C. W. G. (Cornelius Willet Gillam) Hyde.

The green valley school, a pedagogical story online

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shame !"

"Kindly read the title of the piece," said Stockley.
By this time the pupils were leaning almost out of
their seats in their eagerness to hear what was coming.
James drawled out the caption :


A second later the school was in a roar of laugh-
ter. "Success number three," was the teacher's mental
comment. He wanted James to realize that his lazi-
ness was unanimously regarded as ridiculous. He did
not wish James to feel, however, that his teacher was
deliberately holding him up as a laughing stock. Rais-
ing his hand as a signal for silence, he said, "Please
read the first sentence, James." Again James read :

"Most miserable, worthy of profound pity is such
a being."

No rapping on the desk or ringing of the desk bell
could have restrained the uproarious and continued
laughter that followed. As soon as he could be heard,
the teacher said to the school :

"Don't you pity poor James? He has nothing to

"Yes !" the pupils shouted.

"I don't think he will need your pity any longer,"
said Stockley, "for I believe he will find something
to do for the rest of the day; now let us resume our
regular work."

He at once directed Charlie Marfield to resume


the explanation of the problem in commission and re-
frained from looking directly at James. Out of one
corner of his eye, however, he saw James dive into his
desk for a grammar and begin to study in earnest. The
boy had been thoroly awakened for that day at least.
"Fourth and final success," silently said the teacher.

James studied faithfully all the afternoon and the
next forenoon (Wednesday). While the A class in
arithmetic was reciting on Wednesday afternoon,
James dropped into his old, lazy attitude his elbows
on his desk, his chin in his hands. Lizzie Dalny was
reciting :

"The present worth of an amount due at some fu-
ture time without interest is such a sum as "

"James Duke!"

The teacher used exactly the same tone as the
day before. Again all eyes were directed at James.

"Have you a Fourth Reader?"

James's only reply was to grab a book and begin
to study. The effect of this second lesson lasted two
days. A third allusion to the Fourth Reader com-
pleted the cure. Whenever he showed disinclination
to exertion on the playground, the boys would
shout: "James Duke, have you a Fourth Reader?"
James became a diligent student and made good
records in his studies.

"I would have caned the boy," said a fellow
teacher, to whom Stockley related the incident ;
"The mental whip you applied was far more severe
than the application of the birch."

Stockley had the satisfaction, however, of know-


ing that the whip he had used had accomplished
the desired result, and that instead of alienating the
good will of the boy, it had increased his respect
and friendship for his teacher.

The only member of the Green Valley school who
had failed to appreciate the humor of the James Duke
incident on that Tuesday afternoon was James Wakely.
His mind was so filled with the thought that only three
days thence he would be compelled by a written prom-
ise to enact what might prove the part of Second Mur-
derer in a real tragedy that he was in no mood for
merriment. Stockley noticed his gravity and attribut-
ed it to the inherent sullenness of his disposition.

That night Harry Dole occupied again his post of
observation in the Baldritt barn. A few minutes after
ten he again saw a boy approaching the school house.
He had no difficulty in recognizing him as one who
had placed some bulky object, whose character he
iould easily guess, under the building the night before.
He had no doubt as to the identity of this boy who fur-
tively skulked along the street and across the play-
ground in the shadows, but he seriously doubted
whether his testimony upon the identity of the person
seen at night by a dim light would be conclusive in a
court of law. He had therefore determined that this
time he would keep his man in sight from the time he
left the school building until he should be able to see
his face in a strong light. To that end he had planned
to slide down a rope from the door in the loft, and at
that door he was keeping his vigil. The man under
surveillance appeared to be carrying several boards
or pieces of plank two or three feet in length. These


he pushed under the steps before crawling under, him-
self. His work took more time than the night before.
A little before twelve his head appeared at the opening
through which he had entered. Harry grasped his
rope. The body worked out into the open and stood
erect. After a cautious glance around it started down
the street. The watcher promptly slid down the rope
his side of the barn being in shadow and stealthily fol-
lowed without losing sight, for a single moment, of the
person he was after. From tree to tree and from
house to house he continued the pursuit until the person
ahead had reached the principal business block. Harry
then quickened his pace, walking upon the sidewalk
with no attempt at concealment. As Arthur came into
the brilliant light shining through the windows of Jake
Rice's saloon, a loud voice immediately behind him
called out, "Hello, Will !" The salutation was so
evidently addressed to him that he stopped and looked

"Oh !" said Harry, "it ain't Will Fulton after all ;
I see now ; it's Arthur Blazer. How's things up to the
quarry now days?"

