Part 4 out of 4
"She doesn't deserve it!" until she ran away and hid herself in the
So vivid was the dream that she wakened, trembling in ever limb, and
burrowed into the pillow to shut out the sight of those dreadful
pointing fingers, which still seemed to be before her eyes. Once awake
she could not go back to sleep. She looked enviously across the tent at
Hinpoha, who lay calm and peaceful in the moonlight, a faint smile
parting her lips. She had nothing on her mind to keep her awake. Sahwah,
too, was wrapped in profound slumber, her brow serene and untroubled;
she had no uncomfortable secret to disturb her rest. How she envied
She envied Oh-Pshaw, who had taken the swimming test that day after a
whole summer of trying to learn to swim, and was so proud of herself
that she seemed to have grown an inch in height. There was no flaw in
her happiness; she had won her honor fairly.
Then, as Agony lay there, her favorite heroines of history and fiction
seemed to rise up and repudiate her--Robert Louis Stevenson, with whom
she had formed an imaginary comradeship; there he stood looking at her
scornfully and coldly; Joan of Arc, her especial heroine; she turned
away in disgust; so all the others; one by one they reproached her.
Agony tossed for a long while and then rose, slipped on her bathrobe and
shoes and stockings and wandered about for awhile, finally sitting down
on a rustic bench on the veranda of Mateka, where she could look out on
the river and the wide sky. Even the beauty of the night seemed to mock
her. The big, bright stars, which used to twinkle in such a friendly
fashion, now gleamed coldly at her; the light breeze rustling in the
leaves was like so many spiteful whispers telling her secret. She had
plucked a red lily that grew outside her tent door as she came out, and
sat twirling it in her fingers. In an incredibly short time it whithered
and let its petals droop. Agony gazed at it superstitiously. An old
nurse had once told her that a flower would wither in the hand of a
person who had told a lie. The idle tale came back to her now. Was it
perhaps true after all? Did she have a withering touch now?
The things Miss Amesbury had said to her at sunset on the river the day
before came back with startling force. "We carry our destiny in our own
hands. We are what we make ourselves. Whatever kind of bud we are, just
such a flower we will be. You are setting your face now in the direction
in which you are going to travel. To be a noble woman you must have been
a noble girl. The Future is only a great many Nows added up. Every
worthy action you perform now will make it easier to perform another one
later on, and every unworthy one will do the same thing. If your lamp is
dim you can't light the way for others...."
Agony looked at herself pitilessly and shuddered. Was this the road she
was going to travel; was this the direction in which she had set her
face? Cheat, deceiver, that was what she was. The winds whispered it;
the river babbled it; the very stars seemed to twinkle it. Agony closed
her eyes, and put her hands over her ears to shut out the little
insinuating sounds; and in the silence her very heart beats throbbed it,
* * * * *
In the hour before dawn Miss Amesbury sat up in bed, under the
impression that someone had called her name. Yes, there was someone on
her balcony; in the dim light she could make out a drooping figure
beside her bed.
"Miss Amesbury," faltered a low, but familiar voice.
"Why Agony, child!" exclaimed Miss Amesbury, now well awake and
recognizing her visitor. "What is the matter? Are you sick?"
"Yes," replied Agony quietly, "sick of deceiving people."
And there, in the dim light, she told her whole story, the story of
vaulting ambition and timely temptation, of action in haste and
repentance at weary leisure.
"So that was it," Miss Amesbury exclaimed involuntarily, as Agony
finished. "It seemed to me that you had something on your mind; it
puzzled me a great deal. How you must have suffered in conscience, poor
She put out her hand and drew Agony down on the bed, laying cool fingers
on her hot forehead. Agony, entirely taken aback by Miss Amesbury's
sympathetic attitude, for she had expected nothing but scorn and
contempt, broke down and began to weep wildly. Miss Amesbury let her cry
for awhile for she knew that the overburdened heart and strained nerves
must find relief first of all. After awhile she began to speak soothing
words, and gradually Agony's tempestuous sobs ceased and she grew calm.
Then the two talked together for a long while, of the dangers of
ambition, the seeking for personal glory at whatever cost. When the
rising sun began to redden the ripples on the river Agony's heart once
more knew peace, and she lay sleeping quietly, worn out, but tranquil in
conscience. She had at last found the courage to make her decision; she
would tell the Camp at Morning Sing the true story of the robin, and
decline the honor of the Buffalo Robe. Agony's torch, dim and smoky for
so long, at last was burning bright and high.
* * * * *
It was over. Agony sat on the deck of the _Carribou_ beside Miss
Amesbury. Camp had vanished from sight several minutes before behind an
abrupt bend in the river, and was now only a memory. Agony sat pensive,
her mind going back over the events of the day. It had been harder than
she thought--to stand up in Mateka, and looking into the faces about
her, tell the story of her deceit, but she had done it without
flinching. Of course it had created a sensation. There was a painful
silence, then several audible gasps of astonishment, and nervous giggles
from the younger girls, and above these the scornful, unpleasant laugh
of Jane Pratt. But Agony was strangely serene. Being prepared for almost
any demonstration of scorn she was surprised that it was no worse. Now
that the weight of deceit was off her conscience and the haunting fear
of discovery put at an end the relief was so great that nothing else
mattered. She bore it all tranquilly--Dr. Grayson's fatherly advice on
the evils of ambition; the snubs of certain girls; Oh-Pshaw's
sympathetic tears; Jo Severance's unforgettable look of unbelieving
astonishment; Bengal Virden's prompt transferring of her affections to
Sahwah; the loving loyalty of the Winnebagos, who said never a word of
And now it was all over, and she was going away with Miss Amesbury to
spend a week with her in her home, going away the day before Camp
closed. Miss Amesbury, loving friend that she was, realized that it was
well both for Agony and for the rest of the girls that she should not be
present at that farewell banquet where she was to have been presented
with the Buffalo Robe, and had borne her away as soon as possible.
And now once more it was sunset, and the evening star was shining in the
west, and it seemed to Agony that it had never seemed so fair and
friendly before. Agony's face was pensive, but her heart was light, for
now at last she knew that she was not a coward, and that "when the time
came she would be able to do the brave and splendid thing."