“Aye, would I!” I exclaimed. “And if you’ve got any suggestions, Scott, out with them, and don’t beat about! Tell me anything that’ll lead to discovery, and you’ll see your ten pound quickly.”
“Well,” he answered, “I have to be certain, for I’m a poor man, as you know, with a young family, and it would be a poor thing for me to hint at aught that would take the bread out of their mouths—and my own. And I have the chance of a fine, regular job now at Hathercleugh yonder, and I wouldn’t like to be putting it in peril.”
“It’s Hathercleugh you’re talking of, then?” I asked him eagerly. “For God’s sake, man, out with it! What is it you can tell me?”
“Not a word to a soul of what I say, then, at any time, present or future, Mr. Hugh?” he urged.
“Oh, man, not a word!” I cried impatiently. “I’ll never let on that I had speech of you in the matter!”
“Well, then,” he whispered, getting himself still closer: “mind you, I can’t say anything for certain—it’s only a hint I’m giving you; but if I were in your shoes, I’d take a quiet look round yon old part of Hathercleugh House—I would so! It’s never used, as you’ll know—nobody ever goes near it; but, Mr. Hugh, whoever and however it is, there’s somebody in it now!”
“The old part!” I exclaimed. “The Tower part?”
“Aye, surely!” he answered. “If you could get quietly to it—”
I gave his arm a grip that might have told him volumes.
“I’ll see you privately tomorrow, Scott,” I said. “And if your news is any good—man! there’ll be your ten pound in your hand as soon as I set eyes on you!”
And therewith I darted away from him and headlong into our house doorway.
THE OLD TOWER
My mother was at her knitting, in her easy-chair, in her own particular corner of the living-room when I rushed in, and though she started at the sight of me, she went on knitting as methodically as if all the world was regular as her own stitches.
“So you’ve come to your own roof at last, my man!” she said, with a touch of the sharpness that she could put into her tongue on occasion. “There’s them would say you’d forgotten the way to it, judging by experience—why did you not let me know you were not coming home last night, and you in the town, as I hear from other folks?”
“Oh, mother!” I exclaimed. “How can you ask such questions when you know how things are!—it was midnight when Mr. Lindsey and I got in from Newcastle, and he would make me stop with him—and we were away again to Edinburgh first thing in the morning.”
“Aye, well, if Mr. Lindsey likes to spend his money flying about the country, he’s welcome!” she retorted. “But I’ll be thankful when you settle down to peaceful ways again. Where are you going now?” she demanded. “There’s a warm supper for you in the oven!”