“Mr. Fluxion, may I trouble you to bring up the irons?” continued Mr. Lowington, when the boatswain and carpenter had “walked” the rebel aft, in spite of his struggling and kicking.
“Irons!” gasped Shuffles, as he heard the request of the principal.
He trembled with rage as he uttered the word. The irons seemed to pierce his soul. Probably he did not think that the son of a wealthy gentleman would be compelled to submit to such an indignity as being put in irons.
Mr. Fluxion came on deck with a pair of handcuffs. It was the first time they had been seen, and no student even knew there were any on board. The discipline of the ship had been as gentle as it was firm, and this was the first time such instruments were necessary.
“Mr. Peaks, put the irons on him!” said Mr. Lowington, his usual dignity unruffled by angry emotions.
“Don’t put them on me!” cried Shuffles, making an effort to disengage himself from the grasp of his captors.
“Put them on at once!” added the principal.
“You shall not put them on me! I will die first!” roared the rebel.
It was easier to talk than to do, in the hands of two sturdy sailors, one of whom had used the cat in the navy, when its use was tolerated. Shuffles did not die, and he was ironed, in spite of his struggles and his protest.
Shuffles struggled with the irons and with the stout men who held him until he had exhausted himself; and then, because his frame, rather than his spirit, was worn down, he was quiet. It was the first case of severe discipline that had occurred on board, and it created a tremendous sensation among the students.
Mr. Lowington stood with folded arms, watching the vain struggles of the culprit, until he was reduced to a state of comparative calmness. He looked sad, rather than angry, and his dignity was not impaired by the assault upon his authority.
“Shuffles, I am sorry to see one who has been an officer of the ship reduced to your condition; but discipline must and shall be maintained,” said the principal. “We are on the high seas now, and disobedience is dangerous. You led me to believe that you had reformed your life and conduct.”
“It isn’t my fault,” replied Shuffles, angrily.
“You had better not reply to me in that tone,” added Mr. Lowington, mildly.
“Yes, I will!”
“Mr. Topliffe,” continued the principal.
“Here, sir,” replied the head steward.
“You will have the brig cleared out for use.”
“Yes, sir;” and the head steward went below to obey the order.