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


Do I believe in womans suffrage? Certainly, if you do, Miss Allstairs. As I sit here, where I couldnt help seeing you frown if I didnt please you, I favor anything you favor. If you want the women to vote just hand me the ax and show me the man who would prevent them. If you think the women should play the baseball of our country its all right with me. Ill help pass a law making it illegal for Hans Wagner to hang around a ball park except as water-boy. If you believe that women ought to wear three-story hats in theaters

No, I’m not making fun of you. I hope I may never be allowed to lug a box of Frangipangi’s best up your front steps again if I am. If you want the women to vote, Miss Allstairs, just breathe the word, and I’ll go out and start a suffragette mob as soon as ever I can find a brick. And I would be a powerful advocate, too. You can’t tell me that women wouldn’t be able to handle the ballot. You can’t tell me they would get their party issues mixed up with their party gowns. I’ve seen them vote and I’ve seen them play politics. And let me tell you, when woman gets the vote man will totter right back to the kitchen and prepare the asparagus for supper, just to be out of harm’s way. His good old arguments about the glory of the nation, the rising price of wheat and the grand record of those sterling patriots who have succeeded in getting their names on the government payroll won’t get him to first base when women vote. He’ll have to learn the game all over again, and the first ninety-nine years’ course of study will be that famous subject, “Woman.”

How do I know so much about it? Just as I told you. I’ve been through the mill. I’ve seen women vote. I’ve tried to get them to vote my way. I’ve never herded humming birds or drilled goldfishes in close formation, but I’d take the job cheerfully. It would be just a rest cure after four years’ experience in persuading a large voting body of beautiful and fascinating young women to vote the ticket straight and to let me name the ticket.

Oh, no! I never lived in Colorado, and I never was a polygamist in Utah, thank you. I’m nothing but an alumnus of Siwash College, which, as you know, is co-educational to a heavenly degree. I’m just a young alumnus with about eighty-nine gray hairs scattered around in my thatch. Each one of those gray hairs represents a vote gathered by me from some Siwash co-ed in the cause of liberty and progress and personal friends. Eighty-nine was my total score. Took me four years to get ’em, working seven days in the week and forty weeks in the year. I’m no brass-finished and splash-lubricated politician, but I’ll bet I could go out in any election and cord up that many votes with whiskers on them in three days. “Votes for Women” is a fine sentiment and very appropriate, Miss Allstairs, but “Votes from Women” has always been the motto under which I have fought and been bled I beg your pardon; that just slipped out accidentally. Of course there was nothing of the sort possible. Now there isnt the slightest use of your getting angry and making me feel like an Arctic explorer in a linen suit. If you insist Ill go out on the front porch and sit there a few weeks until you forgive me, but thats the very best I can do for you. I will positively not erase myself from your list of acquaintances. When a man has been hanging around the world in a bored way for thirty-two years, just waiting for Fate to catch up with its assignments and trundle you along within my range in order to give the sun a rest

Oh, well if you forgive me of course I’ll stop anything you say. Though really, now, that wasn’t joshing. It came from the depths. Anyway, as I was saying, “Votes from Women” excuse me, please; I fell off there once and I’m going to go slow “Votes from Women” was the burning question back at Siwash when I infested the campus. The women had the votes already no use agitating that. The big question was getting ’em back when we needed them. You see, the Faculty always insisted on regulating athletics more or less and on organizing things for us didn’t believe we mere college youths could get an organization together according to Hoyle, or whoever drew up the rules of disorder in college societies, without the help of some skyscraper-browed professor. So they saw fit to organize what they called a general athletic association. Every student who paid a dollar was enrolled as a member, with a vote and the privilege of blowing a horn in a lady or gentleman like manner at all college games. And just to assure a large membership, the faculty made a rule that the dollar must be paid by all students with their tuition at the beginning of the year. That, of course, enrolled the whole college, girls and all, in the Athletic Association. And it was the Athletic Association that raised the money to pay for the college teams and hired the coaches and greased old Siwash’s way to glory every fall during the football season.

