At times he was conscious of a strong force within, impelling him forward, whose source he could not divine, neither could he free himself from it. Fortunate person whose sails are filled with breezes from heaven, for craft of this kind go forward guided rightly, almost without the rudder’s aid!
George pursued at the institute a three years’ course, leading up to the degree of Bachelor of Science. After the first two years he took less higher mathematics and more natural history, chemistry, and geology. The institute is within easy access of engineering works and manufacturing plants of great diversity, which afforded young Ingram opportunities for valuable investigation and observation. His graduating thesis was entitled, “A Design for an Electrical Steel Plant with Working Details, Capacity One Thousand Tons per Diem.” It was much complimented, especially the detail drawings for the plant.
His books and clothes had been packed and shipped to Harrisville. Reluctant good-byes were given to all the professors, class-mates, and many townspeople, who were fond of him. Life in Troy had been a constant inspiration, for he was in touch with young men from cultivated families which in itself is an education. George had the usual experience of the student world, for to him all the professors were very learned men.
After George had locked the door of his old study-room to go to the train, he stopped in the hallway in serious thought, then turning back he unlocked the door and again entered the dear old rooms. He reseated himself at the desk, where he had so often studied far into the night. He took another look into the bedroom, into the little store-room, and pleasant memories crowded his mind, as for the last time he gazed from the window towards the Berkshire Hills, beyond which Gertrude was being educated, and then as he finally re-locked the door, he recalled his afternoon engagement to meet Gertrude and Lucille at 4:30 o’clock at the Albany station to take the Boston & Chicago Special for Harrisville.
George had entered the institute with a light heart and much zest, because three years of progressive work were marked out for him. His mental journey had now ended and his heart was heavy. No road opened before him except the one that led back to the dingy old Harrisville mills. In the last three years his sky had lifted a little, but the intelligence gained only made him all the more conscious of the small world in which he and his family lived. How was he ever to earn a living for two, if Gertrude should possibly say “yes?”
Just as he put his foot on the platform of the railway station a letter was placed in his hand by a fellow classmate. The envelope bore the printed address of the Harrisville Iron & Steel Co. George, thinking the letter was from his father, instantly tore it open and began reading. At first his face flushed and then it was lit with joy.
“Good tidings, I hope,” said Gertrude, as she with her sister approached.