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had been loosened by the weather, broke away from its place above them, and came crashing down, rebounding from one wall to the other, until with a leap it passed over their heads and fell to the ground. Tom felt the young boy's hand shrink as he held it firmly within his own, and observed the effort which he would have made to escape from the threatening danger; but he bade him sit still, and pressed his hand upon him to keep him to the spot until the stone had passed.
“I thought it would have knocked us off the wall,” said Martin, in great trepidation.
" And you very nearly lost your balance in trying to avoid it," Tom replied.
"I shall never be as cool as you are,” said Martin, still trembling at the thought of the danger he had escaped.
“I ought not to bring you into such places,” Tom replied. “You are a year or two younger than I am, and have not had the saine practice. We had better go down now; give me your hand. Another stumble! Take care, Swallow; sit down and rest a bit; this is a safe place just here.”
The boy was very pale; he looked down into the depth below them and shuddered.
"I shall never get down there," he said ; "it's ten times worse going down than coming up. I feel as if I could not go along that narrow bit of wall. I am afraid to move. I wish I were not such a coward.”
"Take your time, Swallow," said Tom, cheerfully. “Take hold of my jacket, watch where I set my feet, and put yours in the same place after me; slowly now; don't look at anything else; now sit down and lower yourself over the slope. I'll hold you; do as I bid you. Come.”
Tom looked so determined, and spoke so sharply, that the little boy, yielding to the influence of a master mind, mustered courage to follow his intrepid leader. There was really very little danger, and with Tom's help he reached the ground in safety. He felt ashamed of himself afterwards, and feared that Tom would have but a poor opinion of him; but they continued as good friends as before, though they did not frequent the ruined tower so much ; or if they went there, did not climb so high.
“ You will get over it some day,” Tom said.
• I'm afraid not,” Swallow answered, mournfully, "I should never be able to stand on the truck of a ship’s mast.”
"That's not necessary,” said Tom. “And it's easy enough to go aloft, because you have something to lay hold of. A sailor makes more use of his hands than of his feet when he's aloft. He always feels safe as long as he has a rope between his fingers.”
The bell rang for dinner while they were speaking, and they hastened to obey its summons; but poor little Martin had a bad headache that afternoon, and it was evident that his nerves had been severely shaken.
I begin shrewdly to suspect the young man of a terrible taint-Poetry.
wo or three days later there was a whole holiday at
Abbotscliff. One of the elder boys had gained a scholarship at Oxford, and the event was to be celebrated in this manner. There was to be a cricket match between the past and present, the former fellows and those now in the school. The first eleven only played in the match, and the juniors amused themselves as they chose, some of them getting up a match of their own, while others went bathing or strolled along the coast looking for crabs or fossils. There was a naturalists' field club in the college, of which many of the elder boys were members. The object of it was to prosecute the study of natural history, to collect specimens, botanical and geological, to observe the habits of birds, beasts, and fishes, and to keep a journal of meteorological phenomena. One boy had a raingauge, and could tell how many inches had fallen since the term began, and how many Wednesdays and Saturdays had been wet; upon the strength of which the boys were able to make a touching appeal to the head master now and then for an extra half-holiday. Another possessed a valuable microscope, and was constantly seeking objects for inspection in the bread-and-butter and the coffee-grounds. Another had made an electrical machine, and gave his schoolfellows shocks when they were least expecting them; so that science was greatly promoted. There were botanists among the number, who carried large sandwich-boxes, as the younger boys irreverently called them, strapped upon their backs; and geologists with hammers, with which they chipped off bits of rock, or even the corners of stone buttresses, trying the temper of their tools and of the owners of the buttresses simultaneously. At the end of each term the naturalists, or “naturals," as the country people called them for shortness, gave a conversazione, and read papers, and drank coffee, and enjoyed themselves and edified each other in a rational and scientific manner.
Tom Howard, with two or three companions, employed the morning of their holiday in studying the natural history of crabs and periwinkles, and wandered a long way over the low rocks covered with seaweed, which extended nearly a quarter of a mile from the foot of the cliffs when the tide was out. With their trousers rolled up tightly above the knee, and their shoes full of water, they clambered about, slipping sometimes into crevices, or falling headlong into pools of salt-water, and enjoying themselves generally, until they were two or three miles from home, when they sat down under the cliffs to rest and to review their stores.
One of the elder boys, a monitor, had, as it chanced, already taken up a position near the spot which they selected, but they knew him to be a good-natured sort of fellow, and were not anxious to avoid him.
“Look at Diver,” said one of them ; "he is at it again.”
Diver had a book in his hand, and was quietly absorbed in it. Diver was not a “natural,” but a poet, which is quite a different thing, of course. He appeared to be entranced with his book, but rose presently like one in a dream, and strode to and fro upon the sand, chopping the air with his hand and making a variety of gestures, suggested, it may be presumed, by the volume he was reading. “What is he doing?” Tom asked.
Spouting; reciting. He does not see us; keep quiet and look at him.”
Diver presently mounted a fragment of rock about six feet high, and shading his eyes with his hands, stood leaning over the brink of it, as if peering down into unfathomable depths. Then his voice was heard husky with emotion.
Here some of the boys began to squeak, and Diver heard them. He coloured, put the book in his pocket, and caine towards them.