“Tut, tut, woman,” he replied carelessly, “this is no news to me. He told me yesterday after service that he had the job.”
The familiar wrinkle appeared for an instant on the end of her nose before she continued: “I wonder what The Laird thinks of that, Andrew?”
“So do I,” he parried skilfully.
“Does he know it?”
“There isn’t a soul in Port Agnew with sufficient courage to tell him.”
“Why do you not tell him?”
“None of my business. Besides, I do not hanker to see people squirm with suffering.”
She wrinkled her nose once more and was silent.
As Mr. Daney had declared, there was none in Port Agnew possessed of sufficient hardihood to inform the Laird of his son’s lowly status and it was three weeks before he discovered it for himself. He had gone up the river to one of his logging camps and the humor had seized him to make the trip in a fast little motor-boat he had given Donald at Christmas many years’ before. He was busy adjusting the carburetor, after months of disuse, as he passed the Darrow log boom in the morning, so he failed to see his big son leaping across the logs, balancing himself skilfully with the pike pole.
It was rather late when he started home and in the knowledge that darkness might find him well up the river he hurried.
Now, from the Bight of Tyee to a point some five miles above Darrow, the Skookum flows in almost a straight line; the few bends are wide and gradual, and when The Laird came to this home-stretch he urged the boat to its maximum speed of twenty-eight miles per hour. Many a time in happier days he had raced down this long stretch with Donald at the helm, and he knew the river thoroughly; as he sped along he steered mechanically, his mind occupied in a consideration of the dishonor that had come upon his clan.
The sun had already set as he came roaring down a wide deep stretch near Darrow’s mill; in his preoccupation he forgot that his competitor’s log boom stretched across the river fully two-thirds of its width; that he should throttle down, swerve well to starboard and avoid the field of stored logs. The deep shadows cast by the sucker growth and old snags along the bank blended with the dark surface of the log boom and prevented him from observing that he was headed for the heart of it; the first intimation he had of his danger came to him in a warning shout from the left bank—a shout that rose above the roar of the exhaust.
“Jump! Overboard! Quickly! The log boom!”
Old Hector awoke from his bitter reverie. He, who had once been a river hog, had no need to be told of the danger incident to abrupt precipitation into the heart of that log boom, particularly when it would presently be gently agitated by the long high “bone” the racing boat carried in her teeth. When logs weighing twenty tons come gently together—even when they barely rub against each other, nothing living caught between them may survive.