BY THE SAME AUTHOR
Uniform with this Volume.
THE PEASANT AND THE PRINCE.
FEATS ON THE FIORD.
THE SETTLERS AT HOME.
THE BILLOW AND THE ROCK.
-. 'r,, .
-- '*T-- ---- -5 '- ,
THE CROFTON BOYS.
Who was it that pulled you ? Was it I ?
CRO T ON BOYS
WITH FORTY ILLUSTRATIONS BY M FITZGERALD
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS, LIMITED
BROADWAY HOUSE, LUDGATE HILL
NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON AND CO
I. ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL -
II. WHY MR. TOOKE CAME. 21
III. MICHAELMAS DAY COME 29
IV. MICHAELMAS DAY OVER 44
V. CROFTON PLAY. 60
VI. FIRST RAMBLE 79
VII. WHAT IS ONLY TO BE HAD AT HOME 110
VIII. A LONG DAY I26
IX. CROFTON QUIET 144
X. LITTLE VICTORIES 6o
XI. DOMESTIC MANNERS 176
XII. HOLT AND HIS DIGNITY 185
XIII. TRIPPING. 200
XIV. HOLT AND HIS HELP 224
XV. CONCLUSION 233
THE CROFTON BOYS.
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL.
R. PROCTOR, the chemist and druggist, kept his
shop and lived in the Strand, London. His chil-
dren thought that there was never anything pleasanter than
the way they lived. Their house was warm in winter, and
such a little distance from the church, that they had no
difficulty in getting to church and back again, in the worst
weather, before their shoes were wet. They were also con-
veniently near to Covent Garden Market; so that, if any
friend dropped in to dinner unexpectedly, Jane and Agnes
could be off to the market, and buy a fowl, or some vege-
tables or fruit, and b" back again before they were missed.
It was not even too far for little Harry to trot with one of his
sisters, early on a summer's morning, to spend his penny
(when he happened to have one) on a bunch ^f flowers, to
THE CROFTON BO YS.
lay on papa's plate, to surprise him when he came in to
breakfast. Not much farther off was the Temple Garden,
where Mrs. Proctor took her children every fine summer
evening to walk and breathe the air from the river; and
when Mr. Proctor could find time to come to them for a turn
or two before the younger ones must go home to bed, it
seemed to the whole party the happiest and most beautiful
place in the whole world-except one. They had once been
to Broadstairs, when the children were in poor health after
the measles; and for ever after, when they thought of the
waves beating on the shore, and of the pleasures of growing
strong and well among the sea-breezes, they felt that there
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL.
might be places more delightful than the Temple Garden;
but they were still very proud and fond of the grass and
trees, and the gravel walks, and the view over the Thames,
and were pleased to show off the garden to all friends from
the country who came to visit them.
The greatest privilege ot all, however, was that they could
see the river without going out of their own house. There
were three back windows to the house, one above another;
and from the two uppermost of these windows there was
what the children called a view of the Thames. There was
a gap of a few yards wide between two high brick houses,
and through this gap might be seen the broad river, with
vessels of every kind passing up or down. Outside the
4 THE CROFTON BOYS.
second window were some leads, affording space for three or
four chairs; and here it was that Jane and Agnes liked to
sit at work, on certain hours of fine days. There were times
when these leads were too hot, the heat of the sun being
reflected from the surrounding brick walls; but at an earlier
hour before the shadows were gone, and when the air blew
in from the river the place was cool, and the little girls de-
lighted to carry their stools to the leads, and do their sewing
there. There Philip would condescend to spend a part of
his mornings, in his Midsummer holidays, frightening his
sisters with climbing about in dangerous places, or amusing
them with stories of school pranks, or raising his younger
brother Hugh's envy of the boys who were so happy as to
be old enough to go to school at Mr. Tooke's, at Crofton.
The girls had no peace from their brothers climbing about
in dangerous places. Hugh was, if possible, worse than
Philip for this. He imitated all Philip's feats, and had some
of his own besides. In answer to Jane's lectures, and the
entreaties of Agnes, Hugh always declared that he had a right
to do such things, as he meant to be a soldier or a sailor;
and how should he be able to climb the mast of a ship, or
the walls of a city, if he did not begin to practise now?
Agnes was almost sorry they had been to Broadstairs, and
could see ships in the Thames, when she considered that, if
Hugh had not seen so much of the world, he might have
been satisfied to be apprenticed to his father, when old
enough, and to have lived at home happily with his family.
Jane advised Agnes not to argue with Hugh, and then, per-
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL.
haps, his wish to rove about the world might go off. She
had heard her father say that, when he was a boy, and used
to bring home news of victories, and help to put up candles
at the windows on illumination nights, he had a great fancy
for being a soldier; but that it was his fortune to see some
soldiers from Spain, and hear from them what war really was,
just when peace came, and when there was no more glory to
be got, so that he had happily settled down to be a London
shopkeeper-a lot which he would not exchange with that
of any man living. Hugh was very like papa, Jane added;
and the same change might take place in his mind, if he was
not made perverse by argument. So Agnes only sighed, and
bent her head closer over her work, as she heard Hugh talk
of the adventures he meant to have when he should be old
enough to get away from Old England.
There was one person that laughed at Hugh for this fancy
of his-Miss Harold, the daily governess, who came to keep
school for three hours every morning. When Hugh forgot
his lesson, and sat staring at the upper panes of the window,
in a reverie about his future travels; or when he was found
to have been drawing a soldier on his slate instead of doing
his sum, Miss Harold reminded him what a pretty figure a
soldier would cut who knew no geography, or a sailor who
could not make his reckonings, for want of attending early
to his arithmetic. Hugh could not deny this; but he was
always wishing that school-hours were over, that he might
get under the great dining-table to read "Robinson Crusoe,"
or might play at shipwreck, under pretence of amusing little
6 THE CROFTON BOYS.
Harry. It did make him ashamed to see how his sisters got
on, from the mere pleasure of learning, and without any idea
of ever living anywhere but in London, while he, who seemed
to have so much more reason for wanting the very knowledge
that they were obtaining, could not settle his mind to his
lessons. Jane was beginning to read French books for her
amusement in leisure hours, and Agnes was often found to
have covered two slates with sums in Practice, just for
pleasure, while he could not master the very moderate lessons
Miss Harold set him. It is true, he was two years younger
than Agnes; but she had known more of everything that he
had learned, at seven years old, than he now did at eight.
Hugh began to feel very unhappy. He saw that Miss Harold
was dissatisfied, and was pretty sure that she had spoken to
his mother about him. He felt that his mother became more
strict in making him sit down beside her, in the afternoon,
to learn his lessons for the next day; and he was pretty sure
that Agnes went out of the room because she could not help
crying when his sum was found to be all wrong, or when he
mistook his tenses, or when he said (as he did every day,
though regularly warned to mind what he was about) that
four times seven is fifty-six.
Every day these things weighed more on Hugh's spirits;
every day he felt more and more like a dunce; and when
Philip came home for the Midsummer holidays, and told all
manner of stories about all sorts of boys at school, without
describing anything like Hugh's troubles with Miss Harold,
Hugh was seized with a longing to go to Crofton at once,
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL.
as he was certainly too young to go at present into the way
of a shipwreck or a battle. The worst of it was, there was
no prospect of his going yet to Crofton. In Mr. Tooke's
large school there was not one boy younger than ten; and
Philip believed that Mr. Tooke did not like to take little
HUGH LONGS FOR CROFTON.
boys. Hugh was aware that his father and mother meant to
send him to school with Philip by-and-bye; but the idea of
having to wait-to do his lessons with Miss Harold every
day till he should be ten years old, made him roll himself
on the parlour carpet in despair.
Philip was between eleven and twelve. He was happy at
school; and he liked to talk all about it at home. nese
THE CROFTON BOYS.
holidays, Hugh made a better listener than even his sisters;
and he was a more amusing one-he knew so little about
the country. He asked every question that could be
imagined about the playground at the Crofton school, and
the boys' doings out of school; and then, when Philip
fancied he must know all about what was done, out came
some odd remark which showed what wrong notions he had
formed of a country life. Hugh had not learned half that
he wanted to know, and his little head was full of wonder
and mysterious notions, when the holidays came to an end,
and Philip had to go away. From that day Hugh was
heard to talk less of Spain, and the sea, and desert islands,
and more of the Crofton boys; and his play with little
Harry was all of being at school. At his lessons, meantime,
he did not improve at all.
One very warm day, at the end of August, five weeks
after Philip had returned to school, Miss Harold had stayed
full ten minutes after twelve o'clock to hear Hugh say one
line of the multiplication-table over and over again, to cure
him of saying that four times seven is fifty-six; but all in
vain: and Mrs. Proctor had begged her not to spend any
more time to-day upon it.
Miss Harold went away, the girls took their sewing, and
sat down at their mother's work-table, while Hugh was
placed before her, with his hands behind his back, and
desired to look his mother full in the face, to begin again
with "four times one is four," and go through the line
taking care what he was about. He did so; but before he
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL 9
came to tour times seven, he sighed, fidgeted, looked up at
the covers of the room, off into the work-basket, out into
the street, and always, as if by a spell, finished with "four
times seven is fifty-six." Jane looked up amazed; Agnes
looked down ashamed; his mother looked with severity in
his face. He began the line a fourth time, when, at the
third figure, he started as if he had been shot. It was only
a knock at the door that he had heard-a treble knock,
which startled nobody else, though, from the parlour door
being open, it sounded pretty loud.
Mrs. Proctor spread a handkerchief over the stockings in
her work-basket; Jane put back a stray curl which had
fallen over her face; Agnes lifted up her head with a sigh,
as if relieved that the multiplication-table must stop for this
time; and Hugh gazed into the passage through the open
door, when he heard a man's step there. The maid an-
nounced Mr. Tooke, of Crofton; and Mr. Tooke walked
Mrs. Proctor had actually to push Hugh to one side-so
directly did he stand in the way between her and her visitor.
He stood, with his hands still behind his back, gazing up at
Mr. Tooke, with his face hotter than the multiplication-table
had ever made it, and his eyes staring quite as earnestly as
they had ever done to find Robinson Crusoe's island in the
"Go, child," said Mrs. Proctor; but this was not enough.
Mr. Tooke himself had to pass him under his left arm before
he could shake hands with Mrs. Proctor. Hugh was now
THE CROFTON BOYS.
covered with shame at this hint that he was in the way; but
yet he did not leave the room. He stole to the window, and
flung himself down on two chairs, as if looking into the street
from behind the blind; but he saw nothing that passed out
of doors, so eager was his hope of hearing something of the
Crofton boys-their trap-ball, and their Saturday walk with
the usher. Not a word of this kind did he hear. As soon
as Mr. Tooke had agreed to stay to dinner, his sisters were
desired to carry their work elsewhere-to the leads, if they
liked-and he was told that he might go to play. He had
hoped he might be overlooked in the window, and unwillingly
did he put down first one leg and then the other from the
chairs, and saunter out of the room. He did not choose to
go near his sisters, to be told how stupidly he had stood in
the gentleman's way; so when he saw that they were placing
their stools on the leads, he went up into the attic, and then
down into the kitchen, to see where little Harry was, to play
at schoolboys in the back yard.
The maid Susan was not sorry that Harry was taken off
her hands, for she wished to rub up her spoons and fill her
castors afresh, for the sake of the visitor who had come in.
The thoughtful Jane soon came down with the keys to get
out a clean table-cloth, and order a dish of cutlets, in addition
to the dinner, and consult with Susan about some dessert;
so that as the little boys looked up from their play they saw
Agnes sitting alone at work upon the leads.
They had played some time, Hugh acting a naughty boy
who could not say his Latin lesson to the usher, and little
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL. I
Harry punishing him with far more words than a real usher
uses on such an occasion, when they heard Agnes calling
them from above their heads. She was leaping over from
the leads, begging Hugh to come up to her that very moment.
Harry must be left below, as the leads were a forbidden
place for him. So Harry went to Jane, to see her dish up
greengage plums, which he must not touch; and Hugh ran
up the stairs. As he passed through the passage his mother
called him. Full of some kind of hope (he did not himself
know what), he entered the parlour, and saw Mr. Tooke's
eyes fixed on him. But his mother only wanted him to shut
the door as he passed-that was all. It had stood open, as
it usually did on warm days. Could his mother wish it shut
on account of anything she was saying? It was possible.
Oh, Hugh !" exclaimed Agnes, as soon as he set foot on
the leads. "What do you think ?-But is the parlour door
shut? Who shut it?"
Mother bade me shut it as I passed."
