« ZurückWeiter »
place to which he would never dare return. In Uturoa he heard a story that did not lessen his terror: a fisherman of Tevaitoa had gone alone in his canoe to the reef, and no man had seen him since. There had been lights on the reef that night, other fishermen, doubtless, from farther up the coast, but no trace of this man or his canoe remained. So Teriiaro was not sorry when the schooner for Tahiti came; he neither slept nor ceased to glance behind him until he landed on the Papeete beach.'
Old Jackson peered at me as he finished his improbable tale. The moon was up, and in its clear light I could
see the wrinkles about his eyes and the gleam of white eyebrows and moustache. His pipe had burned out; I watched him fumble for a moment before he took it from his mouth with an air of sudden resolution. Without a word, he filled it from an enormous rubber pouch and replaced it hastily between his teeth. When the tobacco was burning, he spoke again.
'You know what a row this collector made,' he said; 'the boy was so badly scared that I advanced the money myself to avoid a fuss. Teriiaro is a first-rate hand on a schooner, but he's not keen on making this Raiatea tripwatch him to-morrow, and you'll see that he won't set foot ashore.'
BY LEONORA PEASE
'Is teacher gone by de school?' asked Carmilla anxiously of the big boy sweeping the steps that led up from the cement walk, where Carmilla stood, to the level of the sunny oblongs of windows in the old-fashioned house of the three Miss Shannons.
The big boy stopped sweeping. 'Is de green teacher gone?' pursued Carmilla, referring to Miss Shannon of the green gown.
'Dunno,' he answered, looking down on Carmilla reflectively. "The brown teacher's went.'
'Is de blue one?'
'Yep, she's went, too.'
opposite, Marian had just flung impatiently behind her, 'Hurry up, mamma, and comb my hair- there's the blue Miss Shannon going.'
At a quarter to eight, five mornings out of the week, the brown Miss Shannon walked west up the square to the Avenue, where the car ran north; at eight o'clock, the blue Miss Shannon walked west up the square to the Avenue and the car going south; and at eightfifteen, the green Miss Shannon walked east past the end of the square to the schoolhouse.
Carmilla herself lived east, over the other side of the school and the car
Across the square, from the windows tracks, on which the cars went clanging
VOL. 128-NO. 2
and banging and whizzing under the school's east windows, and from which most of the teachers alighted mornings. From this squatty and grimy locality Carmilla escaped, across the strip of asphalt drive, to the cement walk and the steps down which the green Miss Shannon was awaited, to the brilliant plot of grass and new-blown elms of the square, to the red and yellow tulips set out in their bed to welcome the spring. If some whimsical gardener had set Carmilla, in slim green dress and round red-and-yellow hat, down among them, she would have made a flaunting little human tulip. Instead, in her little faded cotton slip, with mop of dark hair over forehead and neck, black eyes big and sad, Carmilla was an appealing small waif of a child as she waited there by the flower-bed for her teacher.
Theresa Steffanelli, now breathlessly accosting the big boy, 'Is teacher gone by de school?' was in better harmony with the color-scheme. Her bright-blue sweater over a scarlet skirt, plump pink cheeks under an outstanding crop of dark hair tied with a flaring bow of red ribbon, made a brilliant splotch against the gray of the walk. The splotch became a streak as Dominic appeared panting behind Theresa, in his green sweater banded with red; and Jassamine, following, contributed the yellow of her long, overhanging sweater. A little farther along the walk, Angelo, in startling new green pants (fastened with some uncertainty by safety-pins to his shirt), bore down upon the common goal, and Mary formed a drab tail in her washed-out print gown. As she perched herself on the green Miss Shannon's lowest step, Mary explained demurely, 'I dot a sweat-uh, but I not dot it on now.' Marian, flying from across the square, in white apron, her bright fluffy curls contrasting with Jassamine's black tresses slicked back from the parting to the two buttons of coiled pigtails,
came in time for the flutter and swirl in the bevy of children, which announced the green Miss Shannon descending the steps.
At the moment, in her green dress, fair hair coiled high on her head, and smiling face, the green Miss Shannon might have been mistaken for spring. The old-fashioned houses of the oldfashioned square were so near the school that she had no more need of a hat this morning than had the Italian women of the neighborhood, or Theresa, Carmilla, and Jassamine. Like a breeze of spring, she blew the bambinos before her with a 'Now see who can get to the corner first.'
Another bit of brightness came up with the green Miss Shannon from the rear and caught step- 'de teacher by Room 15,' whose house was around the corner of the square. Snappy black eyes and satiny black hair in buns over her ears, thin beau-catcher curl glued in the middle of her forehead, wellpowdered nose, modish one-piece blue taffeta gown above her trim, pointed French-heeled boots, the young Miss O'Callahan seemed to be protesting, "Teachers are not going to be frumps any longer.' Miss O'Callahan was on her second-year salary, but she lived at home, and managed by charge accounts to keep her clothes paid for, and to squeeze out five dollars for her Grade Teachers' Association-more than some did. She was an intelligent young woman, and twice as good a teacher as she looked.
