The class may read

As he flew through the air in the clutches of the owl, Tiny realized
what a small, helpless creature he was. Not a word was spoken till
they stopped at the bank of a creek, which looked to him like a great
river. It was filled, in one place, with branches of willows, beeches,
poplars, and other trees. His heart beat sluggishly, for the scene was
very dismal, indeed.

“Have no fear,” said the owl prophet, not so gruffly as usual. “I have
promised the queen bee to help you. A great many creatures do not like
to go to school, but in after years they always regret it if they have
quit school before completing the course.”

Not a sound could be heard except the babbling of the brook and the
tinkling of a waterfall several rods away. Tiny shuddered, but said
nothing.

“These buildings were built by beavers,” explained the owl, although
it was so dark Tiny could not see them at all. “When they moved away,
Miss Hare started her school here. Only one of the beavers remained. He
is a skilled carpenter and janitor, and he keeps the building in good
repair. You no doubt have heard that he mixes mortar with his forepaws,
and uses his broad tail for a trowel. Young beavers stay at home till
they are three years old; then they build houses of their own. This
school is situated upon a stream of flowing water, as you see, for Miss
Hare thinks that little scholars should have plenty of water as well as
fresh air.”

[Illustration: “THE BUILDINGS WERE BUILT BY BEAVERS,” EXPLAINED THE
OWL.]

“I am glad that I came,” said Tiny, although he looked into the owl’s
yellow eyes with some distrust. He still feared that the wise prophet
might suddenly pounce upon him and eat him.

“Hoot! hoot! hoot! Is everybody asleep?” cried the wise owl. “I can’t
see why creatures want to sleep at night. I never close my eyes then,
for I have plenty of sleep in the daytime. Besides, one should always
be on the lookout at night, for one never knows what may happen.”

Soon there was a splashing in the water, and in a few moments a queer
animal approached them.

“It is the janitor,” explained the owl, somewhat annoyed by the delay.
“I fear he is getting lazy. He surely is not overworked, for all he
does is to look after the buildings, play, sleep, and eat the bark of
trees and the roots of water lilies.”

“I beg pardon for keeping you waiting so long,” said the beaver. “As
soon as I heard you, I rose to find out your wish.”

“I have brought a pupil to Miss Hare,” said the owl. “Please see that
he has a comfortable room for the night. Tell Miss Hare that I will
write her a letter soon.”

The owl prophet flew away, leaving Tiny with the beaver, who moved
sleepily back along the willow boughs to a group of quaint houses made
of mud, stones, and sticks. Their dome-shaped roofs were several feet
above the level of the water.

Suddenly, from the front window of one of the houses, a gleam of light
shot forth and an odd-looking animal thrust out its head.

Tiny, who by this time was accustomed to surprises, looked up to behold
Miss Hare gazing down upon him. She looked very comical in her white
nightcap.

“Well, well, well, what is the matter?” she cried in a high voice.
“My nerves are shaken by the dreadful noises I have heard. What is the
matter, Mr. Beaver?”

“Mr. Owl has brought another pupil,” said the beaver, politely. “I do
not know where to put him.”

[Illustration: “MR. OWL HAS BROUGHT ANOTHER PUPIL,” SAID THE BEAVER,
POLITELY.]

“Let him stay with Reynard Redfox to-night,” replied Miss Hare, looking
searchingly at Tiny. “What a frail little creature you are! You must
belong to the Rat family.”

Tiny did not like Miss Hare’s frank way of speaking, and to be
compared to a rat was not agreeable, but he said politely:

“I am Tiny Redsquirrel of Squirreltown. I desire very much to get an
education.”

“I will let you stay if you will obey the rules,” said Miss Hare,
severely. “I have always heard that red squirrels are very mischievous
animals. You must know that I will not permit any foolishness. Not long
ago Mr. Owl brought a pupil here who was so very saucy and naughty that
I was glad to get rid of him. Although I taught him the lessons of
kindness and charity, he bit Weenie Mouse and hit Winkie Weasel with an
acorn. One day he tore out one of Katie Goose’s feathers and frightened
the poor fowl almost to death. I never before saw such a bad creature.
He looked very much like you. Do you know Chatty Chipmunk?”

“Yes, ma’am,” replied Tiny, heartily ashamed of his youthful companion.
“Is he at this school?”

