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Title: Stover at Yale
Author: Johnson, Owen
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Stover at Yale" ***

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STOVER AT YALE



By Owen Johnson

_Lawrenceville Stories_

THE PRODIGIOUS HICKEY
THE VARMINT
THE TENNESSEE SHAD
SKIPPY BEDELLE

STOVER AT YALE
THE WASTED GENERATION
BLUE BLOOD
CHILDREN OF DIVORCE


[Illustration: "TOGETHER THEY WENT CHOKING THROUGH THE CROWD"--_Page
137._]



STOVER AT YALE

BY

OWEN JOHNSON

AUTHOR OF "THE VARMINT," "THE TENNESSEE SHAD," ETC.

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY

F. R. GRUGER

[Illustration: Logo]

BOSTON
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
1931


_Copyright, 1911, by_
THE S. S. MCCLURE CO.

_Copyright, 1911, 1912, by_
THE MCCLURE PUBLICATIONS, INC.

_Copyright, 1912,_
BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.


_All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign
languages, including the Scandinavian_


PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



ILLUSTRATIONS


"Together they went choking through the crowd"
                                            _Frontispiece_

                                                    FACING
                                                      PAGE

"'Hello,' said Rogers' quiet voice. 'Well, what do
_you_ want?'"                                           20

"'I come not to stultify myself in the fumes of liquor,
but to do you good'"                                    90

"The period of duns set in, and the house became a
place of mystery and signals"                          202

"Oh, father and mother pay all the bills, and we have
all the fun"                                           230

"'Life's real to those fellows; they're fighting for
something'"                                            254

"Regan was his one friend"                             286

"'Curse the man who invented fish-house punch'"        292



STOVER AT YALE



CHAPTER I


Dink Stover, freshman, chose his seat in the afternoon express that
would soon be rushing him to New Haven and his first glimpse of Yale
University. He leisurely divested himself of his trim overcoat, folding
it in exact creases and laying it gingerly across the back of his seat;
stowed his traveling-bag; smoothed his hair with a masked movement of
his gloved hand; pulled down a buckskin vest, opening the lower button;
removed his gloves and folded them in his breast pocket, while with the
same gesture a careful forefinger, unperceived, assured itself that his
lilac silk necktie was in snug contact with the high collar whose
points, painfully but in perfect style, attacked his chin. Then,
settling, not flopping, down, he completed his preparations for the
journey by raising the sharp crease of the trousers one inch over each
knee--a legendary precaution which in youth is believed to prevent
vulgar bagging. Each movement was executed without haste or
embarrassment, but leisurely, with the deliberate _savoir-faire_ of the
complete man of the world he had become at the terrific age of eighteen.

In front of him spasmodic freshmen arrived, struggling from their
overcoats in embarrassed plunges that threatened to leave them publicly
in their shirt sleeves. That they imputed to him the superior dignity
of an upper classman was pleasurably evident to Stover from their covert
respectful glances. He himself felt conscious of a dividing-line. He,
too, was a freshman, and yet not of them.

He had just ended three years at Lawrenceville, where from a ridiculous
beginning he had fought his way to the captaincy of the football eleven
and the vice-presidency of the school. He had been the big man in a big
school, and the sovereign responsibilities of that anointed position had
been, of course, such that he no longer felt himself a free agent. He
had been of the chosen, and not all at once could he divest himself of
the idea that his slightest action had a certain public importance. His
walk had been studiously imitated by twenty shuffling striplings. His
hair, parted on the side, had caused a revolution among the brushes and
stirred up innumerable indignant cowlicks. His tricks of speech, his
favorite exclamations, had become at once lip-currency. At that time
golf and golf-trousers were things of unthinkable daring. He had given
his approval, appeared in the baggy breeches, and at once the ban on
bloomers had been lifted and the Circle had swarmed with the
grotesqueries of variegated legs for the first time boldly revealed. He
had stood between the school and its tyrants. He had arrayed himself in
circumstantial attire--boiled shirt, high collar, and carefully dusted
derby--and appeared before the faculty with solemn, responsible face no
less than three separate times, to voice the protest of four hundred
future American citizens: first, at the insidious and alarming
repetition of an abhorrent article of winter food known as scrag-birds
and sinkers; second, to urge the overwhelming necessity of a second
sleighing holiday; and, third and most important, firmly to assure the
powers that be that the school viewed with indignation and would resist
to despair the sudden increase of the already staggering burden of the
curriculum.

The middle-aged faculty had listened gravely to the grave expounder of
such grave demands, had promised reform and regulation in the matter of
the sinkers, granted the holiday, and insufficiently modified the brutal
attempt at injecting into the uneager youthful mind a little more of the
inconsequential customs of the Greeks and Romans.

The Doctor had honored him with his confidence, consulted him on several
intimate matters of school discipline--in fact, most undoubtedly had
rather leaned upon him. As he looked back upon the last year at
Lawrenceville, he could not help feeling a certain wholesome, pleasant
satisfaction. He had held up an honest standard, he had played hard but
square, disdained petty offenses, seen to the rigorous bringing up of
the younger boys, and, as men of property must lend their support to the
church, he had even publicly advised a moderate attention to the long
classic route which leads to college. He had been the big man in the big
school; what new opportunity lay before him?

In the seat ahead two of his class were exchanging delighted
conjectures, and their conversation, coming to his ears clearly through
the entangled murmur of the car, began to interest him.

"I say, Schley, you were Hotchkiss, weren't you?"

"Eight mortal years."

"Got a good crowd?"

"No wonder-workers, but a couple of good men for the line. What's your
Andover crowd like?"

"We had a daisy bunch, but some of the pearls have been side-tracked to
Princeton and Harvard."

"Bought up, eh?"

"Sure," said the speaker, with the profoundest conviction.

"Big chance, McNab, for the eleven this year," said Schley, in a thin,
anemic, authoritative sort of way. "Play football yourself?"

"Sure--if any one will kick me," said McNab, who in fact had a sort of
roly-poly resemblance to the necessary pigskin. "Lord, I'm no
strength-breaker. I'm a funny man, side-splitting joker, regular
cut-up--didos and all that sort of thing. What are you out for?"

"A good time first, last, and always."

"Am I? Just ask me!" said McNab explosively; and in a justly aggrieved
tone he added: "Lord, haven't I slaved like a mule ten years to get
there! I don't know how long it'll last, but while it does it will be a
lulu!"

"My old dad gave me a moral lecture."

"Sure. Opportunity--character--beauty of the classics--hope to be proud
of my son--you're a man now--"

"That's it."

"Sure thing. Lord, we'll be doing the same twenty-five years from now,"
said McNab, who thus logically and to his own satisfaction disposed of
this fallacy. He added generously, however, with a wave of his hand: "A
father ought to talk that way--the right thing--wouldn't care a flip of
a mule's tail for my dad if he didn't. And say, by gravy, he sort of got
me, too--damned impressive!"

"Really?"

"Honor bright." A flicker of reminiscent convictions passed over McNab's
frolicking face. "Yes, and I made a lot of resolutions, too--good
resolutions."

"Come off!"

"Well, that was day before yesterday."

The train started with a sudden crunching. A curious, excited thrill
possessed Stover. He had embarked, and the quick plunge into the
darkness of the long tunnel had, to his keenly sentimental imagination,
something of the dark transition from one world into another. Behind was
the known and the accomplished; ahead the coming of man's estate and
man's freedom. He was his own master at last, free to go and to come,
free to venture and to experience, free to know that strange, guarded
mystery--life--and free, knowing it, to choose from among it many ways.

And yet, he felt no lack of preparation. Looking back, he could honestly
say to himself that where a year ago he had seen darkly now all was
clear. He had found himself. He had gambled. He had consumed
surreptitiously at midnight a sufficient quantity of sickening beer. He
had consorted with men of uncontrollable passions and gone his steady
path. He had loved, hopelessly, madly, with all the intensity and
honesty of which he was capable, a woman--a slightly older woman--who
had played with the fragile wings of his boy's illusion and left them
wounded; he had fought down that weakness and learned to look on a soft
cheek and challenging eye with the calm, amused control of a man, who
invincibly henceforth would cast his life among men. There was not much
knowledge of life, if any, that could come to him. He did not proclaim
it, but quietly, as a great conviction, heritage of sorrow and smashing
disillusionments, he knew it was so. He knew it all--he was a man; and
this would give him an advantage among his younger fellows in the free
struggle for leadership that was now opening to his joyful combative
nature.

"It'll be a good fight, and I'll win," he said to himself, and his
crossed arms tightened with a quick, savage contraction, as if the idea
were something that could be pursued, tackled, and thrown headlong to
the ground.

"There's a couple of fellows from Lawrenceville coming up," said a voice
from a seat behind him. "McCarthy and Stover, they say, are quite
wonders."

"I've heard of Stover; end, wasn't he?"

"Yes; and the team's going to need ends badly."

It was the first time he had heard his name published abroad. He sat
erect, drawing up one knee and locking his hands over it in a strained
clasp. Suddenly the swimming vista of the smoky cars disappeared,
rolling up into the tense, crowded, banked arena, with white splotches
of human faces, climbing like daisy fields that moved restlessly,
nervously stirred by the same expectant tensity with which he stood on
the open field waiting for his chance to come.

"I like a fight--a good fight," he said to himself, drawing in his
breath; and the wish seemed but a simple one, the call for the joyful
shock of bodies in fair combat. And life was nothing else--a battle in
the open where courage and a thinking mind must win.

"I'll bet we get a lot of fruits," said Schley's rather calculating
voice.

"Oh, some of them aren't half bad."

"Think so?"

"I say, what do you know about this society game?"

"Look out."

"What's matter?"

"You chump, you never know who's around you." As he spoke, Schley sent
an uneasy glance back toward Stover, and, dropping his voice, continued:
"You don't talk about such things."

"Well, I'm not shouting it out," said McNab, who looked at his more
sophisticated companion with a little growing antagonism. "What are you
scared about?"

"It's the class ahead of you that counts," said Schley hurriedly, "the
sophomore and senior societies; the junior fraternities don't count; if
you're in a sophomore you always go into them."

"Never heard of the sophomore societies," said McNab, in a maliciously
higher tone. "Elucidate somewhat."

"There are three: Hé Boulé, Eta Phi, and Kappa Psi," said Schley, with
another uneasy, squirming glance back at Stover. "They're secret as the
deuce; seventeen men in each--make one and you're in line for a senior."

"How the deuce did you get on to all this?"

"Oh, I've been coached up."

Something in the nascent sophistication of Schley displeased Stover. He
ceased to listen, occupying himself with an interested examination of
the figures who passed from time to time in the aisle, in search of
returning friends. The type was clearly defined; alert, clean-cut,
self-confident, dressed on certain general divisions, affecting the same
style of correct hat and collar, with, as distinguishing features, a
certain boyish exuberance and a distinct nervous energy.

At this moment an abrupt resonant voice said at his side:

"Got a bit of room left beside you?"

Stover shifted his coat, saying:

"Certainly; come on in."

He saw a man of twenty-two or -three, with the head and shoulders of a
bison, sandy hair, with a clear, blue, steady glance, heavy hands, and a
face already set in the mold of stern purpose. He stood a moment,
holding a decrepit handbag stuffed to the danger point, hesitating
whether to stow it in the rack above, and then said:

"Guess I won't risk it. That's my trunk. I'll tuck it in here." He
settled in the vacant seat, saying: "What are you--an upper classman?"

Something like a spasm passed over the well-ironed shoulders of Schley
in front.

"No, I'm not," said Stover, and, extending his hand, he said: "I guess
we're classmates. My name's Stover."

"My name's Regan--Tom Regan. Glad to know you. I'm sorry you're not an
upper classman, though."

"Why so?" said Stover.

"I wanted to get a few pointers," said Regan, in a matter-of-fact way.
"I'm working my way through and I want to know the ropes."

"I wish I knew," said Stover, with instinctive liking for the blunt
elemental force beside him. "What are you going to try?"

"Anything--waiting, to start in with." He gave him a quick glance.
"That's not your trouble, is it?"

"No."

"It's a glorious feeling, to be going up, I tell you," said Regan, with
a sudden lighting up of his rugged features. "Can hardly believe it.
I've been up against those infernal examinations six times, and I'd have
gone up against them six more but I'd down them."

"Where did you come from?"

"Pretty much everywhere. Des Moines, Iowa, at the last."

"It's a pretty fine college," said Stover, with a new thrill.

"It's a college where you stand on your own feet, all square to the
wind," said Regan, with conviction.

"That's what got me. It's worth everything to get here."

"You're right."

"I wonder if I could get hold of some upper classman," said Regan
uneasily.

That this natural desire should be the most unnatural in the world was
already clear to Stover; only, somehow, he did not like to look into
Regan's eyes and make him understand.

"How are you, Stover? Glad to see you."

Dink, looking up, beheld the erect figure and well-mannered carriage of
Le Baron, a sophomore, already a leader of his class, whom he had met
during the summer. In the clean-cut features and naturally modulated
voice there was a certain finely aristocratic quality that won rather
than provoked.

Stover was on his feet at once, a little embarrassed despite himself,
answering hurriedly the questions addressed to him.

"Get your room over in York Street? Good. You're in a good crowd. You
look a little heavier. In good shape? Your class will have to help us
out on the eleven this year."

Stover introduced Regan. Le Baron at once was sympathetic, gave many
hints, recommended certain people to see, and smilingly offered his
services.

"Come around any time; I'll put you in touch with several men that will
be of use to you. Get out for the team right off--that'll make you
friends." Then, turning to Stover, he added, with just a shade of
difference in his tone: "I was looking for you particularly. I want you
to dine with me to-night. I'll be around about seven. Awfully glad
you're here. At seven."

He passed on, giving his hand to the right and left. Stover felt as if
he had received the accolade. Schley ahead was squirmingly impressed;
one or two heads across the aisle turned in his direction, wondering who
could be the freshman whom Le Baron so particularly took under his
protection.

"Isn't he a king?" he said enthusiastically to Regan, with just a
pardonable pleasure in his exuberance. "He made the crew last
year--probably be captain; subtackle on the eleven. I played against him
two years ago when he was at Andover. Isn't he a king, though!"

"I don't know," said Regan, with a drawing of his lips.

Stover was astounded.

"Why not?"

"Don't know."

"What's wrong?"

"Hard to tell. He sizes up for a man all right, but I don't think we'd
agree on some things."

The incident momentarily halted the conversation. Stover was a little
irritated at what seemed to him his companion's over-sensitiveness. Le
Baron had been more than kind in his proffer of help. He was at a loss
to understand why Regan should not see him through his eyes.

"You think I'm finicky," said Regan, breaking the silence.

"Yes, I do," said Stover frankly.

"I guess you and I'll understand each other," said Regan, approving of
his directness. "Perhaps I am wrong. But, boy, this place means a great
deal to me, and the men that are in it and lead it."

"It's the one place where money makes no difference," said Stover, with
a flash--"where you stand for what you are."

Regan turned to him.

"I've fought to get here, and I'll have a fight to stay. It means
something to me."

The train began to slacken in the New Haven station. They swarmed out on
to the platform amid the returning gleeful crowd, crossing and
intercrossing, caught up in the hubbub of shouted recognition.

"Hello, Stuffy!"

"There's Stuffy Davis!"

"Hello, boys."

"Oh, Jim Thompson, have we your eye?"

"Come on."

"Get the crowd together."

"All into a hack."

"Back again, Bill!"

"Join you later. I've got a freshman."

"Where you rooming?"

"See you at Mory's."

Buffeted by the crowd they made their way across the depot to the
street.

"I'm going to hoof it," said Regan, extending his hand. "Glad to have
met you. I'll drop in on you soon."

Stover watched him go stalwartly through the crowd, his bag under one
arm, his soft hat set a little at defiance, looking neither to the right
nor left.

"Why the deuce did he say that about Le Baron?" he thought, with a
feeling of irritation.

Then, obeying an impulse, he signaled an expressman, consigned his bag,
and made his way on foot, dodging in and out of the rapidly filled
hacks, where upper classmen sat four on the seat, hugging one another
with bearlike hugs.

"Eh, freshman, take off that hat!"

He removed his derby immediately, bowing to a hilarious crowd, who
rocked ahead shouting back unintelligible gibes at him.

Others were clinging to car steps and straps.

"Hello, Dink!"

Some one had called him but he could not discover who. He swung down the
crowded street to the heart of the city in the rapid dropping of the
twilight. There was a dampness underfoot that sent to him long, wavering
reflections from early street-lamps. The jumble of the city was in his
ears, the hazy, crowded panorama in his eyes, at his side the passing
contact of strangers. Everything was multiplied, complex, submerging his
individuality.

But this feeling of multitude did not depress him. He had come to
conquer, and zest was in his step and alertness in his glance. Out of
the churning of the crowd he passed into the clear sweep of the city
Common, and, looking up through the mist, for the first time beheld the
battlements of the college awaiting him ahead, lost in the hazy elms.

Across the quiet reaches of the Common he went slowly, incredibly,
toward these strange shapes in brick and stone. The evening mist had
settled. They were things undefined and mysterious, things as real as
the things of his dreams. He passed on through the portals of Phelps
Hall, hearing above his head for the first time the echoes of his own
footsteps against the resounding vault.

Behind him remained the city, suddenly hushed. He was on the campus, the
Brick Row at his left; in the distance the crowded line of the fence,
the fence where he later should sit in joyful conclave. Somewhere there
in the great protecting embrace of these walls were the friends that
should be his, that should pass with him through those wonderful years
of happiness and good fellowship that were coming.

"And this is it--this is Yale," he said reverently, with a little
tightening of the breath.

They had begun at last--the happy, care-free years that every one
proclaimed. Four glorious years, good times, good fellows, and a free
and open fight to be among the leaders and leave a name on the roll of
fame. Only four years, and then the world with its perplexities and
grinding trials.

"Four years," he said softly. "The best, the happiest I'll ever know!
Nothing will ever be like them--nothing!"

And, carried away with the confident joy of it, he went toward his
house, shoulders squared, with the step of a d'Artagnan and a song
sounding in his ears.



CHAPTER II


He found the house in York Street, a low, white-washed frame building,
luminous under the black canopy of the overtowering elms. At the door
there was a little resistance and a guarded voice cried:

"What do you want?"

"I want to get in."

"What for?"

"Because I want to."

"Very sorry," said McNab's rather squeaky voice--"most particular sorry;
but this house is infected with yellow fever and the rickets, and we
wouldn't for the world share it with the sophomore class--oh, no!"

A light began to dawn over Stover.

"I'm rooming here," he said.

"What's your name and general style of beauty?"

"Stover, and I've got a twitching foot."

"Why didn't you say so?" said McNab, who then admitted him. "Pardon me.
The sophomores are getting so fidgety, you know, hopping all up and
down. My name's McNab--German extraction. Came up on the train, ahead of
you--thought you were a sophomore, you put on such a beautiful side.
Here, put on that chain."

"Hazing?"

"Oh, no, indeed. Just a few members of the weakling class above us might
get too fond of us; just must see us--welcome to Yale and all that sort
of thing. I hate sentimental exhibitions, don't you?"

"Is McCarthy here?" said Stover, laughing.

"Your wife is waiting for you most anxiously."

"Hello, is that Dink?" called down McCarthy's exuberant voice at this
moment.

Stover went up the stairs like a terrier, answering the joyful whoop
with a war-cry of his own. The next moment he and McCarthy were
pummeling each other, wrestling about the room, to the dire danger of
furniture and crockery. When this sentimental moment had exhausted
itself physically, McCarthy bore him to the back of the house, saying:

"We don't want to show our light in front just yet. We've got a corking
lot in the house--best of the Andover crowd. Come on; I'll introduce
you. You remember Hunter, who played against me at tackle? He's here."

There were half a dozen loitering on the window-seat and beds in the
pipe-ridden room.

Hunter, in shirt sleeves, sorting the contents of his trunk, came
forward at once.

"Hello, Stover, how are you?"

"How are you?"

No sooner did their hands clasp than a change came to Dink. He was face
to face with the big man of the Andover crowd, measuring him and being
measured. The sudden burst of boyish affection that had sent him into
McCarthy's arms was gone. This man could not help but be a leader in the
class. He was older than the rest, but how much it would have been hard
to say. He examined, analyzed, and deliberated. He knew what lay before
him. He would make no mistakes. He was carried away by no sentimental
enthusiasm. Everything about him was reserved--his cordiality, the quiet
grip of his hand, the smile of welcome, and the undecipherable estimate
in his eyes.

"Will you follow me or shall I follow you?" each seemed to say in the
first contact, which was a challenge.

"How are you?" said Stover, shaking hands with some one else; and the
tone was the tone of Hunter.

There were three others in the room: Hunter's room-mate, Stone, a
smiling, tall, good-looking fellow who shook his hand an extra period;
Saunders, silent, retired behind his spectacles; and Logan, who roomed
with McNab, who sunk his shoulders as he shook hands and looked into
Stover's eyes intensely as he said, "Awful glad; awful glad to know
you."

"Have a pipe--cigarette--anything?" said Hunter over his shoulder, from
the trunk to which he had returned.

"No, thanks."

"Started training?"

"Sort of."

"Take a chair and make yourself at home," said Hunter warmly, but
without turning.

The talk was immediately of what each was going to do. Stone was out for
the glee club, already planning to take singing lessons in the contest
for the leadership, three years off. Saunders was to start for the
_News_. Logan had made drawings during the summer and was out for the
_Record_. Hunter was trying for his class team and the crew. Only McNab
was defiant.

"None of that for me," he said, on his back, legs in the air, blowing
rings against the ceiling. "I'm for a good time, the best in life. It
may be a short one, but it'll be a lulu!"

"You'll be out heeling the _Record_, Dopey, inside of a month," said
Hunter quietly.

"Never, by the Great Horned Spoon--never!"

"And you'll get a tutor, Dopey, and stay with us."

"Never! I came to love and to be loved. I'm a lovely thing; that's
sufficient," said McNab, with a grimace to his elfish face. "I will not
be harnessed up. I will not heel."

"Yes, you will."

Hunter's tone had not varied. Stover, studying him, wondered if he had
marked out the route of Stone, Saunders, and Logan, just as he felt that
McNab would sooner or later conform to the will of the man who had
determined to succeed himself and make his own crowd succeed.

Reynolds, a sophomore, an old Andover man, dropped in. Again it was but
question of the same challenge, addressed to each:

"What are you trying for?"

The arrival of the sophomore, who installed himself in easy majesty in
the arm-chair and addressed his questions with a quick, analytical
staccato, produced somewhat the effect of a suddenly opened window. Even
McNab was unwillingly impressed, and Hunter, closing the trunk, allowed
the conversation to be guided by Reynolds' initiative.

He was a fiery, alert, rather undersized fellow, who had been the first
in his class to make the _News_, and was supposed to be in line for that
all-important chairmanship.

Inside of five minutes he had gone through the possibilities of each
man, advising briefly in a quick, businesslike manner. To Stover he
seemed symbolic of the rarefied contending nervousness of the place, a
personality that suddenly threw open to him all the nervous panorama of
the struggle for position which had already begun.

On top of which there arrived Rogers, a junior, good-natured, popular,
important. At once, to Stover's amused surprise, the rôle was reversed.
Reynolds, from the enthroned autocrat, became the respectful audience,
answered a few questions, and found a quick opportunity to leave.

"Let's go in front and have a little fun," said Rogers.

Somewhat perplexed, Stover led the way to their room.

"Light up," said Rogers, with a chuckle. "There's a sophomore bunch
outside just ready to tumble."

Rogers' presence brought back a certain ease; they were no longer on
inspection, and even in his manner was a more open cordiality than he
had showed toward Reynolds. That under all this was some graduated
system of authority Stover was slowly perceiving, when all at once from
the street there rose a shout:

"Turn down that light!"

"Freshmen, turn down that light!"

"Turn it down slowly," said Rogers, with a gesture to McNab.

"Faster!"

"All the way down!"

"Turn it up suddenly," said Rogers.

An angry swelling protest arose:

"Turn that down!"

"You freshmen!"

"Turn it down!"

"The freshest of the fresh!"

"Here, let me work 'em up," said Rogers, going to the gas-jet.

Under his tantalizing manipulation the noise outside grew to the
proportions of a riot.

"Come on and get the bloody freshmen!"

"Ride 'em on a rail!"

"Say, are we going to stand for this?"

"Down with that light!"

"Let's run 'em out!"

"Break in the door!"

"Out with the freshman!"

Below came a sudden rush of feet. Rogers, abandoning the gas-jet, draped
himself nonchalantly on the couch that faced the door.

"Well, here comes the shindy," thought Stover, with a joyful tensity in
every muscle.

The hubbub stormed up the hall, shot open the door, and choked the
passage with the suddenly revealed fury of angry faces.

"Hello," said Rogers' quiet voice. "Well, what do _you_ want?"

[Illustration: "'HELLO,' SAID ROGERS' QUIET VOICE, 'WELL, WHAT DO YOU
WANT?'"--_Page 19._]

No sooner had the barbaric front ranks beheld the languid, slightly
annoyed junior than the fury of battle vanished like a flurry of wind
across the water. From behind the more concealed began to murmur:

"Oh, beans!"

"A lemon!"

"Rubber!"

"Sold!"

"Well, what is it?" said Rogers sharply, sending a terrific frown at the
sheepish leaders.

At this curt reminder there was a shifting movement in the rear, which
rapidly communicated itself to the stammering, apologetic front ranks;
the door was closed in ludicrous haste, and down the stairs resounded
the stampede of the baffled host.

"My, they are a fierce lot, these man-eating sophomores, aren't they?"
said Rogers, giving way to his laughter. And then, a little
apologetically, but with a certain twinkle of humor, he added: "Don't
worry, boys; there was no one in that crowd who'll do you any harm.
However, I might just as well chaperon you to your eating-joint."

"Le Baron is going to take me out with him," said Stover, as they rose
to go.

"Hugh Le Baron?" said Rogers, with a new interest.

"Yes, sir."

"I didn't get your name."

"Stover."

"Oh! Captain down at Lawrenceville, weren't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, wish you good luck," said Rogers, with a more appraising eye.
"You've got an opening this year. Drop in and see me sometime, will you?
I mean it."

"See you later, Stover," said Hunter, resting his hand on his shoulder
with a little friendly touch.

"Bully you're with us," said Stone.

"Come in and chin a little later," said Logan.

Saunders gave him a duck of the head, with unconcealed admiration in his
embarrassed manner.

McCarthy went with them. Stover, left alone, measured the length of the
room, smiling to himself. It was all quite amusing, especially when his
was the fixed point of view.

In a few moments Le Baron arrived. Together they went across the campus,
now swarming like ant runs. At every step Le Baron was halted by a
greeting. Recognition was in the air, turbulent, boyish, exaggerated,
rising to the pitch of a scream or accomplished in a bear dance; and
through it all was the same vibrant, minor note of the ceaseless
activity.

It was the air Stover loved. He waited respectfully, while Le Baron
shook a score of hands, impatient for the moment to begin and the
opportunity to have his name told from lip to lip.

"I'm going to be captain at Yale," he said to himself, with a sudden
fantastic, grandiloquent fury. "I will if it's in me."

"We'll run down to Heub's," said Le Baron, free at last, "get a good
last meal before going into training. You look in pretty fit shape."

"I've kept so all summer."

"Who's over in your house?"

Stover named them.

"They weren't my crowd at Andover, but they're good fellows," said Le
Baron, listening critically. "Hunter especially. Here we are."

A minute later they had found a table in the restaurant crowded with
upper classmen, and Le Baron was glancing down the menu.

"An oyster cocktail, a planked steak--rare; order the rest later." He
turned to Stover. "Guess we'd better cut out the drinks. We'll stand the
gaff better to-morrow."

There was in his voice a quiet possession, as if he had already assumed
the reins of Stover's career.

"Are you out for the eleven again?" said Stover respectfully.

"Yes. I'll never do any better than a sub, but that's what counts. We're
up against an awfully stiff proposition this year. The team's got to be
built out of nothing. There's Dana, the captain, now, over at the table
in the corner."

"Where?" said Stover, fired at the thought.

Le Baron pointed out the table, detailing to him the names of some of
the coaches who were grouped there.

When Stover had dared to gaze for the first time on the face of the
majestic leader, he experienced a certain shock. The group of past
heroes about him were laughing, exchanging reminiscences of past
combats; but the face of Dana was set in seriousness, too sensitive to
the responsibility that lay heavier than the honor on his young
shoulders. Stover had not thought of his leader so.

"I guess it's going to be a bad season," he said.

"Yes; we may have to take our medicine this year."

Several friends of Le Baron's stopped to shake hands, greeting Stover
always with that appraising glance which had amused him in Reynolds who
had first sat in inquisition.

He began to be conscious of an ever-widening gulf separating him and Le
Baron, imposed by all the subtle, still uncomprehended incidents of the
night, which gradually made him see that he had found, not a friend, but
a protector. A certain natural impulsiveness left him; he answered in
short sentences, resenting a little this sudden, not yet defined sense
of subjection.

But the hum of diners was about him, the unknown intoxication of lights,
the prevailing note of joy, the free concourse of men, the vibrant note
of good fellowship, good cheer, and the eager seizing of the zest of the
hour. The men he saw were the men who had succeeded--a success which
unmistakably surrounded them. He, too, wished for success acutely,
almost with a throbbing, gluttonous feeling, sitting there unknown.

All at once Dana, passing across the room, stopped for a handshake and a
word of greeting to Le Baron. Stover was introduced, rising
precipitately, to the imminent danger of his plate.

"Stover from Lawrenceville?" said Dana.

"Yes, sir."

The captain's eye measured him carefully, taking in the wiry, spare
frame, the heavy shoulders, and the nervous hands, and then stayed on
the clean-cut jaw, the direct blue glance, and the rebellious rise of
sandy hair.

"End, of course," he said at last.

"Yes, sir."

"About a hundred and fifty-four?"

"One hundred and fifty, sir, stripped."

"Ever played in the back field?"

"No, sir."

"Report with the varsity squad to-morrow."

"Yes, sir."

"There's a type of man we're proud of," said Le Baron. "Came here from
Exeter, waited at Commons first two years; every one likes him. He has a
tough proposition here this year, though--supposing we dig out."

In the room the laughter was rising, and all the little nervous noises
of the clash of plate and cutlery. Stover would have liked to stay, to
yield to the contagion, to watch with eager eyes the opposite types, all
under the careless spell of the beginning year.

The city was black about them as they stepped forth, the giant elms
flattened overhead against the blurred mists of the night, like curious
water weeds seen from below.

They went in silence directly toward the campus. Once or twice Le Baron
started to speak and then stopped. At length he said:

"Come this way."

They passed by Osborne Hall, and the Brick Row with the choked display
of the Coöp below, and, crossing to the dark mass of the Old Library,
sat down on the steps.

Before Stover stretched all the lighted panorama of the college and the
multiplied strewn lights against the mysteries of stone and
brick--lights that drew him to the quiet places of a hundred growing
existencies--affected him like the lights of the crowded restaurant and
the misty reflections of the glassy streets. It was the night, the
mysterious night that suddenly had come into his boyish knowledge.

It was immense, unfathomable--this spectacle of a massed multitude. It
was all confounded, stirring, ceaseless, feverish in its brilliant
gaiety, fleeting, transitory, mocking. It was of the stage, theatric. It
brought theatric emotions, too keenly sensitized, too sharply
overwhelming. He wished to flee from it in despair of ever conquering,
as he wished to conquer, this world of stirring ambitions and shadowy
and fleeting years.

"I'm going to do for you," said Le Baron's voice, breaking the
charm--"I'm going to do what some one did for me when I came here last
year."

He paused a moment, a little, too, under the spell of the night,
perhaps, seeking how best to choose his words.

"It is a queer place you're coming into, and many men fail for not
understanding it in time. I'm going to tell you a few things."

Again he stopped. Stover, waiting, heard across from the blazing sides
of Farnam a piano's thin, rushing notes. Nearer, from some window
unseen, a mandolin was quavering. Voices, calling, mingled in softened
confusion.

"Oh, Charley Bangs--stick out your head."

"We want Billy Brown."

"Hello, there!"

"Tubby, this way!"

Then this community of faint sounds was lost as, from the fence, a
shapeless mass beyond began to send its song towards him.


     "_When freshmen first we came to Yale_
     _Fol-de-rol-de-rol-rol-rol._
     _Examinations made us pale_
     _Fol-de-rol-de-rol-rol-rol._"


"What do you know about the society system here?" said Le Baron
abruptly.

"Why, I know--there are three senior societies: Skull and Bones, Keys,
Wolf's-Head--but I guess that's all I do know."

"You'll hear a good deal of talk inside the college, and out of it, too,
about the system. It has its faults. But it's the best system there is,
and it makes Yale what it is to-day. It makes fellows get out and work;
it gives them ambitions, stops loafing and going to seed, and keeps a
pretty good, clean, temperate atmosphere about the place."

"I know nothing at all about it," said Stover, perplexed.

"The seniors have fifteen in each; they give out their elections end of
junior year, end of May. That's what we're all working for."

"Already?" said Stover involuntarily.

"There are fellows in your class," said Le Baron, "who've been working
all summer, so as to get ahead in the competition for the _Lit_ or the
_Record_, or to make the leader of the glee club--fellows, of course,
who know."

"But that's three years off."

"Yes, it's three years off," said Le Baron quietly. "Then there are the
junior fraternities; but they're large, and at present don't count much,
except you have to make them. Then there are what are called sophomore
societies." He hesitated a moment. "They are very important."

"Do you belong?" asked Stover innocently.

"Yes," said Le Baron, after another hesitation. "Of course, we don't
discuss our societies here. Others will tell you about them. But here's
where your first test will come in."

Then came another lull. Stover, troubled, frowning, sat staring at the
brilliant windows across which passed, from time to time, a sudden
shadow. The groups at the fence were singing a football song, with a
marching swing to it, that had so often caught up his loyal soul as he
had sat shivering in the grand-stand for the game to begin. It was not
all so simple--no, not at all simple. It wasn't as he had thought. It
was complex, a little disturbing.

"This college is made up of all sorts of elements," said Le Baron, at
last. "And it is not easy to run it. Now, in every class there are just
a small number of fellows who are able to do it and who will do it. They
form the real crowd. All the rest don't count. Now, Stover, you're going
to have a chance at something big on the football side; but that is not
all. You might make captain of the eleven and miss out on a senior
election. You're going to be judged by your friends, and it is just as
easy to know the right crowd as the wrong."

"What do you mean by the right crowd?" said Stover, conscious of just a
little antagonism.

"The right crowd?" said Le Baron, a little perplexed to define so
simple a thing. "Why, the crowd that is doing things, working for Yale;
the crowd--"

"That the class ahead picks out to lead us," said Stover abruptly.

"Yes," said Le Baron frankly; "and it won't be a bad judgment. Money
alone won't land a man in it, and there'll be some in it who work their
way through college. On the whole, it's about the crowd you'll want to
know all through life."

"I see," said Stover. His clasp tightened over his knees, and he was
conscious of a certain growing uncomfortable sensation. He liked Le
Baron--he had looked up to him, in a way. Of course, it was all said in
kindness, and yet--

"I'm frankly aristocratic in my point of view"--he heard the
well-modulated voice continue--"and what I say others think. I'm older
than most of my class, and I've seen a good deal of the world at home
and abroad. You may think the world begins outside of college. It
doesn't; it begins right here. You want to make the friends that will
help you along, here and outside. Don't lose sight of your
opportunities, and be careful how you choose.

"Now, by that I mean don't make your friends too quickly. Get to know
the different crowds, but don't fasten to individuals until you see how
things work out. This rather surprises you, doesn't it? Perhaps you
don't like it."

"It does sort of surprise me," said Stover, who did not answer what he
meant.

"Stover," said Le Baron, resting a hand on his knee, "I like you. I
liked you from the first time we lined up in that Andover-Lawrenceville
game. You've got the stuff in you to make the sort of leader we need at
Yale. That's why I'm trying to make you see this thing as it is. You
come from a school that doesn't send many fellows here. You haven't the
fellows ahead pulling for you, the way the other crowds have. I don't
want you to make any mistake. Remember, you're going to be watched from
now on."

"Watched?" said Stover, frowning.

"Yes; everything you do, everything you say--that's how you'll be
judged. That's why I'm telling you these things."

"I appreciate it," said Stover, but without enthusiasm.

"Now, you've got a chance to make good on the eleven this year. If you
do, you stand in line for the captaincy senior year. It lies with you to
be one of the big men in the class. And this is the way to do it: get to
know every one in the class right off."

"What!" said Stover, genuinely surprised.

"I mean, bow to every one; call them by name: but hold yourself apart,"
said Le Baron. "Make fellows come to you. Don't talk too much. Hold
yourself in. Keep out of the crowd that is out booze-fighting--or, when
you're with them, keep your head. There are a lot of fellows here, with
friends ahead of them, who can cut loose a certain amount; but it's
dangerous. If you want to make what you ought to make of yourself,
Stover, you've got to prove yourself; you've got to keep yourself well
in hand."

Stover suddenly comprehended that Le Baron was exposing his own theory,
that he, prospective captain of the crew, was imposing on himself.

"Don't ticket yourself for drinking."

"I won't."

"Or get known for gambling--oh, I'm not preaching a moral lesson; only,
what you do, do quietly."

"I understand."

"And another thing: no fooling around women; that isn't done
here--that'll queer you absolutely."

"Of course."

"Now, you've got to do a certain amount of studying here. Better do it
the first year and get in with the faculty."

"I will."

"There it is," said Le Baron, suddenly extending his hand toward the
lighted college. "Isn't it worth working for--to win out in the end?
And, Stover, it's easy enough when you know how. Play the game as others
are playing it. It's a big game, and it'll follow you all through life.
There it is; it's up to you. Keep your head clear and see straight."

The gesture of Le Baron, half seen in the darkness, brought a strange
trouble to Stover. It was as if, at the height of the eager confidence
of his youth, some one had whispered in his ear and a shadowy hand had
held before his eyes a gigantic temptation.

"Are there any questions you want to ask me?" said Le Baron, with a new
feeling of affection toward the unprotected freshman whom he had so
generously advised.

"No."

They sat silently. And all at once, as Stover gazed, from the high,
misty walls and the elm-tops confounded in the night, a monstrous hand
seemed to stretch down, impending over him, and the care-free windows
suddenly to be transformed into myriad eyes, set on him in
inquisition--eyes that henceforth indefatigably, remorselessly would
follow him.

And with it something snapped, something fragile--the unconscious,
simple democracy of boyhood. And, as it went, it went forever. This was
the world rushing in, dividing the hosts. This was the parting of the
ways. The standards of judgment were the world's. It was not what he had
thought. It was no longer the simple struggle. It was complex,
disturbing, incomprehensible. To win he would have to change.

"It's been good of you to tell me all this," he said, giving his hand to
Le Baron, and the words sounded hollow.

"Think over what I've said to you."

"I will."

"A man is known by his friends; remember that, Stover, if you don't
anything else!"

"It's awfully good of you."

"I like you, Dink," said Le Baron, shaking hands warmly; "now you know
the game, go in and win."

"It's awfully good of you," said Stover aimlessly. He stood watching Le
Baron's strong, aristocratic figure go swinging across the dim campus in
a straight, undeviating, well-calculated path.

"It's awfully good of him," he said mechanically, "awfully good. What a
wonder he is!"

And yet, and yet, he could not define the new feeling--he was but barely
conscious of it; was it rebellion or was it a lurking disappointment?

He stood alone, looking at the new world. It was no longer the world of
the honest day. It was brilliant, fascinating, alluring, awakening
strange, poignant emotions--but it was another world, and the way to it
had just been shown him.

He turned abruptly and went toward his room, troubled, wondering why he
was so troubled, vainly seeking the reason, knowing not that it lay in
the destruction of a fragile thing--his first illusion.



CHAPTER III


Tough McCarthy was in the communal rooms, busily delving into the
recesses of a circus trunk, from which, from time to time, he emerged
with the loot of the combined McCarthy family.

"Dink, my boy, cast your eye over my burglaries. Look at them. Aren't
they lovely, aren't they fluffy and sweet? I don't know what half of 'em
are, but won't they decorate the room? And every one, 'pon my honor, the
gift of a peach who loves me! The whole family was watching, but I got
'em out right under their noses. Well, why not cheer me!"

He deposited on the floor a fragrant pile of assorted embroideries,
table-covers, lace pincushions, and filmy mysteries purloined from
feminine dressing-tables, which he rapidly proceeded to distribute about
the room according to his advanced theories on decoration, which
consisted in crowding the corners, draping the gas-jets, and clothing
the picture-frames.

Stover sat silently, out of the mood.

"Here's three new scalps," continued McCarthy, producing some cushions.
"Had to vow eternal love, and keep the dear girls separated--a blonde
and two brunettes--but I got the pillows, my boy, I got 'em. And now sit
back and hold on."

He made a third trip to the trunk, unaware of Stover's distracted mood,
and came back chuckling, his arms heaped with photographs to his chin.

"One thousand and one Caucasian beauties, the pride of every State, the
only girls who ever loved me. Look at 'em!"

He distributed a score of photographs, mustering them on the
mantelpiece, pinning them to the already suspended flags, massing them
in circles, ranging them in crosses and ascending files, and announced:

"Finest I could gather in. Only know a third of 'em, but the sisters
know the rest. Isn't it a beauty parlor? Why, it'll make that blond
warbler Stone, downstairs, feel like an amateur canary." Suddenly aware
of Stover's opposite mood, he stopped. "What the deuce is the matter?"

"Nothing."

"You look solemn as an owl."

"I didn't know it."

"Well, how did you like Le Baron?"

"He's a corker!" said Stover militantly.

"I've been arranging about an eating-joint."

"You have?"

"We're in with a whole bunch of fellows. Gimbel, an Andover chap, is
running it. Five dollars a week. We can see if we can stand it."

"Tough, go slow."

"Why so?"

Stover hesitated, looking at McCarthy's puzzled expression, and,
looking, there seemed to be ten years' experience dividing them.

"Oh, I only mean we want to pick our friends carefully," he said at
length.

"What difference does it make where we eat?"

"Well, it does."

"Oh, of course we want to enjoy ourselves."

Stover saw he did not understand and somehow, feeling all the exuberant
enthusiasm that actuated him, he hesitated to continue the explanation.

"By George, Dink," continued McCarthy comically solicitous of his scheme
of decoration, "is there anything like the air of this place? You can't
resist it, can you? Every one's out working for something. By George, I
hope I can make good!"

"You will," said Stover. And in his mind was already something of the
paternal protection that he had surprised in Hunter, the big man of the
Andover crowd.

"If I'm to do anything at football I've got to put on a deuce of a lot
of weight," said McCarthy a little disconsolately. "Guess my best chance
is at baseball."

"The main thing, Tough, is to get out and try for everything," said
Stover wisely. "Show you're a worker and it's going to count."

"That's good advice--who put it into your head?"

"Le Baron talked over a good many things with me," said Stover slowly.
"He gave me a great many pointers. That's why I said go slow--we want to
get with the right crowd."

"The right crowd?" said McCarthy, wheeling about and staring at his
room-mate. "What the deuce are you talking about, Dink? Do you mean to
say any one cares who in the blankety-blank we eat with?"

"Yes."

"What! Who the deuce's business is it to meddle in my affairs? Right
crowd and wrong crowd--there's only one crowd, and each man's as good as
the other. That's the way I look at it." He stopped, amazed, looking
over at Stover. "Why, Dink, I never expected you to stand for the right
and wrong crowd idea."

"I don't mean it the way you do," said Stover lamely--for he was trying
to argue with himself. "We're trying to do something here, aren't
we--not just loaf through? Well, we want to be with the crowd that's
doing things."

"Oh, if you mean it that way," said McCarthy dubiously, "that's
different. I've been filled up for the last hour with nothing but
society piffle by a measly-faced runt just out of the nursery called
Schley. Skull and Bones--Locks and Keys--Wolf's-Head--gold bugs,
hobgoblins, toe the line, heel the right crowd, mind your _p's_ and
_q's_, don't call your soul your own, don't look at a society house,
don't for heaven's sake look at a pin in a necktie, never say 'bones' or
'fee-fie-fo-fum' out loud--never--oh, rats, what bosh!"

"Schley is an odious little toad," said Stover evasively. A little vain
of his new knowledge and the destiny before him, he looked at the
budding McCarthy with somewhat the anxiety of a mother hen, and said
with great solemnity: "Don't go off half cock, old fellow."

"What! Have you fallen for the bugaboo?"

"My dear Tough," said Stover, with a little gorgeousness, "don't commit
yourself until you know the whole business. You like the feeling here,
don't you--the way every one is out working for something?"

"You bet I do."

"Well, it's the society system that does it."

"Come off."

"Wait and see."

"But what in the name of my aunt's cat's pants," said McCarthy,
unwilling to relinquish the red rag, "what in the name of common sense
is the holy sacred secret, that it can't be looked at, talked about, or
touched?"

"Don't be a galoot, Tough," said Stover, in a superior way; "don't be a
frantic ass. All that's exaggerated; only little jack-asses like Schley
are frightened by it. The real side, the serious side, is that the
system is built up for the fellows who are going to do something for
Yale. Now, just wait until you get your eyes open before you go shooting
up the place."

But, as he stood in his own bedroom, with no Tough McCarthy to instruct
and patronize, alone at his window, looking out at the sputtering arc
lights with their splotchy regions of light and the busy windows of
Pierson Hall across the way, listening to the chapel sending forth its
quarter hour over the half-divined campus--he was not quite so confident
of all he had proclaimed.

"It's different--different from school," he said to himself half
apologetically. "It can't be the same as school. It's got to be
organized differently. It's the same everywhere."

He went to bed, to sleep badly, restless and unconvinced, a stranger in
strange places, staring at the flickering glare of the arc light against
the window-panes, that light as unreal in comparison with the frank
sunlight as the sudden bewildering introduction to the new, complex life
was different from the direct and rugged simplicity of the unconscious
democracy of school that had gone.

He awoke with a start, to find McCarthy and Dopey McNab, in striped
pajamas, solicitously occupied in applying a lather to his bare feet. He
sprang up with all the old zest, and, a free scrimmage taking place,
wreaked satisfactory vengeance on the intruders.

"Hang you, Stover," said McNab weakly, "if you'd snored another minute
I'd have won my dollar from McCarthy. If you want to be friends, nothing
like being friendly, is there? Come on down to my rooms, we've got eggs
and coffee right on tap. It's a bore going down to the joint. To-morrow
we'll all be slaves of the alarm clock again. Hang compulsory chapel."

They breakfasted hilariously under McNab's irresistible good humor. When
at last Stover sauntered out to reconnoiter in company with McCarthy, a
great change had come. The emotions of the night, the restless
rebelliousness, had lost all their acuteness and seemed only a blurred
memory. The college of the day was a different thing.

The late arrivals were swarming in carriages, or on top of heaped
express-wagons, just as the school used to surge hilariously back. The
windows were open, crowded with eager heads; the street corners
clustered with swiftly assembling groups, sophomores almost entirely,
past whom isolated, self-conscious freshmen went with averted gaze, to
the occasional accompaniment of a whistled freshman march. Despite
himself, Stover began to feel a little tightening in the shoulders, a
little uncertainty in the swing of his walk, and something in his back
seemed uneasily conscious of the concentrated attack of superior eyes.

They entered the campus, now the campus of the busy day. Across by the
chapel, the fence was hidden under continually arriving groups of upper
classmen, streaming to it in threes and fours in muscular enthusiasm.
There was no division there. Gradually the troubled perceptions of the
night before faded from Stover's consciousness. The light he saw was the
clear noon of the day, and the air that filled his lungs the atmosphere
of life and ambition.

At every step, runners for eating-houses, steam laundries, and tailors
thrust cards in their hands, coaxing for orders. Every tree seemed
plastered with notices of the awakening year, summons to trials for the
musical organizations and the glee club, offers to tutor, announcements
of coming competitions, calls for candidates to a dozen activities.

"Hello, Dink, old boy!"

They looked up to behold Charley De Soto, junior over in the Sheffield
Scientific School, bearing down upon them.

"Hello, Tough, glad to see you up here!"

De Soto had been at Lawrenceville with them, a comrade of the eleven,
now prospective quarter-back for the coming season.

"You've put on weight, Dink," he said with critical approval. "You've
got a bully chance this year. Are you reporting this afternoon?"

"Captain Dana asked me to come out for the varsity."

"I talked to him about you."

He asked a dozen questions, invited them over to see him, and was off.

They elbowed their way into the Coöp to make their purchases. The first
issue of the _News_ was already on sale, with its notices and its
appeals.

They went out and past Vanderbilt toward their eating-joint. Off the
campus, directly at the end of their path, a shape more like a monstrous
shadow than a building rose up, solid, ivy-covered, blind, with great,
prison-like doors, heavily padlocked.

"Fee-fi-fo-fum," said McCarthy.

"Which is it?" said Stover, in a different tone.

"Skull and Bones, of course," said McCarthy defiantly. "Look at it under
your eyelids, quick; don't let any one see you."

Stover, without hearing him, gazed ahead, impressed despite himself.
There it was, the symbol and the embodiment of all the subtle forces
that had been disclosed to him, the force that had stood amid the
passing classes, imposing its authority unquestioned, waiting at the end
of the long journey to give or withhold the final coveted success.

"Will I make it--will I ever make it?" he said to himself, drawing a
long breath. "To be one of fifteen--only fifteen!"

"It is a scary sort of looking old place," said McCarthy. "They
certainly have dressed it up for the part."

Still Stover did not reply. The dark, weighty, massive silhouette had
somehow entered his imagination, never to be shaken off, to range itself
wherever he went in the shadowy background of his dreams.

"It stands for democracy, Tough," he said, as they turned toward Chapel
Street, and there was in his voice a certain emotion he couldn't
control. "And I guess the mistakes it makes are pretty honest ones."

"Perhaps," said McCarthy stubbornly. "But why all this mumbo-jumbo
business?"

"It doesn't affect you, does it?"

"The trouble is, it does," said McCarthy, with a laugh. "Do you know
what I ought to do?"

"What?"

"Go right up and sit on the steps of the bloomin' old thing and eat a
bag of cream-puffs."

Stover exploded with laughter.

"What the deuce would be the sense in that, you old anarchist?"

"To prove to my own satisfaction that I'm a man."

"Do you mean it?" said Stover, half laughing.

McCarthy scratched his head with one of the old boyish, comical gestures
Stover knew so well.

"Well, perhaps I mean more than I think," he said, grinning. "In
another month I may get it as bad as that little uselessness Schley. By
the way, he wants us over at his eating-joint."

"He does?"

"He's a horsefly sort of a cuss. You'll see, he'll fasten on to you just
as soon as he thinks it worth while. Here we are."

They pressed their way, saluted with the imperious rattle of knives and
plates, through three or four rooms, blue-gray with smoke, and found a
vacant table in a far corner. A certain reserve was still prevalent in
the noisy throng, which had not yet been welded together. Immediately a
thin, wiry fellow, neatly dressed, hair plastered, affable and brimming
over with energy, rose and pumped McCarthy's hand, slapping him
effusively on the back.

"Bully! Glad to see you. This is Stover, of course. I'm Gimbel--Ray
Gimbel; you don't know me, but I know you. Seen entirely too much of you
on the wrong side of the field in the Andover-Lawrenceville game."

"How are you, Gimbel?" said Stover, not disliking the flattery, though
perceiving it.

"We were greatly worried about you," said Gimbel directly, and with a
sudden important seriousness. "There was a rumor around you had switched
to Princeton."

"Oh, no."

"Well, we're certainly glad you didn't." Looking him straight in the
face, he said with conviction: "You'll be captain here."

"I'm not worrying about that just at present," said Stover, amused.

"All right; that's my prophecy. I'll be back in a second."

He departed hastily, to welcome new arrivals with convulsive grip and
rolling urbanity, passing like a doctor on his hospital rounds.

"Who's Gimbel?" said Stover, wondering, as he watched him, what new
force he represented.

"Hurdler up at Andover, I believe."

In a moment Gimbel was back, engaging them in eager conclave.

"See here, there's a combination being gotten up," he said impersonally,
"a sort of slate for our class football managers, and I want to get you
fellows interested. Hotchkiss and St. Paul are going in together, and we
want to organize the other schools. How many fellows are up from
Lawrenceville?"

"About fifteen."

"We've got a corking good man from Andover not in any of the crowds up
there, and a lot of us want to give him a good start. I'll have you meet
him to-night at supper. If you fellows weren't out for football, we'd
put one of you up for secretary and treasurer. You can name him if you
want. I've got a hundred votes already, and we're putting through a deal
with a Sheff crowd for vice-president that will give us thirty or forty
more. Our man's Hicks--Frank Hicks--the best in the world. Say a good
word for him, will you, wherever you can. See you to-night."

He was off to another table, where he was soon in animated conversation.

"Don't mix up in it," said Stover quietly.

"Why not?" said McCarthy. "A good old political shindig's lots of fun."

"Wait until we understand the game," said Stover, remembering Le Baron's
advice not to commit himself to any crowd.

"But it would be such a lark."

Dink did not reply. Instead he was carefully studying the many types
that crowded before his eyes. They ranged from the New Yorker, extra
spick-and-span for his arrival, lost and ill at ease, speaking to no
one; to older men in jerseys and sweaters, unshaven often, lolling back
in their chairs, concerned with no one, talking with all.

The waiters were of his own class, who presently brought their plates to
the tables they served and sat down without embarrassment. It was a
heterogeneous assembly, with a preponderance of quiet, serious types,
men to whom the financial problem was serious and college an opportunity
to fit themselves for the grinding combat of life. Others were raw,
decidedly without experience, opinionated, carrying on their shoulders a
chip of somewhat bumptious pride. The talk was all of the doings of the
night before, when several had fallen into the hands of mischief-bent
sophomores.

"They caught Flanders down York Street and made him roll a peanut up to
Billy's."

"Yes, and the darned fool hadn't sense enough to grin and bear it."

"So they gave him a beer shampoo."

"A what?"

"A beer shampoo."

"Did you hear about Regan?"

"Who's Regan?"

"He's a thundering big coal-heaver from out the woolly West."

"Oh, the fellow that started to scrap."

"That's the man."

"Give us the story, Buck."

"They had me up, doing some of my foolish stunts," said a fellow with a
great moon of a face, little twinkling eyes, and a grotesque nose that
sprang forth like a jagged promontory, "when, all at once, this elephant
of a Regan saunters in coolly to see what's doing."

"Didn't know any better, eh?"

"Didn't know a thing. Well, no sooner did the sophs spot him than they
set up a yell:

"'Who are you?'

"'Tom Regan.'

"'What's your class?'

"'Freshman.'

"'What in the blankety-blank are you doing here?'

"'Lookin' on.'

"With that, of course, they began just leaping up and down for joy,
hugging one another; and a couple of them started in to tackle the old
locomotive. The fellow, who's as strong as an ox, just gives a cough and
a sneeze, scatters a few little sophs on the floor, and in a twinkling
is in the corner, barricaded behind a table, looking as big as a house.

"'Tom, look out; they're going to shampoo you,' says I.

"'Is it all right?' he says, with a grin.

"'It's etiquette,' says I.

"'Come on, then,' says he very affably, and he strips off his coat and
tosses it across the room, saying, 'It's my only one; look out for it.'

"Well, when the sophs saw him standing there, licking his chops, arms as
big as hams, they sort of stopped and scratched their heads."

"I bet they did!" cried a couple.

"They didn't particularly like the prospect; but they were game,
especially a little bantam of a rooster called Waring, who'd been
putting us through our stunts.

"'I'm going in after that bug myself,' said he, with a yelp. 'Come
on!'"

"Well, what happened, Buck?"

"Did they give it to him?"

"About fifteen minutes after the bouncers had swept us into the street
with the rest of the _débris_, as the French say," said the speaker,
with a far-off, reflective look, "one dozen of the happiest-looking
sophs you ever saw went reeling back to the campus. They were torn and
scratched, pummeled, bruised and bleeding, soaked from head to foot,
shot to pieces, smeared with paint, not a button left or a necktie--but
they were happy!"

"Why happy?"

"They had given _Regan_ the shampoo."

Stover and McCarthy rose and made their way out past the group where
Buck Waters, enthroned already as a natural leader, was tuning up the
crowd.

"I came up in the train with Regan," said Stover, thrilling a little at
the recital. "Cracky! I wish I'd seen the scrap."

"We'll call him out to-night for the wrestling," said McCarthy.

"He's a queer, plunging sort of animal," said Stover reflectively. "I
wonder if he'll ever do anything up here?"

Saunders, riding past on a bicycle, pad protruding from his pocket,
slowed up with a cordial hail:

"Howdy! I'm heeling the _News_. If you get any stories, pass them on to
me. Thought you fellows were down at our joint. Where the deuce are you
fellows grubbing?"

"We dropped into a place one of your Andover crowd's runnin'."

"Who's that?"

"Fellow called Gimbel."

Saunders rode on a bit, wheeled, came slowly back, resting his hand on
Stover's shoulder.

"Look here," he said, frowning a little. "Gimbel's a good sort, clever
and all that; but look here--you're not decided, are you?"

"No."

"Because we've been counting you fellows in with us. We've got a corking
crowd, about twenty, and a nice, quiet place." He hesitated, choosing
his words carefully: "I think you'll find the crowd congenial."

"When do you start in?" said Stover.

"To-morrow. Are you with us?"

"Glad to come."

"Bully!" He made a movement to start, and then added suddenly: "I say,
fellows, of course you're not on to a good many games here, but don't
get roped into any politics. It'll queer you quicker than anything else.
You don't mind my giving you a tip?"

"Not at all," said Stover, smiling a little as he wondered what
distinction Saunders made to himself between politics and politics.

"Ta-ta, then--perfectly bully you're with us. I'm off on this infernal
_News_ game--half a year's grind from twelve to ten at night--lovely,
eh, when the snow and slush come?"

He sped on, and they went up to the rooms.

"I thought we'd better change," said Stover.

"This place is loaded up with wires--live wires," said McCarthy,
scratching his head. "Well, go ahead, if you want to."

"Well, you see--we're all in the same house; it's more sociable."

"Oh, of course."

"And then, it'll be quieter."

"Yes, it'll be quieter."

A little constraint came to them. They went to their rooms silently,
each aware that something had come into their comradeship which sooner
or later would have to be met with frankness.



CHAPTER IV


Stover had never been on the Yale field except through the multitudinous
paths of his imagination. Huddled in the car crowded with candidates, he
waited the first glimpse as Columbus questioned the sky or De Soto
sought the sea. Three cars, filled with veterans and upper classmen,
were ahead of him. He was among a score of sophomores, members of third
and fourth squads, and a few of his own class with prep school
reputations who sat silently, nervously overhauling their suits,
adjusting buckles and shoe-laces, swollen to grotesque proportions under
knotted sweaters and padded jerseys.

The trolley swung over a short bridge, and, climbing a hill, came to a
slow stop. In an instant he was out, sweeping on at a dog-trot in the
midst of the undulating, brawny pack. In front--a thing of air and
wood--rose the climbing network of empty stands. Then, as they swept
underneath, the field lay waiting, and at the end two thin, straight
lines and a cross-bar. No longer were the stands empty or the breeze
devoid of song and cheers. The goal was his--the goal of Yale--and,
underfoot at last, the field more real to him than Waterloo or
Gettysburg!

He camped down, one among a hundred, oblivious of his companions, hands
locked over his knees, his glance strained down the field to where,
against the blue sweater of a veteran, a magic Y was shining white. For
a moment he felt a plunging despair--he was but one among so many. The
whole country seemed congregated there in competition. Others seemed to
overtop him, to be built of bone and muscle beyond his strength. He felt
a desire to shrink back and steal away unperceived, as he had that awful
moment when, on his first test at school, he had been told that he must
stand up and fill the place of a better man.

Then he was on his feet, in obedience to a shouted command, journeying
up the field to where beyond the stands a tackling dummy on loose
pulleys swung like a great scarecrow.

"Here, now, get some action into this," said a fiery little coach,
Tompkins, quarter-back a dozen seasons before. "Line up. Get some snap
to it. First man. Hard--hit it hard!"

The first three--heavy linesmen, still soft and short of breath--made
lumbering, slipping attempts.

Tompkins was in a blaze of fury.

