Letters of
CASPAR HENRY BURTON, JR.

Edited by his brother
SPENCE BURTON, S.S.J.E.

Caspar Henry Burton, Jr.
4th Kings (Liverpool) Regt.

 

Privately Printed

1921

 

TO OUR PARENTS

 

 

CONTENTS
 
 

I. HOME (1887-1905)

I.
EARLY CHILDHOOD

II.
SCHOOL
   
 

II. HARVARD (1905-1912)

I.
COLLEGE

II.
IN BUSINESS?

III.
THE MEDICAL SCHOOL
   
 

III. THE LABRADOR (1912-1915)

I.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS

II.
THE SECOND WINTER

III.
KEEPING HIS WORD
   
 

IV. THE WAR (1915-1919)

I.
THE HECTOR MUNRO AMBULANCE CORPS,
       FLANDERS

II.
THE TOMMY,
       EPSOM, OXFORD, EDINBURGH, O.T.C. AT OXFORD

III.
THE SUBALTERN,
       PEMBROKE DOCK, FRANCE,
       HOSPITALS, READING, FERMOY

IV.
THE A.E.F.,
       LONDON, FRANCE, U.S.A.
   
 

V. HOME

I.
FOR A YEAR (1919-1920)

II.
FOREVER
 

 

ILLUSTRATIONS

 

I

HOME

1887-1905

 

I

EARLY CHILDHOOD

CASPAR HENRY BURTON, JR., was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 11, 1887, and at once began to make friends. That was his 'chief occupation throughout his life. Never was a life-work more unconsciously undertaken, more consistently pursued, or more successfully accomplished. He did it intuitively, inevitably, automatically; therefore he had no idea that he had an occupation, and so in the latter years of his life he habitually thought of himself as a failure. Because I believe in the Communion of Saints I am confident that he is going on gladdening his friends, old and new. "These are they who have come out of great tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb." "I call you no longer servants, but friends." Caspar will be glad to learn that life in eternity is on the basis he understood in time. He will enjoy the friendship of Him who said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Caspar's talent for making friends began, I suspect, before his birth. His mother and he were already good friends by the time he consented to take up an existence separate from hers. They never got much farther apart than that. He did not look like her, he did not seem like her, but he did inherit from her a restless, roving spirit, a quick wit, a keen interest in people, his talent for friendship, and a superlative ability for abandon, for "going the limit," for throwing himself overboard, for losing his life to save it. Whatever interested Caspar, in that Mother developed an absorbing interest, and when his interests changed, hers changed with his. This she did not only with Caspar, but also with Father and me. One result was, as a shrewd physician remarked, "She is on the verge of nervous prostration from trying to keep step with three grown men all with different gaits." But as Caspar replied, "She is too busy to prostrate." She kept up with him always. They never seemed to exhaust the interests they had in common. They never got talked out. I doubt if there were any limits to the subjects they discussed, but I recall to mind mostly talks about plans, people, books and religion.

Father and he were each other's "best friend." I doubt if a father and a son have ever been more intimate than they were throughout the thirty-two years of Caspar's life. He bore his father's name. Caspar sometimes thought that was rather a mistake, especially when Father unintentionally opened some of his bills! Save for that slight inconvenience (to them both) there was nothing to be said against Caspar being Caspar Henry Burton, Jr. He was that in every sense of the word. He looked like his father, and when he was little they seemed temperamentally alike. It was later that extravagant and volcanic characteristics, Spence and MacLeod family traits, began to develop in Caspar. They were all in Mother, but she had never had a good chance to let them loose, for at eighteen she had preferred to marry a Burton. That means staying put. Not being married to a Burton, but merely being partly one, Caspar did not "stay put." His letters tell that story. When he was born, however, he was a baby edition of his father. He developed the same even temper, friendly smile, gentle voice and comfortable ways that put him in a position like his father's --- above correction. No doubt that was a comfortable position for him, but it meant difficulties for those who tried to bring him up. I have an idea that Father did not need much "bringing up." I knew too well his mother's adoring love for him and her tact in dealing with us all to imagine that she had many "scenes" with her son. Also I remember a stock phrase with her servants, "I wouldn't like to bother Mr. Harry." That system of "natural development" worked well with Caspar Henry Burton, but Caspar Henry Burton, Jr., seemed to his brother to need other methods. He did not so much need bringing up as bringing down, off that comfortable plane above correction where his amiability placed him. Certainly his father never made any attempts (visible to the naked eye of an older brother) to bring him up or to bring him down. They were too good friends for any such unpleasant relationship. Nothing altered that. No matter what Caspar did throughout his life, they always remained "chums." They played endless games together, from "This Little Pig" in his cradle to bridge on his deathbed. Caspar grew up playing games with Dad; and when they were not playing golf, billiards or cards together, they were riding, shooting, fishing or talking baseball, golf or the woods. They liked to do the same things and to talk about them. Also they enjoyed just being together without saying anything. At home they were happy if they read together in the same room. In the woods, where they both preferred to be, they often spent hours together on the trail or in a canoe with very few words passing between them. They did not need to express their love in words; in fact they were both shy about doing so. I doubt if Father said anything when he first held his infant namesake in his arms. It was fitting that, during the last three hours of Caspar's life on earth, while his heart pounded itself to pieces like a ship on the rocks, he should have been almost silent in his father's arms. In their silent love for one another, culminating in that long embrace of dying, there is an echo from Calvary, "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit."

