stunned for a minute or two, and then hurried after the stranger intending to stop him. But he could see him no more. There were several houses and gardens about and he might have passed into one of them, but anyhow he was lost to sight. The farmer did as he was told and hurried home. He arrived just in time to save his house from being burned to the ground, and more than that, for his wife and children and servants were in bed and asleep.
When the story was told, Mr. Fetherston gave his opinion of it very freely. I never saw contempt more effectually expressed. He spoke without the least atom of temper. Men who get angry and denounce that sort of thing are usually afraid of believing it, or at least of seeming to believe it. Nothing was further from Mr. Fetherston's thought. But you saw plainly that such stories were for him on a level with the most senseless of nursery rhymes and nothing better than mere idiot's chatter. He did not say so in as many words nor at all offensively, but he made it quite clear nevertheless that he felt himself to be looking down from the platform of a mysterious intelligence on some very contemptible folly.
I felt as if reproach were in the air, and I knew that if it were deserved I was one of those who deserved it.