"Hold up! What do you think this is? I didn't ask you to hug your
grandmother; I told you to tackle that dummy! Hit it hard--break it in
two! If you can't tackle, we don't want you around. Tackle to throw your
man back! Tackle as if the whole game depended on it. Come on, now. Next
man. Jump at it! Rotten! Rotten! Oh, squeeze it. Don't try to butt it
over--you're not a goat! Half the game's the tackling! Next man. Oh,
girls--girls! What is this bunch, anyhow--a young ladies' seminary?
Here! Stop--stop! You're up at Yale now. I'll show you how we tackle!"

Heedless of his street clothes, of the grotesqueness of the thing, of
all else but the savage spark he was trying to communicate, he went
rushing into the dummy with a headlong plunge that shook the ropes.

He was up in a moment, forgetting the dust that clung to him, shouting
in his shrill voice:

"Come on, now, bang into it! Yes, but hold on to it! Squeeze it.
Better--more snap there! Get out the way! Come on! Rotten! Take that
again--on the jump!"

Stover suddenly felt the inflaming seriousness of Yale, the spirit that
animated the field. Everything was in deadly earnest; the thing of rags
swinging grotesquely was as important as the tackle that on a
championship field stood between defeat and victory.

His turn came. He shot forward, left the turf in a clean dive, caught
the dummy at the knees, and shook the ground with the savageness of his
tackle.

"Out of the way, quick--next man!" cried the driving voice.

There was not a word of praise for what he knew had been a perfect
tackle. A second and a third time he flung himself heedlessly at the
swinging figure, in a desperate attempt to win the withheld word of
approbation.

"He might at least have grunted," he said to himself, tumbling to his
feet, "the little tyrant."

In a moment Tompkins, without relaxing a jot of his nervous driving, had
them spread over the field, flinging themselves on a dozen elusive
footballs, while always his voice, unsatisfied, propelling, drove them:

"Faster, faster! Get into it--let go yourselves. Throw yourself at it.
Oh, hard, harder!"

Ten minutes of practise starts under his leash, and they ended,
enveloped in steam, lungs shaken with quick, convulsive breaths.

"Enough for to-day. Back to the gymnasium on the trot; run off some of
that fatty degeneration. Here, youngster, a word with you."

Stover stepped forward.

"What's your name?"

"Stover."

To his profound disappointment, Tompkins did not recognize that
illustrious name.

"Where from?"

"Lawrenceville. Played end."

Tompkins looked him over, a little grimly. "Oh, yes; I've heard
something about you. Look here, ever do any punting?"

"Some, but only because I had to. I'm no good at it."

"Let's see what you can do."

Stover caught the ball tossed and put all his strength into a kick that
went high but short.

"Try another."

The second and third attempts were no better.

"Well, that's pretty punk," said Tompkins. "Dana wants to give you a try
on the second. Run over now and report. Oh, Stover!"

Dink halted, to see Tompkins' caustic scrutiny fixed on him.

"Yes, sir."

"Stover, just one word for your good. You come up with a big prep school
reputation. Don't make an ass of yourself. Understand; don't get a
swelled head. That's all."

"Precious little danger of that here," said Dink a little rebelliously
to himself, as he jogged over to the benches where the varsity subs were
camped. Le Baron waved him a recognition, but no more. It was as if the
gesture meant:

"I've started you. Now stand on your own feet. Don't look to me for
help."

For the rest of the practise he sat huddled in his sweater, waiting
expectantly as each time Captain Dana passed down the line, calling out
the candidates for trials in the brief scrimmages that took place. The
afternoon ended without an opportunity coming to him, and he jogged
home, in the midst of the puffing crowd, with a sudden feeling of his
own unimportance.

He had barely time to get his shower, and run into the almost deserted
eating club for a quick supper, when Gimbel appeared, crying:

"I say, Stover, bolt the grub and hoof it. We assemble over by Osborne."

"Where's the wrestling?"

"Don't know. Some vacant lot. Ever do any?"

"Don't know a thing about it."

"We're going to call out a chap called Robinson from St. Paul's, Garden
City, for the lightweight, and Regan for the heavy," said Gimbel, who,
of course, had been busy during the afternoon. "Thought of you for the
middleweight."

"Lord! get some one who knows the game," said Stover, following him out.

"Have you thought of any one you'd like to run for secretary and
treasurer?" said Gimbel, locking arms in a cordial way.

"No."

"I've got the whole thing organized sure as a steel trap."

"You haven't lost any time," said Stover, smiling.

"That's right--heaps of fun."

"What are _you_ going to run for?" said Stover, looking at him.

"I? Nothing now. Fence orator, perhaps, later," said Gimbel frankly.
"It's the fun of the game interests me--the organizing, pulling wires,
all that sort of thing. I'm going to have a lot of fun here."

"Look here, Gimbel," said Stover, yielding to a sudden appreciation of
the other's openness. "Isn't this sort of thing going to get a lot of
fellows down on you?"

"Queer me?" said Gimbel, laughing.

The word was still new to Stover, who showed his perplexity.

"That's a great word," added his companion. "You'll hear a lot of it
before you get through. It's a sort of college bug that multiplies
rapidly. Will politics 'queer' me--keep me out of societies? Probably;
but then, I couldn't make 'em anyway. So I'm going to have my fun. And
I'll tell you now, Stover, I'm going to get a good deal more out of my
college career than a lot of you fellows."

"Why include me?"

"Well, Stover, you're going to make a sophomore society, and go sailing
along."

"Oh, I don't know."

"Yes, you do. We don't object to such men as you, who have the right.
It's the lame ducks we object to."

"Lame ducks?" said Stover, puzzled as well as surprised at this
spokesman of an unsuspected proletariat opposition.

"'Lame ducks' is the word: the fellows who would never make a society if
it weren't for pulls, for the men ahead--the cripples that all you big
men will be trying to bolster up and carry along with you into a senior
society."

"I'm not on to a good deal of this," said Stover, puzzled.

"I know you're not. Look here." Gimbel, releasing his arm, faced him
suddenly. "You think I'm a politician out to get something for myself."

"Yes, I do."

"Well, I am--I'm frank about it. There's a whole mass of us here who
are going to fight the sophomore society system tooth and nail, and I'm
with them. When you're in the soph crowd you mightn't like what I'm
saying, and then again you may come around to our way of thinking.
However, I want you to know that I'm hiding nothing--that I'm fighting
in the open. We may be on opposite sides, but I guess we can shake
hands. How about it?"

"I guess we can always do that," said Stover, giving his hand. The man
puzzled him. Was his frankness deep or a diplomatic assumption?

"And now let's have no pretenses," continued Gimbel, on the same line,
with a quick analytical glance. "You're going with your crowd; better
join one of their eating-joints."

Stover was genuinely surprised.

"Have you already arranged it?" said Gimbel, laughing.

"Gimbel," said Stover directly, "I'm not quite sure about you."

"You don't know whether I'm a faker or not."

"Exactly."

"Stover, I'm a politician," said Gimbel frankly. "I'm out for a big
fight. I know the game here. I wouldn't talk to every one as I talk to
you. I want you to understand me--more, I want you to like me. And I
feel with you that the only way is to be absolutely honest. You see, I'm
a politician," he said, with a laugh. "I've learned how to meet
different men. Sometime I'm going to talk over things with
you--seriously. Here we are now. I've got a bunch of fellows to see.
McCarthy's probably looking for you. Don't make up your mind in a hurry
about me--or about a good many things here. Ta-ta!"

Stover watched him go gaily into the crowd, distributing bluff,
vociferous welcomes, hilariously acclaimed. The man was new, represented
a new element, a strange, dimly perceived, rebellious mass, with ideas
that intruded themselves ungratefully on his waking vision.

"Is he sincere?" he said to himself--a question that he was to apply a
hundred times in the life that was beginning.



CHAPTER V


"Hello, there, Stover!"

"Stover, over here!"

"Oh, Dink Stover, this way!"

Over the bared heads of the bobbing, shifting crowd he saw Hunter and
McCarthy waving to him. He made his way through the strange assorted
mass of freshmen to his friends, where already, instinctively, a certain
picked element had coalesced. A dozen fellows, clean-cut, steady of head
and eye, carrying a certain unmistakable, quiet assurance, came about
him, gripping him warmly, welcoming him into the little knot with
cordial acknowledgment. He felt the tribute, and he liked it. They were
of his own kind, his friends to be, now and in the long reaches of life.

"Fall in, fall in!"

Ahead of them, the upper classes were already in rank. Behind, the
freshmen, unorganized, distrustful, were being driven into lines of
eight and ten by seniors, pipe in mouth, authoritative, quiet, fearfully
enveloped in dignity. Cheers began to sound ahead, the familiar
_brek-e-kek-kex_ with the class numeral at the end. A cry went up:

"Here, we must have a cheer."

"Give us a cheer."

"Start her up."

"Lead a cheer, some one."

"Lead a cheer, Hunter."

"Lead the cheer, Gimbel."

"Lead the cheer, Stover."

"Come on, Stover!"

A dozen voices took up his name. He caught the infection. Without
hesitating, he stepped by Hunter, who was hesitating, and cried:

"Now, fellows, all together--the first cheer for the class! Are you
ready? Let her rip!"

The cheer, gathering momentum, went crashing above the noises of the
street. The college burst into a mighty shout of acclaim--another class
was born!

Suddenly ahead the dancing lights of the senior torches began to
undulate. Through the mass a hoarse roar went rushing, and a sudden
muscular tension.

"Grab hold of me."

"Catch my arm."

"Grip tight."

"Get in line."

"Move up."

"Get the swing."

Stover found himself, arms locked over one another's shoulders, between
Schley, who had somehow kept persistently near him, and a powerful,
smiling, blond-haired fellow who shouted to him:

"My name's Hungerford--Joe Hungerford. Glad to know you. Down from
Groton."

It was a name known across the world for power in finance, and the arm
about Stover's shoulder was taut with the same sentimental rush of
emotion.

Down the moving line suddenly came surging the chant:


     "_Chi Rho Omega Lambda Chi!_
     _We meet to-night to celebrate_
     _The Omega Lambda Chi!_"


Grotesquely, lumberingly, tripping and confused, they tried to imitate
the forward classes, who were surging in the billowy rhythm of the
elusive serpentine dance.

"How the deuce do they do it?"

"Get a skip to it, you ice-wagons."

"All to the left, now."

"No, to the right."

Gradually they found themselves; hoarse, laughing, struggling, sweeping
inconsequentially on behind the singing, cheering college.

Before Dink knew it, the line had broken with a rush, and he was
carried, struggling and pushing, into a vacant lot, where all at once,
out of the tumult and the riot, a circle opened and spread under his
eyes.

Seniors in varsity sweaters, with brief authoritative gestures, forced
back the crowd, stationed the fretful lights, commanding and directing:

"First row, sit down."

"Down in front, there."

"Kneel behind."

"Freshmen over here."

"Get a move on!"

"Stop that shoving."

"How's the space, Cap?"

In the center, Captain Dana waited with an appraising eye.

"All right. Call out the lightweights."

Almost immediately, from the opposite sophomores, came a unanimous
shout:

"Farquahar! Dick Farquahar!"

"Come on, Dick!"

"Get in the ring!"

Out into the ring stepped an agile, nervous figure, acclaimed by all his
class.

"A cheer for Farquahar, fellows!"

"One, two, three!"

"_Farquahar!_"

"Candidate from the freshman class!"

"Candidate!"

"Robinson!"

"Teddy Robinson!"

"Harris!"

"No, Robinson--Robinson!"

Gimbel's voice dominated the outcry. There was a surging, and then a
splitting of the crowd, and Robinson was slung into the ring.

In the midst of contending cheers, the antagonists stripped to the belt
and stood forth to shake hands, their bared torsos shining in high
lights against the mingled shadows of the audience.

The two, equally matched in skill, went tumbling and whirling over the
matted sod, twisting and flopping, until by a sudden hold Robinson
caught his adversary in a half nelson and for the brief part of a second
had the two shoulders touching the ground. The second round likewise
went to the freshman, who was triumphant after a struggle of twenty
minutes.

"Middleweights!"

"Candidate from the sophomore class!"

"Candidate from the freshman!"

"Fisher!"

"Denny Fisher!"

The sophomore stepped forth, tall, angular, well knit. Among the
freshmen a division of opinion arose:

"Say, Andover, who've you got?"

"Any one from Hotchkiss?"

"What's the matter with French?"

"He doesn't know a thing about wrestling."

"How about Doc White?"

"Not heavy enough."

The seniors began to be impatient.

"Hurry up, now, freshmen, hurry up!"

"Produce something!"

Still a hopeless indecision prevailed.

"I don't know any one."

"Jack's too heavy."

"Say, you Hill School fellows, haven't you got some one?"

"Some one's got to go out."

The sophomores, seizing the advantage, began to gibe at them:

"Don't be afraid, freshmen!"

"We won't hurt you."

"We'll let you down easy."

"Take it by default."

"Call time on them."

"I don't know a thing about it," said Stover, between his teeth, to
Hungerford, his hands twitching impatiently, his glance fixed hungrily
on the provokingly amused face of the sophomore champion.

"I'm too heavy or I'd go."

"I've a mind to go, all the same."

McCarthy, who knew his impulses of old, seized him by the arm.

"Don't get excited, Dink, old boy; you don't know anything about
wrestling."

"No, but I can _scrap_!"

The outcry became an uproar:

"Quitters!"

"'Fraid cats!"

"Poor little freshmen!"

"They're in a funk."

"By George, I can't stand that," said Stover, setting his teeth, the
old love of combat sweeping over him. "I'm going to have a chance at
that duck myself!"

He thrust his way forward, shaking off McCarthy's hold, stepped over the
reclining front ranks, and, springing into the ring, faced Dana.

"I'm no wrestler, sir, but if there's no one else I'll have a try at
it."

There was a sudden hush, and then a chorus:

"Who is it?"

"Who's that fellow?"

"What's his name?"

"Oh, freshmen, who's your candidate?"

"Stover!"

"Stover, a football man!"

"Fellow from Lawrenceville!"

The seniors had him over in a corner, stripping him, talking excitedly.

"Say, Stover, what do you know about it?"

"Not a thing."

"Then go in and attack."

"All right."

"Don't wait for him."

"No."

"He's a clever wrestler, but you can get his nerve."

"His nerve?"

"Keep off the ground."

"Off the ground, yes."

"Go right in; right at him; tackle him hard; shake him up."

"All right," he said, for the tenth time. He had heard nothing that had
been said. He was standing erect, looking in a dazed way at the hundreds
of eyes that were dancing about him in the living, breathing pit in
which he stood. He heard a jumble of roars and cheers, and one clear
cry, McCarthy crying:

"Good old Dink!"

Some one was rolling up his trousers to the knee; some one was flinging
a sweater over his bared back; some one was whispering in his ear:

"Get right to him. Go for him--don't wait!"

"Already, there," said Captain Dana's quiet, matter-of-fact voice.

"Already, here."

"Shake hands!"

The night air swept over him with a sudden chill as the sweaters were
pulled away. He went forth while Dana ran over the rules and
regulations, which he did not understand at all. He stood then about
five feet ten, in perfect condition, every muscle clearly outlined
against the wiry, spare Yankee frame, shoulders and the sinews of his
arms extraordinarily developed. From the moment he had stepped out, his
eyes had never left Fisher's. Combat transformed his features, sending
all the color from his face, narrowing the eyes, and drawing tense the
lips. Combat was with him always an overmastering rage in the leash of a
cold, nervous, pulsating logic, which by the very force of its passion
gave to his expression an almost dispassionate cruelty--a look not easy
to meet, that somehow, on the instant, impressed itself on the crowd
with the terrific seriousness of the will behind.

"Wiry devil."

"Good shoulders."

"Great fighting face, eh?"

"Scrapper, all right."

"I'll bet he is."

"Shake hands!"

Stover caught the other's hand, looked into his eyes, read something
there that told him, science aside, that he was the other's master; and
suddenly, rushing forward, he caught him about the knees and, lifting
him bodily in the air, hurled him through the circle in a terrific
tackle.

The onslaught was so sudden that Fisher, unable to guard himself, went
down with a crash, the fall broken by the bodies of the spectators.

A roar, half laughter, half hysteria, went up.

"Go for him!"

"Good boy, Stover!"

"Chew him up!"

"Is he a scrapper!"

"Say, this _is_ a fight!"

"Wow!"

Dana, clapping them on the shoulders, brought them back to the center of
the ring and restored them to the position in which they had fallen.
Fisher, plainly shaken up, immediately worked himself into a defensive
position, recovering his breath, while Stover frantically sought some
instinctive hold with which to turn him over.

Suddenly an arm shot out, caught his head in chancery, and before he
knew it he was underneath and the weight of Fisher's body was above,
pressing him down. He staggered to his feet in a fury, maddened,
unreasoning, and went down again, always with the dead weight above him.

"Here, that won't do," he said to himself savagely, recovering his
clarity of vision; "I mustn't lose strength."

All at once, before he knew how it had been done, Fisher's arm was under
his, cutting over his neck, and slowly but irresistibly his shoulders
were turning toward the fatal touch. Every one was up, shouting:

"Turn him over!"

"Finish him up!"

"Hold out, freshman!"

"Hold out!"

"Flop over!"

"Don't give in!"

"Stick it out!"

With a sudden expenditure of strength, he checked the turning movement,
desperately striving against the cruel hold.

"Good boy, Stover!"

"That's the stuff!"

"Show your grit!"

"Hold out!"

"Show your nerve!"

In a second he had reasoned it out. He was caught--he knew it. He could
resist three minutes, five minutes, slowly sinking against his ebbing
strength, frantically cheered for a spectacular resistance--and then
what? If he had a chance, it was in preserving every ounce of his
strength for the coming rounds.

"All right; you've got me this time," he said coldly, and, relaxing, let
his shoulders drop.

Dana's hand fell stingingly on him, announcing the fall. He rose amid an
angry chorus:

"What the deuce!"

"Say, I don't stand for that!"

"Thought he was game."

"Game nothing!"

"Lost his nerve."

"Sure he did."

"Well, I'll be damned."

"A quitter--a rank quitter!"

He walked to his seconds, angry at the misunderstanding.

"Here, I know what I'm doing," he said in short, quick breaths,
forgetting that he, a freshman, was addressing the lords of creation. He
was a captain again, his own captain, conducting his own battle. "I'll
get him yet. Rub up this shoulder, quick."

"Keep off the ground," said one mentor.

"You bet I will."

"Why the deuce did you give in so easily?"

"Because there are two more rounds, and I'm going to use my head--hang
it!"

"He's right, too," said the first senior, rubbing him fiercely with the
towel. "Now, sport, don't monkey with him until you've jarred him up a
couple of times!"

"That's what I'm going to do!"

"Time!" cried the voice of Dana.

This time he retreated slowly, drawing Fisher unwarily toward his edge
of the ring, and then suddenly, as the sophomore lunged at him, shot
forward again, in a tackle just below the waist, raised him clear off
the ground, spun him around, and, putting all his force into his back as
a wood-chopper swings an ax, brought him down crashing, clear across the
ring. It was a fearful tackle, executed with every savage ounce of rage
within him, the force of which momentarily stunned him. Fisher, groggy
under the bruising impact, barely had time to turn on his stomach before
Stover was upon him.

Dink immediately sprang up and back, waiting in the center of the ring.
The sophomore, too dazed to reason clearly, yielding only to his anger
at the sudden reversal, foolishly struggled to his feet and came
staggering toward him. A second time Stover threw all his dynamic
strength into another crashing tackle. This time Fisher went over on his
back with a thump, and, though he turned instinctively, both shoulders
had landed squarely on the turf, and, despite his frantic protests, a
roar went up as Dana allotted the fall to Stover.

This time, as he went to his corner, it was amid pandemonium:

"You're a corker, freshman!"

"Oh, you bulldog!"

"Tear him up!"

"You're the stuff!"

"Good head, freshman!"

"Good brain-work!"

Several upper classmen came hurriedly over to his corner, slapping him
on the back, volunteering advice.

"Clear out," said his mentor proudly. "This rooster can take care of
himself."

Fisher came up for the third round, visibly groggy and shaken by the
force of the tackles he had received, but game. Twice Stover, watching
his chance, dove under the groping hands and flung him savagely to the
ground. Once Fisher caught him, as they lay on the ground, in a hold
that might have been decisive earlier in the match. As it was, Stover
felt with a swift horror the arm slipping under his arm, half gripping
his neck. The wet heat of the antagonistic body over his inflamed all
the brute in him. The strength was now his. He tore himself free,
scrambled to his feet, and hurled Fisher a last time clean through into
the scattering crowd, where he lay stunned, too weak to resist the
viselike hands that forced his shoulders to the ground.

Dana hauled Stover to his feet, a little groggy.

"Some tackling, freshman! Bout's yours! Call out the heavyweights!"

Scarcely realizing that it was his captain who had spoken, Dink stood
staring down at Fisher, white and conquered, struggling to his feet in
the grip of friends.

"I say, Fisher," he said impulsively, "I hope I didn't shake you up too
much. I saw red; I didn't know what I was doing."

"You did me all right," said the sophomore, giving his hand. "That
tackle of yours would break a horse in two. Shake!"

"Thank you," said Stover, flustered and almost ashamed before the
other's perfect sportsmanship. "Thank you very much, sir!"

He went to his corner, smothered under frantic slaps and embraces,
hearing his name resounding again and again on the thunders of his
classmates. The bout had been spectacular; every one was asking who he
was.

"Stover, eh, of Lawrenceville!"

"Gee, what a fierce tackler!"

"Ridiculous for Fisher to be beaten!"

"Oh, is it? How'd you like to get a fall like that?"

"Played end."

"Captain at Lawrenceville."

"He ought to be a wonder."

"Say, did you see the face he got on him?"

"Enough to scare you to death."

"It got Fisher, all right."

While he was being rubbed down and having his clothes thrust upon him,
shivering in every tense muscle, which, now the issue was decided,
seemed to have broken from his control, suddenly a hand gripped his,
and, looking up, he saw the face of Tompkins, ablaze with the fire of
the professional spectator.

"I'm not shaking hands on your brutal old tackling," he said, with a
look that belied his words. "It's the other thing--the losing the first
fall. Good brain-work, boy; that's what'll count in football."

The grip of the veteran cut into his hand; in Tompkins's face also was
a reminiscent flash of the fighting face that somehow, in any test, wins
half the battle.


The third bout went to the sophomores, Regan, the choice of the class,
being nowhere to be found. But the victory was with the freshmen, who,
knit suddenly together by the consciousness of a power to rise to
emergencies, carried home the candidates in triumph.

McCarthy, with his arms around Stover as he had done in the old school
days after a grueling football contest, bore Dink up to their rooms with
joyful, bearlike hugs. Other hands were on him, wafting him up the
stairs as though riding a gale.

"Here, let me down will you, you galoots!" he cried vainly from time to
time.

Hilariously they carried him into the room and dumped him down. Other
freshmen, following, came to him, shaking his hand, pounding him on the
back.

"Good boy, Stover!"

"What's the use of wrestling, anyhow?"

"You're it!"

"We're all for you!"

"The old sophomores thought they had it cinched."

"Three cheers for Dink Stover!"

"One more!"

"And again!"

"Yippi!"

McCarthy, doubled up with laughter, stood in front of him, gazing
hilariously, proudly down.

"You old Dink, you, what right had you to go out for it?"

"None at all."

"How the deuce did you have the nerve?"

"How?" For the first time the question impressed itself on him. He
scratched his head and said simply, unconscious of the wide application
of what he said: "Gee! guess I didn't stop to think how rotten I was."

He went to bed, gorgeously happy with the first throbbing, satisfying
intoxication of success. The whole world must be concerned with him now.
He was no longer unknown; he had emerged, freed himself from the
thralling oblivion of the mass.



CHAPTER VI


Stover fondly dreamed, that night, of his triumphal appearance on the
field the following day, greeted by admiring glances and cordial
handshakes, placed at once on the second eleven, watched with new
interest by curious coaches, earning an approving word from the captain
himself.

When he did come on the field, embarrassed and reluctantly conscious of
his sudden leap to world-wide fame, no one took the slightest notice of
him. Tompkins did not vouchsafe a word of greeting. To his amazement,
Dana again passed him over and left him restless on the bench, chafing
for the opportunity that did not come. The second and the third
afternoon it was the same--the same indifference, the same
forgetfulness. And then he suddenly realized the stern discipline of it
all--unnecessary and stamping out individuality, it seemed to him at
first, but subordinating everything to the one purpose, eliminating the
individual factor, demanding absolute subordination to the whole,
submerging everything into the machine--that was not a machine only,
when once accomplished, but an immense idea of sacrifice and
self-abnegation. Directly, clearly visualized, he perceived, for the
first time, what he was to perceive in every side of his college career,
that a standard had been fashioned to which, irresistibly, subtly, he
would have to conform; only here, in the free domain of combat, the
standard that imposed itself upon him was something bigger than his own.

Meanwhile the college in all its activities opened before him,
absorbing him in its routine. The great mass of his comrades to be
gradually emerged from the blurred mists of the first day. He began to
perceive hundreds of faces, faces that fixed themselves in his memory,
ranging themselves, dividing according to his first impression into
sharply defined groups. Fellows sought him out, joined him when he
crossed the campus, asked him to drop in.

In chapel he found himself between Bob Story, a quiet, self-contained,
likable fellow, popular from the first from a certain genuine sweetness
and charity in his character, son of Judge Story of New Haven, one of
the most influential of the older graduates; and on the other side
Swazey, a man of twenty-five or six, of a type that frankly amazed
him--rough, uncouth, with thick head and neck, rather flat in the face,
intrusive, yellowish eyes, under lip overshot, one ear maimed by a scar,
badly dressed, badly combed, and badly shod. Belying this cloutish
exterior was a quietness of manner and the dreamy vision of a passionate
student. Where he came from Stover could not guess, nor by what strange
chance of life he had been thrown there. In front of him was the great
bulk of Regan, always bent over a book for the last precious moments,
coming and going always with the same irresistible steadiness of
purpose. He had not been at the wrestling the opening night, he had not
been out for football, because his own affairs, his search for work,
were to him more important; and, looking at him, Stover felt that he
would never allow anything to divert him from his main purpose in
college--first, to earn his way, and, second, to educate himself.
Stover, with others, had urged him to report for practise, knowing,
though not proclaiming it, that there lay the way to friendships that,
once gained, would make easy his problem.

"Not yet, Stover," said Regan, always with the same finality in his
tone. "I've got to see my way clear; I've got to know if I can down that
infernal Greek and Latin first. If I can, I'm coming out."

"Where do you room?" said Stover.

"Oh, out about a mile--a sort of rat-hole."

"I want to drop in on you."

"Come out sometime."

"Drop in on me."

"I'm going to."

"I say, Regan, why don't you see Le Baron?"

"What for?"

"Why, he might--might give you some good tips," said Stover, a little
embarrassed.

"Exactly. Well, I prefer to help myself."

Stover broke out laughing.

"You're a fierce old growler!"

"I am."

"I wish you'd come around a little and let the fellows know you."

"That can wait."

"I say, Regan," said Stover suddenly, "would you mind doing the waiting
over at our joint?"

"Why should I?"

"Why, I thought," said Stover, not saying what he had thought, "I
thought perhaps you'd find it more convenient at Commons."

"Is that what you really thought?" said Regan, with a quizzical smile.

The man's perfect simplicity and unconsciousness impressed Stover more
than all the fetish of enthroned upper classmen; he was always a little
embarrassed before Regan.

"No," he said frankly, "but, Regan, I would like to have you with us,
and I think you'd like it."

"We'll talk it over," said Regan deliberately. "I'll think it over
myself. Good-by."

Stover put out his hand instinctively. Their hands held each other a
moment, and their eyes met in open, direct friendship.

He stood a moment thoughtfully, after they had parted. What he had
offered had been offered impulsively. He began to wonder if it would
work out without embarrassment in the intimacy of the eating-joint.

The crowd that they had joined--as Gimbel had predicted--had taken a
long dining-room cheerily lighted, holding one table, around which
sixteen ravenous freshmen managed to squeeze in turbulent, impatient
clamor.

Bob Story, Hunter and his crowd, Hungerford and several men from Groton
and St. Mark's, Schley and his room-mate Troutman made up a coterie that
already had in it the elements of the leadership of the class.

As he was deliberating, he perceived Joe Hungerford rolling along, with
his free and easy slouch, immersed in the faded blue sweater into which
he had lazily bolted to make chapel, a cap riding on the exuberant
wealth of blond hair. He broached the subject at once:

"Say, Hungerford, you're the man I want."

"Fire away."

Stover detailed his invitation to Regan, concluding:

"Now, tell me frankly what you think."

"Have him with us, by all means," said Hungerford impulsively.

"Might it not be a little embarrassing? How do you think the other
fellows would like it?"

"Why, there's only one way to take it," said Hungerford directly. "Our
crowd's too damned select now to suit me. We need him a darn sight more
than he needs us."

"I knew you'd feel that way."

"By George, that's why I came to Yale. If there are any little squirts
in the crowd think differently, a swift kick where it'll do the most
good will clear the atmosphere."

Stover looked at him with impulsive attraction. He was boyish,
unspoiled, eager.

"Now, look here, Dink--you don't mind me calling you that, do you?"
continued Hungerford, with a little hesitation.

"Go ahead."

"I want you to understand how I feel about things. I've got about
everything in the world to make a conceited, pompous, useless little ass
out of me, and about two hundred people who want to do it. I wish to
blazes I was starting where Regan is--where my old dad did; I might do
something worth while. Now, I don't want any hungry, boot-licking little
pups around me whose bills I am to pay. I want to come in on your scale,
and I'm mighty glad to get the chance. That's why my allowance isn't
going to be one cent more than yours; and I want you to know it. Now, as
for this fellow Regan--he sounds like a man. I tell you what I'll do.
I'll fix it up in a shake of a lamb's tail."

"Question is whether Regan will come," said Stover doubtfully.

"By George, I'll make him. We'll go right out together and put it to
him."

Which they did; and Regan, yielding to the open cordiality of
Hungerford, accepted and promised to change at the end of his week.

In the second week, having satisfactorily arranged his affairs--by what
slender margin no one ever knew--Regan reported for practise. He had
played a little football in the Middle West and, though his knowledge
was crude, he learned slowly, and what he learned he never lost. His
great strength, and a certain quality which was moral as well as
physical, very shortly won him the place of right guard, where with each
week he strengthened his hold.

Regan's introduction at the eating-joint had been achieved without the
embarrassment Stover had feared. He came and went with a certain natural
dignity that was not assumed, but was inherent in the simplicity of his
character. He entered occasionally into the conversation and always,
when the others were finished and tarrying over the tobacco, brought his
plate to a vacant place and ate his supper; but, that through, though
often urged, went his purposeful way, with always that certain solitary
quality about him that made approach difficult and had left him
friendless.


On the fourth afternoon of practise, as Stover, restraining the raging
impatience within him, resolved that at all costs he would not show the
chafing, went to his place on the imprisoning bench, watching with
famished eyes the contending lines, Dana, without warning, called from
the open field:

"Stover! Stover! Out here!"

He jumped up, oblivious of everything but the sudden thumping of his
heart and the curious stir in the ranks of the candidates.

"Here, leave your sweater," shouted Tompkins, who had repeated the
summons.

"Oh, yes."

Clumsily entangled in the folds of his sweater, he struggled to emerge.
Tompkins, amid a roar of laughter, caught the arms and freed him,
grinning at the impetuousness with which Stover went scudding out.

On the way he passed the man he was replacing, returning rebelliously
with a half antagonistic, half apprehensive glance at him.

"Take left end on the scrub," said Dana, who was not in the line of
scrimmage. "Farley, give him the signals."

The scrub quarter hastily poured into his ears the simple code. He took
up his position. The play was momentarily halted by one of the coaches,
who was hauling the center men over the coals. Opposite Stover, Bangs,
senior, was standing, legs spread, hands on his hips, looking at him
with a look Stover never forgot. For three years he had plugged along
his way, doggedly holding his place in the scrubs, patiently waiting for
the one opportunity to come. Now, at last, after the years of servitude,
standing on the coveted side of the line, suddenly here was a freshman
with a big reputation come in the challenge that might destroy all the
years of patience and send him back into the oblivion of the scrubs.

Stover understood the appealing fury of the look, even in all the
pitilessness of his ambition. Something sharp went through him at the
thought of the man for whose position, ruthlessly, fiercely, he was
beginning to fight.

Five or six coaches, always under the direction of Case, head coach,
were moving restlessly about the field, watching for the first
rudimentary faults. One or two gave him quick appraising looks. Stover,
moving restlessly back and forth, his eyes on the ground, too conscious
of the general curiosity, awaited the moment of action. The discussion
around the center ended.

"Varsity take the ball," called out Dana; "get into it, every one!"

The two lines sprang quickly into position, the coaches, nervous and
vociferous, jumping behind the unfortunate objects of their wrath, while
the air was filled with shrieked advice and exhortation.

"On the jump, there, Biggs!"

"Charge low!"

"Oh, get down, get down!"

"Break up this play!"

"Wake up!"

"Smash into it!"

"Charge!"

"Now!"

"Block that man!"

"Throw him back!"

"Get behind!"

"Push him on!"

"Shove him on!"

"Get behind and shove!"

"Shove!"

"Shove! Oh, shove!"

Attack and defense were still crude. The play had gone surging around
the opposite end, but in a halting way, the runner impeded by his own
interference. Stover, sweeping around at full speed, was able to down
the half from behind, just as the interference succeeded in clearing
the way. At once it was a chorus of angry shouts, each coach descending
on the particular object of his wrath.

"Beautiful!"

"You're a wonder!"

"What are you doing,--growing to the ground?"

"What did I tell you?"

"Say, interference, is this a walking match?"

"Wonderful speed--almost got away from the opposite end."

"Say, Charley, a fast lot of backs we've got."

"Line 'em up!"

Two or three plays through the center, struggling and squirming in the
old fashion of football, were succeeded by several tries at his side.
Stover, besides three years' hard drilling, had a natural gift of
diagnosis, which, with the savagery of his tackling, made him, even at
this period, an unusual end, easily the best of the candidates on the
field. He stood on guard, turning inside the attack, or running along
with it and gradually forcing his man out of bounds. At other times he
went through the loose interference and caught his man with a solid
lunge that was not to be denied.

The varsity being forced at last to kick, Bangs came out opposite him
for that running scrimmage to cover a punt that is the final test of an
end.

Stover, dropping a little behind, confident in his measure of the man,
caught him with his shoulder on the start, throwing him off balance for
a precious moment, and then followed him down the field, worrying him
like a sheep-dog pursuing a rebellious member of his flock, and caught
him at the last with a quick lunge at the knees that sent him sprawling
out of the play. Up on his feet in a minute, Stover went racing after
his fullback, in time to give the impetus of his weight that sent him
over his tackle, falling forward.

"How in blazes did that scrub end get back here?" shouted out Harden, a
coach, a famous end himself. He came up the field with Bangs, grabbing
him by the shoulder, gesticulating furiously, his fist flourishing,
crying:

"Here, Dana, give us that play over again!"

A second time Bangs sought to elude Stover, goaded on by the taunts of
Harden, who accompanied them. Quicker in speed and with a power of
instinctive application of his strength, Stover hung to his man, putting
him out of the play despite his frantic efforts.

Harden, furious, railed at him.

"What! You let a freshman put you out of the play? Where's your pride?
In the name of Heaven do something! Why, they're laughing at you,
Ben,--they're giving you the laugh!"

Bangs, senior society man, manager of the crew, took the driving and the
leash without a protest, knowing though he did that the trouble was
beyond him--that he was up against a better man.

Suddenly Harden turned on Stover, who, a little apart, was moving
uneasily, feeling profoundly sorry for the tanning Bangs was receiving
on his account.

"Look here, young fellow, you're not playing that right."

Stover was amazed.

"What's the first thing you've got to think about when you follow down
your end?"

"Keep him out of the play," said Stover.

"Never!" Harden seized him by the jersey, attacking with his long
expostulating forefinger, just as he had laid down the law to Bangs.
"Never! That's grand-stand playing, my boy; good for you, rotten for the
team. The one thing you've got to do first, last, and always, is to
know where the ball is and what's happening to it. Understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"Now you didn't do that. You went down with your eyes on your man only,
didn't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"You never looked at your back to see if he fumbled, did you?"

"No, sir."

"And if he had, where'd you have been? If he holds it all right, knock
over your end, but if he fumbles you've got to beat every one to it and
recover it. You're one of eleven men, not a newspaper phenomenon--get
that in your head. You didn't know I was trying you out as well as
Bangs. Now let it sink into you. Do you get it?"

"Yes, sir, thank you," said Stover, furious at himself, for if there was
one thing that was instinctive in him it was this cardinal quality of
following the ball and being in every play.

It was a day of the hardest, trying alike to the nerves of coaches and
men, when the teams were driven without a rest, when tempers were
strained to the snapping point, in the effort to instil not so much the
details of the game as the inflaming spirit of combat.

It was dusk before the coaches called a halt to the practise and sent
them, steaming and panting, aching in every joint, back to the gymnasium
for a rub-down.

Climbing wearily into the car to sink gratefully into a seat, Dink
suddenly, to his confusion, found himself by the side of Bangs.

"Hello," said the senior, looking up with a grin, "I hope every muscle
in your body's aching."

"It certainly is," said Stover, relieved.

Bangs looked at him a long moment, shook his head, and said:

"I wish I could drop a ton of brick on you."

"Why?"

"I've plugged away for years, slaved like a nigger at this criminal
game, thought I was going to get my chance at last, and now you come
along."

"Oh, I say," said Stover in real confusion.

"Oh, I'll make you fight for it," said the other, with a snap of his
jaws. "But, boy, there's one thing I liked. When that old rhinoceros of
a Harden was putting the hooks into me, you never eased up for a
second."

"I knew you'd feel that way."

"If you'd done differently I'd slaughtered you," said Bangs. "Well, good
luck to you!"

He smiled, but back of the smile Stover saw the cruel cut of
disappointment.

And this feeling was stronger in him than any feeling of elation as he
returned to his rooms, after the late supper. He had never known
anything like the fierceness of that first practise. It was not play
with the zest he loved, it was a struggle of ambitions with all the
heartache that lay underneath. He had gone out to play, and suddenly
found himself in a school for character, enchained to the discipline of
the Cæsars, where the test lay in stoicism and the victory was built on
the broken hopes of a comrade.

For the first time, a little appalled, he felt the weight of the
seriousness, the deadly seriousness of the American spirit, which seizes
on everything that is competition and transforms it, with the savage
fanaticism of its race, for success.



CHAPTER VII


After a week of grueling practise, the first game of the season came
like a holiday. Stover was called out after the first few minutes,
replacing Bangs, and remained until the close. He played well, aided by
several fortunate opportunities, earning at the last a pat on the back
from Dana which sent him home rejoicing. The showing of the team was
disappointing, even for that early season. The material was plainly
lacking in the line, and at full-back the kicking was lamentably weak.
The coaches went off with serious faces; throughout the college
assembled on the stands was a spreading premonition of disaster.

Saturday night was privileged, with the long, grateful Sunday morning
sleep ahead.

"Dink, ahoy!" shouted McNab's cheerful voice over the banister, as he
entered the house.

"Hello, there!"

"How's the boy wonder, the only man-eating Dink in captivity?"

"Tired as the deuce."

"Fine. First rate," said McNab, skipping down. "Forget the past, think
only of the bright furniture. We've got a block of tickets for Poli's
Daring-Dazzling-Delightful Vaudeville to-night. You're elected. We'll
end up with a game at Reynolds'. Seen the _Evening Register_?"

"No."

"My boy, you are famous," said McNab, brandishing a paper. "I'm
lovelier, but you get the space. Never mind, I'll be arrested
soon--anything to get in the papers!"

While McNab's busy tongue ran on, Stover was gazing at the account of
the game, where, among the secondary headlines, there stared out at him
the caption:


     STOVER, A FRESHMAN, PLAYS
         SENSATIONAL GAME.


The thing was too incredible. He stood stupidly looking at it.

"How do you feel?" said McNab, taking his pulse professionally.

There was no answer Stover could give to that first throbbing sensation
at seeing his name--his own name--in print. It left him confused, almost
a little frightened.

"Why, Dink, you're modest," said the irrepressible McNab; and, throwing
open the door, he shouted at the top of his voice: "I say, fellows, come
down and see Dink blush."

A magnificent scrimmage, popularly known as a "rough house," ensued, in
which McNab was properly chastised, though not a whit subdued.

McCarthy arrived late, with the freshman eleven, back from a close
contest with a school team. They took a hurried supper, and went down a
dozen strong, in jovial marching order.

The sensations of the theater were still new to Stover, nor had his
fortunate eye seen under the make-up or his imagination gone below the
laughter. To parade down the aisle, straight as a barber's pole, chin
carefully balanced on the sharp edge of his collar, on the night of his
first day as end on the Yale varsity, delightfully conscious of his own
startling importance, feeling as if he over-topped every one in the most
public fashion, to be absolutely blushingly conscious that every one in
the theater must, too, be grasping a copy of that night's _Evening
Register_, that every glance had started at his arrival and was
following in set admiration, was a memory he was never to forget. His
shoulders thrown up a little, just a little in accentuation, as behooved
an end with a reputation for tackling, he found his seat and, dropping
down quickly to escape observation, buried himself in his program to
appear modest before the burning concentration of attention which he was
quite sure must now be focused on him.

"Dobbs and Benzigger, the fellows who smash the dishes--by George,
that's great!" cried McNab, joyfully running over the program. "They're
wonders--a perfect scream!"

"Any good dancing?" said Hungerford, and a dozen answers came:

"You bet there is!"

"Fanny Lamonte--a dream, Joe!"

"Daintiest thing you ever saw."

"Sweetest little ankles!"

"Who's this coming--the Six Templeton Sisters?"

"Don't know."

"Well, here they come."

"They've got to be pretty fine for me!"

Enthroned as lords of the drama, they pronounced their infallible
judgments. Every joke was new, every vaudeville turn an occasion for a
gale of applause. The appearance of the "Six Templetons" was the
occasion of a violent discussion between the adherents of the blondes
and the admirers of the brunettes, led by the impressionable McNab.

"I'm all for the peach in the middle!"

"Ah, rats! She's got piano legs. Look at the fighting brunette at this
end."

"Why, she's got a squint."

"Squint nothing; she's winking at me."

"Yes, she is!"

"Watch me get her eye!"

Stover, of course, preserved an attitude of necessary dignity, gently
tolerant of the rakish sentimentalities of the younger members of the
flock. Moreover, he was supremely aware that the sparkling eyes under
the black curls (were they real?) were not looking at McNab, but
intensely directed at his own person--all of which, as she could not
have read the _Register_, was a tribute to his own personal and not
public charms.

The lights, the stir of the audience, the boxes filled with the upper
classmen, the gorgeous costumes, the sleepy pianist pounding out the
accompaniments while accomplishing the marvelous feat of reading a
newspaper, were all things to him of fascination. But his eye went not
to the roguish professional glances, but lost itself somewhere above
amid the ragged drops and borders. He was transported into the wonders
of Dink-land, where one figure ran a hundred adventures, where a hundred
cheers rose to volley forth one name, where a dozen games were passed in
a second, triumphant, dazzling, filled with spectacular conflicts,
blurred with frantic crowds of blue, ending always in surging
black-hatted rushes that tossed him victoriously toward the stars!

"Let's cut out," said McNab's distinct voice. "There's nothing but
xylophones and coons left."

"Come on over to Reynolds's."

"Start up the game."

Reluctantly, fallen to earth again, Stover rose and followed them out.
In a moment they had passed through the fragrant casks and bottles that
thronged the passage, saluting the statesmanly bulk of Hugh Reynolds,
and found themselves in a back room, already floating in smoke. White,
accusing lights of bracketed lamps picked out the gray features of a
dozen men vociferously rolling forth a drinking chorus, while the magic
arms of Buck Waters, his falcon's nose and little muzzle eyes, dominated
the whole. A shout acclaimed them:

"Yea, fellows!"

"Shove in here!"

"Get into the game."

"Bartender, a little more of that brutalizing beer!"

"Cheese and pretzels!"

"Hello, Tough McCarthy!"

"Over here, Dopey McNab."

"Get into the orchestra."

"Good boy, Stover!"

"Congratulations!"

"Oh, Dink Stover, have we your eye?"

The last call, caught up by every voice, went swelling in volume,
accompanied by a general uplifting of mugs and glasses. It was the
traditional call to a health.

"I'd like to oblige," said Dink, a little embarrassed, "but I'm in
training."

"That's all right--hand him a soft one."

For the first time he perceived that there was a perfect freedom in the
choice of beverage. He bowed, drained his glass, and sat down.

"Oh, Dopey McNab, have we your eye?"

"You certainly have, boys, and I'm no one-eyed man at that," said
McNab, jovially disappearing down a mug, while the room in chorus
trolled out:


     "_Drink the wine divine_
     _As long as you can stand it._
     _Hand the bowl around_
     _As long as you can hand it._
     _Drink your glass,_
     _Drink your glass,_
     _Dri-i-i-i-ink--he's drunk it down._"


"Oh, Jim Hunter, have we your eye?"

Each new arrival in turn, called to his feet, rose and drained his glass
to a hilarious accompaniment, while Stover, to his surprise, noted that
fully a third of the crowd were ordering soft drinks.

"Oh, Dink Stover, here's to _you_!"

From across the table Tommy Bain, lifting his glass of ginger ale,
smiled a gracious smile.

"Same to you, Tommy Bain."

The fellow who had addressed him was a leader among the Hotchkiss crowd,
out for coxswain, already spoken of for one of the class managerships.
He was a diminutive type, immaculately neat, black hair exactly parted
and unflurried, well jacketed, turn-down collar embellished with a
red-and-yellow four-in-hand, a rather large, bulbous nose, and thin eyes
that were never quiet--shrewd, direct, inquisitive, always estimating.
He was smiling again, raising his glass to some one else down the table,
and the smile that passed easily over his lips had the quality of
seeming to come from the heart.

McNab and Buck Waters, natural leaders of the revels, arms locked, were
giving a muscular exhibition of joint conducting, while the room in
chorus sang:


     "_Should fortune prove unkind,_
     _Should fortune prove unfair,_
     _A cure I have in mind_
     _To drive away all care._"


"By George!" said Hungerford, at his side, laughing, "it's good to be in
the game at last, isn't it, Dink?"

"It certainly is."

"We've got a great crowd; it's going to be a great class."

"Who's Bain?" said Dink, under his breath.

"Bain--oh, he's a clever chap, probably be a class deacon. That's
another good thing about this place: we can all get together and drink
what we want."

"Chorus!" cried McNab and Waters, with a twin flourish of their arms.

"Chorus!" shouted Hungerford and Bain, raising their glasses in
accompaniment.


     "_For to-night we will be merry_
     _As the rosy wine we drink--_
     _The rosy wine we drink!_"


"Yea!"

"A little more close harmony!"

A great shout acclaimed the chorus and another song was started.

Hunter and Bain were opposite each other, surrounded as it were by
adherents, each already aware of the other, measuring glances, serious,
unrelaxing, never unbending, never departing a moment from the careful
attitude of critical aloofness. In the midst of the rising hilarity and
the rebellious joy of newly gained liberty, the two rival leaders sat
singing, but not of the song, the same placid, maliciously superior
smile floating over the perfectly controlled lips of Bain, while in the
anointed gaze of Hunter was a ponderous seriousness which at that age is
ascribed to a predestined Napoleonic melancholy.

"Solo from Buck Waters!"

"Solo!"

"On the chair!"

"Yea, Buck Waters!"

Yielding to the outcry Waters was thrust upward.

"The cowboy orchestra!"

"Give us the cowboy orchestra!"

"The cowboy orchestra, ladies and gentlemen."

With a wave of his hand he organized the room into drums, bugles, and
trombones, announcing:

"The orchestra will tune up and play this little tune,


     "'_Ta-de-dee-ra-ta-ra-ta-rata,_
     _Ta-de-dee-ra-ta-ra-ta-rata-ta!_'


"All ready? Lots of action there--a little more cyclonic from the
trombones. Fine! Whenever I give the signal the orchestra will burst
forth into that melodious refrain. I will now give an imitation of a
professional announcer at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and Congress of
Rough Riders. Orchestra:


     "_Ta-de-dee-rata-rata-rata_
     _Ta-de-dee-rata-rata-rata-ta!_"


While Waters, with his great comical face shining above the gleeful
crowd like a harvest moon rising from the lake, continued endlessly
drawling out his nasal imitations, the crowd, for the first time welded
together, rocked and shouted out the farcical chorus. When he had ended,
Buck Waters sat down, enthroned forever afterward master of song and
revels.

Bain began to cast estimating glances, calculating on the moment to
leave. At the other end Waters was fairly smothered under the rush of
delighted comrades, patting him on the back, acclaiming his rise to
fame. The tables settled down into a sentimental refrain led by Stone's
clear tenor.

Dink's glance, traveling down the table, was suddenly attracted by the
figure of a young fellow with a certain defiant yet shy individuality in
its pose.

"Who's the rather dark chap just beyond Dopey?" he asked Hungerford.

"Don't know; ask Schley."

"Brockhurst--Sidney Brockhurst," said Schley, not lowering his voice,
"from Hill School. Trying for the _Lit_. Clever chap, they say, but a
little long-haired."

Stover studied him, his curiosity awakened. Brockhurst, of all present,
seemed the most solitary and the most self-conscious. He had a long
head, high, thin cheeks, and a nervous little habit, when intent or
conscious of being watched, of drawing his fingers over his lips. His
head was thrown back a little proudly, but the eyes contradicted this
attitude, with the acute shyness in them that clouded a certain keen
imaginative scrutiny.

At this moment his eyes met Stover's. Dink, yielding to an instinct,
raised his glass and smiled. Brockhurst hastily seized his mug in
response, spilling a little of it and dropping his glance quickly. Once
or twice, as if unpleasantly conscious of the examination, he turned
uneasily.

"He looks rather interesting," said Stover thoughtfully.

"Think so?" said Schley. "Rather freaky to me."

Suddenly a shout went up:

"Come in!"

"Yea, Sheff!"

"Yea, Tom Kelly!"

The narrow doorway was suddenly alive with a boisterous, rollicking
crowd of Sheff freshmen, led by Tom Kelly, a short, roly-poly, alert
little fellow with a sharp pointing nose and a great half-moon of a
mouth.

"Come in, Kelly!"

"Crowd in, fellows!"

"Oh, Tom, join us!"

"I will _not_ come in," said Kelly, with a certain painful beery
assumption of dignity. He balanced himself a moment, steadied by his
neighbors; and then, to the delight of the room, began, with the utmost
gravity, one of his inimitable imitations of the lords that sit
enthroned in the faculty.

"I come, not to stultify myself in the fumes of liquor, but to do you
good. Beer is brutalizing. With your kind permission, I will whistle you
a few verses of a noble poem on same subject."

[Illustration: "'I COME NOT TO STULTIFY MYSELF IN THE FUMES OF LIQUOR,
BUT TO DO YOU GOOD'"--_Page 89._]

"Whistle, Tom?"

"The word was whistle," said Kelly sternly. Extending his arm for
silence, he proceeded, with great intensity and concentrated facial
expression, to whistle a sort of improvisation. Then, suddenly ceasing,
he continued:

"And what does this beautiful, ennobling little thing teach us, written
by a great mind, one of the greatest, greatest minds--what does it teach
us?"

"Well, what does it teach?" said one or two voices, after Kelly had
preserved a statuesque pose beyond the limits of their curiosity.

"Ask me," said Kelly, with dignity.

"Mr. Kelly," said McNab rising seriously, "what does this little gem of
intellectuality, this as it were psycho-therapeutical cirrhosis of a
paleontological state,--you get my meaning, of course,--that is, from
the point of view of modern introspective excavations, with due regard
to whatever the sixth dimension, considered as such, may have of
influence, and allowing that a certain amount of error is inherent in
Spanish cooking if eggs are boiled in a chafing-dish--admitting all
this, I ask you a simple question. Do you understand me?"

"Perfectly," said Kelly, who had followed this serious harangue with
strained attention. "And, moreover, I agree with you."

"You agree?" said McNab, feigning surprise.

"I do."

"Sir, you are a congenial soul. Shake hands."

But, in the act of stealing this sudden friendship, Kelly brought forth
his hand, when it was perceived that he was tightly clutching a
pool-ball, and, moreover, that his pockets were bulging like a sort of
universal mumps with a dozen inexplicable companions. A shout went up:

"Why, he's swallowed a frame of pool-balls!"

"He certainly has."

"He's swiped them."

"He's wrecked a pool-room."

"How the deuce did he do it?"

"Why, Tom, where did you get 'em?"

"Testimonial--testimonial of affection," replied Kelly, "literally
showered on me."

"Tom, you stole them."

"I did not steal them!"

"Tom, you stole them!"

"Tom, O Tom!"

Kelly, who had proceeded to empty his pockets for an exhibition,
becoming abruptly offended at the universal shouted accusation,
repocketed the pool-balls and departed, despite a storm of protest and
entreaties, carrying with him McNab.

A number of the crowd were passing beyond control; others, inflexible,
smiling, continued in their attitude of spectators, Brockhurst because
he could not forget himself, Hunter and Bain because they would not.

"Time for us to be cutting out," said Hunter, with a glance at his
watch. "What about it, Stover?"

Dink was annoyed that he had not made the move himself. McCarthy,
Hungerford, and one or two of the freshman candidates arose. A shout
went up from the noisy end of the table.

"Here! no quitting!"

"Cowards!"

"Come back!"

"Shut up; it's the football crowd!"

"Oh, football, eh?"

"Right."

"Splendid!"

Stover with a serious face, shook hands with Troutman, a red-haired
fellow with sharp advancing features who said impressively:

"Mr. Stover, I wish to express for my friends the gratification, the
extreme gratification, the extreme moral gratification we feel at seeing
a football--a football candidate showing such moral courage--moral--it's
wonderful--it moves me. Mr. Stover, I'd like to shake your hand."

Dink laughed and escaped, seeing, in a last glance at the vaporous
fitful room, Troutman solemnly giving his hand to Waters, whom he was
congratulating on his extreme moral courage in remaining.

Tommy Bain, in the confusion, slipped out unnoticed and joined them.
The last swollen burst of the song was shut from them. They went back
toward the campus in twos and threes, over the quiet, moist pavement,
past the noisy windows of Mory's--where no freshmen need apply--to the
Common, where suddenly, in the moonlit shadow of a great elm, they found
a vociferous group with Tom Kelly and McNab in the midst.

At this moment something fell from the skies within perilous distance.

"What the deuce is that?" said Hungerford, jumping back.

"Why, it's a pool-ball," said Stone, stooping down.

Another fell, just missing Hunter's shoulders.

"It's Kelly," said Bain, "and he's firing at us."

With a rush they joined the group, to find Kelly, determined and
enthusiastic, solemnly discharging his ammunition at the great bulbous
moon that was set lumberingly above them. They joined the group that
surrounded him, expostulating, sober or fuddled:

"Don't be an ass, Tom."

"The cops are coming."

"I say, come on home."

"How many more has he got?"

"Get him home, you fellows."

"Stop him."

Meanwhile, abetted by the admiring, delighted McNab, Tom Kelly, taking
the most solicitous aim, was continuing his serious efforts to hit the
moon with the pool-balls which he had procured no one knew how.

"I say, McNab," said Stover, drawing him aside, "better get him to stop
now. Too many cops around. Use your influence--he'll listen to you."

McNab's sense of responsibility having thus become violently agitated,
he wabbled up to the laboring Kelly, and the following historic dialogue
took place:

"I say, Tom, old fellow, you know me, don't you? You know I'm a good
sort, don't you--one of the finest?"

"I know you, Dopey McNab; I'm proud to know you."

"I want to speak a word with you seriously."

"What?"

"Seriously."

"Say on."

"Now, seriously, Tom, do you think you can hit it?"

"Don't know; going to try's much as in me. Biff!"

"Hold up," said McNab, staying his hand. "Tom, I'm going to appeal to
you as man to man."

"Appeal."

"You understand--as man to man."

"Sure."

"You're a man; I'm a man."

"The finest."

"Now as man to man, I'm going to tell you the truth."

"The whole truth?"

"Solemn truth."

"Tell on."

"You can't hit it."

"Why not?"

"Tom, it's too--too far away!"

The two shook hands solemnly and impressively.

"Can't hit it--too far away," said Kelly, with the pool-ball clutched
tight. "Too far away, eh?"

"My dear Tom," said McNab, tearfully breaking the news, "it's too
far--entirely too far away. You can't reach it, Tom; believe me, as man
to man--you can't, you can never, never hit it."

"I know I can't, Dopey," said Kelly, in an equally mournful tone, "I
know all that. All that you say is true. But, Dopey, suppose I _should_
hit it, suppose I _should_, just think--think--how my name would go
reeling and rocking down to fushure generations! Biff!"

They left McNab overcome by the impressiveness of this argument, busily
gathering up the pool-balls, resolved that every opportunity should be
given Kelly to rank among the immortals.

Stover would have liked to stay. For the moment, almost a rebellion
swept over him at the drudgery to which he had condemned himself in his
ambition. He saw again the low table, through the smoke, and Buck
Waters's jovial pagan face leading the crowd in lazy, care-free abandon.
He felt that liberty, that zest of life, that wild spirit of youth for
which he yearned and of which he had been defrauded by Le Baron's hand,
that hand which had ruthlessly torn away the veil. Something leaped up
within him--a longing to break the harness, to jump the gate and go
heels in the air, cavorting across unfenced meadows. He rebelled against
the way that had been marked out for him. He rebelled against the
self-imposed discipline, and, most of all, he rebelled against the
hundred eyes under whose inspection he must now inevitably walk.

Ahead of them to the left, across by Osborne, came the gay, defiant
singing of a group of upper classmen returning to the campus:


     "_For it's always fair weather_
     _When good fellows stand together,_
     _With a stein on the table_
     _And a good song ringing clear._"


The echo came to him with a certain grim mockery. There would be very
little of that for him. It was to be four years, not of pleasure and
inclination, but of seriousness and restraint, if he continued in his
decision. For a moment the pagan in him prevailed, and he doubted. Then
they passed across High Street, and at their sides the dead shadow of
the society tomb suddenly intruded upon them. Which of the group at the
end of the long three years would be of the chosen? Which would lead?

"Well, fellows, we go this way," said Bain's methodical voice. "Drop
around at the rooms soon. Good night."

Stover, Hunter, and Bain for the moment found themselves together, each
striving for the same social honor, each conscious that, whatever an
established system might bring to them, with its enforced comradeship,
among them would always be the underlying contending spirit of variant
ambitions.

Stover felt it keenly, almost with a sharp antagonism that drove from
him finally the slumbering rebellion he had felt all that night--the
tugging at the bridle of consciousness which had been imposed upon him.
This was a bigger thing, a thing that wakened in him the great instincts
of combat. He would be a leader among leaders. He would succeed as
success was reckoned.

He gave a little laugh and held out his hand to Hunter.

"Good night, Jim," he said.

"Why--good night," said Hunter, surprised at the laugh and the
unnecessary handshake.

But the hand had been offered in challenge, and the laugh marked the
final deliberate acceptance of all that Le Baron had logically exposed
to him.

"I'll play the game, and I'll play it better than they will," he said,
setting his lips. "I've got my eyes open, and I'm not going to throw
away a single chance. We'll see who'll lead!"



CHAPTER VIII


The intensity and seriousness of the football season abetted Stover in
his new attitude of Napoleonic seclusion by leaving him little time for
the lighter side of college pleasures. Every hour was taken up with the
effort of mastering his lessons, which he then regarded, in common with
the majority of his class, as a laborious task, a sort of necessary
evil, the price to be paid for the privilege of passing four years in
pleasant places with congenial companions.

After supper he returned immediately to his rooms, where presently a
succession of visiting sophomores, members of the society campaign
committees, took up the first hours. These inquisitorial delegations,
formal, stiff, and conducted on a basis of superior investigation,
embarrassed him at first. But this feeling soon wore off with the
consciousness that he was a subject of dispute; and, secure in the
opportunity that would come to him with the opening of the winter-term
period of elections, his interest was directed only to the probable
selection among his classmates.

