And above all and beneath all, hanging in the background of my mind and dodging forward insistently in spite of myself, was a deep resentment—a soreness against dad for the way he had served me. Granted I was wild and a useless cumberer of civilization; I was only what my environments had made me. Dad had let me run, and he had never kicked on the price of my folly, or tried to pull me up at the start. He had given his time to his mines and his cattle-ranches and railroads, and had left his only son to go to the devil if he chose and at his own pace. Then, because the son had come near making a thorough job of it, he had done—this. I felt hardly used and at odds with life, during those last few hours in the little old burgh.
All the next day I went the pace as usual with the gang, and at seven, after an early dinner, caught a down-town car and set off alone to the ferry. I had not seen dad since I left him in the library, and I did not particularly wish to see him, either. Possibly I had some unfilial notion of making him ashamed and sorry. It is even possible that I half-expected him to come and apologize, and offer to let things go on in the old way. In that event I was prepared to be chesty. I would look at him coldly and say: “You have seen fit to buy me a ticket to Osage, Montana. So be it; to Osage, Montana, am I bound.” Oh, I had it all fixed!
Dad came into the ferry waiting-room just as the passengers were pouring off the boat, and sat down beside me as if nothing had happened. He did not look sad, or contrite, or ashamed—not, at least, enough to notice. He glanced at his watch, and then handed me a letter.
“There,” he began briskly, “that is to Perry Potter, the Bay State foreman. I have wired him that you are on the way.”
The gate went up at that moment, and he stood up and held out his hand. “Sorry I can’t go over with you,” he said. “I’ve an important meeting to attend. Take care of yourself, Ellie boy.”
I gripped his hand warmly, though I had intended to give him a dead-fish sort of shake. After all, he was my dad, and there were just us two. I picked up my suit-case and started for the gate. I looked back once, and saw dad standing there gazing after me—and he did not look particularly brisk. Perhaps, after all, dad cared more than he let on. It’s a way the Carletons have, I have heard.
The White Divide.
If a phrenologist should undertake to “read” my head, he would undoubtedly find my love of home—if that is what it is called—a sharply defined welt. I know that I watched the lights of old Frisco slip behind me with as virulent a case of the deeps as often comes to a man when his digestion is good. It wasn’t that I could not bear the thought of hardship; I’ve taken hunting trips up into the mountains more times than I can remember, and ate ungodly messes of my own invention, and waded