“How can I answer you all at once, Janet?” said he, laughing in a somewhat nervous way. “I did not see the Queen, for she was at Windsor; and I did not give any fine dinners, for it is not the time of year in London to give fine dinners; and indeed I spent enough money in that way when I was in London before. But I saw several of the friends who were very kind to me when I was in London in the summer. And do you remember, Janet, my speaking to you about the beautiful young lady—the actress I met at the house of Colonel Ross of Duntorme?”
“Oh yes, I remember very well.”
“Because,” said he—and his fingers were rather nervous as he took out a package from his breast-pocket—“I have got some photographs of her for the mother and you to see. But it is little of any one that you can understand from photographs. You would have to hear her talk, and see her manner, before you could understand why every one speaks so well of her, and why she is a friend with every one—”
He had handed the packet to his mother, and the old lady had adjusted her eye-glasses, and was turning over the various photographs.
“She is very good-looking,” said Lady Macleod. “Oh yes, she is very good-looking. And that is her sister?”
Janet was looking over them too.
“But where did you get all the photographs of her Keith?” she said. “They are from all sorts of places—Scarborough, Newcastle, Brighton—”
“I got them from herself,” said he.
“Oh do you know her so well?”
“I know her very well. She was the most intimate friend of the people whose acquaintance I first made in London,” he said, simply, and then he turned to his mother; “I wish photographs could speak, mother, for then you might make her acquaintance; and as she is coming to the Highlands next year—”
“We have no theatre in Mull, Keith,” Lady Macleod said, with a smile.
“But by that time she will not be an actress at all: did I not tell you that before?” he said, eagerly. “Did I not tell you that? She is going to leave the stage—perhaps sooner or later, but certainly by that time; and when she comes to the Highlands next year with her father, she will be travelling just like any one else. And I hope, mother, you won’t let them think that we Highlanders are less hospitable than the people of London.”
He made the suggestion in an apparently careless fashion, but there was a painfully anxious look in his eyes. Janet noticed that.
“It would be strange if they were to come to so unfrequented a place as the west of Mull,” said Lady Macleod, somewhat coldly, as she put the photographs aside.
“But I have told them all about the place, and what they will see, and they are eagerly looking forward to it; and you surely would not have them put up at the inn at Bunessan, mother?”
“Really, Keith, I think you have been imprudent. It was little matter our receiving a bachelor friend like Norman Ogilvie, but I don’t think we are quite in a condition to entertain strangers at Dare.”