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Title: At Good Old Siwash
Author: Fitch, George, 1877-1915
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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AT

GOOD OLD SIWASH

BY GEORGE FITCH

ILLUSTRATED

BOSTON LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY 1916



_Copyright, 1910, 1911,_ BY THE CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY.

_Copyright, 1911,_ BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.

_All rights reserved_

Printers S. J. PARKHILL & CO., BOSTON, U.S.A.



[Illustration: Twenty-five yards with four Muggledorfer men hanging on
his legs
                    FRONTISPIECE. _Page 19_]



AT GOOD OLD SIWASH



PREFACE


Little did I think, during the countless occasions on which I have
skipped blithely over the preface of a book in order to plunge into the
plot, that I should be called upon to write a preface myself some day.
And little have I realized until just now the extreme importance to the
author of having his preface read.

I want this preface to be read, though I have an uneasy premonition that
it is going to be skipped as joyously as ever I skipped a preface
myself. I want the reader to toil through my preface in order to save
him the task of trying to follow a plot through this book. For if he
attempts to do this he will most certainly dislocate something about
himself very seriously. I have found it impossible, in writing of
college days which are just one deep-laid scheme after another, to
confine myself to one plot. How could I describe in one plot the life of
the student who carries out an average of three plots a day? It is
unreasonable. So I have done the next best thing. There is a plot in
every chapter. This requires the use of upwards of a dozen villains, an
almost equal number of heroes, and a whole bouquet of heroines. But I
do not begrudge this extravagance. It is necessary, and that settles it.

Then, again, I want to answer in this preface a number of questions by
readers who kindly consented to become interested in the stories when
they appeared in the _Saturday Evening Post_. Siwash isn't Michigan in
disguise. It isn't Kansas. It isn't Knox. It isn't Minnesota. It isn't
Tuskegee, Texas, or Tufts. It is just Siwash College. I built it myself
with a typewriter out of memories, legends, and contributed tales from a
score of colleges. I have tried to locate it myself a dozen times, but I
can't. I have tried to place my thumb on it firmly and say, "There, darn
you, stay put." But no halfback was ever so elusive as this infernal
college. Just as I have it definitely located on the Knox College
campus, which I myself once infested, I look up to find it on the Kansas
prairies. I surround it with infinite caution and attempt to nail it
down there. Instead, I find it in Minnesota with a strong Norwegian
accent running through the course of study. Worse than that, I often
find it in two or three places at once. It is harder to corner than a
flea. I never saw such a peripatetic school.

That is only the least of my troubles, too. The college itself is never
twice the same. Sometimes I am amazed at its size and perfection, by the
grandeur of its gymnasium and the colossal lines of its stadium. But at
other times I cannot find the stadium at all, and the gymnasium has
shrunk until it looks amazingly like the old wooden barn in which we
once built up Sandow biceps at Knox. I never saw such a college to get
lost in, either. I know as well as anything that to get to the Eta Bita
Pie house, you go north from the old bricks, past the new science hall
and past Browning Hall. But often when I start north from the campus, I
find my way blocked by the stadium, and when I try to dodge it, I run
into the Alfalfa Delt House, and the Eatemalive boarding club, and other
places which belong properly to the south. And when I go south I
frequently lose sight of the college altogether, and can't for the life
of me remember what the library tower looks like or whether the
theological school is just falling down, or is to be built next year; or
whether I ought to turn to my right, and ask for directions at Prexie's
house, or turn to my left and crawl under a freight train which blocks a
crossing on the Hither, Yonder and Elsewhere Railroad. If you think it
is an easy task to carry a whole college in your head without getting it
jumbled, just try it a while.

Then, again, the Siwash people puzzle me. Professor Grubb is always a
trial. That man alternates a smooth-shaven face with a full beard in the
most startling manner. Petey Simmons is short and flaxen-haired, long
and black-haired, and wide and hatchet-faced in turns, depending on the
illustrator. I never know Ole Skjarsen when I see him for the same
reason. As for Prince Hogboom, Allie Bangs, Keg Rearick and the rest of
them, nobody knows how they look but the artists who illustrated the
stories; and as I read each number and viewed the smiling faces of
these students, I murmured, "Goodness, how you have changed!"

So I have struggled along as best I could to administer the affairs of a
college which is located nowhere, has no student body, has no endowment,
never looks the same twice, and cannot be reached by any reliable route.
The situation is impossible. I must locate it somewhere. If you are
interested in the college when you have read these few stories, suppose
you hunt for it wherever college boys are full of applied deviltry and
college girls are distractingly fair; where it is necessary to win
football games in order to be half-way contented with the universe;
where the spring weather is too wonderful to be wasted on College
Algebra or History of Art; and where, whatever you do, or whoever you
like, or however you live, you can't forget it, no matter how long you
work or worry afterward.

There! I can't mark it on the map, but if you have ever worried a
college faculty you'll know the way.

                              GEORGE FITCH.
          July, 1911.



 CONTENTS

 CHAPTER                                                     PAGE


    I OLE SKJARSEN'S FIRST TOUCHDOWN                           1

   II INITIATING OLE                                          28

  III WHEN GREEK MEETS GROUCH                                 50

   IV A FUNERAL THAT FLASHED IN THE PAN                       78

    V COLLEGES WHILE YOU WAIT                                105

   VI THE GREEK DOUBLE CROSS                                 135

  VII TAKING PACE FROM FATHER TIME                           169

 VIII FRAPPÉD FOOTBALL                                       196

   IX CUPID--THAT OLD COLLEGE CHUM                           223

    X VOTES FROM WOMEN                                       253

   XI SIC TRANSIT GLORIA ALL-AMERICA                         284



 ILLUSTRATIONS


 Twenty-five yards with four Muggledorfer
 men hanging on his legs                           _Frontispiece_

                                                             PAGE

 "Aye ent care to stop," he said. "Aye kent suit
 you, Master Bost"                                            20

 He pulled himself together and touched Ole gently            26

 There wasn't a college anywhere around us that
 didn't have Ole's hoofmarks all over its pride               33

 Martha caused some mild sensation                            63

 My, but that girl was a wonder!                              74

 "Har's das spy!" he yelled. "Kill him, fallers;
 he ban a spy!"                                              120

 We spent another five minutes hoisting him aboard
 a prehistoric plug                                          125

 He may have been fat, but how he could run!                 132

 Naturally I was somewhat dazzled                            147

 He was so bashful that his voice blushed when he
 used it                                                     151

 With our colors on and four particularly wicked-looking
 chair legs in our hands                                     167

 Our peculiar style of pushing a football right
 through the thorax of the whole middle west                 205

 "If you don't like that beanbag, eat it"                    220

 He invited Miss Spencer to go street-car riding
 with him                                                    246

 You can always spot these family friends                    252

 It was a blow between the eyes                              264

 "How are all the other good old chaps?" she said            270

 Why, they even made us cut chapel to go walking
 with them                                                   280



AT GOOD OLD SIWASH



CHAPTER I

OLE SKJARSEN'S FIRST TOUCHDOWN


Am I going to the game Saturday? Am I? Me? Am I going to eat some more
food this year? Am I going to draw my pay this month? Am I going to do
any more breathing after I get this lungful used up? All foolish
questions, pal. Very silly conversation. Pshaw!

Am I going to the game, you ask me? Is the sun going to get up
to-morrow? You couldn't keep me away from that game if you put a
protective tariff of seventy-eight per cent ad valorem, whatever that
means, on the front gate. I came out to this town on business, and I'll
have to take an extra fare train home to make up the time; but what of
that? I'm going to the game, and when the Siwash team comes out I'm
going to get up and give as near a correct imitation of a Roman mob and
a Polish riot as my throat will stand; and if we put a crimp in the
large-footed, humpy-shouldered behemoths we're going up against this
afternoon, I'm going out to-night and burn the City Hall. Any Siwash man
who is a gentleman would do it. I'll probably have to run like thunder
to beat some of them to it.

You know how it is, old man. Or maybe you don't, because you made all
your end runs on the Glee Club. But I played football all through my
college course and the microbe is still there. In the fall I think
football, talk football, dream football, even though I haven't had a
suit on for six years. And when I go out to the field and see little old
Siwash lining up against a bunch of overgrown hippos from a university
with a catalogue as thick as a city directory, the old
mud-and-perspiration smell gets in my nostrils, and the desire to get
under the bunch and feel the feet jabbing into my ribs boils up so
strong that I have to hold on to myself with both hands. If you've never
sat on a hard board and wanted to be between two halfbacks with your
hands on their shoulders, and the quarter ready to sock a ball into your
solar plexus, and eleven men daring you to dodge 'em, and nine thousand
friends and enemies raising Cain and keeping him well propped up in the
grandstands--if you haven't had that want you wouldn't know a healthy,
able-bodied want if you ran into it on the street.

Of course, I never got any further along than a scrub. But what's the
odds? A broken bone feels just as grand to a scrub as to a star. I
sometimes think a scrub gets more real football knowledge than a varsity
man, because he doesn't have to addle his brain by worrying about
holding his job and keeping his wind, and by dreaming that he has
fumbled a punt and presented ninety-five yards to the hereditary enemies
of his college. I played scrub football five years, four of 'em under
Bost, the greatest coach who ever put wings on the heels of a
two-hundred-pound hunk of meat; and while my ribs never lasted long
enough to put me on the team, what I didn't learn about the game you
could put in the other fellow's eye.

Say, but it's great, learning football under a good coach. It's the
finest training a man can get anywhere on this old globule. Football is
only the smallest thing you learn. You learn how to be patient when what
you want to do is to chew somebody up and spit him into the gutter. You
learn to control your temper when it is on the high speed, with the
throttle jerked wide open and buzzing like a hornet convention. You
learn, by having it told you, just how small and foolish and
insignificant you are, and how well this earth could stagger along
without you if some one were to take a fly-killer and mash you with it.
And you learn all this at the time of life when your head is swelling up
until you mistake it for a planet, and regard whatever you say as a
volcanic disturbance.

I suppose you think, like the rest of the chaps who never came out to
practice but observed the game from the dollar-and-a-half seats, that
being coached in football is like being instructed in German or
calculus. You are told what to do and how to do it, and then you
recite. Far from it, my boy! They don't bother telling you what to do
and how to do it on a big football field. Mostly they tell you what to
do and how you do it. And they do it artistically, too. They use plenty
of language. A football coach is picked out for his ready tongue. He
must be a conversationalist. He must be able to talk to a greenhorn,
with fine shoulders and a needle-shaped head, until that greenhorn would
pick up the ball and take it through a Sioux war dance to get away from
the conversation. You can't reason with football men. They're not
logical, most of them. They are selected for their heels and shoulders
and their leg muscles, and not for their ability to look at you with
luminous eyes and say: "Yes, Professor, I think I understand." The way
to make 'em understand is to talk about them. Any man can understand you
while you are telling him that if he were just a little bit slower he
would have to be tied to the earth to keep up with it. That hurts his
pride. And when you hurt his pride he takes it out on whatever is in
front of him--which is the other team. Never get in front of a football
player when you are coaching him.

But this brings me to the subject of Bost again. Bost is still coaching
Siwash. This makes his 'steenth year. I guess he can stay there forever.
He's coached all these years and has never used the same adjective to
the same man twice. There's a record for you! He's a little man, Bost
is. He played end on some Western team when he only weighed one hundred
and forty. Got his football knowledge there. But where he got his
vocabulary is still a mystery. He has a way of convincing a man that a
dill pickle would make a better guard than he is, and of making that man
so jealous of the pickle that he will perform perfectly unreasonable
feats for a week to beat it out for the place. He has a way of saying
"Hurry up," with a few descriptive adjectives tacked on, that makes a
man rub himself in the stung place for an hour; and oh, how mad he can
make you while he is telling you pleasantly that while the little fellow
playing against you is only a prep and has sloping shoulders and weighs
one hundred and eleven stripped, he is making you look like a bale of
hay that has been dumped by mistake on an athletic field. And when he
gets a team in the gymnasium between halves, with the game going wrong,
and stands up before them and sizes up their insect nerve and rubber
backbone and hereditary awkwardness and incredible talent in doing the
wrong thing, to say nothing of describing each individual blunder in
that queer nasal clack of his--well, I'd rather be tied up in a great
big frying-pan over a good hot stove for the same length of time, any
day in the week. The reason Bost is a great coach is because his men
don't dare play poorly. When they do he talks to them. If he would only
hit them, or skin them by inches, or shoot at them, they wouldn't mind
it so much; but when you get on the field with him and realize that if
you miss a tackle he is going to get you out before the whole gang and
tell you what a great mistake the Creator made when He put joints in
your arms instead of letting them stick out stiff as they do any other
signpost, you're not going to miss that tackle, that's all.

When Bost came to Siwash he succeeded a line of coaches who had been
telling the fellows to get down low and hit the line hard, and had been
showing them how to do it very patiently. Nice fellows, those coaches.
Perfect gentlemen. Make you proud to associate with them. They could
take a herd of green farmer boys, with wrists like mules' ankles, and by
Thanksgiving they would have them familiar with all the rudiments of the
game. By that time the season would be over and all the schools in the
vicinity would have beaten us by big scores. The next year the last
year's crop of big farmer boys would stay at home to husk corn, and the
coach would begin all over on a new crop. The result was, we were a dub
school at football. Any school that could scare up a good rangy halfback
and a line that could hold sheep could get up an adding festival at our
expense any time. We lived in a perpetual state of fear. Some day we
felt that the normal school would come down and beat us. That would be
the limit of disgrace. After that there would be nothing left to do but
disband the college and take to drink to forget the past.

But Bost changed all that in one year. He didn't care to show any one
how to play football. He was just interested in making the player afraid
not to play it. When you went down the field on a punt you knew that if
you missed your man he would tell you when you came back that two stone
hitching-posts out of three could get past you in a six-foot alley. If
you missed a punt you could expect to be told that you might catch a
haystack by running with your arms wide open, but that was no way to
catch a football. Maybe things like that don't sound jabby when two
dozen men hear them! They kept us catching punts between classes, and
tackling each other all the way to our rooms and back. We simply had to
play football to keep from being bawled out. It's an awful thing to have
a coach with a tongue like a cheese knife swinging away at you, and to
know that if you get mad and quit, no one but the dear old Coll. will
suffer--but it gets the results. They use the same system in the East,
but there they only swear at a man, I believe. Siwash is a mighty proper
college and you can't swear on its campus, whatever else you do.
Swearing is only a lazy man's substitute for thinking, anyway; and Bost
wasn't lazy. He preferred the descriptive; he sat up nights thinking it
out.

We began to see the results before Bost had been tracing our pedigrees
for two weeks. First game of the season was with that little old dinky
Normal School which had been scaring us so for the past five years. We
had been satisfied to push some awkward halfback over the line once,
and then hold on to the enemy so tight he couldn't run; and we started
out that year in the same old way. First half ended 0 to 0, with our
boys pretty satisfied because they had kept the ball in Normal's
territory. Bost led the team and the substitutes into the overgrown barn
we used for a gymnasium, and while we were still patting ourselves
approvingly in our minds he cut loose:

"You pasty-faced, overfed, white-livered beanbag experts, what do you
mean by running a beauty show instead of a football game?" he yelled.
"Do you suppose I came out here to be art director of a statuary
exhibit? Does any one of you imagine for a holy minute that he knows the
difference between a football game and ushering in a church? Don't fool
yourselves. You don't; you don't know anything. All you ever knew about
football I could carve on granite and put in my eye and never feel it.
Nothing to nothing against a crowd of farmer boys who haven't known a
football from a duck's egg for more than a week! Bah! If I ever turned
the Old Folks' Home loose on you doll babies they'd run up a century
while you were hunting for your handkerchiefs. Jackson, what do you
suppose a halfback is for? I don't want cloak models. I want a man who
can stick his head down and run. Don't be afraid of that bean of yours;
it hasn't got anything worth saving in it. When you get the ball you're
supposed to run with it and not sit around trying to hatch it. You,
Saunders! You held that other guard just like a sweet-pea vine. Where
did you ever learn that sweet, lovely way of falling down on your nose
when a real man sneezes at you? Did you ever hear of sand? Eat it! Eat
it! Fill yourself up with it. I want you to get in that line this half
and stop something or I'll make you play left end in a fancy-work club.
Johnson, the only way to get you around the field is to put you on
wheels and haul you. Next time you grow fast to the ground I'm going to
violate some forestry regulations and take an axe to you. Same to you,
Briggs. You'd make the All-American boundary posts, but that's all.
Vance, I picked you for a quarterback, but I made a mistake; you ought
to be sorting eggs. That ball isn't red hot. You don't have to let go of
it as soon as you get it. Don't be afraid, nobody will step on you. This
isn't a rude game. It's only a game of post-office. You needn't act so
nervous about it. Maybe some of the big girls will kiss you, but it
won't hurt."

Bost stopped for breath and eyed us. We were a sick-looking crowd. You
could almost see the remarks sticking into us and quivering. We had come
in feeling pretty virtuous, and what we were getting was a hideous
surprise.

"Now I want to tell this tea-party something," continued Bost. "Either
you're going out on that field and score thirty points this last half or
I'm going to let the girls of Siwash play your football for you. I'm
tired of coaching men that aren't good at anything but falling down
scientifically when they're tackled. There isn't a broken nose among
you. Every one of you will run back five yards to pick out a soft spot
to fall on. It's got to stop. You're going to hold on to that ball this
half and take it places. If some little fellow from Normal crosses his
fingers and says 'naughty, naughty,' don't fall on the ball and yell
'down' until they can hear it uptown. Thirty points is what I want out
of you this half, and if you don't get 'em--well, you just dare to come
back here without them, that's all. Now get out on that field and jostle
somebody. Git!"

Did we git? Well, rather. We were so mad our clothes smoked. We would
have quit the game right there and resigned from the team, but we didn't
dare to. Bost would have talked to us some more. And we didn't dare not
to make those thirty points, either. It was an awful tough job, but we
did it with a couple over. We raged like wild beasts. We scared those
gentle Normalites out of their boots. I can't imagine how we ever got it
into our heads that they could play football, anyway. When it was all
over we went back to the gymnasium feeling righteously triumphant, and
had another hour with Bost in which he took us all apart without
anæsthetics, and showed us how Nature would have done a better job if
she had used a better grade of lumber in our composition.

That day made the Siwash team. The school went wild over the score. Bost
rounded up two or three more good players, and every afternoon he
lashed us around the field with that wire-edged tongue of his. On
Saturdays we played, and oh, how we worked! In the first half we were
afraid of what Bost would say to us when we came off the field. In the
second half we were mad at what he had said. And how he did drive us
down the field in practice! I can remember whole cross sections of his
talk yet:

"Faster, faster, you scows. Line up. Quick! Johnson, are you waiting for
a stone-mason to set you? Snap the ball. Tear into them. Low! Low! Hi-i!
You end, do you think you're the quarter pole in a horse race? Nine men
went past you that time. If you can't touch 'em drop 'em a souvenir
card. Line up. Faster, faster! Oh, thunder, hurry up! If you ran a
funeral, center, the corpse would spoil on your hands. Wow! Fumble! Drop
on that ball. Drop on it! Hogboom, you'd fumble a loving-cup. Use your
hand instead of your jaw to catch that ball. It isn't good to eat.
That's four chances you've had. I could lose two games a day if I had
you all the time. Now try that signal again--low, you linemen; there's
no girls watching you. Snap it; snap it. Great Scott! Say, Hogboom, come
here. When you get that ball, don't think we gave it to you to nurse.
You're supposed to start the same day with the line. We give you that
ball to take forward. Have you got to get a legal permit to start those
legs of yours? You'd make a good vault to store footballs in, but you're
too stationary for a fullback. Now I'll give you one more chance--"

And maybe Hogboom wouldn't go some with that chance!

In a month we had a team that wouldn't have used past Siwash teams to
hold its sweaters. It was mad all the time, and it played the game
carnivorously. Siwash was delirious with joy. The whole school turned
out for practice, and to see those eleven men snapping through signals
up and down the field as fast as an ordinary man could run just
congested us with happiness. You've no idea what a lovely time of the
year autumn is when you can go out after classes and sit on a pine seat
in the soft dusk and watch your college team pulling off end runs in as
pretty formation as if they were chorus girls, while you discuss lazily
with your friends just how many points it is going to run up on the
neighboring schools. I never expect to be a Captain of Industry, but it
couldn't make me feel any more contented or powerful or complacent than
to be a busted-up scrub in Siwash, with a team like that to watch. I'm
pretty sure of that.

But, happy as we were, Bost wasn't nearly content. He had ideals. I
believe one of them must have been to run that team through a couple of
brick flats without spoiling the formation. Nothing satisfied him. He
was particularly distressed about the fullback. Hogboom was a good
fellow and took signal practice perfectly, but he was no fiend. He
lacked the vivacity of a real, first-class Bengal tiger. He wouldn't
eat any one alive. He'd run until he was pulled down, but you never
expected him to explode in the midst of seven hostiles and ricochet down
the field for forty yards. He never jumped over two men and on to
another, and he never dodged two ways at once and laid out three men
with stiff arms on his way to the goal. It wasn't his style. He was good
for two and a half yards every time, but that didn't suit Bost. He was
after statistics, and what does a three-yard buck amount to when you
want 70 to 0 scores?

The result of this dissatisfaction was Ole Skjarsen. Late in September
Bost disappeared for three days and came back leading Ole by a rope--at
least, he was towing him by an old carpet-bag when we sighted him. Bost
found him in a lumber camp, he afterward told us, and had to explain to
him what a college was before he would quit his job. He thought it was
something good to eat at first, I believe. Ole was a timid young
Norwegian giant, with a rick of white hair and a reënforced concrete
physique. He escaped from his clothes in all directions, and was so
green and bashful that you would have thought we were cannibals from the
way he shied at us--though, as that was the year the bright hat-ribbons
came in, I can't blame him. He wasn't like anything we had ever seen
before in college. He was as big as a carthorse, as graceful as a dray
and as meek as a missionary. He had a double width smile and a thin
little old faded voice that made you think you could tip him over and
shine your shoes on him with impunity. But I wouldn't have tried it for
a month's allowance. His voice and his arms didn't harmonize worth a
cent. They were as big as ordinary legs--those arms, and they ended in
hands that could have picked up a football and mislaid it among their
fingers.

No wonder Ole was a sensation. He didn't look exactly like football
material to us, I'll admit. He seemed more especially designed for light
derrick work. But we trusted Bost implicitly by that time and we gave
him a royal reception. We crowded around him as if he had been a T. R.
capture straight from Africa. Everybody helped him register third prep,
with business-college extras. Then we took him out, harnessed him in
football armor, and set to work to teach him the game.

Bost went right to work on Ole in a businesslike manner. He tossed him
the football and said: "Catch it." Ole watched it sail past and then
tore after it like a pup retrieving a stick. He got it in a few minutes
and brought it back to where Bost was raving.

"See here, you overgrown fox terrier," he shouted, "catch it on the fly.
Here!" He hurled it at him.

"Aye ent seen no fly," said Ole, allowing the ball to pass on as he
conversed.

"You cotton-headed Scandinavian cattleship ballast, catch that ball in
your arms when I throw it to you, and don't let go of it!" shrieked
Bost, shooting it at him again.

"Oll right," said Ole patiently. He cornered the ball after a short
struggle and stood hugging it faithfully.

"Toss it back, toss it back!" howled Bost, jumping up and down.

"Yu tal me to hold it," said Ole reproachfully, hugging it tighter than
ever.

"Drop it, you Mammoth Cave of ignorance!" yelled Bost. "If I had your
head I'd sell it for cordwood. Drop it!"

Ole dropped the ball placidly. "Das ban fule game," he smiled dazedly.
"Aye ent care for it. Eny faller got a Yewsharp?"

That was the opening chapter of Ole's instruction. The rest were just
like it. You had to tell him to do a thing. You then had to show him how
to do it. You then had to tell him how to stop doing it. After that you
had to explain that he wasn't to refrain forever--just until he had to
do it again. Then you had to persuade him to do it again. He was as
good-natured as a lost puppy, and just as hard to reason with. In three
nights Bost was so hoarse that he couldn't talk. He had called Ole
everything in the dictionary that is fit to print; and the knowledge
that Ole didn't understand more than a hundredth part of it, and didn't
mind that, was wormwood to his soul.

For all that, we could see that if any one could teach Ole the game he
would make a fine player. He was as hard as flint and so fast on his
feet that we couldn't tackle him any more than we could have tackled a
jack-rabbit. He learned to catch the ball in a night, and as for
defense--his one-handed catches of flying players would have made a
National League fielder envious. But with all of it he was perfectly
useless. You had to start him, stop him, back him, speed him up,
throttle him down and run him off the field just as if he had been a
close-coupled, next year's model scootcart. If we could have rigged up a
driver's seat and chauffeured Ole, it would have been all right. But
every other method of trying to get him to understand what he was
expected to do was a failure. He just grinned, took orders, executed
them, and waited for more. When a two-hundred-and-twenty-pound man takes
a football, wades through eleven frantic scrubs, shakes them all off,
and then stops dead with a clear field to the goal before him--because
his instructions ran out when he shook the last scrub--you can be
pardoned for feeling hopeless about him.

That was what happened the day before the Muggledorfer game. Bost had
been working Ole at fullback all evening. He and the captain had steered
him up and down the field as carefully as if he had been a sea-going
yacht. It was a wonderful sight. Ole was under perfect control. He
advanced the ball five yards, ten yards, or twenty at command. Nothing
could stop him. The scrubs represented only so many doormats to him.
Every time he made a play he stopped at the latter end of it for
instructions.

When he stopped the last time, with nothing before him but the goal, and
asked placidly, "Vere skoll I take das ball now, Master Bost?" I thought
the coach would expire of the heat. He positively steamed with
suppressed emotion. He swelled and got purple about the face. We were
alarmed and were getting ready to hoop him like a barrel when he found
his tongue at last.

"You pale-eyed, prehistoric mudhead," he spluttered, "I've spent a week
trying to get through that skull lining of yours. It's no use, you field
boulder. Where do you keep your brains? Give me a chance at them. I just
want to get into them one minute and stir them up with my finger. To
think that I have to use you to play football when they are paying five
dollars and a half for ox meat in Kansas City. Skjarsen, do you know
anything at all?"

"Aye ban getting gude eddication," said Ole serenely. "Aye tank I ban
college faller purty sune, I don't know. I like I skoll understand all
das har big vorts yu make."

"You'll understand them, I don't think," moaned Bost. "You couldn't
understand a swift kick in the ribs. You are a fool. Understand that,
muttonhead?"

Ole understood. "Vy for yu call me fule?" he said indignantly. "Aye du
yust vat you say."

"Ar-r-r-r!" bubbled Bost, walking around himself three or four times.
"You do just what I say! Of course you do. Did I tell you to stop in the
middle of the field? What would Muggledorfer do to you if you stopped
there?"

"Yu ent tal me to go on," said Ole sullenly. "Aye go on, Aye gass, pooty
qveek den."

"You bet you'll go on," said Bost. "Now, look here, you sausage
material, to-morrow you play fullback. You stop everything that comes at
you from the other side. Hear? You catch the ball when it comes to you.
Hear? And when they give you the ball you take it, and don't you dare to
stop with it. Get that? Can I get that into your head without a drill
and a blast? If you dare to stop with that ball I'll ship you back to
the lumber camp in a cattle car. Stop in the middle of the field--Ow!"

But at this point we took Bost away.

The next afternoon we dressed Ole up in his armor--he invariably got it
on wrong side out if we didn't help him--and took him out to the field.
We confidently expected to promenade all over Muggledorfer--their coach
was an innocent child beside Bost--and that was the reason why Ole was
going to play. It didn't matter much what he did.

Ole was just coming to a boil when we got him into his clothes. Bost's
remarks had gotten through his hide at last. He was pretty slow, Ole
was, but he had begun getting mad the night before and had kept at the
job all night and all morning. By afternoon he was seething, mostly in
Norwegian. The injustice of being called a muttonhead all week for not
obeying orders, and then being called a mudhead for stopping for orders,
churned his soul, to say nothing of his language. He only averaged one
English word in three, as he told us on the way out that to-day he was
going to do exactly as he had been told or fill a martyr's grave--only
that wasn't the way he put it.

The Muggledorfers were a pruny-looking lot. We had the game won when our
team came out and glared at them. Bost had filled most of the positions
with regular young mammoths, and when you dressed them up in football
armor they were enough to make a Dreadnought a little nervous. The
Muggleses kicked off to our team, and for a few plays we plowed along
five or ten yards at a time. Then Ole was given the ball. He went
twenty-five yards. Any other man would have been crushed to earth in
five. He just waded through the middle of the line and went down the
field, a moving mass of wriggling men. It was a wonderful play. They
disinterred him at last and he started straight across the field for
Bost.

"Aye ent mean to stop, Master Bost," he shouted. "Dese fallers har, dey
squash me down--"

We hauled him into line and went to work again. Ole had performed so
well that the captain called his signal again. This time I hope I may be
roasted in a subway in July if Ole didn't run twenty-five yards with
four Muggledorfer men hanging on his legs. We stood up and yelled until
our teeth ached. It took about five minutes to get Ole dug out, and then
he started for Bost again.

"Honest, Master Bost, Aye ent mean to stop," he said imploringly. "Aye
yust tal you, dese fallers ban devils. Aye fule dem naxt time--"

"Line up and shut up," the captain shouted. The ball wasn't over twenty
yards from the line, and as a matter of course the quarter shot it back
to Ole. He put his head down, gave one mad-bull plunge, laid a windrow
of Muggledorfer players out on either side, and shot over the goal line
like a locomotive.

We rose up to cheer a few lines, but stopped to stare. Ole didn't stop
at the goal line. He didn't stop at the fence. He put up one hand,
hurdled it, and disappeared across the campus like a young whirlwind.

"He doesn't know enough to stop!" yelled Bost, rushing up to the fence.
"Hustle up, you fellows, and bring him back!"

[Illustration: "Aye ent care to stop," he said "Aye kent suit you,
Master Bost"
                    _Page 24_]

Three or four of us jumped the fence, but it was a hopeless game. Ole
was disappearing up the campus and across the street. The Muggledorfer
team was nonplussed and sort of indignant. To be bowled over by a
cyclone, and then to have said cyclone break up the game by running away
with the ball was to them a new idea in football. It wasn't to those of
us who knew Ole, however. One of us telephoned down to the _Leader_
office where Hinckley, an old team man, worked, and asked him to head
off Ole and send him back. Muggledorfer kindly consented to call time,
and we started after the fugitive ourselves.

Ten minutes later we met Hinckley downtown. He looked as if he had had a
slight argument with a thirteen-inch shell. He was also mad.

"What was that you asked me to stop?" he snorted, pinning himself
together. "Was it a gorilla or a high explosive? When did you fellows
begin importing steam rollers for the team? I asked him to stop. I
ordered him to stop. Then I went around in front of him to stop him--and
he ran right over me. I held on for thirty yards, but that's no way to
travel. I could have gone to the next town just as well, though. What
sort of a game is this, and where is that tow-headed holy terror bound
for?"

We gave the answer up, but we couldn't give up Ole. He was too valuable
to lose. How to catch him was the sticker. An awful uproar in the street
gave us an idea. It was Ted Harris in the only auto in town--one of the
earliest brands of sneeze vehicles. In a minute more four of us were in,
and Ted was chiveying the thing up the street.

If you've never chased an escaping fullback in one of those pioneer
automobiles you've got something coming. Take it all around, a good,
swift man, running all the time, could almost keep ahead of one. We
pumped up a tire, fixed a wire or two, and cranked up a few times; and
the upshot of it was we were two miles out on the state road before we
caught sight of Ole.

He was trotting briskly when we caught up with him, the ball under his
arm, and that patient, resigned expression on his face that he always
had when Bost cussed him. "Stop, Ole," I yelled; "this is no Marathon.
Come back. Climb in here with us."

Ole shook his head and let out a notch of speed.

"Stop, you mullethead," yelled Simpson above the roar of the auto--those
old machines could roar some, too. "What do you mean by running off with
our ball? You're not supposed to do hare-and-hounds in football."

Ole kept on running. We drove the car on ahead, stopped it across the
road, and jumped out to stop him. When the attempt was over three of us
picked up the fourth and put him aboard. Ole had tramped on us and had
climbed over the auto.

Force wouldn't do, that was plain. "Where are you going, Ole?" we
pleaded as we tore along beside him.

"Aye ent know," he panted, laboring up a hill; "das ban fule game, Aye
tenk."

"Come on back and play some more," we urged. "Bost won't like it, your
running all over the country this way."

"Das ban my orders," panted Ole. "Aye ent no fule, yentlemen; Aye know
ven Aye ban doing right teng. Master Bost he say 'Keep on running!' Aye
gass I run till hal freeze on top. Aye ent know why. Master Bost he
know, I tenk."

"This is awful," said Lambert, the manager of the team. "He's taken
Bost literally again--the chump. He'll run till he lands up in those
pine woods again. And that ball cost the association five dollars.
Besides, we want him. What are we going to do?"

"I know," I said. "We're going back to get Bost. I guess the man who
started him can stop him."

We left Ole still plugging north and ran back to town. The game was
still hanging fire. Bost was tearing his hair. Of course, the
Muggledorfer fellows could have insisted on playing, but they weren't
anxious. Ole or no Ole, we could have walked all over them, and they
knew it. Besides, they were having too much fun with Bost. They were
sitting around, Indian-like, in their blankets, and every three minutes
their captain would go and ask Bost with perfect politeness whether he
thought they had better continue the game there or move it on to the
next town in time to catch his fullback as he came through.

"Of course, we are in no hurry," he would explain pleasantly; "we're
just here for amusement, anyway; and it's as much fun watching you try
to catch your players as it is to get scored on. Why don't you hobble
them, Mr. Bost? A fifty-yard rope wouldn't interfere much with that gay
young Percheron of yours, and it would save you lots of time rounding
him up. Do you have to use a lariat when you put his harness on?"

Fancy Bost having to take all that conversation, with no adequate reply
to make. When I got there he was blue in the face. It didn't take him
half a second to decide what to do. Telling the captain of the Siwash
team to go ahead and play if Muggledorfer insisted, and on no account to
use that 32 double-X play except on first downs, he jumped into the
machine and we started for Ole.

There were no speed records in those days. Wouldn't have made any
difference if there were. Harris just turned on all the juice his old
double-opposed motor could soak up, and when we hit the wooden crossings
on the outskirts of town we fellows in the tonneau went up so high that
we changed sides coming down. It wasn't over twenty minutes till we
sighted a little cloud of dust just beyond a little town to the north.
Pretty soon we saw it was Ole. He was still doing his six miles per. We
caught up and Bost hopped out, still mad.

"Where in Billy-be-blamed are you going, you human trolley car?" he
spluttered, sprinting along beside Skjarsen. "What do you mean by
breaking up a game in the middle and vamoosing with the ball? Do you
think we're going to win this game on mileage? Turn around, you chump,
and climb into this car."

Ole looked around him sadly. He kept on running as he did. "Aye ent care
to stop," he said. "Aye kent suit you, Master Bost. You tal me Aye skoll
du a teng, den you cuss me for duing et. You tal me not to du a teng and
you cuss me some more den. Aye tenk I yust keep on a-running, lak yu
tal me tu last night. Et ent so hard bein' cussed ven yu ban running."

"I tell you to stop, you potato-top," gasped Bost. By this time he was
fifteen yards behind and losing at every step. He had wasted too much
breath on oratory. We picked him up in the car and set him alongside of
Ole again.

"See here, Ole, I'm tired of this," he said, sprinting up by him again.
"The game's waiting. Come on back. You're making a fool of yourself."

"Eny teng Aye du Aye ban beeg fule," said Ole gloomily. "Aye yust keep
on runnin'. Fallers ent got breath to call me fule ven Aye run. Aye tenk
das best vay."

We picked Bost up again thirty yards behind. Maybe he would have run
better if he hadn't choked so in his conversation. In another minute we
landed him abreast of Ole again. He got out and sprinted for the third
time. He wabbled as he did it.

"Ole," he panted, "I've been mistaken in you. You are all right, Ole. I
never saw a more intelligent fellow. I won't cuss you any more, Ole. If
you'll stop now we'll take you back in an automobile--hold on there a
minute; can't you see I'm all out of breath?"

"Aye ban gude faller, den?" asked Ole, letting out another link of
speed.

"You are a"--puff-puff--"peach, Ole," gasped Bost.
"I'll"--puff-puff--"never cuss you again. Please"--puff-puff--"stop!
Oh, hang it, I'm all in." And Bost sat down in the road.

A hundred yards on we noticed Ole slacken speed. "It's sinking through
his skull," said Harris eagerly. In another minute he had stopped. We
picked up Bost again and ran up to him. He surveyed us long and
critically.

"Das ban qveer masheen," he said finally. "Aye tenk Aye lak Aye skoll be
riding back in it. Aye ent care for das futball game, Aye gass. It ban
tu much running in it."

We took Ole back to town in twenty-two minutes, three chickens, a dog
and a back spring. It was close to five o'clock when he ran out on the
field again. The Muggledorfer team was still waiting. Time was no object
to them. They would only play ten minutes, but in that ten minutes Ole
made three scores. Five substitutes stood back of either goal and asked
him with great politeness to stop as he tore over the line. And he did
it. If any one else had run six miles between halves he would have
stopped a good deal short of the line. But as far as we could see, it
hadn't winded Ole.

Bost went home by himself that night after the game, not stopping even
to assure us that as a team we were beneath his contempt. The next
afternoon he was, if anything, a little more vitriolic than ever--but
not with Ole. Toward the middle of the signal practice he pulled himself
together and touched Ole gently.

[Illustration: He pulled himself together and touched Ole gently
                    _Page 26_]

"My dear Mr. Skjarsen," he said apologetically, "if it will not annoy
you too much, would you mind running the same way the rest of the team
does? I don't insist on it, mind you, but it looks so much better to the
audience, you know."

"Jas," said Ole; "Aye ban fule, Aye gass, but yu ban tu polite to say
it."



CHAPTER II

INITIATING OLE


Were you ever Hamburgered by a real, live college fraternity? I mean,
were you ever initiated into full brotherhood by a Greek-letter society
with the aid of a baseball bat, a sausage-making machine, a stick of
dynamite and a corn-sheller? What's that? You say you belong to the
Up-to-Date Wood-choppers and have taken the josh degree in the Noble
Order of Prong-Horned Wapiti? Forget it. Those aren't initiations. They
are rest cures. I went into one of those societies which give horse-play
initiations for middle-aged daredevils last year and was bored to death
because I forgot to bring my knitting. They are stiff enough for fat
business men who never do anything more exciting than to fall over the
lawn mower in the cellar once a year; but, compared with a genuine,
eighteen-donkey-power college frat initiation with a Spanish Inquisition
attachment, the little degree teams, made up of grandfathers, feel like
a slap on the wrist delivered by a young lady in frail health.

Mind you, I'm not talking about the baby-ribbon affairs that the college
boys use nowadays. It doesn't seem to be the fashion to grease the
landscape with freshmen any more. Initiations are getting to be as safe
and sane as an ice-cream festival in a village church. When a frat wants
to submit a neophyte to a trying ordeal it sends him out on the campus
to climb a tree, or makes him go to a dance in evening clothes with a
red necktie on. A boy who can roll a peanut half a mile with a
toothpick, or can fish all morning in a pail of water in front of the
college chapel without getting mad and trying to thrash any one is
considered to be lion-hearted enough to ornament any frat. These are
mollycoddle times in all departments. I'm glad I'm out of college and am
catching street cars in the rush hours. That is about the only job left
that feels like the good old times in college when muscles were made to
jar some one else with.

Eight or ten years ago, when a college fraternity absorbed a freshman,
the job was worth talking about. There was no half-way business about
it. The freshman could tell at any stage of the game that something was
being done to him. They just ate him alive, that was all. Why, at
Siwash, where I was lap-welded into the Eta Bita Pies, any fraternity
which initiated a candidate and left enough of him to appear in chapel
the next morning was the joke of the school. Even the girls'
fraternities gave it the laugh. The girls used to do a little quiet
initiating themselves, and when they received a sister into membership
you could generally follow her mad career over the town by a trail of
hairpins, "rats" and little fragments of dressgoods.

Those were the days when the pledgling of a good high-pressure frat
wrote to his mother the night before he was taken in and telegraphed her
when he found himself alive in the morning. There used to be
considerable rivalry between the frats at Siwash in the matter of giving
a freshman a good, hospitable time. I remember when the Sigh Whoopsilons
hung young Allen from the girder of an overhead railroad crossing, and
let the switch engines smoke him up for two hours as they passed
underneath, there was a good deal of jealousy among the rest of us who
hadn't thought of it. The Alfalfa Delts went them one better by tying
roller skates to the shoulders and hips of a big freshman football star
and hauling him through the main streets of Jonesville on his back,
behind an automobile, and the Chi Yi's covered a candidate with plaster
of Paris, with blow-holes for his nose, sculptured him artistically, and
left him before the college chapel on a pedestal all night. The Delta
Kappa Sonofaguns set fire to their house once by shooting Roman candles
at a row of neophytes in the cellar, and we had to turn out at one A. M.
one winter morning to help the Delta Flushes dig a freshman out of their
chimney. They had been trying to let him down into the fireplace, and
when he got stuck they had poked at him with a clothes pole until they
had mussed him up considerably. This just shows you what a gay life the
young scholar led in the days when every ritual had claws on, and there
was no such thing as soothing syrup in the equipment of a college.

Of all the frats at Siwash the Eta Bita Pies, when I was in college,
were preëminent in the art of near-killing freshmen. We used to call our
initiation "A little journey to the pearly gates," and once or twice it
looked for a short time as if the victim had mislaid his return ticket.
Treat yourself to an election riot, a railway collision and a subway
explosion, all in one evening, and you will get a rather sketchy idea of
what we aimed at. I don't mean, of course, that we ever killed any one.
There is no real danger in an initiation, you know, if the initiate does
exactly as he is told and the members don't get careless and something
that wasn't expected doesn't happen--as did when we tied Tudor Snyder to
the south track while an express went by on the north track, and then
had the time of our young lives getting him off ahead of a wild freight
which we hadn't counted on. All we ever aimed at was to make the
initiate so thankful to get through alive that he would love Eta Bita
Pie forever, and I must say we usually succeeded. It is wonderful what a
young fellow will endure cheerfully for the sake of passing it on to
some one else the next year. I remember I was pretty mad when my Eta
Bita Pie brethren headed me up in a barrel and rolled me downhill into a
creek without taking the trouble to remove all the nails. It seemed like
wanton carelessness. But long before my nose was out of splints and my
hide would hold water I was perfecting our famous "Lover's Leap" for the
next year's bunch. That was our greatest triumph. There was an abandoned
rock quarry north of town with thirty feet of water in the bottom and a
fifty-foot drop to the water. By means of a long beam and a system of
pulleys we could make a freshman walk the plank and drop off into the
water in almost perfect safety, providing the ropes didn't break. It
created a sensation, and the other frats were mad with jealousy. We took
every man we wanted the next fall before the authorities put a stop to
the scheme. That shows you just how repugnant the idea of being
initiated is to the green young collegian.

Of course, fraternity initiations are supposed to be conducted for the
amusement of the chapter and not of the candidate. But you can't always
entirely tell what will happen, especially if the victim is husky and
unimpressionable. Sometimes he does a little initiating himself. And
that reminds me that I started out to tell a story and not to give a
lecture on the polite art of making veal salad. Did I ever tell you of
the time when we initiated Ole Skjarsen into Eta Bita Pie, and how the
ceremony backfired and very nearly blew us all into the discard? No?
Well, don't get impatient and look in the back of the book. I'll tell it
now and cut as many corners as I can.

[Illustration: There wasn't a college anywhere around us that didn't
have Ole's hoofmarks all over its pride
                    _Page 33_]

As I have told you before, Ole Skjarsen was a little slow in grasping
the real beauties of football science. It took him some time to uncoil
his mind from the principles of woodchopping and concentrate it on the
full duty of man in a fullback's position. He nearly drove us to a
sanitarium during the process, but when he once took hold, mercy me, how
he did progress from hither to yon over the opposition! He was the
wonder fullback of those times, and at the end of three years there
wasn't a college anywhere that didn't have Ole's hoofmarks all over its
pride. Oh, he was a darling. To see him jumping sideways down a football
field with the ball under his arm, landing on some one of the opposition
at every jump and romping over the goal line with tacklers hanging to
him like streamers would have made you want to vote for him for
Governor. Ole was the greatest man who ever came to Siwash. Prexy had
always been considered some personage by the outside world, but he was
only a bump in the background when Ole was around.

Of course we all loved Ole madly, but for all that he didn't make a
frat. He didn't, for the same reason that a rhinoceros doesn't get
invited to garden parties. He didn't seem to fit the part. Not only his
clothes, but also his haircuts were hand-me-down. He regarded a fork as
a curiosity. His language was a sort of a head-on collision between
Norwegian and English in which very few words had come out undamaged. In
social conversation he was out of bounds nine minutes out of ten, and it
kept three men busy changing the subject when he was in full swing. He
could dodge eleven men and a referee on the football field without
trying, but put him in a forty by fifty room with one vase in it, and he
couldn't dodge it to save his life.

No, he just naturally didn't fit the part, and up to his senior year no
fraternity had bid him. This grieved Ole so that he retired from
football just before the Kiowa game on which all our young hearts were
set, and before he would consent to go back and leave some more of his
priceless foot-tracks on the opposition we had to pledge him to three of
our proudest fraternities. Talk of wedding a favorite daughter to the
greasy villain in the melodrama in order to save the homestead! No
crushed father, with a mortgage hanging over him in the third act, could
have felt one-half so badly as we Eta Bita Pies did when we had pledged
Ole and realized that all the rest of the year we would have to climb
over him in our beautiful, beamed-ceiling lounging-room and parade him
before the world as a much-loved brother.

