And she?—at this moment she was down at the small bridge that crossed the burn. She had gone out to seek her father; had found him coming up through the larch-wood, and was now accompanying him back. They had rested here; he sitting on the weatherworn parapet of the bridge; she leaping over it, and idly dropping bits of velvet-green moss into the whirl of clear brown water below.
“I suppose we must be thinking of getting away from Castle Dare, Gerty,” said he.
“I shall not be sorry,” she answered.
But even Mr. White was somewhat taken aback by the cool promptitude of this reply.
“Well, you know your own business best,” he said to her. “It is not for me to interfere. I said from the beginning I would not interfere. But still I wish you would be a little more explicit, Gerty, and let one understand what you mean—whether, in fact, you do mean, or do not mean, to marry Macleod.”
“And who said that I proposed not to marry him?” said she; but she still leaned over the rough stones and looked at the water. “The first thing that would make me decline would be the driving me into a corner—the continual goading, and reminding me of the duty I had to perform. There has been just a little too much of that here”—and at this point she raised herself so that she could regard her father when she wished—“and I really must say that I do not like to be taking a holiday with the feeling hanging over you that certain things are expected of you every other moment, and that you run the risk of being considered a very heartless and ungrateful person unless you do and say certain things you would perhaps rather not do and say. I should like to be let alone. I hate being goaded. And I certainly did not expect that you, too, papa, would try to drive me into a corner.”
She spoke with some little warmth. Mr. White smiled.
“I was quite unaware, Gerty,” said he, “that you were suffering this fearful persecution.”
“You may laugh, but it is true,” said she, and there was a trifle of color in her cheeks. “The serious interests I am supposed to be concerned about! Such profound topics of conversation! Will the steamer come by the south to-morrow, or round by the north? The Gometra men have had a good take of lobsters yesterday. Will the head-man at the Something lighthouse be transferred to some other lighthouse? and how will his wife and family like the change? They are doing very well with a subscription for a bell for the Free Church at Iona. The deer have been down at John Maclean’s barley again. Would I like to visit the weaver at Iona who has such a wonderful turn for mathematics? and would I like to know the man at Salen who has the biographies of all the great men of the time in his head?”
Miss White had worked herself up to a pretty pitch of contemptuous indignation; her father was almost beginning to believe that it was real.