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The Youth of Jefferson Or, a Chronicle of College Scrapes at Williamsburg, in Virginia, A.D. 1764

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On a fine May morning in the year 1764,—that is to say, between the peace at Fontainebleau and the stamp act agitation, which great events have fortunately no connection with the present narrative,—a young man mounted on an elegant horse, and covered from head to foot with lace, velvet, and embroidery, stopped before a small house in the town or city of Williamsburg, the capital of Virginia.

Negligently delivering his bridle into the hands of a diminutive negro, the young man entered the open door, ascended a flight of stairs which led to two or three small rooms above, and turning the knob, attempted to enter the room opening upon the street.

The door opened a few inches, and then was suddenly closed by a heavy body thrown against it.

"Back!" cried a careless and jovial voice, "back! base proctor—this is my castle."

"Open! open!" cried the visitor.

"Never!" replied the voice.

The visitor kicked the door, to the great damage of his Spanish shoes.

"Beware!" cried the hidden voice; "I am armed to the teeth, and rather than be captured I will die in defence of my rights—namely, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness under difficulties."

"Tom! you are mad."

"What! that voice? not the proctor's!"

"No, no," cried the visitor, kicking again; "Jacquelin's."

"Ah, ah!"

And with these ejaculations the inmate of the chamber was heard drawing back a table, then the butt of a gun sounded upon the floor, and the door opened.

The young man who had asserted his inalienable natural rights with so much fervor was scarcely twenty—at least he had not reached his majority. He was richly clad, with the exception of an old faded dressing gown, which fell gracefully like a Roman toga around his legs; and his face was full of intelligence and careless, somewhat cynical humor. The features were hard and pointed, the mouth large, the hair sandy with a tinge of red.

"Ah, my dear forlorn lover!" he cried, grasping his visitor's hand, "I thought you were that rascally proctor, and was really preparing for a hand-to-hand conflict, to the death."


"Yes, sir! could I expect anything else, from the way you turned my knob? You puzzled me."

"So I see," said his visitor; "you had your gun, and were evidently afraid."

"Afraid? Never!"

"Afraid of your shadow!"

"At least I never would have betrayed fear had I seen you!" retorted the occupant of the chamber. "You are so much in love that a fly need not be afraid of you. Poor Jacquelin! poor melancholy Jacques! a feather would knock you down."

The melancholy Jacques sat down sighing.

"The fact is, my dear fellow," he said, "I am the victim of misfortune: but who complains? I don't, especially to you, you great lubber, shut up here in your den, and with no hope or fear on earth, beyond pardon of your sins of commission at the college, and dread of the proctor's grasp! You are living a dead life, while I—ah! don't speak of it. What were you reading?"

"That deplorable Latin song. Salve your ill-humor with it!"

And he handed his visitor, by this time stretched carelessly upon a lounge, the open volume....