“Good-bye, young man; and good luck.”
“You are offering your hand to me?”
“Without reservations.” The doctor gave Spurlock’s hand a friendly pressure. “Buck up! While there’s life there’s hope. Play fair with her. You don’t know what you have got; I do. Let her have her own way in all things, for she will always be just.”
Spurlock turned aside his head as he replied: “Words are sometimes useless things. I might utter a million, and still I doubt if I could make you understand.”
“Probably not. The thing is done. The main idea now is of the future. You will have lots of time on your hands. Get out your pad and pencil. Go to it. Ruth will be a gold mine for a man of your peculiar bent.”
“You read those yarns?” Spurlock’s head came about, and there was eagerness in his eyes. “Rot, weren’t they?”
“No. You have the gift of words, but you haven’t started to create yet. Go to it; and the best of luck!”
He went out. This farewell had been particularly distasteful to him. There was still in his heart that fierce anger which demands physical expression; but he had to consider Ruth in all phases. He proceeded to the deck, where Ruth and McClintock were waiting for him by the ladder. He handed Ruth a letter.
“What is this?” she wanted to know.
“A hundred dollars which was left from your husband’s money.”
“Would you be angry if I offered it to you?”
“Very. Don’t worry about me.”
“You are the kindest man I have ever known,” said Ruth, unashamed of her tears. “I have hurt you because I would not trust you. It is useless to talk. I could never make you understand.”
Almost the identical words of the boy. “Will you write,” asked the doctor, “and tell me how you are getting along?”
“The last advice I can give you is this: excite his imagination; get him started with his writing. Remember, some day you and I are going to have that book.” He patted her hand. “Good-bye, Mac. Don’t forget to cut out all effervescent water. If you will have your peg, take it with plain water. You’ll be along next spring?”
“If the old tub will float. I’ll watch over these infants, if that’s your worry. Good-bye.”
The doctor went down the side to the waiting sampan, which at once set out for the Sha-mien. Through a blur of tears Ruth followed the rocking light until it vanished. One more passer-by; and always would she remember his patience and tenderness and disinterestedness. She was quite assured that she would never see him again.
“Yon’s a dear man,” said McClintock. His natal burr was always in evidence when he was sentimentally affected. He knocked his pipe on the teak rail. “Took a great fancy to you. Wants me to look out for you a bit. I take it, down where we’re going will be nothing new to you. But I’ve stacks of books and a grand piano-player.”