They opened it, and her heart gave a leap. A moment before she had been sure this was the very hill. His laugh had confirmed it. . . . She remembered how, at the foot of it, just such a river as this looped itself through the plain. . . . But, lo! in the opening gap, inch by inch, a long building displayed itself: a mansion, gleaming white, with a pillared front and pillared terraces, rising—terrace on terrace—from the woodland, into which a cascade of water, spouting half-way down the slope, plunged and was lost.
She sat dumb. His eyes were upon her; and he laughed quietly.
“It is yours—as you commanded. See!”
He flung out a hand to the left. She beheld a clearing—an avenue, that ran like a broad ribbon to the summit of a flat-topped rise.
“You demanded sight of the ocean,” he was saying, and his voice seemed to lose itself in the beat of the churning paddles. “We cannot see it from here; but from the house—your house—you shall look on it every day. Did you not bid me remove a mountain?”
For the rest of the way she sat as in a dream. One of the M’Lauchlin lads had produced a cow-horn and was blowing it lustily. . . . They came to shore by river-stairs of stone, where two servants in the Vyell livery stood like statues awaiting them.
It was falling dusk when Sir Oliver disembarked and gave her his hand. The men-servants, who had bent to hold the canoe steady as she stepped ashore, drew themselves erect and again touched foreheads to their lord and lady.
Still as in a dream, her arm resting within her lover’s, she went up the broad stairways from terrace to terrace. Above her the long facade was lit with window after window blazing welcome.
At the head of the perron, under the colonnaded portico, other tall men-servants stood in waiting, mute, deferential. She passed between their lines into a vast entrance hall, and there, almost as her foot crossed its threshold, across the marbled floor little Miss Quiney came running a-flutter, inarticulate, with reaching hands.
Ruth drew back, almost with a cry. But before she could resist, Tatty’s arms were about her and Tatty’s lips lifted, pressed against either cheek. She suffered the embrace.
“My darling Ruth!—at last!” Then with a laugh, “And in what strange clothes! . . . But come—come and be arrayed!” She caught Ruth’s cold hand and led her towards the staircase. “Nay, never look about you so: your eyes will not take in a tenth of all the wonders!”
Later, as an Indian gong sounded below, he came from his dressing-room into the great bride-chamber where she stood, arrayed in satin, before her mirror, hesitating as her fingers touched one after another of the jewels scattered on the dressing-table under the waxen lights. Her maid slipped away discreetly.
“Well?” he asked. He was resplendent in a suit of sapphire velvet, with cravat and ruffles of old Spanish lace. “Is my love content with her home-coming?”