فصل 03

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فصل 03

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CHAPTER THREE

Growing Up

On the ranch, the little Hamiltons began to grow up, and every year there was a new one. The first boy was George, a tall, handsome boy, gentle and polite, and the sinless boy grew to become a sinless man.

After him was Will, short and heavy and full of energy. He was a hard worker, and he wanted to be like everyone else. He was suspicious of new ideas. Maybe that was because his father was different from other men, and Will was embarrassed. When he was growing up, the people of the Salinas Valley still did not trust Samuel. He was not only a foreigner and an Irishman, but he also had strange ideas. He was interested in philosophy and music and poetry and art and he loved to read. Those things were only for the rich, not for the poor. In time, the Salinas Valley grew fond of Samuel, but Will’s ideas were already formed.

Will made money easily. When he started raising chickens, the price of eggs went up. He bought a share of a little store, and soon he had stores in several different towns. He bought a bicycle shop, and before long he started selling Ford cars.

Tom, the third son, was full of energy and ideas. When he was happy, he was very happy, but when his dog died the world ended.

Joe was the last son. He was lazy, and he preferred daydreaming to working on the farm. When he had failed at every job, his father asked him to look after their sixty sheep. This the least difficult job of all but he lost them - lost sixty sheep in the hills. Soon his family stopped asking him to work.

There were five Hamilton girls in the family. Lizzie, who was named after her mother, was the oldest. She married young and away. Next came Una, a studious, dark girl. Then there was Dessie, who loved to laugh, then Olive, my mother. And last was Mollie, who was a little beauty with lovely blonde hair and deep blue eyes.

Liza was a good woman and she raised good children. Year after year she produced them and fed them and baked bread, made their clothes, and clothed them in good manners and morals too. She had no knowledge of the world except what she read in the Bible. Everyone respected her, but they did not have warm feelings for her.

By the end of the century, all of Samuel and Liza’s children were nearly grown up. Una was a student, and Samuel was proud of her. Olive was preparing to become a teacher. This was a great honor for the family. Joe was going to college because he was not good at anything else. Will was making a fortune without really trying. Tom was trying new ideas and sometimes failing. Dessie was studying dressmaking. And Mollie, pretty Mollie, would obviously marry a rich man.

It was a good, well-balanced family, and Samuel was pleased with them. Some liked to build and others liked to dream. Some wanted the world to stay the same, and others wanted it to change. They were not rich and they were not poor, and they all belonged to the Salinas Valley.

After Adam joined the army and Cyrus moved to Washington, Charles lived the life of a bachelor. The house was dirty and quiet. He talked about finding a wife, but he was too shy to meet any girls. When he wanted s@x, he paid for it. He was lonely, and he missed his brother. He worked hard on the farm to keep busy.

One day, in his third year alone, he had an accident. He was using an iron bar to move a big stone out of a field. When it did not move, he became angry and pulled down on the bar with all his strength. The bar slipped, and the upper end crashed hard into his forehead. After a few weeks, his wound healed, but it left a, long, dark scar that began at his hairline and ended between his eyebrows. Charles hated the scar. “It looks like somebody marked me like a cow,” he wrote to Adam. “And it’s getting darker. People are always staring at it and talking about it. I don’t even want to go to town anymore.”

Adam left the army in 1885, after five years’ service, and began traveling home. He arrived in Chicago, stayed two days, went to Buffalo then Niagara Falls. He felt that he was sleepwalking. He missed the daily routines that he hated when he was in the army.

He missed the company of other men and he did not want to go home. He went back to Chicago and re-enlisted in the army for five more years.

Adam was changing trains in Kansas when a soldier put a message into his hand. It ordered him to report immediately to the office of the Secretary of War in Washington. His father found him there.

Adam hardly recognized him. He looked and talked like a great man. They walked to the hotel where Cyrus lived. “Why are you going?” he asked Adam.

“I didn’t want to go home.”

“I have influence,” said Cyrus. “I can have you sent to Washington. You can work for me.”

Adam felt like a little boy again, but he resisted the feeling.

“I want to go back where I was,” he said quietly. Adam saw the disappointment on his father’s face, and knew that he was lonely in Washington.

“Why don’t you bring Charles here?” he suggested.

“No, he’s better where he is,” replied Cyrus.

Charles had looked forward to Adam’s return. He had hired a woman from the town to clean the house from top to bottom. He waited and waited, but his brother did not come. Adam finally wrote a year later, but Charles did not reply right away. Time had done its work, and the brothers were strangers.

