Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

6

“ Then, sir, if the lines are to be done, I'll do them for you,' said another.

" And I, and I, and I,” from half-a-dozen voices.

Diver whispered to a neighbour that he had got a lot of lines of his own composition, ready written; he wondered whether those would do.

"Thank you,” said the doctor, looking round him. “But as I am not a royal personage, I am not entitled to a whippingboy. The only thing I can suggest is that you let me off unconditionally. What do you say ?”

He was smiling now, and there was a general feeling of amusement and satisfaction in the school. The boys expressed their approval by look and gesture, as well as with their voices.

“Thank you,” said the doctor. "I shall be more careful another time, I hope.” And leaving the rostrum, he walked down the schoolroom to the door, all the boys standing up as he passed, and clapping their hands.

"If you please, sir," said the elder Barry, with a comical look, are we to do our impositions ?” "Yes; why not?” The boy said nothing, but looked surprised.

You think, because I am let off, you ought to be?” "Yes, sir." I don't see that. My fault is no excuse for yours.”

What is fair for one, though,” the boy began, “is fair for another."

“ That is true; but your case and mine are not alike.”

Barry was silent. He could not argue with the doctor, and would not have ventured to say so much if he had not been led on by his master's pleasant look, as well as by his well-known fairness and good temper.

“How many lines have you done?” the doctor asked. "About half, sir."

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"

“ Then I'll remit the rest. There shall be a general amnesty; not because I have been guilty of the same error—that would be no just reason—but because I feel sure that you will avoid it another time, as I shall also. You will promise me that?”

“Yes, sir; thank you, sir; you may depend upon me,” each boy answered “I do depend upon you.

1." Again there was applause, in the midst of which the doctor left the school.

That night Chaffin returned. It was with no little apprehension that he listened to the description which some of the boys gave him of the events which had occurred in the morning. He had usually taken an extra day or two;

but a special warning had been issued at the end of the last term against any repetition of such practices. He had not supposed that "Piercey" meant what he said, and had again transgressed. He was called up in public the next day to give an account of himself. Meantime he had thought the matter over, and finding how serious the result was likely to be, had prepared his defence. His father had given him leave to stay; that was his first answer. His father told him to stay; he was bound to “honour and obey his father and mother;" that, in substance and argument, was his second. When told that such excuses could not be received, and that the only thing that could justify his want of punctuality was illness, or inability to return, he unblushingly declared that he had been ill and disabled. Upon which Dr. Piercey dismissed him for the present, intending to write to his father for a certificate of the fact. Chaffin also wrote to his parents, telling them exactly what had passed, reminding them that he had had a headache one day lately, and begging them to send such a letter to Dr. Piercey as should get him out of his difficulty.

But Mr. Chaffin resolved to carry matters with a high hand.

[ocr errors]

The tenor of his letter to Dr. Piercey was that he was himself responsible for his son's detention; he had given him leave, at his urgent request, to stay two or three days longer at home, and as he paid for the full term all the same, he should have felt justified in keeping him a month if he had thought proper to do so.

As for his being sick or disabled, that was all

a

nonsense.

The consequences which ensued to Chaffin junior need not be described. It was clear that he had again been guilty of falsehood; and for that, apart from the delinquency which had led to it, he was punished, not with an imposition of lines to write out, but by strokes of a more degrading kind upon his back and shoulders.

After that a lively correspondence took place between the elder Chaffin and Dr. Piercey; and then suddenly, one morning, the boy was seen to go away from the boarding-house in a fly, taking his luggage with him. The report spread that he was gone for good. Some said his father had sent for him; others that he was expelled. No tears were shed ; his face was seen no more at Abbotscliff; and but for certain events which are to be related in our next chapter, his name would very soon have been forgotten in the school.

CHAPTER. XXIV.

[ocr errors]

BELLA, HORRIDA BELLA.
Cry havoc; and let slip the dogs of war.-Shakespeare.
Ingenium par materiæ.-Juvenal.
H, I say ! hurrah! How jolly!"
“What? what? what ?” from many voices.

? "Just look out! Hasn't it just been snowing! Why, there are two or three feet of snow upon the ground at least.”

“How splendid ! won't we have a battle! It's a half-holiday too. Hurrah!”

The boys in the dormitories were hurrying into their clothes as if eager for the fight, only stopping now and then to feast their eyes from the windows upon the broad expanse of white which lay before them. Roofs, trees, roads, fields, everything was covered with the dazzling and delightful snow. All angles had disappeared; the buttresses of the chapel and other buildings were rounded off; the pinnacles were sheathed, and had lost all their sharpness; nothing but curves and lines of beauty appeared to the boys' eyes everywhere. The silence which reigned without was impressive; the milk-carts came and went like visions in a dream ; the clang of their tins sounded more distinctly than usual, else it might have been supposed that they were phantoms. Two or three men were busy sweeping paths from the boarding-houses to the chapel and school-house. They might be useful, perhaps, for the masters, but it was not to be supposed that the boys would avail themselves of them, except to plunge so much the deeper into the "sweepings" on either side. A few snowballs were thrown as the boys went to chapel, but there was not much time to spare then. Not till the midday meal was over, and the half-holiday had begun, could the battle to which they had been looking forward be properly set in array. Even then it was not an organised attack and defence, but rather a general scrimmage and saturnalia. The little boys delighted to pelt the monitors, and if a master, in passing, ventured to take up a snowball, the whole of the junior school would set upon him until he was glad to avail himself of the shelter offered behind the ranks of the monitors, or meekly to surrender and cry Pax.” At one time, the sixth form, with a master or two, were attacked by nearly the whole of the rest of the school. At another, the “Moderns” found themselves matched against

[ocr errors]
[graphic][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »