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Chapter 7: Class of 1894
from Sabrina, The Class Goddess of Amherst College by Max Shoop 1910

The class of '94 was now in its Freshman year.  It was an energetic class and had determined to capture Sabrina.  A committee was appointed and charged with the duty of rescuing her from '93, the then Sophomore class.  Nothing was known of her until one day late in the spring President Wood of '94 learned through his well organized system of scouts that the banquet was being held in the Tremont House at Boston.  Several other men of '94, who were intensely interested in the subject, as soon as they heard of the banquet, formed a pool and sent Ben Hyde well financed, to Boston, with the sole instruction to get Sabrina.  "Hyde went to Boston and found that the '93 men had really been at the Tremont House the night before.  By a judicious use of gold he succeeded in extracting from the head porter of the hotel the fact that a large box had been shipped that morning to Springfield in the name of E. R. Houghton.  Hyde took the first train to Springfield, walked into the American Express Office, apparently in a terrible hurry, and asked if a large case had been received from Boston, addressed to E. R. Houghton.  The clerk answered in the affirmative and said it was in the back room.  If you have ever sat in a little game with four spades and one heart, you will appreciate that Hyde had to think quickly and put up a good bluff if he was to win.  He put up the bluff --- and it went.  "He asked the clerk if he had not received his telegram to ship the box immediately back to Boston.  The clerk said he had not, but that the head clerk was out and he would look through the files.  Hyde realized his chance and pursued the fellow relentlessly, telling him he must have received the telegram, and that it was a matter of serious consequence to all concerned to have delayed the return of the box.  By this time Hyde had the poor clerk pretty well scared, and since of course no telegram could be found, Hyde gave a dramatic oath, and demanded when the next train went to Boston.  The clerk hurriedly looked at his watch.  By good luck there was one going in fifteen minutes.  Hyde demanded if he could get it on that train for him.  An empty express wagon was standing at the door, and Hyde gave the man a dollar to take the box at once to the train.  Ben Hyde then signed a receipt in his own name, the frightened clerk not noticing that it was not the name to which the box had been addressed.  In ten minutes the statue was on the train, bound for Boston again.

On the way, Hyde decided upon his subsequent plan of action.  At Worcester he sent a telegram to an old colored fellow in his father's employ in Boston, to meet him at the train with a wagon, and to say nothing to any one of the instructions.  Hyde had known this old servant for a long time and was confident that he could be trusted; in many ways too he was an extremely valuable man, for he knew Boston thoroughly.  The darky met him at the station and the two drove away with the box.  Hardly had they taken it from the train, when the news leaked out, and for a few days there was the liveliest kind of a time keeping ahead of the detectives.  It was not quite so simple as one might think to conceal a box of that size.  The old darky, however, proved invaluable.  He knew lots of hiding places in and out of Boston; so Hyde told him the whole story and promised him a big sum of money if he would move the box every day and make sure that the detectives did not get hold of it.  The old man liked the proposition; perhaps it roused his fighting blood.  At any rate, he fulfilled his duties to the letter.  First he hid the statue in an old blacksmith's shop in Cambridge.  Two days later he moved it to the cellar of a colored Poker Club.  Then Sabrina spent a couple of days hidden among the wharves of the big city, labelled "machinery."  From the wharves, the darky took the box to the cellar of an old house in the South End of Boston.

Meanwhile, Hyde had returned to Amherst, only to find that the Express Company had a warrant out for his arrest, and that '93 had raised a sum of money to finance a search for Sabrina.  Hyde quickly disappeared, supposedly to Boston; but in reality he went to New York and jumped on a steamer bound for Europe, just as it was leaving the dock, and spent the next two or three months abroad waiting for the excitement to die out.  Only two men of '94 knew until his return where he had gone.

The '93 Committee had urged the Express Company to get out the warrant for Hyde's arrest, and they and the detectives were only twenty-four hours behind him in their search.  As soon as Hyde had slipped through their fingers, they turned all their attention to finding the statue.  The Express Company traced it to the darky in Hyde's father's office.  Detectives appeared one day in that office and threatened the old servant with immediate arrest.  The latter, however, had not been around a law office all his life for nothing.  He was pretty sure that they had only a suspicion at the most, so he denied everything and paid no attention to their threats.  After the detectives had left, he went to one of the members of the firm for reassurance and told him the whole story.  This member promised secrecy and advised the darky to bluff it out, and ask them for the warrant if they ever tried to arrest him.  The old fellow found they had no warrant for him, so he remained firm to his word to Hyde.  The rest of the '94 Committee were soon in touch with him with some more money, and thus clinched things.

Naturally Hyde's father looked into the matter a little, and found that the statue had been received as stolen property by '93 and that it had been taken from Amherst College by the class of '90.  Hyde Sr., being at that time a trustee of the college, went to one of the officials of the Express Company, with whom he was well acquainted, and told him the circumstances, showing that the Express Company had no reason to prosecute the matter until Amherst College should request them to do so.  For the statue was the property of the college and the class of '93 had no claim on it whatever.  Accordingly the matter was dropped by the Express Company, and '93 was left to fight out the battle alone.

Upon hearing that the affair had been settled so far as the legal side was concerned, Ben Hyde returned from Europe and was fittingly welcomed by the men of his class, in recognition of his services to the good cause.  Thus to these old Amherst men of '94 are all presentday Sabrina men indebted for that inestimable privilege of their college life.