For me Caspar was, from the very first, a lightning rod to attract my persistent passion for planning. He never seemed to mind being struck by my bolts. My plans hit him, found a perfect conductor, and were dispersed into the earth without having burnt up the house or killing any one in it. That he seldom adopted my plans for him only gave me the fun of making new ones. My imagination devised countless dramatic scenes with him. Of all things he abhorred a scene and consequently avoided those I had planned. He did that even in his birth. For months I had been planning for my brother or sister. I was especially engrossed in the lining of the mahogany cradle, which had been bought for Father, with tufts of pink silk. I was only five years old then, but I had it all arranged in my own mind how I myself should lay the Baby on that pink silk. I had a little scene all planned. The Baby fooled me then, and always. My Grandmother Burton took me off that hot July morning to my uncle's place to play. Imagine my surprise to have a little girl from next door tell me, "You have a baby brother at your house." Surprise, annoyance, delight, all began at once and never subsided. For thirty-two years Caspar was always surprising me. Sometimes the surprises were pleasant, sometimes not; but life was never dull. Just as I knew he was going to be born, but was surprised by the event; so, as I travelled westward on the Eve of the Annunciation, 1920, knowing that he was dying, I was surprised by the telegram that told me he was dead. A neighbor announced the former to me and a Western Union messenger handed me the news of the latter. During the years in between he provided me with a succession of surprises, annoyances and delights. Now it seems as if the orchestra had stopped and the lights had been turned out --- an empty theatre. I have the sensation of longing to see the same performance all over again, comic and tragic parts alike. That play is not to be given again; but I continue to plan for to-morrow, when the curtain will rise, with him in a much better rôle.

Soon after his birth he began to make friends with me, or at least I liked to think so as he would grip one of my fingers. From that time on he stuck pretty close to me as to a friend, but never as to an older brother who had any authority over him. If I tried to manage him in any way he would simply howl. This was purely protest, not anger or pain, but he certainly could protest longer without stopping for breath than any child I have ever seen (or heard). I used to be ashamed of that, for I soon began to develop the now confirmed habit of boasting of my brother. That was due partly to admiration and partly to conceit. I felt that he was really part of me. So by bragging about him I was indirectly boasting about myself. So when he howled I felt ashamed for myself and blushed all up and down my back. This shame I felt acutely when he was baptized. I had boasted broadcast in the Sunday School of my brother. The christening took place at a Children's Service at Grace Church, Avondale. There I stood by the font, before all the other children, while Caspar yelled continuously. Not even our most highly paid soprano ever made as much noise in that church as Caspar did the day he was baptized. He developed other methods of protesting, but he always found "renouncing the devil and all his works" painful. Not doing things, what he called "negative virtues," cramped his style and he had little use for them. With my plans in that direction he would have little or nothing to do. As he grew older he devised a method of protest, pleasanter for himself than that of crying, but rather more annoying to me --- merely leaving with a friendly smile, but with no ear for me to talk into. He just hung up the receiver!

