She rode to the cemetery in The Laird’s car with The Laird, Donald, and Mrs. Tingley. Leaning on Donald’s arm, she watched them hide old Caleb beneath the flowers from the gardens of The Dreamerie; then The Laird read the service at the grave and they returned to the Sawdust Pile, where Nan’s child (he had been left at home in charge of a nurse from the Tyee Lumber Company’s hospital) experienced more or less difficulty deciding whether Donald or The Laird was his father.
The Laird now considered his duty to Caleb Brent accomplished. He remained at the Sawdust Pile a period barely sufficient for Nan to express her sense of obligation.
“In a month, my dear girl,” he whispered, as he took her hand, “you’ll have had time to adjust yourself and decide on the future. Then we’ll have a little talk.”
She smiled bravely up at him through misty eyes and shook her head. She read his thoughts far better than he knew.
Father and son repaired to the private office at the mill, and The Laird seated himself in his old swivel chair.
“Now then, lad,” he demanded, “have I been a good sport?”
“You have, indeed, father! I’m grateful to you.”
“You needn’t be. I wouldn’t have missed that funeral for considerable. That girl can sing like an angel, and, man, the courage of her! ’Twas sweet of her, singing to old Caleb like that, but I much mistake if she won’t be talked about for it. ’Twill be said she’s heartless.” He handed his son a cigar and snipped the end off one for himself. “We’ll be needing the Sawdust Pile now for a drying-yard,” he announced complacently.
“I mean, my son, that you’re dreaming of the impossible, and that it’s time for you to wake up. I want no row about it. I can’t bear to hear your mother and sisters carrying on longer. I’ll never get over thinking what a pity it is that girl is damaged goods. She must not be wife to son of mine.”
The young laird of Tyee bowed his head.
“I can’t give her up, father,” he murmured. “By God, I can’t!”
“There can be no happiness without honor, and you’ll not be the first to make our name a jest in the mouths of Port Agnew. You will write her and tell her of my decision; if you do not wish to, then I shall do it for you. Trust her to understand and not hold it against you. And it is my wish that you should not see her again. She must be cared for, but when that time comes, I shall attend to it; you know me well enough to realize I’ll do that well.” He laid his hand tenderly on the young man’s shoulder. “This is your first love, my son. Time and hard work will help you forget—and I’ll wait for my grandson.”
“And if I should not agree to this—what?”
“Obey me for a month—and then ask me that question if you will. I’m—I’m a bit unprepared for an answer on such short notice.”
Donald bowed his head.