But the doctor would take no liberties with the life-blood of the heir of Tyee until he had telephoned to The Laird.
“My son is the captain of his own soul,” old Hector answered promptly. “You just see that you do your job well; don’t hurt the boy or weaken him too greatly.”
An hour after the operation, father and son sat beside Dirty Dan’s bed. Presently, the ivory-tinted eyelids flickered slightly, whereat old Hector winked sagely at his son. Then Dirty Dan’s whiskered upper lip twisted humorously, and he whispered audibly:
“Ye young divil! Oh-ho, ye young vagabond! Faith, if The Laird knew what ye’re up to this night, he’d—break yer—back—in two halves!”
Hector McKaye glanced apprehensively about, but the nurse had left the room. He bent over Dirty Dan.
“Shut up!” he commanded. “Don’t tell everything you know!”
O’Leary promptly opened his eyes and gazed upon The Laird in profound puzzlement.
[Illustration: DONALD BOWED HIS HEAD. “I CAN’T GIVE HER UP, FATHER.”]
“Wild horrses couldn’t dhrag it out o’ me,” he protested. “Ask me no questions an’ I’ll tell ye no lies.”
He subsided into unconsciousness again. The doctor entered and felt of his pulse.
“On the up-grade,” he announced. “He’ll do.”
“Dan will obey the voice of authority, even in his delirium,” The Laird whispered to his son, when they found themselves alone with the patient once more. “I’ll stay here until he wakes up rational, and silence him if, in the mean time, he babbles. Run along home, lad.”
At noon, Dirty Dan awoke with the light of reason and belligerency in his eyes, whereupon The Laird questioned him, and developed a stubborn reticence which comforted the former to such a degree that he decided to follow his son home to The Dreamerie.
A week elapsed before Hector McKaye would permit his son to return to his duties. By that time, the slight wound in the latter’s arm where the vein had been opened had practically healed. Dirty Dan continued to improve, passed the danger-mark, and began the upward climb to his old vigor and pugnacity. Port Agnew, stirred to discussion over the affray, forgot it within three days, and on the following Monday morning Donald returned to the woods. The Laird of Tyee carried his worries to the Lord in prayer, and Nan Brent frequently forgot her plight and sang with something of the joy of other days.
A month passed. During that month, Donald had visited the Sawdust Pile once and had written Nan thrice. Also, Mrs. Andrew Daney, hard beset because of her second experience with the “Blue Bonnet” glance of a McKaye, had decided to remove herself from the occasions of gossip and be in a position to claim an alibi in the event of developments. So she abandoned Daney to the mercies of a Japanese cook and departed for Whatcom to visit a married daughter. From Whatcom, she wrote her husband that she was enjoying her visit so much she hadn’t the slightest idea when she would return, and, for good and sufficient reasons, Daney did not urge her to change her mind.