Roy Glashan's Library
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Serialised in The Children's Newspaper,
The Amalgamated Press, London, 12 Jun–18 Sep 1920

Reprinted in Lloyd's School Yarns, #4, United Newspapers Ltd., London, 1921

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2020
Version Date: 2020-09-15
Produced by Keith Emmett and Roy Glashan

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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34

The New Broom

"I'M the new broom," said Dr. Colston, and, though his voice was stern, there was a merry twinkle in his keen grey eyes. "I'm going to sweep clean. Just bear that in mind, all you boys, and it will save a heap of trouble."

He paused and looked round the big school-room and the hundreds of eyes all fixed upon him.

"There! That's all for the present," he added. "Clear out, the lot of you, and have half an hour's breather before supper."

With a thunder of feet on bare boards the hundred and twenty boys of Claycroft School hurried out into the quadrangle. Among them was a fair-haired boy of about fourteen. He was tall for his age, had a good pair of shoulders, and a resolute look in his blue eyes. But he did not seem to know any of the others, and was looking about as if he were not quite sure where to go or what to do.

A hand fell on his shoulder, and he turned quickly to find himself face to face with the Head.

"You're Netley, aren't you?" asked Dr. Colston.

"Yes, sir."

"I thought so. You are like your father. When did you arrive?"

"About five, sir."

"Know any of the other boys?"

"Not yet, sir."

"You will soon," said the Doctor, with a smile. "I will see you in the morning, and give you a short examination to find what form you will be in. Now go ahead and make friends. You'll find plenty."

"Thank you, sir," replied Jack Netley, and followed the rest.

"Hi, you new chap, what's your name?"

The speaker was a big, thick-checked, heavily-built boy, at least a year older than Jack. He wore a fancy waistcoat, patent leather boots and a high collar. His cap was on the back of his head.

"Netley," Jack answered. "What's yours?"

"What's mine, you brat? Don't you know it's cheek for a new kid to ask a three-termer his name?"

"Sorry. I didn't," Jack answered easily.

"You jolly well know now," returned the other, scowling. "What was Coaly talking to you about?"

"Coaly? You mean Dr. Colston! Oh, nothing particular."

The other reddened.

"Look here! Don't you try to be funny. What was Coaly saying to you?"

Jack was getting rather bored with this catechism.

"If you want to know, he told me he would examine me in the morning to see what form I'd be in."

"He said more than that. He said something about your father."

Jack stared.

"If you were listening, you know as much as I do," he answered scornfully, and turned away.

The big fellow seized him by the arm.

"You cheeky young—" he began furiously.

That was as far as he had got when Jack closed and back-heeled him, and down he went on the gravel with a bump that must have jarred every tooth in his head.

There was a peal of delighted laughter.

"And wasn't I waiting for it?" chuckled the owner of the laugh, a slim youth with the reddest of red hair and a pair of the merriest blue eyes. "Get up with ye, Manny, and let Netley do it again."

But the big fellow's tumble had cooled him considerably. He got up slowly, and went off muttering threats of vengeance.


He went off muttering threats of vengeance.

"Good for you, Netley," said the red-haired boy. "'Tis the very best way ye could have begun at Claycroft. I'm thinking the first thing the New Broom will sweep up will be trash like Mark Mansford."

"He seems rather a rotter," said Jack.

"He's worse. It's a cad he is," answered the Irish boy, and now he was not smiling. "And there's more than one of the same kidney."

"But there are lots of—of others," ventured Jack.

"Heaps—praise the pigs! Your name's Netley, isn't it? Mine's Brough. Paddy they call me. Come along! I'll show ye round."

"That's very decent of you," said Jack gratefully.

"'Deed, then, I owe it ye for the way ye sat on Mansford. I had trouble with him myself, last term, when I was a new kid."

"Have you only been here one term?"

"Long enough to know my way about," laughed Paddy. "Here's where you and me live."

"What a jolly old house!" said Jack, looking up at the walls of mellow red brick and tall twisted chimneys.

"Claycroft's an old school, Netley," explained Paddy. "And a real fine old place till that last head, Phillimore, let it down."

"I know," said Jack.

"How d'ye know?" enquired Paddy.

"My father told me. He—he knows Dr. Colston."

"And what's he think of him?"

"He vows he's a topper."

"Sure, he looks it," agreed Paddy. "Here's our dormitory," he continued. "At least, it's mine, and I'm thinking you'll be in the same. C's its letter. Ah, here's your bed, with your name over it. Next mine, too, bedad."

"That's luck for me," said Jack, very pleased. "Is Mansford here?"

"He is not. He's next door, in D. He'll not touch you now, Netley, for ye've put the wind up him. All the same"—Brough turned suddenly serious—"I'd keep me eye lifting. He'll be waiting his chance to take it out of ye, and he'll do it just when you're not watching."

A noisy bell cut Paddy short.

"There's supper. Come along into Hall," he said.

And Jack followed down the broad bare staircase, through a long, flagged passage, into a fine old hall with a vaulted roof beamed with black rafters.

Scores of boys were pouring in and taking their seats on the oak benches around long tables, where bread-and-butter was heaped on great white-and-blue platters.

Paddy showed Jack where to sit, and the two shared a pot of jam and talked hard.

"Are you a dry bob or a wet bob?" asked Paddy presently.

"I'm fond of cricket, but I like boats better than anything," was Jack's answer.

"Good! I'll take ye for a row tomorrow."

Neither of them noticed that Mark Mansford, who sat a little way off on the other side of the table, was listening to them.

The Genial Stranger

CLAYCROFT stands on a hill just above the River Strane and only two miles from the big estuary where it curves through the great Whitewater marshes into the North Sea. Each dormitory has its own boat, a good safe tub, and there are, of course, racing craft besides.

The first day of the summer term was a half, and the minute dinner was over Jack and Paddy made off to the landing. Jack was feeling particularly cheerful, for he had been placed in the same form as Paddy, the Lower Fourth, and he liked Paddy and Paddy's pals immensely. They had christened him "Nettles," and that was the name he was to be known by for all of his schooldays.

"'Tis a grand day. We'll pull right down, and I'll show ye the sea," said Paddy, as he hurried ahead into the boat-house.

Then he stopped short.

"Why, where's the boat?" Jack heard him cry.

A peal of jeering laughter answered him.

"Sucks for you, Redhead!" came Mansford's voice, and there he was outside, lying at full length in the stern of C dormitory boat, with his chum, a pasty-faced youth named Harney, at the oars.

"You've no right to our boat, Mansford!" cried Paddy hotly.

"I've got it anyhow," sneered Mansford. "Pull on, Harney."

The boat moved off. Paddy was raging, but Jack put a restraining hand on his arm.

"Shut up, Paddy! Don't you see that's just what he's after—getting a rise out of you?"

"It's rotten!" growled Paddy. "He doesn't really want the boat. He's only done it to score off us."

"Of course he has! Let him go. We'll have a walk."

He dragged Paddy away, and they started down the bank. Mansford kept on jeering at them, but Jack paid no attention at all, and would not let Paddy do so either.

"Rather a sell, eh?"

The big, deep voice came from behind them, and both turned quickly, to find themselves face to face with a curious-looking person.

A great, gaunt man he was, dressed in an ancient suit of tweeds, and wearing big hobnailed boots, thick worsted stockings, and a battered old felt hat. But it was his face which fascinated the boys. It was brown as an Indian's. Indeed, his skin was almost the colour of old mahogany, but his eyes were as blue as Jack's.

Right across his forehead, from one side to the other, ran a long, white scar. His hair was snow-white, and there were deep wrinkles under his eyes, yet for all that he did not look old.

But in spite of his quaint appearance and old clothes, both the boys knew instinctively that he was very much a gentleman.

"That chap got ahead of you?" he continued, with a smile which lit up his face very pleasantly.

"Yes, sir," said Jack simply.

"Can't you get another boat?"

"No, sir. We are not supposed to take boats belonging to other dormitories."

"But that fellow has, and you want to get square. Well, now, suppose I lend you a boat?"

Jack stared. Paddy spoke quickly:

"It would be mighty kind."

"Well, I will. Come along."

He marched off at a great pace upstream. Less than half a mile above the school the path cut through a belt of heavy trees, and to the right, on the slope, Jack saw a small, very ancient-looking house with a thatched roof and a quaint black-and-white front.

Paddy pulled up short.

"Is it you that have taken Gidley Grange, sir?" he exclaimed.

"Why not? Oh, you're thinking of the ghost! Bless you, I'm not afraid of ghosts!"

He went forward, and they followed. In the little dock inside the old boat-house lay a brand new and beautifully built boat. The varnish was still unscratched, and there was not a stain to be seen on the neat green cushions.

"There you are. Go ahead!" said the stranger, in his curt way. "If anyone asks, say Captain Gunn lent you the boat. When you've done with her, put her back where you found her. Have a good time."

He nodded, and was gone before the boys could even thank him.

Among the Mud-banks

PADDY stopped pulling, and let the boat drift.

"And what do ye think of it, Jack?" he asked.

Jack looked round at the endless maze of mud-banks which were known as the Whitewater Flats.

The higher parts were covered with thick green samphire and other salt-water growth. Here and there were patches of dull-green reeds. But all the lower part of the banks, now baring as the ebb tide flowed off them, were smooth grey silt which sloped steeply to lanes of muddy water, twisting in and out in miles of narrow channels.

Sandpipers and other small sea birds flitted from bank to bank, and their low, twittering cries were the only sounds that broke the stillness of the quiet afternoon.

"It's the sort of place that would grow on you," said Jack slowly.

"You've got it, Jack," answered Paddy quickly. "It does grow on you. It simply fascinates me."

"You'd want to know your way about," said Jack. "I should think it would be jolly easy to get lost."

"You're right. There's scores of miles of these channels. And the mud! They say there's no bottom to it in most places."

"Looks a bit sticky," allowed Jack. He stiffened suddenly. "What was that?"

"A gull, I expect."

"Rats! That wasn't a gull. It was someone shouting. Listen! There it is again."

"Bedad, ye are right!" Paddy always got very Irish when he became excited. "It's meself can hear it now."

"Help! Help, I say!" The voice, thin with distance, came pealing across the flats.

"All right. Hold on! We're coming!" shouted Jack.

"He's over that way," said Jack, pointing to the south. "Here, give me the sculls. I'll pull."

"Then I'll steer," said Paddy. "It's this creek that we'll have to go up. What's happened to the fellow, I wonder?"

"Stuck in the mud, I expect," replied Jack, driving in the blades and sending the boat up the creek at a great pace.

It was one of the smaller side channels, and the tide being about half ebb, the banks were a good six feet above the water, so, even when standing up, the boys could not see over them. Like all these side creeks, it wound in and out like a snake.

"Sing out again," said Jack.

"Where are you?" shouted Paddy.

"Here!" came the distant answer. "Hurry!"

"Where the mischief is he?" growled Jack. "Seems to come from the west now."

"'Tis the way this old creek winds. Steady, Jack; 'tis getting narrower."

Jack slackened a little.

"Hurry!" came the shout again.

Jack tugged till the sculls bent. The boat went foaming along. She drove into rather wider water, then, with a slight squashing sound, ran smack on a hidden mud-bank and stuck fast.

With an impatient exclamation Jack sprang to his feet, drove the oar down, and pushed. The blade sank so deep into the mud that he very nearly went overboard on top of it.

It took the combined efforts of them both to lug the oar out of the glue-like stuff.

"We've done it now," said Paddy in dismay. "How'll we ever get to him now?"

"We'll have to get out and shove," said Jack.

"Get out, is it? If ye do ye'll never get in again. Sure this mud would swallow ten of ye."

Jack felt that Paddy was right. There was a splash of oars.

"Hurray! there's another boat," cried Paddy.

Sure enough, a moment later a second boat appeared in the larger channel just beyond. On its bow was a big C, and in it sat Mark Mansford and Harney.

Mark burst into a loud laugh.

"Ha, ha!" he roared. "I thought we'd fool them. Stuck in the mud like two pigs in a pound. Watch their faces, Harney. Don't they look savage?"

Suddenly he stopped laughing.

"This'll give you a lesson, you two brats," he said viciously. "Here you'll jolly well stay till the tide rises, and that won't be for another eight hours." He turned to his companion. "Pull on, Harney. We'll get back to tea."

Harney set to pulling. Mansford waved his hand in derision.

"By-bye," he called. "Pleasant dreams. You can think of the jolly row you'll get in when you come back in the middle of the night."

No Laughing Matter

PADDY BROUGH sat glaring at Mansford's boat as it moved rapidly away. For once even his ready Irish tongue failed him, and he could find nothing to say.

Nettles burst suddenly into a shout of laughter, and Paddy swung round on him almost fiercely.

"What are ye laughing at, ye great gaby?"

"If you'd only a looking-glass you'd know, Paddy. It was your face."

"Let me tell ye 'tis no laughing matter," said Paddy, and there was a queer glint in his eyes. "Ye don't know the row we'll be in for call-over, to say nothing of gates."

"We can't help it," replied Nettles, with a shrug, "and, anyhow, it's better to laugh than to cry."

Paddy smiled rather grimly.

"It's more like crying ye'll feel than laughing before we get off this bank," he prophesied. "Twelve hours we have to wait, and not a mouthful to eat. And 'tis cold it will be out on this marsh before morning."

Nettles looked up whimsically.

"It's not that that's worrying you, Paddy. It's the feeling that Mansford's got one up on us."

"I'll not say it isn't," allowed Paddy. "Not that he'll go crowing about it, mind ye. He knows the row he'd be in. But we can't be telling of the dirty trick he's served us. He knows that, too."

Nettles' face grew graver.

"That's true enough, Paddy. And it makes it all the worse. But, I say, are you sure we can't get off? It would be the biggest kind of a score if we could."

"Will ye tell me how?" said Paddy scornfully. "'Tis half a mile we are from any ground ye could step on."

Nettles looked all round, but had to confess that the case was hopeless. It was all the more maddening because they were only a few yards from quite deep water.

The tide sucked slowly away, and the shadows lengthened. A cool breeze began to blow and to carry big clouds across the blue of the evening sky.

"I believe 'tis going to rain," said Paddy presently.

"Phew! I hope not," said Nettles, who was already feeling chilly.

Time passed, and it grew nearly dark. The great marsh lay empty and desolate under a canopy of grey cloud. Even the sea-birds had stopped screaming.

Then the rain began. At first a thin drizzle, but soon heavier, and sweeping in thick gusts. The boys, who were clad in shorts and jerseys only, were soon soaked, and their teeth began to chatter with cold.

Nettles looked at his watch. It was not eight yet. It must be another seven hours at least before there was a chance of getting off.

He got up and swung his arms like a bus driver, slapping his chest to try to get the blood moving a little.

Then suddenly he stopped, and stood still as a statue.

Paddy, crouching in the bottom of the boat, looked up.

"What is it?" he asked hoarsely. "Oars!" said Nettles. "Oars! Don't you hear them?"

Paddy was on his feet in a flash. "Shout!" he cried.

Shout they did at the top of their voices, then waited breathlessly for a reply.

It came. A strong voice answered through the misty gloom:

"Who's there? What's up?"

"We're stuck on the mud!" shouted back Nettles. "Here for the night if we can't get off!"

"Where's 'here'?" came the reply.

"In this cross channel. South of you."

"Right. I'm coming."

Nettles drew a deep breath.

"What luck!" he said.

But Paddy shook his head.

"Don't be too sure, Nettles. I don't see how anyone can get near enough to help us."

Nettles did not answer. He, too, had serious doubts.

The oar-beats came still nearer. Nettles shouted again. In a minute or two the shape of a boat loomed dimly in the narrow channel. A boy in a fisherman's jersey and sea-boots was all her crew.

He came on cautiously, crawling forward till he reached the deep little pool about ten yards away.

There he stopped, and, shipping his sculls, stood up.

"My word, you're in the worst of it," he said. His voice was big and strong like himself, though he did not look to be more than fourteen years old.

"It's pretty bad," replied Nettles. "The mud's so soft we can't push off. We can't step out, either."

"Lucky you didn't try it," said the other, curtly. "The stuff you're on wouldn't hold a chap, even on pattens. I'll have to warp you off—if I can. Here, catch!"

He stooped, picked up a coil of rope and sent it whizzing across. Nettles caught it.


He picked up a coil of rope and sent it whizzing across.

"Make fast!" ordered the other, and Nettles did so.

There was just light enough left to see that the other boy was strapping something on his feet. He pushed his little craft towards the bank and tried the mud; then Nettles and Paddy saw him step out. They saw, too, that he had flat boards fastened to his boots. They were the mud pattens which marshmen use.

They held their breath as they watched him struggle up the slimy slope. If he had not known exactly what he was about, he could never have done it. They saw that he was carrying the loose end of the rope with him, and that it was attached to a small kedge anchor.

This he planted in a patch of reeds on the firmer ground at the top of the bank.

"Now then!" he cried. "Get to it! Heave!"

Nettles and Paddy laid hold of the rope, and started to pull for all they were worth.

Nothing happened.

"The keel's too deep in the mud," explained their new friend, who seemed to know all about it. "Get back towards the bow."

They did so, and pulled like fury. The taut rope twanged, but the boat remained immovable.

"Sway her a bit. Rock her from side to side."

Nettles and Paddy obeyed. There were queer sucking sounds in the mud below the keel. They hauled again.

"She's moving!" yelled Nettles. "Pull, Paddy!"

The pair pulled till their muscles cracked, and inch by inch the boat slid out of the cradle of mire.

"Good for you!" cried the fisher boy. "Once more!"

A final tremendous tug, and all of a sudden the boat shot forward, so suddenly that both Nettles and Paddy came down flop on the bottom boards. When they picked themselves up the boat was floating free.

"Hurray!" cried Nettles.

"You're shouting too soon," was the fisher lad's retort. "We ain't back in the river yet, and the tide's running off sharp."

What Tom Wanted

WITHOUT the help of their new friend Nettles and Paddy would never have reached the main stream. But, dark as it was by this time, he seemed to be able to smell his way out, and presently they were safe in the broad channel.

"Can you find your way, or shall I come with you?" asked the boy.

"We can find it all right," Nettles answered. "And—and we're tremendously obliged. To tell you the truth, I don't believe we could have stuck it till morning."

"Glad I happened along," said the other. "Good-night."

"Wait," said Nettles, who had been fishing in his pocket. "I say, do—do you mind taking this? It's—it's all I've got, but you're welcome."

The other, who was in his boat, holding on to the gunwale of the other boat, drew away.

"I don't want your money!" he said curtly.

"I'm sorry!" said Nettles, frankly. "I'm tremendously sorry! But you're not going off without telling us your name?"

"Tom Cosby's my name," replied the other, more quietly.

"And where do you live?" asked Nettles.

"I'm Dan Cosby's son, down to Marsea."

