" The bartender was shuffling toward them, amiably ready for homicide. Instantly, by some tricky sort of magic, there were two glasses in front of him. With a smirk of self-admiration he sucked in the raw Bourbon. But since the last night of the football season, with the glorious bonfire in which the young gentlemen had burned up nine tar barrels, the sign of the Jew tailor, and the president's tabby-cat, Elmer had been tortured by boredom.
You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at Elmer Gantry was drunk. It was a 'cello, his voice, and in the enchantment of it you did not hear his slang, his boasting, his smut, and the dreadful violence which (at this period) he performed on singulars and plurals. Depew, he had known the intoxication of holding an audience with his voice as with his closed hand, holding it, shaking it, lifting it.
He was eloquently drunk, lovingly and pugnaciously drunk. Luxuriously as a wayfarer drinking cool beer they caressed the phrases in linked sweetness long drawn out: Elmer wept a little, and blubbered, "Lez go out and start a scrap. You get somebody to pick on you, and I'll come along and knock his block off. The debating set urged him to join them, but they were rabbit-faced and spectacled young men, and he viewed as obscene the notion of digging statistics about immigration and the products of San Domingo out of dusty spotted books in the dusty spotted library. He liked to know things about people dead these thousand years, and he liked doing canned miracles in chemistry. He'd get out and finish law school and never open another book--kid the juries along and hire some old coot to do the briefs.
He was supposed to be the most popular man in college; every one believed that every one else adored him; and none of them wanted to be with him.
They were all a bit afraid, a bit uncomfortable, and more than a bit resentful.
That was a very funny incident, and he laughed greatly. You might as well go find a nice little fight and get it out of your system! Elmer Gantry, best known to classmates as Hell-cat, had, this autumn of 1902, been football captain and led the best team Terwillinger College had known in ten years.
A piece of newspaper sprang up, apparently by itself, and slid along the floor. Then unknown invisible blocks, miles of them, his head clearing, and he made grave announcement to a Jim Lefferts who suddenly seemed to be with him: "I gotta lick that fellow." "All right, all right. But still, he was to be allowed one charming fight, and he revived as he staggered industriously in search of it. For the first time in weeks he was relieved from the boredom of Terwillinger College.
"He'll never hold any office again, not if I can help it! Elmer forced himself into the managership in Junior year by threatening not to play football if he were not elected. They'll vote against you." "Let me catch 'em at it! Honest, Elm--Hell-cat--I'm just speaking for your own good. Elmer was elected president of the senior class--unanimously. He reasoned that men who seemed chilly to him were envious and afraid, and that gave him a feeling of greatness.
" muttered one Eddie Fislinger, who, though he was a meager and rusty-haired youth with protruding teeth and an uneasy titter, had attained power in the class by always being present at everything, and by the piety and impressive intimacy of his prayers in the Y. He appointed Jim Lefferts chairman of the ticket committee, and between them, by only the very slightest doctoring of the books, they turned forty dollars to the best of all possible uses. " observed a Judas who three minutes before had been wrestling with God under Eddie's coaching. Thus it happened that he had no friend save Jim Lefferts.
(The springs have dried up and the Gritzmachers have gone to Los Angeles, to sell bungalows and delicatessen.) It huddles on the prairie, which is storm-racked in winter, frying and dusty in summer, lovely only in the grass-rustling spring or drowsy autumn.