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24 CHAPTER V. A young man in a perplexing predicament; some philosophy about the same; Nathaniel and his dog; I behold a young lady, under circumstances that try her temper. could i stand it? Would it not turn my young blood into something of a molasses article—something to be gauged and weighed, involving tare and tret, and the sage confabulations of those solid, bald-headed, respectable old gentlemen, with pencils in one hand, and little blank books in the other? Could such an eternal procession of chapter ones, title twos, and section threes, have any other result than to make my brain revolve like this earth, on its own axis? Would it not be better to settle the difficulty with courage, by calling a council of Ephraim Foster, Violet and Covert, and frankly telling them that I found I was neither fitted for the study of the law, nor the study of the law for me; and kindly but resolutely declare my determination to go no further? I had been five weeks a student, in Covert’s office, and the preceding reflections were the result. 25 At my age—I have before mentioned that I was just past twenty—a young man of intelligence and health, wants something to engross him—some real object, for his vitality , his feelings, his almost boundless moral and physical spring. It is indefinite what it should be; some find that object in the gratification of an eager desire to go to sea, to visit different places, or other methods of mere change of locality. Some get it in the pursuit of a particular aim, on which they have set their hearts; these aims are as various as mankind, only the pursuit must not be shut out to them. With me, this craving could never be satisfied with the study of law. That was becoming more and more repugnant to me. I had not yet tasted very deeply, it is true, but it was quite enough. I felt one of those strong presentiments that I could not be happy in that way—one of those instincts which, without arguing much on the subject, it is generally wise to follow. But then my good father—the man who had saved me from ruin—who had overwhelmed me with obligations— who even now supplied me more liberally with pocket money, than many rich men do their sons—and whose heart was firmly set on this very thing! One time lately, in a manner which would admit the inference of either joke or earnest, I had ventured a few words, for an experiment, to see how Ephraim would look on any such move as turning a short corner in my studentship . His countenance fell, and he winced like a fellow under a shower bath. 26 Could I so thoroughly displease this man, in almost the only serious point where he had demanded from me a compliancewithhiswill?Allowingthatitwereapenanceto me, ought I not to submit, even for his sake, if for no other? Andwouldnottimechangemyaversion,andperhapsmake me ashamed of my childish prejudices and weakness? Such debates and contradictions worried me exceedingly ; causing my commencement in Covert’s office, and the following few weeks, to make a real blotch in my usually happy fortunes. And after all I came to no decision. I waded on through the slough of Chapters, titles and sections, as before; and began, I fancied, to look pale and thin, as indeed became a professional personage. Not but that the dryness and cloudiness of my occupation were often relieved by gleams of warmth, interest or fun. It was impossible not to be amused with Master Nat, and nearly all his sayings and doings, including his attachment to, and the tricks he taught, his big, docile dog Jack, whose capers, sagacity, and even his expressive look, and long yellow wool, were the delight of the boy’s life. Never was brute more thought of than Jack, by Nathaniel; and he returned his master’s friendship in kind. Jack, indeed, was very free in his demonstrations. This was exhibited one afternoon, when he and Nathaniel returned from dinner. In the office, by the table, stood a lady, while at his desk in the next room Mr. Covert held serious talk with Pepperich Ferris, a stock and financial speculator, who frequently came there on business. 27 The lady, who was young yet, although old enough to have cut her wisdom teeth, appeared to be waiting for Ferris . She had the...


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