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

The First School Day

The school bell is ringing. I can't play with you any longer, Snowball," Molly said as she set the white kitten down on the kitchen floor beside its mother.

The old cat looked up into Molly's face and then at her fluffy little white baby. She put one soft paw on Snow ball's back and with the other gently rubbed Snowball's little pink nose. Then she washed her own face and, presently, the kitten was washing her face, too, for she had learned the way.

"Kittens must learn their lessons, too!" mewed the old mother pussy.

Molly ran out of the door and down through the garden. She passed Biddy Top Knot, her little bantam hen, with the brood of little chickens about her.

"The school bell is ringing and I have my new school bag here," Molly called back. "I can't feed you, Biddy Top Knot, until I come home."

The little bantam hen looked at Molly and then at her wee chickens. She scratched about with her two yellow feet in the dirt of the garden walk very hard for worms. Her brood of chickens watched her. Then they, too, began scratching with their yellow feet in the dirt very hard for worms. Biddy Top Knot watched them. Then she clucked as loudly as she could, and it seemed as if she were saying:

"Chickens must learn their lessons, too."

Down the road by the side of the pond Molly ran. At the edge of the pond was Mrs. Paddle Foot, the duck, and behind her in a long row were all the little Paddle Foot ducklings, round and fluffy and web-footed.

"The school bell is ringing, Paddle Foot, and I shall see my new teacher," said Molly. " I can't stop to give you any bread crumbs now, but I will save some from my luncheon for you."

Mrs. Paddle Foot looked at Molly. Then she quacked loudly to all the little Paddle Foots and jumped into the pond and swam about a moment. She swam back to shore and came up on the bank and quacked again to the little Paddle Foots. She jumped into the water again. This time all the little Paddle Foot ducklings jumped in, too, and swam about in a long yellow line behind their mother.

"Quack, quack," said Mrs. Paddle Foot, "ducklings must learn lessons, too."

Then Molly came to the pretty white school. The bell stopped ringing and she went inside with all the other children. Then the new teacher gave them their beautiful new books and they began learning just as happily as kitten Snowball, and Biddy Top Knot's chickens, and the Paddle Foot Ducklings. Creatures and children, and every one have lessons to get, some in school, and some outside.

Wisdom is the principal thing. Therefore get wisdom.

—Proverbs iv. 7.

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