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Tip Lewis and His Lamp

CHAPTER XXI.

"He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble: I will deliver him, and honour him."

There were not many visitors in the next morning; it was too early, as yet, for any but the examining committee, and a few very fond, very anxious mothers. Mr. Burrows' hand was on the bell; in a few moments the algebra class would be in full tide of recitation. Ellis and Howard had their slates in their hands, ready to start at the first sound, when Tip Lewis left his seat and made his way towards the stage. Mr. Burrows looked surprised; this was entirely out of order; but a look at Tip's face made him change his mind about sending him back to his seat, and bend his head to listen to the few words that were hurriedly whispered in his ear. Then he looked more surprised, hesitated a minute, then asked,—

"Hadn't you better wait until noon, and I can detain the scholars a few moments?"

"No," said Tip, shaking his head, and speaking earnestly; "I'm afraid, if I wait till noon, I shan't do it at all."

"Very well," Mr. Burrows answered finally. "Scholars, one of your number tells me that he has something of importance to say to you; we will wait and hear him."

It was well for Tip that he was a bold boy, that every day of his life had been such as to teach him a lesson of boldness, else his courage would surely have failed him, when he felt the many curious eyes resting on him. As it was, his face was scarlet, when he turned it away from the desk and towards the boys. Yet he spoke promptly, as he always did when he spoke at all:

"I want to tell the boys that I am sorry for yesterday. I suppose they all know what I did. I got awful mad, and I—I said a dreadful word. I didn't think I would ever be so wicked again; I feel awful about it. But I don't want the boys to think that I don't love Jesus any more, because I do; and He is going to help me try Such a silence as was in that schoolroom then, the boys had never felt before! Mr. Burrows' face was shaded with his hand; he let the silence rest upon them for a moment, after Tip had taken his seat; then he spoke, low and solemnly,—

"Boys, what God has forgiven, I feel sure that no scholar of mine will be mean enough ever to mention again."

Then the bell sounded, and the business of the day went on. Tip had laid his head down on the desk the minute he took his seat, and he kept it there throughout the recitation. He had been through a fearful struggle; it was hard work for a boy like him to stand up before the school and tell them how he had fallen. But it was over now, and from his very soul he felt that he had done right.

Bob Turner, sitting beside him, was quiet and sober; and when Tip raised his arm with such a sudden jerk that he knocked his arithmetic to the floor, Bob leaned over and quietly picked it up and laid it back in its place; which was a wonderful thing for Bob Turner to do.

At noon the boys gathered around Tip, quiet and kind; no one spoke of what had been the important event of the morning; all were on good behaviour.

Ellis Holbrook came into their midst.

"Tip," he said, speaking gravely, yet very coldly, "perhaps it would be as well for you to know that you made quite a blunder yesterday, when you said I told you wrong; I hadn't the slightest notion of telling you, right or wrong. But I know how you came to think so. I was looking out a word in Mr. Burrows' dictionary, and stood just behind you, when Mr. Bailey leaned over and asked me how many there were in your class when all were present, and I answered him, seven."

Tip looked perfectly astonished.

"Why didn't you say so yesterday?" he asked at last.

"Because you didn't give me a chance," Ellis answered coolly. "I'm not in the habit of cheating, nor of being told that I do, so I was not prepared with an answer."

"That's true," said Tip, after a minute, answering the first part of Ellis's sentence; "that's true, I didn't. I was mad, and I just banged off before anybody could say anything. I might have known you didn't do any such thing; it ain't like you."

And Tip walked away, leaving Ellis to think that the boy who was so far below him had shown much the better spirit of the two.

The busy day was drawing to a close; the last recitation was over, and the boys were in a state of grand excitement, waiting to hear the report of the committee; waiting to know whose names were to stand on the Roll of Honour, having passed through the entire examination without a mistake. Poor Tip was sad; yesterday morning he had felt so sure that his name would have an honourable place, and to him it was so much more exciting, because it would be for the first time. How hard he had worked; and now it was all lost! Stupidly lost, too, he said to himself, over an example that he had done a dozen times; and he drew a heavy sigh, and roused himself to listen to the report. Mr. Burrows had already called for it, and Mr. Holbrook, as chairman of the committee, had arisen; but, instead of reading the report, said,—

"Mr. Burrows, if there is time, I should like to say a few words to the scholars. Boys, you were all listeners to Edward Lewis's examination yesterday, and I presume you know better than I do how hard he has worked. Now, I think any one who watched him yesterday could not have failed to see that, had he not grown excited and nervous, he could have worked that example. Mr. Burrows, may I put a question to vote?"

And Mr. Burrows giving a hearty consent, he continued, "Very well. Now I want every boy here, who is willing to allow Edward Lewis to go to the board now and try that example, and, if he succeeds, give him the place which would have been his yesterday, to stand up."

Ellis Holbrook was the first to spring to his feet, and every single boy in the room followed his example; Tip alone sitting still, with burning cheeks.

"Well done," said Mr. Holbrook "Now it only remains to get your teacher's consent to our plan."

Which Mr. Burrows gave by wheeling his table from before the blackboard and picking up an arithmetic. "You may come forward, Edward. I will dictate the example; which one is it?"

"The thirty-ninth, sir; fifty-first page."

By this time Tip was at the board. How they watched him! how fearful his teacher was for him! how he longed to have him succeed! Tip worked fast and boldly; his hand did not tremble; chalk and fingers and brain did their duty; the terrible "nine in thirty-one, how many times," as a test for the larger number, was reached, and an unusually large and bold figure three was placed in the quotient; a few more rapid dashes, and, with a grand flourish after the "seventeen remainder," Tip threw down the chalk, pushed back the hair from his hot temples, and walked to his seat. The boys could not keep quiet any longer: a very soft tapping was heard at first, then, finding they were not silenced, it rose to a loud, decided stamping of many feet. But Mr. Holbrook was on his feet again, and they were quiet directly, for the report was finally to be read.

"My son," said Mr. Holbrook, not long after, laying his hand kindly on Ellis's shoulder, as he was hurrying from the room, "what do you think of Edward's religion to-night?"

"I think it is honest, sir," Ellis answered quickly. "Excuse me, father, if you please; I must see Howard a minute before he goes;" and so he ran away from his father's longing look.

As for Tip, he borrowed from Howard Minturn a copy of the village paper, which came out a few days after, and read the report of the examination; read this sentence: "And, among all the pupils, perhaps no one of them has made more rapid or astonishing progress than has Edward Lewis."

Then, while the twilight deepened, he turned eagerly to the next column, which read in this way:—


"ROLL OF HONOUR;

"Being an alphabetically arranged List of those
who passed the entire Examination without
making an error:

WILLARD BAILEY.
ELLIS HOLBROOK.
HARVEY JENNINGS.
EDWARD LEWIS."

 

 

 

 


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