“Exactly,” said Uncle Jonah, “make him useful. But, Dr. Lyman and Joshua Burnett, the boy has got the stuff in him—the stuff in him. Why, he told you here, in fifteen minutes, more about the State of Ohio than you both ever knew. You will see—”
“You will see, too, that he will not come to a darn,” said Uncle Josh, regarding that as a sad doom indeed.
At the post-office.
Barton found a more attractive group at the store. The post-office occupied a window and corner near the front of the large, old-fashioned, square store-room; and, as he entered the front door, he saw, in the back part of the room, a gay, laughing, warbling, giggling, chirping group of girls gathered about Julia Markham, as their natural centre. Barton was a little abashed; he might have moved up more cautiously, and reconnoitred, had he not been taken by surprise. There was no help for it. He deposited his letters and called for his mail, which gave him time to gather his forces in hand.
Now Barton was born to love and serve women in all places, and under all forms and circumstances. His was not a light, silly, vapid, complimentary devotion, but deep in his nature, through and through, he reverenced woman as something sacred and high, and above the vulgar nature of men; this reformed his mind, and inspired his manners; and, while he was generally disliked by men, he was favorably regarded by women. It was not in woman’s nature to think ill of a youth who was always so modestly respectful, and anxious to please and oblige; and no man thus constituted was ever awkward or long embarrassed in woman’s presence. She always gets from him, if not his best, what is proper. If he can lose self-consciousness, and receive the full inspiration of her presence, he will soon be at his ease, if not graceful.
The last thing absolutely that ever could occur to Barton, and it never had as yet, was the possibility of his being an object of interest personally to a woman, or to women. He was modest—almost to bashfulness; but as he never presumed, he was never snubbed; and now, on this summer afternoon, he had came upon a group of seven or eight of the most attractive girls of the neighborhood, accompanied by one or two strangers. There was Julia, never so lovely before, with a warm color on her cheek, and a liquid light in her dark eyes, in whose presence all other girls were commonplace; and her friends Nell Roberts and Kate Fisher, Lizzie Mun and Pearlie Burnett, and several others. The young man was seen and recognized, and had to advance. Think of walking thirty feet alone in the faces of seven or eight beautiful girls, and at the same time be easy and graceful! It is funny, what a hush the presence of one young man will bring over a laughing, romping cluster of young women. At his entrance, their girlish clamor sunk to a liquid murmur; and, when he approached, they