The Baldwin Library
THE CROFTON BOYS
BY THE SAME AUTHOR
Uniform with this Volume.
THE PEASANT AND THE PRINCE.
FEATS ON THE FIORD.
THE SETTLERS AT HOME,
THE BILLOW AND THE ROCK.
Tue Crorron Boys.
â€œWho was it that pulled you? Was it 1
ASM MING ag
WITH FORTY ILLUSTRATIONS BY M FITZGERALD
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS, Limires
BROADWAY HOUSE, LUDGATE HILL
New York: E. P. DUTTON AND CO.
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL - : '
WHY MR. TOOKE CAME. 2 . '
MICHAELMAS DAY COME . .
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER Â°
CROFTON PLAY. Â° . Â°
FIRST RAMBLE . Â° Â°
WHAT IS ONLY TO BE HAD AT HOME
A LONG DAY . . 2 Â°
CROFTON QUIET . Â° * 3 3
. LITTLE VICTORIES . Set eerie
DOMESTIC MANNERS . . D Â° Â°
HOLT AND HIS DIGNITY 4 a â€˜
TRIPPING. . : 2 ' > e
HOLT AND HIS HELP ., ' > 2
CONCLUSION . ce 2 â€˜ > =
a i i nf
THE CROFTON BOYS.
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL.
M R. PROCTOR, the chemist and druggist, kept his
shop and lived in the Strand, London. His chil-
dren thought that there was never anything pleasanter than
the way they lived. Their house was warm in winter, and
such a little distance from the church, that they had no
difficulty in getting to church and back again, in the worst
weather, before their shoes were wet. They were also con-
veniently near to Covent Garden Market; so that, if any
friend dropped in to dinner unexpectedly, Jane and Agnes
could be off to the market, and buy a fowl, or some vege-
tables or fruit, and be bark again before they were missed.
It was not even to% far for little Harry to trot with one of his
sisters, early on a summerâ€™s morning, to spend his penny
(when he happened to have one) on a bunch â€œâ‚¬ flowers, to
2 THE CROFTON BOYS.
lay on papaâ€™s plate, to surprise him when he came in to
breakfast. Not much farther off was the Temple Garden,
where Mrs. Proctor took her children every fine summer
evening to walk and breathe the air from the river; and
when Mr. Proctor could find time to come to them for a turn
or two before the younger ones must go home to bed, it
seemcd to the whole party the happiest: and most beautiful
place in the whole worldâ€”except one. They had once been
to Broadstairs, when the children were in poor health after
the measles; and for ever after, when they thought of the
waves beating on the shore, and of the pleasures of growing
strong and well among the sea-breezes, they felt that there â€”
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL. 3
might be places more delightful than the Temple Garden ;
but they were still very proud and fond of the grass and
trees, and the gravel walks, and the view over the Thames,
and were pleased to show off the garden to all friends from
the country who came to visit them.
The greatest privilege ot all, however, was that they could
see the river without going out of their own house. There
were three back windows to the house, one above another ;
and from the two uppermost of these windows there was
what the children called a view of the Thames. There was
a gap of a few yards wide between two high brick houses,
and through this gap might be seen the broad river, with
vessels of every kind passing up or down. Outside the
4 THE CROFTON BOYS.
second window were some leads, affording space for three or
four chairs; and here it was that Jane and Agnes liked to
sit at work, on certain hours of fine days. There were times
when these leads were too hot, the heat of_the sun being
reflected from the surrounding brick walls ; but at an earlier
hour before the shadows were gone, and when the air blew
in from the river the place was cool, and the little girls de-
lighted to carry their stools to the leads, and do their sewing
there. There Philip would condescend to spend a part of
his motnings, in his Midsummer holidays, frightening his
sisters with climbing about in dangerous places, or amusing
them with stories of school pranks, or raising his younger
brother Hughâ€™s envy of the hoys who were so happy as to
be old enough to go to school at Mr. Tookeâ€™s, at Crofton.
â€˜The girls had no peace from their brothers climbing about
in dangerous places. Hugh was, if possible, worse than
Philip for this. He imitated all Philipâ€™s feats, and had some
of his own besides. In answer to Janeâ€™s lectures, and the
entreaties of Agnes, Hugh always declared that he had aright
to do such things, as he meant to be a soldier or a sailor;
and how should he be able to climb the mast of a ship, or
the walls of a city, if he did not begin to practise now?
Agnes was almost sorry they had been to Broadstairs, and
could see ships in the Thames, when she considered that, if
Hugh had not seen so much of the world, he might have
been satisfied to be apprenticed to his father, when old
enough, and to have lived at home happily with his family.
Jane advised Agnes not to argue with Hugh, and then, per-
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL, 5
haps, his wish to rove about the world might go off. She
had heard her father say that, when he was a boy, and used
to bring home news of victories, and help to put up candles
at the windows on illumination nights, he had a great fancy
for being a soldier; but that it was his fortune to see some
soldiers from Spain, and hear from them what war really was,
just when peace came, and when there was no more glory to
be got, so that he had happily settled down to be a London
shopkeeperâ€”a lot which he would not exchange with that
of any man living. Hugh was very like papa, Jane added;
" and the same change might take place in his mind, if he was
not made perverse by argument. So Agnes only sighed, and
bent her head closer over her work, as she heard Hugh talk
of the adventures he meant to have when he should be old
enough to get away from Old England.
There was one person that laughed at Hugh for this fancy
of hisâ€”Miss Harold, the daily governess, who came to keep
school for three hours every morning. When Hugh forgot
his lesson, and sat staring at the upper panes of the window,
in a reverie about his future travels ; or when he was found
to have been drawing a soldier on his slate instead of doing
his sum, Miss Harold reminded him what a pretty figure a
soldier would cut who knew no geography, or a sailor who
could not make his reckonings, for want of attending early
to his arithmetic. Hugh could not deny this; but he was
always wishing that school-hours were over, that he might
get under the great dining-table to read â€œ Robinson Crusoe,â€
or might play at shipwreck, under pretence of amusing little
6 THE CROFTON BOYS.
Harry. It did make him ashamed to see how his sisters got
on, from the mere pleasure of learning, and without any idea
of ever living anywhere but in London, while he, who seemed
to have so much more reason for wanting the very knowledge
that they were obtaining, could not settle his mind to his
lessons. Jane was beginning to read French books for her
amusement in leisure hours, and Agnes was often found to
have covered two slates with sums in Practice, just for
pleasure, while he could not master the very moderate lessons
Miss Harold set him. It is true, he was two years younger
than Agnes; but she had known more of everything that he
had learned, at seven years old, than he now did at eight,
Hugh began to feel very unhappy. He saw that Miss Harold
was dissatisfied, and was pretty sure that she had spoken to
his mother about him. He felt that his mother became more
strict in making him sit down beside her, in the afternoon,
to learn his lessons for the next day ; and he was pretty sure
that Agnes went out of the room because she could not help
crying when his sum was found to be all wrong, or when he
mistook his tenses, or when he said (as he did every day,
though regularly warned to mind what he was about) thai
four times seven is fifty-six.
Every day these things weighed more on Hughâ€™s spirits;
every day he felt more and more like a dunce; and when
Philip came home for the Midsummer holidays, and told al]
manner of stories about all sorts of boys at school, without
describing anything like Hughâ€™s troubles with Miss Harold,
Hugh was seized with a longing to go to Crofton at once,
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL. 7
as he was certainly too young to go at present into the way
of a shipwreck or a battle. The worst of it was, there was
no prospect of his going -yet to Crofton. In Mr. Tookeâ€™s
large school there was not one boy younger than ten; and
Philip believed that Mr. Tooke did not like to take little
HUGH LONGS FOR CROFTON.
boys. Hugh was aware that his father and mother meant to
send him to school with Philip by-and-bye; but the idea of
having to waitâ€”to do his lessons with Miss Harold every
day till he should be ten years old, made him roll himself
on the parlour carpet in despair.
Philip was between eleven and twelve. He was happy at
school; and he liked to talk all about it at home. â€˜Tnese
8 THE CROFTON BOYS.
holidays, Hugh made a better listener than even his sisters ;
and he was a more amusing oneâ€”he knew so little about
the country. He asked every question that could be
imagined about the playground at the Crofton school, and:
the boysâ€™ doings out of school; and then, when Philip
fancied he must know all about what was done, out came
some odd remark which showed what wrong notions he had
formed of a country life. Hugh had not learned half that
he wanted to know, and his little head was full of wonder
and mysterious notions, when the holidays came to an end,
and Philip had to go away. From that day Hugh was
heard to talk less of Spain, and the sea, and desert islands,
and more of the Crofton boys; and his play with little
Harry was all of being at school. At his lessons, meantime,
he did not improve at all.
One very warm day, at the end of August, five weeks
after Philip had returned to school, Miss Harold had stayed
full ten minutes after twelve oâ€™clock to hear Hugh say one
line of the multiplication-table over and over again, to cure
him of saying that four times seven is fifty-six; but all in
vain: and Mrs, Proctor had begged her not to spend any
more time to-day upon it.
Miss Harold went away, the girls took their sewing, and
sat down at their motherâ€™s work-table, while Hugh was
placed before her, with his hands behind his back, and
desired to look his mother full in the face, to begin again
with â€œfour times one is four,â€ and go through the line
taking care what he was about. He did so; but before he
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL 9
came to tour times seven, he sighed, fidgeted, looked up at
the corners of the room, off into the work-basket, out into
the street, and always, as if by a spell, finished with â€œfour
times seven is fifty-six.â€ Jane looked up amazed; Agnes
looked down ashamed ; his mother looked with severity in
his face. He began the line a fourth time, when, at the
third figure, he started as if he had been shot. It was only
a knock at the door that he had heardâ€”a treble knock,
which startled nobody else, though, from the parlour door
â€˜being open, it sounded pretty loud. ~~
Mrs. Proctor spread a handkerchief over the stockings in
her work-basket; Jane put back a stray curl which had
fallen over her face; Agnes lifted up her head with a sigh,
as if relieved that the multiplication-table must stop for this
time; and Hugh gazed into the passage through the open
door, when he heard a manâ€™s step there. The maid an-
anounced Mr. Tooke, of Crofton; and Mr. Tooke walked
Mrs. Proctor had actually to push Hugh to one sideâ€”so _
directly did he stand in the way between her and her visitor.
He stood, with his hands still behind his back, gazing up at
Mr. Tooke, with his face hotter than the multiplication-table
had ever made it, and his eyes staring quite as earnestly as
they had ever done to find Robinson Crusoeâ€™s island in the
â€œGo, child,â€ said Mrs. Proctor; but this was not enough.
Mr. Tooke himself had to pass him under his left arm before
he could shake hands with Mrs. Proctor. Hugh was now
Io THE CROFTON BOYS.
covered with shame at this hint that he was in the way ; but
yet he did not leave the room. He stole to the window, and
flung himself down on two chairs, as if looking into the street
from behind the blind; but he saw nothing that passed out
of doors, so eager was his hope of hearing something of the
Crofton boysâ€”their trap-ball, and their Saturday walk with
the usher. Not a word of this kind did he hear. As soon
as Mr. Tooke had agreed to stay to dinner, his sisters were
desired to carry their work elsewhereâ€”to the leads, if they
likedâ€”and he was told that he might go to play. He had
hoped he might be overlooked in the window, and unwillingly
did he put down first one leg and then the other from the
chairs, and saunter out of the room. He did not choose to
go near his sisters, to be told how stupidly he had stood in
the gentlemanâ€™s way ; so when he saw that they were placing
their stools on the leads, he went up into the attic, and then
down into the kitchen, to see where little Harry was, to play
at schoolboys in the back yard,
The maid Susan was not sorry that Harry was taken off
her hands, for she wished to rub up her spoons and fill her
castors afresh, for the sake of the visitor who had come in.
The thoughtful Jane soon came down with the keys to get
out a clean table-cloth, and order a dish of cutlets, in xddition
to the dinner, and consult with Susan about some dessert ;
so that as the little boys looked up from their play they saw
Agnes sitting alone at work upon the leads.
They had played some time, Hugh acting a naughty boy
who could not say his Latin lesson to the usher, and little
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL. 1
Harry punishing him with far more words than a real usher
uses on such an occasion, when they heard Agnes calling
them from above their heads. She was leaning over from
the leads, begging Hugh to come up to her that very moment.
Harry must be left below, as the leads were a forbidden
place for him. So Harry went to Jane, to see her dish up
greengage plums, which he must not touch; and Hugh ran
up the stairs. As he passed through the passage his mother
called him. Full of some kind of hope (he did not himself
know what), he entered the parlour, and saw Mr. Tookeâ€™s
eyes fixed on him. But his mother only wanted him to shut
the door as he passedâ€”that was all. It had stood open, as
it usually did on warm days. Could his mother wish it shut
on account of anything she was saying? It was possible.
â€œQh, Hugh !â€ exclaimed Agnes, as soon as he set foot on
the leads. â€˜What do you think ?â€”But is the parlour door
shut? Who shut it?â€
â€œMother bade me shut it as I passed.â€
â€œQh, dear!â€ said Agnes, in a tone of disappointment ;
â€œthen she did not mean us to hear what they were talking
â€œWhat was it? Anything about the Crofton boys? Any-
thing about Phil?â€
â€œT cannot tell you a word about it. Mamma did not know
I heard them. How plain one can hear what they say in that
parlour, Hugh, when the door is open! What do you think
I heard mamma tell Mrs. Bicknor, last week, when I was
jumping Harry off the third stair?â€
12 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œ Never mind that. Tell me what they are talking aboat
now. Do, Agnes.â€
Agnes shook her head.
â€œNow do, dear.â€
It was hard for Agnes to refuse Hugh anything, at any
time, more still when he called her â€œ dear,â€ which he seldom
did; and most of all when he put his arm round her neck,
as he did now. But she answered,
â€œJT should like to tell you every word, but I cannot now.
Mamma. has made you shut the door. She does not wish
you to hear it.â€ |
â€œMe! Then will you tell Jane?â€
â€œVes. I shall tell Jane, when we are with mamma. at
â€œThat is too bad!â€ exclaimed Hugh, flinging himself.
down on the leads so vehemently that his sister was afraid
he would roll over into the yard. â€˜What does Jane care
about Crofton and the boys to what I do?*
â€œThere is one boy there that Jane cares about more than
you do, or I, or anybody, except papa and mamma. Jane
loves Phil.â€ E
â€œOh, then, what they are saying in the parlour is about
â€œT did not say that.â€
â€œYou pretend you love me as Jane loves Phil! and now
you are going to tell her what you wonâ€™t tell me! Agnes, I
will tell you everything I know all my whole life, if you will
just whisper this now. Only just whisperâ€”or, I will tell you
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL. 13
what! Iwill guess and guess; and you can nod or shake
your head. That won't be telling.â€
â€œFor shame, Hugh! Phil would laugh at you for being
agirl, if you are so curious. What mamma told Mrs. Bicknor
was that Jane was her right hand. What do you think that
â€œ That Jane might give you a good slap when you are so
provoking,â€ said Hugh, rolling over and over, till his clothes
were covered with dust, and Agnes really thought once that
he was fairly going over the edge into the yard.
â€œThere is something that I can tell you, Hugh; some-
thing that I want to tell you, and nobody else,â€ said Agnes,
glad to see him stop rolling about, and raise himself on his
dusty elbow to look at her.
â€œWell, come, what is it?â€
â€œYou must promise beforehand not to be angry.â€
â€œ Angry! when am I angry, pray? Come, tell me.â€
â€œYou mustâ€”you really mustâ€”I have a particular reason
for saying soâ€”you must learn how much four times seven
is. Now, remember, you promised not to be angry.â€
Hugh carried off his anger by balancing himself on his
head, as if he meant to send his heels over, but that there
was no room. From upside down, his voice was heard
saying that he knew that as well as Agnes.
â€œWell, then, how much is it?â€
â€œTwenty-eight, to be sure. Who does not know that?â€
â€œThen pray do not call it fifty-six anv more. Miss
14 THE CROFION BOYS.
â€œâ€˜Thereâ€™s the thing,â€ said Hugh. â€œWhen Miss Harold
is here, I can think of nothing but fifty-six. It seems to
sound in my ears, as if somebody spoke it, â€˜four times seven
â€œYou will make me get it by heart too, if you say it so
often,â€ said Agnes. â€œYou had better say â€˜twenty-eightâ€™
over to yourself all day long. You may say it to me as
often as you like. I shall not get tired. Come, begin now
â€”â€˜four times seven ee
â€œTI have had enough of that for to-dayâ€”tiresome stuff!
Now I shall go and play with Harry again.â€
â€œ But waitâ€”just say that line once over, Hugh. I have
a reason for wishing it. I have, indeed.â€
â€˜Mother has been telling Mr. Tooke that I cannot say
my multiplication-table! Now, that is too bad!â€ exclaimed
Hugh. â€œAnd they will make me say it after dinner! What
â€œWhy, Hugh! you know mamma does not likeâ€”you
know mamma would notâ€”you know mamma never does
-anything unkind. You should not say such things, Hugh.â€
â€œ Ay, there! you cannot say that she has not told Mr.
Tooke that I say my tables wrong.â€
â€œWell, you know you always do say it wrong to her.â€
â€œJT will go somewhere. I will hide myself. I will run to
the market while the cloth is laying. I will get away, and
not come back till Mr. Tooke is gone. I will never say my
multiplication-table to him!â€
â€œNever?â€ said Agnes, with an odd smile and a sigh. â€œHow:
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL. 15
ever, do not talk of running away, or hiding yourself. You
will not have to say anything to Mr. Tooke to-day.â€
â€œHow do you know?â€
â€œT feel sure you will not. I do not believe Mr. Tooke will
talk to you, or to any of us. There you go! You will be
in the water-butt in a minute, if you tumble so.â€
â€œJ donâ€™t care if Lam. Mr. Tooke will not come there to
hear me say my tables. Let me go!â€ he cried, struggling,
for now Agnes had caught him by the ankle. - â€œIf I do
tumble in, the water is not up to my chin, and it will bea
cool hiding-place this hot day.â€
â€œBut there is Susan gone to lay the cloth, and you must
_ be brushed, for you are all over dust. Come up, and I will
Hugh was determined to havea little more dust first. He
rolled once more the whole length of the leads, turned over
Jane's stool, and upset her work-basket, so that her thimble
bounded off to a far corner, and the shirt-collar she was
stitching fell over into the water-butt.
â€œThere! what will Jane say?â€ cried Agnes, picking up
the basket, and peeping over into the small part of the top
of the water-butt which was not covered.
â€œThere never was anything like boys for mischief,â€ said
the maid Susan, who now appeared to pull Hugh in, and
make him neat. Susan always found time, between laying
the cloth and bringing up dinner, to smooth Hughâ€™s hair,
and give a particular lock a particular turn on his forehead
_ with a wet comb,
16 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œLet that alone,â€ said Hugh, as Agnes peeped into the
butt after the drowning collar. â€œI will have the top off this
afternoon, and it will make good fishing for Harry and
Agnes had to let the matter alone, for Hugh was so dusty
that she had to brush one side of him while Susan did the
other. Susan gave him some hard knocks while she assured
him that he was not going to have Harry up on the leads to
learn his tricks, or to be drowned. She hardly knew which
of the two would be the worst for Harry. It was lucky for
Hugh that Susan was wanted below directly, for she scolded
him the whole time she was parting and smoothing his hair.
When it was done, however, and the wet lock on his forehead
took the right turn at once, she gave him a kiss in the very Â©
middle of it, and said she knew he would be a good boy
before the gentleman from the country.
Hugh would not go in with Agnes, because he knew Mr.
_ Tooke would shake hands with her, and take notice of any
one who was with her. He waited in the passage till Susan
carried in the fish, when he entered behind her, and slipped
to the window till the party took their seats, when he hoped
Mr. Tooke would not observe who sat hetween Agnes and
his father. But the very first thing his father did was to pull
his head back by the hair behind, and ask him whether he
had persuaded Mr. Tooke to tell him all about the Crofton
Hugh did not wish to make any answer; but his father
said â€œEh?â€ and he thought he must speak; so he said that
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL. 17
Phil had told him all he wanted to know about the Crofton
â€œThen you can get Mr. Tooke to tell you about Phil, if
you want nothing else,â€ said Mr. Proctor.
Mr. Tooke nodded and smiled; but Hugh began to hand
plates with all his might, he was so afraid that the next
thing would be a question how much four times seven
The dinner went on, however, and the fish was eaten, and
the meat, and the pudding; and the dessert was on the table,
without any one having even alluded to the multiplication-
table. Before this time, Hugh had become quite at his ease,
and had looked at Mr. Tooke till he knew his face quite
Soon after dinner Mr. Proctor was called away on business;
and Hugh slipped into his fatherâ€™s arm-chair, and crossed
one leg over the other knee, as he leaned back at his leisure,
listening to Mr. Tookeâ€™s conversation with his mother about
the sort of education that he considered most fit for some
boys from India, who had only a certain time to devote to
school learning. In the course of this conversation some
curious things dropped about the curiosity of children from
India about some things very common hereâ€”their wonder
â€˜at snow and ice, their delight at being able to slide in the
winter, and their curiosity about the harvest and gleaning,
now approaching. Mr. Proctor came back just as Mr. Tooke
was telling of the annual holiday of the boys at harvest-time,
when they gleaned for the poor of the village. As Hugh
18 THE CROFTON BOYS.
had never seen a corn-field, he had no very clear idea of
harvest and gleaning; and he wanted to hear all he could.
When obliged to turn out of the arm-chair, he drew a stool
between his mother and Mr. Tooke, and presently he was
leaning on his arms on the table, with his face close to Mr.
Tookeâ€™s, as if swallowing the gentlemanâ€™s words as they fell.
This was inconvenient; and his mother made him draw back
his stool a good way. Though he could hear very well,
Hugh did not like this, and he slipped off his stool, and
came closer and closer.
â€œAnd. did you say,â€ asked Mr. Proctor, â€œthat your
youngest pupil is nine?â€
â€œJust nine ;â€”the age of my own boy. I could have
wished to have none under ten, for the reason you know of.
â€œT wish,â€ cried Hugh, thrusting himself in so that Mr
Tooke saw the boy had a mind to sit on his knee,â€”â€œ I wish
you would take boys at eight and a quarter.â€
â€œThat is your age,â€ said Mr. Tooke, smiling and making
room between his knees.
â€œ How did you know? Mother told you.â€
â€œNo; indeed she did not,â€”not exactly. My boy was
eight and a quarter not very long ago; and he-â€”â€”â€
â€œ Did he like being in your school?â€
â€œHe always seemed very happy there, though he was so
much the youngest. And they teased him sometimes for
being the youngest. Now you know, if you came, you would
be the youngest, and they might tease you for it.â€
ALL THE PROCTORS BUT PHIL, 19
â€œJ donâ€™t think I should mind that. What sort of teasing,
' â€œTrying whether he was afraid of things.â€
â€œWhat sort of things?â€
â€œBeing on the top of a wall, or up ina tree. And then
they sent him errands when he was tired, or when he wanted
to be doing something else. They tried too whether he
could bear some rough things without telling.â€
20 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œAnd did he?â€
â€œYes, generally. On the whole, very well. I see they
think him a brave boy now.â€
â€œT think I could. But do not you really take boys as
young as I am?â€
â€œSuch is really my rule.â€
It was very provoking, but Hugh was here called away to
fish up Janeâ€™s work out of the water-butt. As he had put it
in, he was the proper person to get it out. He thought he
should have liked the fun of it; but now he was in a great
hurry back, to hear Mr. Tooke talk. It really seemed as if
the shirt-collar was alive, it always slipped away so when he
thought he had it. Jane kept him to the job till he brought
up her work, dripping and soiled. By that time tea was
ready,â€”an early tea, because Mr. Tooke had to go away.
Whatever was said at tea was about politics, and about a
new black dye which some chemist had discovered; and
Mr. Tooke went away directly after.
He turned round full upon Hugh, just as he was going.
Hugh stepped back, for it flashed upon him that he was
now to be asked how much four times seven was. But Mr.
Tooke only shook hands with him, and bade him grow
older as fast as he could.
WHY MR. TOOKE CAME.
AFTER tea the young people had to learn their lessons for
the next day. They always tried to get these done, and the
books put away, before Mr. Proctor came in on his shop
: being shut, and the business of the day being finished. He
liked to find his children at liberty for a little play, or half an
hour of pleasant reading ; or, in the winter evenings, for a
dance to the music of his violin. Little Harry had been
known to be kept up far too late, that he might hear the
violin, and that his papa might enjoy the fun of seeing him
run about among the rest, putting them all out, and fancying
he was dancing. All believed there would be time for play
with papa to-night, tea had been so much earlier than usual.
But Agnes soon feared there would be no play for Hugh.
Though Jane pored over her German, twisting her forefinger
in the particular curl which she always twisted when she was
deep in her lessons; though Agnes: rocked herself on her
chair, as she always did when she was learning by heart; and
22 THE CROFTON BOYS.
though Mrs. Proctor kept Harry quiet at the other end of
the room with telling him long stories, in a very low voice,
about the elephant and Brighton pier, in the picture-book,
Hugh could not learn his capital cities. He even spoke out
twice, and stopped himself when he saw all the heads in the
room raised in surprise. Then he set himself to work again,
and he said â€œ Copenhagenâ€ so often over that he was not
likely to forget the word; but what country it belonged to he
could not fix in his mind, though Agnes wrote it down large
on the slate, in hopes that the sight of the letters would help
him toremember. Before he had got on to â€˜â€œâ€˜Constantinople,â€
the well-known sound was heard of the shop-boy taking the
shop-shutters out of their day-place, and Mr. Proctor would
certainly be coming presently. Jane closed her dictionary,
and shook back her curls from over her eyes; Mrs. Proctor
put down Harry from her lap, and let him call for papa as
loud as he would; and papa came bustling in, and gave
Harry a long toss, and several topplings over his shoulder,
and yet Hugh was not ready.
â€œCome, children,â€ said Mr. Proctor to Agnes and Hugh,
â€œwe have all done enough for to-day. Away with books
and slates !â€
â€œBut, papa,â€ said Agnes, â€œ Hugh has not quite done. If
he might have just five minutes more, Miss Harold â€
â€˜Never mind what Miss Harold says! That is, you girls
must; but between this and Michaelmas sy
He stopped short, and the girls saw that it was a sign
from their mother that made him do so. He immediately
WHY MR. TOOKE CAME, 23
proceeded to make so much noise with Harry, that Hugh
discovered nothing more than that he might put away his
books, and not mind Miss Harold this time. If she asked
him to-morrow why he had not got down to â€œConstantinople,â€
he could tell her exactly what his father had said. So, merry
was Hughâ€™s play this evening. He stood so perfectly upright
on his fatherâ€™s shoulders, that he could reach the top of his
grandmammaâ€™s picture, and show by his finger-ends how
thick the dust lay upon the frame; and neither he nor his
father minded being told that he was far too old for such
In the midst of the fun, Hugh had a misgiving, more than
once, of his mother having something severe to say to him
when she should come up to his room, to hear him say his
prayer, and to look back a little with him upon the events
of the day. Besides his consciousness that he had done
nothing well this day, there were grave looks from his mother
which made him think that she was not pleased with him.
When he was undressing, therefore, he listened with some
anxiety for her footsteps, and, when she appeared, he was
ready with his confession of idleness. She stopped him in
the beginning, saying that she had rather not hear any more
such confessions. She had listened to too many, and had
allowed him to spend in confessions some of the strength
which should have been applied to mending his faults. For
the present, while she was preparing a way to help him to
conquer his inattention, she advised him to say nothing to
her, or to any one else, on the subject; but this need not
24 THE CROFTON BOYS.
prevent him from praying to God to give him strength to
overcome his great fault.
â€œOh, mother, mother!â€ cried Hugh, in an agony, â€œyou
give me up! What shall I do if you will not help me any
His mother smiled, and told him he need not fear any
_ such thing. It would be very cruel to leave off providing
him with food and clothes, because it gave trouble to do so;
and it would be far more cruel to abandon him to his faults
for such a reason. She would never cease to help him till
they were cured ;. but, as all means yet tried had failed, she
must plan some others; and, meantime, she did not wish
him to become hardened to his faults by talking about them
every night when there was no amendment during the
Though she spoke very kindly, and kissed him before she
went away, Hugh felt that he was punished. He felt more
unhappy than if his mother had told him all she thought of
his idleness. Though his mother had told him to go to
sleep, and blessed him, he could not help crying a little, and
â€˜wishing that he was a Crofton boy. He supposed the
Crofton boys all got their lessons done somehow, as a matter
of course ; and then they could go to sleep without any un-
comfortable feelings, or any tears.
In the morning all these thoughts were gone. He had
something else to think about, for he had to play with
Harry and take care of him while Susan swept and dusted |
the parlour; and Harry was bent upon going into the shop,
WHY MR. TOOKE CAME. 25
a place where, according to the rule of the house, ne child
of the family was ever to set foot till it was old enough to be
trusted, nor to taste anything there, asked or unasked. There
were some poisonous things in the shop, and some few nice
syrups and gums; and no child could be safe and well there
who could not let alone whatever might be left on the
counter, or refuse any nice taste that a good-natured shop-
man might offer. Harry was as yet far too young; but as
often as the cook washed the floor-cloth in the passage, so
that the inner shop door had to be opened, Master Harry
was seized with an unconquerable desire to go and see the
blue and red glass bowls which he was permitted to admire
from the street as he went out and came in from his walks,
Mr. Proctor came down this morning as Hugh was catching
Harry in the passage. He snatched up his boys, packed
one under each arm, and ran with them into the yard, where
he rolled Harry up in a new mat which the cook was going
to lay at the house door.
There!â€ said he. â€œKeep him fast, Hugh, till the pas-
sage door is shut. What shall we do with the rogue when
you are at Crofton, I wonder?â€
â€œWhy, papa! he will be big enough to take care of himself
by that time.â€
â€œBless me! I forgot again,â€ exclaimed Mr. Proctor, as
he made haste away into the shop.
Before long, Harry was safe under the attraction of his
basin of bread and milk; and Hugh fell into a reverie at the
breakfast-table, keeping his spoon suspended in his hand as
26 THE CROFTON BOYS.
he looked up at the windows, without seeing anything. Jane
asked him twice to hand the butter before he heard.
â€˜He is thinking how much four times seven is,â€ observed
Mr. Proctor; and Hugh started at the words.
â€œT tell you what, Hugh,â€ continued his father; â€œif the
Crofton people do not teach you how much four times seven
is when you come within four weeks of next Christmas Day,
I shall give you up, and them too, for dunces all.â€
All the eyes round the table were fixed on Mr. Proctor in
â€œThere now!â€ said he, â€œI have let the cat out of the bag.
Look at Agnes!â€ and he pinched her crimson cheek.
Everybody then looked at Agnes, except Harry, who was
busy looking for the cat which papa said had come out of
mammaâ€™s work-bag. Agnes could not bear the gaze, and
burst into tears.
â€œ Agnes has taken more pains to keep the secret than her
papa,â€ said Mrs. Proctor. â€œThe secret is, that Hugh is
going to Crofton next month.â€
â€œ Am I ten, then?â€ asked Hugh in his hurry and surprise.
â€œScarcely, since you were only eight and a quarter yester-
day afternoon,â€ replied his father.
â€œT will tell you all about it by-and-bye, my dear,â€ said
his mother. Her glance towards Agnes made all the rest
understand that they had better speak of something else
now. So Mr. Proctor beckoned Harry to come and see
whether the cat had not got into the bag again, as she was
not to be seen anywhere else. It is true, the bag was not
WHY MR. TOOKE CAME. 27
much bigger than a catâ€™s head; but that did not matter to
Harry, who never cared for that sort of consideration, and
had been busy for half an hour, the day before, in trying to
put the key of the house door into the keyhole of the tea-
By the time Agnes had recovered herself, and the table
was cleared, Miss Harold had arrived. Hugh brought his
books with the rest, but, instead of opening them, rested his
elbow on the uppermost, and stared full at Miss Harold.
â€œWell, Hugh!â€ said she, smiling.
â€œT have not learned quite down to â€˜Constantinople,â€™â€
said he. â€˜Papa told me I need not, and not to mind you.â€
â€œWhy, Hugh ! hush!â€ cried Jane.
â€œHe did,â€”he said exactly that. But he meant, Miss
Harold, that I am to be a Crofton boy,â€”directly, next
â€œThen have we done with one another, Hugh?â€ asked
Miss Harold, gently. - â€œ Will you not learn any more from
â€œThat is for your choice, Miss Harold,â€ observed Mrs.
Proctor. â€˜Hugh has not deserved the pains you have
taken with him; and if you decline more trouble with him
now he is going into other hands, no one can wonder.â€
Miss Harold feared that he was but poorly prepared for
school, and was quite ready to help him if he would give his
mind to the effort. She thought that play, or reading books
that he liked, was less waste of time than his common way
of doing his lessons; but if he was disposed really to work,
28 THE CROFTON BOYS.
with the expectation of Crofton before him, she was ready to
do her best to prepare him for the real hard work he would
have to do there.
His mother proposed that he should have time to consider
whether he would have a monthâ€™s holiday or a monthâ€™s work
before leaving home. She had to go out this morning. He
might go with her, if he liked; and, as they returned, they
would sit down in the Temple Garden, and she would tell
him all about the plan.
Hugh liked this beginning of his new prospects. He ran
to be made neat-for his walk with his mother. He knew he
must have the wet curl on his forehead twice over to-day,
but he comforted himself with hoping that there would be
no time at Crofton for him to be kept standing to have his
hair done so particularly, and to be scolded all the while,
and then kissed, like a baby, at the end.
MICHAELMAS DAY COME.
Hues was about'to ask his mother again and again
during their walk why Mr. Tooke let him go to Crofton
before he was ten, but Mrs. Proctor was grave and silent;
and though she spoke kindly to him now and then, she did
not seem disposed to talk. At last they were in the Temple
Garden, and they sat down where there was no one to over-
hear them, and then Hugh looked up at his mother. She
saw and told him what it was that he wanted to ask.
