Would she rather be at Rundell House as Peter’s wife or sitting in a one-roomed apartment sewing pit clothes perhaps, or washing and scrubbing in the slavery in which the women folk of her class generally lived? Ah, yes, as Robert’s wife that would have been happiness. But it was all too late now. She had turned aside—and she must pay the penalty of it all.
Long she sat, and cried, and at last realizing that she was cold and shivering, she took off her clothes and crawled off to bed, her last thought of Robert as he had left her, the pain in his eyes and the awful agony in his voice: “Oh, Mysie, how I hae loved you! An’ I thocht you cared for me!” rang in her ears as she lay and tossed in sleepless misery.
In the morning she was in a high fever and unable to rise out of her bed. She had a headache and felt wretched and ill. In her exhausted state, weakened by worry and her resistance gone, the drenching, the chill and the long sitting in her lonely room had overmastered her completely.
She raved about Robert, crying to him in her fevered excitement, and he, all unconscious, was at that time at his work, tired also and exhausted by his terrible night upon the moor.
When he stumbled and fell into the mossy pool, his mind became more collected and, scrambling out, he stood to consider where he was, trying to find his bearings in the thick darkness.
The low whinnying of a horse near by gave him a clew and he started in the direction of the cry, concluding that it was some of the horses sheltering behind a dyke which ran across the moor from the end of the village.
He crawled and scrambled along, and after going about twenty yards he came to the dyke, at the other side of which stood the cowering horses.
“Whoa, Bob,” he said soothingly, and one of them whinnied back in response as if glad to know that a human being was near. He moved nearer to them, and began to stroke their manes and clap their necks, to which they responded by rubbing their faces against him and cuddling an affectionate return for the sympathy in his voice.
“Puir Bob,” he said, tenderly, as he patted the neck of the animal which rubbed its soft nose against his arm. It seemed so glad of the companionship and reached nearer as Robert put out his other hand to stroke sympathetically the nose of the other horse, as he also drew near.
“Puir Rosy,” he said. “Was you feart for the wind and the rain? Poor lass! It’s an awfu’ nicht to be oot in!” and they rubbed themselves against him and whinnied with a low pleased gurgle, grateful for his kindness and company as he patted and stroked the soft velvet skins, and they rubbed themselves against him as if each were jealous lest his attentions be not equally divided.
He stood for a short time, thus fondling and patting them, then keeping to the dyke, he made his way along it and he thus came out right at the end of the village, and knowing his way now with confidence, he was soon at the door of his home. Cautiously opening it, afraid he would awaken the inmates, whom he concluded must all be asleep, he slipped in quietly, bolting the door behind him, and reached the fire.