“It was no story,” said he. “He fell into the water, and we picked him up somehow;” and then he turned impatiently to the men, and said some words to them in the Gaelic, and there was no more singing of the Farewell to the Boatman after that.
They got home to Castle Dare before the rain came on; though, indeed, it was but a passing shower, and it was succeeded by a bright afternoon that deepened into a clear and brilliant sunset; but as they went up through the moist-smelling larch-wood—and as Janet happened to fall behind for a moment, to speak to a herdboy who was by the wayside—Macleod said to his companion,—
“And have you no other word for me, Gertrude?”
Then she said with a very gracious smile,
“You must be patient, Keith. Are we not very well off as we are? I know a good many people who are not quite so well off. And I have no doubt we shall have courage to meet whatever good or bad fortune the days may bring us; and if it is good, then we shall shake hands over it, just as the village people do in an opera.”
Fine phrases; though this man, with the dark and hopeless look in his eyes, did not seem to gain much gladness from them. And she forgot to tell him about that engagement which was to last till Christmas; perhaps if she had told him just then he would scarcely have heard her.
THE NEW TRAGEDY.
His generous, large nature fought hard to find excuses for her. He strove to convince himself that this strange coldness, this evasion, this half-repellent attitude, was but a form of maiden coyness. It was her natural fear of so great a change. It was the result, perhaps, of some last lingering look back to the scene of her artistic triumphs. It did not even occur to him as a possibility that this woman with her unstable sympathies and her fatally facile imagination, should have taken up what was now the very end and aim of his life, and have played with the pretty dream until she grew tired of the toy, and was ready to let her wandering fancy turn to something other and new.
He dared not even think of that; but all the same, as he stood at this open window alone, an unknown fear had come over him. It was a fear altogether vague and undefined; but it seemed to have the power of darkening the daylight around him. Here was the very picture he had so often desired that she should see—the wind-swept Atlantic; the glad blue skies with their drifting clouds of summer white; the Erisgeir rocks; the green shores of Ulva; and Colonsay and Gometra and Staffa all shining in the sunlight; with the sea-birds calling, and the waves breaking, and the soft west wind stirring the fuchsia-bushes below the windows of Castle Dare. And it was all dark now; and the sea was a lonely thing—more lonely than ever it had been even during that long winter that he had said was like a grave.