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For the first time, spring has not brought complete satisfaction to the Vagabond. There is alarm in his soul. Not the rumblings of war; that is still too remote; an ocean yet intervenes. Not examinations. They are part of every spring. Something worse.
You see, every June, Vag has been joyously happy. The rebirth of nature's earth has been his rebirth too. Cupid, Puck, and Duty have fought for his attention, and he has reveled in their very battling. Once, so long ago, when he was a mewling prepster. June meant the end of another school year was near. It meant only that summer--an idyllic period of freedom and fun--approached. It meant a return to those hazy blue mountains which Vag loves.
Even as recently as last April, Vag welcomed spring with a light-hearted allegory. It was all voices on the river. Feminine, always tinkling girlish sounds and sights. Bicycles and boats. Taut canvas that at last could relax and fold down to make open and animate cars of winter-closed vehicles. A moon no longer cold. Grass that responded with an up-surge at each footfall, lightening, replying: move--move faster, move guilty.
But this year, nothing is quite the same. The Yard Concerts were more beautiful, more impression. Vag choked up more and sang with more feeling less boisterousness. At the Spring Dance, getting drunk was out. Instead it seemed proper to act with more decorum, more tenderness to The Girl. And she seemed impressed with the new regime. Exams this year they were to be prepared, not just crammed in two days before. Widener and Memorial Church they were suddenly things to look at with a new gaze. The river--it became a place to sit quietly and dream, no longer merely a place of conquest. And The Grill became a "must" every night.
Yes, everything changed. Or rather, Vag's outlook on them changed. Like lovers about to separate, all the Little Things became important. They suddenly were big Little Things--things which would never occur again in just the same way. They had to be studied, noticed, appreciated to the hilt with a new solemnity. The very atmosphere of this Harvard was to be sipped in, sounds and sights were to be inhaled--treasured.
But why, Vag? Will there not be other springs, beautcous as this one? Will there not be other friends and things to do? But no. No. They will never again be quite like this. You see, this is the end of something--the final wind-up. This is what has brought intensity to everything seen and done. And this very intensity of enjoyment has banished satisfaction--even as the lover cannot enjoy a parting kiss when he knows he will yearn in the future for the lips he now feels. The future--new kisses, new surroundings, new interests--is too remote to cool present emotions.
So it is with the 600 young men who don black robes and tassled caps this week. They make their last appearance as undergraduates. They pay their final respects to their beloved Harvard. Then the long marching line will stride out the gates of the Yard. They will surrender her o'er to "the age that is waiting before."
But their outgoing footsteps will be reluctant. The sound of their feet will echo back and back--back for Yale games, for reunions, for future Commencements, even as this week they hear in turn the echoing footfalls "from the age that is past."
Thus do the Vagabond and they say goodbye.
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