." -. ,
ST. JOHN'S SCHOOL,
E IC4,?J'E J 7' CT SOCalT', LON DON.
The Baldwin Library
III i lII I
FRONTISPIECE. p. 258.
Y~Pa ell noster Juioin^Ci
PEA -B L 0 S, O
SGood Master Peas-blossom, I shall duse
You of more acquaintance."
CHAPTER R L.
TRANGERS always remarked on gie
likeness between Patrick and Philip Bright
or, as they were gene~lly caUed, Pat and
Paddy; and Mr. Bright would laugh and say, "As like
as two Ps;" alluding, of course, to the initials of their
names. It was a matter of debate in the family as
to whether this time-honoured joke referred to the
likeness between the two letters "P" or to the Vegetable
production" pea" Pat inclined to the first idea, Paddy
to the last; and on one occasion Pat's arguments were
so forcible that they made a decided impression on
Paddy, that is to say, on his outer man, for he dis-
played a black eye for several days afterwards.
This should have settled the question once for all,
but the man convinced against his will is of the same
opinion still;" and if Paddy had lad as many eyes
as a peacock, you might have blackened them all
before you could have moved him to alter his obstinate
"young mind. Besides, he maintained that the black
eye was another point in his favour, for you always
find a black patch on dried peas.
It was only strangers who noticed the likeness; the
other members of the Bright family declared that there
was not the very faintest resemblance between them;
but Molly: used to say that Pat was not the least like
Paddy, but Paddy was just a wee little bit like Pat:
for which very Irish remark she was teased and
laughed at by the rest without mercy, till she ap-
pealed to father, who said he thought he could see
what she meant; though it reminded him of the story
of the negro who said, Casar bery like Pompey, and
Pompey bery like Cesar, 'specially Pompey,"
The girls used to say that Pat was more of every-
thing than Paddy, and. when they were pleased with
him they. would say that he was taller, older, stronger,
cleverer, had bluer eyes, more curly hair, could run
faster, ump higher, skate better, had more fun in
him --was -altogether, in one. comprehensive word,
jollier a" Paddy. When, however, he had done
anything-to displease them--such, for example, as
putting a frog into Molly's bed, or fastening one of
Nora's plaits to the back, of the chair with cobbler's
war when she was absorbed in a fairy tale, or dressing
up a ghost on the dark landing to frighten Peter as he
went up to bed-on these occasions they would say
he was ruder, rougher, horrider, tiresomer, teasinger,
and disagreeabler, than Paddy; and nurse would add,
"More owdacious and mischievious."
TWO PS. 3
But, on the whole, the Bright family generally agreed
that happiness could not be spelt without two p's, and
that if P" stood for plague it also quite as often stood
Some of my readers have already made the acquaint-
ance of the two P's and the rest of the Bright family;
but to those who have not, I must explain that there
was no mother to be the head and centre of every.
thing at Kilburn Lodge, to make happy days happier
and dull days brighter, to dry away tears and charm
away naughtiness, to listen, and comfort, and advise.
She had died when little Peter was born; and Mr.
Bright often thought sadly, when he joined in the
prayer for fatherless children in the Litany, that the
motherless children need pity and prayers quite as
It was only on Sundays that they had their father
with them either, for he was in Loridon all the week,
working hard in his office.
Not long before this story begins he had had very
heavy losses, and had been obliged to give up his com-
fortable London house, and much of the pleasant ease
in which they had lived hitherto, and take a cottage
in the country for the children, while he had to devote
himself, morning, noon, and night, to hard drudgery
to earn their bread and butter, and to renounce all
thought of the dignified ease and comfort that was
formerly his hope for his advancing years.
It was no small matter providing bread and butter
for all those hungry mouths, as Honor could tell you,
as she adds up the indistinct figures in the baker's book
and sighs over the total, which no adding up will make
Honor is only sixteen, and nurse says will never
be a good housekeeper if she lives to be sixty; but
she does her best, and no one can do better than that,
and even that severe critic allows that she might do
worse; and father smiles on Saturday night at the
neat account-books. and anxious, young face, and says
that there never was such a manager as his little girl.
I am afraid that, in spite'of her best endeavours,
Honor's management would not be so successful if
nurse were not behind the scenes, who had all the
children in that-warm Irish heart of hers, and would
give the last drop of her life's blood for them. She
had loved, and scolded, and tyrannised over them in
their prosperous days, and now, in their adversity,
she loves them better than ever, and scolds them
more, and tyrannises worse, and does all the work of
the house in a masterly manner, which is the surprise
and admiration of other households, where the servants
do their work with their hands and not with their
hearts, Ad the mistress has not the little key of love
among the other.keys on her bunch.
There is also a certain Aunt Bell behind the scenes,
who is always ready to help and advise Honor in any
difficulty which is beyond nurse's powers. She had
lived with them after their mother died till she
married John Keith, just before they left London,
before Mr. Bright's troubles came to a climax.
When the crash came, Mr. Keith offered a cottage
belonging to him at Hinton, close-to the Grove, where
TWO P'S 5
he and Aunt Bell lived, and Mr. Bright gladly availed
himself of the offer, feeling it a great comfort to settle
the children again under the kindly wing of Aunt Bell.
Besides Honor there were Brian, Pat, Paddy, Molly,
Nora, and Peter-seven all told.
Brian was away in Italy with Colonel Wilmott, act-
ing as tutor to his little boy, and studying art in a
studio at Naples, having a great talent for drawing.
He was older than Honor, but all the others were
younger, and Peter, the youngest, was only six.
Pat and Paddy went every morning into Mudford
into the Grammar School there, and were notback till
five in the evening, except on Saturdays, which were
It was a good thing for Honor that the boys were
so much away during the week, for she might have
found it hard work to keep anything like order without
father or Brian to hold the unruly spirits in check;
and she was inclined to dread holiday-time, which not
only kept the boys at home every day and all day, but
entirely upset Molly, Nora, and Peter, who at other
times were not hard to manage. John Keith was a
great comfort at these times, and Honor hailed the
sound of his whistle outside, or the sight of his cheery
face at the window, as a godsend when the home waters
were .getting troubled, and her hand seemed too weak
to guide the unruly bark.
John Keith would take off the boys to cricket-
matches, or fishing, or boating, or rabbit-shooting, or to
a meet of the fox-hounds. He always seemed to have
something delightful to propose, which pleased the
boys and kept them out of mischief, and did not
seem to bother himself at all.
The term "boys" in hohday time was always
understood to include Molly and Nora and Peter; and
it was a great relief to the anxious little head of the
household to see the whole crew, always including
Don and half-a-dozen dogs of Mr. Keith's, set off on
one of those expeditions, with a vast deal of noise and
laughter and running back to fetch forgotten sticks or
whips, and shouting back messages when they were
far out of hearing.
"It's very good of you, you know!" Honor would
say to John Keith, in her odd, awkward way; but
I wish you wouldn't bother yourself with them. I
don't see why you should be plagued, and they do
well enough at home;" which sounds ungracious if
you cannot see Bonor's wistful little face,' and her
great, speaking, grateful eyes.
"Very good fiddlesticks John Keith would answer
with his jolly laugh. "It's very good of the boys to
undertake to row me down to Mudford on this broiling
day; an -they have promised not to upset the boat if'it
can possibly be avoided. All right, Honor Bright.
Don't you worry that wise, little head, but be off to
Aunt Bell, and make hay' while the sun shines, and no
one can say it don't shine to-day. Here, Molly, hold
the umbrella over me quick I'm fainting !"
MUD-LARKS AND MUD-PIES.
S UT the sun did not shine much during the few
first weeks at Kelburn Lodge, for it was at
Michaelmas that the Brights came there.
Happily, holidays do not last for ever, and when term
had once begun life at Kelburn Lodge became less
turbulent; Honor could yield her rod of office with
more composure; Molly and Nora returned to eivilised
habits, dolls, and bead-work, beguiling Peter with them
in spite. of his superior sex and the manly contempt he
showed towards such things when Pat and Paddy
were present; and those two heroes went off with a
rush at eight o'clock in the morning, and did not
return till after five o'clock in the evening.
For Mudford was five miles from Kelburn Lodge,
that is to say, along the turnpike-road, though by
going across country you can save nearly half-a-mile
at severe expense to your clothes. I need not say,
that for the first week or so, Pat and Paddy always
went to school as the crow flies, which happy bird
has no elbows to its jacket or knees to its trousers,
and sails serenely over brambles and quickset; but at
the end of that time Mr. Bright forbade any more
short-cuts to school, and enjoined that Mudford should
be reached every day by the high road: for nurse,
8 PEA S-BL OSSOM
with speechless indignation, brought some much
dilapidated garments to be inspected; and Honor,
though doing her best to screen the delinquents, was
bound to confess that a certain Latin grammar had
been reduced to its present bloated, pulpy appearance
by having been dropped into the river one morning
on the way to school, and there not being time to fish
it out, had lain soaking there, for the instruction of little
roach with a thirst for learning, till the boys had rescued
it on their way home. But when it further transpired
that the boys had swum across the river one morning
when they found that part of the old foot-bridge had
been carried away by. a flood, and had gone on to
school in their wet clothes, and had sat in them all
day-" as was enough," as nurse said, "to give one
the rheumatics even to think of"--Mr. Bright pro-
nounced sentence against the short-cut. without any
recommendation to mercy, and all the more forcibly for
a violent fit of coughing from Paddy, which he had
tried to restrain till he was nearly black in the face,
and which burst out all the louder for his efforts at
repression; for father and nurse and Honor, too,'had
had a terror of coughs ever since the doctor had de-
clated Brian's lungs delicate, and had urged his going
to a warmer climate for the winter; and though no one
could have suspected Paddy of anything amiss with
his lungs, that unlucky cough of his was a powerful
argument against the field way to Mudford.
There were, however, advantages even on the turn-
pike-road, and it was not often that the boys walked
the whole five miles without getting a lift for, at any
MUD-LARKS AND MUD-PIES. 9
rite, part of the way; and as they were not particular
in their choice of carriage they were easily suited,
and sometimes entered lIudford in John Keith's
high dog-cart, behind his thoroughbred "Blinkbonnie,"
or in Miss Vincent's little basket-work pony-carriage,
driving her pink-eyed, lazy pony, with white reins;
or clinging on to the brake in which Sir John Gale's
coachman was exercising two lively carriage horses,
which seemed td prefer going entirely on their hind
feet, or backwards; or in one of Farmer Blossom's
great yellow waggons, with a team of fat horses, with
bells jingling on their heads; or in widow Wick's
donkey cart, with free leave "to wallop the critter "
as much as they pleased; or best of all, on a road-
engine, getting very black in the face and hands during
On Friday, being Mudford market-day, they were
sure of a lift in some of the farmer's gigs and carts;
and every morning, if they were in good time, Webb's
milk-cart would pick them tp at the corner, and take
them all the way into Mudford.
Mudford Grammar School stands close to the old
parish church; so close that the great bells shake the
dormitories with their vibrations, and wake little new
comers to remember, with a shudder, how near the
churchyard, with its old tombs and grassy mounds,
lies. The school-house, where the master, Mr. Radley,
lives, is in front facing the church, and is a long, low,
red-brick building, thickly covered in parts with ivy
and Virginia creeper. It is built on a lower level
than the church, for Mudford is on the side of a steep
'hill, and the church is nearly at the top; and so if
you want to reach Mr. Radley's front door you have
to go down several /steps from the churchyard and a
steep bit of garden, down which the water rushes
in a cataract on wet days.
But this is not the way that ,Pat or Paddy or any
of the day-boys go, for the large school-room out behind
has an entrance from Paul Street, and only the boarders
are free to come in by the churchyard.
SMudford School was not a very first-class school
by'any means, and before Mr. Radley's time it had
reached a very low ebb; but the present master was
a clever, pushing man and a good scholar, and under
his management the school rapidly improved, the
numbers largely increased, especially the boarders,
and a higher class of boys attended. So Mr. Bright
was content to place Pat and Paddy there; and
MUD-LARKS AND MUD-PIES. I1
though the boys growled and grumbled, and made fun
of it all at first, they soon shook down into their right
places, which, as far as Pat was concerned, seemed to
be in the thick of all the mischief, from which happy
situation Paddy also was never far distant.
There was something about Pat Bright that marked
him out, even at first sight, as a ringleader-a certain
twinkle in the corner of his eye, and a way he held
his head, and an odd little cock of his nose, as if he
could smell a bit of fun a hundred miles off Nurse
used to say, with half-aggravated pride, "He don't
want no label to mark him 'Pickle,' Master Pat
don't!" So when he made his first appearance at
Mudford School, though he came primed with good
resolutions, having had a severe lesson not long before
at Saltgate, and repeated exhortations from father
and Aunt Bell, there was quite a stir among the boys,
and quite an excitement to know which party, they
would join, as the new boys would evidently not be
weak fellows either as friends or foes; for even in the
small world of Mudford School party-spirit ran high.
So at dinner-time that first-day all the boarders, and a
good party of the day-boys, gathered round the
Brights, and one of the biggest boys enquired,-
Hullo! you chaps are you Pies or Larks ?"
Paddy stared; but Pat, supposing this was some
obscure joke on their names, from which he had
suffered much at King's College, at once responded
by turning up his sleeves and inviting his questioner
to Come on!"
"Now then, young Bantam! said another, "there's
nothing to fight about: we want to know which side
you're going to take ?"
"Under which king, Bezonian ? Speak or die!"'
"Oh, bother it all !" said Pat, still rather red in the
face. "I don't know what you chaps are driving at
with your pies and puddings."
A shout of laughter from the day-boys received this
remark; but just then the dinner-bell rang and the
other day-boys ran off, while Pat and Paddy, who
lived too far off to go home to dinner, followed the
others into the dining-room, where their minds were
enlightened on the important subject of Pies and Larks.
