page 1 of 2
Skipping ahead to June, Robert walks home from school on the last day of class. It is hot and dry, and he watches a coach roll by, kicking up a snakelike trail of dust as it rolls toward the horizon. As he approaches the farm, Robert sees Pinky milling about near her corn cratch, and he calls out to her. Pinky responds to the call, but she by now she is almost as big as Robert, so she is a lot slower to run toward him than she was in April. After rolling around in the grass for a while, Robert heads for the house, where Mrs. Peck is waiting for him. She beckons Robert to come inside, where Robert discovers, to his dismay, that his Aunt Matty has dropped by for a visit.
Robert does not completely understand Aunt Matty's relation to him, but he guesses that she is a distant second cousin. He calls her Aunt Matty regardless, even though her real name in Martha Plover. What he does know is that she comes from Learning approximately once a month to drink tea with Mrs. Peck and Aunt Carrie and talk about the gossip of the town.
Robert greets Aunt Matty, and then, instead of going to change for chores, he makes a dumb mistake, pulling out his report card. He shows it to Mrs. Peck and Aunt Carrie first, and they are pleased because, though they cannot read, they know what an 'A' looks like, and Robert got 'A's in everything but English. Then, Robert shows his report card to Aunt Matty, who is literate, and she is completely taken aback by his 'D' in English. "You got a D in English," she repeats twice, so that no one could mistake how horrible a thing it was.
Luckily for all parties, Aunt Matty announces that there is a remedy to the situation. In Robert, the word remedy stirs up memories of foul tasting medicines, and he is immediately against it. "All he needs is a tutor," Aunt Matty explains, "Fact is, I will tutor him myself." At this, Robert burst out laughing, picturing Aunt Matty with the "tooter" that Jacob Henry played in the school band.
This insult is more than Aunt Matty can bear, so she decides that the tutoring will begin immediately and drags Robert into the parlor. She sits him down and explains that grammar is where he is failing, so that is what they are going to learn. "Living in this house and all its Shaker ways, it's a wonder you can talk at all. You'd get better than a D in English if you were a fearing Baptist," she tells him, and that is when Robert knows that he is in trouble.
Robert had heard about the Baptists from Jacob Henry's mother. She had told them that they dunk their babies in water three times to see how holy they were. If they drowned, then their immortal soul went to hell, but if the baby lived, "it was even worse. You had to be a Baptist." The thought of being dunked in water by someone of Aunt Matty's stature is enough to make Robert gasp for air. Aunt Matty hears this and makes him blow his knows. Her first lesson, is, "You can't learn English with an acting sinus."
The ox is Solomon; Mr. Tanner's boar hog is Samson.
3 out of 5 people found this helpful
1 out of 2 people found this helpful
Take a Study Break!