YES, I think I shall room alone next year. Jack is a mighty pleasant fellow, and all that, you know, but I can't stand his love. He does n't make any secret of it, so perhaps you'd like to hear how he goes on. His favorite way is to go to the drawer where he keeps his treasures, and bring out some decayed peony or number eight glove, and then to fall into a rhapsody over it. "This glove, Tom, was Minnie's. I met her that summer I spent at the seaside. She was my beau-ideal of
'A perfect woman nobly planned.'
Clear blue eyes, shimmering golden hair, a perfect Marguerite. How trustful and confiding she was! We used to talk poetry by the hour, and once, as I ventured like a true knight to claim the winsome lady's glove, she blushed, - a blush like the soft pink on the petals of an apple-blossom, - and shook her head; but as she passed me that night in the corridor, she dropped this little glove into my hand, and - well - she went away the next day, and -" He told me once, by the way, that she married a wealthy pork-packer out West somewhere.
Then comes a faded rose, a Jacqueminot, and the disease takes this phase: "This rose I had from Kate. She was the most grandly beautiful woman I ever saw; we met at Baltimore, during that Southern trip I took last spring, when the Faculty thought best, - you remember. I never appreciated Byron till I saw her. No cold hard outlines, but the rounded form of a Venus; the rich red blood of the South shining through the clear, olive-tinted skin. She was not one of those hoydenish creatures that one meets here, but seemed surrounded by an atmosphere of perfect repose. One involuntarily turned to look for the black slave with the sherbet, and through the open casement half expected to see the dancing wavelets of the Golden Horn, dotted with many a gay caique." I think he said caique; he may have said cacique. "But the course of true love never did run smooth, and so we parted." Her father was a Southern fire-eater, and the chief of a rifle-club; he caught Jack kissing his daughter's hand, and kicked him out of the house.
The last one is "Jessie," and Jessie appears to be a New Hampshire girl that he met when he was on that tramp last summer. He talks about her as if she were a dryad, or naiad, or something of the sort, and exhibits a cardinal flower that he says formed part of a garland with which he twined her brows. He wrote a poem about her, too, and has got it published in the Echo.
"My love is like a meadow fair,
That laughs back to the laughing sky,
Where flashing through the summer air
Comes humming-bird and dragon-fly.
Her hazel eyes shine like the brook,
Where soft-eyed cattle wade and drink;
Her lips, the cardinals zephyr-shook,
That nod and whisper on its brink.
The wild-rose pink is on her cheeks,
And soft as thistledown her hair.