Part 2 out of 3
"If I ~could~ do it," he vociferated, "if I ~could~ stand up there
and debate one o' their darn ole debates in the first place--if I had
the gall to even try it, why, my gosh! you don't suppose I'm goin'
to get up there and argue with ~that girl~, do you? That's a hot way
to get an education: stand up there and argue with a girl before a
couple o' hundred people! My ~gosh!~"
"You got to!" his prostrate companion cackled, weakly. "You can't
get out of it. You're a goner, ole Buddy!"
"I'll be sick. I'll be sick as a dog! I'll be sick as the sickest
dog that ever--"
"No use, ole man. The frat seniors'll be on the job. They'll know
whether you're sick or not, and they'll have you there, right on the
spot to the minute!"
The prediction was accurate. The too fatherly "frat seniors" did all
that Fred said they would, and more. For the honour of the "frat,"
they coached the desperate Ramsey in the technic of Lumen debate,
told him many more things to say than could be said in six minutes,
and produced him, despairing, ghastly, and bedewed, in the large hall
of the Lumen Society at eight o'clock on Friday evening.
Four other "twelve-minute debates" preceded his and the sound of
these, in Ramsey's ears, was the sound of Gabriel practising on
his horn in the early morning of Judgment Day. The members of the
society sat, three rows deep, along the walls of the room, leaving
a clear oblong of green carpet in the centre, where were two small
desks, twenty feet apart, the rostrums of the debaters. Upon a
platform at the head of the room sat dreadful seniors, the officers
of the society, and, upon benches near the platform, the debaters
of the evening were aligned. One of the fraternal seniors sat with
sweltering Ramsey; and the latter, as his time relentlessly came
nearer, made a last miserable squirm.
"Look here, Brother Colburn, I got to get out o' here."
"No, you don't, young fellow."
"Yes, I do!" Ramsey whispered, passionately. "Honest, I do. Honest,
Brother Colburn, I got to get a drink of water. I ~got~ to!"
"No. You can't."
"Honest, Colburn, I ~got~--"
Ramsey grunted feebly, and cast his dilating eyes along the rows of
faces. Most of them were but as blurs, swimming, yet he was aware
(he thought) of a formidable and horrible impassive scrutiny of
himself, a glare seeming to pierce through him to the back of the
belt round his waist, so that he began to have fearful doubts about
that belt, about every fastening and adjustment of his garments,
about the expression of his countenance, and about many other things
jumbling together in his consciousness. Over and over he whispered
gaspingly to himself the opening words of the sentence with which
Colburn had advised him to begin his argument. And as the moment
of supreme agony drew close, this whispering became continuous:
"In making my first appearance before this honor'ble membership
I feel constrained to say in making my first appearance before this
honor'ble membership I feel constrained to say in making my first
appearance before this honor'ble mem--"
...It had come. The chairman announced the subject of the fourth
freshman twelve-minute debate; and Dora Yocum, hitherto unperceived
by Ramsey, rose and went forward to one of the small desks in the
open space, where she stood composedly, a slim, pretty figure in
white. Members in Ramsey's neighbourhood were aware of a brief and
hushed commotion, and of Colburn's fierce whisper, "You can't! You
get up there!" And the blanched Ramsey came forth and placed himself
at the other desk.
He stood before the silent populace of that morgue, and it seemed to
him that his features had forgotten that he was supposed to be their
owner and in control of them; he felt that they were slipping all
over his face, regardless of his wishes. His head, as a whole, was
subject to an agitation not before known by him; it desired to move
rustily in eccentric ways of its own devising; his legs alternately
limbered and straightened under no direction but their own; and his
hands clutched each other fiercely behind his back; he was not one
cohesive person, evidently, but an assembled collection of parts
which had relapsed each into its own indivuality. In spite of them,
he somehow contrived the semblance of a bow toward the chairman and
the semblance of another toward Dora, of whom he was but hazily
conscious. Then he opened his mouth, and, not knowing how he had
started his voice going, heard it as if from a distance.
"In making my first appearance before this honor'ble membership I
feel restrained to say--" He stopped short, and thenceforward shook
visibly. After a long pause, he managed to repeat his opening,
stopped again, swallowed many times, produced a handkerchief and
wiped his face, an act of necessity--then had an inspiration.
"The subject assigned to me," he said, "is resolved that Germany is
mor'ly and legally justified in Belgians--Belgiums! This subject was
assigned to me to be the subject of this debate." He interrupted
himself to gasp piteously; found breathing difficult, but faltered
again: "This subject is the subject. It is the subject that was
assigned to me on a postal card." Then, for a moment or so, he had
a miraculous spurt of confidence, and continued rather rapidly: "I
feel constrained to say that the country of Belgian--Belgium, I mean
--this country has been constrained by the--invaded I mean--invaded
by the imperial German Impire and my subject in this debate is
whether it ought to or not, my being the infernative--affirmative,
I mean--that I got to prove that Germany is mor'ly and legally
justified. I wish to state that--"
He paused again, lengthily, then struggled on. "I have been
requested to state that the German Imp--Empire--that it certainly
isn't right for those Dutch--Germans, I mean--they haven't got any
more business in Belgium than I have myself, but I--I feel
constrained to say that I had to accept whatever side of this debate
I got on the postal card, and so I am constrained to take the side of
the Dutch. I mean the Germans. The Dutch are sometimes called--I
mean the Germans are sometimes called the Dutch in this country, but
they aren't Dutch, though sometimes called Dutch in this country.
Well, and so--so, well, the war began last August or about then,
anyway, and the German army invaded the Belgian army. After they got
there, the invasion began. First, they came around there and then
they commenced invading. Well, what I feel constrained--"
He came to the longest of all his pauses here, and the awful gravity
of the audience almost suffocated him. "Well," he concluded, "it
don't look right to me."
"Four minutes!" the chairman announced, for Ramsey's pauses had
worn away a great deal more of this terrible interval than had his
eloquence. "Opening statement for the negative: Miss D. Yocum.
As Dora began to speak, Ramsey experienced a little relief, but
only a little--about the same amount of relief as that felt by a
bridegroom when it is the bride's turn to "respond," not really
relief at all, but merely the slight relaxation of a continuing
strain. The audience now looked at Ramsey no more than people look
at a bridegroom, but he failed to perceive any substantial mitigation
of his frightful conspicuousness. He had not the remotest idea of
what he had said in setting forth his case for Germany, and he knew
that it was his duty to listen closely to Dora, in order to be able
to refute her argument when his two-minute closing speech fell due
but he was conscious of little more than his own condition. His legs
had now gone wild beyond all devilry, and he had to keep shifting his
weight from one to the other in order even to hope that their frenzy
might escape general attention.
He realized that Dora was speaking rapidly and confidently, and that
somewhere in his ill-assembled parts lurked a familiar bit of him
that ojbected to her even more than usual; but she had used half of
her time, at least, before he was able to gather any coherent meaning
from what she was saying. Even then he caught only a fragment, here
and there, and for the rest--so far as Ramsey was concerned--she
might as well have been reciting the Swedish alphabet.
In spite of the rather startling feebleness of her opponent's
statement, Dora went at her task as earnestly as if it were to
confute some monster of casuistry. "Thus, having demonstrated
that ~all~ war is wrong," she said, approaching her conclusion,
"it is scarcely necessary to point out that whatever the actual
circumstances of the invasion, and whatever the status of the case
in international law, or by reason of treaty, or the German oath
to respect the neutrality of Belgium, which of course was grossly
and dishonorably violated--all this, I say, ladies and gentlemen
of the Lumen Society, all this is beside the point of morals. Since,
as I have shown, ~all~ war is wrong, the case may be simplified
as follows: All war is morally wrong. ~Quod erat demonstrandum~.
Germany invaded Belgium. Invasion is war. Germany, therefore,
did moral wrong. Upon the legal side, as I began by pointing out,
Germany confessed in the Reichstag the violation of law. Therefore,
Germany was justified in the invasion neither morally nor legally;
but was both morally and legally wrong and evil. Ladies and
gentlemen of the Lumen Society, I await the refutation of my
Her opponent appeared to be having enough trouble with his legs,
without taking any added cares upon himself in the way of
refutations. But the marvellous Dora had calculated the length of
her statement with such nicety that the chairman announced "Four
minutes," almost upon the instant of her final syllable; and all
faces turned once more to the upholder of the affirmative.
"Refutation and conclusion by the affirmative," said the chairman.
"Mr. R. Milholland. Two minutes."
Therewith, Ramsey coughed as long as he could cough, and when he felt
that no more should be done in this way, he wiped his face--again an
act of necessity--and quaveringly began:
"Gentlemen and ladies, or ladies and gentlemen, in making the
refutation of my opponent, I feel that--I feel that hardly anything
more ought to be said."
He paused, looked helplessly at his uncontrollable legs, and resumed:
"I am supposed to make the reputa--the refutation of my opponent,
and I feel that I ought to say quite a good deal more. In the first
place, I feel that the invasion has taken place. I am supposed--
anyhow I got a postal card that I am supposed to be here to-night.
Well, in talking over this matter with a couple of seniors, they told
me I was supposed to claim this invasion was mor'ly and legally all
right. Well--" Here, by some chance, the recollection of a word of
Dora's flickered into his chaotic mind, and he had a brighter moment.
"My opponent said she proved all war is wrong--or something like
that, anyhow. She said she proved it was wrong to fight, no matter
what. Well, if she wasn't a girl, anybody that wanted to get her
into a fight could prob'ly do it." He did not add that he would like
to be the person to make the experiment (if Dora weren't a girl), nor
did the thought enter his mind until an hour or so later. "Well," he
added, "I suppose there is little more to be said."
He was so right, in regard to his own performance, at least, that,
thereupon drying up utterly, he proceeded to stand, a speechless
figure in the midst of a multitudinous silence, for an eternity
lasting forty-five seconds. He made a racking effort, and at the
end of this epoch found words again. "In making my argument in this
debate, I would state that--"
"Two minutes!" said the chairman. "Refutation by the negative.
