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“ And so here's Rugby, sir, at last, and you'll be in plenty of time for dinner at the schoolhouse, as I telld you," said the old guard, pulling his horn out of its case, and tootle-tooing away; while the coachman shook up his horses, and carried them along the side of the school-close, round Dead-man's corner, past the school-gates, and down the High street, to the Spread Eagle ; the wheelers in a spanking trot, and leaders cantering, in a style which would not have disgraced “ Cherry Bob,” “ramping, stamping, tearing, swearing Billy Harwood,” or any other of the old coaching heroes.
Tom's heart beat quick as he passed the great school field or close, with its noble elms, in which several games at football were going on, and tried to take in at once the long line of gray buildings, beginning with the chapel, and ending with the school-house, the residence of the head-master, where the great flag was lazily waving from the
highest round tower. And he began already to be proud of being a Rugby boy, as he passed the school-gates, with the oriel window above, and saw the boys standing there, looking as if the town belonged to them; and nodding in a familiar manner to the coachman, as if any one of them would be quite equal to getting on the box, and working the tear down street as well as he.
One of the young heroes however ran out from · the rest, and scrambled up behind; where, having
righted himself, and nodded to the guard, with “ How do, Jem?” he turned short round to Tom, and, after looking him over for a minute, began
" I say, you fellow, is your name Brown?”
“ Yes,” said Tom, in considerable astonishment; glad however to have lighted on some one already who seemed to know him.
“Ah, I thought so; you know my old aunt, Miss East; she lives somewhere down your way in Berkshire. She wrote to me that you were coming to. day, and asked me to give you a lift.”
Tom was somewhat inclined to resent the patronizing air of his new friend, a boy of just about his own height and age, but gifted with the most transcendent coolness and assurance, which Tom felt to be aggravating and hard to bear, but couldn't for the life of him help admiring and envyingespecially when young my lord begins hectoring two or three long loafing fellows, half porter, half 98
ÆSTHETICS OF “ ROOFING.”
stable-men, with a strong touch of the blackguard, and in the end arranges with one of them, nicknamed Cooey, to carry Tom's luggage up to the school-house for sixpence.
66 And heark’ee, Cooey, it must be up in ten minutes, or no more jobs from me. Come along, Brown.” And away swaggers the young potentate, with his hands in his pockets, and Tom at his side.
“ All right, sir,” says Cooey, touching his hat, with a leer and a wink at his comrades.
“Hullo tho',” says East, pulling up, and taking another look at Tom,“ this'll never do—haven't you got a hat? we never wear caps here. Only the louts wear caps. Bless you, if you were to go into the quadrangle with that thing on, I don't know what'd happen.” The very idea was quite beyond young Master East, and he looked unutterable things.
Tom thought his cap a very knowing affair, but confessed that he had a hat in his hat-box; which was accordingly at once extracted from the hind boot, and Tom equipped in his go-to-meeting roof, as his new friend called it. But this didn't quite suit his fastidious taste in another minute, being too shiny; so, as they walk up the town, they dive into Nixon's the hatter's, and Tom is arrayed, to his utter astonishment, and without paying for it, in a regulation cat-skin at seven-and-sixpence; Nixon undertaking to send the best hat up to the matron's room, school-house, in half-an-hour.
“ You can send in a note for a tile on Monday, and make it all right, you know,” said Mentor; 6 we're allowed two seven-and-sixers a half, besides what we bring from home.”
Tom by this time began to be conscious of his new social position and dignities, and to luxuriate in the realized ambition of being a public schoolboy at last, with a vested right of spoiling two seven-and-sixers in half a year.
“ You see,” said his friend, as they strolled up towards the school-gates, in explanation of his conduct, “ a great deal depends on how a fellow cuts up at first. If he's got nothing odd about him, and answers straightforward, and holds his head up, he gets on. Now you'll do very well as to rig, all but that cap. You see I'm doing the handsome thing by you, because my father knows yours : besides, I want to please the old lady. She gave me half-a-sov this half, and perhaps 'll double it next, if I keep in her good books.”
There's nothing for candour like a lower schoolboy, and East was a genuine specimen. Frank, hearty, and good-natured, well satisfied with himself and his position, and chock full of life and spirits, and all the Rugby prejudices and traditions which he had been able to get together, in the long course of one half year, during which he had been at the school-house.
And Tom, notwithstanding his bumptiousness, felt friends with him at once, and began sucking in all his ways and prejudices, as fast as he could understand them.
INTRODUCTION TO THE MATRON.
East was great in the character of cicerone ; he carried Tom through the great gates, where were only two or three boys. These satisfied themselves with the stock questions, “ You fellow, what's your name? Where do you come from? How old are you? Where do you board ? and what form are you in?” and so they passed on through the quadrangle and a small court-yard, upon which looked down a lot of little windows, belonging, as his guide informed him, to some of the school-house studies, into the matron's room, where East introduced Tom to that dignitary; made him give up the key of his trunk, that the matron might unpack his linen, and told the story of the hat, and of his own presence of mind; upon the relation whereof, the matron laughingly scolded him, for the coolest new boy in the house; and East, indignant at the accusation of newness, marched Tom off into the quadrangle, and began showing him the schools, and examining him as to his literary attainments; the result of which was, a prophecy that they would be in the same form, and could do their lessons together.
“ And now come in and see my study; we shall have just time before dinner; and afterwards, before calling over, we'll do the close.”
Tom followed his guide through the school-house hall, which opens into the quadrangle. It is a great room thirty feet long and eighteen high, or thereabouts, with two great tables running the whole length, and two large fireplaces at the side, with