Dozens of gaily clad children were skating in and out among each other, and all their pent-up merriment of the morning was relieving itself in song and shout and laughter. There was nothing to check the flow of frolic. Not a thought of schoolbooks came out with them into the sunshine. Latin, arithmetic, grammar--all were locked up for an hour in the dingy schoolroom. The teacher might be a noun if he wished, and a proper one at that, but THEY meant to enjoy themselves. As long as the skating was as perfect as this, it made no difference whether Holland were on the North Pole or the equator; and, as for philosophy, how could they bother themselves with inertia and gravitation and such things when it was as much as they could do to keep from getting knocked over in the commotion.
In the height of the fun, one of the children called out, "What is that?"
"What? Where?" cried a dozen voices.
"Why, don't you see? That dark thing over there by the idiot's cottage."
"I don't see anything," said one.
"I do," shouted another. "It's a dog."
"Where's any dog?" put in a squeaky voice that we have heard before. "It's no such thing--it's a heap of rags."
"Pooh! Voost," retorted another gruffly, "that's about as near the fact as you ever get. It's the goose girl, Gretel, looking for rats."