The Cuckoo Clock Part 25

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"Never mind, my son, we'll try something else to-morrow," said nurse cheerfully. So next morning she brought him a fishing-rod, and a large piece of toasted cheese. "Take this to the lough and bait your hook with it," she said, "and see if the black cat won't come up and take a bite.

All cats like cheese."

Dermot went immediately to the lough, baited his hook, and threw the line out into the water. After a few minutes his heart gave a great jump, for he felt a sudden pull at the line. He drew it in softly and cautiously; but when he got it to the water's edge there was nothing on his hook but a large flat fish--and the toasted cheese had all broken away and was gone.

"What a foolish old woman, to give me toasted cheese to put into water!"

he said to himself; then he heaved a sigh, threw the fish into his bag, and once more went sadly away.

"I dare say the villain of a cat has breakfasted nicely off the toasted cheese without the trouble of coming for it," he said bitterly, when he got home.

"Never mind; we'll maybe have better luck to-morrow," replied the nurse.

"I dreamed a dream, and in the dream I thought of something else to do."

So early next morning she brought a fat black pig.

"What in the world am I to do with this?" said Dermot sharply.

"Ah, now, be easy, my dear," said the old woman coaxingly. "Just take it down to the lough and roast it there, and sure when the cat smells the fine smell of it he'll come up for a taste."

Now Dermot was getting rather tired of doing all these odd things; and though he had readily gone to the lough with the mice and the rats and the toasted cheese, yet he did not at all relish the notion of carrying a live pig across the country with him for two or three miles. However, he was very good-natured, and so, although he did not himself think that any good would come of it, after a little while he let his nurse persuade him to take the pig. The old woman tied a string about its leg, and he took it to the lough, and as soon as he got there he collected some sticks and peat together and, building up a good big pile, set light to it. Then he killed the pig with his hunting-knife and hung it up before the fire to roast. Presently a most savory smell began to fill the air.

Dermot withdrew a little way, sat down behind a jutting piece of rock, and watched, his eyes never leaving the smooth surface of the lough; but minute after minute passed and not the slightest movement stirred it.

From time to time he made up his fire afresh, and turned his pig from side to side. The whole air around grew full of the smell of roasting meat, so savory that, being hungry, it made Dermot's own mouth water; but still--there lay the lough, quiet and smooth, and undisturbed as glass, with only the dark shadows of the silent rocks lying across it.

At last the pig was cooked and ready, and Dermot rose and drew it from the fire.

"I may as well make my own dinner off it," he thought sorrowfully to himself, "for nobody else will come to have a share of it." So he took his knife and cut himself a juicy slice, and sat down again, concealing himself behind the rock, with his bow and arrow by his side, and had just lifted the first morsel to his lips, when--

Down fell the untasted meat upon the ground, and his heart leaped to his lips, for surely something at last was stirring the waters! The oily surface had broken into circles; there was a movement, a little splash, a sudden vision of something black. A moment or two he sat breathlessly gazing; and then--was he asleep, or was he waking, and really saw it?--he saw above the water a black cat's head. Black head, black paws put out to swim, black back, black tail.

Dermot took his bow up in his hand, and tried to fit an arrow to it; but his hand shook, and for a few moments he could not draw. Slowly the creature swam to the water's edge, and, reaching it, planted its feet upon the earth, and looked warily, with green, watchful eye, all round; then, shaking itself--and the water seemed to glide off its black fur as off a duck's back--it licked its lips, and, giving one great sweep into the air, it bounded forward to where the roasted pig was smoking on the ground. For a moment Dermot saw it, with its tail high in the air and its tongue stretched out to lick the crackling; and then, sharp and sure, whiz! went an arrow from his bow; and the next moment, stretched flat upon the ground, after one great dismal howl, lay the man-cat, or cat-man, with an arrow in his heart.

Dermot sprang to his feet, and, rushing to the creature's side, caught him by the throat; but he was dead already; only the great, wide-opened, green, fierce eyes seemed to shoot out an almost human look of hatred and despair, before they closed forever. The young chieftain took up the beast, looked at it, and with all his might flung it from him into the lough; then turning round, he stretched his arms out passionately.

