- PART SECOND.
- CHAPTER II. THE SCHOOL-MASTER.
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BROTHER SMITH merits an especial introduction on account of his originality.
The Smithvillites thought themselves very much favored when Brother S. consented to impart instruction to the juveniles whose parents could pay twenty-five cents per month, or its equivalent in butter, eggs, and vegetables. Brother S. wouldn't take cabbages. As coin became plentiful cabbages depreciated, and Brother S. said there must be a line drawn somewhere. He drew it through | | 158 cabbages. In person he resembled the missing link for which Darwinians are so anxiously searching. Heavy-jawed, chinless, short-necked, and flat-nosed, with a small amount of forehead, and a great deal of hair. His eyes, indistinct in hue, were so lost in mutual admiration that their glances upon other things were exceedingly crooked and uncertain.
Brother S. was a good Latter Day Saint, living the fullness of the Gospel. As a reward for his zeal the Church had given him four wives to increase his power in the celestial kingdom. Before the revered chief and revelator arrogated to himself and council the sole right to visions and revelations, Brother S. had been often favored with these spiritual visitations;hence he boasted that he was well acquainted with the patriarchs of old, and that his school was governed by their directions.
Still he was not contented. The Smiths are all ambitious. Revelation had taught the Saints that in the grand millennium all zealous, polygamous, patriarchs should be gods, and create worlds to suit themselves.
Brother Smith's ambition was to be a big god, to make it a big world, and have plenty of subjects to people it. At this time his family consisted of about twenty, with the possibility of a goodly addition. According to the law of Mormon increase, the next generation would give no doubt a couple of hundred; and the second!!--but here lay his trouble. Would his grandsons or great-grandsons have the right to branch out as independent gods, or would they all be subject to him for aye?
The Urim and Thummim had never revealed the number of generations constituting a kingdom or a | | 159 godship in the heavenly Jerusalem. This cruel neglect upon such a vital question gave great anxiety to some of the brethren, especially Brother Smith. Had he been assured upon this point he might have consoled himself with the success of Adam and Eve. Still, this is doubtful, for Brother S. was ambitious, and ambition is impatient.
For some time past the good brother had resolved to add one or more to his harem. In this he was actuated by pure principle, for it cannot be supposed that a Saint who had received visions could possibly take pleasure in courting young silly girls; or that he was in any wise jealous of Brother Leeson's train of eight wives.
Most certainly not! The Mormon Saints and Gods, in possé are far above any motives so earthly! Like their chief, they do all from principle; they marry, cheat, and kill, on principle.
We have mentioned the disinclination of Brother Smith's vision to take a straight line. Aware of his peculiarity, the good brother aimed to make his persons, interior, as well as exterior, accord with it; and his nose, his legs, and his temper, were crosser than his eyes.
His pupils trembled in his presence.
If they did not respect the man, they did the man's crossness, and its interpreter--his cane. No amount of familiarity with this object could ever degenerate into contempt.
The spelling-class stood before the master. This class generally came to grief, owing to the originality of the master's method, which was a phonetic marvel. Brother Smith boasted very much of this method; in- | | 160 deed, he used to tell his friends, that if he only had the time he would make a grammar and a speller, that would "beat anything yet seen, and make the English easier than wink."
This genius rejoiced that he was born in the mightiest city of civilization, that the music of Bow Bells had been his lullaby; and one of his inherited peculiarities was his use of the aspirate, which he considered merely as a mark of emphasis. The degree of his mental excitement could be accurately ascertained by the number of 'H's,' scattered about his conversation.
"Now you spellers, prick up your hears. Spell as if you knowed something. Spell, Pertaters."
Smart boy. "P-o-po-t-a-"
B. S. "Wrong. I didn't say pota, I said perta."
Smart boy. "But the speller--"
B. S. "How dare you say speller?--they ain't worth a cent, any nee of your spellers. Go hon."
Timid girl. "P-e-r-t-a-t-o."
B. S. "Stop, t-o indeed! I'm ashamed of you. Where's yer hears? Hain't ye got but four senses? Pertaters, once more." Anominous flourish of the cane accompanied the second giving out of the word.
Sly boy. "P-e-r-t-a-t-e-r-s."
B. S. "Right; go the head of the class; you will be a honor to your country, one of these days. Now attention, class. Spell herth."
A dead silence.
B. S. "Can't you spell the herth hon which you live?"
Smart boy. "E-a-r-t-h."
B. S. "Wrong. None but fools put a ha in herth."| | 161
Smart boy. "The speller says"--
B. S. "How dare you? That's the second time to-day you've said 'speller' to me. 'Tis of such has you that hapostates hare made. But hi will take the bad spirit hout of you; hi will teach you (whack) to (whack) dispute (whack) me."
The learned master continued to bruise the lad's body until his attention was called to another quarter, where some boys were indulging in a free fight on their own account. This outbreak demanded more cane exercise, until Brother S., panting and perspiring with his efforts to quell the bad spirits, thought it necessary to take a little recreation.
So, placing the sly boy in command, he strolled across the street to the store over which the Eye watched, to recuperate himself in saintly converse.
This store was the headquarters of the gossips of Smithville. Gossiping was a masculine privilege in Smithville; for the women worked too hard to have either the heart or the time to indulge in such pleasures--pleasures to which the future gods took very kindly, actuated always by principle.
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