“Ah! dear. That reply is, after all, but natural. You, of course, won’t confess the truth,” her mother laughed.
“I do, mother. I’m heartily glad the fellow has gone. I hate his supercilious manner, his superior tone, and his unctuous bearing. He’s simply odious! That’s my opinion.”
Her mother looked at her severely across the table.
“Please remember, Dorise, that George is my friend.”
“I never forget that,” said the girl meaningly, as she rose and left the table.
Half an hour later, when she entered her bedroom, she found Duncan, her maid, awaiting her.
“Oh! I’ve been waiting to see you this half hour, miss,” she said. “I couldn’t get you alone. Just before eight o’clock, as I was about to enter the park by the side gate near Bervie Farm, a gentleman approached me and asked if my name was Duncan. I told him it was, and then he gave me this to give to you in secret. He also gave me a pound note, miss, to say nothing about it.” And the prim lady’s maid handed her young mistress a small white envelope upon which her name was written.
Opening it, she found a plain visiting card which bore the words in a man’s handwriting:
“Would it be possible for you to meet me to-night at ten at the spot where I have given this to your maid? Urgent.—SILVERADO.”
Dorise held her breath. It was a message from the mysterious white cavalier who had sought her out at the bal blanc at Nice, and told her of Hugh’s peril!
Duncan was naturally curious owing to the effect the card had had upon her mistress, but she was too well trained to make any comment. Instead, she busied herself at the wardrobe, and a few moments afterwards left the room.
Dorise stood before the long cheval glass, the card still in her hand.
What did it mean? Why was the mysterious white cavalier in Scotland? At least she would now be able to see his face. It was past nine, and the moon was already shining. She had still more than half an hour before she went forth to meet the man of mystery.
She descended to the drawing-room, where her mother was reading, and after playing over a couple of songs as a camouflage, she pretended to be tired and announced her intention of retiring.
“We have to go into Edinburgh to-morrow morning,” her mother remarked. “So we should start pretty early. I’ve ordered the car for nine o’clock.”
“All right, mother. Good-night,” said the girl as she closed the door.
Then hastening to her room she threw off her dinner gown, and putting on a coat and skirt and the boots which she had worn when fishing that morning, she went out by a door which led from the great old library, with its thousands of brown-backed volumes, on to the broad terrace which overlooked the glen, now a veritable fairyland beneath the light of the moon.
Outside the silence was only broken by the ripple of the burn over its pebbles deep below, and the cry of the night-bird upon the steep rock whereon the historic old castle was built. By a path known to her she descended swiftly, and away into the park by yet another path, used almost exclusively by the servants and the postman, down to a gate which led out into the high road to Perth by one of the farms on the estate, the one known as the Bervie.