The young idea shoots.
There was a region south, on the State road, partly in the townships of Auburn and Mantua, that, like “the woods,” long remained a wilderness, and was known as the “Mantua Woods.” Within the last year or two, the whole of it had been sold and settled, with the average of new settlers, strong, plain, simple people, with a sprinkling of the rough, and a little element of the dangerous.
They had built there a neat frame school-house, just on the banks of Bridge Creek, and were fully bent on availing themselves of the benefits of the Ohio Common School Fund and laws.
Here, on one bleak, late November Monday morning, in front of the new school-house, stood Bart Ridgeley, who appeared then and there pursuant to a stipulation made with him, to keep their first school. He undertook it with great doubt of his ability to instruct the pupils, but with none of his capacity to manage them. He stood surrounded by some forty young specimens of both sexes and all ages—from rough, stalwart young men, bold and fearless in eye and bearing, down to urchins of five. One-half were girls, and among them several well-grown lasses, rustic and sweet.
There had also come up seven or eight of the principal patrons, to see the young school-master and learn of the prospects. They were evidently disappointed, and wondered what “Morey” could be thinking of to hire that pale, green boy, with his neat dress and gloves, to come down there. Grid Bingham or John Craft would throw him out of the window in a week. Finally, Jo Keys did not hesitate to recommend him to go home; while Canfield, who knew his brother Morris, thought he had better try the school.
Bart was surprised and indignant. He cut the matter very short.
“Gentlemen,” he said quietly, but most decidedly, “I came down here to keep your school, and I shall certainly do it,” with a little nod of his head to Keys. “I shall be glad to see you at almost any other time, but just now I am engaged.” The decided way in which he put an end to the interview was not without its effect.
He called the scholars in, and began. They brought every sort of reading-book, from the Bible, English Reader, American Preceptor, Columbian Orator, Third Part, etc., to a New England Primer. But beyond reading, and spelling, and writing, he had only arithmetic, grammar and geography. On the whole, he got off well, and before the end of the first week was on good terms, apparently, with his whole school, with one or two exceptions; and so on through the second, which closed on Friday, and Bart turned gladly and eagerly toward home, to his mother and brothers.
The close of that week had been a little under a cloud, which left just a nameless shadow over the commencement of the third, and Bart began it with an uneasy feeling.