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Kathleen - Chapter 3 Post by :chrisf Category :Long Stories Author :Christopher Morley Date :May 2012 Read :623

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Kathleen - Chapter 3

CHAPTER III

By the time that Carter and King had written their chapters and read them aloud, the Scorpions were all frankly adorers of Kathleen; by midterm she had become an obsession. Eric Twiston and Bob Graham, "doing a Cornstalk" (as walking on Cornmarket Street is elegantly termed) were wont to dub any really delightful girl they saw as "a Kathleen sort of person." At the annual dinner of the club, which took place in a private dining room at the "Clarry" (the Clarendon Hotel) in February, Forbes was called upon to respond to the toast "The Real Kathleen." His voice, tremulous with emotion and absinthe frappe, nearly failed him; but he managed to stammer a few phrases which, thought at the time to be extemporaneous, called forth loud applause; but it was found later that he had jotted them down on the tablecloth during the soup and fish courses. "Fellow Scorpers," he said, "I mean you chaps, look here, I'm not much at this dispatch-box business, but--hem--I want to say that I regard Kathleen with feelings of iridescent emotion. I feel sure that she is a pronounced brunette and that the Blue Flapper we all used to see at the East Ocker is nowhere. I've been playing lackers (lacrosse) this term and I give you my word that when I've been bloody well done in and had an absolute needle of funk I had only to think of Kathleen to buck me up. Hem. Now gentlemen, you may think I'm drunk (loud cries of _No_!) but I want to say in truth and soberness that any man who thinks he's got Kathleen for bondwoman--hem--has me to reckon with!"

The applause at this speech was so immoderate that a party of Boston ladies dining with a Chautauqua lecturer in the Clarendon's main dining room, shuddered and began looking up time-tables to Stratford.

By this time the serial story had grown to the length of seven or eight chapters, and the Scorpions became so engrossed in the fortunes of the Kenyons (so, for convenience, they had dubbed Kathleen's family) that at the dinner a separate health was drunk to each character in the story, and one of the members was called upon to reply. Falstaff Carter responded to the toast to "Joe," and recounted his secret investigations into the number of members of the university who bore that name. He claimed to have tabulated from the university almanac 256 men so christened, and offered to go into the life history of any or all of them. He said that he was happy to say that the only Joseph who seemed at all likely to be a poet was a scrubby little man at Teddy Hall, who wore spectacles and a ragged exhibitioner's gown and did not seem to threaten a serious rivalry to any Scorpion bent on supplanting him. "I also find," he added, "that the master of the New College and Magdalen beagles is called Joe. He is a member of the Bullingdon, and if he is the cheese it's distinctly mooters whether any of the Scorpers have a ghostly show; but I vote, gentlemen, that we don't crock at this stage of the game."

It was decided at the dinner that during the ensuing Easter vacation the Scorpions should make a trip to Wolverhampton, en masse, for the purpose of picketing Bancroft Road and finding out what Kathleen was really like. And then, after singing "langers and godders" (Auld Lang Syne and God Save the King) the meeting broke up and the members dispersed darkly in various directions to avoid the proctors.

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CHAPTER VIIAs Johnny Blair approached number 318, Bancroft Road, a little before seven o'clock that bland March evening, he bore within his hardy breast certain delicacies, remorses, doubts, and revulsions. But all these were transcended by his overmastering determination to see this superb and long-worshipped maiden near at hand. Bancroft Road proved to be a docile suburban thoroughfare, lined with comfortable villas and double houses, each standing a little back from the street with a small garden in front. A primrose-coloured afterglow lingered in the sky, and the gas lights along the pavement still burned pale and white. Just as the
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CHAPTER IIWhen Forbes had finished there was general laughter and applause. The whimsical idea of building a tale around the persons of the letter was one which his playful mind was competent to develop, and he had written a deft and amusing introduction. Taking "Joe" as his subject he had sketched that gentleman's character with a touch of irony. He had made him a Rhodes Scholar from Indiana (evoking good-natured protest from Minters) and had carried him on a vacation to Guilford House, a small hotel in London much frequented by Rhodes Scholars. There he had made him meet Kathleen who,
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