BEFORE me, neatly pasted in the book which contains the printed and written evidence of the pleasures and pains of three years' college life, there, between a summons and a play-bill, lies the slip of paper whereon the Steward informs me that I may retain my old room for yet another year. The wording of this, to me, important document is formal to the last degree. The gentleman who gave it me, too, showed no appreciation of the importance of the transaction, but was gazing over my shoulder the while at a couple of Freshmen laden with checks and term-bills. But, I say, this business was of some importance to me, and as I look upon this formula of assignation I am carried back to one hot summer afternoon when Sam and I stood on the steps of University eagerly scanning the bulletin of Freshman rooms. Lucky boys that we were, we drew our first choice! It is true, the room is not connected with two or even one chamber. It has no modern ventilator over the door, and we perceive no patent iron mantel, or fireplace. And my search for the Ebon shield and motto is repaid only by the inscription, "J. C. W. 1792," which, though long since filled with the janitor's putty, is still discernible just above the grate. The ceiling is low, and no cornice adorns the walls, but the windows command an excellent view of the Yard, and the comfortable window-seats and the pervading venerable aspect of the apartment made up, we thought, for all its deficiencies. And then, after a time, the room became so filled with curious old furniture, and pictures, and signs, and photographs, and what not, that it came to possess a certain cosey and comfortable air that I have perceived in few rooms here. I cannot say that No. 43 had to any great extent the appearance of a study during our Freshman year. How could it look like a cloister when its occupants were students in naught but name? And then Sam had such an untidy way of leaving his garments on the chairs and tables, and of keeping all his text and note books on the mantel-shelf, to the great detriment of the respectable appearance of the room, and in close proximity to pipes and actresses.
About the middle of the year No. 43 began to be the regular resort of Sam's numerous friends, for he was an affable, good-natured fellow, and I believe he had a tolerably intimate acquaintance with every man in his class. I, on the contrary, am modest and bashful, and used often to be disconcerted by the rude jests of some of our callers; but my admiration for my popular chum was so great that I would have submitted to anything for his sake. But why that chum should have chosen to give a punch in No. 43 on the very night before our hardest Annual I never could tell. I suppose it was because of the peculiar inappropriateness of the time. But give a punch he did, and that, as near as I could afterwards ascertain, compounded of the most dissimilar and deadly ingredients. The horrors of that night I shall never know, for I passed the time in study with a friend in C. H. I returned to the room in the morning, however, in time to wake Sam for the examination. I did not in the least mind finding three fellows in my bed and two on the lounge, but took these little matters as a matter of course. Poor Sam! that night was a finishing touch to his chances of being dropped, and in August a note from the Dean put an end to his and my vacation pleasure.
I was lonely enough in No. 43 during the first part of the following year. Few men visited me, and I would often sit for hours by the fire, thinking of former times and gazing at the ancient initials, guessing what sort of a fellow "J. C. W., 1792," was; whether he was a dig or a loafer, and whether he had a chum. I mean to go to the Library some day and learn all about J. C. W. and his college career. I have not time to tell of the long, late, lovely grinds I had here afterwards when I became a great student, nor of the quiet games at chess with the proctor on Saturday nights; for the shadows are growing long on the graceful curves of my time-warped floor, and the crowd is hurrying to evening Commons. I am afraid I have but feebly expressed my regard for my old room; but do not some of you feel the same liking for your temporary homes? I feel sure that I shall always like to return to mine, and I intend to exert my influence towards holding the Commencement meetings of our Class in No. 43.