Now this didn’t bother any for a few years. The men went to the meetings and voted, and the girls stayed at home and made banners for the games. Everything was lovely and comfortable. Then one day, in my Freshman year just before the election, there was a crack in the slate and the Shi Delts saw a chance to elect one of their men president it wasn’t their turn that year, but you never could trust the Shi Delts politically any farther than you could kick a steam roller. They put up their man and there was a little campaign for about three hours that got up to eleven hundred revolutions a minute. We clawed and scratched and dug for votes and were still short when Reilly got an idea and rushed over to Browning Hall. Five minutes before the polls closed he appeared, leading twenty-seven Siwash girls, and the trouble was over. They voted for our man and he was elected by four votes. But, incidentally, we tipped over a can of no, wait a minute. I’ve simply got to be more classical. What’s the use of a college diploma if you have to tell all you know in baseball language? Let’s see you remember that beautiful Greek lady who opened a box under the impression that there was a pound of assorted chocolate creams in it and let loose a whole international museum of trouble? Dora Somebody eh? Oh, yes, Pandora. I always did fall down on that name. Anyway, the box we opened in that election would have made Pandora’s little grief repository look like a box of pink powder. The kind you girls oh, very well. I take it back. Honestly, Miss Allstairs, you’ll get me so afraid of the cars in a minute that I’ll have to ditch this train of thought and talk about art. Ever hear me talk about art? Well, it would serve you right if you did. I talked about art with a kalsominer once, and he wanted to fight me for the honor of his profession.

However, as I was saying, the women voted at Siwash that fall and I guess they must have liked the taste, for the first thing we knew we had the woman vote to take care of all the time. The next fall pretty nearly every girl in the college turned out to class meetings, and the way they voted pretty nearly drove us mad. They seemed to regard it as a game. They fussed about whether to vote on pink paper or blue paper; voted for members of the Faculty for class president; one of them voted for the President of the United States for president of the Sophomore class; wanted to vote twice; came up to the ballot box and demanded their votes back because they had changed their minds; went away before election and left word with a friend to vote for them. Took us an hour, right in football practice time, to get the ticket through in our class; and what with lending pencils and chasing girls who carried their ballots away with them, and getting called down for trying to see that everything went along proper and shipshape and according to program, we boys were half crazy when it was all over.

But the girls liked it enormously. It was a novelty for them, and we saw right there that it was a case of organize the female vote or have things hopelessly muddled up before the end of the year. In the interests of harmony things had to be done in a businesslike manner. Certain candidates had to be put through and certain factions had to be gently but firmly stepped on. Harmony, you know, Miss Allstairs, is a most important thing in politics. Without harmony you can’t do a thing. Harmony in politics consists of giving the insurgents not what they ask for, but something that you don’t want. I was a grand little harmonizer in my day too. I ran the oratorical league the year before it went broke and then traded the presidency to the Chi Yi-Delta Whoop crowd for the editorship of the Student Weekly. That’s harmony. They were happy and so was I. When I saw how hard they had to hustle to pay the association debts the next fall I was so happy I could hardly stand it.

No, Miss Allstairs, that was not meanness on my part. It was politics. There is a great deal of difference between meanness and politics. One is lowdown and contemptible and nasty, and the other is expedient. See? Why, some of the most generous men in the world are politicians. Time and again I’ve seen Andy Hoople, the big politician of our town, pay a man’s fare to Chicago so that he could go up there and rest during the last week of a political campaign and not bother himself and get all worried over the way things were going and the man would be on the other side too.

Anyway, to wait a minute; I’m going to hook over some French now. Look out, low bridge to rendezvous to our muttons hows that? In a good many ways there are worse jobs than that of persuading a pretty girl to vote the right way. Sometimes I liked the job so well that I was sorry when election came. But, on the whole, it was hard, hard work. We tried arguments and exhortation and politics, and you might as well have shot cheese balls at the moon. Never touched em. I talked straight logic to a girl for an hour once, showing her conclusively that it was her duty as a patriotic Siwash student to vote for a man who could give a strong mind and a lot of money to the debating cause; and then she remarked quite placidly that she would always vote for the other man for whatever office he wanted, because he wore his dress suit with such an air. I had to take her clear downtown and buy her ice cream and things before she could understand the gravity of the case at all

No, indeed, Miss Allstairs, I didn’t bribe her. You must be very careful about charging people with bribery. Bribery is a very serious offense. It’s so serious that nowadays it’s a very grave thing to charge a politician with it. I think it will be made a crime soon. I bought ice cream for this girl because she could understand things better while she was eating ice cream. It made her think better. Of course, you can’t do that with a man in real politics. You have to give him an office or a contract or something in order to get his mind into a cheerful condition. You can argue so much better with a man when he is cheerful. No, indeed. I wouldn’t bribe a fly. Nobody would. There isn’t any bribing any more anyway. Illinois has taught the world that.

