The next morning at first lesson Tom was turned back in his lines, and so had to wait till the second round, while Martin and Arthur said theirs all right and got out of school at once. When Tom got out and ran down to breakfast at Harrowells they were missing, and Stumps informed him that they had swallowed down their breakfasts and gone off together, where, he couldnt say. Tom hurried over his own breakfast, and went first to Martins study and then to his own, but no signs of the missing boys were to be found. He felt half angry and jealous of Martinwhere could they be gone?
He learnt second lesson with East and the rest in no very good temper, and then went out into the quadrangle. About ten minutes before school Martin and Arthur arrived in the quadrangle breathless; and, catching sight of him, Arthur rushed up, all excitement, and with a bright glow on his face.
Oh, Tom, look here! cried he, holding out three moor-hens eggs; weve been down the Barby-road to the pool Martin told us of last night, and just see what weve got.
Tom wouldnt be pleased, and only looked out for something to find fault with.
Why, young un, said he, what have you been after? You dont mean to say youve been wading?
The tone of reproach made poor little Arthur shrink up in a moment and look piteous, and Tom with a shrug of his shoulders turned his anger on Martin.
Well, I didnt think, Madman, that youd have been such a muff as to let him be getting wet through at this time of day. You might have done the wading yourself.
So I did, of course, only he would come in too, to see the nest. We left six eggs in; theyll be hatched in a day or two.
Hang the eggs! said Tom; a fellow cant turn his back for a moment but all his works undone. Hell be laid up for a week for this precious lark, Ill be bound.
Indeed, Tom, now, pleaded Arthur, my feet aint wet, for Martin made me take off my shoes and stockings and trousers.
But they are wet, and dirty toocant I see? answered Tom; and youll be called up and floored when the master sees what a state youre in. You havent looked at second lesson, you know. Oh, Tom, you old humbug! you to be upbraiding any one with not learning their lessons. If you hadnt been floored yourself now at first lesson, do you mean to say you wouldnt have been with them? and youve taken away all poor little Arthurs joy and pride in his first birds eggs, and he goes and puts them down in the study, and takes down his books with a sigh, thinking he has done something horribly wrong, whereas he has learnt on in advance much more than will be done at second lesson.
But the old Madman hasnt, and gets called up and makes some frightful shots, losing about ten places, and all but getting floored. This somewhat appeases Toms wrath, and by the end of the lesson he has regained his temper. And afterwards in their study he begins to get right again, as he watches Arthurs intense joy at seeing Martin blowing the eggs and glueing them carefully on to bits of card-board, and notes the anxious loving looks which the little fellow casts sidelong at him. And then he thinks, What an
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