The disappointment was made all the more severe by reason of the fact that my place of work was where I could see the happy children passing to and from school, morning and afternoons. Despite this disappointment, however, I determined that I would learn something, anyway. I applied myself with greater earnestness than ever to the mastering of what was in the "blue-back" speller.

You remember, no doubt, that an envious but keen-eyed classmate observed that the smart speller worked off his nervous apprehensiveness by twirling the top button of his coat as he correctly spelled word after word, day in and day out; and how the keen-eyed one played the part of a stealthy villain and surreptitiously cut the button off the coat. And do you remember the dramatic ending?

My parents were intelligent, and though they had had no opportunities for securing an education, yet they were able to teach their children the alphabet and how to spell a few simple words. My first lessons were in Webster's blue-back speller, so when I started to school at six years of age I was not the dullest boy beginning at the same place, because of the instruction I had received.

What sort of school system was there for the instruction of the Negro? Were there any Negro teachers in your community? Yes. My son, he went to Negro school three months a year. The son said that he studied Webster's Speller, Harvey's Reader, learned his ABC's and studied some in history, geography and arithmetic. How old were you at the close of the civil war? 21 years.

I had to set with my arms folded eight hours a day in school when I was a boy, to learn the little I know, an' wife she got her edjercation the same way. An' we went clean thoo f'om the a-b abs an' e-b ebs clair to the end o' the blue-back speller.

Beginning at the head, one of each class would stand up and spell, till one was "turned down;" then another took his place, and so on until all on one side were down. I began at this school in the alphabet, and the second winter I could spell almost every word in Webster's old Elementary Speller.

You don't know how proud I was when I saw a young man on the train take one from his pocket one day!" He opened his desk and handed her a copy; Marjorie looked at it and at him in open-eyed wonder. And dared she recite to a teacher who had made a book? "When is your Speller coming out?" "In the fall. I'm busy on my Reader now."

The father of George Washington was a Virginia boy of ten; the father of John Adams was just entering Harvard College; and the father of Thomas Jefferson was not yet born." When Benjamin was seven years old he had not been to school a day. Yet he was a good reader and speller. In manhood he said: "I do not remember when I could not read, so it must have been very early."

He was the worst writer, speller and reader in the school. Think o' him being a telegraph operator. Why, he couldn't spell well enough to make tally-marks on a door when you're measurin' corn. Railroad was mighty hard up for help when it hired him. Let me read that dispatch. 'Josiah not killed. That means Si Klegg, as sure's you're born.

Jack was a most engaging heathen, and needed very little instruction; therefore Jill thought her task would be an easy one. But three or four weeks of petting and play had rather demoralized both children, so Jill's Speller, though tucked under the sofa pillow every day, was seldom looked at, and Jack shirked his Latin shamefully.