“Perhaps—but not without a fight,” Bryce answered, although he knew their plight was well-nigh hopeless. “I’ll give that man Pennington a run for his money, or I’ll know the reason.”
The telephone on the table beside him tinkled, and he took down the receiver and said “Hello!”
“Mercy!” came the clear, sweet voice of Shirley Sumner over the wire. “Do you feel as savage as all that, Mr. Cardigan?”
For the second time in his life the thrill that was akin to pain came to Bryce Cardigan. He laughed. “If I had known you were calling, Miss Sumner,” he said, “I shouldn’t have growled so.”
“Well, you’re forgiven—for several reasons, but principally for sending me that delicious blackberry pie. Of course, it discoloured my teeth temporarily, but I don’t care. The pie was worth it, and you were awfully dear to think of sending it. Thank you so much.”
“Glad you liked it, Miss Sumner. I dare to hope that I may have the privilege of seeing you soon again.”
“Of course. One good pie deserves another. Some evening next week, when that dear old daddy of yours can spare his boy, you might be interested to see our burl-redwood-panelled dining room Uncle Seth is so proud of. I’m too recent an arrival to know the hour at which Uncle Seth dines, but I’ll let you know later and name a definite date. Would Thursday night be convenient?”
“Perfectly. Thank you a thousand times.”
She bade him good-night. As he turned from the telephone, his father looked up. “What are you going to do to-morrow, lad?” he queried.
“I have to do some thinking to-morrow,” Bryce answered. “So I’m going up into Cardigan’s Redwoods to do it. Up there a fellow can get set, as it were, to put over a thought with a punch in it.”
“The dogwoods and rhododendron are blooming now,” the old man murmured wistfully. Bryce knew what he was thinking of. “I’ll attend to the flowers for Mother,” he assured Cardigan, and he added fiercely: “And I’ll attend to the battle for Father. We may lose, but that man Pennington will know he’s been in a fight before we fin—–”
He broke off abruptly, for he had just remembered that he was to dine at the Pennington house the following Thursday—and he was not the sort of man who smilingly breaks bread with his enemy.
For many years there had been installed in Cardigan’s mill a clock set to United States observatory time and corrected hourly by the telegraph company. It was the only clock of its kind in Sequoia; hence folk set their watches by it, or rather by the whistle on Cardigan’s mill. With a due appreciation of the important function of this clock toward his fellow-citizens, old Zeb Curry, the chief engineer and a stickler for being on time, was most meticulous in his whistle-blowing. With a sage and prophetic eye fixed upon the face of the clock, and a particularly