By the middle of October the situation at Yale field had become
critical. The earlier games had demonstrated what had been foreseen--the
weakness and inexperience of the raw material in hand. Serious errors in
policy were committed by Captain Dana, who, in the effort to find some
combination which would bolster up the weak backfield, began a constant
shifting of the positions in order to experiment with heavier men
behind the line. A succession of minor injuries arrived to further the
disorganization. The nervousness of the captain communicated itself to
the team, harassed and driven in the effort for accomplishment. That
there was serious opposition among the coaches to these new groping
policies every man saw plainly; yet, to Stover's amazement, the
knowledge remained within the team, impregnated with the spirit of
loyalty and discipline.

After three weeks of brilliancy at his natural position of end, buoyed
up by the zest of confidence and success, he was abruptly called to one
side.

"Stover, you've played behind the line, haven't you?" said Dana.

"A couple of games at school, sir," he answered hastily, "just as a
makeshift."

"I'm going to try you at fullback."

"At fullback?"

"Get into it and see if you can make good."

"Yes, sir."

He went without spirit, sure of the impossibility of the thing, feeling
only the humiliation and failure that all at once flung itself like a
storm-cloud across his ambition. A coach took charge of him, running
over with him the elementary principles of blocking and plunging.

When he lined up, it was with half of the coaching force at his back.

"Come on, Stover; get into it!"

"Wake up!"

"Get your head down!"

"Keep a-going!"

"Ram into it!"

"Knock that man over!"

"Knock him _over_!"

He went into the line blindly, frantically, feeling for the first time
that last exhausting, lunging expenditure of strength that is called
forth with the effort to fall forward when tackled. Nothing he did
satisfied. It was a constant storm of criticism, behind his back, in his
ears, shrieked to his face:

"Keep your feet--oh, keep your feet!"

"Smash open that line!"

"Rip open that line!"

"Hit it--hit it!"

"Hard--harder!"

"Go on--don't stop!"

A dozen times he flung his meager weight against the ponderous bodies of
the center men, crushed by the impact in front, smothered by the surging
support of his own line behind, helpless in the grinding contention,
turned and twisted, going down in a heap amid the shock of bodies,
thinking always:

"Well, the darn fools will find out just about how much use I am here!"

When the practise ended, at last, Dana called on Tompkins.

"Joe, take Stover and give him a line on the punting, will you?"

"I say, he's been worked pretty hard," said the coach with a glance.

"How about it?" said Dana quickly.

"All right," said Stover, lying gloriously. At that moment, aching in
every joint, he would have given everything to have spoken his mind.
Instead he brought forth a smile distinguished for its eagerness, and
said, "I'd like to get right at it, sir."

"Fullback's the big problem," said Tompkins, as they started across the
field. "Bangs can fill in at end, but we've got to get a fullback that
can catch punts, and with nerve enough to get off his kicks in the face
of that Princeton line."

"I'll do my best, sir," said Stover, with a sinking feeling.

For twenty minutes, against the rebellion of his body, he went through a
rigorous lesson, improving a little in the length of his punts, and
succeeding fairly well in holding the ball, which came spinning end over
end to him from the region of the clouds.

"That'll do," said Tompkins, at last.

"That's all?" said Stover stoically, picking up his sweater.

"That's all." Tompkins, watching him for a moment, said suddenly:
"Stover, I don't know whether Dana'll keep you at full or not, but I
guess you'll have to get ready to fill in. Come over to the gym lot
every morning for about half an hour, and we'll see if we can't work up
those punts."

"Yes, sir."

They walked out together.

"Stover, look here," said Tompkins abruptly, "I'm going to speak
straight to you, because I think you'll keep your mouth shut. We're in a
desperate condition here, and you know it. There's only one man in
charge at Yale, now and always, and that's the captain. That's our
system, and we stand or fall by it; and in order that we can follow him
four times out of five to victory, we've got sometimes to shut our eyes
and follow him down to defeat. Do you get me?"

"I think I do."

"No matter what happens, no criticism of the captain--no talking
outside. You may think he's wrong, you may know he's wrong, but you've
got to grin and bear it. That's all. Remember it--a close mouth!"

But it required all Stover's newly learned stoicism to maintain this
attitude in the weeks that arrived. After a week he was suddenly
returned to his old position, and as suddenly redrafted to fullback when
another game had displayed the inadequacy of the regular. From a
position where he was familiar with all the craft of the game, Stover
suddenly found himself a novice whom a handful of coaches sought
desperately to develop by dint of hammering and driving. His name no
longer figured in the newspaper accounts as the find of the season, but
as Stover the weak spot on the eleven. It was a rude discipline, and
more than once he was on the point of crying out at what seemed to him
the useless sacrifice. But he held his tongue as he saw others, seniors,
put to the same test and giving obedience without a word of criticism
for the captain, who, as every one realized, face to face with a
hopeless outcome, was gradually going to pieces.

Meanwhile Dopey McNab was just as zealously concerned in the pursuit of
his classic ideal, which, however, was imagined more along the lines of
such historic scholars as Verdant Green, Harry Foker, and certain heroes
of his favorite author, Charles Lever.

The annoyance of recitations by an economical imagination he converted
into periods of repose and refreshing slumber behind the broad back of
McMasters, who, for a certain fixed portion of tobacco a week, agreed to
act as a wall in moments of calm and to awake him with a kick on the
shins when the summons to refuse to recite arrived.

Having discovered Buck Waters as a companionable soul, congenially
inclined to the pagan view of life, it was not long before the two
discovered the third completing genius in the person of Tom Kelly, who,
though a member of the Sheff freshman class, immediately agreed not to
let either time, place, or conflicting recitations stand in the way of
that superior mental education which must result from the friction of
three such active imaginations.

The triumvirate was established on a firm foundation on the day after
Kelly's ambitious but unsuccessful attempt to hit the moon with a
pool-ball, and immediately began a series of practical jokes and larks
which threatened to terminate abruptly the partnership or remove it
bodily to an unimaginative outer world.

McNab, like most gentlemen of determined leisure, worked indefatigably
every minute of the day. Having slept through chapel and first
recitation, with an occasional interruption to rise and say with great
dignity "Not prepared," he would suddenly, about ten o'clock in the
morning, awake with a start, and drifting into Stover's room plaster his
nose to the window and restlessly ask himself what mischief he could
invent for the day.

After a moment of dissatisfied introspection, he would say fretfully:

"I say, Dink?"

"Hello!"

"Studying?"

"Yes."

"Almost finished?"

"No."

"What are you doing, McCarthy?"

"Boning out an infernal problem in spherical geometry."

"I gave that up."

"Oh, you did!"

"Sure, it's too hard--what's the use of wasting time over it, then?
What do you say to a game of pool?"

"Get out!"

"Let's go for a row up on Lake Whitney."

"Shut up!"

"Come over to Sheffield and get up a game of poker with Tom Kelly."

At this juncture, Stover and McCarthy rising in wrath, McNab would beat
a hurried retreat, dodging whatever came sailing after him. Much
aggrieved, he would go down the hall, trying the different doors, which
had been locked against his approach.

About this time Buck Waters, moved by similar impulses, would appear and
the two would camp down on the top step and practise duets, until a
furious uprising in the house would drive them ignominiously on to the
street.

Left to their own resources, they would wander aimlessly about the city,
inventing a hundred methods to accomplish the most difficult of all
feats, killing time.

On one particular morning in early November, McNab and Buck Waters,
being refused admission to three houses on York Street, and the affront
being aggravated by jeers and epithets of the coarsest kind, went arm in
arm on mischief bent.

"I say, what let's do?" said McNab disconsolately.

"We must do something new," said Buck Waters.

"We certainly must."

"Well, let's try the old clothes gag," said McNab; "that always amuses a
little."

Reaching the thoroughfare of Chapel Street, McNab stationed himself at
the corner while Waters proceeded to a point about half-way down the
block.

Assuming a lounging position against a lamp-post, McNab waited until
chance delivered up to him a superhumanly dignified citizen in top hat
and boutonnière, moving through the crowd with an air of solid
importance.

Darting out, he approached with the sweep of an eagle, saying in a
hoarse whisper:

"Old clothes, any old clothes, sir?"

His victim, frowning, accelerated his pace.

"Buy your old clothes, sir, buy 'em now."

Several onlookers stopped and looked. The gentleman, who had not turned
to see who was addressing him, said hurriedly in an undertone:

"No, no, nothing to-day."

"Buy 'em to-morrow--pay good price," said McNab peevishly.

"No, no, nothing to sell."

"Call around at the house--give good prices."

"Nothing to sell, nothing, I tell you!"

"Buy what you got on," said McNab at the psychological moment, "give you
five dollars or toss you ten or nothinks!"

"Be off!" said the now thoroughly infuriated victim, turning and
brandishing his cane. "I'll have you arrested."

McNab, having accomplished his preliminary rôle, retreated to a safe
distance, exclaiming:

"Toss you ten dollars or nothinks!"

The now supremely self-conscious and furious gentleman, having rid
himself of McNab, immediately found himself in the hands of Buck Waters,
who pursued him for the remainder of the block, with a mild obsequious
persistency that would not be shaken off. By this time the occupants of
the shop windows and the loiterers, perceiving the game, were in roars
of laughter, which made the passage of the second and third victims a
procession of hilarious triumph for McNab and Waters.

Tiring of this, they locked arms again and, taking by hazard a side
street, continued their quest for adventure.

"Mornings are a dreadful bore," said McNab, pulling down his hat.

"They certainly are."

"Who was the old duck we tackled first?"

"Don't know--familiar whiskers."

"Seemed to me I've seen him somewhere."

"Say, look at the ki-yi."

"It's a Shetland poodle."

"It's a pen-wiper."

Directly in front of them a shaggy French poodle, bearing indeed a
certain resemblance to both a Shetland pony and a discarded pen-wiper,
was gleefully engaged in the process of shaking to pieces a rubber which
it had stolen.

"If it sees itself in a mirror it will die of mortification," said Buck
Waters.

"And yet, Buck, he's happier than we are," said McNab, who had been
unjustifiably forced to flunk twice in one morning's recitation.

"I say, Dopey," said Waters in alarm, "quit that!"

"I will."

"Look at the fireworks," said Waters, stopping suddenly at a window,
"pin-wheels, rockets, Roman candles."

"What are they doing there this time of the year?" said McNab angrily.

"Election parade, perhaps."

"That's an idea to work on, Buck."

"It certainly is."

"We must tell Tom Kelly about that."

"We will."

"Why, there's that ridiculous ki-yi again!"

"He seems to like us."

"I'm not complimented."

At this moment, with the poodle sporting the rubber about fifteen feet
ahead of them, they beheld an Italian barber lolling in the doorway of
his shop, as profoundly bored by himself as they affected to be in
conjunction.

"Fine dog," said the barber with a critical glance.

"Sure," said McNab, halting at once.

The poodle, for whatever reason, likewise halted and looked around.

"Looka better, cutta da hair."

"You're right there, Columbus," assented Buck Waters. "His fur coat
looks as though it came from a fire sale."

"He ought to be trim up nice, good style."

"Right, very, very right!"

"Give him nice collar, nice tuft on da tail, nice tuft on da feet."

"Right the second time!"

"I clip him up, eh?" said the barber hopefully.

"Why not?" said McNab, looking into the depth of Buck Waters's eyes.

"Why not, Beecher?" said Waters, giving him the name of the President of
the College Y. M. C. A.

"I think it an excellent suggestion, Jonathan Edwards," said McNab
instantly.

With considerable strategic coaxing, the dog was enticed into the shop,
where to their surprise he became immediately docile.

"You see he lika da clip," said the barber enthusiastically, preparing a
table.

"He's a very intelligent dog," said McNab.

"You've done much of this, Columbus?" said Waters with a business-like
air.

"Sure. Ten, twenta dog a day, down in da city."

"Edwards, we shall learn something."

The dog was induced to come on the table, and Waters delegated to hold
him in position.

"Something pretty slick now, Christopher," said McNab, taking the
attitude a connoisseur should take. "Explain the fine points to us, as
you go along."

"Sure."

"I like the way he handles the scissors, Beecher--strong, powerful
stroke."

"He's got a good batting eye, too, Edwards."

"My, what a nice clean boulevard!"

"Just see the hair fly."

"It'll certainly improve the tail."

"Clip a little anchor in the middle of the back."

"Did you see that?"

"I did."

"He's a wonder."

"He is."

"Columbus, a little more off here--oh, just a trifle!"

"First rate; shave up the nose and part the whiskers!"

"Look at the legs, with the dinky pantalets--aren't they dreams?"

"I love the tail best."

"Why, Columbus is an artist. Never saw any one like him."

"Would you know the dog?"

"Why, mother wouldn't know him," said McNab solemnly.

"All in forty-three minutes, too."

"It's beautifully done, beautifully."

"Exquisite!"

The barber, perspiring with his ambitious efforts, withdrew for a final
inspection, clipped a little on the top and to the side, and signified
by a nod that art could go no further.

"Pretta fine, eh?"

"Mr. Columbus, permit me," said Waters, shaking hands.

McNab gravely followed suit. The dog, released, gave a howl and began
circling madly about the room.

"Open the door," shouted McNab. "See how happy he is!"

The three stationed themselves thoughtfully on the doorstep, watching
the liberated poodle disappear down the street in frantic spirals, loops
and figure-eights.

"He lika da feel," said the barber, pleased.

"Oh, he's much improved," said Waters, edging a little away.

"He fine lookin' a dog!"

"He'll certainly surprise the girls and mother," said McNab, shifting
his feet. "Well, Garibaldi, ta-ta!"

"Hold up," said the barber, "one plunk."

"One dollar, Raphael?" said Buck Waters in innocent surprise. "What for,
oh, what for?"

"One plunk, clippa da dog."

"Yes, but Garibaldi," said McNab gently, "that wasn't our dog."

"Shall we run for it?" said Waters, as they went hurriedly up the block.

"Wait until Garibaldi gives chase--we must be dignified," said McNab,
with an eye to the rear.

"Dagos have no sense of humor. Here he comes with a razor--scud for it!"

They dashed madly for the corner, doubled a couple of times, joined by
the rejuvenated friendly poodle, and suddenly, wheeling around a corner,
ran straight into the dean, who as fate would have it, was accompanied
by the very dignified citizen who had been the first victim of their old
clothes act and upon whom the frantic poodle, with canine expressions of
relief and delight, immediately cast himself.


"Buck," said McNab, half an hour later, as they went limply back,
"Napoleon would have whipped the British to an omelet at Waterloo if
he'd known about that sunken road."

"We are but mortals."

"How the deuce were we to know the pup belonged to Professor Borgle, the
eminent rootitologist?"

"Well, we paid the dago, didn't we?"

"That was outrageous."

"I say, Dopey, what'll you do if they fire us?"

"Don't joke on such subjects."

"Dopey," said Waters solemnly, "while the dean has the case under
consideration, just to aid his deliberations, I think we had
better--well, study a little."

"I suppose we must flirt with the text-books," said McNab, "but let's do
it together, so no one'll suspect."



CHAPTER IX


The last week of the football season broke over them before Stover could
realize that the final test was almost at hand. The full weight of the
responsibility that was on him oppressed him day and night. He forgot
what he had been at end; he remembered only his present inadequacy. It
had been definitely decided to keep him at fullback, for three things
were imperative in the weak backfield: some one who could catch punts,
with nerve enough to get off his kicks quickly in the face of a stronger
line, and above all some one on the last defense who would never miss
the tackle that meant a touchdown.

In the last week a great change took place in the sentiment of the
university--the hoping against hope that often arrives with the
intensity of combat. At this time Harvard and Yale were still
reluctantly estranged, due to a purely hypothetical question as to which
side had begun a certain historic slaughter, and the big game of the
season was with Princeton, which, under the leadership of Garry
Cockerell, Dink's first captain at Lawrenceville, had established a
record of unusual power and brilliancy.

Up to Monday of the last week, the opinion around the campus was
unanimous that the day of defeat had arrived; but, with the opening of
the week and the flocking in of the old players, a new spirit was
noticeable, and (among the freshmen) a tentative loosening of the
purse-strings on news of extra-insulting challenges from the South.

At the practise, the season's marked division among the coaches was
forgotten, and the field was alive with frantic assistants. The
scrimmage between the varsity and the scrub took on a savageness that
was sometimes difficult to control. The team, facing the impossible,
with eagerness to respond, had clearly overworked itself. Stover himself
weighed a bare one hundred and forty, an unspeakable depravity which he
carefully concealed.

Still, the team began to feel a new impulse and a new unity, inspired by
the confidence of the returned heroes. The grim silence of the past
began to be broken by hopeful comments.

"By George, I believe there's something in those boys."

"We've come up smiling before."

"We may do it again."

"Shouldn't be surprised if they gave those Princeton Tigers the fight of
their lives."

"Oh, they'll fight it out all right."

One or two trick plays were perpetrated behind closed gates, and a
thorough drill in a new method of breaking up the Princeton formation
for a kick, under the instruction of returning scouts. The team itself
began to question and wonder.

"That fellow Rivers certainly has stiffened us up in the center of the
line," said Regan, between plays, in one of his rare moments of
loquacity. "I've learned more in three days than in the whole darn
season."

"You've got to hold for my kicks," said Stover, submitting to the sponge
which Clancy, the trainer, was daubing over his face.

"We'll hold."

"What do you really think, Tom?" said Stover as they stood a little
apart, waiting for the scrimmage to be resumed. "Do you think there's a
chance?"

"I'm not thinking," said Regan, in his direct way. "Haven't any business
to think. But we're getting together, there's no doubt of that. If we
can't win, why, we'll lose as we ought to, and that's something."

Others were not so unruffled as Regan. The last days brought out all the
divergent ways in which fierce, combative natures approach a crisis.
Dana, the captain, was plainly on the edge of his self-control, his
forehead drawn in a constant frown, his glance shooting nervously back
and forth, speaking to no one except in the routine of the day. Dudley,
at the other half, had adopted the same attitude. De Soto at quarter, on
the contrary, radiated a fierce joy, joking and laughing, his nervous
little voice piping out:

"A little more murder, fellows! Send them back on stretchers. That's the
stuff. What the deuce is the matter, Bill, do you want to live forever?
Use your hands, use your feet, use your teeth, anything! Whoop her up!"

Others in the line were more stolid, yet each in his way contributing to
the nervous electricity that sent the team tirelessly, frantically, like
mad dervishes, into the breach, while behind them, at their sides,
everywhere, the coaches goaded them on.

"Oh, get together!"

"Shove the man in front of you!"

"Get your shoulder into it!"

"Fight for that last inch there!"

"Knock him off his feet!"

"Put your man out o' the play!"

"Break him up!"

No one paid any attention to the scrubs, fighting desperately with the
same loyalty against the odds of weight and organization, without hope
of distinction, giving every last ounce of their strength in futile,
frantic effort, rejoicing when flung aside and crushed under the
victorious rush of the varsity, who alone counted.

Against the scrubs Stover felt a sort of rage. Time after time he went
crashing into the line, seeing the blurred faces of his own comrades
with an instinctive hatred, striking them with his shoulder, hurling
them from the path of attack with a wild, uncontrollable fury at their
resistance, almost unable to keep his temper in leash. The first feeling
of sympathy he had felt so acutely for those who bore all the brunt of
the punishment, unrewarded, was gone. He no longer felt any pity, but a
brutal joy at the incessant smarting, grinding shock of the attack of
which he was part and the touch of prostrate bodies under his rushing
feet.

Thursday and Friday the practise was lightened for all except for the
backs. For an hour he was kept at his punting in the open and behind the
lines, while the scrubs, reënforced by every available veteran, swarmed
through the line, seeking to block his kicks.

To one side a little knot of coaches watched the result with critical
anxiety, following the length of the punts in grim silence.

Tompkins, behind him, from time to time, spoke quietly, knowing that his
was a nature to be restrained rather than goaded on.

"Watch your opposing backs, Stover. Keep your punts low and away from
them so as to gain as much on the ground as you can. That's it! Here,
you center men, you've got to hold longer than that! You're hurrying the
kick too much. Get it off clean, Stover. Not so good. Remember what I
say about placing your punt. You're going to be out-kicked fifteen
yards; make up for it in brain work. All right, Dana?"

"That'll do," said Dana, after a moment's hesitation.

"All over?" said Dink, dazed.

"All over!"

The scrubs, with a yell, broke up, cheering the varsity, and being
cheered in turn. Stover, with a sinking, realized that the week of
preparation had gone and that as he was he must come up to the final
test--the final test before the thousands that would blacken the arena
on the morrow.

The squad went rather silently, each oppressed by the same thought.

"We'll go out to the country club for the night," said Tompkins's shrill
voice. "Get your valises ready. And now stop talking football until we
tell you. Go out on the trot now!"

From the gymnasium he went back to the house. As he came up the hall he
heard a hum of voices from his room.

"Dink's got the nerve, but what the deuce can he do against that
Princeton line? Do you know how much he weighs? One hundred and fifty."

Stover listened, smiled grimly. If they only knew his real weight!

"Do you think he'll last it through?"

"What, Dink?" said McCarthy's loyal voice. "You bet he'll last!"

"Blamed shame he isn't at end!"

"By ginger! he'd make the All-American if he was."

"Yes, and now every one will jump on him for being a rotten fullback."

"Dana be hanged!"

Stover went back to the stairs and returned noisily At his entrance the
crowd sprang up instinctively. He felt the sudden focus of anxious,
critical glances.

"Hello, fellows," he said gruffly. "Tough, help me to stow a few duds in
my valise."

"Sure I will!"

Two or three hurried to help McCarthy, in grotesque, unconsciously
humorous eagerness; others patted him on the back with exaggerated good
spirits.

"Dink, you look fine!"

"All to the good."

"Right on edge."

"Dink, we're all rooting for you."

"Every one of us."

"You'll tear 'em up."

"We're betting on you, old gazebo!"

"Thanks!"

He took the bag which McCarthy thrust upon him. Each solemnly shook his
hand, thrilling at the touch, and Hungerford said:

"Whatever happens, old boy, we're going to be proud of you."

Stover stopped a moment, curiously moved, and obeying an instinct, said
brusquely:

"Yes, I'll take care of that."

Then he went hurriedly out.

That night, after supper--a meal full of nervous laughter and assumed
spirits--two or three of the older coaches came in, and their spirit of
hopefulness somehow communicated itself to the team. Other Yale elevens
had risen at the last moment and snatched a victory--why not theirs? It
lay with them, and during the week they certainly had forged ahead. Dink
felt the infection and became almost convinced. Then Tompkins, moving
around as the spirit of confidence, signaled him.

"Come out here; I want a little pow-wow with you."

They left the others and went out on the dim lawns with the lighted
club-house at their backs, and Tompkins, drawing his arm through
Stover's, began to speak:

"Dink, we're in for a licking."

"Oh, I say!" said Stover, overwhelmed. "But we have come on; we've come
fast."

"Stover, that's a great Princeton team," said Tompkins quietly, "and
we're a weak Yale one. We're going to get well licked. Now, boy, I'm
telling you this because I think you're the stuff to stand it; because
you'll play better for knowing what's up to you."

"I see."

"It's going to depend a whole lot on you--how you hold up your end--how
badly we're licked."

"I know I'm the weak spot," said Stover, biting his lips.

"You're a darn good player," said Tompkins, "and you're going to leave a
great name for yourself; but this year you've had to be sacrificed.
You've been put where you are because you've got nerve and a head. Now
this is what I want from you. Know what you're up against and make your
brain control that nerve--understand?"

"Yes, I do."

"You've got to do the kicking in the second half as well as in the
first. You've got to keep your strength and not break it against a wall.
You won't be called on for much rushing in the first half; you'll get a
chance later. The line may go to pieces, the secondary defense may go to
pieces; but, boy, if _you_ go to pieces, we'll be beaten thirty to
nothing."

"As bad as that!"

"Every bit."

"That's awful--a Yale team." He drew a long breath and then said: "What
do you want me to do?"

"I want you to get off every punt without having it blocked; and that's
a good deal, with what you're up against."

"Yes, sir."

"And hold on to every punt that comes to you--no fumbling."

"No fumbling--yes, sir."

"And kick as you've never kicked before--every kick better as you go on.
Put your whole soul into it."

"I will."

"You won't miss a tackle--I know that; but you'll have some pretty rum
ones to make, and when you tackle, make them remember it."

"Yes, sir."

"But, Stover, above all, hold steadfast. Keep cool and remember the
game's a long one. Boy, you don't know what it'll mean for some of us
old fellows to see Yale go down, but out of it all we want to remember
something that'll make us proud of you." He stopped, controlled the
emotion that was in his voice, and said a little anxiously: "I tell you
this because a first game is a terrible thing, and I didn't want you to
be caught in a panic when you found what you were up against. And I tell
you, Stover, because you're the sort of fighting stuff that'll fight
harder when you know all there is to it is the fighting. Am I right?"

"I hope so, sir."

"And now, do a more difficult thing. Get right hold of yourself. Put
everything out of your mind; go to bed and sleep."

This last injunction, though he tried his best to obey it, was beyond
Stover's power. He passed the night in fitful flashes of sleep. At
times he awoke, full of a fever of eagerness from a dream of success.
Then he would lie staring, it seemed for hours, at the thin path across
the ceiling made by a street lamp, feeling all at once a weakness in the
pit of his stomach, a physical horror of what the day would bring forth.
The words of the coach framed themselves in a sort of rhythmic chant
which went endlessly knocking through his brain:

"Catch every punt--get off every kick--make every tackle."

In the morning it was the same refrain, which never left him. He rose
tired, with a limpness in every muscle, his head heavy as if bound
across with biting bonds. He stood stupidly holding his wash-pitcher,
looking out of the window, saying:

"Good heavens! it's only a few hours off now."

Then he began feebly to wash, repeating:

"Get off every kick--every kick."

Breakfast passed like a nightmare. He put something tasteless into his
mouth, his jaws moved, but that was all. The brisk walk to chapel
restored him somewhat, and the consciousness of holding himself before
the gaze of the crowd. After first recitation, Regan joined him, and
together they went across the campus, no longer the campus of the
University, but beginning to swarm with strangers, and strange colors
amid the blue.

"How are you feeling?" said Regan in a fatherly sort of way, as they
went through Phelps and out on to the Common.

"Tom, my shoes stick to the ground, my knees are made of paper, and I'm
hollow from one end to the other."

"Fine!"

"Oh, _is_ it?"

"You'll be a bundle of fire on the field."

"Let's not walk too far. We want to keep fresh," said Stover, feeling
indeed as though every step was draining his energy.

"Rats! let's saunter down Chapel Street and see the crowds come in."

"You old rhinoceros, have you any nerves?"

"Lots, but they're a different sort. By George, isn't it a wonderful
sight?"

Side by side with Regan, a certain shame steadied Stover. They went
silently through the surging, arriving multitude, all intoxicated with
the joy and zest of the great game. In and out, newsboys howling papers
with headlines and pictures of the team thrust their wares before their
eyes, while a pestiferous swarm of strange pedlers shrieked:

"Get your colors here!"

"Get your winnin' color."

Suddenly Stover saw a headline--his name and the caption:


     STOVER THE WEAK SPOT


"Let's get a paper," he said, nervously drawn to it.

"No you don't," said Regan, who had seen it. "Come on, now, get out of
here, some one might walk on your foot or stick a hatpin in your eye."

"What time is it?"

"Time to be getting back."

"Tom, do you know how much I weigh?" said Stover irrelevantly.

"What the deuce?"

"I weigh one hundred and forty-one pounds," said Stover solemnly, as
though imparting a State secret.

"Go on, be loony if you want," said Regan. "I've seen bruisers before a
fight act like high school girls. If you've got something on your mind,
why talk it out, it'll do you good."

"It's awful--it's awful," said Stover, shaking his head.

"What's awful?"

"It's awful to think I'm the weak spot, that if they only had a decent
fullback there would be a chance. I've no right there--every one knows
it, and every one's groaning about it."

"Go on."

"That's all," said Stover, a little angry.

"Well, then come on, I'm getting hungry."

"Hungry! Tom, I'd like to knock the spots out of you," said Dink,
laughing despite himself.

"Dink, old bantam," said Regan, resting his huge paw on Stover's
shoulder in rough affection, "you're all right. I say so and I know it.
Now shut up and come on."



CHAPTER X


Almost before he knew it Stover was in the car and the wheels were
moving at last irresistibly toward the field. There was no longer any
pretense in those last awful moments that had in them all the
concentrated hopes and fears of the weeks that had rushed away. The
faces of his own team-mates were only gray faces without identity. He
saw some one's lips moving incessantly, but he did not remember whose
they were. Opposite him, another man was bending over, his head hidden
in his hands. Some one else at his side was nervously locking and
unlocking his fingers, breathing short, hard breaths. He remembered only
the stillness of it all, the forgetfulness of others, the set stares,
and Charlie de Soto fidgeting on the seat and nervously humming
something irrelevant.

Caught up in this unreasoning intensity of a young nation, filled, too,
with this exaggerated passion of combat, Stover leaned back limply.
Outside, the street was choked with hilarious parties packed in rushing
carriages, blue or orange-and-black. Horns and rattles sounded like tiny
sounds in his ears, and his eyes saw only grotesque blurred shapes that
swept across them.

"I'll get 'em off--they won't block any on me--they mustn't," he said to
himself, closing his eyes.

Then, on top of the draining weakness that had him in its grip, came a
sudden feeling of nausea, and he knew suddenly what the man opposite him
with his head in his hands was fighting. He put his arms over the ledge
of the door, and rested his head on them, too weak to care that every
one saw him, gulping in the stinging air in desperation.

All at once there came a grinding jerk and the car stopped. From the
inside came Tompkins' angry, rasping voice:

"Every one up! Get out there! Quick! On the jump!"

Instinctively obedient, the vertigo left him, his mind cleared. He was
out in the midst of the bobbing mass of blue sweaters, moving as in a
nightmare through the black spectators, seeing ahead the mammoth stands,
hearing the dull, engulfing roars as one hears at night the approaching
surf.

Then they were struggling through the human barriers, and he saw
something green at the bottom of a stormy pit, and a great growing roar
of welcome smote him as of a descending gale, the hysterical cry of the
American multitude, a roar acclaiming Yale.

"All ready!" said Dana's unrecognizable voice somewhere ahead. "On the
trot, now!"

Instantly he was sweeping on to the field and up along the frantic
stands of suddenly released blue. All indecision, all weakness, went
with the first hoarse cry from his own. Something hot and alive seemed
to flow back into his veins, and with every stride the spongy turf
underneath seemed to send its strength and vitality into his legs.

From the other end of the field, through the somber crowd, an
orange-and-black group was trickling, flowing into a band and sweeping
out on the field, while the Princeton stands were surging to their feet,
adding the mounting fury of their welcome to the deafening uproar that
suddenly bound the arena in the gripping hollow of a whirlwind.

"Line up, you blue devils," came Charlie de Soto's raucous cry. "On your
toes. Get your teeth into it. Hard, now. Ha-a-ard!"

He was in action immediately, thinking only of the signals, sweeping
down the field, now to the right, now to the left, stumbling in his
eagerness.

"Enough," said the captain's voice, at last. "Get under your sweaters,
fellows. Brown and Stover, start up some punts."

Dana and Dudley went back to practise catching. Brown, the center,
pigskin under hand, set himself for the pass, while Stover, blowing on
his hands, measured his distance. Opposite, Bannerman, the Princeton
fullback, was setting himself for a similar attempt.

In the stands was a sudden craning hush as the great audience waited to
see with its own eyes the disparity between the rival fullbacks.

Stover, standing out, felt it all instinctively, with a little nervous
tremor--the quick stir in the stands, the muttered comments, the tense
turning of even the cheer leaders.

Then the ball came shooting back to him. He caught it, turned it in his
hands, and drove forward his leg with all his might. At the same moment,
as if maliciously calculated, the great booming punt of Bannerman
brought the Princeton stands, rollicking and gleeful, to their feet in a
burst of triumph.

In his own stands there was no answering shout Stover felt on his
cheeks, under his eyes, two hot spots of anger. What did they know, who
condemned him, of the sacrifice he had made, of the far more difficult
thing he was doing? He remembered Tompkins' advice; he could not
compete with Bannerman in the air. Deliberately he sent his next punt
low, swift, striking the ground about thirty yards away and rolling
treacherously another fifteen feet before Dudley, who had swerved out,
could stop it. This time from the mass almost a groan went up.

A sudden cold contempt for them, for everything, seized possession of
Stover. He hated them all. He stooped, plucked a blade of grass, and
stuck it defiantly between his teeth.

"Shoot that back a little lower, Brown," he said with a sudden quick
authority, and again and again he sent off his fast, low-rolling punts.

"That's the stuff, Dink," said Tompkins, with a pat on the shoulder,
"but you've got to get 'em off on the instant--remember that. Here,
throw this sweater over you."

"All right."

He did not sit down, but walked back and forth with short steps, waiting
for the interminable conference of the captains to be over. And again
that same sinking, hollow feeling came over him in the suspense before
the question that would be answered in the first shock of bodies.

The feeling he felt ran through the thousands gathered only to a
spectacle. The cheers grew faint, lacking vitality, and the stir of feet
was a nerve-racked stir. Dink gazed up at the high benches, trying to
forget the interval of seconds that must be endured. It did not seem
possible that he was to go out before them all. It seemed rather that in
a far-off consciousness he was the same loyal little shaver who had
squirmed so often on the top line of the benches, clinging to his knees,
biting his lips, and looking weakly on the ground.

"All ready--get out, boys!"

Dana came running back. Yale had won the toss and had chosen to kick
off.

Some one pulled his sweater from him, struck him a stinging slap between
the shoulders, and propelled him on the field.

"Yale this way!"

They formed in a circle, heads down, arms locked over one another's
shoulders, disputing the same air; and Dana, the captain, who believed
in a victory, spoke:

"Now, fellows, one word. It's up to us. Do you understand what that
means? It's up to us to win, the way Yale has won in the past--and win
we're going to, no matter how long it takes or what's against us. Now,
get mad, every one of you. Run 'em right off their feet. That's all."

The shoulders under Stover's left him. He went hazily to the place, a
little behind the rest, where he knew he should go, waiting while Brown
poised the football, waiting while the orange-and-black jerseys
indistinctly scattered before him to their formation, waiting for the
whistle for which he had waited all his life to release him.

And for a third time his legs seemed to crumble, and the whole blurred
scheme of stands and field to reel away from him, and his heart to be
lying before him on the ground where he could lean over and pick it up.

Then like a pistol shot the whistle went throbbing through his brain. He
sprang forward as if out of the shell of himself, keen, alert, filled
with a savage longing.

Down the field a Princeton halfback had caught the ball and was
squirming back. Then a sudden upheaval, and a mass was spread on the
ground.

"Guess he gained about fifteen on that," he said to himself. "They'll
kick right off."

Dana came running back to support him. Out of the sky like a monstrous
bird something round, yellow, and squirming came floating toward him. He
was forced to run back, misjudged it a little, reached out, half fumbled
it, and recovered it with a plunging dive just as Cockerell landed upon
him.

"Get you next time, Dink," said the voice of his old school captain in
his ear.

Stover, struggling to his feet, looked him coolly in the eye.

"No, you won't, Garry, and you know it. The next time I'm going back ten
yards."

"Well, boy, we'll see."

They shook hands with a grim smile, while the field straggled up. He was
lined up, flanked by Dana and Dudley, bending over, waiting for the
signal. Three times De Soto, trying out the Princeton line, sent Dana
plunging against the right tackle, barely gaining the distance. A fourth
attempt being stopped for a loss, Stover dropped back for a kick on the
second down.

The ball came a little low, and with it the whole line seemed torn
asunder and the field filled with the rush of converging bodies. To have
kicked would have been fatal. He dropped quickly on the ball, covering
it, under the shock of his opponents.

Again he was back, waiting for the trial that was coming. He forgot that
he was a freshman--forgot everything but his own utter responsibility.

"You center men, hold that line!" he cried. "You give me a chance! Give
me time!"

Then the ball was in his hands, and, still a little hurried, he sent it
too high over the frantic leaping rush, hurled to the ground the instant
after.

The exchange had netted Princeton twenty yards. A second time Bannerman
lifted his punt, high, long, twisting and turning over itself in tricky
spirals. It was a perfect kick, giving the ends exact time to cover it.

Stover, with arms outstretched, straining upward, cool as a Yankee,
knew, from the rushing bodies he did not dare to look at, what was
coming. The ball landed in his convulsive arms, and almost exactly with
it Garry Cockerell's body shot into him and tumbled him clear off the
ground, crashing down; but the ball was locked in his arms in one of
those catches of which the marvel of the game is, not that they are not
made oftener, but that they are made at all.

"Come on now, Yale," shouted Charlie De Soto's inflaming voice. "We've
got to rip this line. Signal!"

Two masses on center, two futile straining, crushing attempts, and again
he was called on to kick. The tackles he had received had steadied him,
driving from his too imaginative mind all consideration but the direct
present need.

He began to enjoy with a fierce delight this kicking in the very teeth
of the frantic Princeton rushes, as he had stood on the beach waiting
for great breakers to form above his head before diving through.

On the fourth exchange of kicks he stood on his own goal-line. The test
had come at last. Dana, furious at being driven back without a Princeton
rush, came to him wildly.

"Dink, you've got to make it good!"

"Take that long-legged Princeton tackle when he comes through," he said
quietly. "Don't worry about me."

Luckily, they were over to the left side of the field. He chose his
opening, and, kicking low, as Tompkins had coached him, had the joy of
seeing the ball go flying over the ground and out of bounds at the
forty-yard line.

The Princeton team, springing into position, at last opened its attack.

"Now we'll see," said Stover, chafing in the backfield.

Using apparently but one formation, a circular mass, which, when
directly checked, began to revolve out toward end, always pushing ahead,
always concealing the runner, the Princeton attack surely, deliberately,
and confidently rolled down the field like a juggernaut.

From the forty-yard line to the thirty it came in two rushes, from the
thirty to the twenty in three; and then suddenly some one was tricked,
drawn in from the vital attack, and the runner, guarded by one
interferer, swept past the unprotected end and set out for a touchdown.

Stover went forward to meet them like a shot, frantic to save the
precious yards. How he did it he never quite knew, but somehow he
managed to fling himself just in front of the interferer and go down
with a death grip on one leg of the runner.

A cold sponge was being spattered over him, he was on his back fighting
hard for his breath, when he again realized where he was. He tried to
rise, remembering all at once.

"Did I stop him?"

"You bet you did."

Regan and Dudley had their arms about him, lifting him and walking him
up and down.

"Get your breath back, old boy."

"I'm all right."

"Take your time; that Princeton duck hasn't come to yet!"

He perceived in the opposite group something prone on the ground, and
the sight was like a tonic.

The ball lay inside the ten-yard line, within the sacred zone. In a
moment, no longer eliminated, but close to the breathing mass, he was
at the back of his own men, shrieking and imploring:

"Get the jump, Yale!"

"Throw them back, Yale!"

"Fight 'em back!"

"You've got to, Yale--you've got to!"

Then, again and again, the same perfected grinding surge of the complete
machine: three yards, two yards, two yards, and he was underneath the
last mass, desperately blocking off some one who held the vital ball,
hoping against hope, blind with the struggle, saying to himself:

"It isn't a touchdown! It can't be! We've stopped them! It's Yale's
ball!"

Some one was squirming down through the gradually lightening mass. A
great weight went from his back, and suddenly he saw the face of the
referee seeking the exact location of the ball.

"What is it?" he asked wildly.

"Touchdown."

Some one dragged him to his feet, and, unnoticing, he leaned against
him, gazing at the ball that lay just over the goal-line, seeing with
almost a bull-like rage the Princeton substitutes frantically capering
up and down the line, hugging one another, agitating their blankets,
turning somersaults.

"Line up, Yale," said the captain's unyielding voice, "this is only the
beginning. We'll get 'em."

But Stover knew better. The burst of anger past, his head cleared. That
Princeton team was going to score again, by the same process, playing on
his weakness, exchanging punts, hoping to block one of his until within
striking distance, and the size of the score would depend on how long he
could stand it off.

"Goal," came the referee's verdict, and with it another roar from
somewhere. He went up the field looking straight ahead, hearing, like a
sound in a memory, a song of jubilation and the brassy accompaniment of
a band.

Again the same story: ten, fifteen yards gained on every exchange of
kicks, and a slow retrogression toward their own goal. Time and again
they flung themselves against a stronger line, in a vain effort to win
back the last yards. Once, in a plunge through center, he found an
opening, and went plunging along for ten yards; but at the last the ball
was Princeton's on the thirty-five-yard line, and a second irresistible
march bore Yale back, fighting and frantic over the line for the second
score.

Playing became an instinct with him. He no longer feared the soaring
punts that came tumbling to him from the clouds. His arms closed around
them like tentacles, and he was off for the meager yards he could gain
before he went down with a crash. He no longer felt the shock of the
desperate tackles he was called on to make, nor the stifling pressure
above him when he flung himself under the serried legs of the mass.

He had but one duty--to be true to what he had promised Tompkins: not to
fumble, not to miss a tackle, to get each punt off clean.

All at once, as he was setting in position, a body rushed in, seizing
the ball.

"Time!"

The first half was over, and the score was: Princeton, 18; Yale, 0.

Then all at once he felt his weariness. He went slowly, grimly with the
rest back to the dressing-room. A group of urchins clustering to a tree
shrieked at them:

"O you Yaleses!"

He heard that, and that was all he heard. A sort of rebellion was in
him. He had done all that he could do, and now they would haul him over
the coals, thinking that was what he needed.

"Oh, I know what'll be said," he thought grimly. "We'll be told we can
win out in the second, and all that rot."

Then he was in the hands of the rubbers, having his wet, clinging suit
stripped from him, being rubbed and massaged. He did not want to look at
his comrades, least of all Dana. He only wanted to get back, to have it
over with.

"Yale, I want you to listen to me."

He looked up. In the center stood Tompkins, preternaturally grave,
trembling a little with nervous, uncontrollable twitches of his body.

"You're up against a great Princeton team--the greatest I remember. You
can't win. You never had a chance to win. But, Yale, you're going to do
something to make us proud of you. You're going to hold that score where
it is! Do you hear me? All you've got left is your nerve and the chance
to show that you can die game. That's all you're going to do; but, by
heaven, you're going to do that! You're going to die game, Yale! Every
mother's son of you! And when the game's over we're going to be prouder
of your second half than the whole blooming Princeton bunch over their
first. There's your chance. Make us rise up and yell for you. Will you,
Yale?"

He passed from man to man, advising, exhorting, or storming, until he
came to Stover.

"Dink," he said, putting out his hand and changing his tone suddenly, "I
haven't a word to say to you. Play the game as you've been doing--only
play it out."

Stover felt a sudden rush of shame; all the fatigue left him as if by
magic.

"If Charlie'll only give me a few chances at the center. I know I could
gain there," he said eagerly.

"You'll get a chance later on, perhaps, but you've quite enough to do
now."

The second view of the arena was clear to him, even to insignificant
details. He thought the cheer leaders, laboring muscularly with their
long megaphones, strangely out of place--especially a short, fat little
fellow in a white voluminous sweater. He saw in the crowd a face or two
that he recognized--Bob Story in a group of pretty girls, all
superhumanly glum and cast down. Then he had shed his sweater and was
out on the field, back under the goal-posts, ready for the bruising
second half to begin.

"All ready, Yale!"

"All ready."

Again the whistle and the rush of bodies. Dana caught the ball, and,
shifting and dodging, shaking off the first tacklers, carried it back
twenty yards. Two short, jamming plunges by Dudley, through Regan, who
alone was outplaying his man, yielded first down. Then an attempt at
Cockerell's end brought a loss and the inevitable kick.

Instead of a return punt, the Princeton eleven prepared to rush the
ball.

"Why the deuce do they do that?" he thought, biting his fingers
nervously.

Opening up their play, Princeton swept out toward Bangs's end, forcing
it back for four yards, and immediately made first down with a long,
sweeping lunge at the other end.

Suddenly Stover, in the backfield, watching like a cat, started forward
with a cry. Far off to one side, a Princeton back, unperceived, was
bending down, pretending to be fastening one of his shoe-laces.

"Look out--look out to the left!"

His cry came too late. The Princeton quarter made a long toss straight
across, twenty yards, to the loitering half, who caught it and started
down field clear of the line of scrimmage.

A Princeton forward tried to intercept him, but Stover flung him aside,
and, without waiting, went forward at top speed to meet the man who came
without flinching to his tackle. It was almost head on, and the shock,
which left Stover stunned, instinctively clinging to his man, sent the
ball free, where Dana pounced upon it.

"Holy Mike, what a tackle!" said Regan's voice. "Any bones broken?"

"Of course not," he said gruffly.

Some one insisted on sponging his face, much to his disgust.

"How's the other fellow?" he said grimly.

"He's a tough nut; he's up, too!"

"He must be."

The recovery of the ball gave them a short respite, but it served also
to enrage the other line, which rose up and absolutely smothered the
next plays. Again his kick seemed to graze the outstretched fingers of
the Princeton forwards, and he laughed a strange laugh which he
remembered long after.

This time the punting duel was resumed until, well within Yale
territory, Cockerell looked around and gave the signal for attack.

"Now, Yale, stop it, stop it!" Dink said, talking to himself.

But there was no stopping that attack. Powerless, not daring to
approach, he saw the blue line bend back again and again, and the
steady, machine-like rolling up of the orange and black. Over the
twenty-five-yard line it came, and on past the twenty.

"Oh, Yale, will you let 'em score again?" De Soto was shrieking.

"You're on your ten-yard line, Yale."

"Hold them!"

"Hold them!"

Two yards at a time, they were rolled back with a mathematical,
unfeeling precision.

"Third down; two yards to go!"

"Yale, stop it!"

"Yale!"

And stop it they did, by a bare six inches. Behind the goal-line,
Charlie De Soto came up, as he stood measuring his distance for a kick.

"How are you, Dink? Want a bit of a rest--sponge-off?"

"Rest be hanged!" he said fiercely. "Come on with that ball."

Suddenly, instead of kicking low and off to the right, he sent the ball
straight down the field with every ounce of strength he could put in it.
The punt, the best he had made, catching the back by surprise, went over
his head, rolling up the field before he could recover it. A great roar
went up from the Yale stands, fired by the spirit of resistance.

Thereafter it had all a grim sameness, except, in a strange way, it
seemed to him that nothing that had gone before counted--that everything
they were fighting for was to keep their goal-line inviolate. Nothing
new seemed to happen. When he went fiercely into a mêlée, finding his
man somehow, or felt the rush of bodies about him as he managed each
time to get clear his punt, he had the same feeling:

"Why, I've done this before."

A dozen times they stopped the Princeton advance, sometimes far away and
sometimes near, once within the five-yard line. Every moment, now, some
one cried wearily:

"What's the time?"

The gray of November twilights, the haze that settles over the struggles
of the gridiron like the smoke of a battle-field, began to close in. And
then a sudden fumble, a blocked kick, and by a swift turn of luck it was
Yale's ball for the first time in Princeton's territory. One or two subs
came rushing in eagerly from the side lines. Every one was talking at
once:

"What's the time?"

"Five minutes more."

"Get together, Yale!"

"Show 'em how!"

"Ram it through them!"

"Here's our chance!"

Stover, beside himself, ran up to De Soto and flung his arms about his
neck, whispering in his ear:

"Give me a chance--you must give me a chance! Send me through Regan!"

He got his signal, and went into the breach with every nerve set,
fighting his way behind the great bulk of Regan for a good eight yards.
A second time he was called on, and broke the line for another first
down.

Regan was transformed. All his calm had gone. He loomed in the line like
a Colossus, flinging out his arms, shouting:

"We're rotten, are we? Carry it right down the field, boys!"

Every one caught the infection. De Soto, with his hand to his mouth,
was shouting hoarsely, through the bedlam of cheers, his gleeful slogan:

"We don't want to live forever, boys! What do we care? We've got to face
Yale after this. Never mind your necks. We've got the doctors! A little
more murder, now! Shove that ball down that field, Yale! Send them back
on stretchers! Nineteen--eight--six--four--Ha-a-ard!"

Again and again Stover was called on, and again and again, with his
whole team behind him or Regan's great arm about him, struggling to keep
his feet, crawling on his knees, fighting for every last inch, he
carried the ball down the field twenty, thirty yards on.

He forgot where he was, standing there with blazing eyes and colorless
face. He forgot that he was only the freshman, as he had that night in
the wrestling bout. He gave orders, shouted advice, spurred them on. He
felt no weariness; nothing could tire him. His chance had come at last.
He went into the line each time blubbering, laughing with the fierce joy
of it, shouting to himself:

"I'm the weak spot, am I? I'll show them!"

And the certainty of it all overwhelmed him. Nothing could stop him now.
He knew it. He was going to score. He was going to cross that line only
fifteen yards away.

"Give me that ball again!" he cried to De Soto.

Then something seemed to go wrong. De Soto and Dudley were shrieking out
something, protesting wildly.

"What's wrong?" he cried.

"They're calling time on us!"

"No, no, it's not possible! It's not time!"

He turned hysterically, beseechingly, catching hold of the referee's
arm, not knowing what he did.

"Mr. Referee, it isn't time. Mr. Referee--"

"Game's over," said Captain Dana's still voice. "Get together, Yale.
Cheer for Princeton now. Make it a good one!"

But no one heard them in the uproar that suddenly went up. Nature could
not hold out; the disappointment had been too severe. Stover stood with
his arms on Regan's shoulders, and together they bowed their heads and
went choking through the crowd. Others rushed around him--he thought he
heard Tompkins saying something. He seemed lost in the crowd that stared
at him, struggling to hold back his grief. Only one figure stood out
distinctly--the figure of a white-haired man, who took off his hat to
him as he went through the barrier, and shouted something
unintelligible--a strangely excited white-haired man.

All the way back to the gymnasium, through the jubilant street, Dink sat
staring out unseeing, his eyes blurred, a great lump in his throat,
possessed by a fatigue such as he had never known before. No one spoke.
Through his own brain ceaselessly the score, strangely jumbled, went its
tiring way:

"Eighteen to nothing--to nothing! Eighteen to six--it should have been
eighteen to six. Eighteen to nothing. It's awful--awful! If I only could
punt!"

His ideal, his dream of a Yale team, had always been of victory, not
like this, to go down powerless, swept aside, routed--to such a defeat!

Then he shut his eyes, fighting over again those last desperate rushes
against defeat, against hope, against time, unable to believe it was
over.

"How many times did I take that ball?" he thought wearily. "Was it seven
or eight? If I'd only got free that last time--kept my feet!"

He remembered flashes of that last frenzy--the face of a Princeton
rusher who reached for him and missed, the teeth savage as a wolf's and
the strained mouth. He saw again Regan turning around to pull him
through, Regan, the brute, raging like a fury. He remembered the quick,
strange white looks that Charlie De Soto had given him, wondering each
time if he had the strength to go on. Why had they stopped them? They
had a right to that last rally!

"Eighteen to nothing. Poor Dana--I wonder what he'll do?"

He remembered, in a far-off way, tales he had heard of other captains,
disgraced by defeat, breaking down, leaving college, disappearing. He
dreaded the moment when they should break silence, when the awful thing
must be talked over, there in the gymnasium, feeling acutely all the
misery and ache Dana must be feeling.

"All right there, Stover? Let yourself go, if you want to."

The voice was Tompkins', who was looking up at him anxiously, the
gymnasium at his back.

"All right," he said gruffly, raising himself with an effort and half
slipping to the ground.

"Sure? How's Dudley?"

He realized in a curious way that others, too, had gone through the
game. Then Regan's arm was around him. He did not put it from him,
grateful for any support in his weakness. Together they went through the
crowd of ragamuffins staring open-mouthed at a defeated team.

"What's the matter with Dudley?"

"Played through all the last with a couple of broken ribs."

"Dudley?"

"Yes. Go as slow as you want, old bantam."

"If we only could have had another minute, Tom--" He stopped, unable to
go on, shaking his head.

"I know, I know."

"It was tough."

"Darned tough."

"I thought we were going to do it."

"Now, you shut up, young rooster. Don't think of it any more. You played
like a fiend. We're proud of you."

"Poor Dana!"

Upstairs a couple of rubbers took charge of him, stripping him and
rubbing him rigorously. Two or three coaches came up to him, gripping
him with silent grips, patting him on the back. The cold bite of the
shower brought back some of his vitality, and he dressed mechanically
with the squad, who had nothing to say to one another.

"Yale, I want to talk to you boys a moment."

He looked up. In the center of the room was Rivers, coach of coaches,
around whom the traditions of football had been formed. Stover looked at
him dully, wondering how he could stand there filled with such energy.

"Now, boys, the game's over. We've lost. It's our turn; we've got to
stand it. One thing I want you to remember when you go out of here.
_Yale teams take their medicine!_"

His voice rose to a nervous staccato, and the sharp, cold eye seemed to
look into every man, just as at school the Doctor used to awe them.

"Do you understand? Yale teams take their medicine! No talking, no
reasoning, no explanations, no excuses, and no criticism! The thing's
over and done. We'll have a dinner to-night, and we'll start in on next
year; and next year nothing under the sun's going to stop us! Go out;
take off your hats! A great Princeton team licked you--licked you well!
That's all. You deserved to score. You didn't. Hard luck. But those who
saw you try for it won't forget it! We're proud of that second half! No
talk, now, about what might have happened; no talk about what you're
going to do. Shut up! Remember--grin and take your medicine."

"Mr. Rivers, I'd like to say a few words."

Stover, with almost a feeling of horror, saw Dana step forward quietly,
purse his lips, look about openly, and say:

"Mr. Rivers, I understand what you mean, and what's underneath it all,
and I thank you for it. At the same time, it's up to me to take the
blame, and I'm not going to dodge it. I've been a poor captain. I
thought I knew more than you did, and I didn't. I've made one fool
blunder after another. But I did it honestly. Well, that doesn't
matter--let that go. I say this because it's right, too, I should take
my medicine, and because I don't want next year's captain to botch the
job the way I've done. And now, just a word to you men. You've done
everything I asked you to do, and kept your mouths shut, no matter what
you thought of it. You've been loyal, and you'll be loyal, and there'll
be no excuses outside. But I want you men to know that I'll remember it,
and I want to thank you. That's all."

Instantly there was a buzz of voices, and one clear note dominating
it--Regan's voice, stirred beyond thought of self:

"Boys, we're going to give that captain a cheer. Are you ready?
Hip--hip!"

Somehow the cry that went up took from Dink all the sting of defeat. He
went out, head erect, back to meet his college, no longer shrinking from
the ordeal, proud of his captain, proud of his coach, and proud of a
lesson he had learned bigger than a victory.



CHAPTER XI


After the drudgery of the football season he had a few short weeks of
gorgeous idleness, during which he browsed through a novel a day, curled
up on his window-seat, rolling tobacco clouds through the fog of smokers
in the room. He had won his spurs and the right to lounge, and he looked
forward eagerly to the rest of the year as a time for reading and the
opening up of the friendships of which he had dreamed.

Old age settled down rapidly upon him, and at eighteen that malady
appears in its most virulent form. Perhaps there was a little
justification. The test he had gone through had educated him to
self-control in its most difficult form. He was not simply the big man
of the class, the first to emerge to fame, but the prospective captain
of a future Yale eleven. A certain gravity was requisite--moreover, it
was due the University. To have seen the burning letters S-T-O-V-E-R
actually vibrating on the front pages of metropolitan papers, to have
gazed on his distinguished (though slightly smudged) features, ruined by
an unfeeling photographer, but disputing nevertheless the public
attention with statesmen and champions of the pugilistic ring--to have
felt these heavenly sensations at the age of eighteen could not be
lightly disguised.

So he lay back among welcome cushions, book in hand, and listened with a
tolerant ear to the rapid-fire comedy of McNab and Buck Waters. He
stayed much in his own room, which became a sort of lounging spot where
the air was always blue with smoke and a mandolin or guitar was
strumming a low refrain or a group near the fireplace was noisy with the
hazards of the national game.

Pretty much every one of importance in the class dropped in on him. The
preliminary visiting period of the sophomore societies was nearly over.
With the opening of the winter term the hold-offs and elections would
begin. He understood that those who were uncertain wished the advantage
of being seen in his company--that his, in fact, was now the "right"
crowd.

He intended to call on several men who interested him: Brockhurst, who
had made his appearance with a story in the _Lit_ which announced him as
a possible future chairman; Gimbel, about whose opinions and sincerity
he was in doubt; and, above all, Regan, who genuinely attracted him.
But, somehow, having now nothing to do, his afternoons and evenings
seemed always filled, and he continually postponed until the morrow what
suggested itself during the day. Besides, there was a complacent delight
in being his own master again and of looking forward to such a period of
independent languor.

The first discordant note to intrude itself upon this ideal was a remark
of Le Baron's during one of the evening visits. These embassies were
always conducted with punctiliousness and gravity. The inquisitorial
sophomores arrived about eight o'clock in groups of three and four. As
McCarthy was the object of attention from a different society, Stover,
when the former's inspectors arrived, shook hands gravely, and shortly
discovered that he had a letter to post at the corner. When the
committee on Stover appeared trimly at the door, McCarthy rose at once
to return a hypothetical book, after which the conversation began with
about as much spontaneity and zest as would be permitted to a board of
alienists sitting in judgment on a victim. The sophomores were
embarrassed with their own impromptu dignity, and the freshmen at the
constraint of their superiors.

On one such occasion, after the committee of four had spent fifteen
minutes in the grave discussion of a kindergarten topic, and had filed
out with funereal solemnity, Le Baron returned for a more intimate
conversation.

Since the night of his introduction to college, Stover had had only
occasional glimpses of Le Baron. True, he was generally of the visiting
committee that called every other night for perfunctory inspection, but
through it all the sophomore had adopted an attitude of almost defensive
aloofness and impartiality.

"I want to talk over some of the men in the class," said Le Baron,
falling into an arm-chair and picking up a pipe, while his manner
changed to naturalness and equality. Stover understood at once that the
attitude was a notice served on him of the security of his own position.

"Dink, I want to know your opinion. What do you think of Brockhurst, for
instance?"

"Brockhurst? Why, I hardly know him."

"Is he liked?"

"Why, yes."

"Who are his friends?"

Stover thought a moment.

"Why, I think he rather keeps to himself. He strikes me as being--well,
a little undeveloped--rather shy."

"Do you like him?

"I do."

"And Schley?"

The question was put abruptly, Le Baron raising his eyes to get his
answer from Stover's face.

"Schley?" said Dink, considering a little. "Why, Schley seems to--"

"Regan?" said Le Baron, satisfied.

"One of the best in the class!"

"He seems a rather rough diamond."

"He's proud as Lucifer--but he has more to him than any one I know."

"It's a question what he'll do."

"I'd back him every time."

"You are quite enthusiastic about him," said Le Baron, looking at him
with a little quizzical surprise.

"He's a man," said Stover stoutly.

"Of course, the football captaincy will probably be between you two."

"Regan?" said Stover, amazed.

"Either you or Regan."

Stover had never thought of him as a rival for his dearest ambition. He
remained silent, digesting the possibility, aware of Le Baron's
searching inquiry.

"Of course, you have nine chances out of ten, but the race is a long
one."

"He would make a good captain," Stover said slowly.

"You think so?"

"I hadn't thought of it before," Stover said, with a sudden falling
inside, "but he has the stuff in him of a leader all right."

"I wish he weren't quite so set," said Le Baron. "He hasn't made a
particularly favorable impression on some of the fellows."

An involuntary smile came to Stover at the thought of Regan's probable
reception of a committee of inspection.

"He doesn't perhaps realize the importance of some things," he said
carefully.

"He doesn't," said Le Baron, who was not without a sense of humor. "It's
a pity, though, for his sake. I wish you'd talk to him a little."

"I will."

Le Baron rose.

"By the way, what are you going out for this spring?"

"This spring?" said Stover, surprised.

"Ever rowed any?"

"Never."

"That doesn't make any difference. You learn the stroke quicker--no bad
habits."

"I'm light as mischief."

"Oh, I don't know--not for the freshman. We want to stimulate the
interest in rowing up here. It's a good example for a man like you to
come out. Ever done anything in baseball or the track?"

"No."

