She was on the platform reading her essay. She looked as if she had just stepped out of a flower bed. In her cheeks the carnation had left its glow, and her lips had robbed the roses. She was a healthy, fragrant, glowing American girl, of a type that we love and protect and honor.
Her essay or oration? Something that told of throbbing hope and ambition and rosy skies. Hard knocks are few in the chrysalis period. Why shouldn't this graduation girl for a time believe in the entire goodness of the world; believe in perpetual sunshine? The band plays raggy music for her now; her pulses quicken and she is happy. It is well. Why should she know that further down the path there are no flowers, the bands do not play and the clouds often shut out the sun?
Let her have her good times-this Graduation Girl. Let her glory in her triumphs and be proud of her attainments. There can never be too much happiness in the world; there is always too much sorrow.
Down in the front row are father and mother-a man and a woman who have toiled and suffered and borne much. It is the common lot. It puts deep care lines into faces, and sometimes it wrinkles hearts, but not always.
If you will look closely you will see that that old couple have just one object in life-the girl. She is of their blood. She is slipping away from them as the years go by, and often the mother cries silently because of a sorrow that is too deep for words. She is proud of her Graduation Girl, but her arms are empty, and there is an ache in her heart for the baby that has blossomed into a woman. Men love deeply and truly, but there is a holy affection that is denied them. Mothers know it-mothers only.
The essay! To those old folks it represents the climax of wisdom, the culmination of learning. The words flow like music and there is a hymn in every paragraph. True affection wears rose-colored glasses, you know.
And then, when it is all over, a queen goes to her home. She seems just a little bit higher and holier than any other girl, does this graduation daughter, and she talks to father about it, and to mother, and her eyes shine, there is a sob in her throat, and she discovers, all at once, that it wasn't the applause of the great world she yearned for, but the grand appreciation of an old man and an old woman; not so much a desire for fame and a career as to justify their wonderful faith in her ability.