A Son of His Father - Harold Bell Wright - ebook

A Son of His Father ebook

Harold Bell Wright

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When in 1925 his first novel „The Son of His Father” was published at the Chicago publishing house, then its circulation took twenty-seven freight cars. The „Son of His Father” was made near the Oracle, and his first show was in Tucson. A great adventure in the desert and mountain world of Arizona and the Mexican border. Adventure lovers will amuse by this novel.

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Liczba stron: 451

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Contents

CHAPTER I. THE GIRL IN THE TOURIST CAR

CHAPTER II. FATHERS AND SONS

CHAPTER III. “WHERE IS LARRY O’SHEA?”

CHAPTER IV. JAKE ZOBETSER

CHAPTER V. THE GUESTS OF LAS ROSAS

CHAPTER VI. BIG BOY MORGAN’S INHERITANCE

CHAPTER VII. A WOMAN AT LAS ROSAS

CHAPTER VIII. THE DAY’S WORK

CHAPTER IX. SARCO

CHAPTER X. MEMORIES

CHAPTER XI. DOLORES

CHAPTER XII. PABLO’S PLAN

CHAPTER XIII. THE CONTROLLING INTEREST

CHAPTER XIV. NORA’S CHANCE

CHAPTER XV. A SON OF HIS FATHER

CHAPTER XVI. “’TIS BETTER TO LAUGH THAN TO CRY”

CHAPTER XVII. BLACK CANYON

CHAPTER XVIII. AT THE OLD ADOBE RUIN

CHAPTER XIX. ZOBETSER’S MESSENGER

CHAPTER XX. THE BROTHER OF NORA O’SHEA

CHAPTER XXI. JULY FIRST

CHAPTER XXII. HAPPINESS

CHAPTER I. THE GIRL IN THE TOURIST CAR

With the right background and proper perspective, the most commonplace things of our everyday lives assume colossal proportions.

A westbound, overland train was somewhere between Kansas City and El Paso. Through two long, hot, dusty days a young woman in the tourist car had been, to her fretful fellow passengers, an object of curious interest.

Those who had been with her on the train from New York to Chicago knew that she had come from the great eastern city; but any one could see that New York was not her home. Slow-witted from their grimy discomforts, and indolent from the dragging hours of their confinement in the stifling atmosphere of the second-class coach, they wondered about her with many speculative comments. Who was she? Where was she from? Where was she going–and why?

Whenever the feeble attractions of a perspiring card game failed, the players invariably turned their attention, with pointless jests, to that lonely figure in the queer-looking dress. One couple–a swagger man and a tawdry woman, who were improving their traveling hours with a cheap flirtation made the bundle, which served the strange passenger as a traveling bag, a mark for their ill-concealed merriment. When book or magazine palled, the listless reader would stare at her until a flash of sea-gray eyes would send the intruding gaze guiltily back to the neglected page. At meal time or whenever the train stopped–as even a westbound overland must occasionally do–the common interest was transferred, but never for long. The usual stock remarks about the various sections of the country seen from the windows and the inevitable boasting comparisons with the various back-homes represented were exhausted. Political issues were settled and unsettled. The condition of the country was analyzed, accounted for, and condemned. But always, when every other point of conversational contact failed, that lonely young woman served.

And the young woman was as interested in the curious passengers–but with a difference. If she knew and cared that they were whispering about her, she was careful to show no concern. If she felt their laughter, she gave no sign, save perhaps a flush of color and an odd little smile as if she were trying to enjoy the joke.

As the long hours of the westward journey passed, and the towns and cities became smaller and farther apart, and the might of the land made itself more and more felt, the girl stole a wistful glance, now and then, at her fellow travelers. She was so alone. At times, as she gazed upon the broad rolling miles that now lay between the swiftly moving train and the distant skyline, there would come into her expressive face a look of bewilderment and awe, as though she were overwhelmed by the immensity of the scene. Again, there would be in her eyes a shadow of fear as though she were not altogether sure of what awaited her at her journey’s end.

At the first station west of El Paso a deep-bosomed country mother with a babe in her arms came into the car and was conducted by the porter to a seat across the aisle and a little behind the young woman. From her window the girl had seen the stalwart, sun-browned, rancher husband and it was not difficult for her to picture the home life thus represented. As she watched the mother and child, her face was as if she shared their happiness.

In strange contrast to the hurried passing of the miles the slow hours dragged wearily by. The young woman now looked out upon a wide expanse of dun, gray desert lying between ranges of barren, purple hills. From rim to rim the earth lay dry and hot under a sun-filled sky which, in the blue vastness of its mighty arch, held no cloud. Save for the disturbing rush of the passing train she could see, in all the dun, gray miles, no moving thing. As far as the eye could reach, the only visible mark of human life was that thin, black thread of steel. The gaunt and treeless mountains were set as if to mark the awful boundaries of a forbidden land, but from east to west that curving line was drawn with a bold, mathematical determination in daring defiance to the grim and menacing desolation.

Is it too much to say that these threads of steel constitute the warp of our national life as it is laid on the continental loom? And these fast flying trains–what are they but shuttles, weaving the design of our nationality? The factory villages and the mighty cities of our Far East–the farms and towns of our Middle West–the far flung cattle ranches and the wide ranges of our West–are these more than figures in the pattern of our whole? Consider then the threads that are carried by these swift train shuttles to and fro across the loom: planters, lumbermen, manufacturers, farmers, teachers, artists, writers, printers, priests, devotees of pleasure, slaves of the mill, servants of truth, enemies of righteousness–colored with every shade and tone of every race and nation in all this wide, round world.

But there were no luxurious, overland train shuttles for those hardy souls who first dared to go from east to west across the continent. Slow ox teams and lumbering wagons on dusty trails, under burning skies carried the human threads of that perilous weaving. Ah, but the quality of that old-fashioned thread! The strength, the courage, the conviction, the purpose of those lives that were firm spun on the wheels of adversity from the heroic fiber of the generation which first conceived the design of our nation! The weaving was slow, but the work endures. For us the warp was laid–to our hands came the shuttles–to us the unfinished pattern. But what of the quality of the thread which, in our generation, is being woven into this design, America?

Occasionally, now, the girl in the tourist car caught fleeting glimpses of human life in the seemingly empty and silent land–a red section house on the right of way, a dingy white blur of cattle shipping pens, a distant ranch house, a windmill with watering troughs, a pond where cattle came to drink, the lone shack of some hopeful homesteader. And then, with a long-drawn scream from the whistle and the grinding of brakes against protesting wheels, the headlong rush was checked and the train stopped.

From her window, the girl saw a cluster of unpainted shacks and adobe cabins, one street with three forlorn stores–hardware and implements, general merchandise, drugs and soft drinks–a dilapidated post office, a disreputable garage, a weather beaten hotel, and a tiny depot. From the station platform one might have thrown a stone in any direction beyond the city limits. Some two or three miles away a cloud of smelter smoke towered above a small group of low, black hills. A few natives–cowboys with fringed chaps and jingling spurs, Indians in the costume of their tribe, and town loungers in shirt sleeves and big hats–had gathered to witness the event.

Many of the passengers, excited as children over this break in the monotony of their journey, hurried from the coaches to snatch a breath of clean air while walking up and down the platform and “viewing the sights.” But these travelers, who were so alert to anything new or strange, failed to notice that which caught and held the attention of the young woman at the tourist car window. A little apart from the general gathering, a small company of men and women were grouped about a man who wore on his hat a wide band of black. The man’s hat was old but the band of black was new. On a baggage truck near by there was a coffin.

The conductor, watch in hand, hurried from the station. He paused beside the man in mourning and with him and his friends stood watching as the truck with the coffin was moved toward the forward end of the train. Then the conductor raised his hand and turned: “All aboard,” and the careless, sight-seeing passengers, with laughter and jest, rushed for the coaches. The girl at the window saw the hurried handshakes and the quick good-bys of the man’s neighbors and friends while one of the women placed a tiny bundle of humanity in his awkward arms. The train started hurriedly as if impatient to be off and away to business of more importance. The porter conducted the man, with the new band of black on his hat and the baby in his arms, to a seat in the tourist car.

The man was roughly dressed but clean, with hands that told of heavy toil. His face was the face of a self-respecting laborer. His eyes were heavy with sleepless nights and with grief which he had no skill to hide. The porter’s manner was marked by a gentle deference not usually accorded his second-class passengers. The other occupants of the car settled themselves in various attitudes of weary discontent–indifferent to anything but their own discomforts. The sea-gray eyes of the lonely young woman in the queer-looking dress were misty with tears.

The people who were privileged to sit on the rear platform of the observation car watched the lonely little town fade into the immensity of the lonely land. They saw that column of smoke above the group of low, black hills but gave it no thought just as they gave no thought to the generation that had so bravely laid the lines of steel over which their luxurious train shuttle flew so smoothly. Not one of them dreamed that their children, from the observation platforms of the future, would look upon a city there of which the nation would be proud. They did not know of the riches hidden in those bare, forbidding hills. They had no vision of the fields and orchards that would tame the wildness of the desert. They could not see the homes and schools that would come to be. With thought only for themselves and their little passing day they were as dead to the future of their country as they were indifferent to its history, and apparently cared as little for either the past or the future as they did for that coffin for which their train had stopped.

A train man passing through the car paused a moment beside the man with the baby and, as if he wanted somehow to help, adjusted the window shade. The conductor came, and his voice was kindly and sympathetic as he answered the man’s low-spoken, anxious questions. And in the eyes of the watching girl a smile shone through the mist of tears.

An hour or more passed. The man, holding the baby in his arms, sat motionless, gazing stolidly at the back of the seat before him. Many of the passengers dozed. The couple behind the girl talked in low, confidential tones.

Suddenly, above the noise of the train, came a wailing cry. The man with the baby started and glanced hurriedly around, with a look half frightened half appealing.

The cry came again–louder and more insistent. Several passengers stirred uneasily and looked about with frowns of annoyance. The man, with hoarse, murmuring voice and awkward movements, endeavored to quiet the awakened infant. The cries only increased in volume.

By now the passengers were turning in their seats with looks of indignant protest. A complaining voice or two was heard. The man, confused by the attention he was receiving and helpless to quiet his child, was pitiful in his embarrassment.

The swagger man and the tawdry woman exchanged remarks. A passenger across the aisle, hearing, concurred, and the man, thus encouraged, spoke in a tone which reached half the car: “If people can’t take care of their darned kids, they’ve no business bringin’ ’em on the train.” His companion, in the same vein, supplemented his effort with: “It’s outrageous–where’s the squalling brat’s mother anyway?”

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