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you were to go into the quadrangle with that thing on, I - don't know what'd happen.” The very idea was quite beyond the young Master East, and he looked unutterable things.
Tom thought his cap a very knowing affair, but confessed that he had a hat in his hat box; which was accordingly at once extracted from the hind boot, and Tom equipped in his go-to-meeting roof, as his new friend called it. But this don't quite suit his fastidious taste in another minute, being too shiny; so, as they walk up the town, they dive into Nixon's the hatter's and Tom is arrayed, to his utter astonishment, and without paying for it, in a regulation cat-skin at seven-and-sixpence; Nixon undertaking to send the best hat up to the matron's room, school-house, in half an hour.
“You can send in a note for a tile on Monday, and make it all right, you know,” said Mentor; “ we're allowed two sevenand-sixers a half, besides what we bring from home.”
Tom by this time began to be conscious of his new social position and dignities, and to luxuriate in the realized ambition of being a public-school boy at last, with a vested right of spoiling two seven-and-sixers in half a year.
“ You see,” said his friend, as they strolled up toward the school gates, in explanation of his conduct — “a great deal depends on how a fellow cuts up at first. If he's got nothing odd about him, and answers straightforward, and holds his head up, he gets on. Now, you'll do very well as to rig, all but that cap. You see I'm doing the handsome thing by you, because my father knows yours; besides, I want to please the old lady. She gave me half-a-sov. this half, and perhaps 'll double it next, if I keep in her good books.”
There's nothing for candor like a lower-school boy; and East was a genuine specimen - frank, hearty, and good-natured, well satisfied with himself and his position, and chock full of life and spirits, and all the Rugby prejudices and traditions which he had been able to get together, in the long course of one halfyear, during which he had been at the school-house.
And Tom, notwithstanding his bumptiousness, felt friends with him at once, and began sucking in all his ways and prejudices, as fast as he could understand them.
East was great in the character of cicerone ; he carried Tom through the great gates where were only two or three boys. These satisfied themselves with the stock questions — “ You fellow, what's your name? Where do you come from? How old are you? Where do you board ? and, What form are you in ?” — and so they passed on through the quadrangle and a small courtyard, upon which looked down a lot of little windows (belonging, as his guide informed him, to some of the school-house studies), into the matron's room, where East introduced Tom to that dignitary ; made him give up the key of his trunk that the matron might unpack his linen, and told the story of the hat and of his own presence of mind; upon the relation whereof the matron laughingly scolded him, for the coolest new boy in the house; and East, indignant at the accusation of newness, marched Tom off into the quadrangle, and began showing him the schools, and examining him as to his literary attainments; the result of which was a prophecy that they would be in the same form, and could do their lessons together.
“ And now come in and see my study ; we shall have just time before dinner; and afterward, before calling over, we'll do the close."
Tom followed his guide through the school-house hall, which opens into the quadrangle. It is a great room, thirty feet long and eighteen high, or thereabout, with two great tables running the whole length, and two large fireplaces at the side, with blaze ing fires in them, at one of which some dozen boys were standing or lounging, some of whom shouted to East to stop; but he shot through with his convoy, and landed him in the long dark passages, with a large fire at the end of each, upon which the studies opened. Into one of these, in the bottom passage, East bolted with our hero, slamming and bolting the door behind them, in case of pursuit from the hall, and Tom was for the first time in a Rugby boy's citadel.
He had n't been prepared for separate studies, and was not a little astonished and delighted with the palace in question.
It was n't very large, certainly, being about six feet long by four broad. It could n't be called light, as there were bars and a grating to the window; which little precautions were necessary in the studies on the ground floor looking out into the close, to prevent the exit of small boys after locking-up, and the entrance of contraband articles. But it was uncommonly comfortable to look at, Tom thought. The space under the window at the further end was occupied by a square table covered with a reasonably clean and whole red and blue check tablecloth ; a hard-seated sofa covered with red stuff occupied one side, running up to the end, and making a seat for one, or, by sitting close, for two, at the table; and a good stout wooden chair afforded a seat to another boy, so that three could sit and work together. The walls were wainscoted half-way up, the wainscot being covered with green baize, the remainder with a bright-patterned paper, on which hung three or four prints, of dogs' heads, Grimaldi winning the Aylesbury steeple-chase, Amy Robsart, the reigning Waverley beauty of the day, and Tom Crib in a posture of defence, which did no credit to the science of that hero, if truly represented. Over the door were a row of hat-pegs, and on each side book-cases with cupboards at the bottom; shelves and cupboards being filled indiscriminately with school-books, a cup or two, a mousetrap, and brass candlesticks, leathern straps, a fustian bag, and some curious-looking articles, which puzzled Tom not a little, until his friend explained that they were climbing irons, and showed their use. A cricket-bat and small fishing-rod stood up in one corner.
This was the residence of East and another boy in the same form, and had more interest for Tom than Windsor Castle, or any other residence in the British Isles. For was he not about to become the joint owner of a similar home, the first place which he could call his own? One's own! What a charm there is in the words! How long it takes boy and man to find out their worth! how fast most of us hold on to them! faster and more jealously the nearer we are to that general home into which we can take nothing, but must go naked as we came into the world. When shall we learn that he who multiplieth possessions multiplieth troubles, and that the one single use of things that we call our own is that they may be his who hath need of them?
“And shall I have a study like this too ?” said Tom.
“ Yes, of course, you'll be chummed with some fellow on Monday, and you can sit here till then.”
“ What nice places.”
“ They're well enough,” answered East patronizingly, “ only uncommon cold at nights sometimes. Gower - that's my chum -- and I make a fire with paper on the floor after supper generally, only that makes it so smoky."
“But there's a big fire out in the passage,” said Tom.
“ Precious little good we get out of that, though,” said East; "Jones the præpostor has the study at the fire end, and he has rigged up an iron rod and green baize curtain across the passage, which he draws at night, and sits there with his door open, so he gets all the fire, and hears if we come out of our studies after eight, or make a noise. However, he's taken to sitting in the fifth-form room lately, so we do get a bit of fire sometimes; only to keep a sharp look-out that he don't catch you behind his curtain when he comes down that's all.”
A quarter past one now struck, and the bell began tolling for dinner, so they went into the hall and took their places, Tom at the very bottom of the second table, next to the præpostor (who sat at the end to keep order there), and East a few paces higher. And now Tom for the first time saw his future schoolfellows in a body. In they came, some hot and ruddy from football or long walks, some pale and chilly from hard reading in their studies, some from loitering over the fire at the pastrycook's, dainty mortals, bringing with them pickles and sauce-bottles to help them with their dinners. And a great big-bearded man, whom Tom took for a master, began calling over the names, while the great joints were being rapidly carved on a third table in the corner by the old verger and the housekeeper. Tom's turn came last, and meanwhile he was all eyes, looking first with awe at the great man who sat close to him, and was helped first, and who read a hard-looking book all the time he was eating; and when he got up and walked off to the fire, at the small boys round him, some of whom were reading, and the rest talking in whispers to one another, or stealing one another's bread, or shooting pellets, or digging their forks through the table cloth. However, notwithstanding his curiosity, he managed to make a capital dinner by the time the big man called "Stand up!” and
As soon as dinner was over, and Tom had been questioned by such of his neighbors as were curious as to his birth, parentage, education, and other like matters, East, who evidently enjoyed his new dignity of patron and mentor, proposed having a look at the close, which Tom, athirst for knowledge, gladly assented to, and they went out through the quadrangle and past the big fives' court into the great playground.
“That's the chapel, you see,” said East," and there just behind it is the place for fights; you see it's most out of the way of the masters, who all live on the other side and don't come by here after first lesson or callings-over. That's when the fights come off. And all this part where we are is the little side-ground, right up to the trees, and on the other side of the trees is the big side-ground, where the matches are played. And there's the „sland in the furthest corner; you'll know that well enough next half, when there's island fagging. I say, it's horrid cold, lets have a run across," and away went East, Tom close behind him. East was evidently putting his best foot foremost, and Tom, who was mighty proud of his running, and not a little anxious to show his friend that although a new boy he was no milksop, laid himself down to the work in his very best style. Right across the close they went, each doing all he knew, and there was n't a yard between them when they pulled up at the island moat.
“I say," said East, as soon as he got his wind, looking with much increased respect at Tom,“ you ain't a bad scud, not by no means. Well, I'm as warm as a toast now."
“But why do you wear white trousers in November ?” said Tom. He had been struck by this peculiarity in the costume of almost all the school-house boys.
Why, bless us, don't you know ? No, I forgot. Why, to-day's the school-house match. Our house plays the whole of the school at football. And we all wear white trousers, to show 'em we don't care for hacks. You 're in luck to come to-day. You just will see a match; and Brooke's going to let me play in quarters. That's more than he 'll do for any other lower-school boy, except James, and he's fourteen."
“ Who's Brooke ?”
“Why that big fellow who called over at dinner, to be sure. He's cock of the school, and head of the school-house side, and the best kick and charger in Rugby.'
“Oh, but do show me where they play? And tell me about it. I love football so, and have played all my life. Won't Brooke let me play ?”
“ Not he,” said East, with some indignation ; “why, you don't know the rules -- you'll be a month learning them. And then it's no joke playing-up in a match, I can tell you. Quite another thing from your private-school games. Why, there's been two collar-bones broken this half, and a dozen fellows lamed. And last year a fellow had his leg broken."
Tom listened with the profoundest respect to this chapter of accidents, and followed East across the level ground till they came to a sort of gigantic gallows of two poles eighteen feet high, fixed upright in the ground some fourteen feet apart, with a cross bar running from one to the other at the height of ten feet or thereabouts.