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“Not by two hours and more, old fellow. Can't you take a book, or something, to keep you quiet? You won't be fit for anything by six o'clock, if you go on worrying like this.” And so Diogenes turned himself to his flute, and blew away, to all appearances as composedly as if it had been the first week of term, though, if the truth must be told, it was all he could do not to get up and wander about in a feverish and distracted state, for Tom's restlessness infected him.
Diogenes' whole heart was in the college boat; and so, though he had pulled dozens of races in his time, he was almost as nervous as a freshman on this the first day of the races. Tom, all unconscious of the secret discomposure of the other, threw himself into a chair, and looked at him with wonder and envy. The flute went“ toot, toot, toot," till he could stand it no longer; so he got up and went to the window, and leaning out, looked up and down the street for some minutes in a purposeless sort of fashion, staring hard at everybody and everything, but unconscious all the time that he was doing so. He would not have been able, in fact, to answer Diogenes a word, had that worthy inquired of him what he had seen, when he presently drew in his head and returned to his fidgety ramblings about the room.
“ How hot the sun is ! but there's a stiff breeze from the southeast. I hope it will go down before the evening; don't
“ Yes; this wind will make it very rough below the Gut. Mind you feather high now at starting.”
“I hope to goodness I sha'n't catch a crab," said Tom. “ Don't think about it, old fellow ; that 's your best plan.”
“ But I can't think of anything else,” said Tom. “ What the deuce is the good of telling a fellow not to think about it?”
Diogenes, apparently, had nothing particular to reply, for he put his flute to his mouth again; and at the sound of the “ toot, toot," Tom caught up his gown and fled away into the quadrangle.
The crew had had their early dinner of steaks and chops, stale bread, and a glass and a half of old beer apiece, at two o'clock, in the captain's rooms. The current theory of training at that time was as much meat as you can eat, the more underdone the better, and the smallest amount of drink upon which you could manage to live. Two pints in the twenty-four hours was all that most boats' crews that pretended to train at all were allowed, and for the last fortnight it had been the
nominal allowance of the St. Ambrose crew. The discomfort of such a diet in the hot summer months, when you were at the same time taking regular and violent exercise, was something very serious. Outraged human nature rebelled against it; and, I take it, though they did not admit it in public, there were very few men who did not rush to their water-bottles for relief, more or less often, according to the development of their bumps of conscientiousness and obstinancy. To keep to the diet at all strictly involved a very respectable amount of physical endurrance. I am thankful to hear that our successors have found out the unwisdom of this, as of other old superstitions, and that in order to get a man into training for a boat-race nowadays, it is not thought of the first importance to keep him in a constant state of consuming thirst, and the restlessness of body and sharpness of temper which thirst generally induces.
Tom appreciated the honor of being in the boat in his first year so keenly, that he had almost managed to keep to his training allowance, and consequently, now that the eventful day had arrived, was in a most uncomfortable state of body and disagreeable frame of mind.
He fled away from Diogenes' flute, but found no rest. He tried Drysdale. That hero was lying on his back on his sofa playing with Jack, and only increased Tom's thirst and soured his temper by the viciousness of his remarks on boating, and every thing and person connected therewith; above all, on Miller, who had just come up, had steered them the day before, and pronounced the crew generally, and Drysdale in particular, “ not half trained."
Blake's oak was sported, as usual. Tom looked in at the captain's door, but found him hard at work reading, and so carried himself off; and, after a vain hunt after others of the crew, and even trying to sit down and read, first a novel, then a play of Shakespeare, with no success whatever, wandered away out of the college, and found himself in five minutes, by a natural and irresistible attraction, on the University barge.
There were half a dozen men or so reading the papers, and a group or so discussing the coming races. Among other things, the chances of St. Ambrose's making a bump the first night were weighed. Every one joined in praising the stroke, but there were great doubts whether the crew could live up to it. Tom carried himself on to the top of the barge to get out of hearing, for listening made his heart beat and his throat dryer than
He stood on the top and looked right away down to the Gut, the strong wind blowing his gown about. Not even a pair oar was to be seen; the great event of the evening made the river a solitude at this time of day. Only one or two skiffs were coming home, impelled by reading men who took their constitutionals on the water, and were coming in to be in time for afternoon chapel. The fastest and best of these soon came near enough for Tom to recognize Hardy's stroke ; so he left the barge and went down to meet the servitor at his landing, and accompanied him to the St. Ambrose dressing-room.
“ Well, how do you feel for the race to-night?” said Hardy, as he dried his neck and face, which he had been sluicing with cold water, looking as hard and bright as a racer on Derby day.
