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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
People are strange little animals, as you have been told. At different times in different places they are different. Massed at a football up-and-down-the-field, they are one voice--either of solemn despair or of deafening triumph. Applauding Arthur Fiedler or Gypsy Rose Lee, they are like seals chapping their fins madly and nasally honking for more-fish.
When listening to the rhythm of human voices, some are enwrapped, as though never before had man made any sound besides those of pain, joy, at the Glee Club concerts on the steps of Widener are pelicans to him who gapes on them from a library window. Straight they stand, or stiffly they walk, nosing one another and raising sharp little cries.
A man in shirt sleeves leans out a window on the top floor or Widener just as a soft classical song has begun. The window squeaks, and some one shouts, "Get back in there, professor; you're wasting the university's money." The girls from Radcliffe, in suits of varied colors, with short socks and dirty white-and-black or tan-and-white shoes, giggle and look quickly around. Of course, it is a Harvard student, silly creature!
A tall lady, who has long passed the age of frivolity, feels at the velvet ribbon about here wrinkled neck, and then, to call attention to here irritation, rattles here program violently. None are bold enough to glance at their self-assumed chaperone. Instead, a youth in checkered brown pants, and passes judgement: "There, gentlement, is a beauty. Perfect form," Two others are quick to follow his finger: "Where is she, the one in the green coat?" "No, no, over there; sec the lady holding the dog." "She's TERRIBLE!" "The dog you fool; male or female, it's a first-class Irish setter."
Two girls slip through the crowd and emerge alongside of a fair-haired Freshman. They are provocative, and the Freshman nudges his companion and smacks his lips. At that point the pianist succeeds in pulling his fingers from the high notes and drops to the other end of the scale, as the voices swell up in accompaniment. For a second the Freshman forgets, and by the second both have found other lightning-long attractions.
The last notes of a last Harvard song sweep out over the mass of pelicans, and with Yard cops bating their breaths a herd of students burst down the steps. There are a few cries of "Rinchart", the sound of moving bodies, and edging among the audience. The guy with a girl grabs here arm and carefully threads a path towards the gate. One hand lets fall a program, announcing a selection of songs that the Harvard Glee Club will sing to a species of people whom the Vagabond will watch as they watch him, this evening at seven o'clock.
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