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'" What a queer way you are going on in this business with old Flavelle !"
* I said to Alick that evening as we were getting up our Virgil.'-WILLOUGHBY
SCHOOL, page 67.
ROBERT RICHARDSON, B.A.
AUTHOR OF 'THE COLD SHOULDER,' OUR JUNIOR MATHEMATICAL MASTER,'
'THE BOYS OF SPRINGDALB,' ETC.
W. P. NIMMO, HAY, & MITCHELL
THE NEW FRENCH MASTER, 7
SANDY FULLARTON, 2
A LITTLE JOKE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES, 34
A MIDNIGHT COUNCIL,. 45
A TALK WITH ALICK, 69
MR. CUBITT'S SCHEME, 78
THE CAMP-OUT, 85
TOM DRISCOLL'S PERIL, 102
THE BEST WE COULD DO, 123
OR TRUE HEROISM.
THE NEW FRENCH MASTER.
Ssky, chaps, have you heard the news about
old Dupont?' said Fred Lankester as he
came up to Tom Driscoll and myself, who
were standing leaning against the front school-gate.
'No, what is it ?' we asked together.
'He's not coming back, and you 'll not guess why.
He's been left a lot of tin by an old friend in France,
and he's going back there as fast as he can.'
Phew I the lucky old boy!' exclaimed Tom
Driscoll. Then of course we'll have a new French
master. Do you know if Mr. Cubitt has got one
Yes; I was asking Mr. Bennet just now. The
new fellow's name's Flavelle. That's all he could
tell me about him. But to-morrow's French day,
so we 'll see him for ourselves then.'
It was Thursday afternoon in the first week of the
new half. I had better give a few words here, in
beginning my story, in the way of description of
Willoughby House School. I think that boys at
least like to know a little about the place where
events they are reading about take place. Besides,
it is really necessary in this case, to make you under-
stand the story. But I shall try and be as short as
Most of my readers, I suppose, know where
Sydney is; that it is the capital of New South
Wales; but I daresay that the most of English
readers, whether grown-up or boys, seldom hear
of the Parramatta river. The Parramatta river flows
into Sydney harbour. It is really rather a long arm
of the harbour, than a river, for the water is salt,
except at the very top, and its whole length is not
more than twelve miles.
Willoughby House stood on the Parramatta river,
about a quarter of a mile back from the water. It
was a large building of stone and brick, with a garden
in front, fields and paddocks behind, and behind
THE NEW FRENCH MASTER. 9
those the bush, which is the name given in Australia
to woods or forest.
Willoughby House was a private boarding-school.
The principal and head-master was Mr. Cubitt, and
he was assisted by two other masters, Mr. Butler and
Mr. Bennet, besides French, German, and Drawing
masters, who came each twice a week.
Tom Driscoll, Fred Lankester, and I were in the
fourth or head form, and Tom was captain of the
school. He was a chum of mine. Our parents were
acquainted, and we had known each other for a long
time. His father was rich; had made a lot of money
out of his sheep stations. He was a stout red-bearded
jolly gentleman, who had given me tips so long back
as I could remember almost, whenever he visited our
Tom was not like his father in appearance.
Perhaps he resembled his mother, whom I cannot
remember. She died when Tom was quite a little
fellow. Tom was dark, with black curly hair and
bright dark eyes. He was no doubt a striking and
good-looking fellow, and decidedly clever. I liked
him in a good many ways, but he wasn't exactly a
popular boy. His father kept him very liberally sup-
plied in pocket-money, which he would spend among
his chums with a free and careless hand. But he
hadn't his father's frank jolly manners. He was apt
to bea little 'stand-offish,' to use a familiar phrase,
and sometimes a trifle contemptuous.
He was an only son, you see, and had had things
pretty much his own way all his life. The influence
of a mother, if she is just an average good mother, is,
generally y speaking, to soften a boy, and Tom had
missed this training in his life. He had a sister, it
is true, but she was younger than himself. On the
whole he was more admired at school than liked,
though he had not a few points about him that you
could like him for too. But I shall not describe his
character any further here, for I hope and prefer that
the reader shall discover it for himself, as my story
Fred Lankester was another of the boys at Wil-
loughby House who was one of my.chief companions.
His appearance might in a way be called striking, as
well as Tom Driscoll's, though not from his being
handsome. He was tall and lanky, with long legs
and arms, a long lean face, and a thin long nose.
He had a droll, wonderfully flexible mouth, that he
could turn and twist about into all kinds of shapes
with astonishing ease, and yet his face when he chose
was capable of assuming an expression of the severest
gravity. No judge that ever put on a wig could
THE NEW FRENCH MASTER. 1I
look more solemn when he liked than Fred Lan-
On the day following the short conversation just
given, we had our first French lesson with the new
master. He was waiting for us in the class-room,
and as we filed into our places of course all eyes
were turned upon him to take stock of him.
Well, he wasn't particularly imposing to look at,
Monsieur Flavelle. He was a short gentleman,
approaching fifty years of age I guessed, of a spare
build, but pretty active and tough-looking. He
had whiskers, turning grey, round his cheeks and
cAin, a rather large head getting bald at the top, a
large funny drooping nose, not unlike Mr. Punch's
as he is drawn on the frontispiece of the periodical
that bears his name, though not of course quite so
prononcb, as Monsieur Flavelle himself would have
said. His mouth was rather droll too, for when-
ever he smiled, the corners, instead of turning up as
most people's do, turned down, which had an odd
effect, especially at first.
He was dressed in a black frock-coat and dark
cloth trousers and waistcoat, and it didn't require a
very sharp eye to detect that his clothes were far from
being in their first youth and glory. His coat was
beginning to get decidedly shiny about the seams
and cuffs. But he was very neat and tidy, and his
shirt front, though it showed traces of having had the
needle and thread applied to its edges more than
once, was smooth and clean.
It must not be supposed that I discovered all these
characteristics of Monsieur Flavelle's outward appear-
ance just at once, but before the day's lesson was
over I think I had noted most of them,, and so I
expect had nearly all the rest of the class.
Monsieur Flavelle spoke English very fluently and
well, much more so, we soon saw, than our former
master had done, who had never got rid of a strong
accent. Monsieur Flavelle's accent was very slight,
just enough to tell that he was not an Englishman.
He had a brisk lively manner, was not at all
embarrassed by this being his first day with a new set
of boys, as I have known to be the case with some
masters, but began to make acquaintance with us
off-hand and at once. He commenced to question
us as to the amount of progress we had made in
'What books have you been accustomed to use '
was one of his first questions.
'We generally use the old gray mare for one,'
Fred Lankester answered gravely, pronouncing the
words exactly as I have spelt them.
THE NEW FRENCH MASTER. 13
There was a titter round the class. This was the
way that old Monsieur Dupont had always pronounced
the word grammar, and it had become one of the
standing jokes of the school.
'The old gray mare 1' Monsieur Flavelle repeated
with a slightly puzzled look, Ido not quite under-
stand. Ah! I see now: grammar, that is what you
mean-eh I the old grammar. Your pronunciation
is not quite perfect yet, sir; but we shall improve it
by and by, I hope. Well, let me see what grammar
it is that you use.'
One of us handed him a book.
Ah, I see, Monsieur Hall's. I know it, though it
is not the one I have generally used. But it is a very
fair book, and will do as well as another.'
Then he set us to translating, to see what hand we
made at that. To tell the truth, we were not, as a
class, or as a school, any great things either in French
or German. Like many other schools, we, the boys,
paid but veryscantyattention to the modem languages.
We seemed to regard them as by-studies, as it were,
and thought that we were not under the same necessity
to pay attention to them as to our other work, Latin,
Greek, Mathematics, and the rest.
Even fellows that worked pretty well at these
subjects were indifferent about their German and
French, and those that were careless about their work
generally were doubly so with their French and
German. I daresay this was a mistake on our part-
indeed, I am pretty sure it was, and perhaps boys will
come to see this some day. But such was the case
at Willoughby House. There were not more than
three or four boys in the whole school who were
decent French scholars.
Whether Monsieur found us below the average in
our knowledge I can't say. He didn't say anything
to make us conclude so at any rate, whatever he may
The lesson went on, and it became pretty clear to
us that Monsieur Flavelle was a master that was dis-
posed to take pains with us, if we would just meet
him half-way. But before the lesson was over we
had found out one of his weak points too, and that
was that he was inclined to talkativeness, and that it did
not require a great deal to lead him off the main track
of the lesson into gossip upon all kinds of subjects.
Boys are rot slow at discovering a master's peculi-
arities, if he have any, nor in endeavouring to turn
them to their own account. When we found that our
new master_was apt to drift into yarning on general
subjects, we at once saw fruitful opportunities of
future entertainment during our French studies.
THE NEW FRENCH MASTER.
We saw that our hours with Monsieur Flavelle, if
we only managed matters adroitly, might be made
much more varied and less dull by taking proper
advantage of this weak point in his character as a
teacher. What we had to do was as innocently as
possible to lead Monsieur off the subject of the
lesson by some ingeniously constructed question or
remark, and prevent him returning to it as long as
By and by, too, we would no doubt find out his
favourite hobbies of talk, and that could guide us in
our plans. If any grown-up reader thinks that we
showed a precocious amount of craft and depravity in
harbouring such thoughts and designs as I have just
described, let him look back upon his own school-
days, and try if he can't remember having ever been
a party to much the same kind of thing. If he can
honestly answer that he never was, then all I can say
is, that he must have been a pattern boy, a pattern,
that is, not of what boys are, but of what they perhaps
ought to be.
We began our experiments upon what we felt pretty
sure we had discovered to be one of Monsieur
Flavelle's weaknesses this very afternoon. Fred
Lankester was the leader-he generally was, in this
sort of thing. By a series nf questions, put with
much seeming innocence and great gravity, he got
Monsieur to talking about himself, and his past life
and experiences. During the last quarter of the hour
he never once got back to French.
In the course of Monsieur's talk, we learned that
he was not a Frenchman born, but that his native
place was the southof Switzerland. But he had spent
many years in France, and also some time in Germany,
and could speak German as well, he said, as he could
'French. He had studied for a year or two at a
German University, Heidelberg, and a great part of
his talk this afternoon was about his student-life in
Fred went on asking him about this place and that
place, and whether he had been in this town and
that town, ranging all over Germany, Switzerland, and
France, and taxing his memory to recall all the places
he knew by name. In a good many of them
Monsieur Flavelle had been, and he seemed to have
travelled a great deal in certain parts of Europe.
And so he span away, varying his talk by occasional
jokes, at which we took care to laugh most sympa-.
thetically. And really Monsieur's talk was not at all
bad fun, at any rate to boys, and a deal better, to say
the least, than French verbs, and translating Florian's
fables, 'The Monkeythat showed the Magic Lanthorn,'
THE NEW FRENCH MASTER.
'The Rabbit and the Widgeon,' and the rest of them.
Monsieur talked with great spirit and 'go,' and told
a story in fine style, half-acting it, with many shrugs
and much gesture.
