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both in going and coming, besides working early and late at her household duties.
Hiram Mason was the name of the new teacher whom the pupils found behind the master's desk on the first day of school. He was the son of a minister who had come out from New England with the laudable intention of lending a hand in evangelizing this great strapping West, whose vigorous and rather boisterous youth was ever a source of bewilderment, and even a cause of grief, to the minds of well-regulated Down-easters. The evangelists sent out aimed at the impossible, even at the undesirable, in seeking to reproduce a New England in communities born under a different star. Perhaps it was this peninsular trait of mind that prevented the self-denying missionaries from making any considerable impression on the country south of the belt peopled by the current of migration from New England. The civilization of the broad, wedgeshaped region on the north side of the Ohio River, which was settled by Southern and Middle State people, and which is the great land of the Indian corn, has been evolved out of the healthier elements of its own native constitution. But it was indebted to New England, in the time of its need, for many teachers of arithmetic and grammar, as well as for the less-admirable but neverto-be-forgotten clock-peddlers and tin-peddlers from Connecticut, who also taught the rustics of southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois things they had never dreamed of before, and took high pay for the instruction. Young Mason, though he had mostly grown up in the new country, and would have scorned the name of Yankee, had got from his father that almost superstitious faith in the efficacy of knowledge which, in the North-eastern States, has been handed down from generation to generation, and which has produced much learning and not a little pedantry. Mason was of middle stature, good breadth of shoulder, prominent, broad forehead, and brows that overhung his eyes, but were rather high above them. He had a well-set chin and a solid jaw; his mouth was too large to be handsome and was firmly closed; his gait was strong, straightforward, resolute, and unhurried. There were little touches of eccentricity in him: he had a way of looking at an interlocutor askance, and his habitual expression was one of mingled shyness and selfcontained amusement. The religious enthusiasm of his father had been transmuted in him to a general earnestness of character, which was veiled under a keen perception of the droll side of life, derived from a mother of Southern extraction. His early-and-late diligence in study was the wonder of the coun
try, but the tastes and aspirations that impelled him to so much toil rarely found utterance in any confessions, even to his nearest friends. Reserved as he was, the people could never complain that he held himself above them. A new-country youth, the son of a minister on slender pay, Hiram understood how to extend a helping hand, when occasion required, in any work that might be going on. At school; when the young master saw the boys playing at the boisterous and promiscuous "soak-about," he would sometimes catch the contagion of the wild fun, and, thrusting his "Livy" into the desk, rush out of the door to mix in the confusion, throwing the yarn ball at one and another with a vigor and an accuracy of aim that doubled the respect of his pupils for him. But when once he had extricated himself from the mêlée, and had rapped on the door-frame with his ruler, crying, "Books, books!" the boy who a minute before had enjoyed the luxury of giving the master what was known in schoolboy lingo as a "sockdolager," delivered full in the back, or even on the side of the head, did not find any encouragement to presume on that experience in school hours.
The new master's punishments usually had a touch of his drollery in them; he contrived to make the culprit ridiculous, and so to keep the humor of the school on his side. A girl who could not otherwise be cured of munching in school had to stand in front of the master's desk with an apple in her teeth; a boy who was wont to get his sport by pinching his neighbors, and sticking them with pins, was forced to make no end of amusement for the school in his turn, by standing on the hearth with a cleft stick pinching his nose out of shape. It was soon concluded that there was no fun in "fooling" with a master who was sure to turn the joke on the offender.
The older pupils who occupied the "writing bench," in front of a continuous shelf-like desk fixed along the wall, spent much of their time in smuggling from one to another fervid little love-notes, which, for disguise, were folded like the "thumb-papers" that served to protect their books from the wear and tear of their over-vigorous thumbs, and from soiling. By passing books from one to another, with such innocent-looking square papers in them, a refreshing correspondence was kept up. This exchange of smuggled billets-doux was particularly active when Rachel Albaugh was present. As for the love-letters thus dispatched, they were fearfully monotonous and not worth the pains of capture by a schoolmaster. Some were straightforward and shameless declarations of admiration and affection in prose scrawls, but a very common sort was com
posed entirely of one or another of those wellworn doggerel couplets that have perhaps done duty since the art of writing became known to the Anglo-Saxons.
