“I’m very sorry, son,” he began. “I’ve been wrong, so wrong all along the way. I’ve never been square. I have fought the Fates every day of my life, and now I’m whipped.” He smiled a little, weak smile. “What a fool a man is,” he continued. “Willis, I’m going to slip off very soon, now, and I have so much I want to say to you.” He half arose. “Are we alone?” Willis told him that they were, but urged him not to talk. He was determined.
“I have played a desperate game, and I have lost. I’m sorry for my mistakes. I have wronged Tad and you the most, for I have wanted your father’s mine. I was jealous of your father’s favor. Now I know I did not deserve it. I got your mother’s reply to Tad’s letter long ago. It was sent in my care, and I read it. It decided me, for it all looked so easy. There’s money in the mine, son, and Tad is here somewhere. He will tell you all. Tell him for me that I am sorry.” He closed his eyes, and in a moment was gone.
Willis hurried home to his mother, and together they held a long conference, and many things were accounted for.
* * * * *
It was at the little cabin that Willis found his greatest pleasure, and already Ham and himself were planning a new and more pretentious Lodge to take the place of Buffalo Roost, for the next Buffalo Roost was to be a memorial camp built in honor of Tad Kieser, gentleman, and Mr. William Thornton.
Willis had found the cabin, and the cabin with its stanch, good friendships, the healthful work together, and the unselfish leadership of the right sort of men, had helped him find his best self in thoughtful service for others. Surely no better thing ever comes to the life of a boy.
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