The Hazing of Satterlee 2d by
Ralph Henry Barbour
Satterlee 2d tossed his arms over his
head and opened his eyes. It was of no use.
As a much smaller boy—he was now thirteen
years of age—his mother, on putting him to
bed, had always counseled “Now shut your
eyes and go to sleep.” And it had worked
to a charm; so infallibly that Satterlee 2d
had unconsciously accepted it as a law of
nature that in order to go to sleep one had
only to close one’s eyes. To-night, after lying
with lids forced so tightly together that they
ached, he gave up the struggle. Something
was plainly wrong.
He snuggled the comforter up under his
nose and stared into the darkness. A thin,
faint pencil of light was discernible straight
ahead and rather high up. After a moment
of thought he knew that it stole in at the top
of the door from the hall, where an oil lamp
flickered all night on a bracket. From his
right came faint gurgles, as regular as clockwork.
That was Sears, his room-mate, fast
clasped in the arms of Morpheus. Satterlee
2d envied Sears.
Back of him the darkness was less intense
for a little space. The shade at the window
was not quite all the way down and a faint
gray light crept in from a cloudy winter sky.
Satterlee 2d wondered what time it was.
Sears had blown out the light promptly at
ten o’clock, and that seemed whole hours ago.
It must be very late, and still he was not
sleepy; on the contrary, he couldn’t remember
having ever been wider awake in his life.
His thoughts flew from one thing to another
It had been very sudden, his change from
home life to boarding-school. His mother
had not been satisfied with his progress at the
grammar-school, and when brother Donald,
Satterlee 2d’s senior by two years, had returned
from Dr. Willard’s school for Christmas
vacation, healthy looking and as full of
spirits as a young colt, the decision was made;
Thomas should go back to school with Donald.
Thomas was amazed and delighted. Until
that moment he had conscientiously treated
all mention of Willard’s with scathing contempt,
a course absolutely necessary, since
Don was in the habit of chanting its praises
at all times and in all places in a most annoyingly
superior manner. But as soon as he
learned that he too was to become a pupil at
Willard’s Tom swore instant allegiance, for
the first time hearkening eagerly to Don’s
tales of the greatness of the School, and vowing
to make the name of Thomas Polk Satterlee
one to be honored and revered by future
generations of Willardians. He would do
mighty deeds in school hall and campus—more
especially campus—and would win wonderful
popularity. And then he bade a moist-eyed
farewell to home and parents, and, in care of
his travel-hardened brother, set forth for
boarding-school, filled with pleasurable excitement
and fired with patriotism and grand resolves.
One thing alone had worried Satterlee 2d;
the school catalogue, which he had studied diligently
from end to end, stated very distinctly—in
fact, in italics—that hazing was strictly
forbidden and unknown at the institution.
Brother Don, on the other hand, told scalp-stirring
tales of midnight visitations to new
boys by groups of ghostly inquisitors. These
two authorities, the only ones at Tom’s command,
were sadly at variance. But experience
had taught Satterlee 2d that printed text
was on the whole more apt to be truthful than
Brother Don; and he gained comfort accordingly.
He had made his début at Willard’s in
proper style, had been formally introduced to
many other young gentlemen of ages varying
from twelve to eighteen years, had shaken
hands humbly with Burtis, the school leader,
and had officially become Satterlee 2d.
He and his new roommate, Sears, had become
firm friends in the short period of three
hours, and, realizing Sears’s good-will toward
him, he had listened to that youth’s enigmatic
warning, delivered just as the light went out,
“Say, if anything happens to-night, don’t
wake me; I don’t want to know anything
Satterlee 2d’s troubled questioning elicited
only sleepy and very unsatisfactory answers,
and he had laid awake, hour after hour,
or so it seemed, with ears strained for suspicious
sounds. But none had come, and now—he
yawned and turned over on the pillow—now
he thought that he could go to sleep at
last. He closed his eyes.
Then he opened them again. It seemed
hours later, but was in fact scarcely five minutes.
A bright, unhallowed light shone on
his face. White-draped figures, silent and
terrible, were about him.
“Ghosts!” thought Satterlee 2d.
But just as he had gathered sufficient
breath for a satisfactory scream of terror, and
just as some one had forced the corner of a
pillow into his mouth, recollection of Brother
Donald’s tales came to him and his fears subsided.
