“Mother and the girls are up to their eyebrows in the work of an organization in Seattle designed to salvage female delinquents,” Donald complained. “I can’t understand their attitude.”
Old Hector hooted.
“They don’t do the salvaging. Not a bit of it! That unpleasant work is left to others, and the virtuous and respectable merely pay for it. Ken ye not, boy, ’twas ever the habit of people of means to patronize and coddle the lowly. If they couldn’t do that, where would be the fun of being rich? Look in the Seattle papers. Who gets the advertising out of a charity ball if it isn’t the rich? They organize it and they put it over, with the public paying for a look at them, and they attending the ball on complimentary tickets, although I will admit that when the bills are paid and the last shred of social triumph has been torn from the affair, the Bide-a-Wee Home for Unmarried Mothers can have what’s left—and be damned to them.”
Donald laughed quietly.
“Scotty, you’re developing into an iconoclast. If your fellow plutocrats should hear you ranting in that vein, they’d call you a socialist.”
“Oh, I’m not saying there aren’t a heap of exceptions. Many’s the woman with a heart big enough to mother the world, although, when all’s said and done; ’tis the poor that are kind to the poor, the unfortunate that can appreciate and forgive misfortune. I’m glad you stood by old Brent and his girl,” he added approvingly.
“I intend to accord her the treatment which a gentleman always accords the finest lady in the land, dad.”
“Or the lowest, my son. I’ve noticed that kind are not altogether unpopular with our finest gentlemen. Donald, I used to pray to God that I wouldn’t raise a fool. I feel that he’s answered my prayers, but if you should ever turn hypocrite, I’ll start praying again.”
Donald left the following morning in the automobile for the logging-camps up-river, and because of his unfamiliarity with their present location, his father’s chauffeur drove him up. He was to be gone all week, but planned to return Saturday afternoon to spend Sunday with his family.
As the car wound up the narrow river road, Donald found himself thinking of Nan Brent and her tragedy. Since his visit to the Sawdust Pile the day before, two pictures of her had persisted in his memory, every detail of both standing forth distinctly.
In the first, she was a shabby, barelegged girl of thirteen, standing in the cockpit of his sloop, holding the little vessel on its course while he and old Caleb took a reef in the mainsail. The wilderness of gold that was her uncared-for hair blew behind her like a sunny burgee; her sea-blue eyes were fixed on the mainsail, out of which she adroitly spilled the wind at the proper moment, in order that Donald and her father might haul the reef-points home and