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- Little Citizens - 1/28 -
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 scared!"
"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 with you"
"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 reported.
"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 kind feelings."
"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 etiquette.
"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,
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