First day at school

School opens—James must go—The Elder Brother—What James knew —Light of Home—How to get James to School—Who was Mehetabel? —Carrying James to School on her Back—How this Family came in Woods of Ohio—Ancestors of James—Thomas and Abram Garfield—Widow Ballou—Abram and Eliza—Moving West—The Journey described—Abram going West—Meeting Eliza—Married —Bride taken to Log-Cabin—Description of Cabin—Buys Tract in Orange—Removes there in 1830—Description of the New Cabin —Abram Garfield described—“Fire in the Forest”—Sickness and Death in the Cabin—Funeral—Grave in the Wheat-field—Pleasing Incident—Winter of Desolation—Loneliness and Want

Arumour came to the log-cabin that a school would open soon at the village, one-and-a-half miles distant. It was only a rumour at first, but the rumour grew into fact in the course of a week.

“Jimmy must go, mother,” said Thomas, who was nearly thirteen years old, a boy of heroic spirit and true filial and fraternal devotion.

“Yes, Jimmy must go,” responded his mother, with such a smile as lights up the face of those mothers only who think what a treasure and joy there is in the little three-year-old; for Jimmy had not yet reached his fourth birthday. “I wish you could go, Tom, also,” she added.

“I wish I could, too,” thoughtful lad replied; “but the potatoes would hardly be dug, and the corn would hardly be harvested, nor the winter rye be put in, if I should go. The girls and Jimmy can go, and my work will get us food and clothes.” The last sentence was spoken with so much interest, as if the son and brother found his highest pleasure in being able to run the little farm alone, while his sisters and precious little brother could attend school together, that his good mother could scarcely suppress her honest pride over the unselfish and noble boy. Her maternal pride came very near making a demonstration and applying some pet names to Thomas, but her excellent judgment, which usually ruled, guided her into a wiser course, and she let the occasion pass with only a few well-chosen words approval.

“It is a good chance for Jimmy,” added Thomas, after a moment had passed, in which remark his mother saw the “heap” of love he had for his little brother; and every one else would see it now, too, could they understand the circumstances. More than one person had remarked that Thomas thought a “heap” of James.

It was a busy time in the cabin, preparing the children for school. The girls and Thomas went to school before the family removed to Orange, so that it was not a new thing to them. Besides, their mother had taught them much. She had made no special effort to teach James, except to tell him Bible stories, and answer his multitudinous questions in her instructive way. Still James knew nearly all his letters, and was better versed in Bible history than most children of his age at the present day. The stories of the Ark, Cain and Abel, Joseph, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Absalom, Daniel, the Bethlehem Babe, and many others, were familiar to him at that time. The little fellow possessed a remarkable memory, and he was bright and sunny, the light and joy of the log-cabin. It would not suffice to say that his mother thought that he was particularly a bright and talented boy; for mothers are quite apt to think very well of their offspring. But when we add that Thomas and his sisters, and the neighbours also, regarded James as a very precocious and promising lad, the reader may safely conclude that the hero of this volume was none of your simple-minded “children of the wood”—neither a juvenile drone nor ignoramus. He was just the little fellow to make music at home or in the school-house.

“Jimmy can’t walk half the way,” said Thomas; “he will be tired to death before he hardly gets out of sight of home.”

“I’ll see to that,” replied his sister, with an air of assurance that indicated her plans were all laid. “Jimmy won’t be tired.”

“What is going to prevent it?” inquired Thomas.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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