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CHAPTER X.

GREENING

THE

A gibing spirit,
Whose influence is begot of that loose grace
Which shallow, laughing hearers give to fools.

Shakespeare.
My salad days,
When I was green in judgment.-Ibid.
HE following morning, as soon as Tom Howard made his

appearance in the playground, Chaffin came to him and volunteered to give him information with reference to the day's proceedings; but Tom was on his guard.

“I need not believe you unless I like, I suppose,” he said, and turned away without taking any further notice of him. It was well that he did so, for Chaffin wanted to “green him," as he called it, and would have made him do something ridiculous, or perhaps incur some penalty for a breach of discipline. He saw very little of Chaffin during the remainder of the day, for they were not in the same room. Tom was in the classical school, and very fairly placed for his age; while Chaffin was in the lower modern, and had been there ever since his first arrival at the school. The lower modern was a sort of limbo, to which those who could make no progress elsewhere were consigned; and although there were some clever boys who entered it in their course of study, these passed through it quickly, while the idle ones remained; so that it was not held in much estimation generally.

Two or three days later, when Tom was again in the playground, and had begun to feel at home there, a little boy named Martin-the youngest in the school, or nearly 80- came running to him with a look of excitement, and said, “There's a hamper come for you, Howard; a porter has just brought it up from the station.”

“For me?” cried Tom; "another hamper for me? Are you certain?”

“Quite ; it has got your name upon it.” “Where is it?”

“ In the common room. It looks—it looks as if it had a cake in it, and a lot of other things."

“Is there anything to pay ?" Tom asked. “No, I believe not; the porter is gone."

The boy laughed as he said it, anticipating a share of the cake, Tom thought.

“Come with me," said Tom, "and let us see what's in it.”

Howard's cakes had begun to be quite a joke among the boys, and a very good joke, too, some of them thought. Two to begin with was unusual, and a third to follow so quickly was exciting. The other cakes had been cut up and distributed freely, and many of the boys who had tasted them followed our hero, in expectation of a treat. Two or three of the elder boys also were taken with the humour of the thing, and looked with interest at the newly-arrived hamper. Some of them had begun to adopt as fact the pastrycook theory hinted at by Chaffin, who was supposed to know all about Tom and his belongings; but they did not generally think any the worse of their new schoolfellow on that account, and some of them were disposed to like him the better for it. A fat-faced youngster, who went by the nickname of Piggy, was heard to say in confidence to another boy that he should not much care if his own father were a pastrycook.

The hamper was found in the common room, as had been stated, and from its appearance might have been twin-brother to one of the former ones.

"I wonder who has sent it?" said Tom, to himself, examining the direction. “Mr. Darville, perhaps. Joan may have given him a hint; if so, he would be sure to go and do it directly. I wonder who can have sent it?" he repeated, aloud.

“I should not care who sent it,” cried Chaffin, who was by this time at his elbow, watching the process of opening the hamper with great exultation. “What does it signify where it comes from as long as it's there? We know where it will go to, and that's enough."

“I don't agree with you," said Tom; “half the pleasure of receiving a present is to know how kind people have been in sending it. I should not so much care for having a cake if I did not know whom to thank for it."

"I should, then," said Chaffin. “If anybody were to fling one at my head I should take it up and eat it."

The others told him to "get out," and not talk like a hog, to which the “Dook" replied that he had not been much in the society of hogs, and had never heard them talk; and there was more banter of the kind, Tom proceeding all the while with the opening of the hamper in the midst of an excited group, who were laughing and expressing the delight they anticipated when the cake should be reached. But there was a great deal to be done before that happened, for the hamper was carefully secured, to begin with, and then there were so many wrappers of brown paper, newspaper, and other paper, each tied round with a separate string, that they began at length to doubt whether it could be a cake after all. It must be something a great deal more precious, some of them argued-perhaps a box of rupees from India. Tom went on turning the parcel over, cutting the strings and unfolding the wrappers one after another, until he reached what seemed to be the nucleus. No, it could not be a cake, it was so small and heavy. He was glad of it; something more durable would please him better, something that he would

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be able to keep in remembrance of those who had sent it. Very likely it was a book, with a letter accompanying it. His fingers trembled with excitement as he unfolded the last wrapper. No, it was not a book. There was a general laugh as the enclosure was revealed, but Tom did not join it. A brick—a common red brick in all its ugliness-dropped out of his hands into the empty hamper.

“Greened at last!” cried Chaffin. But Tom did not trust himself to answer, or

even to look at him. He recovered himself in a few moments, and joined in the laugh which had been raised at his expense, and leaving the brick where it was, went back to the playground, the others accompanying and condoling with him.

" It was a shame," they said, “to play a new boy such a trick as that. Tom was a brick 'himself to take it as he did.” They knew what it was to have a hamper from home, and thought it a sorry and unfeeling trick. Home was something sacred in their minds, and ought not to be joked about by other boys. It would serve Chaffin right to take him at his word and fling the “ cake" at his head, and make him eat it afterwards.

Tom did not say much; he had guessed that it was Chaffin's doing; but he was angry that little Martin should have been made an agent in the deception, and induced to tell so many falsehoods about it. He got hold of him in the evening, and talked to him seriously and quietly on the subject.

"It was only in fun," Martin said ; "all the fellows green one another when they can. It never does any harm."

“That is more than you can tell,” said Tom ; "it's bad in itself, that's what I want you to see.

The child was not easily convinced. He had been made the subject of many similar jokes himself. He went by the name of “Swallow” among his playfellows, not so much because his proper name was Martin as on account of the readiness he had

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displayed when he first came to school to swallow everything that was told him. Now he was always on his guard, and got into trouble sometimes by refusing to believe what was told him in good faith. But he always got out again pretty soon, and did not suffer himself to be afllicted much about anything; a good-natured, merry, laughing boy he was, and a general favourite both with young and old.

“You did not care about it," said the boy ; "you did not mind it, did you?”

Tom evaded the question ; he did not like to tell any one how disappointed he had felt.

“We ought to be very particular about the truth," Tom said. “If we are careless about it and trifle with it, we may get into bad habits before we are aware. Think how many lies you told me this morning about the porter having gone away, and the carriage being paid, one after another. You may think it very clever to invent such falsehoods, but I think it very wrong. If Chaffin had come to me himself and said what you did, I should not have believed him; but I believed you at once. Of course I should not believe you again, whatever you might say.”

“That would be a great shame,” said Martin, looking hot and indignant. “I don't tell lies, not real ones. I would not tell a real lie for anybody."

“Well then, Swallow, if you will promise to give up greening, and telling stories for fun, I'll promise for my part to believe every word you say. Will that do ?

? “ Yes," said the other, thoughtfully; "I'll give it up, as you don't like it.”

“That's not a good reason. You read your Bible before you go to bed, Swallow, do you not ?”

“Yes; sometimes. Not always, though.”

“That's the truth at all events; you could not tell a falsehood about that, could you? Well then, have you ever

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