"Oh, dear !" said Agnes, in a tone of disappointment;
"then she did not mean us to hear what they were talking
"What was it? Anything about the Crofton boys? Any-
thing about Phil?"
I cannot tell you a word about it. Mamma did not know
I heard them. How plain one can hear what they say in that
parlour, Hugh, when the door is open What do you think
I heard mamma tell Mrs. Bicknor, last week, when I was
jumping Harry off the third stair?"
12 THE CROFTOVN BOYS.
"Never mind that. Tell me what they are talking aboat
now. Do, Agnes."
Agnes shook her head.
"Now do, dear."
It was hard for Agnes to refuse Hugh anything, at any
time, more still when he called her "dear," which he seldom
did; and most of all when he put his arm round her neck,
as he did now. But she answered,
"I should like to tell you every word, but I cannot now.
Mamma has made you shut the door. She does not wish
you to hear it."
"Me! Then will you tell Jane ?"
"Yes. I shall tell Jane, when we are with marma at
"That is too bad!" exclaimed Hugh, flinging himself
down on the leads so vehemently that his sister was afraid
he would roll over into the yard. "What does Jane care
about Crofton and the boys to what I do?"
"There is one boy there that Jane cares about more than
you do, or I, or anybody, except papa and mamma. Jane
"Oh, then, what they are saying in the parlour is about
"I did not say that."
"You pretend you love me as Jane loves Phil! and now
you are going to tell her what you won't tell me! Agnes, I
will tell you everything I know all my whole life, if you will
just whisper this now. Only just whisper-or, I will tell you
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL. 13
what I will guess and guess; and you can nod or shake
your head. That won't be telling."
For shame, Hugh! Phil would laugh at you for being
a girl, if you are so curious. What mamma told Mrs. Bicknor
was that Jane was her right hand. What do you think that
meant exactly ? "
That Jane might give you a good slap when you are so
provoking," said Hugh; rolling over and over, till his clothes
were covered with dust, and Agnes really thought once that
he was fairly going over the edge into the yard.
"There is something that I can tell you, Hugh; some-
thing that I want to tell you, and nobody else," said Agnes,
glad to see him stop rolling about, and raise himself on his
dusty elbow to look at her.
"Well, come, what is it?"
"You must promise beforehand not to be angry."
"Angry! when am I angry, pray? Come, tell me."
You must-you really must-I have a particular reason
for saying so-you must learn how much four times seven
is. Now, remember, you promised not to be angry."
Hugh carried off his anger by balancing himself on his
head, as if he meant to send his heels over, but that there
was no room. From upside down, his voice was heard
saying that he knew that as well as Agnes.
"Well, then, how much is it?"
"Twenty-eight,-to be sure. Who does not know that?"
"Then pray do not call it fifty-six any more. Miss
14 THE CROFTON BOYS.
"There's the thing," said Hugh. "When Miss Harold
is here, I can think of nothing but fifty-six. It seems to
sound in my ears, as if somebody spoke it, 'four times seven
"You will make me get it by heart too, if you say it so
often," said Agnes. "You had better say 'twenty-eight'
over to yourself all day long. You may say it to me as
often as you like. I shall not get tired. Come, begin now
-'four times seven- '"
"I have had enough of that for to-day-tiresome stuff !
Now I shall go and play with Harry again."
"But wait-just say that line once over, Hugh. I have
a reason for wishing it. I have, indeed."
Mother has been telling Mr. Tooke that I cannot say
my multiplication-table! Now, that is too bad i" exclaimed
Hugh. "And they will make me say it after dinner! What
"Why, Hugh! you know mamma does not like-you
know mamma would not-you know mamma never does
anything unkind. You should not say such things, Hugh."
"Ay, there! you cannot say that she has not told Mr.
Tooke that I say my tables wrong."
"Well, you know you always do say it wrong to her."
"I will go somewhere. I will hide myself. I will run to
the market while the cloth is laying. I will get away, and
not come back till Mr. Tooke is gone. I will never say my
multiplication-table to him !"
"Never?" said Agnes, with an odd smile and a sigh. "How-
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL. 15
ever, do not talk of running away, or hiding yourself You
will not have to say anything to Mr. Tooke to-day."
"How do you know?"
I feel sure you will not. I do not believe Mr. Tooke will
talk to you, or to any of us. There you go! You will be
in the water-butt in a minute, if you tumble so."
I don't care if I am. Mr. Tooke will not come there to
hear me say my tables. Let me go!" he cried, struggling,
for now Agnes had caught him by the ankle. "If I do
tumble in, the water is not up to my chin, and it will be a
cool hiding-place this hot day."
"But there is Susan gone to lay the cloth, and you must
be brushed, for you are all over dust. Come up, and I will
Hugh was determined to have a little more dust first. He
rolled once more the whole length of the leads, turned over
Jane's stool, and upset her work-basket, so that her thimble
bounded off to a far corner, and the shirt-collar she was
stitching fell over into the water-butt.
"There! what will Jane say?" cried Agnes, picking up
the basket, and peeping over into the small part of the top
of the water-butt which was not covered.
There never was anything like boys for mischief," said
the maid Susan, who now appeared to pull Hugh in, and
make him neat. Susan always found time, between laying
the cloth and bringing up dinner, to smooth Hugh's hair,
and give a particular lock a particular turn on his forehead
with a wet comb.
16 THE CROFTON BOYS.
"Let that alone," said Hugh, as Agnes peeped into the
butt after the drowning collar. I will have the top off this
afternoon, and it will make good fishing for Harry and
Agnes had to let the matter alone, for Hugh was so dusty
that she had to brush one side of him while Susan did the
other. Susan gave him some hard knocks while she assured
him that he was not going to have Harry up on the leads to
learn his tricks, or to be drowned. She hardly knew which
of the two would be the worst for Harry. It was lucky for
Hugh that Susan was wanted below directly, for she scolded
him the whole time she was parting and smoothing his hair.
When it was done, however, and the wet lock on his forehead
took the right turn at once, she gave him a kiss in the very
middle of it, and said she knew he would be a good boy
before the gentleman from the country.
Hugh would not go in with Agnes, because he knew Mr.
Tooke would shake hands with her, and take notice of any
one who was with her. He waited in the passage till Susan
carried in the fish, when he entered behind her, and slipped
to the window till the party took their seats, when he hoped
Mr. Tooke would not observe who sat between Agnes and
his father. But the very first thing his father did was to pull
his head back by the hair behind, and ask him whether he
had persuaded Mr. Tooke to tell him all about the Crofton
Hugh did not wish to make any answer; but his father
said "Eh?" and he thought he must speak; so he said that
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL. 17
Phil had told him all he wanted to know about the Crofton
"Then you can get Mr. Tooke to tell you about Phil, if
you want nothing else," said Mr. Proctor.
Mr. Tooke nodded and smiled; but Hugh began to hand
plates with all his might, he was so afraid that the next
thing would be a question how much four times seven
The dinner went on, however, and the fish was eaten, and
the meat, and the pudding; and the dessert was on the table,
without any one having even alluded to the multiplication-
table. Before this time, Hugh had become quite at his ease,
and had looked at Mr. Tooke till he knew his face quite
Soon after dinner Mr. Proctor was called away on business;
and Hugh slipped into his father's arm-chair, and crossed
one leg over the other knee, as he leaned back at his leisure,
listening to Mr. Tooke's conversation with his mother about
the sort of education that he considered most fit for some
boys from India, who had only a certain time to devote to
school learning. In the course of this conversation some
curious things dropped about the curiosity of children from
India about some things very common here-their wonder
at snow and ice, their delight at being able to slide in the
winter, and their curiosity about the harvest and gleaning,
now approaching. Mr. Proctor came back just as Mr.Tooke
was telling of the annual holiday of the boys at harvest-time,
when they gleaned for the poor of the village. As Hugh
I8 THE CROFTON BOYS.
had never seen a corn-field, he had no very clear idea of
harvest and gleaning; and he wanted to hear all he could.
When obliged to turn out of the arm-chair, he drew a stool
between his mother and Mr. Tooke, and presently he was
leaning on his arms on the table, with his face close to Mr.
Tooke's, as if swallowing the gentleman's words as they fell.
This was inconvenient; and his mother made him draw back
his stool a good way. Though he could hear very well,
Hugh did not like this, and he slipped off his stool, and
came closer and closer.
"And did you say," asked Mr. Proctor, "that your
youngest pupil is nine ? "
"Just nine;-the age of my own boy. I could have
wished to have none under ten, for the reason you know of.
"I wish," cried Hugh, thrusting himself in so that Mr
Tooke saw the boy had a mind to sit on his knee,-" I wish
you would take boys at eight and a quarter."
"That is your age," said Mr. Tooke, smiling and making
room between his knees.
"How did you know? Mother told you."
"No; indeed she did not,-not exactly. My boy was
eight and a quarter not very long ago; and he-"
Did he like being in your school?"
"He always seemed very happy there, though he was so
much the youngest. And they teased him sometimes for
being the youngest. Now you know, if you came, you would
be the youngest, and they might tease you for it."
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL.
"I don't think I should mind that. What sort of teasing,
"Trying whether he was afraid of things."
"What sort of things?"
"Being on the top of a wall, or up in a tree. And then
they sent him errands when he was tired, or when he wanted
to be doing something else. They tried too whether he
could bear some rough things without telling."
THE CROFTON BOYS.
"And did he?"
"Yes, generally. On the whole, very well. I see they
think him a brave boy now."
"I think I could. But do not you really take boys as
young as I am?"
"Such is really my rule."
It was very provoking, but Hugh was here called away to
fish up Jane's work out of the water-butt. As he had put it
in, he was the proper person to get it out. He thought he
should have liked the fun of it; but now he was in a great
hurry back, to hear Mr. Tooke talk. It really seemed as if
the shirt-collar was alive, it always slipped away so when he
thought he had it. Jane kept him to the job till he brought
up her work, dripping and soiled. By that time tea was
ready,-an early tea, because Mr. Tooke had to go away.
Whatever was said at tea was about politics, and about a
new black dye which some chemist had discovered; and
Mr. Tooke went away directly after.
He turned round full upon Hugh, just as he was going.
Hugh stepped back, for it flashed upon him that he was
now to be asked how much four times seven was. But Mr.
Tooke only shook hands with him, and bade him grow
older as fast as he could.
WHY MR. TOOKE CAME,
AFTER tea the young people had to learn their lessons for
the next day. They always tried to get these done, and the
books put away, before Mr. Proctor came in on his shop
being shut, and the business of the day being finished. He
liked to find his children at liberty for a little play, or half an
hour of pleasant reading; or, in the winter evenings, for a
dance to the music of his violin. Little Harry had been
known to be kept up far too late, that he might hear the
violin, and that his papa might enjoy the fun of seeing him
run about among the rest, putting them all out, and fancying
he was dancing. All believed there would be time for play
with papa to-night, tea had been so much earlier than usual.
But Agnes soon feared there would be no play for Hugh.
Though Jane pored over her German, twisting her forefinger
in the particular curl which she always twisted when she was
deep, in her lessons; though Agnes- rocked herself on her
chair, as she always did when she was learning by heart; and
THE CROFTON BOYS.
though Mrs. Proctor kept Harry quiet at the other end of
the room with telling him long stories, in a very low voice,
about the elephant and Brighton pier, in the picture-book,
Hugh could not learn his capital cities. He even spoke out
twice, and stopped himself when he saw all the heads in the
room raised in surprise. Then he set himself to work again,
and he said "Copenhagen" so often over that he was not
likely to forget the word; but what country it belonged to he
could not fix in his mind, though Agnes wrote it down large
on the slate, in hopes that the sight of the letters would help
him to remember. Before he had got on to "Constantinople,"
the well-known sound was heard of the shop-boy taking the
shop-shutters out of their day-place, and Mr. Proctor would
certainly be coming presently. Jane closed her dictionary,
and shook back her curls from over her eyes; Mrs. Proctor
put down Harry from her lap, and let him call for papa as
loud as he would; and papa came bustling in, and gave
Harry a long toss, and several topplings over his shoulder,
and yet Hugh was not ready.
