The sun stared brazenly down on a gray farmhouse lying, long and low in the shadow of the Muir Pike; on the ruins of peel-tower and barmkyn, relics of the time of raids, it looked; on ranges of whitewashed outbuildings; on a goodly array of dark-thatched ricks.
In the stack-yard, behind the lengthy range of stables, two men were thatching. One lay sprawling on the crest of the rick, the other stood perched on a ladder at a lower level.
The latter, small, old, with shrewd nut-brown countenance, was Tammas Thornton, who had served the Moores of Kenmuir for more than half a century. The other, on top of the stack, wrapped apparently in gloomy meditation, was Sam’l Todd. A solid Dales — man, he, with huge hands and hairy arms; about his face an uncomely aureole of stiff, red hair; and on his features, deep-seated, an expression of resolute melancholy.
“Ay, the Gray Dogs, bless ‘em!” the old man was saying. “Yo’ canna beat ‘em not nohow. Known ‘em ony time this sixty year, I have, and niver knew a bad un yet. Not as I say, mind ye, as any on ‘em cooms up to Rex son o’ Rally. Ah, he was a one, was Rex! We’s never won Cup since his day.”
“Nor niver shall agin, yo’ may depend,” said the other gloomily.
Tammas clucked irritably.
“G’long, Sam’! Todd!” he cried, “Yo’ niver happy onless yo’ making’ yo’self miser’ble. I niver see sich a chap. Niver win agin? Why, oor young Bob he’ll mak’ a right un, I tell yo’, and I should know. Not as what he’ll touch Rex son o’ Rally, mark ye! I’m niver saying’ so, Sam’l Todd. Ah, he was a one, was Rex! I could tell yo’ a tale or two o’ Rex. I mind me hoo — ”
The big man interposed hurriedly.
“I’ve heard it afore, Tammas, I welly ‘ave,” he said.
Tammas paused and looked angrily up.
“Yo’ve heard it afore, have yo’, Sam’l Todd?” he asked sharply. “And what have yo’ heard afore?”
“Yo’ stories, owd lad — yo’ stories o’ Rex son o’ Rally.”
“Which on’ em