Bannon read it to Hilda, saying as he laid it down:—
“That’s something like. I don’t know where’ll I go, though. Winter ain’t exactly the time for a vacation, unless you go shooting, and I’m no hand for that.”
“Couldn’t you put it off till summer?” she asked, smiling a little.
“Not much. You don’t know those people. By the time summer’d come around, they’d have forgotten I ever worked here. I’d strike for a month and Brown would grin and say: ’That’s all right, Bannon, you deserve it if anybody does. It’ll take a week or so to get your pass arranged, and you might just run out to San Francisco and see if things are going the way they ought to.’ And then the first thing I knew I’d be working three shifts somewhere over in China, and Brown would be writing me I was putting in too much time at my meals. No, if MacBride & Company offer you a holiday, the best thing you can do is to grab it, and run, and saw off the telegraph poles behind you. And you couldn’t be sure of yourself then.”
He turned the letter over in his hand.
“I might go up on the St. Lawrence,” he went on. “That’s the only place for spending the winter that ever struck me.”
“Isn’t it pretty cold?”
“It ain’t so bad. I was up there last winter. We put up at a house at Coteau, you know. When I got there the foundation wasn’t even begun, and we had a bad time getting laborers, I put in the first day sitting on the ice sawing off spiles.”
“I shouldn’t think you’d care much about going back.”
“Were you ever there?” he asked.
“No, I’ve never been anywhere but home and here, in Chicago.”
“Where is your home?”
“It was up in Michigan. That’s where Max learned the lumber business. But he and I have been here for nearly two years.”
“Well,” said Bannon, “some folks may think it’s cold up there, but there ain’t anywhere else to touch it. It’s high ground, you know—nothing like this”—he swept his arm about to indicate the flats outside—“and the scenery beats anything this side of the Rockies. It ain’t that there’s mountains there, you understand, but it’s all big and open, and they’ve got forests there that would make your Michigan pine woods look like weeds on a sandhill. And the river’s great. You haven’t seen anything really fine till you’ve seen the rapids in winter. The people there have a good time too. They know how to enjoy life—it isn’t all grime and sweat and making money.”
“Well,” said Hilda, looking down at her pencil and drawing aimless designs as she talked, “I suppose it is a good place to go. I’ve seen the pictures, of course, in the timetables; and one of the railroad offices on Clark Street used to have some big photographs of the St. Lawrence in the window. I looked at them sometimes, but I never thought of really seeing anything like that. I’ve had some pretty good times on the lake and over at St. Joe. Max used to take me over to Berrien Springs last summer, when he could get off. My aunt lives there.”