The night before the party left, Ferdy packed his kit with the rest; but the next morning he was sick in his bed. His pulse was not quick, but he complained of pains in every limb. Dr. Balsam came over to see him, but could find nothing serious the matter. He, however, advised Rhodes to leave him behind. So, Ferdy stayed at Squire Rawson’s all the time that the party was in the mountains. But he wrote his father that he was studying.
During the time that Rhodes’s party was in the mountains Squire Rawson rode about with them examining lands, inspecting coal-beds, and adding much to the success of the undertaking.
He appeared to be interested mainly in hunting up cattle, and after he had introduced the engineers and secured the tardy consent of the landowners for them to make a survey, he would spend hours haggling over a few head of mountain cattle, or riding around through the mountains looking for others.
Many a farmer who met the first advances of the stranger with stony opposition yielded amicably enough after old Rawson had spent an hour or two looking at his “cattle,” or had conversed with him and his weather-beaten wife about the “craps” and the “child’en.”
“You are a miracle!” declared young Rhodes, with sincere admiration. “How do you manage it?”
The old countryman accepted the compliment with becoming modesty.
“Oh, no; ain’t no miracle about it. All I know I learned at the Ridge College, and from an old uncle of mine, and in the war. He used to say, ‘Adam, don’t be a fool; learn the difference between cattle.’ Now, before you come, I didn’t know nothin’ about all them fureign countries—they was sort of vague, like the New Jerusalem—or about coal. You’ve told me all about that. I had an idea that it was all made jest so,—jest as we find it,—as the Bible says ’twas; but you know a lot—more than Moses knowed, and he was ‘skilled in all the learnin’ of the Egyptians.’ You haven’t taken to cattle quite as kindly as I’d ‘a’ liked, but you know a lot about coal. Learn the difference between cattle, my son. There’s a sight o’ difference between ’em.”
Rhodes declared that he would remember his advice, and the two parted with mutual esteem.
TWO YOUNG MEN
The young engineer, on his return to New York, made a report to his employer. He said that the mineral resources were simply enormous, and were lying in sight for any one to pick up who knew how to deal with the people to whom they belonged. They could be had almost for the asking. But he added this statement: that the legislative charters would hardly hold, and even if they did, it would take an army to maintain what they gave against the will of the people. He advised securing the services of Squire Rawson and a few other local magnates.
Mr. Wickersham frowned at this plain speaking, and dashed his pen through this part of the report. “I am much obliged to you for the report on the minerals. The rest of it is trash. You were not paid for your advice on that. When I want law I go to a lawyer.”