In the mountains of Virginia years ago there was a Boy's School class which no teacher could handle. The boys were so rough that the teachers resigned. A young grey-haired teacher applied for the job. The old school director scanned him up and down, then said, "Young fellow, do you know what you are asking for?" An awful beating, that's what. Every teacher we've had up there just gives up in defeat." The young teacher replied, "I'll risk it. Let me try."
Well, when he appeared for duty in the little school, one big fellow, Russell, whispered out loud, "I won't ned any help; I can lick him myself."
The teacher said, "Good morning. We have come to conduct school." The students yelled a sarcastic "Good morning" back at the teacher at the top of their lungs. "Now I want a good school," the teacher continued, "but I confess, I don't know how unless you help me. Suppose we have a few rules. You tell me and I'll write them on the blackboard." One fellow yelled, "No stealin'!" Another chipped in "On time!" Finally then rules appeared on the board. "Now," said the teacher, "a law is no good unless there is a penalty attached. What shall we do with the one who breaks them?" "Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on!" came the shout: "That's pretty severe punishment, boy. Are you ready to stand by it?" A yell in the affirmative greeted the teacher. "Alright," said the teacher, "then school comes to order."
Ina day or so "Big Russell' found his dinner was stolen. Upon inquiry the theif was locatted--a little hungry fellow about ten. The next morning the teacher announced, "We have found a theif and he must be punished according to your rule--ten stripes 'cross the back! Jim, come up here!"
The trembling little fellow came up slowly with a big coat, buttoned and pinned up around his neck. He pleaded, "Teacher, you can lick me as hard as you like, but please don't make me take off my coat."
"You helped make the rule," reasoned the teacher. "Take the coat off."
"Oh, teacher, don't make me!" he begged. But the teacher's stern face displayed no leniency, so he began to unbutton. And what did the teacher behold? The lad had no shirt on, and only strings for suspenders over his little bony body.
"How can I whip this boy?" thought the teacher. "But I must do something if I am to keep this class' respect." Everything was quiet as death. "How come you came to school without a shirt, Jim?" asked the teacher.
"My father died, and we ain't got much. I only have one shirt, and mother's washing it today, so I wore my brother's coat to keep warm." With the sigh of a heavy heart, the teacher hesitatingly grasped the rod in his hand. Just then, 'Big Russell' jumped to his feet and said, "Teacher, if you don't mind, I'll take Jim's licking for him."
"Very well, there is a certain law that says that one can take another's punishment for him. Are you all agreed?" With the class' consent, Russell removed his coat, and after five hard strokes the rod broke. The teacher bowed his head and thought, "How can I finish this awful task?"
Then he heard the entire class sobing and what did he see? Little Jim had reached up and caught Russell with both arms around his neck. "Russell, I'm awful sorry...Russell, I was so hungry. I'll love you 'til I die for taking my licking for me. Yes! I'll love you forever!"