But that was the least of our troubles. After you had persuaded a girl to vote right you had to keep her persuaded. Now most any man might be able to keep one vote in line, but that wasn’t enough. Some of us had to keep four or five votes all ready for use, for competition was pretty swift and there were a tremendous number of co-eds in school. You never saw such a job as it was. No sooner would I have Miss A. entirely friendly to my candidate for the editorship of the Weekly than Miss B. would flop over and show marked signs of frost and then I would have to drop everything and walk over from chapel with her three mornings hand-running, and take her to a play, and make a wild pass about not knowing whether any one would go to the prom with me or not. And then just as she would begin to smile when she saw me Miss A. would pass me on the street and look at me as if I had robbed a hen-roost. And just as I was entirely friendly with both of them it would occur to me that I hadn’t called on Miss C. for three weeks and that Bannister, of the Alfalfa Delts, was waiting for Miss D. after chapel every morning and would doubtless make a lowdown, underhanded attempt to talk politics to her in the spring. For a month before each election I felt like a giddy young squirrel running races with myself around a wheel. Some college boys can keep on terms of desperate and exclusive friendliness with a dozen girls at a time Petey Simmons got up to eighteen one spring when we won the big athletic election but four or five were as many as I could manage by any means, and it kept me busted, conditioned and all out of training to accomplish this. And when election-time approached and it came to talking real politics, and the girl you had counted on all winter to swing her wing of the third floor in Browning Hall for your candidate would suddenly remember in the midst of a businesslike talk on candidates and things that you had cut two dances with her at the prom, and you couldn’t explain that you simply had to do it because you had to keep your stand-in with a girl on the first floor who had the music-club vote in her pocket-book well, I may get out over Niagara Falls some day on a rotten old tight-rope, with a sprained ankle and a fellow on my shoulders who is drunk and wants to make a speech, standing up but if I do I won’t feel any more wobbly and uncertain about the future than I used to feel on those occasions.

Of course it was entirely impossible for the few dozen college politicians to make personal friends and supporters of all the girls in Siwash. We didn’t want to. There are girls and girls at Siwash, just as there are everywhere else. Maybe a third of the Siwash girls were pretty and fascinating and wise and loyal, and nine or ten other exceedingly pleasant adjectives. And perhaps another third were well, nice enough to dance with at a class party and not remember it with terror. And then there was another third which oh, well, you know how it goes everywhere. They were grand young women, and they were there for educational purposes. They took prizes and learned a lot, and this was partly because there were no swarms of bumptious young collegians hanging around them and wasting their time. Far be it from me, Miss Allstairs, to speak disparagingly of a single member of your sex you are all too good for us but, if you will force me to admit it, there were girls at Siwash ex-girls who would have made a true and loyal student of art and beauty climb a high board certainly, I said I wasn’t going to say anything against them, and I’m not. Anyway, it’s no great compliment to be admired for your youth and beauty alone. Age has its claims to respect too oh, very well; I’ll change the subject.

As I was saying, we couldn’t influence all the co-ed vote personally, but we handled it very systematically. Every popular girl in the school had her following, of course, at Browning Hall. So we just fought it out among the popular girls. Before elections they’d line up on their respective sides, and then they’d line up the rest of the co-ed vote. On a close election we’d get out every vote, and we’d have it accounted for, too, beforehand. The real precinct leaders had nothing on us. It took a lot of time and worry; but it was all very pleasant at the end. The popular girls would each lead over her collection of slaves of Horace and Trig, and Counterpoint and Rhetoric, and we’d cheer politely while they voted ’em. Then we’d take off our hats and bow low to said slaves, and they would go back to their galleys after having done their duty as free-born college girls, and that would be over for another year. Everything would have continued lovely and comfortable and darned expensive if it hadn’t been for Mary Jane Hicks, of Carruthers’ Corners, Missouri.

No, I’ve never told you of Mary Jane Hicks. Why? The real reason is because when we fellows of that period mention her name we usually cuss a little in a hopeless and irritable sort of way. It’s painful to think of her. It’s humiliating to think that twenty-five of the case-hardened and time-seasoned politicians of Siwash should have been double-crossed, checkmated, outwitted, out-generaled, sewed up into sacks and dumped into Salt Creek by a red-headed, freckled-nosed exile from a Missouri clay farm; and a Sophomore at that say, what am I telling you this for, Miss Allstairs? Honestly, it hurts. It’s nice for a woman to hear, I know, but I may have to take gas to get through this story.

