IN THE COMPANY
Chapter 3: STANFORD UNIVERSITY, July 1915
Leaving the Engineering Quad, Victor Lindal
swung onto his bicycle for a ride across the Stanford campus. He felt
a private satisfaction in wearing his athletic award sweater -- not that
he could remember ever being shy about his accomplishments. He had to
admit though, that this award was an honor which stirred his pride. It
was much better than the good looks he was grateful to have inherited
from his mother. The sweater had been earned.
He pedaled slowly, taking time to admire
two new buildings painted white and glistening in the sun. Clubhouses
for men and women had been built replete with arcades to complement the
larger, Stanford Union. The French doors looked smart, and there was a
new dance floor in the Women's Clubhouse where a broad balcony wrapped
around the second level. He waved in a good natured way to two coeds looking
down at him.
"Hey, Vic," one called, while
striking an elaborate pose: hand on hip, and a finger pointing to the
dimple on her cheek. "Save me a dance Saturday?
"Victor laughed at her bravura. "You
bet," he called back before pedaling on. He was tempted to stop and
talk. He liked girls, maybe too much for his own good, he knew. There
was something about them; an anticipation in their watchfulness perhaps.
Whatever it was, he imagined he could sense the expectation of joy in
their searching eyes, or at least a hidden question, and invariably he
felt moved to answer it – or to try. But if he stopped now he would
most likely be late for rugby practice. Besides, there was business to
look after. He would need a summer source of income since he had just
been accepted into the Graduate Languages Department, and the quickest,
sure-fire deal that he'd heard of, was advertised over at the Men's Clubhouse.
It was something to look at.
Vic slowed the bicycle by scraping his feet
on the gravel in front of a porch with wide white pillars which invited
the breeze. Red tiles on a slanting roof deadened the heat from the lunch-hour
sun. On the lawn stood a notice-board. He sat on the bicycle seat reading
the latest poster:
VIGOROUS YOUNG MEN.
JOIN THE PREPAREDNESS
WAR DEMANDS WE BE PREPARED!
He read the poster a second
time to contemplate the art work, designed, he supposed, to emphasize
the urgency for preparation. A fierce looking soldier wearing a spiked
German helmet stood in a threatening pose with bayonet pointed down a
wild-eyed stare. Victor grunted at this exaggeration and dismounted to
guide the front wheel into the wooden frame of a bicycle rack.
He strolled through an entrance archway
to the Student Union Building, and then turned down a Mexican tile staircase
into the cool basement. He kept walking through the long arcade, past
the billiard room, past the shoe repair stand, and the barbershop, until
his eye caught a sign which read: JOIN THE PLATTSBURG PREPAREDNESS MOVEMENT.
Here, he turned in.
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