The young man had listened attentively, but suddenly he leaned from the seat and with a dexterous twitch of his whip curled it round the leg of a boy of sixteen who stood before a cottage.
“Hullo, Jock,” he cried. “When are you coming up to see me? Bring your brother some day and we’ll go and fish the Midburn.” The urchin pulled off a ragged cap and grinned with pleasure.
“That’s the boy you pulled out of the Avelin?” asked the Doctor. “I had heard of that performance. It was a good introduction to your home-coming.”
“It was nothing,” said the young man, flushing slightly. “I was crossing the ford and the stream was up a bit. The boy was fishing, wading pretty deep, and in turning round to stare at me he slipped and was carried down. I merely rode my horse out and collared him. There was no danger.”
“And the Black Linn just below,” said the Doctor, incredulously. “You have got the usual modesty of the brave man, Lewie.”
“It was a very small thing. My horse knew its business—that was all.” And he flicked nervously with the whip.
A grey house among trees rose on the left with a quaint gateway of unhewn stone. The dogcart pulled up, and the Doctor scrambled down and stood shaking the rain from his hat and collar. He watched the young man till, with a skilful turn, he had entered Etterick gates, and then with a more meditative face than is usual in a hungry man he went through the trees to his own dwelling.
LADY MANORWATER’S GUESTS
When the afternoon train from the south drew into Gledsmuir station, a girl who had been devouring the landscape for the last hour with eager eyes, rose nervously to prepare for exit. To Alice Wishart the country was a novel one, and the prospect before her an unexplored realm of guesses. The daughter of a great merchant, she had lived most of her days in the ugly environs of a city, save for such time as she had spent at the conventional schools. She had never travelled; the world of men and things was merely a name to her, and a girlhood, lonely and brightened chiefly by the companionship of books, had not given her self-confidence. She had casually met Lady Manorwater at some political meeting in her father’s house, and the elder woman had taken a strong liking to the quiet, abstracted child. Then came an invitation to Glenavelin, accepted gladly yet with much fear and searching of heart. Now, as she looked out on the shining mountain land, she was full of delight that she was about to dwell in the heart of it. Something of pride, too, was present, that she was to be the guest of a great lady, and see something of a life which seemed infinitely remote to her provincial thoughts. But when her journey drew near its end she was foolishly nervous, and scanned the platform with anxious eye.