The Humours of School Life
BY MYRA KELLY
ILLUSTRATED BY W. D. STEVENS
TO MY MOTHER
A Little Matter of Real Estate
The Uses of Adversity
A Christmas Present for a Lady
Love Among the Blackboards
Morris and the Honourable Tim
When a Man's Widowed
H.R.H. The Prince of Hester Street
The Land Of Heart's Desire
A Passport to Paradise
The Touch of Nature
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"Say, Teacher, I got something for you". Frontispiece
Isidore Belchatosky, the Adonis of the class
"I got two swollen legs over her"
"My dear little chap, you mustn't cry like that"
"Dismissed with the common herd at three o'clock"
"I must ask you to leave this room"
"Teacher, I tells you 'scuse"
"So you want lick, so you can lick"
"She's a beautiful yonge uptown lady, but easy scared. Oh, awful easy
"Don't you dast to touch me," he yelled
"Look at your back!"
"You'll wish you minded your own —— business before I get through
"I washes me the face"
"Ain't you never comin' on the school for to see mine teacher?"
A LITTLE MATTER OF REAL ESTATE
Four weeks of teaching in a lower East Side school had deprived
Constance Bailey of many of the "Ideals in Education" which, during
four years at college, she had trustingly acquired. But, despite many
discouragements, despite an unintelligible dialect and an autocratic
"Course of Study," she clung to an ambition to establish harmony in
her kingdom and to impress a high moral tone upon the fifty-eight
little children of Israel entrusted to her care. She was therefore
troubled and heavy of heart when it was borne in upon her that two of
her little flock—cousins to boot, and girls—had so far forgotten the
Golden Rule as to be "mad on theirselves und wouldn't to talk even,"
as that Bureau of Fashionable Intelligence, Sarah Schrodsky, duly
"Und Teacher," Sarah continued, "Eva Gonorowsky's mamma has a mad on
Sadie Gonorowsky's mamma, und her papa has a mad on her papa, und her
gran'ma has a mad on both of papas und both of mammas, und her gran'pa
has a mad somethin' fierce on both of uncles, und her auntie—"
Here Miss Bailey sent the too communicative Sarah to her place and
called the divided house of Gonorowsky to her desk for instant judgment.
And as she held forth she was delighted to see that her words were
falling upon good ground, for the dark and dainty features of her
hearers expressed a flattering degree of conviction and of humility. She
was admiring the wonderful lashes lying damp and dark on Eva's smooth
cheek when the beautiful eyes unclosed, gazed straight across the desk
at Sadie, and Eva took a flying leap into Teacher's lap to cling with
arms and knees and fingers to her chosen refuge.
"Oh, Teacher, Teacher," she wailed, "Sadie makes on me such a snoot
I got a scare over it."
Miss Bailey turned to the so lately placid face of Sadie in search of
the devastating "snoot," but met only a serene glance of conscious
guilelessness and the assurance:
"No ma'an, I don't makes no snoot on nobody. I get killed as anything
off of my mamma sooner I makes a snoot. It ain't polite." This with
a reassuring smile and direct and candid gaze.
"Teacher, yiss ma'an, she makes all times a snoot on me," cried the
now weeping Eva, "all times. She turns her nose around, und makes go
away her eyes, und comes her tongue out long. On'y I dassent to fight
mit her while I'm cousins mit her. Und over cousins you got all times
"Well, Sadie," Teacher questioned, "what have you to say?"
The dark eyes met Teacher's with no shadow in their depths as Sadie
uttered her denial:
"I never in my world done no snoot."
A shudder of admiring awe swept over the assembled class—followed by
a gasp of open contradiction as Sadie went on with her vindication.
For Sadie's snoots were the envy of all the class. Had not Morris
Mogilewsky paid three cents for lessons in the art, and, with the
accomplishment, frightened a baby into what its angry mother described
as "spine-yell convulsions"? And now Sadie was saying, "I couldn't to
make no snoot. Never. But, Teacher, it's like this: Eva makes me whole
bunches of trouble. Bertha Binderwitz und me is monitors in the yard
when the childrens comes back from dinner. So-o-oh, I says, 'front
dress,' like you says, so the childrens shall look on what head is in
front of them. On'y Eva she don't 'front dress' at all, but extra she
longs out her neck und rubs on me somethin' fierce—"
"It's a lie!" interrupted Eva gently. "I don't make nothing like that.
I stands by my line und Sadie she makes faces on me with her hand. It
ain't polite." This with plaintive self-righteousness. "No ma'an, it
ain't polite—you makes snoots mit your hand like this." And as Eva
illustrated with outspread fingers and a pink thumb in juxtaposition to
a diminutive nose, Teacher, with uncertain gravity, was forced to admit
that snoots of that description are sanctioned by few books of
"Now, my dear little girls," said she, "this quarrelling must stop.
I want you to kiss each other as cousins should."
This suggestion was a distinct failure. Eva and Sadie, with much
fluttering of aprons and waving of curls, sought opposite corners of
the schoolroom, while up started Sarah Schrodsky with: "Teacher, they
couldn't to make no kissing. They're mad on theirselves 'cause their
mammas has a mad. Sadie's mamma says like this on Eva's mamma, 'Don't
you dast to talk to me—you lives by the fifth floor und your man is
a robber.' Und Eva's mamma says—"
When Teacher had managed to silence Sarah she led the weeping
Gonorowskys back to their places and the scholastic world wagged on
in outward tranquillity.
Hostilities were temporarily suspended some days later owing to the
illness of Sadie, by far the more aggressive of the opposing parties.
Eva led a placid life for three peaceful days, and then—as by law
prescribed and postal card invited—Sadie's mother came to explain
her daughter's absence. Large of person, bland of manner, in a heavy
black shawl and a heavier black wig, Mrs. Lazarus Gonorowsky stood
beaming and bobbing in the hall.
"I likes I should Sadie Gonorowsky's teacher see," she began, in the
peculiar English of the adult population of the East Side. Mrs.
Gonorowsky could neither use nor understand her young daughter's copious
invective. Upon being assured that the diminutive form before her was
indeed clothed with authority, she announced:
"Comes a letter I should by the school come. I was Sadie's mamma."
Here she drew from the inner recesses of the black shawl a bundle
which, being placed in a perpendicular position, proved to be the most
recent addition to the Gonorowsky household. She smoothed it with a
work-worn but tender hand, and repeated in a saddened voice: "Yes,
ma'am, I was her mamma und she lays now on the bed."
The increasing sadness of Mrs. Gonorowsky's announcement and its
sinister phraseology startled Teacher. "Not dead!" she cried. "Oh,
surely not dead!"
"Sure not," was the indignant response. "She's got such a sickness she
must lay on the bed, und comes the doctor. Sadie's papa holds much on
that child, Miss Teacher, und all times he has a worry over her. Me
too. She comes by the school tomorrow maybe, und I ask you by a favour
you should do me the kindness to look on her. So she feel again sick
she should better on the house come. She say, 'Oh, mamma, I got a
lovely teacher; I likes to look on her the while she has such a light
Having thus diplomatically led up to a question, Mrs. Gonorowsky with
great suavity asked, "Sadie is a good girl, hein?"
"Oh, yes, indeed."
"She is shmardt, hein? She don't make you no troubles?"
"Well," Miss Bailey answered, "she has rather bothered me lately by
quarrelling with her little cousin, Eva."
"So-o-oh!" exclaimed Sadie's parent ponderously. "So-o-oh, Eva
Gonorowsky makes you troubles; she is a bad girl—I tell Sadie—Sadie
is a good girl—I tell her she should make nothings with Eva soch a
bad girl. For what you not put her back by baby class? She is not
"Oh, but she is; she is a bright little thing," cried Teacher. "I
couldn't think of putting her back. She's a dear little girl and I
can't imagine why Sadie quarrels with her."
Mrs. Gonorowsky drew her ample form to a wonderful erectness, readjusted
her shawl, and answered with much stateliness:
"It was a trouble from off of real estate." With dignity and blandness
she proceeded to kiss Teacher's hand, and signified entire willingness
to entrust her precious Sadie to the care of so estimable a young
person, inquired solicitously if the work were not too much for so
small a lady, and cautioned the young person against rainy mornings.
Had she a mackintosh? Mr. Gonorowsky was selling them off that week.
Were her imperceptibles sufficiently warm? Mr. Gonorowsky, by a strange
chance, was absolutely giving away "fine all from wool" imperceptibles,
and the store was near. Mrs. Gonorowsky then withdrew, leaving a kindly
sentiment in Teacher's heart and an atmosphere of ironing-boards and
onions in the hall. On the following morning Sadie returned to her
"light-faced" teacher, and for one whole day hostilities were suspended.
But on the morning after this truce Eva was absent from her accustomed
place and Sadie blandly disclaimed all knowledge of her whereabouts.
After the noon recess a pathetic little figure wavered in the doorway
with one arm in a sling and one eye in a poultice. The remaining eye
was fixed in deep reproach on the face of Isidore Belchatosky, the
Adonis of the class, and the eye was the eye of Eva.
"Eva!" exclaimed Teacher, "oh, Eva, what can you have been doing?
What's the matter with your eye?"
"Isidore Belchatosky he goes und makes me this here shiner," said Eva's
accusing voice, as the eye under the poultice was uncovered for a
moment. It was indeed a "shiner" of aggravated aspect, and Isidore
cringed as it met his affrighted gaze. The sling and the bandages were
of gay chintz, showing forth the adventures of Robinson Crusoe, and
their lurid colours made them horribly conspicuous. Friday scampered
across Eva's forehead, pursued by savages; and Crusoe, under his
enormous umbrella, nestled close to her heart.
"Surely Isidore would never hit a little girl?" Teacher remonstrated.
"Teacher, yiss ma'an; he makes me this here shiner. Sadie she goes und
tells him she kisses him a kiss so he makes me a shiner. He's lovin'
mit her und she's got kind feelin's by him, the while his papa's got
a candy cart. It's a stylish candy cart mit a bell und a horn. So-o-oh
I was yesterday on the store for buy my mamma some wurst, und I don't
make nothings mit nobody."
Here the poor, half-blind Eva, with her love and talent for pantomime,
took a gay little walk past Teacher's desk, with tossing head and
swinging skirts. Then with a cry she recoiled from the very memory of
"Come Isidore! Und he hits me a hack on my leg so I couldn't to hold
it even. So I falls und I make me this here shiner. Und when my mamma
seen how comes such a bile on my bone she had a mad; she hollered
One could well sympathize with the harassed Mrs. Nathan Gonorowsky.
"So-o-oh," continued Eva with melancholy enjoyment, "my mamma she puts
medsin at a rag und bangages up mine eye. Und now I ain't healthy."
"Sadie Gonorowsky, come here!" commanded Miss Bailey, in a voice which
lifted Sadie bodily from the place to which she had guiltily determined
to cling. And Sadie went, jaunty of air, but with shifting eyes.
"Isidore Belchatosky, come here!" commanded Miss Bailey, and Isidore
slunk after his divinity.
Teacher was savagely angry, but bylaws forbade corporal punishment,
and principles—and the Principal—forbade noisy upbraidings. And so
with long, strange words, to supply the element of dread uncertainty,
she began to speak, slowly and coldly as one ever should when addressing
ears accustomed to much sputtering profanity.
"Sadie and Isidore, did you dare to interfere with the life, the liberty
and the happiness of our cherished young friend, Eva Gonorowsky? Did
"No ma'an," said Sadie with a sob.
"It's a lie!" said Isidore with a snuffle.
"Did you, Isidore, allow yourself to be tempted by beauty to such
inconceivable depravity as to blacken Eva's eye?"
"No ma'an. Self done it."
"Did you, Sadie, descend so low as to barter kisses with Isidore
"No ma'an," this with much scorn. "I wouldn't to kiss him; he's a
scare-cat, und he tells out."
"What did he tell?" asked Teacher.
"He tells out how I say I kiss him a kiss so he make Eva a shiner. Und
I wouldn't to do it. Never. So he gave me five cents even, I wouldn't
to kiss no scare-cat."
"Well, then, why did you promise?"
"'Cause I couldn't to hit her mineself," said the doughty Sadie. She
was inches taller than her victim, and stout withal. "I couldn't,
'cause I ain't so healthy; I'm a nervous child, Teacher, und I was
day-before-yesterday sick on the bed."
Here the plaintive plaintiff showed a desire to testify once more, and
Teacher appointed three-thirty that afternoon as the hour most suitable
for a thorough examination of the case.
When the last arm had been twisted into the last sleeve, when the last
chin had been tied into the last shawl, when the last dispute as to
ownership in disreputable mittens had been settled, the great case of
Gonorowsky vs. Gonorowsky was called. On either side of the desk stood
a diminutive Gonorowsky; Eva still plaintive, and Sadie, redly, on the
defensive. Directly in front stood that labourer defrauded of his hire,
that tool in the hands of guileful woman—Isidore Belchatosky.
"Now," Teacher began, "I want to hear nothing but the truth. Isidore,
did you hit Eva?"
"For a kiss."
Here Sadie muttered a threat "to lay him down dead if he tells," and
Isidore required promise of safe conduct to his own block before he
consented to murmur:
"Did you get the kiss?"
"Do you know anything about this fight?"
"Well, then, you may go home now, and bring your mother with you
Isidore left with a heavy heart and the enquiry was continued.
"What has Sadie been doing to you, Eva?" asked Teacher, and Eva, with
resigned mien, answered:
"All things," and then details followed. "She makes on me a snoot, she
pulls me on the bottom of my hair, she goes und takes her pencil und
gives me a stick in my face. When I was marchin' she extra takes her
shoes und steps at my legs; I got two swollen legs over her. Und
now"—here a sob—"you could to look on how she makes me biles und
As Eva's voice droned out these many accusations, Sadie grew more
emphatic in her favourite repartee:
"It's a lie! It's a lie! It's a lie!"
"And now, Eva, will you tell me why Sadie has been doing all these
"Teacher, I don't know."
"Oh, yes; you do!"
"No ma'an; I don't. I could swear if I do. I kiss up to God." She
wafted a kiss towards the ceiling. "I got all times a kind feelin'
over Sadie, on'y she wouldn't to be glad on me. I seen yesterday her
little brother in the street mit Sadie und she make he shouldn't to
talk to me. My heart it breaks when she make like that; I'm got no
brother und no sister und I'm lovin' so much mit my little cousin. She
goes und makes he should say nothin' und in mine eyes stands tears. I
[Illustration: ISIDORE BELCHATOSKY, THE ADONIS OF THE CLASS]
[Illustration: "I GOT TWO SWOLLEN LEGS OVER HER"]
"Well, dear, that's a shame," said Teacher, "and if you really don't
understand, go out into the assembly room and wait for me. Sadie is
going to tell me all about it."
Eva vanished, only to return with the lurid bandage in her hand and
the query:—"Can I make this wet?"
Upon receiving permission so to do she retired with her courteous
"Good-afternoon, Teacher," and her unchanged "Good-by, Sadie; I'm got
yet that kind feelin'." Truly the "pangs of disprized love" seemed
Several kinds of persuasion were practised in Room 18 during the next
five minutes. Then Sadie accepted defeat, faced the inevitable, and
"It's like this: I dassent to be glad on Eva. So I want even, I dassent.
My mamma has the same mad, und my papa. My mamma she says like this:
So my papa gets sooner glad on my uncle she wouldn't to be wifes mit
him no more! Such is the mad she has!"
"Well. Mine uncle he come out of Russia. From long he come when I was
a little bit of baby. Und he didn't to have no money for buy a house.
So my papa—he's awful kind—he gives him thousen dollers so he could
to buy. Und say, Teacher, what you think? he don't pays it back. It
ain't polite you takes thousen dollers und don't pays it back."
Sadie's air, as she submitted this rule of social etiquette to Teacher's
wider knowledge, was a wondrous thing to see—so deferential was it
and yet so assured.
"So my papa he writes a letter on my uncle how he could to pay that
thousen dollers. Goes months. Comes no thousen dollers. So my papa
he goes on the lawyer und the lawyer he writes on my uncle a letter how
he should to pay. Goes months. Comes no thousen dollers." At each
repetition of these fateful words Sadie shook her serious head, pursed
up her rosy mouth, folded her hands resignedly, and sighed deeply.
Clearly this was a tale more than twice told, for the voice and manner
of Sadie were as the voice and manner of Mrs. Lazarus Gonorowsky, and
the recital was plagiarism—masterly and complete.
"And then?" prompted Teacher, lest the conversation languish.
"Well, my papa writes some more a letter on mine uncle. Oh-o-oh, a
awful bossy-und-mad letter. All the mad words what my papa knows he
writes on mine uncle. Und my mamma she sets by my papa's side und all
the mad words what my mamma knows she tells on my papa und he writes
them, too, on mine uncle. Mine uncle (that's Eva's papa) could to have
a fierce mad sooner he seen that bossy letter. But goes two days.
Comes no thousen dollers."
Here ensued a long and dramatic pause.
"Well, comes no thousen dollers. Comes nothings. On'y by night my mamma
she puts me on my bed; when comes my uncle! He comes und makes a
knopping on our door. I couldn't to tell even how he makes knopping.
I had such a scare I was green on the face, und my heart was going so
you could to hear. I'm a nervous child, Missis Bailey, und my face is
all times green sooner I gets a scare."
This last observation was a triumph of mimicry, and recalled Mrs.
Gonorowsky so vividly as to make her atmosphere of garlic and old
furniture quite perceptible. "So my mamma hears how my uncle knopps
und says 'Lemme in—lemme in.' She says ('scuse me, Teacher)—she says
'he must be' ('scuse me) 'drunk.' That's how my mamma says.
"So goes my papa by the door und says 'Who stands?' Und my uncle he
says 'Lemme in.' So-o-oh my papa he opens the door. Stands my unclemit
cheeky looks und he showed a fist on my papa. My papa has a fierce
mad sooner he seen that fist—fists is awful cheeky when somebody
ain't paid. So my papa he says ('scuse me)—it's fierce how he says,
on'y he had a mad over that fist. He says ('scuse me), 'Go to hell!'
und my uncle, what ain't paid that thousen dollers, he says just like
that to my papa. He says too ('scuse me, Teacher), 'Go to hell!' So-o-oh
then my papa hits my uncle (that's Eva's papa), und how my papa is
strong I couldn't to tell even. He pulls every morning by the
extrasizer, und he's got such a muscles! So he hits my uncle (that's
Eva's papa), und my uncle he fall und he fall und he fall—we live by
the third floor, und he fall off of the third floor by the street—und
even in falling he says like that ('scuse me, Teacher), 'Go to hell!
go to hell! go to hell!' Ain't it somethin' fierce how he says? On all
the steps he says, 'Go to hell! go to hell! go to hell!'"
Miss Bailey had listened to authoritative lectures upon "The Place and
Influence of the Teacher in Community Life," and was debating as to
whether she had better inflict her visit of remonstrance upon Mr.
Lazarus Gonorowsky, of the powerful and cultivated muscle, or upon Mr.
Nathan Gonorowsky, of the deplorable manners, when this opportunity
to bring the higher standards of living into the home was taken from
her. The house of Gonorowsky, in jagged fragments, was tested as by
fire and came forth united.
Eva was absent one morning, and Sadie presented the explanation in a
rather dirty envelope:
Excuse pliss that Eva Gonarofsky comes not on the school. We was moving
und she couldn't to find her clothes. Yurs Resptphs,
"Is Eva going far away?" asked Teacher. "Will she come to this school
"Teacher, yiss ma'an, sure she comes; she lives now by my house. My
uncle he lives by my house, too. Und my aunt."
"And you're not angry with your cousin anymore?"
"Teacher, no ma'an; I'm loving mit her. She's got on now all mine best
clothes the while her mamma buys her new. My aunt buys new clothes,
too. Und my uncle."
Sadie reported this shopping epidemic so cheerily that Teacher asked
with mild surprise:
"Where are all their old things?"
"Teacher, they're burned. Und my uncle's store und his all of
goods, und his house und his three sewing machines. All, all burned!"
"Oh, dear me!" said Teacher. "Your poor uncle! Now he can never pay
that thousand dollars."
Sadie regarded Teacher with puzzled eyes.
"Sure he pays. He's now 'most as rich like Van'pilt. I guess he's got
a hundred dollers. He pays all right, all right, und my papa had a
party over him: he had such a awful glad!"
"Glad on your uncle?" cried Teacher, startled into colloquialisms.
"Yiss ma'an. Und my mamma has a glad on Eva's mamma, und my gran'ma
has a glad on both of papas und both of mammas, und my gran'pa has a
glad just like my gran'ma. All, all glad!"
As Teacher walked towards Grand Street that afternoon, she met a radiant
little girl with a small and most unsteady boy in tow. She recognized
Eva and surmised the cousin whose coldness had hurt her even unto
"Well, Eva, and what little boy is this?" she asked.
And the beaming and transformed Eva answered:
"It's my little cousin. He's lovin' mit me now. Sadie, too, is lovin'.
I take him out the while it's healthy he walks, on'y he ain't so big
und he falls. Say, Teacher, it's nice when he falls. I holds him in
And fall he did. Eva picked him up, greatly to their mutual delight,
"He's heavy, und my this here arm ain't yet so healthy, but I hold him
in my hands the while he's cousins mit me, und over cousins I'm got
all times that kind feelin'."
THE USES OF ADVERSITY
"I guess I don't need I should go on the school," announced Algernon
"I guess you do," said his sister.
"I guess I don't need I should go on the school, neither," remarked
"You got to go," Leah informed her mutinous brothers. "I got a permit
for you from off the Principal; he's friends mit me the while I goes
on that school when I was little. You got to go on the school, und you
got to stay on the school. It's awful nice how you learn things there."
But the prospect did not appeal to the Yonowsky twins. It seemed to
forbode restraint and, during their six tempestuous years, they had
followed their own stubborn ways and had accepted neither advice nor
rebuke from any man. The evening of the day which had seen their
birth had left Leah motherless, and her father broken of heart and of
ambition. Since then Mr. Yonowsky had grown daily more silent and
morose, and Leah had been less and less able to cope with "them devil
A room high up in a swarming tenement had been the grave of her youth
and pleasure. She was as solitary there as she could have been in a
desert, for the neighbours who had known and assisted her in the first
years of her bereavement had died or moved to that Mecca of the New
World, Harlem. And their successors were not kindly disposed towards
a family comprising a silent man, a half-grown girl, and two twin
demons who made the block a terror to the nervous and the stairs a
menace to the unwary. No one came to gossip with Leah. She was too
young to listen understandingly to older women's adventures in sickness
or domestic infelicity, and too dispirited to make any show of interest
in the toilettes or "affaires" of the younger. For what were incompetent
doctors, habit-backed dresses, wavering husbands, or impetuous lovers
to Leah Yonowsky, who had assumed all the responsibilities of a woman's
life with none of its consolations?
Of course she had, to some extent, failed in the upbringing of her
brothers, but she had always looked forward hopefully to the time when
they should be old enough to be sent to school. There they should
learn, among much other lore, to live up to the names she had selected
for them out of the book of love and of adventure which she had been
reading at the time of their baptism. During all the years of her
enslavement she had been a patron of the nearest public library, and
it had been a source of great disappointment to her that Algernon and
Percival had made no least attempt to acquire the grace of speech and
manner which she had learned to associate with those lordly titles.
And now they were refusing even to approach the Pierian Spring! "I
guess I don't go," Algernon was persisting. "I guess I plays on the
"Me, too," added Percival. "Patrick Brennan he goes on that school und
he gives me over yesterday, a bloody nose. I don' need I should go on
no school mit somebody what makes like that mit me."
But with the assistance of the neighbours, the policeman on the beat
and the truant officer, they were finally dragged to the halls of
learning and delivered into the hands of Miss Bailey, who installed
them in widely separated seats and seemed blandly unimpressed by their
evident determination to make things unpleasant in Room 18. She met
Leah's anticipatory apologies with:
"Of course they'll be good. I shall see that they behave. Yes, I shall
see, too, that Patrick Brennan does not fight with Percival. You musn't
worry about them any more, but I fear they have made worrying a habit
with you. If you will send them to school at a quarter to nine every
morning, and at ten minutes to one in the afternoon, I shall do the
And Leah went out into the sunshine free, for the first time in six
years. Free to wander through the streets, to do a little desultory
shopping, to go down to the river and to watch the workmen driving
rivets in the great new bridge. Never had she spent so pleasant a
morning, and her heart was full of gratitude and peace when she
reflected that hours such as these would henceforth be the order of
The advantages of a free education did not appeal to "them Yonowsky
devils." Leah was forced to drag her reluctant charges twice a day to
the school-house door—sometimes even up the stairs to Room 18—and
the reports with which Miss Bailey met her were not enthusiastic.
Still, Teacher admitted, too much was not to be expected from little
boys coming in contact, for the first time, with authority.
"Only send them regularly," she pleaded, "and perhaps they will learn
to be happy here." And Leah, in spite of countless obstacles and
difficulties, sent them.
They were unusually mutinous one morning, and their dressing had been
one long torment to Leah. They persisted in untying strings and
unbuttoning buttons. They shrieked, they lay upon the floor and kicked,
they spilled coffee upon their "jumpers," and systematically and
deliberately reduced their sister to the verge of distraction and of
tears. They were already late when she dragged them to the corner of
the school, and there they made their last stand by sitting stolidly
down upon the pavement.
Leah could not cope with their two rigid little bodies, and, through
welling tears of weariness and exasperation, she looked blankly up and
down the dingy street for succour. If only her ally, Mr. Brennan, the
policeman on the beat, would come! But Mr. Brennan was guarding a Grand
Street crossing until such time as the last straggling child should
have safely passed the dangers of the horse-cars, and nothing came in
answer to Leah's prayer but a push-cart laden with figs and dates and
propelled by a tall man, long-coated and fur-capped. His first glance
read the tableau, and in an instant he grasped Percival, shook him
into animation, threw him through the big door, and turned to reason
with Algernon. But that rebel had already seen the error of his ways
and was meekly ascending the steps and waving a resigned adieu to his
sister. The heavy door clanged. Leah raised grateful eyes to her knight,
and the thing was done. For the rest of that day Aaron Kastrinsky sold
dates and figs at a reckless discount and dreamed of the fair oval of
a girl's face framed in a shawl no more scarlet than her lips, while
Leah's heart sang of a youth in a fur cap and a long coat who had been
able to "boss them awful boys."
Daily thereafter did Aaron Kastrinsky establish his gay green push-cart
outside the school door set apart for the very little boys and drive
a half hour's bustling trade ere the children were all housed. And
daily two naughty small boys were convoyed to the door by a red-shawled,
dark-eyed sister. Very slowly greetings grew from shy glance to shy
smile, from swift drooping of the lashes to swift rise of colour, from
gentle sweep of eyes to sustained regard, from formal good-morning to
protracted chats. But before this happy stage was reached the twins
decided that they no longer required safe conduct to the fountain of
knowledge, and that Leah's attendance covered them with ridicule in
the eyes of more independent spirits. But she refused to relax her
vigilance, nay, rather she increased it; for she began to force her
mutinous brothers to the synagogue on Sabbath mornings. The twins soon
came to associate the vision of Aaron Kastrinsky with the idea of
restraint and of stern virtue, for on the way to the synagogue he
walked by Leah's side—looking strangely incomplete without his green
push-cart—and drove them by the sheer force of his will to walk
decorously in front. Decorously, too, he marched them back again, and
stood idly talking to Leah at the steps of her tenement while the twins
escaped to their enjoyments.
When waiting milk-cans were thrown into cellars, when the wheels of
momentarily deserted wagons were loosened, when pushcarts disappeared,
when children bent on shopping were waylaid and robbed, when cats were
tortured, horses' manes clipped, windows broken, shop-keepers enraged,
babies frightened, and pit-falls set upon the stairs, the cry was
always, "Them Yonowsky devils." Leah could do nothing with them. Mr.
