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be of any further use. Here comes young Brooke; he goes in as straight as you, but keeps his head, and backs and bends, holding himself still behind the ball, and driving it furiously when he gets a chance. Take a leaf out of his book, you young chargers. Ilere come Speedicut, and Flashman the school-house bully, with shouts and great action. Won't you two come up to young Brooke, after locking up, by the school-house fire, with “Old fellow, was n't that just a splendid scrummage by the three trees !” But he knows you, and so do we. You don't really want to drive that ball through that scrummage, chancing all hurt for the glory of the school-house — but to make us think that's what you want — a vastly different thing; and fellows of your kidney will never go through more than the skirts of a scrummage, where it's all push and no kicking. We respect boys who keep out of it, and don't sham going in; but you — we had rather not say what we think of you.
Then the boys who are bending and watching on the outside, mark them — they are most useful players, the dodgers; who seize on the ball the moment it rolls out from among the chargers, and away with it across to the opposite goal; they seldom go into the scrummage, but must have more coolness than the chargers : as endless as are boys' characters, so are their ways of facing or not facing a scrummage at football.
Three quarters of an hour are gone; first winds are failing, and weight and numbers beginning to tell. Yard by yard the school-house have been driven back, contesting every inch of ground. The bull-dogs are the color of mother earth from shoulder to ankle, except young Brooke, who has a marvellous knack of keeping his legs. The school-house are being penned in their turn, and now the ball is behind their goal, under the doctor's wall. The doctor and some of his family are there, looking on, and seem as anxious as any boy for the success of the school-house. We get a minute's breathing time before old Brooke kicks out, and he gives the word to play strongly for touch, by the three trees. Away goes the ball, and the bull-dogs after it, and in another minute there is a shout of "In touch," -- Our ball.” Now's your time, old Brooke, while your men are still fresh. He stands with the ball in his hand, while the two sides form in deep lines opposite one another: he must strike it straight out between them. The lines are thickest close to him, but young Brooke and two or three of his men are shifting up further, where the opposite line is weak. Old Brooke strikes it out straight and strong, and it falls opposite his brother. Hurra! that rush has taken it right through the schooine, and away past the three trees, far into their quarters, and young Brooke and the bull-dogs are close upon it. The school leaders rush back shouting “Look out in goal,” and strain every nerve to catch him, but they are after the fleetest foot in Rugby. There they go straight for the school goal-posts, quarters scattering before them. One after another the bull-dogs go down, but young Brooke holds on. “He is down." No! a long stagger, and the danger is past; that was the shock of Crew, the most dangerous of dodgers. And now he is close to the school goal, the ball not three yards before him. There is a hurried rush of the school fags to the spot, but no one throws himself on the ball, the only chance, and young Brooke has touched it right under the school goal-posts.
The school leaders come up furious, and administer toco to the wretched fags nearest at hand: they may well be angry, for it is all Lombard-street to a china orange that the school-house kick a goal with the ball touched in such a good place. Old Brooke of course will kick it out, but who shall catch and place it ? Call Crab Jones. Here he comes, sauntering along with a straw in his mouth, the queerest, coolest fish in Rugby : if he were tumbled into the moon this minute, he would just pick himself up without taking his hands out of his pockets or turning a hair. But it is a moment when the boldest charger's heart beats quick. Old Brooke stands with the ball under his arm motioning the school back; he will not kick-out till they are all in a goal, behind the posts; they are all edging forward, inch by inch, to get nearer for the rush at Crab Jones, who stands there in front of old Brooke to catch the ball. If they can reach and destroy him before he catches, the danger is over; and with one and the same rush they will carry it right away to the school-house goal. Fond hope ! it is kicked out and caright beautifully. Crab strikes his heel into the ground, to mark the spot where the ball was caught, beyond which the school line may not advance; but there they stand, five deep, ready to rush the moment the ball touches the ground. Take plenty of room! don't give the rush a chance of reaching you ! place it true and steady! Trust Crab Jones - he has made a small hole with his heel for the ball to lie on, by which he is resting on one knee, with his eye on old Brooke. “ Now!” Crab places the ball at the word, old Brooke kicks, and it rises slowly and truly as the school rush forward.
VOL. XIL - 9
Then a moment's pause, while both sides look up at the spinning ball. There it flies, straight between the two posts, some five feet above the cross-bar, an unquestioned goal; and a shout of real, genuine joy rings out from the school-house players-up, and a faint echo of it comes over the close from the goal-keepers under the doctor's wall. A goal in the first hour — such a thing has n't been done in the school-house match this five years.
“Over !” is the cry: the two sides change goals, and the school-house goal-keepers come threading their way across through the masses of the school; the most openly triumphant of them, among whom is Tom, a school-house boy of two hours' standing, getting their ears boxed in the transit. Tom indeed is excited beyond measure, and it is all the sixth-form boy, kindest and safest of goal-keepers, has been able to do, to keep him from rushing out whenever the ball has been near their goal. So he holds him by his side, and instructs him in the science of touching.
