“‘Never saw anything so funny,’ said the rhinoceros; ’if the poor thing died that way, it’s a pity he couldn’t repeat the act.’
“‘This is terrible,’ said the zebra, straining at his halter. ’The reindeer is dead, and the elephants have gone crazy.’”
“Sidney Trove,” said the teacher, as he was walking away that evening, “you’ll have to look out for yourself. You’re a teacher and you ought to be a man—you must be a man or I’ll have nothing more to do with you.”
Amusement and Learning
There was much doing that winter in the Linley district. They were a month getting ready for the school “exhibition.” Every home in the valley and up Cedar Hill rang with loud declamations. The impassioned utterances of James Otis, Daniel Webster, and Patrick Henry were heard in house, and field, and stable. Every evening women were busy making costumes for a play, while the young rehearsed their parts. Polly Vaughn, editor of a paper to be read that evening, searched the countryside for literary talent. She found a young married woman, who had spent a year in the State Normal School, and who put her learning at the service of Polly, in a composition treating the subject of intemperance. Miss Betsey Leech sent in what she called “a piece” entitled “Home.” Polly, herself, wrote an editorial on “Our Teacher,” and there was hemming and hawing when she read it, declaring they all had learned much, even to love him. Her mother helped her with the alphabetical rhymes, each a couplet of sentimental history, as, for example:—
“A is for Alson, a jolly young man,
He’ll marry Miss Betsey, they say, if he can.”
They trimmed the little schoolhouse with evergreen and erected a small stage, where the teacher’s desk had been. Sheets were hung, for curtains, on a ten-foot rod.
A while after dark one could hear a sound of sleigh-bells in the distance. Away on drifted pike and crossroad the bells began to fling their music. It seemed to come in rippling streams of sound through the still air, each with its own voice. In half an hour countless echoes filled the space between them, and all were as one chorus, wherein, as it came near, one could distinguish song and laughter.
Young people from afar came in cutters and by the sleigh load; those who lived near, afoot with lanterns. They were a merry company, crowding the schoolhouse, laughing and whispering as they waited for the first exhibit. Trove called them to order and made a few remarks.
“Remember,” said he, “this is not our exhibition. It is only a sort of preparation for one we have planned. In about twenty years the Linley School is to give an exhibition worth seeing. It will be, I believe, an exhibition of happiness, ability, and success on the great stage of the world. Then I hope to have on the programme speeches in Congress, in the pulpit, and at the bar. You shall see in that play, if I mistake not, homes full of love and honour, men and women of fair fame. It may be you shall see, then, some whose names are known and honoured of all men.”