Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/30

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satisfaction, and led to a renewal of the threat of an apprenticeship.

As a compromise, Henry succeeded, with the aid of his mother, in obtaining his father's consent to his spending a year at a French semi-military college in Phalsbourg in Lorraine, to which sons of prominent families were frequently sent. In order to obtain some knowledge of French he went to Phalsbourg in September, 1849, a month in advance of the opening of the school. Here he was fortunate in obtaining daily tuition from no less a personage than Alexandre Chatrian, already a story-writer, but not yet famous. When the school began, the life was found to be very rigorous, the study hours long, those for recreation few, the food insufficient, and the morale of the boys as a whole poor. Despite the fact that he found only one or two congenial friends, Henry enjoyed the life and profited by it, especially physically, growing a foot in height and changing from a weakling to a handsome, vigorous and shapely lad. A visit to his home at Easter in 1850 impressed his parents with his improvement so favorably that his father decided to send him in the fall to Speyer to his grandmother's (Franz Pfeiffer had died suddenly in 1847, almost in Henry's presence), in order to allow him to complete his schooling at the gymnasium in that city.

In September, 1850, Henry passed a brilliant examination at Phalsbourg, visited his mother in Switzerland, and was settled in Speyer in his new home, in which he continued to live until his graduation in 1852. As a scholar he took no high rank, but by this time a strong taste for German literature asserted itself, and a desire to write, which became more and more pronounced as time went on. As a boy he was devoted to dancing and horseback riding. He was much in company with his classmates, and, belonging to a forbidden students' society, became involved in several escapades, one of which was punished with a day's arrest and confinement on bread and water.