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Title: Parkhurst Boys - And Other Stories of School Life
Author: Reed, Talbot Baines, 1852-1893
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Parkhurst Boys - And Other Stories of School Life" ***

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Parkhurst Boys
And other stories of School Life

By Talbot Baines Reed
________________________________________________________________________
This is a collection of short stories and articles, mostly about boys at
school.  There are four groups of these stories: seven about a school
called Parkhurst, detailing major events such as matches and boat races.

The second section consists of eleven discourses on different types of
boy, such as "The Sneak".  The third section contains twelve stories
about boys who have played their part in English History, such as the
two young "Princes in the Tower", Dick Whittington, Edward the Sixth,
and so on.

The final section consists of seven general stories of greater length
than the foregoing.

The whole book, though not really long, is quite amusing, though of
course very dated.  You'll enjoy it.  I personally prefer to listen to
these books.  NH.
________________________________________________________________________

PARKHURST BOYS
AND OTHER STORIES OF SCHOOL LIFE

BY TALBOT BAINES REED

Part one.  Parkhurst Sketches.



CHAPTER ONE.

MY FIRST FOOTBALL MATCH.

It was a proud moment in my existence when Wright, captain of our
football club, came up to me in school one Friday and said, "Adams, your
name is down to play in the match against Craven to-morrow."

I could have knighted him on the spot.  To be one of the picked
"fifteen," whose glory it was to fight the battles of their school in
the Great Close, had been the leading ambition of my life--I suppose I
ought to be ashamed to confess it--ever since, as a little chap of ten,
I entered Parkhurst six years ago.  Not a winter Saturday but had seen
me either looking on at some big match, or oftener still scrimmaging
about with a score or so of other juniors in a scratch game.  But for a
long time, do what I would, I always seemed as far as ever from the
coveted goal, and was half despairing of ever rising to win my "first
fifteen cap."  Latterly, however, I had noticed Wright and a few others
of our best players more than once lounging about in the Little Close,
where we juniors used to play, evidently taking observations with an eye
to business.  Under the awful gaze of these heroes, need I say I exerted
myself as I had never done before?  What cared I for hacks or bruises,
so only that I could distinguish myself in their eyes?  And never was
music sweeter than the occasional "Bravo, young 'un!" with which some of
them would applaud any special feat of skill or daring.

So I knew my time was coming at last, and only hoped it would arrive
before the day of the Craven match, the great match of our season--
always looked forward to as _the_ event of the Christmas term, when
victory was regarded by us boys as the summit of all human glory, and
defeat as an overwhelming disgrace.

It will therefore be understood why I was almost beside myself with
delight when, the very day before the match, Wright made the
announcement I have referred to.

I scarcely slept a wink that night for dreaming of the wonderful
exploits which were to signalise my first appearance in the Great
Close--how I was to run the ball from one end of the field to the other,
overturning, dodging, and distancing every one of the enemy, finishing
up with a brilliant and mighty kick over the goal.  After which I was to
have my broken limbs set by a doctor on the spot, to receive a perfect
ovation from friend and foe, to be chaired round the field, to be the
"lion" at the supper afterwards, and finally to have a whole column of
the _Times_ devoted to my exploits!  What glorious creatures we are in
our dreams!

Well, the eventful day dawned at last.  It was a holiday at Parkhurst,
and as fine a day as any one could wish.

As I made my appearance, wearing the blue-and-red jersey of a "first
fifteen man" under my jacket, I found myself quite an object of
veneration among the juniors who had lately been my compeers, and I
accepted their homage with a vast amount of condescension.  Nothing was
talked of during the forenoon but the coming match.  Would the Craven
fellows turn up a strong team?  Would that fellow Slider, who made the
tremendous run last year, play for them again this?  Would Wright select
the chapel end or the other, if we won the choice?  How were we off
behind the scrimmage?

"Is Adams to be trusted?"  I heard one voice ask.

Two or three small boys promptly replied, "Yes"; but the seniors said
nothing, except Wright, who took the opportunity of giving me a little
good advice in private.

"Look here, Adams; you are to play half-back, you know.  All you've got
to take care of is to keep cool, and never let your eyes go off the
ball.  You know all the rest."

A lecture half an hour long could not have made more impression.  I
remembered those two hints, "Keep cool, and watch the ball," as long as
I played football, and I would advise every half-back to take them to
heart in like manner.

At noon the Craven team came down in an omnibus, and had lunch in hall
with us, and half an hour later found us all in a straggling procession,
making for the scene of conflict in the Great Close.  There stood the
goals and the boundary-posts, and there was Granger, the ground-keeper,
with a brand-new lemon-shaped ball under his arm.

"Look sharp and peel!" cried our captain.

So we hurried to the tent, and promptly divested ourselves of our outer
garments, turned up the sleeves of our jerseys, and tied an extra knot
in our bootlaces.  As we emerged, the Craven men were making their
appearance on the ground in battle array.  I felt so nervous myself that
I could not, for the life of me, imagine how some of them could look so
unconcerned, whistling, and actually playing leapfrog to keep themselves
warm!

An officer in the Crimean War once described his sensation in some of
the battles there as precisely similar to those he had experienced when
a boy on the football field at Rugby.  I can appreciate the comparison,
for one.  Certainly never soldier went into action with a more solemn
do-or-die feeling than that with which I took my place on the field that
afternoon.

"They've won the choice of sides," said somebody, "and are going to play
with the wind."

"Take your places, Parkhurst!" shouted our captain.

The ball lies in the centre of the ground, and Wright stands ten yards
or so behind it, ready for the kick-off.  Of our fifteen the ten
forwards are extended in a line with the ball across the field, ready to
charge after it the moment it goes flying.  The two best runners of our
team are stationed quarter-back, where they can skirmish on the
outskirts of the scrimmage.  I am posted a little in rear of them at
half-back--an unusual post for so young a player, but one which was
accorded to me by virtue of my light weight and not inconsiderable
running powers.  Behind me are the two backs, on whom, when all else
fails, the issue of the conflict depends.  The Craven players are
similarly disposed, and waiting impatiently for our captain's kick.

"Are you ready?" he shouts.

Silence gives consent.

He gives a quick glance round at us, then springs forward, and in an
instant the ball is soaring high in the direction of the Cravens' goal
amid the shouts of onlooking friend and foe.

Our forwards were after it like lightning, but not before a Craven back
had got hold of it and run some distance in the direction of our goal.
He did not wait to be attacked, but by a clever drop-kick, a knack
peculiar to all good backs, sent it spinning right over the forwards'
heads into the hands of one of our quarter-backs.  He, tucking it under
his arm and crushing his cap on to his head, started to run.  Going
slowly at first, he steered straight for the forwards of the enemy till
within a pace or two of them, when he doubled suddenly, and amid the
shouts of our partisans slipped past them and was seen heading straight
for the Craven goal.  But although he had escaped their forwards, he had
yet their rearguard to escape, which was far harder work, for was not
one of that rearguard the celebrated Slider himself, who by his prowess
had last year carried defeat to our school; and the other, was it not
the stalwart Naylor, who only a month ago had played gloriously for his
county against Gravelshire?

Yet our man was not to be daunted by the prestige of these distinguished
adversaries, but held on his way pluckily, and without a swerve.  It was
a sight to see those two cunningly lay wait for him, like two spiders
for a fly.  There was nothing for it but to plunge headlong into their
web in a desperate effort to break through.  Alas! brave man!  Naylor
has him in his clutches, the Craven forwards come like a deluge on the
spot, our forwards pour over the Craven, and in an instant our hero and
the ball have vanished from sight under a heap of writhing humanity.

"Down!" cries a half-choked voice, from the bottom of the heap.  It was
rather an unnecessary observation, as it happens, but it served as a
signal to both parties to rise to their feet and prepare for a
"scrimmage."

Now, if truth must be told, our school always had the reputation of
being second to none in "going through a scrimmage," so while the
players are scrambling to their feet, and waiting for the ball to be
"grounded," I will explain what our method of doing the thing was.

It was nothing more nor less than a carrying out of the principle of the
wedge.  The ball formed the apex; the fellows got up close to it, so as
never to let it out of reach of their four feet.  Behind these two came
three with locked arms, and behind the three, four.  The men in the
middle pushed straight ahead, and those at the sides inwards towards the
ball, while the two or three remaining forwards lent their weight to one
side or other of the base, according as the exigencies of the scrimmage
demanded.  Thus our wedge, embodying a concentrated pressure in the
direction of the ball, the farther it advanced the farther it scattered
asunder the foe, who fell off from its gradually widening sides without
hope of getting again within reach of the ball except by retreating to
the rear and beginning the struggle over afresh.  When this manoeuvre
was well executed, it was almost certain to carry the ball through the
scrimmage, and when that happened, then was the time for us half and
quarter-backs to look out for our chance.

Our men went at it with their customary vigour and address, and
presently the ball emerged on the far side of the scrimmage.  In an
instant it was caught up by one of the Craven quarter-backs, and in an
instant our men were upon him again before he could get a start for a
run.  Scrimmage after scrimmage ensued, the ball was constantly in
Chancery, but each crush brought us a yard or so nearer the enemy's goal
than we had been before.

All this time I was little better than a spectator, for the ball never
once came within reach of my fingers, and I was beginning to think that,
after all, a big match was not so exciting a thing as one is apt to
imagine.

At last, however, after one scrimmage more desperate than any that had
gone before, the ball flew out suddenly, and bounded off one of the
Craven men into my grasp.  Now was my chance.  "If only I could--"

The next thing I was conscious of was that about twenty people had
fallen to the ground all of a heap, and that I and the ball were at the
bottom.

"Down!"  I cried.

"Pack up there, Parkhurst!" sang out Wright.

I extricated myself as quickly as I could, and got back to my place in
the rear, thinking to myself, after all, there _was_ some little
excitement in football.

At last the ball got well away from the scrimmage, and who should secure
it but the redoubtable Slider!  I felt a passing tremor of deep despair,
as I saw that hero spring like the wind towards our goal.

"Look out, Adams!" shouted Wright.

Sure enough he was coming in my direction!  With the desperation of a
doomed man I strode out to meet him.  He rushed furiously on--swerving
slightly to avoid my reach, and stretching out his arm to ward off my
grasp.  I flung myself wildly in his path.  There was a heavy thud, and
the earth seemed to jump up and strike me.  The next moment I was
sprawling on my back on the grass.  I don't pretend to know how it all
happened, but somehow or other I had succeeded in checking the onward
career of the victorious Slider; for though I had fallen half stunned
before the force of his charge, he had recoiled for an instant from the
same shock, and that instant gave time for Wright to get hold of him,
and so put an end for the time to his progress.

"Well played!" said some one, as I picked myself up.  So I was
comforted, and began to think that, after all, football was rather a
fine game.

Time would fail me to tell of all the events of that afternoon--how
Wright carried the ball within a dozen yards of our opponents' goal; how
their forwards passed the ball one to another, and got a "touch-down"
behind our line, but missed the kick; how Naylor ran twenty yards with
one of our men hanging on his back; how our quarter-back sent the ball
nearly over their goal with as neat a drop-kick as ever it has been my
lot to witness.

The afternoon was wearing.  I heard the time-keeper call out, "Five
minutes more!"  The partisans of either side were getting frantic with
excitement.  Unless we could secure an advantage now, we should be as
good as defeated, for the Craven had scored a "touch-down" to our
nothing.  Was this desperate fight to end so?  Was victory, after all,
to escape us?  But I had no time for reflection then.

"Now, Parkhurst," sang out Wright, "pull yourselves together for once!"

A Craven man is standing to throw the ball out of "touch," and either
side stands in confronting rows, impatient for the fray.  Wright is at
the end of the line, face to face with Naylor, and I am a little behind
Wright.

"Keep close!" exclaims the latter to me, as the ball flies towards us.

Wright has it, but in an instant Naylor's long arms are round him,
bearing him down.

"Adams!" ejaculates out captain, and in a trice he passes the ball into
my hands, and I am off like the wind.  So suddenly has it all been done
that I have already a yard or two start before my flight is discovered.
There is a yelling and a rush behind me; there is a roar from the crowds
on either side; there is a clear "Follow up, Parkhurst!" from Wright in
the rear; there is a loud "Collar him!" from the Craven captain ahead.
I am steering straight for their goal; three men only are between me and
it--one, their captain, right back, and Slider and another man in front
of him.

I see at a glance that my only hope is to keep as I am going and waste
no time in dodging, or assuredly the pursuing host will be upon me.
Slider and his companion are closing in right across my path, almost
close together.  With a bound I dash between them.  Have they got me, or
have I escaped them?  A shout louder than ever and a "Bravo!" from
Wright tell me I am clear of that danger, and have now but their last
defence to pass.  He is a tall, broad fellow, and a formidable foe to
encounter, and waits for me close under their goal.  The pace, I feel,
is telling on me; the shouting behind sounds nearer, only a few yards
divides us now.  Shall I double, shall I venture a kick, or shall I
charge straight at him?

"Charge at him!" sounds Wright's voice, as if in answer to my thought.
I gather up all my remaining force, and charge.  There is a flash across
my eyes, and a dull shock against my chest.  I reel and stagger, and
forget where I am.  I am being swept along in a torrent; the waters with
a roar rush past me and over me.  Every moment I get nearer and nearer
the fatal edge--I am at it--I hang a moment on the brink, and then--

"Down!" shouts a voice close at my ear, and there is such a noise of
cheering and rejoicing that I sit up and rub my eyes like one waking
bewildered from a strange dream.

Then I find out what has happened.  When I charged at the Craven captain
the shock sent me back staggering into the very arms of Wright and our
forwards, who were close at my heels, and who then, in a splendid and
irresistible rush, carried me and the ball and the half of the other
side along with them right behind the enemy's goal-line, where we fall
_en masse_ to the earth--I, with the ball under me, being at the bottom.

Even if I had been hurt--which I was not--there was no time to be wasted
on condolences or congratulations.  The time-keeper held his watch in
his hand, and our goal must be kicked at once, if it was to be kicked at
all.  So the fifteen paces out were measured, the "nick" for the ball
was carefully made, the enemy stood along their goal-line ready to
spring the moment the ball should touch the earth.  Wright, cool and
self-possessed, placed himself in readiness a yard or two behind the
ball, which one of our side held an inch off the ground.  An anxious
moment of expectation followed; then came a sharp "Now!" from our
captain.  The ball was placed cunningly in the nick, the Craven forwards
rushed out on it in a body, but long before they could reach it,
Wright's practised foot had sent it flying straight as an arrow over the
bar, and my first football match had ended in a glorious victory for the
Old School.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

The terms used here describe the Rugby game as it used to be played
prior to 1880.



CHAPTER TWO.

THE PARKHURST PAPER-CHASE.

"The meet is to be at one o'clock, sharp, in the Dean's Warren--don't
forget!"

So said Forwood, the "whipper-in" of the Parkhurst Hare and Hounds Club,
to me, one March morning in the year 18--.  I had no need to be reminded
of the appointment; for this was the day of the "great hunt" of the
year, always held by the running set at Parkhurst School to yield in
interest to no other fixture of the athletic calendar.

In fine weather, and over good country, a paper-chase is one of the
grandest sports ever indulged in--at least, so we thought when we were
boys--and the "great hunt" was, of course, the grandest run of the year,
and looked forward to, consequently, with the utmost eagerness by all
lovers of running in our school.

This year, too, I had a special interest in the event, for it was my
turn to run "hare"--in other words, to be, with another fellow, the
object of the united pursuit of some twenty or thirty of my
schoolfellows, who would glory in running me down not a whit less than I
should glory in escaping them.

For some weeks previously we had been taking short trial runs, to test
our pace and powers of endurance; and Birch (my fellow-"hare") and I had
more than once surveyed the course we proposed to take on the occasion
of the "great hunt," making ourselves, as far as possible, acquainted
with the bearings of several streams, ploughed fields, and high walls to
be avoided, and the whereabouts of certain gaps, woods, and hollows to
be desired.  We were glad afterwards that we had taken this precaution,
as the reader will see.

I can't say if the Parkhurst method of conducting our "hunts" was the
orthodox one; I know _we_ considered it was, as our rules were our own
making, or rather a legacy left to us by a former generation of runners
at the school.

We were to take, in all, a twelve miles' course, of nearly an oval
shape, six miles out and six miles home.  Any amount of dodging or
doubling was to be allowed to us hares, except crossing our own path.
We were to get five minutes' clear start, and, of course, were expected
to drop our paper "scent" wherever we went.

Luckily for me, Birch was an old hand at running hare, and up to all
sorts of dodges, so that I knew all it was needful for me to do was to
husband my "wind," and run evenly with him, leaving him to shape our
course and regulate our pace.

It was a lively scene at the Dean's Warren, when we reached it a few
minutes before the appointed time that afternoon.  The "pack"--that is,
the twenty or thirty fellows who were to run as "hounds"--were fast
assembling, and divesting themselves of everything but their light
flannels.  The whipper-in, conspicuous by the little bugle slung across
his shoulders, and the light flag in his hand, was there in all the
importance of his office; and, as usual, the doctor and a party of
visitors, ladies and gentlemen, had turned out to witness the start.

"Five minutes, hares!" shouts Forwood, as Birch and I came on the spot.

We use the interval in stripping off all unnecessary apparel, and
girding ourselves with our bags of "scent," or scraps of torn-up paper,
which we are to drop as we run.  Then we sit and wait the moment for
starting.  The turf is crisp under our feet; the sun is just warm enough
to keep us from shivering as we sit, and the wind just strong enough to
be fresh.  Altogether it is to be doubted if a real meet of real hounds
to hunt real hares--a cruel and not very manly sport, after all--could
be much more exciting than this is.

"Half a minute!" sings out the whipper-in, as we spring to our feet.

In another thirty seconds we are swinging along at a good pace down the
slope of the warren, in the direction of Colven meadows, and the hunt
has begun.

As long as we were in sight of the pack we kept up a good hard pace, but
on reaching cover we settled down at once to a somewhat more sober jog-
trot, in anticipation of the long chase before us.

We made good use of our five minutes' start, for by the time a distant
bugle note announced that the hounds were let loose on our track we had
covered a good piece of ground, and put several wide fields and ditches
and ugly hedges between us and our pursuers.

Now it was that Birch's experiences served us in good stead.  I never
knew a fellow more thoroughly cunning; he might have been a fox instead
of a hare.  Sometimes he made me run behind him and drop my scent on the
top of his, and sometimes keep a good distance off, and let the wind
scatter it as much as it could.  When we came to a gap, instead of
starting straight across the next field he would turn suddenly at right
angles, and keep close up under the hedge half-way round before striking
off into the open.  Among trees and bushes he zigzagged and doubled to
an alarming extent, so that it seemed as if we were losing ground every
moment.  So we should have been if the chase had been by sight instead
of by _scent_; but that would have been against all rules.

If the hounds were to see the hares twenty yards in front of them, and
the scent lay half a mile round, they would be bound, according to our
rules, to go the half-mile, however tempting the short cut might seem.

It was after a very wide circuit, ending up on the top of a moderate
rise, that we first caught sight of our pursuers.  As they were a full
six minutes behind us, we agreed to sit down under cover for a minute
and watch them.

At that moment they had evidently lost the scent, and were ferreting
about among some low trees and bushes in search of it.  We saw the flag
of the whipper-in marking the spot where it was last visible, and round
this, on all sides, the hounds were exploring busily in search of the
"new departure."  Then, presently, came a cry of "Forward!" and off they
all started in our direction; and as the scent after that seemed to lie
pretty clear we considered it high time for us to resume our flight.

So we made off again, and being refreshed by our brief halt, made over a
couple of ploughed fields, which Birch suggested "would make a few of
the hounds look foolish"; and so on till we reached the first water we
had encountered since the start.  This was a trout-stream, well known to
some of us who were fond of fishing--nowhere more than half a foot deep,
and in some places easily passable, dry shod, on stepping-stones.
Birch, however, avoided these, and boldly splashing into the stream over
his ankles, bade me follow.

"We'll soon dry up," he said, "and this will gain us a minute or two."

Instead of going straight across, the wily hare began to paddle up the
middle of the stream for twenty or thirty yards, and, of course, in so
doing our scent was soon drifted away down the current.  So we flattered
ourselves, when we at last did make the opposite bank, that our pursuers
would be puzzled for a minute or two to know what had become of us.

After a further quarter of a mile we thought we might venture to take
another brief halt on the strength of this last manoeuvre.  We were
unable to do so where we could command a view of the hounds, but as we
reckoned we had at least gained three minutes, we felt we could quite
afford to take it easy for that length of time.

Fancy, then, our horror when, after about a couple of minutes, we heard
a cry of "Forward!" close to us, and evidently on this side of the
stream.

Off we dashed like mad, in a regular panic, and never checked our pace
till we had put three ploughed fields and a couple of wide ditches to
our credit.  We did not discover till it was all over how it was our
cunning scheme to perplex the hounds had thus miscarried.  Then we were
told that some of the scent, instead of dropping into the water, as we
intended, had lodged on the top of some stones in mid-stream, and this
had at once betrayed our dodge to the practised eyes of the foremost
hounds.  It was a caution to be more careful another time.

We had to work hard to make up for the ground we had lost by this
mistake, but our next sight of the hounds showed that we were fairly
ahead again, and that the ploughed fields had (as Birch predicted) told
on a good portion of the pack, who now (at least, those of them who were
at all well up) scarcely numbered a dozen.

Half a mile farther brought us to Wincot village, down the main street
of which we sped, greatly to the admiration of the inhabitants, who
turned out in force to see the sport.

By this time we had fairly got our "second winds," and began to realise
the benefit of the steady training of the past fortnight.  At an
ordinary pace, with the second wind well laid on, we felt we ought to be
able to hold out for the run home, unless some very unexpected accident
should intervene.

Past the village, we rattled on till we came to the railway embankment,
across which we trespassed, not without some difficulty, as it was steep
and railed off on either side by high palisades.  Once over this, we
turned at right angles, and ran for half a mile close alongside the
line, and past Wincot station.  Here it was necessary to recross the
line (down a cutting this time), and as we were doing so we caught
sight, on our left, of the leading hounds scrambling to the top of the
embankment, which we had passed only a minute or two before.

Clear of the railway, there remained a good steady piece of work cut out
for us to reach home, across an awful country, full of hedges and
ditches, and as hilly as a pie-crust.

But Birch and I were well in the humour of the thing by this time, and
determined it should not be our fault if the "great hunt" of this year
ended in a victory for the hounds.  So we spurted for nearly a mile,
jumping most of the narrow ditches and low hedges that crossed our path,
and making as straight a course as the hilly ground allowed of.  But,
despite all our efforts, the occasional glimpses which we caught of our
pursuers showed us that we were unable to shake off four or five of the
leading hounds, who, with Forwood at their head, were coming on at a
great pace, and, if not gaining on us, at least not losing ground.

This would never do.  It would be all up if things went on so, we could
see; so the cunning Birch had once again to resort to his dodges to gain
time.

Suddenly altering our track, and leaving the fields, he struck a dusty
lane, which wound in and out in the direction of Parkhurst.  Now, as
this was a very dusty and a very chalky lane, and as the wind was
blowing the dust about very freely, it was easy to see why the artful
Birch made use of it on the present occasion.  Our white scraps of
paper, falling on the white road, and being fallen on by the white dust,
had a good chance of escaping detection, unless looked after very
carefully; and to make matters more secure, we dodged off into the
fields, and back again into the lane, pretty often, leaving our pursuers
a ditch to jump each time.

This manoeuvre answered fairly well, for the next time we saw the hounds
they were searching about by the side of a ditch for our track, a good
way to the rear.

We had now to face the hardest bit of work of the afternoon.  The last
two miles home were over a perfectly flat bit of country--so flat that
the hounds would have us in view nearly all the way, and, consequently,
to dodge or double would be simply useless.  Our only course was a
straight hard run for it, trusting to our legs and our wind to pull us
through.  So we settled down to the task with a will.  Scarcely had we
emerged into the open ground for a couple of minutes, when we saw a
figure dash out of the lane in full cry after us.

It was Forwood, the whipper-in, a terrible "scud" across country, and he
was only fifty yards or so ahead of three others, also celebrated for
their pace.  So we hares had our work cut out for us, and no mistake!

For a mile we ran as hard as we well could, turning neither to right nor
left, and halting neither at ditch nor dyke.  Parkhurst Towers rose
before us in the distance, and more than one boy was already strolling
out in our direction to witness the finish.

How we wished we were as fresh as they!

"Put it on, hares!" shouted the first who met us, "you'll do it yet."

"Hounds are gaining!" cried the next we passed--a young urchin sitting
on a bank and eating toffee.

And now there met us not single spectators only, but groups, who cheered
loudly, backing, some the hares and some the hounds, till we hardly knew
where we were.  Some even began to run along with us, at a respectful
distance, in order to be "in at the death."

The playground wall was now visible only half a mile away, on the other
side of the Gravelshire Canal, which had to be crossed by a bridge which
we were fast approaching.

I gave a rapid look back.  Forwood was now only a hundred yards behind
us, with lots of running still in him.  He would certainly run us down
in the next half-mile.

"Birch," I said, as I ran beside him, "are you good for a swim?"

"Rather!" he exclaimed; "if you are.  Quick!"

We swerved suddenly in our course, and, to the amazement of all
spectators, left the bridge on our left.  In another minute we were on
the margin of the canal, and the next moment the splash of a double
"header," and the shouts of the assembled onlookers, proclaimed that we
had made a plunge for it.  The canal was only about thirty feet wide,
and we were across it in a twinkling, our light flannel clothes scarcely
interfering with our swimming, and certainly not adding much to the
weight we carried after being soaked through.

Three hundred yards now!  Ah! that cheer behind means that Forwood has
followed our plunge.  What are they laughing at, though?  Can he have
foundered?  No!  Another shout!  That means he is safe over, and hard at
our heels.

For the last three hundred yards we run a regular steeplechase.  The
meadows are intersected with lines of hurdles, and these we take one
after another in our run, as hard as we can.  Only one more, and then we
are safe!

Suddenly I find myself on my face on the grass!  I have caught on the
last hurdle, and come to grief!

Birch in an instant hauls me to my feet, just as Forwood rises to the
leap.  Then for a hundred yards it is a race for very life.  What a
shouting there is! and what a rushing of boys and waving of caps pass
before our eyes!  On comes Forwood, the gallant hound, at our heels; we
can hear him behind us distinctly!

"Now you have them!" shouts one.

"One spurt more, hares!" cries another, "and you are safe!"

On we bound, and on comes the pursuer, not ten yards behind--not _ten_,
but more than _five_.  And that five he never makes up till Birch and I
are safe inside the school-gates, winners by a neck--and a neck only--of
that famous hunt.

The pack came straggling in for the next hour, amid the cheers and
chaffing of the boys.  Three of them, who had kept neck and neck all the
way, were only two minutes behind Forwood; but they had shirked the
swim, and taken the higher and drier course--as, indeed, most of the
other hounds did--by way of the bridge.  Ten minutes after them one
other fellow turned up, and a quarter of an hour later three more; and
so on until the whole pack had run, or walked, or limped, or ridden
home--all except one, little Jim Barlow, the tiniest and youngest and
pluckiest little hound that ever crossed country.  We were all anxious
to know what had become of this small chap of thirteen, who, some one
said, ought never to have been allowed to start on such a big run, with
his little legs.  "Wait a bit," said Forwood; "Jim will turn up before
long, safe and sound, you'll see."

It was nearly dusk, and a good two hours after the finish.  We were
sitting in the big hall, talking and laughing over the events of the
afternoon, when there came a sound of feet on the gravel walk,
accompanied by a vehement puffing, outside the window.

"There he is!" exclaimed Forwood, "and, I declare, running still!"

And so it was.  In a minute the door swung open, and in trotted little
Jim, dripping wet, coated with mud, and panting like a steam-engine, but
otherwise as self-composed as usual.

"How long have you fellows been in?" he demanded of us, as he sat down
and began to lug off his wet boots.

"Two hours," replied Birch.

The little hero looked a trifle mortified to find he was so far behind,
and we were quite sorry for him.

"Never mind," he said, "I ran on the scent every inch of the way, and
only pulled up once, at Wincot, for five minutes."

"You did!" exclaimed one or two voices, as we all stared admiringly at
this determined young hound.

"Yes; and a nice dance you gave a chap my size over the railway and
across those ditches!  But I didn't miss a single one of them, all the
same."

"But what did you do at the canal?" asked Forwood.

"Why, swam it, of course--obliged to do it, wasn't I, if the hares went
that way?  I say, is there any grub going?"

Plucky little Jim Barlow!  After all, he was the hero of that "big
hunt," though he did come in two hours late.

This was the last big "hare and hounds" I ever ran in.  I have many a
time since ridden with a real hunt over the same country, but never have
I experienced the same thrill of excitement or known the same exultation
at success as when I ran home with Birch, two seconds ahead of the
hounds, in the famous Parkhurst Paper-chase of 18 hundred and something.



CHAPTER THREE.

THE PARKHURST BOAT-RACE.

"Adams is wanted down at the boat-house!"  Such was the sound which
greeted my ears one Saturday afternoon as I lolled about in the
playground at Parkhurst, doing nothing.  I jumped up as if I had been
shot, and asked the small boy who brought the message who wanted me.

"Blades does; you've got to cox the boat this afternoon instead of
Wilson.  Look sharp!" he said, "as they're waiting to start."

Off I went, without another word, filled with mingled feelings of
wonder, pride, and trepidation.  I knew Wilson, the former coxswain of
the school boat, had been taken ill and left Parkhurst, but this was the
first I had ever heard of my being selected to take his place.  True, I
had steered the boat occasionally when no one else could be got, and on
such occasions had managed to keep a moderately good course up the Two
Mile Reach, but I had never dreamed of such a pitch of good fortune as
being called to occupy that seat as a fixture.

But now it wanted only a week of the great race with the Old Boys, and
here was I summoned to take charge of the rudder at the eleventh hour,
which of course meant I would have to steer the boat on the occasion of
the race!  No wonder, then, I was half daft with excitement as I hurried
down to the boathouse in obedience to the summons of Blades, the stroke
of the Parkhurst Four.

I should explain that at Parkhurst we were peculiarly favoured in the
matter of boating.  The River Colven flowed through the town only half a
mile from the school boundaries, and being at that place but a short
distance from the sea, it was some fifty yards broad, a clear, deep
stream, just the sort of water one would choose for rowing.  There was
no lock for six miles or so up, and the few craft which came in from the
sea rarely proceeded beyond Parkhurst; so that we had a long,
uninterrupted stretch of water for our boats, which, as soon as ever the
spring set in, and the weather became too hot for football and hare and
hounds, appeared in force every half-holiday on its surface.

Some of the fellows on such occasions used to amuse themselves by
starting off for a long, leisurely grind up-stream; or else with set
sail to tack down the lower reaches towards the sea; but most of us who
laid claim in any degree to the name of enthusiastic oarsmen, confined
our operations mainly to the Two Mile Reach, on which most of the club
races were rowed, chief of which was the Old Boys' Race, already
referred to.

This race had been instituted some years before my time at the school,
by an old Parkhurstian, who presented a cup, to be rowed for annually,
between the best four-oared crew of the present school, and any crew of
old pupils who had been at Parkhurst within two years.

This race was the all-absorbing topic in our boat-club for several weeks
before the event.  How carefully the crew were selected, how strictly
they trained, how patiently Mr Blunt, one of the masters, and an old
Cambridge oar, "coached" or tutored them; how regularly the boat went
over the course morning after morning, before breakfast; how eagerly the
fellows criticised or commended the rowers; how impatiently we all
looked forward to the coming contest!

This year our prospects were doubtful.  The Old Boys had got together a
strong crew, who were reported by some who had been over to see them to
be very fast, and in splendid form; while we, at the last moment, had
had the disadvantage to lose our coxswain and have to fill his place
with a less experienced hand.  Still, the school "four" was a good one,
carefully drilled, with plenty of power; one which Mr Blunt pronounced
ought to hold its own with any other average crew.  So, on the whole,
there was no saying how the chances stood.

I found I had all my work before me to get accustomed to my new duties
before the day of the race.  Daily I was out with the four, and several
times besides I was taken over the course in a punt, and carefully shown
all the shallows, and bends, and eddies of the stream, and made familiar
with the ins and outs of either bank.

Luckily, I was a light weight to begin with, so that I did not lose much
by my limited period of training, being indeed not so heavy as the
former coxswain of the boat, whom I had succeeded.

Well, the eventful day came at last.  The Old Boys arrived the day
before, and from the two trial rows which they took over the course, we
could see they were a first-rate crew and formidable opponents.  Still
our "coach," who had watched them minutely, told us we had the better
stroke of the two, and if we could only hold out, ought to win after
all.  This was comforting information, for the showy style of our
opponents had struck terror into not a few of those whose sympathies
were on the side of the present boys.

The school turned out in force to witness the event.  The towing-path
was lined with spectators, many of them from a distance, attracted by
the prospect of an exciting race.  A goodly muster of old fellows
revisited the haunts of their school days, and congregated about the
winning-post, while others, of a more athletic turn, prepared to run
along with the race from beginning to end.

Meanwhile, in the boat-house, we had stripped for action and launched
our boat.  As we were ready to put off, and make for the starting-point,
Mr Blunt came up and said to Blades, our "stroke",--

"Now remember, row a steady stroke all through.  Don't be flurried if
they get the best of the start.  If you can stick to them the first half
of the way, you ought to be able to row them down in the last; and mind,
Adams," he said, addressing me, "don't let them force you out of your
straight course, and don't waste time in trying to bother them.  Keep as
straight as an arrow, and you can't go wrong."

As our fellows put off for the starting-place, their long clean stroke
elicited no little admiration from the onlookers, who saw much in it
that augured well for the success of our boat.  Thanks to Mr Blunt, our
crew had learned to master that steady, strong sweep of the oars which
is universally admitted to be the perfection of rowing style and the
most serviceable of all strokes.  Rowed well through from first to last,
gripping the water the instant the oar is back and the body and arms
forward, and dragged clean through without jerk or plunge, the swing of
the bodies regular as clockwork, the feather clear and rapid--this
essentially is the kind of rowing which not only puts most pace into the
boat, but is capable of being sustained far longer than any other.

Not long after us our opponents embarked, and we had an opportunity of
criticising their style as they paddled up to where we lay waiting for
them.  It certainly looked pretty and taking.  The stroke was quicker
than ours, and equally regular, but it seemed to end in a spasmodic jerk
as the oars left the water, which, though it succeeded in making the
boat travel quickly, appeared to try the powers of the rowers rather
more than our style did.  Still, there was no mistaking that they were a
fast and a powerful crew, and I remember to this day the passing
thought, "I wish we were at the end of it!" that flashed through my mind
as I gathered my rudder lines together, ready for the start.

Mr Blunt is to act as starter, and is coming towards us in a boat, with
his watch in his hand.  Our rivals' boat is lying close beside ours, and
I can see their stroke is leaning forward and saying something to the
coxswain.  I wonder it it's about me?  Perhaps he is telling him to push
me out of my course, or perhaps they are saying how nervous I am
looking!  Well, I _am_ nervous.  I begin to think I shall forget which
way I have to go.  Perhaps I shall pull the right-hand line instead of
the left; or possibly I shall omit to pull either line at all!  What
lasting disgrace will then be mine!  Then suddenly I remember what Mr
Blunt said, that it's all up with a race if the "cox" loses his head,
and by a violent effort I banish my qualms, and resolve, come what may,
_nothing_ shall unsteady me.  Still, my hands tremble as I grasp the
lines.

"Adams," says Blades, "make my stretcher fast, will you?"

The voice of a human being close to me, somehow, has the effect of
helping me to recover my wits completely; and as I kneel and make fast
the stretcher, and then once again take my seat in the stern of the
boat, I feel quite myself again, and wonder at myself for being such an
ass.

"Back water half a stroke!" calls out Mr Blunt to us from his skiff.

We obey him, and then find the other boat is a little in front of us.
We therefore move a quarter of a stroke forward.  Still the boats are
not quite level.  The other boat must come back a foot or two.  Not
quite enough; our boat must advance a few inches.  There, now they are
level.

"Are you ready?"  No, our boat has drifted forward again, and must be
moved back.  All this takes time, but presently we are once again level,
and the question is repeated--

"Are you ready?"

The only answer this time is the leaning forward of both crews, with
arms stretched and oars well back, in readiness for the signal.

What ages it seems!  And there I actually the wind has blown our rivals'
bows across the stream, and before we start another two minutes must be
spent in manoeuvring her back into position.  Once again--

"Are you ready?"

No answer, save the quick reach forward and silent suspense.

"Then go!" and I feel the boat half lifted in the water under me.  The
first stroke is rather a scramble, and so is the second, but by the
third the boat has begun to get its "way" on, and in a stroke or two
more our men have settled down to their customary swing.

But what of our opponents?  At the first stroke their boat had dashed
away an inch or two in advance of ours, at the third that distance had
become a foot, and presently they were far enough ahead to enable me to
catch sight of their coxswain's back.  As we both settled down to work,
they were rowing at a considerably quicker pace than we, wrenching the
boat forward at each stroke, and inch by inch improving their advantage.

All this I noticed before the shout with which the spectators hailed the
start had died away.  I had a dim vision of a body of runners starting
along with us on the banks, and of eager cries to one crew or the other
from sympathising onlookers; but I had enough to do to keep my eye fixed
ahead, without gaping at the crowd.

Remembering Mr Blunt's advice, I selected a landmark in front, and
steered our course direct for it; a plan of which I had cause to be glad
pretty early in the race.  For the Old Boys' boat, drawing steadily
ahead to about half a boat's length, began very gradually to insinuate
its nose a little over in our direction, so that, had I not had a fixed
point on which to steer, I should have been strongly tempted to give way
unwittingly before it, and so abandon an inch or two of the water that
fairly belonged to our boat.  As it was, however, I was able both to
detect and defeat this manoeuvre, for, keeping on a perfectly straight
course, the others were obliged to draw in their horns, and return to a
straight course too, having lost some little ground in the process.
Still, they seemed to be forging ahead, and the shouts from the banks
announced that thus far, at any rate the Parkhurst boat was getting the
worst of it.

I stole a look at Blades.  His face was composed and unconcerned, and it
was easy to see he knew what he was about.  He kept up his long steady
swing, being well backed up by the three men behind him, and lifted the
boat well at the beginning of the stroke, never letting it down till the
end.  I could see that he knew exactly how far the others were ahead,
and at what rate they were rowing; and yet he neither quickened nor
altered his stroke, but plodded on with such a look of easy confidence
that I at once felt quite satisfied in my own mind as to the result.  It
was not long before our opponents gave indication of abating somewhat
the quick stroke they had hitherto maintained, and by virtue of which
they had already got nearly a boat's length ahead.  At the same moment
Blades slightly quickened his stroke, and instantly our boat began to
crawl up alongside that of our rivals, amid the frantic cheers of the
onlookers.  Slowly and surely we forged ahead, till our stroke's oar was
level with their coxswain.  Then a spurt from the Old Boys kept the two
boats abreast for a few seconds, but it died away after a little, and
once more their boat travelled slowly back, as we drew level, and began
in our turn to take the lead.  Now was our time to--

What is that ahead on the water, drifting right across the bows of our
boat?  A shout from the banks apprises me that others besides myself
have taken the sudden alarm.  An empty boat, insecurely moored to the
bank, has got adrift, and is calmly floating up with the tide in mid-
stream along our very course!  What is to be done?  The other boat,
being on the opposite side, can easily clear the obstacle, but not so
ours.  Either we must put our bows across our enemy's water, and so run
the risk of a "foul," and consequent defeat, or else we must lose ground
by slackening our pace and going out of our course to avoid the unlucky
boat.  There are not ten seconds in which to decide; but that suffices
me to choose the latter alternative, trusting to the rowing powers of
our crew to make up the disadvantage.

"Look to your oars, stroke side!"  I cry, and at the same time pull my
rudder line quickly.

It was as I expected.  The boat lost ground instantly, and I could see,
out of the corner of my eye, the Old Boys' boat shoot forward with a
quickened stroke, and hear the triumphant shouts of their partisans.

A second or two sufficed to get past the obstructing boat, our oars on
the stroke side just scraping it as we did so; but as we headed again
into our proper course, we saw our opponents two clear boats' lengths in
front, their men pulling with all the energy of triumph and confidence.

It was a sight to make one despair.  How were we ever to make up that
tremendous gap?

"How much?"  Blades inquires, as he swings forward towards me.

"Two!"  I reply.

He sets his face determinedly, and quickens his stroke.  The men behind
him do not at first get into the altered swing, and for a moment or two
the rowing is scrambling, and our boat rolls unsteadily, a spectacle
hailed with increased joy by the partisans of the Old Boys' boat.

"Steady now!" cries Blades, over his shoulder, and next moment the boat
rights itself; the four oars dip and feather simultaneously.  I, sitting
in the stern, can feel the swing as of one man, and the boat dashes
forward like a machine.  Our fellows on the banks mark the change and
cheer tremendously.

"Well spurted, Parkhurst!"  "Put it on now!"  "You're gaining!"  "Rowed
indeed!"  Such were the cries which, as I heard them, set my blood
tingling with excitement.

It was a long time before any perceptible gain was noticeable from where
I sat.  The Old Boys had taken advantage of their lead to come across
into our water, and all I could see of them was the blades of their oars
on in front, which rose and fell swiftly and with a regular beat.

Still the shout from the bank was, "You're gaining!" and presently I saw
their boat edging off again into their own water, by which I concluded
we had pulled up sufficiently to make this necessary to avoid a foul.

Our men pulled splendidly.  Cool, determined, and plucky, each rowed his
best, his eyes fixed on the back of the man before him, keeping perfect
time, and pulling each stroke through with terrible energy.  I could see
by their pale looks that they shared the common excitement, but there
was no sign of flurry or distress, nothing but a quiet determination,
which augured better for the result of their efforts than all the shouts
of the onlookers.

Where are we now?  Those willows on my left are, I know, just half a
mile from the winning-post.  Shall we, in that distance, be able to pull
up the length which now divides us and our rivals?  There is a chance
yet!  The leading boat is not going as fast as it was a minute ago.  I
can tell that by the eddies from their oars which sweep past.

"How much?" inquired Blades again, as he swung forward.

"One!"  I replied.

I could see by the gleam in his eyes that he had hope still of making
that one length nothing before the winning-post was reached.

That shout from the bank means something, surely!

"Well rowed indeed, Parkhurst!"

"They're overlapped!"

Yes, those who could see it were watching the little pink flag at the
prow of our boat creeping, inch by inch, up the stern of our rivals'.
The eddies from their oars came past nearer now, and the "thud" of their
outriggers sounded closer.

Yes, we are gaining without doubt; but shall we overtake them in time to
avoid defeat?  I can see a mass of people ahead on the banks, and know
that they are gathered opposite the winning-post.  It can't be a quarter
of a mile off now!

Again that shout from the bank.  Ah, yes, our bow oar is level with
their stroke.  "Now you have it!" shout our fellows.

Blades turns his head for half a second, and cries to his men as he
quickens up to his final spurt.

What a shout then rent the air!  Our boat no longer crawled up beside
the Old Boys, but began to fly.  On, on!  Their coxswain seems to be
gliding backwards towards me.  In vain they attempt to answer our spurt;
they have not the rowing left in them to do it.  Nothing can stop us!
In another moment we are abreast, and almost instantly there come such
cheers after cheers from the bank that even the dash of the oars was
drowned in it.

"Parkhurst's ahead!"

"Ah, well rowed!"

"Now, Old Boys!"

"It's a win!"

On, on!  What sensation so glorious, so madly exciting, as that of one
of the crew of a winning boat within twenty yards of the goal?  I am
tempted to shout, to wave my hat, to do something ridiculous, but I set
my teeth and sit still, holding my breath.  Four strokes more will do
it.  One!  I am level with the stroke of the Old Boys' boat.  Two!  Our
fellows pull as if they had another half-mile to go still.  Three!  The
judge at the winning-post is lifting his hand and cocking his pistol.
Four!  Crack goes the signal! and as our men cease rowing, and the boat
shoots forward with the impetus of that last terrific stroke, amid the
cheers and shouts of the assembled crowd, I breathe again, knowing that
the Parkhurst boat has won, by three yards, the grandest race in which
it was ever my lot to take part.



CHAPTER FOUR.

PARKHURST VERSUS WESTFIELD.

"Now, Parkhurst, turn out sharp!  They are going in first."  So shouted
Steel, the captain of our eleven, putting his head in at the door of the
tent in which we were arraying ourselves in flannels and spiked shoes,
and otherwise arming for the great match against Westfield School, which
was now about to commence.

We always looked upon these Westfield fellows as our most dangerous
rivals on the cricket field (much in the light in which we esteemed
Craven where football was concerned), and the match in which our
respective pretensions were yearly settled was, I need hardly say,
regarded as _the_ match of the season, and made the object of untiring
practice and feverish excitement.

Year after year, for twelve years, our rival elevens had met, always on
the last Saturday of June, one year at Parkhurst and the next at
Westfield, and so far the result had been that each school had won six
matches.  Fancy then the state of our feelings this year, as we started
off in the early morning on our omnibus from Parkhurst, to engage in the
decisive contest which (unless it ended in a draw) must turn the balance
either in favour of our school, or to the glorification of our rivals.
We could not bear to think of the possibility of a defeat; it would be
too tragical, too shameful.  So as we drove over to Westfield that
morning, we talked of nothing but victory, and felt very like those
determined old Spartans who, when they went to the wars, made a vow they
would return either with their shields or on them.

Of course there was a regular swarm of people to see the match.  Old
Parkhurst "bats," who had played in the first match, thirteen years ago,
were there, with big beards, and very majestic to look at; Old Boys, now
settled in life, were there with their wives and children; carriages
full of our own and Westfield's fathers and mothers; and shoals of young
brothers and sisters, crammed the space beyond the flags; the "doctors,"
as usual, had driven over; and almost gave offence to some of our most
enthusiastic partisans by "chumming up" publicly with the head master of
our rivals!  And then, besides, there was a host of outsiders, drawn
together by simple curiosity or love of cricket; so that altogether, as
we emerged from our tent in our snow-white flannels and pink belts, we
felt that the eyes of the world were upon us, and were more convinced
than ever that anything short of victory would be the most terrible of
all calamities which could fall on our youthful heads.

Our great hope was in Steel, our captain, one of the best cricketers
Parkhurst had ever produced; and for coolness and self-confidence
without his equal anywhere.  We all adored him, for he never snubbed
youngsters, or made light of their doings.  If, during practice, a
fellow bowled, batted, or fielded well, Steel took care to encourage
him; but if any one played carelessly, or bungled, Steel scowled, and
that unlucky man's name disappeared for a season from the list of
candidates for a place in the first eleven.

See him now stroll up to the wickets, with his wicket-keeping pads on,
talking on the way to one of the two men who are to officiate first with
their bats on behalf of Westfield.

We youngsters can't understand such coolness, and keep our eyes on him,
as if every moment we expected to see him fell his rival to the earth.
It's a great matter to be used to a thing.  I, who was now making my
first appearance in the first eleven, felt as if the world began,
continued, and ended within the area of this Westfield meadow; but here
was some one who, to all appearances, made no more of the great match
than he would of his dinner.

But away now with all thoughts but cricket!  The ball we have been
tossing about idly is taken into custody by the umpire; Steel is behind
the wickets, looking round to see if we fielders are all in our places,
and motioning one or two of us to stand deeper or closer in, as he deems
advisable.  The Westfield batsman who is to receive the first over is
getting "middle"; our bowler is tucking up his sleeves, and gripping the
brand-new ball in his hand; the ground-keeper is chasing a few small
boys back behind the ropes; and the scorers in the big tent are dipping
their pens in the ink.

Altogether, it is a critical moment in my life--a moment that seems as
long as a whole day.

"Play!" cries the umpire; and our bowler delivers his first ball--not a
very alarming one, and evidently meant more as a test of the ball and
the pitch than as a serious attack on the enemy's wicket.  My readers of
course do not expect me to give a full, true, and particular account of
every ball bowled on that eventful day.  That would be as tedious for
them as for me.  But I shall do my best to recall the chief features of
the game as they presented themselves to me from my post, first at
cover-point, and (while our side was batting) from the tent and the
wickets.

The first few overs were not eventful.  They rarely are.  Our men had to
get used to the ground and the ball; and the batsmen chose to be
exceedingly careful how they hit out at first.  In the third over a
single run was made, and of course the Westfield fellows cheered as if
the match were already won.  Then gradually came one or two more
singles, a two, another one, a three, and then, just as the two batsmen
were getting into good humour and fancying they might lay about them a
little more freely, down went the first wicket amid the cheers of our
fellows, and we saw the figures 12 posted up on the telegraph, as
indicating the score so far standing to the credit of Westfield.

We had not long to wait for the next man in, and still less long to see
him out, poor fellow! for the very first ball sent his bails flying over
Steel's head, and he had to trudge back to the tent and take off his
pads almost before he had got used to the feel of them on his legs.

In the over following the arrival of his successor an easy catch by
point disposed of another wicket.

"This is something like!"  I exclaimed to myself.  "Three men out for
fourteen runs.  If it goes on like this, we shall have it all our own
way"; and in my satisfaction I ventured to communicate my ideas to the
man fielding at point.

"Adams, will you attend to the game?"  It was Steel who spoke, and at
the sound of his voice I started like one shot, and discovered that the
next man was in and ready to begin.  I stepped back to my place in an
instant, and would sooner have had one of Hurley's swiftest balls catch
me on the bare shin than be thus publicly called to order before the
whole field.  I can safely say that never in my life since that moment
have I caught myself talking during "play" in a cricket match.

I felt in disgrace, and got nervous; I dared not look at Steel, for fear
of meeting his eye.  I wished myself a mile away, and repented of my
satisfaction of being in the first eleven.  Most devoutly I hoped no
ball would chance near me, as I should assuredly miss it.  As the
thought passed my mind the man who was batting cut a ball hard and low
in my direction.  It was so hard and so low that under any circumstances
it would have been a most difficult ball to field, still more to catch.
It flew towards me a few inches from the ground, and I was in despair.
I knew every eye in the field was on me--Steel's in particular.  Here
would be some hundreds of witnesses to my utter imbecility!  Would that
the ground would swallow me!  I sprang forward and tripped as I sprang.
In my fall the ball dashed into my hand, and fell from it to the earth.
I had missed the catch, and my disgrace was complete.  Fancy then my
astonishment when I heard Steel's awful voice cry, "Well tried, sir!"
and when a distant sound of clapping reached me from the tents!  I could
not understand it at first; but I afterwards found out that by my lucky
trip I had more nearly succeeded in catching the ball than a more
experienced player would have done had he kept his balance, and so I got
credit for a good piece of play which I did not in the least deserve.
However, it served to recover me from my nervousness and bad spirits,
and incite me to a desire to accomplish something for which I could
honestly take credit.

Never was such a determination more called for than now.  Driver, the
captain of the Westfield eleven, was at the wickets, a most tremendous
hitter.  All bowling came alike to him.  The swifter the ball the
happier he was; sending one over the bowler's head, another nearly into
the scorers' tent, another among the spectators behind the ropes.  The
score, hitherto so slow, began to fly up.  Forty, fifty, sixty, seventy
we saw posted up in rapid succession, and wondered how it all would end.
He seemed to have as many lives as a cat.  Some easy catches were
missed, and some "runs out" were only just avoided.  Still he scored, no
matter who his partner was (and one or two came and went while he was
in); he hit away merrily, and the cheers of Westfield grew almost
monotonous from their frequency.

We on the "off" side, however, had not much to do, for nearly all
Driver's hits were to the "on," and, curiously enough, nearly all found
their way between two of our men, the "mid-wicket on" and the "long on,"
just out of the reach of either.  I could not help wondering why neither
of these fellows altered his place, so as to guard the weak point.

It is curious how sometimes in cricket the same thing occurs to two
people at the same time.  While I was inwardly speculating on the result
of this change of position, Steel appeared to become aware of the same
necessity, for I saw him behind the batsman's back silently motioning
"mid-wicket on" to stand farther back, and "mid on" to come round to a
"square" position.  This manoeuvre, however, did not escape the wily
Driver, who sent his next ball to leg, and the next to the identical
spot "mid-wicket on" had just quitted.  Still, Steel motioned to them to
remain in their new posts.  He knew well enough that if a man has a
habit of hitting in any one direction, however studiously he tries to
avoid the place.  Nature will sooner or later assert herself, and the
ball will fly where it has been wont to fly.  So it was in this case.
He could _not_ resist an impulse to lift one specially tempting ball in
the direction of his old haunt, and sure enough in so doing he sent it
clean into "long on's" hands, and with his own innings ended, to our
great relief, the innings of his side, for a total score of 174, of
which he had contributed quite the odd 74.

It was a good round score to overtake, and things did not promise
cheerfully for us at the commencement of our innings.  The Westfield men
were happy in possessing two swift bowlers, who made havoc of the first
two or three on our side who presented themselves.  I was one of these.

When I started for the wickets, armed with pads and gloves and bat, I
did not feel happy; still, I was in hopes I might at least succeed in
"breaking my duck's egg," which was more than could be said for either
of my predecessors.

I felt rather important as I requested the umpire to give me "middle,"
and hammered the mark a little with my bat.  Still, my feet fidgeted;
there was a sort of "cobwebby" feeling on my face, and a tickling
sensation in the small of my back, as I stood ready for my first ball,
which convinced me I was by no means at home in my new position.

"Play!" cries the umpire.

The bowler starts to run, with arm extended.  He makes a sort of curve
round the wicket, and balances himself on one foot as he discharges his
ball.  It comes like lightning, right on to my bat, twisting it in my
grasp, and then is snatched up in an instant by "point," who tosses it
to the wicket-keeper, who returns it to the bowler.  All this is very
alarming.  Here are eleven men banded together with the one object of
putting me out, and they are all so quiet and determined about it that I
feel like a guilty thing as I stand there to defend my wicket.

The bowler starts again for his sinuous run, and again the ball whizzes
from his hand.  I lift my bat in an attempt to strike it; it slips under
it; there is a little "click" behind my back, and then the ball flies
aloft, and I discover that my services at the wicket are no longer
required.

So ended my first innings.  Happily for our side, some of the men who
went in afterwards made a better show than we three unfortunates who had
opened the ball had done.  Steel made forty, and two others about twenty
each, which, added to the odds and ends contributed by the rest of our
side, brought the Parkhurst score up to 102--72 runs behind our
competitors.

There was great jubilation among the Westfield partisans, as their
heroes entered on their second innings under such promising auspices,
especially when the redoubtable Driver went in first with the bat which
had wrought such wonders in the former innings.  There seemed every
probability, too, of his repeating his late performance with even
greater vigour, for the first ball which reached him he sent flying far
and high right over the tents for six, a magnificent hit, which fairly
deserved the praise it received, not from the Westfield fellows only,
but from ours, who for a moment could forget their rivalry to admire a
great exploit.  The next three balls were delivered to his partner at
the wickets, who blocked carefully, evidently bent on acting on the
defensive while his companion made the running.  From the fifth ball of
that over a bye was scored, which brought Driver once again to the end
facing the bowler.  The next ball came slightly to the "off," and he
tried to cut it.  Either he miscalculated, or was careless about the
direction he gave it, for he lodged it clean into my hands, a safe and
easy catch, but a catch of enormous importance to our side, as it
disposed once and for all of our most dreaded opponent.

Bereft of their champion, the Westfield fellows only succeeded in
putting together the moderate score of fifty in their second innings, of
which twenty-four were contributed by one man.  So our spirits revived
somewhat, as we discovered we had only 123 to make to win.  That was
indeed plenty against such bowling, but it was a good deal less than we
had dreaded.

Well, the decisive innings began, as soon as we had fortified ourselves
with lunch, provided for us by our hospitable rivals.  The afternoon was
getting on, but still the crowd of spectators kept together patiently,
determined to see the end of the match.

"Shall we do it?"  I heard some one ask of Steel.

"Do what?" was the evasive reply.

"Win," said the other.

"How do I know?" was our captain's curt answer.

If there was one thing that annoyed Steel above others, it was to be
asked foolish questions.

He sent in two steady men first, with orders not to be in a hurry to
score, but to "break the back" of the bowling.  And this advice they
faithfully acted upon.  For over after over there was nothing but
blocking.  In vain the bowlers strained every nerve to get round or
under those stubborn bats.  They could not do it!  Runs came few and far
between--the field had nothing to do--and altogether the game became
very monotonous.  But those fellows did better service to our side than
many who scored more and played in more brilliant style.  We could see
their prolonged stand was not without its effect on the Westfield
bowlers.  Their bowling became less and less steady, and their style
seemed to lose its precision, as ball after ball fell hopelessly off
those obstinate bats.  This was evidently just what Steel wanted, and we
could tell by his frequent "Played, sir!" how thoroughly he approved of
the steady discipline of his men.  After a time the very monotony of the
game seemed to excite the spectators, who answered each neat "block"
with a cheer, which showed they, too, could appreciate the tactics of
our captain.

It was getting desperate for Westfield, and humiliating too, when one of
their bowlers happened to change his style.  Instead of the slashing
round-arm balls which he had hitherto sent in, he suddenly and without
warning put in an underhand lob--an easy, slow, tempting ball,
apparently bound to rise exactly on the player's bat.

Our man fell into the snare.  I could hear Steel, who was near me,
groan, as we watched him lift the bat which had till now remained so
well under control, and stepping forward prepare for a terrific "slog."
Alas! the deceitful ball never rose at all, but pitching quietly a foot
before the crease, shot forward along the ground, and found its way at
last to the wicket, amid the tremendous shouts of all the crowd.

A parting being thus made between the two steady partners, the survivor,
as is so often the case, did not long remain behind his companion, and
when Steel went in, three wickets had already fallen with only fifteen
runs.

Will our captain save us from defeat?  See him stand coolly at the
wicket--how sure of himself he seems!--how indifferent to that imposing
combination of bowlers and fielders which surround him!  He takes his
time to get comfortably settled at his wicket, and kneels down to
tighten a shoestring, as if nobody was waiting for him.  Then pulling
down the peak of his cap to shade his eyes from the sun, he leisurely
turns his face to the bowler, and announces himself ready for the worst
that desperate character can do to him.

We watched breathlessly the result of his first over, and with an
excitement strangely in contrast with the indifferent and apparently
careless demeanour of the batsman himself.  It was soon apparent,
however, that we might dismiss all anxiety from our minds as to his
safety, for he set briskly to work, punishing every ball that came to
him, yet never giving a single chance.  I have rarely seen such good
"all-round play."  Unlike the Westfield captain, who was strong only on
the leg side of the wicket, he was thoroughly at home from whatever side
the attack was delivered.  Some balls he hit to "leg," and some he cut
with terrific force past "cover-point."  No ball came amiss to him; he
was up to "twisters," and "lobs," and "thunderbolts," and walked into
them all with faultless dexterity.

Up went our score.  Twenty grew to forty, and forty to fifty.  It was
all a matter of time now.  If the five remaining men still to go in
could together make a stand long enough to enable him to overtake the
enemy's score, he would assuredly do it, unless some unforeseen accident
prevented it.  Of these five I was next in order; nor was it long before
my turn arrived, and I found myself sallying forth to join my captain at
the wickets.  Remembering the poor figure I had cut in the first
innings, I was not very sanguine of distinguishing myself on this
occasion.  Still, there was something in being opposite Steel which gave
me confidence, and relieved me of the nervous sensations which marked my
late _debut_.

The first ball or two after my arrival fell to the lot of Steel, who
sent them flying promptly, and gave me some running to do in
consequence.  This helped still more to make me comfortable, so that
when at last my turn came to be bowled at, I experienced none of the
desolate feeling which had rendered my former brief innings so unhappy.

I manage to block the first ball, and the second also.  Then comes a
third, under which I contrive to get my bat and send it flying.

"Come!" shouts Steel, and I run.

"Another!" he cries; and I run again, and am safe back before the ball
returns to the wicket-keeper's hands.

Positively I had scored two!  I felt as proud as if I had been elected
an M.P.  The next ball went for two more, and I could hear a cheer from
the tent, which made me feel very valiant.  I glanced to the signal-
board; our score was ninety-six, only twenty-seven to win!  Why should
not I be able to hold out until Steel made up the figure, and so defeat
Westfield by four wickets?  At any rate I would try; and I sent my next
ball for a single.

Then it was Steel's turn to bat.  Of course he would send it flying.

Horrors!  He has missed it!  A deafening shout proclaims that his
glorious innings is at an end, and I feel like an orphan as I watch him,
with his bat under his arm, quitting the wicket at which he had put
together sixty-six runs in as fine a style as any player ever did.  It
was good to hear the applause which welcomed him back to the tent.

But what was to become of us?  Here were twenty-six runs to get, and the
four weakest batsmen of our side to play.  However, one can but do his
best.

So I played as carefully as I could, becoming gradually accustomed to
the bowling, and knocking an occasional one or two on to the score.  My
new companion, however, kept me company but a short time, and his
successor shorter still.  This fellow coming in now is our last man.
Will he and I ever be able to stick together till these fifteen runs
which are now required can be made up?

"Steady, Tom," I whisper, as he passes me on the way to his wicket.  He
winks his answer.

It is a responsible thing for us two youngsters, with the whole fate of
the school depending on us.  But we keep cool, and play our very best.
One by one the score runs up.  Ten to win--now eight, seven.  It is
getting exciting.  The crowd hangs eagerly on the result of each ball.
Another two from my companion.  The Westfield fellows look nervously at
the signal-board, as if by watching it they could make our figure grow
less.  But, no!  Another two, from my bat this time, and then a single.
Only two to win!  The next ball gets past my comrade's bat, and skims
within a hair's-breadth of his bails.

"Steady, now!" cries Steel, cheerily.  "Mind what you're at!"

Steady it is.  The next two balls are blocked dead.

Then my companion makes a single.  Hurrah!  We are equal now.  At any
rate defeat is averted!  Now for victory!  It is my turn to bat; but
this ball is not the sort of one to play tricks with; so with an effort
I keep my bat square, and stop it without hitting.

"Played, sir!" cries some one, approvingly, and I feel my self-denial
rewarded.

But the next ball is not so dangerous.  I can see it is a careless one,
which I may safely punish.  Punish it I will; so I step forward, and
catching it on the bound, bang it I know not and care not where.

What shouting! what cheering as we run, one, two, three, four, five
times across the wickets!  The match is ours, with a wicket to spare;
and as we ride back that evening to Parkhurst, and talk and laugh and
exult over that day's victory, we are the happiest eleven fellows,
without exception, that ever rode on the top of an omnibus.



CHAPTER FIVE.

A BOATING ADVENTURE AT PARKHURST.

Once, and once only, did I play truant from Parkhurst, and that
transgression was attended with consequences so tragical that to this
day its memory is as vivid and impressive as if the event I am about to
record had happened only last week, instead of a quarter of a century
ago.

I shall recall it in the hope of deterring my readers from following my
foolish example--or at least of warning them of the terrible results
which may ensue from a thoughtless act of wrong-doing.

I have already mentioned that Parkhurst stood some two or three miles
above the point at which the River Colven flows into the sea.  From the
school-house we could often catch the hum of the waves breaking lazily
along the shore of Colveston Bay; or, if the wind blew hard from the
sea, it carried with it the roar of the breakers on the bar mouth, and
the distant thunder of the surf on the stony beach.

Of course, our walks and rambles constantly took the direction of the
shores of this bay; and though, perhaps, a schoolboy is more readily
impressed with other matters than the beauties of nature, I can remember
even now the once familiar view from Raven Cliff as if my eyes still
rested upon it.

I can see, on a hot summer afternoon, the great curve of that beautiful
bay, bounded at either extremity by headlands, bathed in soft blue haze.
I can see the cliffs and chines and sands basking, like myself, in the
sun.  On my right, the jagged outline of a ruined sea-girt castle stands
out like a sentinel betwixt is land and water.  On my left I can detect
the fishermen's white cottages crouching beneath the crags.  I can see
the long golden strip of strand beyond; and, farther still, across the
wide estuary of the Wraythe, the line of shadowy cliffs that extend like
a rugged wall out to the dim promontory of Shargle Head.

Above all, I can see again the sea, bluer even than the blue sky
overhead; and as it tumbles languidly in from the horizon, fringing the
amphitheatre of the bay with its edge of sparkling white, my ears can
catch the murmur of its solemn music as they heard it in those days long
gone by.

Well I remember, too, the same bay and the same sea; but oh, how
changed!

Far as the eye could reach the great white waves charged towards the
land, one upon another, furious and headlong; below us they thundered
and lashed and rushed back upon their fellows, till we who watched could
not hear so much as our own voices.  In the distance they leapt savagely
at the base of the now lowering headlands, and fought madly over the
hidden rocks and sands.  They sent their sleet and foam-flakes before
them, blinding us where we stood on the cliff-top; they seethed and
boiled in the hollows of the rocks, and over the river bar they dashed
and plunged till far up the stream their fury scarcely spent itself.

At such times no ship or boat ventured willingly into Colveston Bay; or
if it did, it rarely, if ever, left it again.

But such times were rare--very rare with us.  Indeed, I had been months
at Parkhurst before I witnessed a real storm, and months again before I
saw another.  So that my acquaintance with the bay was almost altogether
connected with its milder aspects, and as such it appeared both
fascinating and tempting.

It was on a beautiful August holiday morning that four of us were
lounging lazily in a boat down at the bar mouth, looking out into the
bay and watching the progress of a little fishing smack, which was
skipping lightly over the bright waves in the direction of Shargle Head.
Her sails gleamed in the sunlight, and she herself skimmed so lightly
across the waters, and bounded so merrily through their sparkling
ripples, that she seemed more like a fairy craft than a real yacht of
boards and canvas.  "I'd give a good deal to be in her!" exclaimed Hall,
one of our party, a sea captain's son, to whom on all nautical matters
we accorded the amplest deference.  "So would I," said Hutton.  "How
jolly she looks!"

"Ever so much more fun than knocking about on this stupid old river,"
chimed in I.

"I say, you fellows," cried Hall, struck by a sudden idea, "why
shouldn't we have a little cruise in the bay?  It would be glorious a
day like this!"

"I'm not sure old Rogers," (that was the disrespectful way in which, I
regret to say, we were wont to designate Dr Rogers, our head master)
"would like it," I said; "he's got some notion into his head about
currents and tides, and that makes him fidgety."

"Currents and fiddlesticks!" broke in Hall, with a laugh; "what does
_he_ know about them?  I tell you, a day like this, with a good sailing
breeze, and four of us to row, in case it dropped, there'd be no more
difficulty in going over there and back than there would in rowing from
here back to Parkhurst."

"How long would it take to get to Shargle?" inquired Hutton.

"Why, only two hours, and perhaps less.  The wind's exactly right for
going and coming back too.  We can be back by four easily, and that
allows us an hour or two to land there."

It certainly was tempting; the day was perfection, and Colveston Bay had
never looked more fascinating.  The headlands stood out so distinctly in
the clear air that it was hard to imagine Shargle Head was five miles
distant from where we sat.

When the proposition had first been made I had felt a passing
uncomfortableness as to the lawfulness of such an expedition without the
distinct sanction of the head master; but the more I gazed on the bay,
and the more Hall talked in his enthusiastic manner of the delights of a
cruise, and the longer I watched the fairy-like progress of the little
white-sailed fishing-boat, the less I thought of anything but the
pleasure which the scheme offered.

So when Hall said, "Shall we go, boys?  What do you say?"  I for one
replied, "All serene."

All this while one of our party had been silent, watching the fishing-
boat, but taking no part in our discussion.  He was Charlie Archer, a
new boy at Parkhurst, and some years our junior.  But from the first I
had taken a remarkable fancy to this clever, good-humoured, plucky boy,
who henceforth had become my frequent companion, and with me the
companion of the others who now composed our party.  He now looked up
and said, greatly to our surprise--

"I say, I don't want to go!"

"Why not?" we all asked.

"Oh, it doesn't matter," he replied, in evident confusion.  "I don't
want to spoil your fun, you know, but I'd rather not go myself."

"Why, what on earth's the matter with you, Charlie?"  I asked.  "I
thought you were always ready for an adventure."

"I'd rather not go, please," he repeated.  "You can put me ashore."

"Why not?" again inquired Hall, this time testily.  He never liked
Charlie quite as much as Hutton and I did, and was evidently displeased
to have him now putting forward objections to a proposition of his own
making.  "Why not?"

"Because--because," began the boy hesitatingly--"because I don't want to
go."

Hall became angry.  Like most boys not sure of the honesty of their own
motives, he disliked to have it suggested that what he was urging was
wrong.  He therefore replied, with a taunt keener than any persuasion--

"Poor little milksop, I suppose he's afraid of getting drowned, or of
doing something his mamma, or his grandmamma, or somebody wouldn't like
their little pet to do.  We'd better put him ashore, boys; and mind his
precious little boots don't get wet while we're about it!"

It was a cruel blow, and struck home at Archer's one weak point.

Plucky and adventurous as he was, the one thing he could not endure was
to be laughed at.  And his face flushed, and his lips quivered, as he
heard Hall's brutal speech, and marked the smile with which, I am
ashamed to say, we received it.

"I'm _not_ afraid," he exclaimed.

"Then why don't you want to go?"

He was silent for some time.  A struggle was evidently going on in his
mind.  But the sneer on Hall's face determined him.

"I do want to go.  I've changed my mind!"

"That's the style," said Hutton, patting him on the back.  "I knew you
were one of the right sort."

Hall, too, condescended to approve of his decision, and at once began to
busy himself with preparations for our immediate start.

I, however, was by no means comfortable at what had taken place.  It was
plain to see Charlie had yielded against his better judgment, and that
with whatever alacrity he might now throw himself into the scheme, his
mind was not easy.  Had I been less selfishly inclined towards my own
pleasure, I should have sided with him in his desire not to engage in a
questionable proceeding; but, alas! my wishes in this case had ruled my
conscience.  Still, I made one feeble effort on Archer's behalf.

"Hall," whispered I, as I stooped with him to disengage the ropes at the
bottom of the boat, "what's the use of taking Charlie when he doesn't
want to go?  We may as well put him ashore if he'd sooner not go."

"Archer," said Hall, looking up from his ropes, "did you say you wanted
to go, or not?"

The question was accompanied by a look which made it hard for the boy to
reply anything but--

"I want to go."

"And it's your own free will, eh?"

"Yes."

So ended my weak effort.  If only I had been more determined to do
right; if, alas!  I had imagined a thousandth part of what that day was
to bring forth, I would have set Archer ashore, whether he would or not,
even if to do so had cost me my life.

But this is anticipating.

For half an hour we were busy getting our boat trim for her voyage.  She
was a somewhat old craft, in which for many years past we had been wont
to cruise down the seaward reaches of the Colven, carrying one lug-sail,
and with thwarts for two pairs of oars.  She was steady on her keel,
and, as far as we had been able to judge, sound in every respect, and a
good sailor.  Certainly, on a day like this, a cockleshell would have
had nothing to fear, and we were half sorry we had not a lighter boat
than the one we were in to take us across to Shargle.

Hall, who assumed the command from the first, impressed us not a little
by the businesslike way in which he set to work to get everything ship-
shape before starting.  He knew clearly the use of each rope and pulley;
he knew precisely the necessary amount of ballast to be taken, and the
proper place for stowing it; he discoursed learnedly on knots and
hitches, and aroused our sympathy by his laments on the absence of a
bowsprit and foresail.  Hutton was sent ashore to buy provisions.
Charlie was set to baling out the boat.  I occupied myself with mopping
the seats, and generally "swabbing her up," as Hall called it, so that
in due time we were ready to sail, well provisioned and well equipped,
on our eventful voyage.

Up went the sail; we watched it first flap wildly, and then swell
proudly in the wind as the sheet rope was drawn in, and Hall's hand put
round the helm.  Then, after a little coquetting, as if she were loth to
act as desired without coaxing, she rose lightly to the rippling waves,
and glided forward on her way.

"Adams," said Hall, "you'd better make yourself snug up in the bows;
Hutton, sit where you are, and be ready to help me with the sail when we
tack.  Charlie, old boy, come down astern, beside me; sit a little
farther over, Hutton.  Now she's trim."

Trim she was, and a strange feeling of exhilaration filled my breast as
we now darted forward before the steady breeze, dancing over the waves
with a merry splash, tossing them to either side of our prow, and
listening to them as they gurgled musically under our keel.

"There's Neil!" cried Charlie, as we passed the coastguards' boathouse,
"spying at us through the telescope."

"Let him spy," laughed Hall; "I dare say he'd like to be coming too.
It's slow work for those fellows, always hanging about doing nothing."

"What's he waving about?" inquired I from the bows, for we could see
that the sailor had put down his glass, and was apparently trying to
catch our attention by his gesticulations.

Hall looked attentively for a moment, and then said--

"Oh, I see, he's pointing up at the flagstaff to show us the wind's in
the north-east.  I suppose he thinks no one knows that but himself."

"Let's see," said Hutton, "we are going north-west, aren't we?"

"Yes, so we shall be able to make use of the wind both ways, with a
little tacking."

"He's shouting something now," said Charlie, with his eyes still on
Neil.

"Oh, he's an old woman," said Hall, laughing; "he's always wanting to
tell you this and that, as if no one knew anything about sailing but
himself."  And he took off his hat and waved it ceremoniously to the old
sailor, who continued shouting and beckoning all the while, though
without avail, for the only words that came to us across the water were
"fresh" and "afternoon," and we were not much enlightened by them.

"I'm afraid he's fresh in the morning," laughed Hutton.

A short sail brought us to the bar mouth, over which, as the tide was in
and the sea quiet, we passed without difficulty, although Hall had bade
us have the oars ready in case of emergency, should it be necessary to
lower our sail in crossing.  But of this there was no need, and in a
minute we were at last in the bay, and fairly at sea.

"Do you see Parkhurst over the trees there, you fellows?" cried Charlie,
pointing behind us.  "I never saw the place from the bay before."

"Nor I," I answered; "it looks better here than from any other side."

We were all proud of the old school-house, and fully impressed with its
superiority over any other building of the kind in the kingdom.

The view in the bay was extremely beautiful, Shargle Head stood out
opposite us, distinct and grand, towering up from the water, and
sweeping back to join the moorland hills behind.  On our left, close
beside the bar mouth, rose Raven Cliff, where we so often had been wont
to lie and look out on this very bay; and one by one we recognised the
familiar spots from our new point of view, and agreed that from no side
does a grand coast look so grand as from the sea.

Our boat scudded along merrily, Hall keeping her a steady course, well
up to the wind.  After a few lessons we got to know our respective
duties (so we thought) with all the regularity of a trained ship's crew.
With the wind as it was, right across our course, we had not much need
to tack; but when the order to "stand by" did arrive, we prided
ourselves that we knew how to act.

Hall let go the sheet, and Hutton lowered the sail, Charlie put round
the helm, and I in the bows was ready to aid the others in shifting the
canvas to the other side of the mast and hauling up the sail again.
Then Hall resumed charge of the helm and drew in the sheet, Charlie and
Hutton "trimmed" over to the other side of the boat, and once again our
little craft darted forward.

We were all in exuberant spirits that lovely summer morning; even
Charlie seemed to have forgotten his uneasiness at first starting, for
he was now the life and soul of our party.

He told us wonderful stories about this very bay, gathered from some of
his favourite histories.  How, after the defeat of the Spanish Armada,
when the proud vessels of Spain were driven partly by tempest, partly by
the pursuit of our admiral, headlong along: this very coast, one of them
had got into Colveston Bay, and there been driven ashore at the base of
Raven Cliff, not one man of all her crew surviving that awful wreck.
And he repeated one after another the legends connected with Druce
Castle, whose ruined turrets we could discern away behind us, and of all
the coves and crags and caves as we passed them, till, in our
imagination, the bay became alive once more with ships and battle, and
we seemed to watch the gleam of armour on the castle walls, and the
glare of beacons on the headlands, and to hear the thunder of cannon
from the beach; when presently Hall's cheery call to "stand by" wakened
us into a sudden recollection of our present circumstances.  And then
what songs we sang! what famous sea stories Hall told us! how Hutton
made us roar with his recitations! how the time seemed to fly, and the
boat too, and we in it, until at last we found the Great Shargle
towering over our heads, and knew we had all but reached our
destination.

Hall looked at his watch.

"That was a good run, boys," said he; "not quite two hours--an
uncommonly good run for an old tub like this.  Now where shall we land?"

"I vote we land on Welkin Island," said Charlie.

Welkin Island was separate about three-quarters of a mile from the
mainland, famous for its caves and shells.

"All serene," said Hall, putting the boat about; "stand by."

So we made our last tack, and very soon were close up at the island.
After some cruising we selected an eligible creek for landing, into
which Hall ran our boat as neatly as the most experienced helmsman in
Her Majesty's Navy.

Then we landed, and dragging ashore our hamper of provisions, picnicked
at the edge of the rocks, with the water on three sides of us, with
Shargle Head across the narrow channel rising majestically above us, and
the great amphitheatre of the bay extended like a picture beyond.

Need I say what a jovial repast it was; what appetites we had, what zest
our situation lent to our meal, how each vied with each in merriment!
But Charlie was the blithest of us all.

Then we wandered over that wonderful island.  We waded into the caves,
and climbed to the cliff tops; we filled our pockets with shells, we
bathed, we aimed stones into the sea, we raced along the strand, we cut
our names in a row on the highest point of the island, in commemoration
of our expedition, and there they remain to this day.

"I say, I hope it's not going to rain," said Hutton, looking up at the
clouds, which had for some time been obscuring the sun.

"Who cares if it does?" shouted Charlie.  "Hullo, there goes my roof!"
cried he, as a sudden gust of wind lifted his hat from his head, and
sent it skimming down the rocks.

"I think it's time we started home," said Hall hurriedly.

There was something in the uneasy look of his face as he said this which
made me uncomfortable.

So we turned to embark once more in our boat.

We could not conceal from ourselves, as we made our way to the creek
where we had left her moored, that the weather, which had thus far been
so propitious to our expedition, was not holding out as we could have
wished.  The wind, which had been little more than a steady breeze
during the morning, now met us in frequent gusts, which made us raise
our hands to our hats.  A few ugly-looking black clouds on the horizon
had come up and obscured the sun, threatening not only to shut out his
rays, but to break over the bay in a heavy downpour of rain.  Even on
the half-sheltered side of the island where we were, the water, which
had hitherto moved only in ripples, now began to heave restlessly in
waves, which curled over as they met the breeze, and covered the sea
with little white breakers.  There was an uncanny sort of moan about the
wind as it swept down the hollows of the rocks, and even the seagulls,
as they skimmed past us on the surface of the now sombre water, seemed
uncomfortable.

However, the sea was not rough, and though the sun happened to be hidden
from us, we could see it shining brightly away in the direction of
Parkhurst.  The wind, too, though stronger than it had been in the
morning, was still not violent, and we had little doubt of making as
quick, if not a quicker passage back than we had already made.

So, although in our secret hearts each one of us would perhaps have
preferred the weather of the earlier part of the day to have continued,
we did not let our uneasiness appear to our fellows, or allow it to
interfere with our show of good spirits.

"I tell you what," said Charlie, laughing, as we came down to our boat,
"it would be a real spree to have a little rough water going back, just
for the fun of seeing old Hutton seasick."

"I shall be very pleased to give you some amusement," replied Hutton;
"and perhaps Adams will assist, for I saw him looking anxiously over the
bows once or twice as we were coming."

"So did I," said Charlie; "he must have seen a ghost in the water, for
he looked awfully pale."

"Shut up, you fellows," cried I, who was notoriously a bad sailor, and
easily disturbed by a rough sea; "perhaps we shall all--"

"I say," called out Hall from the boat, where he was busy tying up a
reef in our sail, "I wish you fellows would lend a hand here, instead of
standing and chaffing there."

We obeyed with alacrity, and very soon had our boat ready for starting.

"Now, Adams and Hutton, take the oars, will you? and pull her out of
this creek: we had better not hoist our sail till we are clear of these
rocks."

As we emerged from our little harbour the boat "lumped" heavily over the
waves that broke upon the rocks, and we had a hard pull to get her clear
of these and turn her with her stern to Shargle.

"Now stand by," shouted Hall.

We shipped our oars, and in a moment the sail, shortened by one reef,
was hauled up, and the boat began to scud swiftly forward.

"You'll have to sit right over, you two," said Hall to Hutton and me,
"to keep her trim.  Look sharp about it!"

As he spoke a gust took the sail, and caused the boat to heel over far
on to her side.  She righted herself in an instant, however, and on we
went, flying through the water.

"How do you feel, Adams?" called out Charlie mischievously, from his end
of the boat.

"Pleasant motion, isn't it?" put in Hutton, laughing.

"Look here, you fellows," said Hall abruptly, "stop fooling now, and
look after the boat."

"Why, what's the row?" said Hutton, struck with his unusually serious
tone.  "It's all right, isn't it?"

"It's all right," said Hall curtly, "if you'll only attend to the
sailing."

Our merriment died away on our lips, for it was plain to be seen Hall
was in no jesting humour.

Then several things struck us which we had not previously noticed.  One
was that the wind had shifted farther north, and was blowing hard right
into the bay, gathering strength every minute.  Hall, we noticed, was
sailing as close as possible up to it, thus making our course far wider
than that which had brought us in the morning.

"Why are you steering out like that?"  I ventured to ask.

"Because if I didn't-- Look out!" he exclaimed, as a sudden gust caught
the boat, making her stagger and reel like a drunken man.  In an instant
he had released the sheet rope, and the sail flapped with a tremendous
noise about the mast.  It was but an instant, however, and then we saw
him coolly tighten the cord again, and put back the helm to its former
course.  After that I did not care to repeat my question.

Reader, have you ever found yourself at sea in an open boat, a mile or
so from land, in a gathering storm; with the wind in your teeth and the
sea rising ominously under your keel; with the black clouds mustering
overhead, and the distant coastline whitening with breakers?  Have you
marked the headlands change from white to solemn purple?  Have you
listened to that strange hiss upon the water, and that moaning in the
wind?  Have you known your boat to fly through the waves without making
way, and noted anxiously by some landmark that she is rather drifting
back with the current, instead of, as it seems, tearing before the wind?

If so, you can imagine our feelings that afternoon.

It was useless to pretend things were not as bad as they looked; it was
useless not to admit to ourselves we were fairly in for it now, and must
brave it out as best we could; it was useless to maintain we had not
been foolish, wickedly foolish, in starting on so venturesome an
expedition; it was useless to deny that it would have been better had we
remained at Shargle, or returned to Parkhurst by land.

We were in for it now.

The one thing which gave us confidence was Hall's coolness, now that the
danger was unmistakable.  He neither allowed himself to get flurried nor
alarmed, but sat with closed lips watching the sail--one hand on the
tiller and the other grasping the sheet, ready to let it go at a
moment's notice.

As for us, we wished we could do anything more active than sit still and
trim the boat.  But even that was some use, and so we remained, watching
anxiously the clouds as they rolled down the sides of the hills and half
obscured Shargle Head from our view.

Presently, however, Hall said--

"Get the oars out, will you? we haven't made any way for an hour."

No way for an hour!  Had we then been all that time plunging through the
waves for nothing?  With what grim earnestness we set to work to row
through this unyielding current!

But to no effect--or scarcely any.  The little white cottage on Shargle,
which we looked round at so anxiously from time to time, to ascertain
what progress had been made, remained always in the same position, and
after twenty minutes' desperate pulling it seemed as if the total
distance gained had been scarcely half a dozen yards.

It was disheartening work, still more so as the sea was rising every
minute, and the rain had already begun to fall.

"We're in for a gale," said Hall, as a wave broke over the side,
drenching Hutton and me, and half-filling the bottom of the boat with
water.  "Look sharp, Charlie, and bale out that before the next comes."

Charlie set to work with a will, and for a time we rowed steadily on,
without saying a word.

"What's the time?"  I asked presently of Hall, as I saw him take out his
watch.

"Five," said he.

It was an hour after the time we had expected to be back at Parkhurst,
and we were not yet clear of Shargle.  The same thought evidently
crossed the minds of the other three, for they all glanced in the
direction of Raven Cliff, now scarcely visible through the heavy rain.

"I wish we were safe home," muttered Hutton, the most dispirited of our
crew.  "What fools we were to come!"

We said nothing, but pulled away doggedly at the oars.

Now it really seemed as if we were making some progress out of that
wretched current, for the white cottage on the cliff appeared farther
astern than it had done since we began to row, and we were beginning to
congratulate ourselves on our success, when Hall, who had for some time
been anxiously watching the shore, cried out--

"For goodness' sake pull hard, you fellows! we are drifting in fast.
Here, Charlie, take the helm, and keep her the way she is, while I get
down the sail.  It's no use now.  Mind your heads, but don't stop
rowing," he shouted to us, as he let down the sail suddenly, and lowered
the mast.  "Keep her head out, Charlie, whatever you do.  Let go that
rope beside you.  That's right.  Now take hold of that end of the mast
and slip it under the seat."

So saying he managed to get down the mast and stow it away without
impeding either the rowing or the steering, and immediately the
advantage of the step was manifest in the steadier motion of the boat,
although we groaned inwardly at the thought of having now all the
distance to row.  At least I groaned inwardly.  Hutton was hardly as
reserved.

"I tell you what," he said to me, stopping rowing, "I don't know what
you and the other fellows intend to do, but I can't row any more.  I've
been at it an hour together."

"What are we to do, then?" inquired I.

"Why shouldn't Hall take a turn?  He's been doing nothing."

"He's been steering," replied I, "and he's the only fellow who knows
how, and Charlie's not strong enough to row."

"Well, all I can say is, I don't mean to row any longer."

All this had been said in an undertone to me, but now Hall cried out--

"What are you shopping for, Hutton?  Pull away, man, or we shall never
get out of this."

"Pull away yourself!" said Hutton sulkily.  "I've had enough of it.  You
brought us here, you'd better take us back!"

Hall's face at that moment was a study.  I fancy if this had been a ship
and he the skipper, he would not have hesitated an instant how to deal
with this unexpected contingency.  But now he did hesitate.  It was
bitter enough punishment to him to be there exposed to all the dangers
of a sudden storm, with the safety, and perhaps the life, not only of
himself, but of us whom he had induced to accompany him, on his hands;
but to have one of those comrades turn against him in the moment of
peril was more than he had looked for.

"I'll take an oar," said Charlie, before there was time to say anything.

"No," said Hall, starting up; "take the helm, Charlie.  And you," added
he, to Hutton, "give me your oar and get up into the bows."

The voice in which this was spoken, and the look of scorn which
accompanied it, fairly cowed Hutton, who got up like a lamb and crawled
into the bows, leaving Hall and me to row.

"Keep her straight to the waves, whatever you do! it's all up if she
gets broadside on!" said the former to Charlie.

And so for another half-hour we laboured in silence; then almost
suddenly the daylight faded, and darkness fell over the bay.

I rowed on doggedly in a half-dream.  Stories of shipwrecks and
castaways crowded in on my mind; I found myself wondering how and when
this struggle would end.  Then my mind flew back to Parkhurst, and I
tried to imagine what they must think there of our absence.  Had they
missed us yet?  Should I ever be back in the familiar house, or--but I
dared not think of that.  Then I tried to pray, and the sins of my
boyhood came up before my mind as I did so in terrible array, so that I
vowed, if but my life might be spared, I would begin a new and better
life from that time forward.  Then, by a strange impulse, my eyes rested
on Charlie, as he sat there quietly holding the tiller in his hands and
gazing out ahead into the darkness.  What was it that filled me with
foreboding and terror as I looked at the boy?  The scene of the morning
recurred to my mind, and my halfhearted effort to prevent him from
accompanying us.  Selfish wretch that I had been! what would I not now
give to have been resolute then?  If anything were to happen to Charlie,
how could I ever forgive myself?

"I think we've made some way," he cried out cheerily.  "Not much," said
Hall gloomily; "that light there is just under Shargle Head."

"Had we better keep on as we are?"  I asked.  "I don't see what else is
to be done.  If we let her go before the wind, we shall get right on to
the rocks."

"You've a lot to answer for," growled Hutton from where he lay, half-
stupid with terror, in the bows.

Hall said nothing, but dashed his oar vehemently into the water and
continued rowing.

"I wonder if that light is anywhere near Parkhurst?" presently asked
Archer.  "Do you see?"

We looked, and saw it; and then almost instantly it vanished.  At the
same time we lost sight of the lights on Shargle Head, and the rain came
down in torrents.  "A mist!" exclaimed Hall, in tones of horror.  Well
indeed might he and we feel despair at this last extinguisher of our
hopes.  With no landmark to steer by, with wind and sea dead in our
teeth, with the waves breaking in over our sides, and one useless
mutineer in our midst, we felt that our fate was fairly sealed.  Even
Hall for a moment showed signs of alarm, and we heard him mutter to
himself, "God help us now!"  Next moment a huge wave came broadside on
to us and emptied itself into our boat, half filling us with water.  In
the sudden shock my oar was dashed from my hand and carried away
overboard!

"Never mind," said Hall hurriedly, "it would have been no use; put her
round, Charlie, quick--here, give me the tiller!"

In a moment the boat swung round to the wind (not, however, before she
had shipped another sea), and then we felt we were simply flying towards
the fatal rocks.

"Bale out, all of you!" shouted Hall; and we obeyed, including even
Hutton, who seemed at last, in very desperation, to be awakening to a
sense of his duty.

The next few minutes seemed like an age.  As we knelt in our half-
flooded boat scooping up the water there in our hats, or whatever would
serve for the purpose, we could hear ahead of us the angry roar of
breakers, and knew every moment was bringing us nearer to our doom.

By one impulse we abandoned our useless occupation.  What was the use of
baling out a boat that must inevitably in a few minutes be dashed to
pieces on the rocks?  Hutton crawled back into the bows, and Charlie and
I sat where we were on the seat and waited.

I could not fail, even in such a situation, to notice and admire Hall's
self-possession and coolness.  Desperate as our case was, he kept a
steady hand on the helm, and strained his eyes into the mist ahead,
never abating for a moment either his vigilance or his courage.  But
every now and then I could see his eyes turn for a moment to Charlie,
and his face twitch as they did so, with a look of pain which I was at
no loss to understand.

"How far are we from the rocks?" asked Charlie.

"I can't say; a quarter of an hour, perhaps."

"Whereabouts are we?"  I asked.

"When the lights went out we were opposite Raven Cliff," replied Hall.

We were silent for another minute; then Hall took out his watch.

"Eight o'clock," said he.

"They'll be at prayers at Parkhurst," said Charlie; and in the silence
that followed, need I say that we too joined as we had never done before
in the evening prayers of our schoolfellows?

"Charlie, old boy," said Hall, presently, "come and sit beside me, will
you?"

Poor Hall! had it been only _his_ own life that was at stake, he would
never have flinched a muscle; but as he put his arm round the boy whom
he had led into danger he groaned pitiably.

"I wonder if Neil's out looking for us," Hutton said from the bows.

"Not much use," said Hall.  "If only this mist would lift!"

But it did not lift.  For another five minutes we tore through the
waves, which as we neared the shore became wilder and rougher.  Our
boat, half full of water, staggered at every shock, and more than once
we believed her last plunge had been taken.

On either side of us, for the little distance we could see through the
mist, there was nothing but white foam and surging billows; behind us
rushed the towering waves, overtaking us one by one, tossing us aloft
and dashing us down, till every board of our boat creaked and groaned.
Above us the rain poured in torrents, dashing on to our bare heads, and
blinding us whenever we turned our faces back.

Then Hall cried out, "Listen! those must be breakers behind us!"

Assuredly they were!  On either side we could hear the deafening thunder
of the surf as it dashed over the rocks.

"Then, thank God!" exclaimed Hall, "we must have got in between two
reefs; perhaps we shall go aground on the sand!"

The next two minutes are past description.  Hutton crawled down beside
me where I sat, and I could feel his hand on my arm, but I had no eyes
except for Charlie, who sat pale and motionless with Hall's arm round
him.

"Now!" shouted Hall, abandoning the tiller, and tightening his hold on
the boy.

There was a roar and a rush behind us, our boat swooped up with the
wave, and hung for a moment trembling on its crest, then it fell, and in
an instant we were in the water.

Hutton was beside me as the rush back of that huge wave swept us off our
feet.  I seized him by the arm, and next moment we were struggling to
keep our heads up.  Then came another monster, and lifted us like
straws, flinging us before it on to the strand, and then rolling and
foaming over us as we staggered to our feet.

Hutton, half stunned, had been swept from my hold, but mercifully was
still within reach.  Clutching him by the hair, I dragged him with all
my might towards the land, before the returning wave should once more
sweep us back into the sea.  By a merciful Providence, a solitary piece
of rock was at hand to aid us; and clinging to this we managed to
support that terrific rush, and with the next wave stagger on to solid
ground.

But what of Charlie?  Leaving my senseless companion, I rushed wildly
back to the water's edge, and called, shouted, and even waded back into
the merciless surf.  But no answer: no sign.  Who shall describe the
anguish of the next half-hour?  I was conscious of lights and voices; I
had dim visions of people hurrying; I felt something poured down my
throat, and some one was trying to lift me from where I sat.  But no!  I
would not leave that spot till I knew what had become of Charlie, and in
my almost madness I shrieked the boy's name till it sounded even above
the roaring waves.

Presently the lights moved all to one spot, and the people near me moved
too.  Weak as I was, I sprang to my feet and followed.

Good heavens! what did I see?  Two sailors, half naked, stooped over
something that lay on the sand between them, What, who was it?  I cried;
and the crowd made way for me as I fought my way to the place.

Two figures lay there; the smaller locked in the arms of his protector!
But dead or living?  Oh, if I could but hear some voice say they were
not dead!  Another person was kneeling over them beside me.  Even in
that moment of confusion and terror I could recognise his voice as that
of the Parkhurst doctor.

"Look after this one here," he said; "he has a broken arm.  Carry up the
little fellow to the cottage."

Then I knew Charlie was dead!

It was weeks before I was sufficiently recovered in body or mind to hear
more than I knew.  Then the doctor told me:--

"Hall is getting better.  He broke his arm in two places, trying to
shield the boy from the rocks.  He will not speak about it himself, and
no one dares mention Archer's name to him.  There was neither bruise nor
scratch on the little fellow's body, which shows how heroically the
other must have tried to save him."

I soon recovered, but Hall was ill for many weeks--ill as much from
distress of mind as from the injuries he had received.  He and I are
firm friends to this day; and whenever we meet, we speak often of little
Charlie Archer.  Hall is a sea captain now, and commands his own vessel
in distant seas; but though he has been through many a peril and many a
storm since, I can confidently say he never showed himself a better
sailor than he did the night we sailed back from the Shargle.



CHAPTER SIX.

"FIVERS" VERSUS "SIXERS" AT PARKHURST.

"I tell you what it is, you fellows, I shall learn to swim!"  The
speaker was Bobby Jobson, a hero of some thirteen summers, who, in
company with four of us, his schoolfellows, sat on the bank of the
Colven, under some willows, dabbling his shins in the clear water of the
river.

The summer had been tremendously hot.  Cricket was out of the question,
and boating equally uninviting.  The playground had been left deserted
to bake and scorch under the fierce sun, and the swings and poles in the
gymnasium had blistered and cracked in solitude.  The only place where
life was endurable was down by the river, and even there it was far too
hot to do anything but sit and dabble our feet under the shelter of the
trees, and think of icebergs!

A few of the fellows, to our unbounded envy, bathed.  They could swim,
we could not; and if any rule at Parkhurst was strict, it was the rule
which forbade any boy who could not swim to bathe in the river, except
with special leave and under the care of a master.  And so, like so many
small editions of Tantalus, we sat on the bank and kicked our heels in
the water, and bemoaned the fate which had brought us into the world
without web-feet.

Young donkeys that we were!  The idea of _learning_ to swim had never
occurred to any of us till Bobby Jobson, in a happy moment, gave birth
to the idea in his ejaculation, "I tell you what it is, you fellows, I
shall learn to swim!"

"How?"  I inquired.

"How?" said Jobson; "why, you know, how does every body learn?" and then
he was polite enough to call me a duffer.

"I'll tell you the way," said Ralley, one of our set.  "Lie across a
desk on your stomach, two or three hours every day, and kick out with
your arms and legs."

"Corks and bladders," mildly suggested some one else.

"Get old Blades," (that was the boatman) "to tie a rope round your
middle and chuck you into the Giant's Pool," kindly proposed another.

"Just tumble in where you are," said Ralley, "and see if it doesn't come
naturally."

"Ugh!" said Jobson, with a grimace, giving a sidekick in the water in
the direction of the last speaker.  "I'm not sure that _that_ dodge
would pay."

While he spoke, to our unbounded horror, the bank on which he and his
next neighbour were sitting suddenly gave way, and next moment, with a
shout and a splash, our two comrades were floundering helplessly in five
feet of water!

Help, happily, was at hand, or there is no saying what might have been
the end of the adventure.  We did all we could by reaching out our hands
and throwing them our jackets to help them, while, with our shouts, we
summoned more effective aid.  Old Blades, who providentially happened to
be passing, was with us in less than a minute, and fished out the two
poor half-drowned boys, scarcely a moment before they needed it.  They
were more frightened, I fancy, than damaged; anyhow, we smuggled them
home, dripping as they were, and helped them to bed; and when, next
morning, they turned up as usual, nothing the worse for their first
swimming lesson, we were, as you may imagine, infinitely relieved.

This little adventure was the origin of the Parkhurst Swimming Club.
The doctor, on hearing of the affair, took the proper course; and,
instead of forbidding us the river, he secured the services of one or
two instructors, and had us all taught the art of swimming.  For three
months, every day of the week, the School Creek was full of sputtering,
choking youngsters.  Every new boy was hunted down to the river in turn,
and by the end of the year there was hardly a boy at Parkhurst who could
not keep his chin up in deep waters.

But this is a long introduction.

One day, two summers after that in which young Jobson and his friend had
tumbled into the Colven, a large party of us were down at the bathing-
place, indulging in what had now become a favourite summer pastime.  It
so happened that our party was made up entirely of boys in the two
senior classes of the school--the fifth and the sixth.  Most of us were
landed and dressing, and while so occupied had leisure to watch the
performances of those who still remained in the water.

Two of these specially interested us, who were swimming abreast about a
hundred yards from the landing-place, evidently racing home.  One of
these chanced to be a sixth-form boy and the other a fifth, and a sudden
impulse seized us of the latter class to cheer our man vehemently, and
back him to be the first to reach home.  The sixth-form fellows, thus
challenged, became equally excited in backing _their_ man, and so,
without premeditation, a regular match was made.  The two swimmers,
hearing our shouts, entered into the spirit of the thing, and a
desperate race ensued.  They came on, neck and neck, towards us, cheered
like mad by their respective supporters, both sides deeming the honour
of his form at stake in the event.  Within a yard or two of the finish
they were still level, when the sixth-form man put on a terrific spurt,
to our huge disgust, and just landed himself in a nose ahead.

Of course, we were not going to be beaten thus, and there and then
demanded our revenge.  Whereupon the company--half of them in a very
elementary stage of dressing, and the other half in no stage at all--
resolved itself into a meeting on the spot, and fixed that day week for
a formal trial of prowess between the two classes.  Three events were to
be contested--a half-mile race, a hundred yards, and a duck hunt--and,
of course, the winner of two out of the three would carry the day.

Then, in great excitement, we finished our toilets and hurried back to
the school, where, naturally, the news of the coming contest spread like
wildfire and caused a great commotion.  The school divided itself
forthwith into two factions, calling themselves the "fivers" and
"sixers."  The selection of representatives to compete in the races was
a matter of almost as much excitement as the races themselves, and I
need hardly say it was a proud day for me when I was informed I was to
act in the capacity of "hunter" for the fifth in the duck hunt.  I
accepted the honour with mingled pride and misgivings, and spent a busy
week practising for my arduous duties.

Well, the eventful day came at last, and nearly the whole school
mustered at Cramp Corner to see the sport.  For the half-mile race,
which was to come off first, there were only two fellows competing.  Our
man was Barlow--of paper-chase celebrity--while the sixth were very
confident of winning with Chesney, a hero nearly six feet high.
Certainly, as the two stood on the spring-board waiting the signal to
go, there seemed very little chance for the small Jim against his lanky
antagonist, although some of us comforted ourselves with the
contemplation of our man's long arms and the muscles in his legs.  The
course was to be once up Cramp Reach and back--just half a mile.  The
swimmers were at liberty to swim in any manner they chose, and bound
only to one rule--to keep their right side.

They were not long kept waiting in their scanty attire on the planks.
The doctor himself gave the signal to start, and at the word they darted
with two "swishes" into the water.  Jim's head was up first, and off he
started at a steady chest-stroke, meaning business.  Chesney's dive was
a long one, and, considering he had a half-mile race before him, a
foolish one, for he taxed his breath at the outset, which might have
been avoided, had he thought less about elegance and more about the
race.  However, he did not seem at first to be any the worse off for he
took a slight lead of Jim, going through the water swiftly and easily,
with as pretty a side-stroke as any fellow's at the school.  In point of
style there was no comparison between the two.  Jim pounded along
monotonously, but steadily, with a square front, preserving all along
the same regular stroke, the same pace, and the same dogged expression
of countenance with which he had entered the water.  His rival, on the
other hand, delighted the spectators by all kinds of graceful variety.
Now he darted forward on his side, now on his back.  Sometimes he
refreshed himself by a swift dive, and sometimes he swung his arms like
a windmill.  In fact, there was scarcely any accomplishment possible in
rapid swimming which he did not give us the benefit of.

But it was evident some of his friends did not approve of his style.  I
heard one of them, running near me, growl, "I wish he would give over
his capers and swim like a rational animal."

"Rational or not, he's keeping his lead," said another, and so he was.
Plodding Jim, with his everlasting chest-stroke, was half a dozen yards
or so behind, and did not look like picking up either.  Nevertheless, we
cheered him like mad, and kept up our hopes that he would "stay out" the
better of the two.

When both turned at the top of the reach, Chesney gave up his fanciful
swimming, and, to our alarm, settled down to a side-stroke, which for a
time looked powerful and effective.  But he had been too confident all
along, and now, when he reckoned on shaking off his opponent and getting
a clear lead, he found out he was destined to do just the reverse.  What
long faces the "sixers" pulled as their man began to puff and slacken
pace!  A half-mile race is no joke, believe me; and so Chesney began to
find out.  Before half the distance back was covered he showed
unmistakable signs of going to pieces, and--a very ominous sign--took to
changing from one side to another at very frequent intervals.

Of course we "fivers" howled with delight!  Our man had never turned a
hair, and was now pulling up at every stroke.  As he drew level, Chesney
gathered up all his remaining strength for a spurt.  But it came to
nothing.  Jim held on his way almost remorselessly, and headed his man
fifty yards from the winning-post; and the next thing we saw was Chesney
pulling up dead, and making for the bank in a very feeble condition.
Jim quietly swam on amid our frantic plaudits, and landed pretty nearly
as fresh as when he started.

So far so good.  Loud and long were our exultations, for we had hardly
expected to win this race; we had put our chief confidence on the
hundred yards, which was to follow.  In this race three a side were
entered, and of our three we knew no one in the school who could beat
Halley at a hundred yards.  It was rumoured, indeed, that Payne, one of
the three "sixers," had been doing very well in training, but the
reports of him were not sufficiently decided to shake our faith in our
own hero.

It was an anxious moment as they stood there waiting for the doctor's
signal.  If only we could win this race, we should have our two races
out of the three in hand without further combat.

"Go!" cried the doctor; and at the word six youthful forms plunge into
the water, and for a second are lost to sight.  But the moral of the
half-mile race has evidently been taken to heart by these six boys.
They waste neither time nor wind under the surface, but rising quickly,
dash to their work.  After the first few strokes Payne showed in front,
greatly to the delight of the "sixers," who felt that everything
depended on their man.  We, however, were glad to see our man sticking
close up, and keeping stroke for stroke after his rival.  Of the others,
one only--little Watson--of the sixth seemed to hold his own, and that
was a good three yards in the rear of Halley: while the three others
fell off hopelessly from the very beginning.

The race was short, but eventful.  To our delight, Halley overhauled
Payne before half-way was reached, and we felt now absolutely sure of
the race.  It never occurred to us to think of young Watson at all.  But
all of a sudden it became apparent that that young man meant business.
He changed his front, so to speak, in a very unexpected manner, and just
as we were beginning to exult over our man's certain victory, he lay
over on his side, and, with a peculiar, jerky side-stroke, began to work
his little carcase through the water at a wonderful pace.

Before long he had overtaken his fellow-"sixer," and almost immediately
drew up to our champion.  We were in consternation.  Twenty yards more
would end the race, and if only our man could hold out and keep his
lead, we were all right.  At first it looked as if he would, for,
encouraged by our cheers, and seeing his peril, he spurted, and kept a
good yard ahead of this audacious young "sixer."  But the latter put one
spurt on to another, and drew up inch by inch.  Ten yards from home they
were level; then, for a stroke or two, there was a frantic struggle;
then the "sixers" sent forth a shout that must have frightened the very
fishes; and well they might, for their man had won the race, a yard and
a half clear ahead of our champion.

One race each!  And now for the "duck hunt" to settle the match.  But
before I go further I ought to explain, for the benefit of those who
have not been initiated into the mysteries of the pastime, how a duck
hunt was managed at Parkhurst.

The part of the river selected was close to the mouth, where the stream
at high water is about a quarter of a mile broad.  Two boundary boats,
one above and one below, were anchored at half a mile distance, and
between these limits the hunt was to take place.  The "duck" was
provided with a little punt, about five feet long and pretty wide, in
which he was to escape as best he might from a cutter manned by four
rowers and a coxswain, and carrying in its bows a "hunter."  As long as
he chose, or as long as he could, the duck might dodge his pursuers in
his punt; but when once run down he would have to take to the water, and
by swimming make good his escape from his pursuers, whose "hunter" would
be ready at any moment to jump overboard and secure him.  If, however,
after twenty minutes the duck still remained uncaught, he was to be
adjudged winner.

Such was the work cut out for us on this memorable afternoon.  The duck
on the present occasion was a sixth-form fellow called Haigh, one of the
best divers and swimmers in the school, while, as I have already said, I
had been selected to act as hunter on behalf of the fifth.

The duck, arrayed in the slightest of costumes, was not long in putting
in an appearance in his little punt, which, being only five feet long,
was so light that it seemed to jump through the water at every stroke of
the oars; while a single stroke either way sufficed to change its course
in a moment.  The cutter, in the prow of which I (as slenderly attired
as the duck) was stationed, was also a light boat, and of course, with
its four rowers, far swifter than the punt; but when it came to turning
and dodging, it was, because of its length, comparatively unwieldy and
clumsy.

All now was ready for the chase.  The duck was to get a minute's clear
start, and at the signal off he darted up the stream.  The minute seemed
to us in the cutter as if it were never going to end, and we watched
with dismay the pace at which our lively fugitive was "making tracks."

"Ready all, in the cutter!" cries the doctor.  "Off!" and next moment we
are flying through the water in full cry.  As we gradually pull up to
the duck he diminishes his pace, and finally lies on his oars and coolly
waits for us.

"Put it on, now!" calls out our coxswain, and our boat shoots forward.
When within a few yards, the duck, apparently alive to his danger,
dashes his oars into the water and darts ahead.  But we are too fast for
him.  Another two strokes and we shall row him down.

"Now then!" cries our coxswain.

Ah!  At a tremendous pace our boat flew forward over the very place
where, a second before, our duck had been.  But where was he?  By a turn
of the hand he had twisted round his punt, and as our fellows dug their
oars wildly into the water and tried to pull up, there was he, calmly
scuttling away in an opposite direction, and laughing at us!

In due time we had swung round, and were after him again, the wiser for
this lesson.

Next time we overhauled him we made our approach in a far more gingerly
manner.  We kept as little way as possible on our boat, determined not
to lose time again by overshooting our mark.  As long as he could, our
duck led us down stream, then, when we had all but caught him, he made a
feint of swooping off to the right, a manoeuvre which our coxswain
promptly followed.  But no sooner was our rudder round than the rogue
deftly brought his punt sharp to the left, and so once more escaped us.

This sort of thing went on for a long time, and I was beginning to think
the hunt was likely to prove a monotonous affair after all, when our
coxswain suddenly called to me down the boat--

"Be ready, Adams."

Then it began gradually to dawn on me our coxswain after all knew what
he was about.  There was a rather deep bay up near the top of the
course, bounded by two prominent little headlands, and into this bay the
duck, in a moment of carelessness, had ventured.  It was a chance not to
be let slip.  A few strokes brought our cutter up to the spot, and once
there, our cunning coxswain carefully kept us pointed exactly across the
bay.  The duck, seeing his danger, made a dash to one corner, hoping to
avoid us; but he was too late, we were there before him, and before he
could double and make the other corner our boat had back-watered to the
spot.  Thus gradually we hemmed him in closer and closer to the shore,
amid the cheers of our friends, until at last it was evident to every
one the punt was no longer of use.

Still, he let us sidle close up to him before he abandoned his craft;
then with a sudden bound he sprang overboard and disappeared from view.

It was no use going after him, I knew, till I could see where he would
rise, and so I waited, ready for a plunge, watching the water where he
would probably turn up.  Several seconds passed, but there were no signs
of him.  He was a good diver, we all knew, but this was surely a very
long dive.  Had an accident happened to him?  A minute elapsed, two, and
yet he never appeared!  We in the boat were aghast; he must have come to
grief.  Ah! what were the people on the bank laughing at?  Could there
be some trick?  Next instant the coxswain called out, laughing--

"He's hanging on to the rudder; over you go, Adams!"

At the word I slipped overboard and gave chase.  And now began an
exciting pursuit.  Haigh, though perfectly at home in the water, was not
a rapid swimmer; but in point of diving and dodging he had a tremendous
advantage over any of his pursuers.  The moment I got near him, and just
as I was thinking to grab him, he would disappear suddenly and come up
behind me.  He would dive towards the right and come up towards the
left.  He would dodge me round the boat, or swim round me in circles,
but no effort of mine could secure him.  The time was getting on, and I
was no nearer having him than before.  With all his dodges, too, he
never seemed to take his eyes off me for an instant, either above or
below the water.

Once, as I was giving him chase, he suddenly dived, and the next
intimation I had of his whereabouts was a sly pinch of my big toe as he
came up behind me.  This was adding insult to injury, so I dashed round,
and made at him.  Again he dived; and this time, without waiting an
instant, I dived too.  I could see him distinctly under the water,
scuttling away in a downward direction just below me.  Shutting my lips
tight, I dug my way down after him; but, alas! under water I was no
match for Haigh.  I felt an irresistible temptation to gasp; my nose
smarted, and the water round my head seemed like lead.  As quickly as
possible I turned my hands up, and struck out for the surface.

What ages it seemed before I reached it!  A second--half a second
longer, and I should have shipped a mouthful, perhaps a chestful of
water.  I reached the surface at last, and, once above water, felt all
right again.  I looked about anxiously for my duck.  But he was still
down below.  I reckoned, from the direction in which he had dived, that
he would not be able to go far to either side, and therefore would rise
close to me, probably exhausted, and if so, I had a good chance at last
of catching him.  So I waited and watched the place, but he never came.

Remembering my own sensations, and how nearly I had come to grief, I
took a sudden fright, and concluding he must be in straits down below,
shouted to the boat to come to the place, and then dived.  I groped
about, and looked in all directions, but saw no sign of him, and
finally, in a terrible fright, made once more for the surface.

The first thing I was conscious of, on getting my head up, was a great
shouting and laughing, and then I caught sight of that abominable duck,
who had come up behind me, and had been laughing all the while behind my
back, while I had been hunting for him in a far more serious way than I
need ever have done!

Before I could turn and make towards him "Time!" was shouted from the
bank; and so the Parkhurst Swimming Contest ended in a lamentable,
though not disgraceful, defeat of the "fivers."



CHAPTER SEVEN.

ATHLETIC SPORTS AT PARKHURST.

The last Saturday before the summer holidays was invariably a great day
at Parkhurst.  The outdoor exercises of the previous ten months
culminated then in the annual athletic sports, which made a regular
field-day for the whole school.  Boys who had "people" living within a
reasonable distance always did their best to get them over for the day;
the doctor--an old athlete himself--generally invited his own party of
friends; and a large number of spectators from Parkhurst village and the
neighbourhood were sure to put in an appearance, and help to give
importance to the occasion.  Athletic sports without spectators (at
least, so we boys thought) would be a tame affair, and we were sure to
get through our day's performances all the better for a large muster of
outsiders on the ground.

The occasion I am about to recall was specially interesting to me, as it
was the first athletic meeting in which I, a small boy just entering my
teens, ever figured.  I was only down to run in one of the races, and
that was the three-legged race; and yet I believe there was not a boy in
the school so excited at the prospect of these sports as I was.  I
thought the time would never come, and was in positive despair when on
the day before it a little white cloud ventured to appear in the blue
sky.  A wet day, so I thought, would have been as great a calamity as
losing the whole circle of my relatives, and almost as bad as having my
favourite dog stolen, or my fishing-rod smashed; and I made a regular
fool of myself in the morning of the eventful day by getting up first at
two a.m., then at three, then at four, and four or five times more, to
take observations out of the window, till at last my bedfellow declared
he would stand it no longer, and that since I was up, I should stay up.

Ah! he was an unsympathetic duffer, and knew nothing of the raptures of
winning a three-legged race.

Well, the day was a splendid one after all--a little hot, perhaps, but
the ground was in grand order, and hosts of people would be sure to turn
up.  My race yoke-fellow and I went out quite early for a final spin
over the course, and found one or two of the more diligent of our
schoolfellows taking a similar advantage of the "lie-abeds."  Of course,
as _we_ were of opinion that the three-legged race was the most
important and attractive of all the day's contests, we paid very little
heed to what others were doing, but sought out a retired corner for
ourselves, where, after tying our inside legs together, and putting our
arms round one another's necks in the most approved fashion, we set to
and tore along as fast as we could, and practised starts and falls, and
pick-ups and spurts, and I don't know what else, till we felt that if,
after all, we were to be beaten, it would not be our faults.  With which
comfortable reflection we loosed our bonds and strolled back to
breakfast.

Here, of course, the usual excitement prevailed, and one topic engrossed
all the conversation.  I sat between a fellow who was in for the Junior
100 yards, and another who was down for the "hurdles."  Opposite me was
a hero whom every one expected to win in throwing the cricket-ball, and
next to him a new boy who had astonished every one by calmly putting his
name down for the mile race before he had been two hours at Parkhurst.
In such company you may fancy our meal was a lively one, and, as most of
us were in training, a very careful one.

The first race was to be run at twelve, and we thought it a great
hardship that the lower school was ordered to attend classes on this of
all days from nine to eleven.  Now I am older, it dawns on me that this
was a most wholesome regulation; for had we small chaps been allowed to
run riot all the morning, we should have been completely done up, and
fit for nothing when the races really began.  We did not do much work, I
am afraid, at our desks that morning, and the masters were not
particularly strict, for a wonder.  The one thing we had to do was to
keep our seats and restrain our ardour, and that was no easy task.

Eleven came at last, and off we rushed to the mysteries of the toilet.
What would athletic sports be like without flannel shirts and trousers,
or ribbons and canvas shoes?  At any rate, we believed in the importance
of these accessories, and were not long in arraying ourselves
accordingly.  I could not help noticing, however, as we sallied forth
into the field, that fine feathers do not always make fine birds.  There
was Tom Sampson, for instance, the biggest duffer that ever thought he
could run a step, got up in the top of the fashion, in bran-new togs,
and a silk belt, and the most gorgeous of scarlet sashes across his
shoulders; while Hooker, who was as certain as Greenwich time to win the
quarter-mile, had on nothing but his old (and not very white) cricket
clothes, and no sash at all.  And there was another thing I noticed
about these old hands: they behaved in the laziest of manners.  They
sprawled on the grass or sat on the benches, appearing disinclined for
the slightest exertion; while others, less experienced, took preliminary
canters along the tracks, or showed off over the hurdles.  Fine fellows,
no doubt, they thought themselves; but they had reason to be sorry for
this waste of energy before the day was out.

Programmes!  With what excitement I seized mine and glanced down it!
There it was!  "Number 12.  Three-legged Race, 100 yards, for boys under
15. 1, Trotter and Walker (pink); 2, White and Benson (green); 3, Adams
and Slipshaw (blue)."  Reader, have you ever seen your name in print for
the first time?  Then you may imagine my sensations!

Things now begin to look like business.  The doctor has turned up, and a
party of ladies.  The visitors' enclosure is fast filling up, and there
is a fair show of carriages behind.  Those big fellows in the tall hats
are old Parkhurstians, come to see the young generation go through its
paces, and that little knot of men talking together in the middle of the
ground consists of the starter, judge, and umpire.  Not a few of us,
too, turn our eyes wistfully to that tent over yonder, where we know are
concealed the rewards of this day's combats; and in my secret heart I
find myself wondering more than once how it will sound to hear the names
"Adams and Slipshaw" called upon to receive the first prize for the
three-legged race.

Hark!  There goes a bell, and we are really about to begin.  "Number 1,
Junior 100 yards, for boys under 12," and 24 names entered!  Slipshaw
and 1, both over 12, go off to have a look at "the kids," and a queer
sight it is.  Of course, they can't all, 24 of them, run abreast, and so
they are being started in heats, six at a time.  The first lot is just
starting.  How eagerly they toe the line and look up at the starter!

"Are--" he begins, and two of them start, and have to be called back.
"Are you ready?" he says.  Three of them are off now, and can't
understand that they are to wait for the word "Off!"  But at last the
starter gets to the end of his speech and has them fairly off.  The
little fellows go at it as if their lives depended on it.  Their mothers
and big brothers are looking on, their "chums" are shouting to them
along the course, and the winning-post is not very far ahead.  On they
go, but not in a level row.  One has taken the lead, and the others
straggle behind him in a queer procession.  It doesn't last long.  Even
a Junior 100 yards must come to an end at last, and the winner runs,
puffing, into the judge's arms, half a dozen yards ahead of the next
boy, and 50 yards ahead of the last.  The other three heats follow, and
then, amid great excitement, the final heat is run off, and the best man
wins.

For the Senior 100 yards which followed only three were entered, and
each of these had his band of confident admirers.  Slipshaw and I were
very "sweet" on Jackson, who was monitor of our dormitory, and often
gave us the leavings of his muffins, but Ranger was a lighter-built
fellow, and seemed very active, while Bruce's long legs looked not at
all pleasant for his opponents.  The starter had no trouble with them,
but it was no wonder they all three looked anxious as they turned their
faces to him; for in a 100 yards' race the start is everything, as poor
long-legged Bruce found out, for he slipped on the first spring, and
never recovered his lost ground.  Between Ranger and Jackson the race
was a fine one to within twenty yards of home, when our favourite's
"fat" began to tell on him, and though he stuck gallantly to work he
could not prevail over the nimble Ranger, who slipped past him and won
easily by a yard.