Fred had about exhausted his knowledge of Con-
tinental towns, when Tom Driscoll suggested another
to him. 'You haven't asked him about Cologne yet,
Fred. Try him with that for a last one,' whispered
SHave you ever been in Cologne V asked Fred.
'Ah Cologne is it? Yes, I was there once, just
for two nights. You know what it is celebrated for,
I suppose? For two things, its grand and beautiful
Cathedral, and its-well, something else that is not
so grand and beautiful, ha! ha! I think you must
know what I mean. It is a curious old place Cologne,
but not so nice in some ways. It is not a very clean
town, no and yet the people are most luxurious in
some of their habits. You will hardly believe it
when I tell you that the poorest person in the town,
whenever he, washes his face, washes it in eau-de-
Cologne, and whenever one takes a bath it is in eau-
We received this joke with great acclamation, most
of us seeing it quickly enough.
'In eau-de- Cologne-water of Cologne-you see, eh V'
18 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL,
Monsieur explained, thinking perhaps that there
were some of us who did not take his joke.
'Thank you, sir, but the explanation is unnecessary.
The fun is visible to the naked eye,' said Tom Dris-
coll. Tom could talk in this grand sort of style when
"Oh my prophetic soul, my uncle !"' exclaimed
Fred Lankester, in a half-whisper, and a theatrical
manner. We did not understand the point of his
quotation then, but we were to, shortly.
A few minutes after Monsieur Flavelle's joke, which,
whether it may appear good or bad to the reader, was
about the best he made during the lesson, the school-
bell rang, Monsieur set us our work for next day, and
The French lesson was the last in the day's work,
the school going out in the afternoon at four o'clock.
A knot of us gathered together to discuss our new
What did you mean by that quotation of yours
just now, Fred-" Oh my prophetic soul, mine uncle !"
-from Hamlet, I think it is V I. asked of Fred.
Yes, that needs explanation,' Fred replied. 'It's
the funniest thing possible, I think you'll say. Some
of you know Ned Peak; he goes to the Grammar
School. Well, he was staying with me for a short time
THE NEW FRENCH MASTER.
in the holidays, and he was telling me something about
the masters at the Grammar, and, among the rest,
about the French master.
'He didn't tell me a great deal about him, but one
of the things was, that he was fond of a pun now and-
then, and that he had a number of pet ones that he
repeated whenever he got a chance. One of these
was a joke about the people of Cologne always
washing themselves in eau-de-Cologne, the very joke,
in fact, that Flavelle made just now. So I have not
the least doubt that he is the French master at the
Grammar School too. Ned Peak did not mention his
name, or of course I would have remembered it when
I heard Monsieur Flavelle's, but I think this proves,
beyond a doubt, that they are one and the same.
'You see the point of my quotation now, I hope?
It is, as you very rightly observe, John Warde, from
Hamlet, a play composed, it is perhaps hardly neces-
sary to remind the present company, some three
hundred years ago, by one William Spokeshave, or
as it is sometimes written Shakespeare. But isn't
it a good joke that on his very first day with us
Flavelle should get a chance of slipping one of his
pet bon-mots, as he would call them !'
We all laughed greatly when Fred had done.
'Yes, it is.a lark certainly,' said Harry Coote-' that
20 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
is, if Flavelle is really the French master at the
'Oh, he must be !' I said; 'this couldn't be a coin-
'Not likely,' said Tom, adding, in a tone rather of
disgust, But fancy his thinking it necessary to explain
his pun !'
'Oh, everybody's not so sharp as you at picking
up a thing, Tom; there may have been some fellow
in the class who didn't see Monsieur's joke at once,'
said Joe Coote.
'Yourself for instance-do you mean that, Joe ?
Well, I forgot you, old man,' replied Tom.
'Well, what do you think of Flavelle, as far as he's
gone?' I asked of the fellows generally.
'" Beware of hasty judgments," says my grand-
mother!' said Fred. It's rather too soon to form
an opinion of Monsieur yet perhaps; but one thing,
I think, is pretty certain, and that is, that we may
get a good deal of fun out of our two hours a week
with him, if we manage things properly.
In this opinion we all agreed.
HE half-year had been gone a fortnight. It
was Saturday afternoon. As I was enter-
ing the house from the garden a little before
tea-time, Mr. Cubitt came out with a boy by his side,
'John,' he said, 'I want to speak to you for a
moment. Let me introduce you to Alick Fullarton.
But he brings you a letter from your father, which I
believe is, in some sort, one of introduction, so I
need not say any more. Read your letter, and then
you two can become friends as soon as you like.'
The new boy handed me a letter, while Mr. Cubitt
went into the house again. The letter ran thus-
'MY DEAR JOHN,-The bearer of this letter is
Alick Fullarton, whose father I have lately become
acquainted with. Mr. Fullarton has but recently
arrived in the colony. He comes from Aberdeen.
Until lately he was a prosperous man, connected with
a large shipping business in that city. But he lost
nearly all his means through the failure of a London
firm who were his agents, and has now emigrated to
this country. He brought me a letter of introduction
from an old and esteemed friend in Scotland, and
I have used what influence I have with the Metro-
politan Bank, in which you know I am a director, to
get him a pretty good post as manager of a branch at
Kendall. I am sure that he will be an acquisition
to'th'e staff of the Bank, for he is a clever and ex-
perienced business man. Mr. Fullarton has put his
son at Willoughby House on my recommendation.
I have not seen very much of him, but he seemed a
pleasant intelligent fellow. I want you to be friends,
if possible, and hope you will take to each other.-I
remain, your affectionate father, JOHN WARDE.'
Alick Fullarton seemed about my own age. He
was rather shorter than I, sturdily built, with marked
features, a large mouth, a somewhat freckled face and
light hair; not good-looking, but with a pleasant
'My father says you have just come to Sydney,'
I said, by way of beginning our acquaintance.
Yes, we arrived a little more than a month ago.'
SANDY FULLARTON. 23
Directly he spoke I saw that Fullarton talked with
a decided Scotch accent, which, though I knew it
well enough to recognize it as Scotch, was sufficiently
strange to my ears to sound odd.
We sat next to each other at tea, and during the
evening I showed Fullarton about the place, and let
him into the ways and rules of the school a bit.
I felt sure that Alick Fullarton's Scotch way of
talking, which his voyage out didn't seem to have
rubbed off much, would not fail to draw upon him
the notice of the fellows in a special manner. And
there were other things about him besides his accent,
which made him appear to some a good mark for
experimenting upon in the way of chaff and hum-
On the first day he appeared among us he wore a
Scotch cap, an uncommon thing among boys in
Australia, with a buckle on it in the shape of a
Fred Lankester at once had a name for him-
Sandy Thistle-cap-which, as it was rather long in
full, for general use, was soon abbreviated into
Sandy alone. Henceforth, when any one wished to
call Alick 'out of his name,' as the saying is, he
called him Sandy.
'Haven't you got another cap that you could wear ?'
24 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
I said to him on the second night after his arrival.
If he was to be a chum of mine, I didn't much care
that he should figure as a kind of butt in the school;
so I thought I was justified in giving him a hint on
one or two things.
'Yes, I've got a felt hat,' he answered; 'but I
mean to wear this out first. I got it just before we
went on board the ship, and I wore the bonnet very
little during the voyage. It's not likely I'm going
_to put it aside yet.'
Alick spoke in a perfectly decided tone, as though
his mind was quite made up. And so it proved.
He wore his bonnet, as he called it, almost daily, and
no amount of humbugging him about it had any
effect upon him.
Besides speaking with what sounded to us, at
best, a very broad accent, Alick had a lot of Scotch
words which he used in daily conversation. With
some of the fellows it was thought a grand joke to.
repeat these with exaggerated emphasis, whenever
the object was to imitate Alick. He nearly always
spoke of a thing being 'ben the house' for in the
house; he said 'bonny' for pretty, and 'wee' for
little, very often. He generally called a cap a
'bonnet,'- and sometimes spoke of pennies as 'baw-
bees,' and used twenty other words and phrases
SAND Y FULLARTON. 25
which sounded strange and odd to us. I remember
he once called a frog a 'puddick,' a word which I
suppose not one of the chaps had ever heard before,
and which we certainly would not have understood
if the frog had not been there before us. It raised a
Alick, by degrees, got out of the way of using
Scotch expressions; but it wasn't, I'm sure, that he
felt the least ashamed of them, or because he tried
particularly to unlearn them; but just because he
was among people who did not use the same kind of
phrases; and so of course he came gradually to use
other ones himself.
'I say, Jack, is your friend Sandy going to join the
cricket club?' said Fred Lankester a few days after
Alick Fullarton came to the school.
'I don't know, I'm sure,' I answered; 'but I'll
ask him if you like.'
'Just do that, then, and let me know.'
Fred was secretary of the club, and his duties of
course included that of being on the look-out for any
fresh members among new boys.
That night, just before going to bed, I said to
Alick, who had been given a bed next to mine, at
Mr. Cubitt's direction, in the fourth-form dormitory-
The fellows are paying in their cricket club sub-
scriptions for this half. Do you think of joining the
'What's to pay?' he asked.
'Then I can't join. Five shillings is more than I
can afford, Jack.'
Alick spoke in the short, quiet, decided way he
had when he meant a thing.
I stopped a moment or two before I spoke again.
I'm pretty well off for cash at present,' I said; 'if
you like, I 'll give the money for you now, and you
can pay me back any time; or if you don't at all, it
doesn't matter. My aunt gave me a liberal tip just
before the half began, and I'm quite a Croesus for
tin just now.'
Alick caught hold of me by the arm.
'That's jolly good of you, Jack Warde,' he said;
'but I can't take the money, thanks. I hate going
into debt, and I've no likelihood of being able to
pay you back at any time, as far as I can see at
'Oh never mind about that,' I said.
SBut I do mind, Jack. Five shillings is too much
to take as a gift by a deal.'
'No, it isn't. It'll only go in some other way that
I'll never know any good of, most likely,' I con-
SANDY FULLARTON. 27
tinued; don't be proud about it, Alick. You'd do
as much for me, I know. Nearly every one joins
the cricket club. It's the principal game we play,
you know, by a long way!'
'Don't press the matter, Jack, please,' he said in an
earnest kind of way; 'I would rather not take the
money, though I'm very thankful to you for the offer
all the same. And it won't be much disappointment
to me not being able to join the club.
The fact is, I'm not much of a hand at cricket. At
the school I was at in Aberdeen we didn't play it nearly
so much as you do in Australia; the fine weather
doesn't last so long, you know, up north there.
'I 'm afraid my style of playing wouldn't come up
to your ideas at all, and the fellows are inclined
enough already to take their fun off me; not that I
mean to mind that much, or at least to show them
that I do. But I suppose you have some football
in the winter, and I'll perhaps be more up-ends with-
you in that, and in shinty, too, if you ever play that.'
'What on-earth's shinty I' I asked.
':Never heard of shinty! Well, I suppose you
haven't it here. It's played with a ball and a hooked
'Oh, you mean hockey, I expect,' I said.
'Is that what you call it I Well, do you ever have it?'
26 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
'A little in the winter, but not much. Football
we have heie often. But you may as well just call it
hockey, if you ever have to speak of it again.'
All right, I'11 try and remember,' he replied, with
a slight laugh. I'm ready to take any hints you
like to give me, Jack, about my talking, though I
don't say I'11 stand it so well from every fellow.'
'So you'll not join the club in any way I said.
'You'll find it pretty dull work when all the fellows
are at cricket, don't you think I'
'I must just put up with that somehow, if that is
the case. But perhaps I'11 learn to play better after
a bit, if you give me a little coaching in private, for
instance; and by that time I may have enough money
of my own to pay the subscription.'
All right, then; so be it, if your mind's made up.
I '11 be glad to help you all I can in the way you say.
I daresay we may get plenty of chances of a game
by ourselves, now and then.-There's old Kelly
putting the lights out. Good-night.'
I shall not try to put in the Scotch words and
pronunciation which Alick Fullarton used for some
time after he came to Willoughly House, and which
disappeared only by degrees, because I couldn't do
it properly. And then, to make things quite natural,
and as they were, I should have to make his talk
become gradually less and less Scotch, as my story
went on, which would be a more difficult business than
I care to attempt.
I told Fred Lankester that Alick did not intend
joining the cricket club.
'Why, what a screw he must be !' he said. 'The
subscription isn t a large one; it's much more at
I don't think that it's because he's a screw. He
just said right out that he couldn't afford it,' I said.
He said that, did he ? well, he's a curious chap
in some ways. -Lots of fellows wouldn't just have
said that out, even if it had been the case.'
Alick Fullarton stood the chaffing and humbugging
of the fellows better than I think I ever knew any one
do, under similar circumstances. He had a cool sort
of temper, and an amount of self-control that kept
him from being easily put out. Not that it required
no. effort on his part to keep his temper some-
times, for I am sure it must have and did. But
it seemed as if he said to himself, 'Now, these
fellows want to rile me, and the more I am put out
the better fun it will be to them, but I bet they
Alick could generally hold his own, too, in the way
of retort. At first he wasn't well up in our particular
phrases, and catch or slang expressions, and so was
often not very ready with a reply. But as he got
accustomed to these, we found that he could some-
times give as well as take.
One Wednesday afternoon he and I were having
a game of cricket by ourselves, in a quiet corer of the
cricket-ground. He seemed to want to learn to play
a bit better than he did, and so I used sometimes to
bowl at him for a half-hour or-so. He was batting
now, and I was pegging away at him as hard as I
could, round-arm. He had got little Ned Price to
back-stop for us.
Presently Tom Driscoll, Fred Lankester, Coote,
and a couple of other fellows, came up to where we
were playing. They seemed in an idling mood, and
Stretched themselves down on the grass, and began
watching us. After a little, Joe Coote evidently
thought he saw a chance of some fun, and commenced.
Joe, I must here say, was a short thickset boy, with
legs rather short for the length of his body, and a
little bowed, enough to be noticeable.
Giving Sandy a little private coaching-eh, Jack 7'
he said. Good boy, stick to it, and you'll turn him
out a Lilywhite yet.'
'Shut up, Joe, will you, please I We're not asking
your advice at present,' I said.
SANDY FULLARTON. 31
'Don't get scotty, Jack.-Well cut, Sandy. What
a crack cutter you are; a regular Aberdeen clipper
in fact, one may say 1'
Joe's joke, for such it was intended to be, raised a
laugh from the rest. Joe was one of those who were
most inclined to make game of Alick, and I had
noticed that the latter had taken his chaff with
rather less patience than that of any other of the
The laugh had hardly ceased when Alick, dropping
his bat, walked up to where Joe was lying stretched
at full length on the grass. He took hold of him by
the arm, and with a quick sharp jerk forced him upon
I say, what are you about !' exclaimed Joe, a little
astonished. I daresay he knew pretty well that he
was-not so strong as Alick, but he had always had the
majority with him, and this had made him confident,
as it does many fellows.
'What am I about said Alick in a quiet tone,
'why, just this. I want you to drop your name-calling
as soon as you like, or you'll perhaps hear more
about it. And since you're so fond of nicknames
I'm going to try if I can't find a suitable one for you,
Do you know what you ought to be called '
There Alick made a slight pause and gave a look
down at Joe's legs, to give the more emphasis to his
words, as it were.
Your name's Coote,' he went on; well, you ought
to be called Bandicoot!'
A loud laugh from Tom, Fred, and the other two
boys, followed Alick's words, and Joe Coote turned
first red and then white. It is perhaps necessary to
explain to English boy-readers that the Bandicoot is
a little animal like a small kangaroo, and found only
in Australia, I think.
'Well done, Fullarton!' cried Fred.-'You got it
rough that time, Joe, old man; and it was a fair hit.
You're no match for Sandy, after all, I guess.'
It was a fair hit. Under some circumstances the
name with which Alick had christened Coote would
have no doubt been a rather savage one. But in this
case, where Joe had been the provoker, and when
it is remembered that his attack upon Alick was only
one of many similar, I think you'll agree with me-
that he got no more than he deserved. And you'll
understand, too, why I said a little ago that Alick:
Fullarton could come down on an opponent some-
times with a pretty heavy hand.
As long as I was at Willoughby House Joe Coote's
name stuck to him. Whenever an antagonist wanted
a weapon to use against him in a fight of words, he
SANDY FULLARTON. 33
was pretty sure to resort to calling him Bandicoot..
But I don't remember his ever venturing to measure
himself with Alick again, or, to use a more schoolboy
phrase, trying to take a rise out of him.
A LITTLE JOKE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
ONSIEUR FLAVELLE'S good points as a master
were that he was ready to take a great
deal of pains, and that he could throw great
spirit, animation, and even enthusiasm, into his teach-
ing. His weak points were the one that I have
already mentioned,-the ease with which he could be
led to string on for almost any length of time upon
subjects as far removed from the lesson as the North
Pole from the South, and the very small ability he had
of keeping order in his classes.
We soon found out what subjects he was most fond
of talking about. Chief among these was his own
past life,-to tell us where he had been, what he had
seen, and what he had done. Our plan was to go on
pretty steadily with our French till rather more than
A LITTLE JOKE &- ITS CONSEQUENCES. 35
half the hour was over, and then for some one to ask
Monsieur two or three questions-sometimes thought
of and arranged beforehand, sometimes suggested at
the moment-with the object of leading him away
from the lesson in the direction we desired.
It was seldom that he suspected anything. Gen-
erally speaking, he swallowed the bait, and was soon
off on a long yarn about some event or incident in
his past life, when he wr.s a boy in Switzerland, or
when he was a student in Heidelberg, or studying
medicine in Paris,-for he had once intended being a
doctor, and had gone to medical classes in Paris for
two years after he left Heidelberg.
Meanwhile we sat and listened in great glee while
he spun on. Often his talk was quite interesting,
and at times rather long-winded. In anjr case we
thought it better than French, and we could listen
just as much or as little as we liked. If a fellow
didn't care about attending. to what Monsieur was
saying, he could bring out any book that he happened
to be reading at the time and study it, or finish an
imposition, or get up a part of next day's work, or
anything in fact that he fancied most to do. He was
quite safe from detection, for Monsieur was far too
absorbed in what he was himself saying to notice
what was going on around him. You might have
30 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
written out your French exercise for the next day
almost under his nose.
SAfter what I have written it will have been gathered
that there was -a good deal of vanity about Monsieur
Flavelle's composition. And so there was-not a
doubt of it. But he wasn't vain in an unpleasant kind
of way either. It amused rather than annoyed you.
For while he was decidedly vain he was equally
good-natured and good-tempered. He laughed at
his own jokes, and he laughed as heartily when any
of us attempted a witticism.
One day he was telling us a story of how he once
lost his way in a forest in Switzerland during a holiday
walking tour. As night approached a dreadful storm
came on, an orange as he called it, and the trees rocked
beneath the wind like the masts of a ship in a gale. .
He passed the whole night in the forest, now lying
down for a little while and trying to go to sleep, now
getting up and running about to keep himself from
becoming chilled with the cold, until he fell fast asleep
through sheer weariness, and did not waken until next
day's sun was high in the heavens, when he found that
the storm was over.
'And weren't you afraid at all some fellow asked
when he had finished.
Monsieur drew himself up to his full height,-he
A LITTLE 7OKE &- ITS CONSEQUENCES. 37
was rather below the middle height, as I have said,-
and after a short pause, with the most majestic look
you ever saw, replied, in tones of severest dignity-
I know not what fear is.'
This I have given as a specimen of Monsieur's
vanity. At least we thought it that, whether it
strikes you in the same way or not.
When I said that these were the weak points in
Monsieur Flavelle as a teacher, of course that was
speaking from a master's point of view. We boys
didn't object to them, I need hardly say.
He had hardly any system in the matter of keeping
order. Every now and then it would seem to strike
him that the class was getting rather noisier than was
the correct thing, and he would start up suddenly
and command silence. He did it with a little im-
petuous burst; for a few minutes there was compara-
tive quietness and attention, but very shortly matters
were going on just as before.
Under such circumstances, what generally happens
among a class of schoolboys I need hardly ask
my boy readers, or those that recollect their school
days. What happens in the great majority of cases
is, that the boys take every advantage they can of
their master. And so it was with us. We were much
the. same as other boys, I expect; certainly I don't
38 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
think we were any worse, taken as a whole. Well, we
did impose upon Monsieur's easy disposition, his
simplicity in certain directions, and his want of sus-
picion; we imposed upon it about as much as it was
possible to do, and that's the plain truth.
At last, so secure did we feel in the thought that
we could go almost any length with Monsieur, that
the day came when we went too far. That's always
the way with boys. In cases like this they become
bolder and bolder, one eggs on the other, and they
never know when to stop. Easy and readily hoaxed
and hoodwinked as Monsieur was, we were to find
out that there must be a limit to our hardihood.
When I first introduced Monsieur Flavelle, I ought
to have mentioned that he took snuff, for he had the
habit to an extent that was marked. I have noticed
that when a person is very strongly given to taking
something stronger than pump ale, he is always called
a 'confirmed' tippler, while a great tobacco consumer
is termed an 'inveterate' smoker. Drinkers are
always confirmed, and smokers always inveterate. I
don't remember having ever heard it put the other
way, though the meaning seems to be about the same.
But I am afraid this is a digression, and I don't know
how I have been led into it; but Monsieur Flavelle
was a confirmed or inveterate snuffer, which you prefer.
A LITTLE JOKE &S ITS CONSEQUENCES. 39
Sometimes we called him Snuffy, in allusion to his
He kept his snuff in a little box of dark-coloured
tortoise-shell. And here I think I ought to mention
what was a rather remarkable thing in so great a snuff-
taker as Monsieur, and that was, that in spite of his
frequent applications to his snuff-box, he always
managed to keep his waistcoat and shirt-front un-
soiled.. I have mentioned this because you remem-
ber that I said he was always neat and clean in his
dress, and the two things don't often go together, as
everybody must have noticed.
Periodically Monsieur Flavelle held short exami-
nations on the work of the preceding few weeks.
