She surveyed him proudly, as he was going away that morning in December,
“Folks may call ye han’some,” she said. “They’d like to make fool of ye, but you go on ‘bout yer business an’ act as if ye didn’t hear.”
He had a figure awkward, as yet, but fast shaping to comeliness. Long, light hair covered the tops of his ears and fell to his collar. His ruddy cheeks were a bit paler that morning; the curve in his lips a little drawn; his blue eyes had begun to fill and the dimple in his chin to quiver, slightly, as he kissed her who had been as a mother to him. But he went away laughing.
Many have seen the record in his diary of those lank and busy days. The Saturday of his first week at school he wrote as follows:—
“Father brought me a small load of wood and a sack of potatoes yesterday, so, after this, I shall be able to live cheaper. My expenses this week have been as follows:—
Rent 35 cents
Corn meal 14 "
Milk 20 "
Bread 8 "
Beef bone 5 "
Honey 5 "
Four potatoes, about 1 "
“Two boys who have a room on the same floor got through the week for 75 cents apiece, but they are both undersized and don’t eat as hearty. This week I was tempted by the sight of honey and was fool enough to buy a little which I didn’t need. I have some meal left and hope next week to get through for 80 cents. I wish I could have a decent necktie, but conscience doth make cowards of us all. I have committed half the first act of ‘Julius Caesar.’”
And yet, with pudding and milk and beef bone and four potatoes and “Julius Caesar” the boy was cheerful.
“Don’t like meat any more—it’s mostly poor stuff anyway,” he said to his father, who had come to see him.
“Sorry—I brought down a piece o’ venison,” said Allen.
“Well, there’s two kinds o’ meat,” said the boy; “what ye can have, that’s good, an’ what ye can’t have, that ain’t worth havin’.”
He got a job in the mill for every Saturday at 75 cents a day, and soon thereafter was able to have a necktie and a pair of fine boots, and a barber, now and then, to control the length of his hair.
Trove burnt the candles freely and was able but never brilliant in his work that year, owing, as all who knew him agreed, to great modesty and small confidence. He was a kindly, big-hearted fellow, and had wit and a knowledge of animals and of woodcraft that made him excellent company. That schoolboy diary has been of great service to all with a wish to understand him. On a faded leaf in the old book one may read as follows:—
“I have received letters in the handwriting of girls, unsigned. They think they are in love with me and say foolish things. I know what they’re up to. They’re the kind my mother spoke of—the kind that set their traps for a fool, and when he’s caught they use him for a thing to laugh at. They’re not going to catch me.