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Jo's Boys

Chapter 18: Class Day
The clerk of the weather evidently has a regard for young people, and sends
sunshine for class days as often as he can. An especially lovely one shone over
Plumfield as this interesting anniversary came round, bringing the usual
accompaniments of roses, strawberries, white-gowned girls, beaming youths,
proud friends, and stately dignitaries full of well-earned satisfaction with the
yearly harvest. As Laurence College was a mixed one, the presence of young
women as students gave to the occasion a grace and animation entirely wanting
where the picturesque half of creation appear merely as spectators. The hands
that turned the pages of wise books also possessed the skill to decorate the hall
with flowers; eyes tired with study shone with hospitable warmth on the
assembling guests; and under the white muslins beat hearts as full of ambition,
hope, and courage as those agitating the broadcloth of the ruling sex.
College Hill, Parnassus, and old Plum swarmed with cheery faces, as guests,
students, and professors hurried to and fro in the pleasant excitement of arriving
and receiving. Everyone was welcomed cordially, whether he rolled up in a fine
carriage, or trudged afoot to see the good son or daughter come to honour on the
happy day that rewarded many a mutual sacrifice. Mr Laurie and his wife were on
the reception committee, and their lovely house was overflowing. Mrs Meg, with
Daisy and Jo as aides, was in demand among the girls, helping on belated
toilettes, giving an eye to spreads, and directing the decorations. Mrs Jo had her
hands full as President's lady, and the mother of Ted; for it took all the power and
skill of that energetic woman to get her son into his Sunday best.
Not that he objected to be well arrayed; far from it; he adored good clothes, and
owing to his great height already revelled in a dress-suit, bequeathed him by a
dandy friend. The effect was very funny; but he would wear it in spite of the jeers
of his mates, and sighed vainly for a beaver, because his stern parent drew the
line there. He pleaded that English lads of ten wore them and were 'no end
nobby'; but his mother only answered, with a consoling pat of the yellow mane:
'My child, you are absurd enough now; if I let you add a tall hat, Plumfield
wouldn't hold either of us, such would be the scorn and derision of all beholders.
Content yourself with looking like the ghost of a waiter, and don't ask for the most
ridiculous head-gear in the known world.'
Denied this noble badge of manhood, Ted soothed his wounded soul by
appearing in collars of an amazing height and stiffness, and ties which were the
wonder of all female eyes. This freak was a sort of vengeance on his hard-
hearted mother; for the collars drove the laundress to despair, never being just
right, and the ties required such art in the tying that three women sometimes
laboured long before--like Beau Brummel--he turned from a heap of 'failures' with
the welcome words: 'That will do.' Rob was devoted on these trying occasions,
his own toilet being distinguished only by its speed, simplicity, and neatness. Ted
was usually in a frenzy before he was suited, and roars, whistles, commands,
and groans were heard from the den wherein the Lion raged and the Lamb
patiently toiled. Mrs Jo bore it till boots were hurled and a rain of hair-brushes set