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   Chapter 10 SUMMER TERM

Tom Brown at Oxford By Thomas Hughes Characters: 36375

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:05

How many spots in life are there which will bear comparison with the beginning of our second term at the University? So far as external circumstances are concerned, it seems hard to know what a man could find to ask for at that period of his life, if a fairy godmother were to alight in his rooms and offer him the usual three wishes. The sailor who had asked for "all the grog in the world," and "all the baccy in the world," was indeed driven to "a little more baccy" as his third requisition; but, at any rate his two first requisitions were to some extent grounded on what he held to be substantial wants; he felt himself actually limited in the matters of grog and tobacco. The condition which Jack would have been in as a wisher, if he had been started on his quest with the assurance that his utmost desires in the direction of alcohol and narcotic were already provided for, and must be left out of the question, is the only one affording a pretty exact parallel to the case we are considering. In our second term we are no longer freshmen, and begin to feel ourselves at home, while both "smalls" and "greats" are sufficiently distant to be altogether ignored if we are that way inclined, or to be looked forward to with confidence that the game is in our own hands if we are reading men. Our financial position-unless we have exercised rare ingenuity in involving ourselves-is all that heart can desire; we have ample allowances paid in quarterly to the University bankers without thought or trouble of ours, and our credit is at its zenith. It is a part of our recognized duty to repay the hospitality we have received as freshmen; and all men will be sure to come to our first parties to see how we do the thing; it will be our own faults if we do not keep them in future. We have not had time to injure our characters to any material extent with the authorities of our own college, or of the University. Our spirits are never likely to be higher, or our digestions better. These and many other comforts and advantages environ the fortunate youth returning to Oxford after his first vacation; thrice fortunate, however, if, as happened in our hero's case, it is Easter term to which he is returning; for that Easter term, with the four days' vacation, and the little Trinity term at the end of it, is surely the cream of the Oxford year. Then, even in this our stern northern climate, the sun is beginning to have power, the days have lengthened out, great-coats are unnecessary at morning chapel, and the miseries of numbed hands and shivering skins no longer accompany every pull on the river and canter on Bullingdon. In Christ Church meadows and the college gardens the birds are making sweet music in the tall elms. You may almost hear the thick grass growing, and the buds on tree and shrub are changing from brown, red, or purple, to emerald green under your eyes; the glorious old city is putting on her best looks, and bursting into laughter and song. In a few weeks the races begin, and Cowley marsh will be alive with white tents and joyous cricketers. A quick ear, on the towing-path by the Gut, may feast at one time on those three sweet sounds, the thud thud of the eight-oar, the crack of the rifles at the Weirs, and the click of the bat on the Magdalen ground. And then Commemoration rises in the background, with its clouds of fair visitors, and visions of excursions to Woodstock and Nuneham in the summer days-of windows open on to the old quadrangles in the long still evenings, through which silver laughter and strains of sweet music, not made by man, steal out and puzzle the old celibate jackdaws, peering down from the battlements, with heads on one side. To crown all, long vacation, beginning with the run to Henley regatta, or up to town to see the match with Cambridge at Lord's and taste some of the sweets of the season, before starting on some pleasure tour or reading party, or dropping back into the quiet pleasures of English country life! Surely, the lot of young Englishmen who frequent our universities is cast in pleasant places. The country has a right to expect something from those for whom she finds such a life as this in the years when enjoyment is keenest.

Tom was certainly alive to the advantages of the situation, and entered on his kingdom without any kind of scruple. He was very glad to find things so pleasant, and quite resolved to make the best he could of them. Then he was in a particularly good humour with himself, for in deference to the advice of Hardy, he had actually fixed on the books which he should send in for his little-go examination before going down for the Easter vacation, and had read them through at home, devoting an hour or two almost daily to this laudable occupation. So he felt himself entitled to take things easily on his return. He had brought back with him two large hampers of good sound wine, a gift from his father, who had a horror of letting his son set before his friends the fire-water which is generally sold to the undergraduate. Tom found that his father's notions of the rate of consumption prevalent in the university were wild in the extreme. "In his time," the squire said, "eleven men came to his first wine party, and he had opened nineteen bottles of port for them. He was very glad to hear that the habits of the place had changed so much for the better; and as Tom wouldn't want nearly so much wine, he should have it out of an older bin." Accordingly, the port which Tom employed the first hour after his return in stacking carefully away in his cellar, had been more than twelve years in bottle, and he thought with unmixed satisfaction of the pleasing effect it would have on Jervis and Miller, and the one or two other men who knew good wine from bad, and guided public opinion on the subject, and of the social importance which he would soon attain from the reputation of giving good wine.