He wrote up sentences on the black-board, and we
translated them into French on paper. He took the
papers home with him, and brought them back cor-
rected the next day he came.
One afternoon we were having an examination of
this kind. He was standing before the black-board
with his back towards us writing sentences. He had
left his snuff-box on the table. Now was the oppor-
tunity for Fred Lankester's putting in execution a
device he had thought of during the day, and which
he had communicated to most of us.
The table stood close to the front row of desks, at
40 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
which Tom Driscoll, Fred Lankester, I, and several
others among the first boys in the class sat. Fred
stretched over the table and got hold of the box.
Having emptied what snuff there was in it into a
piece of paper, he took from his pocket a small
paper packet, the contents of which he poured into
.This was coffee mixed with a very little black
pepper. You couldn't have told the colour from
that of snuff. Some one, when Fred told us of his
idea, had suggested a much larger proportion of
pepper than Fred had put in; but we hadn't any
wish to be as savage as that came to, and decided
that there was enough.
When Monsieur had finished writing on the black-
board he sat down at the table, and began to look
over the exercises that had been given in that day,
while we set to work translating the sentences he had
written out. But those of us who were in the plot
weren't so absorbed in our work as to prevent our
watching curiously for the upshot of our experi-
Presently Monsieur took up his snuff-box, tapped
the lid, opened it, and took a good pinch.
There was a loud sneeze, followed by a coughing,
A LITTLE O7KE &6 ITS CONSEQUENCES. 41
and a gasping, and a spluttering, that drew the atten-
tion of the whole class. In a moment every one was
shaking with suppressed laughter, which now and
then exploded in an only half-smothered guffaw, or
For a few moments Monsieur could do no more
than -sneeze, and cough, and gasp. When he had
recovered a little, he took up his snuff-box again,
and, without speaking, began to examine the con-
tents. He took out a little in the palm of his hand,
peered at it in the light, and then smelt it with great
caution. Then he turned to the class again. His
face was flushed, and his eyes flashing.
What is this that you have done ? It is a trick,
and it is shameful and abominable. I will not say
one word more about it, but I will report the class
this day to Mr. Cubitt. It is a thing he should
He said no more, but sat down at the table again,
and continued the correcting of the exercises.
Our experiment had answered quite as well as we
had expected. We had had a fine joke, and no more
serious consequences had come of it than a threat on
Monsieur's part to report our conduct to the head-
master. We had hardly any fear that Monsieur's
42 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
words were anything more than a threat, for the reason
that he had once or twice before said the same thing,
and we had never heard anything more about it.
The hour went on and came to an end without
any further reference to what had just taken place.
But every now and again, through the whole hour,
a smothered laugh might have been heard from some
quarter of the class as the figure of Monsieur after the
effects of that pinch of a new and novel snuff-mixture
recurred to his mind.
During the whole lesson Monsieur hardly spoke
a word more than was absolutely necessary. Had
we reflected a little we might have gathered from his
unusual silence that he had taken the matter more
seriously than we at first thought; but this did not
occur to us.
For once we had calculated too much on Monsieur
Flavelle's forbearance. He kept his word, as we were
not long in learning. That evening the class was
summoned before Mr. Cubitt, and we got as serious
a talking to as the fourth form ever received during
my stay at Willoughby House.
I need not tell you all Mr. Cubitt said to us.
Some of the things were pretty cutting, as that the
nature of our conduct was such as he would hardly
The fourth form dormitory presented an unusual appearance .. In a
comer of the room a half-dressed group of boys were gathered in a circle.
some squatted on the floor, some seated on pillows and boxes that had been
drawn out from under the beds.'-WILLOUGHBs SCHOOL, page 45.
A LITTLE JOKE &6 ITS CONSEQUENCES. 43
have expected from first-form boys, that he had been
as much surprised as vexed and pained at hearing it,
so trivial and childish was it, as well as unworthy
and wrong. In short, he made us ,one and all feel
precious small, and he had a knack of being, able to
do that when he wished.
The upshot was that we all received a good round
lot of imposition-work, and in ad edition had our privi-
leges as fourth-form boys suspended for a fortnight.
Two of these were that we were never kept in, and
that our punishments were allotted by Mr. Cubitt him-
self only. To be deprived of these privileges was
looked upon as one of the most marked forms of
disgrace with which we could be visited.
We were all now as wild as could be at Monsieur
Flavelle. The fact that we had never hardly for a
moment anticipated his really reporting us to Mr.
Cubitt increased our anger and indignation.
But the most incensed of us all by a good deal was
Tom Driscoll. He was Captain of the School, you
see, and so it was perhaps natural that he should be
the most sensitive in the matter, and take Mr. Cubitt's
censure, and the disgrace of the form, to heart most
He had never counted on this as a result of
44 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
our little joke upon Monsieur Flavelle, and I think
he was inclined to be a trifle sore and out of temper
even with Fred Lankester as its originator, from one
or two words he dropped to me. But he said very
little on this point to the rest. I never knew him
more put out, however, and I felt sure that his resent-
ment against the French master was deep, and would
take some time to wear off.
A MIDNIGHT COUNCIL.
N the night following the events just narrated,
between eleven and twelve o'clock, when
the rest of the inmates of Willoughby
House were sunk in deep slumber, the fourth-form
dormitory presented an unusual appearance. Every
bed wanted its customary occupant, while in a corer
of the room a half-dressed group of boys viere gathered
.in a circle, some squatted on the floor, some seated
on pillows and boxes that had been drawn out from
under the beds. The light from a couple of candles,
stuck in two bottles, shed a somewhat faint and glim-
mering radiance on our faces and figures.
In the centre of the circle sat Tom Driscoll, raised
on a chair a little above the rest. He had been
moved into the chair on the motion of Fred Lan-
'It is hardly necessary for me to state, gentlemen,
the object for which this meeting has been summoned,'
Tom began. 'That is known to you all; what we
have now to do is to decide upon the best plan by
which our object may be carried out. This is an open
meeting. The freest liberty of speech is granted to
all. Anybody may say what he is moved to say,
and we shall be glad to hear whatever proposals or
suggestions any one may have to bring forward. It
is desirable that the subject in hand should be as fully
discussed as possible, so that we may get at the
general opinion of the meeting.'
Hear, hear !' from several voices.
There was a short pause, and then Fred Lankester
rose. Fred's father was a member of Parliament in
the Legislative Council or Upper House of the
Colony; and Fred having pretty often been present
at debates in both the Upper and Lower Houses, was
tolerably familiar with the way in which discussions
were conducted, as well as with the sort of phrases
used by public speakers.
'Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,' began Fred, with a
preliminary clearing of his throat.
A MIDNIGHT COUNCIL. 47
'I have in my mind a motion which I intend pro-
posing to this meeting. But before doing so I should
first like to hear the opinions of other gentlemen
present. There are several honourable members of
the class, any suggestions from whom, I am sure, will
be valuable. I shall therefore defer bringing forward
my motion till later on in the meeting. But mean-
while, with your permission, sir, I should like to say
a word or two on the object itself of this conference.
I would like to state the reasons, as they appear to
me, why I think we have just cause for the course
we are at present taking; and if there are any present
who have doubts upon this point, I hope before I
have done to be able to convince them, and to bring
them over to the opinion held, I am sure, by the
We consider, then, that we have suffered injustice,
and been treated in an ungentlemanly and unworthy
manner, at the hands of Monsieur Flavelle. We
played a trick upon him,-granted; but I consider
that it was a harmless kind of trick, not devised out of
any ill-feeling towards Monsieur Flavelle, but merely
out of fun; there was nothing of malice in it, we
consider. This joke of ours, or trick, if you prefer to
call it so, Monsieur Flavelle has thought fit to resent
48 WILL UGHB Y SCHOOL
in a manner out of all proportion to its gravity.
That is the point, you perceive.
Of course, we might have expected that he would
get a little hot and waxy over the matter, and perhaps
given us something extra in the shape of work to do.
But that he would have reported us to the head-
master, no doubt, putting the matter before him in a
more serious light even than was actually the case, is
what none of us ever looked for, and is a thing that
cannot be passed lightly over by us.
'Another point I wish to refer to is this. Monsieur
Flavelle has been, generally speaking, easy enough
with us, no doubt, and we thought him, on the whole,
a good-natured sort of fellow; and it might be argued
that in playing off this trick upon him, we were im-
posing on his forbearance. But then this very
easiness of disposition of his has deceived and led
us on. We are but mortal, mortal boys moreover.
Monsieur Flavelle has led us to believe that he could
stand more than we have found him able to stand.
I very much suspect that he is not so good-natured
a person as we have innocently supposed him to
'In fact, you will see that it has been our trustful-
ness and unsuspicion that has betrayed us. After
Monsieur's whole behaviour in class hitherto has
A MIDNIGHT COUNCIL. 49
been sitch as to lead us to suppose that we might
safely indulge in such a joke as we did, he has re-
vealed himself all at once in a new character; or
rather, what I am afraid is his real character,-has,
in fact, gentlemen, twined suddenly upon us like a
snake, and bitten us severely. Shakespeare has said
somewhere, I forget at this moment exactly where,
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child."
'Slightly altering the great bard's words, may we not
say with equal truth,-
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a deceitful French master ?
And now I hope that I have clearly shown that the
fact that Monsieur Flavelle has been, as a rule, easy
and apparently good-tempered with us, does not
excuse his present conduct. That very jolliness and
smoothness has been our undoing, gentlemen. I
very much fear that Monsieur's true character is as
deep and dark as a Chinee's.
'Being then quite decided as to the justness of our
cause, we have now to determine upon the best plan
to be pursued, in order to carry out our object. As
I said before, I have myself a suggestion to make,
but would first like to hear the opinion of others. It
50 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
may be that some one may have thought of a better
plan than that which I have to propose, in which case
I shall very gladly give up mine.'
Great applause followed Fred's speech. When I
say great applause, I do not mean that we made much
row. It would have been dangerous doing that, for
fear of disturbing the house. Our applause, there-
fore, was confined to hear I hears !' spoken under our
breath, and a sort of muffled hand-clapping; but it
was very general and unanimous.
At first we thought that. the meeting was quite
unanimous in its approval of Fred's way of putting the
case, and that there was to be no dissent from it.
We were therefore a little surprised when Alick
Fullarton rose and said-
'Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,-I am sorry that
I cannot agree with the opinions just expressed. I
know that what I have to say will be very unlikely
to find favour with this meeting, but I am going to
say it nevertheless.
'I think, then, that we are altogether wrong in this
matter. Fred here has admitted that Monsieur
Flavelle has been very easy and indulgent with us
nitherto. Well then, let us remember that before we
do anything hasty, that we would perhaps be sorry for
afterwards. We have had our joke, if you like to call
A MIDNIGHT- COUNCIL. 51
it so, at his expense, and he has taken it more
seriously than we looked for. Supposing the punish-
ment we have been given is greater than the offence
demanded,-supposing that, I say; well, we have had
many a bit of fun and lark at Monsieur's expense,
which he has passed over, and only laughed at. Let
the one thing be set against the other, and let us allow
this matter to drop here.
'Fred has just made a very clever speech, no doubt.
Some of you may remember that, the other day, when
we had the word callidus in our Virgil lesson, Mr.
Cubitt said a good translation of it in that place was
subtle. Well, it seems to me that Fred's speech is
just that. It is out-and-out subtle,-ingenious, you
know, and deep. But its logic is weak for. all that,
and I hope it won't persuade you to his way of think-
ing. What I say again is, that we should let this
affair drop, and go on with Monsieur Flavelle as if
nothing had happened.'
Fred rose again.
'I am sorry,' he said, that there has been a voice
to disturb the harmony which I trusted would have
prevailed in this meeting. I thought that we were
unanimous in regard to the object of our conference,
and that what we now had to determine merely, was
how that object might best be carried out.'
52 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
'Tom told us that every fellow was allowed the
freest liberty of speech, and so I have said what I
thought,' said Alick.
'Mr. Chairman,' said Fred quickly, 'I rise to a
point of order. I beg to submit that our honourable
friend who has just spoken is out of all order when
he addresses the chairman as Tom." I am surprised
at the honourable gentleman's disrespect.' .
I beg the chairman's pardon,' said Alick; 'I am
not so well up in the forms of public meetings as my
learned and eloquent friend; I am ready to admit
'We haven't all got governors in Parliament,' said,
a voice from a corner.
'Order, gentlemen, order !' exclaimed Tom; 'I beg
that there will be no indulgence in personalities.
'It is both unbecoming and distracts the attention of
'Go ahead then,' from the same voice.
Order I order !' from several voices.
'Perhaps our honourable friend who has made
this objection to our proceedings had better put his
objection in the form of a motion,' said Fred; we shall
by that means soon see to what extent he is supported
in his opinion by the rest of the meeting-
A MIDNIGHT COUNCIL. 53
'All right,' said Alick. 'I beg to propose, Mr.
Chairman, that this matter be now dropped, and the
Does any one second that motion V asked Tom.
No one spoke. Tom put the question again,
and when, after a pause, still no fellow rose to speak,
The motion, for want -of a seconder, must fall to
the ground, and the meeting will proceed.'
Fred gave a short laugh of half triumph.
I expected that you were all of one opinion,' said
Alick. 'But I say again, that, for myself, I entirely
disagree with what you are about.'
'I submit that our friend is again out of order,'
said Fred. He has put his motion and found no
supporter. He has now no right to say anything
further in the way of objection, but must be content
to let the meeting proceed.'
'As it is getting late,' said the chairman, 'any one
who has any proposal to make had better do so as
quickly as possible. If nobody has anything to say,
I shall call upon Fred to bring forward his motion,
and take the opinion of the meeting upon it, whatever
it may be.'
No one seemed to have thought of any particular
proposal which he wished to make. Perhaps Fred's
grand style of putting things-for to us at least his
talk seemed to sound as like as two pins to the
speeches in the newspapers-had impressed the
fellows with the idea that anything any one else could
say would sound weak after it, and that it would be
best just to let him bring forward whatever he had to
propose. That was my own idea at any rate, and so
'I beg to propose, Mr. Chairman, that we now
hear Fred's motion.'
'Yes, that's it !' said Joe Coote; 'and don't be too
long-winded, Fred, old man. Cut it short; it's getting
jolly cold. I've got nothing but my trousers and
In compassion for Mr. Coote's feelings, then,' said
Fred, I shall be as brief as possible. What I have
to propose is, that the duty of determining the manner
in which we shall endeavour to show Monsieur
Flavelle that his recent conduct hasseriously offended
and wounded us, and that we are not disposed to pass
it by unnoticed, be left to the management of a com-
mittee chosen by the meeting. It is clear that we
cannot fix upon any proper plan now, for our time
A MIDNIGHT COUNCIL.
is too short, and the meeting has been summoned
too hastily. But if we appoint a committee to under-
take the matter, they will have full time to consider
and devise the best means by which our object may
be carried out.
'I beg to propose, then, the following names as a
committee, which the meeting may add to as they
think fit:-Tom Driscoll, Jack Warde, Joe Coote,
and the mover of the motion.
'I beg to add the name of Charley Webb,' said a
'Gentlemen, you have now heard Fred's motion.
It requires a seconder.
'I beg to second that motion,' said the speaker
who had proposed the name of Charley Webb to be
added to the committee.
The motion was put and carried unanimously.
'Might I ask when the committee are expected to
report to the rest of the class the result of their
deliberations said Charley.
'Some time to-morrow will be soon enough,' said
Fred. And now there is one other thing to be done
before the meeting closes. I beg to propose a vote
of thanks to our chairman for the very able manner
in which he has performed his duties.
'Hear, hear to be sure! all right!' from all
'I suppose that's all now,' said Joe Coote. 'I vote-
that in future we hold meetings in the day-time. It's
all very grand, perhaps, having them at this unearthly
hour, but it's jolly uncomfortable sitting out here at
midnight without any stockings, even in summer.
-There's a risk too of being nabbed, for I am sure old
Kelly often takes a prowl round the bedrooms after
we're all asleep.'
'Shut up, Joe; what a growler you are said Fred,
'you needn't be afraid of losing an hour's sleep, you
old owl, you take enough generally.'
It was rather amusing to hear Fred drop so suddenly
from the grand style of talking he had been keeping
up into common speech.
'Well, I'm off to bed now anyway,' growled Joe.
'Those who fancy sitting up here and cooling their
heels another hour or so are at'perfect liberty to do
so,' and Joe shuffled off in his slippers to his bed.
His example was quickly followed by the rest, and
the meeting, which we had endeavoured to carry on as
much as we knew how after the fashion of our elders,
broke up in a rather hasty and undignified manner.
There was a few minutes' shuffling of slippered feet
over the floor, and every boy was in his bed again;
A MIDNIGHT COUNCIL. 57
the room returned to the darkness and quiet which
usually reigned over it at this hour, and very soon
nothing could have been heard save the measured
breathing of the sleepers.
HE next day the committee met, and after a
talk of some length we fixed upon a plan
to carry out the object discussed in the
last chapter. The reader will see shortly what that
It is only necessary to say here that we decided
that it would be safest not to do anything extreme,
nothing, that is, that we could be easily called to
account for, or that could be easily fastened upon as
a ground for serious punishment. At the same time
it was resolved that we must let Monsieur Flavelle
clearly understand what we meant him to understand.
The result of the committee's council met with the
approval of the rest of the fourth form. On the
next French day we put our scheme into execution.
Monsieur Flavelle began the lesson as if nothing had
ever occurred between him and us since we last met.
RETALIA TION. 59
We thought he was inclined to be particularly con-
ciliatory. He was bland and chirpy and smiling.
Evidently he wanted all that had occurred between
us to be forgotten as quickly as possible. Perhaps
he had already repented of what he had done. But
we were not to be smoothed down and imposed
upon in this way.
Fred had assured us that it was possible that
Monsieur would meet us in this very fashion, and
that if he did so we must be prepared for it. We
must not be taken in and soft-sawdered by his
smooth manner, but must steel our hearts against it.
No doubt he would like to let the past slip by in
this easy way and be forgotten. But he must first
learn his lesson. He had had his little revenge upon
us. He was to find out that we were disposed to
assert and maintain our dignity.
Our exercises that day were one and all-with the
exception of Alick Fullarton's, who had not been
made acquainted with our plans, as we knew he was
determined to take no part in them-a tissue of mis-
takes from beginning to end.
But Monsieur Flavelle passed this by with hardly
a remark, as though he did not notice that they were
any worse than on other days, and the lesson pro-
ceeded. Thus, the first part of our plan to mark the
displeasure which we harboured against Monsieur
Flavelle had very little effect.
He seemed determin.V to be as gay and good-
tempered as possible, and this very thing was all the
better for our purpose. All his attempts at re-estab-
lishing a friendly understanding between himself and
us we were resolved to resist. We received his jokes
and sallies at first with almost perfect silence, and
without a smile, and by and bye in a way that
still more decidedly marked our entire want of
sympathy and appreciation. One by one his little
jokes dropped flat and dead. But still he appeared
to notice nothing.
At last he told us a story of his student days at
Heidelberg, about an old house near the town that
was said to contain a haunted room, and which no
one could be persuaded to rent. A number of his
fellow-students having dared him to pass a night in
the haunted chamber, he determined to do so. The
story was that every night, when there was any wind
blowing, a voice was heard in the room, uttering in
hoarse tones the words, 'Will you have a shave ?'-in
German of course. On the first windy night young
Flavelle was ready to sleep in the old house, having
had a bed and a few other things placed in the.
He lay down on his bed at his usual time, and
soon fell asleep. But he was awakened after a little
by the noise of the wind, which had greatly increased,
and which was now blowing almost a gale. He lay
still and listened to the noise and hubbub outside, as
the wind whistled and moaned' round about the gables
and chimneys, and under the eaves of the rickety
Presently he heard a noise distinct from any other
of the various sounds which the wind was making; a
low, hoarse, rather peculiar sound. To a disturbed
and terrified imagination, he said, it might have
appeared not unlike the deep growl of a surly man
out of temper. But he never for a moment mistook
it for a human voice, and as to finding in the sound
any resemblance to the words, 'Will you have a
shave ?' he thought it would have required not only a
very frightened but a very ingenious person to do so.
But he was curious to find out what it really was
that was causing the noise, for it certainly was :
somewhat strange one, and different from the noises
made by the wind. It came from the direction of
one of the two windows, so he rose and went to that
The noise became more distinct as he approached
the window. He opened the wooden shutter and
02 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
looked out. It was very dark, and for a few moments
he could make out nothing.
Suddenly something brushed against his face, strik-
ing him pretty sharply. It was the branch of a tree,
and now he saw that a tall poplar tree grew quite
close to the wall of the house, so close that whenever
the wind was high, its stem rubbed against the stone.
Flavelle held his head for a few seconds out of the
window, and heard now with greater distinctness than
ever the hoarse grating sound. He had not a doubt
that it was made by the rubbing of the poplar tree
against the wall, and that he had solved the mystery
of the haunted room.
At any other time we should certainly have laughed
at and applauded this story. Even now one or two
fellows so far forgot themselves, and the agreement
among us, as to give way to a faint giggle or two.
But these were quickly reminded of what was expected
of them, and almost complete silence for a few
moments followed Monsieur's story. It was broken
by Fred Lankester saying-
'Most remarkable 1 Did ever any one hear the
This Fred uttered in the gravest manner he was
capable of, without a movement of any kind in his
RE TALIA TION.
'Beats cock-fighting to smithereens, my word!'
said Joe Coote.
'So touching, and yet so true 1' said Fred again.
'Such unexampled courage !' said Tom Driscoll,
looking straight ahead of him at the opposite wall.
Gulliver never met with anything more astonish-
ing,' said Charley Webb.
'Nor Baron Munchausen,' said I.
'Nor Peter Parley,' said a voice from the back
seats, from one of the younger boys in the class.
This very nearly upset our gravity, and it was with
difficulty that we restrained a guffaw.