With the supernatural aspect removed,
the affair resolved into an unpleasant
but not alarming adventure. It is idle to relate
in detail the subsequent proceedings.
Blindfolded and attired only in a bath-robe,
hastily thrown over his nightshirt, he was
conducted along corridors and down long
flights of stairs, over strange, uneven expanses
of frozen ground, skirting frightful abysses
and facing dangers which, had he believed the
asseverations of his captors, were the most
awful ever mortal braved. Despite his incredulity
he was glad when the end of the
journey was reached. He was led stumbling
down three very chilly stone steps and brought
to a halt. The atmosphere was now slightly
warmer, and this at least was something to be
“Neophyte,” said a deep voice which
sounded suspiciously like Brother Don’s,
“you have passed unscathed through the Vale
of Death. The first period of your initiation
into the Order of the Grinning Skull is accomplished.
We leave you now to dwell alone,
until dawn gilds the peak of yonder mountain,
among the Spirits of the Under World.
Should you survive this, the most terrible ordeal
of all, you will be one of us and will be
admitted into the secrets and counsels of our
Order. Farewell, perhaps forever!”
The hands that held him drew away, he
heard the sounds of retreating footsteps, of a
closing door and a creaking bolt. He remained
motionless, his heart beating against
his ribs. He wanted to cry out, to bring them
back, but pride was still stronger than fear.
The silence and damp odor of the place were
uncanny. He thought of tombs and things,
and shuddered. Then summoning back his
waning courage, he tore the bandage from his
eyes. Alas, he was still in complete darkness.
Satterlee 2d’s reading had taught him
that the proper thing to do in such situations
was to explore. So he put forth his hands
and stepped gingerly forward. He brought
up against a cold, reeking stone wall. He
followed it, found a corner, turned at right
angles, soon found another corner, and then
worked back, at length coming in contact with
the steps and a heavy door. All efforts to
move the latter were vain. The floor was of
wood and sounded hollow. The place had a
clammy, unwholesome feeling, and now was
beginning to strike him as decidedly wanting
in warmth and comfort.
Suddenly his subsiding fear gave way before
a rush of anger and he stamped a slippered
foot. A nice trick to play on a fellow,
he declared aloud; he’d tell Don what he
thought of it in the morning, and he’d punch
somebody’s head, see if he didn’t! In his
wrath he stepped impetuously forward and
gave a shriek of horror. He was up to his
knees in icy water.
He clambered out and sat shivering on the
planks, while the knowledge came to him that
his prison was nothing else than the spring-house,
which Don had exhibited to him that
afternoon during a tour of sight-seeing. A
narrow staging surrounded a large pool, he
remembered; in his journey about the place
he had kept in touch with the walls, and so
had escaped a wetting, until his impetuous
stride had plumped him into it. Cold, wet,
angry and miserable, he crept to the farther
corner of the house, to get as far as possible
from the drafts that eddied in under the
door, and placing his back against the wall
and wrapping his wet garments about his
knees, closed his eyes and tried to go to sleep.
He told himself that sleep was out of the question.
But he was mistaken, for presently his
head fell over on one side and he slumbered.
When he awoke with a start, aroused by
the sound of the opening of the door, he stared
blankly into the gloom and wondered for a
moment where he was. An oblong of gray at
the end of the spring-house drew his gaze.
Two forms took shape, stumbled down the
steps, and were lost in the darkness. Then
the door was closed again save for a narrow
crevice. His first thought that rescue was
at hand was instantly dispelled. Some one
coughed painfully, and then:
“Phew, I’m nigh dead with cold,” said a
weak, husky voice. “Two miles from the
village you said it was, didn’t yer? I’ll bet
it’s five, all right.”
“Well, you’re here now, ain’t yer?” responded
a deeper voice, impatiently. “So
shut up. You make me tired, always kicking
about something. What do you expect, any
way? Think the old codger’s going to drive
into town and hand the money over to yer?
If you want anything you’ve got to work
The two had sprawled themselves out on
the floor to the left of the doorway. Satterlee
considered. Perhaps if he made his presence
known, the men, who were evidently tramps,
would let him depart unmolested. On the
other hand, maybe they would be angry and
cut his throat promptly and very expertly,
and drop his body into the pool. He shivered
and clenched his fists, resolved to perish
bravely. He wished he were home in his own
bed; he wished—then he stopped wishing and
“How long we got to stay here?” asked
the first tramp wearily.
