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CHAPTER 4. Narcissus Off Duty
During Princeton's transition period, that is, during Amory's last
two years there, while he saw it change and broaden and live up to its
Gothic beauty by better means than night parades, certain individuals
arrived who stirred it to its plethoric depths. Some of them had been
freshmen, and wild freshmen, with Amory; some were in the class below;
and it was in the beginning of his last year and around small tables at
the Nassau Inn that they began questioning aloud the institutions that
Amory and countless others before him had questioned so long in secret.
First, and partly by accident, they struck on certain books, a definite
type of biographical novel that Amory christened "quest" books. In the
"quest" book the hero set off in life armed with the best weapons and
avowedly intending to use them as such weapons are usually used, to push
their possessors ahead as selfishly and blindly as possible, but the
heroes of the "quest" books discovered that there might be a more
magnificent use for them. "None Other Gods," "Sinister Street," and "The
Research Magnificent" were examples of such books; it was the latter
of these three that gripped Burne Holiday and made him wonder in the
beginning of senior year how much it was worth while being a diplomatic
autocrat around his club on Prospect Avenue and basking in the high
lights of class office. It was distinctly through the channels of
aristocracy that Burne found his way. Amory, through Kerry, had had a
vague drifting acquaintance with him, but not until January of senior
year did their friendship commence.
"Heard the latest?" said Tom, coming in late one drizzly evening with
that triumphant air he always wore after a successful conversational
"No. Somebody flunked out? Or another ship sunk?"
"Worse than that. About one-third of the junior class are going to
resign from their clubs."
"Spirit of reform and all that. Burne Holiday is behind it. The club
presidents are holding a meeting to-night to see if they can find a
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