Authors: Matthew Morris
Meg performed CPR on Trout while his father rushed the currach back to shore. Trout was not responding to anything, and Meg was distraught at the thought that she might lose her first real friend. She continued to give him breaths and pump his heart. Finally, as they neared the beach, Trout coughed up some water and began to breathe again. Declan drove the currach at full speed right up the sandy beach of the eastern village Meg had seen from afar earlier in the day. He carried Trout up to the road. Fortunately, just then an islander was driving by in a rusted pickup truck. At the sight of the beached currach, the driver of the truck stopped. Declan loaded Trout in the back and they sped off.
Meg stood in the surf along with Dennis holding
onto the side of the currach and praying for Trout. Meg’s mother, who had been in the village looking for her and Trout, came running at the sight of a soaking wet Meg on the beach.
, my God, what happened?” Shay said as she took Meg in her arms.
“Trout drowned,” was all Meg could say
before she started to cry.
Shay held Meg tight
ly. Mother and daughter stood together on the beach, waves rolling over their feet, for a full minute.
“We have to get to him,” Meg said.
Dennis said they could get back to the harbor more quickly by boat than on land. Shay agreed, and together they walked the currach back into the water. They all got on board.
They cruised in silence around the hilly peninsula that
led from the island to Cromwell’s fort. While they were pulling into the harbor Meg looked over to the ruins and everything she had been through in the past week flashed through her memory. She looked up to her mother with tears streaming down her cheeks and confessed, “I lost our compendium.”
Meg tightly and said, “You can tell me about that later. For now, let’s hope your friend is all right.”
ome fisherman greeted them at the pier in the harbor and told them the island’s nurse had checked Trout out and that he was all right. Declan had already taken him back home. The CPR Meg had performed on Trout in the currach had saved his life. Dennis hugged Meg and said she was a hero, but Meg didn’t feel like one. Trout had nearly drowned because of her, and at the end of it all, they didn’t even rescue the compendium.
Dennis had to unload the currach
, so Shay and Meg left him to go check on Trout. While they walked up the low road back towards the west quarter, Meg filled her mother in on all of the details of what had happened. Shay listened to the story, not saying a word and feeling sad for what Meg had been through. The day had cleared up and the sun was shining. It warmed Meg’s skin and worked on drying out the wet clothes that had only now started to annoy her. The smoke streaming up from the chimney of the Davin’s cottage was visible from the road.
Trout’s mother and father were outside talking to a neighbor. “Here is my hero!” Nell called out
when she saw Meg and Shay approach. She rushed up to Meg and gave her a big hug.
“Trout is the hero,” Meg said
. “He was trying to save me when he was thrown overboard. I’m so sorry! It’s all my fault.”
Declan dismissed her with
a shush. “Ah, Megeen, we’ve never seen Trout as happy as he has been since ya got here. Ye were only trying to save Granuaile’s treasure from that nasty man. I don’t blame ya at all. Trout’s inside waiting for ya. Why don’t ya go in and see him?”
remained outside while Meg went in to see Trout, who was lying on the couch under some covers.
When Trout saw Meg enter the cottage, he
laughed and said, in his awful American accent, “Excuse me. They told me you saved me.”
“No, you saved me
, Trout. Who knows what Alonzo would have done to me to get the compendium back!”
ya still have it?” Trout said with his eyebrows arched. He nodded his head hoping for a positive response.
“It’s lost in the Atlantic.”
“Maybe we’ll find it someday?”
“Maybe… but I doubt it.” Meg
will help ya find it.”
“Your great grandmother, of course. She was out there with us.”
“How do you know about that?”
“Cause she saved me before you did.” Trout smiled wide, “I was sinking like a rock and the selkie came up under me and brought me to the surface.”
your dad and brother see her too?” Meg asked.
“I doubt it
. They probably wouldn’t believe me anyway. They never do.”
“I believe you
, Trout… I saw her, too,” Meg said seriously, looking down at him on the couch.
hen Trout remembered, “Well, what about the diary? Do ya still have that? Don’t think for a minute I didn’t see ya steal that off the table on The Digger’s yacht.”
Meg had totally forgotten about
the diary. She reached behind her and, sure enough, still tucked into her wet jeans was the leather-wrapped diary of Don Bosco. She pulled it out and saw the covering was completely wet. But, when she removed the leather wrapping, she was amazed to find that the book itself was bone dry. She looked at Trout and flipped the pages to show him.
the Digger!” Trout said.
