DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
Copyright, 1900, by
Doubleday, Page & Co.
BLANCHARD PRESS, NEW YORK.
These are stories of the University as it was before the era of new buildings. While the attempt has been made to create, in character, incident and atmosphere, a picture of Stanford life, the stories, as stories, are fiction, with the exception of "Pocahontas, Freshman," and "Boggs' Election Feed," which were suggested by local occurrences, and "One Commencement," which is mainly fact. The original draft of "His Uncle's Will" was printed in The Sequoia with the title "The Fate of Freshman Hatch."
It may be necessary to add that, in the endeavor to present the actual life of the University, it has seemed quite inadvisable to edit the conversation of the characters from the standpoint of the English purist. Since, however, those readers who boggle over slang could hardly be much interested in the Undergraduate, it is sufficient merely to call attention to the point.
|A Midwinter Madness,||3|
|His Uncle's Will,||55|
|The Initiation of Dromio,||77|
|The Substituted Fullback,||91|
|Two Pioneers and an Audience,||119|
|For the Sake of Argument,||135|
|An Alumni Dinner,||171|
|Boggs' Election Feed,||185|
|In the Dark Days,||207|
|A Song Cycle and a Puncture,||249|
|Past the Lonely Redwood Tree to the University,||Frontispiece|
|... Toward the La Honda Redwoods,||Facing page 148|
|A Stroll in the Moonlit Quad, Planned to Interest
the Crowd at the Tuesday Evening Lecture,
|Facing page 154|
|... Then the Lull During Class,||Facing page 200|
Genius has been defined as a capacity for taking pains.
When a college man's good fairy makes her first call at his cradle, she may bestow upon him the football instinct, with muscles to match; no fairy could do more. But if she bumps up against Heredity, and is powerless to give him the supreme gift, she may compensate for it in a degree by leaving the kind of larynx and tympanum used in the Glee Club. Failing this, she may render next best service by throwing a mandolin in his way and bewitching his parents into paying for lessons. Some twenty years later, behind the enchanted scenes of a specially hired theater, or on the polished floor of society's inner temple, he may think of the fairy kindly.
Doubtless, all theatrical life means drudgery, but the Christmas tour of the Glee and Mandolin clubs is drudgery amidst bowers of roses. The hard-working professional would call it play; yet, even in this gilded stage-life,[Pg 4] there is the common affliction of being forced to appear at every concert, and in places you don't care about—unless, of course, you happen to be seriously ill.
The Clubs had just done an abbreviated stunt for the Los Angeles High School the afternoon before Christmas. The occasion was a big ad., but they ripped matters through in a hurry, because the social event of the trip came that afternoon—Lillian Arnold's reception at her home on Figuerroa Street.
At Hacienda Arnold there is running water along the garden copings, and the grounds are large. It was bud-time, and the heavy fragrance of the orange blossoms mingled with the bitter-almond smell of oleanders. Miss Arnold served her refreshments on the lawn, and the girls looked peachy in plume-laden hats and filmy organdies. The day was rather warm for December. To this out-door reception came the prettiest girl in Los Angeles, Dolores Payson; her full name, she confided to Cecil Van Dyke that evening with a slight but captivating roll of her Andalusian eyes and r's, was Dolores Ynez Teresa Payson. Van Dyke was the only man on the trip who had thought to bring his summer togs, and he looked very swell. Van played first mandolin and was notoriously susceptible. It is down in the Club annals that she caught his game at first sight.
Had she been given to genealogical investigation, the name Van Dyke might have recalled to this descendant of many hidalgos that foggy battle-field in the Netherlands on which her ancestor and his took pot-shots at each other with the primitive cross-bow. Motley records that on that day far-gone Holland laid low the Spaniard. The present historian is forced to chronicle the final triumph of Spain. The only bow used in this last encounter was in the hands of a mythological person whose existence is doubted only by scoffers.
They tried a dance or two in the crowded rooms, they strolled out into the gardens, they ate ices under the roses in a secluded arbor. The place, the time, the air had their influence on Van Dyke. He was from Montana, where the magnolias do not shed their waxen petals at Christmas, and the gold-of-Ophir roses sternly refuse to leaf until the Fourth of July.
Perhaps he might have withstood all the seductive charms of the hour if he had not escorted Dolores home and essayed to bid her good-bye. There was a great clump of flaming poinsettia at the Payson gate. Dolores was dark, with a rich southern complexion; her dress was white. So she stood against the poinsettia. That is why there is more to this story.
Van Dyke meditated as he went into town. She was the finest girl he had ever met. It was a hard graft, this playing one day in a live town where one could meet charming people, and being forced to take the train next morning for some uninteresting country place where they would have to lounge around a cheap hotel until concert time. Why couldn't the manager get up a schedule that would give them a day or so longer in a place like Los Angeles? This making a college trip with the sole idea of money-getting was degrading. He, for one, was willing enough to pay his share of the extra expense.
On his way he stopped at a florist's. It was a habit he had acquired under similar circumstances. He was puzzled to know just what to send in a land where the highways and hedges run riot with flowers, but he finally selected some wonderful orchids of delicate lavender and mauve. Purposely, he put no card with them, feeling that she would guess the sender.
He got into his dress clothes in rather an ungracious humor. Pomona was the next place, a fruit town further south. Oh, it was too bad! Well, at least he would see her again at the concert that night. He was grateful for this much. Her seat was on an aisle, she told him; he would be able to speak to her during the intermission; more than[Pg 7] this, she had said, in her best convent manner, that he might ride home with her papa and mamma afterwards.
Still, this was an unsatisfactory way of carrying on an affair of the sort, especially when it was the first really serious one he had ever had. Clean out of Van's mind had faded the memory of a Montana cow-girl, a San Francisco actress, a senior in the Lambda Mu sorority, a——but space forbids. He mussed three ties. Freshmen are petulant things.
Perkins, who led the Mandolin Club, joshed him at dinner.
"What's the matter, my boy; didn't you have a good time this afternoon?"
"Of course he didn't," answered a guitar man. "You must have noticed his bored expression all through; that is, when you saw him at all."
"That was merely the blasé look that comes with four months at the Youngest and Best," said "Cap." Smith. "The Freshman was happy on his little inside because he was so well got up. He really looked the part; now he's in ordinary clothes, like a common strolling player, and he feels cross."
"No," growled Van Dyke, "I've caught cold or something."
"Oh," said Phillips, the Glee Club leader. He took up his table fork and bit the end; holding it to his ear he gave the table a[Pg 8] starting chord, and they hummed "Ma Onliest One," while Van grew red, and the rest of the dining-room stopped to listen.
Dolores Payson sat in an orchestra seat and smiled up at the immaculate Mr. Van Dyke, above the only bunch of orchids in the theatre. He came to chat with her during the interval between "La Czarina" and "Schneider's Band." She was doubly guarded by her father on one side and her mother on the other. It was a way they had. She introduced him demurely with an adorable little wave of her black fan. He wondered if, should he quit college right away, he could get a job which would enable him to support a wife. He looked at the placid, olive-skinned mother, not yet old enough to be very fat, and decided that he could; his glance wandered to the angular, sharp-featured American father, and he was sure he couldn't.
Van could not remember ever having seen such great, dark liquid eyes as now melted into his. It seemed hard not to behold them again for a whole week. Hard? It was impossible. It was dreadful to leave her for the little time while the mandolin club was on the stage. On his way up the aisle his freshman brain was seized and overmastered by a brilliant idea; he almost stopped to pat himself on the shoulder.
Going into one of the dressing rooms, he[Pg 9] sank dejectedly on a chair and pressed his hand to his forehead. Perkins, gathering in his musicians for the next piece, found him there.
"Come along, Freshie."
The first mandolin rose slowly.
"What's the matter?" asked the leader.
"Oh, nothing," said the other, "I'll be all right."
After the piece he went back to the dressing-room.
"Encore!" cried Perkins, rushing in.
"I can't help it," said Van, in a contracted tone, "I can't go on."
"Why not?" demanded Perkins.
"I'm in awful pain, Ted," pleaded Van. "Something I've eaten, I guess. I can hardly stand up straight."
"Oh, rats!" answered Perkins sympathetically, and tore out again.
Van took his coat and mandolin and disappeared. Between numbers he came in and slipped down the aisle to the Paysons' seats.
"Will you excuse me, Miss Payson? I can't go home with you after the concert. I'm awfully sorry, but I feel pretty sick and I'm going back to the hotel now."
"Oh, what is it?" Dolores asked, and her mother leaned forward with polite interest.
Van smiled weakly.
"Nothing serious, probably," he said.[Pg 10] "Don't worry, please. I won't say good-bye," he added, taking Dolores' hand, "because if I have to stay over to-morrow I shall try to see you in the morning."
"Oh, I hope you'll be better, and I shall look for you."
Then Mason came out to sing, and Van left with a hurried good-night. The streets were full of Christmas shoppers. At the first drug store he bought some Jamaica ginger; then he went to the hotel and slid into bed, leaving the lights on.
After the concert Perkins did not go to the café with the rest; he, too, hastened back to the hotel.
"I'll bet he's at the Payson ranch this minute," he thought, as he made for Van's room, but the sick musician was lying on his face, breathing heavily.
"Well, what's the matter, anyway?" said Perkins, his suspicions fading.
"I don't know," groaned Van. "It came on all of a sudden at the theatre. The pain is here on my right side. Gee whiz, it knocks me out!"
"Shan't I get a doctor?" asked the leader. "What do you think it is?"
"Of course," moaned the sufferer, "it may be appendicitis,—I don't think that could hurt more,—but it can hardly be anything like[Pg 11] that. I've taken the ginger, and it will set me up, probably."
"You ought to have a doctor look at you, though. It's dangerous to put it off," urged Perkins.
"No," said Van. "I'll stick it out to-night, and if I'm not better to-morrow, why, you may get one. Never mind me, Ted. Where is the gang?"
"They're all down in the Grotto."
"Go on and join them; don't stay here, it isn't necessary. I'll be all right, I say, and I can ring if I'm not. Come in in the morning, won't you?"
"Sure. The train goes at ten-fifteen, you know. We can't get along without you very well."
"Oh, I'll be fit in the morning. So long, old man."
"Good-night," and Perkins shut the door.
The Freshman lay still awhile, then got up and, smiling broadly, turned out the lights and tumbled back to sleep.
Meanwhile Perkins joined the men at the restaurant.
"Van Dyke is sick," he said. "I've just been up in his room."
"What's the matter?"
"We don't know. He's afraid it's appendicitis."
"I'll tell you what it is," said Mason, the[Pg 12] baritone; "it's heart trouble. I wouldn't believe that man Van under a triple oath, if there were a skirt in the case."
"You won't have to search far in this case," laughed a deep bass voice behind a cool stein.
"Oh, I don't think so," protested Perkins; "he looked bad, bad. I think it's square enough."
"Don't you believe him a minute. I'll bet it's a fake, pure and simple."
"He couldn't expect to work one on us."
"Why not? The time the Mandolin Club went North with the Berkeley Glee somebody played the same blooming game. It worked all right then and they joshed the life out of the leader, too. I heard Shirlock tell about it."
The Freshman should never have allowed himself to go to sleep so easily. By the time Perkins and Mason tiptoed up to his room, he was sprawled out on his back, snoring with a healthfulness that was positively vulgar. Mason gave the leader a significant punch and drew him down the hall to his room.
"See here, Perk," he said, "if he keeps up that gag to-morrow I have a scheme that is a pipe."
The invalid wore a woe-begone expression when the two fellows went in before breakfast.
"Are you any better?" asked Perkins.
"No," said Van, miserably. "The pain is just as bad. I guess I'll have to see a doctor after all."
"How did you sleep?" inquired Perkins.
"Bum. My fever was high all night," moaned the sufferer. "I heard you fellows come up, and I hoped someone might drop in. I suppose you were all too sleepy."
"Yes," said Mason, with a side look at Perkins, "everybody went right to sleep."
"Well," said the leader, "we'll go down to breakfast now, and then we will get a doctor to see you before we have to go."
Neither of them stopped to eat. They hurried first to the Polyclinic. There Perkins asked for the name of one or two physicians who were known to have little practice, and who could afford to take charge of a man who would require constant attention for a week, a middle-aged person preferred.
The man in charge gave them three names and addresses. They went first to a Doctor Mead, who displayed his shingle in a quiet street. He was a big, slow-spoken man, somewhat shabbily dressed.
Jimmy Mason approached him with such hesitation in his voice as befitted the part he was playing. They wanted the doctor on a delicate matter, he explained; it was a private affair which lay very near to them, Perkins added.
"You see," said Jimmy, "we're all cut up. Poor little devil——" and his voice broke artistically, while Perkins forebore to grin.
"Perhaps the case is not so grave as it seems," said the doctor, with professional calm.
"I don't see how it could be any worse." Jimmy controlled his emotion with an effort. "If it were just common sickness, but—but he's lost some of his buttons—bughouse, crazy you know,—" his giggle turned into a sob again, and Perkins, bearing up under his trouble, took the thread of the story.
"You see, Doctor, we are musicians from Stanford, travelling through here; something has happened to one of our party; I don't know what's the matter: some hallucination."
"It struck him first at Santa Barbara," said Mason. "He thought that he was very ill one evening when he was tired; said he was sure he was coming down with appendicitis. We sent for Doctor——"
"Brown," filled in Perkins with presence of mind.
"A very able man; he stands high in the profession," said the doctor gravely.
All three being thus established on a common basis of mendacity, the head liar proceeded:
"The doctor couldn't find anything the matter, but the boy—he's only a Freshman, you[Pg 15] see—he raised Cain that night; next day he said he was as well as ever. It's been like that ever since, Doctor. One hour he's himself and then he goes to bed and swears he's sick and wants medicines. We didn't get onto him until last night, when the poor kid got to acting loco at the concert."
Perkins played chorus at discreet intervals.
"I haven't telegraphed to his people because I wouldn't distress them till we knew. We must go on with the trip now, and we can't spare any of our men because we took no substitutes; we strike this place again in a week. You will be paid well for any services, and furnished a room at the hotel. Now, Doctor, can you arrange with your patients so that he will have your undivided time?"
("Bet you haven't any to arrange with," was the unspoken thought of both men.)
Dr. Mead pondered.
"We come to you," Jimmy put in, "because we need someone on whom we can rely, a man of skill and tact."
"It happens," said the doctor after minutes of profound deliberation, "that I have no necessary calls to make until Saturday this week. What I have to do can be managed over the telephone, and I presume patients can call upon me at the hotel as well as here. Now, what are the exact particulars of your friend's aberration?"
"Can you walk up to the hotel with us, Doctor?" asked Mason, looking at his watch. "Our train leaves at ten-fifteen; we have very little time left."
On the way the two gave to the unfortunate Freshman such peculiarities, idiosyncrasies and hallucinations as seemed good; they warned the physician that he must never be left alone, and that he ought to be humored to the top of his bent in regard to his fancied attack of appendicitis.
"Then it's understood?" said Mason, as they came down the hall toward Van Dyke's room. "Of course we can't speak of the matter before him."
"Yes," said the doctor, "I think I can manage everything. You will explain to the clerk in the office the peculiar character of your friend's illness, and I shall have no trouble, I am sure."
"All right," said Perkins, and they entered. There were several of the club in the room saying good-bye. At the entrance of the physician they filed out.
"Where have you the most pain, Mr. Van Dyke?" began Dr. Mead.
"Here," said Van, without a blush.
The physician pressed his fingers upon the afflicted region, felt Van's pulse and forehead and gravely examined his tongue; then he turned to the two men and said:
"It is probably appendicitis. The boy must stay in bed for the present."
"Hate to leave you, Van," Mason said, taking the sick man's hand gently; "but it's almost train time. Take care of yourself and do as the doctor says, and you'll be O. K."
"Good-bye, old man," said Perkins. "Have 'em telegraph right along; we shall want to know just how you are. We shall have to cut the string quartet, and that's pretty hard with Pellams out of the trip, but don't feel bad about that. You'll be nifty by the time we are on for the return concert."
"Good-bye," said the man with appendicitis, assuming the look of one who may be taking his last farewell of earthly things. "I shall come out all right, I'm sure I shall."
"Course. Good-bye. Doctor, look out for him."
"Send up some paper from the office, will you?" murmured the Freshman wearily. "I—I think I want to write to my mother."
Ten minutes later the bell-boy brought the paper and a Bible.
Dr. Mead arranged the bedclothes with a practised hand, then he sent out for medicine and chatted affably until the stuff arrived. Van submitted to a plaster on his abdomen and alternated messes for half-hour intervals. He was contented enough. Early afternoon would be a good time to find Dolores.
The doctor settled himself by the window and talked about the University and politics and climatic conditions in Montana and California; the musician joined in the conversation politely but without great enthusiasm, wondering when the man was going; there was not any too much time now for breakfast and a careful toilet. He ventured to speak.
"If you have other patients that call you, Doctor, you mustn't stay with me. I can get along, even if it is lonely in a hotel, and you'll be in again to-day, won't you?"
"Appendicitis," said the doctor, with his heaviest air, "is not a thing to be treated lightly. Just now you are in a critical condition inasmuch as we are not sure what turn your trouble may take. You are likely to be seized suddenly with the usual symptoms: then an operation will be an immediate necessity. I have the needed instruments right here in my valise, and I can give you relief at once. If, however, I should leave you, I might not be within reach until serious complications had time to arise; for that reason I shall be obliged to watch you through to-day. Afterwards it may not be necessary."
This speech fairly paralyzed the man in bed. Had he done this artistic bit of acting for the purpose of spending his Christmas on the flat of his back talking to a prosy old doctor? He lay still, trying to think what answer could[Pg 19] be made to this physician who told him seriously that he had appendicitis. He put out a feeler.
"That medicine of yours is the real thing. The pain is very much less now."
Dr. Mead looked at him over his glasses.
"Is it entirely gone?"
"Yes," answered Van, cheerily, "it certainly is."
"That is a dangerous symptom. The plaster should have drawn the pain to the surface, but not stopped it. That numbness is exactly what I wished to avoid."
He rose and poured out medicine from another bottle. Van nearly choked in swallowing this. It was eleven o'clock. Sounds of Christmas revelry floated even into his secluded upper room. The bells were telling to the people of the City of the Angels their message of peace on earth, good will toward men; they were dinning into the ears of the victim of a modern disease the fact that he ought at that moment to be waiting for Dolores on her pious way to Mission Los Angeles. He pictured her with some ancient missal in her slender hands, and flanked on one side by her sympathetic duenna of a mother. The certainty that her American father would be safe at home did not detract from the charm of the situation.
"The drinks seem to be on me!" thought[Pg 20] he after his next dose. The sun of southern California was shining brightly out of doors; it must be a glorious day at Westlake Park. The bedclothes were warm and irksome, and that confounded plaster had begun to itch. If he was ever to see Dolores again he should have to make a clean breast of the whole thing.
He sat up.
"Say, Doctor, I haven't appendicitis at all; I am as well as I ever was. I just put this up as a joke on the fellows because I wanted to stay in town instead of going farther south. I've imposed on you, I'm sorry to say. I haven't any pain whatever. I was faking."
"Yes," said the doctor, soothingly, "I knew you were, but you are not well at all, my boy, and my advice to you is to stay right there in bed. You have appendicitis symptoms in spite of there being no pain, and you might do yourself no end of harm by getting up now. I wouldn't let any man go out of doors after taking that belladonna for the world. It would be suicidal."
"But, Doctor, I'm not sick, I tell you; I feel out of sight," and Van threw off the clothes and was about to spring out, plaster and all.
Dr. Mead thought it time to act.
"Get back in there," he said, quietly but firmly. He was a man of powerful physique[Pg 21] and Van thought it best to obey until he could reason with him.
"I know what I am talking about, young man," he went on, "and you must listen to me. I want you to stay in bed."
This was too much.
"I'll be hanged if I will!" shouted the patient, preparing to rise.
"Keep covered up!" ordered the doctor. He had a big, deep voice. He stood a little way off, with his forefinger pointed at the student, sighting over it with a cold, gray eye. Something in his manner began to frighten Van. He shivered under the bedclothes. A hideous story which he had read about a maniac barber came into his mind with sickening effect. The man's whole appearance, all his actions, his eager grasping of the appendicitis theory, proclaimed insanity. He meant to operate on him, whether or no! There were the surgical instruments in that black bag on the bureau, and he was shut up in the room with the whole crazy outfit! He would have given his soul to be in Pomona with the club.
"All right, Doctor," he said weakly, sliding a little farther down into the bed, "I'll do just as you say. Only I wish you'd ring and see if any mail has come for me."
The boy who answered the doctor's call was an athletic young fellow. Van thought[Pg 22] that between them they could manage the maniac; so he sprang out crying, "Quick! This man is crazy. Help me get him down!"
To his surprise the boy seized him and deposited him back in bed.
"What in thunder is the matter with you people?" shouted Van. "I'm not going to stay here with that man when there's nothing the matter with me!"
"There, there," coaxed the boy, "you're all right, sir; try to go to sleep, can't you?"
Then Van turned over to the wall and wept salt Freshman tears, and the awe-struck boy gently closed the door. And Cupid, with his wings folded over his little arms, sat upon the bureau and laughed long and cynically.
It was now past twelve o'clock. Church was over, and Dolores was returning. Home-ward gently she rode with surging thoughts in her bosom, and an expression of sweet, religious calm hovering over her straight black brows. That was the Spanish of her. The moment the front door closed behind her she sprinted for the telephone. That was the American of her.
Had Papa Payson not been absorbed in the forty-eight-page Christmas edition of the Los Angeles Herald, he might have overheard the following semi-conversation:
"Is this the Westminster?"
"Will you—er—that is—did the Stanford Glee Club leave this morning?"
"Oh! Will you tell me, please, whether Mr. Cecil Van Dyke left with them?"
"Oh, I'm so sorry! What's the matter?"
"Appendicitis!" The receiver dropped and swung against the wall. Dolores had fled to mamma.
Perkins and Mason, treating each other at every station short of the prohibition town of Pomona, would have felt less complacent over their little joke had they seen the procession that left the Hotel Westminster at one-thirty P. M. on that balmy Christmas day. The order of march, as instituted by the American Dolores, was as follows:
1. The Payson carriage, with Mrs. and Miss Payson on the forward seat and a tenderly wrapped Freshman on the other, and the coachman instructed to drive gently.
2. Dr. Mead and the devoted bell-boy in a phaëton.
3. Small citizens on foot.
The doctor, obeying to the letter the orders of Perkins, who had commanded him not to leave his patient for one moment, smiled broadly as he gathered the lunatic into his arms and bore him past the fatal poinsettia bushes and up the broad steps where the grave major-domo was waiting to receive them. The scale upon which the Payson household was conducted just suited the ideas of that worthy practitioner.
On Saturday, Perkins and Mason asked at the hotel for Van Dyke and the doctor.
"They gave up their rooms last Monday, not very long after you left," said the clerk. "A lady took your friend to her house."
"Who was she?" asked Jimmy, with dark foreboding.
"A Mrs. Payson."
Perkins collapsed on his suit-case. Jimmy made for the desk and began to scan the directory.
"What are you looking for?"
"The P's. I'm going to haze that rattle-weeded Freshman and slay the doctor."
When the two defeated joshers paused inside the Payson gate, a scene of touching domesticity met their gaze. Under a jasmine-covered corner of the piazza, nestling in the depths of a great easy chair, lay Freshman Van Dyke. Señorita Dolores, in the rôle of[Pg 25] ministering angel, was bending unnecessarily close. Dr. Mead, as near his patient as was consistent with delicacy, was lounging in a hammock, and smoking a good cigar. It is a tradition in Los Angeles clubdom that John Payson imports his cigars direct. In the middle-distance, Mrs. Payson was approaching with a cup of nourishing beef-tea.
Jimmy Mason, afraid to trust himself to the expression of his thoughts in the presence of ladies, was about to vanish gracefully, but Van Dyke caught sight of them.
"Hello, fellows. Hear you had a frost in San Diego," cried he.
"You must be very much better—able to be moved, I notice," with a look in Jimmy's eyes that pointed to future trouble.
"Oh," said the Freshman, "almost recovered. I've had the very best of care—and a very satisfactory nurse," and for the last time, in this story, he gazed into those Andalusian eyes.
"But not the nurse we engaged," said the aggrieved Perkins.
"No," said Van, "this young lady was engaged only last evening."
"S-sh," said Señora Payson, pointing to the open window, "Papa may hear you."
"But when they lookt round for the Ladye Pocahontas, she hadde gone to her Yorke woodes, weepyng they saye."
Rowe's Life of Pocahontas.
To begin with, the college never called her Pocahontas to her face, and no one would have found anything pat in the name until a long-remembered spring afternoon in her Freshman year. After that day, although her instructors still registered her as Hannah Grant Daly, she was generally known as "Pocahontas." Students with visitors would point her out in the Quad. "That's the girl they call Pocahontas." Then they would tell briefly her story. She knew through her room-mate that the college had nicknamed her, and she grieved over it. She did not know that John Smith himself never called her Pocahontas; she had never dared to look at him since the day they had named her.
Early in September the noon train brought her through the oaks and the burdened olive orchards, past the lonely redwood Tree to the University. The brakeman's call: "Next station is Palo A-al-to!" stirred her with flutter[Pg 30]ing excitement. The crowded carriages and people at the station bewildered her. Eager 'busmen struggled for the hand-baggage of strangers, men with "Student Transfer" on their caps clamored for trunk-checks. Fellows in duck seized some of the men who came down the car steps, carrying away their suit-cases and throwing lusty student arms about their shoulders. The men thus welcomed introduced younger fellows and the whole group piled into a 'bus and shouted "Rho House, Billy," to the driver.
The man who got out just ahead of Pocahontas was greeted by cries of "Come on you Ca-ap!" and "Hello, Smithy, old boy!" He was evidently someone of whom they were very fond. One fat fellow with a comical face hugged him theatrically. Pocahontas watched them drive away, laughing and slapping one another's knees. The man they called Smithy was the nicest looking.
She had given her new valise to a gray-haired 'busman who looked a little like the minister at home. On the way up the long avenue of palms toward the sandstone buildings low in the distance, this 'busman chatted kindly with her, telling her wonderful, almost incredible things about the University, so that she began to feel a little less strange. As she paid her fare in front of the Roble he said:
"Now, whenever you want a 'bus, Miss, just[Pg 31] ask for Uncle John. That's what they call me."
"Yes," answered the Freshman, gratefully, "I will,—Uncle John."
She passed up the dormitory steps, running awkwardly the gauntlet of experienced eyes scanning the new arrivals. The Theta Gammas wrote her down as material for a quaint little, quiet little dig,—not of sorority interest. One of them ventured that there was an Oxford teacher's Bible and an embroidered mending-case in the shiny valise. Another prophesied that the newcomer would wear her High School graduation-dress to the Freshman reception. These ladies had been at college for three years and their diagnosis was correct.
So Hannah Grant Daly hopped with no unnecessary flapping of wings upon her perch in the Roble dove-cote. The matron put her into 52 with Lillian Arnold, a Sophomore leader of local society. This was "to make things easier for her." Their wedded life lasted three days. It was long after lights when Miss Arnold returned the first night. Hannah had read her chapter and was lying awake, bravely resisting a homesick cry. Her roommate groped in with an animated tale of a Freshman spread on the top floor at which the chief attraction had been oyster cocktails. Pocahontas shuddered. In imagi[Pg 32]nation she detected a faint odor like that from her mother's medicine-closet.
"I'd have asked you to go along with me," apologized Lillian, scrambling into bed without any conventional delay, "but I thought you wouldn't care for such things."
"I hope I never shall," said the new girl, solemnly, and turned her face to the wall.
The following morning while Pocahontas arranged her share of the bureau, the Sophomore draped a tennis net on their wall and fixed in its meshes the trophies of her first year. She was putting a photograph in place when Hannah spoke:
"Who is that, Miss Arnold?"
"That's Jack Smith," answered Lillian; "stunning, isn't he?"
"He's very interesting, I think. He was on the train yesterday. There were ever so many boys to meet him."
"He's a Beta Rho,—belongs to that fraternity, you know. They have a swell house here. I know most of them very well,—been over there to dinner several times."
"What class is he in?"
"Mine,—Sophomore. He's a splendid athlete,—football and pole-vaulting,—and he sings in the Glee Club. He was the only Freshman to make the team last year,—he's really a perfect hero."
"I knew he was somebody by the way they[Pg 33] acted down at the station. I think he has a good face." The new girl had come over from the bureau and was looking up at the picture in the net.
"Everybody thinks he is the handsomest man in college. You wait till you see him in his red sweater. Don't say anything, Hannah, but I'm going to have Jack Smith for my very own this year; you see if I don't manage it," and Lillian, laughing, blew a light kiss to the photograph.
Decidedly Pocahontas disapproved of her room-mate. Later, when she found that a half-dozen girls who had dropped in after dinner were there for the evening, she went out into a music-room to look at her new text-books. Routed from here by more butterflies, with "beaux," she did her reading on a bench in the hallway. Another day and she was rooming with a Junior who was a hard student. Her departure caused Miss Arnold sincere regret. A girl she knew had roomed with a Freshman the year before and the child adored her and did the mending of both. Lillian hated to sew.
Pocahontas had been at college a week and was already learning that it is not necessary to read all your references when her room-mate, coming in from the library one evening, mentioned that there was a rush going on over at the tank.
"A rush?" asked Hannah, "what is that?"
"A relic of barbarism; they ought to have put a stop to it long ago, Professor Grind says."
"Yes," said the Freshman, "but what do they do?"
"Oh, get out and fight somehow,—I don't know just how,—something about tying up. Only another way of wasting time, Hannah," and the Junior plunged back into her Livy.
At breakfast Pocahontas heard Lillian Arnold tell about going over to the baseball diamond to see the Sophomores lying tied up beside the backstop, and what a joke it was on her own class and what a ridiculous figure Jack Smith had made in the coils of a Freshman's trunk-rope, with his face and hair all grimy with perspiration and dust, and that laundry agent, Mason, piled on top of him. Hannah left the table in secret excitement. Between recitations that morning she met Pete Halleck, a classmate from her own high school; bursting with pride, he took her up to the Row to show their very own class numerals shining high on the tank, and she realized vaguely that this was a thing of which she, too, was a part. There grew within her a longing to reach out a little toward the big, full life of the college, to know something of the men and women who lived it. All this was very wrong, she told herself, for she had[Pg 35] come here to study hard. She had only two years in which to fit herself to teach. Here was the precious book-knowledge for which she had hungered and pinched so long. It must not be neglected, ever so little; but the enthusiasm of the boy with her was infectious. In her soul she took issue with the views of her room-mate, fortified as they were by the approval of Professor Grind.
