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CHAPTER XI. EDUCATIONAL ADVANTAGES.
And now, while Minna Wroe was waiting at table in Regent's Park, and while Colin Churchill was modelling sepulchral images for his Italian master, Cicolari, how was our other friend, Hiram Winthrop, employing his time beyond the millpond?

'Bethabara Seminary, at the time when Hiram Winthrop, the eminent American artist, was enrolled among its alumni' (writes one of his fellow-students), 'occupied a plain but substantially built brick structure, commodiously located in the very centre of a large cornfield, near the summit of a considerable eminence in Madison County, N.Y. It had been in operation close on three years when young Winthrop matriculated there. He secured quarters in a room with four fellow-students, each of whom brought his own dipper, plate, knife, fork, and other essential requisites. Mr. Winthrop was always of a solitary, retiring character, without much command of language, and not given to attending the Debating Forum or other public institutions of our academy. Nor was he fond of the society of the lady students, though one or two of them, and notably the talented Miss Aimed A. Stiles, now a prominent teacher in a lyceum at Smyrna, Mo., early detected his remarkable gifts for pictorial art, and continually importuned him to take their portraits, no doubt designing them for keepsakes to be given to the more popular male students. Young Winthrop always repelled such advances: indeed, he was generally considered in the light of a boorish rustic; and his singular aversion towards the Hopkinsite connection (in which he had nevertheless been raised by that excellent man, his father, late Deacon Zephaniah Winthrop, of Muddy Creek, N.Y.) caused him to be somewhat disliked among his college companions. His chief amusement was to retire into the surrounding country, oddly choosing for the purpose the parts remotest from the roads and houses, and there sketch the animated creation which seemed always to possess a greater interest for his mind than the persons or conversation of his fellow-citizens. He had, indeed, as facts subsequently demonstrated, the isolation of a superior individual. Winthrop remained at Bethabara, so far as my memory serves me, for two years only.'

Indeed, the Hopkinsite Seminary was not exactly the sort of place fitted to suit the peculiar tastes of Hiram Winthrop. The boys and girls from the farms around had hardly more sympathy with him than the deacon himself. Yet, on the whole, in spite of the drawbacks of his surroundings, Athens was a perfect paradise to poor Hiram. This is a universe of relativities: and compared with life on the farm at Muddy Creek, life at Bethabara Seminary was absolute freedom and pure enjoyment to the solitary little artist. Here, as soon as recitation was over, he could wander out into the woods alone (after he had shaken off the attentions of the too sequacious Almeda), whenever he liked, no man hindering. The country around was wooded in places, and the scenery, like all that in Madison County, was beautifully undulating. Five miles along the leafy highroad brought him to the banks of Cananagua Lake, one of those immeasurable lovely sheets of water that stud the surface of Western New York for miles together; and there Hiram would sit down by the shore, and watch the great divers disappearing suddenly beneath the surface, and make little pictures of the grey squirrels and the soldier-birds on the margin of Cyrus Choke's 'Elements of the Latin Language,' which he had brought out with him, presumably for purposes of preparation against to-morrow's class-work. But best of all there was a drawing-master at Athens, and from him, by Audouin's special arrangement, the boy took lessons twice a week in perspective and the other technical matters of his art—for, as to native ability, Hiram was really far better fitted to teach the teacher. Not a very great artist, that struggling German drawing-master at Athens, with his formal little directions of how to go jig-jig for a pine-tree, and to-whee, whee, whee, for an oak; not a very great artist, to be sure; but still, a grand relief for Hiram to discover that there were people in the world who really cared about these foolish things, and didn't utterly despise them though they were so irrelevant to the truly important questions of raising corn, and pork, and potatoes.

The great joy and delight of the term, however, was Audouin's periodical visit to his little protégé. Audouin at least was determined to let Hiram's individuality have fair play. He regarded him as a brand plucked from the burning of that corn-growing civilisation which he so cordially detested; and he had made up his own mind, rightly or wrongly, that Hiram had genius, and that that genius must be allowed freely to develop itself. Hiram loved these quarterly visits better than anything else in the whole world, because Audouin was the one person he had met in his entire life (except Sam Churchill) who could really sympathise with him.

