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Macleod of Dare
by William Black
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"By the way, Macleod," said Ogilvie, "you have never gone to Paris, as you intended."

"No," said he, trying to balance three nectarines one on the top of the other, "I have not gone to Paris. I have made enough friends in London. I have had plenty to occupy the time. And now, Ogilvie," he added, brightly, "I am going in for my last frolic, before everybody has left London, and you must come to it, even if you have to go down by your cold-meat train again. You know Miss Rawlinson; you have seen her at Mrs. Ross's, no doubt. Very well; I met her first when we went down to the Thames yacht race, and afterwards we became great friends; and the dear little old lady already looks on me as if I were her son. And do you know what her proposal is? That she is to give me up her house and garden for a garden party, and I am to ask my friends; and it is to be a dance as well, for we shall ask the people to have supper at eight o'clock or so; and then we shall have a marquee—and the garden all lighted up—do you see? It is one of the largest gardens on Campden Hill; and the colored lamps hung on the trees will make it look very fine; and we shall have a band to play music for the dancers—"

"It will cost you L200 or L300 at least," said Ogilvie, sharply.

"What then? You give your friends a pleasant evening, and you show them that you are not ungrateful," said Macleod.

Ogilvie began to ponder over this matter. The stories he had heard of Macleod's extravagant entertainments were true, then. Suddenly he looked up and said,—

"Is Miss White to be one of your guests?"

"I hope so," said he. "The theatre will be closed at the end of this week."

"I suppose you have been a good many times to the theatre."

"To the Piccadilly Theatre?"

"Yes."

"I have been only once to the Piccadilly Theatre—when you and I went together," said Macleod, coldly; and they spoke no more of that matter.

By and by they thought they might as well smoke outside, and so they went down and out upon the high and walled terrace overlooking the broad valley of the Thames. And now the moon had arisen in the south, and the winding river showed a pale gray among the black woods, and there was a silvery light on the stone parapet on which they leaned their arms. The night was mild and soft and clear, there was an intense silence around, but they heard the faint sound of oars far away—some boating party getting home through the dark shadows of the river-side trees.

"It is a beautiful life you have here in the south," Macleod said, after a time, "though I can imagine that the women enjoy it more than the men. It is natural for women to enjoy pretty colors, and flowers, and bright lights, and music; and I suppose it is the mild air that lets their eyes grow so big and clear. But the men—I should think they must get tired of doing nothing. They are rather melancholy, and their hands are white. I wonder they don't begin to hate Hyde Park, and kid gloves, and tight boots. Ogilvie," said he, suddenly, straightening himself up, "what do you say to the 12th? A few breathers over Ben-an-Sloich would put new lungs into you. I don't think you look quite so limp as most of the London men; but still you are not up to the mark. And then an occasional run out to Coll or Tiree in that old tub of ours, with a brisk sou'-wester blowing across—that would put some mettle into you. Mind you, you won't have any grand banquets at Castle Dare. I think it is hard on the poor old mother that she should have all the pinching, and none of the squandering; but women seem to have rather a liking for these sacrifices, and both she and Janet are very proud of the family name; I believe they would live on sea-weed for a year if only their representative in London could take Buckingham Palace for the season. And Hamish—don't you remember Hamish?—he will give you a hearty welcome to Dare, and he will tell you the truth about any salmon or stag you may kill, though he was never known to come within five pounds of the real weight of any big salmon I ever caught. Now then, what do you say?"

"Ah, it is all very well," said Lieutenant Ogilvie. "If we could all get what we want, there would scarcely be an officer in Aldershot Camp on the 12th of August. But I must say there are some capitally good fellows in our mess—and it isn't every one gets the chance you offer me—and there's none of the dog-in-the-manger feeling about them: in short. I do believe, Macleod, that I could get off for a week or so about the 20th."

"The 20th? So be it. Then you will have the blackcock added in."

"When do you leave?"

"On the 1st of August—the morning after my garden party. You must come to it, Ogilvie. Lady Beauregard has persuaded her husband to put off their going to Ireland for three days in order to come. And I have got old Admiral Maitland coming—with his stories of the press-gang, and of Nelson, and of the raids on the merchant-ships for officers for the navy. Did you know that Miss Rawlinson was an old sweetheart of his? He knew her when she lived in Jamaica with her father—several centuries ago you would think, judging by their stories. Her father got L28,000 from the government when his slaves were emancipated. I wish I could get the old admiral up to Dare—he and the mother would have some stories to tell, I think. But you don't like long journeys at ninety-two."

He was in a pleasant and talkative humor, this bright-faced and stalwart young fellow, with his proud, fine features and his careless air. One could easily see how these old folks had made a sort of a pet of him. But while he went on with this desultory chatting about the various people whom he had met, and the friendly invitations he had received, and the hopes he had formed of renewing his acquantainceship with this person and the next person, should chance bring him again to London soon, he never once mentioned the name of Miss Gertrude White, or referred to her family, or even to her public appearances, about which there was plenty of talk at this time. Yet Lieutenant Ogilvie, on his rare visits to London, had more than once heard Sir Keith Macleod's name mentioned in conjunction with that of the young actress whom society was pleased to regard with a special and unusual favor just then; and once or twice he, as Macleod's friend, had been archly questioned on the subject by some inquisitive lady, whose eyes asked more than her words. But Lieutenant Ogilvie was gravely discreet. He neither treated the matter with ridicule, nor, on the other hand, did he pretend to know more than he actually knew—which was literally nothing at all. For Macleod, who was, in ordinary circumstances, anything but a reserved or austere person, was on this subject strictly silent, evading questions with a proud and simple dignity that forbade the repetition of them. "The thing that concerns you not, meddle not with:" he observed the maxim himself, and expected others to do the like.

It was an early dinner they had had, after their stroll in Richmond Park, and it was a comparatively early train that Macleod and his friend now drove down to catch, after he had paid his bill. When they reached Waterloo Station it was not yet eleven o'clock; when he, having bade good-bye to Ogilvie, got to his rooms in Bary Street, it was but a few minutes after. He was joyfully welcomed by his faithful friend Oscar.

"You poor dog," said he, "here have we been enjoying ourselves all the day, and you have been in prison. Come, shall we go for a run?"

Oscar jumped up on him with a whine of delight; he knew what that taking up of the hat again meant. And then there was a silent stealing downstairs, and a slight, pardonable bark of joy in the hall, and a wild dash into the freedom of the narrow street when the door was opened. Then Oscar moderated his transports, and kept pretty close to his master as together they began to wander through the desert wilds of London.

Piccadilly?—Oscar had grown as expert in avoiding the rattling broughams and hansoms as the veriest mongrel that ever led a vagrant life in London streets. Berekely Square?—here there was comparative quiet, with the gas lamps shining up on the thick foliage of the maples. In Grosvenor Square he had a bit of a scamper; but there was no rabbit to hunt. In Oxford Street his master took him into a public-house and gave him a biscuit and a drink of water; after that his spirits rose a bit, and he began to range ahead in Baker Street. But did Oscar know any more than his master why they had taken this direction?

Still farther north; and now there were a good many trees about; and the moon, high in the heavens, touched the trembling foliage, and shone white on the front of the houses. Oscar was a friendly companion; but he could not be expected to notice that his master glanced somewhat nervously along South Bank when he had reached the entrance to that thoroughfare. Apparently the place was quite deserted; there was nothing visible but the walls, trees, and houses, one side in black shadow, the other shining cold and pale in the moonlight. After a moment's hesitation Macleod resumed his walk, though he seemed to tread more softly.

And now, in the perfect silence, he neared a certain house, though but little of it was visible over the wall and through the trees. Did he expect to see a light in one of those upper windows, which the drooping acacias did not altogether conceal. He walked quickly by, with his head averted. Oscar had got a good way in front, not doubting that his master was following him.

But Macleod, perhaps having mustered up further courage, stopped in his walk, and returned. This time he passed more slowly, and turned his head to the house, as if listening. There was no light in the windows; there was no sound at all; there was no motion but that of the trembling acacia leaves as the cold wind of the night stirred them. And then he passed over to the south side of the thoroughfare, and stood in the black shadow of a high wall; and Oscar came and looked up into his face.

A brougham rattled by; then there was utter stillness again; and the moonlight shone on the front of the small house; which was to all appearances as lifeless as the grave. Then, far away, twelve o'clock struck, and the sound seemed distant as the sound of a bell at sea in this intense quiet.

He was alone with the night, and with the dreams and fancies of the night. Would he, then, confess to himself that which he would confess to no other? Or was it merely some passing whim—some slight underchord of sentiment struck amidst the careless joy of a young man's holiday—that had led him up into the silent region of trees and moonlight? The scene around him was romantic enough, but he certainly had not the features of an anguish-stricken lover.

Again the silence of the night was broken by the rumbling of a cab that came along the road; and now, whatever may have been the fancy that brought him hither, he turned to leave, and Oscar joyfully bounded out into the road. But the cab, instead of continuing its route, stopped at the gate of the house he had been watching, and two young ladies stepped out. Fionaghal, the Fair Stranger, had not, then, been wandering in the enchanted land of dreams, but toiling home in a humble four-wheeler from the scene of her anxious labors? He would have slunk away rapidly but for an untoward accident. Oscar, ranging up and down, came upon an old friend, and instantly made acquaintance with her, on seeing which, Macleod, with deep vexation at his heart, but with a pleasant and careless face, had to walk along also.

"What an odd meeting!" said he. "I have been giving Oscar a run. I am glad to have a chance of bidding you good-night. You are not very tired, I hope."

"I am rather tired," said she; "but I have only two more nights, and then my holiday begins."

He shook hands with both sisters, and wished them good-night, and departed. As Miss Gertrude White went into her father's house she seemed rather grave.

"Gerty," said the younger sister, as she screwed up the gas, "wouldn't the name of Lady Macleod look well in a play-bill?"

The elder sister would not answer; but as she turned away there was a quick flush of color in her face—whether caused by anger or by a sudden revelation of her own thought it was impossible to say.



CHAPTER XI.

