Harry East's Dilemmas and Deliverances
Lowell, The Vision of Sir Launfal, p. 11.
The Conquering Knight
The next morning, after breakfast, Tom, East, and Gower met as usual to learn their second lesson together. Tom had been considering how to break his proposal of giving up the crib to the others, and having found no better way (as indeed none better can ever be found by man or boy), told them simply what had happened; how he had been to see Arthur, who had talked to him upon the subject, and what he had said, and for his part he had made up his mind, and wasnt going to use cribs any more: and not being quite sure of his ground, took the high and pathetic tone, and was proceeding to say, how that having learnt his lessons with them for so many years, it would grieve him much to put an end to the arrangement, and he hoped at any rate that if they wouldnt go on with him, they should still be just as good friends, and respect one anothers motivesbut
Here the other boys, who had been listening with open eyes and ears, burst in
Stuff and nonsense! cried Gower. Here, East, get down the crib and find the place.
Oh, Tommy, Tommy! said East, proceeding to do as he was bidden, that it should ever have come to this! I knew Arthurd be the ruin of you some day, and you of me. And now the times come,and he made a doleful face.
I dont know about ruin, answered Tom; I know that you and I would have had the sack long ago, if it hadnt been for him. And you know it as well as I.
Well, we were in a baddish way before he came, I own; but this new crotchet of his is past a joke.
Lets give it a trial, Harry; comeyou know how often he has been right and we wrong.
Now, dont you two be jawing away about young Square-toes, struck in Gower. Hes no end of a sucking wiseacre, I dare say; but weve no time to lose, and Ive got the fives-court at half-past nine.
I say, Gower, said Tom, appealingly, be a good fellow, and lets try if we cant get on without the crib.
What! in this chorus? Why, we shant get through ten lines.
I say, Tom, cried East, having hit on a new idea, dont you remember, when we were in the upper fourth, and old Momus caught me construing off the leaf of a crib which Id torn out and put in my book, and which would float out on to the floor; he sent me up to be flogged for it?
Yes, I remember it very well.
Well, the Doctor, after hed flogged me, told me himself that he didnt flog me for using a translation, but for taking it in to lesson, and using it there when I hadnt learnt a word before I came in. He said there was no harm in using a translation to get a clue to hard passages, if you tried all you could first to make them out without.
Did he, though? said Tom; then Arthur must be wrong.
Of course he is, said Gower, the little prig. Well only use the crib when we cant construe without it. Go ahead, East.
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