'Sir?' replied George, slowly awakening to his predicament. George knew that displeasing the old man would have its price.
'You sir have been sleeping in my class, indeed snoring like a trumpet. The subject we were discussing was The Trivium, you irksome boy' Smalling snapped. George looked around at his fellow classmates. They were staring at him, clearly enjoying the uncomfortable scene enfolding before them. Smythe, both class bully and class idiot, had swivelled on his more than ample rump and was smiling at George, licking his lips. He then gestured a kiss with the same thin weak lips and sneered. George disliked Smythe more than any other boy in school. In fact, Smythe was hated by everyone it seemed, even the teachers.
'Trivium is a method that helps you think clearly Sir' he replied, after some time.
Mr Smalling looked somewhat disappointed that George was at least partially right. 'Mmmmm,' he said, holding his chin. 'and what are the three ingredients of this process?' He turned and strutted back toward the front of the class.
'Grammar, logic and...'
'Come on boy, out with it. You have held up this class long enough.'
George knew the answer. Although only thirteen he had a keen and developing intellect, possessing a quick mind and a questioning outlook. Today though, his brain felt as if it had, to use a mechanical analogy, fallen into neutral. It was as if it was saying to him, 'No George, you can't have that little snippet of information'. For whatever reason it was unable to release the answer, and was still clutching at it until, with great difficulty, George reached in and engaged first gear.
'Rhetoric sir.' he said at last, rubbing his temples as if to thank his brain for finally allowing him to fend off his adversary, at least for the moment.
Mr Smalling seemed irritated, presumably because his attempt to make the boy look foolish had failed, and he did enjoy humiliating children; that was not a secret, even amongst his fellow teachers. 'You are here at this worthy establishment, and at great expense to your parents I might add, to learn, not to have fun, remember that.' He punched the desk as he spoke, to reinforce his words. 'How can we as teachers mould you into the leaders of tomorrow if you stay up all night playing silly pranks and chattering like idiots. Falling asleep during lessons is not acceptable behaviour! See me after class Mr Knight, and for goodness sake Smythe stop picking your nose'. He resumed his sermon on critical thinking and George began nodding off again, until his friend Wilkinson elbowed him sharply in the ribs.