Each Sunday during that period of wretchedness he saw his boy and Nan at church, although they no longer sat with Mr. Daney. From Reverend Tingley The Laird learned that Donald now had a pew of his own, and he wondered why. He knew his son had never been remotely religious and eventually he decided that, in his son’s place, though he were the devil himself, he would do exactly as Donald had done. Damn a dog that carried a low head and a dead tail! It was the sign of the mongrel strain—curs always crept under the barn when beaten!
One Sunday in the latter part of May he observed that Nan came to church alone. He wondered if Donald was at home ill and a vague apprehension stabbed him; he longed to drop into step beside Nan as she left the church and ask her, but, of course, that was unthinkable. Nevertheless he wished he knew and that afternoon he spent the entire time on the terrace at The Dreamerie, searching the Sawdust Pile with his marine glasses, in the hope of seeing Donald moving about the little garden. But he did not see him, and that night his sleep was more troubled than usual.
On the following Sunday Nan was not accompanied by her husband either. The Laird decided, therefore, that Donald could not be very ill, otherwise Nan would not have left him home alone. This thought comforted him somewhat. During the week he thought frequently of telephoning up to Darrow and asking if they still had the same raftsman on the pay-roll, but his pride forbade this. So he drove up the river road one day and stopped his car among the trees on the bank of the river from the Darrow log boom. A tall, lively young fellow was leaping nimbly about on the logs, but so active was he that even at two hundred yards The Laird could not be certain this man was his son. He returned to Port Agnew more troubled and distressed than ever.
Mrs. McKaye and the girls had made three flying visits down to Port Agnew during the winter and The Laird had spent his week-ends in Seattle twice; otherwise, save for the servants, he was quite alone at The Dreamerie and this did not add to his happiness. Gradually the continued and inexplicable absence of Donald at Sunday service became an obsession with him; he could think of nothing else in his spare moments and even at times when it was imperative he should give all of his attention to important business matters, this eternal, damnable query continued to confront him. It went to bed with him and got up with him and under its steady relentless attrition he began to lose the look of robust health that set him off so well among men of his own age. His eyes took on a worried, restless gleam; he was irritable and in the mornings he frequently wore to the office the haggard appearance that speaks so accusingly of a sleepless night. He lost his appetite and in consequence he lost weight. Andrew Daney was greatly concerned about him, and one day, apropos of nothing, he demanded a bill of particulars.