Acres of Unrest - Max Brand - ebook

Acres of Unrest ebook

Max Brand

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Opis

The Hale brothers, both successful ranchers, had a disagreement: Ross believed that with a fine education his son Peter would become even more successful than he was himself: Andy believed the opposite. Peter returns from college to his father’s ranch after an accident has left him physically crippled but not without ability or enterprise. Max Brand, was the pen name of Frederick Schiller Faust. He was a prolific American author best known for his classic western novels. Brand also created the famous character Dr. Kildare which became the basis of many films and television shows.

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Liczba stron: 355

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Contents

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Chapter XIII

Chapter XIV

Chapter XV

Chapter XVI

Chapter XVII

Chapter XVIII

Chapter XIX

Chapter XX

Chapter XXI

Chapter XXII

Chapter XXIII

Chapter XXIV

Chapter XXV

Chapter XXVI

Chapter XXVII

Chapter XXVIII

Chapter XXIX

Chapter XXX

Chapter XXXI

Chapter XXXII

Chapter XXXIII

Chapter XXXIV

Chapter XXXV

Chapter XXXVI

Chapter XXXVII

Chapter XXXVIII

Chapter XXXIX

Chapter XL

Chapter XLI

Chapter XLII

Chapter XLIII

CHAPTER I

This was the day of Ross Hale. The whole county knew it. When he got up that morning–and he had slept very little the night before. you may be sure–he looked at himself in the mirror and decided that he would now take ten years off his age and grow young once more.

He put on his best suit. scowling when he saw how shiny it was at the elbows. Then he went out and hitched his only team to the buckboard. It was a sorry pair, incurably thin, incurably down-headed, hardly fit to drag their feet along the road with the old buckboard trailing them, although Ross Hale forced them to carry him across the hills when he had to ride range.

Ross was desperately ashamed to go in for the great occasion in such a guise as this; nevertheless, he was mildly comforted by the knowledge that everyone understood. The whole county knew the wager that had been made between Ross and Andy Hale eleven years before, and the whole county was burning with excitement now that the decision was about to be made.

Eleven years before–to tell all briefly–the wives of Ross and Andy Hale were caught in a fire that broke out in the house of Andy. They were burned to death in spite of the great effort made to save them, The two brothers were left in exactly the same condition. They were of the same age, for they were twins, they were widowers, and they had each a boy of the same age.

In the winter that followed, when they talked over what the world might hold for each of them and for their boys, they laid their schemes, in their own ways, for the development of the young lives. To Andy Hale there was only one existence under the stars that was worthwhile. His argument ran something like this:

“Nobody but a fool would want to live in the city, if he could get away from it. No, everybody with good sense prefers to live in the country. Why? Because he ain’t so crowded, in the country. He’s got elbow room and breathing space. And that’s the reason that he goes out from the cities. Well, if he goes to the country for that reason, where in the world will he find more elbow room than right here in this county? Where will he find better mountains or more of them? Where will he find better grass for his horses and his cows? Tell me, partner?”

Andy Hale, who was so exactly suited by this world that he found around him, decided that he would raise his son to follow in his footsteps and do exactly as he had done. He took pains that young Charlie Hale should attend the same tumble-down shack of a school where he himself had learned his letters. He also took care that Charlie did not remain in the school a minute longer than his father had remained before him.

“What made a man of me is going to make a man of my boy,” he announced to the world at large–and particularly to his brother, for there was a great contest on between them.

The views of Ross Hale’s differed materially from those of his twin brother’s. Ross could not tell just what was wrong with the range. He did not mind riding range; he was a cowboy of sorts–so good with a gun that he could have made a living as a professional hunter, if nothing better had come to his hand. On the whole, although he thought that this life might be well enough, he dimly recognized the faint horizon of another universe, a sort of Milky Way that streaked thinly across his sky. And that other universe was the world of mind and soul.

In just what fashion the human brain might expand and flower, Ross Hale did not know. But he knew that he was extremely eager that his son should wander through the unknown spaces where his own feet had never trod. So he came to the great decision that young Peter Hale should he sent to a school where he could be prepared for a great Eastern university.

He consulted the rich rancher, Crowell, on the subject, and Crowell, in his usual positive manner, said: “There is only one place in the world where an American boy may be properly prepared to enter a great American university. That place is Huntley School. Furthermore, there is only one great American university. But that I need not tell you, because, if your boy attends the Huntley School, he will be sure to know the name of the only real university before he gets out of the doors.”

