He stared at her admiringly. In Elizabeth, he discerned, for the first time, more than a modicum of her father’s resolute personality; he saw clearly that she dominated her mother and Jane and, like The Laird, would carry her objective, once she decided upon it, regardless of consequences.
“Good-morning, ladies. I shall repeat your message—verbatim, Miss Elizabeth,” he assured the departing trio.
And that night he did so.
“They neglected to inform you how much time they would require to think it over, did they not?” Nan interrogated mildly. “And they didn’t tell you approximately when I should look for their visit?”
“No,” he admitted.
“Oh, I knew they wouldn’t submit,” Nan flung back at him. “They despise me—impersonally, at first and before it seemed that I might dim the family pride; personally, when it was apparent that I could dim it if I desired. Well, I’m tired of being looked at and sneered at, and I haven’t money enough left to face New York again. I had dreamed of the kind of living I might earn, and when the opportunity to earn it was already in my grasp, I abandoned it to come back to Port Agnew. I had intended to play fair with them, although I had to lie to Donald to do that, but—they hurt something inside of me—something deep that hadn’t been hurt before—and—and now—”
[Illustration: “I’M A MAN WITHOUT A HOME AND YOU’VE GOT TO TAKE ME IN, NAN.”]
“Now what!” Mr. Daney cried in anguished tones.
“If Donald McKaye comes down to the Sawdust Pile and asks me to marry him, I’m going to do it. I have a right to happiness; I’m—I’m tired—sacrificing—Nobody cares—no appreciation—Nan of the Sawdust Pile will be—mistress of The Dreamerie—and when they—enter house of mine—they shall be—humbler than I. They shall—”
As Mr. Daney fled from the house, he looked back through the little hall and saw Nan Brent seated at her tiny living-room table, her golden head pillowed in her arms outspread upon the table, her body shaken with great, passionate sobs. Mr. Daney’s heart was constricted. He hadn’t felt like that since the Aurora Stock Company had played “East Lynne” in the Port Agnew Opera House.
At the Sawdust Pile the monotony of Nan Brent’s life remained unbroken; she was marking time, waiting for something to turn up. Since the last visit of the McKaye ambassador she had not altered her determination to exist independent of financial aid from the McKaye women or their father,—for according to her code, the acceptance of remuneration for what she had done would be debasing. Nan had made this decision even while realizing that in waiving Mr. Daney’s proffer of reimbursement she was rendering impossible a return to New York with her child. The expenses of their journey and the maintenance of their brief residence there; the outlay for clothing