Some men are born rich; some inherit a pair of scissors fitted to strong thumbs and forefingers, some have to lie awake nights wondering what they will do next to help their surplus run to waste, and some pass sleepless hours devising plans by which they can catch in their empty pockets the clippings and drippings of all three. Muggles’s host was none of these. What he possessed he had worked for—early, late and all the time. His father had stood by and seen the old homestead in his native Southern State topple into ashes, Only the gaunt chimney left; the son had worked his way through college, and then with diploma in one hand and his courage in the other— all he owned—had shaken the dust of civilization from his shoes and had struck out for the Northern wilds: Wabacog was the result.
All these years he had kept in touch with his college chums, and when the day of his success arrived, and he was his own master, with the inborn good-fellowship that marked his race, he had unbuttoned his pocket, shaken out his heart and let loose a hospitality that not only revived the memories of his childhood, but created a new kind of joy in the hearts of his guests. Hence the bungalow—hence Jackson—hence the lockers and the ice-chest, and hence the bed quilt of mint.
“This is your room, Muggles—and, Bender, old man, yours is next Podvine, you are across the hall,” was his welcome. “Breakfast is any time you want it; dinner at six. Now come here! See that line of lockers and that ice-chest? Don’t forget ’em, please! Step up, Jackson—take a look at him, boys. That darky can mix anything known to man. He never sleeps, and he’s never tired. If you don’t call on him for every blessed thing you want day or night, there’ll be trouble.”
They fished and canoed; they hunted bears—a fact known to the bear, who kept out of their way—never was in it, Bender insisted; they went overboard every morning, one after another, in the almost ice-cold water of the lake, out again red as lobsters, back on a run, whooping with the cold to the blazing fire of the bungalow which Jackson had replenished with bundles of dried balsam that cracked and snapped with a roar while it toasted the bare backs and scorched the bare legs of each one in turn (the balsam was gathered the year before for this very purpose). They roamed the woods, getting a crack once in a while at a partridge or a squirrel; they strolled about the mill, listening to the whir of the saws and watching the “cut” as it was rolled away and was made to feed the huge piles of lumber and timber flanking the runway and far enough away from the huge stack to be out of the way of treacherous sparks; and at night they sat around Jackson’s constantly replenished fire and told stories of their college days or revived the current gossip of the club and the Street.
Muggles ruminated over each and every experience —all new to him—and kept his eyes open for the psychological moment when he would burst asunder the bonds of conventionality and rise to the full measure of his abilities. The Clanworthys had swung battle-axes and ridden milk-white chargers into the thickest of the fray. His turn would come; he felt it in his knee: then these unbelievers would be silenced.