With my plans for doing things, "positive virtues" in his mind, he would from the first have a lot to do. If I proposed any kind of adventure, in the way of a game, a risk, or in fact any form of generosity, he would always go me one better. For instance, I proposed that he go to Newfoundland for a few months, and he stayed three years. When I saw he was determined to get into the War I hustled to have an ambulance job ready for him by the time the ice broke in the summer of 1915 and he could get away from The Labrador. He "stuck" my non-combatant job only three months and enlisted as a Tommy in infantry.

I seem to have forgotten that I entitled this section "Early Childhood," but it is impossible to make Caspar "stay put" in time or space. He made fun of Victorian biographies that began with the weather on the day of the hero's birth and proceeded with the characteristics of ancestors, the cunning sayings and cute tricks of the hero's childhood. He never had tried to write even a memoir of some one he loved.

As I said, he began making friends at his birth. I have tried to sketch the various characteristics of his friendships with Mother, Father and me. We formed the inner circle of friends waiting for him, but we were not alone. His two grandmothers were there to surround him with love and to vie with us in spoiling the jolly baby and the amusing little boy.

He was born in Grandmother Burton's house, where Father and I were born before him, and there he died. It was always home. For a few years we lived in a rented house around the corner, and there Grandmother Spence lived with us a large part of every year. When she loved, she loved extravagantly. She believed you could not do enough for any one you loved. It was with such a love she loved Caspar. He did not care to be read to very much, as I did, so he was not as much with her as I was. He usually played in the back yard just outside her window. She was usually in her room, reading, writing and praying. On her desk she kept a bottle of Pond's Extract and soft bandages. These were in almost daily use. One minute Caspar would startle her by shouting to her from the branch of a tree just opposite her window. The next minute there would be a howl and Grandma rushing downstairs and out into the yard to pick up Caspar and apply the Pond's Extract and bandages. How he ever lived thirty-two years I can't imagine! It was inevitable that he should be killed rather than die of disease. He habitually attempted things beyond the powers of his little body. It could not do the things his spirit demanded of it. If he were climbing a tree he usually climbed too high or tried to swing to a branch too far away. We built houses, platforms in the trees, and lived in them like monkeys. I was almost six years older than he, and so with a longer reach. Besides I did not take chances. He did. If I fell it was usually into a sand-pile or a flower-bed. He usually hit cracked rock or barbed wire.

It is not mere chance that, while we are both in the thirties, I am fat and comfortable and he is dead of his wounds. He had plenty of them before his faithful "first aid," his Grandmother Spence, died. He was six years old then.

The first three or four years of his life we lived at the old house with Grandmother Burton. There he had plenty of boys and young men to play with him. Her other grandsons, Bob, "Little Harry," and Clarence Burton, lived there then, for their mother had to live in Colorado for her health, and their father, our Uncle Steve, travelled back and forth. We all loved "the kid" and enjoyed playing with him, both because he was so jolly and because he didn't want to be babied, and never tattled. I think that, all his earliest fun being with boys and men, he acquired his lifelong habit of always turning to boys and men for his fun.

Grandmother Burton adored him as a miniature replica of her "faultless" son. He presented no problems to her mind, for wasn't he exactly like his father? He didn't often give her a chance to read to him, and her amusements were too mild to ensnare him. Driving to town in the coupé or to the park in the landau seemed to him time wasted from the real occupation of life, play. They were, however, good friends. I don't believe there was ever a day, even after we moved to "the little house," that he didn't run in to see his Grandmother Burton. She never found fault with him, and there was usually a stick of peppermint candy as a bonus.

His devoted friends and playmates were the servants. Nursemaids were no terror to him. He could cajole them into letting him do anything. His usual method was to do it first and then escape punishment by pure charm. I remember when Mother was trying to scold him once, when he was just a baby, he patted her hair, saying, "Money got pretty hair." How could one correct a child like that? I think I am the only person who ever spanked him. The result was not satisfactory --- for either of us.

The servants frankly made no effort to correct him. He was something to be enjoyed like sunshine. No wonder, then, that he enjoyed being with them.

