For the rest he played polo well, shot excellently at the traps, was good at tennis, golf, bridge. Naturally he belonged to the best clubs both city and country. He sailed a yacht expertly, was a keen fisherman, hunted. Also he played poker a good deal and was noted for his accurate taste in dress.
His mother firmly believed that he caused her much sorrow; his sisters looked up to him with a little awe; his father down on him with a fiercely tolerant contempt.
For Chuck had had his turn in the offices. His mind was a good one; his education both formal and informal, had trained it fairly well; yet he could not quite make good. Energetic, ambitious, keen young men, clambering upward from the ruck, gave him points at the game and then beat him. It was humiliating to the old man. He could not see the perfectly normal reason. These young men were striving keenly for what they had never had. Chuck was asked merely to add to what he already had more than enough of by means of a game that itself did not interest him.
Late one evening Chuck and some friends were dining at the Cliff House. They had been cruising up toward Tomales Bay, and had had themselves put ashore here. No one knew of their whereabouts. Thus it was that Chuck first learned of his father’s death from apoplexy in the scareheads of an evening paper handed him by the majordomo. He read the article through carefully, then went alone to the beach below. It had been the usual sensational article; and but two sentences clung to Chuck’s memory: “This fortunate young man’s income will actually amount to about ten dollars a minute. What a significance have now his days—and nights!”
He looked out to sea whence the waves, in ordered rank, cast themselves on the shore, seethed upward along the sands, poised, and receded. His thoughts were many, but they always returned to the same point. Ten dollars a minute—roughly speaking, seven thousand a day! What would he do with it? “What a significance have now his days—and nights!”
His best friend, Joe Merrill, came down the path to him, and stood silently by his side.
“I’m sorry about your governor, old man,” he ventured; and then, after a long time:
“You’re the richest man in the West.”
Chuck Gates arose. A wave larger than the rest thundered and ran hissing up to their feet.
“I wonder if the tide is coming in or going out,” said Chuck, vaguely.