Read CHAPTER FIVE. of Dorian, free online book, by Nephi Anderson, on ReadCentral.com.

Dorian’s high school days in the city began that fall, a little late because he had so many things to set right at home; but he soon made up the lost time, for he was a student not afraid of hard work.  He walked back and forth the three miles.  Mrs. Brown offered him a room at her large city residence, but he could not accept it because of his daily home chores.  However, he occasionally called on the Brown’s who tried to make him feel as much at home as they did at Greenstreet.

Never before were days so perfect to Dorian, never before had he so enjoyed the fleeting hours.  For the first week or two, he was a little shy, but the meeting each morning with boys and girls of his own age and mingling with them in their studies and their recreations, soon taught him that they were all very much alike, just happy, carefree young people, most of them trying to get an education.  He soon learned, also, that he could easily hold his own in the class work with the brightest of them.  The teachers, and students also, soon learned to know this.  Boys came to him for help in problems, and the younger girls chattered about him with laughing eyes and tossing curls.  What a wonder it was!  He the simple, plainly-dressed country boy, big and awkward and ugly as he thought himself to be, becoming a person of some importance.  And so the days went all too swiftly by.  Contrary to his younger boyhood’s experience, the closing hour came too soon, when it was time to go home to mother and chores and lessons.

And the mother shared the boy’s happiness, for she could see the added joy of living and working which had come into his life by the added opportunities and new environment.  He frequently discussed with his mother his lessons.  She was not well posted in the knowledge derived from books, and sometimes she mildly resented this newer learning which he brought into the home and seemed to intrude on her old-established ideas.  For instance, when the cold winter nights came, and Dorian kept open his bedroom window, the mother protested that he would “catch his death of cold.”  Night air and drafts are very dangerous, especially if let into one’s bedroom, she held.

“But, mother, I must have air to breathe,” said Dorian, “and what other kind of air can I have at night?  I might store a little day-air in my room, but I would soon exhaust its life-giving qualities at night.  You know, mother,” he went on in the assurance of his newly acquired knowledge, “I guess the Lord knew what He was about when He enveloped the earth with air which presses down nearly fifteen pounds to the square inch so that it might permeate every possible nook and corner of the globe.”  Then he went on to explain the wonderful process of blood purification in the lungs, and demonstrated to her that the breath is continually throwing off foul matter.  He did this by breathing into a fruit jar, screwing on the lid for a little while, and then having the nose make the test.

“Some bed rooms I’ve gone into smell just like that,” he said.

“Here, mother is a clipping from a magazine.  Listen: 

“’Of all the marvels of God’s workmanship, none is more wondrous than the air.  Think of our all being bathed in a substance so delicate as to be itself unperceived, yet so dense as to be the carriage to our senses of messages from the world about us!  It is never in our way; it does not ask notice; we only know it is there by the good it does us.  And this exquisitely soft, pure, yielding, unseen being, like a beautiful and beneficent fairy, brings us blessings from all around.  It has the skill to wash our blood clean from all foulness.  Its weight keeps us from tumbling to pieces.  It is a reservoir where the waters lie stored, until they fall and gladden the earth.  It is a great-coat that softens to us the heat of the day, and the cold of the night.  It carries sounds to our ears and smells to our nostrils.  Its movements fill Nature with ceaseless change; and without their aid in wafting ships over the sea, commerce and civilization would have been scarce possible.  It is of all wonders the most wonderful.’”

At another time when Dorian had a cold, and consequently, a loss of appetite, his mother urged him to eat more, saying that he must have strength to throw off his cold.

“What is a cold?” he smilingly asked.

“Why, a cold is ­a cold, of course, you silly boy.”

“What does it do to the activities of the body?”

“I’m not a doctor; how can I tell.”

“All mothers are doctors and nurses; they do a lot of good, and some things that are not so good.  For instance, why should I eat more when I have a cold?” She did not reply, and so he went on:  “The body is very much like a stove or a furnace; it is burning material all the time.  Sometimes the clinkers accumulate and stop the draft, both in the human as well as the iron stove.  When that happens, the sensible thing to do is not to throw in more fuel but to clean out the clinkers first.”

“Where did you get all that wisdom, Dorian?”

“I got it from my text book on hygiene, and I think it’s true because it seems so reasonable.”

“Well, last night’s talk led me to believe that you would become a philosopher; now, the trend is more toward the doctor; tomorrow I’ll think you are studying law.”

“Oh, but we are, mother; you ought to hear us in our civil government class.  We have organized into a Congress of the United States, and we are going to make laws.”

“You’ll be elected President, I suppose.”

“I’m one of the candidates.”

“Well, my boy” she smiled happily at him, “I hope you will be elected to every good thing, and that you will fill every post with honor; and now, I would like you to read to me from the ‘Lady of the Lake’ while I darn your stockings.  Your father used to read the story to me a long, long time ago, and your voice is very much like his when you read.”

And thus with school and home and ward duties the winter passed.  Spring called him again to the fields to which he went with new zeal, for life was opening to him in a way which life is in the habit of doing to the young of his age.  Mildred Brown and her mother were in California.  He heard from her occasionally by way of postcards, and once she sent him one of her sketches of the ocean.  Carlia Duke also was not forgotten by Mildred.  Dorian and Carlia met frequently as neighbors will do, and they often spoke of their mutual friend.  The harvest was again good that fall, and Dorian once more took up his studies at the high school in the city.  Carlia finished the grades as Dorian completed his second year, and the following year Carlia walked with Dorian to the high school.  That was no great task for the girl, now nearly grown to young womanhood, and it was company for both of them.  During these walks Carlia had many questions to ask about her lessons, and Dorian was always pleased to help her.

