‘Gol!’ he exclaimed suddenly.
My subject had begun to study me, and I came away to escape further examination.
I ought to say that I have had and shall have to chronicle herein much that would seem to indicate a mighty conceit of myself. Unfortunately the little word ‘I’ throws a big shadow in this history. It looms up all too frequently in every page for the sign of a modest man. But, indeed, I cannot help it, for he was the only observer of all there is to tell. Now there is much, for example, in the very marrow of my history — things that never would have happened, things that never would have been said, but for my fame as a scholar. My learning was of small account, for, it must be remembered, I am writing of a time when any degree of scholarship was counted remarkable among the simple folk of Faraway.
Hope took singing lessons and sang in church every Sunday. David or Uncle Eb came down for us often of a Saturday and brought us back before service in the morning. One may find in that town today many who will love to tell him of the voice and beauty and sweetness of Hope Brower those days, and of what they expected regarding her and me. We went out a good deal evenings to concerts, lectures at the churches or the college, or to visit some of the many people who invited us to their homes.
We had a recess of two weeks at the winter holidays and David Brower came after us the day the term ended. O, the great happiness of that day before Christmas when we came flying home in the sleigh behind a new team of greys and felt the intoxication of the frosty air, and drove in at dusk after the lamps were lit and we could see mother and Uncle Eb and Grandma Bisnette looking out of the window, and a steaming dinner on the table! I declare! it is long since then, but I cannot ever think of that time without wiping my glasses and taking a moment off Tip Taylor took the horses and we all came in where the kettle was singing on the stove and loving hands helped us out of our wraps. The supper was a merry feast, the like of which one may find only by returning to his boyhood. Mack! that is a long journey for some of us.
Supper over and the dishes out of the way we gathered about the stove with cider and butternuts.
‘Well,’ said Hope, ’I’ve got some news to tell you — this boy is the best scholar of his age in this county.’
‘Thet so?’ said David.
Uncle Eb stopped his hmnmer that was lifted to crack a butternut and pulled his chair close to Hope’s. Elizabeth looked at her daughter and then at me, a smile and a protest in her face.
‘True as you live,’ said Hope. ’The master told me so. He’s first in everything, and in the Town Hall the other night he spelt everybody down.’
‘What! In Hillsborough?’ Uncle Eb asked incredulously.
‘Yes, in Hillsborough,’ said Hope, ’and there were doctors and lawyers and college students and I don’t know who all in the match.’