Windy McPherson's Son HTML version

For weeks and months Sam led a wandering vagabond life, and surely a stranger or more
restless vagabond never went upon the road. In his pocket he had at almost any time from
one to five thousand dollars, his bag went on from place to place ahead of him, and now
and then he caught up with it, unpacked it, and wore a suit of his former Chicago clothes
upon the streets of some town. For the most part, however, he wore the rough clothes
bought from Ed, and, when these were gone, others like them, with a warm canvas outer
jacket, and for rough weather a pair of heavy boots lacing half way up the legs. Among
the people, he passed for a rather well-set-up workman with money in his pocket going
his own way.
During all those months of wandering, and even when he had returned to something
nearer his former way of life, his mind was unsettled and his outlook on life disturbed.
Sometimes it seemed to him that he, among all men, was a unique, an innovation. Day
after day his mind ground away upon his problem and he was determined to seek and to
keep on seeking until he found for himself a way of peace. In the towns and in the
country through which he passed he saw the clerks in the stores, the merchants with
worried faces hurrying into banks, the farmers, brutalised by toil, dragging their weary
bodies homeward at the coming of night, and told himself that all life was abortive, that
on all sides of him it wore itself out in little futile efforts or ran away in side currents, that
nowhere did it move steadily, continuously forward giving point to the tremendous
sacrifice involved in just living and working in the world. He thought of Christ going
about seeing the world and talking to men, and thought that he too would go and talk to
them, not as a teacher, but as one seeking eagerly to be taught. At times he was filled
with longing and inexpressible hopes and, like the boy of Caxton, would get out of bed,
not now to stand in Miller's pasture watching the rain on the surface of the water, but to
walk endless miles through the darkness getting the blessed relief of fatigue into his body
and often paying for and occupying two beds in one night.
Sam wanted to go back to Sue; he wanted peace and something like happiness, but most
of all he wanted work, real work, work that would demand of him day after day the best
and finest in him so that he would be held to the need of renewing constantly the better
impulses of his mind. He was at the top of his life, and the few weeks of hard physical
exertion as a driver of nails and a bearer of timbers had begun to restore his body to
shapeliness and strength, so that he was filled anew with all of his native restlessness and
energy; but he was determined that he would not again pour himself out in work that
would react upon him as had his money making, his dream of beautiful children, and this
last half-formed dream of a kind of financial fatherhood to the Illinois town.
The incident with Ed and the red-haired man had been his first serious effort at anything
like social service achieved through controlling or attempting to influence the public
mind, for his was the type of mind that runs to the concrete, the actual. As he sat in the
ravine talking to Jake, and, later, coming home in the boat under the multitude of stars, he
had looked up from among the drunken workmen and his mind had seen a city built for a