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   Chapter 4 No.4

'As Gold in the Furnace' By John E. Copus Characters: 7909

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Roy and Garrett

HENNING was not overwhelmingly delighted when he learned that Andrew Garrett was to accompany him to St. Cuthbert's. He knew his cousin's disposition fairly well and did not expect to derive much pleasure from his presence at college, although he was aware that the relationship would occasion more or less close intimacy.

Never were two boys more dissimilar in character. Henning had been molded at St. Cuthbert's for five or six years. He had imbibed that spirit which is found among the students of every well-conducted Catholic college-that peculiar something which is so difficult to define, but which is so palpable in its effects, elevating and rendering the Catholic student the comparatively superior being he is. Those who have intelligently watched this college phenomenon admit that the tone, or spirit, or influence, or whatever it may be, is like nothing else on earth, so that if nothing else were accomplished, this result gives abundant reason for the existence of our Catholic colleges. If one were asked to define the exact process, to point out the various means employed, in transforming a crude youth into the manly, generous, self-possessed young man of high ideals and noble purpose, it would be found a most difficult thing to do.

Roy Henning was a fair example of what Catholic training does for a well-disposed youth. He was not perfect, as we shall probably see later on in our story; yet he had qualities that endeared him to all who knew him. Hating any appearance of meanness, he was ever the champion of the weak or the oppressed, as many a boy who was not the "under-dog" found to his cost. His cheerful, manly piety made religion attractive. There was nothing squeamish or mawkish about him. Everybody who knew him would laugh at the idea that Henning and effeminacy had the remotest connection. If the truth were told of him at this time he was, owing to his splendid health and sound physique, verging on the opposite of effeminacy.

Under the tutelage of such boys as Hunter, Claude Winters, Clavering, and others, he had developed into a really fine athlete. The "muscles of his brawny arms were"literally "strong as iron bands," and that one was certainly to be pitied who, if under Roy's displeasure, came in close contact with him.

Andrew Garrett was his cousin's antithesis. He was about the same inches as Roy, who measured five feet ten inches in his stocking feet, but beyond this all resemblance ceased. Andrew was not an athlete. He was of spare build, but did not look healthy. His chest was narrow, his arms and legs spindling and flabby. He had no muscle, because he took little exercise, and was, consequently, frequently bilious, which often resulted in his saying or doing much meaner and pettier things than he intended. It would be difficult to find two more dissimilar characters than these two cousins.

In justice to Andrew Garrett it must be stated that when he came with his cousin to St. Cuthbert's he had not the slightest knowledge of the conditions under which Roy was laboring. Owing to what he had previously known of the state of Roy's purse both at home and during vacation time, he had not the slightest suspicion that now his cousin's paternal allowance had been inconveniently curtailed. Whether he would have acted differently had he known all the circumstances is a matter of conjecture. Garrett was a factor in much of the annoyance Roy Henning suffered during the year.

For several days after the arrival of Andrew Garrett, Mr. Shalford, the prefect, watched him closely. Being a cousin of Henning, the prefect thought it was natural that he would associate with the Henning-Bracebridge-Shealey-Beecham set, and be one of those to whom no particular attention need be given. He was not a little surprised to discover that these boys had very little to do with him. There was no overt act on their part by which Garrett could be said to have bee

n snubbed or "dropped," but the prefect saw that there seemed to be a tacit understanding among these boys to let Garrett severely alone. No one had any particular liking for him, and it is quite probable that had he not been Henning's cousin, he would have experienced several times a very unpleasant quarter of an hour.

Roy Henning was now one of the leaders among the forthcoming graduates. His influence was now as great as Hunter's or Winter's had been in the previous year, and his relationship with Garrett saved that boy much annoyance, which, by his want of tact and a lack of companionableness, he would have brought upon himself.

"You do not seem to get along with the other boys, Garrett," said Mr. Shalford kindly, one day not long after the conversation recorded in our first chapter.

"I guess I can manage without them," was the ungracious reply.

"I don't think you can, my boy," said Mr. Shalford.

"Well, I do. I think I can manage my own affairs."

The prefect did not know whether this speech was intended as a rebuff to his advances, but he took a charitable view of it, and ascribed it to awkwardness, rather than to intentional boorishness. He said:

"Let me tell you, Andrew, that you can do no such thing."

"Yes, I can."

"Look here, my young man. You are forgetting yourself. I do not know what sort of training you received at home, but while you are here, you must speak to your superiors with more respect. Prefects and professors and the other officers of the college are accustomed to be treated here with at least a certain amount of deference."

The boy winced under the allusion to his home training. He prided himself upon being a gentleman, and, indeed, his home life was all that was delightful. As if he had read his thoughts, the prefect said:

"Do you know the meaning of gentleman-a gentle man? It is not necessarily an inherited quality of birth. It is rather a question of manners, is it not?"

Garrett hung his head. He knew that he had been rude and uncouth.

"Forgive me, sir. I did not mean to be ungentlemanly. But I do not like these boys here. They don't seem to treat me squarely."

"Why? What is wrong?"asked the prefect, now satisfied.

"Oh! I don't exactly know. They all seem inclined to let me alone. Nobody seems to want to have anything to say to me."

"Perhaps that statement is not altogether exact. Have you not annoyed or vexed several of them one way or another? Think now of what you may have done. If you want to get along with St. Cuthbert's boys, you will have to act honorably and above board in everything. Do not for a moment imagine that I am accusing you of anything underhand or mean. I am far from doing so. But boys are quick to discern character-frequently quicker than men. It is a species of intuition with them, and they are rarely deceived. You have been here a month. Do you know of any nicknames among the boys?"

"Yes, sir; several of them. There is Shanks, and Owly, and Pinchey, or Pinchbeck, and a lot more of them."

"Just so. Now, do you not see that each of these boys to whom a nickname sticks has just the characteristic or foible the name indicates?"

"Yes, sir, that is true."

"I am glad you recognize it. You have not as yet developed or shown any particular trait which would give the boys an opportunity of attaching any particular name to you. I should advise you to watch carefully, for, believe me, if they do give you a name, it will not be a pleasant one, and probably it will be one that will sting. At all events it will be one that will show to you your foibles pretty clearly. Watch yourself, therefore, and prevent it if you can."

With this warning the prefect left the boy and went to ring the great bell as first warning for supper. Garrett remained in a "brown study" for some time. Had he taken the prefect's advice he might have saved himself many hours of subsequent regret and remorse.

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