\ U 1,\1 \. ( [I I u ,.
A YEAR AT
LONDON AND NEW YORK
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS.
PRINTED BY SIxMoNs & DOTTIEN,
Shoe Lane, E.C.
AFTER THE HOLIDAYS
A NEW SCHOLAR
AFTER THE BATTLE .
KEEPING A BIRTHDAY
THE MIDSUMMER EXAMINATION 78
ONE MISSING 89
Gus TO THE RESCUE .98
THE PIC-NIC 109
AN IMPORTANT VISITOR. 119
A NUTTING EXPEDITION 128
THE EMPLOYERS' PRIZE SCHEME 140
A LEAVE-TAKING 148
SUCCESS AND ENVY 158
THE CHRISTMAS EXAMINATION 170
THE ANNUAL GATHERING 179
A YEAR AT SCHOOL.
AFTER THE HOLIDAYS.
T was a clear, cold, frosty morning,
in January, 186-, and the first school
day in the new year. It wanted quite
S half an hour to school time, yet in
the large playground of Copsley School
was a little group of boys who had come thus
early to meet their schoolfellows, and to chat over
the fun they had had in the holidays. They looked
sturdy, jolly fellows, as they stood there wrapped
in their warm overcoats, their faces ruddy with
cold, and three or four of them talking all at
once, as they described what sports they had had.
A Year at School.
"Back to school again" is never shouted
quite so enthusiastically as Home for the holi-
days," and yet most intelligent boys are glad to
get back to school when the time comes for them
to do so. When they "break up" they feel as if
they could enjoy a perpetual vacation, and for the
first week or so, while everyone else is taking
holiday, they certainly do enjoy themselves im-
mensely. But when father and elder brothers
have again to attend closely to business, when
mother is fully occupied with household cares,
when there are no more little parties, and no
more entertainments or friends to visit, the leisure
time begins to hang heavily on their hands, and
all boys, who are not downright idlers, are glad to
get off to school again. Although they do not
put it before them in so many words, they soon
find that holiday is only pleasant as a change, and
they for the first time learn the useful lesson that
work is better than play.
It was so with these boys. Before they left
After the Holidays.
for the Christmas holidays they had got thoroughly
tired of school work. Right away from the Mid-
summer vacation they had been hard at work at
their lessons; and at last they had begun to
consider the schoolroom as a prison, the lessons
as penances, and the master as a tyrant. But
now, after being away only three weeks, they were
quite astonished to find what a pleasure there
was in coming back to the familiar old place,
and in meeting their master and their fellow-
But all this time we have left the little group
of early comers chatting and standing out in the
cold. Surely they have finished their gossip
No, they have not. George Benson is just
showing his playfellows how narrowly he escaped
being thrown by the little pony he had been
riding at his uncle's, and with his skate-strap for
a rein he is demonstrating how cleverly he pulled
the animal round just at the right instant.
But it is getting near school time now, and
the boys are fast arriving. Presently we hear a
great shout of "Hurrah! hurrah! here's Gus
Brookes;" and a boy, apparently about thirteen
years of age, squarely built, and with a roguish,
jolly face, enters the playground.
Gus Brookes was the strongest boy in the
school, and the little ones firmly believed that if
he once put out his strength the schoolmaster
would be powerless in his hands. He was the
leader in all the school sports, and although not
particularly bright at his lessons, his generous,
impulsive good-nature made him a general
How good you all are," said he. I should
think you are trying to curry favour with the
master by coming so early. I wonder how many
of you are going to keep on as well as you have
begun? I should have been here as early as any
of you though, but I have been skating since
six o'clock till breakfast on the mill-pond."
A Year at School.
After the Holidays.
"How does it bear?" was the immediate
inquiry of half-a-dozen boys eager for the
"As safe as houses in some parts," he replied,
adding, with an air of conscious superiority, but
I'd advise anybody who can't swim well to keep
away from the weir."
Immediately upon this another burst of cheer-
ing told of the arrival of another popular pupil,
and a glance at him showed that his popularity
must arise from far different causes from those
which made Gus Brookes a favourite. This boy,
who was greeted as Alec Gordon, was a slight-
made, pale-faced lad, with thin features, and clear,
piercing grey eyes. He was wrapped in a great-
coat, and had a warm woollen comforter round his
neck; but for all that he was shivering with
Alec Gordon was the cleverest boy in the
school, and although he was not strong enough
to join in any of the boisterous sports, his gentle
A Year at School.
demeanour and kindness made him a favourite with
most of the scholars.
Almost close upon his heels there came a
smart lad, dressed in a well-fitting suit, wearing
a bright-coloured scarf, and fine cloth gloves.
"Oh my !" said Gus Brookes, ain't Charlie
Davis coming out a swell. I should think they'll
put his portrait in the fashion plates soon."
"Twig his purple gloves and his new 'tile,' "
said Bob Johnson.
"Good 1...'!,- Mr. Davis," said Sam
Townley, assuming a lackadaisical air, "may I
inquire if you feel tolerable well after the excite-
ments of your holidays ?"
"Don't be a donkey," said Charlie, who,
though rather fond of dress, was by no means
so foolish as people sometimes thought him.
Have any of you fellows got heating appa-
ratus concealed under your coats ?" asked Alec
Gordon. To see how comfortable you look, one
might be inclined to think you could draw warmth
After the Holidays.
out of frost, while I am shivering enough to shake
to pieces. Come, let's have a game. Here, 'll
be tick Look out! There you are, Gus-you
If a bombshell had fallen in the centre of the
group they could not have scattered much more
quickly than they did when Alec Gordon cried
" tick," and started the game. In an instant they
were off in all directions, running hither and
thither as one after another became the "ticker,"
until at nine o'clock the schoolmaster stepped into
the playground and blew his whistle.
Copsley School was situated in the centre of a
large manufacturing district in the Midland Coun-
ties. Although a cheap school, it was famed
throughout the neighbourhood for the thorough,
practical, middle-class education imparted; and,
as a consequence, many of the 'pupils came from
a distance, and brought their dinners with
Mr. Stanton, the master, was tall and dark
A Year at School.
gentlemanly in manners, a good scholar, and a
truly good man. He was assisted in the manage-
ment of his two hundred pupils by four junior
masters, and also by a few of the elder boys, who
occasionally acted as monitors to the younger
As was the invariable custom at Copsley
School, as soon as the master's whistle was blown
all play was stopped, and the scholars, running
from every nook and corner of the playground,
and tumbling out of the schoolroom, fell into line
with the precision of soldiers, each class having a
particular spot to stand on. Having thus formed
themselves in a long line, curving round the whole
of one side of the playground, they saluted their
master with a bow, went through a little drilling,
and then marched single file into the schoolroom,
singing some marching tune, and as they came to
their particular places they filed off, one class at a
The school was opened as usual with singing
After the Holidays.
and prayer, but instead of proceeding with the les-
sons as on an ordinary school-day, the master told
the lads to sit down for a little while, as he wanted
to speak to them. He began by wishing them
each and all a "Happy New Year."
"Thank you, sir-the same to you," responded
a chorus of merry voices, and the lads gave vent
to their exuberant spirits by giving "three cheers
for the master."
"Now, my boys," said Mr. Stanton, it is of
little use to wish each other a 'Happy New
Year' unless we determine to make it a happy
one. I hope you have all come back to school
with an earnest purpose to do yourselves and me
credit. You will not be able to come to school
much longer. Many of you will soon be called
upon to earn your living. I trust you will there-
fore improve the little time you have to the best
advantage. Let us all make a fresh start. I can
sincerely say that I forgive everyone of you any
anxiety or trouble you may have caused me in the
A Year at School.
past year. We now stand fair and square for the
new one. If you only try your best, you may
make this the happiest and most prosperous year
of your school life. And now let us commence
With that the different classes passed off to
their proper places, and commenced their various
A NEW SCHOLAR.
'-. FEAR there was not much work done
S on that first morning after the holi-
i days. Neither men nor boys can
settle down very readily after a time
And then there were so many things to at-
tract the attention of the boys. There had been
various little repairs done which required to be
Gus Brookes found that the old desk where he
and five other boys sat for the writing lesson, and
which had been shaky for some time past, had been
replaced by a new one, which in its whiteness was
quite a contrast to the others, black with ink-
12 A Year at School.
stains. But Gus liked his old desk much better than
the new one. Although it had had more ink on
it than any desk in the school, it was endeared to
him by old associations, and some of them of a
rather peculiar character. He could doubtless have
told how many lines he had to write for each par-
ticular time he had upset his ink-pot by his care-
lessness. And then it was ornamented with his
initials in letters of all sizes and shapes, and had
a wonderful portrait cut in it of one of the as-
sistant teachers whom Gus greatly disliked, and
.whom he had nicknamed "Boney," because he
thought he saw some resemblance in his features
to those of Napoleon Bonaparte. Another reason
for the dislike Gus had for his new desk was, if he
upset his ink now it would show alarmingly plain,
whereas if he did so on his old one, and could
manage to dry it up quickly with his slate sponge,
he might have defied a London detective to say
whether or not there had been any new stain.