"Rowing's the stunt for you." He went toward the door, and turned. "Have
a little chat with Regan. I admire the fellow, but he needs to rub up a
bit with you fellows and get the sharp edges off him. By the way, when
you start rowing I'll get hold of you and give you a little extra
coaching."

When McCarthy came grinning through the door, he found Dink, his legs
drawn up Turkish fashion, staring rebelliously at the ceiling.

"Hello! In love, or what?" said Tough, stopping short. "Recovering,
perhaps, from the brilliant conversation?"

"By George, I'm not going out for anything more!" said Dink, between his
teeth.

"Heavens! haven't you slaved enough?"

"You bet I have. I'll be hanged if I'm going through here--just varsity
material. I'm going to be a little while my own master."

"You think so?" said McCarthy, with a short, incredulous laugh. "Every
one's doing something." McCarthy was a candidate for the baseball nine.

"Have you heard anything about Regan?" said Stover, between puffs.

"In what way?"

"Have any of the sophomores been around to see him?"

McCarthy exploded into laughter. "_Have_ they? Didn't you hear what
happened?"

"No. What?"

"They spent half the night locating his diggings, and when they got them
the old rhinoceros wouldn't receive them."

"Why not?"

"Hadn't time, he said, to be fooling with them."

"The old chump!"

"Lucky dog," said McCarthy, between his teeth. "I wish I had the nerve
to do the same."

"What the deuce?"

"It makes me boil! I can't sit up and have a solemn bunch of fools look
me over. I can't be natural."

"It's give and take," said Dink, smiling. "You'll think yourself the
lord of the universe next year."

"I'm not so sure," said McCarthy, gloomily.

"Rats!"

"Oh, you--you've a cinch," said McCarthy. "They're not picking you to
pieces and dissecting you. Half the crowd that come to see me have got
some friends in the class they'd rather see in than me. I'm darned
uncertain, and I know it."

Stover, who believed the contrary, laughed at him. He rose and went out,
determined to find Regan and make him understand conditions.

His walk led him along the dark ways of College Street into the
forgotten street where, under the roof of a bakery, Regan had found a
breathing-hole for five dollars a month.

For the first time a little feeling of jealousy went through Stover as
he swung along. Why should he help build up the man who might snatch
from him his ambition? Why the deuce had Le Baron mentioned Regan as a
possible captain? No one else thought of such a thing. Compared to him,
Regan was a novice in football knowledge and experience. Still, it was
true that the man had a stalwart, unflinching way of moving on that
impressed. There was a danger there with which he must reckon.

He found Regan in carpet slippers and sweater, bending grimly over the
next day's Greek as if it were a rock to be shattered with the weight of
his back.

"8-16-6-9-47," said Stover, in a hallo, giving the signal that had sent
him through the center.

Regan started up.

"Hello, Dink, old bantam; glad to hear your voice."

Stover entered, with a glance at the room. A cot, a bureau, a washstand
reënforced by ropes, a pine table scorched and blistered, and a couple
of chairs were the entire equipment. Half the gas globe was left and
two-thirds of the yellow-green shade at the window. In the corner was
the battle-scarred valise which had brought Regan's whole effects to
college.

"Boning out the Greek?" said Stover, placing a straight chair against
the wall so that his feet could find the ledge of the window.

"Wrestling with it."

"Don't you use a trot?" said Stover in some surprise, perceiving the
absence of the handy, literal short-cut to recitation.

"Can't afford to."

"Why not?" said Stover, wondering if Regan was a gospel shark, after
all.

"I've got too much to learn," said Regan, leaning back and elevating his
legs in the national position. "You know something; I don't. You can
bluff; I'm a rotten bluffer. I've got to train my whole mind, lick it
into shape and make it work for me, if I'm going to do what I want."

"Tom, what are you aiming for?"

"You'd never guess."

"Well, what?"

"Politics."

"Politics?" said Stover, opening his mouth.

"Exactly," said Regan, puffing at his corncob pipe. "I want to go back
out West and get in the fight. It's a glorious fight out there. A real
fight. You don't know the West, Stover."

"No."

"We believe in something out there, and we get up and fight for
it--independence, new ideas, clean government, hard fighters."

"I hadn't thought of you that way," said Stover, more and more
surprised.

"That's the only thing I care about," said Regan frankly. "I've come
from nothing, and I believe in that nothing. But to do anything I've got
to get absolute hold of myself."

"Tom, you ought to get in with the fellows more. You ought to know all
kinds," said Stover, feeling an opening.

"I will, when I get the right," said Regan, nodding.

"Why the devil don't you let the University help you out a while? You
can pay it back," said Stover angrily.

"Never! I know it could be done, but not for me," said Regan, shaking
his head. "What I need is the hardest things to come up against, and I'm
not going to dodge them."

"Still, you ought to be with us; you ought to make friends."

"I'm going to do that," said Regan, nodding. "I'm going to get in at
South Middle after Christmas and perhaps get some work in the Coöp." He
took up a sheet of paper jotted over with figures. "I'm about fifty
dollars to the good; a couple of weeks' work at Christmas will bring
that up about twenty more. If I can make a hundred and fifty this summer
I'll have a good start. I want to do it, because I want to play
football. It's bully! I like the fight in it!"

"What sort of work will you do?" said Stover curiously.

"I may go in the surface cars down in New York."

"Driving?"

"Sure. They get good pay. I could get work in the mines--I've done
that--but it's pretty tough."

"But, Tom, what the deuce do you pick out the hardest grind for? Make
friends with fellows who only want to know you and like you, and you'll
get a dozen openings where you'll make twice what you get at manual
labor."

"Well, there's this to it," said Regan ruminatively, "It's an
opportunity I won't always have."

"What the deuce do you mean?"

"The opportunity to meet the fellow who gets the grind of life--to
understand what he thinks of himself, and especially what he thinks of
those above him. I won't have many more chances to see him on the ground
floor, and some day I've got to know him well enough to convince him.
See? By the way, it would be a good college course for a lot of you
fellows if you got in touch with the real thing also."

"Are you a socialist?" said Stover, who vaguely associated the term with
dynamite and destruction.

"I may be, but I don't know it."

"I say, Tom, do you go in for debating and all that sort of thing?"

"You bet I do; but it comes hard as hen's teeth."

Stover, who had waited for an opportunity to volunteer advice, finding
no opening, resolved to take the dilemma by the horns.

"Tom, I think you're wrong about one thing."

"What's that?"

"Holding aloof so much."

"Particularly what?"

"I'm thinking about sophomore societies, for one thing. Why the deuce
don't you give the fellows a chance to help you?"

"Oh, you mean the dinky little bunch that came around to call on me,"
said Regan thoughtfully.

"Yes. Now, why turn them out?"

"Why, they bored me, and, besides, I haven't time for anything like
that. There are too many big things here."

"They can help you like the mischief, now and afterward."

"Thanks; I'll help myself. Besides, I don't want to get their point of
view."

"Why not?"

"Too limited."

"Have you been talking to Gimbel?" said Stover, wondering.

"Gimbel? No; why?"

"Because he is organizing the class against them."

"That doesn't interest me, either."

"What do you make of Gimbel?"

"Gimbel's all right; a good politician."

"Is he sincere?"

"Every one's sincere."

"You mean every one's convinced of his own sincerity."

"Sure; easiest person in the world to convince."

Stover laughed a little consciously, wondering for a brief moment if the
remark could be directed at him. Curiously enough, the more the blunt
antagonism of Regan impressed him, the more he was reassured that the
man was too radical ever to challenge his leadership. He rose to go, his
conscience satisfied by the half-hearted appeal he had made.

"I say, Dink," said Regan, laying his huge paw on his shoulder, "don't
get your head turned by this social business."

"Heavens, no!"

"'Cause there's some real stuff in you, boy, and some day it's coming
out. Thanks, by the way, for wanting to make me a society favorite."

Dink left with a curious mixture of emotions. Regan always had an
ascendency over him he could not explain. It irritated him that he could
not shake it off, and yet he was genuinely chained to the man.

"Why the deuce did Le Baron put that in my head?" he said to himself,
for the tenth time. "If Regan beats me out for captain it'll only be
because he's older and has got a certain way about him. Well, I suppose
if I'm to be captain I've got to close up more; I can't go cutting up
like a kid. I've got to be older."

He resolved to be more dignified, more melancholy, shorter of speech,
and consistent in gravity. For the first time he felt what it meant to
calculate his chances. Before, everything had come to him easily. He had
missed the struggle and the heartburnings. Now, suddenly, a shadow had
fallen across the open road, the shadow of one whom he had regarded as a
sort of protégé. He had thoughts of which he was ashamed, for at the
bottom he was glad that Regan would not be of a sophomore society--that
that advantage would be denied him; and, a little guiltily, he wondered
if he had tried as hard as he might have to show him the opportunity.

"If they ever know him as I do," he said, with a generous revulsion,
"he'll be the biggest thing in the class." York Street and the busy
windows of Pierson Hall came into his vision. A group of sophomores,
ending their tour of visits, passed him, saluting him cordially. He
thought all at once, with a sharp rebellion, how much freer Regan was,
with his own set purpose, than he under the tutelage of Le Baron.

"I wonder what I'd do if no darn sophomore societies existed," he said
to himself thoughtfully. And then, going up the stairs to his room, he
said to McCarthy as he entered: "I guess, after all, I'll get out and
slave again this spring--might as well heel the crew. I'm just varsity
material--that's all!"



CHAPTER XII


The first weeks of the competition for the crew were not exacting, and
consisted mostly of eliminating processes. Stover had consequently still
enough leisure to gravitate naturally into that necessity of running
into debt which comes to every youth who has just won the privilege of a
yearly allowance; the same being solemnly understood to cover all the
secret and hidden needs of the flesh as well as those that are outwardly
exposed to the admiration of the multitude.

Now, the lure of personal adornment and the charm of violent neckties
and outrageous vests had come to him naturally, as such things come,
shortly after the measles, under the educating influence of a hopeless
passion which had passed but had left its handiwork.

About a week after the opening of the term, Stover was drifting down
Chapel Street in the company of Hungerford and McCarthy, when, in the
window of the most predatory haberdasher's, he suddenly was fascinated
by the most beautiful thing he had ever seen adorning a window. A tinge
of masculine modesty prevented his remaining in struck admiration before
it, especially in the presence of McCarthy and Hungerford, whose souls
could rest content in jerseys and sweaters; but half an hour later,
slipping away, he returned, fascinated. Chance had been kind to him. It
was still there, the most beautiful green shirt he had ever beheld--not
the diluted green of ordinary pistache ice-cream, but the deep, royal
hue of a glorious emerald!

He had once, in the school days when he was blossoming into a man of
fashion, experienced a similar sensation before a cravat of pigeon-blood
red. He peered through the window to see if any one he knew was present,
and glanced up the street to assure himself that a mob was not going to
collect. Then he entered nonchalantly. The clerk, who recognized him,
greeted him with ingratiating unction.

"Glad to see you here, Mr. Stover. What can I do for you?"

"I thought I'd look at some shirts," he said, in what he believed a
masterly haphazard manner.

"White lawn--something with a thin stripe?"

"Well, something in a color--solid color."

He waited patiently, considering solicitously twenty inconsequential
styles, until the spruce clerk, casually producing the one thing, said:

"Would that appeal to you?"

"It's rather nice," he said, gazing at it. Entranced, he stared on. Then
a new difficulty arose. People didn't enter a shop just to purchase one
shirt, and, besides, he was known. So he selected three other shirts and
added the beautiful green thing to them in an unostentatious manner,
saying:

"Send around these four shirts, will you? What's the tax?"

"Very pleased to have you open an account, Mr. Stover," said the clerk.
"Pay when you like."

Stover took this as a personal tribute to his public reputation.
Likewise, it opened up to him startling possibilities, so he said in a
bored way:

"I suppose I might just as well."

"Thank you, Mr. Stover--thank you very much! Anything more? Some rather
tasty neckties here for conservative dressers. Collars? Something like
this would be very becoming to you. We've just got in a very smart line
of silk socks. All the latest bonton styles. Look them over--you don't
need to buy anything."

When Stover finally was shown to the door, he had clandestinely and with
great astuteness acquired the green shirt on the following terms:


     One green shirt (imported)                              $ 5
     Three decoy shirts                                        9
     Four silk ties (to go with green shirt)                   8
     One dozen Roxburgh turndown collars (to complete same)    3
     One dozen Gladstone collars (an indiscretion)             3
     One half dozen silk socks (bonton style)                 12
                                                            ----
         Total for one green shirt                           $40


By the time he had made this mental calculation he was half way up the
block. Then, his extravagance overwhelming him, he virtuously determined
to send back the Gladstone collars, to show the clerk that, while he was
a man of fashion, he still had a will of his own.

Refreshed then by this firm conscientious resolve, he went down York
Street, where he was hailed by Hungerford from an upper story, and went
in to find a small group sitting in inspection of several bundles of
tailoring goods which were being displayed in the center of the room by
a little bow-legged Yankee with an open appealing countenance.

"I say, Dink, you ought to get in on this," said Hungerford at his
entrance.

"What's the game?"

"Here's a wonderful chance. Little bright-eyes here has got a lot of
goods dirt cheap and he's giving us the first chance. You see it's this
way: he travels for a firm and the end of the season he gets all the
samples for himself, so he can let them go dirt cheap."

"Half price," said the salesman nodding. "Half price on everything."

"I've bought a bundle," said Troutman. "It's wonderful goods."

"How much?" said Stover, considering.

"Only twenty dollars for enough to make up a suit. Twenty's right, isn't
it, Skenk?"

"Twenty for this--twenty-two for that. You remember I said twenty-two."

"Let me see the stuff," said Stover, as though he had been the mainstay
of custom tailors all his life.

Now the crowd was a New York one, a little better groomed than their
companions, affecting the same predilections for indiscreet vests and
modish styles that would make them appreciative of the supremacy of
green in the haberdashery arts.

"This is rather good style," he said, with a glance at Troutman's
genteel trousers. "What sort of goods do you call it?"

"Imported Scotch cheviot," said the salesman in a confidential whisper.

Stover looked again at Troutman, who tried discreetly, without being
seen by the unsuspecting Yankee, to convey to him in a look the fact
that it was a crime to acquire the goods at such a price.

Thus tipped off, Dink bought a roll that had in it a distinct
reminiscent tinge of green, and saw it carried to the house, for fear
the salesman should suddenly repent of the sacrifice.

At half past eight that night, as he and Tough McCarthy were painfully
excavating a bit of Greek prose for the morrow, McNab came rushing in.

"Get out, Dopey, we're boning," said McCarthy, reaching for a tennis
racket.

"Boys, the greatest bargain you ever heard," said McNab excitedly,
"come in before it's too late!"

"Bargain?" said Stover, frowning, for the word was beginning to cloy.

McNab, with a show of pantomime, squinted behind the window curtains and
opened the closet door.

"Look here, Dopey, you get out," said Tough, wrathfully, "you're
faking."

"I'm looking for customs officers," said McNab mysteriously.

"What! I say, what's this game?"

"Boys, we've got a couple of _Cuba libre_ dagos rounded up and dancing
on a string."

"For the love of Mike, Dopey, be intelligible."

"It's cigars," said McNab at last.

"Don't want them!"

"But it's smuggled cigars!"

"Oh!"

"Wonderful, pure Havanas, priceless, out of a museum."

"You don't say so."

"And all for the cause of _Cuba libre_. You're for _Cuba libre_, aren't
you?"

"Sure we are."

"Well, these men are patriots."

"Who found them?"

"Buck Waters. They were just going into Pierson Hall to let the sophs
have all the candy. Buck side-tracked them and started them down our
row. Hungerford bought twenty-five dollars' worth."

"Twenty-five? Holy cats!"

"For the cause of _Cuba libre_! Joe is very patriotic. All the boys came
up handsomely."

"Are they good cigars?" said Dink who, since his purchases of the day,
was not exactly moved to tears by the financial needs of an alien though
struggling nation.

"My boy, immense! Wait till you smoke one!"

At this moment there came a gentle scratching at the door, and a
chocolate pair appeared, with Buck Waters in the background.

"Emanuel Garcia and Henry Clay!" said McNab irreverently.

"They smuggled the cigars right through the Spanish lines," said Waters
who, from constant recital, had caught the spirit of unconquerable
revolution.

"How do you know?" said McCarthy suspiciously, watching the unstrapping
of the cigar boxes.

"I speak French," said Waters with pride, and turning to his protégés he
continued fluently, "_Vous êtes patriots, vous avez battlez, soldats
n'est-ce-pas?_ You see, they have had a whole family chopped up for the
cause. The Cuban Junta has sent them over to raise money--very good
family."

"Let's see the cigars," said Stover. "How much a box?"

Curiously enough this seemed to be a phrase of English which could be
understood without difficulty.

"Fourteen dollar."

"That's for a box of a hundred," said McNab, who screwed up the far side
of his face, to indicate bargaining was in order.

"Of course," said Buck Waters, "everything you give goes to the cause.
Remember that."

"Try one," said McNab.

The smaller Cuban with an affable smile held up a bundle.

"Nice white teeth he's got," said Buck Waters encouragingly.

"Don't let him shove one over on you," said McCarthy warningly.

Waters and McNab were indignant.

"Oh, I say fellows, come on. They are patriots."

"If they could understand you they would go right up in the air."

"Nevertheless and notwithstanding," said McCarthy, indicating with his
finger, "I'll take this one; it appeals to me."

"I'll worry this one," said Dink with equal astuteness.

They took several puffs, watched by the enthusiastic spectators.

"Well?" said McNab.

Stover looked wisely at McCarthy, flirting the cigar between his
careless fingers.

"Not bad."

"Rather good bouquet," said McCarthy, who knew no more than Stover.

"Let's begin at eight dollars and stick at ten," said Dink.

At that latter price, despite the openly expressed scorn of the American
allies of the struggle for Cuban independence, Stover received a box of
one hundred finest Havana cigars--fit for a museum, as McNab
repeated--and saw the advance guard of the liberators disappear.

"Dink, it's a shame," said McCarthy gleefully. "Finest cigars I ever
smoked."

They shook hands and Stover, overcome by the look of pain he had seen in
the eyes of the patriots on their final surrender at ten dollars, said,
with a patriotic remorse:

"Poor devils! Think what they're fighting for! If I hadn't been so
lavish to-day, I'd have given them the full price."

"I feel sort of bad about it myself."

About ten o'clock they rose by a common impulse and, seeking out the
cigars with caressing fingers, indulged in another smoke.

"Dink, this is certainly living," said McCarthy, reclining in that
position which his favorite magazine artist ascribed to men of the world
when indulging in extravagant desires.

"Pretty high rolling, old geezer."

"I like this better than the first one."

"Of course with a well-seasoned rare old cigar you don't get all the
beauty of it right at first."

"By George, if those chocolate patriots would come around again I'd give
'em the four plunks."

"I should feel like it," said Dink, who made a distinction.

The next morning being Sunday, they lolled deliciously in bed, and rose
with difficulty at ten.

"Of course I don't believe in smoking before breakfast, as a general
rule," said McCarthy in striped red and blue pajamas, "but I have such a
fond feeling for Cuba."

"I can hardly believe it's true," said Dink, emerging from the covers
like an impressionistic dawn. "Smoke up."

"How is it this morning?"

"Wonderful."

"Better and better."

"I could dream away my life on it."

"We ought to have bought more."

"Too bad."

After chapel, while pursuing their studies in comparative literature in
the Sunday newspapers, they smoked again.

"Well?" said Stover anxiously.

"Well?"

"Marvellous, isn't it?"

"Exquisite."

"Only ten cents apiece!"

"It's the way to buy cigars."

"Trouble is, Dink, old highroller, it's going to be an awful wrench
getting down to earth again. We'll hate anything ordinary, anything
cheap."

"Yes, Tough, we are ruining our future happiness."

"And how good one of the little beauties will taste after that
brutalizing Sunday dinner."

"I can hardly wait. By the way, I blew myself to a few glad rags," said
Dink, bringing out his purchases, "I rather fancy them. How do they
strike you?"

McCarthy emitted a languishing whistle and then his eyes fell on the
cause of all the trouble.

"Keeroogalum! Where did you get the pea-soup?"

The expression did not please. However, Stover had still in the matter
of his sentimental inclinations a certain bashfulness. So he said
dishonestly:

"I had 'em throw it in for a lark."

"Why, the cows would leave the farm."

"Rats. Wait and see," said Dink, who seized the excuse to don the green
shirt.

When Stover's blond locks were seen struggling through the collar
McCarthy exploded:

"It looks like you were coming out of a tree. What the deuce has
happened to you? Are you going out for class beauty? Holy cats! the
socks, the socks!"

"The socks, you Reuben, should match the shirt," said Stover, completing
his toilet under a diplomatic assumption of persiflage.

"Well, you are a lovely thing," said McCarthy, when the new collar and
the selected necktie had transformed Stover. "Lovely! lovely! you
should go out and have the girls fondle you."

At this moment Bob Story arrived, as fate would have it, with an
invitation to dinner at his home.

"Sis is back with a few charmers from Farmington and they're crazy to
meet you."

"Oh, I say," said Stover in sudden alarm. "I'm the limit on the fussing
question."

"Yes, he is," said McCarthy maliciously. "Why, they fall down before him
and beg him to step on them."

"You shut up," said Stover, with wrath in his eye.

"Why, Bob, look at him, isn't he gotten up just to charm and delight?
You'll have to put a fence around him to keep them off."

"In an hour," said Story, making for the door. "Hunter and Hungerford
are coming."

"Hold up."

"Delighted you're coming."

"I say--"

"There's a Miss Sparkes--just crazy about you. You're in luck. Remember
the name--Miss Sparkes."

"Story--Bob, come back here!"

"Au reservoir!"

"I can't go--I won't--" But here Dink, leaning over the banister, heard
a gleeful laugh float up and the sudden banging of the door.

He rushed back frantically to the room and craned out the window, to see
Bob Story sliding around the corner with his fingers spread in a gesture
that is never anything but insulting. He closed the window violently and
returned to the center of the room.

"Damn!"

"Pooh!" said McCarthy, chuckling with delight.

"Petticoats!"

"Alas!"

"A lot of silly, yapping, gushing, fluffy, giggling, tee-heeing,
tittering, languishing, vapid, useless--"

"My boy, immense! Go on!"

"Confound Bob Story, why the deuce did he rope me into this? I loathe
females."

"And one just dotes on you," said McCarthy, with the expression of a
Cheshire cat.

"I won't go," said Stover loudly.

"Are you going in that green symphony?"

"Why not?"

In the midst of this quarrel, Joe Hungerford entered, with a solemn
face.

"You're going to this massacre at Story's?"

"Don't I look like it?" said Dink crossly.

"We'll go over together then," said Hungerford, with a sigh of relief.

"I say, help yourself to a cigar, Joe," said McCarthy, with the air of a
Maecenas.

"_Cuba Libre_?" said Hungerford, approaching the box.

"And _à bas_ Spain!"

Hungerford examined the cigars with a certain amount of caution which
was not lost on the room-mates.

"How many of these have you smoked?" he asked, turning to them with
interest.

"Oh, about three apiece."

"How do you like 'em?"

"Wonderful!" said Dink loudly.

"Wonderful!" said McCarthy.

The three lit up simultaneously.

"What did you pay for yours?" said Hungerford, with a sort of inward
concentration on the flavor.

"Ten bright silver ones."

"I paid twenty-five for two. How do they taste?"

"Wonderful!"

"Troutman only paid seven-fifty for his box."

"What!"

"And Hunter only five."

"Five dollars?" said McCarthy, with a foreboding.

"But what I can't understand is this--"

"What?"

"Dopey McNab got a box at two-fifty."

A sudden silence fell on the room, while, reflectively, each puffed
forth quick, questioning volumes of smoke.

"How do they smoke?" said Hungerford again.

"Wonderful!" said McCarthy, hoping against hope.

"They're not!" said Dink firmly.

He rose, went to the window, and cast forth the malodorous thing.
Hungerford followed suit. McCarthy, proud as the Old Guard, sat smoking
on; only one leg was drawn up under the other in a tense, convulsive
way.

"They were wonderful last night," he said obstinately.

"They certainly were."

"And they were wonderful this morning."

"Not quite so wonderful."

"I like 'em still."

"And Dopey McNab bought a hundred at two-fifty."

This was too much for McCarthy. He surrendered.

Dopey McNab, at this favorable conjunction, sidled into the room with
his box under his arm and the face of a boy soprano on duty.

"I say, fellows, I've got a little proposition to make."

A sort of dull, rolling murmur went around the room which he did not
notice.

"I find I've been cracking my bank account--the fact is, I'm strapped as
a mule and have got to raise enough to pay my wash bill."

"Wash bill, Dopey?" said McCarthy softly.

"We must wash," said Dopey firmly. "To resume. As I detest, abhor, and
likewise shrink from borrowing from friends--"

"Repeat that," said Joe Hungerford.

"I will not. But for all of which reasons, I have a little bargain to
propose. Here is a box of the finest cigars ever struck the place."

"A full box?"

"Only three cigars out."

"Three!" said Hungerford with a significant look at Stover.

"I could sell them on the campus for twenty, easy."

"But you love your friends," said Stover, moving a little, so as to shut
off the retreat.

"Who will give me seven-fifty for it?" said McNab, with the air of one
filling a beggar with ecstasy.

"Seven-fifty. You'll let it go at seven-fifty, Dopey?" said McCarthy
faintly, paralyzed at such duplicity.

"I will."

"Dopey," said Dink, with a signal to the others, "what is the exact
figure of that wash bill of yours?"

"Two dollars and sixty-two cents."

"Will you take two dollars and sixty-two cents for it?"

"You're fooling."

"I am very, very serious."

McNab struck a pose, while over his face was seen the conflict of duty
and avarice.

"Take it," he said at last, in a glow of virtue.

"I didn't say I wanted it."

"You didn't!"

"I only wanted to know what you'd really take."

"What's this mean?" said McNab indignantly.

"Dopey, would you sacrifice it at just a little less?" said Hungerford.

But here McNab, suddenly smelling danger in the air, made a spring
backwards. Hungerford, who was on guard, caught him.

"Put him in the chair and tie him," said Stover, savagely.

Which was done.

"I say, look here, what are you going to do with me?" said McNab,
fiercely.

"You're going to sit there and smoke a couple of those museum cigars,
for our delectation and amusement."

"Assassins!"

"Two cigars."

"Never! I'll starve to death first!"

"All right. Keep on sitting there."

"But this is a crime! Police!"

"There are other crimes, Dopey."

"Hold up," said McNab, frantically, as he perceived the cigar being
prepared. "I've got to dine over at the Story's at one o'clock."

"So have we," said Hungerford, "but McCarthy will watch you for us."

"I will," said McCarthy, licking his chops.

"I've got to be there," said McNab, wriggling in a frenzy.

"Smoke right up, then. You can smoke them in twenty minutes."

"Police!"

"I say, Dink," said Hungerford, as McNab's head whipped from side to
side like a recalcitrant child's. "Perhaps we'd better get in all the
crowd who fell for the cigars--round 'em up."

"I'll smoke it," said McNab instantly.

"I thought you would."

They sat around, unfeelingly, grinning, while McNab, strapped in like a
papoose, rebelliously, with much sputtering and coughing, smoked the
cigar that Dink fed him like a trained nurse.

"Fellows, I've got to get to that dinner."

"We know that, Dopey--but there's one thing you won't do there--tell the
story of the _Cuba libre_ cigar."

"Say, let me off and I'll put you on to a great stunt."

"We can't be bought."

"I'll tell you, I'll trust you! We're going to have a cop-killing over
in Freshman row. We've got a whole depot of Roman candles. Let me off
this second cigar and I'll work you in."

"We'll be there!"

"You bandits, I'll get even with you."

"You probably will, Dopey, but you'll never rob us of this memory."

"Curse you, feed it to me quickly."

The cigar consumed to the last rebellious puff, McNab was released in a
terrific humor, and departed hastily to dress, after remarking in a
deadly manner:

"I'll get you yet--you brutal kidnappers."

"I think it's a rather low trick of Bob Story's," said Stover,
considering surreptitiously in the mirror the effect of his new color
scheme.

"Ditto here," said Hungerford.

Now Stover was in a quandary. He was divided between two emotions. He
firmly thought that he had never looked so transcendingly the perfect
man of fashion, but he had numerous busy doubts as to whether the
exquisite costume was as appropriate at a quiet Sunday dinner as it
undoubtedly would have been in a sporting audience. Still, to make a
change now, under the malicious inspection of Tough McCarthy, would be
to invite a storm of joyful ridicule, so he said hopefully.

"Think it all right to go in this?"

"Why not?"

As this put the burden of the proof on him, Stover remained silent, but
compromised a little by exchanging a rather forward vest for one of
calmer aspect.

"Well," he said, at last, with something between a gulp and a sigh, "I
suppose we'd better push along."

"I suppose so," said Hungerford, who brought a strangle hold to bear on
his necktie and shot a last look down at the slightly wavering line of
his trousers.

At the door, the vision of McNab, like a visiting English duke, bore
down upon them.

"Where in the thunder did you get the boutonnière?" said Stover,
examining him critically.

"Why, Dopey, you're a dude!" said Hungerford disapprovingly.

"Everything is correct--brilliant, but correct," said McNab with a flip
of his fingers. "Come on now--we're late."

Half way there, when the conversation had completely fizzled out, McNab
said cheerily:

"How d'ye feel? Getting a little nervous, eh? Getting cold feelings up
and down your back? Fingers twitching--what?"

"Don't be an ass," said Hungerford huskily.

"Chump," said Stover, feeling all at once the tightness of his vest.

"'Course you know, boys, you're dressed all wrong--in shocking taste.
You know that, don't you? Thought I'd better tell you before the girls
begin giggling at you."

"Huh!"

"Joe's bad enough in a liver-colored sack, but Dink's unspeakable!"

"I am! What's wrong?"

"Fancy wearing a colored shirt--and such a color! You're gotten up for a
boating party--not for a formal lunch. You're unspeakable, Dink,
unspeakable! Look at me. I'm a delight--black and white, immaculate,
impressive, and absolutely correct."

By this time they had reached the steps.

"Now, don't try to shine your shoes on your trousers. It always shows.
Don't stumble or trip when you go in. Don't bump against the furniture.
Don't stutter. Don't hold on to your hostess to keep from falling over.
And don't, _don't_ shoot your cuffs."

McNab's malicious advice reduced Hungerford to a panic, while only the
consciousness of his public importance prevented Stover from bolting as
he saw McNab press the button.

"Stand up straight and keep your hands out of your pockets."

"Dopey, I'll wring your neck if you don't stop!"

"Ditto."

"Say something interesting to every girl," continued McNab, in a solemn
whisper. "Talk about art or literature."

The door opened, and they stumbled into the ante-room, from which escape
was impossible.

"Dink," said McNab in a last whisper.

"What?"

"Don't ask twice for soup, and stop shooting that cuff."

The next moment Stover, who had been thrust forward by the other two,
found himself crossing the perilous track of slippery rugs on slippery
floors, and suddenly the cynosure of at least a hundred eyes.

Judge Story had him by the hand, patting him on the back, smiling up at
him with a smile he never forgot--a little lithe man bristling with good
humor and the genius of good cheer.

"Stover, I'm glad to shake your hand. We did all we could for you in
those last rushes. We rooted hard. My wife assaulted a clergyman in
front of her, and my daughter was found afterward weeping with her arms
around the man next to her. I certainly am proud to shake your hand. I
won't shake it too long, because"--here he looked up in a confidential
whisper--"because the girls have been fidgeting at the window for an
hour. Look them over and tell me which one you want to sit next to you,
and I'll fix it."

"Dad, aren't you awful?" said a voice in only laughing disapproval.

"My daughter," said the judge, passing joyfully on to Hungerford.

"Indeed, I'm very glad to meet you."

He shook hands, a trifle embarrassed, with a young lady of quiet
self-possession, gentle in voice and action, with somewhat of the
thoughtful reserve of her brother.

He followed her, only half conscious of a certain floating grace and the
pleasure of following her movements, bowing with cataleptic bobs of his
head as the introductions ran on:

"Miss Sparkes."

"Miss Green."

"Miss Woostelle."

"Miss Raymond."

Then he straightened and allowed his chin to right itself over the brink
of his mounting collar, smiling, but without hearing the outburst that
went up from the equally agitated sex:

"Isn't the Judge perfectly terrible!"

"You mustn't believe a word he says."

"Don't you think he's lovely, though?"

"We really were so excited at the game."

"Oh, dear, I almost cried my eyes out."

"We thought you were perfectly splendid."

"We did want you to score so."

"I just hated those Princeton men, they were so much bigger."

Hungerford and McNab coming up for presentation, he found himself a
little to leeward, clinging to a chair, and, opening his eyes, perceived
for the first time Hunter, with whom he shook hands with the
convulsiveness of a death grip.

Miss Sparkes, a rather fluttering brunette with dimples and enthusiastic
eyes, cut off his retreat and isolated him in a corner, where he was
forced to listen to a disquisition on the theory of football, supremely
conscious that the unforgiving McNab was making him a subject of
conversation with the young lady to whom he was rapidly succumbing.

The entrance of Mrs. Story and Bob, and the welcome descent on the
dining-room, for a moment made him forget the awful fact that he had
perceived, on his entrance, that the green shirt was, in fact, nothing
short of a social outrage.

"Every one sitting next to the person they want," said the Judge
roguishly, his glance rolling around the table. "By George, if that
body-snatcher of a Miss Sparkes hasn't bagged Stover--well, I never!
Seems to me a certain party named Hungerford has done very well indeed.
McNab, I perceive, is going to set the fashions for the class, but I
certainly do like Stover's green shirt."

At this a shout went up, and Stover's ears began to boil.

"I don't see what you're ha-ha-ing about, Mr. McNab," continued the
Judge, diverting the attack, "descending upon us, a quiet, respectable
back-woods family, with a boutonnière! I think that's putting on a good
deal of airs, don't you? Now, boys, don't let these young society ladies
from Farmington pretend they're too delicate to eat. You ought to see
the breakfast they devoured. Everybody happy all right."

In five minutes all were at ease, chattering away like so many magpies.
Stover, finding that his breath came easier, recovered himself and
listened with a tolerant sense of pleasure while Miss Sparkes rushed on.

"The girls up at Farmington will be so excited when they hear I've
actually sat next to you at the table. You know, we're all just crazy
about football. Oh, it gets me so excited! Dudley's the new captain,
isn't he? I met him last summer at a dance down at Long Island. I admire
him tremendously, don't you? He has such a _strong_ character."

He nodded from time to time, replied in dignified monosyllables, and
became pleasurably aware that Miss Raymond, opposite, in disloyalty to
her companion, had one ear trained to catch his slightest word, while
Miss Green and Miss Woostelle, farther away, watched him covertly over
the foliage of the celery. He was a lion among ladies for the first
time--a sensation he had sworn to loathe and detest; and yet there was
in him a sort of warm growing feeling that he could not explain but that
was quite far from unpleasant.

"If Miss Sparkes, Mr. Stover, will stop whispering in your ear for just
a moment," said the Judge, on mischief bent, "you can help Mrs. Story
with the beef."

"You'll get accustomed to him soon," said his hostess, smiling. "There,
if you'll steady the platter I think we two can manage it. I am so glad
to have you here. Bob has spoken of you so often. I hope you'll be good
friends."

There was something leonine and yet very feminine in her face, a quiet
and restfulness that drew him irresistibly to her and gave him the
secret of the reserve and charm that was in her children.

Of all the delegation from school, Jean Story alone had not seemed aware
of his imposing stature. She was sitting between Hungerford and Hunter,
whom she called by his first name, and her way of speaking, unlike the
impulsiveness of her companions, was measured and thoughtful. She had a
quantity of ash-colored hair which, like her dress, seemed to be
floating about her. Her forehead was clear, a little serious, and her
eyes, while devoid of coquetry, held him with their directness and
simplicity.

He found himself only half hearing the conversation that Miss Sparkes
rolled into his ear, watching the movements of other hands, feeling a
little antagonism to Hunter and wondering how long they had known each
other.

Dinner over, he forgot his shyness, and went up to her with the quick
direction which was impulsive in him when he was strongly interested.

"I want to talk to you," he said.

"Yes?"

She looked at him, a little surprised at the bluntness of his
introduction, but not displeased.

"You are very like your brother," he said. She seemed younger than he
had thought.

"I am glad of that," she answered, with a genuine smile. "Bob and I are
old friends."

"I hope you'll be my friend," he said.

She turned, and then, seeing in his face only sincerity, nodded her
head slightly and said:

"Thank you."

He said very little more, ill at ease, a feeling that also seemed to
have gained possession of her.

Miss Raymond and Miss Woostelle came up, and he found himself restored
to the rôle of a hero, a little piqued at Miss Story's different
attitude, always aware of her movements, hearing her low voice through
all the chatter of the room.

He went home very thoughtful, keeping out of the laughing discussion
that went on, watching from the corner of his eye Hunter, and wondering
with a little unexplained resentment just how well he knew the Storys.



CHAPTER XIII


With Stover's return after the Christmas vacation the full significance
of the society dominion burst over him. The night that the hold-offs
were to be given, there was a little joking at the club table, but it
was only lip-deep. The crisis was too vital. Chris Schley and Troutman,
who were none too confident, were plainly nervous.

Stover and McCarthy walked home directly to their rooms, and took up the
next day's lessons as a convenient method of killing time.

"You're not worrying?" said Stover suddenly.

McCarthy put down the penitential book, and, rising, stretched himself,
nervously resorting to his pipe.

"Not for a hold-off--no. That ought to be all right."

"And afterward?"

"Don't speak about it."

"Rats! You'll be pledged about the eighth or tenth."

"What time is it?" said McCarthy shortly.

"Five minutes more."

This time each took up his book in order to be found in an
inconsequential attitude, outwardly indifferent, as all Anglo-Saxons
should be. From without, the hour rang its dull, leaden, measured tones.
Almost immediately a knock sounded on the door, and Le Baron appeared,
hurried, businesslike, mysterious, saying:

"Stover, want to see you in the other room a moment."

Dink retired with him into the bedroom, and received his hold-off in a
few matter-of-fact sentences. A second after, Le Baron was out of the
door, rushing down the steps.

"Your turn next," said Stover, with a wave of his hand to McCarthy.

"Yes."

The sound of hurrying feet and the shudder of hastily banged doors
filled the house.

"My, they're having a busy time of it," said Stover.

"Yes."

Ten minutes passed. McCarthy, staring at his page, mechanically took up
the dictionary, hiding the fear that started up. Stover rose, going to
the window.

"They're running around Pierson Hall like a lot of ants," he said,
drumming against the window.

"How far's this advance go?" said McCarthy in a matter-of-fact tone.

"End of page 152," said Stover. He came back frowning, glancing at the
clock. It was seventeen minutes after the hour.

All at once, outside, came a clatter of feet, and the door opened on
Waring, out of breath and flustered.

"McCarthy, like to see you a moment."

Stover returned to the window, gazing out. Presently behind his back he
heard the two return, the door bang, and McCarthy's voice saying:

"It's all right, Dink."

"All right?" he said.

"Yes."

"Glad of it."

"He gave me a little scare, though."

"Your crowd lost a couple of men; besides, you give more hold-offs."

"That's it."

They abandoned the subject by mutual consent; only Stover remembered
for months after the tension he had felt and the tugging at the
heart-strings. If he could feel that way for his friend, what would be
his sensations when he faced his own crisis on Tap Day?

Fellows from other houses came thronging in with reports of how the
class had divided up. Every one had his own list of the hold-offs,
completing it according to the last returns, amid a bedlam of questions.

"How did Story go?"

"Did Schley get a hold-off?"

"Yes, but Troutman didn't."

"He did, too."

"When?"

"Half an hour late."

"Brockhurst got one."

"You don't say so!"

"Gimbel get anythin'?"

"No."

"Regan?"

"Don't know."

"Any one know about Regan?"

"No."

"How about Buck Waters?"

"I don't know. I think not."

"Damned shame."

"What, is Buck left out?"

"'Fraid so."

"What's wrong?"

"Too much sense of humor."

Stover, off at one side, watched the group, seeing the interested
calculation as each scanned his own list, wondering who would have to be
eliminated if he were to be chosen. Story, Tommy Bain, and Hunter were
in his crowd, as he had foreseen.

He went out and across the campus to South Middle, where Regan was now
rooming. By the Coöp he found Bob Story, and together they went up the
creaky stairs. Regan was out--just where, the man who roomed on his
entry did not know.

"How long has he been out?" said Story anxiously.

"Ever since supper."

"Didn't he come in at all?"

"No."

"Were they going to give him a hold-off?" said Stover, as they went
down.

"Yes. They've been looking everywhere for him."

"I don't think the old boy would take it."

"Can't you make him see what it would mean to him?"

"I've tried."

"I'm afraid Regan's queered himself with a lot of our crowd," said Story
thoughtfully. "They don't understand him and he doesn't want to
understand them. Didn't he know this was the night?"

"Yes; I told him."

"Stayed away on purpose?"

"Probably."

"Too bad. He's just the sort of man we ought to have."

"How do you feel about the whole proposition?" said Stover curiously.

"The sophomore society question?" said Story frankly. "Why, I think
there've got to be some reforms made; they ought to be kept more
democratic."

"You think that?"

"Yes; I think we want to keep away a good deal from the social
admiration game--be representative of the real things in Yale life;
that's why we need a man like Regan. Course, I think this--that we've
all got too much this society idea in our heads; but, since they exist
it's better to do what we can to make them representative and not
snobbish."

Stover was surprised at the maturity of judgment in the young fellow, as
well as his simplicity of expression. He would have liked to talk to him
further on deeper subjects, but, as always, the first steps were
difficult and as yet he accepted things without a clear understanding of
reasons.

He went up with Story for a little chat. There was about the room a tone
of quiet good taste and thoughtfulness quite different from the boyish
exuberance of other rooms. The pictures were Braunotypes of paintings he
did not know, while bits of plaster casts mellowed with wax enlivened
the serried contents of the book-shelves.

"You've got a lot of books," said Stover, feeling his way.

"Yes. Drop in and borrow them any time you want."

While Story flung a couple of cushions on the state arm-chair and
brought out the tobacco, Dink examined the shelves respectfully,
surprised and impressed by the quality of the titles, French, German,
and Russian.

"Why do you room alone, Bob?" he said, with some curiosity, knowing
Story's popularity.

"I wanted to." Story was opposite, his face blocked out in sudden
shadows from the standing lamp, that accentuated a certain wistful,
pensive quality it had. "I enjoy being by myself. It gives me time to
think and look around me."

"Are you going out for anything?" said Stover, wondering a little at the
impression Story had made already, through nothing but the charm and
sincerity of his character.

"Yes, I'm going out for the _News_ next month, and besides I'm heeling
the _Lit_."

"Oh, you are?" said Stover, surprised.

"But it comes hard," said Story, with a grimace. "I have to work like
sin over every line. It's all hammered out. Brockhurst is the fellow who
can do the stuff."

"Do you know him at all?"

"He won't let any one know him. I've tried. I don't think he quite knows
yet how to meet fellows. I'm sorry. He really interests me."

"That's a good photo of your sister," said Stover, who had held the
question in leash ever since his entrance.

"So, so."

"How much longer has she at Farmington?"

"Last year."

"Going abroad afterwards?" said Stover carelessly.

"No, indeed. Stay right here."

"I like her," said Stover. "It's quite a privilege to know her."

Story looked up and a pleased smile came to him.

"Yes, it is," he said.

"Bob, what do you think about McCarthy's chances?"

Story considered a moment.

"Only fair," he said.

"Why, what's wrong with him?"

"He hasn't any one ahead pulling for him," said Story, "and most of the
other fellows have. That's one fault we have."

"It would knock him out to miss."

"It is tough."

They spoke a little more in a desultory way, and Stover left. He was
dissatisfied. He wanted Story to like him, conscious of a new longing in
himself for the friendships that did not come, and yet somehow he could
find no common ground of conversation. Moreover, and he rather resented
it, there was not in Story the least trace of the admiration and
reverence that he was accustomed to receive, as a leader should receive.

The following weeks were ones of intrigue and nervous speculation.
Pledged among the first, he found himself with Hunter, Story, and Tommy
Bain in the position of adviser as to the selection of the rest of his
crowd. Hunter and Bain, each with an object in view, sought to enlist
his aid. He perceived their intentions, not duped by the new cordiality,
growing more and more antagonistic to their businesslike ambitions. With
Joe Hungerford and Bob Story he found his real friends. And yet, what
completely surprised him was the lack of careless, indolent camaraderie
which he had known at school and had expected in larger scope at
college. Every one was busy, working with a dogged persistence along
some line of ambition. The long, lazy afternoons and pleasant evenings
were not there. Instead was the grinding of the mills and the turning of
the wheels. How it was with the rest he ignored; but with his own
crowd--the chosen--life was earnest, disciplined in a set purpose. He
felt it in the open afternoon, in the quiet passage of candidates for
the baseball teams, the track, and the crew; in the evenings, in the
strumming of instruments from Alumni Hall and the practising of musical
organizations, and most of all in the flitting, breathless passage of
the _News_ heelers--in snow or sleet, running in and out of buildings,
frantically chasing down a tip, haggard with the long-drawn-out struggle
now ending the fourth month.

He himself had surrendered again to this compelling activity and gone
over to the gymnasium, taking his place at the oars in the churning
tanks, bending methodically as the bare torso of the man in front bent
or shot back, concentrating all his faculties on the shouted words of
advice from the pacing coach above him.

He was too light to win in the competition of unusual material--he could
only hope for a second or third substitute at best; but that was what
counted, he said to himself, what made competition in the class and
brought others out, just as it did in football. And so he stuck to his
grind, satisfied, on the whole, that his afternoons were mapped out for
him.

Meanwhile the pledges to the sophomore societies continued and the field
began to narrow. McCarthy's hold-off was renewed each time, but the
election did not arrive.

In his own crowd Story, Hungerford, and himself found themselves in
earnest alliance for the election of Regan and Brockhurst. Regan,
however, had so antagonized certain members of their sophomore crowd
that their task was well-nigh impossible. He had been pronounced
"fresh," equivalent almost to a ban of excommunication, for his
extraordinary lack of reverence to things that traditionally should be
revered, and as he had a blunt, direct way of showing in his eyes what
he liked and disliked, his sterling qualities were forgotten in the
irritation he caused. Besides, as the opening narrowed to three or four
vacancies, Hunter and Bain, in the service of their own friends, arrayed
themselves in silent opposition to him and to Brockhurst.

About the latter, Stover found himself increasingly unable to make up
his mind. He went to see him once or twice, but the visit was never
returned. In his infallibility--for infallibility is a requisite of a
leader--he decided that there was something queer about him. He rather
shunned others, took long walks by himself, in a crowd always seemed
removed, watching others with a distant eye which had in it a little
mockery. His room was always in confusion, as was his tousled hair. In
a word, he was a little of a barbarian, who did not speak the ready lip
language that was current in social gatherings, and, unfortunately, did
not show well his paces when confronted with inspection. So when the
final vote came Stover, infallible judge of human nature,
conscientiously decided that Brockhurst did not rank with the
exceedingly choice crowd of which he was a leader.

With the arrival of the elections for the managerships of the four big
athletic organizations, positions in the past disputed by the
candidacies of the three sophomore societies, a revolution took place.
The non-society element, organized by Gimbel and other insurgents ahead
of him, put up a candidate for the football managership and elected him
by an overwhelming majority, and repeated their success with the Navy.

The second victory was like the throwing down of a gauntlet. The class,
which had been quietly dividing since the advent of the hold-offs,
definitely split, and for the first time Stover became aware of the
soundness of the opposition to the social system of which he was a
prospective leader. Quite to his surprise, Jim Hunter appeared in his
room one night.

"What the deuce does he want now?" he thought to himself, wondering if
he were to be again solicited in favor of Stone, who was still short of
election.

"I say, Dink, we're up against a serious row," said Hunter, making
himself comfortable and speaking always in the same unvarying tone. "The
class is split to pieces."

"It looks that way."

"It's all Gimbel and that crowd of soreheads he runs. We had trouble
with him up at Andover."

"Well, Jim, what do you think about the whole proposition?" said
Stover. "The college seems pretty strong against us."

"It's just a couple of men who are cooking it up to work themselves into
office," said Hunter, dismissing the idea lightly. "You'll see, that's
all there is to it."

Somehow, Stover found that renewed contest with Hunter only increased
the feeling of antagonism he had felt from the first. He was aware of a
growing resistance to Hunter's point of view, guarded and deliberate as
it was. So he said point blank:

"I'm not so sure there isn't some basis for the feeling. We ought to
watch out and make ourselves as democratic as possible."

"My dear fellow," said Hunter, in the tone of amused worldliness, "these
anti-society fights go on everywhere. There was a great hullabaloo six
or seven years ago, and then it all died out. You'll see, that's what'll
happen. Gimbel'll get what he wants, then he'll quiet down and hope to
make a senior society. Don't get too excited over things that happen in
freshman year."

"Have you talked with Story?" said Stover, resenting his tone.

"Bob's got a curious twist--he's a good deal of a dreamer."

"Then you wouldn't make any changes?"

"No, not in our crowd," said Hunter. "I think we do very well what we
set out to get--the representative men of the class, to bring them
together into close friendship, and make them understand one another's
point of view and so work together for the best in the university."

"You think the outsiders don't count?"

"As a rule, no. Of course, there are one or two men who develop later,
but if there's anything in them they'll really make good."

"Rather tough work, won't it be?"

"Yes; but every system has its faults."

"What did you come in to see me about?" said Stover abruptly.

"To talk the situation over," said Hunter, not seeming to perceive the
hostility of the question. "I think all of us in the crowd ought to be
very careful."

"About what?"

"About talking too much."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean, if you have any criticism on the system, keep it to yourself.
Gimbel is raising enough trouble; the only thing is for us to shut up
and not encourage them by making the kickers think that any of us agree
with them."

"So that's what you came in to say to me?"

"Yes."

"You're for no compromise."

"I am."

"Are there fellows in our crowd, or the classes ahead, who feel as Story
does?"

"Yes; of course there are a few."

"And, Hunter, you see no faults in the system?"

"What other system would you suggest?"

Now, Stover had not yet come to a critical analysis of his own good
fortune, nor had he any more than a personal antagonism for Hunter
himself. He did not answer, unwilling to let this feeling color his
views on what he began to perceive might some day shape itself as a test
of his courage.

Hunter left presently, as he had come up, without enthusiasm, always
cold, always deliberate. When he had gone, Stover became a little angry
at the advice so openly imposed on him, and as a result he decided on a
sudden move.

If the split in the class was acute, something ought to be done. If
Hunter, as a leader, was resolved on contemptuous isolation, he would do
a bigger thing in a bigger way.

In pursuance of this idea, he suddenly set out to find Gimbel and
provoke a frank discussion. If anything could be done to hold the class
together and stop the rise of political dissension, it was his duty as a
responsible leader to do what he could to prevent it.

When he reached the room, it was crowded, and an excited discussion was
going on, which dropped suddenly on his entrance. What the subject of
conversation was he had a shrewd suspicion, seeing several
representatives from Sheff.

"Hello, Stover. Come right in. Glad to see you." Gimbel, a little
puzzled at this first visit, came forward cordially. "You know every one
here, don't you? Jackson, shake hands with Stover. What'll you have,
pipe or cigarette?"

Stover nodded to the fellows whom he knew on slight acquaintance,
settled in an arm-chair, brought forth his pipe, and said with assumed
carelessness:

"What was all the pow-wow about when I arrived?"

A certain embarrassment stirred in the room, but Gimbel, smiling at the
question, said frankly:

"We were fixing up a combination for the baseball managership. We are
going to lick you fellows to a scramble. That's what you've come over to
talk about, isn't it?"

"Yes."

The crowd, plainly disconcerted at this smiling passage of arms, began
to melt away with hastily formed excuses.

"Quite a meeting-place, Gimbel, you have here," said Stover, nodding to
the last disappearing group.

"Politicians should have," replied Gimbel, straddling a chair, and,
leaning his arms on the back, he added, smiling: "Well, fire away."

Each had grown in authority since their first meeting on the opening of
college, nor was the question of war or peace yet decided between them.

"Gimbel, I hope we can talk this thing over openly."

"I think we can."

"I'm doing an unusual thing in coming to you. You're a power in this
class."

"And you represent the other side," said Gimbel. "Go on."

"You're going to run a candidate for the baseball managership."

"I'm not running him, but I'm making the combination for this class."

"Same thing."

"Just about."

"Are you fellows going to shut out every society man that goes up for a
class election?"

"You're putting a pretty direct question."

"Answer it if you want to."

"Yes, I'll answer it." Gimbel looked at him, plainly concerned in
emulating his frankness, and continued: "Stover, this anti-sophomore
society fight is a fight to the finish. We are going to put up an
outsider, as you call it, for every election, and we're going to elect
him."

"Why?"

"Because we are serving notice that we are against a system that is
political and undemocratic."

"What good'll it do?"

"We'll abolish the whole system."

"Do you really believe that?" said Stover, strangely enough, adopting
Hunter's attitude.

"I do; I may know the feeling in the upper classes better than you do."

"Gimbel, how much of this is real opposition and how much is worked up
by you and others?"

"My dear Stover, why ask who is responsible? Ask if the opposition is
genuine and whether it's going to stick."

"I don't believe it is."

"That's not it. What you want to know is how much is conviction in me,
and how much is just the fun of running things and stirring up
mischief."

"That does puzzle me--yes. But what I want _you_ to see is, you're
splitting up the class."

"I'm not doing it, and you're not doing it. It's the class ahead that's
interfering and doing it. Now, Stover, I've answered your questions.
Will you answer mine?"

"That's fair."

"If you put up a candidate, why shouldn't we?"

"But you make politics out of it."

"Do you ever support the candidate of another crowd?"

Stover was silent.

"Stover, do you know that for years these elections have gone on with
just three candidates offered, one each from your three sophomore
societies? And how have they been run? By putting up your lame ducks."

"Oh, come."

"Not always. But if you think you can elect a weak member instead of a
strong one, you trot out the lame duck. Why? Because at the bottom you
are not really social, but political; because your main object is to
get as many of your men into senior societies as you can."

"Well, why not?"

"Because you're doing it at the expense of the class--by making us
bolster up the weak ones with an office."

"I don't think that's entirely fair."

"You'll see. Look at the last candidates the sophomores put up. You
haven't answered my questions. Why shouldn't we non-society men,
six-sevenths of the class, have the right to put up our candidates and
elect them?"

"You have," said Stover; "but, Gimbel, you're not doing it for that.
You're doing it to knock us out."

"Quite true."

"That means the whole class goes to smash--that we're going to have
nothing but fights and hard feelings from now on. Is that what you
want?"

"Stover, it's a bigger thing than just the peace of mind of our class."

"But what is your objection to us?" said Stover.

"My objection is that just that class feeling and harmony you spoke of
your societies have already destroyed."

"In what way?"

"Because you break in and take little groups out of the body of the
class and herd together."

"You exaggerate."

"Oh, no, I don't; and you'll see it more next year. You've formed your
crowd, and you'll stick together and you'll all do everything you can to
help each other along. That's natural. But don't come and say to me that
we fellows are dividing the class."

"Rats, Gimbel! Just because I'm in a soph isn't going to make any
difference with the men I see."

"You think so?" said Gimbel, looking at him with real curiosity.

"You bet it won't."

"Wait and see."

"That's too ridiculous!"

Stover, feeling his anger gaining possession of him, rose abruptly.

"How can it be otherwise?" said Gimbel, persisting.

"Next year the only outsiders you'll see will be a few bootlickers
who'll attach themselves to you to get pulled into a junior society. The
real men won't go with you, because they don't want to kowtow and heel."

"We'll see."

"I say, Stover," said Gimbel abruptly, as Dink, for fear of losing his
temper, was leaving. "Now, be square. You've come to me frankly--I won't
say impertinently--and I've answered your questions and told you openly
what we're going to do. Give me credit for that, will you?"

"I don't believe in you," said Stover, facing him.

"I know you don't," said Gimbel, flushing a little, "but you will before
you get through."

"I doubt it."

"And I'll tell you another thing you'll do before this sophomore society
fight is ended," said Gimbel, with a sudden heat.

"What?"

"You'll stand on the right side--where we stand."

"You think so?"

"I know it!"



CHAPTER XIV


When a freshman has been invited to dinner and in a rash moment accepted
the invitation and lived through the agony, he usually pays his party
call (always supposing that he has imbibed a certain amount of home
etiquette) sometime before graduation. In the balance of freshman year
the obligation possesses him like a specter of remorse; in sophomore
year he remembers it by fits and starts, always in the middle of the
week, in time to forget it by Sunday; in junior year he is tempted once
or twice to use it as an excuse for sporting his newly won high hat and
frock-coat, but fears he has offended too deeply; and in senior year he
watches the local society columns for departures, and rushes around to
deposit his cards, with an expression of surprise and regret when
informed at the door that the family is away.

Dink Stover temporized, confronted with the awful ordeal of arraying
himself in his Sunday prison garb and stiffly traversing the long,
tricky, rug-strewn hall of the Story's, with the chance of suddenly
showing his whole person to a dozen inquisitive eyes. He let the first
Sunday pass without a qualm, as being too unnecessarily close and
familiar. On the second Sunday he decided to wait until he had received
the suit made of goods purchased at a miraculous bargain from the
unsuspecting Yankee drummer. The third Sunday he completely forgot his
duties as a man of fashion. On the fourth Sunday, in a panic, he bound
his neck in a shackling high collar, donned his new suit, which looked
as lovely as everything that is new and untried can look, and went
post-haste in search of Hungerford as a companion in misery and a post
to which to cling. To his horror, Hungerford had paid his visit, and
felt very doubtful as to the propriety of repeating it before having
been again fed.

Dink returned for McNab or Hunter as the lesser of two evils. They were
both out. Being in stiff and circumstantial attire, the afternoon was
manifestly lost. With a sort of desperate hope for some miraculous
evasion, he set out laggingly for the Story mansion, revolving different
plans.

"I might leave a card at the door," he thought to himself, "and tell the
girl that my room-mate was desperately ill--that I had just run in for a
moment because I wanted them to know, to know--to know what?"

The idea expired noiselessly. He likewise rejected the idea of stalking
the door Indian fashion, and slipping the card under the crack as if he
had rung and not been heard.

"After all, they might be out," he thought at last, hopefully. "I'll
just go by quietly and see if I can hear anything."

But at the moment when he came abreast the steps a carriage drove up,
the door opened, and Judge Story and his wife came down. Stover came to
a balky stop, hastily snatching away his derby.

"Why, bless me if it isn't Mr. Stover," said the Judge instantly.
"Dressed to kill, too. Never expected to see you until I went around
myself, with an injunction. How did you screw up your courage?"

Mrs. Story came to his rescue, smiling a little at his tell-tale face.

"Don't stop on my account," said Stover, very much embarrassed. "It's a
beautiful day for a ride, beautiful."

"Oh, you are not going to get off as easily as that," said the Judge,
delighted. "My daughter Jean is inside watching you from behind the
curtains. Go right up and entertain her with some side-splitting
stories. Besides, Miss Kelly is there with some important top-heavy
junior who thinks he's making an awful hit with her. Go in and steal her
right away from him."

The maid stood at the open door. There was nothing to do but to toil up
the penal steps, heart in mouth.

"Is Miss Story in?" he said in a lugubrious voice. "Will you present her
with this card?"

"Step right into the parlor, sah. You'll find Miss Jean there," said the
colored maid, with no feeling at all for his suffering.

He caught a fleeting, unreassuring glimpse of himself in a dark mirror,
successfully negotiated the sliding rugs, and all at once found himself
somehow in the cheery parlor alone with Miss Story, shaking hands.

"Miss Kelly is here?" he said, perfunctorily stalking to a chair.

"No, indeed."

"Why your father said--"

"That was only his way--he's a dreadful tease."

Stover drew a more quiet breath, and even relaxed into a smile.

"He had me all primed up for a junior, at least."

"Isn't Dad dreadful! That's why you came in with such overpowering
dignity?"

Stover laughed, a little pleased that his entrance could be so
described, and, shifting to a less painfully contracted position,
sought anxiously for some brilliant opening that would make the
conversation a distinguished success.

