“No, Mrs. King,” responded Anne’s voice composedly. “Thank you for that very kind wish.”
She turned to the prostrate one once more. She put her hand in his, and he held it fast for an instant, and, in spite of his mother’s gaze, it was an appreciable instant longer than formality called for.
“I shall hope to see you again,” he said distinctly, and the usual phrase acquired a meaning it does not always possess.
Then they were gone, and he had only the remembrance of Anne’s parting look, veiled and maidenly, but the comprehending look of a real friend none the less.
“My dear boy, you must be quite worn out with all this company in this exhausting weather,” murmured Mrs. King, laying a cool hand on a decidedly hot brow.
The brow moved beneath her hand, on account of a contraction of the smooth forehead, as if with pain. “I really hadn’t noticed the weather, mother,” replied her son’s voice with some constraint in it.
“You must rest now, dear. People who are perfectly well themselves are often most inconsiderate of an invalid, quite without intention, of course.”
“If I never receive any less consideration than I have had here, I shall do very well for the rest of my life.”
“I know; they have all been very kind. But I shall be so relieved when I can have you at home, where you will not feel obliged to have other patients on your mind. In your condition it is too much to expect.”
Jordan King was a good son, and he loved his mother deeply. But there were moments when, as now, if he could have laid a kind but firm hand upon her handsome, emotional mouth, he would have been delighted to do so.
“What would you give for a drive with me this morning?” Burns surveyed his patient, now dressed and downstairs upon a pillared rear porch, wistfulness in his eyes but determination on his lips.
“Do you mean it?”
“Yes. We may as well try what that back will stand. Most of the drive will be sitting still in front of houses, anyhow, and in your plaster jacket you’re pretty safe from injury.”
“Thank heaven!” murmured Jordan King fervently.
Two minutes later he was beside Burns in the Doctor’s car, staring eagerly ahead, lifting his hat now and then as some one gave him interested greeting from passing motor. More than once Burns was obliged to bring his car to a short standstill, so that some delighted friend might grasp King’s hand and tell him how good it seemed to see him out. With one and all the young man was very blithe, though he let them do most of the talking. They all told him heartily that he was looking wonderfully well, while they ignored with the understanding of the intelligent certain signs which spoke of physical and mental strain.
“Your friends,” Burns remarked as they went on after one particularly pleasant encounter, “seem to belong to the class who possess brains. I wish it were a larger class. Every day I find some patient suffering from depression caused by fool comments from some well-meaning acquaintance.”