Of her mother, Nan had seen but little. Her recollections of her mother were few and vague; of her mother’s people, she knew nothing save the fact that they dwelt in a world quite free of Brents, and that her mother had committed a distinctly social faux pas in marrying Caleb Brent she guessed long before Caleb Brent, in his brave simplicity, had imparted that fact to her. An admiral’s daughter, descendant of an old and wealthy Revolutionary family, the males of which had deemed any calling other than the honorable profession of arms as beneath the blood and traditions of the family, Nan’s mother had been the pet of Portsmouth until, inexplicably, Caleb Brent, a chief petty officer on her father’s flag-ship, upon whom the hero’s medal had just been bestowed, had found favor in her eyes. The ways of love, as all the philosophers of the ages are agreed, are beyond definition or understanding; even in his own case, Caleb Brent was not equal to the task of understanding how their love had grown, burgeoned into an engagement, and ripened into marriage. He only knew that, from a meek and well-disciplined petty officer, he had suddenly developed the courage of a Sir Galahad, and, while under the influence of a strange spell, had respectfully defied the admiral, who had foolishly assumed that, even if his daughter would not obey him, his junior in the service would. Then had come the baby girl, Nan, the divorce—pressed by the mother’s family—and the mother’s death.
If his wife had discerned in him the nobility that was so apparent to his daughter—Poor old hero! But Nan always checked her meditations at this point. They didn’t seem quite fair to her mother.
Seated on the bench this afternoon, Nan reviewed her life from her sixth year, the year in which her father had claimed her. Until her eighteenth year, she had not been unhappy, for, following their arrival in Port Agnew, her father had prospered to a degree which permitted his daughter the enjoyment of the ordinary opportunities of ordinary people. If she had not known extravagance in the matter of dress, neither had she known penury; when her feminine instinct impelled her to brighten and beautify the little home on the Sawdust Pile from time to time, she had found that possible. She had been graduated with honors from the local high school, and, being a book-lover of catholic taste and wide range, she was, perhaps,