As they waited, heavy clouds began to rise in the north, and there was already a drizzle of rain. At last they saw a little black spot upon the road, which soon proved to be a cart drawn by a rough pony. On it came, until they could almost hear it splashing through the water where the stream had passed its bounds, or rattling over the rough stones in other places. But, to their surprise, there were two persons in the cart. Perhaps the boy Sawney had with him a traveller who was on his way north.
This was true. Sawney had picked up a traveller who was glad to find a conveyance going across the moor to his destination. This man was a quick-moving person in a heavy waterproof coat with its collar turned up over his ears.
As soon as the cart stopped, near the hut, he jumped down and approached the two men in the doorway.
“Is that the widow McLeish?” he said, pointing to the old woman.
They assured him that he was correct, and he approached her.
“You are Mrs. Margaret McLeish?” said he.
She looked at him in a vague sort of way and nodded. “That’s me,” said she. “Is it pay for the cart you’re after? If that’s it, I must walk.”
“Had you a son, Mrs. McLeish?” said the man.
“Ay,” said she, and her face brightened a little.
“And what was his name?”
“Andy,” was the answer.
“And his calling?”
“Well, then,” said the traveller in the waterproof, “there is no doubt that you are the person I came here to see. I was told I should find you here, and here you are. I may as well tell you at once, Mrs. McLeish, that your son is dead.”
“That is no news,” she answered. “I knew that he must be dead.”
“But I didn’t come here only to tell you that. There is money coming to you through him—enough to make you comfortable for the rest of your life.”
“Money!” exclaimed the old woman. “To me?”
The two men who had been standing in the doorway of the hut drew near, and Sawney jumped down from the cart. The announcement made by the traveller was very interesting.
“Yes,” said the man in the waterproof, pulling his collar up a little higher, for the rain was increasing, “you are to have one hundred and four pounds a year, Mrs. McLeish, and that’s two pounds a week, you know, and you will have it as long as you live.”
“Two pounds a week!” cried the old woman, her eyes shining out of her weazened old face like two grouse eggs in a nest. “From my Andy?”
“Yes, from your son,” said the traveller. And as the rain was now much more than a drizzle, and as the wind was cold, he made his tale as short as possible.