Eric promised himself that when she was his wife her wonderful gift for music should be cultivated to the utmost. Her powers of expression seemed to deepen and develop every day, growing as her soul grew, taking on new colour and richness from her ripening heart.
To Eric, the days were all pages in an inspired idyl. He had never dreamed that love could be so mighty or the world so beautiful. He wondered if the universe were big enough to hold his joy or eternity long enough to live it out. His whole existence was, for the time being, bounded by that orchard where he wooed his sweetheart. All other ambitions and plans and hopes were set aside in the pursuit of this one aim, the attainment of which would enhance all others a thousand-fold, the loss of which would rob all others of their reason for existence. His own world seemed very far away and the things of that world forgotten.
His father, on hearing that he had taken the Lindsay school for a year, had written him a testy, amazed letter, asking him if he were demented.
“Or is there a girl in the case?” he wrote. “There must be, to tie you down to a place like Lindsay for a year. Take care, master Eric; you’ve been too sensible all your life. A man is bound to make a fool of himself at least once, and when you didn’t get through with that in your teens it may be attacking you now.”
David also wrote, expostulating more gravely; but he did not express the suspicions Eric knew he must entertain.
“Good old David! He is quaking with fear that I am up to something he can’t approve of, but he won’t say a word by way of attempting to force my confidence.”
It could not long remain a secret in Lindsay that “the Master” was going to the Gordon place on courting thoughts intent. Mrs. Williamson kept her own and Eric’s counsel; the Gordons said nothing; but the secret leaked out and great was the surprise and gossip and wonder. One or two incautious people ventured to express their opinion of the Master’s wisdom to the Master himself; but they never repeated the experiment. Curiosity was rife. A hundred stories were circulated about Kilmeny, all greatly exaggerated in the circulation. Wise heads were shaken and the majority opined that it was a great pity. The Master was a likely young fellow; he could have his pick of almost anybody, you might think; it was too bad that he should go and take up with that queer, dumb niece of the Gordons who had been brought up in such a heathenish way. But then you never could guess what way a man’s fancy would jump when he set out to pick him a wife. They guessed Neil Gordon didn’t like it much. He seemed to have got dreadful moody and sulky of late and wouldn’t sing in the choir any more. Thus the buzz of comment and gossip ran.