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My Little School Girl
by [?]

The first time that I saw her was one autumn morning as I rode to town in a horse-car. It was early, and my only fellow-passenger was a crusty old gentleman, who sat in a corner, reading his paper; so when the car stopped, I glanced out to see who came next, hoping it would be a pleasanter person. No one appeared for a minute, and the car stood still, while both driver and conductor looked in the same direction without a sign of impatience. I looked also, but all I could see was a little girl running across the park, as girls of twelve or thirteen seldom run nowadays, if any one can see them.

“Are you waiting for her?” I asked of the pleasant-faced conductor, who stood with his hand on the bell, and a good-natured smile in his eyes.

“Yes, ma’am, we always stop for little missy,” he answered; and just then up she came, all rosy and breathless with her run.

“Thank you very much. I’m late to-day, and was afraid I should miss my car,” she said, as he helped her in with a fatherly air that was pleasant to see.

Taking a corner seat, she smoothed the curly locks, disturbed by the wind, put on her gloves, and settled her books in her lap, then modestly glanced from the old gentleman in the opposite corner to the lady near by. Such a bright little face as I saw under the brown hat-rim, happy blue eyes, dimples in the ruddy cheeks, and the innocent expression which makes a young girl so sweet an object to old eyes.

The crusty gentleman evidently agreed with me, for he peeped over the top of the paper at his pleasant little neighbor as she sat studying a lesson, and cheering herself with occasional sniffs at a posy of mignonette in her button-hole.

When the old gentleman caught my eye, he dived out of sight with a loud “Hem!” but he was peeping again directly, for there was something irresistibly attractive about the unconscious lassie opposite; and one could no more help looking at her than at a lovely flower or a playful kitten.

Presently she shut her book with a decided pat, and an air of relief that amused me. She saw the half-smile I could not repress, seemed to understand my sympathy, and said with a laugh,–

“It was a hard lesson, but I’ve got it!”

So we began to talk about school and lessons, and I soon discovered that the girl was a clever scholar, whose only drawback was, as she confided to me, a “love of fun.”

We were just getting quite friendly, when several young men got in, one of whom stared at the pretty child till even she observed it, and showed that she did by the color that came and went in her cheeks. It annoyed me as much as if she had been my own little daughter, for I like modesty, and have often been troubled by the forward manners of schoolgirls, who seem to enjoy being looked at. So I helped this one out of her little trouble by making room between the old gentleman and myself, and motioning her to come and sit there.

She understood at once, thanked me with a look, and nestled into the safe place so gratefully, that the old gentleman glared over his spectacles at the rude person who had disturbed the serenity of the child.

Then we rumbled along again, the car getting fuller and fuller as we got down town. Presently an Irishwoman, with a baby, got in, and before I could offer my seat, my little school-girl was out of hers, with a polite–

“Please take it, ma’am; I can stand perfectly well.”

It was prettily done, and I valued the small courtesy all the more, because it evidently cost the bashful creature an effort to stand up alone in a car full of strangers; especially as she could not reach the strap to steady herself, and found it difficult to stand comfortably.