The receipt of this news, while a severe disappointment, had not caused her to flinch, for she had, in a measure, anticipated it and with the calmness of desperation already commenced giving thought to the problem of her future existence. In the end she had comforted herself with the thought that good cooks were exceedingly scarce—so scarce, in fact, that even a cook with impedimenta in the shape of a small son might be reasonably certain of prompt and well-paid employment. Picturing herself as a kitchen mechanic brought a wry smile to her sweet face, but—it was honorable employment and she preferred it to being a waitress or an underfed and underpaid saleswoman in a department store. For she could cook wonderfully well and she knew it; she believed she could dignify a kitchen and she preferred it to cadging from the McKayes the means to enable her to withstand the economic siege incident to procuring a livelihood more dignified and remunerative.
Thus she had planned up to the day of her unexpected meeting with Jane and Elizabeth McKaye in the Port Agnew telegraph office. On that day, something had happened—something that had constituted a distinct event in Nan Brent’s existence and with which the well-bred insolence of the McKaye girls had nothing to do. Indirectly old Caleb Brent had been responsible, for by the mere act of dying, his three-guarter pay as a retired sailor had automatically terminated, and Nan had written the Navy Department notifying it accordingly.
Now, the death of a retired member of the Army or Navy, no matter what his grade may be, constitutes news for the service journals, and the fact that old Caleb had been a medal of honor man appeared, to the editor of one of these journals, to entitle the dead sailor to three hundred words of posthumous publicity. Subsequently, these three hundred words came under the eye of a retired admiral of the United States Navy, who thereby became aware that he had an orphaned grand-daughter residing in Port Agnew, Washington.