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When they became too rude and noisy, George or Thomas called them to order, by giving them a hint of the bargain which had been made. Very soon they began to argue upon some point that seemed hard to settle, from the loud tones with which they spoke.
" What is the matter?” asked James Black, for he heard his own name used in the debate.
Why, Hiram says you cannot jump over that stool, and I know you can,' said Edward James looked at the stool.
It was a high one, and stood on a clear space, not far from the desk of Mr. Wise.
“Yes, I can jump over it, and at the first trial too, as I will soon show you," he said; and as he spoke, he joined them with a view to proving the truth of his words.
The boys stood off to leave him room. He gave one high leap quite over the stool; but before his feet gained the floor
on the other side, they struck an end of the master's desk, and upset an inkstand over some letters and papers which were highly valued by Mr. Wise. moment the boys all stood aghast and silent, gazing on the ruin before them. Edward West spoke first.
“Never mind, James," he said, with a look of pity at poor James, who stood near to him, quite pale with grief and dismay at what he had done. “ Never mind; you did not mean to do any harm, and it cannot be helped now.'
No," said Thomas; "the master need not know how it was done, for none of us will ever tell about it.”
No, indeed, we will never tell,” cried all the boys.
James stood as before, and made no reply; from a deadly paleness, his face had grown quite red while they spoke, but this was all the change which their words seemed to make in him.
" It will be quite easy to hide the truth from the master, James,” said Hiram; "and I'll tell you how. Shut up
the desk now and lock it, and then, when he asks about it, we will say that we saw you put all the books and
papers and other things safely away in the desk, and lock it up.
That is all true, you know. Then he will think that in some way the desk has got a jolt, which upset the inkstand after it was closed.”
Why, Hiram!” said James in an amazed tone; "do you
think I would tell
“ That would not be telling a lie, I am sure,” said Hiram; "for you did put all the things safely by in the desk, and that was all I told
You need not tell him how the ink was spilt. Let him
“Yes,” said Edward; “ for he will not be likely to say, "James Black, was it
you who upset my inkstand?' and if he does not, I do not see that there need be any lie told in the case.”
“I do not see how I can help telling a lie, unless I tell the whole story in full, just as it came about,” said James.
Well, I do not see where you can find one false word in all I told you to say,” said Hiram.
" It is certainly a lie to pretend to tell the whole story, and yet keep back the chief part of it, and that, too, which is most to the point,” said James.
“ Then what do you mean to do?” asked Hiram.
Tell the whole story in full, to be sure; and not keep back a single part of it which the master ought to know; then say to him that I am very sorry that I did not go on doing my duty, as I should have done, and that I hope he will pardon me for it,” said James in a firm, clear tone.
More than two years had passed since the death of John Hood, and in that time James Black had gained new power to resist evil. He had prayed to God for this power, and his prayer had not been in vain. He had become “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.”
“ What! Do you mean to tell that we came back to school after we had been sent home ?” asked one of the boys, with an angry shake of the head.
Not, if I can help it, and yet tell the whole truth about what I did myself,” said James.
“That is right,” said Edward West. " James Black is not as old as we are, but he has more real honour about him, and is more of a man, than any of us; and I think we ought to copy him, and come out boldly too, and tell the truth of our part of the affair."
"I think so too,” said one or two others; and those who did not speak, in their hearts agreed with what Edward said.