â€œTt is on account of the little boys themselves,â€ said she,
â€œthat Mr. Tooke does not wish to have them very young,
now that there is no kind lady in the house who could be like
a mother to them.â€
â€œ But there is Mrs. Watson. Phil has told me a hundred
things about Mrs. Watson.â€
â€œMrs. Watson is the housekeeper. She is careful, I know
about the boysâ€™ health and comfort ; but she has no time to
attend to the younger ones, as Mrs. Tooke didâ€”hearing
30 THE CROFTON BOYS.
their little troubles, and being a friend to them like their
mothers at home.â€
â€œThere is Philâ€”â€”â€
â€œYes, you will have Phil to look to. But neither Phil nor
any else can save you from some troubles you are likely to
fave from being the youngest.â€ y
â€œSuch as Mr. Tooke told me his boy hadâ€”being put on
the top of a high wall, and plagued when he was tired, and
all that? I donâ€™t think I should much mind those things.â€
*So we hopeâ€”and so we believe. Your fault is not
Mrs, Proctor so seldom praised anybody that her words
of esteem went a great way. Hugh first looked up at her,
and then down on the grassâ€”his cheeks glowed so. She
â€œYou have faultsâ€”faults which give your father and me
great pain; and though you are not cowardly about being
hurt in your body, you sadly want courage of a better kindâ€”
courage to mend the weakness of your mind. You are so
young that we are sorry for you, and mean to send you where
the example of other boys may give you the resolution you
want so much.â€
â€œAll the boys learn their lessons at Crofton,â€ observed
â€œYes; but not by magic. They have to give their minds
to their work. You will find it painful and difficult to learn
this, after your idle habits at home. I give you warning that
you will find it much more difficult than you suppose; and
MICHAELMAS DAY COME, 31
I should not wonder if you wish yourself at home with Miss
Harold many times before Christmas.â€
Mrs. Proctor was not unkind in saying this. She saw that
IN THE TEMPLE GARDENS,
Hugh was so delighted about going that nothing would de-
press his spirits, and that the chief fear was his being dis-
appointed and unhappy when she should be far away. It
might then be some consolation to him to remember that
she was aware of what he would have to go through. He
32 : THE CROFTON BOYS.
now smiled, and said he did not think he should ever wish
to say his lessons to Miss Harold as long as he lived. Then
it quickly passed through his mind that, instead of the leads
and the little yard, there would be the playground; and
instead of the church bells, the rooks ; and instead of Susan
with her washing and combing, and scolding and kissing,
there would be plenty of boys to play with. As he thought
â€œof these things, he started up, and toppled head over heels
on the grass, and then was up by his motherâ€™s side again,
saying that he did not care about anything that was to
happen at Crofton ;â€”he was not afraid,â€”not even of the
usher, though Phil could not bear him.
â€œIf you can bring yourself to learn your lessons well,â€
said his mother, â€œâ€˜ you need not fear the usher. But remem-
ber, it depends upon that. You will do well enough in the
playground, I have no doubt.â€
After this, there was only to settle the time that was to
passâ€”the weeks, days, and hours before Michaelmas Day ;
and whether these weeks and days should be employed in
preparing for Crofton under Miss Harold, or whether he
should take his chance there unprepared as he was. Mrs.
Proctor saw that his habits of inattention were so fixed, and
his disgust at lessons in the parlour so strong, that she
encouraged his doing no lessons in the interval. Hugh
would have said beforehand that three weeksâ€™ liberty to
read voyages and travels, and play with Harry, would have
made him perfectly happy; but he felt that there was some
disgrace mixed up with his holiday, and that everybody
MICHAELMAS DAY COME, 33
would look upon him with a sort of pity, instead of wishing
him joy; and this spoiled his pleasure a good deal. When
he came home from his walk, Agnes thought he looked less
happy than when he went out, and she feared his spe
were down about Crofton.
His spirits were up and down many times fauene the next
three weeks. He thought these weeks would never be over.
Every day dragged on more slowly than the last; at every
meal he was less inclined to eat, and his happiest time was
when going to bed, because he was a day nearer Crofton.
His mother, foreseeing just what happened, wished to have
kept the news from him till within a week of his departure,.
and had agreed with Mr. Proctor that it should be so.. But
Mr. Proctor hated secrets, and, as we see, let it out imme-
At last the day came ;â€”a warm, sunny autumn ay. on
which any one might have enjoyed the prospect of a drive
into the country. The coach was to set off from an inn in
Fleet Street at noon, and would set Hugh down at his
uncleâ€™s door in time for dinner, the distance being twenty-
eight miles, His uncleâ€™s house was just two miles from the
school. Phil would probably be there to meet his brother,
and take him to Crofton in the afternoon.
How to get rid of the hours till noon was the question.
Hugh had had everything packed up, ovÃ©r which he had
any control, for some days. He had not left himself a
plaything of those which he might carry; and it frightened
him that his mother did not seem to think of packing his:
34 THE CROFTON BOYS.
clothes till after breakfast this very morning. When she
entered his room for the purpose, he was fidgeting about,
saying to himself that he should never be ready. Agnes
came with her mother, to help ; but before the second shirt
was laid in the box, she was in tears, and had to go away ;
for every one in the house was in the habit of hiding tears
from Mrs. Proctor, who rarely shed them herself, and was
known to think that they might generally be suppressed,
and should be so.
As Hugh stood beside her, handing stockings and hand-
kerchiefs to fill. up the corners of the box, she spoke as she
might not have done if they had not been alone. She said
but a few words; but Hugh never forgot them.
â€œYou know, my dear,â€ said she, â€œthat I do not approve
of dwelling upon troubles. You know I never encourage
ay children to fret about what cannot be helped.â€
There was nothing in the world that Hugh was more
certain of than this.
â€œ And yet I tell you,â€ she continued, â€œthat you will not
be nearly so happy at Crofton as you expectâ€”at least, at
first. It grieves me to see you so full of expectationâ€
â€œ Does it indeed, mother?â€
â€œTt does indeed. But my comfort is â€
â€œYou think I can bear it,â€ cried Hugh, holding up his
head. â€œYou think I can bear anything.â€
â€œT think you are a brave boy, on the whole. But that is
not the comfort I was speaking of, for there is.a world of
troubles too heavy for the bravery of a thoughtless child like
MICHAELMAS DAY COME. 35
you. My comfort is, my dear, that you know where to go
for strength when your heart fails you. You will be away
from your father and me; but a far wiser and kinder Parent
will be always with you. If I were not sure that you would
continually open your heart to Him, I could not let you go
â€œT willâ€”I always do,â€ said Hugh, in a low voice.
â€œThen remember this, my boy. If you have that help,
you must not fail. Knowing that you have that help, I
expect of you that you do your own duty, and bear your
own troubles like aman. If you were to be all alone in the
new world you are going to, you would be but a helpless
child; but remember, when a child makes God his friend,
God puts into the youngest and weakest the spirit of a man.â€
â€œYou will ask Him too, mother; you will pray Him to
make me brave, andâ€”and
â€œ And what else?â€ she inquired, fixing her eyes upon him.
â€œ And steady,â€ replied Hugh, casting down his eyes ; â€œfor
that is what I want most of all.â€
â€œTt is,â€ replied his mother. â€˜I do, and always will, pray
Not another word was said till they went down into the
parlour. Though it was only eleven oâ€™clock, Miss Harold
was putting on her bonnet to go away; and there was a
plate of bread and cheese on the table.
_â€œLunch!â€ said Hugh, turning away with disgust.
â€œDo eat it,â€ said Agnes, who had brought it. â€œ You had
_no breakfast, you know,â€
30 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œBecause I did not want it; and I canâ€™t eat anything now.â€
Jane made a sign to Agnes to take the plate out of sight;
and she put some biscuits into a paper bag, that he might
eat on the road, if he should become hungry.
Neither Miss Harold nor Hugh could possibly feel any
grief at parting, for they had had little satisfaction together ;
but she said very kindly that she should hope to hear often
of him, and wished he might be happy as a Crofton boy.
Hugh could hardly answer her ;â€”-so amazed was he to find
that his sisters were giving up an hour of their lessons on his
account,â€”that they might go with him to the coach !â€”And
then Susan came in about the cord for his box, and her eyes
were red;â€”and, at the sight of her, Agnes began to cry
again ; and Jane bent down her head over the glove she was
mending for him, and her needle stopped.
â€œJane,â€ said her mother gravely, â€œâ€˜if you are not mending
that glove, give it to me. It is getting late.â€
Jane brushed her hand across her eyes, and stitched away
again. Then she threw the gloves to Hugh without looking
at him, and ran to get ready to go to the coach.
The bustle of the inn-yard would not do for little Harry.
He could not go. Hugh was extremely surprised to find
that all the rest were going,â€”that even his father was smooth-
ing his hat in the passage for the walk,â€”really leaving the
shop at noon on his account! The porter was at his service
too,â€”waiting for his box! It was very odd to feel of such
Hugh ran down to bid the maids good bye. The coox
MICHAELMAS DAY COME, 37
had cut a sandwich, which she thrust into his pocket, though
he told her he had some biscuits. Susan cried so that little
Harry stood grave and wondering. Susan sobbed out that _
she knew he did not care a bit about leaving home and
everybody. Hugh wished she would not say so, though he
felt it was true, and wondered at it himself. Mr. Proctor
heard. Susanâ€™s lamentations, and called to her from the pas-
sage above not to make herself unhappy about that, for the
time would soon come when Hugh would be home-sick
Mr. Blake, the shopman, came to the shop-door as they
passed, and bowed and smiled; and the boy put himself in
the way, with a broad grin; and then the party walked on
The sun seemed to Hugh to glare very much, and he
thought he had never known the streets so noisy, or the
people so pushing. The truth was, his heart was beating so
he could scarcely see; and yet he was so busy looking about
him for a sight of the river, and everything he wished to bid
good. bye to, that his father, who held him fast by the hand,
shook him more than once, and told him he would run
everybody down if he could,â€”to judge by his way of walk-
ing. He must learn to march better, if he was to be a sol-
dier; and to steer, if he was to be a sailor.
_.There were just two minutes to spare when they reached
the inn-yard. The horses were pawing and fidgeting, and
some of the passengers had mounted ; so Mr. Proctor said
he would seat the boy at once. He spoke to two men who
38 THE CROFTON BOYS,
were on the roof, just behind the coachman; and they
agreed to let Hugh sit between them, on the assurance that
the driver would iook to his concerns, and see that he was
set down at the right place.
â€œNow, my boy, up with you!â€ said his: father, as he
tnrned from speaking to these men. Hugh was so eager,
that he put up his foot to mount, without remembering to
bid his mother and sisters good bye. Mr. Proctor laughed â€”
at this; and nobody wondered ; but Agnes cried bitterly;
and she could not forget it, from that time till she saw her
brother again. . When they had all kissed him, and _ his
motherâ€™s earnest look had bidden him remember what had
passed between them that morning, he was lifted up by his
father, and received by the two men, between whom he
found a safe seat.
Then he wished they were off. It was uncomfortable to
see his sisters crying there, and not to be able to cry too, or
to speak to them. When the coachman was drawing on his
second glove, and the ostlers held each a hand to pull off
the horse-cloths, and the last moment was come, Mr.
Proctor swung himself up by the step, to say one thing
more. It wasâ€”
â€œTI say, Hugh,â€”can you tell me,â€”how much is four
Mrs. Proctor pulled her husbandâ€™s coat-tail, and he leaped
down, the horsesâ€™ feet scrambled, their heads issued from
the gateway of the inn-yard, and Hugh's family were left
MICHAELMAS DAY COME. 39.
In the midst of the noise, the man on Hughâ€™s right hand
said to the one on his left,
â€œ There is some joke in that last remark, I imagine.â€
The other man nodded; and then there was no more
speaking till they were off the stones, When the clatter
was over, and the coach began to roll along the smooth
road, Hughâ€™s neighbour repeated,
â€œThere was some joke, I fancy, in that last remark of
â€œVes,â€ said Hugh.
Are you in the habit of saying the multiplication-table
when you travel?â€ said the other. â€œIf so, we shall be
happy to hear it.â€
â€œExceedingly happy,â€ observed the first.
â€œT never say it when I can help it,â€ said Hugh; â€œand I
see no occasion now.â€
The men laughed, and then asked him if he was going
â€œTo Crofton. I am going to be a Crofton boy,â€ said
â€œ A what? Where is he going?â€ his companions asked
one another over his head. They were no wiser when
Hugh repeated what he had said, nor could the coachman
enlighten them. He only knew that he was to put the boy
down at Shawâ€™s, the great millerâ€™s, near ey miles along
â€œ Eight-and-twenty,â€ said Hugh, in correction; â€œand
Crofton is two miles from my uncleâ€™s,â€
4o ' THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œight-and-twenty. The fatherâ€™s joke lies there,â€ observed
the right-hand man.
â€œNo, it does not,â€ said Hugh. He thought he was among
a set of vÃ©ry odd people,â€”none of them knowing what a
Crofton boy was. A passenger who sat beside the coachman
only smiled when he was appealed to; so it might be con-
cluded that he was ignorant too; and the right and left-hand
men seemed so anxious for information, that Hugh told
them all he knew ;â€”about the orchard and the avenue, and
the pond on the heath, and the playground; and Mrs.
Watson, and the usher, and Phil, and Joe Cape, and Tony
Nelson, and several others of the boys.
One of the men asked him if he was sure he was going for
the first time,â€”he seemed so thoroughly informed of every-
thing about Crofton. Hugh replied that it was a good thing
to have an elder brother like Phil. Phil had told him just
what to take to Crofton, and how to take care of his money,
â€œAy! and how do the Crofton boys take care of their
_ Hugh showed a curious little inner pocket in his ReKes
which nobody would dream of that did not know. His
mother had let him have such a pocket in both his jackets ;
and he had wanted to have all his money in this one now, to
show how safely he could carry it. But his mother had
chosen to pack up all his five shillings in his box,â€”that
square box, with the new brass lock, on the top of all the
luggage. In this pocket there was only sixpence now,â€”the
MICHAELMAS DAY COME. 41
sixpence he. was to give the coachman when he was set
Then he went on to explain that this sixpence was not out
of his own money, but given him by his father, expressly for
the coachman. Then his right-hand companion congratu-
lated him upon his spirits, and began to punch and tickle
him; and when Hugh writhed himself about, because he
could not bear tickling, the coachman said he would have
no such doings, and bade them be quiet. Then the pas-
sengers seemed to forget Hugh, and talked to one another
of the harvest in the north, and the hopping in Kent. Hugh
Jistened about the hopping, supposing it might be some new
game, as good as leap-frog; though it seemed strange that
one farmer should begin hopping on Monday, and that
another should fix Thursday, and that both should be so
extremely anxious about the weather. But when he found
it was some sort of harvest-work, he left off listening, and
gave all his attention to the country sights that were about
him. ay ee : eS
He did not grow tired of the gardens, gay with dahlias
and hollyhocks and asters; nor of the orchards, where the
ladder against the tree, and the basket under, showed that
apple-gathering was going on; nor of the nooks in the fields,
where blackberries were ripening ; nor of the chequered sun-
light and shadow which lay upon the road; nor of the
breezy heath where the blue ponds were ruffled ; nor of the
pleasant grove where the leaves were beginning to show a
tinge of yellow and red, here and there among the green.
42 THE CROFTON BOYS.
Silently he enjoyed all these things, only awakening from
them when there was a stop to change horses.
He was not thinking of time or distance when he saw the
coachman glance round at him, and felt that the speed of
the horses was slackening. Still he had no idea that this
was any concern of his, till he saw something that made
â€œWhy, thereâ€™s Phil,â€ he exclaimed, jumping to his feet.
â€œThis is Shawâ€™s mill, and there is Shaw; which is all I
have to do with,â€ said the coachman, as he pulled up.
Hugh was soon down, with his uncle and Phil, and one
of the men from the mill to help. His aunt was at the
window too; so that altogether Hugh forgot to thank his
companions for his safe seat. He would have forgotten his
box, but for the coachman. One thing more he also forgot.
â€œI say, young master,â€ said the driver; â€œremember the
coachman. Whereâ€™s your sixpence ?â€
â€œ*Oh, my sixpence !â€ cried Hugh, throwing down what he
held, to feel in his curious inner pocket, which was empty.
â€œLest you. find a hole in your pocket, here is a sixpence
for you,â€ cried the right-hand passenger, tossing him his own
sixpence. â€œThank you for teaching us the secret of such a
The coachman was impatient, got his money, and drove
off, leaving Hugh to make out why he had been tickled, and
how his money had changed hands. With a very red face,
he declared it was too bad of the man; but the man was
out of his hearing, and could never know how angry he was, _
MICHAELMAS DAY COME. 43
â€œA pretty story this is for our usher to have against you,
to begin with,â€ was Philâ€™s consolation. â€˜Every boy will
know it before you show yourself; and you will never hear
the last of it, I can tell you.â€
â€œYour usher!â€ exclaimed Hugh, bewildered.
â€œYes, our usher. That was he on the box, beside coachee.
Did not you find out that much in all these eight-and-
â€œ How should I? He never told me.â€
Hugh could hardly speak to his uncle and aunt, he was
so taken up with trying to remember what he had said, in
the usherâ€™s hearing, of the usher himself, and everybody at
CHAPTER IV. .
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER.
Mrs. SHaw ordered dinner presently ; and while it was
being served, she desired Phil to brush his brotherâ€™s clothes,
as they were dusty from his ride. All the while he was
brushing (which he did very roughly), and all the first part
of dinner-time, Phil continued to tease Hugh about what he
had said on the top of the coach. Mrs. Shaw spoke of the
imprudence of talking freely before strangers; and Hugh
could have told her that he did not need such a lecture at
the very time that he found the same thing by his experience.
He did wish Phil would stop. If anybody should ask him
a question, he could not answer without crying. Then he
remembered how his mother. expected him to bear things ;
and he almost wished he was at home with her now, after
all his longing to be away. This thought nearly made him
cry again; so he tried to dwell on how his mother would
expect him to bear things; but neither of them had thought
that morning beside his box, that the first trial would come
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER. 45
from Phil. This again made him so nearly cry that his
uncle observed his twitching face, and, without noticing him,
said that he, for his part, did not want to see little boys wise
DRESSING FOR DINNER.
tefore ihey had time to learn; and that the most silent
companions he had ever been shut up with in a coach was
certainly the least agreeable; and he went on to relate an
adventure which has happened to more persons than one.
He had found the.gentleman in the corner, with the shaggy
46 THE CROFTON BOYS,
coat, to be a bearâ€”a tame bear, which had to take the
quickest mode of conveyance, in order to be at a distant fair
in good time. Mr. Shaw spun out his story, so that Hugh
quite recovered himself, and laughed as much as anybody
at his uncle having formed a bad opinion of Bruin in the
early twilight, for his incivility in not bowing to the passenger
who left the coach.
After dinner, Phil thought it time to be off to Crofton.
de had missed something by coming away at all to-day, and
he was not going to run the chance of losing the top of the
class by not having time to do his Sallust properly. Mrs.
Shaw said they must have some of her plums before they
went, and a glass of wine; and Mr. Shaw ordered the gig,
saying he would drive them, and thus no time would be lost
though he hoped Phil would not mind being at the bottom
of every class for once to help his brother, seeing how soon a
diligent boy might work his way up again. Phil replied that
â€˜that was not so easy as people might think, when there was .
one like Joe Cape determined to keep him down, if he could
once get him down.
â€œTJ hope you will find time to help Hugh up from the
bottom, in a class or two,â€ said Mr. Shaw. â€œYou will not
be too busy about your own affairs to look to his, I suppose.â€
â€œWhere is the use of my meddling?â€ said Phil. â€œHe
canâ€™t rise for years to come. Besides-â€”â€”-â€
â€œWhy canâ€™t rise?â€ exclaimed Hugh, with glowing cheeks.
â€œThat is right, Hugh,â€ said his uncle. â€œLet nobody â€”
prophesy for you till you show what you can do.â€
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER. 47
â€œâ€˜Why, uncle, he is nearly two years younger than any boy:
in the school; andâ€”â€”â€”â€
â€œAnd there is little Page above you in algebra. He is
about two years younger than you, Phil, if I remember right.â€
Hugh could not help clapping his hands at the prospect
this held out to him. Phil took the act for triumphing over
him, and went on to say, very insultingly, that a little fellow
who had been brought up among the girls all his life, and
had learned of nobody but Miss Harold, could not be ex-
pected to cut any figure among boys. Hugh looked so
grieved for a moment, and then suddenly so relieved, that
his kind uncle wondered what was in his mind. He took
the boy between his knees, and asked him.
Hugh loved his uncle already, as if he had always known
. him. He put his arms round his neck, and whispered in
his ear what he was thinking of:â€”his motherâ€™s saying that
God could and would, if He was sought, put the spirit of a
man into the feeblest child.
â€œTrue!â€”quite true! I am very ae you know that, my
boy. That will help you to learn.at Crofton, though it is
better than anything they can teach you in their school-
Mrs. Shaw and Phil looked curious; but Mr. Shaw did
not repeat a word of what Hugh had said. He put the boy
away from his knees, because he heard the gig coming
Mrs. Shaw told Hugh that she hoped he would spend some
of his Sundays with his uncle and her; and his uncle added
48 THE CROFTON BOYS.
that he must come on holidays as well as Sundays,â€”there
was so much to see about the mill.
Phil was amused, and somewhat pleased, to find how exactly
Hugh remembered his description of the place and neigh-
- HUGH FINDS A SYMPATHIZER.
bourhood. He recognized the duck-pond under the hedge
by the roadside, with the very finest blackberries. growing
above it, just out of reach. The church he knew, of course,
and the row of chestnuts, whose leaves were just beginning
to fall; and the high wall dividing the orchard from the play-
ground, That must have been the wall on which Mr.'Tookeâ€™s
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER. 49
little boy used to be placed to frighten him. It did not look
so very high as Hugh had fancied it. One thing which he
had never seen or heard of was the bell, under its little roof
on the ridge of Mr. Tookeâ€™s great house. Was it to call in
the boys to school, or for an alarm? His uncle told him it
might serve the one purpose in the day, and the other by
night; and that almost every large farm thereabouts had such
a bell on the top of the house.
The sun was near its setting when they came in sight of
the Crofton house. A long range of windows glittered in the
yellow light, and Phil said that the lower row all belonged
to the school-roomâ€”that whole row.
In the midst of his explanations Phil stopped, and his
manner grew more rough than everâ€”with a sort of shyness
in it too, It was because some of the boys were within
hearing, leaning over the pales which separated the play-
ground from the road.
â€œT say; hallo there!â€ cried one. â€œIs that Prater you
have got with you?â€
â€œ Prater the second,â€ cried another. â€˜He could not have
had his name if there had not been Prater the first.â€
â€œThere; thereâ€™s a scrape you have got me into already!â€™
â€œBe a man, Phil, and bear your own share,â€ said Mr.
Shaw; â€œand no spite, because your words come back to you.â€
The talk at the palings still went on, as the gig rolled
quietly in the sandy by-road.
* Prater!â€ poor Hugh exclaimed. â€œWhat a name!â€
50 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œYes; that is you,â€ said his uncle, â€œ You know now what
your nickname will be. Every boy has one or another; and
yours might have been worse, because you might have done
many a worse thing to earn it.â€
â€œBut the usher, uncle!â€
â€œWhat of him?â€
*â€œ He should not have told about me.â€
â€˜Donâ€™t call him â€˜Prater the third,â€™ however. Bear your
own share, as I said to Phil,and donâ€™t meddle with anotherâ€™s.â€
Perhaps Mr. Shaw hoped that through one of the boys
the usher would get a new nickname for his ill-nature in
telling tales of a little boy, before he was so much as seen by
hiscompanions. He certainly put it into their heads, whether
they would make use of it or not.
Mr. Tooke was out, taking his evening ride; but Mr. Shaw
would not drive off till he had seen Mrs. Watson, and intro-
duced his younger nephew to her, observing to her that he
was â€˜but a little fellow to come among such a number of
rough boys. Mrs. Watson smiled kindly at Hugh, and said
she was glad he had a brother in the school, to prevent his
feeling lonely at first. It would not take many days, she
hoped, to make him feel quite at home. Mr. Shaw slipped
half a crown into Hughâ€™s hand, and whispered to him to try
to keep it safe in his inner pocket. Hugh ran after him to
the door, to tell him that he had five shillings alreadyâ€”safe
in his box; but his uncle would not take back the half-crown.
He thought that, in course of time, Hugh would want all the
money he had:
MICHAELMAS DAV OVER. gt
Mrs. Watson desired Phil to show his brother where he
was to sleep, and to help him to put by his clothes. Phil
was in a hurry to get to his Sallust; so that he was not sorry
when Mrs. Watson herself came up to see that the boyâ€™s
clothes were laid properly in the deep drawer in which Hugh
was to keep his things. Phil then slipped away.
â€œDear me,â€ said Mrs. Watson, turning over one of Hughâ€™s
new collars, â€œwe must have something different from this.
These collars tied with a black ribbon are never tidy. They
are always over one shoulder or the other.â€
â€œ My sisters made them; and they worked so hard to get
them done,â€ said Hugh.
â€œVery wellâ€”very right; only it is a pity they are not of
a better make. Every Sunday at church I shall see your
collar awry; and every time you go to your auntâ€™s, she will
think we do not make you neat. I must see about that. Here
are good stockings, howeverâ€”properly stout. My dear, are
these all the shoes you have got?â€
â€œT have a pair on.â€
â€œOf course; I donâ€™t doubt that. We must have you
measured to-morrow for some boots fitter for the country
than these. We have no London pavement here.â€
And so Mrs. Watson went on, sometimes approving and
sometimes criticising, till Hugh did not know whether to cry
or to be angry. After all the pains his mother and sisters
had.taken about his things, they were to be found fault with
in this way! ;
When his box was emptied, and his drawer filled, Mrs.
52 THE CROFTON BOYS.
Watson took him into the school-room, where the boys were
at supper. Outside the door the buzz seemed prodigious,
and Hugh hoped that in such a bustle nobody would notice
him. Here he was quite mistaken. The moment he entered
there was a hush, and all eyes were turned upon him, except
his brotherâ€™s. Phil hardly looked up from his book; but he
made room for Hugh between himself and another boy, and
drew the great plate of bread within reach. Mrs. Watson
saw that Hugh had his basin of milk; and he found it a
good thing to have something to do while so many eyes were
upon him. He felt that he might have cried if he had not
had his supper to eat.
The usher sat at the top of the table, reading. Mrs. Watson
called his attention tc Hugh, and Hugh stood up and made
his bow. His face was red, as much with anger as timidity,
when he recognized in him the passenger who had sat beside
â€œPerhaps, Mr. Carnaby,â€ said Mrs. Watson, â€œyou will find
something for this young gentleman to do, when he has had
his supper, while the rest are learning their lessons. To-
morrow he will have his own lessons; but to-nightâ€”â€”â€
â€œThere is always the multiplication-table,â€ replied Mr.
Carnaby. â€œThe young gentleman is partial to that, I fancy.â€
Hugh reddened, and applied himself to his bread and milk.
â€œNever mind a joke,â€ whispered Mrs. Watson. â€œWe wonâ€™t
plague you with the multiplication-table the first evening. I
will find you a book or something. Meantime, there is a
companion for youâ€”I forgot that.â€
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER. 53
The good lady went down the room, and brought back a
boy who seemed to be doing all he could to stop crying.
He dashed his hand over his eyes every minute, and could
THE FIRST NIGHT AT SCHOOL.
not look anybody in the tace. He had finished his supper,
and was at a loss what to do next, as he had only arrived
that morning, and did not know anybody at Crofton. His
name was Tom Holt, and he was ten years old. Â°
When they had told their names and ages, and where.
54 THE CROFTON BOYS.
they came from, the boys did not know what to say next, and
Hugh wished Phil would stop murmuring over his Sallust and â€”
looking in the dictionary every minute; but Mrs. Watson did
not forget the strangers. She brought them Cookâ€™s Voyages
out of the library to amuse themselves with, on condition of
their delivering the book to. Mr. Carnaby at bed-time.
The rest of the evening passed away very pleasantly.
Hugh told Holt a great deal about Broadstairs and the
South Sea Islands, and confided to him his own hopes of
being a sailor, â€˜and going round the world, and, if possible,
making his way straight through China, the most difficult
country left to travel in, he believed, except some parts of
Africa. He did not want to cross the Great Desert, on
account of the heat. He knew something of what that was
by the leads at home, when the sun was on them. What
was the greatest heat Holt had ever felt? Then came the
surprise. Holt had last come from his uncleâ€™s farm; but he
was born in India, and had lived there till eighteen months
ago. So, while Hugh had chattered away about the sea at
Broadstairs, and the heat on the leads at home, his com-
panion had come fourteen thousand miles over the ocean,
and had felt a heat nearly as extreme as that of the Great
Desert. Holt was very unassuming too. He talked of the
â€˜heat of gleaning in his uncleâ€™s harvest-fields, and of the
kitchen when the harvest supper was cooking; owning that
he remembered he had felt hotter in India. Hugh heaped
questions upon him about his native country and the voyage).
and Holt liked to be asked; so that the boys were not at all
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER. 55.
like strangers just met for the first time. They raised their
voices in the eagerness of their talk, from a whisper so as to
be heard quite across the table, above the hum and buzz
of above thirty others, who were learning their lessons half
At last Hugh was startled by hearing the words â€œ Prater,â€
* Prater the second,â€ He was silent instantly, to Holtâ€™s great
Without raising his eyes from his book, Phil said, so as to
be heard as far as the usher,
â€œWho prated of Prater the second? Who is Prater the
There was a laugh which provoked the usher to come and
see whereabouts in Sallust such a passage as this was to be
found. Not finding any such, he knuckled Philâ€™s head, and
pulled his hair, till Hugh cried out,
â€œOh, donâ€™t, sir! Donâ€™t hurt him so!â€
â€œDo you call that hurting? You will soon find what
hurting is, when you become acquainted with our birch.
You shall have four times seven with our birch Let us
seeâ€”that is your favourite number, I think.â€
The usher looked round, and almost everybody laughed.
â€œYou see I have your secret;â€”four times seven,â€ con-
tinued Mr. Carnaby. â€œâ€˜What do you shake your head
â€œBecaise you have not my secret about four times
56 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œ Did not I hear your father? Eh?â€
â€œWhat did you hear my father say? Nobody here knows
what he meant, and nobody need know, unless I choose to
tellâ€”which I donâ€™t. Please donâ€™t teaze Phil about it, sir,
for he knows no more about it than you do.â€
Mr. Carnaby said something about the impertinence of â€”
little boys, as if they could have secrets, and then declared
it high time that the youngsters should go to bed. Hugh
delivered Cookâ€™s Voyages into his hands, and then bade
Phil good night. He was just going to put his face up to
be kissed, but recollected in time that he was to leave off
kissing when he went to school. He held out his hand,
but Phil seemed not to see it, and only told him to be sure
to lie enough on one side, so as to leave him room, and that
he was to take the side of the bed next the window. Hugh
nodded and went off, with Holt and two more who slept in
the same room.
The two who were not new boys were in bed in a minute;
and when they saw Hugh wash his face and hands, they sat
up in bed to stare. One of them told him that he had
better not do that, as the maid would be coming for the
light, and would leave him in the dark, and report of him if
he was not in bed. So Hugh made a great splutter, and did
not half dry his face, and left the water in the basin; a thing
which they told him was not allowed. He saw that the
others had not kneeled down to say their prayersâ€”a practice
which he had never omitted since he could say a prayer,
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER. 57
except when he nad the measles. He knew the boys were
watching him, but he thought of his mother, and how she
had taught him to pray at her knee. He hid himself as well
as he could with the scanty bed-curtains, and kneeled. He
could not attend to the words he said while feeling that
eyes were upon him, and before he had done, the maid came
in for the candle.
She waited; but when he got into bed she told him that
he must be quicker to-morrow night, as she had no time to
spare waiting for the candle.
Hugh was more tired than he had ever been in his life.
This had been the longest day he had ever known. It
seemed more like a week than a day. Yet he could not go
to sleep. He had forgotten to ask Phil to be sure and wake
him inâ€˜time in the morning, and now he must keep awake
till Phil came, to say this. Then, he could not but ask him-
self whether he liked, and should like, being at school as
much as he expected; and when he felt how very unlike
home it was, and how rough everybody seemed, and how
Phil appeared almost as if he was ashamed of him, instead
of helping him, he was so miserable he did not know what
He cried bitterlyâ€”cried till his pillow was quite wet,
and he was almost choked with his grief; for he tried
hard not to let his sobs be heard. After a while he felt
what he might do. Though he had kneeled he had not
really prayed; and if he had, God is never weary of prayers,
58 THE CROFTON BOYS.
It was a happy thought to Hugh that his very best Friend
was with him still, and that he might speak to Him at any
He spoke now in his heart; and a great comfort it was.
â€œO God, I am all alone here, where nobody knows me;
and everything is very strange and uncomfortable. Please
make people kind to me till Iam used to them; and keep
up a brave heart in me, if they are not. Help me not to
mind little things; but to do my lessons well, that I may get
to like being a Crofton boy, as I thought I should. I love
them all at home very muchâ€”better than I ever did before.
Make them love me, and think of me every day, particularly
Agnes, that they may be as glad as I shall be when I go
home at Christmas.â€
This was the most of what he had to say; and he dropped
asleep with the feeling that God was listening to him.
After a long while, as it seemed to him, though it was only
-an hour, there was a light and some bustle in the room. It
was Phil and two others coming to bed.
â€œOh, Phil!â€ cried Hugh, starting bolt upright and winking
with sleep, â€œI meant to keep awake, to ask you to be sure
and call me in the morning, time enoughâ€”quite time enough,
The others langhed; and Phil asked whether he had not
seen the bell as he came, and what it should be for but to
ring everybody up in the morning,
MICHAELMAS DAY OVER. 59
â€œBut I might not hear it,â€ pleaded Hugh.