But the job had to be done, and all three frats took a melancholy
pleasure in arranging the details of the initiation. We decided to make
it a three-night demonstration of all that the Siwash frats had learned
in the art of imitating dynamite and other disintegrants. The Alfalfa
Delts were to get first crack at him. They were to be followed on the
second night by the Chi Yi Sighs, who were to make him a brother, dead
or alive. On the third night we of Eta Bita Pie were to take the remains
and decorate them with our fraternity pin after ceremonies in which
being kicked by a mule would only be considered a two-minute recess.

We fellows knew that when it came to initiating Ole we would have to do
the real work. The other frats couldn't touch it. They might scratch him
up a bit, but they lacked the ingenuity, the enthusiasm--I might say the
poetic temperament--to make a good job of it. We determined to put on an
initiation which would make our past efforts seem like the effort of an
old ladies' home to start a rough-house. It was a great pleasure, I
assure you, to plan that initiation. We revised our floor work and added
some cellar and garret and ceiling and second-story work to it. We began
the program with the celebrated third degree and worked gradually from
that up to the twenty-third degree, with a few intervals of simple
assault and battery for breathing spells. When we had finished doping
out the program we shook hands all around. It was a masterpiece. It
would have made Battenberg lace out of a steam boiler.

Ole was initiated into the Alfalfa Delts on a Wednesday night. We heard
echoes of it from our front porch. The next morning only three of the
Alfalfa Delts appeared at chapel, while Ole was out at six A. M.,
roaming about the campus with the Alfalfa Delt pin on his necktie. The
next night the Chi Yi Sighs took him on for one hundred and seventeen
rounds in their brand new lodge, which had a sheet-iron initiation den.
The whole thing was a fizzle. When we looked Ole over the next morning
we couldn't find so much as a scratch on him. He was wearing the Chi Yi
pin beside the Alfalfa Delt pin, and he was as happy as a baby with a
bottle of ink. There were nine broken window-lights in the Chi Yi lodge,
and we heard in a roundabout way that they called in the police about
three A. M. to help them explain to Ole that the initiation was over.
That's the kind of a trembling neophyte Ole was. But we just giggled to
ourselves. Anybody could break up a Chi Yi initiation, and the Alfalfa
Delts were a set of narrow-chested snobs with automobile callouses
instead of muscles. We ate a hasty dinner on Friday evening and set all
the scenery for the big scrunch. Then we put on our old clothes and
waited for Ole to walk into our parlor.

He wasn't due until nine, but about eight o'clock he came creaking up
the steps and dented the door with his large knuckles in a bashful way.
He looked larger and knobbier than ever and, if anything, more
embarrassed. We led him into the lounging-room in silence, and he sat
down twirling his straw hat. It was October, and he had worn the thing
ever since school opened. Other people who wore straw hats in October
get removed from under them more or less violently; but, somehow, no one
had felt called upon to maltreat Ole. We hated that hat, however, and
decided to begin the evening's work on it.

"Your hat, Mr. Skjarsen," said Bugs Wilbur in majestic tones.

Ole reached the old ruin out. Wilbur took it and tossed it into the
grate. Ole upset four or five of us who couldn't get out of the way and
rescued the hat, which was blazing merrily.

"Ent yu gat no sanse?" he roared angrily. "Das ban a gude hat." He
looked at it gloomily. "Et ban spoiled now," he growled, tossing the
remains into a waste-paper basket. "Yu ban purty fallers. Vat for yu do
dat?"

The basket was full of papers and things. In about four seconds it was
all ablaze. Wilbur tried to go over and choke it off, but Ole pushed him
back with one forefinger.

"Yust stay avay," he growled. "Das basket ent costing some more as my
hat, I gass."

We stood around and watched the basket burn. We also watched a curtain
blaze up and the finish on a nice mahogany desk crack and blister. It
was all very humorous. The fire kindly went out of its own accord, and
some one tiptoed around and opened the windows in a timid sort of way.
It was a very successful initiation so far--only we were the neophytes.

"This won't do," muttered "Allie" Bangs, our president. He got up and
went over to Ole. "Mr. Skjarsen," he said severely, "you are here to be
initiated into the awful mysteries of Eta Bita Pie. It is not fitting
that you should enter her sacred boundaries in an unfettered condition.
Submit to the brethren, that they may blindfold you and bind you for
the ordeals to come." Gee, but we used to use hand-picked language when
we were unsheathing our claws!

Ole growled. "Ol rite," he said. "But Aye tal yu ef yu fallers burn das
har west lak yu burn ma hat I skoll raise ruffhaus like deekins!"

We tied his hands behind him with several feet of good stout rope and
hobbled him about the ankles with a dog chain. Then we blindfolded him
and put a pillowslip over his head for good measure. Things began to
look brighter. Even a demon fullback has to have one or two limbs
working in order to accomplish anything. When all was fast Bangs gave
Ole a preliminary kick. "Now, brethren," he roared, "bring on the
Macedonian guards and give them the neophyte!"

Now I'm not revealing any real initiation secrets, mind you, and maybe
what I'm telling you didn't exactly happen. But you can be perfectly
sure that something just as bad did happen every time. For an hour we
abused that two hundred and twenty pounds of gristle and hide. It was as
much fun as roughhousing a two-ton safe. We rolled him downstairs. He
broke out sixty dollars' worth of balustrade on the way and he didn't
seem to mind it at all. We tried to toss him in a blanket. Ever have a
two-hundred-and-twenty-pound man land on you coming down from the
ceiling? We got tired of that. We made him play automobile. Ever play
automobile? They tie roller skates and an automobile horn on you and
push you around into the furniture, just the way a real automobile runs
into things. We broke a table, five chairs, a French window, a
one-hundred-dollar vase and seven shins. We didn't even interest Ole.
When a man has plowed through leather-covered football players for three
years his head gets used to hitting things. Also his heels will fly out
no matter how careful you are. We took him into the basement and
performed our famous trick of boiling the candidate in oil. Of course we
wanted to scare him. He accommodated us. He broke away and hopped
stiff-legged all over the room. That wasn't so bad, but, confound it, he
hopped on us most of the time! How would you like to initiate a bronze
statue that got scared and hopped on you?

We got desperate. We threw aside the formality of explaining the deep
significance of each action and just assaulted Ole with everything in
the house. We prodded him with furnace tools and thumped him with
cordwood and rolling-pins and barrel-staves and shovels. We walked over
him, a dozen at a time. And all the time we were getting it worse than
he was. He didn't exactly fight, but whenever his elbows twitched some
fellow's face would happen to be in the way, and he couldn't move his
knee without getting it tangled in some one's ribs. You could hear the
thunders of the assault and the shrieks of the wounded for a block.

At the end of an hour we were positively all in. There weren't three of
us unwounded. The house was a wreck. Wilbur had a broken nose. "Chick"
Struthers' kneecap hurt. "Lima" Bean's ribs were telescoped, and there
wasn't a good shin in the house. We quit in disgust and sat around
looking at Ole. He was sitting around, too. He happened to be sitting on
Bangs, who was yelling for help. But we didn't feel like starting any
relief expedition.

Ole was some rumpled, and his clothes looked as if they had been fed
into a separator. But he was intact, as far as we could see. He was
still tied and blindfolded, and I hope to be buried alive in a
branch-line town if he wasn't getting bored.

"Vat fur yu qvit?" he asked. "It ent fun setting around har."

Then Petey Simmons, who had been taking a minor part in the assault in
order to give his wheels full play, rose and beckoned the crowd outside.
We left Ole and clustered around him.

"Now, this won't do at all," he said. "Are we going to let Eta Bita Pie
be made the laughing-stock of the college? If we can't initiate that
human quartz mill by force let's do it by strategy. I've got a plan. You
just let me have Ole and one man for an hour and I'll make him so glad
to get back to the house that he'll eat out of our hands."

We were dead ready to turn the job over to Petey, though we hated to see
him put his head in the lion's mouth, so to speak. I hated it worse than
any of the others because he picked me for his assistant. We went in
and found Ole dozing in the corner. Petey prodded him. "Get up!" he
said.

Ole got up cheerfully. Petey took the dog chain off of his legs. Then he
threw his sub-cellar voice into gear.

"Skjarsen," he rumbled, "you have passed right well the first test of
our noble order. You have faced the hideous dangers which were in
reality but shams to prove your faith, and you have borne your
sufferings patiently, thus proving your meekness."

I let a couple of grins escape into my sweater-sleeve. Oh, yes, Ole had
been meek all right.

"It remains for you to prove your desire," said Petey in curdled tones.
"Listen!" He gave the Eta Bita Pie whistle. We had the best whistle in
college. It was six notes--a sort of insidious, inviting thing that you
could slide across two blocks, past all manner of barbarians, and into a
frat brother's ear without disturbing any one at all. Petey gave it
several times. "Now, Skjarsen," he said, "you are to follow that
whistle. Let no obstacle discourage you. Let no barrier stop you. If you
can prove your loyalty by following that whistle through the outside
world and back to the altar of Eta Bita Pie we will ask no more of you.
Come on!"

We tiptoed out of the cellar and whistled. Ole followed us up the steps.
That is, he did on the second attempt. On the first he fell down with
melodious thumps. We hugged each other, slipped behind a tree and
whistled again.

Ole charged across the yard and into the tree. The line held. I heard
him say something in Norwegian that sounded secular. By that time we
were across the street. There was a low railing around the parking, and
when we whistled again Ole walked right into the railing. The line held
again.

Oh, I'll tell you that Petey boy was a wonder at getting up ideas. Think
of it! Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Christopher Columbus, old Bill
Archimedes and all the rest of the wise guys had overlooked this simple
little discovery of how to make a neophyte initiate himself. It was too
good to be true. We held a war dance of pure delight, and we whistled
some more. We got behind stone walls, and whistled. We climbed
embankments, and whistled. We slid behind blackberry bushes and ash
piles and across ditches and over hedge fences, and whistled. We were so
happy we could hardly pucker. Think of it! There was Ole Skjarsen, the
most uncontrollable force in Nature, following us like a yellow pup with
his dinner three days overdue. It was as fascinating as guiding a
battleship by wireless.

We slipped across a footbridge over Cedar Creek, and whistled. Ole
missed the bridge by nine yards. There isn't much water in Cedar Creek,
but what there is is strong. It took Ole fifteen minutes to climb the
other bank, owing to a beautiful collection of old barrel-hoops,
corsets, crockery and empty tomato cans which decorated the spot. Did
you ever see a blindfolded man, with his hands tied behind his back,
trying to climb over a city dump? No? Of course not, any more than you
have seen a green elephant. But it's a fine sight, I assure you. When
Ole got out of the creek we whistled him dexterously into a barnyard and
right into the maw of a brindle bull-pup with a capacity of one small
man in two bites--we being safe on the other side of the fence, beyond
the reach of the chain. Maybe that was mean, but Eta Bita Pie is not to
be trifled with when she is aroused. Anyway, the bull got the worst of
it. He only got one bite. Ole kicked in the barn door on the first try,
and demolished a corn-sheller on the second; but on the third he hit the
pup squarely abeam and dropped a beautiful goal with him. We went around
to see the dog the next day. He looked quite natural. You would almost
think he was alive.

It was here that we began to smell trouble. I had my suspicions when we
whistled again. There was a pretty substantial fence around that
barnyard, but Ole didn't wait to find the gate.

He came through the fence not very far from us. He was conversing under
that mangled pillowslip, and we heard fragments sounding like this:

"Purty soon Aye gat yu--yu spindle-shank, vite-face, skagaroot-smokin'
dudes! Ugh--ump!"--here he caromed off a tree. "Ven Aye gat das
blindfold off, Aye gat yu--yu Baked-Pie galoots!--Ugh!
Wow!"--barbed-wire fence. "Vistle sum more, yu vide-trousered polekats.
Aye make yu vistle, Aye bet yu, rite avay! Up--pllp--pllp!" That's the
kind of noise a man makes when he walks into a horse-trough at full
speed.

"Gee!" said Petey nervously. "I guess we've given him enough. He's
getting sort of peevish. I don't believe in being too cruel. Let's take
him back now. You don't suppose he can get his hands loose, do you?"

I didn't know. I wished I did. Of course, when you watch a lion trying
to get at you from behind a fairly strong cage you feel perfectly safe,
but you feel safer when you are somewhere else, just the same. We got
out on the pavement and gave a gentle whistle.

"Aye har yu!" roared Ole, coming through a chicken yard. "Aye har yu,
you leetle Baked Pies! Aye gat yu purty soon. Yust vait."

We didn't wait. We put on a little more gasoline and started for the
frat house. We didn't have to whistle any more. Ole was right behind us.
We could hear him thundering on the pavement and pleading with us in
that rich, nutty dialect of his to stop and have our heads pounded on
the bricks.

I shudder yet when I think of all the things he promised to do to us. We
went down that street like a couple of Roman gladiators pacing a hungry
bear, and, by tangling Ole up in the parkings again, managed to get home
a few yards ahead.

There was an atmosphere of arnica and dejection in the house when we got
there. Ill-health seemed to be rampant. "Did you lose him?" asked Bangs
hopefully from behind a big bandage.

"Lose him?" says I with a snort. "Oh, yes, we lost him all right. He
loses just like a foxhound. That's him, falling over the front steps
now. You can stay and entertain him; I'm going upstairs."

Everybody came along. We piled chairs on the stairs and listened while
Ole felt his way over the porch. In about a minute he found the door.
Then he came right in. I had locked the door, but I had neglected to
reënforce it with concrete and boiler iron. Ole wore part of the frame
in with him.

"Come on, yu Baked Pies!" he shouted.

"You're in the wrong house," squeaked that little fool, Jimmy Skelton.

"Yu kent fule me!" said Ole, crashing around the loafing-room. "Aye yust
can tal das haus by har skagaroot smell. Come on, yu leetle fallers! Aye
bet Aye inittyate yu some, tu!"

By this time he had found the stairs and was plowing through the
furniture. We retired to the third floor. When twenty-seven fellows go
up a three-foot stairway at once it necessarily makes some noise. Ole
heard us and kept right on coming.

We grabbed a bureau and a bed and barricaded the staircase. There was a
ladder to the attic. I was the last man up and my heart was giving my
ribs all kinds of massage treatment before I got up. We hauled up the
ladder just as Ole kicked the bureau downstairs, and then we watched him
charge over our beautiful third-floor dormitory, leaving ruin in his
wake.

Maybe he would have been satisfied with breaking the furniture. But, of
course, a few of us had to sneeze. Ole hunted those sneezes all over the
third floor. He couldn't reach them, but he sat down on the wreck
underneath them.

"Aye ent know vere yu fallers ban," he said, "but Aye kin vait. Aye har
yu, yu Baked Pies! Aye gat yu yet, by yimminy! Yust come on down ven yu
ban ready."

Oh, yes, we were ready--I don't think. It was a perfectly lovely
predicament. Here was the Damma Yappa chapter of Eta Bita Pie penned up
in a deucedly-cold attic with one lone initiate guarding the trapdoor.
Nice story for the college to tell when the police rescued us! Nice end
of our reputation as the best neophyte jugglers in the school! Makes me
shiver now to think of it.

We sat around in that garret and listened to the clock strike in the
library tower across the campus. At eleven o'clock Ole promised to kill
the first man who came down. That bait caught no fish. At twelve he
begged for the privilege of kicking us out of our own house, one by one.
At one o'clock he remarked that, while it was pretty cold, it was much
colder in Norway, where he came from, and that, as we would freeze
first, we might as well come down.

At two o'clock we were all stiff. At three we were kicking the plaster
off of the joists, trying to keep from freezing to death. At four a
bunch of Sophomores were all for throwing Petey Simmons down as a
sacrifice. Petey talked them out of it. Petey could talk a stone dog
into wagging its tail.

We sat in that garret from ten P. M. until the year after the great
pyramid wore down to the ground. At least that was the length of time
that seemed to pass. It must have been about five o'clock when Petey
stopped kicking his feet on the chimney and said:

"Well, fellows, I have an idea. It may work or it may not, but--"

"Shut up, you mental desert!" some one growled. "Another of your fine
ideas will wreck this frat."

"As I was saying," continued Petey cheerfully, "it may not succeed, but
it will not hurt any one but me if it doesn't. I'm going to be the
Daniel in this den. But first I want the officers of the chapter to come
up around the scuttle-hole with me."

Five of us crept over to the hole and looked down. "Aye har yu, yu
leetle Baked Pies!" said Ole, waking in an instant. "Yust come on down.
Aye ban vaiting long enough to smash yu!"

"Mr. Skjarsen," began Petey in the regular dark-lantern voice that all
secret societies use--"Mr. Skjarsen--for as such we must still call
you--the final test is over. You have acquitted yourself nobly. You have
been faithful to the end. You have stood your vigil unflinchingly. You
have followed the call of Eta Bita Pie over every obstacle and through
every suffering."

"Aye ban following him leetle furder, if Aye had ladder," said Ole in a
bloodthirsty voice. "Ven Aye ban getting at yu, Aye play hal vid yu
Baked Pies!"

"And now," said Petey, ignoring the interruption, "the final ceremony is
at hand. Do not fear. Your trials are over. In the dark recesses of this
secret chamber above you we have discussed your bearing in the trials
that have beset you. It has pleased us. You have been found worthy to
continue toward the high goal. Ole Skjarsen, we are now ready to receive
you into full membership."

"Come rite on!" snorted Ole. "Aye receeve yu into membership all rite.
Yust come on down."

"It won't work, Petey," Bangs groaned. Petey kicked his shins as a sign
to shut up.

"Ole Skjarsen, son of Skjar Oleson, stand up!" he said, sinking his
voice another story.

Ole got up. It was plain to be seen that he was getting interested.

"The president of this powerful order will now administer the oath,"
said Petey, shoving Bangs forward.

So there, at five A. M., with the whole chapter treed in a garret, and
the officers, the leading lights of Siwash, crouching around a scuttle
and shivering their teeth loose, we initiated Ole Skjarsen. It was
impressive, I can tell you. When it came to the part where the neophyte
swears to protect a brother, even if he has to wade in blood up to his
necktie, Bangs bore down beautifully and added a lot of extra frills.
The last words were spoken. Ole was an Eta Bita Pie. Still, we weren't
very sanguine. You might interest a man-eater by initiating him, but
would you destroy his appetite? There was no grand rush for the ladder.

As Ole stood waiting, however, Petey swung himself down and landed
beside him. He cut the ropes that bound his wrists, jerked off the
pillowslip and cut off the blindfold. Then he grabbed Ole's mastodonic
paw.

"Shake, brother!" he said.

Nobody breathed for a few seconds. It was darned terrifying, I can tell
you. Ole rubbed his eyes with his free hand and looked down at the
morsel hanging on to the other.

"Shake, Ole!" insisted Petey. "You went through it better than I did
when I got it."

I saw the rudiments of a smile begin to break out on Ole's face. It grew
wider. It got to be a grin; then a chasm with a sunrise on either side.

He looked up at us again, then down at Petey. Then he pumped Petey's arm
until the latter danced like a cork bobber.

"By ying, Aye du et!" he shouted. "Ve ban gude fallers, ve Baked Pies,
if ve did broke my nose."

"What's the matter with Ole?" some one shouted.

"He's all right!" we yelled. Then we came down out of the garret and
made a rush for the furnace.



CHAPTER III

WHEN GREEK MEETS GROUCH


It's a cinch that college life would be a whole lot more congested with
pleasure if it wasn't for the towns that the colleges are in. I don't
mean that a town around a college hasn't its uses. Wherever you find a
town you can find lunch counters and theaters with galleries from which
you can learn the drama at a quarter a throw, and street cars that can
be tampered with, and wooden sidewalks that burn well on celebration
nights, and nice girls who began being nice four college generations ago
and never forgot how. All of these things about a town are mighty handy
when it comes to getting a higher education in a good, live college
where you don't have to tunnel through three feet of moss to find the
college customs. But even all this can't reconcile me to the way a town
butts into college affairs. It is something disgusting.

You know it yourself, Bill. Didn't you go to Yellagain where the police
arrested the whole Freshman class for painting the Sophomores green?
Well, it's the same way all over. No sooner does a college town get big
enough to support a rudimentary policeman who peddles vegetables when
he isn't putting down anarchy than it gets busy and begins to regulate
the college students. And the bigger it gets the more regulating it
wants to do. Why, they tell me that at the University of Chicago there
hasn't been a riot for nine years, and that over in Washington Park,
three blocks away, an eleven-ton statue of old Chris. Columbus has lain
for ages and no college class has had spirit enough to haul it out on
the street-car tracks. That's what regulating a college does for it.
There are more policemen in Chicago than there are students in the
University. If you give your yell off the campus you have to get a
permit from the city council. It's worse than that in Philadelphia, they
tell me. Why, there, if a college student comes downtown with a
flareback coat and heart-shaped trousers and one of those nifty little
pompadour hats that are brushed back from the brow to give the brains a
chance to grow, they arrest him for collecting a crowd and disturbing
traffic. No, sir, no big-town college for me. Getting college life in
those places reminds me of trying to get that world-wide feeling on
ice-cream soda. There's as much chance in one as in the other.

Excuse me for getting sore, but that's the way I do when I begin to talk
about college towns. They don't know their places. Take Jonesville,
where Siwash is, for instance. When Siwash College was founded by "that
noble band of Christian truth seekers," as the catalogue puts it,
Jonesville was a mud-hole freckled with houses. The railroad trains
whistled "get out of my way" to the town when they whooped through it,
and when you went into a merchant's store and woke him up he started off
home to dinner from force of habit. The only thing they ever regulated
there was the clock. They regulated that once a year and usually found
that it was two or three days behind time. Hadn't noticed it at all.

That's what Jonesville was when Siwash started. You can bet for the
first forty years they didn't do much regulating around the college. The
students just let the town stay there because it was quiet. The citizens
used to elect town marshals over seventy years old, so their gray hairs
would protect them from the students, and when the boys had won a debate
or a ball game and wanted to burn a barn or two to cheer up the
atmosphere at evening, nothing at all was said--at least out loud.
Jonesville was meek enough, you bet. Why, back in the seventies the
students used to vote at town elections, and once for a joke they all
voted for old "Apple Sally" for president of the village board. Made her
serve, too. Talk about regulating! Did you ever see a farmer's dog go
out and try to regulate a sixty-horse-power automobile? That's about as
much as Jonesville would have regulated us thirty years ago.

But, of course, having a real peppery college in its midst, Jonesville
couldn't help but grow. People came and started boarding-houses. There
had to be restaurants and bookstores and necktie emporiums, too, and
pretty soon the railroad built a couple of branches into town and
started the division shops. Then Jonesville woke up and walked right
past old Siwash. In ten years it had street cars, paved streets,
water-works, a political machine and a city debt, as large as the law
would allow. And worse than that, it had a police force. It had nine
officers in uniform, most of whom could read and write and swing big
clubs with a strictly American accent. Nice sort of a thing to turn
loose in a quiet college town. This was long before my time, but they
tell me that the students held indignation meetings for a week after the
first arrest was made. You see, the students at Siwash always had their
own rules and lived up to them strictly. The Faculty put them on their
honor and that honor was never abused. Students were not allowed to burn
the college buildings nor kill the professors. These rules were never
broken, and naturally the boys felt rather insulted when the city turned
loose a horde of blue-coated busybodies to interfere with things that
didn't concern them.

Still, Siwash got along very well even after the police force was
organized. You see, after a town has had a college in its middle for
about fifty years, pretty much everybody in town has attended it at one
time or another. None of the police had diplomas, but it was no uncommon
thing to see an ex-member of a college debating society delivering
groceries, or an ex-president of his class getting up in an engine cab
to take the flyer into the city. For years every police magistrate was
an old Siwash man, and, though plenty of the boys would get arrested,
there were never any thirty-day complications or anything of the sort.
Two classes would meet on the main street and muss each other up. The
police would arrest nine or ten of the ringleaders. The next morning the
prisoners would appear before Squire Jennings, who climbed up on the old
college building with his class flag in '54 and kept a rival class away
by tearing down the chimney and throwing the bricks at them. Naturally,
nothing very deadly happened. The good old fellow would lecture the
crowd and let them off with a stern warning. Maybe two or three Seniors
would come home late at night from their frat hall and take a wooden
Indian cigar sign along with them just for company. One of those Indians
is such a steady sort of a chap to have along late at night. Of course,
they would be arrested by old Hank Anderson on the courthouse beat, but
it wasn't anything serious. They would telephone Frank Hinckley, who was
editor of the city daily, and just convalescing from four years of
college life himself, and he would come down and bail them out, and
Squire Jennings would kick them out of court next morning. Frank was the
patron saint of the students for years when it came to bail. He used to
say he had all the fun of being a doctor and getting called out nights
without having to try to collect any fees. Frank was no Croesus those
days and I've seen him go bail for fifteen students at one hundred
dollars apiece, when his total assets amounted to a dress suit, three
hundred and forty-five photographs and his next week's salary.

By the time I had come to college, getting arrested had gotten to be a
regular formality. A Freshman would go up Main Street at night, trying
to hide a nine-foot board sign under his spring overcoat. Halvor
Skoogerson, a pale-eyed guardian of the peace, who was studying up to be
a naturalized, would arrest him for theft, riot, disorderly conduct,
suspicious appearance and intoxication, not understanding why any sober
man would want to carry a young lumber-yard home under his coat at
night. The prisoner would telephone for Hinckley, who would crawl out of
bed, come downtown cussing, and bail away in sleepy tones. The next
morning the freshie would go up before Squire Jennings, who would ask
him in awful accents if he realized that the state penitentiary was only
four hours away by fast train, and that many a man was boarding there
who would blush to be seen in the company of a man who had stolen a
nine-foot sign and carried it down Main Street, interfering with
pedestrians, when there was a perfectly good alley which ought to be
used for such purposes. Then he would warn the culprit that the next
time he was caught lugging off a billboard or a wooden platform or a
corncrib he would be compelled to put it back again before he got
breakfast; after which he would tell him to go along and try studying
for a change, and the Freshman would go back to college and join the
hero brigade. It was a mighty meek man in Siwash who couldn't get
arrested those days. Even the hymn singers at the Y. M. C. A. had
criminal records. It got so, finally, that whenever we had a nightshirt
parade in honor of any little college victory the line of march would
lead right through the police station. We knew what was coming and would
save the cops the trouble of hauling us over in the hustle wagon.

Take it all in all, it was about as much fun to be regulated as it was
to run the town. But one night Squire Jennings put his other foot into
the grave and died entirely; and before any of us realized what was
happening a special election had been held and Malachi Scroggs had been
elected police magistrate.

Malachi Scroggs was a triple extract of grouch who lived on the north
side two miles away from college in a big white house with one of those
old-fashioned dog-house affairs on top of it. He was an acrimonious
quarrel all by himself. Sunlight soured when it struck him. I have seen
a fox terrier who had been lying perfectly happy on the sidewalk, get up
after Scroggs had passed him and go over and bite an automobile tire. He
lived on gloom and law-suits and the last time he smiled was 1878--that
was when a small boy fell nineteen feet out of a tree while robbing his
orchard, and the doctor said he would never be able to rob any more
orchards.

This was the kind of mental astringent Malachi was. Naturally, he loved
the gay and happy little college boys. Oh, how he loved us! He had
complained to the police regularly during each celebration for twenty
years and he had expressed the opinion, publicly, that a college boy was
a cross between a hyena and a grasshopper with a fog-horn attachment
thrown in free of charge. He wasn't a college man himself, you
see--never could find one where the students didn't use slang, probably,
and he just naturally didn't understand us at all. Of course, we didn't
mind that. It's no credit to carry an interlinear translation of your
temperament on your face. So long as he kept in his own yard and
quarreled with his own dog for not feeding on Freshmen more
enthusiastically, we got along as nicely as the Egyptian Sphinx and John
L. Sullivan. Even when he was elected police magistrate we didn't
object. In fact, we didn't bumpity-bump to the situation until we went
up against him in court.

Part of the Senior class had been having a little choir practice in one
of the town restaurants. It was a lovely affair and there wasn't a more
cheerful crowd of fellows on earth than they were when they marched down
the street at one A. M. eighteen abreast and singing one of the dear old
songs in a kind of a steam-siren barytone.

Now they had never attempted to regulate mere noise in Jonesville, but
that night a brand-new policeman had gone on the courthouse beat, and
blamed if he didn't arrest the whole bunch for disturbing the
peace--when they hadn't broken a single thing, mind you. They were
pretty mad about it at first; but after all it was only a joke, and when
Hinckley got down to bail them out they were singing with great feeling
a song which Jenkins, the class poet, had just composed, and which ran
as follows:

     "As we walked along the street
     Officer Sikes we chanced to meet,
     And his shoes were full of feet
     As he prowled along his beat.
     He took us down and locked us up;
     Left us in charge of a Norsky Cop,
     And we didn't get home till early in the morning."

Hold that "morning" as long as you can and tonsorialize to beat the
band. Even the desk sergeant enjoyed it.

When the bunch lined up the next morning in police court there was Judge
Scroggs. They felt as if they ought to treat him nicely, he being a
newcomer and all of them being very familiar with the ropes; and Emmons,
the class president, started explaining to him that it was all a
mistake. Scroggs bit him off with a voice that sounded like a terrier
snapping at a fly.

"We're here to correct these mistakes," he said. "You were all singing
on the public street at one o'clock in the morning, weren't you?"

"We were trying to," said Emmons, still friendly.

"Ten days apiece," said the magistrate. "Call the next case."

If any one had removed the floor from under these Seniors and let them
drop one thousand and one feet into space they couldn't have felt more
shocked. Even the clerk and the desk sergeant were amazed. They tried to
help explain, but the human vinegar-cruet turned around and spat the
following through his clenched teeth:

"Gentlemen, I have been appointed to sit on this bench and I don't need
any help. Any more objections will be in contempt of court. Sergeant,
remove these young thugs and have them sent to the workhouse at once."

Maybe you don't think the college seethed when the news got out. There
were the leading lights of the school, including the president of the
Senior class, the chairman of the Junior promenade, two halfbacks, the
pitcher on the baseball team and the president of the Y. M. C. A., all
on the works for ten days, along with as choice an assortment of plain
drunks and fancy resters as you could find in ninety miles of mainline
railroad. The students fairly went mad and bit at the air. Even the
Faculty got busy and Prexy dropped over to the police court to square
it. He came out a minute later very white around the mouth. I don't know
what Old Maledictions said to him, but it was a great sufficiency, I
guess. He seemed as insulted as Lord Tennyson might have been if the
milkman had pulled his whiskers.

There wasn't a thing to be done. The Faculty appealed to the mayor, but
old Scroggs had some regular Spanish-bit hold on him in the way of a
short-time note, I guess, and he washed his hands of the whole affair.
Our college great men were hauled out to the works and served their
time. When they got out they were sights. They weren't strong on
sanitation in workhouses in those days. Even their friends shook hands
with them with tongs. Think of sixteen proud monarchs of the campus
making brick in striped suits, with a cross foreman who used to haul
ashes from the college campus lording it over them and tracing their
ancestry back through thirty generations of undesirable citizens! Nice,
wasn't it? Oh, very!

That was the beginning of a sad and serious year for Siwash. For the
first time Scroggs enjoyed college boys. Soaking students got to be his
specialty. We did our blamedest to behave, but you can't break off the
habits of generations in a week or two. Soon after the Seniors got out
the Mock Turtles, a Sophomore society, capacity thirty thousand quarts,
absent-mindedly tipped over a street car on their way home and were
jugged for thirty days. They had to enlarge the workhouse to take care
of them, and four of our best football players were retired from
circulation all through October. Think what that meant! The whole
college went up, just before the game with Hambletonian, and knelt on
the sidewalk before Judge Scroggs' house. He set the dog on us. Said
afterwards he wished the dog had been larger and hadn't had his supper.
A month later four members of the glee club tried to do our favorite
stunt of putting the horse in the herdic and hauling him home, and it
cost them twenty-nine days--just enough to break up the club. The whole
basket-ball team got thirty days because they took the bronze statue off
the fountain in the public square one night, laid him on the car tracks
in some old clothes, and had the ambulance force trying to resuscitate
him. Nobody had ever objected to this little joke before, but it cost us
the state championship and two of the team left school when they got
out. Said they'd come to Siwash for a college education, not for a
course of etymology in a workhouse.

It was terrible. We scarcely dared to cut out our mufflers enough to
whistle to each other on the street. By spring we were desperate. We had
lost the basket-ball championship. The glee club was ruined.
Muggledorfer had bumped us in football--that was the year before Ole
Skjarsen came to school--and college spirit at Siwash had been gummed up
until it could have been successfully imitated by a
four-thousand-year-old mummy. Our college meetings resembled the
overflow from a funeral around the front steps. We used to shut down all
the windows, say "shsh" nine times, and then write out our college yell
on curl papers and burn the papers. You could have swapped Siwash off
for a correspondence school without noticing any difference in the
reverberations. That was Petey Simmons' first year in college--as a
matter of fact, he was a Senior prep. I've told you more or less about
Petey before. He was the only son of one of these country bankers who
manage to get as much fun out of a half million as a New Yorker could
out of a whole railroad. Petey was a little chap who had always had what
he wanted and would cheerfully sit up all night thinking up new things
to want. He wasn't a Freshman yet, but he could give points to all the
college in the matter of explosive clothes and nifty ways of being
expensive to Dad. He couldn't get along without coat-cut underwear long
before we had heard of it, and you could tell by looking at his shoes
just what the rest of the school would be wearing in two years. That was
Petey all the way through. He was first and Father Time was nowhere,
forty miles back with a busted tire.

[Illustration: Martha caused some mild sensation
                    _Page 63_]

Petey took to college life like a kid to candy and just soaked himself
in college spirit. He proposed his sixty-five-dollar banjo for
membership in the club and went in with it of course. He was elected
yell-master before he had been in school two weeks, and if you ever want
to know how much noise can come out of a comparatively small orifice you
should have seen him emitting riot and pandemonium in the second half of
a lively football game. Naturally, it worried Petey almost to death to
see the dear old Coll. disintegrating under the Scroggs Inquisition, and
he used to sit around the frat house with his head on his hands for
hours, smoking his pipe, which had the largest bowl in school, and
combing his convolutions for a plan. Then, along in March, he
electrified the whole school by taking Martha Scroggs to the college
promenade.

Martha was old Malachi's daughter. We hadn't known it, but she had been
in school all that year. She was a quiet girl who was designed like a
tall problem in plane geometry. While it was possible for a clock to run
in the same room with her, still she was not what you might call a
picnic to look at. She was the kind of girl a man would look at once and
then go off and admire the scenery, even if it only consisted of a
ninety-acre cornfield and a grain elevator. Martha was only about
eighteen, and I never could understand how she got on to the styles of
thirty-six years ago and wore them as fluently as she did.

Naturally, Martha had gotten along in her studies without being pestered
by society to any extent. I sometimes think this helped old Scroggs to
hate us. She was his only child, and he had taken all the affection and
interest that most people distribute over their entire acquaintanceship
and concentrated it on her. They had grown up together since she became
a motherless baby, and they did say that while you could bombard the old
man with gatling guns without jarring his opinions he would lie down,
jump through a hoop or play dead whenever Martha wanted him to.

Naturally Martha caused some mild sensation when she appeared at the
biggest social spasm of the college year, with her sleeves bulging in
the wrong place, and nothing but her own hair on her head. But what
caused the real sensation was the fact that Petey had been released from
the workhouse the day before. Yes, sir--just turned out with seven more
days to serve. He had thrown a brick at a Sophomore who was trying to
catch him and dye his hair the Sophomore colors, and the brick had
annihilated one of the city's precious thirty-seven-cent street lights.
Petey had gone to the works for ten days, leaving a new dress suit that
hadn't been dedicated and unlimited woe among the girls, for he was a
Class A fusser.

Petey was non-committal about his insanity. He had the best eye for
beauty in the college, and yet he had been taking Miss Scroggs around to
church socials and town affairs for two months. But college boys aren't
slow, whatever you want to say about them. We had faith in Petey and we
backed up his game. We gave Martha the time of her young life at the
Prom.--pulled off three imitation rows over her program--and then we
turned in that winter and gave her a good, hot rush--which is a
technical college expression for keeping a girl dated up so that she
doesn't have time to wash the dishes at home once a month.

I must say that it wasn't much of a punishment, either, when we got
acquainted with Martha. She was a good fellow clear through and had a
smile that illuminated her plain face like a torchlight parade. Of
course, after you get out of school you learn that beauty is only skin
deep and seldom affects the brain; but this is a wonderful discovery for
a college boy to make when there are so many raving beauties about him
that he has to take a nap in the afternoon in order to dream about all
of them. At any rate, we took Martha to everything that came along, one
of us or another, and before a month we didn't have to pretend very much
to scrap for her dances, even if you did have to lug her around the room
by main strength--she was as heavy on her feet as a motor-bus.

April came and the first baseball game with it, and Saunders, our
pitcher, managed to draw a thirty-day sentence for stealing a steam
roller one noon and racing off down the avenue with a fat cop in
pursuit. We nearly fell dead once more when Saunders came walking into
chapel three days later. He had been released by Judge Scroggs with a
warning never under any circumstances to do anything of any sort at any
time any more, and been assured that he was nothing more than hangman's
meat. But he had been released! That night he took Martha Scroggs to the
Alfalfa Delt hop. And the next day he held Muggledorfer down to two hits
and no runs, with Martha waving hurrahs at him from a tally-ho.

We wanted to elect Petey president of the college, for we laid the whole
affair to him. But he wouldn't talk at all. If anything, he seemed a
little sore about the whole thing. Martha didn't loosen up, either. She
just smiled and told those of us who knew her well enough to ask
questions that Saunders was a lovely boy and that she had had that date
with him for ages--flies' ages, I guess she meant, for Alice Marsters,
one of the beauties of the school, stayed home from the dance after
announcing that she was going with Saunders, and never seemed able to
remember him by sight after that.

About a week afterward Maxwell, the college orator, a very solemn member
of the Siwash brain trust, was arrested for ever so little a thing. I
believe he so far forgot himself as to help give the college yell on
Main Street the night his literary society won a debate. Anyway, he got
ten days, and he was due in three days to orate for Siwash against the
whole Northwest. It was the biggest event of the school year--the
oratorical contest. We'd won seven of them--more than any other school
in the sixteen states--and we stood a good show with Maxwell. We were
crazy to win. Of course nobody ever goes to the contests; but we all
stay up all night to hear the results, and when we win, which we do once
every other college generation, we try to make the celebration bigger
than the stories of other celebrations that have been handed down. We'd
been planning this celebration all winter and had everything combustible
in Jonesville spotted.

Some of us were for going out and burning up the workhouse, but before
we got around to it Maxwell appeared. It was the day before the contest.
He'd served only two days, but instead of rushing right off to rehearse
his oration, which he couldn't do in the workhouse, owing to an
accountable prejudice the tramps and other prisoners had against
oratory, he took the evening off and went driving with Martha
Scroggs--about as queer a thing for him to do as it would be for the
Pope to take a young lady to the theatre. But we didn't ask any
questions. We cheered him off on the midnight train, and the next night,
when he won and we got the news, we turned out and built a bonfire of
everything that wasn't nailed down. And when the police got done chasing
us they had nineteen of the brightest and best sons of Siwash bottled up
in the booby hatch.

We didn't mind that on general principles. The bonfire was worth it,
especially since we managed to get a few palings from old Scroggs' fence
for it--but, as usual, the wrong men got pinched. There was the
intercollegiate track meet due in two weeks, and there, in the list of
felons, were Evans, our crack sprinter, Petersen, our hammer heaver, and
yours truly, who could pole vault about as high as they run elevators in
Europe, even if he was only a sub-Freshman with field mice in his hair.

Now, this was really serious. We could afford to lose an oratorical
contest--it just meant no bonfire for another year--but we had our
hearts set on that track meet. We were up against our lifelong
rivals--Muggledorfer, the State Normal, Kiowa, Hambletonian, and all the
rest of them. We had to win--I don't know why. Beats all how many things
you have to do in college that don't seem so absolutely necessary a few
years afterward. Anyhow, if we three point-gobblers had to spend the
next ten days in the works instead of rounding into form, the points
Siwash would win in that meet could be added up by a three-year-old boy
who was a bad scholar. It was so desperate that we hired a lawyer and
laid the case before him that night as we sat in our horrid cells--they
wouldn't take Hinckley for bail any more.

"Get a continuance," said he. And the next morning he appeared with us
before the awful presence and demanded the continuance on the score of
important evidence, lack of time to perfect a defense, other
engagements, poor crops, Presidential election, and goodness knows
what--regular lawyer style, you know.

Old Scroggs glared at us the way an unusually hungry tiger might look at
a lamb that was being taken away to get a little riper. "I cannot object
to a reasonable continuance," he said sourly. "And I don't deny that you
will need all the defense you can get. The case is an atrocious one, and
I propose to do my small part toward putting down arson and riot in this
unhappy town. You will appear two weeks from this morning."

The field meet was two weeks from that afternoon! And we didn't have a
ghost of a defense!

We three scraped up the required bail and went back to college feeling
cheerful as a man who has been told that his hanging has been postponed
until his wedding morning. Of course we sent for Petey Simmons. He
arrived dejected. "No use, fellows," he remarked as he came in the door.
"I know what you all want. You all want engagements with Martha Scroggs.
It's no go. I've been over to see her and she's afraid to tackle it. The
old man's told her that if she runs around with any more of this
disgraceful, disgusting and nine other epitheted college bunch he'll
show her the door. Says he's been worked and he's through. Says he's
going to give you the limit and, if possible, he's going to give you
enough to keep you in all vacation instead of letting you loose on a
defenseless world all summer. That's how strong you are up at the
Scroggs house."

There you were! Siwash College, the pride of six decades, mollycoddled
by an old parody on a gorilla with a grouch against the solar system! We
trained these two weeks in hopes that a chariot of fire would come up
and take the old man down, but there was nothing doing. He remained
abnormally healthy and supernaturally mad. On the morning before the
fatal day we all wrote letters home, explaining that we had secured
elegant jobs in various emporiums over the city and wouldn't be home
until late in the summer. Then we shivered a shake or two apiece and got
ready to retire from this vain world for somewhere between thirty and
ninety days. Just about that time Petey Simmons blew down to the
college, bursting with information. He demanded a meeting of the
Athletic Council at once and of us three sterling athletes as well. We
were all in order in ten minutes.

"Fellows, it's this way," said Petey. "Martha Scroggs is very loyal to
the college, as you all know. She has done her very best with old
Fireworks, but it hasn't made a dent in him. No little old party or
buggy ride is going to get any one out this time. There's just one
chance, she says, and she's taken it. This morning she confessed to her
father that she is engaged to one of the men who is to come up for trial
to-morrow morning. They think the old man will be well enough to
unmuzzle before noon, but he's been acting like a bad case of dog-days
all morning. He's given her twenty-four hours to name the man--and
Martha thinks that by night he'll be resting comfortably enough to
promise to let him off to-morrow. And she has given us the privilege of
choosing the man she's engaged to. Now, it's up to this council to pick
out the lucky chap. It's our only hope, fellows. We'll have one
point-winner anyway--unless the old man eats him alive to-morrow."

Evans and Petersen turned pale--they had real fiancées in college. But
each stepped forward nobly and offered himself for the sacrifice. I
stepped out, too, though I was so young at that time that I didn't know
any more how to go about being engaged to a girl than I did about my
Greek lessons. Then the council began to discuss the choice. And just
there the trouble began.

It all came about through the frats, of course. Frats are a good thing
all right, but they stir up more trouble in a college than a Turk's nine
wives can make for him. Ashcroft was president of the council. He was an
Alfalfa Delt. So was Evans. Ashcroft hung out for Evans like a bulldog
hanging to a tramp. Beeman, a council member, was a Sigh Whoop and so
was Petersen. Beeman argued that Petersen could win more points than the
rest of the school put together and that it would be unpatriotic,
unmanly, disgraceful and un-Siwash-like not to select him. Bailey, the
third member, was an Eta Bita Pie, and while sub-Freshmen are not
supposed to be anything with Greek letters on, we understood each other,
and I was to be initiated the next fall. Bailey pointed out caustically
that to imprison a sub-Freshman would be to ruin his reputation, break
his spirit and disgrace the school--that one world's record was worth
fifty points, and that, if allowed to, I would pole-vault so high the
next day that I would have to come down in a parachute. The result was
the council broke up in one big row and Martha Scroggs spent the
afternoon unengaged.

About five o'clock Bailey came over to the track, where we were going
through the last sad rites, and hauled me aside.

"Take off those togs, kid," he said. "I've got a stunt. These yaps are
going to hold another meeting to-night to decide on Martha Scroggs'
fiancé. In the meantime you're going out to ask the old man for her.
Understand? You're going to ask him and take what he gives you like a
little man and beg off for to-day, and then you're going to break the
pole-vault record. See?"

Unfortunately, I did. I liked the job just as well as I would like
getting boiled in oil. But one must stand by one's frat, you know--Gee,
how proud I felt when I said that! I didn't have any idea how an engaged
man ought to look or act, but I went home, put on the happiest duds I
had, and shinned up the street about eight o'clock.

The man-eating dog of the Scroggses was somewhere else, gorging himself
on another unfortunate, and I got to the front door all right. I rang
the bell. Some one opened the door. It was Judge Scroggs. He looked at
me as one might look at a bug which had wandered on to the table and was
trying to climb over a fork.

"Young man," he said, "what do you want?"

Did you ever have your voice slink around behind your larynx and refuse
to come out? Mine did. I only wish I could have slunk with it. I started
talking twice. My tongue went all right, but I couldn't slip in the
clutch and make any sound.

