Trials and Triumphs

A New School-house—The Plan Accomplished—Teacher from New Hampshire—His Appearance—“Boarding Round”—Making a General of James—What is a General?—The Revolution—His Great-grandfather in War—A Wonderful Revelation to Him—Relations between Teacher and James—The Strict Rule—Trying to Sit Still—A Failure—Mother’s Disappointment—The Teacher’s New Idea—The New Trial and Results—Interview with Mrs. Garfield—James Nervous and Restive—Kicking off the Clothes in Peace—Kicking off the Clothes in War—Best Scholar—Won the Testament—Result of Being Himself—The Spelling- club and Spelling-matches

We can have a school-house nearer to us,” remarked Mrs. Garfield to Mr. Boynton. “For the sake of my James, I wish we could have.”

“There are scarcely enough families yet to make such a change,” replied Mr. Boynton; “some of them would have to go as far as they do now.”

“That is very true; but more families would have a shorter distance to go than they have now. I think that fact is worth considering.”

Mrs. Garfield was giving utterance, for the first time, to thoughts that had been in her mind for several months. In her own mind she had numbered the families which might be induced to unite in erecting a log school-house upon one corner of her farm. She continued:

“Suppose you inquire of Mr. Collins and others, and learn what they think about it. If eight or ten families will unite, or even eight families, we can have a school nearer home. I will give the land on which to build the house; and three days’ labour by seven or eight men will complete the building. It is not a long or expensive job, and it is just the time to start now, if the thing is to be done.”

“Perhaps it can be done,” Mr. Boynton answered, thoughtfully. “The more I look at it, the less difficult it seems. I will consult the neighbours you mention, and others, too. I should be as pleased as anybody to have it done.” And as he spoke the last sentence he turned towards home.

Without recording the details of this new enterprise, we need only say that it was very easily accomplished; and before winter set in, a log school-house stood on the Garfield farm. Neighbours welcomed the project, especially because it would be an advantage to Widow Garfield, whom they very much respected, and to whom their warmest sympathies had always been tendered in her affliction.

“Now you can go to school by your own conveyance,” said Thomas to Jimmy, one day after the school- house was finished. “You won’t have to make a beast of burden of Hit any longer. You will like that, won’t you?”

James assented; when his mother added:—

“Your master is coming from New Hampshire, where I was born. You will like him; and he is to board here to begin with.”

Mrs. Garfield had four children, and Mr. Boynton six, to go to school—ten in all from two families.

It was through Mrs. Garfield’s influence that the school-house was built; and then, it was through her influence that a schoolmaster was imported from New Hampshire. The school-house was twenty feet square, with puncheon floor, slab roof, and log benches without backs—large enough to accommodate twenty-five scholars. Teachers always “boarded round,” dividing the time equally among the families; and it was considered quite an advantage to a family of children to have the “master” board with them.

By hard labour, assisted by his mother and sisters, Thomas harvested the crops in the autumn, cut and hauled wood, and did other necessary work, so that he could attend the winter term of school with his sisters and James. He had everything about the farm in fine order when December and the schoolmaster,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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