“Well, how do you feel this morning, son?” the old man queried kindly.
“Considerably better than I did before our talk last night, sir,” Donald answered.
“I haven’t, slept,” old Hector continued calmly, “although I expect to have a little nap during the day. Just about daylight a comforting thought stole over me.”
“I’m glad to hear it, dad.”
“I’ve decided to repose faith in Nan, having none at all in you. If she truly loves you, she’ll die before she’ll hurt you.”
“Perhaps it may be a comfort to you to know that she has so expressed herself to me.”
“Bless her poor heart for that! However, she told me practically the same thing.”
He scooped his eggs into the egg-cup and salted and peppered them before he spoke again. Then:
“We’ll not discuss this matter further. All I ask is that you’ll confine your visits to the Sawdust Pile to the dark of the moon; I trust to your natural desire to promote my peace of mind to see to it that no word of your—affair reaches your mother and sisters. They’ll not handle you with the tact you’ve had from me.”
“I can well believe that, sir. Thank you. I shall exercise the utmost deference to your desires consistent with an unfaltering adherence to my own code.”
There it was again—more respectful defiance! Had he not, during the long, distressing hours of the night, wisely decided to leave his son’s case in the hands of God and Nan Brent, The Laird would have flown into a passion at that. He compromised by saying nothing, and the meal was finished in silence.
After breakfast, Donald went down to the hospital to visit Dirty Dan. O’Leary was still alive, but very close to death; he had lost so much blood that he was in a state of coma.
“He’s only alive because he’s a fighter, Mr. McKaye,” the doctor informed Donald. “If I can induce some good healthy man to consent to a transfusion of blood, I think it would buck Dan up considerably.”
“I’m your man,” Donald informed him. It had occurred to him that Dirty Dan had given his blood for the House of McKaye; therefore, the least he could do was to make a partial payment on the debt.
The doctor, knowing nothing of the reason for Dirty Dan’s predicament, was properly amazed.
“You—the boss—desire to do this?” he replied.
“We can get one of this wild rascal’s comrades—”
“That wild rascal is my comrade, doctor. I’m more or less fond of Dan.” He had removed his coat and was already rolling up his sleeve. “I’m half Gael,” he continued smilingly, “and, you know, we must not adulterate Dirty Dan’s blood any more than is absolutely necessary. Consider the complications that might ensue if you gave Dan an infusion of blood from a healthy Italian. The very first fight he engaged in after leaving this hospital, he’d use a knife instead of nature’s weapons. Get busy!”