This Mary Jane Hicks came to Siwash the year before it all happened and was elected to the unnoticeables on the spot. She was a dumpy little girl, with about as much style as a cornplanter; and I suspect that she bade her pet calf a fond good-by when she left the dear old farm to come and play tag with knowledge on the Siwash campus. Nobody saw her in particular the first year, except that you couldn’t help noticing her hair any more than you can help noticing a barn that’s burning on a damp, dark night. It was explosively red and she didn’t seem to care. She always had her nose turned up a little just on principle, I guess. And when you see a red-headed girl with a freckled nose that turns up just locate the cyclone cellars in your immediate vicinity, say I.

Well, Mary Jane Hicks went through her Freshman year without causing any more excitement than you could make by throwing a clamshell into the Atlantic Ocean. She drew a couple of classy men for the class parties and they reported that she towed unusually hard when dancing. She voted in the various elections under the protecting care of Miss Willoughby, who was a particular friend of mine just before the Athletic election, and that’s how I happened to meet her. I was considerably grand at that time being a Junior who had had a rib smashed playing football and was going to edit the college paper the next year but the way she looked at me you would have thought that I was the fractional part of a peeled cipher. She just nodded at me and said “Howdedo,” and then asked if the vest-pocket vote was being successfully extracted that day. That was nervy of her and I frowned; after which she remarked that she objected to voting without being told in advance that the cause of liberty was trembling in the voter’s palm. I remember wondering at the time where she had dug up all that rot.

Miss Hicks voted at all the elections along with the rest of the herd, and as far as I know no rude collegian came around and broke into her studies by taking her anywhere. Commencement came and we all went home, and I forgot all about her. The next fall was a critical time with the Eta Bita Pie-Fly Gam-Sigh Whoopsilon combination, because we had graduated a large number of men and we had to pull down the fall elections with a small voting strength. So I went down to college a day early to confer with some of the other patriotic leaders regarding slates and other matters concerning the good of the college.

I hadn’t more than stepped off the train until I met Frankling, the president of the Alfalfa Delts, and Randolph, of the Delta Kappa Sonofaguns, and Chickering, of the Mu Kow Moos, in close consultation. It was very evident that they were going to do a little high-class voting too. And before night I discovered that the Shi Delts and the Delta Flushes and the Omega Salves had formed a coalition with the independents, and that there was going to be more politics to the square inch in old Siwash that year than there had been since the year of the big wind that’s what we called the year when Maxwell was boss of the college and swept every election with his eloquence.

There were any number of important elections coming off that fall. There were all the class elections, of course, and the Oratorical election, and a couple of vacancies to fill in the Athletic Association, and a college marshal to elect, and goodness knows what all else to nail down and tuck away before we could get down to the serious job of fighting conditions that fall. I was so busy for the first three days, wiring up the new students and putting through a trade on the Athletic secretaryship with the Delta Kap gang, that I couldn’t pay any attention to the class elections. But they were pretty safe anyway. It was only about a day’s job to put through a class slate. The Junior election came first, and we had arranged to give it to Miss Willoughby. We always elected women presidents of the Junior class at Siwash. Little Willoughby had a cinch because, of course, our crowd backed her hard and we were strong in Juniors and, besides she had a good following among the girls. So we just turned the whole thing over to the girls to manage and thought no more about it, being mighty hard pressed by the miserable and un-American bipartisan combination on the Athletic offices.

School opened on Tuesday. The Junior class election came off on Thursday afternoon and a Miss Hamthrick was elected president. I would have bet on the college bell against her. It was the shockingest thing that had happened in politics for five years. Miss Hamthrick was a conservatory student. Even when you shut your eyes and listened to her singing she didn’t sound good-looking. Davis drew her for the Sophomore class party the year before and exposed himself to the mumps to get out of going. Not only was she elected president, but the rest of the offices went to no, I’ll not describe them. I’m sort of prejudiced anyway. They made Miss Hamthrick seem beautiful and clever by comparison.