He silently resolved to reproduce the initials and
A New Scholar. 13
the portrait, and wished-oh how earnestly !-
that some other lad would stain his part of the
desk in his absence.
Then all the hat-pegs which had been broken
by being used as gymnastic apparatus had been
replaced by new ones. All the broken windows
were repaired. The mouse-hole under the book-
cupboard (for watching which, poor Bob Johnson
had had to write many an extra page of Natural
History) was stopped up. The old map of
Europe, which had got quite indistinct from fre-
quent use, was replaced by a bright new one,
which, to the terror of the boys, seemed to have
nearly twice as many towns, rivers, and moun-
tains delineated on its brightly varnished surface.
And worst of all, the master brandished a new
cane, strong and supple; and from the way in
which it twisted about in his hands, it seemed in
a hurry to be seasoned on the back of some luck-
And'after these new things had been noticed,
A Year at School.
and silently commented on, the old ones had to
be glanced at and recognized.
George Benson found on his desk a rather
rude engraving of his uncle's little pony, which he
had cut in on his return from his visit at Mid-
summer. He now surveyed it with a critical eye,
and got his knife out, so that when the master
looked another way he might make such improve-
ments in the design as were suggested by his more
recent remembrance of that animal.
There were the same old books piled up in the
cupboards ; the same regiment of ink-bottles
under the master's desk; the same moral maxims
in unreadable ornamental letters round the walls;
the same colony of sparrows in the waterspout,
occasionally peeping through the upper panes of
the windows with an impertinent curiosity that
was quite amusing; and many of the same old
faces ranged along the desks.
By the time the lads had completed their
survey of the objects surrounding them, a new
A New Scholar.
cause of -inattention presented itself-a fresh boy
entered the school, accompanied by his father.
He looked about thirteen years of age, and had an
intelligent face, but was much confused by the
curious gaze he met, whichever way he looked.
He was clean and neat, but his clothes bore
evident signs of home production.
Good morning, sir," said the man, as the
schoolmaster approached; my name is Lindsay.
I want my son Edward to enter your school."
"What school has he been to before?" said
"To Mr. Jones' school, at Rudham. I am
rather proud of it, sir, but Mr. Jones said he
could not teach him much more, and advised me
to bring him to you."
On hearing this, Mr. Stanton examined the
new pupil in writing, arithmetic, etc., and then said
he thought he would do for the second class, and
if he worked hard he might soon get into the first.
Are there any boys from our neighbourhood
16 A Year at School.
whom you could recommend as companions for
my son to come and go with ?" asked Mr. Lind-
"Let me see," said Mr. Stanton, you live at
Rudham. Do you know John and William Par-
sons? Their father is one of the foremen at
"I know Mr. Parsons very well," said Mr.
Lindsay, "but not the boys."
"They are very steady lads, and the younger
one will be in the same class. Young Brookes
goes pretty nearly the same way home; but,
although not a bad boy, he is hardly steady
William Parsons was then called, introduced to
Edward Lindsay and his father, and then sent to
his place with the new boy for a companion.
"What a shy youngster !" said Gus Brookes;
"he looks as timid as if we were going to eat
S"Shouldn't you like to beg the pattern of his
A New Scholar.
coat ?" asked Charlie Davis of his neighbour. I
wonder who is his tailor ?"
"Can't you see," said Bob Johnson, "his
grandfather left him that suit of clothes inhis will,
and his mother has altered them to make them
Edward Lindsay felt anything but comfortable
as he sat in his class, and looked round on his
new companions. He saw that all of them were
better dressed than himself, and occasionally his
face flushed crimson as he overheard whispered
sneers at the plainness of his clothes. He saw,
too, that the studies were much more advanced
than those he had been used to. Even in his pet
subject, arithmetic, he found all the boys in his
class somewhat ahead of him. His highest sums
had been in Practice and Compound Proportion;
but he now found the dullest of his class-mates
working vulgar and decimal fractions, while he
scarcely knew a denominator from a numerator.
Thinking of these things made him low-spirited
18 A Year at School.
and nervous, and when he might have answered a
question he was too much confused to do so.
Dinner-time passed a bit pleasanter, and then
the afternoon followed, much as the morning had
done, in little discouragements for the new boy.
It was quite a release for him when the benedic-
tion was pronounced, and he walked off home
with William Parsons, between whom and Ed-
ward quite a friendship had sprung up.,
The home-lesson appointed for the second
class was an outline map of England; but Ed-
ward Lindsay had never tried to draw a map in
Ils life, and besides he had no atlas to copy from.
His friend, William suggested that, as a new boy,
the master would not expect one from him, but to
this argument Edward would not listen. He had
resolved to equal his competitors before long, and
he knew he must not begin by shirking a difficult
Seeing his determination, William Parsons
asked him to come up to their house in the even-
A New Scholar.
ing, and he would show him how he did his map,
and lend him his atlas.
When Edward went up, he was astonished to
find John Parsons, who was in the first class,
working out a geometrical figure with compasses.
And turning to William, he was surprised at the
ease and rapidity with which he traced the rugged
outline of our island home; and when he got his
colours, and tinted his map with a pink border,
his admiration knew no bounds.
Then he tried to draw one, but time after time
he had to rub off his blacklead lines and start
again. At last, however, he succeeded in produc-
ing a recognizable outline.
When the master saw it next morning, he
was very much pleased with it. He had not ex-
pected one from him at all, but had forgotten to
tell him so.
SHERE were about thirty of the scholars
S at Copsley School who lived at such
1 a distance that they preferred to bring
their dinners with them instead of
i.t ing the walk to and from home.
There was considerable variety in the pro-
visions brought by the different boys. Slices
of bread and butter, bread and cheese, ham and
beef sandwiches, and small pork pies, were the
usual viands produced at dinner-time. Others
brought slices of ham or bacon, which they cooked
in a very primitive fashion over the class-room
In most cases the lads were careful to have as
The Dinner-Time. 2 1
little weight to carry as possible. Some even
brought no victuals at all, but begged twopence
instead, with which they bought a penny roll and
a pennyworth of treacle, the two making a meal
whose delicacy only a schoolboy can appreciate.
Some of the boys, however, were in the habit
of bringing rather more pretentious dinners.
There were three brothers in particular-Alfred,
Thomas, and James Edgeworth, hearty, hungry,
growing lads who generally brought a large
plateful of cold meat and a fruit pie for division
among them. It was a standing joke among
their schoolfellows that the rest of the boys could
eat two dinners while Alf, Tom, and Jim Edge-
worth were quarrelling over theirs. They were
irritable, cross-grained lads, as one might have
guessed, judging from their red hair and surly
faces. Alfred was the tallest boy in the school,
though not so strong as Gus Brookes, and could
easily have settled any dispute with his younger
brothers by sheer strength; but although he
A Year at School.
would have preferred to do so he knew that if he
did he should get severely punished when he went
home at night.
As soon as morning school was over there
was a rush to the little closet set apart for the
dinner baskets. In the summer the lads seized
their respective dinners and ate them in the coolest
place they could find; but in the winter all the
boys by common consent wished to get near the
fire, and as they preferred an open fireplace to a
closed stove they generally sat in the class-
It was here that Edward Lindsay first became
intimate with his new companions. On the first
day of his arrival he had been subjected to a great
deal of cross examination, through which he had
passed creditably, and now on his second day at
Copsley School he felt a little more at ease.
He and John and William Parsons had got
into the class-room early, and had secured com-
fortable seats, when the three Edgeworth boys
came in with what Bob Johnson called their
Alf looked round, and finding all the best
seats occupied, he turned rudely on the new
scholar and said-
"I say, Lindsay, come out of that seat, will
you ? It is mine."
I'm sure it isn't," said John Parsons. You
know very well that the places belong to those
who first get them. Don't you stir, Ted," he
said, turning to the timid lad, who had already
Oh, I don't mind at all," said Edward Lind-
say. "I would rather he sat there if he wishes
to." And with that he moved away to the other
side of the room, to the perfect astonishment of
his new schoolfellows.
