“Macleod,” said Major Stuart to him, “did you come to London to write love-letters?”
“Love-letters!” he said, angrily; but then he laughed. “And what did you come to London for?”
“On a highly philanthropic errand,” said the other, gravely, “which I hope to see fulfilled to-morrow. And if we have a day or two to spare, that is well enough, for one cannot be always at work; but I did not expect to take a holiday in the company of a man who spends three-fourths of the day at a writing-desk.”
“Nonsense!” said Macleod, though there was some telltale color in his face. “All the writing I have done to-day would not fill up twenty minutes. And if I am a dull companion, is not Norman Ogilvie coming to dinner to-night to amuse you?”
While they were speaking, a servant brought in a card.
“Ask the gentleman to come up,” Macleod said, and then he turned to his companion. “What an odd thing! I was speaking to you a minute ago about that drag accident. And here is Beauregard himself.”
The tall, rough-visaged man—stooping slightly as though he thought the doorway was a trifle low—came forward and shook hands with Macleod, and was understood to inquire about his health, though what he literally said was, “Hawya, Macleod, hawya?”
“I heard you were in town from Paulton—you remember, Paulton, who dined with you at Richmond. He saw you in a hansom yesterday; and I took my chance of finding you in your old quarters. What are you doing in London?”
Macleod briefly explained.
“And you?” he asked, “what has brought you to London? I thought you and Lady Beauregard were in Ireland.”
“We have just come over, and go down to Weatherill to-morrow. Won’t you come down and shoot a pheasant or two before you return to the Highlands?”
“Well, the fact is,” Macleod said, hesitatingly, “my friend and I—by the way, let me introduce you—Lord Beauregard, Major Stuart—the fact is, we ought to go back directly after we have settled this business.”
“But a day or two won’t matter. Now, let me see. Plymley comes to us on Monday next, I think. We could get up a party for you on the Tuesday; and if your friend will come with you, we shall be six guns, which I always think the best number.”
The gallant major showed no hesitation whatever. The chance of blazing away at a whole atmosphereful of pheasants—for so he construed the invitation—did not often come in his way.