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The Vagabond


Once there was a boy. This was very long ago. The boy went to a very nice school where you called the principal "Father". He got a good education there, he met Hooker Beane, the son of the great international banker, and Jeremy Sloan, the heir to the great sugar-beet fortune, and he roomed with Weston, the brilliant young gentleman-rider.

And he came to Harvard after he graduated. He aspired to a scholastic career. All his friends laughed at him Freshman year. They would go shooting out nights in tuxedoes and the boy would stay home. They would wolf highballs at the Ritz-fair and the boy would shut up his books at midnight and have a glass of milk at Hayes-Bickford's.

He was delighted when he made Group 2 at finals. And that was all very well. His father in New York said he would give him a new LaSalle so he could have just a great time all summer. The boy said he thought he would come back to summer school. It was in his blood, he said. He was crazy for study.

His friends dropped away from him sophomore year. He roomed alone on the fifth floor of Dunster so he could have quiet. At Hayes-Bickford's he made friends with a student who commuted from Allston and he got to know well the Exchange Student from Lingnan in China. Nights the three of them would get together in his room and discuss Boethins. They had all read Boethius in the original and in the Middle English translation.

Junior year he won the Garrison prize for poetry and the Hackenroder medal for the best historical essay. He never went home for vacations any more. His father was afraid of him. He sent him checks for large sums intermittently. The boy never asked for money. He had little use for it. There were always three or four of his father's checks lying around un cashed in his room.

At the beginning of his senior year the boy had already taken a deskful of notes on 37 books, 9 doctoral theses, and 12 pamphlets issued by the Modern Language Association. He had done this toward his Honors Thesis and he had written two rough drafts of it already. He spent most of his time in the stacks brushing up till he mastered his subject completely. Aside from that he took four courses and managed to get A's in all of them. His professors all knew him and marvelled at him. Some of them were a little afraid of him too, like his father. He graduated summa cum laude.

The boy is bald now and he wears thick triple-lens glasses beneath which his eyes water in the sun. He is still at Harvard. He is the head section-man in Iranian Philosophy Z.

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