A Dominie Dismissed
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A DOMINIE DISMISSED
WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT.
In consequence of the Dominie's go-as-you-please methods of educatingvillage children, the inevitable happens—he is dismissed, giving placeto an approved disciplinarian.
The unhappy Dominie, forced to leave his bairns, seeks to enlist—butthe doctor discovers that his lungs are affected, and he is ordered anopen-air life.
He returns as a cattleman to the village where he has previously been aschoolmaster. Incidentally, he watches the effect of his successor'steaching, the triumph of his own methods and the discomfiture of hisrival at the hands of the children, in whom the Dominie cultivatedpersonality and the rights of bairns.
BY THE SAME AUTHOR
|A DOMINIE ABROAD||7s. 6d. net.|
|A DOMINIE'S LOG||2s. 6d. net.|
|A DOMINIE IN DOUBT||2s. 6d. net.|
|THE BOOMING OF BUNKIE||2s. 6d. net.|
|CARROTY BROON||2s. 6d. net.|
A. S. NEILL
HERBERT JENKINS LIMITED
YORK STREET ST. JAMES'S S.W.1.
Printed in Great Britain at the Athenæum Printing Works, Redhill.
A DOMINIE DISMISSED
I have packed all my belongings. My trunk and two big boxes of booksstand in the middle of a floor littered with papers and straw. I had mytypewriter carefully packed too, but I took it from out its wrappings,and I sit amidst the ruins of my room with my wee machine before me. Itis one of those little folding ones weighing about six pounds.
The London train goes at seven, and it is half-past five now. It wasjust ten minutes ago that I suddenly resolved to keep a diary ... only adominie can keep a Log, and I am a dominie no longer.
I hear Janet Brown's voice outside. She is singing "Keep the Home FiresBurning" ... and she was in tears this afternoon. The limmer ought to beat home weeping her dominie's departure.
Yet ... what is Janet doing at my window? Her home is a good two milesalong the road. I wonder if she has come to see me off. Yes, she has; Ihear her cry to Ellen Smith: "He's packit, Ellen, and Aw hear himaddressin' the labels on his typewriter." The besom!
Well, well, children have short memories. When Macdonald enters the roomon Monday morning they will forget all about me.
I know Macdonald. He is a decent sort to meet in a house, but in schoolhe is a stern[Pg 8] one. His chief drawback is his lack of humour. I couldswear that he will whack Jim Jackson for impudence before he is half anhour in the school.
I met Jim one night last week wheeling a box up from the station.
"I say, boy," I called with a pronounced Piccadilly Johnny accent,"heah, boy! Can you direct me to the—er—village post-office?"
He scratched his head and looked round him dubiously.
"Blowed if Aw ken," he said at last. "Aw'm a stranger here."
Yes, Macdonald will whack him.
I sent Jim out yesterday to measure the rainfall (there had been afortnight's drought) and he went out to the playground. In ten minuteshe returned looking puzzled. He came to my desk and lifted an Algebrabook, then he went to his seat and seemed to sweat over some hugecalculation. At length he came to me and announced that the rainfall was·3578994 of an inch. I went out to the playground ... he had watered itwith the watering-can.
"There are no flies on you, my lad," I said.
"No, sir," he smiled, "the flies don't come out in the rain."
Yes, Macdonald is sure to whack him.
I shall miss Jim. I shall miss them all ... but Jim most of all. Whatabout Janet? And Gladys? And Ellen? And Jean?... Well, then, I'll missJim most of all the boys.
I tried to avoid being melodramatic to-day. It has been a queer day, anexpectant day. They followed me with their eyes all day; if an inspectorhad arrived I swear that he would have put me down as a gooddisciplinarian. I never got so much attention from my bairns in my life.
I blew the "Fall in!" for the last time at the three o'clock interval.Janet and Ellen were late. When they arrived they carried a wee parceleach. They came forward to my desk and laid their parcels before me.
"A present from your scholars," said Janet awkwardly. I slowly took offthe tissue paper and held up a bonny pipe and a crocodile tobacco-pouch.I didn't feel like speaking, so I took out my old pouch and emptied itscontents into the new one; then I filled the new pipe and placed itbetween my teeth. A wee lassie giggled, but the others looked on inpainful silence.
I cleared my throat to speak, but the words refused to come ... so I litthe pipe.
"That's better," I said with forced cheerfulness, and I puffed away fora little.