A FLOWER.

The many friends Macleod had made in the South—or rather those of them who had remained in town till the end of the season—showed an unwonted interest in this nondescript party of his; and it was at a comparatively early hour in the evening that the various groups of people began to show themselves in Miss Rawlinson's garden. That prim old lady, with her quick, bright ways, and her humorous little speeches, studiously kept herself in the background. It was Sir Keith Macleod who was the host. And when he remarked to her that he thought the most beautiful night of all the beautiful time he had spent in the South had been reserved for this very party, she replied—looking round the garden just as if she had been one of his guests—that it was a pretty scene. And it was a pretty scene. The last fire of the sunset was just touching the topmost branches of the trees. In the colder shade below, the banks and beds of flowers and the costumes of the ladies acquired a strange intensity of color. Then there was a band playing, and a good deal of chatting going on, and one old gentleman with a grizzled mustache humbly receiving lessons in lawn tennis from an imperious small maiden of ten. Macleod was here, there, and everywhere. The lanterns were to be lit while the people were in at supper. Lieutenant Ogilvie was directed to take in Lady Beauregard when the time arrived.

"You must take her in yourself, Macleod," said that properly constituted youth. "If you outrage the sacred laws of precedence—"

"I mean to take Miss Rawlinson in to supper," said Macleod; "she is the oldest woman here, and I think, my best friend."

"I thought you might wish to give Miss White the place of honor," said Ogilvie, out of sheer impertinence; but Macleod went off to order the candles to be lit in the marquee, where supper was laid.

By and by he came out again. And now the twilight had drawn on apace; there was a cold, clear light in the skies, while at the same moment a red glow began to shine through the canvas of the long tent. He walked over to one little group who were seated on a garden chair.

"Well," said he, "I have got pretty nearly all my people together now, Mrs. Ross."

"But where is Gertrude White?" said Mrs. Ross; "surely she is to be here?"

"Oh yes, I think so," said he. "Her father and herself both promised to come. You know her holidays have begun now."

"It is a good thing for that girl," said Miss Rawlinson, in her quick, staccato fashion, "that she has few holidays. Very good thing she has her work to mind. The way people run after her would turn any woman's head. The Grand D—— is said to have declared that she was one of the three prettiest women he saw in England: what can you expect if things like that get to a girl's ears?"

"But you know Gerty is quite unspoiled," said Mrs. Ross, warmly.

"Yes, so far," said the old lady, "So far she retains the courtesy of being hypocritical."

"Oh, Miss Rawlinson, I won't have you say such things of Gerty White!" Mrs. Ross protested. "You are a wicked old woman—isn't she Hugh?"

"I am saying it to her credit," continued the old lady, with much composure. "What I say is, that most pretty women who are much run after are flattered into frankness. When they are introduced to you, they don't take the trouble to conceal that they are quite indifferent to you. A plain woman will be decently civil, and will smile, and pretend she is pleased. A beauty—a recognized beauty—doesn't take the trouble to be hypocritical. Now Miss White does."

"It is an odd sort of compliment," said Colonel Ross, laughing. "What do you think of it Macleod?"

"These are too great refinements for my comprehension," said he, modestly. "I think if a pretty woman is uncivil to you, it is easy for you to turn on your heel and go away."

"I did not say uncivil—don't you go misrepresenting a poor old woman, Sir Keith. I said she is most likely to be flattered into being honest—into showing a stranger that she is quite indifferent, whereas a plain woman will try to make herself a little agreeable. Now a poor lone creature like myself likes to fancy that people are glad to see her, and Miss White pretends as much. It is very kind. By and by she will get spoiled like the rest, and then she will become honest. She will shake hands with me, and then turn off, as much as to say, 'Go away, you ugly old woman, for I can't be bothered with you, and I don't expect any money from you, and why should I pretend to like you?'"

All this was said in a half-jesting way; and it certainly did not at all represent—so far as Macleod had ever made out—the real opinions of her neighbors in the world held by this really kind and gentle old lady. But Macleod had noticed before that Miss Rawlinson never spoke with any great warmth about Miss Gertrude White's beauty, or her acting, or anything at all connected with her. At this very moment, when she was apparently praising the young lady, there was a bitter flavor about what she said. There may be jealousy between sixty-five and nineteen; and if this reflection occurred to Macleod, he no doubt assumed that Miss Rawlinson, if jealous at all, was jealous of Miss Gertrude White's influence over—Mrs. Ross.

"As for Miss White's father," continued the old lady, with a little laugh, "perhaps he believes in those sublime theories of art he is always preaching about. Perhaps he does. They are very fine. One result of them is that his daughter remains on the stage—and earns a handsome income—and he enjoys himself in picking up bits of curiosities."

"Now that is really unfair," said Mrs. Ross, seriously. "Mr. White is not a rich man, but he has some small means that render him quite independent of any income of his daughter's. Why, how did they live before they ever thought of letting her try her fortune on the stage? And the money he spent, when it was at last decided she should be carefully taught—"

"Oh, very well," said Miss Rawlinson, with a smile; but she nodded her head ominously. If that old man was not actually living on his daughter's earnings, he had at least strangled his mother, or robbed the Bank of England, or done something or other. Miss Rawlinson was obviously not well disposed either to Mr. White or to his daughter.

At this very moment both these persons made their appearance, and certainly, as this slender and graceful figure, clad in a pale summer costume, came across the lawn, and as a smile of recognition lit up the intelligent fine face, these critics sitting there must have acknowledged that Gertrude White was a singularly pretty woman. And then the fascination of that low-toned voice! She began to explain to Macleod why they were so late: some trifling accident had happened to Carry. But as these simple, pathetic tones told him the story, his heart was filled with a great gentleness and pity towards that poor victim of misfortune. He was struck with remorse because he had sometimes thought harshly of the poor child on account of a mere occasional bit of pertness. His first message from the Highlands would be to her.

"O, Willie brew'd a peck o'maut,"

the band played merrily, as the gay company took their seats at the long banquet-table, Macleod leading in the prim old dame who had placed her house at his disposal. There was a blaze of light and color in this spacious marquee. Bands of scarlet took the place of oaken rafters; there were huge blocks of ice on the table, each set in a miniature lake that was filled with white water-lilies; there were masses of flowers and fruit from one end to the other; and by the side of each menu lay a tiny nosegay, in the centre of which was a sprig of bell-heather. This last was a notion of Macleod's amiable hostess; she had made up those miniature bouquets herself. But she had been forestalled in the pretty compliment. Macleod had not seen much of Miss Gertrude White in the cold twilight outside. Now, in this blaze of yellow light, he turned his eyes to her, as she sat there demurely flirting with an old admiral of ninety-two, who was one of Macleod's special friends. And what was that flower she wore in her bosom—the sole piece of color in the costume of white? That was no sprig of blood-red bell-heather, but a bit of real heather—of the common ling; and it was set amidst a few leaves of juniper. Now, the juniper is the badge of the Clan Macleod. She wore it next her heart.

There was laughter, and wine, and merry talking.

"Last May a braw wooer,"

the band played now; but they scarcely listened.

"Where is your piper, Sir Keith?" said Lady Beauregard.

"At this moment," said he, "I should not wonder if he was down at the shore, waiting for me."

"You are going away quite soon, then?"

"To-morrow. But I don't wish to speak of it. I should like to-night to last forever."

Lady Beauregard was interrupted by her neighbor.

"What has pleased you, then, so much?" said his hostess, looking up at him. "London? Or the people in it? Or any one person in it?"

"Oh," he said, laughingly, "the whole thing. What is the use of dissecting? It is nothing but holiday making in this place. Now, Miss Rawlinson, are you brave? Won't you challenge the admiral to drink a glass of wine with you? And you must include his companion—just as they do at the city dinners—and I will join you too."

And so these old sweethearts drank to each other. And Macleod raised his glass too; and Miss White lowered her eyes, and perhaps flushed a little as she touched hers with her lips, for she had not often been asked to take a part in this old-fashioned ceremony. But that was not the only custom they revived that evening. After the banquet was over, and the ladies had got some light shawls and gone out into the mild summer night, and when the long marquee was cleared, and the band installed at the farther end, then there was a murmured talk of a minuet. Who could dance it? Should they try it?

"You know it?" said Macleod to Miss White.

"Yes," said she looking down.

"Will you be my partner?"

"With pleasure," she answered, but there was some little surprise in her voice which he at once detected.

"Oh," said he, "the mother taught me when I was a child. She and I used to have grand dances together. And Hamish he taught me the sword-dance."

"Do you know the sword-dance?" she said.

"Any one can know it," said he; "it is more difficult to do it. But at one time I could dance it with four of the thickest handled dirks instead of the two swords."

"I hope you will show us your skill to-night," she said, with a smile.

"Do you think any one can dance the sword-dance without the pipes?" said he, quite simply.

And now some of the younger people had made bold to try this minuet, and Macleod led his partner up to the head of the improvised ball-room, and the slow and graceful music began. That was a pretty sight for those walking outside in the garden. So warm was the night that the canvas of one side of the marquee had been removed, and those walking about in the dark outside could look into this gayly lighted place with the beautifully colored figures moving to the slow music. And as they thus walked along the gravel-paths, or under the trees, the stems of which were decorated with spirals of colored lamps, a new light arose in the south to shed a further magic over the scene. Almost red at first, the full moon cleared as it rose, until the trees and bushes were touched with a silver radiance, and the few people who walked about threw black shadows on the greensward and gravel. In an arbor at the farthest end of the garden a number of Chinese lanterns shed a dim colored light on a table and a few rocking-chairs. There were cigarettes on the table.

By and by from out of the brilliancy of the tent stepped Macleod and Fionaghal herself, she leaning on his arm, a light scarf thrown round her neck. She uttered a slight cry of surprise when she saw the picture this garden presented—the colored cups on the trees, the swinging lanterns, the broader sheen of the moonlight spreading over the foliage, and the lawn, and the walks.

"It is like fairyland!" she said.

They walked along the winding gravel-paths; and now that some familiar quadrille was being danced in that brilliant tent, there were fewer people out here in the moonlight.

