“Good night, Master. Glad to see you’re looking more like yourself. I told the wife it was only a lover’s quarrel most like. She’s been worrying about you; but she didn’t like to ask you what was the trouble. She ain’t one of them unfortunate folks who can’t be happy athout they’re everlasting poking their noses into other people’s business. But what kind of a rumpus was kicked up at the Gordon place, to-night, Master?”
Eric looked amazed. What could Robert Williamson have heard so soon?
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Why, us folks at the station knew there must have been a to-do of some kind when Neil Gordon went off on the harvest excursion the way he did.”
“Neil gone! On the harvest excursion!” exclaimed Eric.
“Yes, sir. You know this was the night the excursion train left. They cross on the boat to-night—special trip. There was a dozen or so fellows from hereabouts went. We was all standing around chatting when Lincoln Frame drove up full speed and Neil jumped out of his rig. Just bolted into the office, got his ticket and out again, and on to the train without a word to any one, and as black looking as the Old Scratch himself. We was all too surprised to speak till he was gone. Lincoln couldn’t give us much information. He said Neil had rushed up to their place about dark, looking as if the constable was after him, and offered to sell that black filly of his to Lincoln for sixty dollars if Lincoln would drive him to the station in time to catch the excursion train. The filly was Neil’s own, and Lincoln had been wanting to buy her but Neil would never hear to it afore. Lincoln jumped at the chance. Neil had brought the filly with him, and Lincoln hitched right up and took him to the station. Neil hadn’t no luggage of any kind and wouldn’t open his mouth the whole way up, Lincoln says. We concluded him and old Thomas must have had a row. D’ye know anything about it? Or was you so wrapped up in sweethearting that you didn’t hear or see nothing else?”
Eric reflected rapidly. He was greatly relieved to find that Neil had gone. He would never return and this was best for all concerned. Old Robert must be told a part of the truth at least, since it would soon become known that Kilmeny could speak.
“There was some trouble at the Gordon place to-night, Mr. Williamson,” he said quietly. “Neil Gordon behaved rather badly and frightened Kilmeny terribly,—so terribly that a very surprising thing has happened. She has found herself able to speak, and can speak perfectly.”
Old Robert laid down the piece of cheese he was conveying to his mouth on the point of a knife and stared at Eric in blank amazement.
“God bless my soul, Master, what an extraordinary thing!” he ejaculated. “Are you in earnest? Or are you trying to see how much of a fool you can make of the old man?”
“No, Mr. Williamson, I assure you it is no more than the simple truth. Dr. Baker told me that a shock might cure her,—and it has. As for Neil, he has gone, no doubt for good, and I think it well that he has.”