He had thought of there being only Jenny and the two servant lasses. But in the time he had been gone there had regathered to White Farm, for learning each from each, for consultation, for mere rest and food, a number of the searchers. Jarvis Barrow had returned from the northward-stretching moor, Thomas and Willy from the southerly fields. Men who had begun to drag deep places in the stream were here for some provision. A handful of women, hooded and wrapped, had come from neighboring farms or from the village. Among them talked Mrs. Macmurdo, who kept the shop, and the hostess of the Jardine Arms. And there was here Jock Binning, who, for all his lameness and his crutches, could go where he wished.... But it was Gilian, crossing upon the stepping-stones, who saw Glenfernie coming by the stream with the covered form in his arms. She met him; they went up the bank to the house together. She had uttered one cry, but no more.
“The Kelpie’s Pool,” he had answered.
Jarvis Barrow came out of the door. “Eh! God help us!”
They laid the form upon a bed. All the houseful crowded about. There was no helping that, and as little might be helped Jenny’s lamentations and the ejaculations of others. It was White Farm himself who took away the plaid. It lay there before them all, the drowned form. The face was very quiet, strangely like Elspeth again, the Elspeth of the springtime. All looked, all saw.
“Gude guide us!” cried Mrs. Macmurdo. “And I wadna be some at the Judgment Day when come up the beguiled, self-drownit lassies!”
Jock Binning’s voice rose from out the craning group. “Aye, and I ken—and I ken wha was the man!”
White Farm turned upon him. He towered, the old man. A winter wrath and grief, an icy, scintillant, arctic passion, marked two there, the laird of Glenfernie and the elder of the kirk. Gilian’s grief stood head-high with theirs, but their anger, the old man’s disdaining and the young man’s jealousy, was far from her. In Jarvis Barrow’s hand was the paper, taken from Elspeth, given him by Glenfernie. He turned upon the cripple. “Wha, then? Wha, then? Speak out!”
He had that power of command that forced an answer. Jock Binning, crutched and with an elfish face and figure and voice, had pulled down upon himself the office of revelator. The group swayed a little from him and he was left facing White Farm and the laird of Glenfernie. He had a wailing, chanting, elvish manner of speech. Out streamed this voice:
“’Twere the last of June, twa-three days after the laird rode to Edinburgh, and she brought my mither a giftie of plums and sat doon for a crack with her. By he came and stood and talked. Syne the clouds thickened and the thunder growlit, and he wad walk with her hame through the glen—”
“Wha wad? Wha?”
“Captain Ian Rullock.”