Page images
PDF
EPUB

"Do you think of it yourself?"

"There's two of them," said Rufus smiling.

"Well, you take one and I'll take the other," said Winthrop gravely. "That's settled. And here is something you had better put in your pocket as we go-it may be useful in the meanwhile."

He quietly gathered up the five dollars from the rock and slipped them into the pocket of Rufus's jacket as he spoke; then slipped himself off the rock, took the fishing tackle and baskets into the boat, and then his brother, and pushed out into the tide. There was a strong ebb, and they ran swiftly down past rock and mountain and valley, all in a cooler and fairer beauty than a few hours before when they had gone up. Rufus took off his hat and declared there was no place like home; and Winthrop sometimes pulled a few strong strokes and then rested on his oars and let the boat drop down with the tide.

"Winthrop," said Rufus, as he sat paddling his hands in the water over the side of the boat,-"you're a tremendous fine fellow!"

"Thank you.-I wish you'd sit a little more in the middle." "This is better than Asphodel just now," Rufus remarked as he took his hands out and straightened himself.

"How do you like Mr. Glanbally?"

"Well enough-he's a very good man-not too bright; but he's a very good man. He does very well. I must get you there, Winthrop.”

Winthrop shook his head and turned the conversation; and Rufus in fact went away from home without finding a due opportunity to speak on the matter. But perhaps other agency was at work.

The summer was passed, and the fall nearly; swallowed up in farm duty as the months before had been. The cornstalks were harvested and part of the grain threshed out. November was on its way.

[ocr errors]

"Governor," said his father one night, when Winthrop was playing " even or odd" with Winifred and Asahel, a great handful of chestnuts being the game, Governor, have you a mind to take Rufus's place at Asphodel for a while this fall?" The blood rushed to Winthrop's face; but he only forgot his chestnuts and said, 66

Yes, sir.'

"You may go, if you've a mind to, and as soon as you like.It's better travelling now than it will be by and by. I can get along without you for a spell, I guess."

"Thank you, father."

But Winthrop's eyes sought his mother's face. In vain little Winifred hammered upon his hand with her little doubled up fist, and repeated, even or odd?" He threw down the chestnuts and quitted the room hastily.

CHAPTER V

The wind blew hollow frae the hills,
By fits the sun's departing beam

Looked on the fading yellow woods

That waved o'er Lugar's winding stream.

BURNS.

THE five dollars were gone. No matter they could be wanted. They must be. Winthrop had no books either. What had he? A wardrobe large enough to be tied up in a pocket-handkerchief; his father's smile; his mother's tremulous blessing; and the tears of his little brother and sister.

He set out with his wardrobe in his hand, and a dollar in his pocket, to walk to Asphodel. It was a walk of thirteen miles. The afternoon was chill, misty and lowering; November's sad-colour in the sky, and Winter's desolating heralds all over the ground. If the sun shone anywhere, there was no sign of it; and there was no sign of it either in the traveller's heart. If fortune had asked him to play "even or odd," he could hardly have answered her.

He was leaving home. They did not know it, but he did. It was the first step over home's threshold. This little walk was the beginning of a long race, of which as yet he knew only the starting-point; and for love of that starting-point and for straitness of heart at turning his back upon it, he could have sat down under the fence and cried. How long this absence from home might be, he did not know. But it was the snapping of the tie, that he knew. He was setting his face to the world; and the world's face did not answer him very cheerfully. And that poor little pocket-handkerchief of things, which his mother's hands had tied up, he hardly dared glance at it; it said so pitifully how much they would, how little they had the power to do for him; she and his father; how little way that heart of love

could reach, when once he had set out on the cold journey of life He had set out now, and he felt alone,-alone; his best company was the remembrance of that whispered blessing; and that, he knew, would abide with him. If the heart could have coined the treasure it sent back, his mother would have been poor no

more.

He did not sit down, nor stop, nor shed a tear. It would have gone hard with him if he had been obliged to speak to anybody; but there was nobody to speak to. Few were abroad, at that late season and unlovely time. Comfort had probably retreated to the barns and farmhouses-to the homesteads,-for it was a desolate road that he travelled; the very wagons and horses that he met were going home, or would be. It was a long road, and mile after mile was plodded over, and evening began to say there was nothing so dark it might not be darker. No Asphodel yet.

It was by the lights that he saw it at length and guessed he was near the end of his journey. It took some plodding then to reach it. Then a few inquiries brought him where he might see Mr. Glanbally.

It was a corner house, flush upon the road, bare as a poverty of boards could make it, and brown with the weather. In the twilight he could see that. Winthrop thought nothing of it; he was used to it; his own house at home was brown and bare; but alas! this looked very little like his own house at home. There wasn't penthouse enough to keep the rain from the knocker. knocked.

ago.

[ocr errors]

"Is Mr. Glanbally at home?"

He

"Yes-I 'spect he is he come in from school half an hour You go in there, and I guess you'll find him."

There,' indicated a door at right angles with the front and about a yard behind it. The woman opened the door, and left Winthrop to shut it for himself.

In a bare room, at a bare table, by an ill-to-do dip candle, sat Mr. Glanbally and his book. The book on the table, and Mr. Glanbally's face on the book, as near as possible; and both as near as possible under the candle. Reason enough for that, when the very blaze of a candle looked so little like giving light. Was that why Mr. Glanbally's eyes almost touched the letters? Winthrop wondered he could see them at all; but probably he did, for he did not look up to see anything else. He had taken the opening and shutting of the door to be by some wonted hand. Winthrop stood still a minute. There was nothing remarkable

about his future preceptor, except his position. He was a little, oldish man-that was all.

Winthrop moved a step or two, and then looking hastily up, the little man pushed the candle one way and the book another, and peered at his visitor.

"Ah! Do you wish to see me, sir?" "I wish to see Mr. Glanbally."

"That's my name, sir,—that's right.”

Winthrop came a step nearer and laid a letter on the table. The old gentleman took it up, examined the outside, and then went on to scan what was within, holding the lines in the same fearful proximity to his face; so near indeed, that to Winthrop's astonishment when he got to the bottom of the page he made no scruple of turning over the leaf with his nose. The letter was folded, and then Mr. Glanbally rose to his feet.

"Well sir, and so you have come to take a place in our Acad

emy for a spell-I am glad to see you-sit down."

Which Winthrop did; and Mr. Glanbally sat looking at him, a little business-like, a little curious, a little benevolent.

"What have you studied?"

"Very little, sir,-of anything."
"Your father says, his second son-

of the other?"

"William, sir."

"William what?"

"Landholm."

-What was the name

"William Landholm-yes, I recollect-I couldn't make out exactly whether it was Sandball or Lardner-Mr. Landholm— Where is your brother now, sir?"

"He is at Little River, sir, going on with his studies."

"He made very good progress-very good indeed—he's a young man of talent, your brother. He's a smart fellow. He's going on to fit himself to enter college, ain't he?"

"Yes sir."

"He'll do well-he can do what he's a mind. Well, Mr. Landholm-what are you going to turn your hand to?"

"I have hardly determined, sir, yet."

"You'll see your brother-something, I don't know what, one of these days, and you'll always be his brother, you know. Now what are you going to make of yourself?-merchant or farmer?"

"Neither, sir."

"No?" said Mr. Glanbally. He looked a little surprised, for Mr. Landholm's letter had spoken of "a few weeks."

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »