maanantai 4. tammikuuta 2016

Chapter Three: The Sunday School

“Of course you are going to the Sunday school with the girls”, said Aunt Maggie next morning, Sunday, during the breakfast. “I hope you have your Bible along.”

“Yes I do — but I’ve never been in a Sunday school”, confessed Tom.

“You haven’t?” cried Myra. “Are you a heathen?”

“Be quiet, lassie”, scolded Laura.

“I’ve never been in any school”, continued Tom with a blush. “I have had only tutors. And my nanny used to teach me Bible on Sundays.”

“Did you have a nanny?” asked Ethel with glimmering eyes. “Oh, you are like a lord or something!”

“Mother does not trust on boarding schools. And — and…” Tom took a long breath. “I’m an Anglican.”

“For heaven’s sake”, cried Aunt Maggie. “Just like the women who marry Englishmen! Well, an Anglican or not, you’re going into a Presbyterian Sunday school here, if you ask me. I think it’s time to start your religious education.”

“Maggie”, said Laura gently. Then she turned to Tom. “You can go with the girls if you like, Tom, but you don’t have to — you can as well come to the church with Maggie and me.”

“I — I prefer the Sunday school”, said Tom. “Because I’ve never been in one.”

“Thank God, he’s got some sense”, muttered Aunt Maggie. “Now, eat your breakfast quickly or we’ll be late.”

After the meal Ethel helped with the dishes and Louisa and Myra went upstairs for their Bibles and Hymn books. Then Louisa dropped into Tom’s room.

“What is it like to have tutors?” she asked. “Isn’t it romantic? Just like in Jane Eyre!”

“It’s not a bit romantic”, Tom crushed her dreams. “Mr Falcon was an awfully strict man, I had to know everything about everything, and if I didn’t, he went to mother and told her I’m a lazy and ungrateful rascal who doesn’t deserve any schooling at all! Who’s the teacher in the Sunday school?”

“Our school teacher, Miss Marshall. She’s young and very nice, but you must sit quiet all the time. So don’t whisper with the boys.”

“I guess they don’t want to whisper with me.” Tom took his Bible. “I’m ready now. Shall we take the carriage?”

“Of course not, never for Lochdhu. Or are you tired?” Louisa asked anxiously.

“No, I just thought… Is it Myra?”

“C’mon”, said Myra and put her head in. “Everybody is waiting!”

The journey down to Lochdhu was very funny, because the children joked and laughed all the time, till Aunt Maggie very strictly pointed that they were goint to the Sunday school, not to a circus.

“We’ll be here for you after the service”, said Laura by the school house. “Obey the teacher.”

They stepped into the house. The classroom was filled with children of all ages; the youngest were three, the oldest fifteen. All the girls had rosettes in their hats, and Myra sniffed. Aunt Maggie had told her not to take the straw hat, though Myra had threatened not to learn any verses by heart since. But the blue ribbon in her auburn hair was a little comfort, as she sat by Annie Weilson, her bosom friend at school.

Little Ethel went to the first pew, where the smallest girls used to sit, and Louisa had her seat with the bigger girls. Only one place was available, by a tall, handsome lad of about fourteen. Tom stepped nearer and then sat carefully down.

“Who are you?” asked the boy. He had sandy curly hair and glad grey eyes. “You’re new here, man.”

“Yes, I — I just arrived.”

“Oh, I know. You’re the London boy, aren’t you? Well, you don’t look as bad as I thought — Moira Macaulay came over last evening and told Mommy something about an awful English lad, who broke Mrs MacDonald’s best china.”

Poor Tom turned bright red.

“It — was — an accident”, he stammered.

“And Moira Macaulay always tells gossips”, continued the boy. “My name is George Kerr, just call me Geordie.”

“I’m Thomas Callanger, Tom.”

“Nice to have a new face here. So you’re livin’ at Fice Cherry Trees? It’s a fine place.”

“It really is.”

“I”ve been there twice — once in Ethel’s baptizing, though I cannot remember it so much, I was only six — and once at a school spring party, it was hold in their park.”

“At the summer stones?”

“Oh, you know them? And once I was on the gate, when I saw Louisa from the prayer-meeting.”

Tom did not know, why this information made him angry.

“You did what?” he asked.

Geordie laughed.

“Aren’t you sweet on her? Louisa’s a bonnie one. But don’t you try to set your eyes on her — I’ve been her beau already for a year.”

At that very moment Miss Marshall came in and Tom could not answer. But he felt suddenly very miserable. Louisa was bonnie — and nice — well, he was not just sweet on her, but he would have hoped she did not have a beau already.

The Sunday school began with a Hymn and a prayer. Then all the children had to say their verses aloud. When it was Tom’s turn, he stood up and said,

“I’m new here, so I have no verse.”

“Oh, you should have told it to me in the very beginning”, said Miss Marshall. “What’s your name?”

The whole class had turned to stare Tom. He was so afraid of blushing that he blushed.

“Look, look, a London boy!” whispered somebody, and Tom blushed even more.

“Th-Thomas Callanger”, he stammered at last.

“All right.” Miss Marshall wrote it down in her book. “You may sit.”

Tom sat, though he would have liked to rush out. Louisa looked at him — no, was she looking at Geordie? Of course she was ashamed of him now, he had acted like a shy girl.

“Hey.” Geordie touched his hand. “Look.”

Tom looked the boy before them. He had taken a cigarette box from his jacket’s pocket and now opened it. A  little white mouse peeped out.

“That’s Will Jameson”, whispered Geordie. “The lad, I mean. The mouse is Carrie. Will loves animals and Carrie is his favourite.”

“Doesn’t it run away?” Tom asked.

“I suppose it doesn’t dare. Look, how it’s sitting on the table!”

“George Kerr and Thomas Callanger!” said Miss Marshall at that very moment. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing, Miss”, answered Geordie.

But Carrie the mouse had been frightened by Miss Marshall’s angry voice. The little animal thought for a moment, then it suddenly hopped down to the aisle. Will tried to catch it, but could not.

Miss Marshall had turned to the blackboard to write down the chapter of the Bible, so she did not notice anything. Carrie the mouse ran along the aisle till it sat by Myra’s desk.

“Oh!” cried Myra. “Oh!” She was quite a brave girl with frogs, but mice had always made her shiver.

“Be quiet!” begged Will, who was tiptoeing down the aisle. “Be quiet, I’ll get it!”

But then Eliza Bell saw Carrie the mouse. And because Eliza Bell was always afraid of everything, she shrieked and climbed on her desk.

“Elizabeth Bell!” said Miss Marshall. “What is it?”

“Oh, Miss — oh, Miss! A mouse!”

Carrie the mouse turned around and flew back. Will tried to call it, but perhaps the girls’ cries and the boys’ laugh frightened it too much — in any case, it ran to Tom and hopped on his knee. There it sat and shivered with all its little body.

Louisa had saw the happening, and because she could imagine a mouse on her own knee, she shouted like a crazy. The panic was complete.

“Put it down! Put it down!” told Geordie, while slipping back to his seat, but it was too late. Miss Marshall hurried down the aisle.

“Thomas Callanger!”

“It’s not mine, Miss!” tried poor Tom. Oh, for heaven’s sake, why just that female creature was not afraid of mice! “It — it just sits here!”

“I can see that”, Miss Marshall said coldly. “Aren’t you ashamed!”

“But it’s not mine!”

“Nonsense. Take it out now, and then come back.”

Tom gave an apologising look to Will, who did not dare to confess Carrie the mouse to be his. Then Tom stood up and carried Carrie to the step.

“Wait here, maybe Will rescues after the school”, he murmured and went back to the classroom.

The panic had gone over. Some girls sobbed, Myra had a hysteric laugh and little Ethel was sitting in her place with scarlet cheeks because of shame, but the others were quiet. They know how angry Miss Marshall could be.

“Come here, Thomas”, Miss Marshall told him behind the teacher’s desk. “Why did you take a mouse with you?”

“I didn’t, Miss.”

“Don’t lie to me. Don’t you know in London how people behave in the Sunday school?”

“It wasn’t my mouse, Miss!” Tom assured. He felt he could have spanked Will. That was all his fault!

“Lieing doesn’t help you. You learn the four first chapters of Genesis by heart till next Sunday. Go to your place.”

Tom bit his lip. He was not so good in learning by heart. But even more painful was to be punished innocently. Without a word he went back to his place.

Louisa had blushed for anger. She knew the mouse was Will’s. Was Will really that kind of a coward?

When the Sunday school was over, Tom was the first to take his Bible and rush out. Luckily Aunt Maggie and Laura were not yet there; he leaned on the wall of the school house and tried to calm down. Carrie the mouse had disappeared.

“Don’t worry.” Geordie put his hand on his shoulder. “I’ll make Will to confess.”

“She didn’t believe my word!”

“She hardly ever believes pupils’ words. Foreget it, hey. Will, come here!”

Will Jameson stepped nearer with a little fear.

“Okay, Will, why didn’t you tell Miss it was your mouse?” asked Geordie. “Everybody, you saw it was Will’s, didn’t you?”

“I saw it”, said Louisa. “Oh, what a baby you are, Will Jameson!”

“I’ve been caught twice with animals in the Sunday school”, stammered Will. “Miss Marshall said she would tell papa if she’d catch me for the third time — and papa would spank me!”

“So you prefer lieing?”

“I didn’t lie!”

“Not confessing while an innocent person is accused because of your deeds is even worse!” cried Myra and shook her head so that the blue ribbon flew to and fro. “You are ugly, Will!”

“Let it be”, said Tom, who was annoyed. “She didn’t believe my word, and she wouldn’t believe yours, either. Let’s go home, I’ll learn the chapters and it’s all right then.”

“No it isn’t”, said Geordie. “She should have suspicied Will in the first place because he’d been caught twice before. But you are a new-comer, and if she now stays with the thought you are a rascal you’ll be a rascal in her eyes until your dying day. We’ll clear that up, that’s what. So, shall you confess, Will Jameson?”

“No!” cried horrified Will.

“Even worse for you.” Geordie stepped nearer. “I’ll spank you first and your papa will finish the job. Is that what you want?”

“Catch me first!” Will turned around and fled along the moorway.

“C’mon!” Geordie cried and rushed after him with the other boys.

“Oh, Tom!” Little Ethel came nearer. “Oh, everything miserable happens to you!”

“That’ll be all right, Geordie is the fastest funner in Lochdu, so there’s no trouble in catching Will”, said Myra. “Geordie’s a good fellow.”

“He told me he’s your beau”, said Tom and looked at Louisa. “I wonder if that’s why he helps me.”

“He’s not my beau”, said Louisa angrily. “And he helps you simply because he likes you, not because of me.”

“Oh, he is your beau!” cried Myra. “He’s written his name on the old birch tree by the bridge and yours under it, so it means he’s going to marry you!”

“He’s not”, cried Louisa. ‘stop that nonsense, Myra. Mommy and Aunty are coming — we must explain this mess.”

The explanation was not very clear, either. But at last Aunt Maggie and Laura understood that Tom had not done something awful, though Miss Marshall thought he had, and the real guilty was probably been caught at that very moment.

“Well, anyway, it’s better to go home now”, said Laura, when Louisa had finished the story. “I’m not sure I did understand everything, but still it’s best that you learn those chapters, Tom. If girls say you’re innocent you must be, but maybe Miss Marshall doesn’t believe it.”

“She’s such a fast-and-wrong”, hissed Aunt Maggie. “Let’s get home.”

“I could spank Miss Marshall”, murmured little Ethel, when she was sure Aunty and Mommy could not hear her.

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