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Volume 1144

Edgar Rice Burroughs
Urbanite ~ Vol. 1, No. 10
April 4, 1924
Issued Weekly By
The Cadets of the Urban Military Academy
Melrose at Wilcox, Los Angeles, Calif.
Faculty Advisor: Capt. Wm. R. Pinkerton

Ed Burroughs  enrolled sons Hulbert and Jack at the Urban Military Academy in Los Angeles in the fall of 1923
In the Fall of 1924 Hulbert moved to Los Angeles High School and Jack to John Burroughs Junior High.

But during their time at Urban, Ed was requested to write an article
for the school newspaper -- The Urbanite.
He wrote a piece for the April 4, 1924 issue that he entitled
"Out of Time's Abyss."

He obviously borrowed the title from Part 3 of the 1918 Blue Book pulp version of
the novel that would become "The Land That Time Forgot"
and would be published by McClurg in June 1924.

While I consider it both a privilege and an honor to contribute to The Urbanite, I have only a rather sketchy idea as to the sort of article that will interest you.

Although one is supposed after eighty or ninety years to have forgotten what boys like, I still have a well defined recollection of some of the things that were numbered among my pet aversions in my prehistoric boyhood. One of them was sermons. Therefore we will avoid preaching and promise that there will be no moral at the close of this contribution.

I think you might be interested in the story of a hoax to which I was a party while I was a cadet at the Michigan Military Academy at Orchard Lake, Michigan, some time after the fall of Rome. It is a long story and I must tell it briefly, as I am limited by your editorial staff to a certain amount of space, and being an author and therefore naturally living in mortal terror of all editors, I shall make every effort not to incur their wrath.

Several years after the battle of Waterloo I was a cadet Second Lieutenant and a man by the name of Campbell was Cadet First Lieutenant and Quartermaster. We had quarreled and were not on speaking terms. It occurred to one of us that we might make capital of our well known dislike for one another and from the acorn of this idea sprang the sturdy joke that eventually found its way into Associated Press dispatches.

One evening when I was O.D. we had a pre-arranged altercation in front of the battalion after it had formed for mess. Heated words were followed by blows. We had planned that some of our loyal friends would separate us, but unfortunately for us they were more interested in watching the scrap than in stopping it. Someone finally interfered, much to our relief and later that evening Campbell chose a second, who waited upon me with a request for satisfaction. I also chose a second and being the challenged party, selected the weapons, which were to be Springfield rifles at twenty paces. Campbell's second was senior Captain, a solid, substantial sort of chap of a serious turn of mind and was also endowed with a little intelligence, with the result that he positively refused to have anything to do with

the matter, and threatened to report the whale thing to the Commandant immediately if we did not drop it. It was therefore, necessary to let him in on the joke, when he joined in with us. The duel was to take place the following Saturday on the ice on Cass Lake, some three or four miles from the school and on limits. During the intervening days excitement ran to a tremendous height and why the authorities heard no inkling of it I have never been able to guess, except that the entire corps of cadets was so anxious to see blood shed that none of them wanted to let the powers-that-be have an opportunity to prevent the meeting. 

All sorts of rumors were rife. One of my friends brought me word that the Campbell contingent was planning to murder me during the night, and although it was strictly against all rules this boy insisted on sleeping in my room with me to protect me. It was only when I assured him that I was a light sleeper and would keep a loaded revolver handy that he consented to return to his own quarters.

There was always a yawning abyss between the plebes and old boys at Orchard Lake, and in this as in other cases the poor downtrodden plebe was booked to get the worst of it, in that he was notified that no plebes were to be permitted to witness the slaughter. But, when I approached the field of honor on that bleak Michigan winter morning the bare trees all around the shore of the lake were decorated with plebes who had sneaked off limits ahead of us and gained points of vantage at the ringside. My second, adherents and myself were first upon the ground and there we waited, shivering in the cold, for Campbell. I knew that he would come if it were mortally possible, but my friends, all of whom believed devoutly in the reality of the affair, attributed his absence to cowardice. They were torn, however, by conflicting emotions -- by relief that my life was not to be jeopardized, and by disappointment that they were about to miss a perfectly good thrill.

Campbell never came, but an emissary from the Commandant did, and he came hotfoot, bearing with him orders for me to report to the Commandant at once. 

Somehow, all humor evaporated from my joke on the spot. I knew that I would be reduced to the ranks and possibly dismissed from the Academy. It was a long, cold walk back to school. I would much sooner have faced Campbell with Springfields at twenty paces than to have faced the Commandant, and when I entered his office and saw his face I realized that my judgment was still perfectly good. He was then Lieutenant Frederick S. Strong  of the 4th Artillery, a West Pointer, and at the present time a Brigadier General in the regular army. At first he would not believe that we were only attempting a practical joke, but when I showed him the cartridges from which we had extracted the bullets, and a handkerchief stained with red ink which I had tucked in he breast of my blouse, and had explained that it was to have been used after the first shot as proof positive that I had been wounded just prior to the second shot, which was to have killed Campbell, he was the most relieved individual that I have ever seen. 

So great, in fact, was the relief of all the authorities at the school that neither Campbell nor I lost our chevrons, and got off with only a reprimand. 

I am afraid that I have run very much over my two hundred word assignment, and am fearful of what Editor-in-Chief French may do to me unless Major Quinn details Montgomery VI and VII as my personal bodyguard when I visit the Academy.



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