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sir, slow place off the main road, you see—only three coaches a day, and one of 'em a two-oss wan, more like a hearse nor a coach-Regulator—comes from Oxford. Young genl'm'n at school calls her Pig and Whistle, and goes up to college by her (six miles an hour) when they goes to enter. Belong to school, sir?”
“Yes,” says Tom, not unwilling for a moment that the guard should think him an old boy. But then, having some qualms as to the truth of the assertion, and seeing that if he were to assume the character of an old boy he couldn't go on asking the questions he wanted, added“That is to say, I'm on my way there. I'm a new boy."
The guard looked as if he knew this quite as well as Tom. “You're werry late, sir,” says the guard; “only six weeks to-day to the end of the half." Tom assented. “We takes up fine loads this day six weeks, and Monday and Tuesday arter. Hopes we shall have the pleasure of carrying you back.'
Tom said he hoped they would; but he thought within himself that his fate would be the Pig and Whistle.
“It pays uncommon cert’nly," continues the guard. “Werry free with their cash is the young genl’m’n. But, Lor' bless you, we gets into such rows all ’long the road, what wi' their pea-shooters, and long whips, and hollering, and upsetting every one as comes by, I'd a sight sooner carry one or two on 'em, sir, as I may be a-carryin' of you now, than a coach-load.” .... And the guard shook his head slowly, and got up and blew a clear, brisk toot-toot. ....
The guard had just finished an account of a desperate fight which had happened at one of the fairs between the drovers and the farmers with their whips, and the boys with cricket-bats and wickets, which arose out of a playful but objectionable practice of the boys going round to the public-houses and taking the linch-pins out of the wheels of the gigs, and was moralizing upon the way in which the Doctor, “a terrible stern man he's heard tell," had come down upon several of the performers, “sending three on 'em off next morning in a poshay with a parish constable,” when they turned a corner and neared the milestone, the third from Rugby. By the stone two boys stood, their jackets buttoned tight, waiting for the coach.
“Look here, sir,” says the guard, after giving a sharp toot-toot; "there's two on 'em; out-and-out runners they be. They comes out about twice or three times a week, and spurts a mile alongside of us. It does one good to see them run."
And as they came up, sure enough, away went two boys along the footpath, keeping up with the horsesthe first a light, clean-made fellow going on springs; the other stout and round shouldered, laboring in his pace, but going as dogged as a bull-terrier.
Old Blow-Hard looked on admiringly. “See how beautiful that there un holds hisself together, and goes from his hips, sir,” said he; "he's a 'mazin' fine runner. Now many coachmen as drives a first-rate team'd put it on, and try and pass 'em. But Bob, sir, bless you,
he's tender-hearted; he'd sooner pull in a bit if he see'd ’em a-gettin' beat. I do b’lieve, too, as that there un'd sooner break his heart than let us go by him afore next milestone.
At the second milestone the boys pulled up short, and waved their hats to the guard, who had his watch out and shouted “4.56," thereby indicating that the mile had been done in four seconds under the five minutes. They passed several more parties of boys, all of them objects of the deepest interest to Tom, and came in sight of the town at ten minutes before twelve. Tom fetched a long breath, and thought he had never spent a pleasanter day. Before he went to bed he had quite settled that it must be the greatest day he should ever spend, and didn't alter his opinion for many a long year–if ne has yet.
-From “Tom Brown at Rugby."
Leicester (lěs'ter): a town in the center of England.
: general servant at an inn. Drag: a heavy carriage.
Questions for Study
1. What do you think of the advice Tom's father gave him ? Why do you think he was right in not saying all that he had planned?
2. If Tom were in your school and followed the advice he had, what are some of the things he would do? What are some that he would not do?
3. What about Tom in these pages makes you think that he will make a fine fellow at school?
4. Tell what differences between America and England you see in this sketch. Which of these differences do you like?
5. What glimpses of Rugby made it seem attractive?
6. If you have enjoyed the book from which this sketch was taken, tell the class about several interesting incidents in it, the famous fight that Tom had, for instance.
There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night
Ten to make and the match to win-
An hour to play and the last man in.
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame, But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”
The sand of the desert is sodden red
Red with the wreck of a square that brokeThe gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke. The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honor a name, But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”
This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set, Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget. This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame, And falling fling to the host behind“Play up! play up! and play the game!”