He knelt and took both outcasts in his great strong arms, and for a long time held them in a silence more eloquent than words.
“Well, my dear,” she said presently, “aren’t you going to tell me all about it?”
That was the woman of it. She knew.
“I’m terribly unhappy,” he replied. “Dad and I had a definite show-down after the funeral. His order—not request—is that I shall not call here again.”
“Your father is thinking with his head; so he thinks clearly. You, poor dear, are thinking with your heart controlling your head. Of course you’ll obey your father. You cannot consider doing anything else.”
“I’m not going to give you up,” he asserted doggedly.
“Yes; you are going to give me up, dear heart,” she replied evenly. “Because I’m going to give you up, and you’re much too fine to make it hard for me to do that.”
“I’ll not risk your contempt for my weakness. It would be a weakness—a contemptible trick—if I should desert you now.”
“Your family has a greater claim on you, Donald. You were born to a certain destiny—to be a leader of men, to develop your little world, and make of it a happier place for men and women to dwell in. So, dear love, you’re just going to buck up and be spunky and take up your big life-task and perform it like the gentleman you are.”
“But what is to become of you?” he demanded, in desperation.
“I do not know. It is a problem I am not going to consider very seriously for at least a month. Of course I shall leave Port Agnew, but before I do, I shall have to make some clothes for baby and myself.”
“I told my father I would give him a definite answer regarding you in a month, Nan. I’m going up in the woods and battle this thing out by myself.”
“Please go home and give him a definite answer to-night. You have not the right to make him suffer so,” she pleaded.
“I’m not prepared to-night to abandon you, Nan. I must have some time to get inured to the prospect.”
“Did you come over to-night to tell me good-by before going back to the woods, Donald?”
He nodded, and deliberately she kissed him with great tenderness.
“Then—good-by, sweetheart,” she whispered. “In our case, the least said is soonest mended. And please do not write to me. Keep me out of your thoughts for a month, and perhaps I’ll stay out.”
“No hope,” he answered, with a lugubrious smile. “However, I’ll be as good as I can. And I’ll not write. But—when I return from that month of exile, do not be surprised if I appear to claim you for good or for evil, for better or for worse.”
She kissed him again—hurriedly—and pressed him gently from her, as if his persistence gave her cause for apprehension.
“Dear old booby!” she murmured. “Run along home now, won’t you, please?”
So he went, wondering why he had come, and the following morning, still wrapped in a mental fog, he departed for the logging-camp, but not until his sister Jane had had her long-deferred inning. While he was in the garage at The Dreamerie, warming up his car, Jane appeared and begged him to have some respect for the family, even though, apparently, he had none for himself. Concluding a long and bitter tirade, she referred to Nan as “that abandoned girl.”