September 06, 2006


It has already been said that Godfrey Preston was a conceited and
arrogant boy. He had a very high idea of his own importance, and
expected that others would acknowledge it; but he was not altogether
successful. He would like to have had Andy Burke look up to him as a
member of a superior class, and in that case might have condescended
to patronize him, as a chieftain might in the case of a humble
retainer. But Andy didn't want to be patronized by Godfrey. He never
showed by his manner that he felt beneath him socially, and this
greatly vexed Godfrey.
"His mother used to iron at our house," he said to Ben Travers one
day; "but my mother discharged her. I don't see why the boys treat him
as an equal. I won't, for my part."
"Of course, he isn't your equal," said the subservient Ben. "That's a
good joke."
"He acts as if he was," said Godfrey, discontentedly.
"It's only his impudence."
"You are right," said Godfrey, rather liking this explanation. "He is
one of the most impudent boys I know. I wish my father would send me
to a fashionable school, where I shouldn't meet such fellows. That's
the worst of these public schools--you meet all sorts of persons in
"Of course you do."
"I suppose this Burke will be a hod-carrier, or something of that
kind, when he is a man."
"While you are a member of Congress."
"Very likely," said Godfrey, loftily; "and he will claim that he was
an old schoolmate of mine. It is disgusting."
"Of course it is. However, we needn't notice him."
"I don't mean to."
But in the course of the next week there was an occurrence which
compelled Godfrey to "notice" his detested schoolfellow.
Among the scholars was a very pleasant boy of twelve, named Alfred
Parker. He was the son of a poor widow, and was universally liked for
his amiable and obliging disposition. One morning, before school, he
was engaged in some game which required him to run. He accidentally
ran against Godfrey, who was just coming up the hill, with
considerable force. Now, it was very evident that it was wholly
unintentional; but Godfrey was greatly incensed.
"What do you mean by that, you little scamp?" he exclaimed, furiously.
"Excuse me, Godfrey; I didn't mean to run into you."
"That don't go down."
"Indeed, I didn't. I didn't see you."
"I can't help it. You ought to have been more careful. Take that, to
make you more careful."
As he said this, he seized him by the collar, and, tripping him, laid
him flat on his back.
"For shame, Godfrey!" said another boy standing by; but as it was a
small boy, Godfrey only answered:
"If you say that again, I'll serve you the same way."
Alfred tried to get up, but Godfrey put his knee on his breast.
"Let me up, Godfrey," said Alfred, piteously. "I can't breathe. You
hurt me."
"I'll teach you to run into me," said the bully.
"I didn't mean to."
"I want to make sure of your not doing it again."
"Do let me up," said Alfred.
In return, Godfrey only pressed more heavily, and the little fellow
began to cry. But help was near at hand. Andy Burke happened to come
up the hill just then, and saw what was going on. He had a natural
chivalry that prompted him always to take the weaker side. But besides
this, he liked Alfred for his good qualities, and disliked Godfrey for
his bad ones. He did not hesitate a moment, therefore, but ran up,
and, seizing Godfrey by the collar with a powerful grasp, jerked him
on his back in the twinkling of an eye. Then, completely turning the
tables, he put his knee on Godfrey's breast, and said:
"Now, you know how it is yourself. How do you like it?"
"Let me up," demanded Godfrey, furiously.
"That's what Alfred asked you to do," said Andy, coolly. "Why didn't
you do it?"
"Because I didn't choose," answered the prostrate boy, almost foaming
at the mouth with rage and humiliation.
"Then I don't choose to let you up."
"You shall suffer for this," said Godfrey, struggling, but in vain.
"Not from your hands. Oh, you needn't try so hard to get up. I can
hold you here all day if I choose."
"You're a low Irish boy!"
"You're lower than I am just now," said Andy.
"Let me up."
"Why didn't you let Alfred up?"
"He ran against me."
"Did he mean to?"
"No, I didn't, Andy," said Alfred, who was standing near. "I told
Godfrey so, but he threw me over, and pressed on my breast so hard
that it hurt me."
"In this way," said Andy, increasing the pressure on his prostrate
Godfrey renewed his struggles, but in vain.
"Please let him up now, Andy," said Alfred, generously.
"If he'll promise not to touch you any more, I will."
"I won't promise," said Godfrey. "I won't promise anything to a low
"Then you must feel the low beggar's knee," said Andy.
"You wouldn't have got me down if I had been looking. You got the
advantage of me."
"Did I? Well, then, I'll give you a chance."
Andy rose to his feet, and Godfrey, relieved from the pressure, arose,
too. No sooner was he up than he flew like an enraged tiger at our
hero, but Andy was quite his equal in strength, and, being cool, had
the advantage.
The result was that in a few seconds he found himself once more on his
"You see," said Andy, "it isn't safe for you to attack me. I won't
keep you down any longer, but if you touch Alfred again, I'll give you
something worse."
Godfrey arose from the ground, and shook his fist at Andy.
"I'll make you remember this," he said.
"I want you to remember it yourself," said Andy.
Godfrey didn't answer, but made his way to the schoolroom, sullenly.
"Thank you, Andy," said Alfred, gratefully, "for saving me from
Godfrey. He hurt me a good deal."
"He's a brute," said Andy, warmly. "Don't be afraid of him, Alfred,
but come and tell me if he touches you again. I'll give him something
he won't like."
"You must be very strong, Andy," said the little boy, admiringly. "You
knocked him over just as easy."
Andy laughed.
"Did you ever know an Irish boy that couldn't fight?" he asked. "I'm
better with my fists than with my brains, Alfred."
"That's because you never went to school much. You're getting on fast,
"I'm tryin', Alfred," he said. "It's a shame for a big boy like me not
to know as much as a little boy like you."
"You'll soon get ahead of me, Andy."
Meanwhile Godfrey had taken his place in school, feeling far from
comfortable. He was outraged by the thought that Andy, whom he
regarded as so much beneath him, should have had the audacity to throw
him down, and put his knees on his breast. It made him grind his teeth
when he thought of it. What should he do about it? He wanted to be
revenged in some way, and he meant to be.
Finally he decided to report Andy to the teacher, and, if possible,
induce him to punish him.
"The teacher knows that my father's a man of influence," he said to
himself. "He will believe me before that ragamuffin. If he don't, I'll
try to get him turned away."
When, therefore, the bell rang for recess, and the rest of the
scholars hurried to the playground, Godfrey lingered behind. He waited
till all the boys were gone, and then went up to the teacher.
"Well, Godfrey, what is it?" asked the master.
"Mr. Stone, I want to make a complaint against Andrew Burke," said
"What has he done?"
"He is a brute," said Godfrey, in an excited manner. "He dared to come
up behind my back before school began, and knock me down. Then he put
his knee on my chest, and wouldn't let me up."
"What made him do it?"
"He knows I don't like him, and am not willing to associate with him."
"Was that all the reason?" asked the teacher, keenly.
"I suppose so," said Godfrey.
"I was not aware that Andy Burke was quarrelsome," said the teacher.
"He behaves well in school."
"Because he knows he must."
"Very well; I will inquire into the matter after recess."
Godfrey went back to his seat, triumphant. He didn't doubt that his
enemy would be severely punished.
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