They talked of the war rather drowsily for a while; it was an interesting but not an exciting topic: the thing they spoke of was so far away. It was in foreign countries where they had never been and had no acquaintances; and both the cause and the issue seemed to be in confusion, though evidently Germany had “started” the trouble. Only one thing emerged as absolutely clear and proved: there could be no disagreement about Germany’s “dirty work,” as Fred defined it, in violating Belgium. And this stirred Ramsey to declare with justice that “dirty work” had likewise been done upon himself by the official person, whoever he or she was, who had given him the German side of the evening’s debate. After this moment of fervour, the conversation languished, and Brother Colburn rose to go.
“Well, I’m glad you gave that Linski a fine little punch, Brother Milholland,” he said, at the door. “It won’t do you any harm in the ‘frat,’ or with the Lumen either. And don’t be discouraged about your debating. You’ll learn. Anybody might have got rattled by having to argue against as clever and good-looking a girl as that!”
The roommates gave each other a look of serious puzzlement as the door closed. “Well, Brother Colburn is a mighty nice fellow,” Fred said. “He’s kind of funny, though.”
Ramsey assented, and then, as the two prepared for bed, they entered into a further discussion of their senior friend. They liked him “all right,” they said, but he certainly must be kind of queer, and they couldn’t just see how he had “ever managed to get where he was” in the “frat” and the Lumen and the university.
Ramsey passed the slightly disfigured Linski on the campus next day without betraying any embarrassment or making a sign of recognition. Fred Mitchell told his roommate, chuckling, that Linski had sworn to “get” him, and, not knowing Fred’s affiliations, had made him the confidant of his oath. Fred had given his blessing, he said, upon the enterprise, and advised Linski to use a brick. “He’ll hit you on the head with it,” said the light-hearted Fred, falling back upon this old joke. “Then you can catch it as it bounces off and throw it back at him.”
However, Linski proved to be merely an episode, not only so far as Ramsey was concerned but in the Lumen and in the university as well. His suspension from the Lumen was for a year, and so cruel a punishment it proved for this born debater that he noisily declared he would found a debating society himself, and had a poster printed and distributed announcing the first meeting of “The Free Speech and Masses’ Rights Council.” Several town loafers attended the meeting, but the only person connected with the university who came was an oriental student, a Chinese youth of almost intrusive amiability. Linski made a fiery address, the townsmen loudly appluading his advocacy of an embargo on munitions and the distribution