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   Chapter 6 HOW DRYSDALE AND BLAKE WENT FISHING

Tom Brown at Oxford By Thomas Hughes Characters: 32052

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:05


"Drysdale, what's a servitor?"

"How the deuce should I know?"

This short and pithy dialogue took place in Drysdale's rooms one evening soon after the conversation recorded in the last chapter. He and Tom were sitting alone there, for a wonder, and so the latter seized the occasion to propound this question, which he had had on his mind for some time. He was scarcely satisfied with the above rejoinder, but while he was thinking how to come at the subject by another road, Drysdale opened a morocco fly-book, and poured its contents on the table, which was already covered with flies of all sorts and patterns, hanks of gut, delicate made-up casts, reels, minnows, and tackle enough to kill all the fish in the four neighboring counties. Tom began turning them over and scrutinizing the dressings of the flies.

"It has been so mild, the fish must be in season don't you think? Besides, if they're not, it's a jolly drive to Fairford at any rate. You've never been behind my team Brown. You'd better come, now, to-morrow."

"I can't cut my two lectures."

"Bother your lectures! Put on an aeger, then."

"No! that doesn't suit my book, you know."

"I can't see why you should be so cursedly particular. Well, if you won't, you won't; I know that well enough. But what cast shall you fish with to-morrow?"

"How many flies do you use?"

"Sometimes two, sometimes three."

"Two's enough, I think; all depends on the weather; but, if it's at all like today, you can't do better, I should think, than the old March brown and a palmer to begin with. Then, for change, this hare's ear, and an alder fly, perhaps; or,-let me see," and he began searching the glittering heap to select a color to go with the dull hare's ear.

"Isn't it early for the alder?" said Drysdale.

"Rather, perhaps; but they can't resist it."

"These bang-tailed little sinners any good?" said Drysdale, throwing some cock-a-bondies across the table.

"Yes; I never like to be without them, and a governor or two. Here, this is a well-tied lot," said Tom, picking out half a-dozen. "You never know when you may not kill with either of them. But I don't know the Fairford water; so my opinion isn't worth much."

Tom soon returned to the old topic.

"But now, Drysdale, you must know what a servitor is."

"Why should I? Do you mean one of our college servitors?"

"Yes?"

"Oh, something in the upper-servant line. I should put him above the porter, and below the cook, and butler. He does the don's dirty work, and gets their broken victuals, and I believe he pays no college fees."

Tom rather drew into himself at this insolent and offhand definition. He was astonished and hurt at the tone of his friend. However, presently, he resolved to go through with it, and began again.

"But servitors are gentlemen, I suppose?"

"A good deal of the cock-tail about them, I should think. But I have not the honor of any acquaintance amongst them."

"At any rate, they are undergraduates, are not they?"

"Yes."

"And may take degrees, just like you or me?"

"They may have all the degrees to themselves, for anything I care. I wish they would let one pay a servitor for passing little-go for one. It would be deuced comfortable. I wonder it don't strike the dons, now; they might get clever beggars for servitors, and farm them, and so make loads of tin."

"But, Drysdale, seriously, why should you talk like that? If they can take all the degrees we can, and are, in fact, just what we are, undergraduates, I can't see why they're not as likely to be gentlemen as we. It can surely make no difference, their being poor men?"

"It must make them devilish uncomfortable," said the incorrigible payer of double fees, getting up to light his cigar.

"The name ought to carry respect here, at any rate. The Black Prince was an Oxford man, and he thought the noblest motto he could take was, 'Ich dien,' I serve."

"If he were here now, he would change it for 'Je paye.'"

"I often wish you would tell me what you really and truly think,

Drysdale."

"My dear fellow I am telling you what I do really think. Whatever the Black Prince might be pleased to observe if he were here, I stick to my motto. I tell you the thing to be able to do here at Oxford is-to pay."

"I don't believe it."

"I knew you wouldn't."

"I don't believe you do either."

"I do, though. But what makes you so curious about servitors?"

"Why, I made friends with Hardy, one of our servitors. He is such a fine fellow!"

I am sorry to relate that it cost Tom an effort to say this to

Drysdale, but he despised himself that it was so.

"You should have told me so, before you began to pump me," said Drysdale. "However, I partly suspected something of the sort. You've a good bit of a Quixote in you. But really, Brown," he added, seeing Tom redden and look angry, "I'm sorry if what I said pained you. I daresay this friend of yours is a gentleman, and all you say."

"He is more of a gentleman by a long way than most of the-"

"Gentlemen commoners, you were going to say. Don't crane at such a small fence on my account. I will put it in another way for you. He can't be a greater snob than many of them."

"Well, but why do you live with them so much, then?"

"Why? because they happen to do the things I like doing, and live up here as I like to live. I like hunting and driving, and drawing badgers, and playing cards, and good wine and cigars. They hunt and drive, and keep dogs and good cellars, and will play unlimited loo or Van John as long as I please."

"But I know you get very sick of all that often, for I've heard you say as much half-a-dozen times in the little time I've been here."

"Why, you don't want to deny me the Briton's privilege of grumbling, do you?" said Drysdale, as he flung his legs up on the sofa, crossing one over the other as he lounged on his back-his favorite attitude; "but suppose I am getting tired of it all-which I am not-what do you purpose as a substitute?"

"Take to boating. I know you could be in the first boat if you liked; I heard them say so at Smith's wine the other night."

"But what's to prevent my getting just as tired of that? Besides, it's such a grind. And then there's the bore of changing all one's habits."

"Yes, but it's such splendid hard work," said Tom, who was bent on making a convert of his friend.

"Just so; and that's just what I don't want; the 'books and work and healthful play' line don't suit my complaint. No, as my uncle says, 'a young fellow must sow his wild oats,' and Oxford seems a place especially set apart by Providence for that operation."

In all the wild range of accepted British maxims there is none, take it for all in all, more thoroughly abominable than this one, as to the sowing of wild oats. Look at it on what side you will, and you can make nothing but a devil's maxim of it. What a man-be he young, old, or middle-aged-sows, that, and nothing else shall he reap. The one only thing to do with wild oats, is to put them carefully into the hottest part of the fire, and get them burnt to dust, every seed of them. If you sow them no matter in what ground, up they will come, with long tough roots like couch grass, and luxuriant stalks and leaves, as sure as there is a sun in heaven-a crop which it turns one's heart cold to think of. The devil, too, whose special crop they are, will see that they thrive, and you, and nobody else, will have to reap them; and no common reaping will get them out of the soil, which must be dug down deep again and again. Well for you if with all your care you can make the ground sweet again by your dying day. "Boys will be boys" is not much better, but that has a true side to it; but this encouragement to the sowing of wild oats, is simply devilish, for it means that a young man is to give way to the temptations and follow the lusts of his age. What are we to do with the wild oats of manhood and old age-with ambition, over-reaching the false weights, hardness, suspicion, avarice-if the wild oats of youth are to be sown, and not burnt? What possible distinction can be drawn between them? If we may sow the one, why not the other?

But to get back to our story. Tom went away from Drysdale's rooms that night (after they had sorted all the tackle, which was to accompany the fishing expedition, to their satisfaction) in a disturbed state of mind. He was very much annoyed at Drysdale's way of talking, because he was getting to like the man. He was surprised and angry at being driven more and more to the conclusion that the worship of the golden calf was verily and indeed rampant in Oxford-side by side, no doubt, with much that was manly and noble, but tainting more or less the whole life of the place. In fact, what annoyed him most was, the consciousness that he himself was becoming an idolater. For he couldn't help admitting that he felt much more comfortable when standing in the quadrangles or strolling in the High Street with Drysdale in his velvet cap, and silk gown, and faultless get-up, than when doing the same things with Hardy in his faded old gown, shabby loose overcoat, and well-worn trousers. He wouldn't have had Hardy suspect the fact for all he was worth, and hoped to get over the feeling soon; but there it was unmistakably. He wondered whether Hardy had ever felt anything of the kind himself.

Nevertheless, these thoughts did not hinder him from sleeping soundly, or from getting up an hour earlier than usual to go and see Drysdale start on his expedition.

Accordingly, he was in Drysdale's rooms next morning betimes, and assisted at the early breakfast which was going on there. Blake was the only other man present. He was going with Drysdale, and entrusted Tom with a message to Miller and the Captain, that he could not pull in the boat that day, but would pay a waterman to take his place. As soon as the gate opened, the three, accompanied by the faithful Jack, and followed by Drysdale's scout, bearing overcoats, a splendid water-proof apron lined with fur, and the rods and reels, sallied out of the college, and sought the livery stables, patronized by the men of St. Ambrose's. Here they found a dog cart all ready in the yard, with a strong Roman-nosed, vicious-looking, rat-tailed horse in the shafts, called Satan by Drysdale; the leader had been sent on to the first turnpike. The things were packed, and Jack, the bull-dog, hoisted into the interior in a few minutes; Drysdale produced a long straight horn, which he called his yard of tin (probably because it was made of brass), and after refreshing himself with a blast or two, handed it over to Blake, and then mounted the dog cart, and took the reins. Blake seated himself by his side; the help who was to accompany them got up behind, and Jack looked wisely out from his inside place over the back-board.

"Are we all right?" said Drysdale, catching his long tandem whip into a knowing double thong.

"All right, sir," said the head ostler, touching his cap.

"You'd better have come, my boy," said Drysdale to Tom, as they trotted off out of the yard; and Tom couldn't help envying them as he followed, and watched the dog cart lessening rapidly down the empty street, and heard the notes of the yard of tin, which Blake managed to make really musical, borne back on the soft western breeze. It was such a pleasant morning for fishing.

However, it was too late to repent, had he wished it; and so he got back to chapel, and destroyed the whole effect of the morning service on Miller's mind, by delivering Blake's message to that choleric coxswain as soon as chapel was over. Miller vowed for the twentieth time that Blake should be turned out of the boat, and went off to the Captain's rooms to torment him, and consult what was to be done.

The weather continued magnificent-a soft, dull grey March day, and a steady wind; and the thought of the lucky fishermen, and visions of creels filled with huge three-pounders, haunted Tom at lecture, and throughout the day.

At two o'clock he was down at the river. The college eight was to go down for the first time in the season to the reached below Nuneham, for a good training pull, and he had notice, to his great joy, that he was to be tried in the boat. But, great, no doubt, as was the glory, the price was a heavy one. This was the first time he had been subjected to the tender mercies of Miller, the coxswain, or had pulled behind the Captain; and it did not take long to convince him that it was a very different style of thing from anything he had as yet been accustomed to in the freshman's crew. The long steady sweep of the so-called paddle tried him almost as much as the breathless strain of the spurt.

Miller, too, was in one of his most relentless moods. He was angry at Blake's desertion, and seemed to think that Tom had something to do with it, though he simply delivered the message which had been entrusted to him; and so, though he distributed rebuke and objurgation to every man in the boat except the Captain, he seemed to our hero to take particular delight in working him. There he stood in the stern, the fiery little coxswain, leaning forward with a tiller-rope in each hand, and bending to every stroke, shouting his warnings, and rebukes, and monitions to Tom, till he drove him to his wits' end. By the time the boat came back to Hall's, his arms were so numb that he could hardly tell whether his oar was in or out of his hand; his legs were stiff and aching, and every muscle in his body felt as if it had been pulled out an inch or two. As he walked up to College, he felt as if his shoulders and legs had nothing to do with one another; in short, he had had a very hard day's work, and, after going fast asleep at a wine-party, and trying in vain to rouse himself by a stroll in the streets, fairly gave in about ten o'clock and went to bed without remembering to sport his oak.

For some hours he slept the sleep of the dead, but at last began to be conscious of voices, and the clicking of glasses, and laughter, and scraps of songs; and after turning himself once or twice in bed, to ascertain whether he was awake or no, rubbed his eyes, sat up, and became aware that something very entertaining to the parties concerned was going on in his sitting-room. After listening for a minute, he jumped up, threw on his shooting-coat, and appeared at the door of his own sitting-room, where he paused a moment to contemplate the scene which met his astonished vision. His fire recently replenished, was burning brightly in the grate, and his candles on the table on which stood his whisky bottle, and tumblers, and hot water. On his sofa, which had been wheeled round before the fire, reclined Drysdale, on his back, in his pet attitude, one leg crossed over the other, with a paper in his hand, from which he was singing, and in the arm-chair sat Blake, while Jack was coiled on the rug, turning himself every now and then in a sort of uneasy protest against his master's untimely hilarity. At first, Tom felt inclined to be angry, but the jolly shout of laughter with which Drysdale received him, as he stepped out into the light in night-shirt, shooting-coat, and dishevelled hair, appeased him at once.

"Why, Brown, you don't mean to say you have been in bed this last half-hour? We looked into the bed-room, and thought it was empty. Sit down, old fellow, and make yourself at home. Have a glass of grog; it's first-rate whisky."

"Well you're a couple of cool hands, I must say," said Tom. "How did you get in?"

"Through the door, like honest men," said Drysdale. "You're the only good fellow in college to-night. When we got back our fires were out, and we've been all round the college, and found all the oaks sported but yours. Never sport your oak, old boy; it's a bad habit. You don't know what time in the morning you may entertain angels unawares."

"You're a rum pair of angels, anyhow," said Tom, taki

ng his seat on the sofa. "But what o'clock is it?"

"Oh, about half-past one," said Drysdale. "We've had a series of catastrophes. Never got into college till near one. I thought we should never have waked that besotted little porter. However, here we are at last, you see, all right."

"So it seems," said Tom; "but how about the fishing?"

"Fishing! We've never thrown a fly all day," said Drysdale.

"He is so cursedly conceited about his knowledge of the country," struck in Blake. "What with that, and his awful twist, and his incurable habit of gossiping, and his blackguard dog, and his team of a devil and a young female-"

"Hold your scandalous tongue," shouted Drysdale. "To hear you talking of my twist, indeed; you ate four chops and a whole chicken to-day, at dinner, to your own cheek, you know."

"That's quite another thing," said Blake. "I like to see a fellow an honest grubber at breakfast and dinner; but you've always got your nose in the manger. That's how we all got wrong to-day, Brown. You saw what a breakfast he ate before starting; well, nothing would satisfy him but another at Whitney. There we fell in with a bird in mahogany tops, and, as usual, Drysdale began chumming with him. He knew all about the fishing of the next three counties. I daresay he did. My private belief is, that he is one of the Hungerford town council, who let the fishing there; at any rate, he swore it was no use our going to Fairford; the only place where fish would be in season was Hungerford. Of course Drysdale swallowed it all, and nothing would serve him but that we should turn off for Hungerford at once. Now, I did go once to Hungerford races, and I ventured to suggest that we should never get near the place. Not a bit of use; he knew every foot of the country. It was then about nine; he would guarantee that we should be there by twelve, at latest."

"So we should have been, but for accidents," struck in Drysdale.

"Well, at any rate, what we did was to drive into Farringdon, instead of Hungerford, both horses dead done up, at twelve o'clock, after missing our way about twenty times."

"Because you would put in your oar," said Drysdale.

"Then grub again," went on Blake, "and an hour to bait the horses. I knew we were as likely to get to Jericho as to Hungerford. However, he would start; but, luckily, about two miles from Farringdon, old Satan bowled quietly into a bank, broke a shaft, and deposited us then and there. He wasn't such a fool as to be going to Hungerford at that time of day; the first time in his wicked old life that I ever remember seeing him do anything that pleased me."

"Come, now," said Drysdale, "do you mean to say you ever sat behind a better wheeler, when he's in a decent temper?"

"Can't say," said Blake; "never sat behind him in a good temper, that I can remember."

"I'll trot him five miles out and home in a dog-cart, on any road out of Oxford, against any horse you can bring, for a fiver."

