Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/73

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BEGINNINGS IN SCIENCE AT MUGBY SCHOOL.

is one thing more difficult to explain concerning instincts than another, it is the instinct of boys' friendships.

PSM V35 D073 Scale of loach.jpg
Fig. 8. — Scale of Loach.

How Jack Hampson — big-limbed, broad-backed Jack — came to take up, the very day he arrived at Mugby, with little Willie Ransome, I can not tell. There is something in the doctrine of contrasts; doubtless Willie was as great a contrast to Jack as you would have found in the whole school — rather undersized, weakly, but nevertheless a brave and truthful boy. He was fond of books — a trifle too fond, for it would have done him good to have got away from them a little. The chief feature about Willie was his large, bright, inquiring eyes, and his altogether affectionate disposition. He took to Jack at once, and Jack to him. Never before was there a better illustration of "friendship at first sight."

PSM V35 D073 Scale of minnow.jpg
Fig. 9. — Scale of Minnow.

It was at the commencement of the spring term that the friends came to Mugby School. Without knowing it, but fortunately for them and for the whole school, a fine, enthusiastic young fellow had been appointed "science teacher." The term sounds vague, but so do all terms if too strictly analyzed. The boys dubbed him "professor," and thereby unconsciously gave him higher rank than his confréres, who were only "teachers." It would have been impossible for a young man to have been selected better fitted for such a post. Nothing gets hold of boys sooner than enthusiasm. Boys are naturally enthusiastic. There is no better proof of vitality, even in an old man, than that he continues to be enthusiastic about anything intellectual.

Willie Ransome's father was a village doctor, and it was hoped Willie would some day help his father in his increasingly larger, but not increasingly profitable, rounds. Willie entered the science class the first term. His father was a man of scientific tastes, with