“Orl right,” said Raffles, considerably taken aback by the ultimatum. “I’ll not be friendlier than I can ’elp.”
“Don’t,” said Jack.
“EASY IS THE DOWNWARD ROAD”
Aided by Raffles of Rotherhithe, young Bourne went royally through half the rules of the school. He called the tune to that extent. In the first place, one may believe that when he called in the aid of that horsey gentleman he had no further idea in his head than that of passing away those dull half-hours which Hill inflicted upon him.
But, like many a wiser man, young Bourne found it was easier to conjure up a spirit than to lay one, and, having once accepted the aid of Raffles, he found it beyond his power to dispense with it, despite his brave word. So, unheedful of his brother’s advice, he not merely put his innocent feet into the stream of forbidden pleasures, but waded in whole-heartedly up to the chin.
Raffles, as promised, turned up on the next occasion provided with a ferret and a gun, and all difficulties were smoothed over with the farmer. Thus Jack Bourne took his post as the noble British sportsman just behind the Lodestone Moat, whilst Raffles, with his ferret, worked the bank, which was honey-combed with rabbit-holes. As the rabbits scurried out before the ferret, Jack blazed away noisily, and occasionally he had the pleasure of seeing a rabbit turning a somersault as it made its last bound. Certainly, Jack was not a dead shot, but when he contemplated the slain lying stark on the flanks of the bank, he felt the throaty joy of the slaughtering British schoolboy. He counted out to his worthy henchman four sixpences for the four slain with all the pride of the elephant-hunter paying his beaters yards of brass wire and calico. Raffles was properly grateful, of course.
Then, as their acquaintance progressed, there were little competitions between Jack and Raffles at artificial pigeon-shooting, Raffles having fixed up the apparatus, and Jack, from the twenty-five yards’ mark, occasionally winged his clay pigeon. It was very good sport in Jack’s opinion. Further, that little “’ouse” which Raffles knew of also soon made the acquaintance of Jack, and he and Raffles on rainy afternoons snatched the fearful joys of hasty “hundreds up” or “fifties up,” just as time allowed, Jack did not find the cue quite so sticky nor the charms of stale tobacco quite so unlovely as he had expected. The landlord, who marked for the two worthies, told our young gentleman that he had “a pretty ’and for the long jenny,” and Jack felt he could not do less than order a little of his favourite beverage in return for his good opinion. And thus as ever. Under the expert tuition of Raffles, Jack became a little more of a “man” every day, and a little less of a decent fellow. He smoked, he could call for a “small port” in quite an off-hand fashion, he had played “shell out” with loafers at the little “’ouse,” and he began to know a little more of betting, “gee-gees,” and other kindred matters, than an average young fellow should know.