“Mattha will sett thee on the road, Robbie,” said Mrs. Branthwaite.
“Nay, nay; I reckon, I’d be scarce welcome. Mayhap the lad has welcomer company.”
This was said in an insinuating tone, and with a knowing inclination of the head towards Liza, whose back was turned while she stole away to the door.
“Nay, now, but nobody shall sett me,” said Robbie, “for I must fly over the dikes like a racehorse.”
“Ye’ve certainly got a lang stroke o’ the grund, Robbie.”
Robbie laughed, waved his hand to the old people, who still sat at dinner, and made his way outside.
Liza was there, looking curiously abashed, as though she felt at the moment prompted to an impulse of generosity of which she had cause to be ashamed.
“Gi’e us a kiss, now, my lass,” whispered Robbie, who came behind her and put his arm about her waist.
There was a hearty smacking sound.
“What’s that?” cried Mattha from within; “I thought it might be the sneck of a gate.”
“FOOL, DO NOT FLATTER.”
When Mrs. Garth reached home, after her interview with Rotha in the road, there was a velvety softness in her manner as of one who had a sense of smooth satisfaction with herself and her surroundings.
The blacksmith, who was working at a little bench which he had set up in the kitchen, was also in a mood of more than usual cheerfulness.
“Ey, he’s caught—as good as caught,” said Mrs. Garth.
Her son laughed, but there was the note of forced merriment in his voice.
“Where do they say he is—Lancaster?”
“That’s it, not a doubt on’t.”
“Were they sure of him—the man at Lancaster?”
“No, but I were when they telt me what mak of man it was.”
The blacksmith laughed again over a chisel which he was tempering.
“It’s nothing to me, is it, mother?”
“Nowt in the warld, Joey, ma lad.”
“They are after him for a traitor, but I cannot see as it’s anything to me what they do with him when they catch hod on him; it’s nothing to me, is it, mother?”
Garth chuckled audibly. Then in a low tone he added,—
“Nor nothing to me what comes of his kin afterwards.”
He paused in his work; his manner changed; he turned to where Mrs. Garth was coiled up before the fire.
“Had he any kin, mother?”
Mrs. Garth glanced quickly up at her son.
“A brother, na mair.”
“What sort of a man, mother?”
“The spit of hissel’.”
“Seen anything of him?”
“Not for twenty year.”
“Nor want to neither?”
Mrs. Garth curled her lip.
RALPH AT LANCASTER.