“But I will get a bonny
And I will sail the sea,
For I maun gang to Love Gregor,
Since he canna come hame to me—”
They did not see Strickland where he stood by the hazels. He let them go by, watching them with a quiet pleasure. They took the upward-running lane. Hawthorns in bloom hid them; they were gone like young deer. Strickland, crossing the stream, went his own way.
The country became more open, with, at this hour, a dreamlike depth and hush. Down went the sun, but a glow held and wrapped the earth in hues of faery. When he had walked a mile and more he saw before him Glenfernie House. In the modern and used moiety seventy years old, in the ancient keep and ruin of a tower three hundred, it crowned—the ancient and the latter-day—a craggy hill set with dark woods, and behind it came up like a wonder lantern, like a bubble of pearl, the full moon.
The tutor, in his own room, put down his fisherman’s rod and bag. The chamber was a small one, set high up, with two deep windows tying the interior to the yet rosy west and the clearer, paler south. Strickland stood a moment, then went out at door and down three steps and along a passageway to two doors, one closed, the other open. He tapped upon the latter.
A boy of fourteen, tall and fair, with a flushed, merry face, crossed the room and opened the door more widely. “Oh, aye, Mr. Strickland, I’m in!”
“Not yet. I haven’t seen him. I was at the village with Dandie Saunderson.”
“Do you know what he did with himself?”
“I see. Well, it’s nearly supper-time.”
Back in his own quarters, the tutor made such changes as were needed, and finally stood forth in a comely suit of brown, with silver-buckled shoes, stock and cravat of fine cambric, and a tie-wig. Midway in his toilet he stopped to light two candles. These showed, in the smallest of mirrors, set of wig and cravat, and between the two a thoughtful, cheerful, rather handsome countenance.
He had left the door ajar so that he might hear, if he presently returned, his eldest pupil. But he heard only James go clattering down the passage and the stair. Strickland, blowing out his candles, left his room to the prolonged June twilight and the climbing moon.
The stairway down, from landing to landing, lay in shadow, but as he approached the hall he caught the firelight. The laird had a London guest who might find a chill in June nights so near the north. The blazing wood showed forth the chief Glenfernie gathering-place, wide and deep, with a great chimneypiece and walls of black oak, and hung thereon some old pieces of armor and old weapons. There was a table spread for supper, and a servant went about with a long candle-lighter, lighting candles. A collie and a hound lay upon the hearth. Between them stood Mrs. Jardine, a tall, fair woman of forty and more, with gray eyes, strong nose, and humorous mouth.