The idea of entertaining, of being hospitable, is a pleasant and fascinating one to most young men; but the act soon gets to be a bore to all but a few curiously constituted individuals. With these hospitality becomes first a passion and then a faith-a faith the practice of which, in the cases of some of its professors, reminds one strongly of the hints on such subjects scattered about the New Testament. Most of us feel, when our friends leave us a certain sort of satisfaction, not unlike that of paying a bill; they have been done for, and can't expect anything more for a long time. Such thoughts never occur to your really hospitable man. Long years of narrow means cannot hinder him from keeping open house for whoever wants to come to him, and setting the best of everything before all comers. He has no notion of giving you anything but the best he can command if it be only fresh porter from the nearest mews. He asks himself not, "Ought I to invite A or B? do I owe him anything?" but, "Would A or B like to come here?" Give me these men's houses for real enjoyment, though you never get anything very choice there,-(how can a man produce old wine who gives his oldest every day?)-seldom much elbow room or orderly arrangement. The high arts of gastronomy and scientific drinking so much valued in our highly civilized community, are wholly unheeded by him, are altogether above him, are cultivated in fact by quite another set who have very little of the genuine spirit of hospitality in them, from those tables, should one by chance happen upon them, one senses, certainly with a feeling of satisfaction and expansion, chiefly physical, but entirely without the expansion of heart which one gets at the scramble of the hospitable man. So that we are driven to remark, even in such everyday matters as these, but it is the invisible, the spiritual, which after all gives value and reality even to dinners; and, with Solomon, to prefer the most touching diner Russe, the dinner of herbs where love is, though I trust that neither we nor Solomon should object to well-dressed cutlets with our salad, if they happened to be going.

Readers will scarcely need to be told that one of the first things Tom did, after depositing his luggage and unpacking his wine, was to call at Hardy's rooms, where he found his friend deep as usual in his books, the hard-worked atlases and dictionaries of all sorts taking up more space than ever. After the first hearty greeting, Tom occupied his old place with much satisfaction.

"How long have you been up, old fellow?" he began; "you look quite settled."

"I only went home for a week. Well, what have you been doing in the vacation?"

"Oh, there was nothing much going on; so, amongst other things,

I've nearly floored my little-go work."

"Bravo! you'll find the comfort of it now. I hardly thought you would take to the grind so easily."

"It's pleasant enough for a spurt," said Tom; "but I shall never manage a horrid perpetual grind like yours. But what in the world have you been doing to your walls?"

Tom might well ask, for the corners of Hardy's room were covered with sheets of paper of different sizes, pasted against the wall in groups. In the line of sight, from about the height of four to six feet, there was scarcely an inch of the original paper visible, and round each centre group there were outlying patches and streamers, stretching towards floor or ceiling, or away nearly to the bookcases or fireplace.

"Well, don't you think it is a great improvement on the old paper?" said Hardy. "I shall be out of rooms next term, and it will be a hint to the College that the rooms want papering. You're no judge of such matters, or I should ask you whether you don't see great artistic taste in the arrangement."

"Why, they're nothing but maps, and lists of names and dates," said Tom, who had got up to examine the decorations. "And what in the world are all these queer pins for?" he went on, pulling a strong pin with a large red sealing-wax head out of the map nearest to him.

"Hullo! take care there, what are you about?" shouted Hardy, getting up and hastening to the corner. "Why, you irreverent beggar, those pins are the famous statesmen and warriors of Greece and Rome."

"Oh, I beg your pardon; I didn't know I was in such august company;" saying which, Tom proceeded to stick the red-headed pin back in the wall.

"Now, just look at that," said Hardy, taking the pin out from the place where Tom had stuck it. "Pretty doings there would be amongst them with your management. This pin is Brasidas; you've taken him away from Naupactus, where he was watching the eleven Athenian galleys anchored under the temple of Apollo, and struck him down right in the middle of the Pnyx, where he will be instantly torn in pieces by a ruthless and reckless mob. You call yourself a Tory indeed! However, 'twas always the same with you Tories; calculating, cruel, and jealous. Use your leaders up, and throw them over-that's the golden rule of aristocracies."

