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ACCOUNTS SQUARED WITH FLASHMAN.
steps. East looked at Tom. “ Shall we try ?” said he. “ Yes,” said Tom, desperately. So the two advanced on Flashman with clenched fists and beating hearts. They were about up to his shoulder, but tough boys of their age and in perfect training, while he, though strong and big, was in poor condition from his monstrous habits of stuffing, and want of exercise. Coward as he was, however, Flashman couldn't swallow such an insult as this; besides, he was confident of having easy work, and so faced the boys, saying, “ You impudent young blackguards!"_Before he could finish his abuse they rushed in on him, and began pummelling at all of him which they could reach. He hit out wildly and savagely, but the full force of his blows didn't tell, they were too near him. It was long odds tho' in point of strength, and in another minute Tom went spinning backwards over a form, and Flashman turned to demolish East with a savage grin. But now Diggs jumped down from the table on which he had seated himself. “Stop there,” shouted he, “the round's over-half-minute time allowed.”
66 What the is it to you ?” faltered Flashman, who began to lose heart.
“ I'm going to see fair, I tell you,” said Diggs with a grin, and snapping his great red fingers; 66 'tain't fair for you to be fighting one of them at a time. Are you ready, Brown? Time's up."
The small boys rushed in again. Closing they saw was their best chance, and Flashman was wilder ACCOUNTS SQUARED WITH FLASHMAN.
and more flurried than ever; he caught East by the throat and tried to force him back on the iron-bound table; Tom grasped his waist, and remembering the old throw he had learned in the Vale from Harry. Winburn, crooked his leg inside Flashman's, and threw his whole weight forward. The three tottered for a moment, and then over they went on to the floor, Flashman striking his head against a form in the fall.
The two youngsters sprang to their legs, but he lay there still. They began to be frightened. Tom stooped down, and then cried out, scared out of his wits, “ He's bleeding awfully ; come here, East, Diggs—he's dying!”
56 Not he," said Diggs, getting leisurely off the. table; “it's all sham, he's only afraid to fight it
East was as frightened as Tom. Diggs lifted Flashman's head and he groaned.
6 What's the matter ? " shouted Diggs.
6 Oh, let me run for the housekeeper,” cried Tom. “ What shall we do?”
“ Fiddlesticks! it's nothing but the skin broken,” said the relentless Diggs, feeling his head. “ Cold water and a bit of rag's all he'll want."
“ Let me go,” said Flashman, surlily, sitting up; “ I don't want your help.”
6 We're really very sorry,” began East. 6 Hang your sorrow," answered Flashman, holding his handkerchief to the place; "you shall pay
ACCOUNTS SQUARED WITH FLASHMAN.
for this, I can tell you, both of you.” And he walked out of the hall. . “ He can't be very bad,” said Tom, with a deep sigh, much relieved to see his enemy march so well.
“ Not he,” said Diggs, “and you'll see you won't be troubled with him any more. But, I say, your head's broken too—your collar is covered with blood.” •
" Is it though ?” said Tom, putting up his hand, " I didn't know it.”
Well, mop it up, or you'll have your jacket spoilt. And you have got a nasty eye, Scud; you'd better go and bathe it well in cold water.”
• Cheap enough too, if we've done with our old friend Flashy,” said East, as they made off up stairs to bathe their wounds.
They had done with Flashman in one sense, for he never laid finger on either of them again; but whatever harm a spiteful heart and venomous tongue could do them, he took care should be done. Only throw dirt enough, and some of it is sure to stick; and so it was with the fifth-form and the bigger boys in general, with whom he associated more or less, and they not at all, Flashman managed to get Tom and East into disfavour, which did not wear off for some time after the author of it had disappeared from the school world. This event, much prayed for by the small fry in general, took place a few months after the above encounter. One fine summer evening, Flashman had been regaling himself on gin-punch, at Brownsover; and having ex
PENALTIES OF THE WAR.
ceeded his usual limits, started home uproarious. He fell in with a friend or two coming back from bathing, proposed a glass of beer, to which they assented, the weather being hot, and they thirsty souls, and unaware of the quantity of drink which Flashman had already on board. The short result was, that Flashy became inhumanly drunk; they tried to get him along, but couldn't, so they chartered a hurdle and two men to carry him. One of the masters came upon them, and they naturally enough fled. The flight of the rest raised the master's suspicions, and the good angel of the fags incited him to examine the freight, and after examination, to convoy the hurdle himself up to the school-house; and the Doctor, who had long had his eye on Flashman, arranged for his withdrawal next morning.
The evil that men, and boys too, do, lives after them: Flashman was gone, but our boys, as hinted above, still felt the effects of his hate. Besides, they had been the movers of the strike against unlawful fagging. The cause was righteous, the result had been triumphant to a great extent; but the best of the fifth, even those who had never fagged the small boys, or had given up the practice cheerfully, couldn't help feeling a small grudge against the first rebels. After all, their form had been defied; on just grounds, no doubt, so just indeed, that they had at once acknowledged the wrong and remained passive in the strife : had they sided with Fiashman and his set, the rebels must have given way at once. They
FATE OF LIBERATORS.
couldn't help, on the whole, being glad that they had so acted, and that the resistance had been successful against such of their own form as had shown fight; they felt that law and order had gained thereby, but the ringleaders they couldn't quitè pardon at once. “ Confoundedly coxy those young rascals will get if we don't mind,” was the general feeling.
So it is, and must be always, my dear boys. If the Angel Gabriel were to come down from Heaven, and head a successful rise against the most abominable and unrighteous vested interest which this poor old world groans under, he would most certainly lose his character for many years, probably for centuries, not only with upholders of said vested interest, but with the respectable mass of the people whom he had delivered. They wouldn't ask him to dinner, or let their names appear with his in the papers ; they would be very careful how they spoke of him in the Palaver or at their clubs. What can we expect then, when we have only poor gallant blundering men like Kossuth, Garibaldi, Mazzini, and righteous causes which do not triumph in their hands; men who have holes enough in their armour, God knows, easy to be hit by respectabilities sitting in their lounging chairs, and having large balances at their bankers ? . But you are brave gallant boys, who hate easy-chairs, and have no balances or bankers. You only want to have your heads set straight to take the right side : so bear in mind that majorities, especially respectable ones, are nine times out of ten in the wrong; and that if you