“Sometimes, do you know, I almost think you are a poet, Sandy; you are always thinking the things the poets write about.”
“Do you, now, true?” he asked seriously, dropping down on the grass beside her. Then he laughed. “You’ll be having me writing rhymes, now, in a minute.”
“Why not?” she urged.
“I must stick to my course,” he said. “I’d never be a real one. They work for the work’s sake, and I work for the praise. If I win the scholarship, it’ll be because you want me to, Martha; if I come to be a lawyer, it’s because it’s the wish of the judge’s heart; and if I win out in the end, it will be for the love of some one—some one who cares more for that than for anything else in the world.”
She dropped her eyes, while he watched the flight of a song-bird as it wheeled about overhead. Presently she opened an old portfolio and took from it a little sketch.
“I have been trying to get up courage to show it to you all week,” she said, with a deprecatory laugh.
“It’s the river,” cried Sandy, “just at sundown, when the shadows are slipping away from the bank! Martha, why didn’t ye tell me? Are there more?”
He ransacked the portfolio, drawing out sketch after sketch and exclaiming over each. They were crude little efforts, faulty in drawing and in color; but the spirit was there, and Sandy had a vague instinct for the essence of things.
“I believe you’re the real kind, Martha. They’re crooked a bit, but they’ve got the feel of the woods in ’em, all right. I can just hear the water going over those stones.”
Martha’s eyes glowed at the praise. For a year she had reached forward blindly toward some outlet for her cramped, limited existence, and suddenly a way seemed open toward the light.
“I wanted to learn how before I showed you,” she said. “I am never going to show them to any one but you and mother and father.”
“But you must go somewhere to study,” cried Sandy. “It’s a great artist you’ll be some day.”
She shook her head. “It’s not for me, Sandy. I’ll always be like a little beggar girl that peeps through the fence into a beautiful garden. I know all the wonderful things are there, but I’ll never get to them.”
“But ye will,” cried Sandy, hot with sympathy. “I’ll be making money some day, and I’ll send ye to the finest master in the country; and you will be getting well and strong, and we’ll go—”
Mr. Meech, shuffling up the walk toward them, interrupted. “Studying for the examination, eh? That’s right, my boy. The judge tells me that you have a good chance to win the scholarship.”
“Did he, now?” said Sandy, with shameless pleasure; “and you, Mr. Meech, do ye think the same?”
“I certainly do,” said Mr. Meech. “Anybody that can accomplish the work you do at home, and hold your record at the academy, stands an excellent chance.”
Sandy thought so, too, but he tried to be modest. “If it’ll be in me, it will come out,” he said with suppressed triumph as he swung his books across his shoulder and started home.