But not to forget herself. A new gladness filled his heart when he thought of her—thought of her not now as a dream or a vision, but as the living and breathing woman whose musical laugh seemed still to be ringing in his ears. He could see her plainly—the face all charged with life and loveliness; the clear bright eyes that he had no longer any fear of meeting; the sweet mouth with its changing smiles. When Major Stuart came home that night he noticed a most marked change in the manner of his companion. Macleod was excited, eager, talkative; full of high spirits and friendliness; he joked his friend about his playing truant from his wife. He was anxious to know all about the major’s adventures, and pressed him to have but one other cigar, and vowed that he would take him on the following evening to the only place in London where a good dinner could be had. There was gladness in his eyes, a careless satisfaction in his manner; he was ready to do anything, go anywhere. This was more like the Macleod of old. Major Stuart came to the conclusion that the atmosphere of London had had a very good effect on his friend’s spirits.
When Macleod went to bed that night there were wild and glad desires and resolves in his brain that might otherwise have kept him awake but for the fatigue he had lately endured. He slept, and he dreamed; and the figure that he saw in his dreams—though she was distant, somehow—had a look of tenderness in her eyes, and she held a red rose in her hand.
November though it was, next morning broke brilliantly over London. There was a fresh west wind blowing; there was a clear sunshine filling the thoroughfares; if one were on the lookout for picturesqueness even in Bury Street, was there not a fine touch of color where the softly red chimney-pots rose far away into the blue? It was not possible to have always around one the splendor of the northern sea.
And Macleod would not listen to a word his friend had to say concerning the important business that had brought them both to London.
“To-night, man—to-night—we will arrange it all to-night,” he would say, and there was a nervous excitement about his manner for which the major could not at all account.
“Sha’n’t I see you till the evening, then?” he asked.
“No,” Macleod said, looking anxiously out of the window, as if he feared some thunder-storm would suddenly shut out the clear light of this beautiful morning. “I don’t know—perhaps I may be back before—but at any rate we meet at seven. You will remember—seven?”
“Indeed I am not likely to forget it,” his companion said, for he had been told about five-and-thirty times.
It was about eleven o’clock when Macleod left the house. There was a grateful freshness about the morning even here in the middle of London. People looked cheerful; Piccadilly was thronged with idlers come out to enjoy the sunshine; there was still a leaf or two fluttering on the trees in the square. Why should this man go eagerly tearing away northward in a hansom—with an anxious and absorbed look on his face—when everybody seemed inclined to saunter leisurely along, breathing the sweet wind, and feeling the sunlight on their cheek?