Gateway to the Classics: The Way of the Gate by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
The Way of the Gate by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

Grandmother's First Day at School

Once upon a time, when it was long ago, Grandmother was a little girl named Caroline.

She lived in a big white house with a piazza and pillars. A little way farther along was the schoolhouse. It was a district school, painted red. It had benches instead of seats and desks. It was only one story high and the teacher was a man who wore big horn spectacles.

After a while Grandmother was six years old. Great-grandmother, who was Grandmother's mother, said:

"Caroline, it is time for you to begin school. I have bought you a reading book, and a spelling book, and a book of sums. Monday I will take you to school. I am sure that you will be a studious, good child."

"Yes, Mother," Caroline said. She tried to smile, but deep down in her heart she felt unhappy. She had never spent a day away from her mother, alone, in all her life. Even to think of it made her feel like crying.

But Monday came, and Great-grandmother and Grandmother started across the green grass common to the red school house. Grandmother looked like a little rose in her pink lawn dress with ruffles and her green silk jacket. She carried in one hand her school books, strapped together. Each one was neatly covered with calico. In the other hand she carried a little basket. It held an apple, and some bread and butter, and a saucer pie.

School began and Great-grandmother went home.

Grandmother was left in the red schoolhouse, sitting with the A B C class on a hard bench. The bench was so high that her feet in their little morocco shoes would not touch the floor. Of all the A B C class, Grandmother was the smallest one. The sound of the birds and the bees outside the window made her homesick. The schoolmaster in his big spectacles looked very stern.

Soon, however, it was recess time and all the children went out to play. Grandmother ate her lunch, and then sat down, alone, under a tree. She was too shy to play with the others. She began to cry. Then, one by one, the other children, who were too old to cry, began to make fun of her.

They pointed at Grandmother, and they laughed at her, especially the little boys. Grandmother tried to stop crying, but she could not. She tried to pass the children and go into the schoolhouse, but they would not let her.

But just then a little boy in a blue jacket with brass soldier buttons ran up to where Grandmother stood, crying. He pushed the other children away from her. He was a little country boy. He walked all the long way to school, every morning, and then home in time to do the chores. His mother had spun and dyed and woven his blue coat, and the buttons had been on his father's soldier coat. His name was John.

Like a soldier, John stood by Grandmother and took care of her. When the school bell rang at the end of recess time, John took Grandmother's hand and walked bravely with her into school. She stopped crying. The other children decided, then, that they would be kind, too, to the new little girl.

Who do you suppose that little boy, John, from the country was? Why, that was Grandfather!

Ye ought to help the weak.

—Acts xx. 35.

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