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Page 16


From that day the preparations for my departure went
forward without interruption. Mother quite recovered her
cheerfulness, both permitting and encouraging my glowing
predictions of the amount of study I should perform and
the progress I should make. The jacket was finished, still
retaining its perverse tendency to fly open, which gave me
trouble enough afterwards. I had also a pair of trousers
of the same material; they might have been a little baggy
in the hinder parts, but otherwise they fitted me very well.
A new cap was needed, and mother had serious thoughts
of undertaking its construction. My old seal-skin was
worn bare, but even a new one of the same material
would scarcely have answered. Somebody reported from
Honeybrook that Dr. Dymond's scholars wore stylish caps
of blue cloth, and our store-keeper was therefore commissioned
to get me one of the same kind from Philadelphia.
He took the measure of my head, to make sure of a fit; yet,
when the wonderful cap came, it proved to be much too
large. “'T will all come right in the end, Mrs. Godfrey,”
said the store-keeper; “his head 'll begin to swell when he 's
been at school a few weeks.” Meanwhile, it was carefully
accommodated to my present dimensions by a roll of paper
inside the morocco lining. A pair of kip-skin boots — real
top-boots, and the first I ever had — completed my outfit.
Compared with my previous experience, I was gorgeously


Page 17
arrayed. It was fortunate that my Sundays were to be
spent at home, as a second suit, much less a better one,
was quite beyond my mother's means.

Mr. Rand, Charley's father, made all the necessary arrangements
with Dr. Dymond, and kindly offered to take
me over to the school in his “rockaway,” on the first Monday
of November. The days dragged on with double slowness
to me, but I have no doubt they rushed past like a
whirlwind to mother. I did everything I could to arrange
for her comfort during my absence, — put the garden in
winter trim, sawed wood and piled it away, sorted the supplies
of potatoes and turnips in the cellar, and whatever
else she suggested, — doing these tasks with a feverish haste
and an unnecessary expenditure of energy. Whenever I
had a chance, I slipped away to talk over my grand prospects
with Dave Niles, or some other of the half-dozen village
boys of my age. I felt for them a certain amount of
commiseration, which was not lessened by their sneers at
Dr. Dymond's school, and the damaging stories which they
told about the principal himself. I knew that any of them —
unless it was Jackson Reanor, the tavern-keeper's son —
would have been glad to stand in my new boots.

“I know all about old Dymond,” said Dave; “he licks
awfully, and not always through your trousers, neither.
Charley Rand 'd give his skin if he had n't to go. His father
makes him.”

“Now, that 's a lie, Dave,” I retorted. (We boys used
the simplest and strongest terms in our conversation.) “Old
Rand would n't let Charley be licked; you know he took
him away from our school when Mr. Kendall whacked his
hands with the ruler.”

“Then he 'll have to take him away from Dymond's too,
I guess,” said Dave. “Wait, and you 'll see. Maybe
there 'll be two of you.”

I turned away indignantly, and went to see Bob Simmons,
whose hearty sympathy was always a healing-plaster


Page 18
for the moral bruises inflicted by the other boys. Bob was
not very demonstrative, but he had a grave, common-sense
way of looking at matters which sometimes brought me
down from my venturesome flights of imagination, but left
me standing on firmer ground than before. When I first
told him of my mother's plan, he gave me a thundering
slap on the back, and exclaimed, —

“She 's a brick! It 's the very thing for you, Johnny.
Come, old fellow, you and me 'll take an even start, — your
head aginst my hands. I would n't stop much to bet on
your head, though I do count on my hands doin' a good deal
for me.”

Finally the appointed Monday arrived. I was to go in
the afternoon, and mother had dinner ready by twelve
o'clock, so that Mr. Rand would not be obliged to wait a
minute when he called. Her plump little body was in constant
motion, dodging back and forth between the kitchen
and sitting-room, while she talked upon any and every subject,
as if fearful of a moment's rest or silence. “It will
only be until Saturday night,” she repeated, over and over
again. How little I understood all this intentional bustle
at the time, yet how distinctly I recall it now.

After a while, there was a cry outside of “Hallo, the
house!” — quite unnecessary, for I had seen Rand's rockaway
ever since it turned out of the lane beyond Reanor's
stables. I hastily opened the door, and shouted, “I 'm coming!”
Mother locked the well-worn, diminutive carpet-bag
which I was to take along, gave me a kiss, saying
cheerfully, “Only till Saturday night!” and then followed
me out to the gate. Mr. Rand and Charley occupied the only
two seats in the vehicle, but there was a small wooden stool
for me, where I sat, wedged between their legs, holding the
carpet-bag between mine. Its contents consisted of one
shirt, one pair of stockings, a comb, tooth-brush and piece
of soap, a box of blacking and a brush. I had never heard
of a night-shirt at that time. When I opened the bag, afterwards,


Page 19
I discovered two fall pippins and a paper of cakes
snugly stowed away in one corner.

“Good-day, Mrs. Godfrey!” said Mr. Rand, squaring
himself on his seat, and drawing up the reins for a
start; “I 'll call on the way home, and tell you how I
left 'em.”

“I shall be so much obliged,” my mother cried. “Do
you hear, Johnny? I shall have word of you to-night;
now, good-bye!”

Looking back as we drove away, I saw her entering the
cottage-door. Then I looked forward, and my thoughts
also went forward to the approaching school-life. I felt the
joy and the fear of a bird that has just been tumbled out
of the nest by its parent, and flutteringly sustains itself on
its own wings. I did not see, as I now can, my mother
glance pitifully around the lonely room after she closed the
door; carefully put away a few displaced articles; go to the
window and look up the road by which I had disappeared;
and then sink into her quaint old rocking-chair, and cry
without stint, until her heart recovers its patience. Then I
see her take up the breadths of a merino skirt for Mrs.
Reanor, and begin sewing them together. Her face is calm
and pale; she has rearranged her disordered puffs, and
seems to be awaiting somebody. She is not disappointed: the
gate-latch clicks, the door opens, and good Neighbor Niles
comes in with a half-knit stocking in her hand. This means
tea, and so the afternoon passes cheerfully away. But when
the fire is raked for the night on the kitchen-hearth, mother
looks or listens, forgetting afresh every few minutes that
there will be no sleeper in the little garret-room to-night;
takes up her lamp with a sigh, and walks wearily into her
chamber; looks long at the black silhouette of my father,
hung over the mantel-piece; murmurs to herself, — is it a
prayer to Our Father, or a whisper to the beloved Spirit?
— and at last, still murmuring words whose import I may
guess, and with tears, now sad, now grateful, lies down in


Page 20
her bed and gives her soul to the angels that protect the
holy Sleep!

Let me return to my own thoughtless, visionary, confident
self. Charley and I chattered pleasantly together, as we
rode along, for, although he was no great favorite of mine,
the resemblance in our destined lot for the next year or
two brought us into closer relations. Being an only son,
he had his own way too much, and sometimes showed himself
selfish and overbearing towards the rest of us; but I
never thought him really ill-willed, and I could not help
liking any boy (or girl, either) who seemed to like me.

Mr. Rand now and then plied us with good advice, which
Charley shook off as a duck sheds water, while I received
it in all earnestness, and with a conscientious desire to remember
and profit by it. He also enlarged upon our future
places in the world, provided our “finishing” at the
school was what it ought to be.

“I don't say what either o' you will be, mind,” he said;
“but there 's no tellin' what you might n't be. Member o'
the Legislatur' — Congress — President: any man may be
President under our institootions. If you turn out smart
and sharp, Charley, I don't say but what I might n't let you
be a lawyer or a doctor, — though law pays best. You,
John, 'll have to hoe your own row; and I dunno what
you 're cut out for, — maybe a minister. You 've got a sort
o' mild face, like; not much hard grit about you, I guess,
but 't a'n't wanted in that line.”

The man's words made me feel uncomfortable — the
more so as I had never felt the slightest ambition to become
a clergyman. I did n't quite know what he meant by “hard
grit,” but I felt that his criticism was disparaging, contrasted
with his estimate of Charley. My reflections
were interrupted by the latter saying, —

“I 'm agoin' to be what I like best, Pop!”

