So they lay motionless for a while; but there came no sound from the copse.
"'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, white heap.
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."