â€œNot hear it! Youll soon see that.â€
â€œWell, but you will see that I really do wake, wonâ€™
â€œThe bell will take care of that, I tell you,â€ was all he
could get from Phil.
HUGH PLEADS FOR HIS BROTHER,
Hucu found, in the morning, that there was no danger of
his not hearing the bell. Its clang-clang startled him out of
'asound sleep; and he was on his feet on the floor almost
before his eyes were open. The boys who were more used
to the bell did not make quite so much haste. They yawned '
a few times, and turned out more slowly; so that Hugh had
the great tin wash-basin to himself longer than the rest.
There was a basin to every three boys; and, early as Hugh
began, his companions were impatient long before he had
done. At first they waited in curiosity to see what he was
going to do after washing his face; when he went further,
they began to quiz; but when they found that he actually
thought of washing his feet, they hooted and groaned at him
tor a dirty brat.
â€œDirty!â€ cried Hugh, facing them, amazedâ€”* dirty for
washing my feet! Mother says it is a dirty trick not to wash
all over every day.â€
CROFTON PLAY. 61
Phil told him that was stuff and nonsense here. There
was no room and no time for such home doings. The boys
all washed their heads and feet on Saturdays. He would
soon find that he might be glad to get his face and hands
done in the mornings.
The other boys in the room were, or pretended to be, so
disgusted with the very idea of washing feet in a basin, that
they made Hugh rinse and rub out the tin basin several
times before they would use it, and then there was a great
bustle to get downstairs at the second bell. Hugh pulled
his brotherâ€™s arm, as Phil was brushing out of the room, and
asked, in a whisper whether there would be time to say his
â€œThere will be prayers in the school-room. You must be
in time for them,â€ said Phil. â€˜You had better come with
â€œDo wait one moment, while I just comb my hair.â€
Phil fidgeted, and others giggled, while Hugh tried to part
his hair, as Susan had taught him. He gave it up, and left
it rough, thinking he would come up and do it when there
was nobody there to laugh at him.
The school-room looked chilly and dull, as. there was no
sunshine in it till the afternoon; and still Mr. Tooke was not
there, as Hugh had hoped he would be.. Mrs. Watson and
the servants came in for prayers, which were well read by the
usher; and then everybody went to businessâ€”everybody but
Hugh and Holt, who had nothing to do. Class after class
came up for repetition; and this repetition seemed to the
62 THE CROFTON BOYS.
new boys an accomplishment they should never acquire.
They did not think that any practice would enable them to
gabble as everybody seemed able to gabble here. Hugh
had witnessed something of it before; Phil having been
wont to run off at home, â€œSal, Sol, Ren et Splen,â€ to the
end of the passage, for the admiration of his sisters, and so
much to little Harryâ€™s amusement, that Susan, however busy
she might be, came to listen, and then asked him to say it
again, that cook might hear what he learned at school.
Hugh now thought that none of them gabbled quite so fast
as Phil, but he soon found out, by a glance or two of Philâ€™s
to one side, that he was trying to astonish the new boys. It
is surprising how it lightened Hughâ€™s heart to find that his
brother did not quite despise or feel ashamed of him, as he
had begun to think, but that he even took pains to show off.
He was sorry, too, when the usher spoke sharply to Phil,
and even rapped his head with the cane, asking him what
he spluttered out his nonsense at that rate for. Thus ended
Philâ€™s display; and Hugh felt as hot, and as ready to cry, as
if it had happened to himself.
Perhaps the usher saw this, for when he called Hugh up,
he was very kind. He looked at the Latin grammar he had
used with Miss Harold, and saw by the dogsâ€™-ears exactly
how far Hugh had gone in it, and asked him only what he
could answer very well. Hugh said three declensions, with
only one mistake. Then he was shown the part that he was
to say to-morrow morning; and Hugh walked away, all the
happier for having something to do, like everybody. else
CROFTON PLAY. 63
He was so little afraid of the usher, that he went back to
him to ask where he had better sit,
â€œSit! Oh, I suppose you must have a desk, though you
have nothing to put in it. If there is a spare desk, you shall
have it; if not, we will find a corner for you somewhere.â€
â€œSome of the boys whispered that Mrs. Watsonâ€™s footstool,
under her apron, would do; but the usher overheard this,
and observed that it took some people a good while to know
anew boy, and that they might find that a little fellow might
be as much of a man asa big one. And the usher called
the oldest boy in the school, and asked him to see if there
was a desk for little Proctor. There was; and Hugh put
into it his two or three school-books and his slate, and felt
that he was now indeed a Crofton boy. Then, the usher was
kinder than he had expected; and he had still to see Mr.
Tooke, of whom he was not afraid at all; So Hughâ€™s spirits
rose, and he liked the prospect of breakfast as well as any
boy in the school.
There was one more rebuff for him first, however, He
ran up to his.room to finish combing his hair, while the
other boys were thronging into the long room to breakfast.
He found the housemaids there, making the beds; and they
both cried â€œOut! out!â€ and clapped their hands at him,
and threatened to tell Mrs. Watson of his having broken
rules, if he did not go this moment. Hugh asked what
Mrs. Watson would say to his hair, if he went to breakfast
with it as it was. One of the maids was good-natured
enough to comb it for him for once, but she said he must
64 THE CROFTON BOYS.
carry a comb in his pocket, as the boys were not allowed to
go to their rooms, except at stated hours.
At last Hugh saw Mr. Tooke. When the boys entered
school at nine oâ€™clock, the master was:at his desk. Hugh
went up to his end of the room with a smiling face, while
Tom Holt hung back; and he kept beckoning Tom Holt
on, having told him there was nothing to be afraid of.
But when at last Mr. Tooke saw them, he made no difference
between the two, and seemed to forget having ever seen
Hugh. He.told them he hoped they would be good boys,
and would do credit to Crofton; and then he asked Mr.
Carnaby to set them something to leam. And this was all
they had to do with Mr. Tooke for a long while.
This morning in school, from nine till twelve, seemed the
longest morning these little boys had ever known. When
they remembered that the afternoon would be as long, and
every morning and afternoon for three months, their hearts
sank. Perhaps, if any one had told them that the time
would grow shorter and shorter by use, and at last, when
they had plenty to do, almost too short, they would not
have believed it, because they could not yet feel it. But
what they now found was only what every boy and girl
finds.on beginning school, or entering upon any new way of
Mr. Carnaby, who was busy with others, found it rather
difficuit to fill up their time. When Hugh had said some
Latin, and helped his companion to learn his first Latin
lesson, and both had written a copy and done a sum, Mr.
CROFTON PLAY. 65
Carnaby could not spare them any more time or thought,
and told them they might do what they liked, if they only
kept quiet till school was up. So they made out the ridicu-
lous figures which somebody had carved upon their desks,
and the verses, half rubbed out, which were scribbled inside;
and then they reckoned, on their slates, how many days
there were before the Christmas. holidaysâ€”how many school-
days, and how many Sundays. And then Hugh began to
draw a steamboat in the Thames, as seen from the leads of
his fatherâ€™s house; while Holt drew on his slate the ship in
which he came over from India. But before they had done,
the clock struck twelve: school was up, and there was a
general rush into the playground.
Now Hugh was really to see the country. Except that
the sun had shone pleasantly into his room in the morning,
through waving trees, nothing had yet occurred to make him
feel that he was in the country. Now, however, he was in
the open air, with trees sprinkled all over the landscape, and
green fields stretching away, and the old church-tower halt
covered with ivy. Hugh screamed with pleasure; and nobody
thought it odd, for almost every boy was shouting. Hugh
longed to pick up some of the shining brown chestnuts
which he had seen yesterday in the road, under the trees;
and he was now cantering away to the spot, when Phil ran
after him, and roughly stopped him, saying he would get into
_a fine scrape for the first day if he went out of bounds.
Hugh had forgotten there were such things as bounds, and
was not at all glad to be reminded of them now. He sighed
66 THE CROFTON BOYS,
as he begged Phil to show him exactly where he might go
and where he might not. Phil did so in an impatient way,
and then was off to trap-ball, because his party were waiting
The chestnut-trees overhung one corner of the playground
within the paling, and in that corner Hugh found several
chestnuts which had burst their sheaths, and lay among the
first fallen leaves. He pocketed them with great delight,
wondering that nobody had been before him to secure such
a treasure. â€œ Agnes should have some; and little Harry
would find them nice playthings. They looked good to
eat too, and he thought he could spare one to taste; so he
took out his knife, cut off the point of a fine swelling chest-
nut, and tasted a bit of the inside. Just as he was making
a face over it, and wondering that it was so nasty, when
those which his father roasted in the fire-shovel on Christmas
Day were so good, he heard laughter behind him, and found
that he was again doing something ridiculous, though he
knew not what; and in a moment poor Hugh was as un-
happy as ever.
He ran away from the laughing boys, and went quite to
the opposite corner of the playground, where a good number
of his schoolfellows were playing ball under the orchard
wall. Hugh ran hither and thither, like the rest, trying tc
catch the ball, but he never could do it; and he was jostled.
and thrown down, and another boy fell over him; and he
was told that he knew nothing about play, and had bette:
_ CROFTON PLAY. 67
eeeren err ES RE
He did so with a heavy heart, wondering how he was ever
to be like the other boys, if nobody would take him in hand
and teach him to play, or even let him learn, Remember.
ing what his mother expected of him, he tried to sing, to
A BITTER DISCOVERY,
prevent crying, and began to count the pales round the
playground for something to do. This presently brought |
him tc a tree which stood on the very boundary, its trunk
serving, instead of two or three pales. It was only a twisted
old ap,.â‚¬-tree, put the more twisted and gnarled it was, the
nore it looked like a tree that Hugh could climb; and he
68 THE CROFTON BOYS.
had always longea to climb a tree. Glancing up, He saw
a boy aweadv there, sitting on the fork of two branches,
â€œHave you a mind to come up?â€ asked the boy.
â€œVes, sir, I should like to try to climb a tree. I never
â€œWell, this is a good one to begin with. I'll lend you a
hand; shall 1?â€
â€œThank you, sir.â€
â€œDonâ€™t call me â€˜sir. Iâ€™m only a schoolboy, like you. I
am Dan Firth. Call me Firth, as I am the only one of
the name here. You are little Proctor, I thinkâ€”-Proctorâ€™s
â€œYes; but, Firth, I shall pull you down if I slip.â€
â€œNot you; but I'll come down, and so send you up to
my seat, which is the safest to begin with. Stand off.â€
Firth swung himself down, and then, showing Hugh where
to plant his feet, and propping him when he wanted it, he
soon seated himâ€™ on the fork, and laughed good-naturedly
when Hugh waved his cap over his head, on occasion of
being up in a tree. He let him get down and up again
several times, till he could do it quite alone, and felt that
he might have a seat here whenever it was not occupied by
any one else.
While Hugh sat in the branches, venturing to leave hold
with one hand, that he might fan his hot face with his cap,
Firth stood on the rail of the palings, holding by the tree,
and talking to him. Firth told him that this was the only
CROFTON PLAY. 69
tree the boys were allowed to climb, since Ned Reeve had
fallen from the great ash and hurt his spine. He showed
what trees he had himself climbed before that accident, and
it made Hugh giddy to think of being within eight feet of .
the top of the lofty elm in the churchyard, which Firth had
thought nothing of mounting,
â€œDid anybody teach you?â€ asked Hugh.
â€œYes; my father taught me to climb, when I was younger
â€œAnd had you anybody to teach you games and things,
when you came here?â€
â€œNo; but I had learned a good deal of that before I
came, and so I soon fell into the ways here. Have you
anybody to teach you?â€
â€œNoâ€”yesâ€”why, no. I thought Phil would have showed
me things; but he does not seem to mind me at all.â€ And
Hugh bit his lip, and fanned himself faster.
â€˜Ah! he attends to you more than you think.â€
â€œDoes he? Then whyâ€”but what good does it do
me?â€ ; :
â€œWhat good? His holding off makes you push your own
way. It lets you make friends for yourself.â€
â€œT have no friends here,â€ said Hugh.
â€œYes, you have. HereamI. You would not have had
me, if you had been at Proctorâ€™s heels at this moment.â€
â€œWill you be my friend, then: â€
â€œThat 1 wil.â€
â€œWhat, 2 great poy like you, that sits reading in a tree!
70 THE CROFTON BOYS.
But I may read nere beside you. You said there was room
â€œAy; but you must not use it yet,â€”at least, not often,
if you wish to do well here. Everybody knows I can play
at anything. From the time I became captain of the wall
at fives, I have had liberty to do what I like, without question.
But you must show that you are up to play, before they will
let you read in peace and quiet.â€
â€œBut how can I, ifâ€”i 2
â€œOnce show your spirit,â€”prove that you can shift for
yourself, and you will find Phil open out wonderfully. He
and you will forget all his shyness then. Once show him
that he need not be ashamed of you â€
_ â€œAshamed of me!â€ cried Hugh, firing up.
â€œYes. Little boys are looked upon as girls in a school
till they show that they are little men. And then again, you
have been brought up with girls,â€”have not you?â€
â€œTo be sure; and so was he.â€
â€œAnd half the boys here, I dare say. Well, they are
called Bettys til 2
â€œTI am not a Betty,â€ cried Hugh, flashing again.
â€œThey suppose you are, because you part your hair, and
do as you have been used to do at home.â€
â€œWhat business have they with my hair? I might as wel)
call them Bruins for wearing theirs shaggy.â€
â€œVery true. They will let you and your hair alone when
they see what you are made of; and then Phil willâ€”â€”â€
â€œ He will ovâ€˜ me when 1 don't want it; and now, when
CROFTON PLAY, 7
el ern en
he might ip me, there he is, far off, never caring about
what becomes of me.â€
â€œOh, yes, he does. He is watching you all the time. You
and he will have it all out some day before Christmas, and
then you will see how he really cares about you. Really
your hair is very long,â€”too like a girlâ€™s. Shall I cut it for
â€œT should like it,â€ said Hugh, â€œbut I donâ€™t want the boys
to think I am afraid of them, or to begin giving up to
â€œYou are right there. We will let it alone now, and cut
it when it suits our convenience.â€
â€œWhat a nice place this is, to be sure!â€ cried Hugh, as
the feeling of loneliness went off. â€œBut the rooks do not
make so much noise as I expected.â€
â€œYou will find what they can do in that way when spring
comes,â€”when they are building.â€
â€œ And when may we go out upon the heath, and into the
fields where the lambs are?â€
â€œWe go long walks on Saturday afternoons ; but you do
not expect to see young lambs in October, do you?â€
â€œOh, I forgot. I never can remember the seasons for
â€œThat shows you are a Londoner. You will jearn all
those things here. If you look for hares in our walks, you
may chance to see one; or you may start a pheasant ; but
take care you donâ€™t mention lambs, or goslings, or cowslips,
or any spring things, or you will never hear the last of it.â€
72 LHE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œThank you; but wnat wili poor Holt do? He is from
India, and he knows very little about our ways.â€
â€œThey may laugh at him; but they will not despise him,
as they might a Londoner. Being an Indian, and being a
Londoner, are very different things.â€
â€˜â€œâ€œ And yet how proud the Londoners are over the country.
It is very odd.â€
â€œ People are proud of their own ways all the world over,
You will be proud of being a Crofton boy by-and-bye.â€
â€œ Perhaps I am now, a little,â€ said Hugh, blushing.
â€œWhat, already? Ah! you will do, Isee. I have known
old people proud of their age, and young people of their
youth. I have seen poor people proud of their poverty ; and
everybody has seen rich people proud of their wealth. I
have seen happy people proud of their prosperity, and the
afflicted proud of their afflictions. Yes, people can always
manage to be proud: so you have boasted of being a Lon-
doner up to this time, and from this time you will hold your
head high as a Crofton boy.â€
-â€œHlow long? Till when?â€
â€œAh! till when? What next? What ao you mean to be
â€œA soldier, or a sailor, or a great traveller, or something
of that kind. I mean to go quite round the world, like
â€œThen you will come home, proud of having been round
the world; and you will meet with some old neighbour who
boasts of having spent all his life in the house he was born in.â€
CROFTON PLAY. 73
â€œQld Mr. Dixon told mother that of himself, very lately.
Oh, dear! how often does the postman come?â€
â€œYou want a letter from home, do you? But you left
them only yesterday morning.â€
â€œ*T donâ€™t know how to believe that,â€”-it seems such an
immense time! But wnen does the postman come?â€
â€˜* Any day when he has ijetters to bring,â€”at about four in
the afternoon. We see him come, from the school-room;
but we do not know who the letters are for till school breaks
up at five.â€
â€œOh, dear!â€ cried Hugh, thinking what the suspense
must be, and the disappointment at last to twenty boys,
perhaps, for one that was gratified. Firth advised him to
write a letter home before he began to expect one. If he
did not like to ask the usher, he himself would rule the
paper for him, and he could write a bit at a time, after his
lessons were done in the evening, till the sheet was full.
Hugh then told his grievance about the usher, and Firth
thought that though it was not wise in Hugh to prate about
Crofton on the top of the coach, it was worse to sit by and
listen without warning, unless the listener meant to hold his
own tongue. But he fancied the usher had since heard
something which made him sorry; and the best way now
was for Hugh to bear no malice, and remember nothing
tore of the affair than to be discreet in his future journeys.
*What is the matter there?â€ cried Hugh. â€œOh, dear!
something very terrible must have happened. How that boy
74. THE CROFTON BOYS,
â€œTt is only Lamb again,â€ replied Firth. â€˜â€œ You will soon
get used to his screaming. He is a very passionate boyâ€”I
never saw such a passionate fellow.â€
â€œ But what are they doing to him?â€
â€œSomebody is putting him into a passion, I suppose,
There is always somebody to do that.â€
â€œWhat a shame!â€ cried Hugh.
N65 51 see no wit in it,â€ replied Firth. â€˜Anybody may
do it. You have only to hold your little finger up to put
him in a rage.â€
Hugh thought Firth was rather cool about the matter.
But Firth was not so cool when the throng opened for a
moment, and showed what was really done to the angry boy.
Only his head appeared aboveground. His schoolfellows
had put him into a hole they had dug, and had filled it up
to his chin, stamping down the earth, so that the boy was
perfectly helpless, while wild with rage.
â€œThat is too bad!â€ cried Firth. â€˜That would madden
And he jumped down from the paling, and ran towards
the crowd. Hugh, forgetting his height from the ground,
stood up in the tree, almost as angry as Lamb himself, and
staring with all his might to see what he could. He saw
Firth making his way through the crowd, evidently remon-
strating, if not threatening. He saw him snatch a spade
from a boy who was flourishing it in Lambâ€™s face. He saw
that Firth was digging, though half a dozen boys had thrown
themselves on his back, and hung on his arms. He saw
CROFTON PLAY. I
HUGH TO THE RESCUE,
that Firth persevered till Lamb had got his right arm out of
the ground, and was striking everything within reach. Then
ne saw Firth dragged down and away, while the boys made
a circle round Lamb, putting a foot or hand within his reach,
and then snatching it away again, till the boy yelled with
tage at the mockery.
76 THE CROFTON BOYÂ¥s.
Hugh could look on no longer. He scrambled down
from the tree, scampered to the spot, burst through the
throng, and seized Lambâ€™s hand. Lamb struck him a heavy
blow, taking him for an enemy ; but Hugh cried â€œTI am your
friend,â€ seized his hand again, and tugged till he was first
ted and then black in the face, and till Lamb had worked
his shoulders out of the hole, and seemed likely to have the
use of his other arm in a trice.
Lambâ€™s tormentors at first let Hugh alone in amazement;
but they were not Jong in growing angry with him too.
They hustled: himâ€”they pulled him all waysâ€”they tripped
him up ; but Hughâ€™s spirit was roused, and that brought his
body up to the struggle again and again. He wrenched
himself free, he scrambled to his feet again, as often as he
was thrown down; and in a few minutes he had plenty of
support. Phil was taking his part, and shielding him from.
many blows. Firth had got Lamb out of the hole; and
the party against the tormentors was now so strong that they
began to part off till the struggle ceased. Firth kept his
grasp of the spade; for Lambâ€™s passion still ran so high that
there was no saying what might be the consequences of
leaving any dangerous weapon within his reach. He was
still fuming and stamping, Hugh gazing at him the while in
wonder and fear.
â€œThere stands your defender, Lamb,â€ said Firth, â€œ think-
ing he never saw a boy in a passion before. Come, have
done with it for his sake; be a man, as he is. Here, help
me to fill up this holeâ€”both of you. Stamp down the earth,
CROFTON PLAY. 77
Lamb. Tread it wellâ€”tread your anger well down into it.
Think of this little friend of yours hereâ€”a Crofton boy only
A FRIEND GAINED.
Lamb did help to fill the hole, but he did not say a
wordâ€”not one word to anybody, till the dinner-bell rang.
Then, at the pump, where the party were washing their hot
and dirty and bruised hands, he held out his hand to Hugh,
muttering, with no very good grace,
78 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œT donâ€™t know what made you help me, but I will never
be in a passion with you,â€”unless you put me out, that is.â€
Hugh replied that he had come to help because he never
could bear to see anybody sade worse, He always tried at
home to keep the little boys and girls off â€œ drunk old Tom,â€
as he was called in the neighbourhood. It was such a shame
to make anybody worse! Lamb looked as if he was going
to fly at Hugh now; but Firth put his arm round Hughâ€™s
neck, and drew him into the house, sayiny in his ear,
â€œDonâ€™t say any more that you have no friends here. You
have me for one; and you might have had anotherâ€”two in
one morningâ€”but for your plain speaking about drunk old
â€œDid I say any harm?â€
â€œ* Noâ€”no harm,â€ replied Firth, laughing. â€œ You will do,
my boyâ€”when you have got through a few scrapes. Iâ€™m
vour friend, at any rote.â€
Hucuâ€™s afternoon lessons were harder than those of the
morning; and in the evening he found he had so much to
do, that there was very little time left for writing his letter
home. Some time there was, however; and Firth did not
forget to rule his paper, and-to let Hugh use his ink, Hugh
had been accustomed to copy the prints he found in the
voyages and tfavels he read; and he could never see a
picture of a savage but he wanted to copy it. He was thus
accustomed to a pretty free use of his slate-pencil. He now
thought that it would save a great deal of description if he
sent a picture or two in his letter; so he flourished off, on
the first page, a sketch of Mr. Tooke sitting at his desk at
the top of the school, and of Mr. Carnaby standing at his
desk at the bottom of the school.
The next evening he made haste to fill up the sheet, for
he found his business increasing upon his hanÃ©< so fast that
80 THE CROFTON BOYS.
he did not know when he should get his letter off, if he did
not dispatch it at once. He was just folding it up, when
Tom Holt observed that it was a pity not to put some words
into the mouths of the figures, to make them more animated ;
and he showed Hugh, by the curious carvings of their desks,
how to put words into the mouths of figures. Hugh then
remembered having seen this done in the caricatures in the
print-shops in London, and he seized on the idea. He put
into Mr. Tookeâ€™s mouth the words which were oftenest
heard from him, â€œProceed, gentlemen;â€ and into Mr.
Carnabyâ€™s, *â€˜ Hold your din.â€
Firth was too busy with his sense-verses to mind the little
boys, as they giggled, with their heads close together, over
Hughâ€™s sheet of paper; but the usher was never too busy to
be aware of any fun which might possibly concern his dignity.
He had his eye on the new boys the whole while. He let
Hugh direct his letter, and paint up a stroke or two which
did not look so well as the rest; and it was not till Hugh
was rolling the wafer about on his tongue that he interfered.
Mr. Carnaby then came up, tapped Hughâ€™s head, told him
not to get on so fast, for that every letter must be looked
over before it went to the post. While saying this, he took
the letter and put it into his waistcoat pocket. In vain
Hugh begged to have it again, saying he would write another.
The more he begged, and the more dismayed Tom Holt
looked, the less Mr. Carnaby would attend to either. Firth
let himself be interrupted to hear the case; but he could do
nothing in it. It was a general rule, which he thought every
FIRST RAMBLE. 81
boy had known; and it was too late now to prevent the
letter being looked over.
Mr. Carnaby was so angry at the liberty Hugh had taken
REPORTED FOR MISCONDUCT.
with his face and figure, that, in spite of all prayers and a
good many tears, he walked up the school with the letter,
followed by poor Hugh, as soon as Mr. Tooke had taken
his seat next morning, Hugh thought that Holt, who had
put him up to the most offensive part of the pictures, might
have borne him company; but Holt was a timid boy, and
Sa THE CROFTON BOYS.
he really 1ad not courage to leave his seat. So Hugh stood
alone, awaiting Mr. Tookeâ€™s awful words, while the whole of
the first class looked up from their books, in expectation of
what wasto happen. They waited some time for the masterâ€™s
. words for he was trying to help laughing. He and Mr.
Carnaby were so much alike in the pictures, and both so
like South Sea Islanders, that it was impossible to help
laughing at the thought of this sketch going abroad as a
representation ot the Crofton masters. At last, all pa. ties
laughed aloud, and Mr. Tooke handed Hugh his wafer-glass,
and bade him wafer up his letter, and by all means send it.
Mr. Carnaby could not remain offended, if his principal was
not angry; so here the matter ended, except that Hugh
made some strong resolutions about his future letters, and
that the corners of the masterâ€™s mouth were seen to be out
of their usual order several times in the course of the
This incident, and everything which haunted Hughâ€™s mind
and engrossed his attention, was a serious evil to him; for
his business soon grew tobe more than his habit of mind
was equal to. In afew days, he learned to envy the boys
(and they were almost the whole school) who could fix their
attention completely and immediately on the work before
them, and relax as completely when it was accomplished.
When his eyes were wandering, they observed boy after boy
frowning over his dictionary, or repeating to himself, earnestly
and without pause; and presently the business was done,
and the learner at ease, feeling confident that he was ready
FIRST RAMBLE. 83
to meet his master. After double the time had assed,
Hugh was still trying to get the meaning of his lesson into
his headâ€”going over the same words a dozen times, without
gaining any notion of their meaningâ€”suffering, in short,
from his long habit of inattention at home. He did now try
hard ; but he seemed to get only headaches for his pains,
His brother saw enough to make him very sorry for Hugh
before ten days were over. He might not, perhaps, have been
struck with his anxious countenance, his frequent starts, and
his laying his head down on the desk because it ached so,
if it had not been for what happened at.night. Sometimes
Hugh started out of bed, and began to dress, when the elder
boys went up with their light, only an hour after, the younger
ones, Sometimes he would begin saving his syntax in the
middle of the night, fancying he was standing before Mr.
Carnaby ; and once he walked in his sleep as far as the head
of the stairs, and tren suddenly woke, and could not make
~ out where he was. Phil should have told Mr. Tooke of
these things: but Hugh was so very anxious that nobody
should know of his â€œtricksâ€ (as the boys in his room called
his troubles), that Phil only mentioned the matter to Mrs.
Watson, who had known so many bad sleepers among little
boys, and had so little idea that the habit was anything new,
that she took scarcely any notice of it. She had his hair
cut very short and close, and saw that he took a moderate
supper, and was satisfied that all would be well. Hugh did
not patt with his hair till he had joked himself about ils
length, as much as any one could quiz him for it. When he
84 THE CROFTON BOYS.
had pulled it down over the end of his nose, and peeped
through it, like an owl out of an ivy-bush, he might be sup-
posed to part with it voluntarily, and not because he was
Philâ€™s observation of his brotherâ€™s toil and trouble led him
to give him some help. Almost every day he would hear
Hugh say his lessonâ€”or try to say it; for the poor boy
seldom succeeded. Phil sometimes called him stupid, and
sometimes refrained from saying so, whatever he. might
think; but there really was very little difference in the result,
whether Phil heard the lessons beforehand or not; and it
gave Joe Cape a great advantage over Phil that he had no
little brother to attend to. Considering how selfish rivalship
is apt to make boys (and even men), it was perhaps no
wonder that Phil sometimes kept. out of Hughâ€™s way at the
tight hour, saying to himself that his proper business was to
FIRST RAMBLE, 85
do his lessons, and get or keep ahead of Joe Cape; and
that Hugh must take his chance, and work his own way, as
other boys had todo. This conduct might not be wondered
atin Phil but it hurt Hugh, and made him do his lessons
all the worse. He did not like to expose his brotherâ€™s un-
kindness to any one, or he would oftener have asked Fisth
to help him. Firth, too, had plenty of work of his own to
do. More than once, however, Firth met the little lad,
wandering about, with 1: grammar in his hand, in search
f the hidden Phil; and then Firth would stop him, and sit
down with him, and have patience, and give him such clear
explanations, such good examples of the rules he was to
learn, that it all became easy, and F'ugh found his-lessons
were to him only what those of other boys seemed to them.
Still, however, and at the best, Hugh was, as a learner, far
too much at the mercy of circumstancesâ€”the victim of
what passed before his eyes, or was said within his hearing.
Boys who find difficulty in attending to their lessons ate
sure to be more teased with interruptions than any others.
Holt had not the habit of learning; and he and Hugh were
continually annoyed by the boys who sat near them watching
how they got on, and making remarks upon them. One
day, Mr. Tooke was called out of the school-room to a
visitor, and Mr. Carnaby went up to take the masterâ€™s place
and hear his class. This was too good an opportunity for
the boys selow to Jet slip; and they began to play tricks,â€”
most of them directed against Hugh and Tom Holt. One
boy, Warner, began to make the face that always made Holt
86 THE CROFTON BOYS.
laugh, however he tried to be grave. Page drew a caricature
of Mrs, Watson on his slate, and held it up; and Davison
took a mask out of his desk, and even ventured to tie it un,
as if it had not been school-time.
â€œT declare I canâ€™t learn my lessonâ€”'tis too bad!â€ cried
â€œTis a shame!â€ said Tom Holt, sighing for breath after
his struggle not to laugh. â€˜â€˜ We shall never be ready.â€
Hugh made gestures of indignation at the boys, which
only caused. worse faces to be made, and the mask to
â€˜We won't look at them,â€ proposed Holt. â€œLet us cover
our eyes, anc not look up at all.â€
Hugh put his hands before his eyes, but still his mindâ€™s
eye saw the grinning mask, and his lesson did not get on.
Besides, a piece of wet sponge lighted on the very page he
was learning from. He looked up fiercely, to see who had
thrown it. It was no other than Tooke, who belonged to
that classâ€”it was Tooke, to judge by his giggle, and his
pretending to hide his face, as if ashamed. Hugh tossed
back the sponge, so as to hit Tooke on the nose. Then
Tooke was angry, and threw it again, and the sponge passed
backwards and forwards several times, for Hugh was by this
time very angry,â€”boiling with indignation at the hardship of
not being able to learn his lesson, when he really would if
he could. While the sponge was still passing to and fro,
Mr. Carnabyâ€™s voice was heard from the far end of the
room, desiring Warner, Page, Davison, and Tooke to be
FIRST RAMBLE, ; 87
quiet, and let the boys alone till Mr. Tooke came in, when
Mr. Tooke would take his own measures.
Hugh, wondering how Mr, Carnaby knew, at that distance,
what was going on, found that Holt was no longer by his
WORRYING THE TUNIORS,
side. Ina moment, Holt returned to his seat, flushed and
out of breath. A very slight hiss was heard from every form
near, as he came down the room.
â€œOh, Holt! you have been ielling tales!â€ cried Hugh,
â€œTelling tales!â€ exclaimed Holt, in consternation, for
Holt knew nothing of school ways. â€œTI never thought of
that. They asked me to tell Mr. Carnaby that we could nog
learn our lessons,â€
88 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œThey! Who? Iam sure I never asked you.â€
â€œNo, you did not; but Harvey and Prince did,â€”and
' Gillingham. They said Mr. Carnaby would soon rake those
fellows quiet; and they told me to go.â€
â€œYou hear! They are calling you â€˜tell-tale.â€™ That will
be your name now. Oh, Holt, you should not have told
tales. However, I will stand by you,â€ Hugh continued,
seeing the terror that Holt was in.
â€œ*T meant no harm,â€ said Holt, trembling. â€˜Was not it a
shame that they would not let us learn our lessons?â€
â€œVes, it wasâ€”butâ€”â€”â€
At this moment Mr. Tooke entered the room. As he
passed the forms, the boys were all bent over their books,
as if they could think of nothing else. Mr. Tooke walked
up the room to his desk, and Mr. Carnaby walked down the
toom to 47s desk; and then Mr. Carnaby said, quite aloud,
â€œMr. Tooke, sir.â€
Here Holt sprang from his desk, and tan to the usher and
besought him not to say a word about what Warnerâ€™s class
had been doing. He even hung on Mr. Carnabyâ€™s arm in
entreaty; but Mr. Carnaby shook him off, and commanded
him back to his seat. Then the whole school heard Mr.
Tooke told about the wry faces and the mask, and the
trouble of the little boys. Mr. Tooke was not often angry,
but when he was, his face grew white, and his lips trembled,
His face was white now. He stood up, and called before
him the little boy who had informed. Hugh chose to go
FIRST RAMBLE. 89
with Holt, though Holt had not gone up with him about
the letter the other day; and Holt felt how kind this was.
Mr. Tooke desired to know who the offenders were; and as
they were named, he called to them to stand up in their
VAIN FER CEaRON
places. Then came the sentence. Mr. Tooke would never
forgive advantage being taken of his absence. If there were
boys who could not be trusted while his back was turned,
they must be made to remember him when he was out of
sight, by punishment. Page must remain in school after
hours, to learn twenty lines of Virgil; Davison twenty;
Here everybody looked round to see how Tooke bore his
father being so angry with him.
go 2HE CROFTON BOYS,
Â«Please, sir,â€ cried one boy, â€œI saw little Proctor throw
a sponge at Tooke. He did it twice.â€
â€œNever mind,â€ answered Tooke. â€œI threw it at him first.
It is my sponge.â€
â€œAnd Warner,â€ continued the master, as if he had not
heard the interruption, â€œconsidering that Warner has got oft
too easily for many pranks of late,â€”Warner seventy.â€
Seventy! The idea of having anybody condemned,
through him, to learn seventy lines of Latin by heart, made
Holt so miserable, that the word seventy seemed really to
prick his very ears. Though Mr. Tookeâ€™s face was still white,
Holt ventured up to him.