Mother, by a stroke of genius, had Ben, a shiftless, loyal, colored choreman, look after Caspar. Ben originally did chores for all the neighbors. He was like "Genesis" in "Seventeen." Gradually Mother appropriated him, body and soul. I suppose he had other duties than tending to the furnace, cutting the grass, and doing the heavy housecleaning. Caspar never suspected that Ben was his nurse. He used to beg Ben to get through his work and "come play." Ben was too clever to let Caspar know that taking care of him was his real job. To Caspar's entreaties Ben's soft voice would reply, "You, Cappie, go'n play with Spencey. I got clean yo' Ma's pretties." That meant all morning cleaning the drawing-room, and Caspar and I putting up with each other as second best. Ben even went away with us summers to the seashore. Immediately all the boys wanted to play with us. He was a genial and resourceful human. As Caspar never suspected that Ben's work was to take care of him, so I never suspected that Ben was to take care of me also. By the time Caspar and I woke up to this fact we were old enough to admire Mother all the more for her cleverness. Besides, Ben had given us a better time than any boys without a Ben had had.

I used to have fits of righteous indignation over the way Ben (and everybody else) was "spoiling" Caspar. One thing I objected to especially was the way Ben would undress him. Caspar would pitch himself on the bed and carry on an animated conversation with Ben, while Ben took first one garment and then another off him. Caspar remained supine. Ben would even hold him up on one hand while he slipped off Caspar's breeches and drawers. He probably dressed Caspar the same way; I can't remember. Certainly Caspar always wore his clothes, especially his hat, in Ben's slouchy, darky way until the British Army got hold of him and made him a "smart" officer. He walked like Ben, too, not bothering to lift up his heels. Yet there was a jauntiness about him, even in his slouchiness, that gave him more charm than he would have had had he taken the trouble to put all the pieces of the same suit of clothes on at the same time.

It was Ben also who fixed on him his nickname, "Cap." I believe "Cappie" was originally Caspar's baby attempt to say "Caspar." This was contracted by Ben to "Cap." "Cap" he remained to us all.

Ben's death, when Caspar was still a small boy, was his first real sorrow. He loved Ben as his chum. Of course the boys in the neighborhood were his friends and companions, but not in the way Ben was. Caspar wept bitterly, but he had no time for protracted mourning. Besides, he loved all the other servants, especially Tom, the Irish coachman; Emily, who has been everything and everybody in our family; Tillie, Grandma Spence's maid; and Mary Kelly, Grandma Burton's maid. They were all in our family when Caspar was born and they were all still with us at his burial. Their love of Caspar was as real as his parents' love of him, and he gave them all his love. They are loving and beloved members of our family. Caspar always thought of them and treated them as such. They were always numbered amongst his best friends and they knew it. Each of them, in different ways, took care of him during the months of his dying and loved an excuse to go into his room. They didn't need one, for Caspar counted on seeing each of them every day, from Tom's early visit to make up the fire to Tillie's last visit at night with a pitcher of ice water. In case Emily, whose work was downstairs, didn't appear for a few hours, Caspar would ask with a tone of annoyance, "Where is Emily? What does she do with herself?"

When Mother would send for her Caspar would greet her with, "Hello, Em! Where have you been keeping yourself?" Then they would talk like old cronies or hardly say anything to each other, like the lifelong friends they were.

All four months he was in bed Tillie hardly left the stairs outside his door. There she sat hoping there was something she could do for him. He used to say, "Tillie is on permanent guard duty."

I remember once, when he thought he had grown up, hearing his voice in the bathroom, saying to the laundress, who had gone in to get soiled towels, "Get out of here. I'm taking a bath." "Law, me, Cappie, you ain't no treat to me," came the soft reply. After that I don't think Caspar ever tried to be "grown up" with the old servants.

As new servants came he made friends with all of them and won their love and devotion. Margaret, the cook, who was part of the family by the time he went to college, considered my persistent opinion that Caspar had no palate a challenge. To the end of his life she never relaxed her devoted efforts to "feed him up." She fought physicians and nurses alike to be allowed to cook him food he could and would eat. She and all the servants would do anything for him. He asked them to do almost nothing for him and always thanked them as he would have thanked a friend.

He did all this instinctively, but he had a theory on the subject also. He gauged the breeding and the manners of people by the way they treated servants. It was his acid test as to whether a man were a gentleman. Shortly before he died he was speaking to me of a rather elegant young man whom we both liked. I remember his ending the conversation with, "You think he's a gentleman until you hear him speak to a servant. Wow! If you want to like him, don't hear him speak to his chauffeur."