This was a damper for Slipshaw and me, who, as in duty bound, attended
our champion back to where he had left his coat, and so missed the
throwing of the cricket-ball, which was easily won by the favourite.

But though we missed that event, we had no notion of missing the high
jump, which promised to be the best thing (next to the three-legged
race) that day.  Four fellows were in for it, and of these Shute and
Catherall were two of the best jumpers Parkhurst had ever had; and it
was well known all over the school that in practice each had jumped
exactly 5 foot 4 inches.  Who would win now?  The two outsiders were
soon got rid of, one at 4 foot 10 inches, and the other at 5 foot; and
the real interest of the event began when Shute and Catherall were left
alone face to face with the bar.  Shute was a tall fellow, of slight
make and excellent spring.  Catherall was short, but with the bounce of
an india-rubber ball in him, and a wonderful knack of tucking his feet
up under him in jumping.  It was a pretty sight to watch them advance
half-inch by half-inch, from 5 foot to 5 foot 3 inches.  There seemed
absolutely nothing to choose between them, they both appeared to clear
the bar so easily.  At 5 foot 3½ inches.  Shute missed his first jump,
greatly to the dismay of his adherents, who saw Catherall clear it with
complete ease.  If he were to miss the second time, he would be out of
it, and that would be a positive tragedy.  So we all watched his next
jump with breathless anxiety.  He stood looking at the bar for a second
or two, as if doubting his own chance.  Then his face cleared up, and he
sprang towards it.  To our delight he rose beautifully and cleared it
easily.  At 5 foot 4 inches both missed the first jump, but both cleared
it at the second trial.  And now for the tug of war.  Both had
accomplished the utmost he had ever hitherto achieved, and it remained
to be seen whether the excitement of the occasion would assist either or
each to excel himself.  Shute came to grief altogether at 5 foot 4½
inches, and again, to our dismay, Catherall bounded over the bar at his
first effort.  Shute's friends were in despair, and if that hero had
been a nervous fellow he might have been the same.  But he was a very
cool fish, and instead of losing his nerve, sat down on the grass and
tightened the lace of his shoe.  Then he slowly rose to his feet and
faced his task.  At that moment I forgot all about the three-legged
race, and gave my whole heart up to the issue of this jump.  He started
to run at last, slow at first, but gathering pace for his final leap.
Amid breathless silence he sprang forward and reached the bar, and
then--then he coolly pulled up and walked back again.  This looked bad;
but better to pull up in time than spoil his chance.  He kept us waiting
an age before he was ready to start again, but at last he turned for his
last effort.  We could tell long before he got to the bar that this
time, at any rate, he was going to jump, whether he missed or no.  Jump
he did, and, to our unbounded delight, just cleared the bar--so narrowly
that it almost shook as he skimmed over it.  That was the end of the
high jump; for though both attempted the 5 foot 5 inches, neither
accomplished it, and the contest was declared to be a dead heat.

After this several unimportant races followed, which I need hardly
describe.  Number 12 on the list was getting near, and I was beginning
to feel a queer, hungry sort of sensation which I didn't exactly like.
However, the mile was to be run before our turn came, and that would
give me time to recover.

For this race we had many of us looked with a curious interest, on
account of the new boy, of whom I have spoken, being one of the
competitors in it.  He didn't look a likely sort of fellow to win a
race, certainly, for he was slightly bow-legged and thick-set, and what
seemed to us a much more ominous sign, was not even arrayed in flannels,
but in an ordinary white shirt and light cloth trousers.  However, he
took his place very confidently at the starting-post, together with
three rivals, wearing respectively black, red, and yellow for their
colours.

The start for a mile race is not such a headlong affair as for a hundred
yards, and consequently at the word "Off!" there was comparatively
little excitement among us spectators.

Yellow went to the front almost immediately, with red and black close
behind, while the new boy seemed to confirm our unfavourable impression
by keeping considerably in the rear.  The mile was divided into three
laps round the field, and at the end of the first the positions of the
four were the same as at starting.  But it was soon evident yellow was
not destined to continue his lead, for before the half distance was
accomplished, red and black, who all along had been neck and neck, were
up to him and past him, and by the end of the lap the new boy had also
overtaken him.

And now we became considerably more interested in the progress of this
new boy, who, it suddenly occurred to us, seemed to be going very
easily, which was more than could be said of red, who was dropping a
little to the rear of black.  A big boy near me said, "That fellow's got
the wind of a balloon," and I immediately began to think he was not far
wrong.  For in this third lap, when two of the others were slacking
pace, and when the third was only holding his own, the new boy freshened
up remarkably.  We could watch him crawl up gradually nearer and nearer
to red, till a shout proclaimed him to be second in the running.  But
black was still well ahead, and in the short space left, as the big boy
near me said, "He could hardly collar his man."

But see!  The fellow is positively beginning to tear along!  He seems
fresher than when he started.  "Look out.  Black!" shout twenty voices.
All very well to say, "Look out!"  Black is used up, and certainly
cannot respond to this tremendous spurt.  Thirty yards from home the new
boy is up to his man, and before the winning-post is reached he is a
clear ten yards ahead.

"Bellows did it," said the big boy; "look at his chest"; and then for
the first time I noticed where the secret of this hero's triumph lay.

But, horrors! the next race is Number 12, and Slipshaw and I scuttle off
as hard as we can go, to get ready.

How miserable I felt then!  I hated athletic sports, and detested
"three-legged races."  As we emerged from the tent, we and the other two
couples, ambling along on our respective three legs, a shout of laughter
greeted our appearance.  I, for one, didn't see anything to laugh at,
just then.

"Adams," said Slipshaw, as we reached the starting-place, "take it easy,
old man, and mind you don't go over."

"All right," said I, feeling very much inclined to go over at that
instant.  Then that awful starter began his little speech.

"Are you ready?" he asked.

"Not at all," inwardly ejaculated I.

"Off!" he cried; and almost before I knew where I was, Slipshaw and I
were hopping along on our three legs amid the cheers of the crowd.

"Steady!" said he, as I stepped out rather _too_ fast.

Alas! we were last.  The other two couples were pounding along ahead at
a wonderful pace.

"Steady!" growled Slipshaw again, as I began to try to run, and nearly
capsized him.

You may laugh, reader, but it was no joke, that three-legged race.  The
others ahead of us showed no signs of flagging; they were going hard,
one couple close at the heels of the other, and we a full five yards
behind.  I was giving one despairing thought to the pots and prizes in
the tent, when a great roar of laughter almost made me forget which foot
to put forward.

What could it be?--and Slipshaw was laughing too!

"Steady, now," he said, "and come along!"

The laughter continued, and looking before me, I suddenly detected its
cause.  The leading couple in a moment of over-confidence had attempted
to go too fast, and had come on their noses on the path, and the second
couple, too close behind them, had not had time to avoid the obstacle,
but had plunged headlong on to the top of them!  It was all right now!
Slipshaw and I trotted triumphantly past the prostrate heap, and after
all won our prize!  You may fancy I was too excited to think of much
else after that, except indeed the hurdle race, which was most exciting,
and won most cleverly by Catherall, who, though he came to grief at the
last hurdle, was able to pick himself up in time to rush in and win the
race by a neck from the new boy, whom we found to be almost as good at
jumping as he was at running.

Then followed a two-mile race--rather dull to watch--and with that the
sports were at an end.

Need I say how proudly Slipshaw and I marched up arm-in-arm to receive
the prize for our race, which consisted of a bat for me and a telescope
for my companion?--or how the new boy was cheered?--or how Shute and
Catherall were applauded?

Before I left Parkhurst I was an old hand at athletic sports, but I
don't think I ever thought any of them so interesting as the day on
which Slipshaw and I, with our legs tied together, came in first in the
three-legged race!



CHAPTER EIGHT.

THE SNEAK.

Sneak!  It's an ugly name, but not ugly enough, believe me, for the
animal it describes.

Like his namesake, the snake, he may be a showy enough looking fellow at
first sight, he may have the knack of wriggling himself into your
acquaintance, and his rattle may amuse you for a time, but wait till he
turns and stings you!

I am at a loss how to describe in a few words what I--and, I expect,
most of us--mean when we talk of a sneak.  He is a mixture of so many
detestable qualities.  There is a large amount of cowardice in his
constitution, and a similar quantity of jealousy; and then there are
certain proportions of falsehood, ingratitude, malice, and officiousness
to complete his ugly anatomy, to say nothing of hypocrisy and self-
conceit.  When all these amiable ingredients are compounded together, we
have our model sneak.

How we detest the fellow! how our toes tingle when he comes our way! how
readily we go a mile round to avoid him! how we hope we may never be
like _him_!

Let me tell you of one we had at our school.  Any one who did not know
Jerry would have said to himself, "That's a pleasant enough sort of
fellow."  For so he seemed.  With a knack of turning up everywhere, and
at all times, he would at first strike the stranger as only an extremely
sociable fellow, who occasionally failed to see he wasn't as welcome as
one would think he deserved to be.  But wait a little.  Presently he'd
make up to you, and become very friendly.  In your pleasure at finding
some one to talk to after coming away from home to a new and lonely
place, you will, in the innocence of your heart, grow confidential, and
tell him all your secrets.  You will perhaps tell him to whom your
sister is engaged; how much pocket-money your father allows you.  You'll
show him a likeness of the little cousin you are over head and ears in
love with, and tell him about the cake your old nurse has packed up
among the schoolbooks in your trunk.  He takes the greatest interest in
the narration; you feel quite happy to have had a good talk about the
dear home, and you go to bed to dream of your little sweetheart and your
new friend.

In the morning, when you wake, there is laughter going on in the beds
round you.  As you sit up and rub your eyes, and wonder where you are--
it's all so different from home--you hear one boy call out to another--

"I say, Tom, don't you wish you had a nurse to make you cakes?"

That somehow seems pointed at you, though addressed to another, for all
the other boys look round at you and grin.

"Wouldn't I?" replies the Tom appealed to.  "Only when a chap's in love,
you know, he's no good at cakes."

"Cakes!" "in love!"  They must be making fun of you; but however do they
know so much about you?  Listen!  "If _I_ had a sister, I'd take care
_she_ didn't go and marry a butter-man, Jack, wouldn't you?"

It must be meant for you; for you had told Jerry the evening before that
your sister was going to marry a provision merchant!  Then all of a
sudden it flashes upon you.  You have been betrayed!  The secrets you
have whispered in private have become the property of the entire school;
and the friend you fancied so genial and sympathising has made your
open-hearted frankness the subject of a blackguard jest, and exposed you
to all the agony of schoolboy ridicule!

With quivering lips and flushed face, half shame, half anger, you dash
beneath the clothes, and wish the floor would open beneath you.  When
the getting-up bell sounds, you slink into your clothes amid the titters
of your companions.  It is weeks before you hear the end of your nurse,
your pocket money, your sister, and your sweetheart; and for you all the
little pleasure of your first term at school has gone.

But what of Jerry?  He comes to you in the morning as if nothing had
happened, with a "How are you, old fellow?"

You are so indignant you can't speak; all you are able to do is to glare
in scorn and anger.

"Afraid you're not well," remarks the sneak; "change of scene, you know.
I hope you'll soon be better."

Just as he is going you manage, though almost bursting with the effort,
to stammer out--"What do you mean by telling tales of me to all the
fellows?"  He looks perplexed, as if at a loss for your meaning.  "Tell
tales of you?" says he.  "I don't know what you mean, old chap."

"Yes, you do.  How did they all know all about me this morning, if you
hadn't told them?"

Then, as if your meaning suddenly dawned upon him, he breaks into a
forced laugh, and exclaims--

"Oh, the chaff between Tom and Jack!  I was awfully angry with Jack for
beginning it--awfully angry.  We happened to be talking last night, you
know, about home, and I just mentioned what you had told me, never
thinking the fellow would be such a cad as to let it out."

You are so much taken aback at the impudence of the fellow, that you let
him walk away without another word.  If you have derived no other
advantage from your first day at school, you have at least learned to
know the character of Jerry.  And you find it out better as you go on.

If you quarrel with him, and threaten him with condign punishment, he
will report you to the doctor, and you'll get an imposition.  If you sit
up beyond hours reading, he'll contrive to let the monitors know, and
your book will be confiscated; if you happen to be "spinning a yarn"
with a chum in your study, you will generally find, if you open the door
suddenly, that he is not very far from the keyhole; if you get up a
party to partake of a smuggled supper in the dormitory, he will conduct
a master to the scene, and get you into a row.  There's no secret so
deadly he won't get hold of; nothing you want kept quiet that he won't
spread all round the school.  In fact, there's scarcely anything he does
not put his finger into, and everything he puts his finger into he
spoils.

If, in a weak moment of benevolence, you take him back into your
confidence and friendship, no one will be more humble and forgiving and
affable; but he will just use your new favour as a weapon for paying
back old grudges, and sorely will you repent your folly.

In fact, there is only one place for Jerry--that place is Coventry.
That city is famous for one sneak already.  Let Jerry keep him company.
There he can tell tales, and peep and listen and wriggle to his heart's
content.  He'll please himself, and do no one any harm.

A sneak has not always the plea of self-interest for his meanness.
Often enough his tale-bearing or his mischief-making can not only do his
victims incalculable harm, but cannot do him any possible good.

What good did the snake in the fable expect who, having been rescued,
and warmed and restored to life by the merciful woodcutter, turned on
his deliverer and stung him?  No wonder the good fellow knocked him on
the head!  I knew another sneak once who seemed to make a regular
profession of this amiable propensity.  He seemed to consider his path
in life was to detect and inform on whatever, to his small mind, seemed
a culpable offence.  In the middle of school, all of a sudden his raspy
voice would lift itself up in ejaculations like these, addressed to the
master,--

"Please, sir," (he always prefaced his remarks with "Please, sir"),
"Please, sir, Tom Cobb's eating an apple!"

"Please, sir, Jenkins has made a blot!"

"Please, sir, Allen junior is cutting his name on the desk!"

Perhaps the indignant Allen junior would here take occasion to
acknowledge his sense of this attention by a private kick under the
desk.  Then it would be--

"All right, Joe Allen; _I'll sneak of you_, you see if I don't!"

No one could do it better.

Amiable little pet, how we all loved him!

Sneaking seems to be a sort of disease with some people.  There's no
other way of accounting for it.  It sometimes seems as if the mere sight
of happiness or success in others is the signal for its breaking out.
As we have said, its two leading motives are cowardice and jealousy.
Just as the cur will wait till the big dog has passed by, and then,
slinking up behind, give a surreptitious snap at his heels, so the
sneak, instead of standing face to face with his rival, and instead of
entering into fair competition with him, creeps up unobserved and
inflicts his wound on the sly.

Thus it has been with all traitors and spies and deserters and mischief-
makers since the world began.  What a list one could give of the sneaks
of history, beginning at that arch-serpent who marred the happiness of
Eden, down to some of the informers and renegades of the present day!

Boys cannot be too early on their guard against sneaking habits.  No
truly English boy, we are glad to think, is likely to fall into them;
still, even among our own acquaintance, it is sad to think how many
there are who are not wholly free from the reproach.

The child in the nursery who begins to tell tales to his mother of his
little brothers and sisters will, if not corrected, grow up to be just
such another sneak as Jerry; and Jerry, unless he cures himself of his
vice, will become a mere odious meddler and scandalmonger in society,
and may arrive at the unenviable distinction of being the most detested
man of his generation.

Every disease has its cure.  Be honest, be brave, be kind, and have
always a good conscience, and you _cannot_ be a sneak.



CHAPTER NINE.

THE SULKY BOY.

We all know him.  He might be a good-looking fellow, perhaps, if it
weren't for the scowl over his eyes and the everlasting pout about his
lips.  He skulks about with his hands in his pockets, and his head hung
down.  We all make room for him, and give him a wide berth; no one is
anxious to be chosen upon the same side with him at chevy, or to get the
desk next his in school.  It's a fact we are all afraid of him, though
we all despise him.  He makes everybody unhappy, by being miserable
himself for no reason at all.

Sometimes, indeed, he can be jolly enough--when he chooses.  No one
could tell at such times that there was anything queer about him; but
then all of a sudden he shows in his true colours (and dingy enough
colours they are), and then it is all up with enjoyment till he takes
himself off, which he generally does before long.

All this is very sad; and if I say a word or two about sulkiness now, it
will be in the hope of inducing my readers to give no encouragement to
so ugly a vice.

There are two ways of showing anger, when one is unfortunate enough to
be under the necessity of being angry.  You can't always help it.  Some
people are never put out.  However much you rile them, they are always
good-humoured, always cool, always friendly.  You might as well try to
talk the sun behind a cloud as to get them in a rage.  Happy the few who
have this art!  They always get the best of it, they always win the
greatest respect, they always are the least likely people for any one to
quarrel with.

I don't count these among the two classes of angry people, because they
are not angry.  But angry people are generally either in a rage or in
the sulks.  Neither is pleasant to meet, yet for my own part I would
sooner have to do with the fellow in the rage.  There's no deception
about him; he's angry, and he lets you know it; he's got a grievance,
and he blurts out what it is; he hits straight out from the shoulder,
and you know what you've to expect.  With such a one it is generally
soon all over.  Just as the April shower, sharp enough while it lasts,
gives place in time to the sun, so Will Hothead generally gets all right
as soon as he has let the steam off; and when he shakes hands and makes
it up, you are pretty sure he thinks none the worse of you, and bears no
malice.

Don't imagine I'm trying to justify exhibitions of temper.  Far from it.
I say every boy who can't control his temper has yet to learn one of
the greatest lessons of life.  What I want to show is that even passion,
bad as it is, is not so bad as sulkiness.

For just consider what a miserable sort of boy this Tom Sulks, that we
all of us know, is.  Why, almost before he could speak he had learned to
pout.  If a toy was denied him, he neither bellowed like his little
brother nor raved like his little sister, but toddled off and sulked in
a corner all day long.  When he grew a little older, if he was not
allowed to play in the garden because it was damp, he refused to play in
the nursery, he refused to come down to the dining-room, he refused to
say his prayers at bedtime.  When he was old enough to go to school, he
would either play marbles the way he was used to (which was the wrong
way), or not at all.  If found fault with for not knowing his lesson, he
pushed his books from him, and endured to be stood in the corner, or
punished some other way, rather than learn his task.  The vice only
became worse and worse as time went on, and to-day Tom is an odious
fellow.  Look at him playing at cricket.  He steps across the wickets to
hit at a ball, but, instead, stops it with his foot.  "How's that,
umpire?" cries the bowler.  "Out, leg before," is the answer.

Tom still keeps his place.

"Out, do you hear, leg before?"

"It wasn't!" growls Tom.

"The umpire gives it out," is the unanswerable reply.

Thereupon Tom's face clouds over, his eyebrows gather, and his lips
shape themselves into a pout, as he drops his bat and walks from the
wicket without a word.  No one takes any notice of him, for the event is
too common, alas, to occasion surprise.  We know what his sulks mean.
No one will get a word from him for hours, perhaps a day; no attempts at
conciliation will tempt him back to the game, no friendly talk will
chase the cloud from his face.  There he goes, slouching up the
playground into the house, and he will skulk upstairs to his study and
slam the door, and that's all we shall see of Tom till suppertime.

Once, I remember, young Jim Friendly, a new boy, tried hard to coax Tom
back into good humour.  They had been having a match at something, I
forget what, and Jim happened to say that something Tom did was against
the rules.  Tom, as usual, grew sulky and walked off.

"What, you aren't going in?" said Jim, disconcerted.  No answer.  "I
didn't mean to offend you, old fellow; you may be right, after all."  No
answer.  "I beg your pardon, Tom.  I wouldn't have said it if I thought
you'd have minded."  No answer.  "Don't be angry with a fellow, I didn't
mean--"

No answer.  And so Jim went on apologising, as if he had been all in the
wrong and the other all in the right, and getting no word in reply, only
the same scowl and uncompromising sullenness.  "I'll take jolly good
care not to stroke that fellow the wrong way again," said Jim,
afterwards; "and if I should, I won't waste my time in stroking him the
right way."

Just fancy what sort of man such a fellow as Tom is likely to turn out.
Is he likely to have many friends?  Unless he can get a few of his own
sort, I'm afraid he'll be rather badly off in that respect.  And then,
oh, horrors! fancy half a dozen Tom Sulks together!  What a happy family
they would be!  When Tom goes to business, he had better make up his
mind to start a concern of his own, for I'm afraid he would have some
difficulty in getting a partner, or, at any rate, keeping one.  I could
quite fancy some important question arising where Tom and his partner
might hold different views.  Tom insists he's right, the partner insists
he's right.  Tom consequently stays away for a week from the office,
during which the poor partner has to manage as best he can.

Whatever Tom will do about marrying I don't know; and when he is
married, what his wife will do, I know still less--it's no use
speculating on such a matter.  But now, letting Tom be, let us inquire
whether the sulky boy is more to be blamed than pitied.  That he is an
odious, disagreeable fellow, there is no doubt.  But perhaps it's not
_all_ his own fault.  Some boys are of duller natures than others.  The
high-spirited, healthy, sanguine fellow will flare up at a moment's
notice, and let fly without stopping to think twice of the injury done
him, while the dull boy is altogether slower in his movements: words
don't come to his lips so quickly, or thoughts don't rush into his mind
as promptly as in others; he is like the snail who, when offended,
shrinks back into its shell, leaving nothing but a hard, unyielding
exterior to mark his displeasure.  A great many boys are sulky because
they have not the boldness to be anything else; and a great many others
are so because to their small minds it is the grandest way of displaying
their wrath.  If only they could see how ridiculous they are!

I once knew two boys who for some time had been firm friends at school.
By some unlucky chance a misunderstanding occurred which interrupted
this friendship, and the grievance was, or appeared to be, so sore, that
neither boy would speak to the other.  Well, this went on for no less
than six months, and became the talk of the whole school.  These silly
boys, however, were so convinced of the sublimity of their respective
conducts that they never observed that every one was laughing at them.
Daily they passed one another, with eyes averted and noses high in the
air; daily they fed their memories with the recollection of their smart.
For six months never a word passed between them.  Then came the summer
holidays, in the course of which it suddenly occurred to both these
boys, being not altogether senseless boys, that after all they were
making themselves rather ridiculous.  And the more they thought of it,
the more ashamed of themselves they grew, till at last one sat down and
wrote,--

"Dear Dick, I'm sorry I offended you; make it up," to which epistle
came, by return post, a reply,--

"Dear Bob, _I'm_ sorry _I_ offended you; let's be friends."

And the first day of next term these two met and shook hands, and
laughed, and owned what fools they had both been.

A great many of the faults of this life come from the lack of a sense of
humour.  Certainly, if sulky boys had more of it, they would be inclined
to follow the example of these two.

But, although there is a great deal about the sulky boy that merits pity
rather than blame, there is much that deserves merciless censure.  Why
should one boy, by a whim of selfish resentment, mar the pleasure, not
only of those with whom he has his quarrel, but with every one else he
comes in contact with?  "One dead fly," the proverb says, "makes the
apothecary's ointment unsavoury"; and one sulky boy, in like manner, may
destroy the harmony of a whole school.  Isn't it enough, if you must be
disagreeable, to confine your disagreeableness to those for whom it is
meant, without lugging a dozen other harmless fellows into the shadow of
it?  Do you really think so much of your own importance as to imagine
all the world will be interested in your quarrel with Smith, because he
insisted a thing was tweedledum and you insisted it was tweedledee?  Or,
if you have the grace to confine your sulkiness to Smith alone, for his
private benefit, do you imagine you will convince him of the error of
his ways by shutting yourself up and never looking or speaking to him?

It used to be a matter of frequent debate at school what ought to be
done to Tom Sulks.

"Kick him," said some.  "Laugh at him," said others.  "Send him to
Coventry," put in a third.  "Lecture him," advised others.  "Let him
alone," said the rest.

And this, after all, is the best advice.  If a sulky fellow won't come
round of his own accord, no kicks, or laughs, or snubs, or lectures will
bring him.

Surely none of the readers of this chapter are sulky boys!  It is not to
be expected you will get through life without being put out--that is
sure to happen; and then you've three courses open to you: either to
take it like a man and a Christian, not rendering evil for evil, not
carried away by revengeful impulse, but bearing what can honourably be
borne with a good grace; and for the rest, if action is necessary,
righting yourself without malice or vindictiveness; or else you can fly
into a rage, and slog out blindly in wild passion; or you can sulk like
a cur in a corner, heeded by no one, yet disliked by all, and without a
friend--not even yourself.

You will know which of the three best becomes a British boy.  Be
assured, that which worst becomes him is _sulking_.



CHAPTER TEN.

THE EASY-GOING BOY.

It is a common complaint in these degenerate days that we live harder
than our fathers did.  Whatever we do we rush at.  We bolt our food, and
run for the train; we jump out of it before it has stopped, and reach
the school door just as the bell rings; we "cram" for our examinations,
and "spurt" for our prizes.  We have no time to read books, so we
scuttle through the reviews, and consider ourselves up in the subject;
we cut short our letters home, and have no patience to sit and hear a
long story out.  We race off with a chum for a week's holiday, and
consider we have dawdled unless we have covered our thirty miles a day,
and can name as visited a string of sights, mountains, lakes, and
valleys a full yard long.

If such charges are just (and they are, we fear, not wholly unfounded),
it is at least a satisfaction to know that there is one brilliant
exception to the rule, and that is in the person of Master Ned Easy.

Whatever other folk do, _he_ has no notion of hurrying himself.  Some
one once said of him that he was a fellow who looked as if he'd been
born with his hands in his pockets.  He takes his time about everything
he does.  If the breakfast bell rings before he is dressed, then--well,
breakfast must wait.  If breakfast is over before he has well begun,
then everybody else must wait while he, in a leisurely way, polishes off
his viands.  In the classes, his is sure to be the last paper to be
handed up; and when the boys are dismissed, he saunters forth to the
playground in the rear of all the others.  When he is one of a fishing-
party, and everybody but he is ready, he keeps them all waiting till
their patience is completely exhausted, while he gets together his
tackle, laces his boots, and selects his flies.

"Come on! look alive!" is the cry that is for ever being hurled at him,
"All serene, old fellow; what's the hurry?" is his invariable reply.

I well remember the first time I made Ned's acquaintance, and I will
recall the incident, as giving a fair specimen of the fellow and his
peculiarity.

It was a big cricket match, the afternoon was far advanced, the light
was getting uncertain, and time was almost up.  Our school's ninth
wicket had fallen, and yet there were five runs to get to win, which we
could just do, if our last man in was quick.

"Now, Ned!" calls out our captain, coming up to the tent; "look sharp
in."

Ned coolly sat down on the bench in our tent and proceeded to put on a
pad.

"Never mind about that! there's no time," said our captain impatiently,
"and they are bowling slow."

"Oh, it won't take a minute," says Ned, discovering he had been putting
the pad on upside down, and proceeding to undo it.  We stood round in
feverish impatience, and the minute consumed in putting on those
miserable leg-fenders seemed like a year.

Ned himself, however, did not seem in the least flurried by our
excitement.

"Pity they don't make these things fasten with springs instead of
straps," he observed, by way of genial conversation.

Oh, how we chafed and fumed!

"_Will_ you look sharp, if you're going to play at all?" howls our
captain.

"All _right_, old chap; I can't be quicker than I am; where are the
gloves?"

The gloves are brought like lightning, but not like lightning put on.
No, the india-rubber gauntlets must needs be drawn with the greatest
care and deliberation over his fingers, and even then require a good
deal of shifting to render them comfortable.  Then he was actually (I
believe) going to take them off in order to roll up his shirt sleeves,
had not two of us performed that office for him with a rapidity which
astonished him.

"Upon my word, this is too bad," says our captain, flinging down the bat
he was holding, and stamping with vexation.  "We might as well give the
whole thing up!"

"I'm awfully sorry," drawled Ned, in an injured tone; "but how could I
help it?  I'm ready now."

"Ready!  I should hope you were.  Off you cut now; it only wants five
minutes to the time."

He starts to go, but turns before he has well left us, and says--

"Oh, I say, Jim, lend us your bat, will you?  This one is sprung, and
one of the--"

"Here you are," we shout, running to him with a dozen bats at
once--"only look sharp."

"I only want one," he says.  "Let me see this; no, this will do.
Thanks, old man," and off he saunters again.

The other side is lying comfortably on the grass, very well satisfied at
the delay which every moment adds to their chance of victory.  What
centuries Ned appears to be taking in strolling up to the wickets!

"I wish I was behind him with a red-hot poker," says one; "I'd make him
trot!"

"Not a bit of it," growls our captain; "Ned would want more than that to
start him."

Look at him now, getting "middle" as if he'd the whole afternoon before
him!  And that done, he slowly and deliberately taps the end of his bat
on the place till we almost yell with rage.

"It's no use now!" groans our captain in absolute despair; and so,
indeed, we and our smiling adversaries all thought.

"Play!" cries the bowler.

"Wait a bit," says the aggravating Ned, dipping his hands in the
sawdust! "now!"

The ball comes at last, and Ned lets fly.  It is a grand hit; the ball
comes whizzing right past where we stand, and with delight as great as
our previous agony we cheer till we are hoarse.

Three runs are added to our score, and now we only want one more to
equal our opponents, and two to win; but we shall never do it in the
time, unless fortune favours us strangely.  For see, it is "over," and
the fielders will consume half of the remaining two minutes in changing
their position.

Then again "play" is called.

Would you believe it?  Ned calls out for "middle" again at the new
wicket, and repeats the same pottering operation when he has got it.
"Well, if ever _I_ saw--"

What our captain is about to say no one ever hears, for at that moment
the ball is delivered, and Ned blocks it dead.

There is just time for one ball more, and on that all our hopes depend.

It comes, and Ned bangs at it!  It's a run!  No, it isn't! yes it is!
The fielder has missed it.  Hurrah! we are equal!

Actually they are running another!  They won't do it.  Up comes the ball
to the wicket-keeper, and forward darts Ned's bat over the crease.

"How's that, umpire?" cries the wicket-keeper.

"Not out!"

"Time's up!"

Oh, how we cheer!  How we rush forward and shoulder Ned home to the
tent.  Never was such a close shave of a match!

Ned himself by no means shares in the general excitement.

"Why, what a hurry you fellows were in!" he says.  "Look here, George,
I'll show you now what I meant about the springs on the pads."

Now you will understand what a very aggravating fellow this Ned Easy
was; and yet he generally managed to come off best in the end.  He
generally managed to scrape in at the finish of whatever he undertook.

I am certain that if he were a prisoner of war _let_ out on parole, with
a pledge to return in one hour or suffer death, he would turn up cool
and comfortable on the sixtieth tick of the sixtieth minute of that
hour, and look quite surprised at the men who were loading their muskets
for his execution.

But some day the chances are he will be late in earnest, and then he
will have to repent in a hurry of his bad speed.

A fellow who is easy-going about his time is generally easy-going about
his friends, his money, and his morals.

Not that Ned is the sort of fellow to turn out a rascal exactly.  He has
not the energy, even if he had the inclination.  A rascal, to be at all
successful, must be brisk, and an observer of times and seasons, and
that is altogether out of Ned's line.  No; he'll be careless about what
he does, and about what people think of him; he will lend a sovereign
with as little idea of getting it back as he has of returning the pound
he himself had borrowed; he will think nothing of keeping a friend
waiting half a day; neither will he take offence if his own good nature
is drawn on to an unlimited extent.

He is, after his fashion, an observer of the golden rule, for although
he is constantly annoying and exasperating people by his easy-going
ways, he is never afflicted if others do _to him_ as he does to them.
He goes through life with the notion that every one is as complaisant
and comfortable as himself.  "Easy-going-ness" (if one may coin a word
for the occasion) is, many people would say, a combination of
selfishness and stupidity, but I think such people judge rather too
hardly of Ned and his compeers.  It's all very well for some of us, who
perhaps are of an active turn of mind, to talk about curing oneself of
this fault; but perhaps, if we knew all, we should find that it would be
about as easy as for a fair-complexioned person to make himself dark.
Ned's disposition is due more to his constitution than his upbringing,
and those who are blindly intolerant of his ways do him a wrong.  I'm
sure he himself wishes he were as smart as some boys he sees, but he
can't be, and you might just as well try to lash an elephant into a
gallop as Ned into a flurry.

It is generally found that what he does he does well, which in a measure
makes up for the length of time he takes in doing it; he is good-
natured, brave, harmless, and cheery, and has lots of friends, whom he
allows full liberty both to abuse and laugh at him (and what can friends
want more?) and for the rest, he's neither vicious nor an idiot; and if
nobody were worse than he is, the world would perhaps be rather better
than it is.

An artificial "easy-going-ness" is undoubtedly a vice.  It's a forgery,
however, easily detected, and generally brings its own punishment.  I
advise none of my readers to try it on.  If they are naturally energetic
and smart, they have a much better chance of rising in the world than
Ned has; but let them, when they laugh at Ned and abuse him, remember
the fable of the hare and the tortoise.

I must just tell one more story of Ned in conclusion.

One night our whole school was startled by an alarm of "Fire!"  We
sprang from our beds, and, without waiting to dress, rushed to the
quarter from which the cry had proceeded.  It was only too true; a barn
at one end of the buildings was in flames, and there seemed every
prospect of the school itself catching fire.

We hurried back in a panic towards the staircase leading to the front
door, and in doing so discovered Ned was not with us.

One of us darted off to the dormitory, where he lay in bed sound asleep.

A rough shake roused him.

"What's the row?" he drawled, stretching himself.

"Get up quick, Ned; there's a fire!"

"Where?" asked Ned, without stirring.

"In the doctor's wing."

The doctor's wing was that farthest removed from our dormitories.

Ned yawned.

"Then it couldn't possibly reach here for half an hour.  Call us again
in twenty minutes, Ben, there's a good fellow!"



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

THE BOY WHO IS "NEVER WRONG."

One might fancy at the first blush, that such a boy is one to be envied,
admired, and caressed above all others.  Never wrong!  What would not
some of us give to have the same said of us?  Aren't _we_ always
blundering and losing our way and making asses of ourselves every day of
our lives?  What wonder then if to us a being who is "never wrong"
should appear almost superhuman in his glory?

But, so far from being the noble, delightful creature one would expect,
the boy I am speaking of is an odious fellow, and as ridiculous as he is
odious, and I will tell you why.

The principal reason is, because he requires us to believe, on his own
unaided testimony, that he is the infallible being he professes to be;
and the second and hardly less important reason is, that, so far from
being always right, he is as often, if not oftener, wrong than other
people; in short, he's a hum!

"Never wrong," indeed!  If all the British Association were to declare
as much of any one man, we should hardly be inclined to swallow it; but
when our sole authority in the matter is Master Timothy Told-you-so
himself, it becomes a joke, and a very poor joke too.

Let us just take stock of Timothy for a minute or two, to explain what
we mean.

He's in class, and the lesson is history.  He does not look happy, but
of course that can't be because he doesn't know the lesson.  Timothy not
know a lesson indeed!

"Timothy," says the master, "tell me in whose reign the Reformation was
introduced into England, will you?"

"James the First," replies Timothy.

"Next boy?"

"Henry the Eighth."

"Right; go up."

"Oh, sir," says Timothy, "that's what I meant; _I mistook the name_ for
a moment!"  And he goes down with the air of an injured and resigned
boy.

In the geography class which follows Tim has another opportunity of
displaying his learning.

"On what river does Berlin stand?" is the question.

Tim hums and haws.  "On the--oh--the--the, on the--er--the--"

"Next boy?"

"Berlin is on the Spree, sir."

"Ah, of course!  It slipped me," mutters Tim with a thoughtful frown.
"Any one knows Berlin is on the Spree!"  And down he goes again, as if
it were the common lot of all clever boys.

Arithmetic ensues.  "Tell me, Timothy, if a man earns four shillings and
sixpence halfpenny a day, how much does he make in a week of six days?"

This enormous problem Tim takes due time to cogitate.  Of course he
could tell you straight off if he chose; but as it is the practice to
work out sums in the head, he condescends to the common prejudice.  At
length the oracle speaks.

"One pound three and two pence halfpenny."

"Quite wrong; what do you make it, Edward?"

"One pound four."

"Wrong.  Next?"

"One pound seven and threepence."

"That's right."

"Oh yes, to be sure!" exclaims Tim, with the gesture of one who clutches
at the very words of his own lips uttered by another; "of course,
_that's what I meant_!"

"Timothy," says the master, gravely, "if you meant it, why did you not
say it?"

Why not, indeed?  That is one of the very few questions, reader, in all
this world's philosophy which Timothy is unable to answer.

Of course every one laughs at Timothy, but that does not afflict him.
So fortified is he in the assurance of his own infallibility, that the
scorn of the ignorant is to him but as the rippling of water at the base
of a lighthouse.

Do not mistake me, Tim is not a dunce.  For every question he answers
wrongly, perhaps he answers half a dozen correctly.  If he chose to take
his stand on his general proficiency, he would pass for a fairly clever
fellow.  But that will by no means satisfy him.  He will never admit
himself beaten.  There is always some trivial accident, some unforeseen
coincidence, without which his success would have been certain and
recognised; but which, as it happens, slightly interfere with his
triumph.

It is the same in games as in the class-room.  If he is beaten in a
race, it is because he has slipped in starting; if he is clean bowled
first ball at cricket, it is because there was a lump in the grass just
where the ball pitched; if he lets the enemy's halfback pass him at
football, it is because he made sure Perkins had collared him--
otherwise, of course, he would have won the race, made top score at the
wickets, and saved his goal.  As it happens, he does neither.

There is a touch of dishonesty in this, though perhaps Tim does not
intend it.  Why cannot he own he is "out of it" now and then?  His
fellows would respect him far more and laugh at him far less; he would
gain far more than he lost, besides having the satisfaction of knowing
he had not tried to deceive anybody.  But I sometimes think, when Tim
makes his absurd excuses, he really believes what he says; just as the
ostrich, when he buries his head in the sand, really believes he is
hidden from the sight of his pursuers.

It is natural in human nature not to relish the constant admission of
error or failure.  Who of us is not glad to feel at times (even if we do
not say it) that "it's not our fault"?  The person who is always making
little of himself, and never admitting what small merit he might fairly
claim, is pretty much the same sort of deception as Tim, and we despise
him almost as much.  We would all of us, in fact (and what wonder?) like
to be "always right," and perhaps our tendency is to let the wish become
father to the thought rather too often.

But to return to Timothy.  Nothing, of course, could astonish him;
nothing was ever news to him; nothing could evoke his applause.  "Tim,"
perhaps some one would say, "do you know old Grinder (the head master)
is going to be married, and we are to get a week extra holiday?"

"Ah," says Tim, to whom this is all news, "I always thought there was
something of the kind up.  For my own part, I thought we should get a
fortnight extra."

"Buck made a good jump yesterday, Tim," says another.  "Five feet and
half an inch."

"Sure it wasn't three-quarters of an inch?" is Tim's provoking answer.

Of all irritating things, perhaps the most irritating is to have your
big bundle of news calmly opened and emptied, and its contents
appropriated without scruple or acknowledgment.

Tim this very day has the gratification of amazing half the school with
the news of Dr Grinder's approaching marriage and the consequent extra
holidays, and of seeing the enthusiastic astonishment of others to whom
he retails the latest achievement of the athletic Buck.

But he did not always come off so easily.  Once he was made the victim
of a joke which, in any one less self-satisfied, might have effectually
checked his foolish propensity.  It was a wet day, and the boys were all
assembled in the big play-room, not knowing exactly what to do, and
ready for the first bit of fun which might turn up.

"Couldn't somebody draw Tim out?" one of us whispered.

The idea caught like wildfire, and after a brief pause Tidswell, the
monitor, said, amid the hushed attention of the company--

"By the way, Tim, wasn't that a queer account of the sea-serpent in the
paper the other day?"

"Awfully queer," replied the unsuspecting Tim; "I didn't know you had
seen it."

"Fancy a beast a mile and a half long from head to tail!"

"It's a good size," said Tim, "but nothing out of the common for a sea-
serpent, you know."

"Now I come to think of it, though," said Tidswell, "it didn't say that
the _serpent_ was a mile and a half long; it was a mile and a half from
the ship when it was seen, wasn't that it?"

"Yes, a mile and a half from the ship.  I _thought_ you were drawing the
long bow in saying it was so big as all that."

"They saw it a mile and a half off, and just fancy feeling its breath at
that distance?"

"I'm not astonished at that," said Tim, "for all those beasts have
enormous lungs."

"How absurd of me!  I should have said it seemed to all appearances
lifeless when they saw it," said Tidswell.

"Yes; dead, in fact," put in Tim, getting into difficulties.

"And then suddenly it stood erect on its tail, and shot forward towards
the vessel."

"Shows the strength of their backs.  I couldn't help thinking that when
I saw the account."

"What am I talking about?" exclaimed Tidswell, hastily correcting
himself; "it was the ship stood in towards the monster and shot at him."

"Ah, yes; so it was.  I made the same mistake myself, see.  Yes, they
fired a broadside at him."

"No; only one shot at his head."

"That was all.  Isn't that what you said?"

"And then he turned over in the water--"

"Dead as a leg of mutton!" put in Tim.

"No; the shot missed him, and he wasn't touched."

"No.  I meant they all thought he was as dead as a leg of mutton; but he
was not so much as grazed."

All this while the amusement of the listeners had been growing gradually
beyond control, and at this point smothered explosions of laughter from
one and another fell on Tim's ears, like the dropping of musketry fire.
But he did not guess its meaning, and continued turning towards
Tidswell, and waiting for the conclusion of the story.

"And the last they saw of him," resumed that worthy, his voice quailing
with the exertion to keep it grave and composed--"the last they saw of
him was, he was spinning away at the rate of twenty knots an hour, with
his tail in his mouth, in the direction of the North Pole."

"I fancied it was only eighteen knots an hour," put in Tim seriously.

Another moment, and the laughter would assuredly burst upon him.

"Not in the account I saw.  What paper did you see it in, Tim?"

"Eh?  Why, the same as you," replied Tim hurriedly, beginning to suspect
the crimson faces of his comrades meant something more than admiration
of his wisdom.  "Where did you get the tale from?  I forget."

"I got the tale out of my head--like the serpent, you humbug!" roared
Tidswell; and for the next five minutes Tim sat on his stool of
repentance, amid the yells of laughter with which his companions hailed
his discomfiture.

When silence was restored, of course he tried to explain that "he knew
all along it was a joke, and only wanted to see how far he could gammon
the fellows, and fancied he succeeded," and presently quitted the room,
an injured but by no means humiliated boy.

One last word.  Timothy and his friends are amusing up to one point, and
detestable up to another point; but when they come to you in the hour of
your deepest sorrow and distress, and, with bland smile, say to you, "I
told you so!" they are beyond all endurance, and you hope for nothing
more devoutly than that you may never see their odious faces again.

The best cure possible for Tim is a homoeopathic one.  Find some other
boy equally conceited, equally foolish, equally unscrupulous, and set
him at Tim.  I will undertake to say that--unless the two devour one
another down to the very tips of their tails, like the famous Kilkenny
cats--they will bring one another to reason, and perhaps modesty, in
double-quick time.

The great and wise Newton once said of himself that, so far from knowing
all things, he seemed to himself to be but as a boy gathering pebbles on
the seashore, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before
him.

Newton was, in his way, almost as fine a fellow as Timothy Told-you-so,
and if Timothy would but stoop to have more of Newton's spirit, he might
in time come to possess an atom or two of Newton's sense.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

THE UNTIDY BOY.

Look at him!  You could tell he was an untidy fellow at a single glance.
One of his bootlaces is hanging loose, and the band of his scarf has
slipped up above his collar.  Though it is a fine day, his trouser legs
are splashed up to the knee; and as for a parting to his hair, you might
as well expect an Indian jungle to be combed.  His hands are all over
ink, and the sticky marks about his mouth tell their own tale.  In
short, Jack Sloven is a dirty boy, and is anything but a credit to the
school he belongs to.

I wish you could see his school books.  The pages look like well-used
drum parchments, and I am certain Jack must often find it hard to
decipher the words upon them.  His exercises look as if they had been
left out in an ink shower, and the very pen he uses is generally wet
with ink up to the very tip of the handle, which, by the way, he usually
nibbles when he's nothing better to do.  Who shall describe his desk?
It is generally understood that a schoolboy's desk is the receptacle for
a moderately miscellaneous assortment of articles, but Jack's seemed
like a great pie, into which everything under the sun was crammed and
stored up.  The lid never shut; but if you were to open it, its contents
would astonish you as much as the contents of that wonderful pie in the
nursery rhyme astonished the king when he lifted the crust.

There were books, papers, hooks, balls, worms, stale sandwiches,
photographs, toffee, birds' eggs, keys, money, knives, cherry stones,
silkworms, marbles, pencils, handkerchiefs, tarts, gum, sleeve links,
and walnut shells.  Any one venturesome enough to take a header through
these might succeed in reaching the layer of last year's apple peel
below, or in penetrating to the crumb heaps in the bottom corners; but
few there were who possessed that amount of boldness.  Of course, Jack
had no notion of what his worldly goods consisted.  He had a way of
shying things into his desk and forgetting them; and only when it became
so full that the lid stood nearly wide open did he apprehend the
necessity of a "clear-out."

But if there was ever anything more awful to behold than Jack's desk, it
was one of these "clear-outs."  The event generally got wind when it was
about to happen, and never failed to create a sensation in the school.
All who had a right took care to be present at the ceremony, and I do
believe if Jack had had the sense to issue reserved seat tickets, he
might have made a nice thing out of it.  At any rate, he made a nice
thing out of that desk.

Quite indifferent to our presence and laughter, he began leisurely to
take out its contents and spread them in glorious array upon the floor,
with a view (as he was kind enough to explain to some one who asked him)
"to sort them up."  The books and papers went in a pile by themselves;
all loose papers were thrust inside the covers of the books; and all
books without covers were jammed into all the covers without books that
seemed likely to fit.  Then all the pens and pencils were put into a
pencil case, and if any happened to be too long, they were broken to the
required shortness.  This being satisfactorily done, Jack used next to
turn his attention to the miscellaneous articles of food of which he
found himself possessed.  The sandwiches, if not more than a week old,
he either ate or generously offered to some of us; the toffee he put
into his pocket, and the tarts (if the jam were not already dried up) he
put aside for private consumption hereafter.  The shells, stones, peel,
etcetera, he heaped up in one place on the floor, and trusted to
Providence to dispose of them.  The fish-hooks and baits, the birds'
eggs that were not broken, the silkworms, the photographs, pencils,
knives, and other articles of use or ornament, he sorted carefully, and
then put back into the desk.  By this time it would occur to him he had
been long enough over this business, so he shovelled the books and
papers in anyhow, and anything else which happened still to be left out,
and then finding that the lid would shut within an inch, he sighed with
the relief of a man who has well discharged a painful duty.

How was it to be expected Jack could ever find anything he wanted?
Sometimes he would sit grubbing in his desk, or among his books, to find
a certain exercise or paper for half an hour, and finally, when
everything was upside down, he would remember he had it in his waistcoat
pocket, from the recesses of which he produced it crumpled, greasy, and
almost illegible.  On Sundays he always had a hunt for his gloves; and
at the end of the term, when he undertook his own packing, he generally
first of all contrived to pack up his keys in the very bottom of the
trunk, and so had to take everything out before he could get them, and
then when (with the aid of some dozen of us sitting on the top of the
unfortunate receptacle, to cram down the jumble of things inside to a
shutting point) he had succeeded in triumphantly turning the lock, it
was a wonder if he had not to open and unpack it all again to find his
straps.

As to his dress, I can safely say that, though Jack always had good
clothes, he always looked much less respectable than other boys whose
parents could not afford them anything but common material.  Not only
did he lose buttons, and drop grease over his coat and trousers, but he
never folded or brushed them, or had them mended in time, as a tidy boy
would have done.  We were quite ashamed to be seen walking with him
sometimes, he looked so disreputable, but no reproofs or persuasions
could induce him to take more pains about his appearance.

"A place for everything, and everything in its place," was a lesson Jack
could not learn; the result was constant and incalculable trouble.  If
people could only realise the amount of time lost by untidiness, I think
they would regard the fault with positive horror.  Why, Jack Sloven, at
the very mildest computation, must have lost half an hour a day.  Half
an hour a day, at the end of the year, makes a clear working fortnight
to the bad, so that in twenty-five years, if he goes on as he has begun,
he will have one year of which it will take him all his time to give an
account.

But not only does untidiness waste time, and render the person who falls
into it a disreputable member of society, but it seriously endangers his
success in life.  Jack Sloven was naturally a clever fellow.  When he
could find his books, he made good use of them; none of us could come up
to him in translations, and he had the knack of always understanding
what he read.  If it had not been for this wretched habit, he might have
got prizes at school, and still higher honours in after life; but as it
was, he always came to grief.  The notes he had made on his work were
never to be found; he spent more time in collecting his materials than
he had to spare for using them; most of his work had to be scrambled
through at the last moment, and was accordingly imperfect.  If Jack goes
to business, he has a very poor chance of getting on, for untidiness and
business will no more go together than oil and water.  Few things are
more against a man in business than untidiness; people fight shy of him.
If his dress is untidy, his letters slovenly, his habits unpunctual,
and his accounts confused, he will be regarded as a man not reliable,
and not to be trusted, and people will refuse to transact with him.  If
he has a house of his own, he will never succeed in keeping his servants
long, for they--so they say--have quite enough to do without unnecessary
work.  In fact, I don't see how Jack is to get on at all unless he mends
his ways.

Is it possible for an untidy boy to become tidy?  Try.  And if at first
you don't succeed--try again.  You are sure to succeed if you stick to
it.  Don't aim at apple-pie order--everything in lavender--never to be
touched, and all that sort of thing.  That's as bad as the boy who once
possessed a desk, which he would never use, for fear of marking the
blotting-paper, and breaking the paper bands round the envelopes.

No; if you can get into the way of always putting the book you read back
into its place on the shelf, and the paper you want where you will be
certain to find it again--if you encourage a jealousy of rubbish, and a
horror of dirt--if you take to heart the proverb I quoted just now, "A
place for everything, and everything in its place"--you will be as tidy
as you ever need be; and Jack Sloven's troubles and misfortunes will
never be yours.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

THE SCAPEGRACE.

The fellow's always in a row!  No matter what it's about; no matter
whose fault it is; no matter how he tried to keep out of it; it's always
the same--he's in a row.

To fancy him not in a row would involve a flight of imagination of which
we, at any rate, are utterly incapable.  He has lived in an atmosphere
of rows--rows in the nursery, rows at the dinner table, rows in the
schoolroom, rows in the playground.  His hands are like leather, so
often have they been caned; his ears are past all feeling, so often have
they been boxed; and solitary confinement, impositions, the corner, and
the head master's study, have all lost their horrors for him, so often
has he had to endure them.

Sam Scamp of our school was, without exception, the unluckiest fellow I
ever came across.  It was the practice in the case of all ordinary
offences for the masters of the lower forms to deal out their own
retribution, but special cases were always reserved for a higher court--
the head master's study.  Hither the culprits were conducted in awful
state and impeached; here they heard judgment pronounced, and felt
sentence executed.  It was an awful tribunal, that head master's study!
"All hope abandon, ye who enter here," was the motto--if not written, at
least clearly implied--over the door.  The mere mention of the place was
enough to make one's flesh creep.  Yet, somehow or other, Sam Scamp, was
always finding himself there.  He must have abandoned hope once a week
at least during his school life, and before he left school I am certain
he must have worn that awful carpet threadbare, for all _his_ offences
were special offences.  When half a dozen boys had spent one afternoon
in throwing stones over a certain wall, the stone which broke the
doctor's conservatory window was, as might be expected, Sam's.  On the
occasion of the memorable battle of the dormitories--that famous fight
in which fifteen boys of Ward's dormitory, arrayed in their nightgowns
and armed with bolsters, engaged at dead of night in mortal combat with
twenty boys of Johnson's dormitory for the possession of a certain new
boy who had arrived that day with a trunk full of cakes--when the
monitors appeared on the scene, one boy, and one only, was captured, and
that was Sam.  When a dozen fellows had been copying off one another,
the exercise book from which the discovery was made would be sure to be
Sam's; and when, in the temporary absence of the master, the schoolroom
became transformed into a bear-garden--as it sometimes will--if suddenly
the door were to open the figure which would inevitably fall on the
master's eye would be that of Sam, dancing a hornpipe in the middle of
the floor, shouting at the top of his voice, and covered from head to
foot with the dust he had himself kicked up.

On such occasions he was led off to the doctor's study.  I happened to
be there once when he was brought up, and so had an opportunity of
witnessing a scene which, if new to me, must have been very familiar to
my unfortunate schoolfellow.  (By the way, the reason _I_ was in the
doctor's study was merely to return a book he had lent me, mind that,
reader!)

"What, here again, Samuel?" said the doctor, recognising his too-well-
known visitor.

"I'm very sorry, sir," says Sam, humbly.  "I can't make out how it is.
I try all I know--I do indeed--but somehow I'm always in trouble."

"You are," replies the doctor.  "What is it about this time, Mr
Wardlaw?"

"I can tell you, sir--" begins Sam eagerly.

"Be silent, sir!  Well, Mr Wardlaw?"

"The boy has been very disrespectful, sir.  When I came into the class-
room this morning and opened my desk, I found it contained a guinea-pig
and two white mice, who had--"

Here the unlucky Sam, after a desperate effort, in the course of which
he has almost choked himself with a handkerchief, bursts into a laugh.

"What do you mean, sir?" thunders the doctor.

"Oh, sir, I couldn't help it--really I couldn't; I would rather have
choked than do it--it's just like me!"

And he looks so distressed and humble that the doctor turns from him,
and invites Mr Wardlaw to resume his impeachment.

"I have only to say that this boy, on being charged with the deed,
confessed to having done it."

"Oh yes, sir, that's all right--I did it; I'm very sorry; somehow I
can't make out how it is I'm so bad," says Sam, with the air of one
suffering from the strain of a constant anxiety.

"Don't talk nonsense, sir!" says the doctor, sternly; "you can make it
out as well as I can."

"Shall I hold out my hand, sir?" says Sam, who by this time has a good
idea of the routine of practice pursued in such interviews.

"No," says the doctor.  "Leave him here, Mr Wardlaw; and you," adds he,
for the first time remembering that I was present--"you can go."

So we departed, leaving Sam shivering and shaking in the middle of the
carpet.  It was half an hour before he rejoined his schoolfellows, and
this time his hands were not sore.  But somehow he managed to avoid
getting into scrapes for a good deal longer than usual.  But there is no
resisting the inevitable.  He did in due time find himself in another
row; and then he suddenly vanished from our midst, for he had been
expelled.

Now, with regard to Sam and boys like him, it is of course only natural
to hold them up as examples to others.  No boy can be a scamp and not
suffer for it some way or other; and as to saying it's one's misfortune
rather than one's fault that it is so, that is as ridiculous as to say,
when you choose to walk north, that it is your misfortune you are not
walking south.

But, in excuse for Sam, we must say that he was by no means the worst
boy in our school, though he did get into the most rows, and was finally
expelled in disgrace.  If he had been deceitful or selfish, he would
probably have escaped oftener than he did; but he never denied his
faults or told tales of others.  We who knew him generally found him
good-natured and jovial; he looked upon himself as a far more desperate
character than we ourselves did, and once I remember he solemnly charged
me to take warning by his evil fate.

Still, you see, Sam sinned once too often.  Even though his crimes were
never more serious than putting guinea-pigs into the master's desk, yet
that sort of conduct time after time is not to be tolerated in any
school.  The example set by a mischievous boy to his fellows is not
good; and if his scrapes are winked at always, the time will come when
others will be encouraged to follow in his steps, and behave badly too.
Sam, no doubt, deserved the punishment he got; and because one bad boy
who is punished is no worse than a dozen bad boys who get off, that does
not make him out a good boy, or a boy more hardly treated than he
merited.

Scapegraces are boys who, being mischievously inclined, are constantly
transgressing the line between right and wrong.  Up to a certain point,
a boy of good spirits and fond of his joke, is as jolly a boy as one
could desire; but when his good spirits break the bounds of order, and
his jokes interfere with necessary authority, then it is time for him to
be reminded nothing ought to be carried too far in this world.

One last word about scapegraces.  Don't, like Sam, get it into your
heads that you are destined to get into scrapes, and that therefore it
is no use trying to keep out of them.  That would be a proof of nothing
but your silliness.  I can't tell you how it was Sam's stone always
broke the window, or why the master's eye always fell on him when there
was a row going on; but I can tell you this, that if Sam hadn't thrown
the stone, the window would not have been broken; and that if he had
behaved well when the master's eye was turned away, he would not have
cut a poor figure when the door was opened.  Some boys make a boast of
the number of scrapes they have been in, and fondly imagine themselves
heroes in proportion to the number of times they have been flogged.
Well, if it pleases them to think so, by all means let them indulge the
fancy; but we can at least promise them this--nobody else thinks so!



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

THE UNORIGINAL BOY.

It takes one a long time to discover that there is something wanting in
the character of Ebenezer Ditto; and it takes a longer time still to
make out exactly what that something is.  He's an ordinary-looking and
ordinarily-behaved boy.  There's nothing amiss with the cut of his
coat--it's neither extra grand nor extra shabby; there's nothing queer
about his voice--he doesn't stammer and he doesn't squeak; there's
nothing remarkable about his conversation or his actions--he's not a
dunce, though he's not clever; he's not a scamp, though he's not goody;
he never offends any one, though he never becomes great friends with any
one.  What is it makes us not take to Ebenezer?  Why is it, on the
whole, we rather despise him, and feel annoyed when in his society?
For, it is the truth, we _don't_ much care about him.

Well, the answer to this question may be, as I have said, not very
readily discovered; but if you watch Master Ditto carefully, and make up
your mind, you will get at the bottom of the mystery, you will find that
it is this very "ordinary" manner about him to which you object.  The
fellow is dull--he is unoriginal.

You feel sometimes as if you would give a sovereign to see Ebenezer
stand on his head, by way of variety.  It annoys you when he sits there
with his eyes on you, smiling when you smile, frowning when you frown,
talking about the weather when you talk about the weather, and when you
whistle "Nancy Lee" whistling his everlasting "Grandfather's Clock."  It
is a relief, by the way, even to hear him whistle a different tune, for
it is about the only thing in which he does take an independent course.
But, if truth were known, it would come out he only knows this one tune,
and that is the reason.  He has not originality enough in him to learn a
second.

It _is_ an annoying thing to be copied and imitated by any one, most of
all by a fellow one's own age.  We can understand the little child
imitating its father, and we enjoy seeing what capers it sometimes cuts
in the attempt, but there's nothing either interesting or amusing in the
way Ebenezer goes on.  When, for instance, by a sudden inspiration of
genius, you take it into your head to shy a slice of apple across the
room at Jack Sleepy just while he is in the act of yawning, with his
mouth open wide enough to let a wheelbarrow down, it is not pleasant
that immediately afterwards some one at your side should hurl a walnut
at the same person and wound him seriously in the eye.  Besides making a
row, it takes away from the fun of your achievement, and makes the whole
affair more than a joke.  Or, being asked, let us suppose, to name your
favourite hero in fiction, you are careful to select a somewhat out-of-
the-way name, and reply, "Sidney Carton."  You are rather pleased to
think you have thereby not only named some one whom no one else is
likely to hit upon, but also you have delicately let your master see you
have lately read a very good book.  It is rather vexing when Ebenezer
replies to the same question, "Sidney Carton," in a knowing sort of
manner, although you are positive he has never read the _Tale of Two
Cities_, and doesn't even know that Dickens was its author.  Of course,
your distinction in the matter has gone, and if your answer is judged
the best, you only get half the credit you deserve.  Or, to take one
more example, supposing one day, being utterly sick of Ebenezer's
society, and longing to get a little time by yourself, you decline the
tempting offer of a cricket match in which you know he also is likely to
play.  You mean to read this afternoon, you say.  Well, isn't it too bad
when next moment you hear that wretched Ebenezer saying, in answer to
the same invitation, "Very sorry, but I mean to read this afternoon,"
and then have him come and sit down on a bench beside you with his book?
And the worst of it is, you know if you now change your mind and go in
for the match after all, he will change _his_ mind and do the same.

The most aggravating thing about unoriginal fellows is that you cannot
well get in a rage with them, for if you find fault with them, you find
fault with yourselves.

"What a young ass you are not to play in the match!" you say to
Ebenezer, hardly able to contain yourself.

"Why aren't _you_ playing in it?" he replies.

"Oh!  I've some particular reading I want to do," you say.

"So have I," replies he.

You cannot say, "You have no business to read when cricket is going on,"
nor can you say, "What do you mean by it?"

Clearly, if _you_ do it, you are not the person to say _he_ shall not.

I doubt if Ebenezer knows to what an extent he carries this trick of
his.  It is so natural for him to do as he sees others do that he fails
to see how his actions appear in the same light as that in which others
see them.  Sometimes, indeed, he appears to be conscious of following
his copy pretty closely, for we catch him trying to make some slight
variation which will prevent it being said he does exactly the same.
For instance, if you give a little select supper party in your study to
two friends off roast potatoes and sardines, he will probably have three
friends to breakfast off eggs and bread and jam; or if you hang up the
portraits of your father and sister over your mantelpiece, he will
suspend the likenesses of his mother and brother on his wall.  He
generally, you will find, tries to improve on you--which, of course, is
not always hard to do.  But sometimes he comes to grief in the attempt,
as happened in the case of his wonderful "hanging shelves."  Ted Hammer,
quite a mechanical genius, had made to himself a set of these shelves,
which for neatness, simplicity, and usefulness were the marvel of the
school.  Of course Ebby got to know of it, and was unhappy till he could
cap it with something finer still.  So he made all sorts of excuses for
coming constantly into Ted's room and inspecting his work of art, till
at last he felt quite sure he could make a set for himself.  So he
started to manufacture a set, twice the size, and with double the number
of shelves.  In due time he had it done and suspended on his wall, and
it seemed as if Ted's nose was completely out of joint, for Ebby's
shelves held not only his books, but his jam-pots and tumblers, and all
sorts of odds and ends besides.  But that very night there was a crash
in his room, the like of which had never been heard before.  We all
rushed to the place.  There were books, jam pots, ink pots, tumblers, in
one glorious state of smash on the floor, and the unlucky shelves on the
top of them; for Ebenezer had driven the small nail that supported the
structure into nothing better than ordinary loose plaster.  The only
wonder was how the thing stayed up two minutes.  So Ted Hammer's nose
was not out of joint after all.

This reminds us of the story of the two rival shoemakers, who lived
opposite one another, and always strove each to outdo the other in every
branch of their trade.  One day, one of the two painted over his door
the highly appropriate Latin motto, "Mens conscia recti."  His neighbour
gnashed his teeth, of course, and vowed to improve on the inscription.
And next day, when cobbler Number 1 and the world awoke, they beheld
painted in huge characters over the fellow's shop-front the startling
announcement, "_Men's and Women's_ conscia recti."

It is the easiest thing possible (where the operator is not quite such a
fool as this shoemaker) to improve on another's production.  When some
genius brings out a machine over the plans of which he has spent half an
anxious lifetime, a dozen copyists will in a year have out a dozen
"improved machines," each of them better than the first one, and
therefore each helping to ruin the inventor.  He had all the labour and
all the knowledge.  All the others did was to add a few slight
improvements, for which they get all the credit due to the man without
whom they would not have had an idea.  This is, alas! very common, and
cannot be avoided.

You can't make a law against one boy imitating another, or even against
his stepping into the credit due to you.

It is as easy to be unoriginal as it is hard at times to be original.
Everybody falls into the fault more or less.  Why is it we can never
find anything to begin a conversation with except the weather?
Somebody, I suppose, began on that topic once.  Why is it we always wear
the shaped coats that everybody else does?  Somebody must have
astonished the world by setting the fashion in the first instance.

There is a touch of envy in Ebenezer, I'm afraid; but the kindest way of
accounting for his annoying ways is to believe he is not clever.  No
more he is.  If he were, he would at least see how ridiculous he
sometimes makes himself.  The original boys, on the other hand, _are_
clever, and they are quick in their ideas, which Ebenezer is not.  The
great thing in originality is to have your idea out before any one else.
As long as it's in your head and no one knows of it, you are no better
off than the unoriginal many; but give your idea a shape and a name, and
you are one of the original few.  And the glory of being one of them is
that you are sure to have one or two of Ebenezer's sort at your tail!

Unoriginality is more a failing than a crime.  Sometimes it may lead to
actions which do real injury to another, but injury is rarely intended.
It is stupidity more than anything else.  But there is a point at which
unoriginality may become a sin.  Every boy has in him the power to say
"Yes" or "No," and he has also the conscience in him which tells him
when he ought to say the one or the other.  Now, when every one is
saying "Yes" to a thing about which your conscience demands that you
shall say "No," it becomes your positive duty for once in your life to
be original, and say it.

After all, most of us are medium sort of fellows.  We are not geniuses,
and we trust we are not dolts.  The best thing we can do is to look out
that we don't lose all our originality while knocking through this
world.  The more we can keep of it, the more good we shall do; and if we
find we have enough of it to entitle us to some "followers," let us see
to it we turn them out, if anything, better fellows than they were when
first they "jumped up behind."



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

THE DUFFER.

What school is without its duffer, I wonder?  Of course, none of us
answer to the name, but we all know somebody who does, and it's a
curious thing nobody ever thoroughly dislikes a duffer.  Why?  Well, one
reason may be that there's nothing as a rule objectionable about such
fellows, and another is that we are always ready enough to forgive one
who makes us laugh; but I have an idea that the best reason why we are
all so tolerant of duffers is that we are able to remind ourselves, when
laughing at them, how very much the reverse of duffers we are ourselves.

However that may be, we had a glorious duffer at our school, who got
himself and us into all sorts of scrapes, and yet was quite a favourite
among his schoolfellows.

Billy Bungle (that was his name) was not by any means an idiot.  He knew
perfectly well that two and two made four, and yet, such a queer chap as
he was, he would take any amount of pains to make five of it.

If there were two ways of doing anything, a right way and a wrong way,
he invariably selected the latter; and if there seemed only one way, and
that the right way, then he invented a wrong one for the occasion.

One day, one of the little boys in the school had a letter telling him
to come home at once.  He was not long in packing up his carpet bag, and
getting the doctor's leave to depart.  But the doctor was unwilling for
such a little helpless fellow as he to undertake the long journey all
alone.  He came down to the playground where we were, and beckoning to
Billy, who happened to be the nearest at hand, said, "Bungle, will you
go with this boy to the station, and see him off by the twelve train to
X--?  Here is the money to get his ticket; and carry his bag for him,
there's a man."

Billy readily accepted the commission, and we watched him proudly
marching from the playground with his small charge on one side and the
carpet bag on the other.  The station was a mile off, and it was nearly
one o'clock when he returned home.  We were in class at the time.

"Well, did you see him off?" asked the doctor.

"Yes, sir, all right; we caught an earlier train than the one you said--
at a quarter to," replied Billy, with the tone of a clever man.

"But the quarter to doesn't go to X--.  Didn't I tell you to see him off
by the twelve train?"

"I thought it would be all the better to catch the early one."

"Stupid boy, don't you know that train doesn't _go to_ X--?"

"No one said it didn't, sir," put in Billy, with an injured face.

"Did any one say it did?"

"I didn't hear," said Billy; "shall I go back and ask?"

"That would not be the least use," said the master, too vexed almost to
speak.

Billy stood before him, staring at him, and looking anything but
cheerful.

"I shall have to go down to the station myself," said the doctor.  "You
are the stupidest boy I ever had to do with."

Billy looked resigned; then fumbling in his waistcoat pocket, he pulled
out a bit of blue cardboard.  "Oh, here's the ticket, sir."

"What!  Wasn't it enough to send the poor boy off by a wrong train,
without keeping his ticket?  Go away, sir, this instant, to your room,
and stay there till I give you leave to quit it!"

Billy obeyed, evidently unable to make the affair out.

By dint of telegrams and messengers, the missing boy turned up again;
but it was a long time before Billy was allowed to forget the way he had
"seen him off."

This is just one specimen of our unlucky schoolfellow's blunders.  He
was always in some trouble of the kind.  He had to cease taking lessons
in chemistry, because one time he nearly succeeded in blowing himself
and three or four of us up by mixing certain combustibles together by
mistake; and another time he upset a bottle of sulphuric acid over his
clothes.

He was always very near the bottom of his class, because he _would_
prepare the wrong lessons, or misunderstand the questions asked him.
And yet he was always anxious to get on.  Once, I remember, he
confidentially asked me, if he were to learn Liddell and Scott's Lexicon
by heart, whether I thought he would be able to get the Greek prize?
But he bungled more in the playground than anywhere.  Perhaps it was
because we laughed at him and made him nervous.

It was rarely any one cared to have him on their side at cricket.  He
missed the easiest catches, he got leg before wicket, he stopped still
in the middle of a run to see if he would have time to finish it, and
whenever he did manage to score one he was sure, in his excitement, to
knock down his own wicket with a flourish of his bat.

In football it's no exaggeration to say he was more often on the ground
than the ball itself, and was invariably of more service to the other
side than to his own.  In fact, the possession of him got to be quite a
joke.

"Who's going to win?" asks some one, before a match begins.

"Which side is Billy Bungle on?" is the counter question.

"Oh, he's on our side."

"Then of course the other fellows will win," is the uncomplimentary
conclusion; and Billy, poor boy, who overhears it, half chokes with
wounded feelings, and tucks up his sleeves and goes into the game,
determined for once he will disappoint those who mock at him.  Alas I
scarcely has the ball been kicked off than he gets in the way of
everybody he ought not to get in the way of, and lets the others pass
him; he collars his own men, and kicks the ball towards his own goal,
and falls down just in time to cause half a dozen of his side to tumble
over him, and just as the ball rises, straight as an arrow, to fly over
the enemy's goal, his unlucky head gets in the way and spoils
everything.  No wonder he is in very poor demand as an ally.

Now, the question is, is it altogether Billy's fault he is such a
duffer?  Of course it is, say nineteen out of every twenty of my
readers.  Any one with an ounce of brains and common sense could avoid
such stupid blunders.  But the twentieth is not quite so positive.
"Perhaps it's not altogether Billy's fault," he says.  And I must
confess I am inclined to agree with this.  Of course, a great deal of
his "duffingness" (I believe that's the proper word) is due to his
carelessness.  If he took the trouble to think about what he was doing,
he would never translate a French exercise into Latin, or learn his
arithmetic by heart instead of his history; he would never mix together
(under his nose) two chemicals that would assuredly explode and nearly
blow his head off.  For he has a few brains in that head, which makes
such blunders all the less excusable.  But I am not sure if a good deal
of his bad luck is not due to the merciless way in which he was laughed
at, and called "duffer," and taught to believe that he could no more do
a thing right than a bull could walk through a china-shop without making
a smash.  He got it into his head he was a duffer, and therefore did not
take the pains he might have done.

"What's the use of my bothering?  I'm sure to make a mess of it!"

Fancy a boy saying this to himself at cricket, while a ball is flying
beautifully towards him, an easy catch, even for a duffer.  Do you
suppose he will catch it?  Not he.  He will stand where he is, and put
up his hands, and look another way.  In fact, he won't do his best.  And
why?  Because all of us never expect him to catch it; and if he did, we
should probably call it a "fluke," and laugh at him all the more.  Yes,
it's our fault in a certain measure that Billy is the awful "duffer" he
is.

Sometimes, as in the game of football we have referred to, he does make
up his mind to do his best; but even then the idea that "destiny" is
against him, and that everybody is expecting him to make a fool of
himself, as usual, is enough to make any fellow nervous and a duffer.

However, whatever excuses we may make for Billy, he was undoubtedly a
duffer.  I have named one reason of his bad luck--want of thought--and
another was hurry.  In fact, the two reasons become one, for it was
chiefly because Billy would never give himself time to think that he
made so many mistakes.  All his thinking came after the thing was done.
As soon as the chemicals had blown up, for instance, it entered his head
he had mixed the wrong ingredients, and as soon as the ball was flying
to the wrong goal it occurred to him he had kicked it in a wrong
direction.

And this really brings me to the moral of my discourse.  Don't despair,
if you are a duffer, for you may cure yourself of it, if you will only
_think_ and _take your time_.  If we are not quick-witted, it does not
follow we have no wits, and if we only use them carefully, we shall be
no greater duffers than some of our sharp fellows.

The great philosopher Newton once appeared in the light of a great
duffer.  He had a cat, and that cat had a kitten, and these two
creatures were continually worrying him by scratching at his study door
to be let either in or out.  A brilliant idea occurred to the
philosopher--he would make holes in the bottom of his door through which
they might pass in or out at pleasure without troubling him to get up
and open the door every time.  And thereupon he made a big hole for the
cat and a little hole for the kitten, as if both could not have used the
big hole!

Well, you say, one could fancy Billy Bungle doing a thing like that, but
what an extraordinary error for a philosopher to fall into!  It was, but
the reason in both cases is alike.  Neither thought sufficiently about
what he was doing.  Newton was absorbed with other things, and Billy was
thinking of nothing, and yet both he and Newton were duffers, which goes
to prove that without care any one may belong to that class.

How many men who have begun life as reputed "duffers" have turned out
great men! but you will find that none of them ever did themselves any
good till they had cured themselves of that fault.  That's what you, and
I, and Billy Bungle must all do, boys.

Just two words more about Billy.  We all liked him, as I have said, for
he was imperturbably good-tempered.  He bore no malice for all our
laughing, and now and then, when he was able to see the joke, would
assist in laughing at himself.

And then he never tried to make himself out anything but what he was.
Of all detestable puppies, the duffer who tries to pass himself off for
a clever man is the most intolerable; for nothing will convince him of
his error, and nothing will keep him in his place.  He's about the one
sort of character nobody knows how to deal with, for he sets everybody
else but himself down as duffers.  What can anybody do to such a one?

But there is another extreme.  Billy's great fault was that he was too
ready to believe others who called him a duffer.  Don't take it for
granted you are a duffer because any one tells you so.  Find it out for
yourself, and when you've found it out--"don't be a duffer!"



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

THE DANDY.

Fine feathers make fine birds.  This is a proverb which a great many
people in our country--especially young people--most devoutly believe
in, and they show their belief in a very emphatic way.  They rig
themselves out in the height of the fashion, no matter how ridiculous it
is, or how uncomfortable; they take airs upon themselves which do not
properly belong to them; they try to pass for something finer than they
are, and if they do not end by being laughed at it is no fault of
theirs.

You never saw such a dandy as we had at our school.  He rejoiced in the
name of Frederick Fop, and seemed possessed of the notion that his
dainty person was worthy of the utmost amount of decoration that any one
person could bestow upon it.  No one objects to a fellow having a good
coat and trousers, and a respectable hat; but when it comes to canary-
coloured pantaloons, and cuffs up to the finger ends, and collars as
high as the ears, and a hat as shiny as a looking-glass, the fellow gets
to be rather a nuisance.  Indeed, we had just as much objection to
walking out with Fred Fop as we had with Jack Sloven; one was quite as
unpleasantly conspicuous as the other.

It was often a marvel to some of us how it came to be allowed for a boy
to dress as Fred did.  You should have seen him coming down the stairs
on Sunday, as we were about to start for church, putting on a lavender
glove, and taking a couple of minutes to adjust his hat to the proper
angle on his head.

How he minced along the pavement, dreading to speck his exquisite boots,
and how artlessly he would carry one glove in his hand, in order to show
oil his elegant ring.  His umbrella was the size of an ordinary young
lady's parasol, and as for his collars--of course it was impossible to
turn his head one way or the other with those things sticking up on
either side.  He always insisted on having the inside of the pavement,
in order to avoid the splashing of the cabs; and invariably entered
church last, having occupied a certain time in the porch (so it was
said) to make sure his necktie was properly tied, and that the corner of
his handkerchief was hanging sufficiently far out of his breast-pocket,
and that the expression of his countenance was sufficiently interesting.
Having satisfied himself on these points, he advanced up the aisle in
procession with himself, and scented the whole building in his triumphal
progress.

It is hardly to be wondered at that Master Fop became the victim of all
sorts of practical jokes.  If by any chance one of the fellows should
happen to be pitching water out of the window, it was an extraordinary
coincidence that Fred in his grand hat was nearly always walking
underneath.  Another time, when some of the elder boys were allowed to
attend a grand concert in the village, Fred of course was in his glory,
and took every means to create a sensation by his elaborate toilet.  And
so he did!  For as he sauntered beautifully up the hall to his seat in
front, he was wholly unconscious that a startling label was hanging
gracefully on the back buttons of his coat with this legend inscribed
thereon--

"Look here!  Our noted 50 shilling suit!  A bargain!"

It was not till he went to sit down that he discovered the heartless
joke, and then--but we may as well draw a veil over his confusion.
Suffice it to say he did not enjoy the concert a bit.

But he was by no means cured of his vanity.  No, not even by a
subsequent and still more embarrassing adventure.

Several of the boys, among whom were Fred and Jack Sloven, were one day
down at the river bathing, when a sudden thought seized certain of
Fred's tormentors to play him a very unkind trick.  So while he was
swimming by himself some distance off, they scuttled ashore and made
off, taking with them Jack Sloven dressed up in Fred's clothes, and, of
course, leaving that disreputable young gentleman's garments behind for
the dandy.  They made home as fast as they could, and Jack, as quickly
as possible, divested himself of his unwonted finery, and put on another
of his own suits.  Then the conspirators assembled in the playground
with as many of us as had heard what was going on, and awaited the
return of poor Fred.  He was a long time coming, and before he arrived
the head master and two ladies had appeared on the scene.

But the end came to our suspense at last, and we saw our hero march home
in state.  Such a spectacle you never saw! being rather tall, Sam's
greasy and ink-stained breeches came down only half-way below his knees,
and fitted as tight as gloves.  The elegant wrists, usually shrouded
beneath their snowy cuffs, now stuck out like skewers from two very
short, very tight, and very shabby sleeves.  Fred had not attempted to
don the shirt and collar which had been left for him, and it was pretty
evident by the way he shivered that if any one had unbuttoned the coat
and grimy waistcoat he would not have discovered much more in the shape
of vestments.  But he had Jack's great muddy boots on, and his
disgracefully caved-in hat.  In this guise he had to perambulate the
village, and now, worst of all, he found himself face to face not only
with a whole body of his schoolfellows, but with the doctor and two
ladies!

If the whole scene had not been so ludicrous, one would have felt
sympathy for the poor fellow; as it was, every one burst out laughing
the moment he appeared.  Even the doctor had to turn suddenly and walk
towards the house.

But we heard of the affair again presently; for the doctor always
visited severely any act of unkindness done even in joke, and the
offenders in this case were duly punished.  To his credit be it said,
Fred did not exult over his vindication; the only revenge he took was
when he had arrayed himself once more in his usual faultless get-up.  He
came down to the schoolroom where we were all assembled, and walking up
to Jack Sloven, drawled out in a voice which everybody could hear, "Oh,
you'll find your things in the bath-room--all but your shirt.  I really
couldn't touch _that_, so it's lying on the river bank still, where you
left it!"

There is one peculiarity about dandies.  They are hardly ever persons of
great minds.  When the exquisite, on being asked how on earth he came by
the wonderful necktie he had got on, replied, "Well, you see, I gave my
whole mind to it!" he probably spoke the truth.  But then you know a
mind that exhausts all its energy in the production of a "choker,"
however remarkable, cannot be a great one.

I should be sorry to hurt any one's feelings, but it is nevertheless a
fact that an unhealthy craving after finery is very often a symptom of
something not very far short of idiocy.  I do not mean to say Fred Fop
was an idiot.  He had a certain amount of sense; but he would have had a
vast deal more if he had not given so much of his mind to the decoration
of his person.  And with it all he never succeeded, at school at any
rate, in passing himself off for any one more important than he was.  It
is as much a sign of being no gentleman to over-dress as to dress like a
sloven, but, as in every other case, the secret is to find the golden
mean.  I have often seen working-men dressed in a more gentlemanly way
than certain gorgeous snobs of my acquaintance; not that their clothes
were grander or cost more, but because they were _neat_.  That really is
the secret.  It always seems to me a sign of a man being well dressed
when one never notices how he is dressed at all.  If he were badly
dressed, or if he were over-dressed, one would notice it; and it is a
sure sign of his having hit the happy mean when his dress leaves no
impression on your mind at all.

But I am not going to set up as a tailor, and so I will bring this paper
to a close with this one piece of advice; when there is nothing else
left to think about, then by all means let us give our whole mind to the
cut of our coats.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

THE GROWLER.

Who doesn't know Growler, of our school?  He was a sort of fellow
nothing and nobody could satisfy.  If Growler were a week in an African
desert without a drop of water to drink, and some one were then to come
and offer him a draught, you may depend upon it the fellow would have
something to find fault with.  The rim of the bowl would be too thick,
or there would be a flavour of sand in the water, or the Good Samaritan
who held it to his parched lips wouldn't tilt it up exactly when he
ought to do so.  If his rich uncle were to give him a splendid gold
hunter watch and chain, he would growl because there wasn't a seal
hanging on the latter.  If he were to succeed in getting a third prize,
he'd growl because he had not got the second.  If he got the second,
he'd growl because he had not got the first.  And if he should win the
first prize of all, then he would growl because there was not a higher
one possible.  Was ever such a hopeless fellow to have to deal with!

I dare say you have heard the story of the Scotch elder who, on the
question being raised what service he could render at the church
meetings, replied briskly, "I can always object."  Well, Growler's one
strong point was his talent for objecting, and gallantly he used it.

He was one of those fellows who think a great deal more about the thorn
of the rose than the flower, and who, feeing quite sure that nothing
under the sun is perfect, set themselves to discover the imperfections
in all things.

I remember once a lot of us had planned a most delightful picnic for a
certain holiday.  We were to take two boats some miles up the river to a
certain little island, where we proposed to land and erect a tent.  Each
fellow was to bring some contribution to the picnic, which we were to
partake of with grand ceremony under the willows.  Then we were to have
some music, and generally take it easy.  Afterwards we were to bathe,
and then row some mile or two farther up to the woods, and have a
squirrel hunt; and towards evening, after a picnic tea, drift down with
the stream in time for the nine o'clock bell.  It seemed a perfect plan,
and as we sat and discussed it our spirits rose, and we found ourselves
already enjoying our picnic in prospect.  But presently Growler came
into the room, and as he was to be one of the party, we had to go over
all the plans again to him.  Well, it was too bad!  Not a single detail
in our programme pleased him.

"Row?" he said; "don't we get enough rowing, without having to give up
holidays to it? besides, what's the fun of sitting in a tent, or eating
your food among all the wasps and gnats up in that place?  You surely
aren't going to take that wretched concertina; that'll be enough to give
us the blues, even if it doesn't rain, which it's pretty sure to do.  I
suppose you know the island's about the worst place for bathing--"

"Come, now, old man, it's a first-rate place."

"Well, you may think so; I don't.  In fact, I don't see the fun of
bathing after dinner at all.  You don't expect _me_ to make a fool of
myself hunting squirrels, do you, in those horrid woods?  And you'll
have to have tea, as you call it (though you might as well make one meal
do for both), jolly early if you expect to drift down here by nine.
Why, you won't do it in anything like the time, and fine fun it will be,
sitting like dummies in a boat going at a mile an hour."

This was cheerful, and no amount of argument would do away with our
desirable friend's objections.  The result was, we went, but tried to
alter our programme in some points to please him: But he growled all the
more, and would not enjoy the day himself, nor let us do so; and our
grand picnic, thanks to him, was quite a failure.

It wouldn't have been so bad if the result of Growler's grumblings had
been to give us something better in place of what he wanted us to give
up.  But that is a thing he never did.  He could pick holes to any
extent, but he couldn't fill them up.  There was no scheme or project he
couldn't pull to pieces with the utmost industry, but I never remember
his originating any scheme of his own to take its place.  This was
hardly fair.  If you take something away from a person, and give him
nothing in exchange, it is robbery, and in this respect Growler was an
awful thief.

Isn't it true that if you set yourself to it, you could find fault with
nearly everything?  But in order to do it, you would have to be very
selfish in the first place, and very hard-hearted in the next.  The dog
in the manger is a good type of this happy combination.  He trampled on
the hay that the cows thought so sweet, and wouldn't touch it himself,
and he wouldn't let them touch it either; and that is precisely the
charge to which Growler lays himself open.  Let us hope he is not quite
such a bad sort as this dog.  He had got into a regular habit of
growling, and it would be against his nature altogether to praise
anything cordially.

Supposing Growler to be grown to a man, now; what a desirable creature
he must be!  What a fine man to get on to a committee, or into
parliament!  What a delightful partner to have in business!  Why, he'd
wear out an ordinary man in a month.  What complainings, and
questionings, and disapprovals, and censures would he ever be loading on
the head of his colleagues!--how ready people would be to avoid him and
give him a wide berth!  For, assuredly, if in anything there was to be
found a fault, Growler was the boy to find it.  I remember a fairy tale
about some folk who wanted to find out if a certain lady were a fairy
princess or not; and the way they did it was to lay a pea on the floor
of her room, and cover it with twenty feather beds one on the top of the
other.  Next morning they asked how she slept.

"Not at all," said she, "for there was a dreadful lump in the bed."

Then they knew she must be a fairy!  Perhaps it would be a little too
much to compare Growler with a fairy; but he certainly had a wonderful
knack of discovering peas under the bed; and where there were none to
discover, he found out something else.  Now, you and I, I expect, in
talking of the sun, would speak of it as a glorious light and heat-
giving orb, without which we could none of us get on for a moment.  But
Growler's version of the thing would be quite different.

"A thing full of great ugly spots, that goes scorching up one part of
the earth and leaving another in the cold, and is generally hidden by
clouds from all the rest."

Such is the genial, bright view of things taken by our old schoolmate.

There are two sorts of growlers.  There is the man who honestly attacks
what is really wrong for the sake of making it right, and there is the
man who instinctively grumbles at everything for the mere sake of
growling.  The former class is as useful as the latter is tiresome, and
if we must growl, by all means let us find out some real grievance to
attack.  Grumbling is a habit that grows quickly and with very little
encouragement, and those who go in for it must make up their minds to
have to do with very few friends.  For who would consent to be the
friend of a growler?  It would be as bad as becoming the servant of a
man who kept an electrical machine--he would always be trying it on you!
And he must be content also to find that very few people sympathise
with him.  For when a man is a confirmed grumbler at everything, no one
afflicts himself much about his lamentations, but puts it all down to
his infirmity.

"Poor fellow, his digestion isn't good, or his liver's out of order!"
they will say, and think no more about it.

Growler of our school was an able fellow in his way; and successful,
too, but he wasn't liked.  Some were afraid of him, some detested him,
and most cared very little about him.  I don't suppose he will ever do
much good in the world, for this reason--his influence is so small.  One
would like to know if he is really as unhappy as he would make every one
believe.  I have a notion he is not, but is the victim of a habit which
he has allowed to grow on him till it is past shaking off.  Moral, boys:
When you catch yourselves grumbling, make sure the grievance is a real
one.  If it is, don't be content with grumbling, but follow it up till
the wrong is put right.  But if you find yourself growling merely
because it sounds a fine thing to do, then let growl number one be not
only the first but the last performance of the kind; and no one then
will be able to growl at you.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

THE BULLY.

There are bullies and bullies.  There is the big brother, for instance,
who considers it as much part of his duty to administer an occasional
cuff to his youthful relative, as he does to stroke his own chin for the
first sign of a beard, or to wear his tall hat on Sundays.  That is not
the sort of bullying any one complains of.  Pretty sort of fellows some
of us would have turned out if we hadn't come in for a little wholesome
knocking about in our day!  What's the use of big brothers, we should
like to know, if it's not to chastise youngsters! and what are younger
brothers made for, if they are not to be occasionally "whopped!"

When I first reached a "bullyable" age, I found myself number three of a
set of five boys.  I had looked on in awe at the discipline inflicted by
my eldest brother on number two; I had been a trembling spectator of
scuffles and tears, and pulled ears and sore knuckles, and knew my turn
for the same hardships was coming.  And so it did.  Number one went to
college, and then number two was cock of the walk, and didn't I catch it
then?  The ears that had recently smarted between another's finger and
thumb were now deaf to my lamentations, and the knuckles that I had seen
bruised and sore now played on my poor countenance as if it had been a
tambourine.  It wasn't pleasant while it lasted, of course; but then it
was all in the regular course of things, and had to be grinned at and
borne; and besides it was a splendid training for me, when I came to be
left ruler of the roost with young number four at my mercy.  Poor number
four! he had a hard time of it.  He was a meek sort of fellow, and took
a lot of bullying.  I've a broken-backed lexicon to this day which often
used to fly across the room at his devoted head, and which he as
regularly picked up and handed back to me.

Never was a czar more absolute than I during the brief years of my
supremacy.

But it was monotonous work bullying a fellow who never showed fight; and
one day, in reply to a touching lamentation on his part, I demanded,
"Why don't you say you won't, then, and stick to it?"  Would you believe
it? the ungrateful fellow took me at my word!  Next time I issued a
decree, he made my hair stand on end by shouting, "Shan't!"  I could not
believe my wits; and when he not only refused, but (in accordance with
my own unlucky advice) positively defied me, I was fairly nonplussed!
In vain the lexicon performed its airy flight; in vain my ruler
flourished over his knuckles; in rain I stormed and raged.  No martyr at
the stake was ever more sublimely firm; and from that day my reign was
over.

It was over as far as he was concerned; but as he resolutely declined to
do his duty in knocking about number five, I had to sacrifice myself for
the family good, and take that young scamp in hand too, and as he was
the youngest, he had nothing to do but wait till he grew up, and then--
when he suddenly discovered he was six feet high--he took a turn at
bullying me, who by that time was a married man with a family.

Now, perhaps, this sort of bullying within ordinary bounds does no great
harm.  In our case we almost seemed to like one another the better for
it, though each in his turn rent the air with his howls and
lamentations.  Perhaps, however, we were exceptional boys, and I am not
going to recommend the system.

The dog mother who routs up her little pup from his comfortable nap, and
shakes him with her teeth, and knocks him down and rolls him over and
worries him till he yaps and yelps as if his last day had come, is not
such a bully as the cat who holds a mouse under his paw, and plays with
it and torments it previous to making a meal of it.

In one case the discipline is salutary and serves a good end; in the
other it is sheer cruelty.

Just let me introduce you to a bully of the true sort--one whom we might
call a _professional_ bully--as contrasted with the _amateur_ big-
brother bullies of whom I have been speaking.

Bob Bangs of our school was a big, ill-conditioned, lazy, selfish,
cross-grained sort of fellow.  He was nearly the tallest fellow in the
fifth form, but by no means the strongest.  He was narrow across the
chest, and shaky about the knees, though we youngsters held him too much
in awe to take this into account at the time.  To the big boys of the
sixth form Bob was cringing and snivelling; nothing was too menial, so
only as he could keep in their good graces.  If he had known how, I dare
say he would have blacked their boots or parted their hair; as it was,
he laid himself out to fetch and carry, to go and come just as their
lordships should direct; and their lordships, I have a notion, winked at
one another and gave him plenty to do.

But to us youngsters Bob was wholly different.  For one of us to come so
much as across his path was sufficient provocation to his spite.  Like a
spider in its web, he would waylay and capture the wretched small fry of
our school and haul them away to his den.  There he would screw their
arms and kick them, just for the pleasure of seeing their faces and
hearing their howls.  Generally, indeed, he managed to invent some
pretext for his chastisement.  This one had made a grimace at him across
the room yesterday; that one had spilt some ink on his desk; poor Jack
Flighty had had the cheek to laugh outside his door while he was
reading; or Joe Tyler had bagged his straw hat instead of his own.

One day, I remember, I, a little unfortunate of ten summers, fell into
his awful clutches.

"Come here, you young beggar!"  I heard him call out.

I dared not disobey, and stood before him shaking in my shoes.

"What are you laughing at?" he says.

"I'm not laughing," I said, feeling anything but in the humour for
jocularity.

"Yes, you are, I tell you--take that!" and a smart box on the ear
followed.

I writhed, but tried hard to suppress my ejaculation of pain.

"What's that you called me?" demanded the bully.

"Nothing," I faltered, rubbing my head.

"Yes, you did," he said; "take that for telling a cram, and that for
calling me names!" and suiting the action to the word he bestowed one
cuff and one kick on my unoffending person, each of which I acknowledged
by a howl.

"Now then," said he, "what did you mean by borrowing Tom Groby's
_Gulliver's Travels_ yesterday when you knew I wanted to read it, eh?"

And he caught hold of my hand and gave my arm a suggestive preliminary
screw.

"I didn't," I said.

"Yes, you did," said he, tightening the pressure, so as to make me catch
my under lip in my teeth.  "You knew well enough I was half through it."

"I mean, I _didn't_ borrow it.  I never saw the book," I shrieked, truly
enough too, for this was clearly a case of mistaken identity.

"Yes, you did, for I was told so."

"I didn't; oh, let me go!"  I cried, twisting under the torture; "it
wasn't me!"

"I tell you it was;" another screw, and another dance and howl from me;
"and what's the use of you saying it wasn't?"

"Indeed it wasn't!"  I yelled, for by this time I was on my knees, and
half dead with agony.  "Oh!  You'll break my arm!  Oh!  Oh!"

"Say you took it, then," replied my tormentor.

"It wasn't me," I shrieked.  "Oh!  _Yes it was_!  Let go!"

Then he let go, and catching me by the collar of my coat with one hand,
pulled my ear with the other, saying--

"What do you mean by telling lies, you young cub?"

"I only said I took it," whimpered I, nursing my sore arm, "because you
made me."

"Then you mean to say you didn't, do you?" cried the bully, with another
grab at my hand.

What would have become of me I don't know, had not a sixth-form fellow
come by at that moment, at the sight of whom Master Bangs let go my arm,
smiled benevolently on me and cringingly on him, and then slunk away to
his den, never to find me again within reach of his ten fingers if I
could help it.

It would be hard to say what object Bob had in this conduct.  He
certainly had not much to gain.  Sometimes, indeed, he succeeded in
compelling his victims to empty their pockets to him, and hand over the
little treasures in the way of eatables, penknives, or india-rubber to
which he might take a fancy, but this was comparatively rare.  Nor was
his bullying actuated by the lofty motive of administering wholesome
discipline on his young schoolfellows.  In fact, so far from doing them
good, he made sneaks and cowards of a good many of them, and, as
happened in my case, led them to tell falsehoods in order to escape his
clutches.

I should be sorry to think that Bob Bangs was influenced by sheer spite
and cruelty of heart, or by a wanton delight in witnessing and
contributing to the suffering of others; yet so one was often forced to
believe.  It is bad enough when one fellow stands by and, without
lifting a finger to help, lets another suffer; but when, instead of
that, he actually makes himself the instrument of torture, he is nothing
short of a brute.

Perhaps, however, it would hardly be fair to say that Bob was quite so
bad as this.  We are bound to give the worst characters their due; and
without attempting to excuse or justify a single blow the Bully ever
struck, we must bear in mind this one thing.

There is a certain class of people to whom power becomes a ruling
passion.  Somebody must be made to feel, and somebody must be brought to
acknowledge it.  These people are generally those who have the greatest
possible aversion to enduring oppression in their own persons, or who
have themselves in their time been roughly handled.  They love to see
others quail before them, as they themselves would be ready to quail
before those they hold in awe; and it is no small set-off against their
own terrors to feel themselves in turn objects of terror to others.
People of this sort are of course generally cowards and toadies, and in
bullying they find the fullest gratification of their craving for power.

Bob may sometimes feel a passing pity for the poor little wretch he is
tormenting; but until that poor little wretch consents to knuckle under,
to apologise, to obey, to accuse himself, in the manner Bob selects, he
must not be spared.

Boys who want to understand what real bullying is, should call to mind
that parable about the servant who, having quailed and cringed and
implored before his lord until he was forgiven his huge debt, forthwith
pounced on a poor fellow-servant who happened to owe him a few
shillings, and, deaf to the very entreaties which he himself had but a
minute before used, haled him off to gaol till the last farthing should
be paid.

He was bad enough; but the wolf in Aesop's fable was still worse.  The
poor lamb there owed nothing; it only chanced to be drinking of the same
stream.

"What do you mean by polluting my water?" growls the wolf.

"I am drinking lower down than you," replies the innocent, "and so that
cannot be."

"Never mind, you called me names a year ago."

"Please, sir, a year ago I wasn't born."

"Well, then, it was your father, and it's all the same thing; and,
what's more, you need not think I'm going to be done out of my breakfast
by your talk--so here goes!"  And we all know what became of the poor
lamb.  A gentleman cannot be a bully, and a bully cannot be a gentleman.
By gentleman I mean not the vulgar use of the word.  The rich snob who
keeps his carriages, and counts his income with five or six figures, and
considers that sufficient title to the name, may be, and often is, a
bully.  His servants may lead the lives of dogs, his tradesmen dread the
sound of his voice, and his dependants shake in their shoes before him.
But a gentleman--a man (or boy) of honour, kindliness, modesty, and
sense--could no more be a bully than black could be white.

Bullying is essentially vulgar, and stamps the person who indulges in it
as ill-conditioned and stupid.  He tries to pass off his lack of brains
with bluster, and to make up by tyranny for the contempt which his ill-
bred manners would naturally secure for him.  But he deceives nobody but
himself.  The youngsters tremble before him; but they despise him; in a
year or two they will laugh at him, and after that--thrash him.

Yes; I am sorry to counsel that physic for anybody, but really it is the
only one which can possibly cure the bully.  The time must come when the
little boy will find himself grown up and possessed of a muscle, and
then the bully will find, to his astonishment, that he has tried his art
once too often.

So it was with Bob Bangs.  He found himself on his back one day with a
small army of youngsters executing a war dance round him.  He got
roughly used, poor fellow, and at last changed his tune from threats to
whines, and eventually, with the aid of a few parting kicks, was
permitted to depart in peace.  And he never tried on bullying with us
again, except indeed when he was fortunate enough to get hold of one of
us singly in a lonely comer.  And even then he generally heard of it
afterwards.

But, boys, mind this.  There's nothing more likely than that in your
struggle for independence you will, if victorious, be tempted to become
bullies yourselves.  In your anxiety to "pay out" your old enemy, you
may forget that you are yourselves falling into the very transgression
for which you have chastised him.  That would be sad indeed.  A boy that
can bear malice, and refuse quarter to a fallen foe, is very little
different from a bully himself.

Rather be careful to show yourselves Christians and gentlemen, even in
the way you rid yourselves of bullies.  It is one thing, in self-
defence, to right yourself, and it is another to return evil for evil.
The best revenge you can have is, instead of dancing on his prostrate
body, to set him an example of forbearance and self-control in your own
conduct, which shall point him out a surer road to respect and authority
than all the bullying in the world could ever give him.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

WILLIAM THE ATHELING; OR, THE WRECK OF THE "WHITE SHIP."

The eager crowd thronged the little Norman seaport of Barfleur.  Knights
in armour, gay ladies and merry children mingled in the narrow streets
which led down to the bustling harbour, in which lay at anchor a gay
fleet of ships, decked with pennons and all the marks of festivity and
rejoicing.  One man's name was on every lip, and in expectation of that
man's arrival this brave company lined the seashore and its approaches.
Presently was heard a distant trumpet note, and then a clatter of many
horses.

"He comes!" shouted the crowd.  "Long live our Duke Henry!"  And at the
shout there appeared the royal troop, with King Henry of England at its
head, followed by his sons and daughter and nobles, amid the plaudits of
the loyal crowd.

"All bids fair," said the king to one who was near him, as he rode
slowly towards the harbour; "the sea is calm and the wind is propitious;
an emblem of the happy peace we have concluded with France, and the
prosperous years that he before us."

"Long live Henry of England!" shouted the crowd again.  With that the
troop reached the sunny harbour.

Here ensued all the bustle and confusion of an embarkation.  Baggage and
horses and armour were transferred speedily from the shore to shipboard.
Henry himself inspected the vessel which was to convey him and his
household across the sea, while the loyal Norman crowd pressed round,
eager to bid their liege good speed on his voyage.

The afternoon was advancing, and the order had already been given to
embark, when, through the crowd which thronged King Henry, there
struggled forward a man dressed in sailor guise, who advanced and fell
on one knee before his sovereign.

"My liege," said he, "a boon for me!"

"Who art thou?" inquired the king.

"My lord duke, Stephen, my father, served thy father, William of
Normandy, all his life.  He it was who steered the vessel which carried
the duke to the conquest of England.  Permit me, my lord, a like honour.
See where my `White Ship' waits to receive her captain's noble
sovereign."

Henry looked in the direction pointed, and saw the gallant vessel,
gleaming like silver with its white poop and oars and sails in the sun;
surely as fair a ship as ever crossed the sea.

"Brave son of a brave father," replied the king, "but that my word has
been given, and my baggage is already embarked on another's vessel, thy
request should not have been in vain.  But, to show that I hold thy
father's son worthy of his name, see, I entrust to thee my son William,
heir to my throne, in all confidence that thou wilt conduct him safely
over.  Let him go with thee, while I myself do set sail in the vessel I
had chosen."

Fitz-Stephen bowed low, and the young Prince William, a lad of eighteen
years, stepped forward gaily towards him, and cried--

"Come, comrade! thou shalt find a king's son as good company as his
father.  In token of which, bid thy brave men feast at my charge with as
much to eat and drink as they have a fancy to.  Then, when that is done,
we will start on our merry voyage."

Almost immediately afterwards King Henry embarked, leaving the Prince
William, and two other of his children, Richard and Adela, to follow
that same night in the "White Ship."

"Farewell, my father!" shouted the young prince, as the oars of the
king's vessel struck the water; "perchance I shall be on the farther
side before thee!"

So the king started.

It was late before the merrymakers on board the "White Ship" set their
faces seaward.  The prince himself had honoured the feast, and bidden
every man to fill his cup and drink deep and long.  So when about
midnight they addressed themselves to the voyage, the rowers splashed
wildly with their oars, and the crew pulled at the ropes with unsteady
hands.

Far across the calm waters might have been heard the song and the
laughter of the two hundred voyagers.  In a few hours, thought they, we
shall be across, and then will we renew our feast in England.

"Fitz-Stephen!" cried the prince, flushed with wine himself, and in a
tone of excitement--"Fitz-Stephen, how far say you is my father's ship
before ours?"

"Five leagues," replied the sailor, "or more."

"Then may we not overtake him before the night is past?  You know this
coast; can we not steer closer in, and so gain on them?"

"My lord," said Fitz-Stephen, "there are many sunken rocks on this
coast, which the mariner always avoids by keeping out to sea."

"Talk not to me of rocks on a night when the sea is calm and the wind so
gentle it scarce fills the sails, and the moon so clear we can see a
mile before us!  What say you, my men?  Shall we overtake the king?
Fitz-Stephen," he added, "thou earnest a king's son to-night.  If thou
and thy men can set me on English ground before my father, I will never
sail more, as long as I live, save in thy ship."

The sailor yielded, and turned his helm nearer to the coast, and the
crew, clamouring loudly with excitement, pulled wildly at the oars,
while the prince and the nobles, with song and laughter, made the quiet
night to resound.  So they went for two hours.  Then the prince's sister
Adela, Countess of Perche, stepped up to him timidly, and said--

"My brother, what sound is that, like the roar of distant thunder?"

"It is nothing, my sister; go down again and sleep."

"It sounds like the breaking of wares on the rocks."

"How can that be, when the sea is scarcely ruffled?"

"I fear me we run a risk, sailing so close to shore," said the maiden.
"I myself heard Fitz-Stephen say that the currents ran strong along this
coast of Normandy."

"Be easy, sister; no danger can befall a night like this."

Louder and louder rose the shouting and the revelry.  The rowers sang as
they rowed.  And the knights and nobles, who made merry always when the
prince made merry, sang too.

But all the while the maiden, as she lay, heard the roar of the breakers
sound nearer and nearer, and was ill at ease, fearing some evil.

"Now, my merry men," shouted the prince, "row hard, for the night is
getting on!"

Fitz-Stephen at that instant uttered an exclamation of horror, and
wildly flung round his helm.  There was a sudden roar ahead, and a gleam
of long lines of broken water.

"Pull for your lives!" shouted the captain, "or we shall be on the Ras
de Catte!"

It was too late.  The treacherous current swept them on to the reef.
There was a sudden tossing of the "White Ship," then a great shock as
she struck--then a cry of terror from two hundred lips.

King Henry in his vessel, three leagues away, heard that sudden awful
cry across the still waters.  But little guessed he that it was the
death cry of his own beloved children.

Every man on board the "White Ship" was startled by that shock into
instant sobriety.  The brave Fitz-Stephen left the now useless helm, and
rushed to where the prince, entrusted to his care, was clinging to the
mast of the fast-filling vessel.  With his own hand he cut loose the
small boat which she carried, and by sheer force placed William in it,
and a few of the crew.

"Row for the shore!" he shouted to the men, waving his hand; "lose not
a moment!"

William, stupefied and bewildered, sat motionless and speechless.

The men had already dipped their oars, and the frail boat was already
clear of the sinking vessel, when there fell on the prince's ear the
piercing shriek of a girl.

Looking behind him, he saw his poor sister clinging to the deck of the
doomed ship, and stretching a hand appealingly in the direction of his
boat.

In an instant his senses returned to him.

"Put back, men!" he cried, frantically.

"It is certain death!" cried one of the crew.

"Must William the Atheling order a thing twice?" thundered the prince,
in a tone so terrible, that the men immediately turned and made for the
wreck.

"My sister!" shouted William, as they came under the spot where Adela
clung; "throw yourself into my arms!"

She did so; but, alas! at the same moment, fifty more, in the
desperation of terror, jumped too, and the little boat, with all that
were in her, turned over, and was seen no more.

Then the waters poured over the "White Ship," and with a great plunge
that gallant vessel went down.

With her went down all the souls she carried save three.  One of these
was the brave Fitz-Stephen.  Rising to the surface, he saw the two
others clinging to a spar.  Eagerly he swam towards them.

"Is the prince saved?" he asked.

"We have seen nothing of him," replied they.

"Then woe is me!" exclaimed he, as he turned in the water and sank
beneath it.

Of the other two, one only, a butcher, survived to carry the dreadful
news to England.

For many days, Henry, impatient for his son's arrival, waited in
ignorance of his sad fate.

Then went to him a little child, who, instructed what to say, told him
in his own artless way the whole story; and King Henry the First, so
they say, after he had heard it, was never seen to smile again.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

JOHN PLANTAGENET, THE BOY WHO BROKE HIS FATHER'S HEART.

A youth was pacing restlessly to and fro in a wood bordering on the old
town of Tours, in France.  He was scarcely twenty years of age, and of a
forbidding countenance.  Cruelty and cunning were stamped on his
features, and as he strode aimlessly among the trees, muttering to
himself, and striking often with his sheathed sword at the bushes and
twigs in his path, he seemed to be the victim of an evil passion, with
nothing to make a man love him or desire his acquaintance.

His muttering not unfrequently rose to the pitch of talking aloud, when
one might have heard sentences like these.

"Why should I longer delay?  Am not I John, the son of Henry of England,
a man? and shall I submit to be treated for ever as a child?  Are my
brothers, who have rebelled against their father, to have ah the spoil,
and I, who have remained obedient, to go portionless and penniless?
What means my father's meeting here with the King of France, who has
espoused the cause of Richard, my brother, in his rebellion, if it be
not to yield to the traitor the kingdoms _I_ have earned by my
obedience?  But I will delay no longer.  I have been obedient too long!
Henceforth this sword shall be my obedience!"

And as he spoke he unsheathed his weapon, and struck savagely at the
graceful branch of a fir tree before him, and brought it down crashing
at his feet.  At the same instant there appeared coming towards him a
man of middle age, clad like a soldier, who saluted respectfully the
young prince.

"Whence come you, Ralph Leroche?" inquired John.

"From the meeting of the Kings of France and England."

"And what went forward there?" asked the prince, leading his companion
in among the trees.

"I know only what I am told," said the knight, "for the meeting of your
father and King Philip was secret."

"And what have you been told?" inquired John, impatiently, and with
clouding brows.

"I have been told that the King of France demanded that your father
should do him homage, and should acknowledge your brother Richard as
King of England."

"And what said my father?" broke in John.

"He said that Richard, by his conduct, deserved only the death of a
traitor, but--"

John's brow darkened as he seized Ralph's arm, and ejaculated, "But
what? did he yield?  Speak!"

"But for the sake of peace he would receive him back to the heart which
he by his disobedience had wellnigh broken, and make him heir to his
crown."

"He said so, did he?" almost shouted the prince, his face livid with
fury.

"I am told so by one who knows," replied the other.

"And did he say more?"

"He blessed heaven before them all that he had one son left him who was
true to him, and in whose love he might end the shattered remnant of his
life."

Loud and cruelly laughed Prince John at those words, till the woods
echoed again.  "Is it thus you comfort yourself, my father?" he
exclaimed.  "Ralph," added he, in tones thick with passion, "all my life
till now I served my father, and never failed in my duty to him.  Henry,
my brother, rebelled, and died in his rebellion while I was a child.
Geoffrey rebelled too, and is dead.  Richard for years has been in arms
against his parent.  I, of all his sons, have never lifted hand against
him.  Had not I a right to look for my reward?  Had not I a right to
count upon the crown which my brothers' disobedience had forfeited?  Had
not--"

He stopped, unable from the vehemence of his passion to proceed, and
Ralph Leroche answered calmly: "Obedience is its own reward, and worth
more than a kingdom.  It is not obedience that calculates on profit.
But you know not, prince, what your father may yet have in store for
you."

"Speak not to me of my father," exclaimed John; "I hate him!"

"Heaven forgive you that word!" replied the fearless knight.  "Be
advised, I entreat; and repent--"

"Dotard!" exclaimed the prince, as in blind rage he struck him in the
mouth with his clenched fist.  "Keep thy advice for dogs, and not for
princes!"

How the scene would have ended, one cannot say.  At that moment a
flourish of trumpets raised the echoes of the wood, and a gay procession
passed down the forest road towards Tours.

Alas, for Prince John!  He recognised in the two men who rode at its
head, Philip of France, his father's enemy, and Richard, his own rebel
elder brother.  Goaded by passion, burning with resentment towards his
father for the supposed injustice he had suffered, he rushed recklessly
into the arms of this sudden temptation.  Striding through the thickets,
and heedless of the warnings of the loyal Ralph, he emerged on to the
road in front of the cavalcade.

The leaders halted their horses in sudden surprise.

"What brave lad have we here?" asked Philip, perplexed.

John stepped forward, and answered for himself.

"I am John Plantagenet, once son of the King of England, but now vassal
to the King of France!"

Great was the astonishment on every face, and on none more than on those
of Philip and Richard.

The latter flushed, half in anger, half in shame, as he exclaimed, "Boy,
thou art mad!"

"Nay," said Philip, "the lad is a lad of sense, and bears a worthy name
that will serve our cause exceedingly."

So saying, he summoned one of his knights, and bidding him dismount,
gave the young prince his horse, and made him ride beside him.

"But tell us, lad," he said, when they had proceeded a little way, "how
is it thy father's dutiful and cherished son (for so I have heard him
speak of thee) comes thus among the ranks of his foemen, and that at a
time like this, when peace has been almost completed?"

"Ask me no questions," replied the prince, gloomily; "I am here because
I choose."

And so they rode into Tours.

A few days later, a silent group was standing round the sickbed of the
King of England, listening to the broken utterances which fell from the
lips of that old and wellnigh worn-out warrior.  Those who thus stood
round him were his favourite knights and barons, not a few of whom were
moved to tears as he spoke.

"I have sinned, and I have had my punishment.  My kingdom is gone, and
my glory.  Henceforward Henry Plantagenet will be the name but of a
vanquished and feeble old man.  The one whom I loved, and would have
forgiven as many times as they had asked forgiveness, have all, save
one, left me and turned against me.  I am like a man, wrecked and
tempest-tossed, clinging for hope to a single spar.  Yet I bless Heaven
for that.  Ruin I can submit to, dishonour I can survive, defeat I can
endure, while yet there is one child left to me of whom it can be said,
`He loved his father to the end.'  And such a son is John.  I charge you
all, honour him as you honour me, for though I have sworn to yield the
crown of England to his brother, Normandy, and all I possess besides,
belongs to _him_.  But where is he?  Why tarries he?  A week has passed
since he was here.  Where stays he?"

Before any of the attendants could reply, a knocking was heard without,
and entrance demanded for the messengers of Philip of France.  "We are
come," said they, "from our sovereign with the articles of treaty
between yourself and him, arranged at your late conference, and which
now await your ratification."

Henry motioned to them to proceed to business; and as each article was
read--declaring his allegiance to the crown of France and his cession of
his own crown to Richard--he inclined his head mechanically in token of
his assent, manifesting little or no interest in the proceeding.  But
his attention became more fixed when the article was read which provided
for the free pardon of all who had in any way, secretly or openly, been
engaged in the cause of his rebel son.

He turned in his bed towards the reader, and said: "A king must know the
names of his enemies before he can pardon them.  Read me, therefore, the
list of those who have rebelled, that I may forgive them each and all,
beginning with the noblest, down to the meanest."

He lay back on his bed, and half closed his eyes as he listened.

The messenger of Philip then said, "The first and foremost of your
majesty's enemies is John Plantagenet, your youngest son."

He sprang with a sudden cry of pain into a sitting posture, and
trembling in every fibre, and with a voice half choked, cried, "Who says
that?"  Then glaring wildly at the envoy, he whispered, "Read it again!"

"The first and foremost of your majesty's enemies is John Plantagenet,
your youngest son."

"Can it be true?" gasped the poor father, in helpless despair.  "Has he
also deserted me?  Then let everything go as it will; I care no more for
myself, nor for the world."

So saying, with his heart broken, he sank back upon the bed, from which
he never rose again.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

ARTHUR OF BRITTANY, THE BOY WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN KING OF ENGLAND.

The fierce storm beats down on the gloomy Norman Castle of Falaise, in a
deep dungeon of which lies imprisoned the boy Prince Arthur, lawful heir
to the crown of England, but now, alas! a helpless victim of the cruelty
and injustice of his bad uncle, John Plantagenet, the usurper of his
throne.  The thunder peals so loudly, and the wind rages so angrily,
that Hubert de Burgh, the warden, does not for a long time distinguish
the sound of a knocking and shouting at the outer gate of the castle.
Presently, however, in a lull of the wind, his ears catch the noisy
summons, and he instantly gives orders to his men to let down the
drawbridge, and admit the new-comers.  These were three in number: one
attired as a king's messenger, and mounted on a richly caparisoned
horse; the other two in the garb of common men, and on foot.  When they
had come into the presence of the warden, the king's messenger said--

"I am charged by His Majesty King John of England to deliver to you this
letter, and require your faithful discharge of its commands."

So saying, he handed to Hubert de Burgh a sealed letter, which the
latter eagerly broke open and read.  As he read, his face clouded.  It
was a long letter, and couched in vague terms, but its substance was
this.  That whereas the peace of England and of King John's possessions
in France was constantly being disturbed by the partisans of the young
Prince Arthur, desiring to see him king instead of his uncle, and taking
up arms to enforce their claim, it was necessary, in order to put an end
to this rebellion, that the young prince should be rendered unfit for
governing; and as no people would be likely to choose a blind boy for
their king, Hubert de Burgh was instructed to have Arthur's eyes put
out; and the two men who had arrived with the king's messenger were
come, so the letter said, to carry out this design.

Hubert de Burgh said nothing as he put by the letter, and dismissed his
three visitors from his presence.  Cruel man as he had been, his heart
had still some pity left, and he shrank from obeying his master by so
brutal an act of cruelty upon the innocent boy in his charge.

However, the order of the king was peremptory; and if the deed must be
done, thought he, the sooner the better.

So he ordered the two villains to get ready their instruments, and
follow him to the dungeon.

"Stay here," said he, as they reached the young prince's door, "while I
enter alone and prepare him for his fate."

So those two set down their fire and the red-hot irons, and waited
outside for their summons.

When Hubert entered the dungeon, the poor boy was just waking from a
sleep.  He sat up and rubbed his eyes, being dazzled by the light which
Hubert carried in his hand.

"You are welcome," said he (for Arthur, with so few to love him, loved
even his surly, though not unkind, jailor).  "I have been in my dreams
away in merry England, where I thought I was living in a beautiful
palace, with food and servants, and rich clothing, and that there was a
crown on my head.  And so it shall be some day, Hubert, when I get my
rights; and then because you have not been as unkind to me as some in my
adversity, you shall be a great and rich man.  But why look you so
solemn?  What ails you?"

The warden stood silent for some moments before he spoke, and then his
voice was thick and hoarse.

"Prince," he said, "take your last look on the light, for you may never
see it again."

The boy sprang from his bed, and seized Hubert by the knees.

"What!  Are they going to kill me?  Must they take away my life?"

"Not so," said Hubert; "it is not thy life that is required, but thine
eyes."  And as he spoke he stamped on the floor, as the signal to those
two who waited without to enter.

At sight of their horrid instruments, the cords which were to bind him,
and the cruel faces of the executioners, Arthur fell on his knees and
implored mercy of the stubborn Hubert.

It was a strange and pitiful sight to see that weak and helpless boy
kneeling, and with tears entreating that stout old warrior, whose bosom
heaved and whose ringers twitched, and whose face winced, as he
listened; while the two others stood motionless, grasping their irons
and cords, ready for the word of command to step forward and do their
cruel deed.

But the cries and entreaties of the helpless and beautiful prince
prevailed.  Hubert wavered and hesitated; he bade the men advance, and
then bade them withhold; he looked at the prince, and he looked at the
glowing irons; he pushed the suppliant from him, and then suffered him
to cling to him.  The executioners themselves were moved to pity, and
lay down their instruments.  Finally, with a mighty effort, the warden
yielded, and said, "Retire, men, and take with you your tools, till I
require you."  Then turning to Arthur, he said, "Prince, thou shalt keep
thy sight and thy life while I am by to protect thee."  And the rough
hand of the old warrior stroked the hair of the weeping boy as it might
have been his own son's.

The answer that Hubert de Burgh sent back that day by the king's
messenger was an earnest appeal for mercy on behalf of his young and now
beloved charge.

