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   Chapter 7 CAREW-BROWN

An Australian Lassie By Lilian Turner Characters: 5799

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


It must be confessed that John Brown-or to be polite and up-to-date-John Carew-Brown surveyed the pupils of Wygate School with a fighting eye, which is to say, he considered them carefully with regarded to their pugilistic abilities, and he decided very soon that he "could make them all sing small."

Even upon that first day when he, a new boy, had been standing in view of the whole school, his mind had chiefly been occupied in running over the boys' obvious fighting qualities-tall, short, fat, thin, all sorts and conditions of them were there.

The girls he had passed by with but slight notice; to him they were absolutely valueless and uninteresting. Betty Bruce had certainly caught his attention by her public punishment, and he had been taken aback by that sharp little pinch of hers. Hitherto he had had nothing to do with girls but he supposed immediately that that was their manner of fighting, and he did not admire it.

Not many days later an opportunity occurred for him to defend his newly adopted name. Truth to tell, he had been longing for such an occasion from the day on which old Captain Carew had asked him to fight for his name too.

He was in the playground, round by the school house, just where the babies' end of the school room joined the cloak room, and school was over for the day. Having a piece of chalk in one hand, and nothing particular to do, he occupied a few minutes by writing upon the weather boards of the cloak-room-"J. C. Brown, J. C. Brown, John C. Brown, John C. Brown," and the hinting C. raised a small dispute in a circle of onlooking boys and girls.

It was Peter Bailey who said, "John Clara Brown," and it was silly little Jack Smith who said "John Codfish Brown."

A burst of laughter followed, and Peter Bailey and Jack Smith chased each other down the playground, and in and out among the sapling clump away at the end of it, where some shabby scrub and three gum trees grew.

When they came back, John Brown was still silently writing apparently deaf to all the surmising going on around him.

Nellie Underwood said it was-"Crabby John Brown," and Arthur Smedley, the school bully, said-"John Brown the clown."

Whereupon Brown sought out a clean weather-board a shade or so above his head and wrote in bold letters.

"John Carew-Brown, Dene Hall, Willoughby," which made Bailey say-

"Hullo, he's got hold of Bruce's grandfather."

Cyril, who was one of the little circle of jesters, grew pink to the tips of his pretty pink ears, but feeling the majority and the bully were against Brown, ventured to say-

"He's only running you!"

Nellie Underwood pushed herself into a prominent position in the group and cried-

"I seen him coming out of Dene Hall gates, and old Mr. Carew was with him. So there!"

John Brown chose another weather-board and the group closed round him to read-

"John Carew-Brown, onl

y grandson of Captain Carew, of Dene Hall, Willoughby, Sydney, N.S. Wales, Australia, Southern Hemisphere," which certainly looked imposing and had the effect of silencing every one for almost half a minute.

Then the bully's eyes glared into Cyril's pretty blue ones, and he said angrily-

"You said you were the only grandson."

Cyril did not speak.

"You said," repeated the bully, "you said the Captain was going to adopt you, and give you his collection of guinea pigs."

Cyril hung his crimson face and kicked the ground with the toe of his boot.

John Brown chose another weather-board and wrote-

"Captain Carew has no guinea pigs," which sent most of the blood away from Cyril's face. The bully was eyeing him angrily, and even went as far as doubling up one fist.

"You said he was going to give you five shillings a week pocket-money, and let you buy my white mice," he muttered, and Cyril found himself face to face with the occasion, and with no clever intervening Betty to throw the right word into the right place, and so save his skin and his honour.

"So he is," he said, moving away from Brown as far as he dared-"and so I am the only grandson." He looked over his shoulder and beheld Brown's back, whereupon he felt if Brown could not see he could not hear. "He's only the gardener's boy," he said; "ask"-his mind made a swift excursion for an authority-"ask my grandfather," he said, "any of you who like, ask my grandfather."

Brown and his chalk advanced to Cyril.

"Who told you I was the gardener's boy?" he asked. Cyril looked from foe to foe, and the wild thought of denying he had said such words entered his mind, only to be followed by a swift remembrance of various daring deeds of the bully's.

So he went over recklessly to Arthur Smedley's side.

"My grandfather!" he said.

"Are you going to be adopted?" asked the bully.

"Yes," said Cyril in desperation.

"Are you going to have five shillings a week?" demanded the bully.

"No-I'm going to have ten," roared Cyril.

A window belonging to Mr. Sharman's private house, which adjoined the school, flew open, and John Brown's name was sharply called. It entered into Arthur Smedley's mind to see what writing remained upon the wall, and he went across to the cloak-room for that purpose.

Whereupon Cyril looked to the right of him, to the left of him, to the back of him, and beheld neither friend nor foe in his vicinity; and he heaved a sigh of great satisfaction, ran to the fence, squeezed himself through a hole in it, and was upon the road towards home in a trice.

But before he had gone more than a hundred yards he heard quick footsteps behind him, and looking over his shoulder he saw John C. Brown. Then did a sickening sense of terror sweep over him, and his heart leapt into his mouth, for had he not said John Carew-Brown was "only the gardener's boy"?

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