Miss D. Yocum. Two minutes."
"I waive them," said Dora, primly. "I submit that the affirmative
has not refuted the argument of the negative."
"Very well." With his gavel the chairman sharply tapped the desk
before him, "The question is now before the house. 'Resolved, that
Germany is both morally and legally justified in her invasion of
Belgium.' All those in favour of the--"
But here there was an interruption of a kind never before witnessed
during any proceedings of the Lumen Society. It came from neither
of the debaters, who still remained standing at their desks until the
vote settling their comparative merits in argument should be taken.
The interruption was from the rear row of seats along the wall, where
sat new members of the society, freshmen not upon the program for the
evening. A loud voice was heard from this quarter, a loud but nasal
voice, shrill as well as nasal, and full of a strange hot passion.
"Mr. Chairman!" it cried. "Look-a-here, Mr. Chairman! Mr. Chairman,
I demand to be heard! You gotta gimme my say, Mr. Chairman! I'm
a-gunna have my ~say~! You look-a-here, Mr. Chairman!"
Shocked by such a breach of order, and by the unseemly violence of
the speaker, not only the chairman but everyone else looked there.
A short, strong figure was on its feet, gesticulating fiercely; and
the head belonging to it was a large one with too much curly black
hair, a flat, swarthy face, shiny and not immaculately shaven; there
was an impression of ill-chosen clothes, too much fat red lip, too
much tooth, too much eyeball. Fred Mitchell, half-sorrowing, yet
struggling to conceal tears of choked mirth over his roommate's late
exhibition, recognized this violent interrupter as one Linski, a
fellow freshman who sat next to him in one of his classes. "What's
~that~ cuss up to?" Fred wondered, and so did others. Linski showed
He pressed forward, shoving himself through the two rows in front of
him till he emerged upon the green carpet of the open space, and as
he came, he was cyclonic with words.
"You don't put no such stuff as this over, I tell you!" he shouted
in his hot, nasal voice. "This here's a free country, and you call
yourself a debating society, do you? Lemme tell you ~I~ belong to
a debating society in Chicago, where I come from, and them fellas up
there, they'd think they'd oughta be shot fer a fake like what you
people are tryin' to put over, here, to-night. I come down here to
git some more education, and pay fer it, too, in good hard money I've
made sweatin' in a machine shop up there in Chicago; but if ~this~
is the kind of education I'm a-gunna git, I better go on back there.
You call this a square debate, do you?"
He advanced toward the chairman's platform, shaking a frantic fist.
"Well, if you do, you got another think comin', my capitalis' frien'!
you went and give out the question whether it's right fer Choimuny
to go through Belgium; and what do you do fer the Choimun side? You
pick out this here big stiff"--he waved his passionate hand at the
paralyzed Ramsey--"you pick out a boob like that for the Choimun
side, a poor fish that gits stagefright so bad he don't know whether
he's talkin' or dead; or else he fakes it; because he's a speaker so
bum it looks more to me like he was faking. You get this big stiff
to fake the Choimun side, and then you go and stick up a goil agains'
him that's got brains and makes a pacifis' argument that wins the
case agains' the Choimuns like cuttin' through hog lard! But you
ain't a-gunna git away with it, mister! Lemme tell you right here
and now, I may be a mix blood, but I got some Choimun in me with the
rest what I got, and before you vote on this here question you gotta
hear a few woids from somebody that can ~talk!~ This whole war is
a capitalis' war, Belgium as much as Choimuny, and the United States
is sellin' its soul to the capitalis' right now, I tell you, takin'
sides agains' Choimuny. Orders fer explosives and ammanition and
guns and Red Cross supplies is comin' into this country by the
millions, and the capitalis' United States is fat already on the
blood of the workers of Europe! Yes, it is, and I'll have my ~say,~
you boorjaw faker, and you can hammer your ole gavel to pieces at
He had begun to shriek; moisture fell from his brow and his mouth;
the scandalized society was on its feet, nervously into groups.
Evidently the meeting was about to disintegrate. "I'll have my
~say~!" the frenzied Linski screamed. "You try to put up this
capitalis' trick and work a fake to carry over this debate agains'
Choimuny, but you can't work it on ~me~, lemme tell you! I'll have
The outraged chairman was wholly at a loss how to deal with the
"unprecedented situation"--so he defined it, quite truthfully; and he
continued to pound upon the desk, while other clamours began to rival
Linski's; shouts of "Put him out!" "Order!" "Shut up, Freshman!"
"Turn him over to the sophomores!"
"This meeting is ~adjourned!~" bellowed the chairman, and there was
a thronging toward the doors, while the frothing Linski asseverated:
"I'm a-gunna git my say, I tell you! I'll have my say! I'll have my
He had more than that, before the hour was over. A moment after he
emerged from the building and came out, still hot, upon the cool,
dark campus, he found himself the centre of a group of his own
classmates whom he at first mistook for sophomores, such was their
...As this group broke up, a few minutes later, a youth running to
join it, scenting somewhat of interest, detained one of those who
"What's up? What was that squealing?"
"Oh, nothing. We just talked to that Linski. Nobody else touched
him, but Ramsey Milholland gave him a ~peach~ of a punch on the
Ramsey was laconic in response to inquiries upon this subject. When
someone remarked: "You served him right for calling you a boob and
a poor fish and so on before all the society, girls and all," Ramsey
"That wasn't what I hit him for."
He declined to explain further.
The way I look at it, Ramsey," Fred Mitchell said, when they reached
their apartment, whither the benevolent Colburn accompanied them,
"the way I look at it, this Linski kind of paid you a compliment,
after all, when he called you a fake. He must have thought you
anyway ~looked~ as if you could make a better speech than you did.
And as Ramsey groaned, the jovial Mitchell gave himself up to the
divan and the mirth. "Oh, oh, oh, ~golly~!" he sputtered.
"Never you mind, Brother Milholland," Colburn said gently. "The
Lumen is used to nervous beginners. I've seen dozens in my time,
just like you; and some of 'em got to be first rate before they
quit. Besides, this crazy Linski is all that anybody'll ever
remember about to-night's meeting, anyhow. There never was any such
outbreak as that in ~my~ time, and I guess there nver was in the
whole history of the society. We'll probably suspend him until he
apologizes to the society--I'm on the board, and I'm in favour of it.
Who is the bird, anyhow? He's in your class."
"I never saw him before," Ramsey responded from the deep chair, where
he had moodily thrown himself; and, returning to his brooding upon
his oratory. "Oh, murder!" he moaned.
"Well," said the senior, "you'll know him when you see him again.
You put your mark on him where you can see it, all right!" He
chuckled. "I suppose I really ought to have interfered in that, but
I decided to do a little astronomical observation, about fifty feet
away, for a few minutes. I'm 'way behind in my astronomy, anyhow.
Do you know this Linski, Brother Mitchell?"
"I've talked to him a couple o' times on the campus," said Fred.
"He's in one of my classes. He's about the oldest in our class, I
guess--a lot older than us, anyhow. He's kind of an anarchist or
something; can't talk more'n five minutes any time without gettin off
some bug stuff about 'capitalism.' He said the course in political
economy was all 'capitalism' and the prof was bought by Wall Street."
"Poor old Prof. Craig!" Colburn laughed. "He gets fifteen hundred
"Yes; I'd heard that myself, and I told Linski, and he said he had
an uncle workin' in a steel mill got twice that much; but it didn't
make any difference, ole Craig was bought by Wall Street. He said
'capitalism' better look out; he and the foreign-born workmen were
goin' to ~take~ this country some day, and that was one of the
reasons he was after an education. He talked pretty strong pro-
German, too--about the war in Europe--but I sort of thought that was
more because he'd be pro-anything that he thought would help upset
the United States than because he cared much about Germany."
"Yes," said Colburn, "that's how he sounded to-night. I guess
there's plenty more like him in the cities, too. That reminds me,
I'd better arrange a debate on immigration for the Lumen. We'll put
Brother Milholland for the negative, this time."
Ramsey started violently. "See here--"
But the senior reassured him. "Just wanted to see you jump," he
explained. "Don't fear; you've done your share."
"I should think I have!" Ramsey groaned.
"Yes, you won't be called on again this term. By the way," said
Colburn, thoughtfully, "that was a clever girl you had against you
to-night. I don't believe in pacificism much, myself, but she used
it very niftily for her argument. Isn't she from your town, this
"Well, she's a clever young thing," said the senior, still
thoughtful. And he added: "Graceful girl, she is."
At this, the roommates looked at him with startled attention. Ramsey
was so roused as to forget his troubles and sit forward in his chair.
"Yes," said the musing Colburn, "she's a mighty pretty girl."
This exclamation was a simultaneous one; the astounded pair stared
at him in blank incredulity.
"Why, don't you think so?" Colburn mildly inquired. "She seems to me
very unusual looking."
"Well, yes," Fred assented, emphatically. "We're with you there!"
"Extraordinary eyes," continued Colburn. "Lovely figure, too;
altogether a strikingly pretty girl. Handsome, I should say,
perhaps. Yes, 'handsome' rather than 'pretty'." He looked up from
a brief reverie. "You fellows known her long?"
"You bet!" said Ramsey.
"She made a splendid impression on the Lumen," Colburn went on.
"I don't remember that I ever saw a first appearance there that
quite equalled it. She'll probably have a brilliant career in the
society, and in the university, too. She must be a very fine sort
of person." He deliberated within himself a few moments longer,
then, realizing that his hosts and Brethren did not respond with
any heartiness--or with anything at all--to the theme, he changed
it, and asked them what they thought about the war in Europe.
They talked of the war rather drowsily for a while; it was an
interesting but not an exciting topic: the thing they spoke of was
so far away. It was in foreign countries where they had never been
and had no acquaintances; and both the cause and the issue seemed to
be in confusion, though evidently Germany had "started" the trouble.
Only one thing emerged as absolutely clear and proved: there could
be no disagreement about Germany's "dirty work," as Fred defined
it, in violating Belgium. And this stirred Ramsey to declare with
justice that "dirty work" had likewise been done upon himself by the
official person, whoever he or she was, who had given him the German
side of the evening's debate. After this moment of fervour, the
conversation languished, and Brother Colburn rose to go.
"Well, I'm glad you gave that Linski a fine little punch, Brother
Milholland," he said, at the door. "It won't do you any harm in the
'frat,' or with the Lumen either. And don't be discouraged about
your debating. You'll learn. Anybody might have got rattled by
having to argue against as clever and good-looking a girl as that!"
The roommates gave each other a look of serious puzzlement as the
door closed. "Well, Brother Colburn is a mighty nice fellow," Fred
said. "He's kind of funny, though."
Ramsey assented, and then, as the two prepared for bed, they entered
into a further discussion of their senior friend. They liked him
"all right," they said, but he certainly must be kind of queer, and
they couldn't just see how he had "ever managed to get where he was"
in the "frat" and the Lumen and the university.
Ramsey passed the slightly disfigured Linski on the campus next day
without betraying any embarrassment or making a sign of recognition.
Fred Mitchell told his roommate, chuckling, that Linski had sworn
to "get" him, and, not knowing Fred's affiliations, had made him the
confidant of his oath. Fred had given his blessing, he said, upon
the enterprise, and advised Linski to use a brick. "He'll hit you
on the head with it," said the light-hearted Fred, falling back upon
this old joke. "Then you can catch it as it bounces off and throw
it back at him."
However, Linski proved to be merely an episode, not only so far as
Ramsey was concerned but in the Lumen and in the university as well.
His suspension from the Lumen was for a year, and so cruel a
punishment it proved for this born debater that he noisily declared
he would found a debating society himself, and had a poster printed
and distributed announcing the first meeting of "The Free Speech and
Masses' Rights Council." Several town loafers attended the meeting,
but the only person connected with the university who came was an
oriental student, a Chinese youth of almost intrusive amiability.
Linski made a fiery address, the townsmen loudly appluading his
advocacy of an embargo on munitions and the distribution of
everybody's "property," but the Chinaman, accustomed to see students
so madly in earnest only when they were burlesquing, took the whole
affair to be intended humour, and tittered politely without
cessation--except at such times as he thought it proper to appear
quite wrung with laughter. Then he would rock himself, clasp his
mouth with both hands and splutter through his fingers. Linski
accused him of being in the pay of "capital."
Next day the orator was unable to show himself upon the campus
without causing demonstrations; whenever he was seen a file of
quickly gathering students marched behind him chanting repeatedly
and deafeningly in chorus: "Down with Wall Street! Hoch der Kaiser!
Who loves Linski? Who, who, who? Hoo Lun! Who loves Linski? Who,
who, who? Hoo Lun!"
Linski was disgusted, resigned from the university, and disappeared.
"Well, here it isn't mid-year Exams yet, and the good ole class of
Nineteen-Eighteen's already lost a member," said Fred Mitchell. "I
guess we can bear the break-up!"
"I guess so," Ramsey assented. "That Linski might just as well
stayed here, though."
"He couldn't do any harm here. He'll prob'ly get more people to
listen to him in cities where there's so many new immigrants and all
such that don't know anything, comin' in all the time."
"Oh, well," said Fred. "What do ~we~ care what happens to Chicago!
Come on, let's behave real wild, and go on over to the 'Teria and get
us a couple egg sandwiches and sassprilly."
Ramsey was willing.
After the strain of the "mid-year Exams" in February, they lived a
free-hearted life. They had settled into the ways of their world;
they had grown used to it, and it had grown used to them; there was
no longer any ignominy in being a freshman. They romped upon the
campus and sometimes rioted harmlessly about the streets of the town.
In the evenings they visited their fellows and Brethren and were
visited in turn, and sometimes they looked so far ahead as to talk
vaguely of their plans for professions or business--though to a
freshman this concerned an almost unthinkably distant prospect. "I
guess I'll go in with my father, in the wholesale drug business,"
said Fred. "My married brother already is in the firm, and I suppose
they'll give me a show--send me out on the road a year or two first,
maybe, to try me. Then I'm going to marry some little cutie and
settle down. What you goin' to do, Ramsey? Go to Law School, and
then come back and go in your father's office?"
"I don't know. Guess so."
It was always Fred who did most of the talking; Ramsey was quiet.
Fred told the "frat seniors" that Ramsey was "developing a whole lot
these days"; and he told Ramsey himself that he could see a "big
change" in him, adding that the improvement was probably due to
Ramsey's having passed through "terrible trials like that debate."
Ramsey kept to their rooms more than his comrade did, one reason for
this domesticity being that he "had to study longer than Fred did,
to keep up"; and another reason may have been a greater shyness than
Fred possessed--if, indeed, Fred possessed any shyness at all. For
Fred was a cheery spirit difficult to abash, and by the coming of
spring knew all of the best-looking girl students in the place--knew
them well enough, it appeared, to speak of them not merely by their
first names but by abbreviations of these. He had become fashion's
sprig, a "fusser" and butterfly, and he reproached his roommate for
shunning the ladies.
"Well, the truth is, Fred," said Ramsey one day, responding darkly;
--"well, you see the truth is, Fred, I've had a--a--I've had an
So, only, did he refer to Milla.
Fred said no more; and it was comprehended between them that the past
need never be definitely referred to again, but that it stood between
Ramsey and any entertainment to be obtained of the gentler but less
trustworthy sex. And when other Brethren of the "frat" would have
pressed Ramsey to join them in various frivolous enterprises
concerning "co-eds," or to be shared by "co-eds," Fred thought it
better to explain to them privately (all being sacred among Brethren)
how Ramsey's life, so far as Girls went, had been toyed with by one
now a Married Woman.
This created a great deal of respect for Ramsey. It became
understood everywhere that he was a woman-hater.
That early spring of 1915 the two boys and their friends and Brethren
talked more of the war than they had in the autumn, though the
subject was not an all at absorbing one; for the trenches in Flanders
and France were still of the immense, remote distance. By no stretch
of imagination could these wet trenches be thought greatly to concern
the "frat," the Lumen, or the university. Really important matters
were the doings of the "Track Team," now training in the "Gym" and on
the 'Varsity Field, and, more vital still, the prospects of the Nine.
But in May there came a shock which changed things for a time.
The ~Lusitania~ brought to every American a revelation of what had
lain so deep in his own heart that often he had not realized it was
there. When the Germans hid in the sea and sent down the great
merchant ship, with American babies and their mothers, and gallantly
dying American gentlemen, there came a change even to girls and boys
and professors, until then so preoccupied with their own little aloof
world thousands of miles from the murder.
Fred Mitchell, ever volatile and generous, was one of those who went
quite wild. No orator, he nevertheless made a frantic speech at the
week's "frat meetings," cursing the Germans in the simple old English
words that their performance had demonstrated to be applicable, and
going on to demand that the fraternity prepare for its own share in
the action of the country. "I don't care ~how~ insignificant we few
fellows here to-night may seem," he cried; "we can do our little,
and if everybody in this country's ready to do their own little, why,
that'll be plenty! Brothers, don't you realize that all ~over~ the
United States to-night the people are feeling just the way we are
here? Millions and millions and millions of them! Wherever there's
an American he's ~with~ us--and you bet your bottom dollar there are
just a few more Americans in this country of ours than there are
big-mouthed lobsters like that fellow Linski! I tell you, if
Congress only gives the word, there could be an army of five million
men in this country to-morrow, and those dirty baby-killin' dachshunds
would hear a word or two from your Uncle Samuel! Brothers, I demand
that something be done right here and now, and by us! I move we
telegraph the Secretary of War to-night and offer him a regiment from
this university to go over and help ~hang~ their damn Kaiser."
The motion was hotly seconded and instantly carried. Then followed
a much flustered discussion of the form and phrasing of the proposed
telegram, but, after everything seemed to have been settled, someone
ascertained by telephone that the telegraph company would not accept
messages containing words customarily defined as profane; so the
telegram had to be rewritten. This led to further amendment, and it
was finally decided to address the senators from that state, instead
of the Secretary of War, and thus in a somewhat modified form the
message was finally despatched.
Next day, news of what the "frat" had done made a great stir in the
university; other "frats" sent telegrams, so did the "Barbarians,"
haters of the "frats" but joining them in this; while a small band
of "German-American" students found it their duty to go before the
faculty and report these "breaches of neutrality." They protested
heavily, demanding the expulsion of the "breachers" as disloyal
citizens, therefore unfit students, but suffered a disappointment;
for the faculty itself had been sending telegrams of similar spirit,
addressing not only the senators and congressmen of the state but
the President of the United States. Flabbergasted, the "German-
Americans" retired; they were confused and disgusted by this
higher-up outbreak of unneutrality--it overwhelmed them that citizens
of the United States should not remain neutral in the dispute between
the United States and Germany. All day the campus was in ferment.
At twilight, Ramsey was walking meditatively on his way to dinner
at the "frat house," across the campus from his apartment at Mrs.
Meig's. Everybody was quiet now, both town and gown; the students
were at their dinners and so were the burghers. Ramsey was late
but did not quicken his thoughtful steps, which were those of one
lost in reverie. He had forgotten that spring-time was all about
him, and, with his head down, walked unregardful of the new gayeties
flung forth upon the air by great clusters of flowering shrubs, just
come into white blossom and lavender.
He was unconscious that somebody behind him, going the same way,
came hastening to overtake him and called his name, "Ramsey! Ramsey
Milholland!" Not until he had been called three times did he realize
that he was being hailed--and in a girl's voice! By that time, the
girl herself was beside him, and Ramsey halted, quite taken aback.
The girl was Dora Yocum.
She was pale, a little breathless, and her eyes were bright and
severe. "I want to speak to you," she said, quickly. "I want to
ask you about something. Mr. Colburn and Fred Mitchell are the only
people I know in your 'frat' except you, and I haven't seen either
of them to-day, or I'd have asked one of them."
