THE DISTRICT SCHOOL
The meeting held for the purpose of deciding that the town could or could not afford to furnish suitable accommodations for its pupils proved to be a most exciting affair.
Josiah Boyden filled with indignation that the matter should have been thought worthy of consideration after he had spoken so vehemently against it at Barnes’ store, sat pompous and important near the door, fully determined to crush any suggestion which might be offered.
Mr. Potts and Mr. Jenks early in the evening inquired the amount which the town had set aside for the school. Upon learning the sum, each at once agreed to contribute a quarter of the balance needed if others would make up the remaining half.
“I have two scholars for the school,” said Mr. Weston, “and if Mr. Potts, who intends to have a private tutor for his son, is willing to give a quarter of the sum needed, I’m sure I’ll do the same.”
“Three cheers for three quarters!” squeaked old Nate Burnham, from a seat in the corner, and in the midst of the din old Sandy McLeod arose and thumped his cane upon the floor for order.
“I’ll gie the remainin’ quarter, an’ add ten dollars to’t that my Margaret sent, sayin’ in her gentle way, ’It may gie some added comfort to the place wherever ‘tis chosen.’”
Wild applause greeted this characteristic speech. Sandy’s eyes twinkled as he sat down and he remarked to his next neighbor, “That mon Boyden has a scowl that wad sour meelk.”
After much discussion, it was decided that a large, vacant farm-house, centrally located, could be purchased and fitted for a schoolhouse at a less expense than the building of a new structure would incur, and in spite of Josiah Boyden’s fuming and Nate Burnham’s chuckling, in spite of much murmuring on the part of a few frugal minded farmers, the moneyed element carried the day, and under the twinkling stars the triumphant members of that assemblage took their homeward way, filled with the joy of victory.
The money pledged was as promptly paid, and work upon the building was commenced at once, and when September arrived it stood ready to receive the scholars, a better schoolhouse than the average country village could boast.
One of the first to inspect it was Mrs. Sophrony Hodgkins. It would have made her very unhappy to have had its good points described to her and have been unable to say,
“Oh, yes, I know, I saw it fust.”
Accordingly on the day that school was to open, she made an early start and before any pupils thought of arriving she had inspected every part of the building, decided that she approved of it in every particular, and had sallied forth to describe it to all her friends.
As she sped along the road, a brisk, bustling figure, the little squirrels raced along the wall, sure that she intended to capture them; but one less timid than his mates, sat upon his little haunches on an old stump, and chattered and scolded as she passed as if offended by the stir which she was making.