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The Vagabond


The green light crept across the table and hit Alice right in the eyes. To make matters worse, the polished wood of the chair had turned to cast iron beneath her, and so she made her way over to the sofa, stretching herself out flat upon her stomach. This was much more comfortable. The blinding green light was quite far away now, which made it much more difficult to read. But she had been getting sleepy for ever so long now, with one page looking just like the next, so she didn't see that it at all mattered. In her haste to get her books earlier in the evening Alice had forgotten to lock the door, and now the Red Queen, shaking all over and looking very angry walked into the room and stood over her.

Alice propped her face up in her sticky hands and went on reading dreamingly: "In 451 A.D. King Theodoric united his forces with the Romans and defeated Atilla at the Battle of Chalons, thus saving France from the rule of the Huns. For this deed alone European civilization owes a great debt to the brave leader of the Visigoths. The Bessemer process, for making steel without carbon was invented by Henry Bessemer in 1855, and is one of the chief factors behind the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century."

The Red Queen was next to Alice now and looking down over her shoulder. "Good heavens, child!" she cried. "Whoever told you such a thing? It doesn't make any more sense than a poem in the Advocate!"

Alice turned over on her back and looked up at the Red Queen. She was too tired to get up, for the sake of politeness, as she knew she should, and her notebook was getting heavier by the minute. "I can't help it," she murmured. "That's what it says in the notes. Things like that are always getting right in the middle and mixing me up worse than ever."

"And do you know what it means?" asked the Red Queen. "I never heard of Bessemer. He must be a Russian."

Alice looked at her notebook more closely. "He invented a process of some kind. I guess there just, wasn't any steel before the nineteenth century."

"Humph!" said the Red Queen, who had gone across the room and squeezed herself into an arm-chair, "No steel, indeed. There will always be thieves as long as there are governments. Why don't you read Lincoln Steffens instead of that silly little notebook? I don't see how you ever read those crazy marks on the pages anyhow."

"I don't either," said Alice, half to herself. She turned a few pages, as she was tired of the one she had been on, and went on reading: "Hugh Capet in 987 A.D. founded the royal house of France and began the line of kings who were to unite that country into a great nation. The secret of Capetian success was the fact that for hundreds of years the royal line never failed to bring forth a ruler. Every king was able to propagate his kind."

"Ah, so," said the Red Queen. "I have been 'Action Francaise'. So that is what it is." She look-reading in the newspapers lately a lot about the ed at Alice a few moments and then walked over to the sofa and took the notebook out of the hands of the weary girl. Alice saw the green light fade ever further and listened vaguely to the muttering of the Red Queen as she fell asleep.

This morning the Vagabond will get up at the crack of dawn to look at the pile of maps on his desk, and at nine o'clock will go to the New Lecture Hall to take his examination in History 1.

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