They were half way up the cliff road before anybody spoke. Then, with a long preliminary sigh, The Laird voiced the thought that obsessed them all.
“That damned mutton-head, Daney. I’d run him out of the Tyee employ if it would do a bit of good. I cannot run him out of town or out of church.”
“The imbecile!” Elizabeth raged. Jane was dumb with shame and rage and Mrs. McKaye was sniffling a little. Presently she said:
“How dare he bring her right into church with him,” she cried brokenly. “Right before everybody. Oh, dear, oh dear, is my son totally lacking in a sense of decency? This is terrible, terrible.”
“I shall not risk such another awful Sunday morning,” Elizabeth announced.
“Nor I,” Jane cried with equal fervor.
“We shall have to leave Port Agnew now,” Mrs, McKaye sobbed.
Old Hector patted her hand. “Yes, I think you’ll have to, Nellie. Unfortunately, I cannot go with you. Daney doesn’t appear to be quite sane of late and with Donald out of the business I’m chained to a desk for the remainder of my life. I fear, however,” he added savagely, “I do not intend to let that woman run me out of my own church. Not by a damned sight!”
The instant they entered the house, rightly conjecturing that the Daneys had also reached their home, Mrs. McKaye went to the telephone and proceeded to inform Mr. Daney of the opinion which the McKaye family, jointly and severally, entertained for his idea of comedy. Daney listened respectfully to all she had to say touching his sanity, his intelligence, his sense of decency, and his loyalty to Hector and when, stung because he made no defense, she asked: “Have you no explanation to make us for your extraordinary behavior?” he replied:
“I am an usher of our church, Mrs. McKaye. When Donald and his wife entered the church the only vacant seats in it were in my pew; the only person in the church who would not have felt a sense of outrage at having your daughter-in-law seated with his or her family, was my self-sacrificing self. I could not be discourteous to Donald and I’m quite certain his wife has as much right in our church as you have. So I shooed them both up to my pew, to the great distress of Mrs. Daney.”
“You should be ashamed of yourself, Andrew. You should!”
“I’m not ashamed of myself, Mrs. McKaye. I’ve been a pussy-foot all my life. I had to do something I knew would detract from my popularity, but since I had to do it I decided to do it promptly and as if I enjoyed it. Surely you would not have commended me had I met the young couple at the door and said to them: ’Get out of this church. It is not for such as you. However, if you insist upon staying, you’ll have to stand up or else sit down on the floor. Nobody here wants to sit with you. They’re afraid, too, they’ll offend the Chief Pooh-bah of this town’.”
“You could have pretended you did not see them.”