'I'm sorry for being late, Mr. Johnson! It won't happen again!'
The aged teacher looked into his late student's eyes, who looked back, trying to ignore the sweat starting to form on his forehead. An uneasy silence had fallen over the classroom - Mr. Johnson was known to use the cane on tardy and misbehaving students. Suddenly, before the tardy teenager could finish readying himself, Johnson spoke.
'Be thankful that this is only your first late, Mr. Anderson. Take your seat - you've only missed the first few minutes of today's lesson, so this shouldn't be a big problem.'
Anderson turned and headed for the seat next to the window, saying nothing but breathing a sigh of relief, while Mr. Johnson continued talking about...whatever he was talking about before Anderson's arrival. Before he could even get his notes out, however, his train of thought was interrupted by somebody tapping him on the shoulder and whispering into his ear.
'Close one, Tom - I thought you were done for. Can I borrow your lucky charm?'
Tom turned around to see his friend, wearing his goofy grin on his face and not even looking at his notebook. He smiled and said back,
'I don't have anything on me, but if I did I definitely wouldn't give it you, seeing as it's working miracles for me already. What are we doing right now?'
Before Larry could answer, Mr. Johnson turned and barked,
'Anderson! Kendall! Are you listening to me?!'
Both young men immediately dropped their smiles and said back,
Johnson narrowed his eyes and said,
'I very much doubt it...Anderson, you're already in hot water, and you're turning up the heat. You too, Kendall - I haven't forgotten you pulling down Evans' pants while he was giving that speech, and don't you think I don't know scrawled all those obscenities over that portrait of President Muskie. Any more trouble from you, and I'll send you down to see the principal. Now not another word out of either of you.'
Both boys nodded, though Larry had to work hard to suppress his laughter. Behind him, his girlfriend snapped,
'Pay attention, Larry. You heard Mr. Johnson - if you screw up again you'll be sent to the office. I'm surprised he hasn't done that yet, actually.'
'Relax, Mandy, all I did was talk to Tom. But don't worry, I'm listening to you - next time, I won't screw up. I'll keep an eye on Johnson and stop whatever I'm doing before he can catch me.'
Mandy rolled her eyes and turned back to Mr. Johnson. All three began to actually listen to their teacher and take notes now.
'Last week, we studied President George Washington and his achievements, and we also began to study President John Adams' first term. Today, we will begin work on President Adams' second term, and the rest of his achievements, as well as the election of 1804 - if we have the time. I trust you all read pages forty-five to forty-seven of your textbook and know how he got a second term in the first place?'
Six hands shot up. Mr. Johnson pointed at Mandy.
'Yes, Ms. Ross?'
'John Adams won the close election of 1800 by playing on fears that the Democratic-Republicans would drag the United States into a war against Britain on the side of the French. He also swayed voters by claiming that his opponent, future President Thomas Jefferson, would try to destroy religion in America and unleash a campaign of revolutionary terror similar to the Reign of Terror in France. Lastly, his decision to reconcile with Alexander Hamilton and grant concessions to the High Federalists helped keep his party united behind him; needless to say, their reconciliation was instrumental in getting Adams his victory, likely more so than his vicious attacks on Jefferson - who was little better, having launched his own retaliatory attacks and claiming that Adams would ruin the republic and was 'too friendly' with the British.'
'Correct, correct, correct, Ms. Ross. I see you have done your work, as always. The election of 1800 was an extremely close one, as you can see from the map here:
Does anybody know how much of the popular vote and the electoral vote Adams won?'
Again, Mandy's hand was first in the air, and Mr. Johnson chose her again.
'Adams won 50.4 percent of the popular vote and seventy electoral votes, sir. The map does not show that he won seven electoral votes in Pennsylvania and four in North Carolina in addition to the states he captured.'
'Very good, Ms. Ross, very good. Now then, as I said, we will read about John Adams' achievements in his second term, as well as - '
The bell rang, and several students, including both Tom and Larry, sighed in relief or whistled. Mr. Johnson clucked his tongue and said,
'Well, well...you all know what the bell means. Before I let you go, I ask that you read pages fifty-one to fifty-three and summarize John Adams' achievements. I will be checking your work tomorrow, and I will not listen to any of your excuses. Now - dismissed.'