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The Plastic Age

The Plastic Age

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Plastic Age, by Percy MarksThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: The Plastic AgeAuthor: Percy MarksRelease Date: August 15, 2005 [EBook #16532]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ASCII*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE PLASTIC AGE ***Produced by Scott G. Sims and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.netTHE PLASTIC AGEBYPERCY MARKSILLUSTRATED WITH SCENESFROM THE PHOTOPLAYA PREFERRED PICTUREGROSSET & DUNLAPPUBLISHERS NEW YORK[Illustration: "SHE'S _MY_ GIRL! HANDS OFF!"]Made in the United States of America1924THE CENTURY Co.PRINTED IN U. S. A.ToMY MOTHER
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS"SHE'S _MY_ GIRL! HANDS OFF!""LOOK! FLANNELS FOR MAMMA'S BOY!""COME ON--I KNOW WHERE THERE'S LIQUID REFRESHMENT!""THAT'S CYNTHIA DAY--A REAL HOTSY-TOTSY!""DANCE, SALOME!"HUGH'S POPULARITY IS ESTABLISHED AFTER THE FIRST ATHLETIC TRY-OUTS."ONE TURN, HUGH, AND WE'LL QUIT THESE JOINTS FOR GOOD!"CARL FORGETS HIS ANIMOSITY IN HONEST ADMIRATION FOR HUGH.THE PLASTIC AGECHAPTER IWhen an American sets out to found a college, he hunts first for a hill.John Harvard was an Englishman and indifferent to high places. Theresult is that Harvard has become a university of vast proportions andno color. Yale flounders about among the New Haven shops, trying to riseabove them. The Harkness Memorial tower is successful; otherwise theuniversity smells of trade. If Yale had been built on a hill, it wouldprobably be far less important and much more interesting.Hezekiah Sanford was wise; he found first his hill and then founded hiscollege, believing probably that any one ambitious enough to climb thehill was a man fit to wrestle with learning and, if need be, with Satanhimself. Satan was ever before Hezekiah, and he fought him valiantly,exorcising him every morning in chapel and every evening at prayers. Thefirst students of Sanford College learned Latin and Greek and to fearthe devil. There are some who declare that their successors learn less.Hezekiah built Sanford Hall, a fine Georgian building, performed theduties of trustees, president, dean, and faculty for thirty years, andthen passed to his reward, leaving three thousand acres, his library offive hundred books, mostly sermons, Sanford Hall, and a charter thatopened the gates of Sanford to all men so that they might "find the truelight of God and the glory of Jesus in the halls of this most liberalcollege."More than a century had passed since Hezekiah was laid to rest inHaydensville's cemetery. The college had grown miraculously and changedeven more miraculously. Only the hill and its beautiful surroundingsremained the same. Indian Lake, on the south of the campus, stillsparkled in the sunlight; on the east the woods were as virgin as theyhad been a hundred and fifty years before. Haydensville, still only avillage, surrounded the college on the west and north.
Hezekiah's successors had done strange things to his campus. There weredozens of buildings now surrounding Sanford Hall, and they revealed allthe types of architecture popular since Hezekiah had thundered his lastdefiance at Satan. There were fine old colonial buildings, their windowsoutlined by English ivy; ponderous Romanesque buildings made of stone,grotesque and hideous; a pseudo-Gothic chapel with a tower ofsurpassing loveliness; and four laboratories of the purest factorydesign. But despite the conglomerate and sometimes absurdarchitecture--a Doric temple neighbored a Byzantine mosque--the campuswas beautiful. Lawns, often terraced, stretched everywhere, and thegreat elms lent a dignity to Sanford College that no architect, howeverstupid, could quite efface.This first day of the new college year was glorious in the golden hazeof Indian summer. The lake was silver blue, the long reflections of thetrees twisting and bending as a soft breeze ruffled the surface intotiny waves. The hills already brilliant with color--scarlet, burntorange, mauve, and purple--flamed up to meet the clear blue sky; theelms softly rustled their drying leaves; the white houses of the villageretreated coyly behind maples and firs and elms: everywhere there waspeace, the peace that comes with strength that has been stronger thantime.As Hugh Carver hastened up the hill from the station, his two suit-casesbanged his legs and tripped him. He could hardly wait to reach thecampus. The journey had been intolerably long--Haydensville was morethan three hundred miles from Merrytown, his home--and he was wild tofind his room in Surrey Hall. He wondered how he would like hisroom-mate, Peters.... What's his name? Oh, yes, Carl.... The registrarhad written that Peters had gone to Kane School.... Must be pretty fine.Ought to be first-class to room with.... Hugh hoped that Peters wouldn'tthink that he was too country....Hugh was a slender lad who looked considerably less than his eighteenyears. A gray cap concealed his sandy brown hair, which he parted on theside and which curled despite all his brushing. His crystalline blueeyes, his small, neatly carved nose, his sensitive mouth that hid a shyand appealing smile, were all very boyish. He seemed young, almostpathetically young.People invariably called him a nice boy, and he didn't like it; in fact,he wanted to know how they got that way. They gave him the pip, that'swhat they did. He guessed that a fellow who could run the hundred in 10:2 and out-box anybody in high school wasn't such a baby. Why, he hadoverheard one of the old maid teachers call him sweet. Sweet! Cripes,that old hen made him sick. She was always pawing him and sticking herskinny hands in his hair. He was darn glad to get to college where therewere only men teachers.Women always wanted to get their hands into his hair, and boys liked himon sight. Many of those who were streaming up the hill before and behindhim, who passed him or whom he passed, glanced at his eager face andthought that there was a guy they'd like to know.An experienced observer would have divided those boys into three groups:preparatory school boys, carelessly at ease, well dressed, or, as thecollege argot has it, "smooth"; boys from city schools, not so well

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