Story type: Essay
Will Taylor, the son of the present American Consul at Marseilles, was a good deal like other boys while at school in his old home, at Hudson, Wis. One day he called his father into the library, and said:
“Pa, I don’t like to tell you, but the teacher and I have had trouble.”
“What’s the matter now?”
“Well, I cut one of the desks a little with my knife, and the teacher says I’ve got to pay a dollar or take a lickin’.”
“Well, why don’t you take the licking and say nothing more about it? I can stand considerable physical pain, so long as it visits our family in that form. Of course, it is not pleasant to be flogged, but you have broken a rule of the school, and I guess you’ll have to stand it. I presume that the teacher will in wrath remember mercy, and avoid disabling you so that you can’t get your coat on any more.”
“But, pa, I feel mighty bad about it already, and if you’d pay my fine I’d never do it again. I know a good deal more about it now, and I will never do it again. A dollar ain’t much to you, pa, but it’s a heap to a boy that hasn’t got a cent. If I could make a dollar as easy as you can, pa, I’d never let my little boy get flogged that way just to save a dollar. If I had a little feller that got licked bekuz I didn’t put up for him, I’d hate the sight of money always. I’d feel as if every dollar in my pocket had been taken out of my little kid’s back.”
“Well, now, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you a dollar to save you from punishment this time, but if anything of this kind ever occurs again I’ll hold you while the teacher licks you, and then I’ll get the teacher to hold you while I lick you. That’s the way I feel about that. If you want to go around whittling up our educational institutions you can do so; but you will have to purchase them afterward yourself. I don’t propose to buy any more damaged school furniture. You probably grasp my meaning, do you not? I send you to school to acquire an education, not to acquire liabilities, so that you can come around and make an assessment on me. I feel a great interest in you, Willie, but I do not feel as though it should be an assessable interest. I want to go on, of course, and improve the property, but when I pay my dues on it I want to know that it goes toward development work. I don’t want my assessments to go toward the purchase of a school-desk with American hieroglyphics carved on it.
“I hope that you will bear this in your mind, my son, and beware. It will be greatly to your interest to beware. If I were in your place I would put in a large portion of my time in the beware business.”
The boy took the dollar and went thoughtfully away to school, and no more was ever said about the matter until Mr. Taylor learned casually several months later that the Spartan youth had received the walloping and filed away the dollar for future reference. The boy was afterward heard to say that he favored a much heavier fine in cases of that kind. One whipping was sufficient, he said, but he favored a fine of $5. It ought to be severe enough to make it an object.
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