“You take too gloomy a view of it, Macleod,” said Ogilvie. “For one thing, look at the common-sense of the matter. Suppose that she is very ambitious to succeed in her profession, that is all very well; but, mind you, it is a very hard life. And if you put before her the chance of being styled Lady Macleod—well, I may be wrong, but I should say that would count for something. I haven’t known many actresses myself—”
“That is idle talk,” Macleod said; and then he added, proudly, “You do not know this woman as I know her.”
He put aside his pipe; but in truth he had never lit it.
“Come,” said he, with a tired look, “I have bored you enough. You won’t mind, Ogilvie? The whole of the day I was saying to myself that I would keep all this thing to myself, if my heart burst over it; but you see I could not do it, and I have made you the victim, after all. And we will go into the drawing-room now; and we will have a song. And that was a very good song you sang one night in London, Ogilvie—it was about ’Death’s black wine’—and do you think you could sing us that song to-night?”
Ogilvie looked at him.
“I don’t know what you mean by the way you are talking, Macleod,” said he.
“Oh,” said he, with a laugh that did not sound quite natural, “have you forgotten it? Well, then, Janet will sing us another song—that is, ‘Farewell, Manchester.’ And we will go to bed soon to-night, for I have not been having much sleep lately. But it is a good song—it is a song you do not easily forget—that about ‘Death’s black wine.’”
And where was she now—that strange creature who had bewildered and blinded his eyes and so sorely stricken his heart? It was, perhaps, not the least part of his trouble that all his passionate yearning to see her, and all his thinking about her and the scenes in which he had met her, seemed unable to conjure up any satisfactory vision of her. The longing of his heart went out from him to meet—a phantom. She appeared before him in a hundred shapes, now one, now the other; but all possessed with a terrible fascination from which it was in vain for him to try to flee.
Which was she, then—the pale, and sensitive, and thoughtful-eyed girl who listened with such intense interest to the gloomy tales of the Northern seas; who was so fine, and perfect, and delicate; who walked so gracefully and smiled so sweetly; the timid and gentle companion and friend?
Or the wild coquette, with her arch, shy ways, and her serious laughing, and her befooling of the poor stupid lover? He could hear her laugh now; he could see her feed her canary from her own lips. Where was the old mother whom that madcap girl teased and petted and delighted?