« AnteriorContinuar »
BY ROBERT HOPE MONCRIEFF, AUTHOR OF 'OUDENDALE,' 'STORIES FOR BOYS,' 'ARTHUR FORTESCUE,'
THE LYCEE BOYS,' ETC.
CHAPTER V.-THE EDINBURGH ACADEMY.
EXT day was to be the Hazelwoods' first
experience of school-life. Before breakfast, Mr Dunning held an examination of the new-comers; and having found out how much they had learned, decided that Horace
could go into the second class with Rawlett, while Harry, like Charley and Willy Miller and Sydney Robertson, should go into the first. And after breakfast, the whole of the boys set out for the
Academy, Horace particularly attaching himself to Rawlett, who had been there for
one year already, and of course knew all the manners and customs of the place.
The Academy turned out to be a large, handsome building, surrounded by what to our Highland friends seemed an enormous playground, into which they entered by an iron gate.
Maxwell took charge of the first class boys or 'gytes,' as they are called ; while Rawlett showed Horace the way to the second classroom, where there were already assembled several groups of boys, who stared at Horace, and greeted Rawlett without much cordiality, for he was no great favourite in his class.
In a few minutes, when the schoolroom clock pointed
to nine, a bell was heard ringing outside, and more boys came dropping into the schoolroom, till perhaps there were sixty or seventy present, for it was a large class. Last of all came Mr Gray, the master of the second class, at the sight of whom the boys rushed to their places, Horace modestly sitting down at the very bottom of the class beside Rawlett, who seemed very familiar with that locality. Then the boys filed off by a sidedoor into the hall, Mr Gray bringing up the rear; and now for the first time Horace saw three or four hundred boys collected together, and felt quite small in the middle of such a great multitude, as it seemed to him. He caught a glimpse of Harry in the class opposite, and on the back benches he gazed with great respect at Maxwell, sitting among the nine or ten boys who formed the seventh class. Horace could not bring himself to believe that in a few years he would be as big and strong and learned as these redoubtable heroes. He was scarcely more afraid of the masters, who in their black gowns looked very imposing as they stood at a table in the centre of the hall.
When all the classes were assembled, the Rector stood up and read part of a chapter in the Bible and a prayer, after which the boys rose again and filed back into their different classrooms.
The second class had now to spend an hour and a half with Mr Gray ; but as this was only the second day of school, and there were not many lessons to be done, he let the boys away some twenty minutes before the regular time, and out they rushed into the playground in great glee. Horace naturally did not know what to do with himself; but he looked out for Rawlett, and stuck to him. Under Rawlett's guidance he made his way to the janitor's lodge, or ‘Janey's,' as the boys called it, whereat were to be bought all sorts of eatables—biscuits, tarts, buns, rolls, and so forth, not to speak of books, balls, and other things required by the boys,- for be it known that the gates of the Edinburgh Academy are kept locked
from nine till three o'clock, and no boy is allowed to go out without special permission.
At ‘Janey's,'Horace soon spent one of the five shillings which his father had given him, in treating himself and Rawlett to tarts; for, like many other boys of his age,
it was impossible for him to have money in his pocket without feeling a desire to spend it. Then Rawlett pronounced it necessary for him to have a 'clackan,'—an instrument which he observed in the hands of nearly every boy, though he had never seen one before, and indeed they are only to be seen in the playgrounds or 'yards,' as they are called, of the public schools of Edinburgh. A clackan, be it known, is a peculiar sort of bat, looking very much like a large wooden spoon; and if my reader wishes to . understand more perfectly what I mean, he must take up his position any winter morning at five minutes to nine o'clock outside one of the gates of the Academy, where he will be able to see a great many of them.
So Horace, like every new boy who comes to the Academy, lost no time in spending sixpence on a clackan, —an assortment of which useful articles was to be seen at the janitor's. And though this purchase may seem to be a very simple matter, it was not so in reality, for a committee of one or two of Rawlett's friends were called into counsel, who carefully examined all the janitor's stock, and talked sagely about their spring, and strength, and knots in the wood, and so forth, and at length selected one, which Horace took upon their reconimendation. Being possessed of a clackan, he then, under Rawlett's auspices, joined in a game at ‘hales,' which is a game only to be described by saying that it is something like 'hockey.'
This was great fun, and Horace was sorry when the bell rung summoning the boys into school. After an hour and a half more in school, came another half hour of play, then school again; and at three o'clock the gates were opened, and the boys allowed to go home, or to remain for a game.
Mr Dunning's boys had to go home at once, as dinner was at half past three o'clock.
“Will you come into the town with me after dinner?' asked Rawlett. 'I want to buy a new necktie.'
All right,' replied Horace. And after dinner they asked leave to go out, which Mr Dunning readily granted, as Rawlett knew the town quite well.
‘Oh, Rawlett, will you let us go with you?' asked Sydney Robertson, coming up to them with Harry just as they were leaving the house.
'Not likely,' said Rawlett. We don't want to be bothered by little muffs like you. Come on, Hazelwood.'
The two boys set off for Princes Street, and Horace was soon quite lost in astonishment at the fine buildings and gay shops. However, he did not like to express this feeling to Rawlett, who, he was afraid, would laugh at him; and Horace was terribly afraid of being laughed at or thought simple. When Rawlett had bought his necktie, he said
“Mr Dunning gave me eighteenpence to buy a necktie, and I have got this one for a shilling, so we can spend the other sixpence in something else, and he won't be a bit the wiser. I would be a great muff to give it him back.'
Horace thought that this would be very dishonest of Rawlett, but he did not say so; indeed, he smiled as if approving Rawlett's sharpness, and shared the apples which he bought with the sixpence. His conscience told him he had done wrong; but, on the other hand, he was dreadfully afraid of being thought a 'muff;' and then it was only a little thing,' he thought.
A little thing, indeed; but a little thing which led on to greater things. If Horace had said boldly, Rawlett, this is wrong, you ought to give back the sixpence to Mr Dunning,' Rawlett might possibly have called him a muff, but would not have tried to lead him into such temptation as we shall see that he did. What tears and shame Horace would have saved himself and others, if he only
had had courage to act bravely and honestly in this little thing!
In the evening, after tea, a tutor came, who saw that the boys prepared their lessons for next day, Mr Dunning being too busy to attend to this himself. Then they had an hour to amuse themselves before bed-time, which they spent in reading, or playing, or talking, or doing nothing particular, according to their various tastes. Thus passed Horace's first day at school, which both he and Harry thought they would like very much.
THE EVIL OF LITTLE THINGS.
REMEMBER that it will be by little things that your companions and masters will judge you; so if you wish to please them, you must be careful about little things.'
This was his father's advice, and Horace had determined to follow it. He had made up his mind to be industrious and obedient, generous and good-tempered. But these insidious little things steal upon us, overthrowing our best and strongest resolutions, unless we continually watch and pray that we be not led into temptation.
Soon after Horace's entering the Academy, he was playing with some other boys, when one of them, named Matthews, happened to ask him
‘By-the-by, you fellow, what's your name?'
'Horace Hazelwood,' answered he in a tone which seemed to say, 'What a pretty name it is!'
*Horace, Horace, how grand!' said Matthews, who was the funny boy of the class, and felt himself called upon to say something which would raise a laugh. "Are you any relation to Horatius Cockles who defended the bridge?'
‘Don't talk nonsense,' said Horace, who did not like his name to be made fun of. Of course you are.
Your last name shouldn't be