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two or three in different trees, caw solos, and then off they all go again, fluttering about and cawing any how till they roost."

“ I wonder if the old blackies do talk?" said Tom, looking up at them.“ How they must abuse me and East, and pray for the Doctor for stopping the sling.

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“ There! look, look!” cried Arthur," don't you see ch w

the old fellow without a tail coming up ? Martin g well used to call him the clerk.' He can't steer himself.

You never saw such fun as he is in a high wind, when he can't steer himself home, and gets carried right past the trees, and has to bear up again and

again before he can perch.” m too.

The locking-up bell began to toll, and the two boys were silent and listened to it. The sound soon

carried Tom off to the river and the woods, and he boor

began to go over in his mind the many occasions on which he had heard that toll coming faintly down ihe breeze, and had to pack up his rod in a hurry and make a run for it, to get in before the gates were shut. He was roused with a start from his memories

by Arthur's voice, gentle and weak from his late Gayer illness.

“ Tom, will you be angry if I talk to you very pse eriously?

No, dear old boy, not I. But ain't you faint, th

rthur, or ill ? What can I get for you? Don't say anything to hurt yourself now, you are very weak; tire et me come up again.” 8,21 “ No, no, I shan't hurt myself; I'd sooner speak to

you now, if you don't mind. I've asked Mary to

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tell the Doctor that you are with me, so you needn't go down to calling-over; and I mayn't have another chance, for I shall most likely have to go home for change of air to get well, and mayn't come back this half.”

Oh, do you think you must go away before the end of the half? I'm so sorry. It's more than five weeks yet to the holidays, and all the fifth-form examination and half the cricket matches to come yet. And what shall I do all that time alone in our study! Why, Arthur, it will be more than twelve weeks be fore I see you again. Oh, hang it, I can't stand that. Besides who's to keep me up to working at the examination books ? I shall come out bottom of the form, as sure as eggs is eggs."

Tom was rattling on, half in joke, half in earnest, for he wanted to get Arthur out of his serious vein, thinking it would do him harm; but Arthur broke

! in “Oh, please Tom, stop, or you'll drive all I had to

out of my head. And I'm already horribly afraid I'm going to make you angry."

6 Don't gammon, young'un,” rejoined Tom, (the use of the old name, dear to him from old recollections, made Arthur start and smile, and feel quite happy ;) “ you know you ain't afraid, and you've never made me angry since the first month we chummed together. Now I'm going to be quite sober for a quarter of an hour, which is more than I am once in a year, so make the most of it; heave ahead, and pitch into me right and left."

" Dear Tom, I ain't going to pitch into you,"

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said Arthur piteously; "and it seems so cocky in me to be advising you, who've been my backbone ever since I've been at Rugby, and have made the school a paradise to me. Ah, I see I shall never do it, unless I go head-over-heels at once, as you said when you taught me to swim. Tom, I want you to give up using vulgus-books and cribs.”

Arthur sank back on to his pillow with a sigh, as if the effort had been great; but the worst was now over, and he looked straight at Tom, who was evi, dently taken aback. He leant his elbows on his knees and stuck his hands into his hair, whistled a verse of Billy Taylor, and then was quite silent for another minute. Not a shade crossed his face, but he was clearly puzzled. At last he looked up and caught Arthur's anxious look, took his hand, and said simply

“ Why, young'un ?"

“ Because you're the honestest boy in Rugby, and that ain't honest."

6 I don't see that." © What were you sent to Rugby for ?" “ Well, I don't know exactly - nobody ever told 6

I suppose because all boys are sent to a public school in England.”

“ But what do you think yourself ? 6

think yourself? What do you want to do here and to carry away?"

Tom thought a minute. “I want to be A 1 at cricket and football, and all the other games, and to make my hands keep my head against any fellow, lout or gentleman. I want to get into the sixth before I leave, and to please the Doctor; and I

me.

336

Tom's CONFESSIONS.

want to carry away just as much Latin and Greek as will take me through Oxford respectably. There now, young'un, I never thought of it before, but that's pretty much about my figure. Ain't it all on the square? What have you got to say to that?

Why, that you're pretty sure to do all that you want then."

6 Well, I hope so. But you've forgot one thing, what I want to leave behind me. I want to leave behind me," said Tom, speaking slow and looking much moved, “the name of a fellow who never bul. lied a little boy, or turned his back on a big one.

Arthur pressed his hand, and after a moment's silence went on: “You say, Tom, you want to please the Doctor. Now do you want to please him by what he thinks you do, or by what you really do ?

“ By what I really do, of course. “ Does he think you use cribs and vulgus-books ?

Tom felt at once that his flank was turned, but he couldn't give in. “ He was at Winchester himself," said he," he knows all about it."

“ Yes, but does he think you use them? Do you think he approves of it ???

“ You young villain," said Tom, shaking his fist at Arthur half vexed and half pleased, “ I never think about it. Hang it - there, perhaps he don't. Well, I suppose he don't."

Arthur saw that he had got his point; he knew his friend well, and was wise in silence as in speech. He only said, “I would sooner have the Doctor's

TOM PROPOSETH A COMPROMISE.

337

6

good opinion of me as I really am, than any man's in the world."

After another minute Tom began again : "Look here, young’un, how on earth am I to get time to play the matches this half, if I give up cribs ? We're in the middle of that long crabbed chorus in the Agamemnon, I can only just make head or tail of it with the crib. Then there's Pericles' speech coming on in Thucydides, and the Birds' to get up for the examination, besides the Tacitus." Tom groaned at the thought of his accumulated labours. “I say young'un, there's only five weeks or so left to holidays, mayn't I go on as usual for this half ? I'll tell the Doctor about it some day, or you may.”

Arthur looked out of window; the twilight had come on and all was silent. He repeated in a low voice, “ In ́ this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon; when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing."

Not a word more was said on the subject, and the boys were again silent. One of those blessed short silences, in which the resolves which colour a life are so often taken. Tom was the first to break it.

6 You've been very |ill indeed, haven't you, Geordie ?” said he with a

mixture of awe and curiosity, feeling as if his friend

had been in some strange place or scene, of which she could form no idea, and full of the memory of his own thoughts during the last week.

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