They are in no danger of Corrievreckan now; they are in familiar waters; only that is another Colonsay that lies away there in the south. Keith Macleod, seated up at the bow, is calmly regarding it. He is quite alone. There is no sound around him but the lapping of the waves.
“And ever as the year
The charm-bound sailors knows the day;
For sadly still the Mermaid mourns
The lovely chief of Colonsay.”
And is he listening now for the wild sound of her singing? Or is he thinking of the brave Macphail, who went back after seven long months of absence, and found the maid of Colonsay still true to him? The ruby ring she had given him had never paled. There was one woman who could remain true to her absent lover.
Hamish came forward.
“Will we go on now, sir?” said he, in the Gaelic.
Hamish looked round. The shining clear evening looked very calm, notwithstanding the tossing of the blue-black waves. And it seemed wasteful to the old sailor to keep the yacht lying-to or aimlessly sailing this way and that while this favorable wind remained to them.
“I am not sure that the breeze will last, Sir Keith.”
“Are you sure of anything, Hamish?” Macleod said, quite absently. “Well, there is one thing we can all make sure of. But I have told you, Hamish, I am not going up the Sound of Iona in daylight: why, there is not a man in all the islands who would not know of our coming by to-morrow morning. We will go up the Sound as soon as it is dark. It is a new moon to-night; and I think we can go without lights, Hamish.”
“Dunara is coming south to-night, Sir Keith,” the old man said.
“Why, Hamish, you seem to have lost all your courage as soon as you put Colin Laing ashore.”
“Colin Laing! Is it Colin Laing!” exclaimed Hamish, indignantly. “I will know how to sail this yacht, and I will know the banks, and the tides, and the rocks better than any fifteen thousands of Colin Laings!”
“And what if the Dunara is coming south? If she cannot see us, we can see her.”
But whether it was that Colin Laing had, before leaving the yacht, managed to convey to Hamish some notion of the risk he was running, or whether it was that he was merely anxious for his master’s safety, it was clear that Hamish was far from satisfied. He opened and shut his big clasp-knife in an awkward silence. Then he said,—
“You will not go to Castle Dare, Sir Keith?”
Macleod started; he had forgotten that Hamish was there.
“No. I have told you where I am going.”
“But there is not any good anchorage at that island sir!” he protested. “Have I not been round every bay of it; and you too, Sir Keith? and you know there is not an inch of sand or of mud, but only the small loose stones. And then the shepherd they left there all by himself; it was mad he became at last, and took his own life too.”