“I am going to see presently if I can walk as far as the keep. In two or three days I shall ride. There are things that I shall know when I get to Edinburgh. He would take, if he could, the ship that would land him at the door of France.”
Alexander rode across the moors to the glen head. Two or three solitary farers that he met gave him eager good day.
“Are ye getting sae weel, laird? I am glad o’ that!”
“Good day, Mr. Jardine! I rejoice to see you recovered. Well, they hung more of them yesterday!”
“Gude day, Glenfernie! It’s a bonny morn, and sweet to be living!”
At noon he looked down on the Kelpie’s Pool. The air was sweet and fine, bird sounds came from the purple heather. The great blue arch of the sky smiled; even the pool, reflecting day, seemed to have forgotten cold and dread. But for Glenfernie a dull, cold, sick horror overspread the place. He and Black Alan stood still upon the moor brow. Large against the long, clean, horizon sweep, they looked the sun-bathed, stone figures of horse and man, set there long ago, guarding the moor, giving warning of the kelpie.
“None has been found to warn. There is none but the kelpie waits for.... But punish—punish!”
He and Black Alan pushed on to the head of the glen. Here was Mother Binning’s cot, and here he dismounted, fastening the horse to the ash-tree. Mother Binning was outdoors, gathering herbs in her apron.
* * * * *
She straightened herself as he stepped toward her. “Eh, laird of Glenfernie, ye gave me a start! I thought ye came out of the ground by the ash-tree!... Wound is healed, and life runs on to another springtime?”
“Yes, it’s another springtime.... I do not think that I believe in scrying, Mother Binning. But I’m where I pick up all straws with which to build me a nest! Sit down and scry for me, will you?”
“I canna scry every day, nor every noon, nor every year. What are you wanting to see, Glenfernie?”
“Oh, just my soul’s desire!”
Mother Binning turned to her door. She put down the herbs, then brought a pan of water and set it down upon the door-step, and herself beside it. “It helps—onything that’s still and clear! Wait till the ripple’s gane, and then dinna speak to me. But gin I see onything, it will na be sae great a thing as a soul’s desire.”
She sat still and he stood still, leaning against the side of her house. Mother Binning sat with fixed gaze. Her lips moved. “There’s the white mist. It’s clearing.”
“Tell me if you see a ship.”
“Yes, I see it....”
“Tell me if you see its port.”
“Yes, I see.”
“Describe it—the houses, the country, the dress and look of the people—”
Mother Binning did so.
“That’s not Holland—that would
be Lisbon. Look at the ship again,
Mother. Look at the sailors. Look at the passengers if there are any.
Whom do you see?”