Page:Melbourne and Mars.djvu/28

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26
MELBOURNE AND MARS.

'Money, child! what do you mean?'

'Money that people work for, and that they pay for things with,' I answered.

'Well, my boy, that is about the strangest question you have ever asked. Where have you seen any money? Who has spoken to you of money?'

'I don't know, mother; somehow the question came.'

That afternoon I heard mother and father talking about the question, and father said that money transactions had ceased more than ten thousand years before, and that I could not have either heard or read of money. Mother sat awhile thinking, and then remarked, 'Perhaps he is an earth-born, and that was an idea from the inferior world.'"

About a week later our diarist writes:—"I have to go to school again, Not to Hildreth's—I have finished with her class, to my sorrow—but to Harry Gaston's, which is held in the same block of buildings. I know Gaston, and like him, and as several of my previous classmates go with me to Gaston's, I may be as happy there as I was with Hildreth. What a strange record! Have I to dream myself through another school course? Shall I learn where my lot is cast? Shall I become equally conscious in both lives?"


CHAPTER VI.


Gaston's Class.

"FOR several days now I have been a pupil of Gaston's. He is a bright-eyed, cheerful man, and is always in a smiling and happy mood. He leads us all to ask questions, and makes our lessons a treat. As before, each pupil has a recess, in which is found all that is required both for the school and the playfields. The box of blocks is gone and in its place there are a lot of pieces of wood of various forms. The abacus is replaced by one, the beads of which have double wires that hold them so that figures and cyphers stamped upon them are always in sight. It has another peculiarity. A wire runs perpendicularly across the centre, keeping the beads half to the right and halt to the left. An elder boy, one who has been in Gaston's class for some time, caught me pondering over the new abacus. He explained it to me, saying that the perpendicular wire was the decimal point, and that the beads to the left went up by powers of ten, and those to the right went down by tenths, hundredths, etc. That small white square let into the bead is meant to hold a figure. However you will soon find all that out."

It will not be wise to burden these pages with all the incidents and accidents that happen to a sharp boy in a primary school, even under the tuition of a teacher like Gaston, aided as he is by models and illustrations and samples of natural productions and manufactured goods. The class is