The Laird nodded.
“Curiosity killed a cat, my son, and I’m not as young as I used to be.”
“I had thought you’d have read the accounting in my eye. Take another look, Hector McKaye.” And Donald thrust his smiling countenance close to his father’s.
“I see naught in your eye but deviltry and jokes.”
“None are so blind as they that will not see. If you see a joke, dad, it’s on you.”
Old Hector blinked, then suddenly he sprang at his son, grasped him by the shoulders, and backed him against the wall.
“Did you sell me that red cedar?” he demanded incredulously.
“Aye, mon; through an agent,” Donald burred Scottishly. “A’ did nae ha’ the heart tae stick my faither sae deep for a bit skulin’. A’m a prood man, Hector McKaye; a’ll nae take a grrand eeducashun at sic a price. ’Tis nae Christian.”
“Ah, my bonny bairn!” old Hector murmured happily, and drew his fine son to his heart. “What a grand joke to play on your puir old father! Och, mon, was there ever a lad like mine?”
“I knew you’d buy that timber for an investment if I offered it cheap enough,” Donald explained. “Besides, I owed you a poke. You wanted to be certain you hadn’t reared a jackass instead of a man, so you gave me a hundred thousand dollars and stood by to see what I’d do with it—didn’t you, old Scotty?” Hector nodded a trifle guiltily. “Andrew Daney wrote me you swore by all your Highland clan that the man who sold you that red cedar was ripe for the fool-killer.”
“Tush, tush!” The Laird protested. “You’re getting personal now. I dislike to appear inquisitive, but might I ask what you’ve done with your two hundred thousand profit?”
“Well, you see, dad, I would have felt a trifle guilty had I kept it, so I blew it all in on good, conservative United States bonds, registered them in your name, and sent them to Daney to hide in your vault at Port Agnew.”
“Ah, well, red cedar or bonds, ’twill all come back to you some day, sonny. The real profit’s in the fun—”
“And the knowledge that I’m not a fool—eh, father?”
Father love supernal gleamed in The Laird’s fine gray eyes.
“Were you a fool, my son, and all that I have in the world would cure you if thrown into the Bight of Tyee, I’d gladly throw it and take up my life where I began it—with pike-pole and peavy, double-bitted ax, and cross-cut saw. However, since you’re not a fool, I intend to continue to enjoy my son. We’ll go around the world together.”
Thus did the experiment end. At least, Donald thought so. But when he left the hotel a few minutes later to book two passages to Europe, The Laird of Tyee suddenly remembered that thanks were due his Presbyterian God. So he slid to his old knees beside his bed and murmured:
“Lord, I thank thee! For the sake of thine own martyred Son, set angels to guard him and lead him in the path of manly honor that comes at last to thy kingdom. Amen.”