Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race
Page: 146“What is the cause of your grief?” “I am not minded to tell that to a wandering stranger,” she replied. “Perhaps I can guess what it is,” he continued; “you have lost some dear friend, I think.” “My loss is great enough to give me grief,” she answered, weeping. “I had a dear foster-son, who went oversea to fight the heathen. He was dearer to me than my own sons, and now news has come that he is dead in that foreign land. And the Lady of Loch Awe, who was his wife, is to wed another husband to-morrow. Long she waited for him, past the seven years he was to be away, and now she would not marry again, but that a letter has come to assure her of his death. Even yet she is fretting because she has not had the token he promised to send her; and she will only marry because she dare no longer delay.”
“What is this token?” asked Colin. “That I know not: she has never told,” replied the foster-mother; “but oh! if he were now here Glenurchy would never fall under the power of Baron MacCorquodale.” “Would you know Black Colin if you were to see him?” the beggar asked meaningly; and she replied: “I think I should, for though he has been away for years, I nursed him, and he is my own dear fosterling.” “Look well at me, then, good mother of mine, for I am Colin of Loch Awe.”
The mistress of the farm seized the beggar-man by the arm, drew him out into the light, and looked earnestly into his face; then, with a scream of joy, she flung her arms around him, and cried: “O Colin! Colin! my dear son, home again at last! Glad and [Pg 260] glad I am to see you here in time! Weary have the years been since my nursling went away, but now you are home all will be well.” And she embraced him and kissed him and stroked his hair, and exclaimed at his bronzed hue and his ragged attire.
The Foster-Mother’s Plan
At last Colin stopped her raptures. “Tell me, mother, does my wife seem to wish for this marriage?” he asked; and his foster-mother answered: “Nay, my son, she would not wed now but that, thinking you are dead, she fears the Baron’s anger if she continues to refuse him. But if you doubt her heart, follow my counsel, and you shall be assured of her will in this matter.” “What do you advise?” asked he. She answered: “Stay this night with me here, and to-morrow go in your beggar’s dress to the castle on the Islet. Stand with other beggars at the door, and refuse to go until the bride herself shall bring you food and drink. Then you can put your token in the cup the Lady of Loch Awe will hand you, and by her behaviour you shall learn if her heart is in this marriage or not.” “Dear mother, your plan is good, and I will follow it,” quoth Colin. “This night I will rest here, and on the morrow I will seek my wife.”