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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 24. An Apology
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The Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 24. An Apology Post by :geoall28 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Eggleston Date :May 2012 Read :1830

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The Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 24. An Apology

CHAPTER XXIV. AN APOLOGY

Of course, there was a great deal of talk in the village. The I-told-you-so people were quite delighted. Old Mother Horn "always knew that boys couldn't be managed without switching. Didn't the Bible or somebody say: 'Just as the twig is bent the boy's inclined?' And if you don't bend your twig, what'll become of your boy?"

The loafers and loungers and gad-abouts and gossips talked a great deal about the failure of the new plan. They were sure that Mr. Ball would be back in that school-house before the term was out, unless Williams should whip a good deal more than he promised to. The boys would just drive him out.

Jack told his mother, with a grieved face, how harsh the new master had been, and how he had even said they were _not fit to be trusted_.

"That's a very harsh word," said Mrs. Dudley, "but let us make some allowances. Mr. Williams is on trial before the town, and he finds himself nearly ruined by the thoughtlessness of the boys. He had to wait an hour and a half, with half of the school gone. Think how much he must have suffered in that time. And then, to have to take a rebuke from Mr. Weathervane besides, must have stung him to the quick."

"Yes, that's so," said Jack, "but then he had no business to take it for granted that we did it on purpose."

And Jack went about his chores, trying to think of some way of writing to the master an address which should be severe, but not too severe. He planned many things but gave them up. He lay awake in the night thinking about it, and, at last, when he had cooled off, he came to the conclusion that, as the boys had been the first offenders, they should take the first step toward a reconciliation. But whether he could persuade the angry boys to see it in that light, he did not know.

When morning came, he wrote a very short paper, somewhat in this fashion:

Mr. Williams:

Dear Sir: We are very sorry for what we did yesterday, and for the trouble we have given you. We are willing to take the punishment, for we think we deserve it; but we hope you will not think that we did it on purpose, for we did not, and we don't like to have you think so.

Respectfully submitted.

Jack carried this in the first place to his faithful friend, Bob Holliday, who read it.

"Oh, you've come down, have you?" said Bob.

"I thought we ought to," said Jack. "We _did give him a great deal of trouble, and if it had been Mr. Ball, he would have whipped us half to death."

"We shouldn't have forgot and gone away at that time if Old Ball had been the master," said Bob.

"That's just it," said Jack; "that's the very reason why we ought to apologize."

"All right," said Bob, "I'll sign her," and he wrote "Robert M. Holliday" in big letters at the top of the column intended for the names. Jack put his name under Bob's.

But when they got to the school-house it was not so easy to persuade the rest. At length, however, Johnny Meline signed it, and then Harry Weathervane, and then the rest, one after another, with some grumbling, wrote their names. All subscribed to it excepting Pewee and Ben Berry and Riley. They declared they never would sign it. They didn't want to be kept in at recess and after school like convicts. They didn't deserve it.

"Jack is a soft-headed fool," Riley said, "to draw up such a thing as that. I'm not afraid of the master. I'm not going to knuckle down to him, either."

Of course, Pewee, as a faithful echo, said just what Riley said, and Ben Berry said what Riley and Pewee said; so that the three were quite unanimous.

"Well," said Jack, "then we'll have to hand in our petition without the signatures of the triplets."

"Don't you call me a triplet," said Pewee; "I've got as much sense as any of you. You're a soft-headed triplet yourself!"

Even Riley had to join in the laugh that followed this blundering sally of Pewee.

When the master came in, he seemed very much troubled. He had heard what had been said about the affair in the town. The address which Jack had written was lying on his desk. He took it up and read it, and immediately a look of pleasure and relief took the place of the worried look he had brought to school with him.

"Boys," he said, "I have received your petition, and I shall answer it by and by."

The hour for recess came and passed. The girls and the very little boys were allowed their recess, but nothing was said to the larger boys about their going out. Pewee and Riley were defiant.

At length, when the school was about to break up for noon, the master put his pen, ink, and other little articles in the desk, and the school grew hushed with expectancy.

"This apology," said Mr. Williams, "which I see is in John Dudley's handwriting, and which bears the signature of all but three of those who were guilty of the offence yesterday, is a very manly apology, and quite increases my respect for those who have signed it. I have suffered much from your carelessness of yesterday, but this apology, showing, as it does, the manliness of my boys, has given me more pleasure than the offence gave me pain. I ought to make an apology to you. I blamed you too severely yesterday in accusing you of running away intentionally. I take all that back."

Here he paused a moment, and looked over the petition carefully.

"William Riley, I don't see your name here. Why is that?"

"Because I didn't put it there."

Pewee and Ben Berry both laughed at this wit.

"Why didn't you put it there?"

"Because I didn't want to."

"Have you any explanation to give of your conduct yesterday?"

"No, sir; only that I think it's mean to keep us in because we forgot ourselves."

"Peter Rose, have you anything to say?"

"Just the same as Will Riley said."

"And you, Benjamin?"

"Oh, I don't care much," said Ben Berry. "Jack was fox, and I ran after him, and if he hadn't run all over creation and part of Columbia, I shouldn't have been late. It isn't any fault of mine. I think Jack ought to do the staying in."

"You are about as old a boy as Jack," said the master. "I suppose Jack might say that if you and the others hadn't chased him, he wouldn't have run 'all over creation,' as you put it. You and the rest were all guilty of a piece of gross thoughtlessness. All excepting you three have apologized in the most manly way. I therefore remove the punishment from all the others entirely hereafter, deeming that the loss of this morning's recess is punishment enough for boys who can be so manly in their acknowledgments. Peter Rose, William Riley, and Benjamin Berry will remain in school at both recesses and for a half-hour after school every day for three days--not only for having forgotten their duty, but for having refused to make acknowledgment or apology."

Going home that evening, half an hour after all the others had been dismissed, the triplets put all their griefs together, and resolved to be avenged on Mr. Williams at the first convenient opportunity.

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