Now, although he still retained his invincible determination to keep his
faith from women, he had during certain pleasant episodes of the last
vacation condescended to listen politely to the not disagreeable
adoration of a score of hero-worshiping young ladies still languishing
in boarding-schools. He had learned the trick of such conversations,
exchanged photographs with the laudable intention of making his rooms
more like an art gallery than ever, and carried off as mementos such
articles as fans, handkerchiefs, flowers, etc.

But, somehow, the stock phrases were out of place here. He tried one or
two openings, and then relapsed, watching her as she took up the
conversation easily and ran on. Ever since their first meeting the
charming silhouette of the young girl had been in his mind. He watched
her as she rose once or twice to cross the room, and her movements had
the same gentle rhythm that mystified him in her voice. Yet he was
conscious of a certain antagonism. His vanity, perhaps, was a little
stirred. She was not flattered in the least by his attentions, which in
itself was an incredible thing. There was about her not the slightest
suggestion of coquetry--in fact, not more than a polite uninterested
attitude toward a guest. And, perceiving this all at once, a desire came
to him to force from her some recognition.

"You are very much like Bob," he said abruptly, "you are very hard to
know."

"Really?"

"I really want to know your brother, but I can't. I don't think he likes
me," he said.

"I don't think Bob knows you," she said carefully, raising her eyes in
a little surprise. "You're right; we both take a long time to make up
our minds."

"Then what I said is true?" he persisted.

She looked at him a moment, as if wondering how frank she might be, and
said after a little deliberation:

"I think he's in a little doubt about you."

"In doubt," said the prospective captain of a Yale eleven, vastly
amazed. "How?"

"You will succeed; I am sure of that."

"Well, what then?" he said, wondering what other standard could be
applied.

"I wonder how _real_ you will be in your success," she said, looking at
him steadily.

"You think I am calculating and cold about it," he said, insisting.

She nodded her head, and then corrected herself.

"I think you are in danger of it--being entirely absorbed in
yourself--not much to give to others--that's what I mean."

"By George," said Dink, open-mouthed, "you are the strangest person I
ever met in my life!"

She colored a little at this, and said hastily:

"I beg your pardon; I didn't realize what I was saying."

"You may be right, too." He rose and walked a little, thinking it over.
He stopped suddenly and turned to her. "Why do you think I'm not
'real'?"

"I don't believe you have begun to think yet."

"Why not?"

"Because--well, because you are too popular, too successful. It's all
come too easily. You've had nothing to test you. There's nothing so much
alike as the successful men here."

"You are very old for your years," he said, plainly annoyed.

"No; I listen. Bob and Dad say the same thing."

"You know, I wanted you to be my friend," he said, suddenly brushing
aside the conversation. "You remember?"

"I should like to be your friend," she said quietly.

"If I turn out as you want."

"Certainly."

He seized an early opportunity to leave, furious at what (not
understanding that the instincts of a first antagonism in a young girl
are sometimes evidence of a growing interest) he felt was her
indifference. He did not go directly to his rooms, but struck out for a
brisk walk up the avenue.

"What the deuce does she think I'm going to turn out?" he said to
himself, with some irritation. "Turn out? Absurd! Haven't I done
everything I should do? I've only been here a year, and I stand for
something. By George, I'd like to know how many men get where I've
gotten the first year." Looking back over the year, he was quickly
reassured on this vital point. "If she thinks I'm calculating, how about
Hunter? He's the original cold fish," he said. "Yes, what about him?
Absurd. She just said that to provoke me." He sought in his mind some
epithet adequate to such impertinence, and declared: "She's
young--that's it; she's _quite_ young."

Suddenly he thought of Regan, who had intruded his shadow across the
path of his personal ambition. Had he really been honest about Regan?
Could he not have made him see the advantages of belonging to a
sophomore society, if he had really tried? Whereupon Mr. Dink Stover
began a long, victorious debate with his conscience, one of those
soul-satisfying arguments that always end one way, as conscience is a
singularly poor debater when pitted against a resourceful mind.

"Heavens! haven't I been the best friend he's had?" he concluded.
"Perhaps I might have talked more to him about the sophomore question,
but then, I know I never could have changed him. So what's the odds? I'm
democratic and liberal. Didn't I go to Gimbel and have it out? I can see
the other side, too. What the deuce, then, did she mean?"

After another long period of furious tramping, he answered this vexing
question in the following irrelevant way: "By George, what an
extraordinary girl she is! I must go around again and talk with her. She
brushes me up."

And around he did go, not once, but several times. The first little
antagonism between them gradually wore away, and yet he was aware of a
certain defensive attitude in her, a judgment that was reserved; and as,
by the perfected averaging system of college, he had lost in one short
year all the originality and imagination he had brought with him, he was
quite at a loss to understand what she found lacking in so important and
successful a personage as Mr. John Humperdink Stover.

Naturally, he felt that he was in love. This extraordinary passion came
to him in the most sudden and convincing manner. He corresponded, with
much physical and mental agony, with what is called a dashing brunette,
with whom he had danced eleven dances out of a possible sixteen on the
occasion of a house-party in the Christmas vacation, on the strength of
which they had exchanged photographs and simulated a confidential
correspondence. He had done this because he had plainly perceived it was
the thing for a man to do, as one watches the crease in the trousers or
exposes a vest a little more daring than the rest. It gave him a sort of
reputation among lady-killers that was not distasteful. At Easter he had
annexed a blonde, who wrote effusive rolling scrawls and used a
noticeable crest. He had done this, likewise, because he wished to be
known as a destructive force, as one who rather allowed himself to be
loved. But he found the manual labor too taxing. He was cruel and abrupt
to the blonde, but he consoled himself by saying to himself that he had
restored to the little girl her peace of mind.

On Sunday evening, then, according to tacit agreement, after a pipe had
been smoked and the fifth Sunday newspaper had been searched for the
third time, McCarthy stretched himself like a cat and said:

"Well, I guess I'll dash off a few heart-throbs to the dear little
things."

"That reminds me," said Stover, with an obvious loudness. He took out
the last heliotrope envelop and read over the contents which had pleased
him so much on the preceding Tuesday. Somehow, it had a different
ring--a little too flippant, too facile.

"What the deuce am I going to write her?" he said, inciting his hair to
rebellion. He cleaned the pen, and then the ink-well, and wrote on the
envelop:


     _Miss Anita Laurence_


It was a name that had particularly attracted him, it was so Spanish and
suggestive of serenades. He wrote again at the top of the page:


     "_Dear Anita._"


Then he stopped.

"What the deuce can I say now?" he repeated crossly.

"By George, I've only seen her five times. What is there to say?"

He rose, went to his bureau, and took up the photograph of honor and
looked at it long. It was a pretty face, but the ears were rather large.
Then he went back, and, tearing up what he had written, closed his desk.

"Hello," said McCarthy, who was in difficulties. "Aren't you going to
write Anita?"

"I wrote her last night," said Stover with justifiable mendacity. "I was
writing home, but feel rather sleepy."

As this was unchallengeable, he went to his room and stretched out on
the delicious bed.

"I wonder if I'm falling in love with Jean Story?" he said hopefully.
"I'm sick to death of Anita calling me by my front name and writing as
she does. I'll bet I'm not the only one, either!" This sublimely
ingenious suspicion sufficed for the demise of the dashing brunette from
whom he had forced eleven dances out of a possible sixteen. "Jean Story
is so different. What the deuce does she want changed in me? I wonder if
I could get Bob to give me a bid for a visit this summer?"

The opening to the imagination being thus provided, he went wandering
over summer meadows with a certain slender girl who moved as no one else
moved and in a dreamy landscape showed him the most marked preference.
In the midst of a most delightful and thoroughly satisfactory
conversation he fell asleep. When he woke he went straight to his
bureau, and, removing the photograph of Anita, consigned it to a humble
position in the study amid the crowded beauties that McCarthy termed the
harem.

During first recitation, which was an inconsequential voyage into
Greece, his imagination jumped the blackboarded walls and went
wandering into the realm of the possible summer. A week on the river at
the oars, however, drove from him all such imaginings; but at times the
vexing question returned, and each Sunday, somehow, he found an
opportunity to drop in and have a long talk with Judge Story, of whom he
grew surprisingly fond.

The period of duns now set in, and the house on York Street became a
place of mystery and signals. McNab, naturally, was the most sought, and
he took up a sort of migratory abode on Stover's window-seat,
disappearing under the flaps at the slightest sound in the corridor.
Stover himself began to feel the possibilities of vistas and the sense
of lurking shadows. He was utterly disappointed in the material for a
suit which he had bought from the unsuspecting Yankee. It had a yielding
characteristic way about it that brought the most surprising baggings
and stretchings, and he had a suspicion that it was pining away and
fading in the sun. By the time the tailor's bill had been presented (not
paid), the suit might have been on the fashion account of a prince. Then
there were little notes, polite but insistent, from the haberdasher's
whence the glowing green shirt, now sadly yellowed, had come. In order
to make a show of settling, he went over to Commons to eat, and, being
on an allowance for clothes, economized on such articles of apparel as
were visible only to himself and McCarthy, who was in the same
threadbare state.

[Illustration: "THE PERIOD OF DUNS SET IN, AND THE HOUSE BECAME A PLACE
OF MYSTERY AND SIGNALS"--_Page 201._]

His candidacy for the class crew kept him in strict training, though he
ranked no better than third substitute. His afternoons thus employed and
his evenings occupied with consultations, he found his life as narrowed
as it had been in the season of football. Every one knew him, and he had
learned the trick of a smile and an enthusiastic bob of the head to
every one. He was a popular man even among the outsiders now more and
more openly opposed to the sophomore society system. He was perhaps, at
this period, the most popular man in his class; and yet, he had made
scarcely a friend, nor did he understand quite what was the longing in
him.

With the end of May and the coming of society week for the first time
the full intensity and seriousness of the social ambition was brought
before him. The last elections in his own crowd were given out, Regan
and Brockhurst failing to be chosen. In McCarthy's society the last
place narrowed down to three men; and Stone, who had made the _News_,
won the choice.

Stover was sitting alone with McCarthy on the critical night, when the
door opened and Stone entered. One look at his face told McCarthy what
had happened.

"I'm sorry, Tough," said Stone, a little over-tense. "They gave me the
pledge. It's hard luck."

"Bully for you!" There wasn't a break in McCarthy's voice. "I knew you'd
get it all along."

"I came up to let you know right away," said Stone, looking down at the
floor. "Of course, I wanted it myself, but I'm sorry--deuced sorry."

"Nonsense. You've made the _News_. You ought to have it." McCarthy, calm
and smiling, held out his hand. "Bully for you! Shake on it!"

Stone went almost immediately and the room-mates were left alone.
McCarthy came back whistling, and irrelevantly went to his bureau,
parting his hair with methodical strokes of the brush.

"That was real white of Stone to come up and tell me," he said quietly.

"Yes."

"Well, we'll go on with that geometry now."

He came back and sat down at the desk quite calmly, as if a whole
outlook had not been suddenly closed to him.

Stover, cut to the heart, watched him with a genuine thrill. He rose,
drew a long breath, walked to the window, and, coming back, laid his
hand on his room-mate's shoulder.

McCarthy looked up quickly, with a little flush.

"Good grit, old man," said Dink, "darned good grit."

"Thank you."

"It won't make any difference, Tough."

"Of course not." McCarthy gave a little laugh and said: "Don't say any
more, Dink."

Stover took his place opposite, saying:

"I won't, only this. You take it better than I could do. I'm proud of
you."

"You remember what the old man said to you fellows after that Princeton
slaughter?" said Tough solemnly. "'Take your medicine.' Well, Dink, I'm
going to swallow it without a wink, and I rather guess, from what I've
seen, that's the biggest thing they have to teach us up here."

"It'll make no difference," said Dink obstinately.

"Of course not."

But each knew that for McCarthy, who would never be above the substitute
class, the issue of the senior society was settled, once and for all.

The excitement of being initiated, the outward manifestation of Calcium
Light Night and the spectacular parade of the cowled junior societies
with their swelling marching songs, and the sudden arrival of Tap Day
for a while drove from Stover all thoughts but his personal dreams.

On the fateful Thursday in May, shortly after half past four, he and
Tough went over to the campus. By the fence the junior class, already
swallowed up by the curious body of the college, were waiting the
arrival of the senior elections which would begin on the stroke of five.

"Lots of others will take their medicine to-day," said McCarthy a little
grimly.

"You bet."

Hungerford and McNab, seeing them, came over.

"Gee, look at the way the visitors are on the campus," said McNab.

"They're packed in all the windows of Durfee and over on the steps of
Dwight Hall," said Hungerford. "I didn't know they came on like this."

"If you want a sensation," said McNab, "just go over to that bunch of
juniors. You can hear every one of them breathe. They're scared to
death. It's a regular slaughter."

Stover looked curiously at McNab, amazed to note the excitement on his
usually flippant countenance. Then he looked over at the herd huddled
under the trees by the fence. It was all a spectacle still--dramatic,
but removed from his own personality. The juniors, with but a few
exceptions, were only names to him. His own society men meant something,
and Captain Dudley of next year's eleven, who, of course, was absolutely
sure. He felt a little thrill as he looked over and saw the churning
mass and thought that in two years he would stand there and wait. But,
for the moment, he was only eagerly curious and a little inclined to be
amused at the excessive solemnity of the performance.

"Who do you think will be first tapped for Bones?" said McNab, at his
side.

"Dudley," said Hungerford.

"No; they'll keep him for the last place."

"Well, Allison, captain of the crew, then."

"I heard Smithson has switched over to Keys."

"They're both after De Gollyer."

All four had tentative lists in their hands, eagerly comparing them.

"Dopey, you're all wrong. Clark'll never get it."

"Why not."

"Look at your Bones list--there's no place for him. You've got to
include the pitcher of the nine and the president of Dwight Hall,
haven't you?"

"My guess is Rogers first man for Keys."

"No; they'll take some man Bones wants--De Gollyer, probably."

"Let's get into the crowd."

"Come on."

"It's ten minutes of five already."

Le Baron, passing, stopped Stover, saying excitedly:

"Say, Dink, watch out for the crowd who go Keys and let me know, will
you? I mean the men in our crowd?"

"Sure I will."

Stover was in the throng, with a strange, sharp memory of Le Baron's
drawn face. It was a silent mass, waiting, watch in hand, trying
stoically to face down the suspense of the last awful minutes. Men he
knew stared past him unseeing. Some were carefully dressed, and others
stood in sweater and jersey, biting on pipes that were not lit. He heard
a few scattered voices and the brief, crisp remarks came to him like the
scattered popping of musketry.

"What's the time, Bill?"

"Three minutes of."

"Did they ever make a mistake?"

"Sure; four years ago. A fellow got mixed up and tapped the wrong man."

"Didn't discover it until they were half way down the campus."

"Rotten situation."

"I should say so."

"Let's stand over here."

"What for?"

"Let's see Dudley tapped. He'll be first man for Bones."

"Gee, what a mob!"

"Packed like sardines."

Near the fence, the juniors, hemmed in, were constantly being welded
together. Stover, moving aimlessly, caught sight of Dudley's face. He
would have liked to signal him a greeting, a look of good will; but the
face of the captain was set in stone. A voice near him whispered that
there was a minute more. He looked in a dozen faces, amazed at the
physical agony he saw in those who were counted surest. For the first
time he began to realize the importance of it, the hopes and fears
assembled there. Then he noticed, above the ghost-like heads of the
crowd, the windows packed with spectators drawn to the spectacle. And he
had a feeling of indignant resentment that outsiders should be there to
watch this test of manhood after the long months of striving.

"Ten seconds, nine seconds, eight," some one said near him. Then
suddenly, immediately swallowed up in a roar, the first iron note of the
chapel bell crashed over them. Then a shriek:

"Yea!"

"There he comes!"

"Over by the library."

"First man."

Across the campus, Dana, first man out for Bones, all in black, was
making straight for them with the unrelenting directness of a torpedo.
The same breathless tensity was in his face, the same solemnity. The
crowd parted slightly before him and then closed behind him with a rush.
He made his way furiously into the center of the tangle, throwing the
crowd from him without distinction until opposite Dudley, who waited,
looking at him blankly. He passed, and suddenly, seizing a man nearer
Stover, swung him around and slapped him on the back with a loud slap,
crying:

"Go to your room!"

Instantly the cry went up:

"It's De Gollyer!"

"First man tapped!"

The mass parted, and De Gollyer, wabbling a little, taking enormous
steps, shot out for his dormitory, tracked by Dana, while about him his
classmates shouted their approval of the popular choice.

"Yea!"

"Rogers!"

"First man for Keys."

"Rogers for Keys!"

Stover set out for a rush in the direction of the shout, tossed and
buffeted in the scramble. At every moment, now, a cry went up as the
elections proceeded rapidly. From time to time he found Le Baron, and
shouted to him his report. He saw men he knew tearing back and forth,
Hunter driven out of his pose of calm for once, little Schley,
hysterical almost, running to and fro. At times the slap was given near
him, and he caught the sudden realization, a look in the face that was
not good to have seen. It was all like a stampede, some panic, a sudden
shipwreck, when every second was precious and, once gone, gone forever;
where the agony was in the face of the weak-hearted and a few stoically
stood smiling at the waiting gulf.

The elections began to be exhausted and the writing on the wall to stare
some in the face. Then something happened; a cry went up and a little
circle formed under one of the trees, while back came the rumor:

"Some one's fainted."

"Man's gone under."

"Who?"

"Who is it?"

"Franklin."

"No, no; Henderson."

"You don't say so!"

"Fainted dead away. Missed out for Bones."

All at once another shout went up--a shout of amazement and incredulity.
A great sensation spread everywhere. The Bones list had now reached
thirteen; only two more to be given, and Allison of the crew, Dudley,
and Harvey, chairman of the _News_, all rated sure men, were left. Who
was to be rejected? Stover fought his way to where the three were
standing white and silent, surrounded by the gaping crowd. Some one
caught his arm. It was Le Baron, beside himself with excitement, saying:

"Good God, Dink! you don't suppose they're going to turn down Harvey or
Allison?"

Almost before the words were uttered something had happened. A slap
resounded and the sharp command:

"Go to your room!"

Then the cry:

"Harvey!"

"Harvey's tapped!"

"Only one place left."

"Good heavens!"

"Who's to go down?"

"It's impossible!"

Dudley and Allison, prospective captains, room-mates from school days at
Andover, were left, and between them balancing the fates. A hush fell in
the crowd, awed at the unusual spectacle of a Yale captain marked for
rejection. Then Dudley, smiling, put out his hand and said in a clear
voice:

"Joe, one of us has got to walk the plank. Here's luck!"

Allison's hand went out in a firm grip, smiling a little, too, as he
answered:

"No, no; you're all right! You're sure."

"Here he is."

"Last man for Bones."

"Here he comes!"

The crowd massed at the critical point fell back, opening a lane to
where Allison and Dudley waited, throwing back their shoulders a little,
to meet the man who came straight to them, pale with the importance of
the decision that had been given him. He reached Dudley, passed, and,
seizing Allison by the shoulder, almost knocked him down by the force of
his slap. Pandemonium broke loose:

"It's Allison!"

"No!"

"Yes."

"What, they've left out Dudley?"

"Missed out."

"Impossible!"

"Fact."

"Hi, Jack, Dudley's missed out!"

"Dudley, the football captain!"

"What the devil!"

"For the love of heaven!"

"Why, Dudley's the best in the world!"

"Sure he is."

"It's a shame."

"An outrage."

"They've done it just to show they're independent."

Across the campus toward Vanderbilt, Allison and the last Bones man, in
tandem, were streaking like water insects. Le Baron, holding on to
Stover, was cursing in broken accents. But Dink heard him only
indistinctly; he was looking at Dudley. The pallor had left his face,
which was a little flushed; the head was thrown back proudly; and the
lips were set in a smile that answered the torrent of sympathy and
regret that was shouted to him. The last elections to Keys and
Wolf's-Head were forgotten in the stir of the incredible rejection.

Then some one shrieked out for a cheer, and the roar went over the
campus again and again.

Dudley, always with the same smile and shining eyes, made his way slowly
across toward Vanderbilt, hugged, patted on the back, his hand wrung
frantically by those who swarmed about him. Stover was at his side,
everything forgotten but the drama of the moment, cheering and shouting,
seeing with a sort of wonder a little spectacled grind with blazing eyes
shaking hands with Dudley, crying:

"It's a crime--a darned crime! We all think so, all of us!"

For half an hour the college, moved as it had never been, stood huddled
below Dudley's rooms, cheering itself hoarse. Then slowly the crowd
began to melt away.

"Come on, Dink," said Hungerford, who had him by the arm.

"Oh, is that you, Joe?" said Dink, seeing him for the first time.
"Isn't it an outrage?"

"I don't understand it."

"By George, wasn't he fine, though?"

"He certainly was!"

"I was right by him. He never flinched a second."

"Dink, the whole thing is terrible," said Hungerford, his sensitive face
showing the pain of the emotions he had undergone. "I don't think it's
right to put fellows through such a test as that."

"You don't believe in Tap Day?"

"I don't know."

Their paths crossed Regan's and they halted, each wondering what that
unusual character had thought of it all.

"Hello, Tom."

"Hello, Joe; hello, Dink."

"Tough about Dudley, isn't it?"

"How so?"

"Why, missing out!"

"Perhaps it's Bones's loss," said Regan grimly. "Dudley's all right.
He's lucky. He's ten times the man he was this morning."

Neither Hungerford nor Stover answered.

"What do you think of it--Tap Day?" said Hungerford, after a moment.

"The best thing in the whole society system," said Regan, with extra
warmth.

"Well, I'll be darned!" said Stover, in genuine surprise. "I thought
you'd be for abolishing it."

"Never! If you're going through three years afraid to call your souls
your own, why, you ought to stand out before every one and take what's
coming to you. That's my idea."

He bobbed his head and went on toward Commons.

"I don't know," said Hungerford solemnly. "It's a horror; I wish I
hadn't seen it."

"I'm glad I did," said Stover slowly. "They certainly baptize us in fire
up here." He remembered McCarthy with a new understanding and repeated:
"We certainly learn how to take our medicine up here, Joe. It's a good
deal to learn."

They wandered back toward the now quiet fence. All the crowding and the
stirring was gone, and over all a strange silence, the silence of
exhaustion. The year was over; what would come afterward was
inconsequential.

"I wonder if it's all worth it?" said Hungerford suddenly.

Stover did not answer; it was the question that was in his own thoughts.
What he had seen that afternoon was still too vivid in his memory. He
tried to shake it off, but, with the obsession of a fetish, it clung to
him. He understood now, not that he would yield to the emotion, but the
fear of judgment that swayed men he knew, and what Regan had meant when
he had referred to those who did not dare to call their souls their own.

"It does get you," he said, at last, to Hungerford.

"It does me," said Hungerford frankly, "and I suppose it'll get worse."

"I wonder?"

He was silent, thinking of the year that had passed, wondering if the
next would bring him the same discipline and the same fatigue, and if at
the end of the three years' grind, if such should be his lot, he could
stand up like Dudley before the whole college and take his medicine with
a smile.



CHAPTER XV


When Stover returned after the summer vacation to the full glory of a
sophomore, he had changed in many ways. The consciousness of success had
given him certain confidence and authority, which, if it was more of the
manner than real, nevertheless was noticeable. He had aged five or six
years, as one ages at that time under the grave responsibilities of an
exalted leadership.

A great change likewise had come in his plans. During the summer Tough
McCarthy's father had died, and Tough had been forced to forego his
college course and take up at once the seriousness of life. Several
offers had been made Dink to go in with Hungerford, Tommy Bain, and
others of his crowd, but he had decided to room by himself, for a time
at least. The decision had come to him as the result of a growing
feeling of restlessness, an instinctive desire to be by himself and know
again that shy friend Dink Stover, who somehow seemed to have slipped
away from him.

Much to his surprise, this feeling of restlessness dominated all other
emotions on his victorious return to college. He felt strangely alone.
Every one in the class greeted him with rushing enthusiasm, inquired
critically of his weight and condition, and passed on. His progress
across the campus was halted at every moment by acclaiming groups, who
ran to him, pumping his hand, slapping him on the back, exclaiming:

"You, old Dink Stover!"

"Bless your heart."

"Put it there."

"Glad to see you again."

"How are you?"

"You look fit as a fiddle!"

"The All-American this year!"

"Hard luck about McCarthy."

"Ta-ta."

His was the popular welcome, and yet it left him unsatisfied, with a
strange tugging at his heart. They were all acquaintances, nothing more.
He went to his room on the second floor in Lawrence, and, finding his
way over the bare floor and the boxes that encumbered, reached the
window and flung it open.

Below the different fences had disappeared under the joyful, hilarious
groups that swarmed about them. He saw Swazey and Pike, two of the
grinds of his own class, men who "didn't count," go past hugging each
other, and their joy, comical though it was, hurt him. He turned from
the window, saying aloud, sternly, as though commanding himself:

"Come, I must get this hole fixed up. It's gloomy as the devil."

He worked feverishly, ripping apart the covers, ranging the furniture,
laying the rugs. Then he put in order his bedroom, and, whistling
loudly, fished out his bedclothes, laid the bed, and arranged his
bureau-top. That done, he brought forth several photographs he had taken
in the brief visit he had paid the Storys, and placing them in the
position of honor lit his pipe and, camping on a dry-goods box, like
Scipio amid the ruins of Carthage, dreamily considered through the
smoke-wreaths the distant snap-shots of a slender girl in white.

He was comfortably, satisfactorily in love with Jean Story. The emotion
filled a sentimental want in his nature. He had never asked her for her
photograph or to correspond, as he would have lightly asked a hundred
other girls. He knew instinctively that she would have refused. He liked
that in her--her dignity and her reserve. He wanted her regard, as he
always wanted what others found difficult to attain. She was young and
yet with an old head on her shoulders. In the two weeks he had spent in
camp, they had discussed much together of what lay ahead beyond the
confines of college life. He did not always understand her point of
view. He often wondered what was the doubt that lay in her mind about
him. For, though she had given him a measure of her friendship, there
was always a reserve, something held back. It was the same with Bob. It
puzzled him; it irritated him. He was resolved to beat down that
barrier, to shatter it some way and somehow, as he was resolved that Jim
Hunter, whose intentions were clear, should never beat him out in this
race.

He rose, pipe in mouth, and, taking up a photograph, stared at the
laughing face and the quiet, proud tilt of the head.

"At any rate," he said to himself, "Jim Hunter hasn't got any more than
this, and he never will."

He went back to the study, delving into the packing-boxes. From below
came a stentorian halloo he knew well:

"Oh, Dink Stover, stick out your head!"

"Come up, you, Tom Regan, come up on the jump!"

In another moment Regan was in the room, and his great bear clutch
brought Stover a feeling of warmth with its genuineness.

"Bigger than ever, Tom."

"You look fine yourself, you little bantam!"

"Lord, but I'm glad to see you!"

"Same to you."

"How'd the summer go?"

"Wonderful. I've got four hundred tucked away in the bank."

"You don't say so!"

"Fact."

Stover shook hands again eagerly.

"Tell me all about it."

"Sure. Go on with your unpacking; I'll lend a hand. I've had a bully
summer."

"What's that mean?" said Stover, with a quizzical smile. "Working like a
slave?"

"No, no; seeing real people. I tried being a conductor a while, got in a
strike, and switched over to construction work. Got to be foreman of a
gang, night shift."

"You don't mean out all night?"

"Oh, I slept in the day. You get used to it. They're a strange lot, the
fellows who work while the rest of you sleep. They brushed me up a lot,
taught me a lot. Wish you'd been along. You'd have got some education."

"I may do something of the sort with you next summer," said Stover
quietly.

"They tell me Tough McCarthy's not coming back."

"Yes; father died."

"Too bad. Going to room alone?"

"For a while. I want to get away--think things over a bit, read some."

"Good idea," said Regan, with one of his sharp appraising looks. "If a
man's given a thinker, he might just as well use it."

Hungerford and Bob Story joined them, and the four went down to Mory's
to take possession in the name of the sophomore class. Regan, to their
surprise, making one of the party, paid as they paid, with just a touch
of conscious pride.

The good resolves that Dink made to himself, under the influence of the
acute emotions he had felt on his return, gradually faded from his
memory as he felt himself caught up again in the rush of college life.
He found his day marked out for him, his companions assigned to him, his
standards and his opinions inherited from his predecessors. Insensibly
he became a cog in the machine. What with football practise and visiting
the freshman class in the interest of his society, he found he was able
to keep awake long enough to get a smattering of the next day's work and
no more.

The class had scattered and groups with clear tendencies had formed,
Hunter and Tommy Bain the center of little camps serious and ambitious,
while off the campus in a private dormitory another element was pursuing
mannish delights with the least annoyance from the curriculum.

The opposition to the sophomore societies had now grown to a college
issue. Protests from the alumni began to come in; one of the editors of
the _Lit_ made it the subject of his leader, while the college, under
the leadership of rebels like Gimbel, arrayed itself in uncompromising
opposition and voted down every candidate for office that the sophomore
societies placed in the field.

That the situation was serious and working harm to the college Stover
saw, but, as the fight became more bitter, the feeling of loyalty,
coupled with distrust of the motives of the assailants, placed him in
the ranks of the most ardent defenders, where, a little to his surprise,
he found himself rather arrayed with Tommy Bain and Jim Hunter in their
position of unrelenting conservatism, fighting the revolt which was
making head in the society itself, as Bob Story and Joe Hungerford led
the demand for some liberal reform.

However, the conflict did not break out until the close of the season.
The team, under the resolute leadership of Captain Dudley, fought its
way to one of those almost miraculous successes which is not
characteristic of the Yale system as it is the result of the inspiring
guidance of some one extraordinary personality.

Regan went from guard to tackle, and Stover, back at his natural
position of end, developed the promise of freshman year, acclaimed as
the All-American end of the year. Still the possibility of Regan's
challenge for the captaincy returned constantly to his mind, for about
the big tackle was always a feeling of confidence, of rugged, immovable
determination that perhaps in its steadying influence had built up the
team more than his own individual brilliancy. Dink, despite himself,
felt the force of these masterful qualities, acknowledging them even as,
to his displeasure, he felt a rising jealousy; for at the bottom he was
drawn more and more to Regan as he was drawn to no other man.

About a month after the triumphant close of the football season, then,
Stover, in the usual course of a thoroughly uneventful morning, rose as
rebelliously late as usual, bolted his breakfast, and rushed to chapel.
He was humanly elated with what the season had brought, a fame which had
gone the rounds of the press of the country for unflinching courage and
cold head-work, but, more than that, he was pleasantly satisfied with
the difficult modesty with which he bore his honors. For he was modest.
He had sworn to himself he would be, and he was. He had allowed it to
make no difference in his relations with the rest of the class. If
anything, he was more careful to distribute the cordiality of his smile
and the good-natured "How are you?" to all alike without the slightest
distinction.

"How are you, Bill?" he said to Swazey, the strange unknown grind who
sat beside him. He called him by his first name consciously, though he
knew him no more than this slight daily contact, because he wished to
emphasize the comradeship and democracy of Yale, of which he was a
leader. "Feelin' fine this morning, old gazabo?"

"How are you?" said Swazey gratefully.

"Tough lesson they soaked us, didn't they?"

"It was a tough one."

"Suppose that didn't bother you, though, you old valedictorian."

"Oh, yes, it did."

Stover, settling comfortably in his seat, nodded genially to the right
and left.

"I say, Dink."

"Hello, what is it?"

"Drop in on me some night."

"What?" said Stover surprised.

"Come round and have a chat sometime," said Swazey, in a thoroughly
natural way.

"Why, sure; like to," said Stover bluffly, which, of course was the only
thing to say.

"To-night?"

"Sorry; I'm busy to-night," said Stover. Swazey, of course, being a
grind, did not realize the abhorrent, almost sacrilegious, social break
he was making in inviting him on his society evening.

"To-morrow, then?"

"Why, yes; to-morrow."

"I haven't been very sociable in not asking you before," said Swazey,
in magnificent incomprehension, "but I'd really like to have you."

"Why, thankee."

Stover, entrapped, received the invitation with perfect gravity,
although resolved to find some excuse.

But the next day, thinking it over, he said to himself that it really
was his duty, and, reflecting how pleased Swazey would be to receive a
call from one of his importance, he determined to give him that
pleasure. Setting out after supper, he met Bob Story.

"Whither away?" said Story, stopping.

"I'm going to drop in on a fellow called Swazey," said Stover, a little
conscious of the virtue of this act. "I sit next to him in chapel. He's
a good deal of a grind, but he asked me around, and I thought I'd go.
You know--the fellow in our row."

"That's very good of you," said Story, with a smile which he remembered
after.

Stover felt so himself. Still, he had the democracy of Yale to preserve,
and it was his duty. He went swinging on his way with that warm,
glowing, physical delight that, fortunately, the slightest virtuous
action is capable of arousing.

With Nathaniel Pike, a classmate, Swazey roomed in Divinity Hall, where,
attracted by the cheapness of the rooms, a few of the college had been
able to find quarters.

"Queer place," thought Dink to himself, eyeing a few of the divinity
students who went slipping by him. "Wonder what the deuce I can talk to
him about. Oh, well, I won't have to stay long."

Swazey, of course, being outside the current of college heroes, could
have but a limited view. He found the door at the end of the long
corridor and thundered his knock, as a giant announces himself.

"Come in if you're good-looking!" said a piping voice.

Stover entered with strongly accentuated good fellowship, giving his
hand with the politician's cordiality.

"How are you, Nat? How are you, Bill?"

He ensconced himself in the generous arm-chair, which bore the trace of
many masters, accepted a cigar and said, to put his hosts at their ease:

"Bully quarters you've got here. Blame sight more room than I've got."

Pike, cap on, a pad under his arm, apologized for going.

"Awful sorry, Stover; darned inhospitable. This infernal _News_ grind.
Hope y'will be sociable and stay till I get back."

"How are you making out?" said Stover, in an encouraging, generous way.

Pike scratched his ear, a large, loose ear, wrinkling up his long,
pointed nose in a grimace, as he answered:

"Danged if I don't think I'm going to miss out again."

"You were in the first competition?" said Stover, surprised--for one
trial was usually considered equivalent to a thousand years off the
purgatory account.

"Yep, but I was green--didn't know the rules."

"Lord, I should think you'd have had enough!"

"Why, it's rather a sociable time. It is a grind, but I'm going to make
that _News_, if I hit it all sophomore year."

"What, you'd try again?"

"You bet I would!"

There was a matter-of-fact simplicity about Pike, uncouth as was his
dress and wide sombrero, that appealed to Stover. He held out his hand.

"Good luck to you! And say--if I get any news I'll save it for you."

"Obliged, sir--ta-ta!"

"Holy cats!" said Dink, relapsing into the arm-chair as the door banged.
"Any one who'll stick at it like that gets all I can give him."

"He's a wonderful person," said Swazey, drawing up his chair and
elevating his hobnailed shoes. "Never saw anything like his
determination. Wonderful! Green as salad when he first came, ready to
tickle Prexy under the ribs or make himself at home whenever a room
struck his fancy. But, when he got his eyes open, you ought to have seen
him pick up and learn. He's developed wonderfully. He'll succeed in
life."

Stover smiled inwardly at this critical assumption on Swazey's part, but
he began to be interested. There was something real in both men.

"Did you go to school together?" he said.

"Lord, no! Precious little school either of us got. I ran up against him
when I landed here--just bumped together, as it were."

"You don't say so?"

"Fact. It was rather queer. We were both up in the fall trying to
throttle a few pesky conditions and slip in. It was just after Greek
prose composition--cursed be the memory!--when I came out of Alumni
Hall, kicking myself at every step, and found that little rooster
engaged in the same process. Say, he was a sight--looked like a chicken
had been shipped from St. Louis to Chicago--but spunky as you make 'em.
Never had put a collar on his neck--I got him up to that last spring;
but he still balks at a derby. So off we went to grub, and I found he
didn't know a soul. No more did I. So we said, 'Why not?' And we did. We
hunted up these quarters, and we've got on first-rate ever since. No
scratching, gouging, or biting. We've been a good team. I've seen the
world, I've got hard sense, and he's got ideas--quite remarkable ideas.
Danged if I'm not stuck on the little rooster."

Stover reached out for the tobacco to fill a second pipe, all his
curiosity aroused.

"I say, Dink," said Swazey, offering him a match, "this college is a
wonderful thing, isn't it?" He stood reflectively, the sputtering light
of the match illuminating his thoughtful face. "Just think of the
romance in it. Me and Pike coming together from two ends of the country
and striking it up. That's what counts up here--the perfect democracy of
it!"

"Yes, of course," said Stover in a mechanical way. He was wondering what
Swazey would think of the society system, or if he even realized it
existed, so he said curiously:

"You keep rather to yourselves, though."

"Oh, I know pretty much what I want to know about men. I've sized 'em up
and know what sorts to reach out for when I want them. Now I want to
learn something real." He looked at Stover with a sort of rugged
superiority in his glance and said: "I've earned my own way ever since I
was twelve years old, and some of it was pretty rough going. I know
what's outside of this place and what I want to reach. That's what a lot
of you fellows don't worry about just now."

"Swazey, tell me about yourself," said Stover, surprised at his own
eagerness. "By George, I'd like to hear it! Why did you come to
college?"

"It was an idea of the governor's, and he got it pretty well fixed in my
head. Would you like to hear? All right." He touched a match to the
kindling, and, his coat bothering him, cast it off. "The old man was a
pretty rough customer, I guess--he died when I was twelve; don't know
anything about any one else in the family. I don't know just how he
picked up his money; we were always moving; but I fancy he was a good
deal of a rum hound and that carried him off. He always had a liking for
books, and one set idea that I was to be a gentleman, get to college and
get educated; so I always kept that same idea in the back of my head,
and here I am."

"You said you'd earned your living ever since you were twelve," said
Stover, all interest.

"That's so. It's pretty much the usual story. Selling newspapers,
drifting around, living on my wits. Only I had a pretty shrewd head on
my shoulders, and wherever I went I saw what was going on and I salted
it away. I made up my mind I wasn't going to be a fool, but I was going
to sit back, take every chance, and win out big. Lord of mercy, though,
I've seen some queer corners--done some tough jobs! Up to about fifteen
I didn't amount to much. I was a drifter. I've worked my way from
Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, stealing rides and hoofing it with
tramps. I've scrubbed out bar-rooms in Arizona and Oklahoma, and tended
cattle in Kansas City. I sort of got a wandering fit, which is bad
business. But each year I tucked away a little more of the long green
than the year before, and got a little more of the juice of books. About
four years ago, when I was seventeen--I'd saved up a few hundreds--I
said to myself:

"'Hold up, look here, if you're ever going to do anything, it's about
time now to begin.' So I planted my hoof out in Oklahoma City and I
started in to be a useful citizen."

The pipe between Stover's lips had gone out, but he did not heed it. A
new life--life itself--was suddenly revealing itself to him; not the
guarded existences of his own kind, but the earnest romance of the
submerged nine-tenths. As Swazey stopped, he said impulsively, directly:

"By George, Swazey, I envy you!"

"Well, it's taught me to size men up pretty sharply," said Swazey,
continuing. "I've seen them in the raw, I've seen them in all sorts of
tests. I've sort of got a pretty guess what they'll do or not do. Then,
of course, I've had a knack of making money out of what I touch--it's a
gift."

"Are you working your way through here?" said Stover. All feeling of
patronage was gone; he felt as if a torrent had cleared away the dust
and cobwebs of tradition.

"Lord, no," said Swazey, smiling. "Why, boy, I've got a business that's
bringing me in between four and five thousand a year--running itself,
too."

Stover sat up.

"What!"

"I've got an advertising agency, specialties of all sorts, seven men
working under one. I keep in touch every day. Course I could make more
if I was right there. But I know what I'm going to do in this world.
I've got my ideas for what's coming--big ideas. I'm going to make money
hand over fist. That's easy. Now I'm getting an education. Here's the
answer to it all."

He drew out of his pocketbook a photograph and passed it over to Stover.

"That's the best in the world; that's the girl that started me and
that's the girl I'm going to marry."

Dink took the funny little photograph and gazed at it with a certain
reverence. It was the face of a girl pretty enough, with a straight,
proud, reliant look in her eyes that he saw despite the oddity of the
clothes and the artificiality of the pose. He handed back the
photograph.

"I like her," he said.

"Here _we_ are," said Swazey, handing him a tintype.

It was grotesque, as all such pictures are, with its mingled
sentimentality and self-consciousness, but Stover did not smile.

"That's the girl I've been working for ever since," said Swazey. "The
bravest little person I ever struck, and the squarest. She was waiting
in a restaurant when I happened to drop in, standing on her own feet,
asking no favor. She's out of that now, thank God! I've sent her off to
school."

Dink turned to him with a start, amazed at the matter-of-fact way in
which Swazey announced it.

"To school--" he stammered. "_You've_ sent _her_."

"Sure. Up to a convent in Montreal. She'll finish there when I finish
here."

"Why?" said Stover, too amazed to choose his methods of inquiry.

"Because, my boy, I'm going out to succeed, and I want my wife to know
as much as I do and go with me where I go."

The two sat silently, Swazey staring at the tintype with a strange,
proud smile, utterly unconscious of the story he had told, Stover
overwhelmed as if the doors in a great drama had suddenly swung open to
his intruding gaze.

"She's the real student," said Swazey fondly. "She gets it all--all the
romance of the big things that have gone on in the past. By George, the
time'll come when we'll get over to Greece and Egypt and Rome and see
something of it ourselves." He put the photographs in his pocketbook and
rose, standing, legs spread before the fire, talking to himself. "By
George, Dink, money isn't what I'm after. I'm going to have that, but
the big thing is to know something about everything that's real, and to
keep on learning. I've never had anything like these evenings here,
browsing around in the good old books, chatting it over with old
Pike--he's got imagination. Give me history and biography--that inspires
you. Say, I've talked a lot, but you led me on. What's your story?"

"My story?" said Stover solemnly. He thought a moment and then said:
"Nothing. It's a blank and I'm a blank. I say, Swazey, give me your
hand. I'm proud to know you. And, if you'll let me, I'd like to come
over here oftener."

He went from the room, with a sort of empty rage, transformed. Before
him all at once had spread out the vision of the nation, of the
democracy of lives of striving and of hope. He had listened as a child
listens. He went out bewildered and humble. For the first time since he
had come to Yale, he had felt something real. His mind and his
imagination had been stirred, awakened, hungry, rebellious.

He turned back, glancing from the lights on the campus to the room he
had left--a little splotch of mellow meaning on the somber cold walls of
Divinity, and then turned into the emblazoned quadrangle of the campus,
with its tinkling sounds and feverish, childish ambitions.

"Great heavens! and I went there as a favor," he said. "What under the
sky do I know about anything--little conceited ass!"

He went towards his entry and, seeing a light in Bob Story's room,
suddenly hallooed.

"Oh, Bob Story, stick out your head."

"Hello, yourself. Who is it?"

"It's me. Dink."

"Come on up."

"No, not to-night."

"What then?"

"Say, Bob, I just wanted you to know one thing."

"What?"

"I'm just a plain damn fool; do you get that?"

"What the deuce?"

"Just a plain damn fool--good-night!"

And he went to his room, locked the door to all visitors, pulled an
arm-chair before the fire, and sat staring into it, as solemn as the
wide-eyed owls on the casters.



CHAPTER XVI


The hours that Dink Stover sat puffing his pipe before the yellow-eyed
owls that blinked to him from the crackling fireplace were hours of
revolution. His imagination, stirred by the recital of Swazey's life,
returned to him like some long-lost friend. Sunk back in his familiar
arm-chair, his legs extended almost to the reddening logs, his arms
braced, he seemed to see through the conjuring clouds of smoke that rose
from his pipe the figures of a strange self, the Dink Stover who had
fought his way to manhood in the rough tests of boarding-school life,
the Dink Stover who had arrived so eagerly, whose imagination had leaped
to the swelling masses of that opening night and called for the first
cheer in the name of the whole class.

That figure was stranger to him than the stranger in his own entry.
Together they sat looking into each other's eyes, in shy recognition,
while overhead on every quarter-hour the bell from Battell Chapel
announced the march toward midnight. Several times, as he sat plunged in
reverie, a knock sounded imperiously on the locked door; but he made no
move. Once from the campus below he heard Dopey McNab's gleeful voice
mingling with the deep bass of Buck Waters:


     "_Oh, father and mother pay all the bills,_
     _And we have all the fun._
     _That's the way we do in college life._
     _Hooray!_"


[Illustration: "'OH, FATHER AND MOTHER PAY ALL THE BILLS, AND WE HAVE
ALL THE FUN'"--_Page 229._]

For a moment the song was choked, and then he heard it ring in
triumphant crescendo as the two came up his steps, pounding out the
rhythm with enthusiastic feet. Before his door they came to a stop, sang
the chorus to a rattling accompaniment of their fists, and exclaimed:

"Oh, Dink Stover, open up!"

Receiving no response, they consulted:

"Why, the geezer isn't in."

"Let's break down the door."

"What right has he to be out?"

"Is there any one else we can annoy around here?"

"Bob Story is in the next entry."

"Lead me to him."

"About face!"

"March!"


     "_Oh, father and mother pay all the bills,_
     _And we have all the fun:_
     _That's the way we do--_"


The sound died out. Upstairs a piano took up the refrain in a thin,
syncopated echo. From time to time a door slammed in his entry, or from
without the faint halloo:

"Oh, Jimmy, stick out your head."

Dink, shifting, poked another log into place and returned longingly to
his reverie. He could not get from his mind what Swazey had told him.
His imagination reconstructed the story that had been given in such bare
detail, thrilling at the struggle and the drama he perceived back of it.
It was all undivined. When he had thought of his classmates, he had
thought of them in a matter-of-fact way as lives paralleling his own.

"Wonder what Regan's story is--the whole story?" he thought musingly.
"And Pike and all the rest of--" He hesitated, and then added, "--of the
fellows who don't count."

He had heard but one life, but that had disclosed the vista of a hundred
paths that here in his own class, hidden away, should open on a hundred
romances. He felt, with a sudden realization of the emptiness of his own
life, a new zest, a desire to go out and seek what he had ignored
before.

He left the fire suddenly, dug into his sweater, and flung a great
ulster about him. He went out and across the chilly campus to the very
steps where he had gone with Le Baron on his first night, drawing up
close to the wall for warmth. And again he thought of the other self,
the boyish, natural self, the Dink Stover who had first come here.

What had become of him? Of the two selves it was the boy who alone was
real, who gave and received in friendship without hesitating or
appraising. He recalled all the old schoolmates with their queer
nicknames--the Tennessee Shad, Doc MacNooder, the Triumphant Egghead,
and Turkey Reiter. There had been no division there in that spontaneous
democracy, and the Dink Stover who had won his way to the top had never
sought to isolate himself or curb any natural instinct for skylarking,
or sought a reason for a friendship.

"Good Lord!" he said, almost aloud, "in one whole year what have I done?
I haven't made one single friend, known what one real man was doing or
thinking, done anything I wanted to do, talked out what I wanted to
talk, read what I wanted to read, or had time to make the friends I
wanted to make. I've been nothing but material--varsity
material--society material; I've lost all the imagination I had, and
know less than when I came; and I'm the popular man--'the big man'--in
the class! Great! Is it my fault or the fault of things up here?"

Where had it all gone--that fine zest for life, that eagerness to know
other lives and other conditions, that readiness for whole-souled
comradeship with which he had come to Yale? Where was the pride he had
felt in the democracy of the class, when he had swung amid the torches
and the cheers past the magic battlements of the college, one in the
class, with the feeling in the ranks of a consecrated army gathered from
the plains and the mountains, the cities and villages of the nation,
consecrated to one another, to four years of mutual understanding that
would form an imperishable bond wherever on the face of the globe they
should later scatter? And, thinking of all this young imagination that
somehow had dried up and withered away, he asked himself again and
again:

"Is it my fault?"

Across the campus Buck Waters and Dopey McNab, returning from their
marauding expedition, came singing, arm in arm:


     "_Oh, father and mother pay all the bills,_
     _And we have all the fun._
     _That's the way we do in college life._
     _Hooray!_"


The two pagans passed without seeing him, gloriously, boyishly happy and
defiant, and the rollicking banter recalled in bleak contrast all the
stern outlines of the lives of seriousness he had felt for the first
time.

At first he revolted at the extremes. Then he considered. Even their
life and their point of view was something unknown. It was true he was
only a part of the machine of college, one of the wheels that had to
revolve in its appointed groove. He had thought of himself always as one
who led, and suddenly he perceived that it was he who followed.

A step sounded by him, and the winking eye of a pipe. Some one unaware
of his tenancy approached the steps. Stover, in a flare-up of the
tobacco, recognized him.

"Hello, Brockhurst," he said.

"Hello," said the other, hesitating shyly.

"It's Stover," said Dink. "What are you doing this time of night?"

"Oh, I prowl around," said Brockhurst, shifting from one foot to the
other.

"Sit down."

"Not disturbing you?"

"Not at all," said Stover, pleased at this moment at the awe he
evidently inspired. "I got sort of restless; thought I'd come out here
and smoke a pipe. Amusing old spot."

"I like it," said Brockhurst. Then he added tentatively: "You get the
feeling of it all."

"Yes, that's so."

They puffed in unison a moment.

"You're hitting up a good pace on that _Lit_ competition," said Dink,
unconscious of the tone of patronage into which he insensibly fell.

"Pretty good."

"That's right. Keep plugging away."

"Why?" said Brockhurst, with a little aggressiveness.

"Why, you ought to make the chairmanship," said Dink, surprised.

"Why should I?"

"Don't you want to?"

"There are other things I want more."

"What?"

"To go through here as my own master, and do myself some good."

"Hello!"

Stover sat up amazed at hearing from another the thoughts that had been
dominant in his own mind; amazed, too, at the trick of association which
had put into his own mouth thoughts against which a moment before he had
been rebelling.

"That's good horse sense," he said, to open up the conversation. "What
are you going to do?"

"I'm going to do the best thing a fellow can do at our age. I'm going to
loaf."

"Loaf!" said Dink, startled again, for the word was like treason.

"Just that."

"But you're not doing that. You're out to make the _Lit_. You're heeling
something, like all the rest of us," said Stover, who suddenly found
himself on the opposite side of the argument, revolting with a last
resistance at the too bold statement of his own rebellion.

"I'm not 'heeling' the _Lit_," said Brockhurst. His shyness disappeared;
he spoke energetically, interested in what he was saying. "If I were, I
would make the chairmanship without trouble. I'm head and shoulders over
the rest here, and I know it. As it is, some persistent grubber who sits
down two hours a day, thirty days a month, nine months of the year for
the next two years, who will regularly hand in one essay, two stories, a
poem, and a handful of portfolios will probably beat me out."

"And you?"

"I? I write when I have something to write, because I love it and
because my ambition is to write."

"Still, that's not exactly loafing."

"It is from your point of view, from the college point of view. It isn't
what I write that's doing me any good."

"What then?" said Stover, with growing curiosity.

"The browsing around, watching you other fellows, seeing your mistakes."

"Well, what are they?" said Dink, with a certain antagonism.

"Why, Stover, here are four years such as we'll never get again--four
years to revel in; and what do you fellows do? Slave as you'll never
slave again. Why, you're working harder than a clerk supporting a
family!"

"It's a good training."

"For a certain type, yes, but a rather low type. Thank you, I prefer to
go my own way, to work out my own ideas rather than accept others'.
However, I'm a crank. Any one who thinks differently here must be a
crank."

While they were talking the hour of twelve had struck, and presently
across the campus came a mysterious line of senior society men, marching
silently, two by two, returning to their rooms.

"What do you think of that?" said Stover, with real curiosity.

"That. A colossal mumbo-jumbo that has got every one of you in its
grip." He paused a moment and gave a short laugh. "Did you ever stop to
think, Stover, that this fetish of society secrecy that is spread all
over this Christian, democratic nation is nothing but a return of
idol-worship?"

This idea was beyond Stover, and so, not comprehending it, he resented
it. He did not reply. Brockhurst, perceiving that he had spoken too
frankly, rose.

"Well, I must be turning in," he said. "So long, Stover. You go your way
and I'll go mine; some day we'll talk it over--four years out of
college."

"The fellow _is_ a crank," said Dink, going his way. "Got some ideas,
but an extremist. One or two things he said, though, are true. I rather
like to get his point of view, but there's a chap who'll never make
friends."

And he felt again a sort of resentment, for, after all, Brockhurst was
still unplaced according to college standards, and he was Stover,
probable captain, one of those rated sure for the highest society
honors.

When he awoke the next morning, starting rebelliously from his bed, his
head was heavy, and he did not at first remember the emotions of the
night, as sleepily struggling through his sweater he ran out of his
entry for a hurried cup of coffee. Bob Story hailed him:

"Hold up, you crazy man."

"What's the matter?"

"What the deuce got into you last night?"

"Last night?" said Stover, rubbing his eyes.

"You hauled me out of bed to shout out a lot of crazy nonsense."

"What did I say?" said Dink, trying to open his eyes.

"Nothing new," said Bob maliciously. "You said you were a plain damn
fool, and were anxious for me to know it."

"Oh, I remember."

"Well?"

"Well what?"

"Explanations?"

Stover did not feel in the mood; besides, the new ideas were too big
and strange. He wanted time to understand them. So he said:

"Why, Bob, I just woke up, that's all. I'll tell you about it
sometime--not now."

"All right," said Story, with a quick look. "Drop in soon."

The following night Stover again went over to Swazey's rooms. It being
Saturday, one or two men had dropped in: Ricketts, a down-East Yankee
who recited in his divisions, a drawling, shuffling stripling with a
lazy, overgrown body and a quick, roving eye; Joe Lake, a short,
rolling, fluent Southerner from Texas; and Bud Brown, from a small
village in Michigan, one of the class debaters who affected a Websterian
deportment.

"I brought my pipe along," said Stover genially. "Got a place left where
I can stow myself? Hello, Ricketts. Hello, Lake. Glad to shake your
hand, Brown. How's the old _News_ getting along, Pike? By the way, I'll
give you a story Monday."

"Right in here, sir," said Lake, making room.

A couple of stout logs were roaring in the fireplace, before which,
propped up with cushions, the majority of the company were sprawling.
Stover took his place, filling his pipe. His arrival brought a little
constraint; the conversation, which had been at fever pitch as he stood
rapping at the door, dwindled to desultory remarks on inconsequential
things.

"Well, I certainly am among the fruits of the class," thought Stover,
eyeing the rather shaggy crowd, where sweaters and corduroys
predominated and the razor had passed not too frequently.

In the midst of this hesitation, Regan's heavy frame crowded the
doorway, accompanied by Brockhurst. Both were surprised at Stover's
unaccustomed presence, Brockhurst looking at him with a little
suspicion, Regan shaking his hand with new cordiality.

"Have you, too, joined the debating circle?" he said, crowding into a
place by Stover and adjusting the fire with a square-toed boot.

"Debating circle?" said Stover, surprised.

"Why, this is the verbal prize ring of the college," said Regan,
laughing. "We settle everything here, from the internal illnesses of the
university to the external manifestations of the universe. Pike can tell
you everything that is going to happen in the next fifty years, and so
can Brocky--only they don't agree. I'm around to get them out of
clinches."

"Reckon you get rather heated up yourself, sometimes, Tom," said Lake.

"Oh, I jump in myself when I get tired of listening."

Swazey, Lake, Ricketts, and Brown in one corner installed themselves for
a session at the national game, appropriating the lamps, and leaving the
region about the fireplace to be lit by occasional gleams from the
fitful hickories.

Brockhurst, the champion of individualism, was soon launched on his
favorite topic.

"The great fault of the American nation, which is the fault of
republics, is the reduction of everything to the average. Our
universities are simply the expression of the forces that are operating
outside. We are business colleges purely and simply, because we as a
nation have only one ideal--the business ideal."

"That's a big statement," said Regan.

"It's true. Twenty years ago we had the ideal of the lawyer, of the
doctor, of the statesman, of the gentleman, of the man of letters, of
the soldier. Now the lawyer is simply a supernumerary enlisting under
any banner for pay; the doctor is overshadowed by the specialist with
his business development of the possibilities of the rich; we have
politicians, and politics are deemed impossible for a gentleman; the
gentleman cultured, simple, hospitable, and kind, is of the dying
generation; the soldier is simply on parade."

"Wow!" said Ricketts, jingling his chips. "They're off."

"Everything has conformed to business, everything has been made to pay.
Art is now a respectable career--to whom? To the business man. Why?
Because a profession that is paid $3,000 to $5,000 a portrait is no
longer an art, but a blamed good business. The man who cooks up his
novel according to the weakness of his public sells a hundred thousand
copies. Dime novel? No; published by our most conservative
publishers--one of our leading citizens. He has found out that
scribbling is a new field of business. He has convinced the business
man. He has made it pay."

"Three cards," said Swazey's voice. "Well, Brocky, what's your remedy?"

"A smashing war every ten years," said Brockhurst shortly.

"Why, you bloody butcher," said Regan, who did not seize the idea, while
from the card-table came the chorus:

"Hooray, Brocky, go it!"

"That's the way!"

"You're in fine form to-night!"

"And why a war?" said Pike, beginning to take notice.

"A war has two positive advantages," said Brockhurst. "It teaches
discipline and obedience, which we profoundly need, and it holds up a
great ideal, the ideal of heroism, of sacrifice for an ideal. In times
of war young men such as we are are inspired by the figures of military
leaders, and their imaginations are stirred to noble desires by the word
'country.' Nowadays what is held up to us? Go out--succeed--make money."

"That's true, a good deal true," said Regan abruptly. "And the only
remedy, the only way to fight the business deal, is to interest young
men in politics, to make them feel that there are the new
battle-fields."

"Now Tom's in it," said Lake, threshing the cards through his fingers.
At the card-table the players began to listen, motioning with silent
gestures.

"I _am_ off," said Regan, bending forward eagerly and striking his fist
against his open hand. "That's the one great thing our colleges should
stand for; they ought to be great political hotbeds."

"And they're not," said Brockhurst shortly.

"The more's the pity," said Regan. "There I'm with you. They don't
represent the nation: they don't represent what the big masses are
feeling, fighting, striving for. By George, when I think of the
opportunity, of what this place could mean, what it was meant to mean!
Why, every year we gather here from every State in the Union a picked
lot, with every chance, with a wonderful opportunity to seek out and
know what the whole country needs, to be fired with the same great
impulses, to go out and fight together--" He stopped clumsily in the
midst of a sentence, and flung back his hair, frowning. "Good
government, independent thinking, the love of the fight for the right
thing ought to begin here--the enthusiasm of it all. Hang it, I can't
express it; but the idea is immense, and no one sees it."

"I see it," said Pike. "That's my ambition. I'm going back; I'm going
to own my own newspaper some day, and fight for it."

"But why don't the universities reflect what's out there?" said Regan
with a gesture.

"Because, to make it as it should be, and as it was, a live center of
political discussion," said Brockhurst, "you've got to give the
individual a chance, break through this tyranny of the average, get away
from business ideas."

"Just what do you mean when you say we are nothing but a business
college?" said Stover, preparing to resist any explanation. He
understood imperfectly what Regan was advocating. Politics meant to him
a sort of hereditary division; what new forces were at work he
completely ignored, though resolved on enlightenment. Brockhurst's
attack on the organization of the college was personal, and he felt that
his own membership in the sophomore society was aimed at.

"I mean this," said Brockhurst, speaking slowly in the effort to express
a difficult thought. "I hope I can make it clear. What would be the
natural thing? A man goes to college. He works as he wants to work, he
plays as he wants to play, he exercises for the fun of the game, he
makes friends where he wants to make them, he is held in by no fear of
criticism above, for the class ahead of him has nothing to do with his
standing in his own class. Everything he does has the one vital quality:
it is spontaneous. That is the flame of youth itself. Now, what really
exists?"

