The farmers were given half an hour to consider the proposal, and clustered in knots talking it over. Many an eye was directed on M'Adam; but that little man appeared all unconscious.
"Weel, Mr. Saunderson," he was saying in, shrill accents, "and shall ye tie Shep?"
"What d'yo' think?" asked Rob, eying the man at whom the measure was aimed.
"Why, it's this way, I'm thinkin'," the little man replied. "Gin ye haud Shep's the guilty one I wad, by all manner o' means--or shootin'd be ailbins better. If not, why "--he shrugged his shoulders significantly; and having shown his hand and driven the nail well home, the little man left the meeting.
James Moore stayed to see the Parson's resolution negatived, by a large majority, and then he too quitted the hail. He had foreseen the result, and, previous to the meeting, had warned the Parson how it would be.
"Tie up!" he cried almost indignantly, as Owd Bob came galloping up to his whistle; "I think I see myself chainin' yo', owd lad, like ony murderer. Why, it's yo' has kept the Killer off Kenmuir so far, I'll lay."
At the lodge-gate was M'Adam, for once without his familiar spirit, playing with the lodge-keeper's child; for the little man loved all children but his own, and was beloved of them. As the Master approached he looked up.
"Wed, Moore," he called, "and are you gaein' to tie yer dog?"