Twelve boys of Mudford were entitled to be educated
at the Grammar School at a mereljr nominal charge,
and these were most of them sons of small tradesmen
or the clerks at the factories. Even when the few
boarders at the Grammar School had been farmer's sons
from .the neighbourhood, little, if at all, superior in
position to the day-boys, there had been a feud be-
tween boarders and day-boys; but as the school im-
proved, and the boarders became mostly gentlemen's
sons, the difference between them became more marked,
and the animosity greater, till it had reached a high
pitch at the time my story begins.
The day-boys had been nicknamed Mud-larks." as
a term of contempt drawn from the name of the town
and the little dirty river Mud, that crawls along at the
bottom of the hill; and they had retaliated by calling
the boarders Mud-pies ;" and these two names, after
having been bandied about and treated on either side
MUD-LAT RKS AND MUD- PIE 7. 3
as direst insult, and avenged by many a fight in the
corner of the playground, out of sight of Mr. Radley's
windows, were adopted by the parties themselves, and
treated as terms of distinction of which they were very
Now Pat and Paddy being day-boys, of course, natur-
ally belonged to the Mud-lark party,. but as they
were to dine at school they occupied a sort of doubtful
position, and so were free to cast in their lot with either
side. Parties were pretty equally divided just then, as
there were twenty "Pies" and nineteen Larks."
"If the Pies were superior in rank and manners
the "Larks" had decidedly the advantage in brute force
and intellect; for Joe Wilkinson, the cheese-factor's
son, a great, strong-built fellow, could have fought all
the "Pies" with one hand, and beat them quite as easily
at Greek and Euclid; which, as the Pies said, will
be no earthly good to a fellow who only wants to pick
maggots out of cheese all his life."
"I say, you'd best throw up your caps for the 'Pies,'"
said Millet, who was sitting next Pat; we have no
end of fun, and those 'Larks' are such shocking cads.
Why, I've seen that great brute, Wilkinson, playing
marbles in High Street with the baker's boy !"
You don't say so!" said Pat. "And who
won ? "
Millet passed over this very irrelevant inquiry, to
dwell on the advantages enjoyed by the 'Pies;' and
his eloquence was such that, when the school assembled
after dinner, Pat and Paddy declared themselves 'Pie'
to the backbone, much to the disappointment of the
'Larks,' who had reckoned on a reinforcement of their
"Christmas is coming soon," said Wilkinson," and
we'll make mince-pie of you."
"Come and try," said Pat.
CAP A PIE.
~'0" said Pat; "I'm not particular as to my
clothes A grunt full cf meaning occurred
here from nurse, who had been called in to
the consultation. My worst enemy can't accuse me of
that." Here he examined his elbow, which was frayed
out, and gazed at a button with a leaden rim showing
round the edge. But I won't make myself a figure of
fun to please old Radley. Talk of Pies! it's more like
The family at Kelburn Lodge were gathered round
the table, on which lay two new trencher-caps, such as
were worn by the boys at Mudford School, with long,
glossy silk tassels, which Molly stroked gently from
time to time.
I don't see why you should object," said Honor.
"The men at Oxford and Cambridge always wear
them." And she sighed, thinking how gladly Brian
would have worn the cap and g3wn.
"I daresay," went on Pat; "and so do those cads
at the Commercial School, that we used to have such
mills with up in Regent's Park. If I've set one of
these trenchers floating on the water up there, I've set
a dozen; and now in my old age I'm to be called upon
to wear the thing myself! "
"Mr. Vincent wears one on Sunday going to church,"
said Molly, who was impressed with the effect of learn-
ing and scholarship conveyed by the sharp corners and
"Oh, yes! and a chestnut wig to keep his sermon
from coming out in steam from the top of his bald head,
which I don't require."
"It's not so bad as a Bluecoat boy," said Nora.
Well, upon my word," said Pat, I think I'd as soon
clap on a pair of yellow stockings and take to petti-
coats at once!"
"It's no use making a fuss about it," remarked Honor,
rather rashly; "you'll have to wear it, so you must
make the best of it."
I ',' <6
"And your old one isn't fit for a scarecrow,"
added nurse. Not since--Now, Master Pat,
For one of the trencher-caps had suddenly found
CAP A PIE., 17
its way on to her own head, on the top of her crisp
muslin cap and blue ribbons.
I never did see such an owdacious--"
And here nurse retired, flustered and ruffled in cap
and temper, to her own domain, the kitchen, while
Molly and Nora tried on. the caps, and went up to see
the effect in the looking-glass in their bedroom, and
came to the conclusion that with these valuable stage
properties they might very well get up the trial. scene
in the Merchant of Venice, with Molly for.Portia
and Nora for Nerissa; for what could. be more appro-
priate for the costume of a doctor'of law in old Venice
than these same trencher-caps ?
Meanwhile Honor, very unwisely, was trying to bring
Pat to reason, which was something like-trying to drive
a pig over a plank, which Honor might have known
by experience is only to be done by pulling the pig
violently by the tail in the opposite direction. She
ought also. to have been suspicious of Pat's submissive
way of listening to. her remarks, though, indeed, she did
feel a little uneasy when he .asked if she thought he
might wear it to-church on. Sunday if he was a good
boy, and whether he might have -the family umbrella,
called the camel," on account of two humps, to take
to school, as it would be such a pity if the, cap got in-
jured by the rain.
However, she thought no more of it till the next
morning, not even. when Pat looked in at the dining:
room window and gave her a military salute with un-
fathomed mischief in it; and it was only when break-
fast was over and she was going up to visit Paddy, who
was in bed nursing that cough ,of his, that she saw
that the two trenchers were still hanging side by side
in the passage.
"Maybe he'll have forgotten it," Said nurse.
But Honor shook her head, remembering the mili-
tary salute. Neither was she to be deluded by Pat's
excuses and apologies when he came home in the
Next morning she was more on the alert; and when
Pat leaped up from his breakfast, with his mouth full
of bread and butter, exclaiming, "Murther! if it's not
eight o'clock! she said, in as dignified a manner as
she could assume-
"Don't forget your cap, Pat."
Pat put on the voice of extreme old age.
"Me poor memory's not what it was, me dear:
thanking ye kindly for reminding a poor old body."
The next moment he put his head into the door
again with an insinuating smile-
Honor ashore may I just step up into your bed-
room to see how my back hair sets under this arrange-
"It's past eight, Pat."
SAll right! I'll go into Mudford like greased light-
ning when once I've got under way. Weigh, bless you!
if there's only a favourable wind, I'l be blown in as
easy as eggs with such a thundering great top-gallant
jibboom on my head."
,' You'll be late :"
It's notmy fault. Unaccustomed as I am to fancy
dress, I might disgrace my family by appearing with
CAP A PIE. 19
this interesting object upside down or wrong side in
Make haste, then."
And Pat went clattering upstairs, and they heard
him moving about in the room overhead.
"Is he gone ?" Honor asked presently, hearing no
I haven't heard him come down," said Nora.
I thought I heard the back-door shut just now,"
said Molly. Shall I run up and see if he's there ?"
Yes, Pat was gone sure enough; and why he had
gone so silently was only explained when nurse went
up to make the beds, and, throwing off the clothes,
found the trencher-cap in the middle of one of them,
rather bent out of shape by the weight of the blankets.
Paddy's cold was still too bad to allow of his going
out; and in return for being obliged to relinquish a
foot-ball match between the Larks and the Pies, which
came off that week, he made the most of the privileges
allowed at home to any one with a cold-laid in bed
to breakfast, sat in the arm-chair by the fire, kept
Molly and Nora always on the trot to fetch him things,
and Peter on the verge of tears with his teasing, chose
the pudding for dinner, made frizzly-jack for tea, had
black-currant jam at discretion, Aunt Bell to read to
him, and treacle-posset after he was in bed at night,
such as only nurse can make. So it was not proved
what line he would have taken about the trenchers,
for though his feelings on the subject did not seem to
be so acute as Pat's, still they generally pulled in the
Every morning that week Honor and Pat had a
skirmish over that unlucky trencher, which Molly and
Nora nicknamed the bete Inoir, and Pat called much the
same in English.
One morning it was nowhere to be found, and after
prolonged search for it on the part of Molly and Nora,
and pretended rage and despair on the part of Pat, he
had to set off without it, and almost immediately after-
wards it was found. fastened to the back of Honor's
chair as she sat at the breakfast-table.
Next day he started fair with his trencher on his
head; but he left it on the scarecrow in the field
opposite the house, where the butcher's boy found it
some hours later.
Honor was altogether in despair, but nurse was fairly
put on her mettle by this time, and was resolved that
Pat should be outwitted. So next morning every hat
CAP A PIE. 2
or cap of Pat's, Paddy's, or Peter's was carefully put
away, except the trencher-cap, which hung in solitary
state on the pegs, leaving Pat no further choice in
the matter of head-gear.
"But," as nurse said, "you must get up over-night
to- be beforehand with Master Pat." And it never
occurred to her mind to remember that on the opposite
side of the passage hung the girls' garden hats. And if
she had remembered it, how could she have imagined
it to be possible that Pat would have laid hands on
Molly's old sailor hat, hewed off the long blue ribbons
with his knife, and worn it into school and back, as
nurse said, "as natural as anything, and as impudent,
as you please!"
THE OGRE'S CASTLE.
HEN Pat came home from school that after-
noon a fresh interest had entirely taken
possession of his mind, and nurse's wrath
and Honor's reproaches were quite thrown away on
him ; as, indeed, they generally were, running off him
like water from a duck's back.
All right," he said; "I'll wear the bothering thing
,fast enough on Monday, never fear!"
"There's some trick about it, Ill be bound," grumbled
"I'd scorn the action," replied Pat, with honest
"I don't want to bother father about it," said Honor,
"It's not a bit of use either," broke in Pat; "for
if the governor were to beg and pray me on his bended
knees, with tears in his eyes, to wear my old hat, I
couldn't do it; for I have received orders special and
direct from Richard Radley, M.A., A.S.S., &c., &c.,
Head Master of Mudford School, to appear in the
character of Tom Fool on Monday."
"I wouldn't trust him, Miss Honor; he's as slippery
as a eel: that's what he is!"
"Do you think I'd disobey his riverence?" said
Pat You don't know what an angel I am at school.
THE OGRE'S CASLZE. 23
'He's too good to live,' says old Radley when I con-
strue, and Carr's sobs over the beauty of my sums are
heartrending. I'd take off my jacket to show how my
wings are sprouting, only I might catch cold or reveal
the holes in my waistcoat."
Nurse went away with a shrug of the shoulders and
some grumble about "wings of a goose more like !"
And Honor still looked very doubtful till Pat, passing
behind her chair, suddenly put an arm round her neck.
"Honour Bright! he said; which, though choking
and rumpling to the collar, was reassuring.
So nothing was said to father on the subject; and
on Monday morning both the .boys (for Paddy, had by
this time recovered) set off to school in their trencher-
caps as if it had been their habit from infancy, and
there was nothing offensive or remarkable about them;
while nurse watched them suspiciously out of the
corner of her eye till they were out of sight, and
Honor hardly dared to congratulate herself that she
had heard the last of Pat's cap till she saw it come
home in the afternoon on its owner's head. The fact
was, that Pat's head was quite full of something else,
and this new subject of interest was a certain mysteri-
ous house they passed every day on their way to
This house stood about a mile and a half out of
Mudford, on the Hinton Road, and was known to the
public by the name of "The Orchards," but.as "The
Ogre's Castle" to Pat and Paddy; and it was the
property of a certain Mr. Carrington, or Fee-fo-fum
according to the boys. There was certainly something
24 PEAS-BZ OSSOM
peculiar both about him and his house, though not
enough to account for the overwhelming curiosity of
the boys. Seven years before Pat and Paddy went
to Mudford School a strange gentleman bought the
Orchards, which for some time had stood empty. It
was not at that time an attractive house, smothered
in ivy, with very small lattice-windows, on which the
ivy encroached at every opportunity, as if it grudged
the small amount of light that found its way into the
dull, dark rooms, where the damp stood on the walls,
and a smell of the grave pervaded everything. There
Was a tidy bit of garden in front sloping down to
the road, but some great fir trees on one side kept
off the morning sun, and a row of poplars did the same
kind office by the afternoon sun on the other. Behind,
and on either side of the house, lay the orchards from
which it was named, full of gnarled old apple trees,
that were the beauty and value of the place in one.
They had been neglected as much as the rest of the
place, and, no doubt, required pruning and cutting, and
the introduction of new sorts and younger trees. But
they were very beautiful in blossoming-time all the
'same, and in autumn, too, when the boughs were laden
with rosy and russet, and golden and brown-a very
garden of Hesperides to the eyes of the. schoolboys
as they passed; and not even to be despised in winter,
with the -emerald mosses and hoary lichen on the
twisted trmnks, and mistletoe hanging from the boughs
in dainty pale green and pearly. This was how The
Orchards" was when Mr. Carrington took it; but so
it did not long continue, much -to the regret of some
THE OGRE'S CASTLE. 25:
of tne Mudford young ladies, who called it picturesque,
sometimes sketched it, and had not got to live in it.
First of all he stripped off all the ivy and knocked
out large windows for all the rooms, and put in sashes
with big panes; and when the sun had taken a good
look round the place along with the carpenters and
painters, paperers and whitewashers, the damp and
mould grew tired of the house under its new aspect,
and went off to find more picturesque quarters else-
where. Then all the elm-trees on one side of the
garden were cut down, and the fir-trees on. the other
soon shared their fate,
"He means to live in public," the Mudford people
But then he began to build a wall all along between
the road and the garden;" and very neat, too," the
Mudford people said: "much better than palings."
But the wall went on growing higher till it was ten
feet high, and shut out the house completely from
the sight of passers-by. And in this wall there was
a strong door with a bell at the side, and when one
of the Mudford ladies tried the handle of the door she
found it locked: and when she rang the bell, and told
a strange man who opened it that she had been much
interested in the alterations, and should very much
like to. walk round and see the improvements, he said
there was no admittance to any one, and shut the
door in her face, just as she was going to make a
few polite inquiries, and left her ruffled and indignant
in the road.
All round the Orchards was put a high, close,
wooden fence, ingeniously garnished along the top
with hooked nails; and in this strongly fortified
abode Mr. Carrington established himself with two old
servants, both, of them deaf and crusty in temper,
and his son br grandson, a boy about five when he
first came--a little, solemn, brown-faced, dark-eyed
creature, who was seen from time to time by the old
man's side among the fields and lanes round about
the Orchards, or with cross, old Mrs. Cann at church
This was all that was known of the mysterious, new-
fcomer, for Mr. Carrington neither paid nor received
visits on any excuse, and even avoided, if possible,
meeting people, rarely going beyond his garden and
orchards; and when he did, choosing unfrequented
paths and roads. Those who .had chanced to meet
-him reported him to be grey-haired and bent, but
seemnly more with trouble or illness than with age
for his eyes were still bright and keen, and full of a
Sglowig, restless fire, that seemed hardly to accord
with his grey head-and stooping shoulders. Of course,
'this mystery set all the tongues in Mudford and its
neighbourhood wagging violently, and various explana-
tiops were given for his conduct, most of them on
the very best authority. He was a coiner, carrying
on his unlawful business behind the high wall. He
was a lunatic with rare. lucid intervals, and surly, old
Cain was his keeper. .He was a practiser of the black
art and held communion with evil spirits and unholy
powers; and this, indeed, was why be had chosen the
Orchards, about which theie were dark stories of a
THE OGRE'S CASTLE. 27
stain of blood on one of the bedroom floors, and of a
former owner being found hanging on one of those
gnarled apple-trees, and of a moaning ghost that
walked on moonlight nights, wringing its hands in
wild lamentation. Others maintained that he was a
doctor crazed into an alchemist, and trying to find
the elixir of life or the philosopher's stone; or ie
was a criminal hiding from justice; and some even
mysteriously hinted that he was another case of the
man with the Iron Mask, and that he was t*in-
brother to the heir of some great property, and so
had to be kept in the strictest seclusion to prevent a
But seven years passed on with nothing fresh occur-
ring at the Orchards to excite remark; nothing new
was found out about Mr. Carrington, and people got
used to the mystery and found something else to talk
But to Pat and Paddy the whole affair was new
and deeply interesting: the very sight of such a high
wall with broken glass lying thickly on the top, and
those palings bristling with neils and spikes, was
enough to make it almost a point of honour to
examine further; and when added to this there were
notice-boards at each corner, announcing that tres-
passers would be prosecuted with the utrost rigour
of the law; and that ev en if you stopped for a moment
to take a look through the key-hole in the door, a
chorus of ferocious barking burst out from the other
side; it was not to be wondered at that Pat felt it was
more than any free-born Briton could stand. He could
not get half the information.he expected, and the dull
want of curiosity among the Mudford people struck him
as astonishing, as he did not remember that curiosity
is apt to languish during seven years without any food
to keep it alive. There was not one of the Pies who
knew or cared anything about the Orchards, and the
Larks were not on terms that allowed of much ex-
change of sympathy with Pat.
But this want of sympathy at school was amply
made up for by the breathless interest displayed at
home; even Honor was drawn into it -and imagined
romantic histories of this strange recluse, while Molly
and Nora had some new theory about him every
day-that he was fearfully disfigured and had no nose;
that he was like the veiled prophet of Khorassan; and
Molly was quite prepared to enact the scene when
"He raised his veil, the maid turned slowly round,
Looked at him, shrieked, and fell upon the ground."
Then they thought he might be the Wandering Jew,
passing a few quiet years at the Orchards to recruit
himself for a few centuries of travelling; or he was a
ghost who sucked the blood of little children and
haunted the churchyards on moonlight lights. Mr.
Carrington's character varied according to the books
they had been reading.
They walked over one afternoon to stare at .the
place, but found that it was decidedly disappointing,
for they lost their way in trying a short-cut across the
fields, and Peter got dreadfully tired and hurt his foot,
and Don stole a very dirty bone out of a cottage they
THE OGRE'S CASTLE. 29
passed, and tried to bite the rightful owner when she
protested against his dishonesty. And when they got
there, there was nothing to see: the wall was quite
new-looking brick, not the least ruinous or covered
with ivy as it should have been; and the door was
bright green with a bronze letter-box, instead of being
worm-eaten and studded with heavy nails and clamped
with iron, red with the rust of ages. And if you went
into the field opposite and stood on tip-toe and jumped
you could see a window with a canary cage hanging
in it, which did not seem consistent with mysterious
wickedness. There were not even any savage
barkings to be heard that afternoon, though Don
went and sniffed and blew under the green door
as if it were the most commonplace' residence in the
So they went home much disenanted, and did not
guess that two bouncing retrievers with whom Don
So they went home much disenchanted,.and did not
guess that two bouncing retrievers with whom Don
SO PEASBL OSSOM,
lad a passage of arms by the turnpike were the
Savage brutes whose hideous ravings Pat had de-
scribed, or that the boy who whistled them off was
the Ogre's grandson himself,
"Remember! Remember I
The fifth of November."
EANTIME at school Pat had thrown himself
warmly into party politics, and infused new
life into the Pies, which had been decidedly
the weaker party before the Brights joined its rank
They beat the Larks '"all to smithereens," as Pat
described it, at foot-ball-less, I am bound to say, by
skill than by good luck, and by the spirit and confi-
dence that Pat rejoiced in himself and imparted to his
friends; for the very sight of his face was enough to
discourage his enemies with a presentiment of coming
defeat. He was also ingenious in devising persecu-
tions which bid fair to make life at school intolerable
to the Larks. It was he who sent the Larks all home
from school one day in blissful ignorance that the
word "ASS was imprinted on their backs in bold
characters in white chalk; and who instituted the
solemn league and covenant by which the Pies bound
themselves to revenge every "h" that was dropped by
a Lark, by an imnpediate and severe pinch administered
to the culprit, even should it occur in lesson-time and
under Mr. Radley's very nose. He also suggested the
idea that the day-boys had no right to the playground,
and for the first few weeks hardly a day pased with-
out a tremendous struggle taking place in the half-
hour after dinner to clear the play-ground of the Larks,
who, on their side, as doggedly resisted and contested
their right to an equal share in that very dull-looking
The Pies had the decided advantage in numbers now
the Brights had joined them; but some of them were
little fellows who did not count for much, while the
Larks were mostly big and strong, and with plenty of
pluck, too, so that it was as much as Pat's stratagems
could do to get the better of them. But they had no
one among them to be compared to Pat as a leader, and
they did not know how to turn their superior force to
account; so when the school-bell rang in the afternoon
and the boys came into the school-room hot and out
of breath, with not uncommonly a torn jacket or a
black eye adorning some one, the victory generally
remained with the Pies.
What a noise those boys make!" Mrs. Radley
would say to her husband: and he would laugh and
"It's those wild Irish boys, the Brights: they are
made of mischief."
"And then he would go to a window to get a sly peep
at the fun in the play-ground, for he was an easy-
going good-tempered man, who liked an honest bit of
fun as well as any of his boys. He had taken a liking,
too, to the Brights, and especially to Pat, though he
had failed to discover the angelic qualities that Pat
had described to Honor as developing so rapidly in
him at Mudford School; and he had soon come to the
THE FIFTH OF NO VEMfBER. 3
conclusion that he and mischief were never far apart
and that when anything went wrong Pat was at the
bottom of it
The usher, Mr. Carr, more generally known as the
Car of Juggernaut," did not, by any means, shae Mr.
Radley's liking for Pat. He was a sensitive, young
man with a bad complexion, wh6 parted his hair down
the middle and played the flute dolefully, and cast
sheep's eyes at Miss Wilkinson's barley-sugar curls, and
was even accused of writing verses full of ." loves and
doves," hearts and darts," for presentation to thatA
young lady, and his temper was easily upset; so ~alto
gether he was a tempting subject .for attack from
school-boy wit, which is apt to deal hardly with the
small weaknesses of very early maahood, and, with all
his virtuous intentions, Pat could not resist the fun of
a brush now and then with old Juggernaut. For Pat
had virtuous intentions. He meant to.try his best to
get on at Mudford, and not cause any trouble or aaxiety
at home; and .sometimes even, after a serious talk with
Aunt Bell, or a word or two with father, he would
make up his mind to turn a regular "sap," and cut
cricket, football, and "larks" in general, and come
home at Christmas laden with prizes and honour, to
the surprise and delight of his proud and happy family;"
and bristling with Latin and Greek, Euclid and Alge-
bra, at every pore. Buf unfortunately for these
brilliant promises, something always happened to pre-
vent his beginning the vigorous course of application
he intended; and before he had been a month at
school, he ,suddenly found himself in such hot water
as threatened to put an untimely end to his career at
The fifth of November and its observance was the
rock'on which poor Pat so nearly came to shipwreck.
From time immemorial-that is to say, for the last two
years, since Millet had been at Mudford School-there
had been a grand display of fireworks in the play-
ground on the evening of that day, followed by a
dormitory supper. In former years party feeling had
been laid aside for the occasion, and Pies and Larks
had shaken hands over a Roman candle, and had done
their best to blow themselves up in company; which
was convenient to both parties, and especially to the
Pies, with whom pocket-money was not very plentiful
in the middle of the term, and who, being at a distance
from their families, were not able to represent their
needs so strongly and persistently as the day-boys
But this year peace with'honour was not to be hoped
for, and the Larks left the contested playground and
betook themselves to the large meadow behind Mr.
Wilkinson's cheese-store, and there prepared a mighty
bonfire, the size and splendour of which they inces-
santly trumpeted in the ears of the Pies, as also the
squibs and rockets, Catherine-wheels and Roman-
candles, they were going to provide, till the Pies were
almost in despair, and could hardly keep up the out-
ward show of contempt and superiority with which
they tried to conceal their envy.
Pat and Paddy, with whom pocket-money was a
rare thing, could contribute nothing but enthusiasm,
THE FIFTH OF NO MEMBER. 35
which does not go for much in this iatter-of-fact
age. They had also much experience of producing
wonderful effects with damped gunpowder, and blue
fire, and gun-cotton: effects which were never exactly
what was expected. And they were also willing to
singe their eyebrows and damage: their clothes to any
But the Pies would have fared badly if John Keith
had not come to the rescue. He would not have
known the straits they were in (for it was a point of
honour with the boys not. to ask him or Aunt Bell
for anything), if he had not noticed Paddy's longing
eyes fixed on his powder-flask when he looked in
at Kelburn Lodge one day, en his way home from
I'll take you and Pat out shooting rabbits in the
Christmas holidays," he said;
But even this delightful proposal did not bring the
complete satisfaction that might have been expected.
"Well, what now ?"
What is it, Molly "
"Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gun-
powder, treason, and plot," said Molly.
"Oh, that's it, is it?" said John Keith. "Squibs and
Pharaoh's serpents, and bad smells and no eyelashes
-eh, Paddy ?"
"No chance," said Paddy, ruefully.
And then a few more- questions drew out the
melancholy state of affairs; and the result was the
arrival next day of a box full of all manner of inter-
eating and wonderful-looking objects, in blue and
striped papers, with a pervading smell of lucifer
matches and excitement: a box which, had it been
full of books, would have been a sore burden to Pat and
Paddy to carry the five miles into Mudford, but which,
as it was, seemed no weight at all, and even to make
the distance shorter.
Molly and Nora and Peter very much regretted the
departure of the box, and tried to persuade Pat that it
would be much better to have the fireworks at home;
but they were consoled by being allowed to choose a
small Catherine-wheel each out of the box; and with
these and a pennyworth of red fire they prepared to have
a display over the duck-pond, which was to rival the
Crystal Palace in splendour, while nurse was much
relieved to see Mr. Keith's present carried off safely,
before they had all been blown to shivers."
The excitement among the Pies as the fifth ap-
proached waxed furious; for besides John Keith's
ample gift, one or two more contributions had dropped
in, and Mr. Radley himself gave some large Roman
candles and a balloon, and announced his intention of
witnessing the display from the schoolroom window,
with Mrs. Radley and his little girl; and with immense
labour the letters "R. R." were formed in little oil
lamps against the wall, which was to be lighted as a
finale with Catherine-wheels spinning above, below,
and on each side of it.
The Larks' bonfire sank into utter insignificance
compared to this.
But the fireworks were not the only grand event of
THE FIFTH OF NO VIEMBER. g
the night, or the one which required the most preparar
tion beforehand, or made the greatest demand on pocket
money. The feast in the dormitory was. talked of and
planned for weeks, and some of the delicacies to be
enjoyed on that occasion were even kept hoarded up
from the hampers of good thing that the boys brought&
back with them at Michaelmas,
But this year there was a fresh element of difficulty
in the matter, for Pat and Paddy both declared their
intention of being present at the banquet, let the con-
sequences be what they might. Amy one but the
Brights might have been daunted by the difficulties
in the wpay--the five miles between KlburI Lodge
and Mudford, the necessary explanatims at hob e,
and the necessary concealment at school, for the feat
was conducted altogether without the knowledge of
the higher powers. But where tbhre's a will there's a
way, and Pat and-Paddy's will to go to the feast was
beyond all doubt.
They examined the scene of action carefully, to devise
some means of getting in and out, but it was, decidedly
unpromising. The two dormitories were over the school-
room, leading one out of the other, with two windows
looking into Paul Stieet and two into the playground at
the side. The staircase led up from the passage between
the schoolroom and the master's house, and Mr. Carr had
little room at the top of the stairs, the dco: of which
was close to the dormitory door, and either he or Mr.
Radley went round every night at half-past nine to see
that they were all snug in bed, and to turn out the gas
and then the key was turned in the lock and the boys
were supposed to be safely disposed of till the next
Mr. Carr was accustomed to make use of this time of
freedom to practise the flute in the deserted schoolroom
-a most irritating process to all the boys in the rooms
above, but simply torture to those afflicted with a musical
ear, who listened shuddering for the eighth note in
"Home, sweet Home," which always brought the tune
to an end with a bray.
Various devices had been invented for conveying their
disapproval of this serenade-violent knocking on the
floor with hair-brushes, loud renderings of the same
touching air through combs; but with no avail. Pat
would not have stood it for a couple of nights; but,
happily for Mr. Carr's musical ambition, Pat was not one
of the number of sleepers in the dormitories, and only
had one opportunity of hearing his performance of
"Home, sweet Home," with variations, when there was
so much noise going on in the dormitories above that he
did not pay much attention to the noise below.
"It's no go!" said Millet: there's no getting in or
out of those old dormitories."
But Pat was not so easily discouraged, though the
windows were all a long way from the ground, and pro-
vided with stout bars along the lower part. As soon as
he got home he laid siege to nurse, and tried a good
dose of blarney, that never failed to find its way to
nurse's Irish heart, in order to prevail on her to make a
cake for him-a downright good one, with plenty of
plums in it; not "a jumping cake," which, in the
Bright family, was meant to convey that the plums
THE FIFTH OF NO VEMBER. 3S
were so far apart that you had to jump from one to the
Honor being housekeeper had also to be cajoled; but
this was not a work of such difficulty, and when both
she and nurse were favourably inclined, there was a
good chance of the cake being supplemented by a few
apple-turnovers, or even some jam-tarts.
"But, Pat," said Honor, I don't see what you want
them for, if Mr. Radley has asked you to tea," for Mr.
Radley had invited the boys to tea on the fifth, in
order that they might be present at the fireworks.
"Well, you see," explained Pat, "there's to be a
supper after the fireworks, that old Radley has nothing
to do with, and all the boys bring something."
But you're not going to stop for that ?" said Honor.
"Remember what a long way you have to come home."
Oh, we're not coming home," said Pat, composedly;
"we're going to sleep there."
"At the school ?"
Yes, there's plenty of room in the dormitories."
"Did Mr. Radley ask you ? Are you sure it's all
"Right as a trivet."
"I wonder he didn't write to father."
Well, you ,see," said Pat, "he mayn't have known
that Paddy and I wear pinafores at home, and go out
in a perambulator, and always 'sit in high chairs with
a stick to keep us from falling out, and have a coral
and bells to amuse us."
"Well," said Honor, I must say it's a comfort that
you won't have that long walk late at night; and nurse
will put up your brushes and things in a bag for you
"All right," said Pat, "the less we take the less we
Shall have to lose; so we had better be, like the fox and
cock, who took a brush and comb between them into
HE fireworks were a brilliant success, and fizzed,
and banged, and sputtered to every one's
heart's content A guy was rigged up for the
occasion with a cheerfully smiling, healthy red face, at
the top of a terribly distorted and decrepit body; and
Pat insisted on a trencher-cap crowning the whole, and
generously offered his own rather than that Guy should
go uncapped: which noble offer was rendered needless
by the unearthing of an old battered affair in the knife-
house, which Pat adorned with a Catherine-wheel at
Great anxiety was felt during lesson-time at a slight
tendency to rain, which produced a marked effect on
the construing, which did not resemble the fireworks
in brilliancy; but, happily, the clouds cleared off, and,
except for a slight obstinacy in the lamps in R. R" to
light, there was nothing to complain, of.
Mr. Radley suggested that there ought to have been
a third R." for arithmetic as he concluded the two
others stood for reading and writing ; but that he sup-
posed they thought any allusion to the subject might
be painful after the grievous display over the decimals
I am afraid the Pies were not possessed of sufficient
generosity not to be a little elated at the rumour, that
came into the play-ground, that the monster Lark bon-
fire was a failure, as the wood was green and damp,
and persistently gave forth volumes of smoke and
scarcely any flame. So the Pies shouted the louder as
their rockets flew and their Catherine-wheels whizzed,
and Guy writhed and crackled at the stake, still smiling
good-naturedly from among the flames, and Mr. Radley's
little girl clapped her hands, and little Miss Pink, who
had one window overlooking the play-ground, shivered
and gasped with fear at the sparks flying hither and
thither, and the smell of gunpowder and smoke, and
kept her goloshes on all the evening, in order to be ready
to run at a moment's notice to. fetch the fire-engine;
"though," as she said, what is the good of that, with
Jones most likely drunk at the 'Horse-shoe,' with the
key of the engine-house in his pocket ?" And she
sniffed and choked even in her sleep, with her vivid
dreams of conflagration, even though she had a large
watering-pot and two cans full of water at the bottom
of her bed quite handy.
Have the Brights to go all the way out to Kelburn
Lodge to-night?" said Mrs. Radley. "We might have
found them a bed here very well; but I suppose their
friends would be frightened if they did not make their
It is to be hoped," answered Mr. Radley, with a
laugh, that their friends are not troubled with nerves,
or those two pickles must lead them a sad life. They
are brimful of mischief, especially the eldest. But I'll
go and see if they would like to sleep here. Moreover,
'POOR PUSS. 4-
i fancy there's something brewing in the dormitory to-
night, from sundry signs and tokens" (which showed
that Mr. Radley was not so blind as his pupils fondly
imagined), and I've no doubtrthose Bright boys would
like to be in the thick of the fun;" which showed that
Mr. Radley did not rightly understand the nature of
those Bright boys, which was to get into the thick of
the fun without any one's assistance.
But when Mr. Radley reached the play-ground, where
the last spark of coloured fire had died away, and the
last lamp in the tail of the last R was flickering pre-
paratory to going out, the Brights were gone. He
might have known it by there being just half the noise.
"Where are the Brights, Millet ?"
"Gone, sir !"
"Have they been gone long ?"
SNo; only just this minute. They said it" was
getting late, and their home is five miles off."
Quite right," said the master; "quite right: but I
was going to say they might sleep here if they liked."
Shall I run after them, sir ? They can only just
be round the corer."
"No; it's not worth while to do that, as they have
Oh, I say, what a jolly sell!" said Millet, when
the master was out of hearing. We might have saved
all the bother of hiding if we'd only known five minutes
"For meanwhile Pat and Paddy had indeed gone,
but only upstairs, and were, as Millet said, just round
the corner; but it was the corner by the dormitory
44 PEAS-BL OSSOM.
door. They had gone out with much clatter, and had
shut the door out into Paul Street with a bang, leaving
themselves, however, inside, and had then stolen back
very cautiously along the passage, and up the stairs to
the dormitory. Once there, they considered themselves
safe, at any rate, till nine, when Joe came up to light
the ga"; but there were nearly two hours before that
would happen-two hours of dullness and security be-
fore they need hide. But they were reckoning without
their host, for as they entered one dormitory they saw,
to their horror, light shining from the door of the inner
one, and heard steps approaching. They beat a retreat
as quickly and silently as they could, but at the bottom
of the stairs they heard Mr Radley's voice; so the only
escape left to them was into Mr Carr's room, the door
of which was partly open. In they went, and stood
holding their breath while the steps came nearer, and
the light shone brighter through the crack of the door.
It was one of the maid-servants, who had been watch-
ing the fire-works from one of the bedroom windows,
and she stopped outside Mr Carr's door and listened,
having evidently heard some unusual noise.
"Puss, puss, puss!" she said, and pushed the door
a little further open, and then was passing on, appar-
ently satisfied that she had made a mistake and that
there was nothing there, when Pat, unable to resist
the temptation, gave vent to a lond, -long-drawn-out
"' Me-a-aw," bearing the very faintest real resemblance
to a cat's ordinary tone of voice. However, Mary Anne
was not discriminating, and she stopped and called
again, "Puss, puss! poor pussy! where are you ?"
POOR PUSS. 45
Paddy nudged Pat to be quiet, but could not prevail
on him to repress a second loud, coarse Meaw;" at the
sound of which Mary Anne turned back, and pushing
open Mr Carr's door peered in, holding the candle up
high above her head.
"Puss, puss!" Out went the candle with a dexterous
puff from Paddy, while Pat flicked his handkerchief
against Mary Anne's petticoats as if the cat were brush-
ing past her in escape. It was well imagined, but Mary
Anne had not lived six months in a boys' school without
learning by bitter experience the ingenuity of her tor-
mentors. So after the first Mercy on us !" and Oh !
my goodness! and retreat to the top of the stairs, she
recovered herself sufficiently to suspect a trick of "those
It's some of you young gents up to some of your
games again as didn't ought to be up in the dormitories
at all, leave alone Mr Carr's room as ain't allowed,
jumping out and frightening any one into fits pretty
The boys hesitated for a minute as to what course
they should pursue, but when Pat heard her fumbling
with a match-box and preparing to strike a light, they
came to the conclusion that a bold line of action was
the best policy, and Pat said, Hullo, Mary Anne! is
that you ? Have you got a candle there ? Do come
and give us a light to find the old brute of a cat."
Oh, it's you, Master Carol, ain't it ? I thought I
heard a cat about somewhere. However could it have
got up here ? It's Miss Pink's old Boney, I'll warrant,
as is always scambling about. These 'orrid matches
won't light !"
Here,let me have a go," said Pat : "we'll give the old
beggar a lesson not to come here again, as sure as my
name's Carol." And he went on rubbing away with the
wrong ends of the matches till Mary Anne's patience
. was quite exhausted, and she proposed stepping down
to light the candle at the gas in the passage: but this
was not at all Pat's wish.
"There's enough light from the windows to catch the
old ruffian," he said. "There he goes! catch him!
.Don't lethim go I I've got him! Poke him out!" And
therewith began a most vigorous and animated hunt
after the imaginary cat, under and over beds, behind
doors, from one room to another and back again, pushing
Mary Anne about, and calling to her to lay hold and
"look alive," till Mary Anne got quite out of breath and
:bewildered, and could almost have declared that she
POOR PUSS. 47
could see, by the dim light of the gas-lamp outside the
window in Paul Street, the creature that the two boys
were pursuing so energetically, and she never doubted
that the meaws that arose when the supposed Master
Carol was in the neighbourhood were the real exclama-
tions of a four-legged cat in fur and whiskers.
S If it had not been for fear of some one hearing th'e
noise and bringing a light to bear on the scene, Pat and
Paddy thought it was an uncommonly good bit of fun
and would have liked to keep it up longer; but every
minute was a risk, so the imaginary cat was allowed at
last to escape down stairs, and the boys charged down
after it and along the passage out into the play-ground,
while Mary Anne followed more slowly and, tired of the
pursuit, turned off the other way into the kitchen,
Fortune favours the brave, so the boys met no one
in the passage, and after a few minutes made their
way back stealthily, and took up a safe position in the
inner dormitory, ready to creep under a bed when Joe
came up to light the gas; where they remained un-
molested, while the real Carol was much mystified when
they went into prayers by Mary Anne's nods and winks,
and by a whispered remark about that "'orrid cat;"
which he was disposed to think was some obscure piece
of personal rudeness, till he went up to bed and Pat
explained the mystery.
4 UST listen to those boys Mrs Radley said
that evening as Mr. Carr got up at half-
past nine for his usual tour of inspection
in the dormitories.
SThe gunpowder has got into their heads," answered
her husband. I will go up myself, Carr, and take a
look round. You will hear what a wonderful calm will
ensue in the hubbub when they hear my step on the
stairs, and a cough outside the door is enough to send
them all sound asleep and snoring."
It was just as he expected; nothing could be more
peaceful than the dormitory as he passed through it:
bat though he respected the reality of the powerful
mnoe ha issued from Carols bed, he did not guess that
'th wrmppeaap figure from which it proceeded was
really Pat B3right with all his cloths on. Nor did he
o~Jrve a stcange motion about Millet's bed, which
g~l8ally tilted up on its front legs, till, when the gas
was out, it was standing so erect that Millet could hardly
keep in-a peculiarity which might have been set
down, to an earthquake, or to some spiritual agency, by
innocent observers who did not know that two boys
There was not the same difficulty about striking a
MORE FIRE WORKS. 49
light when Mr. Radley left the room as there had been
with Mary Anne and Pat, and candles soon flamed and
guttered in all directions; for the gas was not available,
being kept rigidly under lock and key.
The banquet was spread in the inner dormitory, as
being farthest away from the master's house and Mr.
Carr's room, and principally over the passage and
entrance-lobby; for although the boys began by taking
off their boots, and creeping about on tiptoe, and. speak-
ing in whispers, they knew these precautions were not
likely to last very long with twenty-two boys all to-
gether in one room, and one of these'Pat-so they chose
the room where the noise was least likely to be heard.
