“I take it back!” Fred interposed, hastily. “But you just listen to me; you look out—letting her think you’re on her side like that.”
Ramsey looked dogged. “I’m not goin’ around always arguin’ about everything when arguin’ would just hurt people’s feelings about something they’re all excited about, and wouldn’t do a bit o’ good in the world—and you know yourself just talk hardly ever settles anything—so I don’t—”
“Aha!” Fred cried. “I thought so! Now you listen to me—”
“I won’t. I—”
But at this moment they were interrupted. Someone slyly opened the door, and a snowball deftly thrown from without caught Ramsey upon the back of the neck and head, where it flattened and displayed itself as an ornamental star. Shouting fiercely, both boys sprang up, ran to the door, were caught there in a barrage of snowballs, ducked through it in spite of all damage, charged upon a dozen besweatered figures awaiting them and began a mad battle in the blizzard. Some of their opponents treacherously joined them, and turned upon the ambushers.
In the dusk the merry conflict waged up and down the snow-covered lawn, and the combatants threw and threw, or surged back and forth, or clenched and toppled over into snow banks, yet all coming to chant an extemporized battle-cry in chorus, even as they fought the most wildly.
“Who? Who? Who?” they chanted. “Who? Who? Who says there ain’t goin’ to be no war?”
So everywhere over the country, that winter of 1916, there were light-hearted boys skylarking—at college, or on the farms; and in the towns the young machinists snowballed one another as they came from the shops; while on this Sunday of the “frat” snow fight probably several hundreds of thousands of youthful bachelors, between the two oceans, went walking, like Ramsey, each with a girl who could forget the weather. Yet boys of nineteen and in the twenties were not light-hearted all the time that winter and that spring and that summer. Most of them knew long, thoughtful moments, as Ramsey did, when they seemed to be thinking not of girls or work or play—nor of anything around them, but of some more vital matter or prospect. And at such times they were grave, but not ungentle.
For the long strain was on the country; underneath all its outward seeming of things going on as usual there shook a deep vibration, like the air trembling to vast organ pipes in diapasons too profound to reach the ear as sound: one felt, not heard, thunder in the ground under one’s feet. The succession of diplomatic Notes came to an end after the torpedoing of the Sussex; and at last the tricky ruling Germans in Berlin gave their word to murder no more, and people said, “This means peace for America, and all is well for us,” but everybody knew in his heart that nothing was well for us, that there was no peace.