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An Australian Lassie

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"Emily Underwood, 19; Stanley Smith, 20; Cyril Bruce, 21; Nellie Underwood, 22; Elizabeth Bruce, 23—bottom of the class!"

Mr. Sharman took off his eyeglasses, rubbed them, and put them on again. Then he looked very hard at the little girl at the end of the furthest form, who was hanging her head and industriously biting a slate pencil.

"Stand up, Elizabeth Bruce. Put down your pencil and fold your hands behind you."

Elizabeth did as she was told instantly. Her rosy face looked anxiously into the master's stern one.

"Yesterday morning," the master said, "you were head of the class. This morning I find your name at the end of the list. How was that?"

Elizabeth hung her head again, and her dimpled chin hid itself behind the needlework of her pinafore.

A small girl, a few seats higher, held up her hand and waved it impatiently.

"Well?" asked the master.

"Please sir, she was promptin' Cyril Bruce."

"Silence!" thundered the master sternly. Then his gaze went back to the bent head of the little culprit.

"Stand upon the form," he said, "and tell me in a clear voice how it is you went down twenty-two places in one afternoon."

The rosiness left the little girl's face. She raised her head, and her brown eyes looked pleadingly into the master's, her white face besought him, for one second. Then she scrambled up to the form by the aid of the desk in front of her.

Down the room near the master's desk stood a new boy, an awkward looking figure of twelve years old or so, waiting to be given a place in the class. Elizabeth knew that her disgrace was meant as a solemn warning to him. So she tossed back the short dark curls that hardly reached her neck, and looking angrily at him, said—

"I was top and I pulled Nelly Martin's hair, and was sent down three. Then I was fourth, and my pencil squeaked my slate and I was sent down six. Then Cyril had to spell 'giraffe,' and I said 'one r and two f's,' and she sent me to the bottom."

All of this speech was directed to the new boy who stood on one leg and grew red. It was an immense relief to him when the master rapped the front desk with his cane and said—

"Look at me, miss. Whom do you mean by 'she'?"

At the end of the room a sharp visaged lady of forty-five was watching the proceedings of the first class from over the heads of a row of small students who comprised the "Babies' Class."

"D-o, do; g-o, go," she said mechanically, and looked anxiously from little Elizabeth to her stern son, the master of Wygate School.

Elizabeth jerked her head, "Mrs. Sharman," she said.

"Sit down and fold your hands behind you," ordered the master. He turned to the new boy. "John Brown," he said, "go and take your seat next to Elizabeth Bruce—but one above her."

The new boy moved across the room, red-faced and clumsy in every movement. When he found himself in front of the class he grew still redder, and hung hesitatingly upon the step that led to the platform upon which the form was placed.

Elizabeth looked at him disdainfully and drew her dress close around her....