Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

We all remember her. It does not seem so very long ago since we enjoyed such delightful hours, In experimenting upon her patience, in trying to see how far our mischief-loving propensities were allowable. Sometimes a smile would dimple her pretty mouth, in spite of the evident effort to control her desire to laugh. Not infrequently we carried our pranks too far, and were subjected to the almost intolerable punishment of standing in the corner with our banks to our companions; or being tied to the mistress' apron string. The last resort, the extreme of severity, was giving us a seat by the side of a boy. I can't explain how it was, but somehow she always placed us by the one we preferred of all others to sit by. She had a lover, the last winter's master, we knew that well enough, and perhaps she wished to ameliorate our painful sentence by a careful deference to our taste; at any rate our sobs, I think, might have been more enbdued but for appearance sake. Girls learn very early the importance of appearance. (Don't you think so, Mr. Editor ?) You've had no doubt, my dear afflicted readers, occasion in your life time when a show of grief was necessary to decency, and when in your heart you were finding divers consoling thoughts to sustain you. These occasions were just such in the days of Miss Grey, school-mistress. It was very hard not to say, Maggie dear to her, but respect must in this case supersede affection. Well, as I said, she had a lover; a handsome, pale, studious looking young man, who was the very opposite of the rosy cheeked, rosy-lipped girl who presided over as inerry a bevy of children as ever ran wild in a country village.

Maggie Grey was an orphan; orphaned of the very memory of her parents, and she felt it the more because the relatives with whom she lived were so very opposite to her in every respect. They had one creed, one commandinent, one religion, and that was orthodox, for it was in the sacred book; namely: " Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might," and they added thereto "find something." Work, work, labor, labor, could have been heard like the click, clack of the kitchen clock, by any listener who chanced to be in the hearing of one member of the family.

Now Maggie foolishly thought that mental cultivation was almost equal, at least not more than a secondary degree removed from cultivating cabbages and carrots. Then another of her peculiar notions was that the putting together a scrap or two of wisdom, was quite as important as sewing together odd bits of chintz to make “such beauties of bedspreads." True, all these things had their place of importance in Maggie's mind, but they did not stand on a level with the opinions of the remainder of the family. It was a source of regret, because a pecuniary loss to the heads of the house, that Maggie should take to things that brought no returns, for the investments that had no percentage. Then Maggie was very beautiful, and she knew it; and as it was all her possessions, she valued it accordingly, and added to it every grace and intellectaal charm within her limited means. She caroled like a bird all day long at her incessant drudgery, and every body said she was very happy; but there was a sore spot down deep in her young heart that was concealed from every eye in the world. She did not dislike labor, but her thoughts craved food while her hands were occupied. The constant chatter of baking, brewing, scrubbing, mending, getting, and hoarding, did not satisfy the young girl, and she hardly knew what would, till the young master opened a wider ran e for her restless spirit, and directed it to the fountain whereof the more one drinks the less one is satisfied, but whose waters are always sweet. I can't tell you if Richard Alton was successful generally among his pupils, but in Maggie's case there was entire satisfaction as far as teacher and pupil were concerned. Maggie's uncle, who happened to have the authority in the matter, made no polite offers of a resumption of duty when the winter's term was ended, and if he had, there was not the least probability of an acceptance. Maggie had a cousin who went to school with her, and who always accused her of all sorts of contemptible ways of cheating in recitation, stealing in composition, and sly assistance from the master in her problems. And then Mr. Alton was charged with studying anatomy, physiology, and physiognomy, in school hours, and craving Maggie Grey for a subject. Perhaps he did, for the pretty mischief asked him if he would like to make a manikin of her, and he replied that he would much rather have her legally changed into a woman akin to him, which of course gave the young student an agreeable opportunity of seeing how rapidly her blood circulated in her face.

Maggie improved strangely. She remembered every word of her instructor, whether in school or out, particularly out. Once she found her composition entirely rewritten, and the subject changed, when she came to examine what corrections her teacher had made. There were some unusual blunders in her recitations that day; indeed it was remarked by the other girls that there was something amiss with the young teacher, and Maggie could have confirmed the statement bad she chosen, but she did not. Her composition, at least the one given to her, was not read to the school that week.

Well, he went away, so my Uncle Ned says, who kept a sharp eye on Maggie in those days, as well as snapped apple seeds at her in school hours, and threw cariously folded love letters at her, written something after this formula:

“The rose is red, the violet's blue,

Butter is dear and so are you,
My pen is poor, my ink is black,
My heart, I'm sure, will burst or crack.
Sugar it is very sweet, molasses it is sweeter,
My love as far exceeds them both,
As honey does saltpeter.”

In the summer time the pupils were all small, and as Maggie was good for nothing else, in her aunt's estimation, she was installed over us little ones. It was not much matter for us, we were only children, and of course of little consequence. We might any one of us take the measles and die, and then the salary of an accomplished, expensive teacher would be quite lost. They, the old ones, were quite satisfied, and so were we. I would lay my head in her lap, and wonder she could be so pretty and so happy, when she had no mother, for I had none, and if I ever stopped my mischief long enough to think of it, I was very miserable in my young orphanage.

I did not know then, though I do now, that another love, as holy, as restful, had filled the great vacuum in her heart, as it has since in mine.

One day she told us in the morning that the last winter's teacher would inspect the school in the afternoon, and she hoped we would all be very good. “Inspect the school! that's a likely thing when my marm says he's coming to inspect the mistress some day,” said Peggy Jones in a loud whisper, at which we all tittered out, and were obliged to confess the cause, much to poor Maggie's confusion. Well he came, and walked in with a dignified air, and says, “Good afternoon, Miss Grey," and she said, Good afternoon, Mr. Alton," and passed him an English Reader to look

There were many mistakes that day, but neither of the teachers saw them. Walter Finlay, the imp of the room, found preperjections, and contrajunctions in his grammar lesson, and whatever the teachers found was never told us. I knew they were lovers, Uncle Ned said so; and I had heard somebody say "love was blind," and so I accounted for the remarkable phenomena in this way, and wondered if any specs would ever care them. I had an inquiring turn of mind, and wondered what phase the affair would assume when the children were gone. Could Maggie find her way home? Was'nt she angry at Mr. Alton? And may be she did not like to be left alone with him. I'd go back to get-let me see, what excuse could I make? yes there was my ink-stand; I'd spill the ink out under the desk and bring it out empty, and pretend to wish to have it refilled. I walked very softly to the door which opened into the schoolroom, and pushed it silently, and they had—made up, and Maggie was perched upon his knee. I dodged around the corner of the house, and they thought the breeze sent the door back upon its hinges. I went home in a marvel, and also with a determination to have a lover when I got big. It was a great secret I carried in my liitle bosom, and like many another woman in embryo or otherwise, it was hard to keep alone. I scorned to tell my companions, for they had mothers, and I then supposed it impossible to keep any thing from such a dear friend. There was Uncle Ned, he was a man, almost; at least he used his father's razor on the sly, and nobody knew it but me, so I would return his confidence. He went out to split the kindlings for the morning's fire, and I followed.

over.

“Sit down here, Uncle Ned, I've something so secret to tell you. Now you won't tell nobody?

“No, I'm sure I won't tell nobody," said Uncle Ned, mischievously.
“But won't you tell somebody?” said I.
“ Try me, Miss Particular.”

“It you (do tell, remember I know about the razor and Aunt Betsy's company soap."

“I won't then, little hateful."

I knew he liked me, though he called me names sometimes, more appropriate than agreeable, and so I revealed all I had seen, and my own opinion and concluding resolution; when I looked up from running a pin through the hem of my apron, the big tears were rolling down his sunburnt cheeks.

“I so sorry, indeed I am, Uncle Ned: I didn't mean to be bad. Don't cry, please don't," and I was keeping him company, only his sobs were the deepest. He kissed me, and told me to tell nobody else what I had seen Maggie do, or Ned either, as long as I lived-but I could not wait all

my life.

“Did Maggie do wrong, Uncle Ned ?"

“No—that is, it might not have been very bad if it had beenbeen

“ You? Uncle Ned."

He kissed me again and made no answer, but the kindlings were forgotten, and he was sick, at least he was not like himself till my cousin Bessie came up from the city to spend August, and then he recuvered entirely Perhaps he feared a relapse, for he made her promise to come sometime and stay for ever, and she kept her promise. Then I told about the kindl

ings unsplit and the big tears, and Uncle Ned pinched me, and called me all the disagreeable names he could remember.

But to go back to Maggie Grey. Two summers and a winter she preSided over the village school, and then there was a wedding. A mean, skimpy affair it was too. There was plenty of people invited, and but a scant entertainment for them. Maggie's uncle considered it, the marriage ceremony, as solemn as a fast. Maggie did not want a wedding, but her aunt had the fear of what the neighbors would say before her ugly eyes, and therefore everybody was invited,

Her uncle told his guests: “As how you all know I must have gin Maggie considerable from time to time beside yittals and drink, considerin' she's my wife's relation, and I don't feel beholden to gin her nothin' for a settin' out, as if she'd been my gal and industrious like."

Dr. Alton turned a little pale, and replied that he did not wish any thing from them. They had permitted her to live, and that was more than could be expected, "considerin'."

The old man said, “ he was a sensibler young man than he took him to be,” and so off went Maggie glad enough to feel she had another, better friend. We all cried, as a matter of course; school children keep tears ready for any emergency, and we were like all the rest.

Dr. Alton grew to be a great and rich man and needed nothing; but because he had an abundance, the miserly uncle remembered Maggie in his will, even as he did his own children, making trae the saying of our Elder Brother, “ To him that hath shall be given.”

I've taught Maggie's children since then, and remembered her considerate forbearance to my own mischievous propensities.

My next teacher was an old maid who must have a chapter by herself, as she would scorn a place with married people.—Nero York Teacher.

PENMANSHIP.-Indispensable in the attainment of knowledge suited to the wants of active business, is a good hand-writing; for it.is, in fact, what gives currency and real value to every other acquisition in business study. It is the great medium through which thoughts are intercharged, through which commerce speaks, science perpetuates the results of its researches, and the record of a world's progress is rendered permanent. It needs no encomiums-no labored efforts in proof of its utility. Society owes its present condition of social refinement to its influence; and our country waits, in a measure, for its universal diffusion, to achieve it greatest results in the field of commercial activity.

« PreviousContinue »