“God’s will be done, Andrew. If I asked her to come back and save my lad, I’d have to surrender him to her, and I would be derelict in my duty as a father if I permitted that. Better that he should pass out now than know the horror of a living death through all the years to come. God knows best. It is up to Him. Let there be no talk of this thing again, Andrew.” Abruptly he quitted the room and returned to his vigil by the side of the son who was at once the light and the shadow of his existence.
The nurse came stealthily to the reception-room entrance and looked in inquiringly. Daney shook his head, so she came into the room and pointed at him a singularly commanding index-finger.
“If that old man is permitted to have his stubborn way, Donald McKaye will die,” she declared.
“So will old Hector. He’ll be dead of a broken heart within the year.”
“He’s sacrificing his son to his Scotch pride. Now, his mother is far more bitter against the girl than The Laird is; in her distress she accuses the Brent girl of destroying her son. Nevertheless, Mrs. McKaye’s pride and resentment are not so intense that she will sacrifice her son to them.”
“Then give her this address,” Daney suggested weakly, and handed it over. “I’m caught between the upper and nether millstone, and I don’t care what happens to me. Damn the women, say I. Damn them! Damn them! They’re the ones that do all the talking, set up a cruel moral code, and make a broad-minded, generous man follow it.”
“Thanks for the compliment,” the nurse retorted blithely. “If I had time, I’d discuss the matter with you to your disadvantage, but, fortunately, I have other fish to fry. My job is to keep Donald McKaye alive for the next five or six days until Nan Brent can get here. She’ll come. I know she will. She’d lie down in the street and die for him. I know it. I spent two days with her when her father was dead, and let me tell you something, Mr. Daney: ’She’s too good for them. There! I feel better now.’”
“What a remarkable woman!” Mr. Daney reflected, as he walked back to the mill office. “What a truly remarkable woman!” Then he remembered the complications that were about to ensue, and to the wonderment of several citizens of Port Agnew, he paused in front of the post-office, threw both arms aloft in an agitated flourish, and cried audibly:
“Hell’s bells and panther-tracks! I’d give a ripe peach to be in hell or some other seaport. O Lordy, Lordy, Lordy! And all the calves got loose!”