“Dear me, Rob,” said his mother. “Where in the name o’ goodness hae you been the nicht! I sat up till after midnight aye expectin’ you’d be in, sae I gaed awa’ to my bed to lie wauken till you should come in. You are awfu’ late.”
He did not answer but stooped to take off his boots, and Mrs. Sinclair was soon out of bed and upon the floor.
“Michty me, laddie! You are wringin’ wet! Where have you been? Rain and glaur to the e’en holes! Get thae wet claes off you at yince, an’ I’ll get dry shirts for you, an’ then awa’ till your bed!” she rattled on, running to the chest in the room and coming back with dry clothes in her arms. “My, I never kent you oot o’ the hoose as late as this in a’ your life! Have you been oot in a’ that rain?”
“Ay,” he answered, but venturing nothing more, as he went on changing.
“It’s been an awfu’ nicht o’ wind and rain,” she again observed, glancing at his dripping clothes, and conveying a hint that explanations were desirable.
“I canna understand at a’ what way you hae bidden oot in a’ that rain, Lod’s sake? It’s enough to gie you your daeth o’ cauld. You are wet to the skin, an’ there’s no a dry steek on you? Hae you been oot in it a’?” and her curiosity she felt was too crudely put to be answered.
Robert knew that she was bent on having an explanation, and that if he gave her any encouragement at all she’d soon have the whole story out of him.
“Yes,” he said curtly, “but I’m no’ gaun to talk ony the nicht. I’m gaun to my bed for an oor before risin’ time.”
“You’ll never gaun till your work the day,” she said in warm concern. “You’ll never be able. You’d better tak’ a rest, my laddie. A day will no’ mak’ muckle difference noo. We’re no sae ill aff, an’ I wadna like to hae onything gaun wrang. Gang away till your bed, an’ dinna bother aboot your work. A guid rest’ll maybe keep you frae getting the cauld.”
“I’m a’ richt, mither,” he replied as airily as he could. “Dinna worry; an’ be sure an’ wauken me for my work. I’m na gaun to bide in when there is naething wrang. You gang awa’ to your bed,” and she knowing that was the last word, did not speak further, and as he withdrew to his room, she went back to bed wondering more and more at the mystery of it all.
But he did not sleep. Torn by worry and in spite of his earlier resolution to think no more about it he lay and thought and wondered about Mysie, and the man he saw, joining her at the end of the grove; and when Nellie opened the door to call him that it was “rising time,” Robert answered to the first cry, and his mother was more amazed than ever; for he generally took a good many cries, being a heavy sleeper. But being sensible she kept her wonder to herself, knowing if it were anything which she had a right to know he’d tell her in his own good time.