To elect any one as class-president twice was taboo. Elmer swallowed ideas whole; he was a maelstrom of prejudices; but Jim accurately examined every notion that came to him.
A piece of newspaper sprang up, apparently by itself, and slid along the floor. Then unknown invisible blocks, miles of them, his head clearing, and he made grave announcement to a Jim Lefferts who suddenly seemed to be with him: "I gotta lick that fellow." "All right, all right. But still, he was to be allowed one charming fight, and he revived as he staggered industriously in search of it. For the first time in weeks he was relieved from the boredom of Terwillinger College.
He laughed, and rested against some one's arm, an arm with no body attached to it, which had come out of the Ewigkeit to assist him.
I'll get 'nother drink," soothed Jim, and Elmer slid into tears, weeping over the ancient tragic sorrows of one whom he remembered as Jim Lefferts. He was conscious of a voice which he had been hearing for centuries, echoing from a distant point of light and flashing through ever-widening corridors of a dream. They had won the championship of the East-middle Kansas Conference, which consisted of ten denominational colleges, all of them with buildings and presidents and chapel services and yells and colors and a standard of scholarship equal to the best high-schools.
That was a very funny incident, and he laughed greatly. You might as well go find a nice little fight and get it out of your system! Elmer Gantry, best known to classmates as Hell-cat, had, this autumn of 1902, been football captain and led the best team Terwillinger College had known in ten years.
You would not be likely to mistake Terwillinger College for an Old Folks' Home, because on the campus is a large rock painted with class numerals. There is a men's dormitory, but Elmer Gantry and Jim Lefferts lived together in the town, in a mansion once the pride of the Gritzmachers themselves: a square brick bulk with a white cupola.
Their room was unchanged from the days of the original August Gritzmacher; a room heavy with a vast bed of carved black walnut, thick and perpetually dusty brocade curtains, and black walnut chairs hung with scarves that dangled gilt balls. There was about the place the anxious propriety and all the dead hopes of a second-hand furniture shop.
They did a comic thing once--they got twisted and the right leg leaped in front of the left when, so far as he could make out, it should have been behind.
It was lamentable to see this broad young man, who would have been so happy in the prize-ring, the fish-market, or the stock exchange, poking through the cobwebbed corridors of Terwillinger.
Terwillinger College, founded and preserved by the more zealous Baptists, is on the outskirts of Gritzmacher Springs, Kansas.