An American Idyll eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 188 pages of information about An American Idyll.

We landed in New York on Christmas Eve, in a snowstorm; paid the crushing sum of one dollar and seventy-five cents duty,—­such a jovial agent as inspected our belongings I never beheld; he must already have had just the Christmas present he most wanted, whatever it was.  When he heard that we had been in Heidelberg, he and several other officials began a lusty rendering of “Old Heidelberg,”—­and within an hour we were speeding toward California, a case of certified milk added to our already innumerable articles of luggage.  Christmas dinner we ate on the train.  How those American dining-car prices floored us after three years of all we could eat for thirty-five cents!


We looked back always on our first semester’s teaching in the University of California as one hectic term.  We had lived our own lives, found our own joys, for four years, and here we were enveloped by old friends, by relatives, by new friends, until we knew not which way to turn.  In addition, Carl was swamped by campus affairs—­by students, many of whom seemed to consider him an oasis in a desert of otherwise-to-be-deplored, unhuman professors.  Every student organization to which he had belonged as an undergraduate opened its arms to welcome him as a faculty member; we chaperoned student parties till we heard rag-time in our sleep.  From January 1 to May 16, we had four nights alone together.  You can know we were desperate.  Carl used to say:  “We may have to make it Persia yet.”

The red-letter event of that term was when, after about two months of teaching, President Wheeler rang up one evening about seven,—­one of the four evenings, as it happened, we were at home together,—­and said:  “I thought I should like the pleasure of telling you personally, though you will receive official notice in the morning, that you have been made an assistant professor.  We expected you to make good, but we did not expect you to make good to such a degree quite so soon.”

Again an occasion for a spree!  We tore out hatless across the campus, nearly demolishing the head of the College of Commerce as we rounded the Library.  He must know the excitement.  He was pleased.  He slipped his hand into his pocket saying, “I must have a hand in this celebration.”  And with a royal gesture, as who should say, “What matter the costs!” slipped a dime into Carl’s hand.  “Spend it all to-night.”

Thus we were started on our assistant professorship.  But always before and always after, to the students Carl was just “Doc.”

I remember a story he told of how his chief stopped him one afternoon at the north gate to the university, and said he was discouraged and distressed.  Carl was getting the reputation of being popular with the students, and that would never do.  “I don’t wish to hear more of such rumors.”  Just then the remnants of the internals of a Ford, hung together with picture wire and painted white, whizzed around the corner.  Two slouching, hard-working “studes” caught sight of Carl, reared up the car, and called, “Hi, Doc, come on in!” Then they beheld the Head of the Department, hastily pressed some lever, and went hurrying on.  To the Head it was evidence first-hand.  He shook his head and went his way.

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An American Idyll from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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