"I should begin to believe that romance was possible," she said, with a smile, "if I often saw a beautiful scene like this. It is what we try to get in the theatre; but I see all the bare boards and the lime light—I don't have a chance of believing in it."

"Do you have a chance of believing in anything," said he, "on the stage?"

"I don't understand you," she said, gently; for she was sure he would not mean the rudeness that his words literally conveyed.

"And perhaps I cannot explain," said he. "But—but your father was talking the other day about your giving yourself up altogether to your art—living the lives of other people for the time being, forgetting yourself, sacrificing yourself, having no life of your own but that. What must the end of it be?—that you play with emotions and beliefs until you have no faith in any one—none left for yourself; it is only the material of your art. Would you not rather like to live your own life?"

He had spoken rather hesitatingly, and he was not at all sure that he had quite conveyed to her his meaning, though he had thought over the subject long enough and often enough to get his own impressions of it clear.

If she had been ten years older, and an experienced coquette, she would have said to herself, "This man hates the stage because he is jealous of its hold on my life," and she would have rejoiced over the inadvertent confession. But now these hesitating words of his seemed to have awakened some quick responsive thrill in her nature, for she suddenly said, with an earnestness that was not at all assumed:

"Sometimes I have thought of that—it is so strange to hear my own doubts repeated. If I could choose my own life—yes, I would rather live that out than merely imagining the experiences of others. But what is one to do? You look around, and take the world as it is. Can anything be more trivial and disappointing? When you are Juliet in the balcony, or Rosalind in the forest, then you have some better feeling with you, if it is only for an hour or so."

"Yes," said he; "and you go on indulging in those doses of fictitious sentiment until—But I am afraid the night air is too cold for you. Shall we go back?"

She could not fail to notice the trace of bitterness, and subsequent coldness, with which he spoke. She knew that he must have been thinking deeply over this matter, and that it was no ordinary thing that caused him to speak with so much feeling. But, of course, when he proposed that they should return to the marquee, she consented. He could not expect her to stand there and defend her whole manner of life. Much less could he expect her to give up her profession merely because he had exercised his wits in getting up some fantastic theory about it. And she began to think that he had no right to talk to her in this bitter fashion.

When they had got half way back to the tent, he paused for a moment.

"I am going to ask a favor of you," he said, in a low voice. "I have spent a pleasant time in England, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you for letting me become one of your friends. To-morrow morning I am going back home. I should like you to give me that flower—as some little token of remembrance."

The small fingers did not tremble at all as she took the flower from her dress. She presented it to him with a charming smile and without a word. What was the giving of a flower? There was a cart-load of roses in the tent.

But this flower she had worn next her heart.



CHAPTER XII.

WHITE HEATHER.

And now behold! the red flag flying from the summit of Castle Dare—a spot of brilliant color in this world of whirling mist and flashing sunlight. For there is half a gale blowing in from the Atlantic, and gusty clouds come sweeping over the islands, so that now the Dutchman, and now Fladda, and now Ulva disappears from sight, and then emerges into the sunlight again, dripping and shining after the bath, while ever and anon the huge promontory of Ru-Treshanish shows a gloomy purple far in the north. But the wind and the weather may do what they like to-day; for has not the word just come down from the hill that the smoke of the steamer has been made out in the south? and old Hamish is flying this way and that, fairly at his wits' end with excitement; and Janet Macleod has cast a last look at the decorations of heather and juniper in the great hall; while Lady Macleod, dressed in the most stately fashion, has declared that she is as able as the youngest of them to walk down to the point to welcome home her son.

"Ay, your leddyship, it is very bad," complains the distracted Hamish, "that it will be so rough a day this day, and Sir Keith not to come ashore in his own gig, but in a fishing-boat, and to come ashore at the fishing quay, too; but it is his own men will go out for him, and not the fishermen at all, though I am sure they will hef a dram whatever when Sir Keith comes ashore. And will you not tek the pony, your leddyship? for it is a long road to the quay."

"No, I will not take the pony, Hamish," said the tall, white-haired dame, "and it is not of much consequence what boat Sir Keith has, so long as he comes back to us. And now I think you had better go down to the quay yourself, and see that the cart is waiting and the boat ready."

But how could old Hamish go down to the quay? He was in his own person skipper, head keeper, steward, butler, and general major-domo, and ought on such a day as this to have been in half a dozen places at once. From the earliest morning he had been hurrying hither and thither, in his impatience making use of much voluble Gaelic. He had seen the yacht's crew in their new jersies. He had been round the kennels. He had got out a couple of bottles of the best claret that Castle Dare could afford. He had his master's letters arranged on the library table, and had given a final rub to the guns and rifles on the rack. He had even been down to the quay, swearing at the salmon-fishers for having so much lumber lying about the place where Sir Keith Macleod was to land. And if he was to go down to the quay now, how could he be sure that the ancient Christina, who was mistress of the kitchen as far as her husband Hamish would allow her to be, would remember all his instructions? And then the little granddaughter Christina, would she remember her part in the ceremony?

However, as Hamish could not be in six places at once, he decided to obey his mistress's directions, and went hurriedly off to the quay, overtaking on his way Donald the piper lad, who was apparelled in all his professional finery.

"And if ever you put wind in your pipes, you will put wind in your pipes this day, Donald," said he to the red-haired lad. "And I will tell you now what you will play when you come ashore from the steamer: it is the 'Farewell to Chubraltar' you will play."

"The 'Farewell to Gibraltar!'" said Donald, peevishly, for he was bound in honor to let no man interfere with his proper business. "It is a better march than that I will play, Hamish. It is the 'Heights of Alma,' that was made by Mr. Ross, the Queen's own piper; and will you tell me that the 'Heights of Alma' is not a better march than the 'Farewell to Gibraltar?'"

Hamish pretended to pay no heed to this impertinent boy. His eye was fixed on a distant black speck that was becoming more and more pronounced out there amidst the grays and greens of the windy and sunlit sea. Occasionally it disappeared altogether, as a cloud of rain swept across toward the giant cliffs of Mull, and then again it would appear, sharper and blacker than ever, while the masts and funnel were now visible as well as the hull. When Donald and his companion got down to the quay, they found the men already in the big boat, getting ready to hoist the huge brown lugsail; and there was a good deal of laughing and talking going on, perhaps in anticipation of the dram they were sure to get when their master returned to Castle Dare. Donald jumped down on the rude stone ballast, and made his way up to the bow; Hamish, who remained on shore, helped to shove her off; then the heavy lugsail was quickly hoisted, the sheet hauled tight; and presently the broad-beamed boat was ploughing its way through the rushing seas, with an occasional cloud of spray coming right over her from stem to stern. "Fhir a bhata," the men sung, until Donald struck in with his pipes, and the wild skirl of "The Barren Rocks of Aden" was a fitter sort of music to go with these sweeping winds and plunging seas.

And now we will board the steamer, where Keith Macleod is up on the bridge, occasionally using a glass, and again talking to the captain, who is beside him. First of all on board he had caught sight of the red flag floating over Castle Dare; and his heart had leaped up at that sign of welcome. Then he could make out the dark figures on the quay, and the hoisting of the lugsail, and the putting off of the boat. It was not a good day for observing things, for heavy clouds were quickly passing over, followed by bewildering gleams of a sort of watery sunlight; but as it happened, one of these sudden flashes chanced to light up a small plateau on the side of the hill above the quarry, just as the glass was directed on that point. Surely—surely—these two figures?

"Why, it is the mother—and Janet!" he cried.

He hastily gave the glass to his companion.

"Look!" said he. "Don't you think that is Lady Macleod and my cousin? What could have tempted the old lady to come away down there on such a squally day?"

"Oh yes, I think it is the ladies," said the captain; and then he added, with a friendly smile, "and I think it is to see you all the sooner, Sir Keith, that they have come down to the shore."

"Then," said he, "I must go down and get my gillie, and show him his future home."

He went below the hurricane deck to a corner in which Oscar was chained up. Beside the dog, sitting on a campstool, and wrapped round with a tartan plaid, was the person whom Macleod had doubtless referred to as his gillie. He was not a distinguished-looking attendant to be travelling with a Highland chieftain.

"Johnny, my man, come on deck now, and I will show you where you are going to live. You're all right now, aren't you? And you will be on the solid land again in about ten minutes."

Macleod's gillie rose—or, rather, got down—from the campstool, and showed himself to be a miserable, emaciated child of ten or eleven, with a perfectly colorless face, frightened gray eyes, and starved white hands. The contrast between the bronzed and bearded sailors—who were now hurrying about to receive the boat from Dare—and this pallid and shrunken scrap of humanity was striking; and when Macleod took his hand, and half led and half carried him up on deck, the look of terror that he directed on the plunging waters all around showed that he had not had much experience of the sea. Involuntarily he had grasped hold of Macleod's coat as if for protection.

"Now, Johnny, look right ahead. Do you see the big house on the cliffs over yonder?"

The child, still clinging on to his protector, looked all round with the dull, pale eyes, and at length said,—

"No."

"Can't you see that house, poor chap? Well, do you see that boat over there? You must be able to see that."

"Yes, sir."

"That boat is to take you ashore. You needn't be afraid. If you don't like to look at the sea, get down into the bottom of the boat, and take Oscar with you, and you'll see nothing until you are ashore. Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"Come along, then."

For now the wild skirl of Donald's pipes was plainly audible; and the various packages—the new rifle, the wooden case containing the wonderful dresses for Lady Macleod and her niece, and what not—were all ranged ready; to say nothing of some loaves of white bread that the steward was sending ashore at Hamish's request. And then the heaving boat came close to, her sail hauled down; and a rope was thrown and caught; and then there was a hazardous scrambling down the dripping iron steps, and a notable spring on the part of Oscar, who had escaped from the hands of the sailors. As for the new gillie, he resembled nothing so much as a limp bunch of clothes, as Macleod's men, wondering not a little, caught him up and passed him astern. Then the rope was thrown off, the steamer steamed slowly ahead, the lugsail was run up again, and away the boat plunged for the shore, with Donald playing the "Heights of Alma" as though he would rend the skies.

