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A Story For School Girls

November 2008

     It was recess at Miss Capron's school. The girls stood together in one large group, talking very earnestly.
     "I think it was a shame," said Marcia Lewis, "for her to make me face the corner for an hour, just because I spoke half a dozen words to Nellie Jones."
     "I think so, too," chimed in a half a dozen other voices.
     "She delights in showing her authority," said Lottie Barnes.
     "So she does, or she wouldn't have kept Anna Mory and me on the recitation seat, for missing one or two questions in arithmetic."
     "Don't you think she is dreadfully cross? I guess if we should try to keep account of all her cross words and looks, we would have to be pretty busy."
     "Wouldn't that be a nice idea? Let us make a mark on our slates every time she is cross, and see what a long string of marks we shall get."
     "Oh yes! let's do it! Yes! yes!" chimed in a dozen voices in full chorus.
     Poor Miss Capron! With a sinking at her heart she saw the unloving looks in her scholars' faces as they entered the schoolroom after this stormy consultation. She had a severe headache that afternoon, so that, altogether, she did not wear nearly so smiling a face as usual; and the girls, prejudiced as they were, found ample occasion for setting down their cross-marks.
     Pretty soon Lottie Barnes held up her slate to view, displaying a long row of marks. Anna Mory imitated her example; then Lottie Jones; and in less than two minutes the whole school followed suit. This, of course, called for a reprimand from Miss Capron; and then there was a terrible clicking of pencils. Soon Marcia Lewis dropped her slate on the floor, and the next instant every slate was on the floor.
     "Girls! girls!" said Miss Capron sternly; "you seem to have banded yourselves together to trample on the rules of order. I shall proceed no further with recitations until you have become quiet and orderly."
     But even this seemed to fail of producing the desired result. The girls were quiet only a few minutes. Little paper balls began to fly mysteriously from all sides, and every girl appeared intent upon her lesson. Presently, a half-suppressed titter from Marcia Lewis awakened an answering one from Mattie Lee, and one after another joined, until at length there was an almost deafening peal of laughter.
     "The very spirit of mischief seems to have made headquarters here this afternoon," said Miss Capron. "It is useless to try to proceed with recitations, while my whole attention is needed to keep you in order. I will give you another recess of fifteen minutes, and if you do not succeed in getting rid of your excess of fun and frolic, I shall take very prompt and decisive measures to help you."
     The girls felt some little twinges of conscience, but, after all, were quite delighted with the success of their experiment.
     "I tell you what it is," said Marcia Lewis, "Miss Capron has no business to be so awful cross. Only think what a sight of marks we got. Let's act just as bad when we go into school again, and she will have to dismiss us, and then we'll all go down to the falls and have a nice time."
     "Wouldn't it be grand," said Nellie Jones.
     "Splendid," replied Mattie Lee.
     "Why! what is the matter?" said Mary Paine, who had been absent from school during the day until then and was surprised to find her usually pleasant companions so excited. When she had heard the whole story, she looked very sad: "Poor Miss Capron! How could you treat her so!"
     "It is just what she deserves for being so cross," said Lottie Barnes.
     "Oh, you have been looking at the wrong side, girls. I have heard a story of a lady who began to find faults in her son's wife. The more she looked for them, the more she found, until she began to think her daughter-in-law the most disagreeable person in the world. She used to talk of her failings to a very dear friend.
     Finally, her friend said to her one day, "No doubt Jane has her faults, and very disagreeable ones, but suppose for awhile you try to see what good qualities you can discover in her character. Really, I am very curious to know."
     The good lady was a little offended at her friend's plain suggestion; but finally concluded to try it; and long before she had discovered half her good traits, she began to regard Jane as a perfect treasure.
     Now you have been doing just as this lady did, in looking for faults. Let us be like her the rest of the afternoon in looking for pleasant things. Let us see how many smiles we can get from Miss Capron.
     Mary Paine was one of the oldest girls in the school. She gave the girls subjects for their compositions and helped them out of all their troubles. So being a favorite they consented, half reluctantly, to do as she said.
     Miss Capron dreaded to ring the bell. The fifteen minutes passed, and she felt compelled to call her scholars. They entered in perfect order.
     Each took her seat quietly and began studying in real earnest. Frequently, however, a pleasant smile would seek an answering one from the teacher, and then one would be added to the rapidly increasing row of smile-marks. The good order and close application to study, and the winning looks, soon caused a continual smile to lighten Miss Capron's face, till the girls finally rubbed out the marks, saying it was of no use to try to keep account.
     Marcia Lewis wrote on her slate, "Let's smile all the time."
     Before Miss Capron dismissed the school at night, she said: "My head ached sadly before recess, and I fear I was impatient with you. Your good conduct since has convinced me that I must have been in fault. I thank you, my dear girls, for your love and kindness, and hope you will forgive my faults as freely as I do yours. School is dismissed."
     Instantly she was surrounded by all the girls and showered with kisses.
     "We have been very wicked," said Marcia Lewis, "and it is not your fault at all."
     Little Libbie Denny then related the whole story of the conspiracy, and when she told the part that Mary Paine had taken, Miss Capron put her arm about Mary, and kissing her, said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."
     "Well, my dears," she added, "which was best, looking for frowns or for smiles?"
     "O, the smiles," said they all together.
     "I wish you might learn a lesson from this, to remember all through your lives. Overlook the bad and seek for what is good in everybody; and so you will help to make both yourselves and others happier and better. What is the lesson, girls?"
     And each voice responded, "We will overlook the bad, and seek only for what is good in those around us."

The Story "A Story for School Girls"
is public domain.