« PreviousContinue »
his son. I guessed that my words had let him see his own behaviour to the boy in a new light. He saw himself, perhaps, as the bully that he really had been.
"This evening, if it is agreeable to you," I replied, equally glad to change the subject, as I had so easily gained my point. "This morning I must spend with Duncan, and in the afternoon I have an appointment with Dr Forbes."
“We'll have a long sitting te-night then," he agreed. "I've been reading up some new openings since I played you last. Maybe I'll turn the tables on you yet."
After I left him I wondered at my easy victory. I began
to think that I had some power over him, as Marigold had suggested. If my ohess was responsible it would be easy to hold him in leash.
Aboard ship I had not always played my best game. Sometimes I played when I was not in the mood, and once or twice I had even allowed Laird Tanish to win in order to please him. I felt sure that if I really set my mind to it I could mate him every time. At Harvard I had been reckoned the most promising player for years back, and had never lost a game in a tournament.
If my prestige with my employer depended upon chess, I felt that I was safe.
In the afternoon I walked to Kilbrennan to keep my appointment with Dr Forbes. I took the short-out over the hills, and found my way quite easily by daylight.
As I walked down the farm road above the station, the whole village was laid out before me. It was in a hollow, about two miles from the sea, and comparatively sheltered for the countryside in which it was situated. It was rather a dull-looking village, as they mostly are in Scotland, where the houses are either of cold grey stone or equally unattractive rough-cast.
I wondered as I walked which was the home of Dr Forbes.
"It's easy seen ye're a
stranger in Kilbrennan, or ye wudna be speirin' for the Doactor's hoose," said the groeer, whom I accosted in his doorway. "Gang straucht bye a' the shoaps, an' up the brae beyont. Ye'll see twathree hooses wi' bits o' gairden forenenst them, an' the yin wi' the ivy a' ower it'll be the Doactor's."
Having thanked my informant, I followed his directions, and had no difficulty in picking out the ivy-clad villa from the others near-by. The front garden was gay with tulips and golden wallflower. Hyacinths bloomed in the windows, which were ourtained with delicately-bordered easement cloth instead of the stiff lace ourtains that shrouded all
the other windows in the box at the village village cross. Naturally I christened you 'Doctor Quack.' Now you have gone and spoilt my picture. I can't call you
There was a cheerful bright air about the house that reminded me of what I had seen of England. The smiling maid informed me that the Dootor had been called out unexpectedly, but that Miss Betty awaited me in the "paurler."
At the same moment Miss Betty herself appeared upon the scene-and I was immediately at home.
"Come along, Doctor Seaton. The dad is out at the moment, and I am commissioned to distract your mind until he comes back. Take a comfy chair. What will you smoke? There are some cigarettes here, but if you prefer a pipe, light
I found myself in a cosy sitting room, scented with spring flowers. The furniture was modern and artistic, the walls a soft plain green, and bare but for several landscapes by rising painters of the Glasgow school. A piano stood across one corner, the keyboard open, and a number of sheets of music lay upon the floor. All the chairs were arm-chairs, and all of them looked as comfortable as it is possible for chairs to be. Meanwhile my hostess continued to talk.
"You have been a great disappointment to me, Doctor Seaton. When we first heard that an American doctor was coming, I pictured an itinerant party in a very shiny silk hat, selling remedies for rheumatios from an orange
names after after the way you backed up the dad last night. It was awfully decent of you. By the way, how is our friend the Monster of the Glen today? None the worse for his orgie of hate, I hope?"
"Do you mean my employer, Mr Tanish?" I asked with an attempt at distance, but I am afraid that I smiled back at Betty's merry face. One could not help it, for it was a pleasure to be in her presence. I had not seen her properly in the shadows of the doorway on the previous evening, and her beauty came as a shock to me.
Great masses of chestnut red hair crowned a face that seemed to me the loveliest I had ever seen. It was so full of life-of humour-and of understanding. Her eyes
were large and brown - red, her lips soft and full, and her complexion of that degree of perfection that is only found in conjunction with hair like Betty's-in other words, it was unique.
"Of course I mean the Laird," she replied, quite unabashed by my attempt to stand by my employer. "I know that you can't very well bite the hand that feeds you, but he doesn't feed me, and I simply refuse to be silenced. You needn't approve you needn't even listen unless you like-but you know as well as I do that he is a beast. You
heard his remarks to the dad last night, and you had enough insight to diagnose the dad's character for yourself. yourself. I could see that by the way you spoke. That is why I am entertaining you instead of letting you study the yearbefore-last's 'Graphic' in the consulting-room."
"It is awfully good of you, Miss Forbes," I said truthfully. "Though you make too much of what I said last night. I heard your father speak up for the dignity of our profession, and I felt that I must support him."
you, Miss Forbes," I replied. "It seems ages since I have met any one who is really cheerful."
"Yes, they are a pretty average gloomy lot up at Hopeton. Even poor Marigold has joined the mourners. I have tried to liven her up, but the Monster objects to me, and makes things as unpleasant as he can when I call. I expect, also, that he takes it out of Marigold after I have gone. Why they should all be se dismal I can't quite make out. make out. Of course every one knows about Roy bolting with his father's intended bride, but that hardly seems enough to give them all the miserables."
