What he had lost in a material way he meant to get back. How, he had not yet determined. His brain was busy with that problem. And the dying down of his first keen resentment and grief over the death of his father, and that dead father’s message to him, merely hardened into a cold resolve to pay off his father’s debt to the Gowers and Mortons. MacRae ran true to the traditions of his Highland blood when he lumped them all together.
In this he was directed altogether by the promptings of emotion, and he never questioned the justice of his attitude. But in the practical adjustment of his life to conditions as he found them he adopted a purely rational method.
He took stock of his resources. They were limited enough. A few hundred dollars in back pay and demobilization gratuities; a sound body, now that his injured eye was all but healed; an abounding confidence in himself,—which he had earned the right to feel. That was all. Ambition for place, power, wealth, he did not feel as an imperative urge. He perceived the value and desirability of these things. Only he saw no short straight road to any one of them.
For four years he had been fed, clothed, directed, master of his own acts only in supreme moments. There was an unconscious reaction from that high pitch. Being his own man again and a trifle uncertain what to do, he did nothing at all for a time. He made one trip to Vancouver, to learn by just what legal processes the MacRae lands had passed into the Gower possession. He found out what he wanted to know easily enough. Gower had got his birthright for a song. Donald MacRae had borrowed six thousand dollars through a broker. The land was easily worth double, even at wild-land valuation. But old Donald’s luck had run true to form. He had not been able to renew the loan. The broker had discounted the mortgage in a pinch. A financial house had foreclosed and sold the place to Gower,—who had been trying to buy it for years, through different agencies. His father’s papers told young MacRae plainly enough through what channels the money had gone. Chance had functioned on the wrong side for his father.
So Jack went back to Squitty and stayed in the old house, talked with the fishermen, spent a lot of his time with old Peter Ferrara and Dolly. Always he was casting about for a course of action which would give him scope for two things upon which his mind was set: to get the title to that six hundred acres revested in the MacRae name, and, in Jack’s own words to Dolores Ferrara, to take a fall out of Horace Gower that would jar the bones of his ancestors.
With Christmas the Ferrara clan gathered at the Cove, all the stout and able company of Dolly Ferrara’s menfolk. It had seemed to MacRae a curious thing that Dolly was the only woman of all the Ferraras. There had been mothers in the Ferrara family, or there could not have been so many capable uncles and cousins. But in MacRae’s memory there had never been any mothers or sisters or daughters save Dolly.