I said nothing, but I recollect what my thoughts were:
“I 'm going to be what I can; I don't know what; but it
will be something.


Page 21

From the crest of a long, rolling wave of farm-land we
now saw the village of Honeybrook, straggling across the
bottom of a shallow valley, in the centre of which, hard
against the breast of a long, narrow pond, stood its flourand
saw-mills. I knew the place, as well from later visits
as from my childish recollections; and I knew also that the
heavy brick building, buried in trees, on a rise of ground
off to the northeast, was the Honeybrook Boarding-School
for Boys, kept by Dr. Dymond. A small tin cupola (to
my boyish eyes a miracle of architectural beauty) rose
above the trees, and sparkled in the sun. Under that
magnificent star I was to dwell.

We passed through the eastern end of the village, and in
another quarter of an hour halted in a lane, at one end of
the imposing establishment. Mr. Rand led the way into
the house, Charley and I following, carpet-bags in hand.
An Irish servant-girl, with a face like the rising moon,
answered the bell, and ushered us into a reception-room on
the right hand of the passage. The appearance of this
room gave me a mingled sensation of delight and awe.
There was a bookcase, a small cabinet of minerals, two
large maps on the walls, and a plaster bust of Franklin on
the mantel-piece. The floor was covered with oil-cloth,
checkered with black and white squares, and a piece of
green oil-cloth, frayed at the edges, bedecked the table.
The only ornament in the room was a large spittoon of
brown earthen-ware. Charley and I took our seats behind
the table, on a very slippery sofa of horse-hair, while Mr.
Rand leaned solemnly against the mantel-piece, making
frequent use of the spittoon. Through a side-door we
heard the unmistakable humming of a school in full blast.

Presently this door opened, and Dr. Dymond entered.
I looked with some curiosity at the Jupiter Tonans whose
nod I was henceforth to obey. He was nothing like so
large a man as I expected to see. He may have been fifty
years old; his black hair was well streaked with gray, and


Page 22
he stooped slightly. His gray eyes were keen and clear,
and shaded by bushy brows, his nose long and wedgeshaped,
and his lips thin and firm. He was dressed in
black broadcloth, considerably glazed by wear, and his
black cravat was tied with great care under a very high
and stiff shirt-collar. His voice was dry and distinct, his
language precise, and the regular play of his lips, from the
centre towards the corners, suggested to me the idea that
he peeled his words of any roughness or inaccuracy as they
issued from his mouth.

“Ah, Mr. Rand?” he said, bowing blandly and shaking
hands. “And these are the boys? The classes are scarcely
formed as yet, but we shall soon get them into the right
places. How do you do? This is young Godfrey, I presume.”

He shook hands with us, and then turned to Mr. Rand,
who took out his pocket-book and produced two small rolls,
one of which I recognized as that which mother had given
to him when we left home. It was “half the pay in advance,”
in accordance with the terms of the institution.
Dr. Dymond signed two pieces of paper and delivered
them in return, after which he announced: —

“I must now attend to my school. The boys may remain
in the family-parlor until tea, when they will join the other
pupils. They will commence the regular course of study
to-morrow morning.”

He ushered us across the passage into the opposite room,
bade good-bye to Mr. Rand, and disappeared. “Well,
boys,” said the latter, “I guess it 's all ship-shape now, and
I can go. I want you to hold up your heads like men, and
work like beavers.” He shook hands with Charley, but
only patted me on the head, which I did n't like; so, when
Charley ran to the window to see him drive down the lane,
I turned my back and began examining the books on the

There were “Dick's Works,” and Dr. Lardner's “Scientific


Page 23
Lectures,” and “Redfield's Meteorology,” and I don't
know what besides, for, stumbling on Mrs. Somerville's
“Physical Geography,” I opened that, and commenced reading.
I had a ravenous hunger for knowledge, and my opportunities
for getting books had been so few that scarcely
anything came amiss. Many of the technical terms used in
the book were new to me, but I leaped lightly over them,
finding plenty of stuff to keep my interest alive.

