“Well, I approve of your sentiments, Donald, but, nevertheless, it’s a poor practise for a gentleman to fight with a mucker, although,” he added whimsically, “when I was your age I always enjoyed a go with such fellows. That man you just roughed is George Chirakes, and he’s a bad one. Knifed three of his countrymen in a drunken riot in Darrow last fall, but got out of it on a plea of self-defense. Keep your eye on the brute. He may try to play even, although there’s no real courage in his kind. They’re born bushwhackers,” The Laird glanced at his watch and saw that it still lacked eight minutes of train-time. “Wait for me a minute,” he told his son. “I want to telephone Daney on a little matter I overlooked this afternoon.”
He entered the telephone-booth in the station and called up Andrew Daney.
“McKaye speaking,” he announced. “I’ve just discovered Donald has an enemy—that Greek, Chirakes, from Darrow. Did Dirty Dan come in from the woods to-night?”
“I believe he did. He usually comes in at week-ends.”
“Look him up immediately, and tell him to keep an eye on Donald, and not to let him out of his sight until the boy boards the logging-train to-morrow night to go back to the woods. Same thing next week-end, and when Donald completes his tour of duty in the woods, transfer Dan from the logging-camp and give him a job in the mill, so he can watch over the boy when he’s abroad nights. He is not, of course, to let my son know he is under surveillance.”
“I will attend to the matter immediately,” Daney promised, and The Laird, much relieved, hung up and rejoined his son.
“Take care of yourself—and watch that Greek, boy,” he cautioned, as he swung aboard the train.
Donald stood looking after the train until the tail-lights had disappeared round a curve.
Daney readily discovered in a pool-hall the man he sought. “Dirty Dan” O’Leary was a chopper in the McKaye employ, and had earned his sobriquet, not because he was less cleanly than the average lumberjack but because he was what his kind described as a “dirty” fighter. That is to say, when his belligerent disposition led him into battle, which it frequently did, Mr. O’Leary’s instinct was to win, quickly and decisively, and without consideration of the niceties of combat, for a primitive person was Dirty Dan. Fast as a panther, he was as equally proficient in the use of all his extremities, and, if hard pressed, would use his teeth. He was a stringy, big-boned man of six feet, and much too tall for his weight, wherefore belligerent strangers were sometimes led to the erroneous conclusion that Mr. O’Leary would not be hard to upset. In short, he was a wild, bad Irishman who had gotten immovably fixed in his head an idea that old Hector McKaye was a “gr-rand gintleman,” and a gr-rand gintleman was one of the three things that Dirty Dan would fight for, the other two being his personal safety and the love of battle.