He paused a moment.

"See here," he said, speaking with a slight hesitation, "have you any old books you don't want?"

"Heaps!" said Nettles. "What sort?"

"Any sort," he said, and there was a curiously eager ring in his voice. "Books about other countries—that's what I like. Or any old school books."

"Right you are. You shall have some in a week," promised Nettles.

"I'll be no end obliged," said Tom Cosby gratefully. "Goodnight."

"A mighty nice fellow!" said Paddy, as the dinghy shot away.

"A topper!" agreed Nettles. "Pull on, Paddy."

The wind was behind them. They made good time, and soon grew warmer. When they reached the Gidley Grange boat-house a big voice hailed them.

"You're late, you fellows."

Nettles explained.

"Stuck on the mud, eh? What were you doing up that side creek?"

"We heard someone calling for help, sir."

"Who was it?" demanded Captain Gunn.

Nettles was silent. Though the captain was not a master, it was not playing the game to tell about Mark Mansford's mean trick.

The big man grunted.

"All right!" he said. "Come up to the house and have a hot drink. Yes, come on! You're so late already it won't make any odds. If necessary, I'll give you a note to your master."

He took them to the house. A grand fire was blazing in the big oak-raftered sitting-room. It was a wonderful place, full of heads of wild creatures, great strange-looking stone images, and Indian weapons, and was carpeted with magnificent skin rugs.

He rang for his housekeeper.

"Mrs. Hussey, bring some hot cocoa and cake, will you? These boys are soaked and half starved."

Big cups of hot cocoa and a plum cake appeared as if by magic.

"Help yourselves," said the captain genially, "and wait till I come back. I shan't be long."

A Highly Irregular Business

DR. COLSON sat very upright behind the big desk in his study. Stokes, the school porter, a square-set, soldierly-looking man, stood opposite. The faces of both were very grave.

"We must not wait any longer, Stokes," said the doctor. "We must get help from the village and organise a search-party."

"Very good, sir; I'll go at once," said Stokes. "Only, I wish I knew which way to start. It seems funny no one saw them go off."

There was a tap at the door. A maid appeared.

"Captain Gunn to see you, sir."

"That's the gent from Gidley," explained Stokes.

"Show him in, Mary," said the doctor.

The captain came towering through the doorway. In a huge oilskin he looked gigantic.

"Good-evening, Dr. Colston," he said. "I've come to tell you your two lost boys are at my house."

A look of immense relief crossed the doctor's face.

"The young scamps!" he said. "I was organising a search-party. What happened to them?"

"There's been some funny business, and, as I know precious well they won't tell you, I came ahead to explain. To put it quite shortly, they were trapped on the mud down in the Whitewater Marsh, and it was one of your boys who trapped them. They were rescued by a fisher lad, Tom Cosby, a real smart fellow."

"I knows who it was who tricked 'em!" growled the sergeant. "It were Mister Mansford."

"Right," said Captain Gunn. "But why do you say so?"

"Because I seed him a-trying his tricks on young Mr. Netley yesterday, and Mr. Netley gave him what for."

"Oh, Mansford, was it? Yes, I was warned about him," said the doctor grimly. A puzzled look appeared upon his face. "But I can't punish him on your information, Captain Gunn."

"Of course you can't," returned the captain gruffly. "I want you to let me do it."

The doctor stared.

Captain Gunn chuckled.

"Quite easy, sir," he said. "I'll keep the two youngsters at my house, and Stokes here can let it be known in the school that I have heard from the fisher boy, Tom Cosby, that Netley's boat is stuck on the mud, and that if it isn't got off the two boys will probably be dead of exposure by morning. That'll put the fear into this Mansford fellow. Then let Stokes say that anyone who has any idea where they are had better come and guide the search-party. My notion is that Mansford and his pal will come along quick enough; and I'll bet they'll have a trip they won't forget in a hurry. Listen to it!"

A gust made the windows rattle. The rain sluiced upon the panes.

Dr. Colston looked at the captain. A slow smile dawned on his face.

"This is highly irregular, Captain Gunn," he remarked.

"Highly!" chuckled the big man. "When do we start?"

The doctor turned to Stokes, whose face was one broad grin.

"I think you might follow out the captain's suggestion, Stokes."

"Very good, sir," said Stokes, and disappeared with great speed.

The doctor and the captain were left together.

"This is very good of you, Captain Gunn," said the doctor.

"Not a bit. I like those boys. That young Netley—where does he come from?"

"He is Burton Netley's son."

"What! Netley, of Netley & Strong?"

"Yes; the great shipbuilding firm. Do you know him?"

There was a queer look on Captain Gunn's gaunt brown face.

"I—I have met him," he said slowly—"years ago. But I wouldn't knew him now if I saw him. Nor he me."

The doctor cast a quick glance at the other. It occurred to him that there was something behind all this—something he did not quite understand.

"Burton Netley is a fine fellow," he said quietly. "He is one of my greatest friends. It was through him that I became headmaster here at Claycroft."

The Score is Settled

"WHAT'S that, Stokes? Young Paddy Brough and Netley stuck out on the mud in the marsh?"

The speaker was Terry Drake, a clever youngster who, though higher in the school, had a liking for Paddy and his new chum.

"That's what they say, sir. Someone brought the news up to the master, and he told me to come round to see if there was anyone in the school knew where they were to be found."

There was a stir around the dormitory.

"Beast of a night for the poor kids to be out!" remarked the captain of the dormitory, whose name was Earle.

"A terrible night, sir!" agreed Stokes gravely. "I doubt they'll live through it if they aren't got out before morning."

"Why didn't the chap who found 'em get 'em out?" questioned another voice.

It was Mansford's.

"I don't know nothing about that, sir," said Stokes. "Maybe he couldn't find them. You see, it's likely the tide's left 'em high and dry on the mud, and as the mud's too soft to walk on without pattens, they wouldn't be able to help themselves."

"Couple of young fools! They oughtn't to be trusted with a boat!" growled Mansford.

"You were down on the river yourself, Mansford," cut in Earle—"you and Harney. Did you see anything of them?"

"Yes, I saw them down towards the marsh," allowed Mansford sulkily.

"If you know where they are, sir, you'd best come and lend a hand," said the sergeant quickly. "It will be like murder if they're left there all night."

"I don't know where they are!" snapped Mansford.

"You were the last to see them, Mansford," said Earle. "You and Harney had better go and help look for them. I'll come, too."

"What, on a night like this?" exclaimed Mansford.

"If I can go, you jolly well can," replied Earle curtly. "Get up!"

Earle's word was law in his dormitory. Mansford saw there was no help for it. Muttering angrily, he got up and began to dress.

Chuckling inwardly, Stokes went away, and reported progress. Captain Gunn laughed openly, and there was a smile on the doctor's own face.

"Earle's a fine fellow," said the doctor to Captain Gunn. "But you can make some excuse to leave him behind, captain?"

"Boat won't hold more than three," replied the other promptly. "You leave it to me, doctor."

"What about yourself?" asked the doctor.

"Don't worry about me. I shall enjoy it. Bless you, I've been out on worse nights many a time."

Presently the three boys appeared, Earle very much all there, Mansford and Harney sullen and scowling, but also, and quite clearly, badly scared.

The captain glanced at them.

"Come on!" he said briefly, and, with a good-night to the doctor, led them out into the storm.

By this time it was blowing great guns. They could hardly stand when they reached the boat-house.

"I say, we can't go out in this," said Mansford, in a trembling voice.

The captain gave his great bark of a laugh.

"In with you." he said—"you and Harney. Earle, we shan't need you. There's not room for four.

"No," as Earle began to remonstrate. "You go up to the house and wait. Three's plenty."

Earle knew an order when he heard it. He helped push the boat off, watched it go thumping away into the teeth of the short waves, then went up to the Grange.

Mrs. Hussey opened the door, and Earle walked right in on top of Nettles and Paddy.

For a moment he was so taken aback that he just stood and stared.

"You young beggars!" he said at last. "How the mischief did you get here? I thought you were out on the marsh."

Nettles made haste to explain.

When Nettles had finished, Earle threw back his head and burst into a shout of laughter.

"I see it now," he said. "Your friend the captain caught on to the game and has taken those two fat frauds out to give 'em a lesson."

"What two?" asked Nettles, puzzled.

"Mansford and Harney. He's taken 'em down the river to hunt for you in the marsh."

Paddy and Nettles glanced at one another. Then both went off at once and laughed till the tears ran down their cheeks.

At last they recovered enough to offer Earle cocoa and cake. It was now nearly ten, and Earle decided that they had all better go back to the school and turn in. So, asking Mrs. Hussey to give their thanks to the captain, they went back, and soon all three were safely between the sheets.

Everyone was asleep, and Earle soon followed the general example. Nettles and Paddy lay silent as two mice, waiting eagerly. An hour passed before their patience was rewarded. Then the door opened softly, and two drenched and shivering figures came tiptoeing in, leaving trails of water on the boards as they passed.

They were done to the world. They had not even heart left to scowl at Paddy and Nettles as they passed. Paddy leaned across and whispered: "I'm thinking the score's settled, Nettles."

"I'm satisfied if you are," was the answer.

The Cry in the Wood

THE score might have been settled so far as Nettles and Paddy were concerned, but for Mansford and Harney the worst was still to come. Next morning the story was all over the school.

A little before dinner that day Terry Drake, who had been very busy with pen and paper ever since school finished, proceeded to pin up a large sheet of paper on the Lower Fourth notice board, and inside five minutes almost the whole form were crowded round, reading his verses, which dealt with the experiences of Mansford and Harney the previous night.

"Hurray for our pet poet!"

"Topping, Terry! How do you do it?"

"Someone fetch Mansford. He must read this."

In the midst of the riot the door opened.

"What's all this about?" came a deep voice.

Dead silence fell as the doctor walked forward to the board.

When he had finished reading the verses he turned to Terry.

"H'm! I shall know now where to find talent for our school magazine. But don't rub it in too much, Drake."

He nodded, and was gone.

"My word, he's a good sort!" said Terry! "I thought I was for the high jump that time."

"But he's right about rubbing it in," said Nettles. "It's a bit rough, Terry."

The dinner bell clanging out cut short any further talk, and all went rushing to the Hall.

Mansford, of course, must have known of the verses, but if he did he did not show it. At any rate, he and Harney kept very much to themselves, and Nettles, left alone, began thoroughly to enjoy his school life.

On the following Saturday Nettles caught Paddy after breakfast.

"The books have come," he said. "Can't we take them down to Marsea today?"

"Sure we can if we can get leave off call-over this afternoon. Come on. We'll be asking the doctor."

Dr. Colston was in his study. Nettles explained his reason for wishing to visit Marsea, and the doctor willingly gave them leave.

"Only you'll go by land this time, Netley," he said, with a smile, "not by boat. And you and Brough must be back by supper."

They promised, and immediately after dinner hurried off.

Marsea, a fishing village, lies on the north side of the broad Whitewater Estuary, and when the boys got there they had no difficulty in finding Dan Cosby's cottage.

Dan, a big, quiet man with a close-cropped yellow beard, was mending nets in front of the house, and Tom was with him. Tom's blue eyes lit up at the sight of the visitors, but brightened still more when Nettles gave him the books.

"I can't say how much obliged I am," he said earnestly.

"Tom's mad on reading," said Dan, with a slow smile. "Come on in, young gents. We can find you a mug of tea. You'll need it after that there tramp."

The cottage was tiny—just two rooms and a kitchen. But in spite of the fact that Dan was a widower, it was neat as a captain's cabin. The tea was hot and strong, and there was fresh bread with creamy butter and a pot of excellent jam. Afterwards Dan took them down to the "hard," and showed them his drifter, which he had just had fitted with an oil engine.

They were so interested they forgot all about the time, and Nettles got the shock of his life when he looked at his watch and found it was half-past five.

"Supper's at half-past six, and we've only an hour to do five miles," he said, in real dismay. "And we promised the Head faithfully we'd be back in time."

"Ay, it's five by the road," said Dan, "but there's a cut across the fields as'll save you more'n a mile. Tom, you show the young gents. You needn't go no farther than the stile into Stoke Woods. 'Tis all plane-sailing beyond."

Tom nodded, and they went off at once. They soon reached the stile.

"Thanks no end. Good-bye," said Nettles, and was over like a shot, followed by Paddy.

Tom shouted after them:

"Mind you keep to the path. Squire Sterne, he don't like folk coming through here, and his keepers is down like a hawk on anyone as trespasses into the woods."

Nettles paused a moment.

"We're all right on the path?"

"Ay; 'tis a right of way."

Nettles waved his hand to Tom and led the way at a sharp trot. Next moment, with a great rattle of wings, a big cock pheasant flew heavily across the path, and a minute later a hare crossed.

"Sure, the woods is fair humming with game!" exclaimed Paddy.

"No wonder the squire objects to this path being used," replied Nettles. "I'll bet poachers have a high old time here."

He glanced at his watch.

"We're making up time in fine style," he said cheerfully, and almost as he spoke the quiet of the summer evening was rent by a thin, pitiful scream.

"What is it?" demanded Paddy.

"It's a hare," Nettles answered—"a hare in a trap of some sort. Listen! There it is again. Oh, I say, Paddy, I can't stand this. The poor little beggar must be in a gin, though how anyone could set one of those filthy things in a place like this I can't imagine." And he made a dash to look for the victim.

He had not far to go. Barely thirty yards away a fine hare was struggling frantically.

"It's not a gin, after all," said Nettles. "It's a snare, only it's been so rottenly set that the hare's got one leg in as well as its head. Hold it while I get the wire off."

Paddy did so, and Nettles was in the act of loosening the twisted brass wire when a shadow loomed across, and, looking up, he saw a big, hard-faced man in breeches and gaiters and carrying a gun.

"Ah, ye young varmint," he remarked with evident satisfaction, "so I've got ye at last."

Nettles's indignation got the better of him.

"Do you mean to say you were standing here, watching that poor creature in her agony?" he demanded. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself!"

The fellow's face darkened.

"You impudent young cub. I'll teach you to talk to me in that way. You wait till you're in Squire's study. I'll lay he'll make you whistle t'other side of your mouth."

As he spoke he stooped, and seized Nettles roughly by the collar.

That was quite enough for Paddy. All his hot Irish blood boiled up, and like a flash he was on the keeper, and, twisting his left leg behind the man's right, flung his weight forward. The keeper, quite taken by surprise, went down heavily.

"Come on, Nettles!" cried Paddy, and the two were off as hard as they could split.

Next instant a whistle shrilled behind them, and at once a shout answered from the upper side of the path. There was a crashing in the undergrowth, and a second keeper came bursting out into the path right in front of the flying pair.

A Dash for Liberty

THERE was no time to turn. Nettles, who was leading, was practically in the arms of the second keeper before he saw him.

"I got him, Hulke!" roared the man, as he grasped Nettles tightly by the collar of his coat.

"You look out for the other!" shouted back the first keeper.

The warning was only just in time, for Paddy was trying the same tactics as before—but this time without success, for the fellow struck at him with his left hand as he came, and, as Paddy dodged the blow, kicked his legs from under him, and brought him down.

Before Paddy could pick himself up, Hulke, breathing out fury and imprecations, was on the spot. He picked up Paddy and shook him like an old coat.

Nettles struggled fiercely.

"You big coward!" he cried. "Why don't you tackle a chap your own size?

"Coward, am I? Put your stick about him, Bartlett!" roared Hulke in a fury.

But Bartlett, who seemed rather less of a brute than the other, merely shrugged his shoulders.

"That ain't our job," he said. "We best take 'em along to the master. He'll know how to deal with 'em."

"He'll send you to prison, the two of you," ground out Hulke, his big face purple with passion.

"Three months hard—that's what you'll get, you brats!"

"It's apoplexy you'll be getting," retorted Paddy; and Hulke shook him again, tearing his collar from its studs and ripping his waistcoat open.

"You're a-wasting time, Hulke," said Bartlett drily. "Bring 'em along up to the Hall."

The two were dragged up the wood path, through a fir plantation, and so to the back of a big square house. A couple of grooms stood grinning as the pair were marched through a stable-yard.

"Is squire in?" demanded Hulke.

"No, he's not in yet," replied one of the men. "But he'll be along just now. Best put them poachers o' yourn in the harness room. They'll keep safe till the master comes home."

"Ay, that's the ticket!" growled Hulke. "Bring that 'un along, Bartlett."

Hulke thrust Paddy roughly into the harness room; Nettles was pushed in on top of him; and the door was slammed and locked.

Nettles looked round. They were in a long, narrow room with walls of pitch-pine. There was a stove, a bench and a table, and one window well barred.

"This is a nice go, Paddy," he said.

Paddy shrugged his shoulders.

"Sure it can't be helped."

"But we promised the doctor to be back by half-past six."

"'Tis no use worrying. 'Tis not our fault," replied Paddy, and seated himself on the bench.

Nettles did not sit down. He began prowling around the room.

Suddenly he turned round quickly.

"Paddy, here's a hatch!"

Paddy got up and came across.

"It leads into the stable," Nettles whispered.

"But it's fastened from the other side," said Paddy.

"It's not much of a fastening. If I had a chisel I could force it like a shot." He looked round and swooped upon something lying under the stove.

"Here we are!" he said triumphantly, holding up a stove iron. "The very thing! Paddy, you go to the window and watch. I'm going to burst this open."

It was ridiculously easy. Once Nettles got a leverage there was one sharp crack, and the hatch flew back.

"All right," hissed Paddy, who was now as keen as Nettles himself. "What's beyond?"

"A stable. Nothing in it. Big folding doors."

"We can't be going that way. Sure they open into the yard, and one of the grooms is there still."

"Never mind. There's a hole up above the manger where they put the hay down."

"But that'll not help us. It only leads into the loft."

"Let's see, anyway," said Nettles.

He was through the hatch like a shot, Paddy after him.

They found themselves in a long, low loft. Two dormer windows let in light through their dusty panes.

"This is all right," said Nettles eagerly, as he looked through the window opposite to the yard. "See, the roof slopes right down, and there's the kitchen garden below. It isn't much of a drop. Paddy, with any luck we'll still get back before gates."

The catch was rusty—the window had not been open for years—but Nettles was equal to it. He forced it back, and stepped on to the roof.

He slid down, got his heels safe in the gutter, then, turning over, took hold of the gutter, swung a moment, and dropped.

A moment later Paddy joined him safely.

"Topping!" said Nettles, gleefully. "Now for it!" and, gathering himself, ran for all he was worth.

"Hi, who are you?" came a great roaring voice. "What are you doing? Stop!"

With the tail of his eye Nettles caught sight of a stout, red-faced man on a great roan horse. It was the squire.

He did not stop, but only ran the harder.

"Stop!" roared the stout man again, and there was a clatter on the gravel as he rode at them furiously.

