But there was no shyness or timidity about the manner of Miss White when she spread those skins out along the sofa, and again and again took them up to praise their extraordinary glossiness and softness.
“Papa,” she exclaimed, “it is a present fit for a prince to make!”
“I dare say you will find them useful.”
“And whatever is made of them,” said she, with decision, “that I shall keep for myself—it won’t be one of my stage properties.”
Her spirits rose wonderfully. She kept on chatting to her father about these lovely skins, and the jacket she would have of them. She asked why he was so dull that evening. She protested that she would not take any supper unless he had some too: whereupon he had a biscuit and a glass of claret, which, at all events, compelled him to lay aside his book. And then, when she had finished her supper, she suddenly said,—
“Now, Pappy dear, I am going to tell you a great secret. I am going to change the song in the second act.”
“Nonsense!” said he; but he was rather glad to see her come back to the interest of her work.
“I am,” she said, seriously. “Would you like to hear it?”
“You will wake the house up.”
“And if the public expect an actress to please them,” she said, saucily, “they must take the consequences of her practising.”
She went to the piano, and opened it. There was a fine courage in her manner as she struck the chords and sang the opening lines of the gay song:—
nobles rode up the King’s ha’
But bonnie Glenogie’s the flower of them a’,
Wi’ his milk-white steed and his bonnie black e’e.’”
—but here her voice dropped, and it was almost in a whisper that she let the maiden of the song utter the secret wish of her heart—
“‘Glenogie, dear mither, Glenogie for me.’
“Of course,” she said, turning round to her father, and speaking in a business-like way, though there was a spice of proud mischief in her eyes, “There is a stumbling-block, or where would the story be! Glenogie is poor; the mother will not let her daughter have anything to do with him; the girl takes to her bed with the definite intention of dying.”
She turned to the piano again.
“’There is, Glenogie,
a letter for thee,
Oh, there is, Glenogie, a letter for thee.
The first line he looked at, a light laugh laughed he;
But ere he read through it, tears blinded his e’e.’
“How do you like the air, papa?”
Mr. White did not seem over well pleased. He was quite aware that his daughter was a very clever young woman; and he did not know what insane idea might have got into her head of throwing an allegory at him.
“The air,” said he, coldly, “is well enough. But I hope you don’t expect an English audience to understand that doggerel Scotch.”