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The Vagabond



"A colleen?" the Vagabond repeated several times, much like a badly-scratched phonograph record. He had learned that repetition was the polite way of confessing ignorance. With no little sense of awe and appreciation of his luck he was walking with Byron Piccup along the bechildrened pavements in front of Dunster House; a few feet ahead lay their destination in the form of a lighted, whistling popcorn and hotdog stand. Yes, with Byron Piccup!

"You see, I have found out through my numerous years of experience never to call a girl a girl; it doesn't pay. A member of the petticoats--my term for womankind as a class--cannot be just a girl."

The Vagabond looked stupefied.

"No, sir! Every girl--colleen, pardon me -- is a type; if she's rude, she is a hoyden; if lewd, a minx; if lovely, a nymph; if lovely and black-eyed, a houri (that comes from an Arabian word, he parenthesized with a smack of his lips). Now, you may think there is no difference between a vixen, for which are wrongly substituted the obsolete words 'virago' and 'termagant,' and a shrew. But there is! A shrew is always a brawling woman, while a vixen is merely bad-tempered."

As he brushed aside a tousled, screeching head bent upon chalking the sidewalk, the Vagabond observed to himself how Byron Piccup had made into a college-worthy art are what most men had always considered an instinct.

"To captivate a girleen," Byron continued in a raptured voice, "one must be really clever. He would do best, perhaps, to follow my few primitive rules. As a "locus operandi" take, for instance, the Charles: an excellent feeding ground. The first trick should be the undulation of the hand, the wink of the old eye, and a broad smile. If you walk the whole length of the bank and repeat these motions without any recognition, immediately change to the "information" method; approach a lass and ask her the whereabouts of Hunt Hall or the Union. That failing, borrow your roommate's car, a police whistle, and several companions and cruise along Memorial Drive, making as much turmoil as is legally possible.

"In all my experience this will not fail unless it happens to be a chilly evening, on which nights the right type of female remains home. A colleague of mine advised jumping in the river if the "car" method was unsuccessful, but not until he tried it did he realize the resulting difficulties, mostly wet clothes and the loss in short order of the attracted victim.

"Last of all, I believe in the 'disregard' game, which consists of strolling nonchalantly by the procession and completely ignoring every likely petticoat. This is the subtlest of my tricks and can only be practiced by an intelligent person. Occasionally -- nay, perhaps more than that -- even this will not bring response. In that case, there is but one other alternative: hurry over to Radcliffe; they're forever home!"

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