“Keith!” said Lady Macleod, with a frown. “How can you repeat that nonsense! Miss White will think you are mad!”
“It was only an old fancy, mother,” said he, gently. “And we were thinking of going out to one of the Treshnish islands, anyway. Surely it is a harmless thing that a man should choose out the place of his own grave, so long as he does not want to be put into it too soon.”
“It will be time for you to speak of such things thirty years hence,” said Lady Macleod.
“Thirty years is a long time,” said he; and then he added, lightly, “but if we do not go out to the Treshnish islands, we must go somewhere else before the Tuesday; and would you go round to Loch Sunart now? or shall we drive you to-morrow to see Glen More and Loch Buy? And you must not leave Mull without visiting our beautiful town—and capital—that is Tobermory.”
Every one was quite surprised and pleased to find Macleod taking the sudden departure of his sweetheart in this fashion; it showed that he had abundant confidence in the future. And if Miss White had her own thoughts about the matter, it was at all events satisfactory to her that outwardly Macleod and she were parting on good terms.
But that evening he happened to find her alone for a few moments; and all the forced cheerfulness had left his eyes, and there was a dark look there—of hopeless anxiety and pain.
“I do not wish to force you, Gerty—to persecute you,” said he. “You are our guest. But before you go away, cannot you give me one definite word of promise and hope—only one word?”
“I am quite sure you don’t want to persecute me, Keith,” said she, “but you should remember there is a long time of waiting before us, and there will be plenty of opportunity for explaining and arranging everything when we have leisure to write—”
“To write!” he exclaimed. “But I am coming to see you, Gerty! Do you think I could go through another series of long months, with only those letters, and letters, and letters to break one’s heart over? I could not do it again. Gerty. And when you have visited your friends in Aberdeen, I am coming lo London.”
“Why, Keith, there is the shooting!”
“I do not think I shall try the shooting this year—it is an anxiety—I cannot have patience with it. I am coming to London, Gerty.”
“Oh, very well, Keith,” said she, with an affectation of cheerful content; “then there is no use in our taking a solemn good-by just now—is there? You know how I hate scenes. And we shall part very good friends, shall we not? And when you come to London, we shall make up all our little differences, and have everything on a clear understanding. Is it a bargain? Here comes your cousin Janet—now show her that we are good friends, Keith! And, for goodness’ sake, don’t say that you mean to give up your shooting this year, or she will wonder what I have made of you. Give up your shooting! Why, a woman would as soon give up her right of being incomprehensible and whimsical and capricious—her right of teasing people, as I very much fear I have been teasing you, Keith. But it will be all set right when you come to London.”