The Plastic Age
The college granted a vacation of three days between terms, but Hugh did not go
home, nor did many of the other undergraduates. There was excitement in the
air; the college was beginning to stew and boil again. Fraternity rushing was
scheduled for the second week of the new term.
The administration strictly prohibited the rushing of freshmen the first term; and,
in general, the fraternities respected the rule. True, the fraternity men were
constantly visiting eligible freshmen, chatting with them, discussing everything
with them except fraternities. That subject was barred.
Hugh and Carl received a great many calls from upper-classmen the first term,
and Hugh had been astonished at Carl's reticence and silence. Carl, the flippant,
the voluble, the "wise-cracker," lost his tongue the minute a man wearing a
fraternity pin entered the room. Hugh was forced to entertain the all-important
guest. Carl never explained how much he wanted to make a good fraternity, not
any fraternity, only a good one; nor did he explain that his secret studying the first
term had been inspired by his eagerness to be completely eligible. A good
fraternity would put the seal of aristocracy on him; it would mean everything to
the "old lady."
For the first three nights of the rushing season the fraternities held open house
for all freshmen, but during the last three nights no freshman was supposed to
enter a fraternity house unless Invited.
The first three nights found the freshmen traveling in scared groups from
fraternity house to fraternity house, sticking close together unless rather
vigorously pried apart by their hosts. Everybody was introduced to everybody
else; everybody tried rather hopelessly to make conversation, and nearly
everybody smoked too much, partly because they were nervous and partly
because the "smokes" were free.
It was the last three nights that counted. Both Hugh and Carl received invitations
from most of the fraternities, and they stuck together, religiously visiting them all.
Hugh hoped that they would "make" the same fraternity and that that fraternity
would be Nu Delta. They were together so consistently during the rushing period
that the story went around the campus that Carver and Peters were "going the
same way," and that Carver had said that he wouldn't accept a bid from any
fraternity unless it asked Peters, too.
Hugh heard the story and couldn't understand it. Everybody seemed to take it for
granted that he would be bid. Why didn't they take it equally for granted that Carl
would be bid as well? He thought perhaps it was because he was an athlete and
Carl wasn't; but the truth was, of course, that the upper-classmen perceived the
nouveau riche quality in Carl quite as clearly as he did himself. He knew that his
money and the fact that he had gone to a fashionable prep school would bring
him bids, but would they be from the right fraternities? That was the all-important
Those last three days of rushing were nerve-racking. At night the invited
freshmen—and that meant about two thirds of the class—were at the fraternity