“I’ve told Sam Carew to come for him,” he informed Nan, when they had returned to the living-room. “I shall attend to all of the funeral arrangements. Funeral the day after to-morrow, say in the morning. Are there any relatives to notify?”
“None that would be interested, Donald.”
“Do you wish a religious service?”
“Certainly not by the Reverend Tingley.”
“Then I’ll get somebody else. Anything else? Money, clothes?”
She glanced at him with all the sweetness and tenderness of her great love lambent in her wistful sea-blue eyes.
“What a poor thing is pride in the face of circumstances,” she replied drearily. “I haven’t sufficient strength of character to send you away. I ought to, for your own sake, but since you’re the only one that cares, I suppose you’ll have to pay the price. You might lend me a hundred dollars, dear. Perhaps some-day I’ll repay it.”
He laid the money in her hand and retained the hand in his; thus they sat gazing into the blue flames of the driftwood fire—she hopelessly, he with masculine helplessness. Neither spoke, for each was busy with personal problems.
The arrival of Mr. Carew interrupted their sad thoughts. When he had departed with the harvest of his grim profession, the thought that had been uppermost in Donald’s mind found expression.
“It’s going to be mighty hard on you living here alone.”
“It’s going to be hard on me wherever I live—alone,” she replied resignedly.
“Wish I could get some woman to come and live with you until we can adjust your affairs, Nan. Tingley’s wife’s a good sort. Perhaps—”
She shook her head.
“I prefer my own company—when I cannot have yours.”
A wave of bitterness, of humiliation swept over him in the knowledge that he could not ask one of his own sisters to help her. Truly he dwelt in an unlovely world.
He glanced at Nan again, and suddenly there came over him a great yearning to share her lot, even at the price of sharing her shame. He was not ashamed of her, and she knew it; yet both were fearful of revealing that fact to their fellow mortals. The conviction stole over Donald McKaye that he was not being true to himself, that he was not a man of honor in the fullest sense or a gentleman in the broadest meaning of the word. And that, to the heir of a principality, was a dangerous thought.
He then took tender leave of the girl and walked all the way home. His father had not retired when he reached The Dreamerie, and the sight of that stern yet kindly and wholly understandable person moved him to sit down beside The Laird on the divan and take the old man’s hand in his childishly.
“Dad, I’m in hell’s own hole!” he blurted. “I’m so unhappy!”
“Yes, son; I know you are. And it breaks me all up to think that, for the first time in my life, I can’t help you. All the money in the world will not buy the medicine that’ll cure you.”