Today is the first day of school. The three months of vacation in the country have passed like a dream. This morning, I was returning to school.
I was thinking of the country, and went unwillingly. The streets were swarming with pupils. The two bookshops were thronged with persons who were purchasing books, copy-books and school-outfit. In front of the school, so many people had collected, that the beadle and the policeman found it hard to keep the entrance clear. Near the door, I feft myself touched on the shoulder; it was my master of the eleventh grade, cheerful as usual, and he said to me:
- "So we are to part forever, Henry!"
I knew it well, yet the words pained me. We made our way in with difficulty. Pupils of all ages filled the anteroom and the stairs,
making such a buzzing, that it seemed like entering a theatre. I was glad to see once more that large room on the ground floor, where I had passed nearly every day for three years. There was a throng of teachers going and coming. My school-mistress of the
last year greeted me from the door of the class room, and said:
- "Henry, you are going to the floor above, this year. I shall not even see you pass by any more !". And she gazed regretfully at me.
At ten o'clock, we were all in our classes. The school seemed so small and gloomy to me when I thought of the woods and the mountains where I had passed the summer. I thought again, too, of my previous master who was so good, and who always smiled
at us. Our present teacher is tall; he has no beard; his hair is gray and long. He has a big voice, and he looks at us fixedly, one after the other, as though he were reading our very thoughts, and he never smiles.
I said to myself: "This is my first day. There are nine months more. What work, what monthly examinations, what weariness and whatever will be !"