“Hold that noise up in the corner,” called out the præpostor, sitting up and looking round his curtains; and the Tadpole and young Green sank down into their disordered beds; and then, looking at his watch, added, “Hullo, past eight!—whose turn for hot water?”

(Where the præpostor was particular in his ablutions, the fags in his room had to descend in turn to the kitchen, and beg or steal hot water for him; and often the custom extended further, and two boys went down every morning to get a supply for the whole room.)

“East’s and Tadpole’s,” answered the senior fag, who kept the rota.

“I can’t go,” said East, “I’m dead lame.”

“Well, be quick some of you, that’s all,” said the great man, as he turned out of bed, and putting on his slippers, went out into the great passage, which runs the whole length of the bedrooms, to get his Sunday habiliments out of his portmanteau.

“Let me go for you,” said Tom to East, “I should like it.”

“Well, thank’ee, that’s a good fellow. Just pull on your trousers, and take your jug and mine, Tadpole will show you the way.”

And so Tom and the Tadpole, in nightshirts and trousers, started off down-stairs, and through “Thos’s hole,” as the little buttery, where candles and beer and bread and cheese were served out at night, was called, across the School-house court, down a long passage, and into the kitchen; where, after some parley with the stalwart, handsome cook, who declared that she had filled a dozen jugs already, they got their hot water, and returned with all speed and great caution. As it was, they narrowly escaped capture by some privateers from the fifth-form rooms, who were on the look-out for the hot-water convoys, and pursued them up to the very door of their room, making them spill half their load in the passage. “Better than going down again tho’,” as Tadpole remarked, “as we should have had to do if those beggars had caught us.”

By the time that the calling-over bell rang, Tom and his new comrades were all down, dressed in their best clothes, and he had the satisfaction of answering “here” to his name for the first time, the præpostor of the week having put it in at the bottom of his list. And then came breakfast and a saunter about the close and town with East, whose lameness only became severe when any fagging had to be done. And so they whiled away the time until morning chapel.

It was a fine November morning, and the close soon became alive with boys of all ages, who sauntered about on the grass, or walked round the gravel walk, in parties of two or three. East, still doing the cicerone, pointed out all the remarkable characters to Tom as they passed: Osbert, who could throw a cricket-ball from the little side-ground over the rook trees to the Doctor’s wall; Gray, who had got the Balliol scholarship, and, what East evidently thought of much more importance, a half-holiday for the School by his success; Thorne, who had run ten miles in two minutes over the hour; Black, who had held his own against the cock of the town in the last row with the louts; and many more heroes, who then and there walked about and were worshipped, all trace of whom has long since vanished from the scene of their fame; and the fourth-form boy who reads their names rudely cut out on the old hall tables, or painted upon the big side-cupboard (if hall tables and big side-cupboards still exist), wonders what manner of boys they were. It will be the same with you who wonder, my sons, whatever your prowess may be in cricket, or scholarship, or football. Two or three years, more or less, and then the steadily advancing, blessed wave will pass over your names as it has passed over ours. Nevertheless, play your games and do your work manfully—see only that that be done, and let the remembrance of it take care of itself.

The chapel-bell began to ring at a quarter to eleven, and Tom got in early and took his place in the lowest row, and watched all the other boys come in and take their places, filling row after row; and tried to construe the Greek text which was inscribed over the door with the slightest possible success, and

  By PanEris using Melati.

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