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John Herbert Quick
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about Vandemark's Folly.

It never pays to be a slave.  It never benefits a man or a people to submit to tyranny.  A slave is a man forgotten of God.  That fight against slavery was a beautiful, a joyful thing to me, with all its penalties of compassion and guilty feeling afterward.  I think the best thing a man or boy can do is to find out how far and to whom he is a slave, and fight that servitude tooth and nail as I fought Ace.  It would make this a different world.

CHAPTER III

I SEE THE WORLD, AND SUFFER A GREAT LOSS

The strange thing to me about my fight with Ace was that nobody thought of such a thing as punishing me for it.  I was free to fight or not as I pleased.  I needed to be free more than anything else, and I wanted plenty of good food and fresh air.  All these I got, for Captain Sproule, while stern and strict with us, enforced only those rules which were for the good of the boat, and these seemed like perfect liberty to me—­after I whipped Ace.  As for my old tyrant, he recovered his spirits very soon, and took the place of an underling quite contentedly.  I suppose he had been used to it.  I ruled in a manner much milder than his.  I had never learned to swear—­or to use harder words than gosh, and blast, and dang where the others swore the most fearful oaths as a matter of ordinary talk.  I made a rule that Ace must quit swearing; and slapped him up to a peak a few times for not obeying—­which was really a hard thing for him to do while driving; and when he was in a quarrel I always overlooked his cursing, because he could not fight successfully unless he had the right to work himself up into a passion by calling names and swearing.

As for myself I walked and rode erect and felt my limbs as light as feathers, as compared with their leaden weight when I lived at Tempe and worked in the factory.  Soon I took on my share of the fighting as a matter of course.  I did it as a rule without anger and found that beyond a bloody nose or a scratched face, these fights did not amount to much.  I was small for my age, and like most runts I was stronger than I looked, and gave many a driver boy a bad surprise.  I never was whipped, though I was pummeled severely at times.  When the fight grew warm enough I began to see red, and to cry like a baby, boring in and clinching in a mad sort of way; and these young roughs knew that a boy who fought and cried at the same time had to be killed before he would say enough.  So I never said enough; and in my second year I found I had quite a reputation as a fighter—­but I never got any joy out of it.

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