That was a sorrowful leave-taking at the shore; and Macleod, standing on the deck of the yacht, could see long after they had set sail, that his mother and cousin were still on the small quay watching the Umpire so long as she was in sight. Then they rounded the Ross of Mull, and he saw no more of the women of Castle Dare.
And this beautiful white sailed vessel that is going south through the summer seas: surely she is no deadly instrument of vengeance, but only a messenger of peace? Look, now how she has passed through the Sound of Iona; and the white sails are shining in the light; and far away before her, instead of islands with which she is familiar, are other islands—another Colonsay altogether, and Islay, and Jura, and Scarba, all a pale transparent blue. And what will the men on the lonely Dubh-Artach rock think of her as they see her pass by? Why, surely that she looks like a beautiful white dove. It is a summer day; the winds are soft; fly south, then, White Dove, and carry to her this message of tenderness, and entreaty, and peace? Surely the gentle ear will listen to you before the winter comes and the skies grow dark overhead, and there is no white dove at all, but an angry sea-eagle, with black wings outspread and talons ready to strike, Oh, what is the sound in the summer air? Is it the singing of the sea-maiden of Colonsay, bewailing still the loss of her lovers in other years? We cannot stay to listen; the winds are fair; fly southward, and still southward, oh you beautiful White Dove, and it is all a message of love and of peace that you will whisper to her ear.
DOVE, OR SEA-EAGLE?
But there are no fine visions troubling the mind of Hamish as he stands here by the tiller in eager consultation with Colin Laing, who has a chart outspread before him on the deck. There is pride in the old man’s face. He is proud of the performances of the yacht he has sailed for so many years; and proud of himself for having brought her—always subject to the advice of his cousin from Greenock—in safety through the salt sea to the smooth waters of the great river. And, indeed, this is a strange scene for the Umpire to find around her in the years of her old age. For instead of the giant cliffs of Gribun and Bourg there is only the thin green line of the Essex coast; and instead of the rushing Atlantic there is the broad smooth surface of this coffee-colored stream, splashed with blue where the ripples catch the reflected light of the sky. There is no longer the solitude of Ulva and Colonsay, or the moaning of the waves round the lonely shores of Fladda, and Staffa, and the Dutchman; but the eager, busy life of the great river—a black steamer puffing and roaring, russet-sailed barges going smoothly with the ride, a tug bearing a large green-hulled Italian ship through the lapping waters, and everywhere a swarming fry of small boats of every description. It is a beautiful summer morning, though there is a pale haze lying along the Essex woods. The old Umpire, with the salt foam of the sea incrusted on her bows, is making her first appearance in the Thames.