“Well, what are you going to do about it?” His demeanor appeared to say: “This is my work, and I’m proud of it.”
To Daney’s profound amazement, The Laird smiled benignantly and thrust out his hand, which Mr. Daney shook gingerly, as one might a can of nitroglycerin.
“I thank you more than you will ever realize, Andrew, for taking this matter out of my hands. I left the decision up to the Almighty and evidently he inspired you to disobey me and save the day—without compromising me.”
“Pooh! That’s the easiest thing I do.” Mr. Daney’s courage had returned with a rush. “For heaven’s sake, don’t talk about it, sir. I placed a call for the girl on the telephone—at your expense. Yes, sir; I talked with her clear across the continent, and before she even started from New York, it was understood that she is to jilt Donald the minute the doctors pronounce him strong enough to stand jilting.”
“She told me, practically, the same thing. Oh, Andrew, Andrew, my boy, this is bully work! Bully! Bully!”
Mr. Daney replied to this encomium with a deprecatory shrug and hoped The Laird would never ask him who had made the bargain. Thus far, he flattered himself, he had not strayed from the straight and narrow path of strict veracity, and he hoped he would not have to. To obviate this, he decided to get rid of The Laird immediately; so he affected embarrassment; fussed with the pile of mail on his desk, and growled:
“All right, boss. If you’re satisfied, I am. I haven’t been able to sleep very well since I started mixing in your family affairs, and without sleep a man cannot hold up his job. I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I cannot have any idle, interfering fellows stampeding round my office; so I suggest that you run up to The Dreamerie to break the good news to your poor wife and the girls, and let me get something done.”
“All right, Andrew; I’ll go in a minute. Er—ah—you’re certain, Andrew, the girl understands quite thoroughly that I haven’t had a thing to do with bringing her back to Port Agnew?” The Laird smote the desk resolutely; he desired to be absolutely certain of his ground.
Mr. Daney looked up with a slight frown.
“I’ll answer your question with another. Have you seen and talked with Nan Brent this morning?”
“Yes. I did—the minute she entered Donald’s room.”
“And you demanded a show-down then and there?”
Parenthetically it may be stated that Mr. Daney’s intimate knowledge of The Laird’s character prompted this question. He was certain of an affirmative reply.
“And her answer was satisfactory?”
“So I judged from the fact that you shook hands with me upon entering my office. I had expected nothing more nor less than instant dismissal.... Well, since you desire the girl’s testimony confirmed, I repeat that she came out here on the distinct understanding that Donald’s family had not receded from its original position. This is a business trip, pure and simple, in so far as the McKaye family is concerned, although I grant you there is a heap of sentiment on Nan’s part—at least sufficient to persuade her to do anything for the boy’s sake. She places his welfare above her own.”