He tightly grasped the hand he held; once more he gazed into those clear and confiding eyes—with an almost piteously anxious look: then he kissed her and hurried away. But she was bold enough to follow. Her eyes were very moist. Her heart was beating fast. If Glenogie had there and then challenged her, and said, “Come, then, sweetheart; will you fly with me? And the proud mother will meet you. And the gentle cousin will attend on you. And Castle Dare will welcome the young bride!”—what would she have said? The moment was over. She only saw the train go gently away from the station; and she saw the piteous eyes fixed on hers; and while he was in sight she waved her handkerchief. When the train had disappeared she turned away with a sigh.
“Poor fellow,” she was thinking to herself, “he is very much in earnest—far more in earnest than even poor Howson. It would break my heart if I were to bring him any trouble.”
By the time she had got to the end of the platform, her thoughts had taken a more cheerful turn.
“Dear me,” she was saying to herself, “I quite forgot to ask him whether my Gaelic was good!”
When she had got into the street outside, the day was brightening.
“I wonder,” she was asking herself, “whether Carry would come and look at that exhibition of water-colors; and what would the cab fare be?”
And now he was all eagerness to brave the first dragon in his way—the certain opposition of this proud old lady at Castle Dare. No doubt she would stand aghast at the mere mention of such a thing; perhaps in her sudden indignation she might utter sharp words that would rankle afterwards in the memory. In any case he knew the struggle would be long, and bitter, and harassing; and he had not the skill of speech to persuasively bend a woman’s will. There was another way—impossible, alas!—he had thought of. If only he could have taken Gertrude White by the hand—if only he could have led her up the hall, and presented her to his mother, and said, “Mother, this is your daughter; is she not fit to be the daughter of so proud a mother?”—the fight would have been over. How could any one withstand the appeal of those fearless and tender clear eyes?
Impatiently he waited for the end of dinner on the evening of his arrival; impatiently he heard Donald the piper lad, play the brave Salute—the wild, shrill yell overcoming the low thunder of the Atlantic outside, and he paid but little attention to the old and familiar Cumhadh na Cloinne. Then Hamish put the whiskey and the claret on the table, and withdrew. They were left alone.
“And now, Keith,” said his cousin Janet, with the wise gray eyes grown cheerful and kind, “you will tell us about all the people you saw in London; and was there much gayety going on? And did you see the Queen at all? and did you give any fine dinners?”