Mr. Touris handled his snuff-box, considered the chasing upon the gold lid. “Those were sore happenings, Glenfernie, but they’re past! I make no wonder that, being you, you feel as you do. But the world’s in a mood, if I may say it, not to take so hardly religious differences. I trust that I am as religious as another—but my family was always moderate there. In matters political the world’s as hot as ever—but there, too, it is my instinct to ca’ canny. But if you talk of trade”—he tapped his snuff-box—“I will match you, Glenfernie! If there’s wrong, pay it back! Hold to your principles! But do it cannily. Smile when there’s smart, and get your own again by being supple. In the end you’ll demand—and get—a higher interest. Prosper at your enemy’s cost, and take repayment for your hurt sugared and spiced!”
“I’ll not do it so!” said Glenfernie. “But I would take my stand at the crag’s edge and cry to Grierson of Lagg, ‘You or I go down!’”
Mr. Touris brushed the snuff from his ruffles. “It’s a great century! We’re growing enlightened.”
With a movement of her fingers Mrs. Jardine helped to roll from her lap a ball of rosy wool. “Mr. Jardine, will you give me that? Had you heard that Abercrombie’s cows were lifted?”
“Aye, I heard. What is it, Holdfast?”
Both dogs had raised their heads.
“Bran is outside,” said Strickland.
As he spoke the door opened and there came in a youth of seventeen, tall and well-built, with clothing that testified to an encounter alike with brier and bog. The hound Bran followed him. He blinked at the lights and the fire, then with a gesture of deprecation crossed the hall to the stairway. His mother spoke after him.
“Davie will set you something to eat.”
He answered, “I do not want anything,” then, five steps up, paused and turned his head. “I stopped at White Farm, and they gave me supper.” He was gone, running up the stairs, and Bran with him.
The laird of Glenfernie shaded his eyes and looked at the fire. Mrs. Jardine, working upon the gold streak in a tulip, held her needle suspended and sat for a moment with unseeing gaze, then resumed the bright wreath. The tutor began to think again of Mother Binning, and, following this, of the stepping-stones at White Farm, and Elspeth and Gilian Barrow balanced above the stream of gold. Mr. Touris put up his snuff-box.
“That’s a fine youth! I should say that he took after you, Glenfernie. But it’s hard to tell whom the young take after!”