Time passed quickly for Adam. He followed the familiar routines of the army without thinking, and he became a sergeant, just before leaving the army in 1890, he wrote to Charles, “This time I’m coming home.” Charles did not hear another word from him for three years.

Adam wandered from one town to another, and by spring he had no money. He joined the army of restless men who were moving around the country in the nineties. Sometimes they worked, and sometimes they begged or stole. They followed the sun moving north and east in spring, then south and west in fall. They walked or hid on the trains, and they camped outside the towns at night.

Adam became an expert tramp. He worked when he could, or he knocked on doors and asked for food. Sometimes he stayed with a woman. He spoke like the people around him, so he did not attract attention. He learned how to avoid the police, until one day when he was arrested for vagrancy.

He was in Florida, on his way home. The sheriff’s men put him in jail, and the judge sentenced him to six months on a road gang. That is how the roads were built in those days. The prisoners were guarded by men with shotguns by day and chained together at night. The guards whipped a man if he resisted or rebelled. Adam knew that they were afraid of the men. He had learned from his days in the army that a frightened man is a dangerous man, so he stayed calm at all times. But as soon as they released him, he was arrested again. They gave him six more months. During his second six months, he completely hid his personality. The guards were not afraid of him, so they trusted him. They put him to work cleaning the camp and filling the water buckets. Then, three days before the end of his sentence, he escaped by swimming down the river. He broke into a store five days later, and stole some clothes. He traveled by night, and ate vegetables and fruit from farms.

Charles received very few letters, so when a thick letter arrived from a firm of attorneys in Washington, he sat down at the kitchen table and read it carefully. His father was dead. The attorneys were sorry about his father’s death, but they were excited, too. There was more than a hundred thousand dollars in Cyrus Trask’s bank account. In his will, he had left half to Adam and half to Charles.

Charles was puzzled. He did not want to think about it. He wanted Adam to come home. He put the letter into a drawer in the kitchen table. But he kept asking himself the same question where had his father got it?

A few weeks later, a boy brought him a telegram from the train station. ‘Urgent. Send one hundred dollars. Coming home Adam.”

When Adam came walking out from the village, Charles hurried up to him and shook hands.

“Father’s dead,” said Charles.

“I know,” replied Adam. “They told me at the station.”

“It was a big funeral,” said Charles. “The Vice President was there and the President sent flowers.” He went on talking, but Adam was not listening.

He looked at his brother, suddenly amazed. “I’m not afraid of him anymore!” he thought. “Why not? Was it the army? Or the chain gang? Or Fathers death?” He smiled happily as he spoke to Charles. I know you want to tell me something, so hurry up and Charles raised his head. “I can’t beat him anymore,” he thought miserably. “I want to ask you one question first,” he said. “Did you love our father?”

Adam was surprised, but he decided to answer. “No, I didn’t, sometimes he scared me. Sometimes I respected him, but most of the one I hated him. Now tell me why you want to know.” Charles shook his head. “I don’t understand it. He loved you. He loved everything you gave him, but he didn’t love me. Remember that knife I gave him? It’s here, in his desk. He didn’t even take it to Washington. And that dog you gave him? It was at the funeral. A general was holding it - it was blind, couldn’t walk. They shot it after the funeral.”

“I don’t understand,” Adam said. “What are you saying?” “I loved him,” Charles replied. He began to cry. A little of the old fear came back, so Adam did not go to him. He walked to the open doorway.

When Charles spoke again, his voice was tired. “Tell me, do you think our father could have been dishonest?” he asked. “I don’t know,” Adam said quickly. “No one ever said it. Now tell me what’s on your mind.”

“Father made a will. He left us over a hundred thousand!”

Adam laughed. “You’re crazy,” he said. “Don’t you mean a thousand dollars?”

“No” said Charles. “I mean a hundred thousand dollars. I don’t understand it. His salary was $135 a month. Where did it came from?”

“Maybe he invested it,” suggested Adam. “He knew some big men in Washington.”

“And there’s more,” said Charles unhappily. “Our father went into the Union Army in June, 1862. He had three month training here in Connecticut. He finished in September. He marched south. On October 12 he was hit in the leg and sent to the hospital. He came home in January. He wasn’t at any of the battles he talked about.”

Adam shook his head in disbelief.

“What are we going to do?” Charles asked anxiously “Everyone will know that our father stole the money.”

“I don’t believe that he stole it,” replied Adam, “and I believe that he fought in the war.” He thought for a minute. “Anyway, doesn’t matter. We’ll use the money well. Maybe we’ll stay here and maybe we’ll go to California.”

“I couldn’t ever leave here,” said Charles.

“We’ll see,” said his brother. “There’s no hurry.”

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