Now, Mr. Daney wisely held, in contradiction to any number of people not quite so hard-headed as he, that absence does not tend to make the heart grow fonder—particularly if sufficient hard work and worry can be supplied to prevent either party to the separation thinking too long or too intensely of the absentee. Within a decent period following Nan’s hoped-for departure from Port Agnew, Mr. Daney planned to impress upon The Laird the desirability of a trip to the Orient, while he, Daney, upon the orders of a nerve-specialist, took a long sea voyage. Immediately the entire burden of seeing that the Tyee Lumber Company functioned smoothly and profitably would fall upon Donald’s young and somewhat inexperienced shoulders. In the meantime, what with The Laird’s money and the employment of a third party or parties, it would be no trick at all to induce Nan Brent to move so far from Port Agnew that Donald could not, in justice to his business interests, desert those interests in order to pay his court to her.
“Dog my cats!” Mr. Daney murmured, at the end of a long period of perplexity. “I have to force the girl out of Port Agnew, and I can never do so while that motor-boat continues to pay her eighty dollars a month. She cannot exist on eighty dollars a month elsewhere, but she can manage very nicely on it here. And yet, even with that confounded charter canceled, we’re stuck with the girl. She cannot leave Port Agnew without sufficient funds to carry her through for a while, and she’d die before she’d accept the gift of a penny from anybody in Port Agnew, particularly the McKayes. Even a loan from The Laird would be construed as a roundabout way of buying her off.”
Mr. Daney pondered his problem until he was almost tempted to butt his poor head against the office wall, goat-fashion, in an attempt to stimulate some new ideas worth while. Nevertheless, one night he wakened from a sound sleep and found himself sitting up in bed, the possessor of a plan so flawless that, in sheer amazement, he announced aloud that he would be—jiggered. Some cunning little emissary of the devil must have crept in through his ear while he slept and planted the brilliant idea in Mr. Daney’s brain.
Eventually, Mr. Daney lay down again. But he could not go to sleep; so he turned on the electric bedside-lamp and looked at his watch. It was midnight and at midnight no living creature, save possibly an adventurous or amorous cat, moved in Port Agnew; so Mr. Daney dressed, crept down-stairs on velvet feet, in order not to disturb the hired girl, and stepped forth into the night. Ten minutes later, he was down at the municipal garbage-barge, moored to the bulkhead of piles along the bank of the Skookum.