“Sonny, sonny—oh, I’m so glad you’re back. I’ve missed you. Bryce, I’m whipped—I’ve lost your heritage. Oh, son! I’m old—I can’t fight any more. I’m blind—I can’t see my enemies. I’ve lost your redwood trees—even your mother’s Valley of the Giants.”
And he commenced to weep for the third time in fifty years. And when the aged and helpless weep, nothing is more terrible. Bryce Cardigan said no word, but held his father close to his great heart and laid his cheek gently against the old man’s, tenderly as a woman might. And presently, from that silent communion of spirit, each drew strength and comfort. As the shadows fell in John Cardigan’s town, they went home to the house on the hill.
Shirley Sumner’s eyes were still moist when George Sea Otter, in obedience to the instructions of his youthful master, set her, the French maid, and their hand-baggage down on the sidewalk in front of Colonel Seth Pennington’s house. The half-breed hesitated a moment, undecided whether he would carry the hand-baggage up to the door or leave that task for a Pennington retainer; then he noted the tear-stains on the cheeks of his fair passenger. Instantly he took up the hand-baggage, kicked open the iron gate, and preceded Shirley up the cement walk to the door.
“Just wait a moment, if you please, George,” Shirley said as he set the baggage down and started back for the car. He turned and beheld her extracting a five-dollar bill from her purse. “For you, George,” she continued. “Thank you so much.”
In all his life George Sea Otter had never had such an experience— he, happily, having been raised in a country where, with the exception of waiters, only a pronounced vagrant expects or accepts a gratuity from a woman. He took the bill and fingered it curiously; then his white blood asserted itself and he handed the bill back to Shirley.
“Thank you,” he said respectfully. “If you are a man—all right. But from a lady—no. I am like my boss. I work for you for nothing.”
Shirley did not understand his refusal, but her instinctive tact warned her not to insist. She returned the bill to her purse, thanked him again, and turned quickly to hide the slight flush of annoyance. George Sea Otter noted it.
“Lady,” he said with great dignity, “at first I did not want to carry your baggage. I did not want to walk on this land.” And with a sweeping gesture he indicated the Pennington grounds. “Then you cry a little because my boss is feeling bad about his old man. So I like you better. The old man—well, he has been like father to me and my mother—and we are Indians. My brothers, too—they work for him. So if you like my boss and his old man, George Sea Otter would go to hell for you pretty damn’ quick. You bet you my life!”
“You’re a very good boy, George,” she replied, with difficulty repressing a smile at his blunt but earnest avowal. “I am glad the Cardigans have such an honest, loyal servant.”