Bob Son of Battle
Part 3 out of 5
'Let us do or die!'
The shaft snapped, and the little man tottered back. Red Wull
jumped down from the table, and, in doing so, brushed against the
Cup. It toppled* over on to the floor, and rolled tinkling away in
the dust. And the little man fled madly out of the house, still
screaming his war-song.
When, late that night, M'Adam returned home, the Cup was gone.
Down on his hands and knees he traced out its path, plain to see,
where it had rolled along the dusty floor. Beyond that there was no
At first he was too much overcome to speak. Then he raved round
the room like a derelict ship, Red Wull following uneasily behind.
He cursed; he blasphemed; he screamed and beat the walls with
feverish hands. A stranger, passing, might well have thought this
was a private Bedlam. At last, exhausted, he sat down and cried.
"It's David, Wullie, ye may depend; David that's robbed his father's
hoose. Oh, it's a grand thing to ha' a dutiful son!"--and he bowed
his gray head in his hands.
David, indeed, it was. He had come back to the Grange during his
father's absence, and, taking the Cup from its grimy bed, had
marched it away to its rightful home. For that evening at Kenmuir,
James Moore had said to him:
"David, your father's not sent the Cup. I shall come and fetch it
to-morrow." And David knew he meant it. Therefore, in order to
save a collision between his father and his friend--a collision the
issue of which he dared hardly contemplate, knowing, as he did,
the unalterable determination of the one and the lunatic passion of
the other--the boy had resolved to fetch the Cup himself, then
and there, in the teeth, if needs be, of his father and the Tailless
Tyke. And he had done it.
When he reached home that night he marched, contrary to his
wont, straight into the kitchen.
There sat his father facing the door, awaiting him, his hands upon
his knees. For once the little man was alone; and David, brave
though he was, thanked heaven devoutly that Red Wull was
For a while father and son kept silence, watching one another like
'Twas you as took ma Cup?" asked the little man at last, leaning
forward in his chair.
'Twas me as took Mr. Moore's Cup," the boy replied. "I thowt yo'
mun ha' done wi' it--I found it all hashed upon the floor."
"You took it--pit up to it, nae doot, by James Moore."
David made a gesture of dissent.
"Ay, by James Moore," his father continued. "He dursena come
hissel' for his ill-gotten spoils, so he sent the son to rob the father.
The coward!"--his whole frame shook with passion. "I'd ha' thocht
James Moore'd ha' bin man enough to come himself for what he
wanted. I see noo I did him a wrang--I misjudged him. I kent him a
heepocrite; am o' yer unco gudes; a man as looks one thing, says
anither, and does a third; and noo I ken he's a coward. He's fear'd o'
me, sic as I am, five foot twa in ma stockin's." He rose from his
chair and drew himself up to his full
"Mr. Moore had nowt to do wi' it," David persisted.
"Ye're lyin'. James Moore pit ye to it."
"I tell yo' he did not."
"Ye'd ha' bin willin' enough wi'oot him, if ye'd thocht o't, I grant ye.
But ye've no the wits. All there is o' ye has gane to mak' yer
rnuckle body. Hooiver, that's no matter. I'll settle wi' James Moore
anither time. I'll settle wi' you noo, David M'Adam."
He paused, and looked the boy over from bead to foot.
So, ye're not only an idler! a wastrel! a liar! "--he spat the words
out. "Ye're--God help ye--a thief!"
"I'm no thief!" the boy returned hotly. "I did but give to a mon what
ma feyther-- shame on hirn!--wrongfully kept from him."
"Wrangfully?" cried the little man, advancing with burning face.
'Twas honorably done, keepin' what wasna your'n to keep! Holdin'
back his rights from a man! Ay, if ony one's the thief, it's not me:
it's you, I say, you! "--and he looked his father in the face with
"I'm the thief, am I?" cried the other, incoherent with passion.
"Though ye're three times ma size, I'll teach ma son to speak so to
The old strap, now long disused, hung in the chimney corner. As
he spoke the little man sprang back, ripped it from the wall, and,
almost before David realized what he was at, had brought it down
with a savage slash across his son's shoulders; and as he smote he
whistled a shrill, imperative note:
"Wullie, Wullie, to me!"
David felt the blow through his coat like a bar of hot iron laid
across his back. His passion seethed within him; every vein
throbbed; every nerve quivered. In a minute he would wipe out,
once and for all, the score of years; for the moment, however,
there was urgent business on hand. For outside he could hear the
quick patter of feet hard-galloping, and the scurry of a huge
creature racing madly to a call.
With a bound he sprang at the open door; and again the strap came
lashing down, and a wild voice:
"Quick, Wullie! For God's sake, quick!"
David slammed the door to. It shut with a rasping snap; and at the
same moment a great body from without thundered against it with
terrific violence, and a deep voice roared like the sea when
thwarted of its prey.
"Too late, agin!" said David, breathing hard; and shot the bolt
home with a clang. Then he turned on his father.
"Noo," said he, "man to man!"
"Ay," cried the other, "father to son!"
The little man half turned and leapt at the old musketoon hanging
on the wall. He missed it, turned again, and struck with the strap
full at the other's face. David caught the falling arm at the wrist,
hitting it aside with such tremendous force that the bone all but
snapped. Then he smote his father a terrible blow on the chest, and
the little man staggered back, gasping, into the corner; while the
strap dropped from his numbed fingers.
Outside Red Wull whined and scratched; but the two men paid no
David strode forward; there was murder in his face. The little man
saw it: his time was come; but his bitterest foe never impugned
Adam M'Adam's courage.
He stood huddled in the corner, all dis-. hevelled, nursing one arm
with the other, entirely unafraid.
"Mind, David," he said, quite calm, "murder 'twill be, not
"Murder 'twill be," the boy answered, in thick, low voice, and was
across the room.
Outside Red Wull banged and clawed high up on the door with
The little man suddenly slipped his hand in his pocket, pulled out
something, and flung it. The missile pattered on his son's face like
a rain-drop on a charging bull, and David smiled as he came on. It
dropped softly on the table at his side; he looked down and--it was
the face of his mother which gazed up at him!
"Mither!" he sobbed, stopping short. "Mither! Ma God, ye saved
He stood there, utterly unhinged, shaking and whimpering.
It was some minutes before he pulled himself together; then he
walked to the wall, took down a pair of shears, and seated himself
at the table, still trembling. Near him lay the miniature, all torn
and crumpled, and beside it the deep-buried axe-head.
He picked up the strap and began cutting it into little pieces.
"There! and there! and there!" he said with each snip. "An' ye hit
me agin there may be no mither to save ye."
M'Adam stood huddling in the corner. He shook like an aspen leaf;
his eyes blazed in his white face; and he still nursed one arm with
"Honor yer father," he quoted in small, low
PART IV THE BLACK KILLER
Chapter XIV. A MAD MAN
TAMMAS is on his feet in the tap-room of the Arms, brandishing
a pewter mug.
"Gen'lemen!" he cries, his old face flushed; "I gie you a toast. Stan'
The knot of Dalesmen round the fire rises like one. The old man
waves his mug before him, reckless of the good ale that drips on to
"The best sheep-dog i' th' North--Owd Bob o' Kenmuir!" he cries.
In an instant there is uproar: the merry applause of clinking
pewters; the stamping of feet; the rattle of sticks. Rob Saunderson
and old Jonas are cheering with the best; Tupper and Ned Hoppin
are bellowing in one another's ears; Long Kirby and Jem Burton
are thumping each other on the back; even Sam'l Todd and Sexton
Ross are roused from their habitual melancholy.
"Here's to Th' Owd Un! Here's to oor Bob!" yell stentorian voices;
while Rob Saunderson has jumped on to a chair.
"Wi' the best sheep-dog i' th' North I gie yo' the Shepherd's
Trophy!--won outreet as will be!" he cries. Instantly the clamor
"The Dale Cup and Th' Owd Un! The Trophy and oor Bob! 'Ip, 'ip,
for the gray dogs! 'Ip, 'ip, for the best sheep-dog as ever was or will
be! 'Ooray, 'ooray!"
It is some minutes before the noise subsides; and slowly the
enthusiasts resume their seats with hoarse throats and red faces.
A little unconsidered man is standing up at the back of the room.
His face is aflame, and his hands twitch spasmodically; and, in
front, with hackles up and eyes gleaming, is a huge, bull-like dog.
"Noo," cries the little man, "I daur ye to repeat that lie!"
"Lie!" screams Tammas; "lie! I'll gie 'im lie! Lemme at im', I say!"
The old man in his fury is half over the surrounding ring of chairs
before Jim Mason on the one hand and Jonas Maddox on the other
can pull him back.
'Coom, Mr. Thornton," soothes the octogenarian, "let un be. Yo'
surely bain't angered by the likes o' 'im!"--and he jerks
contemptuously toward the solitary figure at his back.
Tammas resumes his seat unwillingly.