"Hang Brasidas," said Tom, laughing; "stick him back at Naupactus again. Here, which is Cleon? The scoundrel! give me hold of him, and I'll put him in a hot berth."

"That's he, with the yellow head. Let him alone, I tell you, or all will be hopeless confusion when Grey comes for his lecture. We're only in the third year of the war."

"I like your chaff about Tories sacrificing their great men,"

said Tom, putting his hands in his pockets to avoid temptation.

"How about your precious democracy, old fellow? Which is


"Here, the dear old boy!-this pin with the great grey head, in

the middle of Athens, you see. I pride myself on my Athens.

Here's the Piraeus and the long walls, and the hill of Mars.

Isn't it as good as a picture?"

"Well, it is better than most maps, I think," said Tom; "but you're not going to slip out so easily. I want to know whether your pet democracy did or did not murder Socrates."

"I'm not bound to defend democracies. But look at my pins. It may be the natural fondness of a parent, but I declare they seem to me to have a great deal of character, considering the material. You'll guess them at once, I'm sure, if you mark the color and shape of the wax. This one now, for instance, who is he?"

"Alcibiades," answered Tom, doubtfully.

"Alcibiades!" shouted Hardy; "you fresh from Rugby, and not know your Thucydides better than that? There's Alcibiades, that little purple-headed, foppish pin, by Socrates. This rusty-colored one is that respectable old stick-in-the-mud, Nicias."

"Well, but you've made Alcibiades nearly the smallest of the whole lot," said Tom.

"So he was, to my mind," said Hardy; "just the sort of insolent young ruffian whom I should have liked to buy at my price, and sell at his own. He must have been very like some of our gentlemen-commoners, with the addition of brains."

"I should really think, though," said Tom, "It must be a capital plan for making you remember the history."

"It is, I flatter myself. I've long had the idea, but I should never have worked it out and found the value of it but for Grey. I invented it to coach him in his history. You see we are in the Grecian corner. Over there is the Roman. You'll find Livy and Tacitus worked out there, just as Herodotus and Thucydides are here; and the pins are stuck for the Second Punic War, where we are just now. I shouldn't wonder if Grey got his first, after all, he's picking up so quick in my corners; and says he never forgets any set of events when he has picked them out with the pins."

"Is he working at that school still?" asked Tom.

"Yes, as hard as ever. He didn't go down for the vacation, and I really believe it was because the curate told him the school would go wrong if he went away."

"It's very plucky of him, but I do think he's a great fool not to knock it off now till he has passed, don't you?"

"No," said Hardy; "he is getting more good there than he can ever get in the schools, though I hope he'll do well in them too."

"Well, I hope so; for he deserves it. And now, Hardy, to change the subject, I am going to give my first wine next Thursday; and here's the first card which has gone out for it. You'll promise me to come now, won't you?"

"What a hurry you're in." said Hardy, taking the card which he put on his mantel-piece, after examining it.

"But you'll promise to come, now?"

"I'm very hard at work; I can't be sure."

"You needn't stay above half an hour. I've brought back some famous wine from the governor's cellar; and I want so to get you and Jervis together. He is sure to come."

"Why, that's the bell for chapel beginning already," said Hardy; "I had no notion it was so late. I must be off, to put the new servitor up to his work. Will you come in after hall?"

"Yes if you will come to me next Thursday."

"We'll talk about it. But mind you come to-night; for you'll find me working Grey in the Punic wars, and you'll see how the pins act. I'm very proud of my show."

And so Hardy went off to chapel, and Tom to Drysdale's rooms, not at all satisfied that he had made Hardy safe. He found Drysdale lolling on his sofa, as usual, and fondling Jack. He had just arrived, and his servant and the scout were unpacking his portmanteaus. He seemed pleased to see Tom, but looked languid and used up.

"Where have you been this vacation?" said Tom; "you look seedy."

"You may say that," said Drysdale. "Here, Henry, get out a bottle of Schiedam. Have a taste of bitters? there's nothing like it to set one's digestion right."

"No, thank'ee," said Tom, rejecting the glass which Henry proffered him; "my appetite don't want improving."

"You're lucky, then," said Drysdale. "Ah, that's the right stuff!

I feel better already."

