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CHAPTER III A Credit to the School
 JOHNNY BLOSSOM was walking home from school. He carried his head high; his turned-up, nose was held proudly in the air; his cap hung on the back of his head. Both hands were in his pockets, and his loud whistling waked the echoes as he strode through Jensen . splendid monthly report! Of course he knew it, word for word, and he said it over to himself again, as he had many times.  
“John has lately been more . With his excellent ability he is now a credit to the school.”
This was signed with nothing less than the Principal’s name. Not just a teacher’s—no, thank you! A credit to the school. The whistling grew louder and more piercing. A credit to the school. He was going straight to Father with this report, and would lay it right under Father’s nose.
Well, he had been industrious. He had gone over every lesson five times, and he could off all the exceptions in his German grammar and all the mountains in Asia, even those with the hard names.
Really, it was rather pleasant to know your lessons well and rank with the good scholars. Now he should be able to crow over Asta. She often had to sit the whole afternoon with her fingers in her ears, and studying, and even then couldn’t get her lessons sometimes, and would cry; but, of course, she was only a girl.
He would take this report to Uncle Isaac of Kingthorpe, too. Uncle Isaac was always questioning and probing to find out how he got on at school. Now he should see! Sharp whistling again pierced the air.
Another wonderfully interesting thing was that “Goodwill of Luckton” had arrived. He had seen it at Forsberg’s when he was going to school. At this thought Johnny Blossom broke into a run. through the little gate to their own back yard, he burst into the entry and, in the same headlong fashion, into the dining room. The family was already at the table.
“Here is my monthly report and ‘Goodwill of Luckton’ has come,” exclaimed Johnny.
Father and Mother looked at the report. “Very good, John,” said Father; and Johnny felt Mother’s gentle hand stroking his hair.
“But what is it that has come?”
“‘Goodwill of Luckton,’ of course.”
Johnny was his soup with great haste.
“Express yourself clearly and eat properly.”
Everything had to be so proper to suit Father.
“The apple boat, the one Mr. Lind and Mrs. Lind own, you know—that comes every autumn.”
Yes, the apple boat. It was painted green as it had been last year; the sails were patched; the poorest apples lay in heaps on the deck, the medium sort were in bags, and the best apples were in baskets. In the midst of this abundance Mrs. Lind, who was , usually sat, knitting. When her husband was up in town delivering apples Mrs. Lind took care of the boat, the apples, and Nils and everything. Nils, their son, was more to look after than all the rest put together, for he was the worst scalawag to be found along the whole coast.
John kept on eating and talking. “Nils is a bad boy, Mother. When he talks to his mother, he keeps the side of his face toward her perfectly sober; but he makes faces with the side toward us. It is awfully funny and we laugh; and Mrs. Lind thinks we are laughing at her, and then she scolds, and oh! her scolding is so funny!”
Shortly after dinner Johnny Blossom was out in the woodshed a boat. How and how queer that he should be “a credit to the school!” He would be awfully industrious now every single day; go over every lesson six times, at least.
This boat that he was making was going to be a fine one—Johnny Blossom held it out and peered sharply at it, first lengthwise, then sidewise—the finest boat any one had ever . Every one who saw it would say, “Who made that beautiful, boat?” Well, here was the boy who could do it!
One of these days he must carve out a big ship about half a yard long and make it an exact copy of a real ship.
Johnny Blossom lost himself in wondering whether, when it was finished, he shouldn’t take the ship to school to show to the Principal. If he did, the Principal would, of course, praise him very much, for it would be an well-shaped, handsome ship.
Yes, Johnny Blossom that he would take it to school for the Principal to see. It should be painted and have real sails. Oh, dear! Then he should have to ask Asta to the sails! tease as she was, she sewed well. Girls weren’t good for much else.
How would it be to make a next—one exactly like the “Goodwill of Luckton?”
At this he threw down the boat which was to be so wonderfully graceful and rushed off toward the wharf. How stupid of him to stay at home whittling when the “Goodwill of Luckton” had come!
Of course there were several boys hanging around there—Aaron, Stephen, and Carl. Otherwise not even a cat was to be seen. Streets and wharf were in the quiet noon hour. Mrs. Lind sat nodding upon the deck. Nils lounged on some bags at the front of the boat, amusing himself making faces. Mr. Lind was probably up in the town doing errands.
“Give us an apple,” whispered Stephen to Nils. Nils did not answer, but gave Stephen a sly look and then made a face.
“Throw some ashore,” suggested Johnny Blossom.
“Just one apiece,” whispered Carl.
“Well, don’t then, you !” said Aaron.
Suddenly Nils, with a slyer look than usual on his sly face, went down into the cabin. A minute after he came stamping up again.
“Mother, Mother! The coffee is boiling over. Hurry!”
Mrs. Lind hastily across the deck and squeezed herself down the narrow stairway.
“Come now!” called Nils guardedly to the boys on shore. “Come now! Hurry up and take some apples.”
The boys on the wharf did not wait to be called again but jumped upon the deck and rushed at the bags of fruit.
“Mother, Mother!” roared Nils. “Hurry! There are thieves at the apples! Oh, hurry!”
In an incredibly short time Mrs. Lind had come upstairs, and there stood Mr. Lind also, exactly as if he had shot up out of the ground.
Nils declared loudly: “Before I knew a thing about it, these boys rushed on board and began grabbing some of the best apples.”
Oh, how Mr. Lind and his wife scolded as they seized the boys! Mr. Lind held two of them and Mrs. Lind two—she had a remarkably strong grip—while Nils flew after a policeman. The frightened boys cried and begged to be set free. A crowd gathered on the wharf in no time.
Soon the policeman came. “You will have to go with me to the police station,” said he to the boys. They tried to explain that Nils had invited them on board, but it availed nothing. “You go with me to the police station,” was the only reply the policeman made to anything they said.
Oh, but it was horrid, having to go along the streets with him! Nils should have his pay for getting them into this trouble! At the police station their names were recorded and then the boys were allowed to go. Johnny Blossom, shamefaced and troubled, ran straight home.
In the afternoon the policeman called to talk with Father. Father was very serious and Mother looked frightfully worried. Sister Asta stared with open mouth. John had a bitter time of it while the matter was being settled, and Asta’s teasing voice followed him everywhere as she kept calling out: “Credit to the scho-ol! Great credit! Wonderful credit! Credit to the scho-ol!”
Oh, how horrid, how horrid everything was! Well, he wouldn’t go out any more today, that he wouldn’t; he would stay in his room with the door locked. He had been so delighted with his report, and now even that gave him no pleasure. Of course he couldn’t go to Uncle Isaac with it after this disgrace.
A sudden thought struck him. He would not keep the report any longer. To have “A credit to the school” upon it was too embarrassing after what had happened.
He had not stolen apples, he really had not; but he had been taken to the police station and his name, John Blossom, was written on the police records. Though he had not stolen apples, he had known very well that Mr. Lind and his wife would be angry if boys went on board and helped themselves to apples, even if Nils had said they might.
Pshaw! Everything was horrid. The boys at school would soon know all about it and then they would tease just as Asta did. No, he would not keep that report; he would give it back to the Principal; that was just what he would do. So Johnny Blossom, saying nothing at home of his intention, went with step to the Principal’s house. His cap, instead of being set far back on his head, was jammed well down over his eyes.
“Is the Principal at home?”
“Yes, come in.”
The Principal was a large man with a thick, blond beard and sharp, blue eyes.
“Good day, Johnny Blossom! What did you want to see me about?”
“It is horrid, but”—great searching first in one pocket of his trousers, then in the other—“but if you will please take this report back”—
“Take it back? What do you mean, John?”
“Why, because it says here he is a credit to the school, and he isn’t that—not now.”
“What is that you say? Speak out, my boy.”
The boy looked very little as he stood with his knees shaking before the big Principal.
“Because—because his name has been written in the police records today, and the policeman took him there, and so it was horrid that this report should say he was a credit”—
“Come, John. Tell me about it from the beginning.”
“Why, Nils of the ‘Goodwill of Luckton’ got his mother to go down-stairs and then he called us boys to come aboard and get some apples; and when we went he told his mother there were thieves on board; and he called the policeman.”
“Nils asked you to come on board?”
“Oh, yes; but for all that I knew Mr. and Mrs. Lind would be angry. I knew that perfectly well. But I went, and then I wasn’t a credit to the school; so if you will please take this report back”—
There was a short silence.
“I think you may keep the report,” said the Principal at last. “For you will surely not do anything of the kind again, Johnny Blossom.”
“No. I shan’t have to be taken up by a policeman ever any more.” Johnny shook his head energetically. “And I’m going to study hard. Thank you.”
At the door he repeated his “thank you” as he bowed himself out.
When he was in the street he put the precious report into his pocket, whistling a beautiful that his mother often played. Who cared for any one’s teasing now? Even the boys might try it if they liked, for he was ready for them. The Principal knew all there was to know. Awfully kind man, that Principal!

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