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THE CRIME

A Tale in Three Parts Part I Appearance

By R. L. W.

It was only due to the alertness of Mosco Mucilage, second assistant proctor at the English 99 1-2 examination, that the secret of the Memorial Hall ghost was discovered as soon as it was. Even so it was only barely in time, for symptoms of demoralization had begun to spread throughout the college and a panic might have resulted had the mystery continued much longer.

The first indication that anything out of the ordinary was going on was when the proctor at the Psychochemistry X exam noticed that there was one more man in the room than was enrolled in the course. Suspicious of some plot on the part of one of his rivals in the phlegtobotany department, he watched for an unfamiliar face as the students came up to leave their books. Just as the throng about the desk was greatest, he caught a glimpse of the strange face. It was only a glimpse, and before he could say a word it was lost in the crowd.

Part II The Mystery Grows

The next day and the next the same thing happened. Not until the bluebooks were falling thick and fast on the table could the proctor find anything wrong, and then--just one terrifying stare from the unknown eyes, and the discovery that there was a blue-book too many. the mysterious being could change its shape at will for never did he appear twice in the same form. Once a section man thought he recognized the features of a freshman who had been run over by a trolley car; another swore he saw a man who had been expelled last June. But they were never sure; and always the extra bluebook was unsigned.

From then on no place was secure from his visitation. New Lecture Hall, Fogg, Harvard Hall, wherever an examination was in progress, there was the chance that the unsigned book would be turned in and a proctor reduced to helplessness by a stare from the mysterious eyes.

Then the reports from the correctors began to come in. All the unsigned books were well above passing and the majority reached the honors level. As the number grew, the record of the unknown approached that of the famous Theocrates Didymus, who took and passed 26 final examinations in 1888. But before that point was reached, the dentity of the unknown was discovered.

Part III Disappearance

It was Mucilage who had the first suspicion of the truth. The morning the English 99 1-2 exam was to be held, he substituted at the last minute papers for Abyssmian Philology. A few discontented murmurings were heard from the students, but most of them set diligently to work. Then Mucilage began to walk up and down the aisles, peering over the shoulder of every man. At last he found what he was seeking.

On the exposed page of a blue-book he read "The significant thing in the work of Blogdenthorp is that he represents his period both in style and material." At once he recognized the English 99 1-2 formula, and knew that his intuition had been right. Beckoning his comrades to him, he seized upon the writer of the betraying words. Great was the surprise when he found it was not a human being but a mechanical man, a perfected robot. The head came off in his hands. Examining it closely, he found it contained a replaceable cylinder on which was written "English 99 1-2". There was a complicated mechanism by which impressions on the roll were transferred to the fingers and which enabled the creature to write on paper exactly what was on the cylinder.

So much was readily discovered, but the real secret remained unanswered. Was the whole scheme the plot of a lunatic inventor, or was it merely the result of a process of natural selection? No one can ever know, for Mucilage, realizing the danger to humanity and education that would exist if the mechanism were left in existence, burned it part by part in his furnace the same night. As it dissolved into ashes and smoke, there perished with it the first and only Ghost of Memorial Hall.

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