As he paused, Stover, unable to find an opening for dissent, observed
with interest the attitudes of the listeners: Pike, his pipe forgotten
in the hollow of his hand, was staring into the fire, his forehead drawn
in difficult comprehension; Regan was puffing steady, methodical puffs,
nodding his head from time to time. In the background Swazey's earnest
face was turned in their direction, and the cards, neglected, were
moving in a lazy shuffle; Brown, the debater, man of words rather than
ideas, was running his fingers nervously through his drooping hair,
chafing for the chance to enter the fray; Lake, tilted back, his fat
body exaggerated under the swollen rolls of his sweater, from which from
time to time he dug out a chip, kept murmuring:

"Perfectly correct, sir; perfectly correct."

Ricketts, without lifting his head, arranged and rearranged his pile of
chips, listening with one ear cocked, deriving meanwhile all the profit
which could be gained from his companions' divided attention. Two things
struck Stover particularly in the group--the rough, unhewn personal
exteriors, and the quick, awakened light of enthusiasm on their faces
while listening to the expounding of an idea. Brockhurst himself was
transformed. All the excessive self-consciousness which irritated and
repelled was lost in the fervor of the thinker. He spoke, not as one who
discussed, but as one who, consciously superior to his audience,
announced his conclusions; and at times, when most interested, he seemed
to be addressing himself.

"Now, what is the actual condition here?" He rose, stretching himself
against the mantel, lighting a match which died out, as did a half-dozen
others, unnoticed on his pipe. "I say our colleges to-day are business
colleges--Yale more so, perhaps, because it is more sensitively
American. Let's take up any side of our life here. Begin with athletics.
What has become of the natural, spontaneous joy of contest? Instead you
have one of the most perfectly organized business systems for achieving
a required result--success. Football is driving, slavish work; there
isn't one man in twenty who gets any real pleasure out of it.
Professional baseball is not more rigorously disciplined and driven than
our 'amateur' teams. Add the crew and the track. Play, the fun of the
thing itself, doesn't exist; and why? Because we have made a business
out of it all, and the college is scoured for material, just as drummers
are sent out to bring in business.

"Take another case. A man has a knack at the banjo or guitar, or has a
good voice. What is the spontaneous thing? To meet with other kindred
spirits in informal gatherings in one another's rooms or at the fence,
according to the whim of the moment. Instead what happens? You have our
university musical clubs, thoroughly professional organizations. If you
are material, you must get out and begin to work for them--coach with a
professional coach, make the Apollo clubs, and, working on, some day in
junior year reach the varsity organization and go out on a professional
tour. Again an organization conceived on business lines.

"The same is true with the competition for our papers: the struggle for
existence outside in a business world is not one whit more intense than
the struggle to win out in the _News_ or _Lit_ competition. We are like
a beef trust, with every by-product organized, down to the last
possibility. You come to Yale--what is said to you? 'Be natural, be
spontaneous, revel in a certain freedom, enjoy a leisure you'll never
get again, browse around, give your imagination a chance, see every one,
rub wits with every one, get to know yourself.'

"Is that what's said? No. What are you told, instead? 'Here are twenty
great machines that need new bolts and wheels. Get out and work. Work
harder than the next man, who is going to try to outwork you. And, in
order to succeed, work at only one thing. You don't count--everything
for the college.' Regan says the colleges don't represent the nation; I
say they don't even represent the individual."

"What would you do?" said Brown. "Abolish all organizations?"

"Absolutely," said Brockhurst, who never recoiled.

"What! Do you mean to say that the college of 1870 was a bigger thing
than the college of to-day?"

"My dear Brown, it isn't even debatable," said Brockhurst, with a little
contempt, for he did not understand nor like the man of flowing words.
"What have we to-day that is bigger? Is it this organization of external
activities? We have more bricks and stones, but have we the great
figures in the teaching staff? I grant you, this is purely an economic
failure--but at the bottom of the whole thing compare the spirit inside
the campus now and then. Who were the leaders then? The men of brains.
Then the college did reflect the country; then it was a vital hotbed of
political thought. To-day everything that has been developed is outside
the campus; and it's so in every college. This is the
tendency--development away from the campus at the expense of the campus.
That's why, when you ask me would I wipe out our business athletics and
our professional musical and traveling dramatic clubs, I say, yes,
absolutely. I would have the limits of college to be the walls of the
campus itself, and we'd see, when men cease to be drafted for one grind
or another, whether they couldn't begin to meet to think and to
converse. However, that brings up the whole pet problem of education,
and, I'm through talking. Go on, Pike; tell us that we are, after all,
only schools for character."

"Brocky, you certainly are a radical--a terrific one," said Pike,
shaking his head. Regan, smoking, said nothing.

"A sort of red-shirt, eh?" said Brockhurst, smiling.

"You always go off on a tangent."

"Well, there's a good deal in what Brocky says," said Regan, nodding
slowly, "about bringing us all back into the campus and shutting out the
world. It's the men here, all sorts and conditions, that, after all, are
big things, the vital thing. I'm thinking over what you're saying,
Brocky--not that I follow you altogether, but I see what you're after--I
get it."

Stover, on the contrary, was aware of only an antagonism, for his
instinct was always to combat new ideas. There were things in what
Brockhurst had said that touched him on the quick of his accepted
loyalty. Then, he could not quite forget that in the matter of his
sophomore society he had rejected him as being a little "queer." So he
said rather acidly:

"Brockhurst, one question. If you feel as you do, why do you stay here?"

Brockhurst, who had withdrawn after his outburst, a little
self-conscious again, flushed with anger at this question. But with an
effort he controlled himself, saying:

"Stover has not perceived that I have been talking of general conditions
all through the East; that I am not fool enough to believe one Eastern
university is different in essentials from another. What I criticize
here I criticize in American life. As to why I remain at Yale, I remain
because I think, because, having the advantages of my own point of view,
I can see clearer those who are still conventionalized."

"But you don't believe in working for Yale," persisted Stover, for he
was angry at what he perceived had been his discourtesy.

"Work for Yale! Work for Princeton! Work for Harvard! Bah! Sublime
poppycock!" exclaimed Brockhurst, in a sort of fury. "Of all drivel
preached to young Americans, that is the worst. I came to Yale for an
education. I pay for it--good pay. I ask, first and last, what is Yale
going to do for me? Work for Yale, go out and slave, give up my leisure
and my independence--to do what for Yale? To keep turning the wheels of
some purely inconsequential machine, or strive like a gladiator. Is that
doing anything for Yale, a seat of learning? If I'm true to myself, make
the most of myself, go out and be something, stand for something _after_
college, then ask the question if you want. Ridiculous! Hocus-pocus and
flap-doodle! Lord! I don't know anything that enrages me more. Good
night; I'm going. Heaven knows what I'll say if I stay!"

He clapped his hat on his head and broke out of the door. The chorus of
exclamations in the room died down. Ricketts, still shifting his
victorious pile, began to whistle softly to himself. Regan, languidly
stretched out, with a twinkle in his eyes kept watching Stover, staring
red and concentrated into the fire.

"Well?" he said at last.

Stover turned.

"Well?" said Regan, smiling.

Dink rapped the ashes from his pipe, scratched his head, and said
frankly:

"Of course I shouldn't have said what I did. I got well spanked for it,
and I deserve it."

"What do you think of his ideas?" said Regan, nodding appreciatively at
Stover's fair acknowledgment.

"I don't know," said Stover, puzzled. "I guess I haven't used my old
thinker enough lately to be worth anything in a discussion. Still--"

"Still what?" said Regan, as Dink hesitated.

"Still, he has made me think," he admitted grudgingly. "I wish he didn't
quite--quite get on my nerves so."

"There's a great deal in what he said to-night," said Pike meditatively;
"a great deal. Of course, he is always looking at things from the
standpoint of the individual; still, just the same--"

"Brocky always states only one side of the proposition," said Brown, who
rarely measured swords when Brockhurst was present in the flesh. "He
takes for granted his premise, and argues for a conclusion that must
follow."

"Well, what's your premise, Brown?" said Stover hopefully, for he wanted
to be convinced.

"This is my premise," said Brown fluently. "The country has changed, the
function of a college has changed. It is now the problem of educating
masses and not individuals. To-day it is a question of perfecting a high
average. That's what happens everywhere in college: we all tend toward
the average; what some lose others gain. We go out, not as individuals,
but as a type--a Yale type, Harvard type, Princeton type, five hundred
strong, proportionately more powerful in our influence on the country."

"Just what does our type take from here to the nation?" said Stover; and
then he was surprised that he had asked the question that was vital.

"What? What does this type stand for? I'll tell you," said Brown
readily, with the debater's trick of repeating the question to gain
time. "First, a pretty fine type of gentleman, with good, clear, honest
standards; second, a spirit of ambition and a determination not to be
beaten; third, the belief in democracy."

"All of which means," said Regan, "that we are simply schools for
character."

"Well, why not?" said Pike. "Isn't that a pretty big thing?"

"You're wrong on the democracy, Brown," said Regan, with a snap of his
jaws.

"I mean the feeling of man to man."

"Perhaps."

Stover at that moment was not so certain that he would have answered the
same. The discussion had so profoundly interested him that he forgot a
certain timidity.

"What would Brockhurst answer to the school-for-character idea?" he
said.

"I calculate he'd have a lovely time with it," said Ricketts, with a
laugh, "a regular dog-and-slipper time of it."

"In all which," said Swazey's quick voice, "there is no question about
our learning a little bit."

A laugh broke out.

"Lord, no!"

"That doesn't count?"

"Why the curriculum?"

"That," said Regan, rising, "brings up the subject of education, which
is deferred until another time. Ladies and gentlemen, good night. Who's
winning? Ricketts. That's because he's said nothing. Good night,
everybody."

Stover went with him.

"Tom," he said, when they came toward the campus, "do you know what I've
learned to-night? I've learned what a complete ignoramus I am."

"How did you happen in?" said Regan.

Stover related the incident without mincing words.

"You're a lucky boy," said Regan, at the conclusion. "I'm glad you're
waking up."

"You know I know absolutely nothing. I haven't thought on a single
subject, and as for politics, and what you men talk about, I don't know
the slightest thing. I say, Tom, I'd like to come around and talk with
you."

"Come," said Regan; "I've had the door on the latch for a long while,
old rooster."



CHAPTER XVII


The next afternoon Stover passed Brockhurst going to dinner.

"Hello," he said, with a cordial wave of the hand.

"Hello," said Brockhurst, with a little avoidance, for he had a certain
physical timidity, which always shrank at the consequences of his mental
insurgency.

"I was a chump and a fool last night," said Stover directly, "and here's
my apology."

"Oh, all right."

"Drop in on me. Talk things over. You've started me thinking. Drop in--I
mean it."

"Thanks, awfully."

Brockhurst, ill at ease, moved away, pursued always by a shackling
self-consciousness in the presence of those to whom he consciously felt
he was mentally superior.

One direct result came to Stover from the visit to Swazey's rooms.
Despite the protests and arguments, he did not report for the
competition for the crew.

"Stay in for a couple of months," said Le Baron. "We want the moral
effect of every one's coming out."

"Sorry; I've made up my mind," said Dink.

"Why?"

"Want time to myself. I've never had it, and now I'm going to get it."

Le Baron of the machine did not understand him, and he did not explain.
Stover was essentially a man of action and not a thinker. He did not
reason things out for himself, but when he became convinced he acted.
So, when he had thought over Brockhurst's theories and admitted that he
was not independent, he determined at once to be so. He began zealously,
turning his back on his own society crowd, to seek out the members of
his class whom he did not know, resolved that his horizon should be of
the freest. For the first time he began to reason on what others said to
him. He went often to Swazey's rooms, and Regan's, which were centers of
discussion. Some of the types that drifted in were incongruous, bizarre,
flotsam and jetsam of the class; but in each, patiently resolved, he
found something to stir the imagination; and when, under Regan's
quickening influence, he stopped to consider what life in the future
would mean to them, he began to understand what his friend, the
invincible democrat, meant by the inspiring opportunity of college--the
vision of a great country that lay on the lips of the men he had only to
seek out.

Dink was of too direct a nature and also too confident in the strength
of his position to consider the effect of his sudden pilgrimage to what
was called the "outsiders." Swazey and Pike, at his invitation, took to
dropping into his room and working out their lessons with him. Quite
unconsciously, he found himself constantly in public companionship with
them and other newly discovered types who interested him.

About two weeks after this new life had begun, Le Baron stopped him one
day, with a little solicitous frown, saying:

"Look here, Dink, aren't you cutting loose from your own crowd a good
deal?"

"Why, yes, I guess I am," Dink announced, quite unconsciously.

"I wouldn't get identified too much with--well, with some of the
fellows you've taken up."

Stover smiled, and went his way undisturbed. For the first time he felt
his superiority over Le Baron. Le Baron could not know what he
knew--that it was just these new acquaintances who had waked him up out
of his torpor and made a thinking being of him. Others in his class,
mistaking his motives, began to twit him:

"I say, Dink, what are you out for?"

"Running for something?"

"Getting into politics?"

"Junior Prom, eh?"

He turned the jests aside with jests as ready, quite unaware that in his
own crowd he was arousing a little antagonism; for he was developing in
such deep lines that he did not perceive vexing details.

All at once he remembered that it had been over a fortnight since he had
called at the Storys' and he ran over one afternoon about four o'clock,
expecting to stay for dinner; for the Judge kept open house to the
friends of his son, and Stover had readily availed himself of the
privilege to become intimate.

Although Bob Story was bound to him by the closest social ties, Dink
felt, nor was he altogether at fault in the feeling, that the brother
was still on the defensive with him, due to a natural resentment perhaps
at Dink's too evident interest in his sister.

When he arrived at the old colonial house set back among the elms,
Eliza, the maid, informed him that no one was at home. Miss Jean was out
riding. But immediately she corrected herself, and, going upstairs to
make sure, returned with the welcome information that Miss Story had
just returned and begged him to wait.

He took the request as a meager evidence of her interest, and entered
the drawing-room. Waiting there for her to come tripping down the
stairs, he began to think of the new horizon that had opened to him, and
the new feeling of maturity; and, feeling this with an acute
realization, he was impatient for her to come, that he might tell her.

It was a good ten minutes before he turned suddenly at a rustling on the
stairs, and saw her, fresh and flushed from the ride.

"It's awfully good of you to wait," she called to him. "I did my best to
rush."

Arrived on the landing, she gave him her hand, looking at him a little
earnestly.

"How are you? You're a terrible stranger."

"Have I been very bad?" he said, holding her hand.

"Indeed you have. Even Bob said he hardly saw you. What have you been
doing?"

She withdrew her hand gently, but stood before him, looking into his
face with her frank, inquiring eyes. Stover wondered if she thought he'd
been a trifle wild; and, as there was no justification, he was immensely
flattered, and a little tempted dramatically to assume an attitude that
would call for reform. He smiled and said:

"I've been on a voyage of discovery, that's all. You'll be interested."

They sat down, and he began directly to talk, halting in broken phrases
at first, gradually finding his words as he entered his subject.

"By George! I've had a wonderful two weeks--a revelation--just as
though--just as though I'd begun my college course; that's really what
it means. All I've done before doesn't count. And to think, if it hadn't
been for an accident, I might have gone on without ever waking up."

He recounted his visit to Swazey's rooms, drawing a picture of his
self-satisfied self descending _en prince_ to bestow a favor; and,
warming out of his stiffness, drew a word picture of Swazey's telling
his story before the fire, and the rough sentiment with which he brought
forth the odd, common little tintypes.

"By George! the fellow had told a great story and he didn't know it; but
I knew it, and it settled me," he added with earnestness, always aware
of her heightened attention. "It was a regular knockout blow to the
conceited, top-heavy, prancing little ass who had gone there. By Jove,
it gave me a jar. I went out ashamed."

"It is a very wonderful life--simple, wonderful," she said slowly,
thinking more of the relator than of the story. "I understand all you
felt."

"You know life's real to those fellows," he continued, with more
animation. "They're after something in this world; they believe in
something; they're fighting for something. There's nothing real in
me--that is, there wasn't. By George, these two weeks that I've gone
about, looking for the men in the class, have opened up everything to
me. I never knew my own country before. It's a wonderful country! It's
the simple lives that are so wonderful."

[Illustration: "'LIFE'S REAL TO THOSE FELLOWS; THEY'RE FIGHTING FOR
SOMETHING'"--_Page 254._]

She had in her hand a piece of embroidery, but she did not embroider.
Her eyes never left his face. For the first time, the rôles were
reversed: it was he who talked and she who listened. From time to time
she nodded, satisfied at the decision and direction in his character,
which had answered the first awakening suggestion.

"Who is Pike?" she asked.

"Pike is a little fellow from a little life in some country town in
Indiana; the only one in a family of eight children that's amounted to
anything--father's a pretty even sort, I guess; so are the rest of them.
But this fellow has a dogged persistence--not so quick at thinking
things out, but, Lord! how he listens; nothing gets away from him. I can
see him growing right under my eyes. He's interested in politics, same
as Regan; wants to go back and get a newspaper some day. He'll do it,
too. Why, that fellow has been racing ahead ever since he came here, and
I've been standing still. Ricketts is an odd character, a sort of Yankee
genius, shrewd, and some of his observations are as sharp as a knife.
Brockhurst has the brains of us all; he can out-think us every one. But
he's a spectator; he's outside looking on. I can't quite get used to
him. Regan's the fellow I want for a friend. He's like an old Roman.
When he makes up his mind--it takes him a long while--when he does, he's
right."

He recounted Regan's ideas on politics--his enthusiasm, and his ideal of
a college life that would reflect the thought of the nation.

Then, talking to himself, he began to walk up and down, flinging out
quick, stiff gestures:

"Brockhurst states a thing in such a slap-bang way--no compromise--that
it hits you at first like a blow. But when you think it over he has
generally got to the point. Where he's wrong is, he thinks the society
system here keeps a man wrapped in cotton, smothering him and separating
him from the class. Now, I'm an example to the contrary. It's all a
question of the individual. I thought it wasn't at one moment, but now I
know that it is. You can do just what you want--find what you want.

"But we do get so interested in outside things that we forget the real;
that's true. Brockhurst says we ought to bring the college back to the
campus, and the more I think of it the more I see what he means. The
best weeks, the biggest in my life, are those when I've realized I had
an imagination and could use it." Suddenly he halted, gave a quick
glance at her, and said:

"Here I'm talking like a runaway horse. I got started."

"Thank you for talking to me so," she said eagerly.

He had never seen in her eyes so much of genuine impulse toward him,
and, suddenly recalled, in this moment of exhilaration, to the personal
self, he was thrilled with a strange thrill at what he saw.

"You remember," he said, with a certain new boldness, "how impudent you
used to be to me, and how furious I was when you told me I was not
awake."

"I remember."

"Now I understand what you meant," he said, "but then I didn't."

She rose to order tea, and then turned impulsively, smiling up to him.

"I think--I'm sure I felt it would come to you; only I was a little
impatient."

And with a happy look she offered him her hand.

"I'm very glad to be your friend," she said, to make amends; "and I hope
you'll come and talk over with me all that you are thinking. Will you?"

He did not answer. At the touch of her hand, which he held in his, at
the new sound in her voice, suddenly something surged up in him,
something blinding, intoxicating, that left him hot and cold, rash and
silent. She tried to release her hand, but his grip was not to be
denied.

Then, seeing him standing head down boyishly unable to speak or act, she
understood.

"Oh, please!" she said, with a sudden weakness, again trying to release
her fingers.

"I can't help it," he said, blurting out the words. "Jean, you know as
well as I what it is. I love you."

The moment the words were out, he had a cold horror of what had been
said. He didn't love her, not as he had said it. Why had he said it?

She remained motionless a moment, gathering her strength against the
shock.

"Please let go my hand," she said quietly.

This time he obeyed. His mind was a vacuum; every little sound came to
him distinctly, with the terror of the blunder he had made.

She went to the window and stood, her face half turned from him, trying
to think; and, misreading her thoughts, a little warm blood came back to
him, and he tried to think what he would say if she came back with a
light in her eyes.

"Mr. Stover."

He looked up abruptly--he had scarcely moved. She was before him, her
large eyes seeming larger than ever, her face a little frightened, but
serious with the seriousness of the woman looking out.

"You have done a very wrong thing," she said slowly, "and you have
placed me in a very difficult position. I do not want to lose you as a
friend." She made a rapid movement of her fingers to check his
exclamation. "If what you said were true, and you are too young to have
said such solemn words, may I ask what right you had to say them to me?"

"What right?" he said stupidly.

"Yes, what right," she repeated, looking at him steadily with a certain
wistfulness. "Are you in a position to ask me to be your wife?"

"Let me think a moment," he said, drawing a breath.

He walked away to the table, leaning his weight on it, while, without
moving, she followed with a steady gaze, in which was a little pity.

"Let me help you," she said at last.

He turned and looked up for the first time, a look of wretchedness.

"It would be too bad that one moment should spoil all our friendship,"
she said, "and because that would hurt me I don't want it so. You are a
boy, and I am not yet a woman. I have always respected you, no more so
than to-day, before--before you forgot your respect toward me. I want
always to keep the respect I had for you."

"Don't say any more," he said suddenly, with a lump in his throat. "I
don't know why--what--why I forgot myself. Please don't take away from
me your friendship. I will keep it very precious."

"It is very hard to know what to do," she said. Then she added, with a
little heightening of her color: "My friendship means a great deal."

He put out his hand and gently took the end of a scarf which she wore
about her shoulders, and raised it to his lips. It was a boyish,
impulsive fantasy, and he inclined his head before her. Then he went out
hurriedly, without speaking or turning, while the girl, pale and without
moving, continued to stare at the curtain which still moved with his
passing.



CHAPTER XVIII


Stover went rushing from the Storys' home, and away for a long feverish
march along dusky avenues, where unseen leaves came whirling against
him. He was humiliated, mortified beyond expression, in a panic of
self-accusation and remorse.

"It's all over," he said, with a groan. "I've made a fool of myself. I
can never square myself after that. What under the shining stars made me
say that? What happened? I hadn't a thought, and then all at once--Oh,
Lord!"

A couple of upper classmen returning nodded to him, and he flung back an
abrupt "Hello," without distinguishing them.

"Why did I do it?--why--why!"

He went plunging along, through the dark regions that lay between the
spotted arc lights that began to sputter along the avenue, his ears
deafened by the rush and grind of blazing trolley cars. When he had gone
breathlessly a good two miles, he stopped and wearily retraced his
steps. The return no longer gave him the sensation of flight. He came
back laggingly, with reluctance. Each time he thought of the scene which
had passed he had a sensation of heat and cold, of anger and of
cowardice. Never again he said to himself, would he be able to enter the
Storys' home, to face her, Jean Story.

But after a time, from sheer exhaustion, he ceased to think about his
all-important self. He remembered the dignity and gentleness with which
the young girl had met the shock of his blunder, and he was overwhelmed
with wonder. He saw again her large eyes, filled with pain, trouble, and
yet a certain pity. He recalled her quiet voice, the direct meeting of
the issue, and deep through all impressions was the memory of the woman,
sweet, self-possessed, and gentle, that had been evoked from her eyes.

He forgot himself. He forgot all the wretchedness and hot misery. He
remembered only this Jean Story, and the Jean Story that would be. And
feeling the revealing acuteness of love for the first time, he said
impulsively:

"Oh, yes, I love her. I have always loved her!" And silently, deep in
his heart, a little frightened almost to set the thought to words, he
made a vow that his life from now on should be earnest and inspired with
but one purpose, to win her respect and to win the right to ask her for
his wife.

With the resolve, all the fret and fever went from him. He felt a new
confidence and a new maturity.

"When I speak again, I shall have the right," he said solemnly. "And she
shall see that I am not a mere boy. That I will show her soon!"

When he came again into the domain of the college, he suddenly felt all
the littleness of the ambitions that raged inside those self-sufficient
walls.

"Lord, what have I been doing all this time--what does it count for?
Brocky is right; it isn't what you do here, it's what you are ready to
do when you go out. Thank Heaven, I can see it now." And secure in the
knowledge that the honors he rated so lightly were his, he added:
"There's only one thing that counts--that's your own self."

It was after the dinner hour, and he hesitated; a little tired of his
own company, longing for the diversion another personality would bring,
and seeking some one as far removed from his own point of view as
possible, he halted before Durfee, and sent his call to the top stories:

"Oh, Ricky Ricketts, stick out your head."

Above a window went up, and a fuzzy head came curiously forth.

"Wot'ell, Bill?"

"It's Stover, Dink Stover. Come down."

"Somethin' doin'?"

"You bet."

Presently, Ricketts's bean-stalk figure came flopping out of the entry.

"What's up, Dink?"

"I'm back too late for supper. Come on down with me to Mory's and keep
me company, and I'll buy you a drink."

"Did I hear the word 'buy'?" said Ricketts, in the manner then made
popular by the lamented Pete Dailey.

"You did."

"Lead me to it."

At Mory's, two or three men whom he didn't know were at the senior
table. Le Baron and Reynolds, prospective captain of the crew and
chairman of the News, respectively, men of his own society, gave him a
hearty, "Hello, Dink," and then stared curiously at Ricketts, whose
general appearance neither conformed to any one fashion nor to any two.
Gimbel, the politician, was in the off room with three of the more
militant anti-sophomore society leaders. The two parties saluted in
regulation style.

"Hello, you fellows."

"Howdy, there."

Stover, sitting down, saw Gimbel's perplexed glance at his companion,
and thought to himself:

"I've got Gimbel way up a tree. I'll bet he thinks I'm trying to work
out some society combine against him."

The thought recalled to him all the increasing bitterness of the
anti-sophomore society fight which had swept the college. There was talk
even of an open mass meeting. He remembered that Hunter had mentioned
it, and for a moment he was inclined to put the question direct to
Gimbel. But his mood was alien to controversy, and Louis, with sidelong,
beady eyes, and a fragrant aroma, was waiting the order.

Ricketts had, among twenty Yankee devices for greasing his journey
through college, a specialty of breaking in new pipes, one of which he
now produced, with an apologetic:

"You don't mind, do you, if I crack my lungs on this appetizing little
trifle?"

"I say, Ricketts," said Stover, trying to keep off his mind the one
subject, "is that all a joke about your breaking in pipes?"

"Straightest thing in the world."

"What do you charge?"

"Thirty-five cents and the tobacco."

"You ought to charge fifty."

"I'm going to next year. You think I'm loony?" said Ricketts.

"I'm not sure."

"Dink, my boy, I'll be a millionaire in ten years. You know what I'm
figuring out all this time? I'm going at this scientifically. I'm
figuring out the number of fools there are on the top of this globe,
classifying 'em, looking out what they want to be fooled on. I'm making
an exact science of it."

"Go on," said Dink, amused and perplexed, for he was trying to
distinguish the serious and the humorous.

"What's the principle of a patent medicine?--advertise first, then
concoct your medicine. All the science of Foolology is: first, find
something all the fools love and enjoy, tell them it's wrong, hammer it
into them, give them a substitute and sit back, chuckle, and shovel away
the ducats. Bread's wrong, coffee's wrong, beer's wrong. Why, Dink, in
the next twenty years all the fools will be feeding on substitutes for
everything they want; no salt--denatured
sugar--anti-tea--oiloline--peanut butter--whale's milk--et cetera, et
ceteray, and blessing the name of the fool-master who fooled them."

"By Jingo," said Stover, listening to this jumble of words, entranced,
"I believe you're right. And so you've reduced it to a science,
eh--Foolology?"

Ricketts, half in earnest, never entirely in jest, abetted by newly
arriving tobies, was off again on his pet theories of business
imagination, disdaining the occasional gibes that were flung at him from
Gimbel's table.

When Le Baron and Reynolds passed out, with curious glances, Stover was
weak with laughter. Later arrivals dropping in joined them, egging on
the inventor.

Stover, who had been busily consulting his watch, left at half-past
eight on a sudden resolve. The farcical interruption that had
temporarily drawn him out of himself, had cleared his head, and brought
him a sudden authoritative decision.

He went directly to the Storys', and, entering the parlor, found a group
of his crowd there, dinner finished, trying out the latest comic opera
chorus.

He came in quite coldly self-possessed, shook hands, and immediately
jumped into the conversation, which was all on the crisis in the
sophomore societies. Jean Story was at the piano, a little more serious
than usual. At his entrance, she looked up with sudden wonder and
confusion. He came to her, and in taking her hand inclined his head in
great respect, but did not speak to her. He had but one desire, to show
her that he was not a boy but a man, and that he could rise to the
crisis which he had brought on himself.

Hunter and Tommy Bain had been arguing for no compromise, Bob Story and
Hungerford were of the opinion that the time had come to enlarge the
membership of the societies, and to destroy their exclusiveness.

On the sofa, the little Judge, a spectator, never intimating his
opinion, studying each man as he spoke, appealed to Stover:

"Well, now, Judge Dink, what is your learned opinion on this situation?
Here is the dickens to pay; three-fourths the college lined up against
you fellows, and a public mass meeting coming. Jim Hunter here believes
in sitting back and letting the storm blow over; Bob, who of course can
regulate it all, wants to double the membership and meet some
objections. Now what do you say? Mr. Stover has the floor. My daughter
will please come to order."

Jean Story abruptly turned from the piano, where her fingers had been
absent-mindedly running over the keys.

"Frankly, I haven't made up my mind just yet," said Stover. "There are a
great many sides to it. I've listened to a good many opinions, but
haven't yet chosen mine. Every one is talking about the effect on the
college, but what has impressed me most is the effect on the sophomore
society men themselves. If the outsiders only knew the danger and
handicap they are to us!"

"Hello," said the Judge, shifting with a little interest.

"What do you mean?" said Hunter aggressively.

"I mean we are the ones who are limited, who are liable to miss the big
opportunities of college life. We have got into the habit, under the
pretense of good fellowship, of herding together."

"Why shouldn't we?" persisted Hunter.

"Because we shut ourselves up, withdraw from the big life of the
college, know only our own kind, the kind we'll know all our life;
surrender our imagination. We represent only a social idea, a good time,
good friends, good figure-heads on the different machines of the
college. But we miss the big chance--to go out, to mingle with every
one, to educate ourselves by knowing opposite lives, fellows who see
things as we never have seen them, who are going back to a life a
thousand miles away from what we will lead." He expressed himself badly,
and, realizing it, said impatiently: "Here, what I mean is this. It's
not my idea, it's Brockhurst's, it's Tom Regan's. The biggest thing we
can do is to reflect the nation, to be the inspiration of the democracy
of the country, to be alive to the fight among the people for real
political independence. We ought to get a great vision when we come up
here, as young men, of the bigness of our country, of the privilege of
fighting out its political freedom, of what American manhood means in
the towns of Georgia and Texas, in the little manufacturing cities of
New England, in the great West, and in the small homes of the big
cities. We ought to really know one another, meet, discuss, respect each
other's point of view, independence--odd ways if you wish. We don't do
it. We did once--we don't now. Princeton doesn't do it, Harvard doesn't
do it. We're over-organized away from the vital thing--the knowledge of
ourselves."

"Then you'd abolish the sophomore societies?" said Hunter, crowding him
to the wall.

"I don't know. Sometimes I've felt it's the system that is wrong," said
Stover frankly. "Lately, I've changed my mind. I think we can do what we
want--at least I know I've gone out and met whom I wanted to without my
being in a sophomore society making the slightest difference. I say I
don't know where the trouble is; whether the whole social system here
and elsewhere is the cause or the effect. It may be that it is the whole
development of America that has changed our college life. I don't know;
those questions are too big for me to work out. But I know one thing,
that my own ideas of what I want here have taken a back somersault, and
that I'm going out of here knowing everything I can of every man in the
class." Suddenly he remembered Hunter's opposition, and turning,
concluded: "One thing more; if ever I make up my mind that the sophomore
society system or any other system ought to be abolished, I'll stand out
and say so."

When he had finished, his classmates began talking all at once, Hunter
and Bain in bitter opposition, Bob Story in warm defense, Hungerford, in
his big-souled way, coming ponderously to his assistance.

Stover withdrew from the conversation. He glanced at Jean Story,
wondering if she had understood the reason of his return, and that he
had spoken for her ears alone. She was still at the piano, one hand
resting on the keyboard, looking at him with the same serious,
half-troubled expression in her large eyes. He made an excuse to leave,
and for the second that he stood by her, he looked into her eyes
boldly, with even a little bravado, as though to ask:

"Do you understand?"

But the young girl, without speaking, nodded her head slightly,
continuing to look at him with her wistful, a little wounded glance.



CHAPTER XIX


It was only a little after nine. He had left in the company of Joe
Hungerford, who had ostensibly taken the opportunity of going with him.

"I say, Dink," he began directly, in the blustering, full-mouthed way he
had when excited, "I say bully for you. Lord, I liked to hear you talk
out."

"It's all simple enough," said Stover, surprised at the other's
enthusiasm. "I suppose I wouldn't have said all I did if it hadn't been
for Hunter."

"Oh, Jim's a damned hard-shell from way back," said Hungerford
good-humoredly, "never mind him. I say though, Dink, you really have
been going round, haven't you, breaking through the lines?"

"Yes, I have."

"I wish you'd take me around with you some time," said Hungerford
enviously.

"Why the deuce don't you break in yourself?"

"It doesn't come natural, Dink," said the inheritor of millions
regretfully. "I never went through boarding-school like you fellows. By
George, it's just what I want, what I hoped for here! and, damn it, what
I'm not getting!"

"You know, Joe," said Dink suddenly, "there wouldn't be any society
problem if fellows that felt the way you and I do would assert
themselves. By George, there's nothing wrong with the soph societies,
the trouble is with us."

"I'm not so sure," said Hungerford seriously.

"Rats!"

"You know, Dink," said Joe with a little hesitation, "it is not every
one who understands you or what you're doing."

"I know," said Stover, laughing confidently. "Some have got an idea I've
got some great political scheme, working in with the outsiders to run
for the Junior Prom, or something like that."

"No, it's not all that. I don't think some of our crowd realize what
you're doing--rather fancy you're cutting loose from them."

"Let them think," said Stover carelessly. Then he added with some
curiosity: "Has there been much talk?"

"Yes, there has."

"Any one spoken to you?"

"Yes."

"I know--I know they've got an idea I'm queering myself--oh, that word
'queer'; it's the bogey of the whole place."

"You're right there! But, Dink, I might as well let you know the
feeling; it isn't simply in our set, but some of the crowd ahead."

"Le Baron, Reynolds?"

"Yes. Haven't they ever--ever said anything to you?"

"Bless their simple hearts," said Stover, untroubled. "So they're
worrying about me. It's rather humorous. It's their inherited point of
view. Le Baron, Joe, could no more understand what we are thinking
about--and yet he's a fine type. Sure, he's stopped me a couple of times
and shaken his head in a worried, fatherly way. To him, you see,
everything is selective; what he calls the fellow who doesn't count, the
'fruit,' is really outside what he understands, the fellows who are in
the current of what's being done here. I must talk it out with him
sometime. We've come to absolutely opposite points of view. And yet the
curious thing is, he's fond as the deuce of me."

"Yes, that's so," said Hungerford. He did not insist, seeing that Stover
was insensible to the hints he had tried to convey. Not wishing to
express openly a point of view which was personally unsympathetic, he
hesitated and remained silent.

"Coming up for a chin?" said Dink, as they neared the campus.

"No, I've got a date at Heub's. I say, Dink, I'm serious in what I said.
I want to wake up and get around. Work me in."

"You bet I will, and you'll meet a gang that really have some ideas."

"That's what I want. Well, so long."

"So long, Joe."

Dink, turning to the right, entered the campus past Battell. He had
never before felt so master of himself, or surer of a clear vision. The
thought of his instinctive return to the Storys', and the knowledge that
he had distinguished himself before Jean Story, gave him a certain
exhilaration. He began to feel the opportunity that was in his hands. He
remembered with pleasure Hungerford's demand to follow where he had
gone, and he said to himself:

"I can make this crowd of mine see what the real thing is--and, by
George, I'm going to do it."

As he delayed in the campus, Le Baron and Reynolds passed him, going
toward Durfee.

"Hello, Dink."

"Hello there."

He continued on to his entry, and, turning, saw the two juniors stop
and watch him. Without heed he went up to his room, lit the dusty
gas-jet, and went reverently to his bureau. He was in his bedroom,
standing there in a sentimental mood, gazing at the one or two little
kodaks he had displayed of Jean Story, when a knock sounded. He turned
away abruptly, singing out:

"Let her come."

The door opened and some one entered, and, emerging from his bedroom, he
beheld to his surprise Le Baron and Reynolds.

"Hello," he said, puzzled.

"Anything doing, Dink?" said Le Baron pleasantly.

"Not a thing. Make yourself at home," he said hastily. "Take a seat.
Pipe tobacco in the jar--cigarettes on the table."

Each waved his hand in dissent. Reynolds seated himself in a quick,
business-like way on the edge of his chair; Le Baron, more sociable,
passed curiously about the room, examining the trophies with interest.

"I wonder what's up now," thought Dink, without uneasiness. He knew that
it was the custom of men in the class above about to go into the senior
societies to acquaint themselves with the tendencies of the next class.
"That's it," he said to himself; "they want to know if I'm heeling Bones
or Keys."

"You've got a great bunch of junk," said Le Baron, finishing his
inspection.

"Yes, it's quite a mixture."

Le Baron, refusing a seat, stood before the fireplace, a pocket knife
juggling in his hands, seeking an opening.

"Here, I'll have a cigarette," he said finally, with a frown.

Reynolds, more business-like, broke out:

"Dink, we've dropped in to have a little straight talk with you."

"All right."

He felt a premonition of what was coming, and the short note of
authority in Reynolds's voice seemed to stiffen everything inside of
him.

"We've dropped a few hints to you," continued Reynolds, in his staccato
manner, "and you haven't chosen to understand them. Now we're going to
put it right to you."

"Hold up, Benny," said Le Baron, who had lit his cigarette, "it's not
necessary to talk that way. Let me explain."

"No, put it to me straight," said Stover, looking past Le Baron straight
into Reynolds's eyes. An instinctive antagonism was in him, the revolt
of the man of action, the leader in athletics, at being criticized by
the man of the pen.

"Stover, we don't like what you've been doing lately."

"Why not?"

"You're shaking your own crowd, and you're identifying yourself with a
crowd that doesn't count. What the deuce has got into you?"

"Just shut up for a moment, Benny," said Le Baron, giving him a look,
"you're not putting the thing in the right way."

"I'm not jumping on any one," said Reynolds. "I'm giving him good
advice."

Stover looked at him without speaking, then he turned to Le Baron.

"Well?"

"Look here, Dink," said Le Baron conciliatingly. "A lot of us fellows
have spoken to you, but you didn't seem to understand. Now, what I'm
saying is because I like you, and because you are making a mistake.
We're interested personally, and for the society's sake, in seeing you
make out of yourself what you ought to be, one of the big men of the
class. Dink, what's happened? Have you lost your nerve about
anything--anything wrong?"

"Wait a moment--let me understand the thing," said Stover, absolutely
dumbfounded. Reynolds's purely unintentional false start had left him
cold with anger. "Am I to understand that you have come here to inform
me that you do not approve of the friends I've been making?"

"Hold up," said Le Baron.

"No, let's have it straight. That's what I want, too," he said quickly,
facing Reynolds. "You criticize the crowd I'm going with, and you want
me to chuck them. That's it in plain English, isn't it?"

A little flush showed on Reynolds's face. He, too, felt the physical
superiority in Stover, and the antagonism thereof, and, being provoked,
he answered more shortly than he meant to:

"Let it go at that."

"Is that right?" said Stover, turning to Le Baron.

"Now, look here, Dink, there's no use in getting hot about this," said
Le Baron uneasily. "No one's forcing anything on you. We are here as
your friends, telling you what we believe is for your own good."

"So you think if I go on identifying myself with the crowd I'm with that
I may 'queer' myself?"

"That's rather strong."

"Why not have it out?"

"This is true," said Le Baron, "that the men in your own crowd don't
understand your cutting loose from them, and that no one can make out
why you've taken up with the crowd you have."

The explanation which might have cleared matters was forgotten by Stover
in the wound to his vanity.

"You haven't answered my question."

"Well, Dink, to be honest," said Le Baron, "if you keep on deliberately,
there is more than a chance of--"

"Of queering myself?"

"Yes."

"Being regarded as a sort of wild man, and missing out on a senior
election."

"That's what we want to prevent," said Le Baron, believing he saw a
reasonable excuse. "You've got everything in your hands, Stover, don't
waste your time--"

"One moment."

Stover, putting out his hand, interrupted him. He locked his hands
behind his back, twisting them in physical pain, staring out the window,
unable to meet the suddenness of the situation.

"You've been quite frank," he said, when he was able to speak. "You have
not come to me to dictate who should be my friends here, though that's
perhaps a quibble, but as members of my sophomore society you have come
to advise me against what might queer me. I understand. Well, gentlemen,
you absolutely amaze me. I didn't believe it possible. I'll think it
over."

He looked at them with a quick nod, intimating that there was nothing
more to be discussed. Reynolds, saying something under his breath,
sprang up. Le Baron, feeling that the interview had been a blunder from
the first, said suddenly:

"Benny, see here; let me have a moment's talk with Dink."

"Quite useless, Hugh," said Stover, in the same controlled voice.
"There's nothing more to be said. You have your point of view, I have
mine. I understand. There's no pressure being put on me, only, if I am
to go on choosing my friends as I have--I do it at my own risk. I've
listened to you. I don't know what I shall answer. That's all. Good
night."

Reynolds went out directly, Le Baron slowly, with much hesitation,
seeking some opportunity to remain, with a last uneasy glance.

When Stover was left to himself, his first sensation was of absolute
amazement. He, the big man of the class, confident in the security of
his position, had suddenly tripped against an obstruction, and been made
to feel his limitations.

"By Heavens! If any one would have told me, I wouldn't have believed
it--the fools!"

The full realization of the pressure that had been exerted on him did
not yet come to him. He was annoyed, as some wild animal at the first
touch of a rope that seems only to check him.

He moved about the room, tossing back his hair impatiently.

"That's what Hungerford was trying to hint to me," he said. "So my
conduct has been under fire. What I do is a subject of criticism because
I've gone out of the beaten way, done something they don't
understand--the precious idiots!" Then he remembered Reynolds, and his
anger began to rise. "The little squirt, the impudent little scribbler,
to come and tell me what I should or shouldn't do! How the devil did I
ever keep my temper? Who is he anyhow? I'll give him an answer!"

All at once he perceived the full extent of the situation, and what a
defiance would mean to those leaders in the class above, men marked for
Skull and Bones, the society to which he aspired.

"No pressure!" he said aloud, with a grim laugh, "Oh, no! no pressure at
all! Advice only--take it or leave it, but the consequences are on your
head. By Heavens, I wouldn't have believed it." It hurt him, it hurt him
acutely, that he, who had won his way to leadership, should have sat and
listened to those who were the masters of his success.

"Hold up, hold up, Dink Stover," he said, all at once. "This is
serious--a damn sight more serious than you thought. It's up to you.
What are you going to do about it?"

All at once the temper that always lay close to his skin, uncontrollable
and violent, broke out.

"By Heavens--and I stood for it--I stood there quietly and listened, and
never said a word! But I didn't realize it--no, I didn't realize it.
Yes, but he won't understand it, that damned little whipper-snapper of a
Reynolds; he'll think I've kow-towed. He will, will he? We'll see! By
Heavens, that's what their society game means, does it! Thank Heaven, I
didn't argue with them. At least I didn't do that."

He strode over quickly, and seizing his cap clapped it on his head, and
stopped.

"Now or never," he said, between his teeth.

He went out slamming the door; and as he went, furiously, all the anger
and humiliation blazed up in a fierce revolt--he, Dink, Dink Stover, had
stood tamely and listened while others had come and told him what to do,
told him in so many words that he was "queering" himself. He went out of
the entry almost at a run, with a sort of blind, unreasoning idea that
he could overtake them. By the fence he almost upset Dopey McNab, who
called to him fruitlessly:

"Here--I say, Dink! What the devil!"

He reached the center of the campus before he stopped. He had quite lost
control of himself; he knew what he would say, and he didn't care.
Suddenly he recalled where Reynolds roomed, and went hot-foot for
Vanderbilt, with a fierce physical longing to be provoked into a fight.

He arrived at the door breathlessly, a lump in his throat, never
considering the chances of finding them out.

Le Baron and Reynolds were before the fireplace in a determined
argument. He shut the door behind him, and leaned against it, digging
his nails into his hands with the effort to master his voice.

The two juniors, struck by the violence of his entrance, turned
abruptly, and Le Baron, a little pale, started forward, saying:

"I say, Dink--"

"Look here," he cried, flinging out a hand for silence, "I don't know
why I didn't say it to you there--when you spoke to me. I don't know.
I'm a low-livered coward and a skunk because I didn't! But I know now
what I'm going to say, and I'll say it. You came to me, you dared to
come to me and tell me what I was to do--to heel--that's what you meant;
to cut out fellows I know and respect--oh, you didn't have the courage
to say it out, but that's it. Well, now, I've just got one thing to say
to you both. If this is what your society business means, if this is
your idea of democracy--I'm through with you--"

"Hold up," said Le Baron, springing forward.

"I won't hold up," said Stover, beside himself, "for you or for any one
else, or whatever you can do against me! Here's my answer--I'm through!
You and the whole society can go plumb to Hell!"

And suffocating, choking, blinded with his fury, he thrust his hand into
his breast, and tore from his shirt the pin he had been given to wear,
and flung it on the floor, stamped upon it, and bolted from the room.



CHAPTER XX


For an hour, bareheaded, he went plunging into the darkness, a prey to a
nervous crisis, that left him shaking in every muscle. He knew the
extent of his passions, and the anger which had swept over him left him
weak and frightened.

"It's lucky that runt of a Reynolds held his tongue," he said hotly. "By
the Lord, I don't know what I would have done to him. Here, I must get
hold of myself. This is terrible. Well, thank Heaven, it's over."

He controlled himself slowly, and came back, limp and weak; yet beyond
the physical reaction was a liberated soaring of the spirit.

"I'm glad I did it! I never was gladder!" he said solemnly. "Good-by to
the whole society game, Skull and Bones, and all the rest. But I take my
stand from now on, and I stand on my own feet. I'm glad of it." Then he
thought of Jean Story, and he was troubled. "I wonder if she'll
understand? I can't help it. I couldn't do anything else. Now, I suppose
the whole bunch will turn on me. So be it."

It was long after midnight when he came back gloomily to the light still
staring from his window, and toiled up the heavy steps. When he entered
the room, Le Baron, Bob Story, and Joe Hungerford were sitting silently,
waiting for him, and in Story's hand was the pin bruised by his furious
heel.

He saw at once the full strength of the appeal that was to be made to
him, and he closed the door wearily.

"I don't want to talk about it," he said slowly. "The whole thing is
done and buried."

Bob Story, agitated and solemn, came to him.

"Dink, this is awful--the whole thing is awful," he said earnestly.
"You've got to talk it out with us."

"Do you understand, Bob," Stover said suddenly, "just what happened in
this room?"

"Yes, I think I do."

"I don't believe it."

"Dink, I want you to listen to me a moment," said Le Baron. "It's been
rotten business, the whole wretched thing. I can understand how you
felt. Reynolds and you got on each other's nerves. You each said what
you didn't mean. It was damned unfortunate. He put things to you like a
fool, and I was telling him so when you broke into the room. He was all
up on edge from something that had gone before."

"Oh, I lost my temper," said Stover. "I know it."

"I'd have done the same," said Hungerford openly.

"Now, Dink, there isn't one of us here that doesn't like you, and look
up to you," said Story, with his irresistible charm. "We know you're
every inch a man, and what you do you believe in. But, Dink, we're all
friends together, and this is a terrible thing to us. We want you to
take back your pin, and shut up this whole business. Will you?"

"I'd do a great deal for you, Bob Story," said Stover, looking him in
the eyes, "more than for any one else, but I can't do this."

He said it calmly, with a little sadness. The three were impressed with
the finality of the judgment. Story, standing with the cast-off pin in
his hand, turning and twisting it, said slowly:

"Dink, do you really mean it?"

"I do."

"It's a serious thing you're doing, Stover," said Le Baron, with the
first touch of formality, "and I don't think it should be done in
anger."

"I'm not."

"Remember that you are judging a whole society--your own friends--by
what one man happened to say to you in a moment of irritation."

"I don't want to talk of what's done," said Stover slowly, for his head
was throbbing. "I know myself, and I know nothing is going to make me go
back on what I've said. I'm only going to say a word, and then I'm going
into my room and going to bed. Le Baron"--with a sudden rise of his
voice he turned and faced the junior--"don't think I don't understand
what it means that I'm giving up. I get what you mean when you start in
calling me Stover. I know as well as I'm standing here that you and
Reynolds will keep me out of Bones, whether I make captain or not. And
that'll hurt me a good bit--I admit it. Now don't let's quibble. It
isn't the way Reynolds said what he did--though that did rile me--it's
what was told me, indirectly or directly--it's the same thing; you men
in sophomore societies would limit my freedom of choice. There you are.
I'm against you now, because for the first time I see how the thing
works out, because you're wrong! You're a bad influence for those who
are in, and a rotten influence for the whole college. Now I've made up
my mind to just one thing. I'm going to finish up here at the head of my
own business--my own master; and I'm not going to be in a position to be
told by any one in your class or my class what I'm to do."

"One moment." Le Baron rose as Stover moved towards the bedroom.
"There's another side to it."

"What other side?"

"Whatever you decide, and I won't take your answer until the morning,"
said Le Baron solemnly, "I want you to give me your word that what's
happened to-night remains a secret."

"I won't give my word to that or anything else," said Dink defiantly. "I
shall do exactly what I think is right to be done, and for that reason
only. Now you'll have to excuse me. Good night."

He went to his bedroom, shut the door, and without undressing tumbled on
the bed, and, still hearing in a confused jumble the murmur of voices,
dropped off to sleep.

He was startled out of heavy dreams by a beating in his ears, and sprang
up to find Bob Story thundering on his door. He looked at his watch. It
was still an hour before chapel.

When he entered his dim study, Story was waiting, and Hungerford
uncoiling from the couch where he had passed the night.

"Have you fellows been here all night?" said Stover, stopping short.

"Dink, we want a last chance to talk this over," said Story solemnly.
"We've all had a chance to sleep it out. Le Baron isn't here, just Joe
and myself--your friends."

"You make it hard for me, boys," said Dink, shaking his head.

Hungerford rose with the stiffness of the night, and coming to Stover,
took him by the shoulders.

"Damn you, Dink," he said, "get this straight, we're not thinking about
the society, we're thinking about you--about your future. And I want you
to know this: whatever you decide, I'm your friend and proud to be it."

"What Joe says is what I feel," said Story, as Stover, much affected,
stood looking at the ground. "We're sticking by you, Dink--that's why
I'm going to try once more. Can't you go on in the society, make no open
break, and still fight for what you believe in--what Joe and I believe
in, too?"

"But, Bob, I think they're wrong through and through--you don't
understand--I'm for wiping them out now."

"That whole question's coming up, and coming up soon," continued Story
earnestly, "and a lot of our own crowd will line up for you. Work inside
the crowd, if you can see it that way, Dink. There are only five of us
know what's happened, and no one else need know."

"Wait a moment, Bob, old fellow," said Dink, stopping him. "You two have
got down under my skin, and I won't forget it. Now I'm going to ask you
fellows a couple of questions. First: you think if I stick to my
determination that most of the crowd'll turn on me?"

"Yes."

"That I have as much chance of being tapped for Bones as Jackson, the
sweep?"

"Yes, Dink."

"Now, boys, honest, if I took back my pin for any such reason as that,
wouldn't I be a spineless, calculating little quitter?"

Neither answered.

"What would you think of me, Joe--Bob?"

"Damn the luck," said Hungerford. He did not attempt to answer the
question. Neither did Bob Story. They shook hands with Stover, and went
out defeated.

Just how big a change in his college career his renunciation would
make, Stover had not understood until in the weeks that succeeded he
came to feel the full effects of the resentment he had aroused in the
society crowds, now at bay before a determined opposition.

The second morning, as he went down High Street to his eating-joint,
Hungerford was loafing ahead of him, ostensibly conning a lesson. Stover
joined him, unaware of the friendly intent of the action. They went
inside, laughing together, to where a score of men were rubbing their
eyes over hasty breakfasts. Four-fifths of them belonged to sophomore
societies.

"Morning, everybody," said the new arrivals, in unison, and the answer
came back:

"Hello, Joe."

"Hello, Dink."

"Shove in here."

At their arrival a little constrained silence was felt, for the news had
somehow passed into rumor. Opposite Stover, Jim Hunter was sitting. He
nodded to Hungerford, and then with deliberation continued a
conversation with Tommy Bain, who sat next to him.

Stover perceived the cut instantly, as others had perceived it. He sat a
moment quietly, his glance concentrated on Hunter.

"Oatmeal or hominy?" said the waiter at his back.

"One moment." He raised his hand, and the gesture concentrated the
attention of the table on him. "Why, how do _you_ do, Jim Hunter?" he
said, with every word cut sharp.

There was a breathless moment, and a nervous stirring under foot, as
Hunter turned and looked at Stover. Their glances matched one another a
long moment, and then Hunter, with an excess of politeness, said:

"Oh, hello--Stover."

Instantly there was a relieved hum of voices, and a clatter of cutlery.

"I'll take oatmeal now," said Stover calmly. Story, glancing over, saw
two spots of scarlet standing out on his cheeks, and realized how near
the moment had come to a violent scene.

"Dink, old gazabo," said Hungerford, as they walked over to chapel,
"what are you going to do? You can't go about the whole time with a chip
on your shoulder."

"Oh, yes, I can," said Dink between his teeth. "I'll stick right where I
am. And I'd like to see Jim Hunter or any one else try that again on
me!"

Hungerford shook his head.

"You know, Dink, you must see both sides. Now from Hunter's side, you've
smashed all traditions, and given us a blow that may be a knockout,
considering the state of feeling in the college. Hunter's a society man,
believes in them heart and soul."

"Then let him come to me and say what he thinks."

"Are you quite sure, Dink," said Joe, with a glance, "that there isn't
some other reason for the way you two feel about each other?"

"You mean jealousy?" said Dink, flushing a little. "Bob's sister? Yes,
there's that. But from the first we've been on opposite sides." He
hesitated a moment, and then asked: "I say, Joe, what does Bob think
about what I've done? Tell me straight."

"Of course he respects you," said Hungerford carefully, "more now than I
think he did last year, but--Bob's a society man--all these Andover
fellows are brought up in the idea, you know--and I think it's kind of a
jolt."

"I suppose it is," said Stover, with a little depression.

He would like to have asked Hungerford to state his case to Jean Story,
but he lacked the courage of his boyish impulse. The thought of Jean
Story, as he sat in chapel, came to him like a temptation. The Judge was
of the Skull and Bones alumni, Bob was sure to go; all the influences
about her were of belief in the finality of that judgment.

"Yes, and Hunter will go in with sailing colors; he'll never risk
anything," he said bitterly, "and I'll stand up and take my medicine,
for doing what? For showing I had a backbone. But no one will ever know
it outside. They'll think it's something wrong in my character--they
always do. Stover, Yale's star end, misses out for Bones! That's the
slogan. Cheating at cards or bumming. I wonder what she'll think? Lord,
that's the hard part!"

For a week, proud as Lucifer, on edge for an opportunity, he stuck it
out at the eating-joint, knowing the hopelessness of it all--that what
he wanted had gone, and no amount of bravado could make him wink the
fact, that in the midst of his own crowd, where he had stood as a
leader, he was now regarded as an outsider.

In the second week he gave up the useless fight, and went to Commons, to
the table where Regan, Gimbel, and Brockhurst ate. They forebore to ask
him the reasons of the change, and he gave no explanation. That
something had happened which had caused him to break away from his
society was soon a matter of common rumor, and several incorrect
versions circulated, all vastly to his credit. His influence in the body
of the class was correspondingly increased, and Gimbel once or twice
approached him with offers to run him for manager of the crew or the
Junior Prom.

One day, about a month after his withdrawal, when, bundled up in his
dressing-gown, he went shuffling into the basement for a cold tub, he
had quite a shock, that brought home visually to him the realization of
the price he had paid.

It had been the practise from long custom to inscribe on the walls
tentative lists of the probable selections from the class for the three
senior societies. On this particular list his name had stood at the head
from the beginning, and the constant familiar sight of it had always
brought him a warm, secure pleasure.

All at once, as he looked at it, he perceived a leaden blur where his
name had stood, and the names of Bain and Hunter heading the list.

"I suppose they've got me down among the last now," he said, with a long
breath. He searched the list, his name was not even on it. This popular
estimation of what he himself believed had nevertheless power to wound
him deeply.

"Well, it's so--I knew it," he said; but it was said in bitterness, with
a newer and keener realization.

He began indeed to feel like an outsider, and, rebelling against the
injustice of it all, to set his heart in bitterness. Hungerford and Bob
Story, Dopey McNab often, tried to keep up with him, but, understanding
their motives, he was proudly sensitive, and sought rather to avoid
them.

Meanwhile the opposition to the sophomore societies reached the point of
open revolt, and a mass meeting was held, which, as had been planned,
caused a stir throughout the press of the country, and brought in from
the alumni a storm of protest.

Stover, himself, despite his inclination to come forward in direct
opposition, after a long debate, remained silent, feeling bound by the
oath he had given at his initiation.

Shortly after the news spread like wildfire that the President, taking
cognizance of the intolerable state of affairs, had summoned
representatives of the three sophomore societies before him, and given
them a month to deliberate and decide on some scheme of reform that
would be comprehensive and adequate.

Rightly or wrongly, Stover felt that these developments intensified the
feeling of the society element against him. A few weeks outside the
boundaries, despite all his bravado, had brought home to him how much he
cared for the companionship of those from whom he had separated.

Regan was his one friend; Brockhurst stimulated him; and in the
intercourse with Swazey, Pike, Lake, Ricketts, and others he had found a
certain inspiration. But after all, the men of his own kind--Story,
Hungerford, and others, whom from pride he now avoided--were largely the
men of the society crowd. They spoke a language he understood, they came
from a home that was like his home, and their judgment of him would go
with him out into the new relations in life.

[Illustration: "REGAN WAS HIS ONE FRIEND"--_Page 288._]

It was a time of depression and bitter revolt at what he knew was the
injustice of his ostracism, forgetting how much was of his own proud
choosing.

He wandered from crowd to crowd, rather taciturn and restless, seeking
diversion with a consuming nervousness. The new restlessness of spirit
drove him away from the conferences in Regan's and Swazey's rooms to the
company of idlers. For a period, in his pride and bitterness, he let go
of himself, flung the reins to the wind, and started down hill with a
gallop.

In pursuance of his policy of open defiance, he chose to appear at
Mory's with the wildest element of the class. His companions were a
little in awe of his grim, concentrated figure; when he sat into a game
of poker or joined a table of revelers, he did it with no zest. He never
joined in the chorus, and if he occasionally broke out into a boisterous
laugh, there was always a jarring note to it, that caused his companions
to glance at him uneasily. With the impetuousness of his nature, he
outstripped his associates, plunging deeper and deeper, obstinately
resolved, into the black gulf of his cynicism. In a week his excesses
became college gossip, and, unknown to Stover, the subject of many long
conferences among his friends.

One Friday night, as, straying aimlessly from room to room, he set out
for Mory's in quest of Tom Kelly and a group of Sheff pagans, he was
trudging along the hard ways in front of Welch Hall, fists sunk in his
pockets, head down under a slouch hat, when he chanced on Tom Regan
coming out of the Brick Row.

"Hello there, bantam," said Regan, with the prerogative of his size.

"Hello, Tom," he said, but without enthusiasm, for he had rather avoided
him in company with the rest of his old friends.

"That's a deuced cordial greeting! Where are you bound, stranger?"

"Mory's."

"Mory's," said Regan, appearing to consider. "Good idea. I've got a
hankering after a toby of musty ale and a rabbit myself. Wait till I
stow these books and I'll join you."

Stover stood frowning, suspicious and rebelling, for at that age it is a
point of honor, when a man of the world resolves to run his head against
a stone wall, that any interference from a friend is regarded as an
unwarranted insult.

"He thinks he'll try the big brother act on me," he said, scowling. He
was not in a particularly good humor, nor was his head clear from
several nights that had gone their reeling way.

When they entered Mory's, Tom Kelly, Dopey McNab, and Buck Waters were
already grouped in the inner room.

"Well, old flinthead, how do you feel after last night?" said Kelly,
making room for them.

