"I think, boys," said the schoolmaster, when the clock struck twelve, "that I shall give you an extra half holiday this afternoon."
At this intelligence, the boys, led on and headed by the tall boy, raised a great shout,
in the midst of which the master was seen to speak, but could not be heard.
As he held up his hand, however, in token of his wish that they should be silent,
they were considerate enough to leave off, as soon as the longest-winded among them were quite out of breath.
"You must promise me, first," said the schoolmaster,
"that you'll not be noisy, or at least, if you are, that you'll go away first, out of the village, I mean.
I'm sure you wouldn't disturb your old playmate and companion."
There was a general murmur (and perhaps a very sincere one, for they were but boys) in the negative;
and the tall boy, perhaps as sincerely as any of them, called those about him to witness, that he had only shouted in a whisper.
"Then pray do n't forget, there's my dear scholars," said the schoolmaster, "what I have asked you, and do it as a favor to me.
Be as happy as you can, and don't be unmindful that you are blessed with health.
Good-by, all." "Thank 'ee, sir," and "Good-by, sir,"
were said a great many times in a great variety of voices, and the boys went out very slowly and softly.