“Miss Harding has only six trunks, and I had seven myself.”
The sweet creature was happy and immensely relieved. I forgot to ask her if any golf clubs were included in the Harding luggage.
MR. HARDING WINS A BET
I have met Harding, the western railroad magnate, and he is a character. His wife is in the city, but will be out here in a few days.
Harding—I call him Mister when addressing him, since he is worth thirty millions or more, and he is old enough to be my father—Harding strolled out to the first tee early this morning and stood with his hands in his pockets watching some of the fellows drive off.
I should judge him to be a man of about fifty-five, or perhaps a year of two older. He stands more than six feet, is broad of shoulder and equally broad of waist, ruddy of complexion, clear of eye and quick of motion. He is of the breezy, independent type peculiar to those who have risen to fortune with the wonderful development of our western country, and it is difficult to realise that he is a real live magnate.
His close-cropped beard shows few gray hairs, and does not entirely hide the lines of a resolute chin. He looks like a prosperous farmer who has been forced to become familiar with metropolitan conventionalities, but whose rough edges have withstood the friction. His voice is heavy but not unpleasant, and his laugh jovial but defiant. He reminds me of no one I have seen, and I shall study him with much interest.
He was with Carter, who seemed well acquainted with him, and he greeted each drive whether it was good or bad with a sneering smile. This told me that he had never played the game, and that he had all of the outsider’s contempt for it. I knew exactly what he thought, for I was once as ignorant and unappreciative as he is now.
A mutual contempt exists between those who play golf and those who do not. Those who have not played are sure they could become expert in a week, if they had so little sense as to waste time on so simple and objectless a game. Those who are familiar with the game know that no man living can ever hope to approach its possibilities, and they also know that it is the grandest sport designed since man has inhabited this globe.
I have sometimes thought that this old globe of ours is nothing more nor less than a golf ball, brambled with mountains and valleys, and scarred with ravines where the gods in their play have topped their drives. The spin around its axis causes it to slice about the sun. This strikes me as rather poetic, and when I write a golf epic I shall elaborate on this fancy.
Harding has no such conception of this whirling earth of ours. He is fully convinced that it was created for the purpose of being cross-hatched with railroads, and that it never had any real utility until he gridironed the western prairies with ten thousand miles of rust and grease. I thought of that as I watched him standing by the side of Carter, his huge hands thrust deep in his pockets, his bushy head thrown back, and a tolerant grin on his bearded lips.