Then, in the midst of her triumph the leaden weight began to press down on her spirits, pulling her back to realization. Her smile faded, her lips trembled, her voice was so husky that she could hardly speak.
“It’s—so—hot—in—here,” she panted. “Let me go out where it’s cool.”
And all unsuspecting they led her out and bore her to her tent in triumph.
THE TORCH KINDLES
Even the Winnebagos wondered slightly at the extremely quiet way in which Agony received the great honor that had been bestowed upon her. She did not expand as usual under the influence of the limelight until she fairly radiated light. She hummed no gay songs, she played no pranks on her friends; she did not outdo herself in work and play as she used to in the days of yore when she was the observed of all observers. Silent and pensive she wandered about Camp the next day and seemed rather to be shunning the gay groups in Mateka and on the beach. Most of the girls believed that Agony’s silence proceeded from the genuine humility of the truly great when singled out for honor, and admired her all the more for her sober, pensive air. She found herself overwhelmed with requests to stand for her picture, and the younger girls thronged her tent, begging for locks of hair to take home as keepsakes. Agony escaped from them as best she could without offending them.
She sedulously avoided Mateka, for there sat Hinpoha busily painting robins on the place cards for the banquet which was to take place the following night. This banquet was given each year as a wind-up to the camp activities, with the winner of the Buffalo Robe in the place of honor at the head of the table. Agony felt weak every time she thought of that banquet. Why had she not the courage to confess the deception to Dr. Grayson, and give up the Buffalo Robe, she thought miserably. No, she could never do that. The terrific pride which was Agony’s very life and soul would not let her humble herself. The pain it would give Dr. Grayson, the astonishment and disappointment of the Winnebagos, the coldness of the beloved councilors—and Jane Pratt! How could she ever humble herself before Jane Pratt and witness Jane’s keen relish of her downfall? She could hear Jane’s spiteful laughter, her malicious remarks, her unrestrained rejoicing over the situation.
And Miss Amesbury! No, she could never let Miss Amesbury know what a cheat she was. No, no, the thing had gone too far, she must see it through now. Better to endure the gnawings of conscience than give herself away now. And Nyoda—Nyoda who had praised her so sincerely, and Slim and the Captain, who thought it was a “bully stunt”—could she let them know that it was all a lie? She shrank back shuddering from the notion. No, she must go on. No one would ever find it out now. Other people had received honors which they hadn’t earned; the world was full of them; thus she tried to soothe her conscience. But she averted her eyes every time she passed the Buffalo Robe hanging over the fireplace in Mateka.