"All right," growled Arthur.

"Don't ye most wish ye's back 'n school agin?"

"No, I don't"; and he shuffled along out of the

Harry was satisfied. He was now able to state posi-
tively that the person with whom he had talked was
the one who had come from under the schoolhouse;
that he had recognized him in a strong light as Arthur
Blazer ; and that when addressed by that name he had
not denied the identity. He determined to keep his


own counsel and to appear at the schoolhouse a little
before "lettin' out time" on Friday in season to prevent
James from lighting the fuse. He could, of course,
stop the progress of the mischief at any moment by
exposing the plot and putting the master on his guard,
but to do so would ruin the dramatic climax he had
planned and so deprive him of "a heap o' fun." He
had not yet decided whether he would swear out a
warrant for the boy's arrest. That would depend on


To behold the wandering moon
Riding near her highest noon

// Penseroso.

A se, non per scholam, eruditus

John S. Clarke

Lois Dix, teacher of the primary department in
the Green Valley school, lived with her widowed
mother in an attractive little cottage not far remote
from the business center of the village. Lois was
bright, vivacious, and twenty. Mrs. Dix was indus-
trious, clever, and fifty. Mother and daughter were
confidential friends, and Lois found in the elder woman
a sympathetic listener to her comments on society,
school, books, church, and life in general. Mrs. Dix
was not a gossip, and her daughter did not hesitate to
repeat to her many incidents of school life which it
would have been imprudent to speak of elsewhere.
By this means Mrs. Dix had not only become familiar
with Lois's experiences in her own department of the
school but had acquired a knowledge of much that
had occurred in the grammar school department. Her
predilection for the new principal, based on what Lois
had told her, had developed into a decidedly favorable
impression upon meeting and speaking with him.

Stockley had not made a formal call at the home
of his assistant, but he had sometimes stopped, when
passing the house, to exchange greetings with the two


ladies, whom he found, on such occasions, among the
flowers in the front yard or at their sewing on the
front porch.

"Mother," said Lois, one evening after tea, "I'm
going to run up to Lottie Wildon's; I won't be gone
more than an hour or two. Lottie wanted me to show
her about some embroidery for Christmas presents."

Mr. Wildon's house was on the hill, distant half a
mile or more, but the streets and byways of Green
Valley were regarded as safe at all hours of day and
night and Mrs. Dix made no objection to the evening
visit which her daughter proposed.

Lois started on her return home about nine o'clock.
She had passed a pleasant evening, and now, under
the inspiration of crisp, frosty air and brilliant moon-
light, her heart sang merrily and she hummed aloud
a song she had been teaching the school children that
day. She had noticed that a man was walking some
distance ahead of her and in the same direction. His
hands appeared to be clasped behind his back, his pace
was slow, and his bent head indicated a thoughtful
mood. At the sound of her humming he stopped and
faced partly about as if listening. He appeared to rec-
ognize Lois's voice, for after a moment's hesitation he
turned to meet her. His manner underwent a com-
plete change as he advanced. His pace was no longer
slow and the bright moonlight fell upon a face that
indicated a happy and animated rather than a con-
templative mood. Lois at once recognized the new
principal, and her step was not retarded in the slightest
degree as she advanced to meet him.

"Miss Dix !" exclaimed Stockley, "I recognized


your voice at once, but the time of night and your dis-
tance from home made me think for a moment that
I might be mistaken."

"O, I often run out alone, of an evening," was the
reply, "to call on a neighbor, and my calls are more
often made in the evening than in the daytime when
my time is so taken up with school duties."