Yonowsky made no effort to control them, and Aaron Kastrinsky was not
always there. Not half, not a quarter as often as he wished, for Leah
promptly turned away from all his attempts to make her understand how
greatly she would gain in peace and comfort if she would but marry
him. They would move to a larger flat and he would manage the boys.
But Leah's view of life and marriage was tinged with no glory of
romance. She had no illusions, no ignorances, and she was afraid, she
told her suitor, afraid.
"But of what?" asked the puzzled Aaron. "Thou canst not be afraid of
me. Thou knowest how dear thou art to me. What canst thou fear?"
"I'm afraid of being married," was her ultimatum. She confessed that
she loved no one else—she had never, poor child, known anyone else
to love; she admitted the allurements of the larger flat and the strong
hand always ready for the twins, was delighted to go with him to
lectures at the Educational Alliance when her father could be aroused
to responsible charge of the twins, rejoiced when he prospered in the
world and exchanged the push-cart for a permanent fruit-stand—she
even assisted at its decoration—but to marry him she was afraid.
Yes, she liked him; yes, she would walk with him—and the twins—along
Grand Street in the early evening. Yes, she would wear her red dress
since he admired it; but to marry him—ah, no! Please, no! she was
afraid of being married.
Aaron was by birth and in his own country one of the learned class,
and he promptly set about supplementing Leah's neglected education.
She had lived so solitary a life that her Russian remained pure and
soft and was quite distinct from the mixture of Yiddish, German, English,
and slang which her neighbours spoke. English, which she read
easily, she spoke rarely and haltingly, and Jewish in a prettily
pedantic manner, learned from her mother, whose father had been a
Rabbi. Aaron lent her books in these three languages, which straightway
carried her into strange and glorious worlds. Occasionally the twins
stole and sold the books, but their enlightenment remained. To
supplement the reading he took her to lectures and to night schools,
and thus one evening they listened to an illustrated "talk" on
"Contagion and Its Causes." There had been an epidemic of smallpox in
the quarter and Panic was abroad. Parents who spoke no English fought
wildly with ambulance surgeons who spoke no Jewish, and refused to
entrust the sufferers to the care of the Board of Health. Many
disturbances resulted and the authorities arranged that, in all the
missions, night schools, and settlements of the East Side, reassuring
lecturers should spread abroad the folly of resistance, the joys of
hospital life, the surety of recovery in the arms of the board, with
a few remarks upon the sources of contagion.
Leah and Aaron listened to one of the most calming of these orators.
The lecturer spoke with such feeling—and such stereopticon slides—that
smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, and diphtheria seemed the "open
sesame" to bliss unutterable, and the source of these talismans rather
to be sought for diligently than shunned. "Didst hear?" Leah asked
Aaron as they went home. "For a redness on the skin one may stay in
bed for a week and rest."
"Ay, but one is sick," said Aaron sagely.
"Not if one goes where the gentleman said. One lies in bed for a
week—three weeks—and there be ladies who wait on one, and one
rests—all days one rests. And there be no twins. Think of it, Aaron!
rest and no twins!"
A few days later she climbed home after a morning's shopping to find
Algernon, heavy of eye and red of face, crouched near the locked door
with a whimper in his voice and a card in his hand.
"I'm got somethin'," he announced, with the pride of the invalid.
"Where didst get it?" asked Leah, automatically; she was accustomed
to brazen admission of guilt.
"Off of a boy at school."
"Thou wilt steal once too often," his sister admonished him. "Go now,
confess to Miss Bailey, and return what thou hast taken."
"The boy has it too," retorted Algernon. "It's a sickness—a taking
sickness; und comes a man und gives me a card und says I should come
by my house; I'm sick."
Leah gazed on the card in despairing envy. She had hopefully searched
her person for rash or redness, thinking thereby to achieve a ticket
to that promised land where beautiful ladies—as the stereopticon had
shown—sat graciously waving fans beside a smooth, white bed whereon
one lay and rested: only rested: quiet day after quiet day. There had
been no twins in her imaginings, yet here was Algernon already set
upon the way; Algernon, who would be naughty in that blissful place,
and who might even "talk sassy" to the beautiful ladies. Slow tears
of disappointment grew under Leah's heavy lids and splashed upon the
coveted ticket. And the doctor from the Board of Health, come to verify
the more superficial examination of his colleague, misguidedly launched
forth upon a resume of the reassuring lectures.
"You mustn't cry," he remonstrated. "It's only measles and he won't
be very sick. Why, you might keep him here, and I could send you a
nurse to show you how to take care of him if it weren't for that butcher
shop on the ground floor. But he'll be all right. Don't cry."
In a short space the house of Yonowsky was bereft of its more noisy
son, and peace reigned. Percival went lonely and early to bed. Leah
sat late on the steps with Aaron, and, on the next morning, Percival
duplicated the redness, the diagnosis, and the departure of his brother,
and Leah came into her own.
Then were the days wondrous long. There was time for all the pleasures
from which she had been so long debarred. Time to read, time to sew,
time to pay and to receive shy, short morning calls, time to scrub and
polish until her room shone, time for experiments in cookery, time to
stretch her father's wages to undreamed-of lengths, even time so to
cheer and wheedle Mr. Yonowsky that she dared to ask his permission
to bring Aaron up to her spotless domain. And Aaron, with a thumping
of the hearts not due entirely to the height and steepness of the
stairs, came formally to call upon his young divinity. The visit was
a great success. Mr. Yonowsky blossomed under the sun of Aaron's
deference and learning into an expansiveness which amazed his daughter,
and the men discussed the law, the scriptures, the election, the Czar,
nihilism, socialism, the tariff, and the theatre. But here Mr. Yonowsky
lapsed into gloom. He had not visited a theatre for seven years—not
since his wife's death.
"And Miss Leah?" Aaron questioned.
"Never, oh, never!" she breathed resignedly, yet so longingly that
Aaron then and there arranged that he and she and Mr. Yonowsky should
visit the Thalia Theatre on the following night. And Leah, with the
glad and new assurance that the boys were safe, fell into happy
devisings of a suitable array. When young Kastrinsky left after formal
and prescribed adieus to his hostess, he dragged his host out to listen
to a campaign speech.
During the weeks that followed, even Mr. Yonowsky came to see the sweet
uses of the Board of Health and to ponder long and deeply upon the
nature of the "taking sickness." No longer forced to do perpetual,
though ineffective, sentinel duty, he gradually resumed his place in
the world of men and spent placid evenings at the synagogue, the
Educational Alliance, the theatre, and the East Side Democratic Union.
Leah bore him company at the theatre when she might, and Aaron followed
Leah until parental pride swelled high under Mr. Yonowsky's green
Prince Albert coat. For well he saw the looks of admiration which were
turned upon his daughter as she sat by his side and consumed cold pink
He received two of the roundabout proposals which etiquette demands,
and began to gather a dowry for Leah and to recall extraordinary
outstanding securities to that end. But, before these things were
accomplished, his sons and his troubles returned upon him. With renewed
energy, stimulated imagination, and enriched profanity, "them Yonowsky
devils" came home, and their reign of mischief set in afresh.
They had always been unruly; they were utterly unmanageable now. Daily
was Leah summoned to the big red school-house by the long-suffering
Miss Bailey, and nightly was Mr. Yonowsky forced to cancel engagements
at club or synagogue and to stay at home to "explanation them boys"
to outraged neighbours.
Aaron could still control them, but he was never brought upstairs now.
How could Leah expect him to enjoy conversations carried on amid the
yells of Algernon and Percival in freedom, or their shrieks in durance?
The twins came home one noontime full of gossip and excitement. They
clamoured over their cabbage soup that a classmate of theirs, one
Isidore Belchatosky, had "a sickness—a taking sickness, what he took
from off his sister Sadie."
"Is it a bad sickness?" asked the father.
"Somethin' fierce!" Percival assured him. "Pimples stands on his face,
und he says he's got 'em everywheres, but I guess maybe he lies.
He says it's a chicken sickness what he has. Mit pimples everywheres!"
"You don't know no names from sicknesses," Algernon broke in
contemptuously. "It ain't the chicken sickness. It's the chicken puffs."
"Where is his house?" asked Leah eagerly. And she joyously despatched
the twins with kind inquiries and proffers to sit with the sufferer;
for had not the prophesying gentleman explained that there was no surer
way of attaining to hospital tickets than by speech and contact with
one who had already "arrived"? And Algernon and Percival, spurred on
by the allurement of the "pimples everywheres," pressed past all
barriers and outposts until they feasted their eyes upon the neatly
spotted Izzie, who proudly proved his boast of the "everywheres" and
the exceeding puffiness of the chicken puffs.
Two weeks later the little emissaries of love were in sorry case. The
"pimples everywheres" appeared, the ambulance reappeared, the twins
disappeared. The cleaning and polishing were resumed, Aaron invited
to supper, Mr. Yonowsky pledged to deliver a lecture on "The Southern
Negro and the Ballot," and a stew of the strongest elements set to
simmer on the stove.
Leah had learned the path to freedom and trod it with a light heart.
Algernon and Percival enjoyed a long succession of diseases, contagious
and infectious, and each attack meant a holiday of varying but always
of considerable length. Under ordinary conditions Leah might have been
forced to nurse her brothers through their less serious disorders, but
there was a butcher shop on the ground floor of the Yonowsky tenement,
and the by-laws of the Board of Health decreed that, such being the
case, the children should be removed for nearly all the ills to which
young and ill-nourished flesh is heir.
"Them Yonowsky devils" became only visitors to their native block, but
since they returned after each retirement more unruly and outrageous,
they were not deeply mourned. Only the butcher objected, because his
store was occasionally quarantined when Leah had achieved some very
virulent excuse for summoning the ambulance and shipping her
responsibilities. Mr. Yonowsky was puzzled but grateful, and Aaron was
Month after month went by and the twins had exhausted the lists of the
lecturer and had enjoyed several other ailments, when Leah and her
father went to bring them home from their typhoid-fever holiday.
"You've been having a hard time with these boys," the man at the desk
said kindly. "The worst luck I ever knew in the many years I've been
here. But they're all right now. They've had everything on the list
except water on the brain and elephantiasis, and they can't get them."
"But some what they had they could some more get," Leah suggested in
the English she so rarely used.
"I think not," the official answered cheeringly. "They hardly ever do.
No, I guess you'll be able to keep them at home now. Good luck to you!"
But it was bad luck, the worst of luck. Mr. Yonowsky's public spirit
died within his breast; Leah's coquetry vanished before a future
unrelieved by visits from the black and friendly ambulance, and when
Aaron climbed the well-known stairs that evening he heard, while he
was yet two floors short of his destination, the shrieks of the twins,
the smashing of crockery, and the grumbling of the neighbours. Suddenly
a little figure darted upon him and Leah was in his arms.
"Aaron," she sobbed. "Oh, Aaron, mine heart it breaks. There ain't no
more taking sicknesses in all the world. So says the gentleman."
"My golden one," said Aaron, who was a bit of a philosopher; "all good
things come to an end except only Love. And the twins have had taking
sicknesses in great and unheard-of numbers."
"But now they are more than ever bad. I can do nothing with them and
I am afraid of them. In hospitals, where one is very happy, one grows
very big, and the twins are no longer little boys."
"If you marry me—" Aaron began.
"You will love me always?"
"Yea, mine gold."
"And for me you will boss them twins?"
"Yea, verily, for thee I will boss the twins."
And the betrothal of Leah Yonowsky to Aaron Kastrinsky was signed and
A CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR A LADY
It was the week before Christmas, and the First-Reader Class had,
almost to a man, decided on the gifts to be lavished on "Teacher." She
was quite unprepared for any such observance on the part of her small
adherents, for her first study of the roll-book had shown her that its
numerous Jacobs, Isidores, and Rachels belonged to a class to which
Christmas Day was much as other days. And so she went serenely on her
way, all unconscious of the swift and strict relation between her
manner and her chances. She was, for instance, the only person in the
room who did not know that her criticism of Isidore Belchatosky's hands
and face cost her a tall "three for ten cents" candlestick and a plump
box of candy.
But Morris Mogilewsky, whose love for Teacher was far greater than the
combined loves of all the other children, had as yet no present to
bestow. That his "kind feeling" should be without proof when the lesser
loves of Isidore Wishnewsky, Sadie Gonorowsky, and Bertha Binderwitz
were taking the tangible but surprising forms which were daily exhibited
to his confidential gaze, was more than he could bear. The knowledge
saddened all his hours and was the more maddening because it could in
no wise be shared by Teacher, who noticed his altered bearing and tried
with all sorts of artful beguilements to make him happy and at ease.
But her efforts served only to increase his unhappiness and his love.
And he loved her! Oh, how he loved her! Since first his dreading eyes
had clung for a breath's space to her "like man's shoes" and had then
crept timidly upward past a black skirt, a "from silk" apron, a
red "jumper," and "from gold" chain to her "light face," she had been
mistress of his heart of hearts. That was more than three months ago.
And well he remembered the day!
His mother had washed him horribly, and had taken him into the big,
red school-house, so familiar from the outside, but so full of unknown
terrors within. After his dusty little shoes had stumbled over the
threshold he had passed from ordeal to ordeal until at last he was
torn in mute and white-faced despair from his mother's skirts.
He was then dragged through long halls and up tall stairs by a large
boy, who spoke to him disdainfully as "greenie," and cautioned him as
to the laying down softly and taking up gently of those poor dusty
shoes, so that his spirit was quite broken and his nerves were all
unstrung when he was pushed into a room full of bright sunshine and
of children who laughed at his frightened little face. The sunshine
smote his timid eyes, the laughter smote his timid heart, and he turned
to flee. But the door was shut, the large boy gone, and despair took
him for its own.
[Illustration: "MY POOR LITTLE CHAP, YOU MUSTN'T CRY LIKE, THAT"]
[Illustration: DISMISSED WITH THE COMMON HERD AT THREE O'CLOCK]
Down upon the floor he dropped, and wailed, and wept, and kicked. It
was then that he heard, for the first time the voice which now he
loved. A hand was forced between his aching body and the floor, and
the voice said: "Why, my dear little chap, you mustn't cry like that.
What's the matter?"
The hand was gentle and the question kind, and these, combined with
a faint perfume suggestive of drug stores and barber shops—but nicer
than either—made him uncover his hot little face. Kneeling beside him
was a lady, and he forced his eyes to that perilous ascent; from shoes
to skirt, from skirt to jumper, from jumper to face, they trailed in
dread uncertainty, but at the face they stopped. They had found—rest.
Morris allowed himself to be gathered into the lady's arms and held
upon her knee, and when his sobs no longer rent the very foundations
of his pink and wide-spread tie, he answered her question in a voice
as soft as his eyes, and as gently sad.
"I ain't so big, und I don't know where is my mamma."
So, having cast his troubles on the shoulders of the lady, he had added
his throbbing head to the burden, and from that safe retreat had enjoyed
his first day at school immensely.
Thereafter he had been the first to arrive every morning, and the last
to leave every afternoon; and under the care of Teacher, his liege
lady, he had grown in wisdom and love and happiness. But the greatest
of these was love. And now, when the other boys and girls were planning
surprises and gifts of price for Teacher, his hands were as empty as
his heart was full. Appeal to his mother met with denial prompt and
"For what you go und make, over Christmas, presents? You ain't no
Krisht; you should better have no kind feelings over Krishts, neither;
your papa could to have a mad."
"Teacher ain't no Krisht," said Morris stoutly; "all the other fellows
buys her presents, und I'm loving mit her too; it's polite I gives her
presents the while I'm got such a kind feeling over her."
"Well, we ain't got no money for buy nothings," said Mrs. Mogilewsky
sadly. "No money, und your papa, he has all times a scare he shouldn't
to get no more, the while the boss"—and here followed incomprehensible,
but depressing, financial details, until the end of the interview found
Morris and his mother sobbing and rocking in one another's arms. So
Morris was helpless, his mother poor, and Teacher all unknowing.
And the great day, the Friday before Christmas came, and the school
was, for the first half hour, quite mad. Doors opened suddenly and
softly to admit small persons, clad in wondrous ways and bearing
wondrous parcels. Room 18, generally so placid and so peaceful, was
a howling wilderness full of brightly coloured, quickly changing groups
of children, all whispering, all gurgling, and all hiding queer bundles.
A newcomer invariably caused a diversion; the assembled multitude,
athirst for novelty, fell upon him and clamoured for a glimpse of his
bundle and a statement of its price.
Teacher watched in dumb amaze. What could be the matter with the
children, she wondered. They could not have guessed the shrouded
something in the corner to be a Christmas-tree. What made them behave
so queerly, and why did they look so strange? They seemed to have grown
stout in a single night, and Teacher, as she noted this, marvelled
greatly. The explanation was simple, though it came in alarming form.
The sounds of revelry were pierced by a long, shrill yell, and a pair
of agitated legs sprang suddenly into view between two desks. Teacher,
rushing to the rescue, noted that the legs formed the unsteady stem
of an upturned mushroom of brown flannel and green braid, which she
recognized as the outward seeming of her cherished Bertha Binderwitz;
and yet, when the desks were forced to disgorge their prey, the legs
restored to their normal position were found to support a fat child—and
Bertha was best described as "skinny"—in a dress of the Stuart tartan
tastefully trimmed with purple. Investigation proved that Bertha's
accumulative taste in dress was an established custom. In nearly all
cases the glory of holiday attire was hung upon the solid foundation
of every-day clothes as bunting is hung upon a building. The habit was
economical of time, and produced a charming embonpoint.
Teacher, too, was more beautiful than ever. Her dress was blue, and
"very long down, like a lady," with bands of silk and scraps of lace
distributed with the eye of art. In her hair she wore a bow of what
Sadie Gonorowsky, whose father "worked by fancy goods," described as
black "from plush ribbon—costs ten cents."
Isidore Belchatosky, relenting, was the first to lay tribute before
Teacher. He came forward with a sweet smile and a tall candlestick—the
candy had gone to its long home—and Teacher, for a moment, could not
be made to understand that all that length of bluish-white china was
really hers "for keeps."
"It's to-morrow holiday," Isidore assured her; "and we gives you
presents, the while we have a kind feeling. Candlesticks could to cost
"It's a lie. Three for ten," said a voice in the background, but Teacher
hastened to respond to Isidore's test of her credulity:
"Indeed, they could. This candlestick could have cost fifty cents, and
it's just what I want. It is very good of you to bring me a present."
"You're welcome," said Isidore, retiring; and then, the ice being
broken, the First-Reader Class in a body rose to cast its gifts on
Teacher's desk, and its arms around Teacher's neck.
Nathan Horowitz presented a small cup and saucer; Isidore Applebaum
bestowed a large calendar for the year before last; Sadie Gonorowsky
brought a basket containing a bottle of perfume, a thimble, and a
bright silk handkerchief; Sarah Schrodsky offered a pen-wiper and a
yellow celluloid collar-button, and Eva Kidansky gave an elaborate
nasal douche, under the pleasing delusion that it was an atomizer.
Once more sounds of grief reached Teacher's ears. Rushing again to the
rescue, she threw open the door and came upon Woe personified. Eva
Gonorowsky, her hair in wildest disarray, her stocking fouled,
ungartered, and down-gyved to her ankle, appeared before her teacher.
She bore all the marks of Hamlet's excitement, and many more, including
a tear-stained little face and a gilt saucer clasped to a panting
"Eva, my dearest Eva, what's happened to you now?" asked Teacher,
for the list of ill-chances which had befallen this one of her charges
was very long. And Eva's wail was that a boy, a very big boy, had
stolen her golden cup "what I had for you by present," and had left
her only the saucer and her undying love to bestow.
Before Eva's sobs had quite yielded to Teacher's arts, Jacob Spitsky
pressed forward with a tortoise-shell comb of terrifying aspect and
hungry teeth, and an air showing forth a determination to adjust it
in its destined place. Teacher meekly bowed her head; Jacob forced his
offering into her long-suffering hair, and then retired with the
information, "Costs fifteen cents, Teacher," and the courteous
phrase—by etiquette prescribed—"Wish you health to wear it." He was
plainly a hero, and was heard remarking to less favoured admirers that
"Teacher's hair is awful softy, and smells off of perfumery."
Here a big boy, a very big boy, entered hastily. He did not belong to
Room 18, but he had long known Teacher. He had brought her a present;
he wished her a Merry Christmas. The present, when produced, proved
to be a pretty gold cup, and Eva Gonorowsky, with renewed emotion,
recognized the boy as her assailant and the cup as her property. Teacher
was dreadfully embarrassed; the boy not at all so. His policy was
simple and entire denial, and in this he persevered, even after Eva's
saucer had unmistakably proclaimed its relationship to the cup.
Meanwhile the rush of presentation went steadily on. Other cups and
saucers came in wild profusion. The desk was covered with them, and
their wrappings of purple tissue paper required a monitor's whole
attention. The soap, too, became urgently perceptible. It was of all
sizes, shapes and colours, but of uniform and dreadful power of perfumes
Teacher's eyes filled with tears—of gratitude—as each new piece or
box was pressed against her nose, and Teacher's mind was full of wonder
as to what she could ever do with all of it. Bottles of perfume vied
with one another and with the all-pervading soap until the air was
heavy and breathing grew labourious. But pride swelled the hearts of
the assembled multitude. No other Teacher had so many helps to the
toilet. None other was so beloved.
Teacher's aspect was quite changed, and the "blue long down like a
lady dress" was almost hidden by the offerings she had received. Jacob's
comb had two massive and bejewelled rivals in the "softy hair." The
front of the dress, where aching or despondent heads were wont to rest,
glittered with campaign buttons of American celebrities, beginning
with James G. Blaine and extending into modern history as far as Patrick
Divver, Admiral Dewey, and Captain Dreyfus. Outside the blue belt was
a white one, nearly clean, and bearing in "sure 'nough golden words"
the curt, but stirring, invitation, "Remember the Maine." Around the
neck were three chaplets of beads, wrought by chubby fingers and
embodying much love, while the waist-line was further adorned by tiny
and beribboned aprons. Truly, it was a day of triumph.
When the waste-paper basket had been twice filled with wrappings and
twice emptied; when order was emerging out of chaos; when the
Christmas-tree had been disclosed and its treasures distributed, a
timid hand was laid on Teacher's knee and a plaintive voice whispered,
"Say, Teacher, I got something for you;" and Teacher turned quickly
to see Morris, her dearest boy charge, with his poor little body showing
quite plainly between his shirt-waist buttons and through the gashes
he called pockets. This was his ordinary costume, and the funds of the
house of Mogilewsky were evidently unequal to an outer layer of finery.
"Now, Morris dear," said Teacher, "you shouldn't have troubled to get
me a present; you know you and I are such good friends that—"
"Teacher, yiss ma'an," Morris interrupted, in a bewitching and rising
inflection of his soft and plaintive voice. "I know you got a kind
feeling by me, and I couldn't to tell even how I got a kind feeling
by you. Only it's about that kind feeling I should give you a present.
I didn't"—with a glance at the crowded desk—"I didn't to have no
soap nor no perfumery, and my mamma she couldn't to buy none by the
store; but, Teacher, I'm got something awful nice for you by present."
"And what is it, deary?" asked the already rich and gifted young person.
"What is my new present?"
"Teacher, it's like this: I don't know; I ain't so big like I could
to know"—and, truly, God pity him! he was passing small—"it ain't
for boys—it's for ladies. Over yesterday on the night comes my papa
to my house, und he gives my mamma the present. Sooner she looks on
it, sooner she has a awful glad; in her eyes stands tears, und she
says, like that—out of Jewish—'Thanks,' un' she kisses my papa a
kiss. Und my papa, how he is polite! he says—out of Jewish
too—'You're welcome, all right,' un' he kisses my mamma a kiss. So
my mamma, she sets und looks on the present, und all the time she looks
she has a glad over it. Und I didn't to have no soap, so you could to
have the present."
"But did your mother say I might?"
"Teacher, no ma'an; she didn't say like that, und she didn't to say
not like that. She didn't to know. But it's for ladies, un' Ididn't to
have no soap. You could to look on it. It ain't for boys."
And here Morris opened a hot little hand and disclosed a tightly folded
pinkish paper. As Teacher read it he watched her with eager, furtive
eyes, dry and bright, until hers grew suddenly moist, when his promptly
followed suit. As she looked down at him, he made his moan once more:
"It's for ladies, und I didn't to have no soap."
"But, Morris, dear," cried Teacher unsteadily, laughing a little, and
yet not far from tears, "this is ever so much nicer than soap—a
thousand times better than perfume; and you're quite right, it is for
ladies, and I never had one in all my life before. I am so very
"You're welcome, all right. That's how my papa says; it's polite," said
Morris proudly. And proudly he took his place among the very
little boys, and loudly he joined in the ensuing song. For the rest
of that exciting day he was a shining point of virtue in the rest of
that confused class. And at three o'clock he was at Teacher's desk
again, carrying on the conversation as if there had been no
"Und my mamma," he said insinuatingly—"she kisses my papa a kiss."
"Well?" said Teacher.
"Well," said Morris, "you ain't never kissed me a kiss, und I seen how
you kissed Eva Gonorowsky. I'm loving mit you too. Why don't you never
kiss me a kiss?"
"Perhaps," suggested Teacher mischievously, "perhaps it ain't for
But a glance at her "light face," with its crown of surprising combs,
"Teacher, yiss ma'an; it's for boys," he cried as he felt her arms
about him, and saw that in her eyes, too, "stands tears."
"It's polite you kisses me a kiss over that for ladies' present."
Late that night Teacher sat in her pretty room—for she was,
unofficially, a greatly pampered young person—and reviewed her
treasures. She saw that they were very numerous, very touching, very
whimsical, and very precious. But above all the rest she cherished a
frayed and pinkish paper, rather crumpled and a little soiled. For it
held the love of a man and a woman and a little child, and the magic
of a home, for Morris Mogilewsky's Christmas present for ladies was
the receipt for a month's rent for a room on the top floor of a Monroe
LOVE AMONG THE BLACKBOARDS
An organized government requires a cabinet, and, during the first weeks
of her reign over Room 18, Miss Bailey set about providing herself
with aides and advisors. She made, naturally, some fatal and expensive
mistakes, as when she entrusted the class pencils to the care of one
of the Yonowsky twins who, promptly falling ill of scarlet fever and
imparting it to his brother, reduced the First-Reader Class to writing
with coloured chalk.
But gradually from the rank and file of candidates, from the
well-meaning but clumsy; from the competent but dishonest; from the
lazy and from the rash, she selected three loyal and devoted men to
share her task of ruling. They were Morris Mogilewsky, Prime Minister
and Monitor of the Gold-Fish Bowl; Nathan Spiderwitz, Councillor of
the Exchequer and Monitor of Window Boxes; and Patrick Brennan,
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces and Leader of the Line.
The members of this cabinet, finding themselves raised to such high
places by the pleasure of their sovereign, kept watchful eyes upon
her. For full well they knew that cruelest of all the laws of the Board
of Education, which decrees: "That the marriage of a female teacher
shall constitute resignation." This ruling had deprived them of a
Kindergarten teacher of transcendent charm and had made them as watchful
of Miss Bailey as a bevy of maiden aunts could have been. Losing her
they would lose love and power, and love and power are sweet.
Morris was the first to discover definite grounds for uneasiness. He
met his cherished Miss Bailey walking across Grand Street on a rainy
morning, and the umbrella which was protecting her beloved head was
held by a tall stranger in a long and baggy coat. After circling
incredulously about this tableau, Morris dashed off to report to his
colleagues. He found Patrick and Nathan in the midst of an exciting
game of craps, but his pattering feet warned them of danger, so they
pocketed their dice and turned to hear his news.
"Say," he panted; "I seen Teacher mit a man."