“No, he forsook us before he had been here three days,” answered Miss
Hare. “I think he must have been drowned. I will give you a trial; but
if you prove unworthy of my school I will never receive any more pupils
brought to me by Mr. Owl. Good-night.”

“Come on,” said the beaver. “I will take you to meet your roommate.”

“Oh, I cannot room with a red fox!” protested Tiny, much alarmed. “He
will eat me during his sleep.”

“You need have no fear,” said the beaver assuringly. “Miss Hare has
taught all her pupils the lesson of self-denial. She puts all sorts
of temptations in their way, but none of them ever yield unless they
are downright bad, as Chatty Chipmunk was. Reynard Redfox is very well
bred. He and Bantam Chicken are the best of friends. Wherever you see
Bantam, you may also see Reynard following after him.”

Tiny did not feel very comfortable when the beaver opened the door of
one of the buildings and told him to enter.

Three or four fireflies, whose duty it was to carry lanterns, flew
about the room, making it very light. Reynard Redfox, who was very
large compared with Tiny, rose and shook out his stiff, long-haired
coat. He gazed hungrily at the little red squirrel as though he were
starving for his companionship.

[Illustration: “MR. REDFOX, THIS IS MR. REDSQUIRREL,” SAID THE BEAVER.]

“Mr. Redfox, this is Mr. Redsquirrel,” said the beaver. “Mr.
Redsquirrel is a new scholar and Miss Hare said he should share your
room to-night.”

“He is most welcome,” said Reynard with a smile that made Tiny tremble
all over. “I always was fond of squirrels. I fancy we shall get along
famously together, as he takes up so little room.”

“I assure you I shall occupy as little space as possible,” replied
Tiny, politely. “I shall sleep here by the door, and, if I annoy you
during the night, all you have to do is to make a noise and I will jump
into the creek.”

“You are quite safe,” assured the fox, settling himself for a nap.
“Since I have been at this school I have learned how cowardly it is to
injure creatures smaller and weaker than myself. I hope you will like
our school.”

“I hope so, too,” said Tiny, faintly. “Of course, it will take time to
get acquainted with all the strange animals I shall meet. I have seen
little of the world.”




“Just be kind and unselfish, and you will make friends,” said the red
fox. “When you see another animal that doesn’t please you, don’t stare
at him as you did at me, but be as agreeable as you can. Remember that
it would be a very monotonous world if all animals should look and act
alike.”

“Miss Hare must be a very nice creature,” ventured Tiny.

“She is very wise and talented,” said the fox with enthusiasm. “Some of
the most aristocratic families in Animal Kingdom are represented in her
school. I have heard that she belongs to the nobility. You know she is
a Belgian Hare, and I believe I heard some one say that her father was
a Welsh Rabbit.”

At that moment a terrible thumping sound was heard.

“What is that!” exclaimed Tiny, unconsciously drawing nearer to Reynard
for protection.

“It is a warning for us to keep quiet,” said the fox. “Billy Beaver,
the janitor, makes that noise with his tail whenever we become
boisterous at night. You know that whenever a beaver wishes to warn
his companions that danger is near, he makes a thumping sound with his
tail. Really, the only clever thing about a beaver is his tail.”

The fireflies settled down to rest, leaving the roommates in darkness.
Although Reynard slept soundly, Tiny did not close his eyes until he
was so exhausted that he could keep them open no longer.

Tiny was glad when the rosy dawn peeped over the eastern hills once
more. The little dark room in which he lay did not look so cheerless in
the bright light of day.

Again there came the sound of knocking that resembled the beating of a
drum.

[Illustration: “THAT’S BILLY BEAVER,” EXPLAINED REYNARD REDFOX,
YAWNING. “HE IS CALLING FOR US TO GET UP.”]

“That is Billy Beaver,” again explained Reynard Redfox, yawning. “He
is calling for us to get up. We have just an hour in which to eat our
breakfasts.”

“Who gets breakfast for us?” asked Tiny, feeling much out of place in
the strange new land.

“Each one gets his own breakfast, of course,” replied Reynard, much
amused. “We all require different kinds of food; and Miss Hare does not
care how or where we get it, if we keep from injuring one another.”

“Katie Goose, who is very cleanly, takes a swim in the creek, and hunts
for seeds along the bank; Sammy Rabbit, a relative of Miss Hare, hunts
for grain; and Winkie Weasel chases insects and catches frogs. Since I
have become civilized, I am particularly fond of grapes, although I am
never so happy as when strawberry season comes round.

