Agony stood up in her corner of the room, her lips opened to tell Dr. Grayson that it was Mary who happened to have on the green bloomer suit and had climbed the tree, but her words were drowned in a cheer that nearly raised the roof off the Craft House. Before she knew it Miss Judy and Tiny Armstrong had seized her, set her up on their shoulders, and were carrying her around the room, while the building fairly rocked with applause. Thrilled and intoxicated by the cheering, Agony began to listen to the voice of the tempter in her bosom. No one would ever know that it had not really been she who had done the brave deed; not a soul knew of her lending her suit to Mary because of the mishap in the springhouse. Mary Sylvester was gone; was on her way to Japan; she would never hear about it; and the only person who had witnessed the deed did not know their names; he had only remembered the green bloomer suit. The man himself was unknown, nobody at camp could ever ask him about the affair. He had gone from the neighborhood and would never come face to face with her and discover his mistake; the secret was safe in her heart.
In one bound she could become the most popular girl in camp; gain the favor of the Doctor and the councilors—especially of Miss Amesbury, whom she was most desirous of impressing. The sight of Miss Amesbury leaning forward with shining eyes decided the question for her. The words trembling on her lips were choked back; she hung her head and looked the picture of modest embarrassment, the ideal heroine.
Set down on the floor again by Tiny and Miss Judy, she hid her face on Miss Judy’s shoulder and blushed at Dr. Grayson’s long speech of praise, in which he spoke touchingly of the beauty of a nature which loved the wild dumb creatures of the woods and sought to protect them from harm; of the cool courage and splendid will power that had sent her out on the shaking branch when her very heart was in her mouth from fear; of the modesty which had kept her silent about the glorious act after she returned to camp. When he took both her hands in his and looked into her face with an expression of admiring regard in his fine, true eyes, she all but told the truth of the matter then and there; but cowardice held her silent and the moment passed.
“Let’s have a canoe procession in her honor!” called Miss Judy, and there was a rush for the dock.
Agony was borne down in triumph upon the shoulders of Miss Judy and Tiny, with all the camp marching after, and was set down in the barge of honor, the first canoe behind the towing launch, while all the Alley drew straws for the privilege of riding with her. Still cheering Agony enthusiastically the procession started down the river in a wild, hilarious ride, and Agony thrilled with the joy of being the center of attraction.
“I have arrived at last,” she whispered triumphantly to herself as she went to bed that night, and lay awake a long time in the darkness, thinking of the cheers that had rocked the Craft House and of the flattering attention with which Miss Amesbury had regarded her all evening.