"Well, bairns," I began, "I am——" Then Barbara Watson began to weep. Ifrowned at Barbara; then I blew my nose. Confound Barbara!
"Bairns," I began again, "I am going away now." Janet's eyes began tolook dim, and I had to frown at her very hard; then I had to turn myfrown on Jean ... and[Pg 10] Janet, the besom, took advantage of my dividedattention. I blew my nose again; then I coughed just to show that Ireally did have a cold.
"I don't suppose any of you understand why I am going away, but I'll tryto tell you. I have been dismissed by your fathers and mothers. Ihaven't been a good teacher, they say; I have allowed you too muchfreedom. I have taken you out sketching and fishing and playing; I havelet you read what you liked, let you do what you liked. I haven't taughtyou enough. How many of you know the capital of Bolivia? You see, notone of you knows."
"Please, sir, what is it?" asked Jim Jackson.
"I don't know myself, Jim."
My pipe had gone out and I lit it again.
"Bairns, I don't want to leave you all; you are mine, you know, and theschool is ours. You and I made the gardens and rockeries; we dug thepond and we caught the trout and minnows and planted the water-plants.We built the pigeon-loft and the rabbit-hutch. We fed our pets together.We——"
I don't know what happened after that. I took out my handkerchief, butnot to blow my nose.
"The bugle," I managed to say, and someone shoved it into my hand. ThenI played "There's No Parade To-day," but I don't think I played it verywell.
Only a few went outside; most of them sat and looked at me.
"I must get Jim to save the situation," I said to myself, and I shoutedhis name.
"P-please, sir," lisped Maggie Clark, "Jim's standin' oot in the porch."
"Tell him to come in," I commanded.
Maggie went out; then she returned slowly.
"P-please, sir, he's standin' greetin' and he winna come."
"Damnation!" I cried, and I bustled them from the room.
A quarter-past six! It's time Jim came for these boxes.
* * *
I am back in my old rooms in a small street off Hammersmith Broadway. Mylandlady, Mrs. Lewis, is a lady of delightful garrulity, and hercomments on things to-day have served to cheer me up. She is intenselyinterested in the fact that I have come from Scotland, and anxious togive me all the news of events that have happened during my sojourn inthe wilds.
"Did you 'ear much abaht the war in Scotland?" she said.
I looked my surprise.
"War! What war?"
Then she explained that Britain and France and Russia and the Allieswere fighting against Germany.
"Now that I come to think of it," I said reflectively, "I did see alot of khaki about to-day."
"Down't you get the pypers in Scotland?" she asked.
"Thousands of them, Mrs. Lewis; why, every Scot plays the pipes."
"I mean the pypers, not the pypers," she explained.
"Oh, I see! We do get a few; English travellers leave them in thetrains, you know."
She thought for a little.
"It must be nice livin' in a plyce w'ere everyone knows everyone else.My sister Sally's married to a pynter in Dundee, Peter Macnab; do youknow 'im?"
I explained that Peter and I were almost bosom friends. Then she askedme whether I knew what his wage was. I explained that I did not know.She then told me how much he gave Sally to keep house with, and I beganto regret my temerity in claiming a close acquaintance with the erringPeter. Mrs. Lewis at once began to recount the family history of theMacnabs, and I blushed for the company I kept.
I decided to disown Peter.
"Perhaps he'll behave better now that he has gone to Glasgow," Iremarked.
"But he ain't gone to Glasgow!" she exclaimed.
I looked thoughtful.
"Ah!" I cried, "I've been thinking of the other Peter Macnab, thepainter in Lochee."
"Sally's 'usband lives in a plyce called Magdalen Green."
"Ah! I understand now, Mrs. Lewis. I've met that one too; you're quiteright about his character."
If I ever write a book of aphorisms I shall certainly include this one:Never claim an acquaintance with a lady's relations by marriage.
I wandered along Fleet Street to-day, the most fascinating street inLondon ... and the most disappointing. To understand Fleet Street youmust walk along the Strand at midday. The Londoner is the most childishcreature on earth. If a workman opens a drain cap the traffic is held upby the crowds who push forward to glimpse the pipes below. If a blackman walks along the Strand half a hundred people will follow him on theoff chance that he may be Jack Johnson. London is the most provincialplace in Britain. I have eaten cookies in Princes Street in Edinburgh,and I have eaten buns in Piccadilly. The London audience was thegreater. Audience! the word derives