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Chapter 8: Class of 1896
from Sabrina, The Class Goddess of Amherst College by Max Shoop 1910

"The class of '96 was introduced to the service of the gracious Queen Sabrina immediately upon entering college in the fall of 1892.  It was then being openly avowed that the concerted efforts of the odd classes, alumni as well as student body, would spare neither money nor effort to capture the statue and prevent it from descending from '94 to '96.  The latter were told that stern Fate and even the Faculty were against them.  Had not the class of '94 by clandestine courtship taken the Queen from the suitors of '93, thereby shocking the Faculty, outraging the business conventions of an Express Company, even breaking the iron laws of the old Commonwealth of Massachusetts?  Had not a prize been offered for the capture of the eloping Queen, and dire punishment threatened her Suitor, if caught and convicted?  Had not 'Old Doc,' amid the vociferations of '94, in the gymnasium, pounded more vigorously and shouted more lustily, --- 'Gentlemen, gentlemen, I must be obeyed.  I love you, but I must be obeyed'?

Had not the Jove-like Faculty, with a sense of scandalized propriety that a college sport should be carried to the infraction of laws, put on its specs in search of a possible victim?  The atmosphere was charged with rumors subsequent to the report that Sabrina was really in the hands of '94, that they had stolen her from an express company and had had her at their banquet.  Such was the atmosphere through which '96 tried to see its way to its Freshman banquet.

'96, however, did have its supper.  It was in February, 1893, at the Mansion House, Greenfield, Mass.  So exciting was this event that later '96 men were almost denied the benefit of a college education.  Of course, it was never seriously expected that, as Freshmen, they would have Sabrina so near Old Amherst.  But no chances were taken.  Arrangements were being made for a special train on the Vermont Central, to be boarded at the crossing one mile north of the Amherst Station.  So far the plans worked like a charm, but as the special slowed up for the embarkation, a whoop like that of maddened savages issued from the car.  The entire class of '95 and many '93 men had preceded '94 as uninvited guests.  In some mysterious way they had discovered the time at which the class was to leave town.  Fortunately, no one knew where the supper was to be.  A whispered suggestion that the guests must be prevented from going to Brattleboro had the right psychological effect.  At Millers Falls '96 was ordered off the train and '95 and '93 were formally challenged to wage combat.

'No, no,' cried they, thinking this was a '96 ruse to get them off the train.  Immediately upon their exultant refusal, a number of '96 men seized and held the doors, while the train was ordered forward at full speed, and all the unwelcome guests were carried out of the way.  The odd classmen had been thoroughly outwitted.  The real destination of '96, of course, was Greenfield, but the scare had been too great to risk bringing Sabrina into that region, so Stone, '94, did not take her to the banquet.  He returned her immediately to Boston.

'96 had a successful banquet otherwise, however.  In fact the success of having outwitted '95 was too much for some of the fellows.  Greenfield was painted the proverbial red.  The next morning, President Gates summoned the leaders of '96 to his official sanctum, where sat the sheriff of Greenfield, who submitted to the class, bills which ran as follows:

To one spectacle sign,$10.00
To one barber pole,5.00
To photographer's showcase,25.00
To doorplates, bearing the
words 'private,' etc., each
3.00
To napkins,35.00
To tea spoons,50.00

The reputation of the class would certainly have been ruined had not opportunity been given for a guarded return of the pilfered prizes to the van wagon which toted the relics back to Greenfield.

Next year, however, during the Winter Term, came the great event, when as Sophomores '96 dined at Nassau, New Hampshire.  "By special train again, in which were involved high officials of the railway, who entered into the sport from President down to Trainmen, the entire class, this time without uninvited guests, assembled like bandits outside the jurisdiction of Old Massachusetts."  The ride to Nassau was a most hilarious one, with singing and cheers.  The men of '95 had no suspicion, in fact they did not know of the banquet until Chapel the next morning.

To preside at this feast, Sabrina had been awakened from her long nap in a sausage factory in Boston, where Hyde had stored her.  Properly to travel incognito, thereby avoiding the vigilance of express offices, she went from Boston to Nassau under the name of "Photographic Supplies.  Handle with Care."  She was brought to the banquet by Stone, '94, and there formally turned over to '96.  Charles J. Staples, now a very prominent lawyer of Buffalo, was the recipient guardian. "She was given a most enthusiastic reception and occupied the seat of honor at the table.  After Sabrina had been hugged and caressed and fittingly toasted, she disappeared in the arms of the football men of '96, and by devious routes and frequent changes was cautiously taken across the state line into Vermont, and there locked away from the next day's light in a granary.

To add to the pleasure and by way of a ruse, the new guardian, Staples, had the box in which she had travelled from the packing house in Boston to Nassau packed with rubbish and shipped under guard from Nassau to Connecticut, with all the care that might have attended the real Queen.  By the great daring and cunning of '95, joined with the intentional negligence of '96, this box labelled 'Photographic Supplies.  Handle with Care,' fell into the odd classmen's hands.  Great was the rejoicing among them until the box was opened, when, behold, instead of Sabrina, they found a lot of iron scrap lodged in some bad straw.  '95 never fully recovered from this disappointment, and it was a source of considerable amusement for '96.  The next night, after the celebration, Staples took Sabrina with great care from the granary and placed her in a deep cistern in the attic of a house in Brandon, Vermont."  Nothing could touch her there, Staples felt sure.

Imagine the feelings of Staples, however, when, attending a society function at Smith College one evening, he heard a certain Smith College Sophomore say in the presence of himself and some '95 men, "Oh, I know all about Sabrina and where she is," and then Staples heard this same young lady, when asked for information, say, "Why Sabrina is in a certain house in Brandon, Vermont, in a cistern in the attic."  "Great Gods!" thought Staples, pretending not to hear and making a desperate attempt to control his features, in order not to attract the attention of the '95 men present.  These latter were keenly alive to all the girl said, but made no move to follow the matter until the evening was over.  Meanwhile, Staples had made his excuses as best he could, and "without change from dress clothes catching the first train north, appeared the next morning in the little Vermont town.  He secretly planned to remove the precious charge from that precarious hole.

But how had Sabrina's place of concealment become known?  It is the usual story.  There was only one other man besides Staples who knew of her hiding-place, and he was the most faithful fellow on earth.  But when pinned down under a fiery cross-examination, these condemning facts appeared.  The fellow who was temporary guardian of Sabrina on the Nassau trip had a sweetheart in Boston, who read the papers, who knew that this young gentleman was a '96 Amherst man, and who in quiet moments had heard him speak of going to Vermont and New Hampshire.  What more was necessary for the imaginative mind of the young lady?  She had talked the matter over in strict confidence with her good mother, who in turn was so tremendously interested at the jolly sport of college boys that she had to tell her most intimate friend at a tea party in Boston, which friend, in turn, had a daughter in Smith College, and this daughter, on a recent vacation home, had heard the now rather amplified story of Sabrina.  This sequence of confidences is what led to the dramatic climax on that evening of the social function in Smith College.

But within twenty-four hours of this event, the dear Goddess Sabrina was beyond the reach of the rapidly pursuing '95 men.  On the wings of night she flew to western New York, appearing to be in great demand as "Special Machinery," and thereafter she was taken by dray over long country roads until finally she found a quiet habitation under lock and key in a carriage room in a small country town of Elba, New York.  Here she remained in blissful security until the class of '98 had so grown in grace that it in turn could take the precious charge.

 

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