She interrupted him.
“No, no, Mr. McKaye; there can be no talk of money between us. I cannot and will not take your son—for his sake, and for my own sake I cannot and will not accept of your kindness. Somehow, some place, I’m going to paddle my own canoe.”
“Guid lass; guid lass,” he whispered huskily. “Remember, then, if your canoe upsets and spills you, a wire to me will right you, and no questions asked. Good-by, my dear, and good luck to you!”
He pressed her hand, lifted his hat, and walked briskly away in the direction of The Tyee Lumber Company’s office, quite oblivious of the fact that his interview with Nan Brent had been observed by a person to whom the gods had given at birth a more than average propensity of intrigue, romance, and general cussedness—Mr. Daniel J. O’Leary, of whom more anon.
From the station, Hector McKaye hurried over to the mill office and entered Andrew Daney’s room.
“Andrew,” he began, “you’ve been doing things. What became of old Caleb Brent’s motor-boat?”
“I opened the sea-cock, cast it off, and let it drift out into the bight on the ebb-tide one night recently.”
“In order that I might have a logical and reasonable excuse to furnish Nan Brent with sufficient funds to leave this town and make a new start elsewhere. I have charged the twenty-five hundred to your personal account on the company books.”
“You also indulged in some extraordinary statements regarding our pressing need for the Sawdust Pile as a drying-yard.”
“We can use it, sir,” Daney replied. “I felt justified in indicating to the girl that her room was desired to her company. Your son,” he added deliberately, “was treading on soft ground, and I took the license of an old friend and, I hope, a faithful servant, to rid him of temptation.”
“I shall never be done with feeling grateful to you, Andrew. The girl is leaving on the train that’s just pulling out, and—the incident is closed. My son is young. He will get over it. Thank you, Andrew, dear friend, until you’re better paid—as you will be some day soon.”
“I’ll have need of your friendship if Donald ever discovers my part in this deal. He’ll fire me out o’ hand.”
“If he does, I’ll hire you back.”
“Hell will pop when he finds the bird has flown, sir.”
“Let it pop! That kind of popping is music in my ears. Hark, Andrew lad! There’s the train whistling for Darrow’s Crossing. From there on the trail is lost—lost—lost, I tell you! O Lord, God of Hosts, I thank Thee for Thy great mercy!”
And, quite suddenly, old Hector sat down and began to weep.