I like to study faces, particularly feminine faces of about eighteen. Accordingly, while to conceal my designs I pretended to be looking intently at the fireplace, and remarked that I thought open fires much more cheerful than kerosene stoves, I was in reality directing my gaze in a sort of circuitous way upon her features.
My assertion being of such an unanswerable character she ventured no reply, and my observations were carried on with rapidity and success.
"The mouth shows decision and determination. She's rather opinionative. There's a deal of individuality about that forehead; and I war-want that beneath that depth of dark-brown hair there are some terrific uprisings of combativeness. That nose, too, just the least bit on the ascendency, bespeaks a fond relish for logomachy; it starts up just a little as if it sniffed the air for scents of strife and combat." Thus spoke my reflective, phrenological self. But my unphrenological, my natural self, exclaimed, "By the six consumptive sons of my goodie, this girl has a pretty face! Wonderfully pretty!" And my poetic heart burst forth into spontaneous verse, and sang low and softly to itself: -
"Her lips are like two roses rare,
And - and -"
While I, seeking for the appropriate words and requisite rhyme to express in an equally original manner the fact that her cheeks were also like roses, whereas her eyes and hair were not, she interrupted all further flow of inward poesy by inquiring, in a tone of ill-omened penetrativenes, -
"Are you from Harvard?"
I replied with as grear an assumption of humility as an affirmative answer to so pleasing a question would permit, "I am."
"Then," said she, and those two bumps of combativeness rose up and peered over the tips of her ears, "You're conceited; you know you are. You need n't say you're not."
"It is very probable that I am," I replied, "just at this moment. The honor of your acquaintance has been so recently conferred upon me that naturally I carry it, as yet, with some little show of vanity."
Paying no attention to this extraordinary effort of mine, she continued, -
"You Harvard men are all conceited. I don't know why you should be, I'm sure. I should think that you'd feel rather small after Yale has beaten you so many times in football. Oh! that's a magnificent football team, that Yale team."
"You appear to be considerably interested in that Yale football team," I said. "May I inquire if you are acquainted with any worthy blacksmith who turns an honest dollar or two by playing on it; or has your father some farm hands who take that way of providing for their winter's necessities?"
She trotted her little foot on the floor, and replied, -
"I don't know what you're talking about. I'm interested in Yale because I have a brother there."