Along the well-remembered streets of Sequoia Bryce Cardigan and his father walked arm in arm, their progress continuously interrupted by well-meaning but impulsive Sequoians who insisted upon halting the pair to shake hands with Bryce and bid him welcome home. In the presence of those third parties the old man quickly conquered the agitation he had felt at this long-deferred meeting with his son, and when presently they left the business section of the town and turned into a less-frequented street, his emotion assumed the character of a quiet joy, evidenced in a more erect bearing and a firmer tread, as if he strove, despite his seventy-six years, not to appear incongruous as he walked beside his splendid son.
“I wish I could see you more clearly,” he said presently. His voice as well as his words expressed profound regret, but there was no hint of despair or heartbreak now.
Bryce, who up to this moment had refrained from discussing his father’s misfortunes, drew the old man a little closer to his side.
“What’s wrong with your eyes, pal?” he queried. He did not often address his parent, after the fashion of most sons, as “Father,” “Dad” or “Pop.” They were closer to each other than that, and a rare sense of perfect comradeship found expression, on Bryce’s part, in such salutations as “pal,” “partner” and, infrequently, “old sport.” When arguing with his father, protesting with him or affectionately scolding him, Bryce, with mock seriousness, sometimes called the old man John Cardigan.
“Cataracts, son,” his father answered. “Merely the penalty of old age.”
“But can’t something be done about it?” demanded Bryce. “Can’t they be cured somehow or other?”
“Certainly they can. But I shall have to wait until they are completely matured and I have become completely blind; then a specialist will perform an operation on my eyes, and in all probability my sight will be restored for a few years. However, I haven’t given the matter a great deal of consideration. At my age one doesn’t find very much difficulty in making the best of everything. And I am about ready to quit now. I’d like to, in fact; I’m tired.”
“Oh, but you can’t quit until you’ve seen your redwoods again,” Bryce reminded him. “I suppose it’s been a long time since you’ve visited the Valley of the Giants; your long exile from the wood-goblins has made you a trifle gloomy, I’m afraid.”
John Cardigan nodded. “I haven’t seen them in a year and a half, Bryce. Last time I was up, I slipped between the logs on the old skid-road and like to broke my old fool neck. But even that wasn’t warning enough for me. I cracked right on into the timber and got lost.”
“Lost? Poor old partner! And what did you do about it?”
“The sensible thing, my boy. I just sat down under a tree and waited for George Sea Otter to trail me and bring me home.”