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Newspaper Page Text
THE FOOL'S CAP
By Elsa Vaile Blodgett
The little red schoolhouse was de
serted except for the .teacher, busy
at her desk, writing lugubriously to
her fiance of the trials and tribula
tions of the country schoolteacher,
and a sad-faced, starved looking boy,
seated on a high stool and wearing a
dunce's cap on his head. He had
twisted himself around so that the
blackboard sheltered him, and, his
forehead pressed against its hard,
cold surface, he was weeping bitterly.
All the afternoon session Neal
Morse had sat thus, the cynosure of
all the scholars. He had missed his
lessons and had been dulv decorated.
To enforce her displeasure, Miss Ed
son had continued his penance for
an hour after the others had T)een
" and just now a provoking
dunce and dullard to discipline,"
wrote the schoolteacher.
If she had said a poor, crushed
soul, broken and bleeding, she would
have been nearer the mark. Poor
Neal Morse was what people were
making of him. He was an orphan,
his only relative being a hard-hearted
stepmother. He had been made
to feel the cruel stings of dependence
and common jest, until his spirit was
extinguished. The children of the
rich spurned him, the more humble
found him unsocial and tabooed him.
AH the time his wistful eyes sought
a friend never to find one.
Abruptly the boy lifted his tear
stained face. A low musical utter
ance aroused him.
He looked up to smile in a grateful
but wan and forlorn way. The open
window at his side framed an eager
faced, golden-haired little miss, a
warning finger raised. Then it beck
oned and she said cautiously:
"I've got it all thought out about
you. Creep out of the window. I
.sant to tell" .you lots." t
If any other scholar had suggested
this bold proceeding Neal would
have resisted with utter disregard.
But Juttie Marsh! Her eyes seemed
to lure him, her sweet, friendly smile
gave him confidence. She was the
one soul in the school who had al
ways greeted him pleasantly and had
cried, instead of laughing like the
others, when he was placed on the
stool of repentance wearing the
Neal glanced at the schoolteacher.
She was at some tender passage in
her missive and deeply engrossed.
"It's awful!" he uttered, as he
slipped through the window to have
Had Continued His Penance an Hour
his hand seized by Juttie, and they
ran toward a patch of sheltering
bushes stretching into the woods be
yond the schoolhouse. There, glo
riously flushed and panting, Juttie
droped a little parcel to the ground,
herself, too, and then drew Neal to
her side. She caught his hands and
held them and faced him, her bright
eyes looking down into the yearning,
famished depths of his own.
"Now, listen," she said, sprightly
and full of her jelan, "Jou know I