“I say, Jack,” Charley suddenly called, “here 's one of
the boys!”

My curiosity got the better of me. I laid down the book,
and went to the window. A lank youth of about my own
age, with short brown hair and sallow face, was leaning
against the sunny side of a poplar-tree, munching an apple.
From the way in which he made the tree cover his body,
and the furtive glances he now and then threw towards the
house, it was evident that he was not pursuing the “regular
course of study.” We watched him until he had finished
the apple and thrown away the core, when he darted across
to the nearest corner of the house, and crept along the
wall, under the very window at which we were standing.
As he was passing it, he looked up, dodged down suddenly,
looked again, and, becoming reassured, gave us an impudent
wink as he stole away.

We were so interested in watching this performance
that a sharp “Ahem!” in the room, behind us, caused us
both to start and blush, with a sense of being accessories in
the misdemeanor. I turned and saw an erect, sparely
formed lady of thirty-five, whose clouded gray eyes looked
upon me through a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles. Her
hair was brown, and hung down each side of her face in
three long curls. Her gown was of a black, rustling stuff,
which did not seem to be silk, and she wore a broad linen
collar, almost like a boy's, with a bit of maroon-colored
ribbon in front. If I were an artist, I am sure I could
draw her entire figure at this moment. It was Miss Hitchcock,


Page 24
as I discovered next day, — a distant relative, I
believe, of Dr. Dymond, who assisted him in teaching the
younger boys, and, indeed, some of the older ones. Her
specialty was mathematics, though it was said that she was
tolerably well versed in Latin also.

“You are new scholars, young gentlemen, I see,” she
remarked, in a voice notable, like Dr. Dymond's, for its
precise enunciation. “May I ask your names?”

Charley gave his, and I followed his example.

“Indeed! Godfrey? A mathematical name! Do you
inherit the peculiar talent of your famous ancestor?”

Her question was utterly incomprehensible to me. I
had never even heard of Thomas Godfrey or his quadrant,
and have found no reason, since, to claim relationship with
him. I had a moderate liking for abstract mathematics,
but not sufficient to be developed, by any possibility, into a
talent. Consequently, after stammering and hesitating, I
finally answered, “I don't know.”

“We shall see,” she said, with a patronizing, yet friendly
air. “How far have you advanced in your mathematical

I gave her the full extent of my algebra.

“Do you know Logarithms?”

Again I was cruelly embarrassed. I was not sure
whether she meant a person or a book. Not being able to
apply the term to anything in my memory, I at last answered
in the negative.

“You will come to them by the regular progressive
path,” she said. “Also the Differential Calculus. There
I envy you! I think the sense of power which you feel
when you have mastered the Differential Calculus never
can come twice in the course of a mathematical curriculum.
I would be willing to begin again, if I were certain that
I should experience it a second time.” Here she sighed,
as if recalling some vanished joy.

For my part, I began to be afraid of Miss Hitchcock. I


Page 25
had never encountered, much less imagined, such a prodigy
of learning. I despaired of being able to understand her;
how she would despise my ignorance when she discovered
it! I afterwards found that, although she was very fond of
expatiating upon mathematical regions into which few of
the scholars ventured, she was a very clear and capital
instructress when she descended to the simpler branches.

Turning from me, she now said to Charley, “Do you
share your friend's taste?”

He appeared no less bewildered than myself; but he
answered, boldly, “Can't say as I do.”

“Come to me, both of you.”

She took a seat, and we approached her awkwardly, and
with not a little wonder. She stretched forth her hands
and grasped each of us by the outer arm, stationed us side
by side, and looked from one to another. “Quite a difference
in the heads!” she remarked, after a full minute of
silent inspection: “Number is not remarkably developed
in either; Language good in both; more Ideality here,”
(touching me on one of the temples,) “also more of the
Moral Sentiment,” (placing a hand on each of our heads).
Then she began rubbing Charley's head smartly, over the
ears, and though he started back, coloring with anger, she
composedly added, “I thought so, — Acquisitiveness six
plus, if not seven.”

