But just the same it had gone rather well with the teaching; for Sexton Blackie was a man who could command respect in all weathers. Still it must have been a relief to him to be allowed to work in a room that was to be used only for school purposes; where the walls were not lined with cubby-beds and shelves filled with pots and pans and tools; where there was no obstructing loom in front of the window to shut out the daylight, and where women neighbours could not drop in for a friendly chat over the coffee cups during school hours.
Here the walls were hung with illustrations of Bible stories, with animal pictures and portraits of Swedish kings. Here the children had little desks with low benches, and did not have to sit perched up round a high table, where their noses were hardly on a level with the edge. And here Sexton Blackie had a desk all to himself, with spacious drawers and compartments for his record-books and papers. Now he looked rather more impressive during school hours than in former days, when he had often heard lessons while seated upon the edge of a hearth, with a roaring fire at his back and the children huddled on the floor in front of him. Here he had a fixed place for the blackboard and hooks for maps and charts, so that he did not have to stand them up against doors and sofa backs. He knew, too, where he had his goose quills and could teach the children how to make strokes and curves, so that each one of them would some day be as fine a penman as himself. It was even possible to train the children to rise in a body and march out in line, like soldiers. Indeed, no end of improvements could be introduced now that the schoolhouse was finished.
Glad as was every one of the new school, the parents did not feel altogether at ease in the presence of their children, after they had begun to go there. It was as if the youngsters had come into something new and fine from which their elders were excluded. Of course it was wrong of the parents to think this, when they should have been pleased that the children were granted so many advantages which they themselves had been denied.
The day Jan of Ruffluck visited the school, he and his little Glory Goldie walked hand in hand, as usual, all the way, like good friends and comrades; but as soon as they came in sight of the schoolhouse and Glory Goldie saw the children assembled outside, she dropped her father’s hand and crossed to the other side of the road. Then, in a moment, she ran off and joined a group of children.
During the examination Jan sat near the teacher’s lectern, up among the School Commissioners and other fine folk. He had to sit there; otherwise he could not have seen anything of Glory Goldie but the back of her neck, as she sat in the front row, to the right of the lectern, where the smaller children were placed. In the old days Jan would never have gone so far forward; but one who was father to a little girl like Glory Goldie did not have to regard himself