There were, however, some things he needed for the journey, and he went out to buy them while the shops were open. Next morning he gave instructions that letters for himself and Lawrence should be sent to Peebles, and when the clerk objected that he could not forward Featherstone’s without the latter’s orders, said it did not matter. He had left a clew for Daly, which was all he wanted, but, in order to make it plainer, he sent the porter to the station with the bag and told him to wait by the Peebles train. Then he set off, dressed in the oldest clothes he had, wondering what adventures he would meet with in the wilds.
Foster left Peebles soon after his arrival and following the Tweed down stream to Traquair turned south across the hills. A road brought him to Yarrow, where he sat down to smoke in the shelter of a stone dyke by the waterside. He had no reason to believe that he was followed, and there were two good hotels beside St. Mary’s loch, which was not far off. But Foster did not mean to stay at good hotels and knew that Daly would not have much trouble in reaching St. Mary’s in a car if he arrived at Peebles by a later train. It would then be difficult to keep out of his way, and if he found Foster alone, he would, no doubt, go back to look for Lawrence at the Garth. Taking this for granted, Foster thought it better to put Ettrick Forest between himself and possible pursuit.
It looked a lonely region on the map, and when he glanced south the hills loomed, dark and forbidding, through thin gray mist. Pools of water dotted the marish fields, and beyond these lay a wet, brown moss where wild cotton grew among the peat-hags. Plover were crying about the waste and a curlew’s shrill tremolo rang out as it flitted across the leaden sky. The outlook was not encouraging, but Foster picked his way across the bog and struck up the side of a fell. There was a road, but it would take him some distance round.
Wiry grass twined about his feet, he sank in velvety green patches where the moss grew rank, and walking was harder when he crossed belts of withered heath. Here and there a gnarled thorn bush rattled its dry twigs in the wind; there were bits of dykes and rusty wire fences, but he saw no path except the winding tracks the sheep had made. Still Ettrick water was not far off, and he would strike it if he held south. Heavy rain met him on the summit, and after struggling on for a time he took shelter behind a broken dyke. The rain got worse and the moor was lost in mist a quarter of a mile away, but he heard a faint, hoarse sound in the haze below. He thought this was the roar of Ettrick or a fall on a moorland burn that would lead him down.