“You got your stripes, didn’t you?” suggested the girl.
“That’s all I did get,” he returned jealously. “I didn’t get any medal, or palms or decorations or crosses of war: I didn’t get anything except an occasional calling down and a few scratches. If I’d had the luck to get into aviation or some of the fancy branches—” David checked himself. “There I go,” he said in self-disgust. “Beefing again.”
It was quite in the old, spoiled-child tone; an echo of indestructible personality, the Weeping Scion of other days; and it went straight to Mary’s swelling, bewildered, groping heart. She began to laugh and a sob tangled itself in the laughter, and she choked and said:
He turned toward her.
“Don’t be dumb, Buddy,” she said, in the words of their unforgotten first talk. “You’ve—you’ve got me—if you still want me.”
She put out a tremulous hand to him, and it slipped over his shoulder and around his neck, and she was drawn close into his arms.
“The Little Red Doctor,” remarked David after an interlude, in the shaken tone of one who has had undeserved miracles thrust upon him, “said that to want something more than anything in the world and not get it was good for my soul, besides serving me right.”
“The Little Red Doctor,” retorted Mary McCartney, with the reckless ingratitude of a woman in love, “is a dear little red idiot. What does he know about Us!”
Immediately upon hearing of my fell design MacLachan, the tailor, paid a visit of protest to my bench.
“Is it true fact that I hear, Dominie?”
“What do you hear, MacLachan?”
“That ye’re to make one of yer silly histories about Barbran?”
“Perfectly true,” said I, passing over the uncomplimentary adjective.
“’Tis a feckless waste of time.”
“’Twill encourage the pair, when a man
of yer age and influence in Our
Square should be dissuadin’ them.”
“Perhaps they need a friendly word.”
MacLachan frowned. “Ye’re determined?”
“Then I’ll give ye a title for yer romance.”
“That’s very kind of you. Give it.”
“The Story of Two Young Fools. By an Old One,” said MacLachan witheringly, and turned to depart.
“Wait a moment.”
I held him with my glittering eye. Also, in case that should be inadequate, with the crook of my cane firmly fixed upon his ankle.
“I’ll waste na time from the tailorin’,” began the Scot disdainfully, but paused as I pointed a loaded finger at his head. “Well?” he said, showing a guilty inclination to flinch.
“Mac, was I an original accomplice in this affair?”
“Will ye purtend to deny—”
“Did I scheme and plot with Cyrus the Gaunt and young Stacey?”