Windy McPherson's Son
One fine warm morning in the fall Sam was sitting in a little park in the centre of a
Pennsylvania manufacturing town watching men and women going through the quiet
streets to the factories and striving to overcome a feeling of depression aroused by an
experience of the evening before. He had come into town over a poorly made clay road
running through barren hills, and, depressed and weary, had stood on the shores of a
river, swollen by the early fall rains, that flowed along the edges of the town.
Before him in the distance he had looked into the windows of a huge factory, the black
smoke from which added to the gloom of the scene that lay before him. Through the
windows of the factory, dimly seen, workers ran here and there, appearing and
disappearing, the glare of the furnace fire lighting now one, now another of them,
sharply. At his feet the tumbling waters that rolled and pitched over a little dam
fascinated him. Looking closely at the racing waters his head, light from physical
weariness, reeled, and in fear of falling he had been compelled to grip firmly the small
tree against which he leaned. In the back yard of a house across the stream from Sam and
facing the factory four guinea hens sat on a board fence, their weird, plaintive cries
making a peculiarly fitting accompaniment to the scene that lay before him, and in the
yard itself two bedraggled fowls fought each other. Again and again they sprang into the
fray, striking out with bills and spurs. Becoming exhausted, they fell to picking and
scratching among the rubbish in the yard, and when they had a little recovered renewed
the struggle. For an hour Sam had looked at the scene, letting his eyes wander from the
river to the grey sky and to the factory belching forth its black smoke. He had thought
that the two feebly struggling fowls, immersed in their pointless struggle in the midst of
such mighty force, epitomised much of man's struggle in the world, and, turning, had
gone along the sidewalks and to the village hotel, feeling old and tired. Now on the bench
in the little park, with the early morning sun shining down through the glistening rain
drops clinging to the red leaves of the trees, he began to lose the sense of depression that
had clung to him through the night.
A young man who walked in the park saw him idly watching the hurrying workers, and
stopped to sit beside him.
"On the road, brother?" he asked.
Sam shook his head, and the other began talking.
"Fools and slaves," he said earnestly, pointing to the men and women passing on the
sidewalk. "See them going like beasts to their bondage? What do they get for it? What
kind of lives do they lead? The lives of dogs."
He looked at Sam for approval of the sentiment he had voiced.
"We are all fools and slaves," said Sam, stoutly.