The Chase

SIDE by side Nettles and Paddy dashed for a tall pergola covered with rambler roses. Sterne had to go round.

It was all that saved them. Bellowing for help, the big man swung his horse and came galloping across the velvet turf.

There was a sunk fence just below. With one accord the two boys made for it, and leaped down into the meadow below. The squire jumped his horse after them, but he went wide into the field while Nettles and Paddy, turning sharp to the left, raced for a plantation which was barely fifty yards away.

It was by the skin of their teeth they reached it. The squire was so close that the lash of his hunting crop whistled within a foot of Paddy's head. Then they were in the thicket, where he could not follow.

They did not stop. Dodging and ducking they tore on through the plantation, and suddenly came out into the open on the edge of a large field.

Here they pulled up, panting.

"Where are we, Paddy?" asked Nettles.

"There's the river. 'Tis on the right road we are. Keep straight ahead and make for that osier bed."

"Right. We can't stay here, anyhow. A good sprint, Paddy."

The osier bed was nearly a quarter of a mile away, and the boys were blown already with their exertions. Just as they reached it they heard a tremendous shout in the distance.

"They've spotted us," gasped Nettles. "I'm afraid we're gone coons, old son."

"Sorra a bit of it. 'Tis thick as a hedge in here."

It was, and muddy too, and quite impossible to travel fast. What was worse, they could not see where they were going.

The shouts grew louder. Their pursuers were closing in. By the sound there were fully half a dozen of them.

The pair blundered along, not knowing where they were going. They were dripping with perspiration and almost fagged out.

"One comfort, they haven't a notion where we are," said Nettles. As he spoke two wild duck rose with a terrific clatter of wings right under their feet, and from a spot not fifty yards behind came a shout of "There they are!"

"That's cooked our goose," said Nettles grimly.

"Not yet," puffed Paddy. "Here's a drain. Get down into it. 'Tis bound to lead us somewhere."

The drain had six inches of mud and water in it, but even so it was better going than through the osiers. The two boys splashed on down it.

"'Tis getting lighter," said Paddy. "We're near the edge." He was right. Next minute they blundered out on to the open bank of the river. The tide was high, and coming swiftly up from the direction of the sea they saw a small sail-boat.

Nettles stared an instant.

"It's the captain," he cried, and, dashing down to the water's edge, began waving his cap frantically.

In the Nick of Time

CAPTAIN GUNN'S eyes were as sharp as Nettles's. At once he put his helm over, and the boat came gliding in.

"Want a lift?" he asked.

"Never worse. Be quick, sir, please. They're after us," answered Nettles breathlessly.

The captain threw the boat up into the wind.

"You'll have to wade." he said. "I can't risk the mud."

Mud! Nettles and Paddy would have faced a quicksand.

They splashed out, and scrambled aboard just as Hulke, purple with fury, came bursting out of the osier bed. He held up his hand.

"Stop!" he bellowed hoarsely. "Take them away at your peril. They've been poaching and house-breaking."

The captain turned to the boys. "Is this true?" he demanded.

"No, sir," replied Nettles firmly. "It's a lie. We found a hare in a trap and were letting her out when that man collared us."

"A pack o' lies," roared Hulke. "Don't you let them two brats kid you. The squire's behind. He'll give you what for if you takes them young vagabonds away."

Hulke could hardly have made a bigger mistake.

"If the squire's manners are not better than his man's I'm sorry for him," he answered coldly. "Tell him so, with Captain Gunn's compliments."

So saying, he let the boat come round, the evening breeze filled the sail, and she went skimming rapidly away, leaving Hulke fairly dancing on the shore.

"Like a bear on hot bricks." chuckled Paddy as he watched him. "Captain," he said, "ye were only just in time. Sure I think that fellow would have murdered the pair of us."

A slow smile curled the captain's lips. "You seem to have got into unusually warm water," he said. "Suppose you tell me about it?"

They did so readily, and the big man chuckled drily once or twice. Almost before they had finished they were at the school landing.

Captain Gunn glanced at his wrist-watch.

"Three minutes still to the half-hour. Hop ashore. You'll just do it."

They sprang on to the landing, and with a last grateful "Good-night" rushed for the school, and scrambled in just as Stokes was in the act of closing the gates. They reached their dormitory, ripped off their muddy flannels, got into clean things, and were in the Hall in time to take their places for supper.

"Faith, we're well out of that, Nettles," he said.

"Yes," agreed Nettles. "Our lucky star was shining today. But I tell you it was a tight fit."

"What was a tight fit?" broke in Terry Drake. "Where have you two chaps been all the blessed afternoon?"

Nettles proceeded to enlighten him, when suddenly the door of the Hall opened.

"Hulloa, what's Stokes want?" asked Terry, as they saw the sergeant come in.

He came straight up to the end of the long table at which the two chums were sitting.

"Mr. Brough and Mr. Netley, you are to come to the doctor's study at once," he announced, in his driest, most official tones.


">ou are to come to the doctor's study at once," Stokes announced

Tom Turns Up

OUTSIDE in the passage Paddy turned quickly to the sergeant.

"What's up, Stokes? Has the old fire-eater turned up?"

"It's Squire Sterne, Master Brough—him and his keeper. And a terrible taking he's in. Whatever have you been a-doing of?"

"No harm," replied Paddy stoutly.

"You'll have a job to persuade the master of that," said Stokes.

They were at the door of the doctor's study. Stokes opened it wide, and, as the boys passed in, closed it behind them.

The first thing Nettles saw as he entered the study was the doctor sitting very stiffly behind his great writing-desk. He was looking graver and more severe than Nettles could have imagined possible. In a big armchair facing the door sat Squire Sterne, with a face like a thunder cloud, while behind him towered Hulke, with an expression of malicious triumph on his heavy features.

The doctor spoke.

"Netley and Brough, I have received a most serious complaint against you from Mr. Sterne. It appears that you have assaulted his keeper, and, when caught, broke out of the room in which you were put, doing considerable damage. Afterwards you bolted through, the gardens and shrubberies of the Hall, doing still further harm to Mr. Sterne's property. Is this true?"

Nettles saw in a moment what a horribly clever accusation this was. There was not a word of poaching or trespassing. Hulke had apparently said nothing about the trapped hare, or, if he had, his master had carefully suppressed it.

"Yet, it's true, sir," Nettles answered coolly.

"You admit it?" exclaimed the doctor.

"Yes, sir; we did trip up the keeper, we did break out of the harness room, we did bolt through the grounds, and, though we didn't do much harm to the grounds, I should think Mr. Sterne must have ruined his lawn by galloping over it as he did."

The squire started up in his chair.

"Impudent young cub!" he roared.

The doctor raised his hand again.

"A moment, Mr. Sterne. You will allow me to enquire into this matter without interruption."

Sterne looked furious, but something in Dr. Colston's manner quelled him.

"Have you anything to say in defence of this abominable conduct, Netley?" continued the doctor, sternly.

"Yes, sir. We were attacked first. We only tried to defend ourselves."

"Attacked?" repeated the doctor frowning.

"Yes, sir. The keeper there caught hold of me first. Then—"

"The young beggars was trespassing in Squire's woods!" broke in Hulke hastily. "I've a legal right to catch hold of trespassers."

"And why were we trespassing?" demanded Nettles, staring Hulke full in the face.

"You was poaching!" snapped Hulke.

Nettles turned to the doctor.

"We were not poaching, sir," he said quietly. "We were taking a hare out of a snare. And that hare, I believe, had been put into the snare as a bait so as to attract passers-by off the path."

"Preposterous!" snorted Sterne. "Who ever heard of such an absurd and unfounded accusation? Can anyone believe for a moment that I would employ a man capable of such an act?"

"I wouldn't dream o' doing such a thing," added Hulke, looking down his nose.

The doctor looked keenly from one to the other.

"Your accusation does indeed seem a wild one, Netley," he said gravely, "and it certainly does not improve your case to make it. You do not deny, then, that you were both off the path, and that you resisted arrest?"

"No, sir," answered Nettles, quietly as ever. "We got away from Hulke, but were caught by a second keeper. Then we were shut up in a harness room."

"Out of which you broke?"

"Yes, sir. We had promised you to be back by half-past six, and, anyhow, we didn't think the keepers had any right to shut us up."

"It seems to me that they had every right," said the doctor severely. He paused. "This is a very serious offence of which you have both been guilty, and you have not made matters better by bringing an unfounded accusation against Mr. Sterne's keeper. You will both go to the separation dormitory for the night, and tomorrow I shall consider what punishment to give you."

"A sound flogging is the least you can give them!" growled the squire.

Before the doctor could answer there was a knock at the door, and Stokes appeared.

"There's a boy from Marsea wants to see you, sir," he announced. "I told him you were engaged, but he says it's urgent. It's about this business he's come, sir."

"Who is he?" demanded the doctor.

"Tom Cosby, sir. The same lad as got these young gentlemen off the mud in the marshes a week or two back."

Hulke scowled. "That young scamp! He and his father is the worst poachers in the parish!" he snarled.

The doctor cast a sharp glance at the keeper.

"Show the boy in," he said.

Mansford Misses Fire

CAP in hand, Tom stepped lightly into the room. He came to a stop opposite the doctor, fixed his eyes upon him, and waited for him to speak.

"You have something to say about this case?" questioned the doctor.

"Yes, sir," answered Tom; and he spoke without the slightest hesitation or shyness. "You see, sir, it was me that put the gentlemen on the short cut, so I'm sort of responsible for their a-getting into trouble."

"Is that all you have to say?"

"No, sir. After they'd gone I'd a sort of notion there might be trouble, so I walked on up the path after them. Then I heard a hare a-screaming. It's a nasty sound if you've never heard it before. Mr. Netley, he ran off the path towards it, and Mr. Brough after. Mr. Netley was taking the poor thing out of the wire when Hulke here, he jumped out from behind a bush close by, and caught hold of him."

"One moment," broke in the doctor. "You say that Hulke was standing near the spot where the hare was in the trap?"

"That's true, sir."

"Then he must have heard it screaming?"

"He couldn't have helped it."

"It were my duty to find out who set the snare!" exclaimed Hulke angrily.

"But not to leave a dumb creature in torture," returned the doctor grimly. "Go on, Cosby."

"Mr. Brough tripped Hulke, and they both ran. Then Bartlett, the other keeper, he stopped 'em; and Hulke comes up and catches Mr. Brough and shakes him till his teeth rattles, and nearly tears the coat off his back."

"You didn't mention this, Netley," said the doctor.

"It's a lie!" growled Hulke.

Paddy swung round on him.

"You know it isn't!" he cried hotly. "Sure, ye ripped the buttons off my shirt, and the shirt's there for ye to see, if ye want to."

Tom went on calmly.

"I couldn't leave the path, sir, or they'd have had me for trespassing. So I went up as far as the end, and waited. I saw the young gentlemen get away. Then I saw Mr. Sterne and the keeper in the car starting for the school. So I just thought I'd best come along and tell what had happened."

"I am very glad you did," said the doctor cordially. "They and I are equally obliged to you. Stokes, take Cosby to the buttery and give him some supper."

Tom touched his forelock and followed Stokes out.

Sterne, who had been getting more and more angry, now boiled over.

"Do you mean to say, Dr. Colston, that you are going to take the evidence of this brat against that of myself and my keeper?"

"Not yours, Mr. Sterne," replied the doctor firmly. "But the evidence of these three boys completely rebuts that of your keeper. Under the circumstances, I cannot punish the boys, who evidently acted from the best motives. If you will accept my advice you will drop the matter."

"Drop the matter!" roared Sterne. "It's infernal insolence on your part to suggest any such thing."

Sterne jumped up. He was purple with fury.

"Don't forget that I am not only a J.P., but also a governor of this school. I'll see you sacked from your job, you impudent upstart!" he roared. And, shaking his fist, he stumped out of the room, followed by Hulke.

The doctor turned to the boys.

"You may go," he said. "As I told Mr. Sterne, I shall not punish you. But I will ask you both to be very careful in future to avoid trouble of this kind. It is bad for the school."

"Indeed we will, sir," said both the boys.

"What luck, Nettles! Did ye ever hear such luck?" said Paddy as soon as they were safe outside the door.

"Which do you mean?" laughed Nettles. "Tom turning up, or old Sterne losing his wool?"

"Both, begorra." He broke off short. "Hush!" he whispered. "Who's that hiding behind the screen by the buttery door?"

He darted forward, and was just in time to cut off the retreat of Mansford and Harney.

The precious pair looked so sheepish that Paddy burst into a shout of laughter.

"Look at them!" he crowed. "Waiting they were to hear us flogged. Ah, it's a sad disappointment for ye, I know. And if ye only knew what ye'd missed ye'd be sadder still."

Mansford pushed past. "You'll be sorry for this," he said darkly, as he and Harney sneaked off.

The Marsea Match

DURING all the years that Claycroft had been going downhill games had dropped off like everything else. Now, under Dr. Colston's energetic management, cricket came to life again, and a regular school eleven was formed.

Boys were keen enough, but even the best of Headmasters cannot make a good team in a few weeks, and Dr. Colston decided not to issue challenges to any neighbouring schools until the next year.

But when Mr. Hart, the clergyman down at Marsea, suggested bringing up his village team to play the school, the doctor did not refuse, and the date was set for the fourth Saturday in the term.

Some boys turned up their noses at the idea of playing "cads," as they called them, but they did not make any remarks of this sort before Gordon Ferne, who was captain of the eleven, and as keen as mustard.

"Pretty lot of idiots you'll look if they beat you," he said; and kept his team hard at work at practice for six days in the week.

When the Saturday arrived it turned out to be beautifully fine and warm, and every member of the school who was not playing was up on the eleven bank to watch. Among them were Nettles and Paddy, sitting together, and with every intention of thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Close by sat Mansford with Harney and two or three others.

The Marsea team had driven up in a brake. Mr. Hart won the toss, and presently he and a sturdy young farmer, named Merton, came out to bat. The rest of the team sat rather shyly by themselves in front of the pavilion.

The boys turned to look at them, and Paddy suddenly jumped up.

"Nettles, look! There's Tom Cosby. He's one of the team."

"What luck! So it is," said Nettles. "Let's go and fetch him."

Two minutes later they were back, bringing Tom with them.

"Sit down, Tom," said Nettles cordially. "We haven't seen you to thank you for turning up the other night."

Tom laughed.

"My word, you ought to have seen the squire after he left! He were proper mad, I tell you. I heard him a-talking, so I knows."

A sneering voice made itself heard close by.

"Did you hear that, Harney?" drawled Mansford. "Listen to the cad. 'I knows.' Isn't it the limit?"

Tom could not help hearing. The colour rose to his brown cheeks.

"I'd better shift," he said quietly.

"Your fine friends don't like a chap like me."

"Sit where you are," answered Nettles, with dangerous quietness. He himself got up and walked straight across to Mansford.

"Mansford, it's you who are the cad," he said in low, but perfectly distinct tones. "You hear me? You are the cad, and not Tom Cosby."

Mansford's fat cheeks went crimson. Every boy all round had heard what Nettles had said. Mansford knew that if he did not resent such an insult from a mere new boy he was simply done for. Coward as he was, he had to do something. He lifted his big fist and knocked Nettles spinning.

Like a flash, Tom Cosby and Paddy sprang to their feet. They came rushing up. Mansford's crew rallied round him. A score of others came crowding round. There seemed every prospect of a fearful row.

The Great Idea

THERE was a gasp of astonishment from nearly a hundred throats. There had been fights at Claycroft—plenty, of them; but this was perhaps the first time on record that one boy had knocked another down on the eleven bank, right in front of the pavilion, before the eyes of the whole school, the masters, and some scores of visitors.

For the moment the match was forgotten. Every eye was fixed on Mansford and Nettles, and for the moment no one moved.

No one, that is, but Tom Cosby. He was on his feet like a flash. His lips were tight, his eyes blazing.

"The big coward!" he panted. "I'll settle him!"

"You won't!" said Paddy, sharply, and, springing up, caught Tom by the arm. "Steady, Tom!" he begged. "Keep out of it. You'll only make things worse for Netley. There, see, he's up again."

Nettles was, in fact, on his feet again. His face was white except for the dull red mark on one cheek, but his eyes were cold and steady. Mansford, watching him, went very pale, and the others saw him put up his fists in a position of defence.

Before anything else could happen the games master, Mr. Dudley, had reached the spot.

"What do you mean, Mansford, by hitting a new boy, and one so much smaller than yourself?" he demanded angrily.

"He called me names," Mansford answered sulkily.

"What names?"

"A cad."

Mr. Dudley turned round on Nettles. "Is this true, Netley?" he demanded.

"Quite true, sir," said Nettles quietly.

"Then it was abominable impudence on your part, and you are as much to blame as Mansford."

"If you please, sir, he ain't so much to blame as you thinks," came a new voice. It was one of the two members of the Marsea team with whom Tom Cosby had been sitting a little earlier. He was a quiet-looking, stockily-built young man, son of one of the Marsea smack owners, by name Joe Garton.

"How do you mean?" demanded Mr. Dudley.

"Why, sir, that boy"—pointing to Mansford—"he said something nasty about young Tom Cosby."

Mr. Dudley looked from one to the other. It did not take much looking to convince him that what Joe Garton had said was true. He fixed his eyes on Mansford.

"Mansford, you will go down to the school, and remain within gates for the rest of the day."

Mansford slunk off, looking like a whipped dog.

"As for you, Netley," continued Mr. Dudley, "you can go back to your place. Now get on with the game, and do not let us have any more of this unseemly brawling."

The match, as it happened, was well worth watching. Earle was bowling, he and a boy called Askew, and between them they got the first five Marsea wickets for 14 runs.

At this point Tom Cosby went in, and he and Sam Garton, Joe's brother, knocked up 42 before they were separated. Then Sam was clean bowled. Six wickets for 56. The next four went pretty quickly, and the innings closed for 82, of which Tom had made 32 not out. He was loudly clapped as he came back to the pavilion.

The school went in with Earle and their big hitter, Compton, and this pair smote the Marsea bowling all over the field, and made 53 between them before Compton was caught at the wicket. Then an absolute rot set in, and the next six wickets went for seven runs.

"Seven for 60," said Paddy Brough gravely, "and not a chap left ye could trust to make half a dozen. Nettles, I'm thinking the old school is in the soup."

"Wait a bit," advised Nettles. "There's young Deans. He can hit a bit, and if Jackson can keep his end up we may pull it off."

Deans hit three boundaries and was caught. In the end the score was 79 for nine wickets. The last in was a boy called Bateman. He was quite a youngster, being little older than Nettles, but a promising cricketer. He cut a ball hard for two, and the score was 81. One to tie—two to win.

The excitement was intense.

