The Forbidden Trail (Chapter 3, page 1 of 28)


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Chapter 3

Roger, climbing the steps to the Science Building on the day that he was thirty years old, wondered if his working life was to end as it had begun within its ugly walls.

The building stood at the western edge of the campus. It was a Gothic, Jacobean, Victorian composite, four stories high, built of yellow sandstone, marble and brick. It boasted a round dome, rising from a Gothic main roof and a little pagoda-like tower on each of the mansard roofs that crowned the two wings. There had been a time when to Roger the Science Building had been beautiful. But he saw its ugliness now and laughed about it with Ernest.

On this December afternoon, Roger stayed late in the laboratory with twenty seniors who for some weeks had been carrying on strength tests of varying mixtures of concrete. The sun was low in the west and the corners of the huge old room were dark. But a red glow from the west window filled its center, turning the concrete briquettes piled on the table in the middle of the room to gold.

Roger stood by the table, examining the students' reports on the fractured briquettes. His black hair, with the sunset full upon it, was like molten bronze. Roger's face had changed in the years since his undergraduate days. His figure was the same, six feet of lean muscle; his eyes were as blue and his face as thin and intellectual as when as a small boy he had dreamed of an underground railway. But there had grown subtly into his face a look of grimness and unhappiness that robbed it of the youth it still should have retained.

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