Page:Avon Fantasy Reader 10.djvu/102

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A group of young men from a dismissed class was passing, and had stopped for a moment.

"I say, the gostak distims the doshes!" said a fine-looking young fellow. His face was pale and strained looking.

The young man facing him sneered derisively:

"Aw your grandmother! Don't be a feeble—"

He never finished. The first fellow's fist caught him in the cheek. Several books dropped to the ground. In a moment the two had clinched and were rolling on the ground, fists flying up and down, smears of blood appearing here and there. The others surrounded them, and for a moment appeared to enjoy the spectacle; but suddenly recollected that it looked rather disgraceful on a University campus, and after a lively tussle separated the combatants. Twenty of them, pulling in two directions, tugged them apart.

The first boy strained in the grasp of his captors; his white face was flecked with blood, and he panted for breath.

"Insult!" he shouted, giving another mighty heave to get free. He looked contemptuously around. "The whole bunch of you ought to learn to stand up for your honor. The gostak distims the doshes!"

That was the astonishing incident that these words called to my mind. I turned back to my newspapers.

"Slogan Sweeps the Country," proclaimed the sub-heads. "Ringing Expression of National Spirit! Enthusiasm Spreads Like Wildfire! The new patriotic slogan is gaining ground rapidly," the leading article went on. "The fact that it has covered the country almost instantaneously seems to indicate that it fills a deep and long-felt want in the hearts of the people. It was first uttered during a speech in Walkingdon by that majestic figure in modern statesmanship, Senator Harob. The beautiful sentiment, the wonderful emotion of this sublime thought, are epoch-making. It is a great conception, doing credit to a great man, and worthy of being the guiding light of a great people—"

That was the gist of everything I could find in the papers. I fell asleep, still puzzled about the thing. I was puzzled, because—as I see now and didn't see then—I was trained in the analytical methods of physical science, and knew little or nothing about the ways and emotions of the masses of the people.

In the morning the senseless expression popped into my head as soon I awoke. I determined to waylay the first member of the Vibens family who showed up, and demand the meaning of the thing. It happened to be John.

"John, what's a gostak?"

John's face lighted up with pleasure. He threw out his chest and a look of pride replaced the pleasure. His eyes blazed, and with a consuming enthusiasm, he shook hands with me, as the deacons shake hands with a new convert—a sort of glad welcome.

"The gostak!" he exclaimed. "Hurray for the gostak!"

"But what is a gostak?"