"When I heard you singing," said Stockley, some-
what inconsequentially, "there came to mind the
words and music of a song I learned when I was a
boy," and he sang very softly :

Come, fairies, trip on the grass

With a ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!
And mock dull mortals as they pass

With a ho, ho, ho, ho, ho !
While the stars are shining bright,
We will sing by their sparkling light
With a ho, ho, ho !
With a ho, ho, ho!
With a ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!

"Why, Mr. Stockley, that song doesn't apply to
this case at all, pretty as it is ; I'm not a . ..."

"Yes, yes," interrupted the principal, "I know what
you want to say that you are 'not a fairy,' that you
were 'not tripping it but quietly walking,' that you
were 'on the sidewalk' instead of 'on the grass,' that
you 'had no idea of mocking' me 'or any other dull
mortal,' and that you were 'singing "Lightly row" ' and
not a ridiculous "ho, ho, ho" ' but that would rob the
incident of all its poetry and I don't want you to do

"Yes, Mr. Stockley, that is in substance what
I intended saying and I confess I can't see any poetry


in humming a school song as one walks along the
street on a bright night."

"And you are right. Moonlight and music are only
accessories ; they quicken the soul-sense and help one
to perceive the poetry that is in the life of the singer.
Do not think, Miss Dix, that I am becoming too per-
sonal. Everyone has something of poetry in his na-
ture. Carlyle says something like this in an essay on
Walter Scott. 'There is no life of man, faithfully re-
corded, but is a heroic poem of its sort, rhymed or un-
rhymed.' But we are drifting toward sentiment and
philosophy. To change the subject, I wish you would
walk with me a short distance out of your direct way,
so as to pass the schoolhouse. After that I will, with
your permission, see you home."

The two had been slowly walking during the fore-
going conversation. Lois willingly assented to the
proposed detour and they turned toward the scene
of their daily labors.

"You seemed very thoughtful when I discovered
you ahead of me," began Lois; "would it savor of
presumption or extravagance if I were to offer 'a
penny for your thoughts'?"

"Of presumption, certainly not; of extravagance,
possibly, though my thoughts were of considerable
value to myself as brain food and I am not without
hope that they will ultimately produce a modest store
of pennies for my purse. I was studying my geome-
try lesson."

"Your geometry lesson ! Where's your geometry ?"
bending forward to see if he carried a book. "How
could you study by moonlight, in the open air? Isn't


it ruinous to your eyes? Who's your tea , but

excuse me; I have no right to ask such questions; it
seemed so strange for one to study geometry by night,
in the street, with his hands behind him and his eyes
bent on the ground."

"Your questions are natural and allowable, Miss
Dix, and I am glad you asked them, for they give me
an opportunity, in answering them, to speak on a
subject which, otherwise, I would have found difficult
to introduce."

"What on earth does he mean?" thought Lois. A
vague feeling of disquiet for which she could not ac-
count possessed her for a moment, but it soon gave
way to an absorbing interest in the subject of which
Stockley spoke.

"I will first give a direct answer to each of your
questions," resumed the principal, "and then I want
to deliver a lecturette on what the answers suggest."

Miss Dix was still more mystified. What was a
lecturette? He seemed to attach an importance to
her idle questions far greater, it appeared to her, than
belonged to them. She made no reply but wondered
what was coming now.

"My geometry," said Stockley, "is in my room at
Mr. Dow's. I study it by moonlight, in the open air,
by repeating a demonstration and forcing myself to go
repeatedly over parts that are not clear, following a
logical sequence rather than the language of the text
book, constructing the required figure on the ground
with a stick or on any scrap of paper I may chance to
pick up or to have in my pocket constructing it, some-
times, in my mind without the aid of visible lines. Such


study does not tax the eyes like poring over a book
in order to commit its wording. I am my own teach-
er. There! your questions are answered. Let me re-
peat that in asking them you have committed no im-
pertinence, but have rather conferred a favor."

"Thank you very much for your explicit answers,"
said Lois, "but I didn't really intend to ask questions ;
I just wondered, and my wonder ran over in words as
a glass of soda water runs over in froth."

"I quite understand," said Stockley, "and I'm not
quite sure but it is taking an ungenerous advantage of
your ingenuous outburst to impose upon you an un-
solicited essay on self-instruction. I'm not going to
pretend, however, that what I have to say is not worth
while, for I believe it is; otherwise, it would be pre-
sumptuous to ask you to listen to it."

