“We have not.” Elizabeth’s calm voice answered him. “What the girl did was entirely of her own volition. She did it for your sake, and since it is apparent that she plans to collect the reward of her disinterested effort we have considered that a formal expression of thanks would be superfluous.”
“I see. I see. Well, perhaps you’re right. I shall not quarrel with your point of view. And you’re all quite certain you will never recede from your attitude of hostility toward Nan—under no circumstances, to recognize her as my wife and extend to her the hospitality of The Dreamerie?”
He challenged his father with a look and the old man slowly nodded an affirmative. His mother thought Donald was about to yield to their opposition and nodded likewise. “I have already answered that question,” Jane murmured tragically, and Elizabeth again reminded him that it was not necessary for him to make a fool of himself.
“Well, I’m glad this affair has been ironed out—at last,” Donald assured them. “I had cherished the hope that when you knew Nan better—” He choked up for a moment, then laid his hands on his father’s shoulders. “Well, sir,” he gulped, “I’m going down to the Sawdust Pile and thank Nan for saving my life. Not,” he added bitterly, “that I anticipate enjoying that life to the fullest for some years to come. If I did not believe that time will solve the problem—”
The Laird’s heart leaped. “Tush, tush, boy. Run along and don’t do anything foolish.” He slapped Donald heartily across the back while the decisive sweep of that same hand an instant later informed the women of his household that it would be unnecessary to discuss this painful matter further.
“I understand just how you feel, dad. I hold no resentment,” Donald assured him, and dragged The Laird close to him in a filial embrace. He crossed the room and kissed his mother, who clung to him a moment, tearfully; seeing him so submissive, Jane and Elizabeth each came up and claimed the right to embrace him with sisterly affection.
The butler entered to announce that the car was waiting at the front door. Old Hector helped his son into a great coat and Mrs. McKaye wound a reefer around his neck and tucked the ends inside the coat. Then The Laird helped him into the car; as it rolled slowly down the cliff road, Old Hector snorted with relief.
“By Judas,” he declared, “I never dreamed the boy would accept such an ultimatum.”
“Well, the way to find out is to try,” Elizabeth suggested. “Sorry to have been forced to disregard that optical S.O.S. of yours, Dad, but I realized that we had to strike now or never.”
“Whew-w-w!” The Laird whistled again.
With the license of long familiarity, Donald knocked at the front door of the Brent cottage to announce his arrival; then, without awaiting permission to enter, he opened the door and met Nan in the tiny hall hurrying to admit him.