Page:Letters of Life.djvu/219

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in female education, or overshadowed by more showy attainments. Desiring to give prominence to this branch, I thought it best to connect it with a palpable and coveted distinction. Just before the devotions that closed our daily school, a short time was allowed to look over the orthographical lesson which had previously been studied. Then each one, as her name was called by the monitress, arose, and took her place in the class. Every word, as given out by the teacher, was required to be accurately spelled, and its etymology, definition, and grammatical signification clearly told. Mistake, or even hesitation, caused the word to be passed onward, and the thorough scholar took her place above the discomfited ones. Close study, a clear understanding of the shades of meaning, and a ready utterance were thus simultaneously cultivated, while the stimulus of emulation concealed the severity of the mental tax. The one left at the head of the class after what was sometimes almost a decimation, was the monitress for the ensuing day. The last act of the ci-devant monitress was to write upon her slate the order of the class, and resign it to her successor; the power attached to that office being too great to be held with safety for a longer period than a single day. Moreover, it involved a future honor—a premium given at the close of the term to the one who had most frequently sustained that office. Another prize was also accorded at the same period to the pupil who had attained the