The Plastic Age HTML version

About a week after the opening of college, Hugh returned to Surrey Hall one
night feeling unusually virtuous and happy. He had worked religiously at the
library until it had closed at ten, and he had been in the mood to study. His
lessons for the next day were all prepared, and prepared well. He had strolled
across the moon-lit campus, buoyant and happy. Some one was playing the
organ in the dark chapel; he paused to listen. Two students passed him,
humming softly,
"Sanford, Sanford, mother of men,
Love us, guard us, hold us true...."
The dormitories were dim masses broken by rectangles of soft yellow light.
Somewhere a banjo twanged. Another student passed.
"Hello, Carver," he said pleasantly. "Nice night."
"Oh, hello, Jones. It sure is."
The simple greeting completed his happiness. He felt that he belonged, that
Sanford, the "mother of men," had taken him to her heart. The music in the
chapel swelled, lyric, passionate—up! up! almost a cry. The moonlight was
golden between the heavy shadows of the elms. Tears came into the boy's eyes;
he was melancholy with joy.
He climbed the stairs of Surrey slowly, reluctant to reach his room and Carl's
flippancy. He passed an open door and glanced at the men inside the room.
"Hi, Hugh. Come in and bull a while."
"Not to-night, thanks." He moved on down the hall, feeling a vague resentment;
his mood had been broken, shattered.
The door opposite his own room was slightly open. A freshman lived there,
Herbert Morse, a queer chap with whom Carl and Hugh had succeeded in
scraping up only the slightest acquaintance. He was a big fellow, fully six feet,
husky and quick. The football coach said that he had the makings of a great half-
back, but he had already been fired off the squad because of his irregularity in
reporting for practice. Except for what the boys called his stand-offishness—
some of them said that he was too damned high-hat—he was extremely
attractive. He had red, almost copper-colored, hair, and an exquisite skin, as
delicate as a child's. His features were well carved, his nose slightly aquiline—a
magnificent looking fellow, almost imperious; or as Hugh once said to Carl,
"Morse looks kinda noble."
As Hugh placed his hand on the door-knob of No 19, he heard something that
sounded suspiciously like a sob from across the hall. He paused and listened. He
was sure that he could hear some one crying.
"Wonder what's wrong," he thought, instantly disturbed and sympathetic.
He crossed the hall and tapped lightly on Morse's door. There was no answer;
nor was there any when he tapped a second time. For a moment he was
abashed, and then he pushed open the door and entered Morse's room.