Glory Goldie went red as a beet and her eyes filled up. The teacher rapped on the floor with the end of his pointer and shouted “Silence!” Whereupon he said a few words to explain the matter.
“It was Father Glory Goldie wanted to say, of course, but said Jan instead because her own father’s name is Jan. We can’t wonder at the little girl, for I hardly know of another child in the school who has so kind a father as she has. I have seen him stand outside the schoolhouse in rain and bluster, waiting for her, and I’ve seen him come carrying her to school through blizzards, when the snow was knee-deep in the road. So who can wonder at her saying Jan when she must name the best she knows!”
The teacher patted the little girl on the head. The people all smiled, but at the same time they were touched.
Glory Goldie sat looking down, not knowing what she should do with herself; but Jan of Ruffluck felt as happy as a king, for it had suddenly become clear to him that the little girl had been his the whole time.
It was strange about the little girl of Ruffluck and her father! They seemed to be so entirely of one mind that they could read each other’s thoughts.
In Svartsjoe lived another schoolmaster, who was an old soldier. He taught in an out-of-the-way corner of the parish and had no regular schoolhouse, as had the sexton; but he was greatly beloved by all children. The youngsters themselves hardly knew they went to school to him, but thought they came together just to play.
The two schoolmasters were the best of friends. But sometimes the younger teacher would try to persuade the older one to keep abreast of the times, and wanted him to go in for phonetics and other innovations. The old soldier generally regarded such things with mild tolerance. Once, however, he lost his temper.
“Just because you’ve got a schoolhouse you think you know it all, Blackie!” he let fly. “But I’ll have you understand that my children know quite as much us yours, even if they do have only farmhouses to sit in.”
“Yes, I know,” returned the sexton, “and have never said anything to the contrary. I simply mean that if the children could learn a thing with less effort—”
“Well, what then?” bristled the old soldier.
The sexton knew from the old man’s tone that he had offended him, and tried to smooth over the breach.
“Anyhow you make it so easy for your pupils that they never complain about their lessons.”
“Maybe I make it too easy for them?” snapped the old man. “Maybe I don’t teach them anything?” he shouted, striking the table with his hand.
“What on earth has come over you, Tyberg?” said the sexton. “You seem to resent everything I say.”
“Well, you always come at me with so many allusions!”
Just then other people happened in, and soon all was smooth between the schoolmasters; when they parted company they were as good friends as ever. But when old man Tyberg was on his way home, the sexton’s remarks kept cropping up in his mind, and now he was even angrier than before.