The little man in the far corner of the room remains silent, waiting
for his challenge to be taken up. It is in vain. And as he looks at
the range of broad, impassive backs turned on him, he smiles
"They dursen't Wullie, not a man of them a'!" he cries. "They're
one--two--three--- four--eleven to one, Wullie, and yet they
dursen't. Eleven of them, and every man a coward! Long
rest, and not one but's a bigger man nor me, and yet--Weel, we
might ha' kent it. We should ha' kent Englishmen by noo. They're
aye the same and aye have bin. They tell lies, black lies--"
Tammas is again half out his chair and, only forcibly restrained by
the men on either hand.
"--and then they ha' na the courage to stan' by 'em. Ye're English,
ivery man o' ye, to yer marrow."
The little man's voice rises as he speaks. He seizes the tankard
from the table at his side.
"Englishmen!" he cries, waving it before him. "Here's a health!
The best sheep-dog as iver penned a flock--Adam M'Adam's Red.
He pauses, the pewter at his lips, and looks at his audience with
flashing eyes. There is no response from them.
"Wullie, here's to you!" he cries. "Luck and life to ye, ma trusty
fier! Death and defeat to yer enemies!
He raises the tankard and drains it to its uttermost dreg.
Then drawing himself up, he addresses his audience once more:
"An' noo I'll warn ye aince and for a', and ye may tell James Moore
I said it: He may plot agin us, Wullie and me; he may threaten its;
he may win the Cup outright for his muckle favorite; but there was
niver a man or dog yet as did Adam M'Adam and his Red Wull a
hurt but in the end he wush't his mither hadna borne him."
A little later, and he walks out of the inn, the Tailless Tyke at his
After he is gone it is Rob Saunderson who says: "The little mon's
mad; he'll stop at nothin"; and Tammas who answers:
"Nay; not even murder."
The little man had aged much of late. His hair was quite white, his
eyes unnaturally bright, and his hands were never still, as though
he were in everlasting pain. He looked the picture of disease.
After Owd Bob's second victory he had become morose and
untalkative. At home he often sat silent for hours together,
drinking and glaring at the place where the Cup had been.
Sometimes he talked in low, eerie voice to Red Wull; and on two
occasions, David, turning, suddenly, had caught his father
glowering stealthily at him with such an expression on his face as
chilled the boy's blood. The two never spoke now; and David held
this silent, deadly enmity far worse than the old-time perpetual
It was the same at the Sylvester Arms. The little man sat alone
with Red Wull, exchanging words with no man, drinking steadily,
brooding over his wrongs, only now and again galvanized into
Other people than Tammas Thornton came to the conclusion that
M'Adam would stop at nothing in the undoing of James Moore or
the gray dog. They said drink and disappointment had turned his
head; that he was mad and dangerous. And on New Year's day
matters seemed coming to a crisis; for it was reported that in the
gloom of a snowy evening he had drawn a knife on the Master in
the High Street, but slipped before he could accomplish his fell
Most of them all, David was haunted with an ever-present anxiety
as to the little man's intentions. The boy even went so far as to
warn his friend against his father. But the Master only smiled
"Thank ye, lad," he said. "But I reck'n we can 'fend for oorsel's,
Bob and I. Eh, Owd Un?"
Anxious as David might be, he was not so anxious as to be above
taking a mean advantage of this state of strained apprehension to
work on Maggie's fears.
One evening he was escorting her home from church, when, just
before they reached the larch copse: "Goo' sakes! What's that?" he
ejaculated in horror-laden accents, starting back.
"What, Davie?" cried the girl, shrinking up to him all in a tremble.
"Couldna say for sure. It mought be owt, or agin it mought be
nowt. But yo' grip my arm, I'll grip yo' waist."
"Canst see onythin'?" she asked, still in a flutter.
"Be'ind the 'edge."
"Theer! "--pointing vaguely.
"I canna see nowt."
"Why, theer, lass. Can yo' not see? Then yo' pit your head along o'
mine--so---closer---- closer." Then, in aggrieved tones: "Whativer
is the matter wi' yo', wench? I might be a leprosy."
But the girl was walking away with her head high as the
"So long as I live, David M'Adam," she cried, "I'll niver go to
church wi' you agin!"
"Iss, but you will though-.-onst," he answered low.
Maggie whisked round in a flash, superbly indignant.
"What d'yo' mean, sir-r-r?"
"Yo' know what I mean, lass," he replied sheepish and shuffling
before her queenly anger.
She looked him up and down, and down and up again.
"I'll niver speak to you agin, Mr. M'Adam, she cried; "not if it was
ever so--Nay, I'll walk home by myself, thank you. I'll ha' nowt to
do wi' you."
So the two must return to Kenmuir, one behind the other, like a
lady and her footman..
David's audacity had more than once already all but caused a
rupture between the pair. And the occurrence behind the hedge set
the cap on his impertinences. That was past enduring and Maggie
by her bearing let him know it.
David tolerated the girl's new attitude for exactly twelve minutes
by the kitchen clock. Then: "Sulk wi' me, indeed! I'll teach her!"
and he marched out of the door, "Niver to cross it agin, ma
Afterward, however, he relented so far as to continue his visits as
before; but he made. it clear that he only came to see the Master
and hear of Owd Bob's doings. On these occasions he loved best to
sit on the window-sill outside the kitchen, and talk and chaff with
Tammas and the men in the yard, feigning an uneasy bashfulness
was reference made to Bessie Boistock. And after sitting thus for
some time, he would half turn, look over his.
the girl within: "Oh, good-evenin'! I forgot yo', "--and then resume
his conversation. While the girl within, her face a little pinker, her
lips a little tighter, and her chin a little higher, would go about her
business, pretending neither to hear nor care.
The suspicions that M'Adam nourished dark designs against James
Moore were somewhat confirmed in that, on several occasions in
the bitter dusks of January afternoons, a little insidious figure was
reported to have been seen lurking among the farm-buildings of
Once Sam'l Todd caught the little man fairly, skulking away in the
woodshed. Sam'l took him up bodily and carried him down the
slope to the Wastrel, shaking him gently as he went.
Across the stream he put him on his feet.
"If I catches yo' cadgerin' aroun' the farm agin, little mon," he
admonished, holding up a warning finger; "I'll tak' yo' and drap yo'
in t' Sheep-wash, I warn yo' fair. I'd ha' done it noo an' yo'd bin a
bigger and a younger mon. But theer! yo'm sic a scrappety bit.
Noo, nfl whoam." And the little man slunk silently away.
For a time he appeared there no more. Then, one evening when it
was almost dark, James Moore, going the round of the
outbuildings, felt Owd Bob stiffen against his side.
and, dropping his hand on the old dog's neck felt a ruff of rising
hair beneath it.
"Steady, lad, steady," he whispered; "what is 't?" He peered
forward into the gloom; and at length discerned a little familiar
figure huddled away in the crevice between two stacks.
"It's yo, is it, M'Adam?" he said, and, bending, seized a wisp of
Owd Bob's coat in a grip like a vice.
Then, in a great voice, moved to rare anger. "Oot o' this afore I do
ye a hurt, ye meeserable spyin' creeturt" he roared. "Yo' mun wait.
till dark cooms to hide yo', yo' coward, afore yo daur coom crawlin'
aboot ma hoose, frightenin' the women-folk and up to yer
devilments. If yo've owt to say to me, coom like a mon in the open
day. Noo git aff wi' yo', afore I lay hands to yo'!"
He stood there in the dusk, tall and mighty, a terrible figure, one
hand pointing to the gate, the other still grasping the gray dog.
The little man scuttled away in the halflight, and out of the yard.
On the plank-bridge he turned and shook his fist at the darkening
"Curse ye, James Moore!" he sobbed, "I'll be even wi' ye yet."
Chapter XV. DEATH ON THE MARCHES
ON the top of this there followed an attempt to poison Th' Owd
Un. At least there was no other accounting for the affair.
In the dead of a long-remembered night James Moore was waked
by a low moaning beneath his room. He leapt out of bed and ran to
the window to see his favorite dragging about the moonlit yard, the
dark head down, the proud tail for once lowered, the lithe limbs
wooden, heavy, unnatural--altogether pitiful.
In a moment he was downstairs and out to his friend's assistance.
"Whativer is't, Owd Un?" he cried in anguish.
At the sound of that dear voice the old dog tried to struggle to him,
could not, and fell, whimpering.
In a second the Master was with him, examining him tenderly, and
crying for Sam'l, who slept above the stables.
There was every symptom of foul play: the tongue was swollen
and almost black; the breathing labored; the body twiched
horribly; and the soft gray eyes all bloodshot and straining in
With the aid of Sam'l and Maggie, drenching first and stimulants
after, the Master pulled him around for the moment. And soon Jim
Mason and Parson Leggy, hurriedly summoned, came running
hot-foot to the rescue.
Prompt and stringent measures saved the victim--but only just. For
a time the best sheep-dog in the North was pawing at the Gate of
Death. In the end, as the gray dawn broke, the danger passed.
The attempt to get at him, if attempt it was, aroused passionate
indignation in the countryside. It seemed the culminating-point of
the excitement long bubbling.
There were no traces of the culprit; not a vestige to lead to
incrimination, so cunningly had the criminal accomplished his foul
task. But as to the perpetrator, if there where no proofs there were
yet fewer doubts.
