BY the time autumn had
made way for winter, Bert felt thoroughly at home at Dr. Johnston’s, and
was just about as happy a boy as attended this renowned institution. In
spite of the profound awe the doctor inspired, he ventured to cherish
toward him a feeling of love as well as of respect; and although Mr.
Snelling did not exactly inspire awe, nor even much respect, he managed
to like him not a little also. As for the boys—well, there were all
sorts and conditions of them; good, bad, and indifferent; boys who
thought it very fine and manly to smoke, and swear, and swap improper
stories, and boys who seemed as if they would have been more
appropriately dressed in girls’ clothes, so lacking were they in true
manly qualities; while between these two extremes came in the great
majority, among whom Bert easily found plenty of bright, wholesome
There were some odd chaps at the school, with whose peculiarities Bert
would amuse the home circle very much, as he described them in his own
graphic way. There was Bob Mackasey, called by his companions, “Taffy
the Welshman,” because he applied the money given him by his mother
every morning to get some lunch with, to the purchase of taffy; which
toothsome product he easily bartered off for more sandwiches and cakes
than could have been bought for ten cents, thus filling his own stomach
at a very slight cost to his far-seeing mother.
A big fat fellow in knickerbockers, by name Harry Rawdon, the son of an
officer in the English army, had attained a peculiar kind of notoriety
in the school, by catching flies and bottling them.
Then there was Larry Saunders, the dandy of the school, although
undoubtedly one of the very plainest boys in it, who kept a tiny square
of looking-glass in his desk, and would carefully arrange his toilet
before leaving the school in the afternoon, to saunter up and down the
principal street of the city, doing his best to be captivating.
Two hot-tempered, pugnacious chaps, by name Bob Morley and Fred Short,
afforded great amusement by the ease with which they could be set at
punching one another. It was only necessary for some one to take Bob
Morley aside and whisper meaningly that Fred Short had been calling him
names behind his back, or something of that sort equally aggravating, to
put him in fighting humour. Forthwith, he would challenge Master Fred in
the orthodox way—that is, he would take up a chip, spit on it, and toss
it over his shoulder. Without a moment’s hesitation, Fred would accept
the challenge, and then the two would be at it, hammer and tongs,
fighting vigorously until they were separated by the originators of the
mischief, when they thought they had had enough of it. They were very
evenly matched, and as a matter of fact did not do one another much
harm; but the joke of the thing was that they never seemed to suspect
how they were being made tools of by the other boys, who always enjoyed
these duels immensely.
Another character, and a very lovable one this time, was a nephew of the
doctor’s, Will Johnston by name, but universally called “Teter,” an odd
nickname, the reason of which he did not seem to understand himself.
This Teter was one of those good-natured, obliging, reckless,
happy-go-lucky individuals who never fail to win the love of boys. His
generosity was equalled only by his improvidence, and both were
surpassed by his good luck.
Bert conceived a great admiration for Teter Johnston. His undaunted
courage, as exhibited in snowball fights, when, with only a handful of
followers he would charge upon the rest of the school, and generally put
them to flight; his reckless enterprise and amazing luck at marbles and
other games; his constant championing of the small boys when tormented
by the larger ones, more than one bully having had a tremendous
thrashing at his hands;_
these were very shining qualities in Bert’s eyes, and they fascinated
him so, that if “fagging” had been permitted at Dr. Johnston’s, Bert
would have deemed it not a hardship, but an honour, to have been Teter’s
In strong contrast to his admiration for Teter Johnston was his
antipathy to Rod Graham. Rod was both a sneak and a bully. It was in his
character as a sneak that he showed himself to Bert first, making
profuse demonstrations of goodwill, and doing his best to ingratiate
himself with him, because from his well-to-do appearance he judged that
he would be a good subject from whom to beg lunch, or borrow marbles,
and so on. But Bert instinctively disliked Rod, and avoided him to the
best of his ability. Then Rod revealed the other side of his nature.
From a sneak he turned into a bully, and lost no opportunity of teasing
and tormenting Bert, who, being much smaller than he, felt compelled to
submit, although there were times when he was driven almost to
desperation. It was not so much by open violence as by underhanded
trickery that Rod vented his spite, and this made it all the harder for
Bert, who, although he was never in any doubt as to the identity of the
person that stole his lunch, poured ink over his copy-book, scratched
his slate with a bit of jagged glass, tore the tails off his glengarry,
and filled the pockets of his overcoat with snow, still saw no way of
putting a stop to this tormenting other than by thrashing Rod, and this
he did not feel equal to doing. Upon this last point, however, he
changed his mind subsequently, thanks to the influence of his friend
Teter Johnston, and the result was altogether satisfactory as will be
shown in due time.
Bert’s feelings toward Dr. Johnston himself were, as has been already
stated, of a mixed nature. At first, he was simply afraid of him, but
little by little a gentler feeling crept into his heart. Yet, there was
no doubt, the doctor was far more likely to inspire fear than love. He
wielded his authority with an impartial, unsparing hand. No allowance
was ever made for hesitancy or nervousness on the part of the scholar
when reciting his lesson, nor for ebullitions of boyish spirits when
sitting at the desk. “Everything must be done correctly, and in order,”
was the motto of his rule. The whippings he administered were about as
impressive a mode of school punishment as could be desired. The unhappy
boy who had behaved so ill, or missed so many lessons as to deserve one,
heard the awful words, “Stand upon the floor for punishment,” uttered in
the doctor’s sternest tones. Trembling in every limb, and feeling cold
shivers running up and down his back, while his face flushed fiery red,
or paled to ashy white by turns, the culprit would reluctantly leave his
seat, and take his stand in the centre aisle, with the eyes of the whole
school upon him variously expressing pity, compassion, or perhaps
After he had stood there some time, for be it known this exposure was an
essential part of the punishment, he would see the doctor slowly rise
from his seat, draw forth from its hiding-place the long black strap
that had for so many years been his sceptre, and then come down toward
him with slow, stately steps. Stopping just in front of him, the order
would be issued: “Hold out your hand.” Quivering with apprehension, the
boy would extend his hand but half way, keeping his elbow fast at his
side. But the doctor would not be thus partially obeyed. “Hold out your
hand, sir!” he would thunder, and out would go the arm to its fullest
length, and with a sharp swish through the air, down would come the
strap, covering the hand from the wrist to finger tip, and sending a
thrill of agony through every nerve in the body. Ten, twenty, thirty, or
in extreme cases, even forty such stripes would be administered, some
boys taking them as fast as the doctor could strike, so that the torture
might soon be over, and others pausing between each blow, to rub their
stinging palms together, and bedew them with their tears.
It was a terrible ordeal, no doubt, and one that would hardly be
approved of to-day, the publicity uniting with the severity to make it a
cruel strain upon a boy’s nervous system. In all the years that Bert
spent at Dr. Johnston’s school he was called upon to endure it only
once, but that once sufficed. The way it came about was this:
Bert one morning happened to be in a more than usually frolicsome mood,
and was making pellets out of the soft part of the rolls he had brought
for lunch, and throwing them about. In trying to hit a boy who sat
between him and Mr. Snelling’s desk, he somehow or other miscalculated
his aim, and to his horror, the sticky pellet flew straight at the bald
spot on top of Mr. Snelling’s head, as the latter bent his shortsighted
eyes over a book before him, hitting it in the centre, and staying there
in token of its success.
With angry face, Mr. Snelling sprang to his feet, and brushing the
unlucky pellet from his shiny pate, called out so fiercely as to attract
the doctor’s attention:
“Who threw that at me?”
The few boys who were in the secret looked very hard at their books,
while those who were not glanced up in surprise, and tried to discover
the cause of Mr. Snelling’s excitement.
“Who threw that at me?” demanded Mr. Snelling, again.
Bert, who had at first been so appalled by what he had done that his
tongue refused to act, was about to call out “It was I, sir,” when Rod
Graham was seen to hold up his hand, and on Mr. Snelling turning
inquiringly toward him, Rod, in a low, sneaking voice, said:
“It was Lloyd, sir; I saw him do it.”
Mr. Snelling immediately called out, “Lloyd, come to my desk;” and Bert,
feeling hot and cold by turns, went up to the desk, and stood before it,
the picture of penitence.