“I would pay to see the look on his face when he realizes it
’s gone! Do you think he’ll come after me?”
“I don’t know
. But I’m sure he won’t rest until he gets even with the ‘Pirate Princess,’” Trout said with a devilish smile.
“I am not a
pirate!” Meg shook her finger at her friend. “But I am a princess…It’s all about perspective, ya know,” Meg said in her best Irish accent. At that, they had a big laugh.
“I have to admit that you were quite the swashbuckling hero on the deck
, Trout. Alonzo was twice your size and you handled him pretty well.”
blushed, his red cheeks a good sign he had recovered, and he puffed himself up from his place on the couch. “You’d tink from all that digging he’d be a little stronger, but he was soft as a squid… I’ll tell ya one thing, though. I tink it’s time I learned to swim!”
. “Definitely. You’ll never be able to dive off a ship with a dagger in your mouth like a real pirate until you do! You’ve got plenty of beaches here to learn at.”
, are ya crazy?” Trout said, his face serious. “It’s freezing in the ocean! I want to learn in a nice warm pool!”
Meg laughed out loud again.
Trout’s parents and Shay came inside when they heard the laughter. Meg quickly tucked the diary back into her pants before anyone noticed.
“What’s going on in here?” Shay asked, with a grin.
“Only us deciding that we are the sorriest excuses ever for buccaneers.”
‘Meg the Frozen’ and ‘Trout the Rock of the Sea,’” he joked.
“I’m sorry to break up such a dynamic duo
, but we are going to have to leave soon or we will miss our plane home,” Shay said.
Davins escorted Shay and Meg to the pier in the harbor. Since there was not enough time to sail the
Cailín Mo Chroí
back to Galway, Declan offered to take care of that for Shay. On the way to catch the ferry they learned that the IRGC, the Irish Coast Guard, had been called but, by then, Alonzo Woods had cruised into international waters where they could not arrest him. Meg was secretly hoping they would not find Al so that she would not get in trouble herself for stealing the diary. Meg and Trout had made a pact that they would keep the diary a secret just between the two of them, and someday they would learn to read it so they could search for the treasure themselves.
The sun was still out and the wind gently blowing across Inishbofin. The water in the harbor had a grey
-green look with speckles of white where small waves broke. Declan told them that the water where Meg had let go of the compendium was very deep and that it would be impossible to find it. Meg was very sad about losing the compendium, but having the diary of Don Bosco somewhat made up for that, and gave her hope that she would one day find Granuaile’s treasure.
As they boarded the ferry and motored out of
Inishbofin’s safe harbor, Shay teased Meg, just a little, about how silly their vow had been. Shay said that the Murphy girls needed to learn to be a little more flexible when it came to certain things. Meg agreed, but said she still preferred to ride in a sailboat. She also said they should keep their vow, with only a few exceptions.
he island grew distant behind them. Meg felt sad at leaving but she knew it would not be the last time she would see Bofin and her best friend Trout. She stood at the bow of the ferry the entire ride and kept her eyes on the water for the seal with the white eyes.
The bus ride
through Connemara on their way to Shannon Airport was as spectacular as Paddy said it would be, way back when they had first picked up the
Cailín Mo Chroí
in Galway. They also passed through Galway along the way. Meg felt sadder and sadder with each field and town they passed through. The short wait for their plane at the airport was torture, and she didn’t even browse through the duty-free shopping area with her mother. She sat on a bench looking out the window at the Ireland she had come to know and love. Meg held on to her backpack tightly, knowing the ancient diary of a Barbary corsair was tucked away safely in the same pocket where she had previously packed the beautiful family heirloom that was now lost.
Meg to forget about doing her homework until they got home. She knew Meg was not going to be able to do anything on the flight over the Atlantic. Meg looked out the window as the airplane lifted off the runway. She cried tears as real as any she had ever shed before. She missed Ireland already and she had only just left! When the waves of the dark ocean below were no longer discernible, Meg fell asleep and did not wake until they landed.