But King John was a stranger to all feelings of pity, and his vengeance
was quick and dreadful.  Foiled of his cruel design upon the eyesight of
his hapless nephew, he determined now to have his life.  So he ordered
him to be removed from Falaise, and the custody of the humane De Burgh,
to the castle of Rouen, under whose walls flowed the waters of the River
Seine.  But the prince did not remain long there.  One night a jailor
entered his dungeon, and, waking him from his sleep, ordered him to
follow him.  The boy obeyed in silence, as the jailor conducted him down
the winding staircase which led to the foot of the tower, beside which
the Seine flowed.  A boat was waiting at the bottom, in which sat two
men.  The torch of the jailor cast a sudden glare over the dark waters,
and by its light Arthur recognised, with horror and despair, in one of
the two the cruel features of his Uncle John.  It was useless for him to
pray and entreat; it was useless for him to struggle or cry out.  They
dragged him into the boat, and held him fast as she drifted under the
shadow of those gloomy walls into mid stream.  What happened then no one
can tell; but had any listened that still, dark night, they might have
heard a boy's wild cry across the waters, and then a dull, heavy
splash--and that was all.

The story is that of those two, King John with his own hand did the foul
deed.  However that may be, Arthur of Brittany was never even heard of
more.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

RICHARD THE SECOND, THE BOY WHO QUELLED A TUMULT.

A vast, disorderly rabble thronged the great open space of Smithfield,
in London, on one side of which stood the venerable Abbey of Saint
Bartholomew, now occupied by the hospital of that name.  The men who
composed it were rough and wild, and, for the most part, shouted and
clutched their clubs and bows in a meaningless sort of way, which
plainly showed that they were not very clear in their own minds as to
the object of their assembling together, but that they came and shouted
and threatened because their leaders did so.

These leaders were few in number, and but that they were mounted, and
armed with swords and daggers, not to be distinguished from their
followers, for they were rough, wild men--men too whose occupation
seemed to be more in the way of herding cattle and plying their hammers
than leading an army of 20,000 rioters, or brandishing their swords
against a government.

Yet, though many of these rebels seemed not to comprehend the why and
the wherefore of their demonstration, there were not a few who looked
very much--nay, cruelly--in earnest, who talked vehemently and scowled,
and seemed, by the way they gripped their arms, determined to enforce
their demands against any man, be he noble, or baron, or king.  From
some of the groups one might have heard excited utterances like the
following:--

"We will have our rights or die!  Why do our leaders halt?"

"The king is expected!"

"Nay, then, let us slay him, who is the head of all our wrongs!"

"Not so; the king has already granted what we first demanded; and we are
gathered now because Wat Tyler demands yet more."

"God save Wat Tyler!  Was it not he who struck the first blow against
the tyrant?"

"It was.  The nobles demanded a poll tax on every man, woman, boy, and
girl in the land; and when one of their collectors would exact it from
Wat Tyler, at his place in Dartford, and (disbelieving his word
concerning the age of his young daughter) vilely insulted the maiden, he
arose and slew the wretch with his hammer.  And so this business began."

"Huzzah for Wat Tyler!  Down with the tyrant!"

"Nay, friend; our cause was a good one when it began, but since then Wat
and his friends have, to my mind, done us and themselves damage by their
bloodthirstiness and their unreasonableness.  Have they not demolished
palaces and temples?  Have they not butchered an archbishop and nobles
and harmless citizens?  Have they not insulted noble ladies?  And now,
when their demands have all been satisfied by the young king, they
demand yet more, and become themselves the tyrants."

"A traitor!--a traitor!  Who speaks against our brave Wat Tyler?  Kill
the traitor!  Down with tyranny!  Death to the king!  God save the
people!"

With such clamour and angry talk did the crowd agitate itself, till
suddenly there arose a cry.  "The king comes!"

And there rode up fearlessly, at the head of sixty men, a boy, only
fifteen years old, at sight of whom these rebels hung their heads and
let their wild clamour die on their lips.  A few of the most determined
looked black as they regarded the royal boy, and noted the effect his
frank carriage had on their followers.

"I am come," said King Richard, rising on his horse at a few paces from
the front of the crowd, "as I promised, to confer with my subjects and
hear their grievances.  Let your leader advance and speak with me."

Then Wat Tyler turned to his followers and said to them, "I will go
speak with him; do you abide my signal, then come on and slay all save
the young king; he will serve us better as a humble captive in our
hands, to lead through the land and bring all men to our service, than
as a slaughtered tyrant at our feet."

So he put spurs to his horse and advanced towards the king, whom he
approached so close that the flank of the horse touched that of the
king's.  Richard, nothing daunted by this threatening demeanour, turned
courteously towards him and waited for him to speak.

"Do you see this concourse of people?" began Wat, rudely, pointing
towards the now silent crowd.

"I see them," said the boy.  "What have you to ask on their behalf?"

"These men," said Tyler, "have sworn, one and all, to obey me in all
things, and to follow in whatever enterprise I shall lead them, and they
will not go hence till you grant us our petition."

"And I will grant it," replied the boy, frankly, for the demands to
which Wat Tyler now alluded had reference to the rights of the people to
hunt and fish on common lands.  "I will grant it."

What followed history does not very clearly record.  Among the followers
of the king, Wat, it is said, caught sight of a knight whom for some
reason he hated.  Turning his attention from the king, he glared angrily
at his enemy, and, putting his hand on the hilt of his dagger,
exclaimed, "By my faith, I will never eat bread till I have thy head!"
At that same instant up rode Sir William Walworth, the Lord Mayor of
London, who, seeing the menacing gesture of the insurgent leader, and
hearing his threatening speech, immediately concluded he was about to
attack the person of the young king.  Quick as thought, Sir William drew
his dagger, and before any one could interpose or hold him back, he
struck Wat Tyler in the throat, and his attendants following with
repeated blows, the leader of the people fell from his horse a dead man!
All this was so suddenly done, and so astonished the onlookers, that
Wat Tyler was already dead before a hand was moved or a voice raised on
either side.  Then there rose an angry shout from those twenty thousand
rebels, as they saw their leader down.  "We are betrayed!" they cried;
"they have killed our leader!"  And with that they raised their bows and
pointed their shafts at the heart of the young king.

But they lowered them in amazement when, instead of shrinking and
cowering behind his knights, they saw the lad put spurs to his horse and
gallop, all by himself, up to the very place where they stood.  "Men,"
he cried, "follow me; I am your king, and I will be your captain!  Wat
Tyler was a traitor; no ill shall befall you if you make me your
leader."

The brave words disarmed that great crowd as if by magic; the men who
had just now shouted, "Long live Wat Tyler!" now shouted with a mighty
shout, "Long live our King Richard!"

The insurrection was at an end, the confidence of the people returned
once more to their rulers, and they marched that day from Smithfield,
under the leadership of their young king, as far as the country hamlet
of Islington, there quietly to disperse to their own homes and resume
once again their ordinary pursuits.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

RICHARD WHITTINGTON, THE SCULLERY BOY WHO BECAME LORD MAYOR.

A poor boy, meanly clad, and carrying in his hand a small bundle,
trudged sadly along the road which led over the moor of Finsbury to
Highgate.  The first streak of dawn was scarcely visible in the eastern
sky, and as he walked, the boy shivered in the chill morning air.  More
than once he dashed from his eyes the rising tears, and clutched his
little wallet and quickened his pace, as if determined to hold to some
desperate resolve, despite of all drawings to the contrary.  As the road
rose gradually towards Highgate, the sun broke out from behind the
clouds on his right, and lit up fields and trees and hills with a
brightness and richness which contrasted strangely with the gloom on the
boy's face, and the poverty of his appearance.  The birds in the hedges
began to sing, and the cattle to low and tinkle their bells; the whistle
of the herdsmen came up from the valley, and all nature seemed to wake
with a cry of gladness to greet the new day.

Even poor Dick Whittington could not wholly resist the cheering
influence of that bright summer morning.  It was impossible to believe
that everything was miserable in the midst of so much gladness, and
Dick's face brightened and his step became brisker almost without his
knowing it, as he trudged higher and higher up that steep road.  His
thoughts, too, took a less desponding turn.

"After all," said he to himself, "perhaps I am foolish to be running
away from my master's house.  I had better be the scullery boy of good
Master Fitzwarren, although his cook does ill-treat me and lead me a
dog's life, than the vagabond idle boy which I am now.  And yet I cannot
endure the thought of returning to that cruel woman.  Would that I knew
what to do!"

Thus he thought and questioned with himself, when he came to a stone set
by the wayside; and here he sat to rest, and ruminate further upon his
evil fortune.

"If some voice would but say `Return,' I would return," said he, "even
though she scold and beat me, for I know not what to do, without a
friend in the world.  Was ever such a wretched boy as I?"

And he buried his face in his hands and gave himself over to his misery.
Suddenly in the quiet morning air there came to his ears a wonderful
sound, up from the valley, where, in the sun, shone the towers and
steeples of London town.

It was the sound of distant bells, and as the boy listened, it came
clearer and clearer, and seemed to fill the air with the very voice for
which he had but a minute since been longing.  But what a strange voice
and what a strange story the bells told!--

Turn again, Whittington, Thrice Lord Mayor of London!

Over and over again they said the same words.  Over and over again Dick
persuaded himself he was dreaming, yet felt sure he was awake.  "Turn
again!" that was plain enough, and he could believe it, even though Bow
Bells said it.  But--"Thrice Lord Mayor of London!" what could that
mean?  That was never meant for the poor ill-used scullery boy of Master
Fitzwarren, the mercer in the Minories!  And yet what could be more
distinct than the voice of those bells?

He sprang from his seat, turned his face in the direction of that
wonderful sound, and ran.  And that morning, when the family of Master
Fitzwarren assembled for their early meal, and the scolding cook took
possession of the kitchen, Dick Whittington was in his place, scouring
the pots and pans in the scullery, singing to himself a tune no one had
ever heard before.

Only a few days after this adventure of Dick's, news came of the arrival
in port of one of Master Fitzwarren's vessels with a valuable cargo on
board.  Now it was the custom in those days, in some houses, for all the
servants of a family to invest something in the fortunes of any vessel
their master might send out; and when, many months before this, Master
Fitzwarren had been equipping the vessel now in question, he had
summoned all his servants together, and beginning with the chief, had
called upon them to put their savings into his venture, promising each a
fair return of whatever profit his share should entitle him to at the
end of the voyage.

Dick, poor boy, had no money; nothing in the world but a cat, whom he
loved as his only friend, and to whom he owed no common gratitude for
the manner in which she had protected him against the rats that infested
his garret.  When it came to his turn to put his share into the voyage,
he had not the heart to offer this companion--and he had nothing else he
could call his own--so he begged to be excused.  His master, however,
insisted that, as his servant, he must put down whatever he had, however
little, and even though this cat had cost only a penny, to sea she must
go, and Dick should have full value for her when the voyage was over.

Dick wept at this, and the young daughter of Master Fitzwarren, being
moved to pity, offered from her own money what would preserve to the lad
his four-footed friend.  But not even this would the stern merchant
allow, and Dick therefore had to bid a tearful farewell to his
favourite, and resign himself to his loss.

All this had taken place many months ago.

Now when the "Unicorn"--that was the name of the vessel--returned to
port, great was the astonishment of everybody (and no one's greater than
Dick's) to find that the principal portion of the treasures on board
belonged to the little scullery boy of Master Fitzwarren.

The very first day of its arrival there was brought to the house a
cabinet of jewels, forming part of the boy's share, which was considered
too precious to be left on board ship.  And the men who brought it told
this marvellous story:

When the ship reached Algiers, in Africa, the ruler of the land ordered
all the crew to wait upon him with presents, which accordingly they did,
after which he prepared a feast, and invited them all to partake.  But
no sooner were the covers removed then a swarm of rats, attracted by the
scent of the good things, came and devoured all the victuals before
their very faces.  This, the governor told them, was no unusual thing,
for rats were the plague of his land, and he would give any price to
know of a means to be rid of them.  Then one of the sailors bethought
him of Dick Whittington's cat--who had already distinguished herself on
shipboard by her industry in her art--and accordingly next day, when the
feast was served, and the rats, as usual, prepared to make away with it,
puss was produced, and not only drove away the pest, but killed a
considerable number.  This happening for several days, his highness was
so delighted that he instantly offered an enormous sum for the
possession of so remarkable an animal, and loaded the crew with
presents, in token of his joy and gratitude.

Such was the story of the men, which explained this wonderful prize
which fell to the share of the fortunate Dick Whittington.

He, poor lad, could not understand it all, and went on with his drudgery
in the scullery as if nothing had happened, until his master compelled
him to quit it, and from being his boy-of-all-work made him his partner
in business.

Then Dick remembered the words the bells had sung to him a while ago,
and rejoiced that he had obeyed their call.

He rejoiced at another thing too, which was that the kind young daughter
of Master Fitzwarren, who had pitied him in his poverty, did not avoid
him in his prosperity, but smiled happily upon him when he took his seat
at the family table to eat out of the dishes he had so recently scoured.

So this scullery boy became a rich merchant, and being just and
honourable as well as wealthy, he gained the respect and love of all
with whom he had to do.  When he grew to be a man, he married the kind
Miss Fitzwarren, which made him happier than all his wealth.

Not only did merchants look up to him, but nobles and even kings came to
him in their money difficulties, and he was the same upright gentleman
to all men.  Honours increased, and at last the prophecy of Bow Bells
came true, and Sir Richard Whittington was made Lord Mayor of London.

In that capacity he grew still in riches and fame; and when his first
term was expired, his admiring fellow-citizens, after a few years, made
him Lord Mayor for a second time, and when the second term was past, for
a third.  His third mayoralty happened in 1419, when King Henry the
Fourth was on the throne of England; and then it was his honours rose to
their highest pitch, for he entertained at his own table the king and
queen of the land in such grand style that Henry said of him, "Never
king had such a subject."

And never poor had such a friend.  He never forgot the little forlorn
boy on Highgate Hill, and it was his delight to his latest day to make
the hearts of the needy glad, and show to all that it is not for money
nor grandeur but for an honest soul and a kind heart that a man is to be
loved and honoured by his fellows.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

EDWARD THE BLACK PRINCE, THE BOY WHO WON A BATTLE.

The sun rose brightly over the little village of Crecy on the morning of
Saturday, August 26, 1346.  The golden corn was standing in the fields,
the cattle were quietly grazing in the meadows, the birds were
twittering in the woods, and in the still morning air rose the gentle
murmur of a joyous stream.  Everything spoke of peace that bright summer
morning; little could one have dreamed that before that sun should have
set in the west the din and thunder of battle would wake the echoes of
those quiet woods, or that those sunny fields would be torn and
desolated by the angry tread of thousands of feet, or strewn with heaps
of dead or dying!  Yet so it was to be.  A large army was even then
halting in the cover of the forest over against the village, and far,
far away, if any one had listened, might have been heard, mingling with
the voices of the morning, the sound of a great host of horsemen and
soldiers advancing in hot pursuit, with now and then a trumpet blast
which echoed faintly among the hills.

The English soldiers, as they rose from their beds of turf and grass,
heard those far-off sounds, and knew--who better?--they must fight like
men to-day or perish.

So they sprang to their feet and seized their arms and armour, ready at
any instant to obey the summons to action.

Suddenly along the ranks came the cry, "The king and the prince!" and
directly afterwards appeared the great King Edward the Third of England
riding slowly down the line of his army, and at his side a stately boy
of sixteen years, dressed in black armour and mounted on a black horse.
Never was king more honoured or king's son more loved than were these
two as they passed with cheery word and dauntless bearing among their
loyal and devoted soldiers.

The king stopped when he had reached a spot from which a good portion of
his host could hear him, and raised his hand.

Every man stood silent as he spoke.

"My loyal subjects, we must meet to-day a host greater than we in
number, but not greater in valour.  Fight, I charge you, for the honour
of your country.  My son here leads the first division of my army.  This
is his first battle, and sure I am he will quit himself like a man.  Do
you the same, and God will give us the victory."

With such encouraging and confident words the king addressed his men,
who cheered him and the brave prince long and loud.

Then every man took his helmet and his bow, and waited for the enemy.

The morning passed, but still no foe appeared.  But the distant murmur
was now grown to a loud and ever-increasing din; and as they sat the
English could hear shouts and the neighing of horses and the tumult of
many voices, which betokened the near approach of the host of King
Philip of France.

It was not till about three in the afternoon that the French army came
in sight of Crecy.  They had had a rapid and fatiguing march since
daybreak, and were now in no condition, even with their vastly superior
numbers, to grapple with the refreshed and inspirited Englishmen.  So
thought and said many of Philip's officers, and did their best to
persuade him to put off the encounter till next day.

But however much Philip might have been inclined to adopt this good
advice, his army was in such a state of confusion and disorder, owing to
their rapid march, that they were quite unmanageable.  When the officers
bade those in front to halt, those behind, shouting and impatient, still
pressed on, so much so that the king and all his nobles were carried
along with them into the very face of the English, who stood awaiting
the attack.

When Philip saw the collision could not be put off, that the battle was
inevitable, he shouted loudly, "Bring forward the Genoese bowmen!"

Now these bowmen, 15,000 in number, on whom Philip depended to scatter
and drive from the field the main portion of his enemy's force, were in
no sort of condition for beginning a battle after their long, fatiguing
march, and with the strings of their crossbows all loose with damp, and
with a dazzling sun now glaring full in their eyes.  But Philip, too
confident to heed any such trifles, impatiently, nay, angrily, ordered
them to the front, and bade them shoot a volley against the English
archers, who stood opposite.

So these foreigners stepped forward, and, as their manner was, gave
three leaps in the air, with the idea of terrifying the foes, and then
raised their bows to their cheeks, and let fly their arrows wildly in
the direction of the English.

The trusty English archers, with the sun behind them, were not the men
to be intimidated by leapings into the air, nor panic-struck by a
discharge so ill-aimed that scarce one arrow in ten even grazed their
armour.

Their reply to the Genoese was a sudden step forward, and a sharp,
determined twang of their bow-strings.  Then the air was white with the
cloud of their arrows, and next moment the foremost ranks of the Genoese
were seen to drop like one man.

This was enough for those already dispirited hirelings.  They fell back
in panic disorder; they cut their bow-strings; they rushed among the
very feet of the horsemen that Philip, in his rage, had ordered "to ride
forward and cut down the cowardly villains!"  Then the confusion of the
French army was complete.

The English followed up their first advantage steadily and quickly.
Knight after knight of the French dropped from his horse, troop after
troop fell back, standard after standard tottered.

Nowhere was the fight fiercer than where the young Black Prince led the
van of the English; and from a windmill on a near hill, the eager eyes
of King Edward watched with pride that figure clad in black armour ever
in the thick of the fight, and never halting an instant where danger or
duty called.

It would be too long to tell of all the fighting that day.  Philip, with
his great army, could not dislodge his compact foe from their position;
nor could he shelter his men from the deadly flight of their arrows.
Bravely he rushed himself into the fray to rally his men, but to no
avail.  Everywhere they fell back before their invincible enemy.

Once, indeed, it seemed as if his brave knights would surround and drive
back the division of which the boy prince was leader.  An English noble
sent post-haste a message to Edward to say, "Send help; the prince is in
danger."

But Edward knew more of battles than most of his officers.  He replied
coolly--

"Is the prince slain?"

"No."

"Is he wounded?"

"No."

"Is he struck down?"

"No."

"Then go, tell him the battle he has won so far shall be his, and his
only.  To-day he must win his own spurs."

The words flew like wildfire among the English ranks, and our brave men
fought with renewed valour.

That evening, as the sun was getting low in the west, Philip and his
host turned their backs on Crecy and fled--all that were left of them--
anywhere to be out of the reach of the army of that invincible boy.
Horsemen and footmen, bag and baggage, they fled, with the English close
at their heels, and never drew rein till night and darkness put an end
to the pursuit.

Meanwhile, there were rejoicing and thanksgiving on the field of Crecy.
The English king hastened from his post of observation, and, in the
presence of the whole army, embraced his brave son, and gave him the
honours of that glorious victory, wherein two kings, eleven princes,
1,200 knights, and 30,000 men had fallen.  A sad price for glory!
"Sweet son," said he, "God give you good perseverance.  You are my true
and valiant son, and have this day shown yourself worthy of a crown."

And the brave boy bowed low before his father, and modestly disclaimed
the whole glory of the victory.

Loud and long did the loyal knights and soldiers cheer their brave king
and their heroic prince; and when they saw the latter bind on his helmet
the plume of three ostrich feathers, worn by the most illustrious of his
slain foemen, John, King of Bohemia, with the noble motto _Ich dien_ ("I
serve") beneath, their enthusiasm knew no bounds.  And the motto has
descended from prince to prince since then, and remains to this day as a
glorious memorial of this famous boy, who earned it by doing his duty in
the face of danger, and setting an example to all about him that "he who
serves rules."



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

HENRY OF MONMOUTH, THE PRINCE WHOM A JUDGE SENT TO PRISON.

A strange crowd thronged the Court of King's Bench one memorable day
four and a half centuries ago.  Nobles and commoners alike jostled their
way into the sombre hall, every one intent on securing a good place,
some talking loudly, others arguing angrily, all highly excited and
impatient.  It was evident that the trial about to take place was one of
unusual interest and extraordinary importance, for the gloomy court was
not used to be so crowded, and seldom attracted so mixed and so eager a
throng as that which now filled it.

Suddenly a lull fell on the scene, heads were uncovered, the jostling
and wrangling ceased, and order prevailed.

The judge, Lord Justice Gascoigne, entered and took his seat.  He was a
grave, quiet man, but there was something in his look so dignified and
so firm, that it awed into respectful silence all within that place as
if by a spell.  Then he said--"Bring hither the prisoner."

All eyes turned now to the door by which the officer of the court went
out to obey the order.

Presently it swung back, and there entered, between two jailors, a man
of dissipated appearance and reckless demeanour, whose flushed cheeks
and extravagant attire told only too plainly their own sad tale of
intemperance and debauchery.

He regarded with an indifferent look judge, jury, and the crowd which
his trial had drawn together, and took his place at the bar rather with
the air of a man harassed and ill-used than of one guilty and overawed.

The trial began.  The story of the man's crime was a short and simple
one.  He had been ringleader in a highway robbery lately committed, and
taken in the very act, with the booty upon his person.  The evidence was
clear as daylight; no one attempted to dispute it or deny the
accusation.

Was this, then, all that had brought the assembly together?  The man was
of a name known to comparatively few of those present.  His crime was an
ordinary felony, and his defence appeared to be hopeless.  It was
evidently something else than this for which these onlookers had crowded
into court, and it was not long before their curiosity was satisfied.

A witness stood forward to be questioned as to the associates of the
prisoner.  He gave several names, and then stopped.

"Have no others joined him in these expeditions?" inquired the judge.

The witness hesitated.

"The law requires that you shall tell the whole truth," calmly said the
judge.  "Have no others joined the prisoner in these expeditions?"

Then the truth came out.

"The Prince Henry of Wales has borne the prisoner company on divers
occasions."

What!  A Prince of Wales, the coming King of England, implicated in a
disgraceful, discreditable highway robbery!  Though the crowd had heard
of it already, a buzz of astonishment passed through their midst, as the
fact was thus clearly and indisputably established.

"Was the prince concerned in the robbery for which the prisoner is now
charged?"

Witness could not say.

In reply to further questions, however, it was stated that the prince
frequently formed one of the party which indulged in these illegal
practices; that he was as lawless and desperate as the worst of them;
and that he was known to boast among his boon companions of his exploits
as a common highwayman, and to exhibit proudly the plunder he had thus
acquired.

It was enough.  The judge reminded the court that they were met to try,
not the prince, but the prisoner at the bar; and painful as the fact
was, it was no affair of theirs at that time to investigate the conduct
of another man, except in as far as it threw light on the present case.

The good judge was not the only man in England who had watched the
dissipated career of the young prince with sorrow and concern.  All to
whom the honour of their country was dear bewailed the wasted youth and
misused talents of this boy, whom his father's jealousy and illiberality
had driven into courses of riot and debauchery.  They longed for the
time to come, ere it was too late, when the serious duties of the camp
or the throne would call out those better traits of his disposition
which at present lay hidden beneath what was discreditable and wretched.
They saw in him a nobility disfigured and a chivalry marred, still
capable of asserting itself, but which as yet every rebuke and every
warning had failed to arouse; and on this account the good people of
England sorrowed with a jealous sorrow over their "Prince Hal," and
looked forward with trembling to see how all this would end.

But to return.  The case against the prisoner was full and complete, and
nothing now remained but to pronounce him guilty, and sentence him to
the penalty his crime required.  This duty the judge was proceeding to
discharge, when at the door of the court was heard a commotion.  For a
moment the judge's words were drowned in the shuffling of feet and the
sound of voices; then the door opened, and in walked a youth, scarcely
more than a boy, tall, slender, and handsome, with flushed cheeks and
wild eye, fashionably dressed, with a sword at his side and a plumed hat
upon his head.

"The Prince of Wales!" broke from the lips of a score of onlookers, as
they recognised in that youth the heir to the crown, towards whose
delinquencies their thoughts had that moment been turned.

He advanced gaily and recklessly to the bench, the crowd falling back on
either side to give him passage.  As he passed the bar at which the
prisoner stood awaiting his sentence, he stopped, and, nodding
familiarly, exclaimed--

"What ho, comrade!  I heard thou wast in trouble, and have come myself
to ease thee; so cheer up, lad!"  Then approaching the judge, he said,
"Good Master Gascoigne, your prisoner is a friend of mine, too gay a
comrade to languish in bonds for a trifling scrape like this.  Spare
yourself, therefore, further pains on his account, and come, solace your
gravity with a party of boon companions who assemble to-night to
celebrate their hero's emancipation from your clutches!"

Gravely and sorrowfully the judge regarded the prince who thus
flippantly defied the law of which he was the guardian, but his face was
firm and his voice authoritative as he replied--

"Prince, my duty is to defend the laws of the king, your father, not to
break them.  As you entered, I was passing the sentence of imprisonment
on the prisoner which he has merited by his evil deeds.  That sentence
must now be put in force."

Prince Henry's face clouded, and he scowled as he exclaimed--

"What I would you defy the Prince of Wales to his very face?  Liberate
my comrade, I charge you, at once, or it shall be the worse for you!"

"Be warned, prince.  They who obstruct the law incur the penalties of
the law, be they princes or peasants.  Officers, remove the prisoner."

Henry flushed angrily, and his eyes glared like fire.  Advancing a step,
he laid his hand on the hilt of his sword, and drew it from its
scabbard.

The judge rose quietly to his feet, and laying his hand gently on the
foolish boy's shoulder, said, in a voice calm and clear, which all could
hear--

"Henry, Prince of Wales, I arrest thee in the name of the king, your
father, whose laws you have defied, and whose court you have insulted!
Officers, remove the prince in custody."

There was a strange and solemn pause as the judge resumed his seat, and
all eyes turned on Henry.  The firmness of the judge had touched the
right chord at last.  The sword dropped back into its sheath, the scowl
of passion gave place to the flush of shame, the wild eyes sought the
ground, and the haughty head hung down in confusion.  Without a word he
submitted to the officers of the court, and accompanied them to the
place of his confinement, humble and repentant.

Years after this a gay throng of courtiers were assembled at court to do
homage to King Henry the Fifth of England on his accession to the
throne.  There were there princes and nobles and ladies--some the
friends of the late king, some the friends of the new.  In the faces of
not a few of the former might be detected traces of uneasiness and
anxiety; while the latter talked and looked, for the most part,
confident and triumphant.  It was easy to guess the cause of this
strange variety of feeling.  The gay young reveller was now king.  There
were some there who had made no secret of their disapproval of his wild
courses as a prince.  How would he regard them now the crown was on his
head?  Others there were who had borne him company in his excesses,
drinking from the same bowl, and sharing in all the lawlessness of his
lawless youth.  Was not the time for their advancement come, now that
the fountain of honour was in the person of their own boon companion and
comrade?

Amid waving and acclamation, the young king stepped into the presence
chamber to receive the homage of his subjects.

In general appearance he was not much changed from the tall, handsome
youth who, a few years ago, had openly defied the law and insulted its
dignity; but the more serious expression of his face, and the more
sedate pose of his lips, betokened an inward change of no small
importance.  And now that the whole court was eagerly looking for some
indication of his conduct under the new honours and duties which had
this day devolved upon him, he was not long in satisfying their
curiosity in a decided and significant manner.

Glancing for a moment among the gay throng which surrounded him, his eye
lit on a grave, dignified man, with clear eye and firm mouth, now
advanced in years, and clad in the robes of a judge.

King Henry stepped towards him, and, with a friendly smile, took him by
the hand.

"Good Master Gascoigne," he said, "I know you of old.  What my father
said of you, let me say too, in the hearing of all these people.  _Happy
is the king that has such a man who dares to execute justice even on the
king's son_.  You did well by me when you once committed me to prison;
you shall still be my councillor and the trusted guardian of my laws."

The judge bowed low as he replied, "My lord, your father added yet
another word to that you have yourself recalled.  _Happy_, said he, _the
king that has such a son, who will submit even his princely self to the
hand of justice_."

And a tear stood in the grave man's eye as he kissed the hand of him who
had once been his prisoner, but was now his king and his friend.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

LAMBERT SIMNEL, THE BAKER'S BOY WHO PRETENDED TO BE A KING.

A scene of unwonted excitement was being enacted in Dublin.  The streets
were thronged with people, the houses were gay with flags, soldiers
lined the paths, and nobles in their grand carriages went by in
procession.  The common folk shouted till they were hoarse, and pressed
forward on every hand towards the great church of the city, to witness
the ceremony which was taking place there.

Whence was all this excitement?  How came the Irish capital into such a
state of festivity and holiday-making?  The story is a short one and a
strange.

Some weeks before, a man in the dress of a priest, accompanied by a
good-looking boy, had landed in Dublin, and made his way to the
residence of the governor of the place, with whom he sought an
interview.  On being admitted, he much astonished that nobleman by the
tale he told.

It was well known that Richard the Third had during his lifetime shut up
in prison the young Earl of Warwick, his nephew, whose title to the
crown was better than his own.  The cruel uncle, who seemed unable to
endure the presence of any of those whom he had so basely robbed of
their inheritance, had already, as is well known, murdered those other
two nephews whose claims were most prominent and unmistakable.  The
young Earl of Warwick, however, was allowed to keep his life, but
remained a close prisoner in a castle in Yorkshire.

When Henry the Seventh took the crown from Richard and became king, he
was by no means disposed to liberate a prince who was clearly nearer to
the throne than himself.  So he had him removed from Yorkshire to the
Tower of London, where he remained almost forgotten amid the bustle of
coronation festivities of the new king.

Now the story told by the priest was that this prince had succeeded in
escaping from the Tower, and indeed was none other than the lad who now
stood at his side, having made his way to Ireland in the company of his
tutor and friend, to beg the aid of the Governor of Dublin in an effort
to recover his lawful inheritance.

The Earl of Kildare (that was the governor's name) looked in
astonishment from one to the other, and bade them repeat their story,
asking the boy many questions about his childhood and the companions of
his youth, which the latter answered so glibly and unhesitatingly that
the foolish governor was fully persuaded this was no other than the
rightful King of England.

He caused the lad to be treated with all the honour due to royalty; he
gave him a guard of soldiers, he showed him to the populace, who
welcomed him with enthusiasm, and he set to work to organise an army
which should follow to enforce his claim to the throne of England.

The boy took all this sudden glory in a half-bewildered manner, but
adhered so correctly to his plausible story that none of those generous
Irish folk doubted that he was any other than the disinherited prince he
professed to be.

Had they only known that the youth about whom they were so enthusiastic
was no better than a baker's son, named Lambert Simnel, they might have
been less pleased.

Well, in due time it was decided to crown the new king with all honour.
And this was the occasion about which, as we have seen, Dublin was in
such a state of festivity and holiday.

The boy was conducted with great pomp to church, amid the shouts of the
people, and there crowned with a diadem taken from a statue of the
Virgin Mary.  Afterwards, according to custom, he was borne on the
shoulders of a huge Irish chieftain back to the castle, where he lived
as a king for some time.

All this while the real Earl of Warwick was safe in the Tower, and now
when the rumour of Lambert Simnel's doings in Ireland reached King
Henry, he had him brought out from his prison and exhibited in public,
so that every one might be convinced of the imposture of the boy who set
himself up to be the same person.

But though the people of England were thus kept from being deceived, as
the Irish had been, there were a good many of them who heartily disliked
King Henry, and were ready to join in any movement against him,
irrespective of right or wrong.  The consequence was, Lambert Simnel--or
rather the people who instigated him in his falsehood--found they might
count on a fair amount of support even from those who discredited their
story; and this encouraged them to attempt an invasion of England, and
venture their scheme on the field of battle.  So, with a force of about
8,000 men, they landed in Lancashire.  There is no need to tell the
result of this expedition.  After many disappointments occasioned by the
reluctance of the people to join them, they encountered the king's army
near Newark, and after a desperate battle were defeated, and lost all
their leaders.  Lambert Simnel and the priest were taken prisoners, and
for a time there was an end of this silly attempt to deceive the nation.

In the following years of Henry's reign, any one entering the royal
kitchens might have observed a boy, meanly dressed, following his
occupation as a turnspit; and that boy, had he felt disposed to give you
his history, would have told you how once upon a time he was crowned a
king, and lived in a palace, how nobles bowed the knee before him, and
troops fought at his bidding.  He would have told how people had hailed
him as King Edward of England, and rushed along beside his carriage,
eager to catch so much as a glance from his eye.  And then he would go
on to tell how all this was because designing men had put into his head
foolish ambitions, and taught him to repeat a likely-looking story.  And
if one had questioned him further, doubtless he would have confessed
that he was happier far now as a humble turnspit than ever he had been
as a sham king, and would have warned one sadly that cheats never
prosper, however successful they may seem for a time; and that
contentment with one's lot, humble though it be, brings with it rewards
infinitely greater than riches or power wrongly acquired.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

EDWARD AND RICHARD PLANTAGENET, THE BOYS WHO WERE MURDERED IN THE TOWER.

A horseman stood at the gate of the Tower of London, and demanded
entrance in the name of the king, Richard Iii.

On hearing the summons, and the authority claimed by the stranger, the
governor, Sir Thomas Brackenbury, directed that he should be admitted,
and deliver his message.

"Read this," said the man, handing a missive sealed with the royal
seal.

Sir Thomas read the document hastily, and as he read his face grew
troubled.  For a long time he was silent; then addressing the king's
messenger, he said--

"Know you the contents of this letter?"

"How should I know?" replied the other evasively.

"The king directs me here," said Sir Thomas, "to do a deed horrible and
unworthy of a man.  He demands that I should rid him of the two lads now
lying in this Tower in my custody."

"And what of that?" said the king's messenger.  "Is it not necessary to
the country's peace?  And will _you_, Sir Thomas, render so base an
ingratitude for the favours you have received at the king's hands by
refusing him this service?"

"Not even with the sanction of a king will Thomas Brackenbury hire
himself out as a butcher.  My office and all I have," he added, "I hold
at His Majesty's pleasure.  He may take them from me if he will, but my
hands shall at least stay free from innocent blood!"

With that he bade the messenger return to his master and deliver his
reply.

When Richard, away in Gloucestershire, heard of the refusal of the
Governor of the Tower to execute his commands, he was very wroth, and
vowed he would yet carry out his cruel purpose with regard to his two
helpless nephews.

These two boys, the sons of Edward the Fourth, were the principal
obstacles to Richard's undisturbed possession of the throne he had
usurped.  The elder of them, a boy of thirteen, had already been crowned
as Edward the Fifth, but he was a king in name only.  Scarcely had the
coronation taken place when his bad uncle, under the pretence of
offering his protection, got him into his power, and shut him up, with
his young brother Richard, in the Tower, while he himself plotted for
the crown to which he had neither right nor title.

How he succeeded in his evil schemes history has recorded.

By dint of falsehood and cunning he contrived to make himself
acknowledged king by an unwilling people; and then, when the height of
his ambition had been attained, he could not rest till those whom he had
so shamefully robbed of their inheritance were out of his path.

Therefore it was he sent his messenger to Sir Robert Brackenbury.

Foiled in his design of making this officer the instrument of his base
scheme, he summoned to his presence Sir James Tyrrel, a man of reckless
character, ready for whatever might bring him profit or preferment; and
to him he confided his wishes.

That same day Tyrrel started for London, armed with a warrant entrusting
him with the Governorship of the Tower for one day, during which Sir
Robert Brackenbury was to hand over the fortress and all it contained to
his keeping.

The brave knight had nothing for it but to obey this order, though he
well knew its meaning, and could foretell only too readily its result.

In a lofty room of that gloomy fortress, that same summer evening, the
two hapless brothers were sitting, little dreaming of the fate so nearly
approaching.

The young king had indeed for some time past seemed to entertain a vague
foreboding that he would never again breathe the free air outside his
prison.  He had grown melancholy, and the buoyant spirits of youth had
given place to a listlessness and heaviness strangely out of keeping
with his tender years.  He cared neither for talk nor exercise, and
neglected both food and dress.  His brother, two years younger than
himself, was of a more hopeful demeanour, perhaps realising less fully
the hardships and dangers of their present imprisonment.  As they sat
this evening in their lonely chamber, he tried to rally his elder
brother from his melancholy.

"Look not so black, brother; we shall soon be free.  Why should we give
up hope?"

The young king answered nothing, and apparently did not heed his
brother's words.

"Nay," persisted the latter, "should we not be glad our lives are spared
us, and that our imprisonment is made easy by the care of good Sir
Robert, our governor?"

Still Edward remained absorbed in his own gloomy reflections, and the
younger lad, thus foiled in his efforts at cheerfulness, became silent
too, and sad, and so continued till a warder entered their chamber with
food, and remained to attend them to bed.

They tasted little that evening, for the shadow of what was to come
seemed already to have crept over their spirits.

"Will Sir Robert come to see us, as is his wont, before we retire to
rest?" inquired Richard of the warder.

"Sir Robert is not now Governor of the Tower," curtly replied the man.

Now indeed they felt themselves utterly friendless, and as they crept to
their bed they clung one to the other, in all the loneliness of despair.

Then the warder took his leave, and they heard the key turn in the lock
behind him, and counted his footsteps as he descended the stairs.

Presently sleep mercifully fell upon their weary spirits, and closed
their weeping eyes with her gentle touch.

At dead of night three men stole up the winding staircase that led to
their chamber, armed, and carrying a light.  The leader of these was Sir
James Tyrrel, and his evil-looking companions were the men he had hired
to carry out the cruel order of the king.  The key turned in the door,
and they entered the apartment.

It was a sight to touch any heart less hard than those of the three
villains who now witnessed it, to see those two innocent boys sleeping
peacefully in each other's arms, dreaming perhaps of liberty, and
forgetting the sorrow which had left its traces even yet on their closed
eyes.  But to Tyrrel and his two assassins, Forest and Deighton, the
spectacle suggested neither pity nor remorse.

At a signal from Tyrrel, who remained outside the room while the deed
was being done, the ruffians snatched the pillows from under the heads
of the sleepers, and ere they could either resist or cry out the poor
lads were stifled beneath their own bedclothes, and so perished.

Then these two murderers called to Tyrrel to enter and look on their
work, and bear witness that the king's command had been faithfully
executed.

The cup of Richard's wickedness was now full.  He concealed for some
time the fate of his two victims, and few people knew what had become of
their rightful king and his brother.  But the vengeance of Heaven fell
on the cruel uncle speedily and terribly.  His own favourite son died,
his family turned against him, his people rebelled: the kingdom so
evilly gained was taken from him, and he himself, after months of
remorse, and fear, and gathering misfortunes, was slain in battle,
lamented by none, and hated by all.

Two centuries later, in the reign of King Charles the Second, some
workmen, digging in the Tower, discovered under the stairs leading to
the chapel of the White Tower a box containing the bones of two
children, corresponding to the ages of the murdered princes.  These were
found to be without doubt their remains, and in a quiet comer of
Westminster Abbey, whither they were removed, a simple memorial now
marks their last resting-place, and records the fact of their cruel
murder by perhaps the worst king who ever sat upon the throne of
England.



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

EDWARD OF LANCASTER, THE BOY WHOSE LIFE A ROBBER SAVED.

A terrible scene might have been witnessed near the small town of
Hexham, in Northumberland, one May afternoon in the year 1464.  A great
battle had just been fought and won.  Civil war, with all its hideous
accompaniments, had laid desolate those fair fields where once cattle
were wont to browse and peasants to follow their peaceful toil.  But now
all was confusion and tumult.  On the ground in heaps lay men and
horses, dead and dying--the vanquished were crying for mercy, the
victors were shouting for vengeance.  The country for miles round was
alive with fugitives and their pursuers.  Women, children, and old men,
as well as soldiers, joined in that panic flight; and shrieks, and
shouts, and groans told only too plainly of the slaughter and terror of
the pursuit.  To slaughter the victors added robbery and outrage.  Far
and wide they scoured the country in quest of victims and booty; houses
were burned, villages were desolated, fields were laid bare, nor till
night mercifully fell over the land did that scene of terror end.  War
is indeed a terrible scourge, and civil war the most terrible of all.

But while many of those who pursued did so in a blind thirst after
plunder and blood, there were others more determined in their going,
whose object was rather to capture than to slay, who passed without
heeding the common fugitives, and gave chase only to such parties as
seemed to be covering the flight of persons of distinction from the
scene of their disaster.  Of such parties one was known to contain the
King of England, nobles, and officers, whom the victors desired to make
captive and get into their power; while it was also rumoured that the
Queen herself, with her youthful son, was among the fugitives.  The
soldiers of the Duke of York would indeed have been elated, had they
succeeded in getting into their power the king and his son, whose throne
they had seized for their own leader, and so they followed hard after
the flying host in all directions.

That same evening, as the sun was sinking, and the distant sounds of
battle were growing faint in the air, a tall, stately woman, leading by
the hand a boy of scarcely six years, walked hastily in the direction of
a wood which skirted the banks of the River Tyne.  It was evident from
her dress and the jewels she wore that she was a lady of no ordinary
importance, and a certain imperious look in her worn face seemed to
suggest that she was one of those more used to ruling than obeying, to
receiving honour rather than rendering it.  The boy who accompanied her
was also richly dressed, and reflected in his handsome face the proud
nature of his mother, as this lady seemed to be.  Just at present,
however, his expression was one of terror.  He clung eagerly to the hand
of his protectress, and once and again cast a frightened look behind, as
if expecting to get sight of the pursuers, from whose clutches they were
even now seeking shelter.

"Mother," said the lad, as they entered the wood, and for the first time
abated somewhat of their hurried progress, "I am weary and hungry.  May
we not rest here awhile and eat something?"

"My child," said the lady, "there is naught here to eat, and we must go
farther ere we are safe from our cruel foes."

So they went on, deep into the gloomy shade of the wood, till they were
far beyond the sight of the outer world, and where the rays of the
setting sun scarce gave the feeblest light.

"Mother," said the boy presently, "this is an awful place; we shall die
here."

"Fear not, my child," replied the lady bravely.  "Heaven will protect us
when none else can."

"But do not robbers abound in these woods?  Have I not heard you say
so?"

"It is true; but they will not hurt thee or me.  Remember whose son thou
art."

"Ay, I am the king's son; but I would fain have a morsel to eat."

Just then there was a crackling among the underwood, and a sound of
voices approaching the spot.

The boy clutched his mother's hand and trembled.  She stood pale and
motionless.

The sound of feet grew nearer, and presently the voices of those who
spoke became distinguishable.

"Some will be sure to find their way to this wood," said one.

"I hope such as do may have full purses," said another.  "I have taken
nothing these three days."

"Ay, truly, and these wars have made folk so poor, they are not worth
robbing when we do find them."

"Soft! methought I heard a voice!" suddenly said one of the speakers.

The band halted and listened, and then, hearing nothing, pushed on.

"It's as likely as not we might fall in with royalty itself this night,
for I hear the king's rout has been complete at Hexham."

"And more than that, he has fled from the field in one direction, while
his queen and son have sought another!"

"Hist!" again cried he who had spoken before.  "I certainly heard a
voice.  This way, my men; follow me."

And advancing at as rapid a pace as the wooded ground allowed of, he
conducted them in the direction of the voices.  Suddenly they emerged
into a clearing, where confronted them the lady and her boy.

Loud laughed these greedy robbers, for they spied the jewels on the
lady's person and the rich robes on her and her son.

Like cowardly ruffians, as _they_ were, they rushed forward, heedless of
the sex or age of their victims, and threatening to slay them should
they resist, tore away jewels, and gold, and silk--all that was of
value, roughly handling the two in so doing, and meeting every attempt
to speak or resist with the menace of a drawn sword.

It was a rich plunder, for the lady's jewels were large and precious,
and, besides, she bore about her no small quantity of gold and other
treasure.  When they had taken all they could lay their wicked hands on,
the men fell to dividing among themselves their ill-gotten booty,
glorying as they did so in their crime, and laughing brutally at the
expense of their two defenceless victims.

As might be supposed, the task of dividing the spoil was one not quietly
accomplished.  The robbers began to argue as to the division, and from
arguing they went on to disputing, and from disputing they came to
fighting, in the midst of which the lady and her boy took an opportunity
to escape unobserved into the thicket, and hasten as best they might
from the reach of their plunderers.

Thus they fled, robbed and penniless, exposed to the cold evening air,
famishing for lack of food, smarting under insult and wrong, and not
knowing where next to turn for shelter or safety.

The courage of the lady, hitherto so conspicuous, now fairly gave way.
She sat down on the ground, and taking her boy to her arms, abandoned
herself to a flood of tears.  "My son," she cried, "better if we had
died by the sword of our enemies, than die a shameful death in these
woods!  Alas! was ever woman so miserable as I?"

"But, mother," said the boy, who now in turn took upon him the office of
comforter, "the robbers left us with our lives, and we shall surely find
some food here.  Cheer up, mother; did you not tell me God would take
care of us when no one else could?"

The mother's only answer was to take her boy in a closer embrace and
kiss him passionately.

Suddenly there appeared before them a man of fierce aspect, holding in
his hand a drawn sword.

Escape was impossible; robbed as they already were, they had nothing but
their lives to offer to this wild ruffian.  And would he scruple to
murder where he could not rob?

The courage of the lady, in this desperate case, returned as quickly as
it had lately deserted her.

A sudden resolution gleamed in her face; then, rising majestically to
her feet, and taking by the hand her trembling boy, she advanced proud
and stately towards the robber.  The man halted wonderingly.  There was
something in the imperious bearing of this tall, beautiful lady--
something in the appealing looks of the gallant boy--which for a moment
cowed his lawless resolve, and made him hesitate.

Noticing this, the lady advanced close to him, and said in clear,
majestic tones,--

"Behold, my friend, I commit to your care the safety of your king's
son!"

The man started back in astonishment, the sword dropped from his hand,
and a look, half of alarm, half of perplexity, took possession of his
face.

Then he fell on one knee, and respectfully bowed almost to the earth.

"Art thou, then, our good Queen Margaret?"

"I am she."

"And this youth, is he indeed our royal master's son?"

"Even so."

Once more the wild man bowed low.  Then the queen bade him arise, told
him how she and the young prince had come into the plight, and ended by
asking if he could give them food and shelter for a short time.

"All I have is your majesty's," said the man, "even my life.  I will at
once conduct you to my humble dwelling."  And he lifted the weary boy
tenderly in his arms, and led the queen to his cottage in the wood,
where they got both food and shelter, and every care and attention from
the robber's good wife.

"Mother," said the young prince that night, "thou saidst right, that
Heaven would protect us."

"Ay, my boy, and will still protect us!"

For some days they rested at the cottage, tended with endless care by
the loyal robber and his wife, until the pursuit from the battle of
Hexham was over.  Then, with the aid of her protector, the queen made
her way to the coast, where a vessel waited to convey her and the prince
to Flanders.  Thus, for a time they escaped from all their dangers.  Had
the young prince lived to become King of England, we may be sure that
the kind act of the robber would not have been suffered to die
unrewarded.  But, alas!  Edward of Lancaster was never King of England.

The Wars of the Roses, as we all know, resulted in the utter defeat of
the young prince's party.  He was thirteen years old when the rival
Houses of York and Lancaster fought their twelfth battle in the meadow
at Tewkesbury.  On that occasion Edward fought bravely in his own cause,
but he and his followers were completely routed by the troops of King
Edward the Fourth.  Flying from the field of battle, he was arrested and
brought before the young king.

"How dared you come here?" wrathfully inquired the usurper.

"To recover my father's crown and my own inheritance," boldly replied
the prince.

Whereat, the history says, Edward struck at him with his iron gauntlet,
and his attendants fell upon him and slew him with their swords.



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

EDWARD THE SIXTH, THE GOOD KING OF ENGLAND.

It was a strange moment in the history of England when the great King
Henry the Eighth.  ("Bluff King Hal," as his subjects called him)
breathed his last.  However popular he may have been on account of his
courage and energy, he possessed vices which must always withhold from
him the name of a _good_ king, and which, in fact, rendered his reign a
continuous scene of cruelty and oppression.  People were sick of hearing
of the king and his wives--how he had beheaded one, and put away
another, and ill-treated another, for no reason at all but his own
selfish caprice.  And men trembled for their lives when they remembered
how Wolsey, and More, and Cromwell, and others had been sacrificed to
the whimsical temper of this tyrannical sovereign.  England, in fact,
was tired out when Henry the Eighth died.

It was, at any rate, a change for them to find that their new king was
in every respect the opposite of his father.  Instead of the burly, hot-
headed, self-willed, cruel Henry, they were now to be ruled by a frail,
delicate, mild boy of nine, inheriting neither his father's vices nor
his faults, and resembling him as little in mind as in body.  But the
chief difference of all was this--that this boy-king was _good_.

A _good_ King of England.  It was indeed and, alas! a novelty.  How
many, counting back to the day when the country first knew a ruler,
could be so described?  Had not the sceptre of England passed, almost
without exception, down a line of usurpers, murderers, robbers, and
butchers, and was it not a fact that the few kings who had not been
knaves had been merely fools?

But now England had a good king and a clever king, what might not be
expected of him?

On the day of his coronation all sorts of rumours were afloat respecting
young Edward.  Boy though he was, he was a scholar, and wrote letters in
Latin.  Young in years, he was mature in thought, he was a staunch
Protestant, an earnest Christian.  Tudor though he was, he loved peace,
and had no pleasure in the sufferings of others.  Was ever such a king?

"Alas," said some one, "that he is but a boy!"

The sight which presented itself within the walls of that gloomy
fortress, the Tower of London, on the day of Edward the Sixth's
proclamation, was an impressive one.  Amidst a crowd of bishops and
nobles, who bowed low as he advanced, the pale boy-king came forward to
receive the homage of his new subjects.

Surely, thought some, as they looked, that little head is not fitted to
the wearing of an irksome crown.  But, for the most part, the crowd
cheered, and shouted, "God save the king!" and not one was there who
found it in his heart to wish young Edward Tudor ill.

The papist ceremony which had always before accompanied the coronation
of English kings was now for the first time dispensed with.  With joy
the people heard good old Archbishop Cranmer urge the new king to see
God truly worshipped, according to the doctrines of the Reformed
religion; and with joy they heard the boy declare before them all his
intention to rule his country according to the rules of God's Word and
the Protestant faith.

Still, as we have said, many in the midst of their joy sighed as they
looked at the frail boy, and wondered how so young a head would bear up
amid all the perils and dangers of kingship; and well they might pity
him.

The reign of Edward the Sixth is chiefly a history of the acts of his
uncle, the Duke of Somerset, the Protector, and of the dissensions which
embittered the government of that nobleman, leading finally to his death
on the scaffold.  Of Edward himself we do not hear much.  We have
occasional glimpses of him at his studies, under tutors chosen and
superintended by Cranmer; but he does not seem to have taken much part--
how could a boy of his age be expected to do so?--in the active duty of
governing.

We know that such acts as the removal of popish restrictions from the
clergy and people, the publication of the Book of Common Prayer, and the
discouragement of all idolatrous and superstitious practices, had his
hearty sympathy.  In these and in such-like useful measures he
interested himself, but as for the troubles and commotions of his reign,
he had nothing to do with them.

His nobles, on the other hand, were by no means so passive.  They made
war in the king's name on Scotland, to capture a baby-wife for the poor
boy, who was scarcely in his teens; they--accused and impeached one
another; they brought their death warrants to Edward to sign, whether he
liked or no (and he never did like); they persecuted those who disagreed
with them; they goaded the common people into rebellion; they schemed
how they should make their own fortunes after the young invalid was
dead, and to that end worked upon his weakness and his timidity actually
to disinherit his own sisters.

In the midst of all this disturbance, and scheming, and distress, we can
picture the poor, confused, sickly boy seeking refuge in his books,
shrinking from the angry bustle of the court, and spending his days with
his grave tutors in quiet study.  Reluctantly, once and again, he was
forced to come out from his retreat to give the sanction of his
authority to some act of his ambitious nobles.  With what trembling hand
would he sign the death warrants they presented! with what weariness
would he listen to their wrangles and accusations! with what distress
would he hear discussions as to who was to wear that crown of his when
he himself should be in the grave!

That time was not long in coming.  He was not fifteen when an attack of
smallpox laid him on his deathbed; and while all the court was busy
plotting and counterplotting as to the disposal of the crown, the poor
boy-king lay there almost neglected, or watched only by those who waited
the moment of his death with impatience.  As the disease took deeper and
fatal hold of him, all forsook him save an incompetent quack nurse; and
how far she may have helped on the end no one can tell.

But for him death was only a happy release from a world of suffering.  A
few hours before his end he was heard to speak something; and those who
listened discovered that the boy, thinking himself alone, was praying.
One has recorded those closing words of that strange, sad life: "Lord,
deliver me out of this wretched and miserable life, and take me among
Thy chosen: howbeit not my will, but Thine be done.  Lord, I commit my
spirit to Thee.  O Lord, Thou knowest how happy it were for me to be
with Thee; yet, for the sake of Thy chosen, send me life and health,
that I may truly serve Thee.  O my Lord God, bless Thy people, and save
Thine inheritance.  O Lord God, save Thy chosen people of England.  O my
Lord God, defend this realm from papistry, and maintain Thy true
religion, that I and my people may praise Thy holy name, for Thy Son
Jesus Christ's sake."

And with these words on his lips, and these prayers for England in his
heart, the good young king died.  Who knows if by his piety and his
prayers he may not have brought more blessing to his country than many a
battle and many a law of less Godfearing monarchs?

What he would have done for England had he been spared to manhood, it is
not possible to say.  A diary which he kept during his life affords
abundant proof that even at his tender age he possessed not a little of
the sagacity and knowledge necessary to good kingship; and a manhood of
matured piety and wisdom might have materially altered the course of
events in the history of England of that time.

One boon at least he has left behind him, besides his unsullied name and
example.  Scattered about the counties of England are not a few schools
which bear his name.  It is possible that a good many of my readers are
to be found among the scholars of the Bluecoat School, and of the King
Edward Grammar Schools in various parts of the country.  They, at least,
will understand the gratitude which this generation owes to the good
young king who so materially advanced the learning of which he himself
was so fond, by the establishment of these schools.  He was one of the
few of his day who saw that the glory of a country consists not in its
armies and exchequers, but in the religious and moral enlightenment of
its people; and to that glory his own life was, and remains still, a
noble contribution.



CHAPTER THIRTY.

HENRY STUART, THE BOY WHOM A NATION LOVED.

In the courtyard of a Scottish castle, over which floated the royal
banner, a curious scene might have been witnessed one morning nearly
three centuries ago.  The central figures of the scene were a horse and
a boy, and the attendant crowd of courtiers, grooms, lackeys; while from
an open window, before which every one in passing bowed low, an
ungainly-looking man watched what was going on with a strangely anxious
excitement.  The horse was saddled and bridled, but, with an ominous
roll of his eyes, and a savage expansion of his nostrils, which bespoke
only too plainly his fierce temper, defied every attempt on the part of
the grooms to hold him steady.  The boy, scarcely in his teens, was
evidently a lad of distinction, as might be inferred from his gallant
dress, and the deferential demeanour of those who now advanced, and
endeavoured to dissuade him from a rash and perilous adventure.

"Beware, my lord," said one, "how you peril your life in this freak!"

"The animal," said another, "has never yet been ridden.  See how even
now he nearly pulls the arms of the grooms from their sockets."

"Lad," cried the ungainly man from the window, "dinna be a fool, I tell
ye!  Let the beast be."

But the boy laughed gaily at them all.

"Such a fuss about an ordinary horse!  Let him go, men, and leave him to
me."

And he advanced and boldly took the rein, which the grooms unwillingly
relinquished.

There was something about the resolute bearing of the boy which for a
moment seemed to impress the horse himself, for, pricking his ears and
rolling his bloodshot eyes upon him, he desisted from his struggles and
stood still.

The lad put out a hand and patted his neck, and in doing so secured a
firm clutch of the mane in his hand; the next instant his foot was in
the stirrup, and the next he had vaulted into the saddle, before the
horse had recovered from his astonishment.

Once in, no effort of the untamed beast could succeed in ousting him
from his seat.  In vain it reared and plunged; in vain it pulled and
careered round the yard; he stuck to his seat as if he grew there, and
with cool eye and quiet smile seemed even to enjoy his position.  After
many unavailing efforts the horse seemed to yield his vicious will to
the stronger will of his rider, and then the boy, lashing him into a
gallop, fairly put him through his paces before all the spectators, and
finally walked him quietly up to the window at which the ungainly man,
trembling, and with tears in his eyes, had all the while watched his
exploit.  Here he halted, and beckoning to his attendants, dismounted
and gave back the horse to their charge, saying as he did so--

"How long shall I continue a child in your opinion?"

Such is one of the recorded characteristic anecdotes of Prince Henry
Stuart, eldest son of James the First of England.

Henry was only nine years old when a certain event entirely changed the
prospects and circumstances of his early home.  Instead of being the
poor king of a poverty-stricken country, his father suddenly became
monarch of one of the richest and most powerful countries of Europe.  In
other words, on the death of Queen Elizabeth James the Sixth of Scotland
found himself James the First of England.

He came to the throne amid the mingled joy and misgivings of his new
subjects.  How soon he destroyed the one and confirmed the other,
history has recorded, and we are not going to dwell upon that here,
except to say that one of the few redeeming points about James the First
in the eyes of the people was that he had a son who promised to make up
by his virtues for all the vice and silliness of his father.  They could
endure the whims of their ill-conditioned king all the better for
knowing that after him was to come a prince after their own heart, one
of English sympathies and English instincts; one who even as a boy had
won their hearts by his pluck, his frankness, and his wit, and who, as
he grew up, developed into a manhood as vigorous and noble as that of
his father was mean and imbecile.

Henry was, as we have said, emphatically an English boy--not in birth,
for his father was Scotch and his mother a Dane--but in every other
respect in which an English boy has a distinctive character.  He was
brave and honest, and merry and generous; his delight was in athletic
exercise and manly sports; the anecdote we have quoted will testify to
his skill and pluck.  We read of him living at one time at Richmond, and
swimming daily in the Thames; of his riding more than 100 miles in one
day; of his hunting, and tennis playing, and shooting.  The people could
not fail to love one who so thoroughly entered into their sports, or to
admire him all the more for his proficiency in them.

But, unlike some boys, Henry did not cultivate physical exercises at the
expense of his mind.  Many stories are related of his wit and his
learning.  A joke at his expense was generally a dangerous adventure,
for he always got the best at an exchange of wit.  Among his friends
were some of the greatest and best men of the day, notably Raleigh; and
in such society the lad could not fail to grow up imbued with principles
of wisdom and honour, which would go far to qualify him for the position
he expected to hold.

His ambition was to enter upon a military career, such as those in which
so many of his predecessors had distinguished themselves.  In this he
received more encouragement from the people than from his own timid
father, who told him his brother Charles would make a better king than
he, unless Henry spent more time at his books and less at his pike and
his bow.  The people, on the other hand, were constantly comparing their
young prince with the great Henry the Fifth, the hero of Agincourt, and
predicting of him as famous deeds as those recorded of his illustrious
namesake.  However, as it happened, there was no war into which the
young soldier could enter at that time, so that he had to content
himself with martial exercises and contests at home, which, though not
so much to his own taste, made him no less popular with his father's
subjects.

In Henry Stuart the old school of chivalry had nearly its last
representative.  The knightly Kings of England had given place, after
the Wars of the Roses, to sovereigns whose strength lay more in the
council chamber than on the field of battle; but now, after a long
interval, the old dying spirit flickered up once more in the person of
this boy.  Once again, after many, many years, the court went to witness
a tournament, when in the tiltyard of Whitehall, before king and queen,
and lords and ladies, and ambassadors, the Prince of Wales at the head
of six young nobles defended the lists against all comers.  There is
something melancholy about the record--the day for such scenes had gone
by, and its spirit had departed from the nation.  The boy had his sport
and his honestly earned applause; but when it was all over the old
chivalry returned to the grave, never to appear again.

Henry himself only too soon, alas! sunk into that grave also.  The
closing years of his life leave many a pleasing trace of kindness, and
justice, and earnestness.  The boy was no mere boisterous schoolboy.  He
pondered and prepared himself for what he thought was his path in life;
he foresaw its responsibilities, and he faced its duties, and set
himself like a man to bear his part as a true king should.

It was not to be.  Suddenly his health failed him--the tall boy had
overgrown his strength before he knew it.  Heedless of fatigue and
exposure, he pursued his vigorous exercises, and what had been his life
became his death.  A cold taken during a game of tennis, when he was in
his eighteenth year, developed into a fever, and for days he lay between
life and death.  The nation waited with strange anxiety for the issue,
and a cloud seemed to fall over the length and breadth of the land.

Then he became worse.

"My sword and armour!" he cried; "I must be gone!" and after that the
brave boy died.

The people mourned him as their own son; and years after, when England
was plunged deep in the miseries and horrors of civil war, many there
were who cried in their distress,--

"If but our Henry had lived, all this had not been!"



CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

THE TROUBLES OF A DAWDLER.

I was born a dawdler.  As an infant, if report speaks truly, I dawdled
over my food, over my toilet, and over my slumbers.  Nothing (so I am
told) could prevail on me to stick steadily to my bottle till it was
done; but I must needs break off a dozen times in the course of a single
meal to stare about me, to play with the strings of my nurse's cap, to
speculate on the sunbeams that came in at the window; and even when I
did bring myself to make the effort, I took such an unconscionable time
to consume a spoonful that the next meal was wellnigh due before I had
made an end of a first.

As to dressing me in the morning, it took a good two hours.  Not that I
rebelled and went on strike over the business, but it was really too
much of an effort to commit first one foot and then the other for the
reception of my socks, and when that operation was accomplished a long
interval always elapsed before I could devote my energy to the steering
of my arms into sleeves, and the disposal of my waist to the adjustment
of a sash.  Indeed, I believe I am doing myself more than justice when I
put forward two hours as the time spent in personal decoration during
those tender years.

But of all my infant duties the one I dawdled over most was going to
sleep.  The act of laying me in my little cot seemed to be the signal
for waking me to a most unwonted energy.  Instead of burying my nose in
the pillows, as most babies do, I must needs struggle into a sitting
posture, and make night vocal with crows and calls.  I must needs chew
the head of my indiarubber doll, or perform a solo on my rattle--
anything, in fact, but go to sleep like a respectable, well-conducted
child.

If my mother came and rocked my cradle, I got alarmingly lively and
entered into the sport with spirit.  If she, with weary eyes and
faltering voice, attempted to sing me to sleep, I lent my shrill treble
to aid my own lullaby; or else I lay quiet with my eyes wide open, and
defied every effort to coax them into shutting.

Not that I was wilfully perverse or bad--I am proud to say no one can
lay that to my charge; but I was a dawdler, one who from my earliest
years could not find it in me to settle down promptly to anything--nay,
who, knowing a certain thing was to be done, therefore deferred the
doing of it as long as possible.

Need I say that as I grew older and bequeathed my long clothes and cot
to another baby, I dawdled still?

My twin brother's brick house was roofed in before my foundations were
laid.  Not that I could not build as quickly and as well as he, if I
chose.  I could, but I never chose.  While he, with serious face and
rapt attention, piled layer upon layer, and pinnacle upon pinnacle,
absorbed in his architectural ambition, I sat by watching him, or
wondering who drew the beautiful picture on the lid of my box, or
speculating on the quantity of bricks I should use in my building, but
always neglecting to set myself to work till Jim's shout of triumph
declared his task accomplished.  Then I took a fit of industry till my
tower was half built, and by that time the bricks had to be put away.

When we walked abroad with nurse I was sure to lag behind to look at
other children, or gaze into shops.  Many a time I narrowly escaped
being lost as the result.  Indeed, one of my earliest recollections is
of being conducted home in state by a policeman, who had found me
aimlessly strolling about a churchyard, round which I had been
accompanying the nurse and the perambulator, until I missed them both, a
short time before.

My parents, who had hitherto been inclined to regard my besetting sin
(for even youngsters of four may have besetting sins) as only a childish
peculiarity, at last began to take note of my dawdling propensities, and
did their best to cure me of them.  My father would watch me at my play,
and, when he saw me flagging, encourage me to persevere in whatever I
was about, striving to rouse my emulation by pitting me against my
playmates.  For a time this had a good effect; but my father had
something better to do than always preside at our nursery sports, and I
soon relapsed into my old habits.

My mother would talk and tell stories to us; and always, whenever my
attention began to fail, would recall me to order by questions or direct
appeals.  This, too, as long as it was fresh, acted well; but I soon got
used to it, and was as bad as ever.  Indeed, I was a confirmed dawdler
almost before I was able to think or act for myself.

When I was eight, it was decided to send me and Jim to school--a day
school, near home, presided over by a good lady, and attended by some
dozen other boys.  Well, the novelty of the thing pleased me at first,
and I took an interest in my spelling and arithmetic, so that very soon
I was at the top of my class.  Of course my father and mother were
delighted.  My father patted me on the head, and said, "I knew he could
be diligent, if he chose."

And my mother kissed me, and called me her brave boy; so altogether I
felt very virtuous, and rather pitied Jim, who was six from the top,
though he spent longer over his sums than I did.

But, alas! after the first fortnight, the novelty of Mrs Sparrow's
school wore off.  Instead of pegging along briskly to be in time, I
pulled up once or twice on the road to investigate the wonders of a
confectioner's window, or watch the men harness the horses for the
omnibus, till suddenly I would discover I had only five minutes to get
to school in time, and so had to run for my life the rest of the way,
only overtaking Jim on the very doorstep.  Gradually my dawdling became
more prolonged, until one day I found myself actually late.  Mrs
Sparrow frowned, Jim looked frightened, my own heart beat for terror,
and I heard the awful sentence pronounced, "You must go to the bottom of
the class."

I made up my mind this should be the last occasion on which such a
penalty should be mine.  But, alas! the very next day the confectioner
had a wonderful negro figure in his window made all of sweets, his face
of liquorice and his shirt of sugar, his lips of candy and his eyes of
brandy-balls.  I was spellbound, and could not tear myself away.  And
when I did, to add to my misfortunes, there was a crowd outside the
omnibus stables to watch the harnessing of a new and very frisky horse.
Of course I had to witness this spectacle, and the consequence was I got
to school half an hour late, and was again reprimanded and stood in the
corner.

This went on from bad to worse.  Not only did I become unpunctual, but I
neglected my lessons till the last moment, and then it was too late to
get them off, though I could learn as much in a short time as any of the
boys.  All this grieved poor Mrs Sparrow, who talked to my parents
about it, who talked very seriously to me.  My father looked unhappy, my
mother cried; Mrs Sparrow (who was present at the interview) was
silent, and I wept loudly and promised to reform--honestly resolving I
would do so.

Well, for a week I was a model of punctuality and industry; but then the
confectioner changed his sugar negro for an elephant made all of toffee,
and I was once more beguiled.  Once more from top of my class I sank to
the bottom; and though after that I took fits and starts of regularity
and study, I never was able for long together to recover my place, and
Mrs Sparrow fairly gave me up as a bad job.

What was to be done?  I was growing up.  In time my twelfth birthday
arrived, and it was _time_ I went to boarding school.

I could see with what anxiety my parents looked forward to the time, and
I inwardly reproached myself for being the cause of their trouble.
"Perhaps," thought I, "I shall get all right at Welford," and having
consoled myself with that possibility I thought no more about it.  My
father talked very earnestly to me before I left home for the first time
in my life.  He had no fears, he said, for my honesty or my good
principles; but he had fears for my perseverance and diligence.  "Either
you must conquer your habit of dawdling," he said, "or it will conquer
you."  I was ready to promise any sacrifice to be cured of this enemy;
but he said, "No, lad, don't promise, but remember and do!"  And then he
corded up my trunk and carried it downstairs.  I cannot to this day
recall my farewell with my mother without tears.  It is enough to say
that I quitted the parental home determined as I never was before to do
my duty and fight against my besetting sin, and occupied that doleful
day's journey with picturing to myself the happiness which my altered
habits would bring to the dear parents whom I was leaving behind.

I pass over my first week at Welford.  It was a new and wonderful world
to me; very desolate at first, but by degrees more attractive, till at
last I went the way of all schoolboys, and found myself settled down to
my new life as if I had never known another.

All this time I had faithfully kept my resolution.  I was as punctual as
clockwork, and as diligent as an ant.  Nothing would tempt me to abate
my attention in the preparation of my lessons; no seductions of cricket
or fishing would keep me late for "call over."  I had already gained the
approval of my masters, I had made my mark in my class, and I had
written glowing letters home, telling of my kept resolutions, and
wondering why they should ever before have seemed difficult to adhere
to.

But as I got better acquainted with some of my new schoolfellows it
became less easy to stick steadily to work.  I happened to find myself
in hall one evening, where we were preparing our tasks for next day,
seated next to a lively young scapegrace, whose tongue rattled
incessantly, and who, not content to be idle himself, must needs make
every one idle too.

"What a muff you are, Charlie," he said to me once, as I was poring over
my _Caesar_ and struggling desperately to make out the meaning of a
phrase--"what a muff you are, to be grinding away like that!  Why don't
you use a crib?"

"What's a crib?"  I inquired.

"What, don't you know what a crib is?  It's a translation.  I've got
one.  I'll lend it to you, and you will be able to do your _Caesar_ with
it like winking."

I didn't like the notion at first, and went on hunting up the words in
the dictionary till my head ached.  But next evening he pulled the
"crib" out of his pocket and showed it to me.  I could not resist the
temptation of looking at it, and no sooner had I done so than I found it
gave at a glance the translation it used to take me an hour to get at
with the dictionary.  So I began to use the "crib" regularly; and thus,
getting my lessons quickly done, I gradually began to relapse into my
habits of dawdling.

Instead of preparing my lessons steadily, I now began to put off
preparation till the last moment, and then galloped them off as best I
could.  Instead of writing my exercises carefully, I drew skeletons on
the blotting-paper; instead of learning off my tenses, I read _Robinson
Crusoe_ under the desk, and trusted to my next-door neighbour to prompt
me when my turn came.

For a time my broken resolutions did not effect any apparent change in
my position in the classes or in the eyes of my masters.  I was what
Evans (the boy who lent me the "crib") called lucky.  I was called on to
translate just the passages I happened to have got off, or was
catechised on the declensions of my pet verb, and so kept up
appearances.

But that sort of thing could not go on for ever, and one day my exposure
took place.

I had dawdled away my time the evening previously with one thing and
another, always intending to set to work, but never doing so.  My books
had lain open before me untouched, except when I took a fancy to
inscribing my name some scores of times on the title-page of each; my
dictionary remained shot and unheeded, except when I rounded the corners
of the binding with my penknife.  I had played draughts clandestinely
with Evans part of the time, and part of the time I had lolled with my
elbows on the desk, staring at the head of the fellow in front of me.

Bedtime came, and I had not looked at my work.

"I'll wake early and cram it up," thought I, as I turned in.

I did wake up, but though the book was under my pillow I let the half-
hour before getting up slip away unused.  At breakfast I made an effort
to glance at the lesson, but the boy opposite was performing such
wonderful tricks of balancing with his teaspoon and saucer and three
bread-crusts, that I could not devote attention to anything else.  The
bell for classes rang ominously.  I rushed to my place with _Caesar_ in
one hand and the "crib" in the other.  I got flurried; I could not find
the place, or, when I found the place in the _Caesar_, I lost it in the
"crib."

The master, to add to my misery, was cross, and began proceedings by
ordering Evans to learn twenty lines for laughing in school-time.  I
glanced at the fellows round me.  Some were taking a last peep at their
books.  Others, with bright and confident faces, waited quietly for the
lesson to begin.  No one that I could see was as badly off as I.  Every
one knew something.  I knew nothing.  Just at the last moment I found
the place in the "crib" and in the _Caesar_ at the same time, but
scarcely had I done so when the awful voice of the master spoke:

"Stand up!"  All dictionaries and notes had now to be put away; all
except the Latin books.

I had contrived _to get_ off the first two lines, and only hoped the
master might pitch on me to begin.  And he did pitch on me.

"Charles Smith," I heard him say, and my heart jumped to my mouth,
"stand forward and begin at `_jamque Caesar_.'"

"Please, sir, we begin at `_His et aliis_,'" I faltered.

"You begin where I tell you, sir," sternly replied he.

A dead silence fell over the class, waiting for me to begin.  I was in
despair.  Oh, if only I had not dawdled!  I would give all my pocket-
money for this term to know a line of that horrid _Caesar_.

"Come, sir, be quick," said the master.

Then I fetched a sigh very like a sob, and began--

"_Que_, and--" I heard the master's foot scrape ominously on the floor.

"_Que_, and--" I repeated.

"_And_ what, sir?" thundered the master, rising in his seat and leaning
across his desk towards me.  It was awful.  I was never more miserable
in my life.

"_Caesar_, Caesar," I stammered.  Here at least was a word I could
translate, so I repeated it--"_Que_, and--_Caesar_, Caesar."

A dead silence, scarcely broken by a titter from the back desks.

"_Jam_," I chokingly articulated, and there stuck.

"Well, sir, and what does _jam_ mean?" inquired the voice, in a tone of
suppressed wrath.

"_Jam_"--again I stuck.

Another dead silence.

"_Que_, and--_Caesar_, Caesar; _jam_"--It was no use; the only jam I
knew of I was certain would not do in this case, so I began again in
despair; "_Que_, and--_Caesar_, Caesar; _jam_--_jam_--_jam_."

The master shut his book, and I knew the storm had burst.

"Smith, have you prepared this lesson?"

"No, sir," I replied, relieved to be able to answer any questions,
however awful.

"Why not, sir?"

Ah! that I could not answer--not to myself, still less to him.  So I was
silent.

"Come to me after school," he said.  "The next boy come forward."

After school I went to him, and he escorted me to the doctor.  No
criminal at the Old Bailey trembled as I did at that interview.  I can't
remember what was said to me.  I know I wildly confessed my sins--my
"cribbing," my wasting of time--and promised to abjure them one and all.

The doctor was solemn and grave, and said a great deal to me that I was
too overawed to understand or remember; after which I was sent back to
my class--a punished, disgraced, and marked boy.

Need I describe my penitence: what a humble letter I wrote home, making
a clean breast of all my delinquencies, and even exaggerating them in my
contrition?  With what grim ceremony I burned my "crib" in my study
fire, and resolved (a resolution, by the way, which I succeeded in
keeping) that, come what might, I would do my lessons honestly, if I did
them at all!

I gave Evans to understand his company at lesson times was not
desirable, and was in a rage with him when he laughed.  I took to rising
early, to filling every spare moment with some occupation, and
altogether started afresh, like a reformed character, as I felt myself
to be, and determined _this_ time, at any rate, my progress should know
no backsliding.  How soon I again fell a victim to dawdling the sequel
will show.

I had a long and painful struggle to recover my lost ground at Welford.

When a boy has once lost his name at school, when his masters have put
him on the black book, when his schoolfellows have got to consider him
as a "fellow in a row," when he himself has learnt to doubt his own
honesty and steadiness--then, I say, it is uphill work for him to get
back to the position from which he has fallen.  He gets little sympathy,
and still less encouragement.  In addition to the natural difficulty of
conquering bad habits, he has to contend against prejudices and
obstacles raised by his own former conduct; no one gives him credit for
his efforts, and no one recognises his reform till all of a sudden,
perhaps long after its completion, it makes itself manifest.

And my reform, alas! consequently never arrived at completion at
Welford.

For a few weeks all went well enough.  My lessons were carefully
prepared; my exercises were well written, and my master had no more
attentive pupil than I.  But, alas!  I too soon again grew confident and
self-satisfied.  Little by little I relaxed; little by little I dawdled,
till presently, almost without knowing it, I again began to slip down
the hill.  And this was in other matters besides my studies.

Instead of keeping up my practice at cricket and field sports, I took to
hulking about the playground with my hands in my pockets.  If I started
on an expedition to find moths or hunt squirrels, I never got half a
mile beyond the school boundaries, and never, of course, caught the
ghost of anything.  If I entered for a race in our school sports, I let
the time go without training, and so was beaten easily by fellows whom I
had always thought my inferiors.  The books I read for my amusement out
of school hours were all abandoned after a chapter or two; my very
letters home became irregular and stupid, and often were altogether
shelved.

And all this time (such is the blindness of some people) I was imagining
I had quite retrieved my lost reputation!  I shall never forget,
however, how at last I discovered that my time at Welford had been
wasted, and that, so far from having got the better of my enemy, I had
become a more confirmed dawdler than ever.

I had come to my last half-year at school, being now seventeen.  My
great desire was to go to Cambridge, which my father had promised I
should do if I succeeded in obtaining a scholarship, which would in part
defray the cost of my residence there.  On this scholarship, therefore,
my heart was bent (as much as a dawdler's heart can be bent on anything)
and I made up my mind to secure it.

The three fellows who were also going in for it were all my juniors, and
considerably below me in the doctor's class; so I had little anxiety as
to the result.

Need I say that this very confidence was fatal to me?  While they were
working night and day, early and late, I was amusing myself with boxing-
gloves and fishing-rods.  While they, with wet towels round their heads,
burnt the midnight oil, I sprawled over a novel in my study.  Of course,
now and then I took a turn at my books, and each inspection tended to
satisfy me with myself better than ever.  "Those duffers will never be
able to get up all that Greek in the time," I said to myself, "and not
one of them knows an atom of mechanics."

Well, the time drew near.  My father had written rejoicing to hear of my
good prospects, and saying how he and mother were constantly thinking of
me in my hard work, and so on.

"Yes," thought I, "they'll be pleased, I know."  About a week before the
examination I looked at my books rather more frequently, and, now and
then (though I would not acknowledge it even to myself), felt my
confidence a trifle wavering.  There were a few things I had not noticed
before, that must be got up with the rest of the subjects, "However, a
day's work will polish them off," said I; "let's see, I've promised to
fish with Wilkins to-morrow--I'll have a go in at them on Thursday."

But Thursday found me fishing too, and on Friday there was a cricket-
match.  However, the examination was not till Tuesday, so there was half
a week yet.

Saturday, of course, was a half-holiday, and though I took another look
at some of my books, and noted one or two other little things that would
have to be got up, I determined that the grand "go in" at, and
"polishing off" of, these subjects should take place on Monday.

On Monday accordingly I set to work.

Glancing from my window--as I frequently did while I was at work--whom
should I see, with a fly-net over his shoulder, but Wilton, one of the
three fellows in against me for the scholarship!  And not long after him
who should appear arm-in-arm in cricket costume, but Johnson and Walker,
the other two!

"Ho! ho!" said I to myself, "nice boys these to be going in for an
exam.!  How can they expect to do anything if they dawdle away their
time in this way!  I declare I quite feel as if I were taking an unfair
advantage of them to be grinding away up here!"

Had I realised that these three fellows had been working incessantly for
the last month, and were now taking a breath of fresh air in
anticipation of the ordeal of the following day, I should have been less
astonished at what I saw, and more inclined to work, at any rate this
day, like mad.

But I allowed my benevolent desire not to take an unfair advantage to
prevail, and was soon far up the stream with my fishing-rod.

So Monday passed.  In the evening I had another turn at my books, but an
unsatisfactory one.

"What's the use of muddling my brain?  I had better take it easy, and be
fresh for to-morrow," thought I, as I shut them up and pushed my chair
back from the table.

Next morning brought me a letter from my father:

"This will reach you on the eventful day.  You know who will be thinking
of their boy every moment.  We are happy to know your success is so
sure; but don't be _too_ confident till it's all well over.  Then we
shall be ready to rejoice with you.  I have already heard of rooms at
Cambridge for you; so you see mother and I are counting our chickens
before they are hatched!  But I have no fears, after what you have told
me."

This letter made me unhappy; the sight of my books made me unhappy; the
sight of Wilton, Johnson, and Walker, fresh and composed, made me
unhappy; the sight of the doctor wishing me good morning made me
unhappy.  I was, in fact, thoroughly uncomfortable.  The list of those
one or two little matters that I had intended to polish off grew every
time I thought of them, till they wellnigh seemed to eclipse the other
subjects about which I felt sure.  What an ass I had been!

"The candidates for the Calton Scholarship are to go to the doctor's
class-room!"

To the doctor's class-room we four accordingly proceeded.

On the way, not to appear nervous, I casually inquired of Wilton if he
had caught any specimens yesterday.

"Yes," he said gaily.  "I got one splendid fellow, a green-winged moth.
I'll show him to you in my study after the exam, is over."

Here was a fellow who could calmly contemplate the end of this day's
ordeal.  I dared not do as much as that!

The doctor affably welcomed us to his room, and bade us be seated.
Several quires of blank paper, one or two pens, a ruler, and ink, were
provided at each of our four desks.

Then a printed paper of questions was handed to each, and the
examination began.

I glanced hurriedly down my paper.  Question 1 was on one of those
subjects which had escaped my observation.  Question 2 was a piece of
translation I did not recognise as occurring in the Greek book I had got
up, and yet I thought I had been thoroughly through it.  Question 3--
well, no one would be able to answer that.  Question 4--oh, horrors!
another of those little points I had meant to polish off.  Thus I
glanced from top to bottom of the paper.  Here and there I fancied I
might be able to give some sort of answer, but as for the rest, I was in
despair.  I dashed my pen into the ink, and wrote my name at the head of
a sheet of paper, and ruled a line underneath it.  Then I dug my fingers
in my hair, and waited for an inspiration.  It was a long time coming.
In the meantime I glanced round at the other three.  They were all
writing hard, and Wilton already had one sheet filled.  Somehow the
sight of Wilton reminded me of the moth he had spoken of.  I wondered if
it was a finer specimen than I had got at home--mine had blue wings and
a horn.  Funny insects moths were!  I wondered if the doctor used to
collect them when he was a boy.  The doctor must be nearly sixty now.
Jolly to be a doctor, and have nothing to do but examine fellows!  I
wondered if Walker's father had written him a letter, and what sort of
nib he (Walker) must be writing with, with such a peculiar squeak--
rather like a frog's squeak.  I wouldn't mind being a frog for some
things; must be jolly to be equally at home on dry ground or in water!
Fancy eating frogs!  Our French master was getting more short-tempered
than ever.

And so I rambled on, while the paper in front of me remained empty.

The inspirations never came.  The hours whizzed past, and my penholder
was nibbled half away.  In vain I searched the ceilings, and my thumb-
nails; they gave me no help.  In vain I read over the examination paper
a score of times.  It was all question and no answer there.  In vain I
stared at the doctor as he sat quietly writing; he had no ideas for me.
In vain I tried to count, from where I sat, how many sheets Johnson had
filled; that did not help to fill mine.  Then I read my questions over
again, very closely, and was in the act of wondering who first decided
that p's should turn one way in print and q's another, when the doctor
said, "Half an hour more!"

I was electrified.  I madly began answering questions at random.
Anything to get my paper filled.  But, fast as I wrote, I could not keep
pace with Wilton, whose pen flew along the paper; and he, I knew, was
writing what would get him marks while I was writing rubbish.  Presently
my attention was diverted by watching Walker gather up and pin together
his papers.  I looked at my watch.  Five minutes more.  At the same time
the doctor took out his.  I could not help wondering if it was a Geneva
or an English watch, and whether it had belonged to his father before
him, as mine had.  Ah! my father, my poor father and mother!

"Cease work, please, and hand in your papers."

I declined Wilton's invitation to come and see his moth, and slunk to my
room miserable and disgusted.

Even now I do not like to recall the interval which elapsed between the
examination and the declaration of the result.  To Johnson, Wilton and
Walker it was an interval of feverish suspense; to me it was one of
stolid despair.  I was ashamed to show my face among my schoolfellows;
ashamed to write home; ashamed to look at a book.  The nearer the day
came the more wretched I grew; I positively became ill with misery, and
begged to be allowed to go home without waiting for the result.

I had a long interview with the doctor before I quitted Welford; but no
good advice of his, no exhortations, could alter my despair.

"My boyhood has been a failure," I said to him, "and I know my manhood
will be one too."

He only looked very sorrowful, and wrung my hand.

The meeting with my parents was worst of all; but over that I draw a
veil.

For months nothing could rouse me from my unhappiness, and in indulging
it I dawdled more than ever.  My prospects of a college life were
blighted, and I had not the energy to face business.  But, as was always
the case, I could not for long together stick to anything; and in due
time I emerged from my wretchedness, an idle, dawdling youth, with no
object in life, no talents to recommend me, nothing to do.

It was deplorable, and my father was nearly heart-broken.  Heroically he
strove to rouse me to activity, to interest me in some pursuit.  He did
for me what I should have done for myself--sought occupation for me, and
spent days and days in his efforts to get me settled in life.  At last
he succeeded in procuring a nomination to a somewhat lucrative
government clerkship; and, for the first time since I left Welford, my
father and mother and I were happy together.  Despite all my demerits, I
was now within reach of a position which many a youth of greater ability
and steadier character might well have envied; and I believe I was
really thankful at my good fortune.

"I will go with you to-morrow," said my father, "when you have to appear
before the head of the department."

"All right," said I; "what time is it?"

"Half-past eleven."

"Well, I must meet you at the place, then, for I promised to see Evans
early in the morning."

"Better go to him to-day," said my mother; "it would be a thousand
pities to be late to-morrow."

"Oh, no fear of that," said I, laughing; "I've too good an eye to my own
interests."

Next morning I went to see Evans, and left him in good time to meet my
father at the stated hour.  But an evil spirit of dawdling seized me as
I went.  I stopped to gaze into shops, to chat with a passing
acquaintance, and to have my boots blacked.  Forgetting the passage of
time altogether, I strolled leisurely along, stopping at the slightest
temptation, and prolonging my halts as if reluctant to advance, when
suddenly I heard the deep bell of Westminster clock chime a quarter.  "A
quarter past eleven," thought I; "I must look sharp."  And I did look
sharp, and reached the place of appointment out of breath.  My father
was at the door.  His face was clouded, and his hand trembled as he laid
it on my shoulder, and said, "Charlie, will _nothing_ save you from
ruin?"

"Ruin!" said I, in amazement; "what do you mean?  What makes you so
late?"

"Late! it's not half-past yet; didn't you tell me half-past eleven was
the time?"

"I did; and it is now just half-past twelve!  The post you were to have
had was filled half an hour ago by one of the other applicants."

I staggered back in astonishment and horror.  Then _it_ flashed on me
that I had dawdled away an hour without knowing it, and with it the
finest opening I ever had in my life.

I must pass over the next two years, and come to the conclusion of my
story.  During those two years I entered upon and left no less than
three employments--each less advantageous than the former.  The end of
that time found me a clerk in a bank in a country town.  In this
capacity my besetting sin was still haunting me.  I had several times
been called into the manager's room, and reprimanded for unpunctuality,
or cautioned for wasting my time.  The few friends who on my first
coming to the town had taken an interest in me had dropped away,
disgusted at my unreliable conduct, or because I myself had neglected
their acquaintance.  My employers had ceased to entrust me with any
commissions requiring promptitude or care; and I was nothing more than
an office drudge--and a very unprofitable drudge too.  Such was my
condition when, one morning, a telegram reached me from my mother to
say--"Father is very ill.  Come at once."

I was shocked at this bad news, and determined to start for London by
the next train.

I obtained leave of absence, and hastened to my lodgings to pack up my
few necessaries for the journey.  By the time I arrived there, the shock
of the telegram had in some way abated, and I was able to contemplate my
journey more calmly.  I consulted a time-table, and found that there was
one train which, by hurrying, I could just catch in a quarter of an
hour, and that the next went in the afternoon.

By the time I had made up my mind which to take, and inquired where a
lad could be found who would carry down my portmanteau to the station,
it was too late to catch the first train, and I therefore had three
hours to spare before I could leave.  This delay, in my anxious
condition, worried me, and I was at a loss how to occupy the interval.
If I had been wise, I should never have quitted that station till I did
so in the train.  But, alas!  I decided to take a stroll instead.  It
was a sad walk, for my father's image was constantly before my eyes, and
I could hardly bear to think of his being ill.  I thought of all his
goodness and forbearance to me, and wondered what would become of us if
he were not to recover.  I wandered on, broken-hearted, and repenting
deeply of all my ingratitude, and the ill return I had made him for his
love to me, and I looked forward eagerly to being able to throw myself
in his arms once more, and beg his forgiveness.

Thus I mused far into the morning, when it occurred to me to look at my
watch.  Was it possible?  It wanted not half an hour of the time for the
train, and I was more than two miles from the place.  I started to walk
rapidly, and soon came in sight of the town.  What fatal madness
impelled me at that moment to stand and look at a ploughing match that
was taking place in a field by the roadside?  For a minute or two my
anxiety, my father, the train, all were forgotten in the excitement of
that contest.  Then I recovered myself and dashed on like the wind.
Once more (as I thought but for an instant) I paused to examine a gipsy
encampment on the border of the wood, and then, reminded by a distant
whistle, hurried forward.  Alas! as I dashed into the station the train
was slowly turning the corner and I sunk down in an agony of despair and
humiliation.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

When I reached home at midnight, my mother met me at the door.

"Well, you are come at last," she said quietly.

"Yes, mother; but father, how is he?"

"Come and see him."

I sprang up the stairs beside her.  She opened the door softly, and bade
me enter.

My father lay there dead.

"He waited for you all day," said my mother, "and died not an hour ago.
His last words were, `Charlie is late.'  Oh, Charlie, why did you not
come sooner?"

Then she knelt with me beside my dead father.  And, in that dark lonely
chamber, that night, the turning-point of my life was reached.

Boys, I am an old man now; but, believe me, since that awful moment I
have never, to my knowledge, dawdled again!



CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

A NIGHT ON SCAFELL PIKE.

Off at last!  Hard work to get off, though; as if a fellow of fifteen
wasn't old enough to take care of himself.  Mother cut up as much as if
I'd asked leave to go to my own funeral--said I was too young, and knew
nothing of the world, and all that sort of thing.  But I don't see what
knowing the world has to do with a week's tramp in the Lakes; not much
of the world there--anyhow, where I mean to go.

I've got it all up in the guide-book, and written out my programme, and
given them my address for every day, and promised to keep a diary, and
always sleep between blankets, for fear the sheets shouldn't be aired--
and what more can a fellow do?

Well, then mother said I must promise to keep in the valleys, and not
attempt to climb any of the mountains.  Oh, ah! lively work that would
be.  I might just as well stay at home and walk round Russell Square
fifty times a day; and I said so, and repeated off from memory what the
guide-book says about the way up Helvellyn.  This last fetched them
rather, and convinced them I wasn't undertaking what I didn't know all
about.  So at last father said, "Let the boy go, it may do him good and
teach him self-reliance."

"But what'll be the good of that," sobs mother, "if my Bartholomew falls
over a precipice and never comes home?"

"Oh, I'll promise not to fall over a precipice," said I.

And at last it was settled, and here I am in the train, half-way to
Windermere.

Just been looking through my knapsack.  Frightful nuisance!  Had it
weighed at Euston, and it weighs 4 pounds 8 ounces.  I wanted to keep it
under 4 pounds!  Must be the spare shirt the girls insisted on my
bringing, as if I couldn't wash the one I've got on in half a dozen
waterfalls a day, and just run myself dry afterwards!  Don't see what I
can throw out.  Must take the guide-book, and boot-laces, and needle and
worsted for my blisters, and a collar for Sunday, and a match-box, and
this diary book and a night-shirt.  Bother that extra eight ounces.

I'm certain it will drag me down.  By the way there are the sandwiches
and apples!  Suppose I eat them now, that'll make it all right.  Good
thought that.  Here goes!

Getting near Windermere now--be there in an hour.  May as well put on my
knapsack, so as to be ready.  By the way, I hope my money's all right,
and I hope father's given me enough.  He paid for my return ticket down
here, and he's given me 6 shillings a day for the rest of the time.
Says he did the Lakes once on 5 shillings a day when he was a boy.
Somehow don't fancy there'll be much change for me out of the 6
shillings, if the guide-book says right; but you won't catch me spending
more!  Shan't ride anywhere where I can walk, and don't mean to tip any
waiters all the time!  Shall have to shut up now and look at the scenery
at page 52 of the guide-book.

8 p.m., Ambleside.--The "Green Unicorn."  Here at last, very fagged.  I
mean to have a row with the shoemaker when I get home about the hobs on
my boots.  Two of them are clean out, and all the rest are beginning to
get worn already.  Anyhow, I sold the coach people by walking.  They
thought I was bound to drive, but I didn't.  Wouldn't have minded it,
though, once or twice between Windermere and here, for of course I'm not
in training yet.

Hope this inn isn't a dear one.  It's the smallest I could find in the
place, and I don't think they're likely to charge for attendance; if
they do, it'll be a swindle, for I ordered eggs and bacon an hour ago,
and they've not come yet.  I wonder what they'll charge for the eggs and
bacon.  Suppose there are two eggs, that'll be 2 pence; and a slice of
bacon, 2 pence; bread, 1 penny; tea, 1 penny; that's 7 pence; oughtn't
to be more than 10 pence at the outside.

Ah, here it comes.

Good supper it was, too, and not much left at the end.

Mean to do Scafell to-morrow.  Highest mountain in England, guide-book
says.  Two fellows in the inn are going, too; but I don't intend to hang
on to them, as they seem to think no end of themselves.  They're
Cambridge fellows, and talk as if they could do anything.  I'd like to
take the shine out of them.

Tuesday, 8 a.m.--Just fancy, the swindlers here charged me 2 shillings
for that tea, 2 shillings 6 pence for my bed, and 1 shilling for
attendance--5 shillings 6 pence!  I call it robbery, and told them so,
and said they needn't suppose they could take _me_ in.  They said it was
the usual charge, and they didn't make any difference for small boys, as
they found they ate quite as much as grown-up people.  The two Cambridge
fellows seemed to find something to laugh at in this, and one of them
said I didn't mind being taken in, but I didn't like being taken in and
done for.  I suppose he thought this was a joke.  Some idiots can grin
at anything.

I told the hotel people I should certainly not pay for attendance, as I
didn't consider I had had any.  The waiter said very well, my boots
would do as well, and they would keep them till I settled the bill, and
they had no time to stand fooling about with a whipper-snapper.  Of
course I had to shell out, as my boots were worth more than the whole
bill--although my bootmaker has taken me in pretty well over the
hobnails.  I told them I should take good care to tell every one what
sort of people they were, and I wouldn't have any breakfast there to pay
them out.

Fancy this made them look rather blue, but the lesson will be good for
them.  Catch me getting done like that again!  I'm going to start now, 8
a.m., as I want to get ahead of the Cambridge idiots.  Page 54 of the
guide-book has all about the scenery at Ambleside.

12 o'clock, Dungeon Ghyl.--Stopping here for lunch.  Awful grind up the
valley in the sun with an empty stomach.  Going in for a 9 pence lunch
here.  The fellow says the weather is going to break this afternoon, and
I'd better mind what I'm up to, going up Scafell Pike.  He wants me to
take a guide, that's his little dodge.  As if I couldn't take care of
myself!  I've got it all up in the guide-book, and guess I could find
the top blindfold.  I'll laugh if I get up before the Cambridge fellows.
They'll probably funk it, though, or miss the way, and have to get me
to give them a leg up.  It'll be a good lesson for them.

Don't think much of the inn here, so I'm glad I shan't be putting up
here for the night.  The waiter looks as if he expects to be tipped for
everything.  He seemed regularly cut up when I told him I was going on
to Wastdale Head from the top, and shouldn't be staying here.  Of course
he tried to get me to come back, and said I could never get over to
Wastdale this night.  All stuff, I know, for it's no distance on the
map.  "Oh," he said, "don't you believe in the maps; they're no guide.
Take my advice, and don't try to go to Wastdale, my boy."  I was a good
mind to be down on him for being so familiar, but what was the use?  As
if he knew better than the guide-books!  Ah! here comes my lunch.

4 p.m., top of Rosset Ghyl.--Had to pay 1 shilling for that 9 pence
lunch after all, as they charged 3 pence for attendance in the bill.
Didn't care to have a row, as the Cambridge fellows turned up just that
minute.  Beastly the way they always grin when they see me.  As if they
couldn't grin at one another.  I cleared out as soon as they came, and
started up here.

There was a mile or so of pretty level path to the bottom of this
ravine, and then it was a tremendous climb up to the top.  You have to
scramble nearly straight up among the rocks on each side of the
waterfall, and if one of my hobnails went off, I'm certain half a dozen
did.  I'll tell my father not to pay that cobbler at all.  I can't make
out how the sheep manage to go up and down this place as they do.  I
know I'm glad I'm not coming back this way.  I thought I was over once
or twice as it was, owing to those wretched boots.

The Cambridge duffers caught me about half-way up, trying to look as if
they weren't fagged.  I knew better--never saw fellows so blown.  They
appeared to be greatly amused because I happened to slip backwards down
a grass slope just as they passed, as if there was anything funny in
that.  One of them called out, "It's the other way up, youngster," and
the other said, "We'll tell them you're on the way at the top."  I was a
good mind to shut them up, but I got some earth in my mouth at the
moment, and as they didn't wait, it wasn't any use going after them.
However, I expect I shall find them regularly done up when I get a
little higher, and then perhaps they'll be sorry they cheeked me.  All
about the view from Rosset Ghyl in page 72 of the guide-book.  Awful
sell; it's coming on to rain, and quite misty, too.  I'd better go on,
or I shan't get the view from the top.

6 o'clock.--Don't exactly know where I am.  Regular Scotch mist come
down over the hills, and I can't see twenty yards.  Only sitting down
now because I'm not quite sure whether I'm right or wrong.  Been looking
it up in the guide-book, but there's not much to guide you there when
you can't see your way.  The only thing is, it says there are little
cairns marking the way up to the top, every fifty yards or so.  It would
be rather a tip to find one of them.

The wind is making a noise, exactly like the sea, against the side of
the mountain.  I saw the side a little while ago, like a great black
cliff, but it's too misty to see it now.  Hope it'll clear up soon, or I
may be late getting down to Wastdale.  By the way, I wonder if they call
this heap of stones I'm sitting on one of the cairns?  Good idea! it
must be.

Yes, it's all right; I left my traps here and went fifty yards further
on up the slope, and there's another cairn there--very lucky!  I had a
job to find my way back here in the mist, though.  However, I'm on the
right track now.  Wonder what's become of those Cambridge fellows.
They're sure not to be up to my tips, and most likely they're wandering
about lost.  Poor duffers!

7 o'clock.--Hope I'm right, but it's getting more misty than ever, and I
can hardly stand up in the wind.  It's an awful job, too, feeling one's
way along by these cairns; for you can't see one from the other, and the
chances are you may now and then lose sight of both, and then you're
lost.  I've been lost several times, but luckily I've got into the track
again.  Fancy I must be getting on towards the top, for the rocks are
getting bigger and tumbled about in all directions, and the guide-book
says that's what the top of Scafell Pike is like.  Shan't I be glad to
get to the top!  I'm frightfully cold and wet here, and there's scarcely
a hob left on my wretched boots.  I wish I had that cobbler here!

All about the view going up to the top of Scafell Pike on page 76 of the
guide-book.  Sounds rather like a joke when you can scarcely see your
hand in front of you, to read that behind you stretches the beautiful
vista of the Langdale Valley, with Wansfell in the distance, and an
exquisite glimpse of the waters of Windermere sparkling in the sun; to
your right Helvellyn towers amidst its lesser brethren, while to the
left the gloomy dome of Coniston lends a serious grandeur to the scene.
Sounds all very fine, but it's a pity they don't put in the view on a
day like this as well.

I quite miss the dashing of the wind against the cliffs.  They're far
behind now, and the wind seems to dash against me instead.  Whew!  I'd
better peg on, or the tea will be cold at Wastdale Head!  No sign of the
Cambridge fellows.  Wonder where they are.  Half wish I was with them--
idiots as they are.

8:30 o'clock.--Top at last!  I'm black and blue all over, with tumbling
among those brutal rocks.  Don't know however I got up, and now I'm up,
don't know how I shall get down.  It's just dark now, and I can scarcely
see the paper I'm writing on.  Jolly fix I'm in.  Can't positively see
the big cairn, though I'm sitting on it, and haven't a notion which way
I came up to it, or which way I have to go down to Wastdale.

I wish those Cambridge fellows would turn up.  They weren't bad fellows
after all.  In fact, I rather liked one of them.  Don't know what to do.
By the way, may as well eat one of the biscuits I have in my knapsack.
Think of sitting up here on the highest spot of England eating a
biscuit, and not knowing how to get home!  Enough to make any one feel
down in the mouth.  Wish I was down in the valley.  All about the view
from the top on page-- Bah! that's too much of a joke.  Wish I could see
anything!  Only thing I can see is that I'm stuck here for the night,
and shall probably be found frozen to death in the morning.  What an ass
I was to snub those jolly Cambridge fellows!  Fancy how snug it would be
to be sitting between them now.  I suppose they're down at the hotel
having a good tea before a blazing fire.  My word, it makes one blue
to--

11 o'clock.--Just had the presence of mind to wind up my watch.  Had to
sit on my hands a quarter of an hour before I could feel the key in my
waistcoat pocket.  Ugh! wish the wind would shut up.  Never felt so up a
tree all my life.  Those Cambridge fellows will be curling up in bed
now, I expect.  Can't write more.

12 o'clock.--It suddenly occurred to me there was no absolute necessity,
if I must stick up here all night, to stick at the tip-top.  So I
crawled down gingerly among the rocks on the side away from the wind and
looked, or rather felt, for a sheltered place.  Presently I slipped and
toppled down between two great boulders and nearly killed myself.
However, when I came to, it struck me I might as well stay here as
anywhere else.  It's right out of the wind and pretty dry, as the mist
doesn't seem to be able to get down into it.  Then the lucky idea
occurred to me I had two candles in my knapsack and a box of matches,
and I might as well light up.  So I lit one of the candles, and I've
been warming my fingers and toes at it for the last half-hour; also been
reading the guide-book, and find that the Isle of Man is visible from
this place.  Jolly comforting to know it, when I can't even see the tip
of my own nose.  Got sick of the guide-book after that, and thought it
would warm me to say over my Greek irregular verbs.  Been through them
once, but not quite successful 4,000 feet above the level of the sea.
They remind a fellow rather too much of home.  Wonder what they'd think
there if they saw me up here.  Wish I saw them, and could get a blanket!
I promised them to sleep between blankets every night.  It's awful not
being able to keep one's promise.

The one thing that does comfort me is, I shan't have to pay anything for
attendance to-night.  In fact, I never spent such a cheap night
anywhere...  Booh! had to stop just now and sit on my hands again.  Find
it warmer even than the candle.  How I wish those two Cambridge fellows
were here!  We could be quite jolly in here, and play round games, and
that sort of thing.  I've been trying one or two songs to pass the time,
but they didn't come off.  Made me homesick to sing, "Here in cool grot"
and "Blow, gentle gales."  That reminds me, the wind's dropped since I
got in here.  Sorry for it.  It was some company to have it smashing all
round one.  Now it's so quiet it makes a fellow quite creepy.  They do
talk of mountain-tops being haunted.  I know Scafell Pike is, and I'm
the haunter.  Wonder if there's any chance of anybody turning up?  I've
a good mind to go on to the cairn and howl and wave my candle about for
a bit; it might fetch some one.  The only thing is, it might frighten
them away.  I'll try it, anyhow, and I hope whoever comes will have some
grub in his pocket and a pair of gloves.

1:30.--No go.  Been howling like a hyena for half an hour till I've no
voice left, and I'm all over spots of wax with the waving of my candle.
Heard nothing but my own voice.  Not an echo, or a dog barking, or
anything.  The mist lifted a bit, but I don't suppose any one could see
the candle down at Wastdale.  Ugh! ugh!  Perhaps there'll be an article
in a scientific paper about a curious phenomenon on the top of Scafell
Pike.  Wish I knew how to warm phenomenons!  I've put on the spare shirt
over my coat, and stuffed my feet into my knapsack, and wrapped last
Friday's _Daily News_ round my body and legs.  Oh-h-h! why _did_ I make
a beast of myself to those two dear Cambridge fellows?  Think of them
now, with blankets tucked round their chins, and their noses in the
pillow, snoring away; and their coats and bags lying idle about in the
room.  I do believe if I had their two suits on over my own I might keep
warm.  Hullo, what's that!

Never got such a fright.  Thought it was thunder, or an earthquake, or
the cairn coming down on the top of me, or something of that sort.
Turned out to be the _Daily News_ crackling under my clothes.
Everything's so quiet, it startles one to move a foot.  I'll give it
up--I'll--there goes my last candle!

3:30.--Actually been asleep--at least, I don't know what's been going on
the last two hours.  That _Daily News_ was rather a tip, after all.  I
might have been frozen to death without it.  Hurrah for the Radicals!
Rather crampy all the same about the joints, and must get up and shake
myself, or I shall be no good for the rest of the day.  Ugh!  What a
state my mother would be in if she heard that cough!  I'm certain I
hadn't caught it before I went to sleep.

Just been up to the top and had a look round.  Mist is nearly all away,
and there are some streaks in the sky that look like the beginning of
morning.  May hold out, after all.  Never know what you can do till you
try.  I'll just put on my _Daily News_ again and wait here another half-
hour, and then try out again.  Wish it was daylight.  Mustn't go to
sleep again if I can help it, as I might catch cold.

4:30.--Hurrah!  Just seen the sun rise!  No end of a fine show.  Long
bit of poetry about it in the guide-book, cribbed from Wordsworth or
somebody.  Can't say the page, as I tore out the leaf last night to put
inside my boot, to help to keep my toes warm.  Never expected to see the
sun rise from the highest spot in England.  Awful good score for me,
though--very few do it, I fancy.  Think of those lazy Cambridge fellows
curled up in bed and missing it all; just the way with these fellows,
all show off.

The sun's warm already, and I've left off my _Daily News_ and spare
shirt, and I'm just going to take the paper out of my boots; that is, if
I can ever get down to my toes--but I'm so jolly stiff.

Never mind, I've done it, and--bother that cough, it's made me break the
point of my pencil.

5 a.m.--Been sharpening the pencil with my teeth.  Rather a poor
breakfast; never mind, I shall have a rousing appetite when I get to the
bottom.  May tip that waiter possibly, if he brings the grub up sharp.
Now I'm starting down.  I shall go down to Dungeon Ghyl the way I came,
I fancy.  If I went down to Wastdale, I might meet those Cambridge
fellows again, and I wouldn't care for that.  It would mortify them too
much to know what they've missed.  Ta! ta!  Scafell Pike, old man, keep
yourself warm.  I'll leave you my _Daily News_, in case you want it.

8 a.m.--Been all this time getting half-way down.  Can scarcely crawl.
Going up hill's nothing, but the bumping you get coming down, when
you're as stiff as a poker, and coughing like an old horse, is a
caution.  Had a good mind to ask a shepherd I met half an hour ago to
give me a leg down, but didn't like to; so I told him I'd just been to
the top to see the sunrise, and it was a fine morning.  All but added,
"I suppose you haven't got a crust of bread in your pocket?" but pulled
up in time.  Pity to spoil my appetite for breakfast at Dungeon Ghyl.
Ugh! if I sit here I shall rust up, and not be able to move.  _Must_ go
on.

10 a.m.--Top of Rosset Ghyl.  Not very swell time to get from the top of
the Pike here in five hours.  All a chance whether I get down at all,
now--I'm about finished up.  Wish those Cambridge fellows--

Here the diary ends abruptly; but, in case our readers are curious to
know the end of our hero's adventure, they will be interested to learn
that at the identical moment when the writer reached this point in his
diary, the Cambridge fellows _did_ turn up.  They had, indeed, been out
searching the hills from very early morning for the wanderer.  As he did
not arrive the night before at Wastdale, they had concluded he had given
up the ascent, and returned to Dungeon Ghyl.  But when early that
morning a guide had come over from Dungeon Ghyl, and reported that the
young gentleman had certainly not returned there, the two 'Varsity men
became alarmed, and turned out to search.  There was no sign of him on
the Wastdale side of the mountain; and, getting more and more alarmed,
they went on to the summit.  There they discovered a crushed-up _Daily
News_ and two or three stained pages of a guide-book.  Glad of any clue,
they followed the track down towards Dungeon Ghyl, and at last came upon
the poor fellow, fairly exhausted with hunger, fatigue, and rheumatism.
They gave him what partially revived him, and then with the care and
tenderness of two big brothers carried him down the steep side of Rosset
Ghyl, and so on to the hotel.  There they kept him under their special
care, day and night, and never left him till he was well enough to
return home to his anxious family.

Since then Bartholomew Bumpus has made several ascents of Scafell Pike,
but he has never again, I believe, stayed up there all night to see the
sunrise.  Nor has he, when he could possibly help it, gone up
unaccompanied by at least one Cambridge fellow.



CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

VERY MUCH ABROAD.

_Being the impressions of foreign travel, communicated chiefly to a
particular friend by Thomas Hooker, minor, of Rugby, during the course
of a Continental tour in France and Switzerland in the company of his
brother, James Hooker, major, also of Rugby_.

London, _July_ 31.

Dear Gus,--Here's a spree!  The pater's got an idea into his head that
young fellows ought to see something of foreign parts, and store their
minds with the beauties of Nature in her grandest--I forget what--
anyhow, we backed him up; and Jim and I are to start abroad on our own
hooks on Friday.  How's that for luck?  The pater has settled what
hotels we go to in Paris and Switzerland, and he's sketched out a route
for us every day we're away.  The grind is, he's awfully particular we
should write home every day and keep accounts.  Jim will have to do
that, and I'll keep you up.  It really is a very good thing for fellows
to travel and expand their minds, you know.  We're starting from Holborn
Viaduct at 9:30 on Friday.  I'll write and let you know my impressions,
as the pater calls it; and you might let your young sister see them too,
if you like.

Yours truly, T.  Hooker.

Paris, _August_ 3.

Dear Gus,--We had an awful squeak for the train at Holborn, owing to
Jim's hatbox falling off the cab and his insisting on going back to pick
it up.  It seems to me rather humbug taking chimneys at all, but he says
that's all I know of foreign travel; so I caved in and brought mine too.

Another thing that nearly lost the train was a row about the luggage.
The fellows wanted to do me out of two bob because they said my
portmanteau was four pounds overweight!  There was nearly a shindy, I
can tell you, only Jim said we'd better walk into the chap on our way
back.  Anyhow, I wasn't going to be done, so I unlocked my portmanteau
and took out my spare jacket and a pair of bags, and carried them over
my arm, and that made the weight all right.  The fellows tried to grin,
of course, but I fancy they were rather blue about it.

Our tickets cost 45 shillings 6 pence each, not counting grub on the
way, which about finished up a £5 note for the two of us.

Jim and I had a stunning time in the train.  There was only one other
old chap in the carriage.  When the fellow came for the tickets outside
Dover, Jim happened to be up on the luggage rack, and the fellow would
never have spotted him if the rack hadn't given way.  Then he got
crusty, and we all but got left behind by the steamer.

Beastly tubs those steamers are!  I wonder why they don't make some that
go steady.  And they ought to make the seats facing the side of the
vessel, and not with your back to it.  You miss such a lot of the view.
I sat with my face to the side of the vessel most of the way.  I don't
exactly know what became of Jim.  He said afterwards he'd been astern
watching the English coast disappear.  I suppose that accounted for his
looking so jolly blue.  We weren't sorry to clear out of that boat, I
can tell you.

Jim was first up the gangway, and I was third, owing to dropping my
spare bags half-way up and having to pick them up.  There was an awfully
civil French fellow at the top of the gangway, who touched his hat to
me.  I couldn't make out what he said, but I fancied he must be asking
for a tip, so I gave him a copper.  That seemed to make him awfully
wild, and he wanted to know my name.  I had to tell him, and he wrote it
down; but as he didn't get my address, I hope there won't be a fuss
about it.  I didn't see any harm in tipping him, but I suppose it's
against French law, and I don't mean to do it any more.

There was an awfully rum lot of chaps in our carriage between Calais and
Paris.  You'd have thought they had never seen a pair of bags before in
their life; for they stared at mine all the way from Calais to Amiens,
where we got out for refreshment.  I thought it best to take my bags
with me to the buffet, as they might have humbugged about with them if
I'd left them in the carriage.

They ought to make English compulsory in French schools.  The duffers in
the buffet didn't even know what a dough-nut was!  Not even when Jim
looked it up in the dixy and asked for _noix a pate_.  The idiot asked
us if we meant "rosbif," or "biftik," or "palal"--that's all the English
they seemed to know, and think English fellows feed off nothing else.
However, we did get some grub, and paid for it too.  When we got back to
the carriage I took the precaution of sticking my bags on the rack above
Jim's head; so all the fellows stared at him the rest of the way, and I
got a stunning sleep.

We had an awful doing, as Bunker would call it--by the way, did he pull
off his tennis match against Turner on breaking-up day?--when we got to
Paris.  The row at Holborn was a fool to it.  Just fancy, they made Jim
and me open both our portmanteaux and hat-boxes before they would let us
leave the station!  I can tell you, old man, I'm scarcely cool yet after
that disturbance, and if it hadn't been for Jim I guess they'd have
found out how a "Rug" can kick out!  Jim says it's the regular thing,
and they collar all the cigars they can find.  All I can say is, it's
robbery and cool cheek, and I wish you or some of the fellows would
write to the _Times_ or the _Boy's Own Paper_ and get it stopped.  We
had to turn every blessed thing out on the counter, and pack up again
afterwards.  It's a marvel to me how the mater stowed all the things
away.  I couldn't get half of them back, and had to shove the rest into
my rug and tie it up at the corners like a washerwoman's bundle.  Jim's
too easy-going by half.  I'm certain, if he'd backed me up, we could
have hacked over the lot of them; and I shouldn't have lost that spare
pair of bags, which I forgot all about in the shindy.  I hope there'll
be a war with France soon.  We were jolly fagged when we got to the inn,
I can tell you.  The old woman had got the pater's letter, so she
expected us.  She's rather an ass, and must have been getting up her
English for our benefit, for she's called us "nice young Englese
gentilman" about a hundred times already.

I don't think Jim's got over the blues he had watching the English coast
yesterday.  He's asleep still, so I'm writing this while I'm waiting for
him to come to breakfast.  I shall not wait much longer, I can tell you.
Ta-ta!  Remember me to any of the old crowd you see; also to your young
sister.

Yours truly, Thomas Hooker.

P.S.--By the way, see what your French dixy says for doughnut, and let
me know by return.  We're going on to Switzerland in a day or two.

Paris, _August_ 6.

Dear Gus,--The dictionary word of yours won't wash here.  We've tried it
all round Paris, and you might as well talk Greek to them.  I don't
believe there's any word in the language for dough-nut.  Jim's not bad
at French, either.  We should be regularly floored if it wasn't for him.
And I expect they guess by his accent he comes from Rugby, for fellows
all touch their hats to him.

You know the pater gave us a list of places to go and see in Paris--the
Louvre and the Luxembourg, and all that.  Well, he never stuck down
where they were, and we've had to worry it out for ourselves.  Jim
stopped a fellow this morning and asked him, "Ou est la chemin pour
Luxembourg?"  The fellow took off his hat and was awfully civil, and
said, "Par ici, messieurs," and took us a walk of about three miles, and
landed us at a railway station.  He thought we wanted to go to
Luxembourg in Germany, or wherever it is--fare about three cool sovs.
The fellow hung about us most of the rest of the day, expecting a tip.
Likely idea that, after the game he'd had with us!  We couldn't shake
him off till we bolted into one of the swimming baths on the river.
That smoked him out.  Most of these chaps draw the line at a tub.  Would
you believe it? at our inn, they never seem to have heard of soap in
their lives, and we got quite tired of saying "savon" before we found
some in a shop.  Jim thinks they use it all up for soup.  What we get at
the inn tastes like it.

Jim is rather a cute beggar.  We went to a cafe yesterday to get some
grub, and he wanted a glass of milk.  We had both clean forgotten the
French for milk, and we'd left the dixy at the inn.  We tried to make
the fellow understand, but he was an ass.  We pointed to a picture of a
cow hanging on the wall and smacked our lips; and he grinned and rubbed
his hands, and said, "Ah, oui.  Rosbif! jolly rosbif!"  Did you ever
hear of such a born idiot?  At last Jim had an idea and said, "Apportez-
nous du cafe-au-lait sans le cafe."  That fetched it.  The fellow
twigged at once.  Not bad of Jim, was it?

Jolly slow place Paris.  The swimming baths are the only place worth
going to.  Jim went in off the eight-foot springboard.  You should have
seen the natives sit up at the neat dive he made.

I hope the pater's not going to ask too much about the Louvre, because
we scamped it.  The fact is, there was a little unpleasantness with one
of the fellows, owing to Jim's cane happening to scratch one of the
pictures by a chap named Rubens.  It was quite an accident, as we were
only trying to spike a wasp on the frame, and Jim missed his shot.  The
fellow there made a mule of himself, and lost his temper.  So we didn't
see the fun of staying, and cut.

Montreux, Lake of Geneva, _August_ 10.

Couldn't finish this before we left Paris.  We meant to start for here
on Friday, but settled to come on on Thursday night after all.  You
needn't go telling them at home, but between you and me it was a bit of
a bolt.

The fact was, we went to a church called Notre Dame in the morning--not
nearly such a snug place as Rugby Chapel, and they charge a penny apiece
for the chairs.  So we cut the inside and thought we'd go up to the top.
It wasn't a bad lark, and you get a stunning view.  The swimming baths
looked about the size of a sheet of school paper.  There was a door open
into the belfry, and as nobody was about, we never thought it would be
any harm to have a ring up.  We couldn't get the big bell to go, but
most of the others did, and it was enough to deafen you.

I suppose they must have heard the row below, for when we looked down we
saw a regular crowd of fellows in the square underneath looking up our
way.  After that we thought we might as well shut up, and were just
going to cut down, when a fellow belonging to the place, who had been
somewhere on the top, came rushing round the parapet, flourishing a
stick and yelling like a trooper in awfully bad French.  We had a good
start of him, especially as we shut the door at the top of the stairs
behind us.  Besides he was fat; so we easily pulled it off.