"Hold your noise, Donald!" his master called to him. "You will have plenty of time to play the pipes in the evening."

For he was greatly delighted to be among his own people again; and he was eager in his questions of the men as to all that had happened in his absence; and it was no small thing to them that Sir Keith Macleod should remember their affairs, too, and ask after their families and friends. Donald's loyalty was stronger than his professional pride. He was not offended that he had been silenced; he only bottled up his musical fervor all the more; and at length, as he neared the land, and knew that Lady Macleod and Miss Macleod were within hearing, he took it that he knew better than any one else what was proper to the occasion, and once more the proud and stirring march strove with the sound of the hurrying waves. Nor was that all. The piper lad was doing his best. Never before had he put such fire into his work; but as they got close inshore the joy in his heart got altogether the mastery of him, and away he broke into the mad delight of "Lady Mary Ramsay's Reel." Hamish on the quay heard, and he strutted about as if he were himself playing, and that before the Queen. And then he heard another sound—that of Macleod's voice:

"Stand by lads!... Down with her!"—and the flapping sail, with its swinging gaff, rattled down into the boat. At the same moment Oscar made a clear spring into the water, gained the landing-steps, and dashed upward—dripping as he was—to two ladies who were standing on the quay above. And Janet Macleod so far forgot what was due to her best gown that she caught his head in her arms, as he pawed and whined with delight.

That was a glad enough party that started off and up the hillside for Castle Dare. Janet Macleod did not care to conceal that she had been crying a little bit; and there were proud tears in the eyes of the stately old dame who walked with her; but the most excited of all was Hamish, who could by no means be got to understand that his master did not all at once want to hear about the trial of the young setters, and the price of the sheep sold the week before at Tobermory, and the stag that was chased by the Carsaig men on Tuesday.

"Confound it, Hamish!" Macleod said, laughing, "leave all those things till after dinner."

"Oh, ay, oh ay, Sir Keith, we will hef plenty of time after dinner," said Hamish, just as if he were one of the party, but very nervously working with the ends of his thumbs all the time, "and I will tell you of the fine big stag that has been coming down every night—every night, as I am a living man—to Mrs. Murdoch's corn: and I wass saying to her, 'Just hold your tongue, Mrs. Murdoch'—that wass what I will say to her—'just hold your tongue, Mrs. Murdoch, and be a civil woman, for a day or two days, and when Sir Keith comes home it iss no more at all the stag will trouble you—oh no, no more at all; there will be no more trouble about the stag when Sir Keith comes home.'"

And old Hamish laughed at his own wit, but it was in a sort of excited way.

"Look here, Hamish, I want you to do this for me," Macleod said; and instantly the face of the old man—it was a fine face, too, with its aquiline nose, and grizzled hair, and keen hawk-like eyes—was full of an eager attention. "Go back and fetch that little boy I left with Donald. You had better look after him yourself. I don't think any water came over him; but give him dry clothes if he is wet at all. And feed him up: the little beggar will take a lot of fattening without any harm."

"Where is he to go to?" said Hamish, doubtfully.

"You are to make a keeper of him. When you have fattened him up a bit, teach him to feed the dogs. When he gets bigger, he can clean the guns."

"I will let no man or boy clean the guns for you but myself, Sir Keith," the old man said, quite simply, and without a shadow of disrespect, "I will hef no risks of the kind."

"Very well, then; but go and get the boy, and make him at home as much as you can. Feed him up."

"Who is it, Keith?" his cousin said, "that you are speaking of as if he was a sheep or a calf?"

"Faith," said he, laughing, "if the philanthropists heard of it, they would prosecute me for slave-stealing. I bought the boy—for a sovereign."

"I think you have made a bad bargain, Keith," his mother said; but she was quite prepared to hear of some absurd whim of his.

"Well," said he, "I was going into Trafalgar Square, where the National Gallery of pictures is, mother, and there is a cab-stand in the street, and there was a cabman standing there, munching at a lump of dry bread that he cut with a jack-knife. I never saw a cabman do that before; I should have been less surprised if he had been having a chicken and a bottle of port. However, in front of this big cabman this little chap I have brought with me was standing; quite in rags; no shoes on his feet, no cap on his wild hair; and he was looking fixedly at the big lump of bread. I never saw any animal look so starved and so hungry; his eyes were quite glazed with the fascination of seeing the man ploughing away at this lump of loaf. And I never saw any child so thin. His hands were like the claws of a bird; and his trousers were short and torn so that you could see his legs were like two pipe-stems. At last the cabman saw him. 'Get out o' the way,' says he. The little chap slunk off, frightened, I suppose. Then the man changed his mind. 'Come here,' says he. But the little chap was frightened, and wouldn't come back; so he went after him, and thrust the loaf into his hand, and bade him be off. I can tell you, the way he went into that loaf was very fine to see. It was like a weasel at the neck of a rabbit. It was like an otter at the back of a salmon. And that was how I made his acquaintance," Macleod added, carelessly.

"But you have not told us why you brought him up here," his mother said.

"Oh," said he, with a sort of laugh, "I was looking at him, and I wondered whether Highland mutton and Highland air would make any difference in the wretched little skeleton; and so I made his acquaintance. I went home with him to a fearful place—I have got the address, but I did not know there were such quarters in London—and I saw his mother. The poor woman was very ill, and she had a lot of children; and she seemed quite glad when I offered to take this one and make a herd or a gamekeeper of him. I promised he should go to visit her once a year, that she might see whether there was any difference. And I gave her a sovereign."

"You were quite right, Keith," his cousin said, gravely; "You run a great risk. Do they hang slavers?"

"Mother," said he, for by this time the ladies were standing still, so that Hamish and the new gillie should overtake them, "you mustn't laugh at the little chap when you see him with the plaid taken off. The fact is, I took him to a shop in the neighborhood to get some clothes for him, but I couldn't get anything small enough. He does look ridiculous; but you mustn't laugh at him, for he is like a girl for sensitiveness. But when he has been fed up a bit, and got some Highland air into his lungs, his own mother won't know him. And you will get him some other clothes, Janet—some kilts, maybe—when his legs get stronger."

Whatever Keith Macleod did was sure to be right in his mother's eyes, and she only said, with a laugh,—

"Well, Keith, you are not like your brothers. When they brought me home presents, it was pretty things; but all your curiosities, wherever you go, are the halt, and the lame, and the blind; so that people laugh at you, and say that Castle Dare is becoming the hospital of Mull."

"Mother, I don't care what the people say."

"And indeed I know that," she answered.

Their waiting had allowed Hamish and the new gillie to overtake them; and certainly the latter, deprived of his plaid, presented a sufficiently ridiculous appearance in the trousers and jacket that were obviously too big for him. But neither Lady Macleod nor Janet laughed at all when they saw this starved London waif before them.

"Johnny," said Macleod, "here are two ladies who will be very kind to you, so you needn't be afraid to live here."

But Johnny did look mortally afraid, and instinctively once more took hold of Macleod's coat. Then he seemed to have some notion of his duty. He drew back one foot, and made a sort of courtesy. Probably he had seen girls do this, in mock-heroic fashion, in some London court.

"And are you very tired?" said Janet Macleod, in that soft voice of hers that all children loved.

"Yes," said the child.

"Kott bless me!" cried Hamish, "I did not know that!"—and therewith the old man caught up Johnny Wickes as if he had been a bit of ribbon, and flung him on to his shoulder, and marched off to Castle Dare.

Then the three Macleods continued on their way—through the damp-smelling fir-wood; over the bridge that spanned the brawling brook; again through the fir-wood; until they reached the open space surrounding the big stone house. They stood for a minute there—high over the great plain of the sea, that was beautiful with a thousand tints of light. And there was the green island of Ulva, and there the darker rocks of Colonsay, and farther out, amidst the windy vapor and sunlight, Lunga, and Fladda, and the Dutchman's Cap, changing in their hue every minute as the clouds came driving over the sea.

"Mother," said he, "I have not tasted fresh air since I left. I am not sorry to get back to Dare."

"And I don't think we are sorry to see you back, Keith," his cousin said, modestly.

And yet the manner of his welcome was not imposing; they are not very good at grand ceremonies on the western shores of Mull. It is true that Donald, relieved of the care of Johnny Wickes, had sped by a short-cut through the fir-wood, and was now standing in the gravelled space outside the house, playing the "Heights of Alma" with a spirit worthy of all the MacCruimins that ever lived. But as for the ceremony of welcome, this was all there was of it: When Keith Macleod went up to the hall door, he found a small girl of five or six standing quite by herself at the open entrance. This was Christina, the granddaughter of Hamish, a pretty little girl with wide blue eyes and yellow hair.

"Halloo, Christina," said Macleod, "won't you let me into the house?"

"This is for you, Sir Keith," said she, in the Gaelic, and she presented him with a beautiful bunch of white heather. Now white heather, in that part of the country, is known to bring great good fortune to the possessor of it.

"And it is a good omen," said he, lightly, as he took the child up and kissed her. And that was the manner of his welcome to Castle Dare.



CHAPTER XIII.

AT HOME.

The two women-folk, with whom he was most nearly brought into contact, were quite convinced that his stay in London had in nowise altered the buoyant humor and brisk activity of Keith Macleod. Castle Dare awoke into a new life on his return. He was all about and over the place accompanied by the faithful Hamish; and he had a friendly word and smile for every one he met. He was a good master: perhaps he was none the less liked because it was pretty well understood that he meant to be master. His good-nature had nothing of weakness in it. "If you love me, I love you," says the Gaelic proverb; "otherwise do not come near me." There was not a man or lad about the place who would not have adventured his life for Macleod; but all the same they were well aware that the handsome young master, who seemed to go through life with a merry laugh on his face, was not one to be trifled with. This John Fraser, an Aberdeen man, discovered on the second night after Macleod's return to Castle Dare.

Macleod had the salmon-fishing on this part of the coast, and had a boat's crew of four men engaged in the work. One of these having fallen sick, Hamish had to hire a new hand, an Aberdeenshire man, who joined the crew just before Macleod's departure from London. This Fraser turned out to be a "dour" man; and his discontent and grumbling seemed to be affecting the others, so that the domestic peace of Dare was threatened. On the night in question old Hamish came into Macleod's conjoint library and gun-room.

"The fishermen hef been asking me again, sir," observed Hamish, with his cap in his hand. "What will I say to them?"

"Oh, about the wages?" Macleod said, turning round.

"Ay, sir."

"Well, Hamish, I don't object. Tell them that what they say is right. This year has been a very good year; we have made some money; I will give them two shillings a week more if they like. But then, look here, Hamish—if they have their wages raised in a good year, they must have them lowered in a bad year. They cannot expect to share the profit without sharing the loss too. Do you understand that, Hamish?"

"Yes, Sir Keith, I think I do."

"Do you think you could put it into good Gaelic for them?"

"Oh ay."

"Then tell them to choose for themselves. But make it clear."

"Ay, Sir Keith," said Hamish. "And if it was not for that —— man, John Fraser, there would be no word of this thing. And there is another thing I will hef to speak to you about, Sir Keith; and it is John Fraser, too, who is at the bottom of this, I will know that fine. It is more than two or three times that you will warn the men not to bathe in the bay below the castle; and not for many a day will any one do that, for the Cave bay it is not more as half a mile away. And when you were in London, Sir Keith, it was this man John Fraser he would bathe in the bay below the castle in the morning, and he got one or two of the others to join him; and when I bade him go away, he will say that the sea belongs to no man. And this morning, too—"

"This morning!" Macleod said, jumping to his feet. There was an angry flash in his eyes.

"Ay, sir, this very morning I saw two of them myself—and John Fraser he was one of them—and I went down and said to them, 'It will be a bad day for you,' says I to them, 'if Sir Keith will find you in this bay.'"

"Are they down at the quay now?" Macleod said.

"Ay, they will be in the house now."

"Come along with me, Hamish. I think we will put this right."

He lifted his cap and went out into the cool night air, followed by Hamish. They passed through the dark fir-wood until they came in sight of the Atlantic again, which was smooth enough to show the troubled reflection of the bigger stars. They went down the hillside until they were close to the shore, and then they followed the rough path to the quay. The door of the square stone building was open; the men were seated on rude stools or on spare coils of rope, smoking. Macleod called them out, and they came to the door.

"Now look here, boys," said he, "you know I will not allow any man to bathe in the bay before the house. I told you before; I tell you now for the last time. They that want to bathe can go along to the Cave bay; and the end of it is this—and there will be no more words about it—that the first man I catch in the bay before the house I will take a horsewhip to him, and he will have as good a run as ever he had in his life."

With that he was turning away, when he heard one of the men mutter, "I would like to see you do it!" He wheeled round instantly—and if some of his London friends could have seen the look of his face at this moment, they might have altered their opinion about the obliteration of certain qualities from the temperament of the Highlanders of our own day.

"Who said that?" he exclaimed.

There was no answer.

"Come out here, you four men!" he said. "Stand in a line there. Now let the man who said that step out and face me. I will show him who is to be master here. If he thinks he can master me, well; but it is one or the other of us who will be master!"

There was not a sound or a motion; but Macleod sprang forward, caught the man Fraser by the throat, and shook him thrice—as he might have shaken a reed.

"You scoundrel!" he said. "You coward! Are you afraid to own it was you? There has been nothing but bad feeling since ever you brought your ugly face among us—well, we've had enough of you!"

He flung him back.

"Hamish," said he, "you will pay this man his month's wages to-night. Pack him off with the Gometra men in the morning; they will take him out to the Pioneer. And look you here, sir," he added, turning to Fraser, "it will be a bad day for you the day that I see your face again anywhere about Castle Dare."

He walked off and up to the house again, followed by the reluctant Hamish. Hamish had spoken of this matter only that Macleod should give the men a renewed warning; he had no notion that this act of vengeance would be the result. And where were they to get a man to put in Fraser's place?

It was about an hour later that Hamish again came into the room.

"I beg your pardon, sir," said he, "but the men are outside."

"I cannot see them."

"They are ferry sorry, sir, about the whole matter, and there will be no more bathing in the front of the house, and the man Fraser they hef brought him up to say he is ferry sorry too."

"They have brought him up?"

"Ay, sir," said Hamish, with a grave smile. "It was for fighting him they were one after the other because he will make a bad speech to you; and he could not fight three men one after the other; and so they hef made him come up to say he is ferry sorry too; and will you let him stay on to the end of the season?"

"No. Tell the men that if they will behave themselves, we can go on as we did before, in peace and friendliness; but I mean to be master in this place. And I will not have a sulky fellow like this Fraser stirring up quarrels. He must pack and be off."

"It will not be easy to get another man, Sir Keith," old Hamish ventured to say.

"Get Sandy over from the Umpire."

"But surely you will want the yacht, sir, when Mr. Ogilvie comes to Dare?"

"I tell you Hamish, that I will not have that fellow about the place. That is an end of it. Did you think it was only a threat that I meant? And have you not heard the old saying that 'one does not apply plaster to a threat?' You will send him to Gometra in the morning in time for the boat."

And so the sentence of banishment was confirmed; and Hamish got a young fellow from Ulva to take the place of Fraser; and from that time to the end of the fishing season perfect peace and harmony prevailed between master and men.

But if Lady Macleod and Janet saw no change whatever in Macleod's manner after his return from the South, Hamish, who was more alone with the young man, did. Why this strange indifference to the very occupations that used to be the chief interest of his life? He would not go out after the deer; the velvet would be on their horns yet. He would not go out after the grouse: what was the use of disturbing them before Mr. Ogilvie came up?

"I am in no hurry," he said, almost petulantly. "Shall I not have to be here the whole winter for the shooting?"—and Hamish was amazed to hear him talk of the winter shooting as some compulsory duty, whereas in these parts it far exceeded in variety and interest the very limited low-ground shooting of the autumn. Until young Ogilvie came up, Macleod never had a gun in his hand. He had gone fishing two or three days; but had generally ended by surrendering his rod to Hamish, and going for a walk up the glen, alone. The only thing he seemed to care about, in the way of out of door occupation, was the procuring of otter-skins; and every man and boy in his service was ordered to keep a sharp lookout on that stormy coast for the prince of fur-bearing animals. Years before he had got enough skins together for a jacket for his cousin Janet; and that garment of beautiful thick black fur—dyed black, of course—was as silken and rich as when it was made. Why should he forget his own theory of letting all animals have a chance in urging a war of extermination against the otter?

This preoccupation of mind, of which Hamish was alone observant, was nearly inflicting a cruel injury on Hamish himself. On the morning of the day on which Ogilvie was expected to arrive, Hamish went in to his master's library. Macleod had been reading a book, but he had pushed it aside, and now both his elbows were on the table, and he was leaning his head on his hands, apparently in deep meditation of some kind or other.

"Will I tek the bandage off Nell's foot now, sir?"

"Oh yes, if you like. You know as much as I do about it."

"Oh, I am quite sure," said Hamish, brightly, "that she will do ferry well to-morrow. I will tek her whatever; and I can send her home if it is too much for her."

Macleod took up his book again.

"Very well, Hamish. But you have plenty to do about the house. Duncan and Sandy can go with us to-morrow."

The old man started, and looked at his master for a second. Then he said, "Ferry well, sir," in a low voice, and left the room.

But for the hurt, and the wounded, and the sorrowful there was always one refuge of consolation in Castle Dare. Hamish went straight to Janet Macleod; and she was astonished to see the emotion of which the keen, hard, handsome face of the old man was capable. Who before had ever seen tears in the eyes of Hamish MacIntyre?

"And perhaps it is so," said Hamish, with his head hanging down, "and perhaps it is that I am an old man now, and not able any more to go up to the hills; but if I am not able for that, I am not able for anything; and I will not ask Sir Keith to keep me about the house, or about the yacht. It is younger men will do better as me; and I can go away to Greenock; and if it is an old man I am, maybe I will find a place in a smack, for all that—"

"Oh, nonsense, Hamish!" Janet Macleod said, with her kindly eyes bent on him. "You may be sure Sir Keith did not mean anything like that—"

"Ay, mem," said the old man, proudly, "and who wass it that first put a gun into his hand? and who wass it skinned the ferry first seal that he shot in Loch Scridain? and who wass it told him the name of every spar and sheet of the Umpire, and showed him how to hold a tiller? And if there is any man knows more as me about the birds and the deer, that is right—let him go out; but it is the first day I hef not been out with Sir Keith since ever I wass at Castle Dare; and now it is time that I am going away; for I am an old man; and the younger men they will be better on the hills, and in the yacht too. But I can make my living whatever."

"Hamish, you are speaking like a foolish man," said Janet Macleod to him. "You will wait here now till I go to Sir Keith."

She went to him.

"Keith," said she, "do you know that you have nearly broken old Hamish's heart?"

"What is the matter?" said he, looking up in wonder.

"He says you have told him he is not to go out to the shooting with you to-morrow; and that is the first time he has been superseded; and he takes it that you think he is an old man; and he talks of going away to Greenock to join a smack."

"Oh, nonsense!" Macleod said. "I was not thinking when I told him. He may come with us if he likes. At the same time, Janet, I should think Norman Ogilvie will laugh at seeing the butler come out as a keeper."

"You know quite well, Keith," said his cousin, "that Hamish is no more a butler than he is captain of the Umpire or clerk of the accounts. Hamish is simply everybody and everything at Castle Dare. And if you speak of Norman Ogilvie—well, I think it would be more like yourself, Keith, to consult the feelings of an old man rather than the opinions of a young one."

"You are always on the right side, Janet. Tell Hamish I am very sorry. I meant him no disrespect. And he may call me at one in the morning if he likes. He never looked on me but as a bit of his various machinery for killing things."

"That is not fair of you, Keith. Old Hamish would give his right hand to save you the scratch of a thorn."

