“That’s enough,” said Ralph. He was satisfied.
“Why, you sleep—you sleep,” cried the little schoolmaster. During the preceding conversation he had been capering to and fro in the road, leaping on to the hedge, leaping back again, and putting his hands to the sides of his eyes to shut away the wind that came from behind him, while he looked out for the expected enemy.
“You sleep—you sleep—that Garth—that devil’s garth—that worse than kirk-garth—that—that—!”
“And now we part,” said Ralph, “for the present. Good by, both!” And he turned to go back the way he came.
Monsey and Robbie had gone a few paces in the other direction, when the little schoolmaster stopped, and, turning round, cried in a loud voice, “O yes, I know it—the Lion. I’ve been there before. I’ll whisper Father Matthew that you’ve gone—”
Robbie had put his arm on Monsey’s shoulder and swung him round, and Ralph heard no more.
THE SHADOW OF THE CRIME.
But yester-night I prayed
In anguish and in agony. Coleridge.
The night was far advanced, and yet Ralph had not returned to Shoulthwaite. It was three hours since Matthew Branthwaite had left the Moss. Mrs. Ray still sat before the turf fire and gazed into it in silence. Rotha was by her side, and Willy lay on the settle drawn up to the hearth. All listened for the sound of footsteps that did not come.
The old clock ticked out louder and more loud; the cricket’s measured chirp seemed to grow more painfully audible; the wind whistled through the leafless boughs without, and in the lulls of the abating storm the low rumble of the ghyll could be heard within. What kept Ralph away? It was no unusual thing for him to be abroad from dawn to dusk, but the fingers of the clock were approaching eleven, and still he did not come. On this night, of all others, he must have wished to be at home.
Earlier in the evening Rotha had found occasion to go on some errand to the neighboring farm, and there she had heard that towards noon Ralph had been seen on horseback crossing Stye Head towards Wastdale. Upon reporting this at the Moss, the old dame had seemed to be relieved.
“He thinks of everything,” she had said. All that day she had cherished the hope that it would be possible to bury Angus over the hills, at Gosforth. It was in the old churchyard there that her father lay-her father, her mother, and all her kindred. It was twenty miles to those plains and uplands, that lay beyond the bleak shores of Wastdale. It was a full five hours’ journey there and back. But when twice five hours had been counted, and still Ralph had not returned, the anxiety of the inmates of the old house could no longer be concealed. In the eagerness of their expectation the clock ticked louder than ever, the cricket chirped with more jubilant activity, the wind whistled shriller, the ghylls rumbled longer, but no welcomer sound broke the stillness.