The soldier was no longer angry with the sexton. Now that his children had shown that they knew their bits, the demon of mischief flew into him. At the start he put a few straight questions to the sexton’s pupils, but being unable to remain serious for long at a time he soon became as waggish as he usually was at his own school.
“Of course I know that you have read a deal more than have we who come from the backwoods,” said he. “You have studied natural science and much else, still I wonder if any of you can tell me what the stones in Motala Stream are?”
Not one of the sexton’s pupils raised a hand, but on the other side hand after hand shot up.
Yet, in the sexton’s division sat Olof Oleson—he who knew he had the best head in the parish, and Daer Nol, of good old peasant stock. But they could not answer. There was Karin Svens, the sprightly lass of a soldier’s daughter, who had not missed a day at school. She, with the others, wondered why the sexton had not told them what there was remarkable about the stones in Motala Stream.
Schoolmaster Tyberg stood looking very grave while Schoolmaster Blackie sat gazing at the floor, much perturbed.
“I don’t see but that we’ll have to let this question go to the opposition,” said the soldier-teacher. “Fancy, so many bright boys and girls not being able to answer an easy question like that!”
At the last moment Glory Goldie turned and looked back at her father, as was her habit when not knowing what else to do.
Jan was too far away to whisper the answer to her; but the instant the child caught her father’s eye she knew what she must say. Then, in her eagerness, she not only raised her hand, but stood up.
Her schoolmates ell turned to her, expectantly, and the sexton looked pleased because the question would not be taken away from his children.
“They are wet!” shouted Glory Goldie without waiting for the question to be put to her, for the time was up.
The next second the little girl feared she had said something very stupid and spoiled the thing for them all. She sank down on the bench and hid her face under the desk, so that no one should see her.
“Well answered, my girl!” said the soldier-teacher. “It’s lucky for you sexton pupils there was one among you could reply; for, with all your cock-sureness, you were about to lose the game.”
And such peals of laughter as went up from the children of both schools and from the grown folk as well, the two schoolmasters had never heard. Some of the youngsters had to stand up to have their laugh out, while others doubled in their seats, and shrieked. That put an end to all order.
“Now I think we’d better remove the benches and take a swing round the Christmas trees,” said old man Tyberg.
And never before had they had such fun in the schoolhouse, and never since, either.