"I should be ashamed to take advantage of a
fresh chap in that way," said George Benson, as
he knelt on the fender and toasted his bread and
A Year at School.
"Catch anybody who knows him moving for
him," put in Gus Brookes, as a taunt.
No one asked you to speak," growled out
Alf, who was a trifle ashamed of what he had
He now opened the large dinner-basket and
began to divide the provisions with his two
brothers. There was some cavilling about the
sharing of the meat, but when he began to carve
the apple pie the clamour was quite astonishing.
"I say, Alf, I haven't got so much as you,"
protested Tom, while Jim complained that he had
not enough apple for his piece of paste.
"I shall tell your mother-so I shall," said
Jim; "you always keep the best piece for your-
"He should tell his mother then !" said Sam
Townley, with mock sympathy, as he lay on a
bench with his feet stuck Yankee fashion against
the mantelpiece, this being a favourite posture
with him after dinner.
The Dinner- Time,
I say, Parsons," said Gus Brookes to John,
"have you learned the rule for dividing a circle
into three equal parts ? I've hardly got to that
yet. If you can do it I wish you would fetch
your instruments and divide that pie for those
chaps. I don't like my dinner-time disturbed in
The lads generally managed to despatch their
dinners by a quarter or half-past twelve, and so
they had fully an hour and a half left for sport.
This time was variously spent. In the summer
cricket attracted many of the lads; others pre-
ferred to take a walk in the wood, and loll about
on the velvety grass, while one of their number
read aloud some romance or adventure; and still
others hied away to the canal for fishing or bath-
ing. In colder weather there were lots of warm
games-tick, rounders, circular swings, leap-frog,
football, and, grandest of all, "hare and hounds,"
in which game the lads often ran for two or three
miles. In winter the boys flocked to the nearest
A Year at School.
ponds for skating or sliding; or, if the weather
was damp, they assembled in the school and class-
rooms, where they huddled round the fire and
listened to tales or conundrums. Sam Townley
was responsible for most of the stories given at
such times. He had an omnivorous appetite for
every variety of romance or fairy tale. He sub-
scribed to several periodicals for the young which
teemed with tales
Of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field;
Of hair-breadth 'scapes i' the imminent deadly breach;
Of being taken by the insolent foe,
And sold to slavery."
But on this Tuesday afternoon the lads seemed
unable to settle down to any game. The frost,
which had held out bravely through the holidays,
had begun to give way early on the Monday night,
and on Tuesday the boys found the roads muddy
instead of hard, and the ice on the pools unsafe.
Perhaps the dampness of the weather damped
their spirits. At any rate they grieved over the
departure of their old friend Jack Frost.
And so skating and sliding were out of the
question, and the play-ground was so muddy from
the thaw that it was decidedly unpleasant even to
walk about, without incurring the additional dis-
comforts of splashing and possible stumbles which
would attend a game. So the lads lounged about
the school-room, talked over their holidays, and
laid plans for future enjoyment, until the master's
whistle again summoned them to their studies.
.. --', N the next Friday morning Gus
Brookes awoke just as the old-
'-'" fashioned kitchen clock was striking
-six, and sat up in bed debating with
I myself whether he should get up or not.
For the last few days the weather had been
so bad that he had had no sport when he had
"It seems very cold," he said, as he rubbed
his eyes and tried to look through the window;
but somehow the panes were so dim that he
could scarcely see through them.
"It is very queer," thought Gus, as he got
out of bed. It surely can't be a frost after such
A Snow-Fight. 29
a long thaw. It is though," he almost shouted,
as he reached the window; "and snow, too!
Hurrah A white world "
There was no question now about lying in
bed. He was soon, washed and dressed, and he
then hurried downstairs, where the servant was
lighting the fire and preparing breakfast. Of
course he did not hesitate what to do. It was a
deep snow, and he knew his mother would want
the snow cleared away from the back-yard, and a
way made to the coal-shed and fowl-pen. By the
time breakfast was ready, Gus was all in a glow,
his face as ruddy as health and exercise could
make it, and when his father and mother thanked
him for what he had done he felt as happy as
could be. As soon as breakfast was over, he
hastened to school to celebrate with his school-
fellows the return of their old friend, Jack Frost.
On arriving at school, he and a few other big
lads held a meeting together, and congratulated
each other on the advent of such a glorious fall of
A Year at School.
snow, and proceeding at once to make the most of
the circumstance, the meeting resolved itself into
a council for war. They agreed that as soon as
they could despatch their dinners they would divide
into two parties, one on each side of the lower
end of the playground, and have a jolly snow-fight.
It was only about a quarter past twelve, there-
fore, when Gus Brookes and Alf Edgeworth,
having arranged the preliminaries, called their
schoolmates to join in the contest.
In all games in which two sides were wanted
Gus Brookes and Alf Edgeworth were invariably
the captains of the opposing forces. They were
the biggest boys in the schools, and were con-
sidered tolerably well matched, since what advan-
tage Gus lost in stature, was balanced by his
superior strength. In a snow-fight, however,
Edgeworth was no mean antagonist. He was
left-handed, and, as is often the case with such
lads, he could throw with marvellous precision
and with tremendous force.
Snowballing is a very healthful, exhilarating
sport, but it would be well if lads only indulged in
it under certain proper conditions. Of course
only those should be snowballed who are able and
willing to enjoy the fun. It is both cowardly and
wicked to throw snowballs, as some boys do, at
old folks, girls, and children-people who cannot
retaliate. Then again, snowballing ought to be
practised so as not to be dangerous to property;
there should be no windows near, or the chances
are they will be broken. Lastly, boys ought not to
make their snowballs too hard. If their object is
to bruise other boys' faces till they are twice as
big as they ought to be, they need not wait for
snow: stones and brickbats will do it much more
effectively. But if they throw snowballs for sport
they need only be squeezed just hard enough to
keep the snow together when thrown; there is
no necessity for them to be made as hard as
Now Gus Brookes very wisely insisted on
A Year at School.
these conditions. The fight was to take place in
the lower part of the playground, right away from
any windows; no one was to be hit but those
boys who voluntarily offered to join the game;
and no snowballs were to be made hard enough
to hurt any one seriously.
Away the lads trooped to the appointed spot,
and, having borrowed spades from the school-
house, they cleared a space about six yards wide
between the contending parties, throwing up the
snow on each side like entrenchments. One by
one the different captains chose the boys for their
respective sides. A few of the town boys had
hurried in after a hasty dinner, so that there were
nearly a score on each side. Ten minutes were
allowed for making snowballs, and the lads,
closely buttoned up to the chin and warmly
gloved, began to press the snow into shape.
As Gus Brookes looked round' on his party,
he saw he had got rather the worst of it.
Edgeworth had got two or three of the best
throwers, and some of the hardiest of the boys.
He saw at once it was a case of skill and manage-
ment against sheer force. He according) deputed
four of the boys to do nothing else but guard,
and from time to time replenish the stock of
frosty ammunition; and choosing two or three
of the best boys, he explained his plans. He
hoped to drive the opponents back, and, if
possible, secure their snowballs. Of course, if
he could push them right out of their snow
ramparts his party would gain the victory.
As soon as the ten minutes' truce was over,
Alfred Edgeworth began to send his snowballs
fierce and fast into the opposite camp, stop-
ping one boy's ear, completely covering the eyes
of another, and almost filling the mouth of a
'third who happened to be laughing loudly at the
moment. When he saw a few of them fall
.back from the front to get their faces clear of
the snow, he rushed forward with an armful
*:. snowballs at the head of his party, conscious
A Year at School.
of his superior force and confident of an easy
But Gus had expected this attack, and had
prepared for it. He had only replied occasionally
to the heavy firing of the enemy, reserving his
strength and snowballs until they could be more
effectively employed. So when he saw his oppo-
nents rushing on him, he shouted to his com-
rades, "Now for it, lads!" and Sam Townley,
who had just been reading an account of the
battle of Waterloo, used Wellington's words on
that occasion, and as he hurled a big snowball
full in Charlie Davis's face he shouted grandilo-
quently, Up, guards, and at them! "
Perfectly surprised at the reception they met
with, Edgeworth's party were soon glad to retreat,
and when once they started to run they found it
hard to stop, until Brookes and his fellows had
followed them right into their own quarter, and
were using the snowballs in its attack which had
been prepared or its defence. However, they
soon rallied, and though Gus did not give up all
he had gained by his stratagem, he had to retire
The battle raged for about half-an-hour, some-
times one side getting a small advantage, and
then the other; but it was easy for any one to
see that slowly but surely Edgeworth's party were
being driven back by Gus Brookes.
