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the old Roman Empire, en décadence, next morning. The footman, who used in regard to the austere early Christians. to stop up for me on these occasions,
Had Austin Comberwood been at Holy- was generously fee'd, to keep his eyes shade, I am certain he would have been open as long as possible, and his ears on the true model for a Holyshadian ; for, the alert for the first touch of the bell. he was religious without cant, ready to My father heard from me of the aristosympathize with all amusements, though cratic company I was keeping (which not strong enough to take an active part was perfectly true) and appeared highly in them himself; he was cheerful with satisfied with this portion, at all events, out being boisterous, and to the literary of my education tastes of a scholar, he added the appli- About this time I had partially overcation of a student, while his natural come my antipathy to Mr. Cavander, sedateness was tempered by a sense of who, in his turn, seemed to entertain a humour sufficiently keen to enable him more friendly feeling towards myself. to avoid anything i approaching eccen- My sore point now was my resemblance tricity. What Austin knew to be right, his to a Manx cat, inasmuch as I was still will was strong enough to perform. He untailed, and I yearned for the day distinguished black from white, in what when I should assume the virile toga ever light it came before him, and, in and stick-ups. I was perfectly aware morality, he recognized no such colour that for such scenes of enjoyment as as grey. I think he would have passed were the glory of Lord's week, the through the Holysbadian furnace un absence of tails placed me at a disscorched. Yet, having experienced advantage. At the end of my second those fires, I am glad, for his sake, and, year I came back in stick-ups, a sadder remembering the after part of our career, and a wiser boy ; but much had hapfor my own, that he was not my school pened ere that epoch arrived. fellow at Holyshade.
It will have been noticed in my diary At Midsummer, the public school that I had developed a decided taste for week in town, was the realization of all swan hunting. This predilection was our wildest and fastest dreams. They shared by another boy, and led us into were days and nights to be recalled a difficulty. next schooltime, when we compared Not being satisfied with the pleasures notes as to our London life, with all the of the chase, we purchased a pistol. It zest of the heroes in that eminently de- was of antiquated make, and might have lightful and morally improving, but now, been exhibited as a curiosity in the alas ! somewhat antiquated book, "Tom armoury of the Tower. We bought it and Jerry."
for half-a-sovereign, including a bulletI had well-filled pockets, and, unlike mould, lead, and an old powder-flask. most other boys, who rather preferred My companion, Parry, who was not at school to home on account of its free- my tutor's, shared the expense and the dom, I was entirely my own master in privileges appertaining to the possession London from morning to night; for I of this formidable weapon. That we saw very little of my father, except on could not use it, while the boys were on a dinner-party night, or when we went the river disturbing our game, was clear; to a theatre, or the opera. Between so, on consideration, we matured a plan fifteen and sixteen I was able to act the which we carried into effect on the first part of cicerone to Holysbadians, who, whole holiday. visiting the metropolis for that rollicking After twelve, we took our “tub," and cricket week, wished to see as much of hid it among the bushes, in a creek to the amusements of the town, as their which access could be easily gained from means would permit. I soon made a neighbouring meadow, without going myself acquainted with all that was through the town. We kept our scheme worth hearing or seeing, between the to ourselves, as there was only pistol hours of eight in the evening and two enough for two.
At three o'clock we were in chapel, tortion of the mouth and a nervous and when the service was nearly half grasping of the trigger, I fired my first over, Parry and myself were, one after shot, and then stood amazed, and anxious the other, seized with a sudden bleeding as to the result. The report had almost at the nose, which necessitated our im- stunned me, and the kick of the pistol mediate withdrawal, with our handker- had been like a powerful galvanic shock. chiefs up to our suffering organs. I was puzzled and dazed; so were the
No sooner were we out, than we rushed swans. up a lane into the meadows, and thence "Now then,” cried Parry, excitedly, to our boat, in which we immediately “let me load.” embarked, and, unseen by a single per- I handed over the weapon to him, son, sculled across into the very home feeling rather abashed at the result of of the swans, among the rushes on the my ineffectual experiment. In the meanother side of the river. We were not time the swans had recovered from their dressed in our boating costume, as to astonishment, and were recommencing stop for this would have been to court hostilities. Parry, who was older and detection. Parry carried the pistol, I stronger than myself, now took so sure the powder and bullets, and, after load an aim, that, by good or ill luck as the ing, we tossed for first shot. I won it, reader may choose to deem it, he and sat in the stern. As we glided wounded the largest bird, just as it was swiftly into the tall rushes, the swans, breasting my scull, so severely as to aroused from their siesta, took fright, and render a second shot absolutely merciscuttled away left and right. This panic ful. After a few convulsive struggles was only momentary, as in another the swan was dead. And here I beg to minute they had, wheeled about, poking inform all poets that this swan, previous out their heads, wagging their tails to his quitting life, did not sing one. angrily, and swelling out their feathers note. He uttered a sort of a rasping in evidently increasing wrath. One, sound, like that produced by a bow which might have been a model for a when scraped on the above-bridge part Jupiter metamorphosed, took the lead, of the violin-strings. But as to any and, hissing furiously, came right at us. sweet melody, this particular swan had I was now facing him in the bows, while no more pretension to it in his dying. Parry was backing the sculls towards' moments than a pig under the knife. him.
We did not stop to discuss this ques“They can break an oar," said tion, but, having lugged him into our Parry, in alarm.
boat, we pulled into the stream and “And a man's leg," I added, feeling made for a quiet nook in dead-water, anything but comfortable.
where we two guilty ones could talk “ You must shoot him," cried Parry. over the best method of disposing of “If you're afraid, let me! I've often our victim. The Ancient Mariner was shot at home."
not more exercised in conscience, than This was, as it were, a taunt which were we, now, by our unexpected success, a Colvin could not stand. I knew it “They're royal birds," said Parry, was the first shot I had ever had in my lifting up one of our jackets, and regardlife, that this was the first pistol I had ing the lifeless mass as it lay at the ever been trusted with, loaded or un bottom of the boat. “They're royal loaded, and my heart thumped as I birds, I've heard, and for killing one, grasped the handle with one hand, the I forget what a fellow gets, but it's trigger with the other, and with my something awful.” head on one side looked at the swan out “Is it ?" I replied ; “then we'd better of my right eye. In another second, both bury it." my eyes were firmly screwed up, so as We had no spades, we had no picks, to render my aim in shooting perfectly and saw no way of hiding it on the impartial, and with a convulsive con- island where we were moored.
“Sink it with stones," said Parry. do, sir, this morning ? What can I do for
This was evidently the very thing you, sir, this morning ?” Then turning We managed to unscrew the iron chain to a very small boy, about twelve years at the bows, and after a long search we old, in a very much damaged hat, found a stone sufficiently heavy for our “ Well, your grace, what for you this purpose. We succeeded in binding the morning. your grace? This is his carcase to the stone with rope and chain, grace the Duke of Chetford ; his noble and then, looking this way and that, to mother the Duchess was one of the be sure we were still unobserved, we most beautiful ladies ever seen, and plunged it into the middle of the stream. often have I had the pleasure of servIt disappeared with a dull plash, but it ing his noble and excellent father, when did disappear, and we regarded each he was a boy, on this very spot." other as though we expected to see its Whereupon his little grace would inghost.
vest in a tart or whatever luxuries The rest of that “after four” we Spiky might have in his portable spent in watching the spot where the store. swan had gone down, and we came “Well, my little Colvin," he had away with misgivings as to the result said to me, on the morning in quesof this day's sport.
tion; "did you go & shooting of the We kept our secret to the end. poor swan as they've picked up by the
The third party to the secret, that is, bridge ?" the swan, could not rest in his watery I was very nearly surprised out of grave. Murder would out, and two my secret. Had I been thinking of it mornings after this I hurried off to less, I have no doubt I should have Parry's room, to tell him what I had confessed on the spot. As it was, I heard from one of the “men at the asked ingenuously wall," of whom there were four privi. “What swan ?" leged to sell sweets, fruits, and cakes to “What swan, my little Colvin? Why, the boys in the open air in front of the the swan as was shot a day or two ago, school-house, and one of whom (Spiky) and as belongs to Her Majesty the Royal had the odious reputation-perfectly Queen, and the Mayor and Corporation undeserved, I believe-of being a spy of the City of London, where Sir John in the pay of the masters.
Colvin has his office. It ain't quite a Spiky was a character. His short hanging matter, but very near it." thick neck seemed to have sunk in “Who'll be hung ?” I asked. between his high shoulders, as though “I don't know, my little Colvin; no, overburdened by the disproportionately sir, I don't, sir; but there'll be a nice big round head it carried. He was fresh- to do, sir, if they catch 'em, sir, whocoloured, with little piggy eyes, and the ever it was, sir. What for you this sliest smirk immaginable. He carried morning, my little Bifford minor ?” a tin box, divided into trays, filled with “What have you got, Spiky ?" incakes below and apples above. He was quired Bifford minor, who was getting always tidy and clean, and his boast fatter than when he had been at Old was that he knew everything about Carter's. After inspection, he said, every boy's pedigree in the school. hesitatinglyDirectly a new boy appeared, he ad. “I haven't got any money." dressed him in an unctuous tone, and “That don't matter, Minor," replied in a sing-song style, with his head much the accommodating Spiky ; "you take on one side, thus-supposing myself the your banbury now, my little Bifford, sir, boy
and you pay me another time, sir." “Well, my little Colvin, son of Sir Leaving Bifford to the enjoyment of John Colvin, of the City, stockbrokers, his banbury, I hurried off to Parry. Colvin, Wingle, and Co., and of Lan “We shall be discovered," I said. goran House, Kensington. How do you “We shan't,” said Parry, quietly. “We can't be if we don't tell. Who's many a jest at the expense of Mr. to know ?”
Keddy, of whose acquirements he “Perhaps somebody saw us,” I sug. entertained a not very exalted opinion, gested.
and at whom personally he had laughed "Well, then, somebody will tell of us. from the time they had been both ColWe won't,” he answered.
legers together at Holyshade. It was We kept our own counsel. There sufficient for Mr. Keddy to think somewas a great disturbance, and boy after thing uncommonly right, in order to boy was questioned on suspicion. Once convince Mr. Raab that it was most Gulston, a friend of ours, was nearly egregiously wrong. convicted. Then I went to Parry. Now, Mr. Raab having some business
“Look here," I said; “ we can't to transact in the City, went to Colvin stand by while he's punished.”
and Cavander for advice, and, in the “We won't,” said Parry, phlegma- course of conversation, heard from my tically, “when he is to be punished.” father of my being at Holyshade.
“But if they prove he did it-"I Sir John therefore consulted him on began.
this affair, and being really terribly “How can they prove he did it, when afraid lest I should have incurred some we did it ?” asked my partner in guilt. indelible disgrace, was delighted to find
The force of this argument as a poser that Mr. Raab viewed the whole thing was evident. I was still uncertain as as a joke, and considered me perfectly to our course, should they examine us right in not having confessed to the separately.
death of the swan. “Supposing," I put it, “your tutor “ I'll take him into my house," quoth sent for you, and asked you if you Mr. Raab disinterestedly; and thus it shot the swan, what would you say ?" happened that I changed my tutor.
“I should say I didn't,” returned Mr. Raab's house was the easiest, Parry, “because it would be jolly un- pleasantest, and most carelessly managed fair to ask such a question. I'll own of all the houses in Holyshade, and his it when they've found it out. Not till boys were the readiest, smartest, laziest, then."
larkiest, and merriest of all the boys in After a while, when the excitement that great school. We all liked him as had worn off, somehow or another every no other set of boys liked their tutor. one suddenly knew all about it. My We did not reverence him in the least. tutor, Mr. Keddy, sent for me privately He was outspoken, bluff, bold, and in. and lectured me.
tolerant of affectation in any shape, but “Your conduct, Colvin," he said, especially clerical affectation. He was in his shrillest tone, rubbing his hair hot-headed, and quick tempered ; of a irritably, “ has been abominable ; most mercurial disposition. He was fond of abominably bad. I have written to giving his pupils an occasional treat, your father. I don't know whether I on which no one save himself would shall keep you here or not."
have ventured. He had an absurd nickI retired rather crestfallen. Parry name for every boy in the house, and for was in any case going to leave at the a great many out of it. He was partial to end of the half. To be sent away was theatrical entertainments in any form, unpleasantly like expulsion. . from the solemnities of the Greeks down
However, the cards were to be played to the frivolities of the Londoners in in my favour. The Rev. Vickers Raab, his own time; and whenever the little one of the senior masters, and the best theatre of the neighbouring town was scholar of Holyshade, was at feud with opened for a short season, he would most of the authorities, from Dr. Courtley, make a point of taking us to see the whom he delighted to mimic, down to performance, and treating us, on our Mr. John Smoothish, the lowest master return, to supper in his dining-room. On of the lowest form, and he indulged in these occasions he invariably went behind
the scenes, and gave any children, who been his soubriquet at Holyshade, his might be playing, a kindly pat on the real title being Sir Frederick Sladen. head, and sixpence for their pockets. “How do you do, Master Cecil ?”
On the second evening of one of these It was Julie's voice, and in another seasons, Mr. Raab took us to see-I minute I was talking to her and Carforget exactly what piece, but I fancy it lotta, who, I thought, did not seem best was called The Field of Forty Footsteps. pleased at the interruption. The two Biffords were of our party, and quarrelled for a bill, which, on its falling between them, I picked up, and, to my
CHAPTER XXIII. surprise, read that the two principal
HOLYSHADE SETS-UP AT BARRACKScharacters were to be played by Miss
MEN OF THE WORLD-THE TWO SISTERS Carlotta Verney, and Miss Lucrezia Verney.
- ROCKS AHEAD-I AM ASTONISHED
NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME-TWO MYSFor the moment I was puzzled by
TERIOUS VISITORS. the latter name, having forgotten that Julie possessed two. But the play had In public scholastic life the Holyshaders scarcely begun, when I recognized her, were divided into Forms. In private though she did not appear to have seen life the Holyshaders had divided them
selves into Sets. Being at Raab's, and Both the sisters were looking remark- being an independent boy of fortune, my ably handsome, and I actually began to lot was cast in a fast set, whose ranks boast of my acquaintance with this were recruited from all the other sets. couple of charming young actresses. It was especially fast by reason of its Not being afraid of confiding this to being a monied set. Its chiefs were, Mr. Raab, he promised me that I should in my time, at Raab's, where, as I have accompany him after the first act behind already shown, we enjoyed more liberty the scenes. I noticed that Carlotta's than fell to the share of any other house eyes were fixed for the greater part of in the College. We played cards in our the time on the private box at the side, rooms, and during our school-time held where sat three officers, with whose faces an imitation Crockford's at The ChiI was perfectly familiar, as they were old chester Inn, where also we had breakfast Holyshadians, though very young officers, and dinner parties, the former, on Sunhaving recently joined, and were fre- days, being remarkable for a profusion quently mixed up in our cricket matches of grilled chickens, boiled ham, and and boat races. I could not avoid poached eggs, when what was, in the following the direction of Carlotta's school slang of my time, known as “hot eyes, and I found that they invariably sock” was forbidden in our own rooms. rested upon a handsome, brown-com- We had among us the best “ Wet plexioned man, with very small features, bobs," as the boys were termed who were bright eyes, and dark, crisp, curly hair, addicted to amusing themselves with who seemed to be watching the perform- “ Aquatics," and the foremost "Dry ance intensely, as he never once, as long bobs" of the cricketers. We were a as Carlotta was on, took his eyes off the fortune to Mrs. Frizley, the stout prostage. He did not talk much to his prietress of a small cigar-shop, where companions, and, on the fall of the cur- there was a “counter attraction” in her tain, he rose at the same moment as Mr. florid and far from ill-looking niece who Raab and myself. When we came on served the youthful customers. Bifford the stage, we found him engaged in con- major, who, though neither a wet nor dry versation with Carlotta, who was beam- bob, was a noted billiard player, had ing with pleasure at his marked atten been for some time “one of us," before tion, and my tutor saluted him briskly my admission into the select circle, and by a name that seemed to me like Mr. with him and his invariable antagonist Herby. It turned out that this had at the game, little Lord Pilchard, who