He paused as if casting about for some appropriate
way of beginning. The silence became a little em-
barrassing to his companion.

"Do tell me about it," she said, at last, "I am really
anxious to listen to your 'essay.' "

"You know Frank Courtney, do you not?" asked

"Very well."

"Did you know that he had left school?"


"Yes, he left yesterday. It seems that his father
needs his help in the shop, and it is probable that he
has reached the end of his school life. After he had
gathered up his books at the close of school yesterday,
he came to my desk to bid me good bye. He said he
had hoped to get at least a high school education, but


that he must now give up the idea of becoming any
more of a scholar than he now is. I was sorry to hear
him say this, for Frank was one of the most promising
boys in my room. He is making the mistake that thou-
sands of capable boys and girls are making that in
order to become a scholar it is necessary to go to

"Do you mean that schools are of no use? If that
is what you mean, is not your present practice incon-
sistent with your theory?"

"No, il do not mean that. As society is constituted,
primary schools are a necessity; they supply children
with the instruments (reading, writing, and the rudi-
ments of fundamental studies) which they need for ac-
quiring scholarship. Technical schools are also es-
sential to the best results not so much for the work
of the professors as for the facilities they afford for
the orderly use of libraries, laboratories, machinery,
and apparatus, which the single student could not af-
ford. Between the primary and the technical school
there is a vast field the high school and college field
for the exercise of individual effort, a field in which
the opportunities are illimitable and the possibilities
without measure. What I mean to say is that, in the
line of high school and college studies, an ambitious
student may attain high, broad, accurate scholarship
when circumstances deny him the advantages of the
schools. I do not undervalue the laboratory in the
study of physics and chemistry, of the living model
for pronunciation in the languages, and of the museum
in natural history, but the thoroughly earnest student
will make opportunities to enjoy these aids on occa-


sion and will acquire more from them in an hour
than many a student in daily contact with them will
acquire in a month or even a year."

"Would you, then, advise boys and girls to study
by themselves instead of attending high school and col-

"Certainly not. If one 'has it in him' to be a scho-
lar, he will be one in or out of school. The benefits
that accrue from association with other students and
with scholarly men and women in and out of the class
room are many. I would advise any friend who is in
search of such education as the schools can give, to
seek it in the schools remembering that he must rely
mainly on himself even when in school for acquiring
it. No, I have in mind that large number of young
people who are lamenting the impossibility of getting
an education because circumstances forbid the con-
tinuance of their school life."

"You are, yourself, a self-taught man, are you not,
Mr. Stockley? Please excuse the seeming imperti-
nence of my question. I am only seeking further light.
Your 'essay' has aroused my very hearty interest."

"I'm glad you are interested; in fact, it is mainly
to awaken your sympathy that I am expressing my
views to you. Yes, so far as I am educated at all, I
am, in the main, self-taught. I won't undertake to
enumerate the subjects I have mastered (that sounds
like a boast but it isn't), but the one in which you
surprised me is geometry. I find it very difficult. I
am often compelled to read a demonstration through
several times in order to follow the reasoning, but the
lidit comes at last, and I then set myself the task of


threading my way through the proposition with dif-
ferent letters to designate the lines and angles. I am
very exacting with myself, and what delight there is
finally in patting myself on the back and saying, 'Well
done, my boy!' Right here is one superiority of this
over the class room method: I am not doing a task
that has been set me by a master ; my recitation is not,
like the Israelites' tale of bricks, a burden to bear
and then get rid of. It is hard but it is self-imposed
and the keen pleasure of discovering some (to me)
new geometrical truth more than compensates me for
the effort involved."

"I have never studied geometry or even algebra,"
said Lois ; "what principle of geometry were you dis-
covering on the ground when I overtook you ?"