Most uncomfortably astonished, Ramsey took his hands out of his
pockets, picked a leaf from a lilac bush beside the path, and put
the stem of the leaf seriously into a corner of his mouth, before
finding anything to say. "Well--well, all right," he finally
responded. "I'll tell you--if it's anything I know about."
"You know about it," said Dora. "That is, you certainly do if you
were at your 'frat' meeting last night. Were you?"
"Yes, I was there," Ramsey answered, wondering what in the world she
wanted to know, though he supposed vaguely that it must be something
about Colburn, whom he had several times seen walking with her. "Of
course I couldn't tell you much," he added, with an afterthought.
"You see, a good deal that goes on at a 'frat' meeting isn't supposed
to be talked about."
"Yes," she said, smiling faintly, though with a satire that missed
him. "I've been a member of a sorority since September, and I think
I have an idea of what could be told or not told. Suppose we walk
on, if you don't mind. My question needn't embarrass you."
Nevertheless, as they slowly went on together, Ramsey was embarrassed.
He felt "queer." They had known each other so long; in a way had
shared so much, sitting daily for years near each other and undergoing
the same outward experiences; they had almost "grown up together,"
yet this was the first time they had ever talked together or walked
"Well--" he said. "If you want to ask anything it's all right for me
to tell you--well, I just as soon, I guess."
"It has nothing to do with the secret proceedings of your 'frat',"
said Dora, primly. "What I want to ask about has been talked of all
over the place to-day. Everyone has been saying it was ~your~ 'frat'
that sent the first telegram to members of the Government offering
support in case of war with Germany. They say you didn't even wait
until to-day, but sent off a message last night. What I wanted to
ask you was whether this story is true or not?"
"Why, yes," said Ramsey, mildly. "That's what we did."
She uttered an exclamation, a sound of grief and of suspicion
confirmed. "Ah! I was afraid so!"
"'Afraid so'? What's the matter?" he asked, and because she seemed
excited and troubled, he found himself not quite so embarrassed as
he had been at first; for some reason her agitation made him feel
easier. "What was wrong about that?"
"Oh, it's all so shocking and wicked and mistaken!" she cried.
"Even the faculty has been doing it, and half the other 'frats'
and sororities! And it was yours that started it."
"Yes, we did," he said, throughly puzzled. "We're the oldest 'frat'
here, and of course"--he chuckled modestly--"of course we think we're
the best. Do you mean you believe we ought to've sat back and let
somebody else start it?"
"Oh, ~no~!" she answered, vehemently. "Nobody ought to have started
it! That's the trouble; don't you see? If nobody had started it
none of it might have happened. The rest mightn't have caught it.
It mightn't have got into their heads. A war thought is the most
contagious thought in the world; but if it can be kept from starting,
it can be kept from being contagious. It's just when people have got
into an emotional state, or a state of smouldering rage, that
everybody ought to be so terribly careful not to think war thoughts
or make war speeches--or send war telegrams! I thought--oh, I was so
sure I'd convinced Mr. Colburn of all this, the last time we talked
of it! He seemed to understand, and I was sure he agreed with me."
She bit her lip. "He was only pretending--I see that now!"
"I guess he must 'a' been," said Ramsey, with admirable simplicity.
"He didn't talk about anything like that last night. He was as much
for it as anybody."
"I've no doubt!"
Ramsey made bold to look at her out of the side of his eye, and as
she was gazing tensely forward he continued his observation for some
time. She was obviously controlling agitation, almost controlling
tears, which seemed to threaten her very wide-open eyes; for those
now fully grown and noticeable eyewinkers of hers were subject to
fluctuations indicating such a threat. She looked "hurt," and Ramsey
was touched; there was something human about her, then, after all.
And if he had put his feeling into words at the moment, he would have
said that he guessed maybe he could stand this ole girl, for a few
minutes sometimes, better than he'd always thought he could.
"Well," he said, "Colburn prob'ly wouldn't want to hurt your feelings
or anything. Colburn--"
"He? He didn't! I haven't the faintest personal interest in what he
"Oh!" said Ramsey. "Well, excuse me; I thought prob'ly you were sore
because he'd jollied you about this pacifist stuff, and then--"
"No!" she said, sharply. "I'm not thinking of his having agreed with
~me~ and fooling ~me~ about it. He just wanted to make a pleasant
impression on a girl, and said anything he thought would please her.
I don't care whether he does things like that or not. What I care
about is that the ~principle~ didn't reach him and that he mocked it!
I don't care about a petty treachery to me, personally, but I--"
Fraternal loyalty could not quite brook this. "Brother Colburn is
a perfectly honor'ble man," said Ramsey, solemnly. "He is one of
the most honor'ble men in this--"
"Of course! she cried. "Oh, can't I make you understand that I'm not
condemning him for a little flattery to me? I don't care two straws
for his showing that ~I~ didn't influence him. He doesn't interest
me, please understand."
Ramsey was altogether perplexed. "Well, I don't see what makes you
go for him so hard, then."
"But you said he was treach--"
"I don't ~condemn~ him for it," she insisted, despairingly. "Don't
you see the difference? I'm not condemning anybody; I'm only
"About all of you that want ~war~!"
"My golly!" Ramsey exclaimed. "You don't think those Dutchmen were
right to drown babies and--"
"No! I think they were ghastly murderers! I think they were
detestable and fiendish and monstrous and--"
"Well, then, my goodness! What do you want?"
"I don't want war!"
"I want Christianity!" she cried. "I can't think of the Germans
without hating them, and so to-day, when all the world is hating
them, I keep myself from thinking of them as much as I can. Already
half the world is full of war; you want to go to war to make things
right, but it won't; it will only make more war!"
"Don't you see what you've done, you boys?" she said. "Don't you
see what you've done with your absurd telegram? That started the
rest; they thought they ~all~ had to send telegrams like that."
"Well, the faculty--"
"Even they mightn't have thought of it if it hadn't been for the
first one. Vengeance is the most terrible thought; once you put
it into people's minds that they ought to have it, it runs away
"Well, it isn't mostly vengeance we're after, at all. There's a lot
more to it than just getting even with--"
She did not heed him. "You're all blind! You don't see what you're
doing; you don't even see what you've done to this peaceful place
here. You've filled it full of thoughts of fury and killing and
"Why, no," said Ramsey. "It was those Dutch did that to us; and,
besides, there's more to it than you--"
"No, there isn't," she interrupted. "It's just the old brutal spirit
that nations inherit from the time they were only tribes; it's the
tribe spirit, and an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It's
those things and the love of fighting--men have always loved to fight.
Civilization hasn't taken it out of them; men still have the brute in
them that loves to fight!"
"I don't think so," said Ramsey. "Americans don't love to fight;
I don't know about other countries, but we don't. Of course, here
and there, there's some fellow that likes to hunt around for scrapes,
but I never saw more than three or four in my life that acted that
way. Of course a football team often has a scrapper or two on it,
but that's different."
"No," she said. "I think you all really love to fight."
Ramsey was roused to become argumentative. "I don't see where you
get the idea. Colburn isn't that way, and back at school there
wasn't a single boy that was anything like that."
"What!" She stopped, and turned suddenly to face him.
"What's the matter?" he said, stopping, too. Something he said
had startled her, evidently.
"How can you say such a thing?" she cried. "~You~ love to fight!"
"You do! You love fighting. You always have loved fighting."
He was dumbfounded. "Why, I never had a fight in my life!"
She cried out in protest of such prevarication.
"Well, I never did," he insisted, mildly.
"Why, you had a fight about ~me~!"
"No, I didn't."
"With Wesley Bender!"
Ramsey chuckled. "~That~ wasn't a fight!"
"Nothing like one. We were just guyin' him about--about gettin'
slicked up, kind of, because he at in front of you; and he hit me
with his book strap and I chased him off. Gracious, no; ~that~
wasn't a fight!"
"But you fought Linski only last fall."
Ramsey chuckled again. "That wasn't even as much like a fight as
the one with Wesley. I just told this Linski I was goin' to give
him a punch in the sn-- I just told him to look out because I was
goin' to hit him, and then I did it, and waited to see if he wanted
to do anything about it, and he didn't. That's all there was to
it, and it wasn't any more like fighting than--than feeding chickens
She laughed dolefully. "It seems to me rather more like it than
"Well, it wasn't."
They had begun to walk on again, and Ramsey was aware that they had
passed the "frat house," where his dinner was probably growing cold.
He was aware of this, but not sharply or insistently. Curiously
enough, he did not think about it. He had begun to find something
pleasant in the odd interview, and in walking beside a girl, even
though the girl was Dora Yocum. He made no attempt to account to
himself for anything so peculiar.
For a while they went slowly together, not speaking, and without
destination, though Ramsey vaguely took it for granted that Dora was
going somewhere. But she wasn't. They emerged from the part of the
small town closely built about the university and came out upon a bit
of parked land overlooking the river; and here Dora's steps slowed to
an indeterminate halt near a bench beneath a maple tree.
"I think I'll stay here a while," she said; and as he made no
response, she asked, "Hadn't you better be going back to your 'frat
house' for your dinner? I didn't mean for you to come out of your
way with me; I only wanted to get an answer to my question. You'd
better be running back."
He stood irresolute, not sure that he wanted his dinner just then.
It would have amazed him to face the fact deliberately that perhaps
he preferred being with Dora Yocum to eating. However, he faced no
such fact, nor any fact, but lingered.
"Well--" he said again.
"You'd better go."
"I guess I can get my dinner pretty near any time. I don't--" He
had a thought. "Did you--"
"Did I what?"
"Did you have your dinner before I met you?"
"Well, aren't you--"
She shook her head. "I don't want any."
"I don't think people have very much appetite to-day and yesterday,"
she said, with the hint of a sad laugh, "all over America."
"No; I guess that's so."
"It's too terrible!" she said. "I can't sit and eat when I think
of the ~Lusitania~--of all those poor, poor people strangling in
"No; I guess nobody can eat much, if they think about that."