It was a blow between the eyes. The worst of it was we couldn’t understand it. I went over to see Miss Willoughby about it, and she came down all powdery and beautiful about the eyes and nose and talked to me as haughtily as if I had done it myself. She said she had trusted us, but it was evident that all a woman could hope for in politics was the privilege of being fooled by a man. She even accused me of helping elect the Hamthrick lady, said she wished me joy, and asked if it had been a pretty romance. That made me tired, and I said oh, well, no use remembering what I said. It was the last thing I ever had a chance to say to Miss Willoughby anyway. I was pretty miserable over it politically, of course, I mean, Miss Allstairs. You understand. Now theres no use saying that. It wasnt so. College girls are all very well, and one must be entertained while getting gorged with knowledge; but really, when it comes to more serious things, I never

All right, I’ll go on with my story. The next day we got a harder blow than ever. The Freshman class election came off on a snap call, and about half the class, mostly girls, elected a lean young lady with spectacles and a wasp-like conversation to the presidency. We raised a storm of indignation, but they blandly told us to go hence. There was nothing in the Constitution of the United States to prevent a woman from being president of the Freshman class, and there didn’t seem to be any other laws on the subject. Besides, the Freshman class was a brand-new republic and didn’t need the advice of such an effete monarchy as the Senior class. While we were talking it all over the next day the Sophomores met, and after a terrific struggle between the Eta Bita Pies, the Alfalfa Delts and the Shi Delts, Miss Hicks was elected president by what Shorty Gamble was pleased to term “the gargoyle vote.” I wouldn’t say that myself of any girl, but Shorty had been working for the place for a year, and when the twenty girls who had never known what it was to have a sassy cab rumble up to Browning Hall and wait for them cast their votes solidly and elected the Missouri Prairie Fire he felt justified in making comments.

By this time it was a case of save the pieces. The whole thing had been as mysterious as the plague. We were getting mortal blows, we couldn’t tell from whom. All political signs were failing. The game was going backward. A lot of the leaders got together and held a meeting, and some of them were for declaring a constitutional monarchy and then losing the constitution. My! But they were bitter. Everybody accused everybody else of double-crossing, underhandedness, gum-shoeing, back-biting, trading, pilfering and horse-stealing. I think there was a window or two broken during the discussion. But we didn’t get anywhere. The next day the Senior class elected officers, and every frat went out with a knife for its neighbor. A quiet lady by the name of Simpkins, who was one of the finest old wartime relics in school, was elected president.

That night I began putting two and two and fractional numbers together and called in calculus and second sight on the problem. I remembered what the Hicks girl had said to me the year before. That was more than the ordinary girl ought to know about politics. I remembered seeing her doing more or less close-harmony work with the other midnight-oil consumers and the upshot was I went over to Browning Hall that night and called on her.

She came down in due time kept me waiting as long as if she had been the belle of the prom and she shook hands all over me.

“My dear boy,” she said, sitting down on the sofa with me, “I’m so delighted to renew our old friendship.”

Now, I don’t like to be “my dear boyed” by a Sophomore, and there never had been any old friendship. I started to stiffen up and then didn’t. I didn’t because I didn’t know what she would do if I did.

“How are all the other good old chaps?” she said as cordially as could be. “My, but those were grand days.”

I didn’t see any terminus in that conversation. Besides, she looked like one of those most uncomfortable girls who can guy you in such an innocent and friendly manner that you don’t know what to say back. So I brushed the preliminaries aside and jumped right into the middle of things. “Miss Hicks,” says I, “why are you doing all this?”

“Singular or plural you?” she asked. “And why am I or are we doing what, and why shouldn’t we?”

“Help,” said I, feeling that way. “Do you deny that you haven’t been instrumental in upsetting the whole college with those fool elections?”

“I am a modest young lady,” said she, “so, of course, I deny it. Besides, this college isn’t upset at all. I went over this morning and every professor was right side up with care where he belonged. And, moreover, you must not call an election a fool because it doesn’t do what you want it to. It can’t help itself.”

“Miss Hicks,” says I, feeling like a fly in an acre of web, “I am a plain and simple man and not handy with my tongue. What I mean is this, and I hope you’ll excuse me for living do you admit that you had a hand in those class elections?”

Miss Hicks looked at me in the friendliest way possible. “It is more modest to admit it than to declare it, isn’t it?” she asked.

“Certainly,” says I; “and this leads right back to question Number One Why did you do it?”

“And this leads back to answer Number One Why shouldn’t I?” she asked again.

“Why, don’t you see, Miss Hicks,” says I, “that you’ve elected a lot of girls that never have been active in college work, and that don’t represent the student body, and

“Don’t go to the proms?” she suggested.

“I didn’t say it and I’d die before I did,” said I virtuously. “But what’s your object?”