"No!" said Patrick, aghast.
"It's a lie!" cried Nathan; "it's a lie!"
"No; it's no lie," said Morris, with a sob half of breathlessness and
half of sorrow; "I seen her for sure. Und the man carries umbrellas
over her mit loving looks."
"Ah, g'wan," drawled Patrick; "you're crazy. You don't know what you're
"Sure do I," cried Morris. "I had once a auntie what was loving mit
a awful stylish salesman—he's now floorwalkers—und I see how they
"Well," said Patrick, "I had a sister Mary and she married the milkman,
so I know, too. But umbrellas doesn't mean much."
"But the loving looks," Morris insisted. "My auntie makes such looks
on the salesman—he's now floorwalkers—und sooner she marries mit
"Say, Patrick," suggested Nathan; "I'll tell you what to do. You ask
her if she's goin' to get married."
"Naw," said Patrick. "Let Morris ask her. She'd tell him before she'd
tell any of us. She's been soft on him ever since Christmas. Say,
Morris, do you hear? You've got to ask Teacher if she's going to get
"Oo-o-oh! I dassent. It ain't polite how you says," cried Morris in
his shocked little voice. "It ain't polite you asks like that.
"Well, you've got to do it, anyway," said Patrick darkly, "and you've
got to do it soon, and you've got to let us hear you."
"It's fierce," protested Morris, but he was overruled by the dominant
spirit of Patrick Brennan, that grandson of the kings of Munster and
son of the policeman on the beat. His opportunity found him on the
very next morning. Isidore Wishnewsky, the gentlest of gentle children,
came to school wearing his accustomed air of melancholy shot across
with a tender pride. His subdued "Good morning" was accompanied with
much strenuous exertion directed, apparently, to the removal and
exhibition of a portion of his spine. After much wriggling he paused
long enough to say:
"Teacher, what you think? I'm got a present for you," and then
recommenced his search in another layer of his many flannels. His
efforts being at length crowned with success, he drew forth and spread
before Teacher's admiring eyes a Japanese paper napkin.
"My sister," he explained. "She gets it to a weddinge."
"Oh, Isidore," cried the flattered Teacher; "it's very pretty, isn't
"Teacher—yiss ma'an," gurgled Isidore. "It's stylish. You could to
look on how stands birds on it and flowers. Mine sister she gives it
to me und I gives it to you. I don't need it. She gives me all
times something the while she's got such a kind feelin' over me. She
goes all times on weddinges. Most all her younge lady friends gettin'
married; ain't it funny?"
At the fateful word "married," the uneasy cabinet closed in about
Teacher. Their three pairs of eyes clung to her face as Isidore
"All gettin' married. Ain't it funny?"
"Well, no, dear," answered Teacher musingly. "You know nearly all young
ladies do it."
Patrick took a pin from Teacher's desk and kneeled to tie his
shoe-string. When he rose the point of the pin projected half an inch
beyond the frayed toe of his shoe, and he was armed. Morris was most
evidently losing courage—he was indeed trying to steal away when
Patrick pressed close beside him and held him to his post.
"Teacher," said Isidore suddenly, as a dreadful thought struck him, "be
you a lady or be you a girl?"
And Teacher, being of Hibernian ancestry, answered one question with
"Which do you think, Isidore?"
"Well," Isidore answered, "I don't know be you a forsure lady or be
you a forsure girl. You wears your hair so tucked up und your dress
so long down like you was a lady, but you laffs und tells us stories
like you was a girl. I don't know."
Clearly this was Morris's opening. Patrick pierced his soul with a
glance of scorn and simultaneously buried the pin in his quaking leg.
Thus encouraged, Morris rushed blindly into the conversation with:
"Say, Teacher, Miss Bailey, be you goin' to get married?" and then
dropped limply against her shoulder.
The question was not quite new to Teacher and, as she bestowed Morris
more comfortably on her knee, she pondered once again. She knew that,
for the present, her lines had fallen in very pleasant places, and she
felt no desire to change to pastures new. And yet—and yet—. The
average female life is long, and a Board, however thoughtful as to
salary and pension, is an impersonal lord and master, and remote withal.
So she answered quite simply, with her cheek against the boy's:
"Well, perhaps so, Morris. Perhaps I shall, some day."
"Teacher, no ma'an, Miss Bailey!" wailed the Monitor of the Gold-Fish.
"Don't you go and get married mit nobody. So you do you couldn't be
Teacher by us no more, and you're a awful nice teacher by little boys.
You ain't too big. Und say, we'd feel terrible bad the while you goes
and gets married mit somebody—terrible bad."
"Should you really, now?" asked Teacher, greatly pleased. "Well, dear,
I too should be lonely without you."
Here Isidore Wishnewsky, who considered this conversation as his
cherished own, and saw it being torn from him, determined to outdo the
favoured Morris as a squire of dames.
"Teacher, yiss ma'an," he broke in. "We'd all feel terrible the while
we ain't got you by teacher. All the boys und all the girls they says
like this—it's the word in the yard—we ain't never had a teacher
smells so nice like you."
While Teacher was in the lenient mood, resulting from this astounding
tribute, Nathan forged yet another chain for her securing.
"Teacher," said he, "you wouldn't never go and get married mit nobody
'out saying nothing to somebody, would you?"
"Indeed, no, my dear," Miss Bailey assured him. "When I marry, you and
Patrick and Morris shall be ushers—monitors, you know. Now are you
happy, you funny little chaps?"
"Teacher, yiss ma'an," Morris sighed, as the bell rang sharply, and
the aloof and formal exercise of the assembly room began.
Some days later Teacher arranged to go to a reception, and as she did
not care to return to her home between work and play, she appeared at
school in rather festive array. Room 18 was delighted with its
transformed ruler, but to the board of monitors this glory of raiment
brought nothing but misery. Every twist in the neat coiffure, every
fold of the pretty dress, every rustle of the invisible silk, every
click of the high heels, meant the coming abdication of Teacher and
the disbanding of her cabinet. Just so had Patrick's sister Mary looked
on the day she wed the milkman. Just such had been the outward aspect
of Morris's auntie on the day of her union to the promising young
salesman who was now a floorwalker and Morris's Uncle Ikey.
Momentarily they expected some word of farewell—perhaps even an
ice-cream party—but Teacher made no sign. They decided that she was
reserving her last words for their private ear and were greatly
disconcerted to find themselves turned out with the common herd at
three o'clock. With heavy hearts they followed the example of Mary's
little lamb and waited patiently about till Teacher did appear. When
she came she was more wonderful than ever, in a long and billowy boa
and a wide and billowy hat. She had seemed in a breathless hurry while
up in Room 18, but now she stood quite placidly in a group of her small
adherents on the highest of the school-house steps. And the cabinet,
waiting gloomily apart, only muttered, "I told ye so," and "It must
be a awful kind feeling," when the tall stranger came swinging upon
the scene. When Teacher's eyes fell upon him she began to force her
way through her clinging court, and when he was half way up the steps
she was half way down. As they met he drew from his pocket a hand and
the violets it held and Teacher was still adjusting the flowers in her
jacket when she passed her lurking staff. "I didn't expect you at all,"
she was saying. "You know it was not a really definite arrangement,
and men hate receptions."
A big voice replied in a phrase which Morris identified as having been
prominent in the repertoire of the enamoured salesman—now a
floorwalker—and Teacher with her companion turned to cross the street.
Her heels clicked for yet a moment and the deserted cabinet knew that
all was over.
The gloom obscuring Patrick's spirit on that evening was of so deep
a dye that Mrs. Brennan diagnosed it as the first stage of "a
consumption." She administered simple remedies and warm baths with
perseverance, but without effect. And more potent to cure than bath
or bottle was the sight of Teacher on the next morning in her accustomed
clothes and place.
The Board of Monitors had hardly recovered from this panic when another
alarming symptom appeared. Miss Bailey began to watch for letters, and
large envelopes began to reward her watchfulness. Daily was Patrick
sent to the powers that were to demand a letter, and daily he carried
one, and a sorely heavy heart, back to his sovereign. In exactly the
same sweetly insistent way had he been sent many a time and oft to
seek tidings of the laggard milkman. His colleagues, when he laid these
facts before them, were of the opinion that things looked very dark
for Teacher. Said Nathan:
"You know how she says we should be monitors on her weddinge? Well,
it could to be lies. She marries maybe already."
Patrick promptly knocked the Monitor of Window Boxes down upon the
rough asphalt of the yard and kicked him.
"Miss Bailey's no sneak," he cried hotly. "If she was married she'd
just as lief go and tell."
"Well," Morris began, "I had once a auntie—"
"Your auntie makes me sick," snapped Patrick. But Morris went on quite
"I had once a auntie und she had awful kind feelings over a stylish
floorwalker, und he was loving mit her. So-o-oh! They marries! Und
they don't say nothings to nobody. On'y the stylish floor walker he
writes on my auntie whole bunches of lovin' letters."
"She ain't married," Patrick reiterated. "She ain't."
"Well, she will be," muttered Nathan vindictively. "Und the new teacher
will lick you the while you fights. It's fierce how you make me biles
on my bones. Think shame."
When the ruffled Monitor of the Window Boxes had been soothed by the
peaceful Guardian of the Gold-Fish, the cabinet held council. Nathan
suggested that it might be possible to bribe the interloper. They would
give him their combined wealth and urge him to turn his eyes upon Miss
Blake, whose room was across the hall. She was very big and would do
excellently well for him, whereas she was entirely too long and too
wide for them.
Morris maintained that Teacher might be held by gratitude. A list
should be made out, and, each in turn, a child a day, should give her
Patrick listened to these ideas in deep and restive disgust. He urged
instant and copious bloodshed. His big brother's gang could "let
daylight into the dude" with enjoyment and despatch. They would watch
him ceaselessly and they would track him down.
The watching was an easy matter, for Teacher, in common with the
majority of rulers, lived much in the public eye. The stranger was
often detected prowling in her vicinity. He even began to bring her
to school in the mornings, and on these occasions there were always
violets in her coat. He used to appear at luncheon time and vanish
with her. He used to come in the afternoon and have tea in Room 18
with two other teachers and with Teacher. The antagonism of the Monitor
of Gold Fish became so marked that Miss Bailey was forced to
"Morris, dear," she began one afternoon, when they were alone together,
"you were very rude to Doctor Ingraham yesterday. I can't allow you
to stay here with me if you're going to behave so badly. You sulked
horribly and you slammed the door against his foot. Of course it was
an accident, but how would you feel, Morris, if you had hurt him?"
"Glad," said the Monitor of the Gold-Fish savagely. "Glad."
"Morris! What do you mean by saying such a thing? I'm ashamed of you.
Why should you want to hurt a friend of mine?"
"Don't you be friends mit him!" cried Morris, deserting his fish and
throwing himself upon his teacher. "Don't you do it, Teacher Missis
Bailey. He ain't no friends for a lady." And then, in answer to
Teacher's stare of blank surprise, he went on:
"My mamma she seen him by your side und she says—I got to tell you
in whispering how she says."
Teacher bent her head and Morris whispered in an awe-struck voice:
"My mamma says she like that: 'He could to be a Krisht,'" and then
drew back to study Teacher's consternation. But she seemed quite calm.
Perhaps she had already faced the devastating fact, for she said:
"Yes, I know he's a Christian. I'm not afraid of them. Are you?"
"Teacher, no ma'an, Missis Bailey, I ain't got no scare over Krishts,
on'y they ain't no friends for ladies. My papa says like that on my
auntie, und my auntie she's married now mit a stylish floorwalker.
We'm got a Krisht in our house for boarder, so I know. But you
couldn't to know 'bout Krishts."
"Yes, I do. They're very nice people."
"No ma'an," said Morris gently. And then still more courteously: "It's
a lie. You couldn't to know about Krishts."
"But I do know all about them, Morris dear. I'm a Christian."
Again Morris remembered his manners. Again he replied in his courtly
"It's a lie." As he said it, with a bewitching rising inflection, it
was almost a caress. "It's a lie. Teacher fools. You couldn't to be
no Krisht. You ain't got no looks off of Krishts."
Teacher was mildly surprised. She was as Irish as Patrick Brennan and,
in her own way, she looked it. Truly her eyes were brown, but the face
and the faith of her fathers were still strongly hers. Morris,
meanwhile, examined his sovereign with admiring eyes. He could well
understand the heart of that Krisht, for Teacher was very beautiful
and of splendid array. Her jumper was red, with golden buttons, and
her collar was white, and her hair was soft, with combs. And she had
a light face and a little bit of nose and teeth. Her apron was from
silk with red ribbons and red flowers, and she had like man's-shoes and
a watch. This vision of feminine perfection was bestowing time and
smiles on him. She was actually appealing to his judgment.
"Not look like a Christian?" she was saying. "Well, then, Morris, what
do I look like?"
And Morris, ever going straight to the point, replied: "You looks like
a stylish Sheeny," and waited for this intoxicating praise to bring
blushes to the light face he loved. It brought the blushes, but they
were even redder and hotter than he had expected. There was also a
gasp on which he had not counted and a queer flash in the brown eyes.
"Morris," said Teacher, "Morris, did you ever see a Sheeny with a nose
Morris raised his head from the red jumper, climbed off the from-silk
apron and solemnly contemplated the little bit of nose. The truth broke
over him in sickening waves. The star of his life had set; his doll
was stuffed with sawdust; his idol had feet of clay; his light-faced
lady was a Christian. And yet she was his teacher and greatly to be
loved, so he bore the knowledge, for her dear sake, as bravely as he
could. He returned to the from-silk apron, wound a short arm round the
white collar, and sobbed:
"Teacher, yiss ma'an, you'm got a Krisht nose. But don't you care, no
one couldn't never to know like you ain't a for sure Sheeny the while
you got such terrible Sheeny eyes. Oh, but they couldn't never to think
you're a Krisht. Und say, don't you have a frightened. I wouldn't never
to tell nobody. Never. I makes a swear over it. I kiss up to God. I
hopes I drops down if I tells."
At the end of a month the high heels and the festive raiment appeared
again, and the staff knew that the time for action had really come.
They must bring the Krisht to terms before he should see Teacher in
her present and irresistible array. He was always first at the trysting
place, and there they would have speech with him. They arranged to
escape from Room 18 before three o'clock. The Commander-in-Chief feigned
a nose-bleed, the Prime Minister developed an inward agony, and the
Chancellor of the Exchequer, after some moments of indecision, boldly
plucked out a tottering tooth and followed—bloody but triumphant—in
their wake. They found the enemy just as they had expected, and Morris,
being again elected spokesman, stepped forward and took him by his
dastard hand. The adversary yielded, thinking that Teacher had been
forced to greater caution. The Commander-in-Chief and the Chancellor
followed close behind, they having consented, in view of the enormous
issues involved, to act as scouts. Around the corner they went into
a dark and narrow alley, and, when they had reached a secluded spot
between the high wall of the school and the blank windows of a recently
burned tenement house, Morris began:
"Teacher don't wants to go on the party mit you the while she ain't
got no more that kind feeling over you."
"What?" cried the astonished Doctor Ingraham.
"She don't wants to be married mit you."
"Did Miss Bailey send you with any message to me?"
The question was so fierce that the truth was forced from the unwilling
lips of the spokesman.
"No ma'an—no sir," they faltered. "On'y that's the feeling what she
had. Und so you go away now 'out seeing Teacher, me und the other
fellows we gives you FIVE cents."
The cabinet drew near to hear the answer to this suggestion. It puzzled
"Now, look here, boy," said Doctor Ingraham, "you'd better go home and
get to bed. You aren't well."
Morris conferred with his colleagues and returned with:
"We gives you SEVEN cents so you go home now 'out seeing Teacher. A
nickel und two pennies so you go now. Und say, Miss Blake could
to go by your side. She has kind feelings over you."
"Nonsense," said the man. "When will your teacher be down?"
"She ain't coming at all. She has no more feelings. So you goes now
we gives you a dime and a penny. ELEVEN cents. We ain't got it; on'y
we could to get. Teacher gives me all times pennies."
Just as the stranger was wondering how much of truth these extraordinary
children knew, Teacher, calm-eyed and unruffled, appeared upon the
scene. She said, as she generally did:
"Doctor Ingraham! Who would have thought to find you here!" And then,
"Are you talking to my little people? They are the cleverest little
things, and such friends of mine. Morris here and I are the greatest
Teacher's manner, as she began her greeting, was serene and bright,
but a gloomy, even a morose, glance from Doctor Ingraham's cold blue
eye quite changed her. His voice too, considered as the voice of love,
sounded sulkily as he said:
"So it seems. He has given me an answer which you refused me."
"How generous of Morris and how thoughtful! He's always trying to save
me trouble. And the question, now, to which the answer belonged. May
one know that?"
"You know it well enough," with a glance up and down the deserted
alley, for even Patrick had realized that discretion is the better
part of statesmanship.
"Oh that" said Teacher. "And Morris's answer?"
"They really are the cleverest children."
"Little brutes! I can't think why you come down here every day. The
brats aren't in the least grateful."
"But they are. They think me perfection."
"That is the contagion of mental states."
"And they're not fond of you."
"That's it again, I suppose." And, as Teacher made no sign of having
heard, he went on: "Tea, do you know, is a dreadful bore."
"Of course, but cold tea is worse. And the cakes are so shattered
towards the end. Come."
"I've changed my mind. I'm not going. I'm tired of this sort of thing.
Answer me now."
"But the children," faltered Teacher. "I should miss them so."
At this sign of weakening Doctor Ingraham favoured the queer old street
with a tableau to which it long had been a stranger. And the cabinet,
creeping back to reconnoitre, immediately guessed the worst. Said
"She's lovin' mit him und he's loving mit her. They've got loving
looks. I had once a auntie—"
This was too much for the torn spirit of the Leader of the Line. He
laid violent hands—and feet—upon the Monitor of Gold Fish. The Monitor
of Window Boxes promptly followed suit. Morris's prolonged yell of
agonized surprise brought Teacher flying to the rescue. And Teacher
brought Doctor Ingraham. While the latter held and restrained Patrick
and Nathan, Miss Bailey lavished endearments and caresses on her
favourite. The captor grew as restless as his captives under this
aggravation, and at last allowed his charges to escape.
"Look here!" he remonstrated; "I can't stand this sort of thing, you
know. It's cruel."
But Teacher's ears were all for Morris's tale of sorrow.
"I don't know what is mit Patrick," he was saying. "He hits me a hack
somethin' fierce sooner I says about mine auntie. Und Nathan, too, is
bad boys. He says you lies."
"I?" said Teacher; "I?"
"Yiss ma'an, that's how he says. On'y I know you don't lies. I know
we should be monitors like you says."
"On your weddinge. You know you says me, und Patrick, und Nathan,
should be monitors on your weddinge when you marries mit him." And
Morris stretched a pointing finger at the foe. After one radiant glance
at Teacher's face, Doctor Ingraham possessed himself of the scrubby
hand and shook it warmly.
"And so you shall, old chap," he cried, "so you shall. You may be best
man if you so desire. Anything you like."
"New clothes?" asked Morris.
"From stem to stern."
"Paper napkins mit birds?"
"Can I mine little sister bring?"
"A dozen little sisters if you have them."
"Can I go in a carriage, down and up? It's stylish."
"You shall have a parade of carriages—one for each sister."
"Morris," commanded Miss Bailey, "go home."
When she turned to confront Doctor Ingraham the "light face" was
brightly pink and the "terrible Sheeny eyes" held a mixture of
embarrassment and anger.
"Of course I can't explain this," she said. "I must simply ask you to
believe that he is making a dreadful mistake. You were quite right
when you said they were ungrateful little brutes. They are. You were
quite right, too, about teas being a bore. They are. So you will pardon
me if I go to see little Leah Yonowsky. The twins are reported ill
again. Good afternoon."
It was a very rueful and disgusted enemy that the cabinet discerned
in the offing.
"Good Lord!" cried the Commander-in-Chief. "Here he comes again, and
Miss Bailey ain't with him."
"Morris," said the enemy, "you've done for me, my boy."
"Won't she go by your side on the party?" asked the Prime Minister.
"She will not," admitted the hostile power. "So you may as well trot
out Miss Blake and begin to collect my eleven cents. For, though you
may not have discovered it—and there be those who doubt it—a ten-cent
cigar's a smoke."
MORRIS AND THE HONOURABLE TIM
On the first day of school, after the Christmas holidays, Teacher found
herself surrounded by a howling mob of little savages in which she had
much difficulty in recognizing her cherished First-Reader Class. Isidore
Belchatosky's face was so wreathed in smiles and foreign matter as to
be beyond identification; Nathan Spiderwitz had placed all his trust
in a solitary suspender and two unstable buttons; Eva Kidansky had
entirely freed herself from restraining hooks and eyes; Isidore
Applebaum had discarded shoe-laces; and Abie Ashnewsky had bartered
his only necktie for a yard of "shoe-string" licorice.
Miss Bailey was greatly disheartened by this reversion to the original
type. She delivered daily lectures on nail-brushes, hair-ribbons, shoe
polish, pins, buttons, elastic, and other means to grace. Her talks
on soap and water became almost personal in tone, and her insistence
on a close union between such garments as were meant to be united, led
to a lively traffic in twisted and disreputable safety-pins. And yet
the First-Reader Class, in all other branches of learning so receptive
and responsive, made but halting and uncertain progress towards
thatstate of virtue which is next to godliness.
Early in January came the report that "Gum Shoe Tim" was on the war-path
and might be expected at any time. Miss Bailey heard the tidings in
calm ignorance until Miss Blake, who ruled over the adjoining kingdom,
interpreted the warning. A license to teach in the public schools of
New York is good for only one year. Its renewal depends upon the reports
of the Principal in charge of the school and of the Associate
Superintendent in whose district the school chances to be. After three
such renewals the license becomes permanent, but Miss Bailey was, as
a teacher, barely four months old. The Associate Superintendent for
her vicinity was the Honourable Timothy O'Shea, known and dreaded as
"Gum Shoe Tim," owing to his engaging way of creeping softly up back
stairs and appearing, all unheralded and unwelcome, upon the threshold
of his intended victim.
This, Miss Blake explained, was in defiance of all the rules of
etiquette governing such visits of inspection. The proper procedure
had been that of Mr. O'Shea's predecessor, who had always given timely
notice of his coming and a hint as to the subjects in which he intended
to examine the children. Some days later he would amble from room to
room, accompanied by the amiable Principal, and followed by the
gratitude of smiling and unruffled teachers.
This kind old gentleman was now retired and had been succeeded by Mr.
O'Shea, who, in addition to his unexpectedness, was adorned by an
abominable temper, an overbearing manner, and a sense of cruel humour.
He had almost finished his examinations at the nearest school where,
during a brisk campaign of eight days, he had caused five dismissals,
nine cases of nervous exhaustion, and an epidemic of hysteria.
Day by day nerves grew more tense, tempers more unsure, sleep and
appetite more fugitive. Experienced teachers went stolidly on with the
ordinary routine while beginners devoted time and energy to the more
spectacular portions of the curriculum. But no one knew the Honourable
Timothy's pet subjects and so no one could specialize to any great
Miss Bailey was one of the beginners, and Room 18 was made to shine
as the sun. Morris Mogilewsky, Monitor of the Gold-Fish Bowl, wrought
busily until his charges glowed redly against the water plants in their
shining bowl. Creepers crept, plants grew, and ferns waved under the
care of Nathan Spiderwitz, Monitor of the Window Boxes. There was such
a martial swing and strut in Patrick Brennan's leadership of the line
that it informed even the timid heart of Isidore Wishnewsky with a
war-like glow and his feet with a spasmodic but well-meant tramp. Sadie
Gonorowsky and Eva, her cousin, sat closely side by side, no longer
"mad on theirselves," but "mit kind feelings." The work of the preceding
term was laid in neat and docketed piles upon the low book-case. The
children were enjoined to keep clean and entire. And Teacher, a nervous
and unsmiling Teacher, waited dully.
A week passed thus, and then the good-hearted and experienced Miss
Blake hurried ponderously across the hall to put Teacher on her guard.
"I've just had a note from one of the grammar teachers," she panted.
"'Gum Shoe Tim' is up in Miss Greene's room. He'll take this floor
next. Now, see here, child, don't look so frightened. The Principle
is with Tim. Of course you're nervous, but try not to show it. And
you'll be all right, his lay is discipline and reading. Well, good
luck to you!"
Miss Bailey took heart of grace. The children read surprisingly well,
were absolutely good, and the enemy under convoy of the friendly
Principal would be much less terrifying than the enemy at large and
alone. It was, therefore, with a manner almost serene that she turned
to greet the kindly concerned Principal and the dreaded "Gum Shoe Tim."
The latter she found less ominous of aspect than she had been led to
fear, and the Principal's charming little speech of introduction made
her flush with quick pleasure. And the anxious eyes of Sadie Gonorowsky,
noting the flush, grew calm as Sadie whispered to Eva, her close cousin:
"Say, Teacher has a glad. She's red on the face. It could to be her
"No. It's comp'ny," answered Eva sagely. "It ain't her papa. It's
comp'ny the whiles Teacher takes him by the hand."
The children were not in the least disconcerted by the presence of the
large man. They always enjoyed visitors and they liked the heavy gold
chain which festooned the wide white waistcoat of this guest; and,
asthey watched him, the Associate Superintendent began to superintend.
He looked at the children all in their clean and smiling rows: he
looked at the flowers and the gold fish; at the pictures and the plaster
casts: he looked at the work of the last term and he looked at Teacher.
As he looked he swayed gently on his rubber heels and decided that he
was going to enjoy the coming quarter of an hour. Teacher pleased him
from the first. She was neither old nor ill-favoured, and she was most
evidently nervous. The combination appealed both to his love of power
and his peculiar sense of humour. Settling deliberately in the chair
of state, he began:
"Can the children sing, Miss Bailey?"
They could sing very prettily and they did.
"Very nice, indeed," said the voice of visiting authority. "Very nice.
Their music is exceptionally good. And are they drilled? Children,
will you march for me?"
Again they could and did. Patrick marshaled his line in time and triumph
up and down the aisles to the evident interest and approval of the
"comp'ny," and then Teacher led the class through some very energetic
Swedish movements. While arms and bodies were bending and straightening
at Teacher's command and example, the door opened and a breathless boy
rushed in. He bore an unfolded note and, as Teacher had no hand to
spare, the boy placed the paper on the desk under the softening eyes
of the Honourable Timothy, who glanced down idly and then pounced upon
the note and read its every word.
"For you, Miss Bailey," he said in the voice before which even the
school janitor had been known to quail. "Your friend was thoughtful,
though a little late." And poor palpitating Miss Bailey read.
"Watch out! 'Gum Shoe Tim' is in the building. The Principal caught
him on the back stairs and they're going round together. He's as cross
as a bear. Greene in dead faint in dressing-room. Says he's going to
fire her. Watch out for him, and send the news on. His lay is reading
Miss Bailey grew cold with sick and unreasoning fear. As she gazed
wide-eyed at the living confirmation of the statement that "Gum Shoe
Tim" was "as cross as a bear," the gentle-hearted Principal took the
paper from her nerveless grasp.
"It's all right," he assured her. "Mr. O'Shea understands that you had
no part in this. It's all right. You are not responsible."
But Teacher had no ears for his soothing. She could only watch with
fascinated eyes as the Honourable Timothy reclaimed the note and wrote
across it's damning face: "Miss Greene may come to. She is not
"Here, boy," he called; "take this to your teacher." The puzzled
messenger turned to obey, and the Associate Superintendent saw that
though his dignity had suffered his power had increased. To the list
of those whom he might, if so disposed, devour, he had now added the
name of the Principal, who was quick to understand that an unpleasant
investigation lay before him. If Miss Bailey could not be held
responsible for this system of inter-classroom communication, it was
clear that the Principal could.
