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EAST DISCOURSETH LEARNEDLY
play in quarters. That's more than he'll do for any other lower school-boy, except James, and he's fourteen."
6 Who's Brooke?" .
6 Why, that big fellow who called over at dinner, to be sure. He's cock of the school, and head of the school-house side, and the best kick and charger in Rugby.”
“Oh, but do show me where they play. And tell me about it. I love football so, and I've played all my life. Won't Brooke let me play?"
“Not he,” said East, with some indignation ; 6 why you don't know the rules, you'll be a month learning them. And then it's no joke playing-up in a match, I can tell you. Quite another thing from your private school games. Why, there's been two collar-bones broken this half, and a dozen fellows lamed. And last year a fellow had his leg broken."
Tom listened with the profoundest respect to this chapter of accidents, and followed East across the level ground till they came to a sort of gigantic gallows of two poles eighteen feet high, fixed upright in the ground some fourteen feet apart, with a cross-bar running from one to the other at the height of ten feet or thereabouts.
“ This is one of the goals,” said East, “and you see the other, across there, right opposite, under the Doctor's wall. Well, the match is for the best of three goals; whichever side kicks two goals wins, and it won't do, you see, just to kick the ball through these posts, it must go over the cross-bar; ON FOOTBALL AND THE LAWS THEREOF.
any height ’ll do, so long as it's between the posts. You'll have to stay in goal to touch the ball when it rolls behind the posts, because if the other side touch it they have a try at goal. Then we fellows in quarters, we play just about in front of goal here, and have to turn the ball and kick it back, before the big fellows on the other side can follow it up. And in front of us all the big fellows play, and that's where the scrummages are mostly."
Tom's respect increased as he struggled to make out his friend's technicalities, and the other set to work to explain the mysteries of soff your side," “ drop-kicks,” 6 punts,” 5 places," and the other intricacies of the great science of football.
“But how do you keep the ball between the goals ? " said he; “I can't see why it mightn't go right down to the chapel.”
“ Why, that's out of play,” answered East. “ You see this gravel walk running down all along this side of the playing-ground, and the line of elms opposite on the other? Well, they're the bounds. As soon as the ball gets past them, it's in touch, and out of play. And then whoever first touches it, has to knock it straight out amongst the players-up, who make two lines with a space between them, every fellow going on his own side. Ain't there just fine scrummages then! and the three trees you see there which come out into the play, that's a tremendous place when the ball hangs there, for you get thrown against the trees, and that's worse than any hack.”
Tom wondered within himself, as they strolled back again towards the fives' court, whether the matches were really such break-neck affairs as East represented, and whether, if they were, he should ever get to like them and play-up well.
He hadn't long to wonder, however, for next minute East cried out, “ Hurra! here's the puntabout,—come along and try your hand at a kick.” The punt-about is the practice-ball, which is just brought out and kicked about any how from one boy to another before callings over and dinner, and at other odd times. They joined the boys who had brought it out, all small school-house fellows, friends of East, and Tom had the pleasure of trying his skill, and performed very creditably, after first driving his foot three inches into the ground, and then nearly kicking his leg into the air, in vigorous efforts to accomplish a drop-kick after the manner of East.
Presently more boys and bigger came out, and boys from other houses on their way to calling-over, and more balls were sent for. The crowd thickened as three o'clock approached; and when the hour struck, one hundred and fifty boys were hard at work. Then the balls were held, the master of the week came down in cap and gown to calling-over, and the whole school of three hundred boys swept into the big school to answer to their names.
"I may come in, mayn't I ?” said Tom, catching East by the arm and longing to feel himself one of them.
“ Yes, come along, nobody'll say any thing. You
" THEY TRUST TO OUR HONOUR."
won't be so eager to get into calling-over after a month," replied his friend; and they marched into the big school together, and up to the further end, where that illustrious form, the lower fourth, which had the honour of East's patronage for the time being, stood.
The master mounted into the high desk by the door, and one of the præpostors of the week stood by him on the steps, the other three marching up and down the middle of the school with their canes, calling out 6 Silence, silence !"' The sixth form stood close by the door on the left, some thirty in number, mostly great big grown men, as Tom thought, surveying them from a distance with awe. The fifth form behind them, twice their number and not quite so big. These on the left, and on the right the lower fifth, shell, and all the junior forms in order, while up the middle marched the three præpostors.
Then the præpostor who stands by the master calls out the names, beginning with the sixth form, and as he calls, each boy answers “ here” to his name, and walks out. Some of the sixth stop at the door to turn the whole string of boys into the close ; it is a great match day, and every boy in the school, will-he nill-he, must be there. The rest of the sixth go forwards into the close, to see that no one escapes by any of the side gates.
To-day however being the school-house match, none of the school-house præpostors stay by the door to watch for truants of their side; there is
MARSHALLING FOR FOOTBALL.
carte blanche to the school-house fags to go where they like; “ They trust to our honour,” as East proudly informs Tom; “ they know very well that no school-house boy would cut the match. If he did, we'd very soon cut him, I can tell you."
The master of the week being short-sighted, and the præpostors of the week small and not well up to their work, the lower school-boys employ the ten minutes which elapse before their names are called, in pelting one another vigorously with acorns, which fly about in all directions. The small præpostors dash in every now and then, and generally chastise some quiet, timid boy who is equally afraid of acorns and canes, while the principal performers get dexterously out of the way; and so calling over rolls on somehow, much like the big world, punishments lighting on wrong shoulders, and matters going generally in a queer, cross-grained way, but the end coming somehow, which is after all the great point. And now the master of the week has finished, and locked up the big school; and the præpostors of the week come out, sweeping the last remnant of the school fags, who had been loafing about the corners by the fives' court, in hopes of a chance of bolting, before them into the close.
• Hold the punt-about!” “ To the goals!” are the cries, and all stray balls are impounded by the authorities; and the whole mass of boys moves up towards the two goals, dividing as they go into three bodies. That little band on the left,