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CHAPTER XII. AN ARTISTIC ENGAGEMENT.
Three years at Orange passed away quickly enough, and Hiram enjoyed his time there far better than he had done even in the solitude of Bethabara Seminary. He didn't work very hard at the classics and mathematics, it must be admitted: Professor Hazen complained that his recitations in Plato were not up to the mark, and that his Cicero was seldom prepared with sufficient diligence: but though in the dead languages his work was most too bad, the Professor allowed that in English literatoor he did well, and seemed to reach out elastically with his faculties in all directions. He spent very little time over his books to be sure, but he caught the drift, appropriated the kernel, and let the rest slide. Fact was, he created his own culture. He didn't debate in the lyceum, or mix much in social gatherings of an evening (where the female stoodents entertained the gentlemen with tea, and Johnny cake, and crullers, and improving conversation), but he walked a great deal alone in the hills, and interested himself with sketching, and the pursoot of natural history. Still, he wasn't social; so much Professor Hazen was compelled by candour to admit. When the entire strength of the Eclectic Institoot went in carriages to the annual grove-meeting at Rudolph, Hiram Winthrop was usually conspicuous by his absence. The lady stoodents fully expected that a gentleman of such marked artistic and rural proclivities would on such occasions be the life and soul of the whole party: that he would burst out occasionally into a rapturous strain at the sight of an elegant bird, or a trailing vine, or a superb giant of the prim?val forest. They calculated confidently on his reciting poetry appropriate to the scene and the social occasion. But Hiram generally stopped away altogether, which operated considerable disappointment on the ladies; or if he went at all, accompanied the junior stoodents in the refreshment waggon, and scarcely contributed anything solid to the general entertainment. In short, he was a very bashful and retiring person, who didn't amalgamate spontaneously or readily with the prevalent tone of life at the Eclectic Institoot.

Nevertheless, in spite of the solitude, Hiram Winthrop liked the Institute, and often looked back afterwards upon the time he had spent there as one of the happiest portions of his life. He worked away hard in all his spare moments at drawing and painting; and some of the lady students still retain some of his works of this period, which they cherish in small gilt frames upon the parlour wall, as mementoes of their brief acquaintance with a prominent American artistic gentleman. Miss Almeda A. Stiles in particular (who followed Hiram from Betha-bara to Orange, where she graduated with him in the class of 18—) keeps even now two of his drawings in her rooms at the lyceum at Smyrna, Mo. One of them represents a large Europian bird, seated upon the bough of a tree in winter; it is obviously a copy from a drawing-master's design: the other, which is far finer and more original, is a sketch of Chattawauga Falls, before the erection of the existing sawmills and other improvements. Hiram was singularly fond of Chattawauga; but strange to say, from the very first day that the erection of the sawmills was undertaken, he refused to go near the spot, alleging no other reason for his refusal except that he regarded these useful institootions in the light of a positively wicked desecration of the work of nature. There was a general feeling at Orange that in many respects young Winthrop's sentiments and opinions were in fact painfully unAmerican.

In the holidays—no, vacation—(one mustn't apply European names to American objects), Hiram found enough to do in teaching school in remote country sections. Nay, he even managed to save a little money out of his earnings, which he put away to help him on his grand project of going to Europe—that dim, receding, but now far more historical and less romantic Europe towards which his hopes were always pointing. Audouin would gladly have sent him on his own account—Hiram knew that much well; for Audouin was comfortably rich, and he had taken a great fancy to his young protégé. But Hiram didn't want to spend his friend's money if he could possibly help it: he had the honest democratic feeling strong upon him, that he would like to go to Europe by his own earnings or not at all. So as soon as his three years at Orange were over, he determined to go to Syracuse (not the Sicilian one, but its namesake in New York State), and start in business for the time being as a draughtsman on the wood. He was drawn to this scheme by an advertisement in the 'Syracuse Daily Independent,' requiring a smart hand at drawing for a large blockengraving establishment in that city.

'My dear Hiram,' Audouin exclaimed in dismay, when his young friend told him of his project, 'you really mustn't think of it. At Syracuse, too! why, what sort of work do you conceive people would want done at Syracuse? Nothing but advertisement drawings of factories for the covers of biscuit tins, or flaring red and yellow fruits for the decoration of canned peaches.'

'Well, Mr. Audouin,' Hiram answered with a smile, 'I guess I must go in for the canned peaches, then, if nothing better offers. I've got to earn enough to take me across to Europe, one way or the other;—no, don't say that now,' for he saw Audouin trying to cut in impatiently with his ever friendly offer of assistance: 'don't say that,' and he clutched his friend's arm tightly. 'I know you would. I know you would. But I can't accept it. This thing has just got to be done in the regular way of business or not at all; and what's more, Mr. Audouin, I've just got to go and do it.'

'But, Hiram,' Audouin cried, half angrily, 'I want you to go to Europe and learn to paint splendid pictures, and make all America proud of your talent. I found you out, and I've got a sort of proprietary interest in you; and just when I expect you to begin doing something really great, you calmly propose to go to Syracuse, and draw designs for canned peaches! You ought to consider your duty to your country.'

'I'm very sorry, Mr. Audouin,' Hiram answered with his accustomed gravity, 'if I disappoint you personally; but as for the rest of America, I dare say the country'll manage to hold on a year or two longer without my pictures.'

