It was an early dinner they had had, after their stroll in Richmond Park, and it was a comparatively early train that Macleod and his friend now drove down to catch, after he had paid his bill. When they reached Waterloo Station it was not yet eleven o’clock; when he, having bade good-bye to Ogilvie, got to his rooms in Bary Street, it was but a few minutes after. He was joyfully welcomed by his faithful friend Oscar.
“You poor dog,” said he, “here have we been enjoying ourselves all the day, and you have been in prison. Come, shall we go for a run?”
Oscar jumped up on him with a whine of delight; he knew what that taking up of the hat again meant. And then there was a silent stealing downstairs, and a slight, pardonable bark of joy in the hall, and a wild dash into the freedom of the narrow street when the door was opened. Then Oscar moderated his transports, and kept pretty close to his master as together they began to wander through the desert wilds of London.
Piccadilly?—Oscar had grown as expert in avoiding the rattling broughams and hansoms as the veriest mongrel that ever led a vagrant life in London streets. Berekely Square?—here there was comparative quiet, with the gas lamps shining up on the thick foliage of the maples. In Grosvenor Square he had a bit of a scamper; but there was no rabbit to hunt. In Oxford Street his master took him into a public-house and gave him a biscuit and a drink of water; after that his spirits rose a bit, and he began to range ahead in Baker Street. But did Oscar know any more than his master why they had taken this direction?
Still farther north; and now there were a good many trees about; and the moon, high in the heavens, touched the trembling foliage, and shone white on the front of the houses. Oscar was a friendly companion; but he could not be expected to notice that his master glanced somewhat nervously along South Bank when he had reached the entrance to that thoroughfare. Apparently the place was quite deserted; there was nothing visible but the walls, trees, and houses, one side in black shadow, the other shining cold and pale in the moonlight. After a moment’s hesitation Macleod resumed his walk, though he seemed to tread more softly.
And now, in the perfect silence, he neared a certain house, though but little of it was visible over the wall and through the trees. Did he expect to see a light in one of those upper windows, which the drooping acacias did not altogether conceal. He walked quickly by, with his head averted. Oscar had got a good way in front, not doubting that his master was following him.