“Since I met Deacon Tower I’m sure it’s useful and necessary. He’s got to have some place for his enemies. If it were not for hell, the deacon would be miserable here and, maybe, happy hereafter.”
“It’s a great hope and comfort to him,” said the widow, smiling.
“Well, God save us all!” said Trove, who had now a liking for both the phrase and philosophy of Darrel. They had taken chairs at the table.
“Tom,” said he, “we’ll pause a moment, while you give us the fourth rule of syntax.”
“Correct,” said he, heartily, as the last word was spoken. “Now let us be happy.”
“Paul,” said the teacher, as he finished eating, “what is the greatest of all laws?”
“Thou shalt not lie,” said the boy, promptly.
“Correct,” said Trove; “and in the full knowledge of the law, I declare that no better blueberries and biscuit ever passed my lips.”
Supper over, Polly disappeared, and young Mr. Trove helped with the dishes. Soon Polly came back, glowing in her best gown and slippers.
“Why, of all things! What a foolish child!” said her mother. For answer Polly waltzed up and down the room, singing gayly.
She stopped before the glass and began to fuss with her ribbons. The teacher went to her side.
“May I have the honour, Miss Vaughn,” Said he, bowing politely. “Is that the way to do?”
“You might say, ‘Will you be my pardner,’” said she, mimicking the broad dialect of the region.
“I’ll sacrifice my dignity, but not my language,” said he. “Let us dance and be merry, for to-morrow we teach.”
“If you’ll watch my feet, you’ll see how I do it,” said she; and lifting her skirt above her dainty ankles, glided across the floor on tiptoe, as lightly as a fawn at play. But Sidney Trove was not a graceful creature. The muscles on his lithe form, developed in the school of work or in feats of strength at which he had met no equal, were untrained in all graceful trickery. He loved dancing and music and everything that increased the beauty and delight of life, but they filled him with a deep regret of his ignorance.
“Hard work,” said he, breathing heavily, “and I don’t believe I’m having as much fun as you are.”
The small company of spectators had been laughing with amusement.
“Reminds me of a story,” said the teacher. “’What are all the animals crying about?’ said one elephant to another. ’Why, don’t you know?—it’s about the reindeer,’ said the other elephant; ’he’s dead. Never saw anything so sad in my life. He skipped so, and made a noise like that, and then he died.’ The elephant jumped up and down, trying the light skip of the reindeer and gave a great roar for the bleat of the dying animal, ‘What,’ said the first elephant, ‘did he skip so, and cry that way?’ And he tried it. ‘No, not that way but this way,’ said the other; and he went through it again. By this time every animal in the show had begun to roar with laughter. ‘What on earth are you doing?’ said the rhinoceros. ‘It’s the way the reindeer died,’ said one of the elephants.