The Baldwin Library
R m UnivcrrUity
"ll-r ~ -.... . .... .
Something shot over Mrs. Pearson's head, grazing her cap. It was only the
monkey, but in her alarm she took it for something much more terrible.-
STORIES OF WHITMIINSTER, p. 43.
STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
ASCOTT R. HOPE.
AUTHOR OF "GEORGE'S ENEMIES," "MY SCHOOLBOY FRIENDS," "STORIES OF
SCHOOL LIFE," "A BOOK ABOUT BOYS," ETC.
WILLIAM P. NIMMO,
PRINTED BY M'FARLANE AND ERSKINE,
(late Schenck &- M'Farlate,)
ST JAMES' SQUARE.
SAVE you forgot the nursery beds
On which we laid our curly heads,
And whispered stories, each to each,
Now Time has done its work for each,
In straightened locks and sobered speech,
And other lips now claim your love
As Husband I
All richest blessing crown your love
On earth below and heaven above;
All joy be hers whom now I name,
My Sister I
May other boys soon bear our name,
And other curly heads, the same
As once were ours, crowd round your knee,
A Father 1
And, as they come about your knee,
When tired of childish sport and glee,
Tell them these tales, and talk of me,
Their Uncle I
WYly 5, 1878.
THE BURGLAR, .
TOM, DICK, AND HARRY,
A HISTORY OF HAMPERS,'
THE MISFORTUNES OF AN ELEVEN,
ST VALENTINE'S DAY, .
WOULD have my readers to understand that
when the time drew near for sending this
kite of mine into the air, I had meditated and
partly written down the heads of certain somewhat
serious observations which might serve for a tail, to
steady it, as it were, and to explain to all who might
be interested in the matter why I had written in such
and such a strain, why I had fixed my scene in such
a place, why I had touched upon this feature of
schoolboy life and not on that, why I had laughed
and not cried over one or the other folly; and how,
whether I laughed or cried, I would ndt have written
a line if my purpose had only been to raise thought-
less laughter. Then I had intended to give a hint
or two to the critics who should condescend to take
notice of these apparently frivolous narratives, deli-
cately suggesting the passages where they ought to
admire, warning them off the features which I defy
them to censure, thanking them for past encourage-
ment and advice, and politely remonstrating with
them in particulars where I think some of them may
be led to see that they have treated me too cavalierly.
In fact, my preface was to have been the most weighty
and not the least remarkable portion of the present
work. But when the day came that I was summoned
to prepare it for the press, it happened that I was
staying in the country with some friends, who, as is
their wont, were singularly kind, and that the weather,
as is not its wont, was singularly fine; and it was
sweet to wander on the green banks of the full flow-
ing Thames, and lie on the new-mown hay beneath
the hawthorn shade, and dream of all things in heaven
and earth except work or winter; and, in fact, it
struck me that the public cared as little for reading
prefaces as I for writing them, and that if my tales
cannot make themselves understood, they do not
deserve any explanation of what was intended to be
their purport; so I resolved to do without the pro-
posed tail altogether, and to send up my kite at once,
with only these few ornamental tags to it. If any of
my schoolboy friends grudge the loss of the grave
discourse with which I had wished to treat them, I
must say that they are very hard on me, and I only
hope that all of them are less idle than I am this hot
weather. This very day I am going back to my
desk, where, before I can get any further holidays, I
have to write an imposition of nearly ten thousand
lines, which must be shown up to my young masters
next Christmas, and I am sure they will not be
willing to let me off this new task; for if the present
tales seem tame and uninteresting, as compared
with much of the popular literature of the day, I
can promise that no one shall have the. same fault
Sto find with the forthcoming work, with a view to
which I have carefully studied the taste of the juve-
nile public, and shall do my best to gratify it in my
new "CHRISTMAS ANNUAL," containing a large
quantity of tomahawkings, shipwrecks, fights, ghosts,
grizzly bears, savages, escapes, and other wonderful
adventures by flood and field, after the models of the
most approved authors.
The following pages are very ordinary stories of
ordinary boys at an ordinary school, and contain
nothing but ordinary incidents and reflections, which,
nevertheless, may be thought worthy of more than
the ordinary attention bestowed on such matters.
But I have already explained that I am not going
to write a long preface, so I will at once leave my
readers to make the acquaintance of my stories for
themselves, or at least will only pause tp introduce
them in the slightly altered words of an old poet-
Have me excused if I do not please;
My will is good, and lo I my tales are these."
A. R. H.
HAVE heard of schools to which boys return
after the holidays without regret-nay, with
delight-seeming to find home quite a dull
place in comparison. Whether it be that these
schools are different from the schools I have known,
or that these boys are not the same as the sort of
boys we used to be, I cannot tell; but I am sure we
were not so fond of returning to Whitminster. Per-
haps we had more work and less play there, not so
much liberty, and not so great a choice of amuse-
ments; not such good food, or such abundant pocket-
money, as the young Sybarites of the present day.
At all events, when we used to assemble for the first
time in the big, bare boys' room of our boarding-
house, a collection of somewhat long faces would be
4 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
visible, and the boldest of us might perhaps have
confessed to having shed just one or two little tears
when saying good-bye that dismal morning.
I am speaking of the rule; there were exceptions.
The most common of these was the case of a little
fellow coming to school for the first time, brimful
of spirits and kindliness, rejoicing in his emancipa-
tion from the nursery, and his admission into a
paradise of freedom, of which he has heard such
glowing accounts from companions who have them-
selves penetrated into the land of schoolboydom, and
report it full of milk and honey, saying nothing about
the gall and wormwood which in this part of the
world also abound. He is eager to enjoy these
privileges; he can't understand how any one should
be sorry to come back to school. He hungers for
companionship, and does not doubt that all the other
boys are as glad to see him as he is to see them.
With amusing simplicity, he at once allies himself to
the biggest and most formidable boys in the school;
he sports playfully round the den of Bruiser, that
notorious bully, and hesitates not to address the great
Augustus de Collars, who shaves twice a day, and
has trousers constructed in London on the most
scientific principles. Some of these oldsters, perhaps,
THE FA VOURITE. 5
repulse his advances with more or less stiffness or
indignation; others, more good-natured, smile at the
little fellow's innocence, and, with sage wags of the
head, prophesy that he won't be so enthusiastic the
next time he comes back to school. For my part,
I am always touched by such frankness and trustful-
ness, knowing what chills will soon fall on the warm,
young heart. And then one can't help thinking of
the future day, when the same heart will have passed
though its schoolboy trials, and, with the same hope-
fulness and confidence, will be going out into the
great world, expecting to find there nothing but
freedom and fun and friendliness, and learning in
due time the bitter lesson of experience-what the
real life of boy and man is in this great school of
ours, where, for some threescore years or so at the
most, we make shift to spell out our lessons, and
are happy only if we can contrive to be ignorant,
or for a little to forget how many heartless bullies
and stern masters and hard tasks and cruel punish-
'ments we have to suffer as manfully as may be,
hoping surely for the day when at length, for the
last time, we shall quit our state of bondage and
probation, and no longer be mocked by the names
of love and liberty.
6 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
This is moralising something more than may seem
fit; but when you come to think about it, there is
a great deal to think about in a boy's first going
to school. What I was going on to say was, that
never did a new boy seem more cheerful and chatty
than Harry Kennedy did the first day he made his
appearance in the schoolhouse at Whitminster. He
was not nine years old, and had never been to school
before, but from the very first he took as kindly to it
as a duck to the water. In his case, there was no
trembling or wistful looking back to the cosy nest of
the nursery; but, under the wing of his elder brother
George, he trotted about, eager to see the school-
room and the dormitories and the playground of
which he had heard so much, and to make acquain-
tance with these wonderful boys to whom he was
prepared to open all his honest little heart so fully.
And the fellows took to him at once. George was
decidedly a favourite among them, and this, of course,
went far towards securing for his younger brother a
more kindly reception than new boys generally meet
with; but Harry needed no help of this sort as soon
as it was seen what a merry and manly little chap
he was. Some amusement was caused by his sim-
plicity, but he was the first to join the laugh against
THE FA VOURITE.
himself, though George, jealous of the family reputa-
tion, indignantly declared that in two or three weeks
he would be more of a schoolboy than half the
fellows who were making fun of him. So any one
might have foretold who saw the sturdy urchin, with
his light hair and frank blue eyes, laughing and
chattering among a group of his new companions,
without the least fear or shyness, yet without that
boisterous swaggering manner which boys, and men
too, often assume to conceal false shame. Even Mr
Vialls, our master, was taken by his round happy
face, and stopped to speak to him in quite a gentle
tone of voice, though, as a rule, Mr Vialls was any-
thing but a sucking-dove.
"So you are young Kennedy, are you ?"
"Yes," said Harry, as bold as if he were talking to
an ordinary mortal. "What is your name, please?"
"My name?" said the master, sitting down and
taking Harry on his knee, while the other boys looked
on wonderingly,-" My name is Vialls."
Oh, Vialls I've heard of you. You're the master
who is so fond of licking the fellows, aren't you ?"
The boys expected the ceiling to fall and crush
this impious child, but Mr Vialls did not call for a
thunderbolt, and said, quietly-
8 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
"You must call me Mr Vialls when you speak to
"All right, Mr Vialls! Do you know, you are very
like the curate at our place ?"
"Yes, you are. The other day he was going over
a field behind Mr Burton's house, and the Burtons'
bull ran at him, and he tumbled down, and they let
Carlo our big dog out, and it made the bull run away.
You can't think what a splendid fellow Carlo is!
I suppose you never saw Carlo?" Harry rattled on.
" He's black all over except his two front paws, and
they are white; and papa says he has more sense than
many men have; and oh! he's such .a fine dog. I
wish you could see him. You must come and see us
in the holidays, and I'll show you Carlo. Why did
you never come to see George in the holidays ?"
"I am afraid he sees enough of me here," said Mr
Vialls, putting the boy down and hastily walking
"I say, Harry, you mustn't go on with the masters
that way," exclaimed George, as soon as he was out of
hearing. "You must call him 'sir,' and not talk so
free and easy to him. I never heard of such a thing!
What a little donkey you are !"
THE FA VO URITE. 9
But though George thought fit thus to rebuke
Harry, he went about all the afternoon saying, quite
"Have you heard what my young brother said to
While pretending not to care much about it, he
was delighted by the favourable impression the little
fellow was making, and looked after him more care-
fully than he wished to show. Didn't he flare up
presently when he found that Abbing had got hold of
Harry as a promising subject to exercise his talents
"You must go to the door of that room," Abbing
was saying; "be sure you knock at the right one.
Then go in without waiting for an answer,-we always
do,-and say, 'Look here, Vialls; I've come for a
pint-and-a-half of strap-oil.' All the new fellows are
bound to go and ask him for some, and you "-
"DROP THAT!" roared George, swooping down
upon this confabulation. "I say, Abbing, if I catch
you trying to humbug my brother, I'll give you a
hiding that will make you howl for a month. So
you had better not try it on."
