" which had rioted within his own blood when he was a boy, and had sent him out into the world to fight and jostle men, to win renown, and prove his manhood by risking life and limb in all kinds of mad adventure? Nothing had so moved that self-contained, moody man for years, and even obtuse Tom could see that his story had touched some hidden spring of feeling. The stern lines had relaxed, and there was a softer though more intense light in the man's eyes.

Taking advantage of what he would have styled "a melting mood," Tom begged to be allowed to carry his father's letter to its destination. "And after that," he said, "on the honour of a gentleman, I will come back to you, and you can make of me what you please."

"The letter shall go to Mr. Adiesen at a proper hour," replied Mr. Neeven. "He is asleep at present, and I happen to know he is not uneasy about his nephew. You had better lie down on this sofa and finish your own nap, while I finish my walk. Later I will tell you what I require you to do."

He walked out of the room, shutting the door with a key, and leaving Tom a veritable prisoner.

"He might have trusted me," muttered Tom; "but since he hasn't put me on my honour, I shall do my best to escape—— Gracious! what's that?"

The lad was very wide-awake, and not the least inclined to go to sleep again. His exclamation had been caused by a curious sharp barking noise, mingled with plaintive crying, which roused Tom's pity as well as astonishment. He ran to the window, fancying the sounds came from that side, and hoping to see something to explain what they meant. He was not disappointed. The window of the haunted room was not far from that of Mr. Neeven's sitting-room, and at that window Tom saw the same unearthly visage which had startled Yaspard and the Harrisons.

"Whe-e-ew!" whistled Tom, thrusting his fists far down his pockets, as was his wont when the solution of any difficulty penetrated the somewhat "thick skin" which enveloped his remarkably sound and shrewd understanding.

He stood some time staring thoughtfully at the creature, who stared back at him as no lady of modest demeanour ought to have done; but we must not forget that she was a captive, and looking for a deliverer, and therefore to be excused in part.

"Poor soul!" muttered Tom, as the baby's wails once more broke the beautiful silence of that smiling, sun-watched night-time. "It's a horrible shame. I wish I could let them out. It would serve the old boy right. But it's too risky a job for me to undertake by myself. Oh, well! when I get back to Lunda—if I'm not going to be shut up as she is—I'll get the Manse boys to help. Bet Harry Mitchell will devise a way of circumventing both Mr. Neeven and Mr. Adiesen."

Then Tom tried the window, hoping to make his exit by it, but found it was nailed down beyond his power to unfasten.

"Never heard of such a thing in Shetland before," growled Tom. "What's he afraid of here? One would think Boden was the abode of thieves or pirates at this rate. Anyway, there are plenty of books about."

He found an interesting book about the buccaneers of the Spanish Main, so, lying down on the sofa, he was soon lost in the volume, and forgot that he was in durance vile.

[1] Planticrü,—a circular enclosure.



When Mr. Neeven returned to his house the Laird of Boden was with him, and Tom was desired to hand over Dr. Holtum's letter, which he did with alacrity.

After perusing it carefully, Mr. Adiesen said, "And so you are the Doctor's son? You are not very like your father. He was a very handsome youth when he was your age."

Tom laughed, and there was that in his plain, honest face, which pleased both the gentlemen perhaps more than fine features would have done.

"I try to be like father in other ways," said he; "but my brother Svein is as like him as can be. You would like Svein. He is very clever as well as good-looking. People who can judge say so!"

That hearty brotherly speech added still more to the good impression Tom had made, and the two men studied him silently for a minute or two, "as they might some curious starfish," Tom remarked later, when recounting all that took place.

"You are to come with me now," said Mr. Adiesen at last. "I dare say you will be glad of some breakfast. Come along, and we will settle what is to be done about Yaspard afterwards."

They went off to Moolapund, leaving Mr. Neeven alone; and very much alone he felt himself to be. It was strange, passing strange, thought he, that the "chatter" of a very ordinary boy should have caused such a curious revolution within him. What did it mean? Had he not lived his life of action? had he not tasted the fruit of knowledge until it had palled on his appetite? Had he not his books for company—books, which could not irritate, and contradict, and bother, as human beings are prone to do?

"A boy is a happy creature!" Gaun Neeven said to himself with a sigh, as he picked up the book Tom had been reading; "a happy sort of animal on the whole. I could wish myself a boy once more!"

Meanwhile Tom Holtum was being introduced at Moolapund, where he was very soon at his ease, and chatting away with his wonted fearless candour, which Harry had been heard to call "impudence and vanity rolled up in whale's blubber."

His host was in wonderfully good humour, and contrived to get a good deal of information regarding life in Lunda out of Tom, without allowing it to appear that he was at all interested in the people of that isle.

"I suppose," he said by-and-by, "that I must find a way of sending you back; and there is that boy Winwick has to go also. But Yaspard's misadventure must teach us a lesson. You will have to give me your word that those who convey you to Lunda shall not be intercepted in the performance of a neighbourly courtesy as he was."

"Oh, sir!" Tom cried hotly; "why, we never looked at it like that, nor did Yaspard. It was agreed that we should try and nab each other anywhere and anyhow outside of our own voes. If you had asked Fred Garson to safeguard the Viking, we would not have meddled with him."

"And poor brodhor," Signy exclaimed, "would not have been enjoying himself at Collaster!"

"I think," said Uncle Brüs suddenly, "that Yaspard has met Vikings as mad as himself. Now, Master Tom, can you tell how he is going to recover his liberty and his boat 'captured on the high seas,' eh?"

"I thought I'd talk to his followers—as he calls those Harrison boys—and they may help him. Of course they are the proper persons to negotiate about his ransom," and Tom grinned.

Signy volunteered to go with him to Noostigard; so the ponies were saddled, and off the couple set.

Such a claver as there was, to be sure, when Tom and the Harrisons met! The brothers were for seizing Tom in place of Yaspard; and nothing but Signy's vehement protestations that he was under a flag of truce, so to speak, prevented their carrying out some desperate measure of the sort. They wouldn't see the difference between Yaspard caught at sea after discharging a hospitable duty, and Tom a messenger of peace.

"Weel," said Lowrie at last, "will ye tak' one o' us in his place, then?"

"No, we won't—not a dozen of you!" answered Tom.

"Oh, boys!" Signy exclaimed then, "Yaspard promised at the very first that I should have a share in his Viking-ploy. It would be just lovely if you would take me with you, to beg for his freedom. You know that's how the ladies used to do for their knights."

"When they happened to be their fathers or brothers," said Tom; "and then the girls were married to the knights' enemies, and they all lived happily ever after."

"I'm not going to marry you EVER, so that isn't to be the way this time," retorted the little lady, with immense spirit.

"Very well," he answered calmly, "then it will be some other fellow. But upon my word I think it would be a very jolly plan to take you with us; only—will your uncle permit it?"

"I'll try and coax him. He is really dear and good, if you only would believe it; and I don't think that he is going to be so camsterie[1] about Lunda folk now that he has seen Mr. Garson. I just think Mr. Garson is splendid. He makes me think of Prince Charlie and Sir Philip Sidney. He looks so like a real hero, does he not?"

"Fred is to be the other fellow ten years hence," thought Tom, but he wisely held his tongue.

Uncle Brüs was not so very difficult to persuade as Signy had imagined. Perhaps, if she had seen Dr. Holtum's letter, she would have found a reason for his unexpected complacence; but Signy was too glad at the permission given to waste thoughts on "reasons why." She would hardly wait to carry out Aunt Osla's request that her best frock must be worn on such an important occasion, and nothing short of Mam Kirsty's tears could have reconciled her to wasting time in brushing out her abundant hair into a profusion of curls, and otherwise making herself "a credit tae them 'at aws (owns) her."

But when she was released from those loving feminine hands and went down to the little quay with Uncle Brüs to join the boys, Tom Holtum thought he had never seen a sweeter vision of a ladye faire than she appeared in her cream-white frock and navy-blue cloak and hat, her shining hair hanging about the lovely little face, and her eyes shining like stars on a frosty night.

"You'll never need to beg one word," he declared; "you will break the Viking's chains with the glint of your eyes. He was considered my booty, and I am ready this moment to give him up to you without a single condition. So there!"

"Thank you, but I don't want my knight for nothing," Signy replied, with a saucy toss of the head, as she stepped into the boat. Then turning to her uncle, she said, "Good-bye, dear uncle; we—Yaspard and I—will be back soon."

"Not to-night, sir, if you please," Tom cried eagerly; "we shall want to keep her a little while;" and the Laird answered, "It shall be as Dr. Holtum may think best. Take care of her, boys."

As the boat rowed away he looked fondly after the child, and thought that never did a fairer maid than his darling Signy go on a mission of love.

As the Boden boat went sliding along the coast of Lunda, purposing to bring up at Collaster, Tom saw their young laird riding over the hill, and as the distance was not great, the lad stood up and waved and yelled to attract Fred's notice. He was successful, and the horseman came rapidly to the beach, while the boat drew close in-shore.

A few words sufficed to explain matters, for Fred had seen Dr. Holtum that morning, and knew of Tom's expedition.

"And you have been allowed to bring the little lady to Lunda?" Fred said. "I think you had better land her here, for there is a good deal of rough water round the Head of Collaster to-day, and she may get some spray. Will you let me carry you on Arab to the Doctor's house, Signy?"

"I think that would be nice," she answered; and Tom said, "You had better go with Fred."

The boat was brought along some crags, and Tom, jumping out, lifted Signy on shore; then, resuming his place, shoved off again, saying as he waved them good-bye, "You will be there before us, I suppose, but we will not be long behind you; so look alive, if you don't want to be beat."

Fred had dismounted, and he and Signy stood together watching the boat get on her course again.

Then Fred said, laughing, "I shall feel like some robber chief carrying off a fair prize when I ride away with you! You will not be afraid to trust me and Arab, I hope?"

"No! of course I can trust you," was Signy's ready answer.

He sprang into his saddle, and then with the aid of his hand and stirrup Signy climbed lightly to the place before him, and settled herself there composedly.

"This is how I used to have delightful rides with Uncle Brüs," she said; "but he could not hold me so firmly as you do, and once his pony stumbled and I had a fall, and he never would let me up beside him again."

"When my sister was a little girl like you, she was never so happy as when our father took her up like this; and sometimes he would ride miles and miles with her. Don't you like Arab's step? I always think there never was a horse like him. He was a present to me on my birthday—the last gift of my dear father."

"How you must love him! He goes as easy as a sail-boat on a smooth sea."

And then Arab was put at a gallop, to Signy's delight. She was perfectly safe (and felt herself to be so) with that strong arm around her, and that firm hand holding the reins. She enjoyed that ride immensely, and remembered the pleasure of it for a long time; but Fred remembered it all his life long, because from that moment he could date a new colour in his life, a kind of thought and feeling which were novel in his experience.

[1] Headstrong and cross-grained.



A large party were stationed on the lawn at Collaster when Fred rode up. His sister and Mrs. Mitchell had come to plan a picnic in honour of Yaspard, and the Manse boys were of course "to the fore" on such an occasion. The Holtum girls, with the Doctor, his wife, and the Viking, were all there. If it had been pre-arranged it could not have been managed better.

"It's like a bit out of a book," Signy said in a whisper, as Arab pranced up to the door, and everybody there struck an attitude (unconsciously) with quite dramatic effect.

Yaspard was the first to speak and act.

"Signy! have you come from Boden on a witch's broomstick? Where did you find her, Mr. Garson?" he said, as he lifted his little sister from the saddle.

"I've come to ransom you, brodhor," said she; and then she was given up to the ladies to be petted and welcomed with the greatest tenderness, while Fred explained; and the appearance of the boat sent Yaspard and the Mitchell boys racing off to the quay.

It had been arranged that the picnic should consist of an excursion up the gill (ravine) near the Ha' at Blaesound, and a strawberry tea in the Ha' garden. Fred and his mother were very anxious to draw Yaspard within the circle of their best affections, but they knew they must be careful not to touch Mr. Adiesen's weak points in extending the hand of friendship to his nephew. He would, as likely as not, resent their well-meant intentions if they invited the boy to their house, but a picnic under Dr. Holtum's auspices to the neighbourhood of the Ha' was different.

Any of us who remember the recorded adventures of the Lads of Lunda and the Yarl of Burra Isle, will know with what perfect success entertainments of the sort were conducted by the Garsons or any of their friends. There seldom had been a day more happily spent by those young folks than that day, and each and all combined to make it a period of unclouded bliss to Yaspard and Signy.

They revelled in the society of so many charming girls and fine boys, and thought that life could need nothing more than the pleasure such companionship afforded. How they enjoyed the scramble up the gill, the fun bubbling up constantly, the manner in which the fathers and mothers shared in the children's play; the running and singing and laughter; the dainty meal of cake and chicken and strawberries with rich cream, dispensed—after a very un-English but wholly satisfactory manner—in heaped platefuls! The scent of flowers, the sunshine and universal hilarity, cast a spell over Signy, and she sat on the garden turf eating her strawberries without speaking for some time, but radiant with happiness.

"Are you dreaming, or composing an ode, little lady?" Fred asked her, after having watched the soft play of her expressive features for some minutes.

"I was—thinking, and I never enjoyed anything so much before; but"—and she looked up wistfully—"I was wishing too that there had never been any feud, and that Uncle Brüs could see for himself how good you all are. I wish he could!"

"I hope he will before long. I think, now the ice is broken, that it will all come right, little one."

I ought to have mentioned before that the Harrison boys had gone with Gloy to see his mother, and had been directed to return in their own boat to Boden before night; so when the Holtums, with their guest and the Viking, returned to Collaster at dayset, they were just in time to see James Harrison's boat disappear round the Head of Collaster.

"I am so glad," said Yaspard, "that uncle gave you leave to come and to stay overnight, Mootie."

"I wish she might remain some days," said Mrs. Holtum; but the Doctor, understanding best the kind of man Mr. Adiesen was, remarked, "That will be next time. We must not take more than his lairdship has conceded. By-and-by we may venture to stretch a point with him."

"What has been settled about the captive Viking?" Harry Mitchell then asked. "I am sorry to remind you, Yaspard, in such an abrupt manner of your precarious position; but we must not forget that we have to make capital of you."

"I offered him free, gratis, and for nothing to this high and haughty miss; but she tossed her curls and declined my civility," answered Tom.

"There would be no fun in that," Yaspard said in an aside; and Signy remarked, "Brodhor is worth a great deal to me, and he ought to be worth a lot to his captors. Just put a price on him that I am able to pay, and you shall have it."

"Bravo!" shouted the boys in chorus.

"Do you then absolutely refuse my princely offer?" Tom asked her, and the little girl replied boldly—

"Yes. I'd be ashamed to take him for nothing."

"The lads of Lunda," answered he loftily, "don't make bargains with ladies. If you won't take my offer you're 'out of it,' miss! Now, Sir Viking, let me tell you under what condition I will set you free. You shall give me your royal word—on the faith of a Viking—that you will give me your assistance in a deed of high emprise which I have vowed to perform."

"Why, Harry," exclaimed Bill, "you could not have said that in a more booky way yourself!"

"I haven't got another word of the sort in my vocabulary, so must return to my usual style, gentlemen," said Tom. "The long and the short of it is, when I was a prisoner at Trullyabister, I discovered that I was not the only poor wretch whom the ogre had nabbed. There are others——"

"Oh, goloptious!" shouted Yaspard, interrupting Tom without the least ceremony. "You have found out the very thing I meant to tell you. I meant to ask you fellows to help me."

"Then it would seem," said Dr. Holtum, smiling—for he had had a private talk with Tom, and had come to a conclusion of his own—"that Yaspard's 'knightly quest' and Tom's 'deed of high emprise' are one and the same. You have my approval, boys; only let me warn you to be very wary, for if you do not succeed you will have no support from any one, and may find yourselves in an awkward fix."

"Doctor!" Harry exclaimed, "did the lads of Lunda ever fail to carry out their schemes, or squirm out of the ugliest fix in creation?"

"I must own," laughed the Doctor, "that collectively you have a wonderful faculty for emerging with eclat from every adventure; but I can't say as much for you individually."

"One for you, Tom," whispered Bill.

"And one for yourself," retorted Tom.

Meantime Signy had crept into Yaspard's arms, and was coaxing him to tell her the secret; but he put her off with a promise of telling it when they were on the way home. "And, Mootie," he added thoughtfully, "I believe we ought not to stay here very long to-morrow, just that Uncle Brüs may see that we aren't anxious to take the greatest advantage of his permission. Besides, we don't want him to feel that we like being away from Boden so awfully much."

She squeezed his hand. She understood him perfectly, and Yaspard, laughing into her upraised eyes, said aloud, "Here is a little girl who wouldn't contradict me for worlds, and is agreed with me in stating that the Osprey must be on wing to-morrow morning."

But when to-morrow morning came there had been a breeze in the night which had raised the sea a bit, and Dr. Holtum would not permit them to leave until it had subsided, notwithstanding the Viking's declaration that he never minded such a small thing as that.

"My boat and I go out in rough weather," he declared; "and even Signy would laugh at the idea of calling this a 'rough morning!'"

The Doctor was firm, however, and the morning slipped happily away in the pleasant companionship of so many new and agreeable friends.

It was arranged that the Lunda boys were to run across to Boden on the evening of the following day, to carry out the mysterious plans of Tom and Yaspard. They were to wait at the geo for Yaspard and his chums, and the mighty deed was to be done at the witching hour of night. So they planned, and put aside with unwonted impatience the Doctor's declaration that there was going to be unsettled weather, and that they must not count upon being able to carry out their scheme in such an expeditious way.

"I don't know what has come to father," Tom muttered; "he is quite scarey: he proposes that some of us go in the boat with you, Yaspard; or that we escort you in our own boat!"

The Viking's face flushed hotly, for he knew himself to be an expert "seaman," and it was exasperating that anybody should be afraid for him; but Harry Mitchell soothed his wounded pride by saying, "I expect the Doctor is thinking of Signy. He is always so careful that girls shall not be frightened—and she might be, you know, if she saw a big wave alongside, and no one with her but you."

"Signy wouldn't be afraid if she were left floating in mid-ocean on a plank with me," Signy's brother made answer.

So the Laulie did not go farther than the Head of Collaster, but took the way to Westervoe when the Osprey set her face to Boden.

There was not much wind, but a long and gentle swell, and the little boat went dancing over the waves in a manner wholly delightful to the brother and sister.

"This is delicious, brodhor," said Signy, "and we have had a splendid time; but it is nice to be going home. Now tell me about your quest."



"You remember, Mootie, about the big row concerning Havnholme—I mean the last disturbance which made Fred Garson write to uncle?"

"I know a little about it. Uncle killed a number of birds, and a poor seal?"

"That wasn't quite how things went, though we heard that was it. We were told correctly enough about the birds; and I must say I think Uncle Brüs thinks too much of science and specimens, and too little of lives. But we did not hear the right way about the seal I have heard something about it from Fred, and I don't wonder he was so indignant. It seems they had a tame seal at the Ha'. It had been given to Miss Garson when it was very young. Its mother had been killed by some Cockney tourists, and the Laird of Lunda took the little seal home. It was a great pet, and used to go and fish for itself in Blaesound, but would always come home when tired or called upon."

"Just as Loki does," said Signy.

