It hadn't been just another day like all days; it had been a day of personal disaster for Mansley W. R. Montebank III, Class of '61.
Things began on Friday afternoon, when a friend in Harvard's administrative hierarchy slipped him the word that he didn't get into Eliot House. For Mansley--the Montebank clan's silver-spoon-fed youngest generation (St. Mark's and BUtterfield 8)--it was a deliberate slur on his urbanity. Shaken and embittered and haunted by the persistent spectre of anachronism, Mansley did something a Montebank would never do; he went to the ISA Fair.
It was raining on Saturday, and admission was ninety cents. Over two dozen gay booths and multi-colored stalls were strung out along Garden Street on an iron-pipe and cardboard scaffolding.
"My God, the grass; just think of what it's doing to the grass," said a Center official, surveying the sea of mud.
Mansley (gray homburg protected by black umbrella) watched wordless as sundry crews in sweat shirts tried with damp success to pull canvas canopies over their partitions.
"Everybody plays the dart game. Everybody wins a kewpie doll. Every home needs a kewpie doll. Step right up."
He watched as African graduate students did a Congo mambo bump-and-grind to a jungle drum and peddled cups of thick syrup to the spectators.
"Turkish coffee, Turkish tobacco--follow the arrow right on in," intoned a turbaned muezzin in discreet gray flannel.
Mansley, in his thin-soled brown French shoes, inspected bread rings going at fifty cents apiece (ten of those little red coupons), gazed stolidly at the immobile Dutch windmill and the Blarney Castle, and meditated briefly upon an Indian almond-candy called barfi.
"It's true," said a scraped Latin American to the little man at the roulette wheel. "The Israel folk-singing was broken up by an Arab drum. I swear it's true."
Mansley passed on, paring his fingernails, pale and withered in the bombast.
"I want a kewpie doll for my motorcycle," said a leather-jacket knight of the road, with a yellow grin.
And so the enthusiastic carousel whirled on--Viking girls with paper-cup tankards, hawkers with a bag of tricks, a one-shot orgy of the cosmopolitan marketplace.
It wasn't until later that evening, when the peddlers had gone home and the flags were put away, that they found him--Mansley Montebank (too much with the world) impaled on his own umbrella. It had been, of course, a decorous death; he was too much a gentleman to bleed all over his vest.