He still kept looking at me, as if in doubt.
“Well,” said he, at last, “your tongue is bold; but I am no unfriend to plainness. If ye had asked me the way to the door of James Stewart on any other day but this, I would have set ye right and bidden ye God speed. But to-day—eh, Mungo?” And he turned again to look at the lawyer.
But just as he turned there came the shot of a firelock from higher up the hill; and with the very sound of it Glenure fell upon the road.
“O, I am dead!” he cried, several times over.
The lawyer had caught him up and held him in his arms, the servant standing over and clasping his hands. And now the wounded man looked from one to another with scared eyes, and there was a change in his voice, that went to the heart.
“Take care of yourselves,” says he. “I am dead.”
He tried to open his clothes as if to look for the wound, but his fingers slipped on the buttons. With that he gave a great sigh, his head rolled on his shoulder, and he passed away.
The lawyer said never a word, but his face was as sharp as a pen and as white as the dead man’s; the servant broke out into a great noise of crying and weeping, like a child; and I, on my side, stood staring at them in a kind of horror. The sheriff’s officer had run back at the first sound of the shot, to hasten the coming of the soldiers.
At last the lawyer laid down the dead man in his blood upon the road, and got to his own feet with a kind of stagger.
I believe it was his movement that brought me to my senses; for he had no sooner done so than I began to scramble up the hill, crying out, “The murderer! the murderer!”
So little a time had elapsed, that when I got to the top of the first steepness, and could see some part of the open mountain, the murderer was still moving away at no great distance. He was a big man, in a black coat, with metal buttons, and carried a long fowling-piece.
“Here!” I cried. “I see him!”
At that the murderer gave a little, quick look over his shoulder, and began to run. The next moment he was lost in a fringe of birches; then he came out again on the upper side, where I could see him climbing like a jackanapes, for that part was again very steep; and then he dipped behind a shoulder, and I saw him no more.
All this time I had been running on my side, and had got a good way up, when a voice cried upon me to stand.
I was at the edge of the upper wood, and so now, when I halted and looked back, I saw all the open part of the hill below me.
The lawyer and the sheriff’s officer were standing just above the road, crying and waving on me to come back; and on their left, the red-coats, musket in hand, were beginning to struggle singly out of the lower wood.
“Why should I come back?” I cried. “Come you on!”
“Ten pounds if ye take that lad!” cried the lawyer. “He’s an accomplice. He was posted here to hold us in talk.”