The friendship of Cotton and Todd was thus renewed and cemented—with Gus’s bluest blood. Gus gave Jim some good advice about the schools, which made Jim feel a bit dubious.
“Chuck your Bohn’s cribs and your keys under the grate, and show up your own work.”
“Footle, you mean, Gus.”
“All right, footle, then. I know all our own private personal beaks would rather have a fellow’s own work, if of fair quality, than all the weirdest screeds from any crib whatsoever.”
Jim made the experiment, very gingerly, be it said, but did show up his own work, and from Corker to Merishall all the beaks were civil to him. Gus’s reputation as a prophet was established, for Corker himself seemed pleased with the Cottonian version of Herodotus.
“Rather rough in parts, Cotton,” said the old man, beaming on the shrinking Jim; “but at least you’ve not been ploughing Herodotus with the help of your old ass, Bohn.”
Jim’s effort, however, came too late to affect in any degree his position in the Fifth. When the lists of the Easter term were published, Cotton was the last, deservedly, of the form, but A.V.R. Todd was the seventh. This was an eye-opener to many in the form, but the result sent Gus into the seventh heaven of delight. Taylor came specially into Todd’s modest sanctum to congratulate him, and Corker sent an extra special letter to Todd senior, saying all manner of sweet things about Gus. He put the highest mark of his favour upon the delighted Gus by asking him to dinner—a very great honour, but a dreadful ordeal. Gus was wonderfully nervous as he commenced his soup. How do I know? Well, I had been asked, I believe, to give the bewildered Gus a little countenance. Gus went home, a day or two later, to the bosom of his family, where he was treated with the utmost honour. He redeemed the watch from the jeweller, and fulfilled his own promise to that worthy man. All through the holidays he basked in the smiles of his proud father, and rode that gentleman’s pedigree hack. Corker’s highest mark of appreciation was to give you a dinner; with Gus’s father it was to let you ride his own horse.
A LITTLE ROUGH JUSTICE
Quietly and without any fuss the few details were arranged, and next morning four of us filtered down to the old milling ground, on whose green sod so many wrongs had been righted in the old times, and where I sincerely hoped Phil would yet redress, however imperfectly, another.
Of course, we all know fisticuffs are not what they were; for every strenuous mill of to-day there used to be fifty in the old days, and the green turf which formerly was the scene of terrific combats between fellows of the Upper School now only quaked under the martial hoof of, say, Rogers, the prize fag of Biffen’s, and Poulett, the champion egg poacher of Corker’s, and other humble followers of the “fancy.” Milling as an institution in the schools may write up “Ichabod” above its gates.