One day early in the Winter, when the boys' English letters had begun to arrive regularly, Auntie Elspie Grant came over the hills on her snowshoes, to pay a visit of sympathy to Mrs. Lindsay. She brought a bottle of the liniment they made every Fall from the herbs of the Craig-Ellachie garden, a stone jar of their best raspberry cordial, a pot of mincemeat, and a piece of Christmas cake.
Where had she heard them before, she asked with beating heart. The postmark was Algonquin, but then every one who sent a valentine from Orchard Glen mailed it in Algonquin. She looked at it closely, and then noticed the scent of rosemary. It had come from Craig-Ellachie! and the little lines were from the song "A Warrior Bold" that Gavin sang. Christina was touched.
Césarine, now Césarine we have liked and trusted. She has betrayed our trust. She has sold us to this fellow. I have no doubt at all that she gave him the diamonds from Amelia's rivière; that she took us by arrangement to meet him at Schloss Lebenstein; that she opened and sent to him my letter to Lord Craig-Ellachie. Therefore, I say, we ought to arrest Césarine.
Christina would have given much to be one of those guests. She wanted to show Gavin before he went that she admired his spirit, and was glad he wanted to go. But she felt diffident about going to Craig-Ellachie, and she shrewdly guessed that Gavin would never ask her.
Old Lauchie slammed his pipes down on the Chairman's table, upsetting a glass of water and a big bouquet of flowers from Craig-Ellachie, and turned upon Gavin, his fists clenched. "I would be going to the wrong meeting, would I?" he shouted, and Gavin backed away hastily. The old man pursued him hotly.
And, unable to bear the heavy news alone, the minister went over to see if Dr. McGarry would help him carry the terrible burden to Craig-Ellachie. Mr. Holmes kept the dread secret to himself until they had time to deliver it, fearing that the Grant Girls might hear it from another source. So the news had not reached the Lindsay farm in the evening when Wallace came up the hill to see Christina.
And she grew into the habit of running over the hills to Craig-Ellachie to cheer the Grant Girls, and, of course, they talked of their soldier-hero all the time, and of nothing else. The Aunties literally lived by his letters. Everything was dated by them. "We started yon crock o' butter jist the day Gavie's first letter came from France," Auntie Janet would say. "It's time it was finished."
Last time he wrote it was on Craig-Ellachie paper: this time, like the wanton lapwing, he had got himself another crest. "MOST PERSPICACIOUS OF MILLIONAIRES! Said I not well, as Medhurst, that you must distrust everybody? And the one man you never dreamt of distrusting was Medhurst. Yet see how truthful I was! I told you I knew where Colonel Clay was living and I did know, exactly.
Gavin put the bottle of liniment in one pocket and the catsup in another, the relish and the maple sugar in a third and bundling the bouquet under his arm in a fashion that made Auntie Flora scream with dismay, walked by Christina's side across the dim pasture field, with the golden and purple sunset ahead of them and the silver moonlight behind coming down over Craig-Ellachie.
They went into the house, the dogs still bounding joyously about, for they knew that a guest at Craig-Ellachie was a great and glad event and that they must express their joy in a fitting manner. Auntie Elspie was tall and thin and stooped. Her thin fair hair, almost white, was combed up in the fashion that had obtained when she was a girl.