At the Sylvester Arms Long Kirby asked M'Adam point-blank for
his explanation of the matter.
"Hoo do I 'count for it?" the little man cried. "I dinna 'count for it
"Then hoo did it happen?" asked Tammas with asperity.
"I dinna believe it did happen," the little man replied. "It's a lee o'
James Moore's-- a charactereestic lee." Whereon they chucked him
out incontinently; for the Terror for once was elsewhere.
Now that afternoon is to be remembered for threefold causes.
Firstly, because, as has been said, M'Adam was alone. Secondly,
because, a few minutes after his ejectment, the window of the
tap-room was thrown open from without, and the little man looked
in. He spoke no word, but those dim, smouldering eyes of his
wandered from face to face, resting for a second on each, as if to
burn them on his memory. "I'll remember ye, gentlemen," he said
at length quietly, shut the window, and was gone.
Thirdly, for a reason now to be told.
Though ten days had elapsed since the attempt on him, the gray
dog had never been his old self since. He had attacks of shivering;
his vitality seemed sapped; he tired easily, and, great heart, would
never own it. At length on this day, James Moore, leaving the old
dog behind him, had gone over to Grammoch-town to consult
Dingley, the vet. On his way home he met Jim Mason with Gyp,
the faithful Betsy's unworthy successor, at the Dalesman's
Daughter. Together they started for the long tramp home over the
Marches. And that journey is marked with a red stone in this story.
All day long the hills had been bathed in inpenetrable fog.
Throughout there had been an accompanying drizzle; and in the
distance the wind had moaned a storm-menace. To the darkness of
the day was added the sombreness of falling night as the three
began the ascent of the Murk Muir Pass. By the time they emerged
into the Devil's Bowl it was altogether black and blind. But the
threat of wind had passed, leaving utter stillness; and they could
hear the splash of an otter on the far side of the Lone Tarn as they
skirted that gloomy water's edge. When at length the last steep rise
on to the Marches had been topped, a breath of soft air smote them
lightly, and the curtain of fog began drifting away.
The two men swung steadily through the heather with that
reaching stride the birthright of moor-men and highianders. They
talked but little, for such was their nature: a word or two on sheep
and the approaching lambing-time; thence on to the coming Trials;
the Shepherds' Trophy; Owd Bob and the attempt on him; and
from that to M'Adam and the Tailless Tyke,
"D'yo' reck'n M'Adam had a hand in't?" the postman was asking.
"Nay; there's no proof."
"Ceptin' he's mad to get shut o' Th' Owd Un afore Cup Day."
or me--it mak's no differ." For a dog is disqualified from
competing for the Trophy who has changed hands during the six
months prior to the meeting. And this holds good though the
change be only from father to son on the decease of the former.
Jim looked up inquiringly at his companion.
"D'yo' think it'll coorn to that?" he asked.
"Not if I can help it," the other answered grimly.
The fog had cleared away by now, and the moon was up. To their
right, on the crest of a rise some two hundred yards away, a low
wood stood out black against the sky. As they passed it, a
blackbird rose up screaming, and a brace of wood-pigeons winged
"Hullo! hark to the yammerin'!" muttered Jim, stopping; "and at
this time o' night too!"
Some rabbits, playing in the moonlight on the outskirts of the
wood, sat up, listened, and hopped back into security. At the same
moment a big hill-fox slunk out of the covert. He stole a pace
forward and halted, listening with one ear back and one pad raised;
then cantered silently away in the gloom, passing close to the two
men and yet not observing them.
"What's up, I wonder?" mused the postman.
"The fox set 'em clackerin', I reck'n," said the Master.
"Not he; he was scared 'maist oot o' his skin," the other answered.
Then in tones of suppressed excitement, with his hands on James
Moore's arm: "And, look'ee, theer's ma Gyp a-beckonin' on us!"
There, indeed, on the crest of the rise beside the wood, was the
little lurcher, now looking back at his master, now creeping
"Ma word! theer's summat wrong yonder!" cried Jim, and jerked
the post-bags off his shoulder. "Coom on, Master! "--and he set off
running toward the dog; while James Moore, himself excited now,
followed with an agility that belied his years.
Some score yards from the lower edge of the spinney, upon the
farther side of the ridge, a tiny beck babbled through its bed of
peat. The two men, as they topped the rise, noticed a flock of
black-faced mountain-sheep clustered in the dip 'twixt wood and
stream. They stood martialled in close array, facing half toward the
wood, half toward the newcomers, heads up, eyes glaring,
handsome as sheep only look when scared.
On the crest of the ridge the two men halted beside Gyp. The
postman stood with his head a little forward, listening intently.
Then he dropped in the heather like a dead man, pulling the other
"Doon, mon!" he whispered, clutching at Gyp with his spare hand.
"What is't, Jim?" asked the Master, now thoroughly roused.
"Summat movin' i' th' wood," the other whispered, listening
So they lay motionless for a while; but there came no sound from
"'Appen 'twas nowt," the postman at length allowed, peering
cautiously about. "And yet I thowt--I dunno reetly what I thowt."
Then, starting to his knees with a hoarse cry of terror: "Save us!
what's yon theer?"
Then for the first time the Master raised his head and noticed,
lying in the gloom between them and the array of sheep, a still,
James Moore was a man of deeds, not words. "It's past waitin'!" he
said, and sprang forward, his heart in his mouth.
The sheep stamped and shuffled as he came, and yet did not break.
"Ah, thanks be!" he cried, dropping beside the motionless body;
"it's nob'but a sheep." As he spoke his hands wandered deftly over
the carcase. "But what's this?" he called. "Stout' she was as me.
Look at her fleece-- crisp, close, strong; feel the flesh--finn as a
rock. And ne'er a bone broke, ne're a scrat on her body a pin could
mak'. As healthy as a mon--and yet dead as mutton!"
Jim, still trembling from the horror of his fear, came up, and knelt
beside his friend. "Ah, but there's bin devilry in this!" he said; 'I
reck'ned they sheep had bin badly skeared, and not so long agone."
"Sheep-murder, sure enough!" the other answered. "No fox's
doin'--a girt-grown twoshear as could 'maist knock a h'ox."
Jim's hands travelled from the body to the dead creature's throat.
"By gob, Master! look 'ee theer!" He held his hand up in the
moonlight, and it dripped red. "And warm yet! warm!"
"Tear some bracken, Jim!" ordered the other, "and set a-light. We
mun see to this."
The postman did as bid. For a moment the fern smouldercd and
smoked, then the flame ran crackling along and shot up in the
darkness, weirdly lighting the scene: to the right the low wood, a
block of solid blackness against the sky; in front the wall of sheep,
staring out of the gloom with biight eyes; and as centre-piece that
still, white body, with the kneeling men and lurcher sniffing
The victim was subjected to a critical examination. The throat, and
that only, had been hideously mauled; from the raw wounds the
flesh hung in horrid shreds; on the ground all about were little
pitiful dabs of wool, wrenched off apparently in a struggle; and,
crawling among the fern-roots, a snake-like track of red led down
to the stream.
"A dog's doin', and no mistakin' thot," said Jim at length, after a
"Ay," declared the Master with slow emphasis, "and a sheep-dog's
too, and an old un's, or I'm no shepherd."
The postman looked up.
"Why thot?" he asked, puzzled.
"Becos," the Master answered, "'im as did this killed for
blood--and for blood only. If had bin ony other dog--greyhound,
bull, tarrier, or even a young sheep-dog---d'yo' think he'd ha'
stopped wi' the one? Not he; he'd ha' gone through 'em, and be
runnin' 'em as like as not yet, nippin' 'em, pullin' 'em down, till he'd
maybe killed the half. But 'im as did this killed for blood, I say. He
got it--killed just the one, and nary touched the others, d'yo 'see,
The postman whistled, long and low.
"It's just what owd Wrottesley'd tell on," he said. "I never nob'but
half believed him then--I do now though. D'yo' mind what th' owd
lad'd tell, Master?"
James Moore nodded.
"Thot's it. I've never seen the like afore myself, but I've heard ma
grandad speak o't mony's the time. An owd dog'll git the cray-in'
for sheep's blood on him, just the same as a mon does for the
drink; he creeps oot o' nights, gallops afar, hunts his sheep, downs
'er, and satisfies the cravin'. And he nary kills but the one, they say,
for he knows the value o' sheep same as you and me. He has his
gallop, quenches the thirst, and then he's for home, maybe a score
mile away, and no one the wiser i' th' mornin'. And so on, till he
cooms to a bloody death, the murderin' traitor."
"If he does!" said Jim.
"And he does, they say, nigh always. For he gets bolder and bolder
wi' not bein' caught, until one fine night a bullet lets light into him.
And some mon gets knocked nigh endways when they bring his
best tyke home i' th' mornin', dead, wi' the sheep's wool yet stickin'
in his mouth."
The postman whistled again.
"It's what owd Wrottesley'd tell on to a tick. And he'd say, if ye
mind, Master, as hoo the dog'd niver kill his master's sheep--kind o'
"Ay, I've heard that," said the Master. "Queer too, and 'im bein'
such a bad un!"
Jim Mason rose slowly from his knees.
