Mr. Marshall was very proud of his son’s success in college, but he had no intention of letting him see it. He loved this boy of his, with the dead mother’s eyes, better than anything on earth, and all his hopes and ambitions were bound up in him.
“Well, that fuss is over, thank goodness,” he said testily, as he dropped into his favourite chair.
“Didn’t you find the programme interesting?” asked Eric absently.
“Most of it was tommyrot,” said his father. “The only things I liked were Charlie’s Latin prayer and those pretty little girls trotting up to get their diplomas. Latin is the language for praying in, I do believe,—at least, when a man has a voice like Old Charlie’s. There was such a sonorous roll to the words that the mere sound of them made me feel like getting down on my marrow bones. And then those girls were as pretty as pinks, now weren’t they? Agnes was the finest-looking of the lot in my opinion. I hope it’s true that you’re courting her, Eric?”
“Confound it, father,” said Eric, half irritably, half laughingly, “have you and David Baker entered into a conspiracy to hound me into matrimony whether I will or no?”
“I’ve never said a word to David Baker on such a subject,” protested Mr. Marshall.
“Well, you are just as bad as he is. He hectored me all the way home from the college on the subject. But why are you in such a hurry to have me married, dad?”
“Because I want a homemaker in this house as soon as may be. There has never been one since your mother died. I am tired of housekeepers. And I want to see your children at my knees before I die, Eric, and I’m an old man now.”
“Well, your wish is natural, father,” said Eric gently, with a glance at his mother’s picture. “But I can’t rush out and marry somebody off-hand, can I? And I fear it wouldn’t exactly do to advertise for a wife, even in these days of commercial enterprise.”
“Isn’t there anybody you’re fond of?” queried Mr. Marshall, with the patient air of a man who overlooks the frivolous jests of youth.
“No. I never yet saw the woman who could make my heart beat any faster.”
“I don’t know what you young men are made of nowadays,” growled his father. “I was in love half a dozen times before I was your age.”
“You might have been ‘in love.’ But you never loved any woman until you met my mother. I know that, father. And it didn’t happen till you were pretty well on in life either.”
“You’re too hard to please. That’s what’s the matter, that’s what’s the matter!”
“Perhaps I am. When a man has had a mother like mine his standard of womanly sweetness is apt to be pitched pretty high. Let’s drop the subject, father. Here, I want you to read this letter—it’s from Larry.”
“Humph!” grunted Mr. Marshall, when he had finished with it. “So Larry’s knocked out at last—always thought he would be—always expected it. Sorry, too. He was a decent fellow. Well, are you going?”