‘Been hard at work here all these years, mother,’ said David. ‘Oughter be glad t’ git away.’
‘Yes,’ said she sadly, ’it’s been hard work. Years ago I thought I never could stan’ it. But now I’ve got kind o’ used t’ it.’
‘Time ye got used t’ pleasure ‘n comfort,’ he said. ‘Come kind o’ hard, at fast, but ye mus’ try t’ stan’ it. If we’re goin’ t’ hev sech flin in Heaven as Deacon Hospur tells on we oughter begin t’ practice er we’ll be ‘shamed uv ourselves.’
The worst was over. Elizabeth began to laugh.
At length a strain of song came out of the distance.
‘Maxwelton’s braes are bonnie where early falls the dew.’
‘It’s Hope and Uncle Eb,’ said David while I went for the lantern. ‘Wonder what’s kep’ ’em s’ late.’
When the lamps were lit the old house seemed suddenly to have got a sense of what had been done. The familiar creak of the stairway as I went to bed had an appeal and a protest. The rude chromo of the voluptuous lady, with red lips and the name of Spring, that had always hung in my chamber had a mournful, accusing look. The stain upon her cheek that had come one day from a little leak in the roof looked now like the path of a tear drop. And when the wind came up in the night and I heard the creaking of Lone Pine it spoke of the doom of that house and its own that was not far distant.
We rented a new home in town, that week, and were soon settled in it. Hope went away to resume her studies the same day I began work in college.
Not much in my life at college is essential to this history — save the training. The students came mostly from other and remote parts of the north country — some even from other states. Coming largely from towns and cities they were shorn of those simple and rugged traits, that distinguished the men o’ Faraway, and made them worthy of what poor fame this book may afford. In the main they were like other students the world over, I take it’ and mostly, as they have shown, capable of wiling their own fame. It all seemed very high and mighty and grand to me especially the names of the courses. I had my baptism of Sophomoric scorn and many a heated argument over my title to life, liberty and the pursuit of learning. It became necessary to establish it by force of arms, which I did decisively and with as little delay as possible. I took much interest in athletic sports and was soon a good ball player, a boxer of some skill, and the best wrestler in college. Things were going on comfortably when an upper classman met me and suggested that on a corning holiday, the Freshmen ought to wear stove-pipe hats. Those hats were the seed of great trouble.
‘Stove-pipe hats!’ I said thoughtfully.
‘They’re a good protection,’ he assured me.
It seemed a very reasonable, not to say a necessary precaution. A man has to be young and innocent sometime or what would become of the Devil. I did not see that the stove-pipe hat was the red rag of insurrection and, when I did see it’ I was up to my neck in the matter.