â€œNot a word of intercession for those boys!" said the
master. â€œI will not hear a word in their favour.â€
â€œThen, sir. Â»
â€œIT only want to say, then, that Proctor told no tales, sir
I did not mean any harm, sir, but [ told becauseâ€”â€”â€
â€œ Never mind that,â€ cried Hugh, afraid that he would now
be telling of Harvey, Prince, and Gillingham, who had per-
suaded him to go up.
â€œT have nothing to do with that. That is your affair,â€
said the master, sending the boys back to their seats.
Poor Holt had cause to rue this morning for long after.
He was weary of the sound of hissing, and of the name
â€œtell-tale ;â€ and the very boys who had prompted him to ge
- up were at first silent, and then joined against him. He
FIRST RAMBLE. 91
complained to Hugh of the difficulty of knowing what it
was right to do. He had been angry on Hughâ€™s account .
chiefly; and he still thought it was very unjust to hinder
their lessons, when they wished not to be idle; and yet they
were all treating him as if he had done something worse
than the boys with the mask. Hugh thought all this was true;
but he believed it was settled among schoolboys (though
Holt had never had the opportunity of knowing it) that it
was a braver thing for boys to bear any teasing from one
another than to call in the power of the master to help. A
boy who did that was supposed not to be able to take care
of himself; and for this he was despised, besides being dis-
liked, for having brought punishment upon his companions.
Holt wished Hugh had not been throwing sponges at the
timeâ€”he wished Hugh had prevented his going up, He
would take good care how he told tales again.
â€œYou had better say so,â€ advised Hugh, â€œand then they
will see that you had never been at school, and did not
know how to manage.â€
The first Saturday had been partly dreaded, and partly
longed for, by Hugh. He had longed for the afternoonâ€™s
ramble, but Saturday morning was the time for saying tables,
among other things. Nothing happened as he had expected.
The afternoon was so rainy that there was no going out;
and, as for the tables, he was in a class of five, and â€œfour
times sevenâ€ did not come to him in regular course. Eight
times seven did, and he â€˜said â€œfifty-sixâ€ with great satis-
faction. Mr. Carnaby asked him afterwards the dreaded .
92 THE CROFTON BOYS.
question, but he was on his guard; and as he answered it
right, and the usher had noâ€˜ found out the joke, he hoped
he should hear no more of the matter.
The next Saturday was fine, and at last he was to have
the walk he longed for. The weekly repetitions were over
dinner was done, Mr. Carnaby appeared with his hat on, the
whole throng burst into the open air and out of bounds,
and the new boys were wild with expectation and delight.
When they had passed the churchyard and the green, and
were wading through the sandy road which led up to the
heath, Firth saw Hugh running and leaping hither and
thither, not knowing what to do with ais spirits, Firth
called him, and putting his arm round Hughâ€™s â€œeck, so as
to keep him prisoner, said he did not know how he might
want his strength before he got home, and he had better
not spend it on a bit of sandy road. So Hugh was made to
walk quietly, and gained his breath before the Deere heath
On the way, he saw that a boy of the name of Dale,
whom he had never particularly observed before, was a good
deal teased by some boys who kept crossing their hands
before them and curtseying like girls, talking in a mincing
way and calling one another Amelia, with great affectation.
Dale tried to get away, but he was followed, whichever way
â€˜What do they mean by that?â€ inquired Hugh of Firth
â€œ Dale has a sister at a school not far off, and her name is
Amelia; and she came to see him to-day, Ah! you have.
FIRST RAMBLE. 53
not found out yet that boys are laughed at about their sisters,
particularly if the girls have fine names.â€
â€œWhat a shame!â€ cried Hugh; words which he had used
very often already since he came to Crofton.
He broke from Firth, ran up to Dale, and said to him, in
a low voice, â€œI have two sisters, and one of them is called
â€œDonâ€™t let them come io see you, then, or these fellows
will quiz you as they do me. As if I could help having a
sister Amelia!â€ i
â€œWhy, you are not sorry for that? You would not wish
your sister dead, or not born, would you?â€ ;
â€œNo; but I wish she was not hereabouts: that is, I wish
she had not come up to the pales, with the maid-servant
behind her, for everybody to see. And then, when Mr,
Tooke sent us into the orchard together, some spies were
peeping over the wall at us all the time.â€
Â«I oe wish Agnes would come,â€ cried Hugh, â€œ and I
â€œAh! you think so now; but depend upon it, you would
like much better to see her at home. Why, her name is
finer than my sister's. I wonder what girls ever have such
names for !â€
â€œT donâ€™t see that these names are finer than some boysâ€™
names. Thereâ€™s Frazer, is not his name Colin? And then
thereâ€™s Hercules Fisticuffâ€”â€
â€œWhy, you knowâ€”to be sure you know that is a nick
name?â€ said Dale.
94Â° THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œTs it? I never thought of that,â€ seplied Hugh. â€œ What
is his real name?â€
â€œSamuel Jones. However, there is Colin Frazerâ€”and
Fry, his name is Augustus Adolphus; I will play them off the
next time they quiz Amelia. How old is your sister Agnes?â€
Then the two boys wandered off among the furze-bushes,
talking about their homes; and in a little while they had so
opened their hearts to each other, that they felt as if they
had always been friends. Nobody thought any more about
them when ofice the whole school was dispersed over the
heath. Some boys made for a hazel copse, some way
beyond the heath, in hopes of finding a few nuts already
ripe. Others had boats to float on the pond. A large
number played leap-frog, and some ran races, Mr. Carnaby
threw himself down on a soft couch of wild thyme, on a
rising ground, and took out his book. So Dale and Hugh
felt themselves unobserved, and they chatted away at a
great rate. Not but that an interruption or two did occur.
They fell in with a flock of geese, and Hugh did not much
like their appearance, never having heard a goose make a
noise before. He had eaten roast goose, and he had seen
geese in the feathers at the poulterersâ€™; but he had never
seen them alive, and stretching their necks at passengers.
He flinched at the first moment. Dale, who never imagined
that a boy who was not afraid of his schoolfellows could be
afraid of geese, luckily mistook the movement, and said,
â€œ Ay, get a switch,â€”a bunch of f*Â«ze will do, and we will
be rid of the noisy things.â€
FIRST RAMBLE. 95
He drove them away, and Hugh had now learned, for
ever, how much noise geese can make, and how little they
are :o be feared.
They soon came upon some creatures which were larger
= d stronger, and with which Hugh was no better acquainted.
Some cows were grazing, or had been grazing, till a party of
boys came up. They were now restless, moving uneasily
about. so that Dale himself hesitated for a moment which
way to go. Lamb was near,â€”the passionate boy, who was
nobodyâ€™s friend, and who was therefore seldom at play with
others. He was also something of a coward, as any one
might know from his frequent bullying. He and How
happened to be together at this time; and it was then
appearance of fright at the restless cows which frightened
Hugh. One cow at last began to trot towards them at a
pretty good rate. Lamb ran off to the right, and the two
little boys after him, though Dale pulled at Hughâ€™s hand to
make him stand still, as Dale chose to do himself. He
pulled in vainâ€”Hugh burst away, and off went the three
boys, over the hillocks and through the furze, the cow
trotting at some distance behind. They did not pause till
Lamb had led them off the heath into a deep lane, different
from the one by which they had come. The cow stopped
at a patch of green grass, just at the entrance of the hollow
way, and the runners therefore could take breath.
â€œNow we are here,â€ said Lamb, â€œI will show you-a nice
place,â€”-a place where we can get something nice. How
thirsty I am!â€
96 THE CROFTON BOYS,
And so am I,â€ declared Holt, smacking his dry tongue.
Hughâ€™s mouth was very dry too, between the run and the
â€œWell, then, come along with me, and I will show you,â€
Hugh thought they ought not to go farther from the heath,
but Lamb said they would get back by another way,â€”through
a gate belonging to a friend of his. They could not get
back the way they came, because the cow was there still.
He walked briskly on till they came to a cottage, over
whose door swung a sign; and on the sign was a painting
of a bottle and a glass, and a heap of things which were
probably meant for cakes, as there were cakes in the
window. Here Lamb turned in, and the woman seemed
to know him well. She smiled, and closed the door behind
the three boys, and asked them to sit down; but Lamb said .
there was no time for that to-day,â€”she must be quick. He
then told the boys that they would have some ginger-beer.
â€œBut may we?â€ asked the little boys.
â€œTo be sure; who is to prevent us? â€˜You shall see how
you like ginger-beer when you are thirsty.â€
The woman declared that it was the most wholesome
thing in the world; and if the young gentleman did not
find it so, she would never ask him to taste her ginger-beer
again. Hugh thanked them both, but he did not feel quite
comfortable. He looked at Holt, to find out what he
thought; but Holt was quite engrossed with watching the
woman untwisting the wire of the first bottle. The cork
FIRST RAMBLE. 97
did not fly: indeed, there was some difficulty in getting it
out; so Lamb waived his right, as the eldest, to drink first;
and the little boys were so long in settling which should
have it, that the little spirit there was had all gone off before
Hugh began to drink, and he did not find ginger-beer such
particularly good stuff as Lamb had said. He would have
liked a drink of water better. The next bottle was very
brisk, so Lamb seized upon it, and the froth hung round
08 THE CROFTON BOYS.
his mouth when he had done; but Holt was no better off
with his than Hugh had been. They were both urged to
try their luck again. Hugh would not; but Holt did once,
and Lamb two or three times. Then the woman offered
them some cakes upon a plate, and the little boys thanked
her, and took each one. Lamb put some in his pocket, and
advised the others to do the same, as they had no time to
spare. He kept some room in his pocket, however, for
some plums, and told the boys that they might carry theirs
in their handkerchiefs, or in their caps, if they would take
care to have finished before they came within sight of the
usher. He then asked the woman to let them out upon the
heath through her garden gate, and she said she certainly
would when they lad paid. She then stood drumming with
her fingers upon the table, and looking through the window,
as if waiting.
â€œCome, Proctor, you have half a crown,â€ said Lamb.
â€œ Out with it!â€
â€œMy half-crown!â€ exclaimed Proctor. â€œYou did not say
- I had anything to pay.â€
â€œAs if you did not know that, without my telling you!
You donâ€™t think people give away their good things, I
suppose! Come,â€”whereâ€™s your half-crown? My money is
all at home.â€
Holt had nothing with him either. Lamb asked the
woman what there was to pay. She seemed to count and
consider; and Holt told Hugh afterwards that he saw Lamb
wink at her. She then said that the younger gentlemen had
FIRST RAMBLE. 99
had the most plums and cakes. The charge was a shilling
apiece for them, and sixpence for Master Lambâ€”half a
crown exactly. Hugh protested he never meant anything
like this, and that he wanted part of his half-crown to buy a
comb with; and he would have emptied out the cakes and
fruit he had left, but the woman stopped him, saying that
she never took back what she had sold. Lamb hurried him
too, declaring that their time was up; and he even thrust
his finger and thumb into Hughâ€™s inner pocket, and took
out the half-crown, which he gave to the woman. He was
sure that Hugh could wait for his comb till Holt paid him,
and the woman said she did not see that any more combing
was wanted, the young gentlemanâ€™s hair looked so pretty as
it was. She then showed them through the garden, and
gave them each a marigold full blown. .She unlocked her
gate, pushed them through, locked it behind them, and left
them to hide their purchases as well as they could. Though
the little boys stuffed their pockets till the ripest plums
burst, and wetted the linings, they could not dispose of
â€˜them all, and they were obliged to give away a good
Hugh went in search of his new friend, and drew him
aside from the rest to relate his troubles. Dale wondered
he had not found out Lamb before this, enough to refuse
to follow his lead. Lamb would never pay a penny. He
always spent the little money he had upon good things, the
first day or two; and then he got what he could out of any
one who was silly enough to trust him,
100 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œ But,â€ said Hugh, â€œthe only thing we had to do with
each other before was by my being kind to him.â€
â€œThat makes no difference,â€ said Dale.
â€œ But what a bad boy he must be! To be sure, he will
pay me, when he knows how much I want a comb.â€
â€œHe will tell you to buy it out of your five shillings. You
let him know you had , five shillings in Mrs. Watsonâ€™s
â€œVes; but he knows how I mean to spend that,â€”for
presents to: carry home at Christmas. But Iâ€™ll never tell
him anything.again. Oh, Dale! do you really think he will
never pay me?â€
â€œ He never pays anybody; that is all I know. Come,â€”
forget it all, as fast as you can. Let us go and see if we can
get any nuts,â€
Hugh did not at all succeed in his endeavours to forget
his adventure. The more he thought about it, the worse it
seemed ; and the next time he spoke to Holt, and told him
to remember that he owed him a shilling, Holt said he did
not know that,â€”he did not mean to spend a shilling; and
it was clear that it was only his fear of Hughâ€™s speaking to
â€œMrs. Watson or the usher that prevented his saying outright
that he should not pay it. Hugh felt very hot, and bit*his
lip to make his voice steady when he told Dale, on the way
home, that he did not believe he should ever see any part
of his halfcrown again. Dale thought so too; but he ad-
vised him to do nothing more than keep the two debtors up
ta the remembrance of their debt. If he told so powerful a
FIRST RAMBLE. 101
person as Firth, it would be almost as much tale-telling as
if he went to the master at once; and Hugh himself had
no inclination to expose his folly to Phil, who was already
quite sufficiently ashamed of his inexperience. So poor
Hugh threw the last of his plums to some cottagerâ€™s chil- .
dren on the green, on his way home; and, when he set foot
within bounds again, he heartily wished that this Saturday
afternoon had been rainy too, for any disappointment would
have been better than this scrape.
While learning his lessons for Monday, he forgot the whole
matter ; and then he grew merry over the great Saturday
nightâ€™s washing; but after he was in bed, it flashed upon
him that he should meet Uncle and Aunt Shaw in church to-
morrow, and they would speak to Phil and him after church,
and his uncle might ask after the half-crown. He determined
not to expose his companions, at any rate; but his uncle
would be displeased; andâ€™ this thought was so sad that
Hugh cried himself to sleep. His uncle and aunt were at
church the next morning ; and Hugh could not forget the
ginger-beer, or help watching his uncle; so that, though he
tried several times to-attend to the sermon, he knew nothing
about it when it was done. His uncle observed in the
chutchyard that they must have had a fine ramble the day
- before; but did not say anything about pocket-money.
Neither did he name a day for his nephews to visit him,
though he said they must come before the days grew much
shorter, So Hugh thought he had got off very well thus far.
In the afternoon, however, Mrs. Watson, who invited him
102 â€˜THE CROFTON BOYS.
and Holt into her parlour, to look over the pictures in her
great Bible, was rather surprised to find how little Hugh
could tell her of the sermon, considering how much he had
remembered the Sunday before. She had certainly thought
that to-dayâ€™s sermon had been the simpler, and more inte-
resting to young people, of the two. Her conversation with
Hugh did him good, however. It reminded him of his
motherâ€™s words, and of her expectations from him ; and it
made him resolve to bear, not only his loss, but any blame _
which might come upon hin, silently and without betraying
anybody. He had already determined, fifty times within
the twenty-four hours, never to be so weakly. led again, when
his own mind was doubtful, as he had felt it all the time
from leaving the heath to getting back to itagain. He began
to reckon on the Christmas holidays, when he should have
five weeks at home, free from the evils of both places,â€”
from lessons with Miss Harold, and from Crofton scrapes.
It is probable that the whole affair would have passed over
quietly, and the woman in the lane might have made large
profits by other inexperienced boys, and Mr. Carnaby might
have gone on being careless as to where the boys went out
of his sight on Saturdays, but that Tom Holt ate too many
plums on the present occasion. On Sunday morning he was
not well; and was so ill by the evening, and all Monday,
that he had to be regularly nursed ; and when he left his
bed, he was taken to Mrs. Watsonâ€™s parlour,â€”-the comfort-
able, quiet place where invalid boys enjoyed themselves.
Poor Holt was in very low spirits; and Mrs. Watson was so
FIRST RAMBLE. 103
kind that he could not help telling her that he owed a shilling,
and he did not know how he should ever pay it; and that
Hugh Proctor, who had been his friend till now, seemed on
. asudden much more fond of Dale; and this made it harder
~ to be in debt to him.
The wet, smeared lining of the pockets had told Mrs,
Watson already that there had been some improper indul-
gence in good things; and when she heard what part Lamb
had played towards the little boys, she thought it right to tell
Mr. Tooke. Mr. Tooke said nothing till Holt was in the
school again, which was on Thursday; and not then till the
little boys had said their lessons, at past eleven oâ€™clock. They
were drawing on their slates, and Lamb was still mumbling
over his book, without getting on, when the masterâ€™s awful
voice was heard, calling up before him Lamb, little Proctor,
and Holt. All three started, and turned red; so that the
104 THE CROFTON BOYS.
school concluded them guilty before it was known what they
were charged with. Dale knew,â€”and he alone; and very
sorry he was, for the intimacy between Hugh and him had
grown very close indeed since Saturday.
The master was considerate towards the younger boys.
He made Lamb tell the whole. Even when the cowardly
lad â€œbellowedâ€ (as his schoolfellows called his usual mode
of crying) so that nothingâ€™ else could be heard, Mr. Tooke
waited, rather than question the other two. When the whole
story was extracted, in all its shamefulness, from Lambâ€™s own
lips, the master expressed his disgust. He said nothing about
the money part of itâ€”about how Hugh was to be paid. He
probably thought it best for the boys to take the conse
â€œquences of their folly in losing their money. He handed
the little boys over to Mr. Carnaby to be canedâ€”â€œTo
make them remember,â€ as he said; though they themselves
were pretty sure they should never forget. Lamb was kept
to be punished by the master himself. Though Lamb knew
he should be severely flogged, and though he was the most
cowardly boy in the school, he did not suffer so much as
Hugh did in the prospect of being canedâ€”being punished
at all. Phil, who knew his brotherâ€™s face well, saw, as he
passed down the room, how miserable he wasâ€”too miserable
to cry; and Phil pulled him by the sleeve, and whispered
that being caned was nothing to mindâ€”only a stroke or two
across the shoulders. Hugh shook his head, as much as to
say, â€œIt is not that.â€
Noâ€”it was not the pain. It was the being punished in
LAIRST RAMBLE. 105
open school, and when he did not feel that he deserved it.
How should he know where Lamb was taking him? How
should he know that the ginger-beer was to be paid for,
and that he was to pay? He felt himself injured enough
already; and now to be punished in addition! He would
have died on the spot for liberty to tell Mr. Tooke and
everybody what he thought of the way he was treated. He
had felt his mother hard sometimes; but what had she ever
done to him compared with this? It was well he thought
of his mother. At the first moment, the picture of home in
his mind nearly made him cryâ€”the thing of all others he
most wished to avoid while so many eyes were on him; but â€”
the remembrance of what his mother expected of himâ€”her
look when she told him he must not failâ€”gave him courage.
Hard as it was to be, as he believed, unjustly punished, it
was better than having done anything very wrongâ€”anything
that he really could not have told his mother.
Mr. Carnaby foresaw that a rebuke was in store for him
for his negligence during the walk on Saturday; and this
anticipation did not sweeten his mood. He kept the little
boys waiting, though Holt was trembling very much, and still
weak from his illness. It occurred to the usher that another
person might be made uncomfortable, and he immediately
acted on the idea. He had observed how fond of one another
Dale and Hugh had become; and he thought he would
plague Dale a little. He therefore summoned him, and
desired him to go and bring him a switch, to cane these
106 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œT have broken my cane; so bring mea stout switch,â€
said he. â€œBring me one out of the orchard; one that will
lay on wellâ€”one that will not break with a good hard stroke;
â€”mind what I sayâ€”one that will not break.â€
â€œYes, sir,â€ replied Dale, readily ; and he went as if he was
not at all unwilling.
Holt shivered. Hugh never moved.
It was long, very long, before Dale returned. When he
did, be brought a remarkably stout broomstick.
â€œThis wonâ€™t-break, I think, sir,â€ said he.
The boys giggled. Mr. Carnaby knuckled Daleâ€™s head as
he asked him if he called that a switch.
â€œBring me a switch,â€ said he. â€œOne that is not too
stout, or else it will not sting. It must sting, remember,â€”
sting well. Not too stout, remember.â€
â€œYes, sir,â€ said Dale; and away he went again.
He was now gone-yet longer ; and by the time he returned
~ everybody's eyes were fixed on the door, to see what sort of
a switch would next appear. Dale entered, bringing a straw.
â€œT think this will not be too stout, sir,â€
Everybody laughed but Hughâ€”even Holt.
There was that sneer about Mr. Carnabyâ€™s nose which
made everybody sorry now for Dale; but everybody started,
Mr. Carnaby and all, at Mr. Tookeâ€™s voice, close at hand.
How much he had seen and heard there was no knowing;
but it was enough to make him look extremely stern.
â€œ Are these boys not caned yet, Mr. Carnaby?â€
â€œNo, sir;â€”-I have notâ€”Iâ€”â€”â€
FIRST RAMBLE. 107
â€œ Have they been standing here all this while?â€
â€œVes, sir. I have no cane, sir. I have been sending
â€œT ordered them an immediate caning, Mr. Carnaby, and
not mental torture. School is up,â€ he declared to the boys
at large. â€˜You may goâ€”you have been punished enough,â€
108 THE CROFTON BOYS.
he said to the little boys. â€œMr. Carnaby, have the goodness
to remain a moment.â€
And the large room was speedily emptied of all but the
master, the usher, and poor Lamb.
â€œThe usher will catch it now,â€ observed some boys, as
the master himself shut the door behind them. â€œ He will
get well paid for his spite.â€
â€œWhat will be done to him?â€ asked Hugh of Dale, whom
he loved fervently for having saved him from punishment.
â€œOh, I donâ€™t know; and I donâ€™t careâ€”though he was
just going to give my head some sound raps against the
wall, if Mr. Tooke had not come up at the moment.â€
â€œBut what wz// be done to Mr. Carnaby?
â€œNever mind what; he won't be here jong, they say.
Fisher says there is another coming; and Carnaby is here
only till that other is at liberty.â€
This was good news, if true, and Hugh ran off, quite in
spirits, to play. He had set himself diligently to learn to
play, and would not be driven off; and Dale had insisted
on fair scope for him. He played too well to be objected
to any more. They now went to leap-frog; and when too
hot to keep it up any longer, he and Dale mounted into the
apple-tree to talk, while they were cooling and expecting the
Something happened very wonderful before dinner. The
gardener went down to the main road, and seemed to be
looking out. At last he hailed the London coach. Hugh
and Dale could see from their perch. The coach stopped,
FIRST RAMBLE. Â» 109
the gardener ran back, met Mr. Carnaby under the chestnuts,
relieved him of his portmanteau, and helped him to mount
the coach. . :
â€œTs he going? Gone for good?â€ passed from mouth to
mouth all over the playground. â€˜
â€œGone for good,â€ was the answer of those who knew to
a certainty. !
The boys set up first a groan, so loud chat perhaps the
departing usher heard it. Then they gave a shout of joy, in
which the little boys joined with all their mightâ€” Hugh
waving his cap in the apple-tree.
WHAT IS ONLY TO BE HAD AT HOME.
Huceu got on far better with his lessons as he grew more
intimate with Dale. It was not so much that Dale helped
him with his grammar and construing (for Dale thought
every boy should make shift to do his own business) as that
he liked to talk about his work, even with a younger boy,
and so, as he said, clear his head.
was above Hughâ€™s comprehension, and much of his repeti-
tions mere words; but there were other matters which fixed
Hughâ€™s attention, and proved to him that study might be
interesting out of school. When Dale had a theme to write,
the two boys often walked up and down the playground for
half an hour together, talking the subject over, and telling
of anything they had heard or read upon it. Hugh presently
learned the names and the meanings of the different parts
of atheme, and he could sometimes help with an illustration
or.example, though he left it to his friend to-lay down
WHAT IS ONLY TO BE HAD AT HOME. 111
the Proposition, and search out the Confirmation. Daleâ€™s
nonsense-verses were perfect nonsense to Hugh, but his
construing was not; and when he went over it aloud, for
the purpose of fixing his lesson in his ear, as well as his
mind, Hugh was sorry when they arrived at the end, and
eager to know what came next,â€”particularly if they had to
stop in the middle of a story of Ovid's. Every week, almost
every day now, made a great difference in Hughâ€™s school
life. He still found his lessons very hard work, and was
often in great fear and pain about them; but he continually
perceived new light breaking in upon his mind: his memory
served him better; the little he had learned came when he
wanted it, instead of just a minute too late. He rose in the
morning with less anxiety about the day, and when playing,
could forget school.
There was no usher yet in Mr. Carnabyâ€™s place, and all
the boys said their lessons to Mr. Tooke himself, which
Hugh liked very much when he had got over the first fear.
A writing-master came from a distance twice a week, when
the whole school was at writing and arithmetic all the after-
noon, but every other lesson was said to the master; and
this was likely to go on till Christmas, as the new usher, of
whom, it was said, Mr. Tooke thought so highly as to choose
to wait for him, could not come before that time. Of course,
with so much upon his hands, Mr. Tooke had not-a moment
to spare; and slow or idle boys were sent back to their
desks at the first trip or hesitation in their lessons. Hugh
was afraid, at the outset, that he should be like poor Lamb,
Â£12 THE CROFTON BOYS.
who never got a whole lesson said during these weeks, and
he was turned down sometimes, but not often enough to
depress him. He learned to trust more to his ear and his
memory; his mind became excited, as in playing a game;
and he found he got through, he scarcely knew how. His
feeling of fatigue afterwards proved to him that this was
harder work than he had ever done at home, but he did not
feel it so at the time. When he could learn a lesson in ten
minutes, and say it in one; when he began to use Latin
phrases in his â€˜private thoughts, and saw the meaning of a
rule of syntax, so as to be able to find a fresh example out
of his own head, he felt himself really a Crofton boys and
his heart grew light within him.
The class to which Hugh belonged was one day standing
waiting to be heard, when the master was giving a subject
and directions for an English theme to Daleâ€™s class. The
subject was the Pleasures of Friendship. In a moment
Hugh thought of Damon and Pythias, and of David and
Jonathan,â€”of the last of whom there was a picture in Mrs,
Watsonâ€™s great Bible. He thought how happy he had been
since he had known Dale, and his heart was in such a glow,
he was sure he could write a theme. He ran after Mr.
Tooke when school was over, and asked whether he might
write a theme with Daleâ€™s class) When Mr. Tooke found.
he knew what was meant by writing a theme, he said he
might try, if he neglected nothing for it, and wrote every
word of it himself, without consultation with any one.
Hugh scampered away to tell Dale that they must not
WHAT IS ONLY TO BE HAD AT HOME. 113
talk over this theme together, as they were both to do it;
and then, instead of playing, he went to his desk, and wrote
upon his slate till it was quite full. He had to borrow two
slates before he had written all he had to say. Phil ruled
his paper for him, but before he had copied one page, his
neighbours wanted their slates back again,â€”said they must
have them, and rubbed out all he had written. Much of the
little time he had was lost in this way, and he grew wearied.
He thought at first that his theme would be very beautiful,
but he now began to doubt whether it would be worth any-
thing at all; and he was vexed to have tired himself with
doing what would only make him laughed at. The first
page was well written out,â€”the Confirmation being properly
separated from the Proposition ; but he had to write all the
latter part directly from his head upon the paper, as the
slates were taken away, and he forgot to separate the Con-
clusion from the Inference.
He borrowed a penknife, and tried to scratch out half a
line; but he only made a hole in the paper, and was obliged
to let the line stand. Then he found he had strangely for-
gotten to put in the chief thing of all,â€”about friends telling
one another of their faults,â€”though, on consideration, he
was not sure that this was one of the Pleasures of Friend-
ship; so, perhaps, it did not much matter. But there were
two blots, and he had left out Jonathanâ€™s name, which had
to be interlined. Altogether, it had the appearance of a very
bad theme. Firth came and looked over his shoulder, as
he was gazing at it, and Firth offered to write it out for him;
114 THE CROFTON BOYS.
and even thought it wouldâ€™ be fair, as he had had nothing to -
do with the composition; but Hugh could not think it would
be fair, and said, sighing, that his must take its chance. He
did not think he could have done a theme so very badly.
Mr. Tooke beckoned him up with Daleâ€™s class, when they
catried up their themes, and, seeing how red his face was,
the master bade him not be afraid. But how could he help
being afraid? The themes were not read directly. It was
Mr. Tookeâ€™s practice to read them out of school hours,
On this oceasion, judgment was given the last thing before
school broke up the next morning.
Hugh had never been more astonished in his life. Mr.
Tooke praised his theme very much, and said it had sur-
prised him. He did not mind the blots and mistakes, which
would, he said, have been great faults in a copy-book, but
were of less consequence than other things in a theme.
Time and pains would correct slovenliness of that kind, and
the thoughts and language were good. Hugh was almost
out of his wits with delight; so nearly so that he spoiled his
own pleasure completely. He could not keep his happiness
to himself, or his vanity; for Hugh had a good deal of
vanity,â€”more than he was aware of before this day. He
told several boys what Mr. Tooke had said, but he soon
found that would not do. Some were indifferent, but most
laughed at him. Then he ran to Mrs. Watsonâ€™s parlour and
knocked. Nobody answered, for the room was empty; so
Hugh sought her in various places, and at last found her in
the kitchen, boiling some preserves.
WHAT IS ONLY TO BE HAD AT HOME, 1158
â€œWhat do you come here for? This is no place for you,â€
said she, when the maids tried in vain to put Hugh out. .
â€œT only want to tell you one thing,â€ cried Hugh; and he
repeated exactly what Mr. Tooke had said of his theme.
WRITING THE THEME,
Mrs. Watson laughed, and the maids laughed, and Hugh
left them, angry with them, but more angry with himself.
They did not care for him,â€”nobody cared for him, he said
to himself; he longed for his motherâ€™s look of approbation
when he had done well, and Agnesâ€™ pleasure, and even
Susanâ€™s fondness and praise. He sought Dale. Dale was
. in the midst of a game, and had not a word or look to spare .
till it was over. The boys would have admitted Hugb. for
116 THE CROFTON BOYS.
he could now play as well as anybody; but he was in no
mood for play now. He climbed his tree, and satâ€™ there,
stinging his mind with the thought of his having carried his
boastings into the kitchen, and with his recollection of Mrs.
It often happened that Firth and Hugh met at this tree,
and it happened now. There was room for both, and Firth
mounted, and read for some time. At last he seemed to
be struck by Hughâ€™s restlessness and heavy sighs; and he
asked whether he had not got something to amuse himself '
â€œNo, I donâ€™t want to amuse myself,â€ said Hugh, stretching
so as almost to throw himself out of the tree.
â€œWhy, whatâ€™s the matter? Did not you come off well
with your theme? I heard somebody say you were quite
enough set up about it.â€
â€˜â€œâ€˜Where is the use of doing a thing well, if nobody cares
about it?â€ said Hugh. â€œf donâ€™t believe anybody at Crofton
cares a bit about meâ€”cares whether I get on well or illâ€”
except Dale. If I take pains and succeed, they only laugh
â€œAh! you donâ€™t understand school and schoolboys yet,â€
replied Firth, â€œTo do a difficult lesson well is a grand
affair at home, and the whole house knows of it. But it is
the commonest thing in the world here. If you learn to feel
with these boys, instead of expecting them to feel with you
(which they cannot possibly do), you will soon find that they
care for you accordingly.â€
WHAT IS ONLY 10 BE HAD AT HOME. 117
Hugh shook his head.
â€œYou will find in every school in England,â€ continued
Firth, â€œthat it is not the way of boys to talk about feelings
--about anybodyâ€™s feelings. That is the reason why they
do not mention their sisters or their mothersâ€”except when
two confidential friends are together, in a tree, or by them-
selves in the meadows. But, as sure as ever a boy is full of
actionâ€”if he tops the rest at playâ€”holds his tongue, or
helps others generouslyâ€”or shows a manly spirit without â€”
being proud of it, the whole school is his friend. You have
done well, so far, by growing more and more sociable, but
you will lose ground if you boast about your lessons out of
school. To prosper at Crofton you must put off home, and
make yourself a Crofton boy.â€
â€œJ donâ€™t care about that,â€ said Hugh. â€œTI give it all up.
There is nothing but injustice here.â€
â€œNothing but injustice! Pray, am I unjust?â€
â€˜Noâ€”not youâ€”not so far. Butâ€”â€”â€
â€œTs Mr. Tooke unjust?â€
â€˜Pray how, and when?â€
â€œ He has been so unjust to me, that if it nad not been for
something, I could not have borne it. Iam not going to
tell you what that something is: only you need not be afraid
but that I can bear everything. If the whole world was
against me â€
â€œWell, never mind what that something is; but tell me
how Mr. Tooke is unjust to you.â€
118 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œHe punished me when I did not deserve it; and he
praised me when I did not deserve it. I was cheated and
injured that Saturday; and, instead of seeing me righted,
Mr. Tooke ordered me to be punished. And to-day, when
my theme was so badly done that I made sure of being
blamed, he praised me.â€
â€œThis might be injustice at home,â€ replied Firth, â€œbecause
parents know, or ought to know, all that is in their childrenâ€™s
minds, and exactly what their children can do. A school-
â€œmaster can judge only by what he sees. Mr. Tooke does
not know yet that you could have done your theme better
than you didâ€”as your mother would have known. When
he finds you can do better, he will not praise such a theme
again. Meantime, how you can boast of his praise, if you
think it unjust, is the wonder to me.â€
â€œSo it is to me now. I wish I had never asked to do
that theme at all,â€ cried Hugh, again stretching himself
to get rid of his shame. â€œ But why did Mr. Tooke order me
to be caned? Why did he not make Lamb and Holt pay
me what they owe? I was injured before; and he injured
â€œYou were to be caned because you left the heath and
entered a house, without leaveâ€”not because you had been
cheated of your money.â€
â€œBut I did not know where I was going. I never meant
to enter a house.â€
â€œ â€œBut you did both; and what you suffered will prevent
your letting yourself be led into such a scrape again. As
WHAT IS ONLY TO BE HAD AT HOME, 119
for the money part of the matterâ€”a school is to boys what
the world is when they become men. They must manage
their own affairs among themselves. T he difference is, that
here is the master to be applied to, if we choose, He will
advise you about your money, if you choose to ask him; but
for my part, I would rather put up with the loss, if I were
â€œ* Nobody will ever understand what I mean about justice,â€
â€œSuppose,â€ said Firth, â€œwhile you are complaining o.
injustice in this way, somebody else should be complaining
in the same way of your injustice.â€
â€œNobody canâ€”â€”fairly,â€ replied Hugh.