"Yes; and they were all very fond of it. But after the Laird died, his people were a good deal away from the Ha', and the pets were neglected—servants are so stupid in that way—and so it happened that the seal was out in Blaesound one day, and didn't come back as usual. Fred says he heard it had become shy, and a bit wild, through not being petted, and perhaps it went off of its free will; but he believes it lost its way among the skerries, and would have returned if it had known how, or if any one had had the sense to go and look for it as soon as it was missed. Anyway, it was lost. When the family came home it was looked for everywhere, and Fred promised a large reward to any one who should bring it back; but all in vain. Sometimes fishermen would come and tell how they had seen a sealkie on a skerry that was not a bit frightened when they came near, but dropped into the water when they tried to catch it. Others said that a sealkie had followed their boat, and had looked at them as if it wanted to be friends; and Fred was sure that it must be Trullya, for no wild seal acts like that. But though he went to the places where these men had seen the seal, he never saw it. Then it happened that the Manse boys, passing Havnholme one day, saw a seal creeping up to the old skeö; and they were quite sure that it was the lost Trullya, for wild seals don't go up on land like that. Moreover, the seal kept looking around, and never minding a boat not far off, and the boys were as convinced that it was the Ha' pet as I am sure you are mine. They were going to land at once and capture it, when Uncle Brüs, with Harrison and fule-Tammy, came along in this boat, and Uncle ordered the Manse boys to get along. There was a row, for the boys stuck to it, and said they would land, for the island was Fred's, and the seal belonged to him as well. Of course you know how uncle would rampage at that. He was so angry he threatened to shoot them if they came one bit nearer; and they declared afterwards that they were sure he would have done it. While the row was going on the seal disappeared, and the boys, believing it had dropped into the sea and that there was no hope of securing it, decided to quit. But as they sailed away and uncle's boat landed, they saw the poor sealkie's head peep round the skeö; then there were shots fired, and fule-Tammy shouted at the pitch of his voice, 'Ye've got him, sir, got him! dead as a door-nail!' The Mitchells were too disgusted to wait for anything more. They sailed home and told Fred."

"It was horrible, Yaspard—very horrible. How could uncle be so cruel to a poor sealkie, and yet be so kind to me?"

Yaspard laughed. "There is a difference between you and Trullya, Mootie! But now comes the nice bit of my story. The seal wasn't killed at all! Fule-Tammy told me all about it. He said it had a young one with it, and they had been spending the night in the skeö. Uncle does not often miss his mark, but he had missed when he shot at the seal. Perhaps he missed on purpose, only shot to aggravate the Manse boys. When he got to the skeö the creature was there, having hastened back to her little one, and they were easily captured. Uncle told Harrison that he must not let even his boys know that the seals had been taken alive."

Signy could keep silence no longer, but clapped her hands delightedly and cried, "It's as good as a fairy story, brodhor. Oh, I am glad, for of course they are still alive; uncle would never kill them then."

"Yes, they are alive, and they are in the haunted room at Trullyabister. They were smuggled there so that even I should not know; but Tammy can't keep a secret, and he told me one day that Mr. Neeven had charge of the seal and her baby. I did not dream they were in the haunted room; but when the Harrison boys and I were on the prowl the other night I found it out; and then I determined I would restore the sealkie to Fred Garson. I told the Harrisons there were a mother and child imprisoned at Trullyabister, and that we must free them from thraldom."

"And Tom Holtum has found it out too; and that is your quest? How fine!"

"It is prime, Signy, prime! We are not going to tell the Garsons a word about it till we restore their lost pet, for we are all convinced it is their seal."

"But won't uncle be dreadfully angry if you interfere? Won't he stop all your Vikinging and our meeting——"

"If," Yaspard interrupted, "I were fool enough to show my hand in the matter. No, no, Mootie, you don't understand a bit. We shall manage it so cleverly that uncle and Mr. Neeven will take for granted the sealkie escaped of herself. You see, Uncle Brüs makes laws for himself that are not proper, so he can't grumble if they don't work to his satisfaction at all times."

"I wish, though, that we could just beg for the seal, and settle it nicely," said Signy.

"Not a bit of good; that would make more fuss still, and unsettle everything, and—I'd lose my fun."

The Osprey was not far from Yelholme by that time, and Yaspard, pointing to the little isle, said, "It was that old rock with the green nightcap that caused my capture."

"It's a pretty peerie holme," Signy remarked. "I like the little morsel of green turf on top. I wonder how it ever manages to grow there, for the skerry must be swept by the sea more often than not."

"There's something white on it," Yaspard exclaimed, "something white and moving. Why, goodness me!" and he stood up in great excitement, "it is awfully like a person."

He moved his helm so as to bring the boat nearer Yelholme than his course; and very soon they discovered that the "something white" was really a human being.

"It's a man; and he must be hurt, for he is lying on his side waving to us. He would stand up if he could," Yaspard cried.

"Oh, poor creature! We must save him," said Signy.

"It will not be very easy to reach the holme this afternoon," Yaspard remarked thoughtfully. "There's a heavy under-tow there."

"But we can't go away and leave him, brodhor. Just look at him. Now he tries to raise himself. It is dreadful."

"I wish the Manse boat had come along after all;" and Yaspard scanned the sea, hoping some boat might be in sight; but there was nothing moving on the water save the wild birds and his own skiff. After a moment's silence he said, "We'll make a try, Signy; and if we don't succeed, we'll tell him we are going to bring more efficient help."

With skill and caution Yaspard brought his boat alongside of the skerry. The castaway was lying on the turf, battered and helpless. He could only raise his hands, and watch the boy's movements with intense emotion; and it was evident he could not help in his own rescue very much.

"I shall have to land," said Yaspard, "and lug him into the boat somehow."

He had, of course, dropped the sail, and the boat being on the lee side of the rock, was easily attached to it, but swung about considerably, as there was rather more than usual under-tow around the holme, occasioned by the state of the tide—a circumstance which our young hero had not sufficiently considered.

"I really don't believe we can get him aboard if he has broken his bones, as seems the case," the lad remarked, as he jumped upon the skerry and fastened the boat by the end of a rope to the rocks.

"I am giving her a good length," he said, "so that she can ride free as the water falls. Do you think you can keep her from scraping with the boat-hook, Signy?"

She had often performed a similar duty, though not with so much motion of the sea, and she replied that she would try on the present occasion.

Having settled these points, Yaspard turned to the unfortunate man lying a few yards from the water's edge. "Are you much hurt?" was the first question put to him.

"I'm half killed," was the feebly uttered reply; and in truth he looked three-fourths killed. One leg was broken, and both arms were much cut and bruised. He had scarcely any clothing on, and was altogether a most pitiable object.

But Yaspard wasn't going to waste time in talk. "Can you get to the boat with my help, do you think?" he asked, stooping to assist the man to rise. But as he attempted to do so the pain overcame him, and he sank back swooning.

"Poor soul!" muttered Yaspard; "I can't think what to do with him," and then he pulled off his jacket, laid it gently over the unfortunate castaway, and tried to revive him by rubbing his chest.

Signy watched her brother's movements with the most eager interest, and was so engrossed that she scarcely attended to her duty of keeping the boat from bumping against the rocks. Although her negligence was not the cause of what happened to the boat, if she had been on the alert she might have given the alarm in time.

As the Osprey rose and fell with the waves, the rope became chafed on sharp edges of rock, and parted. The boat swung adrift, and was carried on a long sweep of the undertow some yards from the skerry; but the length of rope Yaspard had allowed prevented Signy from wondering. It was only when she felt the boat dip unchecked over a second long wave that she glanced at the rope, and saw its end trailing in the water.

She uttered a startled cry, and Yaspard, looking around, saw with horror what had taken place.

"Oh, Signy! fling me a rope! No, sit still; be still, dear, or you'll be over! Oh, my Signy!"

She had half risen from her seat as he sprang to the water's edge and called to her; but next moment she cowered down in terror, for the light boat rocked as if it must capsize, then went whirling on the tideway round the end of the skerry.

Yaspard did not utter a sound after those first few terror-freighted words. He could only stand motionless and dumb, gazing after the boat, while Signy, kneeling, stretched out her poor little hands and cried, "Brodhor! brodhor!"

A groan from the man, for whom Yaspard had inadvertently risked and lost so much, roused the boy from his stupor of despair; and then he broke into bitter cries, which ere long explained to his companion their terrible plight; while farther and farther drifted the Osprey, until even her taper mast could not be distinguished amid the waste of heaving billows.

And then, in the moment of supreme agony, Yaspard did what Signy had been doing all the time. He flung himself on his knees and lifted up his heart to God.



The positions of the two on Yelholme were reversed, and it became the man's part to speak words of comfort.

"There are plenty of boats about—must be in these parts, my lad," he said, "and some one will see your skiff. Don't lose courage about the little one. I'm as vexed as can be that this should have happened for me. I'd rather have died straight away."

The generous heart of Yaspard Adiesen was stirred from its bitterness of grief by such words, and after a time he allowed himself to hope that Signy might be rescued after all. Of his own position he thought not at all, until considering that of his companion. Then he remembered that there were some scraps of biscuit in his jacket pocket—kept there for his pets—and pulling these out he said, "I wonder if these will be of any use till some boat picks us up. I dare say you need food?"

The biscuit was very welcome; but the jacket had been of still more service in restoring a degree of warmth to the chilled and sorely injured body, and Yaspard would not listen to the man's remonstrance as he tucked the coat closer around him.

"I am not in the least cold, and don't need a jacket in such sunny weather," said Yaspard; "but I hope some of the haaf-boats may come this way soon, for you ought to be in the doctor's hands. Now I wonder if I can do anything in the way of a bandage?"

It was wonderful how the sight of those wounds had restored the lad's equanimity, and drawn his distracted mind from thoughts of the forlorn child tossing amid the waves. But that was the way God answered his prayers at first; and it is a way God often uses for helping us to bear some overwhelming calamity. The suffering of another is presented before us, and our better nature, our least selfish part, is evoked in a way that makes us dwell less upon our own trial. Yaspard's handkerchief and necktie, torn into strips, helped wonderfully to bind up some of the wounds, although the boy's hands were inexperienced at such work, and he sickened over the job.

When that was done there was nothing more to do but exercise patience, and scan the seas in hope of sighting a vessel of some sort. While they so waited, and tried to cheer each other's flagging courage, Yaspard asked, "Did you fall from a ship; or how was it you came to be tossed up here?"

The answer was startling. "You have some cursed bad men in those Shetland Isles," said the sailor, with all the energy he could command. "Hanging is too good for wreckers; they should be roasted at the false fires they light for poor seafaring men's destruction."

Yaspard stared his astonishment. "I never heard the like!" he ejaculated. "Wreckers! Why, there isn't one left in Shetland. Not one, I am sure. What do you mean?"

"I mean that the stout schooner I sailed in would be in a safe harbour now instead of drifting as spindle-wood among those skerries if there were no wreckers on your islands, my lad!"

"There must be some mistake. Do tell me what happened," was all Yaspard could say. And then he heard the story.

The schooner Norna was caught in a tempest crossing the North Sea, and sustained considerable damage—so much that it was deemed advisable to seek harbour for repairs. She was making for Bressa Sound when a slight fog came down which compelled the skipper to defer attempting to thread a way among those rock-bound isles till the atmosphere was clearer. While beating about, not quite sure of their exact locality, a bright light was observed which was believed to be lit for their guidance. There was no other reason why a great blaze should appear in the middle of the night on a lonely height, which loomed fitfully through the mist and gloom, and was evidently the crest of some hill. No doubt a safe harbour lay in that neighbourhood, and the Norna was confidently put on another course—one which it was believed led her within the safe arms of a sheltering fiord. On the one hand could be dimly discerned a low irregular coast, on the other rose the gaunt shadowy outline of majestic crags.

It was no friendly voe the hapless schooner had come into, but the dangerous sound, studded with stacks and holmes, which flow between Lunda and Boden.

Guided by that treacherous beacon, the Norna sailed slowly on and crashed on a sunken rock not far from the cliffs of Trullyabister.

The man who told the story had gone aloft to take in sail, when it was discovered that the vessel was among breakers; and when she struck he was dashed from the rigging. He could give no account of what further happened, beyond remembering that he was clinging at one time to a spar, and saw his ship backing (as he described it) into deep ocean.

"I think it must have happened not far from here," he said; and Yaspard, looking towards Boden, over which the soft tints of twilight were beginning to blend with mists from the surrounding seas, replied—

"Yes; it must have been the Easting Ban upon which she struck—that's a sunken rock quite near this holme. But I can't think what light it was you saw. You see the land on Lunda is very low along the sound, and there are only a very few people living on my island—that is Boden there; the light couldn't have been there."

The sailor raised himself on an elbow and looked at the cliffs of Boden, and the sound with its many isolated and barbarous rocks; then he said—

"The fire blazed from beside that cone. I recognise its shape," and he pointed to the Heogue towering steeply over Trullyabister and its range of mighty cliffs.

Yaspard shook his head.

"It couldn't be," he said positively; and then his thoughts once more became filled by the image of his little sister all alone in the Osprey drifting out to sea as the evening fell, and he could not take further interest in the Norna's fate. He never even asked if it was likely that any others had escaped the fate of their ship. Signy, in her holiday attire, with her bright face blanched with fear, her hands stretched to him, her small slight form bent in the attitude of prayer;—Signy floating away, away, and alone! It was terrible.

He rose up from his place beside the sailor, and going to the other side of the holme, he again knelt down and "wrestled in prayer" for his darling. Never once did he think of his own serious position, beyond desiring fervently that help might come in time to enable him to go in search of his sister with some hope of finding her.

But the twilight came slowly and softly down, and some sea-fowl who were wont to nest on Yelholme circled around it, clamouring to find their night abode invaded, but no welcome boat appeared.

The sailor gradually fell into an exhausted sleep, which looked so like death that Yaspard's heart sank with a new fear, and he scarcely dared bend over the still, prostrate figure lest he should find that fear realised. By-and-by the mists drew nearer, wrapping the holme in their filmy veil; then the sea-birds, emboldened by the motionless silence of the castaways, dropped upon the crags, and folded their wings for the night. Around the lonely islet thundered the ocean, whose waves rocked never-endingly, until Yaspard, gazing fixedly on them, felt as though the holme itself were some tremulous cradle swinging with the rhythmical ebb and flow of those majestic billows.

His brain seemed on fire, however, and would not be lulled to sleep by the influence of night and the anthem of ocean. The poor lad suffered such torment of soul as we can scarcely imagine; to the young, compulsory inaction during mental pain is almost unendurable, and sometimes Yaspard felt that to fling himself into the water, to struggle there and drown, would be better than sitting on the holme idle, helpless, picturing Signy's fate.

He gave up at last gazing on the sea, which seemed to mock his hopes and fears with its monotonous roll and roar, and fixed his eyes on the dim outline of the Heogue, which his sister had named "Boden's purple crown;" and he wondered if Signy could see the dear old hill from her place amid the waves. He would not think that the Osprey had capsized or broken on some crag, but continued to picture the child in the boat as he had last seen her.

While Yaspard sat there straining his eyes upon the hill-cap, he fancied he saw a flicker of red light on its side. For a moment he believed his sight had deceived him, and he rubbed his lashes and looked again. There it was again, a more distinct flicker than at first; then it grew brighter and steadier, and presently flashed up into a merry blaze which sent its ruddy life far over the sea.

Yaspard stood up wondering and trembling, till in a moment the truth flashed into his mind, and he sat down again dumfoundered, and saying within himself, "That explains the whole affair! Yes. It's fule-Tammy without question. A pretty fix he has made for himself!"

Then Yaspard thought of waking the sailor to see the false light; but on second thoughts he muttered, "What's the use? If I have to speak, and am ever in another place than this, I'll do it. But there isn't any use in telling upon that born fool just now. Well! I'm glad he is a fool. I could not bear this fellow to accuse us of having wreckers in Shetland—though there have been plenty. But so there were in other places when folk were like savages."

He watched fule-Tammy's fire burn up and blaze steadily, then wane and die out; and when every spark was extinguished there came over the eastern sky a faint blush heralding the dawn of day.

The brief dream of night was over, and Yaspard, sighing wearily, murmured, "If some boat could but find Signy it would not matter so much about us—about me, I mean. I deserve my fate. I ought not to have left her in the boat alone for any earthly consideration. And yet—it seemed the right thing to do."



Shortly before Yaspard and Signy left Collaster on that unfortunate expedition, the young Laird of Lunda was called from the Ha' to interview some shipwrecked men who had been found by a haaf-boat on one of the sound skerries.

Arab soon carried Fred to the extreme point of his island, where the men were hospitably lodged by some fisher folk. Great was his wrath and astonishment on being told the story of their misadventure, which seemed incredible from one point, and yet was the only explanation admissible, considering that when the accident took place the weather was not rough, and the vessel still under management, if the skipper was telling truth.

Fred put the men through a searching course of cross-questioning, but could not discover any flaw in their statement regarding the large fire lit on the hill; and he was obliged to admit that there must have been a signal there as described.

After seeing that the men had every comfort, he went off to consult the minister and Doctor Holtum as to what must be done. The sailors were wrathful (as was not wonderful) and vowing vengeance. The fisher folk were puzzled, and affirmed that there must have been some supernatural agency at work. Fred felt sure the matter would have to be sifted, and that upon himself and Doctor Holtum (the only magistrate in Lunda since Mr. Garson's death) would devolve the duty of instituting inquiries in Boden.

"It will be a very awkward job," Fred said, when retailing what had taken place to Dr. Holtum. "It will certainly put an end to all chance of peace with Mr. Adiesen, for he is sure to resent such a charge and such a suspicion with the utmost bitterness."

"There is no one living on Boden but what one might call his own household, for the Harrisons are just like home servants; therefore—as you say—he will resent this as a personal matter."

"There is that strange man Neeven," said Fred thoughtfully. "I have heard very curious tales of him. He does not seem to be quite sane, if one may credit all that is reported of his ways. It is possible that he may have lit that fire for some eccentric purpose quite different from that which those men imagine."

"You have not unlikely hit upon the truth, Fred," said the Doctor; "but that makes our task no easier."

"If that Viking-boy had not been here last night, I should have been convinced it was some prank of his. Well for him that we can prove an alibi for him! Dear-a-me, Doctor, what a business this will be! I am sure being Laird of Lunda isn't all sugar and spice."

"It has happened most unfortunately at this time, just when those young people were bringing the old man round in such a nice way. Well, well, Fred! we must believe there is some good purpose in even such a 'kettle of fish' as this."

After various consultations among the wise-heads, it was agreed that Dr. Holtum and Fred, with the captain and mate of the Norna, should go over to Boden next day and interview Mr. Adiesen. I need not describe what they meant to say, or how they hoped to mollify the irascible old man, for their intention was never carried out. In crossing the sound they spied Yaspard gesticulating wildly from the crest of Yelholme.

"Some of your men on the holme, captain?" the Doctor said, as soon as they caught sight of the figure.

"I only lost one, and that may be him," was the answer; "but he fell from the rigging, and must have been awfully mashed. Indeed, I never dreamt he could be alive; and I can hardly believe he would be able to dance about in that fashion."

Yaspard was moving restlessly about, afraid that if he stood still he might not be noticed. As the boat approached nearer Fred remarked, "That is a mere lad, but there is some one else lying on the skerry."

Dr. Holtum had very keen vision, and very soon he said in agitated tones, "Fred, lad, it is very like the boy Yaspard; and I don't see any boat about."

"It certainly is Yaspard, with no jacket on, and a man beside him. Whatever can have happened?"

The boat went straight for Yelholme, and as she reached it the Doctor called out, "My dear boy, what has happened to you?"

Yaspard could not speak, but his haggard, weary appearance, as well as the helpless form beside him, told a tale of sufficient misery.

"That's my bo's'n," said the captain, as soon as he saw the man's face. Then the Doctor and Fred scrambled on shore, and while the former—with the instinct of his profession—made for the wounded man first, Fred turned to Yaspard (foreboding the truth) and asked, "Your little sister?"

"I have lost her. She has gone with the boat," came in bursting sobs from the poor boy, who was by that time so completely exhausted and unmanned that Fred could only take him in his arms and try to comfort him as one might a little child.

A brief explanation made the whole matter plain to our friends of Lunda, but it took some time to show the Norna's captain how it stood. He had been nursing much wrath against the inhabitants of Boden, and would scarcely pay sufficient heed to what Fred said. But his boatswain's account of the matter satisfied him, and he was as willing as any one of the party to postpone the disagreeable visit to Boden, and return to Collaster with as much expedition as possible.

Under the Doctor's skilful directions the injured man was removed to the boat, which was soon being rowed by six pairs of strong arms back to Lunda; and while so proceeding, Fred contrived to revive Yaspard's hopes regarding Signy.

It was impossible, he said, that the boat could go far out to sea, for the many cross-currents would prevent her. Nor was it likely that she could upset, unless she came in contact with the rocks. It was even possible that little Signy, so intelligent and brave, might think of using the helm to guide herself. She was quite familiar with the working of a boat, and after the first panic was over might find some way of serving herself.

Thus Fred talked, and Yaspard's naturally sanguine nature caught inspiration from his words. He was even ready to smile, and say, "Yes, the Laulie's crew will find her if any can," when Fred spoke of the young Mitchells and their boat, no doubt available at that time.

Unfortunately the Laulie was not available, for those restless boys had determined on a fishing expedition to the Ootskerries preparatory to their Viking-raid on Trullyabister, and had gone off early that morning. However, there were many other, if less interested and less efficient, crews in Lunda ready to do the young Laird's bidding; and not long after his return a number of boats were leaving the island to scour its neighbouring seas in search of the lost child.

Yaspard could scarcely be constrained from embarking in the first available boat, and was only deterred by Fred's assurance that he had a plan in his head which was only workable by themselves twain.

"When you have fed and rested we will set about it; and while you are obeying the Doctor by lying down on that sofa, I will go home and tell my mother what has happened, and what I purpose doing."

In the afternoon—just twenty-four hours after the Osprey had sailed from the voe of Collaster with a happy brother and sister aboard of her—Fred and Yaspard put off in a small boat, very like our Viking's bark in size and build. They sailed straight for Yelholme. By that time Fred explained what his plan was, and Yaspard became much excited over it, hoping everything from its peril and ingenuity.

When they reached the holme they hauled down their sail, and waited "on their oars" till the tide was exactly in the same stage in which it was when Signy was carried away by it.

Then the oars went in; the two adventurers sat passive on the middle thwarts, and let the boat go as the waters willed. Away she spun round the holme, and out in the same direction that the Osprey had taken.

"It's going to do, I really believe," Yaspard exclaimed, and Fred nodded; but Fred's heart was heavy at thought of the beautiful little creature who had flown like a dove into his heart so short a time before. He could so easily recall the sweet-confiding way she rested her head against him; he almost felt her soft hair blowing about his face as it had done when Arab carried them both to Collaster, and he was also carried into the undiscovered country of a young man's ideals!

They did not speak much as they drifted with the currents. They saw many of the boats that had been sent out, and spoke some; but no one had any report to make. Nothing had been seen or heard of the Osprey.

"It is scarcely time to hear anything yet," said Fred. "We must not be discouraged until we have heard from the boats that have gone farther away, and until our own plan fails to put us on her track."

"I don't believe it will fail," answered Yaspard, with a show of resolution far greater than his inward hope warranted.

"We will hope, boy; and we will not forget that the Father's watchful care has been about her in her loneliness and peril, poor little lassie!"

They lapsed into silence after that, and drearily watched the water as it carried them along, until they began to near a group of skerries which lay on the direct way to Havnholme. The steady current flowing past the point of Yelholme had borne them in safety beyond all dangerous rocks until nearing that ugly group, and when they noted the direction in which they were then drifting their hearts sank.

Fred sat white and stern, looking at the black rocks round which the ocean seethed white, and Yaspard wondered what he meant to do. He did not have much time to wonder. Fred took the seat in the stern, and said in a low voice, "She shall go as far as we dare let her; stand by to lift the sail when I bid you."

On went the boat, rolling more perilously as she came among the more disturbed waters; then it seemed that she lay checked between two huge waves for a moment; and while she so seemed to pause, the young fellows anxiously gazed at the group of skerries, fearing everything from their dark and frowning appearance.

Presently—could it be? Yes, the boat was not proceeding as she had done. She was going in another direction; she had met a cross tide, and was being carried by it past the skerries, past the towering cliffs of Havnholme, and into the quiet smiling little bay which gave that island its blessed name.



I have not been able to describe Yaspard's grief when he lost sight of the Osprey, and I am less able to describe his joy upon seeing her floating snug against the crags which were the favourite landing-place on Havnholme. But neither he nor Fred could utter a Bound when they caught sight of Signy lying under shelter of the skeö, which had been of like service to many a person before; but never surely to so fair, delicate, and forlorn a creature as she—when she quitted the boat on the previous evening, and sank down on the spot to weep herself into unconsciousness. The sun had gone down, and had risen, and was fast sinking to rest behind the western waves again, but Signy had never moved from the place. Once or twice she had waked up, and gazed wildly around until she had once more realised her position, then with a low cry, that was yet a prayer, she had buried her face in the grass again and lapsed into that state of half slumber, half stupor, which was a merciful relief from the more keen realisation of her position.

In trembling haste her brother and Fred landed, and ran to where she lay; but so lifeless did she seem that Yaspard paused beside her, and dared not even stoop for a nearer look.

It was Fred Garson who lifted her head, and tenderly put the hair back from the white, innocent face; then said with tears, "Thank God, this is only sleep!"

Down Yaspard dropped on his knees by Signy, and when she opened her eyes they lighted first on her brother's face—white as her own, but full of gladness and love.

For a few moments she did not realise what had happened to her. "Brodhor! I had a strange dream," she murmured—"a terrible dream. But—where am I? Oh! I remember! Oh, Yaspard! you have found me! Oh, God heard all I said to Him!"

She leaned back on Fred's arm again, and looked up at him with the same confiding look she had raised when they were galloping over the Lunda heath, and she said very sweetly, "In the boat I thought of you helping Yaspard to find me."

They had brought wine and other nourishment with them, hoping that these might be found of use in that very way; and after Signy had partaken of refreshment, she was able to smile a little and tell them how she managed to land.

"The boat just went where it liked," she said, "and I was so dreadfully frightened for a little while. Then, as I prayed, it seemed all at once that I wasn't afraid any more, so I sat still and watched the sea, and wondered who would pick me up. After a long, long time the boat stopped rocking, and then I knew she had got out of the tides into the bay here. I had been here with Yaspard, and knew it; and I thought if I could row, or steer, or something, I might get the Osprey to the land. I was afraid to try with the oars, so I went and steered, and I really managed to turn the boat so that she was carried to the shore at the right place. I got out and tied the rope as I had seen Yaspard do. It felt so nice to stand on the ground again! But I was very tired; and I came up here, and looked all round at the sea, and I never had felt it to be a dreadful, dreadful thing before—never in my life! I had so loved the sea! But then—oh, it seemed so large, and powerful, and cruel! Somehow I began to tremble all over after that, and I am afraid I cried very much. I am not sure when it was I fell asleep, but it seems ages ago."

They would not let her talk any more about what had happened, but turned the conversation to home, and Signy was soon able to chat on that theme with a degree of composure.

After being rested and cheered, Fred carried Signy to the Lunda boat, saying to Yaspard as he did so, "We must all go together; and we can't bother with a boat in tow, so we had better secure the Osprey here till she can be fetched."

"Yes; and then if any of the search-party come to Havnholme, they will know by that that Signy has been found."

The hour was late, and Yaspard began to speculate upon what Aunt Osla and Uncle Brüs would say on being roused from their slumbers to receive the adventurers and hear the story which had so nearly ended in a tragedy.

"I am afraid uncle will be very angry," said Yaspard; but Signy, who lived closer to the eccentric old man's heart and understood it better, affirmed that he would be so pleased to have her back in safety he would not "break out" on anybody. "Besides," she added, "he will see that we couldn't leave that poor man, and that it was all just a mere accident."

Yaspard was not so confident, nor yet was Fred, but they did not discuss the point further; only Fred remarked, "I'd carry you both straight away to Lunda, and get Dr. Holtum to take you home and smooth matters as he only can; but ill news travels fast, and it is quite possible that the catastrophe has been reported at Moolapund; and reported with twenty exaggerations tacked on to it. In that case the sooner you are home the better;" and Signy added, "I'd like best to go home."

Home had seemed so dear and far away while she was alone, that now her whole heart was turning to it with a passionate yearning; and her companions thoroughly understood the full meaning of her little sentence.

The events of the last twenty-four hours had completely driven all else from our Viking's mind, and he did not remember that he had trysted the lads of Lunda to meet him that night at (what they had named) Gloy's geo. But they, knowing nothing of what had taken place after they parted from the Osprey, were not likely to break bargain in such an affair—promising, as it did, some rare fun.

The boats which Fred had sent out to scour the seas had not approached the Ootskerries, knowing that the Laulie was there, and that her crew were not likely to miss seeing the lost boat if it came that way. Moreover, the fishermen calculated that the tide would carry her in a more southerly direction, altogether ignorant of the influence, at a precise and fortunate moment, of cross-currents. As we have seen, Fred Garson judged differently and with a better result.

But of all these things our lads were ignorant; therefore, shortly after Fred's boat entered Boden voe the Laulie set out from the Ootskerries for her rendezvous; and what next happened to her crew you shall learn when we have safely housed the young Adiesens at Moolapund.

There was the complete and brooding silence of Nature at rest over land and sea when the boat sailed up the voe, and the three adventurers did not speak a word till Signy caught sight of a light.

"Oh," she cried, "look! uncle has not gone to bed; there is a lamp burning in the parlour still."

"That is very satisfactory," quoth Fred; "but they can't have heard any rumour about you, else there would be more folks awake than the scientist, and other lamps besides that of the study."

"Uncle Brüs will be grubbing among his specimens," said Yaspard concisely.

When they reached land they heard Pirate begin to bark and whine, evidently aware of their vicinity, and eager to get out and give them welcome; and as they drew near the house the door opened and Mr. Adiesen appeared, in a fantastic dressing-gown and Fair Isle cap, saying to the dog, "What's the matter, Pirate?"

The "matter" became plain to his vision next moment in the form of Signy, who flew into his arms crying, "Oh, uncle, dear, dear uncle! I am so thankful to be here again. I was lost, and nearly died; and poor Yaspard was left on Yelholme."

"Bless the child!" he gasped; "what on earth is she saying? Yaspard! do you know it is midnight? What is— Why, Mr. Garson! what—what!"

For once in his life Mr. Adiesen was thrown off his balance. Signy, springing up to bind her arms round his neck, caused him to stagger backwards into the hands of Fred and Yaspard, while their appearance and the girl's words upset his mind as much as his body. The joyful bounds and barks of Pirate added to the old gentleman's confusion, and when set on his feet again he could only turn and walk back to his parlour in blank amazement.

The others followed, of course, and stood waiting for him to speak, which he did shortly after resuming the arm-chair, which he had vacated at Pirate's request. "Explain yourself, sir!" he said severely, addressing Fred. So there was nothing for it but for Fred to begin and tell the story as best he might; but he had not proceeded far when Signy crept to her uncle's knee. Then he noticed her face was white and drawn, and her eyes still full of a great fear.

"Stop a moment, sir," said Mr. Adiesen; "my child is ill. Signy, who has frightened you?"

"No one, uncle; only I was alone in the boat and on Havnholme, and I was so afraid," and then she began to cry bitterly. He drew her close and looked frowning at Yaspard; "You had charge of your sister!" he said very sternly.

"The lad is not to blame, Mr. Adiesen," Fred exclaimed. "He was doing a good action, and he has suffered much also. Don't be hard on Yaspard."

"Mr. Garson saved me, uncle dear," sobbed Signy. "He found me on Havnholme; he is so good."

"Havnholme!" the old man muttered, and something like an electric shock went through him at that word.

The change in his expression was not lost on Fred. In a very few words he explained all; and when the narrative was ended he added, "We know that God had the dear child in His keeping all the time; and I am fain to believe that He who holds the seas in the hollow of His hand guided the boat to Havnholme—to Havnholme—for some wise purpose, Mr. Adiesen."

The old man's face dropped to the curly head lying on his breast, but he only said, "The child must get to rest, and Mam Kirsty. Ring that bell, Yaspard, and then go and tell your aunt. Sit down, Mr. Garson, sit down, till I've had time to think."

Fred did as he was bid, and so of course did Yaspard; and a pretty scene he created in Miss Osla's room when he burst in there and told her all!

The ringing of the bell had roused the maids and Mam Kirsty, who presented herself in the parlour with head discreetly and carefully covered in a huge cap and hap-shawl, but her feet and legs only protected by a short petticoat and pair of wooden clogs.

Her appearance and incoherent ejaculations were quite too much for the gentlemen, although their mood had been grave enough the moment before. They both laughed; and even Signy's tears were checked as she cried out, "Oh, dear Mam Kirsty, you do look so awfully funny."

"Take the child to her aunt's room," said Mr. Adiesen, "and see that she sleeps there to-night. She must not be alone. And some of you girls there prepare a room for Mr. Garson, and bring in some supper. Be sharp now."

He kissed Signy fondly, and had no objections to offer to Fred's doing likewise, but when she disappeared with her nurse he muttered, "I ought not to have trusted her out of this isle."



"What on earth has become of that duffer?" said Tom Holtum, when the Laulie arrived at the geo and no Yaspard appeared either on land or sea.

"We are a little before our time," Harry remarked; "but I don't see his boat anywhere along the voe—that is, as far as one can see in the Dim and along such a twisting twirligig of a voe as this."

"I vote we land and have a nap," said Bill; but no one seconded him, as they expected the Viking and his followers to appear at any moment.

These did not put in an appearance, however; and after waiting a long hour Tom said, "Look here, boys, something unforeseen has stopped him—and it's something serious too. I expect the old man has smelt a rat, or Yaspard has had qualms of conscience."

"He'd have come and told us if that were it," said Harry promptly.

"Anyway," Tom replied, "he hasn't come; and it does not look as if he were coming, and we can't sit here all night doing nothing. So I vote we proceed without Sir Viking."

"He would not like it; and it is his quest, you know," Harry laughingly made answer.

"His quest, but remember it is also my what-you-call-am—little game. Mind you I discovered the seal for myself, and I meant the job of taking her to be our job. Father said it might have been better if Yaspard had less to do with it. On the whole, boys, I don't think we can do better than start and reconnoitre, and take whatever chance comes our way."

The others agreed, and, thinking it best not to venture up the voe, they decided to moor their boat at some safe place on the other side of Boden and nearer Trullyabister. "So said so done" was the way of those lads, and about the time when Yaspard and Fred were falling asleep, thoroughly tired out, the Mitchells, Tom, and Gloy were stealthily creeping up the hill to the old Ha'-hoose.

"We must be careful and spry," quoth Tom, "for the ogre 'walks' like a ghost o' nights, as I know to my cost." Yaspard had described the ruins to them, and they knew all about the passage leading to the haunted room. His plan for liberating the captives had been their plan, since no better could be; but they were not provided with the tools he meant to bring, and could not therefore carry out the programme as at first arranged.

But those boys were not often at their wits' end, and whatever substitutes for sacks, saws, and shovels suggested themselves as available were carried with them from the boat. These substitutes consisted of a piece of sail-cloth and some bits of hard wood, an owzkerry[1] and the boat-hook. They also brought away some stout rope, and a knife which had helped to end the career of many an aspiring fish. They were not without hope of finding a spade lying "handy" somewhere in the vicinity of the house; so that, on the whole, the young marauders were not so badly off for the sinews of war.

They met with no adventure by the way, nor saw they the least sign to indicate that either of the night-roving inhabitants of Trullyabister were awake. Near the peat-stack they found a spade and a large stout keschie, which they appropriated, as Harry suggested it would make a handy cradle for the baby seal. They stole into the ruined and roofless apartment as Yaspard and the Harrisons had done, and listened for sounds from the prisoners; but all was quiet. There was plenty of daylight by that time, so that they did not have to grope their way about.

"Of course the first thing," whispered Harry, "is to make sure they are there, so I'll mount as the Viking did."

He clambered up to the window and took a good look in. It was a pity he did not take as good a look out, and then he might have noticed—at a window close by, the window of Mr. Neeven's study—the eyes of that ogre himself watching the boys with grave intentness. But Harry, all unaware of such espionage, came down from the window, and reported Mrs. Sealkie asleep beside her baby in a corner made comfortable with straw and bits of carpet. To work then went the lads, one with a spade, another with a knife; and when these two were tired, the others took their place, so that the job was rapidly accomplished.

Their plan was to remove the lowest board which blocked the way to the passage, and to dig from under it a sufficient amount of earth to enable a boy to enter—or a seal to come out.

They meant, after capturing the captive, to hack the board and scrape the earth, so that any one would suppose that the seal had gnawed and clawed her own way to freedom; and they thought it a very clever plan indeed, saying that Yaspard, with whom it originated, was the great inventor and general of the age.

The seal did not sleep while this was going on so near her; but she had partaken of a late and large supper, and did not "fash" beyond now and then whining in a melancholy voice, which stimulated the young heroes to further efforts, and helped to cover the noise they made.

Before long they were satisfied that the opening was wide enough to allow them to enter crawling. "The first one that goes in will have to watch his head," said Bill, "for I've heard that seals are very fierce when they have young ones around."

"This seal is Trullya, and she will know us. Anyway, she never was a crosspatch, and I'll go first," replied Harry the wise and brave. "And I don't see," he added, "that any one else need go in there. I'll try and persuade her ladyship to inspect this aperture, and take a 'constitutional' down the passage."

But Tom wasn't going to let another eclipse him in valour, particularly as this quest was his, so, before Harry had done speaking, Tom ducked and soon wriggled himself through the opening. Harry followed, after cautioning Bill and Gloy to go out of the passage and keep watch, to give the alarm in case Mr. Neeven or fule-Tammy should come upon the scene.

The sealkie was neither alarmed nor disturbed by her visitors. She had evidently returned to her tame confiding ways, and allowed the boys to come close to her. When Harry spoke to her by name, using also some soft notes which Fred had taught Trullya to understand as a call to meals, she responded in her plaintive voice, which left no doubt of her identity; but when Tom attempted to touch the baby she uttered a sharp bark and glared at him in a manner that showed she was by no means prepared to allow their overtures to go a step further.

"What shall we do if she won't come out?" asked Tom; "we couldn't muffle her here, could we?"

"You go along, and leave madame to me," replied Harry; and Tom made his exit.

Harry had "a way" with animals, and he soon managed to persuade Trullya to leave her couch. Then the baby, restless and curious as small persons are, crept to the opening and peeped out. The mother followed, and finding the barriers against which she had daily fretted removed, waddled slowly into the passage, followed by her young one.

Harry hastily tumbled the earth and broken bits of wood about the opening, and followed the sealkie into the large room, where he found her looking amazedly at the three boys stationed at spots where they thought she might escape.

Tom had taken up the piece of sail-cloth, and he was preparing to throw it over the seal when all were startled by the sound of a loud cough not far away.

"Gracious!" one exclaimed in a horrified whisper.

"He's coming!" said another.

The cough was repeated, and the person who coughed was nearer. Moreover, footsteps were heard! These sounds proceeded from the north side of the house, and the four boys promptly and silently evacuated the ruin over the south wall.

"Run for the peat-stack," Harry whispered; and when they were crouching behind it he said briefly, "It's all up. That was Mr. Neeven. We must creep round to the knowes, and then make tracks for our boat."

Setting the example, he started for the knowes, crawling over the ground like a Red Indian on the war-trail, and followed by his companions. If they reached the knowes unobserved they might hope to get off in safety, for those little hillocks intercepted the view from Trullyabister, preventing any one there from seeing across the hill which the Lunda boys had to cross.

But when they reached the knowes Mr. Neeven suddenly appeared from behind them, saying sternly, "What is this? What! Tom Holtum, who calls himself a gentleman!"

They were beautifully caught, and rose from their reptile position shamefaced and discomfited. Tom, whose audacity frequently stood them in better stead than Harry's self-possession, was the first to face the very awkward situation.

"We didn't mean any harm, sir," he said. "We only came to take Fred Garson's pet sealkie."

"Indeed! and where may Fred Garson's pet sealkie be?"

"She was in the haunted room—goodness knows where she may be by this time," was the very cool answer of Master Tom.

"Are you aware, young gentleman, that breaking into a house is a burglarious offence, for which you are liable to imprisonment with hard labour during a term of years?"