Two years after Hiram Winthrop went to Bethabara, Audouin wrote to ask whether he would come and spend a week or two at Lakeside during the winter vacation. Hiram cried when he read the letter; so much pleasure seemed almost beyond the possibilities of this world, and the deacon would surely never consent; but to his great surprise, the deacon wrote back gruffly, yes; and as soon as term was finished, Hiram gladly took the cars on the New York Central down to Nine Mile Bottom, the depot for Lakeside. Audouin was waiting to meet him at the depot, in a neat little sleigh; and they drove away gaily to the jingling music of the bells, in the direction of Audouin's cottage.

'A severe artist, winter,' Audouin said, glancing around him quickly over the frozen fields. 'No longer the canvas and the colours, but the pure white marble and the flowing chisel. How the contours of the country soften with the snow, Hiram; what a divine cloak the winter clouds spread kindly over the havoc man has wrought upon this desecrated landscape! It was beautiful, once, I believe, in its native woodland beauty; and it's beautiful even now when the white pall comes down, so, to screen and cover its artificial nakedness. The true curse of Ham (and worse) is upon us here; we have laughed at the shame of our mother earth.'

Hiram hardly understood him—he seldom quite understood his friend—but he answered, with a keen glance over the white snow, 'I love the winter, Mr. Audouin; but I apprehend I like the summer an' autumn best. You should jest have seen the crimson and gold on Cananagua Lake last fall; oh, my, the colours on the trees! nobody could ever have painted 'em. I took out my paints an' tried, but I wasn't anywhere like it, I can tell you; Mr. Mooller, he said he didn't b'lieve Claude or Turner could ever have painted a bit of Amurrican fall scenery.'

'Mr. Müller isn't a conclusive authority,' Audouin answered gravely, removing his cigar as he spoke; 'but on this occasion I surmise, Hiram, he was probably not far from a correct opinion. Still, Mr. Müller won't do for you any longer. The fact is, Hiram, sooner or later you must go to Europe. There's no teaching here good enough for you. I've made up my mind that you must go to Europe. Whether the deacon likes it or not, you've got to go, and we must manage one way or another.'

To Europe! Hiram's brain reeled round at the glorious, impossible notion. To Europe! Why, that was the wonderful romantic country where Tom Jones ran away with Amelia, where Mr. Tracy Tupman rode to Ipswich on top of the mail-coach, where Moses bought the gross of green spectacles from the plausible vagabond at the country fair. Europe! There were kings and princes in Europe; and cathedrals and castles; and bishops and soldiers; ay, he could almost believe, too, there were giants, ogres, ghosts, and fairies. In Europe, Sam Wellers waited at the wayside inns; mysterious horsemen issued darkling from arched castle gates; Jews cut pounds of flesh, Abyssinian fashion, from the living breasts of Venetian shipowners; and itinerant showmen wandered about with Earley's waxworks across a country haunted by masked highwaymen and red-coated squires, who beat you half to death for not telling them immediately which way the hare ran. As such a phantasmagoria of incongruous scenes did the mother continent of the American race present itself in some swimming panorama to Hiram's excited brain. It was almost as though Aladdin and the oneeyed calender had suddenly appeared to him in the familiar woods of Geauga County, and invited him forthwith to take the cars for Bagdad at the urgent personal request of the good Caliph Haroun al Raschid.

The boy held his breath hard, and answered in his self-restrained American manner, 'To Europe, Mr. Audouin! Well, I guess I should appreciate that, consid'able.'

'Yes, Hiram,' Audouin went on, 'I've made my mind up to that. Sooner or later you must go to Europe. But not just at once, my boy. Not till you're about nineteen, I should say; it wouldn't do you so much good till then. Meanwhile, we must put you to some other school. Bethabara has done its little best for you: you must go elsewhere, meanwhile. I mean that you shall go to some one of the eastern colleges, Yale if possible.'

'But what about father?' Hiram asked.

'Your father must be made to do as I tell him. Look here, Hiram, the fact is this. You're a boy whose individuality must be developed. The deacon mustn't be allowed to prevent it. I've taken you in hand, and I mean to see you through it. Look yonder, my boy, at the edge of the ice there on the creek; look at the musquash sitting in the sun on the brink of the open water eating a clam, and the clamshells he has left strewed along the shore and beach behind him. See him drop in again and bring up another clam, and stride sleek and shining from the water on to his little cliff of ice again. You and I know that that sight is beautiful. You and I know that it's the only thing on earth worth living for—that power of seeing the beautiful in art and nature—but how many people do you suppose there are in all America that would ever notice it? What percentage, Hiram, of our great, free, intelligent, democratic people, that sing their own praises daily with so shrill a voice in their ten thousand “Heralds,” and “Tribunes,” and “Courants,” and “Mirrors “? How small a percentage, Hiram; how small a percentage!'

