It’s a great thing to be sixty minutes old, with nothing in the world except a blanket and an appetite, and the whole fight ahead of you; but it’s pretty good, too, to be sixty years old, and a grandpop, with twenty years of fight left in you still. It sort of makes me feel, though, as if it were almost time I had a young fellow hitched up beside me who was strong enough to pull his half of the load and willing enough so that he’d keep the traces taut on his side. I don’t want any double-team arrangement where I have to pull the load and the other horse, too. But you seem strong, and you act willing, so when I get back I reckon we’ll hitch for a little trial spin. A good partner ought to be like a good wife—a source of strength to a man. But it isn’t reasonable to tie up with six, like a Mormon elder, and expect that you’re going to have half a dozen happy homes.
They say that there are three generations between shirt-sleeves and shirt-sleeves in a good many families, but I don’t want any such gap as that in ours. I hope to live long enough to see the kid with us at the Stock Yards, and all three of us with our coats off hustling to make the business hum. If I shouldn’t, you must keep the boy strong in the faith. It makes me a little uneasy when I go to New York and see the carryings-on of some of the old merchants’ grandchildren. I don’t think it’s true, as Andy says, that to die rich is to die disgraced, but it’s the case pretty often that to die rich is to be disgraced afterward by a lot of light-weight heirs.
Every now and then some blame fool stops me on the street to say that he supposes I’ve got to the point now where I’m going to quit and enjoy myself; and when I tell him I’ve been enjoying myself for forty years and am going to keep right on at it, he goes off shaking his head and telling people I’m a money-grubber. He can’t see that it’s the fellow who doesn’t enjoy his work and who quits just because he’s made money that’s the money-grubber; or that the man who keeps right on is fighting for something more than a little sugar on his bread and butter.
When a doctor reaches the point where he’s got a likely little bunch of dyspeptics giving him ten dollars apiece for telling them to eat something different from what they have been eating, and to chew it—people don’t ask him why he doesn’t quit and live on the interest of his dyspepsia money. By the time he’s gained his financial independence, he’s lost his personal independence altogether. For it’s just about then that he’s reached the age where he can put a little extra sense and experience into his pills; so he can’t turn around without some one’s sticking out his tongue at him and asking him to guess what he had for dinner that disagreed with him. It never occurs to these people that he will let his experience and ability go to waste, just because he has made money enough to buy a little dyspepsia of his own, and it never occurs to him to quit for any such foolish reason.