Read Chapter III - The new scholar of Little Frankie at School, free online book, by Madeline Leslie, on

In a house near the one where Miss Grant boarded was a little girl whose name was Hitty Moran.  Her real name was Mehitable, but her mother and all her companions called her Hitty.  She belonged to a very poor family, and as she was the eldest of a number of children, her mother thought she could not spare her to attend school.

From the windows of her chamber, Miss Grant often saw Hitty sitting on the doorstep, holding a large baby in her arms.  She noticed that Hitty was always kind to her baby brother; that she sung to him, let him pull her long hair, and never became impatient or fretful with him.  All this interested the kind teacher in the child, and she longed to be of some use to her.

One day, when she was returning from her school, she overtook Hitty, who was carrying a heavy basket of potatoes.  “Let me help you,” said the teacher, taking hold of the handle.

As they walked along, Miss Grant asked, “Did you ever go to school?”

“No, ma’am,” said Hitty; “though I staid in a house once where the lady’s son taught me my letters.”

“Should you like to learn?” asked the teacher.

“O, yes, ma’am; sure I should be proud if I could read; but mother has so much work, and Bobby takes kindly to me, so that she can’t spare me to go to school.”

“I should think it could be planned somehow for you to learn,” said Miss Grant, kindly.  “I will go in and see your mother this evening.”

She did so, and talked with Mrs. Moran of the advantage it would be to Hitty, if she could learn to read and write.

“Only think,” said the lady, “she could teach her brothers their letters, and read them pretty stories to keep them quiet while you are busy at work.”

“Feth, ma’am, sure, and I’ve sinse enough to see the truth of what you’re saying,” said the poor mother.  “Her father often gets a paper from the ould country; but it’s little use to us, you see, because the spelling and the pronouncing are quite beyont him.  I’ve often enough wished we could have the luck to give one of the childer an education.”

“Can’t you spare her to go to school a part of the time?”

“Sure, ma’am, and that’s the trouble intirely.  The teachers complain when the childer don’t be regular.”

Just at this moment one of the children fell down, and began to cry so loud, that Miss Grant took her leave.  She was in earnest about doing something for Hitty; and she walked as far as Mrs. Gray’s, to ask her advice about it.

“Why don’t you allow her to attend your school?” inquired the lady.  “One hour in the day would be better than nothing.”

“I should be glad to do so, if I thought the parents would not object,” answered the teacher.  “I think with a little trouble she could be made to look tidy.”

Miss Grant was not at all rich, but when a lady is resolved to do a kindness, she always finds out a way.  She knew that Hitty had no dress suitable to wear to school.  She opened her purse after she had reached home, and taking out some money she had laid by to purchase a new book, she walked to the store, and bought some calico to make a child’s dress.

On her way back she called at Mrs. Moran’s, and told her Hitty might come to her school every afternoon if her mother could not spare her in the morning, and that if her mother would try to send her, she would provide a new gown.

Mrs. Moran was very grateful for this kindness, and promised to get along without Hitty whenever she could.  In three days, the little girl called for her teacher, her face and hands so bright, and clean, and rosy, that you would scarcely know her.  The dress fitted charmingly, and the grateful smile and look of delight with which, she regarded herself when Miss Grant tied on a neat apron with pockets in it, quite repaid the lady for all her expense and trouble.

Most of the scholars were kind to Hitty, and willingly lent her a slate, pencil, or book, when their teacher requested it.  But one little girl, whose name I am sorry to say was Nelly, did not like to play with Hitty, because she lived in such a poor house.

She was ashamed to refuse when her teacher asked her to show the new scholar how to make the figures on her slate; but she had a pout on her lips, which Miss Grant had never seen there before, and her voice did not sound sweet and kind.

When the lady saw these marks of pride in her beloved pupil, it made her heart ache.  She had been so full of love to the poor, ignorant child, and so anxious to do her good, that she could not bear the thought of any one in her school treating Hitty unkindly.  For a moment she gazed sorrowfully in Nelly’s flushed face, saw her move away from her new schoolmate as far on the seat as she could, and then she called, “Hitty, come and sit by me.”

Presently Frankie raised his little fat hand, and when she nodded to him that he had permission to speak, he asked, “May the new girl see me make pictures on the blackboard?”

“Yes, darling,” answered the lady, rising and patting him on his curly head.  “Perhaps you can teach her to make a picture too.”

“See, Hitty,” said Frankie; “this is the way to do it;” and the dear boy stood very erect and proud of the confidence of his teacher.

When Miss Grant glanced toward Nelly, she was sorry to see that the little girl looked angry, that her cousin was taking so much pains with the new girl, and that he seemed so happy in doing it.

Shall I tell you what I think the bad spirit was whispering in her ear?  It was this:  “Nelly, your father is rich; you live in a fine house and wear nice clothes; you are right not to like to sit by Hitty, who is very poor and ignorant.”

Ah, my little girl, do you remember who has given you so many blessings?  It is God; but if you are not grateful to him, and kind to those who are less favored, he may take away your father and mother, and leave you without home or friends.