Every trace of interest had left Mr. O'Shea's voice as he asked:
"Can they read?"
"Oh, yes, they read," responded Teacher, but her spirit was crushed
and the children reflected her depression. Still, they were marvellously
good and that blundering note had said, "Discipline is his lay." Well,
here he had it.
There was one spectator of this drama, who, understanding no word nor
incident therein, yet missed no shade of the many emotions which had
stirred the light face of his lady. Towards the front of the room sat
Morris Mogilewsky, with every nerve tuned to Teacher's, and with an
appreciation of the situation in which the other children had no share.
On the afternoon of one of those dreary days of waiting for the evil
which had now come, Teacher had endeavoured to explain the nature and
possible result of this ordeal to her favourite. It was clear to him
now that she was troubled, and he held the large and unaccustomed
presence of the comp'ny mit whiskers responsible. Countless generations
of ancestors had followed and fostered the instinct which now led
Morris to propitiate an angry power. Luckily, he was prepared with an
offering of a suitable nature. He had meant to enjoy it for yet a few
days, and then to give it to Teacher. She was such a sensible person
about presents. One might give her one's most cherished possession
with a brave and cordial heart, for on each Friday afternoon she
returned the gifts she had received during the week. And this with no
abatement of gratitude.
Morris rose stealthily, crept forward, and placed a bright blue
bromo-seltzer bottle in the fat hand which hung over the back of the
chair of state. The hand closed instinctively as, with dawning
curiosity, the Honourable Timothy studied the small figure at his side.
It began in a wealth of loosely curling hair which shaded a delicate
face, very pointed as to chin and monopolized by a pair of dark eyes,
sad and deep and beautiful. A faded blue "jumper" was buttoned tightly
across the narrow chest; frayed trousers were precariously attached
to the "jumper," and impossible shoes and stockings supplemented the
trousers. Glancing from boy to bottle, the "comp'ny mit whiskers"
"What's this for?"
"What's in it?"
Mr. O'Shea removed the cork and proceeded to draw out incredible
quantities of absorbent cotton. When there was no more to come, a faint
tinkle sounded within the blue depths, and Mr. O'Shea, reversing the
bottle, found himself possessed of a trampled and disfigured sleeve
link of most palpable brass.
"It's from gold," Morris assured him. "You puts it in your—'scuse
me—shirt. Wish you health to wear it."
"Thank you," said the Honourable Tim, and there was a tiny break in
the gloom which had enveloped him. And then, with a quick memory of
the note and of his anger:
"Miss Bailey, who is this young man?"
And Teacher, of whose hobbies Morris was one, answered warmly: "That
is Morris Mogilewsky, the best of boys. He takes care of the gold-fish,
and does all sorts of things for me. Don't you, dear?"
"Teacher, yiss ma'an," Morris answered.
"I'm lovin' much mit you. I gives presents on the company over you."
"Aint he rather big to speak such broken English?" asked Mr. O'Shea.
"I hope you remember that it is part of your duty to stamp out the
"Yes, I know," Miss Bailey answered. "But Morris has been in America
for so short a time. Nine months, is it not?"
"Teacher, yiss ma'an. I comes out of Russia," responded Morris, on the
verge of tears and with his face buried in Teacher's dress.
Now Mr. O'Shea had his prejudices—strong and deep. He had been given
jurisdiction over that particular district because it was his native
heath, and the Board of Education considered that he would be more in
sympathy with the inhabitants than a stranger. The truth was absolutely
the reverse. Because he had spent his early years in a large old house
on East Broadway, because he now saw his birthplace changed to a squalid
tenement, and the happy hunting grounds of his youth grown ragged and
foreign—swarming with strange faces and noisy with strange tongues—Mr.
O'Shea bore a sullen grudge against the usurping race.
He resented the caressing air with which Teacher held the little hand
placed so confidently within her own and he welcomed the opportunity
of gratifying his still ruffled temper and his racial antagonism at
the same time. He would take a rise out of this young woman about her
little Jew. She would be comforted later on. Mr. O'Shea rather fancied
himself in the role of comforter, when the sufferer was neither old
nor ill-favoured. And so he set about creating the distress which he
would later change to gratitude and joy. Assuredly the Honourable
Timothy had a well-developed sense of humour.
"His English is certainly dreadful," remarked the voice of authority,
and it was not an English voice, nor is O'Shea distinctively an English
name. "Dreadful. And, by the way, I hope you are not spoiling these
youngsters. You must remember that you are fitting them for the battle
of life. Don't coddle your soldiers. Can you reconcile your present
attitude with discipline?"
"With Morris—yes," Teacher answered. "He is gentle and tractable
"Well, I hope you're right," grunted Mr. O'Shea "but don't coddle
And so the incident closed. The sleeve link was tucked, before Morris's
yearning eyes, into the reluctant pocket of the wide white waistcoat,
and Morris returned to his place. He found his reader and the proper
page, and the lesson went on with brisk serenity: real on the children's
part, but bravely assumed on Teacher's. Child after child stood up;
read; sat down again; and it came to be the duty of Bertha Binderwitz
to read the entire page of which the others had each read a line. She
began jubilantly, but soon stumbled, hesitated, and wailed: "Stands
a fierce word. I don't know what it is," and Teacher turned to write
the puzzling word upon the blackboard.
Morris's heart stopped with a sickening suddenness and then rushed
madly on again. He had a new and dreadful duty to perform. All his
mother's counsel, all his father's precepts told him that it was his
duty. Yet fear held him in his little seat behind his little desk,
while his conscience insisted on this unalterable decree of the social
code: "So somebody's clothes is wrong it's polite you says 'scuse' und
tells it out."
And here was Teacher whom he dearly loved, whose ideals of personal
adornment extended to full sets of buttons on jumpers and to laces in
both shoes, here was his immaculate lady fair in urgent need of
assistance and advice, and all because she had on that day inaugurated
a delightfully vigorous exercise for which, architecturally, she was
There was yet room for hope that some one else would see the breach
and brave the danger. But no. The visitor sat stolidly in the chair
of state, the Principal sat serenely beside him, the children sat each
in his own little place, behind his own little desk, keeping his own
little eyes on his own little book. No. Morris's soul cried with
"The time is out of joint;—O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!"
Up into the quiet air went his timid hand. Teacher, knowing him in his
more garrulous moods, ignored the threatened interruption of Bertha's
spirited resume, but the windmill action of the little arm attracted
the Honourable Tim's attention.
"The best of boys wants you," he suggested, and Teacher perforce asked:
"Well, Morris, what is it?"
Not until he was on his feet did the Monitor of the Gold-Fish Bowl,
appreciate the enormity of the mission he had undertaken. The other
children began to understand, and watched his struggle for words and
breath with sympathy or derision, as their natures prompted. But there
are no words in which one may politely mention ineffective safety-pins
to one's glass of fashion. Morris's knees trembled queerly, his
breathing grew difficult, and Teacher seemed a very great way off as
she asked again:
"Well, what is it, dear?"
Morris panted a little, smiled weakly, and then sat down. Teacher was
evidently puzzled, the "Comp'ny" alert, the Principal uneasy.
"Now, Morris," Teacher remonstrated, "you must tell me what you want."
But Morris had deserted his etiquette and his veracity, and murmured
"Just wanted to be noticed," said the Honourable Tim. "It is easy to
spoil them." And he watched the best of boys rather closely, for a
habit of interrupting reading lessons, wantonly and without reason,
was a trait in the young of which he disapproved.
When this disapprobation manifested itself in Mr. O'Shea's countenance,
the loyal heart of Morris interpreted it as a new menace to his
sovereign. No later than yesterday she had warned them of the vital
importance of coherence. "Every one knows," she had said, "that only
common little boys and girls come apart. No one ever likes them," and
the big stranger was even now misjudging her.
Again his short arm agitated the quiet air. Again his trembling legs
upheld a trembling boy. Again authority urged. Again Teacher asked:
"Well, Morris, what is it, dear?"
All this was as before, but not as before was poor harassed Miss
Bailey's swoop down the aisle, her sudden taking of Morris's troubled
little face between her soft hands, the quick near meeting with her
kind eyes, the note of pleading in her repetition:
"What do you want, Morris?"
He was beginning to answer when it occurred to him that the truth might
make her cry. There was an unsteadiness about her upper lip which
seemed to indicate the possibility. Suddenly he found that he no longer
yearned for words in which to tell her of her disjointment, but for
something else—anything else—to say.
His miserable eyes escaped from hers and wandered to the wall in
desperate search for conversation. There was no help in the pictures,
no inspiration in the plaster casts, but on the blackboard he read,
"Tuesday, January twenty-first, 1902." Only the date, but he must make
it serve. With Teacher close beside him, with the hostile eye of the
Honourable Tim upon him, hedged round about by the frightened or
admiring regard of the First-Reader Class, Morris blinked rapidly,
swallowed resolutely, and remarked:
"Teacher, this year's Nineteen-hundred-and-two," and knew that all was
The caressing clasp of Teacher's hands grew into a grip of anger. The
countenance of Mr. O'Shea took on the beatified expression of the
prophet who has found honour and verification in his own country.
"The best of boys has his off days and this is one of them," he
"Morris," said Teacher, "did you stop a reading lesson to tell me that?
Do you think I don't know what the year is? I'm ashamed of you."
Never had she spoken thus. If the telling had been difficult to Morris
when she was "glad on him," it was impossible now that she was a prey
to such evident "mad feelings." And yet he must make some explanation.
So he murmured: "Teacher, I tells you 'scuse. I know you knows what
year stands, on'y it's polite I tells you something, und I had a fraid."
"And so you bothered your Teacher with that nonsense," said Tim. "You're
a nice boy!"
Morris's eyes were hardly more appealing than Teacher's as the two
culprits, for so they felt themselves, turned to their judge.
"Morris is a strange boy," Miss Bailey explained. "He can't be managed
by ordinary methods—"
"And extraordinary methods don't seem to work to-day," Mr. O'Shea
"—and I think," Teacher continued, "that it might be better not to
press the point."
"Oh, if you have no control over him—" Mr. O'Shea was beginning
pleasantly, when the Principal suggested:
"You'd better let us hear what he has to say, Miss Bailey; make him
understand that you are master here." And Teacher, with a heart-sick
laugh at the irony of this advice in the presence of the Associate
Superintendent, turned to obey.
But Morris would utter no words but these, dozens of times repeated:
"I have a fraid." Miss Bailey coaxed, bribed, threatened and cajoled;
shook him surreptitiously, petted him openly. The result was always
the same: "It's polite I tells you something out, on'y I had a fraid."
"But, Morris, dear, of what?" cried Teacher. "Are you afraid of me?
Stop crying now and answer. Are you afraid of Miss Bailey?"
"Are you afraid of the Principal?"
"Are you afraid"—with a slight pause, during which a native hue of
honesty was foully done to death—"of the kind gentleman we are all
so glad to see?"
"Well, then, what is the matter with you? Are you sick? Don't you think
you would like to go home to your mother?"
"N-o-o-oh m-a-a-an; I ain't sick. I tells you 'scuse."
The repeated imitation of a sorrowful goat was too much for the
"Bring that boy to me," he commanded. "I'll show you how to manage
refractory and rebellious children."
With much difficulty and many assurances that the gentleman was not
going to hurt him, Miss Bailey succeeded in untwining Morris's legs
from the supports of the desk and in half carrying, half leading him
up to the chair of state. An ominous silence had settled over the room.
Eva Gonorowsky was weeping softly, and the redoubtable Isidore Applebaum
was stiffened in a frozen calm.
"Morris," began the Associate Superintendent in his most awful tones,
"will you tell me why you raised your hand? Come here, sir." Teacher
urged him gently, and like dog to heel, he went. He halted within a
pace or two of Mr. O'Shea, and lifted a beseeching face towards him.
"I couldn't to tell nothing out," said he. "I tells you 'scuse. I'm
got a fraid."
The Honourable Tim lunged quickly and caught the terrified boy
preparatory to shaking him, but Morris escaped and fled to his haven
of safety—his Teacher's arms. When Miss Bailey felt the quick clasp
of the thin little hands, the heavy beating of the over-tried heart,
and the deep convulsive sobs, she turned on the Honourable Timothy
O'Shea and spoke:
"I must ask you to leave this room at once," she announced. The
Principal started, and then sat back. Teacher's eyes were dangerous,
and the Honourable Tim might profit by a lesson. "You've frightened
the child until he can't breathe. I can do nothing with him while you
remain. The examination is ended. You may go."
Now Mr. O'Shea saw he had gone a little too far in his effort to create
the proper dramatic setting for his clemency. He had not expected the
young woman to "rise" quite so far and high. His deprecating
half-apology, half-eulogy, gave Morris the opportunity he craved.
[Illustration: "I MUST ASK YOU TO LEAVE THIS ROOM"]
[Illustration: "TEACHER, I TELLS YOU 'SCUSE"]
"Teacher." he panted; "I wants to whisper mit you in the ear."
With a dexterous movement he knelt upon her lap and tore out his
solitary safety-pin. He then clasped her tightly and made his
explanation. He began in the softest of whispers, which increased in
volume as it did in interest, so that he reached the climax at the
full power of his boy soprano voice.
"Teacher, Missis Bailey, I know you know what year stands. On'y it's
polite I tells you something, und I had a fraid the while the comp'ny
mit the whiskers sets und rubbers. But, Teacher, it's like this: your
jumper's sticking out und you could to take mine safety-pin."
He had understood so little of all that had passed that he was beyond
being surprised by the result of this communication. Miss Bailey had
gathered him into her arms and had cried in a queer helpless way. And
as she cried she had said over and over again: "Morris, how could you?
Oh, how could you, dear? How could you?"
The Principal and "the comp'ny mit whiskers" had looked solemnly at
one another for a struggling moment, and had then broken into laughter,
long and loud, until the visiting authority was limp and moist. The
children waited in polite uncertainty, but when Miss Bailey, after
some indecision, had contributed a wan smile, which later grew into
a shaky laugh, the First-Reader Class went wild.
Then the Honourable Timothy arose to say good-by. He reiterated his
praise of the singing and reading, the blackboard work and the moral
tone. An awkward pause ensued, during which the Principal engaged the
young Gonorowskys in impromptu conversation. The Honourable Tim crossed
over to Miss Bailey's side and steadied himself for a great effort.
"Teacher," he began meekly, "I tells you 'scuse. This sort of thing
makes a man feel like a bull in a china shop. Do you think the little
fellow will shake hands with me? I was really only joking."
"But surely he will," said Miss Bailey, as she glanced down at the
tangle of dark curls resting against her breast. "Morris, dear, aren't
you going to say good-by to the gentleman?"
Morris relaxed one hand from its grasp on his lady and bestowed it on
"Good by," said he gently. "I gives you presents, from gold presents,
the while you're friends mit Teacher. I'm loving much mit her too."
At this moment the Principal turned, and Mr. O'Shea, in a desperate
attempt to retrieve his dignity, began: "As to class management and
But the Principal was not to be deceived.
"Don't you think, Mr. O'Shea," said he, "that you and I had better
leave the management of the little ones to the women? You have noticed,
perhaps, that this is Nature's method."
WHEN A MAN'S WIDOWED
It was a quarter past nine and Miss Bailey was calling the roll, an
undertaking which, after months of daily practice, was still formidable.
Beginning with Abraham Abrahamowsky and continuing through the alphabet
to Solomon Zaracheck, the roll-call of the First-Reader Class was full
of stumbling blocks and pitfalls. Teacher insisted upon absolute silence
during the five minutes thus consumed, and so it chanced that the
excitement of Miss Blake, bursting into Room 18 at this particular
time, was thrown into strong relief against the prevailing peace.
"Miss Bailey," began the ruffled sovereign of the room across the hall,
"did the Principal speak to you about one of my boys being put back
into your grade?"
"Oh, yes; some weeks ago."
"Well, he has been absent ever since, but he turned up this morning.
Are you ready to take him now?"
"But of course—How old is he?"
"Nearly seven. Too old for your grade and too advanced, but the
Principal wants you to have him because my boys laugh at him. His
mother is dead, his sisters in an orphan asylum, and we thought that
your little girls might have a civilizing influence over him."
"Perhaps they may," Teacher cheerfully acquiesced. "Eva Gonorowsky
alone would civilize a whole tribe of savages. Will you bring him to
The door of Room 17 was not quite closed, and from behind it came
sounds of talking and of laughter. Miss Blake threw a few words upon
the turmoil, and silence immediately ensued. Then said she: "Isidore
Diamantstein, come here," and the only result was a slight titter.
"Abie Fishhandler," she next commanded, "bring Diamantstein to Miss
The tittering increased and to it were added a scuffle and a sleepily
fretful "Lemme be." A heavy footstep crossed the hall and the stalwart
Abie Fishhandler stalked into Room 18, bearing the new boy in his arms.
From his dusty unlaced shoes to his jungle of gleaming red hair, Isidore
Diamantstein was inert, dirty, and bedraggled.
"Oh, let him stand!" cried Miss Blake sharply. "Here, Diamantstein,
what's the matter with you? This is Miss Bailey, your new teacher."
"How do you do, Isidore?" said Miss Bailey, as she stooped and took
his hand. Then she added quickly to Miss Blake: "He seems feverish.
Is he ill?" "Perhaps he is," the other answered. "I never saw him so
queer as he is this morning. You'd better let the doctor see him when
But long before the eleven o'clock visit of the physician of the Board
of Health, the illness of Isidore had reached its crisis. When Miss
Bailey had established him in his new place he had seen nothing of his
surroundings and had been quite deaf to the greetings, whether shy or
jeering, with which the First-Reader Class had welcomed him. Left to
his own devices, he had promptly laid his arms upon his desk and his
head upon his arms. Five minutes passed. Ten minutes. Isidore's
brilliant head still rested on his folded arms and Teacher felt that
she must make some effort to comfort his wordless misery.
"Isidore," she began, bending over him, "you won't have to stay here
very long. You may go back to Miss Blake in a few days if you are good.
So now, dear boy, cheer up!" But as she patted the shoulder nearest
to her a long sigh quivered through the little body.
"Now, don't do that," Miss Bailey urged. "Isidore, sit up nicely and
let me look at you," and, slipping her hand beneath the chin, she
turned the face up to hers. She was prepared for tear-drenched eyes
and trembling lips but she found neither. Isidore's dark-lashed lids
drooped heavily over his unseeing eyes, his head rolled loosely from
side to side, and he began to slip, silently and unconsciously to the
Teacher, in wild alarm, bore him to an open window and sent Patrick
Brennan in flying search of the Principal. A great revulsion shook her
whenever she looked at the blank little face, but she never guessed
the truth. Patrick's quest was short and the Principal's first glance
"Send for the janitor," he commanded, and then, "Miss Bailey, may I
speak to you in the hall?"
Teacher invested Morris Mogilewsky in the chair and the position of
authority, sent Patrick for the janitor, and, strangely shaken, followed
"What is it?" she asked, miserably, when the door was closed. "What
is the matter with that baby?"
"Well," said the Principal kindly, "if you were more experienced you
would be less shocked than I fear you are going to be. The child is
simply and most abominably drunk."
"Drunk!" gasped Miss Bailey. "Drunk! and not seven years old!"
"Drunk," echoed the Principal. "Poor little chap! Did Miss Blake tell
you the history?—The mother dead, the father away all day, no woman's
care. Of course, the end will be the reformatory, but I wonder if we
can do anything before that end is reached?"
"Oh, it can't be quite hopeless!" cried Miss Bailey. "Please give him
to me. But I want to see that father."
"So you shall," the Principal assured her. "I shall send for him
to-morrow to explain this. But he will be entirely at sea. I have him
here every two or three weeks about one or other of his children—there
are two boys in the upper grades—and the poor devil never can explain.
However, I shall let you know when he is here."
The morrow proved the Principal's surmise to have been correct. Mr.
Lazarus Diamantstein stood in helpless and hopeless misery before a
court of inquiry comprising the Principal, Miss Bailey, the physician
of the Board of Health, a representative of the Gerry Society, the
truant officer, the indignant janitor, and a policeman who had come
to the school in reference to the florid language of his own small
son, and, for scenic effect, was pressed into service. Mr. Diamantstein
turned from one to another of these stern-faced officials and to each
in turn he made his unaltered plea:
"Mine leetle Izzie was a goot leetle boy. He don't never make like you
says. Ach! never, never!"
Again, for effect, scenic or moral, the Principal indicated one of the
hostile figures of the court. "This gentleman," said he, "belongs to
a society which will take charge of your son. Have you ever, Mr.
Diamantstein, heard of the Gerry Society?"
Poor Mr. Diamantstein cowered. In all the terrifying world in which
he groped so darkly, the two forces against which he had been most
often warned were the Board of Health, which might at any time and
without notice wash out one's house and confiscate one's provisions;
and the Gerry Society, which washed one's children with soap made from
the grease of pigs, and fed them with all sorts of "traef" and unblessed
"Ach, no!" he implored. "Gott, no! You should not take and make so mit
mine' leetle boy. He ain't a bad boy. He sure ain't."
"Really, I don't think he is," Miss Bailey's cool and quiet voice
interposed, and in a moment the harassed father was at her side
pleading, extenuating, fawning.
"That young lady," said the Principal, "is your only hope. If Miss
Bailey—" Mr. Diamantstein interpreted this as an introduction and
bowed most wonderfully—"If Miss Bailey will keep Isidore in her class
he may stay in the school. If not, this gentleman—By the way, Miss
Bailey, is he at school to-day?"
"Oh, yes, and behaving beautifully. Perhaps his father would care to
see him. Will you come with me, Mr. Diamantstein?"
Yearnings to see the cause of all this trouble and sorrow were not
very strong in the paternal bosom, but Mr. Diamantstein welcomed the
opportunity to escape from officialdom and inquiry.
As she led the way to Room 18, Teacher was again impressed by the
furtive helplessness of the man. Living in a land whose language was
well-nigh unintelligible to him, ruled and judged by laws whose
existence he could learn only by breaking them, driven out of one
country, unwelcomed in another, Mr. Diamantstein was indeed a wanderer
and an outcast. Some note of sympathy found its way into Miss Bailey's
efforts at conversation, and Mr. Diamantstein's quick ear detected it.
The vision of Isidore in his new surroundings, the pictures and flowers,
the swinging canary and the plaster casts, impressed him mightily,
while Miss Bailey's evident and sincere interest in his efforts to do
what he could for his boys took him entirely by surprise. He admonished
Isidore to superhuman efforts towards the reformation which might keep
him in this beautiful room and under the care of its lady, and, as he
was about to return to his neglected sewing machine, he gave Miss
Bailey all he had to give:
"Say, Teacher," said he, with a wistful glance at his frail little
son; "say, you want to lick Issie? Well, you can."
"Oh, thank you very much, Mr. Diamantstein" returned Miss Bailey, while
Isidore, thus bestowed, wept aloud, and required instant soothing.
"That's very good of you, but I hope it won't be necessary."
"Well," said the father generously, "so you want lick, so you can
lick." And so departed.
Miss Bailey's new responsibility continued to behave beautifully. He
was peacefully disposed towards the other boys, who feared and venerated
him as a member of the "Clinton Street gang." He fell promptly captive
to the dark and gentle charms of Eva Gonorowsky and to the calm dominion
of Teacher. To the latter he showed a loving confidence which she met
with a broad-minded tolerance, very wonderful to his eyes in a person
of authority. She seemed really to understand the sweet reasonableness
of the reminiscences with which he entertained her. And if she sometimes
deplored the necessity of so much lying, stealing, fighting and late
hours, well so, of late, did he. She asked him quite calmly one day
what he had had for breakfast on the morning of his first day in Room
18, and how he had chanced to be so drunk, and he, with true economy,
answered two questions with one word:
"And where," asked Teacher, still carefully unimpressed "did you get
it? From your father?"
"Naw," said Isidore, whose manners were yet unformed "He don't never
get no beer. He ain't got a can even."
"To the s'loon—"
"And which saloon?" Miss Bailey's quiet eyes betrayed no trace of her
determination that the proprietor should suffer the full penalty of
the law. "I thought little boys were not allowed into saloons."
"Well," Isidore admitted, "I ain't gone in the s'loon. I tells the
lady on our floor that my papa likes that she should lend her can und
she says, 'He's welcome, all right.' Und I gives the can on a man what
stands by the s'loon, und I says: 'My papa he has a sickness, und beer
is healthy for him. On'y he couldn't to come for buy none. You could
to take a drink for yourself.' Und the man says, 'Sure.' Und he gets
the beer und takes the drink—a awful big drink—und I sets by
the curb und drinks what is in the can. It's awful nice for me."
Miss Bailey's hope for any real or lasting moral change in Isidore was
sadly shaken by this revelation. Six and a half years old and
deliberately plotting and really enjoying a drunken debauch! Surely,
the reformatory seemed inevitable. Suddenly she became conscious that
the chain of circumstance in Isidore's recital was not complete.
"But the money," she asked; "where did you get that?"
Isidore's eyes were wells of candour as he answered: "Off a lady."
"And why did she give it to you?"
"'Cause I tells her my mamma lays on the hospital und I like I should
buy her a orange on'y I ain't got no money for buy none."
"Oh, Isidore!" cried Teacher, in a voice in which horror, pity,
reproach, and wonder mingled. "And you have no mother!" And Isidore's
answer was his professional whine, most heartrending and insincere.
Gradually and carefully Teacher became slightly censorious and mildly
didactic, and slowly Isidore Diamantstein came to forsake the paths
of evil and to spend long afternoons in the serene and admiring
companionship of Morris Mogilewsky, Patrick Brennan and Nathan
Spiderwitz. But when, early in December, he found a stranded comic
valentine and presented it, blushingly, to Eva Gonorowsky, Miss Bailey
found that success was indeed most sweet.
Mr. Diamantstein's visits to the school, directed with patient futility
to the propitiation of the teachers of his older sons, always ended
in a cheering little talk with the young ruler of Room 18. To her he
confided his history, his difficulties, and his hopes. In return she
gave him advice, encouragement, and, in moments of too pressing need,
assistance. The need of this kind was, however, rare, for Mr.
Diamantstein was an expert in one of the most difficult branches of
the tailor's art, and his salary better than that of many of his
Shortly after the incident of the valentine Mr. Diamantstein came to
Room 18 in radiant array. His frock coat was new and of a wondrous
fashion, his tan shoes were of superlative length and sharpness of
toe, both his coat and vest were open to the lowest button and turned
back to give due prominence to the bright blue shirt beneath. His hair
shone in luxurious and oiled profusion, and in the collarless band of
his shirt, a chaste diamond stud, not much larger than a butter-plate,
flashed and shimmered through his curled black beard. It was luncheon
lime, and Teacher was at liberty.
"Say, Missis Pailey," he began, "what you think? I'm a loafer."
"Did you give up your position?" asked Miss Bailey, "or did you lose
it? You can easily get another, I hope."
"You not understand," cried the guest eagerly. "I was one great big
loafer," and he laid outstretched hands upon the blue bosom of his
gala shirt; "one great big loafer man."
"No, I'm afraid I don't understand," confessed Miss Bailey. "Tell me
"Vell, I was a vidder man," Mr. Diamantstein explained. "Mine vife she
die. From long she die, und I'm a vidder man. But now I marry, maybe,
again. I ain't no more a vidder man. I was a loafer on a beautiful
"Oh! you're a lover, Mr. Diamantstein. Why, that's the best news I've
heard for ages! And your new wife will take care of the boys. I am so
"She's a beautiful yonge lady," the Lothario continued; "but easy
scared! Oh, awful easy scared! So I don't tell her nothings over those
"Now, Mr. Diamantstein—" Teacher began admonishingly, but he
"I tells her like this: 'Say, ain't it nice? I got three leetle
poys—awful nice leetle poys—no one ain't never seen no better leetle
poys.' Und she says she won't marry mit me. Ain't I tell you how she's
easy scared? But I tells her all times how my leetle poys is goot, how
they makes for her the work, und the dinner, und the beds. Und now she
says she will marry mit me und I'm a loafer on a beautiful yonge uptown
The wild gesticulations of Mr. Diamantstein during this account of his
courtship and of its triumphant conclusion were wonderful to see. He
stopped now, glowing and panting, and Teacher noticed, for the first
time, that he was still a young man, and that there was some shadow
of excuse for the reckless course of the "beautiful yonge uptown lady."
