It came, therefore, as a keen disappointment to every Dalesman, from Herbert Trotter, Secretary of the Trials, to little Billy Thornton, when the Master persisted in his decision not to run the dog for the Cup in the approaching Dale Trials; and that though parson, squire, and even Lady Eleanour essayed to shake his purpose. It was nigh fifty years since Rex son o' Rally had won back the Trophy for the land that gave it birth; it was time, they thought, for a Daleland dog, a Gray Dog of Kenmuir--the terms are practically synonymous--to bring it home again. And Tarnmas, that polished phrase-maker, was only expressing the feelings of every Dalesman in the room when, one night at the Arms, he declared of Owd Bob that "to ha' run was to ha' won." At which M'Adam sniggered audibly and winked at Red Wull. "To ha' run was to ha' one--lickin'; to rin next year'll be to-- Win next year." Tammas interposed dogmatically. "Onless "--with shivering sarcasm
--"you and yer Wullie are thinkin' o' winnin'." The little man rose from his solitary seat at the back of the room and pattered across.
"Wullie and I are thinkin' o' t," he whispered loudly in the old man's ear. "And mair:
what Adam M'Adam and his Red Wull think o' doin', that, ye may remairk, Mr. Thornton, they do. Next year we rin, and next year-- we win. Come, Wullie, we'll leave 'em to chew that"; and he marched out of the room amid the jeers of the assembled topers. When quiet was restored, it was Jim Mason who declared: "One thing certain, win or no, they'll not he far off."
Meanwhile the summer ended abruptly. Hard on the heels of a sweltering autumn the winter came down. In that year the Daleland assumed very early its white cloak. The Silver Mere was soon ice-veiled; the Wastrel rolled sullenly down below Kenmuir, its creeks and quiet places tented with jagged sheets of ice; while the Scaur and Muir Pike raised hoary heads against the frosty blue. It was the season still remembered in the North as the White Winter--the worst, they say, since the famous i8o8.
For days together Jim Mason was stuck with his bags in the Dalesman's Daughter, and there was no communication between the two Dales. On the Mere Marches the snow massed deep and impassable in thick, billowy drifts. In the Devil's Bowl men said it lay piled some score feet deep. And sheep, seeking shelter in the ghylls and protected spots, were buried and lost in their hundreds.
That is the time to test the hearts of shepherds and sheep-dogs, when the wind runs ice-cold across the waste of white, and the low woods on the upland walks shiver black through a veil of snow, and sheep must be found and folded or lost: a trial of head as well as heart, of resource as well as resolution.
In that winter more than one man and many a dog lost his life in the quiet performance of his duty, gliding to death over the slippery snow-shelves, or overwhelmed beneath an avalanche of the warm, suffocating white: "smoored," as they call it. Many a deed was done, many a death died, recorded only in that Book which holds the names of those--men or animals, souls or no souls--who tried.