secretary, up until the end of sophomore year it never ceased, that breathless social system, that worship,
seldom named, never really admitted, of the bogey "Big Man."
First it was schools, and Amory, alone from St. Regis', watched the crowds form and widen and form again;
St. Paul's, Hill, Pomfret, eating at certain tacitly reserved tables in Commons, dressing in their own corners of
the gymnasium, and drawing unconsciously about them a barrier of the slightly less important but socially
ambitious to protect them from the friendly, rather puzzled high-school element. From the moment he realized
this Amory resented social barriers as artificial distinctions made by the strong to bolster up their weak
retainers and keep out the almost strong.
Having decided to be one of the gods of the class, he reported for freshman football practice, but in the second
week, playing quarter-back, already paragraphed in corners of the Princetonian, he wrenched his knee
seriously enough to put him out for the rest of the season. This forced him to retire and consider the situation.
"12 Univee" housed a dozen miscellaneous question-marks. There were three or four inconspicuous and quite
startled boys from Lawrenceville, two amateur wild men from a New York private school (Kerry Holiday
christened them the "plebeian drunks"), a Jewish youth, also from New York, and, as compensation for
Amory, the two Holidays, to whom he took an instant fancy.
The Holidays were rumored twins, but really the dark-haired one, Kerry, was a year older than his blond
brother, Burne. Kerry was tall, with humorous gray eyes, and a sudden, attractive smile; he became at once
the mentor of the house, reaper of ears that grew too high, censor of conceit, vendor of rare, satirical humor.
Amory spread the table of their future friendship with all his ideas of what college should and did mean.
Kerry, not inclined as yet to take things seriously, chided him gently for being curious at this inopportune time
about the intricacies of the social system, but liked him and was both interested and amused. Burne,
fair-haired, silent, and intent, appeared in the house only as a busy apparition, gliding in quietly at night and
off again in the early morning to get up his work in the libraryhe was out for the Princetonian, competing
furiously against forty others for the coveted first place. In December he came down with diphtheria, and
some one else won the competition, but, returning to college in February, he dauntlessly went after the prize
again. Necessarily, Amory's acquaintance with him was in the way of three-minute chats, walking to and from
lectures, so he failed to penetrate Burne's one absorbing interest and find what lay beneath it.
Amory was far from contented. He missed the place he had won at St. Regis', the being known and admired,
yet Princeton stimulated him, and there were many things ahead calculated to arouse the Machiavelli latent in
him, could he but insert a wedge. The upper-class clubs, concerning which he had pumped a reluctant
graduate during the previous summer, excited his curiosity: Ivy, detached and breathlessly aristocratic;
Cottage, an impressive milange of brilliant adventurers and well-dressed philanderers; Tiger Inn,
broad-shouldered and athletic, vitalized by an honest elaboration of prep-school standards; Cap and Gown,
anti-alcoholic, faintly religious and politically powerful; flamboyant Colonial; literary Quadrangle; and the
dozen others, varying in age and position.
Anything which brought an under classman into too glaring a light was labelled with the damning brand of
"running it out." The movies thrived on caustic comments, but the men who made them were generally
running it out; talking of clubs was running it out; standing for anything very strongly, as, for instance,
drinking parties or teetotalling, was running it out; in short, being personally conspicuous was not tolerated,
and the influential man was the non-committal man, until at club elections in sophomore year every one
should be sewed up in some bag for the rest of his college career.
Amory found that writing for the Nassau Literary Magazine would get him nothing, but that being on the
board of the Daily Princetonian would get any one a good deal. His vague desire to do immortal acting with
the English Dramatic Association faded out when he found that the most ingenious brains and talents were
concentrated upon the Triangle Club, a musical comedy organization that every year took a great Christmas
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