Ben Granger, a war veteran and principal merchant, and his friend Willie Robbins were part of the San Augustine Rifles, a company that fought in the Spanish-American War. Before the war, Willie was a meek and unassuming young man, often teased by the girls in their town, including Myra Allison, the girl he had a crush on.
However, once the war began, Willie transformed into a brave and ambitious soldier, seeking fame and recognition through his heroic acts on the battlefield. As the war progressed, Willie's reputation grew, and he was eventually promoted to the rank of colonel. Meanwhile, back in their hometown, Myra married another man, Joe Granberry.
When the war ended, the San Augustine Rifles returned home to a grand celebration in their honor, with Willie as the guest of honor. Despite the festivities, Willie decided to visit Myra and Joe's home, where he found them living a simple and humble life. Myra was sewing on the porch, while Joe was working in the yard. Willie, dressed in his impressive uniform and adorned with medals, approached Myra and spoke to her, saying, "Oh, I don't know! Maybe I could if I tried!" This was a reference to a past conversation they had, where Myra had teased him about his appearance.
"Oh, I don't know! Maybe I could if I tried!"
After the brief encounter, Willie left Myra's home and returned to the celebration in his honor. However, his ambition and desire for fame seemed to have been dampened by the realization that the girl he once loved was now living a simple life with another man. The story highlights the unpredictable nature of ambition and how it can be influenced by various factors, such as love and personal relationships.