Geauga Seminary

On the way to School—Outfit—Application to the Principal—Hiring a Room—Boarding Themselves—A free-will Baptist Institution— A New Scene for James—Grammar Class—Butand And—Contest with the Teacher—A Queer System of Grammar—Fun for the Boys—Success of James at Housekeeping—Looking for Work— Bargain with a Carpenter—Works before and after School, and on Saturdays—The School Library Attractive to James—Writing Composition—First Appearance on the Stage—Reading the Life of Henry C. Wright—A Milk Diet—Paying all his Bills—The Debating Society—Foundation of his Greatness—Henry Wilson —Buxton—Canning

On the fifth day of March, the day before the school opened, James and his cousins travelled to Chester, on foot, quite heavily loaded with cooking utensils and provisions. The distance was ten miles, over roads that were poor, indeed, at that season of the year. They carried dippers, plates, a knife and fork each, a fry-pan, kettle, and other things to match, with a quantity of ham, or “bacon,” as the settlers called it. James was arrayed in the suit of clothes in which he appeared before Dr. Robinson, and the other boys were clad about ditto. No one would have charged them with pride, on their way to the “Seminary.” At this day, some faithful constable would arrest such a troupe for tramps, who had robbed a farmer’s kitchen, and were taking “leg-bail.” Nevertheless, they were three as jolly boys as Cuyahoga County could boast. Their errand was nobler and grander than that of any aspirant who was fishing for an office in the State of Ohio. Why should they not be jolly?

They proceeded directly to the house of the principal, Mr. Daniel Branch, an eccentric man, though a very respectable scholar in some departments.

“We’ve come to attend your school said James, addressing himself to Mr. Branch. “We came from Orange.”

“What’s your name?” inquired the principal.

My name is James A. Garfield; and these are my cousins (turning to the boys); their names are William and Henry Boynton.”

“Well, I’m glad to see you, boys; you might be engaged in much worse business than this. I suppose you are no richer than most of the scholars we have here.”

The last remark of Mr. Branch is good evidence that he had surveyed the new-comers from head to foot, and that the remark was prompted by their poor apparel.

“No, sir,” answered James, drily; “we are not loaded down with gold or silver, but with pots, and kettles, and provisions for housekeeping.”

“Going to board yourselves, then?” replied the teacher, by way of inquiry.

“Yes, sir; can you tell us where we can find a room?” answered James.

“Yes; near by,” answered Mr. Branch; “a good deal of that business is done here. Scores of our boys and girls would never stay here if they could not board themselves. Look here,” and stepping out from the door-way, he pointed to an old, unpainted house, twenty or thirty rods away. “You see that old house there, do you?” he said. James assented. “I think you will find a room there; an old lady, as poor as you are, lives in one part of it. You will go to her to inquire.”

“Thank you, sir, thank you,” repeated the boys, politely, as they started for the antique habitation. They found the old lady, and hired a room, for a pittance, in which there were a fireplace, three old chairs, that corresponded with the building, and two beds on the floor, or what the good woman of the house was bold enough to call beds. Here they unpacked their goods, and set up housekeeping by cooking their first meal.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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