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The Magpie Sings the Great Depression:
Selections from DeWitt Clinton High School's Literary Magazine, 1929-1942

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The Runaway

Mitchell Kurman, '39

The Magpie, January 1937, v. 21, n. 1., p. 11.

Aw gee," moaned Sam, "I can never do anything. Anybody would think I was a baby the way I'm treated."

"Now you get upstairs to bed and stop your grumbling," warned Mrs. Borden. "I've had enough of your nonsense. The idea, wanting to go out after ten in the evening just because you've reached your eleventh birthday!"

Sam, with tears in his eyes, reluctantly obeyed. Within his mind surged rebellion. His wild and hasty thoughts soon formed a plan. He would run away and live like a grown-up. With his eleven year old brain, he visioned himself as an emperor, a bandit chief, a president, an explorer and even a ruler of an empire greater than any before. Nothing could stop him. He had read stories of men who rose to fame and fortune by their own genius. To have his name added to this exclusive list of successes was his goal.

That night, a small boy was seen trudging along a main road. He looked quite frightened, and the glances of passing people made him wince. From every place eyes seemed to stare at him. He felt like a display in a window although no one was paying the slightest attention to him. The chiming of the big clock in the square made him jump. Sam worked his legs like pistons. He wanted to get out of the city before anyone could see him. In a short while, the lights of the city flickered in the distance very faintly, and Sam was far in the suburbs.

The moon, which had all this time been a cheering sphere, now became shrouded in the clouds. The air began to get cold. Sam wished he had started better prepared. Suddenly a bolt of lightning streaked through the heavens. At the same time, all the rain contained in heaven seemed to start coming down. Sam, miserable, thoroughly frightened, and soaked to the skin by the cold rain, sought shelter in a broken down shanty. Once inside, Sam felt new horrors come over him. Every article in and around the shack seemed to take on a grotesque and horrifying form. The trees which could be seen only as black silhouettes against an almost equally black sky, appeared to be swaying ghosts performing in a wild dance. The greater the gale the more fantastic the shapes became. The wind, whistling through the trees, sounded to Sam like ghouls in a weird and shrill shrieking song. The rumble of thunder seemed to him at least a pack of growling wolves at his heels. Chills ran up and down Sam's spine. His hands and cheeks became icy. Forgotten were his dreams of glory and conquest. Another burst of lightning and Sam's eyes nearly popped out from fright. Between chattering teeth, Sam asked forgiveness for his doings. He even made an attempt to pray. He began to promise even more than a politician does on election day. Exhaustion mercifully put an end to his horrors.

Dawn was breaking when Sam awakened. The thoughts of the night came back to him. He ran out of the shack to the road. A truck driver, out of curiosity to know what this pathetic figure was doing on the road so early, offered him a lift.

When Sam reached the city, he thanked the driver and ran towards home. On the way he passed the big clock which had frightened him. He saw that it would still be a long time until his mother came to his room to call him. His heart once again thumped within him as it had the night before, but this time not with fright but gratitude. He was grateful for having a home and for reaching it safely.

Mrs. Borden was rather surprised to find her boy wide awake and dressed at half past seven, when Sam scarcely was ever out of bed till nine. Sam, seeing his mother looking amazed, hastened to explain that he was up and dressed as a part of a new resolution. This added shock was almost too much for Mrs. Borden, who resolved to find out more later.

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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