Macleod, following these two, and finding that his old companion, the pensive clown in cap and bells, was still at his post of observation at the door, remained there also for a minute or two, and noticed that among the first to recognize the two strangers was young Ogilvie, who with laughing surprise in his face, came forward to shake hands with them. Then there was some further speech; the band began to play a gentle and melodious waltz; the middle of the room cleared somewhat; and presently her Grace of Devonshire was whirled away by the young Highland officer, her broad-brimmed hat rather overshadowing him, notwithstanding the pronounced colors of his plaid. Macleod could not help following this couple with his eyes whithersoever they went. In any part of the rapidly moving crowd he could always make out that one figure; and once or twice as they passed him it seemed to him that the brilliant beauty, with her powdered hair, and her flashing bright eyes, and her merry lips, regarded him for an instant; and then he could have imagined that in a by-gone century—
“Sir Keith Macleod, I think?”
The old gentleman with the grave and scholarly cap of black velvet and the long cloak of sober red held out his hand. The folds of the velvet hanging down from the cap rather shadowed his face; but all the same Macleod instantly recognized him—fixing the recognition by means of the gold spectacles.
“Mr. White?” said he.
“I am more disguised than you are,” the old gentleman said, with a smile. “It is a foolish notion of my daughter’s; but she would have me come.”
His daughter! Macleod turned in a bewildered way to that gay crowd under the brilliant lights.
“Was that Miss White?” said he.
“The Duchess of Devonshire. Didn’t you recognize her? I am afraid she will be very tired to-morrow; but she would come.”
He caught sight of her again—that woman, with the dark eyes full of fire, and the dashing air, and the audacious smile! He could have believed this old man to be mad. Or was he only the father of a witch, of an illusive ignis fatuus, of some mocking Ariel darting into a dozen shapes to make fools of the poor simple souls of earth?
“No,” he stammered, “I—I did not recognize her. I thought the lady who came with you had intensely dark eyes.”
“She is said to be very clever in making up,” her father said, coolly and sententiously. “It is a part of her art that is not to be despised. It is quite as important as a gesture or a tone of voice in creating the illusion at which she aims. I do not know whether actresses, as a rule, are careless about it, or only clumsy; but they rarely succeed in making their appearance homogeneous. A trifle too much here, a trifle too little there, and the illusion is spoiled. Then you see a painted woman—not the character she is presenting. Did you observe my daughter’s eyebrows?”