It was a good sermon, as sermons go. In fact, the Reverend Mr. Tingley, warming to his theme, quite outdid himself on the subject of charity as practised by his Redeemer, and, as a result, was the recipient of numberless congratulatory handshakes later at the church door. Donald agreed that it was an unusually good sermon—in theory; but since he knew it would collapse in practise, he avoided Mr. Tingley after service.
On the steps of the church he was accosted by Andrew Daney and the latter’s wife, who greeted him effusively. Unfortunately for Mrs. Daney, Nan, in one of those bursts of confidence that must ever exist between lovers, had informed Donald the night previous of the motherly soul’s interest in his affairs; wherefore he returned Mrs. Daney’s warm greeting with such chilly courtesy that she was at no loss to guess the reason for it and was instantly plunged into a slough of terror and despair. She retained sufficient wit, however, to draw her husband away, thus preventing him from walking with Donald.
“I want to tell him about Dirty Dan,” Daney protested, in a low voice. “As the boss, he ought to be told promptly of any injury to an employe.”
“Never mind Dirty Dan,” she retorted. “He’ll hear of it soon enough. Let us congratulate Mr. Tingley on his sermon.”
Donald, having turned his back on them almost rudely, strode down the street to his car and motored back to The Dreamerie. He spent the remainder of the morning force-breaking a setter puppy to retrieve; at one o’clock, he ate a cold luncheon, and immediately thereafter drove down to Port Agnew and brazenly parked his car in front of Caleb Brent’s gate.
He entered without the formality of knocking, and Nan met him in the tiny entrance-hall.
“I couldn’t wait until dinner-time,” he explained. “Nobody home at The Dreamerie—” He took her face in his calloused hands, drew her to him. “You’re sweet in that calico gown,” he informed her, waiving a preliminary word of greeting. “I love you,” he added softly, and kissed her. She clung to him.
“You should not have come here in broad daylight,” she protested. “Oh, you big, foolish, impulsive dear! Don’t you realize I want to protect you from the tongue of scandal? If you persist in forgetting who you are, does it follow that I should pursue a similar course?”
He ignored her argument.
“I’ll help you get dinner, old blue-eyes,” he suggested. “Let me shuck some corn or shell some peas or string some beans—any job where I can sit and look at you and talk to you.”
“It will please me if you’ll visit a little while with father Caleb,” she suggested. “He’s out on the sun-porch. He’s far from well this morning. Do cheer him up, Donald dear.”
Old Caleb hailed him with a pleasure that was almost childish. During the two weeks that had elapsed since Donald had seen him last, he had failed markedly.