There was such a display of good things -on Carol's
bed, which was chosen for"the banqueting-board, as you
might not see in many a long day. Grub of all sorts
and shapes, heaped .in tempting profusion on pieces of
paper, which the inequalities of the bed relieved from
all appearance of stiffness or sour precision, causing the
jam-tarts to mix in friendly fashion with th. sausages,
and Pat's cake to jostle the pork-pie, and the ginger-
bread nuts and shrimps to join company; but, after
11, they were none of them the worse, and were not
eaten with any less relish. Nor had drinkables been
forgotten; for a perfect regiment of ginger beer and
lemonade bottles stood on the washing-stand, and a
deadly-looking bottle of British sherry from the grocer's,
which was Millet's contribution to the feast, and which
was regarded with respectful admiration by the other
boys. And it was only Pat who had the honesty to
confess after the first sip that he didn't mind if he never
tasted it again, thank you; and when once the ice was
broken the others agreed emphatically that it was
"beastly." And even Millet thought the same in his
heart of hearts, though he would not allow it, and
persisted in drinking it to the end, even to the sediment
at the bottom; remarking that he supposed the other
fellows were not accustomed to wine at home, and that
the "muddy tub's swipes they got at dinner was more
in their line. But he was very sick next morning, which
he set down most unfairly to Pat's cake, or to having
eaten bloater paste spread upon the same, which cer-
tainly was sufficient to upset any one. For the great
deficiency in the feast was bread, which seemed such a
dull thing to provide that none of the boys would stoop
to it, and yet was necessary to the thorough enjoyment
of either shrimps, sausages, or bloater paste. The other
deficiencies were not so important, as ingenuity was
able to remedy them. As, for instance, the difficulty of
getting the corks out of the bottles without a corkscrew;
for though Pratt had one of those wonderful knives
bristling with blades, scissors, toothpicks, gimlets,
tweezers, screw drivers, and such like dangerous
weapons, and among them a corkscrew, that useful im-
plement gave way at the very first cork: so the others
had to be jobbed out with knives, which led to several
severe cuts, or poked in, which gave a decidedly corky
flavour. But when the corks were disposed of another
difficulty presented itself-what to drink out of; for
there was only one glass in each dormitory, on the
washing-stands, for teeth-cleaning purposes, and one of
these had- been broken by Paddy during the cat-hunt.
MORE FIRE WORKS. 51
The tin soap-dishes were tried, but found to impart too
strong a taste of mottled soap even for the least par-
ticular palate, and the cover of the bloater-paste pot was
incurably fishy and salt. The raspberry-jam pot did
better when its contents were disposed of, and it was
even maintained that it improved the taste of the
lemonade; so they made shift with that and the one
whole tumbler, and if any one was in a hurry he could
drink out of the bottle.
Everything went off most successfully; and if Pat
had not unluckily left a candle burning on a bed in the
outer dormitory, all might have ended as well as it
began, and Pat might have remained a Pie to the end of
the chapter. But accidents will happen in the best-
regulated family, and it was a mercy it did not lead to
more serious consequences.
The feast was spread, as I have said, in the inner
dormitory, and the fun was getting fast and furious
without any of them noticing that the air was becoming
thick with smoke, and that little puffs and curls of the
same were coming through the half-open door into the
next room. It was Paddy who first noticed it, as the
smoke set him coughing, having, as you know, had a bad
I say !" he exclaimed; "what a smoke "
There was so much noise that his exclamation was
not noticed, and he went to the door and pushed it
open, and then such a stifling cloud of smoke met him
that he gave as loud a cry as his choking and gasping
would let him, and the group of boys round Carol's bed
were startled into attention.
52 PEAS-PL OSSOM.
"Oh, murther cried Pat. That candle !" And
he made a dash into the other room, feeling his way
through the blinding smoke towards the bed, where he
remembered having set down a candle stuck in a ginger-
beer bottle while he fetched the soap-dish from that
room for drinking purposes. Paddy and one or two
more rushed in after him, and began tearing off the
smouldering counterpane and blankets, and tramping
and pressing out the sparks, which happily had not yet
burst into a flame, though by their vigorous tossing
they might easily have roused that treacherous element
that so soon turns from man's useful servant to his
cruel tyrant. Some of the boys ran to the water-jugs,
which had been emptied for various purposes during
the feast, and the cans which were never filled by
Joe till the morning; others kicked and thumped at
the door to attract attention in the house; and others
tried to open the window without thinking of the likely
effect of a sudden draught of air on the smouldering
"Stop your noise a minute !" Pat called. "Let's
hear if old Carr is still at his 'Home, sweet Home
downstairs. I heard him a minute ago."
.But the music, if music it could be called, was still
now, and not a sound to be heard; and just at this
moment a crash of glass from the next room announced
that in their efforts to raise the window, or in despair
at not doing so, the boys had smashed a pane, and the
next minute the cold rush of air set the blanket Pat
thought he had smothered into safety in a blaze under
his very hands.
MORE FIRE WORKS. 53
Matters seemed really getting desperate, and through
the smoke some one was to be heard crying and sobbing,
and declaring they were all going to be burned alive.
Who this was was never rightly discovered, for after
the danger was over they all stoutly denied the charge;
and so I can only answer for it that it was neither Pat
nor Paddy, though Pat might have been excused an
outcry, having burned both his hands badly. But
help was not far off; and the next minute the door
was thrown open, and Mr. Carr and Joe were there,
soon followed by Mr. Radley. Buckets of water soon
settled the flames, and the scorched and smoking mat-
tresses of the two beds that had suffered, and the
remains of the bedclothes, were dragged out into the
playground, where the rain soaked away any lurking
seeds of further mischief, and through the open winr
dows the smoke made its escape and the air came in.
Pat and Paddy'had both worked away with a will,
entirely forgetting that they had no right to be there
at all; and, thanks to the excitement and smoke,
neither Mr. Radley, Mr. Carr, nor Joe, noticed their
presence, and when the commotion was a little allayed,
and Mr. Radley had time to look round and notice the
faces of the boys-most of them, as you can fancy,
more or less pale and frightened-looking-the Brights
had remembered themselves, and were in hiding. Mr.
Radley called the names of the boys, and examined
sundry burned fingers.
"I fancied just now," he said, "that I saw But it
must have been you, Millet, that helped me down with
that mattress ? "
And then he went and looked into the inner dormi-
tory, which was a scene of desolation almost as great as
the outer one, though it had not been wrecked by fire
and water; for the remains of the feast and empty
bottles were scattered about in all directions, and a gust
of wind and rain came through the broken window.
"What is the meaning of all this ? said Mr. Radley.
None of the boys answered, and the master went
on, rather grimly-
We must have all this explained from beginning to
end to-morrow. It's too late to-night. You may be
thankful, boys, you were not all burnt or stifled before
we heard anything of the danger. I will find room for
the ten boys from the outer dormitory in the house
for to-night, and the test of you must make the best
of your quarters here, which don't look very comfort-
able; but that's not owing to the fire, I suppose. Stop
up that broken pane, and be quick into bed. No, Joe,
they don't want the gas lighted again. We have had
enough fire for to-night."
And then the outer dormitory boys filed off with
Mr. Radley, and the rest were left to darkness and their
own reflections, aggravated, in several instances, by
feeling very sick. They were not, as you may fancy,
a very cheerful crew; and when Pat, in spite of his
sore hands, tried to make a joke of it, and said, They
had had a display of fireworks with a vengeance,"
Millet answered crossly, Oh, it's all very well for you !
You've not got to have it out with old Radley to-mor-
row, but will sneak out of the mess altogether."
And Carol added, And it's all your own fault, too,
MORE FIRE WORKS. 55
leaving the candle on the bed !" Which was certainly
true, but mean; and Pat would have liked to punch
his head for it, only his hands were too sore for the
administration of justice,
So he and Paddy made themselves as snug as cir-
cumstances would permit with blankets and a pile of
jackets, and slept as soundly as Pat's burs,. and
Paddy's cough, and Millet's snoring, would allow.
T was a silent and surly-looking company that
assembled in the school-room next morning
when the bell rang at half-past seven for the
first calling over, and neither Pat nor Paddy looked very
brilliant as they crept out of the school into Paul Street,
appearing, as they were, unwashed and uncombed, and
with an hour and a-half to dispose of in the rain before
school-time, and no prospect of breakfast to beguile the
Millet's taunt was still rankling in Pat's mind, and
he could not help feeling himself something of a sneak
and a coward for escaping the blowing-up which all the
other Pies were catching at that very moment. He was
altogether in the dumps, a very unusual state of things
with Pat, and his aspect was not improved by a smear
of jam on his cheek and of smoke across his forehead;
and Paddy was no better to look at.
And yet as they passed along Paul Street and saw
Miss Pink's window open, and the rosy-cheeked, simper-
ing block on which Miss Pink made her caps standing
temptingly near, in spite of his depression Pat could
not resist the temptation of transferring his trencher to
the head, and walking on unconcernedly as if nothing
had happened. I have said that Miss Pink had a
MISS PINK. 57
window looking out into the play-ground, and she also
had one in Paul Street, hard by the entrance to the
Grammar School; and being at such close quarters she
was often brought into contact with the boys; and as
she was an old maid, and fidgety and nervous, as old
maids are apt to be, she and the boys waged constant
warfare. They were the plague and worry of her life,
and at the same time the excitement and interest; for
she was fain to confess in holiday-time that she found
it uncommonly dull.
She was a dressmaker and milliner, and she had a
little brass plate on the door in Paul Street announcing
the fact to the public; but she was very genteel, and
had no vulgar display in the window, but only some-
times a fashion-book laid carelessly open, or the above-
mentioned simpering head adorned with a bonnet of
the latest Parisian fashion, as interpreted by Miss Pink.
Half-past seven in the morning is too early for any
one to be genteel, so Miss Pink was just then in what
she called "dishabull," with her gown pinned up round
her waist, and her hair in flat, whitish-brown curl-
papers, polishing the plate and handle of the door with
a leather; while Bonaparte, her sandy Tom-cat, dis-
respectfully called Boney in the neighbourhood (not
a fitting name, as he was decidedly stout), took a
morning airing, drawing back his feet with a sensitive
shudder at eveiy step on the damp stones.
Miss Pink had had a very disturbed night in conse-
quence of the fireworks, and her nerves (which in nine
cases out of ten may be translated "temper") were
upset, so she was not inclined to look with a friendly
eye on the two trencher-caps that went by; and she
tossed her head and made no reply when Paddy wished
her the top of the morning," and she rubbed away at
the door-plate as viciously as if it were a. Grammar-
school boy. She was quite unconscious of Pat's
manoeuvre with his cap, till lie came back with a very
injured and offended expression.
Really, Miss Pink, it s to bad that a fellow can't
walk quietly up Paul Street without losing his hat! "
Miss Pink stared in bewilderment.
Would you ask your friend to give it back to me at
once ? It's raining, you see, and I'm in a hurry."
My friend ? said Miss Pink.
"Yes, the young lady in your window: she has got
.. O. 1. ii i.
A glance at the window revealed the truth to Miss
Pink's indignant eyes; but what form her vengeance
Pink's indignant eyes; but what form her vengeance
MISS PINK. 59
might have taken on this new piece of "impidence"
of those plaguy boys" I cannot undertake to say, for
just then her attention was attracted by a sudden
outcry, for the stately progress of Bonaparte along Paul
Street had been rudely interrupted by the sudden attack
of a certain butcher's dog named Bob, who was the
terror of all the cats for miles round. It was in vain
that poor Boney arched his back, and swelled his tail
into the size of a respectable bolster; in vain he spat
and growled; Bob was not to be frightened by such
demonstrations: there was a bark and a spring, and
then Bonaparte turned to flight, with the dog, open-
mouthed and panting, close behind; and then the cat
'turned to bay again and tried to use his claws, and
again the dog put him to flight; and then there was a
scream from Bonaparte, for the dog's sharp teeth were
in the soft, sandy fur, and the battle would soon have
been over if sudden reinforcements had not come up
from the rear, and Bob's tail been seized hold of by
hands that were strong, though they were sore, while
Paddy got a grip of the dog's throat and made him let
go his terrified prisoner. Bonaparte, too wild with
fright to distinguish between friend and foe, gave Paddy
a long scratch down the back of his hand, and then
darted off between Miss Pink's feet, tripping her up
on the door-step, and straight upstairs to a dark corner
under Miss Pink's bed, from whence nothing would
allure him, and where he remained licking his wounds,
and glaring out of the darkness with great, glowing,
Bob was quite taken aback at this unexpected turn
6o PEA S-BL OSSOM.
of affairs, and bewildered at boys, of all people in the
world, taking the part of a cat, and went sneaking off
with his tail between his legs, assisted in the right
direction by a kick from Pat.
Miss Pink was quite "flabbergasted," as she said
afterwards, and when she had picked herself up could
do nothing for a minute but gasp and say, Bless my
heart! Dear, dear, dear Goodness gracious !" and
wipe her eyes in the leather she had been rubbing the
plate with. It would have been genteel in such cir-
cumstances to go into hysterics, but she did not think
of that till afterwards, and besides it was too early in
the morning. Then she turned to the two boys, and
seizing hold of Paddy, who happened to be nearest, by
the collar of his jacket, and beckoning to Pat to follow,
said quite fiercely,-
Come in, both of you, this very minute! Come in,
And she dragged Paddy: in by main force, and
Pat followed meekly, for,: truth to tell, .he was
pretty nearly fainting, though he would have
denied the charge of such weakness with the greatest
Indignation, for his hands were nearly raw, and the
struggle with the dog made him painfully conscious
Even Miss Pink, in the midst of her excitement and
confusion, noticed how ashy pale he had turned.
"Mercy on us 1 she said; has the dog bit you ? A
nasty, savage, bloodthirsty beast as ever breathed! "
No," said Pat, it's not that;" and then he turned
so giddy that he had to catch at the back of a chair to
MISS PINK. 61
save himself, and winced and started back with pain
as his hand touched the chair.
"It's his hands," said Paddy; "he's burnt them
awfully; and we've not had any breakfast, and that
makes a fellow feel queer."
