Now and then one sees a person in the mezzo cammin of his years so happily constituted by nature as to attract and be attracted by youth. He seems to hold some fortunate, ever-youthful principle of life denied to the rest of us. It was so with Mr. Jefferson. Statesman, philosopher, scientist himself, he yet numbered the young and inexperienced among his many friends, and not one of them held so warm a place in his affections as young Calvert of Strathore. He had received from Dr. Witherspoon the accounts of his career at college, where, although never greatly popular, he had won his way by his quiet self-reliance, entire sincerity, and the accuracy and solidity of his mind rather than by any brilliancy of intellect. These sterling gifts had first attracted Mr. Jefferson’s notice and excited his admiration and affection. The lonely condition of the young man, too, though borne by him in that uncomplaining fashion characteristic of him, touched Mr. Jefferson, the more, perhaps, for the very silence and stoicism with which ’twas supported. He was, therefore, greatly surprised when he heard Calvert allude to it for the first time on that winter’s afternoon. The young man had taken Mr. Jefferson’s place before the open fire and now stood leaning against the chimney-piece as he talked, while Mr. Jefferson, sitting beside the reading-table, drew deep whiffs of the fragrant tobacco from his long pipe and listened interestedly to what Calvert had to say, smiling now and then appreciatively. After a little the young man ceased to speak and stood gazing meditatively into the glowing logs.
“A word more, Mr. Jefferson,” he said, at length, still gazing into the gleaming embers. As he stood so, looking down into the fire, the flickering light leaped up and played upon his quiet face, upon the clean-cut lips, the firm jaw, the aquiline nose, the broad, smooth brow, from which the dark-brown hair, unpowdered, waved back, tied at the neck with a black ribbon whose ends fell down upon the broad young shoulders. Perhaps it was the changing light, or perhaps it was the shadow from his uplifted hand on which he lightly leaned his head, that made his eyes seem dark and troubled, and quite unlike their usual serene selves. As Mr. Jefferson looked at the young man an uneasy thought took shape in his mind that that face’s cheerful expression had altered since it had entered his doors, that the shadow of a change had somehow come upon it.
“A word more,” said Calvert again, resting his foot upon one of the burnished andirons, and removing his gaze from the flickering fire to Mr. Jefferson’s attentive face. “I believe that not in my letters, and assuredly not since getting here, have I thanked you gratefully enough for summoning me to you. ’Tis such an honor and a pleasure to be with you, to work for you, that I cannot express myself as I would like, sir. Indeed, I have long years of kindnesses, of interest, of affectionate concern for my welfare, to thank you for. I do