There was an old woman at the bottom who kept the ticket place.  She
twigged _it_ was a bolt, and tried to stop us; but she couldn't _get_
out of her box.  So we strolled out easily and cabbed it back to the
inn.  It was an awful game to see the crowd still staring up at the
tower as we drove off.  The fat fellow got down just as we were turning
the corner.  I don't think he guessed we were cabbing it.  Anyhow, we
didn't see any one chasing the cab.  Jim said we were rather well out of
it; and we settled we might as well drive on to the swimming baths and
stay there for an hour or so till things had quieted down, and then go
on to Switzerland by the evening train, especially, Jim said, as the
pater might not like to get his name mixed up in a French row.

Beastly uncomfortable carriages on the Swiss railway from Paris.  There
was the same humbug about the luggage at a little station in the middle
of the night, but we were too fagged to cut up rough.  We were jolly
glad to get here at last, I can tell you.

I must shut up now, as I've got to write to pater.  It's a regular go.
We forgot he'd be sending the money to Paris, and now we've only got
about half-a-sov. between us!  Remember me to your young sister.

Yours truly, T.  Hooker.

Montreux, _August_ 10.

Dear Father,--We didn't see the Luxembourg, as a fellow directed us to
the wrong place.  We had several bathes in the Seine.  Jim got on very
well with his French, and I think we are both improved.  We should be
glad of some more money, as we are nearly out.  I bought a present for
you in Paris, which I think you will like when you see it.  If you could
send the money here by return it would do.  I suppose what you sent to
Paris missed us, as we came here a day sooner than we expected.

We went up Notre Dame the last day we were in Paris.  There is a fine
view from the top.  It is surprising how few of the French you meet in
the swimming baths.  We had the place to ourselves one day.  It's eight
feet at the deep end.  Jim and I both think foreign travel is good for a
fellow, and we shall hope to have a reply to this by return.

Your loving son, Tom.

Montreux, _August_ 11.

Dear Gus,--We're regularly stuck up, as the money hasn't come yet.  I
hope it will come soon, or the old girl at the inn here will think we're
cadgers.  We had a stunning row on the lake yesterday; the boats are
only a bob an hour, so we thought we might go in for it.  We raced a
steamer for about half a mile, and weren't done then, only Jim's oar
came off the pin (they haven't such things as row-locks here), and that
upset us.

Of course it didn't matter, as we could swim; but the fellows in the
steamer kicked up an awful shine about it, and came and hauled us up,
boat and all.  It was rather awkward, as we had nothing to tip them
with.  We got out at a dismal sort of place called Chillon.  We told the
captain if he was ever in London the pater would be glad to see him.

We had a grind getting back here with the boat, as it came on dark and
misty, and we couldn't see where Montreux had got to.  Jim got rather
chawed up too by the cold, so I sculled.  The wind was against us, and
it was rather a hard pull, especially when you couldn't see the land at
all.  I managed to keep pretty warm with rowing, but old Jim's teeth
chattered like a steam-engine.  It came on a regular squall, and I
didn't see the fun of sculling after about a couple of hours.  So Jim
and I huddled up to keep warm, and let her drift.  We were jolly glad to
see a light after a bit, and yelled to let them know where we were.
They didn't hear, though, so we just stuck on and chanced it.  The old
tub drifted ashore all right, side on, though she upset just as we got
to land.  It was lucky the water was shallow, as we were too cold to
swim.  As it was, old Jim nearly came to grief.  It was no end of a job
hauling in the boat.  She was rather knocked about.  We had drifted back
to Chillon, exactly where we started from.

The keeper of the castle put us up for the night and was no end of a
brick.  There was rather a row with the boat fellow when we got back to
Montreux.  He got crusty about the boat being damaged, and wanted about
two sovs!  As it happened, we hadn't got anything, as we gave the fellow
at the castle five francs, and that cleared us out.  We told the boat
fellow to call at the inn to-morrow, and I hope to goodness the money
will have turned up, as it's a bit awkward.  Jim has a cold.

Yours truly T.  Hooker.

Please remember me to your young sister.

Montreux, _August_ 13.

Dear Father,--Thanks awfully for the money; it was jolly to get it, and
mother's letter.  It is very hilly about here.  Jim's cold is getting
better.  Would you mind telegraphing to us who is the winner of the
Australian cricket match to-morrow, and how many Grace scored?  In
haste, Your loving son, Tom.

Riffel Hotel, _August_ 18.

Dear Gus,--We're awfully high up here--awful rum little inn it is.  It
was chock full, and Jim and I have to sleep under the table.  There are
about a dozen other fellows who have to camp out too, so it's a rare
spree.

We're going to have a shot at the Matterhorn to-morrow if it's fine.  It
looks easy enough, and Jim and I were making out the path with a
telescope this afternoon.  It's rather a crow to do the Matterhorn.
Some muffs take guides up, but they cost four or five pounds, so we're
going without.

That boat fellow at Montreux got to be a regular nuisance.  In fact,
that's why we came on here a day earlier.  He came up twice a day to the
inn, and we couldn't shake him off.  We gave him a sov., which was twice
what he had a right to.  He swore he'd have two pounds or bring up a
policeman with him next time.  So we thought the best way was to clear
out by the early train next morning, and I guess he was jolly blue when
he found us gone.  I send with this a faint sketch of some of the
natives!  What do you say to their rig?

It was a pretty good grind up to Zermatt, and we walked it up the
valley.  There wasn't much to see on the way, and it's a frightfully
stony road.  There were some fellows playing lawn-tennis at the hotel at
Zermatt.  One of them wasn't half bad.  His serves twisted to the leg
and were awfully hard to get up.  Jim and I wouldn't have minded a game,
only the fellows seemed to think no one wanted to play but themselves.
We may get a game to-morrow on our way to the Matterhorn.  It was a
tremendous fag getting up here from Zermatt.  I don't know why fellows
all come on, as there's no tennis court or anything up here.

There's an ice-field up here called a glacier, but it's an awful fraud
if you want skating--rough as one of Bullford's fields at Rugby.  A
fellow told me it bears all the year round, but it's got a lot of holes,
so we don't think we'll try it.  I expect we shall be home next week, as
the pater thinks we've run through our money rather too fast.  Remember
me to your people and your young sister.

Yours truly, T.  Hooker.

Zermatt, _August_ 20.

Dear Gus,--We didn't do the Matterhorn after all, as Jim screwed his
foot.  He's awfully unlucky, and if it hadn't been for the accident we
might have got to the top; and of course it stops tennis too.  We did
get one game before we started up.  Jim gave me fifteen in two games
each set.  I pulled off the first, but he whacked me the other two.
It's a beastly rough court, though, and the mountain was awfully in the
light.

We hadn't much difficulty finding the way to the Matterhorn, as there
was a sign-post at the end of the village.  We thought we might as well
take the easy side, as the front of the hill is pretty stiff.  Of course
we had to take a good long round, which was a nuisance, as we meant to
be back for _table d'hote_ at seven.  When we got properly on to the
side we put it on, but it was a good long grind, I can tell you.  We
weren't sorry to get up to a snow slope and cool ourselves.

They ought to sweep a path across the snow, or fellows are very likely
to lose their way.  We lost ours, but we had a good lark on the snow
snowballing.  It got deep in one part, so we had to clamber up the rocks
at the side to get to the top of the slope.  It's rather deceptive,
distance, on the snow, for it took us an hour to do what seemed only a
few yards.  We got on to a flat bit after awhile, and had another turn
on the snow.

It was rather a game rolling things down the slope.  They went at an
awful pace.  The nuisance is the snow has a way of slipping from under
you, and that's how Jim and I came to grief.  We were sitting on the
edge of the slope watching a boulder slide, when we began to slide
ourselves.  We hadn't our spikes on, or we might have pulled up.  As it
was, we got up no end of a speed down that slope.  It was no joke.  I
yelled to Jim to lie flat, and not sit up, or he might pitch on his
head.  I don't remember how we got on after that; I must have bumped my
head, for when I pulled myself together I found I was sitting in the
middle of a grass field with a jolly headache, and pretty well black and
blue.

I was able to get up though, and looked about for old Jim.  I can tell
you it was no joke.  I couldn't see him anywhere, and thought he must
have been buried in the snow.  I can tell you, old man, it was rough on
me for a quarter of an hour or so.  But I found him at last, about a
quarter of a mile down the field.  He rolled, he said; he couldn't get
up, as his foot was screwed.  So it was a pretty go, as I couldn't carry
him.  If I hadn't been quite so knocked about I might have tried; but
Jim's a good nine stone, so I might have dropped him.  Luckily, some
fellows came--they'd come to look for us, in fact, as we'd told the
waiter we were going up the Matterhorn, and might not be back in time
for dinner; and when we didn't turn up, they guessed, I suppose, we
might have come to grief.  It was a good job they came, as Jim's foot
was rather bad.  All the hotel turned out to see us get back.  I had to
be carried too, the last bit of the way, as I got fagged.  It's a sell
we couldn't get to the top, as it's rather a crow to do the Matterhorn.

Jim's foot is better to-day, but he'll have to shut off tennis the rest
of this season.  I wish mother was here.  She could look after Jim
better than I can.  In fact, the doctor here, rather a jolly fellow,
says she and the pater had better come at once.  I got him to write to
the pater himself, as I was afraid it might make them think something
was wrong if I did.

Please to remember me to your young sister.

T.  Hooker.

Zermatt, _August_ 22.

Dear Gus,--There's a telegram from the pater to say they'll be here to-
morrow night.  I'm rather glad, as Jim is feverish.  The pater will have
a good deal of tipping to do, as everybody here's no end civil.  Can't
write more, as I'm fagged.  Remember me to your young sister.

T.H.

P.S.--I fancy we shall spend next summer in England--Jim and I.  We
don't either of us think much of Switzerland.



CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

BILK'S FORTUNE--A GHOST STORY.



CHAPTER I.  SUPERSTITION.

We had a fellow at Holmhurst School who rejoiced in the name of
Alexander Magnus Bilk.  But, as sometimes happens, our Alexander the
Great did not in all respects resemble the hero to whom he was indebted
for his name.  Alexander the Great, so the school-books say, was small
in stature and mighty in mind.  Bilk was small in mind and lanky in
stature.  They called him "Lamp-post" as a pet name, and as regarded his
height, his girth, and the lightness of his head, the term conveyed a
very fair idea of our hero's chief characteristics.  In short, Bilk had
very few brains, and such as he had he occupied by no means to the best
advantage.  He read trashy novels, and believed every word of them, and,
like poor Don Quixote of old, he let any one who liked make a fool of
him, if he only took the trouble to get at his weak side.

I need hardly say the fellows at Holmhurst were not long in discovering
that weak side and getting plenty of fun out of Alexander Magnus.  He
could be gammoned to almost any extent, so much so that after a term or
two his persecutors had run through all the tricks they knew, and the
unhappy youth was let alone for sheer want of an idea.

But one winter, when things seemed at their worst, and it really
appeared likely that Bilk would have to be given up as a bad job, his
tormentors suddenly conceived an idea, and proceeded to put it into
practice in the manner I am about to relate in this most veracious
history.

The neighbourhood of Holmhurst had for some weeks past been honoured by
the presence of a gang of gipsies, who during the period of their
sojourn had rendered themselves conspicuous by their diligence in their
triple business of chair-mending, fowl-house robbing, and fortune-
telling.  In the last of these three departments they perhaps succeeded
best in winning the confidence of their temporary neighbours, and the
private seances they held with housemaids, tradesmen's boys, and
schoolgirls had been particularly gratifying both as to attendance and
pecuniary result.

It had at length been deemed to be for the general welfare that these
interesting itinerants should seek a change of air in "fresh fields and
pastures new," and the police had accordingly hinted as much to the
authorities of the camp, and given them two hours to pack up.

More than ever convinced that gratitude is hopeless to seek in human
nature, the gipsies had shaken the dust of Holmhurst from the soles of
their not very tidy feet, and had moved off, no one knew whither.

These proceedings had, among other persons, interested Alexander Magnus
Bilk not a little, and no one mourned the rapid departure of the gipsies
more than he.  For Bilk had for some days past secretly hugged the idea
of presenting himself to the oracle of these wise ones and having his
fortune told.  He had in fact gone so far as to make a secret
observation of their quarters one afternoon, and had resolved to devote
the next half-holiday to the particular pursuit of knowledge they
offered, when, lo! cruel fate snatched the cup from his lips and swept
the promised fruit from his reach.  In other words, the gipsies had
gone, and, like his great namesake, Alexander, Magnus mourned.

Among those who noticed his dejection and guessed the cause of it were
two of his particular persecutors.  Morgan and Dell had for some months
been suffering affliction for lack of any notion how to get a rise out
of their victim.  But they now suddenly cheered up, as they felt the
force of a mighty idea moving them once more to action.

"Old chap," said Morgan, "I've got it at last!"

"What have you got?" asked "the old chap"; "your back tooth, or measles,
or what?"

"I've got a dodge for scoring off the Lamp-post."

"Have you, though?  You are a clever chap, I say!  What is it?"

What it was, Morgan disclosed in such a very low whisper to his ally
that the reader will have to guess.  Suffice it to say, the two dear
lads put their heads together for some time, and were extremely busy in
the privacy of their own study all that evening.

Bilk, little dreaming of the compassion and interest he was evoking in
the hearts of his schoolfellows, retired early to his sorrowful couch,
and mourned his departed gipsies till slumber gently stepped in and
soothed his troubled mind.  But returning day laid bare the old wound,
and Alexander girded himself listlessly to the duties of the hour, with
a heart far away.

He was wandering across the playground after dinner, disinclined alike
for work and play, when Dell accosted him.  Bilk might have known Dell
by this time, but his memory was short and his mind preoccupied, and he
smelt no rat, as the Irish would say, in his companion's salutation.

"Hullo! where are you off to, Lamp-post?  How jolly blue you look!"

"I'm only taking a walk."

"Well, you don't seem to be enjoying it, by the looks of you.  I've just
been taking a trot over the common."

"I suppose the gipsies have all gone?" inquired Bilk, as unconcernedly
as he could.

"Yes, I suppose so," answered Dell, offhand.  "Anyhow, they've cleared
off the common."

"But I was told," said Bilk rather nervously, "they'd gone quite away."

"Not all of them, anyhow," said Dell.  "But of course they can't now
show up the way they used to."

"Where are they, then?" asked Magnus, with a new hope breaking in upon
him.

"How can I tell?  All I know is there are some hanging about still, and
I shouldn't wonder if they weren't far from here."

"Really, I say!  I wonder where?"

"I'd as good as bet you'd come across one or two of them after dark in
Deadman's Lane, or up at the cross roads, any evening for a week yet.
They don't clear out as fast as fellows think.  But I must be off now,
as I've a lot of work to do.  Ta, ta!"

Alexander stood where the other left him, in deep meditation.  Those few
casual observations of his schoolfellow had kindled anew the fire that
burned within him.  Little could Dell guess how interesting his news
was!  After dark!  The afternoon was getting on already.  The school
clock had struck half-past four nearly a quarter of an hour ago, and by
five it would be quite dark.  Tea was at a quarter-past five, and for
half an hour after tea boys could do as they liked.  Yes, it would be
foolish to throw away such a chance.  At any rate, he would take the air
after tea in Deadman's Lane, and if there he should meet--oh! how he
wondered what his fortune would be!  Tea was a feverish meal for Bilk
that evening.  He spoke to no one, and ate very little; and as the hand
of the clock worked round to a quarter to six he began to feel
distinctly that a crisis in his life was approaching.  He was glad
neither Dell nor Morgan, whose studies probably kept them in their
study, were at tea.  They were such fellows for worrying him, and just
now he wanted to be in peace.

The meal was over at last, and the boys rushed off to enjoy their short
liberty before the hour of preparation.  Bilk, who had taken the
precaution to put both a sixpence and a cricket-cap in his pocket,
silently and unobserved slid out into the deserted playground, and in
another minute stood beyond the precincts of Holmhurst.

Deadman's Lane was scarcely three minutes distant, and thither, with
nervous steps, he wended his way, fumbling the sixpence in his pocket,
and straining his eyes in the darkness for any sign of the gipsies.
Alas! it seemed to be a vain quest.  The lane was deserted, and the
cross roads he knew were too far distant to get there and back in half
an hour.  He was just thinking of giving it up and turning back, when a
sound behind one of the hedges close to him startled him and sent his
heart to his mouth.  He stood still to listen, and heard a gruff voice
say--or rather intone--the following mysterious couplet:

  Ramsdam pammydiddle larrybonnywigtail
  Wigtaillarrybonny keimo.

This could be no other than an incantation, and Bilk stood rooted to the
spot, unable to advance or retreat.  He heard a rustling in the hedge,
and the incantation suddenly ceased.  Then a figure like that of an old
man bent with age and clad in a ragged coat which nearly touched the
ground advanced slowly, saying in croaking accent as he did so--

"Ah, young gentleman, we've waited for ye.  We couldn't go till we'd
seen ye; for we've something to tell ye.  Come quietly this way, and say
not a word, or the spell's broken--come, young gentleman; come, young
gentleman;" and the old man went on crooning the words to himself as he
led the way with tottering steps round the hedge, and discovered a sort
of tent in which sat, with her face half shrouded in a shawl, an old
woman who wagged her head incessantly and chattered to herself in a
language of her own.  She took no notice of Bilk as he drew near
tremblingly, and it was not until the old man had nudged her vehemently,
and both had indulged in a long fit of coughing, that she at last
growled, without even lifting her head--

"I see nothing unless for silver."

It said a great deal for Bilk's quickness of apprehension that he at
once guessed this vague observation to refer to the sixpence he had not
yet offered.  He drew it out and handed it to the old woman, and was
about to offer an apology at the same time, when the man put his hand to
his mouth and snarled--

"Not a word."

The old woman took the coin in her trembling hand, and bent her head
over it in silence.  Bilk began to get uneasy.  The time was passing,
and he would have to start back in a very few moments.  Could it be
possible these gipsies, now they had his sixpence, were going to refuse
to tell him the fortune for which he had longed and risked so much?

No!  After a long pause the old woman lifted up her hand and said
something in gibberish to her partner.  It was a long time coming, for
they both coughed and groaned violently during the recital.  At length,
however, the old man turned to Bilk and said gruffly--

"Kneel."

The boy obeyed, and the old man proceeded.

"She says a great danger threatens you this night.  If you escape it,
you will live to be a baronet or member of parliament, and perhaps you
will marry a duke's daughter; but she can't be certain of that.  If you
don't escape it, you will be in a lunatic asylum next week, and never
come out.  Not a word," added he, as Bilk once more showed signs of
breaking silence.  "Wait till she speaks again."

Another long pause, and then another long recital in gibberish by the
old woman, broken by the same coughing and groaning as before.  Then the
man said--

"Stand up, and hold your hands above your head."

Bilk obeyed.

"You want to know how to escape the peril?" said the man.

Bilk, with his hands still up, nodded.

"To-night at nine o'clock you will hear a bell."

Again Bilk nodded.  Fancy the gipsies knowing that!

"You will go up to a small room with a chair and a bed in it, and
undress."

A pause, and another nod from the astonished Bilk.

"You will put on a long white robe coming down to your ankles.  At half-
past nine the place will be dark--as black as pitch."

Bilk shuddered a little at the prospect.

"Then will be the time to escape your peril, or else to fall a victim.
To escape it you must go quietly down the stairs and out of the house.
The being who rules your life will be away for this one evening, and you
will escape through his room by the window, which is close to the
ground."

Bilk started once more.  _He_ knew the doctor was to be out that
evening, but what short of supernatural vision could tell the gipsies of
it?

"You must escape in the long white robe, and run past here on to the
cross roads.  No one will see you.  At the cross roads there is a post
with four arms.  You must climb it and sit on the arm pointing this way
until the clock strikes twelve.  The peril will then be past, and your
fortune will be made.  Not a word.  Go, and beware, Alexander Magnus
Bilk!"

The legs of the scared Alexander could scarcely uphold him as he obeyed
this last order, and sped trembling towards the school.  The gipsies sat
motionless as his footsteps echoed down the lane and died slowly away
into silence.

Then they rose to go also; but as they did so other footsteps suddenly
sounded, approaching them.  With an alacrity astonishing in persons of
their advanced age they darted back to their place of retreat; but too
late.  The footsteps came on quickly, and followed them to their very
hiding-place, and next moment the light of two bullseyes turned full
upon them, and the aged couple were in the hands of the police.



CHAPTER THIRTY FOURCHAPTER TWO.

De Prudhom did not often allow himself the luxury of an evening out
during term time.  But on this particular evening he was pledged to
fulfil a long-standing engagement with an old crony and fellow-bachelor,
residing about two miles from the school.  By some mysterious means the
worthy dominie's intentions had oozed out, and Bilk was by no means the
only boy who had heard of it.  Mice seem to find out by instinct when
the cat is away, and fix their own diversions accordingly.

I merely mention this to explain that as far as Alexander Magnus was
concerned no night could have been more favourable for carrying out the
intricate series of instructions laid down by the gipsy for the making
of his fortune.  With this reflection he consoled himself somewhat as he
ran back to the school.

The doctor had already started for his evening's dissipation, if dining
with Professor Hammerhead could be thus described.  This eccentric old
gentleman combined in one the avocations of a bachelor, a man of
science, and a justice of the peace.  He rarely took his walks abroad,
preferring the solitude of his library, and the occasional company of
some old comrade with whom to talk over old times, and unburden his mind
of the scientific problems which encumbered it.  On the present occasion
he had lit upon a congenial spirit in worthy Dr Prudhom, and the two
spent a very snug evening together over the dessert, raking up memories
of the good old days when they lived on the same staircase at Brasenose;
and plunging deep into abstruse questions of natural and physical
science which even the sherry could not prevent from being dry.

The professor's present craze was what is commonly termed ethnology.
Anything connected with the history and vicissitudes of the primitive
races of mankind excited his enthusiasm, and he was never tired of
inquiring into the languages, the manners, the customs, the dress, the
ceremonies, and the movements generally of various branches of the human
family, of whom the most obscure were sure to be in his eyes the most
interesting.

It was only natural, therefore, that when Dr Prudhom made some casual
reference to the recent incursion of gipsies, his host should seize the
occasion to expatiate on the history of that extraordinary race; tracing
them from the Egyptians downwards, and waxing eloquent on their tribal
instincts, which no civilisation or even persecution could eradicate or
domesticate.

"Fact is," said he, with a chuckle, "they had me to thank that they were
allowed here so long.  Police came to me end of first week and said they
were a nuisance.  I told the police when I wanted their opinion I'd ask
it.  End of second week police came again and said all the farmyards
round had been robbed.  I said I must inquire into it.  He! he!  All the
time I was making glorious observations, my boy; a note-book full, I
declare.  End of third week inspector of police came and said he should
have to apply at head-quarters for instructions if I wouldn't give them.
Not a place was secure as long as the vagabonds stayed.  Had to cave in
then, and issue a warrant or so and get rid of them.  Sorry for it.
Much to learn ye: about them, and the few specimens brought before me
weren't good ones.  Young gipsies, you know, Prudhom, aren't up to the
mark.  You only get the true aboriginal ring about the old people.  Yes,
I'm afraid they're breaking up, you know.  Sorry for it."

Dr Prudhom concurred, and mentioned as a somewhat significant fact
that very few old gipsies had accompanied the late visitation, which
consisted almost altogether of the young and possibly degenerate members
of the tribe.

The discussion had reached this stage, and the professor was about to
adduce evidence from history of a similar period of depression in the
race, when there came a ring at the front bell, followed by a shuffling
of feet in the hall, which was presently explained by the appearance of
the servant, who announced that there were two constables below who
wished to see his worship.

Now his worship was anything but pleased to be interrupted in the midst
of his interesting discussion by a matter of such secondary importance
as an interview with the police.

"Can't see them now," said he to the servant; "tell them to call in the
morning."  The servant retired.

"Strange thing," observed the justice of the peace; "you can shut up
your school at five o'clock every night, and every cheesemonger and
tinker in the place can do the same; but we've got no time we can call
our own.  Pull your chair up to the fire, old fellow.  Let's see, what
were we saying?"  The servant appeared again at this point, and
said--"Please, sir, they've got a couple of the gipsies, and want--"

"Eh, what!" exclaimed the professor, jumping up.  "Why didn't you say so
before?  Gipsies!  Why, Prudhom, my boy, could anything be more
opportune?  Show them into the library, and set a chair for the doctor.
Do you hear?  How fortunate this is!  Now while I'm examining them,
watch closely, and see if you do not observe the peculiar curve of the
nostril I was speaking to you about as characterising the septentrional
species of the tribe.  Come away, doctor!"

And off trotted the man of science to his library, closely followed by
the scarcely less eager dominie.

At the far end of the dimly-lighted room stood the constables, on either
side of an aged couple of vagabonds.  The old man was arrayed in a long
coat which nearly reached the ground, leaving only a glimpse of a
stained and weather-beaten pair of pantaloons and striped parti-coloured
stockings beneath.  The old woman wore a shawl, gipsy fashion, over her
head, and reaching to her feet, which were shod in unusually large and
heavy hob-nailed boots.  The faces and hands of both were black with
dirt, and bronzed with heat, and as they stood there trembling in the
grasp of the law, with chattering teeth and tottering knees, they looked
a veritable picture of outcast humanity.

"Prudhom, my boy," whispered the magistrate to his guest, with a most
unjudicial nudge, to emphasise his remarks, "they're old ones.  Was ever
such luck!  Knowing ones, too, I guess: they'll try to trick us with
their gammon, you see.  He! he!  Now, constable, what have you got
here?"

For the first time the elderly couple lifted their heads and looked
towards the Bench.  As they did so they uttered an incoherent
ejaculation, and attempted to spring forward.  But the active and
intelligent servants of the law checked them by a vigorous grip of their
arms, and crying "Silence!" in their most majestic and menacing tones,
reduced them at last to order.

"See that?" whispered the professor to the doctor; "most characteristic.
Simulation is of the very essence of their race.  Oh, this is
beautiful!  Did you catch what they said just then?  It was an
expression in the Maeso-Shemitic dialect, still to be found in the south
of Spain and on the old Moorish coast of Africa.  I know it well.  Well,
constable?"

"If you please, your honour, I was passing near the school about half-
past five this afternoon along with my brother officer when I observe
the defendants crawling along beside the wall.  I keeps my eye on them,
and observe them going in the direction of Deadman's Lane.  I follows
unobserved, and observes them crawl behind a hedge.  I waits to observe
what follows, and presently I observe a young gentleman walking down the
lane.  As I expects, the male defendant comes out and offers to tell him
his fortune, and I observes the young gentleman give the parties money.
I waits till he leaves, and then with my brother officer we arrest the
parties.  That's all, your worship.  Stand still, you wagabone you; do
you hear?"

This last observation was addressed, not to his worship, but to the
female prisoner, who once more made an effort to step forward and speak.
The grip of the constable kept her where she was, but, heedless of this
threatening gesture, she cried out, in a shrill, trembling voice--

"Please, sir--please, doctor, we're two of your boys."

The doctor, who had been intently looking out for the curved nostril
alluded to by his host, started as if he had been shot.

"Eh, what?" he gasped; "what was that I heard?"

"Why," said the professor, in ecstasy, "it's just as I told you.
Dissimulation is second nature to the tribe.  No he is too big for them.
The old lady says she and the other rogue are your children.  Doctor,
there's a notion for you!--an old bachelor like you, too!  He! he!"

"We are indeed!" cried the old man, echoing the shrill tones of his
helpmeet.  "I'm Morgan, Dr Prudhom, and he's Dell.  Indeed, we're
speaking the truth.  We only did it--"

"There, you see," once more observed the delighted professor; "it's the
very thing I knew would happen.  They know you are a schoolmaster, and
they want you to believe-- Oh, this is really most interesting."

The doctor seemed to find it interesting.  He changed colour several
times, and looked hard at the two reprobates before him.  But their
weather-and-dust-beaten countenances conveyed no information to his
mind.  Their voices certainly did startle him with something like a
familiar sound; but might not this be part of the deep dissimulation
dwelt upon with so much emphasis by his learned friend?

"I wouldn't have missed this for twenty pounds," said the magistrate,
beaming on his guest; "my theories are confirmed to the letter."

"We only did it for a lark, sir, and we're awfully sorry," cried the old
man.  "We really are, aren't we, Dell?"

"Yes, sir," cried the old lady; "please let us off this time."

"Upon my word," said the doctor, getting up and advancing towards the
prisoners.  "I don't know--"

"Don't be a fool, Prudhom; I know them of old.  Sit down, man.
Constable, I shall commit the prisoners.  Where are my papers?"

"Oh, doctor, please save us!" cried the old lady again.  "We are
speaking the truth.  Let us wash our faces and take off our cloaks, and
you'll see we are.  Oh, we'll never do it again!"

And before the doctor could reply, or the scandalised constables could
prevent it, the two gipsies cast off their outer garments, and presented
themselves to the bewildered spectators in the mud-stained jerseys and
knickerbockers of the Holmhurst football club!  I draw a veil over the
explanations, the lectures, and the appeals which followed, as also I
forbear to dwell upon the consternation of the man of science, and the
cruel disorganisation of all his cherished theories.  It is only fair to
say that the professor bore no malice, when once he discovered how the
matter stood, and used his magisterial influence with the doctor to
procure at any rate a mitigated punishment for the culprits.

The delinquents were ordered off to the lavatory, and left there with a
can of hot water and a cube of soap, to remove the wrinkles and sunburn
from their crestfallen countenances.  Which done, they humbly presented
themselves in the library, where the doctor, looking very stern, stood
already accoutred for the journey home.  The leave-taking between the
two old gentlemen was subdued and solemn, and then in grim silence Dr
Prudhom stalked forth into the night, followed at a respectful distance
by his trembling disciples.

Till that moment the thought of Bilk had never once crossed the minds of
the agitated amateur gipsies, but it flashed across them now as the
doctor strode straight for the cross roads.  What if the miserable
Alexander Magnus should have swallowed the absurd bait laid for him, and
be in the act of making his fortune on the very spot they were to pass!

They held a hurried consultation in whisper on this terrible
possibility.  "We shall be expelled if it comes out!" groaned Dell.
"Yes; we may as well tell him at once," said Morgan.  "He may not be
there, you know; perhaps we'd better wait and see, in case."

So they went on in the doctor's wake, nearer and nearer to the fatal
cross roads at every step.

Suddenly, as they came within a hundred yards of the signpost, the
doctor stood still and uttered an exclamation, the meaning of which they
were able to guess only too readily.  Straining their eyes in the
direction indicated, they could discern a white shadowy form hovering in
the road before them.  "What's that?" exclaimed the doctor in a whisper.
Dell was conscious of a secret nudge as Morgan gasped--"Oh, it looks
like a ghost!  Oh, doctor!" and the two boys clung wildly to the
doctor's arm, trembling and gasping with well-feigned terror.

Dr Prudhom trembled too, but his agitation was unfeigned.  The three
stood still breathless, and watched the dim figure as it hovered across
their path, and then vanished into the darkness.

"What can it be?" said the doctor, bracing himself up with an effort,
and preparing to walk on.

"Oh, please, sir," cried the boys, "don't go on! do let us turn back!
Oh dear! oh dear!"

"Foolish boys!" said the doctor; "haven't you sense enough to know that
no such thing as--ah! there it is again!"

Yes, there it was again.  A faint beam of the moon broke through the
clouds, and lit up the white figure once more where it stood close to
the sign-post.  And as they watched it seemed to grow, rising higher and
higher till its head nearly touched the cross-bars.  Then suddenly, and
with a groan, it seemed to drop into the earth, and all was darkness
once more.  The boys clung one on each side to the doctor, who trembled
hardly less than themselves.  No one dared move, or speak, or utter a
sound.

Again the moon sent forth a beam, as the figure once more appeared and
slowly rose higher and higher.  For a moment it seemed as if it would
soar into the air, but again with a dull crash it descended and
vanished.

"Boys," said the doctor hoarsely, "I confess I--I am puzzled!"

"I--I wonder," said Dell, "if I ever dare go and see what it is.  I say,
M-m-organ, would you g-g-go with me--for the d-d-doctor's sake?"

"Oh, Dell!  I'm afraid.  But--yes, I'll try."

"Brave boys!" said the doctor, never taking his eyes off the spot where
the ghost last vanished.

The two boys stole forward on tiptoe, holding one another's arms; then
suddenly they broke into a rush straight for the sign-post.

There was a loud shriek as the white figure rose up to meet them.

"Bilk, you idiot, cut back for your life! here's the doctor!  We were
only having a lark with you.  Do cut your sticks, and slip in quietly,
and it'll be all right.  Look alive, or we're all three done for!"

The ill-starred Bilk needed no further invitation.  He started to run as
fast as his long legs would carry him, his night-gown flapping in the
evening breeze, and his two persecutors following him with cries of
"Booh!"

"Scat!"

"Shoo!" and other formulae for exorcising evil spirits.

After a hundred yards or so the two heroes gave up the chase, and
returned to the slowly-reviving doctor.

"Come along, sir," said Dell; "there's nothing there; it vanished as
soon as we got to it.  Let us be quick, sir, in case it comes back."

The remainder of the walk home that evening, I need hardly observe, was
brisk; but it was not so brisk as the same journey accomplished by
Alexander Magnus Bilk, who had reached the school a full quarter of an
hour before his pursuers, and was safe between his blankets by the time
that they peeped into his room on their way to bed, and whispered
consolingly, "It's all up with the duke's daughter now, old man!"

The doctor may have had some dim suspicion of the real state of affairs;
but if so, he gave no sign, and the boys, happy in their escape from
what might have proved a grave matter, were content to forego all
further practical jokes of the kind for the rest of the session.



CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE.

A NIGHT IN THE DREADNOUGHT.

Chapter I.  Stowaways.

We were spending the winter of 185--, my young brother Jack and I, with
our grandfather at Kingstairs, a quiet little seaside village not a
hundred miles from the Nore.

I am not quite clear to this day as to why we were there--whether we
were sent for a treat, or for a punishment, or whether I was sent to
take care of Jack, or Jack was sent to take care of me.  I can't
remember that we had committed any unusually heinous offence at home.
Indeed, since our attempt a week or two previously to emulate history by
smothering the twins, after the manner of the princes in the Tower, we
had been particularly quiet, not to say dull, at home.  For the little
accident of the squib that went off in the night nursery in the middle
of the night counted for nothing, nobody being hurt, and only the head
nurse and our aunt having hysterics.

So that when, the day after we had broken up for the holidays, our
father told us we were going to spend Christmas at grandfather's, there
was nothing in our past conduct to suggest that the step was to be
regarded in the light of a punishment.

All the same, it was no great treat.  At least it would have been far
more of a treat to spend Christmas at home, and carry out our long-
cherished design of digging at the bottom of the garden till we reached
the fire in the middle of the earth, an operation which we reckoned
would occupy at least a week; to say nothing of the usual Christmas
parties, which we did not see the fun of missing, and the visits to the
Tower and the Monument, which always seemed to be part of every
Christmas holiday.

However, as it was all settled for us, and everybody seemed to think it
a great treat for us, and further, as Jack had a boat which wanted
sailing, we yielded to the general wish, and reminding everybody that
the presents could be sent down in a trunk a day or two before the 25th,
we took our leave and repaired to Kingstairs.

Our father came with us, just to see us settled down, and then returned
to town.  And it was not till after he had gone that we began to think
it rather slow to be left alone down there with only grandfather and
Jack's boat for company.

Grandfather was very old.  We always used to put him down at a round
hundred years, but I believe he was only seventy-five really.  However,
he was not as young as we were, and being rather infirm and subject to
rheumatism, he preferred staying indoors near the fire to coming with us
over the rocks and sailing Jack's boat in mid-December.

He little knew the pleasure he missed, of course!  Happily, he did not
insist on our staying indoors with him, and the consequence was we
managed to do pretty much as we liked, and indeed rather more so than he
or any one else interested in our welfare supposed.

Kingstairs, as any one who has been there knows, is not a very exciting
place at the best of times.  In summer, however, it is a pleasant enough
retreat, where family parties come down from town for a week or so, and
spend their days boating in the pretty bay, or else basking on the sands
under the chalk cliffs, where the children construct fearful and
wonderful pits and castles, and arm-chairs for their mothers to sit in,
or canals and ponds in which to sail their craft.  In fine weather
nothing is so enjoyable as a day on the rocks, hunting for crabs and
groping for "pungars," or else strolling about on the jetty to watch the
packet-boat go out to meet the steamer, or see the luggers coming in
after a week's fishing cruise in the German Ocean.

All this is pleasant enough.  But Kingstairs in July and Kingstairs in
December are two different places.

The lodging-houses were all desolate and deserted.  The boats were all
drawn high and dry up on the jetty.  The bathing-machines stood dismally
in the field behind the town.  Not a soul sat in an arm-chair on the
sands from morning to night.  No one walked along the cliffs except the
coastguardsmen.  The London steamer had given up running, and no one was
to be seen on the jetty but an occasional sailor, pipe in mouth and
hands in pockets, looking the picture of dismalness.

You may fancy Jack and I, under these depressing circumstances, soon got
tired of sailing the boat.  And when one day, after we had waited a week
for the water to calm down, we started it, with all sail crowded, before
half a gale of wind, from the jetty steps, and watched it heel over on
to one side and next moment disappear under the foam of a great wave
which nearly carried us off our feet where we stood, we decided there
was not much fun to be had out of Kingstairs in December.

It was often so rough and stormy that it was impossible to get to the
end of the jetty; and on these occasions we were well enough pleased to
take shelter in the "look-out," a big room over the net-house, reached
by a ladder, where there was generally a fire burning, and in which the
sailors and boatmen of the place always congregated when they had
nothing else to do.

We struck up acquaintance with one or two of these rough tars, who,
seeing perhaps that we were in rather a dismal way, or else glad of
anything in the way of a variety, used to invite us up to warm ourselves
at the fire.  We very soon got to feel at home in the "look-out," and
found plenty of entertainment in the yarns and songs with which the men
whiled away the time.

A great deal of what we heard, now I remember it, was not very
improving; the songs, many of them, were coarse, and as for the yarns,
though we swallowed them all at the time, I fancy they were spun mostly
out of the fancy of the narrators.  Wonderful stories they were, of
shipwreck, and battle, and peril, over which we got so excited that we
lay awake at night and shuddered, or else dreamed about them, which was
even worse.

One man, I remember, told us how he fought with a shark under water in
the South Seas, and stabbed it with the knife in his right hand, just as
the monster's teeth were closing on his other arm.  And to make his
story more vivid he bared his great shaggy arm, and showed us an ugly
white scar among the tattoo marks above the elbow.  Another man told us
how he had stood beside Nelson on the "Victory," just as the admiral
received his death-wound; and it never occurred to us to wonder how a
man of not more than thirty-five could have been present at that famous
battle, which took place fifty years ago!  But the yarn that pleased us
most was the one about the wreck of the "Wolf King," when the Kingstairs
lifeboat, the "Dreadnought," put out in a tremendous gale, and reached
her just as she was going down, and rescued sixteen of her crew.  This
story we called for over and over again, till we knew it by heart.  And
many a time, as we lay awake at night, and heard the wind whistling
round the house, we wondered if it was a storm like this when the "Wolf
King" went down, or whether any ship would be getting on to the Sands
to-night.

It was Christmas Eve--a wild, blustering night.  It had been blowing up
hard for several days now, and we were used to the howling of the wind
and the roar of the waves on the beach.  We had gone to bed tired and
excited, for the promised hamper had arrived that afternoon, and we had
been unpacking it.  What a wonderful hamper it was!  A turkey to begin
with, and a _Swiss Family Robinson_, and a tool-box, and a telescope,
and a pair of home-made socks for grandfather.  We were fain to take
possession of our treasures at once, but the old gentleman forbade it,
and made us put them all back in the hamper and wait till the morning.

So we went to bed early, hoping thereby, I suppose, to hasten the
morning.  But instead of that, the hours dragged past as though the
night would never go.  We heard nine o'clock strike, and ten, and
eleven.  We weren't in the humour for sleeping, and told one another all
the stories we knew--finishing up, of course, with the wreck of the
"Wolf King."  Then we lay for a long time listening to the storm
outside, which seemed to get wilder and wilder as the night dragged on.
The tide, which had been only just turned when we went to bed, sounded
now close under the house, and the thunder of the great waves as they
broke on the sand seemed to make the very earth vibrate.

Surely it must have been a night like this when the "Wolf King"--

"Tom!"

"What?"

"Are you awake?"

"Yes."

"It's a storm, isn't it?"

There was a silence for some time, and I supposed Jack had dozed off,
but he began again presently.  "Tom!"

"What?"

"Hadn't we better go on the jetty?"

"Why?"

"There might be a wreck, you know."

"So there might."

Next moment we were out of bed and dressing quietly.

We need not have minded about the noise, for the roar of the storm
outside would have prevented any one from hearing sounds twenty times
louder than those we made, as we crept into our clothes and pulled on
our boots.

"All ready, Jack?"

"Yes; mind how you go down."

We crept downstairs, past grandfather's room, where a light was burning,
down into the hall, and through the passage to the back door.  We pulled
the bolts and opened it carefully.  Fortunately, it was on the sheltered
side of the house.  Had it been the front, the blast that would have
rushed in would certainly have discovered our retreat.

We stepped cautiously out and closed the door behind us.  We were
surprised to find how still it seemed at first, compared with what we
had imagined.  But next moment, as we got past the back of the house and
came suddenly into the full force of the wind, we knew that the storm
was even fiercer than we supposed.  At first we could barely stand, as
with heads down and knees bent we struggled forward.  But we got more
used to it in a little while, and once in Harbour Street we were again
in shelter.

Harbour Street was empty.  No one saw us as we glided down it towards
the jetty.  We heard the church clock strike half-past eleven, the
chimes being swept past us on the wind.

As we turned out of Harbour Street on to the jetty the force of the gale
once more staggered us, and we had almost to crawl forward.  There were
lights and the cheery glow of a fire in the "look-out," and we knew
there must be plenty of sailors there.  But somehow at this time of
night we did not care to be discovered even by our friends the sailors.
So we kept on, holding on to the chains, towards where the red light
burned at the jetty-head.

We were too excited to be afraid.  One of those strange spirits of
adventure had seized upon us which make boys ready for anything, and the
thought of standing alone at midnight at the pier-head in a storm like
that did not even dismay us.

But before we were half-way along we found that it was not the easy
thing we imagined.  A huge wave struck the jetty behind the wall under
which we crept, and next moment a deluge of spray and foam shot up and
fell, drenching us to the skin.  And almost before we knew what had
happened another and another followed.

We turned instinctively towards the "look-out," but as we did so a
fourth wave, huger than all the rest, swept the jetty from end to end,
and but for the chain, on to which we clung, we should have been washed
off.

Our only chance was to run for the nearest shelter, and that was the lee
of the tarpaulin-covered lifeboat, which lay up on its stocks, out of
the reach of the spray, and seeming to us to offer as much protection
ashore as it could do afloat.

Half a dozen staggering steps brought us to it.  But even in this short
space another wave had drenched us.  We were thankful to creep under its
friendly shelter, and once there we wondered for the first time how we
were ever to get back.  Our hearts were beginning to fail us at last.
We were cold and shivering, and wet through, and now the rain came in
gusts, to add to our misery.

"Couldn't we get inside?" said Jack, with chattering teeth.

As he spoke a shower of salt spray leapt over the boat and deluged us.
Yes; why not get inside under the tarpaulin, where we could shelter at
once from the cold, and the wet, and the wind?  Nobody could see us, and
if any one came we could jump out, and presently, perhaps, the storm
might quiet down, and we could get back to bed.

Jack had already clambered up the side, and lifted a corner of the
tarpaulin.  I followed, and in a minute we were snugly stowed away, in
almost as good shelter as if we had never left our bedroom.

Then we sat and listened drowsily to the wind raging all round, and
heard the spray falling with heavy thuds on the tarpaulin above us.

"It must be past twelve, Jack," said I; "a Merry Christmas to you."

But Jack was fast asleep.

Chapter II.  The Rescue.

How long Jack and I had lain there, curled up under the bows of the
"Dreadnought" that stormy Christmas morning, I never knew.  For I, like
him, had succumbed to the drowsy influence of the cold and wet, and
fallen asleep.

I remember, just before dropping off, thinking the storm must be
increasing rather than otherwise, and vaguely wondering whether the wind
could possibly capsize the boat up here in the top of its runners.
However, my sleepiness was evidently greater than my fears on this
point, and I dropped off, leaving the question to decide itself.

The next thing I was conscious of was a strange noise overhead, and a
sudden dash of water on to the floor of the boat just beside me.  Then,
before I could rub my eyes, or recollect where I was, the "Dreadnought"
seemed suddenly alive with people, some shouting, some cheering, while
the loud bell at the pierhead close by mingled its harsh voice with the
roar of the storm.

"Stand by--cut away there!" shouted a hoarse voice from the boat.  Then
it flashed across me!  The "Dreadnought" was putting out in this fearful
storm to some wreck, and--horrors!--Jack and I were in her!

"Wait, I say, wait!  Jack and I are here.  Let us out!"  I cried.

In the noise, and darkness, and confusion, not even the nearest man
noticed me as I sprang up with this terrified shout.

I shook Jack wildly and shouted again, trying at the same time to make
my way to the stern of the boat.

But before I had crossed the first bench, before the two men seated
there with oars up, ready for the launch, perceived us, there was a
cheer from the jetty, the great boat gave a little jolt and then began
to slide, slowly at first, but gaining speed as she went on, and I knew
she was off.

That short, swift descent seemed to me like an eternity.  The lights on
the jetty went out, the cheers were drowned, and--

A rough hand caught me where I stood half across the bench and drove me
back down beside Jack, who was yet too dazed to stir.  Next instant with
a rush and a roar we plunged into the tempest, and all was blackness!

It seemed to me as if that first plunge was to be the last for the
gallant boat and all in her.  The bows under which we crouched, clinging
for dear life to a ring on the floor, were completely submerged.  The
water rushed over us and around us, nearly stunning us with its violence
and deafening us with its noise.

But presently we rose suddenly, and the boat shot up till it seemed to
stand on end, so that, where we sat, we could see every inch of it from
stem to stern, and the dim outline of Kingstairs jetty behind.  At the
same moment the ten oars dropped into their rowlocks, the coxswain, with
his sou'-wester pulled down tight on his head, and a hand raised to
screen his eyes from the sleet, shouted something--the boat soared
wildly up the wave, and once again all was darkness for us.

How the brave boat ever got through that first half-mile of surf is a
mystery to me.  Every wave seemed as though it would pitch it like a
plaything across to the next.  Now we shot up till we looked down on the
coxswain below us as from the top of a mast, and next instant we looked
up at him till it seemed a marvel how he held to his place, and did not
drop on to us.  All the while the men tugged doggedly at the oars,
heeding neither the waves that broke over them and flooded the boat, nor
the surf that often nearly knocked the oars from their hands.

And what of Jack and me?  We crouched there, close together, clutching
fast at the friendly ring, looking out in mute terror on to this fearful
scene, too stupefied to speak, or move, or almost to think.  Had any one
seen us? or had the hand which drove me down at the launch saved me from
my danger by accident?  I began to think this must be so, when the man
nearest us, whom even in his cork jacket and sou'-wester I recognised as
the hero of the shark story in the "look-out," turned towards us.

He was not one of the rowers, but had been busily drawing in and coiling
a line close beside us during those first terrific plunges of the boat
after she had taken the water.  But now he turned hurriedly to where we
sat, and without a word seized me roughly by the arm and drew me to my
feet.  I made sure I was to be cast overboard like Jonah into that
fearful sea.  But no.  All he did was to throw a cork jacket round me,
and then thrust me down again to my old place, just as a great wave
broke over the prows and seemed almost to fill the boat.  As soon as
this had passed and the water swirled out from the boat, he seized Jack
and equipped him in the same way.  Then throwing a tarpaulin coat over
us, he left us to ourselves, while he mounted his watch in the bows and
kept a look-out ahead.

The cork jackets, if of no other use, helped to warm us a bit, as also
did the coat, and thankful for the comfort, however small, we settled
down to see the end of our adventure and hope for the best.

Settled down, did I say?  How could any one settle down in an open boat
on a sea like that, with every wave breaking over our heads and half
drowning us, and each moment finding the boat standing nearly
perpendicular either on its stem or its stern?  How the rowers kept
their seats and, still more, held on to their oars and pulled through
the waves, I can still scarcely imagine.  But for the friendly ring on
to which Jack and I held like grim death, I am certain we should have
been pitched out of the boat at her first lurch.

The "Dreadnought" ploughed on.  Not a word was spoken save an occasional
shout between the coxswain and our friend in the bows as to our course.
I could see by the receding lights of Kingstairs, which came into sight
every time we mounted to the top of a wave, that we were not taking a
straight course out, but bearing north, right in the teeth of the wind;
and I knew enough of boats, I remember, to wonder with a shudder what
would happen if we should chance to get broadside on to one of these
waves.  Presently the man by us shouted--"You're right now.  Bill!"

The coxswain gave some word of command, and we seemed to come suddenly
into less broken water.  The men shipped their oars, and springing to
their feet, as if by one motion, hoisted a mast and unfurled a
triangular sail.

For a moment the flapping of the canvas half deafened us.  Then suddenly
it steadied, and next minute the boat heeled over, gunwale down on the
water, and began to hiss through the waves at a tremendous speed.

"Pass them younkers down here!" shouted Bill, when this manoeuvre had
been executed.

Jack and I were accordingly sent crawling down to the stern under the
benches, and presented ourselves in a pitiable condition before the
coxswain.

He was not a man of many words at the best of times, and just now, when
everything depended on the steering, he had not one to waste.

"Stow 'em away, Ben," he said, not looking at us, but keeping his eyes
straight ahead.

Ben, another of our acquaintance, dragged us up beside him on the
weather bulwarks, and here we had to stand, holding on to a rail, while
the boat, with her sail lying almost on the water, rushed through the
waves.

We were no longer among the breaking surf through which we had had to
straggle at starting, although the sea still rolled mountains high, and
threatened to turn us over every moment as we sailed across it.  But the
gallant boat, thanks to the skilful eye and hand of the coxswain, kept
her head up, and presently even we got used to the situation, and were
able to do the same.

Where was the wreck?  I summoned up courage to ask Ben, who, no longer
having to row, was standing composedly against the bulwarks by our side.

"Not far now.  Straight ahead."

We strained our eyes eagerly forward.  For a long time nothing was
visible in the darkness, but presently a bright flash of light shot
upward, followed almost immediately by a blaze on the surface of the
water and a dull report.

"They're firing again!" said Ben; "we'll be up to them in a jiffey!"

"What are we to do?" asked Jack dismally.

"Hold on where you are," said Ben; "and if we upset stay quiet in the
water till you're picked up."

With which consoling piece of advice Jack and I subsided, and asked no
more questions.

The sight of a column of lurid flame and smoke made us wonder for a
moment whether the vessel in distress was not on fire as well as
wrecked.  But I recollected that the "Wolf King" had burned tar-barrels
all night long as a signal of distress, and this we rightly concluded
was what was taking place on board "our" wreck.

Ben's "jiffey" seemed a good while coming to an end, and long before it
did we passed once more into broken water, and the perils of the start
were repeated, with the aggravation that we were now across the wind
instead of being head on.  Wave after wave burst over us, and time after
time, as we hung suspended on the crest of some great billow, it seemed
as if we never could right ourselves.  But we did.

"Stand by!" cried the coxswain, when at last a great dim black outline
appeared on our starboard.

Instantly the men were in their seats; oars were put out; the mast and
sail came down, and the clank of the anchor being got ready for use fell
on our ears from the bows.

The wreck was now right between us and the shore, we being some distance
to the windward of it.  My knowledge of the story of the wreck of the
"Wolf King" gave me a pretty good notion of what was going on, and even
in the midst of our peril I found myself whispering to Jack--

"They're going to drop the anchor, you know, and blow down on to her--"

"Hope they've got rope enough," said Jack.  For in the case of the "Wolf
King" it took three attempts to get within the right distance.  The
coxswain of the "Dreadnought" was evidently determined not to fall into
his old error this time, and, with her head to the wind and the oars
holding the water, he allowed her to drift to within about eighty yards
of the wreck.  Then he shouted--

"Pay away, there!" and instantly we heard the cable grinding over the
gunwale.

Would it hold?  Even to inexperienced boys like Jack and me the suspense
was dreadful as the cable ran out, and the rowers kept the boat's head
carefully up.

The grinding ceased.  There was a moment's pause, then came a welcome
"Ay, ay!" from the bows, and we knew it was all right.

It didn't take the wind long to drive us back on our cable, stern
foremost, on to the wreck, which now loomed out huge and ghostly on the
wild water.  As we drifted down under her stern we were conscious,
amidst the smoke of the burning tar-barrels and the spray of the waves
which broke over her, of a crowd of faces looking over her sides, and
fancied we heard a faint cheer too.  Our men still kept their oars out,
and when, always holding on to our cable, we had drifted some twenty
yards or so on to the lee side of the wreck, the order was given to pull
alongside.

It was no easy task in the face of the wind; but the men who had taken
the "Dreadnought" through the surf off Kingstairs jetty were not likely
to fail now.  A few powerful strokes brought us close under the lee of
the wreck, ropes were thrown out fore and aft, and in a few minutes we
lay tossing and kicking, but safely moored within a yard or two of the
ill-starred vessel.

Half a dozen of our men were up her sides and on board in a moment, and
we could hear the cheers with which they were greeted as they sprang on
deck.  No time was to be lost.  The wreck was creaking in every timber,
and each wave that burst over her, deluging us on the other side,
threatened to break her in pieces.  One mast already was broken short,
and hung helplessly down, held only by her rigging to the deck.  The
other looked as though it might go any moment, and perhaps carry the
wreck with it.

If she were to capsize now, what would become of us?

It seemed ages before our men reappeared.

One of them shouted down--

"There's twenty.  Germans."

"Any women?"

"Two."

"Look sharp with them."

We could see a cloaked figure lifted on to the bulwarks of the wreck and
held there.  A wave had just passed.  As the next came and lifted us up
with a lurch towards her, some one cried "Jump!" and she obeyed wildly--
almost too wildly, for she nearly overleaped us.  Mercifully there were
stout arms to catch her and place her in safety.  The other woman
followed; and then one after another the crew, until, with thankful
hearts, we counted twenty on board.

Our work was done.  No!  There was a report like a crack of thunder over
our heads, a shout, a shriek, as the mainmast of the wreck gave way with
a crash, and swayed towards us.

"Jump!" shouted the coxswain to our men, who were waiting for the next
wave to bring the boat to them.  "Cut away for'ard, there!"

Another moment and the mast would be on us and overwhelm us!  They
jumped, although we were down in the trough of the wave, yards below
them.  At the same moment the rope in the stern was cut loose, and the
boat swung round wildly, just in time to clear the mast as it fell with
a terrific crash overboard.  But our men?  Four of them landed safely in
our midst; but the others?  Oh! how our hearts turned cold as we saw
that two were missing, and knew that they mast be in that boiling,
furious water!  We sprang wildly to the side, in the mad hope of seeing
them, or perhaps even reaching them a hand but a stern order from the
coxswain sent us back to our places.

A minute of awful suspense followed.  The oars were put up, and, still
held by her stern cable, the boat was brought up again alongside.  In a
minute a shout from the prow proclaimed that one at least of the missing
ones was discovered, and presently a dripping form clambered over the
side of the boat close to us and coolly sat down to his oar, as if
nothing had happened.

Another shout--this time not from the boat, but from the water.  Our
other man had been carried the wrong side of us by the wave, and could
not reach us.  But a rope dexterously pitched reached him where he
floated, and we had the unspeakable joy of seeing him at last hauled
safely on board, exhausted, but as unconcerned as if drowning were an
ordinary occurrence with him.

How thankfully we saw the last cable which held us to the wreck cast
loose, and found ourselves at length, with our twenty rescued souls on
board, heading once more for Kingstairs!  Little was said on that short
voyage home.  Sail and oar carried us rapidly through the storm.  The
waves that broke over us from behind were as nothing to those that had
broken over us from in front.  And as if in recognition of the gallant
exploit of the tough old "Dreadnought," the very surf off Kingstairs
beach had moderated when we reached it.

As we sighted the jetty we could see lights moving and hear a distant
shout, which was answered by a ringing cheer from our men, in which Jack
and I and the eighteen Germans and the two women joined.  What a cheer
it was!  At the jetty-head we could see a large crowd waiting to receive
us, and as we passed a stentorian voice shouted, "Ahoy!  Have you got
them two boys on board?"

"Ay, ay!" cried the coxswain; "safe and sound--the rascals!"

Rascals, indeed!  As we clambered up the ladder, scarcely believing that
we touched _terra firma_ once more, and found our poor old grandfather
almost beside himself with joy and excitement at the top, we considered
we deserved the title.

"Thank God you're safe!" he cried, when at last he had us before a
blazing fire and a hot breakfast in his dining-room.  "Thank God, you
rascals!"

We had done so long ago, and did it again and again, and thanked Him,
not only for ourselves, but for the brave old "Dreadnought" too, so true
to her name and the work she had done that night.

Before we went to bed Jack said, "Same to you, Tom."  I knew what he
meant.  I had wished him a "Merry Christmas" at five minutes past twelve
that morning, and this was his answer six hours after.  What a lot may
happen in six hours!



CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.

HANNIBAL TROTTER THE HERO--A CHAPTER OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY.

We know that it always is, or should be, embarrassing to a hero to
recite the history of his own exploits.  So if this simple narrative
strikes the reader as defective, he must excuse it for that reason.  For
I am in this painful position, that as no one else will recount my
adventures for me, I have nothing left but to do it myself.  It has
surprised me often that it should be so, for there have been times when
I have even pictured myself reading the twentieth edition of my own
memoirs, and the reviews of the Press on the same.  I am not offended,
however, but I am sorry, for it would have been good reading.

Without appearing immodest, may I say that the reader has really no idea
what a hero the world has possessed in the person of me, Hannibal
Trotter?  It has been my misfortune never to be anything else.  How
often have I sighed for an unheroic half-hour!

I was born a hero.  Glory marked me for her own from the first hour of
my career.  I wish she had let me alone.  Had I captured a city, or
rescued a ship's crew, I could not have been made more of than I was for
the simple exploit of being a baby.  Nobody else was thought of beside
me; everybody conspired to do me honour.  A fictitious glory settled
upon me then, from which I have never escaped.  They called me Hannibal.
I was not consulted, or I should have opposed the name.  It confirmed
me in a false position.  There was no chance of not being a hero with
such a name, and I was in for it literally before I knew where I was.

The day I first walked, General Havelock was a fool to me.  I must have
been eighteen months at the time, but when the word went forth,
"Hannibal walks!"  I was simply deafened by the applause which greeted
my feat.  It wasn't much better when, at the very unprecocious age of
two, I gave vent to an inarticulate utterance which, among those who
ought to have known better, passed for speech.  I assure you, reader,
for the next few months I had the whole family hanging on my lips.  How
would you like your whole family hanging on your lips?  But then you
weren't born a hero.

Well, it went on.  My infancy was one sickening round of glory.  Did I
build a house of bricks four courses high?  Archimedes wasn't in it with
me.  Did I sing a nursery rhyme to a tune all one note?  Apollo was a
dabbler in music beside me.  Did one of my first teeth drop out without
my knowing it?  Casabianca on the burning deck couldn't touch me for
fortitude.  Did I once and again chance to tell the truth?  Latimer,
Ridley, George Washington, and Euclid might retire into private life at
once, and never be heard of again!