"Mr. Diamantstein," she said heartily, "I wish you joy. I'm sure you
deserve it, and I hope the young lady will be as good as she is
beautiful. Bring her to see me some day, won't you?"
"Sure," said Mr. Diamantstein politely.
But ah, for the plans of mice and men! and oh, for the slip and the
lip! Within that very week the airy castle of Mr. Diamantstein's hopes
was shaken to its foundations. The cause was, of course, "them devil
poys." Julius and Nathan Diamantstein were convicted of having stolen
and offered for sale books, pencils, and paper, the property of the
Board of Education. Isidore had acted as agent and was condemned as
an accomplice. The father was sent for and the trio were expelled.
Then deep was the grief of Miss Bailey, and wild was the wailing of
Mr. Diamantstein. He tore his hair, he clung to the hem of Miss Bailey's
garment and he noted incidentally that it was of "all from wool goods,"
he cast his cherished derby upon the floor and himself upon her
"Say, Missis Pailey," he implored, "you do me the favour? You go on
the Brincipal und you say like that: 'I give him five dollars, maybe,
so he don't egspell them devil poys.'"
"But he must," Teacher answered sadly. "It is the law. They must be
expelled. But oh, Mr. Diamantstein, won't you try to take care of
"Say, Missis Pailey," Mr. Diamantstein recommenced, "you do me the
favour? You go on the Brincipal und you say like that: 'I give him
five dollars, maybe, so he don't egspell the boys till the month.' It
makes mit me then nothings."
"You won't mind at the end of the month?" exclaimed Miss Bailey. "Why
"Well," said the lover tenderly, "it's over that beautiful yonge lady.
She's awful easy scared! awful easy! Und sooner she knows them boys
is egspell she don't marry no more mit me. On'y by the month she will
be married already und nothings makes then nothings. Say, I gives you
too, maybe, a nice present so you says like that on the Brincipal."
But Mr. Diamantstein's lavish promises could avail nothing and the
boys were doomed. Time passed and Isidore's place in Miss Bailey's
kingdom was taken by another American citizen in the making, and the
incident seemed closed.
On an afternoon in the first week of February, Miss Bailey, Nathan
Spiderwitz, and Morris Mogilewsky were busily putting Room 18 to rights,
when a small boy, in an elaborate sailor costume, appeared before them.
He was spotlessly clean and the handkerchief in the pocket of his
blouse was dazzling in its white abundance. Upon his brow, soap-polished
until it shone, there lay two smooth and sticky curves of auburn hair,
and on his face there played a smile of happy recognition and repressed
Miss Bailey and her ministers stood at gaze until the new comer, with
a glad cry of "Teacher, oh, mine Teacher," threw himself upon the lady,
and then surprise gave place to joy.
"Isidore, my dear boy; I'm so glad to see you! And how beautiful you
look!" cried Teacher.
"Beautiful and stylish," said Morris generously. "Sinkers on the necks
und sleeves is stylish for boys," and he gazed longingly at the neatly
embroidered anchors which adorned the sailor suit.
"Oh, yes; suits mit sinkers is awful stylish. They could to cost three
dollars. I seen 'em on Grand Street," said Nathan, and Isidore's heart
beat high beneath the "sinker" on his breast.
When the first transports of joy over the reunion had abated, Isidore
explained his presence and his appearance.
"My mamma," he began proudly, "she sets by the Principal's side und
he says, like that, you should come for see my mamma. She's new."
Teacher deftly patted her hair and stock into place, and set out in
great interest and excitement to see the "beautiful yonge uptown lady."
"Come, Isidore," she called.
"Mine name ain't Isidore," he announced "Und it ain't Issie neither,
but it's awful stylish. I gets it off my new mamma. It's a new name
"Dear me," cried Miss Bailey. "What is it, then?"
"I don't know," answered Isidore. "I couldn't to say it even."
"Dear me!" cried Miss Bailey again, and hurried on.
At the door of the Principal's office Teacher halted in puzzled
surprise, for the first glance at the glowing face of the new mamma,
and the first sound of her pleasant voice, proclaimed, beyond the
shadow of a doubt, that Mrs. Lazarus Diamantstein the second was a
buxom daughter of the Island of Saints. The little sailor climbed upon
her lap, and the Principal introduced the matron to the maid. Miss
Bailey said all that etiquette demanded and that interest prompted and
Mrs. Diamantstein blushed prettily.
"Thank you kindly," she answered.
"You're very good, but I knew that before. Larry—me husband, you
know—often told me how good you were to the child."
"Ah, but you see," said Teacher, "I was very fond of Isidore."
"That's not his name at all, Miss," said Mrs. Diamantstein decidedly.
"That's a haythen name, and so I'm going to have him christened. Tell
your name to the lady, allannah."
Thus encouraged, Isidore toyed with a diamond stud, not much larger
than a butter-plate, which glittered in the new shirtwaist of his new
mamma, and uttered a perfectly unintelligible string of sounds.
"See how well he knows it," said the parent proudly. "He says his name
is Ignatius Aloysius Diamantstein. Think of him knowing it already and
him not christened until next Sunday! I'll have them all christened
at once by Father Burke, over at St. Mary's, and I came here to ask
you two things. First, knowing the liking you have for the child, I
ask you will you be godmother to Ignatius Aloysius?"
Miss Bailey felt unable to cope, all unaided, with these sudden and
bewildering changes. Isidore christened and Christianized! Isidore her
godchild! She sought inspiration in the Principal, but his shoulders
shook with unsympathetic mirth, and his face was turned away. Left to
her own puzzled guidance, she answered:
"Really, Mrs. Diamantstein, you are too good. I have been trying to
take care of—of—"
"Ignatius Aloysius," murmured the Principal. "Ye gods, and with that
"Of Ignatius," continued Miss Bailey, stifling a wild inclination
towards unseemly laughter, "and I should be delighted to be his
"Well, then, that's settled, and thank you Miss. And now the other
thing: Will you take Ignatius Aloysius back into your class? Larry
told me how them three children wouldn't go to school for the longest
time back, before I was married. Gettin' the little place ready for
me, he says they were, and stayin' at home to do it. The darlin's! And
lately I was too busy with one thing and another to bring them back.
But now I've got Denis and Michael, me other two boys, entered over
at the Christian Brothers' school. I was goin' to send the little
fellow there too, but he cried to come to you. Won't you take him?"
Miss Bailey appealed to the Principal. "Please," said she, "may I have
my godson, Ignatius Aloysius, in my class?"
"I shall try to arrange it so."
Mrs. Diamantstein fixed grateful eyes on Teacher. "You're a good young
lady," she repeated, with deep conviction. "And if one of them was a
girl I'd call him after you. May I make so bold as to ask your name?"
"Well, now, that's grand. That's a beautiful name. Himself has two
little girls in the orphans' home and I think I'll get one out and
call it that. But, maybe, I won't. But anyway, the first one I get
I'll call Constance, after you."
When Mrs. Diamantstein had taken her decorous leave of the Principal,
Miss Bailey and she walked to the great front door. As they reached
it Mrs. Diamantstein reiterated her gratitude and added: "You'll be
there at three o'clock, won't you, Miss? For we're to have a grand
time at the party after the christening. Father Burke promised to come
home to the little place with us, and Larry is goin' round now askin'
his friends. And it's the queer owld friends he has, Miss, the queerest
ever I seen, and with the queerest owld talk out of them. But sure,
the little man will enjoy himself more if he has some of his own at
"And do you mean to tell me that the man is asking his Jewish friends
to a Catholic christening?" remonstrated Miss Bailey, who had seen
something of the racial antagonism which was rending all that district.
"Sure, not at all, Miss," answered Mrs. Larry reassuringly. "Do you
think I'd tell him what the party was for? What does the poor man know
about christenings? and him, God help him, a haythen of a Jew. Make
your mind easy, Miss; it'll just be a party to him. No more than that."
"But he—all of them—will see Father Burke," Miss Bailey urged.
"And who could they see that would do them more good?" demanded Mrs.
Diamantstein belligerently. "Cock them up then. It's not often they'd
be let into the one room with a saint of a man like that. They'll
likely be the better of it for all the rest of their poor dark days."
Teacher made one more effort towards fair play. "I think," she
persisted, "that you ought to tell your husband what you intend to do.
It would be dreadful if, after all your trouble, he should not let you
change the boys' religion."
"Let, indeed!" cried the bride warmly. "He can wait to do that until
he's asked. I'd be long sorry to have a man like that with no bringing
up of his own, as you might say, comin' between me and me duty in the
sight of God. 'Let,' is it?" And the broad shoulders of Bridget
Diamantstein stiffened while her clear eye flashed. "Well, I'm fond
enough of that little man, but I'd break his sewin'-machine and dance
on his derby before I'd see him bring up the darlin's for black
Protestant Jews like himself."
And across the space of many weeks, Mr. Diamantstein's voice rang again
in Teacher's ears: "She's a beautiful yonge uptown lady, but easy
scared. Oh, awful easy scared!"
Well, love was ever blind.
H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF HESTER STREET
"It will be difficult," said Miss Bailey, gently insubordinate, "very
difficult. I have already a register of fifty-eight and seats for only
fifty. It is late in the term, too; the children read and write quite
easily. And you say this new boy has never been at school?"
"Never," admitted the Principal. "His people are rather distrustful
of us. Some religious prejudice, I believe. They are the strictest of
the strict. The grandfather is a Rabbi and has been educating the
boy—an only child, by the way."
"Put him in the kindergarten," Miss Bailey interjected hopefully.
"No," answered the Principal, "he's too old for that."
"Then let him wait until he can enter with the beginners in September.
He will be really unhappy when he finds himself so far behind the
"I'm afraid I must ask you to take him now," the Principal persisted.
"His father, the Assemblyman for this district, sees some advantage
in sending his boy to school with the children of his supporters. But,
of course, I shan't expect you to bring the child up to the grade.
Just let him stay here and be happy. If you will send your roll-book
to my office I will have him entered."
And so it chanced, on an afternoon of early March, that the name of
Isaac Borrachsohn was added—all unalphabetically—at the end of the
roll-call of the First Reader Class.
A writing lesson was in progress on the next morning when the new boy
arrived. Miss Bailey, during her six months' reign over Room 18, had
witnessed many first appearances, but never had charge of hers been
borne into court on such a swelling tide of female relatives. The
rather diminutive Teacher was engulfed in black-jetted capes, twinkling
ear-rings, befeathered hats, warmly gleaming faces, and many flounced
skirts, while the devoted eyes of the First Reader Class caught but
fleeing glimpses of its sovereign between the red roses rising, quite
without visible support, above agitated bonnets.
Against this background Isaac glowed like a bird-of-paradise. The
writing lesson halted. Bluntly pointed pencils paused in mid-air or
between surprise-parted lips, and the First Reader Class drew deep
breaths of awe and admiration: for the new boy wore the brightest and
tightest of red velvet Fauntleroy suits, the most bouffant of underlying
shirts, the deepest of lace collars, the most straightly cut of
Anglo-Saxon coiffures, the most far-reaching of sailor hats. Sadie
Gonorowsky, the haughty Sadie, paused open-eyed in her distribution
of writing papers. Morris Mogilewsky, the gentle Morris, abstractedly
bit off and swallowed a piece of the gold-fish food. Isidore
Belchatosky, the exquisite Isidore, passed a stealthy hand over his
closely cropped red head and knew that his reign was over.
Miss Bailey determined, in view of the frightened expression in the
new-comer's eyes, to forgive his inopportune enlistment. At her cordial
words of welcome the alarm spread from his wide eyes to his trembling
lips, and Teacher turned to the relatives to ask: "Doesn't he speak
There ensued much babbling and gesticulation. Isaac was volubly
reproved, and then one of the younger and befeathered aunts made answer.
"Sure does he. Only he was bashful, and when he should get sooner over
it he English just like you speaks. Just like you he speaks. He is a
good boy. Where is he goin' to sit? Where is his place?"
Miss Bailey reflected with dismay that there was not an unassigned
desk in the room. Fortunately, however, Patrick Brennan was absent on
that morning—he was "making the mission" at St. Mary's church with
his mother—and his queer assortment of string, buttons, pencil stumps,
and a mute and battered mouth-organ, were swept into a drawer of
Teacher's desk. Isaac was installed in this hastily created vacancy,
the gratified relatives withdrew, and the writing lesson was resumed.
When Isaac found himself cut entirely away from the maternal
apron-strings, his impulse was towards the relief of tears, but his
wandering gaze encountered the admiring eyes of Eva Gonorowsky and his
aimless hand came in contact with the hidden store of chewing-gum with
which the absent Patrick was won't to refresh himself, lightly attached
to the under surface of the chair. Isaac promptly applied it to the
soothing of his spirits, and decided that a school which furnished
such dark and curly locked neighbours and such delectable sustenance
was a pleasant place. So he accepted a long pencil from Sarah Schrodsky,
and a sheet of paper from Sadie Gonorowsky, and fell to copying the
writing on the board.
While he laboured—quite unsuccessfully, since all his grandsire's
instructions had been in Hebrew—Miss Bailey passed from desk to desk
on a tour of inspection and exhortation, slightly annoyed and surprised
to find that the excitement consequent upon Isaac Borrachsohn's
introduction had not yet subsided. Eva Gonorowsky was flagrantly
inattentive, and Teacher paused to point an accusing finger at the
very erratic markings which she had achieved.
"Eva," said she, "why do you keep your writing so very far from the
"I ain't so big," Eva responded meekly, "und so I makes mistakes. I
tells you 'scuse."
"Honey," responded Miss Bailey, her wrath quite turned away by this
soft answer, "you could do beautifully if you would only look at the
board instead of staring at the new boy."
"Yiss ma'am," acquiesced Eva. "But, oh, Teacher, Missis Bailey, ain't
he the sweet dude!"
"Do you think so? Well, you need not stop writing to look at him,
because you will be seeing him every day.
"In this class? Oh, ain't that fine!" Eva whispered. "My, ain't his
mamma put him on nice mit red-from-plush suits and stylish hair-cuts!"
"Well, Isidore Belchatosky has a velvet suit," said the gentle-hearted
Miss Bailey, as she noticed the miserable eyes of the deposed beau
travelling from his own frayed sleeve to the scarlet splendour across
"But's it's black," sneered the small coquette, and Teacher was only
just in time to snatch Isidore's faultless writing from the deluge of
his bitter tears.
When the First Reader Class filed down the yard for recess, Miss Bailey
was disgusted to find that Isaac Borrachsohn's admiring audience
increased until it included every boy in the school young enough to
be granted these twenty minutes of relaxation during the long morning.
He was led away to a distant corner, there to receive tribute of
deference, marbles, candy, tops, and political badges. But he spoke
no word. Silently and gravely he held court. Gravely and silently he
suffered himself to be led back to Room 18. Still silently and still
gravely he went home at twelve o'clock.
At a quarter before one on that day, while Morris Mogilewsky and Nathan
Spiderwitz, Monitors of Gold-Fish and Window Boxes, were waiting
dejectedly for the opening of the school doors and reflecting that
they must inevitably find themselves supplanted in their sovereign's
regard—for Teacher, though an angel, was still a woman, and therefore
sure to prefer gorgeously arrayed ministers—there entered to them
Patrick Brennan, fortified by the morning's devotion, and reacting
sharply against the morning's restraint.
"Fellars," he began jubilantly; "I know where we can hook a banana.
And the Ginney's asleep. Come on!"
His colleagues looked at him with lack-lustre eyes. "I don't need no
bananas," said Morris dispiritedly. "They ain't so awful healthy fer
"Me too," Nathan agreed. "I et six once und they made me a sickness."
"Bananas!" urged Patrick. "Bananas, an' the man asleep! What's the
matter with ye anyway?"
"There's a new boy in our class," Morris answered. "Und he's a dude.
Und Teacher's lovin' mit him."
"Und he sets in your place," added Nathan.
"I'll break his face if he tries it again," cried Patrick hotly. "Who
let him sit there?"
"Teacher," wailed Morris. "Ain't I tell you how she's lovin' mit him?"
"And where's all my things?" Patrick demanded with pardonable
curiosity. "Where am I to sit?"
"She makes you should set by her side," Morris reassured him. "Und
keep your pencil in her desk. It could be awful nice fer you. You sets
right by her."
"I'll try it for a day or two," said Patrick grandly. "I'll see how
I'll like it."
For the first hour he liked it very well. It was fun to sit beside
Miss Bailey, to read from her reader, to write at her desk, to look
grandly down upon his fellows, and to smile with condescension upon
Eva Gonorowsky. But when Teacher opened her book of Fairy Tales and
led the way to the land of magic Patrick discovered that the chewing
gum, with which he was accustomed to refresh himself on these journeys,
was gone. Automatically he swept his hand across the under surface of
his chair. It was not there. He searched the drawer in which his
treasures had been bestowed. Nor there. He glanced at the usurper in
his rightful place, and saw that the jaws of Isaac moved rhythmically
and placidly. Hot anger seized Patrick. He rose deliberately upon his
sturdy legs and slapped the face of that sweet dude so exactly and
with such force that the sound broke upon the quiet air like the crack
of a revolver. Teacher, followed by the First Reader Class, rushed
back from Fairy Land, and the next few minutes were devoted to
separating the enraged Patrick from the terrified Isaac, who, in the
excitement of the onslaught, had choked upon the casus belli,
and could make neither restitution nor explanation. When Isaac was
reduced, at the cost of much time and petting on Miss Bailey's part,
to that stage of consolation in which departing grief takes the form
of loud sobs, closely resembling hiccoughs and as surprising to the
sufferer as to his sympathizers, Patrick found himself in universal
disfavour. The eyes of the boys, always so loyal, were cold. The eyes
of the girls, always so admiring, were reproachful. The eyes of Miss
Bailey, always so loving, were hard and angry. Teacher professed herself
too grieved and surprised to continue the interrupted story, and Patrick
was held responsible for the substitution of a brisk mental arithmetic
test in which he was easily distanced by every boy and girl in the
room. But Isaac was still silent. No halcyon suggestion beginning,
"Suppose I were to give you a dollar and you spent half of it for
candy," no imaginary shopping orgie, could tempt him into speech.
It was nearly three o'clock when at last he found his voice. In an
idle inspection of his new desk he came upon one of those combinations
of a pen, a pencil, and an eraser, which gladden the young and aggravate
the old. It was one of Patrick's greatest treasures and had long been
Eva's envious desire, and now Patrick, chained to the side of his
indignant Teacher, saw this precious, delicate, and stubborn mechanism
at the mercy of his clumsy successor. Isaac wrenched and twisted without
avail; Patrick's wrath grew dark; Eva shyly proffered assistance;
Patrick's jealousy flamed hot. And then, before Patrick's enraged eyes,
Eva and Isaac tore the combination of writing implements to fragments,
in their endeavour to make it yield a point. Patrick darted upon the
surprised Isaac like an avenging whirlwind, and drove a knotty little
fist into the centre of the Fauntleroy costume. And then, quite
suddenly, Isaac lifted up his voice:
"Don't you dast to touch me," he yelled, "you—Krisht fool."
Miss Bailey sprang to her feet, but before she could reach the offender
he had warmed to his work and was rolling off excerpts from remarks
which he had heard at his father's club-rooms. These were, of course,
in Hebrew, but after much hissing and many gutturals, he arrived,
breathless, at the phrase as Anglo-Saxon as his hair:
"You be—! Go to—!"
[Illustration: "DON'T YOU DAST TO TOUCH ME," HE YELLED]
[Illustration: "LOOK AT YOUR BACK!"]
Of all Miss Bailey's rules for the government of her kingdom the most
stringent were against blasphemy. Never had her subjects seen their
gentle lady so instinct with wrath as she was when holding the wriggling
arm of Patrick with one hand and the red plush shoulder of Isaac with
the other, she resumed her place in the chair of authority. She leaned
forward until her eyes, angry and determined, were looking close into
Patrick's, and began:
"You first. You commenced this thing. Now listen. If you ever touch
that boy again—I don't care for what reason—I will whip you. Here,
before the whole class, I shall spank you. Do you understand?"
"Yes," said Patrick.
"And now you," turning quickly to Isaac. "If you ever again dare to
say bad words in this room I shall wash out the mouth you soil in
saying them. Do you understand?"
Isaac was silent.
"Do you understand?" repeated Miss Bailey. Isaac spoke no word; gave
no sign of comprehension.
"Morris," called Teacher, "come and tell him that in Jewish for me,"
and Morris, with many halts and shy recoilings, whispered a few words
into the ear of Isaac, who remonstrated volubly.
"He says he ain't said no bad word," the interpreter explained. "His
papa says like that on his mamma, and his mamma says like that on his
papa. Fer him, that ain't no bad word."
"It is a bad word here," said Teacher inexorably. "Tell him I'll wash
out his mouth if he says it again."
Miss Bailey was so ruffled and disgusted by the course of events that
she allowed only the Monitor of the Gold-Fish Bowl to stay with her
after school that afternoon. When readers were counted and put upon
shelves, charts furled, paint brushes washed, pencils sharpened, and
blackboards cleaned, Morris pressed close to his lady and whispered:
"Say, Teacher, I should tell you somethings."
"Well, then, old man, tell it."
"Teacher, it's like this; I ain't tell Ikey, out of Jewish, how you
says you should wash out his mouth."
"You didn't tell him? And why not, pray?"
"Well," and Morris's tone, though apologetic, was self-righteous, "I
guess you don't know about Ikey Borrachsohn."
"I know he said two very bad things. Of course, I did not understand
the Jewish part. What did he say? Did you know?"
"Sure did I, on'y I wouldn't to tell it out. It ain't fer you. It ain't
no fer-ladies word."
Miss Bailey patted her small knight's hand. "Thank you, Morris," she
said simply. "And so it was bad?"
"Very well; I shall ask some other boy to tell him that I shall wash
out his mouth."
"Well," Morris began as before, "I guess you don't know 'bout Isaac
Borrachsohn. You dassent to wash out his mouth, 'cause his grandpa's
"I know he is. Is that any reason for Isaac's swearing?"
"His papa," Morris began in an awed whisper, "his papa's the King of
"Well," responded Teacher calmly, "that makes no difference to me. No
one may swear in this room. And now, Morris, you must run home. Your
mother will be wondering where you are."
Three minutes later Morris's dark head reappeared. His air was deeply
confidential. "Teacher, Missis Bailey," he began, "I tells you 'scuse."
"Well, dear, what is it?" asked Miss Bailey with divided interest, as
she adjusted a very large hat with the guidance of a very small
looking-glass. "What do you want?"
Again Morris hesitated. "I guess," he faltered; "I guess you don't
know 'bout Isaac Borrachsohn."
"What has happened to him? Is he hurt?"
"It's his papa. Ain't I told you he's the King of Hester Street und
he's got dancing balls. My mamma und all the ladies on our block they
puts them on stylish und goes on the ball. Und ain't you see how he's
got a stylish mamma mit di'monds on the hair?"
"Yes," admitted Miss Bailey, "I saw the diamonds." Not to have seen
the paste buckle which menaced Mrs. Borrachsohn's left eye would have
been to be blind indeed.
"Und extra, you says you should wash out his mouth," Morris
remonstrated. "I guess, maybe, you fools."
"You'll see," said Miss Bailey blithely. "And now trot along, my dear.
Teacher hurried into her jacket and was buttoning her gloves when the
Monitor of the Gold-Fish Bowl looked timidly in.
"What now?" asked Teacher.
"Well," said Morris, and breathed hard,
"I guess you don't know 'bout Isaac Borrachsohn."
Miss Bailey fell away into helpless laughter. "That would not be your
fault, honey, even if it were true," she said. "But what has he been
doing since I saw you?"
"It's his papa," answered Morris. "His papa's got p'rades."
"He has what?"
"And are they very bad? I never heard of them."
"You don't know what is p'rades?" cried Morris. "Won't your mamma leave
you see them?"
"What are they?" asked Teacher. "Did you ever see them?"
"Sure I seen p'rades. My papa he takes me in his hand und I stands by
the curb und looks on the p'rade. It goes by night. Comes mans und
comes cops und comes George Wash'ton und comes Ikey Borrachsohn's papa,
mit proud looks—he makes polite bows mit his head on all the peoples,
und comes Teddy Rosenfelt. Und comes cows und more cops und ladies und
el'fints, und comes Captain Dreyfus und Terry McGovern. Und comes mans,
und mans, und mans—a great big all of mans—und they says: 'What's
the matter with Ikey Borrachsohn's papa?'—he ain't got no sickness,
Miss Bailey, on'y it's polite you say like that on p'rades. Und more
mans they says: 'Nothings is mit him. He's all right!' That is what
is p'rades. Ikey's papa's got them, und so you dassent to wash
out his mouth."
"One more bad word," was Teacher's ultimatum; "one more and then I'll
Miss Bailey's commands were not lightly disregarded, and Patrick Brennan
spent the ensuing week in vain endeavour to reconcile himself to a
condition of things in which he, the first born of the policeman on
the beat, and therefore by right of heredity a person of importance
in the realm, should tamely submit to usurpation and insult on the
part of this mushroom sprig of moneyed aristocracy, this sissy kid in
velvet pants, this long-haired dummy of an Isaac Borrachsohn. Teacher
could not have meant to cut him off from all hope of vengeance. If she
had—then she must be shown that the honour of the house of Brennan
was a thing beyond even her jurisdiction. A Brennan had been insulted
in his person and in his property. Of course, he must have satisfaction.
If Morris could have known that Patrick, of whom he was so fond, was
plotting evil against the heir-apparent to the throne of Hester Street,
he might have persuaded that scion of the royal house of Munster to
stay his hand. But the advice of Patrick pere had always been: "Lay
low until you see a good chanst, an' then sock it to 'em good and
plenty." So Patrick fils bided his time and continued to "make the
mission" with his pious mother.
After his initial speech in his English, so like Miss Bailey's, Isaac
Borrachsohn resumed his cloak of silence and spoke no more of the
language of the land. Even in his own tongue he was far from garrulous.
And yet his prestige continued to increase, his costumes grew ever
more gorgeous, and his slaves—both male and female—daily more
numerous. In reading and in "Memory Gems" his progress was, under the
veil of speechlessness, imperceptible, but in writing and in all the
prescribed branches of Manual Training he acquired a proficiency which
made it impossible to return him to his royal sire. Gradually it was
borne in upon Miss Bailey that she had met her Waterloo—a child who
would have none of her. All her attempts at friendliness were met by
the same stolid silence, the same impersonal regard, until in
desperation, she essayed a small store of German phrases, relics of
her sophomore days. Six faulty sentences, with only the most remote
bearing upon the subject in hand, were more efficacious than volumes
of applied psychology, and the reserve of Isaac Borrachsohn vanished
before the rising conviction that Teacher belonged to his own race.
How otherwise, he demanded, could she speak such beautiful Hebrew?