"Come, children," said Mr. Proctor to Agnes and Hugh,
"we have all done enough for to-day. Away with books
and slates 1"
"But, papa," said Agnes, Hugh has not quite done. If
he might have just five minutes more, Miss Harold--"
Never mind what Miss Harold says! That is, you girls
must; but between this and Michaelmas -"
He stopped short, and the girls saw that it was a sign
from their mother that made him do so. He immediately
WHY MR. TOOK CAME. 23
proceeded to make so much noise with Harry, that Hugh
discovered nothing more than that he might put away his
books, and not mind Miss Harold this time. If she asked
him to-morrow why he had not got down to Constantinople,"
he could tell her exactly what his father had said. So, merry
was Hugh's play this evening. He stood so perfectly upright
on his father's shoulders, that he could reach the top of his
grandmamma's picture, and show by his finger-ends how
thick the dust lay upon the frame; and neither he nor his
father minded being told that he was far too old for such
In the midst of the fun, Hugh had a misgiving, more than
once, of his mother having something severe to say to him
when she should come up to his room, to hear him say his
prayer, and to look back a little with him upon the events
of the day. Besides his consciousness that he had done
nothing well this day, there were grave looks from his mother
which made him think that she was not pleased with him.
When he was undressing, therefore, he listened with some
anxiety for her footsteps, and, when she appeared, he was
ready with his confession of idleness. She stopped him in
the beginning, saying that she had rather not hear any more
such confessions. She had listened to too many, and had
allowed him to spend in confessions some of the strength
which should have been applied to mending his faults. For
the present, while she was preparing a way to help him to
conquer his inattention, she advised him to say nothing to
her, or to any one else, on the subject; but this need not
THE CROFTON BOYS.
prevent him from praying to God to give him strength to
overcome his great fault.
"Oh, mother, mother!" cried Hugh, in an agony, "you
give me up What shall I do if you will not help me any
His mother smiled, and told him he need not fear any
such thing. It would be very cruel to leave off providing
him with food and clothes, because it gave trouble to do so;
and it would be far more cruel to abandon him to his faults
for such a reason. She would never cease to help him till
they were cured; but, as all means yet tried had failed, she
must plan some others; and, meantime, she did not wish
him to become hardened to his faults by talking about them
every night when there was no amendment during the
Though she spoke very kindly, and kissed him before she
went away, Hugh felt that he was punished. He felt more
unhappy than if his mother had told him all she thought of
his idleness. Though his mother had told him to go to
sleep, and blessed him, he could not help crying a little, and
wishing that he was a Crofton boy. He supposed the
Crofton boys all got their lessons done somehow, as a matter
of course; and then they could go to sleep without any un-
comfortable feelings, or any tears.
In the morning all these thoughts were gone. He had
something else to think about, for he had to play with
Harry and take care of him while Susan swept and dusted
the parlour; and Harry was bent upon going into the shop,
WHY MR. TOOKE CAME.
a place where, according to the rule of the house, no child
of the family was ever to set foot till it was old enough to be
trusted, nor to taste anything there, asked or unasked. There
were some poisonous things in the shop, and some few nice
syrups and gums; and no child could be safe and well there
who could not let alone whatever might be left on the
counter, or refuse any nice taste that a good-natured shop-
man might offer. Harry was as yet far too young; but as
often as the cook washed the floor-cloth in the passage, so
that the inner shop door had to be opened, Master Harry
was seized with an unconquerable desire to go and see the
blue and red glass bowls which he was permitted to admire
from the street as he went out and came in from his walks.
Mr. Proctor came down this morning as Hugh was catching
Harry in the passage. He snatched up his boys, packed
one under each arm, and ran with them into the yard, where
he rolled Harry up in a new mat which the cook was going
to lay at the house door.
"There said he. "Keep him fast, Hugh, till the pas-
sage door is shut. What shall we do with the rogue when
you are at Crofton, I wonder?"
Why, papa he will be big enough to take care of himself
by that time."
"Bless me! I forgot again," exclaimed Mr. Proctor, as
he made haste away into the shop.
Before long, Harry was safe under the attraction of his
basin of bread and milk; and Hugh fell into a reverie at the
breakfast-table, keeping his spoon suspended in his hand as
26 THE CROFTON BOYS.
he looked up at the windows, without seeing anything. Jane
asked him twice to hand the butter before he heard.
"He is thinking how much four times seven is," observed
Mr. Proctor; and Hugh started at the words.
"I tell you what, Hugh," continued his father; "if the
Crofton people do not teach you how much four times seven
is when you come within four weeks of next Christmas Day,
I shall give you up, and them too, for dunces all."
All the eyes round the table were fixed on Mr. Proctor in
"There now! said he, I have let the cat out of the bag.
Look at Agnes!" and he pinched her crimson cheek.
Everybody then looked at Agnes, except Harry, who was
busy looking for the cat which papa said had come out of
mamma's work-bag. Agnes could not bear the gaze, and
burst into tears.
"Agnes has taken more pains to keep the secret than her
papa," said Mrs. Proctor. The secret is, that Hugh is
going to Crofton next month."
"Am I ten, then? asked Hugh in his hurry and surprise.
"Scarcely, since you were only eight and a quarter yester-
day afternoon," replied his father.
"I will tell you all about it by-and-bye, my dear," said
his mother. Her glance towards Agnes made all the rest
understand that they had better speak of something else
now. So Mr. Proctor beckoned Harry to come and see
whether the cat had not got into the bag again, as she was
not to be seen anywhere else. It is true, the bag was not
WHY MR. TOOKE CAME. 27
much bigger than a cat's head; but that did not matter to
Harry, who never cared for that sort of consideration, and
had been busy for half an hour, the day before, in trying to
put the key of the house door into the keyhole of the tea-
By the time Agnes had recovered herself, and the table
was cleared, Miss Harold had arrived. Hugh brought his
books with the rest, but, instead of opening them, rested his
elbow on the uppermost, and stared full at Miss Harold.
"Well, Hugh !" said she, smiling.
"I have not learned quite down to 'Constantinople,"'
said he. "Papa told me I need not, and not to mind you."
"Why, Hugh hush! cried Jane.
"He did,-he said exactly that. But he meant, Miss
Harold, that I am to be a Crofton boy,-directly, next
"Then have we done with one another, Hugh?" asked
Miss Harold, gently. Will you not learn any more from
"That is for your choice, Miss Harold," observed Mrs.
Proctor. "Hugh has not deserved the pains you have
taken with him; and if you decline more trouble with him
now he is going into other hands, no one can wonder."
Miss Harold feared that he was but poorly prepared for
school, and was quite ready to help him if he would give his
mind to the effort. She thought that play, or reading books
that he liked, was less waste of time than his common way
of doing his lessons; but if he was disposed really to work,
28 THE CROFTON BOYS.
with the expectation of Crofton before him, she was ready to
do her best to prepare him for the real hard work he would
have to do there.
His mother proposed that he should have time to consider
whether he would have a month's holiday or a month's work
before leaving home. She had to go out this morning. He
might go with her, if he liked; and, as they returned, they
would sit down in the Temple Garden, and she would tell
him all about the plan.
Hugh liked this beginning of his new prospects. He ran
to be made neat for his walk with his mother. He knew he
must have the wet curl on his forehead twice over to-day,
but he comforted himself with hoping that there would be
no time at Crofton for him to be kept standing to have his
hair done so particularly, and to be scolded all the while,
and then kissed, like a baby, at the end.
MICHAELMAS DAY COME.
HUGH was about to ask his mother again and again
during their walk why Mr. Tooke let him go to Crofton
before he was ten, but Mrs. Proctor was grave and silent;
and though she spoke kindly to him now and then, she did
not seem disposed to talk. At last they were in the Temple
Garden, and they sat down where there was no one to over-
hear them, and then Hugh looked up at his mother. She
saw and told him what it was that he wanted to ask.
"It is on account of the little boys themselves," said she,
"that Mr. Tooke does not wish to have them very young,
now that there is no kind lady in the house who could be like
a mother to them."
"But there is Mrs. Watson. Phil has told me a hundred
things about Mrs. Watson."
"Mrs. Watson is the housekeeper. She is careful, I know
about the boys' health and comfort; but she has no time to
attend to the younger ones, as Mrs. Tooke did-hearing
30 THE CROFTON BOYS.
their little troubles, and being a friend to them like their
mothers at home."
"There is Phil-"
"Yes, you will have Phil to look to. But neither Phil nor
any else can save you from some troubles you are likely to
have from being the youngest."
"Such as Mr. Tooke told me his boy had-being put on
the top of a high wall, and plagued when he was tired, and
all that? I don't think I should much mind those things."
"So we hope-and so we believe. Your fault is not
Mrs. Proctor so seldom praised anybody that her words
of esteem went a great way. Hugh first looked up at her,
and then down on the grass-his cheeks glowed so. She
"You have faults-faults which give your father and me
great pain; and though you are not cowardly about being
hurt in your body, you sadly want courage of a better kind-
courage to mend the weakness of your mind. You are so
young that we are sorry for you, and mean to send you where
the example of other boys may give you the resolution you
want so much."
"All the boys learn their lessons at Crofton," observed
"Yes; but not by magic. They have to give their minds
to their work. You will find it painful and difficult to learn
this, after your idle habits at home. I give you warning that
you will find it much more difficult than you suppose; and
MICHAELMAS DAY COME.
I should not wonder if you wish yourself at home with Miss
Harold many times before Christmas."
Mrs. Proctor was not unkind in saying this. She saw that
IN THE TEMPLE GARDENS.
Hugh was so delighted about going that nothing would de-
press his spirits, and that the chief fear was his being dis-
appointed and unhappy when she should be far away. It
might then be some consolation to him to remember that
she was aware of what he would have to go through. He
THE CROFTON BOYS.
now smiled, and said he did not think he should ever wish
to say his lessons to Miss Harold as long as he lived. Then
it quickly passed through his mind that, instead of the leads
and the little yard, there would be the playground; and
instead of the church bells, the rooks; and instead of Susan
with her washing and combing, and scolding and kissing,
there would be plenty of boys to play with. As he thought
-of these things, he started up, and toppled head over heels
on the grass, and then was up by his mother's side again,
saying that he did not care about anything that was to
happen at Crofton;-he was not afraid,-not even of the
usher, though Phil could not bear him.
"If you can bring yourself to learn your lessons well,"
said his mother, you need not fear the usher. But remem-
ber, it depends upon that. You will do well enough in the
playground, I have no doubt."
After this, there was only to settle the time that was to
pass-the weeks, days, and hours before Michaelmas Day;
and whether these weeks and days should be employed in
preparing for Crofton under Miss Harold, or whether he
should take his chance there unprepared as he was. Mrs.
Proctor saw that his habits of inattention were so fixed, and
his disgust at lessons in the parlour so strong, that she
encouraged his doing no lessons in the interval. Hugh
would have said beforehand that three weeks' liberty to
read voyages and travels, and play with Harry, would have
made him perfectly happy; but he felt that there was some
disgrace mixed up with his holiday, and that everybody
MICHAELMAS DAY COME.
would look upon him with a sort of pity, instead of wishing
him joy; and this spoiled his pleasure a good deal. When
he came home from his walk, Agnes thought he looked less
happy than when he went out, and she feared his spirits
were down about Crofton.
His spirits were up and down many times during the next
three weeks. He thought these weeks would never be over.
Every day dragged on more slowly than the last; at every
meal he was less inclined to eat, and his happiest time was
when going to bed, because he was a day nearer Crofton.
His mother, foreseeing just what happened, wished to have
kept the news from him till within a week of his departure,
and had agreed with Mr. Proctor that it should be so. But
Mr. Proctor hated secrets, and, as we see, let it out imme-
At last the day came;-a warm, sunny autumn day, on
which any one might have enjoyed the prospect of a drive
into the country. The coach was to set off from an inn in
Fleet Street at noon, and would set Hugh down at his
uncle's door in time for dinner, the distance being twenty-
eight miles. His uncle's house was just two miles from the
school. Phil would probably be there to meet his brother,
and take him to Crofton in the afternoon.
How to get rid of the hours till noon was the question.
Hugh had had everything packed up, over which he had
any control, for some days. He had not left himself a
plaything of those which he might carry; and it frightened
him that his mother did not seem to think of packing his
THE CROFTON BOYS.
clothes till after breakfast this very morning. When she
entered his room for the purpose, he was fidgeting about,
saying to himself that he should never be ready. Agnes
came with her mother, to help; but before the second shirt
was laid in the box, she was in tears, and had to go away;
for every one in the house was in the habit of hiding tears
from Mrs. Proctor, who rarely shed them herself, and was
known to think that they might generally be suppressed,
and should be so.
As Hugh stood beside her, handing stockings and hand-
kerchiefs to fill up the corners of the box, she spoke as she
might not have done if they had not been alone. She said
but a few words; but Hugh never forgot them.
"You know, my dear," said she, "that I do not approve
of dwelling upon troubles. You know I never encourage
ay children to fret about what cannot be helped."
There was nothing in the world that Hugh was more
certain of than this.
"And yet I tell you," she continued, "that you will not
be nearly so happy at Crofton as you expect-at least, at
first. It grieves me to see you so full of expectation- "
"Does it indeed, mother?"
"It does indeed. But my comfort is-"
"You think I can bear it," cried Hugh, holding up his
head. "You think I can bear anything."
"I think you are a brave boy, on the whole. But that is
not the comfort I was speaking of, for there is a Wvbrld of
troubles too heavy for the bravery of a thoughtless child like
MICHAELMAS DAY COME.
you. My comfort is, my dear, that you know where to go
for strength when your heart fails you. You will be away
from your father and me; but a far wiser and kinder Parent
will be always with you. If I were not sure that you would
continually open your heart to Him, I could not let you go
"I will-I always do," said Hugh, in a low voice.
"Then remember this, my boy. If you have that help,
you must not fail. Knowing that you have that help, I
expect of you that you do your own duty, and bear your
own troubles like a man. If you were to be all alone in the
new world you are going to, you would be but a helpless
child; but remember, when a child makes God his friend,
God puts into the youngest and weakest the spirit of a man."
"You will ask Him too, mother; you will pray Him to
make me brave, and-and-"
"And what else? she inquired, fixing her eyes upon him.
"And steady," replied Hugh, casting down his eyes; "for
that is what I want most of all."
"It is," replied his mother. I do, and always will, pray
Not another word was said till they went down into the
parlour. Though it was only eleven o'clock, Miss Harold
was putting on her bonnet to go away; and there was a
plate of bread and cheese on the table.
"Lunch !" said Hugh, turning away with disgust.
"Do eat it," said Agnes, who had brought it. "You had
no breakfast, you know."
36 THE CROFTON BOYS.
"Because I did not want it; and I can't eat anything now."
Jane made a sign to Agnes to take the plate out of sight;
and she put some biscuits into a paper bag, that he might
eat on the road, if he should become hungry.
Neither Miss Harold nor Hugh could possibly feel any
grief at parting, for they had had little satisfaction together;
but she said very kindly that she should hope to hear often
of him, and wished he might be happy as a Crofton boy.
Hugh could hardly answer her;-so amazed was he to find
that his sisters were giving up an hour of their lessons on his
account,-that they might go with him to the coach !-And
then Susan came in about the cord for his box, and her eyes
were red;-and, at the sight of her, Agnes began to cry
again; and Jane bent down her head over the glove she was
mending for him, and her needle stopped.
Jane," said her mother gravely, "if you are not ending
that glove, give it to me. It is getting late."
Jane brushed her hand across her eyes, and stitched away
again. Then she threw the gloves to Hugh without looking
at him, and ran to get ready to go to the coach.
The bustle of the inn-yard would not do for little Harry.
He could not go. Hugh was extremely surprised to find
that all the rest were going,-that even his father was smooth-
ing his hat in the passage for the walk,-really leaving the
shop at noon on his account! The porter was at his service
too,-waiting for his box! It was very odd to feel of such
Hugh ran down to bid the maids good bye. The cook
MICHAELMAS DA Y COME.
had cut a sandwich, which she thrust into his pocket, though
he told her he had some biscuits. Susan cried so that little
Harry stood grave and wondering. Susan sobbed out that
she knew he did not care a bit about leaving home and
everybody. Hugh wished she would not say so, though he
felt it was true, and wondered at it himself. Mr. Proctor
heard Susan's lamentations, and called to her from the pas-
sage above not to make herself unhappy about that, for the
time would soon come when Hugh would be home-sick
Mr. Blake, the shopman, came to the shop-door as they
passed, and bowed and smiled; and the boy put himself in
the way, with a broad grin; and then the party walked on
The sun seemed to Hugh to glare very much, and he
thought he had never known the streets so noisy, or the
people so pushing. The truth was, his heart was beating so
he could scarcely see; and yet be was so busy looking about
him for a sight of the river, and everything he wished to bid
goodbye to, that his father, who held him fast by the hand,
shook him more than once, and told him he would run
everybody down if he could,-to judge by his way of walk-
ing. He must learn to march better, if he was to be a sol-
dier; and to steer, if he was to be a sailor.
There were just two minutes to spare when they reached
the inn-yard. The horses were pawing and fidgeting, and
some of the passengers had mounted; so Mr. Proctor said
he would seat the boy at once. He spoke to two men who
38 THE CROFTON BOYS.
were on the roof, just behind the coachman; and they
agreed to let Hugh sit between them, on the assurance that
the driver would look to his concerns, and see that he was
set down at the right place.
"Now, my boy, up with you!" said his father, as he
turned from speaking to these men. Hugh was so eager,
that he put up his foot to mount, without remembering to
bid his mother and sisters good bye. Mr. Proctor laughed
at this; and nobody wondered; but Agnes cried bitterly;
and she could not forget it, from that time till she saw her
brother again. When they had all kissed him, and his
mother's earnest look had bidden him remember what had
passed between them that morning, he was lifted up by his
father, and received by the two men, between whom he
found a safe seat.
Then he wished they were off. It was uncomfortable to
see his sisters crying there, and not to be able to cry too, or
to speak to them. When the coachman was drawing on his
second glove, and the ostlers held each a hand to pull off
the horse-cloths, and the last moment was come, Mr.
Proctor swung himself up by the step, to say one thing
more. It was-
"I say, Hugh,-can you tell me,-how much is four
Mrs. Proctor pulled her husband's coat-tail, and he leaped
down, the horses' feet scrambled, their heads issued from
the gateway of the inn-yard, and Hugh's family were left
MICHAELMAS DA Y COME.
In the midst of the noise, the man on Hugh's right hand
said to the one on his left,
"There is some joke in that last remark, I imagine."
The other man nodded; and then there was no more
speaking till they were off the stones. When the clatter
was over, and the coach began to roll along the smooth
road, Hugh's neighbour repeated,
"There was some joke, I fancy, in that last remark of
"Yes," said Hugh.
"Are you in the habit of saying the multiplication-table
when you travel ?" said the other. "If so, we shall be
happy to hear it."
Exceedingly happy," observed the first.
"I never say it when I can help it," said Hugh; "and I
see no occasion now."
The men laughed, and then asked him if he was going
"To Crofton. I am going to be a Crofton boy," said
"A what? Where is he going?" his companions asked
one another over his head. They were no wiser when
Hugh repeated what he had said, nor could the coachman
enlighten them. He only knew that he was to put the boy
down at Shaw's, the great miller's, near thirty miles along
"Eight-and-twenty," said Hugh, in correction; "and
Crofton is two miles from my uncle's,"
40 THE CROFTON BOYS.
"Eight-and-twenty. The father's joke lies there," observed
the right-hand man.
No, it does not," said Hugh. He thought he was among
a set of very odd people,-none of them knowing what a
Crofton boy was. A passenger who sat beside the coachman
only smiled when he was appealed to; so it might be con-
cluded that he was ignorant too; and the right and left-hand
men seemed so anxious for information, that Hugh told
them all he knew;-about the orchard and the avenue, and
the pond on the heath, and the playground; and Mrs.
Watson, and the usher, and Phil, and Joe Cape, and Tony
Nelson, and several others of the boys.
One of the men asked him if he was sure he was going for
the first time,-he seemed so thoroughly informed of every-
thing about Crofton. Hugh replied that it was a good thing
to have an elder brother like PhiL Phil had told him just
what to take to Crofton, and how to take care of his money,
"Ay! and how do the Crofton boys take care of their
Hugh showed a curious little inner pocket in his jacket,
which nobody would dream of that did not know. His
mother had let him have such a pocket in both his jackets;
and he had wanted to have all his money in this one now, to
show how safely he could carry it. But his mother had
chosen to pack up all his five shillings in his box,-that
square box, with the new brass lock, on the top of all the
luggage. In this pocket there was only sixpence now,-the
MICHAELMAS DAY COME.
sixpence he- was to give the coachman when he was set
Then he went on to explain that this sixpence was not out
of his own money, but given him by his father, expressly for
the coachman. Then his right-hand companion congratu-
lated him upon his spirits, and began to punch and tickle
him; and when Hugh writhed himself about, because he
could not bear tickling, the coachman said he would have
no such doings, and bade them be quiet. Then the pas-
sengers seemed to forget Hugh, and talked to one another
of the harvest in the north, and the hopping in Kent. Hugh
listened about the hopping, supposing it might be some new
game, as good as leap-frog; though it seemed strange that
one farmer should begin hopping on Monday, and that
another should fix Thursday, and that both should be so
extremely anxious about the weather. But when he found
it was some sort of harvest-work, he left off listening, and
gave all his attention to the country sights that were about
He did not grow tired of the gardens, gay with dahlias
and hollyhocks and asters; nor of the orchards, where the
ladder against the tree, and the basket under, showed that
apple-gathering was going on; nor of the nooks in the fields,
where blackberries were ripening; nor of the chequered sun-
light and shadow which lay upon the road; nor of the
breezy heath where the blue ponds were ruffled; nor of the
pleasant grove where the leaves were beginning to show a
tinge of yellow and red, here and there among the green.
42 THE CROFTON BOYS.
Silently he enjoyed all these things, only awakening from
them when there was a stop to change horses.
He was not thinking of time or distance when he saw the
coachman glance round at him, and felt that the speed of
the horses was slackening. Still he had no idea that this
was any concern of his, till he saw something that made
"Why, there's Phil," he exclaimed, jumping to his feet.
"This is Shaw's mill, and there is Shaw; which is all I
have to do with," said the coachman, as he pulled up.
Hugh was soon down, with his uncle and Phil, and one
of the men from the mill to help. His aunt was at the
window too; so that altogether Hugh forgot to thank his
companions for his safe seat. He would have forgotten his
box, but for the coachman. One thing more he also forgot.
"I say, young master," said the driver; "remember the
coachman. Where's your sixpence ?"
"Oh, my sixpence !" cried Hugh, throwing down what he
held, to feel in his curious inner pocket, which was empty.
Lest you. find a hole in your pocket, here is a sixpence
for you," cried the right-hand passenger, tossing him his own
sixpence. "Thank you for teaching us the secret of such a
The coachman was impatient, got his money, and drove
off, leaving Hugh to make out why he had been tickled, and
how his money had changed hands. With a very red face,
he declared it was too bad of the man; but the man was
out of his hearing, and could never know how angry he was,
MICHAELMAS DA Y COME. 43
"A pretty story this is for our usher to have against you,
to begin with," was Phil's consolation. "Every boy will
know it before you show yourself; and you will never hear
the last of it, I can tell you."
"Your usher!" exclaimed Hugh, bewildered.
Yes, our usher. That was he on the box, beside coachee.
Did not you find out that much in all these eight-and-
"How should I? He never told me."
Hugh could hardly speak to his uncle and aunt, he was
so taken up with trying to remember what he had said, in
the usher's hearing, of the usher himself, and everybody at
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER.
MRS. SHAW ordered dinner presently; and while it was
being served, she desired Phil to brush his brother's clothes,
as they were dusty from his ride. All the while he was
brushing (which he did very roughly), and all the first part
of dinner-time, Phil continued to tease Hugh about what he
had said on the top of the coach. Mrs. Shaw spoke of the
imprudence of talking freely before strangers; and Hugh
could have told her that he did not need such a lecture at
the very time that he found the same thing by his experience.
He did wish Phil would stop. If anybody should ask him
a question, he could not answer without crying. Then he
remembered how his mother expected him to bear things;
and he almost wished he was at home with her now, after
all his longing to be away. This thought nearly made him
cry again; so he tried to dwell on how his mother would
expect him to bear things; but neither of them had thought
that morning beside his box, that the first trial would come
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER.
from Phil. This again made him so nearly cry that his
uncle observed his twitching face, and, without noticing him,
said that he, for his part, did not want to see little boys wise
DRESSING FOR DINNER.
before they had time to learn; and that the most silent
companions he had ever been shut up with in a coach was
certainly the least agreeable; and he went on to relate an
adventure which has happened to more persons than one,
He had found the gentleman in the corer, with the shaggy
46 THE CROFTON BOYS.
coat, to be a bear-a tame bear, which had to take the
quickest mode of conveyance, in order to be at a distant fair
in good time. Mr. Shaw spun out his story, so that Hugh
quite recovered himself, and laughed as much as anybody
at his uncle having formed a bad opinion of Bruin in the
early twilight, for his incivility in not bowing to the passenger
who left the coach.
After dinner, Phil thought it time to be off to Crofton.
"e had missed something by coming away at all to-day, and
ne was not going to run the chance of losing the top of the
class by not having time to do his Sallust properly. Mrs.