"Well," roared Scroggs, "what is it?"

That jarred me loose. "Mr. Scroggs," I sputtered, "I am engaged to your
daughter. I want to marry her. I want your permission. I--I'll be good
to her, sir."

He glared at me for a minute. "Oh!" he said with a queer look. "Well,
come on in with the rest of them."

I followed him into the parlor. There sat Evans and Petersen. They were
older than I, but if I looked as scared as they did I wish somebody had
shot me. In the corner was another student. His name was Driggs. His
specialty was cotillons.

We four sat and looked at each other with awful suspicions. Something
was excessively wrong. I felt indignant. Can't a fellow go to see his
fiancée without being annoyed by a Roman mob? I noticed Petersen and
Evans looked indignant, too. We took it out by staring Driggs almost
into the collywobbles. Who was he anyway, and why was he billy-goating
around?

Old Scroggs had called Martha. He sat and looked at us so peculiarly
that I got gooseflesh all over. Here I was, a Freshman so green that the
cows looked longingly at me, and up against the job of saving the
college, winning out for the frat and becoming engaged to a girl I
didn't know before a whole roomful of rivals. I wasn't up to the job. If
only I had gone to the works! They seemed a haven of sweet peace just
then.

Martha Scroggs came into the room. She looked at the quartet. We looked
at her with hunted looks. Scroggs looked at all of us.

"Martha," he said at last, "each one of these four young idiots says he
is engaged to you. Which of them shall I throw out?"

The jig was up! The college was ruined! Each one of us had the same
bright thought!

For a moment I thought Martha was going to faint. She looked at the mob
with a dazed expression. You could almost see her brain grabbing for
some explanation. It was just for a moment, though. My, but that girl
was a wonder! She gulped once or twice. Then she smiled in an inspired
sort of way.

"None of them, Papa," she said ever so sweetly. "I am engaged to all of
them."

The eruption of Vesuvius was only a little sputter to what followed. For
a moment we had hopes that old Scroggs would explode. I think if he had
had us there alone he would have tried to hang us. But every tyrant has
his master, so before long we began to see the halter on old Scroggs.
And his daughter held the leading rope. She let him rave about so long
and then she retired into her pocket-handkerchief and turned on a
regular equinoctial. Scroggs looked more uncomfortable than we felt. He
took her in his arms and there was a family reconciliation. Every little
while Martha would look over his shoulder at us four hopefuls sitting up
against the wall as lively as wooden Indians, and then she would bury
her face in her handkerchief again and shake her shoulders and writhe
with grief--or maybe it was something else. Martha always did have a
pretty keen sense of humor.

[Illustration: My, but that girl was a wonder!
                    _Page 74_]

Suddenly Scroggs remembered us and we went out of the house like
projectiles fired from a very loud gun. We cussed each other all the
way home--we three athletes. We would have cussed Driggs, but he sneaked
the other way and we lost him.

The next morning we went up to police court in our old clothes. Judge
Scroggs looked at us sourly when our turn came.

"Young men," he said, "my daughter has admitted that she has been
foolish enough to engage herself provisionally to all of you, with the
idea of choosing the hero in this afternoon's games. I do not admire her
taste. I think she is indeed reckless to fall in love with collegians
when there are so many honest cab drivers and grocery boys to choose
from. But I have, in the interests of peace, consented to allow you to
compete this afternoon. You are discharged. I do this the more willingly
because I have seen you here before and shall again. You may go."

We did go, and when we got through that afternoon the knobby-legged
athletes from our rival schools looked like quarter horses plowing home
just ahead of the next race. Siwash won by an enormous lead and we three
were the stars of the meet. Why shouldn't we be when our fiancée sat in
a box in the grandstand and cheered us impartially? More than that, old
Scroggs sat with her and I have an idea that he got excited, too, in the
breath-catching parts.

I think that engagement business must have broken the old man's spirit,
or else so much association with college people began to waken dormant
brain cells in his head. The rest of the rioters got out of the
workhouse right away, and that fall he retired from the bench, declaring
that if he was to have a college student for a son-in-law, as looked
extremely likely, he needed to put in all of his time at home protecting
his property. In honor of his retirement we had a pajama parade which
was nine blocks long and forty-two blocks loud, and a platoon of six
policemen led the way.

Of course that engagement business left all sorts of complications.
Scroggs pestered his daughter for about a month to make her decision. He
seemed somewhat relieved when she finally announced that she couldn't;
but it wasn't much relief, after all, for by this time he couldn't walk
around his own house without falling over Petey Simmons. Just two years
ago I got cards to Petey's wedding. He and Martha are living in Chicago
in one of those flats where you have seven hundred and eighty-nine
dollars' worth of bath-room, and eighty-nine cents' worth of living
room, and which you have to lease by measure just as you would buy a
vest. If Petey hangs on long enough he is going to be a big man in the
banking business, too.

I forgot to clear up this Driggs mystery. The evening after the races,
Martha called up Petey Simmons. "Petey," said she, "I wish you would
tell me who this fourth man is that I'm engaged to. He doesn't seem to
be on the track team and I didn't catch his name. I don't mind having to
make up an excuse for being engaged to four men right on the spur of
the moment if it is necessary, but I'd at least like to know their
names."

Petey was as puzzled as she was and lit out to find Driggs. He was gone,
but the next day he turned up and confessed all. He had a terrible
affair with a girl in the next town, it seems, and had a date to bring
her to the games. He was one of the nineteen criminals, and was so
terror-stricken at the idea of being compelled to desert his hypnotizer
that when the news of the engagement business leaked out he took a long
chance and went up and announced himself. It worked, but we caught him
two nights later and shaved his hair on one side as a gentle warning not
to do it again.



CHAPTER IV

A FUNERAL THAT FLASHED IN THE PAN


Honest, Bill, sometimes when I sit down in these sober, plug-away
days--when we are kind to the poor dumb policemen and don't dare wear
straw hats after the first of September--and think about the good old
college times, I wonder how we ever had the nerve to imitate insanity
the way we did. Here I am, rubbing noses with thirty, outgrowing my
belts every year, and sitting eight hours at a desk without exploding.
Am I the chap who climbed up sixty feet of waterspout a few short years
ago and persuaded the clapper of the college bell to come down with me?
Here you are all worn smooth on top and proprietor of an overflow
meeting in a nursery. In about ten minutes you'll be tearing your
coat-tails out of my hands because you have to go back home before the
eldest kid asks for a story. Are you the loafer who spent all one night
getting a profane parrot into the cold-air pipes of the college chapel?
Maybe you think you are, but I don't believe it. If I were to tip this
table over on you now you'd get mad and go home instead of handing me a
volume of George Barr McCutcheon in the watch-pocket. You're not the
good old lunatic you used to be, and neither am I.

Yes, times have changed. I don't feel as unfettered as I used to. There
are a few things nowadays that I don't care to do. When I come home at
night I take my shoes off and tiptoe to my room instead of standing
outside and trying to persuade my landlady that the house is on fire.
When I visit a friend in his apartments I do not, as a bit of repartee,
throw all of his clothes out of the window while he is out of the room,
and it has been a long time since I last hung a basket out of my window
on Saturday night, expecting some early-rising friend to put a pocketful
of breakfast in it as he came past from boarding-club. I am a slave to
conventions and so are you, you slant-shouldered, hollow-chested,
four-eyed, flabby-spirited pill-roller, you! The city makes more mummies
out of live ones than old Rameses ever did out of his obituary crop.

And yet it's no time at all since you and I were back at Siwash College,
making a dear playmate out of trouble from morning till night. I wonder
what it is in college that makes a fellow want to stick his finger into
conventions and customs and manners, to say nothing of the revised
statutes, and stir the whole mess 'round and 'round! When you're in
college, college life seems big and all the rest of the world so small
that what you want to do as a student seems to be the only important
thing in life--no matter if what you want to do is only to put a
free-lunch sign over the First Methodist Church. What does the college
student care for the U. S. A., the planet or the solar system? Why, at
Siwash, I remember the biggest man in the world was Ole Skjarsen. Next
to him was Coach Bost, then Rogers, captain of the football team, and
then Jensen, the quarter. After him came Frankling, of the Alfalfa
Delts, whose father picked up bargains in railroads instead of gloves;
then came Prexy, and after him the President of the United States and a
few scattered celebrities, tailing down to the Mayor of Jonesville and
its leading citizens--mere nobodies.

That's how important the outside world seemed to us. Is it any wonder
that when we wanted to go downtown in pajamas and plug hats we paddled
right along? Or that when we wanted to steal a couple of actors and tie
them in a barn, while two of us took their places, we did not hesitate
to do so? We felt perfectly free to do just what we pleased. The college
understood us, and what the world thought never entered our heads.

Those were certainly nightmarish times for the Faculty of a small but
husky college filled with live wires who specialized in applied
mischief. It beats all what peculiar things college students can do and
not think anything of it at all; and it's funny how closely wisdom and
blame foolishness seem to be related. I remember after I had spent two
hours putting my Polykon down on a concrete foundation so that I could
recite John Stuart Mill by the ream, it seemed as if I couldn't live
half an hour longer without a certain kind of pie that was kept in
captivity a mile away downtown at a lunch-counter. And, moreover, I
couldn't eat that pie alone. A college student doesn't know how to
masticate without an assistant or two. When I think of the hours and
hours I have spent traveling around at midnight and battering on the
doors of perfectly respectable houses, trying to drag some student out
and take him a mile or two away downtown after pie, I am struck with
awe. When I came to this town I walked two days for a job and then sat
around with my feet on a sofa cushion for three days. I'll bet I've
walked twice as far hunting up some devoted friend to help me go
downtown and eat a piece of pie. And that pie seemed three times as
important as the easy lessons for beginners in running the earth that I
had been absorbing all the evening.

You needn't grin, Bill. You were just as bad. I remember you were the
biggest math. shark in college. You could do calculus problems that took
all the English letters from A to Z and then slopped over into the Greek
alphabet; and everybody predicted that you would be a great man if
anybody ever found any use for calculus. And yet the chief ambition of
your life was to find a way of tampering with the college clock so that
it would run twice as fast as its schedule. You used to sit around and
figure all evening over it and declare that if you could only do it once
and watch the profs. letting out classes early and going home to supper
at one P. M. you would consider your life well spent. Sounds fiddling
now, doesn't it? But I admired you for it then. I really looked up to
you, Bill, as a man with a firm, fixed purpose, while I was just a
trifler who would be satisfied to steal the hands of the clock or jolly
it into striking two hundred times in a row.

There was Rearick, for instance. He was the smartest man in our class.
Took scholarship prizes as carelessly as a policeman takes peanuts from
a Dago stand. Since then he's gone up so fast that every time I see him
I insult him by congratulating him on getting the place he's just been
promoted from. But what was Rearick's hobby at Siwash? Stealing hatpins.
He had four hundred hatpins when he graduated, and he never could see
anything wrong in it. Guess he's got them yet. Perkins is in Congress
already. He out-debated the whole Northwest and wrote pieces on subjects
so heavy that you could break up coal with them. But I never saw him so
earnest in debate as he was the night he talked old Bill Morrison into
letting him drive his hack for him all evening. He told me he had driven
every hack in town but Bill's, and that Bill had baffled him for two
years. It cost him four dollars to turn the trick, but he was happier
after it than he was when he won the Siwash-Muggledorfer debate. Said he
was ready to graduate now--college held nothing further for him.
Perkins' brains weren't addled, because he has been working them double
shift ever since. He just had the college microbe, that's all. It gets
into your gray matter and makes you enjoy things turned inside out. You
remember "Prince" Hogboom's funeral, don't you?

What year was it? Why, ninety-ump-teen. What? That's right, you got out
the year before. I remember they held your diploma until you paid for
the library cornerstone that your class stole and cut up into
paper-weights. Well, by not staying the next year you missed the most
unsuccessful funeral that was ever held in the history of Siwash or
anywhere else. It was one of the very few funerals on record in which
the corpse succeeded in licking the mourners. I've got a small scar from
it now. You may think you're going home to that valuable baby of yours,
but you are not. You'll hear me out. I haven't talked with a Siwash man
for a month, and all of these Hale and Jarhard and Stencilmania fellows
give me an ashy taste in my mouth when I talk with them. It's about as
much fun talking college days with a fellow from another school as it is
to talk ranching with a New England old maid; and when I get hold of a
Siwash man you can bet I hang on to him as long as my talons will stick.
You just sit right there and start another Wheeling conflagration while
I tell you how we killed Hogboom to make a Siwash holiday.

I helped kill him myself. It was my first murder. It was an awful thing
to do, but we were desperate men. It was spring--in May--and not one of
us had a cut left. You know how unimportant your cuts are in the fall
when you know that you can skip classes ten times that year without
getting called up on the green carpet and gimleted by the Faculty. Ten
cuts seem an awful lot when you begin. You throw 'em away for anything.
You cut class to go downtown and buy a cigarette. You cut class to see a
dog fight. I've even known a fellow to cut a class in the fall because
he had to go back to the room and put on a clean collar. But, oh, how
different it is in May, when you haven't a cut left to your name and the
Faculty has been holding meetings on you, anyway; when classroom is a
jail and the campus just outside the window is a paradise, green and
sunshiny and fanned by warm breezes--excuse these poetries. And you can
sit in your class in Evidences of Christianity--of which you knew as
much as a Chinese laundryman does of force-feed lubrication--and look
out of the window and see your best girl sitting on the grass with some
smug oyster who has saved up his cuts. How I used to hate these chaps
who saved up their cuts till spring and then took my girl out walking
while I went to classes! Is there anything more maddening, I'd like to
know, than to sit before a big, low window trying to follow a psychology
recitation closely enough to get up when called on, and at the same time
watch five girls, with all of whom you are dead in love, strolling
slowly off into the bright distance with five job-lot male beings who
are dull and uninteresting and just cold-blooded enough to save their
cuts until the springtime? If there is I've never had it.

In this spring of umpty-steen it seemed as if only one ambition in the
world was worth achieving--that was to get out of classes. Most of us
had used up our cuts long ago. The Faculty is never any too patient in
the spring, anyhow, and a lot of us were on the ragged edge. I remember
feeling very confidently that if I went up before that brain trust in
the Faculty room once more and tried to explain how it was that I was
giving absent treatment to my beloved studies, said Faculty would take
the college away from me and wouldn't let me play with it never no more.
And that's an awful distressing fear to hang over a man who loves and
enjoys everything connected with a college except the few trifling
recitations which take up his time and interfere with his plans. It hung
over five of us who were trying to plan some way of going over to
Hambletonian College to see our baseball team wear deep paths around
their diamond. We were certain to win, and as the Hambletonians hadn't
found this out there was a legitimate profit to be made from our
knowledge--profit we yearned for and needed frightfully. I wonder if
these Wall Street financiers and Western railroad men really think they
know anything about hard times? Why, I've known times to be so hard in
May that three men would pool all their available funds and then toss up
to see which one of them would eat the piece of pie the total sum
bought. I've known Seniors to begin selling their personal effects in
April--a pair of shoes for a dime, a dress suit for five dollars--and to
go home in June with a trunk full of flags and dance programs and
nothing else. I've known students to buy velveteen pants in the spring
and go around with big slouch hats and very long hair--not because they
were really artistic and Bohemian, but because it was easier to buy the
trousers and have them charged than it was to find a quarter for a
haircut.

That's how busted live college students with unappreciative dads can get
in the spring. That's how busted we were; and there was Hambletonian,
twenty miles away, full of money and misguided faith in their team. If
we could scrape up a little cash we could ride over on our bicycles and
transfer the financial stringency to the other college with no trouble
at all. But it was a midweek game and not one of us had a cut left. That
was why we murdered Hogboom.

It happened one evening when we were sitting on the front porch of the
Eta Bita Pie house. That was the least expensive thing we could do. We
had been discussing girls and baseball and spring suits, and the
comparative excellence of the wheat cakes at the Union Lunch Counter and
Jim's place. But whatever we talked about ran into money in the end and
we had to change the subject. There's mighty little a poor man can talk
about in spring in college, I can tell you. We discussed around for an
hour or two, bumping into the dollar mark in every direction, and
finally got so depressed that we shut up and sat around with our heads
in our hands. That seemed to be about the only thing to do that didn't
require money.

"We'll have to do something desperate to get to that game," said Hogboom
at last. Hogboom was a Senior. He ranked "sublime" in football,
"excellent" in baseball, "good" in mandolin, "fair" in dancing, and from
there down in Greek, Latin and Mathematics.

"Intelligent boy," said Bunk Bailey pleasantly; "tell us what it must
be. Desperate things done to order, day or night, with care and
thoroughness. Trot out your desperate thing and get me an axe. I'll do
it."

"Well," said Hogboom, "I don't know, but it seems to me that if one of
us was to die maybe the Faculty would take a day off and we could go
over to Hambletonian without getting cuts."

"Fine scheme; get me a gun, Hogboom." "Do you prefer drowning or
lynching?" "Kill him quick, somebody." "Look pleasant, please, while the
operator is working." "What do you charge for dying?" Oh, we guyed him
good and plenty, which is a way they have at old Harvard and middle-aged
Siwash and Infant South Dakota University and wherever two students are
gathered together anywhere in the U. S. A.

Hogboom only grinned. "Prattle away all you please," he said, "but I
mean it. I've got magnificent facilities for dying just now. I'll
consider a proposition to die for the benefit of the cause if you
fellows will agree to keep me in cigarettes and pie while I'm dead."

"Done," says I, "and in embalming fluid, too. But just demonstrate this
theorem, Hoggy, old boy. How extensively are you going to die?"

"Just enough to get a holiday," said Hogboom. "You see, I happen to have
a chum in the telegraph office in Weeping Water, where I live. Now if I
were to go home to spend Sunday and you fellows were to receive a
telegram that I had been kicked to death by an automobile, would you
have sense enough to show it to Prexy?"

"We would," we remarked, beginning to get intelligent.

"And, after he had confirmed the sad news by telegram, would you have
sense enough left to suggest that college dismiss on Tuesday and hold a
memorial meeting?"

"We would," we chuckled.

"And would you have foresight enough to suggest that it be held in the
morning so that you could rush away to Weeping Water in the afternoon to
attend the funeral?"

"Yes, indeed," we said, so mildly that the cop two blocks away strolled
down to see what was up.

"And then would you be diplomatic enough to produce a telegram saying
that the report was false, just too late to start the afternoon
classes?"

"You bet!" we whooped, pounding Hogboom with great joy. Then we sat down
as unconcernedly as if we were planning to go to the vaudeville the next
afternoon and arranged the details of Hogboom's assassination. As I was
remarking, positively nothing looks serious to a college boy until after
he has done it.

That was on Friday night. On Saturday we killed Hogboom. That is, he
killed himself. He got permission to go home over Sunday and retired to
an upper back room in our house, very unostentatiously. He had already
written to his operator chum, who had attended college just long enough
to take away his respect for death, the integrity of the telegraph
service and practically everything else. The result was that at nine
o'clock that evening a messenger boy rang our bell and handed in a
telegram. It was brief and terrible. Wilbur Hogboom had been submerged
in the Weeping Water River while trying to abduct a catfish from his
happy home and had only just been hauled out entirely extinct.

It was an awful shock to us. We had expected him to be shot. We read it
solemnly and then tiptoed up to Hogboom with it. He turned pale when he
saw the yellow slip.

"What is it?" he asked hurriedly. "How did it happen?"

"You were drowned, Hoggy, old boy," Wilkins said. "Drowned in your
little old Weeping Water River. They have got you now and you're all
damp and drippy, and your best girl is having one hysteric after
another. Don't you think you ought to throw that cigarette away and show
some respect to yourself? We've all quit playing cards and are going to
bed early in your honor."

"Well, I'm not," said Hogboom. "It's the first time I have ever been
dead, and I'm going to stay up all night and see how I feel. Another
thing, I'm going down and telephone the news to Prexy myself. I've had
nothing but hard words out of him all my college course, and if he can't
think up something nice to say on an occasion like this I'm going to
give him up."

Hogboom called up Prexy and in a shaking voice read him the telegram. We
sat around, choking each other to preserve the peace, and listened to
the following cross section of a dialogue--telephone talk is so
interesting when you just get one hemisphere of it.

"Hello! That you, Doctor? This is the Eta Bita Pie House. I've some very
sad news to tell you. Hogboom was drowned to-day in the Weeping Water
River. We've just had a telegram--Yes, quite dead--No chance of a
mistake, I'm afraid--Yes, they recovered him--We're all broken up--Oh,
yes, he was a fine fellow--We loved him deeply--I'm glad you thought so
much of him--He was always so frank in his admiration of you--Yes, he
was honorable--Yes, and brilliant, too--Of course, we valued him for
his good fellowship, but, as you say, he was also an earnest boy--It's
awful--Yes, a fine athlete--I wish he could hear you say that,
Doctor--No, I'm afraid we can't fill his place--Yes, it is a loss to the
college--I guess you just address telegram to his folks at Weeping
Water--That's how we're sending ours--Good-night--Yes, a fine
fellow--Good-night."

Hogboom hung up the 'phone and went upstairs, where he lay for an hour
or two with his face full of pillows. The rest of us weren't so gay. We
could see the humor of the thing all right, but the awful fact that we
were murderers was beginning to hang over our heads. It was easy enough
to kill Hogboom, but now that he was dead the future looked tolerably
complicated. Suppose something happened? Suppose he didn't stay dead?
There's no peace for a murderer, anyway. We didn't sleep much that
night.

The next day it was worse. We sat around and entertained callers all
day. Half a hundred students called and brought enough woe to fit out a
Democratic headquarters on Presidential election night. They all had
something nice to say of Hoggy. We sat around and mourned and gloomed
and agreed with them until we were ready to yell with disgust.

Hogboom was the most disgracefully lively corpse I ever saw. He insisted
on sitting at the head of the stairs where he could hear every good word
that was said of him, and the things he demanded of us during the day
would have driven a stone saint to crime. Four times we went downtown
for pie; three times for cigarettes; once for all the Sunday newspapers,
and once for ice cream. As I told you, it was May, the time of the year
when street-car fare is a problem of financial magnitude. We had to
borrow money from the cook before night. Hoggy had us helpless, and he
was taking a mean and contemptible advantage of the fact that he was a
corpse. Half a dozen times we were on the verge of letting him come to
life. It would have served him right.

Old Siwash was just naturally submerged in sorrow when Monday morning
came. The campus dripped with sadness. The Faculty oozed regret at every
pore. We loyal friends of Hogboom were looked on as the chief mourners
and it was up to us to fill the part. We did our best. We talked with
the soft pedal on. We went without cigarettes. We wiped our eyes
whenever we got an audience. Time after time we told the sad story and
exhibited the telegram. By noon more particulars began to come in. Prexy
got an answer to his telegram of condolence. The funeral, the telegram
said, would be on Tuesday afternoon. There was great and universal grief
in Weeping Water, where Hogboom had been held in reverent esteem.
Hoggy's chum in the telegraph office simply laid himself out on that
telegram. Prexy read it to me himself and wiped his eyes while he did
it. He was a nice, sympathetic man, Prexy was, when he wasn't discussing
cuts or scholarship.

Getting the memorial meeting was so easy we hated to take it. The
Faculty met to pass resolutions Monday afternoon, and when our
delegation arrived they treated us like brothers. It was just like
entering the camp of the enemy under a flag of truce. Many a time I've
gone in on that same carpet, but never with such a feeling of holy calm.
"They would, of course, hold the memorial meeting," said Prexy. They had
in fact decided on this already. They would, of course, dismiss college
all day. It was, perhaps, best to hold the memorial in the morning if so
many of us were going out to Weeping Water. It was nice so many of us
could go. Prexy was going. So was the mathematics professor, old
"Ichthyosaurus" James, a very fine old ruin, whom Hogboom hated with a
frenzy worthy of a better cause, but who, it seemed, had worked up a
great regard for Hogboom through having him for three years in the same
trigonometry class.

We went out of Faculty meeting men and equals with the professors. They
walked down to the corner with us, I remember, and I talked with Cander,
the Polykon professor, who had always seemed to me to be the embodiment
of Comanche cruelty and cunning. We talked of Hogboom all the way to the
corner. Wonderful how deeply the Faculty loved the boy; and with what
Spartan firmness they had concealed all indications of it through his
career!

When Monday night came we began to breathe more easily. Of course there
was some kind of a deluge coming when Hogboom appeared, but that was
his affair. We didn't propose to monkey with the resurrection at all. He
could do his own explaining. To tell the truth, we were pretty sore at
Hogboom. He was making a regular Roman holiday out of his demise. It
kept four men busy running errands for him. We had to retail him every
compliment that we had heard during the day, especially if it came from
the Faculty. We had to describe in detail the effect of the news upon
six or seven girls, for all of whom Hogboom had a tender regard. He
insisted upon arranging the funeral and vetoed our plans as fast as we
made them. He was as domineering and ugly as if he was the only man who
had ever met a tragic end. He acted as if he had a monopoly. We hated
him cordially by Monday night, but we were helpless. Hoggy claimed that
being dead was a nerve-wearing and exhausting business, and that if he
didn't get the respect due to him as a corpse he would put on his plug
hat and a plush curtain and walk up the main street of Jonesville. And
as he was a football man and a blamed fool combined we didn't see any
way of preventing him.

However, everything looked promising. We had made all the necessary
arrangements. The students were to meet in chapel at nine o'clock in the
morning and eulogize Hogboom for an hour, after which college was to be
dismissed for the day in order that unlimited mourning could be indulged
in. There were to be speeches by the Faculty and by students. Maxfield,
the human textbook, was to make the address for the Senior class. We
chuckled when we thought how he was toiling over it. Noddy Pierce, of
our crowd, was to talk about Hogboom as a brother; Rogers, of the
football team, was to make a few grief-saturated remarks. So was
Perkins. Every one was confidently expecting Perkins to make the effort
of his life and swamp the chapel in sorrow. He was in the secret and he
afterward said that he would rather try to write a Shakespearean tragedy
offhand than to write another funeral oration about a man who he knew
was at that moment sitting in a pair of pajamas in an upper room half a
mile away and yelling for pie.

As a matter of fact, there were so many in the secret that we were dead
afraid that it would explode. We had to put the baseball team on so that
they would be prepared to go over to Hambletonian at noon. The game had
been called off, of course, and Hambletonian had been telegraphed. But I
was secretary of the Athletic Club and had done the telegraphing. So I
addressed the telegram to my aunt in New Jersey. It puzzled the dear old
lady for months, I guess, because she kept writing to me about it. We
had to tell all the fellows in the frat house and every one of the
conspirators let in a friend or two. There were about fifty students who
weren't as soggy with grief as they should have been by Monday night.

I blame Hogboom entirely for what happened. He started it when he
insisted that he be smuggled into the chapel to hear his own funeral
orations. We argued half the Monday night with him, but it was no use.
He simply demanded it. If all dead men are as disagreeable as Hogboom
was, no undertaker's job for me. He was the limit. He put on a blue
bath-robe and got as far as the door on his promenade downtown before we
gave in and promised to do anything he wanted. We had to break into the
chapel and stow him away in a little grilled alcove in the attic on the
side of the auditorium where he could hear everything. Sounds
uncomfortable, but don't imagine it was. That nervy slavedriver made us
lug over two dozen sofa pillows, a rug or two, a bottle of moisture and
three pies to while away the time with. That was where we first began to
think of revenge. We got it, too--only we got it the way Samson did when
he jerked the columns out from under the roof and furnished the material
for a general funeral, with himself in the leading rôle.

By the time we got Hogboom planted in his luxurious nest, about three
A. M., we were ready to do anything. Some of us were for giving the
whole snap away, but Pierce and Perkins and Rogers objected. They wanted
to deliver their speeches at the meeting. If we would leave it to them,
they said, they would see that justice was ladled out.

The whole college and most of the town were at the memorial meeting. It
was a grand and tear-spangled occasion. There were three grades of
emotion plainly visible. There was the resigned and almost pleased
expression of the students who weren't in on the deal and who saw a
vacation looming up for that afternoon; the grieved and sympathetic
sorrow of the Faculty who were attempting to mourn for what they had
always called a general school nuisance; and there was the phenomenally
solemn woe of the conspirators, who were spreading it on good and thick.

The Faculty spoke first. Beats all how much of a hypocrite a good man
can be when he feels it to be his duty. There was Bates, the Latin prof.
He had struggled with Hogboom three years and had often expressed the
firm opinion that, if Hoggy were removed from this world by a
masterpiece of justice of some sort, the general tone of civilization
would go up fifty per cent. Yet Bates got up that morning and
cried--yes, sir, actually cried. Cried into a large pocket handkerchief
that wasn't water-tight, either. That's more than Hoggy would ever have
done for him. And Prexy was so sympathetic and spoke so beautifully of
young soldiers getting drawn aside by Fate on their way to the battle,
and all that sort of thing, that you would have thought he had spent the
last three years loving Hogboom--whereas he had spent most of the time
trying to get some good excuse for rooting him out of school. You know
how Faculties always dislike a good football player. I think, myself,
they are jealous of his fame.

Maxfield made a telling address for the Senior class. He and Hoggy had
always disagreed, but it was all over now; and the way he laid it on was
simply wonderful. I thought of Hoggy up there behind the grilling,
swelling with pride and satisfaction as Maxfield told how brave, how
tender, how affectionate and how honorable he was, and I wished I was
dead, too. Being dead with a string to it is one of the finest things
that can happen to a man if he can just hang around and listen to
people.

Pierce got up. He was the college silver-tongue, and we settled back to
listen to him. Previous speakers had made Hoggy out about as fine as Sir
Philip Sidney, but they were amateurs. Here was where Hoggy went up
beside A. Lincoln and Alexander if Pierce was anywhere near himself.

There is no denying that Pierce started out magnificently. But pretty
soon I began to have an uneasy feeling that something was wrong. He was
eloquent enough, but it seemed to me that he was handling the deceased a
little too strenuously. You know how you can damn a man in nine ways and
then pull all the stingers out with a "but" at the end of it. That was
what Pierce was doing. "What if Hogboom was, in a way, fond of his
ease?" he thundered. "What if the spirit of good fellowship linked arms
with him when lessons were waiting, and led him to the pool hall? He may
have been dilatory in his college duties; he may have wasted his
allowance on billiards instead of in missionary contributions. He may
have owed money--yes, a lot of money. He may, indeed, have been a
little selfish--which one of us isn't? He may have frittered away time
for which his parents were spending the fruit of their early toil--but
youth, friends, is a golden age when life runs riot, and he is only half
a man who stops to think of petty prudence."

That was all very well to say about Rameses or Julius Cæsar or some
other deceased who is pretty well seasoned, but I'll tell you it made
the college gasp, coming when it did. It sounded sacrilegious and to me
it sounded as if some one who was noted as an orator was going to get
thumped by the late Mr. Hogboom about the next day. I perspired a lot
from nervousness as Pierce rumbled on, first praising the departed and
then landing on him with both oratorical feet. When he finally sat down
and mopped his forehead the whole school gave one of those long breaths
that you let go of when you have just come up from a dive under cold
water.

Rogers followed Pierce. Rogers wasn't much of a talker, but he surpassed
even his own record that day in falling over himself. When he tried to
illustrate how thoughtful and generous Hogboom was he blundered into the
story of the time Hoggy bet all of his money on a baseball game at
Muggledorfer, and of how he walked home with his chum and carried the
latter's coat and grip all the way. That made the Faculty wriggle, I can
tell you. He illustrated the pluck of the deceased by telling how
Hogboom, as a Freshman, dug all night alone to rescue a man imprisoned
in a sewer, spurred on by his cries--though Rogers explained in his
halting way, it afterward turned out that this was only the famous
"sewer racket" which is worked on every green Freshman, and that the
cries for help came from a Sophomore who was alternately smoking a pipe
and yelling into a drain across the road. Still, Rogers said, it
illustrated Hogboom's nobility of spirit. In his blundering fashion he
went on to explain some more of Hoggy's good points, and by the time he
sat down there wasn't a shred of the latter's reputation left intact.
The whole school was grinning uncomfortably, and the Faculty was acting
as if it was sitting, individually and collectively, on seventeen great
gross of red-hot pins.

By this time we conspirators were divided between holy joy and a fear
that the thing was going to be overdone. It was plain to be seen that
the Faculty wasn't going to stand for much more loving frankness. Pierce
whispered to Tad Perkins, Hogboom's chum, and the worst victim of his
posthumous whims, to draw it mild and go slow. Perkins was to make the
last talk, and we trembled in our shoes when he got up.

We needn't have feared for Perkins. He was as smooth as a Tammany
orator. He praised Hogboom so pathetically that the chapel began to show
acres of white handkerchiefs again. Very gently he talked over his
career, his bravery and his achievements. Then just as poetically and
gently he glided on into the biggest lie that has been told since
Ananias short-circuited retribution with his unholy tale.

"What fills up the heart and the throat, fellows," he swung along, "is
not the loss we have sustained; not the irreparable injury to all our
college activities; not even the vacant chair that must sit mutely
eloquent beside us this year. It's something worse than that. Perhaps I
should not be telling this. It's known to but a few of his most intimate
friends. The saddest thing of all is the fact that back in Weeping Water
there is a girl--a lovely girl--who will never smile again."

Phew! You could just feel the feminine side of the chapel
stiffen--Hogboom was the worst fusser in college. He was chronically in
love with no less than four girls and was devoted to dozens at a time.
We had reason to believe that he was at that time engaged to two, and
spring was only half over at that. This was the best of all; our revenge
was complete.

"A girl," Perkins purred on, "who has grown up with him from childhood;
who whispered her promise to him while yet in short dresses; who sat at
home and waited and dreamed while her knight fought his way to glory in
college; who treasured his vows and wore his ring and--"

"'Tain't so, you blamed idiot!" came a hoarse voice from above. If the
chapel had been stormed by Comanches there couldn't have been more of a
commotion. A thousand pairs of eyes focused themselves on the grill. It
sagged in and then disappeared with a crash. The towsled head of Hogboom
came out of the opening.

"I'll fix you for that, Tad Perkins!" he yelled. "I'll get even with you
if it takes me the rest of my life. I ain't engaged to any Weeping Water
girl. You know it, you liar! I've had enough of this--" You couldn't
hear any more for the shrieks. When a supposedly dead man sticks his
head out of a jog in the ceiling and offers to fight his Mark Antony it
is bound to create some commotion. Even the professors turned white. As
for the girls--great smelling salts, what a cinch! They fainted in
windrows. Some of us carried out as many as six, and you had better
believe we were fastidious in our choice, too.

There had never been such a sensation since Siwash was invented. Between
the panic-stricken, the dazed, the hilarious, the indignant and the
guilty wretches like myself, who were wondering how in thunder there was
going to be any explaining done, that chapel was just as coherent as a
madhouse. And then Hogboom himself burst in a side door, and it took
seven of us to prevent him from reducing Perkins to a paste and
frescoing him all over the chapel walls. Everybody was rattled but
Prexy. I think Prexy's circulation was principally ice water. When the
row was over he got up and blandly announced that classes would take up
immediately and that the Faculty would meet in extraordinary session
that noon.

How did we get out of it? Well, if you want to catch the last car, old
man, I'll have to hit the high spots on the sequel. Of course, it was a
tremendous scandal--a memorial meeting breaking up in a fight. We all
stood to be expelled, and some of the Faculty were sorry they couldn't
hang us, I guess, from the way they talked. But in the end it blew over
because there wasn't much of anything to hang on any one. The telegrams
were all traced to the agent at Weeping Water, and he identified the
sender as a long, short, thick, stout, agricultural-looking man in a
plug hat, or words to that effect. What's more, he declared it wasn't
his duty to chase around town confirming messages--he was paid to send
them. Hogboom had a harder time, but he, too, explained that he had come
home from Weeping Water a day late, owing to a slight attack of
appendicitis, and that when he found himself late for chapel he had
climbed up into the balcony through a side door to hear the chapel talk,
of which he was very fond, and had found, to his amazement, that he was
being reviled by his friends under the supposition that he was dead and
unable to defend himself. Nobody believed Hogboom, but nobody could
suggest any proof of his villainy--so the Faculty gave him an extra
five-thousand-word oration by way of punishment, and Hogboom made
Perkins write it in two nights by threats of making a clean breast. Poor
Hoggy came out of it pretty badly. I think it broke both of his
engagements, and what between explaining to the Faculty and studying to
make a good showing and redeem himself, he didn't have time to work up
another before Commencement--while the rest of us lived in mortal terror
of exposure and didn't enjoy ourselves a bit all through May, though it
was some comfort to reflect on what would have happened if the scheme
had worked--for Hambletonian beat us to a frazzle that afternoon.

That's what we got for monkeying with a solemn subject. But, pshaw! Who
cares in college? What a student can do is limited only by what he can
think up. Did I ever tell you what we did to the English Explorer? Take
another cigar. It isn't late yet.



CHAPTER V

COLLEGES WHILE YOU WAIT


Mind you, old head, I'm not saying that a little education isn't a good
thing in a college course. I learned a lot of real knowledge in school
myself that I wouldn't have missed for anything, though I have forgotten
it now. But what irritate me are the people who think that the education
you get in a modern American super-heated, cross-compound college comes
to you already canned in neat little textbooks sold by the trust at one
hundred per cent profit, and that all you have to do is to go to your
room with them, fill up a student lamp with essence of General Education
and take the lid off.

Honest, lots of them think that. It might have been so, too, in the good
old days when there was only one college graduate for each town and he
had to do the heavy thinking for the whole community. But, pshaw! the
easiest job in the world nowadays is to stuff your storage battery full
of Greek verbs and obituaries in English literature, and the hardest job
is to get it hitched up to something that will bring in the yellowbacks,
the chopped-wood furniture, the automobile tires and the large
majorities in the fall elections. I've seen brilliant boys at old
Siwash go out of college knowing everything that had ever happened in
the world up to one hundred years ago, and try to peddle hexameters in
the wholesale district in Chicago. And I've seen boys who slid through
the course just half a hair's breadth ahead of the Faculty boot, go out
and do the bossing for a whole Congressional district in five years.
They hadn't learned the exact chemical formula of the universe, but they
had learned how to run the blamed thing from practicing on the college
during study hours.

Not that I'm knocking on knowledge, you understand. Knowledge is, of
course, a grand thing to have around the house. But nowadays knowledge
alone isn't worth as much as it used to be, seems to me. A man has to
mix it up with imagination, and ingenuity, and hustle, and nerve, and
the science of getting mad at the right time, and a fourteen-year course
of study in understanding the other fellow. The college professors lump
all this in one course and call it applied deviltry. They don't put it
down in the catalogue and they encourage you to cut classes in it. But,
honestly, I wouldn't trade what I learned under Professor Petey Simmons,
warm boy and official gadfly to the Faculty, for all the Lat. and Greek
and Analit. and Diffy. Cal., and the other studies--whatever they
were--that I took in good old Siwash.

You remember Petey, of course. He went through Siwash in four years and
eight suspensions, and came out fresh--as fresh as when he went in,
which is saying a good deal. Every summer during his career the Faculty
went to a rest cure and tried to forget him. He was as handy to have
around school as a fox terrier in a cat show. There are two varieties of
college students--the midnight-oil and the natural-gas kind; and Petey
was a whole gas well in himself. Not that he didn't study. He was the
hardest student in the college, but he didn't recite much in classes.
Sometimes he recited in the police court, sometimes to his Pa back home,
and sometimes the whole college took a hand in looking over his
examination papers. He used to pass medium fair in Horace; sub-passable
in Trig., and extraordinary mediocre in Polikon. But his marks in
Imagination, the Psychological Moment and Dodging Consequences were plus
perfect, extra magnificent, and superlatively some, respectively.

I saw Petey last year. He is in Chicago now. You have to bribe a
doorkeeper and bluff a secretary to get to him--that is, you do if you
are an ordinary mortal. But if you give the Siwash yell or the Eta Bita
Pie whistle in the outside office he will emerge from his office out
over the railing in one joyous jump. He came to Chicago ten years ago
equipped with a diploma and a two-year tailor-bill back at Jonesville
that he had been afraid to tell his folks about. If he had been a
midnight-oil graduate he would have worn out three pairs of shoes
hunting for a business house which was willing to let an earnest young
scholar enter its employ at the bottom and rise gradually to the top as
the century went by. But Petey wasn't that kind. He had been used to
running the whole college and messing up the universe as far as one
could see from the Siwash belfry if things didn't suit him. So he picked
out the likeliest-looking institution on Dearborn Street and offered it
a position as his employer. He was on the payroll before the president
got over his daze. Two weeks later he promoted the firm to a more
responsible job--that of paying him a bigger salary--and a year ago the
general manager gave up and went to Europe for two years; said he would
take a positive pleasure in coming back and looking at the map of
Chicago after Petey had done it over to suit himself.

Imagination was what did it. You can't take Imagination in any college
classroom, but you can get more of it on the campus in four years than
you can anywhere else in the world. You've got to have a mighty good
imagination to get into any real warm trouble--and by the time you have
gotten out of it again you have had to double its horse-power. That was
Petey's daily recreation. In the morning he would think up an absolutely
air-tight reason for being expelled from Siwash as a disturber, an
anarchist, a superfluosity and a malefactor of great stealth. That night
he would go to his room and figure out an equally good proof that
nothing had happened or that whatever had happened was an act of
Providence and not traceable to any student. Figuring out ways for
selling bonds in carload lots was just recreation to him after a
four-year course of this sort.

But to back in on the main track. I whistled outside of Petey's office
the other day and went in with him past two magnates, three salesmen and
a bank president. I sat with my feet on a mahogany table--I wanted to
put them on an oak desk, but Petey declared mahogany was none too good
for a Siwash man--and we spent an hour talking over the time when Petey
manufactured excitement in wholesale lots at Siwash, with me for his
first assistant and favorite apprentice. Those are my proudest memories.
I won my track S. and got honorably mentioned in three Commencement
exercises; but when I want to brag of my college career do I mention
these things? Not unless I have a lot of time. When I want to paralyze
an alumnus of some rival college with admiration and envy, I tell him
how Petey and I manufactured a real Wild West college--buildings,
Faculty, bad men and all--for one day only, for the benefit of an
Englishman who had gotten fifteen hundred miles inland without noticing
the general color scheme of the inhabitants.

We met this chap accidentally--a little favor of Providence, which had a
special pigeonhole for us in those days. Our team had been using the
Kiowa football team as a running track on their own field that
afternoon, and the score was about 105 to 0 when the timekeeper turned
off the massacre. Naturally all Siwash was happy. I will admit we were
too happy to be careful. About two hundred of us made the hundred-mile
trip home by local train that night, and I remember wondering, when the
boys dumped the stove off the rear platform and tied up the conductor in
his own bell-rope, if we weren't getting just a little bit indiscreet;
and when a college boy really wonders if he is getting indiscreet he is
generally doing something that will keep the grand jury busy for the
next few months.

I was in the last car, and had just finished telling "Prince" Hogboom
that if he poked any more window-lights out with his cane he would have
to finish the year under an assumed name, when Petey crawled over two
mobs of rough-housers and came up to me. He was seething with
indignation. It was breaking out all over him like a rash. Petey was
excitable anyway.

"What do you suppose I've found in the next car?" he said, fizzing like
an escape valve.

"Prof?" said I, getting alarmed.

"Naw," said Petey; "worse than that. A chap that has never heard of
Siwash. Asked me if it was a breakfast food. He's an Englishman. I'm
ag'in' the English." He stopped and began kicking a water tank around to
relieve himself.

"How did he get this far away from home?" I asked.

"He's traveling," snorted Petey; "traveling to improve his mind.
Hopeless job. He's one of those quarter-sawed old beef-eaters who stop
thinking as soon as they've got their education. He's the editor of a
missionary publication, he told me, and he is writing some articles on
Heathen America. Honest, it almost made me boil over when he asked me if
anything was being done to educate the aborigines out here."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Do?" said Petey. "Why, I answered his question, of course. I told him
he wasn't fifty miles from a college this minute, and he said, 'Oh, I
say now! Are you spoofing me?' What's 'spoofing'?"

"Kidding, stringing, stuffing, jollying along, blowing east wind,
turning on the gas," says I. "'Spoofing' is University English. They
don't use slang over there, you know."

"Well, then, I spoofed him," said Petey, grinning. "He said it was
remarkable how very few revolvers he had seen, and then he wanted to
know why there was no shooting on the train with so much disorder. He's
pretty well posted now. I'd go a mile out of my way to help a poor dumb
chap like him. I told him this was the Y. M. C. A. section of Siwash and
that the real rough students were coming along on horseback. I said they
weren't allowed on the trains because they were so fatal to passengers.
I informed him that all the profs at Siwash went armed, and that the
course of study consisted of mining, draw poker, shooting from the hip,
broncho-busting, sheep-shearing, History of Art, bread-making and
Evidences of Christianity."

"Did he admit by that time that you were a good, free-handed liar?" I
asked.

"Admit nothing," said Petey; "he took it all down in his notebook and
remarked that in a wild country like this, remote from civilization, a
knowledge of bread-making would undoubtedly be invaluable to a man."

"He was spoofing you," says I.

"He wasn't," said Petey; "he thinks he's a thousand miles from a plug
hat this minute. He's so interested he is going to stop over for a day
or two and write up the college for his magazine. I've invited him to
stay at the Eta Bita Pie House with us, and we're going to show him a
real Wild West school if we have to shoot blank cartridges at the cook
to do it."

"Petey," said I solemnly, "some day you'll bump an asteroid when you go
up in the air like this. This friend of yours will take one look at
Siwash and ask you if Sapphira is feeling well these days."

"Bet you five, my opera hat, a good mandolin and a meal ticket on Jim's
place against your dress suit," said Petey promptly. "And you better not
take it, either."

