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"Why, sure, of course."
"Do you see why?"
"You bet--I suppose so."
"If you don't see, tell me. I'm here to show you."
"Well, Mr. Rooney, if you don't mind, I wish you'd go over that again."
"Gladly. Now here's 'A'..."
The room was a study in stupidity--two huge stands for paper, Mr. Rooney
in his shirt-sleeves in front of them, and slouched around on chairs,
a dozen men: Fred Sloane, the pitcher, who absolutely _had_ to get
eligible; "Slim" Langueduc, who would beat Yale this fall, if only he
could master a poor fifty per cent; McDowell, gay young sophomore, who
thought it was quite a sporting thing to be tutoring here with all these
"Those poor birds who haven't a cent to tutor, and have to study during
the term are the ones I pity," he announced to Amory one day, with a
flaccid camaraderie in the droop of the cigarette from his pale lips. "I
should think it would be such a bore, there's so much else to do in New
York during the term. I suppose they don't know what they miss, anyhow."
There was such an air of "you and I" about Mr. McDowell that Amory very
nearly pushed him out of the open window when he said this. ... Next
February his mother would wonder why he didn't make a club and increase
his allowance... simple little nut....
Through the smoke and the air of solemn, dense earnestness that filled
the room would come the inevitable helpless cry:
"I don't get it! Repeat that, Mr. Rooney!" Most of them were so stupid
or careless that they wouldn't admit when they didn't understand, and
Amory was of the latter. He found it impossible to study conic sections;
something in their calm and tantalizing respectability breathing
defiantly through Mr. Rooney's fetid parlors distorted their equations
into insoluble anagrams. He made a last night's effort with the
proverbial wet towel, and then blissfully took the exam, wondering
unhappily why all the color and ambition of the spring before had faded
out. Somehow, with the defection of Isabelle the idea of undergraduate
success had loosed its grasp on his imagination, and he contemplated a
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