Poor Jane! Hardly had she uttered the words before her father appeared in the door of the garage.
“One year, Janey,” he announced composedly. “And I’d be pleased to see the photograph o’ the human being that’ll make me revoke that sentence. I’m fair weary having my work spoiled by women’s tongues.”
“I’ll give you my photograph, old pepper-pot,” Donald suggested. “I have great influence with you have I not?”
The Laird looked up at him with a fond grin.
“Well?” he parried.
“You will remit the sentence to one washing of the mouth with soap and water to cleanse it of those horrid words you just listened to.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” the stern old man answered. “Janey, you may have your choice, since Donald has interceded for you.”
But Jane maintained a freezing silence and swept out of the garage with a mien that proclaimed her belief that her brother and father were too vulgar and plebeian for her.
“I’m having the deil’s own time managing my family,” old Hector complained, “but I’ll have obedience and kindness and justice in my household, or know the reason why. Aye—and a bit of charity,” he added grimly. He stood beside the automobile and held up his hand up for his son’s. “And you’ll be gone a month, lad?” he queried.
“Too painful—this coming home week-ends,” he explained. “And Nan has requested that I see no more of her. You have a stanch ally in her, dad. She’s for you all the way.”
Relief showed in his father’s troubled face.
“I’m glad to know that,” he replied. “You’re the one that’s bringing me worry and breaking down her good resolutions and common sense.” He leaned a little closer, first having satisfied himself, by a quick, backward glance, that none of the women of the family was eavesdropping, and whispered: “I’m trying to figure out a nice way to be kind to her and give her a good start in life without insulting her. If you should have a clear thought on the subject, I’d like your advice, son. ’Twould hurt me to have her think I was trying to buy her off.”
“As I view the situation, all three of us have to figure our own angles for ourselves. However, if a happy thought should dawn on me, I’ll write you. Think it over a few weeks, and then do whatever seems best.”
So they parted.
A few days subsequent to Andrew Daney’s secret scuttling of the motor-boat Brutus, Nan Brent was amazed to receive a visit from him.
“Good-morning, Nan,” he saluted her. “I have bad news for you.”
“What, pray?” she managed to articulate. She wondered if Donald had been injured up in the woods.
“Your motor-boat’s gone.”
This was, indeed, bad news. Trouble showed in Nan’s face.
“Gone where?” she faltered.
“Nobody knows. It disappeared from the garbage-barge, alongside of which it was moored. I’ve had men searching for it two days, but we’ve given it up as lost. Was the Brutus, by any chance, insured against theft?”