And Master Abbing thought it as well to acquiesce
in this arrangement, and slunk off in search of some
10 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
other new fellow less adequately protected against
In due time came tea, and Harry confirmed the
favourable impression he had already made on his
new friends, by appearing with a large pot of jam
under each arm. One of these he offered to the big
boys, which these young gentlemen were pleased to
accept with much graciousness; the other he distri-
buted among his own contemporaries at the lower end
of the table, and found all of them very anxious for
the honour of his acquaintance. So liberally did he
dispense the jam, that there was none left for himself;
" But then, I've had lots to-day already," he explained
to his next neighbour, who was none other than
"Do you like butter ?" asked Abbing.
"Not much. I'll sell you mine for a penny a week,
if you like."
I'm much obliged to you; but George told me not
to make any bargains without telling him," said sen-
sible little Harry.
This silenced Abbing for the moment, but presently
he returned to the charge again, and offered to eat an
inch of tallow-candle if Harry would give him two-
THE FA VOURITE. 11
pence. Receiving again a polite refusal to this pro-
position, he applied himself to his bread-and-jam.
Then the boy on Harry's other side, by name Prior,
as it seemed, attempted to take up the conversation.
"Have you seen my brother's watch ?" he said,
solemnly, as if he were speaking of an eighth wonder
of the world.
N," said Harry; "but George has a splendid
watch at home, and he is to be allowed to bring it
"Whose form are you to be in, young Kennedy?"
somebody called out from the other side of the
I don't know; but I'll ask George," quoth Harry.
"I say, don't stick to me so much, and don't be
always talking about me," growled George to him
more than once during the evening. Go among the
fellows of your own size, and you'll soon get on with
But though he gave this good advice, George was
always coming to see how the youngster was doing;
and if he did not do well, it certainly would not be
for want of patronage.
No, indeed. For the next thing was, that Mrs Pear-
son sent to ask the two Kennedys to supper with her.
12 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
"My eye!" declared George; "I never heard of
such a thing. I say, Harry, you are going to be a
favourite with Mother P. I'm not. Whenever I go into
her room she says my boots are dirty, and sends me to
take them off. She never asked me to supper before!"
I wish I hadn't eaten all that toffee," was the re-
mark of Phillips, who had also been asked.
"There's a roast duck; Eliza told me," said Prior,
with great seriousness. He hadn't been asked.
The boys who were fortunate enough to have re-
ceived such an invitation washed their hands, brushed
their hair, put on their best behaviour, and repaired
to Mrs Pearson's parlour. But before they entered
it, George suddenly caught his brother by the arm,
and dragged him back to whisper into his ear-
Look here Don't you kiss her, remember."
"All right! I know!" replied Harry, with much
Few boys entered this parlour without a certain
amount of awe, such as humble individuals may be
supposed to experience in the presence-chamber of a
queen. Mrs Pearson, with her cap and curls, made a
very imposing monarch, and received the homage of
her subjects in such a way as not to encourage fami-
liarity. But while George fidgeted uneasily on the
THE FA VOURITE.
edge of his chair, and said, "Yes, ma'am," and No,
ma'am," and did not venture to eat as much as he
should have liked to, Harry at once made himself as
much at home here as he had done in the schoolroom.
He played with the cat, and asked for more sugar to
his tart, and told stories about Carlo, and laughed
and chattered at such a rate that his big brother was
lost in amazement at his audacity, and wondered if
this was the Harry who wasn't allowed to go in the
boat at home, and had to change his boots when they
were wet, and mightn't even meddle with the pony
unless somebody was by. The only person Harry
showed the least fear for was Dr Pearson, the para-
lysed and superannuated Head-master of Whitminster,
who silently dozed in his chair all the evening, and
by his very presence cast a shade of awe over the
liveliest disposition. But Mrs Pearson seemed far
from displeased at the boy's familiarity, for when he
said good-night, she patted him on the head, and gave
him a handful of macaroons, and told him he must
come to tea with her some night soon.
I say, Harry, you must look out," said George,
rather crossly, as they were coming away from this
banquet. You'll be becoming a regular favourite."
S"Oh, no I shan't," said Harry, understanding from
14 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
his tone that the character of "favourite" was an un-
Mrs Pearson, it will be known, with all her merits,
had one fault-a rather serious fault in the eyes of
some of her subjects, but one which was more than
venial, if the opinion of others should be taken. She
was too fond of taking an exclusive interest in certain
boys, and treating them with more kindness than the
Some favoured two or three,
The little Crichtons of the hour
Her muffin-medals who devour,
And swill her prize-bohea."
What with tea and supper and macaroons, and
other miscellaneous refreshments partaken of at vari-
ous periods during the day, one might think Harry
had had enough to eat for that night. But he did not
seem to think so, for he arrived in the dormitory with
a goodly-sized cake in his hands, the sight of which
immediately caused him to be surrounded by an ad
miring and appreciative circle.
"Shall I lend you my knife ?" slid Prior, in a busi-
Harry accepted this offer, cut up the cake, and dis-
tributed the whole of it on the spot, giving the largest
THE FA VOURITE. 15
piece to young Davis, who was crying underneath
the blankets and thinking of his mamma, from
whom he had parted that day for the first time in his
So Harry's first day at school was a success, and he
was not less liked the more the boys saw of him.
Having been brought up among a family of brothers,
he had none of the self-will and pettishness which new
boys often find it so hard to get rid of, and his natural
high spirits and cheerfulness had full play from the
beginning. He soon got into the ways of his new
life, after making a few mistakes of a kind that ex-
cited some good-humoured amusement, and were long
remembered and repeated for the benefit of other new
.The first of these mistakes was when, on his first
morning at school, he heard the boys calling out their
places in the form, and thought they were telling
their ages, though he wondered if Prior was really
fourteen, and if Abbing, who called out "six," could
be younger than himself. So, when his turn came, he
jumped up and cried, "Eight and a quarter," and looked
very knowing, and then was a little disconcerted to
find that everybody was laughing at him.
"What a little stupid you were! exclaimed George
16 STORIES OF WIHITMINSTER.
when he heard of it; for George did not like any
member of the Kennedcy family being laughed at.
"Well, how was I to know?" protested Harry,
"Oh you ought to have known," said George,
with true schoolboy logic. "Next time, remember,
when they call your name, you have to give your
mark in the form; and when it's the first thing in the
morning, that's calling the roll, and you must sing
out 'Adsum.' Do you hear? And if any of the mas-
ters speaks to you, you must say 'sir,' and you must
touch your hat to them. This morning, when you
met Vialls, I saw you grinning at him like a young
baboon. You'll know what to do next time."
"I knew I ought to touch my hat, but I forgot,"
declared Harry, fixing this good advice in his mind.
Now that very day he found an opportunity of
putting it into practice, when he happened to come
upon Mr Vialls in the street. The master was talk-
ing to a gentleman, and had his back turned to Harry
as he passed, so he did not notice the ceremonious
salute which was made him. Harry didn't know
what to do then, but he decided on walking back and
repeating his obeisance, and finding it still unnoticed,
he walked round Mr Vialls, taking off his cap in front
THE FA VOURITE. 17
of him, to right and left of him, and finally, in despair,
going behind again and giving him a poke in the back.
"Eh! what's the matter ?" asked the master, turn-
ing abruptly round, and not looking very pleased at
this mode of greeting on the part of a small boy.
"I wanted to touch my hat to you," said Harry, at
length, performing the proper ceremony to his own
satisfaction, and then cheerfully running away, and
Leaving Mr Vialls lost in astonishment.
It was a long time before Harry heard the end of
these two stories, and there was another which stuck to
him still more closely. The master of his form-our
old friend Paddy Williamson-was putting the small
boys through their paces in reading and spelling, and
in due course asked Harry to spell "kangaroo."
Harry stopped fidgeting about on the form, bent all
his small mind to the task, and got through it suc-
cessfully; and then Mr Williamson asked him what
a kangaroo was. Though he had been such a short
time at school, he had imbibed a notion that it was
illegal to ask another question of a boy who had just
answered right, so he looked at the master as if in
doubt whether he was being spoken to.
"Come, Kennedy what is a kangaroo ?"
"MAe, sir? "said Harry.
18 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
"A very good answer," replied Mr Williamson,
and all the boys laughed; and from that day
frisky Harry Kennedy was known by no other name
than "The Kangaroo," in spite of strong opposition
on the part of George, who, in the end, found him-
self obliged to acquiesce in the title of "Kangaroo
Mr Williamson came to be just as fond of the
young kangaroo as anybody, though the favour of that
conscientious instructor was not very valuable, inas-
much as it was apt to show itself by extra attentions
in the way of detentions and canings. So some of
us used to think Mrs Pearson's patronage was better
worth having, for the youngster who was fortunate
enough to conciliate her esteem, came in for invita-
tions to tea and supper, and promiscuous benefactions
of cake, and all sorts of indulgences. Without being
less merry and playful, Harry very soon learned
not to be so free-and-easy in his dealings with per-
sons in authority, and advanced proportionably in
the good graces of our mistress. In the course of a
week or two, he was quite as much at home in her
parlour as he had ever been in the nursery; and as
by great good luck he didn't break anything, and
always treated Mrs Pearson with much natural
THE FA VOURITE.
politeness, she wrote to his mother, pronouncing
him to be the sweetest, dearest, best-behaved little
fellow. Harry, for his part, liked Mrs Pearson well
enough, though, to tell the truth, he would just as lief
have spent his evenings in the big cold schoolroom,
where the other small boys were romping about, as
in the cosy warm parlour, where, if you did get cake
and buttered toast, you had to sit very quiet, and not
speak too loud for fear of awakening the old Doctor.
And occasionally Harry had cause to wish that Mrs
Pearson would not distinguish him by her special
care; as, for instance, when he was sallying out with
some other boys, and the maid was sent after him to
say that the grass was too wet, and that he was to
come back and sit in the drawing-room with Mrs
Pearson. Then Harry felt rather annoyed, and some-
what inclined to kick the good lady's shins as she
took him on her lap, and wished with all his heart
that she wasn't so fond of him, and envied the Priors,
"those dreadful boys," who might go out in any
amount of rain or mud without her minding it. But
he soon got over his anger, and consoled himself by
playing with the monkey. For Mrs Pearson, in spite
of her dislike to "dreadful boys," actually kept a
monkey in a gilt cage, that generally stood in the
20 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
parlour. She would not have been well pleased if
she had known that the boys who were honoured by
invitations to visit her were generally more inter-
ested in the monkey than in its mistress, but such
was the truth. Lopez-that was his name-was a
spiteful, restless-looking little imp, whose tricks were
extremely amusing, and very mischievous too when-
ever he got a chance. Once a month or so he
succeeded in escaping from his cage, and the whole
household would turn out in pursuit, which, after
lasting for half-an-hour, to the great delight of the
small boys, would terminate in Lopez being brought
back, scratching and squealing, to the arms of his
mistress, who would scold and fondle him by turns,
and behave very oddly for a respectable old lady of
sixty, we thought. But I am growing ill-natured.
