THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
At last schooldays began, and one Monday morning the three Maynards started off.
The first day of school was a great occasion, and much preparation had been made for it.
Mr. Maynard had brought each of the children a fine new box, well stocked with pencils, pens, and things of that sort. Kitty had a new slate, and Midget and King had new blankbooks.
Also, they were all in a state of clean starchiness, and the girls' pretty gingham dresses and King's wide white collar were immaculate.
Marjorie didn't look especially happy, but her mother said:
"Now, Mopsy, dear, don't go to school as if it were penance. Try to enjoy it, and think of the fun you'll have playing with the other girls at recess."
"I know, Mother; but recess is so short, and school is so long."
"Ho! Only till one o'clock," said Kingdon. "Then we can come home, have lunch, and then there's all the afternoon to play."
"Yes, for you," said Marjorie. "But I have to practice a whole hour, and that leaves almost no time at all, and there are so many things I want to do."
"Now, my little girl," said Mrs. Maynard, very seriously, "you must try to conquer that mood. You know you have to go to school, so why not make the best of it? You don't really dislike it as much as you think you do. So, cheer up, little daughter, and run along, determined to see the bright side, even of school."
"I will try, Mother," said Midget, smiling, as she received her good-bye kiss, "but I'll be glad when it's one o'clock."
"I wiss me could go to school," said Rosy Posy, wistfully; "me an' Boffin, we'd have fun in school."
"There it is," said Mrs. Maynard, laughing. "Little girls who can go to school don't want to go, and little girls who can't go do want to!"
"You'll go someday, Baby," said King, "but they won't let you take Boffin."
"Den I won't go!" declared Rosy Posy, decidedly.
The three walked down the path to the gate, and, soon after they reached the street, they were joined by several others, also schoolward bound.
Marjorie's spirits rose, as she chatted with the merry young people; and as they passed the Fulton house, and Dick and Gladys came out, Marjorie was so glad to see her friend that she was at once her own happy, merry little self again.
Miss Lawrence's room was one of the pleasantest in the big brick building. When Marjorie and Gladys presented themselves at her desk, and asked if they might sit together, the teacher hesitated. She wanted to grant the request of the little girls, but they had been in her class the year before, and she well knew their propensities for mischief.
"Oh, please, Miss Lawrence!" begged Marjorie; and, "Oh, do say yes!" pleaded Gladys.
It was hard to resist the little coaxers, and Miss Lawrence at last consented.
"But," she said, "you may sit at the same desk only so long as you behave well. If you cut up naughty pranks, I shall separate you for the rest of the term."
"We won't!" "We will be good!" cried the two children, and they ran happily away to their desk.
Each desk was arranged for two occupants, and both Marjorie and Gladys enjoyed putting their things away neatly, and keeping them in good order. They never spilled ink, or kept their papers helter-skelter, and but for their mischievous ways, would have been model pupils indeed.
"Let's be real good all the term, Gladys," said Midget, who was still under the influence of her mother's parting words. "Let's try not to cut up tricks, or do anything bad."
"All right, Mopsy. But you mustn't make me laugh in school. It's when you begin to do funny things that I seem to follow on."
"Well, I won't. I'll be as good as a little white mouse. But if I'm a mouse, I'll nibble your things."
Down went Marjorie's curly head like a flash, and when it came up again, Gladys' new penholder was between her teeth, and the "mouse" was vigorously nibbling it.
"Stop that, Mops! I think you're real mean! That's my new penholder, and now you've spoiled it."
"So I have! Honest, Gladys, I didn't think the dents would show so. I was just playing mouse, you know. Here, I'll change, and give you mine. It's new, too."
"No, I won't take it."
"Yes, you will; you must. I'm awfully sorry I chewed yours."
Poor little Midget! She was always impulsively getting into mischief, but she was always sorry, and generously anxious to make amends.
So Gladys took Marjorie's penholder, and Mopsy had the nibbled one. She didn't like it a bit, for she liked to have her things in good order, but she said to Gladys:
"Perhaps it will make me remember to be good in school. Oh, s'pose I'd played mouse in school hours!"
"Keep still," said Gladys, "the bell has rung."
The morning passed pleasantly enough, for there were no lessons on the first day of school.
Books were distributed, and class records were made, and lessons given out for next day.
Marjorie was delighted with her new geography, which was a larger book than the one she had had the year before. Especially was she pleased with a large map which was called the "Water Hemisphere." On the opposite page was the "Land Hemisphere," and this was a division of the globe she had never seen before.
The Water Hemisphere pleased her best, and she at once began to play games with it.
Talking was, of course, forbidden, but motioning for Gladys to follow her example, she made a tiny paper boat, and then another, and several others. These she set afloat on the printed ocean of the Water Hemisphere. Gladys, delighted with the fun, quickly made some boats for herself, and arranged them on her own geography. Other pupils, seeing what was going on, followed the example, and soon nearly all the geographies in the room had little paper craft dotting their oceans.
Next, Marjorie made some little men and women to put in the boats. She had no scissors, but tore them roughly out of paper which she took from her blankbook. Other leaves of this she obligingly passed around, until all the boats in the room were supplied with passengers.
