For a week before the great event he lived in retirement. The one topic of conversation in town was the ball game, and he found the strain too great to be borne. The team was to go to Lexington on the noon train with a mighty company of loyal followers. Every boy and girl who could meet the modest expenses was going, save the unfortunate victims of the junior class at the academy. Annette Fenton had even had a dress made in the Clayton colors.
As Sandy went into town on the important day, his heart was like a rock in his breast. There was glorious sunshine everywhere, and a cool little undercurrent of breezes stirred every leaf into a tiny banner of victory. Up in the square, Johnson’s colored band was having a final rehearsal, while on the court-house steps the team, glorious in new uniforms, were excitedly discussing the plan of campaign. Little boys shouted, and old boys left their stores to come out and give a bit of advice or encouragement to the waiting warriors. Maidens in crisp lawn dresses and flying ribbons fluttered about in a tremor of anticipation.
Sandy Kilday, with his cap pulled over his eyes, went up Back street. If he could not make the devil get behind him, he at least could get behind the devil. Without a moment’s hesitation he would have given ten years of sober middle-age life for that one glorious day of youth on the Lexington diamond, with the victory to be fought for, and the grand stand to be won.
He tried not to keep step with the music—he even tried to think of quadratic equations—as he marched heroically on to the academy. His was the face of a Christian martyr relinquishing life for a good but hopeless cause.
Late that afternoon Judge Hollis left his office and walked around to the academy. He had sympathized fully with Sandy, and wanted, if possible, to find out the result of the examination before going home. The report of the scholarship won would reconcile him to his disappointment.
At the academy gate he met Mr. Moseley, who greeted him with a queer smile. They both asked the same question:
As if in answer, there came a mighty shout from the street leading down to the depot. Turning, they saw a cheering, hilarious crowd; bright-flowered hats flashed among college caps, while shrill girlish voices rang out with the manly ones. Carried high in the air on the shoulders of a dozen boys, radiant with praise and success, sat the delinquent Sandy, and the tumult below resolved itself into one mighty cheer:
Won the day.
“The light that lies”
During the summer Sandy worked faithfully to make amends for his failure to win the scholarship. He had meekly accepted the torrent of abuse which Mrs. Hollis poured forth, and the open disapproval shown by the Meeches; he had winced under Martha’s unspoken reproaches, and groaned over the judge’s quiet disappointment.