With the servants, with the family, with all his friends he was frank. He was never successful as a deceiver. When he tried he failed ludicrously. One summer evening, when he was hardly more than a baby, he conceived a great desire to trip me up. I don't know what I was doing that annoyed him, probably "steps" in a dance of some imaginary play I was rehearsing --- a form of amusement with me that he always thought silly. In any case he kept crawling after me on the lawn and grabbing my ankles. With a kick I rolled him over. Wails and howls! When Mother picked him up with, "What's the matter, Darling?" she was told, between sobs, "Spence Burton kicked me." Then came my turn to explain. "But why were you tripping Spence up?" Mother asked. "I wasn't tripping him up. I was just seeing how his shoe-strings were tied."

Caspar was never more clever at deceit than that, and soon gave it up, even as a defensive weapon. One result was an habitual lack of effort to conceal his faults or his failures. As he grew to manhood he developed a genius for putting his worst foot foremost. Certainly his left hand never knew the good that his right hand did. That was glorious, but it was annoying that the general public should know whatever evil either of his hands did. He was willing to have it so.

Another result of his frankness, of his neglect and abhorrence of deceit was his readiness to confess. He wrote almost unbelievable confessions to his father, his mother and his brother. He seemed to have a passion for letting us know of what he considered his worst failures. Value them? Of course we did, almost more than any other token of his confidence and love. Naturally we have omitted from this volume all such letters.

I must quote, however, from one of these self-abasing letters he wrote to me. It reveals more clearly than I could describe his complete freedom from deceit and conceit: "I will not play the regular game of saying that I try, but lose out. I try sometimes; then I win. This principle doesn't apply to all sin. A man can't become perfect by trying. Something I believe can be accomplished; but if a man could kill selfishness first he could then gather in as many little sins as he wanted to, but even then his friends could tell him of a lot."

How did he look as a little child? I thought him beautiful. I believe every one thought he was handsome, for I remember how proud I used to be when people on the street would stare at him and whisper, "Look at that child's hair." It was glorious. A tangle of little yellow curls, like an aureole of sunshine. It was charming in itself and it had the added beauty-value of hiding his worst feature, his ears. They stuck out wing and wing, even worse than mine. He always joked about them. When in college he became the founder and president of what he called "The Spinnaker Club." For membership only men could qualify whose ears fitted them to "sail before the wind."

In looking at Caspar, either as child, boy or man, the feature one always noticed was his brown eyes. They revealed him. They danced with fun, glowed with friendliness, and, in repose, reflected his thoughts.

 

II

SCHOOL

CASPAR'S curls were cut off for him to go to school. He was five then, and it was not really school, only a kindergarten. Fortunately that lasted only a year. He knew it was not real work, and so did no work at all. As play he thought it was silly. He could devise much more amusing games at home. Its only advantage in his eyes was that there were more human beings there than in our immediate neighborhood with whom he could make friends.

The next year, when he was six, he went to the Avondale Public School. There he found hundreds of potential new friends and busied himself making real friends of them. He had not a snobbish instinct or thought then or ever. He was not aware of class lines. To him they were like the equator and parallels of latitude; they were invisible lines, even if they encircled the earth. People were just people to Caspar, and, at the age of six, all of them creatures to be liked. He treated them all just the same, as later in the Army he treated both his C.O. and his orderly just the same, as his friends.

Cap: aged Three Years

Recess was the part of school he liked. Then he could play with his friends without the annoyance of lessons and discipline.

Lessons did not bother him much. He was quick-witted, and so had no trouble in learning and reciting his lessons. They were just another stupid thing that grown-ups insisted must be done. He did not connect them with life. He just endured them, and "got by" with as little inconvenience to himself as possible. That attitude of mind toward his lessons persisted. He never thought them worth while in themselves until he went to Harvard. Professor Barrett Wendell was, I believe, the first teacher he ever had who made him appreciate that "lessons" as well as play could be fun. Such an esoteric conception never dawned on him at the Avondale Public School.

If his lessons did not bother him, school discipline certainly did. After he had recited he settled down to fooling while the other children recited. As the classes were large, and as he did not have to study hard to keep up, he had three years, in that school, of almost continual fooling. Consequently punishments were frequent, almost habitual. He took them as part of the game and bore no malice. Even the teachers, who had to try to keep him in order and who had to punish him, loved him. Three of them, who are still teaching there, remember him with affection and smiles, and are now proud to have been his teachers. They, with the present Principal of the Avondale School, arranged a memorial service and planted a tree in his memory on Arbor Day, shortly after his death. Hundreds of pupils in the school took part in this service and planted an oak in his memory. I like the words of their program: "We have gathered together to-day to do honor to the memory of Caspar Henry Burton, Jr., who gave his life for his ideals in the cause of honor and patriotism."

