But as for Lady Macleod, when Janet reached her room, the haughty old dame was “neither to hold nor to bind.” There was nothing she would not have done for this favorite son of hers but this one thing. Give her consent to such a marriage? The ghosts of all the Macleods of Dare would call shame on her!
“Oh, auntie,” said the patient Janet, “he has been a good son to you; and you must have known he would marry some day.”
“Marry?” said the old lady, and she turned a quick eye on Janet herself. “I was anxious to see him married; and when he was choosing a wife I think he might have looked nearer home, Janet.”
“What a wild night it is!” said Janet Macleod quickly, and she went for a moment to the window. “The Dunara will be coming round the Mull of Cantire just about now. And where is the present, auntie, that the young lady sent you? You must write and thank her for that, at all events; and shall I write the letter for you in the morning?”
Lady Macleod remained obdurate; Janet went about the house with a sad look on her face; and Macleod, tired of the formal courtesy that governed the relations between his mother and himself, spent most of his time in snipe and duck shooting about the islands—braving the wild winds and wilder seas in a great, open lugsailed boat, the Umpire having long been sent to her winter-quarters. But the harsh, rough life had its compensations. Letters came from the South—treasures to be pored over night after night with an increasing wonder and admiration. Miss Gertrude White was a charming letter-writer; and now there was no restraint at all over her frank confessions and playful humors. Her letters were a prolonged chat—bright, rambling, merry, thoughtful, just as the mood occurred. She told him of her small adventures and the incidents of her everyday life, so that he could delight himself with vivid pictures of herself and her surroundings. And again and again she hinted rather than said that she was continually thinking of the Highlands, and of the great change in store for her.
“Yesterday morning,” she wrote, “I was going down the Edgeware Road, and whom should I see but two small boys, dressed as young Highlanders, staring into the window of a toy-shop. Stalwart young fellows they were, with ruddy complexions and brown legs, and their Glengarries coquettishly placed on the side of their head; and I could see at once that their plain kilt was no holiday dress. How could I help speaking to them? I thought perhaps they had come from Mull. And so I went up to them and asked if they would let me buy a toy for each of them. ’We dot money,’ says the younger, with a bold stare at my impertinence. ’But you can’t refuse to accept a present from a lady?’ I said. ‘Oh no, ma am,’ said the elder boy, and he politely raised his cap; and the accent of his speech—well, it made