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away towards the sides with the unerring drop-kick. This is worth living for; the whole sum of schoolboy existence gathered up into one straining, struggling half-hour, a half-hour worth a year of common life.
The quarter to five has struck, and the play slackens for a minute before goal ; but there is Crew, the artful dodger, driving the ball in behind our goal, on the island side, where our quarters are weakest. Is there no one to meet him? Yes! look at little East! the ball is just at equal distances between the two, and they rush together, the young man of seventeen and the boy of twelve, and kick it at the same moment. Crew passes on without a stagger; East is hurled forward by the shock, and plunges on his shoulder, as if he would bury himself in the ground; but the ball rises straight into the air, and falls behind Crew's back, while the bravos of the school-house attest the pluckiest charge of all that hard-fought day. Warner picks East up lame and half stunned, and he hobbles back into goal, conscious of having played the man.
And now the last minutes are come, and the school gather for their last rush, every boy of the hundred and twenty who has a run left in him. Reckless of the defence of their own goal, on they come across the level big-side ground, the ball well down amongst them, straight for our goal, like the column of the old guard up the slope at Waterloo. All former charges have been child's
play to this. Warner and Hedge have met them, but still on they come. The bull-dogs rush in for the last tiine; they are hurled over or carried back, striving hand, foot, and eyelids. Old Brooke comes sweeping round the skirts of the play, and turning short round, picks out the very heart of the scrummage, and plunges in. It wavers for a moment-he has the ball! No, it has passed him, and his voice rings out clear over the advancing tide, “ Look out in goal.” Crab Jones catches it for a moment, but before he can kick the rush is upon him and passes over him ; and he picks himself up behind them with his straw in his mouth, a little dirtier, but as cool as ever.
The ball rolls slowly in behind the school-house goal, not three yards in front of a dozen of the biggest school players-up.
There stand the school-house præpostor, safest of goal-keepers, and Tom Brown by his side, who has learned his trade by this time. Now is your time, Tom. The blood of all the Browns is up, and the two rush in together, and throw themselves on the ball, under the very feet of the advancing column; the præpostor on his hands and knees arching his back, and Tom all along on his face. Over them topple the leaders of the rush, shooting over the back of the præpostor, but falling flat on Tom, and knocking all the wind out of his small carcass. “Our ball,” says the præpostor, rising with his prize, “but get up there, there's a little fellow under you.” They are hauled
TOM'S FIRST EXPLOIT.
and roll off him, and Tom is discovered a motionless body.
Old Brooke picks him up. “ Stand back, give him air," he says; and then feeling his limbs, adds, “ No bones broken. How do you feel, young 'un ?”
“ Hah-hah,” gasps Tom, as his wind comes back, “ pretty well, thank you—all right."
“ Who is he?” says Brooke. 6 Oh, it's Brown, he's a new boy; I know him," says East, coming
“ Well, he's a plucky youngster, and will make a player,” says Brooke.
And five o'clock strikes. « No side" is called, and the first day of the school-house match is over.
As the boys scattered away from the ground, and East, leaning on Tom's arm, and limping along, was beginning to consider what luxury they should go and buy for tea to celebrate that glorious victory, the two Brooke's came striding by. Old Brooke caught sight of East, and stopped ; put his hand kindly on his shoulder and said “ Bravo, youngster, you played famously; not much the matter, I hope ?”.
“No, nothing at all,” said East, “only a little twist from that charge.”
“ Well, mind and get all right for next Saturday;" and the leader passed on, leaving East better for those few words than all the opodeldoc in England would have made him, and Tom ready to give one of his ears for as much notice. Ah! light words of those whom we love and honour, what a power ye are, and how carlessly wielded by those who can use you! Surely for these things also God will ask an account.
CELEBRATING THE VICTORY.
“ Tea's directly after locking-up, you see," said East, hobbling along as fast as he could, “ so you come along down to Sally Harrowell's; that's our school-house tuck shop—she bakes such stunning murphies, we'll have a penn'orth each for tea; come along, or they'll all be gone.”
Tom's new purse and money burnt in his pocket; he wondered, as they toddled through the quadrangle and along the street, whether East would be insulted if he suggested further extravagance, as he had not sufficient faith in a pennyworth of potatoes. At last he blurted out—
“ I say, East, can't we get something else besides potatoes? I've got lots of money, you know."
“ Bless us, yes, I forgot,” said East, “ you've only just come. You see all my tin's been gone this twelve weeks, it hardly ever lasts beyond the first fortnight; and our allowances were all stopped this morning for broken windows, so I haven't got a penny. I've got a tick at Sally's, of course ; but then I hate running it high, you see, towards the end of the half, 'cause one has to shell out for it all directly one comes back, and that's a bore.”
Tom didn't understand much of this talk, but seized on the fact that East had no money, and was denying himself some little pet luxury in consequence. “ Well, what shall I buy?” said he, “ I'm uncommon hungry.”
" I say,” said East, stopping to look at him and rest his leg, “ you're a trump, Brown. I'll do the same by you next half. Let's have a pound of