"But where have you been?"

"Oh, in the little village. It's no use being in the country at this time of year. I just went up to Limmer's, and there I stuck, with two or three more, till to-day."

"I can't stand London for more than a week," said Tom. "What did you do all the day?"

"We hadn't much to say to day-light" said Drysdale. "What with theatres, and sparing-cribs and the Coal-hole and Cider-cellars, and a little play in St. James's Street now and then, one wasn't up to early rising. However, I was better than the rest, for I had generally breakfasted by two o'clock."

"No wonder you look seedy. You'd much better have been in the country."

"I should have been more in pocket, at any rate," said Drysdale. "By Jove, how it runs away with the ready! I'm fairly cleaned out; and if I haven't luck at Van John, I'll be hanged if I know how I'm to get through term. But, look here, here's a bundle of the newest songs-first rate, some of them." And he threw some papers across to Tom, who glanced at them without being at all edified.

"You're going to pull regularly, I hope, this term, Drysdale."

"Yes, I think so; it's cheap amusement, and I want a little training for a change."

"That's all right."

"I've brought down some dresses for our gipsy business, by the way. I didn't forget that. Is Blake back?"

"I don't know," said Tom; "but we shan't have time before the races."

"Well afterwards will do; though the days oughtn't to be too long. I'm all for a little darkness in masquerading."

"There's five o'clock striking. Are you going to dine in hall?"

"No; I shall go to the Mitre, and get a broil."

"Then I'm off. Let's see,-will you come and wine with me next


"Yes; only send us a card, 'to remind.'"

"All right!" said Tom, and went off to hall, feeling dissatisfied and uncomfortable about his fast friend, for whom he had a sincere regard.

After hall, Tom made a short round amongst his acquaintance, and then, giving himself up to the strongest attraction, returned to Hardy's rooms, comforting himself with the thought that it really must be an act of Christian charity to take such a terrible reader off his books for once in a way, when his conscience pricked him for intruding on Hardy during his hours of work. He found Grey there, who was getting up his Roman history, under Hardy's guidance; and the two were working the pins on t

he maps and lists in the Roman corner when Tom arrived. He begged them not to stop, and very soon was as much interested in what they were doing as if he also were going into the schools in May; for Hardy had a way of throwing life into what he was talking about, and, like many men with strong opinions, and passionate natures, either carried his hearers off their legs and away with him altogether, or aroused every spark of combativeness in them. The latter was the effect which his lecture on the Punic Wars had on Tom. He made several protests as Hardy went on; but Grey's anxious looks kept him from going fairly into action, till Hardy stuck the black pin, which represented Scipio, triumphantly in the middle of Carthage, and, turning round said, "And now for some tea, Grey, before you have to turn out."

Tom opened fire while the tea was brewing.

"You couldn't say anything bad enough about aristocracies this morning, Hardy, and now to-night you are crowing over the success of the heaviest and cruelest oligarchy that ever lived, and praising them up to the skies."

"Hullo! here's a breeze!" said Hardy, smiling; "but I rejoice, O

Brown, in that they thrashed the Carthaginians, and not, as you

seem to think, in that they being aristocrats, thrashed the

Carthaginians; for oligarchs they were not at this time."

"At any rate they answer to the Spartans in the struggle, and the Carthaginians to the Athenians; and yet all your sympathies are with the Romans to-night in the Punic Wars, though they were with the Athenians before dinner."

"I deny your position. The Carthaginians were nothing but a great trading aristocracy-with a glorious family or two I grant you, like that of Hannibal; but, on the whole, a dirty, bargain-driving, buy-cheap-and-sell-dear aristocracy-of whom the world was well rid. They like the Athenians indeed! Why, just look what the two people have left behind them-"

"Yes," interrupted Tom; "but we only know the Carthaginians through the reports of their destroyers. Your heroes trampled them out with hoofs of iron."

"Do you think the Roman hoof could have trampled out their Homer if they ever had one?" said Hardy. "The Romans conquered Greece too, remember."

"But Greece was never so near beating them."

"True. But I hold to my point. Carthage was the mother of all huxters, compassing sea and land to sell her wares."

"And no bad line of life for a nation. At least Englishmen ought to think so."

"No they ought not; at least if 'Punica fides' is to be the rule of trade. Selling any amount of Brummagem wares never did nation or man much good, and never will. Eh, Grey?"

