scandalous old rascal is kept in the story apparently because an old drunkard is either a good instrument or a good victim for practical jokes. The hero goes to dine with a gentleman whose place, near the school, is called the "Priory." While waiting for dinner he goes out for a stroll in the "Park." He rescues a girl from drowning, sends back to school for another suit of clothes, goes out again and takes a ride on a bison, is thrown off, strikes, in falling, a professor, who is fortunately fat enough to break his fall, goes to the "snake house" with the professor, is fascinated by the rattlesnake which gets loose, seizes the reptile and throws it away after it has bitten through the professor's trousers—all before dinner. All the teachers, of course, are sneaks and blackguards. In this same story, one of the assistant teachers (usher, he is called) gets drunk and insults the principal, whereupon the latter, while he directs some of the boys to work a garden pump, holds the nozzle and throws water on the assistant, who lies helplessly drunk on the grass—all of which is enforced by a picture. There is not a decent good boy in the story; there is not even the old type of sneaking good boy. The sneaks and bullies are all despicable in the extreme. The heroes are continually devising mischief which is mean and cruel, but which is here represented as smart and funny. They all have a daredevil character, and brave the principal's rod as one of the smallest dangers of life. There is a great deal of the traditional English brutality in exaggerated forms. The nearest approach to anything respectable is that after another boy has been whipped for mischief done by the hero, the latter tells an accomplice that they ought to have confessed, whereat the friend replies with the crushing rejoinder that then there would only have been three flogged instead of one.
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EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS