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The Bully
by [?]

There are bullies and bullies. There is the big brother, for instance, who considers it as much part of his duty to administer an occasional cuff to his youthful relative, as he does to stroke his own chin for the first sign of a beard, or to wear his tall hat on Sundays. That is not the sort of bullying any one complains of. Pretty sort of fellows some of us would have turned out if we hadn’t come in for a little wholesome knocking about in our day! What’s the use of big brothers, we should like to know, if it’s not to chastise youngsters! and what are younger brothers made for, if they are not to be occasionally “whopped!”

When I first reached a “bullyable” age, I found myself number three of a set of five boys. I had looked on in awe at the discipline inflicted by my eldest brother on number two; I had been a trembling spectator of scuffles and tears, and pulled ears and sore knuckles, and knew my turn for the same hardships was coming. And so it did. Number one went to college, and then number two was cock of the walk, and didn’t I catch it then? The ears that had recently smarted between another’s finger and thumb were now deaf to my lamentations, and the knuckles that I had seen bruised and sore now played on my poor countenance as if it had been a tambourine. It wasn’t pleasant while it lasted, of course; but then it was all in the regular course of things, and had to be grinned at and borne; and besides it was a splendid training for me, when I came to be left ruler of the roost with young number four at my mercy. Poor number four! he had a hard time of it. He was a meek sort of fellow, and took a lot of bullying. I’ve a broken-backed lexicon to this day which often used to fly across the room at his devoted head, and which he as regularly picked up and handed back to me.

Never was a czar more absolute than I during the brief years of my supremacy.

But it was monotonous work bullying a fellow who never showed fight; and one day, in reply to a touching lamentation on his part, I demanded, “Why don’t you say you won’t, then, and stick to it?” Would you believe it? the ungrateful fellow took me at my word! Next time I issued a decree, he made my hair stand on end by shouting, “Shan’t!” I could not believe my wits; and when he not only refused, but (in accordance with my own unlucky advice) positively defied me, I was fairly nonplussed! In vain the lexicon performed its airy flight; in vain my ruler flourished over his knuckles; in rain I stormed and raged. No martyr at the stake was ever more sublimely firm; and from that day my reign was over.

It was over as far as he was concerned; but as he resolutely declined to do his duty in knocking about number five, I had to sacrifice myself for the family good, and take that young scamp in hand too, and as he was the youngest, he had nothing to do but wait till he grew up, and then– when he suddenly discovered he was six feet high–he took a turn at bullying me, who by that time was a married man with a family.

Now, perhaps, this sort of bullying within ordinary bounds does no great harm. In our case we almost seemed to like one another the better for it, though each in his turn rent the air with his howls and lamentations. Perhaps, however, we were exceptional boys, and I am not going to recommend the system.