"And of what it's going to bring, if we let it," she went on. "As
if this killing weren't enough, we want to add ~our~ killing! Oh,
that's the most terrible thing of all--the thing it makes within us!
Don't you understand?"
She turned to him appealingly, and he felt queerer than ever. Dusk
had fallen. Where they stood, under the young-leaved maple tree,
there was but a faint lingering of afterglow, and in this mystery her
face glimmered wan and sweet; so that Ramsey, just then, was like one
who discovers an old pan, used in the kitchen, to be made of chased
"Well, I don't feel much like dinner right now," he said. "We--we
could sit here awhile on this bench, prob'ly."
Ramsey kept very few things from Fred Mitchell, and usually his
confidences were immediate upon the occasion of them; but allowed
several weeks to elapse before sketching for his roommate the
outlines of this adventure.
"One thing that was kind o' funny about it, Fred," he said, "I didn't
know what to call her."
Mr. Mitchell, stretched upon the window seat in their "study," and
looking out over the town street below and the campus beyond the
street, had already thought it tactful to ambush his profound
amusement by turning upon his side, so that his face was toward the
window and away from his companion. "What did you want to call her?"
he inquired in a serious voice. "Names?"
"No. You know what I mean. I mean I had to just keep callin' her
'you'; and that gets kind of freaky when you're talkin' to anybody
a good while like that. When she'd be lookin' away from me, and I'd
want to start sayin' something to her, you know, why, I wouldn't know
how to get started exactly, without callin' her something. A person
doesn't want to be always startin' off with 'See here,' or things
"I don't see why you let it trouble you," said Fred. "From how
you've always talked about her, you had a perfectly handy way to
start off with anything you wanted to say to her."
"Why didn't you just say, 'Oh, you Teacher's Pet!' That would--"
"Get out! What I mean is, she called me 'Ramsey' without any bother;
it seems funny I got stumped every time I started to say 'Dora.'
Someway I couldn't land it, and it certainly would 'a' sounded crazy
to call her 'Miss Yocum' after sittin' in the same room with her
every day from the baby class clear on up through the end of high
school. That ~would~ 'a' made me out an idiot!"
"What did you call her?" Fred asked.
"Just nothin' at all. I started to call her something or other a
hundred times, I guess, and then I'd balk. I'd get all ready, and
kind of make a sort of a sound, and then I'd have to quit."
"She may have thought you had a cold," said Fred, still keeping his
"I expect maybe she did--though I don't know; most of the time she
didn't seem to notice me much, kind of."
"No. She was too upset, I guess, by what she was thinkin' about."
"But if it hadn't been for that," Fred suggested, "you mean she'd
have certainly paid more attention to who was sitting on the bench
"Get out! You know how it was. Everybody those few days thought we
were goin' to have war, and she was just sure of it, and it upset
her. Of course most people were a lot more upset by what those
Dutchmen did to the ~Lusitania~ than by the idea of war; and she
seemed to feel as broken up as anybody could be about the
~Lusitania~, but what got her the worst was the notion of her country
wantin' to fight, she said. She really was upset, too, Fred; there
wasn't any puttin' on about it. I guess that ole girl certainly must
have a good deal of feeling, because, doggoned, after we'd been
sittin' there a while if she didn't have to get out her handkerchief!
She kept her face turned away from me--just the same as you're doin'
now to keep from laughin'--but honestly, she cried like somebody at
a funeral. I felt like the darndest fool!"
"I'm not laughing," said Fred, but he did not prove it by turning so
that his face could be seen. "What did she say?"
"Oh, she didn't say such an awful lot. She said one kind o' funny
thing though: she said she was sorry she couldn't quite control
herself, but if anybody had to see her cry she minded it less because
it was an old schoolmate. What struck me so kind o' funny about that
is--why, it looks as if she never knew the way I always hated her
"Yes," said Fred. "It wasn't flattering!"
"Well, sir, it ~isn't~, kind of," Ramsey agreed, musingly. "It
certainly isn't when you look at it that way."
"What did you say when she said that?" Fred asked.
"Nothin'. I started to, but I sort of balked again. Well, we kept
on sitting there, and afterwhile she began to talk again and got kind
of excited about how no war could do anything or anybody any good,
and all war was wicked, no matter what it was about, and nothin'
could be good that was founded on fear and hate, and every war that
ever was fought was always founded on fear and hate. She said if the
Germans wanted to fight us we ought to go to meet them and tell them
we wouldn't fight."
"What did you say?"
"Nothin'. I kind o' started to--but what's the use? She's got that
in her head. Besides, how are you goin' to argue about a thing with
a person that's crying about it? I tell you, Fred, I guess we got to
admit, after all, that ole girl certainly must have a lost of heart
about her, anyway. There may not be much ~fun~ to her--though of
course I wouldn't know hardly any way to tell about that--but there
couldn't be hardly any doubt she's got a lot of feeling. Well, and
then she went on and said old men made wars, but didn't fight; they
left the fighting to the boys, and the suffering to the boy's
"Yes!" Fred exclaimed, and upon that he turned free of mirth for the
moment. "That's the woman of it, I guess. Send the old men to do
the fighting! For the matter of that, I guess my father'd about a
thousand times go himself than see me and my brothers go; but
Father's so fat he can't stoop! You got to be able to stoop to dig
a trench, I guess! Well, suppose we sent our old men up against
those Dutchmen; the Dutchmen would just kill the old men, and then
come after the boys anyway, and the boys wouldn't be ready, and
they'd get killed, too; and then there wouldn't be anybody but the
Dutchmen left, and that'd be one fine world, wouldn't it?"
"Yes," said Ramsey. "Course I thought of that."
"Did you tell her?"
"What did you say?"
"Nothin'. I couldn't get started anyway, but, besides, what was the
use? But she didn't want the old men to go; she didn't want anybody
"What did she want the country to do?" Fred asked, impatiently.
"Just what it has been doin', I suppose. Just let things simmer
down, and poke along, and let them do what they like to us."
"I guess so!" said Fred. "Then, afterwhile, when they get some
free time on their hands, they'll come over and make it ~really~
interesting for us, because they know we won't do anything but talk.
Yes, I guess the way things are settling down ought to suit Dora.
There isn't goin' to be any war."
"She was pretty sure there was, though," Ramsey said, thoughtfully.
"Oh, of course she was then. We all thought so those few days."
"No. She said she thought it prob'ly wouldn't come right away, but
now it was almost sure to come sometime. She said our telegrams and
all the talk and so much feeling and everything showed her that the
war thought that was always ~in~ people somewhere had been stirred up
so it would go on and on. She said she knew from the way she felt
herself about the ~Lusitania~ that a feeling like that in her would
never be absolutely wiped out as long as she lived. But she said her
other feeling about the horribleness of war taught her to keep the
first feeling from breaking out, but with other people it wouldn't;
and even if war didn't break out right then, it would always be ready
to, all over the country, and sometime it would, though she was goin'
to do her share to fight it, herself, as long as she could stand.
She asked me wouldn't I be one of the ones to help her."
He paused, and after a moment Fred asked, "Well? What did you say
"Nothin'. I started to, but--"
Again Fred thought it tactful to turn and look out the window, while
the agitation of his shoulders betrayed him."
"Go on and laugh! Well, so we stayed there quite a while, but before
we left she got kind of more like everyday, you know, the way people
do. It was half-past nine when we walked back in town, and I was
commencin' to feel kind of hungry, so I asked her if she wasn't, and
she sort of laughed and seemed to be ashamed of it, as if it were a
disgrace or something, but she said she guessed she was; so I left
her by that hedge of lilacs near the observatory and went on over to
the 'Teria and the fruit store, and got some stuffed eggs and olives
and half-a-dozen peanut butter sandwiches and a box o' strawberries
--kind of girl-food, you know--and went on back there, and we ate the
stuff up. So then she said she was afraid she'd taken me away from
my dinner and made me a lot of trouble, and so on, and she was sorry,
and she told me good-night--"
"What did you say then?"
"Noth-- Oh, shut up! So then she skipped out to her Dorm, and I
came on home."
"When did you see her next, Ramsey?"
"I haven't seen her next," said Ramsey. "I haven't seen her at all
--not to speak to. I saw her on Main Street twice since then, but
both times she was with some other girls, and they were across the
street, and I couldn't tell if she was lookin' at me--I kind of
thought not--so I thought it might look sort o' nutty to bow to her
if she wasn't, so I didn't."
"And you didn't tell her you wouldn't be one of the ones to help her
with her pacifism and anti-war stuff and all that?"
"No. I started to, but-- Shut up!"
Fred sat up, giggling. "So she thinks you ~will~ help her. You
didn't say anything at all, and she must think that means she
converted you. Why didn't you speak up?"
"Well, ~I~ wouldn't argue with her," said Ramsey. Then, after a
silence, he seemed to be in need of sympathetic comprehension. "It
~was~ kind o' funny, though, wasn't it?" he said, appealingly.
"The whole business."
"What 'whole bus'--"
"Oh, get out! Her stoppin' me, and me goin' pokin' along with her,
and her--well, her crying and everything, and me being around with
her while she felt so upset, I mean. It seems--well, it does seem
kind o' funny to me."
"Why does it?" Fred inquired, preserving his gravity. "Why should
it seem funny to you?"
