Windy McPherson's Son HTML version

One night in April Colonel Tom Rainey of the great Rainey Arms Company and his chief
lieutenant, young Sam McPherson, treasurer and chairman of the board of directors of the
company, slept together in a room in a St. Paul hotel. It was a double room with two
beds, and Sam, lying on his pillow, looked across the bed to where the colonel's paunch
protruding itself between him and the light from a long narrow window, made a round
hill above which the moon just peeped. During the evening the two men had sat for
several hours at a table in the grill down stairs while Sam discussed a proposition he
proposed making to a St. Paul jobber the next day. The account of the jobber, a large one,
had been threatened by Lewis, the Jew manager of the Edwards Arms Company, the
Rainey Company's only important western rival, and Sam was full of ideas to checkmate
the shrewd trade move the Jew had made. At the table, the colonel had been silent and
taciturn, an unusual attitude of mind for him, and Sam lay in bed and looked at the moon
gradually working its way over the undulating abdominal hill, wondering what was in his
mind. The hill dropped, showing the full face of the moon, and then rose again
obliterating it.
"Sam, were you ever in love?" asked the colonel, with a sigh.
Sam turned and buried his face in the pillow and the white covering of his bed danced up
and down. "The old fool, has it come to that with him?" he asked himself. "After all these
years of single life is he going to begin running after women now?"
He did not answer the colonel's question. "There are breakers ahead for you, old boy," he
thought, the figure of quiet, determined, little Sue Rainey, the colonel's daughter, as he
had seen her on the rare occasions when he had dined at the Rainey home or she had
come into the LaSalle Street offices, coming into his mind. With a quiver of enjoyment of
the mental exercise, he tried to imagine the colonel as a swaggering blade among women.
The colonel, oblivious of Sam's mirth and of his silence regarding his experience in the
field of love, began talking, making amends for the silence in the grill. He told Sam that
he had decided to take to himself a new wife, and confessed that the view of the matter
his daughter might take worried him. "Children are so unfair," he complained; "they
forget about a man's feelings and can't realise that his heart is still young."
With a smile on his lips, Sam began trying to picture a woman's lying in his place and
looking at the moon over the pulsating hill. The colonel continued talking. He grew
franker, telling the name of his beloved and the circumstances of their meeting and
courtship. "She is an actress, a working girl," he said feelingly. "I met her at a dinner
given by Will Sperry one evening and she was the only woman there who did not drink
wine. After the dinner we went for a drive together and she told me of her hard life, of
her fight against temptations, and of her brother, an artist, she is trying to get started in
the world. We have been together a dozen times and have written letters, and, Sam, we
have discovered an affinity for each other."