'Had you no emotion of terror whatever when
you first heard that grim sound?' said Fred.
Monsieur knows not what fear is,' said Tom.
We had never forgotten Monsieur Flavelle's tell-
ing us that he had never known what fear was. It
had become a catch saying among us.
During the last few minutes Monsieur Flavelle's
face had been undergoing a change, which was pre-
sently apparent to all. At first he looked perplexed,
then astonished, and at last, when Tom uttered his
last speech, the expression of his face was most
evidently one of great anger.
Our plan was at last having the effect we desired.
Monsieur Flavelle was feeling now the weight of our
displeasure. All the good humour he had been
endeavouring to keep up since the beginning of the
lesson was thrown aside. We had roused him at
last, and made him feel that we could sting as well
For a few moments he didn't speak and we didn't
speak. There was sudden silence in the room. He
stood staring at us. His face was quite white now,
his lips tightly pressed, his frame stiff and erect, his
eyes gleaming,-a very different figure indeed from
the cheerful, smiling gentleman of ten minutes back.
'Hal methinks he winces now,' said Fred in a
When Monsieur Flavelle spoke, his voice had
changed as much as his face. It was low, measured,
and distinct; but with a slight shake in it neverthe-
'What is this?' he said, 'I do not understand.
Are you young gentlemen? or are you animals,
monkeys without hearts or senses? It is not since I
-have been a master that I was so treated, mocked,
'Pardon me, Monsieur. Such terms-' interrupted
'.Will you be silent, sir !' cried Monsieur Flavelle.
'I say mocked, insulted. The words are too good
for your conduct this day. But I see how it is. I
have been too easy with you, too indulgent always;
yes; and you have taken advantage of me. That is
how you return my indulgence. But I do repent it
'That is all we want, sir,' broke in Tom Driscoll
coolly, wilfully taking up Monsieur Flavelle's words
in a different sense from that intended.
Monsieur Flavelle was about to speak again, when
another voice was heard. It was Alick Fullarton's,
'Here I that's about enough, I think. Drop it
now, like good fellows; and if Monsieur Flavelle
Alick was not allowed to get further. A hoot of
derision mingled with hisses interrupted his speech,
and sneak,' 'turn-coat,' 'traitor,' was groaned from
'Neither sneak nor traitor !' exclaimed Alick,rather
hotly. 'You know I had nothing to do with this
from the first.'
'Then shut up, can't you, as you have nothing to
do with it?' interrupted Tom Driscoll hotly.
'Yes, it's like his cheek to interfere exclaimed
another voice, and there were fresh hisses and
'Thank you, Fullarton,' began Monsieur Flavelle
again, his voice showing that he was making a strong
effort to keep calm. 'But if you will allow me to
At this moment the school-bell rang, announcing
that it was four o'clock, and that school was over
for the day. We did not wait a moment to hear
Monsieur Flavelle conclude his speech. We had
succeeded in our object as completely as we could
have wished. Unceremoniously we turned our backs
upon the French master, and in a few minutes he
was left standing in the room alone.
A little later, on the dismission of the school, a
number of us were discussing the events of the after-
'Well, we've taught him a lesson he won't
quickly forget, I bet,' said-Tom Driscoll.
'My word, no! What a face he had when you
said that about his not knowing what fear was 1' said
Joe Coote. 'He tried hard to keep calm, but it was
easy o see how set up he was.'
'And there's nothing that he can well fasten on,
that's the beauty of it all,' said Fred Lankester.
'We were just coolly impudent, and supposing he
was inclined to report us to Cubitt again, he wouldn't
exac ly know what'to report. Bcides, to make the
matt er clear he would have to say that he had been
first yarning to us, and it isn't likely he'll care to tell
'No, we've done far better than if we'd tried to
play off another trick on him by way of revenge,-
something that we could have been come down upon
for,' said Charley Webb.
'And a more dignified way too 1' said Tom, with
the rather grand air he sometimes had.
'.But what cheek it was of Sandy Fullarton putting
in his say in that style !' said Joe Coote.
'Yes, confound his impudence !' said Tom, 'He's
taken up a high and mighty air about this business.
But he'll perhaps find out before long that it's best
for him not to get too stuck-up, but just to do as the
majority do. And now, who's for cricket ?'
'Crown I first bat !' cried Joe.
'Crown as much as you like, old chap, but Fred
and I weren't out yesterday, so we go in first again
co-day,' said I; and we all made for the cricket-
ground, Charley Webb and I carrying the bag.
'What a rum way you're going on in this business
with old Flavelle,' I said to Alick that evening as
we were getting up our Virgil together. 'Why can't
you just go in with the rest ?'
'Because, as I said before, I think you're all
wrong, and that it's a jolly shame; and I'm sur-
68 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
prised at your taking part in it, Jack,' he replied in
his sturdy way.
'Pooh I what a fuss you make about it 1' I answered.
'It's only a lark. It'll soon blow over, and Monsieur
will be all right again, and things go on in the class
the same as before.'
'Maybe,' said Alick. Alick often answered just
with that one word 'maybe,' spoken in a short way.
It was a kind of answer that told you very little, and
generally closed further conversation.
A TALK WITH ALICK.
Sa certain extent I was right in what I said
to Alick. Things did soon return in some
degree to what they were before the out-
break between Monsieur Flavelle and the fourth.
We felt that we had done sufficient to assert our
dignity, and convince Monsieur that we were not to
be played fast and loose with.
We did not wish to push matters further, unless
he showed himself aggressive, in which case we were
resolved not to shrink from the contest. We would
not take any further offensive measures, but we were
quite prepared to act determinedly on the defensive,
on the first sign of attack on Monsieur's part.
But he made no such sign. On the French day
after that last described, he received the class with-
out a reference to the incidents of our last meeting.
70 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
But the difference in his manner towards us was at
once observable, and that changed manner continued..
He was cold, stiff, and formal, and spoke little more
than was required by the lesson. He stuck close to
the work in hand, and there were no more digressions
in the way of general gossip and story-telling. So
that when I said that matters returned to the old
way in some degree only, this was chiefly what I
Perhaps this new condition of things ought to
have been better for us, in regard to our French
work. But I don't know if there was much difference
in that respect, and the relations between us were
certainly not so friendly and pleasant. But we, on
our part, felt sure that this was entirely Monsieur's
fault, and not ours. He had taken a sulky turn, and
by and by, perhaps, he would come out of it. So we
Soon.it -began to be noticed that Alick Fullarton
seemed to be getting very thick with Monsieur
Flavelle. He was several times seen walking with
him, after the school was dismissed, down to the
landing-place at the river, where the steam ferry-boat
touched, on her way to Sydney.
Then it was observed that Monsieur always
addressed Alick in class with an amount of polite-
A TALK WITH ALICK. 71
ness and attention that he did not bestow upon the
rest. His new manner was to be polite, in a stiff,
formal kind of way, to all of us, but when he spoke
to Alick there was a friendliness in his tone, and he
sometimes actually smiled,-a thing which he rarely
did now. All this was quite marked enough to be
'How thick Monsieur and Sandy Fullarton are
getting !' said Tom Driscoll to me, one evening of a
French day. 'You're his closest chum, Jack;
what's it mean-eh? Is it gratitude on Monsieur's
part for Sandy's standing up for him that day '
'I 'm sure I don't know, Tom,' I replied; 'Alick
has said nothing to me about the matter, and I haven't
'Scotchmen are deep-deep, and long-headed; I
suppose you've heard that, Jack ? Shouldn't wonder
if Sandy was keeping an eye on the first French prize,
and thinks it won't be against his chance to keep-well
in with old Flavelle 9'
'Well, I wouldn't go sucking round a master for
the three French. prizes put together,' said Fred
Lankester, who was with us.
'I'll bet Alick's not doing that, Fred,' I answered.
'I'm pretty sure he's not that sort of fellow.'
I don't say what sort of chap he is. But it looks
72 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
a leetle like it, you'll admit l Appearances are
against him, as they say in the trials.'
'Pooh, you're getting jealous of Fullarton, Fred,
because he's pushing you hard in History,' I answered
a little impatiently.
Fred was a cool fellow, not easily ruffled, able to
answer with every appearance of composure, even
when you hit him pretty hard.
Don't get huffy, old man,' he said, I ain't attack-
ing you. What says the poet, whose name, I think,
is no other than the honoured one of Watts ?-
Good children, you should never let
Your angry passions rise;
And always recollect to hit
A fellow your own size.'
Tom and I both laughed heartily enough at Fred's
'A slight improvement on the original, don't you
think 9' he said.
'Of course,' said I. But it doesn't apply to you
and me, old Long-shanks.'
Not lengthways, perhaps. But broadways, Jack.
Consider me broadways-take us both for all in all,
as the immortal William says, arid you're more than
my match, Jack. But come on 1 Don't think I'm
afraid of you, Jack Warde.'
A TALK WITH AL1CK. 73
Fred and I made a pretence of sparring at each
other. We closed, and Fred getting my head under
his left arm, began to make belief to pummel it with
his right, while I gripped him round the waist.
'There, that'll do, you two,' said Tom. 'Let's
go for a swim.'
'He ought to think himself much honoured in
being thus treated,' said Fred. 'He's quite an im-
portant person at this moment.'
'How's that V asked Tom.
'Why, don't you see I'm making him a Warde in
Oh, I say, that's pretty far-fetched, old man. I
bet Jack hardly understands your joke. Your pater
has something to do with the law, I think; so I
suppose that's how you know about Wards in
'Well, I do just happen to understand the pun,
Mister Tom,' said I, as I disengaged myself from
'Why shouldn't I, if you do ?'
'Well, I shouldn't have myself a few days ago,'
answered Tom good-humouredly; 'but I was read-
ing something about wards in Chancery in a story
the other day.'
'Well, so was I-in one of Dickens's novels,' said I;
74 WILL OUGHBY SCHOOL.
'but as you're punning on names, Fred, I'11 cap
yours. If I'd got you in Chancery just now, I'd
have made your phiz as red as a Lankesterrose.'
'Oh! come, that's atrocious, Jack; that's enough
for one afternoon !' said Tom.
'It's not quite up to Fred's, I'11 admit; but it's
That night I said to Alick Fullarton-
'Alick, the fellows are noticing how thick old
Flavelle and you are getting.'
Well, what of it, supposing we are?' replied he.
'Oh! nothing; only some chaps will talk, you
know. Some of them are saying you're sticking up
to him for some reason or other. I don't think so,
you know, Alick-don't think that.'
I know you don't, old fellow; but let them talk.
It won't harm me. But I'm going to tell you some-
thing, Jack. Perhaps it will explain things to you a
bit. Only you must promise not to say anything
about what I'm going to tell you to any of the other
All right, I promise; tgnis via /'
'I've learned something more about Monsieur
Flavelle lately, and what I have learned makes me
the more certain that the fellows have been treating
him very badly. He's come to live quite near us,
A TALK WITH ALICK. 75
in Victoria Street, you know, and I met him when I
was at home the other day. He has two daughters,
one quite an invalid and the other a teacher in the
'My mother has become acquainted with them, and
she says that the oldest girl is quite above the general
run of public-school teachers in education, and fitted
for much higher work, only she has not been able
as yet to get a better situation..
