The Vision Splendid (Masterpiece Collection): Great Western Classicby William MacLeod Raine
A lean, wiry boy, hatchet-faced,
The air was mellow with the warmth of the young spring sun. Locusts whirred in rhapsody. Bluebirds throbbed their love songs joyously. The drone of insects, the shimmer of hear, were in the atmosphere. One could almost see green things grow. To confine youth within four walls on such a day was an outrage against human nature.
A lean, wiry boy, hatchet-faced, stared with dreamy eyes out of the window of his prison. By raising himself in his seat while the teacher was not looking he could catch a silvery gleam of the river through the great firs. His thoughts were far afield. They were not concerned with the capitals of the States he was supposed to be learning, but had fared forth to the reborn earth, to the stir and movement of creeping things. The call of nature awakening from its long winter sleep drummed in his heart. He could sympathize with the bluebottle buzzing against the sunny windowpane in its efforts to reach the free world outside.
Recess! With the sound of the gong his heart leaped, but he kept his place in the line with perfect decorum. It would never do to be called back now for a momentary indiscretion. From the school yard he slipped the back way and dived into a bank of great ferns. In the heart of this he lay until the bell had called his classmates back to work. Cautiously he crept from his hiding place and ran down to the river.
Flinging himself on Big Rock, with his chin over the edge, he looked into the deep holes under the bank where the trout lay close to the strings of shiny moss, their noses to the current, motionless save for the fanning tails.
Idly he enjoyed himself for a happy hour, letting thoughts happen as they would. Not till the school bell rang for dismissal did he drag himself back with a sigh to the workaday world that called. He had a lawn to mow and a back yard to clean up for Mr. Rawson.
With his cap stuck on the back of his head and his hands in the pockets of his patched trousers, the boy went whistling townward on his barefoot way. At Adams Street he met the schoolchildren bound for home. A dozen boys from his own room closed in on him with shouts of joyous malice.
"Played hookey! Played hookey! Jeff Farnum played hookey!" they shrilled at him.
Ned Merrill assumed leadership of the young Apaches. "You're goin' to catch it. Old Webber was down askin' for you. Wasn't he, Tom? Wasn't he, Dick?"
Tom and Dick lied cheerfully to increase Jeff's dread. They added graphic details to help the story.
The victim looked around with stoicism. He remembered the philosophy of the optimist that a licking does not last long.
"Don't care if he was down," the boy bluffed.
"Huh! Mr. Don't Care! Mr. Don't Care!" shrieked Merrill gleefully.
They made a circle around Jeff and mocked him. Once or twice a bolder tormentor snatched at his cap or pushed a neighbor against him. Then, with the inconstancy of youth, they suddenly deserted him for more diverting game.
A forlorn little Italian girl was trying to slip past on the other side of the street. Someone caught sight of her and with a whoop the Apaches were upon her pell-mell. She began to run, but they hemmed her in. One tugged at her braided hair. Another flipped mud at her dress from the end of a stick. Merrill snatched her slate and made off with it.
Jeff cut swiftly across the street. Merrill was coming directly toward him, his head turned to the girl. Triumphant whoops broke from his throat. He bumped into Jeff, stumbled, and went down in the mud.
Young Merrill was up in an instant, clamorous for battle. His hands and clothes were plastered with filth.
"I'm goin' to lick the stuffin' out of you," he bellowed.
Jeff said nothing. He was very white. His fingers worked nervously.
"Yah! Yah! He's scared," the mob jeered.
Jeff was. In that circle of hostile faces he found no sympathy. He had to stand up to the bully of the class, a boy who could have given him fifteen pounds.
- CreateSpace Publishing
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.28(d)
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