Story – Little Scotch Granite

Burt and Johnny Lee were delighted when their Scottish cousin Willie came to live with them. He was as far along in his studies as they were; and the first day he went to school, they thought him a very good student. He wasted no time in play when he should have been studying, and he recited well.

At night, just before the close of school, the teacher called a roll, and the boys began to answer, “Ten.” When Willie understood that he was to say “ten” if he had not whispered during the day, he replied, “I have whispered.”

“More than once?” asked the teacher.

“Yes, sir,” answered Willie.

“As many as ten times?”

“Maybe I have,” he said slowly.

“Then I shall mark you ‘zero,’ ” said the teacher sternly, “and that is a very great disgrace.”

“Why, I did not see you whisper once,” said Johnny that night after school.

“Well, I did,” said Willie, “I saw others doing it, and so I asked to borrow a book; then I lent a slate pencil, and asked a boy for a knife, and did several such things. I supposed it was allowed.”

“Oh, we all do that,” said Burt, reddening. “There isn’t any sense in the old rule, and nobody could keep it. Nobody does.”

“I will, or else I will say I haven’t,” said Willie. “Do you suppose I would tell ten lies in one heap?”

“Oh, we don’t call them lies,” muttered Johnny.

“There wouldn’t be a credit among us at night if we were so strict.”

“What of that, if you told the truth?” laughed Willie bravely.

In a short time, the boys all saw how it was with this truthful little Scottish boy. He studied hard, played with all his might in playtime, but from his own account he lost more credits than any of the rest.

After some weeks, the other boys answered nine and eight oftener than they used to. Yet the schoolroom seemed to have grown much more quiet. Sometimes, when Willie Grant’s mark was even lower than usual, the teacher would smile, but said no more of “disgrace.”

Willie never preached at the boys or told tales. But somehow it made the boys ashamed of themselves, just seeing that this sturdy, blue-eyed Scottish boy must tell the truth. They felt like cheats and “storytellers.” They talked about him among themselves and loved him, if they did nickname him “Scotch Granite,” because he was so firm about a promise.

At the end of the term, Willie’s name was very low down in the credit list. When it was read, he had hard work not to cry, for he had tried hard to be perfect.

The very last thing that day was a speech by the teacher.

“I want to give a little gold medal to the most faithful boy, the one really the most conscientiously perfect in his deportment,” he said. “Who shall have it?”

“Little Scotch Granite!” shouted forty boys at once. For the child whose name was so low on the credit list had made truth noble in their eyes.

Is every boy in your school a “Scotch Granite”?

Balloons, Selections from the True Education Series, ©1930, 53–55