He made a gesture of impatience. “Oh, friend, once I, too, could be metaphysical! I cannot now.”
Speech failed between them. They sat with eyes upon the garden, the old tree, the August blue sky, but perhaps they hardly saw these. At last she turned. She had a slender, still youthful figure, an oval, lovely, still young face. Now there was a smile upon her lips, and in her eyes a light deep, touching, maternal.
“Go as you will, hunt him as you will, do what you will! And he, too—Ian! Ian and his sins. Grapes in the wine-press—wheat beneath the flail—ore in the ardent fire, and over all the clouds of wrath! Suffering and making to suffer—sinning and making to sin.... And yet will the dawn come, and yet will you be reconciled!”
“Not while memory holds!”
“Ah, there is so much to remember! Ian has so much and you have so much.... When the great memory comes you will see. But not now, it is apparent, not now! So go if you will and must, Alexander, with the net and the spear!”
“Did he not sin?”
“I also sin. But my sin does not match his! God makes use of instruments, and He shall make use of me!”
“If He ‘shall,’ then He shall. Let us leave talk of this. Where you go may love and light go, too—and work it out, and work it out!”
He did not stay long in her garden. All Black Hill oppressed him now. The dark crept in upon the light. She saw that it was so.
“He can be friends now with none. He sees in each one a partisan—his own or Ian’s.” She did not detain him, but when he rose to say good-by helped him to say it without delay.
He went, and she paced her garden, thinking of Ian who had done so great wrong, and Alexander who cried, “My enemy!” She stayed in the garden an hour, and then she turned and went to play piquet with the lonely, shriveled man, her brother.
Two days after this Glenfernie rode to White Farm. Jenny Barrow met him with exclamations.
“Oh, Mr. Alexander! Oh, Glenfernie! And they say that you are amaist as weel as ever—but to me you look twelve years older! Eh, and this warld has brought gray into my hair! Father’s gane to kirk session, and Gilian’s awa’.”
He sat down beside her. Her hands went on paring apples, while her eyes and tongue were busy elsewhere.
“They say you’re gaeing to travel.”
“Yes. I’m starting very soon.”
“It’s na said oot—but a kind of whisper’s been gaeing around.” She hesitated, then, “Are you gaeing after him, Glenfernie?”
Jenny put down her knife and apple. She drew a long breath, so that her bosom heaved under her striped gown. A bright color came into her cheeks. She laughed. “Aweel, I wadna spare him if I were you!”
He sat with her longer than he had done with Mrs. Alison. He felt nearer to her. He could be friends with her, while he moved from the other as from a bloodless wraith. Here breathed freely all the strong vindications! He sat, sincere and strong, and sincere and strong was the countrywoman beside him.