A LETTER HOME.
One of Joel’s letters written to his mother at about this time contains much that will prove of interest to the reader who has followed the fortunes of that youth thus far. It supplied a certain amount of information appreciated only by its author and its recipient: facts regarding woolen stockings; items about the manner in which the boy’s washing was done; a short statement of his financial condition; a weak, but very natural, expression of home-longing. But such I will omit, as being too private in character for these pages.
“... I don’t think you need worry. Outfield West is rather idle about study, but he doesn’t give Satan much of a show, for he’s about the busiest fellow I know in school. He’s usually up a good hour before breakfast, which we have at eight o’clock, and puts in a half hour practicing golf before chapel. Then in the afternoon he’s at it again when the weather will let him, and he generally spends his evenings, when not studying, in mending his clubs or painting balls. Then he’s one of the canvassers for the class crew; and belongs to the Senior Debating Club, which draws its members from the two upper classes; and he’s president of the Golf Club. So you can see that he’s anything but idle, even if he doesn’t bother much about lessons.
“He’s naturally a very bright fellow; otherwise he couldn’t get along with his classes. I grow to like him better every day; he’s such a manly, kind-hearted fellow, and one of the most popular in school. He’s rather big, with fine, broad shoulders, and awfully good-looking. He has light-brown hair, about the color of Cousin George’s, and bright blue eyes; and he always looks as though he had just got out of the bath-tub—only stopped, of course, to put his clothes on. I guess we must be pretty old-fashioned in our notions, we Maine country folks, because so many of my pet ideas and beliefs have been changed since I came here. You know with us it has always gone without dispute that rich boys are mean and worthless, if not really immoral. But here they’re not that way. I guess we never had much chance to study rich people up our way, mother. At the grammar school all the fellows looked down on wealthy boys; but we never had any of them around. The richest chap was Gilbert, whose father was a lumberman, and Gilbert used to wear shoes that you wouldn’t give to a tramp.
“I suppose West’s father could buy Mr. Gilbert out twenty times and not miss the money. Outfield—isn’t it a queer name?—spends a lot of money, but not foolishly; I mean he has no bad habits, like a few of the fellows. I hope you will meet him some time. Perhaps I could have him up to stay a few days with me next summer. He’d be glad to come.
“No, my roommate, Sproule, doesn’t improve any on acquaintance. But I’ve got so I don’t mind him much. I don’t think he’s really as mean as he makes you believe. He’s having hard work with his studies nowadays, and has less time to find fault with things.