As he lost the game Arl-.1.i began to lose his
temper. He once or twice cried out that the
other side were not playing fair, while at the
same time he was altogether disregarding one of
the conditions agreed upon. Several times Gus
Brookes saw one or another of his lads'retire
with tears in their eyes, after getting one of Edge-
worth's hard swift balls on the face, and he him-
self had abundant opportunity of testing how
dreadfully hard they were, since he received, as a
rule, about every fourth hit himself. As he was
.ii'li,.:, however, he thought he would not raise
a quibble which would make the victory question-
36 A Year at School.
able, so at it he went, and drove the enemy
further across the playground.
We have intimated that Alfred Edgeworth was
a coward, and so he proved himself in this battle.
He was very angry at being beaten by a weaker
force, and was sending snowballs as hard as he
could make them at his opponents, when one of
the same sort hit him straight in the eye, and he
heard Sam Townley's taunting vice shouting,
"'There, Alf, see how you like one of your own
Now, although he had thrown scores of balls
quite as hard as the one that hit him, it caused
him such exquisite pain that he almost howled.
He said nothing, however, but at once decided on
the cowardly trick of throwing stones in the snow-
balls. He wrapped them up very carefully with
snow, and hitting Sam Townley on the chest with
one, he made him pant for breath. Ball after ball
was thrown with stones inside, but Alf was so
closely pressed by his opponents that he could
not take a correct aim. At length his party
were pushed right away from their ramparts,
when, just as Gus Brookes was about to shout
"Victory there was a sudden cry of pain, and
John Parsons fell backwards on a heap of snow,
which was speedily crimsoned with blood from
a wound on the side of his head.
Of course the fight was at once stopped, and
John was carried almost fainting into the school-
house, where his wound was bathed and dressed.
AFTER THE BATTLE.
-. 'T was with great difficulty that Mrs.
''I Jones, who lived in the school-house,
could keep the lads out of the little
sitting-room where John Parsons lay
..n the sofa before a warm fire. Every
now and then, when she went into the other room,
or when she was engaged in bathing the wounded
boy's forehead, some boy would creep in, not-
withstanding her orders to the contrary.
Outside the school-house yard stood Alfred
Edgeworth, pale and excited. He had not the
courage to go in and speak to the lad whom he
had ill-used; but as each visitor came out he
pounced upon him, and eagerly inquired if John
After the Battle.
Parsons knew who had thrown the stone. As all
answered in the negative he began to feel a little
more at his ease, although his conscience still
In the little crowd of boys who, not having
the courage to disobey Mrs. Jones, vainly pleaded
with her for permission to see the sufferer, was
the new schoolboy, Edward Lindsay; and in order
to understand the story, it will be necessary to
inquire how he had been engaged while the events
recorded in the last chapter had been transpiring.
He had taken no part in the snow-fight; for
although not what would be called delicate, he was
not robust, i;,,!1., slight exertion was sufficient to
exhaust him. But besides that, he had other
reasons for declining to play. It will be remem-
bered that his fellow-pupils were most of them in
advance of him in nearly every branch of study,
and as he had set himself the task of overtaking
them, it wasnecessary for him to devote some of
his leisure to study. Now, on this particular morn-
A Year at School.
ing Mr. Stanton had worked out at full length on a
black-board a rather difficult sum in vulgar fractions,
and Edward Lindsay had determined thoroughly
to master, and permanently to fix in his me-
mory, all the complex calculations involved in this
sum. So after dinner he walked down into the
playground, saw the two opposing parties in
battle array, and then walked back into the school-
room, seated himself at a desk in front of the
black-board, and was soon deep in the problem
before him. Time after time he worked the sum,
first copying from the board, and then doing it,
as lads say, "out of his own head," and com-
paring results. At last he jumped up, cleaned
his slate, and walked out, conscious of having
mastered all the processes of a difficult sum, and
feeling quite as proud of that victory as the winner
of the snow-fight would be of his.
On coming into the playground, the Babel of
cries which proceeded from the lower end told him
that the battle was still raging high, and drawn by
After the Battle.
the influence which a great struggle of any kind
always exerts over high-spirited lads, he ran
towards the scene of the conflict, and looked on-
the only boy in the playground not actually en-
gaged in the fight. Alfred Edgeworth had for
some time been throwing occasional snowballs
loaded with stones, and it was not long before
Edward Lindsay perceived his treachery. Now, if
any of the boys on Edgeworth's side had seen
him throwing stones, and thereby breaking one of
the rules of the game, it is very likely they would
have stopped him; for the majority of English
boys have a strong dislike to downright meanness,
and besides, Alfred was no favourite with any of
them ; but so exciting was the engagement, that
if Edgeworth had pulled off his own head and
thrown it, his companions would probably not
have noticed the fact until they had found his
headless trunk lying in their way.
Edward Lindsay's first impulse was to report
what he saw to the opposite party, for although
43 A Year at School.
he had not heard the laws of the game rehearsed,
he felt instinctively that stones were not allowed
to pass for snow. But then there crept in a bit of
shyness. He was a new boy, and hardly liked to
interfere, and before he had time to overcome his
backwardness he saw, to his dismay, his friend
John struck down with one of the dangerous mis-
siles. Before he could get near, John was carried
into the house, and now Edward stood impatiently
waiting for an opportunity to see his friend.
It's no use you lads a-waitin'," said Mrs.
Jones, for about the twentieth time; the poor
boy wants quiet an' rest, an' if I let a score o' you
noisy chaps in a-chatterin' an' a-talkin', there's
no known' as he mightn't be took with brain-
fever, or summat worse."
"Please, Mrs. Jones," said Edward, beseech-
ingly, "do let me see him. I won't put him
about, I promise you; but I want to speak to him
The matron was about to repeat her refusal,
After t1e Battle.
but John, having recognized his friend's voice,
asked her as an especial favour to let him in.
Which o' you boys is named Ted Lindsay ?"
asked she; and as Edward stepped forward, she
continued, If you will promise not to excite him,
you can come in.for a minute or two, but nobody
else, so you others may as well walk off as not."
And so, to the great mortification of his
schoolfellows, Edward tripped eagerly up the steps,
and was soon seated beside his friend.
"How are you, John ?" said he; "are you
much hurt ?"
Not much," said John, but my head aches,
and I feel sick, and almost like fainting."
Edward then detailed what he knew of the
cause of his hurt, and asked John if he should tell
the schoolmaster of it.
John Parsons was not much surprised to hear
who had thrown the stone; he had some suspi-
cions of Alfred Edgeworth, and his first idea was
to revenge himself by "getting him into trouble.
But after a while a better feeling came over him.
and with all a schoolboy's aversion to telling tales,
he decided to let matters take their own course.
He felt sufficiently recompensed in the fact that
his side had won.
Then you won't let me tell the master about
it ?" asked Edward.
"Certainly not, Ted. I don't think I shall
tell anyone myself, and you must not on any ac-
count, for it would only get you into trouble with
Alf; and besides, the other lads wouldn't trust
you after if you began to carry tales to the master.
Mr. Stanton is almost sure to find out who it is
without asking questions. Of course, if he asks,
you will tell him, but I do not want you to tell
unless he does. I'll be bound Alf feels ashamed
and miserable enough as it is. But hark! there
is the school whistle-you must be off. I daresay
I shall go home before you come out, for the
master said I was to go with Will as soon as my
head was well enough. You must come up after
A Year at School.
After the Battle.
tea and see me. Good-bye Now, mind and
don't tell what you know without you are asked."
With that Edward Lindsay ran off and took
his place in the marching line, which had already
formed, and as he did so he noticed Alfred Edge-
worth watching him with a scowl on his face.
S the lads entered the schoolroom for
S" afternoon studies, a single glance at
the stern brow of their schoolmaster
S sufficed to tell them that he was aware
S of the little tragedy which had so abruptly
terminated the snow-fight. After the opening
services had been gone through, instead of direct-
ing the classes to file off to the various class-
rooms as usual, he called for silence, and at once
alluded to the affair which was uppermost in each
mind. He first dwelt on the meanness and
cowardliness evinced by the act of throwing
stones in snowballs.
"I am ashamed," said he, "to think that after
all I have said, after all the lessons I have taught,
there should be found in this school a boy so
deceitful, so cowardly, and so ungentlemanly as to
throw stones under pretence of throwing harmless
snowballs. Had it been in the street, among
rough, uncultivated boys, however much I might
have felt shocked, I should scarcely have been sur-
prised. But here, within my own school-grounds,
among boys whom by precept, and I hope also by
example, I have trained to be upright, honest, and
straightforward, I am both astonished and indig-
nant to find there is one boy at least who has
profited so little by my teaching as to be capable
of the wretched meanness the effects of which
you are all aware of. Whoever the boy is, he is
doubly guilty; for not only has he done what he
knew to be altogether wrong, but he has done it
after having pledged his word not to do it."
