once. There was a loud summons at the door. It was Hilary who opened it, his mother following closely.
A great gust of wind blew the rain in upon them, and Stephen Murdoch, wet and storm-beaten, stepped in from the outer darkness, carrying the wooden case in his hands.
He seemed scarcely to see them. He made his way past them and into the lighted room with an uncertain step. The light appeared to dazzle him. He went to the sofa weakly and threw himself upon it; he was trembling like a leaf; he had aged ten years.
"I—I——" And then he looked up at them as they stood before him waiting. "There is naught to say," he cried out, and burst into wild, hysterical weeping, like that of a woman.
In obedience to a sign from his mother, Hilary left the room. "When, after the lapse of half an hour, he returned, all was quiet. His father lay upon the sofa with closed eyes, his mother sat near him. He did not rise nor touch food, and only spoke once during the evening. Then he opened his eyes and turned them upon the case which still stood where he had placed it.
"Take it away," he said in a whisper. "Take it away."
The next morning Hilary went to Floxham.
"I want work," he said. "Do you think I can get it here?"
"What soart does tha want?" asked the engineer, not too encouragingly. "Th' gentlemanly soart as tha con do wi' kid-gloves an' a eye-glass on?"
"No," answered Murdoch, "not that sort."
Floxham eyed him keenly."Would tha tak' owt as was offert thee?" he demanded.