When they came to recite their lessons, not one of them knew his verses perfectly, but had to be prompted all along.
Mary took his book to hear him recite, and he tried to find his way through the fog: "Blessed are the—a—a—"
However, they worried through, and each got his reward—in small blue tickets, each with a passage of Scripture on it; each blue ticket was pay for two verses of the recitation.
Every day he took a mysterious book out of his desk and absorbed himself in it at times when no classes were reciting.
The meagre Latin class recited with honor.
He once recited three thousand verses without stopping; but the strain upon his mental faculties was too great, and he was little better than an idiot from that day forth—a grievous misfortune for the school, for on great occasions, before company, the superintendent (as Tom expressed it) had always made this boy come out and "spread himself."
A very little boy stood up and sheepishly recited, "You’d scarce expect one of my age to speak in public on the stage," etc.—accompanying himself with the painfully exact and spasmodic gestures which a machine might have used—supposing the machine to be a trifle out of order.
They said their prayers inwardly, and lying down, since there was nobody there with authority to make them kneel and recite aloud; in truth, they had a mind not to say them at all, but they were afraid to proceed to such lengths as that, lest they might call down a sudden and special thunderbolt from heaven.