"Ma word," he said, "I wish Th' Owd Un was here. He'd 'appen
show us sum-mat!"
"I nob'but wish he was, pore owd lad!" said the Master.
As he spoke there was a crash in the wood above them; a sound as
of some big body bursting furiously through brusliwood.
The two men rushed to the top of the rise. In the darkness they
could see nothing; only, standing still and holding. their breaths,
they could hear the faint sound, ever growing fainter, of some
creature splashing in a hasty gallop over the wet moors.
"Yon's him! Yon's no fox, I'll tak' oath. And a main big un, too,
hark to him!" cried Jim. Then to Gyp, who had rushed off in hot
pursuit: Coom back, chunk-'ead. What's usc o' you agin a gallopin'
Gradually the sounds died away and away, and were no more.
"Thot's 'im, the devil!" said the Master at length.
"Nay; the devil has a tail, they do say,"
replied Jim thoughtfully. For already the light of suspicion was
focusing its red glare.
"Noo I reck'n we're in for bloody times amang the sheep for a
while," said the Master, as Jim picked up his bags.
"Better a sheep nor a mon," answered the postman, still harping on
the old theme.
Chapter XIX. LAD AND LASS
AN immense sensation this affair of the Scoop created in the
Daleland. It spurred the Dalesmen into fresh endeavors. James
Moore and M Adam were examined and re-examined. as to the
minutest details of the matter. The whole country-side was
placarded with huge bills, offering 100 pounds reward for the
capture of the criminal dead or alive. While the vigilance of the
watchers was such that in a single week they bagged a donkey, an
old woman, and two amateur detectives.
In Wastrel-dale the near escape of the Killer, the collision between
James Moore and Adam, and Owd Bob's unsuccess, who was not
wont to fail, aroused intense excitement, with which was mingled
a certain anxiety as to their favorite.
For when the Master had reached home that night, he had found
the old dog already there; and he must have wrenched his foot in
the pursuit or run a thorn into it, for he was very lame. Whereat,
when it was reported at the Sylvester Arms, M'Adam winked at
Red Wull and muttered, "Ah, forty foot is an ugly tumble."
A week later the little man called at Ken-muir. As he entered the
yard, David was standing outside the kitchen window, looking very
glum and miserable. On seeing his father, however, the boy started
forward, all alert.
"What d'yo' want here?" he cried roughly. "Same as you, dear lad,"
the little man giggled, advancing. "I come on a visit."
"Your visits to Kenmuir are usually paid by night, so I've heard,"
The little man affected not to hear.
"So they dinna allow ye indoors wi' the Cup," he laughed. "They
know yer little ways then, David,"
"Nay, I'm not wanted in there," David answered bitterly, but not so
loud that his father could hear. Maggie within the kitchen heard,
however, but paid no heed; for her heart was hard against the boy,
who of late, though he never addressed her, had made himself as
unpleasant in a thousand little ways as only David M'Adam could.
At that moment the Master came stalking into the yard, Owd Bob
preceding him; and as the old dog recognized his visitor he bristled
At the sight of the Master M'Adam hurried forward.
"I did but come to ask after the tyke," he
~said. "Is he gettin' over his lameness?"
James Moore looked surprised; then his stern face relaxed into a
cordial smile. Such generous anxiety as to the welfare of Red
Wull's rival was a wholly new characteristic in the little man,
"I tak' it kind in yo', M'Adam," he said, "to come and inquire."
"Is the thorn oot?" asked the little man with eager interest,
shooting his head forward. to stare closely at the other.
"It came oot last night wi' the poulticin'," the Master answered,
returning the other's gaze, calm and steady.
"I'm glad o' that," said the little man, still staring. But his yellow,
grinning face said as plain words, "Wha1~ a liar ye are, James
The days passed on. His father's taunts and gibes, always becoming
more bitter, drove David almost to distraction.
He longed to make it up with Maggie; he longed for that tender
sympathy which the girl had always extended to him when his
troubles with his father were heavy on him. The quarrel had lasted
for months now, and. he was well weary of it, and utterly ashamed.
For, at least, he had the good grace to acknowledge that no one
was to blame but himself; and that it had been fostered solely by
his ugly pride.
At length he could endure it no longer, and determined to go to the
girl and ask forgiveness. It would be a bitter ordeal to him; always
unwilling to acknowledge a fault, even to himself, how much
harder would it be to confess it to this strip of a girl. For a time he
thought it was almost more than he could do. Yet, like his father,
once set upon a course, nothing could divert him. So, after a week
of doubts and determinations, of cowardice and courage, he pulled
himself together and off he set.
An hour it took him from the Grange to the bridge over the
Wastrel--an hour which had wont to be a quarter. Now, as he
walked on up the slope from the stream, very slowly, heartening
himself for his penance, he was aware of a strange disturbance in
the yard above him: the noisy cackling of hens, the snorting of pigs
disturbed, and above the rest the cry of a little child ringing out in
He set to running, and sped up the slope as fast as his long legs
would carry him. As he took the gate in his stride, he saw the
white-clad figure of Wee Anne fleeing with unsteady, toddling
steps, her fair hair streaming out behind, and one bare arm striking
wildly back at a great pursuing sow.
David shouted as he cleared the gate, but the brute paid no heed,
and was almost touching the fugitive when Owd Bob came
galloping round the corner, and in a second had flashed between
pursuer and pursued. So close were the two that as he swung round
on the startled sow, his tail brushed the baby to the ground;. and
there she lay kicking fat legs to heaven and calling on all her gods.
David, leaving the old dog to secure the warrior pig, ran round to
her; but he was anticipated. The whole matter had barely occupied
a minute's time; and Maggie, rushing from the kitchen, now had
the child in her arms and was hurrying back with her to the house.
"Eh, ma pet, are yo' hurted, deane?" David could hear her asking
tearfully, as he crossed the yard and established himself in the
"Well," said he, in bantering tones, "yo'm a nice wench to ha'
charge o' oor Annie!"
It was a sore subject with the girl, and well he knew it. Wee Anne,
that golden-haired imp of mischief, was forever evading her
sister-mother's eye and attempting to immolate herself. More than
once she had only been saved from serious hurt by the watchful
devotion of Owd Bob, who always found time, despite his many
labors, to keep a guardian eye on his well-loved lassie. In the
previous winter she had been lost on a bitter night on the Muir
Pike; once she had climbed into a field with the Highland bull, and
barely escaped with her life, while the gray dog held the brute in
check; but a little while before she had been rescued from
drowning by the Tailless Tyke; there had been numerous other
mischances; and now the present mishap. But the girl paid no heed
to her tormentor in her joy at finding the child all unhurt.
"Theer! yo' bain't so much as scratted, ma precious, is yo'?" she
cried. "Rin oot agin, then," and the baby toddled joyfully away.
Maggie rose to her feet and stood with face averted. David's eyes
dwelt lovingly upon her, admiring the pose of the neat head with
its thatch of pretty brown hair; the slim figure, and slender
ankles, peeping modestly from beneath her print frock.
"Ma word! if yo' dad should hear tell o' boo his Anne--" he broke
off into a long-drawn whistle.
Maggie kept silence; but her lips quivered, and the flush deepened
on her cheek.
"I'm fear'd I'll ha' to tell him," the boy continued, "'Tis but ma
"Yo' may tell wham yo' like what yo' like," the girl replied coldly;
yet there was a tremor in her voice.
"First yo' throws her in the stream," David went on remorselessly;
"then yo' chucks her to the pig, and if it had not bin for me--"
"Yo', indeed!" she broke in contemptuously. "Yo'! 'twas Owd Bob
reskied her. Yo'd nowt' to do wi' it, 'cept lookin' on--'bout what
yo're fit for."
"I tell yo'," David pursued stubbornly, ~'an' it had not bin for me
yo' wouldn't have no sister by noo. She'd be lying', she would, pore
little lass, cold as ice, pore mite, wi' no breath in her. An' when yo'
dad coom home there'd be no Wee Anne to rin to him, and climb
on his knee, and yammer to him, and beat his face. An he'd say,
'What's gotten to oor Annie, as I left wi' yo'?' And then yo'd have to
tell him, 'I never took no manner o' fash after her, dad; d'reckly yo'
back was turned, I--'"
The girl sat down, buried her face in her apron, and indulged in the
rare luxury of tears.
"Yo're the cruellest mon as iver was, David M'Adam," she sobbed,
rocking to and fro.
He was at her side in a moment, tenderly bending over her.
"Eh, Maggie, but I am sorry, lass--"
She wrenched away from beneath his hands.
"I hate yo'," she cried passionately.
He gently removed her hands from before her tear-stained face.
"I was nob'but laffin', Maggie," he pleaded; "say yo' forgie me."
"I don't," she cried, struggling. "I think yo're the hatefullest lad as
The moment was critical; it was a time for heroic measures.
"No, yo' don't, lass," he remonstrated; and, releasing her wrists,
lifted the little drooping face, wet as it was, like the earth after a
spring shower, and, holding it between his two big hands, kissed it
"Yo' coward!" she cried, a flood of warm red crimsoning her
cheeks; and she struggled vainly to be free.
"Yo' used to let me," he reminded her in aggrieved tones.
"I niver did!" she cried, more indignant than truthful.
"Yes, yo' did, when we was little uns; that is, yo' was allus for
kissin' and I was allus agin it. And noo," with whole-souled
bitterness, "I mayn't so much as keek at yo' over a stone wall."
However that might be, he was keeking at her from closer range
now; and in that position--for he held her firmly still--she could
not help but keek back. He looked so handsome ~--humble for
once; penitent yet reproachful; his own eyes a little moist; and,
withal, his old audacious self,--that, despite herself, her anger grew
"Say yo' forgie me and l'll let yo' go."
"I don't, nor niver shall," she answered firmly; but there was less
conviction in her heart than voice.
"Iss yo' do, lass," he coaxed, and kissed her again.
She struggled faintly.
"Hoo daur yo'?" she cried through her tears. But he was not to be
"Will yo' noo?" he asked.
She remained dumb, and he kissed her again.
"Impidence!" she cried.
"Ay," said he, closing her mouth.
"I wonder at ye, Davie!" she said, surrendering.
After that Maggie must needs give in; and it was well understood,
though nothing definite had been said, that the boy and girl were
courting. And in the Dale the unanimous opinion was that the
young couple would make "a gradely pair, surely."
M'Adam was the last person to hear the news, long after it had
been common knowledge in the village. It was in the Sylvester
Arms he first heard it, and straightway fell into one of those
foaming frenzies characteristic of him.
"The dochter o' Moore o' Kenmuir, d'ye say? sic a dochter o' sic a
man! The dochter o' th' one man in the wand that's harmed me
aboon the rest! I'd no ha' believed it gin ye'd no tell't me. Oh,
David, David! I'd no ha' thocht it even o' you, ill son as ye've aye
bin to me. I think he might ha' waited till his auld dad was gone,
and he'd no had to wait lang the noo." Then the little man sat down
and burst into tears. Gradually, however, he resigned himself, and
the more readily when he realized that David by his act had
exposed a fresh wound into which he might plunge his barbed
shafts. And he availed himself to the full of his new opportunities.
Often and often David was sore pressed to restrain himself.
"Is't true what they're sayin' that Maggie Moore's nae better than
she should be?" the little man asked one evening with anxious
"They're not sayin' so, and if they were 'twad be a lie," the boy
M'Adam leant back in his chair and nodded his head.
"Ay, they tell't me that gin ony man knew 'twad be David
David strode across the room.
"No, no main o' that," he shouted. "Y'ought to be 'shamed, an owd
mon like you, to speak so o' a lass." The little man edged close up
to his son, and looked up into the fair flushed face towering above
"David," he said in smooth soft tones, "I'm 'stonished ye dinna
strike yen auld dad." He stood with his hands clasped behind his
back as if daring the young giant to raise a finger against him. "Ye
maist might noo," he continued suavely. "Ye maun be sax inches
taller, and a good four stane heavier. Hooiver, aiblins ye're wise to
wait. Anither year twa I'll be an auld man, as ye say, and feebler,
and Wullie here'll be gettin' on, while you'll be in the prime o' yer
strength. Then I think ye might hit me wi' safety to your person,
and honor to yourself."
He took a pace back, smiling.
"Feyther," said David, huskily, "one day yo'll drive me too far."
Chapter XX. THE SNAPPING OF THE STRING
THE spring was passing, marked throughout with the bloody trail
of the Killer. The adventure in the Scoop scared him for a while
into innocuousness; then he resumed his game again with
redoubled zest. It seemed likely he would harry the district till
some lucky accident carried him off, for all chance there was of
You could still hear nightly in the Sylvester Arms and elsewhere
the assertion, delivered with the same dogmatic certainty as of old,
"It's the Terror, I tell yo'!" and that irritating, inevitable reply: "Ay;
but wheer's the proof?" While often, at the same moment, in a
house not far away, a little lonely man was sitting before a
low-burnt fire, rocking to and fro, biting his nails, and muttering to
the great dog whose head lay between his knees:
"If we had but the proof, Wullie! if we had but the proof! I'd give
ma right hand aff my arm gin we had the proof to-morrow."
Long Kirby, who was always for war when some one else was to
do the fighting, suggested that David should be requested, in the
name of the Dalesmen, to tell M'Adam that he must make an end
to Red Wull. But Jim Mason quashed the proposal, remarking truly
enough that there was too much bad blood as it was between father
and son; while Tammas proposed with a sneer that the smith
should be his own agent in the IJatter.
Whether it was this remark of Tammas's which stung the big man
into action, or whether it was that the intensity of his hate gave
him unusual courage, anyhow, a few days later, M'Adam caught
him lurking in the granary of the Grange.
The little man may not have guessed his murderous intent; yet the
blacksmith's white-faced terror, as he crouched away in the darkest
corner, could hardly have escaped remark; though--and Kirby may
thank his stars for it--the treacherous gleam of a gun-barrel,
ill-concealed behind him, did.
"Hullo, Kirby!" said M'Adam cordially, "ye'll stay the night wi'
me?" And the next thing the big man heard was a giggle on the far
side the door, lost in the clank of padlock and rattle of chain.
Then--through a crack-- "Good-night to ye. Hope ye'll be comfie."
And there he stayed that night, the following day and next
night--thirty-six hours in all, with swedes for his hunger and the
dew off the thatch for his thirst.
Meanwhile the struggle between David and his father seemed
coming to a head. The little man's tongue wagged more bitterly
than ever; now it was never at rest--searching out sores, stinging,
Worst of all, he was continually dropping innuendoes, seemingly
innocent enough, yet with a world of subtile meaning at their back,
respecting Maggie. The leer and wink with which, when David
came home from Kenmuir at nights, he would ask the simple
question, "And was she kind, David--eh, eh?" made the boy's blood
boil within him.
And the more effective the little man saw his shots to be, the more
persistently he plied them. And David retaliated in kind. It was a
war of reprisals. There was no peace; there were no truces in
which to bury the dead before the opponents set to slaying others.
And every day brought the combatants nearer to that final struggle,
the issue of which neither cared to contemplate.
There came a Saturday, toward the end of the spring, long to be
remembered by more than David in the Dale.
For that young man the day started sensationally. Rising before
cock-crow, and going to the window, the first thing he saw in the
misty dawn was the gaunt, gigantic figure of Red Wull, hounding
up the hill from the Stony Bottom; and in an instant his faith was
shaken to its foundation.
The dog was travelling up at a long, slouch ing trot; and as he
rapidly approached the house, David saw that his flanks were all
splashed with red mud, his tongue out, and the foam dripping from
his jaws, as though he had come far and fast.
He slunk up to the house, leapt on to the sill of the unused
back-kitchen, some five feet from the ground, pushed with his paw
at the cranky old hatchment, which was its only covering; and, in a
second, the boy, straining out of the window the better to see,
heard the rattle of the boards as the dog dropped within the house.
For the moment, excited as he was, David held his peace. Even the
Black Killer took only second place in his thoughts that morning.
For this was to be a momentous day for him.
That afternoon James Moore and Andrew would, he knew, be over
at Grammoch-town, and, his work finished for the day, he was
resolved to tackle Maggie and decide his fate. If she would have
him--well, he would go next morning and thank God for it,
kneeling beside her in the tiny village church; if not, he would
leave the Grange and all its unhappiness behind, and straightway
plunge out into the world.
All through a week of stern work he had looked forward to this
hard-won half-holiday. Therefore, when, as he was breaking off at
noon, his father turned to him and said abruptly:
"David, ye're to tak' the Cheviot lot o'er to Grammoch-town at
once," he answered shortly:
"Yo' mun tak' 'em yo'sel', if yo' wish 'em to go to-day."
"Na," the little man answered; "Wuflie and me, we're busy. Ye're
to tak' 'em, I tell ye."
"I'll not," David replied. "If they wait for me, they wait till
Monday," and with that he left the room.
"I see what 'tis," his father called after him; "she's give ye a tryst at
Kenmuir. Oh, ye randy David!"
"Yo' tend yo' business; I'll tend mine," the boy answered hotly.
Now it happened that on the previous day Maggie had given him a
photograph of herself, or, rather, David had taken it and Maggie
had demurred. As he left the room it dropped from his pocket. He
failed to notice his loss, but directly he was gone M'Adam pounced
"He! he! Wullie, what's this?" he giggled, holding the photograph
into his face. "He! he! it's the jade hersel', I war'nt; it's Jezebell"
He peered into the picture.
"She kens what's what, I'll tak' oath, Wullie. See her eyes--sae saft
and languishin'; and her lips--such lips, Wullie!" He held the
picture down for the great dog to see: then walked out of the room,
still sniggering, and chucking the face insanely beneath its
Outside the house he collided against David. The boy had missed
his treasure and was hurrying back for it.
"What yo' got theer?" he asked suspiciously.
"Only the pictur' o' some randy quean," his father answered,
chucking away at the inanimate chin.
"Gie it me!" David ordered fiercely. "It's mine."
"Na, na," the little man replied. "It's no for sic douce lads as dear
David to ha' ony touch wi' leddies sic as this."