That was a terrible speech; but a sudden break in the speaker's voice, and a mirthful look which he could not repress, were noted by Harry, who took them as hopeful signs; so, plucking up courage, he replied—

"You know what is fair and right as well as we do, sir; and I put it to you—were we doing a bad thing in trying to recover our friend's property in a quiet way? He might have sued Mr. Adiesen in the law courts, and made no end of a row."

"Always supposing, my lad," Mr. Neeven interrupted, "that the seal could be proved to be his."

"I can prove it easily," Harry answered confidently. "She answered to the old call Fred used; and besides that, Isabel made a sketch of her. Every mark on her skin is in the picture."

"And more," said Tom; "the sealkie was caught on Fred's property, where no person had business to be without his leave."

"That, too, is a point open to question. But what I have to do with is this disgraceful burglary. I believe it is admitted that you had less business in Trullyabister than Mr. Adiesen had in Havnholme."

There was no denying that truth, and the boys hung their heads.

"Follow me," said the ogre. "First you shall show me if the animal recognises your call, and after that I'll tell you what I mean to do with you."

The whole party returned to the ruins; but when they got there they were just in time to see Trullya and her baby flopping over some crags near the back of the house, which was situated only a little way from the sea on both sides.

The boys were about to start in pursuit, but Mr. Neeven stopped them.

"Let her go to her own," he said almost gently. And in a few minutes the seal reached the ocean and was free once more.

[1] "Owzkerry," scoop for baling water.



When Trullya disappeared, the ogre turned upon the boys with a savageness that was very much put on; for their rueful looks, disappointment, headlong action, and love of fun, had appealed to him in a way he was not prepared to combat very seriously. But he was not going to let them know that. He laid a hand heavily on Tom's shoulder, and asked, "How came you to know about the seal?"

"I saw her at the window, and I guessed a lot."

Mr. Neeven saw in the four candid faces before him that there was more to tell.

"How did you find your way into my house, and to that particular portion of it? Very few persons know about those passages and places."

They were silent. They would not tell on Yaspard, and seeing that his question remained likely to be unanswered, he asked another.

"Haven't you entered into a Viking campaign, with my young relative Yaspard Adiesen for your 'enemy,' of all games in the world?"

"Yes," said Tom; "but his uncle was told about it, and our fathers know."

"Then your fathers are as——" He stopped short, for Harry Mitchell's eyes were flashing on him in a very spirited manner, and Harry's voice, raised and determined, interrupted him.

"Excuse me, sir, but I think we must not listen if you go on that tack. Blow us sky high about our own doings. We own up that we might have made our raid in a more open way, and given you warning that we meant to attack your castle. That would have been more like honest Vikings; but, all the same, we aren't going to admit that we've done anything really wicked, or that our fathers would have permitted us to carry on so if it had been wrong. And we are ready to take any punishment you think right to inflict."

"It was only our madram," [1] added Tom, using an old Shetland word, which Gaun Neeven had heard applied to himself in days gone by more often than any other term.

"Only boys' madram," his gentle mother had so often said to excuse his foolishness and screen him from the results of many an escapade. His boyhood was being swiftly recalled by the antics of those boys, and by Tom Holtum's ways and words. He saw his boyish self more in Tom than in the others, and the contact with those young spirits was doing the recluse good.

The hand on Tom's shoulder pressed more heavily, but it was not an ungentle touch, and Tom wondered what was coming next.

"Madram!" muttered Neeven, as if he were thinking aloud, and had forgotten their presence. "Madram, boys' madram! There may be worse things in the world than that."

The cloud lifted a little from their spirits then; and a welcome diversion took place at that moment in the form of Yaspard, who presented himself on the scene, flustered, and eager to take the blame of whatever had happened on his own shoulders.

After a dreamless slumber of an hour or two, he had waked up to remember his tryst, and getting up at once, had hastened to a spot where he could see if the Laulie were anywhere near the geo. Pirate accompanied him, and did not at all care for going in the direction of the geo, but kept scampering towards another point, frequently looking back, as if he wished his young master to follow.

The Laulie was not in sight, and Yaspard feared the boys had returned home on finding he did not keep his promise, or had heard of the Osprey's misfortunes, and had not come at all.

While he speculated Pirate grew impatient, and begged in every expressive canine manner that he knew better than Yaspard, who at last yielded to the dog's persuasions and followed, to find the Laulie moored not far from where he was.

"Just so!" he exclaimed. "I see! When they found I did not come, they started on the adventure without me."

After that he set off for Trullyabister, and appeared before Mr. Neeven and his "enemies," as I have stated.

"You are early afoot!" was the salutation spoken sarcastically by the master of the situation. But our hero, nothing daunted, answered—

"Good morning, sir! Well, boys, I suppose you tried it without me, and failed, of course."

"I was convinced none other than yourself was head and tail of the affair," remarked Mr. Neeven, in the same cool, sarcastic manner. "I think you must be finding by this time that Vikinging, otherwise burglary, doesn't fit in with modern civilisation."

"And there are other things don't fit in either," retorted Yaspard quickly; then recovering himself at once, he added hastily, "but I don't mean to fuss. If you please, by-and-by I'll have a quiet talk with you, sir, about a very important matter. Now, boys, you want to know why I didn't keep my tryst with you. It is a long story, and a very dreadful and a very strange one."

He then recounted all that had occurred since the Laulie and Osprey parted company, and Mr. Neeven, as well as the lads of Lunda, was deeply moved by the story. Yaspard alluded as little as possible to the light which had caused the wreck, and he did not mention at all that he had seen one similar himself.

Many were the exclamations of astonishment and sympathy with which his story was heard, but when it was finished our young adventurers found their usual mode of expressing much feeling.

"Three cheers for the little lady, and three times three for Fred Garson!" Tom called out.

Up went their caps in the air, and out rang their wild hurrahs, louder and heartier at each renewal, to the consternation of fule-Tammy, who was waked from slumber by the uproar, and came out rubbing his eyes, with all his hair on end, and wailing, "The trows! the trows! they've come tae pu' doon a' the house at last."

He was a comical sight, and laughter took the place of cheering. The boys caught each other's hands and formed a circle round Tammy, dancing, laughing, shouting, like the wildest of wild savages, until he recognised some of them, and added to their mirth by squatting in the midst of them, and saying, "Weel, noo! and I thought it wis the trows! My lambs, ye can carry on like yon till ye're weary. It's no puir Tammy 'at sall stop your madram. But, for a' that, ye're a set o' filskit moniments." [2]

"Get up, Tammy. Boys, come into the house with me," said Mr. Neeven, when the tumult subsided and he could make himself heard.

They followed him to his study, and they were not ungrateful for some scones and milk which he caused Tammy to set before them; but his grim expression did not relax, and they did not find their confidence rise very much.

After a little time Yaspard said, "Will you please let me have some private talk with you? I really must, before uncle begins to question me to-day, or any one comes from Lunda, as I expect they will."

He was taken to another room, but we will not intrude upon that interview. Mr. Neeven's face wore a heavy frown when they returned, but he only said, "You will all go now with Yaspard; he can stow you somewhere, I expect, till the family gets out of bed. You and your boat may find employment in conveying the Laird of Lunda to his own island. I have nothing further to say to you, except to warn you not to make raids upon me again."

"Thank you, sir," said the Mitchell brothers; and Tom added, "It is more than good of you to let us off so easy; all the same, I wish we had Fred's sealkie for him. But thank you, Mr. Neeven; and I'm sure if I can ever do anything for yon, I'll be as pleased as Punch."

Then they were dismissed curtly, but not unkindly; and Gaun Neeven felt his room to be all the darker and lonelier when the mischief-loving laddies were gone.

When they got a bit away from the house Harry called a halt. "Look you," said he, "this is no kind of hour in which to invade a decent house. Let's go to our boat, and bring her round to Moolapund."

"And say we've come for Fred, as flat as you like," added Tom; "it will be quite like our impudence."

"And will be true enough," said Yaspard. "Only there is more in it than that."

"We shan't mind telling your uncle all about it," Tom replied, "if you don't think it will make a row."

"There won't be any need to tell him at present, and he is bound to hear it from Mr. Neeven. These two have long confabs every day, and I just believe—for I've sometimes heard bits of their talk—that they don't talk science so much as all about the pranks they played when they were boys. You wouldn't think it, to look at him, but Aunt Osla says Mr. Neeven was an awful boy."

It was hard to imagine the serious scientist and the melancholy recluse two restless mischievous boys. The irreverent young rascals amused themselves till they reached the Laulie with fancy sketches of the two gentlemen (when they were known merely as Brüs and Gaun) getting into all sorts of ridiculous pickles, until Harry checked the nonsensical chatter by remarking, "Every man is a boy first, and has to be a bit of a donkey, with the tricks of a monkey, till he grows up and gets sense. I hope we will all grow up with half the brains in our noddles that these two have got."

Bill Mitchell had scarcely spoken a word since the time they were discovered, but now he said very solemnly, "He's full of brains, that man! but I'd rather be more empty-headed, and less like a katyogle[3] that's been sitting on a stone all day with a dozen of undigested sandyloos[4] and sna-fowl[5] in his crop."

[1] "Madram," extravagant action, the result of wild, animal spirits.

[2] Frisky simpletons.

[3] "Katyogle," snowy owl.

[4] "Sandyloos," ringed plover.

[5] "Sna-fowl," snow buntings.



When they reached Moolapund they found all the household up and assembled for breakfast. Even Signy—though she looked pale and nervous—was there. The Laulie's approach had been noticed, but Mr. Adiesen merely remarked, "Your young friends come to fetch you, Mr. Garson, I suppose?"

He exchanged a knowing look with Fred. They had been conversing in private that morning for two hours, and both came into the breakfast-room with beaming faces. Even Aunt Osla could see without spectacles that a great change had come over her brother, and the good lady's heart was lightened, for she was sure the feud had come to an end at last.

Yaspard came to much the same conclusion when he ushered his companions into the house, and saw Uncle Brüs leaning familiarly on Fred's arm, and quite ready to greet the Lunda boys with cordiality.

This was what our Viking-boy had longed for, and had hoped to bring about; yet there was a comical regret mingled with his pleasure as he thought, "There will be no more excuse for my Viking raids."

As they all gathered around the table Mr. Adiesen said, "I suppose you came for your captain, young gentlemen?"

A moment's pause. "Yes," said Harry; "we were sure he would want to get home soon to report Signy and Yaspard all right, but——"

"There's a 'but,' is there? Well?" said the Laird with a smile, which was reflected on Fred's face.

"We did not leave home with such an intention," Harry went on resolutely. "We came to join Yaspard in a quest which ended in a muddle."

"Because I wasn't there," said the Viking. And then they told all about their night's work; and Tom prefaced the telling by a very sensible remark. "It's got to be known, and we'd much rather have it all out, and take the consequences as you like. It might look like being sneaky, or fibicating, if we held our tongues."

When all was confessed Mr. Adiesen turned to his nephew. "Yaspard," he said, "you are usually truthful and candid; why have you allowed me to hear all this from some one else?"

"I was afraid that you would stop me from having any more raids, and that the feud would have it all its own way after this." He looked straight at his uncle, ready for a storm if it came, but it didn't.

"There will be no more feud, my boy," was the mild answer Mr. Adiesen made. "I have agreed to bury the feud in gratitude for this child's deliverance from great peril," and he laid his hand tenderly on Signy's bright hair.

"Dear, dear uncle!" she exclaimed; and Miss Osla, behind the teapot, began to sniff preparatory to a sentimental effusion, which was fortunately checked by Yaspard exclaiming, "Then that makes an end of our jolly Vikinging, boys."

They all laughed, all save Signy, who so thoroughly entered into her brother's feelings, and she said, "That does seem a pity, brodhor; just when you had got it all so splendidly arranged."

"Perhaps," Fred remarked, "some other method may suggest itself. I don't see why you can't—now that a treaty of alliance is made—join forces and go on the war-path together."

"But there's no enemy!" said Yaspard; "one can't fight without a foe."

"I dare say they will turn up if they are looked for. If you hoist the black flag you will certainly find some one in the world ready to try and haul it down, I am glad to say."

"All right, Fred," Tom cried; "since you counsel such action, we'll range ourselves under Yaspard's banner, and it shall be 'Boden and Lunda against the world.'"

"Stop! stop! you misunderstand me, Tom. I said that I was glad that there were plenty of foes of the black flag, and that you would find it so; but in saying that I did not desire you to sail under it. And, Yaspard, I think you are a little adrift about your Vikinging. It was only a section of the gallant Vikinger who made piracy their profession, or need its hateful sign. Why identify yourself with that lot? There are plenty of black flags flying all over the world, and not so many of the Red Cross, my lad. Our boys still call me their captain, so if you will all take your captain's advice, I'd say—let the black flag be the pall of the feud. Sail with a noble minority under the Christian badge, as many a Viking did, and then it should be right well, 'Boden and Lunda against the world.'"

"Good for you, Fred," said Harry; but Tom declared he couldn't see through allegories; and that fighting the "world" in that fashion didn't solve Yaspard's difficulty about his jolly game; and he turned to Yaspard for assistance in the argument.

But our hero was "all with" Fred, and could see no fault in him.

"Obedience and no argument is the first rule of all who elect to follow a chief," Yaspard said decidedly. "You must see as your captain bids you, Tom."

"That's right," Harry Mitchell struck in; "we all agree with Fred. Good-bye to the black flag; and may Balder guide you to fresh fields of adventure, Sir Viking, for we look to you to provide us with something 'worthy of our steel.'"

"Quotations from Scott and Garth Halsen are always dodging among Harry's yackles,[1] ready to dance on the tip of his tongue when the smallest opportunity occurs," remarked Tom.

"Practical Tom Holtum aspires to poetic language," retorted Harry, with some heat.

"There they go!" exclaimed Bill, giving a small kick to each, as he happened to be seated between them. "Always sparring at each other like young cocks."

"Sailing under the black flag, eh?" said Mr. Adiesen to Tom and Harry, who looked a little ashamed, but joined in the laugh at Bill's next speech.

"Talk of feuds," quoth he. "These two have had a feud of their own going since they were born."

"Why, there is the Osprey coming up the voe," Signy called out. She had left the table a minute before, and had gone to the window to throw out some scraps to the pet birds waiting, well assured that they would not be forgotten.

Very few boats came up Boden voe, especially at such an unusual hour, therefore more than one of the breakfast party followed Signy to the window to see who was coming.

"It's father for one," said Tom.

"And that schooner's captain for another," said Fred.

"Now for it," thought Yaspard. "I wonder what I ought to do? I can't peach on poor fule-Tammy."

He was not put to the test, for as the boat reached the quay Gaun Neeven stalked up to the door followed by the culprit Tammy, looking quite satisfied with himself, and not at all disconcerted by the many eyes turned upon him—some in wonder why he was there, some in pity for his half-witted condition which had caused so much trouble.

"Shall we boys clear out of the way?" Harry asked of Mr. Adiesen, who assured him there was no necessity for their effacing themselves, as he believed a very few words with the Norna's skipper would explain everything.

"I wish I had not come on a disagreeable errand," said Dr. Holtum, as he shook hands all round. "Yes, Tom, I expected to find you boys here. You generally do contrive to get on Fred's track. We were so thankful, Adiesen, to learn that the child was safe. One of our boats found the Osprey at Havnholme, and brought the news and the boat to Lunda."

Then Mr. Neeven spoke abruptly—"Before anything further is said I wish to state that I have discovered what caused the deplorable accident to the schooner Norna, and I will make good the loss—though not bound to do so—to her skipper, who I understand was also her owner."

"That's handsomely said," remarked the captain; "and when I hear the explanation I will be better able to judge whether it is justice or generosity."

Taking no notice of that surly speech, Neeven turned to fule-Tammy. "Tell this gentleman, Tammy, about the peat fires you light on the Heogue."

"Weel, sir," said Tammy, leering, and shaking himself, "it wis this way. The Laird wis aye spakin' and spakin' o' getting yon things 'at they ca' lichthooses upo' wir isles, and he wad say hoo puir seafaring men wis drooned, and ships broken into shallmillins upo' the baus and skerries a' for want o' a licht upo' the laund. And, thinks I, there's plenty o' pates in Boden, and a gude pair o' haunds here tae mak a roogue[2] 'at should lowe a muckle lowe ony nicht. And why shouldna puir Tammy's pate-stack do as well tae mak a lowe as a lamp in a lichthoose? The Laird, puir body, is that taen up with bukes and bits o' stanes and skroita[3] that his head wasna big eneuch tae think like puir Tammy, 'at had nae mair tae do but gang drodgin[4] wi' a pate keschie and the like. So, thinks I, Tammy sall big a lichthoose o' pates upo' da Heogue, and Tammy sall be the licht-keeper, and des[5] be a bonnie lowe when the winds blaw. Mony a keschie-fu' has puir Tammy carried tae dat spot, and mony a puir seafaring man will hae said, 'Blessin's be upo' da cruppin[6] 'at set yon taunds intae a lowe!'"

So perfectly satisfied with himself and his performance was Tammy, that not even the Norna's skipper would allow himself to laugh or say a harsh word. The poor man's mental condition was so obvious, that no one could doubt for a moment that the truth regarding the mysterious fire had been told. "That will do, Tammy; you can go home now," said Mr. Neeven, and Tammy departed forthwith.

[1] Double teeth.

[2] Heap.

[3] Lichen.

[4] Go dawdling.

[5] There shall.

[6] Body.



"I think," said Fred as Tammy shuffled away, "that some of us must follow the 'light-keeper's' example and take ourselves off, especially as we came without invitation."

But no one would permit him to say another word about leaving. Mr. Neeven curtly requested the Norna's captain to accompany him to Trullyabister "on business." Dr. Holtum, Harry Mitchell, and Fred followed Mr. Adiesen to his study, for the purpose of inspecting some of its treasures. Aunt Osla insisted upon Signy's retirement to a sofa—for the child still looked wan and nervous. Yaspard carried off Tom and Bill to Noostigard, where Gloy had gone immediately after breakfast to tell the Harrisons all the astonishing news. Thus the lawn at Moolapund was cleared of the large human party which had assembled there—the first for many years; and their places were taken by the motley crowd of birds and beasts who daily assembled for the matutinal meal the scientist never failed to give them from his own hands.

Great was the astonishment created amongst them by his non-appearance on this occasion. Loki stretched out his long neck with the curious jerk which makes a cormorant look so idiotic as well as voracious, while one or two scories[1] gave utterance to a good deal of strong language. Pigeons, chickens, shelders,[2] sparrows, and starlings skirmished for the crumbs, &c., which Signy had put out, and wondered what was to happen next; a pony shoved his frowsy head against the window, and a patient large-eyed ox stood near the door with the obvious intention of remaining there till the master put in an appearance. All were envious of the favourite cat who was seated serenely inside the window, blinking complacently at the assemblage through a safe shield of glass, and at last her airs of superiority and content became too much for Thor.

After hopping sedately about, contriving to annex the tit-bits from Signy's contribution, and making inquiries into the position of affairs, Sir Raven suddenly alighted on the window-sill in front of Mistress Puss, and screamed harshly in her very face, "Shoo! shoo! Uncle, uncle, uncle!"

The feline person waited for no second remark, but setting up her back at Thor, she cursed him in cat language and hastily decamped; whereat the astute Thor, turning to the company observant of all that was taking place, said "Just so!"

By that time the patience of a good many of the creatures was exhausted, and they took to falling out with one another, the result of which was a concert so peculiar that it drew the attention of the gentlemen, even though they were very intently turning out the contents of a cabinet.

"Ah, poor things! I don't often forget them," Mr. Adiesen said by way of explaining the clamour outside, and—excusing himself to his guests—he hurried away to his menagerie.

Dr. Holtum and Fred stood together at the window and watched the scientist distribute food to his dependants, while Fred told the Doctor a great deal of what had passed between himself and his hereditary enemy; and we may be sure his listener rejoiced over such a happy termination to the feud of years.

