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HOW THE FIGHT AROSE.
“ Whose ? " said Tom, to whom the remark seemed to be addressed.
6 Why, that little sneak Arthur's,” replied Williams.
6 No, you shan't," said Tom.
6 Hullo !” exclaimed Williams, looking at Tom with great surprise for a moment, and then giving him a sudden dig in the ribs with his elbow, which sent Tom's books flying on to the floor, and called the attention of the master, who turned suddenly round, and seeing the state of things, said
“ Williams, go down three places, and then go
The Slogger found his legs very slowly, and proceeded to go below Tom and two other boys with great disgust, and then turning round and facing the master, said, “ I haven't learnt any more, sir ; our lesson is only forty lines.”
“ Is that so?” said the master, appealing generally to the top bench. No answer.
66 Who is the head boy of the form ?” said he, waxing wroth.
« Arthur, sir,” answered three or four boys, indicating our friend.
“Oh, your name's Arthur. Well now, what is the length of your regular lesson ?”
Arthur hesitated a moment, and then said, “ We call it only forty lines, sir.”
6 How do you mean, you call it?"
“ Well, sir, Mr. Graham says we ain't to stop there when there's time to construe more."
HOW THE FIGHT AROSE.
" I understand,” said the master. “Williams, go down three more places, and write me out the lesson in Greek and English. And now, Arthur, finish construing."
“Oh! would I be in Arthur's shoes after fourth lesson," said the little boys to one another ; but Arthur finished Helen's speech without any further catastrophe, and the clock struck four, which ended third lesson. :
Another hour was occupied in preparing and saying fourth lesson, during which Williams was bottling up his wrath; and when five struck and the lessons for the day were over, he prepared to take summary vengeance on the innocent cause of his misfortune.
Tom was detained in school a few minutes after the rest, and on coming out into the quadrangle, the first thing he saw was a small ring of boys, applauding Williams, who was holding Arthur by the collar.
“ There, you young sneak,” said he, giving Arthur a cuff on the head with his other hand, " what made you say that—"
“ Hullo!” said Tom, shouldering into the crowd, “ you drop that, Williams; you shan't touch him.”
“ Who'll stop me ?" said the Slogger, raising his hand again.
“I,” said Tom; and suiting the action to the word, struck the arm which held Arthur's collar so sharply, that the Slogger dropped it with a start, and turned the full current of his wrath on Tom.
66 Will you fight ?" 6 Yes, of course.”
“ Huzza, there's going to be a fight between Slogger Williams and Tom Brown.”
The news ran like wildfire about, and many boys who were on their way to tea at their several houses turned back, and sought the back of the chapel, where the fights come off.
“ Just run and tell East to come and back me," said Tom to a small school-house boy, who was off like a rocket to Harrowell's, just stopping for a moment to poke his head into the school-house hall, where the lower boys were already at tea, and sing out, “ Fight! Tom Brown and Slogger Williams.”
Up start half the boys at once, leaving bread, eggs, butter, sprats, and all the rest, to take care of themselves. The greater part of the remainder follow in a minute, after swallowing their tea, carrying their food in their hands to consume as they go. Three or four only remain, who steal the butter of the more impetuous, and make to themselves an unctuous feast. • In another minute East and Martin tear through the quadrangle, carrying a sponge, and arrive at the scene of action just as the combatants are beginning to strip.
Tom felt he had got his work cut out for him, as he stripped off his jacket, waistcoat, and braces. East tied his handkerchief round his waist, and rolled up his shirt-sleeves for him: “ Now, old boy, don't you open your mouth to say a word, or try to
help yourself a bit, we'll do all that; you keep all your breath and strength for the Slogger.” Martin, meanwhile, folded the clothes and put them under the chapel rails; and now Tom, with East to handle him and Martin to give him a knee, steps out on to the turf, and is ready for all that may come; and here is the Slogger too, all stripped, and thirsting for the fray.
It doesn't look a fair match at first glance; Williams is nearly two inches taller, and probably a long year older than his opponent, and he is very strongly made about the arms and shoulders; “ peels well,” as the little knot of big fifth-form boys, the amateurs, say, who stand outside the ring of little boys, looking complacently on, but taking no active part in the proceedings. But down below he is not so good by any means; no spring from the loins, and feebleish, not to say shipwrecky, about the knees. Tom, on the contrary, though not half so strong in the arms, is good all over, straight, hard, and springy, from neck to ancle, better perhaps in his legs than anywhere. Besides, you can see by the clear white of his eye and fresh bright look of his skin, that he is in tip-top training, able to do all he knows; while the Slogger looks rather sodden, as if he didn't take much exercise and eat too much tuck. The timekeeper is chosen, a large ring made, and the two stand up opposite one another for a moment, giving us time just to make our little observations.
“If Tom'll only condescend to fight with his
head and heels," as East mutters to Martin, “ we shall do."
But seemingly he won't, for there he goes in, making play with both hands. Hard all, is the word; the two stand to one another like men; rally follows rally in quick succession, each fighting as if he thought to finish the whole thing out of hand. “ Can't last at this rate,” say the knowing ones, while the partisans of each make the air ring with their shouts and counter-shouts, of encouragement, approval, and defiance.
“ Take it easy, take it easy-keep away, let him come after you," implores East, as he wipes Tom's face after the first round with wet sponge, while he şits back on Martin's knee, supported by the madman's long arms, which tremble a little from excitement.
“ Time's up,” calls the timekeeper.
“ There he goes again, hang it all!” growls East, as his man is at it again as hard as ever. A very severe round follows, in which Tom gets out-andout the worst of it, and is at last hit clean off his legs, and deposited on the grass by a right-hander from the Slogger.
· Loud shouts rise from the boys of Slogger's house, and the school-house are silent and vicious, ready to pick quarrels anywhere.
“ Two to one in half-crowns on the big’un,” says Rattle, one of the amateurs, a tall fellow, in thunderand-lightning waistcoat, and puffy goodnatured face.
“ Done!” says Groove, another amateur of quieter