|No Copyright - United States (NoC-US)
|Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah
|A Good Anvil
v ! I : , - v I I (I3y Esther Kobcrtson inline -Ave ria.) f It was Friday afternoon in St. John's 1 jiaroohial, and Jack IMckachip was at j Hie blackboard in a very bad humor. lister Dorotea had.been letting the pu-I pu-I jijis "choose numbers," as was the cas- torn on Friday afternoons, and Jack j had drawn one that did not suit him. As ail may not understand what "choosing: numbers" means, we may J , xplain that Sifter Dorothea had a j f manuscript book ith many wise and practical sayings in it. These sayings I were all numbered, and each child j rlrew a number on Friday and kept the , ; J haying: for guidance throughout ' the I veek. i .lack had drawn on this particular I lay: "One must learn to be a good v I jnivil before he can safely give blown." t j He would not have minded this so t much had not Sister given him an em- phatic little nod as she read it, and I added: "That is for you. Jack:" Then the children laughed, and that made I the boy very, indignant. He saw Steph- rn O'Brien's foot stretched out from I under his seat right iirthe aisle where ' lie stood. Stephen was absorbed in his arithmetic card, and Jack rather rude- ly aroused him by planting a heavy I heel on his great toe. Stephen writhed -with pain; but Sister Dorothea's back was turned, and he was not the boy i 10 complain. In the meantime he o,uiet- .r drew his foot under the desk, but, I I iear. with the thought in his mind that ,f at some future time he would test I -whether Jack had become a good an-v an-v vii. . " ' ' Another .reason for Jack's ill-temper ! whs that he could not solve his card. k i Sister, to be sure, would hHv. him ? if he asked her: but if she helped him he would not get his name written on tlx back of the canl.i He wanted to liave the niost cards at the Ctid of the t 3 winter term. The cards were collected. h j S:al' his up still unsolved, and went gloomily to his seat. There he found C a source of consolation. He had drawn ) a picture of "Pharaoh's Horses." They were fiercely breathing yellow .flame, and he had put in a Ine background vith a blue crayon. Then he, cut thero tut in medallion form and put a red frame around them. He held them up to Marie Cliffe, uncertain whether he ; had not better give them to. her, since ,!le unpleasant anvil experience; and then Sister sealed her fate. She heard the whisper, and. quickly turning her , head from her desk where she was dis- ; jensing drawing materials, said, in a severe tone: "Marie;" N ' "I did not whisper to Jack," said Marie, with a red face. "I only just Said 'How beautiful:1 " Another significant smile 'passed around. It was too much. Jack held up two fingers; which signal "meant -5ermission to leave the room. He was , Jirnily resolved that Sister Dorothea should not become the happy owner of "I'haraoh's Horses." . The Sister nodded her consent." She ft.v the boy was out of temper, and thought a little change and fresher air mipht be the best remedy. She then T " stepped in front of the class and gave ;a short instruction on drawing a book in different positions, placing three big dictionaries in position so that each row of desks had a model; and all went busily to work. ' Sister Dorothea had passedj-ound the room twice before she noticed that Jack Piekachip had not returned to the class. Much surprised, she sent Steph- j on O'Brien after him. Stephen re- t turned in a few moments., with eves nearly twice their usual size, and re- I 4ortd-4hak Ja.i kwas' not' US be1 found, either in the ' building or about' the j 'grounds.' j . Sister looked very sober. Such a . breach of discipline had never been heard of before. A scholar leave the ; school without permission! The chil- ! dren glanced at one another with won- 1 "V ? der- Nothing more Atas said; the .school closed as usual.'but a messen- j per Mas dispatched with a note 'to Jack's home. ' ! That evening Sister Dorothea was called to the convent parlor to s.-o ( Jack's father. He said Jack had not ! bfen home since he left for school, and . that his mother was nearly crazed with f fear and anxiety. He had called to see if sister could not give some clue as to the lad's whereabouts or some reason ! vhy h? should have left, his home. ! cannot, indeed, sir," said sister. "Jack has improved so much this year V:- 1hat 1 cannot at all understand this ( i sudden freak of his.': "That's just what his mother says," j replied Mr. Pic"kachip. "She says he j has become so fond of reading sines ,; the children got Father Finn's books ' with that soap order that she does not have any trouble keeping him at home evenings, and that he has be- come so careful iri his dress that she j can't keep him in collars." 1. , Sister smiled a little, but it was a fnrer-d smile: and she said: "Our boy will be brought back to us, ; J am sure of that. Let us have con- I lidence." . , . j "3od bless you. ' sister!" said the - i . . roor father, getting up to take hi.s jeave. "We are depending on vour i. prayers." ; "You will surely have them." she . replied, as she showed him out; "and f " better prayers than mine." i There was little sleep that night. ( however, for the nun or the lad s j parents. When Jack left the classroom j he made a race down the stairs and j paused at the door that looked out mto j the playground. It was a lovely spring .day: the snow was all -gone "and the ; vard quite dry. As he looked out some- i ,'hing caught his eye which added still t ' iiiore defiance to his present frame cf I mind. It was the sight of a long ladder leading up to the roof of the three-. three-. i story building. M had been there at j recess, and he heard the janitor tell sister that they had to repair-the roof, ' 1 and were going to put in a wire netting ; in the bell tower to keep out the pigeons. ! J Now he was alone in the playground ! and he meant to go up that ladder. Fp j ''he went, his heart thumping harder J a he got higher. The ladder reached J I the eaves, and anothtr was laid flat on j .the roof reaching to the ridge pole near I i ,ne tower. Would he dare to stand ' on the ladder he was mounting and ' J pull himself up on the roof to the oth- l "cr? He reached the top of the ladder and took hold of the eaves trough, I stood up and looked ci the roof. His ! i heart was beating fast, but he could 1 f nl make up his mind to give it up, as lie was so near. Slowly he grasped I the lower round of the ladder of the j roof and gave himself a desperate pull : up. .- Never to hi dying day 'will Jack forget hi.s feelings as his feet left the j ladder below and lie clung for one 1 dreadful minute balanced on the edge j J of the roof. In after life it came back s to him in nightmares again -and again. 1 f So dizzy he could see nothing, sick, j faint a-d coveeed wHh )Id perspira- j 'ion, he lay for some minutes flat. on J the roof, and .finally era wk-d. slowly i I up to the bell tower, pulled himself up ; I ftnd looked down. There was no bell hung in the tower. It was intended i tr get one some day, but as yet it had I J1t been done. Jack remembered j i ; thankfully that there was a trap door ; 1 J.-ading from the tower into the large I ; nail below. ! ! "I could r.ever go down that roof. V ! Jknow; but I can slip in here and i let down through the trap and back ! into school before I am missed." ! t j So saying, 11$ lulled himself through : I the window and dropped. It was a 1 I Rool ten fet, and the ,ja coming so, : I on alter his faintness made his , j . I 5 si (head Ache. .The .floor, was covered with j dust and ordure; and when Juck j pushed among it with his foot to find j the trap door, he found worms also great, white maggots that made him fhudder.. Some pigeons had flown out at - his sudden -entrance, but one mother-pigeon kept her place on the nest and looked at him with bright htile eyes. Jack found the ring of the trapdoor and tried to lift it, but it was as immovable as if there were no door there at all. He now remembered with a sinking heart that it was fastened fas-tened with a hasp below. "Well, I am in for it!" he exclaimed aloud. "I can never go back-down the joof. it was bad. enough coming up but I should certainly fall trying to go down. I shall have to shout out the window until I get some one to come up to the hall and let me out. I am in a fix"' i He was more in a fix than he tnought, for when he turned to climb to the windows he found a perfectly smooth wall, without a break or crack : in the boards which he could use to j 1'mbl UP- . H. - looked about him . in dismay, but could see no wav to get .cut. . He was fairly caught in a trap. (Then he tork .,ff his coat and. running ( the sleeve through the ring on the door. ; pulled with all his strength. It was all of no avail; the door seemed swollen.' for it did not libve. He stamped and j kicked at it until he Was exhausted, and then sh-tuled as loud and long as he could. Finally he sat down in a j corner to think. j "I wonder how long it will be until j they miss me and hunt, me up? Who would ever think of looking here? Sup-j Sup-j pose they never ccme? It will be.like i the lady in the 'Mistletoe Bough,' and when the carpenters come, in about a I week, they will find me dead. I think i Sister Dorothea will be sorry; then she ever punished or, found fault Vith mt. Poor mamma:"; v -'. ' '' 'a j He began to 'ci- at the thought, am( ! jumped up once more and shouted ami kicked in vain; then he tried to leap up and catch at the windows, but only