FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
It was the first day of school for the small boy who stood by the farm gate, his eyes pleading with the mother he loved so dearly, as she reluctantly pushed him away towards the village school. He longed to feel the big calloused hand of his grandfather, a hand he’d never been denied before. Peeking through the farm gate at the old man shuffling despondently across the yard to lean on a gate post, the boy had no way of knowing that tears were splashing on the old man’s shirt front.
Kicking rocks, as he walked down the lane, the curly-haired youngster felt betrayed. School! Why did he need school? At five years of age and smart as a whip, he could read and write his name and numbers were no problem at all. And anyway, who needed school when his grandfather knew everything.
His sister, two years older and quite bossy, took his hand and tugged him ever onward. Hating it already, he allowed himself to be led along footpaths through the meadows towards that dreaded building.
The schoolmaster believed in harsh discipline. Scaring the youngsters into terrified submission was his favourite pastime. He stood for no nonsense and was eager to show it to this bright-eyed little cherub.
Alas, this man was in for the surprise of his life. He was about to meet the type of rambunctious courage only small boys with a wily old grandfather would attempt.
Moustache bristling, he bent over to stare the boy in the eye.
“Lad!” he hissed fiercely, expecting young Bobby to start quaking in fear. “If you’re the slightest bit noisy or naughty, I shall beat you to within an inch of your life.”
Then it happened, as if in slow motion.
The cherub’s eyes glinted with fire and in his mind, he heard his grandfather’s words.
“Don’t ever be bullied, son, a bully never expects his victim to fight.”
The boy swung his lunch box hard.
Crack! went the big red nose on the school master’s face, sitting him down with a bang onto the floor of the schoolroom.
Amongst the gasps of the class, the boy ran for the door and out across the school yard. Looking back as he raced down the fields for home, he realized the schoolmaster was in hot pursuit.
It was an uneven race and the lad beat him easily.
Bobby’s grandfather and mother met him as he tore into the farmyard. Here the lad found sanctuary and protection in the giant arms of the old man, but the schoolmaster raced in after him.
“Give that boy to me. I’ll deal with him!” he snapped at the lad’s mother.
“Now just you wait a minute,” mother said softly, smiling at the bright red nose trickling blood into his moustache. “What have you done to him?”
“He burst my nose, the brat!” the man bawled reaching for the boy.
“Oh no you don’t,” grandfather growled. “You won’t lay a finger on this lad.”
“Tell me, sir,” asked mother, smiling disarmingly, “what caused this upset?”
“I was only giving him a lecture on behaviour, scaring him a little, it’s the way I deal with all new starters.”
“Damnit man, you were being nasty without reason, admit it,” grandfather growled. “Well, you picked on the wrong kid didn’t you? This little man don’t scare too easy does he? Now be off with you!”
The old man’s arms tightened protectively around the boy as he glowered at the deflated school- master who turned and walked away.
So ended the cherub's first day at school.
(Note: As Bobby grew up he never allowed himself to be intimidated and was always on the side of the little guy, just like his character "Lizzie Short" in his bestselling novel, Lizzie: Lethal Innocence.)