The matter was thus settled for the rancher, but when he began to look into the matter, he found that this was a staggering thing. Education was not a gift in the Eastern states; it was something that had to be paid for, and often paid for through the nose. However, Anthony Crowell had spoken. And upon such matters no man on the range would dare to question his opinion, however little Crowell apparently knew about cows, poor fellow. Thus, it never came into Ross’s mind that he might be able to provide for his son more reasonably.

He had to clean up his savings in cash at the bank in order to provide for the very first year at Huntley School. But he made the provision, and, after that, he could not resist the desire to redeem the money he had already spent by completing the work that he had begun. And each succeeding year was more expensive than the one before.

Since he could not afford to spend $200 on a trip East to see his boy, he could not afford to spend the same amount of money in bringing his boy West to see him. Therefore the years slid along, one after the other, with more and more money departing from the packet of Ross Hale, and never a glimpse of his boy, Peter, in the flesh.

Peter himself, even when he was only fourteen, realized that he must be a heavy drain, and he wrote home to say that there were various ways of picking up quite a bit of pocket money and arranging matters so that, when he got to the college age, he would be able to provide his own board and lodging–if his father could only manage the tuition fee. This letter gave a ray of hope to the rancher. He carried it to his educational oracle, Mr. Anthony Crowell.

The latter said instantly: “Education serves two purposes, Hale. In the first place, it gives a youngster mental discipline and it pours a certain quantity of facts into his mind, together with the knowledge of how to go about collecting new facts about new subjects, even after he has left school. But on the other hand, education gives a boy a prolonged childhood. It gives him a longer season during which the burden of the weary world is removed from his shoulders, Hale. He plays out in the sun without a bit of thought for the shadows that are to come. His body grows straight and his muscles grow strong. And his mind opens its gates and gathers in impressions. But if you make a poor lad work his way through school, the weight of the world is introduced, and it crushes flat that play existence that should fill the school from wall to wall. School is not for work only. It is primarily a social experience and a place where the boy can remain a child until he is actually forced to take on the duties of a man… until he yearns to take them on, Hale. That’s the great thing.”

Ross Hale did not understand a great part of this speech, and what was clear to him was really hardly more than that Anthony Crowell did not advise allowing a boy to work his way through a school. This was enough. Of these matters, Ross Hale knew nothing, and he was such a frank and honest man that he never dreamed of pretending an opinion in matters where he was not learned by experience.

He went back home and wrote to his boy in the very spirit of the lecture that had just been read to him. He wrote, in effect:

Spread your elbows at the board, and do not regard any reasonable expense. The ranch is doing very well. I want you to have a good time, along with your studies!

Then he went down to see his brother Andy and sold him the southeast forty- acre field that Andy had been yearning for all these many, many years.

The resolution, which Andy and Ross had taken, of developing their boys according to their own views, had put Andy on his honor. He had changed his old way of living, ceased being a happy-go-lucky, free-swinging individual, without that understrain of seriousness that had always been a shadow in the life of his twin brother. But when he saw Ross settling down and making great sacrifices for his boy, Andy changed his own way of life, little by little. A certain number of years hence–so the agreement between Ross and Andy went–they were to produce their sons to Will Nast, the sheriff. And they would then accept the verdict that the sheriff might pronounce as to which was the finer man and the more valuable citizen.

This was a contest upon which a great deal depended. There was no doubt but that Peter Hale would come from his education a fine lad, and Charlie Hale would need a great deal to compete against him and keep from being disgraced. So Andy Hale did two things. In the first place, he seriously impressed on his boy the necessity of doing all things well that are expected from a cowpuncher and a range rider. In the second place, he set about building up a respectable property, for his dream was that, at the end of the probation period, Charlie might appear as the prospective proprietor of a fine bit of land and cows. That would give point and emphasis to all the qualifications that Charlie might possess as a cowpuncher.

So Andy, from being a free spender, became a most thrifty and saving soul, and, as the years went on, his place began to show all the effects that industry and care and forethought could present. He had good fortune, also, and what he turned his hand to prospered exceedingly. His cattle were free from sickness and plagues. When he tried his hand at crop raising, he got bumper returns of wheat and barley. And he always managed to sell at the top of the market and buy everything at the bottom.

“I dunno how it is,” said Andy Hale, marveling at himself.

“Everything seems to turn out well.”

There was one touch of learning in Ross Hale. He used it now: “You’ve sold yourself for the touch of Midas,” he said.

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