It was with a wholly indescribable surprise and delight that Macleod came upon the life and stir and gayety of London in the sweet June time, when the parks and gardens and squares would of themselves have been a sufficient wonder to him. The change from the sombre shores of lochs Na Keal, and Iua, and Scridain to this world of sunlit foliage—the golden yellow of the laburnum, the cream-white of the chestnuts, the rose-pink of the red hawthorn, and everywhere the keen, translucent green of the young lime-trees—was enough to fill the heart with joy and gladness, though he had been no diligent student of landscape and color. The few days he had to spend by himself—while getting properly dressed to satisfy the demands of his friend—passed quickly enough. He was not at all ashamed of his country-made clothes as he watched the whirl of carriages in Piccadilly, or lounged under the elms at Hyde Park, with his beautiful silver-white and lemon-colored collie attracting the admiration of every passer-by. Nor had he waited for the permission of Lieutenant Ogilvie to make his entrance into, at least, one little corner of society. He was recognized in St. James’s Street one morning by a noble lady whom he had met once or twice at Inverness; and she, having stopped her carriage, was pleased to ask him to lunch with herself and her husband next day. To the great grief of Oscar, who had to be shut up by himself, Macleod went up next day to Brook Street, and there met several people whose names he knew as representatives of old Highland families, but who were very English, as it seemed to him, in their speech and ways. He was rather petted, for he was a handsome lad, and he had high spirits and a proud air. And his hostess was so kind as to mention that the Caledonian Ball was coming off on the 25th, and of course he must come, in the Highland costume; and as she was one of the patronesses, should she give him a voucher? Macleod answered, laughingly, that he would be glad to have it, though he did not know what it was; whereupon she was pleased to say that no wonder he laughed at the notion of a voucher being wanted for any Macleod of Dare.
One morning a good-looking and slim young man knocked at the door of a small house in Bury Street, St. James’s, and asked if Sir Keith Macleod was at home. The man said he was, and the young gentleman entered. He was a most correctly dressed person. His hat, and gloves, and cane, and long-tailed frock-coat were all beautiful; but it was, perhaps, the tightness of his nether garments, or, perhaps, the tightness of his brilliantly-polished boots (which were partially covered by white gaiters), that made him go up the narrow little stairs with some precision of caution. The door was opened and he was announced.
“My dear old boy,” said he, “how do you do?” and Macleod gave him a grip of the hand that nearly burst one of his gloves.
But at this moment an awful accident occurred. From behind the door of the adjacent bedroom, Oscar, the collie, sprang forward with an angry growl; then he seemed to recognize the situation of affairs, when he saw his master holding the stranger’s hand; then he began to wag his tail; then he jumped up with his fore-paws to give a kindly welcome.