Walter Sherwood's Probation by Horatio Alger
Chapter II. Dr. Mack Gets Some Information
The Euclid Hotel was distant about half a mile from the college buildings. It would hardly have paid expenses but for the patronage it received from the parents and friends of the students, who, especially on public occasions, were drawn to visit Euclid, and naturally put up at the hotel. Then the students, tired, perhaps, of the fare at the college commons, dropped in often and ordered a dinner. So, take it all in all, Euclid Hotel benefited largely by the presence of the college. No students, however, were permitted to board there, as it was thought by the college professors that the atmosphere of the hotel would be detrimental to college discipline and the steady habits they desired to inculcate in the young men under their care.
"I wonder," thought Doctor Mack, after supper was over, "whether I had better go round to the college and make an evening call on Walter?"
He was tempted to do so, for he was fond of his young ward and would have enjoyed seeing him. But then he wished, unobserved, to judge for himself whether Walter was making good use of his privileges, and this made it injudicious for him to disclose his presence in the college town.
He strolled out into the tavern yard, and observed a young man engaged in some light duties.
"Good evening, sir," said the young man, respectfully.
"Good evening, I suppose you are connected with the hotel?"
"Yes, sir; but I would rather be connected with the college."
"Then you have a taste for study?"
"Yes, sir. I began to prepare for college, and had made some progress in Latin and Greek, when my father died, and that put an end to my prospects."
"That was a pity. Has it destroyed your taste for study?"
"No, I spend an hour after I am through work in keeping up my Latin and Greek, but of course I make slow progress."
"Naturally. Now I have no doubt there are many students who do not appreciate their privileges as much as you do."
"I know it, sir. There are pretty lively boys in college. Have you a son there?"
"I didn't know but what you might have."
"What do you mean by lively?"
"I mean they care more to have a good time than to get on in their studies."
"What do they do?"
"Well, some of them belong to societies, and have a good time whenever they meet. Frequently they give little suppers at the hotel here, and keep it up till a late hour."
"Do the faculty know of this?"
"They may surmise something, but they don't interfere. Of course, it pays Mr. Daniels, the landlord, for he charges a good round sum, and, as there is no other place for the boys to go, they must pay it. There's going to be a supper here to-night."
"It is given by one of the sophomores, Walter Sherwood."
"What name did you mention?" asked Doctor Mack, startled.
"Walter Sherwood. Do you know him?"
"I know a family by the name of Sherwood," answered Doctor Mack, evasively. "What sort of a young man is he?"
"I don't call him a young man. He is only seventeen or eighteen--one of the youngest members of the class. He is very popular among his mates--a regular jolly boy he is."
"Does he stand well in his scholarship?"
The young man laughed.
"I don't think he troubles himself much about studies," he replied, "from all I hear; but he is pretty smart, learns easily, and manages to keep up respectably."
Doctor Mack's heart sank within him. Was this the best that could be said about his ward, the son of his old friend?
"Do you think he is dissipated?" he asked, uneasily.
"Not that I ever heard. He is fond of having a good time, and drinks wine at his suppers, but he isn't what you would call intemperate. He would do better work in college if he wasn't so rich."
"So he is rich, then?"
"He must be, for he spends a good deal of money. Pendleton, one of his classmates, told me that he spent more money than any one in the class."
"That is why he needs so many extra checks," thought the guardian soberly.
"I am sorry he doesn't make better use of his privileges," he said aloud.
"Yes, sir, it is a pity. If he didn't care so much for a good time he might stand at the head of his class--so Pendleton thinks."
"If he were a poor boy, now, you think the result would be different?" asked Doctor Mack, thoughtfully.
"Yes, sir, I have no doubt of it."
"When does the supper commence?"
"At half-past eight o'clock."
"How long will it keep up?"
"Till near midnight. The landlord makes it a point to have them close before twelve. I hope they won't disturb you, sir."
"Are they likely to make much noise?"
"Well, sir, they make speeches, and do a good deal of singing. Then, college songs are naturally noisy."
"Yes, so I hear."
"What is the number of your room?"
"Why, you are nearly opposite the room where they will have their supper. I am afraid you won't stand much chance of sleeping early."
"Oh, never mind! I shall get an idea of what a college supper is like."
"So you will. If you open the transom over your door you will have the full benefit of all that goes on."
"That will suit me very well," thought Doctor Mack.
"If you would like to be farther away, the landlord would no doubt change your room."
"Oh, no," said the doctor hastily. "It will suit me very well for once to listen to college songs and get an idea of how college boys enjoy themselves."
"A very sensible old gentleman!" thought James Holden. "Some men of his age would make a fuss."
A little before the time when the students were expected to arrive Doctor Mack shut himself up in his room, taking care to open the transom. He had ascertained from the young man, his informant, that supper had been engaged for twelve, and that the price charged per plate was two dollars and a half, all to be paid by Walter Sherwood.
"That makes thirty dollars," he reflected. "No wonder Walter writes for extra checks. I wonderin this thirty dollars is to figure as a contribution to the library?"
From his window he could see the students as they approached the hotel. Finally he caught sight of Walter, with a college friend on each sides with whom he was chatting gaily.
"What a change!" thought Doctor Mack. "It seems only yesterday that Walter started for college, a bashful, unformed boy, full of good resolutions, and determined to distinguish himself in scholarship. Now he has become a gay butterfly. And, what is worse, he has learned to deceive his old guardian, and his chief aim seems to be to have a good time. What can I do to change his course?"
The good doctor's face assumed a thoughtful look.
"I can tell better after what I shall hear to-night," he said to himself.
It was not long before the guests were all assembled and the feast was to begin.
Some one rapped for attention, and then Doctor Mack recognized the voice of his young ward.
"Gentlemen," he said, "I am glad to welcome you to this festal board. After spending ten or a dozen hours in hard study"--laughter and applause--"we find it pleasant to close our books, to relax our learned brows"--more laughter--"and show our appreciation of the good things of life. As Horace, your favorite, says"--I won't insult you by offering to translate his well-known words--"dulce est desipere in loco. That is what has brought us here to-night We want to desipere in loco."
"So we do! Good for you!" exclaimed one and another.
"I regret," Walter continued, "that all the professors have declined my urgent invitation to be present on this occasion. Professor Griggs"--the professor of mathematics--"said he would not break away from his regular diet of logarithms and radicals." Great laughter. "I have expressly requested Mr. Daniels to provide no logarithms to- night. They don't agree with my constitution."
"Nor with mine!" "Nor with mine!" echoed one and another.
"I shall expect you all, after the banquet, to do something for the general entertainment. I stipulate, however, that none of the company address us in Latin or Greek."--"We won't!" "We won't!"--"Sufficient for the recitation-room is the evil thereof. But I have spoken long enough. There are times when silence is golden, and one of those times is at hand. Brethren, the feast awaits you! Pitch in!"
The speaker took his seat, and then there was a noise of clinking glasses, and knives and forks came to the front. The banquet had begun.