The water around her had a dark, green glow from the sunlight that made its way down to the depths. Meg was exploring the ocean floor below. Occasionally a fish swam by but Meg ignored them all. Her only task was to find special bivalve mollusks with beautiful, symmetrical pink shells. Shay was somewhere off to her left doing the same thing as Meg. Having learned everything she knew about scallop diving from her mother, Meg knew exactly where to look. She was quickly becoming an expert. Every now and then, she swirled around the small amount of water she kept in her mask to clear the fog that inevitably developed on the glass when she went scuba diving.
Scallops lived in clusters
, or beds, on the seafloor. They filtered the water for the small organisms they consumed. To her right, Meg saw a large bed of scallops at the base of a small, underwater hill. She wanted to point it out to her mother but saw that she was still busy, and so swam towards the bed by herself.
first grabbed the bigger scallops and put them in the mesh bag that was attached to her dive belt. She knew which ones to leave behind to keep the population healthy. Their pink shells stood out like flowers against the murky, green-brown seafloor. Meg was concentrating on her work when she felt a light tap on her shoulder from behind. Before turning to see what her mother wanted, Meg finished collecting the scallops she was working on. When she twisted her body around, she saw Shay still off in the distance at the same bed she had been working in just minutes earlier. Meg turned back to her work but noticed the scallop bed was now covered by a dark shadow. She looked up and was surprised at what she saw. Hovering above the scallops, Meg saw a pair of cloudy white eyes staring directly at her. She immediately recognized them as belonging to the selkie she knew so well.
with shock at the sight. She had been dreaming about those eyes for years, and to see them again just in front of her, gave her goose bumps under her wet suit.
me,” a soft whisper echoed in Meg’s mind. The seal swam off towards the shelf that bordered the deep water.
Meg shot up straight in her bed and looked
all around, the whisper from her dream lingering in her head. It was morning and even Finn was staring at her, looking as if he had heard the whisper, too. The dream was so real.
“Did you hear that
, Finn?” Meg asked. Her dog jumped up on the bed and licked her face. “Fiiinnnn,” Meg said, pushing the dog away. She was still jet lagged from her trip. Her “internal body clock,” as her mom called it, was still on Irish time. Meg got dressed and dragged herself downstairs to the kitchen where she found her mother alone. On the table was her favorite breakfast. She ate her sandwich voraciously, enjoying good, old American bacon.
“As soon as you’re finished get on your dry suit so we can go to Nanny’s
. She can’t wait to hear of your adventure.”
The weather in Connecticut had turned
cold in the week they were gone. After Meg’s incident, Shay wasn’t fooling around anymore. She told Meg they were going to be extra careful from now on and would wear dry suits when sailing in the cold. Meg nodded in understanding and finished her breakfast. She had never worn the dry suit before and worked through its stiffness as she pulled it on. When they stepped outside, the cold air stung Meg’s face. She tucked her chin into the big collar of the safety suit to stay warm. They walked down to the Muirín and, in no time, had raised the sails and were underway to Wilderness Point on Fishers Island.
The calmer waters of the sound were such a stark contrast to
the rough Atlantic waves they had sailed in the week before. Shay offered the tiller to Meg but she turned it down. The events of the previous week were heavy on her mind and she didn’t think she could concentrate on guiding the sailboat to the landmarks they followed on each leg of the trip to her grandmother’s house. Meg sat next to Shay, watching her and looking out to the beautiful landscape that was so familiar to her. In spite of her familiarity, she sensed she was somewhere else and not at home. It was a strange feeling, one she had never experienced before.
They reached the northern shore of Fishers Island in no time
. After passing between the Dumpling Islands they turned towards Race Rock Light. In the distance, off the starboard side of the boat, Meg saw her dad’s lobster boat. He was standing at the helm dressed in his bright orange fishing gear. With one hand on the wheel, the other was on a line hooked around his hydraulic winch and he was pulling up a trawl.
