A Fight in the Study Hall

Among the school buildings he study hall stood as a low-lying one story hall. Every morning at nine and every afternoon at one thirty three hundred and fifty boys congregated there to be sent out in order to their various and respective rooms. Those classes which did not have recitations the first hour remained in the study hall to study under the supervision of a tutor who maintained quiet and order.

One evening, a few minutes before the student body was to gather in the study hall for evening study, I wandered in. The only other boy there at the minute was an Armenian boy, a quiet unassuming chap, who had a reputation of never having anything to say and seemed to be always pouring over his books. This evening, he was seated in his usual place reading. A couple of Bulgarians came in and seeing the Armenian who had already taken advantage of a few minutes before the school should assemble to begin his studies, they approached the Armenian and began to poke fun at him. The poor fellow who had been patiently long-suffering up to this minute, suddenly developed enough indignation to rise and smite his prosecutors. There then followed a free-for-all fight in which books and papers were scattered indiscriminately.

I, who generally ached for a fight, jumped into the fray, and the four of us were going hammer and tongs as the students came in in increasingly large numbers. The Armenian boys who came in saw one of their compatriots being attacked by another race and they would throw themselves into the fight in his defense. The Bulgarians, on the other hand, who were collecting gradually, came in and when they saw the Armenians fighting against the Bulgarians, they felt called upon to join in too. When the Greeks and other nationalities came in, they found it quite necessary to fight in order to hold their own. The result was that when the notes of the last bell rang out, there were no ears to hear. The entire school was embroiled in one of the most fierce fights of its checkered career.

I had originally started to assist my Armenian friend. I soon found myself, however, fighting simply to protect myself from being trampled under foot in the melee. In the wild scramble of the flying dust, I had lost all idea of time. Suddenly, I felt a grip which came from behind and which gripped me between the shoulders, - a grip vastly more powerful than anything I had yet experienced. I was bodily lifted from the floor of the central aisle and thrown to one side onto a writhing mass of bodies on the tops of the desks. When I was able to peer around, I saw Mr. R______, the one strong on our school faculty, striding up the aisle hurling all the boys in his path to one side and threw the others in his irresistible path to the desk on the platform at the far end of the hall. You can readily imagine that when he arrived at the desk, everyone knew it and all that he had to do was to turn around and face us, standing there for a minute, and then a gentle little tap on the desk bell. By this time, everyone had huddled himself into a seat and sudden quiet reigned supreme while dense dust flowed about in all directions.

Such events which stand out so clearly in one's mind do so because they are unusual. Although there was considerable rivalry among the nationalities, it was extraordinary how successful the school was in maintaining peace. Individually, the boys maintained friendships without discrimination of nationality. It was only when boys were insulted to any pronounced degree that the dawn of racial feeling tended to express itself.

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