“I am such a dunce,” she would say, “I wish I was as smart as you.”

“You must say ‘were’ when you wish.  I were as smart as you,” he corrected.

“O, yes:  I forgot.  My, but grammar is hard, especially to a girl which ­”

“No ­a girl who; which refers to objects and animals, who to persons.”

Carlia laughed and swung her books by the strap.  Dorian was not carrying them that day.  Sometimes he was absentminded regarding the little courtesies.

The snow lay hard packed in the road and it creaked under their feet.  Carlia’s cheeks glowed redder than ever in contact with the keen winter air.  They walked on in silence for a time.

“Say, Dorian, why do you not go and see Mildred?” asked Carlia, not looking at him, but rather at the eastern mountains.

“Why?  Is she not well?”

“She is never well now.  She looks bad to me.”

“When did you see her?”

“Last Saturday.  I called at the house, and she asked about you ­Poor girl!”

“What do you mean by that?”

“You are very smart in some things, but are a stupid dunce in other things.  Mildred is like an angel both in looks and ­everything.  I wish I was ­were half as good.”

“But how am I such a dunce, Carlia?”

“In not seeing how much Mildred thinks of you.”

“Thinks of me?  Mildred?”

“She just loves you.”

Carlia still looked straight ahead as though fearful to see the agitation she had brought to the young man; but he looked at her, with cheeks still aflame.  He did not understand Carlia.  Why had she said that?  Was she just teasing him?  But she did not look as if she were teasing.  Silently they walked on to the school house door.

But Dorian could not forget what Carlia had said.  All day it intruded into his lessons.  “She said she loves me” he whispered to his heart only.  Could it be possible?  Even if she did, what final good would come of it?  The distance between them was still too great, for he was only a poor farmer boy.  Dear Mildred ­his heart did not chide him for thinking that ­so frail, so weak, so beautiful.  What if she ­should die!  Dorian was in a strange state of mind for a number of days.  He longed to visit the Brown home, yet he could not find excuse to go.  He could not talk to anybody about what was in his mind and heart, not even to his mother with whom he always shared his most hidden thoughts.

One evening he visited Uncle Zed, ostensibly, to talk about a book.  Uncle Zed was deep in the study of “Natural Law in the Spiritual World” and would have launched into a discussion of what he had found, but Dorian did not respond; he had other thoughts in mind.

“Uncle Zed,” he said, “how can I become something else than a farmer?”

The old man looked questioningly at his young friend.  “What’s the matter with being a farmer?” he asked.

“Well, a farmer doesn’t usually amount to much, I mean in the eyes of the world.  Farmers seem to be in a different class from merchants, for example, or from bankers or other more genteel workers.”

“Listen to me, Dorian Trent.”  Uncle Zed laid down his book as if he had a serious task before him.  “Let me tell you something.  If you haven’t done so before, begin now and thank the Lord that you began life on this globe of ours as a farmer’s child and boy.  Whatever you do or become in the future, you have made a good beginning.  You have already laid away in the way of concepts, we may say, a generous store of nature’s riches, for you have been in close touch with the earth, and the life which teems in soil and air and the waters.  Pity the man whose childish eyes looked out on nothing but paved streets and brick walls or whose young ears heard nothing but the harsh rumble of the city, for his early conceptions from which to interpret his later life is artificial and therefore largely untrue.”

Uncle Zed smiled up into the boy’s face as if to ask, Do you get that?  Dorian would have to have time to assimilate the idea; meanwhile, he had another question: 

“Uncle Zed, why are there classes among members of our Church?”

“Classes?  What do you mean?”

“Well, the rich do not associate with the poor nor the learned with the unlearned.  I know, of course, that this is the general rule in the world, but I think it should be different in the Church.”

“Yes; it ought to be and is different.  There are no classes such as you have in mind in the Church, even though a few unthinking members seem to imply it by their actions; but there is no real class distinction in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, only such that are based on the doing of the right and the wrong.  Character alone is the standard of classification.”

“Yes, I see that that should be true.”

“It is true.  Let me illustrate:  The presiding authority in the Church is not handed down from father to son, thus fostering an aristocratic tendency; also this authority is so wide-spread that anything like a “ruling family” would be impossible.  In a town where I once lived, the owner of the bank and the town blacksmith were called on missions.  They both were assigned to the same field, and the blacksmith was appointed to preside over the banker.  The banker submitted willingly to be directed in his missionary labors by one who, judged by worldly standards, was far beneath him in the social scale.  I know a shoemaker in the city who is a teacher in the theological class of his ward, whose membership consists of merchants, lawyers, doctors, and the like.  Although he is poor and earns his living by mending shoes, he is greatly respected for his goodness and his knowledge of Scriptural subjects and doctrine.”

“So you think ­that a young fellow might ­that it would not be wrong ­or foolish for a poor man to think a lot of ­of a rich girl, for instance.”

Uncle Zed peered at Dorian over his glasses.  The old man took him gently by the shoulders.  Ah, that’s what’s back of all this, he thought; but what he said was: 

“My boy, Emerson said, ‘Hitch your wagon to a star,’ and I will add, never let go, although the rocks in the road may bump you badly.  Why, there’s nothing impossible for a young man like you.  You may be rich, if you want to; I expect to see you learned; and the Priesthood which you have is your assurance, through your diligence and faithfulness, to any heights.  Yes, my boy; go ahead ­love Mildred Brown all you want to; she’s fine, but not a bit finer than you.”

“Oh, Uncle Zed,” Dorian somewhat protested; but, nevertheless, he went home that evening with his heart singing.