A cross fire of emotions went on in his mind. One moment he berated himself for a sentimental idiot, the next the call of his blood, honest, country blood, came to him and, echoing down the years, were the tenets of honor that had made this great national holiday a possibility.
He glanced at Betty, sitting beside him. Would she smile so sweetly if she knew the truth?
"They did their share in the making of this nation." Boyce heard the speaker again. "Now it is our time. It may not seem that we can do a great deal, here in this little village but if we live our lives so that we reflect the true spirit of Americanism, then we shall be doing our share. We can't all be famous but we can all be clean, upright men and women working for the good of the community and so for the good of the whole country. Remember what George Washington said, that he hoped always to possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what he considered the most enviable of titles, the character of an honest man."
An honest man! Boyce started mentally, as the words hit him. Mentally, he hit back. He was honest! What he proposed to do was quite within the law. Within the law, yes--but playing fair? He thought of the baseball game of the morning and how the boys yelled for fair playing. The whole world seemed to be thinking of it--hurling it at him.
When the exercises were over, he walked silently home with Betty.
"How would you like to be rich?" he asked suddenly.
"I don't know," she considered. "There are lots of things nicer than a lot of money. It doesn't buy a really happy time nor health, nor--" she hesitated. "I guess it's more apt to get one into trouble," she added.
"Well, anyway," he said, "I've come about business. The railroad has decided to build a spur into Content Corners. It's coming right up the valley and they're going to make a hustling little town of this place."
"Sure as you live. And that piece of property where the two rivers meet, that--" he stopped. What was it Washington had said about a man of honor? And the boys--!
A great revulsion of feeling swept through him. He saw!
"Betty," he said softly, "Betty, I've a confession to make. When I came here this morning, I was going to do a very rotten thing."
She looked up quickly, startled. "You--?"
"Yes. I'm sorry. I must tell you. Before any of you people knew of the new road to Content Corners, I was going to get long options on all the best land and then sell it to the railroad. I--I planned to make a lot of easy money. By more or less cheating my friends."
"You couldn't do that--you would not have done it if you had the chance!"