Ralph put the warrant back, charred and crumbled, into the breast pocket of the jerkin he wore.
The burning of the paper had for a moment filled the chamber with light. After the last gleam of it had died away, and the ash of the burnt portion lay in his palm, Ralph walked to the front window and looked out. All was still. Only the wind whistled. How black against the moon loomed the brant walls of the Castle Rock across the vale!
Turning about, Ralph re-covered the face and said, “Death is kindest; how could I look into this face alive?”
And the whisper of the old words came back once more: “The lofty looks of men shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down.”
Ralph walked to the window at the back and gently pushed it open. It overlooked the fell and the Shoulthwaite Ghyll. A low roof went down from it almost to the ground. He stepped out on to this, and stood for a moment in the shadow that lay upon it.
He must take his last look now. He must bid his last good-night. The moon through the opposite window still shone on the silvery hair. The wind was high. It found its way through the open casement. It fluttered the face-cloth above the face. Ralph pushed back the sash, and in a moment he was gone.
MATTHA BRANTH’ET “FLYTES” THE PARSON.
The household on the Moss were early astir on the morning appointed for the funeral of Angus Ray. Matthew Branthwaite’s wife and daughter were bustling about the kitchen of the old house soon after daybreak.
Mrs. Branthwaite was a fragile little body, long past her best, with the crow’s feet deeply indented about her eyes, which had the timid look of those of a rabbit, and were peculiarly appropriate to a good old creature who seemed to be constantly laboring against the idea that everything she did was done wrongly. Her daughter Liza was a neat little thing of eighteen, with the bluest of blue eyes, the plumpest of plump cheeks, and the merriest of merry voices. They had walked from their home in the gray dawn in order to assist at the preliminaries to the breakfast which had to be eaten by a large company of the dalesmen before certain of them set out on the long journey across the fells.
The previous day had been the day of the “winding,” a name that pointed to the last offices of Abraham Strong, the Wythburn carpenter. In the afternoon of the winding day the mistresses of the houses within the “warning” had met to offer liberal doses of solace and to take equally liberal doses of sweet broth, a soup sweetened with raisins and sugar, which was reserved for such melancholy occasions.