Into the blur of wind and weakness and pain came two miracles—a red geranium peering out of the dusk of the room like a glowing coal, unfamiliar and therefore a delight—a bit of velvet laughter in the drab that caught his whole attention . . . the other a face. The face came first in a cloud of flower-spotted purple that he knew clearly was in some way related to the hypodermic needle Frank had plunged into his arm while the sunset still lay painted on the window. . . . It took form in the purple like a pansy—that face—grew sweet and vivid and very real. Mercifully its loveliness was changeable, losing its pansy purples and gaining glints of gold . . . becoming less a pansy . . . more a face flower-like with compassion.
“And now?” wondered Brian when the face came again.
“It is morning,” said Joan.
At the sound of her voice there came within him an extraordinary fusing, at once a pain and a delight . . . fragments of memory . . . a moonbeam . . . tears . . . the crackle of a fire . . . a quarry mist . . . the glory of stars . . . a meaning . . . a motive that startled and defied him.
“There should be moonlight on your hair,” said Brian, drifting slowly back to a knowledge of reality and pain.
“You are Joan.”
“Yes. At least until Doctor Cole finds someone else, I am at times your nurse. The pain, Brian?” She bent over him, straightening a pillow, touching his forehead with cool, questioning fingers.
“Not worse,” said Brian.
“I am glad.”
“There was a purple cloud,” he said, frowning.
“The drug. Doctor Barrington wanted you to sleep.”
“And the geranium?” His eyes sought it with relief.
“Kenny found it. Grogan’s wife had it in her window. I think he must have bullied her a little—”
“Bless him! . . . Where’s the mirror?”
“Downstairs. I’m sleeping there.”
“Thank God!” He closed his eyes, his color ebbing. “This plaster cast,” he apologized, “is like a suit of armor. It bothers me.”
“Poor fellow! . . . Can you eat?”
“Not—yet. . . . Who’s cooking?”
“Sometimes Don; sometimes I—unless the doctor sends me here. Once—Kenny.”
“You are very good,” he said simply.
Brian’s skull was young and elastic. It saved him much, but Barrington lingered until the period of suspense was at an end. Kenny drove him to the Finlake station.
“This car has been a godsend,” he said.
“And Garry’s wired me to keep it. He’s going to the coast.”
Kenny’s eyes were moist and grateful.
“Ah, Frank, darlin’, you’re a jewel!”
“Piffle!” countered Frank. “Kenny, old dear, I think you hit a chicken. If at any time,” he added at the station, “you feel the need of me, I want you to wire. He’s bound to be nervous. And if his convalescence seems slow and irksome, remember that the reaction of a shock like that isn’t merely physical.”