Walking over from the car on the Avenue, and nearing them from behind, were Miss Fletcher, tall and fair, grammar grade, Miss Marie DeMar, stout and dark, primary, both inconspicuously and economically dressed, and Miss Jarvis, domestic science, well attired. Miss Jarvis was a 'special,' and on higher salary. Teachers of domestic science had originally put in more time
at Normal School, but now went through in the same time as the elementary teachers, and their superior rank had begun to grind on the elementaries. The elementaries had subsisted on meagre pay until the war, when their unexpected exodus from the classroom brought an alarmed and speedy but cautious increase in their salaries, with more generous raises for the higher-paid groups. It seemed an established idea that they should be the lowest paid in the service.
'But if the manual-training men get more pay, why should n't the domesticscience women?' an apologist might begin.
'Yes, of course, and the singing, and all the other specials - What I want to know is, what is the matter with the grade teachers? Who works harder than we do?' an elementary would muster spunk to ask; a query that could not get itself answered, and the thing went on grinding.
'My kid sister,' Miss O'Callahan was saying, on their walk through the morning sunshine to the schoolhouse, 'says she'll never be a teacher not on your life. My father wants her to go to Normal, but she says she's going to business college.'
'Just what my niece declares,' joined in Miss Fletcher. 'She thinks it's enough to look at me.'
'I wish I could do anything else,' the green Miss Shannon threw in wistfully, 'but teach school.'
The remark would not have been noticed from another speaker; but the green Miss Shannon, she of the smiling eyes and cheering word, never ailing or complaining or indignant or critical, - from the reformer's point of view the most dangerous of optimists!
'You too?' the stout, dark teacher said. She was herself not unaware of the irony of things, but temperamentally humorous and profoundly patient.
'Say, if anything should separate you two from the service,' Miss O'Callahan protested, 'what's to become of me, and Miss Polonski, and the rest of us sweet young things? We think we know the game when we come out of Normal, but we can't stand long before our classes without running to you to ask what's the next move.'
'So I've observed,' Miss Fletcher rejoined, as they went in at the teachers' entrance, and on to the office key-board to take down their keys.
Speeding down the hall with her bright troop, the green Miss Shannon espied the diminutive Salvadore Delmonico, contrary to rules, waiting at the door of Room 16. His small body was agitated by an emotion beyond his present expression in English, as he poured out, 'Teacher de big boy come teacher, de big boy he go by de desk-de big boy he swipe all de marbles on you - he runs away runs down dat way
The marbles! That treasured collection, held in trust. For every marble that went thump, thump, thump on the floor in school-time, custody in that safe repository, the right-hand drawer of teacher's desk; but at the end of the term, restoration. Now many pairs of big dark eyes of rightful owners will watch the progress of recapture. And the nine cents, ah, the nine cents of Theresa, entrusted to teacher's care yesterday and forgotten - what of that? And the soul of the big boy should it not be rescued from such a pitfall?
'Down dat way,' into the boys' basement, in pursuit, hurries teacher; gets wind of one Pasquale Pappa, hales him into Room 16 ere the nine o'clock gong strikes. What of the marbles, Pasquale Pappa? What of the nine cents? Pasquale looks accusingly upon Salvadore.
"Yes, I was bring de waste-basket
last night by de sweepers. I see him,' pointing at Salvadore, 'swipe de marble out de teacher's desk, an' he give me one an' I drop it back. I tell him if he do dat, de teacher'll holler on him.'
'I wants my mudder,' screams Salvadore, 'my mudder, my mudder, my mudder!'
The game is up. But the marbles, But the marbles, who has the marbles? 'Rafael has de marble.' 'No, teacher, Salvadore give de marble.' 'Who else has the marbles?'
Here they stand in a row Michael, Tony, Joseph, Rafael, Dominic, Jaspar. "Teacher, Salvadore give de marble.' -'Where are they now?'- Lost, gamed, given, swiped - scattered. And the money, the nine cents?
'No, teacher, I did n't rob de moneys on youze. It's a sin to rob de moneys on de teacher.' His father Salvadore can deceive, his mother he can hoax, 'de teacher' he cannot. 'Where is the money?' It is at home hidden in 'my mudder's' sweater pocket. 'Go home and get it.' Emanuel, the largest boy in the grade, conducts him.
Two new dark little boys come in and present paper slips to teacher. Already she has fifty-three bambinos for the forty-eight seats. A fiction prevails in school-circles (obtained from averages) of forty-eight pupils to a room, and a pleasantry of forty-two to a room. But there are the elastic small chairs.
