[Learning] “The Indians.—No. I. Week Day School,” by Sarah (from The Youth’s Companion, August 12, 1847; p. 59)
The gentle river as it flowed along,
Played in the sunbeams, at their cottage door.
Don’t be alarmed, children, I am not going to tell you any frightful stories. You have often heard of the Indians, and perhaps you never think of them without associating the very idea of an Indian, with a scalping knife, or a tomahawk. You have read in history that they are savage in war, and it may be that you forgot the equally true remark, that they are friendly in times of peace. Would you like to take a peep at one of their little settlements. Suppose you take a seat by my window a little while. The first object you see, is the beautiful Alleghany, diligently pursuing its way to the Ohio. Had you been here in the Spring, you would have had nice times. You know that on large rivers, lumbermen put a great many boards together. Sometimes they carry thousands of shingles, with the boards, down the rivers, and sell them for a great deal of money. In high water, you might count ten, twenty, thirty, and perhaps forty rafts in one day sailing quietly along to Pittsburg, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and other large places. Look here, children, see those beautiful meadows, and fields covered with the rich crops of summer. And those large apple trees yonder, already bending beneath the weight of fruit. Those women are very busy there sewing. They seem just as happy sitting under the shade of that large tree, as your mother and aunt Mary are in the back parlor. Hark! the school is just out. See the teacher amid scores of blooming boys and girls, all waving their hats and bonnets as if glad to be free from their daily confinement. Had you entered the school-room this afternoon, you might have seen half a dozen little urchins, busy with slates and pencils, some drawing straight lines, others angles and triangles, as best they can, and perhaps others still, sketching landscapes of trees and houses. A group of larger children on the next seat are preparing for history and grammar recitations. You might also have seen Mitchell’s outline maps spread before one or two large boys, with a copy of their own almost completed. If you will come into the school to-morrow, you may read some of their compositions, of which I think many a little white boy and girl would be proud. There is one thing that I wish you would remark. The Indian children seldom make a wry face, when asked to write a composition. They habitually spend one afternoon in a week, in writing, and seem just as happy to commit their own thoughts to paper, as to study in books the thoughts of others. I hope you little folks will learn a lesson from the school, and I should not wonder if there are some great children that might profit by the same. So you see, children, that Indians know something, beside killing people. The same God that made you, made them also, and they are capable of being instructed like yourselves. They love to read the Youth’s Companion, perhaps as well as you do, and some few subscribe for it of their own money. When you think of them again, I hope you will love them, and think that they are men, women and children, like those you see every day, except that their skin is of a little darker hue. Perhaps I may write you again, at a future time.