Her first letter began, “My Coatless Friend,” a reference to the loss of a linen coat or duster, when the last ride at Harrisville was taken. The second letter began “Friend George,” and the third, “My dear Friend.” Gertrude and George never addressed each other twice alike in their whole correspondence. The weekly letters were always torn open by each in haste, and both noticed a gradual increase of warmth in these addresses. The fact that Gertrude was an heiress neither hindered nor helped his devotion. His heart was attracted by her many charms.
At Smith College Gertrude occupied rooms in the Morris Cottage among the apple tree blossoms. Much of her spare time was spent in the scientific library and laboratory of Lilly Hall, or with the professor and his telescope in the observatory.
On clear nights, aided by the telescope, Gertrude gazed into the immensity of space, whispering sometimes to her own soul, “How grand this vast world-making, this frightful velocity of the giant dynamos in their elliptical pathways through space!”
Often unable to sleep, she continued her thoughts and wondered if space were not interlaced with electrical currents that move the earth, the sister planets, and the myriads of suns and their planets. She thought she saw, as never before, the necessity for an eternal existence of the mind, if God is to be studied and known in his infinite variety.
Four years in college had developed Gertrude into a beautiful character. Regular work in the gymnasium, much outdoor exercise, and care as to ventilation in her rooms, especially at night, had kept her in perfect physical health. Her intimates shared her glow of vitality, for her presence at “Lawn, or Character Teas,” at tennis-courts, or at basket-ball always brought sunshine and enthusiasm.
The Saturday before commencement, her mother and Lucille came to enjoy the charming festivities of Smith College. A representation of Racine’s “Athalie,” with Mendelssohn’s music, was the evening attraction at the Academy of Music, which the class had rented for the occasion.
Groups of ushers, with white satin wands, conducted students in tasteful dresses, and invited guests to their seats. When the curtain rose it was difficult to decide which one most admired, the stage with its artistic setting, its young faces, sweet voices, and graceful movements, or the sympathetic audience of students and their friends. The stage and press of the future guided in part by college-bred men and women will preach, it is hoped, purity, truth, and the beautiful.
Mrs. Harris and Lucille were very happy that Gertrude was to graduate, and Lucille who had just finished her education in Boston, half regretted that she too had not entered a woman’s college. Gertrude never looked more beautiful than she did in the white-robed procession, as, on Baccalaureate Sunday, the several classes passed down the aisles of the church.