Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMacleod Of Dare - Chapter 28. A Disclosure
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Macleod Of Dare - Chapter 28. A Disclosure Post by :best4you Category :Long Stories Author :William Black Date :May 2012 Read :2675

Click below to download : Macleod Of Dare - Chapter 28. A Disclosure (Format : PDF)

Macleod Of Dare - Chapter 28. A Disclosure

CHAPTER XXVIII. A DISCLOSURE

And now he was all eagerness to brave the first dragon in his way--the certain opposition of this proud old lady at Castle Dare. No doubt she would stand aghast at the mere mention of such a thing; perhaps in her sudden indignation she might utter sharp words that would rankle afterwards in the memory. In any case he knew the struggle would be long, and bitter, and harassing; and he had not the skill of speech to persuasively bend a woman's will. There was another way--impossible, alas!--he had thought of. If only he could have taken Gertrude White by the hand--if only he could have led her up the hall, and presented her to his mother, and said, "Mother, this is your daughter; is she not fit to be the daughter of so proud a mother?"--the fight would have been over. How could any one withstand the appeal of those fearless and tender clear eyes?

Impatiently he waited for the end of dinner on the evening of his arrival; impatiently he heard Donald the piper lad, play the brave Salute--the wild, shrill yell overcoming the low thunder of the Atlantic outside, and he paid but little attention to the old and familiar _Cumhadh na Cloinne_. Then Hamish put the whiskey and the claret on the table, and withdrew. They were left alone.

"And now, Keith," said his cousin Janet, with the wise gray eyes grown cheerful and kind, "you will tell us about all the people you saw in London; and was there much gayety going on? And did you see the Queen at all? and did you give any fine dinners?"

"How can I answer you all at once, Janet?" said he, laughing in a somewhat nervous way. "I did not see the Queen, for she was at Windsor; and I did not give any fine dinners, for it is not the time of year in London to give fine dinners; and indeed I spent enough money in that way when I was in London before. But I saw several of the friends who were very kind to me when I was in London in the summer. And do you remember, Janet, my speaking to you about the beautiful young lady--the actress I met at the house of Colonel Ross of Duntorme?"

"Oh yes, I remember very well."

"Because," said he--and his fingers were rather nervous as he took out a package from his breast-pocket--"I have got some photographs of her for the mother and you to see. But it is little of any one that you can understand from photographs. You would have to hear her talk, and see her manner, before you could understand why every one speaks so well of her, and why she is a friend with every one--"

He had handed the packet to his mother, and the old lady had adjusted her eye-glasses, and was turning over the various photographs.

"She is very good-looking," said Lady Macleod. "Oh yes, she is very good-looking. And that is her sister?"

"Yes."

Janet was looking over them too.

"But where did you get all the photographs of her Keith?" she said. "They are from all sorts of places--Scarborough, Newcastle, Brighton--"

"I got them from herself," said he.

"Oh do you know her so well?"

"I know her very well. She was the most intimate friend of the people whose acquaintance I first made in London," he said, simply, and then he turned to his mother; "I wish photographs could speak, mother, for then you might make her acquaintance; and as she is coming to the Highlands next year--"

"We have no theatre in Mull, Keith," Lady Macleod said, with a smile.

"But by that time she will not be an actress at all: did I not tell you that before?" he said, eagerly. "Did I not tell you that? She is going to leave the stage--perhaps sooner or later, but certainly by that time; and when she comes to the Highlands next year with her father, she will be travelling just like any one else. And I hope, mother, you won't let them think that we Highlanders are less hospitable than the people of London."

He made the suggestion in an apparently careless fashion, but there was a painfully anxious look in his eyes. Janet noticed that.

"It would be strange if they were to come to so unfrequented a place as the west of Mull," said Lady Macleod, somewhat coldly, as she put the photographs aside.

"But I have told them all about the place, and what they will see, and they are eagerly looking forward to it; and you surely would not have them put up at the inn at Bunessan, mother?"

