Windy McPherson's Son
One afternoon in early September Sam got on a westward-bound train intending to visit
his sister on the farm near Caxton. For years he had heard nothing from Kate, but she
had, he knew, two daughters, and he thought he would do something for them.
"I will put them on the Virginia farm and make a will leaving them my money," he
thought. "Perhaps I shall be able to make them happy by setting them up in life and
giving them beautiful clothes to wear."
At St. Louis he got off the train, thinking vaguely that he would see an attorney and make
arrangements about the will, and for several days stayed about the Planters Hotel with a
set of drinking companions he had picked up. One afternoon he began going from place
to place drinking and gathering companions. An ugly light was in his eyes and he looked
at men and women passing in the streets, feeling that he was in the midst of enemies, and
that for him the peace, contentment, and good cheer that shone out of the eyes of others
was beyond getting.
In the late afternoon, followed by a troop of roistering companions, he came out upon a
street flanked with small, brick warehouses facing the river, where steamboats lay tied to
"I want a boat to take me and my crowd for a cruise up and down the river," he
announced, approaching the captain of one of the boats. "Take us up and down the river
until we are tired of it. I will pay what it costs."
It was one of the days when drink would not take hold of him, and he went among his
companions, buying drinks and thinking himself a fool to continue furnishing
entertainment for the vile crew that sat about him on the deck of the boat. He began
shouting and ordering them about.
"Sing louder," he commanded, tramping up and down and scowling at his companions.
A young man of the party who had a reputation as a dancer refused to perform when
commanded. Springing forward Sam dragged him out on the deck before the shouting
"Now dance!" he growled, "or I will throw you into the river."
The young man danced furiously, and Sam marched up and down and looked at him and
at the leering faces of the men and women lounging along the deck or shouting at the
dancer. The liquor in him beginning to take effect, a queerly distorted version of his old
passion for reproduction came to him and he raised his hand for silence.