But then—but then—the beauty of her! In dreams he heard her low, sweet laugh again; he saw the beautiful brown hair; he surrendered to the irresistible witchery of the clear and lovely eyes. What would not a man give for one last, wild kiss of the laughing and half-parted lips? His life? And if that life happened to be a mere broken and useless thing—a hateful thing—would he not gladly and proudly fling it away? One long, lingering, despairing kiss, and then a deep draught of Death’s black wine!
One day he was riding down to the fishing-station, when he met John MacIntyre, the postman, who handed him a letter, and passed on. Macleod opened this letter with some trepidation, for it was from London; but it was in Norman Ogilvie’s handwriting.
“DEAR MACLEOD,—I thought you might like to hear the latest news. I cut the enclosed from a sort of half-sporting, half-theatrical paper our fellows get; no doubt the paragraph is true enough. And I wish it was well over and done with, and she married out of hand; for I know until that is so you will be torturing yourself with all sorts of projects and fancies. Good-by old fellow. I suppose when you offered me the gun, you thought your life had collapsed altogether, and that you would have no further use for anything. But no doubt, after the first shock, you have thought better of that. How are the birds? I hear rather bad accounts from Ross, but then he is always complaining about something.
“Yours sincerely, NORMAN OGILVIE.”
And then he unfolded the newspaper cutting which Ogilvie had enclosed. The paragraph of gossip announced that the Piccadilly Theatre would shortly be closed for repairs; but that the projected provincial tour of the company had been abandoned. On the re-opening of the theatre, a play, which was now in preparation, written by Mr. Gregory Lemuel, would be produced. “It is understood,” continued the newsman, “that Miss Gertrude White, the young and gifted actress who has been the chief attraction at the Piccadilly Theatre for two years back, is shortly to be married to Mr. L. Lemuel, the well-known artist; but the public have no reason to fear the withdrawal from the stage of so popular a favorite, for she has consented to take the chief role in the new play, which is said to be of a tragic nature.”
Macleod put the letter and its enclosure into his pocket, and rode on. The hand that held the bridle shook somewhat; that was all.
He met Hamish.
“Oh, Hamish!” he cried, quite gayly. “Hamish, will you go to the wedding?”
“What wedding, sir?” said the old man; but well he knew. If there was any one blind to what had been going on, that was not Hamish; and again and again he had in his heart cursed the English traitress who had destroyed his master’s peace.
“Why, do you not remember the English lady that was here not so long ago? And she is going to be married. And would you like to go to the wedding, Hamish!”