Davis' Short Stories Vol. 3 HTML version

The Nature Faker
Richard Herrick was a young man with a gentle disposition, much money, and no sense
of humor. His object in life was to marry Miss Catherweight. For three years she had
tried to persuade him this could not be, and finally, in order to convince him, married
some one else. When the woman he loves marries another man, the rejected one is
popularly supposed to take to drink or to foreign travel. Statistics show that, instead, he
instantly falls in love with the best friend of the girl who refused him. But, as Herrick
truly loved Miss Catherweight, he could not worship any other woman, and so he became
a lover of nature. Nature, he assured his men friends, does not disappoint you. The more
thought, care, affection you give to nature, the more she gives you in return, and while, so
he admitted, in wooing nature there are no great moments, there are no heart-aches.
Jackson, one of the men friends, and of a frivolous disposition, said that he also could
admire a landscape, but he would rather look at the beautiful eyes of a girl he knew than
at the Lakes of Killarney, with a full moon, a setting sun, and the aurora borealis for a
background. Herrick suggested that, while the beautiful eyes might seek those of another
man, the Lakes of Killarney would always remain where you could find them. Herrick
pursued his new love in Connecticut on an abandoned farm which he converted into a
"model" one. On it he established model dairies and model incubators. He laid out old-
fashioned gardens, sunken gardens, Italian gardens, landscape gardens, and a game
The game preserve was his own especial care and pleasure. It consisted of two hundred
acres of dense forest and hills and ridges of rock. It was filled with mysterious caves,
deep chasms, tiny gurgling streams, nestling springs, and wild laurel. It was barricaded
with fallen tree-trunks and moss- covered rocks that had never felt the foot of man since
that foot had worn a moccasin. Around the preserve was a high fence stout enough to
keep poachers on the outside and to persuade the wild animals that inhabited it to linger
on the inside. These wild animals were squirrels, rabbits, and raccoons. Every day, in
sunshine or in rain, entering through a private gate, Herrick would explore this holy of
holies. For such vermin as would destroy the gentler animals he carried a gun. But it was
turned only on those that preyed upon his favorites. For hours he would climb through
this wilderness, or, seated on a rock, watch a bluebird building her nest or a squirrel
laying in rations against the coming of the snow. In time he grew to think he knew and
understood the inhabitants of this wild place of which he was the overlord. He looked
upon them not as his tenants but as his guests. And when they fled from him in terror to
caves and hollow tree-trunks, he wished he might call them back and explain he was their
friend, that it was due to him they lived in peace. He was glad they were happy. He was
glad it was through him that, undisturbed, they could live the simple life.
His fall came through ambition. Herrick himself attributed it to his too great devotion to
nature and nature's children. Jackson, he of the frivolous mind, attributed it to the fact
that any man is sure to come to grief who turns from the worship of God's noblest
handiwork, by which Jackson meant woman, to worship chipmunks and Plymouth Rock