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The Boylston Reading Room had always displeased the Vagabond. The sight of so many people working at once brought with it a certain sadness, while the stuffy air was redolent of toiling Freshmen. Moreover, little barbed memories of Freshman year and History I still lingered in the blue atmosphere of the place, burying their stinging noses in Vag's scarred memory. He brushed them manfully aside, and strode straight for the Economics shelf. For it was two o'clock on Sunday afternoon and Widener was closed.
He looked with consternation at the thickness of the volume he chose and pushing away the green bags laid it down in the nearest empty space. Sadly he gazed out the window, drinking in a last look at the golden winter afternoon. The room was as yet relatively empty, and the soughing of the wind was broken only by the melancholy, far-distant clanking of the steam heating system. He roused himself from his dreaming and started to sit down. He was sleepy, and filled with the quiet content of one who has had a good time the night before but now is actually getting to work.
A blood-curdling shrick split the air. All the nerves in the Vag's body leaped screaming to their feet and sunk their teeth in his aching head. When he hit the ground and his senses began to return he sent a quick, terrified look about the room. Yet everything looked the same. The roof was still in place, and the delivery desk still retained its immemorial position. He sank limply back in his seat. A second screech, louder than the first, struck him between the eyeballs. As the echoes died away in the furthermost corners of the old building he could hear the dust dropping back on the books and his separated vertebrae clicking back into their places.
O horror! The noise had come from beneath him! In a paroxysm of fear Vag leaped upon the table. He had forgotten that these sounds were merely that old Harvard tradition, the Boylston Antique Chair Chorus, in which the chairs, aged to the resonance of violins, joined in horrid synphony. Alas, now he was beyond help and beyond reason. The noises were now growing to a terrible crescendo, now receding, beating about his throbbing temples, laughing, cackling, snarling, howling, roaring! They were after him! They were getting nearer! He stared about him with the terror of a cornered animal. Then he ran. Through the door he crashed, out into the Yard, across the Square, unmindful of cars, and into a hardware store. "Give me the biggest axe you've got!" he screamed. Panting he rushed back and burst into the Reading Room. Picking out the nearest chair he closed one eye, sighted, and swung the great axe above his head . . .
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