The day of Rebecca's arrival had beenFriday, and on the Monday following shebegan her education at the school whichwas in Riverboro Centre, about a mile distant.
Miss Sawyer borrowed a neighbor's horse andwagon and drove her to the schoolhouse, interviewingthe teacher, Miss Dearborn, arranging for books,and generally starting the child on the path thatwas to lead to boundless knowledge. Miss Dearborn,it may be said in passing, had had no specialpreparation in the art of teaching. It came to hernaturally, so her family said, and perhaps for thisreason she, like Tom Tulliver's clergyman tutor,"set about it with that uniformity of method andindependence of circumstances which distinguish theactions of animals understood to be under theimmediate teaching of Nature." You remember thebeaver which a naturalist tells us "busied himselfas earnestly in constructing a dam in a room upthree pair of stairs in London as if he had been layinghis foundation in a lake in Upper Canada. Itwas his function to build, the absence of water or ofpossible progeny was an accident for which he wasnot accountable." In the same manner did MissDearborn lay what she fondly imagined to befoundations in the infant mind.
Rebecca walked to school after the first morning.
She loved this part of the day's programme. Whenthe dew was not too heavy and the weather was fairthere was a short cut through the woods. She turnedoff the main road, crept through uncle Josh Woodman'sbars, waved away Mrs. Carter's cows, trod theshort grass of the pasture, with its well-worn pathrunning through gardens of buttercups and white-weed, and groves of ivory leaves and sweet fern.
She descended a little hill, jumped from stone tostone across a woodland brook, startling the drowsyfrogs, who were always winking and blinking in themorning sun. Then came the "woodsy bit," withher feet pressing the slippery carpet of brown pineneedles; the "woodsy bit" so full of dewy morning,surprises,--fungous growths of brilliant orange andcrimson springing up around the stumps of deadtrees, beautiful things born in a single night; andnow and then the miracle of a little clump of waxenIndian pipes, seen just quickly enough to be savedfrom her careless tread. Then she climbed a stile,went through a grassy meadow, slid under anotherpair of bars, and came out into the road again. havinggained nearly half a mile.
How delicious it all was! Rebecca clasped herQuackenbos's Grammar and Greenleaf's Arithmeticwith a joyful sense of knowing her lessons. Herdinner pail swung from her right hand, and shehad a blissful consciousness of the two soda biscuitsspread with butter and syrup, the baked cup-custard,the doughnut, and the square of hard gingerbread.
Sometimes she said whatever "piece" she was goingto speak on the next Friday afternoon.
"A soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers,There was lack of woman's nursing, there was dearth ofwoman's tears."How she loved the swing and the sentiment of it!