One resolve was uppermost in Joel’s heart when he began his last year at Hillton, and that was to gain the Goodwin scholarship. His failure the year before had only strengthened his determination to win this time; and win he did, and was a very proud and happy lad when the lists were read and the name of “Joel March, Marchdale, Maine,” led all the rest. And it is to be supposed that there was much happiness in the great rambling snow-covered farmhouse up north when Joel’s telegram was received; for Joel could not wait for the mail to carry the good news, but must needs run at once to the village and spend a bit of his prospective fortune on a “night message.”
Despite this fortune of two hundred and forty dollars, Joel elected to spend his Christmas holidays again at Hillton, and Outfield, when he learned of the intention, declined his uncle’s invitation and remained also. The days passed quickly and merrily. There was excellent skating on the river, and Joel showed West the methods of ice-fishing, though with but small results of a finny nature.
Cicero’s Orations gave place to De Senectute, the Greek Testament to Herodotus, and Plane Geometry to Solid; and spring found Joel with two honor terms behind him, and as sure as might be of passing his final examination for college.
Again in June St. Eustace and Hillton met on the river, and, as though to atone for her defeat on the gridiron, Fate gave the victory to St. Eustace, the wearers of the blue crossing the finish a full length ahead of the Hillton eight. The baseball team journeyed down to Marshall and won by an overwhelming majority of runs, and journeyed home again in the still of a June evening, bringing another soiled and battered ball to place in the trophy case of the gymnasium.
And finally, one bright day in early summer, Joel put on his best clothes and, accompanied by West and Clausen, took his way to the chapel, where, amid an eloquent silence, Professor Wheeler made his farewell address, and old, gray-haired Dr. Temple preached the Valedictory Sermon. Then the diplomas were presented, and, save for the senior class exercises in the school hall in the afternoon, Class Day was over, and Joel March’s school days were past. Joel was graduated at the head of the class, an honor man once more; and Outfield West, greatly to every one’s amazement, not excepting his own, was also on the honor list. Cooke passed at last, and later confided to West that he didn’t know what he’d do now that they wouldn’t let him stay longer at Hillton; he was certain he would feel terribly homesick at Harwell. West playfully suggested that he stay at Hillton and take an advanced course, and Cooke seemed quite in the notion until he found that he would be obliged to make the acquaintance of both Livy and Horace.