Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

Bert Lloyd's Boyhood
Chapter XXII. How Hoisting was Abolished

THE month of September was close at hand, and Bert would soon begin his second year with Dr. Johnston. Mr. Lloyd, though well content with the progress his son had been making in his studies, thought it would be a wise thing to hold out some extra inducement that might incite him to still greater diligence, and so one evening, while the family were sitting together, he broached the subject:

“Dr. Johnston gives a lot of prizes at the end of the term, doesn’t he, Bert?”

“Yes, father, a good many; always books, you know,” answered Bert.

“Why didn’t you get a prize of some kind last term?” asked Mr. Lloyd, with a smile.

“Oh, I don’t know, father. Didn’t try hard enough, I suppose,” replied Bert, smiling in his turn.

“Well, do you intend to try this term, Bert?” “Indeed I do; and Frank’s going to try, too. My best chance is in the arithmetic, so I’m going to try for that; and he’s going in for grammar.”

“Very well, then, Bert, do your best; and if you win a prize I will give you what you have wanted so long—a pony.”

The expression of Bert’s countenance at this quite unexpected announcement was a study. His eyes and mouth, the former with surprise, the latter with a smile, opened to their fullest extent, and for a moment he stood motionless. Then, springing across the floor, he leaped into his father’s lap, put both arms around his neck, and burying his happy face in the brown whiskers, ejaculated, fervently:

“You dear, dear father, you dear, dear father, how I do love you!”

Mr. Lloyd returned the affectionate hug with interest, and then, holding Bert out on his knee, said, in a playful tone :

“Aren’t you in too much of a hurry about thanking me, Bert? You haven’t won your pony yet, you know.”

“That’s all right, father,” returned Bert. “I mean to win it, and what’s more, I’m going to.”

It need hardly be said that the first item of news Bert had for his friend Frank next morning was his father’s offer.

“Won’t it be splendid to have a pony of my very own!” he exclaimed, his eyes dancing with delight at the prospect. “Perhaps your father will give you a pony, too, if you win a prize; hey, Frank?”

Frank shook his head dubiously:

“Not much chance of that, Bert. That’s not his way of doing things.”

“Oh, well, never mind. You can ride turn about with me on mine, and we’ll have just splendid fun.” As the boys were talking together, little Ernest Linton approached, looking as if he had something on his mind. Getting close to Bert, he touched him gently on the arm to attract his attention, and, turning a very earnest, appealing face to his, said:

“Bert, I want to ask a favour.”

“Hallo, Ernie, what’s up?” asked Bert, in his kindest tones.

Ernest then proceeded to tell him that his younger brother, Paul, was to come to the school in a few days, and that he was a very timid, delicate little chap that would be sure to be half frightened out of his life if they hoisted him; and what Ernest wanted was that Bert and Frank should see if they could not, in some way or other, save Paul from being hoisted.

The two boys were filled with the idea at once. It was good enough fun to hoist sturdy fellows like themselves, who were none the worse for it; but if Paul were the sort of chap his brother said he was, it would be a real shame to give him such a scare, and they would do their best to prevent its being done. Accordingly, they promised Ernest they would protect his brother if they could, and Ernest felt very much relieved at their promise.

But how were they going to carry it out? No exceptions had been made as to the hoisting since they had come to Dr. Johnston’s, but all new boys were hoisted with perfect impartiality. They would be powerless by themselves, that was certain. Their only plan was to persuade a lot of the boys to join them, and they did not feel entirely sure about being able to do this. However, the first thing to be done was to ask Teter Johnston. If they could enlist his sympathies, their task would be a good deal easier. Accordingly, at recess, they made directly for Teter, and laid the whole matter before him. Like themselves, he took hold of it at once. It was just the sort of thing that would appeal to his big, warm, manly heart, and without hesitation he promised the boys he would give them all the help in his power.

The next step was to secure recruits for their party. In this Teter helped them greatly, and Frank was very active too, because big Rod Graham, whom he disliked none the less, though Bert had thrashed him so soundly, always headed the hoisting party, and Frank looked forward with keen delight to balking this tormenting bully by means of the anti-hoisting party they were now organising.

Of course, the movement could not be kept a secret. It soon leaked out, and then Rod Graham and Dick Wilding—who, by the way, since the stolen money episode, had been as cool in his relations with Bert as he had previously been cordial, evidently resenting very much Bert’s withdrawal from his companionship — these two, with their associates, began to organise in their turn, so that it was not long before the school was divided into two parties, both of which were looking forward eagerly to the event which should decide which would have their own way.

On the Monday following the opening of the school Ernest Linton brought his brother with him, a slight, pale, delicate little fellow, not more than eight years old, who clung close to his brother’s side, and looked about with a frightened air that was sufficient in itself to arouse one’s sympathies. Bert and Frank had known him before, but Teter had never seen him, and his kind heart prompted him to go up and slap the little fellow kindly on the back, saying:

“So you’re Linton’s brother Paul, eh? Cheer up, little chap; we’ll see they’re not too hard upon you.” Paul’s pale face brightened, and looking up with a grateful glance, he said, softly:

“Thank you, sir.”

Teter laughed at being “sirred,” and went off, feeling quite pleased with himself.

According to the custom of the school, Paul would be hoisted at the mid-day recess of the following day, and the boys looked forward eagerly to the struggle for which they had been preparing. During the morning their thoughts clearly were not upon the lessons, and so many mistakes were made that the shrewd doctor suspected there must be something brewing, but preferred to let it reveal itself rather than to interfere by premature questions. He was a profound student of human nature, and especially of boy nature. He knew his boys as thoroughly as an Eastern shepherd ever knew his sheep. They were like open books before him, and in this perhaps more than in anything else lay the secret of his rare success as a teacher.