"I don't mean funny like something's funny you laugh at," Ramsey
explained laboriously. "I mean funny like something that's out of
the way, and you wonder how it ever happened to happen. I mean it
seems funny I'd ever be sittin' there on a bench with that ole girl
I never spoke to in my life or had anything to do with, and talkin'
about the United States goin' to war. What we were talkin' about,
why, that seems just as funny as the rest of it. Lookin' back to our
class picnic, f'r instance, second year of high school, that day I
jumped in the creek after-- Well, you know, it was when I started
makin' a fool of myself over a girl. Thank goodness, I got ~that~
out o' my system; it makes me just sick to look back on those days
and think of the fool things I did, and all I thought about that
girl. Why, she-- Well, I've got old enough to see now she was just
about as ordinary a girl as there ever was, and if I saw her now I
wouldn't even think she was pretty; I'd prob'ly think she was sort of
loud-lookin'. Well, what's passed is past, and it isn't either here
nor there. What I started to say was this: that the way it begins
to look to me, it looks as if nobody can tell in this life a darn
thing about what's goin' to happen, and the things that do happen are
the very ones you'd swear were the last that could. I mean--you look
back to that day of the picnic--my! but I was a rube then--well, I
mean you look back to that day, and what do you suppose I'd have
thought then if somebody'd told me the time would ever come when I'd
be 'way off here at college sittin' on a bench with Dora Yocum--with
~Dora Yocum~, in the first place--and her crying, and both of us
talking about the United States goin' to war with Germany! Don't it
seem pretty funny to you, Fred, too?"
"But as near as I can make out," Fred said, "that isn't what
"Why isn't it?"
"You say 'and both us talking' and so on. As near as I can make out,
~you~ didn't say anything at all."
"Well, I didn't--much," Ramsey admitted, and returned to his point
with almost pathetic persistence. "But doesn't it seem kind o' funny
to you, Fred?"
"Well, I don't know."
"It does to me," Ramsey insisted. "It certainly does to me."
"Yes," said Fred cruelly. "I've noticed you said so, but it don't
look any funnier than you do when you say it."
Suddenly he sent forth a startling shout. "~Wow!~ You're as red as
a blushing beet."
"I am not!"
"Y'are!" shouted Fred. "Wow! The ole woman-hater's got the flushes!
Oh, look at the pretty posy!"
And, jumping down from the window seat, he began to dance round
his much perturbed comrade, bellowing. Ramsey bore with him for
a moment, then sprang upon him; they wrestled vigorously, broke a
chair, and went to the floor with a crash that gave the chandelier
in Mrs. Meig's parlour, below, an atack of jingles.
"You let me up!" Fred gasped.
"You take your solemn oath to shut up? You goin' to swear it?"
"All right. I give my solemn oath," said Fred; and they rose,
arranging their tousled attire.
"Well," said Fred, "when you goin' to call on her?"
"You look here!" Ramsey approached him dangerously. "You just gave
me your sol--"
"I beg!" Fred cried, retreating. "I mean, aside from all that, why,
I just thought maybe after such an evening you'd feel as a gentleman
you ought to go and ask about her health."
"Now, see here--"
"No, I mean it; you ought to," Fred insisted, earnestly, and as
his roommate glared at him with complete suspicion, he added, in
explanation. "You ought to go next Caller's Night, and send in your
card, and say you felt you ought to ask if she'd suffered any from
the night air. Even if you couldn't manage to say that, you ought
to start to say it, anyhow, because you-- Keep off o' me! I'm only
tryin' to do you a good turn, ain't I?"
"You save your good turns for yourself," Ramsey growled, still
advancing upon him.
But the insidious Mitchell, evading him, fled to the other end of
the room, picked up his cap, and changed his manner. "Come on, ole
bag o' beans, let's be on our way to the 'frat house'; it's time.
We'll call this all off."
"You better!" Ramsey warned him; and they trotted out together.
But as they went along, Fred took Ramsey's arm confidentially, and
said, "Now, honestly, Ram, ole man, when ~are~ you goin' to--"
Ramsey was still red. "You look here! Just say one more word--"
"Oh, ~no~," Fred expostulated. "I mean ~seriously~, Ramsey.
Honestly, I mean seriously. Aren't you seriously goin' to call on
her some Caller's Night?"
"No, I'm not!"
"But why not?"
"Because I don't want to."
"Well, seriously, Ramsey, there's only one Caller's Night before
vacation, and so I suppose it hardly will be worth while; but I
expect you'll see quite a little of her at home this summer?"
"No, I won't. I won't see her at all. She isn't goin' to be home
this summer, and I wouldn't see anything of her if she was."
"Where's she goin' to be."
"She is?" said Fred, slyly. "When'd she tell you?"
Ramsey turned on him. "You look out! She didn't tell me. I just
happened to see in the ~Bulletin~ she's signed up with some other
girls to go and do settlement work in Chicago. Anybody could see
it. It was printed out plain. You could have seen it just as well
as I could, if you'd read the ~Bulletin~."
"Oh," said Fred.
"Now look here--"
"Good heavens! Can't I even say 'oh'?"
"It depends on the way you say it."
"I'll be careful," Fred assured him, earnestly. "I really and
honestly don't mean to get you excited about all this, Ramsey. I can
see myself you haven't changed from your old opinion of Dora Yocum a
bit. I was only tryin' to get a little rise out of you for a minute,
because of course, seriously, why, I can see you hate her just the
same as you always did."
"Yes," said Ramsey, disarmed and guileless in the face of diplomacy.
"I only told you about all this, Fred, because it seemed--well, it
seemed so kind o' funny to me."
Fred affected not to hear. "What did you say, Ramsey?"
Ramsey looked vaguely disturbed. "I said--why, I said it all seemed
kind o'--" He paused, then repeated plaintively: "Well, to me, it
all seemed kind o'--kind o' funny."
"What did?" Fred inquired, but as he glanced in seeming naivete at
his companion, something he saw in the latter's eye warned him, and
suddenly Fred thought it would be better to run.
Ramsey chased him all the way to the "frat house."
Ramsey was not quite athlete enough for any of the 'varsity teams;
neither was he an antagonist safely encountered, whether in play or
in earnest, and during the next few days he taught Fred Mitchell to
be cautious. The chaffer learned that his own agility could not
save him from Ramsey, and so found it wiser to contain an
effervescence which sometimes threatened to burst him. Ramsey as a
victim was a continuous temptation, he was so good-natured and yet
After Commencement, when the roommates had gone home, Mr. Mitchell's
caution extended over the long sunshiny months of summer vacation;
he broke it but once and then in well-advised safety, for the
occasion was semi-public. The two were out for a stroll on a July
Sunday afternoon; and up and down the street young couples lolled
along, young families and baby carriages straggled to and from the
houses of older relatives, and the rest of the world of that growing
city was rocking and fanning itself on its front veranda.
"Here's a right pretty place, isn't it, Ramsey? don't you think?"
Fred remarked innocently, as they were passing a lawn of short-
clipped, bright green grass before a genial-looking house, fresh in
white paint and cool in green-and-white awnings. A broad veranda,
well populated just now, crossed the front of the house; fine trees
helped the awnings to give comfort against the sun; and Fred's
remark was warranted. Nevertheless, he fell under the suspicion
of his companion, who had begun to evince some nervousness before
"What place do you mean?"
"The Yocum place," said Mr. Mitchell. "I hear the old gentleman's
mighty prosperous these days. They keep things up to the mark,
don't they, Ramsey?"
"I don't know whether they do or whether they don't," Ramsey
Fred appeared to muse regretfully. "It looks kind of ~empty~ now,
though," he said, "with only Mr. and Mrs. Yocum and their three
married daughters, and eight or nine children on the front porch!"
"You wait till I get you where they can't see us!" Ramsey warned
"You can't do it!" said Fred, manifesting triumph. "We'll both stop
right here in plain sight of the whole Yocum family connection till
you promise not to touch me."
And he halted, leaning back implacably against the Yocum's iron
fence. Ramsey was scandalized.
"Come on!" he said, hoarsely. "Don't stop ~here~!"
"I will, and if you go on alone I'll yell at you. You got to stand
right here with all of 'em lookin' at you until--"
"I promise! My heavens, come ~on~!"
Fred consented to end the moment of agony; and for the rest of the
summer found it impossible to persuade Ramsey to pass that house
in his company. "I won't do it!" Ramsey told him. "Your word of
honour means nothin' to me; you're liable to do anything that comes
into your head, and I'm gettin' old enough to not get a reputation
for bein' seen with people that act the idiot on the public streets.
No, sir; we'll walk around the block--at least, we will if you're
goin' with ~me~!"
And to Fred's delight, though he concealed it, they would make this
The evening after their return to the university both were busy
with their trunks and various orderings and disorderings of their
apartment, but Fred several times expressed surprise that his
roommate should be content to remain at home; and finally Ramsey
comprehended the implications. Mrs. Meigs's chandelier immediately
jingled with the shock of another crash upon the floor above.
"You let me up!" Fred commanded thickly, his voice muffled by the
pile of flannels, sweaters, underwear, and raincoats wherein his
head was being forced to burrow. "You let me up, darn you! ~I~
didn't say anything." And upon his release he complained that the
attack was unprovoked. "I didn't say anything on earth to even
hint you might want to go out and look around to see if anybody
in particular had got back to college yet. I didn't even mention
the ~name~ of Dora Yo-- Keep off o' me! My goodness, but you are
As a matter of fact, neither of them saw Dora until the first meeting
of the Lumen, whither they went as sophomores to take their pleasure
in the agony of freshmen debaters. Ramsey was now able to attend the
Lumen, not with complacence but at least without shuddering over the
recollection of his own spectacular first appearance there. He had
made subsequent appearances, far from brilliant yet not disgraceful,
and as a spectator, at least, he usually felt rather at his ease in
the place. It cannot be asserted, however, that he appeared entirely
at his ease this evening after he had read the "Programme" chalked
upon the large easel blackboard beside the chairman's desk. Three
"Freshmen Debates" were announced, and a "Sophomore Oration," this
last being followed by the name, "D. Yocum, '18." Ramsey made
immediate and conspicuous efforts to avoid sitting next to his
roommate, but was not so adroit as to be successful. However, Fred
was merciful: the fluctuations of his friend's complexion were an
inspiration more to pity than to badinage.
The three debates all concerned the "Causes of the War in Europe,"
and honours appeared to rest with a small and stout, stolidly
"pro-German" girl debater, who had brought with her and translated
at sight absa-loot proofs (so she called them), printed in German,
that Germany had been attacked by Belgium at the low instigation of
the envious English. Everybody knew it wasn't true; but she made an
impression and established herself as a debater, especially as her
opponent was quite confounded by her introduction of printed matter.