She went off to cheer the old man, and he turned to his book. But it was not to read it; it was only to stare at the outside of it in an absent sort of way. The fact is, he had found in it the story of a young aid-de-camp who was intrusted with a message to a distant part of the field while a battle was going forward, and who in mere bravado rode across a part of the ground open to the enemy's fire. He came back laughing. He had been hit, he confessed, but he had escaped: and he carelessly shook a drop or two of blood from a flesh wound on his hand. Suddenly, however, he turned pale, wavered a little, and then fell forward on his horse's neck, a corpse.

Macleod was thinking about this story rather gloomily. But at last he got up with a more cheerful air, and seized his cap.

"And if it is my death-wound I have got," he was thinking to himself, as he set out for the boat that was waiting for him at the shore, "I will not cry out too soon."



CHAPTER XIV.

A FRIEND.

His death-wound! There was but little suggestion of any death-wound about the manner or speech of this light-hearted and frank-spoken fellow who now welcomed his old friend Ogilvie ashore. He swung the gun-case into the cart as if it had been a bit of thread. He himself would carry Ogilvie's top-coat over his arm.

"And why have you not come in your hunting tartan?" said he, observing the very precise and correct shooting costume of the young man.

"Not likely," said Mr. Ogilvie, laughing. "I don't like walking through clouds with bare knees, with a chance of sitting down on an adder or two. And I'll tell you what it is, Macleod; if the morning is wet, I will not go out stalking, if all the stags in Christendom were there. I know what it is; I have had enough of it in my younger days."

"My dear fellow," Macleod said, seriously, "you must not talk here as if you could do what you liked. It is not what you wish to do, or what you don't wish to do; it is what Hamish orders to have done. Do you think I would dare to tell Hamish what we must do to-morrow?"

"Very well, then, I will see Hamish myself; I dare say he remembers me."

And he did see Hamish that evening, and it was arranged between them that if the morning looked threatening, they would leave the deer alone, and would merely take the lower-lying moors in the immediate neighborhood of Castle Dare. Hamish took great care to impress on the young man that Macleod had not yet taken a gun in his hand, merely that there should be a decent bit of shooting when his guest arrived.

"And he will say to me, only yesterday," observed Hamish, confidentially—"it wass yesterday itself he wass saying to me, 'Hamish, when Mr. Ogilvie comes here, it will be only six days or seven days he will be able to stop, and you will try to get him two or three stags. And, Hamish'—this is what he will say to me—'you will pay no heed to me, for I hef plenty of the shooting whatever, from the one year's end to the other year's end, and it is Mr. Ogilvie you will look after.' And you do not mind the rain, sir? It is fine warm clothes you have got on—fine woollen clothes you have, and what harm will a shower do?"

"Oh, I don't mind the rain, so long as I can keep moving—that's the fact, Hamish," replied Mr. Ogilvie; "but I don't like lying in wet heather for an hour at a stretch. And I don't care how few birds there are, there will be plenty to keep us walking. So you remember me, after all, Hamish?"

"Oh ay, sir," said Hamish, with a demure twinkle in his eye. "I mind fine the time you will fall into the water off the rock in Loch na Keal."

"There, now," exclaimed Mr. Ogilvie. "That is precisely what I don't see the fun of doing, now that I have got to man's estate, and have a wholesome fear of killing myself. Do you think I would lie down now on wet sea-weed, and get slowly soaked through with the rain for a whole hour, on the chance of a seal coming on the other side of the rock? Of course when I tried to get up I was as stiff as a stone. I could not have lifted the rifle if a hundred seals had been there. And it was no wonder at all I slipped down into the water."

"But the sea-water," said Hamish, gravely; "there will no harm come to you of the sea-water."

"I want to have as little as possible of either sea-water or rain-water," said Mr. Ogilvie, with decision, "I believe Macleod is half an otter himself."

Hamish did not like this, but he only said, respectfully.

"I do not think Sir Keith is afraid of a shower of rain whatever."

These gloomy anticipations were surely uncalled for; for during the whole of the past week the Western Isles had basked in uninterrupted sunlight, with blue skies over the fair blue seas, and a resinous warmth exhaling from the lonely moors. But all the same, next morning broke as if Mr. Ogilvie's forebodings were only too likely to be realized. The sea was leaden-hued and apparently still, though the booming of the Atlantic swell into the great caverns could be heard; Staffa, and Lunga, and the Dutchman were of a dismal black; the brighter colors of Ulva and Colonsay seemed coldly gray and green; and heavy banks of cloud lay along the land, running out to Ru-Treshanish. The noise of the stream rushing down through the fir-wood close to the castle seemed louder than usual, as if rain had fallen during the night. It was rather cold, too: all that Lady Macleod and Janet could say failed to raise the spirits of their guest.

But when Macleod—dressed in his homespun tartan of yellow and black—came round from the kennels with the dogs, and Hamish, and the tall red-headed lad Sandy, it appeared that they considered this to be rather a fine day than otherwise, and were eager to be off.

"Come along, Ogilvie." Macleod cried, as he gave his friend's gun to Sandy, but shouldered his own. "Sorry we haven't a dog-cart to drive you to the moor, but it is not far off."

"I think a cigar in the library would be the best thing for a morning like this," said Ogilvie, rather gloomily, as he put up the collar of his shooting-jacket, for a drop or two of rain had fallen.

"Nonsense, man! the first bird you kill will cheer you up."

Macleod was right; they had just passed through the wood of young larches close to Castle Dare, and were ascending a rough stone road that led by the side of a deep glen, when a sudden whir close by them startled the silence of this gloomy morning. In an instant Macleod had whipped his gun from his shoulder and thrust it into Ogilvie's hands. By the time the young man had full-cocked the right barrel and taken a quick aim, the bird was half way across the valley; but all the same he fired. For another second the bird continued its flight, but in a slightly irregular fashion; then down it went like a stone into the heather on the opposite side of the chasm.

"Well done, sir!" cried old Hamish.

"Bravo!" called out Macleod.

"It was a grand long shot!" said Sandy, as he unslipped the sagacious old retriever, and sent her down into the glen.

They had scarcely spoken when another dark object, looking to the startled eye as if it were the size of a house, sprang from the heather close by, and went off like an arrow, uttering a succession of sharp crowings. Why did not he fire? Then they saw him in wild despair whip down the gun, full-cock the left barrel, and put it up again. The bird was just disappearing over a crest of rising ground, and as Ogilvie fired he disappeared altogether.

"He's down, sir!" cried Hamish, in great excitement.

"I don't think so," Ogilvie answered, with a doubtful air on his face, but with a bright gladness in his eyes all the same.

"He's down, sir," Hamish reasserted. "Come away Sandy, with the dog!" he shouted to the red-headed lad, who had gone down into the glen to help Nell in her researches. By this time they saw that Sandy was recrossing the burn with the grouse in his hand, Nell following him contentedly. They whistled, and again whistled; but Nell considered that her task had been accomplished, and alternately looked at them and up at her immediate master. However, the tall lad, probably considering that the whistling was meant as much for him as for the retriever, sprang up the side of the glen in a miraculous fashion, catching here and there by a bunch of heather or the stump of a young larch, and presently he had rejoined the party.

"Take time, sir," said he. "Take time. Maybe there is more of them about here. And the other one, I marked him down from the other side. We will get him ferry well."

They found nothing, however, until they had got to the other side of the hill, where Nell speedily made herself mistress of the other bird—a fine young cock grouse, plump and in splendid plumage.

"And what do you think of the morning now, Ogilvie?" Macleod asked.

"Oh, I dare say it will clear," said he, shyly; and he endeavored to make light of Hamish's assertions that they were "ferry pretty shots—ferry good shots; and it was always a right thing to put cartridges in the barrels at the door of a house, for no one could tell what might be close to the house; and he was sure that Mr. Ogilvie had not forgotten the use of a gun since he went away from the hills to live in England."

"But look here, Macleod," Mr. Ogilvie said; "why did not you fire yourself?"—he was very properly surprised; for the most generous and self-denying of men are apt to claim their rights when a grouse gets up to their side.

"Oh," said Macleod simply, "I wanted you to have a shot."

And indeed all through the day he was obviously far more concerned about Ogilvie's shooting than his own. He took all the hardest work on himself—taking the outside beat, for example, if there was a bit of unpromising ground to be got over. When one or other of the dogs suddenly showed by its uplifted fore-paw, its rigid tail, and its slow, cautious, timid look round for help and encouragement, that there was something ahead of more importance than a lark, Macleod would run all the risks of waiting to give Ogilvie time to come up. If a hare ran across with any chance of coming within shot of Ogilvie, Macleod let her go by unscathed. And the young gentleman from the South knew enough about shooting to understand how he was being favored both by his host and—what was a more unlikely thing—by Hamish.

He was shooting very well, too; and his spirits rose and rose until the lowering day was forgotten altogether.

"We are in for a soaker this time!" he cried, quite cheerfully, looking around at one moment.

All this lonely world of olive greens and browns had grown strangely dark. Even the hum of flies—the only sound audible in these high solitudes away from the sea—seemed stilled; and a cold wind began to blow over from Ben-an-Sloich. The plain of the valley in front of them began to fade from view; then they found themselves enveloped in a clammy fog, that settled on their clothes and hung about their eyelids and beard, while water began to run down the barrels of their guns. The wind blew harder and harder: presently they seemed to spring out of the darkness; and, turning, they found that the cloud had swept onward toward the sea, leaving the rocks on the nearest hillside all glittering wet in the brief burst of sunlight. It was but a glimmer. Heavier clouds came sweeping over; downright rain began to pour. But Ogilvie kept manfully to his work. He climbed over the stone walls, gripping on with his wet hands. He splashed through the boggy land, paying no attention to his footsteps. And at last he got to following Macleod's plan of crossing a burn, which was merely to wade through the foaming brown water instead of looking out for big stones. By this time the letters in his breast pocket were a mass of pulp.

"Look here, Macleod," said he, with the rain running down his face, "I can't tell the difference between one bird and another. If I shoot a partridge it isn't my fault."

