“Is that you, Donald?” Nan called.
“Aye, aye, sweetheart. Dad’s here. He wants to know if you regard him as a particularly terrible old man. I think he’s afraid you will refuse to let him look at Laird Hector, Thirteenth.”
“Man, man,” the old man urged, quite shocked at this casual greeting of a returned hero to his wife, “go to her, lad. She’ll not relish favoritism.”
“Oh, this isn’t our first meeting, Dad. I got home yesterday. I have thirty days leave. They sent me home as an instructor in small arms practice and gave me a boost in rank. I was just up town for a beefsteak and I’ve lost the beefsteak battling with you.”
The Laird wiped his eyes and got control of himself. Presently he said: “Keep that blessed dog off me,” and started resolutely for the front gate. Without a moment’s hesitation he folded Nan in his arms and kissed her. “Poor bairn,” he whispered. “I’ve been cruel to you. Forgie me, daughter, if so be you can find it in your heart to be that generous. God knows, lass, I’ll try to be worthy of you.”
“Am I worthy of him?” she whispered, womanlike.
“Far more than his father is,” he admitted humbly. “Damn the world and damn the people in it. You’re a good girl, Nan. You always were a good girl—”
“But suppose she wasn’t—always?” Donald queried gently. “Is that going to make any difference—to you?”
“I don’t care what she was before you married her. I haven’t thought about that for a long time the way I used to think about it. I built The Dreamerie for you and the girl you’d marry and I—I accept her unconditionally, my son, and thank God she has the charity to accept an old Pharisee like me for a father-in-law.”
Donald slipped his arm around Nan’s waist, and started with her toward the door. “Tag along, father,” he suggested, “and Nan will show you a prize grandson.”
At the door, Nan paused. “Do you think, father McKaye,” she queried, “that the remainder of the family will think as you do?”
“I fear not,” he replied sadly. “But then, you haven’t married the family. They’ll accept you or keep out of Port Agnew; at any rate they’ll never bother you, my dear. I think,” he added grimly, “that I may find a way to make them treat you with civility at least.”
“He’s a pretty good old sport after all, isn’t he, Nan?” her husband suggested.
“I’ll tell the world he is,” she answered archly, employing the A.E.F. slang she had already learned from Donald. She linked her arm in old Hector’s and steered him down the hall to the living-room. “Your grandson is in there,” she said, and opening the door she gently propelled him into the room.
Nan was right. His grandson was there, but strange to relate he was seated, as naked as Venus (save for a diaper) on his grandmother’s lap.
Hector McKaye paused and glared at his wife.