"Fine," said Dink mendaciously, secretly pleased at the tribute to his
sporting talents before Regan.

"More'n I can say," said Dopey, affectionately feeling of his head.
"Curse the man who invented fish-house punch."

[Illustration: "'CURSE THE FELLOW WHO INVENTED FISH-HOUSE PUNCH'"--_Page
290._]

"Get home all right?" continued Kelly.

"Sure."

"I had a little tiff with a cop. If he'd been smaller, I'd have taken
his shield away. He was most impudent. Never mind, I beat him in a foot
race."

"Cocktails," said Stover, resolved that Regan should be well punished.
"Make it two for me, Louis, I'll have to catch up."

"I'll stick to a toby and a rabbit," said Regan, without a change of
expression.

"Cocktail, Dopey?" continued Stover, with a millionaire gesture.

"I never refuse," said Dopey, who planned to go through life on that
virtuous method.

With such a beginning, matters progressed with remarkable facility.
Stover, taciturn and in an ugly mood, constantly hurried the rounds,
matching drink for drink, secretly resolved to prove his supremacy here
as elsewhere. Regan, after two tobies, withdrew from the contest,
sitting silently puffing on his huge pipe, but without attempt at
interference. Bob Story and Hungerford came in, and went away with a
glance at Stover's clouded face and Regan's stolid, unfathomable
expression. When midnight arrived, and Louis came in with apologies to
announce the closing, there was quite a reckoning to be paid.

Stover was the best of the lot, doggedly resolved to show no effects of
what he had taken. He felt a haziness in his vision, and words that were
spoken seemed to be whirled away without record, but his legs stood
firm, and his head was still under control. Buck Waters and a Sheff man
took Tom Kelly home by a circuitous route to avoid either a wrestling
match or a foot race with too zealous members of the New Haven police
force; and Stover had the fierce pride of showing Regan that he could
take charge of the hilarious but wabbly Dopey McNab, who, moved by the
finest feelings of the brotherhood of man, was determined to scatter his
superfluous change among his brother beings.

With great dignity and impressiveness, Stover, supporting one side,
continued to give foggy directions to Regan on the other, until, come to
McNab's quarters, they delivered that joyously exuberant person into his
bed, propped up his head, opened the window, locked the door and left
the key outside, to insure the termination of the night's adventure.

Stover went down the steep, endless stairs with great deliberation and
minute pains.

"Dopey's got weak head--no good--stand nothing," he said seriously to
Regan.

"Well, we've fixed him up for the night," said Regan cheerily. "You've
got a wonderful top, old sport."

"I'm pretty good--Dopey's got the weak head," said Stover, taking his
arm. "I'm good, I can put 'em under the table--all under the table."

"Good for you."

"Tom, you aren't--aren't in critical at-attochood, are you?" said Dink,
with all feeling of resentment gone.

"Lord, no, boy."

"'Cause it does me good--this does me good. I feel bad--pretty bad, Tom,
about some things. You don't know--can't tell--but I feel bad--this does
me good--forget--you understand."

"I understand."

"You're a good friend, Tom. They don't understand--no one else
understands. I'd like to shake hands. Thank you. Good night."

They had come opposite the Brick Row, and Regan, knowing the other's
true condition, would have preferred to see him along to his room. But
he knew of old the danger of making mistakes, so he said:

"Feel all right, old bantam?"

"Fine." Stover took a step or two, and then returned. "I put 'em to bed,
didn't I?"

"You certainly did."

"Never 'fects me."

"You're a wonder."

"I thank you for your company."

"Good night."

Stover, intent only on making his entry, a hundred yards away, felt a
roaring in his ears, and sudden jumble and confusion before him.

"Must get there--self-control--that's it, self-control," he said to
himself, and by a supreme effort he reached his entry, pushed open the
door, and, stumbling in out of Regan's vision, sat heavily down on the
steps.

Some indistinct time after he beheld before him a little spectacled
figure in pink pajamas.

"Who are you?" he said.

"Wookey, sir."

"What's your class?"

"Freshman, sir."

"Very well. All right. You can help me--help me up. You know me?"

"Yes, sir."

The pink pajamas approached, and with an effort he rose, and, grasping
the proffered shoulder, tumbled up the steps. When he reached his room
his mind seemed to clear a moment, like the sudden drifting to and fro
of a fog.

"Who are you?" he said, frowning.

"Wookey, sir."

"Where do you room?"

"On the first landing, sir."

"Why do you wear pink ones?"

The little freshman, hero-worshipper, face to face with his first great
emotion, the conduct of an intoxicated man, blurted out:

"Don't you like 'em, sir?"

"Keep 'em on," said Stover magnanimously. "So you're a freshman."

"Yes, sir."

Suddenly he felt impressed with his duty, his obvious duty to one below
him.

"Freshman," he said thickly, "I want you listen to me. Never drink to
excess--understand. You beginning college--school of character--hold on
yourself--lead a good life--self-control's the great thing--take it from
me--understand?"

"Yes, sir," said Wookey, awed and a little frightened at the service he
was rendering to the great Dink Stover.

"That's all," said Stover benignly. "Is--is my bedroom still there?"

"Yes, sir."

"You may lead me to it."

When he had been brought to his bed he recalled the pink pajamas, and
said:

"I thank you for your courtesy and your kindness." Then he said to
himself: "It does me good--forget--happy now."

A moment later the fog closed over his consciousness again and he was
asleep.



CHAPTER XXI


Night after night, Wookey, the little freshman from a mountain village
of Maine, the shadow of a grind, whom no one knew in his class, and who
would never know any one, waited over his books the hour of twelve and
the arrival of the great man gone wrong, whose secret only he possessed.
Sometimes at the clatter on the stairs, when he went out eagerly, the
hero would be in control, and would say:

"Hello, Wookey, how are you to-night?"

"All right, sir," he would answer, shifting from foot to foot, afraid to
volunteer assistance.

"All right myself," Stover would answer. "See you to-morrow. Good
night."

Gradually, however, to his delight, Stover grew to like the strange
meetings, and permitted him to accompany him to his room to open the
window, draw off the boots and disappear with the promise to thunder on
his door in time for chapel. In the daytime they never met.

Stover never failed to thank him with the utmost ceremony. Often the
dialogue that ensued was farcically humorous, only little Wookey, solemn
as an owl, never laughed.

One night Stover, draped in difficult equilibrium on the mantelpiece,
suddenly, in his new parental solicitude for the freshman, bethought
himself of the curriculum.

"Wookey."

"Yes, sir."

"One thing must speak about--meant speak about long time ago."

"What, sir?" said Wookey, looking up apprehensively over his spectacles.

"Study," said Stover, with terrific solemnity. "Want you be good
scholar."

"Oh, yes, sir."

"Want you be validict--you understand what mean?"

"Yes, sir."

"Wookey, college life serious, finest thing in it's study, don't neglect
study, you understand."

"Yes, sir; I do study pretty hard."

"Not enough," said Stover furiously. "Study all time! What 'cher do
to-day? Recite in--in Greek, Latin, eh?"

"Yes, sir--all right."

"Good, very good--proud of you, Wookey," said Stover, satisfied. "Must
be good influence--understand that, Wookey. Going to ask every night."

"Yes, sir."

"All right. Go an' study now. Study lot more."

This feeling of the influence he was exerting for Wookey's academic
betterment was so strong in Dink when the hour of midnight had passed
that shortly after he brought McNab home with him to witness his works.

When Wookey appeared, something displeased Stover. His protégé was not
as he should be presented. Suddenly he remembered--Wookey was not in the
pink pajamas!

"Wookey," he said sternly.

"Yes, sir."

"The pink ones," he said solemnly.

"Very well, sir."

"Hurry."

"Yes, sir."

"Study's better in pink," said Stover wisely to McNab, who was trying to
exceed him in dignity. "Most becomin'."

"Aha!"

"Make him study, Dopey," continued Stover. "I make him study."

"Want hear'm reshite," said McNab, unconvinced.

When Wookey, in changed costume, came puffing upstairs, books under his
arm, McNab, who had been exhorted by Stover, viewed the pink pajamas
with deliberation, and said:

"Like you in pink, Wookey; always wear 'em. Want to hear you reshite."

"Reshite," said Stover.

"Hold up," said Dopey, scratching his head.

"What's matter?"

"Where going to sleep?"

"Wookey, suggestions?" said Stover, who added in a thundering whisper to
McNab, "Always leave such things to Wookey."

The freshman busily took down the cushions from the window seat, piled
up the pillows at one end before the fire, and brought up a rug.

"Thank Mr. Wookey," said Stover severely.

"Mr. Wookey, I thank you," said McNab, who sat down tailor fashion, and,
staring at a book of geometry open on his lap, said: "I'm
most--interested--most, very fond of Horace--reshite."

Wookey in the pink pajamas, seated in a sort of spinal bend, overwhelmed
by the terrifying delight of being admitted to the company of Olympians,
began directly to translate an ode of Horace.

McNab, staring at the geometry, turned a casual page, remarking from
time to time severely:

"What's that!--oh, yes, h'm--quite right--free, rather free, Dink--not
bad, not bad for freshman."

"Is it all right?" said Stover anxiously.

"All right."

"All my influence," said Stover.

"Wookey," said McNab, as a judge would say it, "very fortunate, sir,
have such good infloonce. Con-grath-ulate you."

Wookey, whether deceived by their drunken assumption of sobriety, or to
conciliate dangerous men, remained in his corner, his book closed,
blinking out from his wide glasses.

McNab, remembering the beginning of a discussion in which he had engaged
with serious purpose, suddenly began, shaking his head:

"Dink, you ought be better infloonce than y'are."

Stover chose to be offended.

"Why you say that?"

"'Cause 'm right; y'oughtn't drink, not a drop!"

"What right you got to say that?"

"Every right--every," said McNab, trying to remember what was the
original destination of his argument. "I'm bad example 'n you're good
infloonce, there's diff, see?"

"Ratsh!"

"I remember," said McNab all at once. "I know what I want say. I'm going
to leave it to Wookey. Wookey'll be the judge--referee--y'willin'?"

"Willin'."

"'M going to give moral lecture," said McNab rapidly, then paused and
considered a long while. "I'm fond of Stover, Wookey, very fond--very
worried, too, want him to stop drinking--bad for him--bad for any one,
but bad for him!"

Stover, who could still perceive the argument, laughed a disagreeable
laugh.

"He's laughin' at me, Wookey," said McNab in a grieved voice. "He means
by that insultin' laugh that I sometimes drink excess. I admit it; I'm
not proud of it, but I admit it. But there's a difference, and here's
where you ref'ree, judge. When I take 'n occasional glass, I drink to be
happy, make others happy--y'understand, excesh of love for humanity,
enjoy youth an' all that sort of thing, you know. That's the
point--you're ref'ree. When Stover drinks he goes at in bad way, no love
humanity, joy of youth. That's the point, y'understand. I want him to
stop it, 'cause he's my friend, he's good infloonce--I'm bad example."

"You're my friend?" said Stover, overcome.

"You're besh friend."

"Shake hands."

"Shure."

"Dopey, I tell you truth--confide in you," said Stover, slipping down
beside him. "Swear."

"Swear."

"Never tell."

"Never!"

"I'm unhappy."

"No!"

"Drink to forget, y'understand."

"Must stop it," said McNab, firmly closing one eye, and gazing fearfully
at the yellow owls in front.

"Going to shtop it," said Stover, "soon--stop soon--promise."

"Promish?"

"Promise! Y'understand, want to forget."

"Must stop it," repeated McNab, turning from the yellow-eyed owls to
Stover.

"Promish," repeated Stover solemnly. A moment later he said sleepily: "I
shay."

"Shay it."

"What--what I going to stop?"

"What you, what--" McNab frowned terrifically at the owls. "Stop--must
stop--promish--what--what stop?"

The question being transferred to Stover, he in turn scratched his head
and sought to concentrate his memory.

"I promished," he said slowly, "remember that--stop--promish stop.
Wookey!"

"Yes, sir."

The pink pajamas approached with reluctance, and waited at a safe
distance.

"Wookey! What--what's this all about? What's it?"

Wookey, facing the crisis of his life, hesitated between two impulses;
but at this moment the two took solemn hold of each other's hands,
vacillated and rolled over on the cushions. Wookey, in the pink pajamas,
covered them over with the rug, and stole out, like a thief, carrying
away a secret.


But despite McNab's more sober remonstrances and his own proclamation,
Stover did not cease his headlong gallop down the hill of Rake's
Progress. He still avoided his old friends--he had not been to the
Storys' home for weeks. Regan occasionally forced himself upon him, but
never offered a suggestion. The truth was, Stover began to have a horror
of his own society, of being left alone. What he did, he did without
restraint. At the card tables to which he wandered he was always
clamoring for the raising of the limit; always ready to eat up the
night. Even the most inveterate of the gamblers in his class perceived
what McNab perceived, that there was no pleasure in what he did, but a
sort of self-immolation. They were a little in awe of him, uneasy when
he was around. He wandered over into Sheff, and among a group of hard
livers in the Law School, getting deeper and deeper into the maelstrom.
Several times, returning unsteadily late at night, he had met Le Baron,
who stood aside, and watched him go with difficulty towards the haven of
his own entry, for Stover always made it a point of pride to reach home
and Wookey unaided. He never was offensive or quarrelsome. On the
contrary, his struggle was always for self-control and an excess of
politeness.

The climax arrived one Friday night when, having outlasted the party, he
had put Tom Kelly to bed, and was returning from Sheff alone. He was
very well pleased with himself. He had delivered Tom Kelly to his
friends and gone away without assistance.

"Weak head, all weak head," he said to himself valiantly, "all but
Stover, Dink Stover, old Rinky Dink. Self-control, great self-control.
That's it, that's the point. Never taken home--walk
myself--self-control." He began to laugh at the memory of Tom Kelly, who
had insisted on going to bed with one boot under the pillow and his
watch on the floor. The excruciating humor of it almost made him
collapse. He clung to the nearest tree and wept for joy.

"Never hear end of it--Tom Kelly--boots--wonderful--poor old Tom--'n I
walkin' home--alone."

Some one on the opposite sidewalk, seeing him clinging hilariously,
stopped. Stover straightened up instantly, adjusted his hat and started
off.

"Mustn't create false impression--all right! Street corner--careful of
street corner." He crossed with a run and a leap, and continued more
sedately. "Know just what 'm doin'.


     "_Oh, father's mother_
     _Pays all the bills,_
     _'N I have all the fun._"


Suddenly he remembered he was passing Divinity Hall, and broke off
abruptly, raising his hat in apology.

"'Scuse me, no offense."

Then he considered anxiously:

"Mishtake--nothin' hilar-ious--might be Sunday." He tried to remember
the day and could not. He stopped a laborer returning home with his
bundle, and said ceremoniously:

"Beg your pardon, don't mean insult you, can you tell me what day the
week it is?"

"Sure, me b'y," said the Irishman. "It's to-morrow."

"Thanks--sorry trouble you," said Stover, bowing. Then, pondering over
the information, he started hurriedly on his way. "Knew it was
late--must hurry."

When he came to the corner of the campus he raised his hat again to the
chapel.

"Battell--believe in compulsory chapel--Yale democracy." He passed along
College Street, saluting the various buildings by name. "Great
inshtoostion--campus--Brocky's right--bring life back into campus, bring
it all back. Things wrong now--everything's wrong--must say so--must
stop an' fight, good fight. Regan's right 'n Swazey's right--all right.
Hello, Donnelly. Salute!"

The campus policeman, lolling in the shadow of Osborne Hall, said:

"So there you are again, Dink. A fine life you're leadin'."

Stover felt this was an unwarranted criticism.

"Never saw any one take me home," he said. "Always manage get home.
That's the point, that's it--see?"

"Go on with you," said Donnelly. "You ought to be ashamed of
yourself--you who ought to be captain of the team."

Stover approached him.

"Bill--captain?"

"What?"

"I'm goin' to stop. Solemn promish."

He went into the campus and steadied himself against an elm, gazing down
the long dim way to where in the shadow of the chapel was his entry.

"I see it--see it plainly--perfect self-control. What's that?" The trees
seemed swollen to monstrous shapes, and the façades of the dormitories
to be set on a slant, like the leaning tower of Pisa. He laughed
cunningly: "Don't fool me--might fool Dopey--Tom Kelly--weak head--don't
fool me--illushion, pure illushion--know all 'bout it. Worse comes
worse, get down hands knees."

"Well, Dink, pickled again," said the voice of Le Baron from an outer
world.

He straightened up, his mind coming back to his control, as it always
did in the presence of others.

"All right," he said, leaning up against the cold, hard side of Phelp's,
"bit of a party, that's all."

"Look here, Dink," said Le Baron, who was ignorant of the extent of the
other's condition, "let's have a few plain words--man to man."

Stover heard him as from a distance, and nodded his head gravely.

"Good."

"We've had our break, but I've always respected you. You thought I was a
snob then, and a damned aristocrat. Well, was I so far wrong? I believe
in the best getting together and keeping together. You've chucked that
and tried the other, haven't you? Now look where it's brought you."

Stover, his back to the wall, heard him with the clarity that sometimes
comes. His head seemed to be among whirling mists, but every word came
to him as though it alone were the only sound in a sleeping world. He
wanted to answer, he rebelled at the logic, he knew it could be
answered, but the words would not come.

"You're going to the devil, that's it in good English words," said Le
Baron, not without kindness. "You ought to be the biggest thing in your
class, and you're headed for the biggest failure. And it's all because
you've cut loose from your crowd, Dink--from your own kind, because
you've taken up with a bunch who don't count, who aren't working for
anything here."

Suddenly Stover revolted, saying angrily:

"Hugh!"

"I don't want to hit you when you're down," said Le Baron quickly. "But,
Dink, man alive, you're too good to go to the devil. Brace up--be a man.
Get back to your own kind again."

"Hugh, that's enough!"

He said it sharply, and there was a finality about it.

"I say, Dink."

"Good night!"

He stood without moving until he had compelled Le Baron to leave, then
he set out for his room. A great anger swept over him--at himself, at
the Dink Stover who had betrayed the cause, and given Le Baron the right
to say what he did.

"It isn't that," he said furiously, "it's not for breaking
'way--democracy--standing on m' own feet, no! It's a lie, all a lie.
It's m' own fault--damn you, Dink Stover, you're quitter!"

He marched into his entry, his head on fire, but clear with one last
resolve, and thundered on Wookey's door.

"Come out!"

The pink pajamas flashed out as by magic. The little freshman,
perceiving Stover's fierce expression, drew back in alarm.

"Go'n to help _you_ up to-night--able to do it," said Dink, the idea of
assistance to another mingling in some curious way with his great
resolve.

He took Wookey firmly by the arm and assisted him up the stairs. Once in
his room he motioned him to a chair.

"Sit down--somethin' to say to you!"

Wookey, frightened, calculating the chances to the door, huddled in the
big arm-chair, his toes drawn up under him, his large eyes over the
spectacles never daring to deviate from the imperious glance of Stover.

"Studied to-day?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Wookey, listen to me. I'm a quitter, you understand. I've fought
fight--good fight--big fight--real democracy--'n then I lost nerve. I'm
wrong; I'm all wrong. I know it. Fault's with me, not what fought for.
Wookey, listen to me. Le Baron's wrong, all wrong, you understand;
doesn't know--realize--see."

"Yes, sir," said Wookey, in terror and complete incomprehension.

"I'm fool--big fool, but that's over, y'understand. Never give Le Baron
chance say again what he did to-night. 'M going fight again--good fight.
An' no one's ever going say saw me like this again, y'understand."

"Yes, sir," said the freshman weakly, terrified at the passion that
showed in Stover, rocking before the mantelpiece.

"Last time they ever get me this way!"

The green shaded lamp was burning on the table before him.

"The last time--by God," he said, and lifting his fist he drove it
through the shattering glass, reeled, and stretched insensible on the
floor.


On the following night, a Saturday, Kelly, Buck Waters, and McNab at
Mory's set up a shout of welcome as Stover came in quietly:

"Good old Dink!"

"Hard old head."

"What is it, old boy?--get in the game."

"A toby of musty, Louis," he said, quietly sitting down.

McNab glanced at him, aware of something new in the sharp, businesslike
movements, and the old determined lines of the lips.

"My round," said Buck Waters presently.

"Another toby for me," said Stover.

A little later Kelly rang on the table:

"Bring 'em in all over again."

"Not for me," said Stover. "I guess two'll be my limit from now on."

There was no protest. McNab surreptitiously, while the others were in an
argument, leaned over and patted him on the knee.



CHAPTER XXII


What Stover in his fuddled consciousness had said to little Wookey on
that last wild night returned to him with doubled force in the white of
the day. He had given his opponents the right to destroy all he had
stood for by pointing to his own example. He had been a deserter from
the cause, but the sound of the enemy's bugle had recalled him to the
battle.

He took the first occasion to stop Le Baron, for he wanted the latter to
make no mistake about him.

"Hugh, I was rude as the devil to you the other night," he said
directly. "I was drunk--more than you had any idea. What I want you to
know is this. You put the question right up to me. You've forced me to
take my stand, and I've done it. You're all wrong on the argument, but I
don't blame you. Only after this you'll never have the chance to fling
that at me again. You and I'll never agree on things here, we're bound
to be enemies, but I want to thank you for opening my eyes, putting it
squarely up to me."

He left without waiting for an answer, having said what he wished to.
For several days he kept by himself, taking long walks, disciplining the
ship that had sailed so long in mutiny. Then he turned up in Regan's
room, and holding out his hand, said:

"Well, Tom, it's over. How in blazes did you keep from telling me what
you thought about me all this time?"

Regan, unruffled and undemonstrative, said through the cloud of his
pipe:

"Well, I've seen men go through it before. You never were very bad."

"What?" said Stover, who felt rather annoyed at this tame estimate.

"It's not a bad thing when you've licked the devil four ways to
election," said Regan. "You know what you can do, and that's something."

"Ever been through it?" said Stover, still a little piqued.

"Ye-es."

"Really, Tom?" said Dink amazed.

"Ran about six months," said Regan, crossing his legs and dreaming. "I
wasn't nice and polite like you--used to clean up the place--rather ugly
time, but I pulled out."

"You've never told me about yourself," said Stover tentatively.

Regan rose, reaching for the tobacco. "No, I never have," he said. "My
story is one of those stories that isn't told. Come on over to Brocky's;
he's got a debating scheme you'll be interested in."

"You damned unemotional cuss," said Stover, looking at him a little
defiantly.

"Are you coming with me this summer to see a little real life--get a
little real education?" said Regan irrelevantly.

"If you'll take me."

"Good boy."

He rested his hand on Stover's shoulder a moment, and gave him a little
tap, and the touch brought a genuine thrill of happiness to Dink.

"Lord, what a leader he'd make," he thought. "Why is it, and what's the
story the old rhinoceros can't tell, I wonder?"

The old crowd was at Brocky's, the crowd which had first stirred his
imagination. His return produced quite a sensation. Nothing was said,
but the grip in the handshakes was different, and the diffident,
hesitant little expressions of relieved good-will that came to him
touched him more than he would have believed.

Brockhurst began to expound his scheme, speaking nervously, in
compressed sentences, as he always did in the beginning of an argument.

"Here's what I'm trying to say. We've all been sitting round and
criticizing--I mean I have--things up here. Now why not really suggest
something--worth while?" He frowned, and becoming angry at his own
difficulty in expressing himself, gradually became more fluent. "We all
feel the need of getting together and having real discussions, and we
all agree that debating here has died out, become merely perfunctory.
The debates take place in a class-room, and everything is cold, stiff,
mechanical. Now that all is unnecessary. What we want is something
spontaneous, informal and with the incentive of a contest. This is my
scheme. To take a certain number--say twenty--of the men in the class
who really have ideas, and believe in expressing them; form a club to
meet one night a week in some room over a restaurant where we can sit
about tables, smoke, have beer and lemonade, a bit to eat if you want,
everything natural, informal. Divide the club up equally into two camps,
each camp to have a leader for each debate, who opens the discussion and
sums it up--the only formal, perfunctory speeches. Every one else speaks
as he feels like it, right from his table. Have in an outside judge,
and keep a record. At the end of the year the side that loses sets the
other up to a banquet."

Stover was interested at once. He saw an instrument at hand for which he
had been looking--something to bring the class together.

"Look here, it's bigger than that, Brocky," he said earnestly. "I'm not
criticizing--I like the idea, the whole thing, you know. But here's what
we can do. Make the club, say, forty, and get into it all the
representative elements of the class--make it a real meeting place. Get
the fellows who are going to be managers and captains. They've all got
to speak--the fellows on papers, the real debaters--and you'll have
something that'll bring the class together."

"What would you debate?" said Swazey, while the others considered
Stover's suggestion.

"College subjects every one has an opinion about at first," said Regan.
"And then get into red-hot politics."

"Of course Stover's idea is a social one--democratic if you will," said
Brockhurst perplexed. "My idea was for a more intimate crowd, all alike,
trying to discuss real things."

"Brocky, I don't believe you can do it," said Stover. "My experience is
that the big discussions, the ones worth while, always are informal,
just as they've been in this crowd, and the crowd mustn't be too large."
Several nodded assent. "The other thing is something we need in the
class. We've been torn to pieces, all at loggerheads, and I believe,
outside of the debating, this is the first step to getting together.
Moreover, I think you'll find all crowds will jump at the chance. Let me
talk it around."

"I think Dink's got the practical idea, Brocky," said Regan. "And,
moreover, he's the man to work it."

As they went out together they were met with the sensation of the
campus--the sophomore societies had been abolished!

Stover stopped McNab, who was hurrying past.

"I say, Dopey, is it true?"

"Sure thing."

"How'd it happen?"

"Don't know."

Gimbel came up with the full news.

"The President gave them a certain time, you remember, to submit a plan
of reform. They reported they couldn't agree, so he called the committee
together and said:

"'Well, gentlemen, I gave you the opportunity to conform to public
sentiment, you haven't been able to do it, you are now abolished.'"

"Who'd have thought it!"

"You don't say so!"

"Abolished!"

"I know you're glad, Dink, old man," said Gimbel, shaking his hand with
a confidential look. "We all know how you stood."

"It's for the best," said Stover slowly; then he added: "But Gimbel, the
fight's over; the big thing now is for the class to get together--be
careful how you fellows take it."

Strangely enough, in the hour of defeat the instinct of caste came back
to him--he was again the sophomore society man. He walked over to his
rooms with a curious feeling of resentment at the rejoicing on the
campus, where the news was being shouted from window to window. Bob
Story, leaving the fence, came over and took him by the arm.

"Dink, old fellow, I've been waiting to see you."

"I've just heard the news," said Stover, when they reached his room.

"That's not what I came about," said Story, "though it fits in all the
better. Dink, you won't mind our clearing up a little past history?"

"I wish you would, Bob," said Stover earnestly. "I know you never saw
things my way."

"No, I didn't. I don't say you were wrong. It was a question of
different temperaments. You did a braver thing than I would have done--"

"Oh, I say--"

"Yes, I mean it. Of course I think it was all a rotten mistake, and that
if you'd talked the matter out as you've done with me, Le Baron and
Reynolds would have seen your side."

"Perhaps so."

"I felt that Reynolds had acted like an ass, and you very naturally had
lost your temper--the result being to put the society in the position as
a society of dictating a man's friendships. I don't believe that was
justified."

"Indirectly, Bob, it worked out that way."

"There I believe you're right, Dink," said Story openly. "I've come to
see it, and I admit it now. I'm glad the system has gone. I'm for the
best here. Now, Dink,"--he hesitated a moment--"I know you've been
through a rotten time; you've felt every one was against you unjustly. I
know all that, and I know you've got hold of yourself again."

"That's true."

"What I want to talk over with you now is this. Don't let what has
passed keep you away from any one in the class."

"But, Bob," said Dink, amazed, "how can I help it? The soph crowd must
be down on me--particularly now."

"Rats, they all know pretty well the circumstances, and they all respect
your nerve, that's honest. We like a good fighter up here. Now, Dink,
more than ever, we need a real leader here to bring us together again.
Don't leave the field to Bain and Hunter--they're all right in their
way, but they can't see things in a big way. Go right out where you've
always gone, twice the man you used to be, and make us all follow you.
Don't make apologies for what you did--go out as though you were proud
of it, and the whole bunch will rise up and follow you."

"I get what you mean," said Stover solemnly. "That's horse sense,
Bob--you've always got that. I wish you'd said it before."

"I wish I had."

Stover looked at him wondering, but not daring to ask if some one else
had prompted him to the act.

"It's strange you came just now, Bob," he said. "You've put words in my
mouth that were already there. I've just been talking over a scheme that
I think's a big idea. It's Brockhurst's."

He detailed the plan and his own suggestion. Story was enthusiastic.
They talked at length, drawing up a list of possible members, with the
enthusiasm of pioneers.

"I say, Dink, there's one thing more," said Bob, as he started to go.
"I've been thinking a lot lately about things here, and what I want for
the next two years--this is about ended. I'd like to propose something
to you."

"Propose it."

"What do you say to you and me, Joe Hungerford, and Tom Regan, all
rooming together another year?"

"Tom?" said Stover, surprised a moment. "The very thing if he'd do it."

"The four of us are all different enough to make just the combination we
need. I'm tired of bunking alone. I want to rub up against some one
else."

"There's nothing I could have thought of better, Bob. You're right, we
four ought to be friends--real friends--and stand together. Here's my
hand on it."

"Bully. I've spoken to Joe, and he's going to see Regan. I say, Dink,
drop in soon."

"Sure thing."

"I mean at the house."

"Oh, yes." A little constraint came to him, and then a flush of boyish
hope. "I'm coming round."

"Because--the family have been wondering."

When Bob had gone, Stover stood a long while gazing at the excited
groups about the fence, retailing the all-important news.

"By George, I'll do it," he said at last. "I'll not leave it to Tommy
Bain or Jim Hunter. It may be a fight, but I'm going out to lead because
I can do it, and because I believe in the right things." Then he thought
over all the incidents of Bob's visit, and he fell into a musing state
with sudden wild jumps of the imagination. "I wonder--did he come of his
own accord--I wonder if she knew!"

With one of his old-time sudden resolves, he went that very night to the
Storys'. The struggle he had come through in victory showed in a new,
abrupt self-confidence. He felt older by a year than at his last visit.

Jean Story was at the piano, Jim Hunter on the wide seat beside her,
turning over the leaves of her music. He saw it from the hall in the
first glance.

The Judge, surprised, came to him, delighted.

"Well, if here isn't Dink in the flesh. How are you? Thought you'd
eloped somewhere. Glad to see you; tarnation if I'm not glad to shake
your hand."

Hungerford, Bain, Bob Story, and Stone were present; a little difference
in their several greetings.

"Well, we're holding a sort of wake here," said the Judge cheerily.
"Bain seems the most afflicted."

"It's a hard moment," said Stover calmly, knowing that any expression of
opinion from him would be resisted in certain quarters. "I felt quite
upset myself to-day when I heard the news, despite the stand I've
taken."

Hunter looked up and then down, but said nothing.

"It's for the best," said Hungerford, not wishing him to stand alone.
"Best for the college as a whole."

"That remains to be seen," said Bain. "I passed Gimbel coming over, and
his crowd. It wasn't very pleasant."

"Well, it's over," said Dink in a matter-of-fact tone. "No post-mortem!
The great thing now is to recognize what exists. The class to-day is
shot to pieces. We want to get together again. One half our time's up,
and, wherever the fault, we've done nothing but scrap and get apart."

"I've been telling them a little about your scheme, yours and
Brockhurst's," said Story.

Stover launched into an enthusiastic argument in its support. Bain and
Hunter followed, instinctive in their opposition, each perceiving all
the superiority that would derive to Stover from its success.

"May I ask," said Hunter finally, in a tone of icy criticism, "What is
the difference between knocking down the sophomore society and putting
up this organization?"

"Very glad to tell you, Jim," said Stover, assuming an attitude of
careful good-will. "The difference is that this is an open organization,
drawing from every element of the class, to meet for the sole purpose of
doing a little thinking and getting to know other crowds. The sophomore
society was an organization drawn from one element of the class,
consciously or unconsciously for the purpose of advancing the social
ambitions of its members at the expense of others. One is natural and
democratic, and the other's founded on selfishness and exclusiveness."

The Judge, fearing the results of a controversy, broke in, switching the
conversation to safer channels.

"By the way, Jim," said Stover, in an interlude, "we're counting on you
and Tommy Bain to go into this thing and make it a success. Is that
right?"

Despite their reluctance at so prompt an espousal, Hunter and Bain were
too far-seeing to set themselves in opposition. But the acceptance was
given without enthusiasm, and, not relishing this sudden renewal of
authority in one whom they naturally held at fault, they soon broke up
the party.

Hungerford and Bob went into the billiard room for a game, and presently
the Judge disappeared upstairs to run over some routine work.

Stover took the seat vacated by Hunter, with perhaps a little malicious
pleasure, saying:

"Aren't you going on playing?"

The young girl hesitated a moment, turning the leaves aimlessly.

"I don't know," she said. "Do you want me to very much?"

"I'd much rather talk."

She closed the music, turning to him with a little reproachful
seriousness.

"You've been away a long while."

"Yes." He admitted the implied accusation with a moment's silence. "A
crazy spell of mine. Bob was over this afternoon and we had a long
talk." He said it point blank, watching her face for some indication he
hoped to find there of her complicity. "Did he tell you?"

"He was speaking of it at the dinner table," she said quietly.

"Did you blame me," he said impulsively, "for what I did about getting
out of my society?"

"No."

"Bob did, at least for a while," he said, looking eagerly into her eyes.

"I did not agree with him there."

She rose.

"If we are going to talk, let's find more comfortable chairs."

He followed her, a little irritated at the sudden closing on this
delightful prospect. They took chairs by the window. Through the vista
of open rooms could be seen the glare of the brilliant lights, and the
figures of the two young fellows moving at their game.

Suddenly, with a return of the old-time feeling of camaraderie between
them, he burst out:

"You know I've got into such a serious point of view! I don't quite know
how it happened. Sometimes it seems to me I'm missing all the fun of
college life." He made a gesture toward the billiard room. "Even
fellows like McNab, good for nothing, jovial little loafers, according
to Yale standards, do seem to be getting something wonderful out of
these years. I don't. It's been all work or fighting."

"That's because they are going different ways in life than you are," she
said quickly. "Tell me more about this new organization. It seems a big
idea. Whom will you take in?" She added suddenly: "Take charge yourself,
do it all yourself. It's just what you should do."

He was too much interested in the expounding of the idea to notice the
solicitude she showed him. After a while the conversation drifted to
other topics. He spoke of the summer.

"Joe wants me to go on a cruise, and Bob wants me to run up to your camp
for a visit, but I've about decided to do neither."

She looked up.

"Why not?"

"I am going with Regan for the summer--slumming it, I suppose some would
call it; Tom calls it getting real education. We're going down to work
among men who work, to know something of what they think and want--and
what they think of us. It appeals to me tremendously. I want to have an
all-around point of view. There are so many opportunities coming now,
and I want to grasp them all--learn all I can. What do you think?"

"It is a splendid idea, just the thing for you now. It will broaden
you," she said, with a determined bob of her head. "Why doesn't Bob ever
bring Regan around? He sounds interesting."

"Don't know--he sticks by himself. You can't move him. Bob's told you
about the four of us rooming together?"

"Yes."

"I wonder--"

"What?" she asked as he stopped.

"Did you suggest to Bob what he said to me this afternoon?" he said
point blank.

She looked at him troubled and undecided, and he suddenly guessed the
reason.

"Oh, won't you trust me enough to tell me," he said boyishly, "if you
did?"

She looked into his eyes a moment longer.

"He was afraid you wouldn't like it," she said simply. "Yes, I told him
to go."

A dozen things rushed to his lips, and he said nothing. Perhaps she
liked his silence better than anything he could have said, for she
added:

"You will do the big things now, won't you? You see, I want to see you
at your biggest."


When he went home that night, he seemed to walk on air. He had taken no
advantage of her friendship, tempted almost beyond his powers as he had
been by the kindness in her voice and her direct appeal. He had to tell
some one, not of the interest he felt she had shown him, but of his own
complete adoration and supreme consecration. So he hauled Hungerford up
to his room, who received the information as to Stover's state of mind
with gratifying surprise, as though it were the most incredible,
mystifying, and incomprehensible bit of news.



CHAPTER XXIII


When Stover returned to college as a junior, he showed the results of
his summer with Regan. He had gone into construction gangs, and learned
to obey and to command. He had had a glimpse of what the struggle for
existence meant in the stirring masses; and he had known the keenness of
a little joy and the reality of sorrow to those for whom everything in
life was real.

He had long ago surrendered the idea of entering Skull and Bones over
the enmity of Reynolds and Le Baron, and this relinquishing somehow
robbed him of all the awe that he had once felt. He had returned a man,
tempered by knowledge of the world, distinguishing between the
incidental in college life and the vital opportunity within his grasp.

The new debating club, launched in the previous spring, had been an
instant success, and its composition, carefully representative, had
become the nucleus of a new comradeship in the class. With the one idea
of proving his fitness to lead in this new harmonizing development,
Stover made his room a true meeting-place of the class, and, loyally
aided by Hungerford and Story, sought to restore all the old-time zest
and good-will to the gatherings about the sophomore fence. His efforts
were met by a latent opposition from Hunter and Bain, on one side, who
never outgrew their wounded resentment, and from Gimbel on the other,
who, though enthusiastically seconding him in the open, felt secretly
that he was being supplanted.

But, as Story had foreseen, Stover had the magnetism and the energy to
carry through what no other leader would have accomplished. Once
resolved on the accomplishment, upheld by a strong sentimental devotion,
Stover went at his task with a blunt directness that disdains all
objections.

Each Saturday night was given over to a rally of the class _en masse_ at
the Tontine. Certain groups held off at first, but soon came into the
fold when Stover, who was no respecter of persons, would find occasion
to say publicly:

"Hello there, what happened to you last night? Get out of that
silk-lined atmosphere of yours! Wake up! You're not too good for us, are
you?"

"Well, why weren't you there? It's no orgy--you can get lemonade or milk
if you want. There are bad men present, but we keep 'em from biting."

"I say, forget your poker game for one night. We all know you're dead
game sports. That's why we want you--to give us an atmosphere of real
life."

The remarks were made half in jest, half in earnest, but they seldom
failed of their object. At the Saturday night rallies it was the same.
Stover was everywhere, saying with his good-humored, impudent smile what
no one else dared to say, sometimes startling them with his boldness:

"Here now, fellows, no grouping around here. We want to see a sport and
a gospel shark sitting arm in arm. Come on, Schley, your social
position's all right--there's only one crowd here to-night. No one here
is going to boost you into a senior society. Percolate, fellows,
percolate. We've scrapped like Sam Hill, now we're tired of it. No more
biting, scratching, or gouging. Don't forget this is a love feast, and
they're going to be lovelier. Now let's try over that song for the
Princeton game. Bob Story perpetrated it--pretty rotten, I think, but
let's hit it up all the same."

The rallies jumped into popularity. The class gasped, then laughed at
Stover's abrupt reference to the late unpleasantness, and with the laugh
all constraint went. The class found itself, as a regiment returns to
its pride again. It went to the games in a body, it healed its
differences, and packed the long room at the Tontine each Saturday
night, shouting out the chorus which Buck Waters, McNab, Stone, and the
talent led.

Many, undoubtedly, marvelling at the ease with which Stover had inspired
the gathering, admired him for what they believed was a clever bid for
society honors. But the truth was that he succeeded because he had no
underlying motive, because he had achieved in himself absolute
independence and fearlessness of any outer criticism, and his strength
with the crowd was just the consciousness of his own liberty.

By the fall of junior year, he was the undisputed leader of the class, a
force that had brought to it a community of interest and friendly
understanding. Unknown to him, his classmates began to regard him,
despite his old defiance, as one whom a senior society could not
overlook. Stover had no such feeling. He believed that the hatred in
what remained of the sophomore society organization was, and would
continue, unrelenting, and this conviction had determined him in a
course of action to which he was impelled by other reasons.

He went through the football season as he had gone through the previous
season, with a record for distinguished brilliancy, acclaimed by all as
the best end in years, the probable captain of the next year. He wanted
the position, as he had desired it on his first arrival at Yale, and yet
he surrendered it. Hunter had developed into a tackle and made the team.
In the class below were two men of the defunct sophomore societies.
Stover had vividly before him the record of Dana, his captain of
freshman year, and the memory of the ordeal after the game, when he had
stood up and acknowledged his lack of leadership.

That this still resentful society element in the eleven would follow him
with distaste and reluctance, despite all traditional loyalty, he knew
too well. Moreover, sure that he was destined to be passed over on Tap
Day, he felt perhaps too keenly the handicap of such a rejection. Then,
at the bottom, reluctantly, he knew in his heart that Regan was the born
leader of men, and what once he had rebelled against he finally
acknowledged.

So when at the end of a victorious season the members of the eleven
gathered for the election of the next year's captain, he stood up
immediately and stated his views. It was a difficult announcement to
make, both on the score of seeming sentimentality, and from the danger
of seeming to refuse what might not be offered him.

But during the tests of the last year the self-consciousness which would
have prevented Brockhurst's expressing himself had completely gone.
Determined on one course of action, to be his own master, to do what he
wanted to do, and to say what he wanted to say, in absolute
fearlessness, he spoke with a frankness that amazed his comrades, still
under the fetish of upper-class supremacy.

"Before we begin," he said, "I've a few words I want to say. I suppose I
am a candidate here. I don't say I shouldn't be crazy to have the
captaincy. I would--any one would. What I say is that I have thought it
over and I withdraw my name. Even if you hadn't in Tom Regan here the
best type of leader you could get, it would be very unfortunate for our
chances next year if I were chosen. I'm quite aware that in a certain
element of the team, due to the open stand I felt forced to take in the
question of the sophomore society, there is a great deal of resentment
against me. I can understand that; it is natural. But there should be no
such division in a Yale team. We've got a tough fight next year, and we
need a captain about whom are no enmities, who'll command every bit of
the loyalty of the team"--he paused a moment--"and every bit of help he
can get from the college. I move that Tom Regan be unanimously elected
captain."

There was quite an outcry at the end of his declaration, especially from
Regan, who was utterly surprised. But Stover held firm, and perceived,
not without a little secret resentment, that the outcome came with
relief not only to the team but to the coaches.

When they returned, and Regan was still protesting, Stover said frankly:

"Look here, Tom, we don't split hairs with one another. If I had thought
it was right for me to stand for it I would have. I wanted it--like
hell. You remember Dana? I do. It's an awful thing to lead a team into
defeat, and say I was responsible. I don't care to do it. Besides, you
are the better man--and I'm of such a low, skulking nature I hate to
admit it. So shut up and buy me a rabbit at Mory's. I'm hungry as a
pirate."

He had said nothing of his determination to any one. He had been tempted
to talk it over with Jean Story, but he had refrained, feeling
instinctively that in her ambition for him, and in her inability to
judge the depth of certain antagonisms towards him, she would oppose
his determination.


The four friends had gone to Lyceum together--Swazey and Pike were in
the same building. There was a certain flavor of the simplicity and
ruggedness of old Yale in the building that gave to the meetings in
their rooms a character of old-time spontaneity.

By the opening of the winter term, Stover, the enthusiast, had begun to
see the weakness of movements that must depend on organization. The
debating club, which had started with a zest, soon showed its
limitations. Once the edge of novelty had worn off, there were too many
diverting interests to throng in and deplete the ranks.

When, following Regan's suggestion, they had attempted a new division on
the lines of the political parties, the result was decidedly
disappointing. There was no natural interest to draw upon, and the
political discussions, instead of fanning the club into a storm of
partizanship, lapsed into the hands of perfunctory debaters.

Regan himself took his disillusionment much to heart. They discussed the
reasons of the failure one stormy afternoon at one of their informal
discussions, to which they had returned with longing.

"What the devil is the matter?" said the big fellow savagely. "Why,
where I come from, the people I see, every mother's son of them, feed on
politics, talk nothing else--they love it! And here if you ask a man if
he's a Republican or a Democrat, he writes home and asks his father. A
condition like this doesn't exist anywhere else on the face of the
globe. And this is America. Why?"

When he had propounded the question, there was a busy, unresponsive
puffing of pipes, and then Pike added:

"That's what hits me, too. Just look at the questions that are coming
up; popular election of senators, income tax, direct primaries; it's
like building over the government again, and no one here cares or knows
what's doing. I say, why?"

"There may be fifty-two reasons for it," said Brockhurst, in his
staccato, biting way. "One is, our colleges are all turning into social
clearing houses, and every one is too absorbed in that engrossing
process to know what happens outside; second is the fact that our
universities are admirably organized instruments for the prevention of
learning!"

"Good old Brocky," said Swazey with a chuckle. "Just what I like; stormy
outside, warm inside, and Brocky at the bat. Serve 'em up."

Brockhurst, who was used to this reception of his pointed
generalizations, paid no heed. He, too, had grown in mental stature and
in control. A certain diffidence was over him, and always would be; but
when a subject came up that interested him, he forgot himself, and
rushed into the argument with a zeal that never failed to arouse his
listeners.

Brockhurst turned on Swazey with the license that was always
permissible.

"Well, what do you know? You've been here going on three years. You are
supposed to be more than half educated. And you're not a fair example
either, because you really are seeking to know something."

"Well, go on," said Swazey, thoroughly aroused.

"What do you know about the Barbizon school, and the logical reasons for
the revolt of the impressionists?"

Instantly there was an outcry:

"Not fair."

"Oh, I say."

"That's no test."

"Finishing your third year, gentlemen," said Brockhurst triumphantly,
"age over twenty; the art of painting is of course known to the
aborigines only in its cruder forms. Well, does any one know at least
who Manet is, or what he's painted?"

There was an accusing silence.

"Of course you've an idea of the Barbizon school--one or two of you. You
remember something about a Man with a Hoe or the Angelus--that's Sunday
supplement education. Now let me try you. Please raise hands, little
boys, when you know the answer to these questions, but don't bluff
teacher. I'm not contending you should have a detailed knowledge of the
world in your eager, studious minds. I am saying that you haven't the
slightest general information. I'll make my questions fair.

"First, music: I won't ask you the tendencies and theories of the modern
schools--you won't know that such a thing as a theory in music exists.
You know the opera of Carmen--good old Toreadore song. Do you know the
name of the composer? One hand--Bob Story. Do you know the history of
its reception? Do you know the sources of it? Do you know what Bach's
influence was in the development of music? Did you ever hear of
Leoncavallo, Verdi, or that there is such a thing as a Russian composer?
Absolute silence. You have a hazy knowledge of Wagner, and you know that
Chopin wrote a funeral march. That is your foothold in music; there you
balance, surrounded by howling waters of ignorance.

"Take up architecture. Do you know who built the Vatican? Do you know
the great buildings of the world--or a single thing about Greek, Roman
and Renaissance architecture? Do you know what the modern French
movement is based upon? Nothing.

"Take up religion. Do you know anything about Confucius, Shintoism, or
Swedenborg, beyond the names? Of course you would not know that under
Louis XVI a determined movement was made to reunite the Catholic and
Protestant branches, which almost succeeded. That's unfair, because of
course it is the forerunner of the great religious movement to-day. Do
you know the history of the external symbols of the Christian religion,
and what is historically new? Darkness denser and denser.

"Take literature. You have excavated a certain amount of Shakespeare,
and grubbed among Elizabethans, and cursed Spenser. Who has read Taine's
History of English Literature, or known in fact who Taine is? Only Bob
Story. And yet there is the greatest book on the whole subject; you
could abolish the English department and substitute it. Beside Story,
who else has had even a fair reading knowledge of any other
literature--Russian, Norwegian, German, French, Italian? Who knows
enough about any one of these writers to look wise and nod; Renan,
Turgeniev, Daudet, Björnson, Hauptman, Suderman, Strindberg? Do you know
anything about Goethe as a critic, or the influence of Poe upon French
literature? What do you know? I'll tell you. You know Les Misérables and
The Three Musketeers in French literature. You know Goethe wrote Faust.
You're beginning to know Ibsen as a name, and one may have read Tolstoi,
and all know that he's a very old man with a long white beard, who lives
among his peasants, has some queer ideas, and has started to die three
or four times. The papers have told you that.

"Take another field, of simple curiosity on what is doing in a world in
which by opportunity you are supposed to be of the leading class. What
do you know about the strength and spread of socialism in Germany,
France and England? In the first place no one of you here probably has
any idea of what socialism is; you've been told it's anarchy, and, as
that only means dynamite to you, you are against socialism, and will
never take the trouble to investigate it. What do you know about the new
political experiments in New Zealand?--nothing. What do you know about
the labor pension system in Germany, or the separation of the church and
state in France?--all subjects dealing with the vital development of the
race of bipeds on this earth of which you happen to be members.

"Now here is a catch question--all candidates for the dunce-cap will
take a guess. The Botticelli story is such a chestnut now that you all
know that it isn't a cheese or a wine--credit that to ridicule. I'm
going to give you a few names from all the professions, and let's see
who can tag them. What was Spinoza, Holman Hunt, Dostoiefski, Ambrose
Thomas, Savonarola (if you've read the novel you'd know that), Bastien
Le Page, Zorn, Bizet, Bossuet! Unfair?--not at all. These things are
just as necessary to know to a man of education and culture as it is to
a man of good manners to realize that peas are not introduced into the
mouth by being balanced on a knife."

"Help!" cried Hungerford, as Brockhurst went rushing on. "Great Scott,
what _do_ we know?"

"You know absolutely nothing," said Brockhurst savagely. "Here you are;
look at yourselves--four years when you ought to learn something, some
informing knowledge of all that has developed during the four thousand
years the human race has fought its way toward the light, four years to
be filled with the marvel and splendor of it all, and you don't know a
thing.

"You don't know the big men in music; you don't know the pioneers and
the leaders in any art; you don't know the great literatures of the
world, and what they represent; you don't know how other races are
working out their social destinies; you've never even stopped to examine
yourselves, to analyze your own society, to see the difference between a
civilization founded on the unit of the individual, and a civilization,
like the Latin, on the indestructible advance of the family. You have no
general knowledge, no intellectual interests, you haven't even opinions,
and at the end of four years of _education_ you will march up and be
handed a degree--Bachelor of Arts! Magnificent! And we Americans have a
sense of humor! Do you wonder why I repeat that our colleges are
splendidly organized institutions for the prevention of learning? No,
sir, we are business colleges, and the business of our machines is to
stamp out so many business men a year, running at full speed and in
competition with the latest devices in Cambridge and Princeton!"

"Brocky, you are terrific," said Swazey in admiration. There was too
much truth in the attack, violent as it was, not to have called forth
serious attention.

"I feel a good deal the way you do," said Bob Story, and Stover nodded,
"only it seems to me, Brocky, a good deal of what you're arguing for
must come from outside--in just such informal talks as this."

"That's true," said Brockhurst. "If the stimulus in the college life
itself were toward education all our meetings would be educational.
It's true abroad, it isn't here. You know my views. You think I'm
extreme. I'm getting an education because I didn't accept any such
flap-doodle as, 'What am I going to do for Yale?' but instead asked,
'What has Yale got to offer me?' I'm getting it, too."

Stover suddenly remembered the conversation they had together the year
before, and looking now at Brockhurst, revealed in a new strength, he
began to understand what had then so repelled him.

"The great fault," continued Brockhurst, "lies, however, with the
colleges. The whole theory is wrong, archaic and ridiculous--the theory
of education by schedule. All education can do is to instil the love of
knowledge. You get that, you catch the fire of it--you educate yourself.
All education does to-day is to develop the memory at the expense of the
imagination. It says: 'Here are so many pounds of Greek, Latin,
mathematics, history, literature. In four years our problem is to pass
them through the heads of these hundreds of young barbarians so that
they will come out with a lip knowledge.'"

"But come, we do learn something," said Hungerford.

"No, you don't, Joe," said Brockhurst. "You've translated the
Iliad--you've never known it. You've recited in Horace--you have no love
for him. You've excavated the plays of Shakespeare, a couple of acts at
a time; you don't know what Hamlet means or Lear, the beauty of it all
has escaped you. You've _recited_ in Logic and Philosophy, but you don't
understand what you're repeating. You're only _repeating_ all the time.
Your memory is trained to hold a little knowledge a little time--that's
all. You don't enjoy it, you're rather apologetic--or others are."

"Well, what other system is there?" said Regan.

"There is the preceptorial system of England," said Brockhurst, "where a
small group of men are in personal contact with the instructor. In
French universities, education is a serious thing because failure to
pass an examination for a profession means two extra years of army
service. Men don't risk over there, or divide up their time heeling the
_News_ or making a team. In Germany a man is given a certain number of
years to get a degree, and I believe has to do a certain amount of
original work.

"But of course the main trouble here is, and there is no blinking the
fact, that the colleges have surrendered unconsciously a great deal of
their power to the growing influence of the social organization. In a
period when we have no society in America, families are sending their
sons to colleges to place themselves socially. Some of them carry it to
an extreme, even directly avow their hope that they will make certain
clubs at Princeton or Harvard, or a senior society here. It probably is
very hard to control, but it's going to turn our colleges more and more,
as I say, into social clearing houses. At present here at Yale we keep
down the question of wealth pretty well; fellows like Joe Hungerford
here come in and live on our basis. That's the best feature about Yale
to-day--how it will be in the future I don't know, for it depends on the
wisdom of the parents."

"Social clearing house is well coined," said Hungerford. "I think it's
truer though of Harvard."

"That's perhaps because you see the mote in your neighbors' eyes," said
Brocky rising. "Well, discussion isn't going to change it. Who's always
talking about school for character--Pike or Brown? We might as well
stand for that--but it would not be very wise to announce it to the
American nation, would it?--we might be dubbed a reformatory. Fathers,
send your sons to college--reform their characters, straighten out the
crooks. At the end give 'em a degree of--of, say--G. B."

"What's that, Brocky?" said Swazey, grinning with the rest.

"Good Boy," said Brockhurst, who departed, as he liked, on the echoes of
the laugh which he had inspired.

"Whew!" said Hungerford, with a comical rubbing of his head. "What
struck me?"

"And I expect to make Phi Beta Kappa," said Swazey, with an apologetic
laugh.

"What a dreadfully disconcerting person," said Bob Story.

"By George, it takes the conceit out of you," said Stover ruthfully.
"Shall we all start in and learn something? What's the answer?"

At this moment a familiar slogan was heard below, increasing in riotous,
pagan violence with the approach of boisterous feet.


     "_Oh, father and mother_
     _Pay all the bills,_
     _And we have all the fun._
     _Hooray!_
     _That's the way we do in college life--_
     _In college life._"


The room burst into a roar of laughter.

"There's one answer," said Regan rising.

The door slammed open, and McNab and Buck Waters reeled in arm in arm.

"I say, fellows, we've cornered the sleigh market," said Dopey
uproariously. "We're all going to beat it to the Cheshire Inn, a bottle
of champagne to the first to arrive. Are you on?"

Half an hour later, Stover at the reins was whirling madly along the
crusty roads, in imminent danger of collision with three other
rollicking parties, who packed the sleighs and cheered on the galloping
horses, singing joyfully the battle hymn of the pagans:


     "_Oh, father and mother_
     _Pay all the bills,_
     _And we have all the fun._
     _Hooray!_
     _That's the way we do_
     _In college life._"



CHAPTER XXIV


Once Stover had reconciled himself to the loss of a senior society
election, he found ample compensation in the absolute liberty of action
that came to him. It was not that he condemned this parent system; he
believed in it as an honest attempt to reward the best in the college
life, a sort of academic legion of honor, formed not on social cleavage,
but given as a reward of merit. In his own case, he believed his own
personal offending in the matter of Le Baron and Reynolds had been so
extreme that nothing could counteract it.

So he gave himself up to the free and untrammelled delights of living
his own life. His fierce stand for absolute democracy made of his rooms
the ante-room of the class, through which all crowds seemed to pass, men
of his own kind, socially calculating, glad to be known as the friends
of Regan, Hungerford and Story, all rated sure men, and Stover, about
whom they began to wonder more and more, as a unique and rebellious
personality, which, contrary to precedent, had come to bear down all
opposition. Gimbel and Hicks, elected managers for the coming year, came
often, willing to conciliate the element they had fought, in the hopes
of a favorable outcome on Tap Day. Men who worked their way dropped in
often on Regan; Ricketts, with his drawling Yankee astuteness, always
laughing up his sleeve; twenty odd, lonely characters, glad to sink into
a quiet corner and listen to the furious discussions that raged about
Brockhurst, Story and Regan.

It was seldom that Stover talked. He learned more by listening, by
careful weighing of others' opinions, than in the attempt to classify
his own thoughts through the medium of debate. At times when the
discussion wandered from vital sources, he would ask a question, and
these sharp, direct remarks had a pertinency and a searching trenchancy
that sometimes upset an elaborate argument.

Regan brought him to the romance of commonplace things, to a genuine
interest and study of political conditions; Brockhurst irritated and
dissatisfied him, and so stimulated him to reading and self-analysis;
Story, with his seriousness and fairness, recalled him always to a
judicial point of view and an understanding of others; Hungerford, with
his big, effusive nature, always dissatisfied and eager for realities,
was akin to his own nature, and they grew into a confidential intimacy.
In a community of splendid barbarians, their circle was exceptional, due
to the pronounced individuality of their several rebellious minds.

Despite the abolition of the sophomore societies, other groups still
maintained their exclusiveness, and kept alive the old antagonism, as
the approach of Tap Day intensified the struggle for election and the
natural campaigning of friend for friend.

As Brockhurst had prophesied, the chairmanship of the _Lit_ Board went
to Wiggin, a conscientious, thorough little plodder, who had never
failed to hand in to each number his numerically correct quota of
essays, two stories, a hammered-out poem and two painful portfolios.

On the night of the election, Stover heard from his room in Lyceum the
familiar:

"Oh, you Dink Stover--stick out your head."

"Hello there, Brocky; come up," he said anxiously. "Who got it?"

"Wiggin, of course. Come on down, I want a ramble."

It was the first time that Brockhurst had shown a longing for
companionship. Stover returned into the room, announcing:

"Poor old chap. Wiggin got it. Isn't it the devil?"

"Wiggin--oh, Lord!" said Regan.

"Why, he's not fit to tie Brocky's shoe-strings," said Hungerford, who
fired a volley of soul-relieving oaths.

"I'm going down to bum around a bit with him," said Stover, slipping on
his coat, "cheer the old boy up."

"Well, he knew it."

"Lots of difference that makes!"

Below Brocky, muffled to the ears, brim down, was whistling in unmusical
enthusiasm.


     "_'Tis a jolly life we lead,_
       _Care and sorrow we defy--_"


"Hello, that you, Dink?" he said, breaking off. "Come on for a tramp."

At that age, being inexperienced, the undergraduate in questions of
sympathy wisely returns to the instincts of the canine. Stover, without
speaking, fell into his stride, and they swung off towards West Rock.

"Wiggin is the type of man," said Brockhurst, meditatively puffing his
pipe, "that is the glorification of the commonplace. He is a sort of
sublime earthworm, plodding along and claiming acquaintance with the
rose because he travels around the roots. He is really by instinct a
bricklayer, and the danger is that he may continue either in literature
or some profession where the cry is for imagination."

"You could have beaten him out," said Stover, as a solace.

"And become an earthworm?" said Brockhurst. "The luck of it is, he made
up his mind to heel the _Lit_. With his ideas he would have made leader
of the glee club, president of the Phi Beta Kappa, chairman of the
_News_, or what not."

"Still, give him credit," said Stover, smiling to himself, for he felt
that he saw for the first time the human side of Brockhurst.

"I did; it was quite an amusing time."

"What happened?"

"Why, the little grubber came up to me and said, 'Brocky, old man, you
ought to have had it.'"

"Why, that was rather decent," said Stover.

"Rubbish. All form," said Brockhurst impatiently. "Showed the calibre of
his mind,--the obvious; nothing but the obvious. He thought it the thing
to say, that's all."

"Well, what did you answer?" said Stover wondering.

"I said, 'Well, why didn't you vote for me then?'"

Stover burst out laughing, and Brockhurst, who had lost a coveted honor,
was a little mollified by the tribute.