Shaw said they must have some of her plums before they
went, and a glass of wiie; and Mr. Shaw ordered the gig,
saying he would drive them, and thus no time would be lost
though he hoped Phil would not mind being at the bottom
of every class for once to help his brother, seeing how soon a
diligent boy might work his way up again. Phil replied that
that was not so easy as people might think, when there was
one like Joe Cape determined to keep him down, if he could
once get him down.
"I hope you will find time to help Hugh up from the
bottom, in a class or two," said Mr. Shaw. "You will not
be too busy about your own affairs to look to his, I suppose."
"Where is the use of my meddling?" said Phil. "He
can't rise for years to come. Besides-"
Why can't I rise?" exclaimed Hugh, with glowing cheeks.
"That is right, Hugh," said his uncle. "Let nobody
prophesy for you till you show what you can do."
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER.
Why, uncle, he is nearly two years younger than any boy
in the school; and--"
"And there is little Page above you in algebra. He is
about two years younger than you, Phil, if I remember right."
Hugh could not help clapping his hands at the prospect
this held out to him. Phil took the act for triumphing over
him, and went on to say, very insultingly, that a little fellow
who had been brought up among the girls all his life, and
had learned of nobody but Miss Harold, could not be ex-
pected to cut any figure among boys. Hugh looked so
grieved for a moment, and then suddenly so relieved, that
his kind uncle wondered what was in his mind. He took
the boy between his knees, and asked him.
Hugh loved his uncle already, as if he had always known
him. He put his arms round his neck, and whispered in
his ear what he was thinking of:-his mother's saying that
God could and would, if He was sought, put the spirit of a
man into the feeblest child.
"True!--quite true! I am very glad you know that, my
boy. That will help you to learn at Crofton, though it is
better than anything they can teach you in their school-
Mrs. Shaw and Phil looked curious; but Mr. Shaw did
not repeat a word of what Hugh had said. He put the boy
away from his knees, because he heard the gig coming
Mrs. Shaw told Hugh that she hoped he would spend some
of his Sundays with his uncle and her; and his uncle added
48 THE CROFTON BOYS.
that he must come on holidays as well as Sundays,-there
was so much to see about the mill.
Phil was amused, and somewhat pleased, to find how exactly
Hugh remembered his description of the place and neigh-
HUGH FINDS A SYMPATHIZER.
bourhood. He recognized the duck-pond under the hedge
by the roadside, with the very finest blackberries. growing
above it, just out of reach. The church he knew, of course,
and the row of chestnuts, whose leaves were just beginning
to fall; and the high wall dividing the orchard from the pIay,
ground. That must have been the wall on which Mr.Tooke's
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER.
little boy used to be placed to frighten him. It did not look
so very high as Hugh had fancied it. One thing which he
had never seen or heard of was the bell, under its little roof
on the ridge of Mr. Tooke's great house. Was it to call in
the boys to school, or for an alarm ? His uncle told him it
might serve the one purpose in the day, and the other by
night; and that almost every large farm thereabouts had such
a bell on the top of the house.
The sun was near its setting when they came in sight of
the Crofton house. A long range of windows glittered in the
yellow light, and Phil said that the lower row all belonged
to the school-room-that whole row.
In the midst of his explanations Phil stopped, and his
manner grew more rough than ever-with a sort of shyness
in it too. It was because some of the boys were within
hearing, leaning over the .pales which separated the play-
ground from the road.
"I say; hallo there!" cried one. "Is that Prater you
have got with you?"
"Prater the second," cried another. "He could not have
had his name if there had not been Prater the first."
"There; there's a scrape you have got me into already!'
"Be a man, Phil, and bear your own share," said Mr.
Shaw; "and no spite, because your words come back to you."
The talk at the palings still went on, as the gig rolled
quietly in the sandy by-road.
"Prater!" poor Hugh exclaimed. "What a name!"
so THE CROFTON BOYS.
Yes; that is you," said his uncle. You know now what
your nickname will be. Every boy has one or another; and
yours might have been worse, because you might have done
many a worse thing to earn it."
But the usher, uncle !"
"What of him?"
"He should not have told about me."
Don't call him 'Prater the third,' however. Bear your
own share, as I said to Phil, and don't meddle with another's."
Perhaps Mr. Shaw hoped that through one of the boys
the usher would get a new nickname for his ill-nature in
telling tales of a little boy, before he was so much as seen by
his companions. He certainly put it into their heads, whether
they would make use of it or not.
Mr. Tooke was out, taking his evening ride; but Mr. Shaw
would not drive off till he had seen Mrs. Watson, and intro-
duced his younger nephew to her, observing to her that he
was but a little fellow to come among such a number of
rough boys. Mrs. Watson smiled kindly at Hugh, and said
she was glad he had a brother in the school, to prevent his
feeling lonely at first. It would not take many days, she
hoped, to make him feel quite at home. Mr. Shaw slipped
half a crown into Hugh's hand, and whispered to him to try
to keep it safe in his inner pocket. Hugh ran after him to
the door, to tell him that he had five shillings already-safe
in his box; but his uncle would not take back the half-crown.
He thought that, in course of time, Hugh would want all the
money he had;
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER. 5
Mrs. Watson desired Phil to show his brother where he
was to sleep, and to help him to put by his clothes. Phil
was in a hurry to get to his Sallust; so that he was not sorry
when Mrs. Watson herself came up to see that the boy's
clothes were laid properly in the deep drawer in which Hugh
was to keep his things. Phil then slipped away.
Dear me," said Mrs. Watson, turning over one of Hugh's
new collars, "we must have something different from this.
These collars tied with a black ribbon are never tidy. They
are always over one shoulder or the other."
My sisters made them; and they worked so hard to get
them done," said Hugh.
"Very well-very right; only it is a pity they are not of
a better make. Every Sunday at church I shall see your
collar awry; and every time you go to your aunt's, she will
think we do not make you neat. I must see about that. Here
are good stockings, however-properly stout. My dear, are
these all the shoes you have got ?"
"I have a pair on."
"Of course; I don't doubt that. We must have you
measured to-morrow for some boots fitter for the country
than these. We have no London pavement here."
And so Mrs. Watson went on, sometimes approving and
Sometimes criticising, till Hugh did not know whether to cry
or to be angry. After all the pains his mother and sisters
had taken about his things, they were to be found fault with
in this way!
When his box was emptied, and his drawer filled, Mrs.
THE CROFTON BOYS.
Watson took him into the school-room, where the boys were
at supper. Outside the door the buzz seemed prodigious,
and Hugh hoped that in such a bustle nobody would notice
him. Here he was quite mistaken. The moment he entered
there was a hush, and all eyes were turned upon him, except
his brother's. Phil hardly looked up from his book; but he
made room for Hugh between himself and another boy, and
drew the great plate of bread within reach. Mrs. Watson
saw that Hugh had his basin of milk; and he found it a
good thing to have something to do while so many eyes were
upon him. He felt that he might have cried if he had not
had his supper to eat.
The usher sat at the top of the table, reading. Mrs.Watson
called his attention to Hugh, and Hugh stood up and made
his bow. His face was red, as much with anger as timidity,
when he recognized in him the passenger who had sat beside
"Perhaps, Mr. Carnaby," said Mrs. Watson, "you will find
something for this young gentleman to do, when he has had
his supper, while the rest are learning their lessons. To-
morrow he will have his own lessons; but to-night--"
"There is always the multiplication-table," replied Mr.
Carnaby. The young gentleman is partial to that, I fancy."
Hugh reddened, and applied himself to his bread and milk.
"Never mind a joke," whispered Mrs. Watson. "We won't
plague you with the multiplication-table the first evening. I
will find you a book or something. Meantime, there is a
companion for you-I forgot that."
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER. 53
The good lady went down the room, and brought back a
boy who seemed to be doing all he could to stop crying.
He dashed his hand over his eyes every minute, and could
THE FIRST NIGHT AT SCHOOL.
not look anybody in the face. He had finished his supper,
and was at a loss what to do next, as he had only arrived
that morning, and did not know anybody at Crofton. His
name was Tom Holt, and he was ten years old.
When they had told their names and ages, and where
54 THE CROFTON BOYS.
they came from, the boys did not know what to say next, and
Hugh wished Phil would stop murmuring over his Sallust and
looking in the dictionary every minute; but Mrs. Watson did
not forget the strangers. She brought them Cook's Voyages
out of the library to amuse themselves with, on condition of
their delivering the book to Mr. Carnaby at bed-time.
The rest of the evening passed away very pleasantly.
Hugh told Holt a great deal about Broadstairs and the
South Sea Islands, and confided to him his own hopes of
being a sailor; and going round the world, and, if possible,
making his way straight through China, the most difficult
country left to travel in, he believed, except some parts of
Africa. He did not want to cross the Great Desert, on
account of the heat. He knew something of what that was
by the leads at home, when the sun was on them. What
was the greatest heat Holt had ever felt? Then came the
surprise. Holt had last come from his uncle's farm; but he
was born in India, and had lived there till eighteen months
ago. So, while Hugh had chattered away about the sea at
Broadstairs, and the heat on the leads at home, his com-
panion had come fourteen thousand miles over the ocean,
and had felt a heat nearly as extreme as that of the Great
Desert. Holt was very unassuming too. He talked of the
heat of gleaning in his uncle's harvest-fields, and of the
kitchen when the harvest supper was cooking; owning that
he remembered he had felt hotter in India. Hugh heaped
questions upon him about his native country and the voyage,
and Holt liked to be asked; so that the boys were not at all
MICHAELMAS .DAY OVER.
like strangers just met for the first time. They raised their
voices in the eagerness of their talk, from a whisper so as to
be heard quite across the table, above the hum and buzz
of above thirty others, who were learning their lessons half
At last Hugh was startled by hearing the words "Prater,"
"Prater the second." He was silent instantly, to Holt's great
Without raising his eyes from his book, Phil said, so as to
be heard as far as the usher,
"Who prated of Prater the second? Who is Prater the
There was a laugh which provoked the usher to come and
see whereabouts in Sallust such a passage as this was to be
found. Not finding any such, he knuckled Phil's head, and
pulled his hair, till Hugh cried out,
"Oh, don't, sir! Don't hurt him so !"
"Do you call that hurting? You will soon find what
hurting is, when you become acquainted with our birch.
You shall have four times seven with our birch- Let us
see-that is your favourite number, I think."
The usher looked round, and almost everybody laughed.
"You see I have your secret;-four times seven," con-
tinued Mr. Carnaby. "What do you shake your head
"Beca'se you have not my secret about four times
56 THE CROFTON BOYS.
Did not I hear your father? Eh?"
"What did you hear my father say? Nobody here knows
what he meant, and nobody need know, unless I choose to
tell-which I don't. Please don't teaze Phil about it, sir,
for he knows no more about it than you do."
Mr. Carnaby said something about the impertinence of
little boys, as if they could have secrets, and then declared
it high time that the youngsters should go to bed. Hugh
delivered Cook's Voyages into his hands, and then bade
Phil good night. He was just going to put his face up to
be kissed, but recollected in time that he was to leave off
Kissing when he went to school. He held out his hand,
but Phil seemed not to see it, and only told him to be sure
to lie enough on one side, so as to leave him room, and that
he was to take the side of the bed next the window. Hugh
nodded and went off, with Holt and two more who slept in
the same room.
The two who were not new boys were in bed in a minute;
and when they saw Hugh wash his face and hands, they sat
up in bed to stare. One of them told him that he had
better not do that, as the maid would be coming for the
light, and would leave him in the dark, and report of him if
he was not in bed. So Hugh made a great splutter, and did
not half dry his face, and left the water in the basin; a thing
which they told him was not allowed. He saw that the
others had not kneeled down to say their prayers-a practice
which he had never omitted since he could say a prayer,
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER.
except when he had the measles. He knew the boys were
watching him, but he thought of his mother, and how she
had taught him to pray at her knee. He hid himself as well
as he could with the scanty bed-curtains, and kneeled. He
could not attend to the words he said while feeling that
eyes were upon him, and before he had done, the maid came
in for the candle.
She waited; but when he got into bed she told him that
he must be quicker to-morrow night, as she had no time to
spare waiting for the candle.
Hugh was more tired than he had ever been in his life.
This had been the longest day he had ever known. It
seemed more like a week than a day. Yet he could not go
to sleep. He had forgotten to ask Phil to be sure and wake
him in time in the morning, and now he must keep awake
till Phil came, to say this. Then, he could not but ask him-
self whether he liked, and should like, being at school as
much as he expected; and when he felt how very unlike
home it was, and how rough everybody seemed, and how
Phil appeared almost as if he was ashamed of him, instead
of helping him, he was so miserable he did not know what
He cried bitterly-cried till his pillow was quite wet,
and he was almost choked with his grief; for he tried
hard not to let his sobs be heard. After a while he felt
what he might do. Though he had kneeled he had not
really prayed; and if he had, God is never weary of prayers.
