But all the same Mr. Ogilvie was in some measure a friend of hers. He knew her—he had spoken to her—no doubt when he returned to the South he would see her one day or another, and he would surely speak of the visit he had paid to Castle Dare. Macleod set about making that visit as pleasant as might be, and the weather aided him. The fair heavens shone over the windy blue seas; and the green island of Ulva lay basking in the sunlight, and as the old Umpire, with her heavy bows parting the rushing waves, carried them out to the west, they could see the black skarts standing on the rocks of Gometra, and clouds of puffins wheeling round the dark and lonely pillars of Staffa; while away in the north, as they got clear of Treshanish Point, the mountains of Rum and of Skye appeared a pale and spectral blue, like ghostly shadows at the horizon. And there was no end to the sports and pastimes that occupied day after day. On their first expedition up the lonely corries of Ben-an-Sloich young Ogilvie brought down a royal hart—though his hand trembled for ten minutes after he pulled the trigger. They shot wild duck in Loch Scridain, and seals in Loch-na-Keal, and rock-pigeons along the face of the honey-combed cliffs of Gribun. And what was this new form of sport? They were one day being pulled in the gig up a shallow loch in the hope of finding a brood or two of young mergansers, when Macleod, who was seated up at the bow, suddenly called to the man to stop. He beckoned to Ogilvie, who went forward and saw, quietly moving over the sea-weed, a hideously ugly fish with the flat head and sinister eyes of a snake. Macleod picked up the boat-hook, steadied himself in the boat, and then drove the iron spike down.
“I have him,” he said. “That is the snake of the sea—I hate him as I hate a serpent.”
He hoisted out of the water the dead dog-fish, which was about four feet long, and then shook it back.
“Here, Ogilvie,” said he, “take the boat-hook. There are plenty about here. Make yourself St. Patrick exterminating snakes.”
Ogilvie tried the dog-fish spearing with more or less success; but it was the means of procuring for him a bitter disappointment. As they went quietly over the sea-weed—the keel of the boat hissing through it and occasionally grating on the sand—they perceived that the water was getting a bit deeper, and it was almost impossible to strike the boat-hook straight. At this moment, Ogilvie, happening to cast a glance along the rocks close by them, started and seized Macleod’s arm. What the frightened eyes of the younger man seemed to see was a great white and gray object lying on the rocks, and staring at him with huge black eyes. At first it almost appeared to him to be a man with a grizzled and hairy face; then he tried to think of some white beast with big black eyes; then he knew. For the next second there was an unwieldy roll down the rocks, and then a heavy splash in the water; and the huge gray seal had disappeared. And there he stood helpless, with the boat-hook in his hand.