In this rebellious mood she read on the Hall bulletin-board a notice of the reception to be given to new students by the Christian Associations. Here was a chance to satisfy that wicked craving without too great concession, for of course there would be no dancing and the auspices were so favorable. She spoke about it to Katherine Graham, a Junior, who was in Lillian Arnold's "set," to be sure, but who had put her arm around the homesick little Freshman one soft evening after dinner when the girls were strolling before the Hall, and had drawn her down the walk toward the Ninety-five Oak. Katherine was a fine, frank girl whose talk about the University and her love for the campus and its life stirred the new girl's pulses. She could listen with unguarded eagerness to this Junior because she knew her to be a student. Pocahontas slipped her arm wistfully 'round her friend's waist. To room with Miss Graham would have been perfect happiness.
"Of course you'll go," declared Katherine, when she had heard the Freshman's confidence regarding the reception. "It's slow, sometimes, but you'll meet the people you want to know."
So out came the plain graduation-dress, folded carefully away since the night she read the valedictory, three months ago; she sewed a rip in the gloves saved from the same occasion, and she took out the fan which her grandmother had given her, a wonderful fan she had considered it until she saw a few of Lillian's.
In the gymnasium where glistening bamboo and red geraniums screened the chest-weights along the walls, and feathery branches of pepper climbed luxuriantly over the inclined ladders, she found the crowd characteristic of this occasion,—the Freshman men at one end, the Freshman girls at the other, and between them a neutral zone of old students chatting gayly, oblivious of the purpose of the affair. Oh, but the reception committee! Save for these indefatigable martyrs, the Freshman sexes might have gazed wistfully at each other across the lines of upper class-men until the lights dipped and never been able to bow on the Quad next day. Important-looking persons with silk badges and worried faces circulated in a grim endeavor to "mix things up." One[Pg 37] of these wild-eyed people would dash into the crowd and haul some struggling upper class-man over to the feminine section. With his victim in tow, he would open conversation feverishly:
"Ah, permit me to introduce Mr. Oldman. Miss Newcome, Mr. Oldman. Isn't it warm to-night? Fine talk of the Doctor's, wasn't it? Well, you must excuse me; we're very busy," the last words dying in the distance as he sped away.
Pocahontas contrasted this chill with the warmth of church socials at home. She felt disappointed and dreadfully alone. Her sober-minded room-mate was bobbing like a pigeon before Professor Grind, enthusiastically telling him "how much inspiration she got from his courses;" Katherine Graham was lost in a swirl of upper class-men. The Freshman had half turned toward the dressing-room when out of the press came Jack Smith, big, wholesome-looking, still smiling with some memory of his latest conversation. Why did Hannah stop? It was certainly bold,—doubtless it was half-unconscious,—but stop she did, and a committee-man, wheeling suddenly, caught Smith, dashed through the preliminaries, and the Sophomore had[Pg 38] added Hannah Grant Daly to the list of his acquaintances.
Now "Cap" Smith had not come to this reception to meet Freshman girls—at any rate insignificant ones with spectacles and sandy hair; but no one could have told that he had not begged to be presented to this one.
"I'll have to ask you the same question we put to all," he began, smiling pleasantly; "what's your major?"
She would have given much to have answered something clever or interesting, as no doubt other girls did, but she could only stammer:
"You've answered so promptly I'll let you off the rest of the text,—there are forty-two questions in all, each more inquisitive than the last."
The Freshman giggled; she did not know just why, unless it was that his face and merry way inspired jollity.
"Have the committee on irrigation attended to you yet?"
"I don't know; I have registered," she faltered.
He laughed, and she blushed uncomfortably.
"Oh, pardon me," he said, "I must go slow with my slang; you've had only a few days to learn it. I'm just joshing the weakness of[Pg 39] the lemonade the Associations give us. Let's try some, though; shall we?"
They made their way to the lemonade booth. Such a vain, silly little Freshman she was, to be sweetly conscious that people looked after them as she passed along with this handsome, athletic young hero whom everybody admired. Lillian Arnold was in the booth, dividing her attention between filling glasses and entertaining four men. She gave Pocahontas a cool bow and cast a look at Smith which the Freshman interpreted "What are you doing with her?" At the same moment Lillian thought of a foolish confidence she had made to the dig when they were room-mates. Jack, however, was describing to Hannah the recent rush and the glory of her class, and Lillian's glances were lost upon him. The lemonade finished, he took the Freshman over to Professor Craig's mother, and left her with a pleasant fairy tale about meeting her again.
"Who's your friend?" laughed Perkins, as Smith dived back into his own element.
"Some little Roble dig. Don't ask me her name. I think people like that are really lonesome, Ted. Say, those Phis have trotted Haviland 'round long enough. Let's break up their interference."
Others came up to Mrs. Craig, and Hannah found herself introduced to a variety of men,[Pg 40] but she cared little if she met no one else just then. She stood watching Jack as he passed from group to group, chaffing merrily, shaking hands with many people. There was no one else in the room so well worth watching.
That night, while the Junior breathed regularly on her side of the alcove, Pocahontas lay a long time thinking dreamily. She knew he would be like that; somehow he had looked so the first day at the station with all those noisy boys. She should have answered something more than yes and no at the reception. He would think her stupid. They had given her advanced standing in Latin; perhaps he would be in the class when it met on Monday; it would be splendid if he were; lots of the boys walked to Roble with girls at half-past-twelve; she would ask him all about the football; they would not have to talk about the Latin;—she felt so small beside him as they went along the board walk—he looked down at her and laughed—there was a seat under the Ninety-five Oak—all the other people were talking, a long way off—the lemonade bowl under the tree—shall we—
She met him on Monday morning near the Chapel. He came loafing along the arcade one arm flung about "Pellams" Chase. He looked at her good-humoredly a second, then, without recognition, glanced over her head to the girl behind her.
Hannah's heart nearly choked her. His having forgotten her was so plain, that she had not dared to bow, though she had half done so. She hoped no one had noticed her face. She bit her lips. He had not meant to do it; on the bed in her room she told herself this over and over again. Their meeting in the gymnasium had lasted less than ten minutes. It was two days ago. She was not like the other college girls he knew. Why should he remember her, having seen her once? He had been very pleasant to her at the reception. She went resolutely down to luncheon. Cap. Smith was still her hero.
One day when from the fences along the pastures exultant meadow-larks were shouting "April," trilling the "r" ecstatically, and mild-hearted people were out after golden poppies, the Encina Freshmen, dark-browed plotters every villain of them, met in Pete Halleck's room. There was trouble brewing. First, Pete counted them with an air of mystery; then he pulled down the window shades, shut the transoms, and drew from the wash-stand a tangled mass of rope, two cans of paint and a coil of wire. With these beside him on the floor, he harangued the mob.
"We have got to get a rush out of 'em,[Pg 42] fellows," he said, keeping his voice discreetly low, "and if they won't scrap, we'll force 'em. How many of you remember how to tie a knot?"
"We've had experience enough," spoke up a roly-poly boy; "it's the Sophs who need a lesson in tying."
"And we'll give it!"
Halleck drew up and looked so melodramatically important that the meeting snickered behind their collective hands. Just then there came a knock at the door. Halleck put his fingers to his lips; the crowd sat as if petrified; the roly-poly conspirator felt his bravado oozing out in youthful perspiration. The knocking came again, more imperatively, then a voice.
"Let me in, you crazy Freshies."
Silence in the room.
"Let me in. I know about you. You're all in there, talking rush. Hang your little pink skins, let me in!"
Still no answer.
"Pete Halleck, unlock your door. It's I—it's Frank Lyman, and I've something to say to you babies. Open up!"
The composite face of the gathering fell. With Lyman against them, who could be for them?—Frank Lyman, oracle of Encina and father-confessor of Freshmen!
Pete threw the paraphernalia into his wardrobe.
"The game's up, fellows."
He opened the door, admitting the Senior, and with him, alas! Sophomore Smith, President of his class. The sight of the enemy stirred Halleck.
"Say, shall we tie up the two of them?" cried he, when he had locked the door.
"Key down, Freshie, key down," said the Senior. "You boys pain me to the limit. Aren't you satisfied with tying up the Sophomores once without scrapping the whole year through?"
"What do you know about our wanting to scrap?"
"I'm on to you, Peter: You have a ton of rope and a barrel of paint somewhere about your den, and you're going out to-morrow to tie up the Sophs at the ball game. Now you fellows have had three rushes this year; when are you going to quit and give us a rest?"
Halleck held the position that delighted his soul,—center stage,—and he was a respecter of neither the Faculty nor his seniors.
"We're going to quit when we get even with you for pulling twenty-five lone Freshmen out of the Hall at night and making them rush against the whole Sophomore class; then's when we're going to quit. Observe?"
Halleck's shamefully fresh manner revived the drooping spirits of his men.
"See here, we'll call it off if you will," put in the Sophomore president.
"Yes, I guess you will," drawled Halleck. The mob howled. Smith's class was notoriously weaker at fighting than their own.
"We've rushed you three times," went on Cap; "you licked us the first time we fought; then you pulled us out in the mud the night after and did it again; but we got you the next week by strategy!"
"By a sneaking trick!"
"That's right!" chimed the Freshmen, "Pete's dead right!"
"Well, say," persisted Smith, "we're willing to quit as it is. The score stands two to one for you fellows, too."
"Two to nothing!" and again the infant class shouted approval while Lyman, the Senior, looked on amused.
"I really have a chap for you children," he said. "Just because rushing happens to be your game, you run it to death. How do you suppose the Faculty are going to look at this thing? If you want rushing choked off entirely next year, just keep on."
Airily ignoring Lyman's speech, Pete Halleck put his chin out at the Sophomore.
"Then you won't rush?"
"No," answered Cap, perfectly calm, "not even if you carry canes."
Halleck's face shone.
"Ai—i, boys, that's what we'll do! We'll get out there with canes to-morrow and we'll make 'em scrap!"
"Yes, you will! I believe it," sneered Smith. "You fellows are just fresh enough to queer yourselves that way."
"We'll queer you!" cried a valiant youngster "if you don't rush to-morrow we'll tie up your baseball team and cart 'em off to Redwood."
"Yes, sir, and we'll show you how a class president looks braided with bailing-rope,—we'll show you the pretty picture in a mirror, Mr. President,—even if we have to haul you out of the arms of twenty Roble dames."
Pete had taken his class-mates by storm and they piped acquiescence in thin Freshman voices. Smith flushed angrily.
Here Lyman interfered.
"All right, make joshes of yourselves if you want to," he said, not so good-natured as at first. "We have given you warning. Just open that door and you may go on with your little conspiracy."
"Come again when you can't stay so long," wittily yelled Pete down the hall. "I'll meet you on the field to-morrow."
"Oh, we'll be there," called back Lyman[Pg 46] over his shoulder. "So will the Faculty," and with this covert hint the peacemakers turned the corner.
The sun shown brightly on the red-brown earth of the diamond when the Freshmen, the Sophomores and the Faculty met, according to agreement. The enterprising student-body management had chalked the Quad in conspicuous places:
RUSH of the YEAR,
Don't Miss It!
and the college responded. The co-eds were there, radiant in the snowiest of duck shirts, the gayest of shirt-waists. With them were "ladies' men," in variegated golf-stockings and gorgeous hat-bands. The Freshmen, gathered near first base, contrasted disreputably with this display; they wore old clothes, ragged hats, and they carried a miscellaneous collection of canes, borrowed from Juniors or stolen from Sophomores.
These stalwarts of the latest class were loaded with horns and noise-machines. Defiance exhaled from them. It was an impressive object-lesson on the evils of Freshman victories.
A few sensible Juniors went over and tried to quell their disturbance, but the infants[Pg 47] were beyond any control of their class fathers; they had at their head the redoubtable Pete Halleck, with his perverted sense of the proprieties, and their uproar moderated not a bit. The Juniors returned to the bleachers, shaking their heads in disgust. Professor Grind, of the Committee on Student Affairs, was observed to write in his note-book. The Sophomores who saw this rejoiced that they were not in rushing clothes. Still the racket went on.
Jack Smith, in spotless tennis flannels, sat on the bleachers. Some girls from San Francisco, and one in particular as far as Cap was concerned, had come down with Tom Ashley's mother that morning, and he brought them over to the game. Pete Halleck picked him out at once and reminded the others of their promise.
Hannah Grant Daly, who did not know him to speak to, also picked him out. To her he looked more goodly than ever this afternoon, contrasted with the uncouthness of Halleck and others of her class. She watched him covertly, laughing and talking with the town girl beside him. He had laughed and talked very much like that to her, once, but he had forgotten it. That was natural; she had forgiven it long ago. Lillian Arnold, in the brightest of Easter hats, watched him, too.
The game was not exciting. The Fresh[Pg 48]men were badly outplayed; the Sophomores galloped around the bases, and the babies' insolence grew with their opponents' score. As the last inning dragged its tedious length, the prospect of the Freshmen forcing a rush had become the important thing with the crowd. The fighting class limbered up for action. Now their third man struck out and the catcher's mask was off.
"Ready!" Pete Halleck's voice came out of the silence of the waiting crowd.
"All set!" and the class was up and off on a trot toward the Sophomore players, who were trying not to walk away any faster than was usual. One after another the baseball men were overtaken and went down in clouds of dust and hard language.
Yet the Sophomores would not rush. Frank Lyman had exhorted them simply, while the Freshmen were attacking their nine. One or two of the hot-heads hurried to the Hall for old clothes, but the majority stood looking on, angry but quiet.
"Now for Smith!" yelled Halleck. His men turned toward the co-ed section of the bleachers.
"Shall we get out of this?" Cap asked Ashley.
"Get out nothing! Stay right here with the girls. They wouldn't have the gall."
But the lust of fight was in the Freshman[Pg 49] heart as the dust of fight was on the Freshman skin. They lined up, a ragged mass of impertinence, as near the women as they dared, and waited for the leader of the opposition. He chatted on, explaining the college rush to the girl with him, and gave no sign of moving.
"Shall we go in and take him?" asked an excited youngster.
"I'll give him a chance to come easy," said Halleck. He squared himself, adjusted his dusty hat, and went straight up the steps.
"Excuse me, Mr. Smith," said he, "you are forgetting an engagement you made with some of your friends yesterday."
This was the freshest thing in the history of the college. The Sophomore's fingers twitched.
"I think you can wait until later, Halleck," he said slowly. Then he turned to the girl.
From the time Halleck climbed the bleachers and went toward Smith and his guests, the spectators were stiff with astonishment; nobody did anything. They saw Halleck look for one moment into Smith's angry blue eyes, go down the steps, and bring back two big fellows. Before the Sophomore could move away from the girls, the three men had dragged him down the bleachers; one heave of Halleck's broad back and Smith was under[Pg 50] them, with his wind gone, and a Freshman was getting a rope ready.
Then just as Ashley tore down the steps in a rage, a slip of a girl darted past him and put her hands on Halleck's shoulders; a small, sandy-haired girl with blazing eyes.
"Untie him, you great brutes!"
The man with the rope stared at her irresolutely, furtively slipping the knot tighter. By this time, Halleck was on his feet again and had recovered from his surprise.
"Excuse me," he began.
The girl looked him in the eye.
"Get that rope off!"
She was just a little thing, but her gaze never wavered. The direct gaze is something that wild beasts and bullies, Freshmen or otherwise, cannot bear. Pete Halleck looked around for moral support, but his men were shame-faced and the bleachers were silent. He bent down and slipped the rope off Smith's feet.
With the rout of their leader the whole fighting class, weighing some ten tons in battle trim, vanished like chaff before the spirit of one Freshie co-ed. By twos and threes they slouched away, trying to look unconcerned.
She turned to the man she had rescued.
"Are you much hurt, Mr. Smith?" she asked, her voice sweet with sympathy.
The Sophomore president stood there, rumpled, winded, flaming with embarrassment. Away up on the bleachers a girl in an Easter hat tittered and a general laugh followed. That laugh brought Smith to himself, but, before he could turn to thank her, Hannah, with a swift, frightened glance at the people, had fled to the Quadrangle. With swelling bosom and eyes stinging with restrained tears she leaned her face against a cool pillar and watched the swallows circle mistily about the red tiling.
People, coming from the ball-ground, passed her, unnoticed in the shadow. A man's voice, ringing with merriment, cried:
"Poor old Captain! I never saw him have such a chap. It's pretty hard on a man to have a girl do the Pocahontas act like that!"
A peal of Roble laughter answered.
"Pocahontas! O—oh, that's a cute name for her!"
"It's a wise child that resembles its richest relative."
Walter Olcott Haviland came to Stanford in September at the age of eighteen, and was rushed by the fraternities.
There is nothing remarkable about this, unless considered from Haviland's point of view. With his High School pin illuminating the vest on which a mystic Greek symbol was ere long to shine, he passed down the line of inquisitive Sophomores in Encina lobby, and into the Den of the Bear, presented his receipt for the room he had prudently engaged months ahead, and was duly bestowed within those plain white walls between which the Freshman begins a charmed existence of four years or four months, as the Committee may determine.
It is recorded that once before Commencement two Seniors came from fraternity houses at opposite ends of the campus and slept together the last night, as they had slept their first, in their Freshman room at the Hall. They had been rivals and in warring[Pg 56] factions, but they lay down together in that place of beginnings, before a new heaven opened for them over a new earth. This is proof positive that you never forget your first room in the Hall. You may give it up for an attic in a chapter-house, you may go to live with young Freshleigh, with whom you are already chums, and whose apartment has the morning sun; but the first room is a foundation stone in your house of memories. Your trunk is brought in by the Student Transfer man (first lesson in self-help) and put down near the dreary-looking beds with their mattresses doubled on the foot-rail. Then, sitting down by the bare, shining table where, later on, theses are to be written and punches brewed, you stake out claims for the decorative material in your trunk. Certainly decorations are needed. The wardrobe stands forbiddingly against the wall. You will soon learn how to move it forward, reverse it, and adorn the back. The chilling whiteness of the walls is relieved only by one square, uncompromising mirror. An "Addersonian" tenderness has placed a yellow-flowered rug beside each bed. Otherwise, the place is barren.
If there is time before dinner, you swallow your loneliness and get out the home photographs and stand them up here and there, and the room is changed. These walls may[Pg 57] become a scrap-book of four years' association with Alma Mater; the wardrobe may be hidden with kodaks of the gang and its exploits; but to-day, before you have even met the gang, you come into your own.
The newly-arrived Haviland, in the throes of this emotion, looks about him. He has put upon the ugly commode sundry pictures of his graduating class at the High School, each one dressed in his best, each flanked by floral offerings, each holding the impressive diploma. Later, these portraits will be less prominent in this college room.
He looks at them with a feeling of pity. It must be hard not to come to college. He is a lucky boy. Sliding unobtrusively into the hall-way, he strikes up an acquaintance with some other social Freshman, and together they watch the upper class-men coming in. Man after man drifts into the arms of waiting friends. How well they all know one another! Gradually he learns who and what these men are, the Seniors who manage the Hall or edit the College papers, the 'Varsity idols, the men who make College life. Important beings they seem to the Freshman, men who have reached heights above his modest possibilities, heroes who are great in the land. After dinner he mingles in the stag dances on the second floor hall-way; finding that a fellow class-man has neglected[Pg 58] the graceful art, he takes him up on the third floor and teaches him the step. He is fitting in, you see. Then he hears the crowd surging into the lobby and picks up the chorus of "We'll rush the ball along," and before this first day is over he catches the contagion of that intangible, pervasive, never wholly fading thing, College spirit.
Jimmy Mason, Sophomore, hustling Student-Body assessments, drops in on him, and stops to chat awhile. Haviland learns that our team this year has lost such and such valuable men; that there are opportunities for a chap with football in him. The Freshman thinks of the day when the crowd at home cheered him as his school beat the Academy. He hands Mason the assessment money, being beautifully green yet. Like oases are these Freshmen to the Student-Body collector. Very likely the Sophomore rewards him by coming to his door, after the lights are out, at the head of a motley mob. They put him on the table, shivering in his nightie, and make derogatory remarks about his shape and his personal charms; then, having solemnly baptised him "Callipers," or whatever metaphorical name his physical architecture may suggest, they make him cavort for their delectation. If he shows modesty and courage in his unhappy obedience, he is greeted as a nice little boy and is introduced[Pg 59] to his tormentors, who explain that the ritual was offered from the kindest motives. Doubtless it is this knowledge that makes him enjoy so keenly the sacrifice of fellow class-men, at which he is permitted to be present the next evening.
When he is spoken to mysteriously one night by "Pellams" Chase, a Junior from the Row, and told to put on his oldest clothes and to get his trunk-rope ("to rope up a Sophomore's trunk this time," hints the Junior), for the first time he sees his class as a whole, and stands shoulder to shoulder with them in the first College rush. The subsequent pullings and haulings, the poundings and jammings of this experience are happily compensated for if Chase takes him when all is over, binds up his bruises and tells him about fights of other days when there were giants upon the campus. After this, the College is never the immense, far-away thing it has seemed. He has seen his own class-men together, he has measured his strength with the dread Sophs, he is a University man.
Long before this the fraternities have spotted him.
"What are you going to do next hour?"
Haviland had just come out from his[Pg 60] nine-thirty recitation and found "Cap" Smith waiting for him. Smith was a Beta Rho, and he had waited there in the same way for the same Freshman more than once in the month since the opening. It was Pellams who had discovered the boy, one night in Mason's room, where the Junior loafed half his time. Pellams had a big heart surely, for he had at once interested himself in Haviland, asking him over to dinner to meet the fellows. The Freshman knew it was the Juniors' duty to look after the infant class. This particular Junior was a College favorite,—Walt had seen that—and the boy from far-away New England went across the campus to the Row feeling that he was getting into good hands. The Rho house seemed about right. Dinner was a boisterous affair where the men took hands around the table and sang a rollicking accompaniment to Pellams' coon songs, strange table-manners that did not appear much to disturb Perkins' mother, who poured coffee at the end. Afterward they all sat out on the porch steps in the summer evening with their pipes, watching three of the men play catch. One of the fellows danced a shuffle while the rest stood around and clapped time and shouted, "Come on you Nigger!" They were very happy; it was a bully way to live; the homelike look of things appealed to the Freshman. Two of the fel[Pg 61]lows walked back to the Hall with him, and when they said good-night they shook his hand strongly and hoped they would see more of him.
This was the beginning. The college had become aware of his presence now. So far he had taken just nine meals that he had paid for, and had been away from the Hall one night out of four.
At the reception to the Freshmen he had been introduced to the same Faculty people six times over by members of as many fraternities, each presenting him as an individual entirely under their auspices and for whom they alone were responsible. Higgins, the sky-scraping Beta Phi, whom he had met only that evening, took him arm in arm up to the President's wife, and said:
"I want to introduce Mr. Haviland, a particular friend of mine. You will be good to him for my sake, won't you?" And the lady with a twinkle in her brown eyes, having recently promised to do the same for Jack Smith's sake, pledged her favors anew to the bewildered Walt.
Haviland did not quite understand this attitude of open arms. His first days in the Hall had not prepared him for it. He did not know that because he was well-bred, well-dressed and athletically promising, he was[Pg 62] generally voted the prize Freshman of the year.
Then came the bids. There were only a few of the crowds that did not spike him; three who were manifestly not of his style and two who never presumed to enter the game until the others had made their winnings. All sorts of methods had been used. The first bid came early; he was given twenty-four hours to answer it, as "the Gamma Chi Tau never wait for a man." The Freshman, however, getting riper in the sun of experience, interpreted this to mean fear of competition, and so "declined with assurances of continued friendship." There was a crowd who slapped him on the back and called him "old man." Once he had been fresh enough to tell them a story, and they had laughed so uproariously over it that he was dreadfully embarrassed. The hospitality of another set seemed to consist of a sly but systematic attempt to get him drunk for some mysterious purpose of their own. He had put some of them to bed and felt superior, which was fatal to their chances.
He had been to many varieties of dinner-tables. Some of them were homelike; the talk at others had robbed him of appetite.
"What do you think of our crowd?" asked Roach, keenly, after a particularly disagree[Pg 63]able meal at which there had been much coarseness and a wreck of a tablecloth.
"They seem to me to be about the most congenial fellows I ever met," answered the disgusted but tactful Haviland, and Roach, going back to his house, announced authoritatively that the boy was theirs if they wanted him.
By this time he had learned the art of dodging invitations and remaining non-committal when asked, "Well, Walt, are you going to do the right thing?" Many a set, piled upon the beds in a fraternity room, sat up late talking him over and wondering how he was "coming on."
The Beta Phis, for instance, were in painful doubt. They were conscious of a comparatively poor stack-up, but their rushing energy was admirable, and once the persecuted Haviland had been obliged to ask a Beta Rho to hide him from them. Pellams and Smith were merry at dinner that night.
In his heart, Walt had about decided on Beta Rho. This crowd treated him with well-bred cordiality but with far less effusiveness than the others. He was pleased when they had let him mix with them without permitting him to forget the gulf between. This had put him off his guard so that he had grown accustomed to them. Observing him expertly from the corners of their eyes, they[Pg 64] affected not to notice the way he blushed after having joined unconsciously in a Beta Rho song. One day he dropped over uninvited, and they understood. But in the first week of their acquaintance they had told him to hold off and be slow about pledging himself, and nothing more had been said so far.
On the night of the first rush, ending in complete victory for the Freshmen, Haviland had been so unfortunate as to clinch with Cap Smith, and he was largely responsible for the ignominious tying up of that husky Sophomore. He would much rather have been carted off himself, if it hadn't been for the class. He saw his Beta Rho chances vanishing. Pellams evidently did not know what had happened, he was so good to him after it, rubbing his bruises and dressing his scraped cheek. The next day Cap Smith came over and bid him to the fraternity. As a matter of principle, Haviland asked for a week to decide.
This indulgence was up to-day and now Cap was waiting for him after the second-hour class. Walt knew what answer he should give. He felt very contented.
"I got your mail for you," said Smith, handing him an envelope. "I've a letter of my own to read, so tackle yours while we walk along."
They went up toward the stock-farm, and[Pg 65] the boy opened his mother's letter and read eagerly the home news and the affectionate questions. She enclosed, she said, the check which his uncle, who was putting him through College, had sent for October. Following this were a few words that made him stare hard at the road before him, as he and Smith strolled on. "Your uncle writes," said the letter, "that when he was at Amherst he was a fraternity man, and thinks you ought to be one, and he would like to have you join the society to which he belonged, the Beta Phi. I am sure, Wo dear, you will follow his wishes in a matter like this. It is not much to do in return."
Poor Walt! The Beta Rhos had never seemed such smooth fellows as at this moment when he felt himself suddenly pledged to the Beta Phis. In his mind's eye the Phis passed before him, one by one, particularly a certain long, unprepossessing member who had stayed till after twelve one night and bored him with a dreary recital of the prominence of his house in College politics, of the stump speeches that a former brother, now a historical personage, had made in Mayfield for prohibition, to say nothing of the essay prizes in philology that another ancient Phi had won in the dim past, when the chapter must have been more prominent than at present. In comparison with this record, the[Pg 66] Rhos were numbskulls, dwelling in an amplified smoking-room, Walt must admit; their control of the Eleven and of the Glee Club was nothing. And now his future was black with philology prizes, with meals at which stew was a staple, and where only visitors had clean napkins.
The two fellows had by this time reached the trotting stables. They looked in at the beautiful, sleek racers, carefully blanketed and booted, and stroked an inquisitive nose or two, reached out over the white doors. Then they went on up the stock-farm yard and along the road to the bridge over San Francisquito. Here Smith stopped; leaning on the rail, he looked down at his blonde image in the shallow water below.
"Well, Professor, what's your answer? You ought to know your mind by this time, surely, and we want you bad, my boy."
"Cap, old man," began the Freshman, his voice a little husky, for he was sorely troubled, "you must know how I appreciate the way you fellows have treated me, and that I want you particularly for a friend." He stopped, but Smith kept silent. The fraternity had had refusals before; they usually began this way.
"I don't know just what I ought to say," went on the luckless Walt. "I really did think you were the crowd I should join, but something has come up and I can't say yes."
"What is it? Is it because you think we don't study enough? We do, though, a great deal more than it looks. This has been rushing season and we had to do the entertaining stunt a lot, and Pellams would give any crowd the look of bumming. We really do work hard the rest of the year."
"Oh, no," said Walt, "it isn't anything like that, Cap."
"There's somebody in the gang that you don't like, then; somebody that you don't know well and don't understand. Isn't that so? Who is it? You ought to tell me."
"I would, Cap, if that were the reason, but it isn't. I like every man of them all."
"What is it then?"
"Nothing that I can tell you." Poor Walt, he was ashamed of his uncle; Lyman at the Hall had told him that the whole Beta Phi fraternity was as scrubby as their Stanford chapter.
Cap's eyes had an angry gleam. "Somebody has been throwing mud," he said, kicking up a splinter from the bridge floor. "There are plenty of them to do it."
"It isn't that at all. I wouldn't be influenced that way," protested Haviland. "It's another matter."
"Well, I suppose this is final," said Smith, struggling hard with his disappointment. The[Pg 68] Freshman's past attitude had paved the way for a different answer.
"Let's not say that," Walt began slowly. "Give me a while longer, Cap; things may change. I had hoped—" He broke off;—he could never tell Smith—he had not until that very moment told himself—how much he had looked forward to being a Rho.
"Things may change," he said again as Smith turned savagely and started back. He was trying to compromise, but he had no idea how any change was to come about. He brooded over it in his room that night, and the more he pondered the more clearly he realized that the debt to his uncle stood in his way. Plainly, he was up against it. He made the foot of his iron bedstead jingle with a petulant kick, and, muttering the Phi yell in a savage tone, went off to sleep.
At luncheon the next day at the Phi house, the Freshman was so friendly and so gracious that two of the Chapter went out into the kitchen and shook hands. Had he not inquired solicitously about the fraternity's position in Amherst, had he not expressed great pleasure at learning of their high political standing back there? Never a word had they heard of his uncle, however. The Freshman who is in his own neighborhood does not donate additional arguments.