"I am determined to find out who was the
offender, and, as you all know, I generally succeed
when I set myself the task. I feel certain of dis-
A Year at School.
covering who it is, but I will give the boy a chance
of confession. I have already resolved what
punishment such a lad deserves, but if that lad
should now be thoroughly ashamed of what he
has done, and if he will openly confess that it was
he who did it, I will only inflict half the penalty.
I do not wish anyone to tell tales. I would rather
the guilty boy should voluntarily own his fault.
I will give him three minutes, and if the boy will
come into the middle of the room and confess his
misdoing, I shall gladly remit half the punish-
A dead silence followed. The boys looked
round the room to see if anyone left his place, but
no one moved. Those who had been engaged in
the snow-fight felt concerned, for they had never
seen the master so angry before. Alfred Edge-
worth sat trembling in his place, and the colour
came and went as one second after another was
ticked out by the clock, now distinctly heard amid
the unbroken stillness. Once or twice he felt
inclined to step forward and own himself the
wrong-doer. He would willingly have escaped
half the penalty by so doing, but he argued that no
one had seen him, and so, by keeping his seat, he
might escape the whole of the punishment.
Slowly the clock ticked away the seconds, and
the three minutes, which had appeared like half-an-
hour, were gone, and then with quivering lip and
flashing eye the master stepped down from his desk.
"It seems," said he, that the boy is a greater
coward than I thought him. We must try some
other way of finding him out. The snowball con-
taining the stone which wounded John Parsons
must have been thrown by some one on the oppo-
site side. All the boys who belonged to the other
party will leave their seats and stand in the centre
of the room."
With reluctant and timid steps the boys formed
a line, wondering if the master were going to
punish them all to make sure of the right one.
Alfred Edgeworth, instead of going to the head of
A Year at School.
the line as he would have done under ordinary cir-
cumstances, took his station somewhere about the
middle of it.
"I shall now," said Mr. Stanton, ask every
one of these boys if he has thrown a stone this
afternoon, and by that I doubt not I shall find out
the criminal, for I hope no boy in my school will
tell me a barefaced lie."
And then in a stern and determined tone he
asked each boy if he had thrown a stone that
"No, sir !" answered each one, until he came
to Alfred Edgeworth, who was so excited he could
scarcely control his voice.
Speak up, Edgeworth," said the master; did
you throw a stone this afternoon ?"
"No, sir ?" he gasped out, and on the master
passed, right down the line, and everybody had
denied the charge.
"Go to your places," said the master, as he
went to his desk. "My boys," said he, I can
scarcely tell you how grieved I am at what has
occurred this afternoon. I have known all along
who threw the stone-I only wanted to give that
boy an opportunity of confession. I could not
have believed there was such a coward among you;
but there is, sitting in this room, a boy who after
promising to play fairly has broken his word and
used unlawful means to win the game; he has
refused to confess it; and when pointedly asked
has denied the fact. Alfred Edgeworth, stand out
-you are the boy."
Advancing towards the trembling culprit with
his new cane in his hand, Mr. Stanton told the
boys that he purposed giving Alfred ten strokes
with the cane on each hand for throwing the
stones, and the same number for denying the
charge, and he should forbid him to enter the play-
ground for a month from that day.
Perhaps some of you," said he, may think
I am going to punish this boy in anger, but
although I am angry now, as I have just cause to
52 A Year at School.
be, I fully determined what punishment to inflict as
soon as I heard the facts of the case. All those
boys who think Alfred Edgeworth deserves his
punishment, put up their right hands."
It was no servile agreement with their master's
verdict that prompted the boys, with but few ex-
ceptions, to lift up their hands. They felt indig-
nant at what Edgeworth had done, and detested
the cowardice which would, if possible, have slipped
the blame on another.
And so writhing and groaning under each
stroke, Alfred received the just reward of his
doings, and little sympathy was felt for him by
any, excepting his two brothers, and they could
not but see that he deserved chastisement. Alone,
in a corner of the room, sat Alfred all the rest of
the schooltime, sobbing and crying and rubbing
his hands, which burned and ached with the
infliction they had so recently undergone.
William Parsons had been fetched out in the
midst of the lessons to go home with his brother,
and so when the school broke up about four
o'clock, Edward Lindsay found that for the first
time he must go home without a companion.
He did not much relish his walk, especially
as, after leaving the main street of Copsley, his
road lay for some distance alongside the canal,
and then branched off by a little-frequented lane
to Rudham. However, Edward knew he must get
home however unpleasant the road may be, and so
leaving his schoolfellows, who were still standing
in little groups discussing the events of the day, he
hurried off at a brisk pace.
But to return to Alfred Edgeworth. As soon
as he had sufficiently recovered from the distress of
mind produced by his beating, he set himself to
discover how the master had found him out; and
as he remembered Edward Lindsay's prolonged
visit to John Parsons in the schoolhouse, his
remark to Mrs. Jones that he had something par-
ticular to say, and the fact that he had been the
solitary spectator of the latter part of the snow-
fight, it appeared perfectly certain to him that it
was through the new boy that the master had
heard of his proceedings; and the more he became
convinced of this, so much the more did he long
Now the fact was, the master had learned all
he knew from Mr. Thomson, one of the assistant
masters, who, living at a distance, always had his
dinner in one of the upstairs class-rooms over-
looking the playground, from the window of which
he had watched the fight and its termination.
But Edgeworth, smarting with disgrace and
his recent thrashing, forgot all about the assistant
master, and every minute became more confirmed
in his opinion, and more resolved to punish
Ted Lindsay for having got him into such
Hence it was that almost as soon as Edward
had entered the lane which led to Rudham, he felt
a rude hand on his collar, and found himself face
to face with Alfred Edgeworth scowling with rage.
A Year at School.
"I'll teach you to tell tales, young fellow,"
said he, shaking the frightened lad by his coat-
I didn't tell," pleaded Edward. I saw you
throw the stones, but the master didn't get to
know through me."
"Don't tell me such lies-how else could he
know ?" said the wrathful Edgeworth, as he dealt
his prisoner a heavy blow on his face which made
the tears start from his eyes.
Edward Lindsay would doubtless have received
further and heavier punishment had there not just
then appeared another actor on the scene, who
proved to be none other than Gus Brookes. After
lingering some time in the school-yard he had
determined to run over and see how John Parsons
was before he went home to tea.
"Hallo! what's up?" said he. "Alf Edge-
worth! and who's this youngster crying? Why
it's Ted Lindsay. Come, none of this, Alf; if you
want to fight anyone, fight one at least something
A Year at School.
like your own size-me, for instance-not a little
chap like that."
"I'll teach him not to tell tales again," said
"It wasn't him who told of you," said Gus;
"it was Mr. Thomson, who saw you from his
window-everybody knows that; and even if Ted
had told of you, it would have served you right for
being such a coward."
"Who calls me coward ?" asked Alf, defiantly.
"I do," said Gus, putting himself in a firm
"Then take that," said Edgeworth, as he
launched out wildly with his clenched fist. But
Gus managed to evade the blow, and as he could
not longer act merely on the defensive, he dealt him
one in response, which, not being so skilfully par-
ried, came with such force as to lay him on his
back in the hedgerow.
When Alf gathered himself up again, Gus
several times challenged him to another trial of
skill; but either the master's caning, the blow he
had just received, or possibly the two combined,
had driven all the valour out of him; for although
he continued to brag and boast as usual, he dis-
creetly kept out of reach of his opponent's brawny
arms, and Gus at last left him to his boasting, and
proceeded to Rudham with Ted Lindsay.
Fighting, as most people are now beginning to
see, is a cruel and degrading sport, and as a means
of settling disputes, quite useless, since "might
not right" generally carries the day. Yet, how-
ever much the readers of this story may object to
fighting in general, I think there are few who
would regret the chastisement this cowardly brag-
gart received from oile who, whatever personal
feeling he may have had in the matter, was chiefly
concerned as the champion of a timid and almost
HATEVER opinion my readers may
have of Alfred Edgeworth's con-
duct, I think there are very few but
will admit that he had been suffi-
!1tly punished when we left him in the
last chapter, boasting his valour in the lane lead-
ing to Rudham. He had doubtless on many
occasions escaped punishments he richly deserved,
but he was destined this time to get rather more
than was sufficient, for a fresh infliction was
awaiting him at home. It was a lively expecta-
tion of this which made him saunter so slowly
homewards, for his former beating had made him
hungry, and if he had been influenced by his
appetite alone, he would have run as fast as he
could for his tea.