[The '94 picture of Sabrina]After Hyde's return, the colored guardian pro tem, was duly rewarded, and the statue was officially turned over to the President of '94, "Doc" Stone.  "A committee proceeded at once to lay plans for a Sophomore banquet at which Sabrina should be present.  A difficulty to contend with of course was not only the activity of '93 but the chance that that class might induce the Express Company to again take legal proceedings in order to repossess themselves of the statue, if its location was once discovered.  For this reason much time was spent by the committee in selecting a proper place for the dinner, and great precautions were taken in order to secure the arrival of the class at the point agreed upon without notice to the others in Amherst.  After making personal inspection of many places, it was finally decided that Brattleboro, Vermont, was a suitable place; this both because it was near two state lines, so that if '94 came into conflict with the authorities a rapid change of jurisdiction could be effected, and also because the train schedule at that time rendered pursuit after seven or eight o'clock in the evening practically impossible; besides, the committee had been able to perfect a plan for removing Sabrina from Brattleboro in a fairly safe way.

The class was listed in small sections, and each member of the committee took charge of a section.  On the night agreed upon for the banquet, each of these sections was informed about an hour before the time for departure that a special train would be found waiting on the New London and Northern R. R., between the hat factories.  The entire class reached the station without exciting suspicion.  The lights were all out on the train as it slowly moved into the station and took on its excited passengers." Ned Burnham had written a song which we all know as "All Hail, Sabrina Dear!" and '94 sang that song all the way up to the banquet.  Many a peaceful hamlet was gently aroused by the soft strains floating out on the still night air,

All hail! Sabrina dear,
The Widow of each passing year;
Long may she live and be
The Widow of posterity.

The class arrived at the Brooks House in Brattleboro at about ten o'clock in the evening, and no notice or alarm had yet been given in Amherst.

For some time prior to the banquet, "Doc" Stone, then guardian of Sabrina, now Dean-elect of Columbia Law School, --- and Ben Hyde, now a very prominent lawyer in Boston, had scoured the country in the vicinity of Brattleboro with a view to securing a proper place in which to hide Sabrina.  Meanwhile, through the assistance of E. B. Smith, a '94 man whose home was in Brattleboro, arrangements had been made whereby Hyde shipped Sabrina to a certain groceryman in Brattleboro, known to Smith, who received her in a carload of miscellaneous groceries and placed her in the sub-cellar of his store in that village.  "Previously, Hyde and Stone had made arrangements with Hermon C. Harvey, a well-known citizen of Chesterfield, New Hampshire, living about eight miles from Brattleboro just over the state line, to have Sabrina secreted under the floor of his barn.  Mr. Harvey possessed a large farm near the main highway running through Brattleboro to Chesterfield, and one of his barns practically opened upon the highway.  Stone arranged with him to take up the floor of his barn on the night of the banquet and dig a hole for the reception and concealment of Sabrina.

On the afternoon of the day of the banquet, through the aid of Smith, these two men hired a pair of horses by the hour, and no questions were asked.  In the evening after making the necessary arrangements with the groceryman, Stone drove to his store and with the aid of Smith loaded Sabrina into the wagon, and took her to the rear entrance of the Brooks House.  He unloaded the statue alone, and finally succeeded in carrying it into a small room adjoining the banquet hall.  A few minutes later the class arrived in a body by the special train from Amherst.  Sabrina was then unboxed, and formally introduced to the class of '94 amid thunderous applause and the ringing cheers of the banqueters.  It was a long time ere the excitement died out, --- the enthusiasm lasted all through the evening, with songs, toasts and cheers.  After each '94 man had warmly embraced Sabrina and kissed her rosy lips, she was loaded into the wagon again, and accompanied by Hyde, Howe and Smith, Stone drove over the hills to Mr. Harvey's barn.  The night was extremely dark and as there were no lights the team had some narrow escapes before reaching its destination.  On the way out of Brattleboro, a rear guard of the football men was left at various points in order to prevent pursuit."

On arriving at the barn, Stone and Hyde found everything left in readiness by Mr. Harvey.  Not knowing, however, the exact dimensions of the box, he had not dug the hole large enough, and they found that they could not store her under the floor in the box.  Consequently they were obliged to remove Sabrina from the box, leaving her under the barn floor, covered with hay and chaff.  The men replaced the boards as best they could and returned across the state line to Brattleboro, with the empty box.

When they reached the Connecticut River, they effaced the marks on the box and threw it into the river.  The two men then proceeded to Brattleboro, just as dawn was breaking, and returned with their classmates on the special train to Amherst.

'94 reached Amherst about seven o'clock, having been away a total of nine hours.  They had stolen off so quietly that the college knew nothing of their absence.  As the '93 and '95 men came to breakfast that morning, the Sophomores told them glowing stories of the banquet.  The odd classmen were inclined to be skeptical and would not believe until they saw the accounts in the papers.  Then the fact that several men had missed their roommates sufficed to convince the doubters that '94 had really had its banquet and had seen Sabrina.

During the next few days, there were many rumors of detective work done in Brattleboro and vicinity, but those in charge felt certain that they had covered their tracks so effectively that there could be no danger of discovery.

Early in the following fall, however, some excitement was caused by a stranger who met Hyde at an athletic meet in Springfield.  The stranger claimed he knew where Sabrina was hidden.  Stone was in Amherst that day and Hyde telegraphed him at once.  Stone discreetly declined, however, to move or show any interest, and the '93 bluff failed.  They had had detectives watching Stone and if they could scare him into going to Sabrina's hiding place to make certain of her safety, all the detectives would have had to do would have been to follow Stone.  Later in the fall, however, about Thanksgiving time, Stone did slip up to Chesterfield again, had a box made, and packed Sabrina for shipment.  He had her carried over to Hinsdale and from there shipped by freight to Ben Hyde in Boston, under a fictitious name.  '94 then took up plans to turn Sabrina over to '96, at the latter's Freshman banquet.  At the last moment, however, it was decided that the risk was too great, and the actual transfer was not made until the Sophomore banquet of '96.

 

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