"All right," said Macleod. "If a partridge is fool enough to be up here, it deserves it."

Just at this moment Mr. Ogilvie suddenly threw up his hands and his gun, as if to protect his face. An extraordinary object—a winged object, apparently without a tail, a whirring bunch of loose gray feathers, a creature resembling no known fowl—had been put up by one of the dogs, and it had flown direct at Ogilvie's head. It passed him at about half a yard's distance.

"What in all the world is that?" he cried, jumping round to have a look at it.

"Why," said Macleod, who was roaring with laughter, "it is a baby blackcock, just out of the shell, I should think."

A sudden noise behind him caused him to wheel round, and instinctively he put up his gun. He took it down again.

"That is the old hen," said he; "we'll leave her to look after her chicks. Hamish, get in the dogs, or they'll be for eating some of those young ones. And you, Sandy, where was it you left the basket? We will go for our splendid banquet now, Ogilvie."

That was an odd-looking party that by and by might have been seen crouching under the lee of a stone wall with a small brook running by their feet. They had taken down wet stones for seats; and these were somewhat insecurely fixed on the steep bank. But neither the rain, nor the gloom, nor the loneliness of the silent moors seemed to have damped their spirits much.

"It really is awfully kind of you, Ogilvie," Macleod said, as he threw half a sandwich to the old black retriever, "to take pity on a solitary fellow like myself. You can't tell how glad I was to see you on the bridge of the steamer. And now that you have taken all the trouble to come to this place, and have taken your chance of our poor shooting, this is the sort of day you get!"

"My dear fellow," said Mr. Ogilvie, who did not refuse to have his tumbler replenished by the attentive Hamish, "it is quite the other way. I consider myself precious lucky. I consider the shooting firstrate; and it isn't every fellow would deliberately hand the whole thing over to his friend, as you have been doing all day. And I suppose bad weather is as bad elsewhere as it is here."

Macleod was carelessly filling his pipe, and obviously thinking of something very different.

"Man, Ogilvie," he said, in a burst of confidence, "I never knew before how fearfully lonely a life we lead here. If we were out on one of the Treshanish Islands, with nothing round us but skarts and gulls, we could scarcely be lonelier. And I have been thinking all the morning what this must look like to you."

He glanced round—at the sombre browns and greens of the solitary moorland, at the black rocks jutting out here and there from the scant grass, at the silent and gloomy hills and the overhanging clouds.

"I have been thinking of the beautiful places we saw in London, and the crowds of people, the constant change, and amusement, and life. And I shouldn't wonder if you packed up your traps to-morrow morning and fled."

"My dear boy," observed Mr. Ogilvie, confidently, "you are giving me credit for a vast amount of sentiment. I haven't got it. I don't know what it is. But I know when I am jolly well off. I know when I am in good quarters, with good shooting, and with a good sort of chap to go about with. As for London—bah! I rather think you got your eyes dazzled for a minute, Macleod. You weren't long enough there to find it out. And wouldn't you get precious tired of big dinners, and garden-parties, and all that stuff, after a time? Macleod, do you mean to tell me you ever saw anything at Lady Beauregard's as fine as that?"

And he pointed to a goodly show of birds, with a hare or two, that Sandy had taken out of the bag, so as to count them.

"Of course," said this wise young man, "there is one case in which that London life is all very well. If a man is awful spoons on a girl, then, of course, he can trot after her from house to house, and walk his feet off in the Park. I remember a fellow saying a very clever thing about the reasons that took a man into society. What was it, now? Let me see. It was either to look out for a wife, or—or——"

Mr. Ogilvie was trying to recollect the epigram and to light a wax match at the same time, and he failed in both.

"Well," said he, "I won't spoil it; but don't you believe that any one you met in London wouldn't be precious glad to change places with us at this moment?"

Any one? What was the situation? Pouring rain, leaden skies, the gloomy solitude of the high moors, the sound of roaring waters. And here they were crouching under a stone wall, with their dripping fingers lighting match after match for their damp pipes, with not a few midges in the moist and clammy air, and with a faint halo of steam plainly arising from the leather of their boots. When Fionaghal the Fair Stranger came from over the blue seas to her new home, was this the picture of Highland life that was presented to her?

"Lady Beauregard, for example?" said Macleod.

"Oh, I am not talking about women," observed the sagacious boy; "I never could make out a woman's notions about any thing. I dare say they like London life well enough, for they can show off their shoulders and their diamonds."

"Ogilvie," Macleod said, with a sudden earnestness, "I am fretting my heart out here—that is the fact. If it were not for the poor old mother—and Janet—but I will tell you another time."

He got up on his feet, and took his gun from Sandy. His companion—wondering not a little, but saying nothing—did likewise. Was this the man who had always seemed rather proud of his hard life on the hills? Who had regarded the idleness and effeminacy of town life with something of an unexpressed scorn? A young fellow in robust health and splendid spirits—an eager sportsman and an accurate shot—out for his first shooting-day of the year: was it intelligible that he should be visited by vague sentimental regrets for London drawing-rooms and vapid talk? The getting up of a snipe interrupted these speculations; Ogilvie blazed away, missing with both barrels; Macleod, who had been patiently waiting to see the effect of the shots, then put up his gun, and presently the bird came tumbling down, some fifty yards off.

"You haven't warmed to it yet," Macleod said, charitably. "The first half hour after luncheon a man always shoots badly."

"Especially when his clothes are glued to his skin from head to foot," said Ogilvie.

"You will soon walk some heat into yourself."

And again they went on, Macleod pursuing the same tactics, so that his companion had the cream of the shooting. Despite the continued soaking rain, Ogilvie's spirits seemed to become more and more buoyant. He was shooting capitally; one very long shot he made, bringing down an old blackcock with a thump on the heather, causing Hamish to exclaim,—

"Well done, sir! It is a glass of whiskey you will deserve for that shot."

Whereupon Mr. Ogilvie stopped and modestly hinted that he would accept of at least a moiety of the proffered reward.

"Do you know, Hamish," said he, "that it is the greatest comfort in the world to get wet right through, for you know you can't be worse, and it gives you no trouble."

"And a whole glass will do you no harm, sir," shrewdly observed Hamish.

"Not in the clouds."

"The what, sir?"

"The clouds. Don't you consider we are going shooting through clouds?"

"There will be a snipe or two down here, sir," said Hamish, moving on; for he could not understand conundrums, especially conundrums in English.

The day remained of this moist character to the end; but they had plenty of sport, and they had a heavy bag on their return to Castle Dare. Macleod was rather silent on the way home. Ogilvie was still at a loss to know why his friend should have taken this sudden dislike to living in a place he had lived in all his life. Nor could he understand why Macleod should have deliberately surrendered to him the chance of bagging the brace of grouse that got up by the side of the road. It was scarcely, he considered, within the possibilities of human nature.



CHAPTER XV.

A CONFESSION.

And once again the big dining-hall of Castle Dare was ablaze with candles; and Janet was there, gravely listening to the garrulous talk of the boy-officer; and Keith Macleod, in his dress tartan; and the noble-looking old lady at the head of the table, who more than once expressed to her guest, in that sweetly modulated and gracious voice of hers, how sorry she was he had encountered so bad a day for the first day of his visit.

"It is different with Keith," said she, "for he is used to be out in all weathers. He has been brought up to live out of doors."

"But you know, auntie," said Janet Macleod, "a soldier is much of the same thing. Did you ever hear of a soldier with an umbrella?"

"All I know is," remarked Mr. Ogilvie—who, in his smart evening dress, and with his face flashed into a rosy warmth after the cold and the wet, did not look particularly miserable—"that I don't remember ever enjoying myself so much in one day. But the fact is, Lady Macleod, your son gave me all the shooting; and Hamish was sounding my praises all day long, so that I almost got to think I could shoot the birds without putting up the gun at all; and when I made a frightful bad miss, everybody declared the bird was dead round the other side of the hill."

"And indeed you were not making many misses," Macleod said. "But we will try your nerve, Ogilvie, with a stag or two, I hope."

"I am on for anything. What with Hamish's flattery and the luck I had to-day, I begin to believe I could bag a brace of tigers if they were coming at me fifty miles an hour."

Dinner over, and Donald having played his best (no doubt he had learned that the stranger was an officer in the Ninety-third), the ladies left the dining-hall, and presently Macleod proposed to his friend that they should go into the library and have a smoke. Ogilvie was nothing loath. They went into the odd little room, with its guns and rods and stuffed birds, and, lying prominently on the writing-table, a valuable little heap of dressed otter-skins. Although the night was scarcely cold enough to demand it, there was a log of wood burning in the fireplace; there were two easy-chairs, low and roomy; and on the mantelpiece were some glasses, and a big black broad-bottomed bottle, such as used to carry the still vintages of Champagne even into the remote wilds of the Highlands, before the art of making sparkling wines had been discovered. Mr. Ogilvie lit a cigar, stretched out his feet towards the blazing log, and rubbed his hands, which were not as white as usual.

"You are a lucky fellow, Macleod," said he, "and you don't know it. You have everything about you here to make life enjoyable."

"And I feel like a slave tied to a galley oar," said he, quickly. "I try to hide it from the mother—for it would break her heart—and from Janet too; but every morning I rise, the dismalness of being alone here—of being caged up alone—eats more and more into my heart. When I look at you, Ogilvie—to-morrow morning you could go spinning off to any quarter you liked, to see any one you wanted to see—"

"Macleod," said his companion, looking up, and yet speaking rather slowly and timidly, "if I were to say what would naturally occur to any one—you won't be offended? What you have been telling me is absurd, unnatural, impossible, unless there is a woman in the case."

"And what then?" Macleod said, quickly, as he regarded his friend with a watchful eye, "You have guessed?"

"Yes," said the other: "Gertrude White."

Macleod was silent for a second or two. Then he sat down.