When the debates and the verdicts were concluded, the orator
appeared, and Fred's compassion extended itself so far that he even
refrained from looking inquisitively at the boy in the seat next
to his; but he made one side wager, mentally--that if Ramsey had
consented to be thoroughly confidential just then, he would have
confessed to feeling kind o' funny.
Dora was charmingly dressed, and she was pale; but those notable
eyelashes of hers were all the more notable against her pallor. And
as she spoke with fire, it was natural that her colour should come
back quite flamingly and that her eyes should flash in shelter of
the lashes. "The Christian Spirit and Internationalism" was her
subject, yet she showed no meek sample of a Christian Spirit herself
when she came to attakcing war-makers generally, as well as all
those "half-developed tribesmen," and "victims of herd instinct" who
believed that war might ever be justified under any circumstances
f atrocity. She was eloquent truly, and a picture of grace and
girlish dignity, even when she was most vigorous. Nothing could
have been more militant than her denunciation of militancy.
"She's an actual wonder," Fred said, when the two had got back to
Mrs. Meigs's, afterward. "Don't you look at me like that: I'm
talkin' about her as a public character, and there's nothin'
personal about it. You let me alone."
Ramsey was not clear as to his duty. "Well--"
"If any person makes a public speech," Fred protested, "I got a
perfect right to discuss 'em, no matter what you think of 'em"--and
he added hastily--"or ~don't~ think of 'em!"
"Good heavens!" Fred exclaimed. "You aren't expecting to interfere
with me if I say anything about that little fat Werder girl that
argued for Germany, are you? Or any of the other speakers? I got
a right to talk about 'em just as public speakers, haven't I? Well,
what I say is: Dora Yocum as an orator is just an actual perfect
wonder. Got any objections?"
"All right then." Fred settled himself upon the window seat with a
pipe, and proceeded, "There's something about her, when she stands
there, she stands so straight and knows just what she's up to, and
everything, why, there's something about her makes the cold chills
go down your spine--I mean ~my~ spine, not yours particularly! You
sit down--I mean ~anybody's~ spine, doggone it!" And as Ramsey
increased the manifestations of his suspicions, lifting a tennis
racket over the prostrate figure, "Oh, murder," Fred said,
resignedly. "All right, we'll change the subject. That fat little
Werder cutie made out a pretty good case for Germany, didn't she?"
Ramsey tossed the racket away, disposed himself in an easy chair with
his feet upon the table, and presently chuckled. "You remember the
time I had the fuss with Wesley Bender, back in the ole school days?"
"All the flubdub this Werder girl got off to-night puts me in mind
of the way I talked that day. I can remember it as well as anything!
Wesley kept yelpin' that whoever mentioned a lady's name in a public
place was a pup, and of course I didn't want to hit him for that;
a boy's got a reg'lar instinct for tryin' to make out he's on the
right side in a scrap, and he'll always try to do something, or say
something, or he'll get the other boy to say someting to make it look
as if the other boy was in the wrong and began the trouble. So I
told poor ole Wes that my father spoke my mother's name in a public
place whenever he wanted to, and I dared him to say my father was a
pup. And all so on. A boy startin' up a scrap, why, half the time
he'll drag his father and mother if there's any chance to do it.
He'll fix up some way so he can say, 'Well, that's just the same as
if you called my father and mother a fool,' or something like that.
Then, afterward, he can claim he was scrappin' because he had to
defend his father and mother, and of course he'll more than half
believe it himself.
"Well, you take a Government--it's only just some ~men~, the way
I see it, and if they're goin' to start some big trouble like this
war, why, of course they'll play just about the same ole boy trick,
because it's instinct to do it, just the same for a man as it is for
a boy--or else the principle's just the same, or something. Well,
anyhow, if you want to know who started a scrap and worked it up,
you got to forget all the ~talk~ there is about it, and all what
each side ~says~, and just look at two things: Who was fixed for
it first, or thought they were, and who hit first? When you get
the answer to those two questions everything's settled about all
this being 'attacked' business. Both sides, just the same as boys,
they'll both claim they ~had~ to fight; but if you want to know
which one ~did~ have to, why forget all the arguing and don't take
your eye off just what ~happened~. As near as I can make out, this
war began with Germany and Austria startin' in to wipe out two
little countries; Austria began shootin' up Serbia, and Germany
began shootin' up Belgium. I don't need to notice any more than
that, myself--all the Werder girls in the country can debate their
heads off, they can't change what happened and they can't excuse
He was silent, appearing to feel that he had concluded conclusively,
and the young gentleman on the window seat, after staring at him for
several moments of genuine thoughtfulness, was gracious enough to
observe, "Well, ole Ram, you may be a little slow in class, but when
you think things out with yourself you do show signs of something
pretty near like real horse-sense sometimes. Why don't you ever say
anything like that to--to some of your pacifist friends?"
"What do you mean? Who you talkin' about? Whose 'pacifist
"See here!" Fred exclaimed, as Ramsey seemed about to rise. "You
keep sitting just where you are, and don't look at me out of the side
of your eye like that--pretendin' you're a bad horse. I'm ~really~
serious now, and you listen to me. I don't think argufying and
debating like that little Fraulein Werder's does much harm. She's
a right nifty young rolypoly, by the way, though you didn't notice,
"Why didn't I?" Ramsey demanded, sharply. "Why didn't I notice?"
"Oh, nothing. But, as I was saying, I don't think that sort of talk
does much harm: everybody knows it goes on among the pro-Germans,
and it's all hot air, anyhow. But I think Linski's sort of talk
does do harm, prob'ly among people that don't know much; and what's
more, I think Dora Yocum's does some, too. Well, you hit Linski in
the snoot, so what are you-- Sit still! My lord! You don't think
I'm askin' you to go and hit Dora, do you? I mean: Aren't you ever
goin' to talk to her about it and tell her what's what?"
"Oh, you go on to bed!"
"No, I'm in earnest," Fred urged. "Honestly, aren't you ever goin'
"How could I do anything like that?" Ramsey demanded explosively.
"I never see her--to speak to, that is. I prob'ly won't happen to
have another talk with her, or anything, all the time we're in
"No," Fred admitted, "I suppose not. Of course, if you did, then
you would give her quite a talking-to, just the way you did the
other time, wouldn't you?" But upon that, another resumption of
physical violence put an end to the conversation.
Throughout the term Ramsey's calculation of probabilities against
the happening of another interview with Dora seemed to be well
founded, but at the beginning of the second "semester" he found her
to be a fellow member of a class in biology. More than that, this
class had every week a two-hour session in the botanical laboratory,
where the structure of plants was studied under microscopic
dissection. The students worked in pairs, a special family of
plants being assigned to each couple; and the instructor selected
the couples with an eye to combinations of the quick with the slow.
D. Yocum and R. Milholland (the latter in a strange state of mind
and complexion) were given two chairs, but only one desk and one
microscope. Their conversation was strictly botanical.
Thenceforth it became the most pressing care of Ramsey's life to
prevent his roommate from learning that there was any conversation
at all, even botanical. Fortunately, Fred was not taking the
biological courses, though he appeared to be taking the sentimental
ones with an astonishing thoroughness; and sometimes, to Fred's
hilarious delight, Ramsey attempted to turn the tables and rally
him upon whatever last affair seemed to be engaging his fancy.
The old Victorian and pre-Victorian ~blague~ word "petticoat" had
been revived in Fred's vocabulary, and in others, as "skirt." The
lightsome sprig was hourly to be seen, even when university rulings
forbade, dilly-dallying giddily along the campus paths or the town
sidewalks with some new and pretty Skirt. And when Ramsey tried to
fluster him about such a matter Fred would profess his ardent love
for the new lady in shouts and impromptu song. Nothing could be done
to him, and Ramsey, utterly unable to defend his own sensibilities
in like manner, had always to retire in bafflement. Sometimes he
would ponder upon the question thus suggested: Why couldn't he do
this sort of thing, since Fred could? But he never discovered a
Ramsey's watchfulness was so careful (lest he make some impulsive
admission in regard to the botanical laboratory, for instance) that
Mr. Mitchell's curiosity gradually became almost quiescent; but there
arrived a day in February when it was piqued into the liveliest
activity. It was Sunday, and Fred, dressing with a fastidiousness
ever his daily habit, noticed that Ramsey was exhibiting an unusual
perplexity about neckties.
"Keep the black one on," Fred said, volunteering the suggestion, as
Ramsey muttered fiercely at a mirror. "It's in better taste for
church, anyhow. You're going to church, aren't you?"
"Yes. Are you?"
"No. I've got a luncheon engagement."
"Well, you could go to church first, couldn't you? You better;
you've got a lot of church absences against you."
"Then one more won't hurt. No church in mine this morning, thanks!
G'by, ole sox; see you at the 'frat house' for dinner."
He went forth, whistling syncopations, and began a brisk trudge into
the open country. There was a professor's daughter who also was not
going to church that morning; and she lived a little more than three
miles beyond the outskirts of the town. Unfortunately, as the
weather was threatening, all others of her family abandoned the idea
of church that day, and Fred found her before a cozy fire, but
surrounded by parents, little brothers, and big sisters. The
professor was talkative; Fred's mind might have been greatly
improved, but with a window in range he preferred a melancholy
contemplation of the snow, which had begun to fall in quantity. The
professor talked until luncheon, throughout luncheon, and was well
under way to fill the whole afternoon with talk, when Fred, repenting
all the errors of his life, got up to go.
Heartily urged to remain, for there was now something just under a
blizzard developing, he said No; he had a great deal of "cirriculum
work" to get done before the morrow, and passed from the sound of the
professor's hospitable voice and into the storm. He had a tedious
struggle against the wind and thickening snow, but finally came in
sight of the town, not long before dark. Here the road led down into
a depression, and, lifting his head as he began the slight ascent on
the other side, Fred was aware of two figures outlined upon the low
ridge before him. They were dimmed by the driving snow and their
backs were toward him, but he recognized them with perfect assurance.
