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A Master's Degree

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CHAPTER I. "DEAN FUNNYBONE" Nature they say, doth dote,And cannot make a manSave on some worn-out plan,Repeating us by rote:For him her Old-World moulds aside she threw,.............................With stuff untainted,shaped a hero new.—LOWELL

DR. LLOYD FENNEBEN, Dean of Sunrise College, had migrated to the Walnut Valley with the founding of the school here. In fact, he had brought the college with him when he came hither, and had set it, as a light not to be hidden, on the crest of that high ridge that runs east of the little town of Lagonda Ledge. And the town eagerly took the new school to itself; at once its pride and profit. Yea, the town rises and sets with Sunrise. When the first gleam of morning, hidden by the east ridge from the Walnut Valley, glints redly from the south windows of the college dome in the winter time, and from the north windows in the summer time, the town bestirs; itself, and the factory whistles blow. And when the last crimson glory of evening puts a halo of flame about the brow of Sunrise, the people know that out beyond the Walnut River the day is passing, and the pearl-gray mantle of twilight is deepening to velvety darkness on the wide, quiet prairie lands.

Lagonda Ledge was a better place after the college settled permanently above it. Some improvident citizens took a new hold on life, while some undesirables who had lived in lawless infamy skulked across the Walnut and disappeared in that rough picturesque region full of uncertainties that lies behind the west bluffs of the stream. All this, after the college had found an abiding place on the limestone ridge. For Sunrise had been a migratory bird before reaching the outskirts of Lagonda Ledge. As a fulfillment of prophecy, it had arisen from the visions and pockets of some Boston scholars, and it had come to the West and was made flesh—or stone—and dwelt among men on the outskirts of a booming young Kansas town.

Lloyd Fenneben was just out of Harvard when Dr. Joshua Wream, his step-brother, many years his senior, professor of all the dead languages ever left unburied, had put a considerable fortune into his hands, and into his brain the dream of a life-work—even the building of a great university in the West. For the Wreams were a stubborn, self-willed, bookish breed, who held that salvation of souls could come only through possession of a college diploma. Young Fenneben had come to Kansas with all his youth and health and money, with high ideals and culture and ambition for success and dreams of honor—and, hidden deep down, the memory of some sort of love affair, but that was his own business. With this dream of a new Harvard on the western prairies, he had burned his bridges behind him, and in an unbusiness-like way, relying too much upon a board of trustees whom he had interested in his plans he had eagerly begun his task, struggling to adapt the West to his university model, measuring all men and means by the scholarly rule of his Alma Mater. Being a young man, he took himself full seriously, and it was a tremendous blow to his sense of dignity when the youthful Jayhawkers at the outset dubbed him "Dean Funnybone"—a name he was never to lose....