"Gie it me, I tell ye, or I'll tak' it!" the boy shouted.
"Na, na; it's ma duty as yer dad to keep ye from sic limmers." He
turned, still smiling, to Red Wull.
"There ye are, Wullie!" He threw the photograph to the dog. "Tear
her, Wullie, the Jezebel!"
The Tailless Tyke sprang on the picture, placed one big paw in the
very centre of the face, forcing it into the muck, and tore a corner
off; then he chewed the scrap with unctious, slobbering gluttony,
dropped it, and tore a fresh piece.
David dashed forward.
"Touch it, if ye daur, ye brute!" he yelled; but his father seized him
and held him back.
'And the dogs o' the street,' " he quoted. David turned furiously on
"I've half a mind to brak' ivery bone in yer body!" he shouted,
"robbin' me o' what's mine and throwin' it to yon black brute!"
"Whist, David, whist!" soothed the little man. "Twas but for yer
am good yer auld dad did it. 'Twas that he had at heart as he aye
has. Rin aff wi' ye noo to Kenmuir. She'll mak' it up to ye, I war'nt.
She's leeberal wi' her favors, I hear. Ye've but to whistle and she'll
David seized his father by the shoulder.
"An' yo' gie me much more o' your sauce," he roared.
"Sauce, Wullie," the little man echoed in a gentle voice.
"I'll twist yer neck for yo'!"
"He'll twist my neck for me."
"I'll gang reet awa', I warn yo', and leave you and yer Wullie to yer
The little man began to whimper.
"It'll brak' yer auld dad's heart, lad," he said.
"Nay; yo've got none. But 'twill ruin yo', please God. For yo' and
yer Wullie'll get ne'er a soul to work for yo'--yo' cheeseparin',
The little man burst into an agony of affected tears, rocking to and
fro, his face in his hands. gaein' to leave us--the son o' my bosom!
my Benjamin! my little Davie! he's gaein' awa'!"
David turned away down the hill; and M'Adam lifted his stricken
face and waved a hand at him.
'Adieu, dear amiable youth!' " he cried in broken voice; and
straightway set to sobbing again.
Half-way down to the Stony Bottom David turned.
"I'll gie yo' a word o' warnin'," he shouted back. "I'd advise yo' to
keep a closer eye to yer Wullie's goings on, 'specially o' nights, or
happen yo'il wake to a surprise one mornin'."
In an instant the little man ceased his fooling. "And why that?" he
asked, following down the hill.
"I'll tell yo'. When I wak' this mornin' I walked to the window, and
what d'yo' think I see? Why, your Wullie gollopin' like a good tin
up from the Bottom, all foamin', too, and red-splashed, as if he'd
coom from the Screes. What had he bin up to, I'd like to know?"
"What should he be doin'," the little man replied, "but havin' an eye
to the stock? and that when the Killer might be oot."
David laughed harshly.
"Ay, the Killer was oot, I'll go bail, and yo' may hear o't afore the
evenin', ma man," and 'with that he turned away again.
As he had foreseen, David found Maggie alone. But in the heat of
his indignation against his father he seemed to have forgotten his
original intent, and instead poured his latest troubles into the girl's
"There's but one mon in the world he wishes worse nor me," he
was saying. It was late in the afternoon, and he was still inveighing
against his father and his fate. Maggie sat in her father's chair by
the fire, knitting; while he lounged on the kitchen table, swinging
his long legs.
"And who may that be?" the girl asked.
"Why, Mr. Moore, to be sure, and Th' Owd Un, too. He'd do either
o' them a mischief if he could."
"But why, David?" she asked anxiously. "I'm sure dad niver hurt
him, or ony ither mon for the matter o' that."
David nodded toward the Dale Cup which rested on the
mantelpiece in silvery majesty.
"It's yon done it," he said. "And if Th' Owd Un wins agin, as win he
will, bless him! why, look out for 'me and ma Wullie'; that's all."
Maggie shuddered, and thought of the face at the window.
" 'Me and ma Wullie,' " David continued; "I've had about as much
of them as I can swaller. It's aye the same--'Me and ma Wullie,'
and 'Wullie and me,' as if I never put ma hand to a stroke! Ugh!
"--he made a gesture of passionate disgust--" the two on 'em fair
madden me. I could strike the one and throttle t'other," and he
rattled his heels angrily together.
"Hush, David," interposed the girl; "yo' munna speak so o' your
dad; it's agin the commandments."
'Tain't agin human nature," he snapped in answer. "Why, 'twas
nob'but yester' morn' he says in his nasty way, 'David, ma gran'
fellow, hoo ye work! ye 'stonish me!' And on ma word,
Maggie"--there were tears in the great boy's eyes--" ma back was
nigh broke wi' toilin'. And the Terror, he stands by and shows his
teeth, and looks at me as much as to say, 'Some day, by the grace o'
goodness, I'll ha' my teeth in your throat, young mon.'
Maggie's knitting dropped into her lap and she looked up, her soft
eyes for once flashing.
"It's cruel, David; so 'tis!" she cried. "I wonder yo' bide wi' him. If
he treated me so, I'd no stay anither minute. If it meant the House
for me I'd go," and she looked as if she meant it.
David jumped off the table.
"Han' yo' niver guessed why I stop, lass, and me so happy at
home?" he asked eagerly.
Maggie's eyes dropped again.
"Hoo should I know?" she asked innocently. "Nor care, neither, I
s'pose," he said in reproachful accents. "Yo' want me me to go and
leave yo', and go reet awa'; I see hoo 'tis. Yo' wouldna mind, not
yo', if yo' was niver to see pore David agin. I niver thowt yo'
wellylike me, Maggie; and noo I know it."
"Yo' silly lad," the girl murmured, knitting steadfastly.
"Then yo' do," he cried, triumphant, "I knew yo' did." He
approached close to her chair, his face clouded with eager anxiety.
"But d'yo' like me more'n just likin-', Mag-. gie? dy'yo'," he bent
and whispered in the little ear.
The girl cuddled over her work so that he could not see her face.
"If yo' won't tell me yo' can show me," he coaxed. "There's other
things besides words,"
He stood before her, one hand on the chair-back on either side. She
sat thus, caged between his arms, with drooping eyes and
"Not so close, David, please," she begged, fidgeting uneasily; but
the request was unheeded.
"Do'ee move away a wee," she implored. "Not till yo've showed
me," he said, relentless.
"I canna, Davie," she cried with laughing, petulance.
"Yes, yo' can, lass."
"Tak' your hands away, then."
"Nay; not till yo've showed me."
"Do'ee, Davie," she supplicated.
"Do'ee," he pleaded.
She tilted her face provokingly, but her eyes were still down.
"It's no manner o' use, Davie."
"Iss, 'tis," he coaxed.
A lengthy pause.
"Well, then--" She looked up, at last, shy, trustful, happy; and the
sweet lips were tilted further to meet his.
And thus they were situated, lover-like, when a low, rapt voice
broke in on them,--
'A dear-lov'd lad, convenience snug,
A treacherous inclination.'
Oh, Wullie, I wush you were here!"
It was little M'Adam. He was leaning in at the open window,
leering at the young couple, his eyes puckered, an evil expression
on his face.
"The creetical moment! and I interfere! David, ye'll never forgie
The boy jumped round with an oath; and Maggie, her face flaming,
started to her feet. The tone, the words, the look of the little man at
the window were alike insufferable.
"By thunder! I'll teach yo' to come spyin' on me!" roared David.
Above him on the mantel-piece blazed the Shepherds' Trophy.
Searching any missile in his fury, he reached up a hand for it.
Ay, gie it me back, Ye robbed me o't," the little man cried, holding
out his arms as if to receive it.
"Dinna, David," pleaded Maggie, with restraining hand on her
"By the Lord! I'll give him something!" yelled the boy. Close by
there stood a pail of soapy water. He seized it, swung it, and
slashed its contents at the leering face in the window.
The little man started back, but the dirty torrent caught him and
soused him through. The bucket followed, struck him full on the
chest, and rolled him over in the mud. After it with a rush came
"I'll let yo' know, spyin' on me!" he yelled. "I'll--" Maggie, whose
face was as white now as it had been crimson, clung to him,
"Dinna, David, dinna!" she implored. "He's ycr am dad."
"I'll dad him! I'll learn him!" roared David half through the
At the moment Sam'l Todd came floundering furiously round the
corner, closely followed by 'Enry and oor Job.
"Is he dead?" shouted Sam'l seeing the prostrate form.
"Ho! ho!" went the other two.
They picked up the draggled little man and hustled him out of the
yard like a thief, a man on either side and a man behind.
As they forced him through the gate, he struggled round.
"By Him that made ye! ye shall pay for this, David M'Adam, you
But Sam'l's big hand descended on his mouth, and he was borne
away before that last ill word had flitted into being.
Chapter XXI. HORROR OF DARKNESS
IT was long past dark that night when M'Adam staggered home.
All that evening at the Sylvester Arms his imprecations against
David had made even the hardest shudder. James Moore, Owd
Bob, and the Dale Cup were for once forgotten as, in his passion,
he cursed his son.
