Their voices ceased. In the stillness the whistle of the wind and the deep drone of the seas shattering themselves on the granite lifted a dreary monotone. And presently a quick step sounded on the porch. Doctor Wallis came hurriedly in.
“Upon my soul,” he said apologetically. “I ought to be shot, Miss Grower. I got everybody calmed down over at the cottage and chased them all to bed. Then I sat down in a soft chair before that cheerful fire in your living room. And I didn’t wake up for hours. You must be worn out.”
“That’s quite all right,” Betty assured him. “Don’t be conscience-stricken. Did mamma have hysterics?”
Wallis grinned cheerfully.
“Well, not quite,” he drawled. “At any rate, all’s quiet along the Potomac now. How’s the patient getting on?”
“I’m O.K.,” MacRae spoke for himself, “and much obliged to you both for tinkering me up. Miss Gower ought to go home.”
“I think so myself,” Wallis said. “I’ll take her across the point. Then I’ll come back and have another look over you.”
“It isn’t necessary,” MacRae declared. “Barring a certain amount of soreness I feel fit enough. I suppose I could get up and walk now if I had to. Go home and go to bed, both of you.”
“Good night, or perhaps it would be better to say good morning.” Betty gave him her hand. “Pleasant dreams.”
It seemed to MacRae that there was a touch of reproach, a hint of the sardonic in her tone and words.
Then he was alone in the quiet house, with his thoughts for company, and the distant noises of the storm muttering in the outer darkness.
They were not particularly pleasant processes of thought. The sins of the fathers shall be visited even unto the third and fourth generation. Why, in the name of God, should they be, he asked himself?
Betty Gower liked him. She had been trying to tell him so. MacRae felt that. He did not question too closely the quality of the feeling for her which had leaped up so unexpectedly. He was afraid to dig too deep. He had got a glimpse of depths and eddies that night which if they did not wholly frighten him, at least served to confuse him. They were like flint and steel, himself and Betty Gower. They could not come together without striking sparks. And a man may long to warm himself by fire, MacRae reflected gloomily, but he shrinks from being burned.
At daybreak Peter Ferrara came to the house.
“How are you?” he asked.
“Sore. Wobbly.” MacRae had tried his legs and found them wanting.
“It was a bad night all round, eh, lad?” Peter rumbled in his rough old voice. “Some of the boys got a line on the Blackbird and hauled what was left of her around into the Cove. But she’s a ruin. The engine went to pieces while she was poundin’ on the rocks. Steve lays in the house. He looks peaceful—as if he was glad to be through.”