Peace be with thee, Mrs Pearson, and thy foibles!
And peace be with thee, Lopez Thy fate was a sad
one. A large pot of pea-soup-the custom always
of a Wednesday forenoon-was on the fire; Lopez
somehow or other got free; his curiosity carried him
too far, and-I shudder to tell the rest. Enough
that Lessing, our jester, was justified in saying that
his end waspeas. But it is not this tragic part that
Lopez has to play in the present story.
THE FA VOURITE.
Lopez was considered to exhibit a striking like-
ness to the youngest of the Priors, mentioned above,
and he was very like his elder brothers, so you will
have some idea of the characters who are next going
to be introduced to you. There were three Priors,
with about a year's difference in age between each
of them, and they were known as Pry, Prior, and
Primus. Mrs Pearson didn't approve of the Priors,
who were rough-and-tough little fellows, not great
cultivators of drawing-room graces, and for that
reason perhaps more fit to shine in schoolboy society.
Harry liked them very well, especially Pry and Prior,
who were his companions in the small-boys' dormitory,
or "cubs' den," at the bottom of the stairs, and had
won his hearty admiration by such feats of courage
and agility as are within the reach of a nine-year-old
Now Mrs Pearson, who kept away from the dormi-
tories as a rule, sometimes paid these small boys a
visit, to tuck up one of her favourites in bed, or
administer a potion, or see that all was going on
properly. And one night, hearing Harry cough, she
was so concerned for him, that she manufactured a
treacle posset, and took it to him when she thought
he should have got into bed. But when she opened
22 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
the door, she was horrified to find her invalid engaged
in a desperate pillow-fight with young Pry, while all
the other fellows stood round in a ring, and were so
engrossed in witnessing the combat, that they did
not notice her entrance. She stood there with a frown
on her brow, and the treacle posset in her hand, till
she beheld her friend Harry laid prostrate by a well-
directed blow from his antagonist, and Pry, flushed
with triumph, looked up to see her indignant eye, as
she rushed forward to interpose, and sent the little
crowd flying off to their beds with looks of consterna-
tion and a little shame-faced laughing.
Silence, boys!" said Mrs Pearson. Is this a way
for young gentlemen to behave in their bedroom ?"
The young gentlemen were all undressing so fast,
that they did not seem to care to answer the question,
and Mrs Pearson, with rising wrath, addressed herself
to young Prior.
Aren't you ashamed of bringing your rough, bully-
ing tricks here ? I wonder the others would stand by
and let you ill-treat a new boy so abominably."
Prior opened his mouth and said nothing. He was
a better hand at pillow-fighting than at arguing, and
for the moment he felt himself knocked over by this
undeserved accusation. And Mrs Pearson herself
THE FA VOURITE. 23
seemed to know that it wasn't exactly a case of bully-
ing, for she addressed Harry in no very pleased tone.
"Get up and go to bed at once. I had brought a
treacle posset for you, but it is quite cold now. If
your cold is worse to-morrow, you stupid little boy,
you will have yourself to thank for it. Go to bed all
of you," she said, severely, as she went out of the
room ; and then the sting of her speech came at the
tail: "I shall speak to Mr Vialls about this."
Even Harry, who had only been at school a fort-
night, knew what that meant, and all of them began
to speculate, with greater or lesser degrees of interest,
upon what would be done to them to-morrow. And
George and the eldest Prior, having heard Mrs Pear-
son's voice, stole in from their dormitory as soon as
she was at a safe distance, and wanted to know what
had happened. When George heard that Harry, at
all events, was in for a scrape, if not all the boyslin the
room, he seemed neither concerned nor displeased
that his younger brother was to suffer the common
lot of juvenile humanity, but in a business-like way
recommended him to rub a little onion-juice, if he
could get any, on the palms of his hands, and then
ran back to his own dormitory, upon a false alarm
that the enemy was at hand.
24 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
The "cubs" made all haste to be safe in bed, in
case of another visit from the authorities, and then
went on wondering what would happen to them, and
relating records and reminiscences of famous rows"
in days gone by, which these small boys thought
appropriate to the occasion of their getting into such
a serious scrape. The fate of Prior and Harry
Kennedy was regarded as certain, and the latter was
comforted by lively descriptions of the cane and its
infliction, and stories of great stoicism exhibited by
celebrated victims. He learned that it was no use
trying on any dodges with Vialls, and that if you
didn't submit quietly, you got it twice as bad in the
end. Then it was told how, in the olden days, when
there were giants among schoolboys, a certain fellow
had refused to be thrashed by Dr Pearson, and,
greatly daring, had snatched the cane from his very
hands, and had smitten him over the sacred pate;
apropos of which somebody mentioned, that big
Soanso, that stupid fellow with whiskers at the
bottom of the fourth form, had not hesitated to
declare that Vialls aren't touch him. Moreover, a
tradition was brought up that, among former genera-
tions of Whitminster boys, if a fellow had a flogging
and didn't sing out, the other fellows in his dormitory
THE FA VOURITE. 25
-in his form, held some authorities-were bound to
subscribe a penny apiece as a reward for his forti-
tude; so that a bad character and a thick skin must
have put some boys in a fair way of realising a for-
tune. Prior was of opinion that the custom was a
good one, and should be revived. Descending to less
legendary times, eye-witnessess narrated how Hen-
derson in the fifth form had stood a tremendous
licking of twelve cuts from Vialls, and how, when it
was over, he turned round and coolly asked if there
wasn't any more. Harry thought this was the height
of heroism, and hoped he should be handed down in
history for some such noble deed. So he strengthened
his heart, and resolved to play the man next morning,
and fell asleep without troubling himself too much by
visions of Mr Vialls.
Good-night, Harry and may the angels who give
sweet sleep and forgetfulness to naughty little school-
boys, watch over thy rest Would they might watch
over thee thus for a lifetime, and guard thee from all
fears and cares except those so easily forgotten, and
from all sins but those for which the penalty can be
so quickly and so bravely paid !
At this point in my story I fully expect that grown-
up readers will begin to yawn, but all small boys will
26 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
be very anxious to hear what happened to our friends
in the cubs' dormitory. Well, next morning they
were summoned into Mr Vialls' room after breakfast,
and Mr Vialls made them a speech about the naughti-
ness of not going to bed quietly, concluding thus-
"Mrs Pearson tells me, that last night two boys
were having a pillow-fight. I must teach them that
the rules are not to be broken with impunity. One
of these boys, I am sorry to say, always appears as a
ringleader in such scenes of disorder, and Mrs Pearson
has asked me to punish him severely. Prior!"
Master Prior stood forward and received his caning,
which he stood like a little man, not saying a single
word, to the great satisfaction and edification of the
rest of the dormitory, and also of Master Abbing, who
was very fond of being present at scenes of this kind,
except when he was called upon to play a too promi-
nent part in them, and on this occasion had managed
to introduce himself into the room, under pretence of
asking Mr Vialls what was the postage of a letter to
The punishment was over, Prior had put his hands
into his pocket, the spectators, relieved to find what
their sole part in the proceedings was to be, were
backing out of the door, and the master was locking
THE FA VOURITE. 27
up the cane, when Harry, staying behind the rest,
came up to him and said-
"Please, Mr Vialls, it was my fault too ; I was fight-
ing too with Pry-I mean, Prior."
"So I understood from Mrs Pearson," said Mr
Vialls. "But I hope that what you have seen will
be enough to make you behave better for the future.
As you are a new boy, Mrs Pearson has asked me
not to punish you this time."
So Harry followed the other boys, and wasn't
quite sure whether he felt more glad or sorry at
having got off so easily. Certainly what he had just
seen of the cane did not dispose him to wish for its
better acquaintance; but now he saw the fellows
gathering round Prior with the respect and admira-
tion shown by small boys for a companion who has
behaved well under such painful circumstances, and
Harry felt that he himself had not played such a
creditable part. As he was hanging back behind the
rest, George ran to meet him, and ask how he had
"Did you get it?" he inquired, with the anxiety
becoming an affectionate elder brother.
"No," said Harry, wishing now that he could have
28 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
"Why, you didn't sneak?" asked George, quite
"No; Mrs Pearson said I was to get off," replied
George didn't look pleased at this, and said,
"You were just as bad as the other fellow."
"I know I was," said Harry, meekly submitting to
his brother's reproaches.
But just then a diversion was made in the current
of George's dissatisfaction. The smallest Prior, at-
tended by his two brothers and a select circle of
his partisans, appeared flushed with the triumph, such
as it was, of having had a licking, and Master Primus
advised himself to exult over George Kennedy.
"So your brother is a favourite, is he ?"
"No, he isn't," said George, with great prompti-
"Looks very like it," said Prior. "Fine thing to
go sucking up to Mother P. and getting her to let
you off your lickings."
"He didn't, I tell you," roared George.
"I shouldn't like to be a favourite!" exclaimed
Pry; and then George fairly lost his temper at these
aspersions on the credit of the Kennedy family.
THE FA VOURITE.
"Will you shut up, or I'll give you something,
"Who'll touch my brother ?" demanded Primus.
"Well, then, why did he cheek me?" replied
George, growing hotter as he found he had to deal
with an adversary more worthy of his steel.
Poor Harry was quite ashamed of having caused
all this to-do, and couldn't bear to see George fight-
ing on his account, so he slipped away and made
off into the playground, feeling very unhappy
Wandering along, he came to a little gate opening
into the Pearsons' private garden. This was for-
bidden to most of the boys, but Harry, being a
favourite, had been told he might go there as often
as he pleased; so he turned into it, without thinking
where he was going, and ran right into the arms of
Mrs Pearson, who was there gathering apples, with
Lopez, the monkey, fastened to her parasol by a
When Harry saw her, he was for making off, but
Mrs Pearson called to him, and he had to go up
"I suppose you feel ashamed of yourself," she
began, rather stiffly; and then, seeing that he hung
his head, she spoke in a kinder tone. "Never mind,
30 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
Harry. I asked Mr Vialls not to punish you this
time, and you won't be a naughty boy again, I dare-
say. Sit down here and talk to me."
Harry sat down, but did not prove himself a very
pleasant companion. All his lively, laughing ways
were gone that morning, and Mrs Pearson settled in
her own mind that he was very sorry for having been
naughty, and tried to comfort him by giving him an
"Would you like to stay away from school this
morning and help me in the garden ?" she said, pat-
ting him on the head.
"Oh, no, ma'am," replied Harry, awkwardly. "Mr
Williamson would be angry."
"Not if I wrote him a note, little boy. But never
mind; I am glad to see that you wish to stick to
your lessons. Go off to school now, like a good boy;
and as it is a half-holiday this afternoon, you shall go
out with me, and have tea afterwards in the parlour."
