Title: The Bibliophile
nineteenth-century American West weaves no magic spell for Nathanial, who longs for the academic worlds his father has forced him to leave behind.
from his books and the life he has always known, Nathanial is not only forced to co-exist with Cayuse Jem, but to truly get to know him. In doing so, Nathanial discovers there is more to this silent horseman than meets the eye. And, in the process, Nathanial also learns a few things about life, about human nature, and about the differences in being a man and a boy…
that I have maintained records of my existence only during periods of my life when it was not worthy of record. This journal is nothing more than an exercise in keeping at bay the stultification and mental weariness I know will come upon me once I return to that world, to the territory, and to time spent with my father. My existence there—all that I shall experience—it is beyond languor, beyond ennui. Life at my father’s home represents nothing less than the atrophy of the mind itself.
diary and read these passages, and will hasten to share with my father any negative report she finds contained herein. No, my father is a good man, but a hard man, and a plain one—even Grandmomma must confess to that. The trappings of the world I hold most dear—those things that mean the world to me, those things that are my world, that define my world, that define me—they mean nothing to him. And even more painfully, my father has already determined the manner in which the arc of my life will bend, and I, his only son, must dutifully obey.
letter in the four years I was away from his custody. I had not to read his words at all to know what his communication meant to convey, to know it was a summons, and not the heartfelt correspondence of father to son. “Time to come home. To learn the business. Time to be a man.” All my life I have longed for nothing more than books and words and worlds that unfurl one page at a time. I was meant for academe. I had hoped to complete my baccalaureate and continue straight on, for my post-graduate, for my master’s, and then—my most sincere wish—to teach. To be forever a part of those hallowed halls. What care I for business and industry? But no, I am son to Jessum Goldsmith, richest man in the territory, and I do not have the freedom others of my age and station possess. How I wish I were a second son, or third, a son of lesser value and importance. But Momma died giving birth to me, and since I stole Father’s past, I cannot steal his future as well.
wrote to me. “It is time to plan for the future. It is time to give up your books. Your family needs you. You must come at once.” I could hear the gloat in every word. For so long I had begged to be sent East, to study, first in boarding school, and then at university. Father gave in, I believe, just to quiet me, and because, at such a young age, I held little use for him. But there, in Boston, I could live as I wished, with my books, and in my mind, alone and quite content to be so. I could be literate and educated and revel in such things as befits a learned man. But Grandmomma never saw the need for such lofty education and told me as such in almost every letter she sent. Yes, like the son she bore, she ever wrote in declarations, though that is the usual state of the world in her eye; every letter she sent to me reflected duty, honor, and obligation to my father and his ideals of masculinity, and, of
course, to the vaunted Goldsmith name. Vaunted, indeed. I happen to know my Grandfather Goldsmith was a dry goods salesman from Michigan. It was my father, his son, who went into Idaho as a lad and made his fortune in the mines. Our name is no more hallowed than the tradesmen who gave it to us in the first place. A smith, after all, is one who works with precious metals, not one who
possesses them. Our name should be a reminder of the humble beginnings of our family and the promise that a man may make his own way in this world. But no, to Grandmomma, to Father, we are the first family of the territory. We own the largest manor; we hold the most land; we possess the most wealth. It is all that matters to them.
newspapers. How oft would I read of his latest coup. And then the other fellows would stand around me and ask, “Is that truly your father, Goldsmith?” As if they did not know. But most of them—Fulton, Hardwicke, Matthews, and the like—all they cared about was money, too. Only Feldspar understood how little it meant to me. Only Feldspar understood that what I cared about was the books, the words, and the ideas contained within. Those were the worlds that meant so much to me. Not money, not industry, and certainly not mining. Just the words. How I longed to be part of that world, to be part of the discourse of scholarship and books and ideas. It is in my disposition to be of that world.
his lieutenant, with whom he plots and plans for the future, for the next mine or the next land grab or the next political power play. I have no one. Then again, perhaps I need no one. I fear I do not have any such innermost desires for companionship.
puzzle him most earnestly, so much so that I gave up any hope of an answer. Yes, I think I shall disembark upon Chicago and perhaps converse with a fellow passenger or two, at least to exchange a pleasantry or any news of the journey. And possibly—one can hope—there will be a bookseller at the station. It will be three more days before we reach Boise. And two more after that to home, if the
roads are good. Something new to read would gladden my heart indeed.