The Dalesmen gathered fearfully away from the little dripping
madman. For once these men, whom, as a rule, no such geyser
outbursts could quell, were dumb before him; only now and then
shooting furtive glances in his direction, as though on the brink of
some daring enterprise of which he was the objective. But
M'Adam noticed nothing, suspected nothing.
When, at length, he lurched into the kitchen of the Grange, there
was no light and the fire burnt low. So dark was the room that a
white riband of paper pinned on to the table escaped his remark.
The little man sat down heavily, his clothes still sodden, and
resumed his tireless anathema.
"I've tholed mair fra him, Wullie, than Adam M'Adam ever thocht
to thole from ony man. And noo it's gane past bearin'. He struck
me, Wullie! struck his airi father. Ye see it yersel', Wullie. Na, ye
werena there. Oh, gin ye had but bin, Wullie! Him and his madam!
But I'll gar him ken Adam M'Adam. I'll stan' nae mair!"
He sprang to his feet and, reaching up with trembling hands, pulled
down the old bell-mouthed blunderbuss that hung above the
"We'll mak' an end to't, Wullie, so we will, aince and for a'!" And
he banged the weapon down upon the table. It lay right athwart
that slip of still condemning paper, yet the little man saw it not.
Resuming his seat, he prepared to wait. His hand sought the pocket
of his coat, and fingered tenderly a small stone bottle, the fond
companion of his widowhood. He pulled it out, uncorked it, and
took a long pull; then placed it on the table by his side.
Gradually the gray head lolled; the shrivelled hand dropped and
hung limply down, the finger-tips brushing the floor; and he dozed
off into a heavy sleep, while Red Wull watched at his feet.
It was not till an hour later that David returned home.
As he approached the lightless house, standing in the darkness like
a body with the spirit fled, he could but contrast this dreary home
of his with the bright kitchen and cheery faces he had left.
Entering the house, he groped to the kitchen door and opened it;
then struck a match and stood in the doorway peering in.
"Not home, bain't he?" he muttered, the tiny light above his head.
"Wet inside as well as oot by noo, I'll lay. By gum! but 'twas a
lucky thing for him I didna get ma hand on him this evenin'. I
could ha' killed him." He held the match above his head.
Two yellow eyes, glowing in the darkness like cairngorms, and a
small dim figure bunched up in a chair, told him his surmise was
wrong. Many a time had he seen his father in such case before, and
now he muttered contemptuously:
"Drunk; the leetle swab! Sleepin' it off, I reck'n."
Then he saw his mistake. The hand that hung above the floor
twitched and was still again.
There was a clammy silence. A mouse, emboldened by the quiet,
scuttled across the hearth. One mighty paw lightly moved; a
lightning tap, and the tiny beast lay dead.
Again that hollow stillness: no sound, no movement; only those
two unwinking eyes fixed on him immovable.
At length a small voice from the fireside broke the quiet.
Again a clammy silence, and a life-long
"I thowt yo' was sleepin'," said David, at length, lamely.
"Ay, so ye said. 'Sleepin' it aff'; I heard ye." Then, still in the same
small voice, now quivering imperceptibly, "Wad ye obleege me,
sir, by leetin' the lamp? Or, d'ye think, Wullie, 'twad be soilin' his
dainty fingers? They're mair used, I'm told, to danderin' with the
bonnie brown hair o' his--"
"I'll not ha' ye talk o' ma Maggie so," interposed the boy
"His Maggie, mark ye, Wullie--his! I thocht 'twad soon get that
"Tak' care, dad! I'll stan' but little more," the boy warned him in
choking voice; and began to trim the lamp with trembling fingers.
M'Adam forthwith addressed himself to Red Wull.
"I suppose no man iver had sic a son as him, Wullie. Ye ken what
I've done for him, an' ye ken hoo he's repaid it. He's set himsel' agin
me; he's misca'd me; he's robbed me o' ma Cup; last of all, he
struck me-- struck me afore them a'. We've toiled for him, you and
I, Wullie; we've slaved to keep him in hoose an' hame, an' he's
passed his time, the while, in riotous leevin', carousin' at Kenmuir,
amusin' himself' wi' his--" He broke off short. The lamp was lit,
and the strip of paper, pinned on to the table, naked and glaring,
caught his eye.
"What's this?" he muttered; and unloosed the nail that clamped it
This is what he read:
"Adam Mackadam yer warned to mak' an end to yer Red Wull will
be best for him and the Sheep. This is the first you have two more
the third will be the last ---+"
It was written in pencil, and the only signature was a dagger,
rudely limned in red.
M'Adam read the paper once, twice, thrice. As he slowly
assimilated its meaning, the blood faded from his face. He stared
at it and still stared, with whitening face and pursed lips. Then he
stole a glance at David's broad back.
"What d'ye ken o' this, David?" he asked, at length, in a dry thin
voice, reaching forward in his chair.
"O' this," holding up the slip. "And ye'el. obleege me by the truth
David turned, took up the paper, read it, and laughed harshly.
"It's coom to this, has it?" he said, still laughing, and yet with
"Ye ken what it means. I daresay ye pit it there; aiblins writ it.
Ye'll explain it." The little man spoke in the same small, even
voice, and his eyes never moved off his son's face.
"lye heard naethin'. . . . I'd like the truth, David, if ye can tell it."
The boy smiled a forced, unnatural smile, looking from his father
to the paper in his hand.
"Yo' shall have it, but yo'll not like it. It's this: Tupper lost a sheep
to the Killer last night."
"And what if he did?" The little man rose smoothly to his feet.
Each noticed the others' face--dead-white.
"Why, he--lost--it-------on------- Wheer d'yo' think?" He drawled the
words out, dwelling almost lovingly on each.
The crash was coming--inevitable now. David knew it, knew that
nothing could avert it, and braced himself to meet it. The smile
had fled from his face, and his breath fluttered in his throat like the
wind before a thunderstorm.
"What of it?" The little man's voice was calm as a summer sea.
"Why, your Wullie--as I told yo'--was on the Screes last night."
"Go on, David."
"And this," holding up the paper, "tells you that they ken as I ken
noo, as maist o' them ha' kent this mony a day, that your Wullie,
Red Wull--the Terror--"
"The Black Killer."
It was spoken.
The frayed string was snapped at last. The little man's hand flashed
to the bottle that stood before him.
"Ye--liar!" he shrieked, and threw it with all his strength at the
boy's head. David dodged and ducked, and the bottle hurtled over
Crash! it whizzed into the lamp behind, and broke on the wall
beyond, its contents trickling down the wall to the floor.
For a moment, darkness. Then the spirits met the lamp's
smouldering wick and blazed into flame.
By the sudden light David saw his father on the far side the table,
pointing with crooked forefinger. By his side Red Wull was
standing alert, hackles up, yellow fangs bared, eyes lurid; and, at
his feet, the wee brown mouse lay still and lifeless.
"Oot o' ma hoose! Back to Kenmuir! Back to yer--" The
unpardonable word, unmistakable, hovered for a second on his lips
like some foul bubble, and r~ver burst.
"No mither this time!" panted David, racing round the table.
The Terror leapt to the attack; but David overturned the table as he
ran, the blunderbuss crashing to the floor; it fell, opposing a
momentary barrier in the dog's path.
"Stan' off, ye--!" screeched the little man, seizing a chair in both
hands; "stan' off, or I'll brain ye!"
But David was on him.
"Wullie, Wullie, to me!"
Again the Terror came with a roar like the sea. But David, with a
mighty kick catching him full on the jaw, repelled the attack.
Then he gripped his father round the waist and lifted him from the
ground. The little man, struggling in those iron arms, screamed,
cursed, and battered at the face above him, kicking and biting in
"The Killer! wad ye ken wha's the Killer? Go and ask 'em at
Kenmuir! Ask yer--"
David swayed slightly, crushing the body in his arms till it seemed
every rib must break; then hurled it from him with all the might of
passion. The little man fell with a crash and a groan.
The blaze in the corner flared, flickered, and died. There was
hell-black darkness, and silence of the dead.
David stood against the wall, panting, every nerve tightstrung as
the hawser of a straining ship.
In the corner lay the body of his father, limp and still; and in the
room one other living thing was moving.
He clung close to the wall, pressing it with wet hands. The horror
of it all, the darkness, the man in the corner, that moving
something, petrified him.
"Feyther!" he whispered.
There was no reply. A chair creaked at an invisible touch.
Something was creeping, stealing, crawlng closer.
David was afraid.
"Feyther!" he whispered in hoarse agony, "areyo' hurt?"
The words were stifled in his throat. A chair overturned with a
crash; a great body struck him on the chest; a hot, pestilent breath
volleyed in his face, and wolfish teeth were reaching for his throat.
"Come on, Killer!" he screamed.
The horror of suspense was past. It had come, and with it he was
Back, back, back, along the wall he was borne. His hands entwined
themselves around a hairy throat; he forced the great head with its
horrid lightsome eyes from him; he braced himself for the effort,
lifted the huge body at his breast, and heaved it from him. It struck
the wall and fell with a soft thud.
As he recoiled a hand clutched his ankle and sought to trip him.