Caspar was wasting his time at the Avondale Public School. The classes were too large for him to receive as much individual attention as he needed. So, when he was nine years old, he was sent to the private school where I was, Franklin School. I was then doing High School work there preparing for Harvard. Caspar went into the Lower School, for the little boys. I enjoyed having him there. We usually went to school together in the morning, and at recess I was always proud to see how popular he was with "the kids," and how the older boys took to him because he was such "a plucky little devil."

Even there, with small classes and much individual attention, Caspar did not bother to do any more than just get his lessons. Play was life. Saturday was the real day in the week. When it came he always ran from his bed to Mother's room. When he had got into bed with her he would say, "Please help me decide which plan is more fun for to-day. I have so many things I want to do."

That was entirely characteristic of him throughout his life --- "so many things I want to do" --- boundless energy and enthusiasm, but yet an inability to come to a decision. He was like a car with a powerful motor and a defective steering-gear.

The last letter he ever wrote tells this same story, with its unwritten appeal to his mother to help him decide.

He had no difficulty in deciding to escape routine and discipline if he could, and put in their place adventure and fun. This instinct led to the cause of his first letter. It was dictated to Mother. This is her account of it:

"One morning when he was ten years old, he walked into my sitting-room, looking very white and said, 'Mom, I have been sent away from school and can't go back until you write a note explaining why I wasn't at school for three days.'

"I said, 'But, Darling, where were you?'

"You see, Mom, there was a circus near the school and I played hookey and drove the monkey-wagon in the parade. I had bad luck the last day for Mr. White(1) saw me.'

"You may imagine my surprise! I said, 'What can I write?'

"Caspar's face brightened up and he said, 'I've thought of that. Say, "Dear Mr. Sykes, Caspar played hookey for three days and drove the monkey-wagon at the circus. He had a splendid time and is now ready to take his punishment." I signed my name and added, 'Dictated by Caspar.' He was kept in for an hour every day for the rest of the term and was quite happy about it."

That letter sums up Caspar's school-days. It also reveals lifelong characteristics.

The routine and the discipline of school were irksome to him. He never saw the point of them, in school or afterwards. Routine was dull and discipline was damnable. They were to be endured only until a way of escape were open to him. The circus provided just the excuse he wanted. Here was an adventure splendid enough and fun keen enough for his nature. Who could choose grammar and arithmetic when a circus parade and a monkey-wagon were within reach? I am certain he had not a moment of doubt or a qualm of conscience. Thank God he saw life in its true proportions.

How he got the job of driving the monkey-wagon I have forgotten, but I can guess that before the first parade he had made friends with the circus drivers and managers, had proved to them that he could drive six ponies, and that his tiny body, in a scarlet coat and brass buttons, was just what they needed on the gilt seat of that gaily painted van.

He could do anything with animals. He made them his friends, and, like his human friends, they would do anything for him. He began to ride, as I did, before he could remember it, on the front of Dad's saddle. He was usually to be found in the stable, with Tom and the horses. An old pony, Betsy, seemed determined to live on until every Burton boy had learned to ride. She had been bought for Father when he was a boy. By the time Caspar came along she was a fat old lady, of mythical age, and "sot in her ways." No one could manage her, but any of us could climb up onto her, go where she wanted to go, roll off when she wished us to, and exhaust ourselves trying to make her gallop. She would do this only when headed for home, "homeing," as we called it. Then she gave us the sensation of riding a two-year-old to victory. Caspar soon graduated from Betsy to my pony, Franchette, and soon he had a little chestnut of his own, whom he named Ben. No one horse could keep pace with his spirits. At the Riding Club he rode a string of horses almost every day. He rode so well and was so light that members of the Club asked to have him exercise their horses. M. Léon de Gisbert, the riding-master, became like a second father to Caspar. He and Madame de Gisbert made Caspar feel that their home was his. Certainly he treated it as such. He almost lived there. M. de Gisbert, a retired French cavalry officer, really taught him to ride. He taught him also all the French that Caspar would take the trouble to learn. I don't think there was any one outside his family whom Caspar cared for more than de Gisbert, "Prof." as Caspar called him. The thirty years' difference in their ages did not count. They seemed to grow up together. From him Caspar learned not only how to ride, but also how to know and to care for horses. While still tiny Caspar rode with him at the head of parades through the streets of the city. He took Caspar to the races. Wherever there were horses there Caspar was with de Gisbert. I was also with them, until I went to college. Caspar was twelve then. If we had spent our time playing games we could not at that time have been companions, but as we rode whenever we were not in school we could have our fun together. Of course we rode, too, with Father and Mother, both at the Riding Club and out in the country. Those are happy memories, all four of us riding together. It made us more intimate as a family than any one thing we ever did together. Through his riding Caspar got to know all their friends, and promptly made them his own. In Caspar's mind people were not divided into generations, any more than they were divided into classes. Older people were fond of him and he of them. He was intimate with them without being "fresh," polite to them without being deferential; in fact he treated them as friends. It was the only human relationship he understood.

