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Facts and Fancies
"Teaching is really very interesting work," wrote Anne to a Queen's
Academy chum. "Jane says she thinks it is monotonous but I don't find it
so. Something funny is almost sure to happen every day, and the children
say such amusing things. Jane says she punishes her pupils when they make
funny speeches, which is probably why she finds teaching monotonous. This
afternoon little Jimmy Andrews was trying to spell 'speckled' and couldn't
manage it. 'Well,' he said finally, 'I can't spell it but I know what it
"'What?' I asked.
"'St. Clair Donnell's face, miss.'
"St. Clair is certainly very much freckled, although I try to prevent the
others from commenting on it . . . for I was freckled once and well do I
remember it. But I don't think St. Clair minds. It was because Jimmy
called him 'St. Clair' that St. Clair pounded him on the way home from
school. I heard of the pounding, but not officially, so I don't think I'll
take any notice of it.
"Yesterday I was trying to teach Lottie Wright to do addition. I said, 'If
you had three candies in one hand and two in the other, how many would you
have altogether?' 'A mouthful,' said Lottie. And in the nature study
class, when I asked them to give me a good reason why toads shouldn't be
killed, Benjie Sloane gravely answered, 'Because it would rain the next
"It's so hard not to laugh, Stella. I have to save up all my amusement
until I get home, and Marilla says it makes her nervous to hear wild
shrieks of mirth proceeding from the east gable without any apparent
cause. She says a man in Grafton went insane once and that was how it
"Did you know that Thomas a Becket was canonized as a SNAKE? Rose Bell
says he was . . . also that William Tyndale WROTE the New Testament.
Claude White says a 'glacier' is a man who puts in window frames!
"I think the most difficult thing in teaching, as well as the most
interesting, is to get the children to tell you their real thoughts about
things. One stormy day last week I gathered them around me at dinner hour
and tried to get them to talk to me just as if I were one of themselves. I
asked them to tell me the things they most wanted. Some of the answers
were commonplace enough . . . dolls, ponies, and skates. Others were
decidedly original. Hester Boulter wanted 'to wear her Sunday dress every
day and eat in the sitting room.' Hannah Bell wanted 'to be good without
having to take any trouble about it.' Marjory White, aged ten, wanted to
be a WIDOW. Questioned why, she gravely said that if you weren't married
people called you an old maid, and if you were your husband bossed you;
but if you were a widow there'd be no danger of either. The most
remarkable wish was Sally Bell's. She wanted a 'honeymoon.' I asked her if
she knew what it was and she said she thought it was an extra nice kind of
bicycle because her cousin in Montreal went on a honeymoon when he was
married and he had always had the very latest in bicycles!
"Another day I asked them all to tell me the naughtiest thing they had
ever done. I couldn't get the older ones to do so, but the third class
answered quite freely. Eliza Bell had 'set fire to her aunt's carded
rolls.' Asked if she meant to do it she said, 'not altogether.' She just
tried a little end to see how it would burn and the whole bundle blazed up
in a jiffy. Emerson Gillis had spent ten cents for candy when he should
have put it in his missionary box. Annetta Bell's worst crime was 'eating
some blueberries that grew in the graveyard.' Willie White had 'slid down
the sheephouse roof a lot of times with his Sunday trousers on.' 'But I
was punished for it 'cause I had to wear patched pants to Sunday School
all summer, and when you're punished for a thing you don't have to repent
of it,' declared Willie.
"I wish you could see some of their compositions . . . so much do I wish
it that I'll send you copies of some written recently. Last week I told
the fourth class I wanted them to write me letters about anything they
pleased, adding by way of suggestion that they might tell me of some place
they had visited or some interesting thing or person they had seen. They
were to write the letters on real note paper, seal them in an envelope,
and address them to me, all without any assistance from other people. Last
Friday morning I found a pile of letters on my desk and that evening I
realized afresh that teaching has its pleasures as well as its pains.
Those compositions would atone for much. Here is Ned Clay's, address,
spelling, and grammar as originally penned.
"'Miss teacher ShiRley
p.e. Island can
"'Dear teacher I think I will write you a composition about birds. birds
is very useful animals. my cat catches birds. His name is William but pa
calls him tom. he is oll striped and he got one of his ears froz of last
winter. only for that he would be a good-looking cat. My unkle has adopted
a cat. it come to his house one day and woudent go away and unkle says it
has forgot more than most people ever knowed. he lets it sleep on his
rocking chare and my aunt says he thinks more of it than he does of his
children. that is not right. we ought to be kind to cats and give them new
milk but we ought not be better to them than to our children. this is oll
I can think of so no more at present from
edward blake ClaY.'"