"It was this: that in any right triangle, the sum
of the squares constructed on the base and the per-
pendicular is equivalent to a square constructed on the

"That is all Greek to me ; I wish I could understand

"Why, look at this," said the principal, holding up
a crumpled piece of paper, with some geometrical fig-
ures drawn on it in pencil. "Here is the triangle
A B C and here are the three squares, scratched off
on a bit of paper I picked up far out on the prairie.
But if you have never studied geometry you would
hardly understand the demonstration. The truth ex-
pressed in this theorem is said to have been discovered
about twenty-five centuries ago by Pythagoras. The
discovery so delighted him that he sacrificed a heca-
tomb to show his gratitude to the gods. I'm not sure


but my own delight in thinking the thoughts of Py-
thagoras over after him was almost as great as his."

"Mr. Stockley," exclaimed Lois, you are inspiring
me with a desire to study geometry and I mean why !
who is that dodging around the corner of the school-

They had reached a point from which they could
see the front of the school building, upon which the
moon shone bright. As Miss Dix spoke, the figure
of a boy slunk furtively around the corner of the
schoolhouse and into the shadows out of sight.

"Wait right here," said Stockley; "I'll be back in
less than a minute."

He rapidly crossed the street in the direction taken
by the retreating figure.

Within the time he had mentioned, he was again
by Miss Dix's side and their walk was resumed.

"I found nothing wrong with the building," he
said, "it was probably some chance prowler peering
into the windows out of sheer curiosity ; and yet," he
added thoughtfully, "I can't help associating what we
have just seen with what I saw or fancied I saw when
I passed the building less than an hour ago. It was
a man or a boy or the shadow of a cloud, and that is
why I asked you to return with me by this circuitous
route. If it had been a person intending any harm to
the building, the harm would have been done by this

The conversation turned to indifferent subjects and
the young people were soon at Mrs. Dix's gate.

"And now," said Lois, "I suppose you will resume
the study of Pythagoras."


"Or, rather, of Euclid," was the reply. Euclid
united in a single book the geometrical discoveries of
Pythagoras and others. It was the famous 'forty-
seventh problem of Euclid' with which I was strug-
gling when you so pleasantly surprised me. Let me
assure you that, thanks to your company and sympa-
thy, I have found Euclid by moonlight more than usu-
ally fascinating this evening. But I particularly con-
gratulate myself on the opportunity you have afforded
me of giving, in a very brief and imperfect way, some
thoughts on self -culture which may possibly be worth
thinking about. I know you will not misunderstand
me. I do not assume that you are uncultured, neither
do I presume to constitute myself .your mentor. I
mean just this and nothing more: that two congenial
persons of intelligence who are ambitious of self-im-
provement can benefit each other immeasurably by ex-
changing views. I mustn't keep you out any longer
good night."

"Why, Lois," called Mrs. Dix from her room as
her daughter quietly entered the house, "what kept you
out so late?"

Lois was annoyed at a feeling of warmth which
suffused her face in the darkness as she answered, "I
met Mr. Stockley and we walked home past the school-

Her mother did not pursue her inquiry.

When Stockley reached his room, he lighted a lamp
and seated himself to review the Pythagorean propo-
sition before retiring. Taking from his vest pocket
the scrap on which he had drawn the figures, he set
himself about its study. A puzzled expression came


into his face. He bent forward and scanned the pa-
per a full minute. Then he leaned back and thought.
Half an hour later the troubled look gave place to a
smile. He had apparently reached a satisfactory solu-


Back to thy punishment,
False fugitive, and to thy speed add wings.


Mrs. Dow's scheme for subjecting Stockley to her
control and that of her husband had completely failed.
She had tried to patronize him at home and in society
and while he had not administered any marked re-
buff, she recognized in his dignified but courteous
manner a self-determining spirit which would not
yield to her social leadership. She had tacitly assigned
to him a position in her train at choir rehearsals,
church sociables, and other gatherings, but he had
declined the honor with a bonhomie in which there
was just a trace of hauteur. One of the prominent
traits in Mrs. Dow's character was persistence.
When she set about the accomplishment of a given
purpose, her tenacity did not weaken under discour-
agements. Many ordinary women possess this trait.
But Mrs. Dow was not an ordinary woman. Had

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Online LibraryC. W. G. (Cornelius Willet Gillam) HydeThe green valley school, a pedagogical story → online text (page 10 of 12)