June, 1895. Loessy winds puffed faintly from the gulf, and doxies paltered in their bordels. All Nebraska simmered in the heat. Lincoln, the new state capital, named for Mr. Lincoln out of spite by an unruly clique of power-drunk prairie politicians, sulked in the hotness--oppressed by the clastic ulor of its buildings.
Most of the best citizens had left town. A cavalcade of shays and victorias, phaetons and buggies and traps was headed out along the dusty road to the University to see the graduation exercises. Along the sides of the road, sitting their underbred nags with easy grace, rode the rag-tag and bob-tail of Lincoln. Indian fighters, many of them had been, and some still were. They eyed the newly-victoria'd business aristocrats with scorn, and spat tobacco-chaws with a nonchalant lack of aim.
The University was having its twenty-fourth birthday. Over the sunbaked quadrangles bustled the black-cloaked figures of the men and women who were about to graduate. Hardy sons and daughters of the soil, brought there by the new wealth, they walked and talked in the manner of sober doers. Some day they would be the teachers, doctors, and ministers of the new state.
At noon, in a room heavy with perspiration and heat and flowers and human emotion, they and the visitors from Lincoln wedged themselves to hear the list of those who had received degrees. Among those honored was a frail young girl from Virginia. "Willa Sibert Cather," called the voice from the platform.
This afternoon at 2 o'clock the Vagabond will appear in humble mood to hear Mr. DeVoto on Willa Cather. (Sever 35.)