So Hiram really went at last to Syracuse (pronounced Sirrah-kyooze), and duly applied for the place as draughtsman. The short boy who showed him in to the office went off to call one of the bosses. In a few minutes, the boss in question entered, and in a quiet American tone, with just a faint relic of some English country dialect flavouring it dimly in the background, inquired if this was the young man who had come about the drawing. 'For if so, mister,' he said with the true New Yorker ring, 'just you step right back here with me, will 'ee, a minute, and we'll settle this little bit of business right away, smart and handy.'

Hiram knew the boss in a moment, in spite of his altered voice and manner. 'Sam,' he said, taking his hand warmly (for he hadn't had so many friends in his lifetime that he had forgotten how to be grateful to any single one of them): 'Sam, don't you remember me? I'm Hiram Winthrop.'

Sam's whole voice and manner changed in a moment, from the sharp, official, Syracuse business man to something more like the old simple, easygoing, bucolic Sam Churchill, who had come out so long ago from Dorsetshire. 'Why, bless my soul, Hiram,' he exclaimed, grasping both his hands at once in an iron grip, 'so it's you, lad, is it? Well, I am glad to see you. You step right back here and let's have a look at you! Why, how you've grown, Hiram! Only don't call me Sam, too open, here; here, I'm one of the bosses, and get called Mr. Churchill. And how's the deacon, and the missus, and old Major (you don't mind old Major? he was the off-horse at the plough, always, he was). And how are you? Been to college, I reckon, by the look of you. You come right back here and tell me all about it.'

So Hiram went right back (behind the little counter in the front office), and told Sam Churchill his whole story. And Sam in return told his. It wasn't very long, but it was all prosperous. He had left, the deacon soon after Hiram went to live at Bethabara Seminary; he had come to Syracuse in search of work; had begun trying his hand as draughtsman for a wood-engraver; had gone into partnership with another young man, on his own account; had risen as fast as people in America do rise, if they have anything in them; and was now joint boss of the biggest woodcut establishment in the whole Lake Shore section of New York State. 'See here,' he cried with infinite pride to Hiram. 'Just you look at all these labels. Hemmings' Patent Blacking—nigger woman admiring her own teeth in her master's boots—that's ours. And this: Chicago General Canning Company; Prime Fruit: I did that myself. And this: Philbrick's Certain Death to Eats: good design, rather, that one, ain't it? Here's more: Potterton's Choke-cherry Cordial; Old Dr. Hezekiah Bowdler's Elixir of Winter-green; Eselmann and Schneider's Eagle Brand Best Old Bourbon Whiskey; Smoke None but Cyrus A. Walker's Original and Only Genuine Old Dominion Honeydew. That's our line of business, you see, Hiram. That's where we've got on. We've put mind into it. We've struck out a career of our own. We've determined to revolutionise the American advertisement illustration market, When we took the thing in hand, it was all red and yellow uglinesses. We've discarded crudeness and vulgarity, we have, and gone in for artistic colouring and the best sentiments. Look at Philbrick's Certain Death, for example. That's fine, now, isn't it? We've made the fortune of the Certain Death. When we took it up, advertising I mean, there wasn't a living to be got out of Philbrick's. They had a sort of comic picture of four rats, poisoned, with labels coming out of their mouths, saying they were gone coons, and so forth. Vulgar, vulgar, very. We went in for the contract, and produced the chaste and elegant design you see before you. It has succeeded, naturally,' and Sam looked across at Hiram with the serious face of profound conviction with which he was always wont to confront the expected customer, in the interests of the joint establishment.

Poor Hiram! his heart sank within him a little when he looked at the chaste and elegant design; but he had put his hand to the plough, and he would not look back: so before the end of that day Sam Churchill had definitely engaged him as chief draughtsman to his rising establishment.

That was how Hiram came to spend two years as an advertisement draughtsman at Syracuse. He didn't deny, afterwards, that those two years were about the dreariest and most, disappointing of his whole lifetime. In his spare moments, to be sure, he still went on studying as well as he was able; and on Sundays he stole away with his easel and colours to the few bits of decently pretty scenery that lie within reach of that flat and marshy mushroom city: but for the greater part of his time he was employed in designing neat and appropriate wrappers for quack medicine bottles, small illustrations for catalogues or newspaper advertisements, and huge flaring posters for mammoth circuses or variety dramatic entertainments. It was a grinding, horrible work; and though Sam Churchill did his best to make it pleasant and bearable for him, Hiram cordially detested it with all his heart. The only thing that made it any way endurable was the image of that far-off promised European journey, on which Hiram Winthrop had fixed all his earthly hopes and ambitions.

Sam often told him of Colin, for Colin had kept up a correspondence with his thriving American brother; and it was a sort of daydream with Hiram that one day or other Colin Churchill and he should go to Rome together. For Audouin's encouragement and Colin's eagerness had inspired Hiram with a like desire: and he saved and hoarded in hopes that the time would at last come when he might get rid of advertisements, and take instead to real painting. Meanwhile he contented himself with working at his art by himself, or with such little external aid as he could get in a brand-new green-and-white American city, and hoping for the future that never came but was always coming.


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