58 THE CROFTOIV BOYS.
It was a happy thought to Hugh that his very best Friend
was with him still, and that he might speak to Him at any
He spoke now in his heart; and a great comfort it was.
"O God, I am all alone here, where nobody knows me;
and everything is very strange and uncomfortable. Please
make people kind to me till I am used to them; and keep
up a brave heart in me, if they are not. Help me not to
mind little things; but to do my lessons well, that I may get
to like being a Crofton boy, as I thought I should. I love
them all at home very much-better than I ever did before.
Make them love me, and think of me every day, particularly
Agnes, that they may be as glad as I shall be when I go
home at Christmas."
This was the most of what he had to say; and he dropped
asleep with the feeling that God was listening to him.
After a long while, as it seemed to him, though it was only
an hour, there was a light and some bustle in the room. It
was Phil and two others coming to bed.
Oh, Phil i" cried Hugh, starting bolt upright and winking
with sleep, "I meant to keep awake, to ask you to be sure
and call me in the morning, time enough-quite time enough,
The others laughed; and Phil asked whether he had not
seen the bell as he came, and what it should be for but to
ring everybody up in the morning.
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER. 59
"But I might not hear it," pleaded Hugh.
"Not hear it! You'll soon see that."
"Well, but you will see that I really do wake, won'-
"The bell will take care of that, I tell you," was all he
could get from Phil.
HUGH PLEADS FOR HIS BROTHER.
HUGH found, in the morning, that there was no danger of
his not hearing the bell. Its clang-clang startled him out of
a sound sleep; and he was on his feet on the floor almost
before his eyes were open. The boys who were more used
to the bell did not make quite so much haste. They yawned
a few times, and turned out more slowly; so that Hugh had
the great tin wash-basin to himself longer than the rest.
There was a basin to every three boys; and, early as Hugh
began, his companions were impatient long before he had
done. At first they waited in curiosity to see what he was
going to do after washing his face; when he went further,
they began to quiz; but when they found that he actually
thought of washing his feet, they hooted and groaned at him
for a dirty brat.
"Dirty !" cried Hugh, facing them, amazed-" dirty for
washing my feet Mother says it is a dirty trick not to wash
all over every day."
CROFTON PLA Y.
Phil told him that was stuff and nonsense here. There
was no room and no time for such home doings. The boys
all washed their heads and feet on Saturdays. He would
soon find that he might be glad to get his face and hands
done in the mornings.
The other boys in the room were, or pretended to be, so
disgusted with the very idea of washing feet in a basin, that
they made Hugh rinse and rub out the tin basin several
times before they would use it, and then there was a great
bustle to get downstairs at the second bell. Hugh pulled
his brother's arm, as Phil was brushing out of the room, and
asked, in a whisper whether there would be time to say his
"There will be prayers in the school-room. You must be
in time for them," said Phil. "You had better come with
"Do wait one moment, while I just comb my hair."
Phil fidgeted, and others giggled, while Hugh tried to part
his hair, as Susan had taught him. He gave it up, and left
it rough, thinking he would come up and do it when there
was nobody there to laugh at him.
The school-room looked chilly and dull, as. there was no
sunshine in it till the afternoon; and still Mr. Tooke was not
there, as Hugh had hoped he would be.. Mrs. Watson and
the servants came in for prayers, which were well read by the
usher; and then everybody went to business-everybody but
Hugh and Holt, who had nothing to do. Class after class
came up for repetition; and this repetition seemed to the
THE CROFTON BOYS.
new boys an accomplishment they should never acquire.
They did not think that any practice would enable them to
gabble as everybody seemed able to gabble here. Hugh
had witnessed something of it before; Phil having been
wont to run off at home, "Sal, Sol, Ren et Splen," to the
end of the passage, for the admiration of his sisters, and so
much to little Harry's amusement, that Susan, however busy
she might be, came to listen, and then asked him to say it
again, that cook might hear what he learned at school.
Hugh now thought that none of them gabbled quite so fast
as Phil, but he soon found out, by a glance or two of Phil's
to one side, that he was trying to astonish the new boys. It
is surprising how it lightened Hugh's heart to find that his
brother did not quite despise or feel ashamed of him, as he
had begun to think, but that he even took pains to show off.
He was sorry, too, when the usher spoke sharply to Phil,
and even rapped his head with the cane, asking him what
he spluttered out his nonsense at that rate for. Thus ended
Phil's display; and Hugh felt as hot, and as ready to cry, as
if it had happened to himself.
Perhaps the usher saw this, for when he called Hugh up,
he was very kind. He looked at the Latin grammar he had
used with Miss Harold, and saw by the dogs'-ears exactly
how far Hugh had gone in it, and asked him only what he
could answer very well. Hugh said three declensions, with
only one mistake. Then he was shown the part that he was
to say to-morrow morning; and Hugh walked away, all the
happier for having something to do, like everybody else
CROFTON PLA Y.
He was so little afraid of the usher, that he went back to
him to ask where he had better sit.
"Sit! Oh, I suppose you must have a desk, though you
have nothing to put in it. If there is a spare desk, you shall
have it; if not, we will find a corer for you somewhere."
Some of the boys whispered that Mrs. Watson's footstool,
under her apron, would do; but the usher overheard this,
and observed that it took some people a good while to know
a new boy, and that they might find that a little fellow might
be as much of a man as a big one. And the usher called
the oldest boy in the school, and asked him to see if there
was a desk for little Proctor. There was; and Hugh put
into it his two or three school-books and his slate, and felt
that he was now indeed a Crofton boy. Then, the usher was
kinder than he had expected; and he had still to see Mr.
Tooke, of whom he was not afraid at all. So Hugh's spirits
rose, and he liked the prospect of breakfast as well as any
boy in the school.
There was one more rebuff for him first, however. He
ran up to his, room to finish combing his hair, while the
other boys were thronging into the long room to breakfast.
He found the housemaids there, making the beds; and they
both cried "Out! out!" and clapped their hands at him,
and threatened to tell Mrs. Watson of his having broken
rules, if he did not go this moment. Hugh asked what
Mrs. Watson would say to his hair, if he went to breakfast
with it as it was. One of the maids was good-natured
enough to comb it for him for once, but she said he must
THE CROFTON BOYS.
carry a comb in his pocket, as the boys were not allowed to
go to their rooms, except at stated hours.
At last Hugh saw Mr. Tooke. When the boys entered
school at nine o'clock, the master was at his desk. Hugh
went up to his end of the room with a smiling face, while
Tom Holt hung back; and he kept beckoning Tom Holt
on, having told him there was nothing to be afraid of.
But when at last Mr. Tooke saw them, he made no difference
between the two, and seemed to forget having ever seen
Hugh. He told them he hoped they would be good boys,
and would do credit to Crofton; and then he asked Mr.
Carnaby to set them something to learn. And this was all
they had to do with Mr. Tooke for a long while.
This morning in school, from nine till twelve, seemed the
longest morning these little boys had ever known. When
they remembered that the afternoon would be as long, and
every morning and afternoon for three months, their hearts
sank. Perhaps, if any one had told them that the time
would grow shorter and shorter by use, and at last, when
they had plenty to do, almost too short, they would not
have believed it, because they could not yet feel it. But
what they now found was only what every boy and girl
finds on beginning school, or entering upon any new way of
Mr. Carnaby, who was busy with others, found it rather
difficult to fill up their time. When Hugh had said some
Latin, and helped his companion to learn his first Latin
lesson, and both had written a copy and done a sum, Mr.
CROFTON PLA Y. 65
Carnaby could not spare them any more time or thought,
and told them they might do what they liked, if they only
kept quiet till school was up. So they made out the ridicu-
lous figures which somebody had carved upon their desks,
and the verses, half rubbed out, which were scribbled inside;
and then they reckoned, on their slates, how many days
there were before the Christmas holidays-how many school-
days, and how many Sundays. And then Hugh began to
draw a steamboat in the Thames, as seen from the leads of
his father's house; while Holt drew on his slate the ship in
which he came over from India. But before they had done,
the clock struck twelve: school was up, and there was a
general rush into the playground.
Now Hugh was really to see the country. Except that
the sun had shone pleasantly into his room in the morning,
through waving trees, nothing had yet occurred to make him
feel that he was in the country. Now, however, he was in
the open air, with trees sprinkled all over the landscape, and
green fields stretching away, and the old church-tower half
covered with ivy. Hugh screamed with pleasure; and nobody
thought it odd, for almost every boy was shouting. Hugh
longed to pick up some of the shining brown chestnuts
which he had seen yesterday in the road, under the trees;
and he was now cantering away to the spot, when Phil ran
after him, and roughly stopped him, saying he would get into
a fine scrape for the first day if he went out of bounds.
Hugh had forgotten there were such things as bounds, and
was not at all glad to be reminded of them now. He sighed
66 THE CROFTON BOYS.
as he begged Phil to show him exactly where he might go
and where he might not. Phil did so in an impatient way,
and then was off to trap-ball, because his party were waiting
The chestnut-trees overhung one corner of the playground
within the paling, and in that corner Hugh found several
chestnuts which had burst their sheaths, and lay among the
first fallen leaves. He pocketed them with great delight,
wondering that nobody had been before him to secure such
a treasure. Agnes should have some; and little Harry
would find them nice playthings. They looked good to
eat too, and he thought he could spare one to taste; so he
took out his knife, cut off the point of a fine swelling chest-
nut, and tasted a bit of the inside. Just as he was making
a face over it, and wondering that it was so nasty, when
those which his father roasted in the fire-shovel on Christmas
Day were so good, he heard laughter behind him, and found
that he was again doing something ridiculous, though he
knew not what; and in a moment poor Hugh was as un-
happy as ever.
He ran away from the laughing boys, and went quite to
the opposite corner of the playground, where a good number
of his schoolfellows were playing ball under the orchard
wall. Hugh ran hither and thither, like the rest, trying tc
catch the ball, but he never could do it; and he was jostled
and thrown down, and another boy fell over him; and he
was told that he knew nothing about play, and had bette:
CROFTON PLA Y 67
He did so with a heavy heart, wondering how he was ever
to be like the other boys, if nobody would take him in hand
and teach him to play, or even let him learn. Remember-
ing what his mother expected of him, he tried to sing, to
A BITTER DISCOVERY.
prevent crying, and began to count the pales round the
playground for something to do. This presently brought
him tc a tree which stood on the very boundary, its trunk
serving instead of two or three pales. It was only a twisted
old apc -tree, out the more twisted and gnarled it was, the
nore it looked like a tree that Hugh could climb; and he
68 THE CROFTON BOYS.
had always longer to climb a tree. Glancing up, he saw
a boy aeeadv there, sitting on the fork of two branches,
Have you a mind to come up ?" asked the boy.
"Yes, sir, I should like to try to climb a tree. I never
"Well, this is a good one to begin with. I'11 lend you a
hand; shall I?"
"Thank you, sir."
"Don't call me 'sir.' I'm only a schoolboy, like you. I
am Dan Firth. Call me Firth, as I am the only one of
the name here. You are little Proctor, I think-Proctor's
"Yes; but, Firth, I shall pull you down if I slip."
"Not you; but I'11 come down, and so send you up to
my seat, which is the safest to begin with. Stand off."
Firth swung himself down, and then, showing Hugh where
to plant his feet, and propping him when he wanted it, he
soon seated him" on the fork, and laughed good-naturedly
when Hugh waved his cap over his head, on occasion of
being up in a tree. He let him get down and up again
several times, till he could do it quite alone, and felt that
he might have a seat here whenever it was not occupied by
any one else.
While Hugh sat in the branches, venturing to leave hold
with one hand, that he might fan his hot face with his cap,
Firth stood on the rail of the palings, holding by the tree,
and talking to him. Firth told him that this was the only
CROFTON PLAY. 69
tree the boys were allowed to climb, since Ned Reeve had
fallen from the great ash and hurt his spine. He showed
what trees he had himself climbed before that accident, and
it made Hugh giddy to think of being within eight feet of
the top of the lofty elm in the churchyard, which Firth had
thought nothing of mounting.
"Did anybody teach you ?" asked Hugh.
"Yes; my father taught me to climb, when I was younger
"And had you anybody to teach you games and things,
when you came here?"
"No; but I had learned a good deal of that before I
came, and so I soon fell into the ways here. Have you
anybody to teach you?"
"No-yes-why, no. I thought Phil would have showed
me things; but he does not seem to mind me at all." And
Hugh bit his lip, and fanned himself faster.
"Ah he attends to you more than you think."
