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Of The Princess In The Tower
Very early the next morning, while Mrs. Morran was still cooking breakfast, Dickson and
Heritage might have been observed taking the air in the village street. It was the Poet who
had insisted upon this walk, and he had his own purpose. They looked at the spires of
smoke piercing the windless air, and studied the daffodils in the cottage gardens. Dickson
was glum, but Heritage seemed in high spirits. He varied his garrulity with spells of
cheerful whistling.
They strode along the road by the park wall till they reached the inn. There Heritage's
music waxed peculiarly loud. Presently from the yard, unshaven and looking as if he had
slept in this clothes, came Dobson the innkeeper.
"Good morning," said the poet. "I hope the sickness in your house is on the mend?"
"Thank ye, it's no worse," was the reply, but in the man's heavy face there was little
civility. His small grey eyes searched their faces.
"We're just waiting for breakfast to get on the road again. I'm jolly glad we spent the
night here. We found quarters after all, you know."
"So I see. Whereabouts, may I ask?"
"Mrs. Morran's. We could always have got in there, but we didn't want to fuss an old
lady, so we thought we'd try the inn first. She's my friend's aunt."
At this amazing falsehood Dickson started, and the man observed his surprise. The eyes
were turned on him like a searchlight. They roused antagonism in his peaceful soul, and
with that antagonism came an impulse to back up the Poet. "Ay," he said, "she's my
auntie Phemie, my mother's half-sister."
The man turned on Heritage.
"Where are ye for the day?"
"Auchenlochan," said Dickson hastily. He was still determined to shake the dust of
Dalquharter from his feet.
The innkeeper sensibly brightened. "Well, ye'll have a fine walk. I must go in and see
about my own breakfast. Good day to ye, gentlemen."
"That," said Heritage as they entered the village street again, "is the first step in
camouflage, to put the enemy off his guard."
"It was an abominable lie," said Dickson crossly.
"Not at all. It was a necessary and proper ruse de guerre. It explained why we spent the
right here, and now Dobson and his friends can get about their day's work with an easy
mind. Their suspicions are temporarily allayed, and that will make our job easier."