When he did get home he found his brothers
had been there some time, and that the tale of his
dishonour and disgrace had preceded him and had
procured for him anything but a cheerful welcome.
After tea his father gave Alfred a severe talk-
ing to, which did not hurt him much; a severe
thrashing, which hurt him considerably; and then
followed something which hurt him worst of all.
Mr. Edgeworth was a baker, a honest, hard-
working tradesman, who found his business quite
as much as he could manage. He had often
thought of keeping Alfred at home to help him,
but his desire for his son's improvement had in-
duced him hitherto to keep him at school, and he
had hoped to be able to do so for at least six
months longer. But now that his son had dis-
graced himself, he determined that he should begin
at once to learn the business, for he thought, and
rightly so too, that Alfred would not be likely to
A Year at School.
do himself much credit among his schoolfellows
after what had passed.
To Alfred the sentence was as bitter as it was
unexpected. He had anticipated the lecture and
the beating, and wished them- safely over, but it
had not once flashed across his mind that his
father might take him from school. He did not
like the idea of work. It was not pleasant to
think of spending most of one's time in the shop
or the bakehouse, having no playtime and no play-
mates. And then he had set his mind on a prize
at Midsummer, and that was gone.
But in vain did he plead; his father was firm,
and so from Copsley School and from these pages
Alfred Edgeworth retires, in a manner anything
but graceful. When the market-basket appeared
at school next day, it contained only two dinners,
and consequently there was rather less than two-
thirds of the usual quarrelling and disturbance.
Three months flew swiftly past. The inno-
cent snow which had been made the means of
provoking so much ill-feeling an'd revenge slowly
wept itself away, leaving the roads and the play-
ground almost as miry as Bunyan's Slough of
But by degrees the warm spring sun, together
with the March winds, dried up the moisture, and
the ground was once more firm under foot.
In Copsley Wood even greater changes were
apparent. Warmed by the sun's rays Nature
had awaked from its long winter's sleep. The
sap which had been congealed in the roots of
plants and in the trunks of trees, now circulated
through each limb and twig and fibre, and every-
where green leaves were bursting forth as if pushed
out by the abundance of energy within. Every
branch was wreathed with leaves of brightest,
freshest green, and where the dead leaves of last
autumn lay rotting on the ground were to be seen
the shoots of the blue-bell and the lily, the cow-
slip and the primrose, which would quickly hide
the grave of last year's beauty with a covering of
A Year at School.
fresh and fragrant loveliness. In the shady nooks,
among the underwood and brambles, was the
violet, emblem of sweetest purity; and away
where the little brook, rejoicing in its release from
its icy bonds, danced gaily through the glen, the
pretty buttercups saw themselves reflected in its
clear water, and ever and anon they bathed their
golden flowers in the stream. And up among
the branches of the trees the twitter, chirp, and
warble of the varied songsters of the grove made
a confused yet pleasant hum of melody. For
weeks past the birds had chosen their mates and
built their nests, and now they poured forth from
their throbbing throats such bursts of praise as
only perfect innocence could offer.
While such surprising changes have been go-
ing on in the outer world, nothing of importance
had happened among the scholars at Copsley
School. The usual studies had been gone through,
and the boys had either advanced or stood still just
in proportion as they had taken pains or not.
By slow but sure progress Edward Lindsay
had risen in his class, until he was now often the
first boy, and never went lower than fourth or
fifth. His perseverance and energy had attracted
the notice of all, and although here and there his
advancement had aroused envious feelings, by
far the majority of the boys, together with the
teachers, admired him and helped him as much as
John Parsons was only away a week by reason
of the wound received in the snow-fight, and he
was now working away with the rest, and finding
it no easy task to keep up with his friend Ted.
Every half year-at Midsummer and at Christ-
mas-it was a rule with Mr. Stanton to have a
thorough examination of every scholar, and on
these occasions the first six in each class were
moved a class higher, while the first three received
prizes of books or drawing materials. And so
every one was now working in preparation for the
64 A Year" at Schcol.
Gus Brookes wished there were no such
things, or if examinations were indeed indispen-
sable, he wished they would give prizes for athletic
development and for physical skill. In the play.
ground he could carry all before him, but in school
he found little delicate lads, whom he could pick
up with one hand, getting before him. However,
to do him justice, he tried his best, and though
nature had perhaps paid a trifle more attention
to his muscles than it had to his brain, why he
might console himself with the reflection that
there is plenty of honourable work in this world
for muscle, and that a man not overloaded with
brains escapes a great deal of the trouble, anxiety,
and actual misery that sometimes falls to the lot
of a man endowed with great mental power and
In the playground the bright spring weather
had almost the same effect on the boys that it
had on the birds and buds. They knew not why
or how it was, but they felt such exhilaration as
no amount of play could exhaust. As Tom Hood
says of the schoolboys of Lynn-
Like sportive deer they coursed about,
And shouted as they ran,
Turning to mirth all things of earth
As only boyhood can."
And so throughout the playground and through
Copsley Wood were heard the merry laugh and
joyous shout of the lads. For some of them had
already begun to visit the wood in the dinner
hour, and almost daily a fresh bunch of violets
was gathered for the master's desk.
I said nothing of importance happened in
the three months we have so lightly passed over.
Of course Shrove Tuesday arrived in due season,
and the lads, having a half-holiday granted them,
did their best to honour the day by devouring a
great deal more than was good for them of those
most indigestible and unwholesome cakes which it
is usual to make on that day.
The Ist of April came, too, and the lads
66 A Year at School.
played each other many a practical joke. Books
were hidden out of the way, inkpots emptied,.
empty envelopes were addressed and given to
different lads as if they contained news of import-
ance, the smaller boys were sent on ridiculous
errands to the tradespeople of the neighbourhood,
and every one was zealous in exhorting his neigh-
bour to remedy some defect in the lacing of a
shoe-string, or the tying of a necktie. But how-
ever unpleasant some of these jokes might be,
they had to be borne as patiently as possible, since
any signs of ruffled temper would be sure to pro-
voke further annoyance.
-^f "^'si ?*
- 'I, '
KEEPING A BIRTHDAY.
'1'--.. ,, O you know whose birthday it is to-'
l) day, Charlie? asked Mr. Stanton
-, of Charlie Davis, as they walked up
S and down the playground about ten
ii minutes before two o'clock on a beautiful
sunshiny day in the middle of April.
Now Charlie Davis was generally supposed to
be the best-informed lad in Copsley School on all
questions relating to politics, or to the aristocracy
of the realm. He was quite a constant reader of
the newspaper, and had vainly tried to get up a
debate among the scholars on the leading ques-
tions of the day. On getting a newspaper, his
first glance fell on the proceedings of Parliament,
A Year at School.
he next perused the extract from the Court
Circular, marriages or law-suits in high life next
attracted his attention, and lastly he noticed
So Charles at once concluded that his teacher
was sounding him to know if he were well up in
his knowledge of the birthdays of princes, peers,
or principal commoners. So he tried to remember
if he had seen any reference to any approaching
anniversary of the kind. He knew it was not
the Queen's because he remembered very well
that she was born on the 24th of May. But try
how he might, he could not remember the birth
of any important personage happening on that
day. And yet he did not like to confess such
ignorance without the appearance of knowing
something about it, so he began to guess-
Is it Prince Albert's ? asked he.
"No," said Mr. Stanton; and added, as he
smiled, "try again."
The Prince of Wales's," guessed Charlie.
Keeping a Birthday.
"No!" said his master, "you are altogether
too high-look lower down."
And accordingly Charlie did look lower down,
but he only descended from princes to peers.
Is it Earl Derby's ? he asked.
"No Too high yet! "
A little longer pause followed, and Charlie
tried to judge from his teacher's face if he had
been anywhere near right in his guess, but all he
could see was that Mr. Stanton was amused, for
a smile was playing round His mouth. So he
must needs guess again.
"It isn't Mr. Gladstone's-is it, sir ? "
Well then I will give it up," said Charlie.
I suppose I must tell you then," said the
master. "It is not Prince Albert's, Lord
Derby's, nor, so far as I know, the Prime
Minister's; but to-day is the birthday of the
prince, the lord, and the prime minister of Cops-
ley school-do you know who that is ?"
A Year at School.
