The second half of the game was filled with a tense, fruitless strife. Five points to five points, and four minutes of time to play. The struggle had ceased to be a turning of tricks and test of speed. Henceforth, it was man against man, pound for pound. Suddenly, the opposing team braced itself and began a steady drive down the gridiron. With desperate energy, the Sunrise eleven fought for ground, giving way slowly, defending their goal like true Spartans, dying by inches, until only three yards of space were left on which to die. The rooters shrieked, and the girls sang of courage. Then a silence fell. Three yards, and the Sunrise team turned to a rock ledge as invincible as the limestone foundation of their beloved college halls. The center from which all strength radiated was Victor Burleigh. Against him the weight of the line-bucking plunged. If he wavered the line must crumble. The crowd hardly breathed, so tense was the strain. But he did not waver. The ball was lost and the last struggle of the day began. Two minutes more, the score tied, and only one chance was left.
Since the night of the storm, Vic had known little rest. His days had been spent in hard study, or continuous practice on the field; his nights in the sick room. And what was more destructive to strength than all of this was the newness and grief of a blind, overmastering adoration for the one girl of all the school impossible to him. The strain of this day's game, as the strain of all the preparation for it, had fallen upon him, and the half hour in the rotunda had sapped his energy beyond every other force. Love, loss, a reputation attacked, possible expulsion for assaulting a professor, injustice, anger--oh, it was more than a burden of wearied muscles and wracked nerves that he had to lift in these two minutes!
In a second's pause before the offense began, Vic, who never saw the bleachers, nor heard a sound when he was in the thick of the game, caught sight now of a great splash of glowing red color in the grandstand. In a dim way, like a dream of a dream, he thought of American Beauty roses of which something had been said once--so long ago, it seemed now. And in that moment, Elinor Wream's sweet face, with damp dark hair which the lamplight from Dr. Fenneben's door was illumining, and the softly spoken words, "I shall always remember you as one with whom I could never be afraid again"--all this came swiftly in an instant's vision, as the team caught its breath for the last onslaught.
"Victor, for victory. Lead out Burleigh," Trench cried to his mates, and the sweep of the field was on; and Lagonda Ledge and the whole Walnut Valley remembers that final charge yet. Steady, swift, invincible, it drove its strong foe down the white-crossed sod-- so like a whirlwind, that the watching crowds gazed in bewilderment. Almost before they could comprehend the truth, the enemy's goal was just before the Sunrise warriors, and half a minute of time remained in which to play. One more line plunge with Burleigh holding the ball! A film came before his eyes. A sudden blankness of failure and despair seized him. In the grandstand, Elinor Wream stood clutching a pennant in both hands, her dark eyes luminous with proud hope. Amid all the yells and cheers, her sweet voice rang out:
"Victor, Victor! Don't forget the name your mother gave you!"
Vic neither saw nor heard. Yet in that moment, strength and pride and indomitable will power came sweeping back to him. One last plunge against this wall of defense upreared before him, and Burleigh, with half the enemy's eleven clinched to drag him back, had hurled himself across the goal line and lay half-conscious under a perfect shower of fragrant crimson roses, while the song of victory in swelling chorus pealed out on the November air. Half a minute later, Trench had kicked goal. The bleachers chanted eleven counts, the referee's whistle blew, and the game was done!
_The air for the wing of the sparrow, The bush for the robin and wren, But always the path that is narrow And straight for the children of men_. --ALICE CARY
_Oh, it is excellent To have a giant's strength, but tyrannous To use it like a giant_. --SHAKESPEARE