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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 12. Greenbank Wakes Up
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The Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 12. Greenbank Wakes Up Post by :kdwashere Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Eggleston Date :May 2012 Read :3014

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The Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 12. Greenbank Wakes Up


If the pigeons had not crossed the valley on Monday, nobody would have played truant, and if nobody had played truant on Monday, there would not have been occasion to whip three boys on Tuesday morning, and if Ben Berry and Riley had escaped a beating on Tuesday morning, they would not have thought of putting gunpowder into the stove on Wednesday at noon, and if they had omitted that bad joke, Columbus would not have got into trouble and run away from school, and if he had escaped the fright and the flight, he might not have had the fever, and the town would not have been waked up, and other things would not have happened.

So then, you see, this world of ours is just like the House that Jack Built: one thing is tied to another and another to that, and that to this, and this to something, and something to something else, and so on to the very end of all things.

So it was that the village was thrown into a great excitement as the result of a flock of innocent pigeons going over the heads of some lazy boys. In the first place, Susan Lanham talked about things. She talked to her aunts, and she talked to her uncles, and, above all, she talked to her father. Now Susan was the brightest girl in the town, and she had a tongue, as all the world knew, and when she set out to tell people what a brute the old master was, how he had beaten two innocent boys, how bravely Jack had carried himself, how frightened little Columbus was, and how sick it had made him, and how mean the boys were to put the powder there, and then to let the others take the whipping,--I say, when Susan set out to tell all these things, in her eloquent way, to everybody she knew, you might expect a waking up in the sleepy old town. Some of the people took Susan's side and removed their children from the school, lest they, too, should get a whipping and run home and have brain fever. But many stood up for the old master, mostly because they were people of the sort that never can bear to see anything changed. "The boys ought to have told who put the powder in the stove," they said. "It served them right."

"How could the master know that Jack and Columbus did not do it themselves?" said others. "Maybe they did!"

"Don't tell me!" cried old Mrs. Horne. "Don't tell me! Boys can't be managed without whipping, and plenty of it. 'Bring up a child and away he goes,' as the Bible says. When you hire a master, you want a _master_, says I."

"What a tongue that Sue Lanham has got!" said Mr. Higbie, Mr. Ball's brother-in-law.

The excitement spread over the whole village. Doctor Lanham talked about it, and the ministers, and the lawyers, and the loafers in the stores, and the people who came to the post-office for their letters. Of course, it broke out furiously in the "Maternal Association," a meeting of mothers held at the house of one of the ministers.

"Mr. Ball can do every sum in the arithmetic," urged Mrs. Weathervane.

"He's a master hand at figures, they do say," said Mother Brownson.

"Yes," said Mrs. Dudley, "I don't doubt it. Jack's back is covered with figures of Mr. Ball's making. For my part, I should rather have a master that did his figuring on a slate."

Susan Lanham got hold of this retort, and took pains that it should be known all over the village.

When Greenbank once gets waked up on any question, it never goes to sleep until that particular question is settled. But it doesn't wake up more than once or twice in twenty years. Most of the time it is only talking in its sleep. Now that Greenbank had its eyes open for a little time, it was surprised to see that while the cities along the river had all adopted graded schools,--_de_-graded schools, as they were called by the people opposed to them,--and while even the little villages in the hill country had younger and more enlightened teachers, the county-town of Greenbank had made no advance. It employed yet, under the rule of President Fillmore, the same hard old stick of a master that had beaten the boys in the log school-house in the days of John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. But, now it was awake, Greenbank kept its eyes open on the school question. The boys wrote on the fences, in chalk:


and thought the bad spelling of the name a good joke, while men and women began to talk about getting a new master.

Will Riley and Ben Berry had the hardest time. For the most part they stayed at home during the excitement, only slinking out in the evening. The boys nicknamed them "Gunpowder cowards," and wrote the words on the fences. Even the loafers about the street asked them whether Old Ball had given them that whipping yet, and how they liked "powder and Ball."

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