"If you love me as I love you,
No knife can cut our love in two,"
the arithmetic would be, according to the standard of the country, to have a liberal education, and she was ambitious enough to like that. But where would she get the money to buy a text-book? She did n't wish to confess her scruple of economy. It was not that she was ashamed of her poverty, for poverty might
was a favorite with the swains of the country be said to be the prevailing fashion in the school-house; but
"The rose is red, the violet 's blue,
had a molasses-like consistency in its alliterative lines that gave it the preference over all other love poems extant.
Amongst these unblushing scribblers of love doggerel and patient cutters and folders of many sorts of thumb-papers, whose fits of studying, like chills and fever, came on only "by spells," Barbara sat without being one of them. The last chance for education was not to be thrown away; and Mason soon singled out this rather under-sized, sharp-eyed girl, not only as the most industrious and clever of the pupils in the Timber Creek school, but as a person of quite another sort from the rest of them. When he was explaining anything to a group of half-listless scholars, her dark eyes, drawn to beads, almost startled him with their concentrated interest. She could not be taught in any kind of classification with the rest; her rate of progress was too rapid. So, finding that Barbara studied all through the recess time, he undertook to give her extra instruction while the others were on the playground. The most agreeable minutes of his day were those in which he unfolded to her the prosaic principles of Vulgar Fractions, of Tare and Tret, and of the Rule of Three. This last was the great and final goal, and it was attained by few of those who attended an intermittent country school in that time. To reach it was to become competent to teach school. Barbara, with the help of the master, who directed her to save time by omitting some of the rubbish of Pike's Arithmetic, was soon in sight of this promised land of the Rule of Three, and it became a question of reviewing the book once more, when she should be through with it, so as to take rank among those who would certainly "do every sum in the book." "Why not take up algebra?" said the teacher to her, during a long noon recess as they sat side by side at his desk poring over a slate full of figures.
"Do you think I could learn it?" she asked.
"You could learn anything," he said; and the assurance gave Barbara more pleasure than any commendation she had ever received. But she did not know what to reply. To go beyond
Timber Creek country; but it would be bringing to Mason's attention her private affairs, and from that she shrank with an instinct of delicacy for which she could not have given any reason. Yet there sat Mason, leaning back and waiting for her to reply to his question. After a few moments she mustered courage to ask timidly:
"Would the book cost much?"
"I would n't buy any book just now," said the master, seeing the drift of her thoughts. He went to one corner of the school-room, and, standing on the bench, pushed aside one of the boards laid loosely over the joists above. It was here, in the dark loft, that he kept the few articles not necessary to his daily existence in boarding 'round. Reaching his hand up above the boards, he found a copy of a school text-book on algebra, and brought it down with him, rapping it against his hand and blowing the dust off it.
"Use that for a while," he said.
"Oh, thank you!" said Barbara, taking hold of the book with a curious sense of reverence, which was greatly increased as she turned the leaves and regarded the symbols, whose nature and use were quite inconceivable to her. Here was a knowledge beyond any that she had ever dreamed of looking into; beyond that of any schoolmaster she had ever known, except Mason. "It looks hard," she said, regarding him.
"Take it home and try it," he replied, as he took up his ruler to call the scholars to books.
A closer companionship now grew up between the master and the pupil. Both of them anticipated with pleasure the coming of recess time, when the new study could be discussed together. Henceforth the boys looked in vain for Mason to take a turn with them in playing soak-about.
To a man of high aims nothing is more delightful than to have a devoted disciple. Even the self-contained Mason could not be quite unmoved in contemplating this young girl, all of whose tastes and ambitions flowed in the same channel with his own, listening to him as to an oracle. If he had not been so firmly fixed in his resolve that he would not allow any woman to engage his affections before he had completed his college course, he might have come to fall in love with her. But all such thoughts he resolutely put aside. Of
course, teaching her was a delight; but who could help feeling delight in teaching such a learner? Moreover, he was particularly fond of algebra. But he could hardly lay all of his enjoyment to his liking for algebra, or his pleasure in teaching a quick-witted pupil. He could not make himself believe that it was his enjoyment of algebraic generalizations that made his hand tremble whenever he returned a slate or book to Barbara Grayson.