The Phi house was shaken to its founda[Pg 69]tions. This was the greatest piece of work for years. Walt was immediately invited to stay for dinner and to spend the night and the next day, but although it was Saturday, he declined. Even the tempting bait of a Populist campaign rally moved him not.
The days passed and Walter Olcott Haviland was an unhappy child. His sudden intimacy with the Phis could not escape the astonished Rhos; he was sensitive to the change in their manner, slight as it was. He would have been glad enough to have stayed out of fraternities altogether if it would have helped matters. There was a very jolly set in the Hall, men who had refused far better bids than the Phis. Jimmie Mason and Frank Lyman, "Peg" Langdon and Blake, the fullback; these fellows, as prominent as any in College, were in the dormitory crowd; they used one another's rooms and tobacco and clothes with the utmost good nature. Walt had been fond of the big building from his first day there; he could have had a happy time with this independent set.
He was not made any happier by Lyman's saying, "Whatever you do, don't join the Phis. They've no standing here, and you won't help yourself any." Freshmen usually listened to what Lyman said. But Haviland had thought and reasoned and struggled with himself, and had come to a conclusion. To[Pg 70] write to his uncle, "I have joined the Phis because you are one," would be worth any sacrifice. Perhaps he could work to improve the crowd a little after he was one of them. At least there was no reason why they need be his only friends.
He went to the lab one afternoon with his decision made. If the Phis asked him to dinner, he would go and put his head on the block.
As he came along toward the main entrance he saw Andrew Higgins, the longest, lankiest Phi of them all, bearing down upon him. His heart sank, but his resolution was firm, and he looked his fate in the face. When his executioner had almost reached him, somebody touched his shoulder; it was Smith.
"Before your frat brother gets hold of you," muttered Cap, drawing Walt aside, "I want to speak to you. The boys must have your final answer to-day."
The "frat brother" was not to be turned down. He loomed up steadily in their direction. Walt was miserable. It was the beginning of the end.
"I'll give it to-night," he said hurriedly, as the Phi reached them.
"Will you come to dinner?"
Haviland wanted one sunbeam before the darkness.
"Yes, I'll come, Cap," and turned to shake[Pg 71] hands with the Phi, whose invitation was frozen half-way in his throat. Now the Beta Phis were not of the people who let to-morrow get anything while to-day lasts, so Higgins asked Walt to come down after dinner for the night, and the unhappy boy, half-hearing, promised.
It was a gloomy dinner for the Freshman, baked funeral meats and he the corpse. Mrs. Perkins gave him a motherly smile and told him in a careful undertone that she was glad he was going to be one of her boys, after which he felt childishly close to tears. He sat out-doors with the others and smoked and joined weakly in the singing. The roses clinging to the porch had never been so sweet; the Rho dog had never nosed so affectionately against his shoulder. There was to be no substitute for this. He wished he had never seen the campus. His mood communicated itself to the others and things grew slow. One by one the fellows slipped away with various excuses. Finally Cap said:
"Come up to the room," and Haviland went up stairs with the emotions one carries to the dentist.
Smith threw himself on the bed and motioned Walt to a chair at his study table. They tried a little general conversation, but failed mournfully. The Freshman had a wretched feeling that this room was home to[Pg 72] him. He had slept here so often and he knew every athletic picture and trophy around it. There had been something said about his living here with Cap after Christmas. The clock ticked spitefully at him.
Smith's voice, deep and quiet, broke the pause.
"What's the good word, Professor?"
Walt swallowed a lump, nervously opened a book that lay on the table, then looked at the big red sweater on the bed, and said:
"I can't do it, Cap."
Smith kicked a pillow of which he thought a great deal almost into the grate, and said with fine scorn:
"When do you join the Phis?"
"I don't know," said Van, drearily.
"Well, I think you're nutty; it's the cheesiest gang in College."
The battle had begun. Walt might as well practice his defense at once, so he said with a little dignity:
"My uncle is a Phi, and it is his wish."
"So that is it!" Such a reason was no discredit to the Rhos; therefore it was the harder to accept. "You give me a jolt, Walt. Just because your uncle is in a rotten fraternity you must crawl into the heap, too. I'd see him hanged first before I'd queer myself with those yaps."
Cap went on even more impatiently, but the[Pg 73] Freshman heard not a word. He was staring at the book open before him.
"Cap, what book is this?"
"The fraternity catalogue."
"Ours, of course; whose did you think it was, the—"
Walt gave a hysterical whoop and flung himself over the footboard upon the astonished Smith. He rolled him over the bed and sent him to join the pillow on the floor; then, sitting up on the bed with tousled hair and shining eyes, he said:
"Cap, if you still want me, I say yes!"
"What's the matter with you?" asked the amazed Sophomore from the rug.
"Nothing!" shouted Walt. "I see the whole thing; uncle's awful writing—mother got it Phi instead of Rho—she doesn't know one from the other—his name's in your book. Hoo!" and he sprang on Smith again and lifted him bodily.
The Chapter had been waiting. Hearing propitious sounds, they came stringing in, and Haviland's explanation, with the celebration that followed it, took such a length of time that the longest, lankiest Phi fell asleep in the parlor and his lamp burned out about two.
The Rho fraternity called Walter Haviland "professor." Haviland was one of their pledged Freshmen. In rushing, a good nickname, gracefully used, is a great thing. It puts a Freshman considerably at his ease, and impresses him with the feeling that he belongs to the set.
The first day that Haviland came over to dinner, Bob Duncan, a Senior, spoke up from his end of the table: "Are you a relative of Lamb, the botany professor?"
"I have never heard that I am," answered the Freshman.
"Are you in any of his classes?"
"No; I'm not going to take botany."
"If you were, I don't believe the class could tell you apart. Doesn't he look like Lamb to beat the band, fellows?"
"He's a little heavier than the prof.," suggested Smith.
"Oh, perhaps he is a little," admitted Dun[Pg 78]can, "but their height is the same to an inch, and the facial resemblance is great."
"He can't look much like a professor," laughed the Freshman.
"He doesn't," said Duncan, "they've got him down in the register as an associate professor in botany, but that's all he has to his credit. He gets taken for a Freshman right along. New students ask him if he is registered and what his major is—sure they do."
"They say there was a big farmer who went in to register in botany and wouldn't do business with poor Lamb at all," said Perkins. "He said he wasn't so green as he looked, and he knew all about these students who make believe they're professors and give fake examinations. The professor was as red as a beet."
"I don't blame him," said Duncan. "Why, the man is married and has two children."
"Are you sure they're his," said Pellams, seriously. "I've seen them with him on the Quad, but I thought perhaps he'd borrowed them for effect, to keep off the Senior girls."
"The year he came here the Beta Phis tried to rush him, didn't they?" asked Smith. Duncan scowled across the table at the Sophomore. This was Haviland's first day at the house; they could josh other frats later, if he came their way; just now it was a break.
Ted Perkins interrupted tactfully. "Have[Pg 79] some of this Spanish goo? The English department here is crazy on theatricals. They will probably want you for a grand revival of the Comedy of Errors."
"If I were you," came in Smith, to cover up his slip, "I would go over and draw his salary some day. They would pay it all right if they didn't look twice and ask questions."
"Better look out," added Pellams, in his solemn drawl, "those babies of his will be claiming you in the Quad in front of all Roble some sunny day, and then you might just as well leave college!"
This table-talk gave the men an idea for a nickname, and so, when they knew the Freshman a little better, they slipped an arm through his and called him "Professor." It was really the most civilized nickname in the house.
One Thursday, at football practice, about two weeks after Haviland had agreed to join, Pellams spoke to him.
"Professor, on Saturday night you are to be initiated. Bring over your suit-case with a change of under-clothes and a pair of old shoes."
"I was going up to San Francisco on Saturday," murmured Haviland, his heart beating a bit faster, "but——"
"You have changed your mind," finished Pellams, quietly. "We will have dinner as[Pg 80] usual, and you will be on time, please. So long, Professor."
Haviland was not wholly at peace as he walked back to the dormitory. A Freshman never becomes especially hilarious in anticipating his initiation night; there is an uncertain certainty about it that he cannot entirely laugh away, however much natural bravery he may have, however hoary he may be in high school fraternity experience. At the chapter house, where things have been made so pleasant, careless remarks are dropped, full of sinister meaning. It is not nearly so comfortable there now, and Freshman Damocles wishes the suspense were over.
When the fateful Saturday dawned, Walter had a strong impulse to go to the city as he had originally planned. Pellams had explained to him that his having held out so long before agreeing to join would probably mean his "getting it unusually hard." He knew that of all the fraternities, the Rhos were the most severe in their initiations—one of the Rhos had told him so.
At the post-office that morning he met Professor Lamb starting for a day's botanizing in the foothills. He did not know the instructor, but he envied him as he leaned on his wheel and watched the botany man take the fence and start off across the brown pastures toward[Pg 81] the hills beyond the lake. There certainly was a strong resemblance.
"Oh," groaned the candidate for fraternity privileges, "I wish it was a case of his resembling me instead of my looking like him. I only wish I was the prof, now, I'd change places quickly enough. I'm afraid I'm a coward."
He wondered if they guessed how scared he was; he hoped not. He pedaled around to the courts, where Cap. Smith was waiting to play tennis, and he put on an infant bravado which secretly pleased the Sophomore. After a few sets Cap. put his racket under his arm.
"No more tennis, Professor," he said, with meaning; "you'd better rest most of the day. Get out your work for Monday, you won't feel much like studying to-morrow, you know, and don't forget to be at the house at six sharp." Then, since the Freshman had visibly wilted, Smith grinned all the way across the field.
Haviland suspected two other fellows in the Hall of being in a state of mind similar to his own, but as he had been instructed to keep the matter absolutely secret, he could not turn to them for relief. He worried through the long Saturday, making futile attacks on the work prescribed for Monday, strumming in an aimless way on his banjo, and finally writ[Pg 82]ing his mother a letter between the lines of which she at once read malaria.
Dinner at the Rho house was the most miserable meal he had ever choked his way through. A half-dozen graduates were present, and some men from the Berkeley chapter. These visitors seemed a solemn lot, and conversation included the candidates only now and then. During the lulls in the talk, the Freshmen made audible sounds trying to swallow their food; this was so embarrassing that they gave up the effort to eat, only gulping water now and then during talk. It was a relief when some one touched each Freshman quietly, and the condemned youngsters followed upstairs, their faces wearing pitiful dumb-victim-at-the-altar expressions, or trying with ghastly smiles to show how little they cared.
The young moon, sloping toward the shaggy rim of the Palo Alto hills soon after eight o'clock, looked down into the pasture lands back of the campus. There she saw Walter Haviland, blindfolded and with a rope about his waist. Three other Freshmen were in a similar condition in different parts of the field. Haviland had been intrusted to the tender mercy of Cap. Smith, a 'Varsity man, and Pellams Chase, greatest of all joshers. This was indeed a high honor. Two of the less distinguished members hovered about[Pg 83] them, eager to add their services. Their objective point was a fence skirted by a gully through which water ran in the winter time; into this gully they flung the luckless Walt and left him there while they took their ruthless course to a part of the field where another group of men had gathered.
The moon touched delicately the redwood trees upon the western ridge, then slipped down beyond them. With her last look into the field she saw Haviland lying on his face at the bottom of the gulch. She saw also Professor Lamb, of the botany department, hurrying home cross-country from the day's collecting on upper San Francisquito Creek, tired, dusty, bedraggled, thinking with an unscientific enthusiasm of the hot dinner awaiting his homecoming. The lingering moon, peering over the mountain edge, saw the instructor clear the fence and plunge into the shadowy gulch. Then, before she could see what happened next, the stern law of the solar system drew her reluctant down.
The four men who had charge of Haviland came back from their consultation with the others. When they were near the place where they had left their victim, a man appeared, climbing out. This called for investigation; they bounded along through the gulch and came up with the fellow. To their surprise it was Haviland with his bandage off and the[Pg 84] rope nowhere. It was the first time a man had ever tried to give them the slip. He should pay for it! Cap. Smith threw himself on the Freshman at the first glimpse of his face. In a jiffy there was a new bandage over his eyes and another rope coiled around his waist; this time it included his hands. He struggled resolutely, but in silence, for his breath had left him when he struck the ground with Smith on top.
They seized him firmly and ran him at breakneck speed over a terrible course, heading for an old well which waters a back pasture. Here they stopped, spent with running.
"On your knees, Professor!" gasped Pellams, with as much authority as his lack of breath would allow.
The panting victim remained standing.
"Down!" accompanied by a resounding blow of a barrel stave.
Still no movement, but a gurgle was heard as though speech was being labored for.
The unfortunate creature sprawled beside the well, but struggled up again to a half-kneeling posture.
"This—must—stop!" he gasped, painfully. "It—is—an—outrage. I—am——"
"No levity, sir!" said Smith. "You've got to do what we say, Professor, or you won't get in at all."
"I don't—want—to—get—in," panted the poor wretch in desperate protest. "It's—a—mistake—I——"
"See here, Professor; where's your nerve? Be a man! You'll never make a Rho at this rate. Brace up, for Heaven's sake! Rise, Neophyte."
They gave the rope a cruel wrench, which brought their captive to his feet.
"Let's kill him," whispered one of the men. Never before had there been so shameful a display of the white feather.
"We'll duck him."
They brought their Freshman to the brink of the well. They tightened the rope under his arms, and, before he could divine their intentions, they were lowering him down the slippery side. When his feet struck the cold water he struggled violently, shouting something which his splashing and the echo of the well made unintelligible. Presently they hoisted him, dripping and speechless with rage.
"Thou hast now been cleansed of thy sin and cowardice, O Neophyte," declaimed Pellams. "Forward to the joys that await thee!"
They dragged him home on the run, taking the road this time and making all haste to the house. The half-dead initiate had to be carried upstairs. Smith took off the rope and told him to strip for a bath. The victim sat[Pg 86] on the edge of the Sophomore's bed and shook his head feebly. He was evidently exhausted.
"Come, hurry up, Haviland," said Cap. He felt a brutal impatience to see what the barrel staves had done to the fellow's back. "Get bathed and put on your dry clothes and be ready for the feed."
The initiate raised his hands slowly and untied the bandage. He blinked a moment at Smith, then he said huskily, "I am not Haviland, Mr. Smith, nor do I want any 'feed.' I want to know what this means." There was no anger in his voice, only great weariness.
The freezing truth dawned on the horrified student. His first impulse was to rush out of the house and to keep running. He managed to stammer:
"I don't know where Haviland is," muttered the tired instructor. "I don't know who Haviland is. If I have taken his place I am ready to change again." He looked down upon his clothes, stuccoed with tarweed burrs and wet mud.
Then Jack Smith laughed aloud.
"Professor, when we've found Haviland, and you've seen him, you'll understand the whole horrible mistake, and——"
"There was no mistake," said the other, coldly, "you called me Professor while you were beating me."
This only set Smith off again.
"That's our name for Haviland. You see he looks like you—oh, I can't explain it to you, Professor; but when you've seen the man you'll forgive us, I know you will. And you've simply got to stay to our feed now, if we have to tie you up again to keep you here."
Professor Lamb, of the botany department, smiled wanly.
"I think I will take a bath, anyway," he sighed.
"Frank Lyman, Football Manager, Stanford University:
"Blake died three forty-five. Body going East. I return five train. Diemann."
When he had sent this message to the University, the instructor in Psychology went gloomily down to the Third and Townsend Street station.
There was nothing more to be done just then. He had telegraphed to the dead athlete's parents; the undertakers had their instructions about shipping the body to Ohio, and the hospital bills would be arranged for later. He slipped into a single seat at the back of the car to avoid the chance of a travelling acquaintance. Now that the business part of it was over, he could not talk to anyone.
The whole thing had been so sudden that it was hard to feel the truth. Barely a week ago[Pg 92] he had stood on the practice field at the University, following Blake's splendid play and listening to the shouting of the crowded bleachers, who idolized their great fullback with the absolute idolatry of a college crowd. It was not easy to believe that all this physical manhood, all this intellectual promise, had been snuffed out like a candle before their very eyes.
Diemann pressed his face against the car window and stared out at the terraced produce gardens slipping dimly by in the early November dusk. Between him and the dead fullback there had been such companionship as comes now and then to an instructor under thirty and a man nearing the end of his college course. When Diemann, just home from Germany, came West to teach Psychology, he found young Blake the college hero. The new instructor had himself been a noted back; he still hovered somewhere between enthusiast and fiend. At Stanford he at once identified himself with the football men, and they welcomed him gladly as assistant coach. During that first season, two years ago, he had come to know and like Fred Blake. Later, the fullback took Diemann's course in Psychology, and to the elder man's gratification, developed a passion for the subject. The instructor recognized the quality of the athlete's mind, and before long the two were[Pg 93] working together, reading and discussing along the line of the teacher's special interest.
Coming home from the sober materialism of Leipzig, Diemann had realized more fully than ever how thoroughly the interest in matters occult had pervaded the mind of his native country. To this department of Psychology he turned with an admitted interest in things unseen and a confidence in the restraint of his University training. He felt that he stood barely upon the threshold of the subject, held back by material prejudice and the conservatism of little faith; yet his enthusiasm grew daily. He weighed the evidence of phenomena with an impartiality that other people pronounced belief. The attitude of those about him was for the most part unsympathetic. Some to whom he had made furtive confidences called him "spooky," a spiritualist; but he was merely an investigator, trying to be fair. It was an alluring study; perhaps he ran the risk of over-enthusiasm—he had known people who had spiritualized the palpably material—but he was guarding against this danger; it would take an exceptional impulse ever to get him to that point.
It might be that some such temptation was coming to him now. He had just seen his friend pass into perfect knowledge. Blake had said something to him at the last that[Pg 94] still ran in his ears, above the rumble of the train. "I will come back, if there is anything in it all."
Diemann, peering out into the deepening gloom toward the bay shore faintly white in the luminous mist, thought over this last interview of theirs; he was finding it hard to realize that their friendship had ended.
Only eight days before, he remembered, Blake first complained. It was at the practice, and Diemann had given him a shot about his listless work. Fred had answered:
"I can't help it, Die; I feel dead, somehow. I'm afraid I'm going stale, after all."
He recalled the drawn look on Fred's face. But the boy would come out the next night, for there was only a week before the team would leave for the Springs, and so much had to be done that the captain simply couldn't lay off. Toward the end of the practice, he collapsed. With his arm over Lyman's shoulder he had gone back to the Hall, dragging his feet heavily, while the crowd sat on the bleachers, quiet and frightened. Then the pain came, tearing its way into the heroic body, and the specialist hurriedly summoned from San Francisco had said that they must get him to the hospital.
Now it was all over, and Diemann was following his melancholy telegram to college. He could guess the effect of the news. A[Pg 95] week ago the knowledge of Blake's illness had staggered them; the college had grown sick at heart; the city papers published details and the hopes of Berkeley bounded to certainty of victory, for there was only one Blake. Without him the Stanford team was nothing exceptional, and common estimate gave the chance to California. The Stanford management did the only thing they could do by putting in Ashley, the scrub fullback; but this did not help matters materially. Ashley was a man of beautiful physique, and the most conscientious player on the field. There he stopped. He utterly lacked the head-work that Blake put into the game.
For the star fullback had possessed the football instinct. Beyond his quickness and dash, he had the mysterious faculty of staying with the ball. If he were breaking the line, he placed the hole the fraction of an instant before anyone else perceived it. They used to put him at quarterback in defensive work, and he knew by inspiration where the play was going, so that the line felt confident with him at their backs.
Tom Ashley had nothing of all this. He punted as well as the 'Varsity man, generally better, at the beginning of the season; but was slow with his kick, often fatally slow when the 'Varsity broke through the scrub line. He was late in starting, too, though a[Pg 96] strong runner when out in the field. The chief beauty of his game was a quick and certain straight-arm. At another time he might have easily been the 'Varsity fullback, for he put up a hard, steady game from one end of the season to the other; but he had come to college with Blake, and the position had been out of the question. Besides, there were a couple of star halves; he was not good at end, either. So he staid on the Scrub eleven, and worked doggedly for three years.
Diemann lay back in the car seat and aimlessly thought of his work with the substitute the week of Fred's illness. He had done his best with Ashley, trying to instill into him something of the other's style and dash. He had talked with him long and carefully, showing him the subtle points of Blake's game. During the few practices following the star's departure he had watched the new man faithfully through every play, giving him all his time. He was sorry for the sub. A man could be placed in no more exacting position.
Ordinarily, such a chance would have been a god-send to a scrub player, for the second-eleven man is the type of the Great Unthanked. Diemann thought of the three months through which the scrub trains religiously, sacrificing beloved pipe, or sorority dance, or week's end trip to Mayfield, or to the Orpheum in town; leaving the "gang"[Pg 97] singing in the moonlit Quad, while he turns in at ten according to pledge; faring day after day on the same service of rare beef and oatmeal water; getting pounded and battered about over a hard field every afternoon. Ashley had had three years of this sort of thing—and all for what? At best, to squat in football clothes on the side-lines, Thanksgiving day, with Blake's or Smith's sweater around his neck, waiting for the accident that may give the game to Berkeley at the same time that it lets him trot out on the field, while the crowd calls out to him encouragingly, although they are sick at heart. He goes through each season borne up by the excitement, working breast to breast with the honored 'Varsity, but lost in their mighty shadow. When the big day comes he slips back into the great, wild crowd that lifts the team to its shoulders; worship is not for him, no, nor remembrance either, in that hour of homage. Such men, to the bleachers, are but working material for the 'Varsity; the scrub player is part of an inorganic thing—until his chance comes.
Yet, when fortune gave Ashley his chance he was not to be envied. To be put suddenly, at the last moment almost, into the shoes of the college hero, when the hopes of the University had been centered in that one man, this was too much for any fellow. In[Pg 98] his docile way the substitute went into the trying place, working along as faithfully, and to all appearance with as little concern, as in his old position. Secretly, the responsibility wore upon him. It was a hopeless undertaking to be like Blake; but everybody expected it of him. He tried his best to grasp the patient coaching of Diemann and to put it in play at the right time, but he never seemed quick enough; that cursed slowness of his came in to show how futile it all was. Everything he did or could do as a football man was made negative by the fact that he was in Blake's place. It was a hard graft.
Diemann had known all along what the fellow was suffering, and he pitied him. According to Ashley's room-mate, the boy talked in his sleep, all night sometimes, chiefly about Blake and the play. If they did not look sharp, the coach said to himself, there might be another stale man on their hands.
Diemann had been thinking of this that very morning when he got the doctor's telegram. The shock had driven out every thought of Ashley and the team. All through his work with the sub it had not occurred to him that anything fatal could come to Blake, he had been doing so well; then, without warning, came the message saying that he was sinking. He had got there just in time. Now it was all over and he was going[Pg 99] back to college, where Fred would never hear them shout for him again, never feel an arm about him in the long walks over the hills.
When the train drew into Palo Alto, Frank Lyman, the football manager, quiet and sober-faced, stood under the station-light.
"Can you come to dinner with me?" asked Diemann.
The two rode along under the oaks to the instructor's Palo Alto boarding-house. When they were alone upstairs, the manager said:
"Will you tell me about it? You got up there all right?"
"Yes," said the other, slowly; "not any too soon. The boy was conscious at the last, and knew me and talked a bit. It was all football, pretty much. I don't think he was quite clear enough to talk about other things."
"What did he say—that is, anything special?"
"No; he said he was more than sorry that he wasn't going to get in the game; it was his last and he wanted to play, but, of course, it wasn't his fault, and the college wouldn't think he had thrown them down. He'd never been a quitter, he said."
"No, never," said the manager.
"He went on in that strain a good deal; said that he wished that he could have stayed longer, just to play for them again. At the[Pg 100] end he pressed my hand and said: 'I'll come back somehow, Die, if there is anything in it.'"
The Psychology instructor had spoken half in revery. He added quickly: "He was pretty well gone then, poor old chap, and wandering a little, and soon after that, why, he went over the line."
He was sorry for having let that sentence slip out. The student would not understand it; he could not know what those last words of Blake's had meant to him, who saw their meaning. Lyman would only think it a bit of ghastly humor that need not have been repeated. But the manager did not take it so, evidently.
"That reminds me of something, Diemann," he said. "I haven't talked it over with anyone yet, because everybody is sour-balled enough as it is. It's about Ashley. I'm afraid he is going stale."
"Yes?" said Diemann, with dull interest, "I've rather been afraid of it."
"Of course, I knew he was up on his toes about his job, but I didn't know just how bad it was until this afternoon. You see, you weren't here, and after practice there were things to speak about, so I walked over to the Hall with him. Then I thought I'd rub him myself, because Billy is overworked, you know. He didn't answer questions for a[Pg 101] time, but lay quite still and looked at me, yet I don't think he saw me at all. He began to talk away, speaking of himself, in the third person, mind you, and about his poor play and all that. He was as clean nutty as any man you ever saw; as near as I could make out he thought he was Fred."
Diemann faced the manager.
"What time was this, Frank?"
"About five, I think. Shortly afterward I got your telegram. He went on giving the straightest kind of football talk; but he was no more himself all the time than I am he. This went on for several minutes; then he got clear again. Pretty soon he rose and said he was faint, but guessed he was all right. I didn't know whether to speak to the doctor or not. Now, that sort of thing won't do; the man can't have such attacks and keep in shape. If he goes stale, where will we be?"
"He talked like Blake, did he?"
"Yes, really he did. He had even Fred's little way of sliding over his r's. Being troubled about having Fred's place has unstrung him. You've noticed his absent-mindedness out on the field? I know Ashley pretty well; he's always been sensitive as to what people think about him; he likes to feel that he's doing what you expect of him. He was struck on the head to-day; I don't doubt that's what[Pg 102] made him a little off. Still, his nervous condition must be bad."
Diemann rose and knocked the ashes out of his pipe.
"Yes," said he, thoughtfully, "we must watch him. Perhaps we ought to speak to Dr. Forest; but I'll look after him a while first."
"Very well. We won't have any practice to-morrow, out of respect to Fred; we couldn't stand it, any of us; that will give Ashley a rest, then Friday we have the last practice before going to the Springs."
"I am going up there with you. I think I'll turn in early to-night; I'm pretty well knocked. I'll see you in the Quad before noon to-morrow."
Lyman went, and the Psychology man, refilling his pipe, stared at the fire and smoked until midnight.
"I don't know," he thought, as he settled into bed, "it may be only a case of dual personality, it may be something greater. I've got where I must guard against myself."
With an intensified interest, the coach resumed his work over Ashley. He waited for a recurrence of the phenomenon which Lyman had marked and he yielded again to the general excitement over the approaching contest. Absorbed in the two unrelated in[Pg 103]terests, he gradually came to connect them. This he kept to himself.
The last campus practice was half over, the bleachers were crowded. Across the field the confirmed fiends were standing along the ropes to get a nearer view of that tangle of human bodies, not a movement of which escaped them. On the side-lines the privileged advisers, from rubbers and Freshman manager up to associate coach, squatted on the adobe, careless of their clothes.
The whole University had come out. An air of sorrow hung over everything, the rooters were silent, and the teams played listlessly.
Frank Lyman went over where the wildest howlers usually sat.
"Boys," he said, "we can't send the men away like this, it would take them a week to get over it. We must have some yelling. We're not honoring the memory of Blake this way. Do you know what his last words were? He said to Professor Diemann, 'They know I never was a quitter.' Do you think he would like a practice like this?"
Then the crowd started up and gave the yell as one man, and the others joined in until something like the usual demonstration arose about the field, and the 'Varsity, feeling the inspiration, bent down and hammered away at the Scrubs as they meant to do against the[Pg 104] Blue and Gold on Thanksgiving day. Here and there a fraternity dog, showing his head between a pair of golf-clad knees, joined the quick, sharp yell of the people about him with an imitation that raised a laugh. When the bleachers were still just before a big play, one could hear in the breathless silence the slap of the canvas suits, the thud of heavy shoes, the sniffling of men just out of a scrimmage. Far across the bay, the hills that were cool and blue when practice began, grew luminously red in the level light of the dying rays; against the fading color of the west, the power-house chimney rose picturesquely dark; the swift, elusive twilight of California settled down on Santa Clara's broad acres, so that Diemann had to stare hard to follow Ashley's play. Then the whistle sounded, sharp in the still air, and the teams came trotting to the side-lines to take their sweaters and caps from devoted admirers and to stroll off, arm over shoulder, with people who minded not in the least the campus dirt those heroes had been gathering.
Diemann took Ashley's arm. "Let's walk together," he said.
The substitute fullback had been playing hard ball. The gloom hanging over the first half of the practice had affected him strongly and he had flung himself into the game, trying to forget, to cast off the foolish sense of[Pg 105] an implied reproach. Diemann could see that he was very tired. He made him lean upon him, and they started for the Hall. Suddenly he realized that the football man was not answering questions, that the weight on his own shoulder was growing heavier. He glanced up into Ashley's face; there was an absent look in the man's eyes.
"Fred!" whispered Diemann sharply in his ear.
"Yes?" answered the fullback; then he shook himself and said:
"It's chilly, Die, I'm wet. Let's get in."
Some fifteen minutes later, the two came down the corridor toward the training table.
"Won't you stay to dinner, Diemann?"
"No, I must go down, and you are late as it is. Hurry along in."
"All right. I'm not going stale if I can help it. I just felt a little faint over there; I got pretty tired."
Diemann stepped up closer to him beside the curving balustrade and looked the football man steadily in the eyes.
"You are playing more like Blake every day," he said.
"I wish I were."
"We are going to the Springs to-morrow," went on the coach, "and you can rest. By the way, if I were you I wouldn't say anything[Pg 106] about your feeling faint just now. It would only trouble Lyman and the rest of the boys."
"What does it all mean?" Diemann mused as the palms bordering the bicycle path flashed by him. "There was something about him like Fred, in his way of speaking, and some of the things he said about the game, but it stopped there. With all my questioning, I never got a word that belonged to us two alone. I suppose I must admit that it is merely the memory of the subjective mind, a case of dual personality brought on by hyper-æsthetic conditions. Oh, if it were only the other thing, if I only could know! But it can't be; he would give me some clue, some sign. Then again the substitution has not come at a critical time, only after the practice, when Ashley is tired. If it were Fred, he would appear in the play, he would come at a time like that, if there is anything in it."
Diemann gripped his handle-bar tightly as he shot through the sandstone gates.
"Oh," he thought, "whatever it is, if it would only come stronger, if I could only be sure!"
On Thanksgiving morning when the long special runs up on the University track and stops between the Library and Encina, the flaming bunting looped along its sides starts the excitement of the day. Everybody is out[Pg 107] on the walk, bristling with the College cardinal, from Professor Grind and his wife to the Jap who cleans house Saturdays. If there is anyone who cannot or does not want to go up to town to-day, he has hidden himself in grief or shame. The President wears a ribbon in his coat, and talks gravely with Professor Diemann, who has been at the Springs with the team. A knot of students have already determined to get the Doctor to lead the yell when he comes in to the grounds. They know he will do it; he is as full of the spirit of the day as any of them.
The engine whistles it, the crowd shouts it, and the hills give it back again as the laden train slips down to the main line and starts on its way to town. Streaming with cardinal bunting, it looks like a burning thing as it rushes over the marsh land, sending the horses in the field snorting away, and bringing women to the doors of cottages along the tracks. In their excitement the delirious Sophomores and Juniors hang out of the windows and throw kisses wildly to these women, who grin and wave back, doubtless[Pg 108] saying something about "them crazy students." A placid red cow is greeted with cheers, the scarlet under-flannels of hard-working South San Francisco, flapping merrily from the line in the November breeze, fan the frenzy, while the engine toots the yell and the car-windows are aflame with gleaming flags.
From now on the students besiege the city, and the town is theirs as surely as if the Mayor had met them at its entrance with a symbolic golden key. Shop windows are brilliant with the rival colors, the streets are a shifting riot of red and blue and yellow, with a plague-spot here and there where some fanatics have striped their derby hats with blue and gold ribbon, or a color-blind Stanford man flaunts a villainously purple chrysanthemum. On the curbing, fakirs are selling shining red Christmas berries and violets and great bursting carnations, and chrysanthemums like yellow ostrich-plumes.
Through all this splendor you keep close to Professor Diemann, for you know he is going to the hotel where the team is, and that stalwart lineman you are thinking of most to-day is up there with them. You slip upstairs under the protecting shadow of the associate coach, passing the suspicious eyes of the trainers and the hurried, unsympathetic glance of Lyman, the manager, and you find[Pg 109] your particular hero lying on his bed in all the glory of his new sweater with its clean white S, a great fresh specimen of the lustiest student-body in the world. You take his hand, almost afraid to squeeze it tightly, lest you cause some harm to the big frame in which your hopes are centered, and you tell him how glad you are he has made the team and that we are bound to win. And if this is his first game, or if some man has pressed him dangerously for the position he had last year, he will smile and say, "We'll do our best." Then the rubber comes in and you slip away, wondering why the beneficence of the Creator to man on earth should have made one fellow like your idol up there on the bed and another like you, crawling unnoticed into the street, throwing out your thin, incapable legs in a quick walk to join your crowd at the restaurant.
Diemann found Ashley quiet in his room. The fullback was in splendid fettle; the week at the Springs had done him a world of good. There was no staleness about him now. It had helped him to be away from the College, away from that excited crowd that sat on the bleachers and watched him play, demanding that he be like Blake, who had died. He breathed more easily in the quiet air of the mountains where the team had secret practice. People stopped urging him to be like[Pg 110] Blake; only Diemann went over the thing again and again, explaining, reminding. Now Thanksgiving had come, and the substitute fullback had never felt better in his life. He would do his best, and they could not say he had not tried.
The manager was radiant over Ashley's condition, and the other men slapped Tom's big shoulders and said that he would put up a good game for the College. Diemann alone seemed sour-balled. The rest of them knew how Blake's death had broken him up, but that was no reason, Lyman said, why he need keep nagging the new fullback about Fred. The College realized that the two men were hopelessly different, and they were fairly reconciled by this time. If the boy played the best that was in him, the team might make it in spite of the odds. It was too bad to take the spirit out of him by constantly suggesting that he play like Blake. The manager said this to Diemann, but the coach only shook his head and answered:
"It won't do any harm, Frank, and it may possibly work him up to something like Fred's game."
But a week's watching at the Springs had made Diemann despondent. The phenomenon he had witnessed the evening of the last practice had not appeared again. He had allowed his theories to lead him away into im[Pg 111]possible hopes. The man on the bed was Ashley, slow, normal, in perfect condition, hopeless, and Ashley he would remain. The chance for a psychic manifestation ceased when Ashley's football worry was over. Opportunity had come and gone, unfruitfully.
That afternoon, the athletic grounds were banked with great flower-beds of people, where red and blue and yellow blossomed and faded and burst out again as the teams swayed back and forward on the white-lined gridiron between. The wild noise of the college yells greeting the teams, the taunting horns that shattered the music of the rival bands, the shrill treble of gamins who had climbed over impossible fences, the hoarse bellow of the brown paper megaphones,—all this tumult had hushed suddenly into a tense, aching silence in which fingers dug into board seats and College hearts stopped beating when the teams faced each other for the kick-off.
The uproar boomed forth again, and presently the Stanford bleachers became silent from breathless watching. The first five minutes of play meant most to the cardinal. In that dozen rushes, they could tell whether there was a chance of winning or whether the hope of victory had died with Blake. The first Berkeley play went at the line and crumpled up without gain; again it held and[Pg 112] again, until the crowd felt that there was more than hope, that the Stanford stone-wall defense would win out once more. Yet so closely were the teams matched that they swung back and forth without score for a good half.
When the game was almost at the end of the second half, the score was tie, 6-6. But Berkeley was sure of the day. She had forced her adversaries to their five-yard line, and there were only six minutes left to play. Stanford took a desperate brace and Berkeley lost the ball on downs. If only Stanford could gain ground now, or if time could be called. Nobody wanted a tie, to be sure, but defeat was hard to accept,—the first time, too.
Diemann of Stanford crouched on the side-lines with a heart of lead. The game was lost. What he had looked for, hoping against hope since play was called, had not happened. Ashley had played his usual hard, consistent game, straining every muscle, punting longer and higher than ever before, but missing stupidly some golden chances, the chances Blake would never have let slip by. Diemann had talked to him between halves, a few eager words, urging him to quickness, reminding him of Fred. The substitute had only shaken his head, and muttered that he was doing his best. Toward the end of the second he had shown the severity[Pg 113] of the strain. Playing his hardest, with despair in his soul, it had told on him. In the last scrimmages his work had been very ragged. Indeed, the whole team seemed to have slumped, and the Berkeley line had hammered them down toward their own goal while precious seconds slipped by.
Now the men lined up rapidly. Stanford tried an end play. No gain. Diemann stood back of the team at one side of the goal; he was struggling hard to be calm, but he did a strange thing. He seized a small megaphone from the hands of an urchin beside him, and just as they lined up after Stanford's unsuccessful trial at end, he stepped to the white goal line and raising the funnel to his lips shouted in a voice audible to every man on both teams:
"Now, Fred Blake, play your game!"
Lyman heard and looked back, wondering.
Ashley heard. He stared at the grandstand with a bewildered, appealing face. Then the signal was given. It sent Ashley through tackle. The boy, feeling as though he had lost the game for his College where the other man would have won, went into the line with the energy of a forlorn hope. The Berkeley men gathered their superior force, and the Stanford team was lifted up and borne back, a gradually shifting mass, to its own goal line.
Were they over? The Berkeley crowd[Pg 114] yelled, and an exultant sub threw his sweater in the air. No, the teams were up, and the ball was almost on the line, not quite. There remained a chance to punt it out of danger. Could Ashley do it quickly enough? He had been punting too slowly; the other line could surely get through and block his kick, and there were only two minutes to play.
Diemann, rigid with anxiety, saw that a Stanford man still lay on the ground. Straining his eyes through the dusk, a glance at the team told him that it was Ashley. The drawn muscles of the instructor's legs trembled, the blood beat in his temples. Was it coming, at the last moment?
As the trainer shot out from the side-lines with bucket and sponge, Diemann saw Ashley spring up, slap the grimy moleskins of the men nearest him, and get back into position to kick. Stanford was standing on her own goal line. He saw the ball snapped back; the fullback kicked it, in time; then, instead of the long, curving drive that was to save the day, he saw the ball rise almost straight in the air above the teams, and he groaned aloud as the Berkeley men broke through, and people with delirious laughter waved the blue and gold frantically about him.
The ball comes down among the struggling players. Suddenly, out of that jumble of men[Pg 115] darts a red-sleeved figure, dashing through the scattered field, bounding like a stag toward the Berkeley goal.
The expert eye of the associate coach tells him that, by a marvellous piece of football instinct, Ashley has found his way through the confused teams, realizing that he is the only Stanford man on side, and has caught the ball on the fly and got clear with it. Though they understand nothing of this, the vast crowd goes shrieking to its feet. The bewildered teams turn and follow close upon the flying figure, the speedy Berkeley right-half leading them. Back in the field stands the U. C. fullback, grimly waiting. The two collide, and the chasing halfback gains; but the Berkeley back drops to the tackle a fraction of an instant too late and runs fair against a straight-arm. Tom Ashley, with the ball clutched tight against his breast, his set face gleaming white in the half-light, sprints down the long barred space toward victory, keeping the distance between himself and the straining pack, running as only one man has ever run for Stanford.
And Diemann, tearing along the side-line, knows that Ashley himself never could have done it.
The fullback falls across the line, the ball gripped in his convulsive hold, just as the linesman's whistle blows. Diemann is there[Pg 116] almost as soon. He keeps back the frenzied men crowding about them, and bends over the unconscious player, calling him "Fred" irrationally, while the place catches fire with the cardinal and Stanford goes mad on the field.
Ashley came to consciousness at the hotel. Diemann sat beside him, and Lyman and Dr. Forest stood by the window. The substitute fullback sat up.
"I felt faint just then," he said. "I couldn't help it; you know about it, Diemann." He looked at the other men.
"Did they get it over?" he asked.
Lyman ran across the room.
"Tom, old man," he said, choking, "you won it for us, and you'll never be forgotten, you and your run!"
The fullback looked at him blankly.
"My run?" he faltered.
Diemann came between them.
"Better lie down and rest a bit, my boy; you can talk later."
Then, turning to the others:
"You see," he whispered, "he's wandering a little yet."
On the Sunday night following the Game the smoking-room at the Rho house held the greater part of the Chapter. As a rule, there were not so many loafing there Sunday nights; that time was generally given either to sentiment in other places, or to digging out Monday's work upstairs, while the fire burned for the two or three who seemed never to have any work more important than magazine reading or solitaire. To-night, however, nearly every one was gathered there, for two "old men" were visiting.
These old men had been out of college for two whole years. One of them was Ralph Shirlock. If you were at college in his days you knew him by sight, at least, though you were the mossiest dig that ever kept bright till morning the attic window of a prof's house on the Row. If you have come up to College since then, and are sufficiently posted to know[Pg 120] that there have been other annuals before this one just issued by your friends the Juniors, you have found his picture or his name on every other page of the earlier editions. Harry Rice, who came with him, was not half so well known, save to the Faculty and the circle of the chapter. He was doing very well in business, people said, better than Shirlock, probably. Rice was a keen fellow, the new men could see that at a glance; but they did not put an arm about him instinctively in the after-dinner stroll, as they did about Shirlock.
The two alumni had spent Sunday calling upon the Faculty in Palo Alto and the Row, and in post-mortems with some of the football men in Encina. After dinner, the fellows sat out on the porch, strumming mandolins and singing. Shirlock had been a star on the Glee Club two years before, and he sang again the songs the college hummed after him in those days, while the upper-classmen looked at the Freshmen with a "now-you-see-what-you've-joined" expression, or nudged each other reminiscently, until the live-oaks in the pasture almost blended with the long shadows under them, and hoarse-throated frogs were tuning up in the irrigating ditches. Then they formed four abreast and went down for the mail, humming a march song and lifting their hats in concert[Pg 121] to Professor Stillwell and his wife, smiling from their porch. At the post-office the lines broke and the entire body, except the alumni, struggled into the over-crowded room ("the daily press" Pellams called it). This was hardly necessary, since one man could have opened the fraternity box and distributed the letters; but this is a distinct charm of Sunday evening at the post-office. Moreover, you never know who may be standing inside, and if you have forgotten to arrange things ahead it is sometimes well to be first.
The pleasant uncertainty of the evening mail being over, the fellows mixed a while with the sundry groups about the low red building, then joined forces again, and marched once around the Quad, arm in arm, a line of sixteen, while Bob Duncan, who had been prepped at a military school, shouted, "Change step, march," and "Left wheel, march," then home together, all but two or three, who were called the "Incurables," and who had plunged back into the shadow of the Quad for Chapel, perhaps, or some other form of Sabbath evening devotion. This breach of hospitality the alumni forgave, made indulgent by a sweet sympathy.
Alas for you, old worshippers at empty shrines! Those divine presences are gone, new and unknown deities queen it in the ancient temples. Go back to the hearth[Pg 122] where some still know you and talk to the few who gather around you there, of the old days when you, too, placed your offering at celestial feet. These men of a new generation, sitting in places that once were yours, will listen indulgently to your stories of the past, and hear with patience the odious comparisons you inevitably make; they will thank you for the advice you give them, and say something pleasant about your college spirit; then in the morning when you have taken the early train back to the World, they will go down to the Quad with their books under their arms and something in their minds that is anything but your talk of the evening before; the College life will go on very much as if you had not been back, O wise fossils, and there will be new graduates going out to learn your lessons and new undergraduates who will pay no attention to them in turn. So be thankful for this brief hour before the fire, with its chat as light as the tobacco smoke floating over "old" man and Freshman lounging together, be glad of the fellowship that welcomes you, and be content.
Each couch in the smoking-room had its load of sprawling figures. The lights were out by this time and the Incurables had come back to the house and ferreted places for themselves among the tangled golf suits and 'Varsity sweaters. Duncan had a lamp on the[Pg 123] table where he was "bossing a rabbit"; Pellams said this was the only kind of lab-work in zoology in which Bob could get credit. A pile of plates warmed before the fire where Smith was toasting crackers at the end of a sharpened stick. At the piano, Pellams was softly playing "barber shop" chords. It was all very lazy and comfortable. The alumni grew reminiscent.
"This noon while we were walking up from Palo Alto," said Shirlock, "Mrs. Stanford passed us in her carriage, coming from Chapel, I suppose. I asked Harry if he remembered how they used to drive about the place inspecting things, when the Senator was alive."
"Of course I do," spoke up Rice, "it seems odd that there are so few in college now who remember them together. To you fellows, I suppose, Mrs. Stanford is the source of the University. To us who saw them stand together on the platform that day in October, '91, it is the two always."
"Harry, do you remember our serenade at the residence, after they returned from Washington the first time?"
"No," answered Rice, "I remember, but I wasn't there. We played a game somewhere that day and I stayed over and missed the fun."
"Tell us about it, Ralph," said Duncan, as[Pg 124] he emptied the cubes of cheese into the chafing-dish.
"Well, you see," said Shirlock, unbraiding himself from two affectionate under-classmen on the couch and sitting up in the light, "the story really begins with the first football game, which came off in the spring of '92, and was ours, as every Freshman can tell you, even though he doesn't know just what is meant by 'Pioneers.' The day of the game, Whittemore, the captain, got a telegram from Washington wishing us luck in our first encounter, and that afternoon we sent back answer in much the same style that Cæsar used on one occasion—I suppose the little man to my left here can give me the Latin words?" he added, rumpling the hair of a horizontal Freshman.
"Not long afterward the Senator and Mrs. Stanford came back from the East and someone over in the Hall proposed that we give them a welcome home. We could get a bigger demonstration there in those days than you can now, I'll bet; you know everybody who was anybody at all lived in Encina then; that was the center of the College life, politics began and grew up there, and it was over there in the old lobby that we started the Stanford spirit. Things were great, that first year. It's all right enough here by our own fireside, with our own little gang, but I tell[Pg 125] you honestly if things could have lasted as they were that first year, I wouldn't have wanted to come over here. We were all together, right in line for everything, wise or foolish."
"It was the student body then, all right," put in Rice, "and we had the Faculty with us too whether we were around the gridiron, where they first had it, east of the cinder path, you know, learning the yell and incidentally getting the team into condition for that 14-10, or whether we were crawling by our lonelies through the fence over in the vineyard."
sang Pellams from the piano.
"Were there any profs on that flat-car?" interrupted Duncan. He had come into College while a memory of that pioneer adventure yet lingered.
"It's unkind to remind us of that affair! No, I don't think there were. The Faculty had their fun later, and we put mourning wreaths on several chairs in the dining-room."
"And you came mighty near getting a bouquet of the same kind, yourself," said Rice.
"What was it about the flat-car?" inquired a voice from the pillows.
"Oh," said Rice, "that was about the first of those senseless ebullitions of youth that the Shirlock person usually identified himself with. There was a flat-car standing outside Encina on the track there, just about where it turns and slopes down crosslots to the main track. This is just what Ralph and his precious gang wanted, of course; they thought it would be a bit of innocent, boyish play to have a little free railroading, so they piled on and turned her loose and slid down to Mayfield. They barely stopped the car before she switched into the main line, and they all fell off into the gopher holes along the side and made for Mayfield, red-eyed. The Faculty raised Ned when they heard about it, which was proper."
"I hope the Freshmen will pay particular attention to Mr. Rice," said Shirlock. "He is a noble influence to any sweet, unfolding soul. I feel that I should have escaped a great deal of enjoyable sin had I only known him better those first few weeks."
Ralph got up for some cigarette tobacco from the skull on the mantelpiece.
"Well, the Faculty were with us in about everything," he went on, rolling a cigarette; "many of them lived in the Hall then."
"Yes, a number did," put in Rice. "Do you remember, Ralph, the night that Professor Torts had his little beer-and-skittles party in[Pg 127] his lair, and Burns, who roomed across the passage and who was the worst bummer in Encina, went down to Fessler, and complained that he couldn't study because of the noise in that number? And Fessler forgot who roomed there and came up and gave them Tartarus through the keyhole and nearly dropped when Torts opened the door?"
"We all enjoyed that," answered Shirlock. "Why, the profs used to come to our feeds and jolly up with the crowd. Often they were the best fun there. It's different now."
"Oh, I don't know," said Duncan, "they come over off and on, now. Doc Jordan was here last Sunday to dinner, and Diemann drops in sometimes; last year he came a lot."
"Oh, they come over all right," sighed Pellams from the piano. "I had a report to make one day. I didn't have it done, and I bribed Ted to go down and tell Engbee I was sick in bed. I was playing cards in here when Sniffles rushed in and told me the old boy was coming up the street. I smelt danger and tumbled into bed like a six-day bicyclist, and fixed my face up with some grease paint and magnesia. Sure enough, he came in, darkly suspicious, thought he had me all right, but he found a wreck that melted him. His wife sent me a bunch of violets next morning. For my part I don't like the Faculty for intimate friends," and[Pg 128] Pellams played "Comrades" with the soft pedal down.
"It's not the same thing, though, really," persisted Shirlock. "They may come over here to dinner or perhaps to a smoker, but it's always Professor So-and-So; his chair is a little higher than any of yours, and he never forgets the family waiting for him in the Row; in those first days the family was in most cases beyond the Rockies, or as yet a dream, and it wasn't always easy to pick out the professor from the jumble of story-tellers on the bed.
"Of course, it was all too good to last," the alumnus went on thoughtfully, "and it wasn't natural it should. We weren't so many then. When the number increased, I suppose the relations had to change and the different cliques must separate. I'll admit that there is more in the life now, it's more complex, there are more institutions and more ways of having joy; but those were good old days, those first days in Encina when the crowd was one.
"I can see them now, can't you, Harry? out on the veranda and the steps of the Hall after dinner, with the fellows playing ball on the lawn, and other men sitting up on their window-ledges. The night I started to tell you about, when we went to serenade Mr. and Mrs. Stanford, we got the mandolin fellows, the beginning of your present club, and fell[Pg 129] in behind them and started off down the road, past the mausoleum and through the vineyard—never broke ranks there, either, we were on our good behavior, besides, it was Spring—and so on over to the house, where we drew up, and the mandolins played their piece, then we gave the yell—it was only a few months old, that yell, but it had been loud enough to knock out a twenty-five-year-old one we met up in town not long before, and we were proud of it.
"During the pause that followed, the front door opened and the Senator stepped out on the porch; a lamp shone on his gray head and on us fellows in a big black crowd on the gravel below, looking up at him and cheering. When we stopped he said, very much as though a friend had driven up, "Gentlemen, will you come in?" and the whole two hundred of us piled over the piazza, getting a grasp of his hand as we came into the hall, and a word from Mrs. Stanford, who stood beside him. They took us into the library; we formed a hollow square, two rows deep on the sides, and the Founders came into the square and talked to us. I remember that Mrs. Stanford said, 'We were very glad, young gentlemen, to hear of your success in baseball,' and what a chill it gave us, just convalescing from the football fever; but we forgave the mistake when she asked, a minute[Pg 130] later, 'Which is Mr. Clemans?' That blushing hero with the other ten we forced into the center to be congratulated, and we sang the new song, 'Rush the Ball Along,' until the bric-à-brac trembled.
"When we were quiet again, the Senator talked to us informally, as though we were in reality his children as he had said we were to be. It was an earnest talk, about his ideals of what the University was yet to be, and his hope for their fulfillment; of economy and judicious living; and of endeavor to be of use to the world. It was a privilege to stand there listening. He appealed to each one of us individually. We could not know then how few more such opportunities we were to have. When he had finished, the dining-room doors slid back—it was a put-up job, that serenade—and it was Mrs. Stanford's turn. After the supper, we gathered for a little personal talk with both of them, then we had some more mandolin music, and Baker sang 'Suwanee River' to Capron's accompaniment.
"That evening brought the Founders pretty close to the crowd. It was a good thing to have happen, it began things right. Then, you know, he died suddenly, in vacation. I was in Yosemite. When term opened, it was hard to get used to seeing her driving around the campus alone. I don't think any of the people who came after those early days can[Pg 131] ever be so loyal to the Founders, to the person of one and the memory of the other, as we are. I'm sure none of us who went over serenading that night will ever forget it. It's one of the Pioneer memories."
Both graduates were looking into the fire. Freshman Haviland snored softly in the window seat. The eyes of the rest of the chapter were fastened on the chafing-dish. Shirlock's story had seemed pretty long and the rarebit sent out a tantalizing odor.
Duncan called out, "Supper's ready, children," and the heated plates came clattering up from the hearth, bringing the visitors back from the far echoes of their own beginnings to the noisy unconcern of a Freshman year that knew a kind, white-bearded face from pictures only, and never could understand.
"Well!" said Miss Meiggs, spreading across her lap one of the Beta Rhos' new monogrammed napkins, "I must say your being here is a surprise."
Pellams answered in vague interrogation, not a little surprised, himself, to be caught at a "girl-supper." Now that he was cornered, it would be uselessly impolite to tell her how the Chapter had reasoned and pleaded with him until at the last minute "Cap" Smith ruined his clever escape by catching him midway down a porch pillar. Smith, sitting on the other side of Katharine Graham and wearing the smile of satisfied revenge, would doubtless enjoy telling it. There was so much of genial malevolence in that smile that Pellams, the woman-hater, who knew only enough of the co-eds to avoid them, wondered what sort of a girl he had been placed next to at supper. He had an intuitive idea that she had been given him by general consent. An experienced society man would have scented this[Pg 136] at once in the company of Mrs. Perkins, for when there is a choice of tables, chapter-mothers are apt to sit where there is the least sentiment; but this was the Junior's début, practically, and he was conscious of little more than that the fellows had it "in" for him, and that this girl had begun the conversation by a personal remark.
"I judged," the girl was saying, not having waited for any explanation, "that in the milder forms of social entertainment you were somewhat out of your element."
Pellams had missed his guess. On sitting down to their small table, he had decided that the conversation would naturally split into two divisions of three rather than into three couples, for Mrs. Perkins, Professor Grind and this Meiggs girl would enjoy themselves together, leaving him to share Smith's talk with Miss Graham, whose eyes had somehow an engaging twinkle. The idea was rudely dispelled by Miss Meiggs's immediate and decidedly personal attack. At least, he would have preferred to talk about other people, but he faced the music.
"Oh, I disapprove of them only for myself," he replied, "not for others."
"And why for yourself, particularly?"
The face of the Glee Club's comedian had assumed just the right seriousness.
"Because I'm more than susceptible and I don't want to run risks."
"Your time has come at last, then," put in his captor, Smith, with a gallant look at Miss Meiggs.
"Not at all," retorted Pellams, whose combative sense was less rusty than his skill in compliment. "If I'd been afraid of one exposure like this, do you think I'd have suggested being on deck to-night?"
Smith, with a fresh memory of their struggle, laughed at this blocking move. Katharine Graham, although she did not laugh, enjoyed Pellams's unconscious "like this." She was a Theta Gamma with Miss Meiggs, and of late there had been a little rift in their sisterly love.
The older girl was not disconcerted. She had her estimate of Pellams Chase, and he was not disproving it. There were certain things she had long wanted the chance to say to him.
"I admire your self-restraint under temptation," she said; "it is characteristic of you in other circumstances, I believe"—this with discreet emphasis—"but, really, why should you dread letting this susceptibility get the better of you?"
Pellams caught the faint sneer in the words. He hoped that Mrs. Perkins had been talking just then to her Faculty partner. Increasing his affected earnestness, he replied:
"Because, when you get gone, it is bound to knock scholarship."
Here Smith giggled audibly, for Katharine and he were really feigning talk, being more entertained by the couple across the cloth. Katharine knew that by this last statement Pellams had sounded a dominant note in the soul of her opinionated sister. She was not surprised, then, when Miss Meiggs turned more fully toward the woman-hater.
"Tell me, are you one of these people who think co-education an evil?"
"I'm afraid I am." The speech gave Pellams a certain pleasure. There was nothing about this partner they had given him that tended toward converting him to the Chapter's point of view as to the advantage of girls at college.
"Of course," continued she, "I do not take your remark about scholarship as worthy of consideration in your case, because I am in one or two of your classes, when you attend them," and Pellams, listening, gave thanks that he and Professor Grind opposite had no such relation; "but monopolized time is really the cry of a good many who would wish to work, and it is all wrong. There is no reason why we should not come here and work with you, combining friendship and study. Our presence here is, in a way, preventive of many worse things."
Pellams turned his empty salad plate between his fingers.
"Well," he drawled, "I'm not sure I know what you mean by the worse things, and I've never been to another college, except Berkeley but I can't believe as much time is spent on them as some people here give to girls," this with a dreamy look over Smith's head; "the cigarette heart can't be much worse than what takes men out of college here, and if you refer to beer——"
"I do refer to beer," said Miss Meiggs, in an iced voice.
"Oh, no!" expostulated the Junior, spreading his hands, "they couldn't do it!" He looked at her frankly. "You get a head after too much beer," he went on, reckless as to pronouns and listening professors, "and you stay sober and work, for awhile, any way. In co-education you don't get any such call-down until the Committee meets."
"Don't let him tease you, Miss Meiggs," put in Mrs. Perkins, frowning mildly at Pellams because of Professor Grind's sphinx-like smile; "he's making it all up out of his inner consciousness, like the German philosopher and the—elephant, wasn't it, Professor Grind?"
"Yes?" answered Miss Meiggs, with a world of irony packed into the syllable; "your inner consciousness, then, Mr. Chase, proves rather forcibly that in one case the influence is against[Pg 140] refinement, while in the case of co-education it is all for it. You will grant that, I think?"
Quite by accident, Pellams caught Miss Graham's eye. The twinkle there was a sort of glorified "sic 'im!"
"On the contrary," said he, perfectly composed, "I think it's the girl that's refined."
Miss Meiggs's "What!" was almost a shriek. Foo, the table-boy, brought her just then a plate of creamy rarebit. He had a jacket of luminous green silk, with the fraternity monogram in white, and he wore his cue hanging. But the fragrance of the rarebit and the splendor of Foo's toilet were alike lost upon the aroused Miss Meiggs. Such a statement, from this man of all others!
"You are judging us with yourself as a basis of contrast, I fancy!"
Not displeased at having put her in ill-humor, and refusing a gentle attempt on Mrs. Perkins' part to lead the conversation elsewhere, he went on with aggravated seriousness:
"But there is hope for me here, with the Faculty and with books"—he choked a little over this; "a man doesn't need to go through from one to eight love-affairs."
The champion of co-education sniffed.
"Nothing was further from my thoughts," said she. "The association of men and women in an atmosphere of study does not mean sen[Pg 141]timentality. The relation should be normal and helpful, not spoiled by extremes." Katharine had heard these views before.
"But they can't dodge the extremes, you see," persisted Pellams. "It's the place here, the walks and drives in the country and all. Your theory might work all right at a city college or even at Berkeley, but on this campus, not so!"
"The reasoning of inexperience. There are stronger interests in nature than boy-and-girl foolishness—unless one is idle. Where it results in that sort of thing, I agree that it is all wrong and prejudicial to scholarship and thoroughly unnecessary and inexcusable"—with these words a slow glance at Katharine that spoke of arguments in the past. "A man does not have to fall in love purely because he and a girl are in the country at the same time."
"But all the girls are not like you," began Pellams, and stopped at the sound of the words. They were not in the least intended to be taken as he felt that the table-full had taken them. Miss Meiggs put her fork viciously into the neglected rarebit. In the uncomfortable pause, Mrs. Perkins flutteringly passed her the cayenne pepper, but Miss Meiggs ignored the courtesy. She turned to Pellams.
"Even a love-affair," she snapped, "would benefit you more than the substitute you have[Pg 142] chosen! You are a nice one to argue the refinement of the college girl! Are you refining yourself, your fraternity or your favorite side of the student-body by carousing at Mayfield and carrying the viciousness of that town to others where you may represent the University?"
"Oh, I say!" protested the Glee Club man, uneasily, for Grind was on the Committee; "don't be too hard on me."
"I'm sure you're unjust to Pellams," said the Chapter-mother, with a troubled look at her black lamb, who wondered what was coming: "I don't believe he——"
Miss Meiggs, peppering her rarebit deliberately, interrupted, with a little toss of the head.
