Trafika Europe 1 - Northern Idyll
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115

Two Ravens

ALASDAIR OF LOCHBOISDALE WAS KNOWN far and

wide as a skilful and canny farmer. His herds grew but the

beasts were known as much for their quality as their

number. He could sell them for breeding as well as for

meat. He was also a strong fellow and would walk the hills

for miles. Many a local woman cast a glance in his direction

but they all knew he was destined to make a match with a

higher circle of Highland society.

It was no real surprise when his family met with the

Macleods of Dunvegan who, at that time, had an unmarried

daughter known for her looks and her wit. That family had

perhaps lost some of their wealth but they did have their

name and their castle. And the family of Alasdair of the

Cattle, now had stock and wealth and a good name in the

trade. So there were no real obstacles and the arrangements

were made to hold a

reitach

. That

s the engagement

ceremony which concludes such an arrangement and I

m

told required as much whisky as the wedding itself.

Alasdair was to cross to it by his own vessel, of course. The

family had more than one seaworthy birlinn, well capable

of crossing The Little Minch. They set out in fair weather

but as soon as they had Dunvegan Head in sight, things

began to go wrong. On a sailing vessel, it

s often not one

thing but a line of events, none of them a great problem in

itself but they build towards a disaster. A sheet-rope or