“I don’t want you to go, Buck,” she repeated meekly. “I shall feel guilty, driving you out of a fine position.”
“Then marry me and I’ll stay.”
“But suppose I don’t love you the way you deserve—”
“Suppose! Suppose!” Buck Ogilvy cried. “You’re no longer certain of yourself. How dare you deny your love for me? Eh? Moira, I’ll risk it.”
Her eyes turned to him timidly, and for the first time he saw in their smoky depths a lambent flame. “I don’t know,” she quavered, “and it’s a big responsibility in case—”
“Oh, the devil take the case!” he cried rapturously, and took her hands in his. “Do I improve with age, dear Moira?” he asked with boyish eagerness; then, before she could answer, he swept on, a tornado of love and pleading. And presently Moira was in his arms, he was kissing her, and she was crying softly because—well, she admired Mr. Buck Ogilvy; more, she respected him and was genuinely fond of him. She wondered, and as she wondered, a quiet joy thrilled her in the knowledge that it did not seem at all impossible for her to grow, in time, absurdly fond of this wholesome red rascal.
“Oh, Buck, dear,” she whispered, “I don’t know, I’m sure, but perhaps I’ve loved you a little bit for a long time.”
“I’m perfectly wild over you. You’re the most wonderful woman I ever heard of. Old rosy-cheeks!” And he pinched them just to see the colour come and go.
John Cardigan was seated in his lumberjack’s easy-chair as his son approached. His hat lay on the litter of brown twigs beside him; his chin was sunk on his breast, and his head was held a little to one side in a listening attitude; a vagrant little breeze rustled gently a lock of his fine, long white hair. Bryce stooped over the old man and shook him gently by the shoulder.
“Wake up, partner,” he called cheerfully. But John Cardigan did not wake, and again his son shook him. Still receiving no response, Bryce lifted the leonine old head and gazed into his father’s face. “John Cardigan!” he cried sharply. “Wake up, old pal.”
The old eyes opened, and John Cardigan smiled up at his boy. “Good son,” he whispered, “good son!” He closed his sightless eyes again as if the mere effort of holding them open wearied him. “I’ve been sitting here—waiting,” he went on in the same gentle whisper. “No, not waiting for you, boy—waiting—”
His head fell over on his son’s shoulder; his hand went groping for Bryce’s. “Listen,” he continued. “Can’t you hear it—the Silence? I’ll wait for you here, my son. Mother and I will wait together now— in this spot she fancied. I’m tired—I want rest. Look after old Mac and Moira—and Bill Dandy, who lost his leg at Camp Seven last fall— and Tom Ellington’s children—and—all the others, son. You know, Bryce. They’re your responsibilities. Sorry I can’t wait to see the San Hedrin opened up, but—I’ve lived my life and loved my love. Ah, yes, I’ve been happy—so happy just doing things—and—dreaming here among my Giants—and—”