Bateman had got the bowling again. The bowler sent down a straight fast ball which, however, pitched a little short. Bateman stepped out and hit for all he was worth. It went soaring away over the bowler's head, and a roar of cheering burst from the school.

Tom Cosby was fielding at long off. The ball looked to be going miles beyond him, but he ran like a flash. They saw him get beneath it. The cheering ceased. There was an instant of breathless silence.

"Oh!" muttered Nettles. "We are licked!"

He was right. Next instant the ball was fast in Tom's strong brown fists, and "Well caught!" came a shout from the Marsea men.

"Well caught!" echoed the school, then the clapping burst out again.

Mr. Dudley met Tom at the steps.

"A very fine catch, Cosby," he said. "You have all the makings of a fine cricketer. I wish you were playing for and not against us."

Nettles heard the words. He started slightly and turned to speak to Paddy. But Paddy was already hurrying towards Tom, and Nettles followed.

They took Tom with them down to the school, and showed him over the fine old buildings. He was fascinated, and could hardly tear himself away. But the brake came for the Marsea team, and Tom had to go. Nettles and Paddy watched him until the wagonette was out of sight.

Then Nettles turned to Paddy.

"Did you hear what Mr. Dudley said?" he asked eagerly.

"D'ye mean about wishing Tom was playing for us and not against us? Sure I wish it, too."

"Well, why shouldn't he?" demanded Nettles.

Shocks for Several

PADDY'S eyes widened. He stared at Nettles as though he were not quite sure whether he had heard correctly.

"I mean it," said Nettles. "Tom's as decent a chap as ever I met, and he's just longing for a good education."

"But how would he be coming here?" asked Paddy, bewildered. "Sure, he couldn't afford it."

"I know that, but why shouldn't my father pay for him?"

Paddy gave a low whistle.

"Would he do it, do ye think?"

"I'm almost sure he would. He—he's quite well off, you know. See here, Paddy, if you think it's a go, I'll write to Dad tonight."

"I think it's a fine plan, entirely. But I wouldn't say anything to Tom till ye know what your father says."

Nettles beamed.

"Dad will do it if I ask him. I've told him all about Tom already. There's half an hour before tea. I'll jolly well go and write the letter at once."

The letter was written and posted that night, and on the following Tuesday morning the answer arrived. Nettles read it at the breakfast table; and Paddy, watching him, saw his face light up. All the rest of the meal Nettles could hardly eat, he was so excited, and when at last they got out he hurried Paddy away to a quiet corner by the fives court.

"It's all right, Paddy," he said, pulling the letter out of his pocket. "Here you are. Read it."

"My dear Jack," wrote Mr. Netley, "this is rather a startling proposal on your part, and one that means not only expense, but also responsibility. Yet Tom seems to have proved himself a very good friend to you and Brough, and by your account has nice tastes and habits, and is also keen to learn. I will tell you what I will do. I will come down myself next week-end and personally interview young Cosby. Then, if I think he is fit to be sent to Claycroft, and if Dr. Colston is willing to have him, I will make myself responsible for his school fees, clothes and pocket-money."

There was more in the letter, but that was all that mattered, and Paddy was as pleased as Nettles.

But Paddy, who, in spite of his Irish blood, had plenty of common sense, saw difficulties.

"You've got to remember this, Nettles," he said. "Tom's a good chap, but he's what ye might call a rough diamond. It'll take him a while to learn the ways of things, and meantime fat Manny and his lot will be doing their best to make things hot for him."

Nettles laughed.

"Why, Tom could punch Mansford's head off if it came to a row," he answered.

The two boys kept their news strictly to themselves. They did not even tell Terry Drake. On the following Saturday they got leave off for the whole day after morning school, and hurried to the station to meet Mr. Netley.

It did Paddy good to see how delighted father and son were to meet again. And Paddy himself was welcomed very warmly. Mr. Netley took them to the hotel and gave them an excellent luncheon. Then they got into a car which had been ordered, and drove off to Marsea. Nettles had already dropped a line to Tom to ask him to be at home.

The sight of Mr. Netley rather startled Tom and his father, but Mr. Netley was the sort to make everyone feel at home with him. Mr. Netley asked Tom to take him down and show him the new motor engine, and Nettles and Paddy kept Dan Cosby busy while the other two had their talk.

It was nearly an hour before Mr. Netley and Tom came back, and the minute Nettles saw Tom's face he knew it was all right.

Tom went straight up to Dan.

"Father," he said, in a voice that was not quite steady, "the gentleman has offered to send me to Claycroft School and to pay it all for me. But I wouldn't say 'Yes' till I'd asked you."

Dan looked at his son, then at Mr. Netley.

"You'd be doing this for us, sir?" he said, in an amazed voice.

"I should like to, Mr. Cosby."

Dan looked away a moment.

"God bless you, sir," he said hoarsely. "You couldn't ha' done anything as would please me better. And Tom's a good boy. He'll do ye credit."

Once it was settled no time was lost. Tom's clothes and books were ready in a week, and on the second Monday after Mr. Netley's visit to Marsea, Tom Cosby arrived at Claycroft.

First of all he went to Dr. Colston for a short examination to see what place he would take in the school. Nettles and Paddy waited for him, and when Tom came out he told them that he was to be in the Middle Fourth.

Nettles and Paddy stared in silence. They had got the shock of their young lives. That Tom should be placed actually higher than they in the school was something that had never occurred to either of them.

As they went out of the house they ran right into Mansford, who was coming in, accompanied by Harney and the sneaky youth called Doble, Paddy's pet aversion.

Mansford gave them his usual glare; then his eyes fell on Tom. For a moment he was completely puzzled, for Tom Cosby in his new, well-cut clothes was so different from the rough fisher-boy that at first he did not know who he was.

But next moment he recognised him, and pulled up short.

"What are you doing here in the school?" he demanded of Tom.

"Why shouldn't he be here?" returned Paddy sweetly. "Sure he's got as much right to be here as you yourself, Manny."

"Right, you young ass!" retorted Mansford roughly. "Even you ought to know that the quad is out of bounds for any outsider; let alone a fisherman's brat."

Tom flushed hotly, but Paddy pushed him back.

"Don't be exciting yourself, Manny. The fisherman's brat, as ye are good enough to call him, is now a member of this old school."

Mansford's jaw dropped. He looked as if he were going to faint.

"You're lying," he said thickly.

Paddy smiled still more sweetly.

"Then ye'd best go and ask the docthor, Manny dear."

Mansford saw that Paddy was telling the truth. He flamed up.

"If cads like that are going to be brought into the school, I shall write to my father to take me away," he cried furiously. "And so will a dozen other chaps I know. We weren't sent here to mix up with dirty charity boys."

Trouble Brews

AT the insult Tom Cosby went white under his fisherman's tan. His eyes narrowed and blazed, and his hard fists clenched. Nettles, too, was furious, and for a moment things looked ugly.

But Paddy was equal to the occasion.

"Charity boy, is it?" he answered sweetly. "And what are ye, Manny?"

"Me?" Mansford spluttered like an angry cat. "What do you mean, you idiot?"

"Sure, I mean that, if ye come down to brass tacks, you're just as much a charity boy as Cosby here. Ye didn't earn the money that keeps ye here, did ye?"

"Of course I didn't! My father pays for me."

"And somebody else's father pays for Cosby. So where's the difference?"

The thick-witted Mansford had no answer ready. He made queer noises in his throat.

"Is it unwell ye are?" asked Paddy, with mock sympathy.

"I'll make you unwell before I'm through with you," was all Mansford could find to say.

"Sure, ye've done that already!" replied Paddy, making a face. "It's the look of ye. But seeing ye can't help your face, why, I'll forgive ye! Come along, Nettles. Come on, Tom."

They passed on, leaving Mansford and his companions purple with indignation, but utterly defeated. No one said a word until they were outside the gates. Then Nettles pulled up short, and began to laugh. He laughed and laughed till he had to lean against the wall for support, and presently Paddy joined in, too.

Tom didn't laugh. He stood square and stiff, with a puzzled expression on his brown face.

"I don't see anything to laugh at," he said at last.

Paddy pulled himself together.

"But ye will, Tom—ye will. Now, don't be taking Mansford or his pals as samples of fellows at Claycroft. Ye'll find a few of their sort in every school in England, but, thanks be, there's only a few. Other chaps take a man for what he is, not where he came from."

Tom shook his head.

"I ought never to have come here," he said despondently.

Paddy flared up.

"If you talk that way, you can go home for all I care," he said, with startling sharpness. "I didn't know you were a coward, Tom Cosby."

Tom wheeled round on Paddy. His eyes flamed again.

Paddy did not move an inch, nor did he raise his hands.

"Ye can hit me if ye like," he said. "Ye can lick me, of course, if ye try. But that won't prove anything."

The anger died out of Tom's face. His hands dropped to his sides.

"I'm sorry, Brough," he said, quietly.

Paddy smiled swiftly.

"Now you're talking, old son. Don't let's be hearing any more nonsense about not coming here. Sure, there isn't one of us hasn't his bad time when he first comes to a big school. Nettles and I both had our troubles."

He slipped an arm through Cosby's, and the three of them walked off together.

In the course of the day Nettles and Paddy introduced Tom to all their particular pals, including Dudley and Terry Drake. Both recognised him as the champion of the Marsea team, and made him very welcome. By evening Tom was much happier.

Nettles, too, was quite cheerful, but Paddy rather silent. The Irish boy who, with all his fun, had a long head, was well aware that the trouble was only beginning. Mansford had a number of followers, and Paddy knew that he would leave no stone unturned to get rid of Tom.

In a quiet way he managed to watch them, and soon was certain that some plot was brewing. All four—Mansford, Harney, Marsh, and Doble—were constantly talking together in corners, and Paddy saw that they were collecting others of their kind.

But they made no attempt at all upon Tom. They simply refused to notice him. Paddy was puzzled, and yet he was careful not to say a word to Nettles or Tom.

A week passed. Tom, though of course he made mistakes, especially in the matter of speech, was shaking down rapidly. He was distinctly good at his work, and had taken quite a respectable place in his form. Also, he was beginning to play cricket, and had done so well that Earle had practically promised to try him for the school.

At the end of the week Paddy was no wiser. Then, one morning, when the three were coming out from breakfast, Stokes, the gate porter, came up and spoke to Nettles.

"The Headmaster wishes to see you, sir," he said in his quiet way.

"Hulloa, Nettles!" said Tom, with a grin. "What's the trouble?"

Nettles frowned.

"Can't imagine!" he said, as he hurried off.

It was a matter of nearly twenty minutes before Nettles returned, to find the other two just settling down to their morning preparation.

Tom looked up, and, seeing Nettles's face, stared.

"Nothing wrong, I hope?" he said quickly.

"N-no. At least—" Nettles hesitated in a way very unusual for him. "Paddy," he said, "I've got to speak to you."

Paddy got up. He glanced at Tom. But Tom, with that natural good breeding which seemed a part of him, had turned to his book.

Nettles led the way out to a quiet corner by the fives courts.

"I say, Paddy," he began in a voice which was sharp with distress, "it's not me; it's—"

"Tom, I'm thinking," put in Paddy, quietly.

"How do you know? What do you mean?" demanded Nettles.

"It's not blind I am. Haven't I been watching Mansford and his lot for a week past? What is it they've done?"

"Written to their fathers to ask them to take them away because they can't stand the company of a fisherman's son!" Nettles answered bitterly.

Paddy nodded.

"Sure, I thought it would be something like that. And what's the Doctor say?"

"He's all broken up about it. He likes Tom. As good as told me he was worth ten of Mansford. But he had to explain that the school is only just getting on its legs again, and can't afford to lose a lot of boys. Seems there are as many as ten of these fools that are backing Mansford. Put 'em at a hundred-and-fifty a year apiece; and that would mean knocking off fifteen hundred a year from the school income."

"Manny's cuter than I thought," said Paddy. "So Tom's to go, I'm thinking?"

"Tom's to go," repeated Nettles bitterly. "The Head's written about it. 'Pon my word, Paddy, I've a jolly good mind to go, too."

"I'd think a bit first," replied Paddy sagely. He paused. "Don't be telling Tom," he added. "Let's wait till we hear from your father."

"Goodness knows I don't want to tell him," groaned Nettles. "And it's all my fault, anyhow."

"I wouldn't be saying that, old chap," said Paddy quietly. "Now let's be going on with our work. Ye never can tell what may be happening."

Quick Wits

A CIRCUS was billed to come to Claycroft village next day, and the boys were given a half-holiday.

Nettles was still in a very desperate state of mind, but Paddy refused to be discouraged.

"Sure, and if Tom's got to go, he must," he remarked; "But 'tis no reason why we wouldn't give him a good time so long as he's here."

Before the performance there was to be a parade of the whole show—elephants, camels, and all. This was to pass through the village street at half-past two, and before that hour a large crowd was lining the pavement on each side of the one long and broad street.

It was a queer sort of street, for it was quite three times as wide as most streets, and it sloped pretty steeply all the way down to the river. Then came a regular bottleneck, with a narrow, highly arched, old-fashioned bridge.

The three boys, came down the hill from the school, and stopped, amazed at the number of people.

"Sure, the whole countryside's turned out!" said Paddy.

"I'd not have thought there were so many between here and Marsea," remarked Tom. "Hallo, why there's old Sam Tragett!"

An ancient salt was passing, a funny and rather disreputable old figure in tarry breeches and a stained blue jersey. He wore old-fashioned whiskers, and his face was the colour of a ripe walnut. Tom caught him and slapped him on the back, and the ancient turned in surprise, which changed to evident pleasure as he recognised Tom.

"How be ye, Tom?" he croaked out, gripping Tom's hand in a fist that looked like an old rope's end.

"Why, you be so fine in them new togs I hardly knewed 'ee! So you're a scholard at this fine school now?"

"Look at that!" came a high, scornful voice from just behind Nettles. "Look at that, Harney! There's a nice sort of advertisement for Claycroft when you see a chap with the school cap on talking to a beery old ruffian like that."

"Well, he won't have the chance to do it again—that's one comfort," responded Harney in a mincing voice. "He won't be here long."

Nettles swung round. His lips were very white. "No more will you, Harney, if you don't shut your evil mouth."

There was something in his voice which made Harney step back quickly—so quickly that he trod with all his weight on Mansford's toes. Mansford, who was wearing tight patent-leathers, gave a shriek of agony, which made everyone within a hundred yards turn to see what was the matter.

"Sure, that's a better advertisement for Claycroft than Cosby's," remarked Paddy, in loud clear tones.

"Don't be frightened," he told the spectators; "'Tis only a way he has when he's pleased. But I'll not let him do it again."

There was a roar of laughter, to the accompaniment of which Mansford, whose face was the rich red of brick-dust, hastily retired into a shop.

"Honours easy," said Paddy, with a grin.

"For two pins I'll go after him, and make him yell louder than that," said Nettles grimly.

"Be aisy;—be aisy," said Paddy. "Don't be spoiling a good time by being cross now. More betoken here's the show coming."

He pointed as he spoke, and, sure enough, there was the head of the procession coming down the hill. A big elephant was leading the way, followed by camels, horses, and gaily-decorated cars, with a brass band in the rear.

All eyes being on the animals, no one noticed a tubcart, pulled by a strong cob, which came down the street behind the procession. It was driven by a lady who had a little girl with her. No one, that is, except Paddy.

"Faith, we're honoured," he said, nudging Nettles. "Here's Mrs. Coaly herself, with Grace. She's taking the poor kid to the show."

"I'm glad of it," said Nettles quietly. "Grace doesn't get much fun."

Grace Colston, the Doctor's only daughter, was ten years old. She had been lamed by an accident when quite small, and could only get about on crutches. She was a pretty, sweet-tempered child, and the boys all made much of her.

"That pony Joey can trot," said Paddy, who, like all Irishmen, loved a good horse. "I'm thinking he's a bit fresh," he added critically.

Boys who stood on the pavement capped Mrs. Colston as she came by. She arrived opposite Nettles and Paddy at the same moment that the elephant came by. No horse likes an elephant, and, as ill luck had it, just at that very moment someone held out a bun, and the elephant half turned and stretched his long trunk across to reach it.

That was enough for Joey. He shied violently, and came within an ace of upsetting the cart. Grace screamed, but Mrs. Colston kept her head and tightened the reins.

There was a light snapping sound. One of the reins had broken off short just by the collar rings. In a trice Joey was off full clip.

The crowd scattered. Women screamed. Everyone seemed to lose their heads except one of the circus men who turned his horse out, and went after Joey at full gallop.

But no! There was one person in the crowd who kept his wits about him. This was Tom Cosby. When the pony shied he had been some twenty yards farther down the street, talking to old Tragett.

At the rattle of hoofs he turned. The pony came by him like the wind. Tom grabbed at its head, but just missed. With extraordinary quickness he recovered himself, and caught the rail at the back of the cart. Somehow he gained the step and scrambled in. Then he flung himself forward over the door into the body of the trap.

"Fine—oh, fine!" cried Paddy, in wild excitement.

"What's the good?" answered Nettles breathlessly. "The reins are broken. He can't stop Joey."

A Circus Feat

"CAN'T stop it!" panted Paddy.

He and Nettles were racing together in pursuit of the flying trap. "You wait! I'll bet Tom has a thrick or two up his sleeve!"

By this time Joey was half-way down the street, and right in the middle of it. He was heading straight for the bridge. The bridge was the danger point, and Nettles's heart was in his mouth as he thought of the desperate nature of the peril.

Travelling at this furious pace, there was not one chance in a million of the cart's getting over that narrow, humped arch in safety. It was certain to hit the low parapet on one side or the other, in which case a wheel would be wrenched off, and Mrs. Colston and her crippled daughter either dashed against the wall, or flung right over into the river below.

There were others running besides the boys. The circus procession was forgotten, and one of the circus riders was trying hard to overtake Joey.

"I told ye so! See!" gasped Paddy as he ran.

Tom Cosby had gained his feet again, and was standing in the cart. He was going over the front of it. They watched him balance himself, then spring forward. How he did it no one could tell, but next moment there he was, astride of the flying pony, and reaching for the broken rein.

"He'll never do it!" muttered Nettles thickly. "He'll go over. He'll be killed!"

His heart almost stopped beating as he saw Tom flat on the cob's neck, reaching out with his left hand.

"He will!" cried Paddy breathlessly. "He has! Will ye look? Oh—fine, Tom! Fine!"

He was right. Somehow Tom had got hold of that flying end of broken rein. They saw him wriggle back, pulling with all his might. How he kept his balance was a miracle, yet he did. For a moment the strain hardly told, for Joey had the bit fast in those strong teeth of his. But Tom, for a mere boy, was extraordinarily powerful, and he was using all his strength. The runaway began to slow. The furious gallop slackened to a canter, then to a trot. Just as the circus man got clear of the crowd and, coming clattering past, drew up on the bridge, Joey, too, came to a stop.

