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"The Great Yarvard Mystery" from College Humor

by Ellis Parker Butler
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    The Great Yarvard Mystery
  • College Humor (February, 1925)   "The Great Yarvard Mystery"   A story. "Romance of Youth and Love." Illustrated by Russell Patterson. The name "Ellis Parker Butler" appears on the cover. This issue is labeled both "The Winter Number" and February 1925. Volume 4. Number 1. p7-8, 114-17.  [EPBLIB]

from College Humor
The Great Yarvard Mystery
by Ellis Parker Butler

One bright sunny day in late August a tender girl and a noble featured young man might have been seen standing at the stile that marked the entrance to the famous Bar-None bean ranch of Eutopius J. Fliggis, the Bean King. All around them stretched the wide-open spaces where men are men and women, in a majority of cases, are women, and where -- if I may be pardoned for doing a little advertising -- pigs is pigs. As the young woman drew back after giving the young man a last lingering kiss, the tears filled her eyes, a sob rose in her throat and with a cry of anguish she turned and ran swiftly back to the little gray home where she had been born and, as much as possible, raised.

"Edgarda!" cried the young man, stretching out his arms toward her, but she paid no heed and loped rapidly between the bean vines until she reached the cottage and threw herself face downward on the day bed, of which Sears, Roebuck & Co. so fittingly say: "Steel Sliding Couch Bed. This Couch Bed has the same construction as 1T5832 and 1T5833 shown above, but has the raised ends like a day bed. The ends are 31 1/2 inches high, with 1 1/16-inch continuous corner posts and top rails and 1/4-inch fillers. Gray enameled. Furnished with felted cotton pad to fit. Pad is covered with denim without flounce. Shipping weight, 95 pounds."

Ellis Parker Butler's 'The Great Yarvard Mystery'


It was in 1864, just at the close of the justly celebrated Civil War, that Colonel Eutopius J. Fliggis established his bean ranch in Bexaco County, Texas, and he was now 102 years old but still a hale and hearty old gentleman, able to lasso, throw, hog-tie and brand any bean on his ranch. He was proud of his title of Bean King and proud of his beans, for, until he had planted the first bean in 1864, not a bean had been grown in Texas. Of the date he was sure, for he often repeated well-known poem

"In Sixty-One the war begun;

In Sixty-Four the war was o'er."

Since that date he had brought under bean cultivation fifty thousand acres of land and had beans of every known variety. Of late years, however, he had given less attention to the quantity production and more to improving the breed of beans, seeking to produce beans of delicate colors such as mauve, peacock blue and moss green, beans of special qualities such as the non-explosive, self shelling beans of greater girth, weight and size. To this he was giving his declining days, feeling it worth the effort, for -- as the Century Dictionary so justly remarks: "bean (ben), n. (ME. bene, ben -- AS. bean -- D. boon -- MLG. bone -- OHG. bona, MHG. bine, G. bohne -- Icel. baun -- Sw. bona -- Dan. bonne, bean. Cf. W. ffaen, pi. ffa; L. faba -- O. Bulg. Russ. bobu -- OPruss. babo, a bean.) Originally and properly, a smooth kidney-shaped seed, flattened at the sides, borne in long pods by a leguminous plant, Vicia Faba; now extended to include the seed of the allied genus Phaseolus, and, with a specific epithet of other genera."


Clarence Montmorency, whose departure had thus thrown sweet Edgarda Fliggis into sorrow, was the bravest and most reckless beanboy on the Bar-None ranch. He was a handsome creature, six feet and eight inches in altitude, a two-gun man, a hard rider and fearless in the face of danger. Whence he had come none knew, for he had strolled over the stile into the Bar-None one day and asked for a job, and Eutopius J. Fliggis had accepted his services without a question. He had made good. Edgarda, from the moment she first saw him wrestling with an unruly bean vine, admired him, and this admiration had rapidly ripened into love. And he, too, had loved Edgarda.

Urged by this love he longed to be a better and finer man and his first thought when he longed to uplift himself above the common herd was -- as a matter of course -- that he must matriculate in, struggle through, and graduate from good old Yarvard College. For this purpose he saved every penny of his pay, buying no bootleg but making his own in a small pocket still, and now he was off to become a Freshman in dear old Yarvard, hoping to major in legumics and win his degree of B. D. -- Doctor of Beans.

He had chosen Yarvard because it was located near the great city of Boston, the hub of the bean universe, of which Baedeker's United States says with eminent justice: "Carriages. For cab-hiring purposes Boston is divided into a series of districts, with regulations too complicated to summarize. For a short drive, within a district or from one district to that immediately contiguous, the rate for each person is: Hacks 50c., Cabs 25c. Double fares from midnight till 6 a. m. Ordinary luggage free. Fare per hour (1 -- 4 pers.) $1 1 1/2, with two horses $1 1/2 2 1/2."

Edgar Fliggis kicking for Montmorency


Three years later Edgarda Fliggis followed the remains of her father to the little burying ground and saw them planted deeper, alas, than the worthy man had ever planted a bean. She was now alone in the world, with no gentle woman's hand to guide her and no father's voice to utter advice, and she undertook with a maiden's fearless innocence something she had long had in mind, for the long separation from Clarence Montmorency saddened her. With hasty hands she packed a trunk, putting in it not one of those dainty feminine things a woman loves. Then from a large cardboard box she took a costume such as she had seen ladies on the stage wear when they wished to be thoroughly disguised and mistaken for men. This consisted of a pair of crumpled leather high boots, blue velvet pants, a natty little bolero jacket of crimson velvet laced with gold, and a brown velvet hat enlivened by a sweeping green plume. When she had strapped a handsome gold sword to her hip she gazed at herself in a mirror and was well aware that no one would ever imagine she was a girl.

This was well, for she planned a daring thing. She meant to break all rules and present herself for admission to Yarvard College under the name of Edgar Fliggis, thus to be near Clarence Montmorency, deceiving the college authorities, passing for a man, living the wild life of a college youth -- the first and only girl to enter Yarvard. It was not without a qualm of fear that the brave girl undertook this, for it frightened her to think she was about to mingle with the elite of Yarvard, whose manners are perfection, but she comforted herself by thinking that she had in her valise a copy of the Book of Etiquette, of which the publishers so truly say: "There are so many problems of conduct constantly arising. How should asparagus be eaten? How should the fingerbowl be used, the napkin, the fork and knife? Whose name should be mentioned first when making an introduction? How should the home be decorated for a wedding? What clothes should be taken on a trip to the South? Send no money. Just clip and mail the coupon. Give the postman only $1.98 (plus few cents postage) on arrival -- instead of $3.50 which is the regular publishing price. If you are not delighted with these books you may return them at any time within five days and your money will be refunded at once, without question. (Orders from outside the U. S. are payable $2.35 cash with order.)"


For weeks the faculty and students of Yarvard College had been walking the campus with sad faces for the great football game between Yarvard and Hale was at hand, and Clarence Montmorency, on whom Yarvard had been depending for victory was off his feed and growing feebler every hour. Playing the position of Forward Kick-up on the eleven, Clarence Montmorency had trained his leg so well that it was but necessary to place the ball in his hand and he immediately kicked a complete touchdown, good for seven points, the ball sailing straight and true between the opponent's goal posts every time. And now, at the last moment, Clarence Montmorency had developed stringhalt in both legs, complicated by bunions on eight of his toes, an ingrowing toenail on one other and rheumatism of both knees and one elbow. To the thousands of Yarvard supporters in the great Yarvard stadium things looked black indeed as the eleven ran onto the field carrying Clarence Montmorency on a stretcher.

As is usual when one player is surpassingly good none of the other men on the Yarvard eleven had done any practicing that year, for all had trusted to Clarence Montmorency, and now he was seemingly useless in this emergency.

"It is no use, fellows," he moaned. "I can't get off this stretcher."

"Then, curses on you, Clarence!" said the captain bitterly. "You are doubtless aware in what low esteem we of Yarvard hold one who fails us in our hour of need. I think I shall not be contradicted when I say we are about to begin to hold you in that manner, as far as esteem is concerned. Am I right, gentlemen?"

