“I’ll give you another little tale in return, dad,” Donald replied, endeavoring to meet his father’s cheerful manner. “While we were away, a colony of riffraff from Darrow jumped old Caleb Brent’s Sawdust Pile, and Daney was weak enough to let them get away with it. I’m somewhat surprised. Daney knew your wishes in the matter; if he had forgotten them, he might have remembered mine, and if he had forgotten both, it would have been the decent thing to have thrown them out on his own responsibility.”
So that was what lay at the bottom of his son’s perturbation! The Laird was relieved.
“Andrew’s a good man, but he always needed a leader, Donald,” he replied. “If he didn’t lack initiative, he would have been his own man long ago. I hope you did not chide him for it, lad.”
“No; I did not. He’s old enough to be my father, and, besides, he’s been in the Tyee Lumber Company longer than I. I did itch to give him a rawhiding, though.”
“I saw smoke and excitement down at the Sawdust Pile this morning, Donald. I dare say you rectified Andrew’s negligence.”
“I did. The Sawdust Pile is as clean as a hound’s tooth.”
Jane looked up from her plate.
“I hope you sent that shameless Brent girl away, too,” she announced, with the calm attitude of one whose own virtue is above reproach.
Donald glared at her.
“Of course I did not!” he retorted. “How thoroughly unkind and uncharitable of you, Jane, to hope I would be guilty of such a cruel and unmanly action!”
The Laird waved his carving-knife.
“Hear, hear!” he chuckled. “Spoken like a man, my son. Jane, my dear, if I were you, I wouldn’t press this matter further. It’s a delicate subject.”
“I’m sure I do not see why Jane should not be free to express her opinion, Hector.” Mrs. McKaye felt impelled to fly to the defense of her daughter. “You know as well as we do, Hector, that the Brent girl is quite outside the pale of respectable society.”
“We shall never agree on what constitutes ‘respectable society,’ Nellie,” The Laird answered whimsically. “There are a few in that Seattle set of yours I find it hard to include in that category.”
“Oh, they’re quite respectable, father,” Donald protested.
“Indeed they are, Donald! Hector, you amaze me,” Mrs. McKaye chided.
“They have too much money to be anything else,” Donald added, and winked at his father.
“Tush, tush, lad!” the old man murmured. “We shall get nowhere with such arguments. The world has been at that line of conversation for two thousand years, and the issue’s still in doubt. Nellie, will you have a piece of the well-done?”
“You and your father are never done joining forces against me,” Mrs. McKaye protested, and in her voice was the well-known note that presaged tears should she be opposed further. The Laird, all too familiar with this truly feminine type of tyranny, indicated to his son, by a lightning wink, that he desired the conversation diverted into other channels, whereupon Donald favored his mother with a disarming smile.