Chapter I.Due West to Denver.
Commencement week at Notre Dame ended in a blaze of glory. Multitudes of guests who had been camping for a night or two in the recitation rooms—our temporary dormitories—gave themselves up to the boyish delights of school-life, and set numerous examples which the students were only too glad to follow. The boat race on the lake was a picture; the champion baseball match, a companion piece; but the highly decorated prize scholars, glittering with gold and silver medals, and badges of satin and bullion; the bevies of beautiful girls who for once—once only in the year—were given the liberty of the lawns, the campus, and the winding forest ways, that make of Notre Dame an elysium in summer; the frequent and inspiring blasts of the University Band, and the general joy that filled every heart to overflowing, rendered the last day of the scholastic year romantic to a degree and memorable forever.
There was no sleep during the closing night—not one solitary wink; all laws were dead-letters—alas that they should so soon arise again from the dead!—and when the wreath of stars that crowns the golden statue of Our Lady on the high dome, two hundred feet in air, and the wide-sweeping crescent under her shining feet, burst suddenly into flame, and shed a lustre that was welcomed for miles and miles over the plains of Indiana—then, I assure you, we were all so deeply touched that we knew not whether to laugh or to weep, and I shall not tell you which we did. The moon was very full that night, and I didn't blame it!
But the picnic really began at the foot of the great stairway in front of the dear old University next morning. Five hundred possible presidents were to be distributed broadcast over the continent; five hundred sons and heirs to be returned with thanks to the yearning bosoms of their respective families. The floodgates of the trunk-rooms were thrown open, and a stream of Saratogas went thundering to the station at South Bend, two miles away. Hour after hour, and indeed for several days, huge trucks and express wagons plied to and fro, groaning under the burden of well-checked luggage. It is astonishing to behold how big a trunk a mere boy may claim for his very own; but it must be remembered that your schoolboy lives for several years within the brass-bound confines of a Saratoga. It is his bureau, his wardrobe, his private library, his museum and toy shop, the receptacle of all that is near and dear to him; it is, in brief, his sanctum sanctorum, the one inviolate spot in his whole scholastic career of which he, and he alone, holds the key.
We came down with the tide in the rear of the trunk freshet. The way being more or less clear, navigation was declared open. The next moment saw a procession of chariots, semi-circus wagons and barouches filled with homeward-bound schoolboys and their escorts, dashing at a brisk trot toward the railroad station. Banners were flying, shouts rent the air; familiar forms in cassock and biretta waved benedictions from all points of the compass; while the gladness and the sadness of the hour were perpetuated by the aid of instantaneous photography....