Monday, September 23, 2013

Legend Post -- Selkie's Tale

I miss posting these. This time, I'm just going to post the story, and let you tell me what you think of it.

Here is a brief introduction. A fisherman by the name of Neil one day came across a group of seals playing along the shoreline. He watched for a while, but then one of them noticed him, signaled the others, and they fled to the ocean just as the tide began to go out.

All made it but one. Unable to reach the waters before the last wave rolled down the beach, her sealskin slipped free and washed away with the curling foam, leaving her alone in the form of a human woman.

Whether out of pity, lonliness, or merely because her strange, seal-like beauty captivated him, Neil took the poor Selkie woman home. He fed her, gave her warmer clothes, a place to stay, and offered her marriage.

She accepted.

The wedding of Neil MacCodrum and the selkie woman was set for the time of the waxing moon and the flowing tide. All the folk of the clachan came, six whole sheep were roasted and the whiskey ran like water. Toasts overflowed from every cup for the new bride and groom, who sat at the head of the table: MacCodrum, beaming and awkward, unused to pleasure, tapped his spoon to the music of fiddle and pipe, but the woman sat quietly beside him at the bride-seat, and seemed to be listening to another music that had in it the sound of the sea.
After a while she bore him two children, a boy and a girl, who had the sandy hair of their father, but the great dark eyes of their mother, and there were little webs between their fingers and toes. Each day, when Neil was out in his boat, she and her children would wander along the machair to gather wild parsnips and berries, or fill their creels with carrageen from the rocks at low tide. She seemed settled enough in the croft on the shore, and in May-time when the air was scented with thyme and roseroot and the children ran towards her, their arms full of wild yellow irises, she was almost happy. But when the west wind brought rain, and strong squalls of wind that whistled through the cracks in the croft walls, she grew restless and moved about the house as if swaying to unseen tides, and when she sat at the spinning-wheel, she would hum a strange song as the fine thread streamed through her fingers. MacCodrum hated these times and would sit in the dark peat-corner glowering at her over his pipe, but unable to say a word.
Thirteen summers had passed since the selkie woman came to live with MacCodrum, and her children were almost grown. As she knelt on the warm earth one afternoon, digging up silverweed roots to roast for supper, the voice of her daughter Morag rang clear and excited through the salt-pure air and soon the girl was beside her holding something in her hands.
"O mother! Is this not the strangest thing I have found in the old barley-kist, softer than the mist to my touch?"
Her mother rose slowly to her feet, and in silence ran her hand along the speckled brown skin. It was smooth like silk. She held it to her breast with one hand, and put her other arm around her daughter, and walked back with her to the croft in silence, heedless of the girl’s puzzled stares. Once inside, she called her son Donald to her, and spoke gently to her children:
"I will soon be leaving you, mo chridhe, and you will not see me again in the shape I am in now. I go not because I do not love you, but because I must become myself again."
That night, as the moon sailed white as a pearl over the western sea, the selkie woman rose, leaving the warm bed and slumbering husband. She walked alone to the silent shore. Then she stepped lightly over the rocks and unrolled the speckled brown parcel she carried with her, and held it up before her. For one moment maybe she hesitated, her head turning back to the dark, sleeping croft on the machair; the next, she wrapped the shining skin about her and dropped into the singing water of the sea.
For a while a sleek brown head could be seen in the dip and crest of the moon-dappled waves, pointing ever towards the far horizon, and then, swiftly leaping and diving towards her, came six other seals. They formed a circle around her and then all were lost to view in the soft indigo of the night.
In the croft on the machair, Neil MacCodrum stirred, and felt for his wife, but his hand encountered a cold and empty hollow. He knew better than to look for her and he also knew she would never come to him again. But when the moon was young and the tide waxing, his children would not sleep at night, but ran down to the sands on silent webbed feet. There, by the rocks on the shoreline, they waited until she came - a speckled brown seal with great dark eyes. Laughing and calling her name, they splashed into the foaming water and swam with her until the break of day.

An interesting tale, don't you think? Now you tell me what it means to you. What is the moral? What is to be learned, if anything? And how do you think a sequel to this story would go? Even if you don't post answers in the comments, it's interesting to think about those kinds of questions.

Dia duit,

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