The Plastic Age
Hugh found real happiness in Norry Parker's companionship, and such men as
Burbank and Winsor were giving him a more robust but no less pleasant
friendship. They were earnest youths, eager and alive, curious about the world,
reading, discussing all sorts of topics vigorously, and yet far more of the earth
earthy than Parker, who was so mystical and dreamy that constant association
with him would have been something of a strain.
For a time life seemed to settle down into a pleasant groove of studies that took
not too much time, movies, concerts, an occasional play by the Dramatic Society,
perhaps a slumming party to a dance in Hastings Saturday nights, bull sessions,
long talks with Henley in his office or at his home, running on the track, and some
For a week or two life was lifted out of the groove by a professor's daughter.
Burbank introduced Hugh to her, and at first he was attracted by her calm dignity.
He called three times and then gave her up in despair. Her dignity hid an utterly
blank mind. She was as uninteresting as her father, and he had the reputation,
well deserved, of being the dullest lecturer on the campus.
Only one event disturbed the pleasant calm of Hugh's life after his argument with
Tucker. He did not attend Prom because he knew no girl whom he cared to ask;
he failed again to make his letter and took his failure philosophically; and he
received a note from Janet Harton telling him that she was engaged to "the most
wonderful man in the world"—and he didn't give a hoot if she was.
Just after Easter vacation the Nu Deltas gave their annual house dance. Hugh
looked forward to it with considerable pleasure. True, he was not "dragging a
woman," but several of the brothers were going "stag"; so he felt completely at
The freshmen were put to work cleaning the house, the curtains were sent to the
laundry, bedroom closets and dresser drawers were emptied of anything the girls
might find too interesting, and an enormously expensive orchestra was imported
from New York. Finally a number of young alumni, the four patronesses, and the
Getting dressed for the dance was a real event in Hugh's life. He had worn
evening clothes only a few times before, but those occasions, fraternity banquets
and glee club concerts, were, he felt, relatively unimportant. The dance, however,
was different, and he felt that he must look his best, his very "smoothest." He
was a rare undergraduate; he owned everything necessary to wear to an evening
function—at least, everything an undergraduate considered necessary. He did
not own a dress-suit, and he would have had no use for it if he had; only Tuxedos
He dressed with great care, tying and retying his tie until it was knotted perfectly.
When at last he drew on his jacket, he looked himself over in the mirror with
considerable satisfaction. He knew that he was dressed right.
It hardly entered his mind that he was an exceedingly good-looking young man.
Vanity was not one of his faults. But he had good reason to be pleased with the