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College Boys' Pranks

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Tho college secret society has becomi a great and powerful factor in Americai society. To tho uninitiated it may simply tho resultof acettain boyishness and a desire for companionship, whicl will afford enlarged opportunities to decrease the eize of the father'fl bank account. But to those outside the mystii clrcles, who ivo even passing notice t( corrent events, it must be apparent thai tliero is Borne good cause for their existence; for in spite of mach adverse criticism they have Ifved and flourished 'm over a hundred years, and among their niembers are numbered some of the most noted public men of the century. Baird, in his history of college fraternities, and Porter, in his art.' the same subject, dato the birth of thes organizatione back to 1Ï76 at William and Mary College, Virginia. Then and tlicre the Phi Beta Kappa, still alive and full of vigor, began is career. Il was not then, however, a college societj in tho modern sense of the word, with all the blood-curdling mysteries of initiation which now cause the embryi collegiate to start up Erom sleep at midnight in a nightmare of horrible expectation. The old Bocietjes, fojuaded on a literary basis, could npt livo uowadaya; yetweof the youngei ge(eratioii thmk we have proof tliat the modern college society, with its main object the lishment of social intercourse and a close personal friendship among student, does far muro good in ways perliaps least credited or expected by an outsider than COUld possibly be dODe by uny organization of a literary character. I have seen old men who at the most luid but a few years to live come back to the ammal college society reunión, and with tears in thoir eyes and voicea trembling, teil that they owed much ol their success in life to the influentes and training of their college society life, and that the truest friends were those tirst met within the charmed circle of the college club. They wero men whoso mark in life had been made, men whose word was truth itself. It must be a great power that will drag thern back year after year to testify to the truth of college secret societies. A boy's society life begins as soon as he has declared bis intentions to enter any particular college. If his head is levea he will make the most of that happy time. He is the oly et of the eoneentrated attention of al! various iraternities of that college. It is a Btruggle betweeu them :s to which will capture tlie prize. They Qatter liim ingeniously, feed his van i tv and make him think that he is about the !)■ and best Eellow alive. Suppersf with perhaps wicked little bottles of wine, ilood in upon liiiu faster than he can handle them. Nothing is too good for him. If he has a sister, she comes in for her share of the fun, too. She goes to the theater more times in the week than she usually gets opportunities to go in a month. Tliat is where the "rushers," as the society men who engineer this little game are called, show the largeness of their heads. They ftrst "get solid" with the sister. This, of course, flatters tlie boy, but that isn't the main object. An older sister usually has considerable influence with the object of tbeir attention, and if the boy is at all doubtful, a iudicious amount of attention to the sister will often make her eloquent and enthusiastie in talking the victimJoveT to a proper appreciation of " those nice young men." About this time we take it for granted that the youth bas been pledged." If lie is particularly observing he will perhaps notice that although the men of the society of which he is to be a star continue to be very pleasant and polite, they do not tumble over each other in their neck-breaking efl'orts to afford him entertainment as before. They are sure of him now. He is left to entertain himself for many hours that were before fllled with engagements for suppers and theater parties. From tliis time till his initiation his mind is skillfully playee! apon by bis future companions until lie is about ready to back out. Hints of the darkest type are dropped in his hearing, a reckless disregard oí human Ufe is gloomily expressed in a stage "aside," the condition oí the rack and thnmbscrew is easually eommented upon, until to a retiring and uncombative freshman the whole atmosphere of anticipation seems tinged with a terrible red. And what of the realization ? Well, here is the reminiscence of a gray-haired oíd man, a gradúate of Harvard, and a man who has some reputation in the world of letters. "On the night of my initiation into a society - I cannot name it in this connection, for that would be a breach of loyalty - I went to the mystic hall with a heavy heart and shaky legs. This particular band of brothers had a special reputation for ferocity, and 1 knew well enough that it was niore than idle talk, too. But I was plcdged, and 'forward' was the word. I iinally found myself rnounting a pair of stairs in utter darkness. This was something of a feat, for at intervals a board would turn up under my fcet and one leg would deseend into some unknown abyss, to the great disadvantage of my best trousers and shins. At the very top I carefully jmshed open a door and sprang into a sort of water trap, from which about three gallons of the fluid, descending in a big baptism, soaked me coinpletely. Haviug passed the water ordeal, I entered 'and was violent ly scizcd by severa] shadowy forma, who appeared as a sort oí luminoua grinning skulls, which effect is produced by pulliñg a shirt sleeve over the face and rubbing it with phoephorous. Just try a shirt sIppvo niask, and nee if it isn't a horrible looking sight, (-ven in day time. Well, I was soon rid of my clothing and stretched out on a plank, on whicfi were placed vai'ious kinds of burrs and thistlcs- mything but a downy bed. Then there carne a low, tomb-like voice : 'Fetch the red-hot iron, Diabolus.' Soon I could through the darkness the gleam ,ii fiery metal; nearer and aearer it came. The terrible voice whispered : 'Brand hfan in the back.' A horrible bolt of pain flashed down my spinal column, accompanied by the soumi and actual siiiell of burning flesh. With a yell that no stoic could have repressed, I leaped from the plank and stood in the full glare of many lighted lamps, with the societ; members dancing