University of Virginia Library

Search this document 

a web of many textures

expand section 
expand section 


Page 204


There is a vaulting ambition that o'erleaps itself, and
falls on the other side — a biting-the-nose-off operation,
to manifest a contempt for the face — a performance of
very hard work, to avoid a very simple job. This was
illustrated, during the skating season, very capitally, by
Ike. He had asked permission to remain at home, but
Mrs. Partington told him, if he ever expected to be an
“iminent man, he must be acidulous in his studies;”
and he went to school with a feeling something akin —
perhaps a second cousin — to disappointment. His new
skates were aching to be tried, and the dim, hazy atmosphere
had in it a foreboding of snow. Temptation beset
him from within and without. All the Bill Joneses and
Tom Smiths seemed to be going skating. He met them
as he went along to school, and they all pulled him by
the sleeve, and asked him to join them. “I 'll tell you
what you can do,” said one of them: “eat a piece of
this when you get to school, and it 'll make you sick
enough to go home.” He gave him a small piece of
a dark substance, and Ike went to school. — “Please,
ma'am,” said one of the scholars, “Ike Partington 's
sick.” He sat with his head bowed down on his hands,
and his teacher spoke to him. He looked up, as she
spoke, and his paleness startled her. “You had better
go home,” said she, in a tone of alarm; “perhaps the
air will make you feel better.” He went out, but the
earth seemed sick to him. It appeared to heave at
every step. The Bill Joneses and Tom Smiths were
watching for him round the corner; but they seemed to
him to be diseased — they looked jaundiced and yellow.
They took him by the arms to lead him to the creek,
but he longed to throw himself beside every fence.


Page 205
The skates looked hateful to him, and the ice was a big
mirror in which a naughty boy had to see himself magnified.
The whirling of the skaters made his head
swim. He never felt so before, and he thought he was
going to die. The thought of his duplicity made him
feel worse, and he resolved to go home, as Mrs. Partington
told us, “like the Probable Son,” and “make a
clean breast of it,” which was accomplished by confession
and a draught of warm water. We publish this
story for the benefit of little people who are interested
in Ike, who might be induced, like him, to eat tobacco
in order to get out of school.