The Laird ran blindly, apprehensively, but for a very short distance. Suddenly he bumped into something quite solid, which closed around him viciously. “Halt, damn you,” a commanding voice cried.
Despite his years, Hector McKaye was no weakling, and in the knowledge that he could not afford to be captured and discovered, seemingly he slipped forty years from his shoulders. Once more he was a lumberjack, the top dog of his district—and he proceeded to fight like one. His old arms rained punches on the midriff of the man who held him and he knew they stung cruelly, for at every punch the man grunted and strove to clinch him tighter and smother the next blow. “Let go me or I’ll kill you,” The Laird panted. “Man dinna drive me to it.” He ceased his rain of blows, grasped his adversary and tried to wrestle him down. He succeeded, but the man would not stay down. He wriggled out with amazing ease and had old Hector with his shoulders touching before The Laird’s heaving chest and two terrible thumbs closed down on each of The Laird’s eyes, with four powerful fingers clasping his face like talons. “Quit, or I’ll squeeze your eyeballs out,” a voice warned him.
The Laird’s hand beat the ground beside him. He had surrendered to a master of his style of fighting. With something of the air of an expert, his conqueror ran a quick hand over him, seeking for weapons, and finding none, he grasped The Laird by the collar and jerked him to his feet. “Now, then, my hearty, I’ll have a look at you,” he said. “You’ll explain why you’re skulking around here and abusing that dog!”
The Laird quivered as he found himself being dragged toward the stream of light, in the center of which Nan Brent stood silhouetted. He could not afford this and he was not yet defeated.
“A thousand dollars if you let me go now,” he panted. “I have the money in my pocket. Ask yon lass if I’ve done aught wrong.”
His captor paused and seemed to consider this. “Make it ten thousand and I’ll consider it,” he whispered. “Leave it on the mail box just outside the Tyee Lumber Company’s office at midnight to-morrow night.”
“I’ll do it—so help me God,” The Laird promised frantically.
His son’s voice spoke in his ear. “Dad! You low-down, worthless lovable old fraud!”
“My son! My son!” Old Hector’s glad cry ended in a sob. “Oh, my sonny boy, my bonny lad! I canna stand it. I canna! Forgie me, lad, forgie me—and ask her to forgie me!” His old arms were around his son’s neck and he was crying on Donald’s shoulder, unashamed. “I was trying for a look at the bairn,” he cried brokenly, “and ’twas a privilege God would nae gie me seeing that I came like a sneak and not like an honest man. The damned dog—he knew! Och, Donald, say ye forgie ye’re auld faither. Say it, lad. Ma heart’s breakin’.”
“Why, bless your bare-shanked old Scotch soul, of course I forgive you. I never held any grudge, you know. I simply stood pat until you could see things through my eyes.”