around me in hilariou glee. The branding? Well, they usei a piece of ice which gives much thi same sensation as ;i hot iron, while ; fine beefsteak was actually branded furnishing my sensations of sound ani 11." All tliis happened long ftgo, and vet : case occurredat Harvard only 10 yeara ago which sarpasses it for cruelty, if not for ghastliness. An applicant for admisaion In a secret society was taken to the gymashtm by night and was ftrst pulled up by tackles fastened to liis wrists, and after that by the thumljs. His treatmi'iil was moro than the atudenf could stand, md he nearly died from the effeets of it. Another case was of a more pleasant nature. The neophyte was led blindfolded through anumberof Boston's crooked streete until he was thoroughly mystifled. Then he was taken to the highesf gallery of a brilliantly lighted theatre and made to lean over the rail, win n the blindfold was suddenly whisked off. The sensation of that moment, the student afterward said, unexpectedly onding bimself in the glare of the lights and looking far down into the abyss of human beings, can better be imagined than described. With the gradual modernizing of things at Harvard has come the new system of inflicting torment upon candidates who i apply for admiseion Lnto the secret societies - or into the secret society, to be more accurate - for the D. K. I'.., or Dickey, ib the only one that makes its new members suffer to any extent. ín place of terroriam in semiprivacy, has come exposure to ridicule in full publicity - a, mucb worse thing for the thin-skinned student to bear, Piendish ingenuity is displayed in devisiljg plans for th" niortificatíon of the luckless applicant, and the more retiring tlio subject the more startliag la from the conventional does he have to adopt, unless he recants, which is extremely rare. Borne of the most original and laughableof these de vices areworth a moment's reading. The favorite mode of torment seems to be to make a man go out and sell something, or perform some manual labor in the streets. Xot long ago a student, who was very much in love with a pretty Cambridge girl, was compelled to go to the house of hor párente with a Jew peddler's pack and sell all the members of the i'ainily the cheap handkerchiefs and atrocious brass jewelry with which lit was loaded down. The match was not broken off, but there was ii frigid coolness in that house until the real object of the visit was afterward explained. Another ricli and immaculate young swell was ordered into aditch where some Italiana were digjing in the main street at Cambridge, and into it he went with piek and shov■I, ciad in dress suit, which was made part of the command. Rubber boots, .ui ulster and a fur cap were frequentlv ordered on the victim in the hottest days of term time, and they must be seen on him whenever he appeara outlide his room. Cambridge, like other uilege collego towns, has become partly iccustotned to these college pranks, and whenever anyone is seen apon thestreets ■ partieularly like a lunatic, people clasa 'him at once as a candidate íor the college society. Au Amherst society rigs up a very ealistic robes for the entertainment of he candidato, and i' hia nérvea are not retty strong his hair is apt to rise. 11 is ■Satanic majesty ia remarkably true to ;radition, the society having gone to the expense of having a coatume of the mghtest red, including a cloven foot uid i well developed forked tail. In one society at Union college the neothyte is led through i small brook, but is he is allowed to changa his shoes ifter the ceremony it doesn'l hurt him iny. At one of the large colleges not iiany years ago the guides losi tlieir fray, walked the freshman off a precijice, and he was killed by the fall. In one of the societies at another eolege the victim ia led into the hall blind'oided. The room is perfectly dark, so hal he could not see anything if the landages were removed. He is then taken by two strong men, put intoaregïlation graveyard coffln.M ith holes bored n the lid so that he will not suffocate, and the cover is screwed down tight. The building has a shaft to the cellar, and the coffin, witli the victim in it, is slowly lowered. It is a truly horrible ïxperience, and several youngmen with shaky nerves have tainted during the ceremony. In the cellar, which is fitted up with all sorts of ghostly applianees, the coffint is put on an altar oí logs, sucli as is supposed to have been milt in olden time tor Isaac's benefit. Tlie cover is removed and the bandage oosened, so tliat it can be easily removed. There is a horrible groaning and clinking of chains, and suddenly the altar, which has been saturated with ïarmless chemicals, blazes up, and the andage. removed t'rom the neophyte's eyes. As he raises himself up in the coffin - provided he has nerve enough eft - he sees about the room two or three skeletons, which have been rubbed with )hosphorus and glow vividly in the larkness. They are rigged with pnlleys and ropes and slowly they raise their )ony nngers and point them at hini, while a sepulchral voice bids him get out of the coffin. With a show of courige not at all warranted by liis feelings, ie obeys. A single taper is lighted, and ie sees in the dim ray several masked igures in white robes standing about iim. The cold elammy body of a snakc s then put in his hand and : is made o swear uponit tliat he will keep the secreta of the order to his dying day and lefend them with hislife if necessary. A society a Lehigh univorsity luis siiilt an inclined chute from garret to cellar along one of the wallsof the house, ind tho newly iledged collegian isstarted lown this on his college career. There s a soft, padded cushion at the bottom. so that he arrivés safely. All out of ireath, he is brought before a creature nade up horrible in lii deformity, and nado lo swear to do more things than seven ordinary men would live long nough to perform. College life isn'1 the real article unless . manbelonga to a first clasa society. i'hc terrors of initiation are but transiory whilc the benefits derived from the iseociations and f riendships of fraternity ife nn lasting. There is one thing that icandidate Eoradmission should remem)er. All the other men in the society 'iii through the same "racket" that he vill be pul through and canic out alivc nul


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