Some of the young delegates wondered why Sinclair remained silent in such an important debate. They had succeeded in raising a question which at any other time would have brought him to his feet; but he sat impassive and silent, and above all the clash and glamor, above the applause and the interruptions, above all the witty sallies which brought unexpected laughter, he saw only the thin, white lonely figure—the dejected and outcast, the poor plaything of fate, and heard the heart-breaking cry, “Oh, dear! I wish I could dee an’ leave it a’!” and in every syllable there was a stab of pain.
The Conference ended, and the delegates made homeward. The terms had been agreed to, so far as Scotland was concerned, and all pointed to peace.
“You didna speak the day, Sinclair, and I fairly thocht you wad hae been into the fecht,” said one delegate to Robert, as the train moved away from the station.
“No, I wasna feelin’ up to the mark,” he returned, in a tone that hinted that he did not want to be troubled, and he sat back in his corner in silence. In the gray quick gloaming the moors and the hills, viewed from the train, seemed to him a country without hope. There was sadness in it, and pain, and the gray wintry sky brooded of sorrows to come.
Occasionally a few sheep would start away from where they had been grazing close to the railway, startled by the noise of the train. Thin wisps of gray ragged clouds hung low, as if softly descending upon the hills, in fateful sinister storms, and a fiery flash of yellow left a strip of anger on the western horizon, where the sun had gone down a short time ago.
Gray mists and grayer moors, with occasionally a solitary tree standing out in the distance, as if to accentuate the loneliness and the sorrow of the world in their ragged branches, which seemed ready to pierce the sky in defiance of the anger of the, as yet, unleashed storm.
On rushed the train, and through the mists there kept coming before his eyes the white lonely figure, moaning in fatal grief—grief inexorable and unrelenting, while the flying wheels groaned and sobbed and clicked, with the regular beat of a breaking heart, as if they were beating out the sorrows of the world, and over all they sang the dirge of the broken life of a maid. “Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I wish I could dee an’ leave it a’!”
When Mrs. Ramsay returned she found Mysie in a fainting condition, thoroughly exhausted, and on the point of collapse. Mrs. Ramsay saw, by her red swollen eyes, that she had been weeping. With the help of her daughter the kind woman, who had done so much for Mysie during the past few months, got her to the street, and procuring a cab, got her back to the house, much alarmed by the patient’s condition.
All night Mysie tossed and raved in a high fever and delirium, while Mrs. Ramsay sat by her bedside, trying to soothe and quieten the stricken girl. As she seemed to get no better the older woman grew more alarmed.