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TEA WITH THE DOCTOR.
hospitality. Aye, many is the brave heart now doing its work and bearing its load in country curacies, London chambers, under the Indian sun, and in Australian towns and clearings, which looks back with fond and grateful memory to that school-house drawing-room, and dates much of its highest and best training to the lessons learnt there.
Besides Mrs. Arnold and one or two of the elder children, there were one of the younger masters, young Brooke, who was now in the sixth and had succeeded to his brother's position and influence, and another sixth-form boy there, talking together before the fire. The master and young Brooke, now a great strapping fellow six feet high, eighteen years old, and powerful as a coal-heaver, nodded kindly to Tom to his intense glory, and then went on talking; the other did not notice them. The hostess, after a few kind words, which led the boys at once and insensibly to feel at their ease, to begin talking to one another, left them with her own children while she finished a letter. The young ones got on fast and well, Tom holding forth about a prodigious pony he had been riding out hunting, and hearing stories of the winter glories of the lakes, when tea came in, and immediately after the Doctor himself.
How frank, and kind, and manly, was his greeting to the party by the fire ; it did Tom's heart good to see him and young Brooke shake hands, and look one another in the face; and he didn't fail to remark that Brooke was nearly as tall, and quite as broad as the Doctor. And his cup was full, when in
TEA WITH THE DOCTOR.
another moment his master turned to him with another warm shake of the hand, and seemingly oblivious of all the late scrapes which he had been getting into, said, " Ah, Brown, you here! I hope you left your father and all well at home.”
Yes, sir, quite well." « And this is the little fellow who is to share your study. Well, he doesn't look as we should like to see him. He wants some Rugby air, and cricket. And you must take him some good long walks, to Bilton Grange, and Caldecott's Spinney, and show him what a little pretty country we have about here."
Tom wondered if the Doctor knew that his visits to Bilton Grange were for the purpose of taking rooks' nests (a proceeding strongly discountenanced by the owner thereof), and those to Caldecott's Spinney, were prompted chiefly by the conveniences for setting night-lines. What didn't the Doctor know? And what a noble use he always made of it. He almost resolved to abjure rook-pies and night-lines for ever. The tea went merrily off, the Doctor now talking of holiday doings, and then of the prospects of the half-year, what chance there was for the Balliol scholarship, whether the eleven would be a good one. Everybody was at their ease, and everybody felt that he, young as he might be, was of some use in the little school world, and had a work to do there.
Soon after tea the Doctor went off to his study, and the young boys a few minutes afterwards took their leave, and went out of the private door which led from the Doctor's house into the middle passage.
At the fire, at the further end of the passage, was a crowd of boys in loud talk and laughter. There was a sudden pause when the door opened, and then a great shout of greeting, as Tom was recognized marching down the passage.
“ Hullo, Brown, where do you come from ?”
« Oh, I've been to tea with the Doctor," says Tom, with great dignity. “My eye,” cried East.
“ Oh! so that's why Mary called you back, and you didn't come to supper. You lost something — that beef and pickles was no end good.”
“I say, young fellow," cried Hall, detecting Arthur and catching him by the collar, “what's your name? Where do you come from? How old are you?”
Tom saw Arthur shrink back and look scared as all the group turned to him, but thought it best to let him answer, just standing by his side to support in case of need.
“ Arthur, sir. I come from Devonshire."
“ Don't call me 'sir,' you young muff. How old are you?”
The poor boy was trembling and hesitating. Tom struck in — “You be hanged, Tadpole. He'll have to sing, whether he can or not, Saturday twelve weeks, and that's long enough off yet."
“Do you know him at home, Brown?”
“ No, but he's my chum in Gray's old study, and it's near prayer time, and I haven't had a look at it yet. Come along, Arthur."
Away went the two, Tom longing to get his charge safe under cover, where he might advise him on his deportment.
“ What a queer chum for Tom Brown,” was the comment at the fire; and it must be confessed so thought Tom himself, as he lighted his candle, and surveyed the new green-baize curtains, and the carpet and sofa with much satisfaction.
“I say, Arthur, what a brick your mother is to make us so cosy. But look here now, you must answer straight up when the fellows speak to you, and don't be afraid. If you're afraid, you'll get bullied. And don't you say you can sing; and don't you ever talk about home, or your mother and sisters."
Poor little Arthur looked ready to cry.
“ But please,” said he, “mayn't I talk about about home to you ?”
6 Oh, yes, I like it. But don't talk to boys you don't know, or they'll call you home-sick, or mamma’s darling, or some such stuff. What a jolly desk! is that your's? And what stunning binding! why, your school-books look like novels.”'
And Tom was soon deep in Arthur's goods and chattels, all new and good enough for a fifth-form boy, and hardly thought of his friends outside, till the prayer-bell rung.
I have already described the school-house prayers; they were the same on the first night as on the other nights, save for the gaps caused by the absence of those boys who came late, and the line of new boys who stood all together at the further table of all
sorts and sizes, like young bears, with all their troubles to come, as Tom's father had said to him when he was in the same position. He thought of it as he looked at the line, and poor little slight Arthur standing with them, and as he was leading nim up stairs to Number 4, directly after prayers, and showing him his bed. It was a huge, high, airy room, with two large windows looking on to the school-close. There were twelve beds in the room. The one in the furthest corner by the fireplace, occupied by the sixth-form boy who was responsible for the discipline of the room, and the rest by boys in the lower-fifth and other junior forms, all fags, (for the fifth-form boys, as has been said, slept in rooms by themselves.) Being fags, the eldest of them was not more than about sixteen years old, and were all bound to be up and in bed by ten; the sixth-form boys came to bed from ten to a quarter past, (at which time the old verger came round to put the candles out,) except when they sat up to read.
Within a few minutes, therefore, of their entry, all the other boys who slept in Number 4 had come up. The little fellows went quietly to their own beds, and began undressing and talking to one another in whispers; while the elder, amongst whom was Tom, sat chatting about on one another's beds, with their jackets and waistcoats off. Poor little Arthur was overwhelmed with the novelty of his position. The idea of sleeping in the room with strange boys had clearly never crossed his mind before, and was as painful as it was strange to him. He could hardly