“Well, I guess we’ve seen everything there is to see,” remarked Nate, who had now told all he knew and was ready to go.
While they still wandered about, talking of “tailings” and “nuggets,” they were startled by the peal of a bell.
“Twelve o’clock! Two minutes ahead of time though,” said Nate, taking from his pocket a handsome gold watch which Jimmy had always admired.
“What bell is that? Where is it?” they all asked. “And what is it ringing for?”
“It’s on top of the schoolhouse and it’s ringing for noon. ’Twill ring again in the evening at nine o’clock. But I can tell ’em they ought to set it back two minutes.”
“A nine o’clock bell? Why, that’s a curfew bell! How romantic!” cried Kyzie. She had read of “the mellow lin-lan-lone of evening bells,” but had never heard it. “Let’s go to the schoolhouse.”
As luncheon at the Templeton House would not be served for an hour yet, they kept on to the hollow where the schoolhouse stood. It was a small, unpainted building in the shade of three pine trees.
“Just wait a minute right here,” said Edith, the young artist, unstrapping her kodak. “I want a snap-shot at it. Stand there by that tree, Jimmum. Put your foot out just so. I wish you were barefooted!”
Just then, as if they had overheard the wish, two little boys came running down the hill, and one of them was barefooted. Moreover, when Kyzie asked if they would stand for a picture, they consented at once.
“My name’s Joseph Rolfe,” said the elder, twitching off his hat, “and his name,”—pointing to his companion with a chuckle,—“his name is Chicken Little.”
“No such a thing! Now you quit!” retorted the younger lad in a choked voice, digging his toes into the dirt, “quit a-plaguing me! My name’s Henry Small and you know it!”
While Edith was busy taking their photographs, Kyzie thanked the urchins very pleasantly. They both gazed at her with admiration.
“See here,” said Joe Rolfe, twitching off his hat again very respectfully, “Are you going to keep school in the schoolhouse? I wish you would!”
At this remarkable speech Jimmy and Edith fell to laughing; but Kyzie only blushed a little, and smiled. How very grown-up she must seem to Joe if he could think of her as a teacher! She was now a tall girl of fourteen, with a fine strong face and an earnest manner. She was beginning to tire of being classed among little girls, and it was delightful to find herself looked upon for the first time in her life as a young lady. But she only said:—
“Oh, no, Joe, people don’t teach school in summer! Summer is vacation.”
“Well, but they do sometimes,” persisted Joe; “there was a girl kep’ this school last summer. She called it ‘vacation school.’ But we didn’t like her; she licked like fury.”
“So she did,” echoed Chicken Little, “licked and pulled ears. Kep’ a stick on the desk.”