Gurney Norman

Divine Right asked the Outdoorsman if he'd ever driven across the country.

"Well now," said the Outdoorsman. "Do you mean cross-country, or across the country?"

"I mean across America," said D.R.

"The nation, in other words," said the Outdoorsman.

"But the nation is the country," said Estelle.

The Outdoorsman wrinkled his brow and thought about that as he spread ketchup on the remnants of his steak. "The nation is America," he said. "What the country is is all the land, and the rivers and things."

D.R. had stopped eating altogether. Leaning toward the Outdoorsman, and emphasizing with his fork, he said, "Do you mean you don't think America and the country are the same thing?"

"Of course not," said the Outdoorsman. "Ain't you ever read any history?"

"I've read history," said Estelle.

The Lone Outdoorsman swallowed some more steak and went on as if Estelle hadn't said anything. "Now you take these people on the wagon train. They're travelling across the country, right?"

"Right," said D.R.

"Okay. They're travelling across the country, but they're not travelling across America. Because the country where they're travelling hasn't been taken into the nation yet, if you see what I mean. There's no statehood there on the plains yet, therefore that country they're in isn't part of America. Now if where they are was a state, say Kansas, or South Dakota, then you could say they're travelling across America. But since they're not, why then they're travelling cross-country."

"So you mean the people on Westward, Westward are not travelling in America, but just travelling in the country, because America and the country are two different things."

"Something like that. America, you see, is yet to come on Westward, Westward. Of course by now it has come. Westward, Westward's just a story, don't you see. It's about something that's been over a long time. I mean, the westward movement is something my grandfather helped do. Him and the others took the country, and turned it into America, if you see what I mean."

"Well, I don't, actually," said Divine Right.

The Lone Outdoorsman chewed the last of his steak, and sopped the gravy with a piece of bread. "Well," he said. "You're young yet. You will one of these days."

-- Gurney Norman, "Divine Right's Trip," in The Last Whole Earth Catalog (New York: Random House, 1971), p. 57.