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West Point Colors

281 pages
Library of Alexandria
Some of my friends in a certain cadet class beset me to write a West Point story; promising me incidents at will, a plot, a name, and a tactical officer for "the villain." Perhaps it was because I declined this last sensational detail that they backed out of all the rest, and having given my boat a shove into deep water, left me to row and pilot as best I might. However, help came from other men, in other classes. I was cheered on in my work, and given story after story, with full leave to use them as I chose; and so it falls out that my book is quite true. Not that all the happenings ever came to any one cadet, or within the bounds of any four years' course. But they have almost all, at some time, been part of somebody's cadet life at West Point. With what men, or in what years, it does not matter: the last decade of the nineteenth century nearly enough covers the whole. I have tried hard to have the small technicalities quite correct. Yet as rules do vary now and then, even at West Point, everything may not always seem right, to this or that graduate. And, of course, I may have blundered here and there. Certain points in cadet life I was especially asked to handle; and if once or twice I have told only what might have been, even there I had the warrant of cadet opinion. As for the fancy names, it was so hard to find plain ones that were not down in some Army List or Visitors' Book, that I made up a few, choosing rather to give caps which nobody would put on than others quite sure to be appropriated. Truly, I did not name Miss Dangleum: a young officer did that, and Cadet Devlin was also dubbed by one who knew. Since certain words of my story were written a few changes have come in. The cadet classes have pledged themselves to abolish hazing; the Hundredth Night (in its old wild glee) has been forbidden; the Cadet Howitzer is spiked. The shady nooks along "Flirtation" have been cleared up; Fort Clinton is a memory, the tents are brown, and Dade's white shaft now stands in the gayest and sunniest of all the thoroughfares. But human nature survives,—and "boodle"—and the girls, so that my book is declared to be still "absolutely true." Sometimes when I watch that grey throng in the Chapel, I have a great wish that I could see the other little army with whom they are to join hands. So much depends on them. For womanhood sets the standard for the world of men.