“Naow I argy, that a leetle deestrict school wus good ‘nough fer me, an’ look at me!
“Own my farm free an’ clear, got a good lot er stock an’ tools on the place, an’ I’m wuth two thousand dollars in cash!”
The speaker was old Josiah Boyden, one of the “seelectmen,” and a member of the school committee. His greatest pride lay in the fact that he was a self-made man, and truly he looked as if constructed upon a home made pattern.
The group of farmers, obedient to his command, turned and looked at the speaker, while from behind the stove which, hot weather or cold, held the place of honor in the centre of the store, a shrill voice ventured to question the pompous owner of so great a property.
“Be ye goin’ ter say, Josiah, that every feller what’s edicated at a deestrict school can git ter own sech a fort’n as yourn?”
“Huh! Wal, no, not exactly,” was the admission, for while this good committee-man was fighting a suggestion which had been made relative to securing better quarters for the school which promised to be larger than on any previous year, he did not wish to diminish his own glory by inferring that any one, however bright, or ambitious, could possibly arrive at his eminence.
“I think, friends,” said Parson Spooner in his soft, pleasant voice, “that our scholars should be given every comfort and advantage which our village can possibly afford to grant.”
“That’s it, that’s it,” assented Josiah Boyden, “but the thing is, she can’t afford to offer nothin’ extry beyond just what’s set aside fer schools.”
Again the squeaky voice from behind the stove made itself heard. “That’s the time, Josiah, when the taown can’t afford it that cap’talists, such as you say you be, oughter step right inter the gap an’ help aout.”
“I’ve got a arrant daown ter the mill,” remarked the offended “seelectman,” “an’ I’m goin’ right along ter ’tend to it, but I’ll say in leavin’, thet I won’t waste my breath a talkin’ to a person with a mind so narrer as ter s’pose fer a moment that private puss-strings hangs aout fer every person who feels like it ter pull. I’m public sperited, every one knows that, but I don’t help support no institootion er larnin when I got the hull er my edication at a deestrict school,” and in intense disgust he left the store followed by an irritating chuckle which, although it came from behind the rusty old stove, reached the ears of Boyden as he stamped down the rickety steps of the store and stalked majestically across the square and up the road.
He was sure of a sympathetic listener at the mill, for it was a well worn saying in the village that the miller “agreed with everyone.”
The river which kept his mill running, wound its way through the next village, where another grist mill was humming, and Martin Meers was far too shrewd to permit himself to express a difference of opinion from that held by a good customer, who in his wrath might take his grist to the rival mill to be ground.