rug’ged, full of rough places.
con cealed’, covered over; hidden.
ra vines’, deep and narrow hollow places.
prec’i pice, a very steep place.
dis’lo cate ed, thrown out of joint.
mis’er y, great unhappiness.
ev’i dence, signs; that which is shown.
de scent’, going down.
haz’ards, dangers; difficulties.
toil, hard work.
pro ject’ing, hanging over.
* * * * *
Far up in the Highlands of Scotland lived Malcolm, a shepherd, with his wife and his son Halbert.
Their little cottage was far from any village, and could only be reached by a rugged path through the mountains.
One evening Halbert’s mother was taken very ill, and Malcolm made preparations to go to the village to obtain some medicine for her.
“Father,” said Halbert, “I know the path through the dark glen better than you. Shag will walk before me, and I will be quite safe. Let me go for the doctor, and you stay at home and comfort mother.”
Old Shag, the dog, stood by, wagging his tail and looking up into Malcolm’s face as if to say, “Yes, master, I will take good care of Halbert. Let him go.”
Malcolm did not like to have his boy undertake a journey of so much peril, as the snow was falling in heavy flakes, and it was growing very dark. But the boy again repeated his request, and Malcolm gave his consent.
Halbert had been accustomed to the mountains from his earliest boyhood, and Shag set out with his young master, not seeming to care for wind, snow, or storm.
They reached the village safely. Halbert saw the doctor, received some medicine for his mother, and then started on his return home with a cheerful heart.
Shag trotted along before him to see that all was right. Suddenly, however, in one of the most dangerous parts of the rocky path, he stopped and began snuffing and smelling about.
“Go on, Shag,” said Halbert.
Shag would not stir.
“Shag, go on, sir,” repeated the boy. “We are nearly at the top of the glen. Look through the dark, and you can see the candle shining through our window.”
Shag disobeyed for the first time in his life, and Halbert advanced ahead of him, heedless of the warning growl of his companion.
He had proceeded but a few steps when he fell over a precipice, the approach to which had been concealed by the snow.
It was getting late in the night, and Malcolm began to be alarmed at the long absence of Halbert. He placed the candle so as to throw the light over his boy’s path, piled wood on the great hearth fire, and often went to the door.
But no footstep sounded on the crackling ice; no figure darkened the wide waste of snow.