'They are pretty poor these Flavelles, I expect,
and the invalid daughter requires a great deal of
care and attention, and whatever spare money they
have must go to buy things for her, wine and other
delicacies like that, you know.
'I have met Monsieur Flavelle again since I first
met him in the street. The mater asked him and
his daughter to tea the last Saturday night I was at
home. He is not a bad fellow at all, and the more
you see of him out of school the better you like him.
I know that he has his weak points. He is vain,
no doubt, an out-and-out vain old chap in fact, about
some things, and likes to tell you what he has seen
and done. But who hasn't got his weak points, I
should like to know? Monsieur Flavelle is thor-
oughly good-natured, I feel sure, and wouldn't bear
a grudge against a fellow long, if he thought you
were at all sorry for having been cheeky to him, or
riled him in any way
'And now when I know he is poor, and has to
work hard, I say once more that I think the chaps
have been hard upon him, and that he feels it.'
'But the others don't know anything about what
you have just been saying, Alick. Perhaps it would
change their opinion of Monsieur Flavelle a bit.
Don't you think I ought to tell some of them ?' I said.
Not just yet at any rate, Jack. They 'll maybe
find out for themselves by and by that Monsieur
Flavelle is not exactly the kind of man they believe
him to be, but a much better; and it will be best, I
think, that they should find it out for themselves.
Then they'll perhaps come to see more clearly that
they haven't been using him well lately.'
But we're willing enough to forget what's past,'
I replied. I didn't quite see as yet the full force of
Alick's line of reasoning, and was inclined to defend
the course adopted by the fellows generally,-the
more so, no doubt, as I myself had had a part in it.
'It's Monsieur himself who is now in the wrong,
surely; because it's pretty plain, I think, that he's
now turned sulky. I fancy most of the fellows would
be ready enough to meet him half-way, in the matter
of making it up again; but he doesn't seem to be
A TALK WITH ALICK. 77
inclined to come the other. Too proud or something,
'It isn't sulkiness, Jack, but a little pride it may
be; and is that anything wonderful? But he has
taken up this new manner chiefly, I think, because
he doesn't know now how far it would be safe for him
to go with the class in the way of being free and
familiar, and he fears exposing himself again to any-
thing like what took place a few weeks ago, which
;le felt more, I am sure, than most of the fellows can
understand. They thought that he was just set up at
the time, and that it would pass off. But the thing
cut deeper than that comes to, and now you see he
seems determined to be on his guard, as it were, for
'Well, perhaps things will come all square between
the fellows and him by and by,' I said. 'I would
like to see it now after what you have told me. But
if they don't, I think the rest should be told of this
'Well, we'll see; but keep what I have said to
you to yourself as yet, Jack, as you promised,' replied
MR. CUBITT'S SCHEME.
T Willoughby House we had a Cadet Rifle
Corps, embracing the whole school. Every
boy that came to the school joined it as
an understood thing. Of course we had a uniform,
and a very fine one too; at least we thought so-
dark slate-coloured grey, with an edging of scarlet
down the front and round the cuffs and collar, and
caps to match, with a scarlet band. We had drill
twice a week-the awkward squad composed chiefly
of new boys-generally oftener.
Mr. Bennet was the captain of the corps. Of
course we were on terms of rather greater equality
with Mr. Bennet than with Mr. Cubitt and Mr.
Butler, both because he was a good deal younger than
either of the other two masters, and because he
mingled much more with us out of school.
Besides being our captain in the Cadet Corps, he
joined us frequently in many of our sports, especially
MR. CUBITT'S SCHEME. .79
in cricket. Of course we always called him either
'Sir,' or 'Mister,'-for though he took part in our
games freely and heartily, and wasn't at all stiff and
careful of his dignity as a master, out of school, at
the same time he-wasn't the sort of fellow you could
take liberties with.
He knew how to make a chap that attempted any-
thing like that feel small very soon. But he was frank
and jolly, and as I said just now, never thought it
necessary, out of school, to- remind you every now
and then that he was a master, and you were boys.
It was very shortly after that conversation between
Alick Fullarton and myself about Monsieur Flavelle,
that Tom Driscoll and I were seated one afternoon
under a tree in the garden, trying to rebind the handle
of an old cricket-bat, and not making a very neat job
The twine was too thick, and not well enough
waxed;-but this has nothing to do with what I am
going to tell about. Engaged in our work, we did
not notice the approach of Mr. Bennet until he was
close beside us, and speaking.
'Driscoll and Warde, I want to talk to you about
something,' he said.
'All right, sir, what is it we said, discontinuing
'Something that I think will interest you. I have
just had a pretty long talk with Mr. Cubitt, who has
been unfolding to me a plan he has been thinking
over for some days back, in regard to the Cadet
Corps. He wants to know what you would think
of *a general camping out of the whole corps,
for a couple of nights or so, with a sham fight,
a night attack and defence, or something of that
'Splendid Tom and I burst out in a breath.
-' Every fellow will be delighted, sir, I bet I' con-
'Where does Mr. Cubitt think of going V
'Don't get too excited, boys,' said Mr. Bennet,
smiling. As to the place, Mr. Cubitt has not quite
determined yet, but I think it will be Long Bay. It
ought to suit our purpose well enough, and as it is a.
good way off from here, it will be a greater change
for everybody than a place nearer.'
'Of course,' I said. 'The further away the jollier,
and Long Bay is a first-rate spot for a camp-out.
When will it be, sir ? not long, I hope 1'
In about a week from this, if all goes well. It
will take till then to get everything ready.'
'We'll go in 'busses from Sydney, I suppose '
MR. CUBITTS SCHEME.
'Yes, Mr. Cubitt will try and secure as large ones
as he can, and will go down to Sydney to-morrow or
next day for that purpose. We are to pick up
Monsieur Flavelle, who will wait for us at some
appointed place in town.'
'Is Monsieur Flavelle to go with us asked Tom,
in a voice that decidedly showed surprise.
'Yes. Mr. Cubitt has already spoken to him about
the matter, and he is willing to go with us. He
thought that Monsieur would enjoy the outing and
the change, and would like to be asked to join us.
Besides -that, he may be useful to the expedition.
You know he has studied medicine and surgery, and
he still understands something of it. Well, in the
case of any accident or sickness befalling any
one during our camp,-which I hope will not be the
case,-it will be as well to have some one by who
knows how to treat it.
'Then again, Monsieur Flavelle can do something
in the fencing way. All German students learn to
fence, you know, and I think Monsieur must have
been rather a-crack hand in his youth. Now he may
be inclined to give some of you older boys a few
lessons in fencing, and we might have one or two
fencing and single-stick matches for small prizes. It
would vary our proceedings a bit.'
82 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
'I suppose we may mention this matter to the
others, sir I said.
'Oh, yes. If anything occurs to prevent our going,
that will speak for itself.'
What Mr. Bennet had just told us put the business
of the bat-stringing quite past our mind for the
present. When he had gone, Tom exclaimed-
'My word, Jack, this is the jolliest notion we've
heard of for a long time !'
'It is so. I just hope nothing happens to prevent
its being carried out,' I said.
'Don't go suggesting that now. What should.
prevent it, when Mr. Cubitt's going to arrange it all
himself But that's rather a rum start, asking old
Flavelle to go with us. I don't think he'll be much
addition to our fun, if he's going to be as sulky and
grumpy as he's been for some weeks back. I wonder
he cares about going with us himself, considering the
coolness there still is between us !'
'Perhaps he doesn't really care much about going,
but didn't like to refuse when Mr. Cubitt asked him.'
'There's something in that. But I would like just
as well that he wasn't to be with us. It isn't as if
he was like what he used to be, when he at any rate
talked and was pretty jolly. Now he '11 just be a wet
blanket to the affair.'
MR. CUBITT'S SCHEME.
You needn't see more of him than you like you'll
riot be obliged to talk to him.'
Doesn't Mr. Bennet propose his giving us some
fencing lessons ? Won't that throw us together a good
dealt Hang his fencing lessons I We could have
got on well enough without that. And as to his being
a sort of doctor to the camp, it isn't likely his services
will be much required in that way. Mr. Cubitt will
be too careful, you may bet, for anything very serious
to happen, accidents or that.'
'Well, he's to go, so we'll just have to make the
best of it; and I daresay his presence won't make so
much difference as you seem to think, Tom.'
'I'm only judging from the sort of temper he's
shown ever since our flare-up with him. Why doesn't
he forget it like a man, now that it's all past, and not
go on in that spiteful mean-spirited way But I
expect all foreigners are more womanish and revenge-
ful than Englishmen.'
If that is the case, perhaps we ought to make
more allowance for him.'
No, it doesn't excuse him. He's among English
now, and he ought to have learned their ways by this
I didn't think Tom's argument very strong, but we
said no more about the matter then.
84 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
Tom and I told two or three of the fellows about
Mr. Cubitt's plan of the camping out; they told others,
and before the evening was over the matter was being
discussed through the whole school.
During the next few days little else was talked
of at Willoughby House. All other sports were for-
gotten in the one absorbing topic of interest. When- -
ever you saw two or three or more fellows talking
together in or out of the house, you might safely
have given long odds that they were speaking about
the coming expedition of the Cadet Corps. If the
truth were known, I am afraid that it occupied the
thoughts of most of us pretty often, when they
should have been given to school-work. But you see
it was a thing that was only to occur once, so perhaps
we may be excused if we were taken up with it, to
the exclusion of almost everything besides.
EN Mr. Bennet, first spoke to Tom Driscoll
and me about the proposed camping-out
it was on a Monday afternoon, and it was
arranged by Mr. Cubitt that if everything was in
readiness by that time, we were to start on the follow-
ing Monday. Everything was ready when the
Monday came, and moreover the morning broke fine
When we reached Sydney in the Parramatta steamer
we found the omnibuses waiting for us at the wharf.
They were the largest that Mr. Cubitt had been able
to procure, and I daresay he must have paid the
proprietors pretty handsomely before they took them
from their regular traffic to let us have them.
There was some rushing and scrambling before we
got into our places, for everybody wanted to be outside
86 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
of course, and the interference of Mr. Bennet was
necessary to settle who should ride inside, and who
out. But in a little we were all fairly seated, just
filling the 'busses comfortably, and off we started.
You may be sure we made some small stir as we
drove through the streets. Nearly everybody stopped
to look at us as we passed; shopmen came to their
-doors, clerks poked their heads out of office-windows,
and envied us, no doubt, and small boys waved their
caps and hurrahed.
As long as we were in the town, our pace was, at
best, slow-too much so.by a good deal for our tastes.
But when we got out into the suburbs, the drivers
shook up their reins, gave their horses a slight taste of
whipcord, and we bowled along at a good smart trot.
