“I know,” said West. “He’s never got over the poundings we used to give him in the Post when he trained with those grafters on the Council. He’d put poison in my tea on half a chance.”
Unhappily, the sharp cleft made in the board at the time of the election survived and deepened. The trustees developed a way of dividing seven to five on almost all of West’s recommendations which was anything but encouraging. An obstinate, but human, pride of opinion tended to keep the two factions facing each other intact, and matters very tiny in themselves served, as the weeks went by, to aggravate this feeling. Once, at least, before Christmas, it required all of West’s tact and good-humor to restore the appearance of harmony to a meeting which was fast growing excited.
But the young president would not allow himself to become discouraged. He earnestly intended to show James E. Winter which of the two knew most about running a modern institution of the higher learning. Only the perfectest bloom of his ardor faded under the constant handling of rough fingers. The interval separating Blaines College and the University of Paris began to loom larger than it had seemed in the halcyon summer-time, and the classic group of noble piles receded further and further into the prophetic haze. But West’s fine energy and optimism remained. And he continued to see in the college, unpromising though the outlook was in some respects, a real instrument for the uplift.
The president sat up late on those evenings when social diversions did not claim his time, going over and over his faculty list with a critical eye, and always with profound disapproval. There were only three Ph.D.’s among them, and as a whole the average of attainment was below, rather than above, the middle grade. They were, he was obliged to admit, a lot of cheap men for a cheap college. With such a staff, a distinguished standard was clearly not to be hoped for. But what to do about it? His general idea during the summer had been mercilessly to weed out the weak brothers in the faculty, a few at a time, and fill their places with men of the first standing. But now a great obstacle presented itself. Men of the first standing demanded salaries of the first standing. Blaines College was not at present in position to pay such salaries. Obviously one of two courses remained. Either the elevation of the faculty must proceed in a very modest form, or else Blaines College must get in position to pay larger salaries. West decided to move in both directions.
There was one man on the staff that West objected to from the first faculty meeting. This was a man named Harkly Young, a youngish, tobacco-chewing fellow of lowly origin and unlessoned manners, who was “assistant professor” of mathematics at a salary of one thousand dollars a year. Professor Young’s bearing and address did anything but meet the president’s idea of scholarliness; and West had no difficulty in convincing himself of