"Done!" says I. "I bet you my hunting-case suit against your earthly
possessions that you can't tow old Britannia-rules-the-waves around
Siwash for a day without disclosing the fact that you are the best
catch-as-catch-can liar in this section of the solar system."

"All right," said Petey. "But you've got to help me win the stuff. This
is a great big contract. It's going to be my masterpiece, and I need
help."

"I'm with you clear to Faculty meeting, as usual," says I. "But what's
the use? He'll catch on."

"Leave that to me," said Petey. "Anyway, he won't catch on. When I told
him we had a checkroom for pappooses in the Siwash chapel he wrote it
down and asked if the Indians ever massacred the professors. He wouldn't
catch on if we fed him dog for dinner. Just come and see for yourself."

I agreed with Petey when I took a good look at the victim a minute
later. We found him in the car ahead, sitting on the edge of the seat
and looking as if he expected to be eaten alive, without salt, any
minute. You could have told that he was from extremely elsewhere at
first glance. He was as different as if he had worn tattoo-marks for
trousers. He was a stout party with black-rimmed eyeglasses, side
whiskers that you wouldn't have believed even if you had seen them, and
slabs of iron-gray hair with a pepper-and-salt traveling cap stuck on
top of his head like a cupola. He was beautifully curved and his black
preacher uniform looked as if it had been put on him by a paperhanger. I
forgot to tell you that his name was the Reverend Ponsonby Diggs. He had
to tell it to me four times and then write it down, for the way he
handled his words was positively heartless. He clipped them, beheaded
them, disemboweled them and warped them all out of shape. Have you ever
heard a real ingrowing Englishman start a word in the roof of his mouth
and then back away from it as if it was red-hot and had prickles on it?
It's interesting. They seem to think it is indecent to come brazenly out
and sound a vowel.

The Reverend Ponsonby Diggs--as near as I could get it he called himself
"Pubby Daggs"--greeted Petey with great relief. He seemed to regard us
as a rescue brigade. "Reahly, you know, this is extraordinary," he
sputtered. "I have never seen such disorder. What will the authorities
do?"

That touched my pride. "Pshaw, man!" I says; "we're only warming up.
Pretty soon we'll take this train out in the woods and lose it."

I meant it for a joke. But the Reverend Mr. Diggs hadn't specialized in
American jokes. "You don't mean to say they will derail the train!" he
said anxiously. Then I knew that Petey was going to win my dress suit.

I assured the Reverend--pshaw, I'm tired of saying all that! I'm going
to save breath. I assured Diggsey that derailing was the kindest thing
ever done to trains by Siwash students, but that as his hosts we would
stand by him, whatever happened. Then Petey slipped away to arrange the
cast and I kept on answering questions. Say! that man was a regular
magazine gun, loaded with interrogation points. Was there any danger to
life on these trains? Would it be possible for him to take a ride in a
stage-coach? Were train robbers still plentiful? Had gold ever been
found around Siwash? Were the Indians troublesome? Did we have regular
school buildings or did we live in tents? Had not the railroad had a
distinctly--er--civilizing influence in this region? Was it not, after
all, remarkable that the thirst for learning could be found even in this
wild and desolate country?

And Siwash is only half a day from Chicago by parlor car!

I answered his questions as well as I could. I told him how hard it was
to find professors who wouldn't get drunk, and how we had to let the men
and women recite on alternate days after a few of the hen students had
been winged by stray bullets. I had never heard of Greek, I said, but I
assured him that we studied Latin and that we had a professor to whom
Cæsar was as easy as print. I told him how hard we worked to get a
little culture and how many of the boys gave up their ponies altogether,
wore store clothes and took 'em off when they went to bed all the time
they were in college; but, try as I would, I couldn't make the answers
as ridiculous as his questions. He had me on the mat, two points down
and fighting for wind all the time. His thirst for knowledge was
wonderful and his objection to believing what his eyes must have told
him was still more wonderful. There he was, half-way across the country
from New York, and he must have looked out of the car windows on the
way; but he hadn't seen a thing. I suppose it was because he wasn't
looking for anything but Indians.

All this time Petey was circulating about the car, taking aside members
of the Rep Rho Betas and talking to them earnestly. The Rep Rho Betas
were the Sophomore fraternity and were the real demons of the college.
Each year the outgoing Sophomore class initiated the twenty Freshmen who
were most likely to meet the hangman on professional business and passed
on the duties of the fraternity to them. The fraternity spent its time
in pleasure and was suspected of anything violent which happened in the
county. Petey was highbinder of the gang that year and was very far gone
in crime.

We were due home about ten P. M., and just before they untied the
conductor Petey hauled me off to one side.

"It's all fixed," he said; "it's glorious. We'll just make Siwash into a
Wild West show for his benefit. The Rep Rho Betas will entertain him
days and he'll stay at the Eta Pie House nights. I'm putting the Eta
Bites on now. You've got to get him off this train before we get to the
station and keep him busy while I arrange the program. Just give me an
hour before you get him there. That's all I ask."

Now I never was a diplomat, and the job of lugging a fat old foreigner
around a dead college town at night and trying to make him think he was
in peril of his life every minute was about three numbers larger than
my size. I couldn't think of anything else, so I slipped the word to Ole
Skjarsen that Diggs was a Kiowa professor who was coming over to get
notes on our team and tip them off to Muggledorfer College. I judged
this would create some hostility and I wasn't mistaken. Ole began to
climb over his fellow-students and I was just able to beat him to his
prey.

"Come on," I whispered. "Skjarsen's on the warpath. He says he wants to
bite up a stranger and he thinks you'll do."

"Oh, my dear sir," said the Reverend Ponsonby, jumping up and grabbing a
hatbox, "you don't mean to tell me that he will use violence?"

"Violence nothing!" I yelled, picking up four pieces of baggage. "He
won't use violence. He'll just eat you alive, that's all. He's awful
that way. Come, quick!"

"Oh, my word!" said Diggsey, grabbing his other five bundles and piling
out of the car after me.

The train was slowing down for the crossing west of Jonesville, and I
judged it wouldn't hurt the great collector of Western local color to
roll a little. So I yelled, "Jump for your life!" He jumped. I swung off
and went back till I met him coming along on his shoulder-blades, with a
procession of baggage following him. He wasn't hurt a bit, but he looked
interesting. I brushed him off, cached the baggage--all but a suitcase
and the hatbox which he hadn't dropped for a minute--and we began to
edge unostentatiously into Jonesville.

For an hour or more we dodged around in alleys and behind barns, while
up on the campus the boys burned a woodshed, an old fruit-stand, half a
hundred drygoods boxes and half a mile of wooden sidewalk by way of
celebration. The glare in the sky was wild enough to satisfy any one,
and when some of the boys got the old army muskets that the cadets
drilled with out of the armory and banged away, I was happy. But how I
did long to be close up to that fire! It was a cold night in early
November, and as I lay behind woodsheds, with my teeth wearing
themselves out on each other, I felt like an early Christian
martyr--though it wasn't cold they suffered from as a rule. As for the
Reverend Pubby, he wanted to creep away to the next town and then start
for England disguised as a chorus girl, or anything; but I wouldn't let
him. We sneaked around till nearly midnight and then crept up the alley
to the Eta Bita Pie House, wondering if we would ever get warm again.

I've seen some grand transformation scenes, but I never saw anything
more impressive than the way the Eta Bita Pie House had been done over
in two hours. We always prided ourselves on our house. It cost fifteen
thousand dollars, exclusive of the plumber's little hold-up and the
Oriental rugs, and it was full of polished floors and monogram
silverware and fancy pottery and framed prints, and other
bang-up-to-date incumbrances. But in two hours thirty boys can change a
whole lot of scenery. They had spread dirt and sand over the floor, had
ripped out the curtains and chased the pictures. They had poked out a
window-light or two, had unhung a few doors, and had filled the corners
with saddles, old clothes, flour barrels and dogs. You never saw so many
dogs. The whole neighborhood had been raided. They were hanging round
everywhere, homesick and miserable; and one of the Freshmen had been
given the job of cruising around and kicking them just to keep them
tuned up.

A dozen of the fellows were playing poker on an old board table in the
middle of the big living-hall when we came in. Their clothes were
hand-me-downs from Noah's time, and every one of them was outraging some
convention or other. Our boys always did go in for amateur theatricals
pretty strongly, and the way our most talented members abused the
English language that night when they welcomed the Reverend Pubby was as
good as a book.

"Proud ter meet you," roared Allie Bangs, our president, taking off his
hat and making a low bow. "Set right in and enjoy yourself. White chips
is a dime, limit is a dollar and no gunplay goes."

When Pubby had explained for the third time that he had never had the
pleasure of playing the game, Bangs finally got on to the curves in his
pronunciation and understood him.

"What! Never played poker!" he whooped. "Hell a humpin', where was you
raised? You sure ain't a college man? Any lop-eared galoot that didn't
play poker in Siwash would get run out by the Faculty. You ought to see
our president put up his pile and draw to a pair of deuces. What!--a
Reverend! I beg your pardon, friend. 'S all right. Jest name the game
you're strong at and we'll try to accommodate you later on. Here, you
fellows, watch my chips while I show the Reverend around our diggin's.
You nip one like you did last time, Turk Bowman, and there'll be the
all-firedest row that this shack has ever seed. Come right along,
Reverend."

[Illustration: "Har's das spy'" he yelled "Kill him, fallers, he ban a
spy!"
                    _Page 132_]

That tour was a great triumph for Bangs. We always did admire his
acting, but he outdid himself that night. The rest of us just kept quiet
and let him handle the conversation, and I must say it sounded desperate
enough to be convincing. Of course he slipped up occasionally and stuck
in words that would have choked an ordinary cow-gentleman, but Diggsey
was that dazed he wouldn't have suspected if they had been Latin. I
thought it would be more or less of a job to explain how we were living
in a fifteen-thousand-dollar house instead of dugouts, but Bangs never
hesitated a minute. He explained that the house belonged to a
millionaire cattle-owner who had built it from reading a society novel,
and that he let us live in it because he preferred to live in the barn
with the horses. The boys had filled their rooms full of junk and one of
them had even tied a pig to his bed--while the way Bangs cleared
rubbish out of the bathtub and promised to have some water heated in the
morning was convincingly artless. He had just finished explaining that,
owing to the boiler-plate in the walls, the house was practically Indian
proof, when an awful fusillade of shots broke out from the kitchen.
Bangs disappeared for a moment, gun in hand, and I watched our guest
trying to make himself six inches narrower and three feet shorter. I
don't know when I ever saw a chap so anxious to melt right down into a
corner and be mistaken for a carpet tack.

"'S all right," said Bangs, clumping in cheerfully. "Jest the cook
having another fit. We've got a cook," he explained, "who gets loaded up
'bout oncet a month so full that he cries pure alcohol, and when he gits
that way he insists on trying to shoot cockroaches with his gun. He
ain't never killed one, but he's gotten two Chinamen and a mule, and
we've got to put a stop to it. He's tied up in the cellar a-swearin'
that if he gits loose he'll come upstairs and furnish material for
nineteen fancy funerals with silver name-plates. But, don't you worry,
Reverend. He can't hurt a fly 'less he gits loose. Here's your room.
That hoss blanket on the cot's brand new; towel's in the hall and you'll
find a comb somewheres round. Just you turn in if you feel like it, and
when you hear Wall-Eye Denton and Pete Pearsall trying to massacre each
other in the next room it's time to git up."

Pubby said he would retire at once, and we left him looking scared but
relieved. I'll bet he sat up all night taking notes and expecting things
to happen. We sat up, too, but for a different reason. You can't imagine
how much work it took to get that house running backward. And it was an
awful job to do the Wild West stunt, too. We sat and criticised each
other's dialect and actions until there were as many as three free
fights going on at once. One man favored the Bret Harte style of bad
man; another adhered to the Henry Wallace Phillips brand; while still
another insisted on following the Remington school. We compromised on a
mixture and then spent the rest of the night learning how to forget our
table manners.

The result was magnificent. I shall never forget the Reverend Pubby's
pained but fascinated expression as he sat at breakfast the next morning
and watched thirty hungry savages shoveling plain, unvarnished grub into
their faces. The breakfast couldn't have gone better if we had had a
dress rehearsal. Our guest couldn't eat. He was afraid to talk. He just
held on to his chair, and we could see him stiffen with horror every
time some eater would rise up so as to increase his reach and spear a
piece of bread six feet away with his fork. The breakfast was a
disgusting display of Poland-China manners and was successful in every
particular.

We confidently expected Petey Simmons to turn up during the meal and
tell us what to do next. He had spent the night with his odoriferous
Rep Rho Beta brothers cooking up the rest of the plot and had promised
to run up at breakfast. But no Petey appeared. We strung the meal along
as far as we could toward dinner and then took up the job of keeping the
Reverend Pubby contented and in the house until the life-saving crew
arrived. Did you ever try to lie all morning with a slow-speed
imagination? That's what we had to do. We explained to Pubby that the
students caroused all night and never came to college in the morning; we
told him it was against the rules for strangers to go on the campus in
the morning; we told him it was dangerous to go out-of-doors because of
the Alfalfa Delta, who were suspected of being cannibals; we told him
forty thousand things, most of which contradicted each other. If it
hadn't been for the boys who kindly started a fight whenever his
reverence had tangled Bangs and me up hopelessly on some question we
couldn't have survived the inquisition. As it was, I perspired about a
barrel and my brain ached for a week.

We went to lunch and put on another exhibition of free-hand feeding,
getting more grumpy and disgusted every minute. We were all ready to
yell for mercy and put on our civilized clothes when we heard a terrific
riot from outside. Then Petey came in.

If there ever was a sure-enough Wild Westerner it was Petey that
afternoon. He had on the whole works--two-acre hat, red woolen shirt,
spurs, and even chaps--nice hairy ones. I discovered next day that he
had swiped my fine bearskin rug and cut it up to make them. In his belt
he had a revolver which couldn't have been less than two feet long.
Petey was a little fellow, with one of those nineteen-sizes-too-large
voices, and when he turned the full organ on you would have thought old
Mount Vesuvius had wakened up and rumbled into the room.

"Howdy, Reverend," he thundered. "We jest come along to take you on a
little ride over to college. Got a nice gentle cow-pony out here. She
bucks as easy as a rockin'-horse. Don't mind about your clothes. Just
hop right on. The boys is some anxious to get along, it being most
classtime."

We followed the two of them out to the back yard. There were seven Rep
Rho Betas on seven moth-eaten ponies which they had dug up from goodness
knows where. The rigs they had on represented each fellow's idea of what
a cowboy looked like, and would have made a real cowpuncher hang himself
for shame. Petey confessed afterward that, of all the Rep Rho Betas,
only seven had ever been on a horse, and, of these, three kept him in
agony for fear they would fall off and compel him to explain that they
were on the verge of delirium tremens. They were a weird-looking bunch,
but, gee! they were fierce. Pirates would have been kittens beside them.

[Illustration: We spent another five minutes hoisting him aboard a
prehistoric plug
                    _Page 125_]

I guess the Reverend Pubby had never done much in the Centaur line, for
he came very near balking entirely right there. It took us five minutes
to explain that there was no other way of getting out to Siwash and
that the Faculty would take it as a personal insult if he didn't come.
We also had to explain how disagreeable the Faculty was when it was
insulted. And then after he had consented we spent another five minutes
hoisting him aboard a prehistoric plug and telling him how to stick on.
Then the line filed out through the alley with a regular ghost-dance
yell, while we detained Petey. We were about to massacre him for leaving
us to sweat all morning, but we forgot all about it when Petey told us
what he had been doing. He admitted that, in order not to annoy the
profs and cause unnecessary questions, he had taken the liberty to build
a temporary Siwash College for this special occasion.

Yes, sir; nothing less than that. You remember Dillpickle Academy, the
extinct college in the west part of town? It had been closed for years
because the only remaining student had gotten lonesome. But most of the
equipment was still there, and Petey had borrowed it of the caretaker
for one day only, promising to give it back as good as new in the
morning. Petey could have borrowed the great seal away from the
Department of State. He and his Rep Rho Betas had let a lot of students
into the deal, had been working all morning, and Siwash was ready for
business at the new stand.

We wanted to measure Petey for a medal then and there, but he refused,
being needed on the firing-line. He rode off and we made a grand rush
for the new Siwash College--special one-day stand, benefit performance.
We got there before the escorting committee and had a fine view of the
grand entry. The Reverend Pubby had fallen off four times, and the last
mile he had led his horse. It was a sagacious scheme bringing him along,
as none of the others had a chance to exhibit their extremely sketchy
horsemanship in anything better than a mile-an-hour gait.

Old Dillpickle Academy was busier than it had ever been in real life
when we got there. Fully fifty students were on the scene. They were
decked out in cowboy clothes, hand-me-downs, big straw hats,
blankets--any old thing. One thing that impressed me was the number of
books they were carrying. At Siwash we always refused to carry books
except when absolutely necessary. It seemed too affected--as if you were
trying to learn something. But out there at near-Siwash every man had at
least six books. I saw geographies, spellers, Ella Wheeler Wilcox's
poems, Science and Health, and the Congressional Record. Learning was
just naturally rampant out there. Students were studying on the fence.
They were walking up and down the campus "boning" furiously. They were
even studying in the trees. You get fifty college boys to turn actors
for a day and you will see some mighty mixed results. There was "Bay"
Sanderson, for instance. "Bay's" idea of being a wild and Western
student was to sit on the front gate with a long knife stuck in his
belt and read detective stories. He did it all through the performance,
and whenever the guest was led past him he would turn the book down
carefully, pull the knife out of his belt and whoop three times as
solemn as a judge.

You never saw any one so interested as the Reverend Ponsonby Diggs. His
eyes stuck out like incandescent globes. He had been pretty well jolted
up, and he yelled in a low, polite way every time he made a quick
movement, but his thirst for information was still vigorous. As head
host Petey was pumpee, and he was always four laps ahead of the job.

"Eh, I say," said Pubby, after surveying the scene for a few minutes.
"This is all very interesting, you know. But what a little place!"

"Hell, Reverend," said Petey emphatically, "she's the biggest school in
the world."

The Reverend was a man of guile. He didn't bat an eye.

"How many students has the college?" he inquired.

"We've got a hundred, all studying books and learning things," said
Petey proudly.

"Reahly, now?" said the Reverend; "I say, reahly? And these cows! Might
I ask if these cows are a part of the college?"

"Sure thing," said Petey. "Sophomore roping class uses 'em. Great class
to watch."

"I say now, this is extraordinary," said the Reverend. "You don't mean
to tell me you tie up cows?"

"Rope 'em and tie 'em and brand 'em," said Petey. "What's college for if
it ain't to learn you things?"

"I say now, this is extraordinary," said the Reverend. I gave him four
more "extraordinaries" before I did something violent. He'd used two
hundred that morning. "Might I see the class at work?" he inquired.

Petey didn't even hesitate. "Sorry, Reverend," says he. "But the
Professor of Roping and Branding has been drunk for a week. Class ain't
working now."

The college bell tapped three times. "That's cleaning-up bell," said
Petey.

"Oh, I say now," said the Reverend, hauling out his notebook. "What's
cleaning-up bell?"

"Why, to clean up the college," said Petey. "We clean it up once a week.
With the fellows riding their horses into class and tracking mud and
clay in, and eating lunches and stuff around, it gets pretty messy
before the end of the week. We make the Freshmen clean it out. There
they go now."

A dozen "supes" filed slowly into the building with brooms and shovels.
Pubby couldn't have looked more interested if they had been crowned
heads of Europe.

Just then a fine assortment of sounds broke out in the old building. The
doors burst open and a young red-headed Mick from the seventh ward near
by rode a pony down the steps and away for dear life. Behind him came a
double-sized gent with yard-wide mustaches. He was dressed in a red
shirt, overalls and firearms. He was a walking museum of weapons. Petey
told me afterward that he had borrowed him from the roundhouse near by,
and that for a box of cigars he had kindly consented to play the part of
an irritable arsenal for one afternoon only.

"That's the janitor," said Petey in an awestruck whisper. "Get behind a
tree, quick. He's sure some vexed. He hates to have the boys ride their
ponies into classroom."

We got a fine view of the janitor as he swept past. He was a regular
volcano in pants. Never have I heard the English language more richly
embossed with profanity. Firing a fat locomotive up the grades around
Siwash with bad coal gives a man great talent in expression. We listened
to him with awe. Pubby was entranced. He asked me if it would be safe to
take anything down in his notebook, and when I promised to protect him
he wrote three pages.

By this time the campus was filling up. Word had gotten around the real
college that the big show of the season was being pulled off up at
Dillpickle, and the students were arriving by the dozen. We were getting
pretty nervous. The new arrivals weren't coached, and sooner or later
they were bound to give the snap away. We decided to introduce our guest
to the president. If we could keep things quiet another half hour all
would be safe, Petey assured us.

We took the Reverend up to the main entrance, Petey's thinker working
like a well-oiled machine all the way. He pointed out the tree where
they hanged a horse thief, and Pubby made us wait till he had gotten a
leaf from it. The Senior classes at Dillpickle had had the custom of
hauling boulders on to the campus as graduation presents. Petey
explained that each boulder marked the resting place of some student
whose career had been foreshortened accidentally, and he described
several of the tragedies--invented them right off the reel. Pubby was so
interested he didn't care who saw his notebook. When Petey told him how
a pack of timber wolves had besieged the school for nine days and
nights, four years before, he almost cried because there was no
photograph of the scene handy. We had to promise him a wolf skin to
comfort him.

Dillpickle Academy was a plain old brick building, with one of those
cupolas which were so popular among schools and colleges forty years
ago. I don't know just what mysterious effect a cupola has on education,
but it was considered necessary at that time. In front of the building
was a wide stone porch. Inside we could see half a dozen dogs and a
horse. Pubby looked a bushel of exclamation points when Petey explained
that they belonged to the president. He looked a lot more when he saw a
counter with a fine assortment of chewing tobacco and pipes on it.
That, Petey whispered to me, was his masterpiece. He had borrowed the
whole thing from a corner grocery store.

Petey had just put his eye to the window of the president's room,
ostensibly to find out whether Prexy was in a good humor and in reality
to find out whether Kennedy, an old grad who had consented to play the
part, was on duty, when one of the boys hurried up and grabbed me.

"Just evaporate as fast as you can," he whispered; "there are six cops
on the way out. They're going to pinch the whole bunch of us."

Now this was a fine predicament for a young and promising college--to be
arrested by six lowly cops on its own campus, in the act of showing a
distinguished visitor how it ran the earth, and was particular Hades
with the trigger-finger! Bangs was showing Pubby the window through
which the Professor of Arithmetic had thrown him the term before, and I
told Petey. He sat down and cried.

"After all this work and just as we had it cinched!" he moaned. "I'll
quit school to-morrow and devote my life to poisoning policemen. This
has made an anarchist of me."

There was nothing to do. We couldn't very well explain that the college
would now have to run away and hide because some enthusiastic Freshman
had fired a horse-pistol on the streets of Jonesville. I looked at the
crowd of fantastic students getting ready to bolt for the fence. I
looked at our victim, fairly punching words into his notebook. It was
the brightest young dream that was ever busted by a fat loafer in brass
buttons. Then I saw Ole Skjarsen and had my one big inspiration.

"Excuse me," I said, rushing over to Pubby, "but you'll have to mosey
right out of here. There's Ole Skjarsen, and he looks ugly."

"Oh, my word!" said Pubby; he remembered Ole from the night before.

"Right around the building!" yelled Petey, grabbing the cue. Naturally
Ole heard him and saw those whiskers. "Har's das spy!" he yelled. "Kill
him, fallers; he ban a spy!" We dashed around the building, Ole
following us. And then, because the cops had arrived at the front gate,
the whole mob thundered after us.

[Illustration: He may have been fat, but how he could run!
                    _Page 132_]

Well, sir, you never saw a more successful race in your life. There were
no less than a hundred Siwash students behind us, and, though no one but
Ole Skjarsen had any interest in us, they were all trying to break the
sprint record in our direction, it being the line of least resistance.
And, say! We certainly had misjudged the Reverend Ponsonby Diggs. He may
have been fat, but how he could run! His work was phenomenal. I think he
must have been on a track team himself at some earlier part of his
career, for the way he steamed away from the gang would have reminded
you of the _Lusitania_ racing the Statue of Liberty. He lost his cap. He
shed his long black coat. He rolled over the fence at the rear of the
campus without even hesitating, and the last we saw of him he was going
down the road out of Jonesville into the west, his legs revolving in a
blue haze. Even if we had wanted to stop him, we couldn't have caught
him. And besides, Ole caught Petey and me just outside of the campus and
we had to do some twenty-nine-story-tall explaining to keep from getting
punched for harboring spies. No one had thought to put him next to the
game.

That all? Goodness, no! We cleaned up for a week and had been so good
that the Faculty had about decided that nothing had happened when the
Reverend Ponsonby Diggs appeared in Jonesville again. He came with a
United States marshal for a bodyguard, too. He had footed it to the next
town, it seems, and had wired the nearest British consul that he had
been attacked by savages at Siwash College and robbed of all his
baggage. They say he demanded battleships or a Hague conference, or
something of the sort, and that the consul's office asked a Government
officer to go out and pacify him. They stepped off the train at the
Union Station and went right up to college--only four blocks away.

Petey and I remained considerably invisible, but the boys tell me that
the look on the Reverend's face when he arrived at the real Siwash was
worth perpetuating in bronze. He went up the fine old avenue, past the
fine new buildings, in a daze; and when our good old Prexy, who had him
skinned forty ways for dignity, shook hands with him and handed him a
little talk that was a saturated solution of Latin, he couldn't even say
"most extraordinary." You can realize how far gone he was.

Some of the boys got hold of the marshal that day and told him the
story. He laughed from four P. M. until midnight, with only three stops
for refreshments. The Reverend Pubby Diggs stayed three days as the
guest of the Faculty and he didn't get up nerve enough in all that time
to talk business. We saw him at chapel where he couldn't see us, and he
looked like a man who had suddenly discovered, while falling out of his
aeroplane, that somebody had removed the earth and had left no address
behind. His baggage mysteriously appeared at his room in the hotel on
the first night, and when he left he hadn't recovered consciousness
sufficiently to inquire where it came from. I think he went right back
to England when he left Siwash, and I'll bet that by now he has almost
concluded that some one had been playing a joke on him. You give those
Englishmen time and they will catch on to almost anything.



CHAPTER VI

THE GREEK DOUBLE CROSS


Suffering bear-cats! Say! excuse me while I take a long rest, Jim. I
need it. I've just read a piece of information in this letter that makes
me tired all over.

What is it? Oh, just another variety of competition smothered with a
gentlemanly agreement--that's all; another bright-eyed little trust
formed and another readjustment of affairs on a business basis. We old
fellows needn't break our necks to get back to Siwash and the frat this
fall, they write me. Of course they'll be delighted to see us and all
that; but there's no burning need for us and we needn't jump any jobs to
report in time to put the brands on the Freshmen and rescue them from
the noisome Alfalfa Delts and Sigh Whoops--because there isn't going to
be any rescuing this fall.

They've had an agreement at Siwash. They're going to approach the
Freshies under strict rules. No parties. No dinners at the houses. No
abductions. No big, tall talk about pledging to-night or staggering
through a twilight life to a frowzy-headed and unimportant old age in
some bum bunch. All done away with. Everything nice and orderly.
Freshman arrives. You take his name and address. Call on him, attended
by referees. Maintain a general temperature of not more than sixty-five
when you meet him on the campus. Buy him one ten-cent cigar during the
fall and introduce him to one girl--age, complexion and hypnotic power
to be carefully regulated by the rushing committee. Then you send him a
little engraved invitation to amalgamate with you; and when he answers,
per the self-addressed envelope inclosed, you are to love him like a
brother for the next three and a half years. Gee! how that makes me
ache!

Think of it! And at old Siwash, too!--Siwash, where we never considered
a pledge safe until we had him tied up in a back room, with our colors
on him and a guard around the house! That settles me. I've always
yearned to go back and cavort over the campus in the fall when college
opened; but not for me no more! Why, if I went back there and got into
the rushing game, first thing I knew they'd have me run up before a
pan-Hellenic council, charged with giving an eligible Freshman more than
two fingers when I shook hands with him; and I'd be ridden out of town
on a rail for rushing in an undignified manner.

Rushing? What's rushing? Oh, yes; I forgot that you never participated
in that delicious form of insanity known as a fall term in college.
Rushing is a cross between proposing to a girl and abducting a coyote.
Rushing a man for a frat is trying to make him believe that to belong to
it is joy and inspiration, and to belong to any other means misery and
an early tomb; that all the best men in college either belong to your
frat or couldn't get in; that you're the best fellows on earth, and that
you're crazy to have him, and that he is a coming Senator; that you
can't live without him; that the other gang can't appreciate him; that
you never ask men twice; that you don't care much for him anyway, and
that you are just as likely as not to withdraw the spike any minute if
you should happen to get tired of the cut of his trousers; that your
crowd can make him class president and the other crowds can make him
fine mausoleums; that you love him like real brothers and that he has
already bound himself in honor to pledge--and that if he doesn't he will
regret it all his life; and, besides, you will punch his head if he
doesn't put on the colors. That's rushing for you.

What's my crowd? Why, the Eta Bita Pie, of course. Couldn't you tell
that from my skyscraper brow? We Eta Bites are so much better than any
other frat that we break down and cry now and then when we think of the
poor chaps who can't belong to us. We're bigger, grander, nobler and
tighter about the chest than any other gang. We've turned out more
Senators, Congressmen, Supreme Justices, near-Presidents, captains of
industry, foreign ambassadors and football captains than any two of
them. We own more frat houses, win more college elections, know more
about neckties and girls, wear louder vests and put more cross-hatch
effects on our neophytes than any three of them. We're so immeasurably
ahead of everything with a Greek-letter name that every Freshman of
taste and discrimination turns down everything else and waits until we
crook our little finger at him. Of course, sometimes we make a mistake
and ask some fellow that isn't a man of taste and discrimination; he
proves it by going into some other frat; and that, of course, keeps all
the men of poor judgment out of our gang and puts them in the others.
Regular automatic dispensation of Providence, isn't it?

It's been a long time since I had a chance to gather with the brethren
back at Siwash and agree with them how glorious we are, but this note
brings it all back. My! how I'd like this minute to go back about ten
years and cluster around our big grate fire, which used to make the
Delta Kaps so crazy with envy. Those were the good old days when we came
back to college in the fall, looked over the haycrop in the Freshman
class, picked out the likeliest seed repositories, and then proceeded to
carve them out from the clutches of a round dozen rival frats, each one
crazy to get a spike into every new student who looked as if he might be
president of the Senior class and an authority on cotillons some day. No
namby-pamby, drop-three-and-carry-one crochet effects about our rushing
those days! We just stood up on our hind legs and scrapped it out. For
concentrated, triple-distilled, double-X excitement, the first three
weeks of college, with every frat breaking its collective neck to get a
habeas corpus on the same six or eight men, had a suffragette riot in
the House of Parliament beaten down to a dove-coo.

There was nothing that made us love a Freshman so hard as to have about
six other frats after him. I've seen women buy hats the same way.
They've got to beat some other woman to a hat before they can really
appreciate it. And when we could swat half a dozen rival frats over the
heart by waltzing a good-looking young chap down the walk to chapel with
our colors on his coat, and could watch them turning green and purple
and clawing for air--well, I guess it beat getting elected to Congress
or marrying an heiress-apparent for pure, unadulterated, unspeckled joy!

Competition was getting mighty scarce in the country even then. There
were understandings between railroad magnates and beef kings and biscuit
makers--and even the ministers had a scale of wedding fees. But
competition had a happy home on our campus. About the best we had been
able to do had been to agree not to burn down each other's frat houses
while we were haltering the Freshmen. I've seen nine frats, with a total
of one hundred and fifty members, sitting up nights for a week at a time
working out plans to despoil each other of a runty little fellow in a
pancake hat, whose only accomplishment was playing the piano with his
feet. One frat wanted him and that started the others.

Of course we'd have got along better if we'd put the whole Freshman
class in cold storage until we could have found out who the good men
were and who the spoiled fruit might be. We were just as likely to fall
in love with a suit of clothes as with a future class orator. We took in
one man once because he bought a pair of patent-leather tan shoes in his
Junior year. We argued that, if he had the nerve to wear the things to
his Y. M. C. A. meetings, there must be some originality in him after
all--and we took a chance. We won. But it's a risky business. Once five
frats rushed a fellow for a month because of the beautiful clothes he
wore--and just after the victorious bunch had initiated him a clothing
house came down on the young man and took the whole outfit. You can't
always tell at first sight. But then, I don't know but that college
fraternities exercise as much care and judgment in picking brothers as
women do in picking husbands. Many a woman has married a fine mustache
or a bunch of noble clothes and has taken the thing that wore them on
spec. That's one more than we ever did. You could fool us with clothes;
but the man who came to Siwash with a mustache had to flock by himself.
He and his whiskers were considered to be enough company for each other.

There were plenty of frats in Siwash to make things interesting in the
fall. There were the Alfalfa Delts, who had a house in the same block
with us and were snobbish just because they had initiated a locomotive
works, two railroads and a pickle factory. Then there were the Sigh
Whoopsilons, who got to Siwash first and who regarded the rest of us
with the same kindly tolerance with which the Indians regarded Daniel
Boone. And there were the Chi Yis, who fought society hard and always
had their picture taken for the college annual in dress suits. Many's
the time I've loaned my dress suit to drape over some green young Chi
Yi, so that the annual picture could show an unbroken row of open-faced
vests. And there were the Shi Delts, who were a bold, bad bunch; and the
Fli Gammas, who were good, pious boys, about as exciting as a
smooth-running prayer-meeting; and the Delta Kappa Sonofaguns, who got
every political office either by electing a member or initiating one;
and the Delta Flushes; and the Mu Kow Moos; the Sigma Numerous; and two
or three others that we didn't lie awake nights worrying about. Every
one of these bunches had one burning ambition--that was to initiate the
very best men in the Freshman class every fall. That made it necessary
for us, in order to maintain our proud position, to disappoint each one
of them every year and to make ourselves about as popular as the
directors of a fresh-air and drinking-water trust.

Of course we always disappointed them. Wouldn't admit it if we didn't.
But, holy mackerel! what a job it was! Herding a bunch of green and
timid and nervous and contrary youngsters past all the temptations and
pitfalls and confidence games and blarneyfests put up by a dozen frats,
and landing the bunch in a crowd that it had never heard of two weeks
before, is as bad as trying to herd a bunch of whales into a fishpond
with nothing but hot air for gads. It took diplomacy, pugnacity and
psychological moments, I tell you; and it took more: it took ingenuity
and inventiveness and cheek and second sight and cool heads in time of
trouble and long heads on the job, from daybreak to daybreak. I'd rather
go out and sell battleships to farmers, so far as the toughness of the
job is concerned, than to tackle the job of persuading a wise young
high-school product with two chums in another frat that my bunch and he
were made for each other. What did he care for our glorious history? We
had to use other means of getting him. We had to hypnotize him, daze
him, waft him off his feet; and if necessary we had to get the other
frats to help us. How? Oh, you never know just how until you have to;
and then you slip your scheme wheels into gear and do it. You just have
to; that's all. It's like running away from a bear. You know you can't,
but you've got to; and so you do.

Makes me smile now when I think of some of the desperate crises that
used to roll up around old Eta Bita Pie like a tornado convention and
threaten to engulf the bright, beautiful world and turn it into a
howling desert, peopled only by Delta Kappa Whoops and other
undesirables. I'm far enough away, now, to forget the heart-bursting
suspense and to see only the humor of it. Once I remember the Shi Delts,
in spite of everything we could do, managed so to befog the brain of the
Freshman class president that he cut a date with us and sequestered
himself in the Shi Delt house in an upper back room, with the horrible
intention of pledging himself the next morning. Four of the largest Shi
Delts sat on the front porch that evening and the telephone got
paralysis right after supper. They had told the boy that if he joined
them he would probably have to leave school in his Junior year to become
governor; and he didn't want to see any of us for fear we would wake him
up. I chuckle yet when I think of those four big bruisers sitting on the
front porch and guarding their property while I was shinning up the
corner post of the back porch, leaving a part of my trousers fluttering
on a nail and ordering the youngster in a blood-curdling whisper to hand
down his coat, unless he wanted to lose forever his chance of being
captain of the football team in his Sophomore year. He weighed the
governorship against the captaincy for a minute, but the right triumphed
and he handed down his coat. I sewed a big bunch of our colors on it,
discoursed with him fraternally while balancing on the slanting roof,
shook hands with him in a solemn, ritualistic way and bade him be firm
the next morning. When the Shi Delts came in and found that Freshman
pledged to another gang they had a convulsion that lasted a week; and to
this day they don't know how the crime was committed.

There was another Freshman, I remember, who was led violently astray by
the Chi Yis and was about to pledge to them under the belief that their
gang contained every man of note in the United States. We had to get him
over to the house and palm off a lot of our alumni as leading actors and
authors, who had dropped in to dinner, before he was sufficiently
impressed to reason with us. Of course this is not what the English
would call "rully sporting, don't you know!" but in our consciences it
was all classified as revenge. We got the same doses. Pillings, of the
Mu Kow Moos, pulled one of our spikes out in beautiful fashion once by
impersonating our landlord. He rushed up the steps just as a Freshman
rushee was starting down all alone and demanded the rent for six months
on the spot, threatening to throw us out into the street that minute.
The Freshman hesitated just long enough to get his clothes out of the
house, and we didn't know for a month what had frozen his feet.

The Fli Gams weren't so slow, either. They found out once that one of
the men we were just about to land had a great disgust for two of our
men. What did one of their alumni do but happen craftily over our way
and mention in the most casual manner the undying admiration that the
boy had for those two? Of course we sandwiched him between them for a
week--and of course we were pained and grieved when he tossed us into
the discard; but we got even with them the next year. We picked up an
eminent young pugilist, who made his headquarters in the next town, and
for a little consideration and a suit of clothes that was a regular
college yell we got him to hang around the campus for a week. We rushed
him terrifically for a day and then managed to let the Fli Gams get him.
They rushed him for a week in spite of our carefully regulated
indignation and then proposed to him. When he told them that he might
consider coming to school--as soon as he had gone South and had cleaned
up a couple of good scraps--they let out an awful shriek and fumigated
the house. They were nice young chaps, but no judge of a pugilist. They
expected to be able to see his hoofs.

Well, it was this way every year all fall. Ding-dong, bing-bang, give
and take, no quarter and pretty nearly everything fair. As I said, it
wasn't considered exactly proper to burn a rival frat house in order to
distract the attention of the occupants while they were entertaining a
Freshman, but otherwise we did pretty nearly what we pleased to each
other--only being careful to do it first. Of course a lot of things are
fair in love and war that would not be considered strictly ethical in a
game of croquet. And rushing a Freshman is as near like love as
anything I know of. It isn't that we love the Freshman so much. When I
think of some of the trash we fought over and lost I have to laugh. But
we couldn't bear the idea of losing him. To sit by and watch another
gang win the affections of a young fellow who you know is designed by
Nature for your frat and the football team; to note him gradually
breaking off the desperate chumminess that has grown up between you in
the last forty-eight hours; to think that in another day he will have on
the pledge colors of another fraternity and will be lost to you forever
and ever and ever, and then some--what is losing a mere girl to some
other fellow compared with that? Of course I realize now that, even if a
Freshman does join another frat, you can eventually get chummy with him
again after college days are over if you find him worth crossing the
street to see; and I find myself lending money to Shi Delts and
borrowing it from Delta Whoops just as freely as if they were Eta Bites.
But somehow you don't learn these things in time to save your poor old
nerves in college.

[Illustration: Naturally I was somewhat dazzled
                    _Page 147_]

When I was in school the Alfalfa Delts, the Sigh Whoopsilons and the Chi
Yis were giving us a horrible race. I'm willing to admit it now, though
I'd have fought Jeffries before doing it ten years ago. Each fall was
one long whirlwind. The President of the United States in an
office-seekers' convention would have had a placid time compared with
the Freshmen. We didn't exactly use real axes on each other and we
didn't actually tear any Freshman in two pieces, but we came as near the
limit as was comfortable. No frat was safe for a minute with its guests.
If you tried to feed 'em there was kerosene in the ice cream. If you
entertained them some frat with a better quartet worked outside the
house. If you took them out to call the parlor would fill up with
riffraff in no time; and if you took your eye off your victim for a
minute he was gone--some other gang had got him. I sometimes think some
of the crowds knew how to palm Freshmen the way magicians do, from the
way they disappeared.

Even the girls took a hand in it. When I was a Sophomore I was intrusted
with the task of leading a Freshman three blocks down to Browning Hall
to call on one of our solid girls, and before I had gone a block two
Senior girls met us. They were bare acquaintances of mine, being strong
Delta Kap. allies, and they usually managed to see me only after a
severe effort; but this time you'd have thought I was a whole regiment
of fiancés. They literally fell on my neck. It was cruel of me, they
declared, to be so unsociable. There I was, a football hero--I'd just
broken my rib on the scrub team--and every girl in school was dying to
tell me how grand it was to suffer for one's college; and yet I wouldn't
so much as hint that I wanted to come to the sorority parties--and lots
more talk of the same kind. Naturally I was somewhat dazzled and I'd
walked about half a block with the prettiest one before I noticed that
the other one was steering Freshie the other way. I turned around and
never even said "Good day" to that girl; but it was too late. About a
dozen Delta Kaps appeared out of the ground and tried to look surprised
as they gathered around that scared little Freshman and engulfed him. We
never saw him again--that is, in his innocent condition--and the boys
wouldn't even trust me with the pledges we were rushing around for bait
the rest of the fall term. Bait? Oh, yes. Sometimes we'd pledge a man on
the quiet and leave him out a week or two, so that plenty of frats could
bid him--made them appreciate his worth, you know, and got every one
well acquainted.

By the time I was a Senior the competition was desperate. We spent the
summers scouring the country for prospects and we spent the first week
of school smuggling our trophies into our houses and pledging them,
without giving the other fellow a look in--that is, we tried to. We came
back fairly strong in my Senior year, with a good bunch of prospects;
but the one that excited us most was a telegram from Snooty Vincent in
Chicago. It was brief and erratic, like Snooty himself, and read as
follows:

     Freshman named Smith will register from Chicago. Son of old man
     Smith, multimillionaire. Kid's a comer. Get him sure! SNOOTY.

That was all. One of the half million Smiths of Chicago was coming to
college--age, weight, complexion, habits and time of arrival unknown.
That telegram qualified Snooty for the paresis ward. We didn't even know
what Smith his millionaire father was. The world is full of Smiths who
are pestered by automobile agents. All we knew was the fact that we had
to find him, grab him, sequester him where no meddling Alfalfa Delt or
Chi Yi could find him, and make him fall in love with us inside of
forty-eight hours. Then we could lead him forth, with the colors and his
_art-nouveau_ clothes on, spread the glad news--and there wouldn't have
to be any more rushing that fall. We'd just sit back and take our pick.

We sat back and built brains full of air-castles for about three
minutes--and then got busy. It was matriculation day. There were half a
dozen trains to come yet from Chicago on various roads. We had to meet
them all, pick out the right man by his aura or by the way the porter
looked when he tipped him, and grab him out from under the ravenous foe.
The next train was due in ten minutes and the depot was a mile away. We
sent Crawford down. He was trying for the distance runs anyway.

The rest of us went out to show a couple of classy boys from a big prep
school how to register and find a room, and pick out textbooks; and
incidentally how to distinguish a crowd of magnificent young student
leaders from eleven wrangling bunches of miscellaneous thickheads, who
wouldn't like anything better than to rope in a couple of good men to
teach them the ways of the world. We were succeeding in this to the
queen's taste, having accidentally dropped in on our porch with the
pair, when young Crawford rushed up green with despair and took the
rushing committee inside. He almost cried when he told us. He'd watched
the train as carefully as he could, he said, but he couldn't be
everywhere at once; and so a couple of Mu Kow Moos had got Smith. He
knew it because he had heard them ask what his name was and he had told
them Smith. He'd pretty nearly wrecked his brain trying to think of an
excuse to butt in, but they had taken the boy away and he'd run all the
way to the house to see if something couldn't be done.

Petey Simmons had listened, sitting crosslegged on the windowseat, which
was a habit of his. Petey was a Senior and his deep studies in rhetoric
during his four years in the frat had given him a great power of
expression. He turned to the despairing Crawford and reduced him to a
cinder with one look.

"So you couldn't think of any excuse to butt in!" he remarked slowly,
"Say, Crawford, if you saw a young lady falling through the ice you'd
write to her mother for permission to cheer her up. Which way did they
go?"

"They're coming this way," said what was left of Crawford.

[Illustration: He was so bashful that his voice blushed when he used it
                    _Page 151_]

Petey grabbed his hat and discharged himself toward the depot. We
brought in those big prep school boys and tried to give them the time of
their lives, but our hearts weren't in it. We were thinking of those Mu
Kow Moos--that frat of all others--blissfully towing home a prize they'd
stumbled onto and didn't know anything about! We thought of those
beautifully designed air-castles we were hoping to move into and we got
pumpkins in our throats. Stung on the first day of school by a bunch
that had to wear their pins on their neckties to keep from being
mistaken for a literary society! Oh, thunder! We went in to dinner all
smeared up with gloom. Then the door opened and Petey came in. He was
five feet five, Petey was, but he stooped when he came under the
chandelier. He had a suitcase in one hand and a stranger in the other.

"Boys," he said, "I want you to meet Mr. Smith, of Chicago."

       *       *       *       *       *

At first glance you wouldn't have taken Smith for a perambulating
national bank, with a wheelbarrow of spending-money every month. He was
well-enough dressed and all that, but he didn't loom up in any
mountainous fashion as to looks. He was runty and his hair was a kind of
discouraged red. He had freckles, too, and he was so bashful that his
voice blushed when he used it. He didn't have a word to say until
dinner, when he said "thank you" to Sam, the waiter. Altogether he was
so meek that he had us worried; but then, as Allie Bangs said, you can't
always tell about these multimillionaires. Some of them didn't have the
nerve of a mouse. He'd seen millionaires in New York, he said, who were
afraid of cab drivers.

"And besides," said Petey, when a few of us were talking it over after
dinner, "I'd never have got him if he hadn't been so meek. I was
determined that no Mu Kow Moo was going to hang anything on us; and when
I saw the three of them coming I waded right in. Allison and Briggs,
those two dumb Juniors, were doing the steering. It was like taking
candy from the baby. I just fell right into them and took about five
minutes to tell those two how glad I was to see them back. I introduced
myself to Smith; and--would you believe it?--he was still carrying his
suitcase! I grabbed it and apologized for not having carried it all the
way up from the station. You should have seen those yaps scowl. They
wanted to shred me up, but I never noticed them again. I pointed out all
the sights to Smith and told him his friends had written me about him.
There was so little room on the sidewalk that I suggested we two walk
ahead; and I shoved him right into the middle of the walk and made
Allison and Briggs fall behind. I had a piece of luck just then. Old
Pete and his sawed-off cab came by and I flagged him in a minute. I
shoved Smith in and got in after him. Then I told the two babes that I
could take care of Smith all right and that there was no need of their
walking clear up to the house. After that I shut the door and we came
away. If looks could kill I'd be tuning up my harp this minute. Say, if
I didn't have any more nerve than those two I'd get a permit from the
city to live. And all the time Smith never made a kick. I had him
hypnotized. Now I'm going in and make him jump through a hoop."

We should have been very happy--and we would have been, but just then
Symington came in with some astounding news. The Alfalfa Delts had a man
named Smith, of Chicago, over at their house. He was on the front porch,
with the whole gang around him; and from the looks of things they'd have
him benevolently assimilated before twenty-four hours. Naturally this
created a tremendous lot of emotion around our house. It was a serious
situation. We might have the right Smith and then again we might have a
Smith who would be borrowing money for car fare inside of ten minutes.
We had to find out which Smith it was before we tampered with his young
affections.

Did you ever snuggle up to a young captain of industry and ask him who
his father was and whether he was important enough in the business world
to be indicted by the Government for anything? That was the job we
tackled that night. Smith was meek enough, but somehow even Petey's
nerve had its limits. We approached the subject from every corner of the
compass. We led up to it, we beat around it--and finally we got
desperate and led the boy up to it. But he was too shy to come down with
the information. Yes, he lived in Chicago. Oh, on the North Side. Yes,
he guessed the stock market was stronger. Yes, the Annex was a great
hotel. No, he didn't know whether they were going to put a tower on the
Board of Trade or not. Yes, the lake Shore Drive was dusty in
summer.--[Good!]--He wouldn't care to live on it.--[Bah!]--Altogether he
was as unsatisfactory to pump as a well full of dusty old brickbats.
Just then Rawlins, who had been scouting around seeing what he could run
against in the dark of the moon, arrived with the stunning information
that the Chi Yis had a man named Smith, of Oak Park, at their house and
that every corner of the lawn was guarded by picked men!

When we got this news most of us went upstairs and bathed our heads in
cold water. Oak Park sounded even more suspicious than Chicago. It's a
solid mahogany suburb and everybody there is somebody or other. You have
to get initiated into the place just as if it were a secret society,
it's so exclusive. That meant there were three Smiths from Chicago in
school. We had only one Smith. We had a one-in-three shot.

We stuck the colors on the boys from the big prep school just to keep
our hands in and went to bed so nervous that we only slept in patches.
Still, two Chicago Smiths in other frat houses were better than one. It
meant that at least one frat wasn't sure of its man. Maybe neither one
was. Our scouts had reported that, from what they could pick up, neither
Smith had it on our Smith much in looks. That could only mean one thing:
there had been a leak in the telegraph office again. What show has a
guileless sixty-five-dollar-a-month operator against a bunch of crafty
young diplomatists? They had read our telegram and were after the same
Smith that we were.

By morning the suspense around the house could have been shoveled out
with a pitchfork. If one of the other frats had the right Smith and knew
it, and had pledged him during the night, there was positively no use in
living any longer. Petey, who had shared his room with our Smith,
reported that he was now like wax in our hands. But that didn't comfort
us much. It was too confoundedly puzzling. Maybe we had the heir to a
subtreasury panting to join us and maybe his freckles were his fortune.
All Petey had gouged out of him during the night was the fact that his
father wanted him to come to Siwash because it was a nice, quiet place.
Oh, yes; it was deadly calm!

It couldn't have been more than seven o'clock when the telephone rang.
Petey answered it. A relative of Smith's was at the hotel and had heard
the boy was at our house. Would we please tell him to come right down?
Petey said he would and then rang off. Then he grabbed the 'phone again
and asked Central excitedly why she had cut him off. Central said she
hadn't, but of course she rang the other line again.

"Hello!" said Petey blandly. "This is the Alfalfa Delt house?"

"No; it's the Chi Yi house," was the answer. Petey put the receiver up
contentedly and we all turned handsprings over the library table. Fifty
per cent safe, anyway. The Chi Yis were trying to sort out the Smiths,
too.

It was an hour before anything else happened. Then Matheson of the
Alfalfa Delts, a ponderous personage, who wore a silk hat on Sunday and
did instructing, came over and asked if we had a man named Smith with
us. He was to be a pupil of his, he said, and he wanted to arrange his
work. Of course Matheson was hoping to get a green man at the door, but
he didn't have any luck. Bangs himself let him in and let him read two
or three magazines through in the library while we turned some more
handsprings--in the dining room this time. The Alfalfa Delts were
fishing, too. It was a fair field and no favors.

After a while Bangs told Matheson that the man named Smith presented his
compliments and said it was all a mistake. His tutor's name was not
Matheson, but Muttonhead. That sent Matheson away as pleasant as you
please.

All that day we sat around and beat off the enemy and got beaten off
ourselves. Our Smith got a Faculty notice to appear at once and
register--that is, it got as far as the door. We sent it back to the Chi
Yi house. We sent the Alfalfa Delt Smith a telegram from Chicago,
reading: "Father ill. Come at once." That only got as far as a door,
too. Some Alfalfa Delt got it and sent the boy back with the answer: "So
careless of father!" Blanchard called up the fire department and sent it
over to the Chi Yi house, hoping to be able to slip over and cut out
Smith in the confusion that followed; but the game was too old. The Chi
Yis had played it themselves the year before and refused to bite.
Meantime we had found a Chi Yi alumnus in the kitchen trying to sell a
book to the cook; and in the proceedings that followed we discovered
that the book had a ten-dollar bill in it. All around, it was an
entertaining but profitless day. By night, there wasn't another idea
left in the three camps. We sat exhausted, each clutching its Smith and
glaring at the other two.

As far as our Smith was concerned we almost wished some one would steal
him. He was about as interesting as a pound of baking powder. What with
fishing for his Bradstreet rating, and inventing lies to keep him from
going out and seeing the town, and watching the horizon for predatory
Alfalfa Delts and Chi Yis, we were plumb worn out. We were so skittish
that, when the bell rang about eight o'clock, we let it ring four times
more before we answered it; and when the ringer claimed to be an Eta
Bita Pie from Muggledorfer who had come over to attend Siwash, we made
him repeat pretty nearly the whole ritual before we would consider his
credentials good.

He got in at last, slightly peevish at our unbrotherly welcome, and took
his place in the library circle. We were explaining the whole situation
to him, when Allie Bangs gave an earnest yell and stood on his head in
the corner.

"What did you say your name was?" he asked the visitor after he had been
set right side up again.

"Maxwell, of Fella Kappa chapter," said the latter.

"No, it isn't," said Bangs earnestly. "You ought to know your own name!"
he went on severely. "It's Smith--and you're a barb from the cornfield!
You've come to Siwash to forget how to plow and to-morrow you're going
to organize a Smith Club. Do you hear? Don't let me catch you forgetting
your name now--and listen closely."

It was all as simple as beating a standpat Congressman. Maxwell was a
stranger, of course. He was to pin his Eta Bita Pie pin on his
undershirt and go forth in the morning a brand-new Smith, green and
guileless. It was to occur to him just before chapel that a Smith Club
ought to be formed and he was to post a notice to that effect. He would
get a couple of well-known non-fraternity Smiths interested and have
them visit the houses and see the Chicago Smiths. With all the Smiths in
session that night he ought to have no difficulty in finding out which
was the son of old man Smith. He could be lowdown and vulgar enough to
ask right out if he wished. If he found out he was to cut out that Smith
and bring him to our house--if he had to bind and gag him. If he didn't
he was to bring all three--if he could.

There was a quiet and most reassuring tone in Maxwell's voice as he
said: "I can." They evidently had their little troubles at Muggledorfer,
too.

"After we get them here," said Bangs earnestly, "we'll just pledge all
three. We'll surely get the right one that way and perhaps the other two
will not be so bad."

Upstairs, Petey Simmons was wearily explaining to our Smith for the
ninth time that Freshmen were not allowed to appear on the campus for
the first three days; and that it was considered good form to keep
indoors until the Sophomore rush; and that there wasn't a room left in
town anyway, and he might as well stay with us a while; and that the
police were looking for college students downtown and locking them up,
as they did each fall, to show their authority. Blanchard relieved him
of his task and he came downstairs mopping his brow. Then we went to
work and planned details until midnight. It was to be the plot of the
century and every wheel had to mesh.

We spent the next day in a cold perspiration. Neither Alfalfa Delt nor
Chi Yi paraded any pledged Freshmen. They were still hunting for the
right Smith, too--evidently. They fell for the Smith Club plan with such
suspicious eagerness that it was plain each bunch had some nasty,
low-lived scheme up its sleeves. We were righteously indignant. It was
our game and they ought not to butt in. But Maxwell only smiled. He was
a Napoleon, that boy was. He just waved us aside. "I'll run this little
thing the way we do at Muggledorfer," he explained. "You fellows can
play a few lines of football pretty well, but when it comes to
surrounding a Freshman and making a Greek out of him, I wouldn't take
lessons from old Ulysses himself." And so we left him alone and held
each other's hands and smoked and cussed--and hoped and hoped and hoped.

Maxwell went after the three Smiths himself that night. He had taken a
room in an out-of-the-way part of town and his plan was to take them
over there after the meeting to discuss the future good of the Smith
Club. Then about a dozen of us would slide gently over there--and a
curtain would have to be drawn over the woe that would ensue for the
other gangs. Meanwhile, all we had to do was to sit around the house and
gnaw our fingers. Maxwell called for our Smith last and he had the other
two in tow. Oh, no; we didn't invite them in. Two Alfalfa Delts and
three Chi Yis were sitting on our porch, visiting us. Three Chi Yis and
two Eta Bita Pies were sitting on the Alfalfa Delt porch. Four Eta
Bites and two Alfalfa Delts were calling on the Chi Yi house. It was a
critical moment and none of us was taking chances. We couldn't keep our
Smiths from wandering, but we could make sure they didn't wander into
the wrong place.

Maxwell led his flock of Smiths away and we all sat and talked to each
other in little short bites. The Chi Yis were nervous as rabbits. They
looked at their watches every five minutes. The Alfalfa Delts listened
to us with one ear and swept the other around the gloom. The night was
charged with plots. Innumerable things seemed trembling in the immediate
future. When the visitors excused themselves a little later, and went
away very hurriedly, we learned with pleasure from one of our boys, who
had been wandering around to break in a new pair of shoes or something,
that the Smith meeting, which had been called for the Erosophian Hall,
had been attended by four nondescript and unknown Smiths and fourteen
Chi Yis, who had dropped in casually. First blood for us! Maxwell had
evidently succeeded in segregating his Smiths. We expected a telephone
call from his room at any minute.

We kept on expecting it until midnight and then strolled down that way.
The house was dark. A very mad landlady came down in response to our
earnest request and informed us that the young carouser who had rented
her room had not been there that evening; and that if we were his rowdy
friends we could tell him that he would find his trunk in the alley.
Then we went home and our brains throbbed and gummed up all night long.

We went to chapel the next morning to keep from going insane outright.
The Chi Yis were there looking perfectly sour. The Alfalfa Delts on the
other hand were riotous. Every one of them had a pleasant greeting for
us. They slapped us on the back and asked us how we were coming on in
our rushing. Matheson was particularly vicious. He came over to Bangs
and put his arm around him in a friendly way. "I am going to have dinner
with my pupil to-night," he said triumphantly. "He wants me to come over
and get his trunk. Says he's got a good room now and he's much obliged
to you fellows for your trouble. Have you heard that there's another
Smith in school--son of a big Chicago man? There's some great material
here this fall, don't you think?"

Bangs tripped on Matheson's pet toe and went away. Something horrible
had happened. How we hated those Alfalfa Delts! They had stung us
before, but this was a triple-expansion, double-back-action,
high-explosive sting, with a dum dum point. We hurt all over; and the
worst of it was, we hadn't really been stung yet and didn't know where
it was going to hit us. Did you ever wait perfectly helpless while a
large, taciturn wasp with a red-hot tail was looking you over?

The Alfalfa Delts frolicked up and down college that day, Smithless but
blissful. We consoled ourselves with a couple of corking chaps whom the
Delta Flushes had been cultivating, and put the ribbons on them in
record time. Ordinarily we would have been perfectly happy about this,
but instead we were perfectly miserable. We detailed four men at a time
to be gay and carefree with our pledges; and the rest of us sat around
and listened to our bursting hearts. Of all the all-gone and utterly
hopeless feelings, there is nothing to compare with the one you have
when your frat--the pride of the nation--has just been tossed into the
discard by some hollow-headed Freshman.

I took my head out of my hands just before dinner and went down the
street to keep a rushing engagement. I had to pass the Alfalfa Delt
house. It hurt like barbed wire, but I had to look. I was that miserable
that it couldn't have bothered me much more, anyway, to see that wildly
happy bunch. But I didn't see it. I saw instead a crowd of fellows on
the porch who made our dejection look like disorderly conduct. There was
enough gloom there to fit out a dozen funerals, and then there would
have been enough left for a book of German philosophy. The crowd looked
at me and I fancied I heard a slight gnashing of teeth. I didn't
hesitate. I just walked right up to the porch and said: "Howdedo? Lovely
evening!" says I. "How many Smiths have you pledged to-day?"

The gang turned a dark crimson. Then Matheson got up and came down to
me. He was as safe-looking as somebody else's bull terrier.

"We don't care to hear any more from you," he said, clenching his words;
"and it would be safer for you to get out of here. We're done with your
whole crowd. You're lowdown skates--that's what you are. You're
dishonorable and sneaky. You're cads! We'll get even. I give you
warning. We'll get even if it takes a hundred years."

"Thanks!" says I. "Hope it takes twice as long." Then I went back home
and let my date take care of itself.

       *       *       *       *       *

We went through dinner in a daze and sat around, that night, like a
bunch of vacant grins on legs. Our grins were vacant because we didn't
know why we were grinning. We'd stung the Alfalfa Delts. We didn't know
why or how or when. But we'd stung them! We had their word for it.
Sooner or later something would turn up in the shape of particulars;
only we wished it would hurry. If it didn't turn up sooner we were
extremely likely to burst at the seams.

It turned up about nine o'clock. There was a commotion at the front door
and Maxwell came in. He was followed by an avalanche of Smiths. There
was our Smith, and a tall, lean Smith, and a Smith who waddled when he
walked. They were all dirty and dusty; they all wore our pink-and-blue
pledge ribbons on their coat lapels and when they got in the house they
gave the Eta Bita Pie yell and sang about half of the songbook. Maxwell
had not only pledged them, but he had educated them.

After we had stopped carrying the bunch about on our shoulders, and had
put the roof of the house back, and had righted the billiard table, and
persuaded the cook to come down out of a tree in the back yard, we
allowed Maxwell to tell his story.

"It was perfectly simple," he said. "Didn't expect to be kidnapped, of
course; but it's all in the day's work. You've no idea what a job I had
getting colors to pin on these chumps. If it hadn't been for my pink
garters and a blue union suit I'd put on yesterday--"

We stopped Maxwell and backed him up to the starting pole again. But he
was no story-teller. He skipped like a cheap gas engine. We had to take
the story away from him piece by piece. He'd dodged his Smiths down a
side street, it seems, on the plea that there weren't any more Smiths
coming--and they might as well go over to his room. All would have been
well if one Smith hadn't got an awful thirst. There was a corner drug
store on the way to the room and while the quartet were insulting their
digestions with raspberry ice-cream soda a college man with a wicked eye
came by. A few minutes later, just as they were crossing the railroad
viaduct near Smith's home, two closed carriages drove up and six husky
villains fell upon them, shouting: "Chi Yi forever!" And after dumping
them in the carriages, they sat on them while the teams went off.

"After I'd got my man's knee out of my neck," said Maxwell, "I didn't
seem to care much whether I was kidnapped or not. It would bind us four
closer together after we escaped; and, besides, I have never found
kidnapping to pay--too much risk. Anyway, they drove us nothing less
than twenty miles and bundled us into an old deserted house. The leader
told us, with a whole lot of unnecessary embroidery, that we were to
stay there until we pledged to Chi Yi if we rotted in our shoes. Then,
of course, I saw through the whole thing. It was an Alfalfa Delt gang
disguised as Chi Yis. The Alfalfa Delts would send another gang out the
next day, rout the bogus Chi Yis and allow the poor Freshies to fall on
their necks and pledge up. That used to be popular at Muggledorfer.

"I did the talking and let my knees knock together considerably. I told
them that we'd been too badly shaken up to think, but if they would let
us alone that night we'd try to learn to love them by morning. So they
put us upstairs and warned us that every window was guarded; then we lay
down together and I began at the first chapter and pumped those chaps
full of Eta Bita Pie all night.

[Illustration: With our colors on and four particularly wicked-looking
chair legs in our hands
                    _Page 167_]

"It was six o'clock when they finally pledged. When the gang came up
they found us adamant. 'Never!' said I. 'We'll pledge Alfalfa Delt or
die martyrs to a holy cause!' Of course they didn't dare give
themselves away. They couldn't even shout for joy. All they could do was
to wait for the rescuing party. I spent the day teaching the boys the
songs and the yell in whispers; and about three o'clock I got my grand
inspiration about the colors and rigged them out. Then I dug my own pin
out and put on my vest and about four o'clock the rescuing party drove
up. Say, you'd have laughed to see that fight! Ham-actors in Richard the
Third would have made it look tame. The Chi Yis put up a fist or two,
threw a brick and then cut for the timber; and the noble Alfalfa Delts
burst open the door just as I got the chorus going on that grand old
song:

     "_'Oh, you've got to be an Eta Bita Pie
     Or you won't get a scarehead when you die!_'

"When they saw us there, with our colors on and four particularly
wicked-looking chair legs in our hands, they gave one simultaneous
gasp--and say, boys, I don't believe in ghosts, but I don't see yet how
they disappeared so instantaneously! And anyway, for Heaven's sake,
bring out the prog. We drilled eight miles to a railroad station and my
vest buttons are tickling my backbone."

Just then a telegram arrived.

     "Don't look for Smith. Changed his mind and went to Jarhard!

                    "SNOOTY."

No wonder we couldn't blast any information out of our Smiths! Oh, they
were our Smiths all right--and they weren't such a bad bunch at that.
The fat one turned out to be the champion mandolin teaser in school and
the lean one made the debating team; while our own particular first
edition Smith won the catch-as-catch-can chess championship of the
college three years later.

Just the same, I'd like to get one fair crack at that Smith who went to
Jarhard. I'd get even for those three days, I'll bet a few!



CHAPTER VII

TAKING PACE FROM FATHER TIME


Honestly, Bill, it's so hard to keep up to date these days, that
sometimes I'm afraid to go to sleep at night for fear I'll find myself
in an ethnological museum when I wake up the next morning, with people
making funny cracks about the strange clothes I was wearing when they
caught me.

I'm not constitutionally a back number myself either. I come as near
wearing next year's styles as most fellows, and I had my wrist broken
cranking an automobile before most Americans believed the things would
go. I was tired of this hand-chopped furniture fad years ago, and if you
hand me any slang that I can't catch on the fly you'll have to make it
up right now. But there's no use talking. No one man can keep up with
this world all by himself. Sometimes I get to thinking I'm so far ahead
that I can afford to sit down and get a breath or two, and when I get up
I have to eat dust for the next year trying to catch up.

Take colleges, for instance. I've been conceited enough to think that
these flappy little college boys, with their front hair brushed back
down on their necks, couldn't show me anything that I wasn't tired of.
I've kept up to date on college things, I've always flattered myself.
You might lose me now and then on some new way of abusing lettuce during
a salad course, perhaps, but as far as looking startled at anything that
might be said or done around a college campus goes, I've had a notion
that I wasn't in the learning class--which shows how much I knew about
it. This morning a gosling from the old school--a Sophomore--came in and
visited with me for a few minutes, on the strength of the fact that he
knew my baby brother in high school. We hadn't talked a minute before he
handed me "pragmatism" and "zing-slingers." While I was rolling my eyes
and clawing for a foothold he confessed that he was the best glider in
college. When I remarked that I had been somewhat of a glider myself,
but that I had preferred the twostep, he laughed and explained that he
was captain of the aviation team--that they had three gliders and were
finishing a monoplane that had a home-made engine with concentric
cylinders.

Can you beat it? There I was, Petey Simmons' best friend, and personally
acquainted with eleven thousand forms of college excitement, listening
to an infant with my mouth open and stopping him every few words to say
"land sakes," "dew tell" and "what d'ye mean by that?" I never was so
humiliated in my life, but there's no getting around the truth. I've
been ten years out of college, and when I go back they'll pull the
grandfather clause on me and wheel me in early nights. I'm a back number
and I know the symptoms. When that young Sophomore told me the boys of
Eta Bita Pie had just spent twenty dollars apiece on a formal dance and
house party, I put up the same kind of a lecture to him that my father
gave me when I explained that we simply had to spend five dollars apiece
on our party, or belong in the fag end of things. And I suppose when my
father's crowd blew in a couple of dollars for a load of wood, his
father reminded him that when HE went to college they didn't coddle
themselves with fires in their dormitories. And I suppose that some day
this Sophomore will be telling his son that when he was in college a
simple little home-made aeroplane furnished amusement for twenty
fellows, and that they never dreamed of dropping over to the coast on
Saturdays for a dip in the surf in their private monoplanes. Oh, well,
it's human nature and natural law, I suppose. No use trying to put a
rock on the wheels of progress--and there's no use trying to ride the
darned thing either. It'll throw you every time.

When I went to college, Billy--loud pedal on that "I"--things were
different. We didn't spend our time fooling with gliders or blow
ourselves up monkeying with pragmatism. We attended strictly to
business. We were there for educational purposes and we had no time to
chase humming birds and chicken hawks. Why, the gasoline money of a
young collegian to-day would have paid my board bills then! We didn't
go to Japan on baseball tours, or lug telescopes around South America
when we ought to have been studying ethics. We lived simply and plainly.
There wasn't an automatic piano in a single frat house when I was in
college, and as for wasting our money on motion-picture shows and
taxi-cabs--nonsense. We'd have died first.

You see I'm getting into practice. Some day I'll have a son, I hope, and
he'll go back to Siwash. Just wait till he comes home at the end of the
first semester and tries to put across any bills for radium stickpins
and lookophonic conversations with the co-eds at Kiowa. I'll pull a
When-I-was-at-Siwash lecture on him that will make him feel like a
spider on a hot stove. If I've got to be a back number I want to romp
right back far enough to have some fun out of it. I'll make him sweat as
much lugging me up to date as I had to perspire in the old days to
illuminate things for Pa.

After all, there is no question at college more serious than the Pa
question, anyway, Bill. It was always butting into our youthful
ambitions and tying pig iron to our coat-tails when we wanted to soar.
It's simply marvelous how hard it is to educate a Pa a hundred miles or
more away into the supreme importance of certain college necessities. It
isn't because they forget, either. It's because they don't realize that
the world is roaring along.

I can see it all since this morning. Take my father, for instance.
There was no more generous or liberal a Pa up to a certain point. He
wanted me to have a comfortable room and vast quantities of good food,
and he was glad to pay literary society dues, and he would stand for
frat dues; but when it came to paying cab hire, you could jam an
appropriation for a post-office in an enemy's district past Joe Cannon
in Congress more easily than you could put a carriage bill through him.
He just said "no" in nine languages; said that when he went to
Siwash--"and it turned out good men then, too, young fellow"--the girls
were glad to walk to entertainments through the mud; and when it was
unusually muddy they weren't averse to being carried a short distance. I
believe I would have had to lead disgusted co-eds to parties on foot
through my whole college course if I hadn't happened across an old
college picture of father in a two-gallon plug hat. That gave me an
idea. I put in a bill for a plug hat twice a year and he paid it without
a murmur. Then I paid my carriage bills with the money. Plug hats had
been the peculiar form of insanity prevalent at Siwash in his day and he
thought they were still part of the course of study.

I got along much easier than many of the boys, too. Allie Bangs' Pa made
him buy all his clothes at home, for fear he'd get to looking like some
of the cartoons he'd seen in the funny papers. "Prince" Hogboom was a
wonder of a fullback, and his favorite amusement was to get out at night
and try to pull gas lamps up by the roots. He was a natural born holy
terror, but his father thought he was fitted by nature to be a
missionary, and so Hoggie had to harness himself up in meek and
long-suffering clothes and attend Bible-study class twice a week. The
crimes he committed by way of relieving himself after each class were
shocking. Then there was Petey Simmons, who was a perpetual sunbeam and
greatly beloved because it was so easy to catch happiness from him. And
yet Petey went through school with a cloud over his young life, in the
shape of a Pa who gave him a thousand dollars a year for expenses and
wouldn't allow a single cent of it to be spent for frivolity. And he had
a blanket definition for frivolity that covered everything from dancing
parties to pie at an all-night lunch counter. By hard work Petey could
spend about four hundred dollars on necessary expenses, and that left
him six hundred dollars a year to blow in on illuminated manuscripts,
student lamps, debating club dues and prints of the old masters. He had
to borrow money from us all through the year, and then hold a great
auction of his art trophies and student lamps, before vacation came, in
order to pay us back.

But all of these troubles weren't even annoyances beside what Keg
Rearick had to endure. Keg was an affectionate contraction of his real
nickname--"Keghead." He had the worst case of "Pa" I ever heard of. He
was a regular high explosive--one of these fine, old, hair-triggered
gentlemen, who consider that they have done all the thinking that the
world needs and refuse to have any of their ideas altered or edited in
any particular. Keg had had his life laid out for him since the day of
his birth, and when he left for Siwash--on the precise day announced by
his father eighteen years before--the old man stood him up and
discoursed with him as follows:

"My son, I am about to give you the finest education obtainable. You are
to go down to Siwash and learn how to be a credit to me. Let me impress
it on you that that is your only duty. You will meet there companions
who will try to persuade you that there are other things to be done in
college besides becoming a scholar. You will pay no attention to them.
You are to spend your time at your books. You are to lead your class in
Latin and Greek. Mathematics I am not so particular about. You are to
waste no time on athletics and other modern curses of college. I shall
pay your expenses and I shall come down occasionally to see how you are
progressing. And you know me well enough to know that if I find you
deviating from the course I have laid out in any particular, you will
return home and go into the store at six dollars a week."

That's the way Keg always repeated it to us. With that affectionate
farewell ringing in his ears he came on down to Jonesville; and when the
Eta Bita Pies saw his honest features and his particularly likable
smile, they surrounded and assimilated him in something less than
fifteen minutes by the clock. And then his troubles began. Keg's father
had come down the week before school and had selected a quiet place
about three miles from the college--out beyond the cemetery in a nice
lonely neighborhood, where there was just about enough company to keep
the telephone poles from getting despondent. Moreover, he hadn't given
Keg any spending money.

"Education is the cheapest thing in the world," he roared. "You don't
have to keep your pockets full of dollars to live in the times of Homer
and Horace. I've told them to let you have what you need at the
bookstore. For the rest, the college library should be your haunt and
the debating society your recreation." If ever any one was getting
knowledge put down his throat with a hydraulic ram, it certainly was Keg
Rearick.

It isn't hard to imagine the result. Keg toiled away three miles from
anything interesting and got bluer and gloomier and more anarchistic
every day. Wouldn't have been so bad if nobody had loved him. Lots of
fellows go through college with no particular friends and emerge in good
health and spirits. But we had courted Keg and had tried to make it
impossible for him to live without us. We liked him and we hankered for
his company. We wanted to parade him around the campus and confer him
upon the prettiest co-ed in his boarding hall, and teach him to sing a
great variety of interesting songs, with no particular sense to them,
and snatch off two or three important offices around school. Instead of
that he only got to say "howdy" to us between classes, and the rest of
his time he spent Edward Payson Westoning back and forth from his
suburban lair, without a cent in his pockets and the street-car
motor-men giving him the bell to get off of the track into the mud every
other block.

We very soon found this wasn't going to do. Keg's spirits were down
about two notches below the absolute zero. If this was college life, he
said, would somebody kindly take a pair of forceps and remove it. It
ached. The upshot was we made Keg steward of the frat-house table, which
paid his board and room and moved him into the chapter house. He
objected at first, because of what his father would say when he heard of
it. But he finally concluded that anything he might say would be
pleasanter than going all day without hearing anything, so he
surrendered and came along.

The first night at dinner, when we pushed back our chairs and sang a few
lines by way of getting ready to go upstairs and chink a little assorted
learning into our headpieces, Keg cried for pure joy. He buckled down to
work the way a dog takes hold of a root, and inside of a week he
couldn't remember a time in his young existence when he had been
unhappy. He was tossing out Greek declensions to the prof. like a
geyser, and Conny Matthews, our champion Livy unraveler, had shown him
how to hold a Latin verb in his teeth while he broke open the rest of
the sentence. And, besides that, we had introduced him to all the
nicest girls in the college and had assisted the glee club coach to
discover that he had a fine tenor voice. He was a sure-enough find, and
fitted into college life as if it had been made to measure for him.

Of course all this pleasantness had to have a gloom spot in it
somewhere. Rearick's father furnished the gloom. He was certainly the
most rambunctious, most unreconstructed and most egregious Pa that ever
tried to turn the sunshine off of a bright young college career.
Regularly once a week a letter would come to Keg from him. It always
began "When I was in college," and it always wound up by ordering Keg to
eat a few assorted lemons for the good of his future. He was to go to
morning prayer, regularly--there hadn't been any for twenty years. He
was to become as well acquainted as possible with his professors,
because of the inspiration it would give him--fancy snuggling up to old
Grubb. He was to take a Sunday-school class at once. He was to remember
above all things that though it was a disgrace to waste a minute of the
precious college years it was equally a disgrace to go through college
without being self-supporting. He should by all means learn to milk at
once. He, Keg's father, had been valet to a couple of very fine Holstein
cows while he was in college, and he attributed much of his success to
this fact. He would of course pay Keg's expenses while he had to, but he
would hold it to his discredit. He must at once begin to find work.

This last command impressed Keg deeply, for he had been sailing along
with us without a cent. He'd been earning his board and room, of course,
but that was already paid for for a month out on the edge of the planet;
and as it was the first time the family that owned the house had ever
got a student boarder they firmly declined to rebate. It's pretty hard
to butterfly joyously along with the fancy-vest gang without any other
assets than unlimited credit at the bookstore, so Keg began to prowl for
a job. Presently he picked up a laundry route. The laundry wagon was a
favorite vehicle on which to ride to fame and knowledge in those days.
By getting up early two mornings a week and working late nights, Keg
managed to put away about six dollars and forty-five cents a week,
providing every one paid his laundry bill. He was so pleased and tickled
over the idea that he wrote to his father at once explaining that he now
had plenty of work, but had had to move downtown in order to do it.

Did this please old pain-in-the-face? Not noticeably. There had been no
such things as laundry wagons in his day. Students were lucky if they
had a shirt to wear and one to have washed at the same time. He wrote a
letter back to Keg that bit him in every paragraph. He was to give up
the frivolous laundry job and get some wood to saw. That and tending
cows were the only real methods of toiling through college. He, Keg's
father, had received his board and room for milking cows and doing
chores, and he had sometimes earned as much as three dollars a week
after school hours and before breakfast sawing cordwood at seventy-five
cents a cord. It was healthful and classic. He would send his old saw by
express. And he was further to remember--there were about four more
pages to memorize, a headache in every page.

Good old Keg did his best to be obedient, but he had no chance. In the
first place, cordwood was phenomenally scarce in Jonesville, and anyway,
people had a vicious habit of hindering the cause of education by sawing
it at the wood-yards with a steam saw. There were plenty of cows in the
outskirts, but they were either well provided with companions for their
leisure hours, or their owners declined to allow Keg to practice on
them--he knowing about as much about a cow as he did about a locomotive.
And so he dawdled on with us at the chapter house, gulping down Livy,
getting a strangle hold on Homer, and pulling in six or seven dollars a
week at his frivolous laundry job, some of which cash he was saving up
for a dress suit. And then, one day, Pa Rearick blew in for another
visit and caught his son playing a mandolin in our lounging room--far,
far from the nearest cyclone cellar.

To judge from the conversation that followed--we couldn't help hearing
it, although we went out-of-doors at once--one might have thought that
Keg had been caught in a gilded den of sin, playing poker with
body-snatchers. Pa Rearick simply cut loose and bombarded the
neighborhood with red-hot adjectives. That he should have brought up a
son to do him honor and should have found him dawdling his college
moments away with loafers; fawning on the idle sons of the rich;
tinkling a mandolin instead of walking with Homer; wasting time and
money instead of trying to earn his way to success--"Bah," likewise
"Faugh," to say nothing of other picturesque expressions of entire
disgust--from all of which one would judge almost without effort that
Keg was in bad, and in all over.

I suppose Keg attempted to explain. Possibly some people try to argue
with a funnel-shaped cloud while it is juggling the house and the barn
and the piano. Anyway the explanations weren't audible. Presently Pa
Rearick announced, for most of the world to hear, that he was going to
take his idle, worthless, disgraced and unspeakable nincompoop of a son
back to his home and set him to weighing out dried apples for the rest
of his life. Then up rose Keg and spoke quite clearly and distinctly as
follows:

"No, you're not, Dad."

"Wh-wh-wh-whowhowwy not!" said Pa Rearick, with perfect self-possession
but some difficulty.

"Because I like this college and I'm going to stay here," said Keg. "I'm
standing well in my studies and I'm learning a lot all around."

"All I have to say is this," said Pa Rearick. I really haven't time to
repeat all of those few words, but the ukase, when it was completely
out, was the following: Keg was to have a chance to ride home in the
cars if he packed up within ten minutes. After that he could walk home
or dance home or play his way home with his mandolin. And he was given
to understand that, when he finally arrived, the nearest substitute to a
fatted calf that would be prepared for dinner would be a plate of cold
beans in the kitchen with the hired man.

"You may stay here and dawdle with your worthless companions if you
desire," shouted Pa Rearick to a man in an adjoining county. "The lesson
may be a good one for you. I wash my hands of the whole matter. But
understand. Don't write to me for a cent. Not one cent. You've made your
bed. Now lie on it."

With which he went away, and we tiptoed carefully in to rearrange the
shattered atmosphere and comfort Keg. We found him looking thoughtfully
at nothing, with his hands deep in his pockets, from which about six
dollars and seventy-five cents' worth of jingle sounded now and then. We
waited patiently for him to speak. At last he turned on us and grinned
pensively.

"Do you know, boys," he said, "as a bed-maker I can beat the owner of
that prehistoric old corn-husk mattress out in the suburbs with one hand
tied behind me."

       *       *       *       *       *

Of course it is a sad thing to be regarded with indignation and disgust
by one's only paternal parent, but Keg bore up under it pretty
manfully. He dug into his work harder than ever--and he was a good
student. Latin words stuck to him like sandburrs. That wasn't his fault,
of course. Some men are born with a natural magnetism for Latin words;
and others, like myself, have to look up _quoque_ as many as nine times
in a page of Mr. Horace's celebrated metrical salve-slinging. Keg went
into a literary society, too, and developed such an unholy genius at
wadding up the other fellow's words and feeding them back to him that he
made the Kiowa debate in his Freshman year. He also chased locals for
the college paper, made his class football team, got on the track squad
and won the Freshman essay prize. In fact, he killed it all year long
and likewise he trained all year long with his idle and vicious
companions--meaning us.

It beats all how much benefit you can get from training with idle and
vicious companions, if you are built that way. Of course we taught him
how to play a mandolin, and how to twostep on his own feet exclusively,
and how to roll a cigarette without carpeting the floor with tobacco,
and how to make a pretty girl wonder if she is as beautiful as all that,
without really saying it himself, and dozens of other pretty and
harmless little tricks. But that wasn't half he picked up while he was
loafing away the golden hours of his college course in our chapter
house. Conny Matthews, whose hobby was Latin verse, plugged him up to
sending in translated sonnets from Horace for Freshman themes. Noddy
Pierce showed him how to grab the weak point in the other fellow's
debate and hang on to it through the rebuttal, while the enemy
floundered and struggled and splattered disjointed premises all over the
hall. Allie Bangs had a bug on fencing, and because he and Keg used to
tip over everything in the basement trying to skewer each other, they
got to reading up on old French customs of producing artistic
conversations and deaths and other things, and eventually they wrote one
of those "Ha" and "Zounds" plays for the Dramatic Club. In fact, there's
no limit to what you can absorb from idle and vicious companions. In one
term alone I myself picked up banjo playing, pole vaulting, a little
Spanish, a bad case of mumps, and two flunks, simply by associating with
the Eta Bita Pie gang twenty-seven hours a day.

But nobody had to show Keg how to get jobs after his first experience.
He had a knack of scenting a soft financial snap a mile away to leeward,
and working his way through college was the least of his troubles. It
used to make me tired to see the nonchalance with which he would sleuth
up to a nice fat thing like a baseball season program, and put away a
couple of hundred with a single turn of the wrist and about four days'
hard soliciting among the long-suffering Jonesville merchants. I never
could do it myself. I had the popular desire to work my way through
school when I entered Siwash, and I pictured myself at the end of my
college career receiving my diploma in my toil-scarred fist, without
having had a cent from home. But pshaw! I was a joke. I mowed one lawn
in my Freshman year, after hunting for work for three weeks; and I lost
that engagement because the family decided the hired girl could do it
better. After that I gave up and took my checks from home like a little
man. In Siwash it is all right to get sent through school, and nobody
looks down on you for it. The boys who make their own way are very kind
and never taunt you if you have to lean on Pa. But all the same, you
feel a little bit disgraced. Why, I've seen a cotillon leader run all
the way home from a downtown store where he clerked after school hours,
in order to get into his society harness on time; and when the winner of
the Interstate Oratorical in my Freshman year had received his laurel
wreath and three times three times three times three from the crazy
student body, he excused himself and went off to the house where he
lived, to fill up the hard-coal heater and pump the water for the next
day's washing.

As I started to say, some time ago, Keg proved to be a positive genius
in nailing down jobs. He hadn't been with us three months until he had
presented his laundry route to one of the boys. He didn't have time to
attend to it. He had hauled down a chapel monitorship that paid his
tuition. He got his board and room from us for being steward, and how he
ever got the fancy eats he gave us out of four dollars per week per
appetite is an unsolved wonder. He made twenty-five dollars in one week
by introducing a new brand of canned beans among the hash clubs. He took
orders for bookbinding on Saturdays, and sold advertising programs for
the college functions after school hours. More than once I borrowed ten
dollars from him that year, while I was living on hope and meeting the
mailman half-way down the block each morning just before the first of
the month. And I wasn't the only man who did it, either.

Perhaps you wonder how he had time to do all this and to mix up in all
the various departments of student bumptiousness, besides absorbing
enough information laid down and prescribed by the curriculum to batter
an "A" out of old Grubb, who hated to give a top mark worse than most
men hate to take quinine. That's one of the mysteries of college life.
No one has time to do anything but the busy man. In every school there
are a few hundred joyous loafers who hold down an office or two, and
make one team, and then have only time to take a few hasty peeps at a
book while running for chapel; and there are a dozen men who do the
debating and the heavy thinking for half a dozen societies, and make
some athletic team, and get their lessons and make their own living on
the side--and who always have time, somehow, to pick up some new and
pleasant pastime, like reading up for an oration on John Randolph, of
Roanoke, or some other eminent has-been. When I think of my wasted years
in college and of how I was always going to take hold of Psych. and
Polykon and Advanced German, and shake them as a terrier does a rat,
just as soon as I had finished about three more hands of whist--oh,
well, there's no use of crying about it now. What makes me the maddest
is that my wife says I'm an imposingly poor whist player at that.

Keg went home with one of us for the semester holidays. And at
commencement time he wrote an affectionate letter home to his volcanic
old sire, and told him that he was going to stride forth into the
unappreciative world and yank a living away from it that summer. That
was the great ambition of almost every Siwash boy. When we weren't
thinking of girls and exams in the blissful spring days, we were
stalking some summer job to its lair and sitting down to wait for it.
There wasn't anything that a Siwash boy wouldn't tackle in the summer
vacation. The farmer boys had a cinch, of course. They were skilled
laborers; and, besides, they came back in the fall in perfect condition
for the football squad. Some of the town boys became street-car
conductors. The new railroad that was built into Jonesville about that
time was a bonanza for us. It was no uncommon thing, the summer of my
Sophomore year, to find a dozen muddy society leaders shoveling dirt in
a construction crew and singing that grand old hymn composed by Petey
Simmons, which ran as follows:

     _I've a blister on me heel, and me beak's begun to peel;
       I've an ache for every bone that's in me back.
     I've a feeling I could eat rubber hose and call it sweet,
       And me hands is warped from lugging bits of track._

     _Oh, me closes they are tore, and me shoulders they are sore,
       And I sometimes wish that I had died a 'borning';
     And me eye is full of dirt, and there's gravel in me shirt,
       But I'm going back to Siwash in the mor-r-r-r-r-r-r-rning._

One of our own boys is a division superintendent on one of the big
western roads to-day, and he caught the railroad microbe in the shovel
gang.

The boys got newspaper positions and clerked in the stores, and one or
two of them tooted cornets or other disturbances at summer-resort
hotels. One junior, during my time, aroused the envy of the whole
college by painting the steeple of the First Baptist Church during
vacation; and when he finished the job his class numerals were painted
in big letters on top of the ornamental knob that tipped the spire. At
least, so he announced, and no rival class had the nerve to investigate.

But the most popular road to prosperity during the summer was the
canvassing route. About the last of April various smooth young college
chaps from other schools would drift into Siwash and begin to sign up
agents for the summer. There were three favorite lines--books,
stereopticon slides and a patent combination desk, blackboard,
sewing-table, snow-shovel, trundle-bed and ironing-board--which was sold
in vast numbers at that time by students all over the country. All
through May the agents fished for victims. They signed them up with
contracts guaranteeing them back-breaking profits, and then instructed
them with great care in a variety of speeches. Speech No. 1,
introductory. Speech No. 2, to women. Speech No. 3, clinching talk for
waverers. Speech No. 4, to parents. Speech No. 5, rebuttal to argument
that victim already has enough reading matter. Speech No. 6, general
appeal to patriotism and love of progress. Then on Commencement day the
hopeful young collegians would go forth to argue with the calm and
unresponsive farmer's wife and sell her something that she had never
needed and had never wanted, until hypnotized by the classic eloquence
of a bright-eyed young man with his foot in the crack of the half-opened
door.

I chose the book game one summer, and went out with about thirty others.
Twenty-five of them quit at the end of the first week. That was about
the usual proportion--but the rest of us stuck. I devastated a swath of
territory fifty miles wide and a hundred miles long. I talked, argued,
persuaded, plead, threatened and mesmerized. I sold books to men on
twine binders, to women with their hands in the bread dough, and once,
after a farmer had come grudgingly out to rescue me from his dog, I sold
a book to him from a tree. I worked two months, tramped four hundred
miles, told the same story of impassioned praise for and confidence in
my book eleven hundred times, and sold sixty-five volumes at a gross
profit of seventy-nine dollars--my expenses being eighty dollars even.
But it was worth the effort. I was a shy young thing at the beginning
of the summer, who believed that strangers would invariably bite when
spoken to. When school began I was a tanned pirate who believed the
world belonged to him who could grab it, and who would have walked up to
a duke and sold him a book on practical farming with as much assurance
as if it were a subpoena I was serving.

Keg went out with the desk crowd, and it was evident from the first
minute that he was going to return a plutocrat. He sold a desk to the
train brakeman on his way to his field, and another to a kind old
gentleman who incautiously got into conversation with him. He raged
through four counties like a plague, selling desks in farmhouses, public
libraries, harness stores, banks and old folks' homes. He was the
season's sensation and won a prize every month from the proud and happy
company. When he had finished collecting he took a hasty run to Denver
on a sight-seeing trip, and came back to Siwash that fall in a parlor
car, with something over four hundred dollars in his jeans.

Naturally we would have ceased worrying about the probability of keeping
Keg with us then if we had not done so long before. As a matter of fact,
he was more prosperous than any of us. He had made his own money and he
drew his own checks when he pleased, instead of taking them the first of
the month wrapped up in a cayenne coating composed of parental remarks
on extravagance and laziness. He gave away all of his little jobs to the
rest of us first thing, and said he was content with what he had; but,
pshaw!--when a man has the gift he can't dodge prosperity. Keg had to
manage the college paper that year because no one else could do it quite
so well; and it netted him about fifty dollars a month. When the
glee-club manager got cold feet over the poor prospects, Keg backed a
trip himself--and I hate to say how much he cleared from it. That was
the first year we swept the West with our famous football team of
trained mastodons; and at the earnest solicitation of about a dozen
daily papers here and there, Keg dashed off something like one hundred
yards of football dope at five dollars a column--sort of a literary
hundred-yard dash. He used to write it between bites at the dinner
table. And then to top off everything, his precious desk company came
along and stole him from us early in April. It considered him too
valuable a man to tramp the country selling desks, while there were
other young collegians who only needed the touch of a magic tongue to
get them into the great calling. So Keg made a tour of Kiowa and
Muggledorfer and Hambletonian and Ogallala colleges, lining up
canvassers at a net profit of something like fifty dollars per
head--full or empty. When he blew in at the end of the year to spend
Commencement week with us he was nothing short of an amateur Croesus.
He bulged with wealth. I remember yet the awe with which the rest of us,
hoarding our last nickels at the end of the long and billful year, took
a peep at the balance in his checkbook and touched him humbly for
advances, great and small.

Keg had gone out the second evening of Commencement week to bring a
little pleasure into the barren life of a girl who hadn't been shown any
attention by any one for upward of four hours. The rest of the boys were
also away scattering seeds of kindness in a similar manner, and so I was
alone when Pa Rearick stumped up the walk to the chapter-house porch and
glared at me.

"I want to see my boy," he said, out of the corner of his beard. He
seemed to suspect that I had made him into a meat pie or otherwise done
away with him.

"He's out," I said, not very scared; "but if you want to wait for him,
won't you make yourself quite at home?"

He took a seat on the porch without a word. I went on smoking a
cigarette in my most abandoned style and saying all I had to say, which
was nothing. After a while Pa Rearick glared over at me again in a most
belligerent manner.

"Is he well?" he asked.

"Finer'n silk," I answered, most disrespectfully.

"Humph!" said he; which, being freely translated, seemed to mean: "If I
had an impudent, lazy, immoral, shiftless, unlicked cub like you, I'd
grind him up for hen feed."

Much more silence. I lit another cigarette.

"Does he get enough to eat?"

"When he has time," I said. "He's generally pretty busy."

"Playing the mandolin, I suppose."

"Most of the time," said I. "He runs the college in his odd moments."

"He wouldn't have run the Siwash I went to," said Pa Rearick grimly.

"No," said I, "you egregious timber-head, he'd have spent his time
limping after Homer." But as I said it only to myself, no one was
insulted.

"Has he learned anything?" said old Hostilities, after some more
silence.

"Took the Sophomore Greek prize this year," I said, blowing one of the
most perfect smoke rings I had ever achieved.

"I don't believe it," said Pa Rearick deliberately.

I blew another ring that was very fair, but it lacked the perfect double
whirl of the first one. And presently the neatest spider phaeton that
was owned by a Jonesville livery stable drew up before the house and Keg
jumped out, telling a delicious chiffon vision to hold old Bucephalus
until he got his topcoat. Keg was a good dresser, but I never saw him
quite as letter-perfect and wholly immaculate as he was just then. He
hurried up the steps, took one look, and yelled "Dad," then made a rush;
and I went inside to see if I couldn't beat that smoke ring where there
was not so much atmospheric disturbance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Pa Rearick stayed the rest of the week, and after he had interviewed
certain professors the next day he moved over to the house and stayed
with us. Mrs. Rearick came down, too, and on this account we didn't see
quite as much of Keg as we had hoped to. The girl in chiffon didn't,
either, but that's neither here nor there. She was only a passing fancy,
anyway. By successive degrees Keg's father viewed the rest of us with
disapproval, suspicion, tolerance, benevolence, interest and
friendliness. But I am convinced that it was only on Keg's account. He
gave us credit for exercising unexpected good taste in liking him. And
maybe it wasn't interesting to see him thaw and melt and struggle with a
stiff, wintry smile, as a young man does with his first mustache, and
finally give himself up unreservedly to fatherly pride. When a father
has religiously put away these things all his life for fear of spoiling
a son, and finally finds that that son is unspoilable, even by
friendliness and parental tenderness, he has a lot of pleasure to
indulge himself in during his remaining years.

It was like the old fire-eater to call us together before he went and
punished himself. I suppose it was his sense of justice which was too
keen for any good use. "I've misjudged my son," he said to us; "and I
want to make public admission of it. I am perhaps a little out of
date--a little old-fashioned. The world didn't move so fast when I was a
boy here. When I was in school we saved our money and studied. My son
tells me he can't afford to save money--that time is too precious. I
don't pretend to understand all your ways, but he seems to think you
have been good to him and I want to thank you for it. My son has made
his way alone these two years. I threw him out to support himself. When
I casually mentioned yesterday that times were very hard in the business
just now, he wanted to put five hundred dollars into it. I want you to
know I'm proud of him. I hope you young gentlemen will feel free to stop
and visit us when you come through our town. I must say, times seem to
have changed."

Right he was. Times have changed. And here I have been dunderheading
along in just his way, imagining that I was pacing them, instead of
sitting on the fence and watching them go by. If I can find that little
Sophomore who insulted me this morning, I'm going to make him come to
dinner and tell me some more about the way they do things this
afternoon. As for to-morrow--what does he or any one else know about it?



CHAPTER VIII

FRAPPÉD FOOTBALL


As a rule there is only about one thing to mar the joy of college days
and nights and early mornings. That is the Faculty. Honestly, I used to
sit up until long after bedtime every little while trying to figure out
some real reason for a college Faculty. They interfere so. They are so
inappropriate. Moreover, they are so confoundedly ignorant of college
life.

How a professor can go through an assorted collection of brain
stufferies, get so many college degrees that his name looks like
Halley's Comet with an alphabet tail, and then teach college students
for forty years without even taking one of them apart to find out what
he is made of, beats my time! That's a college professor for you, right
through. He thinks of a college student only as something to
teach--whereas, of all the nineteen hundred and eighty-seven things a
college student is, that is about the least important to his notion. A
boy might be a cipher message on an early Assyrian brick and stand a far
better chance of being understood by his professor.

A college Faculty is a collection of brains tied together by a firm
resolve--said resolve being to find out what miscreant put plaster of
Paris in the keyhole of the president's door. It is a wet blanket on a
joyous life; it is a sort of penance provided by Providence to make a
college boy forget that he's glad he's alive. It's a hypodermic syringe
through which the student is supposed to get wisdom. It takes the place
of conscience after you've been destroying college property. When I sum
it all up it seems to me that a college Faculty is a dark, rainy cloud
in the middle of a beautiful May morning--at least that's the way the
Faculty looked to me when I was a humble seeker after the truth in
Siwash College.

The Faculty was to boys in Siwash what indigestion is to a jolly good
fellow in the restaurant district. It was always either among us or
getting ready to land on us. Our Faculty had thirty-two profs and
thirty-three pairs of spectacles. It also had two good average heads of
hair and considerable whiskers. It could figure out a perihelion or a
Latin bill-of-fare in a minute, but you ought to hear it stutter when it
tried to map out the daily relaxations of a college full of husky young
hurricanes, who had come to school to learn what life looks like from
the inside. Fairy tales in the German and tea and wafers with quotations
looked like a jolly good time to the Faculty; and it couldn't understand
why some of us liked to put gunpowder in the tea.

Now don't understand me to say that there isn't anything good about a
college professor. Bless you, no! There's a lot of it. A Faculty is a
lot of college profs in a state of inflammation, but individually most
of the Siwash profs were nearly human at times. I look back at some of
them now with awe. They really knew a lot. They knew so much that most
of them are there yet; and I go back and look at them with a good deal
more respect than I used to have. I'll tell you it fills a chap with awe
to see a man teaching along for twenty years at eighteen hundred dollars
per, and raising children, and buying books, and going off to Europe now
and then on that princely sum--and coming through it all happy and
content with life. I go around them nowadays with my hat off and try to
persuade them that if it wasn't for my sprained arm I could quote Latin
almost as well as the stone dog in front of Prexy's house.

And some of them are bully good fellows, too. Nowadays they take me into
their studies at Commencement and give me good cigars, making sure first
that there are no undergraduates around. Why, one of the profs I worried
the most, when I was a cross between a Sophomore and a spotted hyena, is
as glad to see me nowadays as though I owed him money. He runs a little
automobile, and I hope I may get laid out in the subway if I haven't
heard him cuss in real United States when the clutch slipped. And he was
the chap who used to pick out the passages in Livy that had inflammatory
rheumatism and make me recite on them, and who always told me that a
student who smoked cigarettes would be making a wise business move if he
brought his hat to recitation and left the less important part of his
head at home.

But, as I was saying, the Faculty at Siwash, like all other Faculties,
didn't know its place. It wasn't satisfied with teaching us Greek and
Latin and Evidences of Christianity and tall-brow twaddle of all sorts.
It had to butt into our athletics and regulate them. Did you ever see a
farmer regulate a weed patch with a hoe? You know how unhealthy it is
for the weeds. Well, that was the way the Faculty regulated our
athletics. It didn't believe in athletics anyway. They were too
interesting. They might not have been sinful, but they were not literary
and they were uneconomic. Of course all the professors admitted that
good outdoor exercise was healthy for college boys, but most of them
believed that you ought to get it in the college library out of Nature
books. And so the way they went at the real athletics, to keep them pure
and healthful, almost drove us into the violent ward.

Those were the days at Siwash when our football team could start out for
a pleasant stroll through any teams in our section and wonder after it
had passed the goal line, why those undersized fellows had been jogging
their elbows all the way down the field. That was the kind of a team we
built up every fall; and it wasn't half so much trouble to keep other
teams from beating it as it was to keep the Faculty from blowing it to
pieces with non-eligibility notices. There was something diabolical
about that Faculty when it was wrestling with the athletic problem. It
wasn't human. It was like Mount Etna. You never could tell just when it
would stop being lovely and quiet, and scatter ruin all over the
vicinity.

Its idea of regulating athletics at Siwash was to think up excuses for
flunking every man who weighed over one hundred and fifty-five and could
have his toes stepped on without saying "Ouch!" And it never got the
excuses thought up until the night before the most important games. The
Faculty pretended to be as bland and innocent as Mary's lamb, but no one
can ever tell me it didn't know what it was about. Men have to have real
genius to think up the things it did. You couldn't do it accidentally.
When a Siwash Faculty could moon along happily all fall until
twenty-four hours before the Kiowa game and then discover with regret
that our two-hundred-and-twenty-pound center had misspelled three words
in an examination paper the year before; that our two-hundred-pound
backs didn't put enough rear-end collisions into their words when they
read French; and that Ole Skjarsen read Latin with a Norwegian accent
and was therefore too big an ignoramus to play football, I decline to be
fooled. I never was fooled. Neither was Keg Rearick. But that is
hurdling about three chapters.

Honestly, we used to spend one day out of six building up our football
team and the other five defending it from the Faculty. It positively
hungered for a bite out of the line-up. It had us helpless. If we didn't
like the way it ran things we could take our happy young college life up
by the roots and transplant it to some other school, where the football
team moved around the field like a parade. Theoretically the Faculty
could sit around and take our best players off the team, as fast as we
developed them, for non-attention to studies. But, as a matter of fact,
it wasn't an easy matter. It beats all how early in the morning you have
to get up to get ahead of college lads who have got it into their heads
that the world will gum up on its axle and stop dead still if their
innocent little pleasures are interfered with.

I remember the fall that the Faculty decided Miller couldn't play
because he hadn't attended chapel quite persistently enough the spring
before. Miller was our center and as important to the team that year as
the mainspring of a watch. The ponderous brain trust that sat on this
case didn't decide it until the day before the big game with
Muggledorfer; then they practically ruled that he would have to go back
to last spring and take his chapel all over again. It took us all night
to sidestep that outrage, but we did it. The next morning an indignation
committee of fifty students met the Faculty and presented alibis that
were invincible. It was demonstrated by a cloud of witnesses that Miller
had been absent nine times hand-running because he had been sitting up
nights with a sick chum. The Faculty was inexperienced that year and let
him play; but, when it found out the next day by consulting the records
that the chum had attended chapel every one of those nine mornings, it
got more particular than ever and its heart seemed to harden.

On the day before the Thanksgiving game that year the Faculty held a
long meeting and decided that our two guards were ineligible. There
wasn't a word of truth in it. They weighed two hundred and twenty pounds
apiece and were eligible to the All-American team, but you couldn't make
the human lexicons look at it that way. They found them deficient in
trigonometry and canned them off the team. It was an outrage, because
the two chaps didn't know what trigonometry meant even and couldn't take
an examination. We had to call the trig. professor out of town by a
telegram that morning and then have the suspended men demand an
immediate examination. That worked, too; but every time we managed to
preserve a glory of old Siwash, the Faculty seemed to get a little more
crabby and unreasonable and diabolically persisted in its determination
to regulate athletics.

The next fall it was well understood when football practice began that
there was going to be war to the knife between the Faculty and the
football team. We were meek and resigned to trouble, but you can bet we
were not going to sit around and embrace it. The longest heads in the
school made themselves into a sort of an unofficial sidestepping
committee; and we decided that if the Faculty succeeded in massacring
our football team they would have to outpoint, outfoot, outflank and
outscheme the whole school. Just to draw their fire, we advertised the
first practice game as a deadly combat, in which the honor of Old Siwash
was at stake. It was just a little romp with the State Normal, which had
a team that would have had to use aeroplanes to get past our ends; but
the Faculty bit. It held a special session that night and declared the
center, the two backs and the captain ineligible because they had not
prepared orations the spring before at the request of the rhetoric
professor. That was first blood for us. We chased the Normalites all
over the lot with a scrub team and Keg Rearick sat up nights the next
week writing the orations. The result was we got four fine new
dry-cleaned records for our four star players and the Faculty was so
pleased with their fine work on those orations that we could scarcely
live with it for a week.

That was only a skirmish, however. We knew very well that the sacred
cause of education would come right back at us and we decided to be
elsewhere when it struck its next blow for progress. We talked it all
over with Bost, the coach, and the result was that a week before the
Muggledorfer game, the last week in September, Bost gave out his line-up
for the season in chapel. There were a good many surprises in the
line-up to some of us. It seemed funny that Miller shouldn't make the
team out and that Ole Skjarsen should have been left off; but the best
of men will slump, as Bost explained, and he had picked the team that he
thought would do the most good for Siwash. It was a team that I wouldn't
have hired to chase a Shanghai rooster out of a garden patch, but the
blind and happy Faculty didn't stop to reason about its excellence. It
held a meeting the night before the Muggledorfer game and suspended nine
of the men for inattention to chapel, smoking cigarettes during vacation
and other high crimes. The whole school roared with indignation. Bost
appeared before the Faculty meeting and almost shook his fist in Prexy's
face. He told the Faculty that it was the greatest crime of the
nineteenth century; and the Faculty told him in very high-class language
to go chase himself. So Bost went sorrowfully out and put in the regular
team as substitutes. The next day we whipped Muggledorfer 80 to 0.

[Illustration: Our peculiar style of pushing a football right through
the thorax of the whole middle west
                    _Page 205_]

I think that would have discouraged the Faculty if it hadn't been for
Professor Sillcocks. Did I ever tell you about Professor Sillcocks? It's
a shame if I haven't, because every one is the better and nobler for
hearing about him. He was about a nickel's worth of near-man with
Persian-lamb whiskers and the disposition of a pint of modified milk.
Crickets were bold and quarrelsome beside him. He knew more musty
history than any one in the state and he could without flinching tell
how Alexander waded over his knees in blood; but rather than take off
his coat where the world would have seen him he would have died. He was
just that modest and conventional. He had to come to his classes through
the back of the campus up the hill; and they do say that one day, when
half a dozen of the Kappa Kap Pajama girls were sitting on the low stone
wall at the foot of the hill swinging their feet, he cruised about the
horizon for a quarter of an hour waiting for them to go away in order
that he might go up the hill without scorching his collar with blushes.
That was the kind of a roaring lion Professor Sillcocks was.

Well, to get back from behind Robin Hood's barn, Professor Sillcocks had
a great hobby. He believed that college boys should indulge in
athletics, but that they should do it with their fingers crossed. Those
weren't his exact words, but that was what he meant. It was noble to
play games, but wicked to want to win. In his eyes a true sport was a
man who would start in a foot race and come in half a mile behind
carrying the other fellow's coat. Our peculiar style of pushing a
football right through the thorax of the whole Middle West nearly made
him shudder his shoes off and every fall in chapel he delivered a talk
against the reprehensible state of mind that finds pleasure in the
defeat of others. We always cheered those talks, which pleased him; but
he never could understand why we didn't go out afterward and offer
ourselves up to some high-school team as victims. It pained him greatly.

Naturally Professor Sillcocks participated with great enthusiasm in the
work of pruning our line-up, and after the Faculty had thrown up its
hands he climbed right in and led a new campaign. We had to admire the
scientific way in which he went about it, too. For a man whose most
violent exercise consisted of lugging books off a top shelf, and who had
learned all he knew about football from the Literary Pepsin or the
Bi-Weekly Review, he got onto the game in wonderful style. Somehow he
managed to learn just who were our star players--what they played and
how badly they were needed--and then he went to work to quarantine these
players.

First thing we knew the Millersburg game, which was always a fierce
affair, arrived; and on the morning of the game Bumpus and Van
Eiswaggon, our two star halfbacks, got notices to forget there was such
a game as football until they had taken Freshman Greek over again--they
being Seniors and remembering about as much Greek as their hats would
hold on a windy day. I'll tell you that mighty near floored us; but
virtue will pretty nearly always triumph, and when you mix a little luck
into it, it is as slippery to corner as a corporation lawyer. We had the
luck. There were two big boners, Pacey and Driggs, in college who wore
whiskers. There always are one or two landscape artists in college who
use their faces as alfalfa farms. We took Bumpus and Van Eiswaggon and
the leading man of a company that was playing at the opera house that
night over to these two Napoleons of mattress stuffing and they kindly
consented to be imitated for one day only. Old Booth and Barrett had a
tremendous layout of whiskers in his valise and before he got through he
had produced a couple of mighty close copies of Pacey and Driggs. That
afternoon the two real whisker kings went out in football suits and ran
signals with the team until their wind was gone. Then they went back
into the gym and their improved editions came out. Most of the college
cried when they found that the two eminent authorities on tonsorial art
were going to try to interfere with Millersburg's ambition, but those of
us who were on to the deal simply prayed. We prayed that the whiskers
wouldn't come off. They didn't, either. It was a grand game. We won, 20
to 0; and the school went wild over Pacey and Driggs. Even Prexy came
out of it for a little while and went into the gym to shake hands with
them. It took lively work to detain him until we could get them stripped
and laid out on the rubbing boards. They were the heroes of the school
for the rest of the year and, being honest chaps, they naturally
objected. But we persuaded them that they had saved the college with
their whiskers; and before they graduated we begged a bunch from each of
them to frame and hang up in the gym some day when the incident wasn't
quite so fresh.

Naturally, by this time, we believed that the Faculty ought to consider
itself lucky to be allowed to hang around the college. Professor
Sillcocks looked rather depressed for a day or two, but he soon cheered
up and seemed to forget the team's existence. We swam right along,
beating Pottawattamie, scoring sixty points on Ogallala and getting into
magnificent condition for the Kiowa game on Thanksgiving. That was the
game of the year for us. Time was when Kiowa used to beat us and look
bored about it, but that was all in the misty past. For two years we had
tramped all the lime off her goal lines; and maybe we weren't crazy to
do it again! As early as October we used to sit up nights talking over
our chances, and as November wore along the suspense got as painful as a
good lively case of too much pie. We watched the team practise all day
and dreamed of it all night. And then the blow fell.

It wasn't exactly a blow. It was more like a dynamite explosion. School
let out the day before Thanksgiving, and when announcement time came in
chapel Professor Sillcocks got up and begged permission to make a few
remarks. Then this little ninety-eight-pound thinking machine, who
couldn't have wrestled a kitten successfully, paralyzed half a thousand
husky young students and a whole team of gladiators with the following
remarks:

"I have long held, young gentlemen, that the pursuit of athletic
exercises for the mere lust of winning is one of the evils of college
life. It does not strengthen the mind or build up one's manhood. It does
not encourage that sporting spirit which leads a man to smile in defeat
or to give up his chances of winning rather than take an undue
advantage. It does not make for gentleness, mildness or generosity. I
have, young gentlemen, endeavored to make you see this in the past year
by all the poor means at my disposal. I have not succeeded. But this
morning I propose to bring it to you in a new way. As chairman of the
credentials committee which passes upon the eligibility of your football
players I have decided that the entire team is ineligible. If you ask
for reasons, I have them. They may not, perhaps, suit you, but they suit
me. These players are ineligible because they play too well. With them
you cannot hope to be defeated and I am determined that the Siwash
football team shall be defeated to-morrow. Your college experience must
be broadened. Your football team, I understand, has not been defeated in
three years. This is monstrous. All of you, except the Seniors, are
totally uneducated in the art of taking defeat. This education I propose
to open to you to-morrow. I have made it more certain by suspending all
of what you call your second team and your scrubs--I believe that is
correct. And the Faculty joins me, young gentlemen, in assuring you that
if the game with Kiowa College is abandoned--abrogated--called off, I
believe you express it--football will cease permanently at Siwash. Young
gentlemen, accept defeat to-morrow as an opportunity and try to
appreciate its great benefits. That is all."

That last was pure sarcasm. Imagine an executioner carving off his
victim's head and murmuring politely, "That is all," to the said victim
when he had finished! There we were, wiped out, utterly
extinguished--legislated into disgrace and defeat--and all by a smiling
villain who said "That is all" when he had read the death sentence!

There wasn't a loophole in the decree. Sillcocks had carved the entire
football talent of the school right out of it with that little list of
his. We would have to play Kiowa with a bunch of rah-rah boys who had
never done anything more violent than break a cane on a grandstand seat
over a touchdown. The chaps who were butchered to make a Roman holiday
didn't have anything at all on us. We were going to be tramped all over
by our deadly rival in order to afford pleasure to a fuzzy-faced old
fossil who had peculiar ideas and had us to try them out on.

I guess, if the students had had a vote on it that day, Professor
Sillcocks would have been elected resident governor of Vesuvius. We
seethed all day and all that night. The board of strategy met, of
course, but it threw up its hands. It didn't have any first aid to the
annihilated in its chest. Besides, Professor Sillcocks hadn't played the
game. He had just grabbed the cards. It was about to pass resolutions
hailing Sillcocks as the modern Nero, when Rearick began to come down
with an idea. Nowadays people pay him five thousand dollars apiece for
ideas, but he used to fork them out to us gratis--and they had twice the
candle-power. As soon as we saw Rearick begin to perspire we just
knocked off and sat around, and it wasn't two minutes before he was
making a speech.

"Fellows," he said, "we're due for a cleaning to-morrow. It's official.
The Faculty has ordered it. If I had a Faculty I'd put kerosene on it
and call the health department; but that's neither here nor there. We've
got to lose. We've got to let Kiowa roll us all over the field; and if
we back out we've got to give up football. Now some of you want to
resign from college and some of you want to burn the chapel, but these
things will not do you any good. Kiowa will beat us just the same.
Therefore I propose that if we have to be beaten we make it so emphatic
that no one will ever forget it. Let's make it picturesque and
instructive. Let's show the Faculty that we can obey orders. Let's play
a game of football the way Sillcocks and his tools would like to see it.
You let me pick the team now, and give me to-night and to-morrow morning
to drill them, and I'll bet Kiowa will never burn any property
celebrating."

Bost was there with his head down between his knees and he said he
didn't care--Rearick or Sillcocks or his satanic majesty could pick the
team. As for himself, he was going to leave college and go to herding
hens somewhere over two thousand miles from the Faculty. So we left it
to Rearick and went home to sleep and dream murderous dreams about
meeting profs in lonesome places.

The first thing I saw next morning when I went out of the house was a
handbill on a telegraph pole. It was printed in red ink. It implored
every Siwash student to turn out to the game that afternoon. "New
team--new rules--new results!" it read. "The celebrated Sillcocks system
of football will be played by the Siwash team. Attendance at this game
counts five chapel cuts after Thanksgiving. Admission free. Tea will be
served. You are requested to be present."

Were we present? We were--every one of us that wasn't tied down to a
bed. There was something promising in that announcement. Besides, the
greenest of us were taken in by that chapel-cut business. Besides, it
was free! College students are just like the rest of the world. They'd
go to their great-grandmother's funeral if the admission was free. Our
gang put on big crêpe bows, just to be doing something, and marched into
the stadium that afternoon with hats off. It was packed. Talk about
promotion work. Rearick had pasted up bills until all Jonesville was red
in the face. And the Faculty was there, too. Every member was present.
They sat in a big special box and Sillcocks had the seat of honor. He
looked as pleased as though he had just reformed a cannibal tribe. I
suppose the programs did it. They announced once more that the
celebrated Sillcocks system of football as worked out by the coach and
Mr. Keg Rearick would be played in this game by the Siwash team. The
whole town was there too, congested with curiosity. In one big bunch
sat all the Siwash men who had ever played football, in their best
clothes and with their best girls. They were the guests of honor at
their own funeral.

The Kiowa team came trotting out--behemoths, all of them--ready to get
revenge for three painful years. They had heard all about the massacre
and regarded it as the joke of the century on Siwash. They also regarded
it as their providential duty to emphasize the joke--to sharpen up the
point by scoring about a hundred and ten points on the scared young
greenhorns who would have to play for us. All our ex-players stood up
and gave them a big cheer when they came. So did everybody else. It's
always a matter of policy to grin and joke while you're being dissected.
Nothing like cheerfulness. Cheerfulness saved many a martyr from worry
while he was being eaten by a lion.

Then our gymnasium doors opened and the brand-new and totally innocent
Siwash football team came forth. When we saw it we forgot all about
Kiowa, the Faculty, defeat, dishonor, the black future and the
disgusting present. We stood up and yelled ourselves hoarse. Then we sat
down and prepared to enjoy ourselves something frabjous.

Rearick had used nothing less than genius in picking that team. First in
line came Blakely, a mandolin and girl specialist, who had never done
anything more daring than buck the line at a soda fountain. He had on
football armor and a baseball mask. Then came Andrews. Andrews
specialized in poetry for the Lit magazine and commonly went by the name
of Birdie, because of an unfortunate sonnet that he had once written.
Andrews wore evening dress, and carried a football in a shawl strap.
Then came McMurty and Boggs, sofa-pillow punishers. They roomed together
and you could have tied them both up in Ole Skjarsen's belt and had
enough of it left for a handle. James, the champion featherweight fusser
of the school, followed. He carried a campchair and a hot-water bottle.
Petey Simmons, five feet four in his pajamas, and Jiggs Jarley, champion
catch-as-catch-can-and-hold-on-tight waltzer in college, came next. Then
came Bain, who weighed two hundred and seventeen pounds, had been a
preacher, and was so mild that if you stood on his corns he would only
ask you to get off when it was time to go to class. He was followed by
Skeeter Wilson, the human dumpling, and Billings, who always carried an
umbrella to classes and who had it with him then. Behind these came a
great mob of camp-followers with chairs, books, rugs, flowers, lunch
tables, tea-urns and guitars. It was the most sensational parade ever
held at Siwash; and how we yelled and gibbered with delight when we got
the full aroma of Rearick's plan!

The Kiowa men looked a little dazed, but they didn't have time to
comment. The toss-up was rushed through and the two teams lined up, our
team with the ball. It would have done your eyes good to see Rearick
adjust it carefully on a small doily in the exact center of the field,
mince up to it and kick it like an old lady urging a setting hen off the
nest. A Kiowa halfback caught it and started up the field. Right at him
came Birdie Andrews, hat in hand, and when the halfback arrived he bowed
and asked him to stop. The runner declined. McMurty was right behind and
he also begged the runner to stop. Boggs tried to buttonhole him.
Skeeter Wilson, who was as fast as a trolley car, ran along with him for
twenty-five yards, pleading with him to listen to reason and consent to
be downed. It was no use. The halfback went over the goal line. The
Kiowa delegation didn't know whether to go crazy with joy or disgust.
Our end of the grandstand clapped its hands pleasantly. Down in the
Faculty box one or two of the professors, who hadn't forgotten
everything this side of the Fall of Rome, wiggled uneasily and got a
little bit red behind the ears.

The teams changed goals and Rearick kicked off again. This time he
washed the ball carefully and changed his necktie, which had become
slightly soiled. The other Kiowa half caught the ball this time; he
plowed into our boys so hard that McMurty couldn't get out of the way
and was knocked over. Our whole team held up their hands in horror and
rushed to his aid. They picked him up, washed his face, rearranged his
clothes and powdered his nose. He cried a little and wanted them to
telegraph his mother to come, but a big nurse with ribbons in her
cap--it was Maxwell--came out and comforted him and gave him a stick of
candy half as large as a barber-pole.

By this time you could tell the Faculty a mile off. It was a bright red
glow. Every root-digger in the bunch had caught on except Sillcocks. He
was intensely interested and extremely grieved because the Kiowa men did
not enter into the spirit of the occasion. As for the rest of the crowd,
it sounded like drowning men gasping for breath. Such shrieks of pure
unadulterated joy hadn't been heard on the campus in years. When the
teams lined up again Kiowa had got thoroughly wise. They had held a
five-minute session together, had taken off their shin, nose and ear
guards, had combed their hair and had put on their hats. The result was
what you might call picturesque. You could hear ripping diaphragms all
over the stadium when they tripped out on the field. The two teams lined
up and Rearick kicked off again. This time he had tied a big loop of
ribbon around the ball; when it landed a Kiowa man stuck his forefinger
through the loop and began to sidle up toward our goal, holding an
imaginary skirt. Our team rushed eagerly at him, Billings and his
umbrella in the lead. On every side the Kiowa players bowed to them and
shook hands with them. The critical moment arrived. Billings reached the
runner and promptly raised his umbrella over him and marched placidly on
toward our goal. Hysterics from the bleachers. The Kiowa man didn't
propose to be outdone. He stopped, removed his derby and presented the
ball to Billings. Billings put his hand on his heart and declined. The
Kiowa man bowed still lower and insisted. Billings bumped the ground
with his forehead and wouldn't think of it. The Kiowa man offered the
ball a third time, and we found afterward that he threatened to punch
Billings' head then and there if he didn't take it. Billings gave in and
took the ball.

"Siwash's ball!" we yelled joyfully. The two teams lined up for a
scrimmage. Right here a difficulty arose that threatened to end the
game. The opposing players insisted on gossiping with their arms around
each other's necks. They would not get down to business. The referee
raved--he was an imported product, with no sense of humor, and was
rapidly getting congestion of the brain. "Don't hit in the clinches!"
yelled some joker. For five minutes the teams gossiped. Then our quarter
gave his signal--the first two bars of "Oh Promise Me"--and passed the
ball to Wilson, who was fullbacking.

It was twice as interesting as an ordinary game because nobody knew what
Wilson would do; in fact, he didn't seem to know himself. He stood a
minute dusting off the ball carefully and manicuring his soiled nails.
The Kiowa team and our boys strolled up, arm in arm. Wilson still
hesitated. The Kiowa captain offered to send one of his men to carry the
ball. Wilson wouldn't think of causing so much trouble. Our captain
suggested that the ball be taken to our goal. The Kiowa captain
protested that it had been there twice already. Some one suggested that
they flip for goals. The captains did it. Siwash won. Calling a
messenger boy, our captain sent him over to Kiowa's goal with the ball,
while the two teams sat down in the middle of the field and the Kiowa
captain set 'em up to gum.

By this time people were being removed from the stadium in all
directions. There was a sort of purple aurora over the Faculty box that
suggested apoplexy. The learned exponents of revised football looked
about as comfortable as a collection of expiring beetles mounted on
large steel pins--that is, all but Professor Sillcocks. He was beaming
with pleasure. I never saw a man so entirely wrapped up in manly sports
as he was just then. Evidently the new football suited him right down to
the ground. He clapped his hands at every new atrocity; and whenever
some Siwash man put his arm around a Kiowan and helped him tenderly on
with the ball, he turned around to the populace behind him and nodded
his head as if to say: "There, I told you so. It can be done. See?"

When the Kiowa center kicked off for the next scrimmage he introduced a
novelty. He produced a large beanbag, which I presume Rearick had
slipped him, kicked it about four feet and then hurriedly picked it up
and presented it to one of our men. All of our boys thanked him
profoundly and then lined up for the scrimmage. Immediately the Kiowa
captain put his right hand behind him. Our captain guessed "thumbs up."
He was right and we took the ball forward five yards. Deafening applause
from the stadium. Then our captain guessed a number between one and
three. Another five yards. Shrieks of joy from Siwash and desperate
cries of "Hold 'em!" from the Kiowa gang. Then the Kiowa captain
demanded that our captain name the English king who came after Edward
VI. That was a stonewall defense, because Rearick had flunked two years
running in English history. Kiowa took the ball, but the umpire butted
in. It was an offside play, he declared, because it wasn't a king at
all. It was a queen and it was Siwash's ball and ten yards. That made an
awful row. The Kiowa captain declared that the whole incident was "very
regrettable," but the umpire was firm. He gave us the ball; and on the
very next down Rearick conjugated a French verb perfectly for a
touchdown.

All of this was duly announced to the stadium and the excitement was
intense. I guess there were as many as two hundred Chautauqua salutes
after that touchdown. Both teams had tea together and our rooters'
chorus sang "Juanita," while old Professor Grubb got up, with rage
printed all over his face in display type, and went home. He never went
near the stadium again as long as he lived, I understand.

It was a most successful occasion up to this point, but somehow college
boys always overdo a thing. The strain was telling on the two teams;
for, when you come right down to it, no Siwash man loves a Kiowa man
any more fervently than a bull pup loves a cat. The teams lined up again
and began playing "ring-around-a-rosy" to find who should make the next
touchdown, when something happened. Klingel, the
two-hundred-and-ten-pound Kiowan guard, started it. He was just about as
good a fellow as a white rhinoceros, and an hour of entire civilization
was about all he could possibly stand. He had the beanbag and he was
tired of it. Beanbags meant nothing to him. He couldn't grasp their
solemn beauty. He offered it to Petey Simmons. Petey declined, with
profuse thanks. Klingel insisted. Petey bowed very low and swore that
rather than make another touchdown on Kiowa he would suffer wild horses
to tear him into little bits. Then Klingel began to get offside.

"You hear what I say, you little shrimp!" he said politely. "If you
don't take this thing and quit your yawping I'm going to make you do
it."

"Listen, you overfed mountain of pork!" said Petey, with equal
cordiality. "If you don't like that beanbag eat it. It would do you
good. You don't know beans anyway."

Then Klingel, without further argument, hit Petey in the eye and laid
him out.

[Illustration: "If you don't like that beanbag eat it"
                    _Page 220_]

Wow! Talk about irritating a hornet convention. Klingel was a great
little irritator. The whole game had been torture for our real team,
cooped up among the ruffles in the stadium; and when they saw little
Petey go down they gave one simultaneous roar and vaulted over the
railing. It was a close race, but Ole Skjarsen beat Hogboom out by a
foot. He hit Klingel first. Hogboom hit him second, third, fifth and
thirty-fourth. Then the two teams closed together and for five minutes a
cyclone of dust, dirt, sweaters, collars, arms, legs, hair and bright
red noses swept up and down the field. The grandstand went crazy. The
five hundred Kiowa rooters grabbed their canes and started in. They met
about seven hundred Siwash patriots and then the whole universe
exploded.

The police interfered and about half an hour later the last Siwash
student was pried off the last Kiowan. It was the most disgraceful riot
in the history of the college. I don't think there was a whole suit of
clothes on the field when it was over; and the Siwash man who didn't
have two or three knobs on his head wasn't considered loyal. The girls
all cried. The Faculty went home in cabs, the mayor declared martial law
and the Kiowa gang walked out of town to the crossing and took the train
there to avoid further hard feelings. We were all ashamed of ourselves
and I think the two schools liked each other a little better after that.
Anyway, we regarded the whole affair as only logical.

The Faculty held a meeting that lasted all the next day. Then it
adjourned and did absolutely nothing at all except to pile upon us more
theses, themes and special outrages that semester than any body of
students had ever been inflicted with in a like period. The profs
wouldn't speak to us. They regarded us as beneath notice. But when the
real Kiowa game was scheduled by mutual consent, two weeks afterward,
there wasn't a remark from headquarters. We played Kiowa and spread them
all over the map--and not a Faculty member was in town that day.

I understand Professor Sillcocks is not yet thoroughly persuaded that
his style of football wasn't a success. "But for that unfortunate riot,
which comes from playing with less cultured colleges," he remarked to a
Senior the next spring, "that would have been the most successful
exhibition of mental control and inherent gentility ever seen at
Siwash."

True, very true.



CHAPTER IX

CUPID--THAT OLD COLLEGE CHUM


Well! Well! Well! Here's another magazine investigator who has made a
great discovery. Listen to this, Sam: "Co-education, as found in
American colleges, is amazingly productive of romance, and the great
number of marriages resulting between the men and women in
co-educational schools indicates all too plainly that love-making
occupies an important part of the courses of study."

Those are his very words. Isn't he the Christopher Columbus, though! Who
would have thought it? Who would have dreamt that there were any mutual
admiration societies in co-educational colleges? I am amazed. What won't
these investigators discover next? Why, one of them is just as likely as
not to get wise to the fact that there is a hired-girl problem. You
can't keep anything away from these gimlet-eyed scientists.

Oh, sure! I knew it was just about time for some kind of an off-key
noise from you, you grouchy old leftover. Just because you graduated
from one of those paradises in pants, where they import a carload of
girls from all over the country to one dance a year and worry along the
rest of the time with chorus girls and sweet young town girls who began
bringing students up by hand about the time Wm. H. Taft was a Freshman,
you think you are qualified to toss in a few hoots about co-education.
Back away, Sam! That subject is loaded. I've had palpitations on a
college campus myself; and I want to tell you right here that it beats
having them at a stage door, or at a summer resort, or in a parlor just
around the corner from nine relatives, or in one of those short-story
conservatories, or in the United States mails, forty ways for Sunday;
and, besides, it's educational. We co-educationalists get a four years'
course in close-coupled conversation and girl classification while you
fellows in the skirtless schools are getting the club habit and are
saving up for the privilege of dancing with other fellows' fiancées at
the proms once a year.

Honestly, I never could see just why a fellow should wait until he is
through college before he begins to study the science of how to make
some particular girl believe that if Adam came back he would look at him
and say: "Gee, it swells me all up to think that chap is a descendant of
mine!"

And I may be thick in my thought dome, but I never could see any
objection to marrying a classmate, either, even though I didn't do it
myself. I admit co-educational schools are strong on matrimony. Haven't
I dug up for thirty-nine wedding presents for old Siwash students
already? And don't I get a shiver that reaches from my collar-button
down to my heels every time I get one of those thick, stiff,
double-barreled envelopes, with "Kindly dig," or words to that effect,
on the inside? Usually they come in pairs--the bid to the next wedding
and the bill for the last present. Why, out of sixty-five ninety-umpters
with whom I graduated, six couples are already holding class reunions
every evening; and just the other day another of the boys, who thought
he would look farther, came back after having made a pretty thorough
inspection all over the civilized world, and camped outside of the home
of a girl in our class until she admitted that he looked better to her
than any of the rising young business men who had bisected her orbit in
the last ten years. They're to be married this spring and I'm going back
to the wedding. Incidentally I'm going to help pay for three more silver
cups. We give a silver cup to each class baby and each frat baby, and
I've been looking around this past year for a place where we can buy
them by the dozen.

Weddings! Why, man, a co-educational college is a wedding factory. What
of it? As far as I can see, Old Siwash produces as many governors,
congressmen and captains of industry to the graduate as any of the
single-track schools. And I notice one thing more. You don't find any of
our college couples hanging around the divorce courts. There is a
peculiar sort of stickiness about college marriages. They are for
keeps. When a Siwash couple doesn't have anything else agreeable to talk
about it can sit down and have a lovely three months' conversation on
the good old times. It takes a mighty acrimonious quarrel to stand a
college reunion around a breakfast table. Take it from me, you lonesome
old space-waster, with nothing but a hatrack to give you an affectionate
welcome when you come home at night, there is no better place on earth
to find good wife material than a college campus. Of course I don't
think a man should go to college to find a wife; but if his foot should
slip, and he should marry a girl whose sofa pillows have the same
reading matter on them as there is on his, there's nothing to yell for
help about. Ten to one he's drawn a prize. Girls who go through
co-educational colleges are extra fine, hand-picked, sun-ripened,
carefully wrapped-up peaches--and I know what I'm talking about.

How do I know? Heavens, man! didn't I go through the Siwash peach
orchard for four years? Don't I know the game from candy to carriages?
Didn't I spend every spring in a light pink haze of perfect bliss? And
wasn't all the Latin and Greek and trigonometry and athletic junk
crowded out of my memory at the end of every college year by the face of
the most utterly, superlatively marvelous girl in the world? And wasn't
it a different face every spring? Oh, I took the entire course in
girlology, Sam! I never skipped a single recitation. I got a Summa Cum
Laudissimus in strolling, losing frat pins, talking futures and
acquiring hand-made pennants. And the only bitter thought I've got is
that I can't come back.

You'll never realize, my boy, how old Pa Time roller-skates by until you
go back to a co-ed college ten years afterward. Here, in the busy mart
of trade, I'm a promising young infant who has got to "Yes, sir" and
"No, sir" to the big ones, and be good and get to work on time for
thirty years before I will be trusted to run a monopoly alone on a quiet
day; but back on the Siwash Campus, Sam, I'm a patriarch. That's one
reason why I don't go back. I'm married and I don't care to be madly
sought after, but also I don't care to make a hit as a fine old antique
for a while yet, thank you. When I am forty, and have gummed up my
digestion in the dollar-herding game until I wheeze for breath when I
run up a column of figures, I'll go back and have a nice comfy time in
the grandpa class. But not now. The only difference between a
thirty-year-old alumnus and the mummy of Rameses, to a college girl, is
in favor of the mummy. It doesn't come around and ask for dances.

I suppose, Sam, you think you've been all lit up under the upper
left-hand vest pocket over one or two girls in your time, but I don't
believe a fellow can fall in love so far over his ears anywhere in the
world as he can in Siwash College. That's only natural, for the finest
girls in the world go to Siwash--except one girl who went to another
school by accident and whom I ran across about three years ago wearing
an Alfalfa Delt pin. I'll take you up to the house to see her some time.
She was too nice a girl to wear an Alfalfa Delt pin and I just naturally
had to take it off and put on an Eta Bita Pie pin; and somehow in the
proceedings we got married--and all I have to say about it is three
cheers for the universe!

Anyway, as I was saying, it was as easy to fall in love at Siwash as it
was to forget to go to chapel. We got along all right in the fall. We
liked the girls enormously and were always smashing up some football
team just to please them. And, of course, we kept ourselves all stove up
financially during the winter hauling them to parties and things in
Jonesville's nine varnished cabs. It took about as much money to support
those cabs as it does to run a fleet of battleships. But it was in the
spring that the real fireworks began. Suddenly, about the first
Wednesday after the third Friday in April, the ordinary Siwash man
discovers that some girl whom he has known all year isn't a girl at all,
but a peachblow angel who is just stopping on earth to make a better man
of him and show him what a dull, pifflish thing Paradise would be
without her. Life becomes a series of awful blank spots, with walks on
the campus between them. He can't get his calculus because he is busy
figuring on a much more difficult problem; he is trying to figure
whether three dances with some other fellow mean anything more to Her
than charity. He gets cold chills every time he reflects that at any
minute a member of some royal family may pass by and notice Her, and
that he will have to promote international spasms by hashing him. He
realizes that he has misspent his life; that football is a boy business;
that frats are foolish, and that there ought to be a law giving every
college graduate a job paying at least two thousand dollars a year on
graduation. He is nervous, feverish, depressed, inspired, anxious,
oblivious, glorified, annihilated, encouraged and all cluttered up with
emotion. The planet was invented for the purpose of letting Her dig Her
number three heels into it on spring afternoons. Sunshine is important
because Her hair looks better with the light on it. Every time She
frowns the weather bureau hangs out a tornado signal, and every time She
smiles somebody puts a light-blue sash around the horizon and a double
row of million-candle-power calcium lights clear down the future, as far
as he can see.

That's what love does to a college boy in spring. It's a kind of
rose-colored brainstorm, but it very seldom has complications. By the
next fall, the ozone is out of the air; and after a couple has gone
strolling about twice, football and the sorority rushes butt in--and
it's all over. Freshman girls are a help, too. Beats all how much
assistance a Freshman girl can be in forgetting a Senior girl who isn't
on the premises! Even in the spring-fever period we didn't get engaged
to any extent. The nearest I ever came to it was to ask the light of my
life for ninety-several if she would wear my frat pin forever and ever
until next fall. And, let me tell you, there wasn't any local of the
Handholders' Union on the Siwash Campus. That's another place where you
soubrette worriers have us figured out wrong. Rushing a Siwash girl was
about as distant a proposition for us as trying to snuggle up to the
planets in the telescopic astronomy course. For cool, pleasant and
skillful unapproachability, a co-ed girl breaks all records. We just
worshiped them as higher beings, and I find that a lot of Siwash boys
who have married Siwash girls are still a little bit dazed about the
whole affair. They can't figure how they ever had the nerve to start
real businesslike negotiations.

