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a web of many textures

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Page 66


Not at law, good friends. — We mean the boy's first
suit of clothes, as he emerges from the semi-fix of
boyhood into the realization of frock-coat, vest, pants,
and boots, and walks out among men, a man, in his own
opinion. Indeed, it might not be safe for one to insinuate
that he was any longer a boy; and even parental
rule is materially restricted, in view of the consequence
assumed with the clothes. What an air of exaltation
marks his steps as he moves along! and he looks at
everybody that passes as if expecting to hear some
remarks about his improved appearance; for, of course,
he thinks they are all looking at him. He will not
exactly cut his former acquaintances, who remain in
jackets, but he will let them know their places. There
is an impassable gulf of broadcloth now between them,
and theirs is but a satinet condition, that can properly
claim no sympathy with his. He looks at the young
ladies now patronizingly, and has a half-idea of regret
at the killing nature of his attractions, wondering which
of the number he shall select as his particular flame.
His habits change. He talks now in a different key,
and his childish treble is no longer discernible. He
thrusts his hands into his pockets, and fingers his keys
in a maturity of style that receives universal admiration.
He speaks of his father as “the governor,” of his
mother as “the old lady,” of his grown-up sisters as
“the girls;” and of his brothers, two or three years
younger than himself, as “the small fry,” telling Tommy,
with considerable authority, to black his boots for him,
and Mary Jane to adjust his neck-tie. He soon learns
to say “us men” with the greatest freedom. Such are
the first steps in progressive manhood, too often marred


Page 67
by rowdyism in the secondary stages, where impudence
is mistaken for smartness.