The hint of news of interest was sufficient to secure from Mrs. McKaye a promise to call at his office with the girls at ten o’clock the following morning.
“What is this interesting news, Andrew?” Mrs. Daney asked, with well-simulated disinterestedness. She was knitting for the French War-Relief Committee a pair of those prodigious socks with which well-meaning souls all over these United States have inspired many a poor little devil of a poilu with the thought that the French must be regarded by us as a Brobdingnagian race.
“We’re arranging a big blowout, unknown to The Laird and Donald, to celebrate the boy’s return to health. I’m planning to shut down the mill and the logging-camps for three days,” he replied glibly. Of late he was finding it much easier to lie to her than to tell the truth, and he had observed with satisfaction that Mrs. Daney’s bovine brain assimilated either with equal avidity.
“How perfectly lovely!” she cooed, and dropped a stitch which later would be heard from on the march, in the shape of a blister on a Gallic heel. “You’re so thoughtful and kind, Andrew! Sometimes I wonder if the McKayes really appreciate your worth.”
“Well, we’ll see,” he answered enigmatically and went off to bed.
It was with a feeling of alert interest that he awaited in his office, the following morning, the arrival of the ladies from The Dreamerie. They arrived half an hour late, very well content with themselves and the world in general, and filling Mr. Daney’s office with the perfume of their presence. They appeared to be in such good fettle, indeed, that Mr. Daney took a secret savage delight in dissipating their nonchalance.
“Well, ladies,” he began, “I decided yesterday that it was getting along toward the season of the year when my thoughts stray as usual toward the Sawdust Pile as a drying-yard. So I went down to see if Nan Brent had abandoned it again—and sure enough, she hadn’t.” He paused exasperatingly, after the fashion of an orator who realizes that he has awakened in his audience an alert and respectful interest. “Fine kettle of fish brewing down there,” he resumed darkly, and paused again, glanced at the ceiling critically as if searching for leaks, smacked his lips and murmured confidentially a single word: “Snag!”
“‘Snag!’” In chorus.
“Snag! In some unaccountable manner, it appears that you three ladies have aroused in Nan Brent a spirit of antagonism—”
“I state the condition as I found it. I happen to know that the girl possesses sufficient means to permit her to live at the Sawdust Pile for a year at least.”
“But isn’t she going away?” Mrs. McKaye’s voice rose sharply. “Is she going to break her bargain?”
“Oh, I think not, Mrs. McKaye. She merely complained to me that somebody begged her to come back to Port Agnew; so she’s waiting for somebody to come down to the Sawdust Pile and beg her to go away again. She’s inclined to be capricious about it, too. One person isn’t enough. She wants three people to call, and she insists that they be—ah—ladies!”