"Hurray! Hurray for you, Tom!" croaked Nettles, still running.

The crowd behind broke into a wild cheer, and as Tom slid off Joey's back Mrs. Colston and Grace alighted.

"That was very well done," said Mrs. Colston, grasping Tom by the hands; and, quietly as she spoke, her voice was not quite steady. "You saved Grace, Cosby. I shall never forget it."

Tom's face was red as fire. He looked as if he would like to sink into the ground. He mumbled something quite inaudible.

By this time the people were all around him.

"Well done, my boy!" exclaimed a big, handsome man in riding breeches and gaiters. "Never saw a smarter bit of work in all my days!"

"It's Lord Liston," said someone close to Nettles.

On hearing this Nettles marched straight up to the big man.

"I want to speak to you, my lord," he said.

Liston turned in amazement and gazed at the smart, well-set-up youngster.

"Want to speak to me?" he repeated, in evident astonishment.

"Yes, about that boy who stopped the pony," went on Nettles, rather breathlessly. "He—he's my chum. His name's Cosby. He's the son of a fisherman. Just because he's that, they're going to turn him out of the school. You're a governor of Claycroft, sir. Can't you stop it?"

"Turn that boy out of the school!" roared Liston. "Why, they must be mad! Who wants to turn him out?"

"Some of the chaps who think he isn't good enough for them to associate with," replied Nettles bitterly.

"Young snobs!" ejaculated his lordship, now really angry. "But they shan't do it! You leave it to me, my lad. I'll make it my personal business, and don't you forget it. What's your name?"

"Netley, my lord."

"Burton Netley's son?"


"I know your father well. Remember me to him when you write. And take it from me that, whoever leaves the school, it won't be Cosby."

"Thank you," said Nettles; and his eyes were shining.

Next moment Paddy was squeezing his arm.

"'Tis a brick ye are, Nettles!" he whispered delightedly. "But didn't I tell ye not to worry—that something would happen?"

"Tom's safe! That's the great thing," said Nettles. "Hullo, there he goes! He's going to take Joey back."

Someone in the crowd had produced a length of rope to take the place of the broken rein, and Tom had made all ship-shape, and was now driving off back to the school. The crowd gave him a parting cheer as he went.

Nettles noticed with great satisfaction that Lord Liston was talking to Mrs. Colston. He could guess what it was about.

Paddy dragged him away.

"We'll be late for the circus," he insisted.

"Bother the circus!" said Nettles. "I've had all the circus I want already."

They made their way to the huge tent.

The circus was quite a good show, and Paddy enjoyed every moment of it. Nettles, however, was rather absent-minded. The fact was he was wondering how Lord Liston would handle Tom's business. He didn't quite see how he was going to stop Mansford and his precious crew from leaving the school.

The Tide Turns

WHEN they got back they found Tom busy splicing a bat. He was rather silent. In fact, they couldn't get a word out of him except that "Coaly had been jolly decent."

Later, when the three went to tea together as usual, Earle came up behind them and smote Tom on the shoulder.

"That was a jolly good bit of work, Cosby," said Earle. "And there's more than the Head who are grateful to you for saving Grace and her mother."

He walked into the dining hall with them, a great honour, for Sixth Form boys do not as a rule chum up with youngsters in the lower forms. But Earle, as Nettles knew, had done it on purpose. The whole school saw it, and many were the friendly looks which Tom got. In fact, everyone looked pleased except Mansford's lot, and they were careful to keep their mouths very close shut.

After tea, when they were going out, something else happened. A boy called Heighten, who had been one of Mansford's circle, came up to Tom. He was rather red and much embarrassed.

"I—I say, Cosby," he stammered, "I—I've been a pig to you. I—I'm beastly sorry."

"That's all right, Heighton," answered Tom.

"It—it isn't. I'd asked my father to take me away."

Tom's eyes widened.

"Shut up, you ass," hissed Nettles.

But the fat was in the fire. "I want to know," said Tom curtly.

Heighton looked wildly at Nettles.

"Oh, go on!" said Nettles sharply. "You've done it now."

"Well, I'm not going," burst out Heighton. "I've written to my father this afternoon, and told him what an ass I was."

And, leaving Tom in a state of blank bewilderment he bolted.

"What's he talking about?" demanded Tom.

There was nothing for it but to explain; and Nettles, anything but blessing Heighton for his foolishness, was forced to do so.

Tom went rather white.

"You see it was all a mistake my coming here," he said quietly. "I'll just have to shift off and not give anyone any more trouble."

Paddy cut in. "Tom, I called ye a coward the other day. Do ye want me to do it again?"

Tom took no offence.

"It's not that, Paddy," he said earnestly. "But I've brought nothing but trouble on you since I was here. I'll just go to the Head and save him trouble by telling him I'll go."

"You idiot!" burst out Paddy; but Nettles checked him. "Let him go if he wants to," he said coolly, and Paddy caught a wink which made him suddenly silent.

"The Doctor will talk to him," said Nettles, as Tom strode off.

Apparently he did, for Tom was curiously subdued when he came back. But he did not volunteer any particulars of what had happened, and Nettles and Paddy were content to let it go at that.

One morning, about a week later, a notice appeared on the school board signed by Dr. Colston, requesting the whole school to meet in the big schoolroom at half-past twelve. Big meetings of this sort were rare, and everyone was asking everyone else what was up, but no one seemed to know.

Sharp at half-past twelve in came Dr. Colston in gown and mortarboard. With him was a big man in tweeds, and behind came all the rest of the masters and several of the local people.

Nettles nudged Paddy. "That's Lord Liston with the Head," he whispered. "And Captain Gunn, too. Do you see him?"

The Doctor took his seat, and rapped for silence. Then he got up.

"Boys," he said in his big, deep voice, "I have asked you here today on a particularly pleasant occasion. It is to make a presentation to one of our number who, though the newest boy in the school, has proved himself worthy of the best traditions of our old foundation. This boy, by pluck and presence of mind of a rare order, has been the means, under Providence, of saving two lives inexpressibly dear to me." He paused a moment. His deep voice had become suddenly husky.

The silence was complete.

"I need not tell you to whom I refer," he went on, "or to what I refer. Most of you saw Cosby's feat, and are as proud of it as I am."

A roar of cheers made the rafters ring. As for Tom, he looked as if he would like to sink through the floor.

The Doctor made a gesture, and the cheering died to silence.

"Before I sit down I have to speak of something less pleasant. It has come to my knowledge that certain boys, I, will mention no names, object to the presence of young Cosby, because he is the son of a fisherman and has helped his father to earn his living with his own hands."

The silence became ominous. Many glances rested on Mansford. They were not friendly looks.

"Now, I wish to say," continued the Doctor, "that this sort of feeling denotes a snobbishness foreign to all our old traditions. It is an unpleasant spirit which we desire to see rooted out from the school. We have with us today Lord Liston, who is chairman of the Governing Committee of Claycroft. It is with his full knowledge and consent that I say that any boy here whose parents consider him too good to associate with Cosby is at liberty to withdraw from the school at the end of the term."

"Rather! Let 'em go!" came shouts from all over the big room.

The Doctor quelled the tumult.

"I have finished," he said.

"Lord Liston will speak to you."

Fresh cheering as Liston rose. In a short but capital little speech he told them that he had never seen a smarter bit of work than Tom Cosby's stopping of the runaway, and that he was proud of a country and a school that could produce such a boy.

"Now, Cosby," he said, smiling, "come up here, will you?"

Thunders of applause as Tom, looking positively scared, walked up to the platform.

Liston opened a small morocco, case, and displayed a handsome gold hunter watch, with chain.

"Something useful as well as ornamental," he said, still smiling genially. "And the inscription on the case will serve to remind you and others of a plucky act well done."

He handed the watch over, shook hands with Tom, and the cheering burst out again as Tom went back to his seat.

Once more his lordship spoke.

"I've asked your master for a half-holiday for you all in honour of the occasion."

Again a long cheer as the meeting broke up, and Tom was surrounded by a crowd all eager to see his prize. Nettles and Paddy walked away arm in arm.

"That's spiked Mansford's guns," said Nettles, with quiet satisfaction.

Paddy nodded. "I think ye are right this time, Nettles. And if Manny and his crowd clear out, sure it's the betther for all of us. There's him and Harney this minute," he added, pointing to the two, who were slinking away together towards the gates.

Could Paddy and Nettles have heard what the precious pair were saying, they might not have felt quite so happy.


MARK HANSFORD and Harney were not over keen about games, and very rarely played them. The fact is that they were both too slack to practise at the nets, and, as everyone knows, you can't be any good at cricket unless you do.

Very wisely, Dr. Colston did not allow boys to loaf about the school buildings on half-holiday afternoons, so on these occasions Manny and his particular pal usually went off for a walk. As a rule they chose some place within easy distance where they could get tea, and their walk was only for the purpose of working up an appetite for the good things.

One Saturday, about three weeks after the presentation to Tom Cosby, the two decided to go a bit farther afield than usual, and to walk as far as Marsea.

"I want to see where that chap Cosby lives," said Mansford. "And I'll tell you what, Harney, it would be a good notion to go and talk to his father. We might find out something useful about him."

Harney shook his head.

"Can't do that today, Mansford. Cosby has got leave for the weekend. He's gone home from today till Monday."

"That don't matter," said Mansford. "If we can't talk to his father, we're sure to run into someone else who knows him."

Harney looked rather doubtful.

"I don't want to run into Cosby himself," he said.

"We won't do that. Anyhow, he'll probably be out fishing or something of that sort," he added, with a sneer.

It was a lovely afternoon, and just the prettiest time of the year. Even the two fat slackers couldn't help enjoying their walk. They got to Marsea about half-past three, but instead of going straight down into the village strolled along the top of the cliffs.

Mansford looked at his watch.

"It's too early for tea," he said. "Let's squat down and take it easy for a bit."

He flung himself down on the short, crisp turf close to the edge of the cliffs, which here were of no great height, and Harney followed his example.

It was sleepy weather, and Mansford, pleasantly tired, was just closing his eyes when Harney roused him.

"There's Cosby now," he said sharply.

Mansford sat up quickly.


"In the boat. My goodness, look at the rig he's wearing! Does credit to the school, doesn't he?"

Mansford was wide awake now. His eyes were fixed upon Tom, who was sculling a small weather-beaten dinghy parallel to the cliff and only a hundred yards out. He was got up in a pair of ancient and much-patched trousers, big sea-boots, and a jersey which had once been blue, but was now green with age. In the stern of the boat was a garden fork, a bucket, and a tin biscuit-box.

"What's he after?" demanded Mansford. "What's he doing with that fork?"

"Blessed if I know," replied Harney, with a puzzled look on his podgy face. "He can't fish with it. Let's watch."

They had not long to wait for an explanation. A hundred yards or so to the left a low point of rocks ran out into the sea, ending in a long spit of mud, now bared by the ebb tide. Tom rowed straight to this, and stepped out on to the mud. First he carried the anchor well out across the spit, then, fork in one hand, biscuit-tin in the other, he walked half-way out along the little promontory, stopped, and began to dig.

Presently he dived down into the hole and brought up a long, reddish, wriggling object, which he dropped into the biscuit-box.

"Ugh, it's a worm!" said Mansford wrinkling up his nose in disgust.

"Lobs," explained Harney. "They're for bait."

The pair watched Tom work out towards the end of the spit.

Mansford turned quickly to Harney.

"I say, I've got a brain wave. Look here, if we went down along the rocks we could sneak his boat. He'd never see us."

"What's the use?" asked Harney doubtfully. "It isn't as if we could maroon him on the mud. He's only got to walk back along the spit and up the rocks."

"Yes, if he came at once, but he won't. He's too busy. Probably he'll be digging there for an hour or more. And look at that dip in the spit just beyond the end of the rocks. The tide's just turned. It'll be over that low place in half an hour or so, and I'll bet it'll be in over those big boots of his when he tries to cross it."

Harney was still doubtful.

"What are you going to do with the boat—take it away?"

"No, only shift it back closer to the rocks. Then we can hide up in the gorse here and watch him."

"But we've got to cross that soft bit ourselves to reach the boat," objected Harney.

"We can take our boots off and roll up our trousers," said Mansford, who was set on carrying out his silly scheme.

"You can jolly well do that yourself then," said Harney. "I'm not going to get myself all in a muck."

"You needn't come at all if you don't want to," retorted Mansford, crossly, as he rose to his feet.

By the time that Mansford reached the seaward end of the rocks, the tide had risen a little and had swung the boat in, so that, by stretching out, Mansford could just reach the stern. He glanced at Tom, but Tom had his back turned, and was busy digging, so Mansford stepped into the boat, released it, and then picked up a scull and paddled back.

Another minute, and he was safe on the rocks and had dropped the hook in between two of them.

"There, I told you so," he said triumphantly to Harney. "Easy as pie. Now let's get back and watch. I hope he goes in up to his neck," he added viciously.

With the flood the breeze increased, and small waves began to roll up over the spit. At last Tom was driven back, and, with his bait-can nearly full, turned and came back up the spit. It was not until then that he saw that his boat had been shifted; and Mansford, hiding in the gorse, hugged himself, and chuckled as he watched the puzzled frown on Tom's brown face.

Mansford, watching eagerly, saw Tom walk unhesitatingly into the water waist deep and come safely on to the rocks.

"You silly ass!" whispered Harney. "He didn't mind getting wet a bit."

Mansford did not answer. He was scowling as he watched Tom. Tom sat down on a rock, pulled off his boots, emptied out the water, pulled them on again, and turned to get into his boat. But here he was in a difficulty.

Mansford grinned malevolently.

"He can't reach the rope. It's under water."

He was right. The tide had risen over the hook and the rope, so that Tom could not reach either. Meantime the dinghy was bumping against a larger rock some distance away.

Finding he could not reach the hook Tom stood up. His purpose was clear. He would get into the boat, draw her up by the rope and jerk the hook out from the crevice where it was stuck.

But this big rock was a nasty one. It was narrow and sharp, and separated from the rest by a channel of water. Tom had to jump this channel to reach it.

The jump was only a yard or so—nothing to an athlete like Tom. Perhaps it was his heavy sea-boots that made him clumsy. At any rate, just as he jumped his foot slipped, his body struck the sharp-topped rock, he rolled right over it, and fell with a crash into the dinghy.

The Locket

"THAT'S one for his nob!" exclaimed Mansford eagerly.

Harney did not answer. He was looking down at Tom with a rather scared expression.

"I believe he's hurt," he said.

"Jolly good job too!" declared Mansford.

Harney swung round on him.

"What if he's killed?" he said sharply.

Mansford's grin faded.

"Killed! Rot! You're trying to scare me."

"I'm not. He's lying as still as a log, and his head's bleeding."

Mansford went white as paste.

"I'm going to clear out," he said.

If a bully, Harney had much more sense than Mansford.

"Don't be an ass. I bar the fellow as much as you do, but we can't leave him to bleed to death."

"I'm not going near him. I'm going back to the school," vowed Mansford, in a shaking fright.

"If you do I'll never speak to you again," replied Harney curtly. "This is all your silly fault, anyhow. Come on."

Mansford saw that Harney meant it, and very reluctantly followed him down on to the rocks. It was Harney who managed to get into the dinghy. He stooped and looked at Tom.

"He's insensible," he said. "We will have to take him to the beach. It's no good your getting into the dinghy, Mansford. You go round and meet me."

So saying, Harney cut the mooring rope, and with a few strokes brought the dinghy in to the beach, where Mansford met him.

"Help me to lift him out," he said.

Between them they laid Tom on the beach. He was limp as leather, and his eyes were closed.

"He's not d-dead," stammered Mansford.

"He's not dead, but he's got a precious ugly cut on the head. You stay here with him while I go and find someone."

Mansford caught him by the arm.

"You mustn't do that. They'd know it was us."

"It wasn't us; it was you," retorted Harney curtly. "And if you don't do what I say I'll jolly well tell 'em so. Meantime you try to stop that bleeding."

He stalked off; and Mansford, green with fright, stood stock-still on the beach, watching him. Then he remembered Harney's orders about stopping the bleeding, and, taking out his handkerchief, bent down and pressed it clumsily on the cut.

He was relieved to see that the cut was not deep. Also, that Tom was breathing easily.

"I don't believe he's much hurt, after all," he said to himself in a sort of snarl. It was at this moment that he caught sight of the thin gold chain around Tom's neck.

* * * * *

"It's all right. There are two chaps coming along the beach." Harney was breathless with running. "I spotted them just as I was rounding the bend in the cliff. They didn't see me, so that's all right. But they're coming this way, and they can't miss him."

Mansford got up quickly.

"Then we can hook it?" he said eagerly. "We can leave Cosby and clear out?"

"That's it. We'll go up the cliff again, and hide in the gorse. We must wait to see that they do find him, but if they do—well, that's all right, and we needn't appear in the business at all."

Mansford sighed with relief, and, leaving Tom where he lay, the two made themselves scarce with all speed.

Hidden in the gorse they looked down. Two fishermen were just rounding the bulge in the cliff a quarter of a mile away. They saw Tom lying on the sand, and at once quickened their steps.

But Tom himself was already stirring. He sat up and looked around him in a dazed sort of fashion. Then his hand went to his neck.

"What's he doing that for?" asked Harney.

Mansford did not answer. There was a very queer expression on his face—so queer that Harney stared at him.

The two men came up to Tom.

"Let's clear out," whispered Mansford in Harney's ear. Harney nodded, and the pair crept away through the gorse. Once out of sight of the top of the cliff, they rose to their feet and ran. Nor did they stop until they were a good half-mile away. Then, puffing hard with the unwonted exercise, they quieted down to a walk.

Harney was the first to speak.

"Why did Cosby put his hand to his neck like that?" he asked.

Mansford looked round to make sure no one was in sight.

"It's a locket hung round his neck on a gold chain," he answered in a mysterious whisper. "It's got a seal inside it."

"A seal?" repeated Harney.

"Yes, and the Netley crest on it."

"I suppose Netley gave it to him?"

"I don't believe Netley gave it him at all, for the locket has a date on it, and the date is June 5, 1905, and I happen to know that June 5 is Cosby's birthday."

Harney gave a low whistle.

"This is a rum go."

"It just about is," answered Mansford, and paused. "I say, Harney, I wonder if Cosby is really the son of that old fisherman chap?"

A Splendid Innings

TOM COSBY was due back on Sunday evening, and Nettles strolled down to the gates to meet him. He had hardly reached the lodge before Tom came in sight, carrying his bag.

"Hullo, old chap!" cried Nettles genially. "Had a good time?"

Then with a sudden change of tone: "Why, what's up? What have you been doing to yourself? Why is your head bandaged?"

"Had a tumble, Nettles. Stupid of me. I got rather a crack on the head."

