And in this observation, it is more than probable that the lady spoke more truly than she realized.
“Oh, well, if that’s the case, it’s all as clear as mud!” Jane cried triumphantly. “If the worst should ever come to the worst, Mr. Daney will lie like a gentleman and—why, he has already done so, silly! Of course he has, and it’s rather gallant of him to do it, I think.”
“He’s an imbecile, and why Hector has employed him all these years—why he trusts him so implicitly, I’m sure I am at a loss to comprehend.” Mrs. McKaye complained waspishly.
“Dear, capable, faithful Andrew!” Elizabeth mimicked her mother’s speech earlier in the day. “Cheer up, ma! Cherries are ripe.” She snapped her fingers, swayed her lithe body, and undulated gracefully to the piano, where she brought both hands down on the keys with a crash, and played ragtime with feverish fury for five minutes. Then, her impish nature asserting itself, she literally smashed out the opening bars of the Wedding March from Lohengrin, and shouted with glee when her mother, a finger in each ear, fled from the room.
Mr. Daney worked through a stack of mail with his stenographer, dismissed her, and, in the privacy of his sanctum, lighted his pipe and proceeded to mend his fences. In the discretion of the chief operator at the telephone exchange, he had great confidence; in that of Mrs. McKaye, none at all. He believed that the risk of having the secret leak out through Nan herself was a negligible one, and, of course (provided he did not talk in his sleep) the reason for Nan’s return was absolutely safe with him. Indeed, the very fact that The Laird had demanded and received an explanation from the girl would indicate to Nan that Mrs. McKaye had acted on her own initiative; hence, Nan would, in all probability, refrain from disclosing this fact to The Laird in any future conversations.
Reasoning further, Daney concluded there would be no future conversations. The Laird, following his usual custom of refraining from discussing a subject already settled to his satisfaction, could be depended upon to avoid a discussion of any kind with Nan Brent in future, for such discussions would not be to his interest, and he was singularly adept in guarding that interest.
His cogitations were interrupted by a telephone-call from Mrs. McKaye. The good soul’s first gust of resentment having passed, she desired to thank him for his timely warning and to assure him that, on the subject of that transcontinental telephone-conversation she and her daughters could be depended upon to remain as silent as the Sphinx.
This information relieved Mr. Daney greatly. “After all,” he confided to the cuspidor, “it is up to the girl whether we fish or cut bait. But then, what man in his senses can trust a woman to stay put. Females are always making high dives into shoal water, and those tactless McKaye women are going to smear everything up yet. You wait and see.”