"I scarcely care who knows it now," said he, absently "so long as I can't fight it out of my own mind. I tried not to know it. I tried not to believe it. I argued with myself, laughed at myself, invented a hundred explanations of this cruel thing that was gnawing at my heart and giving me no peace night or day. Why, man, Ogilvie, I have read 'Pendennis!' Would you think it possible that any one who has read 'Pendennis' could ever fall in love with an actress?"

He jumped to his feet again, walked up and down for a second or two, twisting the while a bit of casting-line round his finger so that it threatened to cut into the flesh.

"But I will tell you now, Ogilvie—now that I am speaking to any one about it," said he—and he spoke in a rapid, deep, earnest voice, obviously not caring much what his companion might think, so that he could relieve his overburdened mind—"that it was not any actress I fell in love with. I never saw her in a theatre but that once. I hated the theatre whenever I thought of her in it. I dared scarcely open a newspaper, lest I should see her name. I turned away from the posters in the streets: when I happened by some accident to see her publicly paraded that way, I shuddered all through—with shame, I think; and I got to look on her father as a sort of devil that had been allowed to drive about that beautiful creature in vile chains. Oh, I cannot tell you! When I have heard him talking away in that infernal, cold, precise way about her duties to her art, and insisting that she should have no sentiments or feelings of her own, and that she should simply use every emotion as a bit of something to impose on the public—a bit of her trade, an exposure of her own feelings to make people clap their hands—I have sat still and wondered at myself that I did not jump up and catch him by the throat, and shake the life out of his miserable body."

"You have cut your hand, Macleod."

He shook a drop or two of blood off.

"Why, Ogilvie, when I saw you on the bridge of the steamer, I nearly went mad with delight. I said to myself, 'Here is some one who has seen her and spoken to her, who will know when I tell him.' And now that I am telling you of it, Ogilvie, you will see—you will understand—that it is not any actress I have fallen in love with—it was not the fascination of an actress at all, but the fascination of the woman herself; the fascination of her voice, and her sweet ways, and the very way she walked, too, and the tenderness of her heart. There was a sort of wonder about her; whatever she did or said was so beautiful, and simple, and sweet! And day after day I said to myself that my interest in this beautiful woman was nothing. Some one told me there had been rumors: I laughed. Could any one suppose I was going to play Pendennis over again? And then as the time came for me to leave, I was glad, and I was miserable at the same time. I despised myself for being miserable. And then I said to myself, 'This stupid misery is only the fancy of a boy. Wait till you get back to Castle Dare, and the rough seas, and the hard work of the stalking. There is no sickness and sentiment on the side of Ben-an-Sloich.' And so I was glad to come to Castle Dare, and to see the old mother, and Janet, and Hamish; and the sound of the pipes, Ogilvie—when I heard them away in the steamer, that brought tears to my eyes; and I said to myself, 'Now you are at home again, and there will be no more nonsense of idle thinking.' And what has it come to? I would give everything I possess in the world to see her face once more—ay, to be in the same town where she is. I read the papers, trying to find out where she is. Morning and night it is the same—a fire, burning and burning, of impatience, and misery, and a craving just to see her face and hear her speak."

Ogilvie did not know what to say. There was something in this passionate confession—in the cry wrung from a strong man, and in the rude eloquence that here and there burst from him—that altogether drove ordinary words of counsel or consolation out of the young man's mind.

"You have been hard hit, Macleod," he said, with some earnestness.

"That is just it," Macleod said, almost bitterly. "You fire at a bird. You think you have missed him. He sails away as if there was nothing the matter, and the rest of the covey no doubt think he is as well as any one of them. But suddenly you see there is something wrong. He gets apart from the others; he towers; then down he comes, as dead as a stone. You did not guess anything of this in London?"

"Well," said Ogilvie, rather inclined to beat about the bush, "I thought you were paying her a good deal of attention. But then—she is very popular, you know, and receives a good deal of attention; and—and the fact is, she is an uncommonly pretty girl, and I thought you were flirting a bit with her, but nothing more than that. I had no idea it was something more serious than that."

"Ay," Macleod said, "if I myself had only known! If it was a plunge—as people talk about falling in love with a woman—why, the next morning I would have shaken myself free of it, as a Newfoundland dog shakes himself free of the water. But a fever, a madness, that slowly gains on you—and you look around and say it is nothing, but day after day it burns more and more. And it is no longer something that you can look at apart from yourself—it is your very self; and sometimes, Ogilvie, I wonder whether it is all true, or whether it is mad I am altogether. Newcastle—do you know Newcastle?"

"I have passed through it, of course," his companion said, more and more amazed at the vehemence of his speech.

"It is there she is now—I have seen it in the papers; and it is Newcastle—Newcastle—Newcastle—I am thinking of from morning till night, and if I could only see one of the streets of it I should be glad. They say it is smoky and grimy; I should be breathing sunlight if I lived in the most squalid of all its houses. And they say she is going to Liverpool, and to Manchester, and to Leeds; and it is as if my very life were being drawn away from me. I try to think what people may be around her; I try to imagine what she is doing at a particular hour of the day; and I feel as if I were shut away in an island in the middle of the Atlantic, with nothing but the sound of the waves around my ears. Ogilvie, it is enough to drive a man out of his senses."

"But, look here, Macleod," said Ogilvie, pulling himself together; for it was hard to resist the influence of this vehement and uncontrollable passion—"look here, man; why don't you think of it in cold blood? Do you expect me to sympathize with you as a friend? Or would you like to know what any ordinary man of the world would think of the whole case?"

"Don't give me your advice, Ogilvie," said he, untwining and throwing away the bit of casting-line that had cut his finger. "It is far beyond that. Let me talk to you—that is all. I should have gone mad in another week, if I had had no one to speak to; and as it is, what better am I than mad? It is not anything to be analyzed and cured: it is my very self; and what have I become?"

"But look here, Macleod—I want to ask you a question: would you marry her?"

The common-sense of the younger man was re-asserting itself. This was what any one—looking at the whole situation from the Aldershot point of view—would at the outset demand? But if Macleod had known all that was implied in the question, it is probable that a friendship that had existed from boyhood would then and there have been severed. He took it that Ogilvie was merely referring to the thousand and one obstacles that lay between him and that obvious and natural goal.

"Marry her!" he exclaimed. "Yes, you are right to look at it in that way—to think of what it will all lead to. When I look forward, I see nothing but a maze of impossibilities and trouble. One might as well have fallen in love with one of the Roman maidens in the Temple of Vesta. She is a white slave. She is a sacrifice to the monstrous theories of that bloodless old pagan, her father. And then she is courted and flattered on all sides; she lives in a smoke of incense: do you think, even supposing that all other difficulties were removed—that she cared for no one else, that she were to care for me, that the influence of her father was gone—do you think she would surrender all the admiration she provokes and the excitement of the life she leads, to come and live in a dungeon in the Highlands? A single day like to-day would kill her, she is so fine and delicate—like a rose leaf, I have often thought. No, no, Ogilvie, I have thought of it every way. It is like a riddle that you twist and twist about to try and get the answer; and I can get no answer at all, unless wishing that I had never been born. And perhaps that would have been better."

"You take too gloomy a view of it, Macleod," said Ogilvie. "For one thing, look at the common-sense of the matter. Suppose that she is very ambitious to succeed in her profession, that is all very well; but, mind you, it is a very hard life. And if you put before her the chance of being styled Lady Macleod—well, I may be wrong, but I should say that would count for something. I haven't known many actresses myself—"

"That is idle talk," Macleod said; and then he added, proudly, "You do not know this woman as I know her."

He put aside his pipe; but in truth he had never lit it.

"Come," said he, with a tired look, "I have bored you enough. You won't mind, Ogilvie? The whole of the day I was saying to myself that I would keep all this thing to myself, if my heart burst over it; but you see I could not do it, and I have made you the victim, after all. And we will go into the drawing-room now; and we will have a song. And that was a very good song you sang one night in London, Ogilvie—it was about 'Death's black wine'—and do you think you could sing us that song to-night?"

Ogilvie looked at him.

"I don't know what you mean by the way you are talking, Macleod," said he.

"Oh," said he, with a laugh that did not sound quite natural, "have you forgotten it? Well, then, Janet will sing us another song—that is, 'Farewell, Manchester.' And we will go to bed soon to-night, for I have not been having much sleep lately. But it is a good song—it is a song you do not easily forget—that about 'Death's black wine.'"



CHAPTER XVI.

REBELLION.

And where was she now—that strange creature who had bewildered and blinded his eyes and so sorely stricken his heart? It was, perhaps, not the least part of his trouble that all his passionate yearning to see her, and all his thinking about her and the scenes in which he had met her, seemed unable to conjure up any satisfactory vision of her. The longing of his heart went out from him to meet—a phantom. She appeared before him in a hundred shapes, now one, now the other; but all possessed with a terrible fascination from which it was in vain for him to try to flee.

Which was she, then—the pale, and sensitive, and thoughtful-eyed girl who listened with such intense interest to the gloomy tales of the Northern seas; who was so fine, and perfect, and delicate; who walked so gracefully and smiled so sweetly; the timid and gentle companion and friend?

Or the wild coquette, with her arch, shy ways, and her serious laughing, and her befooling of the poor stupid lover? He could hear her laugh now; he could see her feed her canary from her own lips. Where was the old mother whom that madcap girl teased and petted and delighted?

Or was not this she—the calm and gracious woman who received as a matter of right the multitude of attentions that all men—and women too—were glad to pay her? The air fine about her; the south winds fanning her cheek; the day long, and balmy, and clear. The white-sailed boats glide slowly through the water; there is a sound of music and of gentle talk; a butterfly comes fluttering over the blue summer seas. And then there is a murmuring refrain in the lapping of the waves: Rose Leaf! Rose Leaf! what faint wind will carry you away to the south?

Or this audacious Duchess of Devonshire, with the flashing black eyes, and a saucy smile on her lips? She knows that every one regards her; but what of that? Away she goes through the brilliant throng with that young Highland officer, with glowing light and gay costumes and joyous music all around her. What do you think of her, you poor clown, standing all alone and melancholy, with your cap and bells? Has she pierced your heart too with a flash of the saucy black eyes?

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