"My dear chap, I am sorry. Is it much?"

"Just a cut," answered Tom, lightly, but Nettles saw that he looked white, and that there was none of the usual spring in his walk.

A sudden look of dismay crossed his face.

"I say, do you know you're down to play for the school on Tuesday against the Malton House Eleven?"

Tom stared.

"Me?" he exclaimed.

"Yes. Earle hasn't forgotten the way you slogged our bowling in the Marsea match. The list's up, and you're in it."

Tom whistled softly.

He assured Nettles that he would be all right by Tuesday though.

When Tuesday came Tom still had a patch of plaster on the side of his head, and Nettles saw that he was not looking as fit as usual.

It had rained hard in the night, but now the sun was shining.

"Faith, I'd hate to play on that pitch," said Paddy. "I'm thinking the bowlers'll have the best of it."

Nettles shook his head.

"Yes, it'll be pretty awful. Mud, with a skin over it. It'll break up badly later."

"Then I'm hoping we'll win the toss," said Paddy. "Whoever goes in first will get a big pull."

But luck was against the school. Earle lost the toss, and naturally Hobhouse, the Malton skipper, chose to bat first.

The Malton boys were a much bigger lot than the Claycroft. They were a team with a big reputation, and so far had only lost one match during the season. Everything seemed against Claycroft.

Hobhouse himself went in first, taking as partner a big, hard-hitting fellow called Galt. Knowing how the wicket was bound to break up, they resolved to make runs while they could, and both started hitting for all they were worth. They took all sorts of risks, and smote up 45 between them before Galt, was clean bowled by a ball from Earle that shot all along the ground.

The next man followed Galt's example, and made 15. Then Hobhouse smote a skier, and Tom got under it and brought off a fine catch. After that no one stayed very long, but all did their best to hit, and there were a good many boundaries scored. The innings closed for 137 runs.

"Sure, it's not so bad as I was expecting, Nettles!" said Paddy, cheerily. "They might have made more."

Nettles shook his head.

"You forget the pitch, Paddy. It's wicked!"

"It's worse than wicked." Tom had just joined them. "It's a mud pie. Well, we must just do our best, but honestly I don't think we've much chance."

Tom's prophecy seemed likely to be fulfilled, the first three wickets falling very quickly.

"Three for twenty-seven!" murmured Nettles, unhappily. "And three of our best men, too! There's no one else but Tom likely to do anything."

Tom joined Earle at the stumps, and to Nettles it was clear that he was not really fit.

"He ought not to be playing at all," he said to Paddy.

Paddy was not listening. He was watching intently as Tom faced Meredith, the Malton fast bowler.

The very first ball nearly got him, missing his off stump by an inch. The second Tom blocked. The over passed without a run being scored.

The school was very silent. They knew that Earle and Tom Cosby were their only hope. And Tom certainly was not playing as he had for Marsea.

Earle faced the bowling and snicked one for two. Then he got a single. It was Tom's turn. The next ball was pitched a bit to the off. Tom cut it hard, and away it sped through the slips. A boundary. The school yelled with joy.

"Tom's waking up," said Nettles.

It was true. Yet Tom was taking no undue risks, and the score mounted slowly. It rose to 73; then Earle tipped one into the wicket-keeper's hands. He had made 34, an uncommon good score considering the state of the wicket, and was cheered to the echo.

Bateman was the next boy in. He only stayed for three balls. Five for 73. The next four players made only three between them, while Tom, by careful work, acquired another 23 runs, and the score was 99 for nine wickets. The school, was very silent. The last man, Stacy, was a bowler, and no batsman.

As Stacy went out Earle met him and whispered something. Stacy, a silent sort of chap, merely nodded.

Tom faced the bowling. His face was rather white, but his jaw set firmly. Meredith sent down a stinger. Tom stepped right out and smote it to the rails.

The school woke up and roared again.

Meredith's next delivery came like a cannon ball. Tom stepped back to block it. Quite what happened it was hard to see, but the ball, shooting up, struck Tom on the chin with fearful force.

He staggered, dropped his bat, and fell flat on the turf.

There was a groan of dismay from all the spectators. The fieldsmen ran in, but it was old Ball, the umpire, who picked Tom up. Meredith hurried forward, full of apologies.

"Do ye think he's much hurt?" asked Paddy anxiously of Nettles.

"It was an awful smack," Nettles answered. "And on top of Sunday's damage. He must be knocked out."

"He's not," cried Paddy suddenly. "Sure, he's up again."

Up he was, and waving the others aside.

"Good heavens, he's not going on again?" came a deep voice behind Paddy and Nettles. It was Captain Gunn.

"It looks like it, sir," said Nettles.

"He is, too," cried Paddy, and the whole school cheered as they saw Tom again in front of his wicket.

He blocked the next ball, then all of a sudden ran out, opened his shoulders, and smote Meredith to the boundary.

After that he seemed to become possessed, and the school was treated to the finest display of hitting it had ever seen. Somehow Stacy managed to keep his end up, and Tom did the rest. The score went up by leaps and bounds.

Within twenty minutes from the fall of the ninth wicket a hurricane of cheers announced that Tom had made the winning hit, and the match was won.

"Never saw pluckier work in my life," roared Captain Gunn in a voice heard all over the field.

But the sensation of the afternoon was still to come. As Tom, still very pale but with a happy light in his eyes, came up to the pavilion, Earle stepped out. He waved his hand for silence.

"I think this is an occasion a little out of the common," he said in a clear voice. "Mr. Dudley agrees that Cosby has won his place in the School Eleven."

The school went crazy. They cheered till their voices cracked. As for Nettles and Paddy, they nearly wept with joy. It was the first time on record that any boy had got his colours during his first term, and that it should be Tom who had done so was the greatest joy Nettles had ever known. Even Paddy admitted that this was the finish of Mansford and the snobs.

Driven Out to Sea

IT was Captain Gunn who suggested the special celebration. Tom, Nettles, and Paddy were to come to his house on the following Saturday, and go with him in his motor-boat down the river and round to Marsea. There they would all have tea with old Dan, and come back later in the evening.

Dr. Colston made no difficulty about granting leave, and it was a very cheery party that embarked in the motor-boat after one o'clock dinner. It was a blazing afternoon, and the coolness on the water was delicious after the baking sun on land. They got down to Marsea in good time, and landed on the little stone jetty. Tom wanted to go straight up to his father's house, and Captain Gunn went with him. Nettles and Paddy, however, were keen to get a few whiting before tea, so taking Tom's old dinghy, they pulled away towards the very spit of rocks and mud where Tom had had his tumble on the previous Sunday.

It was high tide, and they anchored pretty close to the rocks and put their lines over. Next minute Paddy, whose ears were of the quickest, touched Nettles' arm.

"Voices, Nettles," he whispered. "And I'll be shot if one's not Manny's. What in the name of all that's wonderful is he doing here? Wait now. Let the boat drift in a bit, and I'll climb up over the rocks and drop some seaweed down his neck."

Nettles grinned, and let the boat slip in close under the rocks.

Next moment Mansford's voice came quite clearly to their ears.

"I'm ever so much obliged to you, Mr. Hearne. What you've told me is most interesting. What was the name of the steamer that was wrecked?"

"I told 'ee. She were the Carnforth, out o' Rio. You can read all about it in the papers o' that time."

Paddy paused.

"What the mischief is the chap talking about?" he muttered. "And who is he talking to?"

"Hearne's the old chap that lives close to the Cosbys," Nettles answered in an equally low voice. "Regular old gossip! I've heard Tom speak of him. But I can't imagine what Mansford's getting out of him."

Mansford spoke again.

"Well, good afternoon, Mr. Hearne. And here's a little something to buy tobacco, if you'll accept it."

"Thank 'ee kindly!" replied the old man.

There was a scratch of boots on the rocks, and Paddy dropped back gently into his seat. Catching hold of a trail of weed, he held the boat close in under the rock. Next minute they saw Mansford's stout figure appear on the crown of the ridge, scrambling up towards the top of the low cliff.

"'Tis a rummy game, this!" said Paddy, frowning. "What's up?"

"Beats me, Paddy. But it must be something worth while to bring Mansford so far from the school."

Paddy nodded. There was a curiously grave expression on his usually merry face. "I think I'll be telling Tom," he said.

Nettles shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't suppose he'll be able to throw much light on it. Dan might, though. We'll ask him about the wreck of the Carnforth. But that'll do at tea time. Let's see if we can get some fish, first."

The fish were not biting under the ridge. They pulled out farther and anchored on a mark a quarter of a mile out. The sea was like glass, the sun blazed down. There was a curious sting in its heat.

At last the fish began to bite, and both boys became so interested that they forgot everything else. The first thing that recalled them to a sense of their surroundings was a heavy crash of thunder which sent echoes bellowing all along the cliffs.

"Look at the sky!" cried Nettles.

Paddy whistled.

"Faith, there's the grandfather of all the thunderstorms coming!" he answered "Up wid that anchor, Nettles!"

Before they were well under way the sun was hidden under a rolling mass of purple-black cloud, whose inky heart was seamed with livid flashes of white and golden fire, while the thunder was crashing directly overhead.

Together they turned the dinghy's bow direct for the beach. But she was a heavy old tub, and though they tugged hard at the oars they were still a couple of hundred yards from land when the wind caught them. It came off the land, and the first gust struck the boat like a solid wall. In spite of their frantic efforts she was turned right round, and went skidding away across the water like a bubble.

The sea got up like magic, and the dinghy, tossing on the short, steep waves, became almost unmanageable. Then down came the rain, not in drops, but in sheets, like a tropical downpour. Nettles was hoping that, with the rain, the wind would drop, but not a bit of it. Though the rain flattened out the sea a little, it blew as hard as ever, while the thunder and lightning were simply terrific. In the glare of the flashes. Nettles saw the land getting more and more distant. His heart was in his boots, for he realised that in spite of all their efforts they were being blown out towards the mouth of the bay. Once outside they would be in a sea which no open boat could live in for five minutes. Worse than all, the tide was turning. The ebb was against them as well as the wind.

The Dead Man's Hand

NEITHER of the boys spoke; they had no breath to do so. Both tugged and strained at the oars, hoping against hope to keep the dinghy inside the bay until the first fury of the storm passed.

But the storm showed no sign of passing. True, the lightning became somewhat less vivid, while the thunder did not roar so loudly. But the wind blew as hard as ever, and, as they were driven farther out from the land, the sea got up and the short waves began to beat over the dinghy.

Rain and spray dashed over them with blinding fury, and, struggle as they might, the shore grew more and more distant.

Nettles glanced back over his shoulder, and through the haze of driving rain saw figures racing along the beach under the cliff.

"They've seen us!" he shouted to Paddy.

Paddy did not answer. His face was white with strain. Nettles saw that he was pretty near the end of his tether. He himself felt that he would not be able to last much longer.

The bow of the dinghy was pointed straight for land, but the weight of wind and tide combined was forcing her steadily away from the beach, and every moment the mouth of the bay showed nearer. Outside was open sea with steep, white-capped combers in which no open boat, let alone, this little dinghy, could live for a single minute. She would fill and swamp at once.

Cold despair crept into Nettles' heart. He was tempted to give up the unequal struggle, and let everything go. All his efforts and those of Paddy could only serve to put off for a few minutes the inevitable end of them both.

Yet, in spite of the hopeless outlook, he would not give up. Something within him told him that it would be cowardly. Paddy, too, stuck to his oar like grim death.

Another five minutes passed. To the two boys it seemed like five hours. They were now so close to the mouth of the bay that another minute at most would see them outside, and beyond the protection afforded by the northern point of cliff.

And still the wind howled with the same cruel force, while the great mass of cloud overhead was unbroken by a single rift of light.

Without the slightest warning the wind dropped.

For the moment Nettles could hardly believe his senses. Then he heard Paddy behind him give a sort of croak of delight.

"We're saved! We're saved!" he gasped.

Nettles looked once more at the sky. There was not the sign of a break, yet wind and rain alike had been cut off with miraculous suddenness.

"Pull, Paddy!" he panted. "It's only a lull. I don't believe it's over yet."

He was right. Next moment back came the wind with a force fit to take the breath out of their bodies. Only now it was not off the land, but the sea. It had swung right round and was blowing almost from the opposite direction—almost, but not quite, for now it was from the south-east.

Just at first Nettles did not realise this. He was only conscious of the fact that instead of being blown out to sea they were being driven landwards again.

"What luck!" he cried. "What luck, Paddy!"

But Paddy saw more than Nettles.

"'Tis from the south-east, Nettles. 'Tis blowing us into the Point there. We'll need to pull across it."

Next minute the two were pulling again as hard as ever. If the old danger had been that of being blown out to sea, the new one was just as terrible, for now the dinghy was being driven straight upon an ugly reef which stretched like a vast claw out from the inner edge of the northern cliff.

Five separate lines of weed-clad crags were plainly visible amid the tossing foam, and the reef, though the two boys did not know this, bore the ugly name of the Dead Man's Hand.

The rain had ceased, and the air had cleared, but the wind blew even harder than before; and, pull as hard as they liked, they could not keep the dinghy on her course.

What they were striving to do was to gain the spot from which they had started, but the whole weight of the wind was on the beam; and the dinghy's high side caught it so that she drifted two yards to leeward for every one she went forward.

"Turn her!" cried Nettles at last. "Turn her with her bow to the wind. It's our only chance."

They did so, but only to find that they were too late. They were now within less than one hundred yards of those claw-like points of rock, and almost within their deadly embrace.

They continued to pull for their very lives, but although they were so close to the shore their task seemed to be a hopeless one, and they began to think that they would never reach the shore.

The waves raised by the new gale were rolling straight in from the open sea, and were already so high that the dinghy was tossed on top of each like a cork, and rowing was almost impossible.

As the two now sat, the reef and the beach behind it were in full view, and now Nettles saw half a dozen people standing just on the edge of the breaking surf and helplessly watching the doomed boat driving shorewards.

There was Captain Gunn's tall, gaunt figure; there was Dan Cosby, and Tom with him.

Nettles became aware that Dan was signalling—waving his arms.

"Paddy," he cried, "Dan's beckoning us to come right in."

"But we'll be smashed—smashed on them rocks!" gasped back Paddy.

"The others are worse—the ones below and above. There's a sort of a bay between those two fingers. Turn her round, Paddy. We must try for it. It's our only chance."

"As ye say," answered Paddy breathlessly.

In the sea that was running the turning of the boat was a fearful risk, and but for Nettles' smartness they would certainly have swamped. As it was, a sea broke and filled her nearly a quarter full. But she was a stout little craft, and floated well. Next instant, with the wind behind her, she was dashing shorewards, dashing, however, to apparent destruction on the great rock fangs which showed their ugly heads above the welter of seething foam.

Mansford Watches

"THEY'VE done it! They're round! They're coming straight in!"

Dan Cosby's voice was bull-like above the shriek of the gale, and his sea-blue eyes were lit with a blaze of excitement.

"But the reef, man!" cried Captain Gunn. "The reef! The boat will be smashed to atoms before she reaches the beach, and what chance will the poor lads have in that cauldron of boiling surf?"

"It's bad. It's bad. I'll allow," Dan answered. "But 'tis their only chance, captain. The rocks opposite are close to the shore and lower than the rest. With luck she'll wash clean over them. Then we'll be ready.

"Put the rope round me, Tom," he added.

"Let me go, father," begged Tom.

"No. You're not heavy enough. This is a man's job, Tom. Quick, now."

With quick, sailor-like skill, Tom knotted the stout rope around his father's waist, and the fine old fisherman, in his huge sea boots and thick knitted jersey, strode down into the waves that pounded on the sand. Behind him, with the rope held hard in his great, powerful hands, was Captain Gunn, and, ten feet behind him, Tom.

The shoreward end was held by two of the local fishermen. The sixth and last person on the beach was Mansford, who had been caught by the storm and had taken refuge in Hearne's cottage.

It was the sight of the boat in distress that had brought him down to the beach.

None of them noticed him. All eyes were on the boat which was rushing in with tremendous speed. Now it was flung up on top of a curling wave, then hidden in the deep trough.

Tom, as he watched, felt almost sick with anxiety. Never until now had he come to know how much Nettles and Paddy meant to him.

Raised high on a foaming crest the little boat came rushing clean over the first line of rocks. Then she dropped into a hollow, hidden in a haze of flying foam.

Up again. Tom's heart was in his mouth. She was now within two lengths of the second and last line of rocks. Tom longed to rush forward, yet knew he must wait for his father. Dan's knowledge of this coast and its sea was unequalled in Marsea.

Up came the dinghy once more.

"Now!" roared Dan, and plunged forward.

Down came the dinghy. There was a crash heard even above the roar of wave and wind. The little boat had struck the inner reef, and in an instant was nothing but a medley of broken planks.

Dan made a rush. For a moment he was out of sight, smothered, under a curling wave. The rope tightened. Tom, waist-deep himself, drove his heels into the sand and held on like grim death.

The wave went roaring out, and Tom, if he had had any breath left, would have yelled with joy. For there he saw his father with Nettles, while Captain Gunn had Paddy in his great grip.

"Back afore the next wave comes!" shouted the men on the beach. The rope tightened, Tom flung his weight back, and up they came. Before the next roaring comber came smashing on the beach all were safe beyond its rage.

"That was fine!" cried Captain Gunn in his great voice, as he dropped Paddy to his feet. "How's Netley?"

"All right, sir," panted Nettles, sweeping the salt water from his eyes. "Mr. Cosby got me almost before I went under."

"He's a wonder," declared the captain. "How did you do it, Dan?"

"Knowed the place, sir. It was the very spot as the boat from the Carnforth came ashore more'n fourteen year ago. That there nearest, rock breaks the force of the waves. That's how I came to be able to go in so deep."

"The Carnforth!" exclaimed Captain Gunn, in a voice that was suddenly sharp and hoarse. "You don't mean she was wrecked here?"

"Ay, that she was, sir. A terrible business. There was only one saved, and I were the one who got him."

"Who was that?" demanded the captain.

"Why, Tom there. I thought everyone knowed."

"Then he is not your own son?"

"My adopted son. Never knowed his real name, and he were too small to talk. So I 'dopted him, and he've been a good son to me ever since."

Mansford, who had come close up, saw Captain Gunn stagger slightly, while the colour drained out of his sun-tanned face. Mark stood listening tensely for what would come next.

He was disappointed. With a great effort Captain Gunn pulled himself together. He caught Nettles by the arm.

"Run, boy, run! We must get back and change our clothes."

They all ran down the beach, back towards Dan's cottage.

Mansford stood watching them with a curious expression on his face.

"It all fits in," he said to himself. "It all fits in with what old Hearne told me. The chap's not old Dan's son. The question is who's his father? That's what I've got to find out."

