THE other day, as I was improving a shining hour in a recitation which, by some strange mischance, lacked that absorbing interest which our recitations so generally possess, I happened to be looking at our elegant friend Augustus just as our instructor called upon Smudge. Now Smudge is not an elegant man. His clothes were certainly not made by Poole, and I don't think his hat ever saw London, or, if it did, it has certainly been on this side of the water long enough to make good a claim for naturalization; but though his clothes are far from new, they are very neat, and he evidently bestows quite as much water on the outside of his body (and probably more on the inside) than our friend Augustus.
Knowing this, and knowing what a good-natured, good-hearted fellow Augustus really is, I was rather surprised to see a sneer on his face when he heard Smudge's name. Looking at Smudge to see the reason, I could see that he is no beauty; his hands are large and rather red, and his feet would be quite long enough for all practical purposes, without those long, tapering, curved projections which the shoemaker has been pleased to add, and which he, poor fellow, thinks rather a nuisance, but one which must be endured for the sake of fashion. But if I had asked Augustus if he sneered at Smudge, or looked the other way when he met him in the Yard (as I saw him do the other day because of his personal appearance), he would have denied it indignantly. Now the truth is, that our friend Augustus is a little inclined to "snobbishness," and a little too much afraid of public opinion; in fact, in a small way, he comes pretty near "meanly worshipping a mean thing," - the best definition of a snob ever given. Now I don't want Augustus to make an intimate friend of Smudge, and I am not at all certain that Smudge would want him to either, but he can't afford to make fun of him.
If I were a betting man, I would like to wager something that, when the "flag drops at the half" on the race-track of life some twenty years hence, Smudge, in spite of the amount of weight he must carry in his shoes, in spite of his ungainly gait, and in spite of the lead and better position Augustus had at the start, - in spite of all these, - will be more than even with him, and I should not wonder if Augustus were "nowhere" on the home-stretch.
Let Augustus, then, be polite to old Smudge out of policy, if for no better reason, for I imagine he has a rather hard time, and will appreciate a pleasant smile and a kind nod; and who knows but what his aid may avert a dreaded "flunk" on some impossible question? (Smudge has a genius for knowing things that most people put down as "things no fellow can be expected to know,") But, at any rate, however this may be, Augustus will have the satisfaction of having acted like a gentleman.