A second's palpitating silence; a woman's hysterical laugh,--and a deep-mouthed bellow rent the expectant air: shouts, screams, hattossings, back-clappings blending in a din that made the many-winding waters of the Silver Lea quiver and quiver again.
Owd Bob o' Kenmuir had won the Shepherds' Trophy outright.
Maggie's face flushed a scarlet hue. Wee Anne flung fat arms toward her triumphant Bob, and screamed with the best. Squire and parson, each red-cheeked, were boisterously shaking hands. Long Kirby, who had not prayed for thirty years, ejaculated with heartfelt earnestness, "Thank God!" Sam'l Todd bellowed in Tammas's ear, and almost slew him with his mighty buffets. Among the Dalesmen some laughed like drunken men; some cried like children; all joined in that roaring song of victory.
To little M 'Adam, standing with his back to the crowd, that storm of cheering came as the first announcement of defeat.
A wintry smile, like the sun over a March sea, crept across his face.
"We might a kent it, Wullie," he muttered, soft and low. The tension loosed, the battle lost, the little man almost broke down. There were red dabs of color in his face; his eyes were big; his lips pitifully quivering; he was near to sobbing.
An old man utterly alone he had staked his all on a throw and lost.
Lady Eleanour marked the forlorn little figure, standing solitary on the fringe of the uproarious mob. She noticed the expression on his face; and her tender heart went out to the lone man in his defeat.