Munching his apple, Harry returned to the play-
ground, and there the first thing he saw was George,
very red and hot, engaged in a most amicable game
of prisoner's base with the whole Prior family, and
about a dozen other boys. And as soon as Primus
saw Harry and the apple, he cried out-
THE FA VOURITE.
"Hallo! where did you get that? I suppose your
friend Mother P. has been giving it you for telling
tales of some of the other fellows."
"I never tell tales," says Harry, quite indignant;
but Primus had run off without hearing his dis-
claimer, and the poor little fellow went down to
school feeling as miserable as a healthy, honest boy
of eight can feel.
One blessing is, that a boy of eight can scarcely
feel miserable for long, and by dinner-time Harry
had half forgotten about what had happened in the
morning, and was as gay and cheery as ever. But
as he was running up to join in a game, it was re-
called to his mind by Pry, who hailed him with-
"Hallo! Here's the favourite! I say, I wonder
Mother P. lets you play, for fear of tumbling down
and cracking your pretty crown. She ought to send
the nurse with you whenever you go out, to see
that you don't dirty your dear little boots."
Young Prior was only joking, and, as too many
schoolboys do, not thinking of what he said; but Harry
took him quite seriously. He turned away, and went
all by himself into the schoolroom, and gave himself
up to gloomy meditations. It was hard to feel that
he was looked down upon by the other fellows as a
32 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
"favourite." He did not doubt that it was wrong to
be a favourite, but was it his fault ? He didn't want
to get off being licked; and as for Mrs Pearson's par-
lour, he would far rather be playing with the fellows
in the schoolroom, so his conscience was clear. But
they wouldn't believe him, and Mrs Pearson would
pet him and take him on her knee. How could he
help it ? The more he thought over his trouble, the
less he could see how to get over it. Even George,
though he had stood up for him against the Priors,
seemed to think that it wasn't right to be a
favourite. He wished he could ask Mrs Pearson-
no, that would never do. At length, as the only
thing which he thought likely to be of any service
to him, he resolved to write home and ask them to
send him a cake. What he had already seen of
school-life inclined him to think that this would be
the best way of inducing the other boys to pardon
his offence in being a favourite.
He had finished his letter, and was wondering if he
might again venture to join the game of his compan-
ions, who, for their part, were all the while wondering
why he was not with them ; but just as he had sealed
it, Mrs Pearson's maid appeared, and announced that
he had to be "made tidy to go out with her mistress.
THE FA VOURITE.
At half-past three in the afternoon, a good deal has
to be done to make a schoolboy tidy, but Harry sub-
mitted to his fate with resignation, comforting himself
by the thought that none of the fellows were there to
laugh at his clean collar, Sunday gloves, and other
due preparations for going into high society with Mrs
Mrs Pearson's society was not very entertaining
without the monkey, Harry thought, and of course
the monkey was left at home. For they took their
way through the most genteel and imposing streets
of Whitminster, Mrs Pearson walking very slow, and
Harry looking very demure, and feeling very ill at
ease. When they got into the High Street, among
the shop windows, that was better, but then Mrs
Pearson must needs go into a dark, narrow linen-
draper's shop, and Harry had to sit perched on a high
stool by her side while she looked over ever so many
things, and finally bought a parcel of silk, or calico, or
worsted-what did he know about these things ?-and
gave them to him to carry. It was a relief to get
into the open air again, but presently Mrs Pearson left
the High Street, and walked up a sort of terrace by
the river side, where there were twelve little houses
all looking equally like large bandboxes. At the last
34 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
of these bandboxes she rang the bell and inquired for
the Misses Somebody, and now Harry had again to
sit still for half an hour, this time in a drawing-room
pervaded by an overpowering sense of neatness and
propriety, while Mrs Pearson went through the cere-
mony of calling on the two Misses Somebody, who
were no doubt most excellent people in their own
way, but belonged to the class of old maids, between
whom and schoolboys there is seldom much sympathy.
As they entered the room, Mrs Pearson whispered to
him to behave himself, and Harry behaved himself
into a state of great discomfort. Of course he did
not touch anything, and he did not like to go to the
window to look out at the boats on the river, and
durst not put his feet on the carpet for fear of dirtying
it, and the elder Miss Somebody inquired if he liked
school, and he said "Yes, ma'am; and the younger
Miss Somebody asked him if he was a good boy, and,
for a change, he said No, ma'am ;" and then they said
nothing more to him, and he didn't know what to do,
and sat fidgeting on his chair and counting the flies
on the window, and wondered what fun it could be
for Mrs Pearson and these ladies to talk so much
about the weather; and he yawned and felt ashamed
of himself, for he knew it wasn't good manners;
THE FA VOURITE. 35
and next he knocked over a jar with his elbow, and
felt still more ashamed; and for the rest of the visit,
which seemed as if it were going to last for ever, he sat
stiff and straight, looking very red, and thinking of the
boys who were playing in the field, and wishing with
all his heart that Mrs Pearson would go home. And
merry little Harry began to feel as much like being
in the sulks as it was possible for him to feel, and it
did not raise his spirits even when the kind-hearted
Misses Somebody brought out wine and biscuits, which
was their only notion of entertaining schoolboys, and
not a bad notion either, many boys would have thought.
This visit, too, came to an end, but Harry's peace of
mind was not restored. For as soon as they got into
the street, Mrs Pearson would have it that he was
tired, and insisted upon his giving her the parcel and
taking her hand, and in this humiliating manner he
was led home. Mr Vialls and the cane were better
than this; and whom should he meet but Charley
Grey and Sydney Young and two or three other day-
boys who had been playing with the fellows at the
schoolhouse, and were going home, looking very dusty
and untidy and happy. As soon as he came in sight
ofthem,he tried to release his hand from Mrs Pearson's,
but she held him fast, and there was nothing for it but
36 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
to walk straight on with his eyes bent on the ground,
which, however, didn't prevent him from seeing the
grins and winks of his companions. Harry felt angry
enough to fight somebody.
At length they got to the schoolhouse, and there
were a lot of fellows at the windows of the boys' room,
laughing and pointing at him with their fingers.
Harry looked the other way, but he knew very well
that they were saying, "There goes the favourite!"
and he would have given anything to have been able
to make them believe that he did not wish to be a
favourite, but a jolly fellow like George or Prior.
Mrs Pearson took him through the private door
into her cosy parlour, and having made him sit down,
she first scolded the monkey for trying to get out of
his cage, and then, asked Harry whether he would
rather have damson or gooseberry jam for tea.
"None, thank you, ma'am," said Harry.
"What! aren't you hungry ?"
"No. May I go to the boys, please? I think
they want me."
"No, they don't, my dear, and you are too much of
a nice little fellow to be always with them. You shall
stay here all the evening-don't say no. I like hav-
ing you here, Harry, so long as you are a good little
THE FA VOURITE. 37
boy, and don't learn the rough ways of these Priors
and creatures. Are you going to be good ?"
"Yes, ma'am," mumbled Harry, not very enthu-
"That's right. Well, if you won't choose, it shall
be damson, and I'll go and get it now, if you don't
mind waiting, my dear ?"
And Mrs Pearson, much against his will, gave
Harry a kiss, and then left him alone in the parlour
while she went to fetch the jam.
Perhaps one ought not to have said that Harry was
left alone in the parlour. Dr Pearson and Lopez
were both there, but the tea-kettle singing on the hob
was a more lively companion than either of them, for
the old Doctor was fast asleep in his easy-chair, and
the monkey was lying huddled up in his cage so
quiet, that no one would have thought of noticing the
mischievous look that twinkled out of his half-open
eyes. Lopez was slyly watching Harry, and perhaps
wondering what he was thinking of, and Harry was
staring at the table laid out for tea, but not thinking
of jam, or toast, or muffins.
What was Harry thinking of? Well, I believe he
was thinking whether once in a way it might not be
right to be naughty. What a thought for a well-
38 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
brought-up boy, as all the Kennedys were! Harry
knew it was wrong to be naughty, but then he felt
that it was wrong to be a favourite; and he was a
favourite, because Mrs Pearson thought him so good,
and he wasn't really so good as she thought, and he
wanted to show her that he wasn't; and if he did some-
thing naughty, and made Mrs Pearson not favour
him, it wouldn't be doing any harm to anybody; and
George didn't like him to be a favourite, and surely
his mamma wouldn't; and he didn't want to be very
naughty, but only to be like the other boys ; an'd-
Harry got tired of his short flight in these regions of
moral philosophy, and gave it up.
Of one thing he was sure, that he wished he had
been caned like Prior, and could have gone to play
among the other fellows with a clear conscience, and
had not been asked to tea by Mrs Pearson. It was
nice to have jam-and-cake, and because it was nice,
surely it couldn't be wrong to wish not to have them.
The question began to get puzzling again, but Harry
held on to this: would it be wrong to do something
which would make Mrs Pearson angrywith him, and pre-
vent her from petting him, and bring the other fellows
to understand that he was not a favourite? The
other fellows would think that he was quite right,
THE FA VOURITE. 39
because they liked the Priors, and they didn't like
As soon as he thought of the other boys, he began
to try the question by the laws of the schoolroom
rather than of the nursery; and from wondering if it
would be right to do anything to gain the bad opin-
ion of Mrs Pearson, unconsciously passed to consider-
ing what he should do with this intent. Abbing had
told him to ask her where she bought her best wig,
but he durst not go so far, and indeed he was too
much of a little gentleman to be so rude. Then it
struck him that if he were to poke the fire and make
a mess all over the grate, Mrs Pearson would call
him a "tiresome boy, and resolve to have as little
to do with him as with the Priors. But he did not
like to move towards the fireplace for fear of awaken-
ing the old Doctor, the very look of whom inspired
Harry with awe. Mrs Pearson would be very angry
if he were to lie on the sofa in his dusty boots, but it
was so clean that he hadn't the heart to dirty it. He
might spill his tea on the tablecloth; he had once
before done so accidentally, and she threatened never
to invite him to tea again if he was so clumsy. The
very thing! But no; Harry felt that he would not
have courage to go through with any plan of the sort,
40 STORIES OF WHITJflNSTER.
unless he could get it over before she came back, and
he expected her every minute.
As he was reflecting thus, Lopez began to wake
up and jump about his cage, probably by way of
hinting that it was about tea-time; for this genteel
ape had bread-and-milk four times a day at his mis-
tress' table, and ate it with a spoon a great deal more
like a Christian than some of the other boarders who
didn't have tails. And then a sudden thought came
into Harry's mind.
"Why not let loose the monkey? Mrs Pearson
would be so angry, and there would be the fun of
catching it, and some of the other fellows would be
called in to help, and then she wouldn't take him on
her knee and kiss him as she did when they were
alone, and "-
His hand was within two feet of the cage; Lopez
looked so anxious to get free, and the door slipped
back with tempting easiness ; and somehow before he
had quite made up his mind, there was the monkey
jumping out and scrambling upon the table. The
smashing of two cups and the slop-basin brought
Harry at once to his senses.
Come back, Lopez," he called out, in consterna-
tion. "Don't go there, now. Do come back!
