But even suspense comes to an end, and presently Joel found himself seated by West in the crowded hall, and felt his face going red and pale by turns, and knew that his heart was beating with unaccustomed violence beneath his shabby vest. Professor Wheeler made his speech—and what a long one it seemed to many a lad!—and then the fateful list was lifted from the table.
“Senior class scholarships have been awarded as follows,” announced the principal. “The Calvin scholarship to Albert Park Digbee, Waltham, Massachusetts.” Joel forgot his unpleasant emotions while he clapped and applauded. But they soon returned as the list went on. Every announcement met with uproarous commendation, and boy after boy arose from his seat and more or less awkwardly bowed his recognition. The principal had almost completed the senior list.
“Ripley scholarships to George Simms Lennox,
New York city; John Fiske,
Brookville, Mississippi; Carleton Sharp Eaton, Milton, Massachusetts;
William George Woodruff, Portland, Maine. Masters scholarships to Howard
McDonnell, Indianapolis, Indiana; Thomas Grey, Yonkers, New York;
Stephen Lutger Williams, Connellsville, Rhode Island; Barton Hobbs,
Farmington, Maine; Walter Haskens Browne, Denver, Colorado; and Justin
Thorp Smith, Chicago, Illinois.”
Joel’s hands were cold and his feet just wouldn’t keep still. The principal leaned down and took up the upper middle class list. West nudged Joel smartly in the ribs, and whispered excitedly:
“Now! Keep cool, my boy, keep cool!”
Then Joel heard Professor Wheeler’s voice reading from the list, and for a moment it seemed to come from a great distance.
“Upper middle class scholarships have been awarded as follows:” There was a pause while he found his place. “Goodwin scholarship to Harold Burke Reeves, Saginaw, Michigan.”
West subsided in his seat with a dismal groan. Joel did not hear it. It is doubtful if he heard anything until several minutes later, when the pronouncement of his name awoke him from the lethargy into which he had fallen.
“Masters scholarships to Joel March, Marchdale, Maine—”
“It’s better than nothing, Joel,” whispered Outfield. “It’s fifty dollars, you know.” But Joel made no reply. What was a Masters to him who had set his heart on the first prize of all? Presently, when the lists were over, he stole quietly out unnoticed by his chum, and when West returned to the room he found Joel at the table, head in hands, an open book before him. West closed the door and walked noiselessly forward in the manner of one in a sick-room, At length he asked in a voice which strove to be natural and unconcerned:
“What are you doing, Joel?”
The head over the book only bent closer as its owner answered doggedly: