A Day at School
It was with a most unwilling mind and an unhappy heart that Mary began her third week at school. In the ﬁrst place she could not bear to tear herself away from all that was going on at the new house. She wanted to have a hand in the delights of home-making. She wanted to poke the camp-ﬁre, and dabble in the paste, and watch the walls grow fresh and clean as the paper spread over the old patches. The smell of the fresh paint drew her, and gave her a feeling that there were all sorts of delightful possibilities in this region, yet unexplored.
In the second place, life in the new school was a grievous burden, because the boys, seeing how easily she was teased, found their chief pleasure in annoying her. She was a trusting little soul, ready to nibble the bait that any trap offered. “Never mind! You’ll get used to it after awhile,” her mother said, consolingly, each evening when she came home with a list of fresh woes. “You’re tired now from that long walk home. Things will seem better after supper.” And Joyce would add, “Don’t look so doleful, Mother Bunch; just remember the vicar, and keep inﬂexible. Fortune is bound to change in your favour after awhile.” But the third Friday found her as unhappy as the third Monday.
There were two rooms in the school building, one containing all the primary classes, the other the grammar grades, where Holland found a place. Mary had one of the back seats in the primary department, and one of the highest hooks in the cloak-room, on which to hang her belongings. But this Friday morning she did not leave her lunch-basket in either place.
She and Patty Ritter, the little girl who sat across the aisle from her, had had an indignation-meeting the day before, and agreed to hide their baskets in a hedgerow, so that there could be no possibility of Wig Smith’s ﬁnding them. Salt on one’s jelly cake and pepper in one’s apple-pie two days in succession is a little too much to be borne calmly. Wig Smith’s fondness for seasoning other people’s lunches was only one of his many obnoxious traits.
“There,” said Mary, scanning the horizon anxiously, to see that no prowling boy was in sight. “Nobody would think of looking behind that prickly cactus for a lunch-basket! We’re sure of not going hungry to-day!”
With their arms around each other, they strolled back to the schoolhouse, taking a Roundabout way, with great cunning, to throw Wig Smith off the track, in case he should be watching. But their precautions were needless this time. Wig had set up a dentist’s establishment on the steps of the stile, his stock in trade being a pocket-knife and a hat full of raw turnips. Nothing could have been friendlier than the way he greeted Mary and Patty, insisting that they each needed a set of false teeth.
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