|The Death Sign |
A woman was out one day looking after her sheep in the valley, and coming by a little stream she sat down to rest, when suddenly she seemed to hear the sound of low music, and turning round, beheld at some distance a crowd of people dancing and making merry. And she grew afraid and turned her head away not to see them. Then close by her stood a young man, pale and strange looking, and she beheld him with fear.
"Who are you?" she said at last; "and why do you stand beside me?"
"You ought to know me," he replied, "for I belong to this place; but make haste now and come away, or evil will befall you."
Then she stood up and was going away with him, when the crowd left off their dancing and ran towards them crying--
"Come back; come back; come back!"
"Don't stop; don't listen," said the young man, "but follow me." Then they both began to run, and ran on until they reached a hillock.
"Now we are safe," said he "they can't harm us here." And when they stopped he said to her again, "Look me in the face and say if you know me now?"
"No," she answered, "you are a stranger to me."
"Look again," he said, "look me straight in the face and you will know me."
Then she looked, and knew instantly that he was a man who had been drowned the year before in the dark winter time, and the waves had never cast up his body on the shore. And she threw up her arms and cried aloud--
"Have you news of my child? have you seen her, my fair-haired girl, that was stolen from me this day seven years. Will she come back to me never no more?"
"I have seen her," said the man, "but she will never come back, never more, for she has eaten of the fairy food and must now stay with the spirits under the sea, for she belongs to them body and soul. But go home now, for it is late, and evil is near you; and perhaps you will meet her sooner than you think."
Then as the women turned her face homeward, the man disappeared and she saw him no more.
When at last she reached the threshold of her house a fear and trembling came on her, and she called to her husband that some one stood in the doorway and she could not pass. And with that she fell down on the threshold on her face, but spake no word more. And when they lifted her up she was dead.