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football, or a battle. We're natural enemies in school, that's the fact. We've got to learn so much Latin and Greek and do so many verses, and they've got to see that we do it. If we can slip the collar and do so much less without getting caught, that's one to us. If they can get more out of us, or catch us shirking, that's one to them. All's fair in war, but lying. If I run my luck against theirs and go into school without looking at my lesson, and don't get called up, why am I a snob or a sneak? I don't tell the master I've learnt it. He's got to find out whether I have or not: what's he paid for? If he calls me up and I get floored, he makes me write it out in Greek and English. Very good, he's caught me, and I don't grumble. I grant you, if I go and snivel to him, and tell him I've really tried to learn it but found it so hard without a translation, or say I've had a toothache or any humbug of that kind, I'm a snob. That's my school morality; it's served me, and you too, Tom, for the matter of that, these five years. And it's all clear and fair, no mistake about it. We understand it, and they understand it, and I don't know what we're to come to with any other.”
Tom looked at him, pleased, and a little puzzled. He had never heard East speak his mind seriously before, and couldn't help feeling how completely he had hit his own theory and practice up to that time.
6. Thank you, old fellow," said he. “ You're a good old brick to be serious, and not put out with me. I said more than I meant, I dare say, only you see I know I'm right: whatever you and Gower and the rest do, I shall hold onI must. And as it's all new and an up-hill game, you see, one must hit hard and hold on tight at first.”
66 Very good,” said East; “hold on and hit away, only don't hit under the line."
“But I must bring you over, Harry, or I shan't be comfortable. Now I allow all you've said. We've always been honourable enemies with the masters. We found a state of war when we came, and went into it of course. Only don't you think things are altered a good deal? I don't feel as I used to the masters. They seem to me to treat one quite differently.”
“ Yes, perhaps they do,” said East; “there's a new set you see mostly, who don't feel quite sure of themselves yet. They don't want to fight till they know the ground.”
“I don't think it's only that,” said Tom. “ And then the Doctor, he does treat one so openly, and like a gentleman, and as if one was working with him.”
6 Well, so he does,” said East; “he's a splendid fellow, and when I get into the sixth I shall act accordingly. Only you know he has nothing to do with our lessons now, except examining us. I say though,” looking at his watch, “it's just the quarter. Come along."
As they walked out they got a message to say, that Arthur was just starting and would like to say good-bye;' so they went down to the private entrance of the school-house, and found an open carriage, with Arthur propped up with pillows in it, looking already better, Tom thought.
They jumped up on to the steps to shake hands with him, and Tom mumbled thanks for the pres
ents he had found in his study, and looked round · anxiously for Arthur's mother.
East, who had fallen back into his usual humour, looked quaintly at Arthur and said,
“ So you've been at it again, through that hotheaded convert of yours there. He's been making our lives a burthen to us all the morning about using cribs. I shall get floored to a certainty at second lesson, if I'm called up.”
Arthur blushed and looked down. Tom struck in
« Oh, it's all right. He's converted already; he always comes through the mud after us, grumbling and sputtering."
The clock struck and they had to go off to school, wishing Arthur a pleasant holiday; Tom lingering behind a moment to send his thanks and love to Arthur's mother.
Tom renewed the discussion after second lesson, and succeeded so far as to get East to promise to give the new plan a fair trial.
Encouraged by his success, in the evening, when they were sitting alone in the large study, where
East lived now almost, vice Arthur on leave,' after examining the new fishing-rod, which both pronounced to be the genuine article, (“play enough to throw a midge tied on a single hair against the wind, and strength enough to hold a grampus,') they naturally began talking about Arthur. Tom, who was still bubbling over with last night's scene and all the thoughts of the last week, and wanting to clinch and fix the whole in his own mind, which he could never do without first going through the process of belabouring somebody else with it all, suddenly rushed into the subject of Arthur's illness, and what he had said about death.
East had given him the desired opening, after a serio-comic grumble, “that life wasn't worth having now they were tied to a young beggar who was always raising his standard;' and that he, East, was like a prophet's donkey, who was obliged to struggle on after the donkey-man who went after the prophet; that he had none of the pleasure of starting the new crotchets, and didn't half understand them, but had to take the kicks and carry the luggage as if he had all the fun,' he threw his legs up on to the sofa, and put his hands behind his head, and said
“ Well, after all, he's the most wonderful little fellow I ever came across. There ain't such a meek, humble boy in the school. Hanged if I don't think now really, Tom, that he believes himself a much worse fellow than you or I, and that he don't think he has more influence in the house than Dot Bowles, 360
who came last quarter, and ain't ten yet. But he turns you and me round his little finger, old boythere's no mistake about that.” And East nodded at Tom sagaciously.
“ Now or never," thought Tom ; so shutting his eyes and hardening his heart, he went straight at it, repeating all that Arthur had said, as near as he could remember it, in the very words, and all he had himself thought. The life seemed to ooze out of it as he went on, and several times he felt inclined to stop, give it all up, and change the subject. But somehow he was borne on; he had'a necessity upon him to speak it all out, and did so. At the end he looked at East with some anxiety, and was delighted to see that that young gentleman was thoughtful and attentive. The fact is, that in the stage of his inner life at which Tom had lately arrived, his intimacy with, and friendship for East, could not have lasted if he had not made him aware of, and a sharer in, the thoughts that were beginning to exercise him. Nor indeed could the friendship have lasted if East had shown no sympathy with these thoughts; so that it was a great relief to have unbosomed himself, and to have found that his friend could listen.
Tom had always had a sort of instinct that East's levity was only skin-deep, and this instinct was a true one. East had no want of reverence for any thing he felt to be real: but his was one of those natures that burst into what is generally called recklessness and impiety the moment they feel that any