Well to be sure," said Charlie, I wonder
I did not think of that. I ought to have guessed
you first. I wish you many happy returns of the
"Thank you, Charlie," said the master, and
putting his whistle to his mouth he called the
scholars from their play to commence their after-
When they had all taken their places, Mr.
Stanton told them it was his birthday, and further
said that as it was such a beautiful day and so
pleasant outside, he thought there would be no
harm done if he gave them an extra half hour's
play to remember the day by, so if they would
work steadily for an hour he would give them half
an hour in the playground.
True to his promise, at three o'clock the lads
were let out of school, and, incited by the example
and exhortation of Gus Brookes, they gave their
teacher "three times three" cheers which might
have been heard half a mile away. A plentiful
Keeping a Birthday.
supply of nuts were showered among the boys,
who scrambled after them as eagerly as. if they
were pearls, and after thirty minutes' jolly fun
they re-entered school feeling as grateful as if their
master had entertained them with a very sump-
Thus ended the commemoration of the school-
master's birthday, so far as the school at large
was concerned, but for the first class a greater
treat was in store. Mr. Stanton, although un-
married, lived in a good-sized house near the
school, and it was no very unusual thing for him to
ask a few of the boys to spend the evening with
him. He really loved his scholars, and indeed he
had few objects in life which were not connected
in some way or other with their welfare. He
made himself one among them, entering into
many of their sports, and showing them that
he had their best interests at heart. On this
occasion he had invited all the scholars in
the first class, as also the four assistant
A Year at School.
masters, to drink tea with him and keep his
After school, those boys who lived near
enough hurried home for a wash, and for the
purpose of putting on a clean collar in which to
do honour to their master's hospitality; but those
who, like Williami Parsons, lived at a distance,
had to make the best toilet they could with the
assistance of an abundant supply of soap and
water in the master's kitchen.
At five o'clock the guests had all arrived, and
were seated round a long table in the master's
sitting-room. Mr. Stanton sat at the head of
the table, and Mr. Thomson at the foot, and
nowhere in Copsley was there a happier man than
Mr. Stanton, or a jollier party than that seated
round his board. Tea was at once served, and
cakes, sandwiches, bread and butter, and preserves
vanished with a rapidity which can only be
believed by those who have ever attempted to
keep pace with the appetites of a dozen hungry
Keeping a Birthday.
schoolboys. Merrily passed the meal. Any little
reserve or awkwardness was quickly banished by
the invincible good humour of the host. With
little pleasantries and well-directed observations he
succeeded in putting each one at his ease, and in
drawing out each individual's peculiarities for the
After tea fruit and nuts were brought in, and
the lads diverted themselves according to their
varied tastes. One of the junior masters played a
game of draughts with Charlie Davis, Mr. Thom-
son and another preferring the more scientific
game of chess. Some of the boys amused them-
selves with looking at volumes of engravings,
while others were soon deeply interested in books
from the well-filled shelves. Mr. Stanton created
great amusement by bringing out a powerful
galvanic apparatus, with which he operated upon
those of the lads who were not otherwise engaged.
Bob Johnson was especially interested in this
machine. He seemed altogether unable to keep
away from it, although the way in which it caused
him to writhe and double himself up, and the
curious shape in which it pulled his face, made
him a most ludicrous object. At various intervals
Mr. Stanton read selections from his favourite
authors, sometimes exciting roars of laughter by
an extract from some humorist, and at other
times subduing them with passages of exquisite
tenderness and pathos. And occasionally, too,
Mr. Stanton sat down to his piano, and sang
several hearty old English songs; and with the
assistant masters he also rendered some favourite
glees and part-songs.
In due time supper was served, and consider-
ing what a substantial tea the lads had had, it
really was amazing how those boys, and the
men too, did enjoy the cold beef and mutton
provided; but, as Mr. Stanton jokingly said,
Galvanism is a rare thing for the appe-
tite." When the meat was removed there came
the dish of the evening-a steaming hot plum-
A Year at School.
Keeping a Birthday.
pudding. Wine also was served round, in which
to drink the master's health. When all had
tasted the pudding and pronounced it excellent, of
course there had to be some little speech-
Mr. Thomson rose, and in a very neat little
speech referred to Mr. Stanton's superior abilities
as a teacher, his great earnestness, and his marked
success in his profession. He hoped he might
be spared to spend many future years in the same
noble cause, and he had great pleasure in pro-
posing the toast of the evening, namely-"Many
happy returns of the day to Mr. Stanton."
Most of the boys following Mr. Thomson's
example, took a sip at their glasses in honour of
the toast, and Mr. Stanton was about to get up to
acknowledge it, when he noticed that one of the
masters was speaking rather earnestly to Charlie
Davis, who was very red in the face. On ask-
ing what was the matter, Charlie said that he was
a total abstainer, and although he wished Mr.
A Year at School.
Stanton many happy returns of the day, he must
ask to be excused from drinking to the toast.
"Well, Charlie, I should be very sorry for
any boy to drink against his wish, but this is only
home-made cowslip wine. I should never think
of setting foreign wines before young people."
"That is just what I have been telling him,"
said the assistant master; "you would not offer
him any harm. And, besides, teetotallers are
allowed to drink home-made wines."
Excuse me, sir," said Charlie, "but it isn't
a question of being allowed, but of principle. I
think those teetotallers who drink wines of any
sort are only pretenders."
Hear, hear, Charlie!" said Mr. Stanton;
" I agree with you. I am proud to think that
you are so firm in principle as not to forego it even
to please your friends. Do not think anything
more about it. I shall value your kind wishes
just as much as if you drank to the toast."
Mr. Stanton thanked his guests for the senti-
Keeping a Birthday.
ment his friend Mr. Thomson had given expression
to, and spoke to the uniform courtesy he had
always received from all his assistants, and the
pleasure it gave him to find so many boys in his
school who really tried to do him credit and to
profit themselves. A few more health followed,
and at last the pleasant evening came to a close,
and the boys went home well pleased with them-
selves and with their teacher.
THE MIDSUMMER EXAMINATION.
-* P77,1IME rolled on. Easter came and went
With little notice, for Mr. Stanton
__. .only allowed a few days' holiday, pre-
.ferring to give an extra week at Mid-
.'. inmer, when the great heat and the
fineness of the weather rendered a holiday pecu.
liarly desirable and enjoyable.
May passed with its bright days and cool
evenings, and June came with its warm sunshine
and gorgeous flowers. The weather was already
becoming unpleasantly warm; the atmosphere of
the schoolroom was close and heavy, and the lads
seemed drugged by it into drowsiness; the big
bees came buzzing dreamily over the fields, the
The JI .., r Examination.
cattle stood sleepily in the shadow of the wide-
spreading trees, and all who were not compelled
to work indulged in a sort of half-wakeful exist-
ence, which seemed in perfect harmony with
In the playground the lads found it too much
exertion to run about, so they sat in groups in the
shade, or went quiet walks in Copsley Wood;
while others, feeling the heat to be unbearable,
resorted to a little-used branch of the canal, where
it flowed between grassy banks, bordered by haw-
thorn bushes, and here they undressed and laved
their bodies in the cool, transparent water.
But though the boys tried thus to amuse
themselves, their chief thoughts were now directed
to the Midsummer examination. There was a
very healthful feeling of ambition. in Copsley
School, and even the stupid and habitually careless
boys tried, now that the time was so near, to
make up for previous neglect.
Both master and pupils :wished heartily that
A Year at School.
the examination were over and the holidays begun,
but still they kept pegging away, trying to keep
as wide awake as they could in the long, sultry
afternoons, when even the air which came through
the open windows felt warm and.enervating. Mr.
Stanton did what he could. He had all the win-
dows and doors wide open; held some of his
classes in shady corners of the playground; and
knowing that cold water is the most deadly foe to
sleepiness, he provided a number of large tin
basins in which the lads might wash their hands
and faces, and so cool themselves for their after-
The examination was fixed for the first Mon-
day in July. Slowly June dragged itself through
-it seemed as if time itself were lagging behind.
The lads counted first the weeks, and then the
days, before the event. At last came the preced-
ing Friday, and the next Monday was to decide
how the last half-year's tuition had been re-
The Midsummer Examination. 81
Before school closed on the Friday, Mr. Stan-
ton explained the conditions of the examination,
and advised every boy to be at school at least half
an hour before schooltime, and to bring with him
a good supply of well-sharpened lead and slate-
pencils, so that no advantage might be lost
through the absence or clumsiness of these requi-
sites. He promised that he and the assistant
masters should be fully prepared for the examina-
tion on Monday morning, and he hoped the
scholars would be equally ready. With that the
boys left school, many of them laying in a large
stock of pencils, and taking off the edge of their
pocket-knives in sharpening them. Those lads
who had not been very diligent in their lessons,
very foolishly spent nearly all Saturday in commit-
ting whole pages to memory, and in brushing up
what they knew imperfectly. But most of the
boys were wiser. They knew that what was hur-
ried over in that way would not be of much
service, and they wisely concluded that by enjoy-
A Year at School.
ing their games they would be all the fresher for
the real hard work before them.
