When Donald started East for college, old Hector accompanied him as far as Seattle. On the way up, there was some man-talk between them. In his youth, old Hector had not been an angel, which is to state that he had been a lumberjack. He knew men and the passions that beset them—particularly when they are young and lusty—and he was far from being a prude. He expected his son to raise a certain amount of wild oats; nay, he desired it, for full well he knew that when the fires of youth are quenched, they are liable to flare disgracefully in middle life or old age.
“Never pig it, my son,” was his final admonition. “Raise hell if you must, but if you love your old father, be a gentleman about it. You’ve sprung from a clan o’ men, not mollycoddles.”
“Hence the expression: ‘When Hector was a pup,’” Donald replied laughingly. “Well, I’ll do my best, father—only, if I stub my toe, you mustn’t be too hard on me. Remember, please, that I’m only half Scotch.”
At parting, The Laird handed his son a check for twenty-five thousand dollars.
“This is the first year’s allowance, Donald,” he informed the boy gravely. “It should not require more than a hundred thousand dollars to educate a son of mine, and you must finish in four years. I would not care to think you dull or lazy.”
“Do you wish an accounting, father?”
The Laird shook his head.
“Keeping books was ever a sorry trade, my son. I’ll read the accounting in your eye when you come back to Port Agnew.”
“Oh!” said young Donald.
At the end of four years, Donald graduated, an honor-man in all his studies, and in the lobby of the gymnasium, where the athletic heroes of Princeton leave their record to posterity, Hector McKaye read his son’s name, for, of course, he was there for commencement. Then they spent a week together in New York, following which old Hector announced that one week of New York was about all he could stand. The tall timber was calling for him.
“Hoot, mon!” Donald protested gaily. He was a perfect mimic of Sir Harry Lauder at his broadest. “Y’eve nae had a bit holiday in all yer life. Wha’ spier ye, Hector McKaye, to a trip aroond the worl’, wi’ a wee visit tae the auld clan in the Hielands?”
“Will you come with me, son?” The Laird inquired eagerly.
“Certainly not! You shall come with me. This is to be my party.”
“Can you stand the pressure? I’m liable to prove an expensive traveling companion.”
“Well, there’s something radically wrong with both of us if we can’t get by on two hundred thousand dollars, dad.”
The Laird started, and then his Scotch sense of humor—and, for all the famed wit of the Irish, no humor on earth is so unctuous as that of the Scotch—commenced to bubble up. He suspected a joke on himself and was prepared to meet it.
“Will you demand an accounting, my son?”