THE FA VOURITE.
Come along, old fellow !-tchick, tchick, tchick,
But Lopez was equally insensible to command,
entreaty, and coaxing. With two bounds he sprung
on the top of the bookcase, and jabbered out, as
plain as a monkey can-" Don't you wish you may
catch me !"
Harry wished he could, and wished with all his
heart he had never let the brute out. For now, as he
drew back, and pretended not to be on the alert,
Master Lopez comes swinging down from his fast-
ness and gets on the table again, and Harry's guilty
heart trembled for the tea-cups. But he durst not
interfere, and had to stand by in suspense, and watch
the proceedings of the monkey, who luckily seemed
inclined to behave with caution and propriety. Steer-
ing clear of the crockery, he reconnoitred the table,
and at length fixed his regards on the cream-jug, into
which he gravely dipped his tail and sucked the end
of it with great relish. When Harry saw him do this
several times, he couldn't help laughing, and that
alarmed Lopez, and sent him up the bookcase in half
a second. Presently, however, he ventured to return,
and devoted himself to the examination of a biscuit-
box. Off this he carefully took the lid, and seizing a
42 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
biscuit in each paw, skipped up to the mantelpiece
for more secure enjoyment of his prey. But just as
he was beginning to munch, he suddenly turned round
and caught sight of himself in the mirror, against
which his tail was pressing uncomfortably. The
effect was extremely ludicrous. He dropped the
biscuits, shrank back, sat with pricked-up ears and
open eyes for a moment, looked shyly round, turned
sharply away again, moved towards the strange appa-
rition, trembled, grinned, regarded himself with min-
gled doubt and delight, seemed uncertain whether
to be more afraid of or pleased with this wonderful
discovery. At length he became more assured, and
it was comical to see him touch the glass with his
paw and draw it quickly back, then rub his face, then
throw himself into the most ridiculous attitudes and
examine himself from various points of view, till,
forgetting all about the delicacies of the tea-table, he
was lost in the admiration of his own airs and graces,
as far as he had room to exhibit them on the narrow
ledge of the mantelpiece.
Now is my chance," thought Harry, and was creep-
ing up behind him. But Mr Monkey was not such a
fool as he looked. He saw Harry's hand just in time,
and was off with a bound. Down went a valuable
THE FA VOURITE. 43
vase falling into Dr Pearson's lap; flop came Lopez
on his bald head. "Oh, dear !" cried the Doctor,
waking up and ringing the bell. "Lopez !" shouted
Harry, making a frantic rush at him, but not in time
to prevent him from reaching the tea-table and making
a swift career of devastation through the cups and
saucers on his way to his bookcase fortress. Crash
went the lamp, and "What's the matter?" screamed
Mrs Pearson, entering at that moment with a pot of
jam in her hand, and getting just one glance at this
scene of confusion before it was plunged in darkness.
Something shot over Mrs Pearson's head, grazing
her cap. It was only the monkey, but in her alarm
she took it for something much more terrible, and
ran back into the passage, calling out for the servants,
who were already hurrying up, summoned by the
violent ringing of the parlour bell. They guessed
what was the matter when they saw Lopez frisking
about round their discomfited mistress, and when he
saw them, he made off down the long passage leading
to the boys' rooms.
Catch him catch him, Eliza 1" cried Mrs Pearson.
"Nobody knows what mischief he may have done
"Never mind, mum! He has gone among the young
44 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
gentlemen," said Eliza, as if to intimate that Lopez's
career of victory would now be cut short enough,
and Mrs Pearson understood that she was right,
and returned to the parlour to see what had
"What's the meaning of all this?" mumbled the
Doctor, in no very good humour. "This is what
comes of having boys about."
"It's only Lopez, my dear," said Mrs Pearson,
taking a survey of the room by the light of a candle.
"I declare he has broken a cup-two!-and spilt the
cream on the clean cloth-and the lamp !-dear me -
and my beautiful vase !"
"Oh, mum!" cried Eliza and the other servant in
Mrs Pearson's brow grew blacker as she discovered
each fresh disaster, and when her eye rested onr Harry,
who was cowering in a corner of the room, she saw
conscious guilt on his face, and burst out-
You naughty, bad, careless, ungrateful boy You
let him loose, and allowed him to do all this mischief.
I declare you shall pay for it all out of your own
pocket-money, every penny. Go away from my
room this very moment, you stupid fellow You are
not fit to be left alone anywhere but in a schoolroom
THE FA VOURITE. 45
or a stable. It will be a long while before I ask you
to my parlour again. Oh! you bad child !"
Long before Mrs Pearson was out of breath, Harry
had fled, and at the door of the schoolroom he met a
party of boys carrying Lopez in triumph.
How did he get loose ?"
"I let him out, and she says she won't ask me to
tea any more," said Harry, looking round quite
"What a stupid fellow you were to throw away
your chance was Prior's opinion; and this seemed
strange to Harry after what he had heard said about
But he was too excited to think about it. A dozen
times over he told the boys what he had done, and
mistook their expressions of wonder for admiration.
He romped and ran about in the highest spirits; he
was idle and troublesome at preparation, and got an
hour's detention from Mr Vialls. If it had been a
caning, I think he would have been rather pleased
than otherwise at such an opportunity of showing
that he was not a favourite.
The first thing that cast a damp upon his self-satis-
faction was George's reception of the great news.
George had been out at tea with Mr Williamson, and
46 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
when he came in and heard what his younger brother
had been about, he only said, "What a little stupid
you were!" Whereas Harry had expected to be
praised to the sky for his courage and proper school-
boyishness, if I may invent a name for a virtue which
has a real enough existence.
This first made him think that what he had done
was, after all, not such a very fine thing; and when he
was in bed, and was able to reflect over it more coolly,
he began to repent. It was naughty of him to let
loose the monkey, and break all these things, and
frighten Dr Pearson, and make Mrs Pearson angry,
and give so much trouble to everybody. He felt that
he had done wrong; and Harry, with all his mirth-
fulness, had been brought up to understand what
was meant by doing wrong.
But what was he to do now? Here Harry's con-
science did not urge him to do anything in particular.
He supposed that he would be punished, and that in
his eyes was confession, penance, and absolution. He
wished he had not let out the monkey, and he
hoped the consequences would come and be gone as
quickly and pleasantly as possible. What more prac-
tical penitence could you have in a boy of nine ?
But no one proposed to punish him. Mrs Pearson
THE FA VOURITE. 47
took no notice of him--that was all. Mr Vialls, the
dread minister of justice, said not a word about his
misconduct-at least, not till Friday evening, when he
was administering to his flock their customary pocket-
money in small doses, and stopped for a moment over
Harry Kennedy's threepence.
Mrs Pearson thought of stopping your pocket-
money this week, on account of your carelessness the
other evening; but though she is very much displeased
with you, she doesn't wish you to be punished, and
you can have your threepence as usual."
Harry walked away without saying anything; and a
few minutes afterwards, Mrs Pearson, who was sitting
with two or three friends at supper in her parlour, was
interrupted in a conversation about the character of
their respective maid-servants by two taps at the door,
the first one timidly low, the second, clumsily loud.
"'Min cried Mrs Pearson, who was so accustomed
to pronouncing this formula, that it had got contracted
in her mouth to a single syllable.
And in walks Harry, and goes up to his mistress,
and lays down before her his threepenny-piece, new,
"What's this for?"
The things Lopez broke," he came out with, in a
48 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
voice that seemed to show that he couldn't trust him-
self to say much.
"My dear child!" said Mrs Pearson, "I didn't
intend that you should pay for them. I know I was
vexed at the time, and no wonder; but, after all, it was
an accident, and the best thing to do is to say nothing
more about it. I am sure you didn't let the monkey
out on purpose, and next time you will be more careful.
Here !" and she held out to him, not his threepence,
but a sixpence which she had substituted for it.
But Harry shrunk back, and his face grew red, and
his eyes filled with tears, and he stammered out-
"But-I did-do it-on purpose. I'm very sorry.
I'll never do it again."
"What!" cried Mrs Pearson; but at this point
Harry ran out of the room, and left her lost in aston-
ishment mingled with disgust.
"Did you ever know such strange creatures as
boys !" she exclaimed to her friends. "This child
won't tell a lie, but he thinks nothing of letting the
monkey loose on my tea-table, just for the fun of
seeing it break my cups and saucers. And after all
my kindness to him, too Well, well! I thought he
was a nice little fellow, but I am afraid he is no
better than the rest of them, after all."
HE venerable Bishop of Oudenham is almost
universally admitted to be among the most
amiable and excellent of prelates, but there
was one passage of his long pnd useful life which gave
rise to feelings of extreme disgust and disapproval
among a certain section of the community, to wit, the
boys of Whitminster School. I refer to the occasion
on which his Lordship was requested to distribute the
prizes at the Midsummer breaking-up of this school:
many old Whitminster boys will remember the year
very well. The Bishop replied that he would be most
happy to preside, but that his engagements on the
day specified would not permit him to come sooner
than two o'clock; so, to suit his convenience, the
prize-giving was fixed to take place in the afternoon,
52 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
much to our discontent. I fear we did not sufficiently
appreciate the honour which his Lordship proposed to
confer on us; but we were fully sensible of the incon-
venience of impatiently waiting all the forenoon-when
our breakings-up had hitherto been wont to take
place-and then rushing off to catch the last trains
which could take us home, not in time for dinner at
our parents' houses, as greedy boys feelingly remarked.
And if most of the fellows had reason to be discon-
tented, two of us had to bemoan a still harder case.
These two were Phillips, commonly called Jemima
Anne, and myself, known as-well, my name can be
of no use to the reader, who can fill up the blank with
N. or M. as the case may be. I was going to stay
for a week at Phillips' home, and the trains had been
so stupidly arranged that it was impossible for us,
starting in the afternoon, to get there the same
evening. As neither of us had much prospect of a
prize, we had sounded the authorities about getting
away in the morning without waiting for the cere-
mony; but it wasn't to be heard of, and we found
ourselves condemned to stay at school till the next
day. Perhaps the Bishop was a boy himself once,
and knew what it was to be eager about going home.
If he could only have learned the disappointment that
he had unintentionally caused us, I am sure he would
have consented to come and give away the prizes at
six in the morning, rather than keep one boy, much
less two, at school an hour after they need be. But
either he had never been a boy, or he had forgotten
about it, or he was not informed of the unfortunate
position in which Phillips and I were placed; so we
had to resign ourselves to our fate, and the story that
I am going to tell came to be told. It is about a
burglar, and the reader may be surprised to find me
beginning with a bishop, but he must read on and see
how clever we authors are. And while I am talking
about bishops, let me mention that I have a book
which once belonged to a real, live bishop,-not the
Bishop of Oudenham, but a still more learned and
dignified one, who was educated at the same school
as myself. Never mind how it came into my posses-
sion; it is a tattered old Cornelius Nepos, that has
evidently suffered many things, and is sadly marked
with ink-stains and dog-ears. These may or may not
have been his Lordship's doing, but what nobody can
deny is that, scrawled on the fly-leaf in a handwriting
recognisable by all collectors of episcopal autographs,
may be read this line-" Three weeks to the holidays !