“Education,” said Miss Hicks mildly. “I’m paying full tuition and I want to get all there is out of college. I think politics is a fascinating study. I didn’t get a chance to do much at it last year, but I’m learning something about it every day now.”

“But what’s the good of it all?” I protested. “You’ll just get the college affairs hopelessly mixed up

“Like the Oratorical Association was last year?” she inquired gently.

“Oh, pshaw!” said I, getting entirely red. “Let’s not get personal. What can we do to satisfy you?”

“You’ve been satisfying us beautifully so far,” said Miss Hicks.

“Who’s us?” I asked.

“I don’t in the least mind telling you,” said Miss Hicks. “It’s the Blanks.”

“The Blanks!” I repeated fretfully. “Never heard of ’em.”

“I know it,” said Miss Hicks, “but you named them yourselves. What do you say you’ve drawn when you draw a homely girl’s name out of the hat as a partner for a class party?”

“Oh!” said I.

“We’re the Blanks,” said Miss Hicks, “and we feel that we haven’t been getting our full share of college atmosphere. So we’re going into politics. In this way we can mingle with the students and help run things and have a very enjoyable time. It’s most fascinating. All of us are dippy over it.”

“Oh,” said I again. “You mean you’re going to ruin things for your own selfish interests?”

“My dear boy,” said Miss Hicks my, but that grated “we’re not going to ruin anything. And we may build up the Oratorical Association.”

That was too much. I got up and stood as nearly ten feet as I could. “Very well,” said I. “If there’s no use of arguing on a reasonable basis we may as well terminate this interview. But I’ll just tell you there’s no use of your going any further. Now we know what we have to fight, we’ll take precious good care that you do not do any more mischief.”

“Oh, very well,” said Miss Hicks she was infuriatingly good-natured “but I might as well tell you that we’re going to get the Athletic offices, the prom committee, the Oratorical offices and the Athletic election next spring.”

“Ha, ha!” said I loudly and rudely. Then I took my hat and went away. Miss Hicks asked me very eagerly to drop in again. Me? I’d as soon have dropped on a Mexican cactus. It couldn’t be any more uncomfortable.

I went away and called our gang together and we seethed over the situation most all night. They voted me campaign leader on the strength of my service, and the next day we got the rest of the frats together, buried the hatchet and doped out the campaign. It was the pride and strength of Siwash against a red-headed Missouri girl, weight about ninety-five pounds; and we couldn’t help feeling sorry for her. But she had brought it on herself. Insurgency, Miss Allstairs, is a very wicked thing. It’s a despicable attempt on the part of the minority to become the majority, and no true patriot will desert the majority in his time of need.

I’m not going to linger over the next month. I’ll get it over in a few words. We started out to exterminate Miss Hicks. We put up our candidate for the Oratorical Association presidency. The hall was jammed when the time came, and before anything could be done Miss Hicks demanded that no one be allowed to vote who hadn’t paid his or her dues. Half the fellows we had there never had any intention of getting that far into Oratorical work, and backed out; but the rest of us paid up. There had never been so much money in the treasury since the association began. Then the Blanks nominated a candidate and skinned us by three votes. When we thought of all that money gone to waste we almost went crazy.

But that was just a starter. We were determined to have our own way about the Junior prom. What do wall-flowers know about running a prom? We worked up an absolute majority in the Junior class, only to have a snap meeting called on us over in Browning Hall, in which three middle-aged young ladies who had never danced a step were named. The roar we raised was terrific, but the president sweetly informed us that they had only followed precedent we’d had to do the same thing the year before to keep out the Mu Kow Moos. We appealed to the Faculty, and it laughed at us. Unfortunately, we didn’t stand any too well there anyway, while most of the Blanks were the pride and joy of the professors. Anyway, they told us to fight our own battles and they’d see that there was fair play. Oh, yes. They saw it. They passed a rule that no student who was conditioned in any study could vote in any college election. That disenfranchised about half of us right on the spot. If ever anarchy breaks out in this country, Miss Allstairs, it will be because of college Faculties.

