Song of the Lark
By the time Thea's fifteenth birthday came round, she was established as a
music teacher in Moonstone. The new room had been added to the house early
in the spring, and Thea had been giving her lessons there since the middle of
May. She liked the personal independence which was accorded her as a wage-
earner. The family questioned her comings and goings very little. She could go
buggy-riding with Ray Kennedy, for instance, without taking Gunner or Axel. She
could go to Spanish Johnny's and sing part songs with the Mexicans, and nobody
Thea was still under the first excitement of teaching, and was terribly in
earnest about it. If a pupil did not get on well, she fumed and fretted. She
counted until she was hoarse. She listened to scales in her sleep. Wunsch had
taught only one pupil seriously, but Thea taught twenty. The duller they were, the
more furiously she poked and prodded them. With the little girls she was nearly
always patient, but with pupils older than herself, she sometimes lost her temper.
One of her mistakes was to let herself in for a calling-down from Mrs. Livery
Johnson. That lady appeared at the Kronborgs' one morning and announced that
she would allow no girl to stamp her foot at her daughter Grace. She added that
Thea's bad manners with the older girls were being talked about all over town,
and that if her temper did not speedily improve she would lose all her advanced
pupils. Thea was frightened. She felt she could never bear the disgrace, if such a
thing happened. Besides, what would her father say, after he had gone to the
expense of building an addition to the house? Mrs. Johnson demanded an
apology to Grace. Thea said she was willing to make it. Mrs. Johnson said that
hereafter, since she had taken lessons of the best piano teacher in Grinnell,
Iowa, she herself would decide what pieces Grace should study. Thea readily
consented to that, and Mrs. Johnson rustled away to tell a neighbor woman that
Thea Kronborg could be meek enough when you went at her right.
Thea was telling Ray about this unpleasant encounter as they were driving
out to the sand hills the next Sunday.
"She was stuffing you, all right, Thee," Ray reassured her. "There's no general
dissatisfaction among your scholars. She just wanted to get in a knock. I talked to
the piano tuner the last time he was here, and he said all the people he tuned for
expressed themselves very favorably about your teaching. I wish you didn't take
so much pains with them, myself."
"But I have to, Ray. They're all so dumb. They've got no ambition," Thea
exclaimed irritably. "Jenny Smiley is the only one who isn't stupid. She can read
pretty well, and she has such good hands. But she don't care a rap about it. She
has no pride."
Ray's face was full of complacent satisfaction as he glanced sidewise at Thea,
but she was looking off intently into the mirage, at one of those mammoth cattle