"St. Clair Donnell's is, as usual, short and to the point. St. Clair never
wastes words. I do not think he chose his subject or added the postscript
out of malice aforethought. It is just that he has not a great deal of
tact or imagination."
"'Dear Miss Shirley
"'You told us to describe something strange we have seen. I will describe
the Avonlea Hall. It has two doors, an inside one and an outside one. It
has six windows and a chimney. It has two ends and two sides. It is
painted blue. That is what makes it strange. It is built on the lower
Carmody road. It is the third most important building in Avonlea. The
others are the church and the blacksmith shop. They hold debating clubs
and lectures in it and concerts.
"'P.S. The hall is a very bright blue.'"
"Annetta Bell's letter was quite long, which surprised me, for writing
essays is not Annetta's forte, and hers are generally as brief as St.
Clair's. Annetta is a quiet little puss and a model of good behavior, but
there isn't a shadow of orginality in her. Here is her letter.—
""I think I will write you a letter to tell you how much I love you. I
love you with my whole heart and soul and mind . . . with all there is of
me to love . . . and I want to serve you for ever. It would be my highest
privilege. That is why I try so hard to be good in school and learn my
"'You are so beautiful, my teacher. Your voice is like music and your eyes
are like pansies when the dew is on them. You are like a tall stately
queen. Your hair is like rippling gold. Anthony Pye says it is red, but
you needn't pay any attention to Anthony.
"'I have only known you for a few months but I cannot realize that there
was ever a time when I did not know you . . . when you had not come into
my life to bless and hallow it. I will always look back to this year as
the most wonderful in my life because it brought you to me. Besides, it's
the year we moved to Avonlea from Newbridge. My love for you has made my
life very rich and it has kept me from much of harm and evil. I owe this
all to you, my sweetest teacher.
"'I shall never forget how sweet you looked the last time I saw you in
that black dress with flowers in your hair. I shall see you like that for
ever, even when we are both old and gray. You will always be young and
fair to me, dearest teacher. I am thinking of you all the time. . . in the
morning and at the noontide and at the twilight. I love you when you laugh
and when you sigh . . . even when you look disdainful. I never saw you
look cross though Anthony Pye says you always look so but I don't wonder
you look cross at him for he deserves it. I love you in every dress . . .
you seem more adorable in each new dress than the last.
"'Dearest teacher, good night. The sun has set and the stars are shining .
. . stars that are as bright and beautiful as your eyes. I kiss your hands
and face, my sweet. May God watch over you and protect you from all harm.
""Your afecksionate pupil,
"This extraordinary letter puzzled me not a little. I knew Annetta
couldn't have composed it any more than she could fly. When I went to
school the next day I took her for a walk down to the brook at recess and
asked her to tell me the truth about the letter. Annetta cried and 'fessed
up freely. She said she had never written a letter and she didn't know how
to, or what to say, but there was bundle of love letters in her mother's
top bureau drawer which had been written to her by an old 'beau.'
"'It wasn't father,' sobbed Annetta, 'it was someone who was studying for
a minister, and so he could write lovely letters, but ma didn't marry him
after all. She said she couldn't make out what he was driving at half the
time. But I thought the letters were sweet and that I'd just copy things
out of them here and there to write you. I put "teacher" where he put
"lady" and I put in something of my own when I could think of it and I
changed some words. I put "dress" in place of "mood." I didn't know just
what a "mood" was but I s'posed it was something to wear. I didn't s'pose
you'd know the difference. I don't see how you found out it wasn't all
mine. You must be awful clever, teacher.'
"I told Annetta it was very wrong to copy another person's letter and pass
it off as her own. But I'm afraid that all Annetta repented of was being
"'And I do love you, teacher,' she sobbed. 'It was all true, even if the
minister wrote it first. I do love you with all my heart.'
"It's very difficult to scold anybody properly under such circumstances.
"Here is Barbara Shaw's letter. I can't reproduce the blots of the
""You said we might write about a visit. I never visited but once. It was
at my Aunt Mary's last winter. My Aunt Mary is a very particular woman and
a great housekeeper. The first night I was there we were at tea. I knocked
over a jug and broke it. Aunt Mary said she had had that jug ever since
she was married and nobody had ever broken it before. When we got up I
stepped on her dress and all the gathers tore out of the skirt. The next
morning when I got up I hit the pitcher against the basin and cracked them
both and I upset a cup of tea on the tablecloth at breakfast. When I was
helping Aunt Mary with the dinner dishes I dropped a china plate and it
smashed. That evening I fell downstairs and sprained my ankle and had to
stay in bed for a week. I heard Aunt Mary tell Uncle Joseph it was a mercy
or I'd have broken everything in the house. When I got better it was time
to go home. I don't like visiting very much. I like going to school
better, especially since I came to Avonlea.
"Willie White's began,
""I want to tell you about my Very Brave Aunt. She lives in Ontario and
one day she went out to the barn and saw a dog in the yard. The dog had no
business there so she got a stick and whacked him hard and drove him into
the barn and shut him up. Pretty soon a man came looking for an inaginary
lion' (Query;—Did Willie mean a menagerie lion?) 'that had run away
from a circus. And it turned out that the dog was a lion and my Very Brave
Aunt had druv him into the barn with a stick. It was a wonder she was not
et up but she was very brave. Emerson Gillis says if she thought it was a
dog she wasn't any braver than if it really was a dog. But Emerson is
jealous because he hasn't got a Brave Aunt himself, nothing but uncles.'
"'I have kept the best for the last. You laugh at me because I think Paul
is a genius but I am sure his letter will convince you that he is a very
uncommon child. Paul lives away down near the shore with his grandmother
and he has no playmates . . . no real playmates. You remember our School
Management professor told us that we must not have 'favorites' among our
pupils, but I can't help loving Paul Irving the best of all mine. I don't
think it does any harm, though, for everybody loves Paul, even Mrs. Lynde,
who says she could never have believed she'd get so fond of a Yankee. The
other boys in school like him too. There is nothing weak or girlish about
him in spite of his dreams and fancies. He is very manly and can hold his
own in all games. He fought St. Clair Donnell recently because St. Clair
said the Union Jack was away ahead of the Stars and Stripes as a flag. The
result was a drawn battle and a mutual agreement to respect each other's
patriotism henceforth. St. Clair says he can hit the HARDEST but Paul can
hit the OFTENEST.'"
"'My dear teacher,
"'You told us we might write you about some interesting people we knew. I
think the most interesting people I know are my rock people and I mean to
tell you about them. I have never told anybody about them except grandma
and father but I would like to have you know about them because you
understand things. There are a great many people who do not understand
things so there is no use in telling them.'
"'My rock people live at the shore. I used to visit them almost every
evening before the winter came. Now I can't go till spring, but they will
be there, for people like that never change . . . that is the splendid
thing about them. Nora was the first one of them I got acquainted with and
so I think I love her the best. She lives in Andrews' Cove and she has
black hair and black eyes, and she knows all about the mermaids and the
water kelpies. You ought to hear the stories she can tell. Then there are
the Twin Sailors. They don't live anywhere, they sail all the time, but
they often come ashore to talk to me. They are a pair of jolly tars and
they have seen everything in the world. . . and more than what is in the
world. Do you know what happened to the youngest Twin Sailor once? He was
sailing and he sailed right into a moonglade. A moonglade is the track the
full moon makes on the water when it is rising from the sea, you know,
teacher. Well, the youngest Twin Sailor sailed along the moonglade till he
came right up to the moon, and there was a little golden door in the moon
and he opened it and sailed right through. He had some wonderful
adventures in the moon but it would make this letter too long to tell
"'Then there is the Golden Lady of the cave. One day I found a big cave
down on the shore and I went away in and after a while I found the Golden
Lady. She has golden hair right down to her feet and her dress is all
glittering and glistening like gold that is alive. And she has a golden
harp and plays on it all day long . . . you can hear the music any time
along shore if you listen carefully but most people would think it was
only the wind among the rocks. I've never told Nora about the Golden Lady.
I was afraid it might hurt her feelings. It even hurt her feelings if I
talked too long with the Twin Sailors.'
"'I always met the Twin Sailors at the Striped Rocks. The youngest Twin
Sailor is very good-tempered but the oldest Twin Sailor can look
dreadfully fierce at times. I have my suspicions about that oldest Twin. I
believe he'd be a pirate if he dared. There's really something very
mysterious about him. He swore once and I told him if he ever did it again
he needn't come ashore to talk to me because I'd promised grandmother I'd
never associate with anybody that swore. He was pretty well scared, I can
tell you, and he said if I would forgive him he would take me to the
sunset. So the next evening when I was sitting on the Striped Rocks the
oldest Twin came sailing over the sea in an enchanted boat and I got in
her. The boat was all pearly and rainbowy, like the inside of the mussel
shells, and her sail was like moonshine. Well, we sailed right across to
the sunset. Think of that, teacher, I've been in the sunset. And what do
you suppose it is? The sunset is a land all flowers. We sailed into a
great garden, and the clouds are beds of flowers. We sailed into a great
harbor, all the color of gold, and I stepped right out of the boat on a
big meadow all covered with buttercups as big as roses. I stayed there for
ever so long. It seemed nearly a year but the Oldest Twin says it was only
a few minutes. You see, in the sunset land the time is ever so much longer
than it is here.'
"'Your loving pupil Paul Irving.'
"'P. S. of course, this letter isn't really true, teacher. P.I.'"