Whereupon the dog bounded round his feet, and held up its head for one of those caresses which Moses was never known to extend save to his dog.
As they rested together Moses continued:
‘Thaas noan a bad sort, Captain; and thaa’d ha’ done a deal more good if aw’d a let thee. Thaa wor awlus fond o’ childer’, bud they’d never let thee alone. It wor happen as weel if aw’d a bit more o’ thi spirit i’ me, owd lad; but if there wor more fo’k like thee there’d be less like me.’
And at this Captain wagged his tail with delight, and rubbed his cold nose under the palm of Moses’ hand.
’Aw’ve gin thee a bad name, owd mon, and they’n tried to hang thee for’t; but thaa’ll happen do summat some day as they’ll tee a medal raand thi neck for, and when thaa’rt deead build thee a moniment.’
And Moses actually laughed at his burst of mirth, which was of rare occurrence in his taciturn life.
Moses’ wit, however, was soon cut short, for he started and stayed his monologue at the sight of a child sailing paper boats on the opposite and deeper side of the reservoir,
‘Why, yon’s that little lad o’ Oliver o’ Deaf Martha’s!’ exclaimed Moses to himself. ‘What a foo’ (fool) his mother mun be to let him marlock on th’ Lodge banks by hissel. By Guy! he’s i’ th’ watter!’
At that moment Captain sprang up, and would have leapt after the child, but Moses bade him lie still.
The dog, for the first time in its life, resented the command of his master, and a low, ominous growl came from a mouth that displayed a row of threatening teeth. At this Moses, for the first time in his life too, raised his foot and kicked the brute he had so lately been apostrophizing, and, seizing it by the collar, held it to the spot.
’Thaa doesn’t know whose bairn it is, Captain, or thaa’d never trouble to go in after it. It’s his whose dog welly worried thee and me on th’ Caanty Court day.’
But the instinct of Captain was nearer the thought of God than was the moral nature of Moses, and, despite threat and cuff and kick, the dog so dragged his collar that Moses, weak from his long illness, felt he must either let go his hold or follow the leading of the noble creature.
And now commenced a terrible struggle in the soul of Moses. He turned pale, and great drops of sweat stood upon his brow, as he felt himself in the grasp of a stronger and better nature than his own. Looking round to see if his relentless act were watched, he breathed more freely as he saw along the miles of moorland no sign of human life. Only his eye, and the eye of Captain—and then he realized that other Eye that filled all space—the Eye that looked down from the cloudless light. Fiercely the struggle waged. The voice of Moses cried out of the deeps of his own black heart, ’My time has come, as I said it would.’ But the words of Mr. Penrose—heeded not when uttered—rang out clear and telling: ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’