Monday morning came, and by a quarter to
nine o'clock the playground of Copsley School
was all alive with boys. There were very few
running about, however, for there was hardly any
play going on. It seemed as if these gamesome
lads had all on a sudden been transformed into
serious, steady ...*ll'-i. They walked gravely
about in twos or threes, discussing their own and
others' chances in the forthcoming competition.
Some sauntered about alone without any apparent
object; they would have started a game but they
knew running would excite them, and make their
hands shake, and that would tell against them
very much. Others walked about with their fore-
fingers in the lesson-books, and as they passed
about they muttered, "Twelve times ten are one
hundred and twenty, twelve times eleven are one
hundred and thirty-two:" "England is divided
into forty counties--namely, Northumberland,
The Midsummer Examination. 83
Durham," etc., or Prepositions serve to connect
words with one another, and show their relation
between them," thus proving that they were try-
ing to make up for lost time.
At a few minutes to nine the master blew his
whistle, and the lads fell into line, as eager for
their work as soldiers for a fray. After prayers, the
lower classes were sent into the class-rooms, and
the boys of the first four classes were distributed
about a yard apart along the desks of the school-
room. Writing was the first exercise, and the
boys did their best to imitate the copy, for they
knew that proficiency in that art would be- a
necessary qualification for a prize. Arithmetic
followed, and every boy in each class was furnished
with the same list of questions, the first three of
which were to be worked out in full on paper as a
test of neatness and correctness of method. No
one was allowed even to look at a single question
until all were ready, and then at a word from the
desk they started together. This paper was a
A Year at School.
difficult one, and there were not many who had
completed their sums when the master stopped
them. The upper classes now moved off into
different class-rooms, while the lower classes came
in for their writing and arithmetic, and now the
examination got more severe; Mr. Stanton exa-
mined the classes separately in mental arithmetic,
English history, and geography; and many boys
who would have done well if they had had to
answer the questions on paper, found they were
not quick enough in their replies to verbal ques-
Then came dinner, and after that the quietest
time the playground had seen that year; for, as
in the morning, there were very few who felt
inclined for fun while the examination was in
Afternoon exercises began as usual at two
o'clock, and the first four classes were again seated
at the desks, where their first task was a long
paper of questions in grammar, for replying to
The Midsummer Examination. 85
which the boys were supplied with abundance of
foolscap paper. After that they had to make out
a bill of parcels, and here again was a fine chance
for skilful and neat penmen. An exercise in com-
position followed; each boy had to write what he
thought about the weather. And then came the
last subject of examination. The first class had
to draw a map of Europe from memory, putting
in as many towns, rivers, and mountains as time
would allow; the second class had to do the same
with a map of England; and the third and fourth
classes had to draw a small map of America,
copying from a large one on rollers.
Four o'clock struck before any boy had done
all he wished to do at his map. The papers were
collected, singing and prayer followed, and the
boys left the school, relieved to know that for
awhile the strain of study was over, and that they
might now enjoy their leisure without losing much
Tuesday and Wednesday passed quiet and un-
86 A Year at School.
interesting, and on Thursday morning Mr. Stan-
ton announced that he and his assistants had
finished their inspection of the examination
papers, and that he should, in the afternoon, read
the list of the successful competitors, and that
they would then at once begin their holiday.
Oh! what anxiety there was to know the re-
sults of the examination. No boy was indif-
ferent ;' for if he had no hope for himself, he was
interested for some friend.
At two o'clock Mr. Stanton ascended his
desk, and amid the almost breathless silence of
the whole school, he read out the list of those
who had gained prizes, and of those who were to
be moved into higher classes. The first three
names in the first class surprised no one, for they
had previously held the same position. Alec
Gordon stood first, and chose for his prize a beau-
tifully-bound atlas. William Parsons came next,
and carried off a nicely -;lli.~ti it-.i book of travels.
And, third, came Bob Johnson, who received an
The 31.'.: -.. ,- Examination.
elegant volume of poetry. Of course, no one
could be moved higher than the first class, so all
that the master could do was to read the names
of the next three on the list. He then passed
on to the second class; and after remarking at
some length on the peculiar excellence of the
papers written by the first boy in it, he electrified
the school by calling Edward Lindsay to receive
the first prize. Ted was so surprised he hardly
knew how to walk. He certainly had expected to
get moved up, and had thought it just possible he
might get the lowest prize, but beyond that he
had never dreamed of attaining. He chose a nice
little box of geometrical instruments, which he
had been longing for for some time.
It would take too much time to tell who won
the prizes in the other classes; suffice it that
John Parsons secured the third prize, and that he,
together with Ted Lindsay, Sam Townley, and
three others.unknown to this history, were moved
into the first class.
A Year at School.
And then the school broke up. George Ben-
son went off the next day on a long visit to his
uncle's farm, where he would be able to ride the
little pony at pleasure; Gus Brookes gave himself
up for a month of cricket, rowing, swimming,
etc., with the lads of the village; and most of
the other boys had some visit or amusement to
look forward to.
-- iHi N the boys again assembled after
lhe Midsummer vacation, they had
.d news to hear. Charlie Davis had
I. en taken ill just before the exami-
i 1'..' ,.., which he was, of course, unable to
attend. He was not very robust, and had lately,
in common with all the boys of the first class,
been studying very closely with a view to winning
a prize, and this, together with the sultry weather,
had lowered his vital energies, and so he became
an easy prey to the first attack of the summer
fever. His parents, friends, and schoolfellows
were sorry he should be debarred from taking part
in a competition in which he had every prospect
A Year at School.
of distinguishing himself, but this was all that
troubled them in relation to his illness. They
expected he would be all right again in a week at
the most, and with this idea the lads broke up.
But on returning to school they found to their
surprise that Charlie Davis, the first to show up
on such occasions, was not to be seen, and on
inquiry his schoolfellows learned, to their great
dismay, that Charlie's fever had got worse and
worse, and that his case was really alarming.
Mr. Stanton, who had been on a visit to the
sea-side, and had only returned late the preceding
night, was greatly troubled at the reported danger
in which Charlie lay. He asked Mr. Thomson to
go and inquire from Charlie's father the exact
nature of the danger to be apprehended, and was
informed that the doctor had as yet declined to
give any opinion as to the probable result, from
which fact it was evident that his patient was in a
very critical state.
In the evening the schoolmaster went himself
One Missing. 91
to inquire about Charlie. He was welcomed by
the sorrowing parents, and at their request went
to look at his old scholar. He entered the room,
and spoke gently to Charlie, but he did not know
him, for he had been delirious for some time. His
eyes were wide open and intensely brilliant; his
face, though evidently shrunken, was almost
scarlet with fever, and looked even worse by con-
trast with the pure white of the bedclothes. Only
his mother was noticed at all by him, and even
she could not get an intelligible answer to one of
the many questions which her fond mother's heart
longed to ask. All that could be done for the
sufferer was to moisten his lips with juicy fruit,
and occasionally to administer medicine or some
slight nutriment to enable his system to bear the
terrible strain of the fever.
Hot, restless, and uneasy, poor Charlie tossed
from side to side on his pillow, looking with
strange, bewildered gaze on the familiar persons
and objects around him, and muttering and talk-
A Year at School.
ing to himself in a way which showed how com-
plete was the temporary disarrangement of his
"I suppose Alec Gordon will wip the first
prize ? he said, as he lay glaring at his teacher.
"He will try hard for it," said Mr. Stanton,
for he thought the remark was an evidence of
returning consciousness, and he feared to perplex
the poor boy still more by telling him that the
prizes were already awarded.
But without the least notice of his reply,
Charlie rambled on in a queer, half-intelligible
voice. "If Lord Palmerston gets defeated, he
will appeal to the country-at least, I should-
but there's nothing like a good hit to long point.
I shall be all right in grammar and writing, but I
can't score much in arithmetic. What a splendid
hit Gus Brookes made then What a noise those
boys make Wouldn't it be grand to get before
Alec Gordon! Oh my poor head! How it
aches And thus Charlie's brain was puzzling