SCHOOL DAYS AT HAMPTON
whether she would admit him or not. She made him wait. He was worried. All he wanted was a chance to show her that he meant business. Then a very interesting thing happened. Booker Washington tells the story himself. He called it his examination.
"After some time had passed," he says, "the head teacher said: 'The adjoining recitation room needs sweeping. Take the broom and sweep it.'
"It occurred to me at once that here was my chance. Never did I receive an order with more delight. I knew that I could sweep, for Mrs. Ruffner had thoroughly taught me how to do that when I lived with her.
"I swept the recitation room three times. Then I got a dusting-cloth and I dusted it four times. All the woodwork around the walls, every bench, table, and desk, I went over four times with my dusting-cloth. Besides, every piece of furniture had been moved and every closet and corner in the room had been thoroughly cleaned. I had the feeling that in a large measure my future depended upon the impression I made upon the teacher in the cleaning of that room.
"When I was through, I rapped on the door, and reported to the teacher. She was a 'Yankee' woman who knew just where to look for dirt. She went into the room and inspected the floor and closets; then she took her handkerchief and rubbed it on the woodwork about the walls, and