“I think that will do very well,” said Macleod.
A cool evening in June, the club windows open, a clear twilight shining over Pall Mall, and a tete-a-tete dinner at a small, clean, bright table—these are not the conditions in which a young man should show impatience. And yet the cunning dishes which Mr. Ogilvie, who had a certain pride in his club, though it was only one of the junior institutions, had placed before his friend, met with but scanty curiosity: Macleod would rather have handed questions of cookery over to his cousin Janet. Nor did he pay much heed to his companion’s sage advice as to the sort of club he should have himself proposed at, with a view to getting elected in a dozen or fifteen years. A young man is apt to let his life at forty shift for itself.
“You seem very anxious to see Miss White again,” said Mr. Ogilvie, with a slight smile.
“I wish to make all the friends I can while I am in London,” said Macleod. “What shall I do in this howling wilderness when you go back to Aldershot?”
“I don’t think Miss Gertrude White will be of much use to you. Colonel Ross may be. Or Lord Beauregard. But you cannot expect young ladies to take you about.”
“No?” said Macleod, gravely; “that is a great pity.”
Mr. Ogilvie, who, with all his knowledge of the world, and of wines and cookery, and women, and what not, had sometimes an uneasy consciousness that his companion was laughing at him, here proposed that they should have a cigar before walking up to the Piccadilly Theatre; but as it was now ten minutes to eight, Macleod resolutely refused. He begged to be considered a country person, anxious to see the piece from the beginning. And so they put on their light top-coats over their evening dress and walked up to the theatre.
A distant sound of music, an odor of escaped gas, a perilous descent of a corkscrew staircase, a drawing aside of heavy curtains, and then a blaze of yellow light shining within this circular building, on its red satin and gilt plaster, and on the spacious picture of a blue Italian lake, with peacocks on the wide stone terraces. The noise at first was bewildering. The leader of the orchestra was sawing away at his violin as savagely as if he were calling on his company to rush up and seize a battery of guns. What was the melody that was being banged about by the trombones, and blared aloud by the shrill cornets, and sawed across by the infuriated violins? “When the heart of a man is oppressed with care.” The cure was never insisted on with such an angry vehemence.