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The Plastic Age

For the next few days Carl and Hugh did little but wait in line. They lined up to
register; they lined up to pay tuition; they lined up to shake hands with President
Culver; they lined up to talk for two quite useless minutes with the freshman
dean; they lined up to be assigned seats in the commons. Carl suggested that he
and Hugh line up in the study before going to bed so that they would keep in
practice. Then they had to attend lectures given by various members of the
faculty about college customs, college manners, college honor, college
everything. After the sixth of them, Hugh, thoroughly weary and utterly confused,
asked Carl if he now had any idea of what college was.
"Yes," replied Carl; "it's a young ladies' school for very nice boys."
"Well," Hugh said desperately, "if I have to listen to about two more awfully noble
lectures, I'm going to get drunk. I have a hunch that college isn't anything like
what these old birds say it is. I hope not, anyway."
"Course it isn't. Say, why wait for two more of the damn things to kill you off?" He
pulled a flask out of his desk drawer and held it out invitingly.
Hugh laughed. "You told me yourself that that stuff was catgut and that you
wouldn't drink it on a bet. Besides, you know that I don't drink. If I'm going to
make my letter, I've got to keep in trim."
"Right you are. Wish I knew what to do with this poison. If I leave it around here,
the biddy'll get hold of it, and then God help us. I'll tell you what: after it gets dark
to-night we'll take it down and poison the waters of dear old Indian Lake."
"All right. Say, I've got to pike along; I've got a date with my faculty adviser. Hope
I don't have to stand in line."
He didn't have to stand in line—he was permitted to sit—but he did have to wait
an hour and a half. Finally a student came out of the inner office, and a gruff
voice from within called, "Next!"
"Just like a barber shop," flashed across Hugh's mind as he entered the tiny
An old-young man was sitting behind a desk shuffling papers. He glanced up as
Hugh came in and motioned him to a chair beside him. Hugh sat down and
stared at his feet.
"Um, let's see. Your name's—what?"
"Carver, sir. Hugh Carver."
The adviser, Professor Kane, glanced at some notes. "Oh, yes, from Merrytown
High School, fully accredited. Are you taking an A. B. or a B. S.?"
"I—I don't know."
"You have to have one year of college Latin for a B. S. and at least two years of
Greek besides for an A. B."
"Oh!" Hugh was frightened and confused. He knew that his father was an A. B.,
but he had heard the high-school principal say that Greek was useless