"It was cuttit intil lengths like the metre psalms, but it luikit gye an' daft like, sae I didna' read it," said the cuif hastily. "Here it's to ye, Meg. I was e'en gaun to licht my cutty wi't." Something shone gray-white in Saunders's hand as he held it out to Meg, It passed into Meg's palm, and then was seen no more. The session at the house end was breaking up. Jess had vanished silently.
Scunner the deil!" So the Devil blew, hot and cold, with Saunders's mouth, until the very night before the election. The morning of the election the sun heaved up on a brassy sky. It was intensely hot through the day, but towards evening gray clouds scudded out of the east, veiling the sun with their twisting masses; at twilight heavy rain-blots were splashing the dust.
His seven-foot manifestations of respect for the deceased were a sight to see. This crease, then, was one of Saunders's assets, and had therefore to be carefully attended to. "Sae after that, I shall tak' her roun' the waist, juist like this " said he, insinuating his left arm circumferentially.
"Your honour," said Alison Breck, who was next in age to the deceased, "suld send doun something to us for keeping up our hearts at the lykewake, for a' Saunders's gin, puir man, was drucken out at the burial o' Steenie, and we'll no get mony to sit dry-lipped aside the corpse.
He had been popular, especially as he was then the quickest man with a gun they had ever honored with their patronage. Also, the Gophertown folk had recently received a warning letter from the superintendent of a transcontinental railroad. They were not interested in Saunders's proposal. Saunders, coming from the saloon, was not a little surprised to see a band of horsemen far out on the desert.
Another thing which was attracting attention was Saunders's new automobile, which had been driven up from Atlanta by the agent who had sold it. It stood in the roadway near the arbor, and was admired by all who passed it. Saunders himself had been busy all day helping place the seats and arrange the program. While he was thus engaged Dolly and her mother and Ann arrived.
Here, as it were, round the bent and broken sides of a bowl, war raged, and the centre was like some caldron out of which imps of ships sprang and sailed to hand up fires of hell to the battalions on the ledges. Here swung Admiral Saunders's and Admiral Holmes's divisions, out of reach of the French batteries, yet able to menace and destroy, and to feed the British camps with men and munitions.
He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling, and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. The next ball was of the same length, but this time off the off-stump. Mike jumped out, and hit it before it had time to break. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover, a comfortable three. Bob played out the over with elaborate care.
A far-off peak, catching the rays of the afternoon sun, rose above the dun valley like a mound of delicate coral dropped from the cloud-mottled blue overhead. A stranger, walking from the station at Ridgeville, was nearing the front gate of Saunders's home. He moved with a slow, thoughtful step. He was gray, even to the whiteness of snow.
"Ye're a deevil! man, ye're a deevil!" he told himself, giving his hat a rakish cock. "Ye're a deevil wi' the weemen, a sair deceever." He did feel that way just then. But when, next morning, memory disentangled itself from a splitting headache, Saunders's red hair bristled at the thought of his indiscretion. It was terrible!