At this moment Griffith, the itinerant vender of oranges from Hill Morton, enters the close with his heavy baskets; there is a rush of small boys upon the little pale-faced man, the two sides mingling together, subdued by the great Goddess Thirst, like the English and French by the streams in the Pyrenees. The leaders are past oranges and apples, but some of them visit their coats, and apply innocent looking ginger-beer bottles to their mouths. It is no ginger-beer though, I fear, and will do you no good. One short mad rush, and then a stitch in the side, and no more honest play; that's what comes of those bottles.
But now Griffith's baskets are empty, the ball is placed again midway, and the school are going to kick off. Their leaders have sent their lumber into goal, and rated the rest soundly, and one hundred and twenty picked players-up are there, bent on retrieving the game. They are to keep the ball in front of the school-house goal, and then to drive it in by sheer strength and weight. They mean heavy play and no mistake, and so old Brooke sees, and places Crab Jones in quarters just before the goal, with four or five picked players, who are to keep the ball away to the sides, where a try at goal, if obtained, will be less dangerous than in front. He himself, and Warner and Hedge, who have saved themselves till now, will lead the charges.
“ Are you ready ?” “Yes." And away comes the ball kicked high in the air, to give the school time to rush on and catch it as it falls. And here they are among us. Meet them like Englishman, you school-house boys, and charge them home. Now is the time to show what mettle is in you — and there shall be a warm seat by the hall fire, and honor, and lots of bottled beer to-night for him who does his duty in the next half-hour. And they are well met. Again and again the cloud of their players-up gathers before our goal, and comes threatening on, and Warner or Hedge, with young Brooke and the relics of the bull-dogs, break through and carry the ball back; and old Brooke ranges the field like Job's war-horse, the thickest scrummage parts asunder before his rush, like the waves before a clipper's bows; his cheery voice rings over the field, and his eye is everywhere. And if these miss the ball, and it rolls dangerously in front of our goal, Crab Jones and his men have seized it and sent it away toward the sides with the unerring drop-kick. This is worth living for; the whole sum of school-boy existence gathered up into one straining, struggling half-hour, a half-hour worth a year of common life.
The quarter to five has struck, and the play slackens for a minute before goal; but there is Crew, the artful dodger, driving the ball in behind our goal, on the island side, where our quarters are weakest. Is there no one to meet him ? Yes! look at little East! the ball is just at equal distances between the two, and they rush together, the young man of seventeen and the boy of twelve, and kick it at the same moment. Crew passes on without a stagger; East is hurled forward by the shock, and plunges on his shoulders as if he would bury himself in the ground; but the ball rises straight into the air, and falls behind Crew's back, while the “bravos ” of the school-house attest the pluckiest charge of all that hard-fought day. Warner picks East up lame and half stunned, and he hobbles back into goal conscious of having played the man,
And now the last minutes are come, and the school gather for their last rush every boy of the hundred and twenty who has a run left in him. Reckless of the defence of their own goal, on they come across the level big-side ground, and ball well down among them, straight for our goal, like the column of the Old Guard up the slope at Waterloo. All former charges have been child's play to this. Warner and Hedge have met them, but still on they come. The bull-dogs rush in for the last time; they are hurled over or carried back, striving hand, foot, and eyelids. Old Brooke comes sweeping round the skirts of the play, and, turning short round, picks out the very heart of the
scrummage, and plunges in. It wavers for a moment - he has the ball! No, it has passed him, and his voice rings out clear over the advancing tide, "Look out in goal.” Crab Jones catches it for a moment; but before he can kick it, the rush is upon him and passes over him; and he picks himself up behind them with his straw in his mouth, a little dirtier, but as cool as ever.
The ball rolls slowly in behind the school-house goal, not three yards in front of a dozen of the biggest school players-up.
There stands the school-house præpostor, safest of goalkeepers, and Tom Brown by his side, who has learned his trade by this time. Now is your time, Tom. The blood of all the Browns is up, and the two rush in together, and throw themselves on the ball, under the very feet of the advancing column; the præpostor on his hands and knees arching his back, and Tom all along on his face. Over them topple the leaders of the rush, shooting over the back of the præpostor, but falling flat on Tom, and knocking all the wind out of his small carcass. “Our ball,” says the præpostor, rising with his prize; “but get up there, there's a little fellow under you.” They are hauled and roll off him, and Tom is discovered a motionless body.
Old Brooke picks him up. “Stand back, give him air," he says; and then feeling his limbs, adds, “No bones broken. How do you feel, young un?”
“ Hah-hah," gasps Tom as his wind comes back," pretty well, thank you — all right.”
“ Who is he?” says Brooke.
“Oh, it's Brown; he's a new boy ; I know him," says East, coming up
“Well, he is is a plucky youngster, and will make a player,” says Brooke.
And five o'clock strikes. “No side,” is called, and the first day of the school-house match is over.
THE FIRST BUMP.
(From “Tom Brown at Oxford.") 6 What's the time, Smith ?”
“ Half-past three, old fellow,” answered Diogenes, looking at his watch.
“ I never knew a day go so slowly,” said Tom “is n't it time to go down to the boats ?”