by Ashton Hilliers
He had come gently and observantly up the glen, tapping here and scratching there as he climbed, and ever and anon straightening an elderly back to deliver a small cough. Also at intervals he would turn his face to the way by which he had come to rest the plantar muscles and study the lie of the land.
Chance-led he came and unadventurously, as one might say, and with no more premonition of impending change, or of this being a White Day in his life than had you, yourself, dear reader, when you left your breakfast-table this morning.
He was a little person in the clerical wideawake and dark tweeds of a don in vacation, elderly and grey, with heavy, lower-middle-class features refined by expression as a sunset refines a dull street.
Something about the rounded shoulders and narrow chest bespoke the bookish man, the “scholar’s slope,” they used to call it. His hands were large and broad at the finger-tips, such must have done manual labour in their time, pick-and-shovel work, possibly. At the moment of his walking into this story they were–I will not say dirty, but redolent of the soil, for as he went he would still be fumbling in a roomy wallet which pulled down his shoulder, and be taking therefrom for close and loving inspection this or that shapeless fragment of stone which he would presently return to the society of its fellows.