It's a new school year and a new world. We say goodbye to Sweyn, who heads off to a Catholic boarding school in Salt Lake City, and we say hello to a new teacher, Mr. Standish, who makes Viola Swamp look like a holiday.
Meanwhile, the boys' friend Andy Anderson isn't back in school because he stepped on a rusty nail, got gangrene, and had his leg amputated. And we thought strep throat was bad.
In this chapter, the Great Brain really raises the stakes with his newest plan to get rid of the new teacher.
Mr. Standish paddles Tom because he won't reveal who put a frog in a girl's desk and—as we might guess—Tom's not going to take this injustice lying down.
He fights back by enlisting the help of twelve other kids, plus J.D., to steal whiskey from their parents and plant the evidence in Mr. Standish's belongings, thus proving that Mr. Standish is a secret drinker, which is totally against the rules.
Just when the school board and all the parents are convinced Mr. Standish is morally unfit to be teaching their children, Papa gets suspicious.
As the Fitzgerald family sits in the parlor after supper, Papa laments Mr. Standish's fate, saying whoever would lie about something like that is pretty darn awful.
Tom won't stand for this and starts defending himself.
J.D., ever the first to crack under pressure, promptly confesses the whole thing.
Papa marches Tom down to the school board meeting and forces him to confess.
Even though the plan to get rid of Mr. Standish fails, Tom gets what he wants: no more paddlings and a return to Miss Thatcher's discipline system.
In fact, Tom comes out of this better than ever—Mr. Standish is grateful to him for confessing and saving his job, and all the kids think he's awesome for stopping the paddlings.