Chapter 41

The United States is at the brink of war, yet nothing changes very much for the people who live in the Salinas Valley. The Trask boys are as insensitive to the world change as anyone else. Walking to school, Cal encourages Aron to work hard and take the entrance examinations for college so that he can get out of high school a year early. Cal will stay on the ranch and work. He tells Aron that if passes the exams, he will help him pay for college. Aron agrees to try his best. Cal wonders how Abra will take the news; Aron says she will do whatever he tells her to do. Aron does not tell Abra his plans right away but she is acutely aware of the change in his demeanor. 

Unbeknownst to the rest of his family, Cal pays a visit in town to Will Hamilton. He asks the older man for advice, particularly, how he can make a great deal of money quickly, between twenty and thirty thousand dollars. Will is taken aback. Cal explains that he wants to recoup his father's losses in the lettuce fiasco. Will is touched by the younger Trask's good heart and generosity. Will sees in Cal qualities of his own family and reflects how he missed out on what most of his family possessed: fire for ideas and goodness. Despite his deficiencies, however, Will knows the Hamiltons loved him no less for what he lacked. 

Will asks Cal point blank the deeper reason for wanting to help his father. Cal, in his honest way, says he wants to make it up to his father for not being good. Will asks if giving him the money will make Cal "good." Cal again surprises by saying no; in fact, he thinks it is bad. Will asks if he is trying to buy his father's love. Cal says simply, "Yes."

Will offers to take Cal into a business venture with him, but is reluctant to take on a partner without money. Cal says he can get five thousand dollars, an offer Lee had made to him previously. Cal will not reveal the source of his funding to Will, but he does say it is a loan, made to him without interest. Will is impressed. 

Will tells Cal that war in imminent. Their best bet, he argues, will be to invest in bean crops. Will tells Cal how to get the tenant farmer on the Trask ranch to plant beans. They will give the man a seed loan and promise him five cents a pound, even though the market is currently paying only three cents a pound. Because of the coming conflict, Will knows that soon demand will skyrocket. He expects to get ten cents or more for each pound. Cal and Will part ways, with Cal going to talk to the tenant rancher and Will going back to his office to get the deal rolling.