When he got over the shock, which was not until the next day, one predominating feeling remained: it was a gloomy pride—a pride in his proven maturity. He was old enough, it appeared, to have been the same thing as engaged to a person who was now a Married Woman. His manner thenceforth showed an added trace of seriousness and self-consideration.
Having recovered his equipoise and something more, he entirely forgot that moment of humble admiration he had felt for Dora Yocum on the day of his flattest prostration. When he saw her sitting in the classroom, smiling brightly up at the teacher, the morning of the school’s opening in the autumn, all his humility had long since vanished and she appeared to him not otherwise than as the scholar whose complete proficiency had always been so irksome to him.
“Look at her!” he muttered to himself. “Same ole Teacher’s Pet!”
Now and then, as the days and seasons passed, and Dora’s serene progress continued, never checked or even flawed, there stirred within some lingerings of the old determination to “show” her; and he would conjure up a day-dream of Dora in loud lamentation, while he led the laughter of the spectators. But gradually his feelings about her came to be merely a dull oppression. He was tired of having to look at her (as he stated it) and he thanked the Lord that the time wouldn’t be so long now until he’d be out of that ole school, and then all he’d have to do he’d just take care never to walk by her house; it was easy enough to use some other street when he had to go down-town.
“The good ole class of Nineteen-Fourteen is about gone,” he said to Fred Mitchell, who was still his most intimate friend when they reached the senior year. “Yes, sir; it’s held together a good many years, Fred, but after June it’ll be busted plum up, and I hope nobody starts a move to have any reunions. There’s a good many members of the ole class that I can stand and there’s some I can’t, but there’s one I just won’t! If we ever did call a reunion, that ole Yocum girl would start in right away and run the whole shebang, and that’s where I’d resign! You know, Fred, the thing I think is the one biggest benefit of graduating from this ole school? It’s never seein’ Dora Yocum again.”
This was again his theme as he sat by the same friend’s side, in the rear row of the class at Commencement, listening to the delivery of the Valedictory. “Thinks she’s just sooblime, don’t she!” he whispered morosely. “She wouldn’t trade with the President of the United States right now. She prob’ly thinks bein’ Valedictorian is more important than Captain of the State University Eleven. Never mind!” And here his tone became huskily jubilant. “Never mind! Just about a half-an-hour more and that’s the last o’ you, ole girl! Yes, sir, Fred; one thing we can feel pretty good over: this is where we get through with Dora Yocum!”