“Put down that eraser!”
“Yes’m. I just thought—”
Sharply bidden to get forward with his task, he explained in a feeble voice that he had first to tie a shoe string and stooped to do so, but was not permitted. Miss Ridgely tried to stimulate him with hints and suggestion; found him, so far as decimals went, mere protoplasm, and, wondering how so helpless a thing could live, summoned to the board little Dora Yocum, the star of the class, whereupon Ramsey moved toward his seat.
“Stand still, Ramsey! You stay right where you are and try to learn something from the way Dora does it.”
The class giggled, and Ramsey stood, but learned nothing. His conspicuousness was unendurable, because all of his schoolmates naturally found more entertainment in watching him than in following the performance of the capable Dora. He put his hands in and out of his pockets; was bidden to hold them still, also not to shuffle his feet; and when in a false assumption of ease he would have scratched his head Miss Ridgely’s severity increased, so that he was compelled to give over the attempt.
Instructed to watch every figure chalked up by the mathematical wonder, his eyes, grown sodden, were unable to remove themselves from the part in her hair at the back of her head, where two little braids began their separate careers to end in a couple of blue-and-red checked bits of ribbon, one upon each of her thin shoulder blades. He was conscious that the part in Dora’s shining brown hair was odious, but he was unconscious of anything arithmetical. His sensations clogged his intellect; he suffered from unsought notoriety, and hated Dora Yocum; most of all he hated her busy little shoulder blades.
He had to be “kept in” after school; and when he was allowed to go home he averted his eyes as he went by the house where Dora lived. She was out in the yard, eating a doughnut, and he knew it; but he had passed the age when it is just as permissible to throw a rock at a girl as at a boy; and stifling his normal inclinations, he walked sturdily on, though he indulged himself so far as to engage in a murmured conversation with one of the familiar spirits dwelling somewhere within him. “Pfa!” said Ramsey to himself—or himself to Ramsey, since it is difficult to say which was which. “Pfa! Thinks she’s smart, don’t she?"... “Well, I guess she does, but she ain’t!” ... “I hate her, don’t you?"... “You bet your life I hate her!"... “Teacher’s Pet, that’s what I call her!"... “Well, that’s what I call her, too, don’t I?” “Well, I do; that’s all she is, anyway—dirty ole Teacher’s Pet!”