MARK TWAIN in his "Sketches" has given an account of the adventures of a bad boy who never had any of the misfortunes happen to him that always happen to bad little boys in the Sunday-school books. Unfortunately his hero did not go to college, so I have taken the history of another young man who did, to supply this gap.
The name of my hero was not Jim, but George. To be sure, George is oftener the name of a good young man than of a bad one, yet this particular George was bad; there was no doubt of that. As he had been expelled from only four schools, of course he had not the slightest difficulty in obtaining a certificate of good moral character when he desired to enter college. The examinations offered a slight obstruction for a time, as George was not especially fond of study, but after a few unsuccessful trials he formed an intimacy with a proctor, and his path was smoothed before him.
As George had pleasant manners, plenty of money, and an entire lack of morality, and showed no unpleasant tendency towards independence, he soon became very popular. He was elected into various societies; to be sure, he cared nothing for art, and was not exactly religious, - except on Sunday, - but there is no pleasing those obstinate people who cannot see how a man can be religious and dissipated at the same time. "'T is as easy as lying." Plenty of men combine the two.
The work of his Freshman year troubled him somewhat, especially the mathematics. The German, to be sure, was easy enough, and he soon became good friends with the tutor; but he complained that the other instructors were too cold and difficult to approach. Even pecuniary considerations had no influence with them.
Some thought that George would be dropped at the end of his Freshman year, but he was not. He formed a club with some of his friends, and entered into negotiations with the college printer. It was rather expensive, but better than going over the year again. Strange to say, he was not caught by the instructor's making a slight change in the paper just before examination; he was on the lookout for just that very thing, and noticed it immediately.
Somehow none of the things that happen to bad students in the books happened to this George. He was off on a spree for a week, and when he got back and handed in his certificate that he had been away visiting a sick relative, the shrewd old secretary did n't catch him by asking him if he had had a pleasant trip on the boat. O no! George was well aware that steamboats did not run through ice.
He lied to the Faculty right and left, and did n't get caught and suspended until the end of the year. No, indeed; George's motto was: Never tell a lie - where there is a probability of being found out. Strange to say, George did not pass all his time in love-making. In the books love-making seems to be the chief occupation of a student. It was strange, but still it was true, that George thought girls almost as bad bores as examinations.
As time went on, George became more popular instead of less so. This is in dead opposition to all the authorities on the subject, I know; the bad men who have a brilliant success at first always ought to fall after a year or two, but George's popularity did n't wane worth a cent. He was elected President of lots of societies, and was looked up to with adoration - by his set.
So, finally, George got his degree and graduated. Some people thought that he would have lost it if his father had not been a benefactor of the college. A few even went so far as to whisper that a degree should not be for sale at any price. However, there are always grumblers, and one cannot expect to please everybody.