“Well, the Tyee Lumber Company used reasonable care to conserve your property, and while there’s a question whether the company’s responsible for the loss of the boat if it’s been stolen, even while under charter to us, nevertheless, you will be reimbursed for the value of the boat. Your father had it up for sale last year. Do you recall the price he was asking?”
“He was asking considerably less than he really believed the Brutus to be worth,” Nan replied honestly. “He would have sold for fifteen hundred dollars, but the Brutus was worth at least twenty-five hundred. Values shrink, you know, when one requires ready cash. And I do not agree with you that no responsibility attaches to the Tyee Lumber Company, although, under the circumstances, it appears there is no necessity for argument.”
“We’ll pay twenty-five hundred rather than descend to argument,” Daney replied crisply, “although personally I am of the opinion that two thousand would be ample.” He coughed a propitiatory cough and looked round the Sawdust Pile appraisingly. “May I inquire, my girl,” he asked presently, “what are your plans for the future?”
“Certainly, Mr. Daney. I have none.”
“It would be a favor to the Tyee Lumber Company if you had, and that they contemplated removal to some other house. The Laird had planned originally to use the Sawdust Pile for a drying-yard”—he smiled faintly—“but abandoned the idea rather than interfere with your father’s comfort. Of course, The Laird hasn’t any more title to the Sawdust Pile than you have—not as much, in fact, for I do believe you could make a squatter’s right stick in any court. Just at present, however, we have greater need of the Sawdust Pile than ever. We’re getting out quite a lot of airplane spruce for the British government, and since there’s no doubt we’ll be into the war ourselves one of these days, we’ll have to furnish additional spruce for our own government. Spruce has to be air-dried, you know, to obtain the best results, and—well, we really need the Sawdust Pile. What will you take to abandon, it and leave us in undisputed possession?”
“Nothing, Mr. Daney.”
“Precisely—nothing. We have always occupied it on The Laird’s sufferance, so I do not think, Mr. Daney,” she explained, with a faint smile, “that I shall turn pirate and ingrate now. If you will be good enough to bring me over twenty-five hundred dollars in cash to-day, I will give you a clearance for the loss of the Brutus and abandon the Sawdust Pile to you within the next three or four days.”
His plan had worked so successfully that Daney was, for the moment, rendered incapable of speech.
“Will you be leaving Port Agnew?” he sputtered presently. “Or can I arrange to let you have a small house at a modest rental—”
She dissipated this verbal camouflage with a disdainful motion of her upflung hand.