Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

208

ACCOUNTS SQUARED WITH FLASHMAN.

[ocr errors]

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 !

“ Not he,” said Diggs, getting leisurely off the table; "it's all sham, he's only afraid to fight it out.”

East was as frightened as Tom. Diggs lifted Flashman's head and he groaned.

“ What's the matter?” shouted Diggs.
“ My skull's fractured,” sobbed Flashman.

“ Oh, let me run for the housekeeper," cried Tom. 66 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."

“ We're really very sorry," began East.

“ Hang your sorrow," answered Flashman, holding his handkerchief to the place ; " you shall pay 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

ACCOUNTS SQUARED WITH FLASHMAN.

209

head's broken too — your collar is covered with blood.

“ Is it though ?” said Tom, putting up his hand; 6 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 him. self on gin-punch, at Brownsover; and having exceeded 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

210

PENALTIES OF THE WAR.

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 mas ter's suspicions, and the good angel of the fags incited him to examine the freight, and after exam. ination, 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 aftei 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 smal boys, or had given up the practice cheerfully couldn't help feeling a small grudge against the fir rebels. After all, their form had been defied; on ju grounds, no doubt, so just indeed, that they had a once acknowledged the wrong and remained passivi in the strife : had they sided with Flashman and hi set, the rebels must have given way at once. The couldn't help, on the whole, being glad that they hat so acted, and that the resistance had been successfu against such of their own form as had shown fight they felt that law and order had gained thereby, bu the ringleaders they couldn't quite pardon at once “ Confoundedly coxy those young rascals will get we don't mind," was the general feeling.

So it is, and must be always, my dear boys. I

FATE OF LIBERATORS.

211

bar. the Angel Gabriel were to come down from Heaven, of and head a successful rise against the most abominally able and unrighteous vested interest which this poor nas old world groans under, he would most certainly lose fag his character for many years, probably for centuries, an not only with upholders of said vested interest, but th with the respectable mass of the people whom he ha had delivered. They wouldn't ask him to dinner, awi or let their names appear with his in the papers ;

they would be very careful how they spoke of him afte in the Palaver or at their clubs. What can we exinte pect then, when we have only poor gallant blunthe dering men like Kossuth, Garibaldi, Mazzini, and wf righteous causes which do not triumph in their hat hands; men who håve holes enough in their arsto mour, God knows, easy to be hit by respectabilities

Isitting in their lounging chairs, and having large fully balances at their bankers ? But you are brave fo-callant boys, who hate easy-chairs, and have no 1jt jalances or bankers. You only want to have your id afheads set straight to take the right side : so bear in ssivsmind that majorities, especially respectable ones, are d hinine times out of ten in the wrong; and that if you The ee man or boy striving earnestly on the weak side, bachowever wrong-headed or blundering he may be,

you are not to go and join the cry against him. If fight you can't join him, and help him, and make him z, bu wiser, at any rate remember that he has found onossomething in the world which he will fight and suffer for, which is just what you have got to do

for yourselves, and so think and speak of him itenderly.

small

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

get

212

THE ISHMAELITES.

So East and Tom, the Tadpole, and one or two more, became a sort of young Ishmaelites, their hands against every one, and everyone's hand against them. It has been already told how they got to war with the masters and the fifth-form, and with the sixth it was much the same. They saw the præpostors cowed by or joining with the fifth, and shirking their own duties, so they didn't respect them, and rendered no willing obedience. It had been one thing to clean out studies for sons of heroes like old Brooke, but was quite another to do the like for Snooks and Green, who had never faced a good scrummage at football, and couldn't keep the passages in order at night. So they only slurred through their fagging just well enough to escape' a licking, and not always that, and got the character of sulky, unwilling fags. In the fifth-form room, after supper, when such matters were often discussed and arranged, their names were for ever coming up.

" I say, Green," Snooks began one night, “ isn't that new boy, Harrison, your fag?

“ Yes, why?

“Oh, I know something of him at home, and should like to excuse him - will

you swop ?" “ Who will you give me?"

“ Well, let's see, there's Willis, Johnson — No, that won't do. Yes, I have it - there's young East, I'll give you him."

“ Don't you wish you may get it?” replied Green. “ I'll tell you what I'll do - I'll give you two for Willis, if you like."

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »