Buck insisted on keeping an engagement to dine with Moira, and Bryce agreed to call for him at the Bon Gusto restaurant. Then Bryce went home to dine with his father. Old Cardigan was happier than his son had seen him since the return of the latter to Sequoia.
“Well, sonny, I’ve had a mighty pleasant afternoon,” he declared as Bryce led him to the dinner-table. “I’ve been up to the Valley of the Giants.”
Bryce was amazed. “Why, how could you?” he demanded. “The old skid-road is impassable, and after you leave the end of the skid-road, the trail in to Mother’s grave is so overgrown with buckthorn and wild lilac I doubt if a rabbit could get through it comfortably.”
“Not a bit of it,” the old man replied. “Somebody has gone to work and planked that old skid-road and put up a hand-railing on each side, while the trail through the Giants has been grubbed out and smoothed over. All that old logging-cable I abandoned in those choppings has been strung from tree to tree alongside the path on both sides. I can go up there alone now, once George sets me on the old skid-road; I can’t get lost.”
“How did you discover this?” Bryce demanded.
“Judge Moore, representing the new owner, called round this morning and took me in tow. He said his client knew the property held for me a certain sentimental value which wasn’t transferred in the deed, and so the Judge had been instructed to have the skid-road planked and the forest trail grubbed out—for me. It appears that the Valley is going to be a public park, after all, but for the present and while I live, it is my private park.”
“This is perfectly amazing, partner.”
“It’s mighty comforting,” his father admitted. “Guess the new owner must be one of my old friends—perhaps somebody I did a favour for once—and this is his way of repaying. Remember the old sugar-pine windfall we used to sit on? Well, it’s rotted through, and bears have clawed it into chips in their search for grubs, but the new owner had a seat put in there for me—just the kind of seat I like—a lumberjack’s rocking-chair made from an old vinegar-barrel. I sat in it, and the Judge left me, and I did a right smart lot o’ thinking. And while it didn’t lead me anywhere, still I—er—”
“You felt better, didn’t you?” his son suggested.
John Cardigan nodded. “I’d like to know the name of the owner,” he said presently. “I’d like mighty well to say thank you to him. It isn’t usual for people nowadays to have as much respect for sentiment in an old duffer like me as the fellow has. He sort of makes me feel as if I hadn’t sold at all.”
Buck Ogilvy came out of the Bon Gusto restaurant with Moira, just as Bryce, with George Sea Otter at the wheel of the Napier, drove up to the curb. They left Moira at her boarding-house, and rolled noiselessly away.
At nine o’clock they arrived at Cardigan’s log-landing and found Jim Harding, the bull-donkey engineer, placidly smoking his pipe in the cab. Bryce hailed him.