“Out of this office! You’re fired.”
Mr. Daney dashed the tears from his whiskers and blew his nose. Then he pulled himself together with dignity and bowed so low he lost his center of gravity and teetered a little on his toes before recovering his balance. “Fired is GOOD,” he declared. “Where do you get that stuff, eh? My dear old Furiosity, ain’t my resignation in the waste-basket? Good-by, good luck and may the good Lord give you the sense God gives geese. I’m a better man than you are, Gunga Din.”
The door banged open. Then it banged shut and The Laird was alone. The incident was closed. The impossible had come to pass. For the strain had been too great, and at nine o’clock on a working day morning, steady, reliable, dependable, automatic Andrew Daney having imbibed Dutch courage in lieu of Nature’s own brand, was, for the first time in his life, jingled to an extent comparable to that of a boiled owl.
Mr. Daney’s assistant thrust his head in the door, to disturb The Laird’s cogitations. “The knee-bolters went out at the shingle mill this morning, sir,” he announced. “They want a six and a half hour day and a fifty per cent. increase in wages, with a whole holiday on Saturday. There’s a big Russian red down there exhorting them.”
“Send Dirty Dan to me. Quick!”
A telephonic summons to the loading shed brought Daniel P. O’Leary on the run. “Come with me, Dan,” The Laird commanded, and started for the shingle mill. On the way down he stopped at the warehouse and selected a new double-bitted ax which he handed to Dirty Dan. Mr. O’Leary received the weapon in silence and trotted along at The Laird’s heels like a faithful dog, until, upon arrival at the shingle mill the astute Hibernian took in the situation at a glance.
“Sure, ‘tis no compliment you’ve paid me, sor, thinkin’ I’ll be afther needin’ an ax to take that fella’s measure,” he protested.
“Your job is to keep those other animals off me while I take his measure,” The Laird corrected him.
Without an instant’s hesitation Dirty Dan swung his ax and charged the crowd. “Gower that, ye vagabones,” he screeched. As he passed the Russian he seized the latter by the collar, swung him and threw him bodily toward old Hector, who received him greedily and drew him to his heart. The terrible O’Leary then stood over the battling pair, his ax poised, the while he hurled insult and anathema at the knee-bolters. A very large percentage of knee-bolters and shingle weavers are members of the I.W.W. and knowing this, Mr. O’Leary begged in dulcet tones, to be informed why in this and that nobody seemed willing to lift a hand to rescue the Little Comrade. He appeared to be keenly disappointed because nobody tried, albeit other axes were quite plentiful thereabouts.
Presently The Laird got up and dusted the splinters and sawdust from his clothing; the Red, battered terribly, lay weltering in his blood. “I feel better now,” said The Laird. “This is just what I needed this morning to bring me out of myself. Help yourself, Dan,” and he made a dive at the nearest striker, who fled, followed by his fellow-strikers, all hotly pursued by The Laird and the demon Daniel.