When, presently, Donald bade him good-night, Hector McKaye turned off the lights and sat in the dark, gazing down across the moonlit Bight of Tyee to the sparks that flew upward from the stacks of his sawmill in Port Agnew, for they were running a night shift. And, as he gazed, he thrilled, with a fierce pride and a joy that was almost pain, in the knowledge that he had reared a merchant prince for this, his principality of Tyee.
Hector McKaye had always leaned toward the notion that he could run Port Agnew better than a mayor and a town council, in addition to deriving some fun out of it; consequently, Port Agnew had never been incorporated. And this was an issue it was not deemed wise to press, for The Tyee Lumber Company owned every house and lot in town, and Hector McKaye owned every share of stock in the Tyee Lumber Company.
If he was a sort of feudal baron, he was a gentle and kindly one; large building-plots, pretty little bungalows, cheap rentals, and no taxation constituted a social condition that few desired to change. As these few developed and The Laird discovered them, their positions in his employ, were forfeited, their rents raised, or their leases canceled, and presently Port Agnew knew them no more. He paid fair wages, worked his men nine hours, and employed none but naturalized Americans, with a noticeable predilection for those of Scotch nativity or ancestry.
Strikes or lockouts were unknown in Port Agnew—likewise saloons. Unlike most sawmill towns of that period, Port Agnew had no street in which children were forbidden to play or which mothers taught their daughters to avoid. Once an I.W.W. organizer came to town, and upon being ordered out and refusing to go, The Laird, then past fifty, had ducked him in the Skookum until he changed his mind.
The Tyee Lumber Company owned and operated the local telephone company, the butcher shop, the general store, the hotel, a motion-picture theater, a town hall, the bank, and the electric-light-and-power plant, and with the profits from these enterprises, Port Agnew had paved streets, sidewalks lined with handsome electroliers, and a sewer system. It was an admirable little sawmill town, and if the expenses of maintaining it exceeded the income, The Laird met the deficit and assumed all the worry, for he wanted his people to be happy and prosperous beyond all others.
It pleased Hector McKaye to make an occasion of his abdication and Donald’s accession to the presidency of the Tyee Lumber Company. The Dreamerie was not sufficiently large for his purpose, however, for he planned to entertain all of his subjects at a dinner and make formal announcement of the change. So he gave a barbecue in a grove of maples on the edge of the town. His people received in silence the little speech he made them, for they were loath to lose The Laird. They knew him, while Donald they had not known for five years, and there were many who feared that the East might have changed him. Consequently, when his father called him up to the little platform from which he spoke, they received the young laird in silence also.