We made a last stand on the Athletic Association treasurership. It looked for a while as if it was going to be easy. We threw all the rules away and gave a magnificent party for all the girls we thought we could count on. It was the most gorgeous affair on record, and half the dress suits in college went into hock afterward for the whole semester. The result was most encouraging. The girls were delighted. They pledged their votes and support and we counted up that we had a clear majority. We went to bed that night happy and woke up to find that Miss Hicks had entertained the non-fraternity men in the gymnasium that night and had served lemonade and wafers. She had alluded to them playfully as slaves, and they had broken up about fifty chairs demonstrating that they were not. When the election came off she had the unattached vote solid, and we lost out by a comfortable majority. An estimable lady, who didn’t know athletics from croquet, was elected. And when the reception committee of the prom was announced the next day it was composed exclusively of men who would have had to be led through the grand march on wheels.

After that we gave up. I tried to resign as campaign manager, but the boys wouldn’t let me. They admitted that no one else could have done any better, and, besides, they wanted me to go over and see Miss Hicks again. They wanted me to ask her what her crowd wanted. When I thought of her pleasant conversational hatpin work I felt like resigning from college; but there always have to be martyrs, and in the end I went.

Miss Hicks received me rapturously. You would have thought we had been boy and girl friends. She insisted on asking how all the folks were at home, and how my health had been, and hadn’t it been a gay winter, and was I going to the prom, and how did I like her new gown? While I was at it I thought I might as well amuse myself, too, so I asked her to marry me. That was the only time I ever got ahead of her. She refused indignantly, and I laughed at her for getting so fussed up over a little thing.

“Marriage is a sacred subject,” she said very soberly.

“So was politics,” said I, “until you came along. If you won’t talk marriage let’s talk politics. What do you girls want?”

“Oh, I told you a while ago,” she said.

“But, Great Scott!” said I. “Aren’t you going to leave a thing for us fellows who have done our best for the college?”

“Now you put it that way,” she said quite kindly, “I’ll think it over. We might find something for you to do. There’s a couple of janitorships loose.”

“Hicksey,” says I.

“Miss Hicks,” says she.

“I beg your pardon my dear girl, then,” said I. “I’ve come over to the bunch to confess. You’ve busted us. We’re on the mat nine points down and yelling for help. We don’t want to run things. We only want to be allowed to live. We surrender. We give up. We humbly ask that you prepare the crow and let us eat the neck. Isn’t there any way by which we can get a little something to keep us busy and happy? We’re in a horrible situation. Aren’t you even going to let us have the Athletic Association next spring?”

“I was thinking of running that myself,” said Miss Hicks thoughtfully.

I let out an impolite groan.

“But I’ll tell you what you might do,” said Miss Hicks. “You boys might try to win my crowd away from me. You see, you’ve played right into my hand so far. You haven’t paid any attention to my supporters. Now, if you were to go after them the way you do the other girls in the college I shudder to think what might happen to me.”

“You mean take them to parties and theaters?”

“Why not?” asked Miss Hicks. “You see, they’re only human. I’ll bet you could land every vote in the bunch if you went at it scientifically.”


“Oh, I know they’re not pretty,” said Miss Hicks. “But they cast the most bee-you-ti-ful votes you ever saw.”

“What you mean,” I said, “is that if we don’t show those girls a superlatively good time this winter we won’t get a look at the election next spring?”

“They’d be awfully shocked if you put it that way,” said Miss Hicks; “and I wouldn’t advise you to talk to them about it. Their notions of honor are so high that I had to pay for the lemonade for the independent men myself at the last election.”

“Oh, very well,” says I, taking my hat, “we’ll think it over.”

“You might wear blinders, you know,” she suggested.

“Oh, go to thunder!” said I as earnestly as I could.

“Come again,” she said when she closed the door after me. “I do so enjoy these little confidences.”

Honestly, Miss Allstairs, when I think of that girl I shrink up until I’m afraid I’ll fall into my own hat. It ought not to be legal for a girl to talk to a man like that. It’s inhuman.

We thought matters over for two weeks and tried one or two little raids on the enemy with most horrible results to ourselves. Then we gave in. We put our pride and our devotion to art in cold storage and took up the politicians’ burden. We gave those girls the time of their young-to-middle-aged lives. We got up dances and crokinole parties and concerts for them. We took them to see Hamlet. We had sleighing parties. We helped every lecture course in the college do a rushing business. We just backed into the shafts and took the bit without a murmur. And maybe you think those girls didn’t drive us. They seemed determined to make up for the drought of all the past. They were as coy and uncertain and as infernally hard to please as if they’d been used to getting one proposal a day and two on Sunday. Let one of us so much as drop over to Browning Hall to pass the time of day with one of the real heart-disturbers, and the particular vote that he was courting would go off the reservation for a week. It would take a pair of theater tickets at the least to square things.

