Slumber came hard to her that night, and when she finally did drop off it was to dream that the Buffalo Robe was being presented to her, but just as she put out her hand to take it Mary Sylvester appeared on the scene and called out loudly, “She doesn’t deserve it!” and then all the girls pointed to her in scorn and repeated, “She doesn’t deserve it!” “She doesn’t deserve it!” until she ran away and hid herself in the woods.
So vivid was the dream that she wakened, trembling in ever limb, and burrowed into the pillow to shut out the sight of those dreadful pointing fingers, which still seemed to be before her eyes. Once awake she could not go back to sleep. She looked enviously across the tent at Hinpoha, who lay calm and peaceful in the moonlight, a faint smile parting her lips. She had nothing on her mind to keep her awake. Sahwah, too, was wrapped in profound slumber, her brow serene and untroubled; she had no uncomfortable secret to disturb her rest. How she envied them!
She envied Oh-Pshaw, who had taken the swimming test that day after a whole summer of trying to learn to swim, and was so proud of herself that she seemed to have grown an inch in height. There was no flaw in her happiness; she had won her honor fairly.
Then, as Agony lay there, her favorite heroines of history and fiction seemed to rise up and repudiate her—Robert Louis Stevenson, with whom she had formed an imaginary comradeship; there he stood looking at her scornfully and coldly; Joan of Arc, her especial heroine; she turned away in disgust; so all the others; one by one they reproached her.
Agony tossed for a long while and then rose, slipped on her bathrobe and shoes and stockings and wandered about for awhile, finally sitting down on a rustic bench on the veranda of Mateka, where she could look out on the river and the wide sky. Even the beauty of the night seemed to mock her. The big, bright stars, which used to twinkle in such a friendly fashion, now gleamed coldly at her; the light breeze rustling in the leaves was like so many spiteful whispers telling her secret. She had plucked a red lily that grew outside her tent door as she came out, and sat twirling it in her fingers. In an incredibly short time it whithered and let its petals droop. Agony gazed at it superstitiously. An old nurse had once told her that a flower would wither in the hand of a person who had told a lie. The idle tale came back to her now. Was it perhaps true after all? Did she have a withering touch now?
The things Miss Amesbury had said to her at sunset on the river the day before came back with startling force. “We carry our destiny in our own hands. We are what we make ourselves. Whatever kind of bud we are, just such a flower we will be. You are setting your face now in the direction in which you are going to travel. To be a noble woman you must have been a noble girl. The Future is only a great many Nows added up. Every worthy action you perform now will make it easier to perform another one later on, and every unworthy one will do the same thing. If your lamp is dim you can’t light the way for others....”