With that cool indifference and want of surprise which are found exemplified so highly in the average Harvard Senior, my friend merely took one of my cigars, and queried, "For greens?"
"No," I replied, "we will not travel merely for novelty and excitement. A newly fledged graduate, though, doubtless, the noblest work of God, may yet be improved. By travel, mind and judgment are matured, ideas broadened, the taste educated-"
"In Germany one can, at least, get good cigars," replied Tom; and his arrow was barbed, for he was smoking one of a hundred cigars that I had recently purchased of a soi-disant smuggler, who had appeared mysteriously in my room with a thousand, concealed, with peculiar caution, in a bandbox.
Rather disconcerted at the untimely ending of my period, a thing I rather pride myself on in conversation, I suggested that law-pills would be improved if they were previously to receive a little Continental gilding.
"The energy of youth," remarked Tom, "should not be frittered away in travel. Earnest study and application to the great principles of law should be our only occupation. Look at Charles Sumner and Andrew Johnson and-and Thoreau-and Margaret Fuller and Bayard Taylor and-and all our great statesmen who distinguished themselves by ordering executions-that is, by executing orders-with promptness and despatch. And our fair Boston maidens value a man for what he is worth, I mean not his income, but in-themes, and the calculus, and all that kind of thing,-not French polish,-in short, graduates should marry,-receive their marriage certificate and matriculation papers at the same time (I hope to get them next week, shall be admitted as a student in full standing about a week after graduating),-in fact, the thing for me is a quiet life,-'love in a cottage,' and 'the narrow, narrow house'-"
He stopped, and hurriedly drank three glasses of sherry (I have given up the best pale, since Sanglier began to call so often), and rushed out, leaving me speechless. Class-Day eve, and Tom in that condition!
The next day dawned with unusual promise. A northerly wind, a sky clear both of clouds and canker-worms, and a number of eligible young men in the graduating class, seemed to promise a remarkably brilliant Class-Day. Our anticipations were more than realized. Never did the old stairways creak beneath a fairer load; the rippling laughter of our lovely visitors echoed through the grim halls until even the College bell strove to take a softer tone, as if from envy. Coming from the South, I had invited but a very moderate number of friends, and, at a comparatively early hour of the evening, I was alone. Stretched upon a lounge in my room, which is in the southwest corner of Hollis, I was enjoying one of Tom's best cigars, when I heard his voice beneath my window. I jumped up, thinking he had called me: but saw that he was merely enjoying a promenade with a certain Miss Margie Gray, whom I had met at his home.
This Miss Gray was one of those soft, kitten like girls who have address enough for a whole court of diplomacy, but whom you never see without wishing to shield them from the heartlessness of a scheming world. They had been playmates from childhood. Tom had been her chosen champion against the attacks of "that horrid Symperson boy," in return for which she allowed him to draw her home on his sled; she had listened admiringly when Tom had related what he would do "when he was in college"; together they had wept over the woes of the unfortunate Laurie, whom Tom thought rather a muff; and, last, but not least, they had acted together in private theatricals.
What was I to do? If I had closed the window, they would have been startled, and probably a grand opportunity lost. Besides, I was their old friend and confidant. What I did do was to light another cigar, and await further developments.
Tom was evidently struggling for a remark. Finally, it burst forth with explosive violence:
"D-do you not think the Rebellion-tree exceedingly beautiful, Miss Gray?"
"I always thought so," was the demure response.
"Ah-yes; I forgot. D-do you know, I have n't seen you for an age, Miss Gray."
The "Miss Gray" was a very bad sign. Formerly it had been "Margie" and "Tom." Poor fellow! he was hopelessly entangled.
"Not since yesterday, at tea," replied the fair tormentress. "But I hope to see you oftener in future."