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THE LATE SIR CASPAR PURDON CLARKE, FORMERLY DIRECTOR OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK
(EXAMPLES OF AMERICAN PORTRAITURE-XXII)
Yuked wistfully up the long path of YOUNG
Hearne, a Peri at the gate,
looked wistfully up the long path of the West Point hotel to its piazza blossoming with laughing, chattering girls. Each gray-coated, white-trousered, bellbuttoned figure that turned in at its forbidden portals stopped short at sight of him to fall in limp incredulity upon the nearest support.
"It is n't possible that the mere lack of a permit can deter our His'n"-for Hearne's plebe days had early substituted. this more manly epithet for his own effeminate surname. "How are the mighty fallen!"
Hearne answered them all with the pleasant grin which had helped to make him the most popular man in the corps. "Only six demerits left between me and graduation, my friends," he informed them. "My proud spirit is broken. Though even if I should go over the limit," he would add gaily enough, "my studies would save me, of course."
They chuckled at this again, but always
with an affectionate anxiety and regret in their laughter which Hearne felt and winced under. It seemed to bring nearer that dark cloud which hung so perilously close to him these days.
It rolled away for the time, however, when he saw Faith Ellery coming toward him, and his spirits rose buoyantly to meet the June radiance about them as he piloted her tenderly down the rocky path opening into "Flirtation Walk." When it is summer at West Point, when you have just reached twenty-one, and are engaged to the loveliest girl in the world, and when you mean to kiss her as soon as you round that kindly clump of evergreens, it is hard to believe the universe is not all it should be.
Hearne did not carry out that interesting intention, however, at the spot he had first designated. An uncomfortable memory of certain tender passages at Easter with a black-eyed girl from Vassar came ruthlessly between him and the sweet face at his side. He looked down at it remorse
fully, telling himself for the hundredth time the lover's refrain of unworthiness. How many truancies that class ring had played before it had come home to that small finger! The four careless years of light-hearted love-making, when he had helped sustain the reputation of the bellbuttons for gallantry and had joyously swelled the chorus of sweet nothings which had echoed through Flirtation's romantic paths for a hundred years, rose a relentless witness before the candid innocence of this girl's eyes and the grave purity of her young brow. It was before that that Hearne's heart prostrated itself in deepest adoration-something quite apart from the length of her lashes and the sun in her hair. She looked up quickly at his unconscious sigh.
"Those examinations?" she queried anxiously, and he nodded in gloomy re
"I'm 'boning' like mad for them," he informed her in the peculiar vernacular of the Point, "but what with extra drillsand thinking of you every second-I have so little time. And what I don't know!" he broke off with an eloquent groan. "I think I can skin through all right in everything but that vile engineering, but I'm afraid I'm going to 'fess' in that."
"Engineering!" Faith ejaculated. "Why, is n't that what Cousin Edward teaches?" "It surely is. And I very much fear your estimable relative is going to 'find me' on it-fire me- flunk me," he hunted hopelessly for more classic synonyms to explain the cadet dialect.
"But if he knew we were engaged!" Faith cried excitedly. "Of course they know I like you and they tease me about you," she confessed with adorable shyness, -"but if he knew what it meant to me -he's very fond of me-he never could spoil our happiness so."
"Oh, he's a good soldier," Hearne admitted grudgingly. "Of course I can't have much respect for any man who would teach such stuff, but he 'd do his duty, I'll say that for him. If he knew we were engaged, naturally he 'd have to mark me all the more exactingly." He went on to elucidate his point more clearly to the bewildered eyes Faith lifted to him. "He'd be in something of the same fix that the Worm was in two years ago- the fellow I room with," he interpreted. "They call
him the Worm because he wriggles so when there are any 'fems' around-he has n't any use for them. I was as near a stayback at furlough then as I am to not graduating now, and the whole class. was trying to keep me out of scrapes so I would n't have to miss the class supper in New York. I'd gotten up to the day. before we left with two demerits left to my credit, when, as luck would have it, a 'cit' I knew at home passed through here. I took him into my tent, with me without a permit-I did n't think I never do," poor Hearne confessed sadly the key to his actions at the Point. "It would have been all right if the Worm, who was Officer of the Day, had n't been inspecting just at that time. The O.D. is under oath to report everything he sees, but of course he hates to tell on his friends and he does his best for them by keeping his eyes on the ground all the time. The Worm would never have seen a thing if just as he passed my tent I had n't toppled over my chair with a crash, and of course he looked up involuntarily-any one would have to, you know-saw the 'cit,' reported me,and I loitered on for three days in this beloved spot admiring the scenery after the class left."