"There seems to us to be no question of that," the other members of the eleven shouted in unison. "Anyone who, or whom, as the case may be, fails dear old Yarvard for any reason is decidedly despicable, to say the least."

In the meanwhile the partisans of Hale University were shouting in mad glee such things as "Eat 'em up, Hale! Play ball! Rounce 'em, trounce 'em, beat 'em up and bounce 'em!" and other rude and ribald things. As a last hope the venerable President of Yarvard, wearing his high hat and official robe, appealed to Clarence Montmorency, but it was no use, the poor fellow could only shed tears.

"Yarvard is disgraced forever!" said the President, turning away with downcast eyes. "And you, Clarence Montmorency, have done this!"

It was at this moment that a cab drew up at the gate of the stadium and a handsome young man leaped from it. Doffing his velvet hat he spoke to the policeman in charge, asking what caused the noise within, and the officer briefly outlined the condition of Clarence Montmorency, the tremendous matter at stake, the rules of the game of football, portions of the charter of Yarvard College and the deleterious effect on the League of Nations should Hale University win this game. Without a word Edgarda Fliggis -- for it was she -- darted through the gates. A few brief words she whispered in the ear of the Yarvard coach and the next moment she was running to the robing quarters, had donned a football costume, and was rushing to the center of the field with a football under her arm.

"Edgarda Fliggis, kicking for Montmorency," the referee announced to the waiting thousands, and the two teams lined up with Edgarda Fliggis well in advance of the Yarvard men. Those who saw her slight and youthful form cheered her lustily. The whistle sounded for the first inning to begin. With a smile Edgarda Fliggis, the mystery of Yarvard, dropped the football to her toe and gave it a gentle kick. Instantly the Hale players rushed to intercept the ball, for it had bounced but a few scant feet, but to their amazement the ball bounced lightly between them, dodging this one and that one, and bounced on down the field until it reached the Hale goal posts when it made a mighty leap and leaped over the cross bar, clean and clear.

Thousands upon thousands of Yarvard voices cheered this splendid outcome, but as the ball was brought back to her Edgarda merely smiled and prepared to kick-off another home-run touch-down. Again and again she touched the ball lightly with her toe and it bounded away in graceful little leaps, dodging the opposing players and then leaping lightly over the cross bar of the Hale goal. It was quite dark before the umpire called the game, and not once had the ball been in Hale's hands. The score stood Yarvard 658 to Hale's 0.

That night, at the great banquet given to the mysterious Edgar Fliggis, the marvelous football kicker, the mystery was explained. As the Boston Bulletin so rightly said the next day: "All were astounded to discover that the mysterious foot-ballist was a young lady, the daughter of the late Col. Fliggis, the Bean King of Texas, five feet six inches in height, bust 34, waist 24, weight 98, dark brown hair, the fiancee of Clarence Montmorency, for who, or whom, as the case may be, she entered yesterday's football game and won new honor for dear old -- or as some say, good old -- Yarvard.

"In explaining her wonderful goal kicking she said to our reporter: 'It is all very simple. My father was a bean grower and before his demise had been specializing in extra large and vigorous beans, and one of these beans -- I called it Fido -- had been my constant companion on all my walks about our ranch, running here and there, leaping fences and bounding about. This faithful bean I brought with me in my valise, and when I heard of Yarvard's sore predicament, I took Fido from the valise and put him in a football, whispering to him what I wished him to do for me. He did it. That is all there is to say.'

"'And what kind or variety of bean is Fido, Miss Fliggis?' our reporter asked. 'He is the Bar-None ranch's Extra Quality Mammoth Mexican Jumping Bean,' said Miss Fliggis, and added, as the Bar-None seed catalogue so properly says: '"It is a distinct upright grower and a vigorous jumper, large clusters of pods being borne well above the ground, each pod containing 4 to 5 magnificently agile beans. Always satisfies. These beans should not be planted before the soil has warmed up and the weather quite settled. Place the eye down, cover with 2 inches fine soil. One pound will sow a row 100 ft. long. Pkt. 15c; 1 lb-50c; 2 lbs. 950; postpaid."'"



Saturday, October 07 at 1:19:05am USA Central
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