“I’ll go, after all,” he told himself. “I’ll go—and I’ll see what I shall see.”
He was too wrought up now to sit calmly down in the peace and quietude of the giants, and digest the annual reports Sinclair had given him. He hastened back to the mill-office and sought Sinclair.
“At what hour does the logging-train leave the Laguna Grande Lumber Company’s yard for our log-landing in Township Nine?” he demanded.
“Eight a.m. and one p.m. daily, Bryce.”
“Have you any maps of the holdings of Pennington and ourselves in that district?”
“Let me have them, please. I know the topography of that district perfectly, but I am not familiar with the holdings in and around ours.”
Sinclair gave him the maps, and Bryce retired to his father’s private office and gave himself up to a study of them.
When Shirley Sumner descended to the breakfast room on the morning following her arrival in Sequoia, the first glance at her uncle’s stately countenance informed her that during the night something had occurred to irritate Colonel Seth Pennington and startle him out of his customary bland composure. He greeted her politely but coldly, and without even the perfunctory formality of inquiring how she had passed the night, he came directly to the issue,
“Shirley,” he began, “did I hear you calling young Cardigan on the telephone after dinner last night or did my ears deceive me?”
“Your ears are all right, Uncle Seth. I called Mr. Cardigan up to thank him for the pie he sent over, and incidentally to invite him over here to dinner on Thursday night.”
“I thought I heard you asking somebody to dinner, and as you don’t know a soul in Sequoia except young Cardigan, naturally I opined that he was to be the object of our hospitality.”
The Colonel coughed slightly. From the manner in which he approached the task of buttering his hot cakes Shirley knew he had something more to say and was merely formulating a polite set of phrases in which to express himself. She resolved to help him along.
“I dare say it’s quite all right to have invited him; isn’t it, Uncle Seth?”
“Certainly, certainly, my dear. Quite all right, but er—ah, slightly inconvenient.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. If I had known—Perhaps some other night—”
“I am expecting other company Thursday night—unfortunately, Brayton, the president of the Bank of Sequoia, is coming up to dine and discuss some business affairs with me afterward; so if you don’t mind, my dear, suppose you call young Cardigan up and ask him to defer his visit until some later date.”
“Certainly, Uncle. There is no particular reason why I should have Mr. Cardigan on Thursday if his presence would mean the slightest interference with your plans. What perfectly marvellous roses! How did you succeed in growing them, Uncle Seth?”