We retired to our seats, not at all edified by these cabalistic
sentences. She presently went to a bookcase, glanced
along the titles, and, having selected two bulky volumes,
approached us, saying, “I should think these works would
severally interest you, young gentlemen, judging from your

On opening mine, I found it to be “Blair's Rhetoric,”
while Charley's, as I saw on looking over his shoulder at
the title, was the first volume of “McCulloch's Commercial
Dictionary.” For herself she chose a volume of equal size,
containing diagrams, which, from their irregular form, I am


Page 26
now inclined to think must have been geological. Charley
seemed to be greatly bored with this literary entertainment,
and I should probably have been equally so, had I not
found couplets and scraps of poetry on turning over the
leaves. These kernels I picked out from the thick husks of
prose in which they were wrapped, and relished.

The situation was nevertheless tedious, and we were
greatly relieved, an hour later, when the dusk was already
falling, to hear the loud sound of a bell echoing through
the house. Miss Hitchcock rose and put away her book,
and we were only too glad to do likewise. The regular
tramp of feet sounded in the passage, and presently an immense
noise of moving chairs came from the adjoining room
on our left. The door of this room opened, and Dr. Dymond
beckoned to us. On entering, we beheld two long
tables, at each of which about twenty boys or young men,
of all ages from twelve to twenty-four, were seated. Dr.
Dymond, placing himself at the head of the first table,
pointed out to us two vacant seats at the bottom of the second,
which was presided over by Miss Hitchcock. All eyes
were upon us as we walked down the room, and I know I
was red to the roots of my hair; Charley took the scrutiny
more easily. It was not merely the newness of the experience,
though that of itself was sufficiently embarrassing,
— the consciousness of my new clothes covered me
awkwardly, from head to foot. I saw some of the boys
wink stealthily at each other, or thrust their tongues into
their cheeks, and envied the brazen stare with which my
companion answered them.

No sooner had we taken our seats than Dr. Dymond
rapped upon the table with the handle of his knife. The
forty boys immediately fixed their eyes upon their plates,
and a short grace was uttered in a loud tone. At its conclusion,
the four Irish maids in waiting set up a loud rattling
of cups and spoons, and commenced pitching measures
of weak tea upon the table. I was so amazed at the rapidity


Page 27
and apparent recklessness with which they flung the
cups down beside the boys, that I forgot to help myself to
the plate of cold meat until all the best pieces were gone,
and I was obliged to choose between a few fatty scraps.
This dish, with some country-made cheese, and a moderate
quantity of bread and butter, constituted the supper.
When Dr. Dymond had finished, he clasped his hands
over his stomach, twirling one thumb around the other,
and now and then casting a sharp glance at such of the
boys as were still eating. The latter seemed to have a
consciousness of the fact, for they hastily crammed the last
morsels of bread into their mouths and gulped down half a
cup of tea at a time. In a few moments they also crossed
their knives and forks upon their plates, and sat erect in
their chairs. Thereupon Dr. Dymond nodded down his
table, first to the row on his right hand, and then to the
row on his left, both of whom rose and retired in the same
order. Miss Hitchcock gave a corresponding signal to our
table, and I found myself, almost before I knew it, in the
school-room on the other side of the hall. Most of the
boys jerked down their caps from the pegs and rushed out-of-doors,
being allowed half an hour's recreation before
commencing their evening studies. With them went Charley,
leaving me to look out for myself. Some half-dozen
youths, all of them older than I, gathered around the stove,
and I sat down shyly upon a stool not far from them, and
listened to their talk. Subjects of study, village news,
the private scandal of the school, and “the girls,” were
strangely mingled in what I heard; and not a few things
caused me to open my eyes and wonder what kind of fellows
they were. I had one comfort, however: they were
evidently superior to my former associates at the Cross-Keys.