A pleasant morning glided swiftly to the hour of noontide dinner, when the boys returned to the Ha' hungry and in high spirits. They had concocted a grand "lark" while at Noostigard; and they had encountered Mr. Neeven at the Hoobes, when he had invited Tom to come to Trullyabister whenever he so pleased.

"And I'll go," said Tom, when the recluse was out of hearing. "I'll go, and I'll take the rest of us with me."

After dinner the Doctor said, "You have a Lunda boat here; and I must be at Collaster this afternoon, but I don't want to hurry Fred. Perhaps some of the boys will take me home and return for him."

But Fred required to go home too, so it was settled that the whole Lunda party were to depart together.

"We are to meet, however, on Friday," said Fred, "and have a splendid picnic in honour of little Signy. She is to be queen of our revels."

"Hurrah! All right! Just your style! Good for you, Fred!" In such words the lads let it be known how thoroughly they appreciated any such project; and when they subsided Mr. Adiesen said, "I wished the picnic to be here—on Boden, I mean; our island is a scrap compared with Lunda in size, but we have some cliffs and caves quite as fine as those of any of the Shetland Isles; and I could show you some fine scenery from the Heogue. But Mr. Garson wishes his picnic to be held on——" The old gentleman came to a very full stop, pushed back his spectacles from his nose to his forehead, drew himself up and looked around, meaning to be very emphatic indeed (which he was). "Yes," he resumed, when all his hearers were sufficiently impressed with the importance of what he had to state—"yes, Mr. Garson desires, and I cordially agree, that the picnic—I might call it the celebration of our thanksgiving for my Signy's preservation. Yes—hum! this meeting of my family with our friends of Lunda is to take place on—— Havnholme!"

Who can say what it cost that old man to agree to Fred's proposal; to bury his pride and his resentment, his ancestral prejudice and his personal arrogance, and meet the Laird of Lunda with his friends on the disputed piece of earth?

We cannot understand either the position or the concession, which seem almost ludicrous in our estimation, but were sufficiently solemn, even tragic, in the sight of Brüs Adiesen, living a secluded life apart from men, and nursing there every fantastic or unreasonable or old-world idea.

The boys had not a word to say when their host's speech was concluded; but a sniff from Miss Osla, which might be the prelude to tears and sentiment, warned Dr. Holtum not to leave the silence for her to break, and he remarked—

"A good thought. We have not had a picnic on Havnholme for ages. The last time I saw the Yarl of Broch, he was saying he had not set foot on the Holme since he was a boy, and got thrashed there by you, Adiesen, eh?"

"I remember! I remember!" answered the scientist, chuckling and rubbing his hands together. "We were boys then—yes, boys—and boy-like, very ready for a row. It seems so short a time ago! It was, yes, it was a rare good fight—the only time I ever came off best! Ha! ha! I was not a fighting boy as a rule. I may say Neeven could always lick me; so could my poor brother Yaspard. But that time—don't know how it happened—I thrashed Halsen. I did indeed, though you mayn't think it."

"I am awfully surprised," said blunt Tom Holtum.

"You may be that," rejoined the scientist, not in the least nettled by the implication in Tom's speech. "You may well be surprised, for he is twice my size; he was a big boy, and is a big man. Yes! the Yarl is a genuine old Shetland Viking of the right sort."

"He'd suit you down to the ground, Yaspard," quoth Tom; and Fred Garson added, "You would freeze to Garth Halsen, boy. He is as mad about Vikinger as you are, only it's in another way. I'll ask them to join our party. You would like to see Mr. Halsen again, wouldn't you?"

"To be sure," Mr. Adiesen replied. "We'll fight our battle o'er again—with our tongues this time. By all means let's have the Yarl and his boy on Friday."

So things were settled; and in high good-humour the Lunda boys escorted Dr. Holtum and their young captain to the boat, and with hearty good-will rowed home, singing lustily as they pulled—

"A life on the ocean wave,
A home on the rolling deep."

When the Lunda boat was out of sight Yaspard heaved a long sigh, and said to Signy, who with him had stood watching their new friends until the curves of the voe hid them from sight, "Well! I suppose I may stop my raids when I like now. There is no feud, and no occasion to go on the warpath."

"It seems almost too good to be true, brodhor," the girl made answer. "You need not mind giving up your Vikinging for such a good reason."

"That's true," he answered cheerily; "only we were getting no end of fun out of it. However, we must think of some other plan, as Mr. Garson said. Oh! but isn't he a brick, Signy?"

"He is just splendid," was the fervent answer.

"They are all splendid," replied the lad, "except perhaps Tom Holtum. I don't like him much. And to think of cousin Neeven taking to that one of all the lot! Well! if Tom is to be visiting at Trullyabister, where even I have not more than a half-civil 'Good-day'-and-don't-stay-long sort of welcome, there will be hot times in Boden, and plenty of rows."

"Oh, brodhor! don't set up a feud of your own, I beseech!" Signy cried, with a comical look of dismay on her face, and lifting both hands in appeal.

Yaspard burst into laughter. "Oh, Mootie, what a little goose you are! I couldn't keep a feud going to save my life. I can fight! I dare say, if that chap is much about, I shall knock him down if he cheeks me, but we will shake hands on the spot every time, you bet! I a feud! No, Signy, I am not a fool just yet; though if I had stayed much longer on Yelholme, I'd have lost the little wit I now possess."

They strolled away to the house, and did not know that Uncle Brüs had been lying sunning himself on the other side of the stone wall near which they stood. As the brother and sister departed the old gentleman muttered, "Not a fool yet! No, Yaspard is not such a fool now as his uncle has been through a wasted long life. Heaven pardon me!"

[1] Young gulls.

[2] Oyster-catchers.



The day before that on which the picnic was to take place a mysterious communication passed between the young Laird of Lunda and Yaspard Adiesen, the effect of which was to set our Viking into a fit of the fidgets combined with a state of exhilaration of spirit that threatened to effervesce in a dangerous manner at any moment.

But nothing more serious came of it than the startling of Miss Osla's wits by an apparition of her nephew prancing downstairs with one of Signy's old dolls in his arms, and his face and head wrapped in a piece of black linen, upon which our young hero had sketched a death's-head and cross-bones. As the terrific symbols were spread over his face, it was scarcely wonderful that Miss Osla got a fright, and called him a profane boy; but Signy—who was following her brother—explained that "it" was only the "black flag," and that it would never frighten anybody any more; with which explanation the gentle old auntie was quite satisfied.

Friday came, a glorious summer day, and promising to continue so. Yaspard was up early, putting some finishing touches to his boat, which had been undergoing a good deal of cleaning and painting in honour of the occasion.

He was all impatience to be off soon, desiring to be the first at the rendezvous; but Uncle Brüs was not a person who liked to be hurried, and took his usual time to finish breakfast and feed his pets in spite of Yaspard's fidgets.

Fortunately the Harrison brothers (who were to be the Osprey's crew that day) arrived soon; and he found some relief in discussing with them the projected "lark" to which I have alluded, and which will be recorded in its proper place.

At last Mr. Adiesen and his sister came from the house, the former carrying a vasculum and field-telescope, the latter burdened with shawls and umbrellas, which were an insult to the sun, smiling that day as he seldom condescends to smile on Hialtland.

Signy followed her guardians, and Pirate came with her, bounding and barking his delight—for he was still a young dog, and expressed his pleasure naturally, as young creatures do.

Yaspard's eager impatience did not prevent him from noting his little sister's attractive appearance, and he called out as she came running to the quay, "Why, Mootie, you do look spiff[1] to be sure! Where on earth did you get that elegant frock from?"

"Out of Aunt Osla's bullyament[2] boxes," said she; and Aunt Osla herself explained that the bairn's "best things" had been worsted during her terrible adventure, which had obliged Miss Adiesen to make a new dress. All the same, Signy knew that the good lady had consulted with Mam Kirsty, and had come to the conclusion, fortified by the opinion of her aide-de-camp, that "whether or no," such an important occasion demanded a new frock for the queen of the revels.

The Shetland ladies of that time were wont to keep "by them" a hoard of "material," seeing that shops were beyond their reach; therefore Miss Adiesen was at no loss to provide a suitable and elegant picnic costume for the darling of Boden; and the result did credit to her taste and ingenuity.

As the family party were taking their places in the boat, two unexpected guests arrived with the evident intention of joining the others. These were Thor and Mr. Neeven. Thor coolly lighted aboard and settled himself close by Mr. Adiesen, remarking, as he did so, "Just so! Bad boy! bad boy! Uncle!"

These observations evidently referred to Pirate—not the scientist—who was lying at their master's feet with head lovingly rested against his knee, a position which Thor never liked to see occupied by any one, for he was a jealous bird.

Mr. Adiesen welcomed Sir Raven by handing him a crust from the capacious pocket which never failed to carry a supply of such tokens of good-will. While addressing Thor in the way he liked best, the old gentleman greeted his cousin by saying, "Glad you thought better of it, and have come, Gaun. Fine day for an excursion, this. Here is a comfortable place for you," and he made room for Neeven beside Miss Osla; but the recluse merely nodded "Good morning" to his relatives, stepped along the thwarts to the bow, and seated himself there.

His ways, peculiar and not meant for incivility, were too well known to provoke comment. The Osprey was shoved off by Yaspard, while Lowrie and Gibbie got out a pair of oars to help the boat along, as the wind was very light.

Brüs Adiesen was in high good spirits, and insisted upon taking an oar too as soon as his nephew sat down to row. Then Signy began to sing for very gladness of soul, as the birds do. Yaspard took up the chorus of her song, which was commented upon by Thor in his usual sage manner; and even Miss Osla forgot to seem afraid of the sea—a sentimental fashion which had been considered a feminine attraction in the days of her youth.

Altogether the Osprey's party was as happy and almost as blithe a one as that of the Laulie, which arrived at the little bay of Havnholme a few minutes after the Boden boat. Shortly afterwards two more boats arrived in company. These were the Vaigher and Mermaid, containing all the rest of Fred's guests. He was in his father's place at the Vaigher's helm, presiding, as his father would have done, over the safety of the elder and more sober portion of the party. His sister Isobel had the management of the little Mermaid, and her companions were Gerta Bruce and Amy Congreve, who had, of course, accompanied Garth Halsen and his father, the Yarl of Burra Isle. Any of us who made the acquaintance of the Yarl, his household, and guests from England, will know all about those girls and Garth, and will expect fun where they appear.

It is a real pleasure to me (and I hope to you who read this) to renew my acquaintance with the Burra Isle contingent; to look once more on the tender faces of Mrs. Holtum and the "little mother" of those Manse boys, and to hear the minister's genial laugh, as well as the Doctor's cheery voice.

What a shaking of hands and clatter of voices there were, to be sure! Even Pirate had to make a demonstration, for Watchie had accompanied the Holtums, and was ready to be friends with any dog. The only person who did not share in the general good-will and hilarity, who seemed indeed to be out of place among so many pleasant folk, and to feel himself quite above all such demonstrations of peace, was Thor. After surveying the "ongoings" from the safe point of a masthead, he came to the conclusion that the proceedings interested him no more, and with a dismal croak he flew off to the skeö, and, seating himself on the topmost point of its ruinous gable, commented in very uncomplimentary terms upon the ways of mankind. As his opinions were expressed aloud, and accompanied by many grotesque and expressive gestures, he created a good deal of amusement, although Mr. Adiesen remarked gravely enough, "We ought not to have allowed Thor to accompany us."

"He won't stay at home unless he is shut up," Yaspard explained; and Signy added, "Poor old Thor! I dare say he is more pleased than he seems."

"Perhaps," Fred whispered aside to the brother and sister, "the Thunderer, the god of war, can appreciate a peace celebration as well as others."

"Anyway," replied Yaspard, "there ought to be a 'chief mourner' at the funeral, and I don't know who can undertake the part if Thor will not."

"Funeral! What do you mean, brodhor?" Signy asked, with eyes very wide open; whereupon he beseeched her to be silent, or the cat would be out of the bag in a jiffy; and Signy, still wondering but submissive, held her peace, while Yaspard went rollicking from group to group, singing to a doleful tune with a grin on his face—

"Thus said the Rover
To his jolly crew,
Down with the black flag,
Up with the blue.
Shake hands on main-deck,
Shake hands on bow;
Shake hands amidships,
Kiss down below."

"You are improving on Scott, I hear," said Garth Halsen. "I didn't know you went in for being a poet as well as a Viking."

"No more I do, but I know you write poetry," retorted Yaspard; and then Fred said, "Yes; and do you know he has been impudent enough to compose a ballad about a legend of your family, boy? Think of that! I liked the ballad so well that I asked Garth to bring it along and give us all the benefit; so you are to hear the story of your own great-granduncle, whose namesake you are, done into verse, with all the Viking and Shetlandic accompaniments. What think you of that?"

"It depends upon how it is treated," quoth Yaspard with most unusual caution, and eyeing Garth as if he were some curious specimen more fit for Uncle Brüs's cabinets than a picnic.

Aunt Osla, however, was charmed with the idea, said it was a very pitiful story, quite true, and just suitable for a ballad; so Garth's verses were to be read after lunch and other ceremonies were over—for other ceremonies there were to be, as all could guess who saw Fred Garson talking eagerly apart with Yaspard, then choose a lovely green spot, and say, "This will do. Our dining hall can be on that flat lower down, but this is exactly what we want. You might get some of the fellows to bring up a few stones, while I fetch the flag-staff."

Off went Yaspard, and soon the Harrisons and Mitchell boys were helping him to convey some large stones to the brae which Fred had chosen.

"To fix a flag-staff" was all he told them, and they were not inquisitive, although our Viking's smile and knowing look betokened something much more important than the erection of a flag-staff.

"That will do, boys," said Fred, returning from his boat with a long stout stick and a spade, and in a short time the noble flag of noblest Britain, the beautiful red, white, and blue, with its mingled crosses telling so much of Britain's fame and story, was floating over Havnholme.

[1] Smartly dressed.

[2] Odds and ends.



Do you wonder how so many people (and the boys in particular) contrived to amuse themselves on that little island for a whole long summer day? I could write a volume about it, and still leave something to tell. Perhaps, some day, we shall hear what each person said and did and discovered on that occasion, but at present we must confine ourselves to the chief incidents.

First of these was the spreading of a bountiful lunch on a soft flat spot of turf, as green and fragrant as an English lawn, although yearly washed by the wild salt billows of the rough Atlantic, and never touched by spade or ploughshare. Then there was the lighting of a fire in the skeö, and the boiling of potatoes, and the infusing of tea. And when all these preparations where almost complete, Yaspard stood upon a knoll and blew lustily on his "Looder-horn" a signal agreed upon, and which brought all the scattered party together near the flag-staff.

When they were all assembled, some casting very longing looks towards the banquet so invitingly spread on snowy linen with a border of emerald grass, others looking with some curiosity at the young host and master of ceremonies, Fred said, "I've got a little speech to make, friends, if you will have patience to hear me. I have a little present to give to the little queen of our revels, and I can't do so without the little speech."

"Hear! hear!" from some of the listeners, and one (his sister Isobel, be it known) said loud enough for all to hear—

"There was a little man,
And he had a little gift
For to give unto a little little maiden, oh."

Fred shook his head at her. "Don't spoil my eloquence, Bell! I won't say much, you may be sure."

He drew a paper from his pocket, and the smile on his bright handsome face deepened into a wonderful resemblance to the chastened gracious light which had given so much attraction to his father's countenance. There was much, too, of his father's dignity and ease in his air, and tears sprang to many eyes as that striking likeness was noted.

"His father's son, dear lad!" the Yarl whispered to Mrs. Holtum, who could only look up with quivering lips in reply.

"My friends," Fred resumed, in graver tones, "you know why we are all here to-day. We meet to rejoice over little Signy's preservation, and we meet here to thank God who made this little holme a havn[1] for her. It was well named Havnholme. It has given shelter to many a storm-tossed bark. The tiny bay yonder has ever been the one safe shelter amid the breakers and billows which surround both Lunda and Boden. There is no other haven of refuge between your island, Mr. Adiesen, and mine, and we unite to-day in thanking God that little Signy was saved on Havnholme. In time past, my friends, the cross-currents were too much for some of the human barks that were out for life's voyage, and they swamped among the skerries instead of finding the calm shelter of this islet. We—that is, Mr. Adiesen and myself—are so thankful to-day, that we have agreed that the best expression of our gratitude will be a conferring of all our rights in Havnholme upon the little lady who is queen of our party. Little Signy, you are to be henceforth sole owner of Havnholme! This paper is the legal document transferring to you this island as the free gift of your uncle and myself. But there is another and more interesting method of assuming the rights of property; and, my friends, we purpose that Signy Adiesen, Esquiress, of Havnholme, shall 'turn turf' after the old Shetland manner. I have loosened one or two sods here, so that she will be able to turn them easily.

"There is just one small thing more to say. A number of you heard me, as captain of a crew of sea-rovers, advise Yaspard Adiesen to sail under this royal old flag, this fair tricoloured cross, and to make the black badge of Thor into a pall! Yaspard has agreed to my proposal.

"His little sister possessed a doll which seems to have been an ill-omened creature all its days. Its legs and arms were always coming off, its eyes have been renewed many times, but never kept their position without a squint. It was often lost; it frequently fell on people's toes, bruising them and wounding the feelings of inoffending mortals. It was an evilly-disposed doll evidently, and received the name of the 'Feud.' This doll died the day Signy went to ransom the Viking. It died by the deed of Pirate, who, finding it in a place where it ought not to have been, bore it to his hold, as any other pirate would, and gnawed the life out of it!

"Well, my friends, our Viking has shrouded the doll Feud in his black flag, and the turf Signy turns will cover its grave! And now my little speech is ended."

Amid the wildest of cheers and the happiest of smiles Yaspard deposited the doll Feud, rolled up in his Viking flag, in the hole which Fred had dug; and when it was almost levelled up, Signy took the spade and deftly "turned turf" as directed. A few pats with the flat side of the spade soon put the turf in proper position; and when the grave of Miss Feud was finished, Yaspard flung his cap in the air and shouted, "Death to all feuds! So perish all the queen's enemies!"

"The feud is dead! Long live Queen Signy!" cried Fred, lifting the little girl in his arms; and then Bill Mitchell terminated the proceedings by calling out, "I vote we go to dinner now, or Thor will have demolished the best part of it."

To be sure, Thor, taking advantage of such an excellent opportunity, when no eye was upon him (for Pirate had slunk to his master's feet when the doll was produced, thinking that his misdemeanour was about to be declared and punished, and had no attention to bestow on a marauder), had hopped on to the table-cloth, and was rapidly investigating the "spread" with an eye to future confiscation. Fortunately, Bill was more interested in the food than in the feud, and gave notice of Thor's depredation in time to prevent any serious calamity to the dinner.

Everybody hastened to the level ground, and were soon seated and busy over the good things which Mrs. Garson had provided with her usual consideration of individual tastes and necessities. When the more serious part of the meal was concluded, and tea and fruit was circulating, there was a great cry for Garth's ballad of the Boden boy who long years before had come to a tragic end in Lunda. So the young scald modestly, but with capital effect, recited his story of


"Where the sod is seldom trodden,
Where the haunted hillocks lie,
Where the lonely Hel-ya Water
Looks up darkly to the sky;
Where the daala mists forgather,[3]
Where the plovers make complaint,
Where the stray or timid vaigher[4]
Calls upon his patron saint;

Where the waves of Hel-ya Water
Fret around a rugged isle,
Where the bones of Yarl Magnus
Lie below a lichened pile,
There the raven found a refuge,
There he reared his savage brood;
And the young lambs from the scattald
Were the nestlings' dainty food.

Year by year the Viking's raven
Made that mystic spot his rest;
Year by year within the eyot
Brooded he as on a nest;
And no man would ever venture
To invade the lone domain
Where in solitary scheming
The grim bird of doom did reign.

It was Yule-time, and the Isles' folk
Sained[5] the children by their fires;
Lit the yatlin,[6] filled the daffock,[7]
As of ealdon did their sires.
There was wassail in each dwelling,
And the song and dance went round;
And the laugh, the jest, the music,
Rose above the tempest's sound.

