THE ARRIVAL OF MISS SPENCER
There was a considerable period when events of importance in Glencaid’s history were viewed against the background of the opening of its first school. This was not entirely on account of the deep interest manifested in the cause of higher education by the residents, but owing rather to the personality of the pioneer school-teacher, and the deep, abiding impress which she made upon the community.
Miss Phoebe Spencer came direct to Glencaid from the far East, her starting-point some little junction place back in Vermont, although she proudly named Boston as her home, having once visited in that metropolis for three delicious weeks. She was of an ardent, impressionable nature. Her mind was nurtured upon Eastern conceptions of our common country, her imagination aglow with weird tales of the frontier, and her bright eyes perceived the vivid coloring of romance in each prosaic object west of the tawny Missouri. All appeared so different from that established life to which she had grown accustomed,—the people, the country, the picturesque language,—while her brain so teemed with lurid pictures of border experiences and heroes as to reveal romantic possibilities everywhere. The vast, mysterious West, with its seemingly boundless prairies, grand, solemn mountains, and frankly spoken men peculiarly attired and everywhere bearing the inevitable “gun,” was to her a newly discovered world. She could scarcely comprehend its reality. As the apparently illimitable plains, barren, desolate, awe-inspiring, rolled away behind, mile after mile, like a vast sea, and left a measureless expanse of grim desert between her and the old life, her unfettered imagination seemed to expand with the fathomless blue of the Western sky. As her eager eyes traced the serrated peaks of a snow-clad mountain range, her heart throbbed with anticipation of wonders yet to come. Homesickness was a thing undreamed of; her active brain responded to each new impression.
She sat comfortably ensconced in the back seat of the old, battered red coach, surrounded by cushions for protection from continual jouncing, as the Jehu in charge urged his restive mules down the desolate valley of the Bear Water. Her cheeks were flushed, her wide-open eyes filled with questioning, her pale fluffy hair frolicking with the breeze, as pretty a picture of young womanhood as any one could wish to see. Nor was she unaware of this fact. During the final stage other long journey she had found two congenial souls, sufficiently picturesque to harmonize with her ideas of wild Western romance.