“Nothing doing, young man. Remember, you are not in a position to ask favours.”
“Then I suppose we’ll have to go down fighting?”
“I do not anticipate much of a fight.”
“You’ll get as much as I can give you.”
“I’m not at all apprehensive.”
“And I’ll begin by running your woods-boss out of the country.”
“You know why, of course—those burl panels in your dining room. Rondeau felled a tree in our Valley of the Giants to get that burl for you, Colonel Pennington.”
Pennington flushed. “I defy you to prove that,” he almost shouted.
“Very well. I’ll make Rondeau confess; perhaps he’ll even tell me who sent him after the burl. Upon my word, I think you inspired that dastardly raid. At any rate, I know Rondeau is guilty, and you, as his employer and the beneficiary of his crime, must accept the odium.”
The Colonel’s face went white. “I do not admit anything except that you appear to have lost your head, young man. However, for the sake of argument: granting that Rondeau felled that tree, he did it under the apprehension that your Valley of the Giants is a part of my Squaw Creek timber adjoining.”
“I do not believe that. There was malice in the act—brutality even; for my mother’s grave identified the land as ours, and Rondeau felled the tree on her tombstone.”
“If that is so, and Rondeau felled that tree—I do not believe he did—I am sincerely sorry, Cardigan, Name your price and I will pay you for the tree. I do not desire any trouble to develop over this affair.”
“You can’t pay for that tree,” Bryce burst forth. “No pitiful human being can pay in dollars and cents for the wanton destruction of God’s handiwork. You wanted that burl and when my father was blind and could no longer make his Sunday pilgrimage up to that grove, your woods-boss went up and stole that which you knew you could not buy.”
“That will be about all from you, young man. Get out of my office. And by the way, forget that you have met my niece.”
“It’s your office—so I’ll get out. As for your second command”—he snapped his fingers in Pennington’s face—“fooey!”
When Bryce had gone, the Colonel hurriedly called his logging-camp on the telephone and asked for Jules Rondeau, only to be informed, by the timekeeper who answered the telephone, that Rondeau was up in the green timber with the choppers and could not be gotten to the telephone in less than two hours.
“Do not send for him, then,” Pennington commanded. “I’m coming up on the eleven-fifteen train and will talk to him when he comes in for his lunch.”
At eleven o’clock, and just as the Colonel was leaving to board the eleven-fifteen logging-train bound empty for the woods, Shirley Sumner made her appearance in his office.
“Uncle Seth,” she complained, “I’m lonesome. The bookkeeper tells me you’re going up to the logging-camp. May I go with you?”