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HOME > Classical Novels > Boys of the Central > CHAPTER XIX. COMMENCEMENT.
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 The next day was Commencement.  
A brief, informal session was held in the morning, but it was a session from which none wished to be absent, for then the names of the prize-winners were to be announced.
There were many anxious hearts, and a few hopeful ones, for though the rank-list read the day before told each boy his standing in class, it did not settle the matter of the prize scholarships.
It is safe to say that only one boy grudged Stanley Clark the first rank that he had so fairly won by his steady, thorough work. That boy was Everett St. John. He would not have been present at all, that morning, but for the Latin essays. He had still a lingering hope that his might be adjudged the best.
But now Mr. Horton was writing on the blackboard, and every boy gazed eagerly forward to read what was written. In his clear hand, they read the names of the six colleges offering the scholarships. Then, with the chalk in his fingers, he faced the school.
“You all heard the rank-list read yesterday,” he said, “so you know that Clark, St. John and Gordon would have the first claim on the second, third and fourth of these scholarships, but as these three are to enter other colleges, these scholarships go to the next in rank, Graham, Griffin and Bent; the two last named being members, as you know, of section A.
“The last two scholarships on the list have, I am happy to say, been won by girls. And now there remains but one—the first—which will be awarded to the boy whose Latin thesis has been considered by the judges to be the best. That thesis I hold in my hand, but I do not know what name it bears, as it was handed to me in this sealed envelope.”
Every eye watched as he tore open the envelope and read the name of Stanley Clark, and hearty cheers expressed the satisfaction of his classmates at the result.
As soon as he could secure silence, Mr. Horton went on:—
“The judges desire me to say that they have awarded the prize to Stanley Clark because of the high character of his essay, and they also wish me to state that, in elegance of style and choice of words, the essay submitted by Everett St. John is decidedly superior.”
It was Clark who led applause for St. John, but the latter only scowled in response to it. His pride and ambition were too bitterly hurt to appreciate any expression of kindly feeling.
“There is one more prize to be given this year,” Mr. Horton went on, taking a small case from his desk. “It is a gold medal which has never been given before, but the donor has made it a perpetual gift from this time. It is to be given to the boy in the senior class who has made the greatest advance in moral character during the year. Of course, we can only judge from what we see, and therefore this is the most difficult prize to award; so you, to whom the decision is left, must think carefully before you decide. This is to be awarded by vote of the class. I should have added that, by express desire of the gentleman who gives this prize, it is to be, this year, awarded to some member of section D. After this year, it is not to be so limited.”
The boys looked wonderingly at one another. They did not quite like the responsibility laid upon them.
“May I speak to some of the boys, sir?” Clark asked, and as Mr. Horton gave assent, he quickly turned to Hamlin, and whispered:—
“I think Crawford ought to have it, don’t you?”
“Yes,” said Hamlin, promptly. “I had thought of Freeman, but though he has improved immensely[269] this year, he hasn’t made such a jump as Crawford, because he never got so far down.”
“And I’m sure it will help Crawford to know how we feel about it,” suggested Clark.
From one to another the suggestion passed, and, when Mr. Horton called for the decision, it was almost an unanimous one for Crawford. He was taken utterly by surprise. Not one thought of the possibility of its being awarded to him had entered his mind, and he was prepared to vote most heartily for Freeman; but he was honestly pleased to know that his efforts to “do the square thing,” as he would have expressed it, had been appreciated, and that shining gold medal was a constant incentive to fresh effort thereafter. It was many a year before he discovered that it was his stern guardian, Mr. Chase, who had given this prize, earnestly hoping t............
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