“Oh, wretched ! I'm afraid I shall break down," said Tom, and poured out some of his doubts and miseries. Hardy soon comforted him greatly ; and by the time they were half across Christ Church meadow he was quite in heart again, for he knew how well Hardy understood rowing, and what a sound judge he was, and it was therefore cheering to hear that he thought they were certainly the second best, if not the best, boat on the river, and that they would be sure to make some bumps unless they had accidents.
“ But that's just what I fear so," said Tom. “I'm afraid I shall make some awful blunder.”
“ Not you!” said Hardy ; “ only remember: don't you fancy you can pull the boat by yourself, and go trying to do it. That's where young oars fail. If you keep thorough good time you 'll be pretty sure to be doing your share of work. Time is everything, almost."
" I'll be sure to think of that,” said Tom. And they entered St. Ambrose just as the chapel bell was going down, and he went to chapel and then to hall, sitting by and talking for companionship while the rest dined.
And so at last the time slipped away, and the captain and Miller mustered them at the gates and walked off to the boats. A dozen other crews were making their way in the same direction, and half the undergraduates of Oxford streamed along with them. The banks of the river were crowded ; and the punts plied rapidly backward and forward, carrying loads of men over to the Berkshire side. The University barge, and all the other barges, were decked with flags, and the band was playing lively airs as the St. Ambrose crew reached the scene of
No time was lost in the dressing-room, and in two minutes they were all standing in flannel trousers and silk jerseys at the landing-place.
“ You had better keep your jackets on," said the captain; “ we sha'n't be off yet."
“ There goes Brazen-nose.”
“The black and yellow seems to slip along so fast. They've no end of good colors. I wish our new boat was black.”
Hang her colors, if she's only stiff in the back, and don't dip."
Well, she did n't dip yesterday. At least, the men on the bank said so.”
“ There go Balliol, and Oriel, and University." “ By Jove, we shall be late! Where's Miller ?” “In the shed getting the boat ont. Look, here's Exeter."
The talk of the crew was silenced for the moment as every man looked eagerly at the Exeter boat. The captain nodded to Jervis with a grim smile as they paddled gently by.
Then the talk began again.
“ Not so badly. They're very strong in the middle of the boat.”
“ Not a bit of it; it's all lumber."
“ You'll see. They ’re better trained than we are. They look as fine as stars."
“So they ought. They've pulled seven miles to our fire for the last month, I'm sure.”
“ Then we sha'n't bump them.” “Why not?”
“ Don't you know that the value of products consists in the quantity of labor which goes to produce them ? Product, pace over course from Iffley up. Labor expended, Exeter, 7; St. Ambrose 5. You see it is not in the nature of things that we should bump them. - Q. E. D.”
" What moonshine! as if ten miles behind their stroke are worth two behind Jervis ?”
“My dear fellow, it is n't my moonshine ; you must settle the matter with the philosophers. I only apply a universal law to a particular case.”
Tom, unconscious of the pearls of economic lore which were being poured out for the benefit of the crew, was watching the Exeter eight as it glided away toward the Cherwell. He thought they seemed to keep horribly good time.
“ Hollo, Drysdale! look; there's Jack going across in one of the punts.”
“Of course he is. You don't suppose he would n't go down to see the race.”
“Why won't Miller let us start. Almost all the boats are
“ There's plenty of time. We may just as well be up here as dawdling about the bank at IMey."
“ We sha'n't go down till the last; Miller never lets us get out down below."
“ Well, come; here's the boat, at last.”
The new boat now emerged from its shed, guided steadily to where they were standing by Miller and a waterman. Then the coxswain got out and called for bow, who stepped forward.
“ Mind how you step, now; there are no bottom boards, remember," said Miller,
“Shall I take my jacket?”
“Yes; you had better all go down in jackets in this wind. I've sent a man down to bring them back. Now, two."
“Aye, aye!” said Drysdale, stepping forward. Then came Tom's turn, and soon the boat was manned.
“ Now,” said Miller, taking his place,“ are all your stretchers right?”
" I should like a little more grease for my rowlocks."
“I'm taking some down; we'll put it on down below. Are you all right?”
The St. Ambrose boat was almost the last, so there were no punts in the way, or other obstructions; and they swung steadily down past the University barge, the top of which was already covered with spectators. Every man in the boat felt as if the eyes of Europe were on him, and pulled in his very best form. Small groups of gownsmen were scattered along the bank of Christ Church meadow, chiefly dons, who were really interested in the races, but, at that time of day, seldom liked to display enthusiasm enough to cross the water and go down to the startingplace. These sombre groups were lightened up here and there by the dresses of a few ladies, who were walking up and down, and watching the boats. At the mouth of the Cherwell were