"I will ask Mr. Chase one question then." She gathered some of the cheese upon her fork, and, balancing it midway to her mouth, went on with a gloating clearness of enunciation. "Please tell us why you came to the afternoon concert at the Chico Normal School this summer in a colored shirt and your dress suit, and why you did not sing your part of the program?"
"That's two questions," murmured Pellams. He could not look at Mrs. Perkins, to whom he had made certain solemn promises before that very trip; but his adversary had turned toward her with a look of righteous triumph.[Pg 143] So deftly that even Pellams barely saw it, Katharine reached across him and peppered the forkful of rarebit just before the lips of Miss Meiggs closed over it. His answer was overlooked.
Mrs. Perkins took the sufferer up to her own room and Katharine vanished somewhere with Smith. When the tables were removed, a girl sat at the piano; her song finished, she struck briskly into the "Hot Time," and every one turned to Pellams. He sang the rag-time as though he were bursting with fun, while the Chapter sat before him, beaming its innocent gratitude. But the Glee Club man was singing to one guest alone, and he could not see her, or Smith either. When two songs had failed to bring her into view, he stole off upstairs unmolested and lay for some time with his door locked, grinning before sleep.
They hammered at his door next morning with appeals for his appearance at first-hour recitation, and fraternal reminders that he hadn't sufficient stand-in to cut. Foo went clanging the bell through the halls, dodging the shoes that flew at him through the door of a man who had nothing before the fourth hour, and the rush and hurry of late breakfast-time filled the house. But Pellams lay smoking in his narrow bed, engaged in the novel task of solving a point of etiquette. The affair of the night before was to be his final ap[Pg 144]pearance in local society. His experience in small-talk with Miss Meiggs confirmed his decision to live a college life into which co-education did not enter outside his class-rooms. Yet, having once departed from the mode of such a life, he found himself under an obligation. A co-ed had found him in trouble and had done the "white" thing by him at a critical moment; even Jimmy Mason, over at the Hall, could not have stood by him any better. In an obligation to Jimmy there was no problem—only the matter of time to do his part—but with a co-ed, Pellams felt that it was different. She was not a feature of his life. To the woman-hater's mind, if a man has become indebted to a girl, honor bids him pay the debt, the sooner the better. He need never see the girl again, once the score is even. This philosophy evolved, it took another cigarette to decide just how the balance could be struck, and then Pellams went downstairs to wheedle a remnant of breakfast from the indulgent Foo.
Applied to the new element into which he had ventured, something of the keen observation which the Junior devoted to football practice might have made the payment of his debt to Katharine Graham a transaction of less public note. He would have waited, probably, with the brazenness that characterizes local courtship, at the door of the library and caught her as she emerged. Or he would have[Pg 145] learned what mails she usually waited for at the post-office and would have lingered until she had opened her box and had started back toward the Quad pretending to look over her correspondence. Or else he would have watched her classes and happened along by accident just as she was coming out for a vacant hour. But these established forms had escaped his notice. Instead, he did what he considered the "proper," and drove dashingly up to Roble in Paulsen's best single rig and his own new fall suit.
Roble caught sight of him beyond the flower beds, over the heads of the tall pampas. The news electrified the dormitory. A Freshman stopped her experimental lab-work with the piano, and joined the others behind the lace at the parlor windows. A group of girls, chatting on the yellow railing of the steps, watched the approach of the apparition. Pellams Chase coming to Roble! Not since the morning Mt. Hamilton was covered with snow had there been such a phenomenon.
"I believe he's coming to take Florence to drive!" said a mischievous Theta Gamma, looking toward Miss Meiggs, who sat frowning at the approaching buggy.
"He ought to," laughed Katharine Graham's roommate, "for not telling her how much red pepper she had put on her rarebit while she was absorbed in talking to him!"
"If he's coming for me," said the Senior grimly, "I shall not disappoint him."
"What!" cried Katharine; "you wouldn't go with him, Florence! Why, we none of us met him until last night."
"Last night I was unfortunately absent-minded," answered Miss Meiggs, "and I did not say all I wanted to. It wouldn't be a pleasant drive!"
"He would have you at his mercy—you shan't go!" laughed another girl, "it would be flying in the face of Providence as well as of Propriety!"
"I can't imagine whom he's coming for," said Katharine, who was sure that he was coming for her. She thought out the severe little refusal she should make him when he had drawn her aside.
The stranger scraped his buggy wheels delicately along the curbing of the Roble walk. The group of girls on the steps was an unexpected ordeal. He caught sight of the amused faces behind the curtains above him and almost lost his nerve.
"Rubber!" he growled. He had made many a clever entrance in the student theatricals, but to-day in climbing out of the buggy he got badly tangled in the reins. In spite of his desperate will, his face was growing red. With painfully fixed gaze he came up the steps toward the Theta Gammas; standing uneasily[Pg 147] before them, he blurted out, with no preliminaries whatever:
"Miss Graham, would you like to go driving?"
Katharine straightened and looked at him coolly. One of the girls gave a little gasp at his impertinence.
"It isn't customary, I believe," said Katharine, "to ask to go driving with a girl you have met once, at a supper."
"Isn't it?" faltered Pellams. There was not a vestige of his usual bravado about him. Katharine met his honest gaze, hesitated, then said:
"But I shall be delighted to go, just the same. Will you come in and wait till I get my things?"
They curved round the Dormitory lawn and away toward the La Honda redwoods, leaving the astounded young women on the porch to discuss, as women sometimes do, the peculiar behavior of their departed sister.
She explained it to Pellams during the drive. To his surprise, he learned that he had been hopelessly ill-bred to ask her at all; that had the invitation not been given before the other girls he should have driven away alone. As it was, she was in for no end of criticism. She discouraged any conversation upon the subject of cayenne pepper. Furthermore, she declared herself in full accord with Florence[Pg 148] Meiggs as regarded love affairs; she believed in them as little as her elder sister; good-fellowship, without sentiment, was possible and quite sufficient. Pellams, having resolved upon the utmost good-nature during the drive, put the pride of the livery stable through her best paces and allowed his companion to declare her views unquestioned. Toward the end of the afternoon, he deposited her at the Roble door with a pleasant feeling that he had done his duty and was through with co-eds forever.
A wild uproar filled the Rho dining-room when the gallant came in to dinner, late. With an exasperating readiness of conclusion, the crowd congratulated him upon his change of heart, they welcomed to their ranks, with much clinking of water glasses, another true lover, and Smith sang derisively an adaptation of his own:
Instead of raising the expected storm of denial, Pellams looked guilty and uncomfortable. In spite of their knowledge of the man, they did not divine that their teasing had given him an inspiration.
[Facing page 148]
His idea for a josh involved Miss Graham. So he waited for her deliberately outside the door of the French class next morning; she had stopped to talk to the instructor after the class had left. Jimmy Mason and four or five of the regular Quad loafers were talking football on the curbing. Pellams joined them. Then the gravity of the step he was about to take came over him with a sense of oppression. He felt much as on that Easter morning, years before, when his mother had dragged him out to be confirmed.
"The Berkeley faculty won't let Dudley play," Mason was saying. "He hasn't—where are you speeding in such a rush?" he added and then stopped, paralyzed.
It is probable that if her eyes had not laughed at him with that twinkle of good-fellowship which he had noted on the night of the supper, Pellams never would have had the nerve. That look hauled him over the Rubicon; they went down the arcade together, in the face of Jimmy Mason, the loafers, the whole crowd shifting between lectures. Yet the sun shone as brightly on the palm-circles, the Quadrangle pillars kept their perpendicular. A little later Mason saw the couple sitting under the 'Ninety-five Oak. He whistled to himself with a look that meant: "You wait, old josher till you get into the Knockery again!"
"Now," said Pellams, under the Oak, "you have about the same ideas on love-affairs as I have and you'll sympathize with me in this thing. When I got in to dinner last night, the gang gave me the hottest jolly of my misspent life. They're all alike; they can't understand having a straight friendship for a girl without it's being a puppy-love. So they tumble at once that my driving you means I'm yours for keeps. That sort of a thing makes me tres fatigué and I've a scheme."
"Not your first, is it?"
"In what way do you—"
"I know something of your 'schemes,' young man; that fake fraternity and the snipe-hunts and an examination in English 1 c."
"Oh, those!" Pellams did not blush at the record. Instead, he smiled. His smile was always worth seeing. It was the point of one of his Club stunts. Every muscle got into the interference and his round face grew rosy into the roots of his thick brown hair.
This grin was not lost upon Katharine.
"What am I to do, pray?" asked she; "pose as Professor of Domestic Economy?"
"This is a bird of a josh on the house," he cried. "You'll come in on it, won't you?"
"Plans first, before I commit myself. You might want me to elope in a buggy."
"Never again!" declared Pellams; "my idea[Pg 151] is, why can't we pretend to have a case on each other—not any passing fancy, but a real peacherino, like the best of them?"
Somewhat to his surprise, the girl was not visibly enthusiastic.
"Just how do I profit, please, if I butcher myself to make your Roman holiday?"
"You can die happy, knowing we've pulled their le—bluffed 'em beautifully. You're down on love-affairs yourself, you told—"
"Your philosophy of heaven includes a josh on the other fellow, I verily believe," returned Katharine, smiling; "but it is just possible, you know—shall I be very frank?"
"You have been, before!"
"Well, then, I might, you know, prefer the society of some other men in college to the exclusive privilege of yours, even with this wonderful josh thrown in."
"There are others."
"I know I'm not much of a sq—ladies'-man," he persisted; "but I can learn, can't I?"
"Your manners are not very dreadful when you think about them; but oh, you have lots to master, the little things, you know."
"I let you carry your books this morning—"
"Bravo!—if you only learn to think of them sooner—all the little ways a girl—"
"Sure—you can teach me and rap my knuckles—"
"That would be a pleasure. I've wanted to do it for months."
"And, you see, you'd have the distinction of being the only one I couldn't hold out against."
"Oh, above all things, don't be conceited, or I can't think of it."
"That means you will think of it?"
"You're really not half bad! You caught that on time. Yes, I'll help you in your joke, to punish their silliness, but only for a week, on trial you understand."
Pellams, gratified, put out his hand, not in fashionable wise, but as he would grip a man's. Yet in doing so he noted, looking at her fully for the first time, that the light hair on her temples came down low on the sides, as his mother's did.
On the way up to her room, Miss Graham stood for some moments smiling at an irrelative picture of Westminster Abbey, hanging in the parlor. Having gone driving before their faces, it was more presentable not to be dropped. Also, there was an undeniable pleasure in refuting any of Florence Meiggs's arguments, the one concerning love-affairs and scholarship, for instance. Besides, he was a dear, amusing thing, and a perfect novice.
During the week that followed, Pellams learned a few things. The experiment was by no means a bore. He discovered that it is easier to be joshed than to josh—when you know in your heart you have the joke on the other fellow. He learned the revengefulness of Perkins' nature, old Ted, who was ragged to death when his case on Lillian Arnold developed and who now paid him back with interest. He found how great an object of interest to the co-ed element a man becomes when he is in love. All this was good for the woman-hater, giving him new views of things and teaching him patience. Many times during the ordeal he blessed his dramatic talent. It helped him to pretend a chap when he did not feel it. It served him in assuming an air of "the game is worth the candle," when the whole tableful at the house requoted to him certain scathing remarks on the girl-habit which, in the day of his single blessedness, he had made to each one of them separately. It was more than useful to him when he rolled into the "Knockery," the second evening after his sad condition had become patent, and the assembled company rose to smother him with sofa cushions and lecture him, with decided seriousness, on the evil effect of girling. There were times, indeed, when he didn't have to assume any chap at all, when it came of itself; for example, when[Pg 154] the crowd punned on the girl's name, "Graham gems" was a favorite. Somehow, he wished that they wouldn't drag in names that way.
The week ended. He had done beautifully. Looking it over, he was proud of his achievements. Two evenings at the library; a brazen walk every day at the 10.30 period, which both had vacant; a stroll in the moonlit Quad, planned to interest the crowd at the Tuesday evening lecture; two calls at Roble—that was going it pretty heavy. The whole college was smiling at them, and the foolish Rho house hugged itself in the blissful silence of his sarcastic tongue.
This review of the week delighted Pellams. He hunted up Katharine the last afternoon and asked for a renewal of the contract.
"Are you sure you can help the extremes? You know the Quadrangle and the walks in the country—"
"Listen to the Mocking Bird!" gurgled Pellams. He was feeling very well pleased with things in general.
"The product of the means is a bully good josh," he laughed, "and I'm not afraid of the product of the extremes; it's only equal to the same thing—now there's higher mathematics for you!" and Pellams danced the[Pg 156] and she made him be serious and take up his work. The first quarter of an hour she called him to order twice—first for trying to trap with a lariat of grass an inquisitive gray lizard spying at them from a fence-rail; second, for enticing into conversation the huge Danish hound, whose bark is so much worse than his bite, and who, having been a pup with the University, knows something of every Stanford "case" ever developed in the pleasant shade of his domain. After fifteen minutes of impeccable behavior, Pellams whispered:
"Well, I'd like to have some attention paid me. Call me down just to show that you're alive."
She pointed to his History and subsided into her English Poets. When she came to earth again, the sun was low beyond the eucalyptus trees. There was a regular sound near her which she realized having heard for some time in her sub-consciousness. She peeped over the high-growing root between them. The man whom she was helping slept peacefully, his book closed and his mouth open, and only the suspicion of a snore stirring the quiet autumn air.
"I shall never have any trouble with him!" thought Katharine, with just the faintest dis[Pg 157]content, as she dropped a twig on his face, by way of waking him without embarrassment.
The autumn rains came and the dry, sniffly dust of the campus lay flat under the quiet air; the clear, fall weather that is mixed in one's mind with the pungent smell of tarweed in the pasture lands, and with long exciting afternoon practices, hung cool over the land, and still Pellams went girling, with his beautiful joke on the college. Katharine's secret joke on him had succeeded equally well. The woman-hater's class work had undergone a transfiguration. People noticed it. At the opening of the term he had put Professor Leyne's course in "Renaissance Poets" on his schedule card, because it was a proclaimed snap and because two of the three Rhos who took it the year before had kept their set-papers. Professor Leyne loved to draw covert allusions from what he called "the ocean of young life that swells around us." One day he threw out a direct allusion. Stopping in his remarks about chivalry, he sunk his voice to an impressive, confidential tone, looking almost directly at the impassive Pellams in the back row.
"And I think sometimes," he said, "when I see the youth feeling the uplifting earnestness of first love—when I see it taking him gently by the hand and saying to him 'my son, there are higher things'; when I see him putting his[Pg 158] spirit with new zeal to the tasks that are laid before him, when I see him realizing that life is indeed serious and its end the fulfilment"—and so on until the bell rang, while the subject of the eulogy, outwardly calm, grinned fiendishly in his secret soul, for only himself, the professor and one other knew that he had scored an A on his last two papers as against a D earlier in the year. The professor himself did not know that these same papers were a good part Katharine Graham, who had suggested the ideas to Pellams and had then stood over him while he put them into his own turgid but interesting English.
Similar results ensued in French, which they prepared together, and he so endeared himself to the History professor that that worthy expanded to the point of a hint at an entrance to the seminary the next semester. The superior Miss Meiggs, pondering upon the remarkable change in her classmate, saw with concern this renegade disproving an argument with which she had enlivened many a Theta Gamma meeting. She never guessed with what patience Katharine was training his wandering attention. She was not present during the afternoons of real, quiet study which were forced out of him between luncheon and football practice.
By the time their contract, renewed from week to week, had been operating for two[Pg 159] months, Pellams began to wonder just where the point of the joke came in. People had become used to the condition. The House could rely on him and his singing, and girls came oftener than ever to Sunday supper. The Knockery took his affairs as an accepted fact. They no longer had any new jokes on it. Jimmy Mason grumbled now and then because his chum was queening "like all the rest of the frat-men," and their jovial expeditions to Mayfield were over, "because she wouldn't understand" (most conclusive proof!), but he ended by taking it as he might have taken an inequality of temper—as a flaw in character to be overlooked in a friend. Then again, Pellams found it positively uncanny to be getting on so well in his work, an uneasy feeling as though he were walking along the edge of a steep place. As for the joke itself, he could laugh over it with Katharine, but there was no way to spring it. A josh that has not a public end lacks art. He realized that the idea had seemed very rich when he conceived it and that he had plunged into it without considering its finish, and of course an impractical girl wouldn't look so far ahead. Now, he saw that it had ceased to be a josh at all, where other people were concerned.
When he came to the thought of dropping it, he suspected that it was no longer a josh[Pg 160] where he himself was concerned. The realization of this quite stunned him, the afternoon it came to him. They were sitting below the Sphinx, at the back of the Mausoleum, and the quail were calling among the pines. Katharine was reading to him from one of his text-books. He heard very little of what she read. To him the book kept repeating that she had the most attractive mouth and chin he had ever noticed; that the low-drawn hair on her forehead was made to be smoothed back, very gently, from her clear skin. The consciousness that he could not give up these study-afternoons came over him with a stab, and told him that he had not been listening at all well lately; that this was why he could not remember the stuff in recitation and why he had not dared to tell her his recent marks. She trusted him so thoroughly now that she did not stop him so often when he talked, instead of working. If she had guessed the real reason of his laziness, she would have been honestly disappointed in him. This was the tragedy of it. He could never let her suspect that he was not still fooling the Rho house. She was a girl entirely without sentimentality—this was what he liked in her at first, and now it was his overthrow. If she should so much as dream that his feeling toward her was anything more than the friendship he had outlined in the beginning, she would shut her[Pg 161] book with a slap and declare the compact at an end. He must keep on acting, only his audience had changed and the people he had been joking with were now behind the scenes, though they didn't know it. So he would put his chin in his hand and gaze at her as though the peculiarities of the Renaissance Poets were his greatest concern. He laughed, too, about the joke itself, finding a sort of painful relief in double entendre. Sometimes his mind wandered, and when Katharine failed to reprove him, as in the earlier days of the compact, he felt as though he had betrayed a confidence. Once they had forgotten all about football practice, and it frightened him; but she seemed not to have realized the gravity of the thing, and he laughed the alarming incident away. During lectures, he tried to reason himself out of the predicament. It was entirely possible that this feeling toward her was but another instance of habit, a natural affection for a chum, with some subtle influence of sex combining to frighten him into thinking it more serious. But he was not entirely comforted.
Crises occur properly at the end of a semester. On the evening of Friday, the closing day, Roble gave an impromptu dance. Katharine made Pellams come; it would be final evidence in their joke, since he was known to dislike dances. He agreed to attend, adding his own emphasis to the reason as stated. Kath[Pg 162]arine filled out his card for him, allowing him three dances with herself. The evening began in misery for the woman-hater, and ended in perturbation of spirit. There were girls, oceans of them, and not one of them had any sense. Katharine was different. These girls didn't know when they were joshed, and they couldn't josh back. They were an uninteresting lot. She had filled his card with them and he had to hunt them up and dredge his head for conversation. It was an awful bore. Katharine was the only girl whom he had ever seemed able to talk with easily, and he had only three little dances with her. He was savage.
During the third dance, he was floundering through an absent-minded conversation with a Freshman girl, whose eyelashes were pale pink, when Cap Smith glided past him, waltzing with Katharine. They looked as though they were having a very good time. Pellams felt that Cap, fine fellow as he was, generally grew too familiar with girls. He noticed with disapproval the man Katharine drew for the fourth dance, and she had Cap again for the fifth. He went over after that dance and asked for her program. Cap was down for two more dances. Pellams gave her back her card. He laughed a joking sentence on another subject, then he slipped down stairs and blundered out into the rainy night in a towering rage[Pg 163] at Katharine, at Smith, most of all at himself for being a certain Thing.
Jimmy Mason had not attended the Roble dance. Instead, he sat at his table in the Knockery, going over his accounts as laundry agent. He was deep in these end-of-semester figures when Pellams burst in at the window, like a storm-driven creature. People never stand on ceremony at the Knockery. It is the corner room on the ground floor. The place has always been the Knockery ever since Mason roomed there, just as the big room over the old dining-hall will be the "Bull-pen" forever. It is the universal avenue after the lights are out, and the doors locked. You open the window as gently as you can and slide in. If the tenants are in bed, you get through into the hall on tiptoe, if possible; if awake, you stop and chat a bit by the way of courtesy; no one ever has to study in this enchanted bower. Moreover, if you do not live in the Hall, if you are an Alumnus visitor from town, if there are girls at your frat-house, or if you dwell off the campus and are belated, there are extra blankets under the lounge in the corner. Make up your own bed and turn in, without waking the sleepers. You are not crowding anybody. Once a whole baseball team, with the help of two extra mattresses, slept comfortably in the Knockery—but that is history.
When Pellams slammed in and flopped dis[Pg 164]consolately into a chair, Mason looked up, knowing that there was trouble somewhere.
"What is it?" he asked. No answer. Jimmy rose, locked the door and closed the ventilator. Then he disposed himself on the lounge.
"Tell your dad. Is it the girl?"
Pellams's affirmative was put in language unrepeatable in a book for young persons.
"Something gone wrong?"
Jimmy wished to offer consolation. "Can I do anything?"
"Yes," growled the man in a dress suit. "You can give me a sweater and take me to Mayfield!"
Now Jimmy was a true friend. He would have gone anywhere for Pellams.
When the dance music at Roble had ceased, and the quiet of the December night was broken by only the patter of raindrops and the sound of singing in the Mayfield distance, punctuated by sharp whoops, Jimmy had got Pellams back to the Knockery pretty well consoled. It might not have made much difference just then, even if the lover could have known that over in darkened Roble, Katharine Graham, who did not approve of love affairs, lay crying herself to sleep.
Pellams rose late next day, and ate his lunch mournfully at the House. He was in an exaggerated state of repentance and resolve.[Pg 165] After luncheon he made a sorrowful pilgrimage to the Quad. Here he learned that he had lost five hours and that the Glee Club would tour the South without him.
Chastened in spirit, he asked for Katharine at Roble. She had gone to Mrs. Stillwell's on the Row. He went again at night, calling late that she might have her packing finished for the morning steamer.
By diplomacy, arranged beforehand with the door-girl, he got her downstairs. There was only a trace of reserve in her manner when she told him that she had all her packing yet to do, and that she couldn't walk about the Quad even once; there was more than a trace of embarrassment about him when he pleaded something very important.
"Perhaps I know what it is," said she.
"More than likely you don't," he persisted; "anyhow, I deserve a chance to explain."
Katharine went down the steps with him.
"Well?" she said, on the walk outside.
"What do you think I want to say?" He was not so brave now.
"The same thing that I have in my mind, that our little arrangement would better end. I have got my very first condition through wasting time on a foolish josh, and I don't believe you've been doing good work lately."
"They gave me two of 'em."
"Indeed? Then Florence Meiggs was right, wasn't she?"
Silence for awhile, then she said: "But you mustn't blame me. I did my best, and if we both failed it's proof positive that it has to end."
Another pause, with the whirr of distant machinery breaking the stillness. No speech on either side until Pellams felt that he must say something or the blood in his throat would choke him.
"Do—don't you really know what I wanted you out here for?"
"Perhaps to insult me further. Pellams!" impetuously, "why did you do it?"
"No. Cut those dances."
"You ought to know!"
"Yes; I do know, and your wanting to go to Mayfield was a good, gentlemanly excuse, and I ought to accept it, I suppose. Of course, it shouldn't make any difference to me; you have humiliated me enough already, but you might have considered the other girls."
"Yes, and you are blaming me for cutting down there when you and Cap Smith were floating around——"
"You will please leave Mr. Smith out of the conversation;" she turned toward the Hall. "I have to go in, the shades are down already."
Pellams' courage came up with a flash. By blind instinct, he reached out and caught her hand. She did not struggle, though the moment he released his pressure she drew her hand away, and quickened her pace. He followed close, and she turned upon him.
"This is what I might have expected when I cheapened myself with you! Will you let me go in?"
"Not until I have said what I came to say; Katharine, can't you—can't you guess it? Oh, I know—Kathie, you must have seen it—you know why I cut the dance—you know"—and again words failed him and he reached for her hand.
But she put him off this time. "I am sorry to spoil such a beautiful piece of acting; but our arrangement is going to end, and this is a worn-out joke."
They had come by now to the corner of Roble, where it is indiscreet to talk over private affairs, and neither said anything until they reached and mounted the steps into the shadow of the porch. Then she said:
"After all, since it is over, I won't be unkind. Good-bye. We've had a pleasant semester, haven't we?" and this time she gave him her hand.
A girl raised one of the hallway curtains just then. The sudden flash of light came upon Katharine where she stood with her hand[Pg 168] in Pellams'. She had meant that look, that softening of the eyes, that little quiver of the mouth, for darkness and concealment, and he caught it all before she could blot it out with a smile.
And, having argued to a conclusion, it mattered not to either that Miss Meiggs stood looking out at them with supreme contempt.
Dr. Williamson's landlady would not listen any further. She stood on the threshold of her lodger's combination of bedroom and office and said, with an offensively clear enunciation:
"You haven't any patients, and no more have I any longer, and I want that money to-morrow or I rent the room."
The door closed.
Williamson listened to her footsteps, as hard and uncompromising as her voice, and when they had ceased he got up from his chair, a despairing soul. After all, this was the rope's end. He would have to own up to a failure.
If Williamson had been a man of more force he would not have acknowledged so much, perhaps; but he had been conscientious and faithful to the limit of his understanding, patient to the verge of philosophy, and the result discouraged him.
He drew out his last clean collar and put it[Pg 172] on, with the vague idea of going somewhere and doing something—what, he could not have told. His eyes fell on a framed document hanging near his mirror, a small but ornate instrument, setting forth that the Faculty and Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University, by virtue of the authority in them vested, etc., conferred the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry on Philip Howard Williamson.
His thoughts turned back toward a morning over four years gone, when he walked down the platform bearing that "last of his childhood's toys," and in imagination P.H. Williamson, M. D., held conversation with Philip Howard Williamson, A. B.
Williamson, A. B., standing just the other side of the mirror, spoke and said:
"It looks as though you were up against it."
Williamson, M. D., arranging his tie so as to hide his soiled shirt, answered:
"I am up against it. And it's your fault."
Williamson, A. B., did not seem to see it. But he was a conceited creature, anyway.
"It's more than half your fault," went on the man on the real side of the mirror. "You dug and worked, and you thought that if you only kept ahead of your class in Physiology you had a clean card to success. How many fellows did you know in college?"
"Some. I never went in for being popular. There were Trueman, and Miller, and Rodney—"
"And how many of them were of the sort to help you? Trueman, without family or brains, and Miller, who lived in the East, and little Rod—"
"They were the best I could meet. They were the only ones who understood that I really wanted people. No one understood how I loved the college and wanted to be in things. I wasn't good at telling; and besides, I had my work to do. They knew the way I used to look across the campus on Spring nights—"
Williamson, M. D., checked him at this point. That impractical creature thought that they were talking of friendship, when it was only a question of Pull. He conveyed that point to the Bachelor.
"Why didn't you find some friends who would be of use to Me?" he asked, savagely. "While you were following out sutures and involuntary reactions, what was Marshall doing? Running for class president and making the Mandolin Club and getting acquainted with people of some use to him. He isn't one-two-six with me for ability and never was; but he has patients to give away, and I—"
Williamson, A. B., came to bat.
"You do mightily well to reproach me with all this. How have you done in making friends? Did you work up any connections at Columbia those three years? Have you tried to find anyone here in town? What friends have you except Stanford men? What have you done for yourself, anyway?"
The other weakly quoted what the Head Demonstrator had said of his surgery.
Williamson, A. B., held him to the point: "I also was called the keenest student of my time," said he; "but it isn't bringing you patients."
The M. D. broke sullenly away, leaving the A. B. frowning back of the mirror. These dead selves are so crude! He ended the interview by slamming out of the house.
For the twentieth time that week he cast up accounts with himself, as the electric car sped toward civilization. Assets, one dollar and five cents, just reduced by a grinding monopoly from a dollar-ten; liabilities, a laundry bill and six weeks' rent. Truly, a squalid failure. If he could only hold out a little longer! There was in sight a situation as consulting physician to a lodge in his father's Order, which would mean a living at least. He had the promise of it in a month's time. A loan of twenty-five dollars now would save him, but no good angel occurred to him,[Pg 175] think as he might, and he had nothing he could afford to pawn.
Troubled in spirit, he sauntered listlessly up Post street from Kearny. The mid-day rain had not yet dried from the pavements, and the air was clear and fresh. Against the last of a January sunset, the tops of the city were growing indistinct. The personnel of the crowd on the streets had changed; the promenaders and the cocktail-route procession had dwindled to a few stragglers. There was less of a press now, and most of the people were of the class that work until six, belated bookkeepers and girls from shops and sewing rooms. He watched these toilers with a vague feeling of envy; he dragged the feeling to the light and found that he was coveting the day's work just passed. What would not he have given to be tired at the end of a day of profitable toil? It was the hour when comfortable people sit down to dinner.
In front of an art store he saw Lincoln, the Chronicle man, idly studying the pictures. Williamson had known him as well as he had known any man at Palo Alto, but he walked by without a word, feeling in no mood for companionship. A few steps further he turned, and went back and stood behind his friend.
"Hello, Phil!" said Lincoln, in cheery sur[Pg 176]prise. "Well, you are a stranger! Been keeping pretty close to your office, haven't you?"
"Yes," answered Williamson, without going into particulars.
"I haven't happened to get a detail out in your direction and my health has been unfortunately good, so I haven't seen you for moons, not since the night at the Zink, last Thanksgiving."
"You newspaper men see more of the fellows than a man in my profession can hope to do," said the physician. "It isn't ethics for me to hunt them up, you know."
"How is the practice, so far?"
"Well," answered Williamson, hiding the bitterness of it with a laugh; "the practice is about all I have got out of it."
"Not so bad as that, I'll bet," protested Lincoln. "Are you going down for Commencement, or the Ball, or anything?"
"No, I shan't be able to get down," answered the other, turning in his fingers the lonely dollar in his pocket. "That's the worst of the medical profession," he added, equivocally.