"Ah," said Miss Pink, shaking her curl-papers, it's
those horrid, dangerous fireworks, which never lead to
any good! Let me look at your hands. Dear! dear!
dear! I never did, never in all my born days! And
I suppose Mrs. Radley didn't a bit know what to do
for them now ? She's too young to be at the head of
such a housefull of mischief; and not a servant worth
twopence-a set of flighty, fly-away things, thinking of
nothing but ribbons and young men !"
But here Pat felt in honour bound to explain that
Mrs. Radley knew nothing whatever of the matter.
"And no breakfast either!" Miss Pink went on
severely; "a set of growing boys that ought to have
their meals as regular as clockwork !"
And here again Pat felt bound to explain that they
were not boarders, and that Mrs. Radley was not
responsible for their breakfasts.
SYou're not day-boys ? she said.
And then they told her who they were, and where
they came from, and tried to explain in a confused sort
of way how they happened to be so much too early for
school, and without any breakfast; telling just enough
to make Miss Pink guess vaguely at a pretty piece of
mischief, which she excused freely for the sake of the
gallant rescue of Bonaparte.
But all the time she was not idle, for she was dressing
Pat's hands with sweet oil and cotton wool, and binding
them up till they looked like 'the hands of a gouty old
man; but Pat did not care a snap how they looked
while they felt so comfortable.
"Thank you," he said, it's awfully good of you. I'll
bring back these handkerchiefs and things to-morrow
when I come to school. Now we'd better be off, and not
bother you any more."
"No," said Miss Pink, "that you won't! You won't
stir a step till you've had some breakfast; that is, if
you're not too fine to have breakfast with me."
"Fine! said Pat; "we don't look much like that.
Paddy looks as if he hadn't washed for a twelvemonth."
"Look at home," said Paddy: "it's a case of the
pot, calling the kettle black."
"But don't you bother about breakfast for us," went
on Pat: "we shall do well enough, and we can eat
double at dinner."
But Miss Pink would not hear of such a thing, and
she forthwith began bustling about preparing for break-
fast with such speed and energy that her curl-papers
rustled in the wind like dry oak-leaves in October.
"You'll excuse my curl-papers, young gentlemen,"
she said, I'd have made myself smart if I'd known
beforehand I was to have company."
And we'd have tittivated ourselves up, too," said
Paddy, trying vainly to part his curly hair with his
"Now I shouldn't wonder," said Miss Pink, "if you
wouldn't like some warm water and a comb ?"
The boys, who were beginning to make themselves
MISS PINK. 63
quite at home in Miss Pink's little house, gladly accepted
the offer, and she took them into the bedroom and sup-
plied them with hot water and a tail-comb, and left
them there while she got the breakfast, feeling quite
amazed at her own confidence and coolness in trusting
two boys-and most of all, Grammar-school boys-
among all her secret treasures.
Her confidence was not misplaced, for though I am
sorry to say Pat, in spite of his gouty hands, tried on
Miss Pink's large frilled night-cap, and Paddy tried
the effect among his own curly locks of the little,
her own rather scanty ringlets, and though they both
inspected with much amusement the silhouettes of Miss
Pink's family-stout, bald-headed gentlemen, with
frilled shirt-fronts, and ladies with very low dresses,
and big puffed sleeves, and hair dressed very high,
..*: .: i : .
64 PEA BLOSSOM.
leaving wonderful long necks visible, and read the date
of the sampler worked by Rosina Pink in a year when
she would have warmly denied being in existence, for
age wAs one of her weak points-yet, in spite of this,
they would neither of them have dreamed of revealing
these secrets to the outer world on any consideration.
Meanwhile the smell of coffee was making itself
pleasantly evident, and Miss Pink might be seen
scudding up Paul Street to the baker's in search of hot
rolls, and into Martin's for slices of ham, and out again
in hot haste after new-laid eggs; and then she suddenly
remembered Pat's disabled hands, and was up tapping
at the bedroom-door, and nothing would do but that she
must sponge that young hero's face herself and comb
his hair, which she parted on the wrong side. She very
much wished to bestow "j ust a leetle Macassar oil," to
produce a more effective butcher's curl on the temple
than Pat's dry obstinate hair would accomplish; but
this Pat resisted, though he was willing to go great
lengths to please Miss Pink.
What a breakfast the boys made to be sure, in Miss
Pink's snug, little parlour, with the round table drawn
up close in front of the fire, and the rolls standing down
on the fender to keep hot, and the coffee on the hob !
Miss Pink enjoyed that breakfast quite as much as
the boys, if not more; for day after day she was used
to sit down to breakfast-yes, and dinner and tea, too
-by herself, with no one but Bonaparte to speak to;
and, after all, one's own company, however genteel, is
apt to be dull.
Indeed, that morning Miss Pink quite forgot to be
MISS PINK. 65
genteel, and laughed at the boys' talk till the tears ran
down her cheeks, and she had to hold her sides from
their aching; and she was even more surprised than
they were when the school-bell rang out, and Pat and
Paddy jumped to their feet and caught up their caps
(Pat's being still on the head of the dummy), and, with
their mouths still full of roll, ran off, only to come
clattering back in a minute, very much out of breath,
to pant out something about, "Not thanked you-
awfully kind-jolly blow-out To which Miss Pink
replied, "Bless my heart! you needn't have come back
for that, getting late -for school I don't want any
thanks, only come and have breakfast with me another
day, that's all."
HEN Pat and Paddy got into school it was
easy to see something was amiss. All the boys
looked very glum, and not one would reply to
Pat's telegraphic signals to know what had occurred;
and when Paddy, who was sitting next Carol, nudged
him, and asked whether there had, been a shindy and if
old Radley was in a wax, Carol told him crustily to
"' Hold his row and shut up."
The curiosity of the Larks was naturally heated to
boiling pitch by the sight of the burnt mattresses and
bed-clothes in the playground, and when they saw Pat's
bandaged hands and the surly appearance of the Pies,
they could hardly contain themselves.
Strange to say, the story of the fire in the dormi-
tory had not got noised abroad in the town as yet, for
generally any news, and especially bad news, flew round
the town like lightning in speed and like a snowball in
the wonderful way it grew as it went, till in twenty-
four hours there was often no recognizing the first
insignificant whisper; so that a tile falling from the
parsonage-roof one morning has by the next day grown
into the alarming news that the whole roof had fallen
in, crushing the vicar, his wife, and all his family.
But the fire at the Grammar School had not yet begun
BURNT FINGERS. 6?
to be talked of, so the Larks were quite unprepared
when they came to school; and it was not till midday
that it was known all over the town that the school
had been nearly burnt to the ground, and that several
of the boys had been seriously injured, and that Joe,
the odd man, had been so burned that he had been re-
moved to the hospital and was not expected to recover.:
which story was told to the sufferer himself, much to
his amazement, that evening.
But the Larks had to wonder unsatisfied till prayers
were over, and then they -heard something thab made
them open their ears extra wide. They all felt that
something serious was coming when Mr. Radley cleared
his throat twice and looked round the schoolroom. The
Pies, perhaps, knew what to expect, and were not any
the more comfortable for that; and Mr. Carr looked
solemn and important.
"You are too easy with the boys," Mrs. Radley used
to say to her husband; and that morning she had said
it repeatedly, for fire was her especial terror, and the
danger of the night before weighed heavily on her mind,
and led her to urge strong measures on her husband;
and perhaps the recollection of his wife's words gave
more severity to Mr. Radley's face and manner as he
looked round the room.
"Patrick and Philip Bright, come here!"
Pat gave a quick, searching look at the Pies. Face
after face drooped a little under his look, and the eyes
turned away and would not meet his; and he went up
and stood in front of Mr. Radley's desk, trying to hide
his bandaged hands behind him, and Paddy followed.
"I find," said Mr. Radley, that you and your brother
were here last night ?"
. "Yes, sir."
SIn the dormitory without my leave ?"
And that it was owing to you that the place was
set on fire."
"Have you any excuse to make ?"
Pat gave a sudden look up into the master's face.
"It was a bit of fun, sir; and we-I didn't mean to set
the bed on fire.
"It was a bit of fun that I don't mean to have re-
peated," Mr. Radley said; and I shall therefore write
to your father to ask him to place you at some other
school, where I hope you may do better. As for you,"
he added, turning to Paddy, "being younger, and
influenced by your brother, I do not consider you
so blameworthy, and therefore have no objection to
your remaining at the school, if Mr. Bright wishes
it: but you will be detained during play-time for
the next month, and I shall set you lines to occupy
The faces of the two boys at these words were a study
to'see. Pat turned white as ashes, whiter even than
he had at Miss Pink's, and stood quite still; while
Paddy was crimson, and was all in a work, edging up
closer to Pat, and getting hold of a corer of his coat,
which he kept fingering, as he burst out,-
SI'm not going to stop here without Pat! I'm
B URNT FINGERS. 69
And then Pat pulled his coat roughly out of Paddy's
fingers and said, with an odd tremble in his voice-
Shut up I Don't be a fool!"
"What have you done to your hands ?" said Mr.
Radley, whose eyes had just then lighted on the ban-
"They're burnt," said Paddy. "They're awfully
bad with trying to put out the fire!"
"Shut up !" growled Pat again.
Mr. Radley in his heart of hearts was sorry for Pat;
and wished that an outburst of excuses or recrimin-
ations on the other boys might have thrown some fresh
light on the matter and given him an excuse for miti-
gating the severity of his sentence: but Pat's silence
made this difficult. But as the two boys still"stood
there expecting something further, he said-
There are two parties in the school, I am told ?"
Day boys versus boarders ?"
And you belong to the boarder party?"
No ? Why, you were with them last night ? "
"Well," the master said impatiently, and you are
great friends with them ?"
No," said Pat, "they are not my friends. I wouldn't
give a thank-you for a set of cowardly sneaks for my
Pat was not pale any longer: the colour was burning
and blazing in his cheeks, and his eyes were bright
?o PEAS-BL OSSOM.
with defiance at the Pies, who did not look in very
high feather just then.
The Larks were perfectly electrified at the turn affairs
had taken, and found it difficult quite to understand it.
That the Pies should have been suddenly deserted by
their most powerful champion was an unexpected bit
of good luck: but they did not know if the deserter
meant to join their ranks at once, passing straight from
one party to the other, or if he meant to be indepen-
dent, and' wage war on Pies and Larks alike; though,
really, Pat's line of action mattered very little, seeing
that his days at school were numbered.
Still, however, a thrill of satisfaction passed through
the Larks as Pat went back to his place after a few
more words from Mr. Radley, and Wilkinson. stretched
out his hand as he passed and whispered-
I'm awfully sorry, old chap."
And when they saw one of Pat's wounded members
returning Wilkinson's grasp heartily, regardless of pain,
they hailed it as a sign of his casting in his lot with
the Larks, though I do not think Pat would have
refused the offer of such generous sympathy from the
bitterest enemy or the most utter cad.
-It certainly would have been more dignified of the
Larks to have held aloof from the Brights, after all
the insults and persecutions they had suffered at their
hands, and not to have been ready to receive them with
open arms as soon as ever they cast off their allegiance
to the Pies; but then, as the Pies always said, the Larks
were such shocking cads.
Lessons dragged very heavily that morning; none
~" ""' ~ ?M
BURNT FINGERS. 71
of the boys were in working mood, and all had their
minds much distracted by the events of the night
before, and Mr. Radley himself was disturbed and put
out, having, as I have said, a liking for Pat, and a
strong feeling against tale-bearers and sneaks.
Pat was very subdued and quiet, except when he
was brought into contact with any of his former*allies,
and then he blazed up a bit. But Paddy was like a
young hedgehog, bristling in every direction, and so
tiresome, and restless, and obstinate, and contradictory,
that poor Mr. Carr was at his wits' end to know what
to do with him.
During the play-hour after dinner Paddy had his
lines to write out in the schoolroom, and Pat chose to
stop with him, though he was free to go out if he liked;
and he sat on the edge of a desk, swinging his feet and
whistling softly, while Paddy drew pictures of Mr. Rad-
ley, Mr. Carr, and all the Pies on the gibbets they so
richly deserved, wrote opprobrious remarks on the black-
board, and cut his initials very deep on Mr. Carr's desk.
"Pat!" at last he burst out, "why ever don't you
just cut off home ? I don't see why you should bother
about this jolly old hole of a school. I only wish they'd
give me the sack as well; but they needn't think I'm
going to stay. I shall just tell father."
Pat had been whistling gloomily as Paddy spoke
up to this point, but now he stopped abruptly.
"It's father," he said. I shouldn't care a snap of
the finger, but it's father; he'll be so awfully vexed,
and I promised him and Aunt Bell I'd mind what
I was about."
It was not often that the two boys talked seriously:
so rarely indeed, that now Paddy rubbed up all his
hair into a mop, and stared, leaning his elbows on the
desk before him.
"What a duffer I am! he said. "I never thought
of that !"
But just then the school-room door opened and
Mrs. Radley came in with her little girl clinging to
her skirts, and peeping slily at the boys from behind
that frail shelter. Pat had only spoken to Mrs. Radley
twice since he came to Mudford, and on both of. these
occasions she had been annoyed at something he had
done: once he had thrown a ball in at one of the bed-
room windows, and on another occasion had got the
gate into the garden off its hinges, and these two
occasions had impressed him with the idea that she
was cross and fault-finding, and what the Brights called
"missusing," which was really a most unjust estimate
of her character, as he now found out.
"Bright," she said, "you have burnt your hands
badly; e6t me see what I can do with them."
"Oh, they're getting all right, thank you," said Pat.
"They weren't so very bad, after all."
Let me see," she said, and came and sat down on the
form by his side, and took his poor, sore hands in hers
as gently and kindly as even Aunt Bell might have
done, and that was highest praise; while little Barbie
twisted the corner of her pinafore and screwed up her'
mouth, peeping at Paddy to see if there were the
materials for a game of play to be found in him.
Though Paddy, as we have seen, was not by any
BURNT FINGERS. 73
means in his best mood, he could not resist Barbie's
peeping blue eyes, so the paper on which those unlucky
lines should have been written was rapidly converted
into a cocked hat for the little girl; and in another
minute or two Barbie was driving a very kicking and
plunging horse up and down the school-room, and
ended at last in accepting a seat on the back of the
same dangerous animal, and charging about over forms
and desks in a manner highly satisfactory to the rider
herself, but rather alarming to beholders.
Meanwhile, I think Miss Pink would have been sur-
prised to see how skilfully Mrs. Radley undid the ban-
dages on Pat's hands with those pretty white hands
of hers, inflicting wonderfully little pain on those poor,
Poor boy! she said; what a burn !" And she
looked into his face with such gentle pity that it
brought tears rushing into those Irish blue eyes, as only
kindness, and, above all, unexpected kindness, was apt
.to do, so that he had to keep them very wide open,
and turn his head away and sniff, seeing that he could
not use his disabled hands for a protection: but when
she went on to say, What will your mother say when
you get home ?" all precautions were useless, and two
big tears rolled down before he had time to stop them
with his sleeve.
Mrs. Radley had young brothers of her own, and
did not seem to notice drops, though one of them fell
on her own hand, while she went on dressing the burns
afresh; and Pat found himself using her soft, white
handkerchief to dry his ridiculous eyes, without know-
ing that she had slipped it between his fingers on
purpose: so he soon got the better of the weakness,
and was able to speak in a tolerably steady voice.
SYou see," he said, "we haven't got any mother;
but," he went on quickly, to stop the look of deep
pity in her face, which he felt was uncalled for, we've
a father, and you don't know-" Here a break, and
a good deal of swallowing.
"He will be sorry to see your hands so hurt," Mrs.
Radley said, after a minute.
It's not that; it's not the burns. I'd rather have
been burnt all over. But perhaps you don't know-
perhaps old-I mean Mr. Radley-hasn't told you that
I've been expelled, and he's going to write to father
and tell him; and that's worse than the burn. I pro-
mised him," Pat went on-" I'm so unlucky, you know,
and always in hot water, and I got into a horrid scrape
BURNT FINGERS. y
in the summer that might have led to all sorts of awful
things, and I promised father then that I'd mind what I
was after. And Brian, too, before he went away, gave me
a regular jaw; and Aunt Bell, though she never preaches,
looks at one till one feels I don't know what; and
Honor, since Brian went, has taken to that sorry kind
of look that makes one feel what a brute one is. And
as for father, I don't know how I shall be able to stand
it when the poor old governor comes down-on Saturday,
and looks so bothered, and worried, and patient."
And here Pat subsided, with his head on his arms
on the desk, for Mrs. Radley had finished bandaging
his hands, and he was free to hide his face in them.
Mrs. Radley was, as I have said, inclined to accuse
her husband, when no one else was present, of being
too easy with the boys; and that very morning her
words had urged him on to that severity towards poor
Pat which now seemed so grievous to her. She also
used to say to her friends, with some pride, "I make
it a rule never to interfere between my husband and
the boys. I do not always understand his reasons for
treating them with severity or leniency; but I am
sure whatever he does is quite right." And I think
Mrs. Radley's was a very wise rule.
But few rules, however wise, are altogether without
exceptions; and as Mrs. Radley sat by Pat in the school-
room, she could not quite convince herself that her
husband was right in his treatment of Pat, or think
that he was easy enough on this occasion.
Well," said Mr. Radley, a few minutes later, as his
wife came into his study, and stood silently by his side
with her hands on his shoulder;" well, has the wild
Irish boy been trying some of his blarney on you ?"
And then he looked up into her face, which was very
eloquent in its silence, with the soft dew on the eye-
Mr. Radley was very sorry for, Pat himself, and all
the morning had been seeking for some good oppor-
tunity, consistent with his own dignity, to relent
towards him; so it did not need any very powerful
arguments to persuade him.
I don't like to interfere," she said; I would rather
not say a word : but he is so sorry, so very sorry, because
of his father and the trouble it will cause him; and be-
sides," and here Mrs. Radley caught up little Barbie, still
out of breath and laughing from her game with Paddy,
and put her in her father's arms, "John, he has no
TWO NEW LARKS.
HEN Mr. Radley announced at the end of
Sschool-time that afternoon that he had agreed
to let Patrick Bright remain on assurance of
his future good behaviour, there was a subdued murmur
of satisfaction from all the boys, Pies and Larks with-
out exception, which swelled into three cheers when
Mr. Radley had left the school-room. The Pies were
much relieved, as they had been suffering all day from
remorse for their treason, and they now gathered round
Pat, all eager to excuse and explain their conduct, while
the Larks watched to see whether, now Pat was going
to stay at Mudford, they might still count on him as a
recruit to their party, or whether he would forgive and
forget the treachery of the Pies, and continue to be the
active and ingenious enemy of the Larks which he had
proved himself before. But, however circumstances
might turn out, I think the Larks, one and all, would
rather have had Pat Bright there as an enemy than have
lost him altogether, with all the fun and life and
laughter he had brought with him.
Pat looked, for him, quite sheepish when Mr. Radley
spoke, and said, Thank you, sir," in a very mild and
subdued tone of voice; and then became very busy
collecting his books and strapping them tightly together,
and he was quite silent during the chorus of explana-
tions from the Pies.
You know that old Carr had smelt a rat, and he
gave Radley the tip."
Old Radley must have seen you when you had hold
of that mattress."
It didn't want half an eye to see that he knew all
about it really, though he kept it dark and went on
"It was all Jones's fault, he's such a--"
SIt wasn't! I never said a word! It was that ass
Carol, he blabs out everything!"
"Oh! it's all very fine for you to talk! "
Still Pat was silent, pulling with his teeth at the
strap as if his life depended on getting the books a
hair-breadth nearer together, and his face was quite un-
readable to both Pies and Larks.
"I say, Bright, old chap !" Millet said; it's all right,
isn't it ? You don't bear malice, for we're all in the
same boat, and we've all come in for the row as well ?"
"Bless your hearts!" said Pat, "I don't bear any
malice! It's all right, and no bones broken!"
You're a brick, and no mistake! said Millet, with
great satisfaction. Three cheers for Pat Bright!"
'The Larks had had enough of this, and began to
Much obliged, I'm sure !" said Pat, with rather a
grim smile. "And now I'll ask you to give three more
while you're about it for my friends-the Larks."
He made a pause before the two last words, and they
made, so sure he was going to say the Pies, that some
TWO NE W LARKS. 79
of that party were already embarked on the hip, hip,
hip," in their honour, and looked uncommonly foolish at
the unexpected termination, and Millet's hand dropped
from Pat's arm as if it had been stung.
You mean to cut our company, then ?" he said.
Yes," answered Pat, cheerfully, I think I men.
tioned it just now to Mr. Radley, if you happened to be
listening. I've not got even a finger in the Pie now,
nor Paddy either. Hullo there, Wilkinson! can't you
stop for a fellow ? "
You'll have to mind the League and Covenant,"
Carol called after him, as Pat left the schoolroom with
his new friends, ostentatiously slipping one arm through
Wilkinson's, and calling Webber "old chap."
Ay, what were you remarking ? Didn't like to be
done brown, eh? Well, it's very natural in Pies to be
crusty-isn't it, Webber ?"
You'll have to mind the League and Covenant if
you're a Lark," repeated Carol.
Most 'appy," replied Pat; as it's my 'abit to drop
my h's. So now, then, young tartlets, do your worst!"
And with that Pat took himself off into the play.
ground with Paddy and an admiring train of Larks;
Sand before the discomfited Pies saw what he was about,
or could take steps to prevent it, he had led the enemy
into their very citadel-the end of the playground,
which the Pies, under Pat's leadership, had contested in
many hard-fought battles, and tore down the Pie flag,
which had fluttered proudly aloft through many
desperate attacks of the Larks, and as many gallant
This flag had been made by Molly and Nora under
Pat's directions, and represented a ferocious-looking
yellow lion on a crimson ground, dancing frantically on
one leg, surrounded by sun, moon, and stars. And this
flag, that that had been the pride and glorification of the
Pie party and of Pat in particular, was now torn down,
crumpled up, and kicked round the muddy playground
before the very eyes of the Pies, who gazed helplessly
at this act of defiance from the schoolroom windows,
too much taken by surprise to offer any resistance or
revenge the insult.
For the next few days Pat's friendship with the
Larks was simply outrageous, and flaunted in the face
of the irritated Pies at every opportunity. The Larks
were quite elated at their new acquisition, and gave
themselves such airs as had never been known in the
annals of Mudford School; and the Pies did not
seem to have the spirit to keep them in their proper
Pat was, of course, quite a hero among the Larks,
and Paddy also came in for a good deal of glorification.
They were always accompanied on their way home by a
party of admiring friends. Wilkinson was anxious, if
they would have agreed, to undertake all the lines which
liad been imposed on the Brights for their escapade on
the fifth. They were invited to tea at half-a-dozen
different houses whenever they liked to go; knives and
pencils, tops and catapults, were pressed upon them as
loans, since they would not take them as presents; and
they might have considered themselves free of the grub-
shop to tuck in as much as they liked; and they might
T WO NE W LARKS. 8
even have borrowed pocket-money to almost an un-
limited extent, if such had been their wish.
But after the first week or two the ardour of this
friendship rather subsided, as is apt to happen with
friendships founded merely on pique. Pat decidedly
disappointed the Larks as a leader. He was very much
on his best behaviour just then, and anxious to please
Mr. Radley, and show that he could be trusted; and
he wished to get a decent report to show to father at
Christmas, and so he was not so reckless in fun and
mischief as he had been with the Pies: and then he had
a way of sneaking off now and then to see Mrs. Radley,
which seemed contemptible to the other boys, and tire-
some when they wanted him to do something else.
And he would not let any one speak of her as old
Mother Radley in his hearing, which was regarded as
squeamish and fanciful on his part; and as for any of
the practical jokes on Miss Pink, which had been
hitherto an every-day amusement with the Grammar-
school boys, he flew into such a rage at the idea of tying
a dead cat on to her knocker that that exquisite bit of
fun was abandoned.
Pat, on his side, though he was not particularly
aristocratic in his notions, did not find the Larks very
much to his taste; and there was. not one of them he
liked as well as he had done Millet,. with whom he was
inclined to become great chums, which made his feeling
about the treachery of the Pies all the more bitter.
So Pat did not make such a Lark as might have been
expected, and as he was not so aggressive as usual,
party matters became quieter as the term drew near its
end, and there was nothing interesting enough at school
to' put the Ogre's castle out of Pat's head. Every day
as he passed the high walls and close-shut door added
to his curiosity and his wish to know what was con-
cealed behind, and as Christmas drew near, and over
those close palings he saw the mistletoe hanging in
-great bunches from the mossy branches of the apple-
trees, while Nora and Molly lamented that not a bit was
to be found on any of the trees in the garden, or at
Aunt Bell's either, his fingers quite itched to have the
cutting of some of those pearly spoils.
Molly," he said one day, what will you give me if I
bring you a bit of mistletoe from the Ogre's orchard ? "
"There's high walls," s&id Molly more sensible than
"* With broken glass at the top," added Nora.
"And hooked nails on the palings."
"'And fierce dogs."
And man-traps and spring-guns."
"And the Ogre."
"And the ghost."
"All the same," said Pat, "I will get that bit of
"Nonsense!" said Honor, which quite decided Pat
that it should be done.
",N these short, dark December days, the gas had
to be lighted in the schoolroom before after-
noon lessons were half over; and by the time
Pat and Paddy set out on their way home it was quite
dark, and sometimes so dark, that if their way had
not been very plain-sailing and straight, they might
easily have missed it.
But on the afternoon succeeding the conversation
described in the last chapter a little light was thrown
on the matter by a pale, watery moon, that looked
peevishly out now and then from among the ragged
clouds, and then hid her face again in a hurry. It had
been wet and gusty all day, and little, sharp scuds of
rain fell now and then, and the roads were very heavy
with mud, and so, in consequence, werethe boys' gaiters;
and, as Pat said,.there was only just light enough to see
a puddle when you were in the middle of it.
It was not an encouraging night on which to'seek
adventures, but nevertheless, when the boys reached the
Orchards, Pat made a decided halt.
Come on," said Paddy.
"I've an engagement here," answered Pat.
Oh, bother it all! whatever's the good ? You know
it can't be done."
"Difficulties," said Pat, as Peter's copy-book informs
us, are made to be overcome. Patience and persever-
ance conquer all difficulties: and besides, it's a point of
honour to get some of that mistletoe."
Bother your honour grumbled Paddy; "and the
mistletoe, too! "
Well, lay hold of my books and cut along home,"
said Pat, "and I'll tackle old Fee-Fo-Fum by myself."
Of course, Paddy would never have agreed to this,
and Pat knew that he would not.
The wall is certainly a poser," said Pat. We must
try the palings."
The palings were nearly as discouraging; for, though
the boys examined them carefully all round the orchard,
as indeed they had often done before, they could not
find one that did not bristle with spiteful-looking
"No go!" said Paddy, with some satisfaction; and
I've been thinking, Pat, it's uncommonly like stealing
to take- the old chap's mistletoe."
"And. it seems to me, Paddy, uncommonly like the
grapes being: sour; and it's very easy to be honest
with all those jolly, old nails in between. Here goes!"
,And with\ that Pat took off his trencher-cap and threw
it clean over into the orchard.
"I say," said Paddy," whatever did you do that for ?"
"The die is cast!'" said Pat, striking an attitude.
"And it's got your name inside it!"
That's just it. The rubicon is past. You see, I
must get my cap now or perish in the attempt; and if
any one makes any impertinent remarks, I can say I
THE MISTLETOE. 85
only came to fetch my property. So just give me a
So Pat climbed up on Paddy's shoulders, and from
there managed, as only a cat or Pat Bright could have
done, to find a place on the palings where he could
plant a knee free of nails, and then Paddy heard a
plunge, a tear, and a low cry of, "Oh further!" and
by the moon that struggled out just then he saw that
Pat was gone.
Here I am," whispered Pat through the palings, all
right: but those murtherin' old nails have damaged
my trousers no end! It's uncommonly lucky it's so
dark, or I might feel modest. Hush !"
All round the orchard where Pat found himself there
was a path, moss-grown and stained with damp, with
the shadows of the twisted and distorted apple trees
lying across it in strange, weird shapes, distinct one
minute in the moonlight, confused and dim the next
from the clouds; and on this path, not a couple of yards
from where his jump had landed him, lay his trencher-
cap. But before he had time to catch it up, or make
a grab at the mistletoe close over his head, or give a
thought how he should get back over the palings,
which was indeed a matter of some difficulty, seeing
that there was ,no Paddy on that side to give him a
back up, he saw a figure coming along the path with
an almost noiseless step.
Pat was not nervous, and had so often dressed up
and acted the ghost for Peter's advantage, that he had
become hardened in such matters, and it required
something very appalling to make his blood run cold
and his hair stand on end (which, by the way, it
always did); but I must confess, that at the sight of
that approaching figure, with the bowed head and
noiseless step, the memory of the ghost reputed to
haunt the Orchards came forcibly into his mind, and
made him wish that he was not divided from Paddy
by such high palings; and when, in a patch of open
moonlight, he saw the figure stop and wring its hands
together and heard it utter a groan, exactly in the
manner attributed to the ghost, his heart beat quicker
than was quite comfortable.
But the next minute Pat was assured, though even
being sure it was not the ghost was no great comfort,
seeing that it proved to be the Ogre himself, from
whom. only a few yards separated Pat.
Yes, it was the Ogre There were the bent shoulders
and long, grey hair; his face looked ghastly in the
moonlight, and his eyes were fixed on the ground as he
. It was not a pleasant position, for though Pat drew
close to the trunk of a tree, and hoped so to escape
observation, there, in the Ogre's very path, lay the
trencher-cap, square, and black, and distinct, as if
courting the notice of those downcast eyes. Pat held
iis breath and turned cold, as he watched the Ogre
come up to the cap and stop.
For a minute he stood motionless, looking down at
the cap, while Pat's pulses beat like minute guns;
and then the Ogre took a step to one side to avoid the
cap, and passed on as slowly and noiselessly as before.
Pat could hardly believe his senses; and, as he
THE MISTLETOE. 87
straightened himself up from the crouching position he
had kept by the apple tree, he could not take his eyes
from the old man's figure, slowly passing away between
the trees, with the moonlight now and again touching
the bent, grey head and stooping shoulders, and he was
so absorbed in watching him that he started, as he said,
nearly out of his skin, when a voice close behind him
"What are you doing here ?"
It was a boy of about Pat's height, standing close
to him, and Pat could just make out that he had a
dark face and great, wondering eyes.
Pat was too startled to answer at once, and the boy re-
peated the question, adding, "And how did you get
"I came to fetch my cap, and I got over the palings"
"There are nails in the palings."
"Yes," said Pat, inspecting the hole in his trousers,
ruefully ; "so I found."
"Didn't you see the notice boards ? "
"Yes," said Pat; "I think I observed something of
Didn't you see on them that trespassers would be
prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law ?"
"Yes; but you see I didn't know what the utmost
rigour of the,law might be, so I didn't care."
How did your cap come over here ?"
I threw it over."
"What for ? "
"Is there anything else in a small way you'd like
to ask ? I think I'll ask you a question or two by
88 PEAS-BL OSSOM.
way of a change. Was that your governor that went
My what ?"
Your father ?"
"No; my grandfather."
"Would he be in a wax if he found me here ?
SIn a what ?"
"Would he be angry ?"
"I was in a jolly funk when I saw him come up to my
cap. I thought it was all up, and my goose cooked; but
he went on after looking at it as if he were in a dream."
"I don't suppose he noticed it."
"What a rum start to be sure !"
The boy looked puzzled, and Pat went on-
You see, I threw my cap over on purpose, because
I wanted to come. It was a kind of a bet; every one
said I couldn't, and so I did."
How did you mean to get out ?"
Pat looked round at the high palings, doubtfully.
I didn't think of that; that is a poser !"
"Would you like to go out at the door ? "
"Rather !" said Pat.
I'll let you out; but you must come as quietly as a
mouse, so that my grandfather, and Cann and Goody,
may not hear you. And you had better come quickly,
for the dogs are barking, and Cann will think some-
thing is wrong."
The boy had a pretty, soft voice; but he spoke in a
prim, formal way, like a fellow in a story-book, Pat
thought, and he did not seem to understand a word of
THE MISTLETOE. 89
slang; and "yet he does not look altogether like a
muff," decided Pat, and I think I could hit it off pretty
well with him." While, on his part, the boy looked at
Pat as a sort of new and amusing animal, speaking a
peculiar kind of language which he could not easily
understand, and doing all sorts of odd, unaccountable
things. And yet he returned Pat's liking, and with that
strange sort of instinctive fellow-feeling which exists
between boys, even when brought up in utterly different
circumstances, he resolved to help him to escape the
displeasure of his grandfather and Cann.
"You're a brick said Pat, encouraged, in his slang
by the way it puzzled his hearer. "Then you won't
split on me to the governor ?"
I will let you out at. the door, if that is what you
mean," said the boy.
Pat had recovered his cap by this time, and as the
moon was behind a cloud and it was dark, the boy
took Pat's hand as one girl might another, but not a bit
like two boys.
"Hold hard !" said Pat suddenly, when they were
nearly out of the orchard. "I wish you'd give me a
bit of mistletoe. I promised my sister to bring her a
bit, but Paddy said he thought it was stealing when he
saw the hooked nails ; but if you gave me a bit it would
be all right. 'Just a little bit will do: we've not a scrap
on our trees, and the girls think so much of it."
You can have as much as you like of it," said the
boy; "but it's so dark, we can't see to find it. There
is some on this tree, I know, if I can reach it."
The mistletoe was found and a great bunch cut, and
Pat could hardly restrain his feelings of satisfaction, but
as they were near the house and the dogs were making
a tremendous noise, he was obliged to bottle them up
for future expression.
Then the boys went on together hand in hand along
the dark garden-path. As they passed the back of the
house, a door opened suddenly, letting out a blaze of
light, and a woman stood, black against it, peering out
into the darkness
"Master Ray!" she called in a shrill, cross voice,
"Master Ray! what be at out there in the cold and
damp, and tea waiting ?"
"I'm coming directly, Goody," answered Pat's com-
panion, when I have been round to the dogs."
".What a noise them brutes is making! There'll be
some tramps about, I'm thinking."
"Silence, Pilot I Lie down, Skipper! Kennel, Fury!"
The dogs left off barking at their young master's voice,
but still protested with low growls againstPat's presence
as the two boys passed by.
There were bolts and bars to be undone at the door,
and when at last it was open, and Pat would have said
a few parting words of thanks and a wish to meet
again, the boy-Master Ray, as the woman had called
him-would not give him time for a word, but bid him
quickly "Good-bye," and shut the door again, leaving
Pat outside with the big bunch of mistletoe in his hand,
looking about for Paddy, and listening to the sound of
the bolts being drawn again, and the boy's footsteps
going away up the path.
'OU can fancy with what triumph Pat carried
that bunch of mistletoe home, and how he
Mystified and excited every one with his
description of his adventures in the Ogre's castle, so
highly coloured and improved that at last Honor
declared she did not believe that he had been in at all.
though Pat called Paddy and the bunch of mistletoe
and the hole in his trousers as witnesses to the truth of
his story; and even Peter was inclined to doubt his
description of the Ogre having fiery eyes and a tail,
and the dogs having three heads a piece.
As for the Ogre's grandson, Master Ray, or, as they
named him, Prince Mistletoe, he became quite a hero of
romance, and they tried hard to persuade Aunt Bell to
invite him, and, if necessary, the Ogre, to her party
after Christmas, as a natural sort of way of making his
Pat was by no means disenchanted by having
actually entered the magic precincts, it only seemed to
add to his interest. Paddy could hardly get him
past the Orchards going to or coming from school,
so anxious was he to catch sight of his new friend;
but though he loitered about the road and round by
the palings, and watched the green door till Paddy
got cold and impatient and angry, his patience was
never rewarded, and when after a week of disappoint-
ment, he summoned up his impudence and rang the
bell by the door, and inquired in an insinuating way
if he could see Master Ray, after being made to repeat
his question six times by a deaf old woman, till the
last time he yelled it out as if he were hailing a ship
at sea, she told him to be off, or she'd speak to the
perlice," and slammed the door in his face.
.But Pat's interest was not to be put an end to as
abruptly as his conversation with the cross old woman,
and it was so deeply rooted that it survived even
through the Christmas holidays. The examinations
did not put it out of his head, though he was really
trying to do his best at them; the last tremendous
game of foot-ball before breaking up, though Pat went
lame for a week after in consequence of his frantic
CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY YS. 93
exertions, was not half so absorbing ; the turkey that
Aunt Bell sent to Miss Pink was a trifle in comparison,
though Pat chose it himself from the gobbling troop
at the Grove, and superintended its feeding for the last
few days of its existence, and took an active part at
its execution and in picking its feathers, and carried
it into Mudford in triumph with his own hands.
Even when the holidays had fairly begun, and he
no longer passed the mysterious Orchards twice every
day, the thought still haunted him in his dreams by
night, and in his waking thoughts by day; he took it
out rabbit-shooting with him, but not even the excite-
ment of firing off a gun could drive it away; it followed
the foxhounds with him over hedges and ditches, with
a jump here and a tumble there and a scramble every-
where, and was in with him at the death when he
got a pad for his pains, and in all his triumph only
regretted that he could not show it to Prinee Mistletoe.
Aunt Bell's New-year's party was quite perfect, of
course, but even that would have been better if the
Ogre's grandson had been there; and this brought down
upon Pat a storm of indignation from the rest of the
family, who considered it treason of the deepest dye
to hint that anything to do with Aunt Bell was capable
of improvement. The faintest shade of discontent was
so new in Pat, that it could only be explained by the
idea that the old wizard at the Orchards had cast a
spell over him, and, to punish him for his trespassing,
had made a wax image which he would torment in
various ways-by running red-hot pins into it or
melting it slowly in front of the fire, and that every-
thing that was done to the image would be felt by Pat
in the flesh ; and though Pat declared that he did not
feel red-hot pins running into him, or detect any
symptoms of wasting away, the family in general stuck
to its opinion of Pat's doom.
But, when the snow came down and the frost began,
the wizard's spell seemed to have less power, and Pat
thought less of the Orchards and Prince Mistletoe.
Whether it was that he built the thought up in the
gigantic snow-man on the lawn; or flung it away in
that furious cannonade of snowballs with which he and
Molly defended the snow fort in the meadow against
the desperate assaults of Paddy, Nora, and Peter; or
whether it was shaken out of him in the first tremen-
dous cropper he came on the ice, I cannot say; but
certain it is, that by the end of the holidays he thought
as little of the mysterious giver a'he thought of the
mistletoe he had given which had turned yellow apnd
shrivelled on the nail in the beam.
The frost came just when it ought that winter, that
is, in the holidays. Other -years it had come in an
inconsiderate way in schooltime and only lasted a day
or two, without giving any one a chance of learning
to skate, and had thawed altogether by the time the
holidays came; and if the boys on a half-holiday had
struggled up to Regent's Park or the Serpentine, they
had barely time to get their skates on and tumble down
once before it was time to come away; and they got so
hustled and pushed about that they hardly knew if
they stood on their head or their heels, though they
might safely have concluded that it was the former
CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY YS. 95
But now John Keith took them in hand and set
them going; and there was the piece of water in his
park always at their service, and swept clear of snow
and watered every evening while the frost lasted.
"Awfully slippery!". as Molly complained as she
just tottered on her skates, as if that were a new and
unexpected defect in ice; and she and Nora decidedly
gave the preference to the small and very rough pond
at Kelburn Lodge, of which one end had been broken
up for the benefit of the ducks, and where they solemnly
sailed about between a couple of chairs till they were
more at home on their treacherous footing.
The frost began on New-year's Day, and lasted un-
broken till the end of the holidays; and frost and snow
mean fun, at least to the young Brights, and such as
they; though, I fear, they mean trouble and poverty,
and sickness and hunger, to many.
THE NEW BOY
S ISS PINK, one morning, on seeing Pat pass her
Window just as she was placing a triumph of
millinery on the head of her dummy, ex-
claimed, When are you coming to have breakfast with
me again ?"
It was the first day of school, and the bell had rung
full ten minutes ago, right in Pat's ears as he came up
Paul Street with Paddy. But Paddy went into school
alone, and when Pat's name was called no voice
answered "A dseum;" and when Paddy was asked
where he was he mumbled out something so indistinct
than no one was any the wiser. The fact was, that Pat
had fallen under the spell again-the very first sight of
the Orchards had been enough to set him off.
They had been talking, Paddy said afterwards, as
jolly as anything about the pig being killed, when
they came in sight of that bothering old place half a
mile or more along the road.
Look !" he exclaimed. Look! There he is!"
"Who ? The pigsticker ?"
"Pigsticker! It's young Carrington-Master Ray-
Prince Mistletoe-the Ogre's grandson!"
Any one else ?" said Paddy. "Brown, Jones, and
Robinson, perhaps ?"