Read CHAPTER V of At Good Old Siwash , free online book, by George Fitch, on


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Prof?” said I, getting alarmed.

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

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

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

“What did you do?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

“He was spoofing you,” says I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hell, Reverend,” said Petey emphatically, “she’s the biggest school in the world.”

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

“How many students has the college?” he inquired.

“We’ve got a hundred, all studying books and learning things,” said Petey proudly.

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

“Sure thing,” said Petey. “Sophomore roping class uses ’em. Great class to watch.”

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

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

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

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

The college bell tapped three times. “That’s cleaning-up bell,” said Petey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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