"Eileen! Eileen!" he cried aloud; and as though that word had broken the spell, all at once--oh, wonderful sight!--the enchanted castle began to rise. Higher it rose and higher; one little turret first; then pinnacles and tower and roof; then strong stone walls; until, complete, it stood upon the surface of the lough like a strange floating ship. And then slowly and gently it drifted to the shore and, rising at the water's edge, glided a little through the air, and sank at last upon the earth, fixing itself firmly down once more where it had stood of old, as if its foundations never had been stirred through the whole of those three hundred years.

With his heart beating fast, Dermot stood gazing as if he could never cease to gaze. It was a lovely summer day, and all the landscape round him was bathed in sunlight. The radiance shone all over the gray castle walls and made each leaf on every tree a golden glory. It shone on bright flowers blooming in the castle garden; it shone on human figures that began to live and move. Breathless and motionless, Dermot watched them. He was not close to them, but near enough to see them in their strange quaint dresses, passing to and fro, like figures that had started from some painted picture of a by-gone age. The place grew full of them. They poured out from the castle gates; they gathered into groups; they spread themselves abroad; they streamed out from the castle right and left. Did they know that they had been asleep? Apparently not, for each man went on with his natural occupation, as if he had but paused over it a minute to take breath. A hum of voices filled the air; Dermot heard strange accents, almost like those of an unknown tongue, mingled with the sound of laughter. Three hundred years had passed away, and yet they did not seem to know it; busily they went about their sports or labors--as calmly and unconsciously as if they never had been interrupted for an hour.

And, in the midst of all, where was Eileen? The young chieftain stood looking at the strange scene before him, with his heart beating high and fast. He had killed the cat, he had broken the enchantment, he had awakened the castle from its sleep, but what was to come next? Did the prophecy, which said that a M'Swyne should do this, say also that, for doing it, he should be given a reward?

Nay, it said nothing more. The rest was all a blank. But was there, then, to be no reward for him? Dermot stood suddenly erect and crushed down a certain faintness that had been rising in his heart. The prophecy, indeed, said nothing, but he would carve out the rest of his destiny for himself.

And so he carved it out. He went straight through the unknown people to the castle garden and found--was it what he sought? He found a lady gathering flowers--a lady in a rich dress, with golden armlets, bracelets, and head-ornaments--such as are now only discovered in tombs.

But she was not dead; she was alive and young. For she turned round, and, after his life's patient waiting, Dermot saw Eileen's face.

And then--what more? Well, need I tell the rest? What ending could the story have but one? Of course he made her love him, and they married, and lived, and died. That was the whole. They were probably happy--I do not know. You may see the little lough still in that wild country of Donegal, and the deep dark waters that hid the enchanted castle beneath them for so many years. As for the castle itself--that, I think, has crumbled away; and the whole story is only a story legend--one of the pretty, foolish legends of the old times.


"Stories All Children Love"



A Child's Garden of Verses By ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON


Gulliver's Travels By JONATHAN SWIFT


Pinocchio By C. COLLODI

Robinson Crusoe By DANIEL DEFOE


The Cuckoo Clock By MRS. MOLESWORTH

The Swiss Family Robinson Edited by G. E. MITTON

The Princess and Curdie By GEORGE MACDONALD

The Princess and the Goblin By GEORGE MACDONALD

At the Back of the North Wind By GEORGE MACDONALD

A Dog of Flanders By "OUIDA"

Bimbi By "OUIDA"

Mopsa, the Fairy By JEAN INGELOW

The Chronicles of Fairyland By FERGUS HUME

Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales

_Each Volume Beautifully Illustrated in Color._

_Decorated Cloth. Other Books in This Set are in Preparation._

The Cuckoo Clock Part 25

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The Cuckoo Clock Part 25 summary

You're reading The Cuckoo Clock Part 25. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Mary Louisa Molesworth already has 208 views.

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