The boy coloured up crimson to the very roots of his shaggy hair. It was such a very new point of view to him. He had always known that he cared for these things towards which all other boys and men were mere dull materialistic Gallios; but it had never before occurred to him that his doing so was any mark of a mental superiority on his part. Father had he thought that it betokened some weakness or foolishness of his own nature, for he wasn't like other boys; and not to be like other boys is treated so much as a crime in junior circles that it almost seems like a crime at last even to the culprit himself in person. So Hiram coloured up with the shame of a first discovery of his own better-ness, and merely answered in the same quiet self-restrained fashion, 'I apprehend, Mr. Audouin, there ain't many folks who pay much attention to the pecooliarities of the common American musk-rat.'

All the rest of the way home, Audouin plied the boy with such subtle flattery—not meant as flattery, indeed, for Audouin was incapable of guile; if he erred, it was on the side of too outspoken truthfulness: yet, in effect, his habit of speaking always as though he and Hiram formed a class apart was really flattery of the deepest sort to the boy's nature. At last they drew up at a neat wooden cottage in a small snow-covered glen, where the circling amphitheatre of spruce pines opened out into a long sloping vista in front, and the frozen arm of the great lake spread its limitless ice sheet beyond, away over in weird perspective toward the low unseen Canadian shore. The boy uttered a little sharp cry of delight at the exquisite prospect. Audouin noticed it with pleasure. 'Well, Hiram,' he said, 'here we are at last at my lodge in the wilderness.'

'I never saw anything in all my life,' the boy answered truthfully, 'one-thousandth part so beautiful.'

Audouin was pleased at the genuine tone of the compliment. 'Yes, Hiram,' he said, looking with a complacent smile down the pine-clad glen toward the frozen lake, 'it certainly does help to wash out Broadway.'

Hiram's three weeks at Lakeside Cottage were indeed three weeks of unalloyed delight to his eager, intelligent nature. There were books there, books of the most delicious sort; Birds of America with coloured plates; Flora of New York State with endless figures; poems, novels, histories—Prescott's 'Peru,' and Macaulay's 'England.' There were works about the Indians, too; works written by men who actually took a personal interest in calumets and tomahawks. There were pictures, books full of them; pictures by great painters, well engraved; pictures, the meaning of which Audouin explained to him carefully, pointing out the peculiarities of style in each, so far as the engravings could reproduce them. Above all, there was Audouin's own conversation, morning, noon and night, as well as his friend the Professor's, who was once more staying with him on a visit. That was Hiram's first extended glimpse of what a cultivated and refined life could be made like, apart from the sordid, squalid necessities of raising pork and beans and Johnny cake.

Best of all, before Hiram left Lakeside, Audouin had driven him over to the Deacon's in his neat little sleigh, and had seriously discussed the question of his further education. And the result of that interview was that Hiram was to return no more to Bethabara, but (being now nearly sixteen) was to go instead to the Eclectic Institute at Orange. It was with great difficulty that this final step was conquered, but conquered it was at last, mainly by Audouin's masterful persistence.

''Tain't convenient for me, mister,' the deacon said snappishly, 'to go on any longer without the services of that thar boy. I want him to home to help with the farm work. He's progressing towards citizenship now, an' I've invested quite a lot of capital in his raisin', an' it's time I was beginnin' to see some return upon it.'

'Quite true and very natural,' Audouin answered with his diplomatic quickness. 'Still, you must consider the boy's future. He won't cost you much, deacon. He's a smart lad, and he can help himself a great deal in the off seasons. There's a great call for school-teachers in the winter, and college students are much sought after.'

'What might be the annual expense to an economical student?' asked the deacon dubiously.

'A hundred dollars a year,' Audouin replied boldly. He murmured to himself that whatever the difference might be between this modest estimate and the actual truth, he would pay it out of his own pocket.

The deacon gave way grudgingly at last, and to the end neither he nor Hiram ever knew that Hiram's three years at the Eclectic Institute cost his unsuspected benefactor some two hundred dollars annually.


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