Page:Melbourne and Mars.djvu/29

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27
GASTON'S CLASS.

willing to learn, is eager to listen and to look, and gather up the knowledge that the teacher is so able to impart. In school hours there is no listlessness, no weariness, no heavy task, nor are there any lessons to carry home. There is no spelling to learn, no tables to commit to memory, and all school work is done in school hours.

They go to school once a day, and spend four hours in school work. After an hour and a half of study the class goes through several of the exercises learned in Hildreth'a class, and some new ones, all set to music, and many of them accompanied with song. In this way half-an-hour is spent, and they study another hour and a half. That done, they go into the playfield with the whole school, and play as they like with entire freedom for half-an-hour. The last hour is spent in reading, writing from dictation, and if any child is puzzled or in doubt about a lesson Gaston will answer questions at his desk during this hour.

Five hours at school and nothing to eat! Poor children. Our diarist says little about food so far, but a little later on he says the people in general have only one meal daily, hut that children have a little food early in the day, and their next meal with their elders early in the afternoon when all work ceases.

One accident happens which is worth recording, since it might easily have proved fatal and stopped the records of this very real dreamland:—

"I had been in Gaston's class for about three months (earth time) when one afternoon early we all went for a journey in our flying fish. We had all got used to it now, and I frequently looked over the sides at the houses and beautiful gardens below us. The land beneath us was a perfect paradise of beauty. The houses nestled amongst their trees, nearly all of which were fruit-bearing, and the interspersed flower gardens glowed radient with all the colors of the sunrise, the sunset, and the rainbow. There was nothing trim and chessboard-like in the appearance of the ground, and at the same time there were no roads and no disorderly open spaces. Every inch of the land was utilised. Oh the delight of floating through that perfumed summer air free from dust, smoke, noise, and all the disagreeables we would have if floating at about three hundred feet above an earth town, or even village, No jarring, grating sounds, only the sound of musical voices now and then, with snatches of song. We were approaching a clear lake, smooth as a mirror, reflecting some trees that grew on its further side so clearly that every leaf and twig that grew upward in the air appeared to grow downward in the water. We crossed the lake, flying slowly and enjoying the scene. When about halfway over I looked down over the side, and saw the reflection of our air boat with its fins or wings sweeping to and fro slowly and silently. I had no idea before how graceful the machine looked when in motion. I leaned over a little and called mother to see how pretty the reflection. She moved towards me, not to look, but to seize my clothing.