Barbara, for her part, was too intent on her work to think much about anything else. She had more than once caught sight of the furtive, inquiring glance of her teacher on her face before he could turn his eyes away; she was pleased to note that his voice had a tone in addressing her that it had not when he spoke to the others; and she took pleasure in perceiving that she was beyond question the favorite pupil. But Barbara was averse to building any castles in the air which she had small chance of being able to materialize.
One evening, as she was going briskly toward home, she was overtaken by Mason, who walked with her up hill and down dale the whole long rough new-country road through the woods, carrying her books, and chatting about trivial things as he had never done before. He contrived, half in pleasantry but quite in earnest, to praise her diligence, and even her mind. She had hardly ever thought of herself as having a mind. That Tom had such a gift she knew, and she understood how important it was to cultivate his abilities. But she was only Tom's sister. It seemed to her a fine thing, however, this having a mind of her own, and she thought a good deal about it afterward.
ashamed, not so much of the feeling he had shown as of that he had concealed, he finished his adieux abruptly, and, placing his hands on the top rail, vaulted clean over the fence again into the road. Then he thought of something else that he wanted to say about Barbara's new study of algebra,- something of no consequence at all, except in so far as it served to make Barbara turn and look at him once more. The odd twinkling smile so habitual with him died out of his face, and he looked into hers with an eagerness that made her blush, but did not make her turn away. Then blaming himself for what seemed to him imprudence, he left her at last and started back, only stopping on the next high ground to watch her figure as she hurried along through the meadow grass, and across the brook, and then up the slope toward the house.
There were several other evenings not very different from this one. The master would wait until all the pupils had gone, and then overtake Barbara. He solaced his conscience by carrying a book in his pocket, so as to study on the way back; but he found a strange wandering of the mind in his endeavors to read a dead language after a walk with Barbara. He still held to his resolution, or to what was left of his resolution, not to entangle himself with an early engagement. What visions he indulged in, of projects to be carried out in a very short time after his graduation, belong to the secrets of his own imagination; all his follies shall not be laid bare here. But to keep from committing himself too far, he drew the line at the boundary of Mrs. Grayson's farm,the meadow fence. He gave himself a little grace, and drew the line on the inside of the fence. He was firmly resolved never to go quite home with his pupil, and never to call at her house. So long as he stopped at the fence, or within ten, or say twenty, or perhaps thirty, feet of it, he felt reasonably safe. But he could not, in common civility, turn back until he had helped her to surmount this eight-rail fence; and indeed it was the great treat to which he always looked forward. There was a sort of permissible intimacy in such an attention. He guarded himself, however, against going beyond the limits of civility of kindly politeness-of polite friendship; that was the precise phrase he hit on at last. But good resolutions often come to naught because of its being so very difficult to reckon beforehand with the involuntary and the uncontrollable. The goodman of the house never knows at what moment the thief will surprise him. One evening Mason had taken especial pains to talk on only the most innocent and indifferent subjects, such as algebra. On this theme he was the schoolmaster, and he felt particularly secure against any expression
When Hiram Mason reached the place where Barbara was accustomed to leave the main road, in order to reach her home by a shorter path through a meadow, he got over the fence first and gave her his hand, though he wondered afterward that he had had the courage to do it. Barbara had climbed fences, and trees too, for that matter, from her infancy, and she was in the habit of getting over this fence twice a day, without ever dreaming that she needed help. But a change had come over her in this two-miles' walk from school. For the first time, she felt a certain loneliness in her life, and a pleasure in being protected. She let Mason take her hand and help her to the top of the fence, though she could have climbed up much more nimbly if she had had both hands free to hold by. Hiram found it so pleasant helping her up, by holding her hand, that he took both her hands when she was ready to jump down on the meadow side of the fence, and then, by an involuntary impulse, he retained her right hand in his left a bare moment longer than was necessary. A little
of feeling, for x, y, and z are unknown quantities that have no emotion in them. Though Barbara was yet in the rudiments of the study, he was trying to make her understand the gen.eral principles involved in the discussion of the famous problem of the lights. To make this clear he sat down once or twice on logs lying by the roadside, and wrote some characters on her slate showing the relation of a to b in any given case, while Barbara sat by and looked over his demonstrations. But in spite of these delays, they got to the fence before he had finished, and the rest was postponed for another time. It did n't matter so much about the lights after all, whether they were near together or far apart; it does not matter to lights, but there are flames much affected by proximity. As Mason helped Barbara down from the fence, his passion, by some sudden assault, got the better of his prudence, and looking intently into the eyes shaded by the sun-bonnet, he came out with :
"It's all the world to a fellow like me to have such a scholar as you are, Barbara."
