“No, sir; it was my own idea.” Daney’s face was white with mental and physical distress and red with confusion, by turns. His shoulder was numb.
“I figured that if the girl had some money to make a new start elsewhere, she’d leave Port Agnew, which would be best for all concerned.”
“Why, Andrew Daney, you old hero! Cost you something to confess that, didn’t it? Well—I guessed you or my father had induced her to go, so I concluded to start the investigation with you,” He passed his hand over his white dripping brow before resuming what he had to say. “The Tyee Lumber Company isn’t equipped to carry on its pay-roll Mr. Donald McKaye and the man who interferes in his personal affair, even though actuated by a kindly interest. You rip up that track you’re laying and leave Nan’s home alone. Then you clean up your desk and hand me your resignation. I’m sick—and your damned interference hurts. Sorry; but you must go. Understand? Nan’s coming back—understand? Coming back—devilish hot night—for this time of year, isn’t it? Man, I’m burning up.”
It came to Mr. Daney that the young laird was acting in a most peculiar manner. Also, he was talking that way. Consequently, and what with the distress of being dismissed from the McKaye service in such cavalier fashion, the general manager decided to twist out from under that terrible grasp on his shoulder.
Instantly, Donald released from this support, swayed and clutched gropingly for Mr. Daney’s person.
“Dizzy,” he panted. “Head’s on strike. Mr. Daney, where the devil are you? Don’t run away from me. You damned old muddler, if I get my hands on you I’ll pick you apart—yes, I will—to see—what makes you go. You did it, Yes, you did—even if you’re too stupidly honest—to lie about it. Glad of that, though, Mr. Daney. Hate liars and interfering duffers. Ah—the cold-blooded calculation of it—took advantage of her poverty. She’s gone—nobody knows—May God damn your soul to the deepest hell—Where are you? I’ll kill you—no, no; forgive me, sir—Yes, you’ve been faithful, and you’re an old employe—I wish you a very pleasant good-evening, sir.”
He stepped gingerly down the three wide stairs, pitched forward, and measured his length in a bed of pansies. Mr. Daney came down, struck a match, and looked at his white face. Donald was apparently unconscious; so Mr. Daney knelt, placed his inquisitive nose close to the partly open lips, and sniffed. Then he swore his chiefest oath.
“Hell’s hells and panther-tracks! He isn’t drunk. He’s sick.”
Fifteen minutes later, the young Laird of Port Agnew reposed in the best room of his own hospital, and Andrew Daney was risking his life motoring at top speed up the cliff road to The Dreamerie with bad news for old Hector. Mrs. McKaye and the girls had retired but The Laird was reading in the living-room when Daney entered unannounced.