Steadfast was worn and wearied out with grief and slept heavily, knowing at first that his brother was tossing about a good deal, but soon losing all perception, and not waking till on that summer morning the sun had made some progress in the sky. Then he came to the sad recollection of the last dreadful day, and knew that he was lying on Master Blane's kitchen floor.
It now remained for Kenric to assure himself that no prowling Norseman should by chance discover the place of refuge of those who had so timely abandoned their homes; and to this end he bade his remaining followers make pretence of taking shelter in the forest of Barone, whence they might move unobserved by the enemy to the south of the island and so guard the abbey of St. Blane's.
His castle was completely wrecked, and as there was not another fit dwelling for many miles around, Allan Redmain, having driven off the enemies who were on shore, besought Sir Piers to bring his family on board, and with twelve brave men of Arran who had escaped, he was taken over to St. Blane's to such refuge as there remained to him.
For the space of a year and a day you shall remain upon Sir Oscar Redmain's lands as his paid servant, but not as his thrall, and at the end of that time the Abbot of St. Blane's shall give you in marriage to the brave man who will then claim you, and you shall be that man's lawful wedded wife."
Blane's, and give ready succour should the enemy discover the retreat of the women and children. Early in the morning the whole of Roderic's forces landed, and now they stormed the castle gates with all their strength. So stoutly did they assail them with their powerful battering rams that in the space of an hour the doors fell in with a loud crash.
Thus relieved, he slung his sword under his arm and ran on and on past the silent farmsteads, over hard ploughed fields and bare moorland, past the desolate Circle of Penance, and past the little chapel of St. Blane's, where many islanders were already gathered to join in the New Year service.
Then dismounting and standing at her side he told her how the women and children were to be taken to St. Blane's. "The Norsemen may arrive," he said, "even before another day be gone, and passing up Kilbrannan Sound they will doubtless make landing near your father's castle, where it were most unwise in you to remain. Go, therefore, to the abbey and make what womanly preparations may be needful.
Blane's redeemed the mistakes he had committed in a too great division of his forces at Rothesay. He protected the abbey lands from a possible approach of the enemy from the sea by stationing six of his ships, fully manned, at regular intervals along the south coast of the island from Glencallum Bay to the bay of Dunagoil.
I felt myself laid down while something was done close to me, and then I was lifted once more and carried out into the warm sunshine, and laid upon the hot boards of the deck. "Poor laddie," growled Bob Hampton, "he's got it badly. Rum world this here, Neb!" "Orful," said Dumlow. "Reg'lar wusser," said another voice, which I knew to be Blane's.
I trow ye dinna get sic a skirl-in-the-pan as that at Niel Blane's. His wife was a canny body, and could dress things very weel for ane in her line o' business, but no like a gentleman's housekeeper, to be sure. But I doubt the daughter's a silly thing an unco cockernony she had busked on her head at the kirk last Sunday. I am doubting that there will be news o' a' thae braws.