A doctor came and made me swallow something, and told me that there was a chance for dad, after all, though they had not thought so at first. Then he sent me off to bed, and Rankin appeared from somewhere, with his abominably righteous air, and I just escaped making another fool scene. But Rankin had the sense to take me in hand just as he used to do when I’d been having no end of a time with the boys, and so got me to bed. The stuff the doctor made me swallow did the rest, and I was dead to the world in ten minutes.
The Old Life—and the New.
Now that I was there, I was no good to anybody. The nurse wouldn’t let me put my nose inside dad’s door for a week, and I hadn’t the heart to go out much while he was so sick. Rankin was about all the recreation I had, and he palled after the first day or two. I told him things about Montana that made him look painful because he hardly liked to call me a liar to my face; and the funny part was that I was telling him the truth.
Then dad got well enough so the nurse had no excuse for keeping me out, and I spent a lot of time sitting beside his bed and answering questions. By the time he was sitting up, peevish at the restraint of weakness and doctor’s orders, we began to get really acquainted and to be able to talk together without a burdensome realization that we were father and son—and a mighty poor excuse for the son. Dad wasn’t such bad company, I discovered. Before, he had been mostly the man that handled the carving-knife when I dined at home, and that wrote checks and dictated letters to Crawford in the privacy of his own den—he called it his study.
Now I found that he could tell a story that had some point to it, and could laugh at yours, in his dry way, whether it had any point or not. I even got to telling him some of the scrapes I had got into, and about Perry Potter; dad liked to hear about Perry Potter. The beauty of it was, he could understand everything; he had lived there himself long enough to get the range view-point. I hate telling a yarn and then going back over it explaining all the fine points.
I remember one night when the fog was rolling in from the ocean till you could hardly see the street-lamps across the way, we sat by the fire—dad was always great for big, wood fires—and smoked; and somehow I got strung out and told him about that Kenmore dance, and how the boys rigged up in my clothes and went. Dad laughed harder than I’d ever heard him before; you see, he knew the range, and the picture rose up before him all complete. I told that same yarn afterward to Barney MacTague, and there was nothing to it, so far as he was concerned. He said: “Lord! they must have been an out-at-heels lot not to have any clothes of their own.” Now, what do you think of that?