Ramsey Milholland by Booth Tarkington
Ramsey passed the slightly disfigured Linski on the campus next day without betraying any embarrassment or making a sign of recognition. Fred Mitchell told his roommate, chuckling, that Linski had sworn to "get" him, and, not knowing Fred's affiliations, had made him the confidant of his oath. Fred had given his blessing, he said, upon the enterprise, and advised Linski to use a brick. "He'll hit you on the head with it," said the light-hearted Fred, falling back upon this old joke. "Then you can catch it as it bounces off and throw it back at him."
However, Linski proved to be merely an episode, not only so far as Ramsey was concerned but in the Lumen and in the university as well. His suspension from the Lumen was for a year, and so cruel a punishment it proved for this born debater that he noisily declared he would found a debating society himself, and had a poster printed and distributed announcing the first meeting of "The Free Speech and Masses' Rights Council." Several town loafers attended the meeting, but the only person connected with the university who came was an oriental student, a Chinese youth of almost intrusive amiability. Linski made a fiery address, the townsmen loudly appluading his advocacy of an embargo on munitions and the distribution of everybody's "property," but the Chinaman, accustomed to see students so madly in earnest only when they were burlesquing, took the whole affair to be intended humour, and tittered politely without cessation--except at such times as he thought it proper to appear quite wrung with laughter. Then he would rock himself, clasp his mouth with both hands and splutter through his fingers. Linski accused him of being in the pay of "capital."
Next day the orator was unable to show himself upon the campus without causing demonstrations; whenever he was seen a file of quickly gathering students marched behind him chanting repeatedly and deafeningly in chorus: "Down with Wall Street! Hoch der Kaiser! Who loves Linski? Who, who, who? Hoo Lun! Who loves Linski? Who, who, who? Hoo Lun!"
Linski was disgusted, resigned from the university, and disappeared.
"Well, here it isn't mid-year Exams yet, and the good ole class of Nineteen-Eighteen's already lost a member," said Fred Mitchell. "I guess we can bear the break-up!"
"I guess so," Ramsey assented. "That Linski might just as well stayed here, though."
"He couldn't do any harm here. He'll prob'ly get more people to listen to him in cities where there's so many new immigrants and all such that don't know anything, comin' in all the time."
"Oh, well," said Fred. "What do we care what happens to Chicago! Come on, let's behave real wild, and go on over to the 'Teria and get us a couple egg sandwiches and sassprilly."
Ramsey was willing.
After the strain of the "mid-year Exams" in February, they lived a free-hearted life. They had settled into the ways of their world; they had grown used to it, and it had grown used to them; there was no longer any ignominy in being a freshman. They romped upon the campus and sometimes rioted harmlessly about the streets of the town. In the evenings they visited their fellows and Brethren and were visited in turn, and sometimes they looked so far ahead as to talk vaguely of their plans for professions or business--though to a freshman this concerned an almost unthinkably distant prospect. "I guess I'll go in with my father, in the wholesale drug business," said Fred. "My married brother already is in the firm, and I suppose they'll give me a show--send me out on the road a year or two first, maybe, to try me. Then I'm going to marry some little cutie and settle down. What you goin' to do, Ramsey? Go to Law School, and then come back and go in your father's office?"
"I don't know. Guess so."
It was always Fred who did most of the talking; Ramsey was quiet. Fred told the "frat seniors" that Ramsey was "developing a whole lot these days"; and he told Ramsey himself that he could see a "big change" in him, adding that the improvement was probably due to Ramsey's having passed through "terrible trials like that debate."
Ramsey kept to their rooms more than his comrade did, one reason for this domesticity being that he "had to study longer than Fred did, to keep up"; and another reason may have been a greater shyness than Fred possessed--if, indeed, Fred possessed any shyness at all. For Fred was a cheery spirit difficult to abash, and by the coming of spring knew all of the best-looking girl students in the place--knew them well enough, it appeared, to speak of them not merely by their first names but by abbreviations of these. He had become fashion's sprig, a "fusser" and butterfly, and he reproached his roommate for shunning the ladies.
"Well, the truth is, Fred," said Ramsey one day, responding darkly; --"well, you see the truth is, Fred, I've had a--a--I've had an experience--"
So, only, did he refer to Milla.
Fred said no more; and it was comprehended between them that the past need never be definitely referred to again, but that it stood between Ramsey and any entertainment to be obtained of the gentler but less trustworthy sex. And when other Brethren of the "frat" would have pressed Ramsey to join them in various frivolous enterprises concerning "co-eds," or to be shared by "co-eds," Fred thought it better to explain to them privately (all being sacred among Brethren) how Ramsey's life, so far as Girls went, had been toyed with by one now a Married Woman.
This created a great deal of respect for Ramsey. It became understood everywhere that he was a woman-hater.