This very high-class insulation in our love affairs caused us fellows a
lot of woe once in a while. You never could tell whether or not a girl
was engaged to some fellow back home. We didn't get impertinent enough
to ask. I think there ought to be a law compelling a girl who comes to
college engaged to some rising young merchant prince in the country
store back home to wear an engagement ring around her neck, where it can
be easily seen. More than once, a Siwash man who had been conservative
enough to worship the same girl right through his college course and who
had proposed to her on the last night of school, when the open season
for thou-beside-me talk began, has found that all the time some chap has
been writing her a letter a day and that she has only regarded the
Siwash man as a kind friend, and so on. Never will I forget when
Frankling got stung that way! Of course we didn't generally know when a
tragedy of this sort happened, but in his case he brought it on himself.
If he hadn't made a furry-eared songbird out of himself when Ole
Skjarsen drew his girl at the Senior class party--

You want to know about this girl lottery business, you say? Well, it's
plain that I shall have to begin right back at the beginning of the
Siwash social system and educate you a little at a time. Now this class
party drawing is an institution which has been handed down at Siwash
ever since the ancients went to school before the war. You see, at
Siwash, as at most colleges, there is the fraternity problem. The frat
men give parties to the sorority girls as often as the Dean of Women
will stand for it, and every one gets gorgeously acquainted and
extremely sociable. The non-fratters go to the Y. M. C. A. reception at
the beginning of each year and to the Commencement exercises, and that's
about all. Of course they pick up lots of friends among the non-sorority
girls; and I guess D. Cupid solders up about as many jobs among them as
he does among the others. But there isn't much chance for these two
tribes to mix. That was why the class lottery was invented. It has been
a custom at Siwash, ever since there has been a Siwash, for each class
to hold a party each year. Now class parties are held in order that pure
and perfect democracy may be promoted, and it is necessary to take
violent measures to shuffle up the people and get every one interested.
So they draw for partners. The class which is about to effervesce
socially holds a meeting. At this meeting the names of all the men are
put in one hat and the names of all the girls in another. Then two
judges of impregnable honesty draw out a name from each hat
simultaneously and read them to the class.

When I was at Siwash a class party was the most exciting event in
college. For uncertainty and breath-grabbing anxiety they made the
football games seem as tame as a church election. Of course everybody
can't be a Venus de Milo or an Apollo with a Beveled Ear, as Petey
Simmons used to call him. Every class has its middle-aged young ladies,
who are attending college to rest up from ten or fifteen years of
school-teaching, and its tall young agriculturalists with restless
Adam's apples, whose idea of being socially interesting is to sit all
evening in the same chair making a noise like one of those $7.78-suit
dummies. That's what made the class lotteries so interesting. The
plow-chasers drew the prettiest girls in the class and the most
accomplished fusser among the fellows usually drew a girl who would make
the manager of a beauty parlor utter a sad shriek and throw up his job.
Of course every one was bound in honor to take what came out of the hat.
Nobody flinched and nobody renigged, but there was a lot of suppressed
excitement and well-modulated regret.

I have been reasonably wicked since I left college. Once or twice I
have slapped down a silver dollar or thereabout and have watched the
little ball roll round and round a pocket that meant a wagon-load of
tainted tin for me; and once in a while I have placed five dollars on a
pony of uncertain ability and have watched him go from ninth to second
before he blew up. But I never got half the heart-ripping suspense out
of these pastimes that I did out of a certain few party drawings, when I
waited for my name to come out and wondered, while I looked across the
hall at the girl section, whether I was going to draw the one girl in
the world, any one of four or five mighty interesting runners-up, or the
fat little girl in the corner with ropy hair and the general look of a
person who had had a bright idea a few years before and had been
convalescing from it ever since.

Talk about excitement and consequences! Those drawings kept us on the
jump until the parties were pulled off. Generally the proud beauties who
had been drawn by the midnight-oil destroyers did not know them, and
some one had to steer the said destroyers around to be introduced. What
with dragging bashful young chaps out to call and then seeing that they
didn't freeze up below the ankles and get sick on the night of the
party; and what with teaching them the rudiments of waltzing and giving
them pointers on lawn ties; or how to charter a good seaworthy hack in
case the girl lived on an unpaved street; and bracing up the fellows who
had drawn blanks, and going to call on the blanks we had drawn and
getting gloriously snubbed--give me a wall-flower for thorns!--well, it
was no cinch to run a class party. But they were grand affairs, just the
same, and promoted true fellowship, besides furnishing amusement for the
whole college in the off season. And, besides, I always remember them
with gratitude for what they did to Frankling.

You know there are two kinds of fussers in college. There is the chap
like Petey Simmons, for instance, whose heart was a directory of Siwash
girls; and there is the fellow who grabs one girl and stakes out claim
boards all around her for the whole four years. That was Frankling's
style. He was what we always called a married man. He and Pauline
Spencer were the closest corporation in college. They entered school in
the same class, and he called on her every Friday night at Browning Hall
and took her to every party and lecture and entertainment for the next
three and a half years--except, of course, the class parties. It was one
of our chief delights to watch Frankling grind his teeth when some
lowbrow--as he called them--drew her name. She always had rotten
luck--you never saw such luck! Once Ettleson drew her. He was a tall,
silent farmer, who wore boots and a look of gloom; and he marched her
through a mile of mud to the hall without saying a word, handed her to
the reception committee and went over to a corner, where he sat all
evening. But that wasn't so bad as the Junior she drew. His name was
Slaughter. His father had a dairy at the edge of Jonesville and
Slaughter decided that, as the night was cold and rainy, a carriage
would be appropriate. So he scrubbed up the milk wagon thoroughly, put a
lot of nice, clean straw on the floor, hung a lantern from the top for
heat and drove her down to the party in state. She was game and didn't
make a murmur, but Frankling made a pale-gray ass of himself. As I said,
I never liked Frankling. He had a nasty, sneering way of looking at the
whole school, except his own crowd. His father owned the locomotive
works and he always went to Europe for his summers. He was one of those
unnecessary individuals who are solemnly convinced that if you don't do
things just as they do something is lacking in your mind; and, though he
was perfectly bred, he was only about half as pleasant to have around as
a well-behaved hyena.

I never could see what Miss Spencer saw in him, unless it was the
locomotives. As far as we could tell--we never got much chance to
judge--she was a real nice girl. She was a little haughty and never had
much to say, and always acted as if she was a princess temporarily off
the job. But she was a good scout, and proved it at the class parties by
making it as pleasant as she could for the nervous nobodies who took
her; while the yellow streak in Frankling was so broad there wasn't
enough white in him to look like a collar. That's why the whole college
went crazy with delight over the Ole Skjarsen affair.--Last station,
ladies and gents. Story begins here.

When we were Seniors Ole Skjarsen was the chief embarrassment of the
class. As a football player he was a wonder, but as a society
fritterling he was one long catastrophe. He just couldn't possibly get
hep--that was all. He was as companionable and as good-natured as a St.
Bernard pup and just as inconvenient to have around. He dressed like a
vaudeville sketch, and the number of things he could do in an hour,
which are not generally done in low-vest and low-neck circles, was
appalling. However we all loved Ole because of his grand and historic
deeds on the team, and we took him to our parties and never so much as
fell out of our chairs when he took off his coat in order to dance with
more comfort and energy. The girls were as loyal as we were and danced
with him as long as their feet held out, and we made them leather hero
medals and really had a lot of fun out of the whole business--all except
Frankling. It just about killed him to have to mingle with Ole socially;
and when the time for the Senior class party drew near he got so nervous
that he called a meeting of a few of us fellows and made a big kick.

"I tell you, fellows, this has got to stop!" he declared. "We've
encouraged this lumber-jack until he has gotten too fresh for any use.
Why, he'll ask any girl in the college to dance with him, and he goes
and calls on them, too. Now, it's up to us to show him his place. I'm
dead against putting his name in the hat for the party. He'll be sure to
draw a girl who will be humiliated by having to go with him; and I have
a little too much regard for chivalry and courtesy to allow him to do
it. We'll just have to hint to him that he'd better have another
engagement the night of the class party, that's all."

Thereupon we all rose joyously up and told Frankling to go jump in the
creek. And he called us muckers and declared we were ignorant of the
first principles of social ethics. He said that Skjarsen might be near
enough our level to be inoffensive, but as for him he declined to have
anything to do with the class party. Thereupon we gave three cheers, and
that made him so mad that he left the meeting and fell over three chairs
trying to do it with speed and dignity. Altogether it was a most
enjoyable occasion. We'd never gotten quite so much satisfaction out of
him before.

The drawing took place the next week and, sure enough, Frankling
declined to allow his name to be put in the hat. We put Ole's name in
and were prepared to have him draw a Class A girl; but what happened
knocked the props out from under us. His name came fourth and he drew
the mortgaged and unapproachable Miss Spencer.

We didn't know whether to celebrate or prepare for trouble. It seemed
reasonable that Miss Spencer would back up Frankling and reduce Ole to
an icicle when he asked her to go with him. But the next morning, when
we saw Frankling, we were so happy that we forgot to worry. He was one
large paroxysm. I never saw so much righteous indignation done up in one
bundle. He cornered the class officers and declared in passionate tones
that they had committed the outrage of the century. They had insulted
one of the finest young women in the college. They had made it advisable
for all persons of culture to remain away from Siwash. The disgrace must
not be allowed. He didn't speak as a friend, but as a disinterested
party who wanted justice done; and he proposed to secure it.

We took all this quite humbly and asked him why he didn't see Ole
himself and order him to unhand the lady. From the way he turned pale,
we guessed he had done that already. Ole weighed two-twenty in his
summer haircut and was quick-tempered. We then asked him why he didn't
buy Ole off. We also asked him why he didn't shut down the college, and
why he didn't have Congress pass a law or something, and if his head had
ever pained him before. He was tearing off his collar in order to answer
more calmly and collectedly when Ole came into the room. Ole had combed
his hair and shined his shoes, and he had on the pink-and-blue necktie
that he had worn the month before to the annual promenade with a rented
dress suit. He seemed very cheerful.

"Vell, fallers," says he, "das leetle Spencer gal ban all rite. She say
she go by me to das party. Ve ban goin' stylish tu, Aye bet yu." Then
he saw Frankling and went over to him with his hand out. "Don't yu care,
Master Frankling," he said, with one of his transcontinental smiles.
"Aye tak yust sum good care by her lak Aye ban her steddy faller." Phew!

       *       *       *       *       *

Ole took Miss Spencer to the party. There isn't a bit of doubt but that
he took her in style. He put more care and exertion into the job than
any of the rest of us and he got more impressive results. Ole has his
ideas about dress. Ordinarily he wore one of those canned suits that you
buy in the coat-and-pants emporiums, giving your age and waist measure
in order to get a perfect fit. He wore a celluloid collar with it and a
necktie that must have been an heirloom in the family; and he wore a
straw hat most of the year. He wore each one till it blew away and then
got another. This rig was good enough for Ole in ordinary little social
affairs, but when it came to dances and receptions he blossomed out in
evening clothes. He had made a bargain with a second-hand clothes-man
downtown--split his wood all winter for the use of a dress suit that had
lost its position in a prominent family and was going downhill fast. You
know how the tailors work the dress suit racket. They can't exactly
change the style of a suit--it's got to be open-faced and have
tails--but they work in some little improvement like a braid on or off,
or an extra buttonhole, or a flare in the vest each year; so that a
really bang-up-to-date chap would blush all over if he had to wear a
last year's model. I notice the automobile makers are doing the same
stunt. They can't improve their cars any more, so they put four doors on
one year, cut 'em in two the next and take them off the year after.

This hasn't anything to do with Ole except that that dress suit of his
was behind the times one hundred and two counts. It had been a fat man's
suit in the first place. It fitted him magnificently at the shoulders.
He and the suit began to leave each other from that point down. At the
waist it looked like a deflated balloon. The top of the trousers fitted
him about as snugly as a round manhole in the street. The legs flapped
like the mainsail of a catboat that's coming about. They ended some time
before his own legs did and there was quite a little stretch of yarn
sock visible before the big tan shoes began. Ole had two acres of feet
and he polished his shoes himself, with great care. They were not so
large as an ordinary ballroom, but somehow he used them so skillfully
that they gave the effect of covering the entire space. Four times
around Ole's feet constituted a pretty fair encore at our dances; and
I've seen him pen up as many as three couples in a corner with them when
he got those feet tangled.

That was Ole's formal costume. But he didn't regard it with awe. Any one
could wear a dress suit. It seemed to him that a Senior party to which
he was to escort Miss Spencer was too important to pass airily off with
the same old suit. He had another card up his sleeve.

"Aye ent tal yu," he explained when we asked him anxiously what it was
he proposed to wear. "Yust vait. Aye ban de hull show, Aye tank. Yu
fallers yust put on your yumpin'-yack suits. Aye mak yu look lak torta
cent."

Of course we waited. We didn't have anything else to do. We worried a
little, but we had gotten used to Ole, anyway--and what was the
difference? It would be a little hard on Miss Spencer, but it would be
magnificently horrible to Frankling, who considered that a collar of the
wrong cut might endanger a man's whole future career. So we resigned
ourselves and attended to our own troubles.

The night of the party was a cold, clear January evening. There was snow
on the ground and it was packed hard on the sidewalks. This was nuts for
the oil-burners. They walked their girls to the hall. Four of the
reckless ones clubbed together and hired a big closed carriage affair
from the livery stable. It happened to be a pallbearers' carriage during
the daytime, but they didn't know the difference and the girls didn't
tell them; and what you don't know will never cause your poor old brain
to ache. We frat fellows blew our hard-worked allowances for varnished
cabs and thereby proved ourselves the biggest suckers in the bunch. To
this day I can't see why a girl who can dance all night, and can stroll
all afternoon of a winter's day, has to be hauled three blocks in a
two-horse rig every time she goes to a party. The money we spent on cabs
while I was at Siwash would have built a new stadium, painted every frat
house in town and endowed a chair of United States languages. But,
there!--I'm on my pet hobby again. How it did hurt to pay for those
hacks!

I got there late with my girl--she was a shy little conservatory
student, who evidently regarded conversation as against the rules--and I
found the usual complications that had to be sorted out at the beginning
of every class party. Stiffy Short was sore. He was short five dances
for his girl--had been working on her program for a week--and he accused
the fellows of dodging because she couldn't dance; and was threatening
to be taken sick and spend the evening in the dressing room smoking
cigarettes. Miss Worthington, one of our Class A girls, didn't have a
dance, because Tullings, who had drawn her, had presumed that she was to
sit and talk with him all evening. Petey Simmons was in even worse. His
girl couldn't dance, but insisted on doing so. She had done it the year
before, too. Petey had been training up for two weeks by tugging his
dresser around the room. Then there was Glenallen. We always had to form
a committee of national defense against Glenallen. He couldn't dance,
either, and he would insist on hitching his chair out towards the middle
of the room. I've seen him throw as many as four couples in a night. And
there was a telephone call from Miss Morse, class secretary and
first-magnitude star. Her escort hadn't shown up. He never did show up.
When we went around to lynch him the next day he explained desperately
that at the last minute he found he had forgotten to get a lawn necktie.
You know how a little thing like a lawn necktie that ain't can wreck an
evening dress, unless you are an old enough head to cut up a
handkerchief and fold the ends under.

We had gotten things pretty well straightened out before we discovered
that Ole was missing. That would never do. If Miss Spencer needed
rescuing we were the boys to do it. Three of us rushed down the stairs
to send a carriage over to Browning Hall, and that minute Ole arrived at
the party.

He had worn his very best--the suit he was proudest of and the one he
knew couldn't be duplicated. It was his lumber-camp rig--corduroy
trousers, big boots and overshoes, red flannel shirt, canvas pea-jacket
and fur cap. He came marching up the walk like the hero in a
moving-picture show and we thought he was alone till he reached the
door. Then we saw Miss Spencer. She was seated in state behind him on
one of those hand-sledges the farmers use for hauling cordwood. There
were evergreen boughs behind her and all around her, and she was so
wrapped up in a huge camp blanket that all we could see of her was her
eyes.

We gave Ole three cheers and carried Miss Spencer upstairs on the
evergreen boughs. The two were the hits of the party. We never had a
better one. The incident broke more ice than we could have chopped out
in a month with all the dull-edged talk we had been handing around.
Every one had a good laugh by way of a general introduction and then we
all turned in and made things hum. The wall-flowers got plucked.
Somebody taught the president of the Y. M. C. A. how to waltz and poor
Henry Boggs forgot for two hours that he had hands and feet, and that
they were beyond his control. It was a tremendous success; we were so
enthusiastic by the time things broke up that we told the cabmen to go
hang and all walked home to the Hall, the men fighting for a chance to
pull on the sledge-rope with Ole.

Hold on, Sam. Put down your hat. This isn't the end, thank you. It's
just the prologue. Of course we all expected, when Ole unloaded Miss
Spencer at the Hall and she bade him good evening, and thanked him for
her delightful time and so on, that the incident would be closed. Never
dreamed of anything else. Lumber-jack suits and cordwood sledges are
fine for novelties, but they can't come back, you know--once is enough.
And that's why we fell dead in rows when Ole, straw hat and all, walked
over to Lab. from chapel with Miss Spencer the next day--and she didn't
call for the police. We couldn't have stared any harder if the college
chapel had bowed and walked off with her. And we hadn't recovered from
the blow when Friday night rolled around and those of us who went to
call at the Hall found Ole seated in Frankling's particular corner,
entertaining Miss Spencer with an average of one remark a minute, which,
so far as we could hear, consisted generally of "Aye tank so" and "No,
ma'am."

By this time we had decided that Frankling was sulking and that Miss
Spencer was showing him that if she wanted to be friendly with Ole, or
the town pump, or the plaster statue of Victory in the college library,
she had a perfect right to. I guess she showed him all right, too, for
after a couple of weeks he surrendered and then the queerest rivalry
Siwash had ever seen began. Frankling, son of the locomotive works,
authority on speckled vests and cotillons, was scrapping with Ole
Skjarsen, the cuffless wonder from the lumber camps, for the affections
of the prettiest girl in college. No wonder we got so interested that
spring that most of us forgot to fall in love ourselves.

I don't to this day believe that Miss Spencer meant a word of it. I
think that she was simply good-natured, in the first place, and that,
when Frankling began to bite little semicircular pieces out of the air,
she began mixing her drinks, so to speak, just for the excitement of the
thing. Anyway, Frankling walked over to chapel with her and Ole lumbered
back. Frankling took her to the basket-ball games and Ole took her to
the Kiowa debate and slept peacefully through most of it. Frankling
bought a beautiful little trotting horse and sleigh and took Miss
Spencer on long rides. In Siwash, young people do not have chaperons,
guards, nurses nor conservators. That was a knockout, we all thought;
but it never feazed Ole. He invited Miss Spencer to go street-car riding
with him and she did it. Some of us found them bumping over the line in
one of the flat-wheeled catastrophes that the Jonesville Company called
cars--and Miss Spencer didn't even blush. She bowed to us just as
unconcernedly as if she wasn't breaking all long-distance records for
eccentricity in Siwash history.

Frankling dodged the whole college and got wild in the eyes. He looked
like an eminent statesman who was being compelled to act as barker in a
circus against his will. It must have churned up his vitals to do his
sketch act with Ole; but when you have had one of those four-year cases,
and it has gotten tangled up in your past and future, you can't always
dictate just what you are going to do. It was plain to see that Miss
Spencer had Frankling hooked, haltered, hobbled, staked out,
Spanish-bitted, wrapped up and stamped with her name and laid on the
shelf to be called for; and it was just as evident that she considered
he would be all the nicer if she walked around on him for a while and
massaged his disposition a little with her little French heels.

So Frankling continued to divide time with Ole, and all the fellows whom
he had insulted about their neckties and all the girls whom he had
forgotten to dance with sat around in perfect content and watched the
show.

[Illustration: He invited Miss Spencer to go street-car riding with him
                    _Page 246_]

We all thought it would wear out after a few weeks. But it didn't. The
semester recess came and, when college assembled again, Ole cut
Frankling out for the athletic ball as neatly as if he had been in the
girl game all his life. Frankling countered with the promenade two weeks
later, but he went clear to the ropes when Miss Spencer came out one
fine morning at chapel with Ole's football charm--the one he had won the
year the team had annihilated two universities and seven assorted
colleges. He came back gamely and decorated her with fraternity hatpins,
cuff buttons, belt buckles and side combs; and on the strength of it he
got three Friday evenings in a row. That might have jarred any one but
Ole. But he came up smiling and took Miss Spencer to a Y. M. C. A.
social, where he bought her four dishes of ice cream and had to be
almost violently restrained from offering her the whole freezer.

Winter wore out and spring came. Frankling brought the whole resources
of the locomotive works into play. He got a private car and took a party
off to the Kiowa baseball game, with Miss Spencer as guest of honor. He
bombarded her with imported candy and American beauties, and cluttered
up the spring with a series of whist parties, which butted into the
social calendar something frabjous. Ole plowed right along with his own
peculiar style of argument. He met the private-car business with a straw
ride and his prize offering was a hunk of spruce gum from his pine
woods, as big as your two fists; and, so far as we could see, the gum
got exactly the same warmth of reception as the candy--though it didn't
disappear with anywhere near the rapidity.

As April went by, we Seniors got busy with the first awful preliminaries
of Commencement. It began to be considered around college that Senior
Day would settle the affair one way or the other. Senior Day is the last
event of Commencement Week at Siwash and more engagements have been
announced formally or otherwise that day than at any other time. If a
Senior man and girl, who had been making a rather close study of each
other, walked out on the campus together after the exercises and took in
the corporation dinner at noon side by side, no one hesitated about
offering congratulations. They might not be exactly due, but it was a
sign that there was going to be an awful lot of nice-looking stationery
spoiled by the two after the sad partings were said. Now we didn't have
a doubt that either Frankling or Ole would amble proudly down between
the lilac rows on Class Day with Miss Spencer, under the good old
pretense of helping her locate the dinner-tables a hundred yards away;
and betting on the affair got pretty energetic. Day after day the odds
varied. When Frankling broke closing-time rules at Browning Hall by a
good thirty minutes some two-to-one money was placed on him. When Ole
and Miss Spencer cut chapel the next day the odds promptly switched. You
could get takers on either side at any time, but I think the odds
favored Ole a little. You can't help boosting your preferences with
your good money. It's like betting on your college team.

Commencement Week came and, although we were Seniors, we went through it
without hardly noticing the scenery. We watched Ole and Frankling all
through Baccalaureate, and when Ole won a twenty-yard dash across the
church and over several of us, and marched down the street with Miss
Spencer, it looked as if all was over but the Mendelssohn business. But
Frankling had her in a box at the class play the next night. How could
you pay any attention to the glorious threshold of life and the expiring
gasps of dear college days with a race like that on!

Commencement was on Wednesday and Senior Day was Thursday. Up to
Wednesday night it was an even break--steen points all. One of the two
had won. We hadn't a doubt of it. But, if both men had been born poker
players, drawing to fill, in a jack-pot that had been sweetened nine
times, you couldn't have told less to look at them. Frankling was as
glum as ever and Ole had the same reënforced concrete expression of
innocence that he used to wear while he was getting off the ball behind
somebody's goal line, after having carried it the length of the field.
We were discussing the thing that night on the porch of the Eta Bita Pie
house and were putting up a few final bets when Ole came up, carpet-bag
in hand and his diploma under his arm, and bade us good-by. He was going
out on the midnight train--going away for good.

For a minute you could have heard the grass growing. If Ole was going
away that night it meant just one thing: the cruel Miss Spencer had
tossed him over and he was bumping the bumps downward into a cold and
cheerless future. We were so sorry we could hardly speak for a minute.
Then Allie Bangs got up and put his arm as far across Ole's shoulder as
it would go.

"By thunder, I'm sorry, old chap!" he said huskily.

For a man who had just had an air-castle fall on his neck, Ole didn't
talk very dejectedly. "Vy yu ban sorry?" he demanded. "Aye got gude yob
St. Paul vay. De boss write me Aye skoll come Friday. Aye ent care to be
late first t'ing."

"But, Ole--" Bangs began. Then he stopped. You can't bawl out a question
about another man's love affairs before a whole mob.

"Yu fallers ban fine tu me," Ole began again. "Aye lak yu bully! Ven yu
come by St. Paul, take Yim Hill's railroad and come to Sven Akerson's
camp, femt'n mile above Lars Hjellersen's gang. Aye ban boss of Sven's
camp now. Aye gat yu gude time and plenty flapyack."

He turned to go. Allie and I got up and walked firmly down the walk with
him. We were going to be relieved of our suspense if we had to buy the
information.

"Now, Ole," said Allie, grabbing his carpet-bag, "you know we're not
going to let you go down to the train alone. Besides, we want to know
if everything is all right with you. You know we love you. We're for
you, Ole. You--you and Miss Spencer parting good friends?"

"Yu bet!" said Ole enthusiastically. "She ban fine gur'rl, Aye tal yu.
Sum day Aye ban sending her deerskin from lumber camp."

Bangs braced up again. "Er--you and Miss Spencer--er--not engaged, are
you?" he said, the way a fellow goes at it when he is diving into cold
water. Ole looked around in perfect good humor. "Get married by each
odder?" he said. "Yee whiz! no, Master Bangs. She ban nice gur'rl. It
ent any nicer in Siwash College. But she kent cook. She kent build fire
in woodstove. She kent wash. She kent bake flatbrot. She kent make
close. She yust ban purty, like picture. Vat for Aye vant to marry
picture gallery? Aye ban tu poor faller fur picture gallery, Aye tank."

"But, Ole," says I, jumping in, "you've been rushing the girl all winter
as if your life depended on it. What did you mean by that?"

Ole turned around patiently and sat down on the steps of the First
Methodist Church, which happened to be passing just then. "Vell, Aye tal
yu," he explained. "Miss Spencer she ban nice tu me. She go tu class
party 'nd ent give dam vat das Frankling faller say. Aye ent forget dat,
Aye tal yu; 'nd, by yimminy Christmas! Aye show her gude time all
right."

We took Ole to the station and sat down to rest three times on the way
back. So all that terrific performance was a reward for Miss Spencer! "O
gratitude!" says the poet, "how many crimes are committed in thy name!"

We were so dazed that night that it didn't occur to us to wonder why
Miss Spencer stood for all the gratitude. But the next day, when the
exercises were over, that young lady stepped down from the platform and
was met by a tall chap whom she later introduced to us as a friend of
the family from her home town. You can always spot these family friends
by the way the girl blushes when she introduces them. Miss Spencer wore
a fine new diamond ring and we knew what it meant. It was just another
case where the girl came to school and the man stayed at home and built
a seven-room house on a prominent corner four blocks from his hardware
store and waited--and tried not to get any more jealous than possible. I
suppose Miss Spencer used Ole as a sort of parachute to let Frankling
down easily at the last. Anyway, we wiped the whole affair off the slate
after that. She wasn't one of us, anyway. Made us shiver to think of
her. What if one of us had sailed in the Freshman year and cut Frankling
out!

[Illustration: You can always spot these family friends
                    _Page 252_]



CHAPTER X

VOTES FROM WOMEN


Do I believe in woman's suffrage? Certainly, if you do, Miss Allstairs.
As I sit here, where I couldn't help seeing you frown if I didn't please
you, I favor anything you favor. If you want the women to vote just hand
me the ax and show me the man who would prevent them. If you think the
women should play the baseball of our country it's all right with me.
I'll help pass a law making it illegal for Hans Wagner to hang around a
ball park except as water-boy. If you believe that women ought to wear
three-story hats in theaters--

No, I'm not making fun of you. I hope I may never be allowed to lug a
box of Frangipangi's best up your front steps again if I am. If you want
the women to vote, Miss Allstairs, just breathe the word, and I'll go
out and start a suffragette mob as soon as ever I can find a brick. And
I would be a powerful advocate, too. You can't tell me that women
wouldn't be able to handle the ballot. You can't tell me they would get
their party issues mixed up with their party gowns. I've seen them vote
and I've seen them play politics. And let me tell you, when woman gets
the vote man will totter right back to the kitchen and prepare the
asparagus for supper, just to be out of harm's way. His good old
arguments about the glory of the nation, the rising price of wheat and
the grand record of those sterling patriots who have succeeded in
getting their names on the government payroll won't get him to first
base when women vote. He'll have to learn the game all over again, and
the first ninety-nine years' course of study will be that famous
subject, "Woman."

How do I know so much about it? Just as I told you. I've been through
the mill. I've seen women vote. I've tried to get them to vote my way.
I've never herded humming birds or drilled goldfishes in close
formation, but I'd take the job cheerfully. It would be just a rest cure
after four years' experience in persuading a large voting body of
beautiful and fascinating young women to vote the ticket straight and to
let me name the ticket.

Oh, no! I never lived in Colorado, and I never was a polygamist in Utah,
thank you. I'm nothing but an alumnus of Siwash College, which, as you
know, is co-educational to a heavenly degree. I'm just a young alumnus
with about eighty-nine gray hairs scattered around in my thatch. Each
one of those gray hairs represents a vote gathered by me from some
Siwash co-ed in the cause of liberty and progress and personal friends.
Eighty-nine was my total score. Took me four years to get 'em, working
seven days in the week and forty weeks in the year. I'm no
brass-finished and splash-lubricated politician, but I'll bet I could
go out in any election and cord up that many votes with whiskers on them
in three days. "Votes for Women" is a fine sentiment and very
appropriate, Miss Allstairs, but "Votes from Women" has always been the
motto under which I have fought and been bled--I beg your pardon; that
just slipped out accidentally. Of course there was nothing of the sort
possible. Now there isn't the slightest use of your getting angry and
making me feel like an Arctic explorer in a linen suit. If you insist
I'll go out on the front porch and sit there a few weeks until you
forgive me, but that's the very best I can do for you. I will positively
not erase myself from your list of acquaintances. When a man has been
hanging around the world in a bored way for thirty-two years, just
waiting for Fate to catch up with its assignments and trundle you along
within my range in order to give the sun a rest--

Oh, well--if you forgive me of course I'll stop anything you say. Though
really, now, that wasn't joshing. It came from the depths. Anyway, as I
was saying, "Votes from Women"--excuse me, please; I fell off there once
and I'm going to go slow--"Votes from Women" was the burning question
back at Siwash when I infested the campus. The women had the votes
already--no use agitating that. The big question was getting 'em back
when we needed them. You see, the Faculty always insisted on regulating
athletics more or less and on organizing things for us--didn't believe
we mere college youths could get an organization together according to
Hoyle, or whoever drew up the rules of disorder in college societies,
without the help of some skyscraper-browed professor. So they saw fit to
organize what they called a general athletic association. Every student
who paid a dollar was enrolled as a member, with a vote and the
privilege of blowing a horn in a lady or gentleman like manner at all
college games. And just to assure a large membership, the faculty made a
rule that the dollar must be paid by all students with their tuition at
the beginning of the year. That, of course, enrolled the whole college,
girls and all, in the Athletic Association. And it was the Athletic
Association that raised the money to pay for the college teams and hired
the coaches and greased old Siwash's way to glory every fall during the
football season.

Now this didn't bother any for a few years. The men went to the meetings
and voted, and the girls stayed at home and made banners for the games.
Everything was lovely and comfortable. Then one day, in my Freshman year
just before the election, there was a crack in the slate and the Shi
Delts saw a chance to elect one of their men president--it wasn't their
turn that year, but you never could trust the Shi Delts politically any
farther than you could kick a steam roller. They put up their man and
there was a little campaign for about three hours that got up to eleven
hundred revolutions a minute. We clawed and scratched and dug for votes
and were still short when Reilly got an idea and rushed over to Browning
Hall. Five minutes before the polls closed he appeared, leading
twenty-seven Siwash girls, and the trouble was over. They voted for our
man and he was elected by four votes. But, incidentally, we tipped over
a can of--no, wait a minute. I've simply got to be more classical.
What's the use of a college diploma if you have to tell all you know in
baseball language? Let's see--you remember that beautiful Greek lady who
opened a box under the impression that there was a pound of assorted
chocolate creams in it and let loose a whole international museum of
trouble? Dora Somebody--eh? Oh, yes, Pandora. I always did fall down on
that name. Anyway, the box we opened in that election would have made
Pandora's little grief repository look like a box of pink powder. The
kind you girls--oh, very well. I take it back. Honestly, Miss Allstairs,
you'll get me so afraid of the cars in a minute that I'll have to ditch
this train of thought and talk about art. Ever hear me talk about art?
Well, it would serve you right if you did. I talked about art with a
kalsominer once, and he wanted to fight me for the honor of his
profession.

However, as I was saying, the women voted at Siwash that fall and I
guess they must have liked the taste, for the first thing we knew we had
the woman vote to take care of all the time. The next fall pretty nearly
every girl in the college turned out to class meetings, and the way
they voted pretty nearly drove us mad. They seemed to regard it as a
game. They fussed about whether to vote on pink paper or blue paper;
voted for members of the Faculty for class president; one of them voted
for the President of the United States for president of the Sophomore
class; wanted to vote twice; came up to the ballot box and demanded
their votes back because they had changed their minds; went away before
election and left word with a friend to vote for them. Took us an hour,
right in football practice time, to get the ticket through in our class;
and what with lending pencils and chasing girls who carried their
ballots away with them, and getting called down for trying to see that
everything went along proper and shipshape and according to program, we
boys were half crazy when it was all over.

But the girls liked it enormously. It was a novelty for them, and we saw
right there that it was a case of organize the female vote or have
things hopelessly muddled up before the end of the year. In the
interests of harmony things had to be done in a businesslike manner.
Certain candidates had to be put through and certain factions had to be
gently but firmly stepped on. Harmony, you know, Miss Allstairs, is a
most important thing in politics. Without harmony you can't do a thing.
Harmony in politics consists of giving the insurgents not what they ask
for, but something that you don't want. I was a grand little harmonizer
in my day too. I ran the oratorical league the year before it went
broke and then traded the presidency to the Chi Yi-Delta Whoop crowd for
the editorship of the Student Weekly. That's harmony. They were happy
and so was I. When I saw how hard they had to hustle to pay the
association debts the next fall I was so happy I could hardly stand it.

No, Miss Allstairs, that was not meanness on my part. It was politics.
There is a great deal of difference between meanness and politics. One
is lowdown and contemptible and nasty, and the other is expedient. See?
Why, some of the most generous men in the world are politicians. Time
and again I've seen Andy Hoople, the big politician of our town, pay a
man's fare to Chicago so that he could go up there and rest during the
last week of a political campaign and not bother himself and get all
worried over the way things were going--and the man would be on the
other side too.

Anyway, to--wait a minute; I'm going to hook over some French now. Look
out, low bridge--to rendezvous to our muttons--how's that? In a good
many ways there are worse jobs than that of persuading a pretty girl to
vote the right way. Sometimes I liked the job so well that I was sorry
when election came. But, on the whole, it was hard, hard work. We tried
arguments and exhortation and politics, and you might as well have shot
cheese balls at the moon. Never touched 'em. I talked straight logic to
a girl for an hour once, showing her conclusively that it was her duty
as a patriotic Siwash student to vote for a man who could give a strong
mind and a lot of money to the debating cause; and then she remarked
quite placidly that she would always vote for the other man for whatever
office he wanted, because he wore his dress suit with such an air. I had
to take her clear downtown and buy her ice cream and things before she
could understand the gravity of the case at all--

No, indeed, Miss Allstairs, I didn't bribe her. You must be very careful
about charging people with bribery. Bribery is a very serious offense.
It's so serious that nowadays it's a very grave thing to charge a
politician with it. I think it will be made a crime soon. I bought ice
cream for this girl because she could understand things better while she
was eating ice cream. It made her think better. Of course, you can't do
that with a man in real politics. You have to give him an office or a
contract or something in order to get his mind into a cheerful
condition. You can argue so much better with a man when he is cheerful.
No, indeed. I wouldn't bribe a fly. Nobody would. There isn't any
bribing any more anyway. Illinois has taught the world that.

But that was the least of our troubles. After you had persuaded a girl
to vote right you had to keep her persuaded. Now most any man might be
able to keep one vote in line, but that wasn't enough. Some of us had to
keep four or five votes all ready for use, for competition was pretty
swift and there were a tremendous number of co-eds in school. You never
saw such a job as it was. No sooner would I have Miss A. entirely
friendly to my candidate for the editorship of the Weekly than Miss B.
would flop over and show marked signs of frost--and then I would have to
drop everything and walk over from chapel with her three mornings
hand-running, and take her to a play, and make a wild pass about not
knowing whether any one would go to the prom with me or not. And then
just as she would begin to smile when she saw me Miss A. would pass me
on the street and look at me as if I had robbed a hen-roost. And just as
I was entirely friendly with both of them it would occur to me that I
hadn't called on Miss C. for three weeks and that Bannister, of the
Alfalfa Delts, was waiting for Miss D. after chapel every morning and
would doubtless make a lowdown, underhanded attempt to talk politics to
her in the spring. For a month before each election I felt like a giddy
young squirrel running races with myself around a wheel. Some college
boys can keep on terms of desperate and exclusive friendliness with a
dozen girls at a time--Petey Simmons got up to eighteen one spring when
we won the big athletic election--but four or five were as many as I
could manage by any means, and it kept me busted, conditioned and all
out of training to accomplish this. And when election-time approached
and it came to talking real politics, and the girl you had counted on
all winter to swing her wing of the third floor in Browning Hall for
your candidate would suddenly remember in the midst of a businesslike
talk on candidates and things that you had cut two dances with her at
the prom, and you couldn't explain that you simply had to do it because
you had to keep your stand-in with a girl on the first floor who had the
music-club vote in her pocket-book--well, I may get out over Niagara
Falls some day on a rotten old tight-rope, with a sprained ankle and a
fellow on my shoulders who is drunk and wants to make a speech, standing
up--but if I do I won't feel any more wobbly and uncertain about the
future than I used to feel on those occasions.

Of course it was entirely impossible for the few dozen college
politicians to make personal friends and supporters of all the girls in
Siwash. We didn't want to. There are girls and girls at Siwash, just as
there are everywhere else. Maybe a third of the Siwash girls were pretty
and fascinating and wise and loyal, and nine or ten other exceedingly
pleasant adjectives. And perhaps another third were--well, nice enough
to dance with at a class party and not remember it with terror. And then
there was another third which--oh, well, you know how it goes
everywhere. They were grand young women, and they were there for
educational purposes. They took prizes and learned a lot, and this was
partly because there were no swarms of bumptious young collegians
hanging around them and wasting their time. Far be it from me, Miss
Allstairs, to speak disparagingly of a single member of your sex--you
are all too good for us--but, if you will force me to admit it, there
were girls at Siwash--ex-girls--who would have made a true and loyal
student of art and beauty climb a high board--certainly, I said I wasn't
going to say anything against them, and I'm not. Anyway, it's no great
compliment to be admired for your youth and beauty alone. Age has its
claims to respect too--oh, very well; I'll change the subject.

As I was saying, we couldn't influence all the co-ed vote personally,
but we handled it very systematically. Every popular girl in the school
had her following, of course, at Browning Hall. So we just fought it out
among the popular girls. Before elections they'd line up on their
respective sides, and then they'd line up the rest of the co-ed vote. On
a close election we'd get out every vote, and we'd have it accounted
for, too, beforehand. The real precinct leaders had nothing on us. It
took a lot of time and worry; but it was all very pleasant at the end.
The popular girls would each lead over her collection of slaves of
Horace and Trig, and Counterpoint and Rhetoric, and we'd cheer politely
while they voted 'em. Then we'd take off our hats and bow low to said
slaves, and they would go back to their galleys after having done their
duty as free-born college girls, and that would be over for another
year. Everything would have continued lovely and comfortable and darned
expensive if it hadn't been for Mary Jane Hicks, of Carruthers' Corners,
Missouri.

No, I've never told you of Mary Jane Hicks. Why? The real reason is
because when we fellows of that period mention her name we usually cuss
a little in a hopeless and irritable sort of way. It's painful to think
of her. It's humiliating to think that twenty-five of the case-hardened
and time-seasoned politicians of Siwash should have been double-crossed,
checkmated, outwitted, out-generaled, sewed up into sacks and dumped
into Salt Creek by a red-headed, freckled-nosed exile from a Missouri
clay farm; and a Sophomore at that--say, what am I telling you this for,
Miss Allstairs? Honestly, it hurts. It's nice for a woman to hear, I
know, but I may have to take gas to get through this story.

[Illustration: It was a blow between the eyes
                    _Page 268_]

This Mary Jane Hicks came to Siwash the year before it all happened and
was elected to the unnoticeables on the spot. She was a dumpy little
girl, with about as much style as a cornplanter; and I suspect that she
bade her pet calf a fond good-by when she left the dear old farm to come
and play tag with knowledge on the Siwash campus. Nobody saw her in
particular the first year, except that you couldn't help noticing her
hair any more than you can help noticing a barn that's burning on a
damp, dark night. It was explosively red and she didn't seem to care.
She always had her nose turned up a little--just on principle, I guess.
And when you see a red-headed girl with a freckled nose that turns up
just locate the cyclone cellars in your immediate vicinity, say I.

Well, Mary Jane Hicks went through her Freshman year without causing any
more excitement than you could make by throwing a clamshell into the
Atlantic Ocean. She drew a couple of classy men for the class parties
and they reported that she towed unusually hard when dancing. She voted
in the various elections under the protecting care of Miss Willoughby,
who was a particular friend of mine just before the Athletic election,
and that's how I happened to meet her. I was considerably grand at that
time--being a Junior who had had a rib smashed playing football and was
going to edit the college paper the next year--but the way she looked at
me you would have thought that I was the fractional part of a peeled
cipher. She just nodded at me and said "Howdedo," and then asked if the
vest-pocket vote was being successfully extracted that day. That was
nervy of her and I frowned; after which she remarked that she objected
to voting without being told in advance that the cause of liberty was
trembling in the voter's palm. I remember wondering at the time where
she had dug up all that rot.

Miss Hicks voted at all the elections along with the rest of the herd,
and as far as I know no rude collegian came around and broke into her
studies by taking her anywhere. Commencement came and we all went home,
and I forgot all about her. The next fall was a critical time with the
Eta Bita Pie-Fly Gam-Sigh Whoopsilon combination, because we had
graduated a large number of men and we had to pull down the fall
elections with a small voting strength. So I went down to college a day
early to confer with some of the other patriotic leaders regarding
slates and other matters concerning the good of the college.

I hadn't more than stepped off the train until I met Frankling, the
president of the Alfalfa Delts, and Randolph, of the Delta Kappa
Sonofaguns, and Chickering, of the Mu Kow Moos, in close consultation.
It was very evident that they were going to do a little high-class
voting too. And before night I discovered that the Shi Delts and the
Delta Flushes and the Omega Salves had formed a coalition with the
independents, and that there was going to be more politics to the square
inch in old Siwash that year than there had been since the year of the
big wind--that's what we called the year when Maxwell was boss of the
college and swept every election with his eloquence.

There were any number of important elections coming off that fall. There
were all the class elections, of course, and the Oratorical election,
and a couple of vacancies to fill in the Athletic Association, and a
college marshal to elect, and goodness knows what all else to nail down
and tuck away before we could get down to the serious job of fighting
conditions that fall. I was so busy for the first three days, wiring up
the new students and putting through a trade on the Athletic
secretaryship with the Delta Kap gang, that I couldn't pay any attention
to the class elections. But they were pretty safe anyway. It was only
about a day's job to put through a class slate. The Junior election came
first, and we had arranged to give it to Miss Willoughby. We always
elected women presidents of the Junior class at Siwash. Little
Willoughby had a cinch because, of course, our crowd backed her
hard--and we were strong in Juniors--and, besides she had a good
following among the girls. So we just turned the whole thing over to the
girls to manage and thought no more about it, being mighty hard pressed
by the miserable and un-American bipartisan combination on the Athletic
offices.

School opened on Tuesday. The Junior class election came off on Thursday
afternoon and a Miss Hamthrick was elected president. I would have bet
on the college bell against her. It was the shockingest thing that had
happened in politics for five years. Miss Hamthrick was a conservatory
student. Even when you shut your eyes and listened to her singing she
didn't sound good-looking. Davis drew her for the Sophomore class party
the year before and exposed himself to the mumps to get out of going.
Not only was she elected president, but the rest of the offices went
to--no, I'll not describe them. I'm sort of prejudiced anyway. They made
Miss Hamthrick seem beautiful and clever by comparison.

It was a blow between the eyes. The worst of it was we couldn't
understand it. I went over to see Miss Willoughby about it, and she came
down all powdery and beautiful about the eyes and nose and talked to me
as haughtily as if I had done it myself. She said she had trusted us,
but it was evident that all a woman could hope for in politics was the
privilege of being fooled by a man. She even accused me of helping elect
the Hamthrick lady, said she wished me joy, and asked if it had been a
pretty romance. That made me tired, and I said--oh, well, no use
remembering what I said. It was the last thing I ever had a chance to
say to Miss Willoughby anyway. I was pretty miserable over
it--politically, of course, I mean, Miss Allstairs. You understand. Now
there's no use saying that. It wasn't so. College girls are all very
well, and one must be entertained while getting gorged with knowledge;
but really, when it comes to more serious things, I never--

All right, I'll go on with my story. The next day we got a harder blow
than ever. The Freshman class election came off on a snap call, and
about half the class, mostly girls, elected a lean young lady with
spectacles and a wasp-like conversation to the presidency. We raised a
storm of indignation, but they blandly told us to go hence. There was
nothing in the Constitution of the United States to prevent a woman
from being president of the Freshman class, and there didn't seem to be
any other laws on the subject. Besides, the Freshman class was a
brand-new republic and didn't need the advice of such an effete monarchy
as the Senior class. While we were talking it all over the next day the
Sophomores met, and after a terrific struggle between the Eta Bita Pies,
the Alfalfa Delts and the Shi Delts, Miss Hicks was elected president by
what Shorty Gamble was pleased to term "the gargoyle vote." I wouldn't
say that myself of any girl, but Shorty had been working for the place
for a year, and when the twenty girls who had never known what it was to
have a sassy cab rumble up to Browning Hall and wait for them cast their
votes solidly and elected the Missouri Prairie Fire he felt justified in
making comments.