He walked away, and climbed a path leading up the cliffs. He went slowly, frowning as if in deep thought. At the top of the cliff he paused, and stood staring after Captain Gunn, who was still in sight on the beach below.

"But what made him look so funny?" he asked himself. "Why did he start, and go so pale? Seems as if he knew something about it."

He paused again, then seemed to make up his mind, and started back toward Claycroft.

The Conspirators

FOR the second time in ten minutes Harney came into the study which he shared with Mansford, and stood, with the door half open and a peevish expression on his rather stupid face, looking at Mansford, who was busy writing.

"Are you going to be all day over that letter?" he asked at last. "You said you were coming down to the tuck shop about an hour ago. There won't be a single jam puff left if you don't come now."

"I'm busy," returned Mansford. "I can't go out till I've finished this letter."

"I never knew you write such a long letter," grumbled Harney.

"I never had anything so important to write about," replied Mansford.

Harney flung himself sulkily into a chair. Mansford went on—scribble—scribble. It was another quarter of an hour before at last he folded the sheets he had covered; put them in an envelope, addressed it, and leaned back in his chair with a sigh of relief.

"Only hope you'll get something out of it," grunted Harney.

"Shouldn't wonder if I got quite a lot out of it," replied Mansford, with a queer smile. "It's on the cards I'll get square with that young beast Netley at last."

Harney sat up sharply.

"Do you mean it?"

"I jolly well do. I can't say yet, of course, but I vow there's something in it."

"Do you mean about that locket you spoke of the other day?"

Mansford looked at Harney and grinned.

"You're not such a fool as you look, Harney. Yes, that's what I'm after. I wrote to my father at once, and told him about it. He's a lawyer, you know. And he wrote back and told me to tell him all I knew, and that's what I've done."

"But I don't understand," said Harney quickly. "Do you mean that this fellow Cosby is some relation to Netley?"

"That's just what I do mean," answered Mansford.

Harney scowled.

"What's the good of that? How does it help us? The two young brutes will be pleased all to pieces. They're thick enough to be brothers as it is."

Mansford chuckled. It was not a pleasant sound.

"Suppose Cosby was the elder brother?" he said.

Harney sat up with a jerk.

"You mean Tom Cosby might be Jack Netley's elder brother?"

"No, you idiot. But Cosby's father might be Netley's father's elder brother. If he is, or was, then Cosby gets the cash."

Harney was so startled that he sat staring at Mansford with his mouth and eyes both wide open.

Mansford laughed again. He was delighted at the effect he had produced.

After a while Harney dropped back to a more comfortable position.

"From what old Hearne told you, and from what Dan Cosby said, we know that Tom Cosby is not Dan's son." he said. "But is there anything except the locket to show that he's related to Netley?"

"There is," said Harney triumphantly. "My father's found that out. In the summer of 1905 there was an advertisement in several papers offering a reward of £500 for any information as to survivors from the wreck of the Carnforth."

"But why didn't Dan Cosby claim it?"

"He never saw it. These fisher-folk never read newspapers. Anyhow, Marsea is an out-of-the-way place, with no big town near. The Carnforth sank, or broke up, before she reached the beach. She was reported as 'lost with all hands.'"

"Who put in the advertisement?"

"Ah, that's the question! My father says it was done by a firm of lawyers. But he's going to find out all about it."

"Does he know whether Netley's father had an elder brother?"

"That's another thing he's going to find out."

"It might be a younger brother," said Harney sagely.

"You're not so thick as I thought," said Mansford, with a patronising air. "There is that to be thought of. But as Cosby is older than young Netley, the chances are that the brother, if there was one, was the elder."

"Some disreputable chap who was sacked out to the Colonies," chuckled Harney—"a black sheep."

"That's what I'm hoping," said Mansford. "Anyhow, we shall soon find out, and then we'll settle scores once and for all with that young upstart Netley."

Harney nodded.

"Good business! We'll teach him a thing or two before we've finished. Now are you coming to the tuck-shop, Mansford?"

"No. I've something else to do."

"What's that?"

Mansford looked mysterious. He hesitated.

"I don't think I'll say," he said.

"Oh, do!" begged the other. "Perhaps I can help you."

Mansford looked hard at him.

"I hadn't thought of that. Perhaps you could. All right, I'll tell you."

He looked at the door to make sure it was shut, then leaned across, and whispered to Harney.

Harney started.

"I say, it's a bit risky, isn't it?"

"Not a bit. He's out. He's gone away for the day."

"But there's his housekeeper."

"We'll have to watch out for her. But she's sure to go out some time during the afternoon. That will be our chance. Don't come if you're scared," he added scornfully.

"Oh, I'll come!" said Harney.

Two to One

AT the same time that the two conspirators were talking over their unpleasant plans, Tom, Nettles, and Paddy were also engaged in a serious discussion.

"Mansford is up to something, Tom," said Nettles gravely. "That's twice he's been sneaking round. You know he was on the beach the day your father—that is, Dan, I mean—got us out of the water."

"He's always at some game or other," said Tom, with a shrug of the shoulders. "But what harm can he do?"

"I don't know," confessed Nettles. "I wish I did. But it's no good. I'll be bound."

"He's up against us, of course," agreed Tom. "That's only natural. We've bumped against him pretty hard, and more than once. But I think you're worrying yourself for nothing, Nettles. There's nothing for him to find out about us—nothing wrong, anyhow."

He got up.

"I've got a cake in my locker. Let's have some."

"A mighty good notion," grinned Paddy. "I feel like cake."

The cake was a fine, plummy one. Tom planted it on the table and felt in his pocket.

"Bother! Where's my knife?" he exclaimed.

"All right; I have one," said Nettles.

Tom took it and carved the cake. Then he tried all his pockets.

"I don't want to lose my knife," he said. "Wonder what I've done with it."

Nettles took a bite at the cake.

"Tell you what: you had it up at the captain's house the other night. You were cutting some string."

"And I left it there!" exclaimed Tom. "I remember quite well. I left it on the chimney-piece. I'll go and get it."

Snatching up his cap, he hurried off. Nettles watched him go; then turned to Paddy.

"I hope the dear old chap is right about Mansford, Paddy," he said. "All the same, I'm a bit uneasy. I can't help thinking that Mansford has something up his sleeve."

"I'm with ye there," replied Paddy. "'Tis in my mind that throuble's brewing."

Tom, meantime, had gone quickly across the quadrangle, out of the gates, and taken the short cut across the field. He was in a hurry, for he was anxious to get up to the nets for an hour's practice before tea.

Coming into the path leading from the captain's house to the village, he met Mrs. Hussey, Captain Gunn's housekeeper, with a basket on her arm. She stopped.

"The captain's away this afternoon, sir. He's gone to Terringham."

"I left my knife in the study, Mrs. Hussey. Can I get it?"

"Why, of course you can, sir! Go in by the back-door. The key is on the ledge over the scullery window."

"Thanks awfully!" said Tom; and hurried on.

Captain Gunn kept his place beautifully. House and garden were bright with fresh paint and brilliant flowers. It looked so pretty under the afternoon sun that Tom stopped a moment and gazed at it.

"What a topping place!" he said, with a little sigh. "Couldn't I be happy with a home like that?"

Then his mood changed.

"I'm an ungrateful pig!" he said. "Dan's the best chap in the world, and if he isn't really my father, no man could have been kinder or more decent."

He went on again more briskly, and, going through the back entrance, found the key, opened the door, and went into the house.

The kitchen, like everything else about the place was spotlessly clean; the fire was banked down in the range. Rows of pots and pans, scoured like silver, were arranged on the snow-white dresser.

Tom knew his way, and, passing through a passage, pushed open a swing-door and reached the hall. Three rooms opened off the hall, the dining-room, a rarely used drawing-room, and Captain Gunn's pet room which he called his study. It was a good-sized, low-ceilinged room, very comfortably furnished, and the walls hung with Indian weapons from Yucatan, and all sorts of curiosities which the captain had picked up in his wanderings.

At the far end was a door leading into a workshop, a neat wood and iron building where there was a carpenter's bench and a lathe. Tom went straight into the study, and, pulling up short, stared round in great amazement.

"Great Scott!" he exclaimed. "What's up?"

There was good reason for his astonishment. The room, usually so perfectly neat and tidy, was in the wildest confusion. Nearly every drawer of the big oak writing-table had been pulled out. Cupboards were open, and piles of letters and papers lay tumbled on the top of the table.

Tom forgot all about his knife.

"Burglars, by Jove!" were the words that escaped his lips; and instinctively he turned to the window. It was open at the top, but he could see no signs of anyone having entered or left that way.

Whoever they were, he must have disturbed them in the middle of their work. Probably they had heard the swing-door bang. Then where had they gone?

The workshop, of course! And that, no doubt, was the way by which they had broken in. He strode across the room to the workshop door and flung it open. He looked round.

No sign of anybody there. As he stood in the doorway, with one hand on the door-handle, looking straight in front of him, he thought he heard a slight rustle behind him. He was in the act of turning when a heavy rug was thrown over his head, and a pair of arms gripped him around the waist. Before he could even begin to struggle, his legs were kicked away from under him, and he came down with a crash on the polished boards. At the same time someone's knees were on his chest.

Tom fought like a fury, but his arms were pinned to his sides, and the rug held so tightly over his head that he was almost suffocated. He could only kick.

The whole weight of one of his assailants was on his chest, while the other held the rug hard over his face.

"Let me up!" gasped Tom. "You're choking me!"

There was no answer. Neither of his attackers uttered a word or a sound. They only held him the tighter.

His struggles became more feeble, black specks danced before his eyes; he felt an agonising pain in his chest. Then a deadly numbness came over him. He struggled once or twice convulsively, and suddenly straightened out and lay very still.

The Button

CAPTAIN GUNN had gone to Terringham to see his lawyer. The business which he had with him took less time than he had expected, and as it was early closing day there was no temptation to stay and shop.

Looking at his watch, the captain found that it was twenty minutes to five, and promptly decided that he would get home for tea.

His smart little two-seater made light of the five-mile run, and it was still a minute or two before the hour when he backed her into her garage and went round to the front door.

It was locked.

"Oh-ho!" smiled the captain. "So Mrs. Hussey is out visiting! Well, I can't blame her. I told her I wouldn't be in before six."

He went round to the workshop. This had an outer door, into which he fitted a key taken from his pocket. He walked in lightly, then pulled up as suddenly as Tom had done some time earlier. A sharp exclamation escaped his lips, and he strode forward towards the opposite door and bent over a figure which lay stiff, helpless, and insensible on the floor.

"Tom!" he said hoarsely.

"Tom! Impossible!"

For an instant he stared as if he could not believe his own eyes, but only for an instant. Then down he stooped, and, swinging up Tom's insensible body in his strong arms, carried him through into the study and laid him on the couch.

Hurrying out, he fetched cold water, a sponge, and restoratives. He knew exactly what to do, and did it with quick and steady hands. His face as he stooped over Tom was strangely set and stern.

Presently Tom sighed, opened his eyes, and looked up vaguely at the captain. He smiled faintly; then tried to sit up.

"Where are they?" he asked hoarsely. "Have you got them?"

"No. Lie still, Tom. Who were they?"

"I don't know, sir; I never saw them. Someone chucked a rug over me from behind."

"How long ago?"

"I don't know. I came up after my knife. It was about a quarter to five."

"And it's just the hour now. Whoever they were they've got away. From the look of the place they seem to have been burglars."

"That's what I thought," said Tom. "When I came into the room I saw all the drawers open and everything in confusion. I went to the workroom door to see if there was anyone in there, and just as I had opened the door someone came up behind and threw the rug over me. There were two of them, for one knelt on me and the other choked me."

"Two? Lie where you are. I'll have a look round and see what's missing."

He went to the desk and began running through the papers, and then, when he had finished these, the drawers. For five minutes or so he was very busy. At last he turned a puzzled face to Tom.

"I can't see that anything's missing. You must have disturbed them before they found anything worth having."

"Are you sure there's nothing gone? They'd have had plenty of time after they choked me. I didn't know a thing until I felt the cold sponge on my face."

"There's no money gone, anyhow," said Captain Gunn. "All that was here was in this small tin box in the top drawer. That's not been opened."

"It's a queer business, sir," said Tom, looking puzzled. "They wouldn't have broken in if they hadn't been after something special."

"You wouldn't think so," the captain agreed. "And, come to think of it, this is a funny time of day for burglars to be about. Whoever they were, they must have known that I was out, and must have watched Mrs. Hussey leave the house.

"I met her on the path," Tom told him. "So they couldn't have been here long when I came in."

As he spoke Tom sat up, then rose to his feet. But he was still so giddy that he staggered.

"Lie down again," ordered Captain Gunn. "You'll stay here this evening. Yes, I mean it. I will go over and explain to Dr. Colston. I'll tell him just what's happened."

Tom was not sorry to keep quiet; his head was still very queer. The captain clapped on his hat and went off, and Tom lay on the sofa. Weary and shaken as he was, he was too excited to rest quietly. He kept looking about the room, wondering if the burglars had left any traces of their presence.

Suddenly his wandering glance fell upon a small object lying on the carpet close to the door. He stared at it for a moment, then got up, walked slowly towards it, and picked it up.

It was a button—not an ordinary button, by any means, for it was large and covered with leather.

Tom got back to his sofa and lay down again. He held the button up to the light and frowned as he stared at it.

"It's off a tweed coat—a Norfolk jacket," he said. "What's more, I believe I've seen some just like it somewhere."

His eyes widened.

"It could never have been a burglar. No burglar could have worn clothes with buttons like that. Wait, now!"

He sat up again with a sharp gasp.

"I know," he said, out loud. "That's off Harney's coat!"

Tom Tackles Harney

THE shock of the discovery was so great that it left Tom breathless. He sat staring at the button without moving, until suddenly he heard the outer door of the workroom open. The captain was coming back.

Tom slipped the button hastily into his pocket. He could not tell the captain—not now, at any rate. A hot flush rose to his cheek at the thought that any Claycroft boy could have done such a thing. Though he had only been a member of the school a few weeks, Tom held its honour very high.

"It's all right," said Captain Gunn cheerily. "I told the Doctor, and he was very decent about it. Said you could stop the rest of the evening with me. You'd like to, eh?"

"There's nothing I should like better, sir," replied Tom truthfully.

The captain's eyes twinkled.

"Mrs. Hussey's just back. Nice state she'll be in when she hears what's happened! I'll tell her I'll let her off on condition she cooks an extra good supper for us. What shall we have, Tom? How would mutton cutlets, new potatoes, green peas, and jam tart suit you?"

"Sounds topping, sir," said Tom smiling.

The captain was in great spirits. He seemed to have forgotten all about the attempted burglary, and laughed and joked like a big boy. Tom shook off his depression, and gave himself up to enjoying his host's company and the good things Mrs. Hussey provided.

By nine o'clock, when it was time for him to go back to his dormitory, he had quite got over the effects of the cowardly attack, and was feeling comparatively cheerful.

The captain came with him to the garden gate.

"Good-night, Tom," he said. "I hope you've not been too dull."

"Dull!" repeated Tom. "Why, I never had a better evening!"

He said it with such evident sincerity that the captain's mahogany face broke into a smile.

"Come again," he said heartily. "If you can put up with an old man's company; come in whenever you like. I mean it."

Tom looked at him.

"I will, sir," he said quietly. The captain's great hand closed hard on his, and Tom went away strangely cheered and comforted. He had the feeling that he had found a friend, a very real friend.

For once he did not confide in Nettles or Paddy. He did not tell them a word of what had happened. Quite why he hardly knew, but he had a sort of feeling that it was best not to mention his discovery even to them. This was his own job, and he meant to tackle it single-handed.

All next morning, in the intervals of school work, he was thinking over the business, and wondering how best to set about it. He came to the conclusion that it was best to get Harney by himself. It was no good, he felt, tackling Mansford. One thing he noticed was that Harney was not wearing the same suit as on the previous day.

At twelve, when morning school ended, Tom slipped up to the dormitory. There was no one about. Harney's clothes hung in the cupboard by his bed. A quick glance at them turned Tom's suspicions into a certainty, for there was a Norfolk jacket with buttons of the same sort as the one he had in his pocket, and the second from the top was missing.

Tom went straight downstairs and out into the quadrangle. Most of the boys were in the playing-field, the fives courts, or gymnasium. The quad was nearly empty. Tom was resolved to get hold of Harney, but the question was how to find him alone and unaccompanied by Mansford.

Fortune favoured him. At that very minute he saw a boy going quickly out of the gate, and, by the rather loud pattern check he was wearing, knew him at once for Harney.

Tom quickened his pace and saw the boy heading for the village. No doubt he was going down to the tuckshop. Hurrying after him, he caught him just at the fork of the road, where one branch led to the village and the other to the railway station.

He came up alongside.

"Harney," he said, "I want to speak to you."

Harney turned sharply, and Tom saw an expression half fright, half anger, cross his pasty face. But the boy recovered himself quickly.

"I don't want to speak to you," he retorted rudely, and started off again at a quick pace.

Tom was alongside again in six strides, and his fingers closed like a vice on Harney's arm.

"On this occasion I'm afraid you'll have to," he said grimly. "No, don't try to get away. This is serious."

"I don't know what you mean," snapped Harney, but Tom saw that his lips were twitching.

Tom drew him down the road towards the railway. There was no one in sight in that direction.

"You very soon will know," he said. "What were you doing at five o'clock yesterday afternoon?" Tom felt the muscles twitch in Harney's arm. But the fellow still tried to bluff.

"What's that to you?" he retorted. "You're not my keeper."

"Thank goodness I'm not. But it seems to me quite likely that you will have a keeper of quite another sort very shortly."

This time Harney started like a frightened horse.

"What do you mean?" he cried.

"That burglars go to prison," replied Tom sternly.

"You're crazy. What are you talking about?"

"About you and Mansford burgling Captain Gunn's house yesterday afternoon. That's what I am talking about."

"You must be mad. I was never near the old fool's house."

"You are lying," said Tom with sudden sharpness. "I have absolute proof that you, at any rate, were there. Look at this!" As he spoke he took the button out of his pocket, and held it up in front of Harney.

The result was startling. With a sudden cry of terror Harney broke away, and started running like a lunatic down the road which here ran parallel with the railway, and at some height above it.

Tom was so startled that Harney had got a start of fifty yards before he recovered himself and went in chase.

"Stop!" he shouted. "Stop, you idiot!"

Harney only ran the faster. Sudden blind panic had seized him. For the moment the boy was crazy.

Tom gained fast. Hearing the steps closing on him, Harney darted to the left, ducked, plunged head foremost through the wire fence, and started down the embankment. It was steeper than the roof of a house. Next instant the young idiot had lost his footing and was rolling down the bank like a sack of coals.

It was at that moment that the thin, distant whistle of a train came to Tom's ears.

