When Norman Ogilvie had even mentioned marriage, Macleod had merely shaken his head and turned away. There was no issue that way from the wilderness of pain and trouble into which he had strayed. She was already wedded—to that cruel art that was crushing the woman within her. Her ways of life and his were separated as though by unknown oceans. And how was it possible that so beautiful a woman—surrounded by people who petted and flattered her—should not already have her heart engaged? Even if she were free, how could she have bestowed a thought on him—a passing stranger—a summer visitor—the acquaintance of an hour?
But no sooner had Gertrude White, to his sudden wonder, and joy, and gratitude, made that stammering confession, than the impetuosity of his passion leaped at once to the goal. He would not hear of any obstacles. He would not look at them. If she would but take his hand, he would lead her and guard her, and all would go well. And it was to this effect that he wrote to her day after day, pouring out all the confidences of his heart to her, appealing to her, striving to convey to her something of his own high courage and hope. Strictly speaking, perhaps, it was not quite fair that he should thus have disturbed the calm of her deliberation. Had he not given her till the end of the week to come to a decision? But when, in his eagerness, he thought of some further reason, some further appeal, how could he remain silent? With the prize so near, he could not let it slip from his grasp through the consideration of niceties of conduct. By rights he ought to have gone up to Mr. White and begged for permission to pay his addresses to the old gentleman’s daughter. He forgot all about that. He forgot that Mr. White was in existence. All his thinking from morning till night—and through much of the night too—was directed on her answer—the one small word filled with a whole worldful of light and joy.
“If you will only say that one little word,” he wrote to her, “then everything else becomes a mere trifle. If there are obstacles, and troubles, and what not, we will meet them one by one, and dispose of them. There can be no obstacles, if we are of one mind; and we shall be of one mind sure enough, if you will say you will become my wife; for there is nothing I will not consent to; and I shall only be too glad to have opportunities of showing my great gratitude to you for the sacrifice you must make. I speak of it as a sacrifice; but I do not believe it is one—whatever you may think now—and whatever natural regret you may feel—you will grow to feel there was no evil done you when you were drawn away from the life that now surrounds you. And if you were to say ’I will become your wife only on one condition—that I am not asked to abandon my career as an actress,’ still I would say ‘Become my wife.’ Surely matters of arrangement are mere trifles—after you have given me your promise. And when you have