Truly “all Hillton” had turned out! The station platform and the trim graveled road surrounding it were dark with Hilltonian humanity and gay with crimson bunting. Afar down the road a shrill long whistle announced the approach of the train, and a comparative hush fell on the crowd. Joel descried Outfield West at once, and pushed his way to him through the throng just as the train came into sight down the track. West was surrounded on the narrow baggage truck by some half dozen of the choice spirits from Hampton House, and Joel’s advent was made the occasion for much sport.
“Ah, he comes! The Professor comes!” shouted West.
“He tears himself from his studies and joins us in our frivolity,” declaimed Cooke.
“That’s something you’ll never have a chance of doing, Tom,” answered Cartwright, as Joel was hauled on to the truck. “You’ll never get near enough to a study to have to be torn away.”
“Study, my respected young friend,” answered Cooke gravely, “is the bane of the present unenlightened age. In the good old days when everybody was either a Greek or a Roman or a barbarian, and so didn’t have to study languages, and—”
“Shut up! here’s the train,” cried West. “Now every fellow cheer, or he’ll have me to fight.”
“Hooray! hooray! hooray!” yelled Cooke.
“Somebody punch him, please,” begged West, and Somers and another obliging youth thrust the offender off the truck and sat on his head. The train slowed down, stopped, and a porter appeared laden with a huge valise. This was the signal for a rush, and the darkey was instantly relieved of his burden and hustled back grinning to the platform.
Then Joel caught sight of a gentleman in a neat suit of gray tweed descending the steps, and saw the pupils heave and push their ways toward him; and for a sight the arrival was hidden from view. Then the cheers for “Coach!” burst enthusiastically forth, the train was speeding from sight up the track, the band was playing Hilltonians, and the procession took up its march back to the Academy.
When he at last caught a fair sight of Stephen Remsen, Joel saw a man of about twenty-eight years, gayly trudging at the head of the line, his handsome face smiling brightly as he replied to the questions and sallies of the more elderly youths who surrounded him. Joel’s heart went out to Stephen Remsen at once. And neither then nor at any future time did he wonder at it.
“That,” thought Joel, “is the kind of fellow I’d like for a big brother. Although I never could grow big enough to lick him.”
A RAINY AFTERNOON.