PRIZE STORIES OF 1924
strange thing. Half-rising from her chair, she plucked him by the sleeve, and, drawing him back into his seat, began to talk to him rapidly and eagerly.
Finally he stepped to the flag-draped table. From his vest pocket he took a small velvet case, which he opened and placed upon the desk at his side. The Third Grade drew a deep breath. Over the edge of the little box they caught the flash of gold. There were excited whispers among which Ramon’s name was audible. Ramon, in the front row, tried to look unconscious and succeeded only in making his eyes blank and Indian-like, while his little chin quivered and his teeth chattered.
The Big Boss told them what an impressive occasion this had been, at which they beamed complacently; and what a remarkable teacher they had, at which they applauded uproariously; and how gratified he was to know that they were striving for such lofty ideals. And now it was his pleasant duty to bestow the medal which had been awarded to the pupil who had, throughout the year, shown himself most truly American. Would Ramon Sedillo step forward?
Ramon Sedillo did. Perhaps it would be more truthful to say that Ramon Sedillo swaggered forward, but we must remember that it is not every day that a small Mexican boy receives from the Big Boss a medal for true Americanism. When Ramon retired after the ceremony, rosy and smiling, he was followed by the happy applause of his proud classmates.
Then something not provided for in the programme happened. The Big Boss unfastened from his pocket a heavy gold watchfob on a rich black ribbon. As he placed this, also, on the table beside him, he winked solemnly at Ticher. For a moment he did not seem to know what to say. His face worked and became very red. The Third Grade watched in polite concern; Miss Lipscomb, in open alarm. Finally he began to talk.
Because of something unforeseen that had happened that afternoon, he told them, it had been decided to bestow another prize for—for—well, in short, for distinguished service in the cause of Americanism. All year, he reminded them, Miss Lipscomb had held before them the idea that true Americans, to avoid spreading disease germs among their innocent