Harper's Young People, May 25, 1880 An Illustrated Weekly

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Excerpt "Hurrah! hurrah! Now for a long play-day; the school-master's a witch, and we are free;" and some twenty boys came flocking and tumbling out of the school-house door, and went swarming up the street. Not much like the boys of to-day, except for the noise, were these twenty youngsters of nearly two centuries ago, who skipped and ran up the streets of Boston, dressed in their long square-skirted coats, small-clothes, long stockings, and low shoes with their cherished buckles of silver or brass. And very different from to-day were the streets through which they passed as they flocked homeward talking of the master. "He'll have naught to do but learn of the Black Man now; they do say he rides his ferule and bunch of twigs high up in the air, like Mistress Hibbins used her broom-stick," cried William Bartholomew, the sneak of the school. "He best have been switching thee with it, then," cried Jonathan Winthrop. "Thou never hast thy share of the whippings—does he, mates?" and frank-faced Jonathan turned to his companions. "Truly thou and I, Jonathan, need not complain that we have not our share of the fun and the twigs," laughed Christopher Corwin, as he laid his arm on Jonathan's, and shrugged his shoulders at the thought of numerous beatings. For Jonathan Winthrop and Christopher Corwin, with their plots and pranks, were enough to make poor Master Halleck sell his soul to the Evil One, as report said he had done. "His ferule was sharp as a knife," said overgrown Jo Tucker, the butt of the school. "Truly," cried William Bartholomew, "sharper than thy wits, we doubt not; or thy knife either, for that was never known to cut aught." "Keep thy tongue in thy head, Billy Mew; none ever said that was not sharp enough," put in Christopher Corwin. "I do not believe he is a witch," said Samuel Shaddoe, a quiet boy, dressed in very plain drab clothes, and a wider brimmed hat than the others. "Oh, doesn't thee?" cried several. "Thou art but a Quaker thyself, and a Quaker's as bad as a witch any day," shouted Robert Pike. "There, muddle thy stockings in yon mud puddle for that speech, thou water-loving Baptist," cried Christopher Corwin, as he jostled Baptist Bob in some water by the way. "Hurrah for the witch, and a long play-day!" cried the boys. "Peace! peace! ye noisy urchins!" said Magistrate Sewall, as he stepped suddenly from a doorway. "The master has imps of the earth as well as the air, I see. Get ye home less noisily, or we must needs put ye in yonder prison with the master." The awe of the magistrate's presence had the desired effect, and the crowd broke up in groups of two or three, and each took his way homeward quietly. "Jonathan, doest thou believe the master dotted his i's and crossed his t's when he signed his name in the Black Man's book in the forest yonder?" said Christopher, as the two boys walked home together. "Nay, I know not," said Jonathan, absently. "Verily, I hope the Black Man cracked him across his knuckles, if he did not," said Christopher; and he thought of his own often-aching fists. "Chris, thou art too wise to believe the poor master's a witch," said Jonathan. "Nay, how could I be, when the magistrates themselves, and all the wise men of the town, believe it?" "Thou doest not believe the master stuck pins in Job Swinnerton's stomach?" "Nay," laughed Chris; "the green apples from Deacon Gedney's orchard were the cause of his pain." "But, Chris, I'm afraid it will go hard with the master, for all the boys but thou and I seem bent on making him a witch." "Well, trouble not thyself about it. As Billy Mew says, if the master's a witch, we will have the longer play-day....
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