During the week, Mary Daney refrained from broaching the subject of that uncomfortable Sunday afternoon, wherefore her husband realized she was thinking considerably about it and, as a result, was not altogether happy. Had he suspected, however, the trend her thoughts were taking, he would have been greatly perturbed. Momentous thoughts rarely racked Mrs. Daney’s placid and somewhat bovine brain, but once she became possessed with the notion that Nan Brent was the only human being possessed of undoubted power to create or suppress a scandal which some queer feminine intuition warned her impended, the more firmly did she become convinced that it was her Christian duty to call upon Nan Brent and strive to present the situation in a common-sense light to that erring young Woman.
Having at length attained to this resolution, a subtle peace settled over Mrs. Daney, the result, doubtless, of a consciousness of virtue regained, since she was about to right a wrong to which she had so thoughtlessly been a party. Her decision had almost been reached when her husband, coming home for luncheon at noon on Saturday, voiced the apprehension which had harassed him during the week.
“Donald will be home from the woods to-night,” he announced, in troubled tones. “I do hope he’ll not permit that big heart of his to lead him into further kindnesses that will be misunderstood by certain people in case they hear of them. I have never known a man so proud and fond of a son as The Laird is of Donald.”
“Nonsense!” his wife replied complacently. “The Laird has forgotten all about it.”
“Perhaps. Nevertheless, he will watch his son, and if, by any chance, the boy should visit the Sawdust Pile—”
“Then it will be time enough to worry about him, Andrew. In the meantime, it’s none of our business, dear. Eat your luncheon and don’t think about it.”
He relapsed into moody silence. When he had departed for the mill office, however, his wife’s decision had been reached. Within the hour she was on her way to the Sawdust Pile, but as she approached Caleb Brent’s garden gate, she observed, with a feeling of gratification, that, after all, it was not going to be necessary for her to be seen entering the house or leaving it. Far up the strand she saw a woman and a little child sauntering.
Nan Brent looked up at the sound of footsteps crunching the shingle, identified Mrs. Daney at a glance, and turned her head instantly, at the same time walking slowly away at right angles, in order to obviate a meeting. To her surprise, Mrs. Daney also changed her course, and Nan, observing this out of the corner of her eye, dropped her apronful of driftwood and turned to face her visitor.
“Good afternoon, Miss Brent. May I speak to you for a few minutes?”
“Certainly, Mrs. Daney.”
Mrs. Daney nodded condescendingly and sat down on the white sand.
“Be seated, Miss Brent, if you please.”