I wrote The Tins for my niece Iseult, who asked me to write her a story – so I wrote her a novel.
It is dedicated to her and to all my nieces and nephews.
and The Pale Lady
They looked up to see Miolmór, with his peaceful eyes, and Niamh, who was almost as big as the whale, floated up to kiss him. Then they sang to each other.
Miolmór was too brave to complain, but they understood that all was not well in the Western Ocean. The mortals were taking over everything from the top to the bottom, and the ocean was so full of noise there was hardly anywhere a whale could find peace.
He wasn’t grumbling. It was just the whale song of the present day which would be passed down the generations, as it always had been. The mortals would soon learn the value of silence. He had lived long enough to know that disasters happened when the mortals forgot their way, but after a while they learned it again, and all was well.
Kate and Danny are twins, who live on the Western shore with their father, Cormac, a fisherman, and their mother Estrella. When they are small children, they pronounce ˜Twins” as ˜Tins,™ so they become known as The Tins and are so close that they speak to each other by telepathy, or what they call ˜telepy.”
Estrella dies when they are two, leaving them confused and lonely. As they discover from a schoolyard bully when they are seven, ˜she walked into the sea.” So they listen more and more to the old stories which Mrs Janey, the woman who looks after them when Cormac is fishing, and by the time they are eleven, they imagine their journeys to the heaven of olden times, Beg Ara, The Land Beneath the Sea. They go there with the aid of Miolmór, the Great Whale, and a family of dophins who surround them with protective light.
But is it their imagination, or are they really the children of Niamh, the twenty-five thousand year old Sióg who became human as Estrella for three years because she fell in love with their father, Cormac? After they have had their adventures in the Five Isles of Beg Ara (The Isle of Many Fears, The Isle of Dancing, The Isle Enchantment, The Isle of Forgetfullness, and The Isle of Victories), they are ready to hear the true story of their mother from Cormac, and why she walked into the sea.
The Tins and The Pale Lady
CHAPTER ONE :: THE TINS LEARN SOMETHING TERRIBLE
Kate and Danny Joyce are twins, who live on the Western Shore, and are known to everyone as The Tins. They share the gift of telepathy, which they will call telepy.
The Tins are just over two years old, and their story begins now because it is important that you know what happens at this time, so you will understand why they meet the Pale Lady and go on their adventures to Beg Ara, The Land Beneath the Sea, when they are eleven.
They live in a beautiful but lonely place on the Western shore, with their father Cormac, a fisherman and small farmer, and their mother, whose name is Estrella, which means star.
Kate has red hair like her father, and Danny has golden hair like his aunt, but their mother says she had golden hair once, too, so he gets it from her. Estrella has dark skin and long black hair now.
Estrella travelled to the Western shore from a sunny country. The Western Shore is often wet and misty, but she fell in love with Cormac, and stayed to marry him. Cormac owns a fishing boat which Kate and Danny call Pudda, because the sound its engine makes is pudda pudda pudda.
Estrella has been on the Western shore for three years, and she has been happy, and so the Tins have been happy, but as our story opens she is sad, and this frightens the Tins. But at the moment they are asleep for their afternoon nap.
They wake to the sound of Mama crying. She is tidying up their toys, and as she stands up, the sun comes out and fills the room with light, and Mama cries even more. They rub their eyes, and sit up on the sofa. They don’t know what to think so they start crying and Mama sees them and rushes to them.
‘Oh, dear Tins,’ she says, hunkering down and brushing the hair out of their sleepy eyes with her hands. ‘Don’t pay any attention to me. I had a scary dream, that’s all.’
‘Scary, Mama?’ Kate asked.
‘Yes, my darlings.’
‘Scary?’ Danny asked.
‘Oh, I dreamt I was very old,’ Mama said, and she laughed, and she read to them from their favourite book, The Green Lion, and they were happy again and they toddled out to the sunny yard to play. They stopped to listen to the sound of the sea falling on the shore. They loved the sea.
A few nights later they couldn’t sleep. They knew something was wrong with Mama and Dada, so they slipped out of bed and went to the landing from where they could see the livingroom. Mama and Dada were talking quietly by the fire, but the Tins knew they were sad. Dada had a book in his lap but he closed it.
‘Are you sick?’ he asked Mama.
‘No,’ she said.
Dada stood up and put the book on the table and looked out the window.
‘So you’re going to leave us,’ he said.
‘How did you know?’ she asked, and she was crying quietly.
‘I just did,’ he said.
Kate and Danny looked at each other, and their hearts started to beat in a way that wasn’t nice.
‘Are you homesick?’ Dada asked Mama. ‘We could go on a holiday. I know times aren’t good and money is scarce, but we’ll manage somehow.’
‘It’s not that. I don’t miss home.’
‘Then you don’t love me anymore,’ he said, turning to her.
‘Oh Cormac!’ she said, rushing to him and putting her arms around him. ‘I love you so much.’
‘Then why are you leaving?’ he asked, and his voice was like when you cry with your mouth full.
She turned away from him.
‘Please sit down,’ she said, and it was then that she saw the Tins, who tried to hide but it was too late.
‘Go to bed!’ she shouted and they scampered away and pulled the bedclothes over their heads.
So they lay there in the darkness, trying to think of something nice, but they couldn’t because their hearts were going pudDA pudDA pudDA.
After a while, Mama came in to see them, but they telepied each other to pretend to be asleep and she went away. They wished Mrs Janey was here to tell them a story. Mama and Dada told them stories, but Mrs Janey, who was a widow from a house up the road who minded them sometimes – she was best. Her eyes would open wide and her face would scrunch up, and she could be a monster or a fairy or a horse or a crow all in the same story.
But Mrs Janey wasn’t here tonight, and so their hearts kept thumping, and so they telepied each other to think about Dada’s Pudda coming home on the sea, with lots of fish, and when they thought of Pudda going up and down on the waves, with Dada inside, they drifted off to sleep.
Mama was there when they woke up the next morning. They were scared but they said nothing in case she’d get angry.
When Mama and Dada brought them to Lake Ailinn to see the four swans who lived there, everything seemed like it had always seemed, and when Mama was still there the next day, and the day after that, they forgot about their fear that she would go, and went back to being happy again.
© Philip Casey, 2009