Then he wired Andrew Daney a long telegram of instructions and a stiff raise in salary.
“The boy has a head like a tar-bucket,” he concluded. “Everything I ever put into it has stuck. We are going to frolic round the world together, and we will be home when we get back.”
Donald was twenty-four and The Laird fifty-eight when the pair returned from their frolic round the world—Donald to take up this father’s labors, The Laird to lay them aside and retire to The Dreamerie and the books he had accumulated against this happy afterglow of a busy and fruitful life.
Donald’s mother and sisters were at The Dreamerie the night the father and son arrived. Of late years, they had spent less and less of their time there. The Laird had never protested, for he could not blame them for wearying of a little backwoods sawmill town like Port Agnew.
With his ability to think calmly, clearly, and unselfishly, he had long since realized that eventually his girls must marry; now Elizabeth was twenty-six and Jane twenty-eight, and Mrs. McKaye was beginning to be greatly concerned for their future. Since The Laird had built The Dreamerie in opposition to their wishes, they had spent less than six months in each year at Port Agnew. And these visits had been scattered throughout the year. They had traveled much, and, when not traveling, they lived in the Seattle house and were rather busy socially. Despite his devotion to his business, however, The Laird found time to spend at least one week in each month with them in Seattle, in addition to the frequent business trips which took him there.
That night of his home-coming was the happiest The Laird had ever known, for it marked the culmination of his lifetime of labor and dreams. Long after his wife and the girls had retired, he and Donald sat in the comfortable living-room, smoking and discussing plans for the future, until presently, these matters having been discussed fully, there fell a silence between them, to be broken presently by The Laird.
“I’m wondering, Donald, if you haven’t met some bonny lass you’d like to bring home to Port Agnew. You realize, of course, that there’s room on Tyee Head for another Dreamerie, although I built this one for you—and her.”
“There’ll be no other house on Tyee Head, father,” Donald answered, “unless you care to build one for mother and the girls. The wife that I’ll bring home to Port Agnew will not object to my father in my house.” He smiled and added, “You’re not at all hard to get along with, you know.”
The Laird’s eyes glistened.
“Have you found her yet, my son?”
Donald shook his head in negation.
“Then look for her,” old Hector ordered. “I have no doubt that, when you find her, she’ll be worthy of you. I’m at an age now when a man looks no longer into the future but dwells in the past, and it’s hard for me to think of you, big man that you are, as anything save a wee laddie trotting at my side. Now, if I had a grandson—”