“We’ll wait till ’bout twelve. The doctor’s
a great hand at staying up late, I
“What time do you say it is now?”
“Half past eleven, I guess.”
“Phew!” The other whistled lugubriously.
“I’ll be dead with the cold by that
time, Joe.” He went off into a paroxysm of
coughing that made Satterlee 2d, in spite of
his terror, pity him, but which only brought
from his companion an angry command to
make less noise.
“All right,” was the husky response,
“give me some ’baccy, Joe? There’s more’n
time fer a bit of a smoke.” There followed
sounds from across the darkness and Satterlee
2d surmised that each was filling his pipe.
Then a match flared suddenly and lighted up
the scene. The boy shut his eyes and held his
breath. Then he opened them the least crack
and peered across. The men were sitting just
to the left of the doorway, diagonally across
from him. Between them lay the black oblong
of water splashed with orange by the
flickering match. Satterlee 2d wondered if
it would never burn out! He could see only
a tangled beard, a glittering, half-closed eye,
two big hands, between the fingers of which
the guarded light shone crimson. The light
went out and he drew a monstrous sigh of relief.
The odor of tobacco floated across to
him, strong and pungent.
The two smoked silently for a moment.
Satterlee 2d stared wide-eyed into the darkness
and tried to discover a way out of the
difficulty. From what little conversation he
had overheard he judged that the tramps
meditated some crime against Doctor Willard,
probably robbery. If he entertained any
doubt upon the subject it was quickly dispelled.
The tramp with the cough was talking.
“Who’s goin’ inside, Joe?”
“You; you’re smallest an’ lightest an’ can
get through the window easy. I’ll stand
watch. If I whistle, make a run for it
an’ try to get into the woods across the
“Ye-es, but I don’t know the lay of the
room like you do, Joe.”
“Well, I’m goin’ to tell yer, ain’t I?
When yer get through the window, turn to
yer right an’ keep along the wall; there ain’t
nothin’ there but bookcases; when yer get to
the corner there’s a round table; look out fer
that. Keep along the wall again; there’s
more book-shelves, about six or eight feet of
’em. Then you comes to a high case with a
lid that lets down an’ makes a desk and swingin’
glass doors above it; you know the sort o’
thing I mean, eh?”
“Old-fashion’ secretary,” said the other,
evidently proud of his knowledge.
“Correct! Well, you want to let down
“Likely it is; use ther little jimmy; the
money’s in the lower drawer on the left side.
I don’t know what all’s there; better clean the
drawer out, see?”
Satterlee 2d was thinking hard, his heart
in his throat and his pulse hammering. He
must get out of the spring-house somehow and
warn the doctor. But how? The men were
practically between him and the door. To
make a dash for liberty would surely result
disastrously; if they caught him—Satterlee
2d’s teeth chattered! If he waited until they
went out and then followed he might be able
to arouse the doctor or scare the burglars
away, if they didn’t bolt the door again on the
outside, and so make him once more a prisoner.
The only plan that seemed at all feasible
was to creep inch by inch to the doorway
and then make a dash for freedom. An impatient
stir across the spring-house warned
him that whatever plan was to be tried must
be attempted speedily. He wriggled softly
out of his bath-robe, gathered the skirt of his
nightgown in one hand, took a long breath,
and started forward on his hands and knees.
The men were talking again, and one of the
pipes was sizzling loudly.
All went well for a moment, a moment that
seemed an age, and he had reached a point
half-way to the door, when his hand slipped
on the wet boards with a noise, faint but distinct.
He stopped short, his hair stirring
“S—sh!” One of the men scrambled to
“What’s the matter?” growled the other.
“I heard somethin’—over there.”
“A frog, likely, you fool; got a match?”
Satterlee 2d was desperate. He was lost
unless he could reach the doorway first. He
started forward again with less caution, and
one knee struck the floor sharply. A light
flared out, and for a moment he stared across
the pool into two pairs of wide-open, gleaming
eyes. Then the match dropped into the water
with a tiny hiss, and Satterlee 2d leaped for
the door. The streak of light was now but
a scant two yards distant. Near at hand
sounded feet on the planking, and from the
pool came a splashing as one of the men
rushed through the water. Then a hand
grasped the boy’s bare ankle. With a shriek
he sprang forward, the grasp was gone, and
from behind him as he fled stumbling up the
steps came the sound of a heavy fall and a
cry of triumph.