It was a terrific _role_ to have to keep up, and as I gradually emerged
from frocks into trousers, and from an easy-going infancy into an
anxious boyhood, the true nature of my affliction began to dawn upon me.
Hannibal Trotter, through no choice of his own, and yet by the
undoubted ordering of Fate, was a hero, and he must act as such.  He
must, in fact, keep it up or give it up; and a fellow cannot lightly
give up the only _role_ he has.

In due time, after heroic efforts, I was, at about the age of ten, able
to read to myself, and my attention was at once directed to a class of
stories congenial to my reputation.  It would hardly be fair to inflict
upon the patient reader a digest of my studies, but the one impression
they left upon my mind was that a young man, if he is to be worth the
name, must on every possible occasion both be a hero and show it.

This conclusion rather distressed me; for while the first condition was
easy and natural enough, the second was no joke.  I knew I was a hero; I
could not doubt it, for I had been brought up to the business, and to
question it would be to question the veracity of every relative I had.
But try all I would I couldn't manage to show it.

After a considerable amount of patient study, my conceptions of a hero
had resolved themselves into several leading ideas, which it may be of
use to the reader if I repeat here:--

1.  He must save one life or more from drowning.

2.  He must stop runaway horses.

3.  He must rescue people from burning houses.

4.  He must pull some one from under the wheels of a train.

5.  He must encounter and slay a mad dog in single combat.

6.  He must capture a burglar; and 7.  He must interpose his body
between the pistol of the assassin and the person of some individual of
consequence.

In my researches I had collected a mass of information under each of
these heads, and was perfectly acquainted with what was becoming in a
hero in each emergency.

But, as I have said, try all I would the chance never came.

I was full of hopes when we went to the seaside that emergency number
one at least might make an opening for me.  I spent hours every morning
on the beach watching the bathers, and longing to hear the welcome shout
of distress.  I sat with my boots unlaced and my coat ready to fling off
at a moment's notice.  I tempted my sisters to go and bathe where the
shore shelved rapidly and the ebb washed back strongly.  They went, and
to my chagrin were delighted with the place, and learned to swim better
than I could.

There was a man who went out every morning to bathe from a boat.  I was
always at the pier-head watching him, but he went into the water and
scrambled out of it again over the stern of the boat with ruthless
regularity, and quite mistook my interest in him for admiration, which
was the very last sentiment I harboured.

Once I made sure my chance had come.  It was a warm day, and the shore
was crowded.  Most of the people had finished bathing, and were spread
about the sands drying their back hair and reading their papers.  One
adventurous bather, however, remained in the water.  I had anxiously
watched him swim round the pier-head and back, ready--longing--to see
him cast his hands above his head and hang out other signals of
distress.  But it seemed I was again to be disappointed.  He came in
swimming easily, and mightily pleased with himself and his performance.
He was about twenty yards off his machine and I was beginning to give
him up, when to my delight I saw his hands go up and his head go down,
and heard what I fondly hoped was a yell of despair.

In a moment--two moments, I should say, for one of my boots was not
quite enough unlaced--I was floundering in the water in my flannel shirt
and trousers, striking out wildly for the spot where he had disappeared.
I had gathered from the authorities I had consulted that heroes, under
these circumstances, got over distances in a shorter time than it takes
to record it.  This was not my experience.  It took me a long time to
get half the way, and by that time my clothes were very heavy and I was
very tired.  Moreover, my man was still invisible.

Of course I could not turn back.  Even if I did not succeed in fishing
him out, it was a "gallant attempt," which would be almost as good.
Partly to see how the crowd was taking it, and partly to rest myself, I
turned over on my back and floated.  This do doubt was a tactical error;
for as a rule a hero does not float out to save any one's life.  In my
case it did not much matter, for the first thing I perceived as I turned
was my drowning man's head bobbing up merrily between me and the shore,
having enjoyed his long dive and wholly unaware of the "gallant attempt"
which was being made to rescue him from a watery grave.

As he caught sight of me, however, floundering on my back, and scarcely
able to keep my head up for the weight of my clothes, his face became
alarmed.  "Hold up a second!" he shouted.  Half a dozen strong strokes
brought him to my side, and before I could explain or decline, he had
gripped me by the two shoulders and was punting me ignominiously towards
the shore.

It was a painful situation for me; the more so that I was quite done up
and scarcely able to stagger out of the water into the arms of my
affrighted relatives.

"Lay him on his back and work his arms up and down till you get all the
water out of him, and then put him between hot blankets," cried my
preserver, "and he'll be all serene.  They ought to make a shallow place
somewhere for these kids to bathe, where they won't get out of their
depths.  Bless you, ma'am," added he, in reply to my mother's thanks,
"it's not worth talking of.  It all comes in a day's work, and you're
very welcome."

I was rather glad to leave the seaside after that; and whenever in the
course of my future readings I came upon any further reference to
emergency number one, I discreetly passed it over.

But hope springs eternal in the human breast, and the resources of
heroism were by no means exhausted.

The drowning business had missed fire.  I would go into the runaway-
horse line, and try how that would stand me for glory.

So after a careful study of the theory of the art from my books, I took
to haunting Rotten Row in my leisure hours with a view to business.  I
must confess that it is far easier to stop a runaway horse on paper than
on a gravel drive.  I speculated, as one or two specially reckless
riders dashed past me, on what the chance would be of making a spring at
the bridle of a horse going half as fast again as theirs, and bringing
him gracefully on to his knees.  I didn't like the idea.  And yet had
not a fellow done it in one of Kingsley's novels, and another in one of
Lever's?

At last I screwed myself up to it.  I had worked the thing out
carefully, and arranged my spring and everything.  But I was unlucky
again when the time came.

I remember the occasion well--painfully well.  It was a bright May
afternoon.  I had given the carriages up as hopeless--they drove far too
soberly--and was taking a forlorn glance up and down the ride at the
equestrians, when I perceived a youth approach on a very dashing animal,
which, if it was not bolting, was sailing remarkably close to the wind
in that direction.  The ride was pretty clear, and the few seconds I had
in which to make up my mind were enough for me.  I heard some one say
close beside me, "He'll be chucked!"

Instantly I dived under the rail and dashed out into the road.  There
was a shout and a yell, and the young gentleman had to pull his mare up
on her haunches to avoid riding me down.  Before I could act under these
circumstances a mounted policeman dashed up, and collaring me by the
coat, swung me along beside him a yard or two, and then, with a box on
the ears, pitched me back in among the crowd.

I should have liked to explain, but he did not give me time.

"Young fool!" said one of the crowd; "you might have killed him.  Do you
know who that was?"

"Who?"  I gasped, for I was out of breath.  "That young man who--"

"Yes--that young man's the Prince of Wales."

It's twenty-six years ago since it happened, and probably the King has
forgotten the adventure.  I haven't.  I retired from the runaway-horse
business that very afternoon.

Another door was shut against me.  Still there were others left, and the
house-on-fire line had a good deal to recommend it.  It was a thing in
which one could not well make a mistake.  It had been possible, as I had
found out by painful experience, to mistake the pranks of a lively
swimmer for drowning, and the capers of a lively mare for bolting.  But
there was no mistaking a house on fire when you saw one.  People in a
burning house, moreover, would be likely to give every facility possible
for their own rescue, and the chances were one would not find many
competitors to deprive one of the glory.  On the whole, I warmed up to
this new opening considerably.

Of course one never has the good fortune to have a fire in one's own
house when it is wanted.  It would have been exceedingly convenient for
me to have to rescue my own family from the flames.  As it was, I had to
spend a good many dreary nights in the street in the neighbourhood of
the fire alarms before I so much as smelt fire.

It was a good one when it came.  A great warehouse in the City was
gutted, and those who saw the blaze are not likely to forget it in a
hurry.  I saw it.  I had scampered with all my might after one of the
engines, but only to find a dense crowd on the spot before me.  There
was a wide circle kept round the place, and never did circus-goers fight
for a front row in the gallery as did that crowd fight for a front place
at this grand show.

It was nearly an hour before, by dint of squeezing, sneaking, fighting,
and beseeching, I could get to the front.  By that time the fire had
done its worst.  Still I had noted with satisfaction that no fire-
escapes had yet been brought up, so that any unfortunate inmates were
sure to be still safe for me.  The firemen were playing on the flames
with their hoses, and every now and then an alarm of a tottering wall
sent them flying back to a safe distance.  It was a grand opportunity
for me to brave these poltroons on their own ground, and show them how a
hero behaves at a fire.

So I took advantage of a policeman turning another way, to break bounds
and run into the open space.

"Come back!" shouted the policeman.

"Come back!" yelled the mob.

"Mind the wall!" cried a fireman.

I was delighted, and already glowed with glory.

Alas! how soon our brightest hopes may be damped!

The fireman, seeing that I still advanced on the burning ruin, wheeled
round on me with his hose, and before I could count five had drenched me
through and through, and half-stunned me with the force of the water
into the bargain.

The crowd screamed with laughter; the police seized me by all fours; the
fireman executed a final solo on my retreating person, and the next
thing I was aware of was being delivered at my own door from a four-
wheeled cab, with my interest in conflagrations completely extinguished.

My faith in the history of heroism began to be a trifle shaken after
this adventure.  However, I was committed to a course of gallant action;
and it were cowardice to lose heart after a rebuff or two.  I must at
any rate try my hand at a railway rescue before giving in.

In my studies I had only met with one successful case of extracting
individuals from between the wheels of locomotives in motion, and
therefore entered upon this branch of my experiments with considerable
doubt.  Nor did anything occur to remove that doubt.  I watched the
trains carefully for a month; and whenever I saw any one place himself
near the edge of the platform as a train came up, I made a point of
placing myself hard by.  But we never got beyond the platform; and,
indeed, the whole course of my experiments in this department resulted
in nothing beyond my one day being knocked down by the unexpected
opening of a carriage door; and on another occasion being nearly placed
under arrest for clutching a man's arm as the train came up, he said
with intent "to chuck him on the line," but as I told him, and
unsuccessfully tried to explain to him, because he seemed to me to be
about to be swept over by the engine.

It was on the whole a relief to me, when, in order to extricate myself
from the serious consequences of this last adventure, I was obliged to
promise never to do such a thing again.  That settled the locomotive
business.  As a man of honour I was forced to quit it, and cast about me
for a new road to glory.

Now, I think it argues considerably for my heroism that after the
unfortunate result of so many adventures I should still persist in
keeping up my struggle after Fame.  I might fairly have given her up
after the honest endeavours I had made to win her.  But, whatever others
might do, as long as a chance remained everything combined to keep
Hannibal Trotter at his post.

So, with not a little searching of heart, I turned my attention to mad
dogs.  I must confess that my heart did not go out towards them, and I
could have wished that that mark of heroism had been omitted by the
authorities.  But, on the contrary, it was insisted upon vehemently, and
there was no getting out of it.  So, like another Perseus, I choked down
my emotion and girded myself for the new fray.

I knew the authorities, as a rule, were silent as to any precautions
which their heroes may have taken for this particular service.  Still,
as they said nothing against it, I did the best I could by means of my
unaided genius.

I contrived a pair of secret zinc leggings to wear under my trousers.
They hurt me, it is true, and impeded my movements; still, I felt pretty
safe in them.  I also adopted the habit of wearing stout leather
driving-gloves on every occasion, besides concealing an effective life-
preserver about my person.  Nothing, in short, was wanted to complete my
equipment but the mad dog; and he never turned up.

One day I saw by the paper that there was one at large in Hackney, and
thither I repaired, in greaves and gauntlets, with my life-preserver in
my bosom.  But though I met many dogs, they were all of them sane.  Not
one of them foamed at the mouth or looked out of the corner of his eyes.

There was one collie certainly who appeared to me more excited than the
rest, and who by his proceedings seemed to menace the safety of a small
group of children who were taking their walks abroad with their nurse.
Not to be precipitate, I watched him for some time, to make quite sure I
was right.  Then, when one of the children uttered a scream, I felt my
hour was come.  So I drew my life-preserver and advanced boldly to the
rescue.  At the sight of me in this threatening attitude the children
and nurse all set up a scream together, and the dog, showing his teeth
and uttering a low growl, caught me by the fleshy part of my leg above
the zinc and held me there until his little masters and mistresses,
having recovered their wits and heard my scarcely articulate
explanations, called him off, and allowed me to go in peace--I might
almost say in pieces.

I was a good deal discouraged after this unfortunate affair, and might
have postponed indefinitely my further experiments, had not fortune
unexpectedly placed in my way what appeared to be an opportunity of
dealing with a burglar after the most approved fashion of heroism.  I
was on a visit to an uncle who lived in rather a grand house at
Bayswater, and kept up what people are wont to call a good deal of
style.  This "style" always rather depressed me, for it left me no
opening for distinguishing myself on the heroic side of my character,
and after a week I was beginning to get home-sick, when a curious
incident occurred to break the monotony of my visit.

I was put to sleep in a sort of dressing-room immediately over the
drawing-room, and here one night--or rather one dark winter morning--I
was suddenly awakened by the sound of voices in the room below.  I lay,
as people are apt to lie under such circumstances, stiff and still for
five minutes, listening with all my ears.  There came into my mind while
thus occupied all that the authorities had said in reference to
burglars; and when, after a lapse of five minutes, the voices again
became audible, I knew exactly what was expected of me.

I looked at my watch.  Five o'clock.  I was certain it could not be the
servants; besides, even through the floor I could tell the voices were
male.  I glided from my couch, and pulled on my nether garments, and
then warily set my door ajar.  I could see a light through the chink of
the door in the landing below, and heard a stealthy footstep.  So far,
so good.  I returned to my room, seized the poker and the water-bottle,
and then cautiously descended to the drawing-room door.

Here I once more listened carefully.  The keyhole was not eligible for
observation, but my sense of hearing was acute.  I heard--and this
rather surprised me--some one in the room whistle softly to himself,
then a gruff, typical burglar's voice said, "Now, then, with that there
sack!  Fetch 'im 'ere, or I'll warm yer!"

I heard the whistling cease, as something was dragged across the floor.
"Now, then," said the first voice, "wake up, Jemmy."  That was enough
for me.  I recognised in this last name a term inseparably connected
with burglary; and, not waiting longer, I flung open the door, and with
a shout, as much to keep up my own courage as to alarm the enemy, I
hurled first my poker, then my water-bottle, then myself in the
direction of the voices, and felt that at last I was a hero indeed.

I retain but a dim idea of what followed.  I recollect a sooty sack
being drawn over my head, just as a general rush of servants and male
members of the family, alarmed by the hideous noise of the water-bottle
and fire-irons, rushed into the room.  Then there was a pause, then a
babel of voice, and then, with a cuff on the outside of the sack next to
where my head was, the first burglar made a speech:--"I'm bust if I
sweeps yer chimbleys any more!  This 'ere lunertick was handy the death
of Jemmy with his missals.  Bust me!  I'll summons the lot of yer, see
if I don't."

I will not pursue this melancholy episode, and as a veil was drawn over
me at the time, I will also draw a veil over what immediately ensued.
My visit to my uncle's terminated that day, and a few weeks later I saw
in the paper that he had been fined £5--for an assault committed by one
of his household on two sweeps.

After this I had not the heart to proceed to the last desperate
expedient for acquiring immortal fame.  As long as my endeavours had
hurt only myself, it was not so bad, but when they recoiled on the heads
of my most important relatives I felt it time to draw the line.  The
bullet may not yet be cast which my heroic bosom is to receive in the
stead of royalty, but I shall be ready for it when it is.

Meanwhile I have been cultivating the quieter graces of life, where, if
I may not be a hero, I may at least do my duty without making a noise.
I am not sure, when all is said and done, whether the two things are not
sometimes pretty much the same after all.



CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN.

THE HEROES OF NEW SWISHFORD.  A SCHOOL EPISODE IN FOUR CHAPTERS.



Chapter I.  Consultation.

The autumn term at Swishford School was more than half over, and boys
were waking up to the hope that after all the Christmas holidays, which
seemed such a way off six weeks ago, might yet arrive during their
lifetime.  It was already rumoured that Blunt, the captain, had been
invited to spend Christmas at Walkenshaw's, the mathematical Dux's, and
every one knew how well Miss Walkenshaw and Blunt had "hit it" the last
prize day, and prophecies were rife accordingly.  More than that,
Shanks, of the Fifth, had whispered in the ear of one or two bosom
friends, and thus into the ear of all Swishford, that he was going into
"swallows" this winter, and he had got down a book from town with
instructions for self-measurement, and was mysteriously closeted in his
own study every other evening with a tape.  Other boys were beginning to
"sit up" a little in the prospect of the coming examination, and
generally there was an air of expectation about the place which was
prophetic of the coming event.

On the afternoon, however, on which my story opens, two boys as they
walked arm-in-arm along the cliffs towards Raveling, appeared to be
engrossed in consultation, which, to judge by their serious faces, had
nothing to do with Christmas.  Let me introduce them to the reader.  The
taller of the two is a fine, sturdy, square-shouldered youth of fifteen
or thereabouts, whose name in a certain section of Swishford is a
household word.  He is Bowler, the cock of the Fourth, who in the
football match against Raveling a fortnight ago picked up the ball at
half-back and ran clean through the enemy's ranks and got a touch-down,
which Blunt himself acknowledged was as pretty a piece of running as he
had seen in his time.  Ever since then Bowler has been the idol of the
lower school.

His companion is a more delicate-looking boy, of about the same age,
with a cheery face, and by no means unpleasant to look at.  He is
Gayford, as great a favourite in his way as Bowler, a boy whom nobody
dislikes, and whom not a few, especially Bowler, like very much.

These are the two who walked that afternoon towards Raveling.

"Are you sure the fellow in the book doesn't make it all up?" said
Bowler dubiously.

"Not a bit of it," replied his companion.  "My uncle's a captain, you
know, and he says there are hundreds of islands like it, the jolliest
places you ever saw, any amount of food, no wild animals, splendid
weather all the year round, magnificent mountains and valleys and woods
and bays, gorgeous fishing and hunting, oceans of fruit trees,
everything a fellow could wish for, and not a soul on one of them."

"Rum," said Bowler reflectively; "seems rather a waste of jolly islands
that."

"Yes; but the thing is they're hundreds of miles away from inhabited
islands, so no one ever sees them."

"Except your uncle.  I wonder he wasn't tempted to get out and take
possession of one."

"That's just exactly what he said he was tempted to do," replied
Gayford, stopping short excitedly.  "He said very little would have
tempted him to do it, Bowler."

"Oh!" was Bowler's only reply.

"And I tell you another thing," continued Gayford, "he gave me an old
chart with the identical island he saw marked on it, and I've got it in
my box, my boy."

"Have you, though?" said Bowler.  "I'd like to have a look at it."

That evening the two boys held a solemn consultation in their study over
Captain Gayford's chart, and Gayford triumphantly pointed out the little
island to his friend.

"There he is," said he; "he doesn't look a big one there, but he's eight
or ten miles across, my uncle says."

"That seems a fair size--but, I say," said Bowler, "how about getting
there?  How could any one find it out?"

Gayford laughed.

"You're coming round, then," said he; "why, you old noodle, you couldn't
possibly miss it.  Do you see that town called Sinnamary (what a name,
eh?) on the coast of South Africa?  Well, don't you see the island's
dead north from there as straight as ever you can go?  All you want is a
compass and a southerly breeze--and there you are, my boy."

"But what about currents and all that?" queried Bowler, who knew a
little physical geography.  "Doesn't the Gulf Stream hang about
somewhere there?"

"Very likely," said Gayford; "all the better for us too; for I fancy the
island is on it, so if we once _get_ into it we're bound to turn up
right."

"Anyhow," said Bowler, who was not quite convinced, "I suppose one could
easily get all that sort of thing up."

"Oh, of course.  But, I say, old man, what do you say?"

"Well," said Bowler, digging his hands into his pockets and taking
another survey of the chart, "I'm rather game, do you know!"

"Hurrah!" said Gayford.  "I know we shall be all right if we get you."

"Who do you mean by we?" asked Bowler.

"Ah, that's another point.  I haven't mentioned it to any one yet; but
we should want about half a dozen fellows, you know."

"Don't have Burton," said Bowler.

"Rather not; nor Wragg--but what do you say to Wallas?"

"He's muffed quarter-back rather this term, but I daresay he might do
for one."

"Well then, what about Braintree?"

"Too big a swell," said Bowler.

"But he's got a rifle at home."

"Oh, ah! all serene.  Stick him down."

"What do you say to having them in, and talking it over before we ask
any one else?"

This prudent proposition was agreed to, an extra spoonful of tea was put
in the pot, and Gayford went out and conducted his guests in personally.

"The fact is," said Gayford, after having delicately disclosed the
scheme on hand, and roused his hearers to a pitch of uncomfortable
curiosity, "the fact is, Bowler and I thought you two fellows might like
to join us."

"You'll have to wait till the spring," said Wallas, a somewhat dismal-
looking specimen of humanity.  "I've got my Oxford local in January."

"Oh, of course, we shouldn't start till after that," said Gayford, ready
to smooth away all obstacles.

"Warthah hot, won't it be?" said Braintree, looking at the map.

"No, I believe not," said Gayford; "there's something about the Gulf
Stream, you know, keeps it fresh."

"Wum idea calling an island fwesh," said Braintree, giggling.  "It'll be
a fresh start for it when we take possession of it, anyhow," said
Bowler.  "Of course you'll bring your rifle, Braintree?"

"Warthah," replied Braintree, "in case of niggers or wobbers."

"Hope we shan't quarrel when we get out," said Wallas.  "That's the way
these things generally end."

"Bosh!" said Bowler; "there's no chance of that--just like you, throwing
cold water on everything.  Wallas."

"If you call what I say bosh," said Wallas warmly, "it's a pity you
asked me to join you."

It took some time to get over this little breeze and restore the party
to good humour.  This was, however, accomplished in time, and the
consultation continued.

"We ought to have three more fellows, at least," said Bowler.  "I tell
you what, each of you pick one.  Who do you say, Gav?"

"Well, I fancy young Wester might do," said Gayford.

"Warthah a pwig, isn't he?" suggested Braintree.

"He is a little," replied Gayford; "but he's very obliging, and fags
rather well."

"All serene.  Now then, Wallas, who's your man?" asked Bowler.

"Tubbs," said Wallas.  Tubbs was one of the most hopeless louts at
Swishford.

Gayford gave a low whistle; but he was too anxious to preserve the
harmony of the party to offer any objection.

"Now you, Braintree?"

"I say, Cwashford.  Jolly fellow, and knows French, too."

"Ah, but he is such a cad," said Bowler imploringly.

"Couldn't you think of somebody else, Braintree?" asked Gayford.

"Oh, have Cwashford.  He's a wewy decent fellah.  I like Cwashford, you
know."

"Well, there's this to be said," remarked Bowler, finding there was no
getting out of it, "it may be rather a good thing to have some one to
keep in order; it will give us something to do."

"Yes, I expect you'll want it," said Wallas.  "My opinion is it will be
jolly slow out there."

"Not a bit of it.  We shall have to go out every day and shoot our
game--"

"With my wifle," put in Braintree.

"And then there'll be a log hut to build and the whole place to explore,
and lots of bathing and boating."

"And no lessons to do at night."

"And we can get up concerts and penny readings, you know, for the winter
evenings."

"And needn't get up till half-past nine in the morning."

And so they went on, till gradually the prospect became so delightful
that even Wallas warmed up to it and expressed a wish that they could
start at once.

It was, however, decided that they could not manage it this term, as
they would have to spend Christmas at home and provide themselves with
necessaries for their journey.  As to the means of getting out as far as
Sinnamary, at any rate, they had no anxiety on that score, for Captain
Gayford, when he once heard the object of their expedition, would be
sure to take them on one of his ships, and possibly afford them much
valuable information as to their further route into the bargain.

Before the council broke up one solemn and momentous step was taken.

"What shall we call our island?" asked Bowler dramatically, placing his
finger on the map and looking round on his fellow-adventurers.

There was a pause, and for a moment the founders of the new empire were
wrapped in silent thought.  At last Gayford said--

"I know--just the thing."

"What?  What?  What?" inquired three voices.

"New Swishford."

It is hardly needful to add that the name was there and then duly
appended to the island on the chart in red ink, which done, the company
separated to sleep, and heard all night long in their dreams the crack
of Braintree's "wifle" echoing among the waving woods and fertile
valleys of New Swishford.



Chapter II.  Preparation.

The week following the important consultation described in the last
chapter was one of serious excitement to at least seven boys at
Swishford.

Other fellows could not make out what was the matter, and as long as
Bowler did not shirk the football match, and Gayford stuck up as usual
for his house, they did not particularly care.  It was certainly a
novelty to see Braintree diligently reading a book in his odd moments,
but when it transpired that the book was _Wobinson Cwusoe_, that wonder
ceased.  And even the surprise of seeing Crashford the lion lying down,
so to speak, with Tubbs the lamb, wore away in time, and the
conspirators were, on the whole, left undisturbed by Swishford to
develop their plans for the eventful emigration of the coming spring.

The three last elected members of the band had fallen in promptly with
the scheme, and were not a little elated at the honour conferred upon
them.  Crashford became quite mellow towards his old enemy Gayford, and
actually paid back Bowler a half-crown which he had borrowed three terms
ago.  Tubbs, though less demonstrative, was equally delighted, and upset
the inkpot over the chart, in his eagerness to exhibit to Wester their
new home.  [It was hardly worth noticing that Tubbs put his finger not
on New Swishford at all, but into the centre of Peru, which he said he
believed was one of the healthiest countries in all Asia.] Wester, who
always made a point of agreeing with the majority, found no difficulty
in rejoicing, wherever the place might be, and only wished they had not
to wait so long as next spring.

"Why should we wait till then?" asked Crashford.

"Oh, it's better weather," said Gayford; "besides, Wallas is in for his
Oxford local."

"Oh, that doesn't matter tremendously," said Wallas, who was beginning
to think the world might after all go on if he did not pass.

"We can give him an exam, on the ship going out," said Bowler, "a
Swishford local exam., you know, and offer a slice of the island if he
passes."

"It strikes me," said Braintree, "a square mile of tewwitowy is warthah
a wum pwize for a chap."

"But, I say," said Wester, "isn't our winter the same as their summer?
so if we start now, we shall just get out in the warm weather."

"Never thought about that," said Bowler; "what do you say, Gay?"

"I know my uncle generally likes those parts not in the warm weather,"
said Gayford.  "But then, he's been at sea all his life."

"By the way, when does his ship start?" inquired Wallas; "something
depends on that, doesn't it?"

"So it does," said Gayford.  "I forgot that.  He got home a fortnight
ago, and he gets six weeks at home.  That'll bring it to the end of
November."

"Just the very ticket; we must start then, I say."

"But how about my wifle if we don't go home at Cwistmas?" asked
Braintree.

"Oh, bother!  Couldn't you get it sent up somehow, or couldn't you fetch
it next Monday?--that's the term holiday, you know."

"Hold hard," said Bowler, "I've got another plan for Monday.  You know
we ought to get our hands in a bit before we start, and try and find out
what we really want and all that sort of thing.  Now, my idea is for us
to get the coastguard's boat for the day at Sound Bay (you know there's
never any one there to look after it), and sail across to Long Stork
Island, and knock about there for the day, just to see how we get on.
Of course, we shall have to come back before six; but we must make
believe we've landed there for good, and see how we manage.  And, of
course, if we get on there, we're bound to get on at New Swishford, for
it's a far jollier place than the Long Stork."

Bowler's proposition was hailed with acclamation.  His hearers were just
in the humour to put their enthusiasm to the test, and the notion of a
picnic on the Long Stork as a sort of full-dress rehearsal of the
capture of New Swishford suited them exactly.

They proceeded immediately to discuss ways and means, and found that by
putting their pocket-moneys together they could raise the very
respectable sum of forty-one shillings.  Reserving the odd shilling for
the possible contingency of having to "square" a coastguard for the use
of the boat, they had two pounds to devote to the purchase of stores,
weapons, and other necessaries; and, as Gayford pointed out, of course
anything they got that wasn't eatable would come in for New Swishford.

A sub-committee, consisting of Bowler, Braintree and Wester, was
appointed to expend the funds of the adventurers to the best advantage,
and meanwhile each member was asked to report what else he could
contribute in the way of stores to the general need.  Before the end of
the week the list was handed in, and as the documents might some day be
of immense value to the future historian of New Swishford, I quote them
here.

_Bowler_.--A waterproof, a hat-box, a pair of cricket bails, and a fold-
up chair.

_Gayford_.--The chart, a compass, jam-pots for baling out boats, an
eight-blade knife, a hammer and tacks, and a chessboard.

_Braintree_.--The wifle (pwaps), _Wobinson Cwusoe_, gloves, and
umbwellah.

_Tubbs_.--A crib to Sallust (sorry that's all I've got).

_Crashford_.--Clay pipe, pack of cards, a corkscrew, a strap, and _Hal
Hiccup the Boy Demon_.

_Wester_.--Three tumblers, bottle of ginger-beer, and a bat.

_Wallas_.--A saucepan and two eggs, a rope, and Young's _Night
Thoughts_.

At the same time the sub-committee reported the purchase of the
following stores:--

  Fourteen tins of potted shrimps, 14 shillings;
  Ditto ditto peaches, 14 shillings;
  Ditto bottles of lemonade, 3 shillings 6 pence;
  (1 penny each allowed on returned bottles.)
  Four of Stodge's spice-cakes, 4 shillings;
  A fishing-rod, 2 shillings 6 pence;
  Flies for ditto, 1 shilling;
  One kettle, 6 pence;
  One crumb-brush, 6 pence;
  Total, 2 pounds.

This admirable selection of stores met with universal approval.  Indeed,
as regards the first four items, every one so highly approved that they
wanted to take every man his share for safe custody to his own study.
It was, however, thought undesirable to put them to this trouble, and
the sub-committee were directed to continue in charge of these and the
other voluntary contributions until the eventful day.

That was not long in coming round, though to the anxious voyagers it
seemed long enough.  The interval was spent in deep deliberation and
solemn preparation.  Braintree had his boots most carefully blacked, and
Crashford practised boxing all Saturday afternoon with Rubble of the
Fifth; Bowler and Gayford strolled casually round to Sound Bay, to see
that the boat was safe in its usual place, and prospected the distant
dim outline of the Long Stork from the cliffs.  Tubbs, feeling he must
do something to contribute to the success of the undertaking, wrote a
long letter home, which he forgot to post, asking the forgiveness of his
second sister, and adding, "Address for Monday, Long Stork Island."
Wallas amused himself by reading over the directions for restoring life
to the apparently drowned, and Wester tidied up Bowler's study and
helped him make up the stores into seven equal brown-paper packages,
writing the name of the owner of each on the outside.

This done, the preparations were pronounced as complete as they could be
till Monday dawned.

The town holiday was an absolutely free day for the Swishford boys.
There was no call-over in the morning, and, indeed, until the evening at
eight o'clock they were their own masters.

Most of the boys availed themselves of their liberty by lying in bed an
hour later than usual on the November morning, a practice which greatly
favoured our heroes in their design of escaping a little before dawn.

Bowler was the first up, and went round to wake the rest.

"Howwid gwind," said Braintree, sitting up for a moment in bed and
rubbing his eyes, and then subsiding again under the clothes.  "Needn't
get up yet, Bowler, it's long before cockcrow."

"It's just on six o'clock, I tell you, and it'll spoil it all if we
don't get away by a quarter past.  Do get up, there's a good fellow."

"Howwid waw morning," groaned Braintree.  "I'd warthah--oh, vewy well,
I'll get up."

And with a great effort he struggled out of bed and began to array
himself.  Bowler had a similar task with each of the other adventurers,
and any leader less sanguine or eager might have felt his ardour damped
by the evident want of alacrity on the part of his confederates to
respond to the call to action.

However, once up, the spirits of the party rose, and they assembled in
good-humour in Bowler's study, where by the dim light of a candle the
seven brown-paper parcels were solemnly doled out, and a final review of
the preparations made.

A few more articles, such as a whistle, a bottle of hair-oil
(contributed by Braintree), a shut-up inkpot and pen from Wester, and a
guide to the environs of Tunbridge Wells from Tubbs, were thrown into
the common lot at the last moment, and stuffed into the pockets of the
ulsters in which the boys had armed themselves against a rainy day.

All this being done, Bowler gave the order to march, which the party
obeyed by taking off their boots and crawling downstairs on tiptoe to
the front door.  As silently as possible the great lock was turned and
the bolts drawn, and next moment the adventurers, with their boots in
one hand and their brown-paper parcels in the other, stood under the
stars.

"Now stick your boots on sharp and step out," said Bowler.  The order
was promptly obeyed, and the dim gables of Swishford soon vanished
behind them as they sped along the cliffs towards Sound Bay.

It was a good three miles, and in their ulsters, and weighted with their
brown-paper parcels, the boys made slow progress.  It was already dawn
when, rather fagged and not quite sure how they were enjoying it, they
reached the top of the path which led down to Sound Bay.  The near
approach to their journey's end revived them, and they stumbled down the
stony path cheerily but cautiously, until at last they had the
satisfaction of seeing the boat bobbing up and down in the little
natural harbour close among the rocks.

The wily Bowler and Gayford had marked where the oars and sail were
kept, and fetched them in triumph from their hiding-place.  The seven
brown-paper parcels were solemnly embarked and stowed away under the
seats, and then one by one the heroes of New Swishford stepped on board,
the painter was thrown loose, silent adieux were waved to the land of
their birth, and their gallant boat, nimbly propelled by Gayford and the
boat-hook, threaded its way through the rocks and made for the boundless
ocean.



Chapter III.  Consternation.

The "Eliza"--that was the name of the coastguard's boat on which our
heroes had embarked--was a middling-sized sea-going rowing boat, which,
if it was just big enough by a little judicious packing to hold the
seven voyagers, could certainly not have accommodated more.

While Gayford, with the dexterity of an experienced bargee, shoved the
boat along out of the creek, Bowler took upon himself the care of
trimming the "ship," and stowing away all the baggage.

"As soon as we get out," said he, "we'd better lie down on the floor, in
case the coastguards see us."

"Not much chance of that," replied Gayford.  "They never get up till
eight, and by that time we shall be halfway across."

"Suppose they spot us and give chase?" said Wallas.  "What a row we
shall get into!"

"They've not got a boat, I tell you, and I don't believe there's one
they can get either," said Bowler.

"But they're sure to be on the look-out for us when we get back to-
night."

"Let them.  It'll be dark at six, and we can land in Rocket Bay, you
know, and dodge them that way."

Bowler was evidently so well up in the arrangements, and had made such a
careful study of all the pros and cons of the venture, that every one
felt satisfied, and even the somewhat doubtful Wallas desisted from
throwing more cold water on the expedition.

It was a raw morning with a little bit of a fog, and a cool breeze right
off the land.  This last point, however, gave great satisfaction to the
leaders of the party.  Once out in the open they would be able to hoist
sail, and without the exertion of rowing make a straight track for the
Long Stork--much indeed as would be the case when, with a southerly wind
at their backs, they would before long plough the ocean from Sinnamary
to New Swishford.

The fog also was decidedly in their favour, for it would help to screen
them from the observation of any wakeful and inquisitive coastguard.  In
fact, the unusual combination of wind and fog seemed like a special sign
of good omen to their adventure.

"Hope it's not wough outside," said Braintree, as the boat, now nearly
out of the creek, began to dance a little at the prospect of meeting the
open sea.

"Can't be rough with the wind off the land, you duffer," said Crashford.

"Can't it, though?" said Wester, as a wave lifted the prow of the boat
and nearly sent it back on the rocks.

"I call that vewy wough," said Braintree, looking and feeling a little
uncomfortable.

"Oh, it's only the ground swell," said Gayford; "we shall soon get out
of that.  Here, Bowler, old man, take an oar with Tubbs, and keep way on
while I stick up the sail.  Look alive!"

With some difficulty the oars were got out, and Tubbs made to comprehend
what was expected of him.  But comprehending was one thing with Tubbs,
and doing was another thing.  Just as he settled down to his oar,
another wave lifted the boat and Tubbs with it, who clung wildly to the
seat with both hands, leaving his oar to its fate.  Luckily, Crashford
was near enough to make a grab at it before it went, or the beginning of
the expedition might have been marked by a serious catastrophe.

The unhappy Tubbs having been shunted, Crashford took his place, and
with Bowler kept the boat's head steady till Gayford hauled up the sail,
and the "Eliza" began of her own accord to fly through the water.

At the sight of the majestic sail swelling with the wind, and still more
on perceiving a decided improvement in the pitching of the boat, the
spirits of the party rose again, and Braintree actually began to hum
"Wule Bwitannia."

The cliffs of Raveling loomed dimly out behind them, and ahead they
could just discern the faintest outline of the land of their adoption.

"Upon my word," said Bowler, "this is jolly.  It's just like the real
New Swishford, isn't it, you fellows?"

"Warthah," said Braintree, "except my wifle to let fly at the seagulls
with."

"But," said Wallas, "if the wind's off the land this side, it will be
off the sea when we get over there, so I suppose it'll get rougher and
rougher the farther out we get?"

This ominous suggestion had the effect of immediately damping the
spirits of half the party, and Bowler and Gayford found it difficult to
restore confidence in the much-abused ocean.  The ocean, however, went
some way to restore confidence in itself.  For though it still continued
restless enough to keep Braintree and Tubbs in a state of suspended
enjoyment in the bows, it showed no signs of getting worse as it went
on.

Bowler was jubilant.  With his hand on the rudder and his eye on the
compass, he kept the boat's course like a line, and fancied himself
heading due north from Sinnamary.  Gayford, with the sheet in his hand,
and a careful watch on the sail, could easily delude himself into
fancying the coast-line of the Long Stork was the veritable shore of New
Swishford.

"Isn't it prime, old man," said he, "and won't it be primer still when
the real time comes?  I never guessed it would be so easy.  Not a
thing's gone wrong."

"No; and think of the lark of landing and collaring the island, too.  I
say, who does the Long Stork belong to?"

"Don't know--the Long Storks, I guess.  They're the only inhabitants I
ever heard of."

"Well, I'm sorry for them.  But, I say, Gayford, it's just as well we
have got some grub on board, for there's not much sign of forests and
game, and all that sort of thing here."

Not much indeed!  Long Stork Island was a barren rock about a mile long
and half a mile wide, with a few scraggy patches of grass on its
uninviting slope.  No living creatures but the wild sea-birds patronised
it in the winter, when the waves lashed over the island and sent their
salt spray from one end to the other.  Even they seemed to avoid it.
But beggars cannot be choosers, and as the Long Stork was the only
island of our heroes' acquaintance within reach, they had to take it as
it was and make the best of it.

A decided sea was running on the landward side of the island as they
approached it, and even such inexperienced navigators as Bowler and
Gayford could see that there would be some difficulty about effecting a
quiet landing.

"Better go round the other side," said Gayford; "it'll be quiet enough
there out of the wind."

So the boat's nose was put out to make a circuit of the Long Stork.

"Look out, I say!" said, or rather groaned Braintree from the bows.
"Don't make the boat woll.  Why can't you wun her stwait in the way
you--?"

His further observations were cut short, and during the rest of the time
that the "Eliza" was rounding the stormy cape he and Tubbs and Crashford
were in a decidedly pensive mood.  At last the circumnavigation was
accomplished, and in tranquil water the boat cruised along under the
sheltered shore of the island.  The sail was lowered, oars were put out,
the invalids sat up, and Bowler, standing up in the bows, scanned the
coast for a likely landing-place.

He had not to search long.  A little natural pier of rock ran out
invitingly, alongside which the boat was slowly and triumphantly
brought.

"Now, you fellows," said Crashford, "here goes for first on shore.  Out
of the way, Tubby.  Hurrah for New Swishford!"  And he leapt on shore,
half capsizing the boat as he did so.

Bowler found his authority unequal to the task of controlling the
enthusiasm of his fellow-emigrants, and he had to let them land as they
pleased, while he and Gayford grimly held the boat alongside.

When all but Tubbs were ashore, their patience could hold out no longer.
They followed the general rush, Bowler crying out to Tubbs as he sprang
ashore--

"See and make her fast, Tubbs, and land the grub, will you?  We'll be
back directly."  And off he scampered with the rest, to join in the
ceremony of capturing the island.

Now Tubbs was not the best man who could have been chosen to execute so
important a trust as that laid upon him; and Bowler, had he been rather
less excited at the moment, would have thought twice before he left him
to perform it.  In the first place, Tubbs could find no place to tie the
boat up to, and as long as he sat in the boat and held on to the rock it
was evident he could not land the grub.  So he was in a dilemma.  He did
his best; he relaxed his hold for a moment and made a frantic grab at
one of the brown-paper parcels.  But it almost cost him his moorings,
for the boat, taking advantage of its liberty, began to slide away out
to sea, and it was all Tubbs could do to catch hold of the rock again in
time to stop it.  This would not do, it was clear.  He pulled the boat
along to its old position, and throwing the parcel ashore, meditated.
He must wait till one of the others came to help him.  Poor Tubbs!  It
was hard lines to see the rest of the party scrambling triumphantly up
the hill, and find himself left here like a sort of animated anchor.
Happy thought!  How came he never to have thought of the anchor before?
There it was in the bottom of the boat.  It would be the simplest thing
to jump ashore with it and fix it somewhere in the rocks where it would
hold.  No sooner was the brilliant project conceived than it was
executed.  Seizing the anchor in his hands, Tubbs stepped gaily ashore
and triumphantly wedged one tooth of it into a crevice of the rock,
where it would hold firm enough to keep a man-of-war in its place.  He
watched with a pleasant smile the "Eliza" as she drifted slowly out on
the rope, enjoying the prospect of seeing her presently tug at the
anchor, and then give up the attempt to get free and resign herself to
her fate.

It was a longer coil of rope than he had imagined.  The boat was twenty
yards away at least, and still paying out.  By the way, where was the
rope?  With a cry of horror Tubbs sprang to the anchor and began hauling
in.  The rope came in gaily, but not the "Eliza."  She danced merrily
cut to sea in a straight line for the North Pole, with the six brown-
paper parcels on board, leaving her poor custodian to console himself as
best he could with a loose end of rope, which had never been fastened to
its ring.

What was he to do?  After taking a few minutes to collect his ideas, by
which time the boat was a hundred yards on its solitary voyage, it
occurred to him he had better inform the others of what had happened.
So he started in rather a low state of mind in pursuit of them.  It was
a long time before he came upon them, perched in a group on the highest
point of the island, and singing "Rule Britannia" in a lusty chorus
which sent the scared seagulls flying to right and left.

"Hullo, Tubby, old man, here we are!  Got the grub safe ashore?  Not
been bagging any of the peaches, eh?  You've been long enough."

Tubbs replied by pointing mysteriously to a little speck out at sea.

"What's the row?  What is it?" asked Gayford.

"You wouldn't guess what that little thing is," said Tubbs.

"What is it?  Can't you speak?"

"Well, if you must know, it's our boat.  The anchor wasn't tied, you
know!"

"The boat!  You great booby!" cried one and all, springing to their feet
and rushing in the direction of the pier, upsetting and trampling over
the unhappy Tubbs as they did so.

"What on earth shall we do?" gasped Gayford, as he ran by Bowler's side.

"We must swim for it," said Bowler.  "It's our only chance."

"Can't do it.  She's half a mile out."

"It's all up with us if we can't get her!" groaned Bowler.

They reached the landing-stage, and there, sure enough, danced the
"Eliza" half a mile out at sea.

"I'll try it," said Bowler, flinging off his coat.

"What, to swim?  You'll do nothing of the sort," said Gayford, seizing
his friend by main force.

"I tell you it's our only chance," cried Bowler.  "Let go, do you hear?"

"No, I won't, old man.  We must make the best of it.  It'll be more like
New Swishford than ever now."

This last argument had more effect with Bowler than any other, and he
slowly put on his coat.

"I vote we souse that idiot, Tubbs, till he's black in the face," said
Crashford viciously.

"What's the use of that?" asked Bowler.  "The fact is, you fellows,"
said he, "we're regularly in for it now, and the sooner we make up our
minds what we shall do the better."

"Let's make a waft," said Braintree, mindful of his _Wobinson Cwusoe_.

"Where's your wood?" asked Wallas.

"Let's hoist a signal, anyhow," said Wester.

"No one to see it if you do," said Wallas.

"Let's have some grub," said Crashford.

This last suggestion met with general approval.  They had had no
breakfast to speak of, and after their voyage and excitement hunger was
beginning to assert itself.  The one brown-paper parcel rescued from the
"Eliza" was forthwith handed in and pronounced common property.  It
happened to be the parcel bearing Tubbs's name, and contained, besides a
seventh part of the provisions, Tubbs's voluntary contributions to the
general store--namely, the crib to Sallust, and the guide to the
environs of Tunbridge Wells.  These, it was proposed and seconded,
should be handed over to the owner as his share of the good things
contained in the parcel, but Bowler and Gayford interfered on his
behalf; and after having been reprimanded with a severity that took away
his appetite, he was allowed to partake of a portion of potted shrimp
and a potted peach, together with a small slice of cake.  Bowler groaned
to see what a hole even this frugal repast made in the provisions, and
consulted Gayford in an undertone on the possibility of slaying a
seagull and the merits of raw poultry generally.

Rather dolefully the provisions were packed up and deposited in a ledge
in the rocks, while the party proceeded to wander about the island in
search of board and lodging.  The charms of Long Stork Island had fallen
off greatly in the short interval, and the sea-fog, which was beginning
to wrap it round and hide the mainland from view, seemed like a wet
blanket both on the spirits and persons of the adventurers.

After much dreary search a hollow was found on the hill-side, which by
fastening together three or four ulsters might be roofed over
sufficiently well to keep out the rain or cold if required.  As to food,
the island provided absolutely nothing except the chance of raw poultry
already mentioned and a few shell-fish on the rocks.

The day wore on, and the fog turned to drizzle and the drizzle to rain.
They held out against it as long as they could, but had to take shelter
at last, and herd together in their extemporised cabin.

Here a painful discussion ensued, "I hope you're satisfied now!" growled
Wallas.  "This is mess enough to please even you, Bowler."

"What do you mean?" retorted Gayford; "a lot you've done for the public
good.  There are plenty of seagulls about without you to croak, too."

"I wish my umbwellah hadn't gone out to sea," observed Braintree,
shivering.

"By the way," said Crashford, "didn't I see it lying on the rocks.  I'll
just run and see," and off he started.

"When shall we ever get away?" asked Wester.  "We may get starved here."

"They're sure to see us or find us out in a day or two," said Bowler.

"A day or two!" exclaimed Wallas; "do you really mean we've got to stay
here without food or shelter a day or two?  I wish your New Swishford
was in the middle of the sea."

"So it is," dryly observed Bowler.

"Fine fools you've made of us with your humbug and child's play,"
growled the other.

"_You_ don't want much making," retorted Bowler; "and if you want to
talk any more, you can talk to some one else."

Wallas accepted the invitation, and growled all round till everybody was
sick of him.

After a long absence Crashford returned without the umbrella.

"I couldn't find it," said he, sitting down.  "It's gone."

"But you found the peaches, you blackguard!" said Bowler, springing up
and pointing to some juicy remains still clinging to the delinquent's
coat.  And in his righteous indignation he dealt the traitor a blow
which sent him out of the tent.

A fight ensued there and then between Bowler and Crashford, unhappily,
to the disadvantage of the former, who was no match for the practised
hand opposed to him.  The company interposed after a few rounds, and
none too soon for the damaged though still lion-hearted Bowler.

Crashford profited nothing by his victory, for it was decided
unanimously to exclude him from the tent till he chose to apologise for
his treachery; and meanwhile the remains of the slender provisions were
taken into safe custody out of his reach.

The day wore on, and the rain fell heavier and heavier upon the ulster-
roof over their heads.  The wind whistled drearily above them, and the
mainland was entirely lost to sight.  As far as they were concerned they
might be in the real New Swishford, a thousand miles from the nearest
land.

They huddled together silently, no one caring much to speak.  Only
Braintree broke the monotony by shivering audibly, and the footsteps of
Crashford, as he paced up and down outside to keep warm, added a dreary
variety to the silence.

The afternoon drew on, and at last Bowler said--

"Better let the beggar in."

"Hadn't we better all turn out and see what's to be done?" said Gayford.
"We shall only come to grief here.  The grub won't hold out for another
meal, and then it'll be something more than a joke."

"Come on, then, you fellows," said Bowler.  And the roof was hauled
down, and the party turned dismally out once more to seek their fortune.



Chapter IV.  Consolation.

Our heroes, who in all their anticipations had never calculated on
anything but fine weather and unlimited rations and congenial
occupation, began to entertain serious doubts as to the joys of founding
an empire, as they trailed dreadily along in the rain after Bowler and
Gayford.  The weaker of the party had no spirit to suggest anything
themselves, or to question what their leaders suggested; so they
followed doggedly where they were led, neither knowing nor caring
whither.

With Bowler and Gayford it was otherwise.  They felt rather ashamed of
themselves for having lost their heads earlier in the day and resolved
now to atone for it in the only way they could.  They put a brave face
on the situation, and tried to impart their courage to their followers.

"I tell you what," said Bowler cheerily, as the seven stood again on the
rocks at the water's edge; "it wants a good hour of dark, and the least
thing we can do is to spend the daylight in looking for some proper
place of shelter and something to eat, if we can find it.  Suppose I and
Tubbs and Braintree start to walk round this way, and you, Gayford, take
the rest round the other way.  If any of us find anything, we'll stop
till the other party come up.  I've got my whistle, so we'll be sure to
hear one another."

It could do no harm, and it might do good, so the party tacitly fell in
with the suggestion, and divided itself accordingly.  Even Crashford was
wise enough to feel he could gain nothing by sulking, and returned to
his allegiance without demur.

"Can't we have something to eat before we start?" said Wallas.

"My dear fellow," replied Gayford, "I wish we could, but then we shall
have nothing left for to-morrow."

Strange to say, Wallas disputed the matter no further, and turned with
his companions to start on their tour of discovery.

Bowler kept whistling cheerily, and Gayford shouted in reply till the
two parties were out of earshot.  Then each walked on in silence,
eagerly scanning sea and shore in search of hope.  For Bowler's party
there seemed very little prospect of anything turning up, for their way
lay across bare ledges of rock, with perhaps a pool to wade, or a little
cape to scramble across, but never a sign of food or shelter.  Braintree
did indeed announce that in one place he saw a "cwab" disappear into a
hole, but the chances of satisfaction from that source were too remote
to be pursued.

How they longed to be back under the roof of old Swishford, and to hear
the cheery bell summoning the boys to tea, and how gratefully now would
they have welcomed the wholesome plenty of that often abused meal!
Alas! there were no cups of tea, or eggs, or bread-and-butter going on
the Long Stork.

"Of course," said Bowler, "we could never be _quite_ stuck up for grub
as long as there's seaweed about, and if the rain goes on like this
there'll be plenty of water too."

"You're wight there," said Braintree; "but seaweed and wain-water is
warthah a spare diet."

"Anyhow," said Bowler, "we have got enough of the shrimps and peaches
left for a good breakfast to-morrow; that's one comfort."

And they trudged on in that glorious prospect.

For an hour they toiled along the rocky shore until the daylight almost
suddenly vanished, and the gloom of a damp November night fell upon
them.  What was the use of exploring further?  Even Bowler lost heart as
he stumbled about in the dusk, and heard Braintree shivering and
chattering with cold beside him, and Tubbs's scarcely suppressed whimper
of misery.

"Better get back to the rest as soon as we can," said he, taking out his
whistle and blowing it again.

They listened, but no answer came, only the shriek of the gulls and the
steady splash of the rain on the rocks.

"Never mind, we can't be long before we get round to them," said Bowler;
"perhaps they've found a place, you know."

For another half-hour they toiled on, Bowler blowing his whistle every
few minutes, but always without response.

"Where can they be?  We're almost round at the place we started from,
surely," said Bowler, "and--hullo, look out there!"

They had reached a sudden break in the coast about twenty yards across,
with rocks on each side which dropped almost precipitously into the
water, forming a serious bar to further progress.

They must either scramble down and wade or swim across, or else turn
inland and make a long detour round the head of the chasm.

Bowler made a careful inspection of the rocks, and then said--

"I think we could do it; what do you say?  If we went round we might
miss the others."

"All wight," said Braintree, blowing his hands; "I'm game, so's Tubbs."

Tubbs said nothing, but stood by miserably, ready to follow Bowler's
lead.

"I'll go down first," said the latter.  "Mind how you come, the rocks
are slippery."

He lowered himself cautiously down the steep rock, finding just enough
to cling on to with his hands, while he felt his way down with his feet.
He got to the bottom safely, and found firm footing in a ledge of rock
close to the water's edge.

"Now, then," shouted he, "down you come, Braintree."

Braintree obeyed, and managed with difficulty to reach the ledge.  Then
Tubbs attempted.  But he, poor fellow, clumsy at all times, and now
utterly unnerved by the miseries of the day, was not man enough for the
venture, and, after one feeble effort, begged to be allowed to stay
where he was.

"Nonsense!" cried Bowler; "come on, old man, we'll help you down all
right."

So Tubbs tried again.  Had not the situation been so perilous, the
appearance he presented as he clung wildly on to the rock with his
hands, and kicked still more wildly with his feet, would have been
ludicrous.  But it was no time for joking.  The two at the bottom
piloted his feet as well as they could, and encouraged him in his
downward career.  But before they could reach him he slipped, and with a
howl fell backward into the sea.

In a moment Bowler, dressed as he was, was in beside him, holding him up
and striking out to where Braintree, with outstretched hand, waited to
help them in.  But it was long before they could haul his half-senseless
form from the water; and by the time this was accomplished, Bowler
himself was so exhausted that he in turn needed all Braintree's aid to
land himself.  At last, however, all three were on the ledge.

But what were they to do next?  Tubbs lay still half-stupefied, utterly
unable to help himself.  The rock they had descended frowned above them,
defying any attempt to return the way they had _come_, and between the
ledge they stood on and the rock the other side twenty yards of uneasy
water intervened.

"Could we swim across with him?" said Bowler, after a little.

"I'll do my best," said Braintree.

"The thing is," said Bowler, "the tide was dead out an hour ago, so it
must be coming in now.  Oh, what a cad I was to lead you into this,
Braintree!"

"Shut up, old man, I say," said Braintree; and he began to take off his
coat and boots.

Bowler did the same.

"We shall have to leave them behind," said he.  "It can't be helped.
Are you ready?"

"Yes.  But I say, old man, if I get done up and have to let go, don't
wait for me.  I'm not much of a swimmer."

Bowler hesitated.

"If I could only be sure of getting _him_ over," said he, pointing to
Tubbs, "I might come back and--"

"Hullo!  I say, Bowler, look there!" exclaimed Braintree suddenly,
pointing out to sea.  "Wasn't that a light?  Blow your whistle, I say."

Bowler obeyed, eagerly gazing in the direction indicated by Braintree.
There was neither answer nor light.

"I'm certain I saw something!" exclaimed Braintree.  "Blow again, old
man."

And once more the whistle sent forth a shrill cry seaward, accompanied
by a loud shout from Braintree.

They waited in terrible suspense, but still no answer.

"You must be wrong," said Bowler.

"No, I'm not; blow once more."

And again Bowler obeyed.

This time, sure enough, he fancied he saw a glimmer on the water; but it
might be only the lights on the mainland appearing through the lifting
fog.

For ten minutes they kept up an incessant whistling and shouting, their
hopes growing less and less as the time passed.  At length, worn out and
desperate, they had given it up, and were turning once more to prepare
for their swim across.  But as they did so the light suddenly
reappeared, the time close to the shore.

Once more, with frantic energy, they raised their signal of distress,
and after a moment's terrible silence had the joy of hearing a faint
shout across the water.

"It's a boat!" cried Braintree.  "Whistle again to show them where we
are."

Again and again they whistled, and again and again the responsive shout,
growing ever nearer, came back.  Presently they could even distinguish
the sound of oars, and at length the dim outline of a boat loomed across
the entrance of the gulf.

"Where are you?" shouted a voice in the familiar tones of the Raveling
coastguard.

"Here.  We can see you.  We're on the ledge here, Thomson!"

In a few seconds the boat was alongside, and the three boys were safely
lifted into it.

"Where's the rest of you?" asked Thomson, as coolly as if this sort of
thing was an everyday occurrence with him.  "We want seven of you."

"I don't know where they are," said Bowler.  "They were coming round
this way to meet us.  You'd better row round somewhere where we can land
and look for them."

"Give your orders," said Thomson.  "You've had your day's fun, and
seemingly you're determined I should have my night's.  Row away, mate."
And he and his man turned the boat's head and pulled out of the gulf.

"I say, Thomson, have you got any gwub or anything?" said Braintree
faintly.

"Grub," said the jocular coastguard.  "What, harn't you found grub
enough on this here island?  Anyhow, if you do want something you'd
better open that there bag and see what you can find."

Bowler was too anxious to discover the missing ones to feel much
appetite for food, and kept blowing his whistle as the boat slowly
coasted the island.

At length, to his unbounded joy, an answering shout was heard, and the
shadowy forms of the four outcasts were seen standing on the pier from
which they had started two hours before.

Jubilant were the welcomes exchanged as the heroes of New Swishford once
more counted their full number, and ensconced themselves snugly in the
stern of Thomson's boat round his wonderful bag of food.

It did not take long to chronicle the doings of Gayford's party.  After
about half an hour's journey they had been pulled up by the same chasm
which had nearly proved too much for poor Tubbs.  Finding it impossible
to cross it, they had turned inland, and for a cheerful hour lost their
way completely in the fog.  At length, by means of walking in a straight
line, they had come again to the coast, and after much searching had
found the pier.  And having found it, they resolved to keep it until the
other party completed the circuit and found them where it left them.

"And however did you find us out, Thomson?" inquired Gayford, after the
repast had been done ample justice to.  "Did your boat come ashore?"

"No, she didn't, young gentleman; and I can tell you you'll get to know
how to spell her name tolerable well before you've heard the last of
her."

"Oh, of course we shall get into a frightful row," said Bowler; "but how
did you come to find us?"

"Why, one of you artful young scholards left a letter to his ma on his
table, open for everybody to see, talking some gammon about a West
Indian island, and saying you was going to lay hold of the Long Stork,
to get your hands in.  I can tell you you _have_ got your hands in, my
beauties.  There's a cart-load of birches been ordered for you at the
school already."

These awful warnings failed to counteract the satisfaction of our heroes
at finding themselves nearly back again in the region of blankets and
hot porridge.  Bowler in the name of the party magnificently presented
Thomson with the odd shilling reserved for his benefit, and expressed
his sorrow it was not more.  But, he added, if the "Eliza" ever turned
up, he might keep everything he found on board, including twelve tins of
shrimps and peaches, a bottle of hair-oil, a set of cricket bails, and a
copy of Young's _Night Thoughts_; whereat Thomson was moved with
gratitude, and said they were as nice a lot of articles as ever he came
across, and he did not mind saying so.

An hour later our heroes were all in bed, comfortable within and
without.  They were let down easy for their day's escapade, and except
for colds more or less bad, and a decidedly augmented bill at the end of
the term to pay for a new "Eliza," as well as a regulation forbidding
all sea voyages of whatever kind, they suffered no further punishment
than the lessons of the day itself.  To those lessons they added one
more of their own accord, by resolving unanimously, that from that day
forward they renounced all further claim to that eligible island
commonly known as New Swishford.





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