“And what a run you did give that boy Bryce!”
She laughed softly. “I wanted him to fight; I had a great curiosity to see the stuff that was in him,” she explained.
Next day Bryce Cardigan, riding the top log on the end truck of a long train just in from Cardigan’s woods in Township Nine, dropped from the end of the log as the train crawled through the mill-yard on its way to the log-dump. He hailed Buck Ogilvy, where the latter stood in the door of the office.
“Big doings up on Little Laurel Creek this morning, Buck.”
“Do tell!” Mr. Ogilvy murmured morosely.
“It was great,” Bryce continued. “Old Duncan McTavish returned. I knew he would. His year on the mourner’s-bench expired yesterday, and he came back to claim his old job of woods-boss.”
“He’s one year too late,” Ogilvy declared. “I wouldn’t let that big Canadian Jules Rondeau quit for a farm. Some woods-boss, that—and his first job with this company was the dirtiest you could hand him— smearing grease on the skid-road at a dollar and a half a day and found. He’s made too good to lose out now. I don’t care what his private morals may be. He can get out the logs, hang his rascally hide, and I’m for him.”
“I’m afraid you haven’t anything to say about it, Buck,” Bryce replied dryly.
“I haven’t, eh? Well, any time you deny me the privilege of hiring and firing, you’re going to be out the service of a rattling good general manager, my son. Yes, sir! If you hold me responsible for results, I must select the tools I want to work with.”
“Oh, very well,” Bryce laughed. “Have it your own way. Only if you can drive Duncan McTavish out of Cardigan’s woods, I’d like to see you do it. Possession is nine points of the law, Buck—and Old Duncan is in possession.”
“What do you mean—in possession?”
“I mean that at ten o’clock this morning Duncan McTavish appeared at our log-landing. The whisky-fat was all gone from him, and he appeared forty years old instead of the sixty he is. With a whoop he came jumping over the logs, straight for Jules Rondeau. The big Canuck saw him coming and knew what his visit portended—so he wasn’t taken unawares. It was a case of fight for his job—and Rondeau fought.”
“The devil you say!”
“I do—and there was the devil to pay. It was a rough and tumble and no grips barred—just the kind of fight Rondeau likes. Nevertheless old Duncan floored him. While he’s been away somebody taught him the hammer-lock and the crotch-hold and a few more fancy ones, and he got to work on Rondeau in a hurry. In fact, he had to, for if the tussle had gone over five minutes, Rondeau’s youth would have decided the issue.”
“And Rondeau was whipped?”