I have my memory-pictures, too; and from the fairest frame of all shines Patsy’s radiant face as it looked into mine long ago when I told him the story of Victor.
A LITTLE “HOODLUM’S” VIRTUE KINDLES AT THE TOUCH OF JOY.
“If you make children
happy now, you will make them happy twenty
years hence by the memory of it.”
The next morning when I reached the little tin shop on the corner,—a blessed trysting-place, forever sacred, where the children waited for me in sunshine, rain, wind, and storm, unless forbidden,—there on the step sat faithful Patsy, with a clean and shining morning face, all glowing with anticipation. How well I remember my poor lad’s first day! Where should I seat him? There was an empty space beside little Mike Higgins, but Mike’s character, obtained from a fond and candid parent, had been to the effect “that he was in heaven any time if he could jest lay a boy out flat”! And there was a place by Moses, but he was very much of a fop just then, owing to a new “second-hand” coat, and might make scathing allusions to Patsy’s abbreviated swallow-tail.
But a pull at my skirt and a whisper from the boy decided me.
“Please can’t I set aside o’ you, Miss Kate?”
“But, Patsy, the fun of it is I never do sit.”
“Why, I thought teachers never done nothin’ but set!”
“You don’t know much about little boys and girls, that’s sure! Well, suppose you put your chair in front and close to me. Here is Maggie Bruce on one side. She is a real little Kindergarten mother, and will show you just how to do everything. Won’t you, Maggie?”
We had our morning hymn and our familiar talk, in which we always “outlined the policy” of the new day; for the children were apt to be angelic and receptive at nine o’clock in the morning, the unwillingness of the spirit and weakness of the flesh seldom overtaking them till an hour or so later. It chanced to be a beautiful day, for Helen and I were both happy and well, our volunteer helpers were daily growing more zealous and efficient, and there was no tragedy in the immediate foreground.
In one of the morning songs, when Paulina went into the circle and threw good-morning kisses to the rest, she wafted a dozen of them to the ceiling, a proceeding I could not understand.
“Why did you throw so many of your kisses up in the air, dear?” I asked, as she ran back to my side.
“Them was good-mornings to Johnny Cass, so ’t he wouldn’t feel lonesome,” she explained; and the tender bit of remembrance was followed out by the children for days afterward. Was it not enough to put us in a gentle humor?
Patsy was not equal to the marching when, later on, the Lilliputian army formed itself in line and kept step to the music of a lively tune, and he was far too shy on the first day to join in the play, though he watched the game of the Butterfly with intense interest from his nook by the piano.