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important, the effect of Faith's golden army,” Gordon went on, "and as poor as head against the gray-green rock-the ex- Job's turkey, of course. They could n't act moment they had discovered that they help me any. I would n't let them if they cared, young Hearne harked back to the could after I 've failed them this way." gnawing tenor of his thoughts. “About He winced under some pursuing, torturthose examinations, the Worm and I have ing thought. “When I think of my worked out a system, and I 'm staking father," began Gordon huskily and turned everything upon it-I 've wasted my time and stared for a moment up the sun-kissed so I can't possibly get the principles of the river. stuff now-all I can do is to learn some “If I'd only known you a little sooner," stock problems and pray Heaven they'll he told Faith. “When I began to love ask me those. There's one about waste- you- just those few weeks agoI seemed weirs that Granny Ellery-I beg your suddenly to wake up for the first time. pardon, dear, I forgot-is nutty about and I 've gone sliding through each year by always gives. I 'm going to learn that the skin of my teeth here at the Pointbackward and forward. Of course it getting all the fun and doing as little work would be just like the old gazoo," said as I could. I was perfectly content being Hearne with another uncousinly lapse, "to the goat of the class -- I knew the fellows take a perverse streak and not give it this all liked me and that seemed to me the one year, but if he does, I 'll surely make principal thing-and I never dreamed a cold max' on that problem, and that there was danger of my really getting ought to count a lot.
dropped until they told me my passing “In a way it seems hardly fair"-he would depend on these exams, and I began knit his boyish brows anxiously-"because to realize what a mighty slim chance I I don't know enough to pass. But I figure stood of getting through them. I 'm just it out it 's a good deal like the 0.D.'s beginning to see what a selfish beast I 've keeping his eyes on the ground, and it 's all been all along. Why, my army career right for me to take that forlorn hope. means everything to my father! He's I'd make Uncle Sam a good officer if been looking forward all my life to the I don't know much engineering,—my time when I 'd be in his regiment. He father's son could n't help that,” Hearne. and the mater have been saving up for added proudly. “And the odds are all three years now to come on to my graduagainst me. Goodness knows!” He leaned ation-and you don't know what it means his dark head against his clenched fists. to save anything on a captain's pay-and “Good Lord, what a fool I 've been,” he at the last minute they had to send the groaned.
money to help a busted relative out West. Faith stretched out a small, comforting It 's a merciful thing they 're spared the hand. “It can't make any difference to shame of seeing me perhaps kicked out. me, Gordon,” she told him tenderly. “I'll And you, Faith,” he turned to the girl relove you just the same if you don't morsefully, “if I do pass, do you realize pass."
they 're the goat shoulder straps of the “But it will have to make all the dif- class I 'll be laying at your feet, dear?” ference in the world, dearest," answered “I don't care," cried the girl in a fervor the boy, despairingly. "Don't you see, if of loyalty. She looked up into the handI can't graduate, I can't be an officer, and some, troubled face above her with adorit 's me for baling boxes or sweeping an ing eyes. “And you will pass, Gordon," office in the cold world. Heaven knows she added with a solemn faith which transI'd have nerve enough asking your father figured her in her lover's eyes. “I know to let you marry a second lieutenant, but God will help you. I pray Him to every at least we could starve respectably on day.” that pay, and the other way we 'd have to Hearne kept these words of hers, and wait at least two or three years before I'd that last memory of her rapt young face, have anything."
as a beacon light of inspiration in the two They stared at each other mutely, both black days before the examination. He their young faces gone quite white at the prayed himself, too, in the depths of his mere thought of such a tragedy.