"Really, Keith, I think you have been imprudent. It was little matter our receiving a bachelor friend like Norman Ogilvie, but I don't think we are quite in a condition to entertain strangers at Dare."

"No one objected to me as a stranger when I went to London," said he, proudly.

"If they are anywhere in the neighborhood," said Lady Macleod, "I should be pleased to show them all the attention in my power, as you say they were friendly with you in London; but really, Keith, I don't think you can ask me to invite two strangers to Dare--"

"Then it is to the inn at Bunessan they must go?" he asked.

"Now, auntie," said Janet Macleod, with a gentle voice, "you are not going to put poor Keith into a fix; I know you won't do that. I see the whole thing; it is all because Keith was so thorough a Highlander. They were talking about Scotland: and no doubt he said there was nothing in the country to be compared with our islands, and caves, and cliffs. And then they spoke of coming, and of course he threw open the doors of the house to them. He would not have been a Highlander if he had done anything else, auntie; and I know you won't be the one to make him break off an invitation. And if we cannot give them grand entertainments at Dare, we can give them a Highland welcome, anyway."

This appeal to the Highland pride of the mother was not to be withstood.

"Very well, Keith," said she. "We shall do what we can for your friends, though it isn't much in this old place."

"She will not look at it that way," he said, eagerly, "I know that. She will be proud to meet you, mother, and to shake hands with you, and to go about with you, and do just whatever you are doing--"

Lady Macleod started.

"How long do you propose this visit should last?" she said.

"Oh, I don't know," he said, hastily. "But you know, mother, you would not hurry your guests; for I am sure you would be as proud as any one to show them that we had things worth seeing. We should take her to the cathedral at Iona on some moonlight night; and then some day we could go out to the Dubh Artach lighthouse--and you know how the men are delighted to see a new face--"

"You would never think of that, Keith," his cousin said. "Do you think a London young lady would have the courage to be swung on to the rocks and to climb up all those steps outside?"

"She has the courage for that or for anything," said he. "And then, you know, she would be greatly interested in the clouds of puffins and the skarts behind Staffa, and we would take her to the great caves in the cliffs at Gribun; and I have no doubt she would like to go out to one of the uninhabited islands."

Lady Macleod had preserved a stern silence. When she had so far yielded as to promise to ask those two strangers to come to Castle Dare on their round of the Western Islands, she had taken it for granted that their visit would necessarily be of the briefest; but the projects of which Keith Macleod now spoke seemed to suggest something like a summer passed at Dare. And he went on talking in this strain, nervously delighted with the pictures that each promised excursion called up. Miss White would be charmed with this, and delighted with that. Janet would find her so pleasant a companion; the mother would be inclined to pet her at first sight.

"She is already anxious to make your acquaintance mother," said he to the proud old dame who sat there ominously silent. "And she could think of no other message to send you than this--it belonged to her mother."

He opened the little package--of old lace, or something of that kind--and handed it to his mother; and at the same time, his impetuosity carrying him on, he said that perhaps, the mother would write now and propose the visit in the summer.

At this Lady Macleod's surprise overcame her reserve.

"You must be mad, Keith! To write in the middle of winter and send an invitation for the summer! And really the whole thing is so extraordinary--a present coming to me from an absolute stranger--- and that stranger an actress who is quite unknown to any one I know--"

"Mother, mother," he cried, "don't say any more. She has promised to be my wife."

Lady Macleod stared at him as if to see whether he had really gone mad, and rose and pushed back her chair.

"Keith," she said, slowly and with a cold dignity, "when you choose a wife, I hope I will be the first to welcome her, and I shall be proud to see you with a wife worthy of the name that you bear; but in the meantime I do not think that such a subject should be made the occasion of a foolish jest."

And with that she left the apartment, and Keith Macleod turned in a bewildered sort of fashion to his cousin. Janet Macleod had risen too; she was regarding him with anxious and troubled and tender eyes.

"Janet," said he, "it is no jest at all!"

"I know that," said she, in a low voice, and her face was somewhat pale. "I have known that. I knew it before you went away to England this last time."

