TWO HIGHLAND DOGS 183
reappeared. A long walk had been projected, but they had been expected home long before this. When dinnertime came, and they did not appear, two servants had been sent out with lanterns to meet them, as the road, though not one to be missed, was dark, and some small accident might have happened. The men were not back yet, but doubtless the missing party would soon return.
The night was dark and stormy, and Father Mac-konochie had been for some time somewhat invalided, and as time passed the Bishop became increasingly anxious. At length he ordered a carriage, and with the gardener set off towards Kinloch, the head of the loch, thinking that accident or weariness might have detained his friend, and the carriage might be useful. On the way they met the first messengers returning with the news that nothing could be heard at Kinloch of the missing three, except that they had passed there between one and two o'clock in the afternoon. The Bishop and his men sought along the road, and inquired for tidings at the very few houses within reach, but in vain. The night was dark and little could be done, and there was always the hope that on their return they might find that some tidings had been heard, that the lost friends might have come back by the other side of the lake.
So at last they turned back, reaching home about four o'clock in the morning. No news had been heard, and all felt anxious and perplexed, but most believed that some place of shelter had been reached, as the dogs had not come home. They could find their way home from anywhere, and there seemed little doubt that, overtaken by darkness, all three had found shelter in a shepherd's or gamekeeper's hut, perhaps on the other side of the lake, as they had almost certainly crossed the bridge, no one having met them on the road by which they had started.
Nevertheless all that was possible must be done in case of the worst, and as soon as daylight returned four parties of men were despatched in different directions,