â€œDo you see that poor fellow, skulking there under the
â€œYes, Holt. I fancy the thought in his mind at this
moment is that you are the most unjust person at Crofton.â€
â€œYes; so he thinks. When you first came, you and he
were companions. You found comfort in each other while
all the rest were strangers to you. You were glad to hear,
by the hour together, what he had to tell you about India,
and his voyages and travels. Now he feels himself lonely
and forsaken, while he sees you happy with a friend. He
thinks it hard that you should desert him because he owes
you a shilling, when he was cheated quite as much as
1200 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œBecause he owes me a shilling!â€ cried Hugh, starting to
his-feet, â€œas if 2
Once more he had nearly fallen from his perch. Firth
caught him; and then asked him how Holt should think
otherwise than as he did, since Hugh had been his constant
companion up to that Saturday afternoon, and had hardly
spoken to him since.
Hugh protested that the shilling had nothing to do with
the matter; and he never meant to take more than sixpence
from Holt, because he thought Lamb was the one who
ought to pay the shilling. The thing was, he did not, and
could not, likeâ€™ Holt half so well as Dale. He could not
make a friend of Holt, because he wanted spiritâ€”he had no
courage. What could he do? He could not pretend to be
intimate with Holt when he did not like him; and if he
explained that the shilling had nothing to do with the matter,
he could not explain how it really was, when the fault was in
the boyâ€™s character, and not in his having given any par-
ticular offence. What could he do?
Firth thought he could only learn not to expect, anywhere
out of the bounds of home, what he thought justice. He
must, of course, try himself to be just to everybody; but he
must make up his mind in school, as men have to do in the
world, to be misunderstoodâ€”to be wrongly valued; to be
blamed when he felt himself the injured one, and praised
when he knew he did not deserve it.
â€œBut it is so hard,â€ said Hugh.
WHAT IS ONLY TO BE HAD AT HOME, 121
â€˜And what do people leave home for but to learn hard
â€œ But still, if it were not for. â€
â€œFor what? Do you see any comfort under it?â€ asked
Firth, fixing his eyes on Hugh.
Hugh nodded, without speaking.
â€œThat One understands us who cannot be unjust?â€
whispered Firth. â€œJI am glad you feel that.â€
â€œEven home would be bad enough without that,â€ said
Hugh. â€œAnd what would school be?â€
â€œOr the world?â€ added Firth. â€˜But do not get cross,
and complain again. Leave that to those who have no
Hugh nodded again. Then he got down, and ran to tell
Holt that he did not want a shillling from him, because he
thought sixpence would be fairer.
Holt was glad to hear this at first; but he presently said
that it did not much matter, for that he had no more chance
of being able to pay sixpence than a shilling. His parents
were in India, and his uncle never offered him any money.
He knew indeed that his uncle had none to spare; for he
had said in the boyâ€™s hearing, that it was hard on him to
have to pay the school bills (unless he might pay them in
the produce of his farm), so long as it must be before he
could be repaid from India. So Holt did not dare to ask
for pocket-money ; and for the hundredth time he sighed
over his debt. He had almost left off hoping that Hugh
would excuse him altogether, though everybody knew that
122 THE CROFTON BOYS.
Hugh had five shillings in Mrs. Watsonâ€™s hands. This fact,
and Hughâ€™s frequent applications to Lamb for payment, had
caused an impression that Hugh was fond of money. It was
not so; and yet the charge was not unfair. Hugh was ready
to give if properly asked; but he did not relish, and could .
not bear with temper, the injustice of such a forced borrow-
ing as had stripped him of his half-crown. He wanted his five
shillings for presents for his family; and for these reasons,
and not because he was miserly, he did not offer to excuse
Holtâ€™s debt, which it would have been more generous to
have done. Nobody could wish that he should excuse
â€œWhen are you going to your uncleâ€™s?â€ asked Holt. â€œI
suppose you ave going some day before Christmas.â€
â€œOn Saturday, to stay till Sunday night,â€ said Hugh.
â€˜And Proctor goes too, I suppose?â€
â€œVes, of course, Phil goes too.â€
â€œ Anybody else?â€
â€œWe are each to take one friend, just for Saturday, to
come home at night.â€
â€œOh, then you-will take me? You said you would.â€
â€œDid I? That must have been a long time ago.â€
â€œBut you did say soâ€”that, whenever you went, you would
ask leave to take me.â€
â€˜I donâ€™t remember any such thing. And I am going to
take Dale this time. I have promised him.â€
Holt cried with vexation. Dale was always in his way.
Hugh cared for nobody but Dale; but Dale should not go
WHAT 1S ONLY Â£0 BE HAD AT HOME, 124
to Mr. Shawâ€™s till he had had his turn. He had been
promised first, and he would go first. He would speak
to Mrs. Watson, and get leave to go and tell Mr. Shaw,
and then he was sure Mr. Shaw would let him go.
Hugh was very uncomfortable. He really could not
remember having made this promise, but he could not be
sure that he had not. He asked Holt if he thought he
should like to be in peopleâ€™s way, to spoil the holiday by
going where he was not wished for; but this sort of re-
monstrance did not comfort Holt at all. Hugh offered
124 THE CROFTON BOYS.
that he should have the very next turn, if he would give
â€œT dare say! And when will that be? You know on
Sunday it will want only nineteen days to the holidays, and
you will not be going to your uncleâ€™s again this half-year.
A pretty way of putting me off!â€
Then, as if a sudden thought had struck him, he cried,
* But Proctor has to take somebody.â€
â€œVes; Phil takes Tooke. They settled that a week ago.â€
â€œOh, cat t you ask him to take me?â€
â€œNo, I shall not meddle with Phil. Besides, I am glad
he has chosen Tooke. Tooke behaved well to me about
the sponge that day. Tooke has some spirit.â€
This put Holt in mind of the worst of his adventures
since he came to Crofton, and of all the miseries of being
shunned as a tell-tale. He cried so bitterly as to touch
Hughâ€™s heart. As if thinking aloud, Hugh told him that
he seemed very forlorn, and that he wished he would find
a friend to be intimate with. This would make him so
much happier as he had no idea of; as he himself had
found since he had had Dale for a friend.
This naturally brought out a torrent of reproaches, which
was followed by a hot argument; Holt insisting that Hugh
ought to have been his intimate friend, and Hugh asking
how he could make a friend of a boy who wanted spirit.
They broke away from one another at last, Hugh declaring
Holt to be unreasonable and selfish, and Holt es
Hugh cruel and insulting,
WHAT IS ONLY TO BE FAD AT HOME, 125
Of course Mrs, Watson would not hear of Holtâ€™s going to
Mr. Shaw, to ask for an invitation for Saturday. He was
told he must wait till another time.. It was no great conso-
lation to Holt that on Sunday it would want only nineteen
days to the holidays, for he was to remain at Crofton. He
hoped to like the holidays better than school-days, and to
be petted by Mrs, Watson, and to sit by the fire, instead of
being forced into the playground in all weathers; but still
he could not look forward to Christmas with the glee which
other boys felt.
A LONG DAY.
Hucu, meantime, was counting the hours till Saturday.
Perhaps, if the truth were known, so was Phil, though he
was too old to acknowledge such a longing. But the climb-
ing about the mill,â€”the play encouraged there by his uncle
and the men,â€”his uncleâ€™s stories within doors, his auntâ€™s
good dinners,â€”the fireside, the picture-books, the talk of
home, altogether made up the greatest treat of the half-year.
Phil had plenty of ways of passing the time. Hugh began
along letter home,â€”the very last letter, except the short
formal one which should declare when the Christmas vaca-
tion should commence. Hugh meant to write half the
letter before Saturday, and then fill it up with an account of
his visit to his uncleâ€™s.
The days were passed, however, when Hugh had the
command of his leisure time, as on his arrival, when his
hours were apt to hang heavy. He had long since become
A LONG DAY. 127
too valuable in the playground to be left to follow his own |
devices. As the youngest boy, he was looked upon as a
sort of servant to the rest, when once it was found that he
was quick and clever. Either as scout, messenger, or in
some such capacity, he was continually wanted; and often
at times inconvenient to himself. He then usually remem-
bered what Mr. Tooke had told him of his boy, when Tooke
was the youngest,â€”how he bore thingsâ€”not only being put
on the high wall, but being well worked in the service of
the older boys. Usually Hugh was obliging, but he could
and did feel cress at times. He was cross on this Fridayâ€”
the day when he was so anxious to write his letter before
â€œgoing to his uncleâ€™s. On Saturday there would be no time.
The early mornings were dark now, and after school he
should have to wash: and dress, and be off to his uncleâ€™s,
On Friday then, his paper was ruled, and he had only to run
across the playground to borrow Firthâ€™s penknife, and then
nothing should delay his letter.
In that run across the playground he was stopped. He
was wanted to collect clean snow for the boys who were
bent on finishing their snow man while it would bind. He
should be let off when he had brought snow enough. But
he knew that by that time his fingers would be too stiff to
hold his pen, and he said he did not choose to stop now.
Upon this Lamb launched a snowball in his face. Hugh
grew angry,â€” or, as his schoolfellows said, insolent. Some
stood between him and the house, to prevent his getting
home, while others promised to roll him in the snow till he
128 THE CROFTON BOYS.
yielded full submission. Instead of yielding, Hugh made
for the orchard wall, scrambled up it, and stood for the
moment out of reach of his enemies. He kicked down such .
a quantity of snow upon any one who came near, that he
held all at bay for some little time. At last, however, he
had disposed of all the snow within his reach, and they were
pelting him thickly with snowballs. It was not at any time
very easy to stand upright for long together upon this wall,
as the stones which capped it were rounded. Now, when
the coping-stones were slippery after the frost, and Hugh
nearly blinded with the shower of snowballs, he could not
keep his footing, and was obliged to sit astride upon the wall.
This brought one foot within reach from below;-and though
Hugh kicked, and drew up his foot as far and as often as he
could, so as not to lose his balance, it was snatched at by
many hands. At last one hand kept its hold, and plenty
more then fastened upon his leg. They pulledâ€”he clung.
In another moment, down he came; and the large heavy
coping-stone, loosened by the frost, came after him, and fell
upon his left foot as he lay. ;
It was a dreadful shriek that he gave. Mrs. Watson heard
it in her store-room, and Mr. Tooke in his study. Some
labourers felling a tree in a wood, a quarter of a mile off,
heard it, and came running to see what could be the matter.
The whole school was in a cluster round the poor boy ina
few seconds. During this time, while several were engaged
in lifting away the stone, Tooke stooped over him, and said,
with his lips as white as paper,
A LONG DAY. 129
â€œWho was it that pulled you,â€”that got the first hold of
you? WasitIy Oh! say it was not I.â€
~ â€œTt was you,â€ said Hugh. â€œ But never mind! You didâ€™ not
- HUGH MEETS WITH AN ACCIDENT
mean it.â€â€”He saw that Tookeâ€™s pain was worse than his
own, and he added, in a faint whisper,â€˜ Donâ€™t you tell, and
then nobody will know. Mind you donâ€™t!â€
One boy after another turned away from the sight of He
foot, when the stone was removed. Tooke fainted, but, then,
130 THE CROFTON BOYS.
so did another boy who had nothing to do with the matter.
Everybody who came up asked who did it; and nobody
could answer. Tooke did not hear; and so many felt them
selves concerned, that no one wished that any answer should
â€œWho did it, my dear boy?â€ asked Firth, bending ove!
â€œNever mind!â€ was all-Hugh could say. He groaned in
terrible pain. .
He must: not lie there; but who could touch him? Firth
did, and he was the right person, as he was one of the
strongest. He made two boys pass their handkerchiefs
under the leg, and sling it, without touching it, and he lifted
Hugh, and carried him across his arms towards the house.
They met Mr. Tooke, and every person belonging to the
household, before they reached the door.
â€œTo my bed!â€ said the master, when he saw, and in an
instant the gardener had his orders to saddle Mr. Tookeâ€™s
horse, and ride to London for an eminent surgeon, stopping
by the way to beg Mr. and Mrs. Shaw to come, and bring
with them the surgeon who was their neighbour, Mr. An-
â€œWho did it?â€ â€˜Who pulled him down?â€ passed from
mouth to mouth of the household.
â€œHe wonâ€™t tellâ€”noble fellow,â€ cried Firth. â€˜ Donâ€™t ask
him. Never ask him who pulled him down. You will -
never repent it, my dear boy,â€ whispered Firth.
. Hugh tried to smile, but he could not help groaning
A LONG DAY. 131
again. â€˜There was a suppressed groan from some one else.
It was from Mr. Tooke. Hugh was sadly afraid he had, by
some means, found out who did the mischief. But it was
not so. Mr. Tooke was quite wretched enough without that.
Everybody was very kind, and did the best that could be
done. Hugh was held up on the side of Mr. Tookeâ€™s bed,
while Mrs, Watson took off his clothes, cutting the left side
of his trousers to pieces without any hesitation. The master
held the leg firmly while the undressing went on; and then
poor Hugh was laid back, and covered up warm, while the
foot was placed on a pillow, with only a light handkerchief
thrown over it.
It was terrible to witness his pain, but Mr. Tooke never
left him all day. He chafed his hands, he gave him drink,
he told him he had no doubt his mother would arrive soon,
he encouraged him to say or do anything that he thought
would give-him ease.
â€œCry, my dear,â€ he said, â€œif you want to cry. Do not
hide tears from me.â€ :
â€œT canâ€™t help crying,â€ sobbed Hugh ; â€œbut it is not the
painâ€”not only the pain; it is because you are so kind!
â€œWhere zs Phil?â€ he said at last.
â€œ He is so very unhappy, that we think he had better not
see you till this pain is over. When you are asleep, perhaps.â€
â€œOh, when will that be?â€ and poor Hugh rolied his head
on the pillow.
â€œGeorge rides fast; he is far on his way by this time,â€
said Mr. Tooke, â€œAnd one or other of the surgeons will
132 THE CROFTON BOYS.
soon oe here, and they will tell us what to do, and what to
â€œDo tell Phil soâ€”will you?â€
Mr. Tooke rang the bell, and the message was sent to
Phil, with Hughâ€™s love.
â€œWill the surgeon hurt me much, do you think?â€ Hugh
asked. â€œI will bear it. I only want to know.â€
GEORGE OFF FOR THE DOCTOR.
â€œT should think you hardly could be in more pain than
you are now,â€ replied Mr. Tooke. â€œTI trust they will relieve
you of this pain. I should not wonder if you are asleep
to-night as quietly as any of us, and then you will not mind
what they may have done to you.â€
Hugh thought he should mind nothing if he could ever
be asleep again.
_ He vas soon asked if he would like to see his uncle and
aunt, who were come. He wished to see his uncle, and
â€˜A LONG DAY. 133
Mr. Shaw came up with the surgeon. Mr. Annanby did
scarcely anything to the foot at present. He soon covered
it up again, and said he would return in time to meet the
surgeon who was expected from London. Then Hugh and
his uncle were alone.
Mr. Shaw told him how sorry the boys all were, and how
they had come in from the playground at once, and put
themselves under Firth to be kept quiet ; and that very little
dinner had been eaten; and that, when the writing-master
134 THE CROFTON BOYS.
arrived, he was quite astonished to find everything so still,
and the boys so spiritless; but that nobody told him till he
observed how two or three were crying, so that he was sure
something was the matter.
â€œWhich? Who? Whois crying?â€ asked Hugh.
â€œPoor Phil, and I do not know who else,â€”not being
acquainted with the rest.â€
â€œHow glad I am that Dale had nothing to do with it!â€
said Hugh. â€˜He was quite on the other side of the play-
â€œThey tell me below that I must not ask you how it
â€œOh, yes! you may. Everything except just who it was
that pulled me down. So many got hold of me that nobody
knows exactly who gave Â¢he pull, except myself and one
other. He did not mean it; and I was cross about playing
- with them ; and the stone on the wall was loose, or it would
not have happened. Oh, dear! oh, dear! Uncle, do you think
it a bad accident?â€
â€œYes, my boy, a very bad accident.â€
â€œDo you think I shall die? I never thought of that,â€
said Hugh. And he raised himself a little, but was obliged
to lie back again.
â€œNo; I do not think you will die.â€
Will they think so at home? Was that the reason they
were sent to?â€
â€œNo; I have no doubt your mother will come to nurse
you, and to comfort you; butâ€”â€”â€ i
A LONG DAY. â€” 135
â€œTo comfort me? Why, Mr. Tooke said the pain would
soon be over, he thought, and I should be asleep to-night.â€
â€œVes; but, though the pain may be over, it may leave
you lame. â€˜That will be a misfortune; and you will be glad
of your mother to comfort you.â€
â€œLame!â€ said the boy. Then, as he looked wistfully in
his uncleâ€™s face, he saw the truth,
â€œQh, uncle! they are going to cut off my leg.â€
â€œNot your leg, I hope, Hugh. You will not be quite so
lame as that; but I am afraid you must lose your foot.â€
â€œWas that what Mr. Tooke meant by the surgeonâ€™s
relieving me of my pain?â€
â€œVes, it was.â€
â€œThen it will be before night. Is it quite certain, uncle?â€
â€œMr. Annanby thinks so. Your foot is too much hurt
ever to be cured. Do you think you can bear it, Hugh?â€
â€œWhy, yes, I suppose so. So many people have. It is
less than some of the savages bear. What horridâ€™ things
they do to their captives,â€”and even to some of their own
boys! And they bear it.â€
â€œYes; but: you are not a savage.â€
â€œ But one may be as brave, without being a savage. Think
of the martyrs that were burnt, and some that were worse
than burnt! And they bore it.â€
Mr. Shaw perceived that Hugh was either in much less
pain now, or that he forgot everything in a subject which
always interested him extremely. He told his uncle what
he had read of the tortures inflicted by savages, till his uncle,
136 THE CROFTON BOYS.
already a good deal agitated, was quite sick; but he let him
go on, hoping that the boy might think lightly in comparison
of what he himself had to undergo.. This could not last
long, however.. The wringing pain soon came back; and
as Hugh cried, he said he bore it so very badly, he did not
know what -his mother would say if she saw him. . She had
trusted him not to fail; but really he could not bear this
His uncle told him that nobody had thought of his
having such pain as this to bear; that he had often shown
himself a brave little fellow; and he did not doubt that,
when this terrible day was over, he would keep up his
spirits through all the rest.
Hugh would have his uncle go down to tea, Then he
saw a gown and shawl through the curtain, and started up;
but it was not his mother yet. It was only Mrs. Watson
come to sit with him while his uncle had his tea.
Tea was over, and the younger boys had all gone up to
bed, and the older ones were just going, when there was a
ring at the gate. It was Mrs. Proctor; and with her the
surgeon from London.
â€œMother! Never mind, mother!â€ Hugh was beginning
to say; but he stopped when he saw her face,â€”it was so
very pale and grave. At least, he thought so; but he saw
her only by firelight; for the candle had been shaded from
his eyes, because he could not bear it. She kissed him
with a long, long kiss; but she did not speak.
â€œT wish the surgeon had come first,â€ he whispered, â€œand
A LONG DAY. 137
then they would have had my foot off before you came.
When z7/7 he come?â€
â€œHe is here,â€”they are both here.â€
â€œOh, then, do make them make haste. Mr. Tooke says
I shall go to sleep afterwards. You think so? Then we
will both go to sleep, and have our talk in the morning.
Do not stay now,â€”this pain is so bad,â€”I canâ€™t bear it well
at all. Do go, now, and bid them make haste, will you?â€
His mother whispered that she heard he had been a_
brave boy, and she knew he would be so still. Then the
surgeons came up, and Mr. Shaw. There was some bustle
in the room, and Mr. Shaw took his sister downstairs, and
came up again, with Mr. Tooke.
â€œDonâ€™t let mother come,â€ said Hugh.
â€œNo, my boy, I will stay with you,â€ said his uncle.
The surgeons took off his foot. As he sat in a chair,
and his uncle stood behind him, and held his hands, and
pressed his head against him, Hugh felt how his uncleâ€™s
breast was heaving,â€”and was sure he was crying. In the
very middle of it all, Hugh looked up in his uncleâ€™s face,
â€œNever mind, uncle! I can bear it.â€
He did bear it finely. It was far more terrible than he
had fancied; and he felt that he could not have gone on
a minute longer. When it was over, he muttered some-
thing, and Mr. Tooke. bent down to hear what it was.
â€œT canâ€™t think how the Red Indians bear things so.â€
138 THE CROFTON BOYS.
His uncle lifted him gently into bed, and told him that
he would soon feel easy now.
â€œHave you told mother?â€ asked Hugh.
â€œYes; we sent to her directly.â€
â€œHow long did it take?â€ asked Hugh.
â€œYou have been out of bed only a few minutesâ€”seven
or eight, perhaps.â€
â€œOh, uncle, you donâ€™t mean really?â€
â€œReally; but we know they seemed like hours to you.
Now, your mother will bring you some tea. When you
have had that, you will go tosleep: so I shall wish you good
â€œWhen will you come again?â€
â€œVery often, till you come to me, Not a word more
now. Good night.â€
Hugh was half asleep when his tea came up, and quite so
directly after he had drunk it. Though he slept a great deal in
the course of the night, he woke oftenâ€”such odd feelings
disturbed him. Every time he opened his eyes, he saw his
mother sitting by the fireside; and every time he moved in
the least, she came softly to look. She would not let him
talk at all till near morning, when she found that he could
not sleep any more, and that he seemed a little confused
about where he wasâ€”what room it was, and how she came
to be there by firelight. Then she lighted a candle, and
allowed him to talk about his friend Dale, and several school
affairs, and this brought back gradually the recollection of
all that hed happened.
A LONG DAY. . 139
â€œTJ donâ€™t know what I have been about, I declare,â€ said
he, half laughing. But he was soon as serious as ever he
was in his life, as he said, â€œ But, oh! mother, tell meâ€”do
tell me if I have let out who pulled me off the wall.â€
â€œYou have notâ€”you have not indeed,â€ replied she. â€œI
shall never ask. I do not wish to know. I am glad you
have not told, for it would do no.good. It was altogether
an accident.â€ ;
â€œSo it was,â€ said Hugh; â€œand it would make the boy so
unhappy to be pointed at. Do promise me, if I should let
it out in my sleep, that you will never, never tell anybody.â€
â€œTI promise you. And I shall be the only person beside
you while you are asleep till you get well. So you need not
be afraid. Now, lie still again.â€
She put out the light, and he did lie still for some time;
but then he was struck with a sudden thought, which made
him cry out,
â€œOh, mother, if I am so lame, I can never be a soldier or
-a sailor. I can never go round the world!â€
And Hugh burst into tears, now more really afflicted
than he had. been yet. His mother sat on the bed beside
him, and wiped away his tears as they flowed, while he told
her, as well as his sobs would let him, how long and how
much he had reckoned on going round the world, and how
little he cared for anything else in the future, and now this
was just the very thing he should never be able todo! He
had practised climbing ever since he could remember, and
now that was of no use; he had practised marching, and
140 THE CROFTON BOYS.
now he should never march again. When he had finished
his complaint there was a pause, and his mother said,
â€œ Hugh, do you remember Richard Grant ?â€
â€œWhat, the cabinetmaker? â€˜The man who carved so
â€œYes, Do you rememberâ€”â€”No, you could hardly have
known, but I will tell you. He had planned a most beauti-
ful set of carvings in wood for a chapel belonging to a
noblemanâ€™s mansion. He was to be well paidâ€”his work
was so superior; and he would be able to make his parents
comfortable, as well as his wife and children. But the
thing he most cared for was the honour of producing a
noble work which would outlive him. Well, at the very
beginning of his task, his chisel flew up against his wrist,
and the narrow cut that it made, not more than half an
inch wide, made his right hand entirely useless for life. He
could never again hold a tool; his work was gone, his
business in life seemed over, the support of the whole
family was taken away, and the only strong wish Richardâ€™
Grant had in the world was disappointed.â€
Hugh hid his face with his handkerchief, and his mother
â€œYou have heard of Huber.â€ ;
â€œThe man who found out so much about bees. Miss
Harold read that account to us.â€
â€œBees and ants. When Huber had discovered more
than had ever been known before about bees and ants, and
when he was sure he could learn more still, and was more
A LONG DAY. 14!
and more anxious to peep and pry into their tiny homes,
and their curious ways, Huber became blind.â€
Hugh sighed, and his mother went on:
â€œDid you ever hear of Beethoven? He was one of the -
greatest musical composers that ever lived. His great, his
sole delight was in music. It was the passion of his life.
When all his time and all his mind were given to music, he
became deafâ€”perfectly deaf; so that he never more heard
one single note from the loudest orchestra. While crowds
were moved and delighted with his compositions, it was all
silence to him.â€
Hugh said nothing.
â€œ Now, do you think,â€ asked his mother,â€”and Hugh saw
by the grey light that began to shine in, that she smiled â€”
â€œdo you think that these people were without a heavenly
â€œOh, no! But were they all patient?â€
â€œYes, in their different ways and degrees. Would. you
say that they were hardly treated? Or would you rather
suppose that their Father gave them something more and
better to do than they had planned for themselves?â€
â€œHe must know best, of course; but it does seem hard
that that very thing should happen to them. Huber would
not have so much minded being deaf, perhaps; or that
musical man being blind; or Richard Grant losing his foot,
instead of his hand: for he did not want to go round the
â€œNo doubt their hearts often eaelled within them at their
142 THE CROFTON BOYS.
disappointments; but I fully believe that they found very
soon that God's will was wiser than their wishes. They
found, if they bore their trial well, that there was work for
their hearts to do, far nobler than any work that the head
can do through the eye, and the ear, and the hand. And
they soon felt a new and delicious pleasure, which none but
the bitterly disappointed can feel.â€
â€œWhat is that?â€
â€œThe pleasure of rousing their souls to bear pain, and of
agreeing with God silently, when nobody knows what is in
their hearts. There is a great pleasure in the exercise of
the body,â€”in making the heart beat, and the limbs glow, in
a run by the sea-side, or a game in the playground; but
this is nothing to the pleasure there is in exercising oneâ€™s
soul in bearing pain,â€”in finding oneâ€™s heart glow with the
hope that one is pleasing God.â€
â€œShall I feel that pleasure?â€
â€œOften and often, I have no doubt,â€”every time that you
can willingly give up your wish to be a soldier or a sailor,â€”
or anything else that you have set your mind upon, if you
can smile to yourself, and say that you will be content at
home.â€”Well, I donâ€™t expect it of you yet. I dare say it
was long a bitter thing to Beethoven to see hundreds of
people in raptures with his music, when he could not hear â€”
a note of it. And Huber-â€”â€
â€œBut did Beethoven get to smile?â€
â€œTf he did, he was happier than all the fine music in the
world could have made him.â€
A LONG DAY. ; 143
â€œT wonderâ€”Oh! I wonder if I ever shall feel so.â€
â€œWe will pray to God that you may. Shall we ask Him
Hugh clasped his hands. His mother kneeled beside the
bed, and, in a very few words, prayed that Hugh might be
able to bear his misfortune well, and that his friends might
give him such help and comfort as God should approve.
â€œNow, my dear, you will sleep again,â€ she said, as she
â€œTf you will lie down too, instead of sitting by the fire
She did so; and they were soon both asleep.
A LOVING NURSE.
THE boys were all in the school-room in the grey of the
morning â€”no one late. Mr. Tooke was already there.
Almost every boy looked wistfully in the grave face of the
_ master; almost every one but his own son: he looked down;
and it seemed natural, for his eyes were swollen with crying.
He had been crying as much as Proctor; but, then, so had
â€œYour schoolfellow is doing well,â€ said Mr. Tooke, in a
low voice, which, however, was heard to the farthest end of
the room. â€œHis brother will tell you that he saw him
â€˜quietly asleep ; and I have just seen him so. He deserves
to do well, for he is a brave little boy. He is the youngest
of you, but I doubt whether there is a more manly heart
among you all.â€
There was a murmur, as if everybody wished to agree to
this. That murmur set Phil crying again.
CROFTON QUIET. 14h
â€œAs to how this accident happened,â€ continued the
master, â€œI have only to say this. The coping-stone of the
wall was loose, had become loosened by the frost. Of that
I am aware. But it would notâ€”it could not have fallen, if
your schoolfellow had not been pulled from the top of the
_ wall. Several hands pulled him, as many as could get a
hold. Whose these hands were, it would be easy to ascer-
tain; and it would not be difficult to discover whose was
the hand which first laid hold, and gave the rest their grasp.
Butâ€”â€ How earnestly here did every one look for the next
words !â€”â€œ But your schoolfellow considers the affair an
accidentâ€”says he himself was cross.â€
â€œNo! No! We plagued him,â€ cried many voices.
â€œWell! he is sure no one meant him any harm, and ear-
nestly desires that no further inquiry may be made. For his
part, nothing, he declares, shall ever induce him to tell who
first seized him.â€
The boys were about to give a loud cheer, but stopped
for Hughâ€™s sake, just in time. There was no want of signs
of what they felt. There was no noise, but there were
many tears. .
â€œTI do not think that a promise of impunity can be any
great comfort to those concerned,â€ continued Mr. Tooke;
â€œbut such comfort as they can find in it, they may. Both
from my wish to indulge one who has just sustained so great
a misfortune, and because I think he is right, I shall never
inquire,â€”never wish to know more than I do of the origin
of this accident. His mother declares the same, on the part
146 THE CROFTON BOYS.
of both of his parents. I hope you will every one feel your:
selves put upon honour, to follow my example.â€
Another general murmur, in sign of agreement.
â€œThe only thing you can now do for your schoolfellow,â€
concluded the master, â€œis to be quiet throughout the day.
As soon as he can be removed, he will be carried to Mr.
Shawâ€™s. â€˜Till then, you will take care that he loses no rest
through you.â€”Now, first class, come up.â€
While this class was up, Philâ€™s neighbour began whisper-
ing; and the next boy leaned over to hear; and one or two
came softly up behind: but, though they were busily engaged
in question and answer, the masterâ€™s stern voice was not
heard (as usual when there was talking) to say â€œSilence,
there!â€ His class saw him looking that way, once or twice;
but he took no notice. Phil had seen his brother, and was
privileged to tell.
â€œSo you sawhim! Did you get areal good sight of him?â€
â€œVes, I stayed some time; half an hour, I dare say.â€
â€˜What did he look like? Did he say anything?â€
â€œSay anything!â€ cried Dale; â€˜why, did you not hear he
â€œWhat did he look like, then?â€
â€œHe looked as he always does when he is asleep, as far
as I could see. But we did not bring the light too near, for
fear of waking him.â€
â€œDid you hearâ€”did anybody tell you anything about it?â€
â€œYes; my mother told me whatever I wanted to know.â€
â€œWhat? What did she tell you?â€
CROFTON QUIET. 147.
â€œShe says it will not be so very bad a lameness as it might
have been --as if he had not had his knee left. That makes
a great difference. They make a false foot now, very light ;
and if his leg gets quite properly well, and we are not too
much in a hurry, and we all take pains to help Hugh to
practise walking carefully at first, he may not be very lame.â€
* Oh! then, it is not so bad,â€ said one, while Tooke, who
was listening, gave a deep sigh of relief.
â€œNot so bad!â€ exclaimed Phil. â€˜â€œ Why, he will never be
so strongâ€”so able and active as other men. He will never
be able to take care of himself and other people. He will
be so unlike other people always; and now, waile he is a
boy, he will never. â€
The images of poor Hughâ€™s privations and troubles as a
schoolboy weze too much for Phil;-and he laid down his
148 THE CROFTON BOYS.
head on his desk, to hide his grief. As for Tooke, he walked
away, looking the picture of wretchedness.
â€˜â€œâ€˜When will you see him again?â€ asked Dale, passing his
arm round Philâ€™s neck.
â€œTo-day, if he is pretty well. My mother promised me
â€œDo you think you could get leave for me too? I would
not make any noise, nor let him talk too much, if I might
just see him.â€
â€œTl see about it,â€ said Phil.
As Mrs. Proctor was placing the pillows comfortably, for
Hugh to have his breakfast, after he was washed, and the
bed made nicely smooth, he yawned, and said he was sleepy
still, and that he wondered what oâ€™clock it was. His mother
told him it was a quarter past ten.
â€œA quarter past ten! Why, how odd! The boys are
half through school, almost, and I am only just awake !â€
â€œThey slept through the whole night, I dare say. You
were awake a good many times; and you and I had some
talk. Do you remember that? or has it gone out of your
head with your sound sleeep ?â€
â€œNo, no: I remember that,â€ said Hugh. â€œBut it was
the oddest, longest night !â€”and yesterday too! To think
that it is not a whole day yet since it all happened! Oh!
here comes my breakfast. What is it? Coffee?â€
â€œYes: we know you are fond of coffee; and so am I.
So we will have some together.â€
â€œHow comfortable!â€ exclaimed Hugh; for he was really
CROFTON QUIET. 149
hungry ; which was no wonder, after the pain and exhaustion
he had gone through. His state was like that of a person
recovering from an illnessâ€”extremely ready to eat and drink,
but obliged to be moderate.
When warmed and cheered by his coffee, Hugh gave a
broad hint that he should like to see Phil, and one or two
more boysâ€”particularly Dale. His mother told him that
the surgeon, Mr. Annanby, would be coming soon. If he
gave leave, Phil should come in, and perhaps Dale. So
Hugh was prepared with a strong entreaty to Mr. Annanby
on the subject; but no entreaty was needed. Mr. Annanby
thought he was doing very well; and that he would not be
the worse for a little amusement and a little fatigue this
morning, if it did not go on too long. So Phil was sent for,
when the surgeon was gone. As he entered, his mother
went out to speak to Mr. Tooke, and write home.
She then heard from Mr. Tooke, and from Firth and
Dale, how strong was the feeling in Hughâ€™s favourâ€”how
strong the sympathy for his misfortune throughout the
school. Hugh had seen no tears from her; but she shed
them now. She then earnestly entreated that Hugh might
not kear what she had just been told. He felt no doubt of
the kindness of his schoolfellows, and was therefore quite
happy on that score. He was very young, and to a certain
degree vain; and if this event went to strengthen his vanity,
to fill his head with selfish thoughts, it would be a misfortune
indeed. The loss of his foot would be the least part of it.
Tt lay with those about him to make this event a deep injury
150 THE CROFTON BOYS.
to him, instead of the blessing which all trials are meant by
Providence eventually to be. They all promised that, while
treating Hugh with the tenderness he deserved, they would
not .poil the temper in which he had acted so well, by
making it vain and selfish. There was no fear meantime of
Philâ€™s doi.g him any harm in that way; for Phil had a great
idea of the privileges and dignity of seniority, and his plan
was to keep down little boys, and make them humble; not
being aware that to keep people down is not the way to
make them humble, but the contrary. Older people than
Phil, however, often fall into this mistake. Many parents
do, and many teachers; and very many elder brothers and
Phil entered the room shyly, and stood by the fire, so that
the bed-curtain was between him and â€˜Hugh.
â€œAre you there, Phil?â€ cried Hugh, pulling aside the
â€œYes,â€ said Phil; â€˜how do you do this morning?â€
â€œQh, very well. Come here. I want to know ever so
many things. Have you heard yet anything real and true
about the new usher?â€
â€œNo,â€ replied Phil. â€œBut I have no doubt it is feally
Mr. Crabbe who is coming; and that he will be here after
Christmas. Why, Hugh, you look just the same as usual!â€
â€œSo I am just the same, except under this thing,â€ pointing
to the hoop, or basket, which was placed over his limb to
keep off the weight of the bed-clothes. â€œI am not hurt
anywhere else, except this bruise;â€ and he showed a black
CROFTON QUIET. 1st
bruise on his arm, such as almost any schoolboy can show
almost any day.
â€œThatâ€™s nothing,â€ pronounced Phil.
â€œThe other was, though, I can tell you,â€ declared Hugh.
â€œWas it very, very bad? Worse than you had ever
â€œOh! yes. I could have screamed myself to death. I
_ did not, though. Did you hear me, did anybody hear me
â€œJT heard youâ€”just outside the door thereâ€”before the
â€œ Ah! but not after, not while uncle was here. He cried
so! I could not call out while he was crying so. Where
were you when they were doing it?â€
â€œJust outside the door there. I heard you onceâ€”only
once; and that was not much.â€
â€œBut how came you to be there? It was past bedtime.
Had you leave to be up so late?â€
â€œT did not ask it; and nobody meddled with me.â€
â€œ Was anybody there with you?â€ ;
â€œYes, Firth. Dale would not. He was afraid, and he
â€œOh! is not he very sorry?â€
â€œOf course. Nobody can help being sorry.â€
â€œDo they all seem sorry? What did they do? What do
â€œOh! they are very sorry; you must know that,â€
â€œ Anybody more than the rest?â€
152 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œWhy, some few of them cried; but I donâ€™t know Â«nat
that shows them to be more sorry. It is some peopleâ€™s
way to cry, and others not.â€
Hugh wished much to learn something about Tooke; but,
afraid of showing what was in his thoughts, he went off to
quite another subject.
â€œDo you know, Phil,â€ said he, â€œyou would hardly
believe it; but I have never been half so miserable as I was
the first day or two I came here? I donâ€™t care now, half so
much, for all.the pain, and for being lame, and Oh! but
I can never be a soldier or a sailorâ€”I can never go round
the world! 1 forgot that.â€
And poor Hugh hid his face in his pillow.
â€œNever mind!â€ said Phil, stooping over him very kindly.
â€œHere is a long time before you; and you will get to like
something else just as well, Papa wanted to be a soldier,
you remember, and could not; and he is as happy as ever
he can be, now that he is a shopkeeper in London. Did
you ever see anybody merrier than my father is? I never
did. Come! cheer up, Hugh! You will be very happy
Phil kissed him; and when Hugh looked up in surprise,
Phil's eyes were full of tears.
â€œNow I havea good mind to ask you,â€ said Hugh, â€œsome-
thing that has been in my mind ever since.â€
â€œ Ever since when ?â€
â€œEver since I came to Crofton. What could be the
reason that you were not more kind to me then?â€
CROFTON QUIET. 153
â€œJT! not kind?â€ said Phil, in some confusion. â€˜â€œ Was not
â€œNo. At least I thought not. I was so uncomfortable,
â€”I did not know anybody, or what to do; and I expected
you would show me, and help me. I always thought I could
not have felt lonely with you here; and then when I came,
you got out of my way, as if you were ashamed of me, and
you did not help me at all; and you laughed at me.â€
. â€œNo; I donâ€™t think I did that.â€
â€œYes, you did, indeed.â€
â€œWell, you know, little boys always have to shift for them-
selves when they go to a great school
â€œ But why, if they have brothers there? That is the very
thing 1 want to know. I think it is very cruel.â€
â€œT never meant to be cruel, of course. Butâ€”butâ€”the
boys were all ready to laugh at me about a little brother that
was scarcely any better than a girl ;â€”and consider how you
talked on the coach, and what ridiculous hair you had,â€”and
what a fuss you made about your money and your pocket,â€”
and how you kept popping out things about Miss Harold,
and the girls, and Susan.â€
â€œYou were ashamed of me, then.â€
â€œWell, what wonder if I was?â€
â€œAnd you never told me about all these things, You let
me learn them all without any warning, or any help.â€
â€œTo be sure. That is the way all boys have to get on,
They must make their own way.â€
â€œTf ever little Harry comes to Crofton,â€ said Hugh, more
154 THE CROFTON BOYS.
to himself than to Phil, â€œ1 will not leave him in the lurch,
â€”I will never be ashamed of him. Pray,â€ said he, turning
quickly to Phil, --are you ashamed of me still?â€
â€œOh, no,â€ protested Phil. â€œYou can shift for yourself,â€”
you can play, and do everything like other boys, now.
He stopped short, overcome with the sudden recollection
that Hugh would never again be able to play like other
boys,â€”to be like them in strength, and in shifting for him-
â€œAh! I see what you are thinking of,â€ said Hugh, â€œ1
am so afraid you should be ashamed of me again, when I
come into the playground. The boys will quiz me ;â€”and if
you are ashamed of meâ€”â€”â€ ;
â€˜Oh, no, no!â€ earnestly declared Phil. â€˜â€œ There is nobody
in the world that will quiz you ;â€”or, if there is, they had
better take care of me, I can tell them. But nobody will
You donâ€™t know how sorry the boys are. Here comes Dale.
He will tell you the same thing.â€
Dale was quite sure that any boy would, from this time for
ever, be sent to Coventry who should quiz Hugh for his
lameness. There was not a boy now at Crofton who would
not do anything in the world to help him.
â€œWhy, Dale, how you have been crying!â€ exclaimed
Hugh. â€œIs anything wrong in school? Canâ€™t you manage
your verses yet?â€
â€œI'll try that to-night,â€ said Dale, cheerfully. â€œYes, Ill
manage them. Never mind what made my eyes red; only,
CROFTON QUIET. 15s
if such a thing had happened to me, you would have cried,
â€”TI am sure of that.â€
â€œYes, indeed,â€ said Phil.
â€œ Now, Proctor, you had better go,â€ said Dale. â€œOne
at a time is enough to-day; and J shall not stay long.â€
Phil agreed, and actually shook hands with Hugh before
â€œ Phil is so kind to-day!â€ cried Hugh, with glee; â€œthough
he is disappointed of going to Uncle Shawâ€™s on my account.
And I know he had reckoned on it. Now, I want to know
one thing,â€”where did Mr. Tooke sleep last night? for this
is his bed.â€
Dale believed he slept on the sofa. He was sure, at least,
that he had not taken off his clothes; for he had come to
the door several times in the course of the night, to know
how all was going on.
â€œWhy, I never knew that!â€ cried Hugh. â€œI suppose I
was asleep. Dale, what do-you think is the reason that our
fathers and mothers and people take care of us as they do?â€
â€œ How do you mean?â€
â€˜â€œWhy, Agnes and I cannot make it out. When we were
by the sea-side, mother took us a great way along the beach,
to a place we did not know at all; and she bade us pick up
shells, and amuse ourselves, while she went to see a poor
woman that lived just out of sight. We played till we were
quite tired; and then we sat down; and still she did not
come. At last, we were sure that she had forgotten all about
us; and we did not think she would remember us any more:
156 THE CROFTON BOYS,
and we both cried. Oh! how we did cry! Then a woman
came along, with a basket at her back and a great net over
her arm; and she asked us what was the matter; and when
we told her, she said she. thought it was not likely that
mother would forget us. And then she bade us take hold
of her gown, one on each side, and she would try to take us
to mother; and the next thing was mother came in sight.
When the woman told her what we had said, they both.
laughed; and mother told us it was impossible that she
should leave us behind. I asked Agnes afterwards why it
was impossible ; and she did not know; and I am sure she
was as glad as I was to see mother come in sight. If she
really never can forget us, what makes her remember us?â€
Dale shook his head. He could not tell.
â€œ Because,â€ continued Hugh, â€œwe canâ€™t do anything for
anybody, and we give a great deal of trouble. Mother sits
up very late, sometimes till near twelve, mending our things.
There is that great basket of stockings she has to mend,
once a fortnight! And papa works very hard to get money ;
and what a quantity he pays for our schooling, and our
clothes, and everything !â€
â€œEverybody would think it very shameful if he did not,â€
suggested Dale. â€˜If he let you go ragged and ignorant, it
would be wicked.â€ ;
â€œBut why?â€ said Hugh, vehemently. â€œThat is what I
want to know. We are not worth anything. We are nothing
but trouble. Only think what so many people did yesterday!
My mother came a journey; and Uncle and Aunt Shaw came;
CROFTON QUIET. 157
and mother sat up all night; and Mr, Tooke never went to
_ bed,â€”and all about me! I declare I canâ€™t think why.â€
Dale felt as if he knew why; but he could not explain it,
Mrs. Proctor had heard much of what they were saying.
She had come in before closing her letter to Mr. Proctor, to
ask whether Hugh wished to send any particular message
home. As she listened, she was too sorry to feel amused.
She perceived that she could not have done her whole duty
to her children, if there could be such a question as this in
their heartsâ€”such a question discussed between them, un-
known to her. She spoke now; and Hugh started, for he
was not aware that she was in the room.
She asked both the boys why they thought it was that
before little birds are fledged, the parent birds bring them
food, as often as once in a minute, all day long for some
weeks. Perhaps no creatures can go through harder work
than this; and why do they do it? for unfledged birds,
which are capable of nothing whatever but clamouring for â€”
food, are as useless little creatures as can be imagined,
Why does the cat take care of her little blind kitten with so
much watchfulness, hiding it from all enemies till it can take
care of itself? It is because love does not depend on the
value of the creature lovedâ€”it is because love grows up in Â©
our hearts at Godâ€™s pleasure, and not by our own choice;
and it is Godâ€™s pleasure that the weakest and the least
useful and profitable should be the most beloved, till they
become able to love and help in their turn.
â€œIs it possible, my dear,â€ she said to Hugh, â€œthat you
158 THE CROFTON BOYS.
did not know this,â€”you who love little Harry so much, and
take such care of him at home? I am sure you never
stopped to think whether Harry could do you any service
before helping him to play.â€
â€œNo; but thenâ€”â€”â€
â€œ But what?â€
â€œHe is such a sweet little fellow, it is a treat to look at
him. Every morning when I woke I longed to be up, and
to get to him.â€
â€œThat is, you loved him, Well: your papa and I love
you all, in the same way. We get up with pleasure to our
businessâ€”your father to his shop and I to my work-basketâ€”
because it is the greatest happiness in the world to serve
those we love.â€
Hugh said nothing; but still, though pleased, he did not
look quite satisfied.
â€˜Susan and cook are far more useful to me than any of
you children,â€ continued his mother, â€œand yet I could not
work early and late for them with the same pleasure as
Hugh laughed ; and then he asked whether Jane was not
now as useful as Susan.
â€œPerhaps she is,â€ replied his mother; â€œand the more she
learns and does, and the more she becomes my friend, the
more I respect her: but it is impossible to love her more
than I did before she could speak or walk. There is some
objection in your mind still, my dear. What is it?â€
-â€œTt makes us of so much consequence,â€”so much more
CROFTON QUIET. 159
than I ever thought of,â€”that the minds of grown people
should be busy about us.â€
â€œThere is nothing to be vain of in that, my dear, any
more than for young kittens, and birds just hatched. But
it is very true that all young creatures are of great conse-
quence; for they are the children of God. When, besides
this, we consider what human beings are,â€”that they can
never perish, but are to live for ever,â€”and that they are
meant to become more wise and holy than we can imagine,
we see that the feeblest infant is indeed a being of infinite
consequence. This is surely a reason for God filling the
hearts of parents with love, and making them willing to
work and suffer for their children, even while the little ones
are most unwise and unprofitable. When you and Agnes
fancied I should forget you and desert you, you must have
forgotten that you had another Parent who rules the hearts
of all the fathers and mothers on earth.â€
Hugh was left alone to think this over, when he had
given his messages home, and got Daleâ€™s promise to come
again as soon as he could obtain leave to do so. Both the
boys were warned that this would not be till to-morrow, as
Hugh had seen quite company enough for one day. Indeed,
he slept so much, that night seemed to be soon come.
o> db Sy
TuoucH Mr. Tooke was so busy from having no usher,
he found time to come and see Hugh pretty often. He
had a sofa moved into that room; and he carried Hugh,
without hurting him at all, and laid him down there com-
fortably beside the fire. He took his tea there with Mrs.
Proctor, and he brought up his newspaper, and read from
it anything which he thought would amuse the boy. He
smiled at Hughâ€™s scruple about occupying his room, and
assured him that he was quite as well off in Mr. Carnabyâ€™s
room, except that it was not so quiet as this, and therefore
more fit for a person in health than an invalid. Mr. Tooke
not only brought up plenty of books from the school library, .
but lent Hugh some valuable volumes of prints from his
Hugh could not look at these for long together. His
head soon began to ache, and his eyes to be dazzled, for he
LITTLE VICTORIES. - 161
was a good deal weakened. His mother observed also that
he became too eager about views in foreign countries, and
that he even grew impatient in his temper when talking
â€œMy dear boy,â€ said she one evening after tea, when she
saw him in this state, and that it rather perplexed Mr.
Tooke, â€œif you remember your resolution, I think you will
put away that book.â€
â€œÂ¢Oh, mother !â€ exclaimed he, â€œ you want to take away the
greatest pleasure I have!â€
â€œIf itis a pleasure, go on. I was afraid it was becoming
Mr. Tooke did not ask what this meant; but he evidently
wished to know. He soon knew, for Hugh found himself
growing more fidgety and more cross the further he looked
in the volume of Indian Views, till he threw himself back
upon the sofa, and stuffed his handkerchief into his mouth,
and stared at the fire, struggling, as his mother saw, to help
crying. â€˜I will take away the book, shall I, my dear?â€
â€œYes, mother. Oh, dear! I shall never keep my vow, I
Mrs. Proctor told Mr. Tooke that Hugh had made a
resolution which she earnestly hoped he might be able to
keep ;â€”to bear cheerfully every disappointment and trouble
caused by this accident, from the greatest to the least,â€”
from being obliged to give up being a traveller by-and-bye,
to the shoemakerâ€™s wondering that he wanted only one shoe,
Now, if looking at pictures of foreign countries made -him
162 THE CROFTON BOVS.
less cheerful, it seemed to belong to his resolution to give
up that pleasure for the present.â€™ Hugh acknowledged that
it did; and Mr. Tooke, who was pleased at what he heard,
carried away the Indian Views, and brought instead a veryâ€
fine work on Trades, full of plates representing people
engaged in every kind of trade and manufacture. Hugh
was too tired to turn over any more pages to-night; but his
master said the book might stay in the room now, and when
Hugh was removed it might go with him, and as he was
able to sit up more, he might like to copy some of the
â€œRemoved!â€ exclaimed Hugh.
His mother smiled, and told him that he was going on so
well that he might soon now be removed to his uncleâ€™s.
â€˜â€˜ Where,â€ said Mr. Tooke, â€˜you will have more quiet and
more liberty than you can have here. Your brother, and any
other boys you like, can run over to see you at any time;
and you will be out of the noise of the playground.â€
â€œT wonder how it is there is so little noise from the play-
ground here?â€ said Hugh.
â€œTt is because the boys have been careful to make no
noise since your accident. We cannot expect them to put
themselves under such restraint for long.â€
â€œOh, no, no! I had better go. But, mother, youâ€”you
â€”Aunt Shaw is very kind, butâ€”â€”â€
â€œâ€˜T shall. stay with you as long as you want me.â€
Hugh was quite happy.
â€œBut how in the world shall I get there?â€ he presently-
LITTLE VICTORIES. 163.
asked. â€œIt is two whole miles; and we canâ€™t lay my leg up
in the gig: besides its being so cold.â€ ,
His mother told him that his uncle had a very nice plan
for his conveyance. Mr. Annanby approved of it, and
thought he might be moved the first sunny day.
â€œ What, to-morrow ?â€
â€œVes, if the sun shines.â€ :
Mr. Tooke unbolted the shutter, and declared that it was
such a bright starry evening that he thought to-morrow:
would be fine.
164 THE CROFTON BOYS.
The morning was fine; and during the very finest part of -
it came Mr. Shaw. He told Hugh that there was a good
fire blazing at home in the back room that looked into the
garden, which was to be Hughâ€™s. From the sofa by the fire-
side one might see the laurustinus on the grass-plot,â€”now
covered with flowers; and when the day was warm enough
to let him lie in the window, he could see the mill, and all
that was going on round it. :
Hugh liked the idea of all this; but he still looked
â€œNow tell me,â€ said his uncle, â€œwhat person in all the
world you would like best for a companion.â€
â€œTn all the world!â€ exclaimed Hugh. â€œSuppose I say
the Great Mogul!â€
â€œWell; tell us how to catch him, and ve will try. Mean-
time, you can have his picture. I believe we have a pack of
cards in the house,â€
â€œBut do you mean really, uncle.â€”the person I should
like best in all the world,â€”out of Crofton ?â€
â€œYes; out with it!â€
â€œT should like Agnes best,â€ said Hugh, timidly.
â€œWe thought as much. I am glad we were right. Well,
my boy, Agnes is there.â€ ;
â€œ Agnes there! Only two miles off! How. long will she
stay ?â€ eae ie
â€œOh, there is no hurry about that.: We shall see when you
are well what to do next.â€ j eames Neca
â€œ But will she stay till the holidays?â€
LITTLE VICTORIES. 165
â€œOh, yes, longer than that, I hope.â€
â€œ But then she will not go home with me for the holidays ?â€
-- Never mind about the holidays now. Your holidays
begin to-day. You have nothing to do but to get well now,
and make yourself at home at my house, and.be merry with
Agnes. Now shall we go, while the sun shines? Here is
your mother all cloaked up in her warm things.â€
â€œOh, mother! Agnes is come,â€ cried Hugh.
This was no news, for it was his mother who had guessed
what companion he would like to have.. She now showed
her large warm cloak, in which Hugh was to be wrapped;
and his neck was muffled up in a comforter.
â€œBut how am I to go?â€ asked Hugh, trembling with this
â€œQuietly in your bed,â€ said his uncle. â€œCome, I will
lift you into it.â€ SS
And his uncle carried him downstairs to the front door,
where two of Mr. Shawâ€™s men stood with a litter, which was
slung upon poles, and carried like a sedan-chair. There
was a mattress upon the litter, on which Hugh lay as com-
fortably as on a sofa. He said it was like being carried in
a palanquin in India,â€”if only there was hot sunshine, and
no frost and snow.
Mr. Tooke, and Mrs, Watson, and Firth shook hands with
Hugh, and said they should be glad to see him back again ;
and Mr. Tooke added that some of the boys should visit
him pretty often till the breaking-up. Nobody else was
allowed to come quite near; but the boys clustered at that
166 THE CROFTON BOYS.
side of the playground, to see as much as they could. Hugh
waved his hand, and every boy saw it, and in a moment
every hat and cap was off, and the boys gave three cheers,â€”
the loudest that had ever been heard at Crofton. The most
surprising thing was that Mr. Tooke cheered, and Mr. Shaw ,
too. The men looked as if they would have liked to set
down the litter and cheer too, but they did not quite do that.
They only smiled as if they were pleased.
There was one person besides who did not cheer. Tooke
stood apart from the other boys, looking very sad. As the
litter went down the by-road he began to walk away; but
Hugh begged the men to stop, and called to Tooke. Tooke
turned, and when Hugh beckoned, he forgot all about
bounds, leaped the paling, and came running. Hugh said,
â€œâ€œT have been wanting to see you so! but I did not like
to ask for you particularly.â€
â€œTJ wish I had known that.â€
~â€œCome and see me, do,â€ said Hugh. â€œCome the very
first, wonâ€™t you?â€
â€œTf I may.â€
â€œOh, you may, I know.â€
â€œWell, I will, thank you. Good bye.â€
And on went the litter, with Mrs. Proctor and Mr. Shaw
walking beside it. The motion did not hurt Hugh at all; .
and he was so warmly wrapped up, and the day so fine, that
he was almost sorry when the two miles were over. And
yet there was Agnes out upon the steps; and she sat beside
him on the sofa in his cheerful room, and told him that she
LITTLE VICTORIES. 167
â€˜had nothing to do but to wait on him and play with him.
She did not tell him yet that she must learn directly to
nurse him, and, with her auntâ€™s help, fill her motherâ€™s place,
TRYING THE NEW CRUTCHES
because her mother was much wanted at home; but this~
was in truth one chief reason for her coming.
Though there was now really nothing the matter with
Hughâ€”though he ate, drank, slept, and gained strength---
168 THE CROFION BOYS,
his mother would not leave him till she saw him well able
to go about.
The carpenter soon came, with some crutches he had
borrowed for Hugh to try; and when they were sure of the
right length, Hugh had a new pair. He found it rather
nervous work at first, using them ; and he afterwards laughed
at the caution with which he began. First, he had some-
body to lift him from his seat, and hold him till he was firm
on his crutches. Then he carefully moved forwards one
crutch at a time, and then the other; and he put so much
strength into it, that he was quite tired when he had been
once across the room and back again. Every stumble
made him shake all over. He made Agnes try; and he was
almost provoked to see how lightly she could hop about;
but then, as he said, she could put a second foot down to
save herself, whenever she pleased. Every day, however,
walking became easier to him; and he even discovered,
when accidentally left alone, and wanting something from
â€˜the opposite end of the room, that he could rise, and set
forth by himself, and be independent. And in one of these
excursions it was that he found the truth of what Agnes had
told himâ€”how much easier it was to move both crutches
together. When he showed his mother this, she said she
thought he would soon learn to do with only one.
Hugh found himself subject to very painful feelings some-
timesâ€”such as no one quite understood, and such as he
feared no one was able to pity as they deserved. A sur-
prise of this sort happened to him the evening before his
LITTLE VICTORIES. 169
father was to come to see him, and to fetch away his
mother. It was the dark hour in the afternoon, the hour when
Mrs. Proctor and her children enjoyed every day a quiet
talk, before Mr. Shaw came to carry Hugh into his auntâ€™s
parlour to tea. Nothing could be merrier than Hugh had
been ; and his mother and Agnes were chatting, when they
thought they heard a sob from the sofa. They spoke to
Hugh, and found that he was indeed crying bitterly.
â€˜â€œâ€˜What is it, my dear?â€ said his mother. â€˜â€œ Agnes, have
we said anything that could hurt him?â€
â€œNo, no,â€ sobbed Hugh. â€˜JI will tell you presently.â€
And presently he told them that he was so busy listening
to what they said, that he forgot everything else, when he
felt as if something had got between two of his toes; un-
consciously he put his hand down, and his foot was not
there! Nothing could be plainer than the feeling in his
toes; and then, when he put out his hand, and found
nothing, it was so terribleâ€”it startled him so.
It was a comfort to him to find that his mother knew all
about this. She came and kneeled beside his sofa, and
told him that many persons who had lost a limb considered
this odd feeling the most painful thing they had to bear for
some time; but that, though the feeling would return occa-
sionally through life, it would cease to be painful. When
he had become so used to do without his foot as to leave
off wanting or wishing for it, he would perhaps make a joke
of the feeling, instead of being disappointed. At least she
knew that some persons did so who had lost a limb
170 THE CROFTON BOYS,
This did not comfort Hugh much, for every prospect had
suddenly become darkened. He said he did not know how
he should bear his misfortune ;â€”he was pretty sure he could
not bear it. It seemed so long already since it had hap-
pened! And when he thought of the long long days, and
months, and years, to the end of his life, and that he should
never run and play, and never be like other people, and
never able to do the commonest things without labour and
trouble, he wished he was dead. He had rather have died.
Agnes thought he must be miserable indeed, if he could
venture to say this to his mother. She glanced at her
motherâ€™s face; but there was no displeasure there. Mrs.
Proctor said this feeling was very natural. She had felt it
herself, under smaller misfortunes than Hugh's ; but she had
found that, though the prospect appears all strewn with
troubles, they come singly, and are not worth minding after
all. She told Hugh that, when she was a little girl, very lazy
â€”fond of her bedâ€”fond of her bookâ€”and not at all fond
of washing and dressing
â€œWhy, mother, you!â€ exclaimed Hugh.
â€œYes; that was the sort of little girl I was. Well, I was
in despair, one day, at the thought that I should have to
wash, and clean my teeth, and brush my hair, and put on
daily every article of dress, every morning, as long as I lived.
There was nothing I disliked so much; and yet it was the
thing that must be done every day of my whole life.â€
â€œDid you tell anybody?â€ asked Hugh.
â€œNo: I was ashamed to do that; but I remember I cried.
LITTLE VICTORIES. 71
You see how it turns out. Grown people, who have got to
do everything by habit, so easily as not to think about it,
wash and dress every morning, without ever being weary of
it. We do not consider so much as once a year what we are
doing at dressing-time, though at seven years old it is a very
laborious and tiresome affair to get ready for breakfast.â€
â€œTt is the same about writing letters,â€ observed Agnes.
â€œThe first letter I ever wrote was to Aunt Shaw; and it
took so long, and was so tiresome, that, when I thought
of all the exercises I should have to write for Miss
Harold, and all the letters that I must send to my relations
when I grew up, I would have given everything I had in the
world not to have learned to write. Oh! how I pitied papa,
when I saw sometimes the pile of letters that were lying to
go to the post!â€
â€œAnd how do you like corresponding with Phil now?â€
Agnes owned, with blushes, that she still dreaded the task
for some days before, and felt particularly gay when it was
done. Her mother believed that, if infants could think and
look forward, they would be far more terrified with the
prospect of having to walk on their two legs all their lives,
than lame people could be at having to learn the art in part
over again. Grown people are apt to doubt whether they
can learn a new language, though childrenâ€™ make no difficulty
about it: the reason of which is, that grown people see at
one view the whole labour, while children do not look
beyond their daily task. Experience, however, always brings
relief. Experience shows that every effort comes at its
172 THE CROKION BOYS.
proper time, and that there is variety or rest in the intervals,
People who have to wash and dress every morning have
other things to do in the after-part of the day; and, as the
old fable tells us, the clock that has to tick, before it is worn
out, so many millions of times as it perplexes the mind to
think of, has exactly the same number of seconds to do it in,
so that it never has more work on its hands than it can get
through. So Hugh would find that he could move about
on each separate occasion, as he wanted; and practice
would, in time, enable him to do it without any more thought
than it now cost him to put all the bones of his hands in
order, so as to carry his tea and bread and butter to his
â€œ But that is not allâ€”nor half what I mean,â€ said Hugh.
â€œNo, my dear; nor half what you will have to make up
your mind to bear. You will have a great deal to bear,
Hugh. You resolved to bear it all patiently, I remember:
but what is it that you dread the most?â€
â€œOh ! all manner of things. I can never do things like
â€œSome things. You can never play cricket, as every
Crofton boy would like to do. You can never dance at
your sistersâ€™ Christmas parties.â€
â€œOh, mamma!â€ cried Agnes, with tears in her eyes, and
the thought in her mind that it was cruel to talk so.
â€œGoon! goon!â€ cried Hugh, brightening. â€œYou know
what I feel, mother ; and you don't keep telling me, as Aunt
Shaw does (and even Agnes sometimes), that it won't signify
LITTLE VICTORIES, 173
much, and that I shall not care, and all that; making out
that it is no misfortune hardly, when I know what it is, and
â€œThat is a common way of trying to give comfort, and it
is kindly meant,â€ said Mrs. Proctor. â€œBut those who have
suffered much themselves know a better way. The best
way is not to deny any of the trouble or the sorrow, and
not to press on the sufferer any comforts which he cannot
now see and oy If comforts arise, he will enjoys them
as they come.â€
â€œ Now then, go on,â€ said Hugh. â€œWhat else?â€
â€œThere will be little checks and mortifications.continually
â€”when you see boys leaping over this, and climbing that,
and playing at the other, while you must-stand out, and can
only look on. And some people will pity you in a way you
donâ€™t like; and some may even laugh at you.â€
â€œOh, mamma!â€ exclaimed Agnes. -
â€œI have seen and heard children in the street do it,â€
replied Mrs. Proctor. â€˜This is a thing almost below
notice; but I mentioned it while we were reckoning up
â€œWell, what else?â€ said Hugh.
â€œSooner or later, you- will have to follow some -way of
life, determined by this accident, instead of one that. you
would have liked better.. But we need not: think of this
yet :â€”not till you have become quite accustomed: to. a
â€œWell, what else?â€
274 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œT must ask you now. I can think of nothing more;
and I hope there is not much else, for indeed I think here
is quite enough for a boy-â€”or any one elseâ€”to bear.â€
â€œT will bear it, though,â€”you will see.â€
â€œVou will find great helps. These misfortunes, of them-
selves, strengthen oneâ€™s mind. They have some advantages
too. You will be a better scholar for your lameness, I
have no doubt. You will read more books, and have a
mind richer in thoughts. You will be more beloved ;â€”not
out of mere pity; for people in general will soon leave off
pitying you, when once you learn to be active again; but
because you have kept faith with your schoolfellows, and
shown that you can bear pain. Yes, you will be more
loved by us all; and you yourself will love God more for
having given you something to bear for His sake.â€
â€œT hope so,â€”I think so,â€ said Hugh. â€œOh, mother! I
may be very happy yet.â€
â€œVery happy; and, when you have once made up your
mind to everything, the less you think and speak about it,
the happier you will be. It is very right for us now, when it
is all new, and strange, and painful, to talk it well over; to
face it completely; but when your mind is made up, and
you are a Crofton boy again, you will not wish to speak
much of your own concerns, unless it be to me, or to Agnes,
sometimes, when your heart is full.â€
â€œOr to Dale, when you are far off.â€
â€œYes,â€”to Dale, or some one friend at Crofton. But there
is only one Friend that one is quite sure to get strength from,
LITTLE VICTORIES. 175
a LL Oe
â€”the same who has given strength to all the brave people
that ever lived, and comfort to all sufferers. When the
greatest of all Sufferers wanted relief, what did He do?â€
â€œHe went by Himself, and prayed,â€ said Agnes.
â€œVes, that is the way,â€ observed Hugh, as if he knew by
Mr. Shaw presently came, to say that tea was ready.
â€œI am too big a baby to be carried now,â€ cried Hugh,
gaily. â€œLet me try if I cannot go alone.â€
â€œ Why,â€”there is the step at the parlour door,â€ said Mr,
â€™ Shaw, doubtfully. â€œAt any rate, stop till I bring a light.â€
But Hugh followed close upon his uncleâ€™s heels, and was
over the step before his aunt supposed he was half-way across
the hall.. After tea, his uncle and he were so full of play,
that the ladies could hardly hear one another speak till Hugh
was gone to bed, too tired to laugh any more.
ArTEeR Mr. Proctor had come and was gone, and Mrs.
Proctor was gone with him, Hugh began to wonder why
Tooke had never paid the visit he had promised. Several
boys had called; some to thank Hugh for balls that he had
quilted ; some to see how he got on; and some to bring him
Crofton news. Mr. Tooke had fastened his horse up at the
door, in passing, and stepped in for a few minutes, two or
three times a week ; but it was now within six days of the
holidays, and the one Hugh most wished to see had not
appeared. His uncle observed his wistful look when the
door-bell rang, and drew his conclusions. He said, on the
Wednesday before the breaking-up, that he was going to
drive past the Crofton school; that it was such a fine day
that he thought Hugh might go with him, and perhaps they
might persuade some one to come home to dinner with
DOMESTIC MANNERS. 17)
Hugh had never enjoyed the open air more than during
this drive. He had yet much to learn about the country, and
it was all as beautiful as it was new. His uncle pointed out
to him the fieldfares wheeling in flocks over the fallows; and
the rabbits in the warren, scampering away with their little
WAITING FOR MR. TOOKE,
white tails turned up; and the robin hopping in the frosty
pathway ; and the wild ducks splashing among the reeds in
the marshes. They saw the cottagersâ€™ children trying to
collect snow enough from the small remains of the drifts to
make snow-balls, and obliged to throw away the dirty snow
that would melt, and would not bind. As they left the road,
and turned through a copse, because Mr. Shaw had business:
with Mr, Sullivanâ€™s gamekeeper, a pheasant flew out, whirring
from some ferns and brambles, and showed its long tail-
feathers before it disappeared over the hedge. All these
sights were new to Hugh: and all, after pain and confine-
ment, looked beautiful and gay.
i78 THE CROFTON BOYS.
Mr. Shaw could not stop for Hugh to get out at Crofton;
so; when his arrival was seen, the boys were allowed to go
out of bounds, as far as the gig, to speak to their school-
fellow. Mr. Shaw asked â€˜Tooke to mount, and go home
with them for the day; and Tooke was so pleased,â€”so
agreeably surprised to see Hugh look quite well and merry,
that he willingly ran off to ask leave, and to wash his face,
and change his jacket. When he had jumped in, and
Hugh had bidden the rest good bye, a sudden shyness
came over â€˜his poor conscious visitor; and it was not lessened
by Mr. Shaw telling Tooke that he did not do credit to
Crofton air,â€”so puny as he seemed ; and that he looked at
that moment more like one that had had a bad accident
than Hugh did. When Mr. Shaw perceived how the boyâ€™s
eyes filled with tears in an instant, he probably thought
within himself that Tooke was sadly weak-spirited, and
altogether more delicate than he had been aware of.
Hugh was full of questions about Crofton matters, how-
ever; and long before they reached Mr. Shawâ€™s they were
chattering as busily as possible. But then it was all spoiled
to Tooke again by seeing Hugh lifted out, and his crutches
brought to him, and Agnes ready to take his hat and cloak,
instead of his being able to run about, doing everything for
â€™ The sofa had been left in Hughâ€™s room, and there was a
fire there every afternoon for him and Agnes, that their aunt
might have the parlour to herself till tea-time. The three
young people went, therefore, to this room after dinner.
DOMESTIC MANNERS, 179
Agnes felt > little uncomfortable, as she always did when
any Crofton boys came. They had so much to say to each
other of things that she did not understand, and so very
little to say to her, that she continually felt as if she was in
the way. When she proposed, as usual, that Hugh should
go through his exercises in walking and running (for she
was indefatigable in helping him to learn to walk well, and
superintended his practice every afternoon), he refused
hastily and rather rudely. Of course she could not know
that he had a reason for wishing not to show off his lame-
ness before Tooke, and she thought him unkind. He might
indeed have remembered to ask her before to say nothing
this afternoon about his exercises. She took out her workÂ»
and sat down at some distance from the boys; but they did
. hot get on. It was very awkward.. At last the boysâ€™ eyes
met, and they saw that they should like to talk freely if
â€œAgnes,â€ said Hugh, â€œcannot you go somewhere, and
leave us alone?â€
â€œT hardly know where I can go,â€ replied Agnes. â€œI
must not disturb aunt; and there is no fire anywhere
â€œOh, I am sure aunt won't mind, for this one afternoon.
You can be as still as a mouse; and she can doze awe): as
if nobody was there.â€
â€œT can be as still as a mouse here,â€ observed Agnes,
â€œT can take my work to that farthest window ; and if â€˜yout
whisper, I shall not hear a word you say. Or, if-I do hear
180 THE CROFTON BOYS. .
a word, I will tell you directly. And you will let me come,
now and then, and warm myself, if I find I cannot hold my
needle any longer.â€
â€œNo, no; that wonâ€™t do. We canâ€™t talk so. - Do just go,
and see whether aunt cannot let you be there for this one
Agnes did not like to refuse anything to Hugh; but she
hesitated to take such a bold step as this. In his eagerness,
Hugh requested the same favour of Tooke; but Tooke,
more anxious than even Agnes to oblige, had not courage
for such an errand. Hugh snatched his crutches, and
declared he would go himself. But now Agnes gave way.
She gathered up her work, and left the room. Hugh little
imagined where she went, this cold, darkening December
afternoon. She went to her own room, put on her cloak,
and walked up and down till tea was ready, without fire or
candle, and not very happy in her mind.
Meanwhile the boys basked before a glowing fire. Tooke
began directly to open his full heart.
â€œWas that true that your sister said at dinner, about your
always longing so to come to Crofton?â€
_ â€œHow sorry you must be that you came! How you
must wish you had never seen me!â€
â€œT knew there would be things to bear whenever I came,
and particularly while I was the youngest. Your father told
me that ; and one of the things that made me want to come
more than ever was his telling me how you bore things
DOMESTIC MANNERS. 181
when you were the youngestâ€”being set on the top of that
wall, and so on.â€
â€˜Indeed, indeed, I never meant to hurt you when I
pulled your footâ€”I suppose you are quite sure that it was I
that gave the first pullP Are you?â€
â€œWhy, yes; I am-sure of that; and so are you: but I
know very well that you meant no harm; and that is the
reason I would not tell. After what you did about the
sponge, I could not think you meant any harm to me.â€
Tooke could not remember anything about a sponge;
and when he was told, he thought nothing of it. He went
â€œDo you think you shall never tell anybody, as long as
you live, who pulled you first ?â€
â€œNever,â€ said Hugh, â€œunless I tell it in my sleep; and
that is not likely, for I never think about it in the daytime,
â€”or scarcely ever; and when I can run about again, I dare
say I shall never think of it at all.â€
â€œBut will you ever run about ?â€
â€œ Oh, yes, finely! you will see. I shall begin first with a
little stick-leg, very light. Mother is going to send some
for me to try. When I am a man, J shall have one that
will look like a real foot; but that will not be so light as
the one you will see me with after the holidays. But you
do not half know what I can do now, with my crutches.
Here, I will show you.â€ Â°
As he flourished about, and played antics, Agnes heard
the pit-pat of his crutches, and she thought she might as
182 THE CROFTON BOYS.
well have been there, if they had told all their secrets, and
had got to play. But the noise did not last long, for Hughâ€™s
performances did not make Tooke very merry; and the
boys sat down quietly again.
â€œNow, I'll tell you what,â€ said Tooke. â€œIam a bigger
and stronger boy than you, without considering this accident.
Tâ€™ll take care of you all the time you are at Crofton; and
always afterwards if I can. Mind you that. If anybody
teases you, you cali me,â€”thatâ€™s all. Say you will.â€
â€œâ€œWhy,â€™said Hugh, â€œI had rather take care of myself.
I had rather make no difference between you and every-
â€œThere, now! You donâ€™t forgive me, after all.â€
â€œYT do,â€”upon my word I do. But why should I make
any difference between you and the rest, when you did not
mean me any harm,â€”any more than they? Besides, it
might make people suspect.â€
â€œWell, let them. Sometimes I wish,â€ continued Tooke,
twisting himself about in the uneasiness of his mind, â€œsome-
times I wish that everybody knew now. They say murderers
cannot keep their secret. They are sure to tell, when they
cannot bear it any longer.â€
â€œThat is because of their consciences,â€ said Hugh.
â€œBut you are not guilty of anything, you know. I am
sure I can keep a secret easily enough when I am not to
blame in it.â€
â€œYes! you have shown that. Butâ€”â€”â€
â€œCome! donâ€™t let us talk any more about that.â€”Only
DOMESTIC MANNERS. 183,
just this. Has anybody accused you? Because I must
knowâ€”I must be on my guard.â€
â€œNobody has said a word, because my father put us all
upon honour never to mention it; but I always feel as if all
their eyes were upon me all day, and sometimes in the
â€œNonsense! I donâ€™t believe anybody has pitched on
you particularly. And when school opens again all their
eyes will be on me to see how I manage. But I donâ€™t
mean to mind that. Anybody may stare that likes.â€
Hugh sighed, however, after saying this; and Tooke wat
silent. At length he declared,â€”
â€˜â€œâ€œWhatever you say against it, I shall always take your
part; and you have only to ask me, and I will always run
anywhere, and do anything for you. Mind you that.â€
â€œThank you,â€ said Hugh. â€˜Now tell me about the
new usher; for I daresay you know more than the other
boys do. Holt and I shall be under him altogether, I
â€œVes; and you will be well off, by what I hear. He is
as little like Mr. Carnaby as need be.â€
All the rest of the afternoon was taken up with stories of
Mr. Carnaby and other ushers, so that the boys were sur-
prised when the maid came to tell them that tea was ready.
Agnes was making tea. Hugh was so eager to repeat to
his uncle some of the good stories that he had just heard,
that he did not observe, as his aunt did, how red his sisterâ€™s
fingers were, and how she shivered still.
184 THE CROFTON BOYS,
â€œMy dear,â€ said Mrs. Shaw, â€œyou have let these boys
keep you away from the fire.â€
â€œYes, aunt. Never mind! I shall be warm enough
â€œBut you should not allow it, Agnes. How are they
ever to learn manners if they are not made to give way to
young ladies while they are young? Boys are sure to be
rude enough, at any rate. Their sisters should know better
than to spoil them.â€ ;
While poor Agnesâ€™ hardships were ending with a lecture,
Hugh was chattering away, not at all aware that he had
treated his sister much as Phil had treated him on his
going to Crofton. If any one had told him that he was
tyrannical, he would have been as much surprised as he had
been at Philâ€™s tyranny over him. He did not know indeed
that his sister had been in the cold and in the dark; but
he might have felt that he had used her with a roughness
which is more painful to a loving heart than cold and dark
- ness are to the body.
HOLT AND HIS DIGNITY,
THERE was no reason now why Hugh should not go to
church. He and his crutches went between his uncle and
aunt in the gig one way, and between his uncle and Agnes
home again; and he could walk up the aisle quite well.
He had been pleased at the idea of attending church again,
and had never thought of the pain of being stared at for
his lameness. This pain came upon him as he entered the
church ; and as he went up towards his-uncleâ€™s pew, and saw
the crowd of Crofton boys all looking at him, and some of
the poor people turning their heads as he passed, to observe
how he got on, he felt covered with confusion, and wished
that he had waited one more Sunday, when the Crofton
boys would have been all gone, and there would have been
fewer eyes to mark his infirmity. But better thoughts soon
arose, and made him ashamed of his false shame; and
before the service was over he felt how trifling is any mis-
186 THE CROFTON BOYS.
fortune while we are friends with God, in comparison with
the least wrong-doing which sets us at a distance from Him.
He could not but feel after church that he had rather, a
thousand times, be as he was than be poor Lamb, who
slunk away from him, and hid himself behind the other
-boys,â€”his mind sore and troubled, no doubt, about his
debt, and his cheating transaction, so long ago. Hugh
asked some of the boys to bring up Lamb, to shake hands
before parting for the holidays; but he would not come,
and wriggled himself out of sight. Then Hugh recollected
that he could forgive Lamb as well without Lambâ€™s knowing
it; and he let him alone. :
Then there was Holt. He and Holt had parted on
uneasy terms; and Holt now looked shy and uncomfort-
able. Hugh beckoned to him, and asked him whether he
was really to remain at Crofton all the holidays.
â€œVes,â€ said Holt. â€˜I am the only one not going home,
unless you are to stay hereabouts. Even Tooke is to be at
his uncleâ€™s in London. When do you go home?â€
â€œNot quite yet ;â€”not at the beginning of the holidays,â€
said Hugh, hesitating, and looking up at his uncle. For,
in truth, he did not know exa~tly what was planned for him,
and had been afraid to ask.
His uncle said, very kindly, that he was not going to part
with Hugh till school opened again. He would recover
his full strength better in the country; and his aunt had
promised his parents that he should be a stout boy again
by the time he was wanted at Crofton.
AOLT AND HIS DIGNITY. 187
This was what Hugh had dreaded to hear; and when he
thought that he should not see his parents, nor little Harry,
for so many months, his heart sank. But he was still in the
church ; and perhaps the place helped him to remember his
motherâ€™s expectation that he should not fail, and his own
resolution to bear cheerfully whatever troubles his misfortune
brought upon him, from the greatest to the least. So when
he heard his uncle saying to Holt that he should ask Mr.
Tooke to let him come and spend two or three weeks at his
house, he said so heartily that he hoped Holt would come,
â€˜hat Holt felt that whatever discontent had been between
them was forgiven and forgotten.
Phil went home, of course; and when Holt arrived at
Mr. Shawâ€™s, Agnes also returned to London, that she might
see something of Phil. Then the two boys were glad to be
together, though Hugh would rather have had his dear
friend Dale for a companion; and Holt knew that this was
the case. Yet Hugh saw, and was glad to see, that Holt
was improved. He had plucked up some spirit, and was
more like other lads, though still, by his own account, too
much like a timid, helpless foreigner among the rough
All the boys had some lessons to prepare in the holidays,
Every one who had ever written a theme had a theme to
write now. Every boy who could construe had a good
piece of Latin to prepare; and all had either Latin or
â€™ English verses to learn by heart. Mrs. Shaw made a point
of her young visitors sitting down every morning after
a THE CROFTON BOYS.
breakfast to their business; and Hugh was anxious to spare
no pains this time about his theme, that, if he was to be
praised, he might deserve it. He saw that Holt could not
fix his attention well, either upon work or play; and one
morning, when Hugh was pondering how, without knowing
anything of history, he should find a modern example to
match well with his ancient one (which he had picked up
by chance), Holt burst upon his meditation with,
â€œT have a good mind to tell you what has been upon
my mind this ever so long.â€
â€œWait a minute,â€ said Hugh. â€œT must find my example
No example could he find, to his satisfaction, this day.
He gave it up till to-morrow, and then asked Holt what was
on his mind. But Holt now drew back, and did not think
he could tell. This made Hugh press; and Hughâ€™s press-
ing looked like sympathy, and gave Holt courage: so that
the thing came out at last. Holt was very miserable, for he
was deep in debt, and the boys never let him alone about
it; and he did not see how he should ever pay, as nobody
was likely to give him any money.
** Remember, it is only sixpence that you owe meâ€”not a
shilling,â€ said Hugh. :
Holt sighed. Perhaps he had hoped that Hugh would
excuse him altogether. He explained that this sixpence was
not all, nor the chief part. He told that, when the whole
school was on the heath one Saturday, they had seen a
balloon rising at a distance, and some boys began betting
HOLT AND HIS DIGNITY. 189
about what direction it would move in when it ceased to
rise perpendicularly. The betting spread till the boys told
him he must bet, or he would be the only one left out, and
would look like a shabby fellow.
â€œAnd you did?â€ exclaimed Hugh. â€œ How silly
â€œVou would have done it, if you had been there.â€
â€œNo I should not.â€
â€œYes, you would. Or, if you had not, it would have been
because of â€”â€”I know what.â€
â€œ Because of what, pray?â€
â€œBecause of something the boys say about you. They
say you are very fond of money.â€
â€œTI! fond of money! I declare I never heard of such a
â€œWell, you know you made a great fuss about that half-
â€œAs if it was about the money!â€ cried Hugh. â€œI should
not have cared a bit if my uncle had asked me for it back
again the next day. It was the being cheated. That was
the thing. What a shame â€
â€œ By-the-bye, did your uncle ever ask what you did with
â€œNo; but he will next week, at the January fair. He
will be sure to ask then. What a shame of the boys to say
so, when I forgave u
He remembered, just in time, that he had better not
boast, or speak aloud, of having forgiven Lamb his debt in
secret. He resolved that he would not say another word,
â€˜190 THE CROFTON BOYS.
but let the boys see that he did not care for money for its
own sake. They were all wrong, but he would be above
noticing it; and, besides, he really had been very anxious
about his half-crown, and they had only mistaken the reason.
â€œâ€˜ How much did you bet on the balloon?â€ he inquired ot
â€œA shilling; and I lost.â€
â€œThen you owe eightdÃ©enpence.â€
â€œBut that is not all. I borrowed a shilling of Mereditk
to pay school fines BY
â€œChiefly for leaving my books about. Meredith says I
promised to pay him before the holidays, but I am sure I
never did. He twitted me about it so that I declare I would
have fought him, if I could have paid him first.â€
â€œThatâ€™s right,â€ exclaimed Hugh, â€œWhy, Holt, what a
different fellow you are! You never used to talk of fighting.â€
â€œBut this fellow Meredith plagued me so! If it had not
been for that shilling, I would have knocked him down.
Well, here is half a crown altogether ; and how am I ever to
get half a crown?â€
* Cannot you ask your uncle?â€
â€œNo; youknow I canâ€™t. You know he complains about
having to pay the bills for me before my father can send the
money from India.â€
â€œT suppose it would take too long to ask your father.
Yes; of course it would. There would be another holidays
before you could have an answer ; and almost another still.
HOLT AND HIS DIGNITY. IgI
I wonder what Uncle Shaw would say. He is very kind
always, but it might set him askin
â€œ And what should I do, staying here, if he should be
angry and refuse? What should I do every day at dinner?â€
â€œTI know what I would do?â€ said Hugh, decidedly. â€œI
would tell Mr. Tooke all about it, and ask him for half a
â€œMr. Tooke! Oh! I dare not.â€â€™
-â€œT dare,â€”in holiday-time. He is your master,â€”next to
being your father, while your father is so far away. You had
better ask Mr. Yooke, to be sure.â€
â€œWhat, go te Crofton, and speak to him? I really want
not to be a coward,â€”but I never could go and tell him.â€
â€œWrite him a letter, then. Yes, that is the way. Write
a letter, and I will get one of my uncleâ€™s men to carry it, and
wait for an answer; and then you will not be long in sus-
pense, at any rate.â€
â€œT wish I dare!â€
Holt was not long in passing from wishing to daring,
He wrote a letter, which Hugh thought would do, though
he rather wished Holt had not mentioned him as instiga-
ting the act. This was the letter:
â€œTHe MIL, January 6th.
â€œJT am very unhappy; and Proctor thinks I had
better tell you what is upon my mind. 1 owe some money,
and I do not see how I can ever pay it, unless you will help
192 THE CROFTON BOYS.
me. You know I have owed Proctor sixpence for ginger-
beer, this long time; and as Lamb has never paid him his
share, Proctor cannot excuse me this debt. Then I owe a
boy a shilling, lent me for school fines; and he never lets
me alone about it. Then I was led into betting a shilling
on a balloon, and I lost; and so I owe half a crown. If
you would lend me that sum, sir, I shall be obliged to you
for ever, and I shall never forget it.
Mr. Shawâ€™s man George carried the letter; but he brought
back neither letter nor money; only a message that Mr.
Tooke would call; which put Holt into a great fright, and
made Hugh rather uneasy.
There was no occasion for this, however. Mr. Tooke
came alone into the room where the boys were sitting; and
neither Mr. nor Mrs. Shaw appeared during the whole time ~
of his visit; a thing which was rather odd, but which the
boys were very glad of. When Mr. Tooke had told them
a little of some new boys expected after the holidays, he
â€œWell, now, Holt, let us see what can be done about
your affairs.â€ k
Holt looked uneasy, for it seemed as if Mr. Tooke was
not going to lend him the money,â€”or give it, which was
what he had hoped, while using the word â€œlend.â€
â€œTam glad you asked me,â€ continued Mr. Tooke 3 â€œfor
HOLT AND HIS DIGNITY. 193
people, whether they be men or boys, can usually retrieve
their affairs when they have resolution to face their difficulties.
There is no occasion to say anything about how you got
into debt. We must consider how you are to get out of it.â€
â€œThat is very kind indeed!â€ exclaimed Holt.
â€œAs to my lending you half a ctown,â€ continued Mr.
Tooke, â€œthat would not be helping you out of debt; for if
you had had any prospect of being able to pay half a crown,
you would not have needed to apply to me at all.â€
Holt sighed. Mr. Tooke went on,
â€œT cannot give you the money. I have less to give away
than I should like to have, for the sake of the poor people
round us. I cannot pay for a bet and school-fines while the
children of our neighbours want clothes and fire.â€
â€œNo, sir, certainly,â€ said both the boys.
â€œWhat do people do, all the world over, when they want
money?â€ asked Mr. Tooke. Holt looked puzzled. Hugh
smiled. Holt was hesitating whether to guess that they put
into the lottery, or dig for treasure, or borrow from their
friends, or what. Having always till lately lived in India,
where Europeans are rather lazy, and life altogether very lan-
guid, he did not see, as Hugh did, what Mr. Tooke could mean.
â€œWhen men come begging to our doors,â€ said Mr. Tooke,
â€œwhat is the first question we ask them ?â€
Holt still looked puzzled, and Hugh laughed, saying,
â€œWhy, Holt, you must know very well. We ask them
whether they cannot get work.â€
â€œWork!â€ cried Holt,
194 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œYes,â€ said Mr. Tooke. â€œThe fathers and uncles of
both of you work for what money they have; and so do I;
and so does every man among our neighbours who is satisfied
with his condition. As far as I see, you must get the money
you want in the same way.â€
â€œWork!â€ exclaimed Holt again.
â€œ How is he to get work?â€ asked Hugh.
â€œThat is where I hope to assist him,â€ replied Mr. Tooke.
â€œAre you willing to earn your half-crown, Holt?â€
â€œâ€˜T donâ€™t know how, sir.â€
â€œWidow Murray thinks she should have a better chance
for a new lodger if her little parlour was fresh papered ; but
she is too rheumatic to do it herself, and cannot afford to
engage a workman. If you like to try, under her directions,
I will pay you as your work deserves.â€
â€œBut, sir, I never papered a room in my life.â€
â€œNo more had the best paperhanger in London when he
first tried. But if you do not like that work, what do you
think of doing some writing for me? Our tables of rules
are dirty. If you will make good copies of our rules for all
the rooms in which they hang, in the course of the holidays,
I will pay you half a crown. But the copies must be quite
correct, and the writing good. I can offer you one other
choice. Our school library wants looking to. If you will
put fresh paper covers to all the books that want covering,
write the titles on the backs, compare the whole with the
catalogue, and arrange them properly on the shelves, I will
pay you half a crown.â€ i
HOLT AND HIS DIGNITY. 198
Holtâ€™s pleasure in the prospect of being out of debt was
swallowed up in the anxiety of undertaking anything so new
to him as work out of school. Hugh hurried him on to a
â€œDo choose the papering,â€ urged Hugh. â€œI can help
you in that, I do believe. I can walk that little way, to
widow Murrayâ€™s; and I can paste the paper. Widow
Murray will show you how to do it; and it is very easy,
if you once learn to join the pattern. I found that, when
_ Ihelped to paper the nursery closet at home.â€
â€œTt is an easy pattern to join,â€ said Mr. Tooke.
â€œThere, now! And that is the chief thing. If you do
the library books, I cannot help you, you know. And
remember, you will have two miles to walk each way; four
miles a day in addition to the work.â€
â€œHe can sleep at Crofton if he likes,â€ said Mr. Tooke,
â€œThat would be a queer way of staying at Uncle Shawâ€™s,â€
â€œThen there is copying the rules,â€ said Holt. â€œI might
do that here; and you might help me, if you liked.â€
â€œDull work!â€ exclaimed Hugh. â€œThink of copying the
same rules three or four times over! And then, if you
make mistakes, or if you do not write clearly, where is your
halfcrown? I donâ€™t mean that I would not help you, but
it would be the dullest work of all.â€
Mr. Tooke sat patiently waiting till Holt had made up
his mind. He perceived something that never entered
Hughâ€™s mind: that Holtâ€™s pride was hurt at the notion of
19 THE CROFTON BOYS.
doing workman's work. He wrote on a slip of paper these
few words, and pushed them across the table to Holt, with
Â© No debtor's hands are clean, however white they be:
Who digs and pays his wayâ€”the true gentleman is he.â€
Hoit coloured as he read, and immediately said that he
chose the papering job. Mr. Tooke rose, tossed the slip of
paper into the fire, buttoned up his coat, and said that he
should let widow Murray know that a workman would wait
upon her the next morning, and that she must have her
paste and brushes and scissors ready.
â€œ And a pair of steps,â€ said Hugh, with a sigh.
â€œSteps, of course,â€ replied Mr. Tooke. â€œ You will think
it a pretty paper, I am sure.â€
â€œ But, sir, she must quite understand that she is not at all
obliged to us,â€”that is, to me,â€ said Holt.
â€œCertainly. You will tell her so yourself, of course.â€
Here again Heltâ€™s pride was hurt; but the thought of
being out of Meredithâ€™s power sustained him.
When Mr. Tooke was gone, Hugh said to his com-
â€œT do not want you to tell me what Mr. Tooke wrote on
that paper that he burned.- I only want to know whethet
he asked you to choose so as to indulge me.â€
â€œYou! Oh, no! there was not a word about you.â€
â€œOh! very well,â€ replied Hugh, not sure whether he was
pleased or not. :
HOLT AND HIS DIGNITY. 197
THE QUESTION SETTLED.
The next morning was so fine that there was no difficulty
about Hughâ€™s walking the short distance to the widow
Murrayâ€™s ; and there, for three mornings, did the boys work
diligently, till the room was papered, and two cupboards
into the bargain. Holt liked it very well, except for two
198 THE CROFTON BOYS.
things: that Hugh was sure he could have done some diffi-
cult corners better than Holt had done them, if he could
but have stood upon the steps; and that widow Murray did
so persist in thanking him, that he had to tell her several
times over that she was not obliged to him at all, because
he was to be paid for the job.
Mr. Tooke came to see the work when it was done, and
returned to Mr. Shawâ€™s with the boys, in order to pay Holt
his half-crown immediately, and yet so that the widow should
not see. Hughâ€™s eye followed Mr. Tookeâ€™s hand as it went
a second time into his pocket; and he was conscious of
some sort of hope that he might be paid something too.
When no more silver came forth, he felt aware that he
ought not to have dreamed of any reward for the help he
had freely offered to his companion; and he asked himself
whether his schoolfellows were altogether wrong in thinking
him too fond of money, and whether he was altogether right
in having said that it was justice that he cared for, and
not money, when he had pressed his debtor hard. How-
ever this might be, he was very glad to receive his sixpence
from Holt. Ashe put it in his inner pocket, he observed
that this would be all the money he should have in the
world when he should have spent his five shillings in fairings
Holt made no answer. He had nothing to spend in the
fair; still less, anything left over. But he remembered that
he was out of debt,â€”that Meredith would twit him no more,
â€”and he began to whistle, so light-hearted, that no araount
HOLT AND HIS DIGNITY, 199
of money could have made him happier. He only left off
whistling to thank Hugh earnestly for having persuaded him
to open his heart to Mr. Tooke.
WHEN the day came for returning to Crofton, Hugh would
have left his crutches behind at his uncleâ€™s, so much did he
prefer walking with the little light stick-leg he had been
practising with for a fortnight. But his aunt shook her head
at this, and ordered the crutches into the gig. He still walked
slowly and cautiously, and soon grew tired; and she thought
he might find it a relief at times to hop about on his crutches.
They were hidden under the bed, however, immediately on
his arrival; so anxious was Hugh to make the least of his
lameness, and look as like other boys as possible, both for
Tookeâ€™s sake and his own. When the boys hadâ€™ been all
assembled for one day, and everybody had seen how little â€”
Proctor could walk, the subject seemed to be dropped, and
nothing was talked of but the new usher. So Hugh said to
himself; and he really thought that he had fully taken his
place again as a Crofton boy, and that he should be let off
all notice of his infirmity henceforth, and all trials from it,
except such as no one but himself need know of. He was
even not quite sure whether he should not be a gainer by iâ€˜
on the whole. He remembered Tookeâ€™s assurances of pro-
tection and friendship; he found Phil very kind and watch-
ful; and Mrs. Watson told him privately that he was to be
"free of the orchard. She showed him the little door through
which he might enter at any time, alone, or with one com-
panion. Here he might read, or talk, and get out of sight
of play that he could not share. The privilege was to be
continued as long as no mischief was done to anything within
the orchard. The prospect of the hours, the quiet hours,
the bright hours that he should spend here alone with Dale,
delighted Hugh; and when he told Dale, Dale liked the
prospect too; and they went together, at the earliest oppor-
tunity, to survey their new domain, and plan where they
would sit in spring, and how they would lie on the grass in
summer, and be closer and closer friends for ever.
Holt was encouraged to hope that he should have his turn
sometimes; but he saw that, though Hugh cared more for
him than before the holidays, he yet loved Dale the best.
While Hugh was still in spirits at the thought that his
worst trials were over, and the pleasure of his indulgences to
come, he felt very complacent; and he thought he would
gratify himself with one more reading of the theme which he
had written in the holidays,â€”the theme which he really
believed Mr. Tooke might fairly praise,â€”so great had been
the pains he had taken with the composition, and so neatly
202 THE CROFTON BOYS.
was it written out. He searched for it in vain among his
books and in his portfolio. Then he got leave to go up to
his room, and turn over all his clothes. He did so in vain;
and at last he remembered that it was far indeed out of his
reach,â€”in the drawer of his auntâ€™s work-table, where it had
lain ever since she had asked him for it, to read to a lady
who had visited her.
The themes would certainly be called for the first thing
on Mr. Tookeâ€™s appearance in school, at nine the next
morning. â€˜ The duties of the early morning would leave no
one any time to run to Mr. Shawâ€™s then. If anybody went,
it must be now. The first day was one of little regularity;
it was only just beginning to grow dusk; any willing boy
might be back before supper; and there was no doubt that
leave would be given on such an occasion. So Hugh made
his way to the playground as fast as possible, and told his
trouble to his best friends there,â€”to Phil, and Holt, and
Dale, and as many as happened to be within hearing.
â€œNever mind your theme!â€ said Phil. â€˜Nobody ex-
pected you to do one; and you have only to say that you
left it behind you.â€
â€œTtis not that,â€ said Hugh. â€œI must show up my theme.â€
â€œYou canâ€™t, you know, if you have not it to show,â€ said
two or three, who thought this settled the matter.
â€œ But it is there: it is at my uncleâ€™s, if any one would go
for it,â€ said Hugh, beginning to be agitated.
â€œGo for it!â€ exclaimed Phil, â€œWhat, in the dark,â€”
this freezing afternoon?â€
â€œTt is not near dark ; it will not be dark this hour. Any-
body might run there and back before supper.â€
He looked at Dale; but Dale looked another way. For
HUGHâ€™S DISTRESS ABOUT HIS THEME,
asmoment he thought of Tookeâ€™s permission to appeal to
him when he wanted a friend; but Tooke was not withia
hearing, and he dismissed the thought of pointing out
Tooke to anybodyâ€™s notice. He turned away as Phil
204 THE CROFTON BOYS.
repeated that it was quite certain that there would be no
bad consequences from his being unprovided with a theme,
which was not one of his regular lessons.
Phil was not quite easy, however; nor were the others
who heard; and in a minute they looked round for Hugh.
He was leaning his face upon his arms against the orchard
wall, and when, with gentle force, they pulled him away,
they saw that his face was bathed in tears. He sobbed out,
â€œTI took such pains with that theme,â€”all the holidays!
And I canâ€™t go for it myself.â€
There were loud exclamations from many against Phil,
against one another, and against themselves; and now
everybody was eager to go. Phil stopped all who had
started off, saying that it was his business; and the next
moment Phil was at Mr. Tookeâ€™s study door, asking leave
of absence till supper.
â€œLittle Holt has been beforehand with you,â€ said Mr.
Tooke. â€˜I refused him, however, as he is not so fit as
you to be out after dark. Off with you!â€
Before Phil returned â€˜it struck Hugh that he had been
very selfish, and that it was not a good way of bearing his
trial to impose on any one a walk of four miles, to repair a
piece of carelessness of his own. Nobody blamed him;
but he did not like to look in the faces round. him, -to
see what people thought. When Phil returned, fresh and
hungry from the frosty air, and threw down the paper, saying,
â€œThere is your theme, and my aunt is very sorry.â€ Hugh
â€œOh, Phil, and I am so sorry too! I hope you are no
â€œ Never mind,â€ replied Phil. â€˜There is your theme.â€
And with this Hugh was obliged to be satisfied, but it left
him exceedingly uncomfortableâ€”sorry for Philâ€”disappointed
in Daleâ€”and much more disappointed in himself. The
thought of what Holt had wished to do was the only pleasant
part of it, and Hugh worked beside Holt, and talked with
him all the evening.
Hugh felt the next morning as if he was never to have
any pleasure from his themes, though they were the lesson he
did best. This one was praised quite as much as the former
one, and he did not this time tell anybody what Mr. Tooke
had said about it; but the pleasure was spoiled by the
recollection that his brother had run four miles on account
of it, and that he himself must have appeared to others
â€˜more selfish than he thought them. He burned his theme
that he might the more easily forget all about it, and the
moment after he had done so Phil said he should have kept
it, as other boys did theirs, for his parents to see.
Mr. Crabbe was just such a master as it was good for the
little boys to be under. He did not punish capriciously, nor
terrify them by anything worse than his strictness. Very
strict he was, and he thus caused them some fear every day;
for Holt was backward, and not very clever; and Hugh was
still much less able to learn than most other boys. But all
felt that Mr. Crabbe was not unreasonable, and they always
knew exactly how much to be afraid of. Whether he had
206 THE CROFTON BOYS.
inquired, or been told, the story of Hughâ€™s lameness they
did not know. He said nothing about it except just asking
Hugh whether it tired him to stand up in class, saying that
he might sit at the top or bottom of the class, instead of taking
places, if he chose. Hugh did find it rather fatiguing at
first, but he did not like to take advantage of Mr. Crabbeâ€™s
offer, because it so happened that he was almost always at
the bottom of his classes, and to have withdrawn from the
contest would have looked like a trick to hide the shame,
and might have caused him to be set down as a dunce who
never could rise. He thanked Mr. Crabbe, and said that if
he should rise in his classes, and keep a good place for some
time, he thought he should be glad to sit instead of stand-
ing, but meantime he had rather be tired. Then the feeling
of fatigue went off before he rose, or saw any chance. of
This inability to do his lessons so well as other boys was a
deep and lasting grief to Hugh. Though he had in reality
improved much since he came to Crofton, and was now and
then cheered by some proof of this, his general inferiority
in this respect was such as to mortify him every day of his
life, and sometimes to throw him almost into despair. He
saw that everybody pitied him for the loss of his foot, but
not for this other trouble, while he felt this to be rather the
worst of the two; and all the more because he was not sure
himself whether or not he could help it, as every one else
seemed certain that he might. When he said his prayer in
his bed, he earnestly entreated that he might be able to bear
the one trouble, and be delivered from the other; and when,
as the spring came on, he was found by one friend or another
lying on the grass with his face hidden, he was often praying
with tears for help in doing this duty, when he was thought
to be grieving that he could not play at leaping or foot ball,
like other boys. And yet the very next evening when the
whole school were busy over their books, and there was
nothing to interfere with his work, he would pore over his
lesson without taking in half the sense, while his fancy was
straying everywhere but where it oughtâ€”perhaps to little
Harry, or the Temple Gardens at home, or to Cape Horn, or
Japanâ€”some way farther off still. It did not often happen
now, as formerly, that he forgot before morning a lesson well
learned overnight. He was aware that now everything de.
208 THE CROFTON BOYS.
pended on whether he was once sure of his lesson, but the
difficulty was in once being sure of it.
Finding Philâ€™s kindness continue througn the first weeks
and months of the half-year, Hugh took courage at last to
open his mind pretty freely to his brother, offering to do
anything in the world for Phil, if he would only hear him
his lessons every evening till he could say them perfect,
Phil was going to plead that he had no time, when Hugh
â€œThe thing is that it does not help me to say them to
_ just anybody. Saying them to somebody that I am afraid
of is what I want.â€
â€œWhy, you are not afraid of me?â€ said Phil.
â€œYes I amâ€”rather.â€ .
â€œOh, because you are older; and you are so much more
of a Crofton boy than I amâ€”~and you are very strictâ€”and
â€œYes, you will find me pretty strict, I can tell you,â€ said
Phil, unable to restrain a complacent smile on finding that
somebody was afraid of him. â€œWell, we must see what we
can do. I will hear you to-night, at any rate.â€
Between his feeling of kindness and the gratification of his
vanity, Phil found himself able to hear his brotherâ€™s lessons
every evening. He was certainly very strict, and was not
sparing of such pushes, joggings, and ridicule as were neces-
sary to keep Hugh up to his work. Those were very provok-
ing sometimes; hut Hugh tried to bear them for the sake of
â€˜the gain. Whenever Phil would condescend to explain, in
fresh words, the sense of what Hugh had to learn, he saved
trouble to both, and the lesson went off quickly and easily ;
but sometimes he would not explain anything, and soon
went away in impatience, leaving Hugh .. the midst of his
perplexities. There was a chance, on such occasions, that
Firth might be at leisure, or Dale able to help, so that, one
way and another, Hugh found his affairs improving as the
spring advanced ; and he began to lose his anxiety, and to .
' gain credit with the usher. He also now and then won a
place in his classes.
Towards the end of May, when the trees were full of leaf,
and the evenings sunny, and the open air delicious quite up
to bed-time, Phil became persuaded, very suddenly, that
Hugh could get on by himself now; that it was not fair that
he should be helped ; and that it was even hurtful to him to
rely on any one but himself. If Phil had acted gradually
upon this conviction, withdrawing his help by degrees, it
might have been all very well ; but he refused at once and
decidedly to have anything more to do with Hughâ€™s lessons,
as he was quite old and forward enough now to do them by
himself. This announcement threw his brother into a state
of consternation not at all favourable to learning, and the
next morning Hugh made several blunders. He did the
same every day that week, was every afternoon detained
from play to learn his lessons again, and on the Saturday
morning (repetition day) he lost all the places he had gained,
and left off at the bottom of every class.
210 THE CROFTON BOYS.
What could Mr. Crabbe suppose but that a sudden fit of
idleness was the cause of this falling back? It appeared so
to him and to the whole school; and poor Hugh felt as if
there was scorn in every eye that looked upon his disgrace.
He thought there could not be a boy in the school who did
not see or hear that he was at the bottom of every class.
Mr. Crabbe always desired to be just; and he now gave
Hugh the opportunity of explaining, if he had anything to
say. He remained in the school-room after the boys had
left it, and asked Hugh a question or two. But Hugh
sobbed and cried so bitterly that he could not speak so as
to be understood ; and he did not wish to explain, feeling
that he was much obliged to Phil for his former help, and
that he ought not to complain to any master of its being now
withdrawn. So Mr. Crabbe could only hope that next week
would show a great difference, and advise him to go out
with the rest this af moon, to refresh himself for a new
Hugh did not know whether he had not rather have
been desired to stay at home than go out among so many
who considered him disgraced. It really was hard (though
Holt stood by him, and Dale was his companion as usual)
to bear the glances he saw, and the words that came to his
ear. Some boys looked to see how red his eyes were, some
were surprised to see him abroad, and hinted at favouritism
because he was not shut up in the school-room. Some
asked whether he could say his alphabet yet; and others
whether he could spell â€œdunce.â€ The most cruel thing of
- all was to see Tooke in particularly high spirits. He kept
away from Hugh; but Hughâ€™s eye followed him from afar, and
saw that he capered and laughed, and was gayer than at any
time this half-year. Hugh saw into his heart (or thought he
did) as plain as he saw to the bottom of the clear stream in
the meadows, to which they were bound for their afternoonâ€™s
â€œT know what Tooke is feeling,â€ thought he â€˜He is
pleased to see me lowered, as long as it is not his doing.
He is sorry to see me suffer by my lameness, because that
hurts his conscience; but he is pleased to see me wrong and
disgraced, because that relieves him of the feeling of being
obliged to me. If I were now to put him in mind of his
promise, to stand by me and protect meâ€”I declare I willâ€”
it will stop his wicked joyâ€”it will make him remember his
Dale wondered to see Hugh start off, as fast as he could
go, to overtake the foremost boys who were just entering the
meadow, and spreading themselves over it. Tooke could,
alas! like everybody else, go faster than Hugh; and there
was no catching him, though he did not seem to see that
anybody wanted him. Neither could he be made to hear,
though Hugh called him as loud as he could shout. Holt
was So sorry to see Hugh hot and agitated, that he made no
objection to going after Tooke, though he was pretty sure
Tooke would be angry with him. Holt could run as fast as
anybody, and he soon caught the boy he was pursuing, and
told him that little Proctor wanted him very much indeed,
212 THE CROFTON BOYS.
that very moment. Tooke sent him about his business,
saying that he could not come; and then immediately pro-
posed brook-leaping for their sport, leading the way himself
over a place so wide that no lesser boy, however nimble, -
could follow. Holt came running back, shaking his head,
and showing that his errand was in vain. Tooke was so full
of play that he could think of nothing else, which was a
â€œAh! and you little know,â€ thought Hugh, â€œ how deep a
With a swelling heart he turned away, and went towards
the bank of the broader stream which ran through the
meadows. Dale was with him in a moment,â€”very sorry for
him, because everybody else was at brook-leaping,â€”the
sport that Hugh had loved so well last autumn. Dale
passed his arm round Hughâ€™s neck, and asked where they
should sit and tell stories,â€”where they could best hide
themselves, so that nobody should come and tease them.
Hugh wished to thank his friend for this; but he could not
speak directly. They found a pleasant place among the
flowering reeds on the bank, where they thought nobody
would see them; and having given Holt to understand that
they did not want him, they settled themselves for their
favourite amusement of story-telling.
But Hughâ€™s heart was too full and too sick for even his
favourite amusement; and Dale was perhaps too sorry for
him to be the most judicious companion he could have at
such a time. Dale agreed that the boys were hard and
careless; and he added that it was particularly shameful to
bring up a boyâ€™s other faults when he was in disgrace for
one. In the warmth of his zeal, he told how one boy had
been laughing at Hughâ€™s conceit about his themes, when he
had shown to-day that he could not go half through his
. syntax; and how he had heard another say that all that did
not signify half so much as his being mean about money.
Between Hughâ€™s eagerness to hear, and Daleâ€™s sympathy,
five minutes were not over before Hugh had heard every
charge that could be brought against his character, and
knew that they were all circulating this very afternoon. In
his agony of mind he declared that everybody at Crofton
hated him,â€”that he could never hold up his head there,â€” .
that he would ask to be sent home by the coach, and never
come near Crofton again.
214 THE CROFTON BOYS.
Dale now began to be frightened, and wished he had not ~
said so much. He tried to make light of it; but Hugh
seemed disposed to do something decided ;â€”to go to his
Uncle Shawâ€™s, at least, if he could not get home. Dale
earnestly protested against any such idea, and put him in
mind how he was respected by everybody for his bravery
about the loss of his foot.
â€œRespected? Not a bit of it!â€ cried Hugh. â€œThey
none of them remember; they donâ€™t care a bit about it.â€
Dale was sure they did.
â€œT tell you they donâ€™t. I know they donâ€™t. I know it
for certain ; and I will tell you how I know. There is the
very boy that did it,â€”the very boy that pulled me from the
wallâ€”Oh! if you knew who it was, you wozld say it was a
Dale involuntarily sat up, and looked back, over the tops
of the reeds, at the boys who were brook-leaping.
Â© Would you like to know who it was that did it, Dale >?â€™;
â€œYes, if you like to tell; butâ€”And if he treats you ill,
after the way you used him, he cannot expect you should
consider him so. Besides, I am your best friend; and I
always tell you everything !â€
â€œYes, that you do. And he has treated meso shamefully
to-day! And I have nobody to speak to that knows. You
will promise neverâ€”never to tell anybody as long as you
â€œTo be sure,â€ said Dale.
** And you won't tell anybody that I have told you?â€
â€œTo be sure not.â€
Here there was a rustling among the reeds which startled
then: both, with a sort of guilty feeling. It was Holt, quite
out of breath.
â€œT donâ€™t want to interrupt you,â€ said he, â€œand I know
you wish I would not come; but the others made me come.
The biggest boys lay that the second size canâ€™t jump the
brook at the willow-stump ; and the second size boys want
Dale to try. They made me come. I could not help it.â€
Hugh looked at Dale, with eyes which said, as plainly as
eyes could speak, â€œ You will not goâ€”you will not leave me
at such a moment?â€
But Dale was not looking at his face, but at the clusters
of boys beside the brook. He said,
â€œYou will not mind my going, just for one leap. It will
hardly take a minute. I shall not stay fora game. But I
must have just one leap.â€
And he was off. Holt looked after him, and then towards
Hugh, hesitating whether to go or stay. Hugh took no
notice of him; so he went slowly away, and Hugh was left
He was in an extreme perturbation. At the first moment,
he was beyond measure hurt with Dale. He did not think
his best friend would have so reminded. him of his infirmity,
and of his being a restraint on his companions. He did not
think any friend could have left him at such a moment. .
Then it occurred to him, :
216. THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œWhat, then, am I? If Dale was selfish, what was I? I
was just going to tell what would have pointed out Tooke
to him for life. .I know as well as can be that it was all
accident his pulling me off the wall; and yet I was going
to bring it up against him; and for the very reason why I
should not, because he has not behaved well to me. Iwasâ€™
just going to spoil the only good thing I ever did for any-
body:in my life. But it is spoiled â€”completely spoiled. I
shall never be able to trust myself again. It is all by mere
accident that it is not all over now. If Holt had not come
that very instant, my secret would have been out, and I
could: never have got it back again! I could never have
looked Tooke in the face any more. I donâ€™t know that I
can now, for I am as wicked as if I had told.â€
Dale came back presently, fanning himself with his cap.
As he plunged into the reeds, and threw himself down beside
Hugh, he cried,
â€œT did it! I took the leap, and came off with my shoe-
soles as dry as acrust. Ah! they are wet now; but that is
with another leap I took for sport. I told you I should
not be long gone. Now for it! Who-did it?â€
â€œT am not going to tell you, Dale, not now, nor ever.â€
â€˜Why, that is too bad! Iam sure I stay beside you often
enough, when the others are playing: you need not grudge
me this one leap, when the boys sent for me, too.â€
â€œTt is not that, Dale. You are very kind always in staying
beside me ; and I do not wish that you should give up play
for my sake half so much as you do. But I was very, very
wrong in meaning to tell you that secret, I should have
been miserable by this time if I had.â€
â€œBut you promised. You must keep your promise.
What would all the boys say if I told them you had broken
your promise ?â€ :
â€œTf they knew what it was about, they would despise me
for ever meaning to tellâ€”not for stopping short in time.
That was only accident, however. But my secret is my own
Daleâ€™s curiosity was so strong, that Hugh saw how dan-
gerous it was to have tantalized it. He had to remind his
friend of Mr. Tookeâ€™s having put all the boys upon honour
not to inquire on this subject. This brought Dale to him-
self; and he promised never again to urge Hugh, or encou-
rage his speaking of the matter at all. They then went to
story-telling ; but it would not do to-day. Hugh could not
attend, and Dale could not invent, while there was no sym-
pathy in his hearer. He was presently released, for it struck
Hugh that he should like to write to his mother this very
afternoon. His heart was heavy, and he wanted to tell her
what was in it. Mr. Crabbe gave him leave to go home, and
Dale was in time for plenty more play.
Hugh had the great school-room all to himself, and as the
window before his desk was open, he had the pleasure of the
fresh air, and the smell of the blossoms from the orchard,
and the sound of the waving of the tall trees in the wind,
and the cawing of the rooks as the trees waved. These
things all made him enjoy scribbling away to his mother, as
218 THE CROFTON BOYS.
well as finding his mind grow easier as he went on. Besides,
he had not to care for the writing, for he had met Mr. Tooke
by the church, and had got his leave to send his letter with-
out anybodyâ€™s looking at it, as he had something very par-
ticular to say. He wrote,â€”
â€œTt is Saturday afternoon, and I have come home from
the meadows before the rest, to tell you something that has
made me very uneasy. If I had told anybody in the world
who pulled me off the wall, it should and would have been
you, that night after it happened; and I am afraid I should
have told you, if you had not prevented it, for I find I am
not to be trusted when I am talking with anybody I love very
much. I have not told yet, but I should have told Dale if
Holt had not run up at the verymoment. It makes me very
unhappyâ€”almost as much as if I had let it out, for howdo I
know but that I may tell a hundred times over in my life, if
I could forget so soon? I shall be afraid of loving anybody
very much, and talking with them alone, as long as I live.
I never felt the least afraid of telling till to-day, and you
cannot think how unhappy it makes me. And then, the
thing that provoked me to tell was that boyâ€™s being surly to
me, and glad that I was in disgrace this morning, for doing
my lessons badly all this weekâ€”the very thing that should
have made me particularly careful how I behaved to him,
for his pulling me off the wall was only accident, after all.
Everything has gone wrong to-day, and I am very unhappy,
and I feel as if I should never be sure of anything again ; and
so I write to you. You told me you expected me not to fail,
and you see I have, and the next thing is that I must tell
you of it
â€œYour affectionate son,
â€œÂ«P.S,â€”Phil has been very kind about my lessons, till this
week [zzterlined|, when he has been very busy.
â€œ P.S,â€”If you should answer this, please put â€˜ privateâ€™ out-
side, or at the top; and then Mr. Tooke will not read it,
nor anybody. But I know you are very busy always, so I do
not quite expect an answer.â€
When the letter was finished and closed Hugh felt a good
deal relieved, but still not happy. He had opened his heart
to the best friend he had in this world; but he still felt
grievously humbled for the present, and alarmed for the
future. Then he remembered that he might seek comfort
from a better Friend still, and that He who had sent him
his trial could and would help him to bear it with honour
as well as with patience. As he thought of this, he saw that
the boys were trooping home along the road, and he slipped
out and into the orchard, where he knew he might be alone
with his best Friend. He stayed there till the supper-bell
220 THE CROFTON BOYS.
yang; and when he came in it was with a cheerful face. He
was as merry as anybody at supper, and afterwards he found
his lessons more easy to him than usual. The truth was that
' his mind was roused by the conflicts of the day. He said
his lessons to Phil (who found time to-night to hear him)
without missing a word. When he went to bed he had
several pleasant thoughts. His secret was still his own,
though by no merit of his ; to-morrow was Sunday, likely to
be a bright, sweet May Sunday; his lessons were quite
ready for Monday, and possibly there might be a letter from
his mother in the course of the week.
Mrs. Proctor was in the midst of her Monday morningâ€™s
business (and Monday morning was the busiest of the week)
when she received Hughâ€™s letter. Yet she found time to
answer it by the very next post. When her letter was handed
to Hugh, with the seal unbroken, because â€œ privateâ€ was
written large on the outside, he thought she was the kindest
mother that ever was to have written so soon, and to have
minded all his wishes. Hier letter was: â€”
â€œ There was nothing in your letter to surprise me at all,
for I believe, if all our hearts were known, it would be found
that we have every one been saved from doing wrong by
what we call accident. The very best people say this of
themselves, in their thanksgivings to God, and their con-
fessions to one another. Though you were very unhappy
on Saturday, I am not sorry that these things have happened,
as I think you will be the safer and the wiser for them.
You say you never till then felt the least afraid of telling.
Now you know the danger, and that is a good thing. I
think you will never again see that boy, whoever he may be,
without being put upon your guard. Still, we are all sadly
forgetful about our duty; and, if I were you, I would use
every precaution against such a danger as you have escaped
â€”it makes me tremble to think how narrowly. If I were
you, I would engage any friend I should become intimate
with the whole time of being at school, and perhaps after.
wards, never to say a word about the accident, or, at least,
about how it happened. Another way is to tell me your
mind, as you have now, for you may be sure that it is my
wish that you should keep your secret, and that I shall
always be glad to help you to do it.
â€œ But, my dear boy, I can do but little, in comparison
with the best Friend you have. He can help you without
waiting for your confidence,â€”even at the very instant when
you are tempted. It is He who sends these very accidents
(as we call them) by which you have now been saved. Have
you thanked Him for saving you this time? And will you not
trust in His help henceforward, instead of supposing yourself
safe, as you now find you are not? If you use His strength,
T feel that you will not fail. If you trust your own intentions
alone, I shall never feel sure of you for a single hour, nor be
certain that the companion you love best may not be yout
worst enemy, in breaking down your self-command. But,
222 THE CROFTON BOYS.
as you say you were very unhappy on Saturday, I have no
doubt you did go for comfort to the right Friend, and that
you were happier on Sunday.
â€œYour sisters do not know that I am writing, as I consider
your letter a secret from everybody but your father, who
sends his love. You need not show this to Phil; but you
can give him our love. Your sisters are counting the days
to the holidays; and so are some older members of the
family. As for Harry, he shouts for you from the yard -
every day, and seems to think that every shout will bring
nearer the happy time when Phil and you will come home.
; â€œYour affectionate mother,
â€œ Jane Proctor.â€
Hugh was, of cc:rse, very glad of this letter. And he
was glad of something else ;â€”that he had done the very
things his mother had advised. He had engaged Dale not
to tempt him on this subject any more. He had opened Â©
is heart to his mother, and obtained her help; and he had
sought a better assistance, and a higher comfort still. It was
so delightful to have such a letter as this,â€”to be so under-
stood and aided, that he determined to tell his mother all
his concerns as long as he lived. When, in the course of the
holidays, he told her so, she smiled, and said she supposed
he meant as long as she lived, for she was likely to die long
before.he did.. Hugh could not deny this; but he never
liked to think about it ;â€”he always drove away the thought
though he knew,.as his mother said, that this was rather
cowardly, and that the wisest and most loving people in the
world remember the most constantly and cheerfully that
friends must be parted for a while, before they can live
together for ever.
HOLT AND HIS HELP.
Noruine more was heard by Hugh, or any one else, of
Lambâ€™s debt. The creditor himself chose to say nothing
about it, so much was he annoyed at being considered fond
of money; but he was sure that Lambâ€™s pockets were filled
from time to time, as he was seen eating good things in
by-corners when everybody knew that his credit with his
companions, and with all the neighbouring tradespeople,
was exhausted. It was surprising that anybody could care
so much for a shillingâ€™s worth of tarts or fruit as to be at the
trouble of any concealment, or of constantly getting out of
Hughâ€™s way, rather than pay and have done with it. When
Lamb was seen munching or skulking, Firth sometimes asked
Hugh whether he had got justice yet in that quarter; and
then Hugh laughed; and Firth saw that he had gained
something quite as good,â€”a power of doing without it
good-humouredly, from those who were so unhappy as not
to understand or care for justice.
HOLT AND HIS HELP, 225
In one respect, however, Hugh was still within Lambâ€™s
power. When Lamb was not skulking, he was much given
to boasting; and his boasts were chiefly about what a great
man he was to be in India. He was really destined for
pp tui ly)
' A GREEDY SCHOOL-MATE,
India; and his own opinion was that he should have a fine
life of it there, riding on an elephant, with a score of servants
always about him, spending all his mornings in shooting, and
all his evenings at dinners and balls. Hugh did not care
about the servants, sport, or dissipation, and he did not see
226 THE CROFTON BOYS.
why any one should cross the globe to enjoy things like these
which might be had at home. But it did make him sigh to
think that a lazy and ignorant boy should be destined to
live among those mountains, and that tropical verdure of _
which he had readâ€”to see the cave-temples, the tanks, the
prodigious rivers, and the natives and their ways, of which
his imagination was full, while he must stay at home, and
see nothing beyond London as long as he lived. He did â€”
not grudge Holt his prospect of going to India, for Holt
was an improved and improving boy, and had, moreover, a
father there whom he loved very much; but Hugh could
never hear Lambâ€™s talk about India without being ready to
â€œDo you think,â€ he said to Holt, â€œthat all this is true?â€
â€œTt is true that he is to go to India. His father has interest
to get him out. But I do not believe he will like it so well
â€˜as he thinks. At least, I know that my father has to work
pretty hardâ€”harder than Lamb ever worked, or ever will
â€œOh, dear! I wish I could go and do the work; and I would
send all the money home to him (except just enough to live
upon), and then he might go to dinners and balls in London
-as much as he liked, and I could see the Hindoos and the
â€œThat is another mistake of Lambâ€™sâ€”about the quantity
of money,â€ said Holt. â€˜I do not believe anybody in India
is so rich as he pretends, if they work ever so hard. I know
my father works as hard as anybody, and he is not rich, and
HOLT AND HIS HELP. 227
I know the same of â€˜several of his friends. So it is hardly
likely that such a lazy dunce as Lamb should be rich unless
he has a fortune here at home, and if he had that, I do not -
believe he would take the trouble of going so far, to suffer
by the heat.â€
â€œT should not mind the heat,â€ sighed Hugh, â€œif I could
go. You must write to me, Holt, all about India. Write '
me the longest letters in the world, and tell me everything |
you can think of about the natives, and Juggernautâ€™s car.â€
â€œThat I will, if you like. But I am afraid that would
only make you long the more to goâ€”like reading Voyages
and Travels. How I do wish, though, that you were going
with me by-and-bye, as you let me go home with you these
It was really true that Holt was going to London these
holidays. He was not slow to acknowledge that Hughâ€™s
example had put into him some of the spirit that he had Â©
wanted when he came to Crofton, languid, indolent, and
somewhat spoiled, as little boys from India are apt to be;
and Hugh, for his part, saw now that he had been impatient ,
and unkind towards Holt, and had left him forlorn, after ~
having given him hopes that they were to be friends and
companions. â€˜They were gradually becoming real friends
now, and the faster because Holt was so humble as not to be
jealous of Hughâ€™s still liking Dale best. Holt was satisfied
to be liked best when Dale could not be had, and as this
was the case in the Midsummer holidays, he was grateful to .
be allowed to spend them with the Proctors.
228 LHE CROFTON BOYS.
Hugh was so thankful for his fatherâ€™s kindness in giving
him a companion of his own age, and so pleased to show
. Holt little Harry, and the leads, and the river, and his shelf
_ of books, and Covent Garden Market, and other wonders of
London, that any unpleasant feelings that the boys had ever
entertained towards each other were quite forgotten, and
they grew more intimate every day. It touched Hugh's
heart to see how sorry Holt was for every little trial that
befell him on coming home, altered as he was. Agnes her-
self did not turn red oftener, or watch more closely to help
: him, than Holt did. Hugh himself had to tell him not to
mind when he saw the shop-boy watching his way of walking,
or little Harry trying to limp like him, or Susan pretending
to find fault with him, as she used to do, as an excuse for
' brushing away her tears. Holt was one of the first to find
out that Hugh liked to be sent errands about the house or
_ In the neighbourhood, and it was he who convinced the
family of it, though at first they could not understand or
believe it at all. When they saw, however, that Hugh, who
used to like that his sisters should wait upon him, and to be
very slow in moving from his book, even at his motherâ€™s
desire, now went upstairs and downstairs for everybody, and
tried to be more independent in his habits than any one else,
they began to think that Holt knew Hughâ€™s mind better
than even they, and to respect and love him accordingly.
. There was another proof of friendship given by Holt, more
difficult by far; and in giving it, he showed that he really
had learned courage and spirit from Hugh, or in some other
HOLT AND HIS HELP. 22h
way. He saw that his friend was now and then apt to do
what most people who have an infirmity are prone toâ€”to
make use of his privation to obtain indulgences for himself,
or as an excuse for wrong feelings; and when Holt could not
help seeing this, he resolutely told his friend of it. No one
else but Mrs. Proctor would see or speak the truth on such
occasions; and when his mother was not by, Hugh would ~
often have done selfish things unchecked, if it had not been
for Holt. His father pitied him so deeply, that he joked Â©
even about Hughâ€™s faults, rather than give him present pain.
Phil thought he had enough to bear at Crofton, and that
: everybody should let him alone in the holidays. His sisters
humoured him in everything, so that if it had not been for
. Holt, Hugh might have had more trouble with his faults
than ever, on going back to Crofton.
â€œDo you really and truly wish not to fail, as you say,
Hugh?â€ asked Holt.
â€œTo be sure.â€
â€œWell, then, do try not to be cross.â€
â€œT am not cross.â€
â€œT know you think it is low spirits. I am not quite sure
of that; but if 1 is, would not it be braver not to be low |
_ in spirits ?â€
Hugh muttered that that was fine talking for people that
- did not know.
â€œThat is true, I daresay, and I do not believe I should .
â€ be half as brave as you; but I should like to see you quite
230 THE CROFTON BOYS.
â€œTt isa pretty thing for you to lecture me, when I got
_ down those books on purpose for you,â€”those Voyages and
Travels. And how can I look at those same books now,
and not v
Hugh could not go on, and he turned away his head.
â€œWas it for me?â€ exclaimed Holt, in great concern.
â€œThen I am very sorry. I will carry them to Mrs. Proctor,
and ask her to put them quite away till we are gone back
to Crofton.â€ 4
â€œNo, no. Donâ€™t do that. I want them,â€ said Hugh,
finding now that he had not fetched them down entirely on
_ Holtâ€™s account. But Holt took him at his word, and
carried the books away, and succeeding in persuading Hugh
that it was better not to look at volumes which he really
almost knew by heart, and every crease, stain, and dogâ€™s-ear
of which brought up fresh in his mind his old visions of
foreign travel and adventure. Then, Holt never encouraged
any conversation about the accident with Susan, or with Mr.
: Blake, when they were in the shop; and he never pretended
. to see that Hughâ€™s lameness was any reason why he should
have the best of their places in the Haymarket Theatre
(where they went once), or be the chief person when they
capped verses, or played other games round the table, in the
5 evenings at home. The next time Hugh was in his right
mood, he was sure to feel obliged to Holt; and he some-
times said so.
â€œTI consider you a real friend to Hugh,â€ said Mrs,
Proctor, one day when they three were together. â€œI have
HOLT AND HIS HELP. 231
dreaded seeing my boy capable only of a short effort of
courage;â€”bearing pain of body and mind well while every-
body was sorry for him and ready to praise him, and then
failing in the long trial afterwards. When other people are
leaving off being sorry for him, you continue your concern |
for him, and still remind him not to fail.â€
â€œWould not it be a pity, maâ€™am,â€ said Holt, earnestly, ,
â€œwould it not be a pity for him to fail when he bore every-
thing so well at first, and when he helped me so that I donâ€™t
know what I should have done without him? He made
me write to Mr. Tooke, and so got me out of debt; and a:
hundred times, I am sure, the thought of him and his secret :
has put spirit into me. It would be a pity if he should fail
without knowing it, for want of somebody to put him in
mind. He might so easily think he was bearing it all well,
as long as he could talk about his foot, and make a joke of
being lame, when, all the while, he might be losing his
temper in other ways.â€
â€œWhy, how true that is!â€ exclaimed Hugh. â€œI was
going to ask if I was ever cross about being lame; but I
know I am about other things, because I am worried abont
â€œIt is so easy to put you in mind,â€ coneinued Holt, â€œ aad
we shall all be so glad if you are brave to the very end
â€œTJ will,â€ said Hugh. â€˜Only do you go on to put me in
â€œ And you will grow more and more brave, too,â€ observed
Mrs. Proctor to Holt.
232 THE CROFION BOYS.
Holt sighed, for he thought it would take a great deal of
practice yet to make him a brave boy. Other people
thought he was getting on very fast.
REMOVING THE OLD FAVOURITE,
Tue longer these two boys were together, the more they
wished that they could spend their lives side by side; or, at
least, not be separated by half the globe. Just before the
Christmas holidays some news arrived which startled them
so much that they could hardly speak to one another about
it for some hours. There was a deep feeling in their hearts
which disposed them to speak alone to the Ruler of their
lives, before they could even rejoice with one another.
When they meditated upon it, they saw that the event had
come about naturally enough; but it so exactly met the
strongest desire they had in the world, that if a miracle had
happened before their eyes, they could not have been more
Holtâ€™s father wrote a letter to Mr. Proctor, which reached
its destination through Mr. Tookeâ€™s hands; and Mr. Tooke
was consulted in the whole matter, and requested by Mr.
Proctor to tell the two boys and Phil all about it. These
2340 THE CROFTON BOYS.
three were therefore called into Mr. Tookeâ€™s study one day
to hear some news.
The letters which Mr. Tooke read were about Hugh.
Mr. Holt explained that his sonâ€™s best years were to be
spent, like his own, in India; that his own experience had
made him extremely anxious that his son should be asso-
ciated with companions whom he could respect and love;
and that he had long resolved to use such interest as he
had in bringing out only such a youth, or youths, as he
could wish his son to associate with, He mentioned that
he was aware that one lad now at Crofton was destined for
â€œThat is Lamb,â€ whispered the boys to each other.
But that he did not hear of any friendship formed, or
likely to be formed, with advantage between his son and this
â€œNo, indeed !â€ muttered Holt.
There was one boy, however, Mr. Holt went on to say, to
whom his son seemed to be attached, and concerning whom
he had related circumstances which inspired a strong interest,
and which seemed to afford an expectation of an upright
manhood following a gallant youth.
Here all the boys reddened, and Hugh looked hard at
the carpet. '
This boy had evidently a strong inclination for travel and
adventure ; and though his lameness put military or naval
service out of the question, it might not unfit him for civil
service in India. If Mr. Tooke could give such a report of
GOOD NEWS FOR HUGH,
his health, industry, and capability as should warrant his
being offered an appointment, and if his parents were willing
so to dispose of him, Mr. Holt was anxious to make arrange-
ments for the education of the boys proceeding together, in
order to their being companions in their voyage and subse-
236 THE CROFTON BOYS.
quent employments. And then followed some account of
what these arrangements were to be.
â€œNow, Proctor,â€ said Mr. Tooke to the breathless Hugh,
â€œyou must consider what you have to say to this. Your
parents are willing to agree, if you are. But if,â€ he con-_
tinued, with a kind smile, â€œit would make you very unhappy
to go to India, no one will force your inclinations.â€
â€œ Oh, sir,â€ said Hugh, â€œ1 will work very hardâ€”I will work
as hard as ever I can, if I may go.â€
â€œWell, you may go, you see, if you will work hard. You
can consider it quietly, or talk it over with your brother and
Holt; and to-morrow you are to dine at your uncleâ€™s, where
you will meet your father; and he and you will settle what
to write to Mr. Holt, by the next ship.â€
â€œAnd you, sir,â€ said Phil, anxiouslyâ€”â€œMr. Holt asks
â€œMy opinion is that your brother can be what he pleases.
He wants some inducement to pursue his learning more
strenuously than he has done yetâ€”â€”â€
â€œT will, sir. I will, indeed,â€ cried Hugh,
â€œT believe you will. Such a prospect as this will be an
inducement, if anything can. You are, on the whole, a brave
boy; and brave boys are not apt to be ungrateful to God
or man; and I am sure you think it would be ungrateful,
both to God and man, to refuse to do your best in the situa-
"tion which gratifies the first wish of your heart.â€
Hugh could not say another word. He made his lowest
bow, and went straight to his desk. As the first-fruits of
his gratitude, he learned his lessons thoroughly well that
â€˜night; much as he would have liked to spend the time in
His father and he had no difficulty in settling what to
write to Mr. Holt; and very merry were they together when
the business was done. In a day or two, when Hugh had
had time to think, he began to be glad on Tookeâ€™s account,
and he found an opportunity of saying to him one day,
â€œT never should have gone to India if I had not lost my
foot ; and I think it is well worth while losing my foot to go
â€œDo you really? or do you say it becauseâ€”â€”â€
â€œJ think so really.â€ And then he went off into sucha
description as convinced Tocke that he was in earnest,
though it was to be feared that he would be disappointed
by experience. But then again, Mr. Tooke was heard to say
that one chief requisite for success and enjoyment in foreign
service of any kind was a strong inclination for it. So Tooke
was consoled, and easier in mind than for a whole year past.
Hugh was able to keep his promise of working hard.
Both at Crofton and at the India College, where his educa-
tion. was finished, he studied well and successfully ; and
when he set sail with his companion, it was with a heart free
from all cares but one. Parting from his family was certainly
a great grief; and he could not forget the last tone he had
heard from Agnes. But this was his only sorrow. He was,
at last, on the wide sea, and going to Asia. Holt was his
dear friend. He had left none but well-wishers behind.
238 THE CROFTON BOYS.
His secret was his own (though, indeed, he scarcely remnem-
bered that he had any secret); and he could not but be
conscious that he went out well prepared for honourable
PRINTED AT THE EDINBURGH PRESS, 9 AND II YOUNG STREET,
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AGREEMENT_INFO ACCOUNT 'UF' PROJECT 'UFDC'
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The element type "div" must be terminated by the matching end-tag "