“Shifty Woodchuck has less trouble in searching for his breakfast
than any other pupil, for he goes to a field of red clover or wild
buckwheat, and many a time he eats until he is not in good condition to
study. Shifty is a sleepy little animal. He spends the winter in a nest
of dried grasses that he builds in a hole in the ground. When the cold
weather comes, he will get sleepy and will lay aside his studies to
prepare for a long rest. Maybe he will sleep all winter, for no other
animal sleeps so long or so soundly as the woodchuck.”

It took Tiny but a few moments to smooth down his silken fur and to
brush out his bushy tail. With a shrill cry of delight, he sprang from
his new home and ran out into the bracing, frosty air. He sped over the
willow brush that surrounded the village of quaint beaver houses,
and soon found himself in an oak tree where there were plenty of ripe
acorns, moist with dew.

Hardly had he finished his breakfast when again he heard the tail
of the beaver pounding heavily. He hastened back to the cluster of
beaver houses with their round domes. Little animals of all kinds were
bustling about on their way to the various recitation rooms. Billy
Beaver, the janitor, told Tiny that he should go into the auditorium,
which was the largest building of all. There he found Miss Hare,
sitting behind a rough, wooden table. She wore a gray robe and a pair
of large earrings. Her spectacles were so heavy that her eyes seemed
very large; but he at once decided that she must be a kind teacher, as
her voice was soft and gentle.

[Illustration: MISS HARE’S SCHOOL.]

A number of animals sat on wooden benches facing Miss Hare. Reynard
Redfox, who was the largest animal in school, sat in one corner by
himself. His big, dark eyes were as mild as Tiny’s. His coarse, shaggy
fur was neatly brushed.

The room was decorated with flowers and carpeted with moss. An
old-fashioned fireplace with bellows and tongs stood at one end of the
room. Tiny, who had never before seen a fireplace, wondered where the
fire came from. He afterwards learned that Billy Beaver made the fire
by rubbing two sticks together, and that it was never permitted to go
out.

Toadstools, cat-tails, and elderberry bushes were arranged against
the walls, looking quite as artistic as the bay-trees and other
ornaments we see in fashionable hotels. Window curtains, woven of silk
by spiders, and screens and cushions, woven of weeds, reeds, and grass
by birds and mice, added to the comfort of the place. Snail shells and
pretty stones, gathered by the pupils, also lent beauty to the room.

[Illustration: NOT WISHING TO BE OUTDONE BY HIS CLASSMATES, HE WENT
FORWARD AND, WITH A LOW BOW, GAVE MISS HARE AN ACORN.]

Tiny observed that each pupil presented the teacher with flowers and
delicacies, which were laid on her desk. Not wishing to be outdone by
his classmates, he went forward and, with a low bow, gave Miss Hare an
acorn.

“Thank you,” said Miss Hare with a pleased smile, as she bent forward
and gazed admiringly at him through her dark spectacles. “I see that
you have already learned the lesson of generosity. You are the little
animal that Mr. Owl brought here last night, I suppose. I hope you will
be very studious and learn a great deal. I will introduce you to two
pupils in the language class. Mr. Redsquirrel, this pupil is Winkie
Weasel; that pupil just coming in is Sammy Rabbit. Those pupils, who
are sitting in the back row of seats, are well advanced in their work;
those pupils in the front seats are beginners. I will introduce them
later on.”

Tiny bowed to each of the pupils in the room, which included Shifty
Woodchuck, who was very fat and sleepy-looking; Mr. Rabbitt, who had
pink eyes and rosy ears; Mew Mew, who wore a blue bow; Bow Wow, with
curly locks hanging over his eyes; Little Winkie Weasel, who possessed
a long body and very short legs; Miss Field Mouse, who sat upon a
toadstool; and several other pupils.

“I usually teach in rhyme,” said Miss Hare, with an air of
assurance that made Tiny think she was vastly learned. “I teach the
multiplication table in rhyme, and in language I teach the use of
verbs, nouns, and other parts of speech in the same way. There is no
reason why one should not teach in rhyme, for it is natural and not
easily forgotten.”

She then told Tiny to sit by Winkie Weasel and, after opening her book,
she looked over the class to be sure that each pupil was ready to give
his attention.

“The class may read aloud together our lesson for to-day,” she said,
finally.