"Does he? Then why-but what good does it do
"What good? His holding off makes you push your own
way. It lets you make friends for yourself."
"I have no friends here," said Hugh.
"Yes, you have. Here am I. You would not have had
me, if you had been at Proctor's heels at this moment."
"Will you be my friend, then. "
"That i w.ll."
"What, a great Doy hke you, that sits reading in a .tree!
THE CROFTON BOYS.
But I may read nere beside you. You said there was room
"Ay; but you must not use it yet,-at least, not often,
if you wish to do well here. Everybody knows I can play
at anything. From the time I became captain of the wall
at fives, I have had liberty to do what I like, without question.
But you must show that you are up to play, before they will
let you read in peace and quiet."
"But how can I, if-if- "
"Once show your spirit,-prove that you can shift for
yourself, and you will find Phil open out wonderfully. He
and you will forget all his shyness then. Once show him
that he need not be ashamed of you-"
"Ashamed of me !" cried Hugh, firing up.
"Yes. Little boys are looked upon as girls in a school
till they show that they are little men. And then again, you
have been brought up with girls,-have not you ?"
"To be sure; and so was he."
"And half the boys here, I dare say. Well, they are
called Bettys till- "
"I am not a Betty," cried Hugh, flashing again.
"They suppose you are, because you part your hair, and
do as you have been used to do at home."
"What business have they with my hair? I might as well
call them Bruins for wearing theirs shaggy."
"Vezy true. They will let you and your hair alone when
they see what you are made of; and then Phil will---"
He will ovn me wnen I don't want it; and now, when
CROFTON PLAY. 71
he might :e.op me, there he is, far off, never caring about
what becomes of me."
Oh, yes, he does. He is watching you all the time. You
and he will have it all out some day before Christmas, and
then you will see how he really cares about you. Really
your hair is very long,-too like a girl's. Shall I cut it for
I should like it," said Hugh, "but I don't want the boys
to think I am afraid of them, or to begin giving up to
"You are right there. We will let it alone now, and cut
it when it suits our convenience."
"What a nice place this is, to be sure!" cried Hugh, as
the feeling of loneliness went off. "But the rooks do not
make so much noise as I expected."
"You will find what they can do in that way when spring
comes,-when they are building."
"And when may we go out upon the heath, and into the
fields where the lambs are?"
"We go long walks on Saturday afternoons; but you do
not expect to see young lambs in October, do you?"
"Oh, I forgot. I never can remember the seasons for
"That shows you are a Londoner. You will learn all
those things here. If you look for hares in our walks, you
may chance to see one; or you may start a pheasant; but
take care you don't mention lambs, or goslings, or cowslips,
or any spring things, or you will never hear the last of it."
72 THE CROFTON BOYS.
"Thank you; but wnat will poor Holt do? He is from
India, and he knows very little about our ways."
"They may laugh at him but they will not despise him,
as they might a Londoner. Being an Indian, and being a
Londoner, are very different things."
And yet how proud the Londoners are over the country.
It is very odd."
"People are proud of their own ways all the world over.
You will be proud of being a Crofton boy by-and-bye."
"Perhaps I am now, a little," said Hugh, blushing.
"What, already? Ah! you will do, I see. I have known
old people proud of their age, and young people of their
youth. I have seen poor people proud of their poverty; and
everybody has seen rich people proud of their wealth. I
have seen happy people proud of their prosperity, and the
afflicted proud of their afflictions. Yes, people can always
manage to be proud: so you have boasted of being a Lon-
doner up to this time, and from this time you will hold your
head high as a Crofton boy."
"How long? Till when? "
"Ah! till when? What next? What ao you mean to be
"A soldier, or a sailor, or a great traveller, or something
of that kind. I mean to go quite round the world, like
"Then you will come home, proud of having been round
the world; and you will meet with some old neighbour who
boasts of having spent all his life in the house he was born in."
"Old Mr. Dixon told mother that of himself, very lately.
Oh, dear! how often does the postman come?"
"You want a letter from home, do you? But you left
them only yesterday morning."
"I don't know how to believe that,--it seems such an
immense time! But wnen does the postman come?"
"Any day when he has letters to bring,-at about four in
the afternoon. We see him come, from the school-room;
but we do not know who the letters are for till school breaks
up at five."
"Oh, dear!" cried Hugh, thinking what the suspense
must be, and the disappointment at last to twenty boys,
perhaps, for one that was gratified. Firth advised him to
write a letter home before he began to expect one. If he
did not like to ask the usher, he himself would rule the
paper for him, and he could write a bit at a time, after his
lessons were done in the evening, till the sheet was full.
Hugh then told his grievance about the usher, and Firth
thought that though it was not wise in Hugh to prate about
Crofton on the top of the coach, it was worse to sit by and
listen without warning, unless the listener meant to hold his
own tongue. But he fancied the usher had since heard
something which made him sorry; and the best way now
was for Hugh to bear no malice, and remember nothing
more of the affair than to be discreet in his future journeys.
"What is the matter there?" cried Hugh. "Oh, dear!
something very terrible must have happened. How that boy
THE CROFTON BOYS.
"It is only Lamb again," replied Firth. "You will soon
get used to his screaming. He is a very passionate boy-I
never saw such a passionate fellow."
But what are they doing to him ?"
"Somebody is putting him into a passion, I suppose.
There is always somebody to do that."
"What a shame !" cried Hugh.
"Yes; I see no wit in it," replied Firth. "Anybody may
do it. You have only to hold your little finger up to put
him in a rage."
Hugh thought Firth was rather cool about the matter.
But Firth was not so cool when the throng opened for a
moment, and showed what was really done to the angry boy.
Only his head appeared aboveground. His schoolfellows
had put him into a hole they had dug, and had filled it up
to his chin, stamping down the earth, so that the boy was
perfectly helpless, while wild with rage.
"That is too bad!" cried Firth. "That would madden
And he jumped down from the paling, and ran towards
the crowd. Hugh, forgetting his height from the ground,
stood up in the tree, almost as angry as Lamb himself, and
staring with all his might to see what he could. He saw
Firth making his way through the crowd, evidently remon-
strating, if not threatening. He saw him snatch a spade
from a boy who was flourishing it in Lamb's face. He saw
that Firth was digging, though half a dozen boys had thrown
themselves on his back, and hung on his arms. He saw
CROFTON PLAY. .7
HUGH TO THE RESCUE.
that Firth persevered till Lamb had got his right arm out of
the ground, and was striking everything within reach. Then
he saw Firth dragged down and away, while the boys made
a circle round Lamb, putting a foot or hand within his reach,
and then snatching it away again, till the boy yelled with
rage at the mockery.
THE CROFTON BO s.
Hugh could look on no longer. He scrambled down
from the tree, scampered to the spot, burst through the
throng, and seized Lamb's hand. Lamb struck him a heavy
blow, taking him for an enemy; but Hugh cried I am your
friend," seized his hand again, and tugged till he was first
red and then black in the face, and till Lamb had worked
his shoulders out of the hole, and seemed likely to have the
use of his other arm in a trice.
Lamb's tormentors at first let Hugh alone in amazement;
but they were not long in growing angry with him too.
They hustled him-they pulled him all ways-they tripped
him up; but Hugh's spirit was roused, and that brought his
body up to the struggle again and again. He wrenched
himself free, he scrambled to his feet again, as often as he
was thrown down; and in a few minutes he had plenty of
support. Phil was taking his part, and shielding him from
many blows. Firth had got Lamb out of the hole; and
the party against the tormentors was now so strong that they
began to part off till the struggle ceased. Firth kept his
grasp of the spade; for Lamb's passion still ran so high that
there was no saying what might be the consequences of
leaving any dangerous weapon within his reach. He was
still fuming and stamping, Hugh gazing at him the while in
wonder and fear.
"There stands your defender, Lamb," said Firth, "think-
ing he never saw a boy in a passion before. Come, have
done with it for his sake; be a man, as he is. Here, help
me to fill up this hole-both of you. Stamp down the earth,
CROFTON PLAY. 77
Lamb. Tread it well-tread your anger well down into it.
Think of this little friend of yours here-a Crofton boy only
A FRIEND GAINED.
Lamb did help to fill the hole, but he did not say a
word--not one word to anybody, till the dinner-bell rang.
Then, at the pump, where the party were washing their hot
and dirty and bruised hands, he held out his hand to Hugh,
muttering, with no very good grace,
78 THE CROFTON BOYS.
"I don't know what made you help me, but I will never
be in a passion with you,-unless you put me out, that is."
Hugh replied that he had come to help because he never
could bear to see anybody made worse. He always tried at
home to keep the little boys and girls off drunk old Tom,"
as he was called in the neighbourhood. It was such a shame
to make anybody worse Lamb looked as if he was going
to fly at Hugh now; but Firth put his arm round Hugh's
neck, and drew him into the house, saying in his ear,
Don't say any more that you have no friends here. You
have me for one; and you might have had another-two in
one morning-but for your plain speaking about drunk old
"Did I say any harm?"
"No-no harm," replied Firth, laughing. "You will do,
my boy-when you have got through a few scrapes. I'm
your friend, at any rae."
HUGO'S afternoon lessons were harder than those of the
morning; and in the evening he found he had so much to
do, that there was very little time left for writing his letter
home. Come time there was, however; and Firth did not
forget to rule his pape' and-to let Hugh use his ink. Hugh
had been accustomed to copy the prints he found in the
voyages and tavels he read; and he could never see a
picture of a savage but he wanted to copy it. He was thus
accustomed to a pretty free use of his slate-pencil. He now
thought that it would save a great deal of description if he
sent a picture or two in his letter; so he flourished off, on
the first page, a sketch of Mr. Tooke sitting at his desk at
the top of the school, and of Mr. Carnaby standing at his
desk at the bottom of the school.
The next evening he made haste to fill up the sheet, for
he found his business increasing upon his handc qo fast that
0o THE CROFTON BOYS.
he did not know when he should get his letter off, if he did
not dispatch it at once. He was just folding it up, when
Tom Holt observed that it was a pity not to put some words
into the mouths of the figures, to make them more animated;
and he showed Hugh, by the curious carvings of their desks,
how to put words into the mouths of figures. Hugh then
remembered having seen this done in the caricatures in the
print-shops in London, and he seized on the idea. He put
into Mr. Tooke's mouth the words which were oftenest
heard from him, "Proceed, gentlemen;" and into Mr.
Carnaby's, Hold your din."
Firth was too busy with his sense-verses to mind the little
boys, as they giggled, with their heads close together, over
Hugh's sheet of paper; but the usher was never too busy to
be aware of any fun which might possibly concern his dignity.
He had his eye on the new boys the whole while. He let
Hugh direct his letter, and paint up a stroke or two which
did not look so well as the rest; and it was not till Hugh
was rolling the wafer about on his tongue that he interfered.
Mr. Carnaby then came up, tapped Hugh's head, told him
not to get on so fast, for that every letter must be looked
over before it went to the post. While saying this, he took
the letter and put it into his waistcoat pocket. In vain
Hugh begged to have it again, saying he would write another.
The more he begged, and the more dismayed Tom Holt
looked, the less Mr. Carnaby would attend to either. Firth
let himself be interrupted to hear the case; but he could do
nothing in it. It was a general rule, which he thought every
FIRST RAMBLE. 81
boy had known; and it was too late now to prevent the
letter being looked over.
Mr. Carnaby was so angry at the liberty Hugh had taken
REPORTED FOR MISCONDUCT.
with his face and figure, that, in spite of all prayers and a
good many tears, he walked up the school with the letter,
followed by poor Hugh, as soon as Mr. Tooke had taken
his seat next morning. Hugh thought that Holt, who had
put him up to the most offensive part of the pictures, might
have borne him company; but Holt was a timid boy. and
THE CROPPON BO VS.
he really iad not courage to leave his seat. So Hugh stood
alone, awaiting Mr. Tooke's awful words, while the whole of
the first class looked up from their books, in expectation of
what was to happen. They waited some time for the master's
words for he was trying to help laughing. He and Mr.
Caraby were so much alike in the pictures, and both so
like South Sea Islanders, that it was impossible to help
laughing at the thought of this sketch going abroad as a
representation ot the Crofton masters. At last, all pa. des
laughed aloud, and Mr. Tooke handed Hugh his wafer-glass,
and bade him wafer up his letter, and by all means send it.
Mr. Carnaby could not remain offended, if his principal was
not angry; so here the matter ended, except that Hugh
made some strong resolutions about his future letters, and
that the corners of the master's mouth were seen to be out
of their usual order several times in the course of the
This incident, and everything which haunted Hugh's mind
and engrossed his attention, was a serious evil to him; for
his business soon grew to be more than his habit of mind
was equal to. In a few days, he learned to envy the boys
(and they were almost the whole school) who could fix their
attention completely and immediately on the work before
them, and relax as completely when it was accomplished.