Then Marjorie, still in her position of leader, tore out a semblance of a fish. It seemed to be a whale or shark, with wide-open jaws.
This awful creature came slowly up from the Antarctic Ocean, toward the ships full of people.
Suddenly a boat upset, the passengers fell out, and the whale made a dash for them.
This awful catastrophe was repeated in the other oceans, and, needless to say, in a moment the whole roomful of children were in peals of laughter.
Miss Lawrence looked up from her writing, and saw her class all giggling and shaking behind their geographies. Instinctively she glanced toward Marjorie, but that innocent damsel had swept all her boats and whales into her pocket, and was demurely studying her lessons.
Marjorie did not in the least mean to deceive Miss Lawrence, but when the children all laughed, she suddenly realized that she had been out of order, and so she quickly stopped her play, and resumed her task.
Observing the open geographies covered with scraps of paper, Miss Lawrence felt she must at least inquire into the matter, and, though the children did not want to "tell tales," it soon transpired that Marjorie Maynard had been ringleader in the game.
"Why did you do it, Marjorie?" asked Miss Lawrence, with a reproachful expression on her face. As she had meant no harm, Marjorie felt called upon to defend herself.
"Why, Miss Lawrence," she said, rising in her seat, "I didn't think everybody would do it, just because I did. And I didn't think much about it anyway. I s'pose that's the trouble. I never think! But I never had a jography before with such a big ocean map, and it was such a lovely place to sail boats, I just made a few. And then I just thought I'd put some people in the boats, and then it seemed as if such a big ocean ought to have fish in it. So I made a whale,—and I was going to make a lot of bluefish and shads and things, but a boat upset, and the whale came after the people, and then, first thing I knew, everybody was laughing! I didn't mean to do wrong."
Marjorie looked so genuinely distressed that Miss Lawrence hadn't the heart to scold her. But she sighed as she thought of the days to come.
"No, Marjorie," she said, "I don't think you did mean to do wrong, but you ought to know better than to make paper toys to play with in school."
"But it isn't exactly a schoolday, Miss Lawrence."
"No; and for that very reason I shall not punish you this time. But remember, after this, that playing games of any sort is out of place in the schoolroom."
"Yes, ma'am," said Marjorie, and she sat down, feeling that she had been forgiven, and firmly resolved to try harder than ever to be good.
But half-suppressed chuckles now and then, in different parts of the schoolroom, proved to the watchful Miss Lawrence that some of the whales were still lashing about the paper oceans in quest of upturned boats.
The game so filled Marjorie's thoughts that she asked that Gladys and she might be allowed to stay in the schoolroom at recess and play it.
"There's surely no harm in playing games at recess, is there, Miss Lawrence?" she asked, as she caressed her teacher's hand.
Miss Lawrence hesitated. "No," she said, at last; "I can't let you stay in the schoolroom. I'm sorry, dearies, and I hate to be always saying 'No,' but I feel sure your parents want you to run out in the fresh air at recess time, and they wouldn't like to have you stay indoors."
"Oh, dear," said Marjorie; "seems 'sif we can't have any fun!" Then her face brightened, and she added, "But mayn't we take our jographies out on the playground, and play out there?"
There was a rule against taking schoolbooks out of the classrooms, but Miss Lawrence so disliked to say 'No' again that she made a special dispensation, and said:
"Yes, do take your geographies out with you. But be very careful not to soil or tear them."
And so the two girls danced away, and all through the recess hour, boats upset and awful sharks swallowed shrieking victims. But, as might have been expected, most of the other children came flying back to the schoolroom for their geographies, and again Miss Lawrence was in a quandary.
"I never saw a child like Marjorie Maynard," she confided to another teacher. "She's the dearest little girl, but she gets up such crazy schemes, and all the others follow in her footsteps."
So, after recess, Miss Lawrence had to make a rule that books could not be used as playthings, even at recess times.
For the rest of the morning, Marjorie was a model pupil.
She studied her lessons for the next day, and though Miss Lawrence glanced at her from time to time, she never saw anything amiss.
But when school was over at one o'clock, Marjorie drew a long breath and fairly flew for her hat.
"Good-bye, dearie," said Miss Lawrence, as Midge passed her when the long line filed out.
"Good-bye!" was the smiling response, and in two minutes more Mopsy was skipping and jumping across the playground.
"Hello, King!" she called. "Where's Kitty? Oh, here you are! Now we can all go home together. What shall we do this afternoon? I want to do something jolly to take the taste of school out of my mouth."
"Come over to our house and play in the hay," said Dick Fulton.
"All right, we will. I'll have my practicing done by three o'clock, and we'll come then."
A little later, and the three Maynards flew in at their own gate, and found a warm welcome and a specially good luncheon awaiting them.
"I got along pretty well, Mother," said Marjorie, as they all told their morning's experiences. "Only I couldn't help playing paper boats." She told the whole story, and Mrs. Maynard smiled as she said:
"Marjorie, you are incorrigible; but I fear you will only learn by experience——"
"What is incorrigible?" asked Marjorie.
"It's 'most too big a word for you to understand," said her mother, "but it means you must just keep on everlastingly trying to be good."
"I will," said Mops, heartily, and then she turned her attention to the chicken pie before her.