We gave dances that winter at which only one in five girls could dance. We took moonlight strolls with ladies who could remember the moon of seventy-six, and we gave strawrides to girls who insisted on talking history of art and missionary work to us all the way. When I think of the tons of candy and the mountains of flowers and the wagonloads of latest books that we lavished, and of the hard feelings it made in other quarters, and of our loneliness amid all this gayety, and of our frantic efforts to make the prom a success, with ten couples dancing and the rest decorating the walls, I sometimes wonder whether the college was worth our great love for it after all.

But we were winning out. By April it was easy to see this. The Blanks thawed with the snow-drifts. They got real friendly and sociable, and after the warm weather came on we simply had to entertain them all the time, they liked it so. When I think of those beautiful spring days, with us sauntering with our political fates about the campus, and the nicest girls in the world walking two and two all by themselves Oh, gee! Why, they even made us cut chapel to go walking with them, just as if it was a genuine case of “Oh, those eyes!” and “Shut up, you thumping heart.”

All this time Miss Hicks wouldn’t accept any invitation at all. She just flocked by herself as usual, and watched us taking her votes away from her without any concern apparently. I always felt that she had something saved up for us, but I couldn’t tell what it was; and anyway, we had those votes. By the time the Athletic election came around there wasn’t a doubt of it.

I must say the women did pretty well during the year. They’d cleaned up the Oratorical debt, and somehow there was about three times as much money in the Athletic treasury after the football season as there had ever been before. But they’d raised a lot of trouble too. No passes. Dues had to be paid up. Nobody got any fun out of the class affairs. They got up lectures and teas and made the class pay for them. And, anyway, we wanted to run things again. We’d felt all year like a bunch of last year’s sunflowers. Besides, we’d earned it. We’d earned a starry crown as a matter of fact, but all we asked was that they give our little old Athletic Association back and let us run it once more.

Miss Hicks announced herself as a candidate, and we felt sorry for her. Not one of her gang was with her. They were enthusiastically for us. We’d planned the biggest party of the year right after the election in celebration, and had invited them already. Election day came and we hardly worried a bit. The result was 189 to 197 in favor of Miss Hicks. Every independent man and every bang-up-to-date girl in college voted for her.

Of course it looks simple enough now, but why couldn’t we see it then? We supposed the real girls knew that it was a case of college patriotism. And, of course, it was a low-lived trick for Miss Hicks to float around the last day and spread the impression that we’d never loved them except for their votes. She simply traded constituencies with us, that’s all. Take it coming or going, year in or year out, you couldn’t beat that girl. I’ll bet she goes out to Washington state and gets elected governor some day.

I went over to Browning Hall the night after the election, ready to tell Miss Hicks just what everybody thought of her. I was prepared to tell her that every athletic team in college was going to disband and that anarchy would be declared in the morning. She came down as pleasant as ever and held out her hand.

“Don’t say it, please,” she said, “because I’m going to tell you something. I’m not coming back next year.”

“Not coming back!” said I, gulping down a piece of relief as big as an apple.

“No,” she said, “I’m I’m going to be married this summer. I’ve I’ve been engaged all this year to a man back home, but I wanted to come back and learn something about politics. He’s a lawyer.”

“Well, you learned enough to suit you, didn’t you?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” she said with a giggle. “Wasn’t it fun, though! My father will be so pleased. He’s the chairman of the congressional committee out at home and he’s always told me an awful lot about politics. I’ve enjoyed this year so much.”

“Well, I haven’t,” I said; “but I hope to enjoy next year.” And then I took half an hour to tell her that, in spite of the fact that she was the most arrant, deceitful, unreliable, two-faced and scuttling politician in the world, she was almost incredibly nice. She listened quite patiently, and at the end she held up her fingers. They’d been crossed all the time.

No, that’s the last I ever saw of her, Miss Allstairs. She left before Commencement. She sent me an invitation to the wedding. I’ll bet she didn’t quite get the significance of the magnificent silver set we Siwash boys sent. We sent it to the groom.

That was the end of women dominion at Siwash. There wasn’t a rag of the movement left next fall. But we boys never entirely forgot what happened to us, and it’s still the custom to elect a co-ed to some Athletic office. They do say that the only way to teach a politician what the people want is to bore a shaft in his head and shout it in, but our experience ought to be proof to the contrary. Why, all we needed was the gentle little hint that Mary Jane Hicks gave us.