The words were mild enough; but his eager manner and his air of confidence, as he stood in front of her sun-bonnet and spoke, with his face flushed, and in a low and unsteady voice, made his speech a half confession. Startled at this sudden downfall of his resolution, he got back over the fence and went straight away, without giving her a chance to say anything; without so much as uttering a civil good-bye. The precipitation of his retreat only served to lend the greater significance to his unpremeditated speech.
Mrs. Grayson complained that "there was no sense in a girl's studyin' algebra, an' tryin' to know more 'n many a good schoolmaster ever knowed when I was a girl. Ever since Barbary's been at that new-fangled study, it's seemed like as if she'd somehow 'r nuther clean lost her mind. She'll say supper's ready when they ain't knife nur fork on the table; an' she's everlastin❜ly losin' her knittin'-needles an' puttin' her thimble where she can't find it, or mislayin' her sun-bonnet. Ef her head was loose, she'd be shore to leave that around somewheres, liker 'n not."
If Hiram Mason's half-involuntary lovemaking had not brought Barbara unmeasured pleasure she would not have been the normal young woman that she was. He filled all her ideals, and went beyond the highest standard she had set up before she knew him. She was not the kind of a girl that one meets nowadays; at least, that one meets nowadays in novels. She did not have a lot of perfectly needless and inconceivably fine-spun conscientious scruples to prevent the course of her fortune from running smoothly. She did find in her
self a drawing back from the future which Mason's partiality had brought within the range of her vision. But her scruple was only one of pride; she exaggerated the superiority of an educated family, such as she conceived his to be, and she reflected that the Graysons were simple country people. She felt in herself that she could never endure the mortification she would feel, as Hiram's wife, if the Masons should look down on her good but unlettered mother, and say or feel that Hiram had "married below him." If, now, Tom should come to something, the equation would be made good.
But the very day after Mason had spoken so warmly of the comfort he found in such a pupil was that disagreeable Saturday on which Tom had come home plucked in gambling, to ask for money enough to pay the debt he had incurred in redeeming his clothes. Was it any wonder that Barbara spoke to him with severity when she found her cherished vision becoming an intangible illusion? Tom would make no career at all at this rate; and to yield to Hiram Mason's wooing would now be to bring to him, not only the drawback of a family of humble breeding and slender education, but the disgrace of a rash, unsteady, and unsuccessful brother, whose adventures with gamblers would seem particularly disreputable to a minister's family. There was no good in thinking about it any more. pride could never bear to be "looked down on" by the family of her husband. It would be better to give it up at once- unless — she clung to this possibility-unless Tom should turn out right after all. The necessity for surrendering so much imminent happiness did not surprise her. She had always had to forego, and no prospect of happiness could seem quite possible of realization to an imagination accustomed to contemplate a future of self-denial. None the less, the disappointment was most acute, for she must even give up the school, and try, by spinning yarn, by knitting stockings, and by weaving jeans and linsey, to make up the money taken out of their little fund by Tom's recklessness.
On the next Monday, and the days following, she staid at home without sending any word to the schoolmaster. She held to a lurking hope that Tom's affairs might mend, and she be able, by some good luck, to resume her attendance on the school for a part of the remainder of the quarter. But when on Wednesday Tom's haggard face appeared at the door, and she read in it that all her schemes for him had miscarried, she knew that she must give up dreaming dreams which seemed too good to be innocent. There was nothing for her but to give herself to doing what could be
done for Tom. It was lucky that the poor fellow did not suspect what it cost her to put a smooth face on his disasters.
losses seemed to her a joke of the best, and all the better that the master took it so seriously. "I'low it's cut Barb'ry up more 'n a little. She sot sech store by Tom. An' he is smart, the smartest feller you 'd find fer books an' the like. But what's the use a-bein' so Da smart an' then bein' sech a simple into the bargain? I say."
BY THE LOOM.
ON Monday, Mason saw with regret that Barbara was not at school. On Tuesday he felt solicitous, and would have made inquiry if it had not been for an impulse of secretiveness. By Wednesday he began to fear that his words spoken to her at the meadow fence had something to do with her absence. He questioned the past. He could not remember that she had ever repelled his attentions, or that she had seemed displeased when he had spoken his fervent and unpremeditated words. Conscious that his bearing toward Barbara had attracted the observation of the school, he did not summon courage to ask about her until Thursday. Then when the voluble Mely Davis came to him before the beginning of the afternoon session, to ask him how she should proceed to divide 130 by 9, he inquired if Barbara was ill.
"No, I don't 'low she's sick," responded Mely. "Ish'd 'a' thought she'd tole you, 'fanybody, what 't wuz kep' 'er"; and Mely laughed a malicious little snicker, which revealed her belief that the master was in confidential relations with his algebra scholar. "She thinks the worl''n'all of the school an' the master." Mely gasped a little as she ventured this thrust, and quickly added, "An' of algebray she's that fond of algebray; but I sh'd thought she'd tole you what kep 'er, ur 'a' sen' choo word. But I 'low it's got sumpin' to do weth the trouble in the family."
Mely made what the old schoolmasters called a "full stop" at this point, as though she considered it certain that Mason would know all about Barbara's affairs.
"Trouble? What trouble?" asked the
"W'y, I 'low'd you'd 'a' knowed," said the teasing creature, shaking her rusty ringlets with a fluttering, half-suppressed amusement at the anxiety she had awakened in Mason's mind. "Hain' choo hyeard about her brother?"
"No; which brother? The one that's in Moscow ?"
"W'y, lawsy, don' choo know't she hain't got nary nuther one? The res''s all dead an' buried long ago. Her brother Tom lost 'is sitooation along of gamblin' an' the like. They say he lost the boots offviz feet an' the coat offviz back." Here Mely had to give vent to her feelings in a hearty giggle; Tom's
Mason did not like to ask further questions about Barbara's family affairs. He could hardly bear to hear Mely canvass them in this unsympathetic way. But there was one more inquiry that he made about Tom. "Does he drink?"
"Mighty leetle. I'xpect he takes a drop ur two now an' then, jest fer company's sake when he 's cavortin' 'roun' weth the boys. But I 'low he hain't got no rale hankerin' fer the critter, an' he 's that fond of Barb'ry 'n' 'is mother, an' they 're so sot on 'im, that he wouldn' noways like to git reg'lar drunk like. But he's always a-gittin' into a bad crowd, an' tryin' some deviltry 'r nuther; out uv one scrape an' into t'other, kinduh keerless like; head up an' never ketchin' sight 'v a stump tell he 's fell over it, kerthump, head over heels. His uncle 's been a-schoolin' 'im, an' lately he's gone 'n' put 'im weth Squire Blackman to learn to be a lawyer; but now he 's gone 'n' sent him home fer a bad bargain. Ut 's no go 't the law, an' he won't never stan' a farm, yeh know. Too high-sperrited."
Possessed of a share of Mely Davis's stock of information about Barbara's troubles, Hiram Mason saw that his resolution against calling on his pupil at her own house would have to go the way of most of his other resolutions on this subject. He set himself to find arguments against keeping this one, but he was perfectly aware, all the time, that his going to the Graysons' would not depend on reasons at all. He reflected, however, that Barbara's trouble was a new and unforeseen condition. Besides, his regulative resolutions had been so far strained already that they were not worth the keeping. It is often thus in our dealings with ourselves; we argue from defection to indulgence.
Mely Davis felt sure of having the master's company after school as far as she had to go on the road leading to the Graysons'. But he went another way to Pearson's, where he was boarding out the proportion due for three pupils. Mrs. Pearson had intermitted the usual diet of corn-dodgers, and had baked a skilletful of hot biscuits, in honor of the master; she was a little piqued that he should absorb them, as he did, in a perfectly heartless way. As soon as the early supper was over he left the house, without saying anything of his destination. He took a "short cut"