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by [?]

I am quite unable to say just why we were all so fond of him, or how he came to mean so much in our lives. He was just a little boy of six, a trifle girlish in his ways, and, as a rule, I do not like effeminate boys. Moreover, he was precocious, and precocious children are almost invariably disagreeable.

Certainly he was handsome, and he carried himself with a spritelike grace and his little suit of "soldier clothes" fitted him like a sheath. But his chiefest charm lay in his eyes, big, tender, gray eyes, that used to make me think of that old song, "Thine Eyes so Blue and Tender": they were soft as the color on a dove’s breast, and they looked down into your soul’s secrets and made you remember things you had not thought of for years. Yet I do not see why we should have loved him for that: there were things in my own life I had no desire to remember, and there must have been many things in the life of the Woman Nobody Called On that she preferred to forget. And as for the Professor—oh, well! he didn’t care to remember anything at all but Sanskrit roots and the metres of difficult Greek choruses, and he grudged the space that anything else took up in his brain. I fancy, generally speaking, that none of the folk who lived in Windsor Terrace were fond of memories. People who live in terraces are not usually those who have made the most brilliant success in life.

We were not prepared to give Jack-a-Boy a very cordial welcome when his parents moved into Number 324. It put us all in an ugly humor when we saw a hobbyhorse lifted out of the moving van. Of course there would be children, we said; we might have known that. Other people’s children are one of the most objectionable features attendant upon living in terraces—and such children! We had more than enough of them already, and we resented a single addition. When he came we all eyed him sourly enough, and if looks could kill, the florist would have been sending white roses up to Number 324.

The day after Jack-a-Boy’s arrival I went up to the Professor’s room to borrow a book and found him in a great state of nervous agitation.

"More children!" he cried, throwing down his pen; "and these partitions are so thin I can hear him laughing. I suppose he will have all the other children in the street in there, romping all day long; and I am just in the middle of a chapter on Vowels of Variable Quantity. Decidedly, I shall have to move!"

My friend, the Professor, was writing a work on Greek prosody, which he believed would be invaluable to English scholars. He had been writing it ever since I had first met him, and I don’t care to say just how long ago that was. He was a thin, frail man, angular and much bent, who seemed to have put all his blood into his grammars, and to have only thousands of tiny Greek accent marks and smooth and rough breathings where the red corpuscles should be. His nerves were none of the best, and he worked through two pairs of powerful spectacles, and the strain of his labor was so heavy that I was sorry that he should be subjected to the annoyance of having a boisterous child next door.