The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit by John Singer Sargent
Thank you for your interest in "Our Miss Engel." This short story is now available on Amazon, including Kindle Unlimited, which means I can no longer post it free on this blog. Download it here.
Read an excerpt below:
Read an excerpt below:
2 September, 1909
I received a letter today from the Ursuline Academy. It seems I have found a job.
When I informed my parents of my decision, my father said, “You watch those papist types, Clara. They’re a funny lot.” I don’t know what he means by that. From her letters, the Reverend Mother seems perfectly kind.
13 September, 1909
We exchanged a few more correspondences before settling on 20 September as my first day of teaching, a Monday. I will take the train to Paola on Saturday morning and should arrive before noon, which will give me just over a day and a half to get settled in.
I myself went to a good Lutheran school, and have nothing but cherished memories of my teacher, Miss Taylor. When I finished my eighth grade primer, she hugged me fiercely and said, “Clara, you just make me so proud.” She had tears in her eyes. I knew right then that I was going to become a teacher, like her. We are quite learned here in this part of the world, with a fine theatre and the Carnegie library. Also, Papa is something of an intellectual. He was a teacher back in Germany, so I suppose you could say it is in my blood. My brother and I were brought up to be diligent readers and encouraged to express ourselves through writing and discourse.
As I was studying to get my teacher’s certificate, Papa was fond of telling me that many schools in America are based on the Prussian model of teaching. “The German people know something about education, Clara,” he would say. “Don’t ever forget that.”
Behind my book, I would smile. “Yes, Papa.”
I must confess my tastes run far more to novels than to the philosophical treatises Papa is always urging me to read. We find something of a compromise in poetry, thank the Muses! Like most of the men in the tri-state area, Papa is a miner. Joplin is known for blackjack and lead. Both my parents have worked very hard for everything we have. When they first came to this country, they spoke very little English. But as their English improved, so did their prospects. Mama worked as a seamstress for a time, and Papa worked his way up from shafting and drilling to become a foreman, and we moved out of our cabin by the mining camp into a proper house off Grey Avenue. They wanted my brother and me to sound like perfect Americans. That was easy enough, as I was born in Joplin. Gunther was born back in Frankfurt, but he was just a little thing when they brought him over, so doesn’t really remember any German at all. I suppose that is just as well.
Anyhow, I am very excited about the position. My first school—my first pupils! I wonder what they will be like.