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|The White People||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
|Page 1 of 5||
The mist had floated away, and the moor was drenched with golden sunshine when we went back to the castle. As we entered the hall I heard the sound of a dog howling, and spoke of it to one of the men-servants who had opened the door.
"That sounds like Gelert. Is he shut up somewhere?"
Gelert was a beautiful sheep-dog who belonged to Feargus and was his heart's friend. I allowed him to be kept in the courtyard.
The man hesitated before he answered me, with a curiously grave face.
"It is Gelert, miss. He is howling for his master. We were obliged to shut him in the stables."
"But Feargus ought to have reached here by this time," I was beginning.
I was stopped because I found Angus Macayre almost at my elbow. He had that moment come out of the library. He put his hand on my arm.
`Will ye come with me?" he said, and led me back to the room he had just left. He kept his hand on my arm when we all stood together inside, Hector and I looking at him in wondering question. He was going to tell me something-- we both saw that.
"It is a sad thing you have to hear," he said. "He was a fine man, Feargus, and a most faithful servant. He went to see his mother last night and came back late across the moor. There was a heavy mist, and he must have lost his way. A shepherd found his body in a tarn at daybreak. They took him back to his father's home."
I looked at Hector MacNairn and again at Angus. "But it couldn't be Feargus," I cried. "I saw him an hour ago. He passed us playing on his pipes. He was playing a new tune I had never heard before a wonderful, joyous thing. I both heard and SAW him!"
Angus stood still and watched me. They both stood still and watched me, and even in my excitement I saw that each of them looked a little pale.
"You said you did not hear him at first, but you surely saw him when he passed so near," I protested. "I called to him, and he took off his bonnet, though he did not stop. He was going so quickly that perhaps he did not hear me call his name."
What strange thing in Hector's look checked me? Who knows?
"You DID see him, didn't you?" I asked of him.
Then he and Angus exchanged glances, as if asking each other to decide some grave thing. It was Hector MacNairn who decided it.
"No," he answered, very quietly, "I neither saw nor heard him, even when he passed. But you did."
"I did, quite plainly," I went on, more and more bewildered by the way in which they kept a sort of tender, awed gaze fixed on me. "You remember I even noticed that he looked pale. I laughed, you know, when I said he looked almost like one of the White People--"
Just then my breath caught itself and I stopped. I began to remember things--hundreds of things.
Angus spoke to me again as quietly as Hector had spoken.
"Neither Jean nor I ever saw Wee Brown Elspeth," he said--"neither Jean nor I. But you did. You have always seen what the rest of us did not see, my bairn--always."
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|The White People
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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