Grey winced at being appealed to, but remarked that he hoped the Church would yet be able to save England from the fate of Tyre or Carthage, the great trading nations of the old world; and then, swallowing his tea, and looking as if he had been caught robbing a henroost, he made a sudden exit, and hurried away out of college to the night school.

"What a pity he is so odd and shy," said Tom; "I should so like to know more of him."

"It is a pity. He is much better when he is alone with me. I think he has heard from some of the set that you are a furious Protestant, and sees an immense amount of stiff-neckedness in you."

"But about England and Carthage," said Tom, shirking the subject

of his own peculiarities; "you don't really think us like them?

It gave me a turn to hear you translating 'Punica fides' into

Brummagem wares just now.

"I think that successful trade is our rock ahead. The devil who holds new markets and twenty per cent profits in his gift is the devil that England has most to fear from. 'Because of unrighteous dealings, and riches gotten by deceit the kingdom is translated from one people to another,' said the wise man. Think of that opium war the other day. I don't believe we can get over many more such businesses as that. Grey falls back on the Church, you see, to save the nation; but the Church he dreams of will never do it. Is there any that can? There must be surely, or we have believed a lie. But this work of making trade righteous, of Christianizing trade, looks like the very hardest the Gospel has ever had to take in hand-in England at any rate."

Hardy spoke slowly and doubtfully, and paused as if asking for

Tom's opinion.

"I never heard it put in that way. I know very little of politics or the state of England. But come, now; the putting down the slave-trade and compensating our planters, that shows that we are not sold to the trade devil yet, surely."

"I don't think we are. No, thank God, there are plenty of signs that we are likely to make a good fight of it yet."

They talked together for another hour, drawing their chairs round to the fire, and looking dreamingly into the embers, as is the wont of men who are throwing out suggestions, and helping one another to think, rather than arguing. At the end of that time, Tom left Hardy to his books, and went away laden with several new ideas, one of the clearest of which was that he was awfully ignorant of the contemporary history of his own country, and that it was the thing of all others which he ought to be best informed on, and thinking most about. So, being of an impetuous turn of mind, he went straight to his rooms to commence his new study, where, after diligent hunting, the only food of the kind he required which turned up was the last number of Bell's Life from the pocket of his great coat. Upon this he fell to work, in default of anything better, and was soon deep in the P. R. column, which was full of interesting speculations as to the chances of Bungaree, in his forthcoming campaign against the British middleweights. By the time he had skimmed through the well-known sheets, he was satisfied that the columns of his old acquaintance were not the place, except in the police reports, where much could be learnt about the present state or future prospects of England. Then, the first evening of term being a restless place, he wandered out again, and before long landed, as his custom was, at Drysdale's door.

On entering the room he found Drysdale and Blake alone together, the former looking more serious than Tom had ever seen him before. As for Blake, the restless, haggard expression sat more heavily than ever on his face, sadly marring its beauty. It was clear that they changed the subject of their talk abruptly on his entrance; so Tom looked anywhere except straight before him as he was greeting Blake. He really felt very sorry for him at the moment. However, in another five minutes, he was in fits of laughter over Blake's description of the conversation between himself and the coachman who had driven the Glo'ster day-mail by which he had come up; in which conversation, nevertheless, when Tom came to think it over, and try to repeat it afterwards, the most facetious parts seemed to be the "sez he's" and the "sez I's" with which Jehu larded his stories; so he gave up the attempt, wondering what he could have found in it to laugh at.

"By the way, Blake," said Drysdale, "how about our excursion into

Berkshire masquerading this term? Are you game?"

"Not exactly," said Blake; "I really must make the most of such time as I have left, if I'm going into the schools this term."

"If there's one thing which spoils Oxford it is those schools," said Drysdale; "they get in the way of everything. I ought to be going up for smalls myself next term, and I haven't opened a book yet, and don't mean to do so. Follow a good example, old fellow, you're cock-sure of your first, every-body knows."

"I wish everybody would back his opinion, and give me a shade of odds. Why, I have scarcely thought of my history."

"Why the d--l should they make such a fuss about history? One knows perfectly well that those old black-guard heathens were no better than they should be; and what good it can do to lumber one's head with who their grandmothers were, and what they ate, and when and where and why they had their stupid brains knocked out, I can't see for the life of me."