When Morris translated this tribute to Patrick, a flame of anger and
of hope lit up that Celtic soul. Such an accusation brought against
Miss Bailey, whom he had heard his noble father describe as "one of
ourselves, God bless her!" was bitter to hear, but the Knight of Munster
comforted himself with the conviction that Teacher would no longer
shield the sissy from the retribution he now had doubly earned. But
it should be a retribution fitted to the offender and in proportion
to the offence. Long experience of Jewish playfellows had taught Patrick
a revenge more fiendish than a beating, a ducking, a persecution by
"de gang," or a confiscation of goods and treasures. All of these were
possible and hard to bear, but for Isaac's case something worse was
needed. He should be branded with a cross! Fortune, after weeks of
frowning, was with Patrick on that warm April afternoon. Isaac was
attired in a white linen costume so short of stocking and of
knickerbockers as to exhibit surprising area of fat leg, so fashionable
in its tout ensemble as to cause Isidore Belchatosky to weep aloud,
so spotless as to prompt Miss Bailey to shield it with her own "from
silk" apron when the painting lesson commenced. Patrick Brennan had
obeyed his father's injunction to "lay low" so carefully that Teacher
granted a smiling assent to his plea to be allowed to occupy the place,
which chanced to be empty, immediately behind Isaac's.
On each little desk Miss Bailey, assisted by her whole corps of
monitors, placed a sheet of drawing paper, a little pan containing
India ink dissolved in water, and a fat Japanese paint brush. The class
was delighted, for, with the possible exception of singing, there was
no more popular occupation. Briskly the First Reader Class fell to
work. Carefully they dipped brushes in ink. Bravely they commenced to
draw. Teacher passed from desk to desk encouraging the timid,
restraining the rash.
Patrick dug his brush deep down into his ink, lifted it all wet and
dripping, cast a furtive glance at Teacher's averted head, and set
stealthily to work at the bent and defenceless back of Isaac
Borrachsohn's spotless suit. From shoulder to shoulder he drew a thick
black mark. Then another from straight cropped hair to patent leather
belt. Mrs. Borrachsohn belonged to the school of mothers who believed
in winter underwear until the first of June, and Isaac felt nothing.
But Eva Gonorowsky saw and shuddered, hiding her eyes from the symbol
and the desecration. Patrick glowered at her, filled his brush again,
bent quickly down, and branded the bare and mottled legs of his enemy
with two neatly crossed strokes.
In an instant the room was in an uproar. Patrick, his face and hands
daubed with ink, was executing a triumphant war-dance around Isaac,
who, livid and inarticulate with rage, was alternately struggling for
words and making wondrous Delsartean attempts to see his outraged back.
"I socked it to you good and plenty!" chanted Patrick in shrill victory.
"Look at your back! Look at your leg! It's ink! It won't come off! It
will never come off! Look at your back!"
Miss Bailey clanged the bell, caught Patrick by the waist-line, thrust
him under her desk, fenced him in with a chair, and turned to Isaac
who had only just realized the full horror of his plight. Isidore
Belchatosky and Eva Gonorowsky had torn off the white tunic—thereby
disclosing quantities of red flannel—and exhibited its desecrated
back. And speech, English speech returned to the Prince of Hester
Street. Haltingly at first, but with growing fluency he cursed and
swore and blasphemed; using words of whose existence Teacher had never
heard or known and at whose meaning she could but faintly guess. Eva
began to whimper; Nathan lifted shocked eyes to Teacher; Patrick kicked
away the barricading chair and, still armed with the inky brush, sprang
into the arena, and it was not until five minutes later that gentle
peace settled down on Room 18.
Miss Bailey had received full parental authority from the policeman
on the beat and she felt that the time for its exercise had come.
"Patrick," she commanded. "Position!" And the Leader of the Line stood
forth stripped of his rank and his followers, but not of his dauntless
Teacher, with a heavy heart, selected the longest and lightest of her
rulers and the review continued.
"Hips firm!" was the next command, and Patrick's grimy hands sprang
to his hips.
"Trunk forward—bend!" Patrick doubled like a jack-knife and Miss
Bailey did her duty.
When it was over she was more distressed than was her victim. "Patrick,
I'm so sorry this happened," said she. "But you remember that I warned
you that I should whip you if you touched Isaac. Well, you did and I
did. You know—all the children know—that I always keep my word."
"Yiss ma'an," murmured the frightened First Reader Class.
"Always?" asked Patrick.
"Always," said Miss Bailey.
"Then wash out his mouth," said Patrick, pointing to the gloating
Isaac, who promptly ceased from gloating.
"Oh, that reminds me," cried Teacher, "of something I want you to do.
Will you tell Isaac you are sorry for spoiling his new suit?"
"Sure," answered Patrick readily. "Say, Isaac, I'm sorry. Come and git
your mouth washed."
"Well," Miss Bailey temporized, "his clothes are ruined. Don't you
think you could forgive him without the washing?"
"Sure," answered Patrick again. "Ain't it too bad that you can't, too!
But you said it and now you've got to do it. Like you did about me,
you know. Where's the basin? I'll fill it."
Teacher was fairly trapped, but, remembering that Isaac's provocation
had been great, she determined to make the ordeal as bearable as
possible. She sent for some water, selected a piece of appetizing rose
pink soap, a relic of her Christmas store, and called Isaac, who, when
he guessed the portent of all these preliminaries, suffered a shocking
relapse into English. Nerved by this latest exhibition, Miss Bailey
was deaf to the wails of Isaac and unyielding to the prayers and
warnings of Morris and to the frantic sympathy of Eva Gonorowsky.
"Soap ain't fer us," Morris cried. "It ain't fer us. We don't ever
make like you makes mit soap!"
"I noticed that," said Teacher dryly. "I really think you are afraid
of soap and water. When I finish with Isaac you will all see how good
it is for boys and girls to be washed."
"But not in the mouth! Oh, Missis Bailey, soap in the mouth ain't fer
"Nonsense, honey," answered Teacher; "it will only clean his teeth and
help him to remember not to say nasty words." And, all unaware of the
laws of "kosher" and of "traef," the distinctions between clean and
unclean, quite as rigorous as, and much more complicated than, her
own, Constance Bailey washed out the mouth of her royal charge, and,
it being then three o'clock, dismissed her awed subjects and went
On his progress towards the palace of his sire, Isaac Borrachsohn,
with Christian symbols printed large upon his person, alienated nine
loyal Hebrew votes from his father's party and collected a following
of small boys which nearly blocked the narrow streets. The crosses
were bad enough, but when it was made clear that the contamination,
in the form of bright pink soap, had penetrated to the innermost
recesses of the heir of the Barrachsohns, the aunts, in frozen horror,
turned for succour and advice to the Rabbi. But he could only confirm
their worst fears. "Soap," said he, "is from the fat of pigs. Our boy
is defiled. To-morrow he must be purified at the synagogue. I told you
it was a Christian school."
Then did the Assemblyman quail before the reproach of his women. Then
did he bite his nails in indecision and remorse and swear to be revenged
upon the woman who had dared so to pollute his son. Then did Isaac
weep continuously, noisily, but ineffectually for, on the morrow, to
the synagogue he went.
Miss Bailey, when she saw that he was absent, was mildly
self-reproachful and uneasy. If she could have known of the long and
complicated rites and services which she had brought upon the boy who
had been entrusted to her to be kept happy and out of mischief, she
might not have listened so serenely to the janitor's announcement two
"Borrachsohn and a whole push of women, and an old bird with a beard,
are waitin' for you in the boys' yard," he whispered with great
empressement. "I sent them there," he explained, "because they
wouldn't fit anywhere else. There's about a hundred of them."
Mr. Borrachsohn's opening remark showed that the force of Isaac's speech
was hereditary. "Are you the —— —— young woman who's been playing
such fool tricks with my son? You'll wish you minded your own ——
business before I get through with you."
The belligerent attitude was reflected by the phalanx of female
relatives, whose red roses waved in defiance now, as they had nodded
in amity a few short weeks before. For an instant Teacher did not grasp
the full meaning of Mr. Borrachsohn's greeting. Then suddenly she
realized that this man, this trafficker in the blood and the honour
of his people, had dared to swear at her, Constance Bailey. When her
eyes met those of the Assemblyman he started slightly, and placed Isaac
between him and this alarming young person who seemed not at all to
realize that he could "break her" with a word.
"Is this your child?" she demanded. And he found himself answering
"Then take him away," she commanded. "He is not fit to be with decent
children. I refuse to teach him."
"You can't refuse," said Mr. Borrachsohn. "It is the law—"
[Illustration: "YOU'LL WISH YOU MINDED YOUR OWN —— BUSINESS BEFORE
I GET THROUGH WITH YOU"]
[Illustration: Morris Mogilewsky]
"Law!" repeated Teacher. "What is the law to you?" She was an open-eyed
young person; she had spent some months in Mr. Borrachsohn's district;
she had a nasty energy of phrase; and the King of Hester Street has
never translated the ensuing remarks to the wife of his bosom nor to
the gentle-eyed old Rabbi who watched, greatly puzzled by his ideal
of a Christian persecutor and this very different reality. Gradually
the relatives saw that the accuser had become the accused, but they
were hardly prepared to see him supplicating and even unsuccessfully.
"No, I won't take him. I tell you his language is awful. I can't let
the other children hear him."
"But I shall see that he swears no more. We taught him for a joke.
I'll stop him."
"I'm afraid you can't."
"Well, you try him. Try him for two weeks. He is a good boy; he will
swear no more."
"Very well," was Teacher's ungracious acquiescence; "I shall try him
again. And if he should swear—"
"You will not wash out his mouth—"
"I shall, and this time I shall use hot water and sapolio and washing
Mr. Borrachsohn smiled blandly and turned to explain this dictum to
his clan. And the dazed Miss Bailey saw the anger and antagonism die
out of the faces before her and the roses above them, heard Mr.
Borrachsohn's gentle, "We would be much obliged if you will so much
accommodate us," saw the Rabbi lift grateful eyes to the ceiling and
clasp his hands, saw Mrs. Borrachsohn brush away a tear of joy, and
felt Isaac's soft and damp little palm placed within her own by the
hand of his royal sire, saw the jetted capes, the flounced skirts, and
befeathered hats follow the blue and brass buttons of the janitor, the
broadcloth of the Assemblyman and the alpaca of the Rabbi, heard the
door close with a triumphant bang, saw the beaming face of the returning
janitor, and heard his speech of congratulation:
"I heard it all; I was afraid to leave you alone with them. Will you
excuse me, Miss Bailey, if I just pass the remark that you're a living
Still densely puzzled and pondering as to whether she could hope ever
to understand these people, she sought the Principal and told him the
whole story. "And now why," she asked, "did he make such a fuss about
the washing only to yield without a struggle at the end?"
The Principal laughed. "You are mistaken," said he. "Mr. Borrachsohn
gained his point and you most gracefully capitulated."
"I," cried Teacher; "I yield to that horrid man! Never! I said I should
use soda and sapolio—"
"Precisely," the Principal acquiesced. "And both soda and sapolio are
kosher—lawful, clean. Miss Bailey, oh, Miss Bailey, you can never
be haughty and lofty again, for you met 'that horrid man' in open battle
and went weakly down before him."
THE LAND OF HEART'S DESIRE
Isaac Borrachsohn, that son of potentates and of Assemblymen, had been
taken to Central Park by a proud uncle. For weeks thereafter he was
the favourite bard of the First Reader Class and an exceeding great
trouble to its sovereign, Miss Bailey, who found him now as garrulous
as he had once been silent. There was no subject in the Course of Study
to which he could not correlate the wonders of his journey, and Teacher
asked herself daily and in vain whether it were more pedagogically
correct to encourage "spontaneous self-expression" or to insist upon
"logically essential sequence."
But the other members of the class suffered no such uncertainty. They
voted solidly for spontaneity in a self which found expression thus:
"Und in the Central Park stands a water-lake, und in the water-lake
stands birds—a big all of birds—und fishes. Und sooner you likes you
should come over the water-lake you calls a bird, und you sets on the
bird, und the bird makes go his legs, und you comes over the
"They could to be awful polite birds," Eva Gonorowsky was beginning
when Morris interrupted with:
"I had once a auntie und she had a bird, a awful polite bird; on'y
sooner somebody calls him he couldn't to come the while he sets
in a cage."
"Did he have a rubber neck?" Isaac inquired, and Morris reluctantly
admitted that he had not been so blessed.
"In the Central Park," Isaac went on, "all the birds is got rubber
"What colour from birds be they?" asked Eva.
"All colours. Blue und white und red und yellow."
"Und green," Patrick Brennan interjected determinedly. "The green ones
is the best."
"Did you go once?" asked Isaac, slightly disconcerted.
"Naw, but I know. Me big brother told me."
"They could to be stylish birds, too," said Eva wistfully. "Stylish
und polite. From red und green birds is awful stylish for hats."
"But these birds is big. Awful big! Mans could to ride on 'em und
ladies und boys."
"Und little girls, Ikey? Ain't they fer little girls?" asked the only
little girl in the group. And a very small girl she was, with a softly
gentle voice and darkly gentle eyes fixed pleadingly now upon the bard.
"Yes," answered Isaac grudgingly; "sooner they sets by somebody's side
little girls could to go. But sooner nobody holds them by the hand
they could to have fraids over the rubber-neck-boat-birds und the
water-lake, und the fishes."
"What kind from fishes?" demanded Morris Mogilewsky, Monitor of Miss
Bailey's Gold-Fish Bowl, with professional interest.
"From gold fishes und red fishes und black fishes"—Patrick stirred
uneasily and Isaac remembered—"und green fishes; the green ones is
the biggest; und blue fishes und all kinds from fishes. They lives
way down in the water the while they have fraids over the
rubber-neck-boat-birds. Say, what you think? Sooner a
rubber-neck-boat-bird needs he should eat he longs down his neck und
eats a from gold fish."
"'Out fryin'?" asks Eva, with an incredulous shudder.
"Yes, 'out fryin'. Ain't I told you little girls could to have fraids
over 'em? Boys could to have fraids too," cried Isaac; and then spurred
on by the calm of his rival, he added: "The rubber-neck-boat-birds
they hollers somethin' fierce."
"I wouldn't be afraid of them. Me pop's a cop," cried Patrick stoutly.
"I'd just as lief set on 'em. I'd like to."
"Ah, but you ain't seen 'em, und you ain't heard 'em holler," Isaac
"Well, I'm goin' to. An' I'm goin' to see the lions an' the tigers an'
the el'phants, an' I'm goin' to ride on the water-lake."
"Oh, how I likes I should go too!" Eva broke out. "O-o-oh, how I likes
I should look on them things! On'y I don't know do I need a ride on
somethings what hollers. I don't know be they fer me."
"Well, I'll take ye with me if your mother leaves you go," said Patrick
grandly. "An' ye can hold me hand if ye're scared."
"Me too?" implored Morris. "Oh, Patrick, c'n I go too?"
"I guess so," answered the Leader of the Line graciously. But he turned
a deaf ear to Isaac Borrachsohn's implorings to be allowed to join the
party. Full well did Patrick know of the grandeur of Isaac's holiday
attire and the impressionable nature of Eva's soul, and gravely did
he fear that his own Sunday finery, albeit fashioned from the blue
cloth and brass buttons of his sire, might be outshone.
At Eva's earnest request, Sadie, her cousin, was invited, and Morris
suggested that the Monitor of the Window Boxes should not be slighted
by his colleagues of the goldfish and the line. So Nathan Spiderwitz
was raised to Alpine heights of anticipation by visions of a window
box "as big as blocks and streets," where every plant, in contrast to
his lanky charges, bore innumerable blossoms. Ignatius Aloysius
Diamantstein was unanimously nominated a member of the expedition; by
Patrick, because they were neighbours at St. Mary's Sunday-school; by
Morris, because they were classmates under the same Rabbi at the
synagogue; by Nathan, because Ignatius Aloysius was a member of the
"Clinton Street gang"; by Sadie, because he had "long pants sailor
suit"; by Eva, because the others wanted him.
Eva reached home that afternoon tingling with anticipation and
uncertainty. What if her mother, with one short word, should close
forever the gates of joy and boat-birds? But Mrs. Gonorowsky met her
small daughter's elaborate plea with the simple question:
"Who pays you the car-fare?"
"Does it need car-fare to go?" faltered Eva.
"Sure does it," answered her mother. "I don't know how much, but some
it needs. Who pays it?"
"Patrick ain't said."
"Well, you should better ask him," Mrs. Gonorowsky advised, and, on
the next morning, Eva did. She thereby buried the leader under the
ruins of his fallen castle of clouds, but he struggled through them
with the suggestion that each of his guests should be her, or his, own
"But ain't you got no money 't all?" asked the guest of honour.
"Not a cent," responded the host. "But I'll get it. How much have you?"
"A penny. How much do I need?"
"I don't know. Let's ask Miss Bailey."
School had not yet formally begun and Teacher was reading. She was
hardly disturbed when the children drove sharp elbows into her shoulder
and her lap, and she answered Eva's—"Missis Bailey—oh, Missis Bailey,"
with an abstracted—"Well dear?"
"Missis Bailey, how much money takes car-fare to the Central Park?"
Still with divided attention, Teacher replied—"Five cents, honey,"
and read on, while Patrick called a meeting of his forces and made
embarrassing explanations with admirable tact.
There ensued weeks of struggle and economy for the exploring party,
to which had been added a chaperon in the large and reassuring person
of Becky Zalmonowsky, the class idiot. Sadie Gonorowsky's careful
mother had considered Patrick too immature to bear the whole
responsibility, and he, with a guile which promised well for his future,
had complied with her desires and preserved his own authority unshaken.
For Becky, poor child, though twelve years old and of an aspect
eminently calculated to inspire trust in those who had never heldspeech
with her, was a member of the First Reader Class only until
such time as room could be found for her in some of the institutions
where such unfortunates are bestowed.
Slowly and in diverse ways each of the children acquired the essential
nickel. Some begged, some stole, some gambled, some bartered, some
earned, but their greatest source of income, Miss Bailey, was denied
to them. For Patrick knew that she would have insisted upon some really
efficient guardian from a higher class, and he announced with much
heat that he would not go at all under those circumstances.
At last the leader was called upon to set a day and appointed a Saturday
in late May. He was disconcerted to find that only Ignatius Aloysius
would travel on that day.
"It's holidays, all Saturdays," Morris explained; "und we dassent to
ride on no cars."
"Why not?" asked Patrick.
"It's law, the Rabbi says," Nathan supplemented. "I don't know why is
it; on'y rides on holidays ain't fer us."
"I guess," Eva sagely surmised; "I guess rubber-neck-boat-birds rides
even ain't fer us on holidays. But I don't know do I need rides on
birds what hollers."
"You'll be all right," Patrick assured her. "I'm goin' to let ye hold
me hand. If ye can't go on Saturday, I'll take ye on Sunday—next
Sunday. Yous all must meet me here on the school steps. Bring yer money
and bring yer lunch too. It's a long way and ye'll be hungry when ye
get there. Ye get a terrible long ride for five cents."
"Does it take all that to get there?" asked the practical Nathan. "Then
how are we goin' to get back?"
Poor little poet soul! Celtic and improvident! Patrick's visions had
shown him only the triumphant arrival of his host and the beatific joy
of Eva as she floated by his side on the most "fancy" of boat-birds.
Of the return journey he had taken no thought. And so the saving and
planning had to be done all over again. The struggle for the first
nickel had been wearing and wearying, but the amassment of the second
was beyond description difficult. The children were worn from long
strife and many sacrifices, for the temptations to spend six or nine
cents are so much more insistent and unusual than are yearnings to
squander lesser sums. Almost daily some member of the band would confess
a fall from grace and solvency, and almost daily Isaac Borrachsohn was
called upon to descant anew upon the glories of the Central Park.
Becky, the chaperon, was the most desultory collector of the party.
Over and over she reached the proud heights of seven or even eight
cents only to lavish her horde on the sticky joys of the candy cart
of Isidore Belchatosky's papa or on the suddy charms of a strawberry
Then tearfully would she repent of her folly, and bitterly would the
others upbraid her, telling again of the joys and wonders she had
squandered. Then loudly would she bewail her weakness and plead in
extenuation: "I seen the candy. Mouses from choc'late und Foxy Gran'pas
from sugar—und I ain't never seen no Central Park."
"But don't you know how Isaac says?" Eva would urge. "Don't you know
how all things what is nice fer us stands in the Central Park? Say,
Isaac, you should better tell Becky, some more, how the Central Park
And Isaac's tales grew daily more wild and independent of fact until
the little girls quivered with yearning terror and the boys burnished
up forgotten cap pistols. He told of lions, tigers, elephants, bears
and buffaloes, all of enormous size and strength of lung, so that
before many days had passed he had debarred himself, by whole-hearted
lying, from the very possibility of joining the expedition and seeing
the disillusionment of his public. With true artistic spirit he omitted
all mention of confining house or cage and bestowed the gift of speech
upon all the characters, whether brute or human, in his epic. The
merry-go-round he combined with the menagerie into a whole which was
not to be resisted.
"Und all the am'blins," he informed his entranced listeners; "they
goes around, und around, und around, where music plays und flags is.
Und I sets on a lion und he runs around, und runs around, und runs
around. Say—what you think? He has smiling looks und hair on the neck,
und sooner he says like that 'I'm awful thirsty,' I gives him a peanut
und I gets a golden ring."
"Where is it?" asked the jealous and incredulous Patrick.
"To my house." Isaac valiantly lied, for well he remembered the scene
in which his scandalized but sympathetic uncle had discovered his
attempt to purloin the brass ring which, with countless blackened
duplicates, is plucked from a slot by the brandishing swords of the
riders upon the merry-go-round. Truly, its possession had won him
another ride—this time upon an elephant with upturned trunk and wide
ears—but in his mind the return of that ring still rankled as the
only grief in an otherwise perfect day.
Miss Bailey—ably assisted by Aesop, Rudyard Kipling, and Thompson
Seton—had prepared the First Reader Class to accept garrulous and
benevolent lions, cows, panthers, and elephants, and the exploring
party's absolute credulity encouraged Isaac to higher and yet higher
flights, until Becky was strengthened against temptation.
At last, on a Sunday in late June, the cavalcade in splendid raiment
met on the wide steps, boarded a Grand Street car, and set out for
Paradise. Some confusion occurred at the very beginning of things when
Becky Zalmonowsky curtly refused to share her pennies with the
conductor. When she was at last persuaded to yield, an embarrassing
five minutes was consumed in searching for the required amount in the
nooks and crannies of her costume where, for safe-keeping, she had
cached her fund. One penny was in her shoe, another in her stocking,
two in the lining of her hat, and one in the large and dilapidated
chatelaine bag which dangled at her knees.
Nathan Spiderwitz, who had preserved absolute silence, now contributed
his fare, moist and warm, from his mouth, and Eva turned to him
"Ain't Teacher told you money in the mouth ain't healthy fer you?" she
sternly questioned, and Nathan, when he had removed other pennies, was
able to answer:
"I washed 'em first off." And they were indeed most brightly clean.
"There's holes in me these here pockets," he explained, and promptly
corked himself anew with currency.
"But they don't tastes nice, do they?" Morris remonstrated. Nathan
shook a corroborative head. "Und," the Monitor of the Gold-Fish further
urged, "you could to swallow 'em und then you couldn't never to come
by your house no more."
But Nathan was not to be dissuaded, even when the impressional and
experimental Becky tried his storage system and suffered keen discomfort
before her penny was restored to her by a resourceful fellow-traveller
who thumped her right lustily on the back until her crowings ceased
and the coin was once more in her hand.
At the meeting of Grand Street with the Bowery, wild confusion was
made wilder by the addition of seven small persons armed with transfers
and clamouring—all except Nathan—for Central Park. Two newsboys and
a policeman bestowed them upon a Third Avenue car and all went well
until Patrick missed his lunch and charged Ignatius Aloysius with its
abstraction. Words ensued which were not easily to be forgotten even
when the refreshment was found—flat and horribly distorted—under the
portly frame of the chaperon.
Jealousy may have played some part in the misunderstanding, for it was
undeniable that there was a sprightliness, a joyant brightness, in the
flowing red scarf on Ignatius Aloysius's nautical breast, which was
nowhere paralleled in Patrick's more subdued array. And the tenth
commandment seemed very arbitrary to Patrick, the star of St. Mary's
Sunday-school, when he saw that the red silk was attracting nearly all
the attention of his female contingent. If Eva admired flaunting ties
it were well that she should say so now. There was yet time to spare
himself the agony of riding on rubber-neck-boat-birds with one whose
interest wandered from brass buttons. Darkly Patrick scowled upon his
unconscious rival, and guilefully he remarked to Eva:
"Red neckties is nice, don't you think?"
"Awful nice," Eva agreed; "but they ain't so stylish like high-stiffs.
High-stiffs und derbies is awful stylish."
Gloom and darkness vanished from the heart and countenance of the
Knight of Munster, for around his neck he wore, with suppressed agony,
the highest and stiffest of "high-stiffs," and his brows—and the back
of his neck—were encircled by his big brother's work-a-day derby.
Again he saw and described to Eva the vision which had lived in his
hopes for now so many weeks: against a background of teeming jungle,
mysterious and alive with wild beasts, an amiable boat-bird floated
on the water-lake; and upon the boat-bird, trembling but reassured,
sat Eva Gonorowsky, hand in hand with her brass-buttoned protector.
As the car sped up the Bowery the children felt that they were indeed
adventurers. The clattering Elevated trains overhead, the crowds of
brightly decked Sunday strollers, the clanging trolley cars, and the
glimpses they caught of shining green as they passed the streets leading
to the smaller squares and parks, all contributed to the holiday
upliftedness which swelled their unaccustomed hearts. At each vista
of green they made ready to disembark and were restrained only by the
conductor and by the sage counsel of Eva, who reminded her impulsive
companions that the Central Park could be readily identified by "the
hollers from all them things what hollers." And so, in happy watching
and calm trust of the conductor, they were borne far beyond 59th Street,
the first and most popular entrance to the park, before an interested
passenger came to their rescue. They tumbled off the car and pressed
towards the green only to find themselves shut out by a high stone
wall, against which they crouched and listened in vain for identifying
hollers. The silence began to frighten them, when suddenly the quiet
air was shattered by a shriek which would have done credit to the
biggest of boat-birds or of lions, but which was—the children
discovered after a moment's panic—only the prelude to an outburst of
grief on the chaperon's part. When the inarticulate stage of her sorrow
was passed, she demanded instant speech with her mamma. She would seem
to have expressed a sentiment common to the majority, for three heads
in Spring finery leaned dejectedly against the stone barrier while
Nathan removed his car-fare to contribute the remark that he was growing
hungry. Patrick was forced to seek aid in the passing crowd on Fifth
Avenue, and in response to his pleading eyes and the depression of his
party, a lady of gentle aspect and "kind looks" stopped and spoke to
"Indeed, yes," she reassured them; "this is Central Park."
"It has looks off the country," Eva commented.
"Because it is a piece of the country," the lady explained.
"Then we dassent to go, the while we ain't none of us got no sickness,"
cried Eva forlornly. "We're all, all healthy, und the country is for
"I am glad you are well," said the lady kindly; "but you may certainly
play in the park. It is meant for all little children. The gate is
near. Just walk on near this wall until you come to it."
It was only a few blocks, and they were soon in the land of their
hearts' desire, where were waving trees and flowering shrubs and
smoothly sloping lawns, and, framed in all these wonders, a beautiful
little water-lake all dotted and brightened by fleets of tiny boats.
The pilgrims from the East Side stood for a moment at gaze and then
bore down upon the jewel, straight over grass and border, which is a
course not lightly to be followed in park precincts and in view of
park policemen. The ensuing reprimand dashed their spirits not at all
and they were soon assembled close to the margin of the lake, where
they got entangled in guiding strings and drew to shore many a craft,
to the disgust of many a small owner. Becky Zalmonowsky stood so closely
over the lake that she shed the chatelaine bag into its shallow depths
and did irreparable damage to her gala costume in her attempts to
"dibble" for her property. It was at last recovered, no wetter than
the toilette it was intended to adorn, and the cousins Gonorowsky had
much difficulty in balking Becky's determination to remove her gown
and dry it then and there.
