What a time there is when they arrive, the boys and girls tumbling and leaping out and flying up the steps, to be met with warm embraces or genial welcomes; the elders coming more sedately, to be received with earnest handclasps and cordial greetings, Never was there a happier man than the old major when he saw his house filled with guests, and bade the strangers welcome with a dignified, but earnest, courtesy.
He was full of plans in those days for the education of his boy, and the thought of the youngster played a large part in the series of complicated emotional crises with which he celebrated the departure of his wife, crises in which a number of old school and college friends very generously assisted spending weekends at Seagate for this purpose, and mingling tobacco, impassioned handclasps and suchlike consolation with much patient sympathetic listening to his carefully balanced analysis of his feelings.
And so the very last kisses and handclasps exchanged, the travellers climbed down into a boat already deep in the water with other cuddy-passengers and their luggage, and were rowed out to where lay that good clipper-ship, the RED JACKET. Sitting side by side husband and wife watched, with feelings that had little in common, the receding quay, Mary fluttering her damp handkerchief till the separate figures had merged in one dark mass, and even Tilly, planted in front, her handkerchief tied flagwise to the top of Jerry's cane, could no longer be distinguished from the rest.
They all had their backs to us, and there was to me something dissimilarly familiar about three of those backs. While I was trying to analyse it one of the gentlemen turned, and caught sight of poppa. In another instant the highest elevation yet made by engineering skill was the scene of three impetuous American handclasps, and four impulsive American voices were saying, "Why how do you do!"
"Oh, I am so thankful that you got yours!" They exchanged excited handclasps of mutual congratulation. Then he said: "Shiela, you dear generous girl, I don't believe I hit anything, but I'll bet that you got a turkey with each barrel!" "Foolish boy! Of course you grassed your bird! It wasn't a wing shot, but we took what fate sent us. Nobody can choose conditions on the firing line.
Kisses and sighs, last looks, final handclasps, and then George in the sunshine of the square, with Mab waving her handkerchief from the open casement. But, alas! workaday prose always succeeds Arcadian rhyme, and with the sinking sun dies the glory of the day.
"Let's have the benefit of that to spice our little celebration, now and here!" He started for the window to open it, but General Waymouth put out his hand and checked him. He had stood up to receive their handclasps. "One moment, Senator," he entreated. "I have a word to say for myself now. You have just come from Room 40. Have they finished drafting the platform?"
That ponderous leather book was read many times and thoroughly in after years, and it became the foundation of such a library as was not often met with in the colonies. Job gave the lad an understanding smile and a pat on the back, for Jeremy had told him of his passion for an education. The four grown men drank each other's health and separated with many hearty handclasps.
Others crowded up. They too were going NOW. Even old Murdoch tried to protest that he was as good a man as ever. It seemed to Grant that the drab everyday costumings of his staff had fallen away, and now they were heroes, they were gods! No one knew just how the meeting broke up, but Grant had a confused remembrance of many handclasps and some tears.
It is a story of the literary life in a great city, and it should be of interest to every author within a 20-mile radius of Gosport, Ind., whose desk holds a MS. story beginning thus: "While the cheers following his nomination were still ringing through the old court-house, Harwood broke away from the congratulating handclasps of his henchmen and hurried to Judge Creswell's house to find Ida."