Marching Men HTML version
McGregor began to attend some classes at Chicago University and walked about
among the massive buildings, erected for the most part through the bounty of
one of his country's leading business men, wondering why the great centre of
learning seemed so little a part of the city. To him the University seemed
something entirely apart, not in tune with its surrounding. It was like an expensive
ornament worn on the soiled hand of a street urchin. He did not stay there long.
One day he got into disfavour with the professor in one of the classes. He sat in a
room among other students, his mind busy with thoughts of the future and of how
he might get his movement of the marching men under way. In a chair beside
him sat a large girl with blue eyes and hair like yellow wheat. She like McGregor
was unconscious of what was going on about her and sat with half-closed eyes
watching him. In the corners of her eyes lurked a gleam of amusement. She drew
sketches of his huge mouth and nose on a pad of Paper.
At McGregor's left with his legs sprawled into the aisle sat a youth who was
thinking of the yellow-haired girl and planning a campaign against her. His father
was a manufacturer of berry boxes in a brick building on the West Side and he
wished he were in school in another city so that it would not be necessary to live
at home. All day he thought of the evening meal and of the coming of his father,
nervous and tired, to quarrel with his mother about the management of the
servants. Now he was trying to evolve a plan for getting money from his mother
with which to enjoy a dinner at a downtown restaurant. With delight he
contemplated such an evening with a box of cigarettes on the table and the
yellow-haired girl sitting opposite him under red lights. He was a typical American
youth of the upper middle class and was in the University only because he was in
no hurry to begin his life in the commercial world.
In front of McGregor sat another typical student, a pale nervous young man who
drummed with his fingers on the back of a book. He was very serious about
acquiring learning and when the professor paused in his talk he threw up his
hands and asked a question. When the professor smiled he laughed loudly. He
was like an instrument on which the professor struck chords.
The professor, a short man with a bushy black beard, heavy shoulders and large
powerful eye-glasses, spoke in a shrill voice surcharged with excitement.
"The world is full of unrest," he said; "men are struggling like chicks in the shell.
In the hinterland of every man's mind uneasy thoughts stir. I call your attention to
what is going on in the Universities of Germany."
The professor paused and glared about. McGregor was so irritated by what he
took to be the wordiness of the man that he could not restrain himself. He felt as