Scott Burton, Forester
The Project Gutenberg eBook, Scott Burton, Forester, by Edward G. (EdwardGheen) Cheyney, Illustrated by Norman Rockwell
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Title: Scott Burton, Forester
Author: Edward G. (Edward Gheen) Cheyney
Release Date: June 9, 2018 [eBook #57298]
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SCOTT BURTON, FORESTER
“Hello, Scotty, have you decided yetwhich one it will be?” Dick Bradshawcalled, eagerly, as he ran up thewalk to the old Burton home. He had been awayfor two weeks, and when he left, the selection of aforest school for Scott had been the all absorbingquestion.
“Yes,” Scott answered, “it was decided a weekago. You know there never has been any doubtin my mind. I picked out the Western college inthe first place, but father and mother did not wantme to go so far away from home. I persuadedthem last week that it was the best thing to do, andthey consented.”
Dick’s face fell. “That means I shall not see youfor four years,” he growled.
“Oh no, Dick,” Scott answered quickly, “notover three at the most, and possibly not over two.That was what persuaded father and mother to letme go. You see they may give me enough extracredit for that extra high school work and thosethree years of summer school we took, to enable meto squeeze through in two years. I have sent in mycredits, and shall find out when I get there.”
Dick brightened up a little. The boys had grownup together in the little New England village, theclosest of friends, and the idea of a long separationwas pretty hard, especially for the one who was tostay at home. They had always had the sametastes in books, studies and pleasures. Both werehard students and both preferred long walks in thewoods and fields to the games that most boys play.These traits had kept them somewhat apart fromthe other boys, and thrown them almost exclusivelyon each other’s society.
“When do you go?” Dick asked.
“Early tomorrow morning,” Scott answered.“You see it takes two days to get there. I wasafraid you would not get back in time for me to seeyou at all.”
“Tomorrow!” Dick exclaimed indignantly.“Why didn’t you pick out Yale? You could havecome home once in a while then, and we could havehad a great time together there next year.” Dickwas planning on taking some special work in biologyat Yale the next season.
Scott was stung by the reproach in Dick’s voice.“You know perfectly well I would have done it ifI could. Yale has a graduate school and I couldnot get in. Why don’t you come out with me?”
“Maybe I shall if you find out that it is anygood. Why do you want to go to a place that youdo not know anything about?” Dick remonstrated.
“But I do know something about it, Dick. Iknow that it is in a new country that I have neverseen, that it has a good reputation, and that a largepart of the work is given in camp. What more doyou want?”
“Well,” Dick answered, “that camp part soundsgood to me and if the biology is taught in a campI may be out there with you next year. You findout about that and let me know. I have to be goingnow. I just came up on the way from thetrain to find out what you had decided. Mother iswaiting for me. See you later.” And he hurrieddown the walk.
“Come over after supper,” Scott called after himand walked slowly into the house. This thing ofleaving Dick when he was taking it so hard was thetoughest pull of all. He knew Dick through andthrough, and he suddenly realized that he did notknow anything about any of the people where hewas going. His intimate knowledge of boys waslimited almost entirely to Dick, and he felt a certaintimidity in meeting so many strangers.
As he entered the old home where he had alwayslived he felt that it was dearer to him than he knew,in spite of the fact that he was so eager to leave it.His father was a doctor there in the little villageof Wabern, Mass., a man devoted to his profession,which yielded a large amount of work with a smallincome. He had always taken it for granted thathis only child would follow in his footsteps, andfor many years he had tried in every way to interestthe boy in his work. He had taken him onmany a long drive on the rounds of his work andtried to impress on him the beauties of healingsickness and alleviating pain. It was not till Scottwas a strapping big fellow of sixteen that the astonishedfather realized that his boy had driftedhopelessly away from the medical profession.
He had noted with pride Scott’s collection ofplants, bugs, small animals and rocks, and the boy’slove for such things pleased him. It came to himas a shock when he discovered that the boy’s pointof view was entirely different from his own. Forhim the specimens were all related in some wayto the medical profession; to Scott they representedonly the different phases of nature. It was themake-up of the great “outdoors” which interestedhim, and he longed to be a part of it. It was theopportunity of such a life that first attracted himtoward forestry, and his mind once made up he bentall his energies to preparing for the work. Hisfather and mother concealed their disappointmentas best they could and helped him along in this unknownline of work.
At last the time had come when a special courseat college was necessary, and the question of whichschool had to be decided. Scott’s lack of a degreebarred him from the graduate schools of the East,and in his heart he was rather glad of it. He knewevery plant, animal and rock in that section of thecountry and was eager for new fields to conquer.The greater proportion of actual woods work wasa further incentive. With these things in mind hehad studied the catalogs of the different schools bythe hour, and had finally decided on Minnesota.His parents had objected at first on account of thedistance from home but they had finally yielded tohis wish.
And now the question was settled. His applicationhad been accepted, Dick had given a grudgingapproval, and he was actually packing up togo.
In the hall he met his father, a mild-eyed manof fifty, just returning from his daily round ofmercy.
“Well, Scott,” he said cheerfully, “you are leavingthe old nest and taking a pretty long flight forthe first one. See that you fly straight, boy. Yourmother and I have done all that we can to developyour wings, and the rest of it is up to you. Let’sgo to dinner.”
Mrs. Burton was waiting for them in the dining-room.She was very tired from the work of preparingScott for his journey, and blue at the thoughtof losing him, but she smiled her sweetest smile,and did her best to cheer the boy’s last meal athome. There was nothing unusual about the dinner,but Scott felt a certain close companionshipwith his father and mother, an equality, that hehad never felt before. It gave him a new feelingof confidence and responsibility that no amount oflecturing could have done.
Before they arose from the table the doctor said:“Here’s something for you to remember, Scott.You already know that book knowledge is not everything.You know that a great deal can be learnedfrom nature, but there is one important source ofknowledge that you must not neglect. You are goingwhere there will be hundreds of young men,men of all kinds and character. They will be agood sample of the men of the world, and it is importantthat you should know them. Do not dothere as you have done here at home, pick one manfor your constant companion and be indifferent toall the others. You must know them all. Studysome of them for the good traits that you oughtto have, and others for the bad traits that you wantto avoid. You can learn something from everyoneof them. You must learn from them how to takea man’s measure for yourself and not have to relyon the judgment of others. If you learn to judgemen truly your success in other things will be prettycertain.
“Just one thing more. You have insisted ontaking up work that is different from the life I hadalways planned for you. Perhaps you think thatI am hurt and resent it. That is not true. I wantyou to feel that I have every confidence in yourjudgment and ability to make a success of anythingyou undertake even when you choose something ofwhich I am entirely ignorant. This new workshould prepare you to make some use of wild land,as I understand it, and I am going to make you aproposition.
“That ten thousand-acre tract of cut-over forestin New Hampshire that your grandfather left usshould be made to produce something. I am willingto give you this tract for your own on two conditions.The first is that you successfully completeyour course and pass your Civil Service examinationsas a proof of your training; and second, thatyou show your ability to pick responsible men foryour companions. Of the latter I shall have to bethe judge. Fill those two conditions and the landis yours.”
For the life of him Scott could not find anythingto say. It was the first time his father had everspoken to him in that way, as one man to anotherand it choked him up queerly. He could not eventhank his father for the offer. He was relievedwhen Dick Bradshaw came in and went with himto his room to help finish packing and look overhis equipment.
The two boys talked till almost midnight overthe possibilities of the western country and the newthings that would be found there. The necessityof Scott’s catching an early train finally forced