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David's favorite method of going home however was to give no warning of his approach, but to take the noon-train, reaching the house in Roxbury after midnight, steal through the cellar-door, all a-prickle with excitement, and lie perdu in the darkness till morning, when he would come up into the house, swear secrecy on any servant that might happen in sight, hide in the closet, in a fever lest somebody should open the door and discover him, till the family were seated at breakfast, when he would burst forth to the astonishment of all, and his own extreme delight.
SOPHOMORE year showed David in much the same light as the last two terms of Freshman year; his character gained in stability and the ruling purpose held, but the growth of his mind was slow and marked by few noticeable efforts. Life at Williamstown does not present many salient points apart from those already intimated. The town is so insignificant that it supplies very little to interest the student. His return to college, at the beginning of a new term, brings him once more into the routine of college-life, and so he continues until released by another vacation. Indeed, everything about the return to Williams, with a city boy at least, seems to remind him of his separation from the busy world. He arrives at the railway terminus, hilarious over the comrades he has met on the way, and mounts again the rocking stage-coach which travels the road winding among the hills into the secluded valley. For a day or two there is the bustle of settling down, and then all goes on as before. He passes his days very much alike, varying the course of study with sallies in the literary societies, and for recreation joins in the college-games, or tramps, rides, and drives about the country. Every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon one may find students scattered over the neighborhood, seeking the Sand-Springs which bubble up a mile or two from the town, - mineral springs of the same temperature the year round, and confined in tanks for bathers; or the Weeping Rocks on the Pownal Road; the Natural Bridge near Adams; the Cascade, and all the many curious spots. Most however walk for the pleasure of it and for the mountain-views; or, likely enough, are incipient naturalists, with tin trunks slung at the side for botanizing, or maybe with long butterfly nets which they flourish about in a frantic fashion, while sportsmen with guns and rods disappear in the woods.
Everything in fact that the student wants for occupation he has to find close at hand; the nearest town amusements are twenty miles off, and are hardly attractive enough then to draw many. Such circumstances serve to crowd the students together, and fierce little revolutions are excited, so that generally every class has suffered in its course some violent rupture. The younger members of college, transported from a society in which they were minors to one where they enjoy the rights of citizenship, are greatly elated with their new consequence, and prate of college as if it were the central sun in the social system.
“They take the rustic murmur of their bourg
For the great wave that echoes round the world.” The world itself comes to them once a day by the help of the stage-driver, who enters at night, galloping his horses through the village, and blowing his horn to call the students to the little post-office. For the quiet pleasures of student-life the place is wonderfully fit. In those days there was a barbarous custom of holding morning prayers before sunrise sometimes; but after all there was, to those who were not too sleepy, an exhilaration in this early summons to labor, and an inspiration to be drawn from the clear morning air. More than once has the crowd of students, filing out of the chapel, stood still instinctively to look off upon some sunrise when the eastern sky hung in gorgeous show over the long mountain.
In such a life as this did David rejoice. He had no restless discontent luring him away to forbidden pleasures and more showy entertainments than this valley and its circle of hills could afford. He loved his friends, and after the first, each new year brought one of his brothers, with whom he could share his pleasant life. As for study, his new convictions of duty forbade him ever to be negligent, but his immaturity of mind prevented him from a full comprehension of the studies in the college course; so that, while his scholarship was always respectable and his faithfulness unimpeached, he fell just below the “honor men” of the class. He was a quick student and had received a schooling in the classics more thorough than had most of the country boys who formed the majority of his class. One accomplishment especially he possessed, upon which he plumed himself a good deal, the art of scanning Latin and Greek verse fluently and correctly. His native glibness of tongue and his liking for rattle conspired to give him a fondness for the art; and the class would listen with amusement, sometimes with applause, when as, at the given signal, he would stand in his place and let slip from his tongue the Homeric hexameters. Mathematics he found as ever a sore burden, but a sense of deficiency led him to make an effort at mastering the difficulties of a science so alien from his mental cast; and after he had been a year in college, he took up
arithmetic with a fellow-student, resolutely going back to elementary knowledge.
Composition and all logical processes were still formidable, though his persistent efforts and his general growth robbed them of some terror. One plan for acquiring a habit of thought was certainly straightforward enough, and showed him in earnest. Getting up a half-hour earlier than even the very early prayertime required, it was his custom to pace the hall upon which his room abutted for the express purpose of thinking. He would take some subject which lie was expecting to use in composition ; I believe “ Independence must have limits" attended some of his pacings; or the last debate in the society hall, or some topic which had been suggested in conversation or reading, and for the half-nour conscientiously, as well as his poor, untutored head would allow, discuss the matter with himself, arguing back and forth as he walked, very much relieved, no doubt, when the prayer-bell released him.
The course of study for Sophomore year presented little difficulty to him except in these points, and he fell under the influence of the prevalent mood among Sophomores, catching a little of the indifferentism and self-conceit which marks that stage of a student's career. He even so far fell into a comfortable and complacent mood as to congratulate himself upon being popular, and to take some pains to increase the goodwill of his comrades. His letters were somewhat bombastic and wordy, and he assumed a sort of consequential air which ill became him. Yet this was after all exceptional; he caught the way from others; his own rightful nature asserted itself more strongly, and