“You—Donald!” she reproved him. “What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be out.”
“That’s why I came in,” he retorted drily and kissed her. “And I’m here because I couldn’t stand The Dreamerie another instant. I wanted my mother and sisters to call on you and thank you for having been so nice to me during my illness, but the idea wasn’t received, very enthusiastically. So, for the sheer sake of doing the decent thing I’ve called myself. It might please you,” he added, “to know that my father thought I should.”
“He is always tactful and kind,” she agreed.
She led him to her father’s old easy chair in the living room.
“As Dirty Dan O’Leary once remarked in my presence,” he began, “it is a long lane that hasn’t got a saloon at the end of it. I will first light a cigarette, if I may, and make myself comfortable, before putting you on the witness stand and subjecting you to a severe cross-examination. Seat yourself on that little hassock before me and in such a position that I can look squarely into your face and note flush of guilt when you fib to me.”
She obeyed, with some slight inward trepidation, and sat looking up at him demurely.
“Nan,” he began, “did anybody ever suggest to you that the sporty thing for you to do would be to run away and hide where I could never find you?”
She shook her head.
“Did anybody ever suggest to you that the sporty thing for you to do would be to return to Port Agnew from your involuntary exile and inspire me with some enthusiasm for life?”
His keen perception did not fail to interpret the slight flush of embarrassment that suffused Nan’s face. “I object to that question, your honor,” she replied with cleverly simulated gaiety, “on the ground that to do so would necessitate the violation of a confidence.”
“The objection is sustained by the court. Did my father or Andrew Daney, acting for him, ever offer you any sum of money as a bribe for disappearing out of my life?”
“No. Your father offered to be very, very kind to me the morning I was leaving. We met at the railroad station and his offer was made after I informed him that I was leaving Port Agnew forever—and why. So I know he made the offer just because he wanted to be kind—because he is kind.”
“Neither he nor Daney communicated with you in anyway following your departure from Port Agnew?”
“They did not.”
“Before leaving New York or immediately after your return to Port Agnew, did you enter into verbal agreement with any member of my family or their representative to nurse me back to health and then jilt me?”
“I did not. The morning I appeared at the hospital your father, remembering my statement to him the morning I fled from Port Agnew, suspected that I had had a change of heart. He said to me: ’So this is your idea of playing the game, is it?’ I assured him then that I had not returned to Port Agnew with the intention of marrying you, but merely to stiffen your morale, as it were. He seemed quite satisfied with my explanation, which I gave him in absolute good faith.”