54 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
Well, the weeks, and the days, and the hours
passed over our heads more and more slowly, as we
wanted them to go faster and faster. Old Father
Time seems to take a pleasure in tormenting school-
boys, of whose youthful health and strength he is no
doubt envious. When the holidays have begun, he
smartens his pace, and his old legs step out with quite
a malicious liveliness; but when they are coming on,
he pretends to have grown stiff, and lumbers along
as lazily as if he were dragging six millions of years
at his heels. And the schoolboy, in return, does not
like the old gentleman, and resorts to all kinds of
devices to trick him. I speak things known. What
says the poet ?-
"The indented stick, that loses day by day
Notch after notch, till all are smoothed away,
Bears witness, long ere his dismission come,
With what intense desire he wants his home."
At the time I speak of, I considered myself too big
for the notched-stick business; but I was not above
having a calendar on the last leaf of my Latin Gram-
mar, where every day for a month I joyfully inarked
off a space. The last square in this calendar was
filled up, and the eventful morning had dawned bright
and balmy, and the forenoon had passed away some-
THE BURGLAR. 55
how or other, and here we were at length-closely
packed together in the great schoolroom and in our
best clothes, looking to the dais where sat our masters
and certain "potent, grave, and reverend seigniors" of
the neighbourhood, while a crowd of admiring friends
and relations filled every corner of the room, and
showed their interest in us by doing their best to
suffocate us. The repetitions had been gone through;
the prizes had been given away; we had made our-
selves hoarse with cheering. The Bishop had per-
formed his function well, and done much to reconcile
us with his late appearance. With each prize he had
said something appropriate and sensible; now and then
he had made a little joke, which of course produced
roars of laughter; for it is as surprising, and therefore
pleasing, to hear even a bad joke from a bishop, as it
is to see a horse ringing a bell or firing a pistol. We
were inclined to think most favourably of his Lordship,
so kind and genial did he show himself; but we were
not so well pleased when he began a long and earnest
and wise speech, complimenting the boys who had
got prizes, encouraging those who had not, and giving
good advice to all. It was a good speech, and we
ought to have listened, but I fear it was partly
thrown away upon us, for too many boys were
56 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
thinking of the railway time-tables, and there were
uneasy glances at watches, and the applause was not
so loud or hearty as before. At last came the Bishop's
peroration, which completely won the hearts of the
"I have many more things which I should like to
say to you, but a little bird has whispered to me that
you think I have said enough-(slight cheering and
feeble cries of "No, No ")-and I know that boys who
are going to start for home in half an hour make very
bad listeners. So I will only say one thing more, and
that is, I hope you will all be good boys, and enjoy
very happy holidays, till the 8th of August, when
-I grieve to say-my friend the head-master requires
your presence here once more to attack the old enemies
or friends, which, I suppose, will be shut up in these
desks till that sad day arrives."
Never did any burst of ancient or modern eloquence
call forth such enthusiasm. Never surely did the old
roof hear such cheers as rung out from our throats-
for the Bishop, for the masters, for the ladies, for the
holidays. Never did such happy boys stream out of
the dusty schoolroom and hurry off-home! What
a world of joy is in this little word, or once was!
Ah, me we cannot believe that such happiness still
exists upon earth; we look wistfully back to the
storehouse of boyish delights, of which it seems as if
the key had been lost because it is no longer in our
hands ; we forget to thank Heaven that little Dick and
Tom and Harry are now revelling in these same joys
that were so bounteously showered on the threshold
of our own lives.
And now all was bustle among the boys. Some
rushed off to their boarding-houses to complete their
preparations; others made straight for the station,
either to start at once, or to see some friend off. Every
omnibus in Whitminster was of course pressed into
our service that afternoon. One or two of our head
boys had cabs waiting for them at the school-gates,
and it was whispered among us admiring youngsters,
that these were to carry away the loads of prizes,
though they were already pretty well filled with boxes
and bags. Nearly all the fellows at our house had
their things wheeled down on a truck by Macduff,
the gardener, who on such an occasion was always
assisted by Uncle Ned. I should like to be able to
tell you all about Uncle Ned, and how he came to be
connected with the Grammar-school. But all I have
time to tell you is, that he was a negro-a runaway
slave, according to his own account-who had come
58 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
to Whitminster as a clergyman's servant, and since
his master's death had lived there on a small pension
and what he could pick up by odd jobs of fetching
and carrying. Uncle Ned, for reasons which I may
explain some day, took a very lively interest in us,
and never was there a breaking-up without his making
himself very busy in our service, and of course receiv-
ing enough coppers and sixpences to make him a rich
man for the next fortnight. So there he was at the
station, rushing about, dragging along boxes, howling
to the porters, shoving the boys into carriages, and
making himself so conspicuous that every one turned
to look at him. He was a queer figure, Uncle Ned,
at the best of times, and when he was worked up to
a state of excitement, as upon such occasions, his
black face seemed to glisten, and his eyes rolled comi-
cally enough to make a crow laugh, and his few scanty
wisps of stubbly hair stood up more obstinately than
ever. It was not only from age that Uncle Ned had
so little hair on the top of his head, where, we are
informed upon the authority of the poet, "the hair
ought to grow." It was a common joke among us
young rascals to ask him for a lock of his hair, and as
he always took this request seriously, and seemed
greatly flattered by it, I fear we were to blame for
the unfurnished state of his pate. He seldom wore
any covering on his head on week-days, and looked
very funny. But he looked still funnier on Sundays,
when he always mounted an enormous white hat and
a preternaturally long black coat, and went to church
with great pomp and solemnity.
It was fine to see him running by the side of the
train to the very end of the platform, grinning as only
a negro can grin, and waving his great black paw to
his special friends among the boys. But they were not
quite so friendly, for out through the window would
come a bright tin tube, and a volley of split peas would
rattle in the old fellow's face, making him utter a roar
and come to a halt. Then there would be a great
burst of laughter from the train, or another discharge
of peas, or perhaps the naughty boys would suddenly
be silent and shrink back in the carriage as they caught
the eye of Mr Vialls, or one of the other masters, fixed
upon them. Then, as likely as not, Ned would begin
to console himself by counting up the money he had
received; and Mr Vialls went up to him and said-
"Now, Edward, my good fellow, don't you go and
make a fool of yourself with that money."
"Oh no, massa!" exclaimed Ned; "I'm going to
put him all in de Savings Bank."
60 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
"I'm glad to hear it; because somebody has told
me that somebody else, when he gets a little money,
is rather too fond of putting it in the public-house."
Oh no, massa! that's not me," declared Ned, with
such an air of seriousness and dignity that Phillips
and I, who were close by, nearly burst out laughing
before the master's face.
I am glad to hear it," repeated Mr Vialls, in a not
very confident tone; and Ned tied all his money up
in a ragged red handkerchief, and announced loudly
that he was going off to the Savings Bank that very
His services were no longer required, for the last
train had gone away, and not a boy was left on the
platform, except Phillips and myself. As we strolled
away from the station arm-in-arm, we agreed that
after all our lot was not so hard. There was some-
thing novel and entertaining in the idea of hav-
ing all the house to ourselves, and being monarchs
for one night of whatever we might feel inclined to
survey. Then, school-time being over, we settled in
our own minds that the ordinary rules of discipline
should be suspended, and were minded to prove our
freedom by not going home to tea, and by scorning
the barbarous institution of lock-up. Moreover, we
had one source of comfort which Mr Vialls knew
not of, and it was well for us that he did not. Other
boys had vexed his soul by equipping themselves for
the journey home with pea-shooters and catapults,
according to immemorial custom; but, despising these
childish weapons, we-
What did we do? Why, we walked out of the
town and through the fields till we came to a secluded
spot. There we paused, consulted, looked round us
cautiously, peeped through the hedges, and finally
Phillips produced from his pocket a very small shin-
ing six-barrelled breach-loading revolver, and a box
of cartridges. After gazing on this with admiration
not unmingled with awe, we proceeded to load the
piece; that is, Phillips, holding it very gingerly, under-
took to put the cartridges in, while I looked on and
gave advice. As soon as the loading was accom-
plished, I suggested that it should be cocked. Cocked
it was accordingly, but not without risk, for, to Phillips'
alarm and horror, all the barrels suddenly went off
one after another, luckily without doing any harm.
This so alarmed us, that we hurriedly decamped as
soon as the pistol had stopped exploding, not be-
cause Phillips had taken away his finger from the
trigger but for another reason. Nor did we halt,
62 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
and again bring our artillery into action till we had
put at least three fields between ourselves and the
echoes of the first discharge. Then we loaded again,
this time with double caution and greater success,
and Phillips, as proprietor of the weapon, having put
aside a claim that it was my turn to fire, set about
selecting an aim. He was not long in perceiving a rook
leisurely feeding about fifty yards off, and proceeded
to open fire without delay. Whether the old rook
was deaf, or blind, or rash, or uncommonly shrewd, I
know not, but he calmly went on with his supper till
my companion had let off the whole six barrels at
him, and only then quietly flapped his wings and
proceeded upon his journey in a leisurely and genteel
manner, leaving us with a single caw of contempt.
This was rather a damper to Phillips, and he was
more willing to give me the pistol and let me have
my turn. I loaded and looked about me, feeling
determined to distinguish myself as a marksman, and
put "Jemima" to shame; but just as I had spied a
very respectable old blackbird taking the air in front
of his nest in an elm-tree, Phillips nudged my arm
Look out !"
There was Mr Bentley, one of our masters, walking
On the first day after our arrival, we should go to a cave about three miles from
his father's house. There we were to play at being smugglers.-SToRIES OF
WHITMINSTER, p. 63.
THE BURGLAR. 63
towards us from the other end of the field. I quickly
popped the pistol into my pocket, and we each as-
sumed an air of unconcern. When Mr Bentley came
up to us, he remarked that it was a fine evening, in
the most friendly manner in the world, but it appeared
to me as if he cast a very suspicious glance at my
jacket-pocket, and Phillips seemed to have similar
misgivings, for as soon as the master was out of sight,
he proposed that we should give up our sport for the
present. I agreed, and we took the cartridges out,
and then took our way to the schoolhouse, promising
ourselves lots of shooting when we arrived at Phillips'
place, where there were no masters and lots of room
by the seaside for any amount of ball practice, so
my friend gave me to understand. Phillips was of
an imaginative turn of mind, and he held forth with
great enthusiasm upon the adventures to which we
should treat ourselves. On the first day after our
arrival, we should go to a cave about three miles from
his father's house. There we were to play at being
smugglers. Phillips was to lie on his arms within, and
I was to keep watch outside, and in due time to give
notice of the approach of the coastguard-men, when
Phillips, as captain of the gang, was to sally forth and
commence firing, and a bloody combat with nobody
64 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
was to take place, and result in his complete discom-
fiture. Another day we were to go out in a boat and
try to get a shot at a gull, and to be chased by pirates
in the course of the voyage. These diversions were
to be varied by a grisly-bear-hunt among the sand-
hills, the part of grisly bear being, for this once only,
omitted through circumstances beyond our control.