"Oh, how horrid of him," cried Miss Ellery, with as much violence as her gentleness could muster.
"He could n't help it," Hearne answered blankly. "He had to do it-he could n't break his word. He felt worse than I did about it-gave up the class supper and stayed here with me, like the brick he is. It was a point of honor, you see, his reporting me."
They had left the narrow windings of the sun-flecked path and were seated in one of the many poetic nooks for which Flirtation is justly famous. Behind them stretched a lover's labyrinth of green and gold; below them the river flowed with a bored calmness; long years of chaperonage had inured it so that the wildest ecstasies of love failed to cause its silver surface a ripple of excitement. Faith leaned against a moss-grown rock watching it, while her lover lounged stiffly beside her in tender deference to that crease in his spotless duck trousers which is the joy and pride of every true West Pointer's heart. After some profitable discussion upon matters purely personal and vastly
important-the effect of Faith's golden head against the gray-green rock-the exact moment they had discovered that they cared, young Hearne harked back to the gnawing tenor of his thoughts. "About those examinations, the Worm and I have worked out a system, and I'm staking everything upon it-I 've wasted my time so I can't possibly get the principles of the stuff now-all I can do is to learn some stock problems and pray Heaven they'll ask me those. There's one about wasteweirs that Granny Ellery-I beg your pardon, dear, I forgot-is nutty about and always gives. I'm going to learn that backward and forward. Of course it would be just like the old gazoo," said Hearne with another uncousinly lapse, "to take a perverse streak and not give it this one year, but if he does, I 'll surely 'make a cold max' on that problem, and that ought to count a lot.
"In a way it seems hardly fair"-he knit his boyish brows anxiously-"because I don't know enough to pass. But I figure it out it's a good deal like the O.D.'s keeping his eyes on the ground, and it's all right for me to take that forlorn hope. I'd make Uncle Sam a good officer if I don't know much engineering,-my father's son could n't help that," Hearne added proudly. "And the odds are all against me. Goodness knows!" He leaned his dark head against his clenched fists. "Good Lord, what a fool I 've been," he groaned.
Faith stretched out a small, comforting hand. "It can't make any difference to me, Gordon," she told him tenderly. "I'll love you just the same if you don't pass."
"But it will have to make all the difference in the world, dearest," answered the boy, despairingly. "Don't you see, if I can't graduate, I can't be an officer, and it's me for baling boxes or sweeping an office in the cold world. Heaven knows I'd have nerve enough asking your father to let you marry a second lieutenant, but at least we could starve respectably on that pay, and the other way we 'd have to wait at least two or three years before I'd have anything."
army," Gordon went on, "and as poor as Job's turkey, of course. They could n't help me any. I would n't let them if they could after I 've failed them this way." He winced under some pursuing, torturing thought. "When I think of my father," began Gordon huskily and turned and stared for a moment up the sun-kissed river.
"If I 'd only known you a little sooner," he told Faith. "When I began to love you-just those few weeks ago-I seemed suddenly to wake up for the first time. I've gone sliding through each year by the skin of my teeth here at the Pointgetting all the fun and doing as little work as I could. I was perfectly content being the goat of the class-I knew the fellows all liked me and that seemed to me the principal thing-and I never dreamed there was danger of my really getting dropped until they told me my passing would depend on these exams, and I began to realize what a mighty slim chance I stood of getting through them. I'm just beginning to see what a selfish beast I've been all along. Why, my army career means everything to my father! He's been looking forward all my life to the time when I'd be in his regiment. He and the mater have been saving up for three years now to come on to my graduation-and you don't know what it means to save anything on a captain's pay-and at the last minute they had to send the money to help a busted relative out West. It's a merciful thing they 're spared the shame of seeing me perhaps kicked out. And you, Faith," he turned to the girl remorsefully, "if I do pass, do you realize they 're the goat shoulder straps of the class I'll be laying at your feet, dear?"
"I don't care," cried the girl in a fervor of loyalty. She looked up into the handsome, troubled face above her with adoring eyes. "And you will pass, Gordon," she added with a solemn faith which transfigured her in her lover's eyes. "I know God will help you. I pray Him to every day."
Hearne kept these words of hers, and that last memory of her rapt young face, as a beacon light of inspiration in the two They stared at each other mutely, both black days before the examination. He their young faces gone quite white at the prayed himself, too, in the depths of his mere thought of such a tragedy. despair, with a helpless, half-shamed boy"You know my people are all in the ish pleading to escape the fate his folly had