The back of the teacher’s head struck the edge of a stone, and when he clambered up from his rather undignified position his back was covered with blood. Deep silence reigned in the school-room as he walked down the aisle, glaring fiercely right and left. Getting his hat he left the school-room and went to a near-by drug store to have his wounds dressed.
While he was gone, the children took charge of the school-room and played pranks of every description. Abe Lincoln took the teacher’s chair and played “’fessor.”
“Sallie Ann ain’t yer got wax in yer mouf?”
“Den take dis stick and prop yer mouf opun fur half hour. Dat’ll teach yer a lesson.”
“Billy Smith, yer didn’t know yer lessun,” says teacher Abe. “Yer may stan’ on one leg de ballunce ob de ebenning.”
“Henry Jones, yer sassed a white boy ter day. Pull off yer jacket. I’ll gib yer a lessun dat yer’ll not furgit soon. Neber buck up to yer s’periors.”
“John Jones, yer black, nappy head rascal, I’ll crack yer skull if yer doan keep quiut.”
“Cum year, yer black, cross-eyed little wench, yer. I’ll teach yer to go to sleep in here.” Annie Moore was the little girl thus addressed.
After each sally from Abe there was a hearty roar of laughter, he imitated the absent teacher so perfectly in look, voice, manner, sentiment, and method of punishment.
Taking down the cowhide used for flogging purposes Abe left his seat and was passing to and fro, pretending to flog those who most frequently fell heir to the teacher’s wrath. While he was doing this Billy Smith stealthily crept to the teacher’s chair and placed a crooked pin in it in order to catch Abe when he returned to sit down.
Before Abe had gone much further the teacher’s face appeared at the door, and all scrambled to get into their right places and to assume studious attitudes. Billy Smith thought of his crooked pin and had the “cold sweats.” Those who had seen Billy put the pin in the chair were torn between two conflicting emotions. They wanted the pin to do its work, and therefore hoped. They feared Billy’s detection and therefore despaired.
However, the teacher did not proceed at once to take his seat. He approached Mrs. Piedmont and Belton, who had taken seats midway the room and were interested spectators of all that had been going on. Speaking to Mrs. Piedmont, he said: “What is your name?”
She replied: “Hannah Lizabeth Piedmont.”
“Well, Hannah, what is your brat’s name?”
“His name am Belton Piedmont, arter his grandaddy.”
“Well, Hannah, I am very pleased to receive your brat. He shall not want for attention,” he added, in a tone accompanied by a lurking look of hate that made Mrs. Piedmont shudder and long to have her boy at home again. Her desire for his training was so great that she surmounted her misgivings and carried out her purposes to have him enrolled.