'What is your name? John Scully? That's an Irish name,' laughs the green Miss Shannon.
'Yes, yes,' says John; for only 'yes, yes' can he say.
'But you're not Irish,' the nice teacher jokes.
'Yes, yes.' 'You're Italian.'
'How do you spell it? Ah, "Sculle," reads the green Miss Shannon. 'Paul Brosseau. You're a little French boy, are n't you?"
'No, ma'am - Catholeek.' Max brings a note:
All of your children are hitting my Maxie on the way home. I want that stopped. I'll tell the principal. And they make noses on him. I want that stopped. Another thing, they always take his things, and I want that stopped. Your loving
The Italian parents cannot write notes, not so much as excuses for tardiness. The laggards are many. They must be punished; they must learn the sorry fate of the sluggard; they shall not sing with the others; they shall sit in a row on low chairs back of the teacher till the singing is over. "They sing at me,' the culprits complain, and weep. They sing at them, 'A birdie with a yellow bill,' and point and shake their forefingers. 'Ain't you 'shamed, you sleepy head?' They sing at them, "Tick-tock, tick-tock, clocks are saying,' and at 'Then comes school and -don't-be-late,' 'Dey shakes deir fingers on me,' Anthony says, and weeps more.'
Will he be sitting on this little mourning bench to-morrow? No, he will come early, and stand up by his seat and sing and point and shake his finger at the woeful mites who will be sitting as now he is sitting. The joy of singing shall be his, and the fun of being a make-believe car of the six make-believe trains in the room, seven cars long, and the first child is an engine. Arms touching shoulders in front, imitative feet shuffling, left hand for a whistle, right hand rings the bell, off goes the train:
'Chu, chu, chu, chu, chu, chu, chu,
Blow the whistle, ring the bell,
Chu, chu, chu, chu, chu, chu, chu,
When I come to bridges,
Then I'm very-s-l-o-w.'
Now they are standing very straight, as the green Miss Shannon is standing, right-hand fingers outspread, three fingers stiff, two curved, left forefinger ready to be the captain:
'Five little soldiers standing in a row.
Three stood up straight and two — just so. Along came the captain, and, what do you think? Up they all jumped as quick as a wink.'
They hit the t's and the n and the k at the end of the words, as the green Miss Shannon shows them. If some do not, they sing it again. It is just as in the phonics lesson, which comes after the singing. The phonics lesson consists of making sounds, after the manner of beasts, birds, and insects which have preceded them up the scale of being, even as the green Miss Shannon makes sounds: sounds of the English tongue, associated with symbols of the English language. A disguised drill, vivified by the green Miss Shannon, carried along with enthusiasm - but interrupted.
Emanuel and Salvadore reappear. The morals lesson is allowed to fit the occasion. Nobody has yet instructed teacher to put the morals lesson at a certain time on the programme. Salvadore brings to teacher a bright new dime. No tears, no nine cents; only a bright new dime. Teacher looks upon the dime, upon Salvadore, upon Emanuel. Emanuel is Jewish, and does not know the Italian words Salvadore talked to his father. Is it that teacher has another time demanded the dime for the yarn used in the weaving of the doll rug, for the paste, for the crayons, what not? Salvadore shall have the dime for his teacher. Ah, that was teacher's slip. Now Peter shall take
back the new dime and make inquiries of the father, and Salvadore shall sit in Room 16 until Peter returns, and shall read his lesson.
Salvadore does not wish to read his draw, he does not love to read. He has lesson. He loves to sing, he loves to lost his book. Phena too has forgotten her book. Dominic has torn his. Jaspar has chewed the corners off his. Concetti's is very dirty. Carmilla's is a maze of loose pages, which she carefully keeps in order and reads like a public speaker turning the pages of his manuscript. Teacher has found another book for Salvadore to read from, and Phena may sit with Marian, whose book, carefully covered with brown cambric, is clean and untorn. Teacher looks with bright eyes on Marian, and speaks glad words of her book. But the rest may not 'make nice their books like teacher says.' They get them 'off my big brudder,' or 'by de principal,' and never were they as Marian's.
"Yiz can buy dem off de candy woman,' volunteers Theresa.
'Yiz! What should you say?' reminds teacher.
With a little toss of her head, 'Youze,' Theresa corrects herself. So continuously does teacher struggle to break the mould of environment.
Rosie finds the picture-lesson page for Salvadore the picture of many bugs. 'Who sees a new word? Salvadore?'"Teacher, I know-bug.' Last year teacher must not tell the new word; the new word was sacred to phonics. This year the principal says teacher must tell the new word. No, the word is not 'bug.' It is what bees. say. 'What are bees?'-'They are fairies,' says Phena, looking at the picture. They have wings. 'Who has been to the country?' Tony. Everybody points to Tony. "Tony wuz by de country.' But neither does Tony know bees from fairies.