His thoughts came fast as they stood there in the fading daylight before the picture-shop. It was entirely probable that Lincoln would lend him the money he needed, and would lend it gladly. Their college friendship had been sincere, and a few years do not[Pg 177] change a thing like that. He knew that the man had a good position on the Chronicle and that he saved a large portion of his money—he had been economical at the University. Fortune could never smile upon Lincoln sufficiently to work any material change in his dress; he had always looked like a pauper; to-day, poverty showed in the journalist rather than in the carefully-dressed physician.
Williamson's heart grew lighter. This Stanford man, rising before him in his hour of desperation, should tide him over his temporary trouble. Of all the men at the University there had been none who had spoken so often and so sincerely of the Stanford spirit as Lincoln. Here was a chance to put it to a test. He knew his man. Williamson felt himself filled with a faith in Divine Providence.
But it was not easy to ask the loan. To suggest such a thing is less difficult to some people than to others. To Williamson it was anything but a simple thing. He could never broach the subject there on the sidewalk. The matter must be led up to in some way; to brace in cold blood was impossible. He moved his fingers in nervous irresolution, and the dollar touched them significantly.
"Say, Lew, let's not stand here all night; come to dinner with me, can't you? We'll[Pg 178] have a good Alumni chat; we don't bump into each other very often."
He felt horribly hypocritical, yet this was the only way.
"You haven't had dinner, have you?" he went on, when Lincoln hesitated a bit.
"No. I'll be glad to, thank you, Phil. Where do you go?"
"Let's try Sanguinetti's for the fun of the thing. We can talk down there, and it won't break us, either."
They found a corner table in the restaurant. The room wore the quiet look of Monday evening, the calm that follows the storm of Sunday, when the place rocks with post-picnic revelry. A squat negro, perched on the edge of a serving-table by the wall, sang vociferously to a resonant banjo. Now and then a party of swarthy Latins joined in mildly when the selections incurred their favor.
The two college men found it easy chatting. Williamson's dollar had brought a very good dinner, particularly the chicken and the tortillas; the claret was abundant and not half bad when jollied with seltzer. He was trusting to Lincoln for tobacco.
Still the physician could not bring himself to the point toward which the dinner was intended to smooth the road. The "Dago red" had mellowed them both and they talked merrily of the days at Palo Alto, bringing up one[Pg 179] good memory after another, drifting gradually to an exchange of Alumni personals of which the newspaper man furnished the larger part. They talked of the men their young University had sent into the distant parts of the world, youngsters running mines in the Antipodes, with fat salaries to keep up their courage; of the little Stanford colony in Western Australia and the Pioneers in China. There were a good many for so new a college. Then there were the commonplaces who were doing well at home. The thought of bringing the serious side of his own case into this chat gave Williamson a chill. It was a foolish bit of pride, but it was getting harder every minute to down it. He deftly turned the subject his way.
"It isn't all prosperity, though. I've noticed that some of them seem to be up against it lately—just hard luck stories, I suppose. There's Rawdon, for example."
Lincoln leaned back comfortably in his chair.
"Let me tell you a case that has come under my notice lately and see what you think of it," he said. "I won't mention names, but it's about a man we both knew at College. He had a place on the paper, the Chronicle, and during the political season did very well; after that there came a slump and the city editor let him out; the other papers had no room[Pg 180] for him, of course—they were dropping men—and he couldn't get a thing of any sort to do, though he rustled hard. You know Coles and Harrison, the boys call them the Stanford Employment Bureau, they have found quite a number of places for the fellows; but this particular man was evidently up against it, and there wasn't the smallest symptom of a job. He managed to get something in the Sunday supps, but barely enough to keep him alive, and nothing certain. Meanwhile he pawned his things gradually and grew pretty well discouraged. I remember I heard him say once, and his laugh covered more than I guessed at the time, that Jewish holidays ought to be prohibited by state law, since closed doors under the three balls meant some Stanford man's going hungry. He got down to bedrock and finally reached the point where he had gone without three successive meals. Pretty rough, wasn't it?"
"I should say so," answered Williamson. His own distress was trivial beside a trouble like this.
Lincoln fed the alcohol flame burning around the omelet just brought them.
"It seems to me," he went on, "that there is a case in which a man is justified in asking help; he ought to ask it long before he gets to such a pass as that; if he lets his pride prevent him it's his own fault. We certainly[Pg 181] have carried away from the University something of the spirit we learned there. I know for my part that such a man has a claim on whatever help I can give him, and as a Stanford man he has a right to seek it. Don't you agree with me?"
Williamson had been waiting through the course of the dinner for a chance to advance an identical theory. He could not have hoped for a better opening.
"Indeed I do," he said. "You have the old Stanford spirit as strong as ever, haven't you, Lew? Now I want to tell you a story."
At a table near them a woman who looked as though she had a history, one that dated far back at that, began to sing—one of those ballads about home and the wandering boy. The two men tipped back in their chairs and listened to the song. Williamson was planning what he should say as soon as it was ended. It would be better to tell the whole thing.
During the applause that followed, Lincoln dropped his cigarette into his coffee cup and started to speak. Williamson, unwilling that another subject should follow the last words they had exchanged, interrupted him.
"I have a story, too, Lew, and it's about myself. I don't doubt this is rather a surprise to you," he went on, noticing the look on the other's face, "although you know the[Pg 182] way of the young physician is hard. The fact is, I have got to the point where I must get a little temporary lift or give up the struggle for a while, and I can't bear the thought of that."
Then he went on swiftly, ignoring his friend's attempts at interruption, until he had told the whole story of his uphill work and his defeat.
"You asked me just now, Lew, if I didn't think one Stanford man should help another who really needed help, if he could. I put up my last coin for an opportunity to ask you the same question, but with a different purpose."
Lincoln's eyes were moist as he reached across the table and grasped Williamson's hand.
"I think you know me well enough, old man, to know my answer to that question. But you did not let me finish my story. You see, I—er—I'm the man I was telling you about."
It would never have happened if Boggs hadn't dropped in on Jimmy Mason and Pellams when they were cramming for an examination, for, although Pellams had long "kept an axe" for Boggs, he needed the inspiration of the moment to swing it like this. It was always so with Pellams' best things.
The inspiration in this case came one evening when he and Jimmy were doing genuine work. People who have seen it declare that the spectacle of Mason cramming for an examination was one of the show sights of the University. He generally let things go until the last day of grace; then with sundry fellow-victims and a motley collection of notes, syllabi, books, reports—anything on the subject—gathered on the green cloth of his table, he would start in. Raps might come from time to time on the locked door; Jimmy would hold up a warning finger for silence, while the outsider shot through the keyhole[Pg 186] such remarks as "Jimmy Mason, loosen up. You've mixed my clothes again;" or, "Hi, Jimmy! give me the markings;" or, possibly, hurled a mass of unrepeatable terms at the unresponsive door. Perhaps his roommate, Marion, would come in when the lights went out; then Jimmy would call a breathing-spell, during which, while "Nosey" went to bed behind the portieres, he drew his lamp from its hiding-place and made strong coffee in the coffee-pot or chafing-dish, whichever had been washed the more recently. Somewhere in the small hours the seminary would adjourn with "international complications," "tendencies of the age," "sub-head B," heating their brains. Out of bed at seven for a final swift review of the subject, Mason would sail over to class with a great unbreakfasted hollow beneath his sweater, to pass freely and gloriously, and to forget the whole mess by the time he had finished his afternoon nap.
And to see Jimmy in the seminary itself! How masterfully he kept track of headings, sub-headings and modifying circumstances! How he could scent at a day's distance the things which the professor was going to ask, as well as those he was going to skip! When he said, "Now, old Morton is heavy on this," the seminary digested the subject in all its bearings and ramifications; and when he said, "No use looking that up," they skipped the[Pg 187] heading, though pages of syllabi were slighted thereby. When the wandering mind of Pellams slid off the work, it was beautiful to see Jimmy lead it back with a word and a look; when he sent some sleepy Senior to bed with the remark, "You're no more good. Sleep it off and be fresh to-morrow," Jimmy touched the sublime.
The glory of it all was that upper-classmen as well as Freshmen put themselves absolutely under the Sophomore's rule when it was a question of an examination. Thus does the elective system level all ranks and give genius opportunity.
On the night that Boggs dropped in on them, Jimmy and Pellams were cramming alone. Two seniors who were usually in the group had gone somewhere to mix up in a complication over Student-Body treasurer. A Junior seldom out of line was a candidate for the Executive Committee; he had put his head in at the door to say, "Dead sorry, fellows, but can't get in it," and then gone down to Palo Alto to make himself agreeable to a dig girl who had "influence." The popularity of some people waxes strangely the latter part of April. A Freshman who was taking the course when he shouldn't and who stood on the dizzy brink of flunking it, had gone off with a Junior who wanted to stand well with certain Freshmen of importance, and who had[Pg 188] overjoyed the youngster with an invitation to Mayfield, an event which made flunking clear out of the University a thing of small moment to the Freshman's mind.
Pellams alone showed up. He was not in politics; further, he knew the value to himself of these evenings with Jimmy; not that the syllabi made much impression on him, but he carried enough to class next day to shadow forth an apparent knowledge of the subject. This he supplemented with two or three original reflections that interested the instructor and slipped him through. It was these flashes of intelligence that made him worth the labor to Mason. Sometimes he could set the whole seminary right on an obscure phrase; this made up for an hour of imperfect attention.
To-night the two men were hard at it. They sat at opposite sides of the table, the electric drop-light illuminating the papers between them.
"Say," said Pellams, "Bob Duncan's the luckiest baby in the bunch. He doesn't know as much about this course as I do, and he's got appendicitis, the doctor says—no fake."
"Now, Pellams," said Mason seriously, "you have to remember Cromwell. He did all this in sub-headings four to eleven. You've placed him, haven't you?"
"The guy that made them keep the powder dry?"
"The minister Cromwell; you remember him—the one who was bald."
Jimmy had learned that Pellams needed a concrete peg on which to hang his memories.
"Oh, sure, I've got him; that throw-away-ambition boy. Hadn't a hair between him and heaven."
A knock came at the door.
"That's it. Sh—sh!"
"Let me in, Jimmy." The room was still.
"I know you and Pellams are digging. I won't say a word to either of you, only give me a smoke."
"Haven't any," said Jimmy, rapidly transferring a sack of Durham and a package of papers from the table.
"Well, let me in, anyway. I want to read by your lamp. Oh, say, open up!"
"It's Boggs. If we don't let him in he'll stand and plead in outer darkness all night."
The door rattled. Jimmy howled "Ye-e-es!" in a tone of provoked affirmative, and Boggs was opened unto.
It would be hard to tell in what way Boggs did not block the seminary. He found the tobacco by invading Jimmy's sacred drawer during an absorbing discussion on land tenure; then he rolled and consumed exactly fourteen cigarettes. Pellams kept count out of the corner of his eye. Boggs was making smoke in the sunshine of free tobacco. He[Pg 190] put his feet on Mason's laundry packages, freshly stacked in the corner. He broke his word by talking politics steadily, and finally, when he drew out of the room just ahead of ten-thirty lights, a double sigh of relief went up from the crammers.
"That article needs fixing," said Pellams, meditatively, as Jimmy got out the chafing-dish and prepared the black coffee that makes additional pages of syllabi possible before sleep comes.
"I wonder," said Jimmy, "if he ever bought an ounce of tobacco since he came here. He's smoked mine every time he could find it since I've been in college. I remember," here Jimmy stopped to laugh, "that when I was a Freshmen—you'll bear witness I was a fresh one, too—I used to be pleased clear to the red at getting all that attention from an upper-classman. The satisfaction cost me a good many pounds of tobacco, though."
"His opinion of himself politically is what kills me. Lyman is his ideal. He loafs in Frank's room until Frank has had to give up smoking. It's fun to see him. I was in there the other night. 'How are you going to stand on the election, Frank?' says Boggsie, as though it were a conference of the powers. 'Oh, I think Higgins is pretty good,' says Frank; 'what do you think?' Not that he gave a whoop; he was trying to be polite.[Pg 191] 'Well, I may use my influence for Castleton,' says Boggsie, with his pet air of mystery. His influence consists of his roommate. 'The deuce you will!' says Frank, with sarcasm. All wasted though, for Boggsie fairly chapped at the compliment of having surprised him. 'Yes,' said Boggs, 'that's what I like to see, the office seeking the man; you know, a fellow ought to wait and go about his business until people recognize him. I don't like to see a man going around with his hand out, raking the Freshmen in.' Then he looks around for applause and slopes out, smoking the last of Lyman's Durham."
"He rake in the Freshmen! It would cost too much! Boggs wants the office to seek him, so as to save expense. When he was small I think he must have been the sort of kid that won't play his marbles for fear that he'll wear them out. He'd do anything mean to get office, but he won't spend money for it; he has enough, too; he doesn't have to pinch as he does, but he hates to spend a nickel when he can worm it out of other people. I'd love to get a feed out of him in some way; oh, it would taste good!"
Pellams' ruddy face glowed fire-red with the dawn of an idea. His inspiration had come.
"James Russell Lowell Mason, I'll bet you the price of—anything you name—that I can[Pg 192] get a feed, a genuine, Mayfield-with-all-accompaniments, a Mayfield beer-beefsteak-Swiss-cheese-wine-and-song feed out of Boggsie!"
The aroma of the coffee filled the room. Jimmy polished his stein and a tumbler and poured for the two of them.
"But for my principle never to bet on a sure thing, I'd take you," he answered calmly. "You exclusive frat-men over on the Row" (Pellams was always loafing around the Hall) "haven't lived long enough with Boggsie to know him. He's a lobster, Pellams."
But the fat Junior sat there with mirth shining from every line of his face, and drank his coffee; then he rolled on the floor in joyous delirium and beat Jimmy's rugs with an Indian club until the man overhead jumped out of bed and shouted uncultured things down the elevator.
"Jimmy, darling!" cried he, waving a leg in the air for pure rapture, "Boggsie will treat, sure. We'll get him on his one big weakness; we'll play politics against pinching; you watch the office seek the man."
"I do. Look here; to-morrow we nominate him. You have a mob on the back seats applauding like fiends, and I'll be the power behind the throne to such a campaign of blood, beer and boodle as you never saw, old[Pg 193] Laundry-bags. We'll make Boggsie think he's ahead all the time; we can get him some votes, you know; and then he's to go away election day for the sake of the proprieties. I telegraph to him, 'Elected by one vote. Feed!' We have the feed business all properly worked up by that time, of course; just sizzling in his brain, and when he gets off the train we'll meet him with a mob and a brass band, run him to Mayfield or Menlo, and there'll be a sound of revelry by night at his expense."
The ruin of this particular cramming seminary was accomplished. The "coffee hours" were spent in a conference broken by smothered laughter, and by "Nosey" Marion's sleepy protests from behind the curtains.
Next day, after Higgins and Castleton had been duly placed in nomination, Pellams rose from his seat in Chapel and nominated "Lorenzo Boggs, gentleman and student; a man who has let college politics alone, never having sought office from his fellow-students until now, when the office seeks him—Lorenzo Boggs for Student-Body president," amidst a storm of applause half ironical, half worked up by Jimmy Mason.
Pellams flunked in the examination; his co-conspirator passed meagerly; but Pellams' heart lost little of its wonted buoyancy. This was about the last class of any kind he at[Pg 194]tended in the week between nomination and election. From the Row to the Hall and from the Hall to Palo Alto he moved with an energy rare to his rotund body. It was a new sensation, politics with a josh behind. He revelled in it.
"We have to put up some show of constituents, you know," he said to Mason; "and, as Higgins and Castleton have no strings on me, I might as well help Boggsie out. Too bad my personal magnetism isn't being diffused for a more likely candidate."
"Looks curious," said Jimmy, "the fight Boggs is putting up. Yesterday I struck the Women's Debating League; they won't vote for Higgins because they have been credibly informed—by the Castleton people, of course—that he's bad, and—"
"You and I should have been nominated, St. James," interrupted Pellams, crossing his hands on his breast and looking at the gas fixture.
"And they won't vote for Castleton because they have found out that when he fixed up the open meeting between his society and theirs he was only playing for votes."
"Do you know that Boggs has a girl cousin in Palo Alto? He has worked her to whoop it up for him down there."
"His literary society will go for him all right. They are tired of the way Castleton[Pg 195] and Higgins have been waiting for the job to drop down like a ripe plum. Those two marks have worked the thing too long."
"Jimmy, you don't mean that Boggs has any chance?"
"Not a ghost. But we don't have to work up the whole thing; there'll be enough to make a decent showing and lend an air of truth to that telegram of ours. What have you done?"
"Got the Rhos, anyway. We won't vote for anyone as a frat; the fellows hate Castleton on account of that Annual-board election last Christmas, and Higgins has thrown mud at us that we know of. I've about signed them all, except Duncan. Bob knew Higgins' wife's cousin in some dark corner of the country. Say, it's funny how tired people in general are getting of Higgins and Castleton and their gang politics. At Palo Alto yesterday I heard a crowd talking about it. 'Down with organized politics,' they said, and one of them who works in the laboratory with Boggsie said he was going to vote for modest merit."
"Keep it going, Pellams, it won't hurt. Soothe his feelings beautifully after the banquet. I have it all fixed up to get him off the campus."
Higgins' stock went down wonderfully in the next few days. Higgins, said the Castle[Pg 196]ton men, had pulled wires and worked combinations ever since he had been in the University. It hurts a College politician to have it known that he has been in politics. They pointed to his rather doubtful record as a member of the Daily Palo Alto board. The sins of his Freshman days rose up against him when they touched on the fact that he had been elected class-president on a barb ticket, and had immediately gone over to the enemy in a fraternity house. Finally, to fill his cup a Freshman, who had withstood fraternity blandishments for a year, glided through the hands of the Gamma Chi Taus, who fully believed they had him, and appeared on the very Sunday preceding election in all the glory of Higgins' frat pin. It was a bad slip; right there it cost fifteen Gamma Chi votes with a large girl following.
"It isn't the swell girls that count for numbers, anyway," reflected the Higgins' supporters, wisely, and they turned to the cultivation of the dig girl who trails up the cinder paths mornings at eight, and who lives in the library during football practice. But the girl cousin of Boggs had been there to good purpose when they turned in that direction, and Roble only showed Castleton still ahead. Then a not over-scrupulous Junior in Higgins' trail started a story on Castleton, a tale calculated to put him in the same category,[Pg 197] so far as being "bad" was concerned. Wednesday evening the anecdote reached Roble; a girl who had a brother heard it spreading at dinner, and by noon next day half the girls in Roble had their opinion of a crowd that would start such a malicious libel on Mr. Castleton "just to get votes." The Encina politicians did not know Roble girls for nothing.
So it happened on Thursday that Pellams clumped breathlessly into Jimmy's room with a still wet copy of the Daily and tragically pointed to the notice: "Withdrawal: I hereby withdraw from my candidacy for Student-Body presidency in favor of Lorenzo Boggs. Andrew Higgins."
"Ye gods," gasped the Sophomore, "he can't win, Pellams, he can't! Castleton gets it sure. For heaven's sake, don't put the gang on to this until after to-morrow, though. I wouldn't have the double-cross worked on us for a cool ten credits."
Fair dawned the day that was to float or to wreck so many little hopes. There are two periods of the year when the professor who has been young forgets the roll-call, and the one who never has been, remembers it. The first period comes in late November; the other is the morning of the Student-Body election.
With consummate tact, Jimmy had come to an understanding with Boggs as to the propriety of his leaving the campus during the election.
"You see, you stand a splendid show of getting it," he explained, "and the appropriate thing for you is to keep out of sight. When Pellams nominated you he made a point out of the fact that the office was seeking you; that has been a leading feature of the campaign, and it has won you lots of votes. You must not spoil the impression you have made for yourself and which we have emphasized all along. See?"
Boggs saw, or thought he did, and went to town, ostensibly to carry out a commission for Pellams, but not before he had rallied some of his constituents and given them final instructions. It was wonderful to see what a variety of tastes and interests were represented. An older politician would have scented danger from the fact that so many of them had never come out into the arena before; but Jimmy only looked with smiling curiosity on the Ethics major or the Education "shark," dug up somewhere from their abstruse speculations.
It was on their way to the station that Jimmy touched on the remaining issue of the campaign which he was managing.
"You remember my speaking about a feed the other day? I ought to have spoken more fully, but I've been busy with other details."
"You know the custom," cut in the conspirator; "it will be expected of you if you get the office; it ought to come off to-night to be done properly."
"That will all be attended to," said Boggs calmly.
"You've seen about it?"
"It's all fixed."
"There'll be a lot of them; they will meet you at the train and you'll have to do it in shape. I can lend you a little."
"Thanks, old man," said the victim, squeezing Mason's arm, "but just you leave that to me. It's all arranged to do the square thing by the people who have stood in with me. So long. Look out for me, won't you? I'll be down on the Flyer."
When Jimmy got back to the Quadrangle there was a shifting mass about the polls. Encina politicians were there, Palo Alto politicians, serious-looking fellows from the Camp, and spruce ones from the Row. Castleton's followers stood in groups, looking smug and confident, while sour-faced Higgins people were revengefully putting in all their work for Boggs.
Every election has its Mark Hanna; this time it was Jennie Brown, whom Pellams knew as "Boggsie's dig girl cousin." She was the silent spirit of the whole Boggs campaign. Mason, in telling the story of it afterward, said:
"Pellams and I were there when the polls opened. That girl was on hand, too, with a gang of Palo Alto girls all ready to start things for Boggsie. Well, you ought to have seen her. Heaven help us and our masculine schemes if they get women suffrage and the Brown lives. At ten-thirty in the first rush she steered a whole Education class, worked them beautifully past Castleton's hungry heelers, right up to the ballot-box. She wasn't working combinations; it cut no ice with her how they voted for managers, and treasurers and editors, so long as they were solid for Lorenzo Boggs.
"I numbered them off as they voted, and I could see that things were going darkly and suspiciously for our friend the Lobster. 'What do you think of it?' says Pellams. He was getting excited. 'We didn't know our power, did we? Look at the votes he's rolling up. Say, we're corkers and never knew it!' A few classes from the respectable part of the Quad, where they do Political Science, came drifting along then with votes for Cas[Pg 201]tleton, and it went Castleton for awhile; then a lull during class, followed by a scattering vote for Boggs. It was about an even thing during eleven-thirty break, with Castleton still ahead. The frat votes fell in bunches in the biggest rush at noon; I could catch old Boggsie's name marked on most of them, but Castleton was full fifty to the good then. I bolted lunch with Pellams at his house and came back to the Quad. Things were beginning to happen. People I never heard of, the kind of bird that floats in and out on the train and probably doesn't know there is a Student-Body with troubles of its own; digs, crawling out into the light, blinking away at the line; Laboratory fiends in squads, actually losing twenty minutes of precious credit,—the darndest crowd of resurrected stiffs the Quad ever saw, strung out from the registrar's office to the polls, every last one of them squeezing a ballot properly marked ahead, all looking as if it were a conferring of degrees, serious as hell, you know, and the eye of the Brown girl or of one of her crowd fastened on each of them. Poor Castleton, he was a goner! His heelers got up against this line of sphinxes and fell back, done up. It was two o'clock and after; still the vote rolled up. At two-thirty they closed shop, and Pellams and I fell on each other's chests[Pg 202] behind a pillar, and busted at the josh on ourselves.
"Then we went over to get the figures of our triumph. 'Boggs, 402; Castleton, 375,' and the biggest vote in the history of the office. Well, you bet we went down to the train! Couldn't freeze us out! We were going to pry open the Lobster's claws and use them for a corkscrew. So we piled into a 'bus. But, honest, we were paralyzed.
"Down at the station was the conquering Brown with her people, all watching for the train. Say, when Boggsie saw the whole gang of us, he was a balloon. He got up on a truck and made us a speech of thanks. Pellams and I yelled 'Hear, Hear,' right along. Oh, it was awful! He gave us the whole history of the Student-Body from the days of 'Ninety-one up. Finally Pellams couldn't stand it any longer and called out, 'Good boy, Boggsie. How about that feed?' and Boggsie waved his hand like a Tuesday evening spieler and said, 'I have provided for that, ladies and gentlemen. Miss Brown, my cousin, invites you all down to her home in Palo Alto for a little refreshment. Everyone is welcome.'
"I had to pick my fat friend up. Boggsie's getting out of the whole thing without spending a bean knocked him cold. But he got his wind later. You ought to have heard his[Pg 203] speech down there at the house, with a plate of melted strawberry muck in one hand and a glass of sour in the other, replying to Boggsie's vote of thanks to us two, and skinning his face at the Brown girl. Oh, it was a peach!"
"Mrs. Leland Stanford has decided to sell her jewels to keep open the doors of the University."
Associated Press Reports, 1896.
Bonita, mother of racers, stood just beyond the shadow of an oak tree, leisurely cropping the new pasture grass. Occasionally, she lifted her head toward the red roofs of the University buildings as though she expected somebody. The chimney sent up a stripe of black against patches of cloud and sky, and the even hum of the shops came across the pasture with a distinctness born of the motionless Spring air. Bonita, putting her pointed ears forward, could catch the upper notes of the chorus, rehearsing in the Chapel.
Such a day as this should bring Craig into the pastures. He could lean on the fence and pull at his pipe to his heart's content. The brood-mare did not fancy the smoke, but she liked to have him talk to her. There were a number of interests they had in common; the smell of the new grass, the tempting silver-green of willows budding along the lake beyond the fence, delighted him, too, while[Pg 208] Bonita herself was deeply interested in his University.
She could remember perfectly the days when the ranch spread undisturbed from her paddock in the stockfarm yard to the deep shadows of the Arboretum. Then she was only a colt, to be sure; but the world beyond the paddock fence interested her. The grooms in the yard were not more sorry than she herself that the last colt from a famous sire should be a filly with an imperfect ankle-joint. When they took the other colts out of the paddock to put them through their morning lessons around the little ring in the kindergarten, she wished mightily to follow. She turned about the corral at a good speed to show them that she had the proper spirit of her blood, but they always shut the red gate too soon and the others went on up the road impudently flicking their fuzzy tails at her.
A gray-bearded man with kindly eyes, whom they called the "Governor," used to drive up under the blossoming eucalyptus trees every now and then; he stopped one day by her paddock and came to look at her. Bonita liked him at once, and she paid him the most delicate attention she knew by trying to eat his clothes. The Governor laughed as he put her off, and said that it was too bad about her ankle. Then he drove over to watch the kindergarten learn the alphabet of race-winning.
Later, she watched her fellows go lightly down the road to the stock car and rumble away over the track to the main line and on to the great world where men put trust in them and sent them back to the Farm with newspaper clippings and horseshoe wreaths made of immortelles with the figure 2-and-a-fraction in the middle.
When she was grown and they had put her out in a side pasture, there were some new stables there, with a lot of men thronging round them who did not look like grooms. The knowledge that something of importance to the world was about to happen the other side of the fence made her feel more contented. If she could not travel in a box car to see such things, it was good to have some of the excitement of it brought in to the ranch.
At first she did not notice much, being deeply interested just then in the early education of Fenelon, 2.10-1/4, who was a fretful infant and took up most of her time. When he had passed out of her immediate care and was cropping sweet alfalfa with the rest, she watched curiously the foundations sinking into the grass, the crowd of people who came one May morning to hear things said round a block of yellow sandstone, the fitting of the red tiling above the stone walls. By this time she knew the reason of it all; the dead heir, the monument, the boys and girls who were com[Pg 210]ing to be taught in this great kindergarten. Finally, when these had poured into the place, some of them straggled out into the pasture and made friends with her. From them she learned more definitely the great things that had been done and were about to happen; they told her of the wonderful endowment, of the strangers from corners of the world never reached even by the lucky horses who had rolled away in the box cars, of the numberless buildings that were to surround and dwarf the structures she had seen grow up in the sun.
"The Governor" had driven less often through the yard since the yellow buildings were up, and the boys and girls playing among them. After awhile he ceased to come altogether. Then Bonita, the brood-mare, understood that something had happened. It was more quiet everywhere after this. Most of the horses and mares, her colts among them, went off in the cars, not to come back, they told her. She stood under the dark oaks for hours at a time, fearing lest they would send her, too. Her longing for the world was past now; she wished to be left in the quiet pastures with the students to talk to.
It was during these days that Craig, who taught something to the younger people, used to lean on the fence and smoke during the afternoons. He was not much older than many of the students she knew, and she liked[Pg 211] him particularly. He had lumps of something white and sweet, and he rubbed her head in exactly the right spot. When she had won his confidence, he told her many things about himself and the College. Once he had been at another place, a college older than this by a long time but not so famous. The Overseer of this one had written him to come and teach there, at a better salary. He explained to her what this meant—money for the support of his mother, and in a few years the study in Europe of which he dreamed, and for which he worked and saved, and beside this the growing up with a new university, from an instructorship in the present to a full professorship in the wonderful future. He told her what was promised him, and showed her a picture once of the plan of the completed university, with its arch and chapel tower and the great mechanical shops spreading back across her shady pasture to the borders of the lake.
Then she learned what the death of "the Governor" had brought upon them; why the horses had been sold and why there were no more hammers nor chisels ringing against the stone. The farm was losing a thousand dollars a day, and the Government had seized upon the money they were building the monument with and was trying to wrest it entirely from the woman who had stopped once to pet the brood-mare when "the Governor" was[Pg 212] driving in the yard. These things were hard to understand. There had never been any question of money here that Bonita could remember.
One day she had nosed vainly for the sugar he used to bring; Craig told her that for two months he had had no money to give his mother; that if it wasn't for a grocer in Mayfield who was kind to people in trouble, they would have had nothing to eat. Bonita, remembering the students she had seen gathering mushrooms, suggested grass; but he told her, laughing, that only one man to his knowledge had ever lived that way and he was a king, long ago, in the holy times. He, Craig, would have to have money. In an old vest he had worn in the East, his mother found a few pennies and had walked to Palo Alto and spent them for stamps for the sake of paying for something. After this explanation, Bonita did not hunt for sugar.
Although things grew easier after a time, Craig was gloomy enough during the afternoons when they talked across the fence. Once "the Governor's Wife" had been given five hundred dollars to pay her servants, and she had given it to the Overseer for his teachers. But the Overseer had begun at the houses where there were the most children, and he had not got around to Craig, who had only a mother. When temptation came to him,[Pg 213] he told Bonita about it and asked her advice. A letter had come to him with an offer from his old college; it meant a full salary and the hope of Europe. It was everything to him, he said, but he couldn't bear to go away. The brood-mare had put her nose affectionately against his arm. She understood little about the salary, but she knew how dreadful it would be to leave the pasture. The man must have understood, for after being quiet a long time and smoking harder than ever, he said that he was going to stay. But many times after that, when other offers came, he told her how hard it was to decide and how black everything looked for the University. The Government was pulling at the fund, and the lady who was building the monument was going to sell her precious things to get money.
