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Tom Bent's Revenge.

OM BENT, of Wentworth Academy, was

a tall, muscular fellow of fifteen, whom the little boys all feared, and the big boys all hated. Despite his unpopularity, however, he succeeded in browbeating the whole school, and acted towards his companions very much as his ill-nature inclined him. After every tussel he grew

more and more insolent and domineering until, at last, the younger boys used to separate and disperse in every direction if he were seen coming towards them.

One little chap, named Benny Clapp, seemed to be the particular object of Tom's spite and malice.

Bennie was a delicate, sweet-tempered lad, about eleven years old, who had never been known to do a mean or unkind thing since he entered the school. It was all the stranger, therefore, that Tom Bent should take so much trouble to plague and

[graphic]

annoy him.

There seemed absolutely no reason for Tom's ugliness to Bennie, except that Bennie was always especially good to him. Whenever Tom did any particularly mean thing, Bennie would say to his friends :

“I don't think it's all Tom's fault that he is so wicked. Half the time, I don't believe he knows how bad he is. You see he hasn't any father or mother to tell him what's right and wrong; and they say the uncle he lives with treats him awfully.”

“He is a great deal bigger and older than we are," Charlie Dean would reply; "and he ought to know better."

That's nothing," Bennie would add. “I know lots of men that's bigger and older than my father, and they don't know half as much as he does."

So, with a sweet spirit of charity, Bennie would forgive Tom for all his tricks.

Bye-and-bye, the autumn slipped away, and the boys began to get out their skates, grease and sharpen them, look at the condition of their sleds, and generally prepare for cold weather. The school-house stood on a knoll close beside a small winding stream. The water was deep only in certain places, which the boys were well acquainted with, and the tiny river afforded them much amusement as a place to bathe and swim in in summer, and a fine field of smooth, glaze ice to skate on in winter.

Of all the lads there was no one who enjoyed skating and coasting so much as Bennie Clapp. From the first morning when he discov red the water just glazed by the frost, he tried the strength and thickness of the ice every day, until it was safe to test it upon runners. Small and slight as he was, he was the best skater in the school ; and was envied for his accomplishments by all his companions.

He was skilled in letter-cutting, figure-drawing, and all sorts of fancy devices; and was a perfect adept in “outer edge” and the “ Dutch roll.” He would stand on the point of one skate, and describe with the other a circle ten times as perfect as, he could draw in school with the aid of compasses and pencil. He was perfectly ready to teach any one all his tricks on runners, but none of the boys could ever learn well enough to rival him.

“ It seems just as if Bennie's feet were hands,” Charlie Dean used to say discontentedly, after some failure of his own to make a ring or cut an 8; “they always go just where he wants 'em to, and never sprawl about, and trip him up as other fellows' feet do.”

Bennie's proficiency on the ice was one of Tom Bent's chief grievances. By practising fin private, and performing in public, Tom tried to outdo Bennie ; but he never succeeded. One or two of Bennie's most fantastic and graceul feats, Tom, who was much heavier and clumsier, could never approach. He was always boasting that he could teach Bennie Clapp a thing or two on skates ; but nobody had ever seen him do or attempt to do anything which Bennie could not accomplish much better. So, nobody took any notice of his boasts and threats, and this indifference only irritated him the more against Bennie.

One day, at afternoon recess, Bennie discovered, lying on the ground near the river-bank, a good, strong strap, with holes and a buckle—just such an one, indeed, as he had been wanting for a long time to fasten round his skates when he had to carry them in his hand. He picked it up, and ran about among the boys trying to find its owner. Nobody claimed it, or knew to whom it belonged, so Bennie concluded to keep it until inquiries were made for it. He put his skates together ; buckled the strap round them ; thought how nice it would be to carry them that way,

and then, at the sound of the bell, went back to his lessons.

“Where's my skate-strap? Has anybody got my skatestrap?" shouted Tom Bent after school was out, fumbling among the books in his desk.

At first there was no answer; for many of the boys, including Bennie, had already gone out into the yard, and the others were too busy about their own affairs to observe Tom. He scowled, picked up his books, and, snatching his cap from the hook, rushed out among the scholars gathered around the stone steps.

Oh! it's you, is it, Clapp, who've stolen my strap?" cried Tom, seizing poor Bennie by the collar, and lifting him with a shake several inches from the ground. "I might have known who it was, if I had only thought a minute.”

Bennie's face flushed, for he deeply resented the imputation of having taken something that did not belong to him. When he got breath enough to speak, he said :

“I didn't steal your strap at all, Tom Bent. I picked it up in the yard at recess.

Nobody knew whose it I

was, so

kept it till I should find the owner.

I didn't think it was any harm to put if round my skates ; but I'm very glad to give it back, Tom, now I know whom it belongs to.”

And Bennie, winding the unfortunate piece of leather into a coil, handed it to Tom, who stood over him like the brute and tyrant that he was.

“I'll be revenged on you, that's all !” cried Tom, as he walked off down the road.

“ I'll skate home now, I guess,” said Bennie, beginning to fit bis runners to his boots.

“ All right,” added Charlie Dean ; “ I'll go as far as I can with you.”

The little river that passed the school-house flowed through land that Bennie's father owned ; and often, when the ice was good, the boy would skate home from school, which it took him much less time to do than to walk over the broken road.

Tom Bent lived a trifle beyond Bennie; but they rarely went home together, for Bennie seldom spoke to Tom when the latter did not molest him in some way.

As Tom walked along, nursing his anger against poor Bennie, and vowing to be revenged on him, he heard the low, whirring sound of skates on ice. He turned round and saw, some distance behind him, a little figure rapidly approaching backward. He knew very well who the lad was, but he took no notice of him.

Just in front of him, round a slight bend in the river, Tom could see a great, black breathing hole, about which the ice was very thin for several yards.

If the skater continued the course be was then taking, he must inevitably fall into the water. There was plenty of time to warn him, if Tom chose. The water was horribly cold. It made Tom shiver to look at it. The skater was nearing the curve faster and faster. One moment, and he would disappear beneath the ice.

All that was wicked in Tom Bent's nature rose up in his brain, and whispered : “ Let him go.

It'll give him a good scare, and serve him right for taking the strap. Now is the time for revenge!”

The skater was almost on the black, chin ice. All that was good in Tom Bent's nature filled his heart with a flood of kindness toward the little fellow, who had never done him any harm, and whom he had tormented so often.

“ Look out !” cried Torn, eagerly.

Too late! A shriek, a splash, a crackling that split the ice into hundreds of odd pieces, and the merry skater disappeared in the cold, black depths. Forever? No; Tom Bent's stalwart figure is already struggling with ice, water, everything. Now he has his strong arms clasped tightly about Bennie's senseless form. A minute more-two minutes-he is safely on the bank, panting, shivering, but with Bennie still in his arms.

To this day, he can scarcely tell you how he managed to carry Bennie home without help, almost exhausted as he was himself. But he did so, and the half-drowned boy was brought back to consciousness, and Tom was warmed and clothed and fed, and made to know what kindness meant.

The two boys became fast friends after that, and, through Bennie's gentle influence, Tom ceased to be a brutal tyrant and mean bully-became, after many struggles and much striving, one of the kindest and best boys in the academy. And Bennie is fond of telling all the new boys who come to the school how Tom revenged himself on him by saving his life.—American.

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