The Reward of Folly.
I’m something like the old maid you read about—the one who always knows all about babies and just how to bring them up to righteous maturity; I’ve got a mighty strong conviction that I know heaps that my dad never thought of about the proper training for a healthy male human. I don’t suppose I’ll ever have a chance to demonstrate my wisdom, but, if I do, there are a few things that won’t happen to my boy.
If I’ve got a comfortable wad of my own, the boy shall have his fun without any nagging, so long as he keeps clean and honest. He shall go to any college he may choose—and right here is where my wisdom will sit up and get busy. If I’m fool enough to let that kid have more money than is healthy for him, and if I go to sleep while he’s wising up to the art of making it fade away without leaving anything behind to tell the tale, and learning a lot of habits that aren’t doing him any good, I won’t come down on him with both feet and tell him all the different brands of fool he’s been, and mourn because the Lord in His mercy laid upon me this burden of an unregenerate son. I shall try and remember that he’s the son of his father, and not expect too much of him. It’s long odds I shall find points of resemblance a-plenty between us—and the more cussedness he develops, the more I shall see myself in him reflected.
I don’t mean to be hard on dad. He was always good to me, in his way. He’s got more things than a son to look after, and as that son is supposed to have a normal allowance of gray matter and is no physical weakling, he probably took it for granted that the son could look after himself—which the mines and railroads and ranches that represent his millions can’t.
But it wasn’t giving me a square deal. He gave me an allowance and paid my debts besides, and let me amble through school at my own gait—which wasn’t exactly slow—and afterward let me go. If I do say it, I had lived a fairly decent sort of life. I belonged to some good clubs—athletic, mostly—and trained regularly, and was called a fair boxer among the amateurs. I could tell to a glass—after a lot of practise—just how much of ’steen different brands I could take without getting foolish, and I could play poker and win once in awhile. I had a steam-yacht and a motor of my own, and it was generally stripped to racing trim. And I wasn’t tangled up with any women; actress-worship had never appealed to me. My tastes all went to the sporting side of life and left women to the fellows with less nerve and more sentiment.
So I had lived for twenty-five years—just having the best time a fellow with an unlimited resource can have, if he is healthy.
It was then, on my twenty-fifth birthday, that I walked into dad’s private library with a sonly smile, ready for the good wishes and the check that I was in the habit of getting—I’d been unlucky, and Lord knows I needed it!—and what does the dear man do?