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Adventures and Letters

SWARTHMORE--1880.
DEAR PAPA:
I am quite on the Potomac. I with all the boys at our table were called up, there is seven
of us, before Prex. for stealing sugar-bowls and things off the table. All the youths said,
"O President, I didn't do it." When it came my turn I merely smiled gravely, and he
passed on to the last. Then he said, "The only boy that doesn't deny it is Davis. Davis,
you are excused. I wish to talk to the rest of them." That all goes to show he can be a
gentleman if he would only try. I am a natural born philosopher so I thought this idea is
too idiotic for me to converse about so I recommend silence and I also argued that to
deny you must necessarily be accused and to be accused of stealing would of course
cause me to bid Prex. good-by, so the only way was, taking these two considerations with
each other, to deny nothing but let the good-natured old duffer see how silly it was by
retaining a placid silence and so crushing his base but thoughtless behavior and
machinations.
DICK.
In the early days at home--that is, when the sun shone--we played cricket and baseball
and football in our very spacious back yard, and the programme of our sports was always
subject to Richard's change without notice. When it rained we adjourned to the third-
story front, where we played melodrama of simple plot but many thrills, and it was
always Richard who wrote the plays, produced them, and played the principal part. As I
recall these dramas of my early youth, the action was almost endless and, although the
company comprised two charming misses (at least I know that they eventually grew into
two very lovely women), there was no time wasted over anything so sentimental or futile
as love-scenes. But whatever else the play contained in the way of great scenes, there was
always a mountain pass--the mountains being composed of a chair and two tables--and
Richard was forever leading his little band over the pass while the band, wholly
indifferent as to whether the road led to honor, glory, or total annihilation, meekly
followed its leader. For some reason, probably on account of my early admiration for
Richard and being only too willing to obey his command, I was invariably cast for the
villain in these early dramas, and the end of the play always ended in a hand-to-hand
conflict between the hero and myself. As Richard, naturally, was the hero and
incidentally the stronger of the two, it can readily be imagined that the fight always ended
in my complete undoing. Strangulation was the method usually employed to finish me,
and, whatever else Richard was at that tender age, I can testify to his extraordinary ability
as a choker.
But these early days in the city were not at all the happiest days of that period in
Richard's life. He took but little interest even in the social or the athletic side of his
school life, and his failures in his studies troubled him sorely, only I fear, however,
because it troubled his mother and father. The great day of the year to us was the day our
schools closed and we started for our summer vacation. When Richard was less than a
year old my mother and father, who at the time was convalescing from a long illness, had
left Philadelphia on a search for a complete rest in the country. Their travels, which it
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