Butt Chanler Freshman
James Shelley Hamilton
New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1908



  . . . "Here's a freshman hiding!" Some one had


routed out Durham and brought him into the light, red and shamefaced.

  "I wasn't."

  Thomas, a tall, spectacled youth, with a very grave countenance, stepped forward.

  "Don't be afraid," he said, eying Durham's huge bulk solemnly. "What is your name?"


  "Durham? Durham? Where have I—Ah, that's the name that made tobacco famous! Bull Durham! We'll have to call you that—it fits your shrinking nature so splendidly. Now let me think! We must try something rather mild at first, I think. Ah! I have it—see if you can't corral a few more and we'll have some dramatics." A little band of emissaries left the room and returned with Wells and Grey. "Now we must have quite a company. Let me see—we must have something classic. How would 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' please you?" Thomas's grave face broadened into a paternal smile and he beamed down upon the freshmen through his glasses. "That's what we'll do. We'll have Eliza cross the ice first, with the following cast: Eliza, Freshman Hawkins; Eliza's babe, Freshman Chanler; bloodhounds, Freshman Bull Durham and—your name, please? Thank you. And yours? Grey? Thank you. Bloodhounds, Freshman Bull Durham and Freshman Grey; a cake of ice, Fresh-


man Wells. Now, gentlemen, clear the stage, if you please."

  Thomas briefly rehearsed the actors and the play began. The space between the two windows was the river, in which Wells floated wildly about, striving, according to orders, to put plenty of action into his part. On the window seat Durham and Grey lifted up their voices in hoarse yowls and deep-toned bayings, while Hawkins perched on the edge with Butt in his arms.

  "Ah Heaven help me the river is full of ice and the bloody hounds are upon muh," announced Hawkins in a complacent monotone.

  Thomas fixed him with a sorrowful gaze. "No, it is not a nice day out, as your optimistic tone would indicate. It is a dark and stormy night, and the only hope for you and the child lies in plunging desperately across the seething river. Now get into the spirit of it and plunge!"

  Urged on by the bloodthirsty hounds, Eliza arose and started nonchalantly across the room. But the passage was not to be such a calm one. The cake of ice, fired with dramatic fervor, lurched violently and unexpectedly at her feet, after the manner of a football tackle, and poor Eliza and her hapless infant were plunged headlong into the turbulent waters.

  A round of applause greeted the end of the scene,


and Thomas hurriedly rehearsed his company for the next.

  "You are sadly deficient in histrionic talent, Freshman Hawkins," he said sadly. "Wells, you are promoted to a speaking part—you can be Uncle Tom—and Durham, you will be Little Eva. Chanler, do you think you could achieve a good, ferocious scowl? You can be Simon Legree, then. The other two will be the quartet, and you are to sing while Little Eva passes away."

  A few more directions and the play was on again. Simon Legree scowled fiercely and thrashed poor Tom with the blue necktie he had had difficulty in finding that morning, while Uncle Tom, who seemed inspired with the very spirit of Thomas and needed no prompting, protested brokenly that though his miserable black body might belong to his earthly master, his heart was God's little garden, and that's all there was to it. Entered Little Eva—a bit lumberingly, for Durham could not successfully give the illusion of being girlish—and rescued her black faithful, to be borne by him then, not without difficulty, to the window seat, where she expired amidst smothered laughter and the strains of "Waltz me around again, Willy," from the semiquartet of angels.

  "That will be enough, I guess," said Thomas when the scene was finished. "Shall we on to the


next quarry?" On they decided to go, and trooped out of the room, laughing and bidding their victims good-night with entire friendliness.

  Thomas stopped to execute an elaborate hieroglyphic on the door with a piece of chalk. "If you have any more visitors, show them that," he said. "That is a sign that you have been called upon. You'd better go to bed now."

  The freshmen, left alone, looked at one another and grinned.

  "And that's hazing!" exclaimed Butt. "Oh, Timothy! Oh, my beloved Timothy!"

  "Your beloved Timothy makes me tired," said Hawkins, dropping his grin and speaking with a growl. "I see where he is going to walk into trouble if he comes monkeying around here much more. He's a nasty one."

  "Please!" pleaded Durham, trying to clear his desk from the disorder it had undergone through being the seat of some half-dozen sophomores. "The intersection of two planes is a straight line, but I don't know why, and I've got to find out. Do you know, Butt?"

  "Oh, I'm going to bed, anyhow. I'm all stiff from that practice this afternoon. Come on, fellows!" said Hawkins.

  With a good-night they departed, leaving Butt and Durham to their geometry.