“It is indeed a beautiful garden,” Macleod said, looking round on the withered leaves and damp soil; “no wonder you look after it yourself.”
“I am not gardening,” the old man said, peevishly. “I have been putting a knife in the ground—burying the hatchet, you might call it. Fancy! A man sees an old hunting-knife in a shop at Gloucester—a hunting-knife of the time of Charles I., with a beautifully carved ivory handle; and he thinks he will make a present of it to me. What does he do but go and have it ground, and sharpened, and polished until if looks like something sent from Sheffield the day before yesterday!”
“You ought to be very pleased, pappy, you got it at all,” said Gertrude White; but she was looking elsewhere, and rather absently too.
“And so you have buried it to restore the tone?”
“I have,” said the old gentleman, marching off with the shovel to a sort of out house.
Macleod speedily took his leave.
“Saturday next at noon,” said he to her, with no timidity in his voice.
“Yes,” said she, more gently, and with downcast eyes.
He walked away from the house—he knew not whither. He saw nothing around him. He walked hard, sometimes talking to himself. In the afternoon he found himself in a village in Berkshire, close by which, fortunately, there was a railway station; and he had just time to get back to keep his appointment with Major Stuart.
They sat down to dinner.
“Come, now, Macleod, tell me where you have been all day,” said the rosy-faced soldier, carefully tucking his napkin under his chin.
Macleod burst out laughing.
“Another day—another day, Stuart, I will tell you all about it. It is the most ridiculous story you ever heard in your life!”
It was a strange sort of laughing, for there were tears in the younger man’s eyes. But Major Stuart was too busy to notice; and presently they began to talk about the real and serious object of their expedition to London.
A RED ROSE.
From nervous and unreasoning dread to overweening and extravagant confidence there was but a single bound. After the timid confession she had made, how could he have any further fear? He knew now the answer she must certainly give him. What but the one word “yes”—musical as the sound of summer seas—could fitly close and atone for all that long period of doubt and despair? And would she murmur it with the low, sweet voice, or only look it with the clear and lambent eyes? Once uttered, anyhow, surely the glad message would instantly wing its flight away to the far North; and Colonsay would hear; and the green shores of Ulva would laugh; and through all the wild dashing and roaring of the seas there would be a soft ringing as of wedding-bells. The Gometra men will have a good glass that night; and who will take the news to distant Fladda and rouse the lonely Dutchman from his winter sleep? There is a bride coming to Castle Dare!