“Nothing! You have done nothing! That is just it. Oh, you see, when I start to meddle I do it very thoroughly! It is not what you have done but what you might do. And I was going to tell you what the real handicap is. It is not the being-without-things, without advantages, which has restricted the fuller growth of such men as Bat Truxton and Brayley. It is something very different from that—essentially different. It is the being-raised-a-rich-man’s-son! It is the being-born-something instead of the being-obliged-to-make-oneself-something!”
“Theoretically, Miss Crawford, I suppose that you are right. But theory is only theory, you know. Frankly, would not a man be a fool to work when there is no need for it? Would not a man be a fool to eschew the pleasures of life when fortune is ready to spill them into his lap for him? Does not the rich man’s son get a great deal more out of the game than the poor devil who spends his life punching cows at thirty dollars a month? Even if I began to take myself seriously at this late hour and to take life as a serious sort of thing, too; even if I tucked in and fell in love with my work”—he shuddered for her benefit—“what good would it do me? If I turned out to be the best rider, the best shot, the best roper of steers, what then?”
“My father,” she answered, simply, “like every other man who does big things on a big scale, is always looking for good men, for foremen, for men like Bat Truxton, like Brayley, and for men who must do work for which such men as Brayley are unfit—men who have got an education and have retained their strength of manhood through it. You could grow; you could step from one position to another, you could yourself be a strong man, a big man, a man like my father, like your father. Don’t you see? You could be that sort of a man, a real man, a man’s man, instead of being the sort of man who is sent upon a girl’s errand because none of the other men can be spared. You have done the natural thing heretofore; the fault has not been yours. You have merely been unfortunate in being too fortunate. But now, don’t you see, it is different. Now you are being submitted to the test. Why, even your friend, Roger Hapgood—”
“Leave out the friend part. What about him?”
“He is taking hold. He is shaking off the listlessness which has clung to him ever since he was born. Father learned from him that he had studied law in college and got him a place with Mr. Winston in Crawfordsville. And he is working, working hard, and making good!”
“You seem to know everything, Miss Crawford.”
“Oh, this is so simple. Mr. Winston is father’s lawyer. Mr. Hapgood has ridden back to the Half Moon several times upon business for the firm.”
Conniston frowned, little pleased. The Half Moon range-house, then, was open to Hapgood as a friend, as an equal. It was closed to Greek Conniston as a day-laborer! And he knew well enough why Hapgood was staying, why he was working so hard. He had not forgotten the pale-eyed man’s appreciation of the girl—and of her father’s wealth. He knew that Roger Hapgood was working for much more than his monthly stipend, for much more than the love of the law.