By this time it was a case of save the pieces. The whole thing had been
as mysterious as the plague. We were getting mortal blows, we couldn't
tell from whom. All political signs were failing. The game was going
backward. A lot of the leaders got together and held a meeting, and some
of them were for declaring a constitutional monarchy and then losing the
constitution. My! But they were bitter. Everybody accused everybody else
of double-crossing, underhandedness, gum-shoeing, back-biting, trading,
pilfering and horse-stealing. I think there was a window or two broken
during the discussion. But we didn't get anywhere. The next day the
Senior class elected officers, and every frat went out with a knife for
its neighbor. A quiet lady by the name of Simpkins, who was one of the
finest old wartime relics in school, was elected president.

That night I began putting two and two and fractional numbers together
and called in calculus and second sight on the problem. I remembered
what the Hicks girl had said to me the year before. That was more than
the ordinary girl ought to know about politics. I remembered seeing her
doing more or less close-harmony work with the other midnight-oil
consumers--and the upshot was I went over to Browning Hall that night
and called on her.

She came down in due time--kept me waiting as long as if she had been
the belle of the prom--and she shook hands all over me.

"My dear boy," she said, sitting down on the sofa with me, "I'm so
delighted to renew our old friendship."

Now, I don't like to be "my dear boyed" by a Sophomore, and there never
had been any old friendship. I started to stiffen up--and then didn't. I
didn't because I didn't know what she would do if I did.

"How are all the other good old chaps?" she said as cordially as could
be. "My, but those were grand days."

[Illustration: "How are all the other good old chaps?" she said
                    _Page 270_]

I didn't see any terminus in that conversation. Besides, she looked
like one of those most uncomfortable girls who can guy you in such an
innocent and friendly manner that you don't know what to say back. So I
brushed the preliminaries aside and jumped right into the middle of
things. "Miss Hicks," says I, "why are you doing all this?"

"Singular or plural you?" she asked. "And why am I or are we doing what,
and why shouldn't we?"

"Help," said I, feeling that way. "Do you deny that you haven't been
instrumental in upsetting the whole college with those fool elections?"

"I am a modest young lady," said she, "so, of course, I deny it.
Besides, this college isn't upset at all. I went over this morning and
every professor was right side up with care where he belonged. And,
moreover, you must not call an election a fool because it doesn't do
what you want it to. It can't help itself."

"Miss Hicks," says I, feeling like a fly in an acre of web, "I am a
plain and simple man and not handy with my tongue. What I mean is this,
and I hope you'll excuse me for living--do you admit that you had a hand
in those class elections?"

Miss Hicks looked at me in the friendliest way possible. "It is more
modest to admit it than to declare it, isn't it?" she asked.

"Certainly," says I; "and this leads right back to question Number
One--Why did you do it?"

"And this leads back to answer Number One--Why shouldn't I?" she asked
again.

"Why, don't you see, Miss Hicks," says I, "that you've elected a lot of
girls that never have been active in college work, and that don't
represent the student body, and--"

"Don't go to the proms?" she suggested.

"I didn't say it and I'd die before I did," said I virtuously. "But
what's your object?"

"Education," said Miss Hicks mildly. "I'm paying full tuition and I want
to get all there is out of college. I think politics is a fascinating
study. I didn't get a chance to do much at it last year, but I'm
learning something about it every day now."

"But what's the good of it all?" I protested. "You'll just get the
college affairs hopelessly mixed up--"

"Like the Oratorical Association was last year?" she inquired gently.

"Oh, pshaw!" said I, getting entirely red. "Let's not get personal. What
can we do to satisfy you?"

"You've been satisfying us beautifully so far," said Miss Hicks.

"Who's us?" I asked.

"I don't in the least mind telling you," said Miss Hicks. "It's the
Blanks."

"The Blanks!" I repeated fretfully. "Never heard of 'em."

"I know it," said Miss Hicks, "but you named them yourselves. What do
you say you've drawn when you draw a homely girl's name out of the hat
as a partner for a class party?"

"Oh!" said I.

"We're the Blanks," said Miss Hicks, "and we feel that we haven't been
getting our full share of college atmosphere. So we're going into
politics. In this way we can mingle with the students and help run
things and have a very enjoyable time. It's most fascinating. All of us
are dippy over it."

"Oh," said I again. "You mean you're going to ruin things for your own
selfish interests?"

"My dear boy," said Miss Hicks--my, but that grated--"we're not going to
ruin anything. And we may build up the Oratorical Association."

That was too much. I got up and stood as nearly ten feet as I could.
"Very well," said I. "If there's no use of arguing on a reasonable basis
we may as well terminate this interview. But I'll just tell you there's
no use of your going any further. Now we know what we have to fight,
we'll take precious good care that you do not do any more mischief."

"Oh, very well," said Miss Hicks--she was infuriatingly
good-natured--"but I might as well tell you that we're going to get the
Athletic offices, the prom committee, the Oratorical offices and the
Athletic election next spring."

"Ha, ha!" said I loudly and rudely. Then I took my hat and went away.
Miss Hicks asked me very eagerly to drop in again. Me? I'd as soon have
dropped on a Mexican cactus. It couldn't be any more uncomfortable.

I went away and called our gang together and we seethed over the
situation most all night. They voted me campaign leader on the strength
of my service, and the next day we got the rest of the frats together,
buried the hatchet and doped out the campaign. It was the pride and
strength of Siwash against a red-headed Missouri girl, weight about
ninety-five pounds; and we couldn't help feeling sorry for her. But she
had brought it on herself. Insurgency, Miss Allstairs, is a very wicked
thing. It's a despicable attempt on the part of the minority to become
the majority, and no true patriot will desert the majority in his time
of need.

I'm not going to linger over the next month. I'll get it over in a few
words. We started out to exterminate Miss Hicks. We put up our candidate
for the Oratorical Association presidency. The hall was jammed when the
time came, and before anything could be done Miss Hicks demanded that no
one be allowed to vote who hadn't paid his or her dues. Half the fellows
we had there never had any intention of getting that far into Oratorical
work, and backed out; but the rest of us paid up. There had never been
so much money in the treasury since the association began. Then the
Blanks nominated a candidate and skinned us by three votes. When we
thought of all that money gone to waste we almost went crazy.

But that was just a starter. We were determined to have our own way
about the Junior prom. What do wall-flowers know about running a prom?
We worked up an absolute majority in the Junior class, only to have a
snap meeting called on us over in Browning Hall, in which three
middle-aged young ladies who had never danced a step were named. The
roar we raised was terrific, but the president sweetly informed us that
they had only followed precedent--we'd had to do the same thing the year
before to keep out the Mu Kow Moos. We appealed to the Faculty, and it
laughed at us. Unfortunately, we didn't stand any too well there anyway,
while most of the Blanks were the pride and joy of the professors.
Anyway, they told us to fight our own battles and they'd see that there
was fair play. Oh, yes. They saw it. They passed a rule that no student
who was conditioned in any study could vote in any college election.
That disenfranchised about half of us right on the spot. If ever anarchy
breaks out in this country, Miss Allstairs, it will be because of
college Faculties.

We made a last stand on the Athletic Association treasurership. It
looked for a while as if it was going to be easy. We threw all the rules
away and gave a magnificent party for all the girls we thought we could
count on. It was the most gorgeous affair on record, and half the dress
suits in college went into hock afterward for the whole semester. The
result was most encouraging. The girls were delighted. They pledged
their votes and support and we counted up that we had a clear majority.
We went to bed that night happy and woke up to find that Miss Hicks had
entertained the non-fraternity men in the gymnasium that night and had
served lemonade and wafers. She had alluded to them playfully as slaves,
and they had broken up about fifty chairs demonstrating that they were
not. When the election came off she had the unattached vote solid, and
we lost out by a comfortable majority. An estimable lady, who didn't
know athletics from croquet, was elected. And when the reception
committee of the prom was announced the next day it was composed
exclusively of men who would have had to be led through the grand march
on wheels.

After that we gave up. I tried to resign as campaign manager, but the
boys wouldn't let me. They admitted that no one else could have done any
better, and, besides, they wanted me to go over and see Miss Hicks
again. They wanted me to ask her what her crowd wanted. When I thought
of her pleasant conversational hatpin work I felt like resigning from
college; but there always have to be martyrs, and in the end I went.

Miss Hicks received me rapturously. You would have thought we had been
boy and girl friends. She insisted on asking how all the folks were at
home, and how my health had been, and hadn't it been a gay winter, and
was I going to the prom, and how did I like her new gown? While I was at
it I thought I might as well amuse myself, too, so I asked her to marry
me. That was the only time I ever got ahead of her. She refused
indignantly, and I laughed at her for getting so fussed up over a little
thing.

"Marriage is a sacred subject," she said very soberly.

"So was politics," said I, "until you came along. If you won't talk
marriage let's talk politics. What do you girls want?"

"Oh, I told you a while ago," she said.

"But, Great Scott!" said I. "Aren't you going to leave a thing for us
fellows who have done our best for the college?"

"Now you put it that way," she said quite kindly, "I'll think it over.
We might find something for you to do. There's a couple of janitorships
loose."

"Hicksey," says I.

"Miss Hicks," says she.

"I beg your pardon--my dear girl, then," said I. "I've come over to the
bunch to confess. You've busted us. We're on the mat nine points down
and yelling for help. We don't want to run things. We only want to be
allowed to live. We surrender. We give up. We humbly ask that you
prepare the crow and let us eat the neck. Isn't there any way by which
we can get a little something to keep us busy and happy? We're in a
horrible situation. Aren't you even going to let us have the Athletic
Association next spring?"

"I was thinking of running that myself," said Miss Hicks thoughtfully.

I let out an impolite groan.

"But I'll tell you what you might do," said Miss Hicks. "You boys might
try to win my crowd away from me. You see, you've played right into my
hand so far. You haven't paid any attention to my supporters. Now, if
you were to go after them the way you do the other girls in the college
I shudder to think what might happen to me."

"You mean take them to parties and theaters?"

"Why not?" asked Miss Hicks. "You see, they're only human. I'll bet you
could land every vote in the bunch if you went at it scientifically."

"But--"

"Oh, I know they're not pretty," said Miss Hicks. "But they cast the
most bee-you-ti-ful votes you ever saw."

"What you mean," I said, "is that if we don't show those girls a
superlatively good time this winter we won't get a look at the election
next spring?"

"They'd be awfully shocked if you put it that way," said Miss Hicks;
"and I wouldn't advise you to talk to them about it. Their notions of
honor are so high that I had to pay for the lemonade for the independent
men myself at the last election."

"Oh, very well," says I, taking my hat, "we'll think it over."

"You might wear blinders, you know," she suggested.

"Oh, go to thunder!" said I as earnestly as I could.

"Come again," she said when she closed the door after me. "I do so enjoy
these little confidences."

Honestly, Miss Allstairs, when I think of that girl I shrink up until
I'm afraid I'll fall into my own hat. It ought not to be legal for a
girl to talk to a man like that. It's inhuman.

We thought matters over for two weeks and tried one or two little raids
on the enemy with most horrible results to ourselves. Then we gave in.
We put our pride and our devotion to art in cold storage and took up the
politicians' burden. We gave those girls the time of their
young-to-middle-aged lives. We got up dances and crokinole parties and
concerts for them. We took them to see Hamlet. We had sleighing parties.
We helped every lecture course in the college do a rushing business. We
just backed into the shafts and took the bit without a murmur. And maybe
you think those girls didn't drive us. They seemed determined to make up
for the drought of all the past. They were as coy and uncertain and as
infernally hard to please as if they'd been used to getting one proposal
a day and two on Sunday. Let one of us so much as drop over to Browning
Hall to pass the time of day with one of the real heart-disturbers, and
the particular vote that he was courting would go off the reservation
for a week. It would take a pair of theater tickets at the least to
square things.

We gave dances that winter at which only one in five girls could dance.
We took moonlight strolls with ladies who could remember the moon of
seventy-six, and we gave strawrides to girls who insisted on talking
history of art and missionary work to us all the way. When I think of
the tons of candy and the mountains of flowers and the wagonloads of
latest books that we lavished, and of the hard feelings it made in other
quarters, and of our loneliness amid all this gayety, and of our frantic
efforts to make the prom a success, with ten couples dancing and the
rest decorating the walls, I sometimes wonder whether the college was
worth our great love for it after all.

But we were winning out. By April it was easy to see this. The Blanks
thawed with the snow-drifts. They got real friendly and sociable, and
after the warm weather came on we simply had to entertain them all the
time, they liked it so. When I think of those beautiful spring days,
with us sauntering with our political fates about the campus, and the
nicest girls in the world walking two and two all by themselves--Oh,
gee! Why, they even made us cut chapel to go walking with them, just as
if it was a genuine case of "Oh, those eyes!" and "Shut up, you thumping
heart."

[Illustration: Why, they even made us cut chapel to go walking with them
                    _Page 280_]

All this time Miss Hicks wouldn't accept any invitation at all. She just
flocked by herself as usual, and watched us taking her votes away from
her without any concern apparently. I always felt that she had something
saved up for us, but I couldn't tell what it was; and anyway, we had
those votes. By the time the Athletic election came around there wasn't
a doubt of it.

I must say the women did pretty well during the year. They'd cleaned up
the Oratorical debt, and somehow there was about three times as much
money in the Athletic treasury after the football season as there had
ever been before. But they'd raised a lot of trouble too. No passes.
Dues had to be paid up. Nobody got any fun out of the class affairs.
They got up lectures and teas and made the class pay for them. And,
anyway, we wanted to run things again. We'd felt all year like a bunch
of last year's sunflowers. Besides, we'd earned it. We'd earned a starry
crown as a matter of fact, but all we asked was that they give our
little old Athletic Association back and let us run it once more.

Miss Hicks announced herself as a candidate, and we felt sorry for her.
Not one of her gang was with her. They were enthusiastically for us.
We'd planned the biggest party of the year right after the election in
celebration, and had invited them already. Election day came and we
hardly worried a bit. The result was 189 to 197 in favor of Miss Hicks.
Every independent man and every bang-up-to-date girl in college voted
for her.

Of course it looks simple enough now, but why couldn't we see it then?
We supposed the real girls knew that it was a case of college
patriotism. And, of course, it was a low-lived trick for Miss Hicks to
float around the last day and spread the impression that we'd never
loved them except for their votes. She simply traded constituencies with
us, that's all. Take it coming or going, year in or year out, you
couldn't beat that girl. I'll bet she goes out to Washington state and
gets elected governor some day.

I went over to Browning Hall the night after the election, ready to tell
Miss Hicks just what everybody thought of her. I was prepared to tell
her that every athletic team in college was going to disband and that
anarchy would be declared in the morning. She came down as pleasant as
ever and held out her hand.

"Don't say it, please," she said, "because I'm going to tell you
something. I'm not coming back next year."

"Not coming back!" said I, gulping down a piece of relief as big as an
apple.

"No," she said, "I'm--I'm going to be married this summer. I've--I've
been engaged all this year to a man back home, but I wanted to come back
and learn something about politics. He's a lawyer."

"Well, you learned enough to suit you, didn't you?" I asked.

"Oh, yes," she said with a giggle. "Wasn't it fun, though! My father
will be so pleased. He's the chairman of the congressional committee out
at home and he's always told me an awful lot about politics. I've
enjoyed this year so much."

"Well, I haven't," I said; "but I hope to enjoy next year." And then I
took half an hour to tell her that, in spite of the fact that she was
the most arrant, deceitful, unreliable, two-faced and scuttling
politician in the world, she was almost incredibly nice. She listened
quite patiently, and at the end she held up her fingers. They'd been
crossed all the time.

No, that's the last I ever saw of her, Miss Allstairs. She left before
Commencement. She sent me an invitation to the wedding. I'll bet she
didn't quite get the significance of the magnificent silver set we
Siwash boys sent. We sent it to the groom.

That was the end of women dominion at Siwash. There wasn't a rag of the
movement left next fall. But we boys never entirely forgot what happened
to us, and it's still the custom to elect a co-ed to some Athletic
office. They do say that the only way to teach a politician what the
people want is to bore a shaft in his head and shout it in, but our
experience ought to be proof to the contrary. Why, all we needed was the
gentle little hint that Mary Jane Hicks gave us.



CHAPTER XI

SIC TRANSIT GLORIA ALL-AMERICA


How did the Siwash game come out Saturday? Forget it, my boy. You'll
never know in this oversized, ingrowing, fenced-off, insulated
metropolis till some one writes and tells you. Every fall I ask myself
that same question all day Saturday and Sunday, and do you suppose I
ever find a Siwash score in one of those muddy-faced, red-headed,
ward-gossip parties that they call newspapers in New York? Never, not at
all, you hopeful tenderfoot from the unimportant West. After you've
existed in this secluded portion of the universe a few years you'll get
over trying to find anything that looks like news from home in the daily
disturbances here. And I don't care whether your home is in Buffalo,
Chicago or Strawberry Point, Iowa, either. Go down on the East Side and
beat up a policeman, and you'll get immortalized in ten-inch type. Go
back West and get elected governor, and ten to one if you're mentioned
at all they'll slip you the wrong state to preside over.

Excuse me, but I'm considerably sore, just as I am every Sunday during
the football season. Here I am, eating my heart out with longing to know
whether good old Siwash has dusted off half a township with
Muggledorfer again, and what do I get to read? Four yards of Gale; five
yards of Jarhard; two yards of Ohell; and a page of Quincetown,
Hardmouth, Jamhurst, Saint Mikes, Holy Moses College and the Connecticut
Institute of Etymology. Nice fodder for a loyal alumnus eleven hundred
and then some miles from home, isn't it? Honest, when I first hit this
seething burg I used to go down to the Grand Central station on Sunday
afternoon and look at the people coming in from the trains, just because
some of them were from the West. Once I took a New Yorker up to
Riverside Park, pointed him west and asked him what he saw. He said he
saw a ferryboat coming to New York. That was all he had ever seen of the
other shore. He called it Hinterland. That made me mad and I called him
an electric-light bug. We had a lovely row.

But we're blasting out a corner for the old coll., even back here. We've
got things fixed pretty nicely here now, we Siwash men. Down near
Gramercy Park there's an old-fashioned city dwelling house, four stories
high and elbow-room wide. It's the Siwash Alumni Club. There are half a
hundred Siwash men in New York, gradually getting into the king row in
various lines of business, and we pay enough rent each year for that
house to buy a pretty fair little cottage out in Jonesville. Whenever a
Siwash man drops in there he's pretty sure to find another Siwash man
who smokes the same brand of tobacco and knows the same brand of
college songs. We've got one legislator, four magazine publishers, two
railroad officials, a city prosecutor and three bankers on the
membership roll, and maybe some day we'll have a mayor. Then we'll pass
a law requiring the boys and girls of New York to spend at least one
hour a day learning about Siwash College, Jonesville, the big team of
naughty-nix and the formula for getting credit at the Horseshoe Café.
We'll make it obligatory for every newspaper to publish a full page
about each Siwash game in the fall, with pictures of the captain, the
coach and the fullback's right leg. Hurrah for revenge! I see it coming.

Join the club? Why, you don't have to ask to join it. You've got to join
it. Ten dollars, please, and sign here. When we get a little huskier
financially we won't charge new-fledged graduates anything for a year or
two, but we've got to now. The soulless landlord wants his rent in
advance. You'll find the whole gang there Saturday nights. Just butt
right in if I'm not around. You're a Siwash man, and if you want to
borrow the doorknob to throw at a hackman you've a perfect right to do
it.

I'll tell you, old man, you don't know how nice it is to have a hole
that you can hunt in this hurricane town, when you're a bright young
chap with a glorious college past and a business future that you can't
hock for a plate of beans a day! Leaving college and going into business
in a big city is like taking a high dive from the hall of fame into an
ice-water tank. Think of that and be cheerful. You've got a nice time
coming. Just now you're Rudolph Weedon Burlingame, Siwash
Naughty-several, late captain of the baseball team, prize orator,
manager of two proms and president of the Senior class. To-morrow you'll
be a nameless cumberer of busy streets, useful only to the street-car
companies to shake down for nickels. To-morrow you're going around to
the manager of some firm or other with a letter from some customer of
his, and you're going to put your hand on your college diploma so as to
have it handy, and you're going to hand him the letter and prepare to
tell the story of your strong young life. But just before you begin
you'll go away, because the manager will tell you he's sorry, but he's
busy, and there are fourteen applicants ahead of you, and anyway he'll
not be hiring any more men until 1918, and will you please come around
then, and shut the door behind you, if you don't mind.

Yep, that's what will happen to you. You'll spend your first three days
trying to haul that diploma out. The fourth day you'll put it in your
trunk. I've known men to cut 'em up for shaving paper. You'll stop
trying to tell the story of your life and in about a week you'll be
wondering why you have been allowed to live so long. In two weeks a
clerk will look as big as a senator to you and you'll begin to get
bashful before elevator men. You'll get off the sidewalk when you see a
man who looks as if he had a job and was in a hurry. You'll envy a
messenger boy with a job and a future; you'll wonder if managers are
really carnivorous or only pretend to be. You feel as tall as the Singer
Building to-day, but you'll shrink before long. You'll shrink until,
after a long, hard day, with about nine turndowns in it, you'll have to
climb up on top of the dresser to look at yourself in the glass.

That's what you're going up against. Then the Siwash Club will be your
hole and you'll hunt it every evening. You'll be a big man there, for we
judge our members not by what they are, but by what they were at school.
You'll sit around with the boys after dinner, and the man on your right,
who is running a railroad, will be interested in that home run you made
against Muggledorfer, and the man on your left, who won't touch a law
case for less than five thousand dollars, will tell you that he, too,
won the Perkins debate once. And he'll treat you as if you were a real
life-sized human being instead of a job hunter, knee high to a copying
clerk. You'll be back in the old college atmosphere, as big as the best
of 'em, and after you've swapped yarns all evening you'll go to bed full
of tabasco and pepper and you'll tackle the first manager the next
morning as if he were a Kiowa man and had the ball. And sooner or later
you'll get old Mr. Opportunity where he can't give you the straight arm,
and if you don't put a knee in his chest and tame him for life you
haven't got the real Siwash spirit, that's all.

Funny thing about college. It isn't merely an education. It's a whole
life in itself. You enter it unknown and tiny--just a Freshman with no
rights on earth. You work and toil and suffer--and fall in love--and
climb and rise to fame. When you are a Senior, if you have good luck,
you are one of the biggest things in the whole world--for there isn't
any world but the campus at college. Freshmen look up to you and admire
men who are big enough to talk with you. The Sophomores may sneer at
faculties and kings, but they wouldn't think of sassing you. The papers
publish your picture in your football clothes. You dine with the
professors, and prominent alumni come back and shake you by the hand. Of
course, you know that somewhere in the dim nebulous outside there is a
President of the United States who is quite a party in his way, but none
of the girls mention it when they tell you how grand you looked after
they had hauled the other team off of you and sewed on your ear. They
talk about you exclusively because you're really the only thing worth
talking about, you know.

When Commencement comes you move about the campus like some tall
mountain peak on legs. The students bring their young brothers up to
meet you and you try to be kind and approachable. They give you a
tremendous cheer when you go down the aisle in the chapel to get your
prizes. You are referred to on all sides as one of the reasons why
America is great. The professors when they bid you good-by ask you
anxiously not to forget them. Then Commencement is over and college life
is past, and there is nothing left in life but to become a senator or
run a darned old trust. You leave the campus, taking care not to step on
any of the buildings, and go out into the world pretty blue because
you're through with about everything worth while; and you wonder if you
can stand it to toil away making history eleven months in the year with
only time to hang around college a few weeks in spring or fall. You're
done with the real life. You're an old man, you've seen it all; and it
sometimes takes you two weeks or more to recover and decide that after
all a great career may be almost as interesting in a way as college
itself. So you buck up and decide to accept the career--and that's where
you begin to catch on to the general drift of the universe in dead
earnest.

Take a man of sixty, with a permanent place in Who's Who and a large
circle of people who believe that he has some influence with the sunrise
and sunset. Then let him suddenly find himself a ten-year-old boy with
two empty pockets and an appetite for assets, and let him learn that it
isn't considered even an impertinence to spank him whenever he tries to
mix in and air his opinions. I don't believe he would be much more
shocked than the college man who finds, at the conclusion of a glorious
four-year slosh in fame, that he is really just about to begin life, and
that the first thing he must learn is to keep out from under foot and
say "Yes, sir," when the boss barks at him. It's a painful thing,
Burlingame. Took me about a year to think of it without saying "ouch."

The saddest thing about it all is that the two careers don't always
mesh. The college athlete may discover that the only use the world has
for talented shoulder muscles is for hod-carrying purposes. The society
fashion plate may never get the hang of how to earn anything but last
year's model pants; and the fishy-eyed nonentity, who never did anything
more glorious in college than pay his class tax, may be doing a
brokerage business in skyscrapers within ten years.

When I left Siwash and came to New York I guess I was as big as the next
graduate. Of course I hadn't been the one best bet on the campus, but I
knew all the college celebrities well enough to slap them on the backs
and call them by pet names and lend them money. That of course should be
a great assistance in knowing just how to approach the president of a
big city bank and touch him for a cigar in a red-and-gold corset, while
he is telling you to make yourself at home around the place until a job
turns up. Allie Bangs, my chum, went on East with me. We had decided to
rise side by side and to buy the same make of yachts. Of course we were
sensible. We didn't expect to crowd out any magnates the first week or
two. We intended to rise by honest worth, if it took a whole year. All
we asked was that the fellows ahead should take care of themselves and
not hold it against us if we ran over them from behind. We didn't think
we were the biggest men on earth--not yet. That's where we fell down.
We've never had a chance to since. You've got to seize the opportunity
for having a swelled head just as you have for everything else.

It took us just six weeks to get a toe-hold on the earth and establish
our right to breathe our fair share of New York air. At the end of that
time neither one of us would have been surprised if we had been charged
rent while waiting in the ante-rooms of New York offices to be told that
no one had time to tell us that there was no use of our waiting to get a
chance to ask for anything. Talk about a come-down! It was worse than
coming down a bump-the-bumps with nails in it. It was three months
before we got jobs. They were microscopic jobs in the same company, with
wages that were so small that it seemed a shame to make out our weekly
checks on nice engraved bank paper--jobs where any one from the
proprietor down could yell "Here, you!" and the office boy could have
fired us and got away with it. If I had been hanging on to a rope
trailing behind a fifty-thousand-ton ocean liner I don't believe I
should have felt more inconsequential and totally superfluous.

But they were jobs just the same and we were game. I think most college
graduates are after they get their feelings reduced to normal size. We
hung on and dug in, and sneaked more work into our positions, and
didn't quarrel with any one except the window-washer's little boy who
brought meat for the cats in the basement. We drew the line at letting
him boss us. And how we did enjoy being part of the big rumpus on
Manhattan Island. We had a room--it wasn't so much of a room as it was a
sort of stationary vest--and we ate at those hunger cures where a girl
punches out your bill on a little ticket and you don't dare eat up above
the third figure from the bottom or you'll go broke on Friday. By hook
or crook we always managed to save a dollar from the wreckage each week
for Sunday, and say, did you ever conduct a scientific investigation
into just how far a dollar will go providing a day's pleasure in a big
city? We did that for six months, and if I do say it myself we stretched
some of those dollars until the eagle's neck reached from Tarrytown to
Coney Island. We saw New York from roof garden to sub-cellar. We even
got to doing fancy stunts. We'd dig out our dress suits, go over to one
of those cafés where you begin owing money as soon as you see the head
waiter, and put on a bored and haughty front for two hours on a dollar
and twenty cents, including tips. And what we didn't know about the
Subway, the Snubway and the Grubway, the Clubway, and the various
Dubways of New York wasn't worth discovering or even imagining.

We hadn't been conducting our explorations for more than a week when a
most tremendous thing happened to us. You know how you are always
running up against mastodons in the big town. You see about every one
who is big enough to die in scare-heads. Taking a stroll down Fifth
Avenue with an old residenter and having him tell about the people you
pass is like having the hall of fame directory read off to you. Well,
one Sunday night when we were blowing in our little fifty cents apiece
on one of those Italian table d'hôte dinners with red varnish free,
Allie looked across the room and began to tremble. "Look at that chap,"
says he.

"Who is he?" I asked, getting interested. "Roosevelt?"

"Roosevelt nothing," he says scornfully. "Man alive, that's Jarvis!"

I just dropped my jaw and stared. Of course you remember Jarvis, the
great football player. At that time I guess most of the college boys in
America said their prayers to him. Out West we students used to read of
his terrific line plunges on the eastern fields and of his titanic
defense when his team was hard pushed, and wonder if any of us would
ever become great enough to meet him and shake him by the hand. What did
we care for the achievements of Achilles and Hector and Hercules and
other eminent hasbeens, which we had to soak up at the rate of forty
lines of Greek a day? They had old Homer to write them up--the best man
ever in the business. But they were too tame for us. I've caught myself
speculating more than once on what Achilles would have done if Jarvis
had tried to make a gain through him. Achilles was probably a pretty
good spear artist, and all that, but if Jarvis had put his
leather-helmeted head down and hit the line low--about two points south
of the solar plexus--they would have carted Ac. away in a cab right
there, invulnerability and all.

That's about what we thought of Jarvis. We had his pictures pasted all
over our training quarters along with those of the other
super-dreadnoughts from the colleges that break into literature, and I
imagine that if he had suddenly appeared back in Jonesville we should
have put our heads right down and kow-towed until he gave us permission
to get up. And here we were, sitting in the same café with him. I'll
tell you, I had never felt the glory of living in the metropolis and
prowling around the ankles of the big chiefs more vividly than right
there in that room the night we first saw him.

We sat and watched Jarvis while our meat course got cold. There was no
mistaking him--some people have their looks copyrighted and Jarvis was
one of them. We would have known it was he if we had seen him in a Roman
mob. After a while Bangs, who always did have a triple reënforced
Harveyized steel cheek, straightened up. "I'm going over to speak to
him," he said.

"Sit still, you fool," says I; "don't annoy him."

"Watch me," says Bangs; "I'm going over to introduce myself. He can't
any more than freeze me. And after I've spoken to him they can take my
little old job away from me and ship me back to the hayfields whenever
they please. I'll be satisfied."

"You ought to bottle that nerve of yours and sell it to the
lightning-rod pedlers," says I, getting all sweaty. "Just because you
introduced yourself to a governor once you think you can go as far as
you like. You stay right here--" But Bangs had gone over to Jarvis.

I sat there and blushed for him, and suffered the tortures of a man who
is watching his friend making a furry-eared nuisance of himself. There
was the greatest football player in the world being pestered by a
frying-sized sprig of a ninth assistant shipping clerk. It was
preposterous. I waited to see Bangs wilt and come slinking back. Then I
was going to put on my hat and walk out as if I didn't belong with him
at all. But instead of that Bangs shook hands with Jarvis, talked a
minute and then sat down with him. When Bangs is routed out by the Angel
Gabriel he'll sit down on the edge of his grave and delay the whole
procession, trying to find a mutual acquaintance or two. That's the kind
of a leather-skin he is.

Presently Bangs turned around and beckoned to me to come over. More
colossal impudence. I wasn't going to do it, but Jarvis turned, too, and
smiled at me. Like a hypnotized man I went over to their table. "I want
you to meet Mr. Jarvis," said Bangs, with the air of a man who is giving
away his aeroplane to a personal friend.

"Glad to meet you," said Jarvis kindly.

"M-m-m-mrugh," says I easily and naturally. Then I sat down on the edge
of a chair.

Well, sir, Jarvis--it was the real Jarvis all right--was as pleasant a
fellow as you would ever care to meet. There he was talking away to us
fishworms just as cordially as if he enjoyed it. He didn't seem to be a
bit better than we were. I've often noticed that when you meet the very
greatest people they are that way. It's only the fellows who aren't sure
they're great and who are pretty sure you aren't sure either, who have
to put up a haughty front. Jarvis offered us cigarettes and put us so
much at our ease that we stayed there an hour. It was a dazzling
experience. He told us a lot about the city, and asked us about
ourselves and laughed at our experiences. And he told us that he often
dined there and hoped to see us again. When we got safely outside, after
having bade him good-by without any sort of a break, I mopped my
forehead. Then I took off my hat. "Bangs," said I, "you're the world's
champion. Some day you'll get killed for impudence in the first degree,
but just now I've got ten cents and I'm going to buy you a big cigar and
walk home to pay for it."

Incredible as it may sound, that was the beginning of a real friendship
between the three of us. Jarvis seemed to take a positive pleasure in
being democratic. And he was wonderfully thoughtful, too. He realized
instinctively that we had about nine cents apiece in our clothes as a
rule, and he didn't offer to be gorgeous and buy things we couldn't buy
back. We got to dropping in at the café once a week or so and eating at
the same table with him. Why on earth he fancied eating around with
grubs like us, when he could have been tucking away classy fare up on
Fifth Avenue, we couldn't imagine. Some people are naturally Bohemian,
however. It seemed to delight Jarvis to hear us tell about our team, and
our college, and our prospects, and how lucky we had been up to date,
not getting stepped on by any financial magnate or other tall city
monument. He wasn't a talkative man himself. It was especially hard to
pry any football talk out of him, probably because he was so modest.
When we insisted he would finally open up, and tell us the inside facts
about some great college game that we knew by heart from the newspaper
accounts. And he would mention all the famous players by their first
names--you can't imagine how much more alarming it sounded than calling
a president "Teddy"--and we would just sit there and drink it in, and
watch history from behind the scenes until suddenly he would stop, look
absent and shut up like a clam. No use trying to turn him on again.
Presently he would bid us good night and go away. The first time we
thought we had offended him and we were miserable for a week. But when
we ran across him again he seemed as pleased as ever to see us. It was
just moods, after all, we finally decided, and thought no more about
it. Great men have a right to have moods if they want to. We admired his
moods as much as the rest of him, and were only glad they weren't
violent.

It was a couple of months before we got up courage enough to ask him to
drop in at our room. Even Allie got timid. He explained that he didn't
want to break the spell. But finally I braced up myself and invited him
to drop around with us, and he consented as kindly as you please. Came
right up to our little three by twice and wouldn't even sit in the one
chair. Sat on the bed and looked over our college pictures, and chatted
until Allie asked him if he was going back for the big game that fall.
Then he said sort of abruptly that he couldn't get away, and a few
minutes afterward he went home. We thought we'd offended him again, but
a week afterward he turned up and called on us--we'd asked him to drop
in any time. We decided that he didn't like to have too much familiarity
about his football career and we respected him for it. It's all right
for a man like that to be affable and democratic, but he mustn't let you
crawl all over him. He's got his dignity to maintain.

As the winter came on Jarvis dropped up to see us quite frequently. He
never asked us to come and see him and we were really a little
grateful--for I don't believe I should have had the nerve to go bouncing
into the apartments of a national hero and hobnob with the mile-a-minute
class. Anyway we didn't expect it or dream of it. And we didn't ask him
any more questions about himself. We didn't care to try to elbow into
his circle. If he chose to come slumming and sit around with us, we were
more than content. We had seen enough of him already to keep us busy
paralyzing Siwash fellows for a week when we went back to Commencement.
"Jarvis? Oh, yes. Fact is, he's a friend of ours. Comes up to our rooms
right along. We happened to meet him in a café. And say, he tells us
that when he made that fifty-yard run--and so on." We used to practise
saying things like this naturally and easily. We could just see the
undergrads at the frat house sitting around in circles and lapping it
up.

All this time we were plugging away down at the plant, early and late,
with every ounce of steam we had. There's one good thing about business
in this Bedlam--when you break in you keep right on going. By the time
Commencement rolled around we were getting checks with two figures on
them, and had a better job treed and ready to drop. Ask for a vacation?
Why, we wouldn't have asked for four days off to go home and help bury
our worst enemy. That's what business does to the dear old college days
when it gets a good bite at them. There we were, one year out of Siwash,
breaking forty-five reunion dates, and never even sitting around with
our heads in our hands over it. This business bug is a bad, bad biter
all right. Just let it get its tooth into you, and what do you care if
some other fellow is smoking your two-quart pipe back in the old chapter
house? And for that matter, what do you care about anything else until
you get up far enough to take breath and look around? Sometimes, after a
couple of weeks of extra hard work, I've taken my mind off invoices long
enough to wag it around a bit and I've felt like a swimmer coming up
after a long dive.

We landed those promotions in July and went right after another pair. I
got mine in August--Allie in September. And along in December they
called us both up in the office, where the big crash was. He said nice
things to us about getting a chance to fire our own chauffeurs if we
kept on tending to business, and first thing we knew we had offices of
our own in the back of the building, with our names painted on the
doors, and call-bells that brought stenographers and the same old brand
of office boys that used to blow us out of the other offices along with
their cigarette smoke. And we realized then that if we worked like
thunder for thirty years more and saved our money and made it earn one
hundred per cent, perhaps some of the real business kings would notice
us on the street some day. That's about the way the college swelling
goes down.

All this time we hadn't seen much of Jarvis. He'd stopped coming to the
café and we'd really been so busy that we almost forgot about him. It's
simply wonderful the things business will drive out of your mind. It
wasn't until late in the winter that we realized that we'd probably lost
track of Jarvis for good--that is, until we climbed up into his set and
discovered him at some dinner that was a page out of the social
register. We mixed around a lot more now. We went to the
million-candle-power restaurants every now and then, and ate a good deal
more than sixty-five cents' worth apiece without batting an eye; and we
went to see a play occasionally and didn't climb up into the rarefied
atmosphere to find our seats, either. And whenever we broke in with the
limousine crowd we kept a bright lookout for Jarvis. We wanted to see
him and show him that we were coming along. We wanted him to be proud of
us. I'd have given all my small bank balance to hear him say: "Fine
work, old man; keep it up." I'll tell you when a big chap like that
takes an interest in you, it's just as bracing as a hypodermic of
ginger. Baccalaureates and inspirational editorials can't touch it.

I was holding down the proud position of shipping clerk and Allie was my
assistant the next spring, and it seemed as if we had to empty that
warehouse every twenty-four hours and find the men to load the stuff
with search-warrants. Help was scandalously scarce. We couldn't have
worked harder if we had been standing off grizzly bears with brickbats.
I'd just fired the fourth loafer in one day for trying to roll barrels
by mental suggestion, when the boss came into my office.

"Can you use an extra man?" he asked me.

"Use him?" says I, swabbing off my forehead--I'd been hustling a few
barrels myself. "Use him? Say, I'll give him a whole car to load all by
himself, and if he can get the job finished by yesterday he can have
another to load for to-day."

"Now, see here," said the boss, sitting down; "this is a peculiar case.
This chap's been at me for a job for months. There's nothing in the
office. He's a fine fellow and well educated, but he's on his uppers. He
can't seem to land anywhere. I'm sorry for him. He looks as if he was
headed for the bread line. He's too good to roll barrels, but it won't
hurt him. If you'll take him in and use him I'll give him a place as
soon as I get it; let me know how he pans out."

"Just ask him to run all the way here," I said, and put my nose down in
a bill of lading. After a while the door opened and some one said, "Is
this the shipping clerk?" It was the ghost of a voice I used to know and
I turned around in a hurry. It was Jarvis.

I don't suppose it is strictly business to cry while you are shaking
hands with a husky you're just putting into harness at one-fifty per. I
didn't intend to do it, but somehow when your whole conception of fame
and glory comes clattering down about your ears, and you find you've got
to order your star and idol to get a hustle on him and load the car at
door four damquick, you are likely to do something foolish. I just
stood and sniveled and let my mouth hang open. Neither of us said a
word, but presently I put my arm around his shoulders and led him out
into the shipping room. "There's the foreman," I said, in a voice like a
wet sponge. "And you report here at six o'clock sharp." Then I went and
hunted up Allie and for once we let business go hang in business hours.
We couldn't work. We kept clawing for the solid ground and trying to
readjust society and the universe and the beacon lights of progress all
afternoon.

When quitting time came we waited for Jarvis. We didn't say anything,
but we loaded him into a cab and took him up to the old café. Then he
told us his story, while we learned a lot of things about glory we
hadn't even vaguely suspected before. He was one of the greatest
football players who ever carried a ball, Jarvis was. Of that there was
no doubt. He admitted it himself then. I might say he confessed it. He'd
come to his university without any real preparation--you know even in
the best regulated institutions of learning they sometimes get your
marks on tackling mixed with your grades on entrance algebra. He'd spent
two hours a day on football and the rest of his time being a college
hero. He'd had to work at it like a dog, he said. How he got by the
exams, he never knew. It seemed to him as if he must have studied in his
sleep. By the time he graduated he'd had about every honor that has been
invented for campus consumption. He belonged to the exclusive
societies. All kinds of big people had shaken hands with him--asked for
the privilege. He had a scrapbook of newspaper stories about his career
that weighed four pounds. He knew the differences between eight kinds of
wine by the taste and he had a perfect education in forkology,
waltzology, necktiematics, and all the other branches of social science.

He would never forget, he said, how he felt when he was graduated and
the university moved off behind him and left him alone. It was up to him
to keep on being a famous character, he felt. His college demanded it.
He had to make good. But there he was with a magnificent football
education and no more football to play. His financial training consisted
in knowing when his bank account was overdrawn. His folks had pretty
nearly paralyzed themselves putting him through and he wasn't going to
draw on them any further. He went to New York because it seemed to be
almost as big as the university, and he started all alone on the job of
shouldering his way past the captains of finance up to the place where
his college mates might feel proud of him some more.

The result was so ridiculous that he had to laugh at it himself. He lost
five yards every time he bucked an office boy. His college friends kept
inviting him out and he went until they began offering him help. Then he
cut the whole bunch. He didn't care to have them watch the struggle.
He'd been in New York two years when he met us, he said, and he hadn't
earned enough money to pay his room-rent in that time. There were times
when he might have got a decent little job at twelve dollars per, or so,
but he would have had to meet the boys who had looked up to him as a
world-beater and somehow he just couldn't tackle it. When we had come
over and paid homage to him he saw we had taken him for a successful man
of the world, as well as a member of the All-America team, and he hadn't
been able to resist the desire to let two human beings look up to him
again. He hadn't invited us to his room, he said, because part of the
time he didn't have a room; and he even confessed that once or twice
he'd walked up to our rooms from downtown because he was crazy for a
smoke and didn't have the price.

I guess there never was a more peculiar dinner party in New York. Part
of the time I sniveled and part of the time Allie sniveled, and once or
twice we were all three all balled up in our throats. But after a while
we braced up and I told Jarvis what the Boss had told me, and we drank a
toast to the glad new days, and another to success, and another to
Jarvis, the coming business pillar, and some more to our private yachts
and country homes, and to Commencement reunions, and this and that. Then
we chartered a sea-going cab and took Jarvis home with us. We made him
sleep in the bed while we slept on the floor, and the next morning we
loaned him a pair of overalls that we had honorably retired and we all
went down to work together.

The next three months were perfectly ridiculous. We simply couldn't
order Jarvis around. Suppose you had to ask the Statue of Liberty to get
a move on and scrub the floors? We couldn't get our ingrained awe of
that freight hustler out of our systems. Of course when any one was
around we had to keep up appearances, but when I was alone and I had
something for Jarvis to do I'd call him in and get at it about this way:
"Er--say, Jarvis, could you help me out on a little matter, if you have
the time? You know there's a shipment for Pittsburgh that's got to go
out by noon. I think the car is at door 6. Those barrels ought to be put
into the car right away, and if you'd see that they get in there I'd be
very much obliged to you. I'd attend to it myself, but they've given me
a lot of stuff to go over here."

Then Jarvis would grin cheerfully and hustle those barrels in before I
could get over blushing. If you don't believe football has its
advantages in after life you ought to watch a prize tackle waltzing a
three-hundred-pound barrel through a car door.

By day we ordered Jarvis about in this fashion, and made him earn his
one-fifty with the rest of the red-shirted gang. But at six o'clock we
dropped all that like a hot poker. Nights we were his adoring young
friends again. We sat together in restaurants and said "sir" to him to
his infinite disgust, and made him tell over and over again the stories
of the big games and the grand doings of the old days. When his
promotion came, three months later, and he went into a small job in the
office, with a traveling job looming up in the offing, we held a
celebration that set us back about half the price of a railroad ticket
home. It meant more to us than it did to him. To him it was three
dollars more a week, congenial work and a chance. But to us it was the
release of a great man from grinding captivity--a racehorse rescued from
the shafts of a garbage cart; a Richard the Lion-hearted hauled from the
gloomy dungeon, where he had had to peel his own potatoes, and set on
the road to kingly pomp and circumstance again. Excuse me for this
frightful mess of language. I can't help getting a little squashy with
my adjectives when I think of that glorious banquet night.

I'm glad to say that Jarvis kept coming along after that. He developed
into a first-class salesman, and in a couple of years he came in from
the road and took a desk in the house with his name on the side in gilt
letters. When this happened we made him look up every one of his old
college friends again. He hesitated a little, but we got behind him and
pushed. We pushed him into his college club and back to Commencement,
and we really pushed him out of our life--for every one was glad to see
him, of course, and to his amazement he found that he was still a grand
old college institution among the alumni. So he trained with his own
crowd after that, but even now we go over to his club and dine with him
at least once a year--always on some anniversary or other. And for the
last two years he has been sending his machine around for us.

Oh, no, you don't! I'm paying for this lunch, young fellow. Don't fight
any one about paying for your lunch just because you still have the
price. It's a privilege we older chaps insist on with you newcomers
anyway. And remember, there is always a bunch of us before the fire at
the club Saturday evenings, and we don't talk business. While you're
waiting for that job, don't you dare miss a meeting. And say--one thing
more. Don't be afraid of those blamed office boys. They're all a bluff.
I'm getting so I can fire them without even getting pale.



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES

Minor changes have been made to make punctuation and spelling
consistent; every other effort has been made to remain true to the
original book.





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