THE LOVERS OF PORTHANGWARTHA. [a]
THE names of the youth and maiden who fixed the term of the Lover's Cove upon this retired spot have passed from the memory of man. A simple story, however, remains, the mere fragment, without doubt, of a longer and more ancient tale.
The course of love with this humble pair did not run smooth. On one side or the other the parents were decidedly opposed to the intimacy which existed, and by their persecutions, they so far succeeded, that the young man was compelled to emigrate to some far distant land.
In this cove the lovers met for the last time in life, and vowed under the light of the full moon, that living or dead they would meet at the end of three years.
The young woman remained with her friends--the young man went to the Indies. Time passed on, and the three years, which had been years of melancholy to both, were expiring.
One moonlight night, when the sea was tranquil as a mirror, an old crone sat on the edge of the cliff" making her charms." She saw a figure--she was sure it was a spirit, very like the village maiden -- descend into the cove, and seat herself upon a rock, around two-thirds of which the light waves were rippling. On this rock sat the maiden, looking anxiously out over the sea, until, from the rising of the tide, she was completely surrounded. The old woman called; but in vain--the maiden was unconscious of any voice. There she sat, and the tide was rising rapidly around her. The old woman, now seeing the danger in which she was, resolved to go down into the cove, and, if possible, awaken the maiden to a sense of her danger. To do this, it was necessary to go round a projecting pile of rocks. While doing this, she lost sight of the object of her interest, and much was her surprise, when she again saw the maiden, to perceive a young sailor by her side, with his arm around her waist. Conceiving that help had arrived, the old woman sat herself down on the slope of the descending path, and resolved patiently to await the arrival of the pair on shore, and then to rate the girl soundly.
She sat watching this loving and lovely pair, lighted as they were on the black rock by a full flood of moonshine. There they sat, and the tide rose and washed around them. Never were boy and girl so mad, and at last the terrified old woman shrieked with excitement. Suddenly they appeared to float off upon the waters. She thought she heard their voices; but there was no sound of terror. Instead of it a tranquil murmuring music, like the voice of doves, singing, --.
I am thine,
Thou art mine,
In the wave
Be the grave
Of heart and soul."
Down, down into the sea passed the lovers. Awestruck, the old woman looked on, until, as she said, "At last they turned round, looked me full in the face, smiling like angels, and, kissing each other, sank to rise no more."
They tell us that the body of the young woman was found a da3 or two after in a neighbouring cove, and that intelligence eventually reached England that the young man had been killed on this very night.
[a] This is said to mean the Lover's Cove.