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EAST'S STUDY, AND THE FURNISHING THEREOF. 101
blazing fires in them, at one of which some dozen boys were standing and lounging, some of whom shouted to East to stop; but he shot through with his convoy, and landed him in the long dark passages, with a large fire at the end of each, upon which the studies opened. Into one of these, in the bottom passage, East bolted with our hero, slamming and bolting the door behind them, in case of pursuit from the hall, and Tom was for the first time in a "Rugby boy's citadel. .
He hadn't been prepared for separate studies, and was not a little astonished and delighted with the palace in question.
It wasn't very large certainly, being about six feet long by four broad. It couldn't be called light, as there were bars and a grating to the window, which little precautions were necessary in the studies on the ground-floor looking out into the close, to prevent the exit of small boys after locking-up, and the entrance of contraband articles. But it was uncommonly comfortable to look at, Tom thought. The space under the window at the further end was occupied by a square table covered with a reasonably clean and whole red-and-blue check tablecloth ; a hard-seated sofa covered with red stuff occupied one side, running up to the end, and making a seat for one, or by sitting close for two, at the table ; and a good stout wooden chair afforded a seat to another boy, so that three could sit and work together. The walls were wainscoted half-way up, the wainscot being covered with green baize, the 102
“OUR OWN” AND THE USE THEREOF.
remainder with a bright-patterned paper, on which hung three or four prints, of dogs' heads, Grimaldi winning the Aylesbury steeple-chase, Amy Robsart, the reigning Waverley beauty of the day, and Tom Crib in a posture of defence, which did no great credit to the science of that hero, if truly represented. Over the door were a row of hat-pegs, and on each side bookcases with cupboards at the bottom; shelves and cupboards being filled indiscriminately with school-books, a cup or two, a mouse-trap, and brass candlesticks, leather straps, a fustian bag, and some curious looking articles, which puzzled Tom not a little, until his friend explained that they were climbing irons, and showed their use. A cricket-bat and small fishing-rod stood up in one corner.
This was the residence of East and another boy in the same form, and had more interest for Tom than Windsor Castle, or any other residence in the British Isles. For was he not about to become the joint owner of a similar home, the first place which he could call his own? One's own—what a charm there is in the words! How long it takes boy and man to find out their worth! how fast most of us hold on to them! faster and more jealously, the nearer we are to the general home, into which we can take nothing, but must go naked as we came into the world. When shall we learn that he who multiplieth possessions multiplieth troubles, and that the one single use of things which we call our own, is that they may be his who hath need of them?
6 And shall I have a study like this too ?” said Tom.
TOM'S FIRST RUGBY DINNER.
“ Yes, of course, you'll be chummed with some fellow on Monday, and you can sit here till then.”
66 What nice places!”
“ They're well enough,” answered East, patronizingly, “ only uncommon cold at nights sometimes. Gower, that's my chum, and I make a fire with paper on the floor after supper generally, only that makes it so smoky.”
“ But there's a big fire out in the passage,” said Tom.
“ Precious little good we get of that tho”,” said East; “ Jones the præpostor has the study at the fire end, and he has rigged up an iron rod and green-baize curtain across the passage, which he draws at night, and sits there with his door open, so he gets all the fire, and hears if we come out of our studies after eight, or make a noise. However, he's taken to sitting in the fifth-form room lately, so we do get a bit of fire now sometimes; only keep a sharp look-out that he don't catch you behind his curtain when he comes down, that's all.”
A quarter past one now struck, and the bell began tolling for dinner, so they went into the hall and took their places, Tom at the very bottom of the second table next to the præpostor, who sat at the end to keep order there, and East a few places higher. And now Tom for the first time saw his future school-fellows in a body. In they came, some hot and ruddy from football or long walks, some pale and chilly from hard reading in their studies, some from loitering over the fire at
EAST ON TOPOGRAPHY.
the pastry-cook's, dainty mortals, bringing with them pickles and sauce-bottles to help them with their dinners. And a great big bearded man, whom Tom took for a master, began calling over the names, while the great joints were being rapidly carved on a third table in the corner by the old verger and the housekeeper. Tom's turn came last, and meanwhile he was all eyes, looking first with awe at the great man who sat close to him, and was helped first, and who read a hard-looking book all the time he was eating; and when he got up and walked off to the fire, at the small boys round him, some of whom were reading, and the rest talking in whispers to one another, or stealing one another's bread, or shooting pellets, or digging their forks through the tablecloth. However, notwithstanding his curiosity, he managed to make a capital dinner by the time the big man called “ Stand up” and said grace.
As soon as dinner was over, and Tom had been questioned by such of his neighbours as were curious as to his birth, parentage, education, and other like matters, East, who evidently enjoyed his new dignity of patron and mentor, proposed having a look at the close, which Tom, athirst for knowledge, gladly assented to, and they went out through the quadrangle and past the big fives' court, into the great play-ground.
“ That's the chapel you see,” said East, “and there just behind it is the place for fights; you see it's 'most out of the way of the masters, who all live on the other side and don't come by here after
WHITE TROUSERS IN NOVEMBER.
first lesson or callings-over. That's when the fights come off. And all this part where we are is the little side-ground, right up to the trees, and on the other side of the trees is the big side-ground, where the great matches are played. And there's the island in the furthest corner; you'll know that well enough next half, when there's island fagging. I say, it's horrid cold, let's have a run across,” and away went East, Tom close behind him. East was evidently putting his best foot foremost, and Tom, who was mighty proud of his running, and not a little anxious to show his friend that although a new boy he was no milksop, laid himself down to work in his very best style. Right across the close they went, each doing all he knew, and there wasn't a yard between them when they pulled up at the island moat.
" I say,” said East, as soon as he got his wind, looking with much increased respect at Tom, “ you ain't a bad scud, not by no means. Well, I'm as warm as a toast now.”
6 But why do you wear white trousers in November?” said Tom. He had been struck by this peculiarity in the costume of almost all the schoolhouse boys.
“ Why, bless us, don't you know ?-No, I forgot. Why, to-day's the school-house match. Our house plays the whole of the school at football. And we all wear white trousers, to show 'em we don't care for hacks. You're in luck to come to-day. You just will see a match; and Brooke's going to let me