The slight figure was not above medium height; he had a stoop in the shoulders that added to his general appearance of delicacy; he was scholarly from the crown of his black head to the very tip of his worn, velvet slipper; his slender hands, with their perfectly kept nails, and even the stain of ink on the forefinger of his right hand, had an air of scholarship about them. His black summer suit was a perfect fit, his boots were shining, the knot of his narrow black neck tie was a little towards one side, but that was the only evidence that he was careless about his personal appearance.
“I want my boys to be neat,” he had said once apologetically to Mrs. Devoe, when requesting her to give away his old school suit preparatory to buying another.
All he needed to be perfect was congenial social life, Prudence believed, but that, alas, seemed never to enter his conception. He knew it never had since that long ago day when he had congratulated his brother upon his perfect share of this world’s happiness. And, queerly enough, Prudence stood too greatly in awe of him to suggest that his life was too one-sided and solitary.
“Some people wonder if you were ever married,” Mrs. Devoe said to him that afternoon when he went down to his late supper. Mrs. Devoe never stood in awe of anybody.
“Yes, I was married twenty years ago—to my work,” he replied, gravely; “there isn’t any John Holmes, there is only my work.”
“There is something that is John Holmes to me,” said the widow in her quick voice, “and there’s a John Holmes to the boys and girls, and I guess the Lord thinks something of you beside your ‘work,’ as you call it.”
Meditatively he walked along the grassy wayside towards the brown farmhouse:
“Perhaps there is a John Holmes that I forget about,” he said to himself.
“Use me to serve and honor thee,
And let the rest be as thou wilt”—E.L.E.
Marjorie’s laugh was refreshing to the schoolmaster after his hard day’s work. She was standing behind her father, leaning over his shoulder, and looking at them both as they talked; some word had reminded Mr. Holmes of the subject of his writing that day and he had given them something of what he had been reading and writing on Egyptian slavery. Mr. Holmes was always “writing up” something, and one of Mr. West’s usual questions was: “What have you to tell us about now?”