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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 138 pages of information about The Herd Boy and His Hermit.

CHAPTER III.  OVER THE MOOR

In humblest, simplest habit clad,
But these were all to me.—­Goldsmith.

‘Hal!  What is your name?’

She stood at the door of the hovel, the rising sun lighting up her bright dark eyes, and smiling in the curly rings of her hair while Hal stood by, and Watch bounded round them.

‘You have heard,’ he said, half smiling, and half embarrassed.

‘Hal!  That’s no name.’

‘Harry, an it like you better.’

‘Harry what?’ with a little stamp of her foot.

‘Harry Hogward, as you see, or Shepherd, so please you.’

’You are no Hogward, nor shepherd!  These folk be no kin to you, I can see.  Come, an you love me, tell me true!  I told you true who I am, Red Rose though I see you be!  Why not trust me the same?’

’Lady, I verily ken no name save Harry.  I would trust you, verily I would, but I know not myself.’

‘I guess!  I guess!’ she cried, clapping her hands, but at the moment Dolly laid a hand on her shoulder.

‘Do not guess, maiden,’ she said.  ’If thou wouldst not bring evil on the lad that found thee, and the roof that sheltered thee, guess not, yea, and utter not a word save that thou hast lain in a shepherd’s hut.  Forget all, as though thou hadst slept in the castle on the hill that fades away with the day.’

She ended hastily, for her husband was coming up with a rough pony’s halter in his hand.  He was in haste to be off, lest a search for the lost child might extend to his abode, and his gloomy displeasure and ill-masked uneasiness reduced every-one to silence in his presence.

‘Up and away, lady wench!’ he said.  ’No time to lose if you are to be at Greystone ere night!  Thou Hal, thou lazy lubber, go with Piers and the sheep—­’

‘I shall go with you,’ replied Hal, in a grave tone of resolution.  ‘I will only go within view of the convent, but go with you I will.’

He spoke with a decided tone of authority, and Hob Hogward muttered a little to himself, but yielded.

Hal assisted the young lady to mount, and they set off along the track of the moss, driving the cows, sheep, and goats before them—­ not a very considerable number—­till they came to another hut, much smaller and more rude than that where they had left Mother Doll.

Piers was a wild, shaggy-haired lad, with a sheepskin over his shoulders, and legs bare below the knee, and to him the charge of the flock was committed, with signs which he evidently understood and replied to with a gruff ‘Ay, ay!’ The three went on the way, over the slope of a hill, partly clothed with heather, holly and birch trees, as it rose above the moss.  Hob led the pony, and there was something in his grim air and manner that hindered any conversation between the two young people.  Only Hal from time to time gathered a flower for the young lady, scabious and globe flowers, and once a very pink wild rose, mingled with white ones.  Lady Anne took them with a meaning smile, and a merry gesture, as though she were going to brush Hal’s face with the petals.  Hal laughed, and said, ’You will make them shed.’

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