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CHAPTER I.

HOW THE TIDE TURNED.

“Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide

In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side :

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 i now come, and the manner of it was as follows. On

the evening of the first day of the next half-year, 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, “ bere we are again you see, 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? Yon 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 talk you'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 prett little night-caps, beautifully made and marked, th work of loving fingers in some distant country hom The kind mother and sisters, who sewed that deli cate stitching with aching hearts, little thought the trouble they might be bringing on the you head for which they were meant. The little matr was wiser, and snatched the caps from East befo he could look at the name on them.

« Now, Master East, I shall be very angry if y a don't go," said she'; “there's some capital cold k and pickles up stairs, and I won't have you old b in my room first night."

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

THE SADDLE IS PUT ON TOM.

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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.”

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, though 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 orner 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 irst half-year at a public school would be misery to imself if he were let alone, or constant anxiety to any one who meant to see him through his troubles.

L'om 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 window, and making night-lines and slings, and plotting

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THE SADDLE IS PUT ON TOM.

expeditions to Brownsover Mills and Caldecott's Spinney? East and he had made up their minds to get this study, and then every night from lockingup till ten they would be together, to talk about fishing, drink bottled-beer, read Marryatt's novels, and sort birds' eggs. And this new boy would most likely never go out of the close, and would be afraid of wet feet, and always getting laughed at, and called Molly, or Jenny, or some derogatory feminine nickname.

The matron watched him for a moment, and saw what was passing in his mind, and so, like a wise negotiator, threw in an appeal to his warm heart. u Poor little fellow," said she in almost a whisper, “his father's dead, and he's got no brothers. And his mamma, such a kind sweet lady, almost broke her heart at leaving him this morning; and she said one of his sisters was like to die of decline, and

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" Well, well,” burst in Tom, with something like a sigh at the effort, “I suppose I must give up East . Come along, young'un. What's your name? We'll go and have some supper, and then I'll show you our study."

“ His name's George Arthur," said the matron, walking up to him with Tom, who grasped his little delicate hand as the proper preliminary to making a chum of him, and felt as if he could have blown him away. “ I've had his books and things put into the study, which his mamma has had new papered, and the sofa covered, and new green-baize curtains over the door," (the diplomatic matron threw this in, to

TEA WITH THE DOCTOR.

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show that the new boy was contributing largely to the partnership comforts.) “And Mrs. Arnold told me to say,” she added, " that she should like you both to come up to tea with her. You know the way, Master Brown, and the things are just gone up, I know."

Here was an announcement for Master Tom! He was to go up to tea the first night, just as if he were a sixth or fifth-form boy, and of importance in the school world, instead of the most reckless young scapegrace amongst the fags. He felt himself lifted on to a higher moral and social platform at once. Nevertheless, he couldn't give up without a sigh the idea of the jolly supper in the housekeeper's room with East and the rest, and a rush round to all the studies of his friends afterwards, to pour out the deeds and wonders of the holidays, to plot fifty plans for the coming half-year, and to gather news of who had left, and what new boys had come, who had got who's study, and where the new præpostors slept. However, Tom consoled himself with thinking that he couldn't have done all this with the new boy at his heels, and so marched off along the passages to the Doctor's private house, with his young charge in tow, in monstrous good humour with him. self and all the world.

It is needless, and would be impertinent to tell, how the two young boys were received in that drawing-room. The lady who presided there is still living, and has carried with her to her peaceful home in the North the respect and love of all those who ever felt and shared that gentle and high-bred

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