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William Black
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 492 pages of information about Macleod of Dare.

Then the strange smile went away from his face.

“I am tiring you, Gerty,” said he.

“Well, you are very much excited, Keith,” said she; “and you won’t listen to what I have to say.  I think your coming to London was a mistake.  You are giving both of us a great deal of pain; and, as far as I can see, to no purpose.  We could much better have arrived at a proper notion of each other’s feelings by writing; and the matter is so serious as to require consideration.  If it is the business of a heroine to plunge two people into lifelong misery, without thinking twice about it, then I am not a heroine.  Her ‘coats o’ green satin!’—­I should like to know what was the end of that story.  Now really, dear Keith, you must bear with me if I say that I have a little more prudence than you, and I must put a check on your headstrong wishes.  Now I know there is no use in our continuing this conversation:  you are too anxious and eager to mind anything I say.  I will write to you.”

“Gerty,” said he, slowly, “I know you are not a selfish or cruel woman; and I do not think you would willingly pain any one.  But if you came to me and said, ’Answer my question, for it is a question of life or death to me,’ I should not answer that I would write a letter to you.”

“You may call me selfish, if you like,” said she, with some show of temper, “but I tell you once for all that I cannot bear the fatigue of interviews such as this, and I think it was very inconsiderate of you to force it on me.  And as for answering a question, the position we are in is not to be explained with a ‘Yes’ or a ’No’—­it is mere romance and folly to speak of people running away and getting married; for I suppose that is what you mean.  I will write to you if you like, and give you every explanation in my power.  But I don’t think we shall arrive at any better understanding by your accusing me of selfishness or cruelty.”

“Gerty!”

“And if it comes to that,” she continued, with a flush of angry daring in her face, “perhaps I could bring a similar charge against you, with some better show of reason.”

“That I was ever selfish or cruel as regards you!” said he, with a vague wonder, as if he had not heard aright.

“Shall I tell you, then,” said she, “as you seem bent on recriminations?  Perhaps you thought I did not understand?—­that I was too frightened to understand?  Oh, I knew very well!”

“I don’t know what you mean!” said he, in absolute bewilderment.

“What!—­not the night we were caught in the storm in crossing to Iona?—­and when I clung to your arm, you shook me off, so that you should be free to strike for yourself if we were thrown into the water?  Oh, I don’t blame you!  It was only natural.  But I think you should be cautious in accusing others of selfishness.”

For a moment he stood looking at her, with something like fear in his eyes—­fear and horror, and a doubt as to whether this thing was possible; and then came the hopeless cry of a breaking heart,—­

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