Alexander looked at the sun that was deep in the western quarter. “Time to be out and going!” He swam to the edge of the pool, but before he should draw himself out stopped to look up at a willow above him, the one that he thought he might, in the mist, have taken for the kelpie’s daughter. It was of a height that, seen at a little distance, might even a tall woman. It put out two broken, shortened branches like arms.... He lost himself in the study of possibilities, balanced among the reeds that sighed around. He could not decide, so at last he shook himself from that consideration, and, pushing into shallow water, stepped from the pool. He had taken a few steps up the moor ere with suddenness he felt that Ian was not with him. He turned. Ian was yet out in the middle ring of the tarn. The light struck upon his head. Then he dived under—or seemed to dive under. He was long in coming up; and when he did so it was in the same place and his backward-drawn face had a strangeness.
Ian sank again.
“He’s crampit!” Alexander flashed like a thrown brand down the way he had mounted and across the strip of weeds, and in again to the steel-dark water. “I’m coming!” He gained to his fellow, caught him ere he sank the third time.
Dragged from the Kelpie’s Pool, Ian lay upon the moor. Alexander, bringing with haste the clothes from the stone above, knelt beside him, rubbed and kneaded the life into him. He opened his eyes.
Alexander rubbed with vigor. “I’m here. Eh, lad, but you gave me a fright!”
In another five minutes he sat up. “I’m—I’m all right now. Let’s get our things on and go.”
They dressed, Alexander helping Ian. The blood came slowly back into the latter’s cheek; he walked, but he shivered yet.
“Let’s go get Mother Binning’s coffee!” said Alexander. “Come, I’ll put my arm about you so.” They went thus up the moor and across, and then down to the trees, the stream, and the glen. “There’s the smoke from her chimney! You may have both cups and lie by the fire till you’re warm. Mercy me! how lonely the cave would have been if you had drowned!”
They got down to the flowing water.
“I’m all right now!” said Ian. He released himself, but before he did so he turned in Alexander’s arm, put his own arm around the other’s neck, and kissed him. “You saved my life. Let’s be friends forever!”
“That’s what we are,” said Alexander, “friends forever.”
“You’ve proved it to me; one day I’ll prove it to you!”
“We don’t need proofs. We just know that we like each other, and that’s all there is about it!”
“Yes, it’s that way,” said Ian, and so they came to Mother Binning’s cot, the fire, and the coffee.