’You fellows, by George! you shall eat the goose, I tell you. You’ve spoilt everything, and I tell you, whether you like it or not, you shall have apples with it, and sage and onions too. I don’t ask for thanks. And I propose to post outposts in the wood to keep watch.’
He wanted us to draw lots again. His fun had entirely departed from him; all he thought of was seeing the goose out of the pot. I had a feeling next to hatred for one who could talk of goose. Temple must have shared it.
’We ’ve no real captain now dear old Heriot ‘s gone,’ he said. ’The school’s topsy-turvy: we’re like a lot of things rattled in a box. Oh, dear! how I do like a good commander. On he goes, you after him, never mind what happens.’
A pair of inseparable friends, Happitt and Larkins, nicknamed Happy-go-Lucky, were rolling arm-in-arm, declaring they were perfectly sober, and, for a proof of it, trying to direct their feet upon a lump of chalk, and marching, and missing it. Up came Chaunter to them: ‘Fat goose?’ he said-no more. Both the boys rushed straight as far as they could go; both sung out, ‘I’m done!’ and they were.
Temple and I contemplated these proceedings as matters belonging to the ordinary phenomena of feasting. We agreed that gentlemen were always the last to drop, and were assured, therefore, of our living out the field; but I dreaded the moment of the goose’s appearance, and I think he did also. Saddlebank’s pertinacity in withholding the cool ginger-beer and the apples offended us deeply; we should have conspired against him had we reposed confidence in our legs and our tongues.
Twilight was around us. The tramp-children lay in little bundles in one tent; another was being built by the women and the girl. Overhead I counted numbers of stars, all small; and lights in the valley-lights of palaces to my imagination. Stars and tramps seemed to me to go together. Houses imprisoned us, I thought a lost father was never to be discovered by remaining in them. Plunged among dark green leaves, smelling wood-smoke, at night; at morning waking up, and the world alight, and you standing high, and marking the hills where you will see the next morning and the next, morning after morning, and one morning the dearest person in the world surprising you just before you wake: I thought this a heavenly pleasure. But, observing the narrowness of the tents, it struck me there would be snoring companions. I felt so intensely sensitive, that the very idea of a snore gave me tremours and qualms: it was associated with the sense of fat. Saddlebank had the lid of the pot in his hand; we smelt the goose, and he cried, ’Now for supper; now for it! Halloa, you fellows!’
‘Bother it, Saddlebank, you’ll make Catman hear you,’ said Temple, wiping his forehead.
I perspired coldly.
‘Catman! He’s been at it for the last hour and a half,’ Saddlebank replied.