“I’ll go when I’m ready,” he said,—“‘n’ I guess I won’t go afore I’m ready.”
“You’re ready now,” said Master Langdon, turning up his cuffs so that the little boys noticed the yellow gleam of a pair of gold sleeve-buttons, once worn by Colonel Percy Wentworth, famous in the Old French War.
Abner Briggs, Junior, did not apparently think he was ready, at any rate; for he rose up in his place, and stood with clenched fists, defiant, as the master strode towards him. The master knew the fellow was really frightened, for all his looks, and that he must have no time to rally. So he caught him suddenly by the collar, and, with one great pull, had him out over his desk and on the open floor. He gave him a sharp fling backwards and stood looking at him.
The rough-and-tumble fighters all clinch, as everybody knows; and Abner Briggs, Junior, was one of that kind. He remembered how he had floored Master Weeks, and he had just “spunk” enough left in him to try to repeat his former successful experiment an the new master. He sprang at him, open-handed, to clutch him. So the master had to strike,—once, but very hard, and just in the place to tell. No doubt, the authority that doth hedge a schoolmaster added to the effect of the blow; but the blow was itself a neat one, and did not require to be repeated.
“Now go home,” said the master, “and don’t let me see you or your dog here again.” And he turned his cuffs down over the gold sleeve-buttons.
This finished the great Pigwacket Centre School rebellion. What could be done with a master who was so pleasant as long as the boys behaved decently, and such a terrible fellow when he got “riled,” as they called it? In a week’s time everything was reduced to order, and the school-committee were delighted. The master, however, had received a proposition so much more agreeable and advantageous, that he informed the committee he should leave at the end of his month, having in his eye a sensible and energetic young college-graduate who would be willing and fully competent to take his place.
So, at the expiration of the appointed time, Bernard Langdon, late master of the School District No. 1, Pigwacket Centre, took his departure from that place for another locality, whither we shall follow him, carrying with him the regrets of the committee, of most of the scholars, and of several young ladies; also two locks of hair, sent unbeknown to payrents, one dark and one warmish auburn, inscribed with the respective initials of Alminy Cutterr and Arvilly Braowne.
The moth Flies into the candle.