Then Ignatius Aloysius, the exacting, remembered garrulously that he
had as yet seen nothing of the rubber-neck-boat-birds and suggested
that they were even now graciously "hollering like an'thing" in some
remote fastness of the park. So Patrick gave commands and the march
was resumed with bliss now beaming on all the faces so lately clouded.
Every turn of the endless walks brought new wonders to these little
ones who were gazing for the first time upon the great world of growing
things of which Miss Bailey had so often told them. The policeman's
warning had been explicit and they followed decorously in the paths
and picked none of the flowers which, as Eva had heard of old, were
sticking right up out of the ground. And other flowers there were
dangling high or low on tree or shrub, while here and there across the
grass a bird came hopping or a squirrel ran. But the pilgrims never
swerved. Full well they knew that these delights were not for such as
It was, therefore, with surprise and concern that they at last debouched
upon a wide green space where a flag waved at the top of a towering
pole; for, behold, the grass was covered thick with children, with
here and there a beneficent policeman looking serenely on.
"Dast we walk on it?" cried Morris. "Oh, Patrick, dast we?"
"Ask the cop," Nathan suggested. It was his first speech for an hour,
for Becky's misadventure with the chatelaine bag and the water-lake
had made him more than ever sure that his own method of safe-keeping
was the best.
"Ask him yerself," retorted Patrick. He had quite intended to accost
a large policeman, who would of course recognize and revere the buttons
of Mr. Brennan pere, but a commander cannot well accept the advice of
his subordinates. But Nathan was once more beyond the power of speech,
and it was Morris Mogilewsky who asked for and obtained permission to
walk on God's green earth. With little spurts of running and tentative
jumps to test its spring, they crossed Peacock Lawn to the grateful
shade of the trees at its further edge and there disposed themselves
upon the ground and ate their luncheon. Nathan Spiderwitz waited until
Sadie had finished and then entrusted the five gleaming pennies to her
care while he wildly bolted an appetizing combination of dark
brown-bread and uncooked salmon.
Becky reposed upon the chatelaine bag and waved her still damp shoes
exultantly. Eva lay, face downward beside her, and peered wonderingly
deep into the roots of things.
"Don't it smells nice!" she gloated. "Don't it looks nice! My, ain't
we havin' the party-time!"
"Don't mention it," said Patrick, in careful imitation of his mother's
hostess's manner. "I'm pleased to see you, I'm sure."
"The Central Park is awful pretty," Sadie soliloquized as she lay on
her back and watched the waving branches and blue sky far above. "Awful
pretty! I likes we should live here all the time."
"Well," began Ignatius Aloysius Diamantstein, in slight disparagement
of his rival's powers as a cicerone; "well, I ain't seen no lions, nor
no rubber-neck-boat-birds. Und we ain't had no rides on nothings. Und
I ain't heard no hollers neither."
As if in answer to this criticism there arose upon the road beyond the
trees a snorting, panting noise, growing momentarily louder and
culminating just as East Side nerves were strained to breaking point,
in a long, hoarse and terrifying yell. There was a flash of red, a
cloud of dust, three other toots of agony, and the thing was gone.
Gone, too, were the explorers and gone their peaceful rest. To the
distant end of the field they flew, led by the panic-stricken chaperon,
and followed by Eva and Patrick, hand in hand, he making show of a
bravery he was far from feeling, and she frankly terrified. In a
secluded corner, near the restaurant, the chaperon was run to earth
by her breathless charges.
"I seen the lion," she panted over and over. "I seen the fierce, big
red lion, und I don't know where is my mamma."
Patrick saw that one of the attractions had failed to attract, so he
"Let's go and see the cows," he proposed. "Don't you know the po'try
piece Miss Bailey learned us about cows?"
Again the emotional chaperon interrupted. "I'm loving much mit Miss
Bailey, too," she wailed. "Und I don't know where is she neither." But
the pride of learning upheld the others and they chanted in singsong
chorus, swaying rhythmically the while from leg to leg:
"The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart Robert Louis Stevenson."
Becky's tears ceased. "Be there cows in the Central Park?" she demanded.
"Sure," said Patrick.
"Und what kind from cream will he give us? Ice cream?"
"Sure," said Patrick again.
"Let's go," cried the emotional chaperon. A passing stranger turned
the band in the general direction of the menagerie and the reality of
the cow brought the whole "memory gem" into strange and undreamed
Gaily they set out through new and always beautiful ways; through
tunnels where feet and voices rang with ghostly boomings most pleasant
to the ear; over bridges whence they saw—in partial proof of Isaac
Borrachsohn's veracity—"mans und ladies ridin'." Of a surety they
rode nothing more exciting than horses, but that was, to East Side
eyes, an unaccustomed sight, and Eva opined that it was owing, probably,
to the shortness of their watch that they saw no lions and tigers
similarly amiable. The cows, too, seemed far to seek, but the trees
and grass and flowers were everywhere. Through long stretches of "for
sure country" they picked their way, until they came, hot but happy,
to a green and shady summer house on a hill. There they halted to rest,
and there Ignatius Aloysius, with questionable delicacy, began to
insist once more upon the full measure of his bond.
"We ain't seen the rubber-neck-boat-birds," he complained. "Und we
ain't had no rides on nothings."
"You don't know what is polite," cried Eva, greatly shocked at his
carping spirit in the presence of a hard-worked host. "You could to
think shame over how you says somethings like that on a party."
"This ain't no party," Ignatius Aloysius retorted. "It's a 'scursion.
To a party somebody gives you what you should eat; to a 'scursion
you brings it. Und, anyway, we ain't had no rides."
"But we heard a holler," the guest of honour reminded him. "We heard
a fierce, big holler from a lion. I don't know do I need a ride on
something what hollers. I could to have a fraid maybe."
"Ye wouldn't be afraid on the boats when I hold yer hand, would ye?"
Patrick anxiously inquired, and Eva shyly admitted that, thus supported,
she might be undismayed. To work off the pride and joy caused by this
avowal, Patrick mounted the broad seat extending all around the
summer-house and began to walk clatteringly upon it. The other pilgrims
followed suit and the whole party stamped and danced with infinite
enjoyment. Suddenly the leader halted with a cry of triumph and pointed
grandly out through one of the wistaria-hung openings. Not De Soto
upon the banks of the Mississippi nor Balboa above the Pacific could
have felt more victorious than Patrick did as he announced:
"There's the water-lake!"
His followers closed in upon him so impetuously that he was borne down
under their charge and fell ignominiously out upon the grass. But he
was hardly missed; he had served his purpose. For there, beyond the
rocks and lawns and red japonicas, lay the blue and shining water-lake
in its confining banks of green. And upon its softly quivering surface
floated the rubber-neck-boat-birds, white and sweetly silent instead
of red and screaming—and the superlative length and arched beauty of
their necks surpassed the wildest of Ikey Borrachsohn's descriptions.
And relying upon the strength and politeness of these wondrous birds
there were indeed "mans und ladies und boys und little girls" embarking,
disembarking, and placidly weaving in and out and round about through
scenes of hidden but undoubted beauty.
Over rocks and grass the army charged towards bliss unutterable,
strewing their path with overturned and howling babies of prosperity
who, clumsy from many nurses and much pampering, failed to make way.
Past all barriers, accident or official, they pressed, nor halted to
draw rein or breath until they were established, beatified, upon the
Three minutes later they were standing outside the railings of the
landing and regarding, through welling tears, the placid lake, the
sunny slopes of grass and tree, the brilliant sky and the gleaming
rubber-neck-boat-bird which, as Ikey described, "made go its legs,"
but only, as he had omitted to mention, for money. So there they stood,
seven sorrowful little figures engulfed in the rayless despair of
childhood and the bitterness of poverty. For these were the children
of the poor, and full well they knew that money was not to be diverted
from its mission: that car-fare could not be squandered on bliss.
Becky's woe was so strong and loud that the bitter wailings of the
others served merely as its background. But Patrick cared not at all
for the general despair. His remorseful eyes never strayed from the
bowed figure of Eva Gonorowsky, for whose pleasure and honour he had
striven so long and vainly. Slowly she conquered her sobs, slowly she
raised her daisy-decked head, deliberately she blew her small pink
nose, softly she approached her conquered knight, gently and all
untruthfully she faltered, with yearning eyes on the majestic swans:
"Don't you have no sad feelings, Patrick. I ain't got none. Ain't I
told you from long, how I don't need no rubber-neck-boat-bird rides?
I don't need 'em! I don't need em! I"—with a sob of passionate
longing—"I'm got all times a awful scare over 'em. Let's go home,
Patrick. Becky needs she should see her mamma, und I guess I needs my
A PASSPORT TO PARADISE
School had been for some months in progress when the footsteps of Yetta
Aaronsohn were turned, by a long-suffering Truant Officer, in the
direction of Room 18. During her first few hours among its pictures,
plants and children, she sadly realized the great and many barriers
which separated her from Eva Gonorowsky, Morris Mogilewsky, Patrick
Brennan, and other favoured spirits who basked in the sunshine of
Teacher's regard. For, with a face too white, hair too straight, dresses
too short and legs too long one runs a poor chance in rivalry with
more blessed and bedizened children.
Miss Bailey had already appointed her monitors, organized her kingdom,
and was so hedged about with servitors and assistants that her wishes
were acted upon before a stranger could surmise them, and her Cabinet,
from the Leader of the Line to the Monitor of the Gold-Fish Bowl,
presented an impregnable front to the aspiring public.
During recess time Yetta learned that Teacher was further entrenched
in groundless prejudice. Sarah Schrodsky, class bureau of etiquette
and of savoir faire, warned the new-comer:
"Sooner you comes on the school mit dirt on the face she wouldn't to
have no kind feelin's over you. She don't lets you should set by her
side: she don't lets you should be monitors off of somethings: she
don't lets you should make an'thing what is nice fer you."
Another peculiarity was announced by Sadie Gonorowsky: "So you comes
late on the school, she has fierce mads. Patrick Brennan, he comes
late over yesterday on the morning und she don't lets he should march
first on the line."
"Did she holler?" asked Yetta, in an awed whisper.
"No. She don't need she should holler when she has mads. She looks on
you mit long-mad-proud-looks und you don't needs no hollers. She could
to have mads 'out sayin' nothings und you could to have a scare over
it. It's fierce. Und extra she goes und tells it out to Patrick's
papa—he's the cop mit buttons what stands by the corner—how Patrick
comes late und Patrick gets killed as anything over it."
"On'y Patrick ain't cried," interrupted Eva Gonorowsky. She had heard
her hero's name and sprang to his defence. "Patrick tells me how his
papa hits him awful hacks mit a club. I don't know what is a club,
on'y Patrick says it makes him biles on all his bones."
"You gets biles on your bones from off of cops sooner you comes late
on the school!" gasped Yetta. "Nobody ain't tell me nothings over that.
I don't know, neither, what is clubs—"
"I know what they are," the more learned Sarah Schrodsky began. "It's
a house mit man's faces in the windows. It's full from mans by night.
Ikey Borrachsohn's papa's got one mit music inside."
"I don't likes it! I have a fraid over it!" wailed Yetta. "I don't
know does my mamma likes I should come somewheres where cops mit buttons
makes like that mit me. I don't know is it healthy fer me."
"Sooner you don't comes late on the school nobody makes like that mit
you," Eva reminded the panic-stricken new-comer, and for the first
three days of her school life Yetta was very early and very dirty.
Miss Bailey, with gentle tact, delivered little lectures upon the use
and beauty of soap and water which Eva Gonorowsky applied to and
discussed with the new-comer.
"Miss Bailey is a awful nice Teacher," she began one afternoon. "I
never in my world seen no nicer teacher. On'y she's fancy."
"I seen how she's fancy," Yetta agreed. "She's got her hair done fancy
mit combs und her waist is from fancy goods."
"Yes, she's fancy," Eva continued. "She likes you should put you on
awful clean. Say, what you think, she sends a boy home once—mit notes
even—the while he puts him on mit dirty sweaters. She says like this:
'Sweaters what you wears by nights und by days ain't stylish fer
school.' Und I guess she knows what is stylish. I ain't never in my
world seen no stylisher teacher."
"I don't know be buttoned-in-back dresses the style this year," ventured
Yetta. The same misgiving had visited Eva, but she thrust it loyally
"They're the latest," she declared.
"It's good they're the style," sighed Yetta. "Mine dress is a
buttoned-in-back-dress, too. On'y I loses me the buttons from off of
it. I guess maybe I sews 'em on again. Teacher could to have, maybe,
kind feelings, sooner she sees how I puts me on mit buttons on mine
"Sure could she!" interrupted the sustaining Eva.
"Could she have kind feelings sooner I puts me on clean mit buttons
on mine back und makes all things what is nice fer me? Oh, Eva, could
she have feelin's over me?"
"Sure could she," cried Eva. "Sooner you makes all them things she
could to make you, maybe, monitors off of somethings."
"Be you monitors?" demanded Yetta in sudden awe.
"Off of pencils. Ain't you seen how I gives 'em out and takes 'em up?
She gives me too a piece of paper mit writings on it. Sooner I shows
it on the big boys what stands by the door in the yard, sooner they
lets me I should come right up by Teacher's room. You could to look
on it." And, after unfolding countless layers of paper and of
cheese-cloth handkerchief, she exhibited her talisman. It was an
ordinary visiting card with a line of writing under its neatly engraved
"Miss Constance Bailey," and Yetta regarded it with envying eyes.
"What does it says?" she asked.
"Well," admitted Eva with reluctant candour, "I couldn't to read them
words but I guess it says I should come all places what I wants the
while I'm good girls."
"Can you go all places where you wants mit it?"
"Sure could you."
"On the Central Park?"
"On the country? Oh I guess you couldn't to go on the country mit it?"
"Sure could you. All places what you wants you could to go sooner
Missis Bailey writes on papers how you is good girls."
"Oh, how I likes she should write like that fer me. Oh, how I likes
I should be monitors off of somethings."
"I tell you what you want to do: wash your hands!" cried Eva, with
sudden inspiration. "She's crazy for what is clean. You wash your hands
und your face. She could to have feelin's."
For some mornings thereafter Yetta was clean—and late. Miss Bailey
overlooked the cleanliness, but noted the tardiness, and treated the
offender with some of "the mads 'out sayin' nothings" which Sadie had
predicted. Still, the "cop mit buttons und clubs" did not appear,
though Yetta lived in constant terror and expected that every opening
of the door would disclose that dread avenger.
On the fourth morning of her ablutions Yetta reached Room 18 while a
reading lesson was absorbing Teacher's attention:
"Powers above!" ejaculated Patrick Brennan, with all the ostentatious
virtue of the recently reformed, "here's that new kid late again!"
The new kid, in copious tears, encountered one of the
"long-mad-proud-looks" and cringed.
"Why are you late?" demanded Miss Bailey.
"I washes me the face," whimpered the culprit, and the eyes with which
she regarded Eva Gonorowsky added tearfully: "Villain behold your
[Illustration: "I WASHES ME THE FACE"]
[Illustration: AIN'T YOU NEVER COMIN' ON THE SCHOOL FOR TO SEE MINE
"So I see, but that is no reason for being late. You have been late
twice a day, morning and afternoon, for the last three days and your
only excuse has been that you were washing your face. Which is no
excuse at all."
"I tells you 'scuse," pleaded Yetta. "I tells you 'scuse."
"Very well, I'll forgive you to-day. I suppose I must tolerate you."
"No-o-oh ma'an, Teacher, Missis Bailey, don't you do it," screamed
Yetta in sudden terror. "I'd have a awful frightened over it. I swear,
I kiss up to God, I wouldn't never no more come late on the school.
I don't needs nobody should make nothings like that mit me."
"Oh, it's not so bad," Miss Bailey reassured her. "And you must expect
something to happen if you will come late to school for no reason at
And Yetta was too disturbed by the danger so narrowly escaped to tell
this charming but most strangely ignorant young person that the washing
of a face was a most time-consuming process. Yetta's one-roomed home
was on the top floor, the sixth, and the only water supply was in the
yard. Since the day her father had packed "assorted notions" into a
black and shiny box and had set out to seek his very elusive fortunes
in the country, Yetta had toiled three times a morning with a tin pail
full of water. This formed the family's daily store and there was no
surplus to be squandered. But to win Teacher's commendation she had
bent her tired energies to another trip and, behold, her reward was
Eva Gonorowsky was terribly distressed, and the plaintive sobs which,
from time to time, rent the bosom of Yetta's dingy plaid dress were
as so many blows upon her adviser's bruised conscience. Desperately
she cast about for some device by which Teacher's favour might be
reclaimed and all jubilantly she imparted it to Yetta.
"Say," she whispered, "I tell you what you want to do. You leave your
mamma wash your dress."
"I don't know would she like it. I washes me the face fer her und she
has a mad on me."
"She'd like it, all right, all right; ain't I tell you how she is crazy
fer what is clean? You get your dress washed and it will look awful
diff'rent. I done it und she had a glad."
Now a mamma who supports a family by the making of buttonholes, for
one hundred of which she receives nine cents, has little time for
washing, and Yetta determined, unaided and unadvised, to be her own
laundress. She made endless trips with her tin-pail from the sixth
floor to the yard and back again, she begged a piece of soap from the
friendly "janitor lady" and set valiantly to work. And Eva's prophecy
was fulfilled. The dress looked "awful diff'rent" when it had dried
to half its already scant proportions. From various sources Yetta
collected six buttons of widely dissimilar design and colour and, with
great difficulty since her hands were puffed and clumsy from long
immersion in strong suds, she affixed them to the back of the dress
and fell into her corner of the family couch to dream of Miss Bailey's
surprise and joy when the blended plaid should be revealed unto her.
Surely, if there were any gratitude in the hearts of teachers, Yetta
should be, ere the sinking of another sun, "monitors off of somethings."
That Teacher was surprised, no one who saw the glance of puzzled inquiry
with which she greeted the entrance of the transformed Yetta, could
doubt. That she had a glad, Yetta, who saw the stare replaced by a
smile of quick recognition, was proudly assured. Eva Gonorowsky shone
"Ain't I tell you?" she whispered jubilantly as she made room upon her
little bench and drew Yetta down beside her. "Ain't I tell you how
she's crazy fer what is clean? Und I ain't never seen nothings what
is clean like you be. You smells off of soap even."
It was not surprising, for Yetta had omitted the rinsing which some
laundresses advise. She had wasted none of the janitor lady's gift.
It was all in the meshes of the flannel dress to which it lent, in
addition to its reassuring perfume, a smooth damp slipperiness most
pleasing to the touch.
The athletic members of the First Reader Class were made familiar with
this quality before the day was over, for, at the slightest exertion
of its wearer, the rain-bow dress sprang, chrysalis-like, widely open
up the back. Then were the combined efforts of two of the strongest
members of the class required to drag the edges into apposition while
Eva guided the buttons to their respective holes and Yetta "let go of
her breath" with an energy which defeated its purpose.
These interruptions of the class routine were so inevitable a
consequence of Swedish exercises and gymnastics that Miss Bailey was
forced to sacrifice Yetta's physical development to the general
discipline and to anchor her in quiet waters during the frequent periods
of drill. When she had been in time she sat at Teacher's desk in a
glow of love and pride. When she had been late she stood in a corner
near the book-case and repented of her sin. And, despite all her
exertions and Eva's promptings, she was still occasionally late.
Miss Bailey was seriously at a loss for some method of dealing with
a child so wistful of eyes and so damaging of habits. A teacher's
standing on the books of the Board of Education depends to a degree
upon the punctuality and regularity of attendance to which she can
inspire her class, and Yetta was reducing the average to untold depths.
"What happened to-day?" Teacher asked one morning for the third time
in one week, and through Yetta's noisy repentance she heard hints of
"store" and "mamma."
"Your mamma sent you to the store?" she interpreted and Yetta nodded
"And did you give her my message about that last week? Did you tell
her that she must send you to school before nine o'clock?" Again
Yetta nodded, silent and resigned, evidently a creature bound upon the
wheel, heart broken but uncomplaining.
"Well, then," began Miss Bailey, struggling to maintain her just
resentment, "you can tell her now that I want to see her. Ask her to
come to school to-morrow morning."
"Teacher, she couldn't. She ain't got time. Und she don't know where
is the school neither."
"That's nonsense. You live only two blocks away. She sees it every
time she passes the corner."
"She don't never pass no corner. She don't never come on the street.
My mamma ain't got time. She sews."
"But she can't sew always. She goes out, doesn't she, to do shopping
and to see her friends?"
"She ain't got friends. She ain't got time she should have 'em. She
sews all times. Sooner I lays me und the babies on the bed by night
my mamma sews. Und sooner I stands up in mornings my mamma sews. All,
all, ALL times she sews."
"And where is your father? Doesn't he help?"
"Teacher, he's on the country. He is pedlar mans. He walk und he walk
und he walk mit all things what is stylish in a box. On'y nobody wants
they should buy somethings from off of my papa. No ma'an, Missis Bailey,
that ain't how they makes mit my poor papa. They goes und makes dogs
should bite him on the legs. That's how he tells in a letter what he
writes on my mamma. Comes no money in the letter und me und my mamma
we got it pretty hard. We got three babies."
"I'm going home with you this afternoon," announced Miss Bailey in a
voice which suggested neither mads nor clubs nor violence.
After that visit things were a shade more bearable in the home of the
absent pedlar, and one-half of Yetta's ambition was achieved. Teacher
had a glad! There was a gentleness almost apologetic in her attitude
and the hour after which an arrival should be met with a
long-proud-mad-look was indefinitely postponed. And, friendly relations
being established, Yetta's craving for monitorship grew with the passing
When she expressed to Teacher her willingness to hold office she was
met with unsatisfying but baffling generalities.
"But surely I shall let you be monitor some day. I have monitors for
nearly everything under the sun, now, but perhaps I shall think of
something for you."
"I likes," faltered Yetta; "I likes I should be monitor off of flowers."
"But Nathan Spiderwitz takes care of the window boxes. He won't let
even me touch them. Think what he would do to you."
"Then I likes I should be monitors to set by your place when you goes
by the Principal's office."
"But Patrick Brennan always takes care of the children when I am not
in the room."
"He marches first by the line too. He's two monitors."
"He truly is," agreed Miss Bailey. "Well, I shall let you try that
It was a most disastrous experiment. The First Reader Class, serenely
good under the eye of Patrick Brennan, who wore one of the discarded
brass buttons of his sire pinned to the breast of his shirt-waist,
found nothing to fear or to obey in his supplanter, and Miss Bailey
returned to her kingdom to find it in an uproar and her regent in
"I don't likes it. I don't likes it," Yetta wailed. "All the boys shows
a fist on me. All the girls makes a snoot on me. All the childrens say
cheek on me. I don't likes it. I don't likes it."
"Then you sha'n't do it again," Teacher comforted her. "You needn't
be a monitor if you don't wish."
"But I likes I shall be monitors. On'y not that kind from monitors."
"If you can think of something you would enjoy I shall let you try
again. But it must be something, dear, that no one is doing for me."
But Yetta could think of nothing until one afternoon when she was
sitting at Teacher's desk during a Swedish drill. All about her were
Teacher's things. Her large green blotter, her "from gold" inkstand
and pens, her books where Fairies lived. Miss Bailey was standing
directly in front of the desk and encouraging the First Reader Class—by
command and example—to strenuous waving of arms and bending of bodies.
"Forward bend!" commanded, and bent, Miss Bailey and her
buttoned-in-back-waist followed the example of less fashionable models,
shed its pearl buttons in a shower upon the smooth blotter and gave
Yetta the inspiration for which she had been waiting. She gathered the
buttons, extracted numerous pins from posts of trust in her attire,
and when Miss Bailey had returned to her chair, gently set about
repairing the breach.
"What is it?" asked Miss Bailey. Yetta, her mouth full of pins,
exhibited the buttons.
"Dear me! All those off!" exclaimed Teacher. "It was good of you to
arrange it for me. And now will you watch it? You'll tell me if it
should open again?"
Yetta had then disposed the pins to the best advantage and was free
to voice her triumphant:
"Oh, I knows now how I wants I should be monitors! Teacher,
mine dear Teacher, could I be monitors off of the back of your dress?"
"But surely, you may," laughed Teacher, and Yetta entered straightway
into the heaven of fulfilled desire.
None of Eva's descriptions of the joys of monitorship had done justice
to the glad reality. After common mortals had gone home at three
o'clock, Room 18 was transformed into a land where only monitors and
love abounded. And the new monitor was welcomed by the existing staff,
for she had supplanted no one, and was so palpitatingly happy that
Patrick Brennan forgave her earlier usurpation of his office and Nathan
Spiderwitz bestowed upon her the freedom of the window boxes.
"Ever when you likes you should have a crawley bug from off of the
flowers; you tell me und I'll catch one fer you. I got lots. I don't
need 'em all."
"I likes I shall have one now," ventured Yetta, and Nathan ensnared
one and put it in her hand where it "crawlied" most pleasingly until
Morris Mogilewsky begged it for his Gold-Fish in their gleaming "fish
theaytre." Then Eva shared with her friend and protege the delight of
sharpening countless blunted and bitten pencils upon a piece of
"Say," whispered Yetta as they worked busily and dirtily, "Say, I'm
monitors now. On'y I ain't got no papers."
"You ask her. She'll give you one."
"I'd have a shamed the while she gives me und my mamma whole bunches
of things already. She could to think, maybe, I'm a greedy. But I needs
that paper awful much. I needs I shall go on the country for see mine
"No, she don't thinks you is greedy. Ain't you monitors on the back
of her waist? You should come up here 'fore the childrens comes for
see how her buttons stands. You go und tell her you needs that paper."
Very diplomatically Yetta did. "Teacher," she began,
"buttoned-in-back-dresses is stylish fer ladies."
"Yes, honey," Miss Bailey acquiesced, "so I thought when I saw that
you wear one."
"On'y they opens," Yetta went on, all flushed by this high tribute to
her correctness. "All times they opens, yours und mine, und that makes
us shamed feelings."
Again Miss Bailey acquiesced.
"So-o-oh," pursued Yetta, with fast beating heart; "don't you wants
you should give me somethings from paper mit writings on it so I could
come on your room all times for see how is your buttoned-in-back-dresses?"
"A beautiful idea," cried Teacher. "We'll take care of one another's
buttons. I'll write the card for you now. You know what to do with it?"
"Yiss ma'an. Eva tells me all times how I could come where I wants
sooner you writes on papers how I is good girls."
"I'll write nicer things than that on yours," said Miss Bailey. "You
are one of the best little girls in the world. So useful to your mother
and to the babies and to me! Oh yes, I'll write beautiful things on
your card, my dear."
When the Grand Street car had borne Miss Bailey away Yetta turned to
Eva with determination in her eye and the "paper mit writings" in her
"I'm goin' on the country for see my papa und birds und flowers und
all them things what Teacher tells stands in the country. I need I
should see them."
"Out your mamma?" Eva remonstrated.
"'Out, 'out my mamma. She ain't got no time for go on no country. I
don't needs my mamma should go by my side. Ain't you said I could to
go all places what I wants I should go, sooner Teacher gives me papers
"Sure could you," Eva repeated solemnly. "There ain't no place where
you couldn't to go mit it."
"I'll go on the country," said Yetta.
That evening Mrs. Aaronsohn joined her neighbours upon the doorstep
for the first time in seven years. For Yetta was lost. The neighbours
were comforting but not resourceful. They all knew Yetta; knew her to
be sensible and mature for her years even according to the exacting
standard of the East Side. She would presently return, they assured
the distraught Mrs. Aaronsohn, and pending that happy event they
entertained her with details of the wanderings and home comings of
their own offspring. But Yetta did not come. The reminiscent mothers
talked themselves into silence, the deserted babies cried themselves
to sleep. Mrs. Aaronsohn carried them up to bed—she hardly knew the
outer aspect of her own door—and returned to the then deserted doorstep
to watch for her first-born. One by one the lights were extinguished,
the sewing-machines stopped, and the restless night of the quarter
closed down. She was afraid to go even as far as the corner in search
of the fugitive. She could not have recognized the house which held
All her hopes were centered in the coming of Miss Bailey. When the
children of happier women were setting out for school she demanded and
obtained from one of them safe conduct to Room 18. But Teacher, when
Eva Gonorowsky had interpreted the tale of Yetta's disappearance, could
suggest no explanation.
"She was with me until half-past three. Then she and Eva walked with
me to the corner. Did she tell you, dear, where she was going?"
"Teacher, yiss ma'an. She says she goes on the country for see her
papa und birds und flowers."
When this was put into Jewish for Mrs. Aaronsohn she was neither
comforted nor reassured. Miss Bailey was puzzled but undismayed. "We'll
find her," she promised the now tearful mother. "I shall go with you
to look for her. Say that in Jewish for me, Eva."
The Principal lent a substitute. Room 18 was deserted by its sovereign:
the pencils were deserted by their monitor: and Mrs. Aaronsohn, Miss
Bailey and Eva Gonorowsky, official interpreter, set out for the nearest
drug-store where a telephone might be. They inspected several unclaimed
children before, in the station of a precinct many weary blocks away,
they came upon Yetta. She was more dirty and bedraggled than she had
ever been, but the charm of her manner was unchanged and, suspended
about her neck, she wore a policeman's button.
"One of the men brought her in here at ten o'clock last night," the
man behind the blotter informed Miss Bailey, while Mrs. Aaronsohn
showered abuse and caress upon the wanderer. "She was straying around
the Bowery and she gave us a great game of talk about her father bein'
a bird. I guess he is."
"My papa und birds is on the country. I likes I shall go there," said
Yetta from the depths of her mother's embrace.
"There, that's what she tells everyone. She has a card there with a
Christian name and no address on it. I was going to try to identify
her by looking for this Miss Constance Bailey."
"That is my name. I am her teacher. I gave her the card because—"
"I'm monitors. I should go all places what I wants the while I'm good
girls und Teacher writes it on pieces from paper. On'y I ain't want
I should come on no cops' house. I likes I should go on the country
for see my papa und birds und flowers. I says like that on a cop—I
shows him the paper even—und he makes I shall come here on the cops'
house where my papa don't stands und birds don't stands und flowers
"When next you want to go to the country," said Teacher, "you ought
to let us know. You have frightened us all dreadfully and that is a
very naughty thing to do. If you ever run away again I shall have to
keep the promise I made to you long and long ago when you used to come
late to school. I shall have to tolerate you."
But Yetta was undismayed. "I ain't got no more a scare over that,"
said she with a soft smile towards the brass-buttoned person behind
the blotter. "Und I ain't got no scare over cops neither; I never in
mine world seen how they makes all things what is polite mit me und
gives me I should eat."
"Well," cautioned Teacher "you must never do it again," and turned her
attention to the very erratic spelling of Sergeant Moloney's official
record of the flight of Yetta Aaronsohn.
"Say," whispered Eva, and there was a tinge of jealousy in her soft
voice; "say, who gives you the button like Patrick Brennan's got?"
"THE COP," answered Yetta, pointing a dirty but reverential finger
towards her new divinity. "I guess maybe I turns me the dress around.
Buttoned-in-front-mit-from-gold-button-suits is awful stylish. He's
"Think shame how you says," cried Eva, with loyal eyes upon the neatly
buttoned and all unsuspecting back of Miss Bailey, "Ain't you seen how
is Teacher's back?"
"Ain't I monitors off of it?" demanded Yetta. "Sure I know how is it.
On'y I don't know be they so stylish. Cops ain't got 'em und, oh Eva,
Cops is somethin' grand! I turns me the dress around."
THE TOUCH OF NATURE
"There is," wrote the authorities with a rare enthusiasm, "no greater
power for the mental, moral and physical uplifting of the Child than
a knowledge and an appreciation of the Beauties of Nature. It is the
duty and the privilege of the teacher to bring this elevating influence
into the lives of the children for whom she is responsible."
There are not many of the Beauties of Nature to be found on the lower
East Side of New York, and Miss Bailey found this portion of her duty
full of difficulty. Excursions were out of the question, and she
discovered that specimens conveyed but crudely erroneous ideas to
the minds of her little people. She was growing discouraged at the
halting progress of the First Reader Class in Natural Science, when,
early in October, the Principal ushered into Room 18, Miss Eudora
Langdon, Lecturer on Biology and Nature Study in a Western university, a
shining light in the world of education, and an orator in her own
"I shall leave Miss Langdon with you for a short time, Miss Bailey,"
said the Principal when the introductions had been accomplished. "She
is interested in the questions which are troubling you, and would like
to speak to the children if you have no objection."
"Surely none," replied Miss Bailey; and when the Principal had retired
to interview parents and book-agents, she went on: "I find it difficult
to make Nature Study real to the children. They regard it all as
"Ah, yes," the visitor admitted; "it does require some skill. You
should appeal to their sense of the beautiful."
"But I greatly fear," said Teacher sadly, "that the poor babies know
very little about beauty."
"Then develop the ideal," cried Miss Langdon, and the eyes behind her
glasses shone with zeal. "Begin this very day. Should you like me to
open up a topic?"
"If you will be so very good," said Teacher, with some covert amusement,
and Miss Langdon, laying her note-book on the desk, turned to address
the class. Immediately Nathan Spiderwitz, always on the alert for bad
news, started a rumour which spread from desk to desk—"Miss Bailey
could to be goin' away. This could be a new teacher."
"My dears," Miss Eudora began, with deliberate and heavy coyness; "I'm
so fond of little children! I've always loved them. That's why
your kind Principal brought me here to talk to you. Now, wasn't that
good of him?"
At this confirmation of their fears the First Reader Class showed so
moderate a joy that Miss Langdon hurried on: "And what would you like
me to tell you about?"
"Lions," said Patrick Brennan promptly. "Big hairy lions with teeth."
The visitor paused almost blankly while the children brightened. Miss
Bailey struggled with a rebellious laugh, but Miss Langdon recovered
"I shall tell you," she began serenely, "about Beauty. Beauty is one
of the greatest things in the world. Beauty makes us strong. Beauty
makes us happy. I want you all to think—think hard—and tell me what
we can do to make our lives more beautiful."
Fifty-eight pairs of troubled eyes sought inspiration in the face of
the rightful sovereign. Fifty-eight little minds wrestled dumbly.
"Well, I suppose I must help you," said Miss Eudora with elephantine
sprightliness. "Now, children, in the first place you must always read
beautiful books; then, always look at beautiful things; and lastly,
always think beautiful thoughts."
"Miss Langdon," Teacher gently interposed, "these children cannot read
very much—twenty-five words perhaps—and for the majority of them,
poor little things, this school-room is the prettiest place in the
"Oh, that's all right. My text is right there," said the visitor, with
a nod towards a tree, the only large one in the district, which was
visible through the window. It had not yet lost its leaves, and a
shower during the preceding night had left it passably green. Turning
to the children, now puzzled into fretful unhappiness, she clasped her
hands, closed her eyes in rapture, and proceeded:
"You all know how Beauty helps you. How it strengthens you for your
work. Why, in the morning when you come to school you see a beautiful
thing which cheers you for the whole day. Now, see if you can't tell
me what it is."
Another heavy silence followed and Miss Langdon turned again to Teacher.
"Don't you teach them by the Socratic method?" she asked loftily.
"Oh, yes," Miss Bailey replied, and then, with a hospitable desire to
make her guest feel quite at home, she added: "But facts must be closely
correlated with their thought-content. Their apperceiving basis is not
"Ah, yes; of course," said the expert vaguely, but with a new
consideration, and then to the waiting class: "Children, the beautiful
thing I'm thinking of is green. Can't you think of something green and
beautiful which you see every morning?"
Eva Gonorowsky's big brown eyes fixed solemnly upon Teacher, flamed
with sudden inspiration, and Teacher stiffened with an equally sudden
fear. For smoothly starched and green was her whole shirtwaist, and
carefully tied and green was her neat stock.
Eva whispered jubilantly to Morris Mogilewsky, and another rumour swept
the ranks. Intelligence flashed into face after face, and Miss Bailey
knew that her fear was not unfounded, for, though Miss Langdon was
waving an explanatory arm towards the open window, the gaze of the
First Reader Class, bright with appreciation and amusement, was fixed
on its now distracted teacher.
"You can see this beautiful green joy sometimes when you are in the
street," Miss Langdon ambled on; "but you see it best when you are
Three hands shot up into the quiet air.
"And I don't think the children in the other rooms see it as well as
"No ma'am," cried a delighted chorus, and eight more hands were raised.
Prompting was reckless now and hands sprang up in all directions.
"No, I don't think they do," Miss Langdon agreed. "I think perhaps
that Heaven meant it just for you. Just for the good little boys and
girls in this room."
The enthusiasm grew wild and general. Miss Langdon turned a glance of
triumph upon Miss Bailey, and was somewhat surprised by the very scarlet
confusion which she saw.
"It's all in the method," she said with pride, and, to the class: "Now,
can you tell me the name of this beautiful green thing which makes us
all so happy?"
And the answer was a great, glad cry of: "Teacher's jumper!"
"Teacher's jumper!" shouted the children as before, and Eva Gonorowsky,
who had been the first to guess the jocular lady's meaning, put it
"Missis Bailey's got a green waist. Green is all the style this year."
Miss Langdon sat down suddenly; stared; gasped; and then, as she was
a clever woman, laughed.
"Miss Bailey," she said, "you have a problem here. I wish you all
success, but the apperceiving basis is, as you say, very limited."
To the solving of this problem Teacher bent all her energies. Through
diligent research she learned that the reading aloud of standard poems
has been known to do wonders of mental and moral uplifting. But standard
poems are not commonly adapted to minds six years old and of foreign
extraction, so that Miss Bailey, though she explained, paraphrased,
and commented, hardly flattered herself that the result was
satisfactory. In courteous though puzzled silence the First Reader
Class listened to enough of the poetry of the ages to have lifted them
as high as Heaven. Wordsworth, Longfellow, Browning, any one who had
seen and written of the beauty of bird or growing thing, was pressed
into service. And then one day Miss Bailey brought her Shelley down
and read his "Ode to the Skylark."
"Now, don't you think that's a pretty thing?" she asked. "Did you hear
how the lark went singing, bright and clear, up and up and up into the
The children were carefully attentive, as ever, but not responsive.
Morris Mogilewsky felt that he had alone understood the nature of this
story. It was meant to amuse; therefore it was polite that one should
"Teacher fools," he chuckled. "Larks ain't singin' in skies."
"How do you know?" asked Miss Bailey.
"'Cause we got a lark by our house. It's a from tin lark mit a cover."
"A tin lark! With a cover!" Miss Bailey exclaimed. "Are you sure, dear,
that you know what you are talking about?"
"Teacher, yiss ma'an, I know," Morris began deliberately. "My papa,
he has a lark. It's a from tin lark mit a cover. Und its got a handle
too. Und my papa he takes it all times on the store for buy a lark of
"Lager beer! Oh, shade of Shelley!" groaned Miss Bailey's spirit, but
aloud she only said: "No, my dear, I wasn't reading about lager beer.
A lark is a little bird."
"Well," Morris began with renewed confidence, "I know what is a bird.
My auntie she had one from long. She says like that, she should give
it to me, but my mamma she says, 'No, birds is foolishness.' But I
know what is a bird. He scups on a stick in a cage."
"So he does," agreed Miss Bailey, rightly inferring from Morris's
expressive pantomime that to "scup" was to swing. "But sometimes he
flies up into the sky in the country, as I was reading to you. Were
you ever in the country?"
"What country?" asked Morris. "Russia? I comes out of Russia."
"No, not Russia. Not any particular country. Just the open country
where the flowers grow."
"No ma'an, I ain't seen it," said the child gently. "But I was once
to Tompkins Square. On'y it was winter und snow lays on it. I ain't
seen no flowers."
"And do none of you know anything about the country?" asked Teacher
"Oh, yiss ma'an, I know," said Eva Gonorowsky. "The country is the
Fresh Air Fund."
"Then you've been there," cried Miss Bailey. "Tell us about it, Eva."
"No ma'an, I ain't seen it," said Eva proudly. "I'm healthy. But a
girl on my block she had a sickness und so she goes. She tells me all
times how is the country. It's got grass stickin' right up out of it.
Grass und flowers! No ma'an, I ain't never seen it: I don't know where
is it even, but oh! it could to be awful pretty!"
"Yes, honey, it is," said Teacher. "Very, very pretty. When I was a
little girl I lived in the country."
"All day?" asked Morris.
"Yes, all day."
"Und all night?"
"Oh, poor Miss Bailey," crooned Eva. "It could to be a awful sickness
what you had."
"No, I was very well. I lived in the country because my father had a
house there, and I played all day in the garden."
"Weren't you scared of the lions?" asked Patrick in incredulous
"We had no lions," Miss Bailey explained apologetically. "But we had
rabbits and guinea pigs and a horse and a cow and chickens and ducks
"Und eleflints," Morris suggested hope-fully.
"No, we had no elephants," Teacher was forced to admit. "But we had
a turtle and a monkey."
"Did your papa have a organ?" asked Sadie Gonorowsky. "Organs mit
monkeys is stylish for mans."
"Think shame how you says!" cried her cousin Eva reproachfully. "Teacher
ain't no Ginney. Organs ain't for Sheenies. They ain't for Krishts
even. They all, all for Ginneys."
"So's monkeys," said Sadie, unabashed. "Und organs mit monkeys is
The children's deep interest in the animal kingdom gave Miss Bailey
the point of departure for which she had been seeking. She abandoned
Wordsworth and Shelley, and she bought a rabbit and a pair of white
mice. The First Reader Class was enchanted. A canary in a gilded cage
soon hung before the window and "scupped" most energetically while
gold-fish in their bowl swam lazily back and forth. From these living
texts, Miss Bailey easily preached care and kindness towards all
creatures, and Room 18 came to be an energetic though independent
branch of the S.P.C.A.
The most sincere and zealous worker in the new field was Morris
Mogilewsky, Monitor of the Gold-Fish Bowl. Day after day he earned new
smiles and commendations from his liege lady by reports of cats and
kittens fed and warmed, and of dogs rescued from torment. He was
awakened one night by the cries of an outcast cat and followed the
sounds to the roof of his tenement only to find that they came from
another roof further down the block. The night was wet and blustering,
but Morris was undismayed. He crawled over walls and round chimneys
until he reached the cat and dragged her back to safety and refreshment.
When, in the early dark of the next morning, Mrs. Mogilewsky discovered
that the elements of the family breakfast had been lavished on the
wanderer, she showed some natural resentment, but when she understood
that such prodigally was encouraged, even rewarded, in high places,
her wrath was very great.
"So-o-oh, you foolishness like that on the school learns!" she fumed.
"Und your teacher she learns you you should like so mil your papa's
breakfast und cats make! She is then fine teacher!"
"She's a awful nice teacher," cried Morris, with hot loyalty. "Awful
nice. Sooner you seen her sooner you could to be loving mit her too.
Ain't you never comin' on the school for to see mine teacher?"
"No!" his mother almost shrieked. "No! I seen her on the street once
und she had looks off of Krishts. I don't need no Krishts. You don't
need them neither. They ain't for us. You ain't so big like I could
to tell you how they makes mit us in Russia. I don't like you should
hold so much over no Krisht. For us they is devils."
"Teacher ain't no devil," cried Morris, and he would have laid down
his loyal life to have been able to add now, as he had some months
earlier, "she ain't no Krisht neither," but he knew that his mother
had guessed truly. Teacher was a Christian, she had told him so, and
he had sworn to protect her secret.
His mother's constant though generally smouldering hostility towards
Miss Bailey troubled and puzzled him. In fact, many things were beyond
his understanding. Night after night he lay in his corner behind the
stove and listened while his father and his father's friends railed
against the Christians and the Czar. He had seen strange meetings of
grim and intent men, had listened to low reading of strange threats
and mad reviling. And always he gathered that the Christian was a thing
unspeakable, unknowable, without truth, or heart or trust. A thing to
be feared and hated now but, in the glorious future, when the God of
Israel should be once more remindful of his people, a thing to be
triumphed over and trampled on.
Yet each morning Morris waited at the big school door for the smile
of a lady's face, the touch of a lady's hand, and each day he learned
new gentleness and love, new interests and new wonders under her
calm-eyed dominion. And behold, the lady was a Christian, and he loved
her and she was very good to him!
For his bright service to the cause of Nature in the matter of the
cat, she had decorated him, not with a button or a garter—though
neither would have been inappropriate—but with a ring bearing his
initials gorgeously entwined. Then proud and happy was Morris
Mogilewsky, and wild was the emulation of other members of the First
Reader Class. Then serious was Teacher's account with a jeweller over
in Columbia Street and grave her doubts as to Herr Froebel's blessing
on the scheme. But the problem was solved. Of all the busy hours in
Room 18's crowded day, there was none more happy than that devoted to
"Nature Study—Domestic Animals and Home Pets."
And then one morning Morris failed to answer to the roll-call. Never
had he been absent since his first day at school, and Miss Bailey was
full of uneasiness. Nathan Spiderwitz, Morris's friend and ally, was
also missing, but at half-past nine he arrived entirely breathless and
"Nathan," said Teacher reprovingly, "you are very late."
"Yiss ma'an. I tells you 'scuse," gasped Nathan. "On'y Morris—"
"Where is he?" cried Miss Bailey. "Is there anything the matter with
"Yiss ma'an. He ain't got no more that golden ring what you gives him
over that cat."
A murmur of commiseration swept through the room. "Oh, poor Morris!"
sighed Eva Gonorowsky. "Ain't that fierce! From sure gold rings is
awful stylish und they cost whole bunches of money."
"Morris is a silly little boy," said Teacher crossly, for she had been
frightened, as it now seemed, to no purpose. "I'll measure his finger
for a new ring when he comes in."
"He ain't comin'," said Nathan briefly.
"Not coming to school simply because he lost a ring! Nonsense! Nathan,
you just run back to Morris's house and tell him he must come. Tell
him I'll give him a new ring and—"
"But he ain't to his house," Nathan objected. "I seen how he goes
"Well, then, how did he go away?"
"Teacher, it's like this. Me und Morris we stands by our block when
comes the baker's wagon. Und the baker he goes in the groc'ry store
to sell bread und his wagon und horse stands by us. Und, say, on the
horse's face is something, from leather, so the horse couldn't to eat.
He couldn't to open his mouth even. But all times he longs out his
neck like he should eat und he looks on me und Morris. So Morris he
says: 'Ain't it fierce how that bad man makes mit that horse? Something
from leather on the face ain't healthy for horses. I guess I takes it
"But he didn't, Nathan?"
"Yiss ma'an, he takes it off. He says like that: 'You know how Teacher
says we should make all times what is lovin' mit dogs und cats und
horses.' Und say, Teacher, Missis Bailey, that's how you says. He had
a ring over it. A from sure gold ring mit his name—"
"But the horse?" Miss Bailey interrupted. "The horse with the muzzle.
I remember, dear, what I said, but I hope Morris didn't touch that
"Sure did he," cried Nathan. "He buttons out that thing what I told
you from leather, on the horse's face, und the horse he swallows the
"Why, I never heard of such a thing," gasped Miss Bailey. And Nathan
"Morris, he gives the horse a sweet potato und the horse he swallows
the golden ring. He swallows it way, way, WAY down. Und it was from
"But it must have been very loose or it wouldn't have come off his
finger so easily."
"It didn't come off," said Nathan patiently. "The horse he swallowed
the finger too—four fingers—und it was from sure gold ring mit his
name scratched in on it, what he had off of you, Teacher, for present
over that cat."
"Oh, you must be wrong," cried Miss Bailey, "it can't be as bad as you
"Yiss ma'an, from sure gold nut—"
"But his hand. Are you sure about his hand?"
"I seen it," said Nathan. "I seen how comes blood on the sidewalk. I
seen how comes a great big all of people. I seen how comes Morris's
mamma und hollers like a fair theayter. I seen how comes Patrick
Brennan's papa—he's a cop—und he makes come the amb'lance. Und
sooner the doctor seen how comes blood on the sidewalk he says like
this: so Morris bleeds four more inches of blood he don't got no more
blood in his body. Say, I seen right into Morris He's red inside.
So-o-oh, the doctor he bandages up his hand und takes him in the
amb'lance, und all times his mamma hollers und yells und says mad words
on the doctor so he had a mad over her. Und Morris he lays in the
amb'lance und cries. Now he's sick."
School dragged heavily that morning for the distressed and powerless
Miss Bailey. She thought remorsefully of the trusty armour of timidity
which she had, plate by plate, stripped from her favourite, and of the
bravery and loving kindness which she had so carefully substituted and
which had led the child—Where?
"Nathan," she called as the children were going home, "do you know to
what hospital Morris was taken? Did you see the doctor?"
"Sure did I."
"Was he a tall doctor? Had you ever seen him before?"
"No ma'an," answered Nathan with a beautiful directness. "It wasn't
your fellow We ain't seen him from long. But Morris he goes on the
Guv'neer Hospital. I ain't never seen the doctor, but I knows the
driver und the horse."
Shortly after three o'clock that afternoon Miss Bailey and Doctor
Ingraham were standing beside a little bed in Gouverneur Hospital.
"Nathan is a horrible little liar," said the doctor genially. "Morris
will be as well as ever in a week or so. The horse stood on his foot
and bruised it rather badly, but he has all his fingers and his ring
too. Haven't you, old man?"
"Yiss ma'an, yiss sir; I got it here," answered the boy, as, with his
uninjured hand, he drew up his battered trophy, hung about his neck
on a piece of antiseptic gauze. "It's from sure gold und you gives it
to me over that cat. But say, Teacher, Missis Bailey, horses ain't
"No, dear, I know; that was a wicked horse."
"Yiss ma'an; I guess you don't know 'bout horses. You said boys should
make all times what is loving mit horses, but horses don't make what
is lovin' mit boys. Und my mamma she says it's a foolishness you should
make what is lovin' mit somebody sooner somebody don't make what is
loving mit you."
"That," said Dr. Ingraham, with a reproachful eye upon Miss Bailey,
"is one of the truest truths in all the laws and the prophets. 'A
foolishness' it certainly is."
"That's how my mamma says," Morris plaintively continued. "Und I guess
she knows. I done it und now I'm got a sickness over it."
"Of course you have," acquiesced the doctor. "So have I. We all get
it at times and its name is—"
"Don't listen to him, honey," Miss Bailey interrupted. "You will be
all right again in a few weeks."
"Years," interposed the doctor.
"And while you are here I shall come to see you every day to bring you
books and candy and to tell you stories."
"Tell me one now," Morris implored. "Take off your hat so I can put
mine head at your necktie, und then you should tell me that story over,
'Once upon some time when that world was young.'"
It was nearly five o'clock when Miss Bailey gently disengaged herself
and set out upon her uptown way. She passed from the hush of the
hospital walls and halls into another phase of her accountability.
Upon the steps, a woman, wild-eyed and dishevelled, was hurling an
unintelligible mixture of pleading and abuse upon the stalwart frame
of Patrick Brennan's father, the policeman on the beat. The woman tore
her hair, wept, and beat her breast, but Mr. Brennan's calm was
"You can't see him," he remarked. "Didn't they tell you that Thursday
was visiting day? Well, and isn't this Choos-day? Go home now and shut
"Mine Gott, he will die!" wailed the woman.
"Not he," said Mr. Brennan. "Go home now and come back on Thursday.
There's no good standing there. And there's no good in coming back in
half an hour. You'll not see him before Thurs-day."
The woman fell to wild weeping and her sympathetic neighbours followed
"Ach, mine little boy!" she wailed. "Mine arme little Morris!" And
"arme little Morris" the neighbours echoed.
"Morris Mogilewsky?" asked Miss Bailey.
"Yes ma'an," answered Mr. Brennan with a shrug.
"Yes ma'an," cried the neighbours in shrill chorus.
"Yes ma'an," wailed the woman. "Mine Morris. They makes I shouldn't
to see him. They takes him here the while he gets killed off of a
"Killed und chawed off of a horse," shrieked the comforting neighbours.
"And are you his mother?" pursued Miss Bailey.
"Yes ma'an," they all answered as before.
"Very well, I think I can take you to see him. But not if you are going
to be noisy."
A stillness as of death settled upon Mrs. Mogilewsky as she sank down
at Miss Bailey's feet in dumb appeal. And Constance Bailey saw in the
eyes, so like Morris's, fixed upon her face, a world of misery which
she had surely though innocently wrought.
Dr. Ingraham was summoned and bent to Miss Bailey's will. A few moments
later Morris's languid gaze embraced his mother, his teacher, and his
doctor. The latter found Mrs. Mogilewsky's woe impervious to any
soothing. "Chawed off of a horse!" she whimpered. "All the child what
I got, chawed off of a horse!"
"Wicked old horse!" ejaculated Teacher.
"Crazy old Teacher!" snorted Mrs. Mogilewsky. "Fool old Teacher! I
sends my little boy on the school so he should the English write und
talk und the numbers learn so he comes—through the years maybe—American
man, und she learns him foolishness over dogs und cats und
horses. Crazy, crazy, crazy!"
"Oh, come now. That's rather strong," remonstrated Doctor Ingraham,
with a quizzical glance at Miss Bailey. Mrs. Mogilewsky wheeled towards
"Do you know Morris's teacher?" she asked eagerly. "Ach, lady, kind
lady, tell me where is her house; I like I shall tell her how she make
sickness on my little boy. He lays on the bed over her. I like I should
tell her somethings."
"Mrs. Mogilewsky," began Miss Bailey, gently, "there is nothing you
could say to her that would make her more sorry than she is. She is
broken-hearted already, and if you don't stop talking like that you
will make her cry. And then Morris would surely cry too; shouldn't
"Teacher, yiss ma'an," quavered Morris.
"You!" groaned Mrs. Mogilewsky. "Be you Morris's teacher? Gott, how
I makes mistakes! So you learn him that foolishness extra so he gets
chawed off of horses?"
"Nonsense," interposed the doctor. "Miss Bailey is ridiculously fond
of that child of yours."
"So-o-oh," began Mrs. Mogilewsky. "So-o-oh, she ain't done it extra?"
"Purposely? Of course not," answered the doctor.
"Ach, well, I should better maybe, excuse her." Mrs. Mogilewsky,
placated and bland, resumed: "I excuse her the while she ain't so awful
old. She makes, sometimes, mistakes too. I like you should come—the
both—on my house for see me some day. That makes me glad in mine
"Oh mamma, mamma," cried Morris, "they couldn't to come by our house.
They is Krishts. She is Krishts und he is Krishts. From long she tells
me. Und you says, you says—"
"Think shame," his mother admonished him. "Ain't you seen how she is
lovin' mit you? Und Morris, mine golden one, I am all times lovin' mit
somebody what is lovin' mit you. Ain't I excused her over it und made
her invitation on my house?
"And we shall be delighted," said the doctor, as he led the speechless
Miss Bailey away. "It is uncommonly good of you to have forgiven her.
But, as you, with keenest insight, discern, she is not very old. Perhaps
she will reform."
"Reform! I hate the very word," sighed Miss Bailey, for the day had
been trying and her discouragement was great. "I've been trying to
reform these people ever since I came down here. I've failed and failed
and failed; misunderstood time and time again; made mistake after
mistake. And now I've nearly killed that boy. The woman was right. It
was all my fault."
"It might be better—" began the Doctor and halted. "You might be
happier if you—"
"Resigned?" suggested Teacher. "Yes, sometimes I think I shall."
"Do," said Doctor Ingraham. "That's a capital beginning."