The Tempting of Tavernake HTML version
II.8. Back To Civilization
Pritchard, trim and neat, a New Yorker from the careful arrangement of his tie to the tips
of his patent boots, gazed with something like amazement at the man whom he had come
to meet at the Grand Central Station. Tavernake looked, indeed, like some splendid
bushman whose life has been spent in the kingdom of the winds and the sun and the rain.
He was inches broader round the chest, and carried himself with a new freedom. His face
was bronzed right down to the neck. His beard was fullgrown, his clothes travel-stained
and worn. He seemed like a breath of real life in the great New York depot, surrounded
by streams of black-coated, pale-cheeked men.
Pritchard laughed softly as he passed his arm through his friend's.
"Come, my Briton," he said, "my primitive man, I have rooms for you in a hotel close
here. A bath and a mint julep, then I'll take you to a tailor's. What about the big country?
It's better than your salt marshes, eh? Better than your little fishing village? Better than
"You know it," Tavernake answered. "I feel as though I'd been drawing in life for month
after month. Have I got to wear boots like yours--patent?"
"Got to be done," Pritchard declared.
"And the hat--oh, my Heavens!" Tavernake groaned. "I'll never become civilized again."
"We'll see," Pritchard laughed. "Say, Tavernake, it was a great trip of ours. Everything's
turning out marvelously. The oil and the copper are big, man--big, I tell you. I reckon
your five thousand dollars will be well on the way to half a million. I'm pretty near there
It was not until later on, when he was alone, that Tavernake realized with how little
interest he listened to his companion's talk of their success. It was so short a time ago
since the building up of a fortune had been the one aim upon which every nerve of his
body was centered. Curiously enough, now he seemed to take it as a matter of course.
"On second thoughts, I'll send a tailor round to the hotel," Pritchard declared. "I've rooms
myself next yours. We can go out and buy boots and the other things afterwards."
By nightfall, Tavernake's wardrobe was complete. Even Pritchard regarded him with a
certain surprise. He seemed, somehow, to have gained a new dignity.
"Say, but you look great!" he exclaimed. "They won't believe it at the meeting to-morrow
that you are the man who crossed the Yolite Mountains and swam the Peraneek River.
That's a wonderful country you were in, Tavernake, after you left the tracks."