Ho! the winds are raging wildly,
Ho! the thunders are awake—
Tis the night when trows[8] have licence
Over saitor,[9] hill, and brake.
Power is theirs on land and water,
While the Yule-star leads the night;
For where trows may trice their circlet
There they claim exclusive right.

Yelling round the Hel-ya Water,
Sobbing by its eyot drear,
Screaming with the tempest-furies,
Over hillock, over mere;
On the wings of silent snow-flakes,
On the bulwands[10] from the rill,
By the haunted Hel-ya Water
Flit those heralds of all ill.

There the dismal bird of boding
Is exulting with the storm.
Who will dare to-night, and conquer
The old raven's sable form?
Who will venture to the vatn,[11]
Where the phantoms of unrest
Set their weird and magic signet
On each knoll and wavelet's crest?

See, young Yaspard's eye is blazing,
With the fires so fleet and free:
Come of Magnus, yarl and sea-king,
Son of Norland scald is he:
Well he knows the gruesome story
Of that evil-omened bird,
And of trows and vengeful demons
He hath dreamed and he hath heard.

But his heart is hot and steadfast,
And his hands are strong to try;
He will dare with fiends to combat—
He will dare, and he will die.
Forth against the howling tempest,
Forth against each evil power,
Wild and reckless, went young Yaspard
In a dark unguarded hour.

Cold the surf of Hel-ya Water
Breaks around the Norseman's grave,
And the boy is lifted rudely
By each charmed and chafing wars.
Now he struggles boldly onward,
Now he nears the haunted isle,
Where in grim and boding silence
Waits the bird of woe and wile.

Fain is Yaspard to encounter
That fierce harbinger of gloom—
Fain to dare the spells of magic,
Fain to foil the wrath of doom.
Hark! the solitary raven
Croaks a note of death and pain,
And a human call defiant
Answers from the flood again.


Morning breaks: a snow-drift cover
All the drear deserted earth;
In young Yaspard's home is weeping,
Quenched the fire upon his hearth.
But he broke the spells of evil,
And he found a hero's grave.
When you pass the Hel-ya Water
Cast a pebble to its wave." [12]

[1] Haven.

[2] Holy lake.

[3] Lowland mists meet each other.

[4] Wanderer.

[5] Guarded by Christian rites from evil spirits, who are supposed to have great licence at Yule.

[6] Candles used on festive occasions.

[7] Water bucket which was always required to be full of clean water at Yule.

[8] Trolls.

[9] Plains or pasture-land.

[10] Bullrushes which trows are supposed to use as aerial horses.

[11] Fresh-water lake.

[12] When passing any haunted water people cast therein a stone to appease the troubled spirits.



"What a capital job you've made of the story," quoth Yaspard when Garth had finished. "I feel as if I ought to thank you in the name of my great-grand-uncle."

"Just so! Bad boy! Uncle! uncle! uncle!" said Thor from a hillock close by. He spoke so very distinctly, and as if he understood every word, that even the elderly ladies of the party gazed in a sort of awe at the uncanny bird.

"Come here, Thor!" Mr. Adiesen called out, extending a tempting bit of chicken towards Sir Raven, who immediately obeyed the invitation, and hopped to his master's knee. "Why, you old rascal," the scientist went on, "I believe you are the great-grand-nephew of that raven of Hel-ya Water fame; indeed, if I had not taken you myself from the nest when you were only half-fledged, and I was a boy, I would believe that you were the identical bird of the legend."

"If Thor lives as long as the former Thor did," said Mr. Neeven, "he will be over a century when he dies. You remember that fellow, Brüs?"

Of course Mr. Adieson remembered his grandfather's raven, who had been the spy and plague of the lives of both Gaun and Brüs (when they were children), and whom they believed was possessed of an evil spirit.

The conversation drifted into chat about pet birds, until some of the restless young people proposed a rowing match around the island, and out of that project sprang another.

"I should like," said Fred, "to take the little lady of the isle around it in the Mermaid first. She really ought to be the first to circumnavigate Havnholme. Will you trust her in my boat, Miss Adiesen?"

"I suppose it is quite safe?" Aunt Osla asked by way of reply; and Signy answered, "I shall be as safe in the Mermaid as I was on Arab."

"Perhaps Mr. Adiesen will accompany us, to make safety safer," Fred suggested; and the girl seconded his proposal by a "Yes, please, Uncle Brüs."

The old gentleman agreed, and away they went; and Dr. Holtum said aside to the minister that nothing more satisfactory had he ever witnessed than the sailing round Havnholme of those two men together, with so sweet a bond between them as fair little Signy.

When the long, happy day was nearing its close, and the party was preparing to embark, Isobel Garson said, "I didn't like to spoil Fred's beautiful oration and funereal ceremonies with any small idea of my own, but now perhaps I may be allowed to suggest that we each take a beach stone and cast it on those 'turned' sods, and so erect a cairn in memory of this day."

"A capital suggestion, my dear!" said Mr. Adiesen, who had taken quite a fancy to Isobel, whose bright, high-spirited ways attracted him very much, and he was ready to second any suggestion she might offer.

"Good for you, Isobel!" exclaimed her brother; "but I don't see why we need confine ourselves to one stone each. Let us make the cairn a good big one, boys."

In a short time a considerable heap of round, smooth stones from the shore were piled over the sepulchre of the feud, and Yaspard remarked, "There never was a fend strong enough to escape from under that big rougue."

"Shoo! shoo! shoo! Uncle!" screamed Thor, quite impatient over such (to him) meaningless proceedings. Then, despairing of convincing anybody there that they ought to go home, he spread his great wings and deliberately sailed away through the air to Boden.

"Thor is right for once," said Dr. Holtum, "and it is quite time we were all on the wing for our homes; so, shoo! shoo! shoo!" and he put out his hands, as if he were driving away a flock of birds, with the result that every one "made tracks" for the boats.

There was a good deal of whispering between Yaspard and the Manse boys before they parted; and there was a very significant "Good-bye," from the Yarl of Broch. He had kept our Viking-boy very much with him throughout the day, and had quite enchanted him by suggesting a scheme which contained the germ of much exciting adventure, although there was no enemy to meet or circumvent. And this scheme must have been on Viking lines, if we may judge from old Hoskald Halsen's farewell words to Yaspard.

"Now mind, boy," he shouted, as the Osprey parted company from the other boats, "mind you think it well out, and come to Burra Wick. No Viking should sail from a legitimate voe. Garth and I spell 'wick' with a 'v' and no 'c' in it, remember."

"Oh, brodhor, are you to go a-Vikinging still?" Signy asked in an ecstatic whisper; and our hero, squeezing her close to him, answered, "Yes, Mootie, thanks to that jolly old brick! I don't believe I should ever have thought of his plan. It is even better than mine, for it has got no enemy in it, but the chance of ever so many adventures."

A pleasant breeze had sprung up, so there was no rowing to do on the homeward voyage. Mr. Adiesen was steering, and Aunt Osla was napping, rolled up in shawls. Mr. Neeven had unbent considerably during the day, and was talking to his cousin with an unusual degree of cheerfulness. The Harrison boys were amusing themselves over a wooden puzzle which Harry Mitchell had invented and given them. Thus Yaspard and his sister could talk confidentially together without being overheard. He was as eager to tell her of the new project as she was to listen, and before long they had not only discussed the Yarl's scheme, but had built on it a vast structure of romantic adventure.

"It has been the very happiest of days, this," said Signy when they reached the quay; "but even happiness makes one tired, and so I am glad to be home. I shall be asleep like winkie as soon as I get into bed."

"Not so your roving brother," quoth Yaspard; "I have other things to do than sleep," and he grimaced at Lowrie, who grinned back a perfect understanding of the mysterious allusion; but Signy by that time was too sleepy to pay further attention, so followed Miss Adiesen to Moolapund, and was soon resting in dreamless repose in her own room.

Meanwhile Yaspard and the Harrisons politely offered to row the Osprey to the head of the voe with Mr. Neeven, and he—with less than his usual sharp suspicion—agreed. He even thanked them as he stepped ashore, and he strode up the hill without once looking back. If he had done so he would have seen that the boat did not pass beyond the Hoobes, but stopped near there, where the old water-mill was located by the side of a burn whose spring was far up the hill-side. They fastened the boat, and went into the mill-house, where a quantity of last year's straw and chaff was heaped. On this the three lads flung themselves and were soon fast asleep. And there the Harrisons would have slept on till breakfast time if Yaspard had not roused them shortly after midnight.

"Up, boys, up!" he said, as he shook himself. "It is high time we were off; and I hope fule-Tammy is as sound asleep now as you have been for the last five minutes."

From that mention of Tammy you will guess that another raid on Trullyabister was proposed. The fact was, Yaspard had made one quiet visit to the old ruin by himself, and had found that the things they secreted in the old chimney had disappeared. From a remark of Tammy's, Lowrie had concluded that the "natural" had discovered their hiding-place, and had abstracted the articles in question. It would have been a simple matter to ask the truth and claim the property, but that course was not the one a Viking-boy was at all likely to approve. Hence the present "lark."

The three conspirators were not long in reaching the old Ha'house, and as the back door was never locked, they easily gained admission.

Tammy slept in a small chamber beside the kitchen, and at a distance from the rooms inhabited by his master, therefore the lads were not much afraid of being heard even if the recluse had not gone to sleep.

But Gaun Neeven was asleep, and so was Tammy, "like a top, and snoring too like one," whispered Yaspard as he led the way. Tammy did not even move when they gently and deftly tied his hands together, and put a not uncomfortable gag over his mouth, and he only snored a little louder, but did not wake, when they lifted him up. (Tammy always went to bed with a complete suit of clothes on, which he kept for the purpose, saying he did not see why a "puir body" should not be as decently clothed all night as all day.) They carried him to the ruined apartment with which we are already acquainted. I ought to have mentioned that Yaspard had provided masks for himself and his companions. These were made of brown paper, painted to resemble tatooed savages, and had been put on as they came up from the mill, so that Tammy should not recognise his assailants.

But Tammy was far more cute in many ways than he got credit for being; and though astonished when the cool air and a few gentle shakes woke him up, he was not frightened by the hideous visages; even the feigned voices did not deceive him. But he was wise enough to pretend ignorance of their identity, and stared a well-acted credulity.

"What have you done with what you found in that chimney?" Yaspard demanded in assumed tones, which did not deceive Tammy, however. "We are Vikings, and hid our property in that receptacle. Woe to the person who crosses our path! Moreover, our allies left weapons of war in this apartment, and it is our business to restore them to their owners. Tell now what you have done with these hoards."

How could Tammy tell? He could only shake his head and nod in the direction of the haunted room.

"Is the property there?" Yaspard asked, and Tammy nodded again. "Then you must take us through the house to that room, for I happen to know that the way through the passage is now built up with stones and mortar. I suppose you did that, you duffer!"

Tammy nodded again; and then Gibbie remarked, "He wad be put to the job by Mr. Neeven."

He spoke unwittingly in his natural voice, and was admonished by a vigorous nudge from Lowrie; while Yasgard, still addressing their captive, said, "Lead on, we follow! and for your life make no noise."

Tammy obediently returned to the house, and showed a way from his kitchen to the haunted room.



There they found, carefully arranged, all the miscellaneous articles which they had conveyed to Trullyabister on the night of their first raid upon it. There too were the things brought by the Laulie's crew, when engaged upon Tom's "deed of high emprise." The Lunda boys had been too ashamed at their defeat to say one word about their property to Mr. Neeven, but they had spoken of it to Yaspard, and had been somewhat comforted by his assurance that all they had lost should be restored before long.

Our Viking eyed the confiscated articles with infinite satisfaction, before instructing his followers how to deal with it. "But time must not be wasted," said he in a moment. "I believe the ogre to be a very sleepless creature, and he may soon rise to wander after his usual style; so let's make haste."

They stowed everything into their keschies, and what could not go there was packed in the Laulie's "spare canvas," or suspended from their belts; while Tammy watched the proceedings with profound interest.

When they were ready to depart the marauders conveyed Tammy to his kitchen, and left him seated comfortably in his favourite corner, assured that he would sit there till Mr. Neeven should get up. They were well aware that Tammy would allow the kitchen to be burned about his ears before he would venture to disturb the recluse in his chamber.

I may mention here that it happened as they supposed it would, and it was not until his breakfast-hour arrived, and Mr. Neeven came to discover why Tammy was not stirring, that he found the "natural" sitting sleeping, gagged and bound!

When aroused, released, and able to speak, Tammy said, "It wis yon filskit moniments o' boys, sir. But they've taken no' a vestige that wis no' their ain. They'll be far enough by this time; and puir Tammy is thinking that there's no' muckle use in trying tae get the better o' the likes o' them."

"You are about right for once," replied his master, as he turned away, saying to himself, "Boys are certainly more than a match for men in the exercise of their wits."

Meanwhile the Osprey had gone to Gloy's geo, and deposited on a safe ledge of rock all which our Viking-boys had carried away from Trullyabister; and when that was done the marauders returned to their homes.

At the breakfast-table Yaspard said to his uncle, "The Yarl of Broch asked me to come to Burra Isle to-day, if you have no objections. The Lunda boys are to be there. It's to be only a boy party, not like the picnic."

"When the young braves go forth alone," replied Mr. Adiesen, in a bantering tone, which showed he was in excellent good-humour, and likely to give the required permission, "when the warriors embark without the companionship of women, there are perilous tasks to be performed. May a mere humdrum person inquire what knightly deed a modern Viking proposes, and what is to be the result of 'only a boy party'?"

"We are going to have some jolly fun—of Mr. Halsen's planning; but it would spoil it to tell beforehand."

"I can leave the responsibility on Mr. Halsen," answered Uncle Brüs; "he understands what boys need and like."

"I shall want to stay some—days. It might be a whole week; and I need the Harrison boys and the Osprey, of course. I would also like to take Thor as well as Pirate, if you please, uncle."

"You will want clean collars and socks," said Miss Osla.

"No, thank you, auntie. I shall not take any luggage with me, only what I need in——"

"Of course," she interrupted, "you won't want a lot of clothes, only what is needful;" and the good lady went off as soon as breakfast was over to pack a bag for Yaspard, who was obliged to take it with him.

"I can leave it at Broch anyway," he said to Signy as he stowed the bag aboard. She had carried it to the quay, and was watching him get ready for his expedition.

"Then are you going farther than to Broch?" she asked; and, under pledge of secrecy, the girl was told the whole scheme, which delighted her.

"Oh, what a fine time he will have! It is so nice to be a boy!" Signy said to herself, as she slowly turned from the shore when the Osprey took wing.

When the Boden boat reached the geo she was stopped while Gibbie went ashore, and brought all the odds and ends recaptured at Trullyabister. These were stowed beside the basket containing Thor, who made known to all concerned how little he relished being in durance vile by occasional bursts of angry speech and vindictive snaps, through his prison bars, at whatever came within reach. Once it was Lowrie's jacket tails, another time it was Gibbie's sleeve; but what pleased Thor best was when he got a chance at Pirate's ear.

Our Viking-boy received the warmest of welcomes when he arrived at Burra Wick. The Lunda boys were there, and had brought a parcel for him from Fred, which, upon being opened, was discovered to be a fine field-glass, such as Yaspard had long wished to possess, and a beautiful silk flag embroidered by Isobel.

He did not know which to admire and value most; yet I think the letter of manly kind advice and friendship which accompanied these gifts was cherished still more; for I know that when the faded flag was stowed away—long years afterwards—in an old bureau, and the field-glass had been lost on a wild Western prairie, Yaspard still kept lying near his heart the words of love and Christian counsel written to him by his boyhood hero in the golden days of youth and dreams.

The rest of that day was spent at Broch—delightfully spent, we know, since the Yarl was host.

Gerta and Amy were extremely kind to the boys, although they were only the "young ones," and not to be compared with their elder brothers. But Yaspard was more attracted to Garth than to the girls. He had been abroad with Mr. Congreve, and had the most interesting stories to tell of the northern lands he had visited. Then his books of travel and legend, how bewitching they were! While Harry Mitchell revelled in Garth's specimens, Yaspard pored over his books, and could scarcely be torn from them.

"Oh, Harry," he said, "wouldn't you like his chance of going away and discovering all sorts of places and things?"

"I'll make a chance of the sort for myself," replied Harry, in his usual quiet, determined way, which meant never less than "act to follow word."

"It would be fine, glorious!" Yaspard mused; then shutting the "Wanderings of Waterton" with a clap, he exclaimed, "We'll do it, Harry—you and I—some day. We will go off as the Vikings did, and explore the world."

"As you are going to-morrow, eh?" said Garth.

"Boys play at what men achieve," answered Harry.

And then was begun a dream which Yaspard and Harry realised in later years.

In the evening, Amy, seeing Yaspard still hankering after Garth's Scandinavian travels and lore, said, "Do, Garth, read us what you have written about the Jews and the Norsemen. I am so fond of that little bit. I suppose because my family was of Jewish extraction."

"I believe it was composed in compliment to you," laughed Gerta, bringing a blush to the sensitive young author's face by her words. But his father seconded Amy's request, so Garth read—

"There are two races of men who have retained their peculiar characteristics through long ages and through many vicissitudes. They have wandered over the whole globe, and become part of almost every people now existing. They have conquered and been conquered. Their blood has mixed with that of all the other tribes of earth. As independent nations they no longer exist, and yet the personality of the Jew and the Norseman is as distinct to-day as it was when they were mighty ruling powers on the earth.

"The Egyptian of old, the Greek and Goth, where are they now? They have left grand memories, but have become 'mixed races,' and the peoples of to-day who bear their names have few, or any, of their attributes.

"Not so have the wandering Arab and the restless Scandinavian obeyed the law of nature that says—

'The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.'

"Like the two currents that roll side by side in one channel, distinct in their nature, those two great races have come down the ages bearing to all lands and all peoples a God-derived power and a God-given message. They have not been lost in each other; and in blending with those among whom they dwelt they have yet never ceased to leave indelible traces, which have made them recognisable always. They have absorbed, but never been absorbed.

"When our hearts thrill to some glowing page of Eastern imagery, when we listen enraptured to some sacred song, some impassioned speech of one filled with religious fervour; when we read of suffering borne patiently, of fortitude unequalled amid awful tribulation, of quiet perseverance conquering difficulty—we recognise the strength of the Hebrew race. When we are told of some venturesome band daring the dangers of iceberg and darkness in penetrating to the secret haunts of Nature; when we learn that gallant seamen are guiding civilisation to the farthest corners of the earth, are doing deeds of heroism that stir our deepest feelings of reverence; when we know that our explorers and sailors laugh at peril and face death without fear; when we see numbers of our boys, from the prince who stands by the throne to the city outcast who begs at our door, prefer and seek sea-life rather than any other—we acknowledge with pride that the power of our sea-king sires is dominant yet.

"The Jew and the Norseman have surely been chosen of Heaven to keep the human race from degenerating, for the soul of the Jew rules our moral being, and the spirit of the Norseman controls our intellectual nature. The nursery of our faith was the tent of an Arab shiek, and the cradle of our fame was the bark of a northern Viking."



"Well, boys, I suppose you want to be off early," said the Yarl next morning, when he came in for breakfast and found his young guests in a ferment of excitement asking each other, "Where did you put the knives?" "Have you remembered matches?" "I vote we take a whole ham with us." "You've left out the log-book." "For goodness' sake, somebody carry a pencil."

"You look like business, on my word," their host added, smiling; "and I wish I were a boy too."

"Never mind, sir; come with us all the same," cried Yaspard, but old Halsen shook his head.

"The glamour of boyhood is wanting. I could not enjoy such a voyage of adventure and exploring in the right way now. But I shall want to hear all about it; so mind you use Garth's note-book and keep an accurate log."

"I'll see to that," quoth Harry; and Tom added, "I do the messing, and Harry does the writing."

When all preparations were made, the Yarl insisted that they should march to the shore in proper style, with Yaspard walking in front carrying his new flag, hoisted for the occasion on Mr. Halsen's walking-stick.

It was a lovely flag indeed. Isobel had been working on it for a long time, intending it for Fred, but he had asked that it might be given to his young friend, and she willingly agreed.

The device was not uncommon, but Isobel's artistic fancy had made it a perfect work of art. It was the figure of a youth clad in armour holding high in his right hand a white cross with "Onward" worked in gold letters upon it.

The flag was blue, with a crimson star in the corner; and altogether any prince might have been proud to start upon a high quest under such a banner.

The two girls accompanied the procession, we may be sure; and many were Gerta's injunctions to "take care of yourselves, and don't be foolhardy."

Just as the good-byes were being said, Thor called out from his basket, "Uncle, uncle! Bad, bad, bad!"

"Why on earth have you taken that uncanny fowl with you?" Amy Congreve asked.

"You ought to know by this time," said Garth, speaking for our Viking-boy, "that the sea-rovers never went out to maraud or explore without the bird of Odin."

"I shouldn't like to have a creature like that calling out 'Bad, bad!' as I started on a voyage of discovery. It is not a good omen," Amy replied in lower tones, which did not reach the ears of the young adventurers, for their boat was off, and the Yarl and Garth were cheering the Osprey as it slid away from the land.

"What very odd fancies that boy has!" Mr. Halsen remarked as they returned to the house. "Some of his notions are almost childish at the first glance one takes—so simple, and full of the exaggerated fancy of a mere child. But soon one finds the germ of the right kind of stuff in all his fancies; and he carries them out with the shrewd common sense, the cool determination, energy, and daring of a grown man. It is a strange mixture."

"It is a mixture that makes a fascinating character, uncle," said Gerta. "I like Yaspard Adiesen very much just because of that child-way and man-manner he has. He will do something grand one of these days."

Yaspard thought he was doing something grand that very day, you may be sure. He was started on an exploring expedition: and when we remember that the Shetland group consists of over one hundred islands, large and small; that many of these have seldom been visited by any one, some never trod by human foot, and the greater number uninhabited save by the wild birds and sea creatures, we will see that our hero's voyage was not unlikely to be one of discovery and adventure.

Some other time I will give you the Osprey's log, carefully kept by Harry Mitchell, who every evening recorded all the day's doings, however trivial these had been. Many of their adventures were so startling that he might well have been excused if his attention had been occasionally diverted from this duty; but that diary was a model of faithful discharging of a promise given to more than one of the dear home friends, whose thoughts we know were with the Viking-boys. At present I can only tell you a small part of what happened during the week which the Osprey spent in cruising among the lonely skerries and holmes of Hialtland.

More than once our lads had spoken a haaf-boat, and sent messages to Lunda, from whence Fred had taken care to despatch the news, "Osprey spoken. All well," to Boden and Burra Isle.

They never landed on any inhabited spot, but preferred to camp for the night on some lofty rock, whose steep sides they had to scale at the risk of their bones, or on some green holme, where the waves lapped round the place of their rest, tossing spray on them as they slept.

They always kept a watch, knowing from past experience how swiftly the squalls arise. It would be no joke, they knew, if their boat were caught by the sea in some geo while they slept on the high rock above; and well they knew that a very little increase of wind would cause the waves to wash them from the low holmes in a moment. They kept a wary eye on the weather, and always contrived to have a safe port to lee when atmospheric disturbance threatened.

They gathered a strange, even valuable, collection of curiosities in various departments of science; nothing escaped Harry in the shape of plant-life, shells, or geological specimens, and the others followed his example in other lines. A great many rare and beautiful curiosities were brought up on the fishing-line. Tom Holtum came to grief more than once climbing after birds' nests, and Bill Mitchell had to be rescued from drowning again and again in consequence of his ardour in pursuit of wreckage.

There are always mournful trophies of the power of ocean to be found floating around those isles, and our young adventurers were frequently reminded of this by discovering oars, planks, casks, or other flotsam, which had belonged to some lost ship that had disappeared for ever.

I ought to tell you that Thor was not kept a prisoner in his basket all this time. Yaspard knew that the bird would remain by him and the well-known boat when all familiar land-marks were beyond his ken, therefore he was allowed to hop about as he so pleased. Being always well fed and caressed, Thor began to think that a voyage of discovery had something to recommend it on the whole, and was in a very amiable frame of mind all the time. Indeed, so much did he show himself attached to the Osprey and her roving crew, that some of them began to think he would not be inclined to leave them even when they might wish him to do so. For be it known that Yaspard meant to send Thor home before him with a message, and had told Signy to look every day for the coming of the raven.

When they had been out a week, and had led a most delightful Robinson Crusoe life, they found that their provisions were getting near an end; as the Yarl had advised their return about that time, therefore he had not supplied them with more than a week's food. The store had been supplemented by many a fine catch of fish, as well as shell-fish; but the lads were healthy and hungry, and had not spared the ferdimet. They might have landed near some cottages and renewed their supplies, but such a prosaic and ordinary method was scouted by all. Besides, they had agreed to return as advised about that time; so the homeward voyage was begun, not without some regret, but with many a resolution that this should only be the first of many such expeditions.

They sailed steadily onwards all that day without turning once aside, though many a tempting islet lay by their course. When the evening drew near they were well in sight of the Heogue and the hills of Lunda; while, not far away on their lee, rose the cliffs of Burra Isle.

"Suppose we land for the night on Swarta Stack?" said Harry. "It is a good-sized place, and has a first-rate geo where our boat can lie as snug as possible."

"Swarta Stack gets a bad name for mair raisons than ane," Gloy Winwick remarked, as the Osprey made for the island, according to Harry's suggestions.

"Is it haunted?" Gibbie asked.

"I dinna ken aboot that," replied his cousin. "The minister tells us it's a' nonsense aboot haunted places and the like; but it's said that Swarta Stack was an ill place when the folk were no' ower particular o' the way they got prül[1] frae the sea."

"You mean there were wreckers hereabout?" Yaspard asked, and Gloy answered, "I've heard sae."

"I wish I could meet them. I just wish I could catch a wrecker at his evil work. Wouldn't I pitch into him!" exclaimed the Viking-boy; whereat Harry, laughing, said, "That's all done with now. Wreckers went after the Vikings, didn't they?"

"With the exception of fule-Tammy," retorted Yaspard.

"And yourself," said Tom.

"Maybe they left as bad behind them," Yaspard said quickly. "Men who cheat in trade, who scamp work, evade taxes, rack-rent the poor, are no better than pirates and wreckers."

"Here we are at the Stack," Harry exclaimed. "Look out there with the sail! Captain, mind your helm. There now; you nearly had her aground! I declare we've skimmed over a bau!—we may thank our stars we didn't capsize on it—all through your jabber about wreckers who left this planet a century ago."

They landed on Swarta Stack, and made themselves comfortable for the night not far from the geo where the Osprey was moored. It was too late to explore the Stack that night, so after supper all rolled themselves up in rugs, as had been their wont for a week, and were soon in the mysterious land of dreamless sleep.

[1] Odds and ends, or plunder.



Our boys woke up early next morning, for a chill wind sweeping over Swarta Stack was as effectual a rouser as the dressing-bell.

When fully awake they looked (as if led by one instinct) to the open sea, for from thence was coming the deep mournful moaning which precedes a storm.

"Mither," said Gloy, "wad say that the sea was sending its warning tae wiz."

"We will certainly pay heed to that warning," answered Yaspard, "as soon as we have had breakfast. Let's look alive, boys, and get our fire up as fast as we can, for there's going to be a gale before night, and we should be at Broch then."

"The Osprey won't take long to run into Burra Wick," said Tom; "and we must make a jolly good breakfast here before returning to civilised life."

"There will be time to inspect the Stack, I hope," Harry remarked. "We must have a full report of this isle that has a bad name, according to Gloy."

They lit their fire, and boiled the last of their potatoes, brewed the last of their tea, and finished the biscuits and ham.

"Not much to carry back," one said, and another added, "I shouldn't like to be left on a skerry now that the ferdimet is all but done."

When breakfast was ended no time was lost in starting for a tour round Swarta Stack, which is a lofty island about a mile long, very picturesque in outline, and surrounded by lesser islands, as well as isolated rocks, which are the terror of all who know them. The lads found a great deal to interest them in the Stack; but their main object was to find the caves which tradition said had been the abode of lawless men in olden times.

There was one large cavern in a cliff easily found and well known; but that was not the Wrecker's Den, for the sea came into it, and in stormy weather filled its vast solitudes with the body and voice of many waters. This cave, however, was supposed to communicate with one inland, as many helyers[1] do, and our boys were determined to discover the hidden abode.

For a long time the search was a vain one; but at last an idea was suggested to Harry, who had halted by a small cairn.

"Boys," he said, "I should not wonder if we are on a wrong tack looking for a natural cave. It is more likely that the wreckers' den was a place dug out of the earth by themselves."

"That was a common dodge long ago," quoth Yaspard; and Tom added, "We got a good illustration of that sort of thing in the old Broch of Burra Isle."

"And you are thinking, Harry," Yaspard exclaimed, "that this cairn may cover some portion of the den—perhaps be the entrance to it?"

Harry nodded, and after a careful inspection of the rougue, remarked, "I think we shall find something here; but we must not come to grief in a ruin, as Garth Halsen did when he dug into the old Broch."

They went to work with a will, and soon removed the cairn and laid bare what was evidently the entrance to a vault of some sort. The mouth of the pit was covered by two enormous stones, and it took a long time to remove these; but so interested were the adventurers in their investigations, that they forgot the warning of the sea and the rising of the wind.

"It is curious," said Harry, peering into the dark pit at their feet, "that there seems no foul air to speak of down there, and yet I don't see any speck of light that would indicate a passage to the outer world."

"Might the way not be curved, or sufficiently blocked to exclude light?" Yaspard suggested; and Harry frankly answered, "Of course. You are wiser than I. Has any one got a match in his pocket?"

Matches were produced, and a piece of paper was lighted; but such a meagre illumination revealed nothing beyond the fact that the vault seemed a large one, and roughly built round with a rude kind of masonry.

Bill was despatched to the boat for candles—which you may remember were part of the "prül" that Yaspard hid in the chimney; but the impatience of his companions to learn more would not allow them to wait on his return before descending into the chamber. They could see that there was solid ground some seven or eight feet beneath the opening, and Harry swung down, and soon reported himself as standing on a "decently paved floor;" but he was too cautious to explore farther until some light was thrown on the subject. Not so Tom Holtum. He did not see the fun in waiting for candles, and down he jumped beside Harry.

"There's an awful draught here," he exclaimed. "There must be passages and perhaps other rooms knocking around. I vote we explore," and without listening a moment to Harry's warning, Tom made for a part of the vault from whence the current of air proceeded.

"You are extremely foolish, Tom," said Harry.

"You are a timid ca——" Tom began to reply, but was cut short. With an exclamation he suddenly disappeared; and next moment a fall and a groan told, not only Harry but those above ground, that an accident had taken place.

By that time Bill was back with the candles, and Yaspard hastened to join Harry. After him came the others, as fast as they could, and all gathered around Harry, who by that time stood with a lighted candle in his hand over the mouth of a dark hole, peering down and calling, "Tom! old chap." But "Tom! old chap" made no response, and all attempts to hold the light over the opening proved futile, as a current of air rushing upward put it out.

The lads gazed into each other's white, terror-stricken faces with mute fear. The darkness and silence were enough to appal any one; but the courage of our Viking-boy rose to the occasion.

"He must be awfully hurt, poor chap," he said, "and we must do our best to find and help him. What do you suggest, Harry? I'll do anything."

"Some one must be lowered with a rope," answered the wise head of the party.

"That some one is me," was Yaspard's prompt reply. "Get your rope, boys."

They always carried ropes with them. "We can do nothing without a rope," they would say. But the ropes had been dropped, of course, on the turf above, and the emergency which had made all hurry into the vault had caused them to neglect providing for an easy ascent again. The only thing to do was for two to hoist a third on their shoulders so that he could get his hands on the aperture and thus clamber out. Lowrie was chosen as the messenger to the outer world, and Harry said to him when shoving him aloft, "Drop us one rope at once, but fix the other to a boulder and slide down by it. That will give us help in scrambling out of here."

The rope was soon in their hands, and Yaspard, seizing the end, tied it round his waist, while Harry instructed him how to strike a light when lowered, and what signals to make to those above. In breathless excitement they stood around that gruesome hole, and slowly lowered their young leader into its dark and gaping jaws. Lower, lower; and the rope was almost all paid out when a sharp jerk told (as agreed upon) that Yaspard had reached the bottom.

"Not so deep as I feared," Harry whispered with a sigh of relief.

Then there came a sudden flare of light, which showed that Yaspard was trying to illumine the scene; but it was extinguished again directly. Again and again he tried, but evidently in vain. Then came darkness and silence as before. But after a little time of fearful suspense the rope was jerked twice, and Yaspard was hauled up again.

"What of Tom?" Harry asked as soon as Yaspard's head appeared in sight; but Yaspard did not reply until he was standing beside them. Then he said, "He is lying there senseless, but he is alive."

"Oh, your hands!" Bill screamed, and all eyes turned on Yaspard's hands, which were red with blood.

"Tom is badly hurt. I put my hands on his face and chest," explained too surely that horrible sign. "There is no keeping a match or candle alight down there. The wind is rushing through it as if it were a funnel," Yaspard went on, "and I can't think how he is to be got out."

"Bill," said Harry, with the imperious decision which he always assumed in any emergency, where one cool head was worth a score of able undirected hands, "Bill, you run for your life to the boat again. Bring the tar-pot and a stick or two, the potato bag, and a towel, and a can of water; some more rope, if you can find it handy. Gloy, go with him to help carry; and mind, both of you, Tom's life is possibly depending on your speed. Don't forget anything. Keep your wits clear."

The two little chaps were off without a moment's delay, scudding across the Stack, and too engrossed with their errand and its urgency to note the rising storm, which had set the white horses rampant on the deep and driven the sea-birds to the Stack in clamouring crowds.

Meanwhile Harry said, "Undo that rope, Yaspard. I will go down this time. I can probably be of more use to him than you. You can follow with those things when the chaps return. And look you, Lowrie, be canny in lowering him, and in your management of the rope. See that the youngsters are careful; for Yaspard and I will send Tom up first if possible. You know what to do with the tar and sticks, Yaspard?"

"Make a torch?"

"Yes; and we shall want the bag and rope to make a sort of hammock for Tom. Now send me below. But first—your handkerchiefs, boys."

He stuffed the collection of grimy "wipes" (as the lads styled their pocket-handkerchiefs) in his pocket, and was carefully lowered into the dismal cavern where poor Tom lay.

[1] Sea-caves.



"Tom! Tom!" Harry had groped his way to Tom's head, had lifted it on his arm, and felt the warm blood welling from a deep cut on the forehead, "Tom, can you not understand?" he said; but Tom made no reply. He was breathing heavily and quite unconscious.

Dr. Holtum had given the Lunda boys many a useful lesson in ambulance surgery, and no one had benefited more from his teaching than Harry Mitchell. With care, and as much precision as was possible without the aid of sight, he bound Tom's head in bandages formed from the handkerchiefs provided, and had the satisfaction of finding that the wound was staunched and the pulse beating a little stronger before many minutes had passed.

He could not, of course, ascertain what other injuries had been inflicted, but he moved Tom's arms and legs gently, and felt satisfied that their bones had escaped.

The time seemed very long to Harry down there, and to the others waiting above. At last Yaspard could keep silence no longer, so leaning over, he shouted, "Is he—any better? Can't you sing out something to us, Harry?"

"I have been able to do a little, and I think Tom is reviving," was the cheering news Harry sang out in reply.

Tom really was coming round, and the first sign he made was a groan, and then a murmured "Time to get up, did you say?"

"Oh, Tom," Harry cried, bending close to the wounded head on his arm, and shedding some tears that were not an unmanly sign of gladness at hearing Tom's voice once more; "Tom, old chap, I'm as sorry as can be for giving you the rough side of my tongue many a time."

"Eh, what?" faltered Tom. "Is that Harry speaking? Are you there, mother? What's up? I don't quite know; my head feels queer—oh dear!"

He had tried to raise himself as he spoke, and had been checked by agonising pain, which caused him to relapse into insensibility.

"How awful this is! I wish they'd make haste up there," thought Harry. And then he turned, as the Manse boys had always been taught to turn in trials, to Him who is near at all times, a present help in time of trouble.

When Tom revived again, the first thing he heard was Harry Mitchell's voice faltering forth prayers to God for His unfortunate comrade; and I think that the childish antagonism which had so long existed between those two died out just then. But now a great flare of light fell on them, and the noise and talk overhead told that relief was coming.

"What does it all mean, Harry?" Tom asked feebly.

"You fell down here, and Yaspard is coming with a light and things to help you out. Cheer up, Tom; we'll have you out and all right before long."

Yaspard descended with an admirable torch in his hand, and the articles Harry required strapped around him.

Great was our hero's joy to find Tom so much restored; and when they had bathed his face, and made him drink some water, he was able to speak collectedly. "I am hurt about the left shoulder," he said, when they began to examine him, "and my head feels dreadful."

"There is a nasty cut on the brow," said Harry, "and a slight one behind the ear. I won't move the clumsy bandage, though, till we get him up, when it can be made more ship-shape. Now, Tom, you must let us put you in the potatoe-bag and haul you out of this."

They were very deft and tender in their handling, and Tom bit his lips to refrain from groaning over his acute pain; but for all that the job was a tedious and trying one, and when he was lashed into the sack Tom fainted again.

"I must go up with him," said Harry; "those duffers might do some harm."

He tested the rope, and, assured that it would bear a good weight, he put an arm round Tom, and then, catching the rope with his other hand, gave the signal.

Fortunately they had not to be raised very far, and it was accomplished without any misadventure beyond the "skinning" of Harry's hand, which he could not guard without leaving Tom's poor head unprotected.

As soon as Yaspard too was got out of that horrible hole, all haste was made to reach the open air; and in the same manner Tom was lifted from the upper vault and laid upon the sward.

When he came to himself, he was stretched on the grass with Bill's knee for a pillow and Harry's skilful hands ministering to him; and in that moment Tom must have been clearly conscious of all that had taken place, for he murmured with great fervency, "Thank God for the blessed light of day."

Just then a shower of spray came driving over the Stack, and, dashing itself against their faces, called the attention of all to the storm now raging on the sea.

All around Swarta Stack the waves were leaping, white and furious. There could be no leaving the island that day, and no chance of any rescue, even if anybody knew of their position—a very unlikely thing.

"Where can we find shelter for Tom?" was the first thing said, and it was Harry who spoke.

"We must see to our boat," said Yaspard.

They hurriedly piled a few stones together, and laid their jackets on these to make a shelter and couch for Tom; then leaving Harry to look after the patient, the others ran off to secure the Osprey. Fortunately she was a light little boat, and they were able to run her up the beach a bit, where she was safe from being knocked about by the waves. The few remains of ferdimet were removed, with other articles which were required for camping out; and as our adventurers returned to the scene of the catastrophe they asked one another what was to be done if the storm lasted longer than one day.

"We can't starve, with birds about and rabbits as well as sheep on the isle," said Yaspard; "but the storm that could do us no harm may be serious enough for poor Tom. There isn't even a morsel of tea left—only a few piltacks and a slice of cheese."

"There's a couple of eggs and Miss Congreve's box of chocolates left," Bill said. "We'll keep them for Tom; but the sea may run off before night."

Yaspard shook his head. "Not likely. I know the weather-signs. This means to last."

"Just so! Bad boy, bad boy!" screamed Thor from a crag close by. He had remained by the Osprey while the lads were exploring, and would have remained there still; but when she was beached and the "outward and visible signs" of a meal carried away, Thor thought he had better go too, and see what was going to happen next.

"Ah, Thor, my rascal!" Yaspard exclaimed; "I must have had a presentiment of what would happen when I took you with us. Now" (turning to his companions), "I trust he will go when he is bid, in which case we may be helped sooner than we can help ourselves. I wouldn't," he added hastily, "dream of calling for help if it were not for Tom."

