The laird of Glenfernie rode at last from Black Hill. It was afternoon, white drifts of clouds in the sky, light and shadow moving upon field and moor and distant, framing mountains. He rode by Littlefarm and he called at the house gate for Robin Greenlaw. It seemed that the latter was away in White Farm fields. The laird might meet him riding home. A mile farther on he saw the gray horse crossing the stream.
Glenfernie and Greenlaw, meeting, left each the saddle, went near to embracing, sat at last by a stone wall in the late sunshine, and felt a tide of liking, stronger, not weaker, than that of old days.
“You are looking after White Farm?”
“Yes. The old man fails. Jenny has become a cripple. Gilian and I are the rulers.”
“It amounts to the same.... Gilian has a splendid soul.”
“The poems, Robin. Do you make them yet?”
“Oh yes! Now and then. All this helps.... And you, Glenfernie, I could make a poem of you!”
The laird laughed. “I suppose you could of all men.... Gilian and you do not marry?”
“We are not the marrying kind. But I shouldn’t love beauty inside if I didn’t love Gilian.... I see that something big has come to you, Glenfernie, and made itself at home. You’ll be wanting it taken as a matter of course, and I take it that way.... No matter what you have seen, is not this vale fair?”
“Fair as fair! Loved because of child and boy and man.... Robin, something beyond all years as we count them can be put into moments.... A moment can be as sizable as a sun.”
“I believe it. We are all treading toward the land of wonders.”
When he parted from Robin it was nearly sunset. He did not mean to stop to-day at White Farm, but he turned Black Alan in that direction. He would ride by the house and the shining stream with the stepping-stones. Coming beneath the bank thick with willow and aspen, he checked the horse and sat looking at the long, low house. It held there in a sunset stillness, a sunset glory, a dream of dawn. He dismounted, left the horse, and climbed to the strip of green before the place. None seemed about, all seemed within. Here was the fir-tree with the bench around—so old a tree, watching life so long!... Now he saw that Jarvis Barrow sat here. But the old man was asleep. He sat with closed eyes, and his Bible was under his hand. Beside him, tall and fair, wide-browed, gray-eyed, stood Gilian. Her head was turned toward the fringed bank; when she saw Alexander she put her finger against her lips. He made a gesture of understanding and went no nearer. For a moment he stood regarding all, then drew back into shadow of willow and aspen, descended the bank, and, mounting Black Alan, rode home through the purple light.
The countryside, the village—the Jardine Arms—Mrs. Macmurdo in her shop to all who entered—talked of the laird’s homecoming. “He’s a strange sort!”