This seems like a providential call; it's sudden enough."
The two young men who were by this time full of the adventure, went down to the Wall street office of Henry's uncle and had a talk with that wily operator. The uncle knew Philip very well, and was pleased with his frank enthusiasm, and willing enough to give him a trial in the western venture. It was settled therefore, in the prompt way in which things are settled in New York, that they would start with the rest of the company next morning for the west.
On the way up town these adventurers bought books on engineering, and suits of India-rubber, which they supposed they would need in a new and probably damp country, and many other things which nobody ever needed anywhere.
The night was spent in packing up and writing letters, for Philip would not take such an important step without informing his friends. If they disapprove, thought he, I've done my duty by letting them know. Happy youth, that is ready to pack its valise, and start for Cathay on an hour's notice.
"By the way," calls out Philip from his bed-room, to Henry, "where is St. Jo.?"
"Why, it's in Missouri somewhere, on the frontier I think. We'll get a map."
"Never mind the map. We will find the place itself. I was afraid it was nearer home."
Philip wrote a long letter, first of all, to his mother, full of love and glowing anticipations of his new opening. He wouldn't bother her with business details, but he hoped that the day was not far off when she would see him return, with a moderate fortune, and something to add to the comfort of her advancing years.
To his uncle he said that he had made an arrangement with some New York capitalists to go to Missouri, in a land and railroad operation, which would at least give him a knowledge of the world and not unlikely offer him a business opening. He knew his uncle would be glad to hear that he had at last turned his thoughts to a practical matter.
It was to Ruth Bolton that Philip wrote last. He might never see her again; he went to seek his fortune. He well knew the perils of the frontier, the savage state of society, the lurking Indians and the dangers of fever. But there was no real danger to a person who took care of himself. Might he write to her often and, tell her of his life. If he returned with a fortune, perhaps and perhaps. If he was unsuccessful, or if he never returned--perhaps it would be as well. No time or distance, however, would ever lessen his interest in her. He would say good-night, but not good-bye.
In the soft beginning of a Spring morning, long before New York had breakfasted, while yet the air of expectation hung about the wharves of the metropolis, our young adventurers made their way to the Jersey City railway station of the Erie road, to begin the long, swinging, crooked journey, over what a writer of a former day called a causeway of cracked rails and cows, to the West.
What ever to say be toke in his entente, his langage was so fayer & pertynante, yt semeth unto manys herying not only the worde, but veryly the thyng. Caxton's Book of Curtesye.
In the party of which our travelers found themselves members, was Duff Brown, the great railroad contractor, and subsequently a well-known member of Congress; a bluff, jovial Bost'n man, thick-set, close shaven, with a heavy jaw and a low forehead--a very pleasant man if you were not in his way. He had government contracts also, custom houses and dry docks, from Portland to New Orleans, and managed to get out of congress, in appropriations, about weight for weight of gold for the stone furnished.
Associated with him, and also of this party, was Rodney Schaick, a sleek New York broker, a man as prominent in the church as in the stock exchange, dainty in his dress, smooth of speech, the necessary complement of Duff Brown in any enterprise that needed assurance and adroitness.
It would be difficult to find a pleasanter traveling party one that shook off more readily the artificial restraints of Puritanic strictness, and took the world with good-natured allowance.