From the Young Woman’s Journal, 1903 –
Freckles and All
By Susan A. Talmage
“Mornin’,” and someone passed my desk.
“Good morning,” I answered without looking up.
“Anybody sit in this seat?”
“Yes,” I said, still intent upon my book.
Then there was silence for the space of a few minutes when another question made its appearance.
“Say, do you lick the kids?”
Then I became aware that a “new boy” was questioning me.
“Why, do you want a whipping?”
“Nope, can’t say that I do. But I bet you lick me before I’ve been in school a week. All the teachers does.”
it was one of my weak points to love boys. Especially do I love them at what I call the “monkey age” – about nine, that is, when they are so full of mischief that it is constantly spilling over and showing itself in their eyes and at the corners of their mouths.
Again, I have a special fondness for boys of this age, who have a plentiful supply of freckles, real genuine freckles and sun-burn, and tousled hair, and chubby hands that never are still a moment.
This boy before me answers all these requirements, so I said:
“What grade are you in?”
“Third. But I can’t spell worth a marble. Used to worry Miss Beel nearly sick about. Say, what do you s’pose would happen if a feller never learned to spell?”
“Some day he would surely be very sorry about it.”
“I wouldn’t,” and then after a minute’s pause he said:
“Ain’t that a pretty dress you got on? It looks like the leaves of a pink rose. And I like you ‘cause you ain’t thin, and then you’ve got red in your cheeks and your hair is curly, and why, teacher, you are as pretty as my black puppy, every bit!”
His voice was so earnest that I took the doubtful compliment in good part, and said:
“You may take the fourth seat to the left. That is the spelling for the Third grade on the south board.”
Then began such a series of boyish pranks! Sometimes he failed miserably at his work, and I found all that he had said about his ability to spell to be strictly true.
He did not make friends very quickly. Indeed it pleased him much more to be asked to do some little task for me at the recess periods than to be sent out to play
I soon knew the whole history of his various pets at home. His rabbits were so tame that he could call them and they ran to him. His puppy could run and swim and get a stick from the water, and last but not least were his pigeons.
With the discipline in the school room I had not the least trouble with him, but one night after the classes had dismissed he was found fighting with a much larger boy form one of the other rooms.
For various reasons there had been a strict rule made concerning fighting on the school grounds. In this case neither boy would tell what the quarrel was about. My pleading with the principal had very little weight, and both boys were suspended from school indefinitely.
About a week later I found in my desk, one morning, a small box. Inside was a bunch of yellow pansies tied with an ungainly knot of red ribbon. I knew who had put it there before I had read the note in the bottom of the box.
“Dear Teacher –
“We are goin away tomorrow. Thanks fer being so good to me, and I love you fer it.”
That was what it said and after I had read it I placed it carefully away and put the pansies in water.
A long time after this I saw the larger boy, who had returned to school.
“John,” I said, “please to tell me what your trouble was about.”
He hung his head for a moment before he blurted out:
“I said a mean thing about you and your kid licked me fer it.”
I have never heard of my little champion since.