Michael gave a sort of whoop to Binko, who sprang at him in love and excitement, while he cried:
“Very well! Get along, old saint!”
Then he rang the bell, and to the footman when he came he handed the note he had written to be taken to Mr. Fergusson, and sent orders for Johnson to pack for two nights, and for his motor to be ready to catch the 10:40 express at the junction for London town. Then he seized his cap and, calling Binko, he went off into the garden, and so on to the park and to the golf house, where, securing his professional, he played a vigorous round, and when he got back to the castle again, just before dinner, he was informed that Mr. Fordyce had left in his own motor for Edinburgh.
An opalescence of soft light and peace and beauty was over the park of Arranstoun on this June night of its master’s wedding, and he walked among the giant trees to the South Lodge gate, only a few hundred yards from the postern, which he reached from his sitting-room. All had gone well in London. Mr. Parsons had raised no objection, being indeed greatly flattered at the proposed alliance—for who had not heard of the famous border Castle of Arranstoun and envied its possessor?
They had talked a long time and settled everything.
“Tie up the whole of Miss Delburg’s money entirely upon herself,” Mr. Arranstoun had said—“if it is not already done—then we need not bother about settlements. I understand that she is well provided for.”
“And how about your future children?” Mr. Parsons asked.
Michael stiffened suddenly as he looked out of the office window.
“Oh—er, they will naturally have all I possess,” he returned quickly.
And now as he neared the Lodge gate, and nine o’clock struck, a suppressed excitement was in his veins. For no matter how eventful your life may be, or how accustomed you are to chances and vivid amusements, to be facing a marriage ceremony with a practically unknown young woman has aspects of originality in it calculated to set the pulses in motion.
He had almost forgotten that side of the affair which meant freedom and safety for him from the claws of the Spider—although he had learned upon his return home from London that she had, as Henry Fordyce had predicted that she might, “popped in upon him,” having motored over from Ebbsworth, and had left him a letter of surprised, intense displeasure at his unannounced absence.
When five minutes had passed, and there was as yet no sign of his promised bride crossing the road from the Inn, Mr. Arranstoun began to experience an unpleasant impatience. The quarter chimed—his temper rose—had she been playing a trick upon him and never intended at any time to come? He grew furious—and paced the fine turf behind the Lodge, swearing hotly as was his wont when enraged.
Then he saw a little figure wrapped in a gray dust cloak much too big for it advancing cautiously to the gate in the twilight, and he bounded forward to meet her and to open the narrow side-entrance before the Lodge-keeper, Old Bessie, could have time to see who was there.