Was it possible, then, that she herself should bring the answer to this message that had been sent her—stepping out of the dream-world in which she had disappeared with her lover? And how would she look as she came along this narrow passage? Like the arch coquette of this land of gaslight and glowing colors? or like the pale, serious, proud girl who was fond of sketching the elm at Prince’s Gate? A strange nervousness possessed him as he thought she might suddenly appear. He did not listen to the talk between Colonel Ross and Mr. Ogilvie. He did not notice that this small party was obviously regarded as being in the way by the attendants who were putting out the lights and shutting the doors of the boxes. Then a man came along.
“Miss White’s compliments, ma’am, and she will be very pleased to meet you at Charing Cross at ten to-morrow.”
“And Miss White is a very brave young lady to attempt anything of the kind,” observed Mr. Ogilvie, confidentially, as they all went downstairs; “for if the yachts should get becalmed of the Nore, or off the Mouse, I wonder how Miss White will get back to London in time?”
“Oh, we shall take care of that,” said Colonel Ross. “Unless there is a good steady breeze we sha’n’t go at all; we shall spend a happy day at Rosherville, or have a look at the pictures at Greenwich. We sha’n’t get Miss White into trouble. Good-bye, Ogilvie. Good-bye, Sir Keith. Remember ten o’clock, Charing Cross.”
They stepped into their carriage and drove off.
“Now,” said Macleod’s companion, “are you tired?”
“Tired? I have done nothing all day.”
“Shall we get into a hansom and drive along to Lady Beauregard’s?”
“Certainly, if you like. I suppose they won’t throw you over again?”
“Oh no,” said Mr. Ogilvie, as he once more adventured his person in a cab. “And I can tell you it is much better—if you look at the thing philosophically, as poor wretches like you and me must—to drive to a crush in a hansom than in your own carriage. You don’t worry about your horses being kept out in the rain; you can come away at any moment; there is no fussing with servants, and rows because your man has got out of the rank—HOLD UP!”
Whether it was the yell or not, the horse recovered from the slight stumble: and no harm befel the two daring travellers.
“These vehicles give one some excitement,” Macleod said—or rather roared, for Piccadilly was full of carriages. “A squall in Loch Scridain is nothing to them.”
“You’ll get used to them in time,” was the complacent answer.
They dismissed the hansom at the corner of Piccadilly, and walked up Park Lane, so as to avoid waiting in the rank of carriages. Macleod accompanied his companion meekly. All this scene around him—the flashing lights of the broughams, the brilliant windows, the stepping across the pavement of a strangely dressed dignitary from some foreign land—seemed but some other part of that dream from which he had not quite shaken himself free. His head was still full of the sorrows and coquetries of that wild-spirited heroine. Whither had she gone by this time—away into some strange valley of that unknown world?