“Ah, just wait,” old Brent promised. “I know how to make things neat and pretty and keep them shipshape. You just keep your eye on the Sawdust Pile, sir.” The old wind-bitten face flushed with pride; the faded sea-blue eyes shone with joyous anticipation. “I’ve observed your pride in your town, sir, and before I get through, I’ll have a prettier place than the best of them.”
A few days later, The Laird looked across the Bight of Tyee from his home on Tyee Head, and through his marine glasses studied the Sawdust Pile. He chuckled as he observed that the ramshackle shanty had disappeared almost as soon as it had been started and in its place a small cottage was being erected. There was a pile of lumber in the yard—bright lumber, fresh from the saws—and old Caleb Brent and the motherless Nan were being assisted by two carpenters on the Tyee Lumber Company’s pay-roll.
When Donald came home from school that night, The Laird asked him about the inhabitants of the Sawdust Pile with relation to the lumber and the two carpenters.
“Oh, I made a trade with Mr. Brent and Nan. I’m to furnish the lumber and furniture for the house, and those two carpenters weren’t very busy, so Mr. Daney told me I could have them to help out. In return, Mr. Brent is going to build me a sloop and teach me how to sail it.”
The Laird nodded.
“When his little home is completed, Donald,” he suggested presently, “you might take old Brent and his girl over to our old house in town and let them have what furniture they require. See if you cannot manage to saw off some of your mother’s antiques on them,” added whimsically. “By the way, what kind of shanty is old Brent going to build?”
“A square house with five rooms and a cupola fitted up like a pilot-house. There’s to be a flagpole on the cupola, and Nan says they’ll have colors every night and morning. That means that you hoist the flag in the morning and salute it, and when you haul it down at night, you salute it again. They do that up at the Bremerton navy-yard.”
“That’s rather a nice, sentimental idea,” Hector McKaye replied. “I rather like old Brent and his girl for that. We Americans are too prone to take our flag and what it stands for rather lightly.”
“Nan wants me to have colors up here, too,” Donald continued. “Then she can see our flag, and we can see theirs across the bight.”
“All right,” The Laird answered heartily, for he was always profoundly interested in anything that interested his boy. “I’ll have the woods boss get out a nice young cedar with, say, a twelve-inch butt, and we’ll make it into a flagpole.”
“If we’re going to do the job navy-fashion, we ought to fire a sunrise and sunset gun,” Donald suggested with all the enthusiasm of his sixteen years.
“Well, I think we can afford that, too, Donald.”