“Aye, Glenfernie! And after that they never came to my mither’s again. But I marked them aft when they didna mark me, in the glen. Aye, and I marked them ance in the little glen, and there they were lovers surely—gin kisses and clasped arms mak lovers! She wad come by herself to their trysting, and he wad come over the muir and down the crag-side. It was na my business and I never thocht to tell. But eh! all ill will out, says my mither!”
The early sunlight fell soft and fine upon the river Seine and the quays and buildings of Paris. The movement and buzz of people had, in the brightness, something of the small ecstasy of bees emerging from the hive with the winter pall just slipped. Distant bells were ringing, hope enticed the grimmest poverty. Much, after all, might be taken good-naturedly!
A great, ornate coach, belonging to a person of quality, crossed the Seine from the south to the north bank. Three gentlemen, seated within, observed each in his own fashion the soft, shining day. One was Scots, one was English, and the owner of the coach, a Frenchman. The first was Ian Rullock.
“Good weather for your crossing, monsieur!” remarked the person of quality. He was so markedly of position that the two men whom he had graciously offered to bring a mile upon their way, and who also were younger men, answered with deference and followed in their speech only the lines indicated.
“It promises fair, sir,” said Ian. “In three days Dunkirk, then smooth seas! Good omens everywhere!”
“You do not voyage under your own name?”
“After to-morrow, sir, I am Robert Bonshaw, a Scots physician.”
“Ah, well, good fortune to you, and to the exalted person you serve!”
The coach, cumbrous and stately, drawn by four white horses, left the bridge and came under old palace walls, and thence by narrow streets advanced toward the great house of its owner. Outside was the numerous throng, the scattering to this side and that of the imperiled foot travelers. The coach stopped.
“Here is the street you would reach!” said the helpful person of quality.
A footman held open the door; the Scot and the Englishman gave proper expression of gratitude to their benefactor, descended to earth, turned again to bow low, and waited bareheaded till the great machine was once more in motion and monseigneur’s wig, countenance, and velvet coat grew things of the past. Then the two turned into a still and narrow street overhung by high, ancient structures and roofed with April sky.
The one was going from Paris, the other staying. Both were links in a long chain of political conspiring. They walked now down the street that was dark and old, underfoot old mire and mica-like glistening of fresher rain. The Englishman spoke:
“Have you any news from home?”