The last time Craig leaned on the fence and whistled to her, he had been very unhappy. Since then Bonita had not seen him. She was afraid that he, too, had gone, after all, as the horses and grooms had gone, without even a good-bye. She felt that if he had finally decided to give it up, the smoke must fade away above the top of the chimney and the voices cease altogether.
But to-day, when the clouds were breaking and the clear blue of summer-time looked down between them, the chimney-smoke was blacker than ever and across by the lake fence[Pg 214] some young people were pulling mushrooms and laughing. Bonita looked over toward the buildings. Then she cropped grass again, for only a gurgling meadow-lark broke the line of the fence-rail.
Suddenly she heard Craig's low whistle. He had come out from the Wood-shop and put his elbows on the fence, his pipe sending up clear, white smoke. Stopping now and then for a blade of grass, to show that she was not too eager, the brood-mare walked slowly up to him. He was not happy, as she had expected to find him. His brow was puckered and his lips shut tightly on the stem of his pipe. Bonita put her nose over the fence. The instructor took his pipe from his mouth and rubbed her cheek slowly with the back of his knuckles.
"Well, old girl," he said, "I'm afraid you and I won't have many more talks over this fence."
The brood-mare looked at him with questioning eyes.
"I plead guilty," he went on, "I oughtn't to have kept the secret from you, I know. The minute I got the letter I should have come out to tell you about it, but it was raining; honestly, it was."
He gave her a lump of sugar by way of conciliation.
"You see, I couldn't resist this one," he[Pg 215] continued, while the sugar crunched under her teeth; "it's a big honor and three thousand a year, and I've got to do something; now, haven't I?"
His tone was doubtful, as though he were hardly sure of her opinion. The meadow-lark which he had disturbed was releasing the joy of its full throat under a shaft of sunlight further down the fence. The air hung over them, sweet with the fragrance of the freshened pasture, charged with the mysterious power of a Santa Clara Spring. No man, or horse, who has caught that smell, ever forgets the valley of the Saint. Bonita was looking across the green to the mushroom gatherers.
Craig spoke, a little petulantly.
"You never agree with me about my going, anyway. You seem to think that the beauty of this campus and the freedom of everything here is argument enough. But it's all too uncertain. I've told you that my salary is cut away down and I'm not any too sure of ever having it made up to me; as it is, we assistants are here only because the heads decided to cut their own pay and keep us for the sake of the departments. If the suit is lost, it's good-bye, anyway. I can't believe you have much idea that we're going to win it to-morrow. It went for us in the lower courts, here in California, but do you think[Pg 216] that the Supreme Court of these selfish and United States is going to decide for us just because they were gallant enough to Mrs. Stanford to hurry the case up in the calendar and cut short her suspense? You don't understand things, if you think so. Out here where you live, the rains may be late and the grass seem never coming, but you know it'll rain sooner or later, and you're getting hay right along and it doesn't take much water to bring up what you want. But with me it's different. We're going to get a weather prediction from Washington to-morrow that'll tell us definitely whether it's to be winter for keeps around here or summer and a good crop."
The instructor leaned on the fence and puffed on at his pipe. Bonita endured the smoke that clung around them in the still air, for she felt that they were at a crisis. She drew up closer to the rails and put her head against the instructor's shoulder. Suddenly, the man let his pipe fall into the grass and he laid his face against her soft, gray nose.
"You're a good old girl," he said, "and you know more about it than anyone. But you haven't any money question to worry you. You don't love the place a bit more than I do; you don't love it as much, because you only know the nature side of it, and I know the bigness of the rest of it, too. But the[Pg 217] hope's almost dead, old lady; I can't tie my ambitions to a corpse, you wouldn't ask me to, and you know I'm not the only one to be looked after. But, oh, it'll be hard to go, won't it! There's something that grips you where you live—you understand it."
The brood-mare did not pull away, although he was holding her head tightly in his hot hands.
"If it all goes smash to-morrow and I can ever raise the money, I'm going to send back for you, my beauty. You're getting too old to bring much now, and you'll have to go sure if the Government wins."
Bonita lifted her head suddenly. A drop of cold rain had fallen against her face. The clouds had drawn together sulkily above them. Across the intervening turf hastened the mushroom gatherers, their baskets full of the brown and white trophies. Craig picked up his pipe.
"Good-bye," he said, with a caress. "I'll come over to-morrow and tell you the final news."
Bonita had never shown him how much she really cared, true to her feminine reserve; but to-day, leaning her slender neck far over the fence, she whinnied after him until he stopped at the corner of the Power-house and waved back to her. Then she cropped grass slowly while it began to sprinkle.
Next morning, when the second hour was about half through, a feeling of excitement filled the Quad and penetrated the classrooms. Craig's students were not paying very creditable attention to his lecture. He himself was keeping his mind on the syllabus with considerable difficulty. When someone passed the window and the eyes of the entire class, including even the enthusiastic dig on the front seat, were turned that way, Craig let his own wander and hesitated the least bit in his talk.
All at once, like a thunderclap, a half-dozen voices somewhere in the Quad gave the yell. Craig stopped speaking and looked at the class, who gazed back at him. A man with his back to the windows stood up and looked out. The seats creaked ominously. Then, like grass after a breeze, the whole class rose and craned necks at the window.
The instructor, coming to himself, began feebly:
"If you please—"
Again the yell, not the desperate cry that is wrung out to cheer a losing team, but the voice of victory, of joy and of great relief.
Professor Craig went out of his classroom like a shot, the class after him.
There was a triumphal parade to the station, with flags and the entire population of Roble beating time with dust-pans and[Pg 219] brooms, to meet the President who had sent the happy telegram. There were songs and speeches and demonstrations in front of Xasmin House, with fellows hugging each other or swinging round in side-line fashion, girls crying, and the President's parrot incidentally learning the yell. Then, at night, the alumni poured in on the trains from north and south, stirring the tumult anew. Gay lanterns jewelled the porches of the Row, the Gym blazed with light for more speeches and football songs, with no thought of football in the singing of them, and round and round the shadowy Quad, where the yell flashed in electric letters, went a wild carnival procession of men and women, with torches and noise-machines, and Instructor Craig at their head.
The gleam of the unusual lights, the happy shouts, and the clamor of firecrackers, came in mingled confusion across to the dark pasture where Bonita stood by the fence with her head raised and her pointed ears forward. Craig had not come that afternoon to tell her the final truth; but, listening and watching from the shadow, she did not feel that he had gone away.
When she did see him again, he wore a new suit and, what was more important, its pockets bulged with sugar. She was very glad to see him, of course, but her greeting[Pg 220] was an indifferent one after all; for she was preoccupied, just then, with the infant needs of Pronto 2:17 ¾, and could not stop to interest herself in the fact that the youngest of the universities had been saved for all time.
Thomas the Rhymer.
The regular after-dinner crowd was smoking in Frank Lyman's Encina boudoir, lolling over his sofa, their feet on his table, their legs tangled on his iron bedstead. The steam heat was coming "Clank! clank!" into the radiators, for it was a cold, clear evening in the time between rains. Outside the fog was thick upon the hills, sending gray ghost-fingers over toward the valley. You could lean from the window and smell its clean moisture, mingling with the scent of young plants in the fresh-turned earth. Frank himself sat close to the window and looked out toward the gymnasium, because he had discovered a new amusement. There was a section of the board walk between Encina and the gym which was flooded just to its top by a pool from the late[Pg 224] rain, so that if you stepped heavily thereon the plank gave a bit and dropped you into the water. The diversion consisted in betting with "Pegasus" Langdon on the style of crossing adopted by chance wayfarers. The stakes were five cents a corner. Frank backed the class who took the thing at one bound; "Peg" laid his coin on those who went over on their tiptoes, trying not to spring the plank into the water. For every one who did neither, but walked around the puddle, five cents a corner went into the tobacco fund. It was just as good as matching nickels and involved less exertion.
There is a theory in the Hall that you can tell a man's habits by the rooms he occupies there. The nearer he gets to the corner fronting on the baseball field, the more sociable is his nature. Those who hold the rooms at that corner or on the second or third floors, so as to be in easy hail of anyone coming in at the back entrance, are Public Characters. Their apartments are reception rooms in very truth. It has never been explained why Encina does not sag at that end, like an excursion steamer on the side toward a boat race. If, on the other hand, you believe you have a Mission, or if you are a Dig, rooming in the Hall because it is convenient to the Quad, then you dwell in "Faculty Row," away off to the east, where the early sun[Pg 225] pulls you out in time to put the finishing touches to your Latin, and where there is no trafficking to and from the Quad to disturb your evening study.
It was said that Frank Lyman was the only man at the Quadrangle end of the Hall who ever made much pretense of studying. By the same token the keepers of the college tradition alleged that he alone of all the gang stood high in the opinion of the Faculty. It was a way he had. He stood well with everybody.
If they had taken the trouble to investigate, those who wondered at his ability both to loaf much and to study much, at his scholarship dwelling alongside of his popularity, they might have found that he kept the two things in harmony by a marvelous system. The gang dwelt in his room, made it their hang-out, but only just so long; when the hour arrived for Lyman's study-time, they vanished away mysteriously, took the hint conveyed in some fashion, no one ever knew how, and were gone.
To the under-classmen, Lyman was an object of healthy awe. Older than the average senior, he had been already in the larger world. His opinion of things had especial value even in his Junior year. After the football season, when he had been acknowledged the keenest manager the college[Pg 226] had ever found, the under-classmen had a blind faith in his infallibility. The older students relied on him in much the same way, though there were some who said that self lay at the bottom of Lyman's system of morals, that the watchword of his philosophy was "Does it pay?" These men were sentimentalists who had ideals. Langdon, the Sequoia editor, would have told you that he thought more of Lyman than of any two men in the class; it is a question, though, whether he would have recommended Lyman's advice in everything. Frank was a good man to keep a Freshman's money for him, to listen to his class-room troubles or to stand between the luckless youngster and Faculty wrath; but when it was a case into which something deeper entered, perhaps the Senior's worldly philosophy was not of the best sort. This was the idea of dreamers like "Pegasus" Langdon, who said things about "sentiment" and to whom Freshmen seldom came for advice. But Lyman continued to hold his after-dinner receptions, and his admirers piled themselves comfortably on his bed and believed in him implicitly.
The psychological moment came for the regular withdrawal. Frank opened his windows with care, donned the old bath-robe which was his armor for the battle intellectual, put on his eye-shade over his straight brown[Pg 227] hair, and opened his Pollock. At this hint the others slipped out; only Jimmie Mason lingered, his gaze on the shadowy hills with their faint fringe of dark green, the dregs of his pipe purring in the stillness. Lyman's room-mate was somewhere queening. Lyman himself, pretending to study, looked up from time to time, waiting for the Sophomore to unbosom himself. Frank knew the symptoms.
"Well, Jimmie?" he said at length—one couldn't study with that going on and Frank had his stint to finish.
"It's about my father."
Jimmie only nodded. The smoke went out in his pipe; he knocked the ashes from it and put it away mechanically in the common pipe-rack over the radiator.
"Tell me about it." Frank had closed his book, and was leaning back in his tilted chair, his feet braced in the shelf beneath, his hands clasped over his knees.
"Not much to tell, I guess, no more than you know already. I got a letter from the old lady."
"Your grandmother, eh?"
"Yes. She says something must be done. 'In low saloons,' she says, and I've been sizing it up—and Frank, don't you think I ought to go home?"
A silence again, with Lyman's alarm clock ticking placidly on the table between them.
It had come, the moment to bring the boy around; Frank had waited for it in the weeks since he had known the story. In this silence he mapped out his argument, as he would have prepared a brief.
"How much has your father ever helped you, Jimmie?"
"Not much. We've always been poor, you know."
"Because he drank?"
"Yes, he never could keep a job but so long."
"Not even when you were small?"
"I wasn't with him then. When my mother got—when she left him, she took me with her. Then she died, and I was with my grandmother awhile, then I lived with him until I came here."
"Are you very fond of him?"
"No, Frank, I'm not; not a bit. He never did anything for my mother or for me, to make me."
"I don't see why you lived with him then."
"He'd behave himself better. I had a sort of influence over him. He was afraid of me, or ashamed, or something, and I stuck to him to keep him straight. But, oh! I hated it, and when he got going all right, I cut loose and came here."
"What sort is the old lady? W. C. T. U. and all that kind of thing, I suppose?"
"Something on that order."
The Oracle leaned forward until his chest came almost between his bent knees, as was his wont when he clinched his arguments.
"I suppose you've never figured it out that people of her way of thinking would call what little drinking you do at Mayfield 'drinking in low saloons?'"
By his silence Jimmie admitted that there was something in the position. Frank followed up his lead.
"So it may be nothing very bad after all. But let's suppose it is; suppose he has slid back into the worst of his old ways, is it going to pay to go on and break things all up for yourself, for the purpose of trying to bolster him up? It seems to me you would let your enthusiasm get away with your common sense. But it's your business, Jimmie. Only the thing that gets me is the blooming uselessness of it all. What can you do?"
"I can work."
"You could do that before you came here. You see, it was all right before, when your plans weren't formed. Now it means not only his sliding back, but yours too. You know as well as I do that a half-baked man isn't worth a whoop, not a solitary whoop. You've got to drop down into mediocrity[Pg 230] just when you are on the way up to something. And after sacrificing yourself, perhaps, it will have been for nothing. You can't cure that thing in a month, nor a year, nor two years. If he is drinking, regular and hard, you've got to catch him and stay with him just about as long as he lives. You can't leave him after you get him on his feet, or he'll go right back. You know that from experience, don't you?"
"Yes," said Jimmie. The Senior's words came to him as a relief. He had begun the conversation with the feeling that the thing for him to do was to go home, and dreading lest Lyman should think so, too. Now Frank showed him the folly of such a step, and Frank knew about things.
"It means a knockout to your ambition," went on Lyman, "the spoiling of yourself, and you propose to do this for a man you don't care for? I don't understand."
"He is my father," said the Sophomore. This reason had seemed ample, when he was thinking it over alone; it did not sound so convincing now.
"And suppose he is, do you have to pay for that? No, Jimmie, that's a fine sentimental view of it that won't help either of you. Let him wait. You have the right to do it. He can wait two years, till you've had your chance. If it has been going on all this[Pg 231] time, two years won't be long, and then when you're through and ready to do something, there'll be sense in it; there isn't now.—"
Just then Freshman Halleck, who had a genius for poking in where he was not wanted, knocked and entered with Encina abruptness, for Frank had not locked the door. He made his stay so long that Lyman, with his thoughts on his unfinished work, said:
"Well, good-night, you fellows," as a gentle hint, and Jimmie withdrew.
The fog had not yet come into the valley when the Sophomore opened the window, down in his own room; it was reaching out, still driven before a lazy wind. Indistinctly the singing of the Glee Club, rolling home from practice in the Quad, came through the damp twilight. Jimmie had been with them on the Christmas trip, tasting a social life he had known nothing of till then. Now they were going to run him for leader next year. He sat on his window ledge listening. The side of the Hall stretched away from him, four tiers of light where the fellows were at work or were bumming away the week-night. Through the opened windows came the low tone of many conversations, stirred now and then by a "rough-house" note. A coyote barked somewhere among the hills, a re[Pg 232]minder of the nearness of our higher life to the life universal. Jimmie took a long, deep breath of the moist air, as though he would draw it all, all unto himself. This was his life, he had made it for himself, and he loved it, he loved it! He had no part any longer with what had come before it. All these were in shadow, the people and things of his bitter childhood. The fellows up there in the lighted rooms had homes somewhere; there was a feed-box being opened even then, perhaps, at some study table; they were thinking of vacation, most of them, and of other places. But this was home to Mason, this wide, soft campus, with the sandstone arching over it and bounded by shaggy hills, the only place he could call his own. Most of the laughing people who lived here with him were in a dream from which some Commencement Day would wake them. To Mason it was reality. Yes, Frank Lyman was right. Jimmie was glad he had asked him. The idea of going away had been a thoughtless impulse, an immature judgment. He would stay—for the two years.
He took off his coat and opened a book under the lamp; but a face came and settled between him and the page, a bloated face with irresolute lips that would not move from the black and white before him, but flickered[Pg 233] there and mocked him, until finally he closed the book, and, without looking out again on the campus, turned into bed.
It was a quiet night outside. The last spring rain was over; the dry, deadening California summer had begun its advance on the land. Already, the green of the hills had faded into a lighter hue, a forerunner of a yellow June and a brown July. The campus was astir with the movement of a Friday night. Shadowy figures, in couples, came and passed down the fairy-land vistas of the Quadrangle; the 'busses deposited the élite of Palo Alto at the door of the Alpha Nus who had said that they would be at home; noises of all kinds, from not unmusical singing to plainly unmusical whoops, exhaled from every pore of the Hall. The piano on the lobby was groaning out a waltz from its few attuned keys and the little space between the big rug and the rail overlooking the dining-room was packed with forms in various conditions of negligée, dancing earnestly and painfully.
Only one room, and that generally the center of disturbance, "sported the oak." Jimmie Mason sat in the knockery, with a book cocked up in front of him, and made a[Pg 234] pretense of studying, but his thoughts wandered. Finally he threw his work aside altogether, and looked at the little patches of starlight visible between the branches of the tree outside. It was so plain, the thing he ought to do, in justice to himself, that he had thought the dream of the other thing a fancy that had passed and had been put away with the notions of his prep-days. And yet he had found no peace in his new decision. His plans for next year, his work in class, his new success with certain ventures which after two years of the hardest, closest pinching, had put within his reach the means to gratify a few little whims, to indulge in a few things his poverty had hitherto forbidden him—a few common things the men around him enjoyed, and the lack of which he had ever concealed even from himself—all these were made footless by the ache in the bottom of his soul. And, as he sat and pondered on it, a hard, dull resentment which he had hitherto kept down by sheer will power rose above his other thoughts and claimed admission as a reality. His father had no right to do this thing to him. He was an old man; his chance was past, given up for a few barrels, more or less, of distilled spirits. It was for this that the something inside was asking him to forfeit the chance he had made for himself. The University was his home. His father had[Pg 235] done nothing toward this. The laundry agency had provided a living, and the broad democracy of the college had done the rest for him. He was one of the "prominent men" now, a somebody, as he had never been and never could be in the travesty of home that had been his father's giving. Upon his life here rested the possibilities of the future toward which he looked dreamingly sometimes when his notes were written up, and the laundry accounts checked. Assuredly, his father had no claim on this; to admit it would be an injustice to himself, to his ambition, and to his work. And yet this face which had come between him and his book the first night the fight had been on must haunt him always in the hour when his tide was turning.
A thump on the window which opened on the front piazza recalled him from his reverie. A dozen feet were shuffling on the stones outside, and a ruddy face glowed over the sash.
"Go away, Pellams. Got to plug," said Jimmie, hastily resuming his book.
"Relate your predicaments to a constable," said Pellams. "There's going to be a Thirsting Bee at the——"
"Can't go. Got to work on my thesis."
"Relate that to your Uncle Adderclaws. Tumble out, now."
Jimmie only shook his head. There was a[Pg 236] conference outside in whispers; then the gang withdrew with suspicious alacrity. Two minutes later, the lock grated with the cautious insertion of a key, and the mob rushed in; Jimmie had forgotten the passkey, for whose possession Pellams had held up the Jap.
"Ah, say, get out of here, you fellows. I'm digging."
"I know it. And you're going to stop. Gentlemen adventurers"—here Pellams mounted a chair—"James Mason, our small but thirsty friend, has sourball. Now, I ask you, gentlemen, what is the universal cure for his affliction?"
"Beer!" The unanimity of the response would have done credit to a Roman mob.
"Quite right ye are, my merry retainers. And will ye, in loving kindness to him, apply that remedy?"
"We will! We will!"
"Well said, me liegemen. Jimmie, move along!" and Pellams fell to strolling around the room and criticizing its collection of stolen signs with the air of one who has discharged his business and stands at ease. The rest threw themselves on the man with sourball and were for tearing off his outer garments and forcing on his sweater, but Lyman by some occult means of his own got the boy aside. One never knew how Frank managed the gang; it was always that way;[Pg 237] his methods never obtruded themselves, all one saw was results.
"I wouldn't if I were you," said he; "they won't understand it, and it doesn't do you any good—this sort of thing. Better jolly up."
The Sophomore did not speak; he only shook his head.
"I know what you're holding back for," went on the other; "but going down there isn't the same sort of thing; really, it isn't."
Jimmie started a little, inside, as he realized for the first time the base of his aversion to dragging himself out on the trip. He turned, half-mechanically, and began tugging at his collar. That Phantom should never come between him and one single thing he wanted to do. It might embitter it all, but it could never prevent him from the outward act. He threw his tie over a chair and took off his coat with unnecessary emphasis in the movement. Ten minutes later he was treading the primrose path of dalliance with an arm around "Nosey" Marion.
There was a cool breeze off the bay, bringing the scent of salt water along with the odor of spruce-trees. A voice from the upper regions of the Hall called out to the cavalcade, crawling through the half-darkness along the road:
"He-ea, you! Bring some back for me!"
A dozen windows slammed open at that,[Pg 238] and twenty throats took up the noise. Pellams was for answering, but Lyman discreetly checked him.
Presently they swung out into the traveled road, until the noises of the Hall were only a composite buzz. The squad was lounging in twos and three, talking athletics or humming under the breath march-songs from the Orpheum. "Peg" Langdon stopped at the white gate, and took off his hat to the cool air.
"This road down is the best thing about Mayfield!"
"Drop the Sequoia!" cried Pellams. "Here, you fellows, hold him! We'll have that in a rondeau or something, next week, if you don't hobble the muse!"
The editor laughed. It is better to be joked about your own special forte than not to have it mentioned, so he was not displeased.
"That's what the bard gets," said he, "for secreting the noxious fluid known as the 'Sequoia' verse. But you can't stop the secretion. Some day, I am going to write a Ballad of the Road to Mayfield—just to be original."
"And you'll kill the traffic."
"Chain the poet!"
"If you don't choke him, he'll get reminiscent."
These from half-a-dozen voices at once.
"Certainly I shall!" declared Langdon. "A reminiscent mood is the proper one for the[Pg 239] road to Mayfield—just as you have to have an argumentative one on the road back."
"Did you ever notice," observed Dick, "that every Mayfield time has a sort of motif? You have a central idea, and you expand on it, like writing paragraphs for English Eight."
"It's up to you, Mr. Langdon. Give us a motif and we'll do the expanding," said Marion, shying a pebble at a gate where there was a dog he knew.
"How would Jimmie's sore-head do?"
Pellams took it up at once. "Death to the sore-head! A bas Mason!" And then, being safely away from the Hall, he caught up the old nonsense air that has split student throats this century long,
And Jimmie, a chum beating him on either side to exorcise the demon, was singing as lustily as the best of them when they swung through the town of buried ambitions and into the shrine of Bacchus.
"Gentlemen, remember the motif!" cried Pellams, when they had made their way through the barroom loafers, playing with dingy cards at the dingier tables. The expedition was safely stowed in the back room around the rough table with its carved patch-work of initials, Greek letters, and nicknames,[Pg 240] significant or obsolete, according to a man's perspective. Pellams assumed instant control.
"We will now turn our attention to the serious business of the evening. Get your places. Hands on your bottles! Open—corks! And away we go." The party drank in silence.
"Do you begin to improve, James? There is a trace of a smile in the left-hand corner of the patient's mouth. Ruffle up his hair and give him another while we have him going!"
Someone started a song, and they had another drink to punctuate the pause between verses. A ruddier shade was creeping towards the roots of Pellams' hair; Lyman, who smiled but seldom, was grinning across the table at a Sophomore trying to flip cracker crumbs into his mouth.
"This is a tryout," said Pellams. "The first man that balks at his beer will drink raspberry chasers for a month. Hey! look at 'Nosey' Marion trying to shirk!"
Sure enough, Marion, who tried to keep up a reputation for capacity with a naturally slim endowment, was slyly pouring his last potion into an empty beer-case behind him. They fell upon the offender forthwith, whipped him into the ranks again, and resumed their seats, laughing and panting.
"And now that our erring brother is punished and forgiven—that's as good a phrase as[Pg 241] I ever saw—punished and forgiven—stick that in the Sequoia, Pegasus"—Pellams rambled on, "we've got to have the motif. I move from the chair that the guest of the evening gives us 'My Old Kentucky Home!' Punish your glass and tune up, Jimmie!"
The cry went on until Jimmie had to respond. He began with the intention of singing it quite carelessly, because there was much in his soul that night that he dared not show before them all; but Jimmie had the gift of song in his heart as in his voice, and he threw himself into the music before the first stanza was half done. Only once before had he sung the song as he did to-night; it was at last Commencement, when he sang it for the Seniors going out on their adventures, and when he was done they had all been still and quiet like men who have seen ghosts—as perhaps they had, that night, the phantoms of men and times haunting certain low, arched buildings they were to see no more.
Jimmie's tender baritone floated up from the table wistfully sweet, and shaken a little with feeling, for the trouble of the week just past was sweeping into it. Lyman, listening, knew of what place the boy was singing, and mentally noted that he had better be thought[Pg 242]ful of the youngster during the rest of the term.
The fellows were quiet for a moment after they had droned out the chorus, each one putting his own meaning into that sweet old song of farewell, and then, to break the charm, a small voice with a Spanish roll in it, piped "Tamales!" at the crack in the door.
"Hey!—Lupe!—make him sing!"
They raided the stock first, and rendered happy with the jingle of silver the quaint little remnant of the race who named their valley for the blessed Santa Clara. Then, when he had counted it and put it safely away with the officious assistance of Pellams Rex, they set him on the table in his blue overalls and over-sized hat and made him sing for them in his pathetic treble, "La Paloma," and for encore, "Two Leetle Girl een Bloo." Pellams removed him after that, claiming that Langdon was about to tell the story of his life, which could not be published in the Sequoia.
Jimmie Mason had sat there all this time, taking it in and drinking with the others, but there was never a cloud on his brain nor a waver in his movements. The rest of them wandered from the motif; each was composing a fugue of his own, according to the mould of his nature. Scraps of their conversation floated in on him between songs—"Got him just below the knees—now!"—"and the differ[Pg 243]ence between me and a tank is in the inferior receptivity—ain't that a peach?—of the receptacle"—"Now, the fallacy of the original proposition, as Herbert Spencer hath it, lies in the expression of the component particulars"—this was Langdon—"that proves that if I had a board Pellams would be summarily chastised"—"Put it down and order up another, here's good drink going stale"—"Whoa, Pegasus, old hoss, that's my tamale you have designs on"—"and cut his name there"—"sing it down! This is to break training for the third time"—"What's the matter with ——ty-eight?"—All this came in on him, as he watched them grow from geniality to hilarity and then on toward enthusiasm. They had forgotten him; only now and then someone shied a cracker at his head and told him to "jolly up."
Another drink, and the patriotic stage was upon them. The King ordered a glass, standing, to the Team, and one with a foot on the table to the Captain, and one with both feet on the table and glasses to the ceiling to the Victory next fall. Someone started the yell; it went round the table. Then they joined in on "Here's to Stanford College," with a verse for every class and its yell at the end, and before they were done there were three howling factions, each trying to cry the others down.
Frank Lyman, he of the steady head, who was quiet or hilarious as he willed, but was never beyond the point where he willed to be, sat watching good-humoredly from his corner, and noted that Jimmie Mason's voice had risen the loudest, and that he, too, had forgotten the motif.
Pellams had wandered into the outer room "to bust the proprietor's blamed old nickel-machine and get even," leaving the disturbance to subside of its own weight. Coming back suddenly to the door, he cried: "Hey, I've got 'em! The raw material and the finished product! Let's have a temperance lecture from Lyman."
It was a queer group at the door. The half-gone Pellams, with his face flushed and his hair dishevelled, in one of his hands little Lupe, hanging to an empty pail and between laughter and tears; the other hand tight on the collar of as dirty, as unkempt, and as drunken an old loafer as ever hung over a Mayfield bar. Pellams swung the ruin in.
"Now, tell us how you got that fine, large tee!" said the tormentor. "Orate to us, General Jackson!"
The old man braced himself, with drunken dignity, against the door.
"You young fellows c'n make fools o' yourselves," he said, "but you can't make fool o' me."
"That's all right, pardner—Nature saved us the trouble in your case," said Pellams, the thoughtless.
The clear head in the room—Lyman's always—took it all in; Frank made a step to come between the Junior and his victim. Then he turned, half-unconsciously, toward Mason. Jimmie was standing with his hands on the table, looking straight before him, and in that look Frank read the certainty that the case was out of his control. For the Face was rising before Jimmie Mason once more; it had twisted itself in with the relaxed, foolish features before him, until he saw his father there, a mock and a shame. It was not his father, of course—he passed his hand before his eyes as though to clear them—but suppose that somewhere else a crowd had his father—and he not there to——
The Angel of Pity, or the Universal Conscience, or whatever it is that you and I have learned from our books and our teachers to put as our symbol of the belief in the higher things, wrote upon his records that night that a prayer had gone up, for the first time, from the dingy back room of the Hotel Mayfield.
Pellams had the old man singing now, in a cracked, maudlin voice, and his keeper was beating time with a billiard cue. Then the amateur conductor had one of his inspirations.
"Hey, a trio! The event of the evening![Pg 246] General Hardshell Jackson, Señor Lupe de Tamale, and the renowned lyric barytone, James Russell Lowell Mason, will combine in a grand farewell concert. Ascend the platform, Señor!" he cried to the Mexican lad, who stood, wide-eyed, in a corner. Then he gestured wildly toward the door.
"Hey, Jimmie, come back here," he called; "don't let him out, boys!"
Jimmie had reached the door when Lyman caught his sleeve.
"Where are you going?"
"You mean the Hall?"
Jimmie pulled free of the Senior's hand.
"No!" he said. "Home."
Six Madonnas, from their places on the Chapel walls, gazed at the spectacle of a student with long hair and energetic manner drilling a chorus of young men and women from behind the preacher's desk. There was no visible sign of agitation on the part of the six Madonnas, though an operatic rehearsal in Chapel might be considered reason enough. To be sure, one of them, with her feet upon a crescent moon, kept her eyes fixed religiously on the ceiling, but this had become a habit. The Madonnas were not surprised.
The early years of the University, when there was no assembly hall and the temporary chapel was used for everything that did not demand the superior accommodations of the men's gymnasium, had prepared them for anything. They had looked calmly down upon student farces and Wednesday evening prayer meetings, professional impersonations and baccalaureate sermons. Once, there had been a[Pg 250] German farce under the protection of the Germanic Language department, by a company from town, a boisterous play with a gigantic comedienne in a short skirt. Beside this performance, Lillian Arnold's singing a love duet with Jack Smith was nothing very shocking.
Connor, the man who was getting up the opera for the benefit of the Junior Annual, waved his baton gracefully and looked pleased. The rehearsal had gone well that afternoon, and now Cap Smith was singing with creditable expression the love song in the last act. The experience of Connor told him that this song would make even the bleachers at the back of the gymnasium keep a respectful silence, which was saying a good deal. Smith had a very pretty tenor, redeeming its lack of volume by a sympathetic quality that was decidedly pleasant. In a song like this, his voice came out well. There was a high note at the end to be taken pianissimo with something else that signified "as though you meant it." Smith could make it sound so, at any rate. One girl at the back of the chorus always said, "Ah," under her breath when the song was ended at rehearsal.
Lillian Arnold, who played opposite Smith in the opera, did not conceal from herself the pleasure she took in the part. Long before rehearsals began, she had spent her smiles upon Connor with a view to that very rôle.[Pg 251] Miss Arnold was a young person who knew the things she wanted; one of them was Smith. 'Varsity end, champion pole-vaulter, Glee Club tenor and Sophomore president, which means principally leading the cotillion, he was well worth a girl's trouble. There was the more glory in the winning of this capital prize because he was not very enthusiastic about Roble. There was somebody up in town who took a great deal of his blue fraternity-paper. Lillian Arnold knew about the girl in town, so she accepted gracefully what the gods gave and was outwardly content.
The gift of the gods was Ted Perkins, whose vest was decorated like Cap's and who had no entanglements. When the approach of the Sophomore cotillion set Roble agog with a pleasant but hardly strong-minded excitement, he "asked her." Peace of mind comes naturally after such an invitation is given and accepted; on rare occasions this does not last.
The first thing that occurred to ruffle Miss Arnold's complacency was a chance remark dropped one noon by Perkins as they were strolling home obliquely from the Quad.
"Cap isn't going to lead with Miss Martin, after all," said he.
"Indeed!" exclaimed Lillian. For some remote feminine reason the announcement was interesting.
"Her family has gone South suddenly, a[Pg 252] death or something. Cap is all broken up about it. He was going to show her off in style that night."
"I wonder whom he will ask, now," she said, as though it didn't matter the least bit in the world.
Down somewhere in a girl's heart lies the gambler's instinct. Lillian would have thrown away then and there the certainty of Ned Perkins' timely invitation for the torturing suspense, the alluring chance, that attended the Sophomore president's second choice. Perkins, in his simple masculine dullness, never guessed this.
"I don't believe he knows yet; he wouldn't tell over at the house if he did. Another plum for unengaged Roble."
Perkins would have been less at ease over the condition of engaged Roble could he have looked into the little east music-room where Lillian played accompaniments, and Cap Smith, leaning over a wicker chair, went through the music of his part. These cozy rehearsals in the quiet afternoons had resulted in Smith's asking himself, during a cut home through the Quad, why he had never noticed Lillian Arnold in particular. Connor, the director, had a keener eye, evidently. She was pretty, dashing and real good fun. Perkins was entitled to respect for his selection. Lillian was "all right;" this is a masculine term[Pg 253] which may mean anything from mild approval to the rapture of "just one girl." The mild interpretation, of course, is to be put upon Smith's use of the term, even after he had been to Roble two evenings. Their talk was about the opera, nothing further, and when he had taken his high note with just the proper emotional slur, they both laughed. To be honest, there had been one chat on the moonlit steps of the Museum, but all of this went down on the blue fraternity-paper among other confidences.
One afternoon, in the middle of a Spring-time walk, Smith gave utterance to a decision concerning which he had already written, dutifully, to an interested party in the South. They had passed the willow-fringed bank of Lagunita, the red boathouse, the double avenue of young pines, and, crossing into the back road, strolled down to the low gate opposite the Farm; this they climbed and came into a little hollow where knowing people find yellow violets. He had just given her a frank compliment.
"You are the best fence-taker I ever saw for a girl."
"That's one practical result of an hour's credit in gym-work," she laughed. "Sometimes, on lovely days like this, I feel almost as though I could pole-vault the way you do. It must be glorious to go sailing over the bar."
"And hear it come clattering down after you?"
They sat on the soft, new grass, and Lillian caught, one after another, the shy yellow faces peering at her through the long leaves. She looked so spring-like, so much a part of the fresh, young landscape in its robes of early February, as she half reclined to reach out for a blossom larger and yellower than the rest—a pose that she knew was good—that the Sophomore president put an end to suspense.
"I had expected to lead the cotillion with Miss Martin," he began, "but she has gone South, so I'm badly left. I'm afraid you are engaged for it, aren't you?"
Lillian gazed fixedly at the white cupola on a stockfarm building. Her heart was somewhere deep in hill-grass. She was the most luckless girl in the whole college! The opportunity of her Sophomore year had come too late. It was bitter enough for tears.
"I had promised it to Mr. Perkins," she said, irresolutely.
"I was afraid so. Of course, it was awfully late to ask you; but I would rather go with you than with any of the others, so I ventured."
It was a desperate moment for Lillian.
"I would rather go with you, too," she said, gazing up at him.
"I'm sure I wish you could," he said, with sincerity. She was at her prettiest that day.
"I will anyway," she declared.
"I don't care," she went on, "it was only that he asked me first. Couldn't I cut it and go with you? He ought to understand that I have a right to change my mind."
Smith watched the antics of a gopher for a full minute before he replied. Although Perkins had said nothing to him of his intentions regarding the dance—the two had few confidences—Cap had held his theories. Still, he deemed he had a chance. Being a Sophomore, he believed that he was thoroughly acquainted with the co-educated sex and all their wiles and guiles; but a feeling of repulsion toward this frank readiness to throw down another man, one of his own, too, drowned his sense of self-satisfaction at finding himself preferred.
"Of course, you and Ted must arrange all that," he said, and turned the conversation.
Cap's lack of confidential relations with Perkins did not stand in the way of his mentioning the affair to him that night after dinner.
"I thought you ought to know it, Ted," he concluded. "Of course, you will do as you please about the matter, only I shall not take her."
"You don't think for a moment that I still intend to, do you?" asked Perkins, fiercely.
"I don't believe I'd blame you exactly if you backed out," said the complacent Sophomore; "but, of course, it's none of my funeral now; I'm only sorry I happened to ask her myself, and start the trouble."
"I think I'll walk home with her after rehearsal," said Perkins.
"Well, I shan't say anything about it one way or the other," said Smith, and he started toward the Gym with a pleasant sense of having galled somebody a bit.
Meanwhile, Lillian had eaten her dinner with relish. The prospect of trouble with Perkins did not worry her in the least. Perkins had been rather a convenience, and to lead the cotillion with Jack Smith was a delight that entirely divested the other man of all importance. The rehearsal went through with a dash; Lillian was all animation and witchery, and the love-scene was perfectly acted, though Ted Perkins sat glowering in the privileged audience. Cap Smith took his high note with a tenderness of voice and gesture that moved Connor, the leader (he was also stage-manager and chief electrician), to call out, "Good boy, Cap," and to shake his carefully untrimmed hair in approval.
After rehearsal, the tenor slipped away just[Pg 257] as Perkins, with an artificial smile, approached Lillian.
The Sophomore was in bed when Perkins came into his room.
"What did you do about it?" Cap asked, to start things.
"I simply said I wanted to be excused from taking her to the cotillion."
"What reason did you give?"
"But you had to give some explanation."
"She didn't ask for any. She guessed it, probably."
"What did she say? Try to smooth it over?"
"No, nothing, except that she was sorry, and that she would have liked to go with me."
"Humph," sniffed Cap. "I'll bet she was afraid I hadn't said anything to you about it, and she wouldn't give herself away as long as you didn't kick up a row. Now I suppose she expects me to take her."
"That's where she was keen, all right; she never breathed a word about you; only made me feel like two-bits in a fog for having turned her down."
"If I had been you I would have roasted her right there, fired the whole string at her."
This was the point for which the jilted man had come into Cap's room.
"No," said he, "you said you wouldn't take[Pg 258] her either, and I thought that would punish her better than having any scene with me. She'll know I have had my innings."
This took Smith where he lived, but he put on a cheerful front, perforce:
"Well, I'll crawl gracefully out of it, to-morrow," said he. "I suppose she'll be hopping when she thinks it over."
Perkins went up to his room satisfied.
When Cap Smith caught Miss Arnold at the post-office, he began to find that it was easier to plan a graceful crawling out than to execute the movement.
"I shall have to take back what I said yesterday about the cotillion," he began, cleverly, guiding her toward Roble, "because, you see, it wouldn't be just square to Ted, would it? He might feel hurt, and I wouldn't have that. We must have six dances, though, anyway."
This, assuredly, would show her. Unfortunately, Lillian was either dull or desperate.
"But he released me last night."
"Did he?" said Jack. He had started all wrong.
"Yes, we settled it all very well; he didn't seem to care in the least, he is so good-natured." She looked as serene as the sky above her, although she was beginning to have biting suspicions. "So it's all right."
Cap Smith's feet had become tangled in crawling; he kicked out recklessly.
"No, it's not all right. I don't believe in a girl's treating a fellow like that, and I won't be a party to it."
"Why did you ask me, then?" she challenged. "To tempt me because you happened to be president and a girl loves to lead?"
"I'm not so mean as that. How could I know Perkins had asked you. He hadn't told me."
"I suppose you told him about it?"
"Yes, I thought that I ought to."
"After telling me that I might arrange it. It was my business."
"I knew how you would do it, and I wasn't willing that Ted should be cut that way."
"What a lovely friendship!" said Lillian. She was much vexed.
Smith did not reply at once. The beauty of his friendship with Perkins did not strike him very heavily at the moment.
"At any rate, under the circumstances I don't feel that I can take you to the cotillion."
"Don't flatter your—" Lillian was too angry to speak without crying, so she went into the Hall abruptly.
With the approach of Washington's Birthday, the rage of Miss Arnold grew. Inasmuch as everyone took it for granted that she was going with Perkins, it was not likely that she would be asked again, instead, late beginners, running cards for themselves and[Pg 260] other people, asked her for dances, and rather than admit her predicament she let them fill her card.
The afternoon of the cotillion she went to bed and was ill for a day; then she appeared at the final rehearsal with a smiling face and a soul full of wrath. She had very little to say to Smith, but otherwise she showed no resentment, and her acting was as good as ever. One wiser than Cap Smith would have augured ill from her fair seeming, a less confident man would have been on his guard; but he had forgotten all that he had ever read about the fury of women scorned, and he went to his doom unconscious.
The Gym had never held a bigger audience, and the opera, as usual, was proving itself the greatest success in the annals of Stanford theatricals; the show was so inoffensively proper, Connor declared with a sigh, that it was disgusting. No hitch or jar marred the perfect running of the performance, and the conductor, directing the scene-shifting between acts, stopped now and then to shake hands with himself. The borrowed scenery almost fitted; there was no wait of more than half an hour; very few of the chorus got out of tune; the costumes had been expunged by a board of lady managers and declared officially to have no Said Pasha tendencies; the leading ladies were actually keeping their[Pg 261] tempers; things moved on as smoothly as though the Fates were deadening suspicion in order to make the coming catastrophe the more overwhelming.
The third act drew on. The low comedian had just finished joshing back and forth with the bleachers, whose chorus work had equalled, in some respects, that on the stage. A soft light began to illumine the painted heavens, and a three-hundred-candle-power Luna, the pride and joy of Connor's heart, rose in wavering majesty. The house was quiet now, listening to Smith's solo to Lillian in the moonlit garden. The music swept softly on to the close of the song. As Jack took a deep breath for his tender love-note, the note that was to make men sigh and women quiver, Lillian leaned closer to him, as if drawn by the caressing sweetness in his voice, and one round, white arm stole about his neck in the prettiest gesture imaginable. No one knew that with the other hand she had quickly drawn out the big black pin that held the flowers on her breast. One wicked jab, and the precious high note broke in a wild "ouch" of pain.
The bleachers laughed uproariously.
There is one Wednesday morning, the last in May, when the sun, peeping over the observatory dome on Mount Hamilton and flooding the wide valley of Santa Clara, wakes unfeelingly a reluctant set of mortals to the realization that this is the last of their mornings.
The girl in Roble who has lived four happy, independent years where the winds of freedom blow, and who is going back this afternoon to the household duties and narrow sympathies of a not over-interesting home, leans thoughtfully on the foot-rail of her iron bed; the dear, familiar view blurs as she gazes out beyond the dormitory room and its reminiscent treasures of program and photograph, out where the warm light brightens [Pg 266]the concrete pillars of the museum and the arboretum with its waving tops, and makes the whole fair landscape one Field of the Cloth of Gold.
The Encina student who has slaved his uneasy way, with no resources save his willingness to do anything that may help him from one semester to the next, springs exultantly from his alcove, for to-day he has finished the struggle, and there is a good job waiting for him.
Over in the fraternity house, the man who has sung his grasshopper songs in careless disregard of changing seasons, and who has found some impossible examinations barring his primrose path, blinks painfully at the merciless sun of Commencement Day, laughing at him above the roofs of siren Mayfield, and holds his foolish head in his hands; for last night, while the other Seniors, full of honors and regrets, were trying to choke down a little of the good-bye supper after the Promenade, he went a bit too far in celebrating his mixed emotions of grief at flunking and joy at coming back again.
Upon all alike—upon him who has watched for it, dreading it through four enchanted years, as upon him who has forgotten until the list of candidates for graduation glared at him from the registrar's bulletin-board with a vacancy in that section where his name[Pg 267] ought to be; upon him who has hoped for this as a commencement in very truth of things great and new, as upon him who cares not—shines this early sunlight of the last Wednesday in May.
There is never a cloud in the sky this morning; the meadow lark sings more joyously than on any other day; the campus is more radiantly beautiful, because some hundred and fifty people are looking at it through tears for the last time.
On his own Commencement Day, Tom Ashley lay sleeping, hidden away from the splendor of the morning, two-score miles from the smiling campus.
The man lying next him in the upper tier but one rolled over and shook him by the shoulder:
"Wake up, Tom; it's Commencement Day! Don't you want your degree?"
The Senior struggled back from sleep; a dream influence lingered with him, a vision of a cloistered enclosure, a dream in which all his senses, now assailed by the sights and smells and sounds of a troop-ship, drew in again the familiar things; he beheld the red tiles a-shimmer above the yellow stone; the aromatic scent of budding eucalyptus was in his nostrils, the sound of the young laughter of women in his ears. He sat up, gazing un[Pg 268]certainly at the dark, crowded space, the narrow stairway, the great iron racks covered with gray-blanketed shapes; then he crawled into his uniform and out on the ship's deck. The early dawn had set the towers of the city glittering; already the low wharf-sheds along the water-front were astir with life. Back of the town the twin peaks, named by the early Franciscans for a woman's breasts, rose veiled with a filmy scarf of fog. Everywhere below them spangled flags in myriads flapped from the tops of the city and among the crowded shipping.
Ashley leaned over the rail of the Peking and watched the yellow tide slide by with its burden of dèbris. Not far away in the stream lay the other two transports, unattended; it was too early for the fussy craft that curtseyed about them during the day. At three o'clock that afternoon these vessels were to sail for the distant Philippines, bearing arms against the ancient country of the Spanish Fathers—the pioneers who had shown the Saxon the way to this golden coast and had made vine and rose flourish for him on the barren sandhills, that he might now strip from the land of their forefathers the last possession of a dying empire. By the strange turnings of history, from the very city of their patron saint the New World was sending forth its first hostile expedition against the[Pg 269] Old, and the great community that had grown from their nestling mission of Dolores would shriek Godspeed to these enemies of Old Spain.
Nothing of this was in Ashley's mind as he watched the water lapping at the beach-side of the transports. He kept saying over in his mind the words of his bunk-mate, "It's Commencement Day! Don't you want your degree?"
In spite of the seriousness of the situation, Tom, looking at his coarse blue uniform, smiled as he thought on his plans for Graduation Week. Those feet, now clad in new government gunboats, were to have waltzed but two nights before in shining patent-leather at the head of the Senior Ball. Only yesterday he should have been galloping around the bases in fantastic costume at the Senior-Faculty game. Monday afternoon, when he should have been before the Chapel site with Her, listening to the glories of the Class as told over its freshly-mortared plate, he was tramping on the wrenching cobble-stones of Market Street with a bunch of roses in his campaign hat and another in his gun barrel, and the city going mad on the curbing. Lord High Ruler of the Senior dance and counsellor in all the affairs of the Class, he was cooped up with a thousand others on the troopship City of Peking, a sergeant at[Pg 270] eighteen a month and lucky to get so much, with a chain of superiors ordering his comings and goings.
All this because of the destruction of an American battleship in the harbor of Havana.
The notes of a bugle-call drifted across the water from the nearest transport, and Tom's mind went back to the time when the unfamiliar sound was first heard on the Stanford campus. It seemed like a very old memory, although it was but three weeks past. He remembered how, when the recruiting sergeant came down from the city, the after-dinner crowd used to sit on the Hall steps watching him drill the men in the moonlight. After drill, they would loaf in his Hall room, talking it over, and when the civilians had drifted off to bed or to the inglorious studies of a routine now ended for Tom, he would sit with "Nosey" Marion and blow smoke. Neither spoke much, only a word now and then, but they were thinking of the same thing.
The days passed; the college used to drop out between recitations to watch them drilling on the football field; the uniforms arrived, and then the orders. There was a baseball rally that night, but when the enlisted men came into the Hall and word was passed that they were going on the morrow, the occasion was all theirs. Marion, who had been twice[Pg 271] on the debating team, stood up, looking slimmer than ever in his plain blue, and spoke for them. He said only simple things; it was not like his speech of a year before, when his impassioned arguments turned defeat into victory at the Inter-Collegiate; but the crowd listened with their eyes on the floor and applauded with their hands only when he had done, because they couldn't trust their voices. They sang the terrible "Battle Hymn of the Republic" after that; Langdon led it. "Peg" could hardly carry a tune with that awful voice of his, but he sang the verses so that the chills ran down your back and you had to join in the chorus, "Our God is marching on."
Next day they themselves were marching on, forty of them, with hardly a thought of what they were leaving behind, their minds fixed on the distant Isles of Philip. Tom had never expected to leave the campus in that spirit. He loved it all, from the quiet slopes by Frenchman's Lake to that lofty redwood treetop, first rampart of the smiling city to the eager Freshman, last long-watched glimpse of the land of his memories to the reluctant Senior.
He had always felt that it would be a tug to say good-bye, yet he, too, his mind over-seas, had gone away to town with hardly a thought. He had time to reflect in that[Pg 272] dreary fortnight at the Presidio when the unseasonable rains drenched his tent, and the wretched routine of beans and coffee hurt the romance of enlistment.
The life had its compensating features. Every city girl he had ever met in College or town society came out to camp and asked for him at K Street—K Street with its saucy cardinal flag waving above the first tent to the left. Most of them brought candy; a vary few, with super-feminine understanding, made it beer; one, she was a genius, sent over on a drizzling evening a piping-hot steak. Then, too, he had three white angles on his sleeve and "Sergeant Ashley" sounded well. Cap Smith was not even a corporal; the emphasis with which Cap mentioned the fact showed anything but college spirit.
These things made it easier not to think about the campus and what the rest of the fellows were doing, but the old life came drifting in after all. Sometimes, after the long, hard morning drill on the green slope beyond the car-track, between drill and the welcome mess-call, Marion would come into the Sergeant's tent and they would sit apart to talk about the Faculty game or the Senior ball and the dances they had expected to put on their cards. Each Saturday some of the boys came up and brought the campus news. One time, all enlisted Stanford tumbled out[Pg 273] of their tents, every last one of them, to welcome a big, slow-moving, slow-speaking man, who plays first-base at the Commencement Game. A corporal who had never been to college and who had a newspaper idea of students, asked if that was the football captain whom they were crowding around and almost trying to hug, and Marion answered no; that he was a bigger man than even the head coach. The boys held their visitor until the officer of the day ordered civilians out of camp, and, when the unfeeling guard drove him out, they gave the yell in good old style. The colonel sent his orderly to find what was the matter, for it was a high offence against martial law, and when the messenger reported that it was those Stanford kids in K, yelling for their President, his superior said that he guessed it was all right; this was the first California regiment, and the old man was a part of the state. This was before the final dispatches came, before the men learned that they were going on the first expedition.
Monday morning and marching orders. On this, the morning of Wednesday, as he looked across the water and watched the city growing brighter, he thrilled again with the remembrance of that feeling, that purely physical tingling of the nerves, which came over him at the barracks when he lifted his gun to start. The load on his back was snug[Pg 274] and light as he stood there in marching rig; how much heavier and harder it was to grow before he should stand on American soil again, he could not know. Then, the shuffling of many feet and the flutter of a flag outside the stone gates, so strangely like the gates which stand at the entrance of the Land of his Memories—and his Commencement week had begun.
Class Day, from that time, on, lay in his memory a mass of unassimilated matter to be thought out in the long weeks of idleness on the Peking's blistering deck. The crowd, huge, wild, packed from building to curb, the merry, merry flags waving them on, the little kaleidoscopic flashes of expressions which he caught, when he stopped to look at them, on the grim faces to right and left,—all these impressions and many more were jumbled in his brain. He remembered the excitement and sympathy mingled in the countenances of the people. One or two little things were caught along with the larger recollections—a woman's face that looked like Hers and almost made him forget for the moment that She was then doubtless listening to the Class history; a baby holding a flag in its little hand, and staring with awed, uncomprehending eyes at the sober-faced soldiers tramping on and on; a man mounted on a truck crying above the cheering, "Give 'em hell for us!" A re[Pg 275]membrance that stood out above the others was that of someone calling a good-bye to the Major, of the choke in the officer's voice as he answered. He was an older man, and his expression of feeling nearly upset Tom. He trudged on, file-closer for the front rank and six-feet-one of target, and wondered if he had been a fool after all. It was well enough for those people yelling acclaim from street and housetop; but they were going back home, or down to the University, and he—to the troopship, and the high seas, and after that no telling. The strap of his knapsack hurt him. They said that Manila was a furnace. He wished that the women would stop loading them with flowers; he wished that Pellams and the other fellows wouldn't keep running out to march beside him; didn't they know how hard he was trying to hold it back? And what did this going amount to, anyway? If he had staid out, there would have been only one gap in the company. Then, in a rest, Pellams got to his side with a bottle of ice-cold Pilsener and Tom pointed its base to the sky and gained courage.
There was a falling apart to his right, and he felt rather than saw that his mother had slipped through the crowd and taken his hand in her slim, white one, was marching beside him over the cruel cobble-stones; Pellams, too, closed up on the other side, for the of[Pg 276]ficers were not trying to keep the alignment as they drew near the end. These three went on together, she trying to be brave now that the last had come, Pellams clumping along over the rough pavement and joking in ecstatic disregard of the discomfort of his fat body. It was over at last, the mounted police were pushing back the crowd; it was to be all alone now. The Stanford men gave their yell together, the volunteer held his mother close for a moment. Then,—"Company, attention!"—the dock faded into mist, so that he stumbled on the gangway.
Not until that night, when a group of them paced along the wharf, had anyone spoken of Class Day. Cap Smith had started it.
"They are going to the Ball now," said he.
"I wonder if Lyman came out ahead on the Show," said Marion, his eye on the dollar, even at that solemn moment.
"I wonder if the programs got down in time," said Tom, and then he laughed to think of himself, the chairman of the Ball committee, plodding along the splintered dock in a dusty uniform and buff leggings and with the rudiments of a scraggly beard on his face. It was a queer ending.
Down there, the others were floating round, now, to high-priced music from town. In a little note which Pellams had brought him from Her that morning, she had said that she was to[Pg 277] wear a small silk flag instead of flowers this time. He would have liked to peep in, as he used to from the gym roof when he was a Freshie, to see if she had really done it.
During these wharf-edge musings, taps had blown, bringing the men on board again. On the way up the plank, he remembered, they passed one of the fellows with his face in his hands, and Tom had to put his arm around the boy and lead him, so that he might be in quarters in time. Neither of them could know that this was to be the one who did not return.
He had his first sight of the hold, after that, and the truth knocked out some of the poetry. Ashley, and K Company in general, were quartered just over the screw; but a man gets used to anything, even to bullets that sing past your ears and clip off little bamboo leaves about two feet from your hair. There were twelve hundred men below decks; when most of the landsmen should be seasick—ugh!
The second night, Tuesday, he had sat with Cap among the coiled ropes on deck. Beyond the shipping, the city of hills twinkled at them, striped with long, sloping lines of dotted light; out of the blackness above, the crown of the Spreckels building made a circlet like a halo over St. Francis and his city; across the bay slid the mysterious, luminous honeycombs of the silent ferry-boats. Far[Pg 278] aft, the band was trying to cheer things up with a Sousa march. That very tune was being played, probably, down there where the Quadrangle, softly glowing with the faint edging of lanterns, shimmered in the fairy-land mystery of long palm-studded vistas, a-flutter with white dresses.
"They are saying good-bye to each other, now," said Tom, by way of a feeler.
"Humph!" said Cap. He was flat on his back, looking up at the stars. "It doesn't mean anything. When you're going to pull out across the Pacific for God knows what, then it's different."
"I didn't expect to spend this evening lying on a ship's deck," murmured Tom. He was thinking of what the Promenade Concert usually means to people who have been taught something by co-education. That good-bye, said in the Quadrangle when the music and the thoughtless people have gone and the lanterns blaze up and drop, one after another, and lie smoldering on the moonlit asphalt; those last words with people from whom you have concealed yourself these four years and to whom you can now afford to lay open your heart, as can the happy dead, because your ways after to-night may lie apart,—Tom knew that this good-bye does mean something, in spite of the superior announcement of Sophomore Smith. Only it meant more to[Pg 279] a fellow lying thinking about it among the ropes of a transport's deck, with the Spaniards in prospect.
Cap's cigarette shone like a glowworm in the shadow of the stack.
"Our good-bye supper will be sloppy weather, all right;" said he. "Six going out."
"No," answered Tom, "it won't be a drunk to-night, Cap. You haven't been in long enough. I'll bet they don't get through the first case; I'll bet it's a cry. You didn't see '95 go out."
"Well, perhaps," assented the Sophomore. "The fellows are pretty well worked up."
Tom went back to his Freshman days.
"I remember our '95 feed in the Hall. Stanton cried that night, and Gray. I never saw them do it before." Then, more slowly, "It must be tough on a girl."
After which he was not talkative.
There was little enough, this last morning, to suggest Commencement, as he leaned on the damp rail of the ship and dreamed over the last few days. A voice at his elbow said:
"Captain wants you, Sergeant."
Tom started out of his reverie, and the military tilt came into his back. He was not a student bidding the College farewell; he was a sergeant at eighteen a month and lucky to get so much.
The city had awakened when he came to[Pg 280] the rail again. There was a tense feeling abroad, a gathering excitement that grew through the morning. All manner of water-craft fussed and fumed and dodged around the transports,—tugs, rowboats, launches and clumsy river steamers strung with flags and black with civilians. One tug that hung close by shone with more color than the others by reason of the women crowding it; Tom could discern the face of his mother looking, looking with yearning eyes that would have called him back. He drew a quick breath of surprise and his hands tightened on the black rigging. There on the tug, standing beside his mother instead of among those who were saying good-bye to the Campus, he saw the Other One.
Soon after three, the screw throbbed, moved, the craft wheeled into lines flanking the huge vessel; the noises of the city awoke:
The grey town lay back among her hills, shrieking with every manner of mechanical voice her farewell to the troops. Above this uproar rose and fell the weird sobbing of a siren and a cannon from the top of a sky-[Pg 281]scraper boomed in at solemn intervals. On the roofs were knots of people flashing white signals of Godspeed; when the wind was right, one could catch, very faintly, the sound of their cheering.
The flotilla drew around the curving water-front and toward the Gate. To the left, the remains of the camp dotted the plain below the Presidio hills; every last man of them was on the bulkhead in front of the fort, waving his brown hat and cheering the lucky devils who went first. The great hill guns bellowed good-bye as the transports slipped through the gleaming strait. Gradually the convoy wheeled 'round again, the bigger vessels keeping up until outside the Heads. Then the first expedition went on alone.
Tom Ashley, Senior and 'Varsity fullback, with his eyes wet in spite of himself, set his face to the west. The round sun hung red above the horizon; a few seconds earlier, it had looked over the Palo Alto hills at the deserted University campus. Beyond the ship, a path of gold lay out toward Manila and its future. Marion, leaning beside him, looked back at the fading line of surf below the Cliff House.
"Well, Tom," he said, a bit huskily, "Commencement Day's over."
"Yes," answered the Sergeant, without turning, "we're up against it, all
[A] On May 25, 1898, Commencement Day at the University, the
First California Volunteers sailed for the Philippine Islands. With
Company K of that regiment went thirty-five Stanford students, a part of
the hundred who volunteered, in various regiments, for the Spanish War.
Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible, including obsolete and variant spellings. Obvious typographical errors in punctuation (misplaced quotes and the like) have been fixed. Corrections in the text are noted below, with corrections inside the brackets:
Table of Contents: The Substituted Full-back[Fullback]
Table of Contents:A Song-cycle[Song Cycle] and a Puncture
page 21: typo fixed: "Ill[I'll] be hanged if I will!" shouted the patient
page 106: typo fixed: special runs up on the University track and stops betwen[between] the Library and Encina
page 141: typo fixed: all right at a city college or even at Berkeley, but on this campus, nit[not] so!"
page 270: typo fixed: when the civilians had drifted off to ed[bed] or to the inglorious studies of a routine