“I’ll not do that,” she answered with a quiet finality that caused her uncle to favour her with a quick, searching glance.
He need not have worried, however, for Bryce Cardigan was too well aware of his own financial condition to risk the humiliation of asking Shirley Sumner to share it with him. Moreover, he had embarked upon a war—a war which he meant to fight to a finish.
George Sea Otter, summoned by telephone, came out to Freshwater, the station nearest the wreck, and transported his battered young master back to Sequoia. Here Bryce sought the doctor in the Cardigan Redwood Lumber Company’s little hospital and had his wrecked nose reorganized and his cuts bandaged. It was characteristic of his father’s son that when this detail had been attended to, he should go to the office and work until the six o’clock whistle blew.
Old Cardigan was waiting for him at the gate when he reached home. George Sea Otter had already given the old man a more or less garbled account of the runaway log-train, and Cardigan eagerly awaited his son’s arrival in order to ascertain the details of this new disaster which had come upon them. For disaster it was, in truth. The loss of the logs was trifling—perhaps three or four thousand dollars; the destruction of the rolling-stock was the crowning misfortune. Both Cardigans knew that Pennington would eagerly seize upon this point to stint his competitor still further on logging-equipment, that there would be delays—purposeful but apparently unavoidable—before this lost rolling-stock would be replaced. And in the interim the Cardigan mill, unable to get a sufficient supply of logs to fill orders in hand, would be forced to close down. Full well Pennington knew that anything which, tends to bring about a shortage of raw material for any manufacturing plant will result inevitably in the loss of customers.
“Well, son,” said John Cardigan mildly as Bryce unlatched the gate, “another bump, eh?”
“Yes, sir—right on the nose.”
“I meant another bump to your heritage, my son.”
“I’m worrying more about my nose, partner. In fact, I’m not worrying about my heritage at all. I’ve come to a decision on that point: We’re going to fight and fight to the last; we’re going down fighting. And by the way, I started the fight this afternoon. I whaled the wadding out of that bucko woods-boss of Pennington’s, and as a special compliment to you, John Cardigan, I did an almighty fine job of cleaning. Even went so far as to muss the Colonel up a little.”
“Wow, wow, Bryce! Bully for you! I wanted that man Rondeau taken apart. He has terrorized our woods-men for a long time. He’s king of the mad-train, you know.”
Bryce was relieved. His father did not know, then, of the act of vandalism in the Valley of the Giants. This fact strengthened Bryce’s resolve not to tell him—also to get the fallen monarch sawed up and the stump blasted out before an operation should restore his father’s sight and reveal to him the crowning cruelty of his enemy.