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TOM BROWN'S SCHOOL DAYS.

PART II.

“I [hold) it truth, with him who sings

To one clear harp in divers tones,

That men may rise on stepping-stones Of their dead selves to higher things."

TENNYSON.

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“Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side:
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Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,
Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified.”

LOWELL.

The turning point in our hero's school career had now come, and the manner of it was as follows. On the evening of the first day of the next halfyear, Tom, East, and another school-house boy, who had just been dropped at the Spread Eagle by the old Regulator, rushed into the matron's room in high spirits, such as all real boys are in when they first get back, however fond they may be of home.

“ Well, Mrs. Wixie,” shouted one, seizing on the methodical active little dark-eyed woman, who was busy stowing away the linen of the boys who had already arrived into their several pigeon-holes, “ here we are again you see, as jolly as ever. Let us help you put the things away."

“ And, Mary,” cried another, (she was called indifferently by either name,) “ who's come back ? Has the Doctor made old Jones leave? How many new boys are there ?"

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“ Am I and East to have Gray's study? You know you promised to get it for us if you could,” shouted Tom.

“ And am I to sleep in Number 4 ?” roared East. “How's old Sam, and Bogle, and Sally ?

“ Bless the boys!” cries Mary, at last getting in a word, “why you'll shake me to death. There, now do go away up to the housekeeper's room and get your suppers; you know I haven't time to talkyou'll find plenty more in the house. Now, Master East, do let those things alone—you're mixing up three new boys' things. And she rushed at East, who escaped round the open trunks holding up a

prize.

“ Hullo, look here, Tommy,” shouted he, “ here's fun!” and he brandished above his head some pretty little night-caps, beautifully made and marked, the work of loving fingers in some distant country home. The kind mother and sisters, who sewed that delicate stitching with aching hearts, little thought of the trouble they might be bringing on the young head for which they were meant. The little matron was wiser, and snatched the caps from East before he could look at the name on them.

“Now, Master East, I shall be very angry if you don't go,” said she; 6 there's some capital cold beef and pickles up stairs, and I won't have you old boys in my room first night.”

“ Hurrah for the pickles! Come along, Tommy, come along, Smith. We shall find out who the young Count is, I'll be bound; I hope he'll sleep in my room. Mary's always vicious first week.”

THE SADDLE IS PUT ON TOM.

235

As the boys turned to leave the room, the matron touched Tom's arm, and said, “ Master Brown, please stop a minute, I want to speak to you.” . 66 Very well, Mary. I'll come in a minute, East; don't finish the pickles—" .

“ Oh, Master Brown,” went on the little matron when the rest had gone, “you're to have Gray's study, Mrs. Arnold says. And she wants you to take in this young gentleman. He's a new boy and thirteen years old, tho’ he don't look it. He's very delicate, and has never been from home before. And I told Mrs. Arnold I thought you'd be kind to him, and see that they don't bully him at first. He's put into your form, and I've given him the bed next to yours in Number 4; so East can't sleep there this half.”

Tom was rather put about by this speech. He had got the double study which he coveted, but here were conditions attached which greatly moderated his joy. He looked across the room, and in the far corner of the sofa was aware of a slight pale boy, with large blue eyes and light fair hair, who seemed ready to shrink through the floor. He saw at a glance that the little stranger was just the boy whose first half-year at a public school would be misery to himself if he were let alone, or constant anxiety to any one who meant to see him through his troubles. Tom was too honest to take in the youngster and then let him shift for himself; and if he took him as his chum instead of East, where were all his pet plans of having a bottled-beer cellar under his win

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