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   Chapter 13 No.13

Elsie at Home By Martha Finley Characters: 8840

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


Nearly all the guests-relatives and dear friends-remained for some hours after the departure of the bride and groom, some conversing together upon the veranda, some wandering in couples or little companies about the grounds or sitting in the shade of the beautiful trees on the lawn.

Most of the young people, especially those of them who had been attendants of the bride and groom, gathered about Grandma Elsie-for they all loved her, and everyone felt that she had particular need of some pleasant distraction of thought just at that time, to prevent her from dwelling upon the partial loss of her youngest daughter.

Walter was, of course, one of the group, and he presently plunged into lively accounts of his college-boy experiences, very interesting and amusing to him and presumably so to others, as, in fact, they were to most if not all of his auditors, his older brothers among the rest; for it seemed to carry them back, in at least a measure, to their own Freshman days, with all their trials and triumphs, their pleasures and annoyances.

"Did anybody do anything very bad to you, Walter?" asked Grace.

"No; not very," he replied; "hazing has been almost abolished, and what is still done is by no means unendurable.

"Oh! I must tell you of a bit of fun we had only the other day. On the porch of one of our boarding houses a countryman had set down a basket of eggs-about twenty dozen I was told-that he had brought in for customers; and there they stood, looking as tempting as possible, especially to wild young college boys, some of whom, coming there when recitations were over and the dinner hour approaching, saw them and were immediately smitten with a desire to handle, if not to taste them. One fellow snatched up an egg and threw it at another; it struck him, broke, and bespattered his clothes. He, naturally, retaliated in kind, and other fellows followed their example, the fun growing fast and furious, till every egg the basket had contained was gone, and porch, students, and their clothing were a sight to behold."

"And what did the farmer say when he came back for his basket and found it empty?" asked Lucilla.

"He was very angry, but those who had broken the eggs paid him his full price, and he went off tolerably well satisfied, though he growled that he was compelled to disappoint his customers.

"The boarding house keeper was angry, too, but stopped scolding when told that the mischief should be repaired at the expense of those who had caused it."

"The clothes of those engaged in the row must have been in a pretty bad condition," remarked Harold.

"Yes, of course; and they had some fine tailors' bills to pay before they were again presentable."

"A shameful waste of good food provided by our Heavenly Father, that someone's hunger might be satisfied," remarked Grandma Elsie gravely. "Surely the young men engaged in it must have forgotten the teaching of our Saviour when he said, 'Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.'"

"Mamma! I had forgotten that," exclaimed Walter, blushing vividly.

"A poor excuse, my son," she replied. "'Remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them.' Those are his own words given to Moses to speak unto the Children of Israel. Jesus was and is God; therefore what he commanded is the command of God. And since he had just proved his ability to create abundance of food, his command to avoid waste must have been given for the benefit of his hearers; and can you think he would have approved of the waste of good, nourishing food of which you have just been telling?"

"No, mother; I am convinced that it was not right; that it was, in fact, wicked waste. I must own that I had a share in it; but I promise you I will never be guilty of the like again. It does seem very wrong when one thinks of the multitudes of people in different parts of the world who are actually starving."

"Yes, I hope you will be more thoughtful in future-will use your influence against such objectionable sport; surely bright young men and boys should be capable of finding or making better or less blameworthy fun. You may feel assured, however, that your mother is interested in all that interests you. So if you have anything more to tell of your college experiences we will be glad to hear it."

"You found the Sophs rather domineering, didn't you?" asked Herbert.

"About as much so as they

dared to be, I should say," laughed Walter. "For instance, they won't let the Freshes wear white duck trousers till some time in May. Nor will they allow them to wear the colours gold and black till just at the close of their Freshman year."

"Well, that is tyranny!" exclaimed Lucilla, "and if I were a Freshman I wouldn't stand it."

"Ah! but if you didn't you might have something worse to stand," laughed Walter. Then he went on, "I must tell you about the cane spree. They have it at the time of the first full moon. The players are three men from each class-one light-weight, one middle, and one heavy-weight. The students of all classes gather in a circle around them to watch the sport. First the light-weights try a tussle for the cane; then the middles, and lastly the heavys. It is not so much strength as skill that wins, and the victors keep their canes as trophies, and are proud to show them for the rest of their lives."

"Well, really," laughed Maud Dinsmore, "it does not strike me as anything worth taking particular pride in."

"Mayhap that is because you are only a girl, Maud," remarked Chester teasingly.

"Yes," she returned sportively, "if I were only a boy I might be as silly as the others."

"Does it strike you as very silly, Gracie?" asked Walter.

"Well, no; not for boys," she returned doubtfully, "but rather so for a man. There are so many other things in which-at least it seems to me-it would be better worth while to excel."

"Yes; so there are," he agreed with a thoughtful look. "And yet an occasional bit of sport is a good thing even for a man."

"That is very true," said Harold; "and certainly as true for brain-workers as for any who toil with their hands."

"Doesn't it seem pleasant to be at home again, Walter?" asked Grace.

"Yes, indeed!" he exclaimed. "There is no place like home-especially home with mother in it."

"Or with father in it," added Grace as, at that moment, Captain Raymond joined the circle.

"Such a father as ours," said Lucilla, looking up at him with a smile of proud, fond affection. He returned it, accepted an offered seat, and asked Walter if he had been entertaining the company with tales of college doings and experiences.

"Yes, sir," returned the lad. "I suppose it is the usual thing for a Freshman to do on coming home at the end of his year."

"Quite; his head being pretty full of them," was the playful rejoinder. "Well, little-no, young brother-I hope the old tutor has not been entirely forgotten, in admiration and affection for the new?"

"No, sir; no, indeed! and never will be," returned Walter, speaking with an energy and earnestness that brought a smile to the captain's lips and eyes. "I shall show myself strangely ungrateful if I ever forgot the patience and kindness with which my oldest brother instructed me; and all for no reward at all."

"Ah! there you are mistaken," said Captain Raymond pleasantly. "It was reward enough to know that I was helping to fit you for future usefulness. I hope, my boy, you will live to be an honour to your mother and a blessing to the world."

"I hope so, sir; it is my ardent wish," Walter said low and earnestly, giving his mother a most loving look as he spoke.

"And if you trust not in your own strength, but look constantly to God for help, you will succeed, my son," she responded in low, moved tones.

Just at that moment there were several additions to their group, among them Captain Keith and Dr. Percival, and the talk turned upon plans for the next few days, and after that for the summer. Most of the relatives from a distance would linger in that neighbourhood for a week or more, and entertainments of one kind and another would be given by those residents there. The Oaks, The Laurels, Fairview, Woodburn, Roselands, and Beechwood would have their turns. After that must come the inevitable breaking up and scattering of guests to their own homes or some summer resort, while most of the dwellers in that region would go northward in search of a cooler climate in which to pass the heated term. But it was not deemed necessary to settle it all now; only to arrange on which day each estate would be the scene of entertainment. It took a good deal of consultation, mingled with merry jests and happy laughter, to settle all that. Then there was a general leave taking and scattering to their homes-temporary or settled.

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