Elsie Venner eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 416 pages of information about Elsie Venner.
at the end) were always lying in the fire in the cold season, waiting to be plunged into sputtering and foaming mugs of flip,—­a goodly compound; speaking according to the flesh, made with beer and sugar, and a certain suspicion of strong waters, over which a little nutmeg being grated, and in it the hot iron being then allowed to sizzle, there results a peculiar singed aroma, which the wise regard as a warning to remove themselves at once out of the reach of temptation.

But the bar of Pollard’s Tahvern no longer presented its old attractions, and the loggerheads had long disappeared from the fire.  In place of the decanters, were boxes containing “lozengers,” as they were commonly called, sticks of candy in jars, cigars in tumblers, a few lemons, grown hard-skinned and marvellously shrunken by long exposure, but still feebly suggestive of possible lemonade,—­the whole ornamented by festoons of yellow and blue cut flypaper.  On the front shelf of the bar stood a large German-silver pitcher of water, and scattered about were ill-conditioned lamps, with wicks that always wanted picking, which burned red and smoked a good deal, and were apt to go out without any obvious cause, leaving strong reminiscences of the whale-fishery in the circumambient air.

The common schoolhouses of Rockland were dwarfed by the grandeur of the Apollinean Institute.  The master passed one of them, in a walk he was taking, soon after his arrival at Rockland.  He looked in at the rows of desks, and recalled his late experiences.  He could not help laughing, as he thought how neatly he had knocked the young butcher off his pins.

“A little science is a dangerous thing, ’as well as a little ‘learning,’” he said to himself; “only it’s dangerous to the fellow you’ try it on.”  And he cut him a good stick, and began climbing the side of The Mountain to get a look at that famous Rattlesnake Ledge.

CHAPTER VI.

The Sunbeam and the shadow.

The virtue of the world is not mainly in its leaders.  In the midst of the multitude which follows there is often something better than in the one that goes before.  Old generals wanted to take Toulon, but one of their young colonels showed them how.  The junior counsel has been known not unfrequently to make a better argument than his senior fellow,—­if, indeed, he did not make both their arguments.  Good ministers will tell you they have parishioners who beat them in the practice of the virtues.  A great establishment, got up on commercial principles, like the Apollinean Institute, might yet be well carried on, if it happened to get good teachers.  And when Master Langdon came to see its management, he recognized that there must be fidelity and intelligence somewhere among the instructors.  It was only necessary to look for a moment at the fair, open forehead, the still, tranquil eye of gentle, habitual authority, the sweet gravity that lay upon the lips, to hear the clear answers to the pupils’ questions, to notice how every request had the force without the form of a command, and the young man could not doubt that the good genius of the school stood before him in the person of Helen barley.

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Elsie Venner from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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