In the Tunnel

TOM was the sort of boy who doesn't waste time making up his mind when in a tight place. He had proved that already, on the day when he had saved the lives of Mrs. Colston and her daughter.

He was through the fence as quickly, but not as clumsily, as Harney, and, finding the side of the cutting too steep to run down simply let himself slide feet foremost.

He had fully expected to see Harney knocked out by his fall. But by some lucky chance Harney had fallen soft, and was not hurt. Before Tom was half way down the bank, Harney was on his feet again, and running full pelt down the line. Either he had not heard the train whistle at all or he was in such utter panic that he was more afraid of Tom than of the train.

Fifty yards ahead the line plunged into a tunnel, and it was for the mouth of this that Harney made at full speed.

"Stop, you idiot!" roared Tom. "There's a train coming."

He might as well have shouted to a rabbit. Harney was clean crazed with terror, and the one idea in his head was to get away from Tom, though what good he could do by that was a mystery to anyone but himself. Next instant he had vanished under the smoke-blackened arch of the tunnel.

Tom glanced back. The train was already in sight, coming round the curve only a couple of hundred yards away. He groaned in horror. "He'll be killed," he gasped. Then he was off at top speed in pursuit.

It was a brave thing to do. Tom knew well enough that, even though the tunnel was of no great length, it was humanly impossible for either him or Harney to reach the far end before they were overtaken. For the train was the midday express, and would not stop at the station. It was coming at a good fifty miles an hour.

Yet it was not until he was actually inside the tunnel that he fully realised the danger into which he had run. The line was only a single one, and the rock sides, sweating with water, were so close upon the permanent way that there did not seem room to stand aside. Even if there was, Tom knew what the draught was. In a confined space like this, the rush of air would whip him away from the wall and fling him sideways under the grinding wheels.

The tunnel was dead straight, and the opposite end plainly visible. It showed the Claycroft station bathed in sunlight, but looking small as a doll's house, or as a real place seen through the wrong end of a telescope. He saw Harney, too. Outlined against the light, the boy sped like a puppet figure towards it.

Once more Tom shouted, but even if Harney heard he paid no attention. For the moment the boy was completely off his balance, crazy with fright.

Next moment came the roar of the train in the cutting just outside the tunnel. The sleepers quivered under its ponderous rush. Tom made a frantic spurt, and gained fast. Could he reach Harney before the train caught him? That was the question. It was a race for one life, if not two.

The train was in the tunnel. Its thunder was deafening. Clearly the driver had seen nothing, for he had not slackened speed.

The light grew brighter each instant, but still Tom saw, with sinking heart that neither he nor Harney could possibly reach the entrance before they were caught.

Harney caught his toe on a sleeper. He stumbled, and very nearly went on his head. Somehow he saved himself, but the delay, short as it was, gave Tom his chance. With a last desperate effort he drew up, and just as the train was almost on him reached Harney, flung himself upon him bodily, and threw him flat on his face between the metals.

"Lie still!" he hissed in his ear. "Lie still! It's your only chance."

Harney lay still enough, and Tom had just time to flatten himself on top of him when the great engine came roaring over the pair. Tom felt a blast of air; a whirl of dust and smoke enveloped him. Then a fearful blast of heated air which, for a terrible moment, seemed as if it must draw him up and tear him from his hold. He drove his fingers into the ballast and hung on.

In a flash the engine had passed, then the heavy carriages came roaring overhead. Was there anything hanging—any coupling or air brake that might catch him? Tom did not know, and the next few seconds were so loaded with suspense that they seemed to stretch into an eternity of horror. He could plainly feel the impact of each coach, as it came rushing over. He was suffocated with dust and heat, yet cold chills of horror made his very skin creep.

It was lucky for him that the ordeal did not last long. No human frame could have stood it without going mad. Tom could hardly believe his own senses when he found that the last coach had whirled by and that he and Harney were still unhurt.

Half blind, streaming with perspiration, he scrambled to his feet, and stood swaying, with his head spinning giddily. Then, stooping again, he caught Harney by the shoulder.

"It's all right, Harney," he cried. "It's all right. We're safe."

Harney did not move or speak. He lay flat on his face, still as a log. Tom stared down at him. The boy's eyes were closed, his face was the colour of tallow. There was blood on his face.

Tom's eyes filled with horror. "Did anything hit him?" he said hoarsely.

Summoning all his remaining strength, he lifted Harney, slung him over his shoulder, and went staggering out of the tunnel down towards the station.

Nettles Has Bad News

"OH, mother, look at those boys. Oh, dear, what is the matter?"

The voice was that of little Grace Colston, and Tom, looking round vaguely, saw her seated in the pony-trap just outside the station.

Next moment Mrs. Colston herself was running up the platform towards him, and with her a porter.

"What is it, Cosby?" she asked breathlessly. "Has there been an accident?"

Tom, almost too spent to speak, staggered to the end of the platform and laid Harney down.

"He—Harney—fell, Mrs. Colston," he said, in a thick whisper. "The—the train went over us, but I don't think he's hurt badly." Then black specks began to dance madly before his eyes, and all of a sudden he sat down flop on the ground.

"You poor boy!" Mrs. Colston's softly-spoken words came dimly to his ears. She turned to the porter. "Foster, pick up Mr. Harney and take him to the pony carriage."

Foster, a big, strong man, swung up Harney easily enough. By this time the station-master himself had seen that something was wrong, and came hurrying up. With his help Tom got as far as the station-master's office, where Mrs. Colston left him, with orders to wait until she came back. The station-master, good fellow, dosed him, and pulled him round quickly.

Of course, he wanted to know just what had happened. All Tom told him was that he had seen Harney go into the tunnel by the embankment and had run after him to warn him that the train was coming. Then, as it was right on top of them, he had held him down between the metals till it had passed over.

"The only thing you could have done, my lad," said the station-master, with warm approval. "If you'd have tried to get him off the permanent way you'd both have been killed. But what in the name of sense was this other doing in the tunnel?"

Tom let this question remain unanswered, and presently back came the pony-trap, with Grace driving.

"Mother's with Harney," she told Tom. "She's afraid he has slight concussion. He's quite insensible. Now, tell me all about it."

But this, of course, Tom could not do. He could only say what he had already said to the station-master. Grace, who now had a quiet pony, drove him back to the school, and, though he vowed he was all right, insisted on taking him to the sick-bay. Here he had a bath and a change of clothes, both of which he badly needed, and then the doctor himself came in.

Tom knew this would happen, and dreaded the interview. Just as he had expected, the Doctor demanded the whole story. Tom looked at him.

"Do you mind if I don't tell you, sir?" he said bluntly.

The Doctor stared hard at him. "So there's something behind this—eh, Cosby?"

"A good deal, sir."

The Doctor was silent a moment.

"Cosby," he said, "I know—I know, perhaps, more than you fancy of the persecution which you and Netley and Brough have endured at the hands of Mansford and Harney and one or two others. Is this part of the same business?"

"I suppose it is, sir. But there's something at the back of it all which I haven't got the hang of. And, if you don't mind, I'd much rather not say anything till I know a bit more."

The Doctor looked very grave indeed.

"Cosby," he said, "I know nothing but good of you, and I would trust you as far as I would any boy in the school. But I think you must see for yourself that, in a case like this, I have a right to ask for your full confidence."

Tom felt almost desperate. If he told all he knew there was no hope for Harney and Mansford. They must be found guilty of something little short of burglary, and would not only be expelled, but even, perhaps, sent to prison. His face was quite haggard as he lifted it to the doctor.

"I simply can't tell, sir. If you like to send me away, you must."

Doctor Colston looked at him searchingly. "If I give you twenty-four hours to decide, will that make any difference?"

Tom hesitated.

"It might, sir, that is, if Harney comes round, and I can have a talk with him."

"Very good." There was relief in the Doctor's voice. "Then I will give you until he is able to speak to you. But after that I warn you that I shall insist."

"Yes," he added. "I fully understand how one boy hates sneaking or tale-bearing about another. But there are cases, and this is one, where the matter is serious enough to threaten the good name of the school. When there is this danger scruples must be laid aside, and the individual sacrifice himself for the common good. Now, you will have your dinner here, and afterwards you can go out to your work as usual. You shall know as soon as Harney is fit to see you."

"Thank you, sir," said Tom gratefully, and with a nod the Doctor left the room.

News of Tom's exploit had spread, and a score of boys surrounded him when he got back to the big schoolroom. But he put them off laughingly, and went to find Nettles and Paddy. He discovered them together in the box-room, which at this time of day was pretty well deserted, and the first thing that struck him was that Nettles' face was graver than he had ever known it.

Tom came up quickly.

"What's up, old man?" was his first question.

Nettles looked up at him, then took a letter from his pocket and handed it over.

"Read that," was all he said. Tom read it. When he had finished, his face was whiter than Nettles'.

"You're leaving Claycroft?" he gasped.

"I've got to," replied Nettles gravely. "I can't stay here unless my father pays my bills, and if he's got no money left he can't do that."

Tom stared at Nettles with horrified eyes.

"But I don't understand. Who's got the money?"

"This new claimant—my uncle, I suppose he is, though it's the first time I knew I had one. You see he's my father's elder brother."

Paddy looked up suddenly.

"Then you'll have to go, too, Tom," he said, in a broken voice. "Ye'll both go, and what will I be doing without ye? What will I do at all?"

The Unsigned Letter

IF Tom felt this new blow he did not show it. All his thoughts were for Nettles.

"But surely to goodness," he said, "this new uncle won't take everything from you?"

"I don't know whether he can, but I know jolly well that my father won't try to keep anything. But don't worry; we shall manage to live somehow. My mother has a little money, and I'll turn to and earn my living one way or another."

"It's too awful for you," groaned Tom.

"Never mind, Tom," said Nettles. "I'm a pig to be grousing like this, and it's just as bad for you as for me. But perhaps things may not be quite as bad as we think. Don't let's talk about it any more, anyhow. Dad's coming down tomorrow. He says so in his letter. Let's hang on and be cheerful until we see what he's got to say about it."

They tried, but it was not easy. The idea of leaving the school was like a nightmare to them, and poor Paddy was just as disconsolate as the other two. In the shock of this new discovery Tom actually forgot all about Harney, and the fact that, as soon as the boy was well enough to see him, he himself would have to interview the Head.

That was the worst day that the three friends had known. None of them had the heart to do anything particular beyond necessary work, and, though they did not talk much of what had happened, their minds were full of it. But the longest days come to an end, and luckily it takes a good deal to keep healthy youngsters awake. Tom, at least, slept well enough, and woke feeling all the better.

Mr. Netley's train was due about 11:30, and as the boys came out of morning school they were told by the sergeant that he was waiting in the visitors' room.

Nettles wanted to take Tom with him, but Tom would not hear of it.

"I'm only an outsider," he said sharply. "If your father wants to see me later, all right. But he'll expect you first."

It was only a few weeks since Nettles had last seen his father, but the boy was shocked at the change in him. His face was lined and haggard, and he looked years older.

"You had my letter, Jack," said Mr. Netley, "so you know what has happened."

"Yes, Father, I've had it. My uncle is alive, then."

"Without a doubt. I have had proofs which satisfy me completely, and under the circumstances there is nothing to do but to turn everything over to him. Your grandfather, my father, made no will, and I inherited everything as the only surviving son. Standish Netley was my half-brother, a good deal older than I, and I really had hardly ever seen him. He went abroad when I was still at school.

"For years he wrote occasionally, and we heard he was married and had one son. But he never came back to England. Some fourteen years ago he wrote that he was going to Yucatan, which is a part of Mexico. After that his letters ceased completely. A year later came the news that he and his party had been waylaid and wiped out by the Maya Indians. I made all possible enquiries, and satisfied myself that the account was true. It was just then that your grandfather died, so, in the natural course of things. I inherited.

"Now comes the news that he was not killed, but taken prisoner; that he has regained his liberty, and returned to England."

"Did he write himself?" questioned Nettles.

"No. That is the odd part of it. The proofs come from a firm of solicitors, Mainwaring & Mansford."

"Mansford?" repeated Nettles sharply. "That's the name of the boy who is always so down on Tom and me. It was he who first found out that Tom wasn't really the son of old Dan Cosby."

Mr. Netley frowned.

"That's curious. Can he possibly have anything to do with this?"

"I should think it's jolly likely. He hates us all, Father, and I believe he'd do anything to spite us." He paused, and passed his hand across his forehead. "There's more in this than we can see yet, Dad."

"There may be, Jack, but do not deceive yourself. The proofs that your uncle Standish is alive are beyond any doubt. Nothing can save us from having to give up everything to him."

At that moment there was a tap at the door. One of the school waiters came in.

"A note for you, sir," he said, handing a letter to Mr. Netley. "There is no answer."

Mr. Netley opened and read it, and Jack saw a look of utter amazement cross his face. Without a word he handed it to his son.

These were the words printed in a disguised hand on a single sheet of paper:


The "Mystery Man" Explains

JACK NETLEY read the words twice over. Then he looked up quickly to his father.

"This is Mansford's work," he said quite quietly.

"How do you mean?" asked Mr. Netley, utterly mystified.

"Tom was rescued from the wreck of the Carnforth," explained Nettles, quickly. "The Carnforth came from Rio. Mansford was there when Dan told us. It was that day that Paddy and I nearly got blown out to sea. Mansford put his father on to it. His father is a lawyer, I know, and he must have worked the whole thing."

"I suppose you are right," said Mr. Netley wearily. "Well if this statement is true, I am glad it is Tom who inherits. He is a good fellow. But what about his father? Where is he? Why has he not claimed Tom? Tom does not seem to know anything about him."

"I can't understand that," said Nettles. "It's very strange. But we must see Tom, and find out what he's got to say."

"You are right. We must see him at once. Go and find him, Jack."

Nettles hurried out. He went to the class-room, the school-room, the box-room. There was no sign either of Tom or Paddy. He asked several boys. No one knew where they were. Then he went out into the quadrangle, and the first person he met was Mansford. Mansford's look was so full of triumphant malice that there was no need for words. Feeling rather sick, Nettles hurried past.

Suddenly two people came hurrying in through the gates, a tall man and a boy. Nettles saw that they were Captain Gunn and Paddy. Captain Gunn saw Nettles and shouted to him.

"Where's your father?" he demanded in his great, deep voice.

"In the visitors' room. Do you want him?"

"At once—this minute. Show me the way."

Nettles stared. He had never before seen the captain so excited.

He led the way, and Captain Gunn followed. Paddy dropped back. Nettles opened the door for the captain.

"Father," he said, "I can't find Tom, but Captain Gunn wants to see you."

The two stood facing one another for a moment. Then Captain Gunn put out his hand. "You've forgotten me, Burton, haven't you?" he said.

For a moment there was complete silence. Then at last Mr. Netley took the proffered hand.

"You must be Standish," he answered quietly.

"Yes; I am your brother Standish," said the captain. "Though, to tell you the truth, I never meant you to know it. You never would have if that wretched fellow Mansford had not got his fingers into the pie."

Mr. Netley stared in amazed silence. "Why not?" he asked at last.

"You ought to know, Burton. Surely you didn't think that I was going to turn up after all these years only to upset you and your wife and the boy here? Heavens, man, what did you take me for?"

"I—I never knew you," stammered the other.

"You certainly didn't," replied the captain drily, "or you would have known that I should never have dreamed of turning you out of the property you have managed so excellently all this time. But now that Mansford has forced our hands, an explanation is necessary.

"Fourteen years ago I sent Tom and his mother home in the Carnforth. The ship, as you know, was wrecked, and, I believed, lost with all hands. That nearly finished me, and in despair I took my life in my hands and went to Yucatan. As you know, the Maya Indians attacked us, and all were killed except myself. I was taken prisoner, and for twelve years lived like a savage.

"Then I escaped, but, knowing you believed me to be dead, took an assumed name and settled here at Claycroft. I made the acquaintance of Jack, and knew he was your son, but it was not until I discovered that Tom Cosby was my son that I began to regret I could not reveal myself.

"Still, when you took charge of his education I became the more resolved not to do so. But it was not to be, and I don't think I am altogether sorry. The boys, at any rate, will be glad to know that they are cousins. Apart from that, everything must go on as before."

"But the property, Standish," broke in Mr. Netley. "You are the elder. It must be yours."

"It mustn't be anything of the sort," retorted the other. "All remains as it is. I made a good deal of money in Brazil. I am probably as well off as you. Tom will have all he needs, and more. I shall refuse to take a penny."

Mr. Netley dropped into a chair.

His brother laid a great brown hand on his shoulder.

"Steady, old chap! Don't think I am making any sacrifice, Burton. There's no need to take it seriously. A brother means a good deal to a lonely man like me. Besides, now I can tell Tom the truth. Come on. Let's go and find him."

They went out, all three together, and at the bottom of the stairs Tom himself came running towards them.

"Nettles, where are you? I want to see you," he cried.

"And we want to see you," replied Mr. Netley. "Tom, I want to introduce you to your father."

Tom stopped as if shot. Captain Gunn stepped forward.

"Will you accept me as your father, lad?" he asked.

It took but a few words to convince Tom, and the happy light in his eyes made Nettles feel quite choky. For a few moments the two talked eagerly.

"So you see," said his father at last, "this fellow Mansford has really done us a good turn. He has given me a son and you a cousin and a whole lot of relations. Still, he's a bad egg, and I rather wish we could give him the punishment which he deserves."

"But we can," cried Tom—"we can. I was looking for Nettles to tell him I'd just seen Harney in the hospital. And Harney has owned up. He's told everything."

Tom's father started slightly. "Was he the burglar?" he asked.

"He and Mansford. They seem to have suspected that you had something to do with me, and they searched your study for papers—not money. Then when I came in they threw the rug over me and choked me and tied me up."

"Then we've got 'em both!" cried the captain in his great voice.

"Yes, Father"—Tom used the word quite naturally—"but please let Harney off lightly. He's had such a scare that I'm sure he won't play the fool again."

"Very good, Tom. We'll let him off, but I'll have no mercy on Mansford. He's a thorough bad influence in the school, and, with the Doctor's consent, he shall go at once. I'll go and see Dr. Colston myself."

When the captain started doing things there was no need for anyone else to take a hand. That evening Mansford left the school, and never was seen again at Claycroft.

His removal broke up his set completely. The rest, thoroughly scared, took to games and work, and Tom, who now calls himself Tom Gunn, and is captain of the school cricket, takes great pleasure in seeing that they turn out to games every half-holiday afternoon. Even Harney plays cricket regularly.

Tom and Paddy and Nettles are never far apart. Even the holidays they spend at one another's house.

As for the captain, he is the happiest man alive. His house is always full of boys.

Nor is old Dan forgotten. Two or three times a term the three invade his cottage, and sometimes he comes up the river in his motorboat, and visits the captain in state.


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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