As they did not seem to notice me, I got up after a while
and looked out the window at the other boys playing.
Charley Rand was already “hail-fellow well-met” with the


Page 28
most of them. I have never since seen his equal for making

It was not long before a few strokes of the bell hanging
under the tin cupola called them all into the school-room.
Lamps were lighted, and the Principal made his appearance.
His first care was to assign desks to us, and I was
a little disappointed that Charley and I were placed at different
forms. I found myself sandwiched between a grave,
plodding youth of two-and-twenty, and a boy somewhat
younger than myself, who had a disagreeable habit of whispering
his lessons. At the desk exactly opposite to me sat
a boy of eighteen, whose face struck me as the most beautiful
I had ever seen, yet the impression which it produced
was not precisely agreeable. His head was nobly balanced
and proudly carried, the hair black and crisply curling, the
skin uniform as marble in its hue, which was a very pale
olive, the lips full, short, and scornfully curved, and the eyes
large and bright, but too defiant, for his years, in their expression.
Beside him sat his physical opposite, — a red-cheeked,
blue-eyed, laughing fellow of fourteen, as fresh
and sweet as a girl, but with an imp of mischief dodging
about his mouth, or lurking in the shadow of his light-brown
locks. I had not been at my desk fifteen minutes
before he stealthily threw over to me a folded slip of paper,
on which he had written, “What is your name?”

I looked up, and was so charmed by the merry brightness
of the eyes which met mine that I took a pen and wrote,
“John Godfrey. What is yours?”

Back came the answer, — “Bill Caruthers.”

It was several days before I discovered why he and all
the other boys who heard me address him as Bill Caruthers
laughed so immoderately. The little scamp had written the
name of my grave right-hand neighbor, his own name being
Oliver Thornton.

There was no recitation in the evening, so, after a few
questions, Dr. Dymond ordered me to prepare for the grammar


Page 29
class in the morning. I attended to the task conscientiously,
and had even gone beyond it when bedtime came.
The Doctor himself mounted with us to the attic-story,
which was divided into four rooms, containing six beds
each. I had expected to sleep with Charley Rand, and was
quite dismayed to see him go off to another room with one
of his new playmates.

I stood, meanwhile, lonely and abashed, with my little
carpet-bag in hand, in the centre of one of the rooms, with
nine boys around me in various degrees of undress. Dr.
Dymond finally perceived my forlorn plight.

“Boys,” said he, “which beds here are not filled. You
must make room for Godfrey.”

“Whitaker's and Penrose's,” answered one, who sat in
his shirt on the edge of a bed, pulling off his stockings.

The Doctor looked at the beds indicated. “Where 's
Penrose?” he said.

“Here, sir,” replied Penrose, entering the room at that
moment. It was my vis-à-vis of the school-room.

“Godfrey will sleep with you.”

Penrose cast an indifferent glance towards me, and pulled
off his coat. I commenced undressing, feeling that all the
boys in the room, who were now comfortably in bed, were
leisurely watching me. But Dr. Dymond stood waiting,
lamp in hand, and I hurried, with numb fingers, to get off
my clothes. “A slim chance of legs,” I heard one of the
boys whisper, as I crept along the further side of the bed
and stole between the sheets. Penrose turned them down
immediately afterwards, deliberately stretched himself out
with his back towards me, and then drew up the covering.
Dr. Dymond vanished with the lamp, and closed the door
after him.

My situation was too novel, and — let me confess the exact
truth — I was too frightened, to sleep. I had once or twice
passed a night with Bob Simmons, at his father's house, but
with this exception had always slept alone. The silence


Page 30
and indifference of my bedfellow troubled me. I envied
the other pairs, who were whispering together, or stifling
their laughter with the bedclothes, lest the Doctor might
hear. I tucked the edges of the sheet and blankets under
me, and lay perfectly still, lest I should annoy Penrose,
who was equally motionless, — but whether he slept or not,
I could not tell. My body finally began to ache from the
fixed posture, but it was a long time before I dared to turn,
moving an inch at a time. The glory of the school was
already dimmed by the experience of the first evening, and
I was too ignorant to foresee that my new surroundings
would soon become not only familiar, but pleasant. The
room was silent, except for a chorus of deep breathings,
with now and then the mutterings of a boyish dream, before
I fell asleep.