When the eagerly expected recess came, all the boys, with the exception of a small group, poured out tumultuously into the street, and ranged themselves in two bands in close proximity to the door. The group that remained consisted of the two Lintons, Bert, Frank, and Teter, the latter three constituting a sort of body-guard for poor timorous little Paul, who shrank in terror from the ordeal, the nature of which in truth he did not fully understand. Having consulted together for a minute or two, the body-guard then moved out through the door, taking care to keep Paul in the middle. As they emerged into the street, a kind of hum of suppressed excitement rose from the crowd awaiting them, followed immediately by cries of “Hoist him! hoist him!” uttered first by Graham and Wilding, and quickly taken up by their supporters.

Pale with fright, Paul cowered close to Teter, while Bert and Frank stood in front of him, and their supporters quickly encircled them. Then came the struggle. Graham and Wilding and their party bore down upon Paul’s defenders, and sought to break their way through them to reach their intended victim. Of course, no blows were struck. The boys all knew better than to do that; but pushing, hauling, wrestling, very much after the fashion of football players in a maul, the one party strove to seize Paul, who indeed offered no more resistance than an ordinary football, and the other to prevent his being carried off. For some minutes the issue was uncertain, although the hoisting party considerably outnumbered the antihoisting party. More than once did Graham and Wilding force their way into the centre of Paul’s defenders, and almost have him in their grasp, only to be thrust away again by the faithful trio that stood about him like the three of whom Macaulay’s ringing ballad tells:

“How well Horatius kept the bridge,
In the brave days of old.”

Shouting, struggling, swaying to and fro, the contest went on, much to the amusement of a crowd of spectators, among which the tall, blue-coated form of a policeman loomed up prominently, although he deigned not to interfere. At length the weight of superior numbers began to tell, and despite all their efforts the anti-hoisting party were borne slowly but surely toward the fence, upon which some of the boys had already taken their positions, ready to have Paul handed up to them. The case was looking desperate, and Teter, heated and wearied with his exertions, had just said, in his deepest tones, to Bert and Frank, “Come, boys, all together, try it once more,” when suddenly a silence fell upon the noisy mob, and their arms, a moment before locked in tense struggling, fell limply to their sides; for there, standing between them and the fence, his keen, dark face lighted with a curious smile, and holding his hand above his head by way of a shield from the hot sun, stood Dr. Johnston!

A genuine ghost at midnight could hardly have startled the boys more. Absorbed in their struggle, they had not seen the doctor until they were fairly upon him. For aught they knew he had been a spectator of the proceedings from the outset. What would he think of them? Rod Graham and Dick Wilding, slaves to a guilty conscience, slunk into the rear of their party, while Bert, and Frank, and Teter, glad of the unexpected relief, wiped their brows and arranged their disordered clothing, as they awaited the doctor’s utterance. It soon came.

“I desire an explanation of this unseemly disturbance. The school will follow me immediately into the schoolroom,” said he, somewhat sternly; and turning upon his heel went back to his desk, the boys following at a respectful distance.

When all had been seated, and the room was quiet, Dr. Johnston asked:

“Will the leaders in the proceedings outside come to my desk?”

There was a moment’s pause, and then Teter rose from his seat, Bert immediately imitating him, and the two walked slowly down to the open space before the master’s desk:

Having waited a minute, and no one else appearing, the doctor leaned forward and said to his nephew:

“You and Lloyd were on the same side, were you not?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Teter.

“Well, who were the leaders of the other side? I wish to know.”

“Graham and Wilding, sir,” answered Teter.

“Graham and Wilding, come forward,” called the doctor, sternly; and the two boys, looking very conscious and shamefaced, reluctantly left their seats and took their places before the throne.

“Now, then, I wish to be informed of the whole matter,” said the doctor.

Bert looked at Teter, and Teter looked at Bert.

“You tell him,” he whispered; “you know most about it.”

Thereupon, with the utmost frankness, Bert proceeded to tell his story, beginning at his first talk with Ernest Linton.

The doctor listened intently, his inscrutable face revealing nothing as to how the story impressed him. When Bert had finished, he turned to Graham and Wilding, and asked them:

“Is Lloyd’s statement correct? or have you anything to add?”

They hung their heads, and were silent.

The doctor looked very hard at them for a moment, during which the silence was so intense that the fall of a pin upon the floor would have been heard; then, turning to the school, he spoke as follows:

“The events that have just transpired have hastened a decision that has been forming in my mind for some time past. I was not unaware of this practice of which Lloyd has just spoken, but deemed it well not to interfere until my interference should seem necessary. That time, in my judgment, has arrived, and I have determined that there shall be no more of this hoisting. Be it, therefore, distinctly understood by the pupils of this school, that any future attempts at the hoisting of new boys will incur punishment, and possibly even expulsion from the school. You will now resume work.”

A subdued murmur of applause arose from the antihoisting party at the conclusion of the doctor’s announcement. They had more than carried their point; for, intending only to protect Paul Linton, they had obtained the complete abolition of the practice. Bert was greatly elated, and could talk of nothing else when he got home. Father, and mother, and sister, had to listen to the fullest details of the struggle and its surprising issue, and Bert fairly outdid himself in the vigour and minuteness of his description. When the fountain of his eloquence at last ran dry, Mr. Lloyd had a chance to say, with one of his expressive smiles:

“And so my boy has come out as a reformer. Well, Bert, dear, you have taken the first step in the most thankless and trying of all careers, and yet I would not discourage you for the world. I would a thousand times rather have you a reformer than an opposer of reforms. I wonder what work God has in store for you.”

Return to Book Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.