Read Chapter II - One day at school of Little Frankie at School, free online book, by Madeline Leslie, on

I suppose you will wish to know how Frankie and Nelly liked their new school, and whether they continued to love their teacher.

In answer to these questions, I shall give you an account of a day they passed about a week after the school commenced.

It was a lovely morning in June.  After breakfast and prayers in the family of Mr. Gray, Frankie ran out into the garden to gather a bouquet for his teacher.  He and Nelly kept her vase well filled with flowers.  He put the bouquet into a pitcher of water to keep it fresh, and then ran to the sink to wash his face and hands very clean; after which he went into the nursery for Sally to pin on a clean collar, and to brush his hair.

While she was doing this, he called out to his mother, who was in the next room, “Mamma, mayn’t I learn to part my hair myself?  I’m almost seven, you know.”

“Yes, indeed,” she answered.  “You may learn as soon as you please.  Sally will show you how to hold the comb to make the parting straight.”

“I wish my hair would lie down,” exclaimed the boy, giving the brush a quick, impatient jerk.  It curls up so close, I can’t make it look smooth.  And he brushed the front lock with all his strength.

“There, now, that looks well enough,” said nurse in a comforting tone.  “You might as well try to keep the wind from blowing as to try to keep your hair from curling.  It will form little rings, do all you can.”

“Now I’m ready!” shouted Frankie, taking his bouquet in his hand.

In the mean time, Nelly had been to her aunt’s room, and had her long hair combed out smoothly, and then brushed over the curling stick.  It was quite a tedious operation, and required to be very wet before the comb could be passed through it; but Nelly bore it patiently, as her aunt always tried to pass the time away agreeably, by giving her some easy example in arithmetic, or hearing a line of the multiplication table, or telling her a short story.  By the time this was done, Sally had turned the mattress; and the little girl made up her bed, laying on the sheets and counterpane very smoothly, so that not a rumple could be seen.  Then she hung up such of her clothes as were lying about the room, put her shoes into the bag on the inside of the closet door, then dressed herself in a clean apron, and was ready, by the time Frankie called, to take the flowers Willie had gathered for her, and walk out with him to meet their dear teacher.

Sometimes, when they were early, they went as far as the house where she boarded, and stood at the gate until she appeared; but generally they sat down on the stone wall under the shade of the large maple tree at the entrance to their avenue, and watched until she came in sight.  Then they ran eagerly to give her their morning kiss, and present their little offering of flowers.

On this pleasant June morning, they each took a hand as usual, and walked on rapidly toward the school, talking merrily as they went.

When they reached the building, they found nearly all the other scholars, eighteen in number, waiting the arrival of Miss Grant.  They went into the school room, took off their hats and bonnets, hung them up in the closet, and then went quietly to their seats on the steps, the little ones on the lower steps, and the others above them on the higher.

When the church clock struck nine, the teacher rang the small bell, when every eye was closed, and every head was bowed for prayer.  The little voices all joined in repeating the Lord’s Prayer, after which they sung a verse of the hymn, ­

“There is a happy land,
Far, far away,
Where saints in glory stand,
Bright, bright as day.”

After this, they pass down from the gallery, and march along to their seats.  For the next half hour the school is quite still, while the pupils are studying the reading and spelling lessons:  when the bell strikes again, they march out in order to the front of the chair where their teacher sits.

As soon as one class has recited, another is called, until every little pupil has read and spelled.

When this has been done, every face begins to brighten, for they know what the next exercise is; and they like it very much.  The largest girl takes her place on the circle, and the others follow her according to their size, until they come down to the smallest one, who is a pretty blue-eyed little urchin of four summers.

Miss Grant then strikes up a lively tune to the words, ­

“This is the way we wash our face,
This is the way we wash our face,
This is the way we wash our face,

                    So early in the morning,” ­

each little hand is vigorously employed in rubbing the face, as they merrily follow each other around the circle.  As soon as they finish one verse, they stop a moment, to avoid being made dizzy, and then begin again: ­

“This is the way we comb our hair,
This is the way we comb our hair,
This is the way we comb our hair,

                      So early in the morning.

“This is the way we brush our teeth,
This is the way we brush our teeth,
This is the way we brush our teeth,

                      So early in the morning.

“This is the way we clean our nails,
This is the way we clean our nails,
This is the way we clean our nails,

                      So early in the morning.”

After this marching and singing, the children return to their seats to prepare a lesson in geography, which they recite standing near the globe, the teacher pointing out the places upon it.

Recess and the various sports recommended by the teacher follow, and then come arithmetic and the numeral frame.  This is a wooden frame about a foot square, with twelve stout wires passing from one side to the other.  Strung on each of these wires are twelve round stones, about the size of marbles.  With this frame Miss Grant taught her little scholars to add, subtract, and multiply numbers, in the same manner that Mrs. Gray had taught her little pupils with marbles.

At the close of the morning session, the children marched in the circle again, singing five times five are twenty-five, and five times six are thirty, to the tune of Yankee Doodle.

In the afternoon, the exercises were quite as varied.  The lessons mostly being committed in the morning, the children were allowed to tell stories, which the teacher wrote for them on the blackboard, ­or they recited hymns and verses they had learned; sung, marched, and listened to the instructions of their teacher.