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asked the doctor, after indulging in a hearty laugh at some parts of the story.
“ Why, that he was a pitiful ignoramus, to be sure.”
“ Undoubtedly; but yet a fellow of considerable tact, and a pretty keen insight into the weaknesses of men, and the unworthy passions and selfish motives that too often govern them. And all this he had need of, to succeed upon pretensions so ridiculous; but with it, you see, he did succeed, and that too, at fearful odds against him. With what low cunning he first inquired the characters of the committee !- for such, as you suppose, was probably the case. And then how eagerly he seized on the first opportunity to bedaub them with flattery, rightly judging that, in this instance, the words of the poet would hold good,
- "flattery never seems absurd — The flattered always take your word.”
And having thus secured the feelings and prejudices of the committee for himself, he appears fairly to have exemplified, with them, the truth of another line of the same writer, by making
“Impossibilities seem just.”
Indeed, sir, I think the fellow, who may be a broken-down pedler, or possibly a discarded subscription agent of catchpenny books or periodicals, managed his slender stock in trade to pretty good advantage. I see but one blunder that need at all to have endangered him with his learned examiners, — that was his mention of “circumflutors,” meaning, probably, to have hit on circumferentors, of which he might have heard from some students or surveyors with whom he chanced to fall in company, perhaps. But even that blunder, it seems, passed unnoticed. O, yes,” continued the doctor, with an ironical smile, “ this fellow managed his part to ad miration. But what shall we say of that committee, who, both through ignorance and will, have thus betrayed their trust? And, furthermore, what shall we say of the people of that village, who so blindly conferred that important trust on such men? But we may spare words; for the employment of this imposter will fall as a judgment on their children, in the shape of errors imbibed, that will sufficiently punish these people for their unpardonable blindness and folly. And I will here tell you, Mr. Amsden, we have more to do in improving the condition of our common schools than to increase the number of qualified teachers. We have got to appoint managing committees who are qualified to discover and . appreciate them. But enough of this ; where do you think of looking for a school now, my dear sir ?”
“I know not where to look, or what to do,” replied Locke, despondingly. “I am poor, and need, particularly at this time, the amount of what would be respectable wages. But our country schools afford so little remuneration; and as for the villages, you see what my success is with them.”
“Do n't despair quite so soon, sir,” said Lincoln, a little roguishly; "you may find some men in other villages of a little larger pattern than that of the learned trio you just encountered. What say you to coming to Cartersville, and taking the school in the district where I live?”
“I would,” replied Locke, “if you were to be the examining committee.”
“ Well, I shall be,” rejoined the doctor, “for all the examination I shall want of you."
“How am I to take you, sir ?” asked the former, with a doubtful air.
“ Why, that, as it strangely happens, I am sole committee myself,” answered the doctor.
“ Indeed! is it possible ?” exclaimed Locke, unable to conceal the pleasure that this unexpected announcement occasioned him.
“ It happens, for once, to be so," said the other. “ About a week since, being at home, and at leisure, I, for the first time for years, attended our annual school-meeting, and was, partly out of sport, I do believe, voted in sole committee-man, nobody believing I would accept the office. I, however, after giving them my views as to the kind of teacher we needed, his compensation, &c., told the meeting I would accept, if they would allow me to do exactly as I chose, without grumbling. And, they finally consenting, I took upon myself the really important duties of that post. And it was with a view of faithfully discharging them, that I was just thinking of you, as a teacher who would do much towards raising the low condition of our school. You shall name your own wages, if within any reasonable sum, and the length of your engagement for any period short of six months. What say you to all this, my friend ?”
It is needless to say how gladly these proposals were accepted by our hero. And, having settled the details of the bargain, he bade adieu, for the present, to his kind friend, and with a countenance as grateful and sunny, as, one half hour before, it had been gloomy and dejected, resumed his journey homewards, to spend a happy week with his family, before entering on his new engagement.
“Not long the house so raised, so prop'd, can stand;
The place to which we will now repair, as the seat of the future operations of our schoolmaster, was a thriving interior village, with a population of something over a thousand. Its name, Cartersville, was derived from that of its founder, a Mr. Carter, an enterprising individual, who, some forty or fifty years before the period of our story, here established himself, erected several kinds of mills, and opened a store, which, with the natural advantages of the location, soon drew around them the buildings and shops of other settlers, till the place swelled, at length, into a village of considerable importance, with, perhaps, even more than the usual complement of mechanics' shops, taverns, stores, churches, and fine dwelling houses. At the time of which we are writing, the first Carter, whom we have named as the principal founder of this village, had been dead many years. He had amassed, during a prosperous and active life, an amount of property, which, for a country merchant, was considered very large. This he had left to three sons and a daughter. Two of the sons became spendthrifts, soon squandered their portions, and left the country. The daughter, who was now dead, had married a man that had lost her portion also, and gone abroad, but little better than bankrupt. The remaining son, who alone inherited any of his father's talents for business,
or attempted to improve on the property left him, continued in the trade to which he had been brought up, that of merchandise, and was now accounted the rich man of the place, being extensively engaged in business, and still a man of industry and good calculations in traffic, though otherwise a person of rather contracted notions. His family, however, consisting of a wife and three daughters, were of small advantage to him, either in improving his property, or in elevating his character, at least not to any correct standard of moral action. For his wife was a woman of false tastes, and of affectedly fashionable habits; and accordingly she had brought up her daughters, who, as might be expected under such maternal guidance, had little to boast, of which they had reason to be proud, being vain, empty-headed, wronghearted girls, fond of expensive display, priding themselves upon their father's wealth, talking much about family distinction, and only ambitious to be looked up to - as they unfortunately were by the young society of the place - as a sort of inapproachable standard in dress, and all matters pertaining to what they deemed stylish life, and to be considered, as they considered themselves, the very
“ Glass of fashion and the mould of form."
This family belonged to the school district in which Locke Amsden was now engaged as a teacher for the ensuing winter; but, being above patronizing a common school for the purposes of educating their children, Mr. and Mrs. Carter, or rather Mrs. Carter, in conjunction with two or three other wealthy families of similar views, had established a private school, or select academy, as they called it, which was designed to afford the means of what they chose to term a genteel education, leaving the district schools of the village to be attended by the children of less distinguished families, and all those who had tastes for nothing better. At the head