"Do you know Roy at all? What sort of a man is he?"
"Know him, bless you! He was the first sweetheart I ever had. We plighted our troth in an apple-tree at Hopeton about fifteen years ago. admit that I pushed him off the branch soon afterwards, and that he out his head rather badly by coming down on a rake, but we made it up again later, and for years, off and on-with a goodly number of offs-we were lovers."
"You'll like the dad. He's a dear. You mustn't think that he is afraid of the Monster of the Glen because he didn't answer him on his own lines. It's simply that the dad is quite above all that vulgar abuse. It runs off him like water off a duck. He is a philosopher, and altogether much too fine a man to be shut up in a one-eyed hole like Kilbrennan. He would probably be a Harley Street specialist by this time if he hadn't been afflicted with me. You see, my mother died when I was born, and the dad always insisted on looking after me himself. That is really why he has never got on. I was a miserable little wretch, always having colds and things, and "I suppose I ought. I'm in dad said I must live in country the swim really. As for what air. Therefore he stuck on Roy is like, he is quite a nice here instead of taking chances boy-hot-headed and quickthat were offered to him, but I am sure he would never But wouldn't you like to talk do anything mean. After all, a bit now? I mustn't be he had as much right to marry greedy." Duncan's governess 88 bis "I'd much rather listen to father had-although why
"Then you ought to be one of the gloomy ones too," I suggested smilingly.
either of them wanted her consultation forenenst us, an' I have never been able to it's nae place for a young discover. She is one of those lassie." pale tragic-looking girls, and she never looked one straight in the face. I am sorry for poor Roy, for I am sure he is in for lots of trouble. I have done my share now. I want to hear something about you. Why are you not more Amurrican? You haven't reckoned or guessed or caloulated or said 'Gee'-not once since you came in!"
I told her something of my past life, and we were still chatting pleasantly when the Doctor came in.
"You ken what a doctor's life is, Dr Seaton," he said as he shook my hand heartily. "He canna call his time his ain, so there's nae need for me tae apologise. Has Betty managed tae amuse you wi' her havers?"
"Havers yourself, dad," his daughter replied as she took his coat and hat and placed him a chair by the fire. "You know perfectly well you like to hear me blethering, and you expect everybody else to like it too. They are not all doting fathers, you know."
"Hoot awa', lassie! You an' your dotin' faithers!" said the old Doctor with a merry smile, as he leant forward to rub his hands in front of the blaze. "Fine ye ken wha's maister in this hoose. Ye daurna stir a finger or gi'e a wag o' your tongue withoot leave frae the tyrant. Noo, rin awa' an' see tae maskin' the tea. Dr Seaton and me ha'e a maist important medical
Betty. "I've half a mind to
As she concluded her burlesque Betty curtsied derisively and took her departure.
"There's mony a true word spoken in jest," remarked her father when she had gone. "There's naething wrang wi' Duncan but juist want o' naitural affection in his faither. Keep him oot o' the Laird's sicht an' you'll sune ha'e him weel, an' as Betty says, gi'e him plenty o' guid Norwegian cod-liver oil.
It's a graun'
thing for bairns. 'Deed an' there's no' the like o' it in
As he suddenly realised that he was giving me the original of his daughter's imitation he stopped short, and we both laughed heartily.
"Weel, weel, we've a' got oor crotchets, an' I'll no' deny that cod liver oil is yin o' mine."
The doctor was such 8 hearty, jolly old soul that if he had advocated the advantages of strychnine as a bottlefood for infants I should not
have had the heart to dis- hearty invitation from Doctor to drop in and see them whenever I could. Betty,
own peculiar - but not less
By-and-by Betty returned and bore us off to the dining- too, invited me back in her room for tea. None of your afternoon teas with wafer- genuine-fashion. sandwiches and toy tea-cakes, "I forgive you for deceiving but a genuine square meal! I me," she said, as I shook hands saw for the first time a whole with her. "If you had turned new series of varieties of out the real genuine Amurrican scones- soda scones, whole- doctor, I should have missed meal scones, potato scones, a new person to talk to. Do pancakes, oatcakes, and come and be talked to when Heaven knows what else—all you can. I hope you don't home-baked and all delicious. mean to let the Monster of Betty insisted upon me trying the Glen keep you from knowthem all, and we made for our- ing us. He hasn't bought selves a great deal of simple your soul, has he? If not, merriment out of the subject. I don't see what's to prevent If I have described my visit you dropping in here at times to the Forbes's at some length, and be sure and come to tea. there is this excuse for it-if there were no other-that it came as such a pleasant relief from the gloom and worry of Hopeton that it impressed me much more strongly than it might have done in other circumstances.
We can produce dozens of different kinds of scones yet." I wandered back over the hillside in a happier frame of mind than I had been in since I crossed the border. After all, then, everything in Scotland was not harsh and gloomy, as my first experience tended
I left soon after tea, but not before I had received a most to show.
(To be continued.)
VOL. CCVII.-NO. MCCLI.