Meg had stayed up late into the night telling him about everything that happened
when she was in Ireland. He was shocked and scared about her near loss at sea, but he was equally proud of the daring and courage she showed trying to save the compendium. He could not believe his little girl had the guts to chase down a fleeing yacht and board it to steal back her lost property. When he walked her to her room and tucked her in bed for the night, he said “Goodnight, Margaret Grace, my Pirate Princess.” Meg smiled at him and asked if she could go out lobstering with him soon. That put the biggest smile on his face she had ever seen.
ailing past Race Rock Light, they saw it was empty except for some birds that were sitting on the sea wall where they had seen the banshee on the day of Meg’s birthday. That trip seemed like ages ago. As they neared Wilderness Point, Meg caught a whiff of the turf smoke that was rising from the chimney of Tír na nÓg. She loved the smell, and felt like she was coming home again.
sitting inside her all-purpose room with a wool blanket over her knees, gazing at the fire, when Meg and Shay walked into her cottage. Shay had filled her mother in on most of the details of the trip over the phone, so Meg knew she would not have to tell the whole story again. But Meg felt so badly for losing their family heirloom, she wanted to come out to Nanny’s to apologize in person. Nanny had told Shay over the phone that there was no need for apologies, but Meg insisted. Nanny raised her head and smiled at them when they entered the room.
Meg immediately noticed there was s
omething different about Nanny. While she was happy to see Meg, her slate-blue eyes had lost their twinkle. Nanny looked older and more tired than she had ever looked. When she finally spoke, her voice didn’t have the familiar boom Meg was used to. In a soft voice Nanny said, “Come here, girls, and sit close to Nanny.”
Meg was devastated by Nanny’s demeanor and started to blame herself for the transformation. Nanny
noticed how her granddaughter was reacting to her appearance, and she reached out her hand for Meg to hold.
, my dear, ya have nothing to do with the current state of yer Nanny. I’ve done this to meself. Since yer ma called to tell me how me dear father spent his days walkin’ the shores of Bofin looking for his lost daughter, I haven’t been the same.”
Her movements were slow and her Irish accent
was more pronounced than ever. Maybe Meg’s time on Bofin had caused Meg to notice the accent more, but she was sure Nanny sounded like she just got off the boat, where she never had before.
“I knew he was heartbroken
at the loss of his son to the depths of the Atlantic, but I never imagined that my own departure across the ocean would break him the way it did. I am the worst daughter in the history of the world.” Tears streamed down her face. Meg and Shay sobbed with her, too, and the three closed in for a hug.
“Mom, how could you have known? He wouldn’t speak to you after your fight.”
“I should’ve known, regardless. If
were ever to leave me forever, over some unfathomable distance, it would’ve broken me in two.” Nanny held Shay’s face in her hand. “It was me hard-headed, stubborn pride that kept me from reaching out to him. He was already broken, and I took what little he had left away from him. I’ll never forgive meself.”
, strong women of the sea sat crying together for several minutes. When they had calmed down a bit, Shay got up to fix some tea and Meg looked up at her Nanny with big, tear-filled eyes, and said, “I can’t forgive myself either for losing the compendium—Granuaile’s compendium. I am so sorry, Nanny.”
No sooner did
Meg say the name
then the familiar twinkle returned to her grandmother’s eyes. Nanny looked at Meg with the newfound knowledge of the secret they shared.
ya know, do ya?” Nanny looked over at Shay. She was putting tea bags in the cups and opening a package of cookies. “I never told her because knowledge like that could ruin a child. Knowin’ you’re related to the most famous of all Irish women would have some rest on the laurels of the dead and never do things for themselves. I should have told her, but she never showed the gift of the O’Malleys. She could never see the storm comin’, but you could. As soon as I found out that you heard that crash the night before your birthday, and then said you’d seen our banshee when the others doubted you, I knew it was you who were the next great seafaring child in the O’Malley line. That’s why I gave you the compendium. It was meant to be yours, but it was only the least of the gifts that Granuaile’s descendent would receive. Tell me something, Meg. Have you ever dreamt of things that came true?” Meg nodded, amazed at what her grandmother was sharing with her. “It’s another side of the gift, but you have to work on it to develop it fully. I never did, because I left my mother before she finished teaching me.”
Meg interrupted. “But the bloodline comes from the O’Flahertys, your father’s family.”
, it does. But me mother was special… like she was one of them. She nurtured me as both her child and her student.”
“Nanny…” Meg was unsure of herself and struggled to say the words
, “I’ve met her—your mother. She saved my life and my friend’s life, too. She is a selkie.”
Nanny’s face did not change
. She simply nodded acknowledgement as if Meg had told her that the sky was blue or that they lived in Connecticut.
, what is her name?”
“Because I am going to see her again
, and I’d like to call her by her name.”
’s face brightened with a big smile for the first time that day. As Shay was returning from the kitchen with the tea and cookies, Nanny looked at Meg, and said, “I know.”