It was after 2 that I got back to the hotel. I was awakened what seemed to be only minutes later by the radio in the lounge downstairs, which was going full blast. I thought this curious, it being Sunday morning. I rang for some tea, and shortly a frightened girl with red hair brought it up to my room.
"What's the racket?" I asked.
"We are at war, sir," she replied. "It's the Prime Minister explaining it all."
And when I got downstairs I found Commander Onslow and the Sassenachs listening gravely to the words of Mr. Chamberlain. In the midst of it all, in bounced a huge, nervous man in a fore-and-aft hat and a splendid suit of loud tweed, a shooting stick in one hand and an expensive shotgun in the other, a Purdey, I would assume. It was Lord Lochamilton.
His popped eyes were rolling in his big red face, and he had obviously taken something to soothe his stomach because his mouth was rimmed with a faint white foam.
"What the devil's going on here?" he demanded.
"Shut up, Mibsy," Onslow said to the lord in a rather irreverent way. "We are at war."
It was true all right, and the following morning when we learned that the Athenia had been sunk the night before off the Irish coast with a loss of a hundred lives or more, I was very glad I had taken Mr. Mann's advice and come up to Stornoway.
And so it was that I stayed up in that purple-and-blue, spray-speckled country amongst these warmhearted and generous people for over a month, one of the happiest periods of my life.
The vexing and vicious aspects of existence were suspended for me. I shot grouse on the moors with Reggie and Nobby, played golf on a sheep-meadow course near the Milbost Sands and poached in some of Lochamilton's lochs with help and advice from Murdoch. He showed me how to tickle trout, but it badly scared me every time I touched one. I would jump, and it would slide out of my hand in a flash.