The boy stood with back arched, head cocked back and hands clenched
defiantly. "Go ahead, give it to me."

The principal looked down at the young rebel. "How many times have you been

The child sneered rebelliously, "Apparently not enough."

The principal gave the boy a strange look. "And you have been punished each
time have you not?"

"Yeah, I been punished, if that's what you want to call it." He threw out
his small chest, "Go ahead I can take whatever you dish out. I always

"And no thought of your punishment enters your head the next time you decide
to break the rules does it?"

"Nope, I do whatever I want to do. Ain't nothin you people gonna do to stop
me either."

The principal looked over at the teacher who stood nearby. "What did he do
this time?"

"Fighting. He took little Tommy and shoved his face into the sandbox."

The principal turned to look at the boy, "Why? What did little Tommy do to

"Nothin, I didn't like the way he was lookin at me, just like I don't like
the way your lookin at me! And if I thought I could do it, I'd shove your
face into something."

The teacher stiffened and started to rise but a quick look from the
principal stopped him. He contemplated the child for a moment and then
quietly said, "Today my young student, is the day you learn about grace."

"Grace? Isn't that what you old people do before you sit down to eat? I
don't need none of your stinkin grace."

"Oh but you do." The principal studied the young mans face and whispered.
"Oh yes, you truly do…" The boy continued to glare as the principal
continued, "Grace, in its short definition is unmerited favor. You can not
earn it, it is a gift and is always freely given. It means that you will
not be getting what you so richly deserve."

The boy looked puzzled. "Your not gonna whup me? You just gonna let me

The principal looked down at the unyielding child. "Yes, I am going to let
you walk."

The boy studied the face of the principal, "No punishment at allí Even
though I socked Tommy and shoved his face into the sandbox?"

"Oh, there has to be punishment. What you did was wrong and there are
always consequences to our actions. There will be punishment. Grace is not
an excuse for doing wrong."

"I knew it," Sneered the boy as he held out his hands. "Lets get on with

The principal nodded toward the teacher. "Bring me the belt." The teacher
presented the belt to the principal. He carefully folded it in two and then
handed it back to the teacher. He looked at the child and said. "I want
you to count the blows."

He slid out from behind his desk and walked over to stand directly in front
of the young man. He gently reached out and folded the child's
outstretched, expectant hands together and then turned to face the teacher
with his own hands outstretched.

One quiet word came forth from his mouth. "Begin." The belt whipped down
on the outstretched hands of the principal.

Crack! The young man jumped ten feet in the air. Shock registered across
his face, "One" he whispered. Crack! "Two." His voice raised an octave.
Crack! "Three…" He couldn't believe this. Crack! "Four." Big tears
welled up in the eyes of the rebel. "OK stop! That's enough. Stop!" Crack!
Came the belt down on the callused hands of the principal.

Crack! The child flinched with each blow, tears beginning to stream down
his face. Crack! Crack! "No please", the former rebel begged, "Stop, I
did it, I'm the one who deserves it. Stop! Please. Stop…" Still the
blows came, Crack! Crack! One after another.

Finally it was over.

The principal stood with sweat glistening across his forehead and beads
trickling down his face. Slowly he knelt down. He studied the young man for
a second and then his swollen hands reached out to cradle the face of the
weeping child.


— Author Unknown


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