They were Dora Yocum and Ramsey Milholland.
They were walking so slowly that their advance was almost
imperceptible, but it could be seen that Dora was talking with great
animation; and she was a graceful thing, thus gesticulating, in her
long, slim fur coat with the white snow frosting her brown fur cap.
Ramsey had his hands deep in his overcoat pockets and his manner was
wholly that of an audience.
Fred murmured to himself, "'What did you say to her?' 'Nothin'. I
started to, but'--" Then he put on a burst of speed and passed them,
sweeping off his hat with operatic deference, yet hurrying by as if
fearful of being thought a killjoy if he lingered. He went to the
"frat house," found no one downstairs, and established himself in a
red leather chair to smoke and ruminate merrily by a great fire in
Half an hour later Ramsey entered, stamped off the snow, hung up his
hat and coat, and sat himself down defiantly in the red leather chair
on the other side of the fireplace.
"Well, go on," he said. "Commence!"
"Not at all!" Fred returned, amiably. "Fine spring weather to-day.
Lovely to see all the flowers and the birds as we go a-strolling by.
The little bobolinks--"
"You look here!" That's the only walk I ever took with her in my
life. I mean by--by asking her and her saying she would and so
forth. That other time just sort of happened, and you know it. Well,
the weather wasn't just the best in the world, maybe, but she's an
awful conscientious girl and once she makes an engagement--"
"Why, of course," Fred finished for him, "She'd be too pious to break
it just on account of a mere little blizzard or anything. Wonder how
the weather will be next Sunday?"
"I don't know and I don't care," said Ramsey. "You don't suppose I
asked her to go ~again~, do you?"
"Well, for one thing, you don't suppose I want her to think I'm a
perfect fool, do you?"
Fred mused a moment or two, looking at the fire. "What was the
lecture?" he asked, mildly.
"She seemed to me to be--"
"That wasn't lecturing; she was just--"
"Well; she thinks war for the United States is coming closer and
"But it isn't."
"Well, she thinks so, anyhow," said Ramsey, "and she's all broken up
about it. Of course she thinks we oughtn't to fight and she's trying
to get everybody else she can to keep working against it. She isn't
goin' home again next summer, she's goin' back to that settlement
work in Chicago and work there among those people against our goin'
to war; and here in college she wants to get everybody she can to talk
against it, and--"
"What did you say?" Fred asked, and himself supplied the reply:
"Nothin'. I started to, but--"
Ramsey got up. "Now look here! You know the 'frat' passed a rule
that if we broke any more furniture in this house with our scrappin'
we'd both be fined the cost of repairs and five dollars apiece.
Well, I can afford five dollars this month better than you can,
"I take it back!" Fred interposed, hastily. "But you just listen to
me; you look out--letting her think you're on her side like that."
Ramsey looked dogged. "I'm not goin' around always arguin' about
everything when arguin' would just hurt people's feelings about
something they're all excited about, and wouldn't do a bit o' good
in the world--and you know yourself just ~talk~ hardly ever settles
anything--so I don't--"
"Aha!" Fred cried. "I thought so! Now you listen to me--"
"I won't. I--"
But at this moment they were interrupted. Someone slyly opened the
door, and a snowball deftly thrown from without caught Ramsey upon
the back of the neck and head, where it flattened and displayed
itself as an ornamental star. Shouting fiercely, both boys sprang
up, ran to the door, were caught there in a barrage of snowballs,
ducked through it in sipte of all damage, charged upon a dozen
besweatered figures awaiting them and began a mad battle in the
blizzard. Some of their opponents treacherously joined them, and
turned upon the ambushers.
In the dusk the merry conflict waged up and down the snow-covered
lawn, and the combatants threw and threw, or surged back and forth,
or clenched and toppled over into snow banks, yet all coming to chant
an extemporized battle-cry in chorus, even as they fought the most
"Who? Who? Who?" they chanted. "Who? Who? ~Who~ says there ain't
goin' to be no war?"
So everywhere over the country, that winter of 1916, there were
light-hearted boys skylarking--at college, or on the farms; and in
the towns the young machinists snowballed one another as they came
from the shops; while on this Sunday of the "frat" snow fight probably
several hundreds of thousands of youthful bachelors, between the two
oceans, went walking, like Ramsey, each with a girl who could forget
the weather. Yet boys of nineteen and in the twenties were not
light-hearted all the time that winter and that spring and that
summer. Most of them knew long, thoughtful moments, as Ramsey did,
when they seemed to be thinking not of girls or work or play--nor
of anything around them, but of some more vital matter or prospect.
And at such times they were grave, but not ungentle.
For the long strain was on the country; underneath all its outward
seeming of things going on as usual there shook a deep vibration,
like the air trembling to vast organ pipes in diapasons too profound
to reach the ear as sound: one felt, not heard, thunder in the
ground under one's feet. The succession of diplomatic Notes came to
an end after the torpedoing of the ~Sussex~; and at last the tricky
ruling Germans in Berlin gave their word to murder no more, and
people said, "This means peace for America, and all is well for us,"
but everybody knew in his heart that nothing was well for us, that
there was no peace.
They said "All is well," while that thunder in the ground never
ceased--it grew deeper and heavier till all America shook with it
and it became slowly audible as the voice of the old American soil
wherein lay those who had defended it aforetime, a soil that bred
those who would defend it again, for it was theirs; and the meaning
of it--Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness--was theirs, and
theirs to defend. And they knew they would defend it, and that more
than the glory of a Nation was at stake. The Freedom of Man was at
stake. So, gradually, the sacred thunder reached the ears of the
young men and gave them those deep moments that came to them whether
they sat in the classroom or the counting-room, or walked with the
plow, or stood to the machine, or behind the ribbon counter. Thus
the thunder shook them and tried them and slowly came into their
lives and changed everything for them.
Hate of the Germans was not bred; but a contempt for what Germany
had shown in lieu of a national heart; a contempt as mighty and
profound as the resolve that the German way and the German will
should prevail in America, nor in any country of the world that
would be free. And when the German Kaiser laid his command upon
America, that no American should take his ship upon the free seas,
death being the penalty for any who disobeyed, then the German Kaiser
got his answer, not only to this new law he had made for us, but to
many other thoughts of his. Yet the answer was for some time
There was a bitter Sunday, and its bitterness went everywhere, to
every place in the whole world that held high and generous hearts.
Its bitterness came to the special meeting in the "Frat hall," where
there were hearts, indeed, of that right sort, and one of them became
vocal in its bitterness. This was the heart of Fred Mitchell, who
was now an authority, being president of the Junior Class, chairman
of the Prom Committee, and other things pleasant to be and to live
for at his age.
"For me, Brothers," he said, "I'd think I'd a great deal rather
have been shot through the head than heard the news from Washington
to-day! I tell you, I've spent the meanest afternoon I ever did in
my life, and I guess it's been pretty much the same with all of us.
The worst of it is, it looks as though there isn't a thing in the
world we can do. The country's been betrayed by a few blatherskites
and boneheads that had the power to do it, and all we can do we've
just got to stand it. But there's some Americans that aren't just
standing it, and I want to tell you a lot of 'em are men from the
universities, just like us. They're ~over there~ right now; they
haven't said much--they just packed up and went. They're flying for
France and for England and for Canada; they're fighting under every
flag on the right side of the Western Front; and they're driving
ambulances at Verdun and ammunition trucks at the Somme. Well,
there's going to be a lot more American boys on all these jobs mighty
soon, on account of what those men did in Congress to-day. If they
won't give us a chance to do something under our own flag, then we'll
have to go and do it under some other flag; and I want to tell you
I'm one that's going to ~go!~ I'll stick it out in college up to
Easter, and then if there's still no chance to go under the Stars and
Stripes I'll maybe have to go under the flag my great-great-
randfather fought against in 1776, but, anyhow, I'll ~go!~"
It was in speaking to Ramsey of this declaration that Dora said Fred
was a "dangerous firebrand." They were taking another February walk,
but the February was February, 1917; and the day was dry and sunny.
"It's just about a year ago," she said.
"What is?" Ramsey asked.
"That first time we went walking. Don't you remember?"
"Oh, ~that~ day? Yes, I remember it was snowing."
"And so cold and blowy!" she added. "It seems a long time ago.
I like walking with you, Ramsey. You're so quiet and solid--I've
always felt I could talk to you just anyhow I pleased, and you
wouldn't mind. I'll miss these walks with you when we're out of
He chuckled. "That's funny!"
"Because we've only taken four besides this: two last year, and
another week before last, and another last week. This is only the
"Good gracious! Is that all? It seemed to me we'd gone ever so
often!" She laughed. "I'm afraid you won't think that seems much
as if I'd liked going, but I really have. And, by the way, you've
never called on me at all. Perhaps it's because I've forgotten to
"Oh, no," Ramsey said, and scuffed his shoes on the path, presently
explaining rather huskily that he "never ~was~ much of a caller";
and he added, "or anything."
"Well, you must come if you ever care to," she said, with a big-
sister graciousness. "The Dorm chaperon sits there, of course, but
ours is a jolly one and you'd like her. You've probably met her--
Mrs. Hustings?--when you've called on other girls at our old shop."
"No," said Ramsey. "I never was much of a--" He paused, fearing
that he might be repeating himself, and too hastily amended his
intention. "I never liked any girl enough to go and call on her."
"Ramsey Milholland!" she cried. "Why, when we were in school half
the room used to be talking about how you and that pretty Milla--"
"No, no!" Ramsey protested, again too hurriedly. "I never called on
her. We just went walking."
A moment later his colour suddenly became fiery. "I don't mean--I
mean--" he stammered. "It was walking, of course--I mean we did go
out walking but it wasn't walking like--like this." He concluded
with a fit of coughing which seemed to rack him.
Dora threw back her head and laughed delightfully. "Don't you
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