despair, with a helpless, half-shamed boy“You know my people are all in the ish pleading to escape the fate his folly had
brought upon him. Every spare moment compassing darkness of the wall, Hearne he tussled heroically with the few knotty made his stealthy way to within a few problems on which he had determined to yards of the unsuspecting private. At the stake his all. The fighting blood of his first turn of his broad back the cadet, a soldier ancestry was stirred at last, and swift streak of gray and white, sped leaped gallantly to the call of a hopeless through the forbidden gates and stood charge. He had worked hard the eve- panting without, the first dangerous stage ning before the examination, to the cruel of his journey past. accompaniment of the far-away music of In the hostile moonlight it was hard the hop room, and when_“Army Blue" work making from one to another of the sounded the approach of “Taps," he closed bulwarks of shadowed tree and hedge. victoriously the pages on waste-weirs, Sometimes the fatal uniform of blue would master at least of that darling of Granny Alash into sight, and Hearne would crouch Ellery's heart. When “Tubs” Richards low, his heart pounding betrayal to his after the dance looked in to deliver a note All the time he was thinking of to him, Hearne had already blanketed his Faith "in trouble." Could she be ill? transom, placed his candle beneath the Every moment conjured distressing reabed, and was lying fat under it himself, sons for her urgent summons. Her cousin prepared for a final night's vigil with en- lived far up the road past Grant Hall, and gineering. He crawled back to read his when at length Hearne reached the house small missive whose dear familiar hand he was shaking with an exhaustion miles writing had already set his blood dancing of swift running could not have caused. A moment later he emerged with a white, At the sight of him the little figure in determined face and began to throw on white upon the steps flew down to meet his dress-jacket. The Worm gazed at him, and Gordon caught her in his arms him incredulously.
in a passionate relief. Faith herself was “Good Heavens, His'n, you can't mean clinging to him with a happy abandonyou 're going to 'run it out'— three days ment she had never shown before. before graduation and with your record! “You poor darling,” she cried at the You 'll be fired double quick if they ‘hive' sight of his pale face. “Did you worry
about me? I 'm so sorry, but I could n't His'n did not stop for answer. He was write you the truth, and I had to say that buckling his belt as he made for the door. I was in trouble so you would be sure to The Worm caught him by the shoulder. come. It 's good news I have for you,
“His'n, listen to me- I won't let you dear- just look at this." do so mad a thing. Throw away every
She thrust a roll of papers into his hand chance of graduation for a girl!-shows excitedly. Hearne stared down at them what kind she is to ask such a thing when stupidly. The moonlight had illumined she knows what it may mean to you,” the last page, and the question of the bungled the poor Worm.
waste-weirs which lately had been his His'n wrenched himself loose. "You will companion day and night, was clearly replease remember that you are speaking of vealed. He wondered for a moment the girl I 'm to marry, Hastings,” he said, whether he was losing his reason and the dropping for the first time in their ac- thing had become an obsession to him. quaintance the old affectionate, bantering His dazed senses tried to grasp what Faith nickname. “She is in trouble and needs was saying. me. I've got to go!"
“Did you ever know such luck?" she A moment later he was outside in the was asking triumphantly. "I was in Cousin darkness, his shoes in his hand, peering Edward's study this afternoon when he cautiously toward the broad shaft of moon- was putting these papers away, and he said, light staining the stairs. No spying tacti- 'Those questions decide the fate of more cal officer with his hated bull's-eye lantern than one poor fellow in the graduating seemed in sight, however, so he shot down class.' And right away it Aashed into my them lightly, skirted the shadows of the mind what I could do. I watched where he hall below, and found himself out in the put the key to his desk, and then I rushed area with the sentry pacing measuredly right home from the hop- they 're at an across his exit. Clinging close to the en- officers' bridge party and won't be home
for an hour yet-and got them out for at length he stood in the section-room beyou. Here 's a pencil and paper, so you fore the formidable tribunal, the instruccan copy them.”
tor impressive in full-dress uniform and She looked up at him happily, her face sword, the distinguished Board of Visitors aglow with her triumph. Something in on the platform, and the curious faces of Hearne's eyes made her falter.
friends and strangers looking down from "My God, Faith," he said in a voice the gallery above, he still felt nothing but she had never heard before.
a quiet determination to do his best. Even mean to say you stole those papers?" In- a glint of golden hair beneath a pinkvoluntarily he recoiled a step.
trimmed leghorn in the corner failed to She cried out at that in a rush of indig- move him from his curious passivity. nation and wounded love. “How can you The first question came within the say such a thing? I took them for you, range of his limited accomplishment. Of Gordon. There is n't anything I would the second he had only a hazy idea, but he n't do for you,” she added piteously, and found himself to his own amazement with took a little trembling propitiatory step a preternatural mental keenness working toward him.
it to a triumphant finish. The third and But he made no move to meet her. He fourth he could not answer, but the fifth stood staring at her in a helpless horror the Worm had gone over with him only against which she hid her eyes.
the day before. His fate hung trembling “You thought I would cheat to pass ?" on the outcome of the sixth. he demanded, still in a strained, unnatural With the first words of Captain Ellery, voice, and then choking suddenly, he his mind, trained to that attack, marshaled wheeled and went blindly down the road. in perfect array its disciplined facts on the
It must have been a merciful Providence waste-weirs. He began with a quiet aswhich directed his steps home, for he him- surance, “I am required to discuss” — and self looked neither to the right nor to the then stopped short. left-indeed did not even remember hav- A sudden hush of anxiety fell over the ing reached there. He only knew he spent section-room. The visitors leaned over an endless night looking into darkness, and the railing in silent encouragement, and rose to a dawn which found his world in even the Members of the Board cast huruins.
man glances toward the gallant young The Worm, cursing silently and deeply figure whose shoulder-straps were hangthe ways of women in general, watched ing in the balance. him miserably as he sat during the morn- "Yes, Mr. Hearne," — the instructor ing in a stupor of suffering. As the fatal prompted helpfully. hour drew near, it was the Worm again But Hearne did not hear him. He was who got him into his dress uniform; he standing in a moon-lit garden with the himself would not have even made a move girl he loved in his arms, and between to go. He did not rouse from his lethargy them famed the fateful question whose until his room-mate pulled him back at the answer trembled on his lips. He had not last moment.
realized before what that meant. He had "His'n, I know something has hit you known the answer already, to be sure; he pretty hard," hesaid, sympathetically. “But had not looked since within his book. But you can't give up the fight this way, old there had been treachery and fraud; even fellow. There 's your father, you know if innocently he had looked upon that paand me. Graduation can't mean anything per; and by the stern ethics of the corps it to me without you-you know that.” was for him to pay the price of that dis
The words started Hearne into sudden honor. alertness; nothing could matter any more He drew a long breath and laid his to him: his life was over and done with; pointer down. “I can't answer that quesbut a man could n't think of just himself. tion, sir," he said clearly, and the examiAnd he put before him the lined, careworn nation was over. face of his father and the Worm's dear He had gotten through at last the final ugliness as he waited for the examination. good-bys of the men with whom he had He felt no trace of nervousness, no faint- marched and studied and played for four est qualm of either hope or dread. When years, and had borne up steadfastly under
their clumsy sympathy and real regret. ring he had given her lay in his pocket. That torpor which had enchained him for It read: the last twenty hours had mercilessly left him, and each insignificant little act pos
I am sending you your ring. You have sessed an undreamed-of power to stab his shown plainly enough how little you care for heart. It hurt with an almost physical suf
I could not have believed you would
There is nothing else to fering as he looked his last upon the wide hurt me so cruelly.
Faith Ellery. grassy plain, sentineled by the white and say. gray of its splendid buildings, and its faithful outer guard of emerald hills and stately He knew instinctively that he could kiss river, He had hated it fiercely enough in away her anger and hurt pride, but while his plebe year; he had thought he felt all his heart was crying out for her lovelimerely a tolerance in the three which fol- ness, he knew too that she had killed somelowed; now it seemed wrenching his verything she could never make live again. He heartstrings as he swung sharply away leaned over and dropped the ring into the from it down the hill.
river. The Worm went with him to the edge With that manhood which had sprung of cadet limits. Their parting was un- to life in a night he strove to face resoemotional and offhand in the extreme. lutely his bitter thoughts—the sweetheart
“Try not to spend all your time with he had lost and the father he had yet to the 'fems,'” His’n had urged quite jaun- face, the past he had ruined and the future tily, looking fixedly at a clump of wild
not yet born.
But when the sunset gun flowers in the road. “Don't trifle with thundered among the hills, his brave comall their young affections."
He straightened uncon“I 'll do my best not to," the Worm sciously and gave the old familiar salute had answered gaily, with a lump in his to the fag- the fag he had proved unthroat. “Good-by, old chap, and take care worthy to serve. There was no one to of yourself."
see him as he put his head down upon his Then somehow Hearne had found him- arms on the side of the boat. self alone upon the ferry, and the Hudson He did not know that he had passed creeping between himself and his Alma with flying colors his real examination in Mater. A note from Faith and the class the honor of the corps.