“He’s a new hand, I believe. Lives in Port Agnew. I believe your man Daney can tell you his name,” Darrow replied evasively.
“I’ll ask Daney. The man was gone before I could recover enough breath to thank him for my life. Sorry to have messed up your boom, Bert, but we’ll stop the runaways at my boom and I’ll have them towed back in the morning. And I’ll have a man put in a new boom-stick and connect it up again.”
Bert Darrow set him down at the Tyee Lumber Company’s office, and wet and chilled as he was, The Laird went at once to Mr. Daney’s office. The latter was just leaving it for the day when The Laird appeared.
“Andrew,” the latter began briskly. “I drove that fast motor-boat at full speed into Darrow’s boom on my way down river this evening; I’ve had a ducking and only for Darrow’s raftsman you’d be closing down the mill to-morrow out of respect to my memory. Bert Darrow says their raftsman used to work for us; he’s a new man with them and Bert says you know who he is.”
“I think I know the man,” Mr. Daney replied thoughtfully. “He’s been with them about three weeks; resigned our employ a couple of weeks before that. I was sorry to lose him. He’s a good man.”
“I grant it, Andrew. He’s the fastest, coolest hand that ever balanced a pike pole or rode a log. We cannot afford to let men like that fellow get away from us for the sake of a little extra pay. Get him back on the pay-roll, Andrew, and don’t be small with him. I’ll remember him handsomely at Christmas, and see that I do not forget this, Andrew. What is his name?”
“Let me think.” Mr. Daney bent his head, tipped back his hat and massaged his brow before replying. “I think that when he worked for the Tyee Lumber Company he was known as Donald McKaye.”
He looked up. The old Laird’s face was ashen. “Thank you, Andrew,” he managed to murmur presently. “Perhaps you’d better let Darrow keep him for a while. G—g—good-night!”
Outside, his chauffeur waited with his car. “Home—and be quick about it,” he mumbled and crawled into the tonneau slowly and weakly. As the car rolled briskly up the high cliff road to The Dreamerie, the old man looked far below him to the little light that twinkled on the Sawdust Pile.
“She’ll have his dinner cooked for him now and be waiting and watching for him,” he thought.
Hector McKaye suffered that winter. He dwelt in Gethsemane, for he had incurred to his outcast son the greatest debt that one man can incur to another, and he could not publicly acknowledge the debt or hope to repay it in kind. By the time spring came his heart hunger was almost beyond control; there were times when, even against his will, he contemplated a reconciliation with Donald based on an acceptance of the latter’s wife but with certain reservations. The Laird never quite got around to defining the reservation but in a vague way he felt that they should exist and that eventually Donald would come to a realization of the fact and help him define them.