“I felt rather faint,” said he, in a low voice—and he did not turn to look at them as he spoke—“the air is close in that room.”
They moved away. He looked around—at the beautiful green of the trees, and the blue sky, and the sunlight on the path—God’s world was getting to be more wholesome again, and the choking sensation of disgust was going from his throat. He seemed, however, rather anxious to get away from this place. There was a gate close by; he proposed they should go out by that. As he walked back with them to South Bank, they chatted about many of the animals—the two girls in especial being much interested in certain pheasants, whose colors of plumage they thought would look very pretty in a dress—but he never referred, either then or at any future time, to his visit to the reptile house. Nor did it occur to Miss White, in this idle conversation, to ask him whether his Highland blood had inherited any other qualities besides that instinctive and deadly horror of serpents.
“Good-night, Macleod!”—“Good-night!”—“Good-night!” The various voices came from the top of a drag. They were addressed to one of two young men who stood on the steps of the Star and Garter—black fingers in the blaze of light. And now the people on the drag had finally ensconced themselves, and the ladies had drawn their ample cloaks more completely around their gay costumes, and the two grooms were ready to set free the heads of the leaders. “Good-night, Macleod!” Lord Beauregard called again; and then, with a little preliminary prancing of the leaders, away swung the big vehicle through the clear darkness of the sweet-scented summer night.
“It was awfully good-natured of Beauregard to bring six of your people down and take them back again,” observed Lieutenant Ogilvie to his companion. “He wouldn’t do it for most folks. He wouldn’t do it for me. But then you have the grand air, Macleod. You seem to be conferring a favor when you get one.”
“The people have been very kind to me,” said Macleod, simply. “I do not know why. I wish I could take them all up to Castle Dare and entertain them as a prince could entertain people—”
“I want to talk to you about that, Macleod,” said his companion. “Shall we go upstairs again? I have left my hat and coat there.”
They went upstairs, and entered a long chamber which had been formed by the throwing of two rooms into one. The one apartment had been used as a sort of withdrawing room; in the other stood the long banquet-table, still covered with bright-colored flowers, and dishes of fruit, and decanters and glasses. Ogilvie sat down, lit a cigar, and poured himself out some claret.
“Macleod,” said he, “I am going to talk to you like a father. I hear you have been going on in a mad way. Surely you know that a batchelor coming up to London for a season, and being asked about by people who are precious glad to get unmarried men to their houses, is not expected to give these swell dinner parties? And then, it seems, you have been bringing down all your people in drags. What do those flowers cost you? I dare say this is Lafitte, now?”