"Excellently well put. Where did you pick up such sound views, Drysdale? But you're not examiner yet; and, on the whole, I must rub up my history somehow. I wish I knew how to do it."

"Can't you put on a coach?" said Drysdale.

"I have one on, but history is my weak point, said Blake.

"I think I can help you," said Tom. "I've just been hearing a lecture in Roman history, and one that won't be so easy to forget as most;" and he went on to explain Hardy's plans, to which Blake listened eagerly.

"Capital!" he said, when Tom had finished. "In whose rooms did you say they are?"

"In Hardy's, and he works at them every night with Grey."

"That's the queer big servitor, his particular pal," put in

Drysdale; "there's no accounting for tastes."

"You don't know him," retorted Tom; "and the less you say about him the better."

"I know he wears highlows and short flannels, and-"

"Would you mind asking Hardy to let me come to his lectures?" interrupted Blake, averting the strong language which was rising to Tom's lips. "I think they seem just the things I want. I shouldn't like to offer to pay him, unless you think-"

"I'm quite sure," interrupted Tom, "that he won't take anything. I will ask him to-morrow whether he will let you come, and he is such a kind good fellow that I'm almost sure he will."

"I should like to know your pal, too, Brown," said Drysdale; "you must introduce me, with Blake."

"No, I'll be hanged if I do," said Tom.

"Then I shall introduce myself," said Drysdale; "see if I don't sit next him, now, at your wine on Thursday."

Here Drysdale's scout entered with two notes, and wished to know if Mr. Drysdale would require anything more. Nothing but hot water; he could put the kettle on, Drysdale said, and go; and while the scout was fulfilling his orders, he got up carelessly, whistling, and walking to the fire, read the notes by the light of one of the candles which were burning on the mantle-piece. Blake was watching him eagerly, and Tom saw this, and made some awkward efforts to go on talking about the advantages of Hardy's plan for learning history. But he was talking to deaf ears, and soon came to a stand still. He saw Drysdale crumple up the notes in his hand and shove them into his pocket. After standing for a few seconds in the same position, with his back to them, he turned around with a careless air, and sauntered to the table where they were sitting.

"Let's see, what were we saying?" he began. "Oh, about your eccentric pal, Brown."

"You've answers from both?" interrupted Blake. Drysdale nodded, and was beginning to speak again to Tom when Blake got up and said, with white lips, "I must see them."

"No, never mind, what does it matter?"

"Matter! by heaven, I must and will see them now."

Tom saw at once that he had better go, and so took up his cap, wished them good night, and went off to his own rooms.

He might have been sitting there for about twenty minutes, when

Drysdale entered.

"I couldn't help coming over, Brown," he said, "I must talk to some one, and Blake has gone off raging. I don't know what he'll do-I never was so bothered or savage in my life."

"I am very sorry," said Tom; "he looked very bad in your rooms.

Can I do anything?"

"No, but I must talk to some one. You know-no you don't, by the way-but, however, Blake got me out of a tremendous scrape in my first term, and there's nothing that I am not bound to do for him, and wouldn't do if I could. Yes, by George, whatever fellows say of me they shall never say I didn't stand by a man who stood by me. Well, he owes a dirty 300L. or 400L. or something of the sort-nothing worth talking of, I know-to people in Oxford, and they have been leading him a dog's life this year and more. Now, he's just going up for his degree, and two or three of these creditors-the most rascally of course-are sueing him in the Vice-Chancellor's Court, thinking now's the time to put the screw on. He will be ruined if they are not stopped somehow. Just after I saw you to-day, he came to me about it. You never saw a fellow in such a state; I could see it was tearing him to pieces, telling it to me even. However, I soon set him at ease as far as I was concerned; but, as the devil will have it, I can't lend him the money, though 60L. would get him over the examination, and then he can make terms. My guardian advanced me 200L. beyond my allowance just before Easter, and I haven't 20L. left, and the bank here has given me notice not to overdraw any more. However, I thought to settle it easy enough; so I told him to meet me at the Mitre in half an hour for dinner, and when he was gone I sat down and wrote two notes-the first to St. Cloud. That fellow was with us off and on in town, and one night he and I went partners at roulette, I finding ready-money for the time, gains and losses to be equally shared in the end. I left the table to go and eat some supper, and he lost 80L., and paid it out of my money. I didn't much care, and he cursed the luck and acknowledged that he owed me 40L. at the time. Well, I just reminded him of this 40L. and said I should be glad of it (I know he has plenty of money just now), but added, that it might stand if he would join me and Blake in borrowing 60L.; I was fool enough to add that Blake was in difficulties, and I was most anxious to help him. As I thought that St. Cloud would probably pay the 40L. but do no more, I wrote also to Chanter-heaven knows why, except that the beast rolls in money, and has fawned on me till I've been nearly sick this year past-and asked him to lend Blake 50L. on our joint note of hand. Poor Blake! when I told him what I had done at the Mitre, I think I might as well have stuck the carving knife into him. We had a wretched two hours; then you came in, and I got my two answers-here they are."

Tom took the proffered notes, and read:

"DEAR DRYSDALE,-Please explain the allusion in yours to some mysterious 40L. I remember perfectly the occurrence to which you refer in another part of your note. You were tired of sitting at the table, and went off to supper, leaving me (not by my own desire) to play for you with your money. I did so, and had abominable luck, as you will remember, for I handed you back a sadly dwindled heap on your return to the table. I hope you are in no row about that night? I shall be quite ready to give evidence of what passed if it will help you in any way. I am always yours very truly,


"P. S. I must decline the little joint operation for Blake's benefit, which you propose."

The second answer ran:

"DEAR DRYSDALE,-I am sorry that I cannot accommodate Mr. Blake, as a friend of yours, but you see his acceptance is mere waste paper, and you cannot give security until you are of age, so if you were to die the money would be lost. Mr. Blake has always carried his head as high as if he had 5000l. a year to spend; perhaps now he will turn less haughty to men who could buy him up easy enough.

I remain yours sincerely,


Tom looked up and met Drysdale's eyes, which had more of purpose in them than he had ever seen before. "Fancy poor Blake reading those two notes," he said, "and 'twas I brought them on him. However, he shall have the money somehow to-morrow, if I pawn my watch. I'll be even with those two some day." The two remained in conference for some time longer; it is hardly worth while to do more than relate the result.

At three o'clock the next day, Blake, Drysdale and Tom were in the back parlor of a second-rate inn, in the Corn-market. On the table were pens and ink, some cases of Eau-de-Cologne and jewelry, and behind it a fat man of forbidding aspect who spent a day or two in each term at Oxford. He held in his thick red damp hand, ornamented as to the fore-finger with a huge ring, a piece of paper.

"Then I shall draw for a hundred-and-five?"

"If you do we won't sign," said Drysdale; "now, be quick, Ben" (the fat man's name was Benjamin), "you infernal shark, we've been wrangling long enough over it. Draw for 100L at three months, or we're off."

"Then, Mr. Drysdale, you gents will take part in goods. I wish to do all I can for gents as comes well introduced, but money is very scarce just now."

"Not a stuffed bird, bottle of Eau-de-Cologne, ring or cigar, will we have. So now, no more nonsense, put down 75L on the table."

The money-lender, after another equally useless attempt to move Drysdale, who was the only one of the party who spoke, produced a roll of bills, and counted out 75L, thinking to himself that he would make this young spark sing a different tune before very long. He then filled up the piece of paper, muttering that the interest was nothing considering the risk, and he hoped they would help him to some thing better with some of their friends. Drysdale reminded him, in terms not too carefully chosen, that he was getting cent per cent. The document was signed,-Drysdale took the notes, and they went out.

"Well, that's well over," said Drysdale, as they walked towards High Street. "I'm proud of my tactics, I must say; one never does so well for oneself as for anyone else. If I had been on my own hook, that fellow would have let me in for 20L worth of stuffed birds and bad jewelry. Let's see, what do you want, Blake?"

"Sixty will do," said Blake.

"You had better take 65L; there'll be some law costs to pay," and

Drysdale handed him the notes.

"Now, Brown, shall we divide the balance,-a fiver a piece?"

"No, thank you," said Tom, "I don't want it; as you two are to hold me harmless, you must do what you like with the money." So Drysdale pocketed the 10L, after which they walked in silence to the gate of St. Ambrose. The most reckless youngster doesn't begin this sort of thing without reflections which are apt to keep him silent. At the gates Blake wrung both their hands. "I don't say much, but I sha'n't forget it." He got out the words with some difficulty, and went off to his rooms.

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