“He has gone to San Francisco for more ammunition,” she soliloquized. “Very well, Unkie-dunk! While you’re away, I shall manufacture a few bombs myself.”
After breakfast she left the house and walked to the intersection of B with Water Street. Jules Rondeau and his crew of lumberjacks were there, and with two policemen guarded the crossing.
Rondeau glanced at Shirley, surprised, then lifted his hat. Shirley looked from the woods bully to the locomotive and back to Rondeau.
“Rondeau,” she said, “Mr. Cardigan is a bad man to fight. You fought him once. Are you going to do it again?”
“By whose orders?”
“Mr. Sexton, he tell me to do it.”
“Well, Rondeau, some day I’ll be boss of Laguna Grande and there’ll be no more fighting,” she replied, and passed on down B Street to the office of the Cardigan Redwood Lumber Company. Moira McTavish looked up as she entered.
“Where is he, dear?” Shirley asked. “I must see him.”
“In that office, Miss Shirley,” Moira replied, and pointed to the door. Shirley stepped to the door, knocked, and then entered. Bryce Cardigan, seated at his desk, looked up as she came in. His left arm was in a sling, and he looked harassed and dejected.
“Don’t get up, Bryce,” she said as he attempted to rise. “I know you’re quite exhausted. You look it.” She sat down. “I’m so sorry,” she said softly.
His dull glance brightened. “It doesn’t amount to that, Shirley.” And he snapped his fingers. “It throbs a little and it’s stiff and sore, so I carry it in the sling. That helps a little. What did you want to see me about?”
“I wanted to tell you,” said Shirley, “that—that last night’s affair was not of my making.” He smiled compassionately. “I—I couldn’t bear to have you think I’d break my word and tell him.”
“It never occurred to me that you had dealt me a hand from the bottom of the deck, Shirley. Please don’t worry about it. Your uncle has had two private detectives watching Ogilvy and me.”
“Oh!” she breathed, much relieved. A ghost of the old bantering smile lighted her winsome features. “Well, then,” she challenged, “I suppose you don’t hate me.”
“On the contrary, I love you,” he answered. “However, since you must have known this for some time past, I suppose it is superfluous to mention it. Moreover, I haven’t the right—yet.”
She had cast her eyes down modestly. She raised them now and looked at him searchingly. “I suppose you’ll acknowledge yourself whipped at last, Bryce?” she ventured.
“Would it please you to have me surrender?” He was very serious.
“Indeed it would, Bryce.”
“Because I’m tired of fighting. I want peace. I’m—I’m afraid to let this matter go any further. I’m truly afraid.”
“I think I want peace, too,” he answered wearily. “I’d be glad to quit—with honour. And I’ll do it, too, if you can induce your uncle to give me the kind of logging contract I want with his road.”