182 TWO HIGHLAND DOGS
Sheir faces. There was no thought now of hares or stags, Righ and Speireag had no energies left for anything but patient following. Poor little Speireag's long coat was very wet, and as it dried a little, it became hard and crisp with frost. The long hair falling over his eyes was matted together and tangled with briers, and his little feet were sore and heavy with the mud that had caked in the long tassels of silky hair. Even Righ was very weary, and he followed soberly now instead of bounding along in front, his ears and tail drooped, and each time he crossed the ice-cold water he seemed more and more dejected.
As they left the wood behind them, the snow fell thick and blinding, but just at first, as they came out into the open, it seemed not quite so dark as under the trees. There was nothing to be seen but grey sky and grey moor, even the river had been left behind, and only blackened patches remained to show where, in summer, the ground was spread with a gay carpet of purple heather and sweet bog-myrtle. They got deeper at each step into half-frozen marsh; there was no sound or sign of life. The dogs felt hungry and weary, and they ached with the cold and wet. But they were following a friend, and they trusted him wholly. Well they knew that each step was taking them farther from home, and farther into the cold and darkness. But dog-wisdom never asserts itself, and in trustful humility they followed still, and the snow came down closer and closer around them, and even the grey sky and the grey moor were blotted out — and the darkness fell.
It was a disappointing home-coming for the Bishop that Thursday evening! There was no hearty handshake from waiting friend, no rejoicing bay of big dog or extravagant excitement of little dog to welcome him. The three had been out the whole day, he was told, and had not yet