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“Thank you, sir,” replied Mr. Jacobs, to whom the words were addressed ; and he followed the assistant among the alcoves in a timid, tiptoe progress, for, to him, the very air he breathed seemed redolent of learning, and the dust beneath his feet consecrated to science.
Dr. Steele remained behind, conversing with the librarian.
“My friend has something of the ancient apostolic simplicity hanging about him still. He looks with as much awe at Harvard College library as I did myself forty-five years ago, when I came down from Steuben to join the freshman class.”
“ So you came from Steuben! Did not old John Morton come from the same place ?”
“To be sure he did. He was the glory of the town. He pulled down the old clapboard meeting house that his father used to preach in, and built a new one for him: besides giving a start in business to half the young men of the village.”
“ Do you see that undergraduate at the end of the hall, standing by the last alcove, reading ? "
“ Yes; what about him? He seems a hardy, good-looking young fellow enough."
• He is John Morton's son.
“ Is it possible? I remember him when he was a child, but have not seen him for these ten years. After his father's death, his mother took him to Europe, to be educated; but she never came back; she died in Paris.”
" He is Mr. Morton's only child — is he not?”
“ Yes ; his first wife had no children; and after he had buried her, - which, by the way, I believe was the happiest
hour of his life, — he married a very different sort of person, Margaret Vassall, this boy's mother.”
What, one of the old Vassall race ?
Exactly; and, I suppose, the last survivor. I used to know her. She was a handsome woman, and, bating her family pride, altogether a very fine character. She managed her husband admirably."
Why, what need had John Morton of being managed ?” “O, Morton was a noble old gentleman, a merchant of the old school, and generous as the day ; but he had his faults. He made nothing of his three bottles of Madeira at dinner, and besides Ah, Mr. Jacobs, so you have found Macknight."
“Yes, sir,” said Mr. Jacobs, coming up, “ I have the volumes."
“See that young man, yonder. That's the son of your old friend, Mr. Morton."
Really! upon my word ! Ah! Mr. Morton was a friend to me, sir a very kind friend.”
And, in the simplicity of his heart, Mr. Jacobs glided up to the student, and blandly accosted him.
“How do you do, young gentleman ? I knew your worthy father. I knew him well. I have often sat at his hospitable board on anniversary week.”
Thus addressed, Vassall Morton looked up from his book, - it was Froissart's Chronicle, inclined his head in acknowledgment, and waited to hear more.
“Ahem!” coughed Mr. Jacobs, a little embarrassed : “your father was a most worthy and estimable gentleman: a true friend of the feeble and destitute. Ahem!- what class are you in, Mr. Morton ? "
“ The junior class,” said the young man, a suppressed smile flickering at the corner of his mouth.
“ Ahem! I hope, sir, that, like your father, you will long live to be an honor to your native town.”
“ Thank you, sir.”
“Good morning, sir,” said Morton, divided between an inclination to smile at the odd, humble little figure before him, and an unwillingness to wound the other's feelings.
“ Are you ready to go, Mr. Jacobs ? ” said Dr. Steele.
“If you please, sir, we will now take our departure; gathering the four volumes of Macknight on the Epistles under his arm; -“Good morning, Mr. Stilling fleet; good morning, Mr. Rubens. I am indebted to your kindness, gentlemen ahem!”
“ This is the way out, Mr. Jacobs,” said Steele to his diffident friend from West Weathersfield, who, in his embarrassment, was going out at the wrong door.
“I beg your pardon, sir — ahem!” replied Mr. Jacobs, with a bashful smile. And Dr. Steele, pointing to the true exit, ushered his rustic and reverend protégé from the sacred precinct of learning.
Richt hardie baith in ernist and play.- Sir David Lyndsay.
• Morton, what was the little old fogy in the white cravat saying to you just now in the library?'”
“ Telling me that my father was a worthy man, and that he hoped I should make just such another." “Ah, that was kind of him.”
What a pile of books you are lugging! Here, let me take half a dozen of them for you. You look as if you were training to be a hotel porter.”
I am laying in for vacation.” “What sense is there in that? Let alone your Latin, Greek, and mathematics; what the deuse is vacation made for? Take to the woods, as I do, breathe the fresh air, and see the world at large.” “ Do
you call it seeing the world at large, to go off into some barbarous, uninhabitable place, among mosquitoes, snakes, wolves, bears, and catamounts? What sense is there in that? What can you do when you get there?
“Shoot muskrats, and fish for mudpouts. Will you go with me?”
“Thank you, no. There's no one in the class featherwitted enough to go with you, except Meredith, and he ought to know better.”
Stay at home, then, and improve your mind. I shall be off to-morrow.”
- Alone?” “ Yes.”
Mr. Horace Vinal shrugged his shoulders, a movement which caused Sophocles and Seneca to escape from under his
Morton gathered them out of the mud, and thrusting them back again into their place, left his burdened fellowstudent to make the best of his way towards his den in Stoughton Hall.