MORAG. You will promise that he will not be hanged?
CAMPBELL. He will not. I swear it.
MORAG. You will give him back to me?
CAMPBELL. I will give him back unhung.
MORAG. Then (CAMPBELL comes near), in a corrie half-way up the far side of Dearig—God save me!
CAMPBELL. Dished after a’. I’ve clean dished them! Loard, Loard! once more I can believe in the rationality of Thy world. (Gathers up again his cloak, hat, etc.) And to think—to think—I was on the very act of going away like a beaten dog!
MORAG. He is safe from hanging now?
CAMPBELL (chuckles and looks out at window before replying, and is at door when he speaks). Very near it, very near it. Listen!
(He holds up his hand—a volley of musketry is heard. KILMHOR goes out, closing the door behind him. After a short interval of silence the old woman enters and advances a few steps.)
MARY STEWART. Did you hear, Morag Cameron, did you hear?
(The girl is sobbing, her head on her arms.)
MARY STEWART. Och! be quiet now; I would be listening till the last sound of it passes into the great hills and over all the wide world.—It is fitting for you to be crying, a child that cannot understand; but water shall never wet eye of mine for Dugald Stewart. Last night I was but the mother of a lad that herded sheep on the Athole hills: this morn it is I that am the mother of a man who is among the great ones of the earth. All over the land they will be telling of Dugald Stewart. Mothers will teach their children to be men by him. High will his name be with the teller of fine tales.—The great men came, they came in their pride, terrible like the storm they were, and cunning with words of guile were they. Death was with them.... He was but a lad, a young lad, with great length of days before him, and the grandeur of the world. But he put it all from him. “Speak,” said they, “speak, and life and great riches will be for yourself.” But he said no word at all! Loud was the swelling of their wrath! Let the heart of you rejoice, Morag Cameron, for the snow is red with his blood. There are things greater than death. Let them that are children shed the tears.
(She comes forward and lays her hand on the girl’s shoulder.)
MARY STEWART. Let us go and lift him into the house, and not be leaving him lie out there alone.
SCENE: A GIRL sits crouched over her knees on a stile close to a river. A MAN with a silver badge stands beside her clutching the worn top plank. THE GIRL’S level brows are drawn together; her eyes see her memories. THE MAN’S eyes see THE GIRL; he has a dark, twisted face. The bright sun shines; the quiet river flows; the cuckoo is calling; the mayflower is in bloom along the hedge that ends in the stile on the towing-path.