We could now do a little in the hurrahing way our-
selves without hindrance or restraint, and every group
of men we passed at work on the roadside, every toll we
went through, every old lady trudging along with her
market-basket, everything, in fact, that we met and that
afforded us an excuse for doing so, we saluted with
a volley of cheers, until we had somewhat tired our
No doubt it was very silly and childish, in the
opinion of grown-up people, but remember the day
was bright and splendid, we were in unusually high
THE CAMP-OUT. 87
spirits at the prospects before us, and that it doesn't
take much to make a boy noisy at any time.
When we got beyond the suburbs we were fairly in
the country; driving along a good road with low hills
covered with short grass and scrub, with here and
there a clump of trees, blue-gum or wattle, on each side.
The distance from Sydney to Long Bay is about ten
miles, and the road is good until the last two miles or
so, when it becomes rather uneven and sandy. At this
part of the road we got out and walked a bit of the way.
The majority of us had been at Long Bay at least
once before, and some knew it well; but there were
others to whom it was quite new. On arriving at the
bay the first business was to get out all our things
from the 'busses-our impedimenta or baggage, as Mr.
Cubitt said an old Roman would have called them.
The next was to pitch our tents. These were four in
number, the circular kind, with a pole in the centre.
We placed the tents in the form of a square. One
tent was allotted to each class, our corps being divided
into four divisions, according to the classes. This
made the number in each tent about the same, rather
less in those occupied by the two upper classes.
Then, under Mr. Bennet's directions-for he super-
intended all our movements-we dug a trench in the
shape of a cross in the middle of the camp, in which
88 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
we intended to kindle our watch-fires at night;
Round each tent also we made a narrow trench or
ditch to drain off the water in the event of its coming
on to rain.
By the time all this was done, and the encamp-
ment looked in ship-shape order, it was close upon
two o'clock. We intended to have had dinner at one,
if possible, but we hadn't been able to get through
our work in time, and wanted to see everything fixed
and trim before we left off. But we had fairly earned
our dinner now, and sat down to it with uncommonly
keen-set appetites, even for school-boys. We had
chosen a nice level space of grass backed by some
trees on which to pitch the tents, and on the grass
under the trees we dined.
Dinner finished, after a short rest we had a general
muster, inspection, and drill. After that we were free
to do what and go where we pleased until tea-time.
Most of us went for a bathe and a swim. But not
in the open bay. Had that been the only place for
bathing we should have been obliged to do without
that pleasure. Mr. Cubitt had issued the strictest
orders that no one was to bathe in the open sea, as
Long Bay bore an evil reputation for sharks.
But, luckily for us boys, there was no actual necessity
for bathing in the open. Long Bay, according to its
name, is a long and narrow inlet, the rocks on each
side stretching far out into the sea. On one side
there was a spot where the sea ran in among the rocks
and formed a large deep basin of smooth clear water,
so transparent that you could see every pebble, weed,
and shell at the bottom. It was the grandest natural
swimming-baths you can fancy, and you could get the
most splendid dives from almost any point on the
rocks surrounding it.
The basin was large enough for the whole of us to
bathe in with the greatest freedom. After we had
had about half-an-hour of swimming we heard the
bugle summoning us to get ready for tea.
We were divided into four messes, each tent having
its separate mess. A fire was built in front of each
tent, and a kettle slung over it from three sticks-not
set up as you may have seen in pictures of gipsy
encampments, with the top ends meeting, but two
forked sticks driven into the ground, and a third laid
across them from which the kettle was suspended.
How good the tea tasted made in this way, to be
sure! though we had to be sparing with the milk
where there were so many to be supplied. We drank
it out of pannikins, that is, tin cups or mugs. Before
we had finished our meal the sun had set, and the
twilight, a short time in Australia even in summer,
90 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
was creeping over the land. The fires leaped and
crackled and threw long trembling shadows of all sorts
of queer shapes over the grass, and the trees
seemed to gather themselves closer together in the
It was jolly sitting this way round the fires, for we
had the feeling that we were doing things in real right
style, that this was a genuine bivouac and no mistake.
We could fancy ourselves trappers or hunters camp-
ing out by the side of a beaver stream in the
backwoods of America, for we had all read dozens
of stories of life and adventure in that country, and
it was nearly always America that occurred to our
minds when we thought of camping out; or we could
imagine ourselves real soldiers in war-time bivouack-
ing in front of the enemy's trenches.
The camp was divided into two guards for night
duty, and these were again distributed in watches,
each watch lasting two hours. The first guard con-
sisted of the fourth and second forms, the second of
the third and first forms.
We sat talking and telling yarns round the fires
until about ten o'clock.' Mr. Cubitt was in our tent,
and sat and talked with us. .Monsieur Flavelle was
quartered with us too. And here I must mention the
change that had come over Monsieur's manner,-a
THE CAMP-OUT. 91
change, I mean, from what ithad been of late. He
was now just like what he had been before this cool-
ness between him and us had arisen. He talked
and laughed and joked in his old way, and as if he
had entirely forgotten that there had ever been any
misunderstanding between us, or as if at least he was
resolved to forget it for the time being.
Mr. Cubitt smoked a little, though he was not a
great smoker, and Monsieur Flavelle apparently was
as great a smoker as he was a snuffer-not a very
common thing, I have heard. The two gentlemen
now produced their pipes, and over his Monsieur
Flavelle told us story after story, in his best style,
and some of them were really very good and amusing.
He seemed to enter into the spirit of our expedition
like a boy, and to be enjoying it almost as much as
we. He had certainly, for his years, a great deal of
life and spirit and vivacity, which seemed to require
very little to bring out.
But I set down Monsieur's pleased and jovial
manner, for you might quite call it that, partly to the
presence of Mr. Cubitt. I noticed that the latter
seemed to be on very cordial terms with the French
master, and to like him. He didn't treat him with
any of the stiffness, nor yet with the slight air of
superiority and condescension, that I have known
92 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
head-masters put on towards those under them or
employed by them.
Mr. Cubitt, it was easily seen, treated Monsieur
Flavelle as an equal, with frank and familiar friend--
liness. This of course was calculated to put Monsieur
at his ease, and make him care less about the fact,
if he was thinking of that at all at present, that the
understanding between himself and us was not as
pleasant as might be.
'My word! isn't Monsieur coming out strong
to-night whispered Tom to me.
'He's quite like what he used to be,' said Fred.
'He's not such a bad old cove after all, perhaps.'
'Unless this is only temporary, because Mr. Cubitt's
here, and he doesn't like him to know that there's
anything amiss between him and his classes. He
may be just the same as before when we get back to
school, glum and grumpy as ever. He's deep, you
know, as you once said, Fred.'
'Well, we 'll see,' said I; 'at any rate, Tom, he's
not going to be the wet blanket to our trip that you
No thanks to him though, I expect; I'm pretty
sure it's just because Mr. Cubitt's here. He wants
him to think he gets on all right and smoothly with us.'
This conversation was all spoken in undertone,
THE CAMP-OUT. 93
while Monsieur Flavelle was telling one of his stories.
You will see that Tom's feeling towards Monsieur
was still far from a warm or cordial one. He was in
fact disposed to be harder upon him than any of the
others. He had not yet got over Monsieur's report-
ing us to Mr. Cubitt, and so being the means of our
having our privileges temporarily suspended, and still
regarded him with suspicion and distrust.
Fred Lankester had regarded the whole matter of
our misunderstanding with Monsieur more in the
light of a joke, and had treated it so. He was quite
ready to forget it all now, but Tom's feeling in the
affair was of a deeper kind; and he was besides not
naturally of so light and easy a disposition as Fred.
You felt that he would be both a firmer friend and
a more determined enemy.
S Shortly after ten o'clock the camp turned in, and
the first watch of the first guard went on duty. The
watch-fires were now lit in the cross-trench of which
I have spoken. The fires were already built, and only
required the application of a match to kindle them.
It was not absolutely necessary for any practical
purpose, of course, that we should have had watch-
fires at all, only that we wished to do everything
in proper form and order,.as nearly as possible like
a real military encampment. Why the fires were
placed in a trench became apparent when they were
lit. It was that they might be the less easily seen by
any approaching enemy.
The fellows composing the watch, wrapped in their
cloaks, patrolled the camp, tramping slowly up and
down, pausing every now and then, with grounded
carbines, opposite the tent fires. The first watch at
the end of two hours turned in and were relieved by
Towards the small hours of the morning we put
into execution a plan that had been arranged by
Mr. Bennet. Half-a-dozen of us, all fourth-form boys,
rose, and stealing out at the back of the tent so as to
be unobserved by the guard then on duty, made a
slight circuit through the bush, and crept up again
to the camp.
The guard did hot see us till we were close upon'
them. We wished to see whether they were all wide-
awake, or whether we should catch them dozing, and
effect an entrance into the camp unchallenged.
But they were on the alert and standing to their
arms directly they perceived us. Immediately they
gave the word-
'Who goes there?'
We returned the password, 'Advance Australia,'
and were allowed to enter and regain our tent.
THE CAMP-OUT. 95
They were not caught napping that time at any
rate. At about six o'clock in the morning we re-
peated the experiment upon a new watch, but with
the same results. Evidently our fellows had a very
creditable sense of the responsibility of their duties.
Shortly before seven o'clock the last watch went off
duty, and at seven we all rose. We had slept wrapt
up in heavy cloaks, or 'possum rugs, our beds being
composed of dry ferns and brushwood, which were to
be gathered in plenty in the bush close by. The
first thing we did after getting up was, one and all,
to bathe; and by the time we had returned from our
swim we were ready enough for breakfast.
Tea and coffee, excellent cold corned beef, and as
much bread and butter, or, if we preferred it, ship's
biscuit-that was what our breakfast consisted of,
and a very good one it was too. No luxuries, but
what there was all the best of its kind.
During the forenoon of that day we first mustered
for a short drill and a little manoeuvring. The rest
of the morning was free. Some strolled along the
rocks and fished, some played cricket, some wandered
about the bush and the beach collecting shells, cuttle-
fish, sea-weeds, and star-fish, or hunted crabs among
the rocks, endeavouring to spear them as they scut-
tled off inder ledges and into clefts and crannies.
96 WILLOUGHBY SCHOOL.
Every one did what pleased him best, and there was
plenty to occupy and amuse all. As long as we gave
our promise to get into no mischief, and to break
none of the rules laid down by him before we started,
Mr. Cubitt was willing and glad that we should enjoy,
during our short outing, all liberty and freedom from
restraint. Of course both he and Mr. Bennet kept an
eye upon us, but that was only an advisable precaution.:
After dinner that day we had some fencing and
single-stick matches. Mr. Cubitt had provided a
number of prizes,-coloured flannel cricket-caps,
cricket-belts, some first-rate penknives, and the like.
The first prize was a very jolly one, a pretty silver
scarf-pin, and the second a handsome copy of
Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome.
Monsieur Flavelle again came out strong in the
fencing business. He took all the fourth form in
turn and gave us each a short lesson with the foils.
He threw himself into the sport with the greatest
energy, taking off his coat and waistcoat, and slipping
one of his braces over his shoulder so that his sword-
arm might move the more freely.
It was really wonderful, and not a little fun to see
Monsieur-how active and nimble he was for his
years. He declared that he could hardly remember
when he had last handled a foil, but he certainly had