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قراءة كتاب Treading the Narrow Way

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‏اللغة: English
Treading the Narrow Way

Treading the Narrow Way

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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Robert Emmett Barrett was the soothing and patriotic cognomen my father fastened upon me when I first opened my eyes and I looked him squarely in the face. I say my father named me and I honestly think he did. The first two-thirds of the name proves my contention and opens the book wide enough that the reader has no trouble in discerning the nationality of my father. Mother was an English woman and I knew it the first time she called father “Arry.” If mother had had her equal rights in naming me, I might have been a Gladstone; but somehow or other father monopolized mother’s half interest and she finally became disgusted and told him to name me any blooming thing he wanted to. If mother could have foreseen this savage war across the orient, I believe, she would have handled the center name, but the way it stands I wouldn’t shoulder a gun for England and I can’t use my undeveloped oratory against Ireland, and I am about half persuaded to let them settle their own troubles. It being no fault of mine that I am half Irish and half English, I let it go at that and get along with everybody the best I can. It’s hard to separate the halves from the whole, and so, from a perpendicular standpoint, I give the Irish the top half and the English the bottom half; I’d rather let the English have the running half anyway.

So far the name Emmett hasn’t done me much good, I’ve only used it nine or ten times since I had it, thrice at political speeches, a couple of Fourth of July addresses, once on Decoration Day, once at a church wrangle, and a few times when I was mad. I find it doesn’t help me much on bank cheques, they get turned down as quickly with the Emmett signed as without it. If the name is ever going to do me any good I wish it would hurry up and be a progressive or I will be compelled to think father was impartial and talked mother out of her rightful one-half interest.

After the ordeal of naming me had been fairly or unfairly dealt with, I was told I was a free born American citizen and some day I might be President and have absolute dominion over the blue room, where I suppose the chief executive goes when he has the “Blues.” I never considered this encouragement very seriously, for, as I have read in some almanac, there is only one chance in eighteen million, the odds are against the slim chance and it’s sort of a blue skim milk proposition or a church raffle affair, and if it’s the only time that opportunity is going to knock at my door I don’t think I’ll be at home, I’ll let Wilson do the best he can and let some live Republican Progressive have my chance.

If Wilson would only hurry up and get the Government to make those loans they’ve been talking so long about and loan it, at about four per cent, to citizens like myself, irrespective of names and nationality, and not have the principal come due too quickly, but in periods, like twenty year franchises, I believe he ought to have a second term; but if he doesn’t get some loans placed pretty soon I don’t know what hard working men like myself are going to do.

The only thing I ask Wilson to be careful about when he loans the money is the rate. I don’t want to see the rate on loans as high as it was during Cleveland’s second administration.

I borrowed eighteen dollars in 1894 to settle up a partnership fanning deal with a Methodist preacher. It seems that outside of the banks no one had any money, and you had to call on the gentleman banker, get down on your knees and have tears as large as pullet eggs rolling down your hollow cheeks, if you succeeded in your desires. Somehow the bankers knew they had a good thing; they not only got the fat and tallow but they stripped you clear to the bone.

The eighteen dollar note was dated August 28, 1894, and read in part; “With interest at the rate of ten per cent per annum”; and from here on comes the craftiness of the banker: He interlined thus: “From January 18, 1894, if not paid when due.” On October 23rd the same year I paid ten dollars on the note; September the 11th, 1895, six dollars; and December the 5th, 1895 the final payment and accrued interest was eight dollars and twenty-five cents, making a total of twenty-four dollars and twenty-five cents on a loan of eighteen dollars for one year, three months and seven days. What was the rate of interest charged? That banker is retired and worth a hundred thousand dollars; hadn’t he ought to be?

To borrow money under that rate you needed the health of a bear, a cataract of energy, a colossal mind, unlimited self-respect, boundless self-confidence, all impregnated with an iron honesty. That kind of interest makes me feel like the investor, who bought some unseen land from an honest real estate man, and, when he went to look at his property he found it submerged in water. The real estate man told him it could be irrigated, but he had no idea it was susceptible of such profuse moisture. After he gazed at it a while he said “Instead of buying this land by the acre I should have bought it by the quart.” He probably has an unrecorded deed, I have the paid note in my possession, I feel proud I got it paid; but my pride halted suddenly when I got it paid and in all these years it hasn’t advanced much for men who can take a nickle and make it into a dollar so all fired quick. Some time I’ll frame that note with a glass on both sides of it.

Coming back to the early events. I was born beneath the shadows of the Rocky Mountains where the placid and sleepy Platte wound leisurely through the broad meadows and sleeping undeveloped valleys and had abundance of God’s elixir before the day of the great reclamation projects that sapped its mountain waters.

Because I mention the Platte here, don’t get me mixed with that other fellow that has made the Platte famous and was until recently holding a cabinet position on an underpaid salary, he’s no relation of mine and I never knew him until he ran for President. He did the opposite from what I did and took that one slim chance, made three strikes and fanned; I’m glad I let it alone.

When I was six years old and my parents still said what I should do they took Horace Greeley’s advice and went a hundred and six miles farther west. At their destination there was no buildings except the section house, depot and a little building that sheltered the hand car. The entire population was not over a baker’s dozen. I don’t believe there was a quieter place on God’s footstool.

One good thing about those days was the taxes; I think a week’s compensation on the railroad would pay the taxes, County, State and Municipal from 1887 to 1890. How we have progressed in taxes since then! Especially Colorado.

In this little dreary place where I had no associations to lead me astray I took account of my surroundings. I was away out there on the barren plains where the grass curled and burned under the blazing sun, where foliage was scant, where the lonely cactus and prickly pear awaited the step of man to imbed itself and cause more pain, no trees or flowers to whisper words of encouragement, no cheerful forest or shady dells, nothing at all to cause the deeper emotions of a queer nature to assert themselves. Nothing but the broad miraged prairie stretching as far as the eye could see.

No cooling breeze to alleviate the pain on a