Miss Carry’s fierce onslaught was thus laughed away, and they proceeded to other matters; the major meanwhile not failing to remark that this luncheon differed considerably from the bread and cheese and glass of whiskey of a shooting-day in Mull. Then they returned to the drawing-room, and had tea there, and some further talk. The major had by this time quite abandoned his critical and observant attitude. He had succumbed to the enchantress. He was ready to declare that Gertrude White was the most fascinating woman he had ever met, while, as a matter of fact, she had been rather timidly making suggestions and asking his opinion all the time. And when they rose to leave, she said,—
“I am very sorry, Major Stuart, that this unfortunate accident should have altered your plans; but since you must remain in London, I hope we shall see you often before you go.”
“You are very kind,” said he.
“We cannot ask you to dine with us,” she said, quite simply and frankly, “because of my engagements in the evening; but we are always at home at lunch-time, and Sir Keith knows the way.”
“Thank you very much,” said the major, as he warmly pressed her hand.
The two friends passed out into the street.
“My dear fellow,” said the major, “you have been lucky—don’t imagine I am humbugging you. A really handsome lass, and a thorough woman of the world, too—trained and fitted at every point; none of your farmyard beauties. But I say, Macleod—I say,” he continued, solemnly, “won’t she find it a trifle dull at Castle Dare?—the change, you know.”
“It is not necessary that she should live at Dare,” Macleod said.
“Oh, of course, you know your own plans best.”
“I have none. All that is in the air as yet. And so you do not think I have make a mistake.”
“I wish I was five-and-twenty, and could make a mistake like that,” said the major, with a sigh.
Meanwhile Miss Carry had confronted her sister.
“So you have been inspected, Gerty. Do you think you passed muster?”
“Go away, and don’t be impertinent, you silly girl!” said the other, good-naturedly.
Carry pulled a folded piece of paper from her pocket, and, advancing, placed it on the table.
“There,” said she, “put that in your purse, and don’t tell me you have not been warned, Gertrude White.”
The elder sister did as she was bid; but indeed she was not thinking at that moment of the cruel and revengeful character of the Western Highlanders, which Miss Carry’s quotation set forth in such plain terms. She was thinking that she had never before seen Glenogie look so soldier-like and handsome.
AT A RAILWAY STATION.
The few days of grace obtained by the accident that happened to Major Stuart fled too quickly away, and the time came for saying farewell. With a dismal apprehension Macleod looked forward to this moment. He had seen her on the stage bid a pathetic good-by to her lover, and there it was beautiful enough—with her shy coquetries, and her winning ways, and the timid, reluctant confession of her love. But there was nothing at all beautiful about this ordeal through which he must pass. It was harsh and horrible. He trembled even as he thought of it.