“I loathe conundrums, Hector,” she replied coldly. “I do not care to guess the answer.”
“The answer is: Not quite genuine,” he retorted mildly, and said no more about it.
After that visit, Nan went no more to the hospital. She had met Donald’s mother for the first time in four years and had been greeted as “Miss Brent,” although in an elder day when, as a child, Donald had brought her to The Dreamerie to visit his mother and sisters, and later when she had sung in the local Presbyterian choir, Mrs. McKaye and her daughters had been wont to greet her as “Nan.” The girl did not relish the prospect of facing again that camera-shutter smile and she shrank with the utmost distress from a chance meeting at the hospital with Elizabeth or Jane McKaye. As for The Laird, while she never felt ill at ease in his presence, still she preferred to meet him as infrequently as possible. As a result of this decision, she wrote Andrew Daney, and after explaining to him what she intended doing and why, asked him if he would not send some trustworthy person to her every evening with a report of Donald’s progress.
Accordingly, Dirty Dan O’Leary, hat in hand and greatly embarrassed, presented himself at the Sawdust Pile the following evening under cover of darkness, and handed her a note from Daney. Donald’s condition was continuing to improve. For his services, Mr. O’Leary was duly thanked and given a bouquet from Nan’s old-fashioned garden for presentation to the invalid. Tucked away in the heart of it was a tiny envelop that enclosed a message of love and cheer.
Dirty Dan was thrilled to think that he had been selected as the intermediary in this secret romance. Clasping the bouquet in his grimy left hand, he bowed low and placed his equally grimy right in the region of his umbilicus.
“Me hearrt’s wit’ ye, agra,” he declared. “Sure ‘tis to the divil an’ back agin I’d be the proud man to go, if ’twould be a favor to ye, Miss Brint.”
“I know you would, Dan,” she agreed, tactfully setting the wild rascal at his ease when addressing him by his Christian name. “I know what you did for Mr. Donald that night. I think you’re very, very wonderful. I haven’t had an opportunity heretofore to tell you how grateful I am to you for saving him.”
Here was a mystery! Mr. O’Leary in his Sunday clothes bound for Ireland resembled Dirty Dan O’Leary in the raiment of a lumberjack, his wild hair no longer controlled by judicious applications of pomade and his mustache now—alas—returned to its original state of neglect, as a butterfly resembles a caterpillar. Without pausing to consider this, Dirty Dan, taking the license of a more or less privileged character, queried impudently:
“An’ are ye glad they sint for ye to come back?”
She decided that Mr. O’Leary was inclined to be familiar; so she merely looked at him and her cool glance chilled him.
“Becuz if ye are,” he continued, embarrassed, “ye have me to thank for it. ‘Tis meself that knows a thing or two wit’out bein’ told. Have ye not been surprised that they knew so well where to find ye whin they wanted ye?”