Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
a bit of the original boot left, and he wonders you expect it.'
With these words he threw the boots towards Mr. Mell, who went back
a few paces to pick them up, and looked at them (very
disconsolately, I was afraid), as we went on together. I observed
then, for the first time, that the boots he had on were a good deal
the worse for wear, and that his stocking was just breaking out in
one place, like a bud.
Salem House was a square brick building with wings; of a bare and
unfurnished appearance. All about it was so very quiet, that I
said to Mr. Mell I supposed the boys were out; but he seemed
surprised at my not knowing that it was holiday-time. That all the
boys were at their several homes. That Mr. Creakle, the
proprietor, was down by the sea-side with Mrs. and Miss Creakle;
and that I was sent in holiday-time as a punishment for my
misdoing, all of which he explained to me as we went along.
I gazed upon the schoolroom into which he took me, as the most
forlorn and desolate place I had ever seen. I see it now. A long
room with three long rows of desks, and six of forms, and bristling
all round with pegs for hats and slates. Scraps of old copy-books
and exercises litter the dirty floor. Some silkworms' houses, made
of the same materials, are scattered over the desks. Two miserable
little white mice, left behind by their owner, are running up and
down in a fusty castle made of pasteboard and wire, looking in all
the corners with their red eyes for anything to eat. A bird, in a
cage very little bigger than himself, makes a mournful rattle now
and then in hopping on his perch, two inches high, or dropping from
it; but neither sings nor chirps. There is a strange unwholesome
smell upon the room, like mildewed corduroys, sweet apples wanting
air, and rotten books. There could not well be more ink splashed
about it, if it had been roofless from its first construction, and
the skies had rained, snowed, hailed, and blown ink through the
varying seasons of the year.
Mr. Mell having left me while he took his irreparable boots
upstairs, I went softly to the upper end of the room, observing all
this as I crept along. Suddenly I came upon a pasteboard placard,
beautifully written, which was lying on the desk, and bore these
words: 'TAKE CARE OF HIM. HE BITES.'
I got upon the desk immediately, apprehensive of at least a great
dog underneath. But, though I looked all round with anxious eyes,
I could see nothing of him. I was still engaged in peering about,