One of my patrons became my implacable enemy because I gave his chip-of-the-old-block son some much merited discipline. This man, Sampson by name, was the most malignant fellow I ever saw. One night when with my pupils I was enjoying a skating party, he appeared with some “sodomites” threatening to chuck me under the ice, and they might have succeeded but for two of my friends who, when the enemy were close upon my heels, suddenly stretched a rope across their path which tripped them up, nearly breaking their heads in the concussion with the ice.
On another occasion, several of us crawled into a long hole to explore a cave in the woods. While laboriously making our way on all fours, carrying torches, we were suddenly horrified by fiendish hisses. Visions of snakes danced before our minds, the girls shrieked, the torches fell in our frantic scramble and we were left in Stygian darkness. A mocking, demoniacal laugh was heard, winged creatures dashed against our faces scratching and lacerating.
After much confusion and terror, we succeeded in relighting our torches, and found ourselves in a wizard-like cave. The bats, for such were our assailants, fled away like lost spirits, grotesque shapes were seen formed from the rocks by dripping waters during long ages, fantastic icicles like the stalactites and stalagmites of the famous Mammoth Cave hung suspended from the arching roof, but a resistless longing to reach the air of heaven urged us on, and we crawled to the opening through which we entered. I was in the advance, and on reaching the entrance was horrified to find it nearly closed by a large rock, and behind it appeared the malignant face of Sampson, who danced in Satanic glee, laughing and shouting.
“I’ve got you rats in a hole, and there you’ll stay till you die!” he shouted.
We knew our enemy too well to expect any mercy, and painfully made our way backwards to the main cavern. None had ever explored it further. I at last saw a glimmer of light, and drawing nearer I discovered an opening to the upper world through which, with great exertions, we dragged ourselves back to the sweet air of heaven. The delight of the reaction was exquisite like that of escaping from paradise lost to paradise regained.
When the ferocious Sampson heard of our deliverance, he fled, and was never heard of again, yet this demon in human form had a twin brother who was one of the best men in the town.
“From the same cradle’s side,
from the same mother’s knee,
One to long darkness and the frozen tide, and one to the peaceful sea.”
Dreams of my youth.
In the early spring came the close of school term, and teacher, pupils and parents parted with mutual regrets. My pecuniary reward was small; but I shall always remember with pleasure the kind assurances received that I left the intellectual status of that town much higher than I found it. I have visited the place only once since, but my old friends had all passed on to the higher life, and my young ones were scattered to the four winds of heaven in search of that happiness and wealth which is seldom found beneath the stars.