“To give you my real reason would lead to endless argument in which you would oppose me with more or less sophistry that would be difficult to combat. In the end, we might lose our tempers. Let us say, therefore, that you must cease calling on the lass because I desire it.”
“I’ll never admit that I’m ashamed of her, for I am not!” his son burst forth passionately.
“But people are watching you now—talking about you. Man, do ye not ken you’re your father’s son?” A faint note of passion had crept into The Laird’s tones; under the stress of it, his faint Scotch brogue increased perceptibly. He had tried gentle argument, and he knew he had failed; in his desperation, he decided to invoke his authority as the head of his clan. “I forbid you!” he cried firmly, and slapped the huge leather arm of his chair. “I charge you, by the blood that’s in you, not to bring disgrace upon my house!”
A slight mistiness which Donald, with swelling heart, had noted in his father’s eyes a few moments before was now gone. They flashed like naked claymores in the glance that Andrew Daney once had so aptly described to his wife.
For the space of ten seconds, father and son looked into each other’s soul and therein each read the other’s answer. There could be no surrender.
“You have bred a man, sir, not a mollycoddle,” said the young laird quietly. “I think we understand each other.” He rose, drew the old man out of his chair, and threw a great arm across the latter’s shoulders. “Good-night, sir,” he murmured humbly, and squeezed the old shoulders a little.
The Laird bowed his head but did not answer. He dared not trust himself to do so. Thus Donald left him, standing in the middle of the room, with bowed head a trifle to one side, as if old Hector listened for advice from some unseen presence. The Laird of Tyee had thought he had long since plumbed the heights and depths of the joys and sorrows of fatherhood. The tears came presently.
A streak of moonlight filtered into the room as the moon sank in the sea and augmented the silver in a head that rested on two clasped hands, while Hector McKaye, kneeling beside his chair, prayed to his stern Presbyterian God once more to save his son from the folly of his love.
It had been Donald McKaye’s intention to go up to the logging-camp on the first log-train leaving for the woods at seven o’clock on Monday morning, but the news of Dirty Dan’s plight caused him to change his plans. Strangely enough, his interview with his father, instead of causing him the keenest mental distress, had been productive of a peculiar sense of peace. The frank, sympathetic, and temperate manner in which the old laird had discussed his affair had conduced to produce this feeling. He passed a restful night, as his father observed when the pair met at the breakfast-table.