Our schoolmaster entered upon his second term with new courage and invigorated authority. Twice certified, who should dare doubt his competency? Even Joshua was civil, and lesser louts of course obsequious; though the girls took more ...
Our schoolmaster entered upon his second term with new courage and
invigorated authority. Twice certified, who should dare doubt his
competency? Even Joshua was civil, and lesser louts of course
obsequious; though the girls took more liberties, for they feel even
at that early age, that influence is stronger than strength.
Could a young schoolmaster think of feruling a girl with her hair in
ringlets and a gold ring on her finger? Impossible--and the immunity
extended to all the little sisters and cousins; and there were enough
large girls to protect all the feminine part of the school. With the
boys Master Horner still had many a battle, and whether with a view to
this, or as an economical ruse, he never wore his coat in school,
saying it was too warm. Perhaps it was an astute attention to the
prejudices of his employers, who love no man that does not earn his
living by the sweat of his brow. The shirt-sleeves gave the idea of a
manual-labor school in one sense at least. It was evident that the
master worked, and that afforded a probability that the scholars
Master Horner's success was most triumphant that winter. A year's
growth had improved his outward man exceedingly, filling out the limbs
so that they did not remind you so forcibly of a young colt's, and
supplying the cheeks with the flesh and blood so necessary where
mustaches were not worn. Experience had given him a degree of
confidence, and confidence gave him power. In short, people said the
master had waked up; and so he had. He actually set about reading for
improvement; and although at the end of the term he could not quite
make out from his historical studies which side Hannibal was on, yet
this is readily explained by the fact that he boarded round, and was
obliged to read generally by firelight, surrounded by ungoverned
After this, Master Horner made his own bargain. When schooltime came
round with the following autumn, and the teacher presented himself for
a third examination, such a test was pronounced no longer necessary;
and the district consented to engage him at the astounding rate of
sixteen dollars a month, with the understanding that he was to have a
fixed home, provided he was willing to allow a dollar a week for it.
Master Horner bethought him of the successive "killing-times," and
consequent doughnuts of the twenty families in which he had sojourned
The Best American Humorous Short Stories
the years before, and consented to the exaction.
Behold our friend now as high as district teacher can ever hope to
be--his scholarship established, his home stationary and not
revolving, and the good behavior of the community insured by the fact
that he, being of age, had now a farm to retire upon in case of any
Master Horner was at once the preëminent beau of the neighborhood,
spite of the prejudice against learning. He brushed his hair straight
up in front, and wore a sky-blue ribbon for a guard to his silver
watch, and walked as if the tall heels of his blunt boots were
egg-shells and not leather. Yet he was far from neglecting the duties
of his place. He was beau only on Sundays and holidays; very
schoolmaster the rest of the time.
It was at a "spelling-school" that Master Horner first met the
educated eyes of Miss Harriet Bangle, a young lady visiting the
Engleharts in our neighborhood. She was from one of the towns in
Western New York, and had brought with her a variety of city airs and
graces somewhat caricatured, set off with year-old French fashions
much travestied. Whether she had been sent out to the new country to
try, somewhat late, a rustic chance for an establishment, or whether
her company had been found rather trying at home, we cannot say. The
view which she was at some pains to make understood was, that her
friends had contrived this method of keeping her out of the way of a
desperate lover whose addresses were not acceptable to them.
If it should seem surprising that so high-bred a visitor should be
sojourning in the wild woods, it must be remembered that more than one
celebrated Englishman and not a few distinguished Americans have
farmer brothers in the western country, no whit less rustic in their
exterior and manner of life than the plainest of their neighbors. When
these are visited by their refined kinsfolk, we of the woods catch
glimpses of the gay world, or think we do.
That great medicine hath
With its tinct gilded--
many a vulgarism to the satisfaction of wiser heads than ours.
Miss Bangle's manner bespoke for her that high consideration which she
felt to be her due. Yet she condescended to be amused by the rustics
and their awkward attempts at gaiety and elegance; and, to...