That taught the others a lesson, and now Lady Clare suffered from no annoying familiarities, but was admired at a respectful distance, until the pastor, vexed at her rivalry with his sermon, issued orders to have the stable-door locked during service.
There was one person besides the pastor who was ill pleased at the reputation Lady Clare was making. That was John Garvestad, the owner of Valders-Roan. John was the richest man in the parish, and always made a point of keeping fine horses. Valders-Roan, a heavily built, powerful horse, with a tremendous neck and chest and long tassels on his fetlocks, but rather squat in the legs, had hitherto held undisputed rank as the finest horse in all Sogn. By the side of Lady Clare he looked as a stout, good-looking peasant lad with coltish manners might have looked by the side of the daughter of a hundred earls.
But John Garvestad, who was naturally prejudiced in favor of his own horse, could scarcely be blamed for failing to recognize her superiority. He knew that formerly, on Sundays, the men were wont to gather with admiring comment about Valders-Roan; while now they stood craning their necks, peering through the windows of the parson's stable, in order to catch a glimpse of Lady Clare, and all the time Valders-Roan was standing tied to the fence, in full view of all, utterly neglected. This spectacle filled him with such ire that he hardly could control himself. His first impulse was to pick a quarrel with Erik; but a second and far brighter idea presently struck him. He would buy Lady Clare. Accordingly, when the captain and his son had mounted their horses and were about to start on their homeward way, Garvestad, putting Valders-Roan to his trumps, dug his heels into his sides and rode up with a great flourish in front of the churchyard gate.
"How much will you take for that mare of yours, captain?" he asked, as he checked his charger with unnecessary vigor close to Lady Clare.
"She is not mine to sell," the captain replied. "Lady Clare belongs to my son."
"Well, what will you take for her, then?" Garvestad repeated, swaggeringly, turning to Erik.
"Not all the gold in the world could buy her," retorted Erik, warmly.
Valders-Roan, unable to resist the charms of Lady Clare, had in the meanwhile been making some cautious overtures toward an acquaintance. He arched his mighty neck, rose on his hind legs, while his tremendous forehoofs were beating the air, and cut up generally--all for Lady Clare's benefit.