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The Quest Of The Lost Digamma
by [?]

But chops in these modern days are retrograde. Sheep have fallen to a decadent race. Cheese has lost its cunning. Someone, alas, as the story says, has killed the hen that laid the golden egg. Mory’s is sunk and gone. Its faded prints of the Old Brick Row, its tables carved with students’ names, its brown Tobies in their three-cornered hats, the brasses of the tiny bar, the rickety rooms themselves–these rise from the past like genial ghosts and beckon us toward pleasant memories.

Such was the zeal in those older days which the members of the Lost Digamma spent upon their quest that belated pedestrians–if the legend of the district be believed–have stopped upon the curb and have inquired the meaning of the glad shouts that issued from the upper windows, and they have gone off marveling at the enthusiasm attendant on this high endeavor. It is rumored that once when the excitement of the chase had gone to an unusual height and the students were beating their Tobies on the table, one of them, a fellow of uncommon ardor, lunging forward from his chair, got salt upon the creature’s tail. The exploit overturned the table and so rocked the house that Louis, who was the guardian of the place, put his nose above the stairs and cooled the meeting. Had it not been for his interference–he was a good-natured fellow but unacquainted with the frenzy that marks the scholar–the lost digamma might have been trapped, to the lasting glory of the college.

As to the further progress of the club I am not informed. Doubtless it ran an honorable course and passed on from class to class the tradition of its high ambition, but never again was the lost digamma so nearly in its grasp. If it still meets upon its midnight labors, a toothless member boasts of that night of its topmost glory, and those who have gathered to his words rap their stale unprofitable mugs upon the table.

It would be unjust to assume that you are so poor a student as myself. Doubtless you are a scholar and can discourse deeply of the older centuries. You know the ancient works of Tweedledum and can distinguish to a hair’s breadth ‘twixt him and Tweedledee. Learning is candy on your tooth. Perhaps you stroke your sagacious beard and give a nimble reason for the lightning. To you the hills have whispered how they came, and the streams their purpose and ambition. You have studied the first shrinkage of the earth when the plains wrinkled and broke into mountain peaks. The mystery of the stars is to you as familiar as your garter. If such depth is yours, I am content to sit before you like a bucket below a tap.

At your banquet I sit as a poor relation. If the viands hold, I fork a cold morsel from your dish….

But modesty must not gag me. I do myself somewhat lean towards knowledge. I run to a dictionary on a disputed word, and I point my inquiring nose upon the page like a careful schoolman. On a spurt I pry into an uncertain date, but I lack the perseverance and the wakefulness for sustained endeavor. To repair my infirmity, I frequently go among those of steadier application, if haply their devotion may prove contagious. It was but lately that I dined with a group of the Cognoscenti. There were light words at first, as when a juggler carelessly tosses up a ball or two just to try his hand before he displays his genius–a jest or two, into which I entered as an equal. In these shallow moments we waded through our soup. But we had hardly got beyond the fish when the company plunged into greater depth. I soon discovered that I was among persons skilled in those economic and social studies that now most stir us. My neighbor on the left offered to gossip with me on the latest evaluations and eventuations–for such were her pleasing words–in the department of knowledge dearest to her. While I was still fumbling for a response, my neighbor on the right, abandoning her meat, informed me of the progress of a survey of charitable organizations that was then under way. By mischance, however, while flipping up the salad on my fork, I dropped a morsel on the cloth, and I was so intent in manoeuvring my plates and spoons to cover up the speck, that I lost a good part of her improving discourse.