“I’ve got him!”
“You’ve got me, you fool! Let go!”
The next instant Satterlee 2d was through
the doorway, had slammed the portal behind
him, and had shot the big iron bolt despairingly.
With closed eyes he leaned faint and
panting against the oak while blow after blow
was rained on it from within and hoarse oaths
told of the terror of the prisoners. But the
stout door showed no signs of yielding, and
Satterlee 2d opened his eyes and looked
about him. The night was cloudy, but the
school-buildings were discernible scarce a
When Doctor Willard, awakened from
sleep by the wild jangling of the bell, drew his
dressing-gown about him and looked forth,
it was with astonishment and alarm that he
beheld a white-robed youth pulling excitedly
at the bell-knob. His astonishment was even
greater when, having found and adjusted his
spectacles, he made out the youth to be Satterlee
2d, who, by every rule of common
sense, ought at that moment to be asleep in
“But—but I don’t understand,” faltered
the doctor. “Do you mean that you have a
gang of burglars locked up in the spring-house?”
“Yes, sir; two, sir; two burglars, sir!”
“Dear me, how alarming! But how——?”
“Don’t you think we could get the police,
“Um—er—to be sure. The police; yes.
Wait where you are.”
The window closed, and presently the
tinkle of a telephone bell sounded. A minute
or two later and Satterlee 2d, cold and aching,
sat before the big stove in the library, while
the doctor shook and punched the coals into
“I’ve telephoned for the police,” said the
doctor, gazing perplexedly over his spectacles.
“And now I would like to know what
it all means, my boy.”
“I—I was in the spring-house, sir,”
began Satterlee 2d, “when I heard a
“One moment,” interrupted the doctor.
“What were you doing in the spring-house
Satterlee dropped his eyes. He searched
wildly for an explanation that would not incriminate
Donald and the others. Finally he
gave it up.
“I—I’d rather not say, if you please, sir.”
“Um,” said the doctor. “Very well,
we’ll pass over that for the present. What
happened when you heard a noise?”
Before Satterlee 2d had finished his story
there came the sound of wheels on the driveway
without, which sent the doctor to the
door. For a minute the boy listened to the
hum of voices in the hallway. Then he commenced
He awoke to find the winter sunlight
streaming through the windows of the doctor’s
guest-chamber, and to learn from the
clock on the mantel that it was long after
breakfast time. His clothes were beside him
on a chair and he tumbled into them hurriedly,
the events of the night flooding back to memory.
He ate breakfast in solitary grandeur,
his thoughts fixed miserably on the explanation
that must follow. His indignation
against Donald and the others had passed;
he pitied them greatly for the punishment
which he felt certain would soon be meted out
to them. And he pitied himself because it
was his lot to bring that punishment about.
His visions of popularity faded into nothingness.
For a moment he thought of cutting it
all; of walking straight from the dining-room
to the station and disappearing from the
But when he pushed back his half-eaten
breakfast and arose to his feet it was to grip
his hands rather tight, and with pale cheeks
walk, laggingly but directly, to the school hall.
Prayers were over, and the doctor was rubbing
his spectacles reflectively, preparatory to
addressing the pupils. Satterlee 2d’s advent
created a wave of excitement, and all eyes
were on him as he strode to his seat. The
doctor donned his glasses and surveyed the
That youth arose, his heart thumping sickeningly.
“There was a portion of your story,” said
the head master suavely, “which you did not
tell last night. Kindly explain now, if you
please, how you came to be in the spring-house
Satterlee 2d looked despairingly at the
doctor, looked desperately about the room.
Brother Donald was scowling blackly at his
ink-well. Burtis, the school leader, was observing
him gravely, and in his look Satterlee
2d thought he read encouragement. The doctor
Satterlee 2d had been taught the enormity
of lying, and his conscience revolted at the
task before him. But Don and the others
must be spared. He made a heroic effort.
“Please, sir, I went to get a drink.”
Depressing silence followed. Satterlee
2d’s eyes sought the floor.
