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man and read Shaw and Chesterton enough to keep his mind from the edges
of decadence--now suddenly all his mental processes of the last year and
a half seemed stale and futile--a petty consummation of himself... and
like a sombre background lay that incident of the spring before, that
filled half his nights with a dreary terror and made him unable to pray.
He was not even a Catholic, yet that was the only ghost of a code that
he had, the gaudy, ritualistic, paradoxical Catholicism whose prophet
was Chesterton, whose claqueurs were such reformed rakes of literature
as Huysmans and Bourget, whose American sponsor was Ralph Adams Cram,
with his adulation of thirteenth-century cathedrals--a Catholicism which
Amory found convenient and ready-made, without priest or sacraments or
He could not sleep, so he turned on his reading-lamp and, taking down
the "Kreutzer Sonata," searched it carefully for the germs of Burne's
enthusiasm. Being Burne was suddenly so much realler than being clever.
Yet he sighed... here were other possible clay feet.
He thought back through two years, of Burne as a hurried, nervous
freshman, quite submerged in his brother's personality. Then he
remembered an incident of sophomore year, in which Burne had been
suspected of the leading role.
Dean Hollister had been heard by a large group arguing with a
taxi-driver, who had driven him from the junction. In the course of the
altercation the dean remarked that he "might as well buy the taxicab."
He paid and walked off, but next morning he entered his private office
to find the taxicab itself in the space usually occupied by his desk,
bearing a sign which read "Property of Dean Hollister. Bought and Paid
for."... It took two expert mechanics half a day to dissemble it into
its minutest parts and remove it, which only goes to prove the rare
energy of sophomore humor under efficient leadership.
Then again, that very fall, Burne had caused a sensation. A certain
Phyllis Styles, an intercollegiate prom-trotter, had failed to get her
yearly invitation to the Harvard-Princeton game.
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