The rain was now falling fast and drenching her new clothes, but her anxiety was only that the injured boy should not get wet and she was glad that her rug was so thick and warm. It had been a parting gift from her "House-Boat" guests and held almost sacred as a memento of their happy trip together.
But now the oxen were turning into a lane. She could dimly see the hedgerows on either side, that now and then the lightning flashes showed more plainly; and, after a time, something big and white seemed to block their way. A moment more and the white obstruction proved to be a cottage with a lamp shining through its window. Then a door opened and a woman's voice called cheerily:
"Welcome home, my man! You're late the night. Met you up with any trouble? Didn't the apples sell well?"
"More trouble than you dream, Dame, and I've fetched it for you to share. Light the bedroom to once. 'Tis the dead--or dyin'--is here."
Without a word the woman turned away, moving heavily because of her gr