“Hold in that hound,” Pembroke shouted, “or he will do more damage. What means all this?” For a minute Archie did not answer, being engaged in pacifying Hector, who, on seeing that no harm was intended, strove to return to his first foe.
“It means,” Archie said, when Hector was at last pacified, “that that Highlander came the other day to our cottage and wanted to carry off a cow without making payment for it. I withstood him, he drew his sword, but as I had a stout cudgel in my hand I hit him on the wrist ere he could use it, and well nigh broke his arm. So he made off, cursing and swearing, and vowing that the next time he met me he would have my life.”
“And that he would have done,” Pembroke said, “had it not been for Bruce’s dog, who has turned matters the other way. He is dead assuredly. It is John of Lorne’s henchman, who was doubtless on his way with a message from his lord to me. Could not the fool have postponed his grudge till he had delivered it? I tell you, Scot, you had best keep out of the MacDougalls’ way, for assuredly they will revenge the death of their clansman upon you if they have the chance, though I can testify that the affair was none of your seeking. Now let us continue our way.”
“I doubt me, Sir Earl, whether our journey ends not here,” Archie said, “seeing that these hounds, when they taste blood, seem for a time to lose their fineness of scent; but we shall see.”
Archie’s opinion turned out correct. Do what they would they could not induce Hector again to take up his master’s trail, the hound again and again returning to the spot where the dead Highlander still lay. Pembroke had the body carried off but the hound tugged at his chain in the direction in which it had gone, and seemed to have lost all remembrance of the track upon which he was going. At last Pembroke was obliged to acknowledge that it was useless to pursue longer, and, full of disappointment at their failure, the party returned to camp, Pembroke saying: “Our chase is but postponed. We are sure to get tidings of Bruce’s hiding place in a day or two, and next time we will have the hound muzzled, lest any hotheaded Highlander should again interfere to mar the sport.”