Caspar came into his own at the Riding Club amateur circuses. Every year he was a star performer. He could do anything in the ring. Any form of riding or driving was easy for him. Also he was in great demand by amateur acrobats to toss about. He was light, strong, sure-footed and quick-witted. On one occasion there was real trouble in the family. Father vetoed a trapeze stunt in which Caspar was to be swung by the ankles from the roof of the building and come up with a jerk a few feet from the ground. Of course, Father was right, but I don't believe Caspar ever thought so.

This seems a long digression from the topic in hand, Caspar's love of animals; but one cannot think of Caspar without horses and dogs. He was always with them at the Riding Club and at home.

When he was born we had in the house an Italian greyhound, Beauty. She was as agile in body as he was in spirit. She would leap over anything into his cradle. Kate, his devoted old colored nurse, strove vainly "To keep Beauty off the Baby." It was not to be; Caspar had to have a dog literally on him. As soon as he was able to walk, Father gave us a couple of Llewellyn setter pups, Don and Dandy. I cheated Caspar into choosing the less attractive puppy, Don; but, having adopted him, Caspar was loyal to him and maintained against all expert opinion that his was the better dog. Ben always had some old cur, like "Clematis" in "Seventeen," which he declared was "a coon houn'." To all Ben's "coon houn's" Caspar was devoted and talked of their points as if he were trying to make a sale.

To deal adequately with Caspar's dogs would make a small book itself. He always had one or more, and they influenced his life. He even owed his desire to be a physician indirectly to a dog. He was bitten by a mad dog, went to the Pasteur Institute in New York, and there met the physician who first interested him in medicine. In the woods he always had dogs for birds and for deer. In the North he travelled and lived with his dogs. Out of the War he brought Mick, and with the help of Mick's exuberant devotion he kept up his cheerfulness and fun during the four long months of his dying.

If one thinks of Caspar one thinks of him with animals. My mind reverts with unclouded joy to the picture of him playing hookey from school to drive that monkey-wagon in the circus parade. That he was "caught" only seemed to him hard luck. He offered no excuses and manufactured no lies. Never in his life did he say or think he had been "led astray" or "influenced by bad companions." He despised such excuses. Neither were lies part of his defensive armor. "He had a splendid time and is now ready to take his punishment." So he felt as a schoolboy and so he felt on his deathbed. He knew that he had had no right physically to "carry on" after he was wounded, but he knew that he had done a splendid thing and he was ready to take his punishment smilingly to the end.

His punishment at school was to stay in an hour after school every day for the rest of the term and memorize poetry. At that time and throughout his years at Franklin School he committed to memory miles of Shakespeare and the Victorian poets. That was the only real education he seemed to get there. He did not have to study to pass, and therefore he was satisfied just to pass. Lessons were a mere interruption in school life. He "made" football teams, the school fraternity and everything there was to be "made." He spent nine years there, from nine to eighteen; in fact, except for the two principals and Frank, the old colored janitor whom Caspar loved, Caspar became "the oldest living inhabitant of Franklin School."

As the time for him to take his preliminary entrance examinations for Harvard drew near it looked as if he could not possibly pass them. Mother had an illumination. Instead of keeping him at his desk after school she took him out of school, to the disgust of his teachers, and brought him on to Cambridge to visit me. It worked. After spending a week with me in Claverly Hall Caspar decided that Harvard was worth working for. From that time on there was never any doubt about his getting into Harvard.


Part II: Harvard