The scholarship (from «Green Years» by A. J. Cronin)
… Robert Shannon will be able to continue his studies only if he gets the scholarship founded by Sir John Marshall, but his best friend Gavin becomes his rival.
It was the first day of the Easter Holidays. I was going fishing with Gavin. The last pleasure I allowed myself before beginning to prepare for the Marshall.
We met early in the morning. Gavin was waiting for me. Impossible to describe the silent joy of our meeting... We walked side by side through the quiet village to the lake.
"No fishing until evening, I am afraid”, Gavin murmured. "No wind and the day is too bright”.
Until the sun went down, Gavin and I sat on an upturned boat, outside his father's fishing hut. We spoke very little. At seven o'clock, after Mrs. Glen, the woman of the cottage had given us some tea and boiled eggs and milk, we pushed the boat into the water. I took the oars. When we were far from the shore, Gavin spoke, hidden by the growing darkness.
"I understand you are sitting the Marshall, Robie?”
I was greatly surprised. "Yes… How did you know?”
"Mrs. Keith told my sister”, Gavin paused, breathing heavily. "I am trying for it too”.
I looked at him in silence. I was shocked and confused.
"But Gavin… You do not need the money!”
Gavin frowned. "You'll be surprised." He spoke slowly. "My father has had trouble in the business". He paused. "He has done so much for me... now then he is worried, I would like to do something for him."
I was silent. I knew that Gavin adored his father; and I had heard whispers that all was not well with the Mayor's business. Yet his words came as an unexpected blow.
"All the cleverest boys in the country are competing," he continued. "One more won't make much difference. Besides there is the honour of the town. It is twelve years since a Levenford boy took the scholarship." He drew a deep breath. "One of us must win it”.
"You may be the one, Gavin”, I said in a low voice; I knew he was a fine scholar.
Gavin replied slowly. "I would like to win for my father’s sake. But I think you have a better chance”. He paused. "If you win, will you go on to be a doctor?”
Gavin was the only person on earth to whom I could tell the truth. I said: "I wish with all my heart to be a medical biologist, you know, a doctor who does research”. There was a long pause.
"Yes”, Gavin said thoughtfully. "It is bad that we have to fight each other over the scholarship. But, it will not affect our friendship, of course”.
Yet I felt a sudden sadness in my heart. I thought: "Gavin and I… One of us must be defeated”.