An’ he has did the same way at school purty much. It got so for a-while at one school thet not a child in school could be hired to put his hand in the wood-box, not knowin’ ef any piece o’ bark or old wood in it would turn out to be a young alligator or toad-frog thawin’ out. Teacher hisself picked up a chip, reckless, one day, an’ it hopped up, and knocked off his spectacles. Of cose it wasn’t no chip. Hopper-toad frogs an’ wood-bark chips, why, they favors consider’ble—lay ’em same side up.
It was on account o’ her takin’ a interest in all his little beasts an’ varmints thet he first took sech a notion to Miss Phoebe Kellog’s school. Where any other teacher would scold about sech things ez he’d fetch in, why, she’d encourage him to bring ’em to her; an’ she’d fix a place for ’em, an’ maybe git out some book tellin’ all about ’em, an’ showin’ pictures of ’em.
She’s had squir’l-books, an’ bird-books, an’ books on nearly every sort o’ wild critter you’d think too mean to put into a book, at that school, an’ give the child’en readin’-lessons on ’em an’ drawin’-lessons an’ clay-moldin’ lessons.
Why, Sonny has did his alligator so nach’l in clay thet you’d most expec’ to see it creep away. An’ you’d think mo’ of alligators forever afterward, too. An’ ez to readin’, he never did take no interest in learnin’ how to read out’n them school-readers, which he declares don’t no more’n git a person interested in one thing befo’ they start on another, an’ maybe start that in the middle.
The other teachers, they makes a heap o’ fun o’ Miss Phoebe’s way o’ school-teachin’, ’cause she lets the child’en ask all sorts of outlandish questions, an’ make pictures in school hours, an’ she don’t requi’ ’em to fold their arms in school, neither.
Maybe she is foolin’ their time away. I can’t say ez I exac’ly see how she’s a workin’ it to edjercate ’em that a-way. I had to set with my arms folded eight hours a day in school when I was a boy, to learn the little I know, an’ wife she got her edjercation the same way. An’ we went clean thoo f’om the a-b abs an’ e-b ebs clair to the end o’ the blue-back speller.
An’ we learned to purnounce a heap mo’ words than either one of us has ever needed to know, though there has been times, sech ez when my wife’s mother took the phthisic an’ I had the asthma, thet I was obligated to write to the doctor about it, thet I was thankful for my experience in the blue-back speller. Them was our brag-words, phthisic and asthma was. They’s a few other words I’ve always hoped to have a chance to spell in the reg’lar co’se of life, sech ez y-a-c-h-t, yacht, but I suppose, livin’ in a little inland town, which a yacht is a boat, a person couldn’t be expected to need sech a word—less’n he went travelin’.
I’ve often thought thet ef at the Jedgment the good Lord would only examine me an’ all them thet went to school in my day, in the old blue-back speller ‘stid o’ tacklin’ us on the weak pints of our pore mortal lives, why, we’d stand about ez good a chance o’ gettin’ to heaven ez anybody else. An’ maybe He will—who knows?