David kicked back and down with all his strength. There was one
awful groan, and he staggered against the door and out.
There he paused, leaning against the wall to' breathe.
He struck a match and lifted his foot to see where the hand had
God! there was blood on his heel.
Then a great fear laid hold on him. A cry was suffocated in his
breast by the panting of his heart.
He crept back to the kitchen door and listened.
Not a sound.
Fearfully he opened it a crack,
Silence of the tomb.
He banged it to. It opened behind him, and the fact lent wings to
He turned and plunged out into the night, and ran through the
blackness for his life. And a great owl swooped softly by and
"For your life! for your life! for your life!"
PART V OWD BOB 0' KENMUIR
Chapter XXII. A MAD DOG
DAVID and Maggie, meanwhile, were drifting further and further
apart. He now thought the girl took too much upon herself; that
this assumption of the woman and the mother was overdone. Once,
on a Sunday, he caught her hearing Andrew his catechism. He
watched the performance through a crack in the door, and listened,
giggling, to her simple teaching. At length his merriment grew so
boisterous that she looked up, saw him, and, straightway rising to
her feet, crossed the room and shut the door; tendering her
unspoken rebuke with such a sweet dignity that he slunk away for
once decently ashamed. And the incident served to add point to his
Consequently he was seldom at Kenmuir, and more often at home,
quarrelling with his father.
Since that day, two years before, when the boy had been an
instrument in the taking of the Cup from him, father and son had
been like two vessels charged with electricity, contact between
which might result at any moment in a shock and a flash. This was
the outcome not of a moment, but of years.
Of late the contest had raged markedly fierce; for M Adam noticed
his son's more frequent presence at home, and commented on the
fact in his usual spirit of playful raillery.
"What's come to ye, David?" he asked one day. "Yer auld dad's
head is nigh turned wi' yer condescension. Is James Moore feared
ye'll steal the Cup fra him, as ye stole it from me, that he'll not ha'
ye at Kenmuir? or what is it?"
"I thought I could maybe keep an eye on the Killer gin I stayed
here," David answered, leering at Red Wull.
"Ye'd do better at Kenmuir--eh, Wuflie!" the little man replied.
"Nay," the other answered, "he'll not go to Kenmuir. There's Th'
Owd TJn to see to hini there o' nights."
The little man whipped round.
"Are ye so sure he is there o' nights, ma lad?" he asked with slow
"He was there when some one--I dinna say who, though I have ma
thoughts--tried to poison him," sneered the boy, mimicking his
M'Adam shook his head.
"II he was poisoned, and noo I think aiblins he was, he didna pick
it up at Kenmuir, I tell ye that," he said, and marched out of the
In the mean time the Black Killer pursued his bloody trade
unchecked. The public, always greedy of a new sensation, took up
the matter. In several of the great dailies, articles on the "Agrarian
Outrages" appeared, followed by lengthy correspondence.
Controversy raged high; each correspondent had his own theory
and his own solution of the prob1cm; and each waxed indignant as
his were discarded for another's.
The Terror had reigned already two months when, with the advent
of the lambing-time, matters took a yet more serious aspect.
It was bad enough to lose one sheep, often the finest in the pack;
but the hunting of a flock at a critical moment, which was
incidental to the slaughter of the one, the scaring of these woolly
mothers-about-to-be almost out of their fleeces, spelt for the small
farmers something akin to ruin, for the bigger ones a loss hardly
Such a woful season had never been known; loud were the curses,
deep the vows of revenge. Many a shepherd at that time patrolled
all night through with his dogs, only to find in the morning that the
Killer had slipped him and havocked in some secluded portion of
It was heartrending work; and all the more so in that, though his
incrimination seemed as far off as ever, there was still the same
positiveness as to the culprit's identity.
Long Kirby, indeed, greatly daring, went so far on one occasion as
to say to the little man: "And d'yo' reck'n the Killer is a sheepdog,
"I do," the little man replied with conviction.
"And that he'll spare his own sheep?"
"Niver a doubt of it."
"Then," said the smith with a nervous cackle, "it must lie between
you and Tupper and Saunderson."
The little man leant forward and tapped the other on the arm.
"Or Kenmuir, ma friend," he said. "Ye've forgot Kenmuir."
"So I have," laughed the smith, "so I have."
"Then I'd not anither time," the other continued, still tapping. "I'd
mind Kenmuir, d'ye see, Kirby?"
It was about the middle of the lambingtime, when the Killer was
working his worst, that the Dalesmen had a lurid glimpse of Adam
M'Adam as he might be were he wounded through his Wullie.
Thus it came about: It was market-day in Grammoch-town, and in
the Border Ram old Rob Saunderson was the centre of interest. For
on the previous night Rob, who till then had escaped unscathed,
had lost a sheep to the Killer: and--far worse--his flock of
Herdwicks, heavy in lamb, had been galloped with disastrous
The old man, with tears in his eyes, was telling how on four nights
that week he had been up with Shep to guard against mishap; and
on the fifth, worn out with his double labor, had fallen asleep at his
post. But a very little while he slumbered; yet when, in the dawn,
he woke and hurried on his rounds, he quickly came upon a
mangled sheep and the pitiful relic of his flock. A relic, indeed!
For all about were cold wee lambkins and their mothers, dead and
dying of exhaustion and their unripe travail--a slaughter of the
The Dalesmen were clustered round the old shepherd, listening
with lowering countenances, when a dark gray head peered in at
the door and two wistful eyes dwelt for a moment on the speaker.
"Talk o' the devil!" muttered M'Adam, but no man heard him. For
Red Wull, too, had seen that sad face, and, rising from his master's
feet, had leapt with a roar at his enemy, toppling Jim Mason like a
ninepin in the fury of his charge.
In a second every dog in the room, from the battered Venus to
Tupper's big Rasper, was on his feet, bristling to have at the tyrant
and wipe out past injuries, if the gray dog would but lead the
It was not to be, however. For Long Kirby was standing at the door
with a cup of hot coffee in his hand. Barely had he greeted the gray
"'Hello, Owd Un!" when hoarse yells of "'Ware, lad! The Terror!"
mingled with Red Wull's roar.
Half turning, he saw the great dog bounding to the attack.
Straightway he flung the boiling contents of his cup full in that
rage-wracked countenance. The burning liquid swished against the
huge hull-head. Blinding, bubbling, scalding, it did its fell work
well; nothing escaped that merciless torrent. With a cry of agony,
half bellow, half howl, Red Wull checked in his charge. From
without the door was banged to; and again the duel was postponed.
While within the tap-room a huddle of men and dogs were left
alone with a mad man and a madder brute.
Rlind, demented, agonized, the Tailless Tyke thundered about the
little room gnashing, snapping, oversetting; men, tables, chairs
swirled off their legs as though they had been dolls. He spun round
like a monstrous teetotum; he banged his tortured head against the
wall; he burrowed into the unyielding floor. And all the while
M'Adam pattered after him, laying hands upon him only to be
flung aside as a terrier flings a rat. Now up, now down again, now
tossed into a corner, now dragged upon the floor, yet always
following on and crying in supplicating tones, "Wullie, Wullie, let
me to ye! let yer man ease ye!" and then, with a scream and a
murderous glance, "By--, Kirby, I'll deal wi' you later!"
The uproar was like hell let loose. You could hear the noise of
oaths and blows, as the men fought for the door, a half-mile away.
And above it the horrid bellowing and the screaming of that shrill
Long Kirby was the first man out of that murder-hole; and after
him the others toppled one by one--men and dogs jostling one
another in the frenzy of their fear. Big Bell, Londesley, Tupper,
Hoppin, Teddy Bolstock, white-faced and trembling; and old
Saunderson they pulled out by his heels. Then the door was shut
with a clang, and the little man and mad dog were left alone.
In the street was already a big-eyed crowd, attracted by the uproar;
while at the door was James Moore, seeking entrance. "Happen I
could lend the little mon a hand," said he; but they withheld him
Inside was pandemonium: bangings like the doors of hell; the
bellowing of that great voice; the patter of little feet; the slithering
of a body on the floor; and always that shrill, beseeching prayer,
"Wullie, Wullie, let me to ye!" and, in a scream, "By--, Kirby, I'll
be wi' ye soon!"
Jim Mason it was who turned, at length, to the smith and
whispered, "Kirby, lad, yo'd best skip.
The big man obeyed and ran. The stamp, stamp of his feet on the
hard road rang above the turmoil. As the long legs vanished round
the corner and the sound of the fugitive died away, a panic seized
the listening crowd.
A woman shrieked; a girl fainted; and in two minutes the street
was as naked of men as the steppes of Russia in winter: here a
white face at a window; there a door ajar; and peering round a far
corner a frightened boy. One man only scorned to run. Alone,
James Moore stalked down the centre of the road, slow and calm,
Owd Bob trotting at his heels.
It was a long half-hour before the door of the inn burst open, and
M'Adam came out with a run, flinging the door behind him.
He rushed into the middle of the road; his sleeves were rolled at
the wrist like a surgeon's; and in his right hand was a
"Noo, by--!" he cried in a terrible voice, "where is he?"
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