When his eyes were wandering, they observed boy after boy
frowning over his dictionary, or repeating to himself, earnestly
and without pause; and presently the business was done,
and the learner at ease, feeling confident that he was ready
FIRST RAMBLE. 83
to meet his master. After double the time had passed,
Hugh was still trying to get the meaning of his lesson into
his head-going over the same words a dozen times, without
gaining any notion of their meaning-suffering, in short,
from his long habit of inattention at home. He did now try
hard; but he seemed to get only headaches for his pains.
His brother saw enough to make him very sorry for Hugh
before ten days were over. He might not, perhaps, have been
struck with his anxious countenance, his frequent starts, and
his laying his head down on the desk because it ached so,
if it had not been for what happened atnight. Sometimes
Hugh started out of bed, and began to dress, when the elder
boys went up with their light, only an hour after the younger
ones. Sometimes he would begin saying his syntax in the
middle of the night, fancying he was standing before Mr.
Carnaby; and once he walked in his sleep as far as the head
of the stairs, and tien suddenly woke, and could not make
out where he was. Phil should have told Mr. Tooke of
these things but Hugh was so very anxious that nobody
should know of his tricks (as the boys in his room called
his troubles), that Phil only mentioned the matter to Mrs.
Watson, who had known so many bad sleepers among little
boys, and had so little idea that the habit was anything new,
that she took scarcely any notice of it. She had his hair
cut very short and close, and saw that he took a moderate
supper, and was satisfied that all would be well. Hugh did
not part with his hair till he had joked himself about its
length, as much as any one could quiz him for it. When he
84 TlE CROFTON BOYS.
had pulled it down over the end of his nose, and peeped
through it, like an owl out of an ivy-bush, he might be sup-
posed to part with it voluntarily, and not because he was
Phil's observation of his brother's toil and trouble led him
to give him some help. Almost every day he would hear
Hugh say his lesson-or try to say it; for the poor boy
seldom succeeded. Phil sometimes called him stupid, and
sometimes refrained from saying so, whatever he might
think; but there really was very little difference in the result,
whether Phil heard the lessons beforehand or not; and it
gave Joe Cape a great advantage over Phil that he had no
little brother to attend to. Considering how selfish rivalship
is apt to make boys (and even men), it was perhaps no
wonder that Phil sometimes kept out of Hugh's way at the
right hour, saying to himself that his proper business was to
do his lessons, and get or keep ahead of Joe Cape; and
that Hugh must take his chance, and work his own way, as
other boys had to do. This conduct might not be wondered
at in Phil. but it hurt Hugh, and made him do his lessons
all the worse. He did not like to expose his brother's un-
kindness to any one, or he would oftener have asked Firth
to help him. Firth, too, had plenty of work of his own to
do. More than once, however, Firth met the little lad,
wandering about, with i_- grammar in his hand, in search
f the hidden Phil; and zhen Firth would stop him, and sit
down with him, and have patience, and give him such clear
explanations, such good examples of the rules he was to
learn, that it all became easy, and -ugh found his -lessons
were to him only what those of other boys seemed to them.
Still, however, and at the best, Hugh was, as a learner, far
too much at the mercy of circumstances -the victim of
what passed before his eyes, or was said within his hearing.
Boys who find difficulty in attending to their lessons are
sure to be more teased with interruptions than any others.
Holt had not the habit of learning; and he and Hugh were
continually annoyed by the boys who sat near them watching
how they got on, and making remarks upon them. One
day, Mr. Tooke was called out of the school-room to a
visitor, and Mr. Carnaby went up to take the master's place
and hear his class. This was too good an opportunity for
the boys oelow to let shp; and they began to play tricks,-
most of them directed against Hugh and Tom Holt. One
boy, Warner, began to make the face that always made Holt
86 THE CROFTON BOYS.
laugh, however he tried to be grave. Page drew a caricature
of Mrs. Watson on his slate, and held it up, and Davison
took a mask out of his desk, and even ventured to tie it on,
as if it had not been school-time.
"I declare I can't learn my lesson-'tis too bad!" cried
"'T is a shame!' said Tom Holt, sighing for breath after
his struggle not to laugh. "We shall never be ready."
Hugh made gestures of indignation at the boys, which
only caused, worse faces to be made, and the mask to
We won't look at them," proposed Holt. Let us cover
our eyes, and not look up at all."
Hugh put his hands before his eyes, but still his mind's
eye saw the grinning mask, and his lesson did not get on.
Besides, a piece of wet sponge lighted on the very page he
was learning from. He looked up fiercely: to see who had
thrown it. It was no other than Tooke, who belonged to
that class-it was Tooke, to judge by his giggle, and his
pretending to hide his face, as if ashamed. Hugh tossed
back the sponge, so as to hit Tooke on the nose. Then
Tooke was angry, and threw it again, and the sponge passed
backwards and forwards several times, for Hugh was by this
time very angry,-boiling with indignation at the hardship of
not being able to learn his lesson, when he really would if
he could. While the sponge was still passing to and fro,
Mr. Camaby's voice was heard from the far end of the
room, desiring Warner, Page, Davison, and Tooke to be
FIRST RAMBLE. 87
quiet, and let the boys alone till Mr. Tooke came in, when
Mr. Tooke would take his own measures.
Hugh, wondering how Mr. Carnaby knew, at that distance,
what was going on, found that Holt was no longer by his
WORRYING THE JUNIORS.
side. In a moment, Holt returned to his seat, flushed and
out of breath. A very slight hiss was heard from every form
near, as he came down the room.
"Oh, Holt you have been telling tales !" cried Hugh.
"Telling tales !" exclaimed Holt, in consternation, for
Holt knew nothing of school ways. "I never thought of
that. They asked me to tell Mr. Carnabv that we could not
learn our lessons."
88 THE CROFTON BOYS.
"Theyl Who? I am sure I never asked you."
"No, you did not; but Harvey and Prince did,-and
Gillingham. They said Mr. Carnaby would soon make those
fellows quiet; and they told me to go."
"You hear! They are calling you 'tell-tale.' That will
be your name now. Oh, Holt, you should not have told
tales. However, I will stand by you," Hugh continued,
seeing the terror that Holt was in.
I meant no harm," said Holt, trembling. Was not it a
shame that they would not let us learn our lessons?"
"Yes, it was-but----"
At this moment Mr. Tooke entered the room. As he
passed the forms, the boys were all bent over their books
as if they could think of nothing else. Mr. Tooke walked
up the room to his desk, and Mr. Carnaby walked down the
room to his desk; and then Mr. Carnaby said, quite aloud,
"Mr. Tooke, sir."
Here Holt sprang from his desk, and ran to the usher and
besought him not to say a word about what Warner's class
had been doing. He even hung on Mr. Carnaby's arm in
entreaty; but Mr. Carnaby shook him off, and commanded
him back to his seat. Then the whole school heard Mr.
Tooke told about the wry faces and the mask, and the
trouble of the little boys. Mr. Tooke was not often angry,
but when he was, his face grew white, and his lips trembled
His face was white now. He stood up, and called before
him the little boy who had informed. Hugh chose to go
FIRST RAMBLE. 89
with Holt, though Holt had not gone up with him about
the letter the other day; and Holt felt how kind this was.
Mr. Tooke desired to know who the offenders were; and as
they were named, he called to them to stand up in their
places. Then came the sentence. Mr. Tooke would never
forgive advantage being taken of his absence. If there were
boys who could not be trusted while his back was turned,
they must be made to remember him when he was out of
sight, by punishment. Page must remain in school after
hours, to learn twenty lines of Virgil; Davison twenty;
Here everybody looked round to see how Tooke bore his
father being so angry with him.
90 HE CROFTON BOYS.
"Please, sir," cried one boy, "I saw little Proctor throw
a sponge at Tooke. He did it twice."
"Never mind," answered Tooke. "I threw it at him first.
It is my sponge."
"And Warner," continued the master, as if he had not
heard the interruption, "considering that Warner has got oft
too easily for many pranks of late,-Warner seventy."
Seventy! The idea of having anybody condemned,
through him, to learn seventy lines of Latin by heart, made
Holt so miserable, that the word seventy seemed really to
prick his very ears. Though Mr. Tooke's face was still white,
Holt ventured up to him.
"Not a word of intercession for those boyw!' said the
master. "I will not hear a word in their favour."
"I only want to say, then, that Proctor told no tales, sir
I did not mean any harm, sir, but I told because- "
Never mind that," cried Hugh, afraid that he would now
be telling of Harvey, Prince, and Gillingham, who had per-
suaded him to go up.
"I have nothing to do with that. That is your affair,"
said the master, sending the boys back to their seats.
Poor Hol_ had cause to rue this morning for long after,
He was weary of the sound of hissing, and of the name
"tell-tale ;" and the very boys who had prompted him to go
up were at first silent, and then joined against him. He
complained to Hugh of the difficulty of knowing what it
was right to do. He had been angry on Hugh's account
chiefly; and he still thought it was very unjust to hinder
their lessons, when they wished not to be idle; and yet they
were all treating him as if he had done something worse
than the boys with the mask. Hugh thought all this was true;
but he believed it was settled among schoolboys (though
Holt had never had the opportunity of knowing it) that it
was a braver thing for boys to bear any teasing from one
another than to call in the power of the master to help. A
boy who did that was supposed not to be able to take care
of himself; and for this he was despised, besides being dis-
liked, for having brought punishment upon his companions.
Holt wished Hugh had not been throwing sponges at the
time-he wished Hugh had prevented his going up, He
would take good care how he told tales again.
"You had better say so," advised Hugh, and then they
will see that you had never been at school, and did not
know how to manage."
The first Saturday had been partly dreaded, and partly
longed for, by Hugh. He had longed for the afternoon's
ramble, but Saturday morning was the time for saying tables,
among other things. Nothing happened as he had expected.
The afternoon was so rainy that there was no going out;
and, as for the tables, he was in a class of five, and "four
times seven" did not come to him in regular course. Eight
times seven did, and he said "fifty-six" with great satis-
faction. Mr. Carnaby asked him afterwards the dreaded
7HE CROFTON BOYS.
question, but he was on his guard; and as he answered it
right, and the usher had no, found out the joke, he hoped
he should hear no more of the matter.
The next Saturday was fine, and at last he was to have
the walk he longed for. The weekly repetitions were over
dinner was done, Mr. Carnaby appeared with his hat on, the
whole throng burst into the open air and out of bounds,
and the new boys were wild with expectation and delight.
When they had passed the churchyard and the green, and
were wading through the sandy road which led up to the
heath, Firth saw Hugh running and leaping hither and
thither, not knowing what to do with nis spirits. Firth
called him, and putting his arm round Hugh's n'eck, so as
to keep him prisoner, said he did not know how he might
want his strength before he got home, and he had better
not spend it on a bit of sandy road. So Hugh was made to
walk quietly, and gained his breath before the breezy heath
On the way, he saw that a boy of the name of Dale,
whom he had never particularly observed before, was a good
deal teased by some boys who kept crossing their hands
before them and curtseying like girls, talking in a mincing
way and calling one another Amelia, with great affectation.
Dale tried to get away, but he was followed, whichever way
"What do they mean by that?" inquired Hugh of Firth
Dale has a sister at a school not far off, and her name is
Amelia; and she came to see him to-day. Ah you have.
FIRST RAMBLE. 93
not found out yet that boys are laughed at about their sisters,
particularly if the girls have fine names."
"What a shame I" cried Hugh; words which he had used
very often already since he came to Crofton.
He broke from Firth, ran up to Dale, and said to him, in
a low voice, "I have two sisters, and one of them is called
Don't let them come to see you, then, or these fellows
will quiz you as they do me. As if I could help having a
sister Amelia "
"Why, you are not sorry for that? You would not wish
your sister dead, or not born, would you?"
"No; but I wish she was not hereabouts: that is, I wish
she had not come up to the pales, with the maid-servant
behind her, for everybody to see. And then, when Mr,
Tooke sent us into the orchard together, some spies were
peeping over the wall at us all the time."
'I only wish Agnes would come," cried Hugh, "and I
"Ah! you think so now; but depend upon it, you would
like much better to see her at home. Why, her name is
finer than my sister's. I wonder what girls ever have such
"I don't see that these names are finer than some boys'
names. There's Frazer, is not his name Colin? And then
there's Hercules Fisticuff- "
"Why, you know-to be sure you know that is a nick
name ?" said Dale.