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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 25. King's Base And A Spelling-Lesson
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The Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 25. King's Base And A Spelling-Lesson Post by :geoall28 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Eggleston Date :May 2012 Read :2217

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The Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 25. King's Base And A Spelling-Lesson


As the three who usually gave the most trouble on the playground, as well as in school, were now in detention at every recess, the boys enjoyed greatly their play during these three days.

It was at this time that they began to play that favorite game of Greenbank, which seems to be unknown almost everywhere else. It is called "king's base," and is full of all manner of complex happenings, sudden surprises, and amusing results.

Each of the boys selected a base or goal. A row of sidewalk trees were favorite bases. There were just as many bases as boys. Some boy would venture out from his base. Then another would pursue him; a third would chase the two, and so it would go, the one who left his base latest having the right to catch.

Just as Johnny Meline was about to lay hold on Jack, Sam Crashaw, having just left _his base, gave chase to Johnny, and just as Sam thought he had a good chance to catch Johnny, up came Jack, fresh from having touched his base, and nabbed Sam. When one has caught another, he has a right to return to his base with his prisoner, unmolested. The prisoner now becomes an active champion of the new base, and so the game goes on until all the bases are broken up but one. Very often the last boy on a base succeeds in breaking up a strong one, and, indeed, there is no end to the curious results attained in the play.

Jack had never got on in his studies as at this time. Mr. Williams took every opportunity to show his liking for his young friend, and Jack's quickened ambition soon put him at the head of his classes. It was a rule that the one who stood at the head of the great spelling-class on Friday evenings should go to the foot on Monday, and so work his way up again. There was a great strife between Sarah Weathervane and Jack to see which should go to the foot the oftenest during the term, and so win a little prize that Mr. Williams had offered to the best speller in the school. As neither of them ever missed a word in the lesson, they held the head each alternate Friday evening. In this way the contest bade fair to be a tie. But Sarah meant to win the prize by fair means or foul.

One Friday morning before school-time, the boys and girls were talking about the relative merits of the two spellers, Joanna maintaining that Sarah was the better, and others that Jack could spell better than Sarah.

"Oh!" said Sarah Weathervane, "Jack is the best speller in school. I study till my head aches to get my lesson, but it is all the same to Jack whether he studies or not. He has a natural gift for spelling, and he spends nearly all his time on arithmetic and Latin."

This speech pleased Jack very much. He had stood at the head of the class all the week, and spelling did seem to him the easiest thing in the world. That afternoon he hardly looked at his lesson. It was so nice to think he could beat Sarah Weathervane with his left hand, so to speak.

When the great spelling-class was called, he spelled the words given to him, as usual, and Sarah saw no chance to get the coveted opportunity to stand at the head, go down, and spell her way up again. But the very last word given to Jack was _sacrilege_, and, not having studied the lesson, he spelled it with _e in the second syllable and _i in the last. Sarah gave the letters correctly, and when Jack saw the smile of triumph on her face, he guessed why she had flattered him that morning. Hereafter he would not depend on his natural genius for spelling. A natural genius for working is the best gift.

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