"Of course he stammered and looked annoyed--naturally; situation his
imagination couldn't meet, so I said:

"'Come, Wiggin, no stuff and nonsense. You didn't think I ought to have
it, and I know damn well, now that you've won out, you'll get a Skull
and Bones to wear, pose in the middle of the photograph for the Banner,
and be thoroughly satisfied at our board meeting to sit back and listen
while I do the talking.'"

Stover broke into a laugh.

"Brocky, you scandalized him."

"Not at all. He thought I was joking--the last thing that occurs to the
grubber is that wit is only a polite way of calling a man an ass."

"Brocky, you're at your best, don't stop."

Brockhurst smiled. It was turning a defeat into a victory. He continued:

"After all, Wiggy is interesting. I'll be revenged. I'll put him in a
book some day. He represents a type--the mathematical mind, quantity not
quality. He set out for the chairmanship as a man trains for a
long-distance run. Do you know the truth? He rose every morning and took
a cold shower, fifty swings to the left with the dumb-bell, fifty to the
right, ate nothing heavy or starchy for his meals, walked the same
distance each afternoon, and worked his two hours each night, hammering
out divine literature."

"Oh, I say!" said Dink, a little in doubt.

Brockhurst began to laugh.

"He may have for all I know. Now I'll bury him. He will be eminently
successful--I like that word eminently. You see he has no sense of
humor, and especially no imagination to hinder him." Brockhurst, in one
of his quixotic moods, began to gesture to the stars as he abandoned
himself to the delights of his conceit. "Oh, that's a wonderful thing,
to have no imagination--the saving of commonplace minds. If Wiggin had
an imagination he would never have written a line, he would have
perceived the immense distances that separated him from the Olympians.
Instead he read Stevenson, Dumas, Kipling, and, unafraid, wrote little
Stevenson echoes of Dumas, capsule Kiplings. He'll go out in the world,
nothing will frighten him. He will rebel against nothing, for he hasn't
an idea. He will choose the woman he needs for his needs, persuade
himself that he's in love, and then persuade her. And he'll believe
that's a virtuous marriage. He'll belong to the conservative party, the
conservative church, and will be a distinguished subordinate, who will
stand for tradition, institutions, and will be said to resemble some
great man. Then he'll die, and will be pointed to as a great example.
_Requiescat in pace._"

"Off with his head," said Stover appreciatively. "Now he's finished, own
up, Brocky, that you are furious that you did not buckle down and beat
him out."

"Of course I am--damn it," said Brockhurst. "I know I did right, but no
one else will ever know it. And the strange thing is, Dink, the best
thing for me is to have missed out."

"Why, in Heaven's name?"

"If I had made the chairmanship, I should probably be tapped for
Bones--one of the successful. I might have become satisfied. Do you know
that that is the great danger of this whole senior business?"

"What?"

"The fellow who wears his honors like a halo. He's made Bones or Keys,
he's a success in life. Nothing more awaits him. 'I was it.'"

"Still, you would have liked it."

"Sure; I'm inconsistent," said Brocky, with a laugh. "It's only when I
don't get what I want that my beautiful reason shows me I shouldn't have
had it."

"Well, there's no danger of either of us disappearing under the halos,"
said Stover shortly.

"I'm not so sure about you," said Brockhurst.

The casual doubt aroused strange emotions in Stover.

"I thought you didn't believe in them," he said slowly.

"I don't. I don't believe in organizations, institutions,
traditions--that's my point of view," said Brockhurst. "But then I'm in
the world to be in revolt."

"You once spoke of the society system--the whole thing as it exists in
America--" said Stover, "as a sort of idol worship. I never quite
understood your meaning."

"Why, I think it's quite obvious," said Brockhurst surprised. "What was
idol worship? A large body of privileged charlatans, calling themselves
priests, impressed the masses with all the flummery of mysterious
ceremonies, convenient voices issuing from caves or stone idols. What
was an idol? An ordinary chunk of marble, let us say, issuing from the
sculptor's chisel. When did it become sacred and awe-inspiring? When it
had been placed in an inner shrine of shrines, removed from the public,
veiled in shadows, obscured by incense, guarded by solicitous guards;
the stone is still a stone but the populace is convinced. Look into a
well in daylight--commonplace; look into it at night--a great mystery;
black is never empty, the imagination fills it."

"How does this apply?" said Stover, impatiently.

"Cases are parallel. A group of us come together for the purpose of
debate and discussion; no one notices it beyond a casual thought.
Suddenly we surround ourselves with mystery, appear on the campus with a
sensational pin stuck in our cravats, a bat's head or a gallows, and
when, marvellously enough, some one asks us what the dickens we are
wearing, we turn away; instantly it becomes known that something so
deadly secret has begun that we have sworn to shed our heart's blood
before we allow the holy, sacred name of Bat's Head or Gallow's Bird to
pass our lips!"

"It's a little foolish, but what's the harm?"

"The harm is that this mumbo-jumbo, fee-fi-fo-fum, high cockalorum
business is taken seriously. It's the effect on the young imagination
that comes here that is harmful. Dink, I tell you, and I mean it
solemnly, that when a boy comes here to Yale, or any other American
college, and gets the flummery in his system, believes in it--surrenders
to it--so that he trembles in the shadow of a tomblike building, doesn't
dare to look at a pin that stares him in the face, is afraid to
pronounce the holy, sacred names; when he's got to that point he has
ceased to _think_, and no amount of college life is going to revive him.
That's the worst thing about it all, this mental subjection which the
average man undergoes here when he comes up against all this rigmarole
of Tap Day, gloomy society halls, marching home at night, et cetera--et
ceteray. By George, it _is_ a return of the old idol-worship
idea--thinking men in this twentieth century being impressed by the same
methods that kept nations in servitude to charlatans three thousand
years before. It's wrong, fundamentally wrong--it's a crime against the
whole moving spirit of university history--the history of a struggle for
the liberation of the human mind."

"But, Brocky, what would you have them do--run as open clubs?"

"Not at all," said Brockhurst. "I would strip them of all nonsense; in
fact that is their weakness, not their strength, and it is all
unnecessary. This is what I'd do: drop the secrecy--this extraordinary
muffled breathless guarding of an empty can--retain the privilege any
club has of excluding outsiders, stop this childishness of getting up
and leaving the room if some old lady happens to ask are you a Bones man
or a Keys man. Instead, when a Bones man goes to see a freshman whom he
wants to befriend, have him say openly as he passes the chapter house:

"'That's my society--Skull and Bones. It stands as a reward of merit
here. Hope you'll do something to deserve it.'

"Which is the better of the two ideas, the saner, the manlier and the
more natural? What would they lose by eliminating the objectionable,
unnecessary features--all of which you may be sure were started as horse
play, and have curiously enough come to be taken in deadly earnestness?"

"I think you exaggerate a little," said Stover, unwilling to accept this
arraignment.

"No, I don't," said Brockhurst stubbornly. "The thing is a fetish; it
gets you; it's meant to get you. It gets me, and if you're honest you'll
admit it gets you. Now own up."

"Yes, I suppose it does."

"Now, Dink, you're fighting for one thing up here, the freedom of your
mind and your will."

"Why, yes," Stover said, surprised at Brockhurst's knowledge of his
inner conflicts. "Yes, that's exactly what I'm fighting out."

"Well, my boy, you'll never get what you're after until you see this
thing as it is--the unreasoning harm done, the poppycock that has been
thrown around a good central idea--if you admit such things are
necessary, which of course I don't."

"You see," said Stover stubbornly, "you're against all organization."

"I certainly am--inherited organizations," said Brockhurst immediately,
"organizations that are imposed on you. The only organization necessary
is the natural, spontaneous coming together of congenial elements."

They had returned to the campus, and Brockhurst, by intent leading the
way, stopped before the lugubrious bulk of Skull and Bones.

"There you are," he said, with a laugh. "Look at it. It's built of the
same stone as other buildings, it has in it what secret? Go up, young
Egyptian, to its mystery in awe and reverence, young idol worshiper of
thirty centuries ago."

"Damn it, Brocky, it does get me," said Stover with a short laugh.

"Curious," said Brockhurst, turning away. "The architecture of these
sacred tombs is almost invariably the suggestion of the dungeon--the
prison of the human mind."


Stover's conversation with Brockhurst did not at first trouble him much.
Curiously enough the one idea he retained was that Brockhurst had spoken
of him as a possibility for Tap Day.

"What nonsense," he said to himself angrily. "Here, I know better!"

But the next afternoon, the thought returning to him with pleasure, all
at once, following a boyish whim, he passed into his old entry at
Lawrence, and, going down a little guiltily into the region of the
bath-tubs, came to the wall on which was inscribed the lists of his
class.

On the Bones list, third from the top, the name Stover had been replaced
and heavily underlined.

It gave him quite a thrill; something seemed to leap up inside of him,
and he went out hastily. Then all at once he became angry. It was like
opening up again a fight that had been fought and lost.

"What an ass I am," he said furiously. "The deuce of a chance I have to
go Bones--with Reynolds and Le Baron. Can the leopard change his spots?
About as much chance as a ki-yi has to go through a sausage machine and
come out with a bark."

But, as he went towards Jean Story's home, thinking of her and what she
would want, the force of what Brockhurst had said began to weaken.

"Brocky is impractical," he said artfully. "We must deal with things as
they are, make the best of them. He exaggerates the effect on the
imagination. At any rate, no one can accuse me of not taking a stand."

He saw the old colonial home, white and distinguished under the elms,
and he said to himself, hoping against hope:

"If I were tapped--it would mean a good deal to her. I'll be darned if
I'll let Brocky work me up. I'm not going up against anything more! I've
done enough here."

He said it defiantly, for the courage of a man has two factors, his
courage and the courage of the woman he loves.



CHAPTER XXV


When he had returned to the college after the summer, he came to his
first call on Jean Story with a confident enthusiasm, eager for the
first look in her eyes. He had not corresponded with her during the
summer. He had not even asked for permission to write, confident though
he was that her consent would now be given. He was resolved, as a
penance for his first blunder, to hold himself in reserve on every
occasion. Bob had written the news, always pressing him to take two
weeks off for a visit to the camp, but Dink, despite the tugging at his
heart, had stuck to Regan, perhaps a little secretly pleased to show his
earnestness.

Now, as he came swinging impatiently toward the glowing white columns
under the elms, he realized all at once what was the moving influence in
his struggle for growth and independence.

"Here is the horny-handed son of toil," he said, holding out his hand
with a laugh.

She took it, turning over the firm palm with a little curiosity, and
looked at him sharply, aware of a great change--they were no longer boy
and girl. The vacation had made of the impetuous Dink Stover she had
known a new personality that was strange and a little intimidating.

He did not understand at all the sudden dropping of her look, nor the
uneasy turning away, nor the quick constraint that came. He was hurt
with a sudden sharp sting that he had never known before and the ache
of unreasoning jealousy at the bare thought of what might have happened
during the summer.

"I'm awfully glad to see you," she said, but the words sounded formal.

He followed her into the parlor puzzled, irritated by something he did
not understand, something that lay underneath everything she said, and
seemed to interpose itself as a barrier between them and the old open
feeling of camaraderie.

"Mother will be so glad to see you," she said, after a little moment of
awkwardness. "I must call her."

This maneuver completed his bewilderment, which increased when, Mrs.
Story joining them, suddenly the Jean Story of old returned with the
same cordiality and the same enthusiasm. She asked a hundred questions,
leading him on until he was launched into an account of his summer
experiences, the little bits of real life that had brought home to him
the seriousness of the world that waited outside.

He spoke not as the Stover of sophomore year, filled with the enthusiasm
of discovery, but with a maturer mind, which had begun to reflect and to
reason upon what had come into his knowledge.

Mrs. Story, sunk in the old high-backed arm-chair near the fire,
followed him, too, aware also of the change in the boy, wondering what
lay in the mind of her daughter, camped at her knee on the hearth rug,
listening so intently and yet clinging to her as though for instinctive
protection.

Stover spoke only of outward things; the thoughts that lay beneath, that
would have come out so eagerly before the girl, did not appear in the
presence of another. As he understood nothing of this sudden
introduction of a third into the old confidential relationship, he
decided to be more formal than the girl, and rose while still his
audience's attention was held by his account.

"It's been awfully jolly to see you again," he said with a perfect
manner to Mrs. Stover.

"But you're going to stay to dinner," she said, with a little smile.

"Awfully sorry, but I've got a dozen things to do," he said, in the same
careful, matter-of-fact tone. "Bob sent word he'd come later."

Jean Story had not urged him. He went to her with mechanical cheeriness,
saying:

"Good-by. You're looking splendidly."

She did not answer, being in one of her silent moods. Mrs. Story went
with him towards the door, with a few practical housekeeping questions
on the ménage that had just begun. As they were in the ante-room, Jim
Hunter entered and, greeting them, passed into the salon.

Stover, deaf to anything else, heard her greeting:

"Why, Jim, I _am_ glad to see you."

Mrs. Story was asking him a question, but he did not hear it. He heard
only the echoes of what seemed to him the joy in her laugh.

"If you need any rugs let me know," said Mrs. Story in patient
repetition.

"I beg your pardon," he stammered. "Yes--yes, of course."

She looked at him with a little maternal pity, knowing the pang that had
gone through him, and for a moment a word was on her lips to enlighten
him. But she judged it wiser to be silent, and said:

"Come in for dinner to-morrow night, surely."

This invitation fitted at once into Stover's scheme of mislogic. He saw
in it a mark of compassion, and of compassion for what reason? Plainly,
Jean was interested in some one else, perhaps engaged. In ten minutes,
to his own lugubrious satisfaction, he had convinced himself it was no
other than Jim Hunter. But a short, inquisitive talk with Joe
Hungerford, who magnanimously appeared stupidly unconscious of the real
motives, reassured him on this point. So, after the hot tempest of
jealousy, he began to feel a little resentment at her new, illogical
attitude of defensive formality.

Gradually, as he gave no sign of unbending from his own assumption of
strict politeness, she began to change, but so gradually that it was not
for weeks that he perceived that the old intimate relations had
returned. This little interval, however, had brought to him a new
understanding. With her he had lost the old impulsiveness. He began to
reason and analyze, to think of cause and effect in their relationship.
As a consequence the initiative and the authority that had formerly been
with her came to him. All at once he perceived, to his utter surprise,
what she had felt immediately on his return: that he was the stronger,
and that the old, blind, boyish adoration for the girl, who was
companion to the stars, had steadied into the responsible and guiding
love of a man.

This new supremacy brought with it several differences of opinion. When
the question of the football captaincy had come up he did not tell her
of his decision, afraid of the ambition he knew was strong in her for
his career.

When he saw her the next night, Bob had already brought the news and the
reason. She received him with great distance, and for the first time
showed a little cruelty in her complete ignoring of his presence.

"You are angry at me," he said, when finally he had succeeded in finding
her alone.

"Yes, I am," she said point blank. "Why didn't you tell me what you
were planning?"

"I didn't dare," he said frankly. "You wouldn't have approved."

"Of course I wouldn't. It was ridiculous. Why shouldn't you be the
captain?"

"There were reasons," he said seriously. "I should not have had a united
team back of me--oh, I know it."

"Absurd," she said with some heat. "You should have gone out and made
them follow you. Really, it's too absurd, renouncing everything. Here's
the Junior Prom; every one says you would have led the class if you'd
have stood for it."

"Yes, and it's just because a lot of fellows thought they knew my whole
game of democracy that I wouldn't stand for it."

She grew quite angry. He had never seen her so stirred.

"Stuff and nonsense. What do you care for their opinion? You should be
captain and chairman of the Prom, but you renounce everything--you seem
to delight in it. It's too absurd; it's ridiculous. It's like Don
Quixote riding around."

He was hurt at this, and his face showed it.

"It's something to be able to refuse what others are grabbing for," he
said shortly. "But all you seem to care for is the name."

The flash that was in his eyes surprised her, and the sudden stern note
in his voice that she had never heard before brought her to a quick
realization of how she must have wounded him. Her manner changed. She
became very gentle, and before he went she said hurriedly:

"Forgive me. You were right, and I was very petty."

But though he had shown his independence of her ambitions for him, and
gained thereby, at heart he had a foolish longing, a senseless dream of
winning out on Tap Day--just for the estimation he knew she held of that
honor. And, wishing this ardently, he was influenced by it. There were
questions about the senior societies that he had not put to himself
honestly, as he had in the case of the sophomore. He knew they were way
back in his mind, claiming to be met, but, thinking of Jean, he said to
himself evasively again and again:

"Suppose there are bad features. I've done enough to show my nerve. No
one can question that!"


With the passing of the winter, and the return to college in the
pleasant month of April, the final, all-absorbing Tap Day loomed over
them only six weeks away. It was not a particularly agreeable period.
The contending ambitions were too keen, too conflicting, for the
maintenance of the old spirit of comradeship. The groups again defined
themselves, and the "lame ducks," in the hopes of being noticed,
assiduously cultivated the society of what are called "the big men."

One afternoon in the first week in April, as Dink was returning from the
gymnasium, he was suddenly called to from the street. Chris Schley and
Troutman, in a two-seated rig, were hallooing:

"Hello there, Dink."

"Come for a ride."

"Jump in--join us."

The two had never been of his intimates, belonging to a New York crowd,
who were spoken of for Keys. He hesitated, but as he was free he
considered:

"What's the game?"

"We're out for a spin towards the shore. Tommy Bain and Stone were
going but had to drop out. Come along. We might get a shore supper, and
toddle back by moonlight."

"I've got to be here by seven," said Dink doubtfully.

"Oh, well, come on; we'll make it just a drive."

"Fine."

He sprang into the front seat, and they started off in the young,
tingling air. Troutman, at the reins, was decidedly unfamiliar with
their uses, and, at a fervent plea from Schley, Stover assumed control.
Since freshman year the three had been seldom thrown together. He
remembered Troutman then as a rather overgrown puppy type, and Schley as
a nuisance and a hanger-on. He scanned them now, pleasantly surprised at
their transformation. They had come into a clean-cut type, affable,
alert, and if there was small mark of character, there was an abundance
of good-humor, liveliness, and sociability.

"Well, Dink, old chap," said Troutman, as he passed along quieter ways,
"the fatal day approaches."

"It does."

"A lot of seniors are out buying nice brand-new derbies to wear for our
benefit."

"I'll bet they're scrapping like cats and dogs," said Schley.

"They say last year the Bones list wasn't agreed upon until five minutes
before five."

"The Bones crowd always fight," said Schley, from the point of view of
the opposite camp. "I say, Dink, did you ever think of heeling Keys?"

"No, I'm not a good enough jollier up for that crowd."

"They say this year Keys is going to shut down on the sporting life and
swipe some of the Bones type."

"Really?" said Stover, in disbelief.

"Sure thing; Tommy Bain has switched."

"I heard he was packer," said Stover, not particularly depressed. In the
college the rumor had always been that the Keys crowd had what was
termed a packer in the junior class, who helped them to pledge some of
their selections before Tap Day.

"Sure he is," said Troutman, with conviction.

"Wish he'd stuck to Bones," said Schley. "Yours truly would feel more
hopeful."

"Why, you fellows are sure," said Stover to be polite.

"The deuce we are!"

Schley, tiring of the conversation, was amusing himself from the back
seat by well-simulated starts of surprise and a sudden snatching off of
his hat to different passers-by, exclaiming:

"Why, how _do_ you do. I remember meeting you before."

He did it well, communicated his good spirits to the pedestrians, who
took his banter good-naturedly.

All at once his mischievous eye perceived two girls of a rather
noticeable type. Instantly he was on his feet, with an exaggerated sweep
of his hat, exclaiming:

"Ladies, accept my carriage, my prancing horses, my groom and my
footman."

The girls, bursting into laughter, waved to him.

"Yes, it's a lovely day," continued Schley, in imitation of McNab.
"Mother's gone to the country, aunty's visiting us now, Uncle John's
coming to-morrow--he'll be sober then. Too bad, girls, you're going the
other way, and such lovely weather. Won't you take a ride? What? Oh, do
now. Here, I say, Dink--whoa there! They're coming."

"Rats," said Troutman, glancing uneasily up the street.

"Sure they are. Whoa! Hold up. We'll give 'em a little ride, just for a
lark. What's the diff?"

He was down, hat off, with exaggerated Chesterfield politeness, going to
their coming.

"Do you mind?" said Troutman to Stover. "Schley's a crazy ass to do this
just now."

"I wouldn't take them far," said Stover, who did not particularly care.
He had no facility for bantering of this sort, but it rather amused him
to listen to Schley. He saw that while they were of an obvious type one
was insipid, and the other rather pretty, dark with Irish black eyes.

"Ladies, I wish to make you acquainted with my friends," said Schley, as
he might speak to a duchess. "The ill-favored gent with the vermilion
hair is the Reverend Doctor Balmfinder; the one with the padded
shoulders is Binks, my trainer. Now what is this little girl's name?"

"Muriel," said the blonde, "Muriel Stacey."

"Of course, I might have known it. And yours of course is Maude, isn't
it?"

"My name is Fanny Le Roy," said the brunette with a little pride.

"Dear me, what a beautiful name," said Schley. "Now girls, we'll take
you for a little ride, but we can't take you very far for our mammas
don't know we're out, and you must promise to be very good and get out
when we tell you, and not ask for candy! Do we promise?"

Schley sat on the rear seat, chatting along, a girl on either side of
him, while Troutman, facing about, added his badinage. It was not
excruciatingly witty, and yet at times Stover, occupied with the
driving, could not help bursting into a laugh at the sheer nonsense. It
interested him as a spectator; it was a side of life he knew little of,
for, his nature being sentimental, he was a little afraid of such women.

"What's our real names?" said Troutman in reply to a demand. "Do you
really want to know? We'll send them to you. Of course we've met before.
In New York, wasn't it, at the junior cotillion?"

"Sure I saw this fellow at the Hari-gori's ball," said Fanny, appealing
to her companion.

"Sure you did."

"If you say so, all right," said Troutman, winking at Schley. "Fanny,
you have beautiful eyes. Course you don't know it."

"You two are great jolliers, aren't you?" said Fanny, receiving the
slap-stick compliment with pleasure.

"They think we're easy," said Muriel, with a look at Schley.

"I think the fellow that's driving is the best of the lot," said Fanny,
with the usual method of attack.

"Wow," said Troutman.

"Come on back," said Schley, "we don't count."

Stover laughed and drove on. The party had now passed the point of
interest. He had no desire for a chance meeting that would require
explanations, but he volunteered no advice, not caring to appear prudish
in the company of such men of the world.

They were in the open country, the outskirts of New Haven just left
behind. For some time Fanny Le Roy had been silent, pressing her hand
against her side, frowning. All at once a cry was wrung from her. The
carriage stopped. All turned in alarm to where the girl, her teeth
compressed, clutching at her side, was lying back against the seat,
writhing in agony.

Troutman swore under his breath.

"A devil of a mess!"

They descended hurriedly and laid the girl on the grass, where her agony
continued increasingly. Schley and Troutman were whispering apart. The
other girl, hysterically bending over her companion, mopped her face
with a useless handkerchief, crying:

"She's got a fit; she's got a fit!"

"I say it's appendicitis or gripes," said Troutman, coming over to
Stover. His face was colorless, and he spoke the words nervously. "The
deuce of a fix Chris has got us into!"

"Come, we've got to get her back," said Stover, realizing the gravity of
the situation. He went abruptly to the girl and spoke with quick
authority. "Now stop crying; I want you to get hold of yourself. Here
Schley, lend a hand; you and Troutman get her back into the carriage. Do
it quickly."

"What are you going to do?" said Troutman, under his breath.

"Drive her to a doctor, of course."

"Couldn't we go and fetch a doctor here?"

"No, we couldn't!"

With some difficulty they got the suffering girl into the carriage and
started back. No one spoke; the banter had given place to a few muttered
words that broke the moaning, delirious tones of the stricken girl.

"Going to drive into New Haven this way?" said Troutman, for the second
time under his breath.

"Sure."

"Hell!"

They came to the city streets, and Stover drove on hastily, seeking
from right to left for a doctor. All at once he drew up at the curb,
flung the reins to Troutman, and rushed into a house where he had seen a
sign displayed--"Dr. Burke." He was back almost immediately with the
doctor at his heels.

"I say, Dink, look here," said Schley, plucking him aside, as the doctor
hurriedly examined the girl. "This is a deuce of a mess."

"You bet it is," said Stover, thinking of the sufferer.

"I say, if this gets out it'll be a nasty business."

"What do you mean?"

"If we're seen driving back with--well, with this bunch!"

"What do you propose?" said Stover sharply.

Troutman joined them.

"See here, leave her with the doctor, I'll put up all the money that's
necessary, the doctor'll keep a close mouth! Man alive, you can't go
back this way!"

"Why not?"

"Good Lord, it'll queer us,--we'll never get over it."

"Think of the papers," said Schley, plucking at his glove.

"We can fix it up with the doctor."

At this moment Dr. Burke joined them, quiet, business-like, anxious.

"She has all the symptoms of a bad attack of appendicitis. There's only
one thing to do; get her to the hospital at once. I'll get my hat and
join you."

"Drive to--drive to the hospital?" said Troutman, with a gasp, "right
through the whole city, right in the face of every one?"

"Don't be a fool, Dink," said Schley nervously. "We'll fix up Burke;
we'll give him a hundred to take her and shut up."

Stover, too, saw the danger and the inevitable scandal. He saw, also,
that they were no longer men as he had thought. The thin veneer had
disappeared--they were boys, terrified, aghast at a crisis beyond their
strength.

"You're right, it would queer _you_," he said abruptly. "Clear out--both
of you."

"And you?"

"You're going to stay?" said Schley. Neither could face his eyes.

"Clear out, I tell you!"

When Burke came running down the steps he looked at Stover in surprise.

"Hello, where are your friends?"

"They had other engagements," said Dink grimly. "All ready."

"I've seen your face before," said Dr. Burke, climbing in.

"I'm Stover."

"Dink Stover of the eleven?"

"Yes, Dink Stover of the eleven," said Stover, his face hardening.
"Where do I drive?"

"Do you want to go quietly?" said Dr. Burke, with a look of sympathetic
understanding.

From behind the girl, writhing, began to moan:

"Oh, Doctor--Doctor--I can't stand it--I can't stand it."

"What's the quickest way?" said Stover.

"Chapel Street," said the doctor.

Stover turned the horses' heads into the thoroughfare, looking straight
ahead, aware soon of the men who saw him in the full light of the day,
driving through the streets of New Haven in such inexplicable company.
And suddenly at the first turn he came face to face with another
carriage in which were Jean Story and her mother.



CHAPTER XXVI


When Stover returned to his rooms, it was long after supper.

"Where the deuce have you been?" said Hungerford, looking up from his
books.

"Went for a drive, got home late," said Stover shortly. He filled the
companionable pipe, and sank into the low arm-chair, which Regan had
broken for comfort. Something in his abrupt procedure caused Bob Story
to look over at Regan with an inquiring raise of his eyebrows.

"Got this psychology yet?" said Hungerford, to try him out.

"No," said Stover.

"Going to get it?"

"No."

"The thinghood of a thing is its indefinable somewhatness," said
Hungerford, with another slashing attack on the common enemy, to divert
Stover's attention. "What in the name of peanuts does that stuff mean?"

Dink, refusing to be drawn into conversation, sat enveloped in smoke
clouds, his eyes on the clock.

"Hello, I forgot," said Story presently. "I say, Dink, Troutman and
Schley were around here hallooing for you."

"They were, eh?"

"About an hour ago. Wanted to see you particularly. Said they'd be
around again."

"I see."

At this moment from below came a bellow:

"Oh, Dink Stover--hello above there!"

"That's Troutman now," said Joe Hungerford.

Stover went to the window, flinging it up.

"Well, who's there?"

"Troutman and Chris Schley. I say, Dink, we've got to see you. Come on
down."

"Thanks, I haven't the slightest desire to see you now or at any other
time," said Stover, who closed the window and resumed his seat, eyeing
the clock.

His three friends exchanged troubled glances, and Regan began to whistle
to himself, but no questions were asked. At nine o'clock Stover rose and
took his hat.

"I'm going out. I may be back late," he said, and went down the stairs.

"What the devil?" said Hungerford, closing his book.

"He's in some scrape," said Regan ruthfully.

"Oh, Lord, and just at this time, too," said Story.

Stover went rapidly towards the hospital. The girl had been operated on
immediately, and the situation was of the utmost seriousness. He had
been told to come back at nine. When he arrived he found Muriel Stacey
already in the waiting-room, her eyes heavy with frightened weeping. He
looked at her curiously. All suggestion of the provoking impertinence
and the surface allurement was gone. Under his eyes was nothing but an
ignorant boor, stupid and hysterical before the awful fact of death.

"What's the news?" he asked.

"Oh, Mr. Stover, I don't know. I can't get anything out of them," the
woman said wildly. "Oh, do you think she's going to die?"

"Of course not," he said gruffly. "See here, where's her family?"

"I don't know."

"Don't they live here?"

"They're in Ohio somewhere, I think. I don't know. Ask the doctor, won't
you, Mr. Stover? He'll tell you something."

He left her, and, making inquiries, was met by a young intern,
immaculate and alert, who was quite communicative to Dink Stover of the
Yale eleven.

"She's had a bad case of it; appendix had already burst. You got her
here just in time."

"What's the outlook?"

"Can't tell. She came out of the anæsthetic all right." He went into a
technical discussion of the dangers of blood poisoning, concluding:
"Still, I should say her chances were good. It depends a good deal on
the resistance. However, I think your friend's family ought to be
notified."

Stover did not notice the "your friend," nor the look which the doctor
gave him.

"She's here alone as far as I can find out," he said. "Poor little
devil. I'll call round about midnight."

"No need," said the doctor briskly, "nothing'll develop before
to-morrow."

Stover sent the waiting girl home somewhat tranquilized, and, finding a
florist's shop open, left an order to be sent in to the patient the
first thing in the morning. Then, thoroughly exhausted by his sudden
contact with all the nervous fates of the hospital, he walked home and
heavily to bed.

The next morning as he went to his eating-joint with Regan and
Hungerford, the newsboy, who had his papers ready, gave them to him with
a hesitating look. All at once Joe Hungerford swore mightily.

"Now what's wrong, Joe?" said Regan in surprise.

"Nothing," said Hungerford hastily, but almost immediately he stopped,
and said in a jerky, worried way: "Say, here's the devil to pay, Dink. I
suppose you ought to know about it. Damn the papers."

With his finger he indicated a space on the front page of the New York
newspaper he was reading. Stover took it, reading it seriously. It was
only a paragraph, but it rose from the page as though it were stamped in
scarlet.


     DINK STOVER'S LARK
      ENDS SERIOUSLY.


Below followed in suggestive detail an account of the drive with friends
"not exactly in recognized New Haven society," and the sudden seizure of
Miss Fanny Le Roy, with an account of his drive back to the hospital.

"That's pretty bad," he said, frowning. "What do the others say?"

One paper had it that his presence of mind and prompt action had saved
the girl's life. The third one hinted that the party had been rather
gay, and said in a short sentence:


     "_It is said other students were with young Stover, who prefer not
     to incur any unnecessary notoriety._"


"It looks ugly," said Stover grimly.

"Who was with you?" said Hungerford anxiously.

"I prefer not to tell."

"Troutman and Schley, of course," said Regan suddenly, and, starting out
of his usual imperturbability, he began to revile them.

"But, Dink, old man," said Hungerford, drawing his arm through his, "how
the deuce did you ever get into it?"

"Well, Joe, what's the use of explanations?" said Stover gloomily.
"Every one'll believe what they want to. It's a thoroughly nasty mess.
It's my luck, that's all."

"Is that all you can say?" said Hungerford anxiously.

"All just now. I don't feel particularly affable, Joe."

The walk from his eating-joint to the chapel was perhaps the most
difficult thing he had ever done. Every one was reading the news,
commenting on it, as he passed along, red, proud, and angry. He felt the
fire of amazed glances, the lower classmen looking up at the big man of
the junior class in disgrace, his own friends puzzled and
uncomprehending.

At the fences there was an excited buzz, which dropped perceptibly as he
passed. Regan was at one side, Hungerford loyally on the other. At the
junior fence Bob Story, who had just got the report, came out hurriedly
to him.

"I say, Dink, it--it isn't true?" he said. "Something's wrong--must be!"

"Not very far wrong," said Stover. He saw the incredulity in Bob's face,
and it hurt him more than all the rest.

"Even Bob thinks I'm that sort, that I've been doing things on the sly I
wouldn't stand for in public. And if he thinks it, what'll others
think?"

"Shut up, Bob," he heard Regan say. "It may look a nasty mess, and Dink
may not tell the real story, but one thing I know, he didn't scuttle off
like a scut, but faced the music, and that's all I want to know."

Stover laughed, a short, nervous, utterly illogical laugh, defiant and
stubborn. He would never tell what had happened--let those who wanted to
misjudge him.

Several men in his class--he remembered them ever after--came up and
patted him on the back, one or two avoided him. Then he had to go by
the senior fence into chapel with every eye upon him, watching how he
bore the scandal. He knew he was red and uncomfortable, that on his face
was something like a sneer. He knew that what every one was saying under
his voice was that it was hard luck, damned hard luck, that it was a
rotten scandal, and that Stover's chances for Skull and Bones were
knocked higher than a kite.

Then something happened that almost upset him. In the press about the
chapel doors he suddenly saw Le Baron's tall figure across the
scrambling mass. Their glances met and with a little solemnity Le Baron
raised his hat. He understood; they might be enemies to the end of their
days, but the hat had been raised as the tribute of a man to a man. Once
in his seat he looked about with a little scorn--Troutman and Schley
were not there.

After first recitation he went directly to the hospital, stubbornly
resolved to give no explanations, stubbornly resolved in his own
knowledge of his right to affront public opinion in any way he chose.
The news he received was reassuring, the girl was out of danger. Muriel
Stacey not yet arrived, for which he was physically thankful.

He returned to his rooms, traversing the difficult campus with erect
head.

"Now, boy, see here," said Hungerford, when he had climbed the stairs,
"I want this out with you. What did happen, and who ran away?"

"You've got the story in the papers, haven't you?" said Stover wearily.
"The New Haven ones have in a couple of columns and my photograph."

"Is that all, Dink, you're going to tell me?"

"Yes."

"Is that all you're going to let Jean Story know?" said Hungerford
boldly.

Stover winced.

"Damn you, Joe!"

"Is it?"

"She'll have to believe what she wants to about me," said Stover slowly.
"It's a test."

"No, it isn't a test or a fair test," said Hungerford hotly. "I know
everything's all right, boy, but I want to stop anything that might be
said. You're hurt now because you know you're misjudged."

"Yes, I am hurt."

"Sure; a rotten bit of luck has put you in a false position. That's the
whole matter."

"Joe, I won't tell you," said Stover shortly. "I am mad clear through
and through. I'm going to shut up on the whole business. If my friends
misjudge me--so much the worse for them. If some one else--" He stopped,
flung his hat on the couch, and sat down at the desk. "What's the
lesson?"

But at this moment Regan and Story came in, bolting the door.

"Well, we've got the truth," said Story. He came over and laid his hand
on Dink's shoulder.

"What do you mean?"

"Tom and I have had it out with Schley and Troutman. They've told the
whole thing, the miserable little curs." His voice shook. "You're all
right, Dink; you always were, but it's a shame--a damn shame!"

"Oh, well, they lost their nerve," said Stover heavily.

"Why the devil didn't you tell us last night?"

"What was the use?"

"We could have stopped its getting into the papers, or had it right."

"Well--it all comes down to a question of luck sometimes," said Stover.
"I was just as responsible as they were--it was only fooling, but
there's the chance."

"Dink, I've done one thing you may not like."

"What's that?"

"I've written the whole story to your folks at home--sent it off."

"No--I don't mind--I--that was rather white of you, Bob--thank you,"
said Stover. He drew a long breath, went to the window and controlled
himself. "What are Troutman and Schley going to do?"

"They're all broken up," said Story.

"Don't wonder."

"They won't face it out very long," said Regan, without pity.

"Well, it was a pretty hard test," said Stover, coming back--and by that
alone they knew what it had meant to him.

Despite the giving out of the true story, the atmosphere of scandal
still clung to the adventure. His friends rallied stanchly to him, but
from many quarters Stover felt the attitude of criticism, and that the
thing had been too public not to affect the judgment of the senior
societies, already none too well disposed toward him.

Stover was sensitively proud, and the thought of how the story had
traveled with all its implications wounded him keenly. He had done
nothing wrong, nothing for which he had to blush. He had simply acted as
a human being, as any decent gentleman would have acted, and yet by a
malignant turn of fate he was blackguarded to the outer world, and had
given his enemies in college a chance to imply that he had two
attitudes--in public and in secret.

The next morning came a note to him from Jean Story, the first he had
ever had from her--just a few lines.


     "_My Dear Friend_:

     "You are coming in soon to see me, aren't you? I shall be very much
     _honored_.

     "Most cordially,

     "JEAN STORY."


The note brought a great lump to his throat. He understood what she
wished him to understand, her loyalty and her pride in his courage. He
read it over and over, and placed it in his pocket-book to carry
always--but he did not go at once to see her. He did not want sympathy;
he shunned the very thought. Before, in his revolt, he had come against
a college tradition, now he was face to face with a social prejudice,
and it brought an indignant bitterness.

He called every day at the hospital; out of sheer bravado at first,
furious at the public opinion that would have him go his way and ignore
a human being alone and suffering, even when his motives were pure.

At the end of a week he was told that the girl wanted to see him. He
found her in a cot among a row of other cots. She was not white and
drawn as he had expected, but with a certain flush of color in her face,
and lazy eyes that eagerly waited his coming. When he had approached,
surprised and a little troubled at her prettiness, she looked at him
steadily a long moment until he felt almost embarrassed. Then suddenly
she took his hand and carried it to her lips, and her eyes overflowed
with tears, as an invalid's do with the strength of any emotion.

The nurse motioned him away, and he went, troubled at what his boyish
eyes had seen, and the touch of her lips on his hand.

"By George, she can't be very bad," he thought. "Poor little girl; she's
probably never had half a chance. What the devil will become of her?"

He knew nothing of her life--he did not want to know.

When she left the hospital at last he continued to see her, always
saying to himself that there was no harm in it, concealing from himself
the pleasure it gave him to know himself adored.

She would never tell him where she lived, always giving him a rendezvous
on a certain corner, from which they would take a walk for an hour or
so. Guessing his desires, she began to change her method of dress,
leaving aside the artifices, taking to simple and sober dress, which
brought a curious, girlish, counterfeit charm.

"I am doing her good," he said to himself. "It means something to her to
meet some one who treats her with respect--like a human being--poor
little girl."

He did not realize how often he met her, leaving his troubled room-mates
with a curt excuse, nor how rapidly he consumed the distance to their
meeting place. He had talked to her at first seriously of serious
things, then gradually, laughing in a boyish way, half tempted, he began
to pay her compliments. At first she laughed with a little pleasure,
but, as the new attitude continued, he felt her eyes on his face
constantly in anxious, wistful scrutiny.

One night she did not keep her appointment. He waited troubled, then
furious. He left after an hour's lingering, irritable and aroused.

The next night as he approached impatiently, half afraid, she was
already at the lamp-post.

"I waited an hour," he said directly.

"I'm sorry; I couldn't come," she answered troubled, but without
volunteering an explanation.

"Why?" he said with a new irritation.

"I couldn't," she said, shaking her head.

He felt all at once a new impulse in him--to wound her in some way and
make her suffer a little for the disappointment he had had to undergo
the night before.

"You did it on purpose," he said abruptly.

"No, no," she said frowning.

"You did." Then suddenly he added: "That's why you stayed away--to make
me jealous."

"Never."

"Why, then?"

"I can't tell you," she said.

They walked along in silence. Her resistance in withholding the
information suddenly made her desirable. He wondered what he might do
with her. As they walked still in silence, he put out his hand, and his
fingers closed over hers. She did not draw them away. He gave a deep
breath and said:

"I would like--"

"What?" she said, looking up as his pressure made her face him.

He put out his arms and took her in them, and stood a long moment,
looking at her lips.

"Forgive me--I--" he said, stepping back suddenly. "I--I didn't mean to
offend you."

"No--you couldn't do that--never," she said quietly.

"You--you're so pretty to-night--I couldn't help it," he said. To
himself he vowed he would never let himself be tempted again--not that
night.

"I'm going to take you to your home," he said, when after small
conversation they returned.

"Sure."

He was surprised and delighted at this, but almost immediately to be
generous he said:

"No, no, I won't."

"I don't care."

They had reached their corner.

"To-morrow."

"Yes."

"At eight."

"Yes."

He resisted a great temptation, and offered his hand. She took it
suddenly in both of hers and brought it to her lips as she had done in
the hospital.

"You've been white, awful white to me," she said, and flitted away into
the engulfing night.

When he left her, her words came back to him, and brought an unrest. He
had almost yielded to what he had vowed never to do, he, who only wanted
her to feel his respect. Yet the next day seemed endless. He regretted
that he had not gone to where she lived, for then he could have found
her in the afternoon.

A shower passed during the day, leaving the streets moist and luminous
with long lances of light and star points on the wet stones. He went
breathlessly as he had never gone before, a little troubled, always
reasoning with his conscience.

"It was only a crazy spell," he said to himself. "I don't know what got
into me. I'll be careful, now."

When he reached the lamp-post another figure was there, Muriel Stacey,
painted and over-dressed, and in her hand was a white letter, that he
saw half-way up the block. He stopped short, frowning.

"Where's Fanny?"

"Here's a note she sent you," said the girl; "she's gone."

"Gone?"

"This morning."

He looked at the envelope; his name was written there in a childish,
struggling hand.

"All right; thank you," he said suffocating. He left hurriedly,
physically uncomfortable in the presence of Muriel Stacey, her friend.
At the first lamp-post he stopped, broke the envelope, and read the
awkward, painfully written script.


     "I'm going away, it's best for you and me I know it. Guess I would
     care too much and I'm not good enough for you. Don't you be angry
     with me. Good luck. God bless you.

     "F."


He slipped it hurriedly in his pocket, and set off at a wild pace. And
suddenly his conscience, his accusing conscience, rose up. He saw where
he had been going. It brought him a solemn moment. Then he remembered
the girl. He took the letter from his pocket and held it clutched like a
hand in his hand.

"Good God," he said, "I wonder what'll become of her?"

He had found so much good that the tragedy revolted him. So he went
through the busy streets with their flare and ceaseless motion, in the
wet of the night, watching with solemn, melancholy eyes, other women
pass with sidelong glances. All the horror and the hopelessness of a
life he could not better thronged over him, and he stood a long while
looking down the great bleak ways, through the gates that it is better
not to pry ajar.

Then in a revulsion of feeling, terrified at what he divined, he left
and went, almost in an instinct for protection, hurriedly to the Story
home, white and peaceful under the elms. He did not go in, but he stood
a little while opposite, looking in through the warm windows at the
serenity and the security that seemed to permeate the place.

When he returned to his rooms, Joe and Regan were there. He sat down
directly and told them the whole story, showing them her letter.

"She went away--for my sake," he said. "I know it. Poor little devil.
It's a letter I'll always keep." Solemnly, looking at the letter, he
resolved to put this with the one, the first from Jean Story, and
reverently he felt that the two had the right to be joined.

"What's terrible about it," he said, talking out his soul, "is that
there's so much good in them. And yet what can you do? They're human,
they respond, you can't help pitying them--wanting to be decent, to
help--and you can't. It's terrible to think that there are certain doors
in life you open and close, that you must turn your back on human lives
sometimes, that things can't be changed. Lord, but it's a terrible thing
to realize."

He stopped, and he heard Regan's voice, moved as he had never heard it,
say:

"That's my story--only _I_ married."

Suddenly, as though realizing for the first time what he had said, he
burst out: "Good God, I never meant to tell. See here, you men, that's
sacred--you understand."

And Dink and Joe, looking on his face, realized all at once why a
certain gentler side of life was shut out to him, and why he had never
gone to the Storys'.



CHAPTER XXVII


One result of Stover's sobering experience with Fanny Le Roy was that he
met the problem of the senior elections with directness and honesty.
What Brockhurst had said of the injurious effect of secrecy and ceremony
on the imagination had always been with him. Yet in his desire to stand
high in the eyes of Jean Story, to win the honors she prized, he had
quibbled over the question. Now the glimpse he had had into the
inscrutable verities of human tragedy had all at once lifted him above
the importance of local standards, and left him with but one desire--to
be true to himself.

The tests that had come to him in his college life had brought with them
a maturity of view beyond that of his fellows. Now that he seriously
debated the question, he said to himself that he saw great evils in the
system: that on the average intelligence this thraldom to formula and
awe at the assumption of mystery had undeniably a narrowing effect,
unworthy of a great university dedicated to liberty of thought and
action. He saw that while certain individuals, such as Hungerford and
Regan, laughed at the bugbear of secrecy, and went their way
unconcerned, a great number, more impressionable, had been ruled from
the beginning by fear alone.

With the aims and purposes of Skull and Bones he was in thorough
sympathy--their independence of judgment, their seeking out of men who
had to contend with poverty, their desire to reward ambition and
industry and character--but the more he freely acknowledged their
influence for democracy and simplicity at Yale, the more he revolted at
the unnecessary fetish of it all.

"They should command respect and not fear. By George, that's where I
stand. All this rigmarole is ridiculous, and it's ridiculous that it
ever affected me; it is of the middle ages--outgrown."

Then a problem placed itself before him. Admitting that he had even the
ghost of a chance of being tapped, ought he to go into a senior society
feeling as he did about so many of its observances, secretly resolved on
their elimination? Finally, a week before Tap Day, he decided to go to
Judge Story and frankly state his case, letting him know that he
preferred thus to give notice of his beliefs.

When he arrived at the Story home the Judge was upstairs in his study.
Jean, alone in the parlor, looked up in surprise at his expressed
intention to see her father. Since her letter they had never been alone.
Stover had avoided it with his shrinking from sympathy, and, perhaps
guessing his temperament, she had made no attempt to go beyond the safe
boundaries of formal intercourse.

"Yes, indeed, Dad's upstairs," she said. Then she added a little
anxiously: "You look serious--is it a very serious matter?"

He hesitated, knowing instinctively that she would oppose him.

"It's something that's been on my mind for a long time," he said
evasively; and he added with a smile, "It's what you call my Quixotic
fit."

"It's about Skull and Bones," she said instantly.

"Yes, it is."

"What are you going to say?"

"I'm going to tell him just where I stand--just what I've come to
believe about the whole business."

"And what's that?"

"That Skull and Bones, which does a great good here--I believe it--also
does a great deal of harm; all of which is unnecessary and a weakness in
its system. In a word, I've come to the point where I believe secrecy is
un-American, undemocratic and stultifying; and, as I say, totally
unnecessary. I should always be against it."

"But aren't you exaggerating the importance of it all?" she said
hastily.

"No, I'm not," he said. "I used to silence myself with that, but I see
the thing working out too plainly."

"But why speak about it?"

"Because I don't think it's honest not to. Of course," he added
immediately, "I have about one chance in a thousand--perhaps that's why
I'm so all-fired direct about it."

"I wish you wouldn't," she said, rising and coming towards him. "It
might offend them terribly; you never know."

He shook his head, though her eagerness gave him a sudden happiness.

"No, I've thought it out a long while, and I've decided. It all goes
back to that sophomore society scrap. I made up my mind then I wasn't
going to compromise, and I'm not now."

"But I want to see you go Bones," she said illogically, in a rush.
"After all you've gone through, you must go Bones!"

He did not answer this.

"Oh, it's so unnecessary," she said. "No one but you would think of it!"

"Don't be angry with me," he said, a little troubled.

"I am--it's absurd!" she said, turning away with a flash of temper.

"I'm sorry," he said, and went up the stairs.

When he returned, after an interview which, needless to say, had
somewhat surprised the Judge, he found a very different Jean Story. She
was waiting for him quiet and subdued, without a trace of her late
irritation.

"Did you tell him?" she said gently.

"Yes."

"What did he say?"

"I didn't ask for an answer. I told him how I felt, and that I would
rather my opinions should be known. That's all."

"Are you going?" she said, as he made a movement.

"I didn't know--" he said, hesitating and looking at her.

"I am not angry," she said a little wistfully. "You were quite right.
I'm glad you did it. You are much bigger than I could be--I like that."

"You were the first to wake me up," he said happily, sitting down.

"Yes, but you have gone so far ahead. You do things without compromise,
and that sometimes frightens me." She stopped a moment, and said,
looking at him steadily: "You have kept away a long while. Now you see
you are caught. You can't avoid being alone with me."

"I don't want to," he said abruptly.

"You are so proud, Dink," she said softly, using his nickname for the
first time. "I have never seen any one so proud. Everything you do I
think comes from that. But it must make you suffer terribly."

"Yes, it does."

They were in the front parlor, dimly lit, sitting on the window-seat,
hearing from time to time the passing chug of horses' feet.

"I knew how it must have hurt you--all this publicity," she said slowly.
"Why didn't you come when I wrote you? Were you too proud?"

"Yes, I suppose so--and then it didn't seem fair to you--after all the
talk."

"I was proud of you," she said, raising her head a little. She put out
her hand again to his, leaving it in his for a long time, while they sat
in silence. The touch that once had so disturbed him brought now only a
gentle serenity. He thought of the other woman, and what might have
been, with almost a hatred, the hatred of man towards whatever he
wrongs.

"You are right about me," he said slowly. "Most people think I don't
care what happens, that I'm sort of a thick-skinned rhinoceros. How did
you know?"

"I knew."

She withdrew her hand slowly, without resistance on his part; only when
he held it no longer he felt alone, abandoned to the blackness of the
street outside.

"I've kept my promise to you, Jean," he said a little unsteadily, "but
don't make it too hard."

She rose and he followed. Together they stood in the shadows of the
embrasure, half seeing each other. Only he knew that her large eyes were
looking out at him with the look of the woman that he had first called
forth when he had wounded the pride of the girl.

"I am glad you didn't listen to me just now," she said slowly.

"When?"

"When you went upstairs to Dad. You will never weaken, I know." She came
a little towards him, and understanding, he took her gently,
wonderingly, in his arms. "It's going to be very hard for you," she
said, "Tap Day--to stand there and know that you may be misjudged. I
should be very proud to announce our engagement, then--that same day."

Then he knew that he held in his arms one who had never given so much as
her hand lightly, who came to him in unflinching loyalty, whose only
interest would be his interest, who would know no other life but his
life, whose joy would be the struggle that was his struggle.


Tap Day arrived at last, cloudy and misty. He had slept badly in fits
and starts, nor had the others fared better, with the exception of
Regan, who had rumbled peacefully through the night--but then Regan was
one whom others sought. The morning was interminable, a horror. They did
not even joke about the approaching ordeal. No one was so sure of
election but that the possible rejection of some chum cast its gloom
over the day.

Dink ran over a moment after lunch with Bob for a last word with Jean.
She was going with her father and mother to see the tapping from a
window in Durfee.

"I shall only see you," she said to him, with her hands in his, and her
loyal eyes shining. "I shall be so proud of the way you take it."

"So you think I won't be tapped," he said slowly.

"It means so little now," she said. "That can't add a feather's weight
to what you are."

They went back to their rooms, joining Hungerford and Regan, who were
whiling away the time playing piquet.

"Here," said Tom in relief when they entered, "one of you fellows keep
Joe entertained, the darn fool has suddenly made up his mind he's going
to be passed over."

Regan, relinquishing his place, went back to his book.

"Why, Joe, you fluffy ass," said Story affectionately, "you're the
surest of the lot. Shut up--cheer us up instead."

"Look at that mound of jelly," said Hungerford peevishly, pointing to
Regan. "Has he any nerves?"

"What's the use of fidgeting?" said Regan.

An hour later Hungerford stretched his arm nervously, rose and consulted
the clock.

"Four-fifteen; let's hike over in about twenty minutes."

"All right."

"Say, I don't mind saying that I feel as though I were going to be taken
out, stuck full of holes, sawed up, drawn and quartered and boiled
alive. I feel like jumping on an express and running away."

Stover, remembering Joe's keen suffering at the spectacle back in
freshman year, said gravely:

"You're sure, Joe. You'll go among the first. Come back with smelling
salts for me. I've got to stand through the whole thing and grin like a
Cheshire cat--that's _de rigueur_. Do you remember how bully Dudley was
when he missed out? Funny--then I thought I had a cinch."

"If it was left to our class, you would, Dink," said Bob.

"Thanks."

Stover smiled a little at this unconscious avowal of his own estimate,
rose, picked out his favorite pipe, and said:

"I don't care so much--there's a reason. Well, let's get into the mess."

The four went together, over toward the junior fence, already swarming.

"Ten minutes of five," said Hungerford, looking at the clock that each
had seen.

"Yes."

Some one stopped Stover to wish him good luck. He looked down on a
diminutive figure in large spectacles, trying to recall, who was saying
to him:

"I--I wanted to wish you the best."

"Oh, it's Wookey," said Stover suddenly. He shook hands, rather
troubled. "Well, boy, there's not much chance for me."

"Oh, I hope so."

"Thanks just the same."

"Hello, Dink, old fellow."

"Put her there."

"You know what we all want?"

He was in another group, patted on the back, his arm squeezed, listening
to the welcome loyalty of those who knew him.

"Lord, if they'd only have sense enough."

He smiled and made his way towards his three friends, exchanging
salutations.

"Luck, Dink."

"Same to you, Tommy Bain."

"Here's wishing."

"Back to you, Dopey."

"You've got my vote."

"Thanks."

He joined his room-mates under the tree, looking over the heads to the
windows of Durfee where he saw Jean Story with her father and mother.
Presently, seeking everywhere, she saw him. Their eyes met, he lifted
his cap, she nodded slightly. From that moment he knew she would see no
one else.

"Let's keep together," said Regan. "Lock arms."

The four stood close together, arms gripped, resisting the press that
crushed them together, speaking no more, hearing about them the curious
babble of the underclassmen.

"That's Regan."

"Story'll go first."

"Stand here."

"This is the spot."

"Lord, they look solemn enough."

"Almost time."

"Get your watch out."

"Fifteen seconds more."

"Five, four, three, two--"

"_Boom!_"

Above their heads the chapel bell broke over them with its five decisive
strokes, swallowed up in the roar of the college.

"_Yea!_"

"Here he comes!"

"First man for Bones!"

"Reynolds!"

From where he stood Stover could see nothing. Only the travelling roar
of the crowd told of the coming seniors. Then there was a stir in the
crowd near him, and Reynolds, in black derby, came directly for them;
pushed them aside, and suddenly slapped some one behind.

A roar went up again.

"Who was it?" said Story quickly.

"Hunter, Jim Hunter."

The next moment Hunter, white as a sheet, bumped at his side and passed,
followed by Reynolds; down the convulsive lane the crowd opened to him.

Roar followed roar, and reports came thick.

"Stone's gone Keys."

"Three Wolf's-Head men in the crowd."

"McNab gets Keys."

"Hooray!"

"Dopey's tapped!"

"Bully."

"Wiggins fourth man for Bones."

Still no one came their way. Then all at once a Bones man, wandering in
the crowd, came up behind Bob Story, caught him by the shoulders, swung
him around to make sure, and gave him the slap.

Regan's, Hungerford's, and Stover's voices rose above the uproar:

"Bully, Bob!"

"Good work!"

"Hooray for you!"

Almost immediately Regan received the eighth tap for Bones, and went for
his room amidst the thundering cheers of a popular choice.

"Well, here we are, Dink," said Hungerford.

"You're next."

About them the curious spectators pressed, staring up into their faces
for any sign of emotion, struggling to reach them, with the dramatic
instinct of the crowd. Four more elections were given out by Bones--only
three places remained.

"That settles me," said Stover between his teeth. "If they wanted me I'd
gone among the first. Joe's going to get last place--bully for him. He's
the best fellow in the class."

He folded his arms and smiled with the consciousness of a decision
accepted. He saw Hungerford's face, and the agony of suspense to his
sensitive nerves.

"Cheer up, Joe, it's last place for you."

Then another shout.

"Bones or Keys?" he asked of those around him.

"Bones."

"Charley Stacey."

"Thirteenth man."

"I was sure of it," he said calmly to himself. Then he glanced up at the
window. Her eyes had never left him. He straightened up with a new
defiance. "Lord, I'd like to have gotten it, just for Jean. Well, I
knocked against too many heads. I don't wonder."

Suddenly Hungerford caught his hand underneath the crowd, pressing it
unseen.

"Last man for Bones now, Dink," he said, looking in his eyes. "I hope to
God it's you."

"Why, you old chump," said Stover laughing, so all heard him. "Bless
your heart, I don't mind. Here's to you."

Above the broken, fitful cheers, suddenly came a last swelling roar.

"Bones."

"Last man."

The crowd, as though divining the election, divided a path towards where
the two friends waited, Hungerford staring blankly, Stover, arms still
folded, waiting steadily with a smile of acceptation on his lips.

It was Le Baron. He came like a black tornado, rushing over the ground
straight toward the tree. Once some one stumbled into his path, and he
caught him and flung him aside. Straight to the two he came, never
deviating, straight past Dink Stover, and suddenly switching around
almost knocked him to the ground with the crash of his blow.

"Go to your room!"

It was a shout of electrifying drama, the voice of his society speaking
to the college.

Some one caught Stover. He straightened up, trying to collect his wits,
utterly unprepared for the shock. About him pandemonium broke loose.
Still dazed, he felt Hungerford leap at him, crying in his ears:

"God bless you, old man. It's great, great--they rose to it. It's the
finest ever!"

He began to move mechanically towards his room, seeing nothing, hearing
nothing. He started towards the library, and some one swung him around.
He heard them cheering, then he saw hundreds of faces, wild-eyed,
rushing past him; he stumbled and suddenly his eyes were blurred with
tears, and he knew how much he cared, after the long months of
rebellion, to be no longer an outsider, but back among his own with the
stamp of approval on his record.

The last thing he remembered through his swimming vision was Joe
Hungerford, hatless and swinging his arms as though he had gone crazy,
leading a cheer, and the cheer was for Bones.


That night, even before he went to the Storys', Stover went out arm in
arm with Hungerford, across the quiet campus, so removed from the fray
of the afternoon.

"Joe, it breaks me all up," he said at last. "You and I waiting there--"

"Don't speak of it, old fellow," said Hungerford. "Now let me talk. I
did want to make it, but, by George, I know now it's better I didn't.
I've had everything I wanted in this world; this is the first I couldn't
get. It's better for me; I know it already."

"You were clean grit, Joe, cheering for Bones."

"By George, I meant it. It meant something to feel they could rise up
and know a man, and you've hit pretty close to them, old boy."

"Yes, I have, but I've believed it."

"It shows the stuff that's here," said Hungerford, "when you once can
get to it. Now I take off my hat to them. I only hope you can make your
influence felt."

"I'm going to try," said Stover solemnly. "The thing is so big a thing
that it ought not to be hampered by bug-a-boo methods."

Brockhurst joined them.

"Well, the smoke's rolled away," said Brockhurst, who likewise had
missed out. "It's over--all over. Now we'll settle down to peace and
quiet--relax."

"The best time's coming," said Hungerford. "We'll live as we please, and
really enjoy life. It's the real time, every one says so."

"Yes," said Brockhurst, rebel to the last, "but why couldn't it come
before, why couldn't it be so the whole four years?"

"Well, now, old croaker," said Hungerford with a little heat, "own up
the old college comes up to the scratch. We've surrendered the sophomore
society system, and the seniors showed to-day that they could recognize
honest criticism. That's pretty fine, I say."

"You're pretty fine, Joe," said Brockhurst to their surprise. "Well,
it's good enough as it is. It takes an awful lot to stir it, but it's
the most sensitive of the American colleges, and it will respond. It
wants to do the right thing. Some day it'll see it. I'm a crank, of
course." He stopped, and Stover felt in his voice a little note of
bitterness. "The trouble with me is just that. I'm impractical; have
strange ideas. I'm not satisfied with Yale as a magnificent factory on
democratic business lines; I dream of something else, something
visionary, a great institution not of boys, clean, lovable and honest,
but of men of brains, of courage, of leadership, a great center of
thought, to stir the country and bring it back to the understanding of
what man creates with his imagination, and dares with his will. It's
visionary--it will come."





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