Arranging our amusements thus, we reached the
schoolhouse, and found an unusual silence reigning
in what, for three months, had been a busy and
noisy hive of young bees or drones, improving or
enjoying the shining hour as the case might be.
Mrs Pearson, and Mr Vialls, the house-master, had
gone out to a party, we were told; but the matron
was in her room, quite worn out by her exertions in
packing and otherwise preparing for the holidays. If
we could have understood how weary good old Mother
Bramble felt, I don't think we should have bothered
her so much; but the fact was that we would give her
no peace till she promised to let us have roast potatoes
for supper. While these were preparing, we took a
stroll over the house, and rejoiced in the unwonted
sense of having it all to ourselves, without rulers or
rules to interfere with us. We wandered through the
dormitories, still in confusion after the packing, and
the desolate-looking schoolroom and dining-hall, that
always seemed cheerful enough when filled with young,
merry faces, and the lavatories and lobbies strewed
with old shoes, bits of rope, broken stumps, and other
signs that a juvenile army had just broken up its
encampment. We turned on the water at all the
taps, and turned out the boys' lockers to see if any-
body had left anything behind, and turned about in
search of any moderately mischievous occupation that
might come handy. We next went out into the play-
ground and took a kindly look of farewell at the old
fives-court and the gymnastic bars, and the quiet
little corners where fellows used to make bargains
and talk secrets. Finally, in our elated frame of
mind, we even dared to penetrate into the Chamber
of Horrors, the gloomy cavern of despair; I mean, we
stole on tiptoe into Mr Vialls' room, and, with respect-
ful eyes and cautious hands, rummaged about, and
tried on the master's gown, and looked for his cane,
only, of course, he had locked it up ; and enjoyed the
stolen pleasure of a near inspection of a place which,
in school-time, we too often had visited upon business
of such a nature as to interfere with our powers of
calm observation. Standing there, in the enemy's
stronghold as it were, under such new and unfamiliar
66 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
circumstances, we realized more vividly than before
that the holidays had indeed begun.
"Juvat ire et Dorica castra
Desertosque videre locos litusque relictum.
Classibus hic locus, hic acie certare solebant."
Even thus, with bated breath, we pointed out to
each other the fatal spot where you stood when you
had to get a thrashing, and the cupboard in whose
dark'and mysterious recesses dwelt the dread ministers
of justice, and the book in which your name went
down for detention or an imposition, and the window
which George Kennedy had cracked with a stone one
day, and Mr Vialls had never found it out yet. Such
is life i
When we had prowled about to our hearts' content,
we remembered the roast potatoes, and returned to
the matron's room to see that she fulfilled her pro-
mise. She kept it like a man, and we made a good
supper, and sat chatting in her room till past ten,
when she went to bed, and we condescended to think
we might do likewise without any discredit to our
We chose out two corner-beds in the largest dor-
mitory, and disposed ourselves to rest. But Phillips
must needs load his revolver and put it under his
pillow, for, as he informed me, his uncle in Ireland
never slept without a loaded pistol. This set him off
into a series of anecdotes and legends connected
with his family, from which I learned that Phillips'
ancestors were a singularly uncomfortable and un-
fortunate set of people, who were addicted to mur-
dering and being murdered, and appearing after
death in white sheets to all sorts of honest and
innocent people, and making strange vows and hear-
ing strange noises and doing strange actions. His
father's house, he gave me to understand, had in its
time been a perfect Castle of Otranto for mystery; but
it was comforting to learn that at present no ghosts
were kept on the premises; the last of them had dis-
appeared when a railway was made near the building.
Still I was rendered rather uneasy by this kind of talk,
and begged Phillips to remember that ghost stories
were only seasonable at Christmas-time. Then he
entered upon an interesting narrative concerning an
old servant of his grandfather's, who was killed by
robbers, and hidden away in a beer-barrel, where his
skeleton was unfortunately discovered some years
afterwards. To this style I also objected; so he said
he would tell a story of a more lively kind; and,
68 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
leaving the gloomy records of his family history,
began to give me a tale out of his own head, as he
wds pleased to call it. It was about a wicked old
uncle who wanted to seize the inheritance of two in-
nocent young nephews, and to that end secured the
services of two desperate characters with masks on
their faces and long swords by their sides, who led
the children into a deep wood, and were about to kill
them, when a brave and handsome knight made his
At this point I interrupted him, by suggesting
that I had heard something like this before; but
Phillips indignantly denied the charge of plagiarism,
and assured me that his story would end quite
differently from the Babes in the Wood." While we
were disputing this matter, our attention was attrac-
ted by a noise outside. We listened, and heard a
heavy footstep on the newly-laid gravel beneath our
"Who's that?" asked I, in surprise.
"I don't know, but we'll see," replied Phillips,
getting up and going to the window, which was
But we could see nothing, so dark was the night.
We could hear plainly enough, however, that there
THE BURGLAR. 69
was some one beneath, where no one had any business
to be, and both of us were a little startled.
"Who's there?" challenged Phillips.
There was no answer, but we heard sounds beneath
which showed us that our unexpected visitor was trying
to remove the bars of one of the ground-floor windows.
"I say! it's a robber," exclaimed Phillips, in a loud
whisper. "What shall we do? He's trying to get
into the house, and there's no one at home but Mrs
Bramble and the servants."
"Run and wake them up," I suggested, feeling
quite as much alarmed.
"All right-stop! it's no use. The door at the
bottom of the stairs is locked, and we should have to
howl for half-an-hour before any one would hear.
What shall we do? Oh, I say! he'll get inside in
another minute! He's filing at the bars!"
"No, he's not. He is trying the door now, I think."
"I say go away!" cried Phillips, loudly. I have
sent a messenger for four policemen, and they will be
here directly." Then dropping his voice, he again
whispered to me, "What shall we do ?"
"The pistol !"
"I forgot all about it. Here it is. Shall we- -will
you fire ?"
' 70 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
"No-you. Try to frighten him first, but look
By this time Phillips had begun to understand that
he was in possession of a splendid opportunity fbr
playing the hero, so advancing to the window, he
addressed our assailant with great firmness-
"You had better go away. Help is at hand, and
we have three loaded revolvers here. Leave the door
alone, villain !"
A strange sound, like a low chuckle, was heard in
answer to this address; then the robber seemed to be
moving about on the gravel, and suddenly a number
of small stones were thrown up at the window.
Thereupon Phillips drew the trigger, and the silence of
the night was stirred by a sharp report. He paused
for a minute, as if frightened by the sound, and then
fired again several times.
By the red flashes of the pistol we thought we saw.
the robber staggering about as if he was wounded;
but the fact is, we were both so excited, that I am
not sure if I know exactly what now took place. Of
course the alarm soon spread; we heard shouts and
footsteps from the road; a window was flung up
in the servants' part of the schoolhouse, and Mrs
Bramble's well-known voice was heard shouting forth,
THE BURGLAR. 71
"Thieves! murder! police!" and other sentiments
appropriate to the occasion.
"I believe he is down-no he isn't-I see him there
-there's two more of them behind the tree. Load
again-load it quick !" cried Phillips, handing me the
pistol with trembling hands.
I hastened to do as he told me, though in my
hurry and alarm I think I put in two or three of the
exploded cartridges, and all the while Phillips kept
crying out, Quick, quick!" as he eagerly peered out
into the darkness.
"They are coming again Give it me, whether all
the barrels are loaded or not;" and he snatched the
pistol from my hands and again fired it as often as it
would go off, with an accompaniment of redoubled
shrieks from the servants and Mrs Bramble. But in
vain; the robber or robbers seemed to advance with
undaunted courage, and we heard that a vigorous
effort was being made to burst in the door.
He'll get at us in a minute," cried Phillips, himself
essaying to load, but in his agitation first upsetting
the box of cartridges, and then letting the pistol drop
on the floor, where it went off, and the bullet whizzed
close to my naked leg. This was too much for me.
Exclaiming that the burglars had got into the house,
72 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
and were coming up the stairs, I was for bolting out
of the room ; but Phillips, pale and determined, stood
his ground like a man, and called out to me to stay,
for the police were coming.
Help was really at hand now. The voices and
footsteps came quite close, and we saw the welcome
flash of a bull's-eye, and took courage.
"This way!" shouted Phillips. "Don't let them
escape! Hold them tight! Down beneath the win-
dow here! You're just in time! Seize them!"
And each sentence of this address was punctuated
by a scream from Mrs Bramble, coming in at in-
"Shall we go down and help them?" proposed
Phillips, boldly putting on his trousers and shoes, and
I made haste to follow his example.
We ran down-stairs, and found that the key had
been left in the door of the boys' entrance, so in one
moment we were standing outside, where we found
quite a small crowd assembled. Some were running
about in search of the robbers, but the greater part,
with the policeman, were examining the doors and
"Have you caught them? Don't bring them up
here !" screamed Mrs Bramble, from above.
THE BURGLAR. 73
"All right, marm You've no call to be afraid,"
said the imperturbable policeman. "There's nothing
broken into here," he added to those around. "I
dare say all this row is about nothing."
"Indeed it is not," said Phillips, indignantly.
"They were trying to break open the door; I shot
one of them, and then the rest ran away."
"Oh! you've been dreaming, my lad," said the
Phillips turned away from him with dignified con-
tempt, and at that moment a cry was raised-
Here he is! Here's the body!" Every one ran
off to the spot, and sure enough there was the body of-
a man lying helplessly against the railings.
He is moaning !"
He is trying to speak!"
No, he isn't."
"Where's the wound ?"
"I can't see one."
"The bullet must have gone through his head !"
His face is blackened !"
"What a ruffian !"
Let us chase the others !"
S" How lucky we happened to come up !"
74 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
"This way, policeman!"
"Fetch a stretcher!"
Without paying much attention to the opinions and
suggestions which were showered upon him from
every side, the policeman elbowed his way through
the crowd, calling upon them to stand back, and
flashed his lantern upon the man's face. Phillips and
I, who had followed him closely, were horrified to re-
cognise the dark features of Uncle Ned, and began to
feel alarmed at what we had done.
"Oh, he's dead! "
"Dead !" said the policeman, scornfully. "Yes,
dead drunk, that's about it. Get up, my man, and
see if you can't walk as far as the station-house."
What's the meaning of all this ?" demanded a too-
well-known voice, and looking up, we saw Mr Vialls
standing beside us. He was in full evening-dress,
having just returned home. Our knees shook under
us, our tongues were glued in our mouths, and the
policeman began to explain, and-
Surely my readers don't want to hear any more!
