Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm HTML version

Wisdom's Ways
The day of Rebecca's arrival had been Friday, and on the Monday following she began
her education at the school which was in Riverboro Centre, about a mile distant. Miss
Sawyer borrowed a neighbor's horse and wagon and drove her to the schoolhouse,
interviewing the teacher, Miss Dearborn, arranging for books, and generally starting the
child on the path that was to lead to boundless knowledge. Miss Dearborn, it may be said
in passing, had had no special preparation in the art of teaching. It came to her naturally,
so her family said, and perhaps for this reason she, like Tom Tulliver's clergyman tutor,
"set about it with that uniformity of method and independence of circumstances which
distinguish the actions of animals understood to be under the immediate teaching of
Nature." You remember the beaver which a naturalist tells us "busied himself as earnestly
in constructing a dam in a room up three pair of stairs in London as if he had been laying
his foundation in a lake in Upper Canada. It was his function to build, the absence of
water or of possible progeny was an accident for which he was not accountable." In the
same manner did Miss Dearborn lay what she fondly imagined to be foundations in the
infant mind.
Rebecca walked to school after the first morning. She loved this part of the day's
programme. When the dew was not too heavy and the weather was fair there was a short
cut through the woods. She turned off the main road, crept through uncle Josh
Woodman's bars, waved away Mrs. Carter's cows, trod the short grass of the pasture, with
its well-worn path running through gardens of buttercups and white- weed, and groves of
ivory leaves and sweet fern. She descended a little hill, jumped from stone to stone across
a woodland brook, startling the drowsy frogs, who were always winking and blinking in
the morning sun. Then came the "woodsy bit," with her feet pressing the slippery carpet
of brown pine needles; the "woodsy bit" so full of dewy morning, surprises,--fungous
growths of brilliant orange and crimson springing up around the stumps of dead trees,
beautiful things born in a single night; and now and then the miracle of a little clump of
waxen Indian pipes, seen just quickly enough to be saved from her careless tread. Then
she climbed a stile, went through a grassy meadow, slid under another pair of bars, and
came out into the road again. having gained nearly half a mile.
How delicious it all was! Rebecca clasped her Quackenbos's Grammar and Greenleaf's
Arithmetic with a joyful sense of knowing her lessons. Her dinner pail swung from her
right hand, and she had a blissful consciousness of the two soda biscuits spread with
butter and syrup, the baked cup-custard, the doughnut, and the square of hard
gingerbread. Sometimes she said whatever "piece" she was going to speak on the next
Friday afternoon.
"A soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers,
There was lack of woman's nursing,
There was dearth of woman's tears."