Ramsey kept to their rooms more than his comrade did, one reason for this domesticity being that he “had to study longer than Fred did, to keep up”; and another reason may have been a greater shyness than Fred possessed—if, indeed, Fred possessed any shyness at all. For Fred was a cheery spirit difficult to abash, and by the coming of spring knew all of the best-looking girl students in the place—knew them well enough, it appeared, to speak of them not merely by their first names but by abbreviations of these. He had become fashion’s sprig, a “fusser” and butterfly, and he reproached his roommate for shunning the ladies.
“Well, the truth is, Fred,” said Ramsey one day, responding darkly;—“well, you see the truth is, Fred, I’ve had a—a—I’ve had an experience—”
So, only, did he refer to Milla.
Fred said no more; and it was comprehended between them that the past need never be definitely referred to again, but that it stood between Ramsey and any entertainment to be obtained of the gentler but less trustworthy sex. And when other Brethren of the “frat” would have pressed Ramsey to join them in various frivolous enterprises concerning “co-eds,” or to be shared by “co-eds,” Fred thought it better to explain to them privately (all being sacred among Brethren) how Ramsey’s life, so far as Girls went, had been toyed with by one now a Married Woman.
This created a great deal of respect for Ramsey. It became understood everywhere that he was a woman-hater.
That early spring of 1915 the two boys and their friends and Brethren talked more of the war than they had in the autumn, though the subject was not an all at absorbing one; for the trenches in Flanders and France were still of the immense, remote distance. By no stretch of imagination could these wet trenches be thought greatly to concern the “frat,” the Lumen, or the university. Really important matters were the doings of the “Track Team,” now training in the “Gym” and on the ’Varsity Field, and, more vital still, the prospects of the Nine. But in May there came a shock which changed things for a time.
The Lusitania brought to every American a revelation of what had lain so deep in his own heart that often he had not realized it was there. When the Germans hid in the sea and sent down the great merchant ship, with American babies and their mothers, and gallantly dying American gentlemen, there came a change even to girls and boys and professors, until then so preoccupied with their own little aloof world thousands of miles from the murder.