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156

THE SERMON.

couldn't enter into half that we heard ; we hadn't the knowledge of our own hearts or the knowledge of one another, and little enough of the faith, hope, and love needed to that end. But we listened, as all boys in their better moods will listen (aye, and man too for the matter of that,) to a man who we felt to be with all his heart and soul and strength striving against whatever was mean and unmanly and unrighteous in our little world. It was not the cold clear voice of one giving advice and warning. from serene heights, to those who were struggling and sinning below, but the warm living voice of one who was fighting for us and by our sides, and calling on us to help him and ourselves and one another. And so, wearily and little by little, but surely and steadily on the whole, was brought home to the young boy, for the first time, the meaning of his life: that it was no fool's or sluggard's paradise into which he had wandered by chance, but a battlefield, ordained from of old, where there are no spectators, but the youngest must take his side, and the stakes are life and death. And he who roused this consciousness in them, showed them at the same time, by every word he spoke in the pulpit, and by his whole daily life, how that battle was to be fought; and stood there before them their fellow-soldier and the captain of their band. The true sort of captain too for a boys' army, one who had no misgivings and gave no uncertain word of command, and, let who would yield or make truce, would fight the fight out, (so every boy felt,) to

THE DOCTOR'S FIRST HOLD.

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the last gasp and the last drop of blood. Other sides of his character might take hold of and influence boys here and there, but it was this thoroughness and undaunted courage which more than any thing else won his way to the hearts of the great mass of those on whom he left his mark, and made them believe first in him, and then in his Master.

It was this quality above all others which moved such boys as our hero, who had nothing whatever remarkable about him except excess of boyishness; by which I mean animal life in its fullest measure, good nature and honest impulses, hatred of injustice and meanness, and thoughtlessness enough to sink a three-decker. And so during the next two years, in which it was more than doubtful .whether he would get good or evil from the school, and before any steady purpose or principle grew up in him, whatever his week's sins and shortcomings might have been, he hardly ever left the chapel on Sunday evenings without a serious resolve to stand by and follow the Doctor, and a feeling that it was only cowardice (the incarnation of all other sins in such a boy's mind) which hindered him from doing so with all his heart.

The next day Tom was duly placed in the third form, and began his lessons in a corner of the big school. He found the work very easy, as he had been well grounded and knew his grammar by heart, and as he had no intimate companion to make him idle, (East and his other school-house friends being in the lower-fourth, the form above

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him,) soon gained golden opinions from his master, who said he was placed too low, and should be put out at the end of the half-year. So all went well with him in school, and he wrote the most flourishing letters home to his mother, full of his own success and the unspeakable delights of a public school.

In the house, too, all went well. The end of the half-year was drawing near, which kept everybody in a good humour, and the house was ruled well and strongly by Warner and Brooke. True, the general system was rough and hard, and there was bullying in nooks and corners, bad signs for the future; but it never got further, or dared show itself openly, stalking about the passages and hall and bedrooms, and making the life of the small boys a continual fear.

Tom, as a new boy, was of right excused fagging for the first month, but in his enthusiasm for his new life this privilege hardly pleased him; and East and others of his young friends discovering this, kindly allowed him to indulge his fancy, and take their turns at night fagging and cleaning studies. These were the principal duties of the fags in the house. From supper until nine o'clock, three fags, taken in order, stood in the passages, and answered any præpostor who called Fag, racing to his door, the last comer having to do the work. This consisted generally of going to the buttery for beer and bread and cheese, (for the great men did not sup with the rest, but had each

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his own allowance in his study or the fifth-form room,) cleaning candlesticks and putting in new candles, toasting cheese, bottling beer, and carrying messages about the house; and Tom, in the first blush of his hero-worship, felt it a high privilege to receive orders from, and be the bearer of the supper of old Brooke. And besides this night-work, each præpostor had three or four fags specially allotted to him, of whom he was supposed to be the guide, philosopher, and friend, and who in return for these good offices had to clean out his study every morning by turns, directly after first lesson and before he returned from breakfast. And the pleasure of seeing the great men's studies, and looking at their pictures, and peeping into their books, made Tom a ready substitute for any boy who was too lazy to do his, own work. And so he soon gained the character of a good-natured willing fellow, who was ready to do a turn for any one.

In all the games too, he joined with all his heart, and soon became well versed in all the mysteries of football by continued practice at the schoolhouse little-side, which played daily. The only incident worth recording here however, was his first run at Hare-and-hounds. On the last Tuesday but one of the half-year, he was passing through the hall after dinner, when he was hailed with shouts from Tadpole and several other fags seated at one of the long tables, the chorus of which was, “ Come and help us tear up scent."

Tom approached the table in obedience to the

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HARE AND HOUNDS.

mysterious summons, always ready to help, and found the party engaged in tearing up old newspapers, copy-books and magazines, into small pieces, with which they were filling four large canvas bags.

“ It's the turn of our house to find scent for Bigside, Hare-and-hounds,” explained Tadpole ; “ tear away, there's no time to lose before calling-over.”

5 I think it's a great shame," said another small boy, “ to have such a hard run for the last day.”

66 Which run is it?” said Tadpole.

“Oh, the Barby run, I hear," answered the other, “nine miles at least, and hard ground; no chance of getting in at the finish, unless you're a first-rate scud."

“ Well, I'm going to have a try,” said Tadpole ; it's the last run of the half, and if a fellow gets in at the end, Big-side stands ale and bread and cheese, and a bowl of punch; and the Cock's such a famous place for ale." .

“ I should like to try too,” said Tom.

“ Well, then, leave your waistcoat behind, and listen at the door after calling-over, and you'll hear where the meet is.”

After calling-over, sure enough, there were two boys at the door, calling out, “ Big-side Hare-andhounds meet at White Hall;" and Tom having girded himself with leather strap, and left all superfluous clothing behind, set-off for White Hall, an old gable-ended house some quarter of a mile from the town, with East, whom he had pursuaded to join, notwithstanding his prophecy that they would

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