“Indeed?” inquired the doctor, pleasantly.
“And did you get your drink?”
“Yes, sir.” Satterlee 2d breathed easier.
After all, lying wasn’t so difficult.
“Ah, and then why didn’t you return to
“The—door was locked, sir.”
Somebody near by groaned softly. Satterlee
“On the inside?” pursued the doctor.
Too late Satterlee 2d saw his blunder.
He gazed appealingly at the inexorable countenance
on the platform. Then,
“No, sir,” he answered in low tones, “on
“Strange,” mused the head master. “Do
you know who locked it?”
“No, sir.” He gave a sigh of relief.
That, at least, was no more than the truth.
“You may sit down.” Satterlee 2d sank
into his seat.
“Which of you locked that door?” The
doctor’s gaze swept the schoolroom. Silence
followed. Then two youths were on their feet
simultaneously. One was Burtis, the other
was Satterlee 1st. The doctor turned to the
“Am I to understand that you had a hand
in this, Burtis?” he asked, surprise in his
“No, sir. If you please, sir, what I want
to say is that the school as a whole had nothing
to do with this hazing, sir, and we—we
don’t like it. And if those that had a hand
in it don’t own up, sir, I’ll give their names.
That’s all, sir.”
He sat down. Young Mr. Sears signified
excited approbation by clapping his hands
until he found the doctor’s gaze upon him,
whereupon he subsided suddenly with very red
cheeks. The doctor turned to Satterlee 1st.
Brother Donald shot an angry glance at
“Burtis needn’t talk so big, sir; he’d better
give a fellow a chance before he threatens——”
“That will do, my boy; if you have anything
to say let me hear it at once.”
“I—I locked that door, sir.”
“Indeed? And did you have any help in
Brother Donald dropped his gaze and was
silent. Then, with much shuffling of unwilling
feet, slowly, one after another, five
other boys stood up.
“Well, Perkins?” asked the doctor.
“I helped,” said that youth.
“And the rest of you?” Four subdued
voices answered affirmatively. The doctor
frowned from one to the other. Then,
“You may take your seats,” he said, severely.
The six sank into their places and miserably
awaited judgment. The doctor ran his
fingers thoughtfully over the leaves of the big
dictionary on the corner of his desk, then began
to speak. The discourse that followed
was listened to with flattering attention. It
dealt very fully with the evils of hazing and
seemed to promise something quite unusual in
the way of punishment. Brother Donald had
fully five minutes of the discourse all to himself,
but appeared not at all stuck up because
of the attention. In fact, when he had listened
to all the doctor had to say on the subject
of brotherly conduct, his countenance was
expressive of shame rather than conceit. Altogether,
it was quite the most exhaustive
“wigging” in the recollection of the oldest
pupil in the school, and therefore it was with
genuine surprise that the Doctor’s concluding
sentences were heard.
“In the present case,” he said, “I am inclined
to be lenient. Unwittingly you have
prevented the probable loss to me of several
hundred dollars, and have secured the arrest
of two members of society who are—hem—better
placed in jail than outside. This does
not morally exempt you from blame; your conduct
is none the less despicable; but, nevertheless,
in view of these circumstances, I shall
make your punishment as light as is consistent.
But first you will give me your promise
that never, so long as you are in my school,
will you take part in or countenance hazing in
any form, shape or manner whatsoever. Have
I that promise?”
Six voices sounded as one.
“Very well. Now I shall require all six
of you to remain within bounds until the
Easter vacation. This means that you will
not be privileged, as usual, to visit the village
on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.
That is all. You will please carefully remember
what I have said. We will now take up
A well-defined murmur of relief passed
over the room. Then,
“If you please, sir,” said a voice, quietly,
from among the boys.
The doctor glanced up.
“What is it, Satterlee 2d?”
“If you please, sir, I’d like to take the
punishment with the others, sir.”
“Indeed?” The doctor looked puzzled.
“And for what reason?”
“For—for lying, sir.”
“For—for not telling the truth, sir.”
The doctor removed his spectacles and
polished them slowly, very slowly, as if he
were doing some hard thinking. Then he replaced
them and faced the class.
“I—hem—I will exempt you from punishment.
It isn’t what you deserve, not
by a great deal, but—you may thank Satterlee
Satterlee 2d’s popularity began at that