‘But no steamer could hold that gigantic denizen of the forests.’
’You leave that to Jones Harvey. Jones is ‘cute, some,’ he said, reminiscent of the adored one, and he fell into a lover’s reverie.
He was aroused by Merton’s departure: he finished the Apollinaris water, took a bath, and went to bed.
The Earl of Bude had meant to lay his heart, coronet, and other possessions, real and personal, before the tiny feet of the fair American at Goodwood. But when he learned from Merton the involvements of this heiress and paragon, that her hand depended on the choice of the people, that the choice of the people was to settle on the adventurer who brought to New York the rarest of nature’s varieties, the earl honourably held his peace. Yet he and the object of his love were constantly meeting, on the yachts and in the country houses of their friends, the aristocracy, and, finally, at shooting lodges in the Highlands. Their position, as the Latin Delectus says concerning the passion of love in general, was ’a strange thing, and full of anxious fears.’ Bude could not declare himself, and Miss McCabe, not knowing that he knew her situation, was constantly wondering why he did not speak. Between fear of letting her secret show itself in a glance or a blush and hope of listening to the words which she desired to hear, even though she could not answer them as her heart prompted, she was unhappy. Bude could not resist the temptation to be with her—indeed he argued to himself that, as her suitor and an adventurer about to risk himself in her cause, he had a right to be near her. Meanwhile Merton was the confidant of both of the perplexed lovers; at least Miss McCabe (who, of course, told him nothing about Bude) kept him apprised as to the conduct of her trustees.
They had acted with honourable caution and circumspection. Their advertisements guardedly appealed to men of daring and of scientific distinction under the age of thirty-five. A professorship might have been in view for all that the world could see, if the world read the advertisements. Perhaps it was something connected with the manufacture of original explosives, for daring is not usually required in the learned. The testimonials and printed works of applicants were jealously scrutinised. At personal interviews with competitors similar caution was observed. During three weeks in August the papers announced that Lord Bude was visiting the States; arrangements about a yachting match in the future were his pretence. He returned, he came to Scotland, and it was in a woodland path beside the Lochy that his resolution failed, and that he spoke to Miss McCabe. They were walking home together from the river in the melancholy and beautiful close of a Highland day in September. Behind them the gillies, at a respectful distance, were carrying the rods and the fish. The wet woods were fragrant, the voice of the stream was deepening, strange lights came and went on moor and hills and the distant loch. It was then that Bude opened his heart. He first candidly explained that his heart, he had supposed, was dead—buried on a distant and a deadly shore.