The Plastic Age HTML version

Capwell Chapel—it bore the pork merchant's name as an eternal memorial to
him—was as impressive inside as out. The stained-glass windows had been
made by a famous New York firm; the altar had been designed by an even more
famous sculptor. The walls, quite improperly, were adorned with paintings of
former presidents, but the largest painting of all—it was fairly Gargantuan—was
of the pork merchant, a large, ruddy gentleman, whom the artist, a keen
observer, had painted truly—complacently porcine, benevolently smug.
The seniors and juniors sat in the nave, the sophomores on the right side of the
transept, the freshmen on the left. Hugh gazed upward in awe at the dim
recesses of the vaulted ceiling, at the ornately carved choir where gowned
students were quietly seating themselves, at the colored light streaming through
the beautiful windows, at the picture of the pork merchant. The chapel bells
ceased tolling; rich, solemn tones swelled from the organ.
President Culver in cap and gown, his purple hood falling over his shoulders,
entered followed by his faculty, also gowned and hooded. The students rose and
remained standing until the president and faculty were seated. The organ
sounded a final chord, and then the college chaplain rose and prayed—very
badly. He implored the Lord to look kindly "on these young men who have come
from near and far to drink from this great fount of learning, this well of wisdom."
The prayer over, the president addressed the students. He was a large, erect
man with iron-gray hair and a rugged intelligent face. Although he was sixty years
old, his body was vigorous and free from extra weight. He spoke slowly and
impressively, choosing his words with care and enunciating them with great
distinctness. His address was for the freshmen: he welcomed them to Sanford
College, to its splendid traditions, its high ideals, its noble history. He spoke of
the famous men it numbered among its sons, of the work they had done for
America and the world, of the work he hoped future Sanford men, they, the
freshmen, would some day do for America and the world. He mentioned briefly
the boys from Sanford who had died in the World War "to make the world safe for
democracy," and he prayed that their sacrifice had not been in vain. Finally, he
spoke of the chapel service, which the students were required to attend. He
hoped that they would find inspiration in it, knowledge and strength. He assured
them that the service would always be nonsectarian, that there would never be
anything in it to offend any one of any race, creed, or religion. With a last
exhortation to the freshmen to make the most of their great opportunities, he
ended with the announcement that they would rise and sing the sixty-seventh
Hugh was deeply impressed by the speech but disturbed by the students. From
where he sat he got an excellent view of the juniors and seniors. The seniors,
who sat in the front of the nave, seemed to be paying fairly good attention; but
the juniors—many of them, at least—paid no attention at all. Some of them were
munching apples, some doughnuts, and many of them were reading "The
Sanford News," the college's daily paper. Some of the juniors talked during the