“Only—have one—Scotty. Sorry—for you—but do you—happen to know—last line—fairy-tale? Tell you. ’And so—they—were married—and lived—happy—ever—after.’”
Fell a long silence. Then, from The Laird:
“And you’re going to wait for—her, my son?”
“Certainly. Foolish die—now. I’ll try—to wait. Try hard.”
He was still trying when Nan Brent stepped off the special train at Port Agnew on Friday morning. She was heavily veiled, and because of the distinctly metropolitan cut of her garments, none recognized her. With her child trotting at her side, she walked swiftly to the company hospital, and the nurse, who had been watching for her, met her at the door. The girl raised a white, haggard face, and her sad blue eyes asked the question. The nurse nodded, led her down the hall, pointed to the door of Donald’s room, and then picked up Nan’s child and carried him off to the hospital kitchen for a cookie.
The outcast of Port Agnew entered. Hector McKaye sat by the bed, gazing upon his son, who lay with closed eyes, so still and white and emaciated that a sudden fear rose in Nan’s mind. Had she arrived too late?
The Laird turned and gazed at her an instant with dull eyes, then sprang to meet her.
“Well, lass,” he demanded, and there was a belligerent and resentful note in his voice, “is this playing the game?” She nodded, her blurred eyes fixed upon his son, and old Hector’s face softened with a tenderness almost paternal. “Then,” he whispered, “you didn’t mean that—about the last line of the fairy-tale?”
Her head moved in negation, but she did not look at him. She had eyes only for the wreck of the man she loved.
“I heard you needed me—to save him, Mr. McKaye. So I’m here—to save him, if I can—for you—nothing more.”
He bowed to her, deeply, humbly, as if she were in truth the grandest lady in the land, then left the room hurriedly. Nan approached the bed and leaned over Donald, gazing at him for several minutes, for he was not as yet aware of her presence. Suddenly she commenced to sing softly the song he loved: “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny,” and her hand stole into his. The little grin that crept over his bearded face was ghastly; after the first bar, she bent and laid her cool cheek against his.
“Well, old shipmate,” she murmured in his ear, “I’m back.”
“‘God’s in—his heaven,’” he whispered. “’All’s right—with the—world.’”
From the company hospital, The Laird went straight to his general manager’s office. Entering, he strode to Daney’s desk and transfixed that harassed individual with an accusing finger.
“Andrew, this is your work, is it not?”
Mr. Daney’s heart skipped a beat, but he remembered this was Friday morning. So he decided not to be foolish and spar for time by asking The Laird what work he referred to. Also, having read somewhere that, in battle, the offensive frequently wins—the defensive never—he glared defiantly at The Laird and growled.