Read CHAPTER II of At Good Old Siwash , free online book, by George Fitch, on ReadCentral.com.

INITIATING OLE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Come on, yu Baked Pies!” he shouted.

“You’re in the wrong house,” squeaked that little fool, Jimmy Skelton.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It won’t work, Petey,” Bangs groaned. Petey kicked his shins as a sign to shut up.

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

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

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

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

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

“Shake, brother!” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s the matter with Ole?” some one shouted.

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