It is probable that mere man, who never has been able to comprehend the intensity of feeling of which a woman is capable, is not equal to the problem of realizing the effect of solitude, misunderstanding and despair upon the mind of a woman of more than ordinary sensibilities and imagination. The seed of doubt, planted in such soil, burgeons rapidly, and when, upon the very day that Mr. Daney had made his last call at the Sawdust Pile, Nan, spurred to her decision by developments of which none but she was aware, had blazed forth in open rebellion and given the Tyee Lumber Company’s general manager the fright of his prosaic existence.
After leaving the Sawdust Pile, Mr. Daney walked twice around the Bight of Tyee before arriving at a definite decision as to his future conduct in this intrigue, participation in which had been thrust upon him by his own loyalty to his employer and the idiocy of three hare-brained women. Time and again as lie paced the lonely strand, Mr. Daney made audible reference to the bells of the nether regions and the presence of panther tracks! This was his most terrible oath and was never employed except under exceptional circumstances.
At length Mr. Daney arrived at a decision. He would have nothing further to do with this horrible love affair. In the role of Dan Cupid’s murderer he was apparently a Tumble Tom; for three months he had felt as if he trod thin ice—and now he had fallen through! “I’ll carry no more of their messages,” he declared aloud. “I’ll tell them so and wash my hands of the entire matter. If there is to be any asking of favors from that girl the McKaye women can do it.”
It was after midnight when he returned to his home and his wife was sitting up to receive an explanation of his nocturnal prowlings. However, the look of desperation with which he met her accusing glance frightened her into silence, albeit she had a quiet little crying spell next morning when she discovered on the floor of Mr. Daney’s room quite a quantity of sand which had worked into his shoes during his agitated spring around Tyee Beach. She was quite certain he had indulged in a moonlight stroll on the seashore with a younger and prettier woman, so she resolved to follow him when next he fared forth and catch the traitor red-handed.
To her surprise, Mr. Daney went out no more o’ nights. He had kept his word given to himself, and on the morning succeeding his extraordinary interview with Nan he had again summoned the ladies of the McKaye family to his office for a conference. However, the capable Elizabeth was the only one of the trio to present herself, for this young woman—and not without reason—regarded herself as Mr. Daney’s mental superior; she was confident of her ability to retain his loyalty should he display a tendency to betray them.
“Well, dear Mr. Daney,” she murmured in her melted-butter voice, “what new bugaboo have you developed for us?”