The Last Leaf eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 245 pages of information about The Last Leaf.
I have said that he did not possess, or at any rate, never showed his father’s power of kindling speech.  So far as I know he never addressed large popular audiences.  Nevertheless to a circle of scientific specialists, or people intelligent in a general way, he could present a subject charmingly, in clear, calm, fluent speech.  On this occasion he was at his best, and it was a pleasure indeed to have the marvels of that freshly-opened land described to us by the man who of all men perhaps was best able to cope with the story.  I listened with delight and awe.  He was an old man crowned with the highest distinctions.  I thought of the young handsome boy I had seen coming down in his grey suit into the Beacon Street mall, while the band played Fair Harvard.  On the threshold I shook his hand and looked into his dark, kindly eyes.  I turned away in the darkness and saw him no more.

CHAPTER X

AT HAPHAZARD

In 1887, in pleasant June weather I left St. Louis with my family on the capacious river-packet Saint Paul, for a trip up-stream to the city for which the boat was named.  The flood was at the full as we ploughed on, stopping at landings on either side, the reaches between presenting long perspectives of summer beauty.  We paused in due course at a little Iowa town, and among the passengers who took the boat here were two men who excited our attention at the landing.  One was a tall handsome fellow in early manhood, well-dressed and mannered, completely blind.  The other was his companion, a rather dishevelled figure with neglected beard and hair setting off a face that looked out somewhat helplessly into a world strange to it, an attire of loose white wool, plainly made by some tailor who knew nothing of recent fashion-plates.  A close-fitting cap of the same material surmounted his head.  The attire was whole and neat, but the air of the man was slouchy and bespoke one who must have lately come from the outskirts into the life of America.  The young blindman at once aroused earnest sympathy.  Of the other some one remarked, “Plainly a globe-trotting Englishman, who has lost his Baedeker and by chance got in here.”

Presently the boat was on its way, and as I sat facing the changing scene, I heard a shuffling, hesitating step behind, and a drawling somewhat uncertain voice asked me about the country.  I replied that it was my first trip and I was ignorant.  Turning full upon the querist, no other than the globe-trotter, I said:  “You are an Englishman I see.  I was in England last year.  I have spent some time in London, and I know other parts of your country.”  A conversation followed which soon became to me interesting.  My companion had education and intelligence, and before the afternoon ended we were agreeably in touch.  He handed me his card on which was engraved the name, “Mr. William Grey.”  I told him I was a Harvard man, a professor in Washington University,

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The Last Leaf from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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