Ferdy’s face blanched at the implacable anger that blazed in his father’s eyes, but even more at the coldness of the gleam. It made him shiver.
A little later young Wickersham entered his father’s office, and though he was not much liked by the older clerks, it soon appeared that he had found a congenial occupation and one for which he had a natural gift. For the first time in his life he appeared inclined to work.
THE RIDGE COLLEGE
The school over which Gordon had undertaken to preside was not a very advanced seminary of learning, and possibly the young teacher did not impart to his pupils a great deal of erudition.
His predecessors in the schoolmaster’s chair had been, like their patrons, the product of a system hardly less conservative than that of the Locrians. Any one who proposed an innovation would have done so with a rope about his neck, and woe to him if it proved unsuccessful.
When Gordon reported first to the squire, the old man was manifestly pleased.
“Why, you’ve growed considerable. I didn’t have no idea you’d be so big a man.” He measured him with satisfaction. “You must be nigh as big as your pa.”
“I’m broader across the shoulders, but not so tall,” said the young man.
“He is a pretty tall man,” said the squire, slowly, with the light of reflection in his eye. “You’re a-goin’ to try the Ridge College, are you?” He had a quizzical twinkle in his eye as it rested on the younger man’s face.
“I’m going to try it.” And Gordon’s face lit up. “I don’t know much, but I’ll do the best I can.”
His modesty pleased the other.
“You know more than Jake Dennison, I reckon, except about devilment. I was afred you mightn’t be quite up to the place here; you was rather young when I seen you last.” He measured him as he might have done a young bullock.
“Oh, I fancy I shall be,” interrupted the young man, flushing at the suggestion.
“You’ve got to learn them Dennison boys, and them Dennison boys is pretty hard to learn anything. You will need all the grit you’ve got.”
“Oh, I’ll teach them,” asserted Gordon, confidently. The old man’s eye rested on him.
“‘Tain’t teachin’ I’m a-talkin’ about. It’s learnin’ I’m tellin’ you they need. You’ve got to learn ’em a good deal, or they’ll learn you. Them Dennison boys is pretty slow at learnin’.”
The young man intimated that he thought he was equal to it.
“Well, we’ll see,” grunted the old fellow, with something very like a twinkle in his deep eyes. “Not as they’ll do you any harm without you undertake to interfere with them,” he drawled. “But you’re pretty young to manage ’em jest so; you ain’t quite big enough either, and you’re too big to git in through the cat-hole. And I allow that you don’t stand no particular show after the first week or so of gittin’ into the house any other way.”