"Done!" said Blake.

"But were you upset?" said Tom. "How did you get into the bank?"

"Why, you see," said Drysdale, "Jessy,-that's the little blood-mare, my leader,-is very young, and as shy and skittish as the rest of her sex. We turned a corner sharp, and came right upon a gipsy encampment. Up she went into the air in a moment, and then turned right around and came head on at the cart. I gave her the double thong across her face to send her back again, and Satan, seizing the opportunity, rushed against the bank, dragging her with him, and snapping the shaft."

"And so ended our day's fishing," said Blake. "And next moment out jumps that brute Jack, and pitches into the gipsy's dog, who had come up very naturally to have a look at what was going on. Down jumps Drysdale to see that his beast gets fair play, leaving me and the help to look after the wreck, and keep his precious wheeler from kicking the cart into little pieces."

"Come, now," said Drysdale, "you must own we fell on our legs after all. Hadn't we a jolly afternoon? I'm thinking of turning tramp, Brown. We spent three or four hours in that camp, and Blake got spooney on a gipsy girl, and has written I don't know how many songs on them. Didn't you hear us singing them just now?"

"But how did you get the cart mended?" said Tom.

"Oh, the tinker patched up the shaft for us,-a cunning old beggar, the pere de famille of the encampment; up to every move on the board. He wanted to have a deal with me for Jessy. But 'pon my honor, we had a good time of it. There was the old tinker, mending the shaft, in his fur cap, with a black pipe, one inch long, sticking out of his mouth; and the old brown parchment of a mother, with her head in a red handkerchief, smoking a ditto pipe to the tinker's, who told our fortunes, and talked like a printed book. Then there was his wife, and the slip of a girl who bowled over Blake there, and half a dozen ragged brats; and a fellow on a tramp, not a gipsy-some runaway apprentice, I take it, but a jolly dog-with no luggage but an old fiddle on which he scraped away uncommonly well, and set Blake making rhymes as we sat in the tent. You never heard any of his songs. Here's one for each of us; we're going to get up the characters and sing them about the country;-now for a rehearsal; I'll be the tinker."

"No, you must take the servant girl," said Blake.

"Well, we'll toss up for characters when the time comes. You begin then; here's a song," and he handed one of the papers to Blake, who began singing-

"Squat on a green plot,

We scorn a bench or settle, oh.

Plying or trying,

A spice of every trade;

Razors we grind,

Ring a pig, or mend a kettle, oh;

Come, what d'ye lack?

Speak it out, my pretty maid.

"I'll set your scissors, while

My granny tells you plainly!

Who stole your barley meal,

Your butter or your heart;

Tell if your husband will

Be handsome or ungainly,

Ride in a coach and four, or

Rough it in a cart."

"Enter Silly Sally; that's I, for the present you see," said

Drysdale; and he began-

"Oh, dear! what can the matter be?

Dear, dear! what can the matter be?

Oh, dear! what can the matter be?

All in a pucker be I;

I'm growing uneasy about Billy Martin,

For love is a casualty desper't unsartin.

Law! yonder's the gipsy as tells folk's fortin;

I'm half in the mind for to try."

"Then you must be the old gipsy woman, Mother Patrico; here's your part Brown."

"But what's the tune?" said Tom.

"Oh, you can't miss it; go ahead;" and so Tom, who was dropping into the humour of the thing, droned out from the MS. handed to him-

"Chairs to mend,

Old chairs to mend,

Rush bottom'd cane bottom'd,

Chairs to mend.

Maid, approach,

If thou wouldst know

What the stars

May deign to show."

"Now, tinker," said Drysdale, nodding at Blake, who rattled on,-

"Chance feeds us, chance leads us;

Round the land in jollity;

Rag-dealing, nag-stealing,

Everywhere we roam;

Brass mending, ass vending,

Happier than the quality;

Swipes soaking, pipes smoking,

Ev'ry barn a home;

Tink, tink, a tink a tink,

Our life is full of fun, boys;

Clink tink, a tink a tink,

Our busy hammers ring;

Clink, tink, a tink a tink,

Our job will soon be done boys;

Then tune we merrily

The bladder and the string."

DRYSDALE, as Silly Sally.

"Oh, dear! what can the matter be?

Dear, dear! what can the matter be?

Oh, dear! what can the matter be?

There's such a look in her eye.

Oh, lawk! I declare I be all of a tremble;

My mind it misgives me about Sukey Wimble,

A splatter faced wench neither civil nor nimble

She'll bring Billy to beggary."

TOM, as Mother Patrico.

"Show your hand;

Come show your hand!

Would you know

What fate has planned?

Heaven forefend,

Ay, heav'n forefend!

What may these

Cross lines portend?"

BLAKE, as the Tinker.

"Owl, pheasant, all's pleasant,

Nothing comes amiss to us;

Hare, rabbit, snare, nab it;

Cock, or hen, or kite;

Tom cat, with strong fat,

A dainty supper is to us;

Hedge-hog and sedge-frog

To stew is our delight;

Bow, wow, with angry bark

My lady's dog assails us;

We sack him up, and clap

A stopper on his din.

Now pop him in the pot;

His store of meat avails us;

Wife cook him nice and hot,

And granny tans his skin."

DRYSDALE, as Silly Sally.

"Oh, lawk! what a calamity!

Oh, my! what a calamity!

Oh, dear! what a calamity!

Lost and forsaken be I.

I'm out of my senses, and nought will content me,

But pois'ning Poll Ady who helped circumvent me;

Come tell me the means, for no power shall prevent me:

Oh, give me revenge, or die."

TOM, as Mother Patrico

"Pause awhile!

Anon, anon!

Give me time

The stars to con.

True love's course

Shall yet run smooth;

True shall prove

The favor'd youth."

BLAKE, as the Tinker.

"Tink tink, a tink a tink,

We'll work and then get tipsy, oh!

Clink tink, on each chink,

Our busy hammers ring.

Tink tink, a tink a tink,

How merry lives a gypsy, oh!

Chanting and ranting;

As happy as a king."

DRYSDALE, as Silly Sally.

"Joy! Joy! all will end happily!

Joy! Joy! all will end happily!

Joy! joy! all will end happily!

Bill will be constant to I.

Oh, thankee, good dame, here's my purse and my thimble;

A fig for Poll Ady and fat Sukey Wimble;

I now could jump over the steeple so nimble;

With joy I be ready to cry."

TOM, as Mother Patrico.

"William shall

Be rich and great;

And shall prove

A constant mate.

Thank not me,

But thank your fate,

On whose high

Decrees I wait."

"Well, won't that do? won't it bring the house down? I'm going to send for dresses to London, and we'll start next week."

"What, on the tramp, singing these songs?"

"Yes; we'll begin in some out-of-the-way place till we get used to it."

"And end in the lock-up, I should say," said Tom; "it'll he a good lark, though. Now, you haven't told me how you got home."

"Oh, we left camp at about five-"

"The tinker having extracted a sovereign from Drysdale," interrupted Blake.

"What did you give to the little gypsy yourself?" retorted Drysdale; "I saw your adieus under the thorn-bush.-Well, we got on all right to old Murdock's, at Kingston Inn, by about seven, and there we had dinner; and after dinner the old boy came in. He and I are great chums, for I'm often there, and always ask him in. But that beggar Blake, who never saw him before, cut me clean out in five minutes. Fancy his swearing he is Scotch, and that an ancestor of his in the sixteenth century married a Murdock!"

"Well, when you come to think what a lot of ancestors one must have had at that time, it's probably true," said Blake.

"At any rate, it took," went on Drysdale. "I thought old Murdock would have wept on his neck. As it was, he scattered snuff enough to fill a pint pot over him out of his mull, and began talking Gaelic. And Blake had the cheek to jabber a lot of gibberish back to him, as if he understood every word."

"Gibberish! it was the purest Gaelic," said Blake laughing.

"I heard a lot of Greek words myself," said Drysdale; "but old Murdock was too pleased at hearing his own clapper going, and too full of whisky, to find him out."

"Let alone that I doubt whether he remembers more than about five words of his native tongue himself," said Blake.

"The old boy got so excited that he went up stairs for his plaid and dirk, and dressed himself up in them, apologising that he could not appear in the full grab of old Gaul, in honor of his new-found relative, as his daughter had cut up his old kilt for 'trews for the barnies' during his absence from home. Then they took to more toddy and singing Scotch songs, till at eleven o'clock they were standing on their chairs, right hands clasped, each with one foot on the table, glasses in the other hands, the toddy flying over the room as they swayed about roaring like maniacs, what was it ?-oh, I have it:

'Wug-an-toorey all agree,

Wug-an-toorey, wug-an-toorey.'"

"He hasn't told you that he tried to join us, and tumbled over the back of his chair into the dirty-plate basket."

"A libel! a libel!" shouted Drysdale; "the leg of my chair broke, and I stepped down gracefully and safely, and when I looked up and saw what a tottery performance it was, I concluded to give them a wide berth. It would be no joke to have old Murdock topple over on to you. I left them 'wug-an-tooreying,' and went out to look after the trap, which was ordered to be at the door at half-past ten. I found Murdock's ostler very drunk, but sober compared with that rascally help whom we had been fools enough to take with us. They had got the trap out and the horses in, but that old rascal Satan was standing so quiet that I suspected something wrong. Sure enough, when I came to look, they had him up to the cheek on one side of his mouth, and third bar on the other, his belly-band buckled across his back, and no kicking strap. The old brute was chuckling to himself what he would do with us as soon as we had started in that trim. It took half an hour getting all right, as I was the only one able to do anything."

"Yes, you would have said so," said Blake, "if you had seen him trying to put Jack up behind. He made six shots with the old dog, and dropped him about on his head and the broad of his back as if he had been a bundle of ells."

"The fact is, that that rascally ostler had made poor old Jack drunk too," explained Drysdale, "and he wouldn't be lifted straight. However we got off at last, and hadn't gone a mile before the help (who was maundering away some cursed sentimental ditty or other behind), lurched more heavily than usual, and pitched off into the night somewhere. Blake looked for him for half-an-hour, and couldn't find a hair."

"You don't mean to say the man tumbled off and you never found him?" said Tom in horror.

"Well, that's about the fact," said Drysdale; "but it isn't so bad as you think. We had no lamps, and it was an uncommon bad night for running by holloas."

"But a first-rate night for running by scent," broke in Blake; "the fellow leant against me until he made his exit, and I'd have backed myself to have hit the scent again half-a-mile off if the wind had only been right."

"He may have broken his neck," said Tom.

"Can a fellow sing with a broken neck?" said Drysdale; "hanged if I know! But don't I tell you, we heard him maundering on somewhere or other? And when Blake shouted, he rebuked him piously out of the pitch darkness, and told him to go home and repent. I nearly dropped off the box laughing at them; and then he 'uplifted his testimony,' as he called it, against me, for driving a horse called Satan. I believe he's a ranting methodist spouter."

"I tried hard to find him," said Blake; "For I should dearly have liked to kick him safely into the ditch."

"At last Black Will himself couldn't have held Satan another minute. So Blake scrambled up, and away we came, and knocked into college at one for a finish: the rest you know."

"Well, you've had a pretty good day of it," said Tom, who had been hugely amused; "but I should feel nervous about the help, if I were you."

"Oh, he'll come to no grief, I'll be bound," said Drysdale, "but what o'clock is it?"

"Three," said Blake, looking at his watch and getting up; "time to turn in."

"The first time I ever heard you say that," said Drysdale.

"Yes; but you forget we were up this morning before the world was aired. Good night, Brown."

And off the two went, leaving Tom to sport his oak this time, and retire in wonder to bed.

Drysdale was asleep, with Jack curled up on the foot of the bed, in ten minutes. Blake, by the help of wet towels and a knotted piece of whipcord round his forehead, read Pinder till the chapel bell began to ring.

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