“Did you throw that pellet?” asked Mr. Snelling, in indignant tones.
“Yes, sir; but I didn’t mean to hit you, sir,” answered Bert, meekly.
“I know nothing about that,” answered Mr. Snelling, too much excited to
listen to any defence. “Follow me to Dr. Johnston.”
Hastening into the presence of the stern headmaster, Mr. Snelling stated
what had happened, and pointed to the trembling Bert as the culprit.
“How do you know he is the offender, Mr. Snelling?” inquired the doctor,
“Graham said he saw him do it, sir, and Lloyd confesses it himself,”
replied Mr. Snelling.
“Oh! indeed—that is sufficient. Leave Lloyd with me.” And thus
dismissed, Mr. Snelling returned to his desk.
“Lloyd, I am sorry about this. You must stand upon the floor for
punishment,” said the doctor, turning to Bert; and Bert, chilled to the
heart, took his place upon the spot where he had so often pitied other
boys for being.
Presently, drawing out his strap, the doctor came toward him:
“Hold out your hand, sir.”
Bert promptly extended his right hand to the full.
Swish! and down came the cruel strap upon it, inflicting a burning
smart, as though it were a red-hot iron, and sending a thrill of agony
through every nerve. Swish! And the left hand was set on fire. Swish!
Swish! right and left; right and left, until twenty stripes had been
administered; and then, turning on his heel, the doctor walked solemnly
back to his desk.
During all this torture not a sound had escaped Bert. He felt that the
doctor could not do otherwise than punish him, and he determined to bear
the punishment bravely; so closing his lips tightly, and summoning all
his resolution, he held out one hand after the other, taking the blows
as fast as the doctor could give them. But when the ordeal was over he
hurried to his seat, and burying his head in his burning hands, burst
into a passion of tears—for he could control himself no longer.
A few minutes later his attention was aroused by hearing the doctor call
out, in a loud, stern voice:
“Graham, come forward.”
Graham got out of his seat, and in a half-frightened way, slunk up to
the doctor’s desk.
“I understand, Graham,” said the doctor, with his grimmest expression,
“that you volunteered to tell Mr. Snelling who it was that threw that
pellet. You know, or ought to know, the rule of this school as to
informers. You will receive the same punishment that I have just given
Lloyd. Stand upon the floor.”
Completely taken aback at this unexpected turn in affairs, Rod Graham
mechanically took up his position, looking the very picture of abject
misery. The doctor kept him there for full half-an-hour, and then
administered twenty stripes, with an unction that showed, clearly
enough, his profound contempt for that most contemptible of beings, an
Now, Bert was not an angel, but simply a boy—a very good boy, in many
respects, no doubt, but a boy, notwithstanding. It would, therefore, be
doing him an injustice to deny that he took a. certain delight in seeing
his tormentor receive so sound a whipping, and that it brought, at
least, a temporary balm to his own wounded feelings. But the wound was
altogether too deep to be cured by this, or by Frank Bowser’s heartfelt
sympathy, or even by the praise of his schoolmates, many of whom came up
to him at recess and told him he was “a brick,” “a daisy,” and so forth,
because he had taken a whipping without crying.
All this could not hide from him what he felt to be the disgrace of the
thing. So ashamed was he of himself that he could hardly find courage to
tell them about it at home; and although, easily appreciating the whole
situation, Mr. Lloyd had only words of cheer for him, and none of
condemnation, Bert still took it so much to heart that the following
Sunday he pleaded hard to be allowed to remain away from the Sunday
school, as he did not want to face Mr. Silver and his classmates so
soon. But his father wisely would not suffer this, and so, much against
his will, he went to school as usual, where, however, he felt very ill
at ease until the session was over, when he had a long talk with Mr.
Silver, and told him the whole story.
This relieved his mind very much. He felt as if he were square with the
world again, and he went back to Dr. Johnston’s far lighter in heart on
Monday morning than he had left it on Friday afternoon. He had learned a
lesson, too, that needed no reteaching throughout the remainder of his
school days. That was the first and last time Bert Lloyd stood upon the
floor for punishment.