Harry looked up anxiously when his companions arrived. "This is a bad job," he said very seriously; "I fear Tom is more hurt than he allows, and he is getting light-headed, too."

"I'll send Thor now—if he'll go," said Yaspard, and Harry's face lit up.

"I had forgotten Thor. Yes, send him if you can."

But Thor was in a sulky and suspicious mood, and would not let his master catch him. There were no alluring morsels left to bribe him with; for the eggs must be kept for Tom, and a chocolate ball Thor despised as well as cheese.

"We must wait till we have to kill a sheep," Gibbie Harrison remarked, after all efforts to catch the raven had failed; "he will come for a bit of red raw flesh, the ugly brute!"

"You needn't call Thor an ugly brute for eating what you kill," retorted Yaspard, "unless you call yourself another of the same."

They all laughed then, and the laugh did them good. It even helped to strengthen Tom, who showed a great amount of pluck and endurance during that trying time. He reproached himself for having brought so much trouble on them all, and tried to bear his pain heroically; but in spite of his own efforts, and the thoughtful attention of his comrades, Tom's state grew rapidly worse, and before evening he was very fevered.

By that time even Yaspard considered the situation most critical for all, and was ready to adopt any and every suggestion that might offer the smallest alleviation of their condition.

The whole party had strongly objected to using the vault as a shelter, but, as the day waned and the storm increased, they decided upon retreating there, seeing that Swarta Stack offered no better refuge.

Anxiety had banished hunger, and no one felt in a mood that evening for slaughter. An egg was whipped up with some sugar still left, and poured down Tom's throat, and later a cup of cocoa was made for him from the contents of Amy's box of comfits. The rest of the lads lay down to sleep supperless—and, for the matter of that, dinnerless also, not having tasted food since early breakfast, except half a cold piltack and a morsel of cheese.

Yaspard and Harry resolved to watch by Tom, whose sleep was fitful and feverish. They had not been able to remove him to the vault, of course, but had built a wall of stones and turf to protect him from the weather; and while the other lads slept quietly enough in the wreckers' den, these two kept guard over their disabled comrade on the exposed ground.

"If the storm does not lin[1] by sunrise," said Yaspard, "we must try and move him to the beach, and get him under shelter of the boat; we can turn her up, you know, and make a cosy place for him. It is so windy and disagreeable here."

Alas! they had not dreamt that the tempest might "turn" the Osprey as easily as they could. At the moment when Yaspard spoke, his bonnie boat was lying among the great rough stones, with a rent in her side that no mere caulking could cure. A fierce gust had caught her and tossed her over as if she were a toy left there for that purpose.

This was discovered when a very sedate procession of boys came down to the beach, carrying Tom on a stretcher made (as Dr. Holtum had shown how) out of their jackets spread between two spars—the spars being passed through the sleeves, and so kept in position.

When the Osprey's condition was ascertained Yaspard said, "I suppose there is nothing left but to try for Thor again."

But Thor was nowhere to be seen then, and though search was made, he could not be discovered. The truth was that Thor, hungry and uncomfortable, had been hovering over Swarta Stack at daybreak in a very discontented state, had recognised some familiar landmarks in a northerly direction, and had decamped for Boden straightway.

[1] Abate.



As one after another their resources seemed to fail, the courage of more than one of the lads sank; but there was no daunting Yaspard, and he began to talk of lighting a big tire, or setting up the sail as a signal—of one and all of the devices which castaways use for attracting attention, till Bill cut him short by saying, "We can do all that by-and-by, when the sea falls enough to allow a boat to come here if our signals were seen. It isn't any good just now, for all the people are in their beds, and will be for hours, and while they are sleeping we are starving."

At that moment Pirate came running from the farther side of the Stack carrying a dead rabbit, which he proudly laid at his master's feet. He had been amusing himself almost all the time since the landing with hunting rabbits, and had at last caught one.

"You needn't starve now. See, Bill!" and Yaspard picked up the rabbit; "a fine fat beast, thanks to Pirate. Ah, my dog, if you had Thor's wings you would use them for me, not for yourself, I know."

Harry Mitchell looked admiringly at the noble dog; and when the others moved away to collect wood for a fire (plenty of spars on Swarta Stack) he fell into a reverie with his eyes fastened on Pirate.

Before long a fire was burning and the rabbit was roasting in an oven of mud. The skin was not removed, for those old young campaigners knew the best way to cook meat when the kitchen appliances were beyond reach. While Lowrie watched the roast and Gloy fed the fire, Gibbie went to the shore to secure some shell-fish and Bill went in search of plovers' eggs, for all were agreed that, until absolutely driven to it, they would not kill a sheep.

Yaspard, having set them all thus to work, returned to his place by Tom, who had fallen into a sort of stupor more alarming than even the restlessness and raving of the previous evening.

"In a brown study still, Harry?" the Viking asked, as he sat down and looked sorrowfully at the invalid.

"I have an idea," was Harry's answer. "You see the wind is falling already, and falling fast. It never lasts long at this season. But there is a heavy sea that may not run off for a couple of days. And no one lives on the part of Burra Isle facing Swarta Stack. Any signal we make will not be seen by the folk of Burra Isle, and not likely noticed by any one on Lunda, which is so much farther away. It really wouldn't matter for any of us except Tom; but he must be seen to soon, if his life is to be saved. If he were all right, we could camp here as long as you please; so don't think me impatient or funking."

"No, no! I know that. What is your idea?"

"Your boat can't float, Yaspard, but your dog can swim."

Yaspard sprang to his feet and caught Harry's hands in his joyous excitement. "That will do," he cried. "That will be better than Thor, for I can go with Pirate. I can swim like a fish; and if he sees me try it, he will go too—we could not expect him to fully understand what we wanted if I did not do so. I'll be off as soon as it's possible."

"Burra Isle is three-quarters of a mile from here," answered Harry gravely.

"I'm good for it," was Yaspard's answer; "good for that, and a lot more, in such an emergency as the present."

Harry's face dropped quickly, and he had some difficulty in keeping back the tears, as a swift thought went back to his brother Frank, who had given his life to save another. Just as Yaspard looked had Frank stood, smiling like a hero, when he plunged into Wester-voe to save cripple Bartle. But even that gallant deed had less risk in it than this which Yaspard contemplated, for the distance Frank had to swim was not half as far, and the sea was quite calm.

"It will be a fearful thing to do, Yaspard," Harry said after a pause; "ten chances to one against your reaching the other shore. Yet—I will not say don't—because—I'll try too. Did you ever hear of—what our—Frank did?"

"Yes, I heard. It was remembering what he did made me want to do this for poor Tom."

"Well, old man, we will make a try with Pirate when the weather falls a little more."

"Not you, Harry. Only myself and Pirate. It would never do to leave Tom with those duffers. And besides, poor chaps, they'd be all at sea if we failed and no relief came. With you still here something would be thought of that had sense in it."

Harry was obliged to own the wisdom of Yaspard's words, knowing full well how little Bill was able to take his place as director of affairs.

The Harrisons and Gloy were not to be depended upon for anything beyond willing service and obedience to a guiding head. Yet Harry wished to share Yaspard's responsibility, his peril, and his daring. "Let's cast lots," he suggested.

"No," said the Viking-boy decisively. "This quest is mine. Not another word about it, Harry."

"Mother, mother!" Tom muttered, rolling his head uneasily, and the word reached their ears as they sat by the boat under which he lay.

"You hear?" whispered Yaspard; "think of your mother. If I don't reach land I shall go to my mother, but yours is in the Manse of Lunda, and would break her heart if anything happened to you."

By that time the rabbit was cooked, and some plovers' eggs also roasted, along with a large crab which had been taking an airing before Gloy's gleg[1] vision, and was obliged to yield to fate on the instant. The lads were very hungry, and enjoyed their meal in spite of everything.

When every morsel was demolished, even to the bones, which fell to Pirate's share, the lads gathered in a group beside the boat, and tried to wile away the time with supposing a great many wonderful kinds of rescues which might take place; and it was then that Harry told the others of Yaspard's project.

"You can never do it, sir," Lowrie exclaimed; "I ken weel ye canno', and my faither wad never forgive us if we let you try."

"Tom Holtum's life, or mine, to be risked! My life is my own and God's, to be used by me, with His approval, as my judgment thinks best," was the dignified answer, which silenced Lowrie.

After that they watched the sea, and spoke very little for some hours, until the wind had quite subsided and the waves were less broken. By that time Tom's condition made a desperate attempt more urgent still, and Yaspard rose up saying, "Pirate, old boy, it is time you and I set out. Good-bye, lads; and keep up your hearts, for if I fail the dog won't."

They silently followed him to the low crags where they had so blithely landed. Lowrie meekly stooped and picked up the boots Yaspard took off, and Gibbie was heard to sob, but no one offered the smallest remonstrance; they were in hearing of Tom's broken words and pitiful moans, and each one thought, "I'd do the same thing if I could."

"Take care of my crew, Harry," Yaspard said, giving one glance back; and then they called out, "God preserve you." He smiled. "Thank you! that sounds good; now, Pirate, come!"

He plunged into the surf and struck out manfully; and the dog kept close by him, evidently aware that his young master's life was entrusted to his keeping in a great measure.

His companions watched their progress with burning anxiety, and hope rose high within them as they saw how easily the dog swam; for they were confident that while Pirate floated Yaspard was safe.

Yaspard was not so confident himself after being in the water some time, and he frequently found himself obliged to pause and rest his hands on the dog. They were greatly helped by the tide flowing towards Burra Isle. Indeed, Yaspard would not have started on such a dangerous voyage if he had not calculated that he must receive great assistance from the sea itself. All he had to do was to keep himself afloat and drift with the current; but, as all swimmers know, it is often as trying to do that as to breast an opposing force.

He found infinite comfort in the companionship of his faithful dog, and frequently spoke to him—more for the purpose of encouraging his own heart than because Pirate needed words of cheer.

But that piece of water seemed very broad, and there seemed for ever sounding in our hero's ears the refrain of an old song with which Mam Kirsty used to lull Signy to sleep in her baby days—

"My cradle and my grave is the deep deep sea."

Yet Yaspard was not the least afraid, and only thought, even when those doleful words seemed to ring like a knell through the roar of the waves, "Tom will be saved if I reach the shore, and if I don't, Pirate is sure to land and make his way to a house at once. That will tell as well as any words of mine."

He was very nearly exhausted when at last he found himself in shallow water; so, putting on a desperate spurt, he managed to reach a sandy creek where a landing could be easily made. But as he staggered up from the water, thanking God in his heart, a sudden weakness overpowered him, and he fell senseless on the sand. Pirate had reached land before his master, and was shaking himself vigorously when Yaspard dropped. The wonderful dog-intellect at once divined that something must be very far wrong, and he sniffed around the motionless form, with deep anxiety expressed in every gesture and in the low whining noise he made.

At last, when he found that Yaspard did not stir, Pirate determined upon seeking help without further delay. With a piteous howl he turned from the spot and bounded up the hill, making for the nearest habitation or human being with the unerring instinct of his race.

[1] Keen.



Garth Halsen and his father were strolling over the hill that day. The old Yarl of Broch was always restless during a storm, and never cared to sit in the house when the elements were at war, "for there is sorrow on the sea," he would say at such times; "and I cannot rest when I think some poor souls are fighting for life on the water." As the father and son walked on they saw Pirate, and he saw them, and made at once for them, whining in the most distressful manner.

"What dog is that? Why, I've——"

"It's Yaspard's dog," Garth exclaimed; "and he wants us to go with him. Something has happened, I fear."

They hurried in the direction which Pirate so intelligently indicated, and he soon led them to where our Viking-boy lay.

By that time Yaspard had revived a little, and was sitting up looking around in a dazed state, but the cheery voice of old Halsen soon restored his wits, and he could give an account of what had happened.

"No time to lose, lads," said the Yarl, with all the fire of strong manhood eager to help the forlorn and weak. "We'll carry you over the hill between us, boy, and get out the boats."

They swung Yaspard up on their arms and went over the hill at a good pace, considering the Yarl's age, until they reached a cottage fortunately not far distant. There our hero was left in the care of kindly women, while Mr. Halsen and Garth hastened to the nearest fishing-station and gathered a stout crew.

When Yaspard was reviving under the influence of warm food and a cozy bed, a sixaern with Mr. Halsen as skipper was speeding round the North Ness, and appeared before the longing eyes on Swarta Stack like an angel of deliverance.

"He has done it!" Harry exclaimed. "Yaspard has not met his great-grand-uncle's fate!"

"How do you know?" Lowrie asked. "It may hae been the dog. It's a senseful beast."

"Don't you see they are coming straight as an arrow for the Stack?" answered reflecting Harry. "No doubt in their minds as to where we are. Now Pirate's arrival and demonstrations could only indicate that we were in a strait somewhere among the holmes, but only Yaspard's tongue could tell the identical place where we are."

"Ye're awfully wise!" Lowrie exclaimed with much admiration, which became qualified when Bill remarked, "Some one may have seen our fire, or the sail."

"I don't think so," Harry answered. "I have had my eyes on the hillside over there all the morning, and I'd have seen any person who came there—unless they were by the creek, which is hidden from us by the curves of the North Ness."

"Any person there would not see us," said Bill, "so you must be right. But if Yaspard landed, how is it we did not see him?"

"He would land at the creek, most likely; and the little daal which leads over the hill from the shore dips under the level of the Ness hill, so we could not possibly see him. But we shall know all about it very soon now."

"I'd rather die on Swarta Stack than ken he is in the sea," blubbered Lowrie, whose fears on Yaspard's account had quite unnerved him.

But what a cheer those boys sent up when the sixaern came close, and Harry called out "Is Yaspard safe?" and received for answer a joyous "Yes, yes! he's all right by now."

They shouted and sobbed together, until Tom was recalled from his half-unconscious state to a knowledge that rescue had come, and murmured, "I am so glad for their sakes, poor boys!"

The Yarl had not omitted to bring such nourishment as could be most quickly procured, and as soon as the boat was moored the castaways were quaffing draughts of milk and devouring oatcakes and butter. Nothing had ever tasted so sweet to Tom's lips as that milk, and the gentle voice of Garth Halsen, his cool soft touch, were as good as medicine.

He was carefully conveyed to the boat; the Osprey was safely beached, high and dry, and loaded with stones to prevent her being buffeted by the winds again, until such time as she could be removed; and the boys, with lightened hearts, scrambled into the haaf-boat, carrying with them all their campaigning effects.

"If Yaspard were here," said Harry, "he would wish to stay by his boat until he had made her fit to float us off the Stack again. I don't half like leaving her all by herself, poor old Osprey."

"You and your Viking can return and finish up your voyage of discovery another time," quoth Garth; "but at present you must submit to being taken to Broch in a commonplace manner."

But the Yarl had been watching Tom, as he lay among coats spread on grass in the bottom of the boat, and the kind old man's face had grown more sad and serious every moment.

"I think we must not make for Burra Wick after all," he said. "Much as I'd like to have you at Broch, I believe we ought to take another course. This lad should be in his father's hands with as little delay as possible. So it's Collaster where we will bring up."

And to Collaster they went, after landing Lowrie on the nearest point of Burra Isle, to carry tidings of them to Yaspard, as well as to Gerta Brace, who would certainly be alarmed if her uncle did not put in an appearance that day.

We can imagine the sensation created at the Doctor's house when Tom was carried there, and the story of his misadventure was told. Harry did not tell that it was Tom's own fault which brought about the accident, and it was many a long day before Tom was able to give the full account of it himself. But we must leave him in the care of his loving mother and skilful father, content to know that he recovered eventually, and lived to take a front place in many a wild adventure with his old antipathy Harry, and his new one Yaspard Adiesen.

Bill carried the news to Wester-voe and Fred Garson, while Gloy took his cousin Gibbie to Lunda; and Harry asked to return with the Yarl and Garth to Burra Isle. He wanted above all things to be with Yaspard, and in his company finish up the adventurous expedition after a more satisfactory manner than that of being taken home with the wounded. But Harry did not say a word beyond expressing his eager desire to return and stand by the Viking-boy.

Next morning the haaf-boat returned to Burra Isle, and at the same time Fred despatched messengers (Gibbie being one of them) to Boden to report Yaspard at Broch, "Not much the worse of a ducking, and returning home as soon as possible."

Fred had got the whole story from Bill, and he rightly conjectured that the return of the raven would have raised some anxiety, seeing that Yaspard had told his sister that Thor should bring a message, and Thor should precede the Osprey by only a few hours. Thor bearing no message, and followed by no boat, was indeed an ill omen. Moreover, he had reached home ravenously hungry, and in a very sulky, savage mood, which added to Signy's fears regarding her brother, although Uncle Brüs pooh-poohed the little girl's presentiment of evil.

But the arrival of Fred's messenger and Gibbie made a commotion in Boden, we may be sure, and nothing would satisfy either Mr. Adiesen or James Harrison but they must start off and bring home their boys. You may imagine their surprise and disgust to hear, on arriving at Broch, that Yaspard—restored to all his wonted spirit and energy by a good night's rest—had borrowed a boat, and accompanied by Harry and Lowrie, and a clever seaman who knew well how to clamp the broken ribs of a boat, had gone to Swarta Stack to repair and bring home the Osprey.

"The boy is stark mad!" exclaimed Uncle Brüs; but the Yarl, whose soul throbbed in sympathy with that of our Viking-boy, made answer, "His head is as straight on his shoulders as need be. That lad is made of the right stuff, and will be heard of in the world some day. You need not be afraid for him."

"I suppose we ought to go and help him?" the scientist said; but Halsen shook his head. "Even I," he said, "felt it would be best, kindest, to let the lads take their own way. They were bent upon bringing back their boat triumphantly, and they'll do it. Let us leave them all the satisfaction and glory that they can get out of their adventures."

And I tell you Yaspard's heart glowed with a good deal of satisfaction when he sailed the Osprey up Burra Wick that afternoon, her flag flaunting from the mast-head as gaily as when she sailed away on her voyage of discovery and peril.

Right heartily the good old Yarl and his guests and son cheered the gallant boy and his comrades, as the boat, a little lob-sided, and considerably scratched and battered, ran along the crags, and came to below Broch. Hearty indeed was the welcome they received, and neither Mr. Adiesen nor Harrison let the boys know that they were there for the purpose of looking after "those roving madcaps."

In truth Uncle Brüs was not a little proud of his nephew, and made him repeat the story of his swim with Pirate, which Yaspard did, entirely unconscious of the heroism he had displayed.

"What did you think most about when you were in the water?" Mr. Adiesen asked after a time—his scientific instincts rising above emotion, and prompting him to discover what are the sensations a human being experiences in such exceptional circumstances.

"I thought of Mam Kirsty's old song, 'My cradle and my grave,' chiefly. I had committed my life to God's hand when I started. Just before I landed I thought I saw Signy holding out her hands, as she did when she went adrift. That's about all."

"Well, my dear, I think you must feel that you have had enough of Vikinging for the rest of your life," said the scientist with a smile; but he was not ill-pleased when his nephew answered, "It has only made me long for more! I want now to do real good Viking work. I want to go out and explore the world—the stars, if that were possible—and to fight all the foes of the Red Cross, and to bury all feuds, and win name and fame like a right noble and right valiant Viking."

"You have done so, if you but knew it," quoth Garth; and Harry Mitchell said, "You will do all that, I don't doubt; and I'll follow where your flag leads, old man! I never could stand by the side of a better comrade, and I don't believe I could ever find a finer leader—so there!"

"Thank you, Harry," Yaspard answered simply.

I need not tell you of the home-coming to Moolapund, of Aunt Osla's tears and tea, of Signy's joy, of Thor's profound reflections, finished up with a sage "Just so!"—of all the talk and enjoyment in fighting their battles o'er again.

We can leave our Viking-boy at this happy stage of his career, assured (like the Yarl of Broch) that he was heard of in the world in later days.



Transcriber's note:

This e-book contains the words "Boden" and "brodhor". In the original book, the "o" in "Boden" and the first "o" in "brodhor" were o-macron.