Chapter XII
 

The way I look at it, Ramsey," Fred Mitchell said, when they reached their apartment, whither the benevolent Colburn accompanied them, "the way I look at it, this Linski kind of paid you a compliment, after all, when he called you a fake. He must have thought you anyway looked as if you could make a better speech than you did. Oh, golly!"

And as Ramsey groaned, the jovial Mitchell gave himself up to the divan and the mirth. "Oh, oh, oh, golly!" he sputtered.

"Never you mind, Brother Milholland," Colburn said gently. "The Lumen is used to nervous beginners. I've seen dozens in my time, just like you; and some of 'em got to be first rate before they quit. Besides, this crazy Linski is all that anybody'll ever remember about to-night's meeting, anyhow. There never was any such outbreak as that in my time, and I guess there nver was in the whole history of the society. We'll probably suspend him until he apologizes to the society--I'm on the board, and I'm in favour of it. Who is the bird, anyhow? He's in your class."

"I never saw him before," Ramsey responded from the deep chair, where he had moodily thrown himself; and, returning to his brooding upon his oratory. "Oh, murder!" he moaned.

"Well," said the senior, "you'll know him when you see him again. You put your mark on him where you can see it, all right!" He chuckled. "I suppose I really ought to have interfered in that, but I decided to do a little astronomical observation, about fifty feet away, for a few minutes. I'm 'way behind in my astronomy, anyhow. Do you know this Linski, Brother Mitchell?"

"I've talked to him a couple o' times on the campus," said Fred. "He's in one of my classes. He's about the oldest in our class, I guess--a lot older than us, anyhow. He's kind of an anarchist or something; can't talk more'n five minutes any time without gettin off some bug stuff about 'capitalism.' He said the course in political economy was all 'capitalism' and the prof was bought by Wall Street."

"Poor old Prof. Craig!" Colburn laughed. "He gets fifteen hundred a year."

"Yes; I'd heard that myself, and I told Linski, and he said he had an uncle workin' in a steel mill got twice that much; but it didn't make any difference, ole Craig was bought by Wall Street. He said 'capitalism' better look out; he and the foreign-born workmen were goin' to take this country some day, and that was one of the reasons he was after an education. He talked pretty strong pro- German, too--about the war in Europe--but I sort of thought that was more because he'd be pro-anything that he thought would help upset the United States than because he cared much about Germany."

"Yes," said Colburn, "that's how he sounded to-night. I guess there's plenty more like him in the cities, too. That reminds me, I'd better arrange a debate on immigration for the Lumen. We'll put Brother Milholland for the negative, this time."

Ramsey started violently. "See here--"

But the senior reassured him. "Just wanted to see you jump," he explained. "Don't fear; you've done your share."

"I should think I have!" Ramsey groaned.

"Yes, you won't be called on again this term. By the way," said Colburn, thoughtfully, "that was a clever girl you had against you to-night. I don't believe in pacificism much, myself, but she used it very niftily for her argument. Isn't she from your town, this Miss Yocum?"

Fred nodded.

"Well, she's a clever young thing," said the senior, still thoughtful. And he added: "Graceful girl, she is."

At this, the roommates looked at him with startled attention. Ramsey was so roused as to forget his troubles and sit forward in his chair.

"Yes," said the musing Colburn, "she's a mighty pretty girl."

"What!"

This exclamation was a simultaneous one; the astounded pair stared at him in blank incredulity.

"Why, don't you think so?" Colburn mildly inquired. "She seems to me very unusual looking."

"Well, yes," Fred assented, emphatically. "We're with you there!"

"Extraordinary eyes," continued Colburn. "Lovely figure, too; altogether a strikingly pretty girl. Handsome, I should say, perhaps. Yes, 'handsome' rather than 'pretty'." He looked up from a brief reverie. "You fellows known her long?"

"You bet!" said Ramsey.

"She made a splendid impression on the Lumen," Colburn went on. "I don't remember that I ever saw a first appearance there that quite equalled it. She'll probably have a brilliant career in the society, and in the university, too. She must be a very fine sort of person." He deliberated within himself a few moments longer, then, realizing that his hosts and Brethren did not respond with any heartiness--or with anything at all--to the theme, he changed it, and asked them what they thought about the war in Europe.

They talked of the war rather drowsily for a while; it was an interesting but not an exciting topic: the thing they spoke of was so far away. It was in foreign countries where they had never been and had no acquaintances; and both the cause and the issue seemed to be in confusion, though evidently Germany had "started" the trouble. Only one thing emerged as absolutely clear and proved: there could be no disagreement about Germany's "dirty work," as Fred defined it, in violating Belgium. And this stirred Ramsey to declare with justice that "dirty work" had likewise been done upon himself by the official person, whoever he or she was, who had given him the German side of the evening's debate. After this moment of fervour, the conversation languished, and Brother Colburn rose to go.

"Well, I'm glad you gave that Linski a fine little punch, Brother Milholland," he said, at the door. "It won't do you any harm in the 'frat,' or with the Lumen either. And don't be discouraged about your debating. You'll learn. Anybody might have got rattled by having to argue against as clever and good-looking a girl as that!"

The roommates gave each other a look of serious puzzlement as the door closed. "Well, Brother Colburn is a mighty nice fellow," Fred said. "He's kind of funny, though."

Ramsey assented, and then, as the two prepared for bed, they entered into a further discussion of their senior friend. They liked him "all right," they said, but he certainly must be kind of queer, and they couldn't just see how he had "ever managed to get where he was" in the "frat" and the Lumen and the university.