“Some of you are herds,” he cried, “and some are fishers, and some are farmers, and some are labourers. Also some of you call yourselves Radicals or Tories or Socialists. But you are all of you far more than these things. You are men—men of this great countryside, with blood in your veins and vigour in that blood. If you were a set of pale-faced mechanics, I should not be speaking to you, for I should not understand you. But I know you all, and I like you, and I am going to prevent you from making godless fools of yourselves. There are two men before you. One is a very clever man, whom I don’t know anything about, nor you either. The other is my best friend, and known to all of you. Many of you have shot or sailed with him, many of you were born on his and his fathers’ lands. I have told you of his abilities and quoted better judges than myself. I don’t need to tell you that he is the best of men, a sportsman, a kind master, a very good fellow indeed. You can make up your mind between the two. Opinions matter very little, but good men are too scarce to be neglected. Why, you fools,” he cried with boisterous good humour, “I should back Lewis if he were a Mohammedan or an Anarchist. The man is sound metal, I tell you, and that’s all I ask.”
It was a very young man’s confession of faith, but it was enough. The meeting went with him almost to a man. A roar of applause greeted the smiling orator, and when he sat down with flushed face, bright eyes, and a consciousness of having done his duty, John Sanderson, herd in Nether Callowa, rose to move a vote of confidence:
“That this assembly is of opinion that Maister Lewis Haystoun is a guid man, and sae is our friend Maister Winterham, and we’ll send Lewie back to Parliament or be—”
It was duly seconded and carried with acclamation.
THE PRIDE BEFORE A FALL
The result of the election was announced in Gledsmuir on the next Wednesday evening, and carried surprise to all save Lewis’s nearer friends. For Mr. Albert Stocks was duly returned member for the constituency by a majority of seventy votes. The defeated candidate received the news with great composure, addressed some good-humoured words to the people, had a generous greeting for his opponent, and met his committee with a smiling face. But his heart was sick within him, and as soon as he decently might be escaped from the turmoil, found his horse, and set off up Glenavelin for his own dwelling.
He had been defeated, and the fact, however confidently looked for, comes with a bitter freshness to every man. He had lost a seat for his party-that in itself was bad. But he had proved himself incompetent, unadaptable, a stick, a pedantic incapable. A dozen stings rankled in his soul. Alice would be justified of her suspicions. Where would his place be now in that small imperious heart? His