I suppose I had better finish my story, and yet I
can scarcely bear to tell how we were laughed at
by everybody except Mr Vialls, who stormed dread-
fully and took away our precious pistol, and how Mrs
Bramble gave us a long lecture, and how we slunk off
home with shamed faces, and how the affair got into
the county paper, and how, in fact, we learned on all
sides that we had made fools of ourselves, though we
had nobody's blood on our consciences, for luckily not
a single shot had taken effect. We were glad the
boys had gone home, for we could not have faced
them after what had happened; but when the holi-
days were over, we had to go through it all, and never
heard the end of that story about our desperate en-
counter with a burglar.
It was a desperate encounter, if we are to believe
Phillips' account of it, which I read the other day in
a magazine, and which gives a much higher estimate
of the courage and coolness that we were called upon
to display on the occasion. But this account did not
appear for many years afterwards, and Phillips by
that time had, no doubt, fully persuaded himself of its
truth somehow or other, just as they say that George
the Fourth, towards the end of his life, brought him-
self to believe that he had actually been at the battle
of Waterloo. Phillips always had a strong imagina-
tion. So long as we were at school, however, we heard
nothing of his version of the story; and certainly
mine is the true one.
76 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
Good often comes out of evil, and it was so in this
case. When Uncle Ned grew sober, and learned
the risk he had run in his drunken fit, he was so much
impressed that he resolved never to let himself be in
such a condition again. He took the pledge at once,
and I believe he kept it so long as I remained at
TOM, DICK, AND HARRY.
TOM, DICK, AND HARRY.
SHERE is a lucky sort of people upon whom
some godmother Fortune seems to have be-
stowed a most valuable gift. While other
men possess talents, virtues, accomplishments, muscles,
good looks, good connections, good digestion, good
temper, and other earthly goods, these favoured
individuals are specially gifted with nothing more
nor less than a natural character for respectability.
They are not wiser or better than other men, often
worse and more foolish, but by dint of good broad-
cloth, spotless linen, clean-shaved faces, and a quiet
demeanour, they contrive to pass through life in such
wise as to be blamed by no man, and assume un-
questioned a clear right to look down upon unfortunate
outcasts, who are always getting into jail, or debt, or
80 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
other trouble, seem more acquainted with rags than
razors, and know nothing of fine linen, except now
and then by stealing it, but perhaps are no less worthy
than some of the wearers of purple. This is the case
in the great world, as has frequently been remarked
by moralists of more authority than the present
writer; and in the little world of school it is no other-
wise. There such stripes as may be going have a
knack of somehow falling often on the same shoulders;
while other reputations, more or less worthily, seem
to have the faculty of flourishing like a green bay-
tree. Tom gets the credit of being a good boy; Dick
and Harry get all the thrashing they deserve, and
nobody pities them; nor, in all cases, are they so
much to be pitied.
The Tom of my story was such a Tom as I speak
of. Not that he was called Tom, for nobody ever
thinks of calling such a boy Tom; but his Christian
name was certainly Thomas. In the registers of
Whitminster School he was set down as "Thomas
Bredgman." In the conversation of his schoolfellows
he was rather mentioned as "The Crocodile," or still
more commonly as "Crock." I don't know that the
crocodile's character for respectability stands any
higher in his own country than it does in tales and
TOM, DICK, AND HARR Y. 81
books ,of travel; but I am sure nobody could have
called Thomas Bredgman anything but an eminently
respectable boy. At first sight he struck you in this
light. He had a fat, placid, dutiful, meek look, that
could not fail to set any master's mind at rest. He
was never rash or defiant; he ran no risks of getting
into trouble; an extreme caution marked his dealings
in all matters that might be likely to lead him into
contact with the ruling powers. He did not do much
work, and he did not try to do much; but he said
that he did, and that answered just as well in the case
of a boy with such a reputation for propriety. Not
that Master Bredgman sought to be distinguished for
a high standard of virtue either among boys or masters.
Rather he strove not to be discovered in any offence,
and, like a juvenile Horace, counted himself happy if
he might pass quietly through the trials of school life
and escape unnoticed.
Dick was a very'different sort of boy; but before
I say what sort of boy he was, I must tell you why
he was called Dick, for he was called Dick. There
are two reasons for which one might expect to be
called Dick, and neither of these applied to the
present Richard. If there are a pair of brothers in a
small school, one or both of them may come to be
82 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
called by his Christian name; but our Dick, poor
fellow, had neither brother nor sister in the wide
world. Then, again, a boy who is a great favourite
among his companions, or a pet of his masters, may be
addressed in some such affectionate way; but I don't
know that this Dick was a favourite with any one,
certainly not with his masters. No; Dick was called
Dick because you couldn't call him anything else.
His surname was De Wilton, nothing less. Now, at
the high-flown name of Richard de Wilton, we picture
to ourselves a haughty, handsome,, noble-minded,
Grecian-nosed, aristocratic youth, with thin white
hands and smooth flaxen hair. But, in fact, this
boy was stumpy, scrubby, sallow, snub-nosed, sandy-
haired, with hands always spotted by ink, nails
always bit to the quick, trousers always splashed
to the knees, hair always in a mess, and a collar
almost always crushed. It was said that a clean
shirt was served out to De Wilton every Sunday
and Thursday, but most observers must have held
the existence of this garment to be as fabulous as
that of the phoenix. There also went a report that
on Sunday morning De Wilton's jacket was not
covered with dust, nor his boots with mud, but few
would have taken it upon them to affirm this fact
TOM, DICK, AND HARR Y.
with any confidence. His skin was one of those
which have the mysterious property of attracting
dirt from all quarters, and yet, as a sort of compensa-
tion, are never dirtier in appearance than when they
are clean. And if ever he did get a new suit of
clothes, I am sure he never felt happy till he had
torn or stained, or otherwise spoiled it for use by
any person except a Dick or a Diogenes.
Altogether, Master De Wilton was a very untidy,
unruly, unlucky boy, and was, therefore, naturally
called Dick. Neither gods, men, nor schoolmasters
are kind to Dicks as a rule; nor do they do justice
to themselves. They never get on so well as your
steady Roberts and your solid Johns and your sen-
sible Williams. They are a scatterbrained set. Dick
always comes in for a greater share of the kicks than
of the halfpence that may be going. Wherever there
are puddles or troubles, he stumbles into them. He
is caught in every scrape and in every shower. So it
is little wonder if, on their passage through life, these
Dicks can seldom manage to keep their coats clean
or their skins tender.
As example, let us take one of Dick's school-days,
and mark how he was wont to fare at the hands of
the'masters, and other powerful persons. He began
84 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
by being unlucky, for somebody had hid his stockings,
or, at least, he couldn't find them, and was late for
breakfast, and had a hundred lines for that. Then,
at prayers, Bredgman asked him a question, and he
answered, and the head-master saw him, and Dick
had a lecture before the whole school, and the Cate-
chism to write out by next Saturday. I need not
say that he broke down in his repetition, and had
twenty-two mistakes in his exercise, and was kept
in. Bredgmari had twenty-four mistakes, but he
wasn't kept in, as he protested he had been "doing
his best." This injustice moved Dick, when they got
out, to snatch off Bredgman's cap and kick it round
the playground, and where should he kick it but into
the face of Charteris, the great, the bewhiskered, the
collared, the tail-coated, the champion of the sixth
form, who immediately waxed wroth, and resented
this insult to his dignity by an unceremonious but
effectual thrashing. After that Dick made friends
again with the Crocodile, and they were walking
home together, and munching the pie of peace in com-
pany, when they were encountered by Mr Vialls, who
gave Dick an hour's detention for demeaning the
school by eating pastry in public. Bredgman had
been cunning enough to pop the evidence of his guilt
TOM, DICK, AND HARR Y.
under his jacket, and as Dick had paid for both tarts,
perhaps it was fair that he only should be punished.
After dinner he wrote an imposition, and had ten
minutes over in which to play ball in a place where
to play ball was forbidden. In these'ten minutes he
managed to break a window as well as a rule, and had
a "row" from Mrs Pearson, and a threat that his
pocket-money should be stopped. At afternoon
school he did not fail to get into more trouble. He
was caught prompting another boy, and caned. This
infliction settled him for a little, but soon he began
to pluck up spirit and to draw a caricature of Mr
Williamson on his slate, and of course Mr William-
son was looking over his shoulder. Here you would
think his troubles were finished for the day, but it
was not so. In the evening, at the schoolhouse, some
boys were impudent to the matron, and she reported
Dick as the worst of them to Mr Vialls, and he was
sent for to be caned again, and then it was discovered
that his hands were quite black, and that he had
been illegally forging in the coal-hole, and caught it
all the worse, as soon as he had removed from his poor
paws the slight protection afforded by a coating of
dirt. Then he went in to preparation, and sowed for
himself a crop of fresh troubles to come up next day.
86 STORIES OF WHITMINSTER.
For, instead of learning his own lessons, he either
essayed to help his neighbours with a sort of despon-
dent yet resigned air of sulky good-nature, which
only those who knew Dick can picture to themselves,
or, sadly and solemnly, as was his wont, he took his
pastime in throwing paper pellets across the room, and
more likely than not-for this also was his wont-
got caught, and was again consigned to the tender
mercies of the furies of schoolboy life.
But you are not to understand that he was as un-
happy as he was unfortunate. At the best of times he
seemed to wear a gloomy, care-worn look ; but at the
worst, I don't think that he was really very wretched,
though he was perhaps not so cheerful as a Dick ought
to be. Schoolboys have a great deal of a very useful
sort of philosophy, which enables them to get through
their troubles with less pain than might be supposed.
The boy, boyish and determined to enjoy his boyish-
ness, not the zeal of masters ordering hard things, not
the frown of the tyrant standing over him, can shake
from his healthy mind, neither the Rev. Smith, the
turbid ruler of the unquiet fourth form, nor even the
great hand of the head-master, wielding no brutum
fulmen. If, as we have been assured upon excellent
authority, the efforts of a whole legion of titled and
TOM, DICK, AND HARR Y.
talented philanthropists are unavailing to make one
shoeblack truly happy, it is no less a fact that to make
one Dick utterly miserable is beyond the compass of
human power, far as the ingenuity of the scholastic
world has gone towards it, with such instruments as
Latin Grammar and Greek Delectus. So this Dick
would dry his tears and exhibit his bruises, and hope
for the day when he should be a man, and should be
able to play ball from morning till night, and in the
meantime go off to amuse himself by getting into
some fresh scrape.
A very different day, you may be sure, had been
passed by his companion, Mr Bredgman. He also
began the morning by being late, but then he managed
to persuade the master that he had come down in
time, and had only gone back to get his pocket-hand-
kerchief. At school he looked proper and attentive;
indulging in no unseemly vagaries without making
quite sure that so to do was quite safe under the cir-
cumstances. He certainly broke down in his lessons,
and said he was very sorry, and would try not to do
it again, and looked like it; and offered with much
politeness to carry some books for the master, and
got the credit of being a dutiful, well-meaning fellow,
who gave little trouble. In the afternoon, he walked