fell back bruised and exhausted, He knew when, the school was disT j missed, by the ' distant shouts, and thought bitterly that they little cared whether he was dead or alive. Then it : grew dark. The pigeons circles round, I and flew in and out, not daring to stay ! in. This gave' him a little hope that the janitor or some one would notice their unusual actions and think he might be up there. No; the pigeons finally went elsewhere; and, as it -be- j gan to grow dark, poor Jack goe very cold and hungry. The trap door was formed of narrow pine boards, dovetailed together. As Jack made another desperate attempt to pull at the.door he, remembered that he had Sister Dorothea's knife for sharpening pencils ; in his pocket. He had offered to take it home and get it sharpened for her. If he could get a crack between the boards wide enough to put his finger through, he might push out the hook and so unfasten the hasp. He went to work all too eagerly; eager-ly; for the slender blade soon snapped; and Jack tossed it off into a corner and again sat down in a passion of tears. ' - - . .: . i: All night he crouched in the corner, shivering, sleeping and- waking. Severe Se-vere thirst soon began to make itself felt, and a numbness took the place of the hunger. The sunlight and distant sounds of the children in the school yard gave him a little more life, and another device occurred to him by which he might attract attention. He filled his tarn o'shanter full of dirt to make it heatJ", and, swinging it round his head,' threw it ?vith-.alUhis strength out through-" the window above .him. Then quickly followed both shoes, and finally his stockings, filled in the same way. He listened with satisfaction to their rattling down the slates outside, and waited a while; but, to his great disappointment, no one came or seemed to notice, them at all. At last he took a better way. Falling on hs knees he grayed as he had never nev-er prayed before "in all his life, confessing con-fessing his sins of anger, disobedience and idleness-promising that' if his life was only spared he would do better ever after. Jack then hunted up the knife once more and slowly and cau-' tiously began to cut through the crack with the little blade still left. .? : Down into the school yard at recess of the afternoon session Sister Dorothea Doro-thea was walking up and down amidst the children -They were rather silent, only the smallest ones playing as usual; the o.thers watching her sympathetically, sympathetical-ly, knowing how she feit about the missing boy, and full of an undefined fear and dread themselves as to his mysterious disappearance. Suddenly there came a-, shout. Stephen O'Brien came running toward her holding out a brilliantly colored: tarn O'shanter. -"It's' Jack Pickachip'sl" he cried. "Are you sure, Stephen?" asked the sister. "Where did you find it?" "It fell out of the pear tree." Tommy Twohig next ran up with a shoe, and. soon another boy with the stockings. "Oh, yes, sister, they are Jack's," said Marie, bursting into' tears. "I would have known them anywhere. But where can he be?" Sister Dorothea's heart sank within her; these things only seemed to con-j con-j firm her fears that some terrible fate had befallen the poor lad. ! Marie suddenly gave a piercing j shriek and pointed to the school door. Sister Dorothea looked, and there stood ' poor Jack, barefooted, very much disheveled dis-heveled and white, holding out his arms to her. She ran and caught him just" in time to keep him from falling. Motioning the children back, she carried car-ried him into the dressing room, giving ( in one breath half a dozen orders a I message to the parents, the doctor and a hack. On an improvised bed of cloaks and noods he persuaded him to swal-j swal-j low some. tea from a iunchs box, and i then he opened his eyes and clung i shudderingly to her. '; J "Up in the pigeon loft." he whispered. "I was all alone there with nobody but God; and he was mad at first and then we were friends again. 1 am going, go-ing, to be good " "Yes! Do not talk any more now. dear," said the sister, her grateful tears ' dropping on the lad's head. "Some time you may tell me all about it." , A month later the janitor showed a 1 new trap door to a friend. It was stained red and shining with varnish. I He regarded it with complacency, j "'Piekachip' Was in for a new door,"( ' he said. "His boy cut a hole in the old one big . enough .to get a .stick: through, and unfastened the hasp.' I wouldn't like to have found the little fellow dead". Any other bay would have died from staying out all night this time of the year, but Jack Piekachip is as-tough as shoe leather. I never j seen a boy more changed, though. Pity we can't have, a lew more, up here to larn sense:" - : .