And suddenly she went over to him and bravely held out her hand; and there were quick tears in the beautiful gray eyes.

"Keith," said she, "there is no one will be more proud to see you happy than I; and I will do what I can for you now, if you will let me, for I see your whole heart is set on it; and how can I doubt that you have chosen a good wife?"

"Oh Janet, if you could only see her and know her!"

She turned aside for a moment--only for a moment. When he next saw her face she was quite gay.

"You must know, Keith," said she, with a smile shining through the tears of the friendly eyes, "that women-folk are very jealous; and all of a sudden you come to auntie and me, and tell us that a stranger has taken away your heart from us and from Dare; and you must expect us to be angry and resentful just a little bit at first."

"I never could expect that from you, Janet," said he. "I knew that was impossible from you."

"As for auntie, then," she said, warmly, "is it not natural that she should be surprised and perhaps offended--"

"But she says she does not believe it--that I am making a joke of it--"

"That is only her way of protesting, you know," said the wise cousin. "And you must expect her to be angry and obdurate, because women have their prejudices, you know, Keith; and this young lady--well, it is a pity she is not known to some one auntie knows."

"She is known to Norman Ogilvie, and to dozens of Norman Ogilvie's friends, and Major Stuart has seen her," said he, quickly; and then he drew back. "But that is nothing. I do not choose to have any one to vouch for her."

"I know that; I understand that, Keith," Janet Macleod said, gently. "It is enough for me that you have chosen her to be your wife; I know you would choose a good woman to be your wife; and it will be enough for your mother when she comes to reflect. But you must be patient."

"Patient I would be, if it concerned myself alone," said he; "but the reflection--the insult of the doubt--"

"Now, now, Keith," said she, "don't let the hot blood of the Macleods get the better of you. You must be patient, and considerate. If you will sit down now quietly, and tell me all about the young lady, I will be your ambassador, if you like; and I think I will be able to persuade auntie."

"I wonder if there ever was any woman as kind as you are, Janet?" said he, looking at her with a sort of wondering admiration.

"You must not say that any more now," she said, with a smile. "You must consider the young lady you have chosen as perfection in all things. And this is a small matter. If auntie is difficult to persuade, and should protest, and so forth, what she says will not hurt me, whereas it might hurt you very sorely. And now you will tell me all about the young lady, for I must have my hands full of arguments when I go to your mother."

And so this Court of Inquiry was formed, with one witness not altogether unprejudiced in giving his evidence, and with a judge ready to become the accomplice of the witness at any point. Somehow Macleod avoided speaking of Gertrude White's appearance. Janet was rather a plain woman, despite those tender Celtic eyes. He spoke rather of her filial duty and her sisterly affection; he minutely described her qualities as a house-mistress; and he was enthusiastic about the heroism she had shown in determining to throw aside the glittering triumphs of her calling to live a simpler and wholesomer life. That passage in the career of Miss Gertrude White somewhat puzzled Janet Macleod. If it were the case that the ambitions and jealousies and simulated emotions of a life devoted to art had a demoralizing and degrading effect on the character, why had not the young lady made the discovery a little earlier? What was the reason of her very sudden conversion? It was no doubt very noble on her part, if she really were convinced that this continual stirring up of sentiment without leading to practical issues had an unwholesome influence on her woman's nature, to voluntarily surrender all the intoxication of success, with its praises and flatteries. But why was the change in her opinion so sudden? According to Macleod's own account, Miss Gertrude White, when he first went up to London, was wholly given over to the ambition of succeeding in her profession. She was then the "white slave." She made no protest against the repeatedly announced theories of her father to the effect that an artist ceased to live for himself or herself, and became merely a medium for the expression of the emotions of others. Perhaps the gentle cousin Janet would have had a clearer view of the whole case if she had known that Miss Gertrude White's awakening doubts as to the wholesomeness of simulated emotions on the human soul were strictly coincident in point of time with her conviction that at any moment she pleased she might call herself Lady Macleod.

With all the art he knew he described the beautiful small courtesies and tender ways of the little household at Rose Bank; and he made it appear that this young lady, brought up amidst the sweet observances of the South, was making an enormous sacrifice in offering to brave, for his sake, the transference to the harder and harsher ways of the North.

"And, you know, Keith, she speaks a good deal for her self," Janet Macleod said, turning over the photographs and looking at them perhaps a little wistfully. "It is a pretty face. It must make many friends for her. If she were here herself now, I don't think auntie would hold out for a moment."

"That is what I know," said he, eagerly. "That is why I am anxious she should come here. And if it were only possible to bring her now, there would be no more trouble; and I think we could get her to leave the stage--at least I would try. But how could we ask her to Dare in the winter time? The sea and the rain would frighten her, and she would never consent to live here. And perhaps she needs time to quite make up her mind. She said she would educate herself all the winter through, and that, when I saw her again, she would be a thorough Highland woman. That shows you how willing she is to make any sacrifice if she thinks it right."

"But if she is convinced," said Janet, doubtfully, "that she ought to leave the stage, why does she not do so at once? You say her father has enough money to support the family?"

"Oh yes, he has," said Macleod; and then he added, with some hesitation, "well, Janet, I did not like to press that. She has already granted so much. But I might ask her."

At this moment Lady Macleod's maid came into the hall and said that her mistress wished to see Miss Macleod.

"Perhaps auntie thinks I am conspiring with you Keith," she said, laughing, when the girl had gone. "Well, you will leave the whole thing in my hands, and I will do what I can. And be patient and reasonable, Keith, even if your mother won't hear of it for a day or two. We women are very prejudiced against each other, you know; and we have quick tempers, and we want a little coaxing and persuasion--that is all."

"You have always been a good friend to me, Janet," he said.

"And I hope it will all turn out for your happiness, Keith," she said, gently, as she left.

But as for Lady Macleod, when Janet reached her room, the haughty old dame was "neither to hold nor to bind." There was nothing she would not have done for this favorite son of hers but this one thing. Give her consent to such a marriage? The ghosts of all the Macleods of Dare would call shame on her!

"Oh, auntie," said the patient Janet, "he has been a good son to you; and you must have known he would marry some day."

"Marry?" said the old lady, and she turned a quick eye on Janet herself. "I was anxious to see him married; and when he was choosing a wife I think he might have looked nearer home, Janet."

"What a wild night it is!" said Janet Macleod quickly, and she went for a moment to the window. "The _Dunara will be coming round the Mull of Cantire just about now. And where is the present, auntie, that the young lady sent you? You must write and thank her for that, at all events; and shall I write the letter for you in the morning?"

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Macleod Of Dare - Chapter 29. First Impressions Macleod Of Dare - Chapter 29. First Impressions

Macleod Of Dare - Chapter 29. First Impressions
CHAPTER XXIX. FIRST IMPRESSIONSLady Macleod remained obdurate; Janet went about the house with a sad look on her face; and Macleod, tired of the formal courtesy that governed the relations between his mother and himself, spent most of his time in snipe and duck shooting about the islands--braving the wild winds and wilder seas in a great, open lugsailed boat, the _Umpire having long been sent to her winter-quarters. But the harsh, rough life had its compensations. Letters came from the South--treasures to be pored over night after night with an increasing wonder and admiration. Miss Gertrude White was a charming
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Macleod Of Dare - Chapter 27. At A Railway Station Macleod Of Dare - Chapter 27. At A Railway Station

Macleod Of Dare - Chapter 27. At A Railway Station
CHAPTER XXVII. AT A RAILWAY STATIONThe few days of grace obtained by the accident that happened to Major Stuart fled too quickly away, and the time came for saying farewell. With a dismal apprehension Macleod looked forward to this moment. He had seen her on the stage bid a pathetic good-by to her lover, and there it was beautiful enough--with her shy coquetries, and her winning ways, and the timid, reluctant confession of her love. But there was nothing at all beautiful about this ordeal through which he must pass. It was harsh and horrible. He trembled even as he thought
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT