It occurred to her for a fleeting moment that they two were driftwood, and that the salt of their tears would color their lives as the years consumed them. But she banished from her mind all thought of everything save the present. With a contented little sigh she seated herself beside him; her hand stole into his and, soothed and sustained by the comforting touch, each of the other, gradually the first terror of their predicament faded; ere long, Donald reminded her of her promise, and she stole to the old square piano and sang for him while, without, Dirty Dan O’Leary crouched in the darkness and thrilled at the rippling melody.
At ten o’clock, when Donald left the Sawdust Pile, he and Nan had arrived at a firm determination to follow separate paths, nor seek to level the barrier that circumstance had raised between them.
“Some day—perhaps,” he whispered, as he held her to his heart in the dark-it the garden gate. “While I live, I shall love you. Good-by, old sweetheart!”
True to his promise, Daniel P. O’Leary declined to die that night.
“Confound your belligerent soul!” the doctor growled at dawn. “I believe you’re too mean to die.”
“We’ll make it a finish fight,” whispered Daniel.
“I’ll go you,” the doctor answered, and sent for digitalis and salt solution.
There was one other soul in Port Agnew who did not sleep that night, either. Andrew Daney’s soul, shaken by what was to him a cosmic cataclysm, caused that good man to rise at five o’clock and go down to the hospital for another look at Dirty Dan. To his anxious queries the doctor shook a dubious head, but the indomitable O’Leary smiled wanly.
“Go on wit’ ye!” he wheezed faintly. “I’ll win be a hair-line decision.”
At seven o’clock, when the telegraph-station opened, Andrew Daney was waiting at the door. He entered and sent a telegram to The Laird.
In the late afternoon, Hector McKaye returned to Port Agnew and at once sought Daney, who related to him exactly what had occurred. The shadow of profound worry settled over The Laird’s face.
“Dan refuses to disclose anything regarding Donald’s movements,” Daney continued, “where he followed the boy or where the fight took place. I only know that Donald was not present; Dan, fortunately, overheard the plot, inculcated, by some means, the idea in those scoundrels’ heads that he was Donald, and took the fight off the boy’s hands. He claimed he fought a winning fight, and he is right. The mulatto died in Darrow this morning. One of the Greeks has a smashed shoulder, and the other a broken arm and four broken ribs. How they ever got home to Darrow is a mystery.”
“The third Greek must have waited near the river-mouth with a boat, Andrew. Have you any idea where Donald spent the evening?”