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quarrel with the first boy that came handy. The teacher, a grave, elderly man,
interfered; then turned his back a moment and Tom pulled a boy’s hair in the
next bench, and was absorbed in his book when the boy turned around; stuck a
pin in another boy, present, in order to hear him say “Ouch!” and got a new
reprimand from his teacher. Tom’s whole class were of a pattern-restless, noisy
and troublesome. When they came to recite their lessons, not one of them knew
his verses perfectly, but had to be prompted all along. However, they worried
through, and each got his reward-in small blue tickets, each with a passage of
Scripture on it; each blue ticket was pay for two verses of the recitation. Ten blue
tickets equalled a red one, and could be exchanged for it; ten red tickets equalled
a yellow one: for ten yellow tickets the Superintendent gave a very plainly
bound Bible, (worth forty cents in those easy times,) to the pupil. How many of
my readers would have the industry and application to memorize two thousand
verses, even for a Dore Bible? And yet Mary had acquired two Bibles in this
way-it was the patient work of two years-and a boy of German parentage had
won four or five. He once recited three thousand verses without stopping; but
the strain upon his mental faculties was too great, and he was little better than
an idiot from that day forth-a grievous misfortune for the school, for on great
occasions, before company, the Superintendent (as Tom expressed it) had always
made this boy come out and “spread himself.” Only the older pupils managed to
keep their tickets and stick to their tedious work long enough to get a Bible, and
so the delivery of one of these prizes was a rare and noteworthy circumstance;
the successful pupil was so great and conspicuous for that day that on the spot
every scholar’s breast was fired with a fresh ambition that often lasted a couple
of weeks. It is possible that Tom’s mental stomach had never really hungered for
one of those prizes, but unquestionably his entire being had for many a day
longed for the glory and the eclat that came with it.

In due course the Superintendent stood up in front of the pulpit, with a closed
hymn-book in his hand and his forefinger inserted between its leaves, and
commanded attention. When a Sunday-school Superintendent makes his
customary little speech, a hymn-book in the hand is as necessary as is the
inevitable sheet of music in the hand of a singer who stands forward on the
platform and sings a solo at a concert-though why, is a mystery: for neither the
hymn-book nor the sheet of music is ever referred to by the sufferer. This
superintendent was a slim creature of thirty-five, with a sandy goatee and short
sandy hair; he wore a stiff standingcollar whose upper edge almost reached his
ears and whose sharp points curved forward abreast the corners of his mouth-a
fence that compelled a straight lookout ahead, and a turning of the whole body
when a side view was required; his chin was propped on a spreading cravat
which was as broad and as long as a bank note, and had fringed ends; his boot
toes were turned sharply up, in the fashion of the day, like sleigh-runners-an
effect patiently and laboriously produced by the young men by sitting with their
toes pressed against a wall for hours together. Mr. Walters was very earnest of
mien, and very sincere and honest at heart; and he held sacred things and places

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